Guest in Focus: Koji HIJIKATA

In the 2021 edition of the Nippon Connection Film Festival’s NIPPON DOCS section, we are presenting Koji HIJIKATAs documentary film SAYONARA TV.

Koji HIJIKATA was born in Gifu Prefecture in 1976. After graduating in English literature at Sophia University in Tokyo, he has been working as a producer at the news channel Tokai TV since 1998. SAYONARA TV (2020 / NC ’21) expands the social focus of HIJIKATA’s former documentaries HOMELESS RIJICHO (2014) and YAKUZA AND THE CONSTITUTION (2016) by adding aspects of media critique to his oeuvre. We thank Koji HIJIKATA for this interview!

 


Your documentary Sayonara TV starts as an investigation into the daily routine of precarious work conditions, lack of ethos, and self-doubts behind the scenes of the news channel Tokai TV. Do you have any advice or message to young people in Japan who are considering starting to work in the media / news industry?

Anyone of you aspiring to work in this industry has something inside you want to express, regardless of the field you want to work in, be it politics, economy or entertainment. Please maintain and respect this feeling! In the end, the media industry is not so different from other organizations. Many people enter this industry with the wish to create something, but at some point they just get caught up with the group, focus on internal maneuvers and quarrels, and just want to appeal to those within the group. Of course, this is not all bad. However, being in the fortunate position to express your own thoughts and your passions to the world, it would be a waste to limit yourself to these kinds of internal issues. Before such heavy things like “a journalist’s pride” or “the responsibility of the media”, you should never forget your wish to express something – this initial resolution that made you enter this profession in the beginning … This is actually what I keep telling myself too.


(Nippon Connection 2021 – Nippon Docs: SAYONARA TV, director Koji HIJIKATA (right))

Initially, some of your colleagues were not happy with the idea of being recorded while working. How did you win them over for your project?

I explained my idea to them, but I did not try to persuade them. That is because I believed that – working in the media – those who film others would be ready to also be filmed by others. Sometimes news editors and journalists drag people in front of the camera who don’t want to be filmed, all based on the greater cause of public interest and the right to information. But then saying “don’t film me” when things are reversed and they are on the receiving end, is far too convenient and selfish. I could not accept that they stay in a position where they alone can criticize others. I especially felt like this towards the news department staff who occupied positions with a certain responsibility. As for the young journalists that had just started working at the company and external technical staff, I explained the topic beforehand and asked for their permission before I filmed them, just like it is the case when we are filming someone for news coverage.


(Nippon Connection 2021 – Nippon Docs: SAYONARA TV, inside the news room)

SAYONARA TV
Japan 2020, 72 min
Watch the film here from June 1 to 6, 2021
at the 21st Nippon Connection Film Festival
Check out the trailer here!


本作『さよならテレビ』は、ニュースチャンネル「東海テレビ」の舞台裏における不安定な労働条件、倫理観の欠如、自責の念などを調査することから始まります。メディアや報道業界での仕事を目指している日本の若い人たちに、アドバイスやメッセージがありましたらお願いします。

この業界を志すという事は、政治・経済やエンターテイメントなどジャンルはともかく、 何かしら自分の中に「表現したい」という思いがあるのだと思います。その気持ちを大切にしてください。メディアも組織です。モノづくりを志してこの世界に入っておきながら、いつのまにか「いかに周りと上手くやるか」という集団の中での立ち回りに夢中になっていってしまうケースがよくあります。もちろんそれも悪いことではないのですが、せっかく世の中に自分の伝えたいことや好きなことを表現できる仕事なのですから、それじゃもったいないなあと思うのです。「放送人としての矜持」や「メディアの責務」などという難しいものの前に、とにかく何かを伝えたいんだという“初心”を忘れずに…これは自分にも言い聞かせています。

当初、仕事中に撮影されることを快く思っていない方もいました。どのようにして彼らを説得したのですか?

説明はしましたが、説得はしませんでした。メディアで働いている限りは「撮ることは撮られること」という覚悟を持って仕事をしていると信じていたからです。
ニュースのデスクや記者は、「公共性」や「知る権利」という大義のもと、時に嫌がる相手をファインダーの前に引っ張り出してきます。それが逆の立場になった途端に「自分はやめて…」というのは都合が良すぎる、一方的に批判するだけの立場でいることは許されないという思いがありました。特に報道部にいてある程度責任のある立場で働いている社員に対しては、その気持ちが強かったように思います。一方でまだ会社に入って間もない若手記者や、外部の技術スタッフなどに関しては、通常の取材対象と同じく、事前に取材の趣旨を説明し撮影の了承を得るようにしました。

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