50 Years of NHK Television

50 Years of NHK News

Accurate information is the basis for a safe, smooth-running society. NHK's main aim has always been to respond quickly to domestic and international events and provide information that is accurate and reliable. In times of emergency or disaster, NHK strives to offer information that will help save lives and property.

A fledgling takes to the air

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The start of TV news
Regular television news bulletins have been a feature of Japanese TV since day one. The initial nine minutes of news each day was gradually extended. At first, NHK commissioned companies to produce newsreels on film, but within six months NHK's own news gathering service was already sufficiently robust.

First live outside broadcast
The public began to look forward to live news transmissions of events in which there was strong popular interest. The first live outside broadcast presented the departure of the Crown Prince from the port of Yokohama to attend the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in Britain. This was just two months after the launch of Japanese TV.
A year later, in 1954, NHK used a helicopter for the first time to take newsreel shots from the air of the Nijubashi Incident, a tragedy in which many people in a celebratory New Year crowd were crushed to death.

Politics in the living room
TV debuted in Japan shortly after the end of the Allied Occupation and the start of a new political era for the country. TV provided in-depth coverage of the political situation as events unfolded, including the birth of the
Liberal Democratic Party, an alliance of conservative forces, in 1955, and the merging of the left and right wings of the Japan Socialist Party.
TV news gatherers and producers attached special importance to making news visual. The revision of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty in 1960 was a very controversial issue that divided the nation, and NHK produced a series of special programs focusing on the topic.

The Ise Bay Typhoon
In 1959, a major typhoon coincided with high tide at the port of Nagoya, causing heavy flooding and serious damage. This was the first time in NHK's coverage of natural disasters that a weather forecaster from the Meteorological Agency appeared on TV to describe the route of the typhoon and share related information for use in disaster prevention.

 

Yoshinobu kidnapping
A 1963 kidnapping grabbed public attention because of the absence of physical evidence, with only a threatening phone call as a lead. NHK was asked by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police to help analyze a recording of the caller's voice. The culprit was finally arrested two and a half years later. This was the first kidnapping to be covered extensively on television.

Historic events transmitted live
In the 1970's, satellite technology made it possible for TV viewers in Japan to witness such historic events as U.S. President Richard Nixon's visit to China, Japanese Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei's visit to China, and the signing of the Vietnam Peace Accords in Paris.

Hostage drama
In 1972 came a stand-off with the United Red Army at the Asama-Sanso mountain lodge. Daily coverage climaxed with a showdown and arrests on February 28, scenes of which were broadcast live on television for more than 10 hours from 9:40 a.m.

The Lockheed Scandal
At a hearing of a U.S. Senate investigating committee in February 1976, it was disclosed that Lockheed Corporation was bribing Japanese politicians in order to sell aircraft in Japan.
NHK put together a team of reporters and cameramen from all over Japan to carry out intensive news gathering and reporting for 10 long months as Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei was arrested in July and a general election followed in December of the same year. NHK and other Japanese TV broadcasters chose not to rely solely on information provided by the investigating authorities, preferring instead to conduct their own enquiries.
The 1980's were hailed as a new era for investigative journalism and NHK was in the forefront. Typifying the new approach was the program News Center Special: What Happened in the Cockpit?, which attempted to pinpoint the cause of a Japan Airlines crash.


50 Years of NHK News1953-'79

50 Years of NHK News 1980-2003


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