NHK Radio Japan broadcasts in English to Europe, via the Skelton transmitter in Cumbria from 0500 to 0530 UTC on 5975kHz and via Germany for a 30 minute broadcast on 9790kHz from 1200-1230 UTC. (This schedule is until the changes on the last Sunday of March 2011).
They have been two easy catches this past B-10 shortwave season, be it waking you up or as an audio accompaniment to your lunch.
Their coverage of the earthquake and tsunami have been excellent, with measured news bulletins, reports and updates. They have been factual and informative, without the near hysteria that I have witnessed on certain television networks. Updates on the missing thousands in various coastal towns and the mounting casualty toll.
On Saturday 12 March, 24 hours after the earthquake struck, they reported that South Korea were the first nation to arrive with help, and that the nuclear power plants were in danger of meltdown and potentially contaminating land, air, sea and population. They hoped that things were under control but by their next broadcast were reporting that this was sadly not the case.
On Monday 14 March they also reported on German chancellor Angela Merkel’s concerns that if a safe and secure nation like Japan cannot guarantee nuclear power safety then no country can, and that she would immediately be scaling back on Germany’s nuclear power dependency.
NHK’s Helen Lewis and David Crystal carried a moving report from a Japanese female reporter who had been covering an unrelated story in the field, literally- with some farmers, for two days before the earthquake. She recorded live as the earthquake hit and 30 minutes later the town she was in was swallowed up, making her and hundreds around her refugees. They survived on scallops and shellfish thrown inland by the tsunami.
She asked “How could it possibly be restored as the town it was?”
Surviving residents were stoical: “I have lost everything in an instant.” “But we must do what we can.”
On the horror of the tsunami- “It was over in an instant. It was too fast to escape if you waited till the sea came over the wall. There was a roaring sound like I had never heard before.” “It became very cold at night even with the bonfire. Many have lost everything- their work, their homes, their way of life.”