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Keywords:

  • community radio;
  • collaborative model;
  • Tōhoku earthquake

Abstract

This article illustrates issues that community radio stations in the stricken area of Northern Japan have faced, and discusses the necessity of social collaboration for supporting these radio stations. As of 1 December 2011, the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications had granted permission to operate special emergency-broadcast FM stations, providing earthquake-related information, to residents of 27 communities in the Tōhoku and North Kanto regions. Ten such community stations have used existing FM radio frequencies in their community for emergency broadcasting while 15 local governments set up newly established community-based radio stations by themselves, relying on: conventional community radio stations nationwide; national and international non-profit organizations; and voluntarily organized civic groups. Despite playing such an important role, community radio stations themselves have struggled to survive, not because of damage caused by the disaster, but as a result of the current social system based upon economic stability. Many of these stations have faced financial problems, such as losing advertising revenue and funding needed for equipment damaged by the disaster. It has become more difficult, particularly for the stations newly set up, to produce a variety of programs when the operation becomes prolonged. As the community radio plays a vital role as a lifeline to provide disaster-related information to residents, we need to establish a supportive system in society that allows community radio to function as intended.