Mar 12. 2020Topics

If you live in Tokyo, do you have to pay the NHK fees as a foreigner? What happens if you don't pay?


1. What is NHK?

Some foreigners thinking about living in Tokyo will be able to watch news, dramas and variety programs in Japan, as well as receive disaster information on TV. There are lots of people who consider buying a TV when living in Tokyo, as it is an indispensable necessity.

Having a TV will make your life richer and help you gather information, and you will also be able to enjoy your alone time.

However, if you buy a TV in TOKYO, you need to know about the "NHK broadcast fee".

In this article, we will tell you all about NHK, and the broadcasting fees that are actually required to be paid by rule in Japan. This content is quite important, and helpful for living comfortably in Tokyo, so pay close attention.

In Japan, there is a broadcasting association called NHK. "NHK" stands for "Nippon Hoso Kyokai" and is officially known as "NHK". The Japan Broadcasting Corporation is a special corporation established in accordance with the Broadcasting Law and responsible for public broadcasting in Japan. It is an affiliated organization under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, and you can watch programs broadcast by NHK, not only in Tokyo, but also throughout Japan. NHK broadcasts on one channel in Tokyo, and the assigned channel may be different for areas outside of Tokyo.

2.Do foreign residents have to contract with NHK!?

Isn't it enough to just choose and buy the TV that I need to live in Japan? A question asked by many ... but the Japanese Broadcasting Law stipulates as follows:

Article 64

"Any person who has installed receiving equipment capable of receiving the broadcasting provided by NHK shall conclude a contract with NHK with regard to the reception of its broadcasting. However, this shall not apply to those who have installed receiving equipment not intended for the reception of broadcasting, or receiving equipment solely for the reception of radio broadcasting or multiplex broadcasting (broadcasting of voice and other sound transmissions not coming under television broadcasting and multiplex broadcasting classifications)."

According to this article, the association is NHK, which means that "anyone who has a television must sign a contract with NHK", and "the person who installed the equipment" meaning that this goes not only Japanese nationals, but also foreigners.

Also, according to NHK's homepage:

"Even if you are a foreign national, you are required to contract with NHK if you have a TV that can receive NHK broadcasts. However, we will not ask for your nationality when subscribing and we do not know how many foreign subscribers we have."

This is statement by NHK that they will not confirm nationality, so regardless of your nationality or if you watch NHK broadcasts, foreigner or not, just having a TV requires a subscription.


However, since this is only an obligation of "contract with NHK" and does not specify "duty of payment", in Japan there is no obligation to pay broadcasting fees to NHK!" Some people say "it is illegal to not pay!", but that is their opinion.

3. Some foreigners are exempt from having to pay

Regardless of nationality, only for having a television puts you in the boat of having to pay NHK broadcast fees, but diplomats and consular officers (reciprocity practices in the international community) are exempt. Whether the TV is installed at home or a public office, there is no stipulation in the NHK subscription contract.


4. Not contractually required! Are paying broadcast fees required?

The NHK reception fee varies depending on the payment method, etc., but it is not especially cheap, with satellite broadcasting coming in a little under 5,000 yen for 2 months and local broadcasting fees coming in at just under 3,000 yen for 2 months.

That is one of the reasons why lots of people see a problem with the NHK reception fees. "Some people pay and some people don't, so I don't want to pay", is the reaction of many as they feel that the system is unfair.

"Officially", if you have a TV or a mobile phone with a one-segment function, you have to sign a contract with NHK.


It has been heard that NHK will occasionally put people on a trial if the reception fee is left unpaid, and it is said that the content of the trial will vary depending on whether or not there is a subscription contract.

If you are a foreigner who does not have a TV, or if you throw yours away and don't have a mobile phone with a one-segment function, consider yourself exempt!

5.Be aware! NHK fee collectors

NHK has collectors that conduct home visits for payment, especially after you move to a new place.

If you are not home, they will often leave a note that says they "will visit again", and may continue to come back in an attempt to catch you at home.

In some cases, even if you refuse to pay when they show up, they will pursue you with endless abandon, so now you know what their intention is in visiting you at home.

For foreigners living in Tokyo, it can be quite annoying to see an NHK collector at your door who can only speak Japanese, and on top of that, show up without an appointment. We want foreigners to know about the NHK collectors so that they don't misunderstand Japan as being a place where they become to hate Japan because of this king of unique aspect of the culture. Be aware of the fact that NHK collectors may show up at your home and ask for fees. Be sure to talk with friends or colleagues at work to hear more about NHK.

6.In Conclusion

In this article, we have provided you with detailed information about NHK and NHK collectors. Knowledge is power and this knowledge can help you to be able to live a little more comfortably in Tokyo.

It is important to note that when you buy a TV, you have a "duty to contract" with NHK, regardless of your nationality, so now you know.

On the upside, NHK provides accurate information quickly, so it may be a useful tool to have, not only in Tokyo, but for nationwide emergencies as well, such as earthquakes and typhoons that may occur during your stay in Japan.

Even knowing that the NHK channel varies from region to region may be encouraging when a major earthquake strikes while traveling in Japan. (Note that even if the hotel where you stay has a TV, the guest never needs to pay broadcasting fees to NHK.)

By referring to the content introduced this time around, if you have any concerns about NHK fees before you start living in Tokyo, we hope this information will remedy those concerns and help you to remember NHK when purchasing a TV in Japan.