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Some NHK board members troubled by return of director with ties to Abe gov't

Yuji Itano (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Multiple members of NHK's Board of Governors have expressed concerns about the public broadcaster's reinstatement of former executive director Yuji Itano, whose close ties to the government have drawn fire, sources close to the situation said.

NHK President Ryoichi Ueda promised to "work hard while keeping such concerns in mind." The executive directorship is the third highest-ranking post in NHK's board following the president and executive vice president.

The reinstatement of Itano, who is said to have reflected the government's views in program production and broadcasting, has sparked criticism even within the public broadcaster. Two of 12 board members -- Yumiko Sato and Izumi Kobayashi -- abstained from the vote on NHK's personnel reshuffle plan at an April 9 Board of Governors meeting.

"Opposition would be voiced to appointment of Mr. Itano," Sato was quoted by sources as telling the meeting.

Ueda responded by saying, "I know that there are people who are concerned" about Itano's appointment, but emphasized he would like Itano to work to reform the NHK group, according to the sources.

While stopping short of voicing opposition to Itano's reinstatement, governor Masako Ii warned Itano that she "would like him to act humbly."

(Japanese original by Tomohiro Inoue, Hisanori Yashiro and Naoyuki Inukai, Cultural News Department)

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