a media industry resource

Asahi Group

Table of contents 


The Asahi group of Japan - centred on leading newspaper the Asahi Shimbun - competes with local media conglomerates such as Yomiuri, Nikkei and Fujisankei.

The group is engaged in publishing, radio and television broadcasting, printing, delivery/fulfilment services, multimedia production, retail, advertising, property management, insurance and travel services.

The flagship

The Japan Media Review indicates that the Asahi Shimbun ranks second among Japan's daily newspapers by readership, with 8.3 million circulation for its morning edition and 4 million for the evening editions. It is regarded as the most liberal of the five major dailies in Japan.

It published its first issue on 25 January 1879 in Osaka, with the Tokyo edition launched in 1888. (The two merged in 1908.)

The International Herald Tribune/The Asahi Shimbun English-language newspaper is published jointly by the NY Times' International Herald Tribune and The Asahi Shimbun. The Asahi Evening News, a nightly English-language title, commenced in 1954. The group also publishes English-language weekly The Asahi Weekly.

The Asahi News Service was launched in 1982.

A smallscale 2003 reader survey concluded that over 74% of readers are male. Around 50% of users are in their 30s and 40s, with at least 55% in white-collar positions and around 68% having an undergradutate or postgraduate degree.


The Asahi Shimbun is the second largest newspaper in Japan by circulation (behind Yomiuri Shimbun), with a circulation of around 8 million. Asahi also publishes the Asahi Weekly News, magazines and books.

It has the largest stake in Asahi National Broadcasting (NBC or TV Asahi), with interests in cable tv programmer JCTV and satellite news service AsahiNewstar.

In addition to its substantial direct marketing and media sales activity it owns around 25% of Daiko Advertising and 30% of Asahi Advertising

The group is controlled by the founding Ueno and Murayama families.


There is no major English-language study of the families or Asahi, somewhat disappointing given the group's significance in Japan's economic growth and political development.

For the group's early history see Gregory Kasza's The State & The Mass Media in Japan 1918-1945 (Berkeley: Uni of California Press 1988).

A perspective on more recent developments is provided by Anne Cooper-Chen's Mass Communication in Japan (Ames: Iowa State Press 1997), Laurie Freeman's Closing the Shop: Information Cartels & Japan’s Mass Media (Princeton: Princeton Uni Press 2000) and the essays in Media and Politics in Japan (Honolulu: Uni of Hawaii Press 1996) edited by Susan Pharr & Ellis Krauss.