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Technology taking Japan television digital

By: By Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2011-05-26

Television viewers in Okinawa are in for a big surprise July 24th if they’re not tuned in to technological changes that are taking Japan into the fully digital age.

In simple English, analog television is going by the wayside, replaced by digital signals from Japanese television broadcasters. On July 24th, anyone with an analog television set is going to be watching snow, rather than programs. The move to digital broadcasts brings crystal clear pictures, along with a variety of television options that include programming information, weather and traffic information.

Older analog television sets won’t work, at least not without a special converter box. A digital tuner is required, as well as a digitally correct UHF antenna. They’re readily available on the local economy, and television appliance stores have technicians who can do the conversions. Converter boxes range in price from ¥4,000 ~ ¥15,000, with the higher priced boxes including tuners capable of receiving satellite broadcasts. The less expensive boxes will only pick up terrestrial signals.

A Japanese television official says people residing in apartment buildings may find the conversion process more tedious, as negotiations between building owners and consumer groups weren’t successful in getting central systems installed. Thus, each apartment dweller must negotiate purchasing and installing the required UHF antenna at a cost of roughly ¥4,500 plus installation.


On base, those with analog televisions may be able to use a VCR, which typically has a digital tuner built in, to receive the signals. All new televisions sold at AAFES are digitally-ready, but have to be switched to a digital mode.

As for the AFN satellite broadcast system, it won’t be going digital in the Pacific until 2013. In the meantime, it’s business as usual, with all ten AFN signals fully accessible.

Cable companies are preparing for the switchover, with consumers having a pair of options. Those with a ‘pass-through cable’ are good to go, as is. If the cable provided from the cable company is not pass-through, a box must be purchased in order to watch broadcasts. Viewers will know if the television is not digital, or set digital; written on the screen will be a note saying ‘Analog’ alongside the channel number.

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