The State of The Rafu Shimpo: An Open Letter from the Publisher

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The staff of The Rafu Shimpo working on the Holiday Edition, circa 1920. Raising his hat is publisher H.T. Komai.

The staff of The Rafu Shimpo working on the Holiday Edition, circa 1920. Raising his hat is publisher H.T. Komai.

日本語のお知らせはこちらから

To you, our loyal readers, we cannot thank you enough for your support throughout the years.

For more than a century, The Rafu Shimpo has reported on news and events that have shaped the Japanese American community.

Today we are at a crisis point. For the last three years, The Rafu has been losing money at an alarming rate: $750,000 over three years, with a projected deficit of $350,000 this year. The losses have been covered by the Komai family trust, but that remedy is unsustainable in the long run.

If the situation does not improve this year, The Rafu will be forced to close in December of this year.

This would mean the end of a tradition that started in 1903, and would mark the extinction of Japanese American daily vernaculars in the United States.

The staff and management of The Rafu are passionate about their work. We feel that the Japanese American community is stronger with an independent news publication. Every story is written with the belief that we make the community stronger by keeping it connected and informed.

Starting today, we are kicking off an eNewspaper subscription drive with the goal of signing up 10,000 subscribers, roughly equivalent to raising $500,000 in new revenue. We recognize that to reach younger readers, The Rafu must move more aggressively towards digital online media.

At the same time, we remain committed to keeping the print Rafu alive for our readers as well.

During this difficult time, we want to thank you for reading and subscribing to The Rafu Shimpo, many of you for decades. We ask you, if you would like to see us continue into the next generation, to spread the word about our situation and encourage your friends and family to subscribe.

In the coming months, you will be hearing more about this campaign and we also welcome your thoughts on ways to improve The Rafu. This is your publication.

Although 10,000 sounds like a daunting number, consider the size of the Japanese American population. If only one percent of the over 1 million JAs in the country purchased a subscription, we would exceed this goal.

We are also working to make it easier for community organizations to purchase bulk subscriptions for its members.

We know that with your support, we can continue to serve this community for generations. Today is the beginning of a new chapter of The Rafu Shimpo.

As the valiant men of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team would say, “Go For Broke!”

MICHAEL KOMAI
Publisher and President
The Rafu Shimpo

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12 Comments

  1. I’ve only recently began reading the Rafu Shimpo though an RSS feed. I have no use for a print subscription. Looking forward to supporting the newspaper through this eNewspaper subscription drive. Good luck with the campaign!

  2. The Manzanar Fishing Club documentary film has pledge their subscription and encourage other to join in solidarity.
    Please subscribe to keep this important publication around for future generations.

  3. Mari Miyatake on

    I tried to buy a subscription by the site keeps saying some information is missing, but no info is missing.

  4. Bruce Matsunaga on

    In my humble opinion, your publication is too expensive for many people, especially the older generations who can read the Japanese sections. I would believe, since advertisers are the backbone of revenue, that you should apply added resources in that area. Large corporations, larger ads, etc.. Perhaps you could get commissioned phone sales people to make appointments for sales people. Just a suggestion. Good Luck.

  5. Ideas to increase subscriptions.

    1. Openly and publicly challenge and debate on the real issues with big major newspaper and magazine articles on its own paper and website.

    2, Write articles from other views by foreign journalist and stir controversy.

  6. Please cut back on all the left wing oriented politics. Have more conservative voices for diversity, more Los Angeles history that doesn’t just focus only on East LA. Actually less controversy would be better (per previous comment), we have the LA Times for that – more focus on beauty and positive cultural events. Paper has been tending ‘angry’ for a while now, more unity and positivity. I will definitely subscribe because I want to see it continue and will forward the notice. Thank you!

  7. Amy Takeshima on

    I live in Ventura County, if you want more subscribers for your e- version, consider making the Rafu Shimpo more relevant for the Japanese American Community living in other Southern California Counties. For example, counties that historically had a large Japanese American Farming Communities. The families are still living in these areas.
    When I moved from Los Angeles to Ventura, I had to search the Internet for events and classes relevant to Japanese Americans. Where were the Japanese food stores, art and craft classes, Buddhist church, Obon dates? Where did the Japanese Americans hang out? I connected and met w onderful friends through hula, ukulele, Hawaiian Club, and outrigger canoe clubs.
    My father has subscribed to the Rafu Shimpo for decades, he will be 91 in July.
    I hope the Rafu Shimpo continues to be successful and can be relevant for children, teens, and adults through the E-version. Please make it available to read on the IPad and iPhone. I can’t see the sample.

  8. Is it possible to publish a mostly English-written version? Although I know a little Japanese reading and writing, it is too cumbersome, overwhelming, and time-consuming for me to read a Japanese-print publication. I would be able to understand only a fraction of the articles. If it were written in English, I would gladly subscribe!

  9. Young Stallion on

    We always hear the same sob story that subscriptions are the problem but to be honest, and just my 2 cents, seems the Rafu has been dysfunctional for a long time.

    Why keep pumping money into a business that cannot operate correctly? We will see the same cry for help in 5 years. Get your foundation solid and do not be alienated from the current times, your digital and social are a decade behind and your content is seriously lacking.

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