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


Major developments in international broadcasting 1950s-70s


Major developments in international broadcasting 1980s-90s


Major developments in international broadcasting 2000-2015

1970-1974 Showa 45-49

“Konnichiwa” Hello, World!!Foreign Announcers Report on Expo’70

CHRONICLE  >  1970–1974 >  “Konnichiwa” Hello, World!  | Strengthening Broadcasting to China and Other Parts of Asia

Tables of major events

  • 3/5. Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) takes effect.
  • 3~9. Expo’70 in Osaka. Overseas programming for 1187h10m.
  • 3/31. JAL Flight 351 hijacked.
  • 5/10. Broadcasting of sumo tournaments begins on general service.
  • 8/15. Nixon suspends dollar convertibility into gold.
  • 10/25. People’s Republic of China recognized as representative of China for U.N.
  • 11/24. Lower House adopts adherence to 3 non-nuclear principles.
  • 2/3~13. Sapporo Winter Olympics
  • 2/19~28. Hostage crisis and police siege in Asama Sanso lodge
  • 2/21~28. Nixon visits China.
  • 5/15. Reversion of Okinawa to Japan from U.S.
  • 5/26. U.S. and Soviet Union agree to SALT I.
  • 9/29. Japan and China normalize ties.
  • 1/27. Paris Peace Accord signed to end Vietnam War.
  • 2. Transition to yen-dollar floating exchange rate system
  • 8/8. Kim Dae-jung abducted.
  • 10. 4th Arab-Israeli War
  • 10~1974. 1st oil crisis (oil prices 4 times higher)
  • 1. Anti-Japan demos and riots in Bangkok and Jakarta during PM Kakuei Tanaka’s visit
  • 3/12. Former soldier Hiroo Onoda returns to Japan.
  • 5/18. India’s 1st nuclear weapon test in Pokhran a success.
  • 8/8. President Nixon resigns over Watergate scandal.
  • 8/15. SK president Park Chung-hee shot at; his wife killed.
  • 10/14. Baseball player Shigeo Nagashima retires.



A year before Expo’70, Radio Japan began airing a special series, “Seeking Progress and Harmony.” In it, NHK reported how Japan was joining advanced nations in science and industry. During the fair, it aired “Reports on Expo’70” every day, introducing pavilions and events. Foreign announcers conveyed the excitement of the event to the world.

Man on Moon, but Doubt on Growth

Japan’s and Asia’s 1st World Fair, Expo’ 70 (in Osaka in ’70). Tower of the Sun in center, 64,218,770 visitors (1.7 million from abroad). Photo: Mainichi Newspaper Co/Aflo.

Japan’s and Asia’s 1st World Fair, Expo’ 70 (in Osaka in ’70). Tower of the Sun in center, 64,218,770 visitors (1.7 million from abroad). Photo: Mainichi Newspaper Co/Aflo.

For Japan, the 1960s were an age of rapid economic growth. Mankind was dreaming of a growth miracle. Putting the first men on the moon was a pinnacle. But on Earth, there were numerous challenges such as the Vietnam War, the Cultural Revolution, pollution and environmental degradation. People were increasingly doubtful about endless growth.

”Progress and Harmony for Mankind”

Japan’s and Asia’s first Universal Exposition, Japan World Exposition, Expo ’70, was held on the Senri Hills in Osaka from March 14 to September 13, 1970.

Seventy-seven countries and four international organizations took part. The fair was one of the largest in scale ever held. The theme was “Progress and Harmony for Mankind.” One year earlier, Radio Japan had begun airing a special series, “Seeking Progress and Harmony,” in Japanese, English and 16 other languages. It introduced Expo’70 to the world, and reported how Japan was seeking progress and harmony in the fields of science, industry and other fields.

Broadcasting an Opening Ceremony Live to the World

NHK broadcast the opening ceremony live in Japanese and English to the world, extending its airtime. And it aired highlights of the ceremony in all the languages used in its services. During the fair, NHK broadcast “News on Expo’70” every day. On countries’ national days, announcers from the nations came to the fair to make special programs and aired them.

Winners of an Essay Contest Invited to Japan

To mark Expo’70, Radio Japan held an essay contest for listeners jointly with the Japan World Exposition Association and Japan Airlines. In all, 1,724 essays were sent in from around the world. Six listeners were chosen as winners. Radio Japan invited them to Japan in July. They visited the expo site, Kyoto and Tokyo for a week. Their trip was recorded and broadcast as a special program.

In 1970, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty took effect. In 1971, the People’s Republic of China was recognized as the lawful representative of China to the United Nations. Japan kept its pacifist position, with the Diet adopting three non-nuclear principles of not possessing, not producing and not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons. In 1973, an oil crisis occurred in the Middle East, making the region a destabilizing factor.

Airing Expo’70 to Thai Listeners
Chawiwong Sakurai

Chawiwong Sakurai

I came to Japan from Thailand as a foreign student in 1968. In 1969, I began working as an announcer in Thai. I was put in charge of Expo’70, and explained various pavilions. The U.S. pavilion had moon stones. I talked about the message of the fair’s symbol, the Tower of the Sun. Then, when I did go to the expo site, I was overwhelmed by the power of what I had been talking about. The Thai pavilion was built exactly like an authentic Thai temple.

In those days, people in Japan did not know much about Thailand. The expo was a good opportunity for them to learn more about the country. A Thai cook who came to the fair later opened a Thai restaurant in Tokyo, the first in Japan. Now, there are many.

Forty-five years after the expo, many Thais know even about Japanese pop culture. Listeners’ interests are diversified. At such a time, I wonder: what kind of information about Japan should I tell people back home? I hope to continue this work through trial and error.

(Thai-language announcer Chawiwong Sakurai)

Strengthening Broadcasting
to China and Other Parts of Asia


Interest in Japan increased in China after bilateral relations were normalized. Japan expanded its airtime per broadcast from 30 to 45 minutes with more news and other programs. In South Korea, then under a military dictatorship, and North Korea, many listeners secretly tuned in to Radio Japan to get information not reported by their media.

More broadcasts in Chinese

9/29/72. Japan & China normalize ties. PMs Kakuei Tanaka and Zhou Enlai at signing ceremony.

9/29/72. Japan & China normalize ties. PMs Kakuei Tanaka and Zhou Enlai at signing ceremony.

On Sept. 29, 1972, Japan and China normalized diplomatic relations. This led to more broadcasts in Chinese to China and Southeast Asia. Airtime per unit of broadcasting increased from 30 to 45 minutes. News, news analyses and entertainment programs were lengthened and enriched.

In 1973, since Mandarin Chinese was used widely, broadcasts in Fujianese and Cantonese were abolished.

People Listened to Radio Japan to Get News about Their Own Countries

8/13/73. Kim Dae-Jung back home after abduction.

8/13/73. Kim Dae-Jung back home after abduction.

It was also in 1972 that South and North Korea made a historic joint statement. On July 4, the two countries confirmed they should seek reunification through peaceful means. This led to high expectations on both sides for a unified Korea.

But the situation on the Korean Peninsula went the opposite way. As for South Korea, in 1973, opposition leader Kim Dae-Jung was abducted in Tokyo and later found in Seoul. In 1974, then president Park Chung-Hee was shot at. South and North Korea both tightened their regimes. Freedom of speech was extremely limited. South Korean listeners secretly tuned in to Radio Japan to find out what was happening in their country. This situation continued until the South restored democracy at the end of 1980s. In those days, people in North Korea were also secretly listening to Radio Japan. This was reported in testimonies by people who successfully fled the North.

Anti-Japan Demonstrations and Riots in Asia

Anti-Japan protests in Bangkok and Jakarta, when PM Tanaka was in Southeast Asia (Photo in Jakarta on 1/15/74).

Anti-Japan protests in Bangkok and Jakarta, when PM Tanaka was in Southeast Asia (Photo in Jakarta on 1/15/74).

Japan was closing its book on the war. It had recovered after being in a state of burned-out ruins. In 1965, it signed a basic relations treaty with Seoul. In 1972, it normalized ties with China. Its economy was growing. It looked as if relations with other Asian nations had improved. But in January 1974, when then PM Kakuei Tanaka was visiting Southeast Asia, anti-Japan demonstrations and riots broke out in Bangkok and Jakarta. In Jakarta, 11 people were killed and 800 vehicles were destroyed. Tanaka had to stay at a guest house and was taken to the airport by helicopter. This incident made Japan realize it needed more dialogue with other Asian nations, instead of focusing on its own economic profits. This led to the Fukuda Doctrine, which pledged Japan’s resolve to seek relations of trust with the nations of Southeast Asia, announced by PM Takeo Fukuda in 1977.

Listening to Radio Japan under South Korea’s Military Regime


I began to listen to Radio Japan in 1962, when I was a university sophomore. I was listening secretly and carefully. It wasn’t that listening to shortwave radio was banned. But I had North Korea in mind. For a long time, freedom of speech was restricted. So, I learned a lot on Radio Japan about what I was unable to hear in broadcasts in my own country. I remember well hearing about a prodemocracy movement in 1980 in Gwangju, where I live. I listened to NHK correspondents’ on-the-spot reports and analyses, and reactions from other countries. I got facts in objective reports. Also on Radio Japan, I learned of the death of North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung in 1994. I remember it was NHK’s scoop.

(KIM KIL HONG, a former senior high school teacher in Gwangju)