Comments from the Top (Executive Director of Broadcasting)

Summary of Press Conference (June, 2020)

  • On the June 7th broadcast

    (Comments by MASAGAKI Satoru, Executive Director of Broadcasting)

    I would like to comment on the criticism and other concerns that NHK has received regarding the computer animation clip from NHK’s domestic program “Kore-de-wakatta Sekai-no-Ima” that we carried on the program’s Twitter account.
    In the program’s broadcast on June 14th, the head of the international news division apologized to viewers for the clip, and explained the points that we reflected on and the actions we are taking in light of the case. NHK also carried an apology on the program’s website in Japanese and English.
    Today, I would like to apologize again. It is extremely regrettable for NHK to have brought about such a situation, as we should respect human rights and diverse values and contribute to realizing a society free of discrimination as a public service media.
    On Friday, June 12th, we held a meeting of our broadcast ethics committee to look into why this all happened.
    First of all, I must say that we lacked the stance of holding thorough discussions and carefully deliberating how to report on the issue of discrimination and racism.
    On top of that, there were two main points.
    One was that we lacked awareness of whether the description in the clip was appropriate, and how it might be received in and outside Japan.
    Another was that we did not fully understand how an animation clip that was part of a TV program would spread after being carried on a social networking service, and what kind of effects it might have.
    Based on such reflections, I have issued a document in the name of the executive director of broadcasting to all broadcast stations and divisions, for all NHK employees and staff involved in broadcasting to follow. It specifies the precautions to be taken in line with the latest case.
    The instructions are as follows:

    • We will take meticulous care so that dramatization clips and pictures regarding race, ethnic groups and others are not presented in a discriminatory way.
    • When we carry clips online, we will give careful consideration to how the clips will be received by people who see them, and will carefully decide whether it is appropriate to carry them online.
    • Because the latest case resulted from a lack of sufficient checking, we will implement multiple checks, involving people in and outside NHK, when we take up such issues as race, ethnic groups, nations, religion and gender.
    • As for employees and staff working in our broadcast and internet divisions, we are carrying out training and discussions to deepen their understanding of the problems of the latest case and the precautions to be taken. The training has already begun.

    We are stopping the use of computer animation clips in “Kore-de-wakatta Sekai-no-Ima,” and are seeking an alternative presentation method.
    We understand that much of the criticism and other comments that we received this time raise questions about our basic stance as a public service media.
    All employees and other staff members involved in NHK’s broadcasting will take the lessons learned this time to heart. We will strengthen our efforts to develop a sense of whether our words and expressions could be perceived as discriminatory. We will actively cover controversial issues such as race, ethnicity, nations and religion, and continue to strive to accurately report them to our viewers.

  • Programs related to the new coronavirus
    NHK Special “Jintai vs Virus – Kyoi no Meneki Network (The Body vs the Virus – The Wonder of the Immune Network)”
    “Sekai Ju-dai Kaigi (World Teenager Conference)”
    BS1 Specials related to new coronavirus

    (Comments by MASAGAKI Satoru)

    Even though the state of emergency has been lifted, the threat of the new coronavirus has not disappeared. As a public service broadcaster and public service media organization, we would like NHK to be a provider of broadcasts and services which are useful in preventing the spread of infections.
    On July 4th, an NHK Special “Tamori - Yamanaka Shinya ‘Jintai vs Virus’ – Kyoi no Meneki Network (Tamori and Yamanaka Shinya ‘The Body vs the Virus’ – The Wonder of the Immune Network)” will be broadcast. In this episode of the ‘Jintai (The Body)’ series, Tamori and Professor Yamanaka Shinya will team up for a deep dive into the mysteries of the new coronavirus. The result of countless battles against viruses in the history of human life since its birth 4 billion years ago, there exists in our bodies a delicate network of defenses against viruses, known as the immune system. However, we now know that the new coronavirus disrupts the usual functions of the immune system one by one. For example, when cells in our body become infected with a virus, the immune system releases chemical warning signals to call antibodies to fight the infection, but the new coronavirus has a complex structure that prevents that happening.
    What exactly is the new coronavirus? What is really necessary to boost the effectiveness of the immune system? With footage of the microscopic world inside the body shot through the latest 8K microscope and portrayed vividly utilizing detailed CG, the program will examine how to survive the pandemic from the unique viewpoint of Tamori and Yamanaka.

    “Sekai Ju-dai Kaigi (World Teenager Conference)” will be shown over two consecutive weeks on July 2nd and 9th.
    As infections of the new coronavirus spread, what are teenagers of the world feeling, what kind of environment are they living in? Teenagers living in various countries will discuss their real opinions via self-recorded video messages. The participants are young people between the ages of 13 and 18 from seven countries and regions including Japan, Taiwan, Brazil and the U.S. As translations of the video messages are delivered to the participants, the discussion will intensify. ‘Why does everyone react differently to isolating at home?’, ‘Are online classes actually really cool?’, ‘One event after another is getting cancelled, what will become of what are supposed to be important memories for us?’ and other topics will be covered to facilitate mutual understanding and empathy transcending race, language and culture.
    And in BS1 Specials, in the midst of the pandemic, what will happen with the restarting of the global economy; 120 days in the city of New York, which suffered an explosion of infections; and the situation in Brazil, where the virus is spreading among the poor, will all be covered in these documentary programs.

  • Summer special feature programs
    BS1 Special “Moshi 75-nen Mae ni SNS ga Attara – Tsubuyaki Kara Mieru Senso to Genbaku (If Social Media Existed 75 Years Ago – The War and Atomic Bombing via Tweets)”
    Drama & Document “Fuyo-Fukyu no Ginga (The World of Non-Essential and Non-Urgent)”

    (Comments by WAKAIZUMI Hisaaki, Deputy Executive Director of Broadcasting)

    I would like to talk about two programs from the list of ‘summer special feature programs’.
    First, the BS1 Special “Moshi 75-nen Mae ni SNS ga Attara – Tsubuyaki Kara Mieru Senso to Genbaku (If Social Media Existed 75 Years Ago – The War and Atomic Bombing via Tweets)”, which will be broadcast on August 3rd.
    Since March this year, NHK has been sending out Tweets from its official account based on journals written in Hiroshima 75 years ago, with the text converted into contemporary language. In this documentary program, the Tweets sent out about the lives of people during the war are turned into illustrations and CG footage, along with looking at how the young people in Hiroshima who participated used social media and view the war and the atomic bombing.
    The journals were written by three people: a young boy aged 13 at the time, a newly married wife and a man who was a newspaper reporter. The journals were given to 11 people aged between 16 and 44 who were born or are living in Hiroshima, who were divided into three groups, which were responsible for Tweeting out what was written in them on the same days and dates the entries were made. The members reenacted the events written in the journals to fire up their imagination and discussed how to compose their Tweets. The journals included entries on the horrendous scenes after the atomic bomb was dropped on August 6th. What did the young people living today feel when reading these journals and what kind of words did they use on social media? This original style documentary presents a sense of how the world of 75 years ago and now overlaps.
    Furthermore, in terms of programs that make us think about war and peace, we are scheduled to broadcast NHK Specials and others, the details of which will be announced as soon as they are finalized.
    Another program, to be broadcast on July 23rd, is composed of a drama section and a documentary section, Drama & Document “Fuyo-Fukyu no Ginga (The World of Non-Essential and Non-Urgent)”
    The drama section is based on an original script by author and comedian Matayoshi Naoki and portrays the friction within a family which runs a bar during the time of stay-home orders due to the spread of the new coronavirus, and the romantic troubles of the pubescent son. The male lead is played by Lily Franky. The other element of the program, the documentary section, shows the production of the drama. The drama is shot on a studio set, but the production is heavily impacted by the spread of the new coronavirus; the cameras follow how the production progresses.

  • "#Achi-kochi no Suzu-san (#Suzu-san Here and There)"

    (Comments by KOIKE Hideo, Deputy Executive Director of Broadcasting)

    NHK is carrying on from its campaign of recent years “#(hashtag) Achi-kochi no Suzu-san (#Suzu-san Here and There)”. This campaign began in the summer before last on “Close-Up Gendai Plus” and looks at ordinary people’s wartime experiences through the prism of Suzu-san, the lead character in the anime film “Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni (In This Corner of the World)”. The way it works is that young people post on social media about experiences from the war involving their families with the hashtag #Achi-kochi no Suzu-san as a way of passing on these of wartime stories to the next generation.
    The campaign has teamed up with various programs, such as “Close-Up Gendai Plus” and “Asaichi”. As part of this, on August 13th a special feature program “#Achi-kochi no Suzu-san – Wakamono ga Kataru Senso (#Suzu-san Here and There – Young People Talk About the War)” will be broadcast. The Radio 1 “Rajira!” program, which is popular among young people, will be presented by Yaotome Hikaru and Inoo Kei of Hey! Say! JUMP, who will report on the stories posted on social media. The episodes will also be recreated through animated videos and illustrations, which will be presented on other programs participating in the campaign.
    This year, the campaign will tackle the theme of ‘passing on wartime experiences’ by teaming up with local media, reference libraries and digital media, with the slogan of ‘Achi-kochi no Suzu-san’ in a collaborative effort.
    By connecting with various media, the aim is to make it easier for young people to contribute. We would like “Achi-kochi no Suzu-san” to be a way to expand the ways to connect the next generation with ‘memories of the war’.

  • no art, no life in Kibo no Sono (The Garden of Hope)

    (Comments by HAYASHI Rie, Deputy Executive Director of Broadcasting)

    On BS4K and BS8K, the “no art, no life in Kibo no Sono (The Garden of Hope)” documentary, which documents the free and unique world of art, will be broadcast.
    The setting for the program is The Garden of Hope support facility for people with impairments, located in Mie prefecture. The works and creations of the many distinctive artists at the facility are recorded in 8K. The works include idiosyncratic artistic expression, such as a woman with cerebral palsy who paints numerous pictures of birds and man who began painting pictures of fairies when he was asked by them to do so as a child, and continues to paint them now. Being up close with the works of these artists who continually express themselves freely is a look into a world that is ‘somehow hard to grasp, but somehow incredible’, filmed in the kind of detail that only 8K footage can deliver. The narrator is Uchida Yayako.