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Toyohiro Akiyama (秋山 豊寛, Akiyama Toyohiro, born 22 July 1942) is a Japanese TV journalist best known for his flight to the Mir space station aboard a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft in 1990.[1] Akiyama is the first person of Japanese nationality to have flown in space.[2] He was known as the "Space Journalist" (宇宙特派員) in Japan.

Toyohiro Akiyama
Akiyama Toyohiro.jpg
Born (1942-06-22) 22 June 1942 (age 77)
Tokyo, Japan
Space career
TBS Research Cosmonaut
Time in space
7d 21h 54min
MissionsSoyuz TM-11 / Soyuz TM-10
Mission insignia
Soyuz TM-11 patch.png

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]


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.[3]

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 descent in space as well as the first commercially sponsored and funded spaceflight of an individual in history.[1][2][4]

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.[3]

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 is married and has two children.[2]

He was personally affected by the Fukushima disaster and had to abandon his farm.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e 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. ^ a b Anatoly Zak (27 June 2015). "Soyuz TM-11: First journalist in space". required)
  4. ^ "Mir Space Station". BBC News. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
  5. ^ "First Japanese in space becomes Fukushima evacuee". The Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on 7 December 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2013.

External linksEdit