Past, Present and into Future

2015 marks the 80th anniversary of NHK’s international broadcasting. We offer four overseas services: NHK WORLD TV for foreign viewers in English; NHK WORLD PREMIUM, a television service in Japanese; NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN in 18 languages; and NHK WORLD ONLINE on the Internet.

At the end of 2014, NHK WORLD TV was viewable to 280 million households around the world. Radio Japan reached about 300 million people. International broadcasting is essentially for people abroad. But recently, with the spread of the Internet, it became accessible in Japan too. People can view or listen to it on personal computers or mobile devices. More households in Japan are tuning in to NHK’s overseas services via CATV or IPTV.

NHK began international broadcasting on June 1, 1935. On that day, then NHK president Kenzo Iwahara said the missions of international broadcasting were to offer comfort and enlightenment to fellow Japanese living abroad and to foster international goodwill. Under the current Broadcast Law, NHK is obliged to offer appropriate news and entertainment programs for Japanese abroad. And for non-Japanese audiences abroad, NHK is required to offer programs that can contribute to correct understanding of the nation and promoting international goodwill and economic interaction with other nations.

All this may indicate that the missions of international broadcasting have been seen as the same all these years. But when we look back on our path during the past 80 years, we realize it is not that those words about the missions have been taken to mean the same thing. Depending on international situations and domestic social situations, expectations for international broadcasting and its expected roles have constantly been changing. When you read this book, you will see the thorny path Japan’s international broadcasting has taken up to now.

In recent years, interest in international broadcasting has been rising. Debate on what it should be is going on in various arenas. Opinions and requests are expressed in and out of Japan. This again reflects Japan’s current relations with the rest of the world and changing situations in many other aspects.

Broadcasting goes beyond national borders and reaches out to many people instantly. Its influences are boundless. It can bring enormous benefits. It can change families’ ways of life, promote education, create culture, develop industries and expand economies. It can also start wars or lead to the collapse of nations. People in broadcasting must keep this in mind and do their best to help build a healthy society and deepen mutual understanding among nations.

What is international broadcasting? What roles has it been playing? And what should it be from now on? To answer these questions, we need to look back at and confirm our history. This is why we have made this book in this landmark year of our 80th anniversary. We hope many people will read it and get deeper understanding of what international broadcasting is all about and what it should be in the future.

In making of this book, many viewers, listeners and people who have worked for NHK have contributed numerous resources, references and precious testimonies. As for the editing of this book, we owe a great deal to Mr. Tatsuhito Nagaya of SOCIALSOFT.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of them.

Yoshinori Nemoto
Managing Director