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Japan Post scandal coverage critic elected NHK governing board chair

NHK Board of Governors Chairman Shunzo Morishita (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- NHK Board of Governor Acting Chairman Shunzo Morishita, who played a leading role in rebuking NHK's president over the public broadcaster's coverage of predatory insurance policy sales tactics by Japan Post Co., assumed the post of chairman on Dec. 24.

The NHK board unanimously voted to name Morishita, 74, who also serves as chairman of Hanshin Expressway Co., as chairman at a meeting on Dec. 24 under the Broadcasting Act to replace his predecessor, 74-year-old Susumu Ishihara, an adviser to Kyushu Railway Co. A few other members were nominated for the post but all of them declined but Morishita.

Morishita told a news conference upon his assuming the chairmanship, "It's a heavy responsibility, but I'll sincerely fulfill my duty. NHK faces important challenges, and to win the public's trust and fulfill its responsibility as a public broadcaster, I'll work to maintain a constructive tension with the executive board.

Morishita, who previously served as president of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone West Corp., was appointed as a member of NHK's governing board in 2015 and served as acting chairman since 2018.

The Board of Governors is the public broadcaster's top decision-making body responsible for monitoring its executive board. Along with next NHK President Terunobu Maeda, the governors will be tasked with the reform of NHK's business activities, subscription fee system and governance, as demanded by Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi.

The governing board will also be required to restore the public's confidence in NHK's independence as a broadcaster, which has been shaken by the board's warning to NHK President Ryoichi Ueda over its coverage of the Japan Post Insurance scandal.

(Japanese original by Susumu Maruyama and Yoshiaki Kobayashi, Cultural News Department)

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