Japan profile - Media

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

Japan's broadcasting scene is technologically advanced and lively, with public and commercial media in keen competition.

Media freedom is constitutionally guaranteed, but Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says it has been in decline in recent years. The group says self-censorship is on the increase and many journalists are harassed by officials.

Five TV companies, including public NHK, run national terrestrial networks. Most of NHK's funding comes from licence fees. Many millions of viewers subscribe to satellite and cable pay TV. 

News, drama, variety shows and sport - especially baseball - have big audiences. Imported TV shows are not widely shown, but Western influences are apparent in domestic TV fare. 

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

The print sector is influential and highly trusted. National dailies sell in their millions, boosted by afternoon and evening editions. Some newspapers charge for online access.

Around 118 million people were online by 2017, comprising 94% of the population (InternetWorldStats). Line, co-developed between Japan and Korea, is by far the leading social and messaging application. Facebook and Instagram are widely used and Mixi is a home-grown social network.

The press


  • NHK - public, operates General TV, Educational TV. NHK World is a global English-language network


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

News agency/internet

  • Kyodo - English-language pages