Population 127m
Internet 86%
Trust in news 46%
(=6th out of 12)
Interest in news 66%
(8th out of 12)

There are five national terrestrial TV networks in Japan, amongst which NHK is publicly funded and runs national radio networks. Japan’s newspaper industry continues to buck trends with around 45 million copies still printed daily – delivering to more than 8 in 10 households. Print is still highly profitable, which means that the shift to digital is taking longer.

Smartphone penetration is growing, but is lower than in other developed countries – as older generations stick with feature phones and once dominant services like iMode.


TV, radio, print

Digital reach

Newspapers 32%
Broadcasters 30%
Pure players 66%


Cross-platform reach

Newspapers 70%
Broadcasters 77%


Traditional (offline) reach

Newspapers 63%
Broadcasters 74%

2014 was the year of mobile news apps. Downloaded by millions, they are taking readers from browser-based news aggregators like Yahoo! News – the dominant digital news service in Japan for more than a decade.

Smartnews, Gunosy, Newspics and Antenna grew significantly off the back of slick new interfaces that present news from multiple publishers. Aggregators of all sorts – including Yahoo, Google News and MSN – are the primary gateways to news content in Japan as newspapers have given away parts of their content in return for click-throughs.

Change is in the air though with print papers experiencing the largest drop ever in total circulation by 3.5%. Nikkei (Japan Economic Daily) is leading efforts to transition paying customers to digital, with 380,000 paying subscribers, and Asahi Shinbun has 160,000 – though the figures remain a tiny proportion of their print circulation.

Newspapers suffered a disturbing period editorially with Asahi Shimbun forced to retract stories on ‘Comfort Women’ in the Second World War and the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Its conservative rivals lambasted Asahi, while media critics deplored both camps.

Apple devices vs the rest (news usage)

Top social networks*

* Use weekly for news

Low online participation reflects Japanese people’s overall reluctance to speak about politics and social issues publicly. They also prefer anonymity online, with research1 showing more than 75% of respondents have a Twitter account without their real name while in other five countries (US, UK, France, South Korea, Singapore) the proportion is 31–45%. This could explain the lower popularity of Facebook in Japan.


  1. Japanese government: Research and Study into the Impact on the Society Made by the Progress of the ICT, Mar. 2014. http://www.soumu.go.jp/johotsusintokei/whitepaper/ja/h26/html/nc143120.html (Japanese language).