Staff of the Rafu Shimpo circa 1920.
The publisher of the Rafu Shimpo says the city's 113-year-old Japanese and English language newspaper has been losing tons of money and will have to close at the end of December unless something changes. "Today we are at a crisis point," publisher and president Michael Komai writes.
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.
Komai said the Rafu Shimpo is kicking off an subscription drive with the goal of signing up 10,000 new 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!”