Toyohiro Akiyama

Toyohiro Akiyama (秋山 豊寛, Akiyama Toyohiro, born 22 July 1942) is a retired Japanese TV journalist and professor at Kyoto University of Art and Design. Akiyama is best known for his flight to the Mir space station aboard a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft on December 2, 1990.[1] Akiyama is the first person of Japanese nationality to have flown in space.[2] He was the joint 239th person in space.[3] He was known as the "Space Journalist" (宇宙特派員) in Japan. Akiyama's space mission was the first commercially sponsored and funded spaceflight of an individual in history.[1] Akiyama was also the first civilian to use commercial space flight, and the first journalist to report on space from outer space.[4] The first Japanese astronaut trained by a Japanese government agency was Mamoru Mohri.

Toyohiro Akiyama
Toyohiro Akiyama in 1990
Born (1942-06-22) 22 June 1942 (age 78)
Tokyo, Japan
Other namesSpace Journalist
Alma mater
OccupationJournalist (TBS), Professor at Kyoto University of Art and Design

Order friendship of peoples rib.png

Medal For Merit in an Space Exploration (Russia 2010) ribbon.svg
Space career
TBS Research Cosmonaut
Time in space
7d 21h 54min 40sec
SelectionSoyuz TM-11 mission
MissionsSoyuz TM-11 / Soyuz TM-10
Mission insignia
Soyuz TM-11 patch.png
  • Kyoko Akiyama
    (m. 1970; div. 1995)
Toyohiro Akiyama's signature

Education and careerEdit

Akiyama attended and earned his bachelor's degree at the International Christian University located in Mitaka, Tokyo. He then joined the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) as a journalist in 1966. He worked for the BBC World Service from 1967-1971 before becoming a correspondent for the TBS Division of Foreign News. From 1984 to 1988, Akiyama served as TBS chief correspondent in Washington D.C.[1][2]


Portrait art of Toyohiro Akiyama

Akiyama was selected for cosmonaut training in August 1989 in a deal between TBS and the Soviet Union. Akiyama's flight became the first commercially organized spaceflight in history.[1] 163 TBS employees had applied for the opportunity to fly. Eventually, Akiyama and camerawoman Ryoko Kikuchi were selected as the two final candidates. When Kikuchi developed a case of appendicitis a week before launch, Akiyama was selected as the primary crew member, with no backup in place.[5]

After successfully completing a Research Cosmonaut training course at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in present-day Russia, Akiyama launched aboard the Soyuz TM-11 mission to the Mir space station on 2 December 1990 along with mission commander Viktor Afanasyev and flight engineer Musa Manarov. During his time aboard Mir, Akiyama gave live reports each day documenting life aboard the station. He returned just over a week later aboard Soyuz TM-10 along with Gennadi Manakov and Gennadi Strekalov on 10 December. Akiyama's mission marked the first flight of a person of Japanese nationality in space as well as the first commercially sponsored and funded spaceflight of an individual in history.[1][2][6] Akiyama was also the first journalist to give live reports from space.[5]

Various reports have cited a flight cost paid by TBS as between US$12 million and US$37 million. The company reportedly lost US$7.4 million on the deal.[7][8] [5]

Later career and retirementEdit

Akiyama returned to TBS after completing his spaceflight and became deputy director of the TBS News Division. He then retired from TBS in 1995.[1][2]

Akiyama was married to his wife Kyoko Akiyama and has two children.[2] He divorced in 1995 to live on a farm away from Tokyo.

He was personally affected by the Fukushima disaster and had to abandon his farm.[9]

Awards and DecorationsEdit

Toyohiro Akiyama received multiple awards and decorations such as:[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f Britannica Educational Publishing (2009). Manned Spaceflight. Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 156–157. ISBN 1-61530-039-2.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Akiyama". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 29 December 2008. Retrieved 29 November 2010.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  3. ^ "Soyuz TM-11". Spacefacts. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  4. ^ "さようなら、ミール!". 日本惑星協会. Archived from the original on 1 August 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Anatoly Zak (27 June 2015). "Soyuz TM-11: First journalist in space". required)
  6. ^ "Mir Space Station". BBC News. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
  7. ^ Otake, Tomoko (3 August 2013). "Toyohiro Akiyama: Cautionary tales from one not afraid to risk all". Japan Times. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  8. ^ "World Aviation in 1990". Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  9. ^ "First Japanese in space becomes Fukushima evacuee". The Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on 7 December 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  10. ^ a b c d "秋山 豊寛 (Akiyama Toyohiro)". Koushihaken. Archived from the original on 21 September 2020. 1990年 ソ連人民友好章 (1990, Soviet - Order of Friendship of Peoples)、1991年 東京都民文化栄誉章 (1991, Tokyo Metropolitan Cultural Honor)、2000年 日本宇宙生物科学会功績賞 (2000, Japanese Society for Biological Sciences in Space Achievement Award)。
  11. ^ "Указ Президента СССР от 10.12.1990 N УП-1148". Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  12. ^ "これまでの学会各賞受賞者および名誉会員 (Award winners and honorary members of previous academic societies)" (PDF). Japanese Society for Biological Sciences in Space (JSBSS). 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 October 2020.
  13. ^ Указ Президента Российской Федерации от 12 апреля 2011 года № 437 «О награждении медалью „За заслуги в освоении космоса“ иностранных граждан»

External linksEdit