Tokyo is a global financial centre and a regional business hub, so it’s important for a national finance daily to maintain a bureau there, right? Er, wrong. Very quietly, Fairfax shut down the Fin Review’s Tokyo Bureau early last year, and some 18 months later it’s yet to reopen.

It’s astonishing that the Fin Review would turn its back on the second biggest financial centre in the world and Australia’s biggest trading partner – especially given this boast on the paper’s website: “The Financial Review – the Asia-Pacific region’s pre-eminent source of business and finance news and analysis, political commentary and opinion.”

Under pressure from Fairfax bean counters, Fin Review editor Glenn Burge initially decided to “suspend” the bureau for the 2004-05 financial year to save costs, after correspondent Brendan Pearson left around January last year. Yes, Tokyo is expensive. But Fairfax has a cosy deal with one of the big Japanese newspapers, believed to be Asahi Shimbun, which includes a swap of office space. And Fairfax is believed to have negotiated more favourable terms than the Japanese.

On Tuesday we emailed Fairfax spin doctor Bruce Wolpe asking whether Tokyo would be re-opened, but he hasn’t replied yet. We suspect no news is bad news for the credibility of Fairfax as a financial news source in our region.

Peter Fray

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