Japan profile - Media

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Image caption Japan has spearheaded the roll-out of broadcast technologies

Japanese broadcasting is advanced and vibrant, with public and commercial outlets in keen competition.

Media freedom is constitutionally guaranteed and generally respected, says US-based Freedom House.

There are five national terrestrial TV companies, including public NHK, which also runs national radio networks. Most of NHK's funding comes from licence fees.

Many millions of viewers subscribe to satellite and cable pay TV. Japan spearheaded high-definition (HD) TV.

News, drama, variety shows and sport - especially baseball - garner large audiences. Imported TV shows are not staple fare on the main networks, but Western influences are apparent in home-made programmes.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption National papers sell in their millions

Japan was years ahead of the US and Europe in pioneering reality TV, in which ordinary people are placed in extraordinary situations.

Newspaper readership is very high, with some 80% of Japanese reading a paper every day. National dailies sell in their millions, boosted by afternoon and evening editions. An increasing number of newspapers charge for access to their websites.

More than 109 million people were online by December 2013 (InternetWorldStats). Mixi pioneered the social networking market in Japan while Line, co-developed between Japan and Korea, is popular on smartphones with the young. Around 75% of users access social media via mobile technology, which is sophisticated and ubiquitous.

The press


  • NHK - public, operates the General TV, Educational TV channels. NHK also runs HD satellite channels BS1 and BS Premium. NHK World is the organisation's international English-language channel.
  • TV Asahi - national commercial network
  • Fuji TV - national commercial network


  • NHK - public, operates news/speech-based Radio 1, cultural/educational network Radio 2, classical music-based network FM Radio, external service Radio Japan
  • Inter FM - Tokyo commercial music station
  • J-Wave - Tokyo commercial music station
  • Tokyo FM - Tokyo-based commercial network
  • TBS Radio - network operated by Tokyo Broadcasting System

News agency/internet

  • Kyodo - English-language pages