Digital Media in Japan

From Digital Media Asia
(Redirected from Wiki - Japan)
Jump to: navigation, search
JPN215 Logo.jpg
Japan, an archipelago in East Asia, consists of 6,582 islands [1] and has a population of 127 million [2]. Ranked 3rd in the world by nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) [3], Japan is a major economic power as well as a highly developed and connected nation. Japan is 11th on the Global Human Development Index (HDI)[4]. Literacy and standard of living are considered very high. A world leader in fundamental scientific research with multiple Nobel laureates, Japan has led the way for the rest of the world in Science and Technology, especially in Robotics. The level of technological advancement has had effects on its adoption of Digital Media and Technology. The following segments will further reinforce the state of this development and its impact on multiple facets of business, government and society.

JPN215 Infographic.png
Digital Media Landscape of Japan.
"Year 2011 was not only a year that changed the geography of Japan but also a year that drastically altered the way Japanese people use social media. "
"Facebook came out of nowhere and increased its user base more than 200% "
"Twitter became mainstream and a Comscore report claimed that Mixi is not #1 social network in Japan anymore"
" . The wind is behind Facebook, Japanese culture favors Twitter and Mixi is the oldest platform and still has some potential"
"So will 2012 be the year of Facebook, a great comeback story for Mixi or an easy win for Twitter? "

Digital Literacy in Japan

Japan: Internet

Internet usage and penetration in Japan
Year Users Population  % Population Usage Source
2007 87,540,000 128,389,000 68.0 % ITU
2008 94,000,000 127,288,419 73.8 % ITU
2009 95,979,000 127,078,679 73.8 % ITU
2010 99,143,700 126,804,433 78.2 % ITU
2011 (March) 99,182,000 126,475,664 78.4 % ITU
Internet Usage and Population Statistics [5]

Social Technographics Profile of Japan

Forrester categorizes Social Computing behaviors into a ladder with six levels of participation; we use the term Social Technographics® to describe a population according to its participation in these levels. Brands, Web sites, and any other companies pursuing social technologies should analyze their customers' Social Technographics first and then create a social strategy based on this profile. [6]

To find out more about Social Technographics®, we recommend that you check out this SlideShare presentation deck entitled Social Technographics Defined by Josh Bernoff.

Broadband Connection in Japan

Ave. Measured Connection Speed (Asia Pacific)

Entering 2011, Japan had over 35 million broadband lines in place, making it the third largest broadband country in the world after the US and China. Much of the success of broadband in Japan is owed to the stunning growth surge that occurred back in 2003 on the back of DSL broadband technology. Since then Japan has established the second largest FttX market at around 30% of the world market after China which represents about 40% of the world market. Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts, [7]

In Akamai's State of the Internet' report for Q1 2011, Japan ranks 3rd in the Global Connection Speed standings with an average measured broadband speed of 8.1mbps.

⇑ Back to top

Japan: Mobile

NTT Docomo 905i
Japan is also one of the world’s leading mobile markets, not only in terms of size but also in terms of innovation and its ability to be early with the introduction of advanced technologies.

In 2006, before global Smartphone adoption, Japan's 90 million cell-phone users were already playing video games, downloading songs, exchanging messages, reading news, trading stocks, storing digital photos and surfing the Web on their tiny screens [8]. Mobile phones are now the most widely owned device, above the PC and fixed line telephones [9] and Japan alone accounts for 24% of annual handset sales worldwide. [10]

Latest Mobile Factsheet you should know about [11]

  • The top activity amongst Japanese mobile users is accessing the internet is accessing the internet (75% of mobile users).
  • Other top mobile activities include taking photos (63%), using the browers (59.3%), using email (54%) and using an application (42.3%).
  • Japanese mobile users downloaded 131.24 million ringtones in 2010, generating ¥13.29 billion in revenues.
  • Making payments via mobile phones has been possible in Japan now for around five years and more than 20% of Japan’s mobile subscribers take advantage of this facility.

Smartphones [12]

Smartphones, especially the iPhone, have made waves against the odds in the world's most sophisticated handset market. In March 2011, more than 9.7 million people owned smartphones in Japan (defined as those phones that use the Google, Apple, Microsoft and other platforms), an increase of 71 percent from September 2010, as smartphone adoption has continued to accelerate in Japan. Google Android led as the top smartphone platform in March 2011 with 4.6 million subscribers, more than doubling in just the past three months. Despite giving up its #1 position, Apple still grew 17 percent in the past six months to 3.9 million mobile subscribers. The two leading platforms accounted for 87 percent of the smartphone market in Japan.

Case of Apple iPhone.jpg

Pre-entry: The challenge for Apple [13]

  • Sophisticated Japanese Customers may prove elusive for Apple due to unique challenges like fuller and more intriguing handset alternatives
  • Reliance on homegrown technology closed cellphone market to outsiders
  • Killer competition: Mobile phones already had GPS, motion-sensitive games, mobile TV and high-speed music and video downloads
  • Carrier controlled phone bundles and proprietary technologies

Post-entry: The surprise Knock-out

  • Sales in first six months estimated between 645,000-1 million sets, with >500,000 being a good result in Japan [10]
  • Moved to no. 1 spot in July 2009 (sales)[14]
  • Captured 72% of Smartphone Market as of April, 2010 [15]
  • Changed the rules of the digital media landscape [16]
  • Carriers no longer have complete control [16]
  • Anyone can release products and create your own revenue streams without having to rely on carrier market [16]

3 takeaways from the above graph [17] that reinforce the digital landscape in Japan:

  1. Mobile is a crucial market to look into
  2. PC growth which brings along growth in internet usage
  3. Gaming device growth

Development of 3G market

⇑ Back to top

Japan boasts a highly connected mobile market and is ahead of the United States and EU in terms of browsing, accessing applications and downloading content. [18] Towards Q3 2011 there were over 122 million mobile subscribers in Japan with around 99% of these using 3G services. [19]

Japan's top 5 Mobile Behaviours [20]
Internet Behaviours Japan US EU
Took Photos 63.0% 50.6% 56.8%
Used Browser 59.3% 34.0% 25.8%
Used email (work or personal) 54.0% 27.9% 18.8%
Used Application 42.3% 31.1% 24.9%
Sent text message to another phone 40.1% 66.8% 81.7%
This market is mostly dominated by a few large well known companies such as Sharp and Fujitsu, as well as some large local companies such as NTT DoCoMo and KDDI Corporation which intensifies competition in the market. With concrete plans moving towards 4G within the next five years.

Docomo has launched Japan's first commercial 4G network, boasting speeds 10 times faster than current 3G service.

As a result of the wide adoption of 3G mobile phones, Mobile Social Networking Sites (SNS) have become a key Digital Media Platform in Japan.

Japan Mobile Social Networking Sites Study 2010.png
Key Findings:
  • 75% of Social Networking Sites accessed solely from Mobile
  • Top 3 used SNS features: Checking inbox, playing games and reading a friend's blog
  • SNS usage skewed toward females
  • SNS usage behind Apps/Games, Ringtones and Screen Customization

View full Slideshare here from by Alexei Poliakov (Twitter).

⇑ Back to top

Digital Media Platforms

Access the 2011 data at [3]

JPN215 DigitalMediaPlatforms.png

Japan is the 4th largest population of Internet users in the world . Throughout the years, Internet penetration has been increasing. Currently, 80% of the population uses the Internet. The penetration rate of social media in Japan is 19% . Twitter is an example of a popular social media platform in Japan. Mixi surprisingly falls out of the top 10, notching only 15% of the SNS users while Ameblo and Livedoor reach more than 30% of users. Even Hatena has nearly 20% .

Japan accounts for the 3rd most bloggers in the world with 4.9%. However, 81% of Japanese web users visit blog each month, making most Japanese fall under the “Spectators” category in the Social Technographic Ladder. It seems that blogging is part of the Japanese culture as Japanese bloggers make more than 1,000,000 blog posts each month!


The Washington post described the Japanese as "blog wild", given their dominance of the blogosphere. Close to about 31.3 Million people in Japan Blogs, allowing it to become the largest social media activity done in Japan. [21]. Although English speakers outnumber Japanese speakers by more than 5:1, slightly more blog postings are written in Japanese than in English, according to Technorati, the Internet search engine that monitors the blogosphere.

By some estimates, as much as 40% of Japanese blogging is done on mobile phones. Unlike many of their Western counterparts, many bloggers in Japan shy away from politics, controversy, and barbed language. Compared with Americans, they write at less length, they write anonymously, and they write a whole lot more often. As Technorati puts it, "In Japan, it is not socially acceptable to pursue fame."

Top 10 Blog Websites Among Internet Users in Japan

According to the Technorati 2007 "State of the Blogosphere" report [22], Japanese is the #1 blogging language in the world, accounting for 37% of all blog entries posted on the Internet, while English accounts for only 36% of all blog posts.

Top 10 blogging platforms: [23]

  • 1. FC2 Inc.
  • 2. Livedoor-Blog
  • 3.
  • 4. Seesaa
  • 5. Yahoo! Blogs
  • 6.
  • 7. Hatena-Diary
  • 8. Blogger
  • 9. Goo Blog
  • 10. JUGEM

⇑ Back to top


Twitter was launched in 2006 and has been embraced far more rapidly by the Japanese mainstream as compared to the likes of Facebook, MySpace, and eBay. According to studies, 16.3 percent of Japanese web users tweet, as opposed to just 9.8 percent in the U.S. . Japan moved 3 places from 6th in 2010 to becoming the 3rd in the world for total Twitter usage in 2012 . On Dec 14th, Twitter confirmed that Japanese users had once again recorded the highest number of tweets per second. The proportion of tweets emanating from Japan in April 2011 was 25% in the world .

Social Networking Sites

As of April 2011, Mixi ranks as the most popular social network site with over 23 million subscribers and 80% of the social media market share, with 11.3% of Japanese mobile users accessing the site during December 2010 . The world’s most popular social network has now passed 10 million active monthly users in Japan, that’s twice the size of its 5 million monthly userbase in September .

Despite Facebook's sudden rise in popularity, Mixi still has the lead with 15.2 million active users (at least one login a month) reported last quarter and over 26.2 million users in total. However, with little growth over recent months the question is how long Mixi can hold onto its crown . Twitter and Mixi have joined forces to deepen links and strengthen their ground against Facebook's rapid expansion .

3 key differences between Mixi and Facebook:

1. Registration:
Until 2008, Mixi required an invitation from a current user and a Japanese mobile mail address to register. Officially, every member must be over 18 years old. Today, self-registered members must acquire another member for Mixi quickly or they will get banned. It is thus far harder to create multiple or ghost accounts on Mixi than on Facebook.
2. Privacy and Anonymity:
Almost everyone on Mixi does not use a real picture of themselves for their profile, while most Facebook users do. Mixi users also tend to not disclose their real name and often keep their profile/diaries/pictures private to the first degree of friendship. Mixi profiles often don't contain school or company names, although given the option to do so. Profiles seem secondary to other features on Mixi, since you usually access another person's diary/photo/etc first before their profile, due to the way the site works. Moreover, the ashi ato (footprint) function on Mixi makes it possible to retrace every visitor on profile pages, improving the feeling of personal security.
3. Platform:
A majority of people access Mixi through their cellphones - updating their status, writing their blog, and uploading photos. While Facebook users are increasingly using their smartphones to do the same, the bulk of the users still access it via web.

Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) / Forums

Anonymous Communities

2ch logo.
2CH logo.

2ch (pronounced "ni-channel) opened by Hiroyuki Nishimura in 1999, is one of the largest Internet forums in the world (largest in Japan). It is one of the most distinguishing features of 2ch is the complete freedom given to anonymous posting. This is a rare feature as almost all other internet forums require some form of registration, usually coupled with email verification for further identification of an individual.

Other Unique Features:

  • Anonymous posting
  • Free speech and derogative language
  • Affinity towards conservative politics
  • Sexually explicit context and expressions

⇑ Back to top

Instant Messaging

Windows live messenger japan emoticons english.JPG Japan yahoo MSN messenger.gif
Chat services used by Internet users in Japan.
Chat services used by Internet users in Japan.'s study highlights the decreasing popularity of online instant messaging in Japan, which can be attributed to the shift towards mobile instant messaging.[24]

The two most used services are:[24]

  1. Windows live messenger/ MSN messenger Japan
  2. Yahoo! Japan Messenger

Customization for Japanese Market

Both companies have adapted to Japanese language, however largely maintain the same features as their English versions. Windows Live Messenger Japan, adds Japan specific emoticons based on popular Japanese games and cartoons to better target the market. Also, users can choose to add Badges to link it next to the activities that support your name

⇑ Back to top

Video-Sharing Websites

Video sharing is very popular in Japan on both web and mobile platforms. This is highlighted as Japan ranked second in the Asia Pacific region with 60.4 million viewers and posted the strongest user engagement with an average of more than 12.5 hours of video viewing per viewer. [25] Additionally, Forrester estimates that online video consumption will reach 106 million users in Japan by 2013.[26]

Most used web video-sharing platforms in Japan are:[27]
Ranking Video Sharing Site Total Unique Viewers (000) Viewer Penetration Videos (000) Hours per View
1 Youtube 43,433 76.4 3,616,532 4
2 NicoNico Douga 14,871 26.1 1,130,014 13
3 Yahoo! Sites 10,220 18.0 187,177 7
Nico Nico Douga Logo.
Nico Nico Douga Logo.

Nico Nico Douga

Nico Nico Douga (“smiling videos”), Japan's largest home-grown video sharing platform, is only available in Japanese and is widely used to watch Anime and Manga. A distinguishing characteristic is it's use time referenced text chat that flows in front the video feeds. This has created a unique social landscape around video sharing, while tripling the amount of time that viewers spend on the site compared to Youtube.

It has become one of the leading online video-sharing platforms in the country, with roughly 21 million registered users, about 86 percent of whom are under the age of 40. [28]

The business model incorporates three revenue sources, optional premium membership fees, sale of ad space and sales from affiliate links. However their mobile version remains ad free.

Nico Nico Douga's target market are male Otaku, anime and video game lovers with a high level of technology literacy, rather than the mass market.[29]


GyaO is a subsidiary of Yahoo! Japan and is rising in popularity. Yahoo Japan President Masahiro Inoue is pursuing the creation of Japan's No.1 video content service through the integration of Yahoo! Japan's Internet know-how and market dominance and Gyao's video sharing expertise and 22 million service subscribers. [30]

Mobile Video sharing sties

MyTube mobile and NicoNicoDouga mobile are the two popular sites, and 70% of them (are use to)watch music videos. [31]

Latest Developments in the Japanese Video Sharing Scene

Niccori Channel Viewer Adds Nico Nico Functionalities To YouTube[32]

Tokyo-based startup Knowledge Flow has developed Niccori Chanel Viewer, a service that essentially mixes YouTube and Nico Nico Douga.

Niccori is based on Nico Comment, a service that allows users to add comments to videos on YouTube, Ustream and Justin.TV (also developed by Knowledge Flow). This is the same way commenting and communication works on Nico Nico Douga.

⇑ Back to top

Search Engines

Searches (MM) Conducted Across Asia Pacific Markets: Japan leads with the highest number of searches per month

Maru Sato, managing director of comScore Japan highlighted that as “home to the third largest Internet population in the world, Japan represents a valuable market for search engines." This is reinforced when we compare Japan to the rest of Asia Pacific, as Japan clearly leads with by far the highest number of searches per month (9,192,000,000 searches).

However it is also one of the more competitive search markets, with two large companies, Yahoo! and Google, each controlling a significant share of the market. [33].

Graph of market share of search engines in Japan.JPG
Yahoo! Japan led the search ranking in Japan with 3.5 billion searches in January 2009, followed by Google Japan with 2.6 billion searches and Rakuten with 153 million searches.

Top Search Engines in Japan by searches conducted in January 2009 [34].

Ranking Search Engine Searches Market Share
1 Yahoo japan logo.png 3,489 51.3%
2 Google japan logo.gif 2,596 38.2%
3 Rakuten logo.jpg 153 2.3%

Case of Yahoo japan.gif

Yahoo! Japan, topped the list of search engines in Japan but also ranked as the most visited site in Japan in 2010.

Yahoo! Japan Screenshot.
Yahoo! Japan Screenshot.
3 Key success factors:
  • Early mover advantage: 1996 vs Google: 2001
  • Tailoring to Japan: Added structural features like video, included more information on the landing page (design)
  • Leveraging on the Japanese: Joint venture, employ 3500 Japanese staff

Top 5 Corporate Implications

  1. Focus on Yahoo! Japan due to their significantly dominant market share
  2. Prioritize paid search on Yahoo! Japan due to it's wider reach and 25% higher number of viewers who click on paid search results
  3. Development of key words on Yahoo! Japan's rules
  4. Linguistic research and translations are extremely important due to the complexity of the language and the multiple dialects
  5. The Japanese prefer "busy" landing page designs

⇑ Back to top

Web Analytics in Japan

Top 3 Most Popular Web Analytics Providers in Japan

  1. GoogleAnalyticsLogo.gif
  2. OmnitureLogo.jpg
  3. DigitalForestLogo.png

Google Analytics
Google Analytics Certified Partners in Japan

Google Analytics is the enterprise-class web analytics solution that gives you rich insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness. Powerful, flexible and easy-to-use features now let you see and analyze your traffic data in an entirely new way. With Google Analytics, you're more prepared to write better-targeted ads, strengthen your marketing initiatives and create higher converting websites.

Google Analytics Certified Partners in Japan include companies like Inter Media Japan, Mitsue Links and Ayudante.


Omniture is an online marketing and web analytics business unit owned by Adobe Systems. In October 2009, Adobe Systems Incorporated acquired Omniture, Inc. [35] a company whose product suite provides an integrated set of services including advanced web analytics and segmentation (SiteCatalyst, Discover and Data Warehouse), search marketing (SearchCenter), optimization (Advanced Testing and Targeting – Offermatica and TouchClarity), and the marketing integration platform (Genesis).

Digital Forest

Digital Forest 窶錀 is the leading total web marketing ROI solution provider in Japan.[36] In March 2009, NTT Communications Corporation acquired Digital Forest to develop Web-marketing analytics solutions for enterprise customers.[37] Visionalist is Digital Forest's flagship product and a leading web analytics solution.

⇑ Back to top



Online retailing has a stronger presence in Japan than elsewhere in the region with 73.7% reach. They are also one of the region's top spenders on online overseas products, with Japanese interet users spending on average US$1,827 on international shopping sites. [38]

Error creating thumbnail: Unable to save thumbnail to destination
Top 5 Online Retail Subcategories in Japan:[38]
  1. Comparison Shopping (57.6% reach)
  2. Books (41% reach)
  3. Computer Hardware (23.6% reach)
  4. Apparel (19.6% reach)
  5. Retail Food (15.2% reach)

Kakaku Logo.
Kakaku Logo.
Kakaku .
Kakaku Screenshot. B2C Price Comparison Site provides pricing information, ratings and reviews of products, as well as operating forums for user feedback and reviews. More than 12 million users visit every month, and the site has accumulated over 7.3 million posts from users. does not focus on the amount of sold licenses and revenue, and does not include opinions of various experts and authorities.


Japan Social Media Equivalents

Japan social media equivalents.jpg

⇑ Back to top

Traditional Media Platforms


In line with global trends, Japanese have been turning from books to E-books with mobile E-books gaining huge popularity.

Japan Sales of E-books.png
Key Statistics:
  • In 2006, sales of E-books increased >300% to US$58 million.
  • Non-phone Internet sales of E-books grew by 69.7%
  • Number 1 selling book in Japan is a mobile E-book
  • Primarily female readers

In 06 December 2010, Japan's largest Mobile Carrier launched a feature-phone only App-Store, with 30,000 E-books and all exclusive content on NTT Docomo phones [40].

Slideshare: How Digital Media is changing the face of publishing- Japan's story


Japan Times Online.png
In 2008 The Washington Post cited Japan's newspaper industry's future as bleak because of its aging population and youths not reading newspapers. Only 20% of newspaper content is put on the Internet as there is no efficient business model that allows them to gain sufficient revenue for online [41]

However, 2 years on, a conflicting report was written in the Japan Times, citing that the most popular way of receiving news is print newspaper. A survey of 4,100 subscribers reported that "of the five kinds of media- newspapers, TV, radio, magazine and the Internet- newspapers came out on top in terms of respondents' impression and evaluation" with 52.6 percent of polltakers saying that newspapers help them understand their communities. [42]

Still, there are no less than 14 online newspapers. A list of which can be found here. For individuals looking for Japan news in English, Japan Times Online is arguably the most widely adopted source.


Magazine sales have been particularly weak, sinking 31% over the same period, and a number of monthly and weekly magazines have fallen by the wayside [43]

Yahoo japan.gif

In 2008, Yahoo! Japan decided to launch a new service enabling users to read articles from a total of 22 printed magazines online and free of charge with a selection covering periodicals for men, women and lifestyle in general. The magazines, published by Kodansha and Shogakukan amongst others, will also provide Yahoo! with exclusive stories including video.

MSN Magazine online web portal.jpg
Yahoo! Japan’s rival Microsoft Japan also made a similar move. In collaboration with publishing company Magazine House, Japanese users are able to view free magazines on a dedicated web site big M. Microsoft will only offer digitized backnumbers. At the moment, the offering is limited to Tarzan (a lifestyle magazine) and Hanako, a periodical for women. The content can be viewed using the browser so a software download is not necessary.

Microsoft’s initiative isn’t particularly exciting. But Yahoo! Japan’s announcement actually marks the first time for centralization of digitized content provided by top publishing companies on the web. The online revolution of the Japanese media landscape continues.

Online copies of Japanese magazines can also be purchased over the web.

⇑ Back to top

Changes in Advertising

In 2009, Advertising spending on Traditional media was down 14.3%; while Internet advertising spending up 1.2% [44].

In 2010,Year-on-year spending in the traditional media declined for a sixth consecutive year (down 1.9%). Expenditures in Television rose (up 1.1%), but fell in Newspapers (down 5.1%), Magazines (down 9.9%) and Radio (down 5.2%). In other media, Promotional Media dropped for the third year in a row (down 4.4%). Satellite Media-Related advertising posted double-digit growth (up 10.6%) on the strength of BS digital broadcasting. Internet advertising also rose sharply (up 9.6%), due to an increase in marketing campaigns incorporating Internet advertising. [45]

Breakdown of Internet Advertising:

Mobile advertising grew more rapidly than web advertising (PC-based Internet), and search engine advertising expanded faster than banners and other types of display advertising. Advertising production costs remained relatively flat, as falling unit costs offset growth in the number of ad campaigns and website renewals.

Japan Advertising Spending 2010 (Year-on-Year change) .png

⇑ Back to top

Impacts of Digital Media


Mobile web market

According to Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the country’s market for mobile content and services market grew by 12% to hit 1.52 trillion yen ($17.3 billion) in 2009. The $17.3 billion breaks down into mobile commerce, which was worth $11 billion and mobile content (games, ring tones, e-books etc.), which amounted to a $6.3 billion market. [46]

With the Japanese having grown to access the internet equally on both mobile and web based platform, social media is understandably consumed differently in Japan compared to the other Asian countries. Businesses thus have to be clear of their target market and develop fully functional versions of their websites for access through mobiles.

Japan's Mobile Market Size

How social media can help businesses

Build trust

Though mainstream media is highly trusted in Japan, there is an increasing trend of consumers turning to online for information. Forty percent of people who engage in social media agree that online communication can be just as meaningful as face-to-face communication. Social media is thus a useful tool for companies to earn trust from consumers.

Trust and transparency is especially important for consumers in Japan. An Edelman Trust Barometer report 2011 on Japan stated that Japanese 88% of them would buy products and services from a company if they trusted them. Companies should leverage on social media to communicate their products and services’ quality since product and services perceived quality is the top trust-building factor in Japan. [47]


The Japanese have proven that they have unique preferences and behaviors with regards to online consumption, such as a preference for content-rich pages. For companies trying to break into the Japanese market, it is simply not enough to export a version of their product with the text translated into Japanese without understanding the subtle nuances of Japanese culture.

External companies therefore require an entirely different mindset when establishing themselves in the Japanese market. It is critical to understand that there are totally different tastes in terms of web design, usability, and user experience. Companies need to do efficient market research and keep customer development, user acquisition and distribution in mind.

How businesses in Japan use Social media

Access 2011 data at [4]

According to a survey... Answer to the questions “what is your objective of using social media? (multiple answers accepted up to 3)” N=4,003

JPN215 BUS.png

Source: Nikkei Computer (Source:

Some Points:
1) General community do not use it for business-related objectives
2) Although there is a considerable amount of people who use SM to find out information on products and services, it is not matched up by the number of people who actually advertises and promote products and services. (potential growth in this area)
PS: Look at top three businesses in Japan and see whether they use social media? Is it effective?

WHY such results?

1) The companies and organizations they belong to are still struggling how to perceive and handle social media.

- Only 13.0% have already developed guidelines in employees using social media when as much as 43.9% have not developed and have no plan of developing such guidelines.

- There are some companies that classify social media as “web site banned from accessing or of warning”, which is an issue to be solved before developing such guidelines.

2) At present social media has not yet become something that can be useful at work. (Perception)

- Only 1.8% answered that social media is vital at work and only 8.6% answered it is useful at work, when 51.6% answered that it is not useful at work.


WHAT do Japanese companies look for in SM?

1) Preferably anonymous If Japanese people are only active on social media sites when they can be anonymous, it goes without saying that it’s very difficult to be active as a company. Social media relies on personal input from its users, and it’s perhaps quite intimidating to post comments as a company on networks where consumers can have their say anonymously and avidly.

2) Preferably risk-free Other people believe there is another reason why Japanese companies have difficulties with social media. In Japanese business culture, a lot of importance is attached to quality assurance, and they try to avoid as many risks as possible. There is a sophisticated process set up for pretty much every action, which is very different from the impulsive nature of most social media activities. If you have to discuss a click on a “like” button with your boss, it becomes a very slow process.


Future of SM in Japanese business?

It is quite possible that social media will gradually proliferate in Japan, similarly to western countries.

When asked how social media is likely to be in three years time… 5.7% answered that it will be vital at work, 21.1% answered that it will be useful at work and 36.3% answered that it will be of some reference at work.


Demanding Consumers

Japan Youth Mobile Culture.jpg

The Japanese are blessed with some of the most creative technologies in the world. It has to be intuitive, simple and high-quality, not because the Japanese are so tech-savvy, but because they are the most demanding consumers in the world. According to Scuka, more than 100 new phones hit the Japanese market last year as manufacturers tried out new ideas on the public. Some cultural factors, as with any other country, do play a part in Japan's willingness to take up some technologies such as TV on the mobile.

An avenue for anonymity

Japanese Virtual World.jpg

The availability of virtual worlds have led to many flocking there to live a life that they themselves could shape. This concept of anonymity and a separate online life is often used to engage in activity that would be harder to do in real life. A case that gained global attention was of a lady who was jailed for illegally accessing computer data and manipulating it to kill her "husband's" avatar in the game after being divorced suddenly. [48] Virtual worlds are rather widely adopted in Japan and many use it as an extension of themselves.

Internet Bullying in Japan

The popularity anonymity and social networking has led to an increase in the issue of Internet Bullying, particularly among middle school and high school youths. A 2008 survey found that a high percentage of Gakki-Ura-site: bulletin boards used by young people in Japan contained abusive messages often directed by one young person against another. Using hidden identities, the bombarding of hate e-mails and fake replies have led to multiple suicides among young teenagers. [49]

Internet Addiction

Addiction to the internet and online gaming is termed as Hikikomori ("social withdrawal")and is an increasing problem in Japan. Hikikomori is defined as person who has isolated himself for more than six months with no social life outside the home. The estimated number of Hikikomori varies from between 100,000 and 320,000 and between 1 million and 2 million.

Studies have shown that the average age of Hikikomori is 26.7, with some as young as 14, and 80 percent of them are male. [50]

⇑ Back to top


With prolific spread of digital media across Japan, the politcal scene is not an exception. As politicians are starting to take notice of the blogging and digital media phenomenon in Japan, the country has seen a rise in the political usage of social media and closer government attention to the country's digital landscape.

Blogging, tweeting and streaming their way to political success!

From Youtube to Twitterand Blogs, the Japanese politicians are increasingly catching onto the digital fever.

Hatoyamayukio Japan Government Twitter.

Twitter is actively being used by politicians since 2009, including the ex-Prime Minister (@hatoyamayukio). Extending to crisis and emergency communication, during the February 2010 Tsunami, Mr. Haraguchi, Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications, leveraged on the high speed communication of Twitter to notify the public about the Tsunami warnings.

[ Politter} helps you to keep track of what all the 565 twitter-active politicians are saying on twitter!

Picture 11.jpg

Elections Campaigning

"Google - Let's Choose our Future 2009," which started up on July 13 is a collaboration between Google and Youtube. It aimed to break down the barriers between politics and the real world and also to ignite the interest in politics among the youth. The project will utilize the Google moderator, which gained attention when President Obama used it for his presidential campaign. This is a new attempt to make Japan's so called opaque politics clearer. [51]

It was very user friendly and allowed Japan’s citizens and celebrities to post questions related to policy making to candidates who were running for elections. It is however questioned if the project would had been more successful if it was held on a local Internet platform instead, example Nico Nico Douga.

By the end of July:

  • 6256 participants in Google Japan’s Q & A platform
  • 4536 questions posted to the Q & A platform

270 × 240px [52]

Crisis Communication

The Japanese Prime Minister’s Office started an English-language Twitter account Wednesday, providing updates on the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake situation.

Kanei Sigai on Twitter.

The account, @JPN_PMO, will tweet translations from the Japanese disaster information account @Kantei_Saigai, which the Prime Minister’s Office created March 13, the day of the quake.

In its first four hours, the account gained more than 7,000 followers. Although the translation is faulty at times, the tweets provide information about evacuations, press conferences and the country’s overall welfare during this time of crisis.[53]

Encouraging Competition

The Japanese government also encourage a competitive telecommunications industry to reduce prices and improve services. Japanese citizens are thus able to choose between three different major telecom providers in Japan - DoCoMo, KDDI au and Vodafone.This move by the government has helped companies to offer the world's cheapest broadband. A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicated that Japan's broadband is priced at ¥26.7 (USD0.22) per megabit per second. The US, by comparison, offers broadband rates at a significantly higher ¥385.7 (USD3.18) per megabit per second.[54]

⇑ Back to top


In the recent Digital Economy Rankings 2010- a ranking of Digital Competence or E-readiness, Asian countries were lagging behind Western counterparts with Japan coming in #16, an improvement of 6 places, still behind Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

Japan's improvement was due to the increased quality of its broadband and mobile, for example its equipped high fibre density network.

Economic Intelligence Ranking 2010.png

Economic Factsheet: Online advertising

  • An estimated 16.3% of Japan's total ad spend in 2011 will go online advertising. (Source: Marketing Charts/ IDC) [55]
  • Online ad spend in Japan is the highest in the region, reaching US$8.27 billion in 2010. Moving forward, estimates put total online ad revenues for 2011 at US$8.9 billion; US$9.78 billion in 2012 and US$10.66 billion in 2013. (Source: Zenithoptimedia). [55]

Economic Factsheet: E-commerce

  • Online retailing in Japan generates US$30 billion a year, excluding digital downloads and travel. (Source: The economist) [55]
  • E-commerce revenues in Japan are expected to grow by 10% every year until 2015. (Source: PWC) [55]
  • Nearly one fifth (18%) of Japanese internet users shop at overseas retail sites. (Source: Access Economics) [55]
  • A sizeable 70% of Japanese internet shoppers, according to a survey, say they expect to make online purchases at some point. (Source: Microsoft advertising/ Aegis media) [55]

Economic Factsheet: Mobile

  • In total Japanese mobile music sales came to ¥74.74 billion in 2010. (Source: Riaj) [55]
  • While only 7% of Japanese mobile users accessed an online retail site via their phones in mid-2010- it is more than the Europeans (4.1%) or Americans (5.5%). (Source: Econsultancy/ Comscore) [55]
  • Nearly 10% of Japan's mobile subscribers (9.8 million people) made a purchase via their mobile wallets in December 2010. (Source: Comscore) [55]
  • Making payments via mobile phones has been possible in Japan now for about five years and more than 20% of Japan's mobile subscribers take advantage of this facility. (Source: Boston consulting group) [55]

⇑ Back to top


Robert Pickard, President of North Asia Edelman, highlighted that privacy and copyright law are much stricter in Japan. In a country where "following the rules" is culturally very important, these laws have a strong dampening effect on transparency and some forms of information-sharing. He added that the popularity of anonymous blogging in Japan is an example of this, with avatars even outnumbering identified individuals in some places.

The Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication proposed guidelines for the regulation of the Internet in Japan, which applies existing broadcast laws to allow the government to control content on the Internet. It is said that these laws “would extend as far as personal blogs and homepages”. [56]

Internet filtering in Japan

The Japanese government have put a lot of effort into regulating and censoring the Internet. They promote the use of filtering software against what they judge to be harmful information over the Internet.

Key areas of concern are:

  • Group suicides
  • Production of explosives
  • Child Prostitution and rape

Internet Filtering Initiatives

Against Group Suicides:

  • Requirement for police to ask Internet service providers to disclose information on the senders of messages on planned suicides.
  • Public education about the dangers of "harmful online information" and enhancement of consultation services about it.
  • Increasing monitoring of suspicious sites
  • Urging schools and public offices to install Internet filtering software

Against Child Prostitution and Rape:

It is estimated that there are about 5,000 different dating sites competing in Japan and Japan's National Police Agency reported that 85 percent of all crimes related to online dating involve minors.

  • Japan’s National Police Agency may soon require dating sites to register with public authorities for better control.
  • Introducing stricter age control verification systems.[57]

Mobile Regulations:

  • Effective age verification systems to keep underaged users from accessing unsuitable mobile sites, particularly dating sites. [57]
  • Requirement of guardian consent for minors to access to selected mobile sites

⇑ Back to top


Facing university entrance exams with his silenced camera phone, top speed mobile internet connection - and the brain power of 27 million people!

The crime: using mobile technology to cheat during entrance examinations to some of Japan's most prestigious seats of learning.

A 19-year-old preparatory school student was caught soliciting help online during entrance exams for four universities. He posted mathematics and English questions on Yahoo! Japan's chiebukuro (pearls of wisdom) bulletin board during exams at Kyoto and three other universities. Answers appeared within minutes from more than 20 of the estimated 27 million people who use the site in Japan every month. Police found several answers on the site that closely matched those written on the student's exam papers.

As well as being disqualified from the exam process, he now faces charges of fraudulent obstruction of business, a crime punishable by up to three years in prison or a maximum fine of 500,000 yen (£3,700).[58].

Impact: The episode has dominated TV news since the allegations came to light last weekend. Newspaper editorials bristled at the thought that the meritocratic values – whether real or imagined – on which Japan's top universities pride themselves had been compromised. Stung by the outcry, the Education Ministry said it might ban cellphones and other communications devices at exam sites. [59].

⇑ Back to top


10 Missed Opportunities in Search Engine Marketing in Japan

  1. Choice of Google, Yahoo or others?
  2. Mobile Search
  3. Landing Page Design
  4. Paid Links
  5. Hosting and Top Level Domains
  6. Translations
  7. Keyword Research Issues
  8. General SEO Differences
  9. Blogs and Social Media
  10. Trust And Engagement

Source: SearchEngingeWatch[60]

5 Fresh Digital Media Trends to Watch

  1. New Tools for Reporting and Distribution
  2. Brands Become Media
  3. New Aggregation and Curation Models
  4. Rise of the Second Screen
  5. Multi-Platform Subscriptions


Hear from the exclusive Experts


Access the Podcast 2011 at [5]

Megumi Oyanagi

JPN215 PC Megumi.jpg

Megumi Oyanagi is coined as a Marketing Versatilist with Management Literacy specialized in Web Marketing. Having built a vast portfolio in companies like Panasonic, Novartis and Muratac Co. Ltd., she has great knowledge on the digital scene in Japan. She has a blog dedicated to her insights of Japan from recent news ranging from Japan’s economy to Japan’s societal issues.

In the interview, Megumi shares her opinions on the digital scene in Japan and some insights on how Japanese companies leverage on social media platforms. She continues to give giving comparisons on the difference in cultural usage of social media in Japan and United Kingdom. She ends with her thoughts on how Japan can open up to other social media platforms.

Podcast: Click here to tune into the podcast featuring Megumi Oyanagi.The Podcast featuring Megumi Oyanagi

Get to know about her more: Blog: Twitter:!/MegOyanagi Linkedin:

⇑ Back to top


Access the Video 2011 here [6]

Adam Acar

Left]"View exclusive interview" at [

Adam Acar is an Associate Professor of Communication teaching in Kobe City University of Foreign Studies. He specialised in communication & global business. His main research topic focuses on social media and wrote several social-network related papers including “the antecedents of social networking behaviour.

For his video interview, he introduced the social media scene in Japan and talks about the cultural aspects of how Japanese uses social media. He also gave insights on how companies are using social media platforms in Japan and loopholes that companies should avoid.

Follow Adam Acar on the following:
Google +:

Case Studies

Digital media is a key element within Japanese society and is weaved deep into their culture and way of life. Each case study highlights different ways in which digital and social media has and is shaping the lives of people and companies in Japan.

Click here for 2011 content [7]

  1. #Meiji
  2. #Mazer
  3. #Japan ANA
  4. #Social Campaign For Coffee Art Lovers

Meiji's Tweet Mystery Campaign

JPN215 CS Meiji.png

Meiji did an advertising campaign for the Kajyu Gummy sweets that allowed Twitter users to develop a mystery story in real time . This encouraged Japanese Twitter users to participate more. Users are told to follow key accounts including two of the story’s main characters and the snack brand’s account also. Once set up users will then start to solve the mystery of a missing grape vine (not the most exciting subject granted) by corresponding in real time with the characters who will offer up hints and narrative as it goes on. It has helped Meiji and Twitter users develop a more personal relationship. As gamification is becoming more common, comapanies leverage on this to do their campaigning.


JPN215 CS Mazer.png

Mazer hopes to generate crowd-sourced ideas through social media which can then be auctioned to interested companies, all in the name of enhancing Brand Japan. It is a platform from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry that harnesses the power of social media to tap into collective intelligence. Put simply, it’s structured to generate better quality idea creations by sharing them with all.

Mazer works through three main stages:
1. An appointed “creative director” poses a particular problem or question
2. Open crowd sourced answers to the problem or question are submitted through social media (i.e Twitter)
3. An “idea auction” of the winning idea to companies interested in taking it further and actually implementing it.

Benefits of Mazer:
1. Develop into a real think tank type platform that could actually help promote new business as much as it does Japan with some ideas actually being implemented in successful ways.
2. Potential to draw in interested parties who are specialists in the particular area and generate new start-ups openly pitching for projects.
3. Selected ideas are open to companies to bid on and buy and “by buying an idea creation from someone, that company/group will gain exclusive negotiation rights to materialize the idea creation into a product or service.

Potential setbacks:
Ideas may be copied since it is openly available may lead to them being copied. But since it is open in the public, the public themselves act as the watchdogs and “this self-cleansing function is a part of social media”.

Japan ANA

JPN215 CS Mazer.png

Launch of its Is Japan Cool? website which is aimed at sharing and exploring the most interesting, fun and ‘cool’ aspects of the country where visitors to the site can share articles, video clips and photos of what they believe are interesting — anyone who has ever visited the country can attest. This enables tourism numbers to boost via social media

How using SM helps the company While that encourages higher levels of interaction and voter numbers, it can lead to issues with fake clicks and it means ANA isn’t capturing details of all of its visitors, which it could use for future initiatives.

Social Campaign For Coffee Art Lovers

JPN215 CS Social.png

It was used as a PR ad for Morinaga’s popular Creap product (a powdered milk), aimed at attracting a wide audience, the campaign allows users to virtually experience the work of a barista through the web . People were allowed to send it to whomever they please, such as their family, friends, or significant other via Facebook, Twitter, or email .

JPN215 CS Social2.png

How using SM helps the company Brands are finding new ways to grab the attention of customers by appealing to their latest forms of communication with their peers. To gain a competitive advantage over other companies and leave at lasting impression in the consumers’ minds, the importance of standing out and reaching to them on more personal levels is evident.

Main takeaways: 1. There must be an integration of social media and business uses . Also, the community has to learn to share information: Social media channels engage people with one another via creating and sharing information. Empowering online consumers into call for action can do this so that information will spread quickly.

2. “The media and communication technology of course do not change the scope of the disaster but do change the way we are able to experience and share it” By Dorian Benkoil

Shortcomings of using social media
1. The perceived lack of timely and full information about radiation risks from officials and mainstream media has also given rise to an array of social media initiatives.
2. Misleading information and especially money-making scams and hoaxes.

Future social media trends
1. Social TV Integration
2. TV Is Going Online in a Big Way
3. Facebook Credits Take Center stage
4. Big Business Has Woken Up
5. ROI Is Still Huge

⇑ Back to Case Studies List


  1. "Facts and Figures of Japan 2007 01: Land". Foreign Press Center Japan. Retrieved 4 July 2007.
  2. "Official Japan Statistics Bureau estimate". Statistics Bureau. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  3. Inman, James (21 January 2011). "China confirmed as World's Second Largest Economy". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  4. "Human Development Report 2010". UN. 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
  5. Japan Internet Usage Stats & Telecommunications Reports, Retrieved from
  6. Executive Summary of Social Technographics® Mapping Participation In Activities Forms The Foundation Of A Social Strategy, Retrieved from on 18/03/2011
  7. Retrieved from
  8. Japanese cellphone users enjoy free mobile TV, 6 April 2006, Retrieved from
  9. Chart 4, Japan Mobile SNS Study 2010, Retrieved from
  10. 10.0 10.1 Apple iPhone is having success in Japan against local internet mobiles, 23 August 2008, Retrieved from:
  11. ADMA Digital Marketing Yearbook 2010, Retrieved from
  12. Google Android Leads Acceleration in Smartphone Adoption in Japan, Retrieved from
  13. Apple's Fight in Japan, 15 January 2008, Retrieved from:
  14. Apple's iPhone 3GS is No. 1 in Japan, 17 August 2009, Retrieved from:
  15. Apple iPhone Captures 72% of Japan Smartphone Market,23 April 2010, Retrieved from:
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Interview with Louis Nonouchi, 1 March 2011, Retrieved from:
  17. Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, 2008, Retrieved from:
  18. [1], Wireless Watch Japan, Retrieved 9 Mar 2011
  19. [2] ,Japan's Mobile Market statistics
  20. Mobile Usage Stats for USA, Europe and Japan (Infographic), 21 January 2011, Retrieved from:
  21. nielsen Social Media in Japan: The Importance of Listening," Oct 15, 2010,
  22. The State of the Live Web, April 2007,
  23. Top 10 Blogging platforms in Japan, 20 May 2009,,
  24. 24.0 24.1 What Japan Thinks Blog, Retrieved 5 Mar 2011,
  25. Japanese Video Penetration, 1 April 2010, Retrieved from
  26. Global Online Population Forecast, 2009 To 2014, 17 August 2010, Retrieved from
  27. comScore Digital Video Market, 11 January 2011, Retrieved from
  28. Retrieved from
  29. Video Comments The Japanese Way (Nico Nico Douga), 22 June 2008, Retrieved from
  30. Yahoo to take 51% stake in GyaO, 9 April 2009, Retrieved from
  31. Japanese mobile video sharing sites data, 25 April 2008, Retrieved from
  32. Niccori Channel Viewer Adds Nico Nico Functionalities To YouTube, 1 March 2011, Retrieved from
  33. By the Numbers: Online Video Consumption in Asia, 1 November 2010, Retrieved from
  34. Top Search Engines in Japan by searches conducted in January 2009, 10 March 2009, Retrieved from
  35. Adobe acquires Omniture, Retrieved from
  36. About The Company, Retrieved from
  37. Press Release: NTT Communications Corp acquires Digital Forest, Retrieved from
  38. 38.0 38.1 ADMA Digital Marketing Yearbook 2010, Retrieved from
  39. Kakaku,
  40. 1 Million Users: Docomo’s New App/Content Market Is Growing Nicely, 17 February 2011, Retrieved from:
  41. Japan: Newspaper industry "relatively recession-proof" but dying, 27 October 2008, Retrieved from
  42. Despite industry problems, Japanese print readership remains high, 9 June 2010, Retrieved from
  43. Meet Japan’s ‘Brand Mooks’: Half-magazine, Half-book, All Hit, The Wall Street Journal, Retrieved, 10 March 2011 from:
  44. 2009 Advertising Expenditures in Japan, 2009, Retrieved from
  45. Japan: Advertising Expenditures, 23 February 2011, Retrieved from
  46. Japan’s Mobile Web Market Now Worth $17 billion, 2010, Retrieved from
  47. 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer Japan, 2011, Retrieved from
  48. Japanese Woman Arrested for Virtual-World 'Murder', 24 October 2008, retrieved from,2933,443767,00.html
  49. Internet Bullying, March 2010, retrieved from
  50. Hikikomori, March 2010, retrieved from
  51. Iowa State prof wins Nobel in chemistry (Chicago Tribune, October 5, 2011)
  52. Japan’s Prime Minister Launches English-Language Twitter Account for Quake Updates, Retrieved from
  53. Japan’s Prime Minister Launches English-Language Twitter Account for Quake Updates, Retrieved from
  54. Global Broadband Prices Revealed, Retrieved from
  55. 55.0 55.1 55.2 55.3 55.4 55.5 55.6 55.7 55.8 55.9 ADMA Yearbook 2011,
  56. Japan: Internet Regulation Up For Debate, But Nobody Is Debating, 13 July 2007, Retrieved from
  57. 57.0 57.1 Japan's Internet Filtering Initiatives, 1 Feb 2008, Retrieved from
  58. Mobile phone exam cheat shocks Japanese meritocracy, 4 March 2011, Retrieved from
  59. Internet Cheating Scandal Shakes Japan Universities, 1 March 2011, Retrieved from
  60. 10 Missed Opportunities in Search Engine Marketing in Japan, 21 July 2010, Retrieved from
  61. 5 Fresh Digital Media Trends to Watch, 4 March 2011, Retrieved from