Asahi Shimbun

Asahi Shimbun
Asahi Shimbun
Asahi Shimbun first issue.jpg
The front page of the paper's first issue on January 25, 1879
Type Daily newspaper
Format Broadsheet (40.6 × 54.6 cm)[1]
Owner Michiko Murayama, Shoichi Ueno
Publisher Kotaro Akiyama
Editor-in-chief Yoichi Funabashi
Founded January 25, 1879
Language Japanese
Circulation 7.96 million (morning edition, 2010)[2]
Official website
Flag of the Asahi Shinbun Company
Asahi Shimbun headquarters in Tsukiji, Chūō, Tokyo
Asahi Shimbun offices in Osaka

The Asahi Shimbun (朝日新聞?, IPA: [aꜜsaçi ɕimbɯɴ], literally Morning Sun Newspaper) is the second most circulated out of the five national newspapers in Japan. Its circulation, which was 7.96 million for its morning edition and 3.1 million for its evening edition as of June 2010,[3] was second behind that of Yomiuri Shimbun. The company has its headquarters in Tsukiji, Chūō, Tokyo.[4]

The newspaper has alliances with the International Herald Tribune, which is owned by the New York Times. Together, they publish International Herald Tribune/The Asahi Shimbun as their English edition, which has replaced Asahi's previous Asahi Evening News. The Tribune also co-operates with Asahi on AERA English, a glossy magazine for English learners. Asahi also has a partnership with the People's Daily, (Chinese: 人民日报; pinyin: Rénmín Rìbào) which is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China.

In 1994, after conducting a survey, Le Monde considered Asahi Shimbun one of the eight biggest daily newspapers in the world, along with The New York Times (United States), Financial Times (United Kingdom), Izvestia (Russia), People's Daily (China), Al Ahram (Egypt), El Espectador (Colombia), and The Times of India.[5]



One of Japan's oldest and largest national daily newspapers, the Asahi Shimbun began publication in Osaka on January 25, 1879 as a small-print, four-page illustrated paper that sold for one sen (a hundredth of a yen) a copy, and had a circulation of approximately 3,000 copies. The three founding officers of a staff of twenty were Noboru Kimura (owner), Ryōhei Murayama (company president and publisher), and Tei Tsuda (managing editor). The company's first premises were at Minami-dori, Edobori in Osaka. On September 13 of the same year, Asahi printed its first editorial.

In 1881, the Asahi adopted an all-news format, and enlisted Riichi Ueno as co-owner. From 1882, Asahi began to receive financial support from the Government and Mitsui, and hardened the management base. Then, under the leadership of Ueno, whose brother was one of the Mitsui managers, and Murayama, the Asahi began its steady ascent to national prominence. On July 10, 1888, the first issue of the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun was published from the Tokyo office at Motosukiyachō, Kyōbashi. The first issue was numbered No. 1,076 as it was a continuation of three small papers: Jiyu no Tomoshibi, Tomoshibi Shimbun and Mezamashi Shimbun.

ASA newspaper delivery agent

On April 1, 1907, the renowned writer Natsume Sōseki, then 41, resigned his teaching positions at Tokyo Imperial University, now Tokyo University to join the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun. This was soon after the publication of his novels Wagahai wa neko de aru (I Am a Cat) and Botchan, which made him the center of literary attention.

On October 1, 1908, Osaka Asahi Shimbun and Tokyo Asahi Shimbun were merged into a single unified corporation, Asahi Shimbun Gōshi Kaisha, with a capitalization of approximately 600,000 yen.

In 1918, because of its critical stance towards Terauchi Masatake's cabinet during the Rice Riots, government authorities suppressed an article in the Osaka Asahi, leading to a softening of its liberal views, and the resignation of many of its staff reporters in protest.

Indeed, the newspaper's liberal position led to its vandalization during the February 26 Incident of 1936, as well as repeated attacks from the right wing throughout this period (and for that matter, throughout its history).

From the latter half of 1930s, Asahi ardently supported Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe's wartime government (called Konoe Shin Taisei, or Konoe's New Political Order) and criticized capitalism harshly under Ogata Taketora, the Editor in Chief of Asahi Shimbun. Influential editorial writers of Asahi such as Ryu Shintaro, Sassa Hiroo, and Ozaki Hotsumi (an informant for the famous spy Richard Sorge) were the center members of the Showa Studies Society which was a political think tank for Konoe.

Ogata was one of the leading members of the Genyosha which had been formed in 1881 by Toyama Mitsuru. The Genyosha was an ultranationalist group of organized crime figures and those with far right-wing political beliefs. Kōki Hirota, who was later hanged as a Class A war criminal, was also a leading member of the Genyosha and one of Ogata's best friends. Hirota was the chairman of Toyama's funeral committee, and Ogata was the vice-chairman.

Ryu, who had been a Marxist economist of the Ohara Institute for Social Research before he entered Asahi, advocated centrally planned economies in his Nihon Keizai no Saihensei (Reorganization of Japanese Economies. 1939). And Sassa, a son of ultranationalistic politician Tomofusa Sassa, joined hands with far-right generals (they were called Kodoha or Imperial Way Faction) and terrorists who had assassinated Junnosuke Inoue (ex-Minister of Finance), Baron Dan Takuma (chairman of the board of directors Mitsui combine) and Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi to support Konoe. In 1944, they attempted assassination of Prime Minister Hideki Tojo (a member of Toseiha or Control Group which conflicted with Kodoha in Japanese Army).

On April 9, 1937 the Kamikaze, a Mitsubishi aircraft sponsored by the Asahi Shimbun company and flown by Masaaki Iinuma, arrived in London, to the astonishment of the Western world. It was the first Japanese-built aircraft to fly to Europe.

On September 1, 1940, the Osaka Asahi Shimbun and the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun unified their names into the Asahi Shimbun.

On January 1, 1943, the publication of the Asahi Shimbun was stopped by the government after the newspaper published a critical essay contributed by Seigō Nakano, who was also one of the leading members of the Genyosha and Ogata's best friend.

On July 22, 1944, Ogata, Vice President of Asahi, became a Minister without Portfolio and the President of Cabinet Intelligence Agency in Kuniaki Koiso's cabinet.

On April 7, 1945, Hiroshi Shimomura, former Vice President of Asahi, became the Minister without Portfolio and the President of Cabinet Intelligence Agency in Kantarō Suzuki's cabinet.

On August 17, 1945, Ogata became the Minister without Portfolio and the Chief Cabinet Secretary and the President of Cabinet Intelligence Agency in Prince Higashikuni's cabinet.

On November 5, 1945, as a way of assuming responsibility for compromising the newspaper's principles during the war, the Asahi Shimbun's president and senior executives resigned en masse.

On November 21, 1946, the newspaper adopted the modern kana usage system (shin kanazukai).

On November 30, 1949, the Asahi Shimbun started to publish the serialized cartoon strip Sazae-san by Machiko Hasegawa. This was a landmark cartoon in Japan's postwar era.

Between 1954 and 1971, Asahi Shimbun published a glossy, large-format annual in English entitled This is Japan.

On April 2, 2001, the English-language daily, the International Herald Tribune/The Asahi Shimbun, was first published.

On June 26, 2007, Yoichi Funabashi was named the third Editor-in-Chief of the Asahi Shimbun.

Reproductions of past issues

Reproductions of past issues of the Asahi Shimbun are available in three major forms; as CD-ROMs, as microfilm, and as shukusatsuban (縮刷版, literally, "reduced-sized print editions"). Shukusatsuban is a technology popularized by Asahi shinbun in the 1930s as a way to compress and archive newspapers by reducing the size of the print to fit multiple pages of a daily newspaper onto one page. Shukusatsuban are geared towards libraries and archives, and are usually organized and released by month. These resources are available at many leading research universities throughout the world (usually universities with reputable Japanese studies programs).

The Asahi Shimbun has a CD-ROM database consisting of an index of headlines and sub-headlines from the years 1945-1999. A much more expensive full-text searchable database is available only at the Harvard-Yenching Library at Harvard University, which notably includes advertisements in its index. Researchers using other university libraries would probably have to first use the CD-ROM index, and then look into the microfilm or shukusatsuban versions. Microfilm versions are available from 1888; shukusatsuban versions are available from 1931. Issues of the Asahi Shimbun printed since August 1984 are available through Lexis-Nexis Academic.


Asahi Shimbun office in Osaka
  • Osaka Head Office (regstared headquarters): 2-4, Nakanoshima Sanchome, Kita-ku, Osaka
  • Tokyo Head Office: 3-2, Tsukiji Gochome, Chūō, Tokyo
    • Hokkaidō Office: 1-1, Kita-Nijo-nishi Itchome, Chūō-ku, Sapporo
  • Nagoya Head Office: 3-3, Sakae Itchome, Naka-ku, Nagoya
  • West Head Office: Riverwalk Kitakyushu, 1-1, Muromachi Itchome, Kokura Kita-ku, Kitakyūshū
    • Fukuoka Office: 1-1, Hakata Ekimae Nichome, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka

Group companies

See also

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  • Asahi Shimbun Shashi (Tokyo and Osaka: Asahi Shimbun Sha, 1990-1995. Official history of Asahi)
  • "Asahi Shimbun" in Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan (Tokyo and New York: Kodansha, 1983).

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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