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Top left: Brothers operate the rotary letterpress installed in the Bethel facility in Numazu, Japan, in 1972. Top right: Stacks of the first magazine printed in the Japan branch. Bottom: The Printery in Ebina, Japan, today

OCTOBER 4, 2022

Fifty Years of Printing at the Japan Branch

Fifty Years of Printing at the Japan Branch

The year 2022 marks 50 years of printing at the Japan branch.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the zealous preaching activity of the brothers and sisters in Japan, aided by some 70 missionaries, led to a significant increase in publishers. To meet the increasing demand for Bible-based publications in Japanese, it was decided that the Japan branch would begin printing the Watchtower and Awake! magazines.

During the “Peace on Earth” International Assembly in Tokyo in October 1969, Brother Nathan H. Knorr announced that a new branch with printing facilities would be constructed in Numazu, in the foothills of Mount Fuji.

Brothers preparing the printing plates in the early years of the Bethel facility in Numazu, Japan

Construction began in January 1972. By August 15, 1972, workers had installed a 40-ton web rotary letterpress, along with plate-making, stitching, and trimming equipment. The first magazine to be printed at the new branch was the October 8, 1972, issue of Awake! in Japanese. A former press operator fondly recalls, “I shed tears of joy when I saw many boxes filled with freshly printed magazines waiting to be shipped.”

In 1982, the Japan branch relocated to newly constructed Bethel facilities in Ebina. The complex was three times the size of that in Numazu and used offset presses and high-speed bindery equipment. In addition to the Watchtower and Awake! magazines, the branch began printing the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. They also began producing Bible-based literature in more than 200 languages.

A recent photo of our brothers in the Printery in Ebina, Japan, adjusting the ink levels of the MAN Roland Lithoman web-offset press

The Japan Printery now produces a combined total of 13.2 million copies of The Watchtower and Awake! each month. Since 2013, the branch has published over 20 million copies of the Bible in more than 100 languages and has shipped them to more than 50 countries worldwide.

In 1972, there were about 13,000 publishers in Japan. Fifty years later, in 2022, the number has grown to over 213,000 publishers. We are overjoyed to see how this Printery has supported the Kingdom work in Japan and throughout the world.—Matthew 28:19, 20.