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11th Japanese TV Connecting Generations: "Japan Hollywood Network"

"Japanese television is rooted in the community," says Terasaka.

The maximum number of viewers was 850,000.

When I moved from Japan to Los Angeles 30 years ago, I developed a new habit: watching Japanese TV dramas broadcast locally on Sunday nights. Before coming to Los Angeles, I was busy at a publishing company, so I rarely watched TV dramas, and I enjoyed watching Hollywood movies much more than Japanese dramas. However, once I left Japan, I began to look forward to Sundays with dramas like "Wataru Seken wa Oni Bakari," which I had never seen before. It was a dramatic change that even surprised me. Moreover, the Japanese lines were left intact and even had English subtitles. I learned a lot, thinking, "So that's how you translate this Japanese."

As I recall, Japanese dramas were broadcast on Sunday evenings by a station called UTB from 6:30 pm, and by another station called AHC (Asahi Homecast) from 9 pm. UTB also broadcast local news in a variety show format on weekday mornings, so I had a strong impression that it was a media outlet closely connected to the Japanese community in Los Angeles.

Currently, UTB no longer exists, but in 2018, Shigeto Terasaka, the company's former president, took over UTB's operations and established a new channel called Japan Hollywood Network, which broadcasts local news, Japanese variety shows and dramas every Sunday evening. It can be viewed on terrestrial digital broadcasting, as well as on cable and satellite broadcasting. Apart from TV Japan, which covers the entire United States, it is the only Japanese TV station in Los Angeles where you can watch Japanese dramas. We asked Terasaka about the type of people who are the target audience.

"First of all, there are Japanese people living abroad like us. There are about 100,000 Japanese people living abroad registered with the Consulate General of Los Angeles, and another 250,000 Japanese Americans. It is also said that there are between 350,000 and 500,000 people living in Southern California who are interested in Japanese culture, including Japanese anime, flower arranging, and tea ceremony." In other words, the maximum number of viewers is roughly 850,000.

By the way, the drama currently being broadcast as of November 2022 is "Atom's Child." It is a program that just started broadcasting in Japan in October. "Our company's policy is to broadcast popular programs that follow Japanese trends. Therefore, in order to air current popular programs, we have to arrange for them to be aired before they start broadcasting in Japan. The selection criteria are that they have popular performers or are works that have been attracting attention even before they are broadcast."

Social Media and TV

On the other hand, one thing that is of concern is that people are moving away from television. Terasaka also says, "The spread of social media has made it possible for individuals to disseminate information. This has created a gap in information gathering between our older generation and the younger generation. That's why we are currently using social media to announce our programs." He adds that the use of social media is also essential. However, unlike television, newspapers, and magazines, social media is not something you sit down and watch at your leisure, so he adds that he is still not sure how effective it is. On the other hand, Terasaka says that since the company's services also include video production, he expects to see an increase in video production work for social media content in the future.

"In reality, broadcasting sales account for less than 30% of total sales. Other than that, more than half of our sales come from services such as shooting promotional videos for companies and videos for YouTube, as well as event planning and management. I think the proportion of video production and events other than television broadcasting will continue to grow in the future."

As mentioned above, they are becoming a one-of-a-kind presence in Los Angeles, but when asked which media outlets they consider to be their biggest competitors, they replied, "Perhaps Fujisankei (New York's) or TV Japan. But those are just too big a competitor. Our company's strength is always focusing on the community. Every week, we produce and broadcast the local news program "So Cal Japan," but the problem is the enormous costs."

Connecting with the next generation

Terasaka says that Japan Hollywood Network, which enjoys the support of the community and is backed by more than 40 sponsors for its year-end special programs, is looking to young Japanese people to help it survive in the future.

"We place importance on connecting with young people. In Southern California, there is an organization for Japanese-American university students called NSU, and an organization for international students from Japan called JSA. Due to the impact of the pandemic, when international students from Japan were unable to come, the number of students in each organization has reversed over the past three years. Recently, I went to film an NSU event, and although I initially thought there would be around 100 people, before I knew it, there were more than 500. Naturally, they all have Japanese faces, but they are Japanese-American. They will be the ones supporting the Japanese community in the future. We volunteer to film their events and provide the footage, deepening our interactions with them. The international students have also returned, so next we will go to a JSA event. Companies are also looking for young people like them. Our job is to be connectors, to connect each other. I also hear that the parents of Japanese-American students were watching the Japanese programs that were broadcast in Los Angeles. It is moving to hear such stories."

Covered an event held by NSU, a group of Japanese American university students.

During the interview, I was impressed by Terasaka's determination to read the changing trends of the times and act with an eye to the future of Japanese language media overseas.

Japan Hollywood Network:

© 2022 Keiko Fukuda

California Japanese Japan Hollywood Network (TV station) Los Angeles United States
About this series

This series asks editors in the field about the history, characteristics, readership, challenges, and future vision for Japanese language media outlets, including paid and free papers, newspapers, and magazines published across the United States.

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About the Author

Keiko Fukuda was born in Oita, Japan. After graduating from International Christian University, she worked for a publishing company. Fukuda moved to the United States in 1992 where she became the chief editor of a Japanese community magazine. In 2003, Fukuda started working as a freelance writer. She currently writes articles for both Japanese and U.S. magazines with a focus on interviews. Fukuda is the co-author of Nihon ni umarete (“Born in Japan”) published by Hankyu Communications. Website: 

Updated July 2020

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