NHK WORLD

The Dawn of Overseas Broadcasting

Major developments in international broadcasting The Dawn of Overseas Broadcasting

1935[International Broadcasting Begins in Japan]-1940s

Major developments in international broadcasting  1935[International Broadcasting Begins in Japan in]-1940s

1950s-70s

Major developments in international broadcasting 1950s-70s

1980s-90s

Major developments in international broadcasting 1980s-90s

2000-2015

Major developments in international broadcasting 2000-2015

1952-1959 Showa 27-34

International Broadcasting Resumes as Radio Japan

CHRONICLE  >  1952–1959 >  International Broadcasting Resumes as Radio Japan  | Radio Japan’s Voice Reporting on World That Has Changed

Tables of major events

’52
  • 1/18. Syngman Rhee Line set.
  • 2/1. Overseas broadcasting resumes as Radio Japan.
  • 4/28. Peace and Japan-U.S. Security Treaties take effect.
  • 11/1. U.S. hydrogen-bomb test succeeds.
’53
  • 6/18. Republic of Egypt established.
  • 2/1. NHK begins TV broadcasting.
  • 7/27. Korean War Armistice signed.
’54
  • 2/1. Marilyn Monroe visits Japan.
  • 3/1. Daigo Fukuryu-maru exposed to nuclear fallout from U.S. H-bomb test.
  • 4/1. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park built.
’55
  • 4/18. 1st Asian-African Conference. 29 nations take part.
  • 8/6. 1st World Conference Against A-and H-bombs held in Hiroshima.
  • 10. LDP formed. Socialist Party unified.
’56
  • 5. Japanese team makes 1st ascent of Mt. Manaslu.
  • 7. “No longer post-war,” economic white paper says.
  • 12/12. Japan, Soviet Union normalize ties.
  • 12/18. Japan joins U.N.

More

REPORTING ON A DEMOCRATIC JAPAN TO WORLD

In 1951, Japan rejoined the world with the San Francisco Peace Treaty. In 1952, international broadcasting resumed as Radio Japan. Concentrating on accurate and objective reporting, it played a role in conveying to the world the new Japan as a democratic country seeking understanding and trust.

Restarting as Radio Japan

English announcers for Radio Japan.

English announcers for Radio Japan.

9/8/51. Signing ceremony of San Francisco Peace Treaty, Chief Delegate PM Shigeru Yoshida, last to sign.

9/8/51. Signing ceremony of San Francisco Peace Treaty, Chief Delegate PM Shigeru Yoshida, last to sign.

On February 1, 1952, international broadcasting resumed in Japan as Radio Japan after it was suspended for about six years under a GHQ order.

Japan was increasingly enthusiastic about this. After it signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty in September the year before, Japan felt the need to present to the world its new path as an independent state.

After a test, full broadcasting began on February 10. To mark the occasion, the NHK Symphony Orchestra broadcast “Prelude to Peace.”

“A Path for a Peace-Loving Nation”

In its news, Radio Japan strived to report facts accurately and objectively. In its current events programs, it put emphasis on telling the world about how Japan was coping on its path to becoming a democratic, peaceful nation. Radio Japan aired documentaries on fundamental changes taking place as a result of democratic reforms such as ensuring freedom of speech, dissolving zaibatsu, or powerful financial and industrial conglomerates, and removing pre-war leaders from public offices. Those programs included “The Imperial Family and the Emperor as a Human Being,” “Educational Reform and Now,” and “Agriculture after Land Reform.”

There were also programs on Japanese culture, interviews with foreign guests and lessons in Japanese. Music from Japan gave pleasure to Japanese people living abroad. A man in Hawaii said, “Listening to music directly from Japan makes me feel so close to my homeland. Such music and the announcer’s smooth way of speaking Japanese make me so happy.”

In Japanese and English in Five Directions

Radio Japan began broadcasting in Japanese and English, each for 30 minutes, in five directions -- to North America, North China, Central China, the Philippines-Indonesia and India-Pakistan. One listener in Indonesia said in a letter to Radio Japan, “I am very interested in your programs. We can hear them very clearly here. I’m enjoying half an hour of news, news analyses and music. News analyses are especially interesting. If people listen to them, I’m sure they will learn more about Japan. It will be great if this broadcasting helps our two nations understand each other even better.”

Reports in those days indicate that Radio Japan had listeners in Hawaii, California, Shanghai, India, and even New Zealand and Sweden.

Nazaki/Yamata Transmitting Stations
Control Room of Yamata Transmitting Station (1955).

Control Room of Yamata Transmitting Station (1955).

On June 1, 1935, Japan’s first regular international broadcasting was transmitted from Nazaki Transmitting Station in the village of Nazaki (now Koga City) in Ibaraki Prefecture for western North America at 20 kW. Two years later, a 50 kW transmitting machine was added to air to South America, Europe and Southwest Asia.

Yamata Transmitting Station (now in Koga City) was planned specifically for overseas service. It was built two km south-west of Nazaki Transmitting Station. On January 1, 1941, it began to air to North America, Europe and China at 50 kW.

While overseas broadcasting was suspended, the two stations were used to broadcast for the Allied Forces or as shortwave telephone circuits. All the while, they were preparing to broadcast again by transporting their equipment back from where it had been stored to keep it safe from air raids. On February 1, 1952, Nazaki and Yamata Stations resumed airing overseas with a 50 kW machine each.

In May 1971, Yamata Station became Japan’s sole facility for Japan’s international broadcasting. Nazaki Station has ended its role.

Radio Japan’s Voice
Reporting on World That Has ChangedColonies in Asia and Africa now Independent

Tables of major events

’57
  • 2/1. NHK broadcasts to Japanese research expedition’s Showa Base in Antarctica.
  • 10/4. Soviet Union launches 1st man-made satellite, Sputnik.
’58
  • 1/1. EEC established.
  • 8/6. 1st call to ban A- and H-bombs at Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima
  • 12/1. 10-thousand-yen notes issued.
  • 12/23. Tokyo Tower completed.
’59
  • 1/10. NHK Educational TV starts.
  • 4/10. Crown Prince Akihito marries.
  • 4/22. Broadcast Law amended. Overseas broadcasting defined as NHK’s essential work.
  • 9. Isewan Typhoon

SENDING ENCOURAGING MESSAGES AND ENTERTAINMENT TO JAPANESE ABROAD

Japan’s interaction with the world had been limited for nearly 20 years because of war and occupation. So, for people in Japan, fellow Japanese trying to achieve something in foreign lands were symbols of hope.Radio Japan sent special broadcasts for the Antarctic Expedition and the Manaslu climbing team to encourage those taking on challenges in harsh environments.

World Has Changed, Asian Countries Now Independent

4/18/55. First Asia-Africa Conference.

4/18/55. First Asia-Africa Conference.

When international broadcasting resumed, the world it was reporting had changed a great deal. Before the war, many Asian countries were colonies of Western nations such as Britain, France, the U.S. and the Netherlands. Now, with racial pride and a zest for independence, they were determined never to be colonized again. The big powers were divided into East and West. The Cold War had set in. In 1955, the leaders of 29 Asian and African nations met in Bandung in Indonesia for the first Asian-African conference. India’s PM Nehru, Indonesia’s President Sukarno, China’s Premier Zhou Enlai and Egyptian President Nasser took the lead. The conference adopted ten principles of peace siding with neither the East nor the West and calling for a departure from colonial rule. The principles were handed down to the first summit of Non-Aligned Movement in September 1961.

1960 was called the Year of Africa; 17 nations became independent. Many countries in the world were filled with enthusiasm for building new nations just as Japan. And there were many listeners, too. Japan was freed from the occupation press code and regained the right to broadcast freely.

Broadcasting for Antarctic Expedition

In 1956, Japan dispatched its first Antarctic expedition to study astronomy, weather and geology on the continent. Radio Japan decided to air programs for its members to help support this national project. The first broadcast was for 30 minutes from 12:30 a.m. on February 1, 1957. It consisted of news, “taped letters” from the families of the members, music and other entertainment, based on what the team had requested.

Voices of Joy from Antarctica

People listening to Radio Japan in Antarctica (7/61). Above right: Families recording (9/57).

People listening to Radio Japan in Antarctica (7/61). Above right: Families recording (9/57).

On the first day of test broadcasting, a long telegram came from the captain of the ship Umitaka-maru, which carried the team to Antarctica. It said, “They are so happy to hear the broadcast they’ve been waiting for. In Antarctica, there are also many whalers. In all, more than 3,000 people face severe natural conditions day and night, and wait to hear voices from their homelands.” Then, the Showa Base was built. Antennas were set to pick up shortwaves. The team said, ”Sensitivity and clarity are excellent. It’s as if we were listening to the radio in Tokyo. We enjoy listening to the radio at the base.”

Manaslu Climbing Team and Broadcast

Kiichiro Kato on top of Mt. Manaslu (5/11/56).

Kiichiro Kato on top of Mt. Manaslu (5/11/56).

In 1955, the Japanese Alpine Club, which was planning to scale Mt. Manaslu in the Himalayas, made a request to NHK. It said, “Let climbers listen to voices from Japan, while climbing.” Radio Japan responded. It used radio waves sent in the direction of the Himalayas and aired songs such as “Calls from Manaslu.” And it sent messages to encourage the climbers.