Message from Editor-in-Chief

Tsuneo Watanabe
Editor-in-Chief
The Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings

Tsuneo Watanabe
Photo by Kishin Shinoyama

The Yomiuri Shimbun group has developed into a comprehensive media group with the nucleus of The Yomiuri Shimbun, the newspaper with the world's largest circulation. Over 150 affiliated companies are engaged in diverse businesses, most prominently the popular Yomiuri Giants professional baseball team, Chuokoron-Shinsha, Inc. that supports Japanese publishing culture, and Nippon Television Network Corporation that has built a major television network of 30 stations.

For The Yomiuri Shimbun, 2014 is a year that will be fondly remembered. As well as marking the 140th anniversary of The newspaper's inaugural issue, we also officially began operations in the Yomiuri Shimbun Building, our recently completed headquarters in Tokyo's central Otemachi district. As well as feeling great pride and emotion at this wonderful development, I am also filled with a sense of responsibility and mission as I recall what our predecessors at The Yomiuri Shimbun have ardently achieved over the past 140 years.

The Yomiuri Shimbun published its first edition in a small two-story building in 1874 in the Toranomon district of Tokyo. In 1877, when our headquarters moved to Ginza 1-chome, our daily circulation was still only about 25,000 copies. We steadily increased our circulation by being original and innovative, such as by being the first Japanese newspaper to introduce pages devoted to women's interests and daily lifestyles. Originally called Yomiuri Fujin Furoku when they started in 1914, these pages have since evolved into our Lifestyle section.

In 1923, our headquarters moved to Ginza 3-chome. However, just before a ceremony to celebrate the completion of the building was held, the devastating Great Kanto Earthquake struck and our new office was destroyed by fire. After that, Matsutaro Shoriki became president of The Yomiuri Shimbun and got our company back on its feet. But in 1945, just before the end of World War II, an air raid burnt down our office building.

The Yomiuri Shimbun endured many hardships due to losing its headquarters building twice, but flourished again under the brilliant stewardship of Mitsuo Mutai, who built a strong sales network. The newspaper was committed to providing accurate news more quickly than our competitors, as well as taking a moderate editorial line that was sensible and unwaveringly persuasive. This policy resulted in The Yomiuri Shimbun becoming Japan's most widely read newspaper in 1977. In 1994, the daily circulation of our morning edition topped 10 million copies, cementing our position as Japan's foremost newspaper. And now, in 2014, we have started publishing newspapers from our new headquarters building, which is the tallest in Otemachi and features an incredible array of cutting-edge technologies.

The Yomiuri Shimbun's post-war growth was not limited to its dramatic increase in circulation. In 1952, it led the way to the founding of Japan's first private television network, Nippon TV. The group has contributed to the public good by constructing the Yomiuri Land amusement park and founding the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra and the Yomiuri Riko Gakuin, a body managing two schools, as it expanded its people-pleasing businesses, one after another. In 1999, the group also brought the old-line Chuokoron―sha publisher under its umbrella. There is no other example of a newspaper owning an orchestra anywhere else in the world. The Yomiuri Shimbun has contributed to Japan's development in a broad range of fields of culture, sports, health care and public welfare.

In recent times, some observers have suggested that young people in particular are becoming less inclined to read newspapers and the printed word. However, newspapers offer so many advantages that other media simply cannot provide, such as credibility, the ability to provide a permanent record, and a convenient sources of news and information. These qualities are once again being appreciated year by year. In March, 2011, The Yomiuri KODOMO Shimbun was first published, and in November 2014, The Yomiuri Chukosei Shimbun was launched, gaining the support of young readers who praised it as interesting and worthwhile. Newspapers are absolutely indispensable for the peace and prosperity of the nation, the protection and development of democracy, and improving the daily lives of the people.

The Yomiuri Shimbun is also making strong efforts to send information to the world through online channels. We are contributing to the development and popularity of sports and culture through concerts and performances by the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, our hosting of major art exhibitions, and our sponsorship of professional baseball matches, mainly those involving the Yomiuri Giants. The Yomiuri Shimbun is the only newspaper in the world with its own professional orchestra.

From our new headquarters in Otemachi, the Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings is determined to remain Japan's most trusted media group as we move confidently ahead toward the future.

Tsuneo Watanabe

Born in Tokyo in 1926. Undergraduate degree in philosophy from the University of Tokyo Faculty of Letters. Joined The Yomiuri Shimbun in 1950. After serving as Washington Bureau chief and editor of the Political News Department, became chairman of the Editorial Board and then editor-in-chief of the Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings. Has written many books, among them, Anti-Populism Theory, (Shincho Shinsho), The Memoirs of Tsuneo Watanabe (Chuko Bunko), My Life Stories (Chuko Shinsho Laclef), and Anatomy of Conservative Party Factions (Koubundou).