NHK radio regular quits after anti-nuclear commentary nixed

January 30, 2014

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

A veteran radio show commentator quit his job at Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) after the public broadcaster told him to drop the subject of nuclear power during the Tokyo gubernatorial election, sources said.

For about 20 years, Toru Nakakita, a professor of economics at Toyo University, had been in charge of the “Business Outlook” segment of the “Radio Asa Ichiban” show aired weekdays from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. on NHK Radio Daiichi.

Nakakita said his original manuscript for the Jan. 30 program pointed out the increase in costs for the resumption of nuclear reactor operations, saying “damages to be paid in the wake of a nuclear plant accident are extraordinarily high.”

However, when he showed the manuscript to a program director on the day before the scheduled broadcast, Nakakita was asked to change the theme.

He said that NHK told him not to talk about “nuclear issues during the Tokyo gubernatorial election campaign period.” The election is scheduled for Feb. 9.

“We should have substantial debates precisely because it is the campaign period,” Nakakita said. “NHK reacted with excessive voluntary restraint, which shows a lack of awareness of the issue.”

NHK said its intention was different.

“We did not mean to refrain from broadcasting an anti-nuclear power debate,” an NHK official said. “During the Tokyo gubernatorial election, in which nuclear power generation is a major issue, presenting opinions from both sides is needed to secure impartiality. We asked (Nakakita) to change the subject, judging that the program presented by one person would not meet this goal.”

Nakakita, formerly with the Foreign Ministry, served as the deputy chairman of the Council for the Asian Gateway Initiative in the first Shinzo Abe Cabinet.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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The NHK Broadcasting Center in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The NHK Broadcasting Center in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • The NHK Broadcasting Center in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
  • Toru Nakakita, professor of economics at Toyo University (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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