Japan's first coronavirus infection was confirmed in January 2020, and the virus is still spreading with no sign of slowing down. NHK conducted a public opinion survey from November through December 2020 to investigate how the spread of COVID-19 had changed people's lives and attitudes. This paper reports the results of the survey including the following key findings.
– The spread of COVID-19 affected the daily lives of more than 80% of the respondents. One of the most notable impacts was on “outings,” with 80% answering the number of outings decreased during the state of emergency, and 60% at the time of the survey, which shows a prolonged impact of the pandemic.
– Those who had their income “reduced” account for 40% among non–regular workers, which is higher than among regular workers (around 30%). The level of impact differed depending on the employment status.
– Almost 70% felt stressed “more frequently” than before the COVID-19 pandemic, with women feeling more stressed than men.
– As for living the new normal, which was advocated for preventing infection, 99%–almost everyone–practiced “wearing a mask and washing hands.” Nearly 90% felt “nervous” about someone without a mask.
– Triggered by the pandemic, online activities and services such as “online meeting” have been spreading. About 30% hope “online medical care,” which still have few users, will become more commonly available.
– More than 70% think the pandemic–triggered changes in daily lives have brought about “more negative impacts than positive ones” while over 20% find “more positive impacts than negative ones.”
How to confront classified “government secrets” is a critical issue for the media. This is because when the public exercises its right to know, the right is often satisfied by the actions of media, such as coverage and publication.
The Broadcasting Culture Research Institute hosted a symposium themed ‘How the Media Should Confront the “Government Secrecy Barrier”: Finding clues from the federal police raid on Australian public service broadcaster’ as part of its annual NHK BUNKEN FORUM held in March 2021. This paper bases on the summary of the session with complementing information for further understanding of the discussion. The symposium invited journalists and academic researchers, who discussed the issue by examining specific cases where media entities in Japan and abroad had confronted “government secrecy barrier.” With “right to know,” “national interest,” “public interest,” and “citizen's interest” serving as key words, challenges facing the media and directions to be taken were presented through the discussion.
The NHK Broadcasting Culture Institute has been regularly conducting nationwide surveys aimed at schools or individual teachers since 1950 to study the actual status of media environment in school classrooms across Japan as well as to understand the whole picture of the usage of NHK's educational services such as broadcasts, websites, and events.
In 2020, however, we had to take into account the following special circumstances: (1) temporary school closures (from April to May 2020) as part of coronavirus preventive measures made it difficult to conduct time-series comparison, (2) there has been a growing interest in “online learning” provided by schools via the internet for students staying at home, and NHK launched new services in response to it, and (3) school media environment is changing as the implementation schedule of “GIGA School Concept” (“one-to-one device” and high-speed internet connection) by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has been moved forward. Given these circumstances, we carried out a survey on schools to grasp the overall view of media usage in primary schools, junior high schools, and schools for special needs education (elementary and lower secondary departments) under coronavirus pandemic.
It is found that the media environment at schools is generally advancing in terms of media devices and internet connection; in every school category mentioned above, more than 90% of schools are equipped with “internet,” “projector,” “radio/CD player,” and “digital camera/digital video camera” for regular-classroom-use. Nevertheless, schools where internet videos can be viewed without any problems stayed only at around 30% to 40% in all school categories.
Meanwhile, more than 90% of schools in all categories use media materials such as “NHK for School,” digital textbook, and internet content for lessons. Leaning/teaching materials used by many schools are: “NHK for School” and “digital textbooks for teachers” (primary schools), “internet content” and “digital textbooks for teachers” (junior high schools), and “original materials made by teachers” (schools for special needs education). “NHK for School” is used by as many as 95% of primary schools (52% of junior high schools, 44% of schools for special needs education's elementary departments, and 43% of their lower secondary departments.)
The use of “digital textbooks for learners” was much lower, 26% of elementary schools at the highest, but as they are to be introduced to more and more schools, further changes in the use of media materials deserve attention.
A certain number of schools provided “online learning” during the temporary school closure (from April to May 2020), and 30 to 40% schools were doing so at the time of this survey (from October to December 2020), too, albeit with differences in percentages depending on the school category, and some schools intend to provide “online learning” down the road. Once problems such as disparity in media environment at home are solved, and “GIGA School Concept” is put into practice, “online learning” will to take hold as a support for home learning on a daily basis.
The 2020 survey of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) focused on “Environment”, and as an ISSP member, the NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute conducted the survey in Japan. This paper reports on the Japanese attitudes and behavior towards environmental issues.
75% of the respondents think “a rise in the world's temperature caused by climate change” is dangerous. Those who find “nuclear power station” dangerous have remarkably increased from the previous 2010 survey, from 36% to 59%.
In terms of attitudes towards government policies on environmental issues, those who feel Japan's efforts to address climate change are “not advancing” account for 62%, much higher than 37% for “advancing.”
Those who receive plastic bags at retail stores have decreased after the introduction of a law to charge for them, from 94% to 50%. Those who think charging for plastic bags “will” contribute to reducing plastic waste account for 70%, largely exceeding those thinking it “will not” (28%).
Regarding approaches towards protecting the environment and willingness to bear a burden, nearly 60% think “there is no point in doing what I can for the environment unless others do the same.” Notably, the figures are around 70% among young generations in their 30s and under. This proportion (nearly 60%) is unchanged from the 2010 survey when Japan's result was third highest among 36 countries/regions, which indicates the Japanese tendency to think “there are limitations in what individual efforts can do.” In addition, those who “are unwilling to accept cuts in the standard of living to protect the environment” account for 44%, higher than those “willing to” (32%). Those who “are unwilling to” make up the majority among younger generations in their 30s and under, the younger the higher.