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SOME FACTS

JAPANESE: a language of Japan
SIL code: JPN
ISO 639-1: ja
ISO 639-2: jpn

Population 121,050,000 in Japan (1985). Population total all countries 125,000,000 first language speakers (1999 WA); 126,000,000 including second language speakers (1999 WA).

Region Throughout the country. Also spoken in 26 other countries including American Samoa, Argentina, Australia, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, Germany, Guam, Mexico, Micronesia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines.

Dialects WESTERN JAPANESE, EASTERN JAPANESE.

Classification Japanese, Japanese.

Comments Possibly related to Korean. The Kagoshima dialect is 84% cognate with Tokyo dialect. National language. Grammar. SOV; postpositions; demonstrative, numeral, adjective, possessive, relative clause, proper noun precede noun head; adverb precedes verb; sentence final question particle; CV. Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji (Chinese character) writing systems. Buddhist, Shintoist. Bible 1883-1987.

Also spoken in:

Taiwan Language name JAPANESE
Population 10,000 in Taiwan (1993).
Comments Used among a few elderly aboriginal speakers and some Chinese as second language. Trade language. Bible 1883-1987.

Background: While retaining its time-honored culture, Japan rapidly absorbed Western technology during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. After its devastating defeat in World War II, Japan recovered to become the second most powerful economy in the world and a staunch ally of the US.

Economy - overview: Government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small defense allocation (1% of GDP) have helped Japan advance with extraordinary rapidity to the rank of second most technologically powerful economy in the world after the US and third largest economy in the world after the US and China. One notable characteristic of the economy is the working together of manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors in closely knit groups called keiretsu. A second basic feature has been the guarantee of lifetime employment for a substantial portion of the urban labor force. Both features are now eroding. Industry, the most important sector of the economy, is heavily dependent on imported raw materials and fuels. The much smaller agricultural sector is highly subsidized and protected, with crop yields among the highest in the world... In 1999 output started to stabilize as emergency government spending began to take hold and business confidence gradually improved. The crowding of habitable land area and the aging of the population are two major long-run problems. Robotics constitutes a key long-term economic strength, with Japan possessing 410,000 of the world's 720,000 "working robots". (from "The World Factbook", CIA).

GDP: purchasing power parity - $2.95 trillion (1999 est.) GDP - real growth rate: 0.3% (1999 est.) GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $23,400 (1999 est.) Population: 126.5 M (est. July, 2000) Econonic composition by sector: agriculture: 2% industry: 35% services: 63% (1999 est.)

Industries: among world's largest and technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, electronic equipment, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemicals; textiles, processed foods

For companies buying from Japan, following are the industries that are most exported: motor vehicles, semiconductors, office machinery, chemicals.

For companies wanting to sell to Japan, following are the industries that are most imported into Japan: fuels, foodstuffs, chemicals, textiles, office machinery.

The Japanese IT revolution is being propelled by a range of mobile devices, including car-navigation systems, palm-held devices and toys like Sony's PlayStation2. The country is a world leader in the application of wireless application protocol (WAP) devices. Convenience store chains are leveraging their nationwide networks to become leaders in Internet commerce. E-commerce is having a deep impact on Japan's financial industry, as banks, securities companies and insurers seek new ways of doing business in an increasingly deregulated and competitive environment.

The Internet in Japan:

Japan offers both fixed and mobile access to the Internet. There are 38.6 M Internet users in Japan, according Nielsen NetRatings (http://www.netratings.co.jp/US/monthly_Usage.htm, Nov., 2000). NTT DoCoMo launched i-Mode on February 1999 as a limited 9.6 Kbps mobile internet service. The explosive adoption of the service - over 18 million subscribers by January 2001 - converted NTT DoCoMo into the world's largest mobile ISP and foremost authority on how to run a mobile internet service.

Japanese e-commerce by the numbers:

Honda attributes sales of some 6,000 of its S2000 sports car to direct e-mail marketing, for revenue exceeding U.S. $208 million between April 1999 and April 2000
Apparel dynamo Fast Retailing expects to achieve sales of U.S. $13 million in its first five months online
Publishing giant Recruit forecasts sales of about U.S. $174 million from its ISIZE operations in the year through March 2001
Computer products retailer Sofmap sold about U.S. $10.4 million online in December 2000
Consumer electronics retailer Murauchi and computer products retailer LAOX each expect online revenues of more than U.S. $17 million in the year through March 2000 (through March 2001)
Video rental/retailer Tsutaya foresees sales of U.S. $6.1 million for the year through March 2001
Credit card is top online payment mechanism (report from JIR):
The credit card is now the most popular online payment mechanism for business-to-consumer online commerce in Japan.

A recent study by Nikkei (sample size = 15,573) found the credit card to be the most-preferred payment mechanism among those with online shopping experience.

This result is substantiated by The Web Connection's own Japanese survey completed earlier in Feb., 2001 (sample size = 17,531), who had exactly the same results as Nikkei in terms of the next three most popular payment mechanisms, which, together with credit cards, account for more than 97% of all b-to-c online payments. These alternate payment methods are as follows (in descending order of popularity:

1. Electronic (offline bank or postal savings funds transfer 2. COD (cash on delivery) 3. Convenience store settlement (offline

The survey found that less than 1% of respondents used prepaid cards or other electronic payment mechanisms. The Nikkei study phrased its response somewhat differently, but found that only 1.1% of respondents used ISP-sponsored electronic settlement mechanisms (such as So-net's "Smash" service).

It is worth noting that in spite of all the hoopla about convenience store commerce, fewer than one in 14 respondents with Internet shopping experience have actually settled transactions through convenience stores, while nearly one in three have made purchases online using credit cards. Moreover, the average value of convenience store transactions initiated online is extremely low compared to credit cards, with the lion's share of transactions worth 5,000 yen or less. My guess is that convenience store settlements account for far less than one percent of the total value of business-to-consumer online commerce in Japan.

JIR has commented for almost three years about how the credit card will emerge as the predominant online payment scheme here in Japan, and now research results support this view. See "Credit cards rule Japan's online payment sector".

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