Above the Fold: Spotlight on… The Yomiuri Shimbun in Japan

By Matt Gray

The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper is a Japanese newspaper published by the Yomiuri Group, the country’s largest media conglomerate. It is published in major cities throughout Japan including Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka, and currently enjoys the largest newspaper circulation in the world, with the morning edition alone being read by over 9 million people daily.

Founded in November 1874, the name “Yomiuri” is derived from the early 17th century Edo-era Japanese newspapers, which were designed to be read (“yomi”) while selling (“uri”). It began life as a koshinbun, a newspaper covering local news, human interest stories and light fiction.

The paper describes its own key qualities as “extensive coverage and clear language” and journalists are expected to follow “The Creed of The Yomiuri Shimbunthe set of rules created post-WWII to fight ‘despotic thought on the left and right’. The Creed reads:

The Yomiuri Shimbun pledges to:
Foster freedom and accountability.
Promote humanism based on individual dignity and basic human rights.
Contribute to the peace and prosperity of Japan and the world founded on internationalism.
Live up to expectations of our readership by way of impartial and truthful news reporting along with courageous and responsible advocacy for the public interest.

In line with The Creed, the Yomiuri Shimbun is known for its vocal campaigning on issues including national security, economic reform, medical and educational issues. In 1994, the paper famously proposed modern revisions to the Japanese Constitution, which has laid untouched by the Japanese Diet since 1947.

Current editor-in-chief Tsuneo Watanabe (the 91-year-old Tokyo businessman who has led the paper since 1991, and who fought in the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War) has used his publication as a vehicle to foster more positive relations with China, most notably in a 2006 editorial which accepted Japanese responsibility for war crimes during the Sino-Japanese and Pacific Wars.

Alongside the main paper, the Yomiuri Shimbun also publishes two daily papers for children (the Chukosei and the Kodomo) and the Japan News—a daily English-language newspaper.