13.Science Writer Ms. Atsuko Tsuji


July Edition, 2013 (Part 1)

In ‘Conahana-san of the Month’, we introduce experiences of senior female researchers who have been successfully managed their work-life balance between research/work and life events such as childbirth, child care and family care.


◎ Introduction of Ms. Atsuko Tsuji

Science Writer / Editorial Staff of “Opinion”,
the Asahi Shimbun Company


This interview is with one of greatest senior science-major ladies with a splendid career history (I’m so excited!). 

Newspaper writers usually have their own specialized category in various fields such as politics, economics, international topics, social topics, local topics, daily life, culture, science & sports, etc.  Today’s interviewee, Ms. Tsuji, is a science writer who covers science-field related articles.  I believe that I was very lucky to get to interview Ms. Tsuji by chance, as otherwise there are few contact opportunities with such a figure in my daily life in Yamanashi!  Guess how this happened?  She once came to the University of Yamanashi as lecturer of a course titled “Career Development of Science Major Females.”  Luckily, she was kind enough to save some more time after the class for us to interview♪  In my daily local life in Yamanashi as a writer of the Support Office and house-wife, I was excited and nervous to get the precious opportunity to not just meet with, but also interview, a real professional by-myself.  I almost flipped out with excitement! (lol)

First, I heard about how Ms. Tsuji became a newspaper writer and what kind of articles she had worked for so far.

Let me introduce the outline of her long-year career as a science writer to get started.

She graduated from Science History & Science Philosophy Major, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Science Category Ⅱ, the University of Tokyo.  Since being assigned to the Kofu branch office upon entering the Asahi Shimbun Company, she regards Yamanashi as her second home.

More than 30 years ago, she was working at the Kofu branch office for two years and learned all the basics of a writer’s job through news gathering activities all over Yamanashi and the Police related tenacious coverage.

Then she was assigned back to the Tokyo head office;

1988 – 1995 AERA Issuance Office

1989 – 1990  Fellow of Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT

1997 – 2000  US General Office

2000 – 2002  Science Department

2004  Reuters Fellow at the University of Oxford, Editorialist

2010  Book-Review Committee Member

2013  Editorial Staff of “Opinion”

This is the outline of her bright career path as a science writer so far.


● How did you decide to major in science?

Both of my parents majored in science. So it was a natural choice for me thanks to that science-oriented family environment.


●Did you know that you preferred science since you were a little child?  Just out of curiosity, did you enjoy and were you good at subjects such as math and science?

I would say yes.  I never felt uncomfortable with those subjects.  But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t like non-science subjects, for example, I loved writing.   When I was to select between a science major and humanity major at a later time, I didn’t have a clear answer within myself.  But finally I chose science as a major just in case I wanted to switch my major in the future, “from science to the humanities” seemed more feasible than “from the humanities to science.”


● You enjoy writing!  My impression is that many people in science major are not comfortable with reading or writing a lot.  I believed that you are one of the limited number of talented people who can handle both being a writer, writing articles and a scientist & specialized in science (lol).

How did you reach the position of a science writer?

My father was a researcher and used to say that “science is the most exciting entertainment.”  I recognized that being a researcher was not going to be my career as science didn’t seem to be the biggest entertainment for me.  Shortly, I came to know one of alumni from my seminar group who was working as a science writer at the Asahi Shimbun Company.  My target was set on Asahi since then, one of few newspaper companies who had a science department.


● You found a role model within your close relationship at school.

To tell the truth, however, I failed the employment exam to Asahi as a college work entrant.  After all I was employed to one of the major electrical equipment manufacturers and worked in a section that collected and translated information of international standards and overseas technologies.


● It was not a straight path to become a science writer?!

No, it wasn’t.  But I also enjoyed working at the assigned section.  All my colleagues were female and most of them were English literature majors.  I still remember those days of my first career step as a precious experience.  Then I retried the Asahi’s recruiting in a later year and was finally accepted.  After the days in Kofu, I became a science writer, which was my dream job.


A path to get a dream job is not simple sometimes.  It’s good to know that experiences on the way also enrich your life.

We heard more about the sense of fulfillment she gains through her job.  Stay tuned for the next edition♪