Asahi Shimbun President Masataka Watanabe announced the "Action Plan for Restoration of Trust and Resuscitation" at a news conference in Tokyo on Jan. 5.

The three main principles of the action plan are: 1) face facts in a fair manner; 2) respect diverse opinions; and 3) search for solutions to various issues with readers and others.

The action plan includes a measure to establish a "public editor system" that would comprehensively put together opinions and points raised about articles by those outside of The Asahi Shimbun so as to have them reflected in news coverage.

Tadakazu Kimura resigned as president of the Asahi last year over its retraction of articles related to testimony provided by the late Masao Yoshida, the former head of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, about the accident there in 2011, the newspaper's failure to include an apology in special coverage that examined past Asahi coverage of "comfort women" and the management judgment to not publish a column by journalist Akira Ikegami that focused on the special coverage. Other board members also stepped down.

As a result of those incidents, the newspaper established an in-house body called "The Committee for Restoration of Trust and Resuscitation." It includes four outside members.

The committee has been considering various measures for resuscitating the Asahi.

In addition to the public editor system, Watanabe also mentioned other specific steps that will be implemented to restore trust in the company. Those measures include creating a "forum section" that will publish a variety of opinions; creating a new corner in the newspaper that will bring together all corrections; further strengthening its investigative coverage through various measures; holding dialogue sessions with readers in various locations around Japan; creating a system that will allow for outside opinion to be reflected in company management; and implementing study sessions and establishing indicators that will assist in promoting reform.


At the start of the news conference, Watanabe read a prepared statement, which was as follows:

Deeply reflecting on the various incidents that occurred last year, including the retraction of articles, I started from scratch for a hard look at The Asahi Shimbun's raison d'etre.

We want to fulfill our responsiblity for creating a better tomorrow and continue to be a trusted media organization. Our goal is to become "a media organization that thinks and produces coverage with our readers and others."

Not limited to criticizing and the pointing out of problems, we will place importance on a posture of sharing society's issues with everyone and seeking out solutions with diverse perspectives.

The Asahi has about 4,500 employees. We believe that we will be able to further evolve our reporting if each and every employee further expands and deepens their relationships with all segments of society.

Ever since the problems arose, we have received many severe criticisms concerning our company management and our policy on reporting. We will deeply take to heart the criticism that we lacked humility toward facts and truth and held an insufficient posture of lending an ear to criticism from society.

The Committee for Restoration of Trust and Resuscitation was created to come up with a reform plan. It played a key role in the repeated discussions that were held with many company employees to decide on the action plan. We also obtained the advice of experts from outside the Asahi so that we did not become ensnared in an inward-looking and narrow perspective.

I will stand in the forefront in order to steadfastly implement each and every specific measure.

While once again extending my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has supported us, I also pledge to make every possible effort so that we can live up to the trust we hope to regain.



The Asahi Shimbun also announced on Jan. 5 that it would resume publication of a column by the journalist Akira Ikegami in its vernacular edition from Jan. 30.

Ikegami indicated to Asahi officials that he would resume the column after the announcement on Jan. 5 by the Asahi of its Action Plan for Restoration of Trust and Resuscitation.

The column was last published in the Sept. 4, 2014, morning edition of the vernacular Asahi.

Ikegami said, "I believe the Asahi has taken the first steps to show its resolve to start from scratch and display a direction for reform through such measures as establishing a system to secure 'the independence of the news department' and to newly create a corner in the newspaper to bring together corrections. From now on through the resumption of my column, I would like to stand in the position of a reader who casts a sharp eye over the pages of the Asahi."

The Asahi decided not to publish Ikegami's column in late August because it criticized the lack of an apology in the special coverage by the Asahi that appeared in early August that was devoted to examining past coverage of comfort women.

The Asahi later admitted the error of its judgment and published the column.

At that time, Ikegami said he would decide whether to resume the column based on the conclusions reached by a third-party committee that examined past Asahi coverage of the comfort women issue as well as how the newspaper responded to the recommendations made by that committee and other bodies.