50 Years of NHK Television

Accurate and Reliable Reprting

In the 50 years since the birth of Japanese TV, many live transmissions of major incidents and events have kept viewers glued to their sets. Attaching great importance to the development of advanced broadcasting technology, NHK has constantly endeavored to improve the quality of its live newscasts.

Emergency broadcasting, reinforcing TV news

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The Emperor's last 111 days
On the evening of September 19, 1988, news broke about the declining health of Emperor Hirohito. Subsequently it was revealed that the Emperor had vomited blood and received a blood transfusion. This was the start of 111 days of special reports. For the first time, Japanese TV covered every aspect of a crucial period of national transition, from the final illness of one emperor to the inauguration of the next.

The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake
At 5:46 a.m. on January 17, 1995, a major earthquake struck the Kobe area. NHK immediately started providing emergency coverage on both radio and television. In addition to continual updates on the damage caused, information was broadcast on the safety and whereabouts of missing people, and many facts were disseminated to assist the relief and recovery program. In the first month after the earthquake, NHK broadcast 273 hours 15 minutes of earthquake-related news and other programs nationwide, and 354 hours 46 minutes on its local service in the region affected.

Hostage crisis in Peru
In December 1996, an armed anti-government group seized the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima, Peru and took hostages. This incident on the other side of the globe was covered for 127 days until Peruvian army special forces stormed the embassy. In January 1997, NHK installed a Fly-Away antenna in Lima. This device, which can be set up quickly, made possible a satellite link for the transmission of news pictures from Peru to Japan.


War and terrorism
The 50 years of Japanese television have coincided with half a century of warfare. The Vietnam War, which began in the 1960's, was widely regarded as the first TV war. In 1990, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait triggered a new crisis, and on January 17, 1991, television showed the U.S.-led multinational force bombarding the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. During the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, NHK's News 10 carried live pictures of the second plane as it crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.

Japan-North Korea Summit
On September 17, 2002, NHK presented 15 hours of programs on the historic summit between Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Il. The summit, the first of its kind, was followed by extensive coverage of the abduction by North Korea of Japanese citizens in the 1970's, and then the return of some of them to Japan. NHK continues to provide in-depth coverage of this issue.

The ENG revolution
The so-called "bura-sagari" style of gathering soundbites from politicians is a prominent feature of news coverage in Japan. Emerging from even quite routine meetings, politicians are quickly surrounded by jostling journalists, fishing for comments. This type of news gathering has been common ever since the key merging of conservative forces in the mid-1950's. But following the introduction of compact electronic news gathering (ENG) equipment in the late 70's, live and sometimes contentious remarks began to proliferate. This raised the likelihood of such wars of words as the "40-day conflict" between the Ohira and Fukuda factions of the Liberal Democratic Party in 1979. As comments by politicians were now being conveyed directly to the public, it became essential for TV reporters to focus more on background, context and hidden agendas.

Data inserts
L-shaped space at the side Television is one of the most reliable ways to share important information with the public. When a typhoon was about to hit the Japanese mainland in late 1997, NHK used a reverse L-shaped space at the side and bottom of the TV screen to transmit continually updated news about the storm. Shrinking the main picture slightly to create this space turned out to offer an extremely effective way of broadcasting information at a time of emergency, and it had the supplementary effect of raising public awareness of data broadcasting and its value.

50 Years of NHK News1953-'79
50 Years of NHK News 1980-2003

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