From the Reuters archive: Becoming the source of news on Japan to the world, the world to Japan - Reuters News Agency
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From the Reuters archive: Becoming the source of news on Japan to the world, the world to Japan

As we mark the 150th anniversary of Reuters in Japan, the Reuters archive explores significant moments that contributed to Reuters becoming a trusted source in Japan.

Establishing Reuters in Japan

While Reuters officially established its Japanese presence in 1872, 150 years ago, Reuters expansion ambitions into Asia began years earlier. In 1859, James McLean, who was famously Reuters agent in New York during the American Civil War, was sent to Point de Galle, Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka), where the electric telegraph line connected to London ended, “for the purpose of conducting and managing telegraphic business”. By 1861, Reuters had people at major ports across India, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

With an initial presence established in Asia, Reuters founder Sir Paul Julius Reuter sent Henry Collins, a 22-year-old former teacher who taught Reuter’s son and future Reuters General Manager Herbert, to set up and maintain the Indian and Far East agencies in 1866. Reuters first Japanese office officially opened in 1872 in Yokohama, once the telegraph lines were extended from Point de Galle and made the delivery of news to and from London exponentially faster via telegram instead of mail steamers.

Covering Japan with speed

Reuters connectivity to Japan was instrumental in its early scoops. During the Russo-Japanese war in 1904, Reuters was the first to report Russian Admiral Makaroff’s death in Japan. The news was cabled directly from London to Yokohama and published three hours ahead of any other source in Japan.

The Great Kando Earthquake, which happened on August 31, 1923, devastated Tokyo and killed over 140,000 people. British press on Fleet Street called it the “Reuters Earthquake” as every major outlet in London published the news organization’s steady stream of coverage. Internally, Reuters reporting was praised as “one of the greatest and most complete scoops yet recorded in the history of the Agency” and was made possible by Reuters correspondents bravely discharging their duty through the disaster.

Cementing lasting partnerships 

Reuters developed strong partnerships in Japan as a trusted conveyer of Japanese news. In 1894, Sigmund Englander, the first editor of Reuters, negotiated an agreement to publish all official news issued by the Japanese government to provide a better understanding of Japan.

Channel partners Kyodo News and Jiji Press were critical to Reuters distribution in Japan. In 1953, Reuters established exclusive relationships with Kyodo and Jiji to distribute Reuters general and business news in Japan, respectively. Kyodo News and Jiji Press remain valued partners to this day, in addition to direct relationships with media broadcasters and publishers in Japan.

Innovating continuously

Reuters was at the forefront of introducing new technology to provide its partners with reliable, trustworthy content with speed. In 1964, Reuters began using a new two-way teleprinter in Japan and was the first news organization to use a circuit in the trans-pacific cable (TPC-1) that linked Japan and North America.

Reuters has invested heavily in financial reporting to provide Japanese and global investors with the information they need to make informed decisions. In partnership with Nihon Keisai Shimbun, Reuters founded the Japanese Investor Services, later known as the Quotation Information Centre (QUICK), which it ran from 1972 to 1984. In the 1980s and 1990s, Reuters strengthened its business and financial news offering with the launch of Reuters Japan Financial Service (1985), Reuter Monitor Dealing Service in Japan (1986) and Reuterscoop, a Japanese-language money and capital markets news service (1991).

Today, Reuters continues to provide its partners, including LSEG Refinitiv, media organizations and professionals, an inside view of Japan and deliver Japanese-speaking customers a comprehensive view of our global newsgathering. Our Japanese-language website and @ReutersJapan on Twitter are among Japan’s most trusted news sources today. Reuters continues to explore new ways to earn the trust of its partners and audiences as the source of accurate, unbiased news to make smart decisions.

Media contact:
JJ Minder
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