The Tense Situation at NHK: Shocking Reasons Behind Maayuko Wakuda’s Second Pregnancy | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The Tense Situation at NHK: Shocking Reasons Behind Maayuko Wakuda’s Second Pregnancy

Criticism of Aoi's "speedy return," Aoi's resignation, and rival Kuwako's future and "Kohaku" (red and white).

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While there is a mood of celebration for the pregnancy of her second child, there is also a mood of concern: ……

NHK’s ace announcer Mayuko Wakuda (35) is reportedly pregnant with her second child. While there are voices of congratulation for the celebrity announcer, there are also whispers of concern within the station.

NHK does not publicize the private lives of its employees, but it seems that she has unofficially decided to leave “News 7,” where she serves as anchor, this spring.

In February, she appeared on the program as usual, and on the 5th she reported information on heavy snowfall in various regions, but when she was standing at the beginning of the program and making an announcement, the belly part of her white one-piece dress appeared to be a little bulging. It is expected that she will give birth by summer.

Wakuda, who joined the station in 2011, was the main anchor of “Ohayo Nippon” from ’14 to ’20 and “News Watch 9” from ’20 to ’22, respectively. She is an absolute ace of the station, having hosted the “NHK Kohaku Uta Gassen” in ’19 and ’21. She is also well known for her high announcing skills and good looks, and provided flawless play-by-play coverage of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2009.

In her personal life, she married in February 2007 a trading company employee who ran in the Hakone Ekiden relay race when she was a student at Waseda University. In the summer of 2010, several media reported that they had their first child. However, the issue of her “speedy return” arose at that time.

Wakuda has never announced her pregnancy or the birth of her child, but during the spring reorganization of 2010, she left the “News Watch 9” program and had no regular appearances, effectively putting her on maternity leave. She is said to have given birth that summer, and returned to the field as an anchor of “News 7” in the spring of 2011. Although Wakuda’s appearances on the program were limited to Mondays through Thursdays, some viewers criticized her, saying that she returned too soon and that the station was overworking its ace.

Some at the station are concerned about this matter, and there is a possibility that she will be asked to take a long maternity leave following the birth of her second child. In other words, it is likely that one of the station’s signature female announcers will be out of the station for a considerable period of time.

In addition, regarding NHK’s news programs, Minoru Aoi, a newscaster of “News Watch 9,” is scheduled to leave the station on January 17 to become the anchor of Fuji Television’s news program “Live News It! a news program on Fuji Television Network, and she suddenly dropped out of the program on the same day.

NHK is facing a difficult situation in which the main anchors of “News 7” and “News Watch 9,” its flagship news programs, have left the station or are on the verge of leaving. NHK seems to be having a hard time finding the best replacement who is acceptable to the viewers and stable, as well as assigning the announcers to their respective programs.

After Aoi’s departure, “News Watch 9” has been airing with Masayoshi Tanaka and Risa Hayashida as the remaining anchors, and “News 7″ is also looking for a replacement for Wakuda, with Izumi Yamauchi, who is currently in charge of the program’s weekends, among the names mentioned. However, it is not easy to fill the ace’s shoes, and there are various discussions going on within the station,” said an NHK official.

The “future” of another ace, Maho Kuwako, 36, who is one year senior to Wakuda, is also a concern. Kuwako remarried to actor Yukiyoshi Ozawa (49) in September 2009.

Kuwako divorced Fuji Television’s Shinichi Tanioka, whom she married in 2005, within a year, and it is said that she wants to have a child with Ozawa. Kuwako is currently the anchor of “Close-Up Today,” and when Wakuda takes a long leave of absence, her presence will naturally increase in relative terms.

However, Kuwako could also become pregnant at any time and go on maternity leave. If that happens, NHK will be in a difficult position of not being able to use its top two female announcers, who are outstanding in terms of both popularity and ability, for a certain period of time.

Another issue is the hosting of the Kohaku Uta Gassen (Red and White Singing Contest) on New Year’s Eve. In recent years, either Wakuda or Kuwako has hosted the Kohaku Uta Gassen, but last year, a male announcer, Kozo Takase, took over for the first time.

However, last year’s Kohaku had the lowest viewer rating ever. Takase may not be the direct cause, but some executives at the station, impatient for the Kohaku ratings to recover, are saying that the glamorous Wakuda or Kuwako should be brought back to host the show.

However, if Wakuda and Kuwako are trying to have a baby, it will be difficult for them to do so. There seems to be a certain tense atmosphere within the station, with such “true feelings” being leaked out over Wakuda’s second child pregnancy, which is being congratulated by many people.

NHK will have to urgently train a new generation of female ace announcers to replace Wakuda and Kuwako.

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In ’17, Anna Wakuda was walking with her colleagues and others during lunch time (August 4, ’17 issue).
In 2007, she and Kuwako visited the home of Nahoko Suzuki, who had just given birth at the time (October 11, 2007 issue).
Anna Wakuda got married on August 31, ’19, and also attended the after-party in a wedding dress (September 20, ’19 issue).
  • PHOTO Keisuke Nishi

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