The magazine Eigo Seinen, originally launched by The Japan Times as a student version of the newspaper to feature a monthly digest of international news, celebrated 100 years of publication Friday.
“We are proud of the fact that we have continued publishing the magazine for such a long time without missing a single issue,” said Kohei Yamada, the magazine’s chief editor. Also known as the Rising Generation, the magazine is published by Kenkyusha Publishing Co. and currently has a circulation of about 10,000.
The Rising Generation began as a monthly in 1898, a year after The Japan Times began publication. “In publishing this unpretentious magazine, the first object aimed at by us is, it is needless to say, to promote a better and wider diffusion of the English language,” the magazine’s editors stated in the inaugural issue.
The magazine was first published in English but gradually shifted to Japanese after it began running reviews of English and American literature instead of news, Yamada said. “At the time, we ran commentaries by writers such as Virginia Woolf,” he said.
In 1901, The Japan Times sold the magazine to Eigo Seinensha. But half of the magazine’s manuscripts were lost when the publisher’s office burned down during the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake.
“At the time, its editors thought of closing the entire publication,” Yamada said. “But then Kenkyusha offered to let it use its printing office, and the magazine resumed operation.” The magazine changed hands again in 1944 when it was sold to Kenkyusha.
It faced another hurdle, however, during the war when the government pressured publishers with paper rationing, but the English magazine gave the nation a means to study “the language of Japan’s enemy,” Yamada said.
The magazine was forced to decrease circulation frequency from biweekly to monthly during the war. Since its inauguration, the magazine has also circulated as a triweekly, but has now returned to monthly publication.
Yamada noted that the early Showa Era was another trying time for the magazine, because it was targeted by rightists’ protests over Japanese studying English. But the magazine has weathered all the storms and now features literary subjects such as criticism of modern novels and academic essays. Its readership is now targeted at professors and other intellectuals.
“Through the years, our magazine has shifted from a textbook for studying English to a more technical and professional publication,” Yamada said. “But I hope we can once again go back to the starting point, when people in general who simply liked English read the Eigo Seinen.”
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