The NHK controversy was further fueled last week by public comments attributed to the same two board members who spoke out on programming at the board meeting.
In a speech supporting a conservative Tokyo gubernatorial candidate, Hyakuta said the 1937 Nanjing massacre of Chinese civilians and disarmed soldiers by Japanese troops was a fabrication. He also accused the US forces that occupied Japan after the war of brainwashing the population with a self-denigrating view of Japan’s wartime history.
Two days later, the Japanese newspaper Mainichi revealed that board member Hasegawa, a professor of Japanese culture, had written an essay last fall praising a right-wing extremist who committed suicide in 1993 to protest a liberal magazine article.
Abe acknowledged that the four new board members are his trusted people, but denied any intention to exercise influence over NHK. The four joined the board as part of its partial membership renewal.
Experts say political influence is a longstanding problem at NHK. The broadcaster was criticized for altering a 2001 program on wartime Japanese sex slavery, allegedly after Abe and another ruling-party lawmaker complained, although both sides denied political pressure caused the change.