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Next NHK president Ueda known as scrupulous businessman

Ryoichi Ueda (Mainichi)

After being appointed to replace public broadcaster NHK's gaffe-prone President Katsuto Momii, former Mitsubishi Corp. Vice President Ryoichi Ueda said at a news conference on the evening of Dec. 6, "I feel the pressure of assuming such a responsible position."

Ueda, a 67-year-old member of the NHK Board of Governors who had once served as Mitsubishi Corp. vice president, has a reputation for being scrupulous among his former bosses at Mitsubishi and NHK board members.

The remuneration for the president of NHK is rather small compared with that of top executives of private-sector companies and the NHK president is often called to the Diet to answer questions. Because of this, an NHK president's work is considered among businesspeople to be not worth the effort. Furthermore, Ueda is set to lead NHK through a difficult period as the public broadcaster, formally called Japanese Broadcasting Corp., is poised to enter a major reform phase in reviewing its reception fee system. One of his old friends correctly predicted that Ueda would assume the post of NHK president, saying, "He is a person who doesn't mind doing difficult things."

Hailing from Nagasaki Prefecture, Ueda learned to be humble about half a century ago when he was a university student. After graduating from La Salle Senior High School in Kagoshima, Ueda commuted to Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo from a dormitory built next to a La Salle monastery. He says he followed a simple, clean and dedicated way of life, following the example of a monk serving as the dorm master. When Ueda was with Mitsubishi Corp., he studied in France and worked in the United States. But he has long served as an accountant for the trading house and has been dubbed a "professional financier."

Ueda is extraordinarily good with figures and has established a solid reputation for his analytical and planning ability. Ueda is the only full-time member of the NHK Board of Governors and concurrently serves as an audit committee member. As an NHK governor, Ueda visited 53 broadcasting stations across the country to try to explore business challenges. In the Diet, meanwhile, Ueda has dealt with issues such as Momii's use of company funds for private purposes and a land purchase order worth billions of yen for an NHK group company.

At a talk targeting viewers and listeners organized by the NHK management board, Ueda once said, "It is important to broadcast programs that are for the public."

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