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New NHK governors' board chairman a product of political influence

An NHK governor believed to have endorsed Katsuto Momii for his current position as president of the public broadcaster has been picked as the new chairman of the NHK governors' board with support from the political world.

NHK governor Ryoichi Ueda, who also serves as its Audit Committee member, said that board members chose Susumu Ishihara for the board's new chairman after judging his overall performance such as his contributions to the board. This kind of explanation, however, will not win viewers' understanding.

When questions were raised by some governors over Momii's manner of speaking in a board of governors' meeting at the end of 2013 where he was appointed NHK president, it was Ishihara who assured them of Momii, saying, "He understands the importance of his remarks from his experience of serving as a company vice president and president. There is no need to worry."

However, Momii repeatedly sparked controversy over his comments after assuming office, which resulted in an unusual situation in the Diet where deliberations on the budget for NHK did not end with unanimous approval for three straight years.

Momii came under fire yet again in March last year when it emerged that he had had NHK temporarily pay for his use of limousine cabs for private purposes. Ishihara was one of the NHK governors who pushed the board to quickly draw the curtain on the issue out of concern for its effects on Diet budget deliberations.

According to sources close to the matter, some governors endorsed the board's acting chairman Katsuhiko Honda as the new chairman during the June 28 meeting. Backed by the political world, however, Ishihara, who is rumored to have successfully made Momii the NHK president in association with Finance Minister Taro Aso, won support from other governors, resulting in a unanimous vote in the end. Now that he has become board chairman, Ishihara needs to prove doubters wrong by leading an NHK makeover from the perspective of regular viewers. (By Susumu Maruyama, Cultural News Department)

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