Japan Broadcasting Corporation

Tokyo, Japan | C.1965

Photo Credit: @jjwilsonphoto

The business of broadcasting in Japan has early origins dating back to the 1920s. Radio frequencies first hit the country’s airwaves in 1925 when the Tokyo Broadcasting Station aired its first radio broadcast. The next year, they merged with Osaka, and Nagoya Broadcasting Stations to form the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, also known as NHK.

Closely modeled after the BBC, the NHK quickly expanded, adding its second radio station in 1931, and a third six years later. Just before the onset of WW2, NHK had begun international broadcasting in English and Japanese under the name ‘Radio Tokyo’.

During WW2, the Imperial Japanese Army nationalized all public news agencies to share official announcements. NHK broadcasted the Tokyo Rose wartime programs, an all-female, English-speaking radio broadcast that intended to spread Japanese propaganda in the South Pacific and North America as a way to demoralize Allied forces abroad by promoting wartime struggles & military losses. NHK also broadcasted the surrender speech made by Emperor Hirohito in 1945.

Years later, NHK would become a listener-supported independent corporation thanks to the Broadcasting Act. In 1950, the station began broadcasting on television eventually introducing educational & color programming. NHK has since been the leader in major international telecasts including the 1964 Summer Olympics – the first Olympic Games to be televised internationally and partially in color.

Since the early beginnings, NHK has continued its history of innovation. Now known for its world-class documentaries and television series, they are also known for their strides in high-resolution broadcasting. In 2018, NHK became the first in the world to offer programming in 8K resolution.

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