NHK, a (forced) "public-supported" television/radio in Japan, has mostly toed the line of whoever at the top of the political hierarchy in Japan. Still, I thought it was over the top when the new chairman of the NHK Commission expressed his personal conviction and belief in a very public way (press conference and testimony in the National Diet) that Japan didn't commit war crimes, that any military anywhere in the world has had so-called "comfort women" (not again...).
Then I was flabbergasted when I heard about another recently appointed Commissioner who adores the Emperor of Japan as "living god" to whom the Japanese should sacrifice their very lives to preserve "the state of things where the Emperor is the ethical, spiritual, political center uniting people" (that is what 国体 kokutai is, as used in Japan before and during the World War II), and who praises a ultra-right wing yakuza who shot himself in the Asahi Shinbun building in 1993 after praying to the Emperor.
(Time Magazine has an article summarizing the way it is now at NHK under the Abe administration.)
Who's this Commissioner? Ms. Michiko Hasegawa, 67-year-old professor emeritus at Saitama University. She is a Tokyo University graduate (elite), an outspoken proponent of the way we were, so to speak, when women stayed home while their men earned the living, when the government started the war in the name of the Emperor and people went to war to kill and get killed. Ms. Hasegawa was born in March 1946, about 7 months after the imperial Japan surrendered unconditionally.
But what appalled me was not NHK Chairman nor Commissioner Hasegawa. Instead of at least cautioning the Commissioners for their views that are not widely shared by the population, Chief Cabinet Secretary of the Abe Administration said he had no comments on the private views of the Commissioners of the public broadcaster under effective control of the government.
From J-Cast News (2/5/2014), comments from Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga during the Diet session on NHK Commissioner Hasegawa:
"I wasn't aware of the particular remarks (of Ms. Hasegawa that are being reported), but she is one of the most prominent philosophers and critics who represent Japan. She is thoroughly versed in cultures. That's why our government submitted her name [as a candidate for NHK Commissioner] to the National Diet, and it was approved with the votes from some opposition parties. Nothing more, nothing less."
"I'll withhold my comment as the government official on every single word and deed of the Commissioners."
I guess Mr. Suga and his boss Prime Minister Abe have no right to comment anyway. Both of them gave three "banzai" to the bewildered and clearly annoyed emperor and empress on April 28 "Restoration of Sovereignty Day" last year. I wonder how the government celebrates that day.
And all this while NHK pressures commentators who appear on their programs not to talk about nuclear power, particularly about anti-nuclear movement after the Fukushima nuclear accident, during the Tokyo gubernatorial election campaign, which is ending on February 8.
Private broadcasters are no better, with Asahi TV blurring the faces of former prime ministers (Hosokawa and Koizumi) as they spoke to an enormous crowd in Tokyo in their campaigning for the governorship (for Hosokawa) and switching right back to the LDP/Komei candidate, showing full face.
Both the national government and national media have also been busy repeating again and again that the Tokyo governor race is not so much about anti-nuclear (or beyond-nuclear) but much more about jobs, Olympics, welfare, your (small) lives. In fact, nuclear issues shouldn't be in the gubernatorial race anyway, they say, because Tokyo does not have nuclear power plants. Supporters of Mr. Kenji Utsunomiya, left-leaning attorney who is anti-nuclear and backed by Social Democrats and Communist Party, take advantage of this government/media characterization to attack the anti-nuclear former PM duo instead of attacking the other two right-leaning candidates (Masuzoe, Tamogami).
It is snowing heavily in Tokyo on Saturday February 8. If this snow deters many voters on February 9, Mr. Yoichi Masuzoe, backed by LDP/Komei and particularly by Prime Minister Abe, will probably win handily, thanks to organized votes from Komei Party and labor unions who support Masuzoe this time instead of their usual support for left/liberal candidates.
And thanks to NHK and the rest of the media, and fragmented anti-nuclear people.