On a sunny Friday afternoon, a bus filled with enthusiastic diplomats left the UNU Building for Tsukiji. The bus was headed not for the famous fish market this time, but to a building which stands tall across from the market; The Asahi Shimbun Headquarters.
As a first endeavor by UNIDO ITPO Tokyo, an Embassy Tour to this Japanese media agency took place on Friday, February 23, to which a record number of 46 diplomats including 5 ambassadors from 37 embassies participated.
The tour aimed towards a better understanding of the news reporting and media environment in Japan, especially with a focus on economic and international news. Led by a team from the Foreign News Section, the tour to the second largest general newspaper agency in Japan began with a group photo and an introduction video, then a visit to the editing floor. The group was then greeted by Mr. Masataka Watanabe, President of Asahi Shimbun, along with Mr. Nobuyoshi Sakajiri, Foreign News Editor, at a reception room where warm greetings and business cards were exchanged individually with all participating diplomats.
“This is the first time that we have ever had the opportunity to welcome such a large group of diplomats. We thank you for your interest”, said Mr. Watanabe in his welcome note. The Asahi Shimbun, which has a circulation of 6 million copies and 3 million users registered on its digital site, and employing 4,500, celebrates its 140th anniversary next year since its founding in 1879. The newspaper agency also partners with the New York Times, whose Tokyo branch is located within the Asahi Shimbun headquarters. “We resonate with the SDGs led by the United Nations, aligned with the concept to ‘leave no one behind’. We hope to join you in resolving the challenges that your country and the world face”, added Mr. Watanabe.
Following the President’s speech, Mr. Shinichi Maruishi, from the Economic News Section, and Ms. Miyuki Hokugo, one of the leading members of the SDGs projects within the Asahi Shimbun spoke on their areas of expertise including how economic news and the SDGs are perceived by the public and the directions aimed in conveying the “news”. Both spoke passionately, which invited a number of questions from the diplomats including how the newspaper agency caters to the needs of its readers, how the accuracy of the news is measured and views on the future from their perspectives. “This is the first time I have ever visited a Japanese media agency. What an experience!”, commented a diplomat, as he joined the queue to exchange business cards with the presenters.
One of the highlights of the tour came at the very end; with a visit to the newspaper’s printing line, which occupies the basement floors of the headquarters building. A sudden whiff of ink scent greeted diplomats exiting the elevator to the basement floor, after which the group was guided to a room where the printing machine was running fanatically, printing 25 to 50 copies of newspapers per second, or 90,000 to 180,000 copies per hour, depending on the type of newspaper printed. Noisy with the printing process and the newspapers being rushed from one end of the printing line to another, the scenery of the area surely was one that would not be witnessed on an ordinary day.
“It was a rewarding experience to see so many diplomats enjoy their visit to our company”, said Mr. Yoshiaki Kasuga, Associate Editor, Foreign News Section. “A newspaper is a compilation of commitments by journalists, editors, those in charge of the printing, sales, and the delivery. We hope to have been able to get that message across. The occasion has also marked as an opportunity for further collaboration with UNIDO ITPO Tokyo and with the diplomats based in Japan”, Mr. Kasuga added.
The group photo taken at the beginning of the tour was made into the newspaper format combined with the day’s actual paper, which the diplomats took back as a souvenir. The excitement among the diplomats remained until the very end, as the bus started heading back to the UNU building, as they waved back to the team from the Foreign News Section and the tour guides as they bid the UNIDO tour farewell.
Event: Embassy Programme to the Asahi Shimbun
Date: 23 (Fri) February 2018
Venue: The Asahi Shimbun Headquarters
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