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.
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