Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

Does Japan’s state TV station suffer state censorship?

This is the question that has set Japan’s blogosphere buzzing since the Ishikawa earthquake on March 25.

Nagaijin has alerted me to a video extract of a NHK news broadcast that has been posted on the net.

In the clip an anchorman is quizzing a journalist in the earthquake zone via an audio link. When the anchorman asks whether the two nuclear reactors in the area have suffered any damage the link abruptly goes dead. Seconds later the link is apparently re-established, but the voice from Ishikawa is clearly a different person, who first assures us that the link was not broken and then brusquely assures the audience and anchorman that there was absolutely no damage to the reactors whatsoever, not even a little bit.

Nagaijin has rendered that part of the conversation like this:

The anchorman calls for the reporter “moshimoshi? Naeyama san?” Then after a pause, an obviously different voice comes on: (my paraphrase) “Yes, this is Naeyama.”
“I think we were cut off just then,” says the anchor.
“No, there was no break,” says the voice.
“You were talking about other damage.”
“Oh no. Nothing at all.” The end.
You can see the video here, and get a Japanese language transcript here. [2023: both the video and the transcript at these links have been taken down.]

There has apparently been no mention of this oddity in the mainstream media, nor have there been any reports of damage to the nuclear reactors which, again according to NHK, were not functioning at the time of the earthquake.

Japan’s journalists are notoriously obedient and through the press clubs basically say what politicians want them to say. This is the first such odd incident during a broadcast that I have heard of.

Of course, the voice may have been that of an embarrassed technician trying to cover his mistake in letting the audio connection drop but this would also be unprecedented and in jobsworth Japan, pretty unlikely.

Do you have any interesting information on this story? Drop us an email here.

Many thanks to Nagaijin for telling me of the story.

April 1, 2007

By chris page

Magazine editor, writer of fiction and non-fiction; exile; cat person; red wine for blood and cheese in his soul. Chris Page is the author of the novels Weed, Sanctioned, Another Perfect Day in ****ing Paradise, King of the Undies World, and The Underpants Tree. He is also a freelance journalist, copywriter, editor, cartoonist, illustrator, graphic designer, and consultant in the use and abuse of false moustaches (don’t wear them — you’re welcome — the invoice is in the mail).

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