After something of a hiatus, they seem to be twisting arms again.
You are "really morally obligated" to join in the ranks of NHK supporters! Even if you don't have a TV, you MUST get yourself registered as a non-TV owner!... along with all my reasons for refusing to make a contract to pay like a good little boy.
It's like they want to be able to charge me with perjury if they can prove we ever watch NHK TV. Or something like that.
I have to beg them for an exception, which means I have to tell them all sorts of personal information, like how much I make a year.
And you should have a TV, of course. Sumo wrestling, Noh and Kabuki, the children's programs and all the traditional stuff. You have to support this so they don't have to beg for advertisers! And the true news about what's happening in the government and the world can only be protected if we do it this way. If a broadcast company has advertisers, HORRORS! THEY MIGHT LIE!!!!
And what was that news recently about the corruption in NHK management? Something about using NHK money to hire a car for some private business or something? I'm supposed to assume that, by forcing me to pay a hidden tax on owning a TV, NHK purifies itself somehow from the tendency to present biased news?
My son doesn't have to register for the draft, but I have to register for the hidden TV tax.
Why does this make me think of North Korea and the party-line news?
Is there more than a coincidental correlation between the number of people refusing to contract to pay the hidden TV tax and the ascendancy of alternative political parties?
I did not put pen to paper, said I would do some research.
Don't get me wrong. If I had the money, and if it weren't presented as a legal obligation, I'd be willing to just donate straight out, no bothering with the pledge process or whatever. I was a supporter of public TV in the States when I had the money, and, what I have seen of NHK, it's worth supporting.
I'm not quite ccomfortable with the current director general, Katsuto Momii, saying he's going to toe the government line on certain controversial news (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katsuto_Momii), but NHK was generally pretty good when we had a TV fifteen years ago.
As long as there are alternate news sources.
If supporting NHK is not by force.
(If you are interested in Momii's views, you'll want to check out the Japanese wikipedia page on Momii: https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/籾井勝人. Scan down to 「就任記者会見での質疑応答」。 Unfortunately, some of the links seem to be stale, but the sports news pages still seem to be there.)
So I checked this out on the web.
According to wikipedia (https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/NHK受信料), Japanese law says that any household that is equipped to receive NHK TV broadcasts has an obligation to contract with NHK to pay for the privilege. In other words, there would seem to be a hidden tax on owning a TV of any sort, including the "1seg" receivers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1seg) that come built-in with most Japanese cell phones these days and allow them to become tiny TVs.
Now, there is currently no punishment specified for failing to make such a contract. In fact, the nature of the obligation is not specified, leading me to think that the only reason that law passed was the assumption at the time that it would be read as a moral obligation, not a legal one. (And if that's not the case, why the social pressure to just pay up and be done with it? Why the hard-sell tactics that, seriously, are a breach of the law in any other case?)
If you read the NHK site (https://pid.nhk.or.jp/jushinryo/about_1.html) on the contract, they do not want you to think so, however. IT'S THE LAW!
You have a moral obligation to make the pledge to support state TV, and if you make the pledge, you have to pay. You can be punished if you make the pledge and fail to pay.
The latter part of that makes sense. A pledge is a contract.
The former part, no.
TV is an imposition on our daily lives. It is not an unmixed service. We have no obbligation to support any TV station purely out of taxes, whether acknowledged tax or hidden tax.
News about natural disasters does not an obligation make, and the rest, noble as the cause is, must be optional or it amounts to state religion and state media.
The fact that NHK is technically separated from the government does not solve the problem. Because it is specified in the law and implied to be required of everyone, it is state media.
According to this article (http://www.nikkan-gendai.com/articles/view/news/159102/2) in Nikkan Gendai (日刊ゲンダイ) a court has ruled that there is no enforcement for failing to make the contract, only for failing to pay if you do make the contract. That might be good news.
Peer pressure was once considered anything but pure goodness.
Technically speaking, if this hidden tax on owning a TV is supposed to have the full weight of law, they should not hide it. It should either be part of the price of a TV, or there should be big notices and reminders at the appliances stores and the cell phone stores that owning a TV imposes an obligation to pay the tax.
The fact that it is hidden makes it clear that some of those responsible understand what they are doing is not going to stand exposure to the light of day.
Radio was separated from this law in the '60s, and internet is currently outside the law. Areas where reception is difficult because of the terrain, or because they are near airports get some sort of exception. This indicates to me that NHK's hard sell was not part of what was originally envisioned for the law.
There are many people among NHK management, and some politicians, who think that the internet should be brought into the fold, as it were. And there are some that say everyone should pay this hidden tax, whether they have a TV or not. Momii has been reported to say, "It would be wonderful if everyone had to pay!"
(On wikipedia's NHK fees page, https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/NHK受信料, scroll down to 「籾井会長の「（受信料の支払いを）義務化できればすばらしい」発言」。 Asahi reports this at http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH353S5FH35UCVL004.html at this point in time. Hopefully, a search on 「義務化できればすばらしい」will still find some full quotes when that link goes stale.)
Sure. And it would be wonderful if I had guaranteed income, too.
No, it would not be wonderful. I'd get lazy. I want to think I would know better, but my work history shows me that I would get lazy. I'd quit doing things that contribute to society. Guaranteed income is like that. It makes you lazy, makes you willing to toe the party line. That whole line about keeping the news clean from government or other interference is pure conceit.
The Japanese government owes it to it's own citizens to give the people control over NHK by making them go to the people for contributions, not tax payments, like any self-respecting public TV station.
The NHK page on the amount of the current tax: https://pid.nhk.or.jp/jushinryo/NewContractTop.do. Current charge is about JPY 14,000 a year for over-the-air, almost double for cable. That would be about USD 140, plus or minus, depending on the valleys and peaks in the exchange rate. At any rate, it's asking my family to go without food about two weeks a year.
Following links around there will show additional information, such as, if you are living in a dorm and have a TV there, you are not covered by your parents' payments, and if your household is a two or three generation household, each generation is expected to pay, etc.
Here's the law, itself: http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S25/S25HO132.html.
(I'm not looking forward to translating this into Japanese, but I think I'd better. It'll probably take me three good days' work that I don't have.)