Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Reason #002 to Learn Japanese: Governmental Broadcasting Corporations

Well, for the first time since I’ve lived here, something has got my blood boiling. This tale begins with our hero, me, returning home after a long day of work. Like on most days, I arrived home at approximately 9:30 PM. However, this time, a man stopped in the stairwell. He seemed confused or lost so I attempted to help him (yes, even I realize how backwards that statement is). After some poor communication on both our parts, he wanted to know if I lived in the building. Like a fool, I said yes. At this point, he reveals that he is an NHK employee.

For those unfamiliar, NHK is a governmental broadcasting television network. It’s funded by people living in Japan who they are able to catch. It’s a television network which if you own a TV, you have to pay for it regardless of everything - if, one of their agents talk to you. Are you following still?

So like, I have a TV because everyone in my building has the same TV. Ask me how many seconds of Japanese TV I’ve watched in my apartment? Answer, zero. However, by OWNING a TV I am forced to pay this service charge. Dafuq? I know what you’re thinking and no, this isn’t a scam, this is actually how this is run. Why isn’t their a bill or just a tax for this then? Why do you only have to pay if you are caught by an agent? Unknown.

I’m getting ahead of myself. So, in the stairwell, I tell the man I don’t speak Japanese (which is true) and he didn’t speak English so it was a sort of “good day sir” sort of situation. Or so I thought. He takes out his smartphone and starts translating the most broken of broken phrases I’ve ever heard. His opening statements were things along the line of “It’s Japanese law. You have to pay. Could go to court.” Keep in mind I’m changing these phrases to make sense.

I sigh, he demands to go to my apartment. At this point he’s trying to get payment from me, asking for my bank card. That was a huge red flag with a 0% chance of happening. He was totally trying to strong arm, threaten, and pull if this crazy fear tactic that quite honestly was having the reverse effect. I wasn’t afraid, I was super annoyed.

Thus, I pulled out my own smartphone and argued back. I said things such as. “But I don’t watch TV.” He replied with, “It doesn’t matter.” What. I asked him, “What if I remove my TV?” He said, “Then you don’t have to pay but you have to pay this month.”

This went on for a good 30 minutes. I have to imagine this was about as fun for him as it was for me. I felt super uncomfortable paying for something when I didn’t understand the situation or what I was paying for (at the time). I called someone to translate for me, which they did. Even after that phone call we still had some back and forth. All peaceful mind you, but quite annoying.

In the end I lost and paid the damn fee. It was about $20 and ONLY for this month. I refused to pay with card and paid with cash, which he wasn’t happy with (small victories). There was no way I was giving them my card info though. Moral of the story, unhook my TV and answer the door for no one. If I see someone in my building, grab a late dinner.

What a dumb system.