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  • Tangent: End of an era: Asahi Evening News presses to close

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on January 9th, 2011

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    Hi Blog.  Weekend Tangent.  It’s the end of an era:  the demise of the Asahi Evening News.  This means one less daily media outlet covering domestic Japanese news in English.  And one less voice coming from and covering the NJ community in Japan.

    Consider what happened to the alternatives this past decade:  the Mainichi Daily News went the way of the dodo some time ago.  The Daily Yomiuri still exists, but essentially offers translations of its articles of right-wing bent, mostly avoiding criticism of Japan — and they have severely cut back on their full-time NJ staff anyway (they have more translators than actual NJ reporters, and they are being steadily replaced by mere proofreaders).

    Now it’s the Asahi’s turn.  You might say that this is the natural outcome of the drop in print media revenues.  But I think the Asahi had this in mind all along.  Not only did they engage in union-busting activities this past decade (successfully — they axed lots of full-time NJ journalists), but they also isolated (I tried more than once to contact a few NJ reporters who had bylines in the paper through the Asahi switchboard; switchboard said they had no actual AEN division to connect to) and bled their English division so dry that someday there would be no other alternative but to get rid of it.  And next month that’s what they’ll be doing.

    Last man standing (in English) is the Japan Times.  And Kyodo News (as if there’s any comparison, as they also have few, if any, full-time NJ reporters).  Long may they run.


    Japan Times, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010
    Asahi to end English insert in IHT on Feb. 28
    By MINORU MATSUTANI, Staff writer

    The Asahi Shimbun Co. will stop printing on Feb. 28 its English section that currently occupies the last four pages of the International Herald Tribune’s Japan edition.

    The Asahi Shimbun’s English news will only be available on its website as well as on Apple Inc.’s iPad and Inc.’s Kindle services, the company said Tuesday. The IHT will be distributed without the Asahi section starting March 1…

    The Asahi went on to say it doesn’t plan to stop providing news in English, but made the strategic decision to end the printed version to strengthen operations in delivering news to international readers.

    Full article at

    9 Responses to “Tangent: End of an era: Asahi Evening News presses to close”

    1. Hoofin Says:

      It’s the internet that is doing it. News, for however accurate it is, is free, and the variety of opinion coming out of the better blogs is richer and more to-the-point than the canned wisdom of newspaper editorial pages.

    2. debito Says:

      Courtesy Our Man in Abiko @ Twitter:

      Days numbered at the Daily Yomiuri

      Holy crap, who would have thought the real world (you know the one of falling newspaper circulations and no ad revenue) would have entered the Pravda of Japan, the Daily Yomiuri. Well, the hard times have unofficially hit. Here’s what Our Man knows:

      1. The boss has been told to trim staff by 25%
      2. The paper will be going to one edition in April from the current four.
      3. About 10 Yomiuri staff will be shifted out to other parts of the company and 10 contract employees have volunteered to quit.
      4. The latest ABC figures for the Daily Yomiuri are down 4,500 to 30,093, probably due to airlines stopping taking the paper for free (if you can’t even give it away, what does that tell you about the future of papers?)
      5. With only a handful of foreigners left to mop up, Our Man can’t wait to see the quality of the writing this April.
      6. The poor deluded folk at the Japan Times seem to think there will be a bump in their circulation, and maybe there will be. But, since the Times’ ABC figures were down 2,000 to 33,814, the smart money has to be on short-term outlook: brief respite, long-term: YOU IS TOAST.

      More at

    3. Our Man in Abiko Says:

      Flattered that you posted this story, but it is one year old you know.

      — Well, you did bring it to my attention today (and I guess you wouldn’t bother if you really thought it was stale), so I’m not quite sure why you’re sounding critical toward for mentioning it.

      How about an update, then? Have things gelled beyond rumor?

    4. Our Man in Abiko Says:

      Well, Our Man understands that pretty much what was rumoured did in fact come to pass. The DY now has fewer NJ staff, has only one edition instead of four and of course the journos are slumming it in their Ginza office – more on that here:

      But a few adds to your story: The MDN print edition did go the way of the dodo, but they are of course still flapping on the web, as will the Asahi – on iPads and on their website.

      Speaking as a former print journo, I am sad to see the back of newspapers, but speaking as a member of the 21st century, most newspapers will die, but journalism will not.

      The fact that Japan has kept an English journalism scene at all is the more remarkable feat. Why should a non-English speaking nation be entitled to have an English-press? I’m glad Japan still does, but it is an aberration in the world, surely?

    5. jonholmes Says:

      Sign O The Times (no pun intended).

      wow, it really does seem that “here in Japan you should speak (and now read) Japanese.

      People blame the internet but have there been any major Japanese newspapers closing down?

      OK, lets send the ex pats to HK or Singapore instead.
      Is it the cause, the symptom, or both?

      And what about any Japanese who want to practice reading English?

    6. Iago Says:

      Why should a non-English speaking nation be entitled to have an English-press? I’m glad Japan still does, but it is an aberration in the world, surely?

      Meant facetiously, I expect, but, of course, quite a lot of Asian countries have an English press. (China Daily, Taipei Times, Bangkok Post, Vietnam News, The Korea Times…)

    7. jonholmes Says:

      quite a lot of Asian countries have an English press. (China Daily, Taipei Times, Bangkok Post, Vietnam News, The Korea Times…) indeed.

      If Japan only ends up with the Japan Times, then I suppose it is on a par with these other countries in terms of the number of English language media available.

      Which is fine if Japan just wants to be an also-ran in Asia, and not a G8 member, world leader, tourist destination etc.

    8. Our Man in Abiko Says:

      It should also be noted, no one is saying The Daily Yomiuri is stopping printing. There may well be a compelling case to argue they should, but so far no words to that effect from Yomiuri HQ.

    9. bb Says:

      As a 20+ year subscriber to the Daily Yomiuri, one of the things I LIKE about it is the fact that most of the articles are translations of the slightly right-wing Yomiuri. It has been a really easy way to see at least some of what my neighbors are reading and possibly agreeing with! Although I can read it myself now, it is still easier to let someone else to do the work, so I will keep subscribing.

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