On the response to Japan’s COVID-19 state of emergency
(Comments by MAEDA Terunobu, President)
The Japanese government has extended and expanded the coronavirus state of emergency. The declaration covers 6 prefectures and will go until the end of this month. The list of prefectures subject to priority measures to prevent the spread of disease has also expanded. We recognize that the situation is becoming increasingly severe.
NHK is the only “designated public institution” among broadcasters. As a public service media organization, we will continue to deliver broadcasting and services to ‘protect lives and livelihoods’. The broadcast of “Close-up Gendai+” on the 11th was shifted from 10 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. and covered the growing danger of the virus variants and how their higher contagiousness has led to an increase in serious cases among people in their 50s or younger. We are continuing the ‘Shin-gata Corona Inochi o Mamoru Kodo o’ campaign. We also provide information on topics including ‘what to watch out for after receiving the vaccine’ and ‘the effectiveness of vaccines on the virus variants’ through mini-programs and online. In terms of program production and reporting, we have been implementing infection prevention measures based on NHK’s action guidelines, and we will further enhance our safety management.
On the public service media campaign ‘Suigai kara Inochi o Mamoru’
(Comments by MAEDA Terunobu)
As part of NHK’s public service media campaign ‘Bosai – Gensai’, the ‘Suigai kara Inochi o Mamoru’ campaign will launch on the 13th of this month. In recent years, large-scale floods have been occurring almost every year in Japan, causing serious damage in many areas. To reduce the damage caused by floods, it is important to provide information tailored to the different situations of each areas, so this year, our local stations will deliver more detailed information. Specifically, as a new measure designed to make people more aware of the danger of floods, NHK will launch a project called ‘Jikkan! Hazard Map’. We will create visualizations of various kinds of damage caused by flooding and, in addition to broadcasting them, we will produce posters with local governments to let many people know about the risks of floods. Our aim is to encourage as many people as possible to take action to protect their own lives.
(Comments by the project manager)
The most important factor in protecting lives from floods is early evacuation. When, with whom, where, and how should people evacuate? The local stations will be sending out information on early evacuation. In Kyushu, where the flooding season comes early, measures based on lessons learned from past disasters and information about evacuating during the pandemic will be broadcast in the 6 p.m. news shows and feature programs on Friday evenings. The Kumamoto and Oita stations are planning a feature program on so-called ‘inclusive disaster prevention’, an effort to make sure that nobody, including the elderly and people with disabilities, is left behind. The Metropolitan Department is planning a feature program titled “Kawa Shiri – Anata no Machi no Bosai Navi” to inform people about the characteristics and dangers of ‘Class A rivers’ (designated by the government as particularly important) at the time of heavy rainfall, so that people can be prepared for emergencies. Such information from local stations will be broadcast across the country until the typhoon season finishes at the end of October. And we are also putting efforts into urging people think about what they would do themselves if a flood happens. One part of this is the ‘Jikkan! Hazard Map’ project that the president mentioned earlier. The project uses an app that can show the depth of a predicted flood laid over images of an actual landscape. We will also create visualizations of the dangers of actual flood damage in our programs. The material may be used in special classes at elementary schools, on posters created in cooperation with local governments, and on notices to be displayed on local bulletin boards. We will expand this initiative throughout Japan in cooperation with local governments.
And in terms of nationwide broadcasts, various programs including “Science ZERO”, “Kyo no Kenko”, “BS1 Special” and “Bosai – Fukko Ashita o Mamoru Navi” are being produced. On our ‘Suigai kara Inochi o Mamoru’ website, we will upload videos on topics such as information and knowhow at time of disasters so that they can be used in disaster prevention courses held by local governments or study sessions by the community. Through these efforts, we will move forward in fulfilling our role as a public service media that supports safety and security.
On the ‘NHK STRL Open House 2021’
(Comments by MAEDA Terunobu)
The NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories (STRL) is a research facility specializing in the field of broadcast technologies. It is engaged in a variety of fundamental research on future broadcast services and universal services to build a richer broadcasting culture. Usually the latest results of the research are presented to the public every year at the ‘Open House’, but to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, this year the exhibition will be available on the STRL website.
(Comments by the project manager)
The exhibition will run for a month from June 1st to 30th. By holding the event online, more people will be able to view it easily from anywhere. This year will be the 74th edition of the ‘Open House’, and the theme will be ‘Kiwameru Gijutsu, Takamaru Taikan’ or ‘Pursuing science and technology. Enriching your experience’ in English. 17 research and development results will be introduced.
One of these is a ‘space-sharing content viewing system’, which is a system that allows people in different places to view the same content as if they were watching it together. This exhibit will show two people in different places enjoying cultural-heritage content together.
Another exhibit will be ‘future immersive VR display’. It uses a wrap-around flexible display, which has a 180-degree field of view in front of the viewer, and a vibrating chair synchronised with the images and audio to create an immersive experience of being inside the content. With this system, people can enjoy the experience of feeling like they have travelled to the place on the screen while staying at home. The exhibit will create the experience of sitting in the driver’s seat of a tram traveling through Amsterdam. Researchers are also working on ‘media accessibility technologies’ to deliver content in easy-to-understand ways to people with hearing and visual disabilities. We will introduce haptic devices that vibrate according to the scene on the program, and a system that automatically generates sign-language CG for weather information. In addition, there will be lectures on future broadcasting and media technologies, and videos of ‘lab talks’ from researchers.