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

2015 Heisei 27

Into the Future, International BroadcastingViewers Want to Watch

CHRONICLE  >  2015 >  Viewers Want to Watch  | For Reliable International Broadcasting

Tables of major events

  • 70th anniversary of end of World War II
  • 50th year since Japan and South Korea normalized relations.
  • ASEAN Economic Community to be formed at end of 2015 with population of more than 600 million.
  • 80th anniversary of Japan’s international broadcasting
  • NHK WORLD TV begins video-on-demand service.


2015 marks the 90th anniversary of NHK’s first broadcast and the 80th anniversary of the start of its international broadcasting, which has evolved from radio to television. And now, in the age of the Internet, anyone can send information across borders freely at any time. This age is again testing the value of public broadcasting and the meaning of strengthening international broadcasting.

Age When Anyone Can Transmit Across Borders

“NEWSROOM TOKYO” aired Monday to Friday, 8:00-8:45 p.m. (Japan time).

“NEWSROOM TOKYO” aired Monday to Friday, 8:00-8:45 p.m. (Japan time).

Debate program “GLOBAL AGENDA” aired about once a month on Saturday 9:10-11:00 a.m. (Japan time) and other times.

Debate program “GLOBAL AGENDA” aired about once a month on Saturday 9:10-11:00 a.m. (Japan time) and other times.

In the U.S., people now spend more time using smartphones and other portable devices than watching TV. U.S. marketing research firm Flurry says that in the third quarter of 2014, people spent an average of 168 minutes a day watching TV, and 177 minutes using portable devices. This was the first time the figure for such devices exceeded that for TV.

The development of social media such as that on the Internet and SNS has created an environment in which anyone can send information, not just receive it.

Considering what NHK went through to send radio waves to North America 80 years ago, information now spreads across borders easily.

In 2010, when the prodemocracy Arab Spring movement spread from Tunisia in North Africa to various countries in the Middle East, social media played an important role, enabling many people to share information instantly.

Focus Again on Role of Accurate Information

Five years later in 2015, two Japanese were kidnapped and murdered by the Islamic State extremist group. The incident shocked Japan. The group demanded a ransom and a hostage swap. It later released videos to the world on the Internet purportedly showing how it killed the men. The governments of Japan and other countries were deeply troubled. Mass media had to check the accuracy of information at every stage of the crisis. Reporting the distribution of videos by an extremist group posing as a state calls for extreme caution. Such reporting can be used as the group’s propaganda tool. Media faced a new challenge.

Can NHK offer accurate and objective reporting to help people judge the value of the endless stream of information on the Internet? Can it link Japan and the rest of the world by offering dependable international broadcasting? The broadcaster’s true value is being tested.

To Reach Many More Viewers

In September 2014, NHK WORLD TV became viewable to about 280 million households in 150 countries and territories. But it is far behind the BBC and CNN in degree of recognition. Enriching content, creating easy-to-view programming and effective promotion --- these are NHK’s big challenges.

In 2015, NHK WORLD TV aimed to strengthen its system for reporting on Japan and the rest of Asia to the world by starting two large-scale programs: one for news and the other featuring debate by leading experts on global issues.

The 45-minute “NEWSROOM TOKYO” starts at 8 p.m. Japan time (in the morning on the east coast of North America and in the evening in Asia) on weekdays. It reports news and on topics in Japan and the rest of Asia in a way that’s easy to understand.

In the debate program “GLOBAL AGENDA,” to air about ten times a year, global opinion leaders propose ways to solve world issues such as those related to international politics, security, economics, finance and the environment.

NHK also researched audience wishes by region such as North America and Europe, and revised its programming to offer what is most needed and convenient.

Based on this, NHK will introduce information programs and documentaries about Japan’s industry, economy, state-of-the-art technology, tourism, food, culture and music. NHK plans to air documentaries featuring outstanding women who inspire innovation in Asia. Women’s social advances are said to be a key for national economic growth and social expansion.

NHK aims to offer abundant anime and other entertainment programs on weekends. It hopes to develop content that can be enjoyed by people around the world. NHK’s slogan on its 80th anniversary is “International Broadcasting Viewers Want to Watch.”

Into the Future,For Reliable International Broadcasting


“International Broadcasting Viewers Want to Watch”

Full-fledged video-on-demand (VOD) service started. Full-fledged video-on-demand (VOD) service started.

Full-fledged video-on-demand (VOD) service started.

Adapting to the Internet age is, of course, a challenge for international broadcasting. NHK’s smartphone app has made live streaming of TV and radio programs easier. Based on the 2014 revision to Japan’s Broadcast Law, NHK in 2015 started a full-fledged video-on-demand service that is already widespread in the U.S. In June, NHK began offering a catch-up service for about ten programs (involving about 300 episodes in a year) as a first step. With an eye toward the second Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020, information programs about the current state of Tokyo and Japan are indispensable.

Keeping 2020 in Mind

It has been 80 years since NHK began its international broadcasting. Since the end of World War Two, NHK has been living with remorse for having done national policy broadcasting. With this in mind, it has been doing all it can to build a basis for freedom and democracy as it broadcasts for Japan and abroad. This basic position will never change.

Expectations for international broadcasting have been running high. After the war, Japan returned to the international community. With the country’s high economic growth, its world standing improved. Yet Japan’s relative status was said to have declined after the country’s economic bubble and the growth of China and other rising nations. Now, the leadership of the U.S., the only super power after the Cold War, is becoming shaky amid signs of confusion in the international community.

What will Japan transmit to the world from now on? The answer to this question will reflect what kind of role Japan will play in Asia and the rest of the world.

My Thoughts on NHK WORLD

While covering news around the world, I often listened to Radio Japan. I was extremely happy when I tuned into it at night. Now, NHK WORLD TV is at the center of NHK’s international broadcasting. On the Internet, people can watch it anywhere in the world. But it’s not always available on TV at hotels, homes or workplaces. Even if it is available, people may fight over which country’s channel to watch.

But I say, “Do your best. Raise the quality of your programs and make them even more attractive. Always improve reception in other countries. Broadcast NHK WORLD in Japan too, on BS or a terrestrial channel. All these will strengthen its existence and help create more fans.”

Seventy years after losing the war. Japan, as a peace-loving nation, has been cooperating with the international community to seek safety and wellbeing for mankind. We want the world to know this. We hope that many more people feel close to Japan and want to visit the country. I believe this is the most important mission for NHK’s international broadcasting.

(Hatsuhisa Takashima, former head of NHK’s International Planning and Broadcasting Department and first president of Japan International Broadcasting Inc.)