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February 11, 2006

More English TV in Japan?

I guess someone told the prime minister that I am not paying my NHK fee. Why else would he say this:

TOKYO — Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Friday that Japan Broadcasting Corp (NHK) should offer more English-language programming in Japan for the benefit of foreign residents, according to Administrative Reform Minister Koki Chuma and Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe.

At Friday's cabinet meeting, the prime minister said more programs in English could be aired, "considering that NHK possesses a good number of channels including the main channel, another one for educational programs, satellite TV and FM and AM radio channels."

Koizumi told reporters Friday that more foreign-language programming should be offered to people outside Japan to let them learn more about the country. He said he has instructed Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Heizo Takenaka to study the matter.

Koizumi's comment followed his talks Thursday night with well-known foreigners working in Japan, in which they said NHK, the public broadcaster, should dedicate at least one of its channels to programming designed specifically for foreign residents, instead of the simultaneous translations of Japanese-language broadcasts, Chuma said.

Koizumi responded positively to the idea, the minister said.

At the cabinet meeting, other ministers also said NHK should do more to inform foreigners about Japan.

Science and technology minister Iwao Matsuda said, "Japanese who take part in international conferences are not disseminating sufficient information about Japan."

Foreign Minister Taro Aso said, "The British Broadcasting Corp receives advertisers' sponsorships for its overseas programs and NHK should do so if necessary."

At present, bilingual NHK news and other programs offered in Japanese and a foreign language total 11 hours a week on the broadcaster's main channel and the figure is 81 hours for its satellite BS1 channel. English- and Spanish-language news programs are also available on NHK's No. 2 radio channel.

Posted by Kirk on February 11, 2006 01:57 PM