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Japan public broadcaster NHK taps ex-BOJ director as next chief

This supplied photo shows Nobuo Inaba. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's public broadcaster NHK said Monday it has decided to name Nobuo Inaba, former executive director of the Bank of Japan, as its next president, effective Jan. 25.

    Inaba, 72, who will replace incumbent Terunobu Maeda, former chairman of Mizuho Financial Group Inc., will inherit the challenges of streamlining operations while further embracing digital technologies during his three-year term. Since 2008, NHK has had five former private company executives in a row as its president.

    Inaba will take on the post after NHK decided in October to lower its viewer subscription fees by 10 percent next fall, its largest cut ever. The move would hurt the broadcaster's income at a time when the number of viewing contracts is falling.

    He will be tasked to steer discussions on ways to strengthen online streaming of its programs in the face of the popularity of Netflix and other digital content services, with younger generations spending less time watching TV.

    The public broadcaster's expansion of its online services would likely face opposition from private broadcasters.

    "The government hopes for Inaba to exert strong leadership as the top official of a public broadcaster entrusted with socially important missions to fulfill," top government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference.

    The chief Cabinet secretary said the government would like him to carry on with such reforms as slimming down the organization, cutting viewing fees and strengthening governance.

    Inaba, a native of Shizuoka Prefecture, joined the Bank of Japan in 1974. After serving posts such as the director general of the Bank Examination and Surveillance Department, he was executive director at the central bank from 2004 to 2008. He was once considered within the bank to be a candidate for BOJ governor.

    In 2008, he became special adviser to Ricoh Co. He served as chairman of the office equipment manufacturer's board of directors from 2017 to June this year.

    He is currently executive adviser at Ricoh Institute of Sustainability and Business.

    The selection was made final after the Board of Governors, NHK's top decision-making body, endorsed Inaba as the new president at its meeting Monday.

    NHK, formally known as Japan Broadcasting Corp., previously had presidents chosen from its own executives or those at major newspapers.

    Since 2008, however, the broadcaster has selected former private firm executives to run it, including Katsuto Momii, former vice president of trading house Mitsui & Co., and Ryoichi Ueda, former vice president of trading house Mitsubishi Corp.

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