Reporting on World in TurmoilVietnam War, Cultural Revolution, JAL Hijack
CHRONICLE ＞ 1965–1969 ＞ Reporting on World in Turmoil ｜ Japan as World’s #2 Economic Power “Tell Us More about Japanese”
Tables of major events
- 1/11. 1st smog alert in Tokyo
- 2. Vietnam War begins (~1973). U.S. begins bombing North Vietnam.
- 6/22. Japan-South Korea normalize ties.
- Japan’s trade balance with U.S. turns to surplus in and after 1965.
- 3/31. Japan’s population exceeds 100 million.
- 6/30. Beatles performs at Nippon Budokan.
- 8/18. One million Chinese Red Guards celebrate Cultural Revolution in Beijing.
- People’s dreams “Car, Cooler (air conditioner), Color Television.”
- 6/5. 3rd Arab-Israeli War (Six-Day War)
- 7/1. EC launched.
- 8. Joint declaration signed to establish ASEAN.
- 11/15. Japan-U.S. summit talks. Return of Ogasawara Islands from U.S. announced.
- Prague Spring
- 1/17. U.S. aircraft carrier Enterprise makes port call.
- 6/26. Ogasawara Islands returned from U.S.
- 10/17. Yasunari Kawabata wins Nobel Prize in Literature.
- 12/10. 300-million-yen robbery
- Japan’s GNP 141.9 billion dollars, 2nd largest after U.S. (6/10/1969. Economic Planning Agency)
- 1/18. Campus disorder. Tug of war over U. of Tokyo’s Yasuda Auditorium
- 3/2. China-Soviet Union border dispute
- 5/26. Tomei Expressway opens.
- 7/21. Man’s 1st moon landing by Apollo 11.
- 12/16. Construction minister approves building of Narita Airport.
WORLD MEDIA USING RADIO JAPAN’S NEWS IN THEIR REPORTS
It was a time of turmoil, especially in Asia. Radio Japan reported on the Vietnam War, the Cultural Revolution in China and radical student movements in Japan. It did this on its general service in English and Japanese and regional service in Chinese, Vietnamese and many other languages. World media quoted NHK news on Asia as a primary source.
Tension Mounting in Vietnam, Cultural Revolution in China
2/65. The U.S. began bombing North Vietnam. War between two Vietnams followed the Indochina War. The Vietnam conflict ended in ‘73 amid worldwide protests against the war.
In the mid-1960s, as the situation in Indochina intensified, news about Vietnam increased. In March 1965, NHK expanded its service in Vietnamese from three times a week to every day. In 1965, the U.S. began bombing North Vietnam. In 1968, North Vietnam broke a traditional truce during the Lunar New Year and staged the Tet Offensive. The Vietnam War dragged on.
In China, Mao Zedong, admired as the founder of the People’s Republic of China, failed in his policy known as the Great Leap Forward, which resulted in mass starvation. To reassert his authority, he launched the Cultural Revolution. In a fierce power struggle, many intellectuals and citizens were purged.
Radio Japan’s news on the Vietnam War, the Cultural Revolution and the resignation of then Indonesian president Sukarno in 1966 were based on careful and detailed coverage by NHK correspondents and reporters. They became important sources of information for overseas media. News agencies, newspapers and broadcasters of other countries often attributed their news on Asia to NHK.
Broadcasters in North America asked NHK to let them relay Radio Japan’s news directly in their programs or use its taped materials. NHK granted permission.
Radical Student Movements
In Japan, young people were increasingly protesting the Vietnam War. In 1967, a student was killed in a demonstration against then PM Eisaku Sato’s visit to the U.S. Leftist students went on to oppose a port call by the U.S. aircraft carrier Enterprise, and the construction of Narita Airport. These developed into a major social problem.
Such student movements became more radical. In 1969, the University of Tokyo’ Yasuda Auditorium was seized. In 1970, a group of extremists hijacked a JAL plane, demanding it take them to North Korea. Radio Japan extended airtime of its general and regional services for Asia to report on latest developments in such incidents, government positions, and public opinion.
Japan Becomes World’s 2nd Largest Economy
In 1960, the Ikeda cabinet’s income-doubling plan cheered up the nation’s people. This put Japan on a path for high economic growth. Japan-made products flooded world markets. In 1968, Japan became the second in the world in GNP. Global attention was on Japanese products and people and the country itself.
Automated Transmission Completed
In 1965, NHK introduced an automated transmission system for international broadcasting to deal with rapid expansion of its services. When international broadcasting was restarted in 1952, it was in Japanese and English and transmitted in five directions for 30 minutes a day. In 1965, this increased to 23 languages in 18 directions for 30 hours a day. This was beyond the limits of NHK’s available manpower. In this year, automatic transmitting machines called announce machines were installed. One person was able to keep an eye on all the machines. In studios, automatic sound-adjusting machines were set with no need for engineers in control rooms. It was a year of technological revolution.
Japan as World’s #2
“Tell Us More about Japanese”
“ONE IN A HUNDRED MILLION,” “EASY JAPANESE,” AND MORE PROGRAMS ABOUT JAPAN
“One in a Hundred Million,” which began in 1962, lasted for 27 years until 1989 as a flagship Radio Japan program. It introduced Japanese from many fields, including a teacher and a Nobel Prize-winning author. Along with “Let’s Speak Japanese” (Later, “Easy Japanese”), it helped create two key categories of programs for overseas: people and language.
Telling Stories about Individual Japanese
Images of Japan and Japanese in world: Shinkansen bullet train, pollution (Tokyo, ‘67), train station staff pushing commuters into trains during rush hour.
4/62. Novelist Yasunari Kawabata on “One in a Hundred Million.”
Among Radio Japan’s programs, one that was loved by listeners for a long time was called “One in a Hundred Million.” It featured people from all walks of life such as a teacher, an architect, a lawyer, a bus driver, a female factory worker, a novelist and even a Nobel Prize winner. The program showed how they were living and what they had to say. It began in 1962 in English. In 1968, it was also aired in Korean. In 1969, it began to be aired in all the languages offered by Radio Japan. In 1969, it introduced architect Kenzo Tange, who designed Yoyogi Stadium for the Tokyo Olympics. Others included Akio Morita of Sony, movie director Akira Kurosawa and Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner Ken-ichi Fukui. Listeners liked the program. One said, “This program made me feel closer to people in Japan.” It was one of the longest-lasting programs offered by Radio Japan.
Learning Japanese on Radio Japan
7/21/69 (Japan time). Apollo 11 takes man to moon for first time. “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Recording “Let’s Speak Japanese” (5/60). From left, Scotty Wade, Toru Matsumoto, Mitsuko Tomobe.
One kind of programming that Radio Japan is well suited to air is shows for overseas learners of the Japanese language. The first was “Let’s Speak Japanese,” which began in 1959. The 15-minute program was on twice a week. It was for beginners who wanted to learn basic Japanese. At first, it was broadcast in English and Indonesian. The English version was taught by a popular lecturer for NHK Radio’s “English Conversation,” Toru Matsumoto. Mitsuko Tomobe of the Tokyo Broadcasting Troupe taught pronunciation. Its texts were carried by the monthly magazine Radio Japan News and sent to listeners every month free of charge.
An African Who Learned Japanese on Radio Japan
Hassan was born in a small village on a savannah in Cameroon, West Africa. The village with a population of 2,000 had no electricity or running water. He speaks fluent Japanese and loves Japan.
He got to know about the country through Radio Japan. He had to give up on going to high school, as his family was poor. To cheer himself up, he turned on the radio. He happened to hear a voice from Radio Japan. As he kept listening, he wanted to learn about Japan, and began to study the language on “Easy Japanese.” During the day, he helped with work at home. At night, he studied Japanese. Moved by his enthusiasm, relatives helped him get an education. He went to high school and university and is now in graduate school.
He says he wants to be a bridge between Japan and Cameroon. He’s now studying and teaching Japanese to young people in Cameroon as a volunteer at a small school he opened.