A collective petition that contains 33,802 signatures was submitted by seven citizens groups to Jaan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) on April 21 demanding the resignations of NHK President Katsuto Momii and two members of the network’s board of governors. The groups – which include a large monitoring body that calls themselves the “viewers’ community that monitors and advises NHK,” and the Japan Congress of Journalists – said that they will not be paying viewer fees if their demands are not acted upon by the network.
A lot of concerns were raised about Momii’s political objectivity when he said in his inaugural speech that NHK programming under his administration would basically be echoing the Japanese government’s stance, especially on the territorial disputes the country has with its neighbors China and South Korea, as well as believing that the use of “comfort women” was a normal practice by all nations during times of war. After that speech Momii has appeared publicly several times, apologizing for the “confusion” he has caused and saying that he was stating only his personal opinions. “Momii has attempted to stay in his position as president by appearing on a NHK TV program to give an account to viewers on April 13,” said Satoshi Daigo, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo and co-leader of the NHK viewers’ community. “But the relationship of trust with viewers has already collapsed.”
NHK, as Japan’s official public broadcaster, operates mainly on viewer fees that are collected from anyone who owns a TV set, smartphone and other such media devices where people can view its programming. There are no penalties for nonpayment, but the seven groups who submitted the petition say that they are looking to wage a campaign against NHK and trying to stop people from paying their viewer fees if Momii and the two other governors Hyakuta and Hasegawa are do not step down from their positions by the end of this April. The group has already demanded that NHK dismiss Momii and the two governors in February, and this petition is the reiteration of its demand.