Comments from the President

Summary of Press Conference (November, 2022)

  • On the Trial Run of Sign Language CG for Weather/Disaster-Prevention Information

    (Comments by MAEDA Terunobu, President)

    In the draft of our revised corporate plan, we stated that we would strengthen efforts to “support safety and security” and “deliver information far and wide.” Today, I would like to introduce a new universal service that we will launch to put this plan into action. Sign language services for people with hearing impairments is a field NHK has been focusing on. The NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories has been developing technology that can automatically generate sign language computer graphics (CG). Using this technology, we began offering automated sign language CG of disaster and weather information on our website. The service started on a trial basis last month. As a public service media organization that has long broadcast the news in sign language, NHK has a wealth of knowledge on the subject. Going forward, we plan to utilize the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence as we make even greater efforts to provide universal services.

    (Comments by the project manager)

    The sign language CG service for disaster and weather information is available on our website’s “Tenki・Bosai Shuwa CG” page. On October 14th, when the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued landslide alert information for Tokyo, the news clip that we distributed online had two-line subtitles, but viewers requested that we avoid overlapping the subtitles and the sign language CG on the screen. We therefore switched to one-line subtitles. This is an example of the way in which we are making improvements based on feedback from viewers as we continue our trial run of the service. On our website, we offer sign language CG of weather reports across the country. For example, when Tokyo is selected as the region, the latest weather information for Tokyo available from the JMA is shown in sign language. Once the system receives weather or disaster data, it combines that data with pre-recorded motion capture data of sign language to automatically generate CG animation. We believe this technology brings us closer to being able to encourage people with hearing impairments to take more precautions and evacuate when the JMA issues information related to heavy rain, tsunami or other disasters. We have also created a page on our website where users can evaluate sign language CG of around 7,000 words. We hope to receive feedback from our viewers who use sign language regarding the accuracy and clarity of the signs, the facial expressions of the CG avatars, and other points as we make improvements to the system in preparation for the full launch of the service in April next year. Efforts to provide universal services utilizing this sign language CG involve the entire NHK group. NHK Enterprises and NHK Global Media Services are considering expanding the service to public transport hubs such as train stations and airports.
    We currently offer sign language CG for weather and disaster reports, but in the future, we would like to be able to support the creation of sign language CG on various subjects. We are currently developing technology in which, when a sentence is input in Japanese, AI translates it into sign language and generates CG animation for it. For the technology’s research and development, we will utilize data that we have accumulated over many years from broadcasts of ETV’s “NHK Shuwa News.” We plan to display the sign language CG at the media event “Inter BEE 2022” that will be held at the Makuhari Messe from November 16th through 18th. Please check the press release and visit the venue if you are interested. We will proceed with continuous enhancements and improvements to fulfill our mission of delivering information far and wide.

  • On NHK’s Year-End Domestic Charity Campaign and Overseas Charity Drive

    (Comments by MAEDA Terunobu)

    I would like to explain the NHK Year-End Domestic Charity Campaign and the NHK Overseas Charity Drive for fiscal 2022. There are only about two months left in this year. The coronavirus pandemic has continued to cast a shadow over the lives of people in this country. Overseas, conflicts and natural disasters are occurring one after another. Against this backdrop, NHK will again cooperate with the Central Community Chest of Japan and the Japanese Red Cross Society this fiscal year to hold the NHK Year-End Domestic Charity Campaign and the NHK Overseas Charity Drive. The theme for this year’s Overseas Charity Drive is “Dare mo Torinokosanai. Funsou kara mo Kiga kara mo.” We will focus especially on the serious humanitarian crisis that has occurred due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the resulting food crisis in Africa. We will also continue our support activities in the Middle East and Bangladesh, which are suffering from prolonged humanitarian crises, and engage in efforts to nurture the abilities of the local communities to help themselves and each other.
    The money raised by the NHK Year-End Domestic Charity Campaign will be used to help not only domestic welfare facilities and those who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but also people who have been evacuated to Japan from Ukraine. Starting this year, a provision has been added to the implementation guidelines that makes it possible to give aid to people who have roots in another country. The charity drives will be held from December 1st through 25th. Last fiscal year, donations to the charities topped a combined 1.3 billion yen. We hope everyone will give generously again this year.