Over the years I have watched very little television while being in Japan finding it basically a non-relevant part of existence. There are very few exceptions though and one exception was NHK’s news program Close up Gendai featuring Hiroko Kuniya. Hiroko Kuniya is from Osaka Prefecture and she graduated from the International School of the Sacred Heart in 1975. She later attended Brown University in Boston, Massachusetts with majors in international relations and international economics. Over the years her news broadcasts included interviewing foreign guests in English which were always appreciated. She gave journalism and the media in Japan a professional perspective which is rare. As the recent article “Hiroko Kuniya’s ouster deals another blow to quality journalism in Japan” published in The Japan Times written by Jeff Kingston stated: “enjoy this journalistic giant among pygmies while you can.”
In 2014, the LDP cabinet office lodged a complaint with NHK over “tough questions” asked during a television interview with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga (historical revisionist), according to the weekly magazine Friday. When the article was released, it claimed that the office of Shinzo Abe “forced NHK to prostrate itself (土下座) after Suga appeared on a television program called ‘Close up Gendai.'” The program aired July 3, 2014 and discussed the Japan-North Korea talks and the sensitive subject in Japan on “collective self-defence.” This is a sensitive topic in Japan and as a result sparked protests during 2014. Hiroko Kuniya asked during this program: “Wouldn’t Japan become involved in other countries’ wars?” She also asked: “It is okay to change the reinterpretation of the constitution so easily?” This is when Hiroko Kuniya came up against the ire of the power elite inside the LDP and their connections inside NHK. During these types of news shows, guests to the program are briefed beforehand about the content of the program and intended questions that will be asked of them. After this news broadcast, a secretary to Yoshihide Suga started bitching about why the questions Hiroko Kuniya asked of Yoshihide Suga, were not included in the briefing before the news show began? Good for you, Hiroko.
People over the years have often asked why the media in Japan are at the beck and call of the elite LDP power structure (not uncommon and is probably worse in the US) never revealing anything of substance to the public including on news programs like NHK’s Close up Gendai with Hiroko Kuniya? The government of Japan and the LDP political power structure have taken a serious turn to the right since Shinzo Abe came to power. The tight control of information as most people know, comes through the political power structure by corporate insiders in Japan where there are board members close to the LDP.
Despite Suga’s denial of the contents of the Friday article, NHK’s Board of Governors contains members close to the Abe administration. Three of the five members who were handpicked by Abe last November include close supporters of Abe such as Naoki Hyakuta, conservative philosopher Michiko Hasegawa, [right wing apologist and revisionist] and Katsuhiko Honda, [spawned out of the extremely lucrative tobacco industry] who used to tutor Abe in his elementary school days. The NHK Board of Governors has the power to choose the president of the broadcaster. Their choice was Katsuo Momii, a close friend of Deputy Prime Minister, Taro Aso, who shares Abe’s revisionist views.
NHK does most of its historical revisionism through television programming including several daily television dramas depicting the hardships and the relationships between Japanese for example during the Meiji restoration. China has also been cranking out patriotic anti-Japan television movies and dramas and Japan seems to be reacting to this by pumping out its own version of history. Television is by far the best way to program Japanese viewers because the revisionist dramas use a lot of human tragedy stories through emotional content to deliberately change thinking in the Japanese people about their history and place in this world. With NHK controlled by the LDP which is made apparent in the quoted paragraph above, almost any type of programming that places Japan in a different historical perspective can be accomplished including Japan changing its constitution, passing its state secrets law, and its ongoing restructuring of its military. There is also the prospect of making money off historical revisionism by people who are not professional diplomats or connected to the government, their concern is making money no matter the content of the story.
Hiroko Kuniya’s professionalism in the field of journalism can be seen with her contribution to a paper written by Tomonobu Kumahira at Brown University (Hiroko Kuniya is an alumni of Brown University) titled: Modeling Internet-Based Citizen Activism and Foreign Policy: The Islands Dispute between China and Japan which was published in May, 2015. There are some hard hitting truths and accuracies in this paper the LDP does not want released to the general public. This is only one of the reasons why Shinzo Abe through the their mouth piece NHK do not want Hiroko Kuniya asking hard questions on Close Up Gendai any longer. Hiroko Kuniya provided valuable insights to Tomonobu Kumahira for this work on China-Japan relations which demonstrates her dedication to journalistic professionalism.
It’s your loss NHK, and don’t send that little pygmy to my door either asking for your monthly extortion tax. The last time he showed up I put him in a cold sweat. Finally, I would like to attract readers attention again to the title of Tomonobu Kumahira’s paper which states “Modeling Internet-based activism”; because this is why this blog has appeared and hopefully its future direction. Encourage internet activism to change these political structures that do not have the best interests of their citizens as their concern. This is all the more apparent when there are LDP political operatives inside NHK controlling the flow of information. NHK is about to be taken out of the analog age. In the internet age, imagine if Chinese citizens and Japanese citizens begin honest dialogue between themselves about their collective histories instead of going through official sanctioned channels about about who is telling the truth and who isn’t concerning China-Japan relations and history?
Thank you, Hiroko Kuniya…you will be sorely missed…