Tsuneo Watanabe, who is called a “dictator journalist” and “person who exerts influence on the prime minister,” will continue heading the Yomiuri Shimbun as a chairman and editor-in-chief. It is gloablly unprecedented that a person nearing 100 years old still maintain his position as the chief executive of a major newspaper.
Thanks to Watanabe strengthening of the newspaper’s conservatist orientation and aggressive management, the Yomiuri Shimbun has the world’s largest circulation (7.03 million copies a day). When he was a journalist in politics, Watanabe organized a meeting between the vice president of the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan with President Park Chung-hee in South Korea. The “Kim Jong-pil & Masayoshi Ohira memo” produced during the 1965 South Korea-Japan diplomatic negotiation was known public by Watanabe’s exclusive report.
Leading the “Yomiuri Empire” with strong charisma, Watanabe exerts great influence on the Japanese conservatives. Yet he is not hesitant to tell hard truths, as illustrated by an episode that he strongly criticized former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi who paid tributes to the war criminals-honoring Yasukuni Shrine. Watanabe is also passionate about managing Japan’s most popular baseball team, Yomiuri Giants. He attends the opener for the Yomiuri Giants baseball team every year and supports the team’s victory.