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2014年1月31日 (金)

NHK会長発言 中立・公正な報道で信頼築け

The Yomiuri Shimbun January 30, 2014
NHK president must build viewer trust through neutral, fair news coverage
NHK会長発言 中立・公正な報道で信頼築け(1月30日付・読売社説)

The new president of NHK should build a relationship of trust with viewers and fulfill his responsibilities as the head of a public broadcaster by continuing its neutral and fair news coverage and program production.

Remarks made by Katsuto Momii, the new president of NHK, during his inaugural press conference have brought on public criticism.

When asked his opinion on the issue of so-called comfort women, Momii said, “It was evil according to today’s moral principles.” However, he added, “Every country at war in the past had such a system” and named Germany and France as examples. He even asked in return why there are still red-light districts in the Netherlands.

It was seen as inappropriate for him to have gone so far as to cite the name of specific countries and to refer to licensed prostitution and the act of prostitution in the present day.

Momii said he made his remarks on the issue “as an individual,” in response to a reporter’s persistent questioning. Nevertheless, it is inevitable that his remarks would be considered thoughtless. Momii’s expression of his personal opinions at a press conference for the new head of a public broadcaster has created confusion.

Yet some of his remarks do not necessarily deserve strong criticism.

“South Korea’s claims that it was only Japan that carried off [such women] by force makes matters more complicated,” he said.

Momii also said: “Internationally speaking, the issue [of compensation for damages during wartime] was resolved completely with the conclusion of the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and South Korea [signed in 1965]. Why has the issue been taken up again and again?”

Compensation settled in ’65

The issue of compensation for former comfort women was resolved at least legally with the conclusion of the bilateral agreement on property claims and economic cooperation in 1965. The Japanese side has implemented further measures for relief, including distributing compensation to former comfort women via the Japanese government-created Asian Women’s Fund. Despite such measures, however, the South Korean side has refused to accept such compensation, with some exceptions.

With regards to NHK’s international broadcasting services, which transmit the network’s programs overseas, Momii said, “We cannot say the opposite of what the government says.” This remark has also drawn criticism that NHK would be playing up the government’s plans.

Yet it is more reasonable than not for NHK’s international broadcasting service, which draws on taxpayers’ money, to transmit the views of the government and to seek understanding abroad.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Momii made his recent remarks “as an individual” and that the government would not investigate them further.

The Board of Governors responsible for overseeing NHK has also decided not to consider potentially asking Momii to resign, but has instead issued a stern warning, saying, “We cannot help but say that Mr. Momii took the position as head of the public broadcaster lightly.” They have probably concluded that there is still space for Momii to recover the public’s faith.

Political and business circles have recently pointed toward bias in NHK’s news coverage, for instance, on the restart of the nation’s idled nuclear power plants, the deployment of U.S. forces’ Osprey transport aircraft and the law concerning the protection of state secrets.

Momii said, “If we continue to follow the principles of the Broadcast Law, we will not simply always do what the government tells us to.”

We hope NHK will pursue the production of programs that meet viewer expectations and hold fast to its neutrality as a public broadcaster.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 30, 2014)
(2014年1月30日01時35分  読売新聞)


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