Katsuto Momii, the already beleaguered president of Japanese public broadcaster NHK, got himself in further hot water last week with statements that seemed to imply NHK’s role was to support the government.
Just over a year ago in January 2014 Momii was forced to apologise for his earlier “inappropriate comments” about the role of ‘comfort women’ during World War II and which he had implied was commonplace during wartime. ”Such women could be found in any nation that was at war including France and Germany,” he said, describing international anger as “puzzling”.
He managed to stay in his job by saying that his comments were made as an individual and not in his official position.
The latest row came about when he was asked whether NHK would be airing any special programming on the use of ‘[South Korean] comfort women’ during the 70th anniversary of the ending of the WW2. Mr Momii then said NHK would have to carefully consider whether it was appropriate to report on the problem now. “We are carefully watching what policy the administration will present around summer.”
The influential Asahi Shimbun newspaper, in an editorial, said: “Momii spoke as if management decisions concerning the content and broadcast of NHK programmes were influenced by government policy. His recent comments indicate that Momii still has no clear understanding of what NHK is about. NHK is not a public relations agency of the government. It is a public broadcasting institution whose operations are financed by fees paid by viewers.”