By Kitano Hiromi
In the defense white paper approved by the Cabinet in July, the government designated Self-Defense Forces (SDF) public relations activities as important, saying, “It is important to gain the public’s trust and cooperation” in the activities of the Ministry of Defense (MOD) and the SDF. As if in step with this, four key commercial TV broadcasters aired a total of more than ten programs featuring the SDF during the period from January to July this year, the Shimbun Akahata has learned.
Boarding a fighter jet, touring a destroyer
Nippon Television Network featured the SDF seven times on three separate programs, including the “Futto word 10 [ Buzz word 10] (aired on Fridays).” The broadcaster visited SDF facilities and closely covered SDF training. A comedian and a TV idol, who say they “love” the SDF, boarded a fighter jet and toured a destroyer.
On a Nippon TV program aired in May, a male comedian visited the Ministry of Defense (MOD) in Tokyo’s Ichigaya district, saying, “I was summoned by the defense minister.” The program covered the SDF’s training and the capabilities and cost of a ground-to-air missile deployed to the MOD. Further, the program showed Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo handing a letter of gratitude to the comedian for “enhancing the public’s understanding of the MOD and the SDF.”
The MOD told the Shimbun Akahata, “We do not pay advertising fees to TV broadcasters.” It added that the TV celebrity’s decompression training to board the fighter jet and the test flight itself “will not generate costs because they were done with other SDF personnel.”
The Shimbun Akahata asked Nippon TV, which aired more programs on the SDF than any other TV broadcaster, about its intention behind the programs and whether it was requested by the SDF to produce such programs. “We do not answer questions about our production process,” said Nippon TV, adding, “There was no monetary exchange” for the TV appearances by the SDF and its personnel.
[In addition to Nippon TV, TBS, TV Asahi, and TV Tokyo also broadcast programs featuring the SDF during the January-July period.] (Abridged)