|Interest in news
(8th out of 10)
There are five national terrestrial TV networks, including publicly funded NHK, which also runs national radio networks. National newspapers sell in millions, circulations boosted by morning and evening editions. An increasing number charge for access to their websites. Japan was amongst the first to offer internet access via mobile (feature) phones, using walled-garden services like iMode – now being replaced by smartphones. A Japanese feature of digital terrestrial broadcasting, ‘1seg’ (One segment), has popularised watching of TV on the move via mobile phones and car navigation screens.
Yahoo News benefits from being part of a portfolio of popular services such as search, email, and auctions – as well as sports, weather, and music. Its biggest shareholder is not Yahoo USA but dynamic Japanese telecommunications provider SoftBank. In contrast, mainstream newspapers were slow to develop, only launching fully fledged online versions and paid services from 2010. The Nikkei business daily is the most successful example with over 300,000 premium subscribers. Left-leaning Asahi Shimbun launched a paywall in 2011 and conservative Yomiuri Shimbun also sells premium services to paper-based readers. Public service broadcaster NHK has been restricted in developing internet news services but does put its radio and TV output online. Commercial TV companies are also restricted as they are regionally licensed under current laws.
Social networks and digital participation
Japanese commercial TV broadcasters have used YouTube to distribute individual news items to get round their licensing constraints. Twitter became popular after the 2011 earthquake and the Fukushima accident as a reaction to perceived government control of information via traditional media. Mixi pioneered the social networking market in Japan while Line, co-developed between Japan and Korea, is popular on smartphones with the young.