Market View

Media Insights

Japanese Media Characteristics

1. Most of the major media are headquartered in Tokyo

Japan is a small country, and media, politics and business are very centralized in Tokyo. However, if you want to reach a specific local area, it is best to use local media such as local papers and TV programs.

2. Ad-driven

Japan has the second largest advertisement expenditure, following the US, and Japanese media are highly ad-driven especially for consumer products such as foodstuffs, beverages, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and toiletries. It is very often required either barter for ad spends or advertorial tie-up articles.

3. Huge circulation of national daily newspapers

Although the circulation of daily newspapers is decreasing as a general trend, the major national dailies still have huge circulation from a global perspective. For example, the circulation of Yomiuri Shimbun is more than 10,000,000 daily, while USA Today has 1,800,000 and The Times has 500,000.

4. Nikkei's influence

Among the dailies, Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) has the largest circulation (3,000,000) in the world for a business daily (Wall Street Journal with 2,000,000). Along with papers and publications in the Nikkei stable, the Nikkei is so influential for business in Japan that many companies give them the top treatment in providing information.

5. TV's immediate impact is still significant

Media in Japan has been dramatically diversified in recent years, but TV still has a strong influence in people's daily life. It is extremely competitive to get covered by national TV programs and simple straightforward PR does not work in many cases. It is necessary to consider using (and sometimes combining) different approaches such as covering production costs, sponsoring programs, tie-ins and product placements.

6. Segmented and focused magazines

The impact of magazine media on consumers is declining with the drop in magazine readership because of the increasing diversity of media, economic downturn, and declining advertising spend. As online media replaces magazines in the role of supplying real time news, magazines are now seeking their “raison d'etre" by being more segmented and specialized.

7. Increasing importance of online PR, social media

Online media including social media are booming in Japan, just as they are around the world, but the dynamics of social media in Japan is different. Facebook is not as popular in Japan as western countries. LinkedIn has not arrived yet. Social media is mainly for personal use, and enterprises are still struggling how to utilize these new tools for business.

“Mode of life" of Japanese journalists/reporters

1. Japan-centric coverage

The main focus of business-related media in Japan is on domestic companies, with the exception of new services, products, and investment information provided by foreign companies that may have a relative impact on Japanese business or the economy. Foreign affiliated company news can offer valuable ideas to Japanese companies, but we need to localize the news to clearly show how it is of interest to Japanese companies.

2. The majority of news articles are anonymous

Most journalists/reporters in Japan belong to an editorial department of a specific media and write anonymous articles. There are only a limited number of “freelance" writers who sell their articles to media individually.

3. Journalists prefer face-to-face interviews/meetings

Japanese culture appreciates a formal but intimate communications style. Japanese journalists prefer a face-to-face interview or meeting to collect exclusive information and not many are accustomed to phone or e-mail interviews.

4. You must communicate in Japanese

The language barrier is still a significant hurdle to doing PR in Japan. Most journalists and reporters are able to understand English to some extent, but it is crucial to communicate with them in Japanese. For non-Japanese spokespersons, you need to use a professional interpreter to ensure communication is as smooth as possible.

5. Need to supply extra information to give reporters validity to write

Especially for influential major media, reporters will not write an article simply based on a press release. Nor will they write an article to support or promote a specific company or product. They need their own perspectives on a story, objective background information, exclusive comments from spokespersons, etc., to create their own story.