Musings about Japan and life as a human, a cosplayer, a minority, a music lover, an English teacher.

My Mistake with NHK

On Japanese television, there is one channel called “NHK,” which stands for “Nippon Housou Kyoukai,” meaning “Japan Broadcasting Corporation.” I can’t really go into what type of programs they air, since I don’t even watch it. I guess it’s kind of like the Japanese version of the BBC.

Anyway, if you are a resident in Japan and own a TV, you’re supposedly required to pay a subscription fee. Even if you don’t watch NHK. Even if you don’t watch TV at all.

With the number of corruption scandals involving NHK in recent years, an increasing number of Japanese people are refusing to pay their subscription fees (just Google “NHK subscription fee and a few articles will come up). There’s really no penalty for not paying the fee either.

So this morning, a man I didn’t know rung the doorbell. I didn’t answer, and he left immediately.

Later in the evening, he came back and rung again. I didn’t answer, and then he rung for a second time, and for a split second I thought that maybe it was something important, so foolish me decided to open the door.

Blah blah blah, the same “you own a TV?” crap that I had once gotten a few months ago. This guy looked a little more determined than the first one who showed up months ago, so I felt I couldn’t avoid what was coming.

I was also stupid enough to write in my name and phone number as requested, and paid the 1,345 yen fee. I rolled my eyes as this guy placed his bag right in my apartment doorway as he tried to calculate change for my 5,000 yen bill. I would’ve given him the 345 yen in change, but decided that it wasn’t worth the effort to make the math easier for him.

Along the way I pretended like I could barely speak Japanese. And I’d continue to do so, but I don’t think I’ll need to since I don’t plan on answering the door again if I see someone that looks like they’re from NHK, and I don’t plan on answering my phone if they try to call. They can have my 1,345 yen and hopefully they can manage to use it for something legitimate before some other corrupt CEO gets to it.

Besides, NHK airs Kouhaku Uta Gassen every year, so they’re good for something.


3 responses to “My Mistake with NHK

  1. Alex January 19, 2014 at 2:34 am

    Hi! I just read your post and I was wondering if you are still paying your NHK subscription. I made the same mistake and I was wondering what to do next. Any advice?

    • sooyong January 19, 2014 at 8:48 am

      If they have your phone number and address, they’ll send you bills and occasionally try to call you. There are no consequences to ignoring them. If you’re not sure whether to answer an unknown number or not, at least one of their phone numbers starts with 050.

      Also, I believe that they can tell whether a TV exists in a home or not, because of the digital TV antennas used all over Japan now. I’ve noticed that whenever I’ve turned on my TV, about a day or two later, someone (I assume from NHK) comes and rings the doorbell. I haven’t turned on my TV in at least four or five months and he hasn’t visited since. Most of Japanese TV is worthless anyway, so if you can refrain from watching television, you might not be bothered.

  2. charthreetimes January 19, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Ah gotcha. They asked me to mail them the money. I haven’t done so since the first payment and I am kind of assuming you haven’t either. I don’t have a TV, so big plus!
    I thought about calling them directly and cancelling the subscription or talking with my BOE manager, but I’m not so sure how that will work out.

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