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Home » Archives » September 2004 » People : Yoshiko Sakurai

People : Yoshiko Sakurai

Thursday, September 16, 2004 Posted: 10:12 AM JST [PHOTOS]

Photos of Japan by Kjeld DuitsJournalist, former news anchor.
Birthplace: Vietnam.

Born in Vietnam, Sakurai graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1969 and started her career as a journalist with the Tokyo branch of the Christian Science Monitor 1971.


From 1980 through 1996 she was a very popular and well-respected newscaster and commentator on Nippon Television Network (NTV), one of Japan's highest-rated national commercial networks. Once called "the best woman in Japanese public life" by a member of the Japanese Diet, Sakurai is active in the Foreign Correspondence Club and Japan National Press Club and was honored by the Society of Japanese Women in Radio and Television and the International Society for Promoting International Understanding.

Her book AIDS Hanzai: Ketsubyo Kanja no Higeki (AIDS Crimes: The Tragedy of Hemophiliacs) and her probing tv-interviews exposed Japan's tainted blood scandal. Sakurai revealed the poor response of health officials and drug firms to the dangers of HIV infection from contaminated blood. The fight to help hemophiliacs who contracted AIDS through blood donations received much energy and attention through her efforts. This was a major accomplishment as the stigma associated with AIDS is still great in Japan.

The book was awarded with Japan's most prestigious prize for nonfiction. Nearly two years after its publication the Ministry of Health and Welfare and five drug companies finally publicly disclosed their roles in the distribution of risky blood products.

Sakurai has also been active to assist the parents of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korean agents and often speaks publicly on this issue.

"Japan is a country where the government does not respect life," she once confided to me, referring to the AIDS problem and the non-committed response of the Japanese government to the fate of the citizens kidnapped by North Korea.

Awards:
1994 - SJ Award (Josei Housousha Kodankai Sho, awarded to female broadcasters)
1995 - 26th Oyake Souichi Non-Fiction Award
1996 - Diamond Lady Award (awarded by Diamond Publishing)
1996 - Hashida Award (honoring contributions to TV culture)
1998 - 46th Kikuchi Kan Award (honoring creative achievement)

Keywords: people_focus journalism media

Related Links:

  1. Books by Yoshiko Sakurai (Japanese)
  2. Yoshiko Sakurai's Web Site (Japanese)
  3. Discussion Corner (Japanese)

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The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
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