Head of Japanese Broadcaster Demands Undated Resignation Letters From Board

6:44 AM PST 02/25/2014 by Gavin J. Blair
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NHK's new president Katsuto Momii held an extraordinary board meeting in Tokyo last month

NHK's outspoken president is causing widespread concern about the editorial independence and political direction of the broadcaster.

TOKYO – Katsuto Momii, the controversial new boss of Japanese public broadcaster NHK, has put all 10 members of the company's board on notice, forcing them to present him with undated resignation letters.

"You were chosen by the former chairman. I will decide my own path," Momii told a meeting of directors last month, according to local media reports. The board is responsible for running the public broadcaster. The meeting came on Momii's first official day as president.

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Before putting the entire board on notice and telling members that they can be fired at any time, the outspoken Momii had already caused widespread concern over NHK's direction. At his inaugural press conference in January, he provoked anger in South Korea and at home with comments that downplayed Japan's role in wartime sexual slavery. 

His comments back then were also taken as a declaration that NHK would not question the government.

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Momii is understood to have been handpicked, along with prominent nationalists appointed as NHK governors last year, by hawkish Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

NHK said that as of Feb. 19 it had received 18,400 comments from viewers about Momii’s statements at the press conference, with the majority of them being critical.

Twitter: @GavinJBlair

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