The JAPAN PRIZE was established by NHK in 1965 with the aim of enhancing the quality of educational programs and promoting global mutual understanding and cooperation and has served as the one and only international contest devoted to educational broadcast programs and media content. During its over 50-year history, experiencing the change of the times, the JAPAN PRIZE has always communicated to the world that broadcasting and other forms of media can make a social contribution in the field of education.
In the early days of the contest—from its establishment to the late 1970s—a number of countries and regions across the globe had a high hope for the broadcasting media and strived to produce and deliver educational TV and radio programs that would match the situations in each community, in an effort to develop educational systems as a foundation of the countries or regions. Entries in the JAPAN PRIZE in this period were mainly programs teaching school subjects such as science, math, and languages developed for improving school education, along with programs on basic education for adults such as literacy, languages, and vocational trainings.
In the succeeding two decades—the 1980s and 1990s—educational programs became more diversified, reflecting the change in society and that in media, or technological advancement. Among the JAPAN PRIZE entries, programs featuring current issues facing society, such as the environment, cross-cultural understanding, war and peace, drug abuse, HIV-AIDS, bullying and discrimination, issues related to children’s emotional or psychological problems, parent-child or family issues, teacher-student relations, and aging society. This period is also notable in terms that directorial techniques became more creative, using easy-to-understand explanations deploying state-of-the-art image techniques, familiar examples and quiz format, and friendly TV personalities.
After the year 2000, as the diversification of media became more evident, the JAPAN PRIZE decided to go beyond broadcasting, and various types of content that utilized the characteristics of interactive media, including websites and educational games, became eligible to participate. These entries made us feel that the diversification of teaching and learning was well underway. Nevertheless, when looking at the whole entries, we realize that TV programs’ presence remains strong even now, and it is worth noting that programs that provoke thoughts on true awareness and understanding of matters or on themes delving into humanity are highly evaluated.
Since the backgrounds of the people gathering at the JAPAN PRIZE are also becoming more diverse, the contest is expected not only to serve as the occasion where people with different viewpoints and experiences meet and learn from each other, but also to become a hub from which collaborative projects are launched and developed across the borders for contributing to better education and international understanding of the entire world, with an eye on the moves of “education and media” which are expected to change further more.