Great East Japan Earthquake and
Nuclear AccidentJapan’s International Broadcasting Wins Trust
CHRONICLE ＞ 2011 ＞ Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Accident ｜ Continued Reporting on Reconstruction and Aftermath
Tables of major events
- 3/11. Great East Japan Earthquake. Nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Special programming starts when quake hits.
- 5/2. Osama bin Laden killed.
- 7/17. Nadeshiko Japan wins FIFA Women’s World Cup.
- 7~11. Flood in Thailand
- 9. In U.S. protests against income inequality expand.
- 9/12. NHK WORLD TV wins top Connected World TV Awards for its reporting of Great East Japan Earthquake.
REPORTING TO THE WORLD IN REAL TIME
On March 11, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake hit Japan. More than 15,000 people were killed. It triggered a nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. NHK WORLD reported the events on TV, radio and the web. It won the world’s trust for its prompt and accurate reporting.
Reporting the Disasters to the World
12/2011. Newscaster Minori Takao reporting the disaster to the world.
Overseas media used NHK WORLD TV’s images. This photo shows the BBC of Britain.
The Great East Japan Earthquake caused unprecedented damage and a nuclear accident. How could NHK best report the news to the world? Two years after its launch, NHK WORLD TV was to be tested. For a month, it kept organizing special programming for almost all time slots around the clock, and sending to the world the latest news and key programs on the natural and nuclear disasters. NEWSLINE reported on news conferences at the Prime Minister’s office and Tokyo Electric Power Company live with simultaneous interpreters. It also broadcast news on NHK’s main domestic channel, General TV, to the world live with simultaneous interpreters, and NHK’s flagship documentaries, NHK Specials.
World’s media flooded NHK with requests to use its images. At NHK the News Department, the NHK WORLD Department and overseas general bureaus joined hands and granted permission on condition that the NHK logo remained on screen.
For the information to reach people without fail, NHK did what it had never done before: It offered live streaming on video-sharing sites such as Ustream and niconico.com, in addition to its website NHK WORLD ONLINE. For two weeks after the disasters, 5,400,000 people accessed those sites.
NHK also provided NHK WORLD TV programs to cable television companies in Japan on an emergency basis. This made those programs viewable to about six million households via 174 cable television stations.
Even after broadcasting returned to normal, NHK kept its focus on news of the earthquake and the nuclear accident. It sent a crew from the NHK WORLD unit to report for two new features on “NEWSLINE.” “Nuclear Watch” covered the aftermath of the nuclear accident, and “The Road Ahead” restoration work. A reporter and a producer were stationed at NHK’s Sendai Station.
After the earthquake, RADIO JAPAN made all of its news broadcasts in 17 languages live. For certain languages, it devoted all of its airtime to news. And it offered audio streams of its news on the Internet.
RADIO JAPAN received more letters from listeners for all the languages --- compared to the previous month, two to three times more for many languages, and ten times more for others.
How We Reached the World
On March 11th of 2011, the NHK Broadcast Center in Tokyo began shaking. We knew it was an earthquake, and a big one. NHK WORLD immediately began reporting what was happening. I tried to keep our viewers up-to-date with as much information as our newsroom could gather.
E-mails started lining up in my in-box from former colleagues all over the world. “Gene," they said, "I’ve been watching you on NHK WORLD.” Some asked, “What can I do? How can I help?" The entire globe seemed to be watching.
Months later, the American Public Broadcasting Service invited me to speak at a convention about what occurred on that day. I was surprised to be greeted with a standing ovation. Val Zavala of KCET Los Angeles interviewed me and asked what had been going through my mind as those terrible images of the earthquake and tsunami were coming in. I answered that I really hadn't had time to think. It was a mixture of focus and “Zenning-out” unnecessary feelings at the time.
Thanks to the cooperation of all my colleagues at “NEWSLINE,” we as a team were able to broadcast accurate information in a timely manner in the midst of a perilous situation. The world needed to know.
(Gene Otani, “NEWSLINE” Anchor)
Continued Reporting on
Reconstruction and Aftermath
PROMPT AND ACCURATE REPORTING WINS HIGH APPRAISAL
High Appraisal from Overseas
9/2011. NHK WORLD won the top prize of the Connected World TV Awards for distributing its TV programs on the Internet.
The BBC, CNN and more than 2,000 stations around the world used or directly broadcast images from NHK WORLD TV. NHK’s detailed coverage and accurate reporting won high appraisal.
In April 2011, Hawaii’s state legislature sent a letter of thanks for NHK’s reporting on the earthquake and nuclear accident. In May, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) of the U.S. presented a special award to NHK at its annual meeting. In April 2011, NHK conducted an emergency survey on its disaster reporting and influences on overseas audiences. The survey found that the degrees of recognition for NHK WORLD had risen remarkably in Washington D.C. and elsewhere.
In September, NHK WORLD received the top prize of the Connected World TV Awards, which are granted to broadcasters that have contributed to the distribution of TV programs on the Internet.
Reporting on Restoration and Nuclear Accident Continues
NHK WORLD continues to report on the reconstruction of affected areas and developments after the nuclear accident. NHK went on to cover the disasters on “NEWSLINE,” and made a series of “NHK Specials” at the yearend.
To encourage people hit by the disasters, NHK WORLD TV broadcast “JAZZ for JAPAN” featuring a joint music session with local musicians, along with world-famous jazz pianist Bob James.
RADIO JAPAN aired “Haiku for KIBO (hope), ~the Power of Words for Japan~” at the end of the year. It invited listeners to send in haiku (short Japanese poems) as messages to the stricken areas. More than 1,100 “haiku” were sent in from 59 countries and territories. Many of them were introduced in the program.
Looking Back on Disaster Reporting
Everything began when the Great East Japan Earthquake hit Japan. When we felt violent horizontal shaking, we asked our anchor Gene Otani to keep speaking to the world to see images taken by helicopter on TV.
We continued reporting news and government news conferences for 24 hours using simultaneous interpreters. We also offered reports and documentaries aired on our domestic channel immediately to the world with simultaneous interpreters. We let CNN and the BBC use these with credits to NHK. Our hard-won reports and interviews with victims were conveyed to the world via overseas media.
One month after the earthquake, we reported from Rikuzentakata, which was hit hard by the quake. We also covered people from abroad who planned to use social media to report on the disasters, and interviewed workers at the nuclear power plant where the accident occurred.
Three months later, we opened a mini studio at NHK Sendai Station and reported the latest news every week. We also launched a feature called, ”Nuclear Watch,” with the help of News Department’s Science and Culture Division, to report on the latest situations at the plant every week.
(Koji Nishigaki, Radio Center Senior Producer, reporting on the disasters at the News and Production Division at the time.)