60 Years of TV Life: A Soft “Rebellious Heart” The Life of Hiroshi Sekiguchi / 1 What kind of place is “Sunday Morning”?

Hiroshi Sekiguchi

Hiroshi Sekiguchi, who has hosted the Sunday morning information and news program “Sunday Morning” for 36 years, has resigned from the program. Where did the program’s attitude of confronting the pressure of the government through the lively talk of its unique commentators come from? Mr. Osamu Aoki, who is also a regular performer, interviews Mr. Hiroshi Sekiguchi for a long time and explores his style of “quiet resistance” from his trajectory.

 ”I’m disappearing today.” Hiroshi Sekiguchi

 On the morning of Sunday, March 31st, the time turned around 9:52 a.m. There was less than one minute left until the end of the program, and the end credits began to play on the screen. Hiroshi Sekiguchi, who left his usual chair as host, stood in front of the camera, suddenly turned to his co-star and uttered the following line.

“I’m going to disappear today.” Then, looking at the camera, he said, “Thank you very much for your time.”

 Immediately after, at the 53rd minute, the program ended. At that moment, a big round of applause erupted from the station executives, staff, and people involved in the program who were packed into the vast studio, and bouquets of flowers, more than they could hold in both hands, were handed to Hiroshi Sekiguchi one after another. It looked like there were tears in his eyes, perhaps because of the emotion he felt having completed the live program for 36 years since it started broadcasting, or because the program had “disappeared” after 36 years of continuous broadcasting. Was it due to loneliness, or was it just because he was feeling a little unwell with a cold?

 "I'm disappearing today." Hiroshi Sekiguchi

 “Sunday Morning” began airing on TBS every Sunday morning on October 4, 1987. Since then, for 36 years and six months, Hiroshi Sekiguchi has been in charge of the program’s production and continued to play the role of host. Television sources say there is no other example of a single person hosting a live information or news program for such a long period of time, even if it is only once a week. What’s more, the program has received overwhelming support from viewers, and in this country’s television industry, where fierce viewership competition is a constant struggle, it is a “ghost program” that consistently achieves top-class viewer ratings. continued to reign as the

 Perhaps it was the fate of such a popular program that it was sometimes the target of merciless criticism, and in recent years, under the “one-power” government, it was criticized by one side as a “biased program”, and the other side It received enthusiastic praise from those who called it “one of the few honest programs on television right now.”

 “Conscientious” from one side, “biased” from the other.

 Who is Mr. Hiroshi Sekiguchi, who led the production of such a program and also served as the host? How did the popular program called “Ghost” come to be, and why did it continue to receive overwhelming support? Also, in recent years, there have been whispers in the media world that an atmosphere of deterioration and atrophy has become widespread, and while some people praise it as “conscientious,” others criticize it as “biased.” How have the programs that have been reviled resisted political intimidation and pressure? And how did Mr. Sekiguchi think that television and TV journalism should be?This report, centered on a direct interview with Mr. Sekiguchi, explains this over several parts, although it is a bit unusual.

60 Years of TV Life: A Soft “Rebellious Heart” The Life of Hiroshi Sekiguchi / 1 What kind of place is “Sunday Morning”?

 However, before I get into the main point, I must make a disclaimer. As you know, in recent years I have been directly involved as one of the commentators on Hiroshi Sekiguchi-san’s “Sunday Morning.” In that sense, I am not a third party who can objectively discuss Mr. Sekiguchi or the program. Of course, as a journalist, I aim to be as objective as possible in this article, but no matter how much I emphasize this, many readers will not be able to absorb it.

 Therefore, this article should be read as the report of someone who was directly involved in one side of the story of Hiroshi Sekiguchi and the popular program he led, and witnessed both sides from the inside. Therefore, although I should probably avoid this for regular reports and articles, I would like to ask for your permission to continue writing by calling him “Mr. Sekiguchi” as usual.

 In preparation for writing this article, I conducted another long interview with Mr. Sekiguchi on April 9th. It had been less than 10 days since he had announced that he would disappear from the program, so I asked him directly. Mr. Sekiguchi, what exactly did “Sunday Morning” mean to you? Mr. Sekiguchi thought for a moment and responded as follows.

“To put it simply, I would say that it was half of my life as a TV guy.This year I have been in the entertainment industry for 60 years, and more than half of that time was spent hosting “Sunday Morning”.”

 Needless to say, Mr. Sekiguchi was born in Tokyo in July 1943 as the eldest son of Shuji Sano, an actor who was considered one of the “Three Crows” of Shochiku. He made his debut as an actor in a TV drama in 1963 while still attending university, and in the 1970s he hosted Fuji TV’s “Star Thousand and One Nights,” and in the 80s he hosted TBS’s “Shikaru!” Around this time, he hosted “Quiz 100 People” (TBS, 1979-1992), “Waku Waku Dobutsu Land” (TBS, 1983-1992), and “Chizu.” Are you planning to do it? ! He has also served as the host of many popular programs such as “ (Nippon Television Network, 1989-2002). No, it would be more accurate to say that all of these programs were “produced by Hiroshi Sekiguchi,” in which Mr. Sekiguchi was deeply committed to the production.

 In other words, for many people of my generation, he is “the celebrity” whom we have come into contact with since childhood through television screens, and when we look back on his 60-year career in the entertainment industry, “Sunday Morning” is a fairly journalistic news and reporting program. , belongs to a clearly different program. However, Mr. Sekiguchi says that he did not start the business with any enthusiasm, nor did he imagine that it would last for 36 years.

“The staff at the time, and even I, didn’t think it would last this long. Looking back at the beginning, a former producer friend of mine said to me, “The Sunday morning slot is open, so is there anything you’d like to do?” It all started when he called out to me.”

“I wanted to try a caster showHiroshi Sekiguchi

 It may seem surprising now, but in the 1980s television world, Sunday mornings were considered a “barren time.” Even in light of my memories of spending my middle and high school years in the countryside around the same time, I can nod at many points about this. At a time when even a two-day work week was not enough, adults decided to go to bed in the morning on their precious days off, and children who had no hands on their hands would turn on the TV and watch only reruns of anime.

“Yes. Back then, the famous Sunday morning programs were travel programs such as TBS’s “Kaoru Kanetaka’s World Journey” and NTV’s “I Want to Go Far Away.” In other words, all TV stations had Sunday morning I thought it was a time when viewers were asleep.”

Mr. Hiroshi Sekiguchi IDEA!

 Mr. Sekiguchi was approached about creating a new program during such a time slot, and he proposed an idea to the producer. Next, let’s talk about Mr. Sekiguchi.

“At the time, I was working on a program that was to be shot overseas, so I was often away from Japan.There was no internet back then, so I read Japanese newspapers and magazines on the flight home, desperately trying to get information. If you don’t, you won’t be able to keep up with the conversation even when you’re having drinks with your friends (lol).

 If so, why not create a program that summarizes the events of the week?It may sound simple, but that was the starting point.

“It’s the same for viewers who work so busy every day, and it’s difficult to check the daily news properly. So, on Sunday morning, you can catch up on the week’s news while leisurely eating breakfast or drinking coffee. , I thought that such a program might be accepted, and I will continue to do so until the very end.That’s why I didn’t start this program thinking about who is right or what is left.

 On the other hand, Sekiguchi also put other thoughts into this program. I thought, “I want to do a caster show.” What do you mean.

“I jumped into the world of television in my 20s, fell in love with it from the bottom of my heart, and was thinking of delving deeper into this world.When I looked at the world of television, I realized that the anchor show was the perfect fit for television. So, I wanted to try it someday.In other words, it’s a program where the anchors convey the news in an easy-to-understand way.”

 Behind his feelings was his dissatisfaction with traditional television reporting and news programs.

“It’s rude to say this, but in those days, TV news departments were filled with people who looked like the elite, and news programs consisted of announcers reading the manuscripts written by those people.I thought that kind of news was boring. However, the newscaster shows that were gradually starting to appear were TV-like and interesting.The first one was definitely “(JNN) News Corp.”

 “JNN News Corp,” which is said to be based on the American CBS news program anchored by Walter Cronkite, began broadcasting on TBS in 1962. The first anchor was Hideo Den of Kyodo News, and soon Tsunamasa Furuya of the Mainichi Shimbun was also added. Den and TBS faced off harshly with the government at the time in reporting on the Vietnam War, and became the country’s first anchor. It gained fame as a full-fledged “caster show” type news program.

 The pride that television journalism should have

 The trend gradually spread to other stations, and in the 1970s, NHK began broadcasting “News Center 9 o’clock,” with Naonori Isomura as the anchor. In 1985, “News Station” began on TV Asahi with Hiroshi Kume as the anchor. TBS, which used the title of “TBS for news” as its gold standard, also competed, and in 1987, “JNN News 22 Prime Time”, which had Morimoto Takero as its anchor, failed in a short period of time, but in 1989, “Tsukushi Tetsuya NEWS 23” Broadcasting has started.

60 Years of TV Life: A Soft “Rebellious Heart” The Life of Hiroshi Sekiguchi / 1 What kind of place is “Sunday Morning”?

 Of course, there were both merits and demerits in the way television turned “news” into “a show.” In other words, it turned “news” into “a popular program with high ratings.” However, television, which was born as a new media after the war, is finally entering its period of prosperity, and each station has begun to outdo itself with “news shows” featuring famous anchors, marking the beginning of an era in which television will become the king of news media. It was.

 In other words, Mr. Sekiguchi’s “Sunday Morning,” which started in 1987, is also a form of “caster show” that originated from “News Corp.” It has the same aspirations as news programs such as “Kume Station” and “Tsukushi 23.” I held her in my arms and gave her first cry. However, Mr. Sekiguchi makes this point.

“I’m just a TV guy, not a journalist. So at first, I had Toshiaki Niibori (34-2018, who has served as TBS commentator and caster for JNN News Corp.) join me as a regular commentator, and I started talking about various things. We decided to discuss the format of the program while consulting with each other.

 I will discuss this later, but Mr. Sekiguchi often says that he is a “TV guy” and not a journalist. Whether it’s the pride of knowing everything about television as a medium, or the humility of being an amateur when it comes to news, Mr. Sekiguchi has certainly fallen in love with the medium of television and has “pursued” its true nature as a journalist. If nothing else, I have always felt that he is extremely journalistic at heart, and has a deep understanding of the possibilities and limitations of television and television journalism, as well as the pride that they must maintain.

 This time, I was once again made aware of this. After finishing a two-hour interview at Mr. Sekiguchi’s office, we moved to a nearby sushi restaurant and quenched our thirst with beer. “Mr. Sekiguchi, who calls himself a TV guy, would you name a person on TV who you admire and have influenced you?” When I suddenly asked him that question, Mr. Sekiguchi thought about it again for a moment, and then revealed the following.

“There are many people who have influenced me, but if I had to choose one, it would be, ‘You are just the present.'”

 Aoki/Osamu

 Born in 1966. After working as a Kyodo News reporter, he became a freelance journalist and non-fiction writer. Through his careful research, sharp thinking, and his unique and precise writing style, we get to know the depths of his time. His many books include “Abe’s Three Generations”, “Information Hiding Nation”, “Dark Scandal Nation”, “Resisters of the Age”, and “Heretics of the Age”. Recent publications include “To the Destroyers,” “Cult Power,” and “Rebels of the Age.”

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