50 Years of NHK Television

TV Politics

Live broadcasts of the Japanese Diet fulfill the important function of giving voters the chance to see the nation's supreme political body in action. Political Debate provided a forum for officials, party representatives and politicians to debate current political issues from various angles, and paved the way for information disclosure in the Diet. Commentaries always offer a comprehensive yet lucid analysis of current issues.

Accessible politics and economics

News analysis

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Politics in the living room
In the 1950's, Diet Sessions ushered in a landmark change in political reporting. TV cameras were first employed in the Diet experimentally on October 24, 1952. The first broadcast included the selection of Yoshida Shigeru as prime minister.
The live voices of politicians and intense atmosphere of the Diet played an important role in establishing links between people and politics.

Political Debate
Political Debate began as a radio program that emerged from the smoke and ruins of postwar Japan. This TV program, which went on the air in 1957, exemplified the spirit of the new constitution. As Sunday Debate, it continues to this day.
During the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty crisis, political commentator Karashima Kichizo served as the host. His skills in highlighting opposing viewpoints and coaxing opposing political parties into debate were unequalled.
Since then, it has become routine for members of each party's leadership in the Diet to appear on Political Debate, where their pronouncements become instant news, making it a must-see program.

Making economics understandable
In the 1970's, when Japan's era of two-digit annual economic growth came to an end, a new economics show hit the airwaves.
Economics for Everyone, launched in 1971, took up intimidating economic problems from the perspective of the man or woman on the street. Ito Mitsuharu, a scholar of economics, was adept at explaining complex issues clearly.
In 1972, Everyday Economics began. Its "scientific study of lifestyles" focused on many familiar products as it explored a broad spectrum of bread-and-butter economic concerns. Welcoming viewer participation and deeply rooted in everyday life, it enjoyed a 10-year run.

Everyday Economics
Everyday Economics


The aim of commentary is to analyze and explain a matter in a way that makes it readily understandable. News Commentary started airing just one day after full-scale TV broadcasting began in Japan. Today, we have Commentary and Analysis. And the thread linking these programs through the years has always been lucidity. Explaining something simply is no easy task. It requires strong reporting, analytical and communication skills and also experience. In the early days, as there were few in-house commentators with all of those abilities, NHK relied on outside experts. Reference materials from the time suggest that NHK sought outside experts because they were deemed to enhance the authority and reliability of the commentaries.

Hirasawa Kazushige,Analyst
Hirasawa Kazushige,

Half a century later, there are now nearly 50 commentators who are either employed by or otherwise available to NHK. In many instances, the expertise that NHK commentators acquire leads them into university teaching. Through a sustained initiative, NHK has trained a cadre of commentators who are able to express sophisticated content in a way that is easy for non-experts to grasp. In the digital era, such abilities will be even more in demand. Commentary and Analysis is a prominent example of an old-fashioned program format that continues to generate valuable glimpses of the path ahead.

A strong tradition

Chronicling lives and people
The foundation for NHK's various travelogue programs was laid in 1963 with Traveling around Japan.

Traveling around Japan
Traveling around Japan

Could television serve as a contemporary witness of Japan’s changing customs and lifestyles? Traveling around Japan answered this question by transcending conventional travelogues and regional features. With its unerring eye for the bond between people and their environment, the program established a new style of documentary travelogue in 793 editions spanning 18-and-a-half years.


Continuing in the spirit of Traveling around Japan, Japan Travelogue went to air in 1991. Episodes like "The Job Hunters' Train" and "Autumn in the Apple Orchard" helped to focus attention on low-profile regions as Japan underwent wrenching changes following the bursting of the economic bubble. Japan Travelogue prompted a reappraisal of family ties and regional roots.
From 1997, Document Japan was shown every other week, alternating with NHK Special. In 2000, Human Document injected fresh energy into the travelogue legacy.
Over the years, the goal has never changed: a thorough and sympathetic record of contemporary Japanese lives, scenery and lifestyles. The travelogue documentary tradition is still going strong.

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