You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

New NHK Boss Katsuto Momii Stokes Controversy

HONG KONG and TOKYO — The new president of NHK, Katsuto Momii, stirred up controversy this weekend when he made several inflammatory comments, including a statement that the public broadcaster’s programming should follow the Japanese government line.
The 70-year old former president of Nihon Unisys and a VP of the Mitsui trading house, Momii was recently appointed to a three-year term as NHK president, a post that gives him considerable power to shape the broadcaster’s policies.
Momii told reporters that the pubcaster, which has long insisted on its editorial independence, should not “much deviate from the position of the [Japanese] government in its programming,” using the example of Japan’s territorial tussles with China and South Korea.
He defended the controversial bill for the protection of state secrets pushed by conservative prime minister Shinzo Abe and passed into law late last year by a parliament dominated by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party allies. “It’s pointless to question [the bill] now that it’s been made into law,” Momii said.
“When the government says ‘right,’ we can’t say ‘left,'” Momii said.

Momii’s remarks have the potential to damage NHK’s reputation abroad. The broadcaster is a major force in factual programming and is renown as a developer of broadcasting technology.

Momii’s speech was quickly picked up in China, Korea and The Philippines. There his comments about the Japanese military’s past use of Chinese, Korean and Filipina sex slaves – referred to as “comfort women” — sparked indignation. Momii said the practice was common in any country at war.

In an English-language clip on NHK World (pictured), the company’s international service, Momii took a less inflammatory line.

“My approach to management has always been frank and open to our clients and colleagues, and to get a clear understanding of their needs.

“Now that I am entering the field of broadcasting, I will do my very best to provide you with fair, impartial, and accurate news reporting and high quality programming of all kinds.

“Especially at this time, with Asia’s development drawing global attention, we take our responsibility very seriously. With a commitment to independent journalism, NHK will continue to provide high-quality information from Japan and throughout the region,” he said.

Although NHK funds its operations mostly viewer fees, its budget is subject to parliamentary approval. The firm’s 12-member board of governors, which supervises NHK, though not on a day-to-day basis, is also appointed by parliament. The pubcaster, however, has long insisted that it is not a state broadcaster.

The Asahi Shimbun newspaper has reported that Momii has since retracted his remarks about comfort women.

More Biz

  • Paramount

    Justice Department Goes to Court to Lift Paramount Consent Decrees

    The Justice Department filed a motion in federal court on Friday to terminate the Paramount consent decrees, the agreements that have governed the theatrical business for 70 years. Makan Delrahim, the head of the department’s antitrust division, announced in a speech on Monday that he would take action to end the decrees, which he argued [...]

  • Sam Hunt Country and Pop Hitmakers

    Sam Hunt Apologizes for ‘Selfish’ Decision to Drive Under the Influence

    Country singer-songwriter Sam Hunt, who was arrested in Nashville on charges of driving under the influence and possession of an open container early Thursday morning, tweeted an apology for the incident Friday afternoon. “Thursday night I decided to drive myself home after drinking at a friend’s show in downtown Nashville,” he wrote. “It was a [...]

  • The Edge, Adam Clayton and Bono

    U2 Tops Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran as Highest-Grossing Touring Artist of the Decade

    U2 topped the Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift as the top-grossing touring artist of the 2010s, according to data from Pollstar. U2 grossed more than a billion dollars — $1,038,104,132, to be exact — although that number is likely to grow, as the group is currently on its “Joshua Tree 2019” tour in Australia, New [...]

  • supreme court byron allen comcast

    Africa Channel Owner, Congressional Black Caucus Blast Comcast Over Byron Allen Case

    The Congressional Black Caucus and an owner of cable’s Africa Channel have turned up the pressure on Comcast, blasting the cable giant for its business practices and legal strategy in fighting Byron Allen’s racial discrimination lawsuit. Paula Madison, an owner of The Africa Channel (TAC), issued a lengthy statement criticizing Comcast for what she characterized [...]

  • Def Jam Logo

    Layoffs Hit Def Jam Records

    Def Jam Records laid off several employees this week, including executive VP of brand strategy and content Noah Callahan-Bever and OJ Lima, senior VP in that department, a source close to the situation has confirmed to Variety. A total of seven employees let go, a number that includes regional promotion staffers not based in New [...]

  • The Story of Erroll Garner, the First

    The True Story of Erroll Garner, the First Artist to Sue a Major Label and Win

    It’s not at all unusual for artists to engage in creative or financial differences with their record labels, but only a few end up in court. Last year, Kanye West sued his label, Universal, and publisher, EMI, claiming that his deals amounted to “servitude” (the EMI suit was settled in September), echoing Prince’s famous battle [...]

  • Peter Gray

    Columbia Records Names Peter Gray Executive VP/ Head of Promotion

    Peter Gray, who stepped down as Warner Bros. Records’ executive VP/GM and head of radio promotion last year, is joining Columbia Records as the label’s EVP and head of promotion, sources tell Variety. He fills the role vacated by Lee Leipsner, who left the company in March. Gray’s appointment is the latest in a series [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content