Manila's Japanese-language paper loses founder, but forges ahead

Takuro Iwahashi, Kyodo News

Posted at Aug 12 2020 09:56 PM

Manila's Japanese-language paper loses founder, but forges ahead 1
Photo taken in 2018 of Hirochika Noguchi, founder of the The Daily Manila Shimbun, a Philippines-based Japanese newspaper. Noguchi passed away last Aug. 9, at the age of 74. Courtesy of Edwin Vullag

MANILA - The Daily Manila Shimbun, a Japanese-language newspaper published in the Philippines' capital Manila, marked its 10,000th issue on July 28. No long after, on Sunday, the paper's founder, Hirochika Noguchi, died at his home in Manila at age 74.

Noguchi, a grandson of former Japanese Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe, had worked for Kyodo News, where he was known among his colleagues for his reporting on crimes.

After leaving the Japanese news agency, he moved to Manila and launched Kyodo News Daily, the forerunner of The Daily Manila Shimbun, on May 3, 1992.

The paper, aimed to cater to the Japanese community in the Philippines, grew out of his desire to launch a "newspaper that reports Asian news from Asia."

The newspaper changed its name to The Daily Manila Shimbun in January 1996, with the editorial policy of featuring local news on its front page whenever it can. It ran a series of articles that investigated consular work at the Japanese Embassy in Manila.

The paper even launched a sister publication in Indonesia in November 1998 called The Daily Jakarta Shimbun.

The editor in chief of The Daily Manila Shimbun, Eiichiro Ishiyama, said his reporters go out and gather news on the ground, often making rounds at police stations and government offices, much the same way reporters around the world do.

The organization has some 10 Japanese staff members and about 40 Filipino staff members who together manage editorial and marketing work, and deliveries.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the newspaper hard, leading to a sharp fall in ad revenue. Its circulation has also been affected, standing at around 4,500 copies. Its Internet version that can be read overseas is emerging as a new revenue source.

Three university students were set to start working as reporters in April. But they were forced to return to Japan amid the pandemic. The paper currently has five Japanese reporters, including 63-year-old Ishiyama.

Recently corrections have become more noticeable, likely reflecting staffing shortage in the newsroom.

Ishiyama, however, counts himself lucky for being able to write news stories in a country that is undergoing transformation due to the pandemic.

He is also determined to let Noguchi's legacy live on and keep reporting on the Philippines of today. "I have no choice but to grit my teeth and keep writing."