The newest payment rate of NHK fees per household by prefecture in 2015 was reported by NHK in 2016. Nationwide average payment rate was 76.6% and the leading prefecture that keeps the highest payment rate was Akita prefecture and its rate was 97.6%.(up about 0.6% from the previous year).

The lowest ranked prefecture was Okinawa (up about 1.6 % from the previous year). In metropolitan areas like Osaka and Tokyo, payment rate was quite low level considering population statistics. Tokyo’s rate was 65.5% and Osaka’s rate was 60.6%.

Hokkaido and Kyoto’s payment rate is also low level. Hokkaido’s rate is 66.9% and Kyoto’s rate is 70.3%.

NHK is only a broadcasting company that collects reception fees in Japan

NHK (Nihon- Housou-Kyoukai = Japan BroadCasting Corporation) is in charge of public broadcast, which is not regarded as the national broadcasting but a public broadcast corporation established on the basis of the Broadcast Act.
NHK is an extra-governmental organization managed by the Ministry of Public Management. Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications. HNK’s annual revenue is 700 billion yen (6.4 billion dollars) and it is the largest broadcasting company in Japan.

HNK’s attitude towards broadcasting is clearly regulated by the Broadcast Act which is like political fairness and diversified definitions of the point in dispute. It is also regulated in Broadcast Act that TV wave recipients need to pay reception fees. The majority of NHK’s revenue is supported by recipients’ payment, who has a TV has reception equipment that satisfies the requirements of the Broadcast Act

In addition, HNK has regularly a subsidy from the government in terms of contribution of international broadcasting.

Why do we need to pay reception fees to NHK?

The factor that payment obligation is regulated by the Broadcast Act is one of the reasons but the biggest reason that NHK collect fees from nations is to guarantee neutrality of coverage contents from the position of public broadcasting.

Revenue source of commercial broadcasting is mainly from advertising revenue such as a commercial message from companies. For that reason, a report that contains disadvantageous information for advertisers is subject to avoidance from being broadcasted even if it is a truth.

NHK is defined as “public broadcasting” so it has quite strict regulations on coverage contents compared to commercial broadcasting companies. This factor makes NHK stick to its position on not contracting with advertisers and not broadcasting commercial messages so that broadcasting fairness is required to only NHK. Therefore, fair revenue source is needed instead of advertise revenue.

NHK is obliged to send airwave to any households nation-widely and consider that every single person can enjoy TV program from physically handicapped people to old people so for example, endeavor to creating TV programs translated into sign language is indispensable to satisfy all people’s demand.

NHK has a TV program that it is required to broadcast such as live televised broadcasts of parliamentary proceedings, election campaign speeches and evacuation guidance of big disaster, whose contents don’t contribute to program rating and are not sponsored by any advertisers. These costs borne also need fairness.

There has been a discussion why not NHK is incorporated into one of primary governmental organizations as a state-run enterprise and collect revenue from national treasury supported by nation’s tax lately

However, TV was one of luxury goods at the time NHK was established in Japan so from the principle that beneficiaries should pay for a project, collecting reception fees from recipient was the most fair collecting way in those days.

What happens if you refuse reception payment?

I just want to talk about that situation that you hold off payment.

If you hold off payment, unpaid reception bills is sent to your place repeatedly and a NHK regional staff visit your place directly. Staffs are not official worker of HNK but employee of a company consigned by NHK.

If you stick to the position of no payment in spite of frequent requests from regional staffs, there is a case that documents about demand for payment is sent to your place in the name of a summary court. Mostly people who get this document has ignored payment for about 4 to 5 years.

HNK will file demand for payment with summary court and have it issue a demand letter to send to a defaulter.

When you receive a Demand letter, if you don’t take exception to NHK, NHK automatically win case and one of your property is forcibly seized by NHK.

Actually, there was prescription system that reception payment is not billed to a defaulter by tracking back over 5 years ago. In short, if you are a defaulter, you need to pay amount of 5-year fee at the worst even if you didn’t pay for more than 6 years.
It costs you around 80,000 yen if you did pay for 5 years straight.

However, this system has been removed since the trial about the issue of freedom of contract was judged.

So far, HNK have hardly taken measure to defaulters by filling demand for payment with a summary court because the amount of payment by legal order is very small compared to all the effort to collecting payment by appealing to the law thanks to the prescription system.

But from now on, HNK will take a fairly aggressive attitude on payment demand. You should pay attention to this.

Legal grounds

“Report accurate information and a rich culture without discrimination to anybody anywhere anytime ”

NHK explains this motto as the objective to accomplish in order not to be influenced by specific powers and organizations but to secure independency. This is the official reason of collecting reception fees from nations.

NHK requires legal grounds to the broadcast act. NHK explains “a person who install a reception equipment has obligation to make a contract with NHK” on the basis of the broadcast act.

Article 64 of the broadcast act (reception contract and reception fees)

clause 1

Persons installing reception equipment capable of receiving NHK broadcasts conclude a contract with NHK for the reception of those broadcasts; provided, however, that this does not apply to those persons who have installed reception equipment not intended for the reception of broadcasts or reception equipment only capable of receiving radio broadcasts (meaning broadcasts comprising of voices and other sounds that do not come under television broadcasting or multiple broadcasting; the same applies in Article 126, paragraph (1)) or multiple broadcasting.

clause 2

NHK must not exempt the fees for receiving broadcasts to be collected from persons who have concluded a contract pursuant to the provisions of the main text of the preceding paragraph unless the exemption is pursuant to the standards which have been authorized by the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications in advance.

clause 3

NHK must obtain authorization from the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications in advance with regard to the terms of the contract set forth in paragraph (1). The same applies when making amendments thereto.

clause 4

Broadcasts which are simultaneous un-edited re-transmissions of NHK broadcasts are deemed to be NHK broadcasts, and the three preceding paragraphs apply to the broadcasts.

Article 70 (Income and Expenditure Budgets, Business Plans and Funding Plans)

clause 4

tablished through the National Diet approving the income and expenditure budget set forth in paragraph (1).

The supreme court concluded the judgement of ordering payment of 200 thousands yen

In December 2017, a trial under the issue of freedom of contract written on the Japanese constitution and compulsive reception contract by NHK was held. This trial was held between a man who refused to pay reception fees for a long time and NHK. The supreme court judged reception fee system was constitutionality and ordered a man the payment of 200 thousands yen which is the amount of unpaid retrospective reception fees.

In February 9, 2018, the supreme court ordered the payment of reception fees to a hotel with TV in every rooms that refused to pay for a long time. Like these, there is increasing concern about NHK reception fees payment.

A series of trials on reception fee payment not only raise a question about no payment but also makes people obliged to pay fees proactively. After the trials, the number of contracts has increased sharply and the number of proactive application of contract increased 5 times more than the previous month as of December 2017 even though over 9 million households were still under unpaid.

Why the supreme court judged compulsive reception fee system constitutionality

The supreme court didn’t directly indicate discrepancy between freedom of contract regulated in the constitution and article 64 of the broadcast act but just ambiguously concluded that how NHK is as public broadcasting organization, is not against the constitution and took care not to commit itself about contract freedom.

This judgement is not acceptance about contradictive issues raised up in NHK. NHK is not an organization belonging to a public sector in the category of criminal law but of civil law. NHK itself has no power of enforcing articles written on the broadcast act.

When we heard the news of this case, a man who refused payment lost case superficially but it was a draw match because NHK firstly hoped that reception contract is automatically concluded without agreement of a recipient two weeks after payment notification but the sentence says unless HNK win each case as often as holding trials, reception contract is not accepted legally.

This judgement is based on civil law and there is no compulsion against reception contract so the problem was not perfectly solved by this case.

Why NHK doesn’t try to install scramble broadcast system?

HNK has a role of providing TV programs that natures a rich culture and accurate information which becomes the basis of social life without being influenced by specific viewers and profit to anybody anywhere anytime without discrimination as a public broadcasting organization supported by reception fees paid by viewers nation-widely.

This is the answer of HNK not installing scramble broadcast system. Its answer doesn’t touch the core what happens if installing scramble broadcast system but what they worry about is quite simple which is bankruptcy.

Installing it means to give choices to people on weather they will watch NHK program or not. Seemingly, there is possibility that people who cancel or refuse contract increase then HNK faces a bankruptcy. 80 to 90 percent of revenue was supported by reception fees from recipients. It is said among some experts that if HNK installs scramble system, it can run only for 5 years or less.

If HNK insists that reception payment is nation’s obligation, collecting revenue from nations all at once forcibly such as taxes in the first place. Of course, there are a lot of problems to solve like renovation of broadcast act and independency of HNK.

I am Gaijin. Do I need to pay this fee?

The answer of question from HNK is

Even if you are non-Japanese, if you have a TV with reception equipment which you can watch NHK programs, you must make a contract with NHK. However, exceptionally, if you are a diplomat personnel, you are not covered by reception contract in deference to an international practice (Practice of reciprocity in the international society)

Unfortunately, even if you are non-Japanese, you have an obligation to pay reception fees to NHK. But, for those who don’t really want to pay reception fee, I will tell you the cheating.

Making a call to 0120151515 and you just try to say “I am going back to my country or moving to another prefecture” That’s it

When I stayed in Japan temporarily for one month before moving back to Australia (I made a living in Australia then), I made a call to HNK and said “I am going back to Australia so I want to terminate my contract” The procedure has done on the phone. I was’t demanded payment then.

However, if you have TV in your room even if the room is arranged by a company you work for, you are automatically recipient of NHK. If you can afford to pay reception fees, you should pay as much as possible.

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