Saying goodbye to our scholar from Japan

By Lynne Perri

Yo Noguchi leaves the Investigative Reporting Workshop next week after a year as a scholar-in-residence from Tokyo, where he has been a staff writer for The Asahi Shimbun Japanese daily newspaper for 20 years.

He came to Washington to study campaign finance laws and practices and how they compare to those in Japan. The experience was “very, very good,” he said, and led to travel throughout the U.S. for conferences and interviews. IRW will publish his findings later this year, and his research also will be published in Japan.

Yo Noguchi (Jeff Watts/AU)

His work led him to interviews at government organizations and newsrooms. While newsrooms in both the U.S. and Japan are facing continual declines in revenue, he noticed “an enthusiasm and energy” among the American journalists he met. The highlight of his experience, he said, was when he attended his first Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Houston in June and met people from all over the world.

“The current situation is not so fine,” he said about the tension between U.S. government officials and journalists, “but I feel many in the American public believe in the importance of journalism.”

He returns to Japan with his wife, Reiko, and two sons, Tetsu, 11, and Gaku, 5. Both boys learned English and made friends in supportive schools in Maryland, he said.

On Sept. 1 he will take on a new role as the team leader on coverage of the Ministry of Trade, Energy and Industry, where he’ll write about international trade. He also will cover government trade policies and private companies. And he plans to launch a blog and write about his experience as IRW’s scholar-in-residence.

His colleagues are already calling him and asking him to share what he learned.

His key takeaway: “One of the big differences is the power of journalism and the power of democracy in this country.”