The Asahi Shimbun

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The Asahi Shimbun
The Asahi Shimbun logo.svg
Asahi Shimbun first issue.jpg
First issue on 25 January 1879
TypeDaily newspaper
Company type: Private
Owner(s)Repurchased shares (25%)
Murayama family (21.02%; 10% through the KOSETSU Museum of Art)
Ueno family (total 14.22% by Shōichi Ueno's death in 2016)
TV Asahi (11.88%)
Toppan (7.31%)
Asahi Broadcasting Group Holdcorp (2.31%)
Founder(s)Murayama Ryōhei
Ueno Riichi
Founded25 January 1879
Political alignmentCentre-left[2][3][4][5][6]
HeadquartersNakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka, Japan
Circulation7,960,000 (2010)[9] 6,572,195 (2016)[10]
Websitewww.asahi.com (Japanese)
www.asahi.com/ajw (English)
Flag of the Asahi Shimbun Company
Nakanoshima Festival Tower East
Asahi Shimbun Osaka Head Office is on the 9th to the 12th floors.

The Asahi Shimbun (朝日新聞, IPA: [aꜜsaçi ɕimbɯɴ], lit. 'morning sun newspaper', English: Asahi News) is one 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,[11] was second behind that of Yomiuri Shimbun and subsequently is the second largest circulating newspaper in the world behind Yomiuri.

Its publisher, The Asahi Shimbun Company[12], itself a media conglomerate, has its registered headquarters in Osaka and remains a privately held family business in the major ownership and control of the founding Murayama and Ueno families.

According to the Reuters Institute Digital Report 2018, public trust in Asahi Shimbun is the lowest among five major dailies in Japan.[13]


Early Years

ASA newspaper delivery agent

One of Japan's oldest and largest national daily newspapers, the Asahi Shimbun began publication in Osaka on 25 January 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 Kimura Noboru (company president), Murayama Ryōhei (owner), and Tsuda Tei (managing editor). The company's first premises were at Minami-dōri, Edobori in Osaka. On 13 September of the same year, Asahi printed its first editorial.

In 1881, the Asahi adopted an all-news format, and enlisted Ueno Riichi 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 10 July 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: Jiyū no Tomoshibi, Tomoshibi Shimbun and Mesamashi Shimbun.[citation needed]

On 1 April 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.[citation needed]

On 1 October 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.[14]

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.[citation needed]

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

Toward and During the War

From the latter half of the 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 Taketora Ogata, the Editor in Chief of Asahi Shimbun. Influential editorial writers of Asahi such as Shintarō Ryū, Hiroo Sassa, and Hotsumi Ozaki (an informant for the famous spy Richard Sorge) were the center members of the Shōwa Kenkyūkai, which was a political think tank for Konoe.

Ogata was one of the leading members of the Genyōsha which had been formed in 1881 by Tōyama Mitsuru. The Genyōsha 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 Genyōsha and one of Ogata's best friends. Hirota was the chairman of Tōyama's funeral committee, and Ogata was the vice-chairman.

Ryū, who had been a Marxist economist of the Ōhara Institute for Social Research[15] 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 Sassa Tomofusa, joined hands with far-right generals (they were called Kōdōha or Imperial Way Faction) and terrorists who had assassinated Junnosuke Inoue (ex–Minister of Finance), Baron Dan Takuma (chairman of the board of directors of the Mitsui zaibatsu) and Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi to support Konoe. In 1944, they attempted assassination of Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō (one of the leaders of Tōseiha or Control Group which conflicted with Kōdōha in the Japanese Army).

On 9 April 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 1 September 1940, the Osaka Asahi Shimbun and the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun unified their names into the Asahi Shimbun.

On 1 January 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 Genyōsha and Ogata's best friend.

On 27 December 1943, Nagataka Murayama, a son-in-law of Murayama Ryōhei and the President of Asahi, removed Ogata from the Editor in Chief and relegated him to the Vice President to hold absolute power in Asahi.

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

On 7 April 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 17 August 1945, Ogata became the Minister without Portfolio and the Chief Cabinet Secretary and the President of Cabinet Intelligence Agency in Prince Higashikuni's cabinet.

After the War

On 5 November 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 21 November 1946, the newspaper adopted the modern kana usage system (shin kanazukai).

On 30 November 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.

Between April and May 1989, the paper reported that a coral reef near Okinawa was defaced by "すさんだ心根の日本人" (a man with a Japanese dissolute mind). It later turned to be a report in which the reporter himself defaced the coral reef. This incident was called ja:朝日新聞珊瑚記事捏造事件 (the Asahi Shimbun coral article hoax incident).[citation needed] , and the president resigned to take responsibility for it.[16]

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

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

Shōichi Ueno, the newspaper's co-owner since 1997, died on 29 February 2016.[17]

When Shin-ichi Hakojima was CEO, they tied up with the International Herald Tribune and published an English-language newspaper, the International Herald Tribune/Asahi Shimbun. It continued from April 2001 until February 2011.[18] It replaced Asahi's previous English-language daily, the Asahi Evening News. In 2010, this partnership was dissolved due to unprofitability and the Asahi Shimbun now operates the Asia & Japan Watch online portal for English readers.[18] The Tribune (now known as The International New York Times) cooperates with Asahi on Aera English, a glossy magazine for English learners.[19]

Political stance

The Asahi Shimbun is considered left-leaning[20][21][22] and has been called "the intellectual flagship of Japan's political left,"[23] with a long tradition of reporting on big political scandals more often than its conservative counterparts.[24]

The Asahi newspaper supports the pacifist nature of Japan's post-war Constitution, and is opposed to the acceptance of the right of collective self-defense exercise in Japan.[25] The paper has also reported that politicians affiliated with the openly revisionist lobby Nippon Kaigi were trying to eliminate the so-called "peace clause" from the Constitution.[26]

The Asahi newspaper recognizes that the sexual slaves euphemistically referred to as 'comfort women' were actually forced into prostitution, but initially did not consider the involvement of the Japanese military in the forced recruitment of them in Korea.[27]


Comfort women

In August 2014, the newspaper retracted the discredited testimonies of Seiji Yoshida about the forcible recruitment of comfort women that were cited in several articles published by the Asahi and other major Japanese newspapers in the 1980s and 1990s. The paper drew ire from conservative media who, along with Abe's government, criticized it for damaging Japan's reputation abroad,[27][28] some leveraging on this episode to imply that sexual slavery itself was a fabrication. The Asahi newspaper reaffirmed in its retracting article that "the fact that women were coerced into being sexual partners for Japanese soldiers cannot be erased" but also confirmed "No official documents were found that directly showed forcible taking away by the military on the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan, where the people living there were made 'subjects' of the Japanese Empire under Japanese colonial rule."[29][30]

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster

Following the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the Asahi and other newspapers faced growing public criticism for adhering too closely to the government narrative during their reporting of the disaster. In response, the Asahi strengthened its investigative reporting unit, called the Tokubetsu Hodobu, or Special Reports Section, to take a more independent approach to its coverage. The section won many awards, including the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association Award in 2012 and again in 2013.[31]

In May 2014, the section published what it hoped would be its biggest scoop yet: a copy of the firsthand account of the disaster given by Masao Yoshida, who was the manager of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant when the triple meltdown occurred; the testimony, recorded by government investigators, had been kept hidden from public view. In the testimony, Yoshida said that 90% of the plant's employees had left the plant at the height of the crisis despite his having given instructions for them to remain. He also testified that he believed his instructions had simply not reached the employees in the chaos of the disaster. However, controversy erupted over the Asahi story, and particularly the headline, which stated: “Workers Evacuated, Violating Plant Manager Orders."[32] The newspaper came under intense criticism for slandering the workers by implying that they had fled the plant due to cowardice, when many in Japan had come to see Yoshida and plant workers as heroes who had prevented a worse disaster at the plant.[33]

Japanese journalist Ryusho Kadota, who have previously interviewed Yoshida and plant workers, was one of the first to criticize the Asahi for mischaracterizing the evacuation.[34] The Asahi at first defended its story, demanding that Kadota's publisher apologize and issue a correction.[35] However, in August, the Yomiuri Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Kyodo News and NHK all acquired the same testimony, apparently from the government, and used it not to shed light on the disaster, but to attack the Asahi.[36][37] In mid-September, facing intense criticism from other media and the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for its Fukushima coverage and also its retractions of the comfort women stories, the Asahi suddenly announced that the Yoshida story had been mistaken and retracted it. The president of the Asahi, Tadakazu Kimura, a supporter of the investigative section, resigned to take responsibility.[38][39][40]

The reporters and editors responsible for the story were punished, and the Special Reports Section reduced in size, with many of its members reassigned elsewhere in the paper. Two of the top reporters later quit to found a non-profit journalism organization that is one of the first in Japan dedicated to investigative journalism, the Waseda Chronicle. The Asahi's investigative section was told to avoid coverage of the Fukushima disaster, and has largely faded from view.[32][41]

Asahi Shimbun Asia Network

The Asahi Shimbun Asia Network (AAN) is a think tank that aims to promote information exchange in Asia and provide opportunities for scholars, researchers and journalists to share their ideas on pressing themes in Asia. It was established in 1999.[42] Their work includes annual international symposia and the publication of research reports.[43] In 2003, Gong Ro Myung was chosen as the new president of AAN.[42]

Symposia have included:

Reports include such titles as:

Asahi Prize

Established in 1929, the Asahi Prize is a prize awarded by the newspaper, since 1992 by the Asahi Shimbun Foundation, for achievements in scholarship or the arts that has made a lasting contribution to Japanese culture or society.[45][46]

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 Shimbun 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.


Sports sponsorship

Colored modern logo of Asahi Shimbun

Asahi Shimbun was the official supporter for several Asian Football Confederation's competitions, most recently the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. They used to support both of AFC's club competitions; the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup until 2018 season.

Group companies

See also


  1. ^ "数字で見る朝日新聞". Asahi. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  2. ^ "Japan paper Yomiuri Shimbun retracts 'sex slaves' references". BBC News. 28 November 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2020. In August the left-of-centre Asahi newspaper retracted a series of articles it had published about the comfort women issue based on the testimony of a Japanese author Seiji Yoshida.
  3. ^ "The press in Japan - Gotcha". The Economist. 20 September 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2020. The Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading left-of-centre newspaper, with a circulation of 7.3m, is battling for its reputation after a third embarrassing ...
  4. ^ "Japan PM to overturn pacifist defence policy". The Guardian. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2020. The left-of-centre Asahi Shimbun accused Abe of abandoning Japan's postwar pacifism after minimal public debate.
  5. ^ Saul J. Takahashi (2019). Civil and Political Rights in Japan: A Tribute to Sir Nigel Rodley. "... affiliated with the left of centre newspaper Asahi Shimbun, has been a particular target."
  6. ^ "Japan's Asahi newspaper sacks editor over Fukushima report errors". Financial Times. 12 September 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Asahi Shimbun". Britannica. The paper is known for its liberal and progressive views.
  8. ^ Fackler, Martin (27 May 2016). "The Silencing of Japan's Free Press". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 5 March 2020. That announcement capped a difficult year-and-a-half for independent media that saw the largest liberal newspaper, the Asahi Shimbun, subdued and other critical commentators removed from the airwaves.
  9. ^ "全国紙の朝・夕刊別販売部数(単位:部)". Yomiuri. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  10. ^ "朝日新聞、4年間で発行部数105万減の衝撃…新聞業界、存亡の危機突入へ". biz-journal.
  11. ^ Japan Audit Bureau of Circulation Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Japanese: 株式会社朝日新聞社 Hepburn: Kabushiki gaisha Asahi Shinbun-sha
  13. ^ "Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2018" (PDF). Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford. 2018. p. 130.
  14. ^ http://www.asahi.com/shimbun/honsya/e/e-history.html
  15. ^ "Ohara Institute for Social Research". Archived from the original on 3 February 2006. Retrieved 30 January 2006.
  16. ^ Times, Steven R. Weisman, Special To The New York (29 May 1989). "For Scandal-Baring Paper in Japan, a Scandal". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
  17. ^ "Asahi Shimbun co-owner Ueno dies at 79". Asahi Shimbun. 1 March 2016. Archived from the original on 2 March 2016. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  18. ^ a b Andy Sharp (7 December 2010). "Asahi to Drop English Daily". The Diplomat. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  19. ^ Callum Paton (13 September 2014). "Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun apologises over false stories on Fukushima and World War Two sex slaves". Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  20. ^ "President of Japanese Newspaper Apologizes for Errors". The Wall Street Journal. 11 September 2014.
  21. ^ "Yomiuri, Japan's biggest newspaper, apologizes for using term 'sex slaves'". The Washington Post. 28 November 2014.
  22. ^ "It's Official: Japan Will Hold a Snap Election". The Diplomat. 22 November 2014.
  23. ^ Fackler, Martin (27 May 2016). "The Silencing of Japan's Free Press". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  24. ^ "Gotcha" - The Economist - 20 September 2014
  25. ^ "Right of collective self-defense Asahi Shimbun "opposite"(集団的自衛権 朝日新聞「反対)". Media Watch Japan.
  26. ^ "Tea Party Politics in Japan" - The New York Times - 13 September 2014
  27. ^ a b Asahi Shimbun admits errors in past ‘comfort women’ stories - Japan Times- 5 August 2014
  28. ^ Asahi ‘must reflect on consequences’ of errors Japan News
  29. ^ "Forcibly taken away: Coercion that led to lost freedom existed". Asahi Shimbun. 22 August 2014.
  30. ^ "Asahi retraction reignites Japan debate over wartime brutality" - Financial Times - 15 August 2014
  31. ^ Fackler, Martin (25 October 2016). "Sinking a Bold Foray Into Watchdog Journalism in Japan". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  32. ^ a b Fackler, Martin (15 December 2016). "The Asahi Shimbun's Foiled Foray Into Watchdog Journalism". Asia Pacific Journal. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  33. ^ "朝日の吉田調書報道「なぜここまで日本人貶めるのか」と作家". 週刊ポスト. 20 June 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  34. ^ "朝日の吉田調書報道「なぜここまで日本人貶めるのか」と作家 (2/2)". 週刊ポスト. No. 2014-06-20. NEWSポストセブン. 9 June 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  35. ^ "週刊ポスト記事に朝日新聞社抗議 吉田調書めぐる報道". Asahi Shimbun Digital. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  36. ^ {{Cite newspaper|url=http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/news/140819/dst14081907300002-n1.htm%7Ctitle=率直で圧倒的な「吉田調書%7C newspaper=Sankei Shimbun|date=21 August 2014
  37. ^ 退避した前後の判断などを証言 NHK 2014年8月24日
  38. ^ Yoshida, Reiji (12 September 2014). "Daily Asahi Shimbun Retracts Faulty Fukushima Story, Sacks Top Editor". The Japan Times. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  39. ^ "<朝日新聞>「吉田調書」報道、社長が誤り認め謝罪 毎日新聞 9月11日(木)19時50分配信 9月11日閲覧". Archived from the original on 11 September 2014. Retrieved 11 September 2014.
  40. ^ "吉田調書公開 朝日が「撤退」取り消して謝罪". Yomiuri Shimbun. 12 September 2014. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  41. ^ Cerantola, Alessia (6 July 2017). "Investigative Journalism in Japan: Tough Times, but Signs of Hope". Global Investigative Journalism Network. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  42. ^ a b "Gong named head of Asahi Shimbun Asia Network". Asahi Shimbun. 1 October 2003. Archived from the original on 15 December 2003.
  43. ^ "Asahi Shimbun Asia Network". Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on 15 July 2010.
  44. ^ "Research Achievements". Global Institute for Asian Regional Integration, Waseda University. 13 December 2008.
  45. ^ "Asahi Prize". Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on 23 April 2010.
  46. ^ "Frontier Research Center's Prof. Hosono Wins Asahi Prize". Tokyo Institute of Technology. 12 January 2011. Archived from the original on 18 December 2012.