The autoparts and fastener manufacturer Nifco will sell the 120-year-old English language newspaper to News2u Holdings, in a deal that is expected to close at the end of the month.
As reported in the Nikkei Asian Review and the Mainichi, Nifco, which bought the paper in 1996, will sell its entire stake in The Japan Times for an undisclosed amount. A spokesperson for News2u said that the newspaper’s some 120 staff would be staying on, and that they were not yet ready to comment on any future changes to The Japan Times management, but said that the paper would maintain its editorial independence.
The founder of Nifco, Toshiaki Ogasawara, was educated in the US, and bought The Japan Times 21 years ago, with an eye towards sharing Japanese news with the rest of the world. After Ogasawara died last year, Nifco set its eyes on an eventual sale of the paper, which has a circulation of about 44,000 – a number that has dropped as more readers get their news online.
Founded in 1897, sales for the Japan Times once hit a peak of ¥5 billion ($45.3 million), but according to Nifco’s most recent financial reports, revenue from the paper had dropped to ¥2.7 billion ($24 million), with a profit of ¥8 million ($72,736) for the financial year ending this March. Quoted in the Nikkei, a Nifco spokesman said that Nifco never expected any real synergies between the autoparts business and the newspaper.
News2u is an online provider of corporate press releases, and it was founded in 2001. As quoted in the Mainichi, News2u said it would “utilize [its] know-how in digital platforms and [its] group’s customer base to make The Japan Times fitter for the digital age.”