There is growing criticism of the chairman of Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, Katsuto Momii, and widening calls for him to resign. Questions were asked in Japan’s parliament on March 3rd, where Momii also made a direct response to the problems created by his January 25th comments about Japanese soldiers using ‘comfort women’ during the last war.
“While I may be going too far, I was made to say those things because I received questions (from reporters), so that is what led to the comments,” Momii said at Diet’s Upper House Budget Committee meeting after he was asked about neutrality and fairness of NHK reporting.
Momii has also generated additional controversy when it was revealed that he requested all 10 divisional managing directors at NHK to submit undated resignation letters in an apparent attempt to strengthen his power on staffing. Masayoshi Nataniya, an Upper House member of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, suggested March 3rd that it was Momii who should now resign.
When Momii received an official warning by the NHK Board of Governors, Momii asked what was wrong with the comments he made. And at a February news conference, Momii tried to deflect the blame for his remarks made in January. “Although I said I would not give my personal opinions, I felt I was being questioned relentlessly,” he said.
A group of lawyers and scholars sent a statement to Momii on March 3rd demanding that he resign immediately.
“I feel absolutely no self-reflection on the part of Chairman Momii,” said Hiroshi Kamiwaki, a professor of constitutional law at Kobe Gakuin University who heads the group. “The situation is cause for concern about whether broadcasting independent of the government will be possible.”
There are also growing calls for Japan’s consumers to cease payments of their annual licence fees.