Japanese radio icon dies aged 99

Thursday 14 April, 2016
Photo: Shutterstock


Japanese female broadcast journalist Chieko Akiyama died in Tokyo on Wednesday aged 99.

Akiyama, whose real name was Chie Kikkawa, hosted a 10-minute weekday radio program ‘Akiyama Chieko no Danwa Shitsu’ (Chieko Akiyama’s Lounge)

She was popular among listeners for her commentaries on culture and current affairs on the show.

It was the world’s longest-running radio program, running for 45 years from 1957 to 2002, during which time she spoke 12,512 times on air.

She was the first media personality in Japan to cover diverse issues including politics, books, local community happenings and the daily lives of people in various occupations.

Akiyama first taught at a school for the deaf and joined the world of broadcasting by reading aloud children’s stories she had written.

She quit after getting married in 1940 and resumed her broadcasting career in 1948 with a program for the General Headquarters’ Civil Information and Education Section to help the Japanese public understand how to conduct meetings.

In 1949, she began travelling around the country to report on what she saw and heard with peace-building being one of the topics closest to her.

“I know war. We must do everything to prevent another. We must do every possible thing not to allow another. I have planted a number of tiny seeds in an effort to prevent war. One of the seeds has grown to be big,” Akiyama once told The Japan Times, referring to the story Kawaiso na Zo (The Pitiful Elephant) - the true account of an elephant that starved to death at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo during World War II.

She first introduced the story in her program 35 years ago and it became an annual reading every August 15, the anniversary of Japan’s defeat in the war.


Country Japan
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