How to go from journalist to Japan’s first astronaut
This story has largely gone undetected in terms of space milestones, but the journey made by Akiyama Toyohiro that took him from behind a desk as a journalist to a space station around 400 kilometres (250 miles) above the Earth makes for a great story.
Born on 22 July 1942 in Tokyo, Japan, Toyohiro had no ambition to be an astronaut. He was a journalist, plain and simple. In 1966 he joined the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) as a reporter, also doing some work for the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) World Service in London, England. From 1984 to 1988 he worked as TBS’s chief correspondent in Washington, United States, which kept him busy with the end of the Cold War drawing near.
As the 40th anniversary of
TBS drew nearer plans were being made regarding how to mark such a special occasion and impressive milestone. This was when a deal was struck with the Soviet Union to use their space programme for commercial gain in sending a journalist to space. Toyohiro was the successful candidate in this crazy adventure, but first there was training to be done. Before he could take to the sky Toyohiro had to undergo numerous tests and training exercises at the Yuri