Factbook

A Dynamic Compendium of Interesting Japanese Literary and Publishing Facts
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    Japan’s oldest continuously published magazines are Chuo-Koron and Toyo-Keizai launched in 1887 and 1895[UPDATED: 2-21-2018]

    Toyo-Keizai is technically the oldest continuously published magazine in Japan. It was launched in 1895 as Toyo-Keizai-Shimpo, Oriental Economic News, modeling itself on The Economist, which was launched more than 50 years earlier, in September 1843.  

    Ironically, unlike Toyo-Keizai, The Economist positioned itself as a newspaper in its launch prospectus and not as a magazine. The company that publishes The Economist today is called The Economist Newspaper Limited and The Economist is still considered by some as a magazine-format newspaper and not a magazine.  

    Toyo-Keizai,
    still published today, is published weekly by Toyo Keizai Shinposha and is considered one of Japan’s leading and most important business publications.  

    However, another magazine, Hanseikai-Zasshi, which later became Chuo-Koron, Central Review, was in fact launched one year before the Toyo-Keizai, in Kyoto in 1887. Twenty year after the launch of Japan’s first magazine Seiyo-Zasshi, Western Magazine, whose launch, despite its short publishing life of 6 issues, coined the Japanese world for magazine, Zasshi.  

    Hanseikai-Zasshi,
    which subsequently changed its name, is now published monthly by Chuokoron-Shinsha, Inc. part of the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper group and is based in Tokyo. It is technically not Japan’s oldest continuously published magazine due to its name change, but is one of Japan’s most prestigious and high profile literary magazines.  

    Hanseikai-Zasshi
    was launched by the Review Society, a group of academics and students, based at Ryukoku University, a private university in Kyoto that was originally founded as a school to educate Buddhist monks, by the Nishi Hongan-ji denomination, in 1639.  

    These two magazines, Japan’s ‘so-called two oldest continuously published magazines’ actually have very little in common apart from longevity. They focus on very distinct topics and interest groups: business and literature.  

    The subject matter of a magazine does not appear to be the magic key to longevity in magazine publishing.

    The oldest continuously published magazine in the United State, Scientific American, also a monthly publication, like Chuo-Koron, launched in 1845 (two years after The Economist) covers another altogether different interest group; science and technology.  
    Japan’s oldest continuously published magazines are Chuo-Koron and Toyo-Keizai launched in 1887 and 1895 Posted by Richard Nathan
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    It took Japan 20 years to sign up to the world’s first international copyright convention[UPDATED: 2-21-2018]

    It took Japan 20 years, from its launch, to join the first multi-national agreement on copyright.

    Japanese officials attended the 1886 Berne Convention on Copyright in Switzerland, considered to be one of the most important milestone in intellectual property right protection, as an observer, as did the United States. However, despite sending delegations to Switzerland neither nation signed the Berne convention, which led to the modernisation and internationalisation of author intellectual property rights.  

    The French author Victor Hugo (1802-1885), according to historians, was one of the key figures behind the initiative that led to the convention, which 10 countries signed. Other authors still famous today, including Mark Twain (1835-1910) and Charles Dickens (1812-1870), are also known to have lobbied and argued for author rights and better international protection of authors’ commercial interests.  

    Victor Hugo’s novels were first published in Japanese translation around this time, in the 1880s, as was Coningsby (also known as The New Generation), a novel by Benjami Disraeli (1804-1881), the two-time British Prime Minister. Coningsby was originally published in English in 1844.  

    It took Japan almost 20 years, one year longer than the United States, to adopt and become party to the Convention, which has since been updated and amended multiple times. Japan acceded to it in 1899.  

    The Berne Convention helped establish the concept of Country of Origin, stipulated a minimum mandatory term of 50 years of copyright after an author’s death; and provided protection for works published in translation or copies produced outside the country of initial publication.
    It took Japan 20 years to sign up to the world’s first international copyright convention Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Japan has a popular product category (hybrid books and magazines) called Mukku[UPDATED: 2-21-2018]

    The definition of a Mook is a: “publication, which is physically similar to a magazine, but is intended to remain on bookstore shelves for longer periods than traditional magazines” in a similar manner to a book. They are known as mukku in Japan. 

    The word was apparently first used in 1971 at a Fédération Internationale de la Presse Périodique (FIPP) conference. 

    The format is particularly popular in Japan. Designers (mostly fashion designers) successfully use the format to promote their brands. The Wall Street Journal has reported on the phenomenon calling the ”brand mook” a Japanese publishing hotspot. 

    The format and the word were embraced in Japan, which is often mistakenly credited with coining the term. The continued success and use of the format in Japan has insured the word’s survival and continuation of the format. 

    Many English language dictionaries do not list the word under this definition and often only include a definition of the slang expression spelt the same way meaning: “a foolish, insignificant, or contemptible person”.
    Japan has a popular product category (hybrid books and magazines) called Mukku Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Japan’s first western-style fashion magazine was launched in 1936 by a controversial female novelist[UPDATED: 2-21-2018]

    Chiyo Uno (1897-1996), a novelist whose breakthrough work was Iro-zange, Confessions of Love, launched Japan’s first western-style fashion magazine, Sutairu, Style, in 1936. 

    Uno’s most highly regarded literary work is her novella Ohan (1957) published in English as Ohan in the collection of short-stories: The Old Woman, the Wife, and the Archer, translated by Donald Keane and published by Viking Press in 1961. 

    Uno, like many of the individuals in Japan who were publishing pioneers and launched magazines, was a high profile and charismatic individual so much so that The New York Times published an obituary on her shortly after her death in 1996 with the title: Chiyo Uno, 98, Writer Whose Loves Shook Japan.
    Japan’s first western-style fashion magazine was launched in 1936 by a controversial female novelist Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Japan is not included on the list of key international publishing locations[UPDATED: 2-14-2018]

    The Tokyo International Book Fair (TIBF) is not included or even mentioned in the IPA Global Book Fair Report 2017, published by the International Publishers Association (IPA).

    Although, 75 international book fairs are listed in the IPA report whose introduction states that it “provides an extensive calendar of international book fairs”, there is not a single mentioned of Japan or a location in Japan in the 34-page IPA document.

    The report contains a section on Asia & Oceana, including a special focus on South Korea and lists book fairs in New Delhi, Kolkata, Taipei, Bangkok, Dan Nang, Seoul, Hong Kong, Beijing, Jakarta, and Shanghai, but not Tokyo’s book fair, Japan’s largest.

    TIBF
    has been running for more than 20 years and is attended by more than 400 exhibitors and around 40,000 individuals, but is considered by many publishing professionals outside Japan to be domestically focused and not on the regular international publishing circuit.

    The largest international book fairs are held in Frankfurt and Beijing. But according to the IPA, the most important fairs, in addition to Frankfurt, in terms of professional attendance are: “London (the largest spring fair), Bologna (specialized in children’s books), Guadalajara (the gateway to Latin America) and New York (BookExpo – the main market place for US publishers)”. Beijing is also growing in importance, as is the Shanghai fair, which focuses on children’s books.

    Recently the TIBF has tried to focus more on the reading public than the international community of publishers. Despite this the 2017 Fair was cancelled and the September dates for the 2018 Fair at Tokyo Big Site have yet to be confirmed.

    The IPA, based in Geneva, is the world’s largest federation of national, regional and specialist publishers’ associations. Its membership comprises 70 organisations from 60 countries, including Japan.
    Japan is not included on the list of key international publishing locations Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Japan’s first medical textbook, written in 984, is considered Asia’s first book on medical ethics[UPDATED: 2-14-2018]

    Japan’s first medical textbook was written in 984 by Yasunori Tamba (912- 995), who is sometimes referred to as the Hypocrates of Japan, during Japan’s Heian Period (794-1185). 

    The book, known as Ishimpo or Ishinpo was written in kanbun, the Chinese writing system used during this period in Japan, and presented to the Emperor of Japan. 

    The text consisting of 30-volumes is a systemised compilation of medical knowledge, theory, techniques and practice. It is partly based on and cites ancient Chinese texts, which no longer exist. 

    It covers sexual disease and practice, dental and oral problems – such as bad breath, cleft palate, toothache, and tooth decay – as well as pharmacology, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, moxibustion and acupuncture. 

    The Cambridge World History of Medical Ethics lists the Ishimpo as the first Asian text in its 77-page Chronology of Medical Ethics, which starts from 4,000 BCE. 

    The first three individuals the chronology cites are: Moses (circa 1,200 BCE) Kong Qiu or Confucius (551-479 BCE) and Buddha (563-482 BCE). The first text included is the Hippocratic Corpus including its famous oath written in 400 BCE. 

    The type of traditional medical practice, including acupuncture and moxibustion, described in the Ishimpo now falls within the Japanese definition of Kampo (Chinese Medicine), which was originally used to distinguish this form of medical practice from Rampo (Dutch Medicine), the Western medical practices and techniques that Dutch traders and sailors brought with them to Japan in the 16th Century. 

    The oldest and most complete copy of the Ishimpo, which is illustrated in parts, is preserved at the Tokyo National Museum and is designated as a National Treasure of Japan.
    Japan’s first medical textbook, written in 984, is considered Asia’s first book on medical ethics Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Japan introduced its first copyright legislation in 1869[UPDATED: 2-14-2018]

    The Publishing Ordinance of 1869 was Japan’s first legislation on copyright. The regulations in the ordinance covered both the protection of copyright and the regulation of publishers. Prior to this, despite property rights generally being linked to the ownership (legal title) to the print blocks used to print books, the concept of and protection of author rights in Japan was very limited. 

    The ordinance of 1869 was updated becoming the Copyright Law (now known as the old Copyright Law) to comply with the Berne Convention in 1899, and is considered to be Japan’s first modern copyright law, as it complied with the international standard and norms on copyright protection. 

    The United States Copyright Office, in comparison, was created by Congress in 1897. Both nations were relatively slow to develop and adopt the legal frameworks to protect author rights. 

    In contrast, the United Kingdom, which publishes more books per capita than any other nation worldwide and is a major exporter of books and publications, can trace its copyright legislation back to the Statute of Anne 1709. Under that Statute, probably the world’s oldest, copyright lasted for 14 years with a second optional 14 period of renewal, a much shorter term than the current author’s life plus 70 years in the United Kingdom, and 50 years in Japan.
    Japan introduced its first copyright legislation in 1869 Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Japan’s first magazine targeting women, Katei-no-Tomo, was launched in 1903[UPDATED: 2-14-2018]

    It took 36 years from the launch of Japan’s first western-style magazine in 1867, Seiyo-Zasshi (Western Magazine), for a magazine exclusively targeting Japanese women to be published. Katei-no-Tomo, The Family Friend, was launched in 1903 by Yoshikazu Hani (1880-1955) and his wife Motoko Hani (1873-1957). Motoko is widely recognized as Japan’s first female journalist. She met her husband (her second), while working as a reporter for the Hochi Shimbun

    The magazine was rebranded eventually becoming Fujin-no-Tomo, Women’s Friend, in 1908 and is still published today under that name. The couple, both Christians, tried to encourage women through the publication, which was non-political, to develop their own identities and act as equals within their households. The couple also founded a private girls school in Tokyo, which the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) designed for them in 1921. 

    Fujin-Gaho, The Woman’s Illustrated Gazette, was launched two years after Katei-no-Tomo in 1905, by the novelist Doppo Kunikida (1871-1908). As it is still published under the same name today it is probably technically Japan oldest continuously published women’s magazine. 

    Kunikida, who was a fan of William Wordsworth (1770-1850), studied English at Tokyo Senmon Gakko, which became Waseda University and is now famous for its many author alumni such as Haruki Murakami, Mitsuyo Kakuta and Kazufumi Shiraishi among others. All these high profile contemporary authors successfully completed their studies, unlike Kunikida who was expelled. Kunikida, also a Christian, is known for his romantic poetry and his novel Aru Onna, A Certain Woman. He also founded a literary magazine and a publishing company despite an early death at 36 from tuberculosis. 

    Another interesting magazine launched around this time by five pioneering feminists, was Seito, Blue Stocking, in September 1911. It was named after the 18th Century British Blue Stocking Society. In its first issue Raicho Hiratsuka (1886-1971) wrote: “In the beginning Woman was the Sun. She was the genuine being. Now woman is the Moon. She lives through others and glitters through the mastery of others. She has a pallor like that of the ill. Now we must restore our hidden Sun”. The publication was extremely controversial with several issues being banned by the authorities. It folded in February 1916.
    Japan’s first magazine targeting women, Katei-no-Tomo, was launched in 1903 Posted by Richard Nathan