The Asahi Shimbun
's largest liberal newspaper
, and the second-largest newspaper in the world (after its conservative
rival, the Yomiuri Shimbun
It was first published as a four-page daily in Osaka in 1879, with a circulation of around 1,000 copies. Since then, it has grown in leaps and bounds, stalling only during the silencing fascist regime of World War II. Today, it sells 12.3 million copies a day in morning and evening editions, and is the hub of one of Japan's largest media empires, owning seventeen weekly and monthly magazines, 108 domestic bureaus, 29 overseas bureaus, seven corporate aircraft, a major stake in the TV Asahi network, and satellite presses in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Singapore to keep the Japanese diaspora well-informed. They also publish an English-language daily in Japan in cooperation with the International Herald Tribune.
The 天声人語 Tensei Jingo ("Vox Populi, Vox Dei") op-ed section on the front page is the paper's most famous gimmick, but Hayano Toru's Politica Nippon column and Funabashi Yoichi's Japan@world column are also well-known for kicking sand in the face of the Japanese establishment.