How 3/11 Will Be Passed Down

Seven Years since the Great East Japan Earthquake: Examining TV Reports

Published: January 2019

Nearly 8 years has passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake that hit Japan on March 11th, 2011. The NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute has been collecting 3/11-related broadcast programs aired since right after the earthquake and those metadata, analyzing their broadcast hours and changes in the content, and continually presenting the findings from the research. As we realized that disasterrelated TV news were intensively broadcast during a week around March 11th, this paper investigates the 3/11-related TV coverage aired in March for seven years from 2012 to 2018 from various angles, by analyzing the metadata and watching the actual programs. For the analysis, we narrowed down the programs to those aired during a week around March 11th, those aired on March 11th, and memorial specials including the report on 2:46 pm—the exact time the quake hit.

ChapterⅡ “Analysis of news and other disaster-related programs aired during a week around 3/11” examines what was conveyed in those reports by studying secular changes in the volume of reports and changes in the nouns and verbs used. Out of three prefectures hit by the 3/11 disaster (Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima), Iwate and Miyagi were reported as having made progress in recovery albeit little by little. However, the volume of coverage on these areas has clearly decreased, and a bias is found that some municipalities such as Ishinomaki City and Rikuzentakata City were covered more frequently than others. TV coverage also indicates that as the reconstruction of tangible elements such as roads and levees has advanced, intangible issues such as stable income and psychological care have become the focus of the recovery. In Fukushima, meanwhile, there have been a number of secondary disasters triggered by the nuclear power plant accident, which curb the decrease in the volume of reports on this area even seven years after the incident, with a number of local cities and towns still being reported on television.

ChapterⅢ “Programs on March 11th” analyzes videos used in TV programs on March 11th, to examine from which locations of disaster-affected areas they were reported, what was shown, and who reported them. The authors also explore the trends over the seven years from the coverage of the moment of silence at 2:46 pm and the closing comments of these memorial specials, which shows certain patterns such that symbolic items implicating the disaster and the nuclear accident were frequently used. It is also confirmed that the initial aim of those TV programs were to show the conditions of the affected areas, but the broadcasters have gradually shifted their focus to the preparedness for future disasters. Finally, ChapterⅣ “Summary and Consideration” sums up the examination and extracts issues for further studies.

The NHK Monthly Report on Broadcast Research

Yumiko HARA / Takashi OTAKA

The Annual Bulletin

in Japanese