Last year, we brought you news of a court ruling in Yokohama which stipulated that anyone who owns a device capable of receiving a TV signal, regardless of whether they’ve entered into a contract with NHK (Japan’s public broadcasting station) or not, is legally obligated to pay the NHK licensing fee. An important point to note is that the fees are only paid once per household, and not according to the number of TV sets or devices capable of receiving a signal in the house.
However, a recent court decision seems to be taking the issue of NHK licensing fees in a whole new direction. On October 9, Tokyo District Court ruled in a first-of-its-kind lawsuit that the management company behind three Tokyo hotels must first enter into a contract with the public broadcaster. Furthermore, the hotels, all three of which had refused to enter into contracts despite repeated requests from NHK, must also pay their overdue licensing fees in proportion to the number of hotel rooms with TVs.
Just wait til you read how much money that all comes out to be…
Foreign residents of Japan: What do you do when the NHK fee collector comes knocking at your door? Do you fork over the money obediently? Or do you try to drive him away by stuttering excuses such as, “I don’t own a TV”?
While many people (Japanese included) flat-out refuse to pay the monthly fees, maintaining that even though they own a TV they never watch NHK broadcasts anyway, the recent ruling by Tokyo District Court Judge Kenkichi Sakuma identifies a section in the Japanese Broadcast Act which states that any individual who is the owner of a device capable of TV reception is technically bound by obligation to enter into a contract with NHK. As a result, he ordered the aforementioned hotels to both open a contract with NHK and to pay their unpaid fees from the period of August 2013 through May 2014 according to the number of TV-equipped rooms in the hotels.
According to the Asahi Digital, the hotels have approximately 280 rooms with television sets, along with units in the dining area and other locations. Taking these numbers into account, the total unpaid licensing fees that the hotels’ management company must pay adds up to a staggering 6.21 million yen (US$57,851).
Whether you’re an avid viewer of NHK or not, perhaps this comment from a Japanese net user sums up the entire court decision best:
“It’s a great win for the electronic yakuza.”