World Media 2007: Japan

The second-largest market in the world is inching its way out of recession. But the arrival of a new prime minister and an heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne will not solve all its problems.

Japan was the economic miracle of the late 20th century, growing to become the second-largest economy in the world by the 80s. But the boom times were followed by a period of recession and deflation that is only just coming to an end. The original tiger economy has been overshadowed by the recent economic expansion of other Asian states such as India and China.

But these are more positive times for the Land of the Rising Sun. A new prime minister, Shinzo Abe of the Liberal Democratic Party, took office in September 2006. At 52, he is the country's youngest leader since the Second World War. He inherited a still sluggish economy, with 2007 growth forecast to be 1.7 per cent, and has warned the Japanese not to expect a rapid return to post-war levels of growth, although he does believe long-term economic recovery is achievable.

Abe's arrival coincided with the news in early September that a baby boy had been born to the Japanese imperial family for the first time in more than 40 years, avoiding the need to allow women to inherit the throne.

Japan is a country of contrasts: the traditional existing alongside the latest technological developments. What other country would come up with the QR code? This is a centimetre-square patch of lines attached to a product or ad that can be photographed by a mobile phone camera. The code contained in the lines connects the phone to the manufacturer or advertiser's website.

Japan's broadcasting landscape is sophisticated and colourful. Pioneers of reality TV, the Japanese are also at the forefront of the switch to high- definition technology, with an NHK channel dedicated to HDTV.

Internet penetration is high, at around 67 per cent. The social networking site MySpace recently launched a Japanese version in a joint venture between News Corporation and the internet company Softbank. However, the entrepreneur and one-time internet sensation Takafumi Horie is currently at a nadir as he answers questions about alleged fraud.

The Japanese new-generation computer games market had a shake-up in the second half of 2006, as the home-grown brands Nintendo and Sony took on Microsoft. The much-anticipated Sony Playstation 3 finally launched in Japan and the US in September. Sales at home were disappointing and Sony's games division posted losses. Sales of Nintendo's Wii, however, were strong, leading the company to forecast a doubling in annual profits.

USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1 =
Yen 110.2 *Estimated
Total Newspapers Magazines TV Radio Outdoor Online
2000 41,605 11,317 3,964 18,865 1,879 5,044 535
2001 40,912 10,912 3,792 18,763 1,813 4,965 667
2002 38,129 9,714 3,675 17,557 1,667 4,750 767
2003 38,098 9,526 3,661 17,674 1,639 4,525 1,073
2004 39,580 9,580 3,602 18,541 1,629 4,583 1,646
2005 40,280 9,415 3,579 18,518 1,613 4,607 2,548
2006 41,216 9,411 3,593 18,527 1,600 4,609 3,476
2007* 42,260 9,374 3,580 18,639 1,587 4,686 4,394
2008* 43,041 9,327 3,555 18,698 1,574 4,663 5,224
2009* 43,712 9,260 3,525 18,743 1,559 4,645 5,980

Adspend notes 1) Includes production costs. 2) Includes classified
advertising. 3) Includes agency commission at an average 17.5 per cent.
4) After discounts. 5) Internet includes banners, text, mailing service
e-mail, direct e-mailing, sponsorship and tie-ups, interstitials, rich
media, research questionnaires, key-word searching and SEM; excludes
production costs.

Newspaper: Yomiuri Shinbun (daily, 10,033,000 copies)
Business magazine: Nikkei Business (monthly, 331,000 copies)
Consumer magazine: Kyo no Ryori (monthly, 857,000 copies)
Most-watched TV programme: Fifa World Cup 2006 - Japan versus North
Best new TV format: SMAP x SMAP - a comedy format
Circulation: Japan Audit Bureau of Circulations
Readership: NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute
TV viewing: Video Research
Newspapers: Asahi Shimbun
Magazines: Benesse Corporation
TV: NHK (public), NTV, Fuji, TBS


- Media topic du jour

Blogging and social networking sites are the hot topics in Japan. In September, the Japanese equivalent of MySpace, Mixi, floated for $2 billion on Tokyo's stock exchange.

- Reigning media guru and why

According to Forbes, the software entrepreneur Masayoshi Son is worth $7 billion. The chief executive of venture capital company Softbank Capital, Son has a controlling interest in Yahoo! Japan.

- Media mogul to be seen dining with and why

Rupert Murdoch is making further moves on the local scene, most recently in a deal for the Japanese version of MySpace.

- Car to drive: K car (comes with tax and insurance breaks).

- Phone to carry: Sharp AQUOS 905SH.

- Whatever you do, don't say: Doing good business with the Hills-zoku? (The once-glamorous crowd, surrounded in corporate scandal in 2006.)


BWA's Adidas global +10 campaign around the football World Cup, with media through Carat. Tokyo commuters could point their mobile phones at a series of trackside posters featuring sponsored players and download information about the footballer and the +10 campaign.