This paper analyzed how Japanese major newspapers have defined and discussed NHK=the public broadcaster’s norm and responsibility from 1980s now on. For this purpose, I have collected the editorials that included ‘NHK’ using the database of each newspaper, and carried out a discourse analysis on the editorials, focusing on the difference between the liberals(the Asashi and the Mainich) and the conservatives(the Yomiuri and the Sankei).
From 1980s to 1990s, the main issue regarding NHK had been its organizational and channel expansion, while political independence and impartiality issue was not a hot-debated issue regardless of the ideological difference between the two camps. However, since late 1990s, some delicate but significant differences between the two camps became noticeable with regard to the public broadcaster’s responsibility on political impartiality and fairness in the Japanese public sphere.
The liberal papers interpreted the doctrines based on the liberal model, but the conservatives had different perceptions of the same doctrine following the government model.
Ironically enough, it has been around the historical issue, especially about ‘the comfort women system’ by the imperial Japanese army that the controversy became extensive between the two camps. When, the controversy around the public broadcaster’s political independence and impartiality became fierce in 2005, 2007 and 2013, the comfort women issue was in the background, or in the center.In other words, the history problem has occupied the central positions in the controversy about the public broadcaster’s norm and responsibility. The paper argued that “the culture war” erupted by the conservative side, which claims to “historical revisionism”, have also been imposed on the discussion about the norms and responsibility of the public broadcaster. In the vortex, the liberal definition of public broadcasting that have been formed after the war and have symbolized the postwar democracy of Japan became a mere façade.