Soka Gakkai, a religious organization that originated from Nichiren Buddhism in 1930 and is closely associated with the coalition New Komeito party, is now boosting its TV advertising.
Soka Gakkai has sponsored programs on local TV and radio stations as well as advertised itself in magazines for a long time. On Oct 4, a TV commercial of Soka University, Soka Gakkai's affiliated organization, was aired as a sponsor for Fuji TV's news and sports program “Live 2008 News & Sports!” One of the program's production staff said, “It was the first time that Soka Gakkai's TV commercial appeared on a nationwide major TV network and appeared as a sponsor for a news program. It was good timing for them at a time when the general election was expected to be held that week.”
The ad for Soka University is not just being aired during programs that Soka Gakkai sponsors but also during programs on other networks, such as NTV, for example.
A politician of the Demcratic Party of Japan said, “For the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, which form the government, support from Soka Gakkai members is essential. I think the TV ad campaign is aimed at bringing them together for the next election.”
A spokesperson for Soka Gakkai said, “In general, students tend to decide which universities to apply to in the autumn. That's why we broadcast the TV commercial in early October. It had nothing to do with any election strategy.”
A spokesperson for Fuji explained that Soka University is officially approved as an educational institution by the government. "There's no problem with broadcasting their TV commercial.” Meanwhile, an NTV spokesperson said: “We screen TV commercials based on the guidelines shared by other commercial broadcasters.” One insider speculated that Soka University possibly paid 100 million yen to Fuji TV for the commercial.
Although Fuji TV and NTV say there is nothing wrong with broadcasting Soka University's TV commercials, media professor Takaaki Hattori at Rikkyo University pointed out: “It's not problematic at all for the university to have TV commercials. But being a sponsor for a news program is questionable. While TV stations are currently suffering from decline in advertising revenue, they should remember they are news organizations and be careful about accepting sponsorships from political parties. Otherwise, their stance toward politics will be called into question by viewers.” (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)© Japan Today