As more people called for the resignation of new NHK chief Katsuto Momii, the chairman accused reporters and placed the blame on Japanese media for his insensitive remarks about “comfort women.” Momii denounced South Korea’s repeated demands for Japan to pay the victims of sexual slavery during WWII, and described it as a common practice among warring nations in his first news conference as head of the public broadcasting company.
Speaking at an Upper House Budget Committee meeting, Momii put the blame on reporters when he was asked about the neutrality and fairness of NHK reporting. “While I may be going too far, I was made to say those things because I received questions (from reporters), so that is what led to the comments,” he said. He also maintained that NHK’s international broadcasts would remain to show the government’s stance on territorial disputes, in a statement that seemed to justify Abe’s December visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine.
When Momii recently earned additional public ire because of his demand for undated resignation letters from his 10 managing directors, Upper House member of the Democratic Party of Japan Masayoshi Nataniya instead called for Momii to resign. He responded, saying “I want to carry out my responsibilities as chairman while being aware of the weight of comments made by the NHK chairman.” Seemingly devoid of understanding as to why he was being attacked, Momii asked the Board of Governors who gave him a warning what was wrong with his comments, despite saying earlier that he regretting what was said due to inappropriateness. Constitutional law professor from Kobe Gakuin University, Hiroshi Kamiwaki, said “I feel absolutely no self-reflection on the part of Chairman Momii.” He added, “The situation is cause for concern about whether broadcasting independent of the government will be possible.” Kamiwaki is the head of a group of lawyers and scholars also seeking for the resignation of Momii.