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Faces & Markets of PRGN: Tokyo, Japan – Premier Destination for Business

The information in this post originally appeared on Public Relations Global Network’s blog.

We are pleased to share the first in a series of in-depth profiles of a key international market written by one of our PRGN partners.

Faces and Markets of PRGN is a new series of blog posts in 2024 that puts Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) member agencies and their markets in the spotlight.

In this first blog post in the series, Judy Kuramata of Integrate Communications describes the business and communications environment in Tokyo, Japan and offers advice on navigating her home market.

Business environment in Tokyo and Japan

Beyond business, Tokyo’s cultural influence resonates globally, contributing to a thriving creative industry. Commitment to a high quality of life, safety, healthcare, and education establishes an ideal environment for businesses and residents alike. The tourism sector significantly boosts the economy, with millions of international visitors supporting hospitality, retail, and entertainment sectors.

Tokyo’s government actively fosters a business-friendly environment through supportive policies, promoting entrepreneurship, innovation, and foreign investment. Strategically located as a gateway to Asia, Tokyo’s international airports and global connectivity further enhance its appeal for businesses seeking to establish a foothold in the region.

In essence, Tokyo and Japan provide a unique blend of financial strength, technological leadership, cultural richness, consumer appeal, efficient infrastructure, and government support—making both Tokyo and Japan premier destinations for businesses navigating the dynamic landscape of the Asia-Pacific region.

Economy in Japan looks blunt these days, but it is due to currency fluctuations.  Local economy is not as bad as it may look based on just the indicators.

Communications, media and PR market in Tokyo and Japan

Japan is a monolingual country; all communication is conducted in Japanese, and especially in business communication it must be good quality Japanese.

Effectively navigating Japan’s communications and PR landscape demands a nuanced approach. Despite a tech-savvy environment, traditional media remains highly influential, underscoring the need for integrated strategies. Notably, the absence of fake news in traditional media reinforces the importance of authenticity, a core value for the Japanese audience. Crafting culturally sensitive narratives is imperative, with a keen focus on linguistic nuances.

Japanese society places a premium on authenticity, necessitating PR strategies that align with collective values, emphasizing trust and fostering long-term relationships. Given the diverse media consumption habits shaped by a rich cultural tapestry, businesses must deploy varied content formats. In this collective-oriented society, engaging with key opinion leaders and influencers holds significant sway.

Adherence to social norms and etiquette is paramount, especially in a crisis. Swift and culturally attuned responses are crucial for effective crisis management. Understanding Japan’s unique media landscape, where traditional platforms like print and TV coexist with digital trends, is pivotal. Businesses aspiring to establish a meaningful and enduring presence in this dynamic market must tailor their strategies to resonate with the intricate nuances of Japanese culture and media preferences.

Key expertise of Integrate Communications

We have branding, B2B and corporate PR as major expertise in tech, automobile and food industries.  We support hotels from very early stage of pre-opening, which requires high level of knowledge and experiences. We are one of very few agencies to offer this service.

We also support clients who are entering the Japanese market to help them navigate the local protocols and habits they should know.

Top 3 advice for a foreign company to navigate the media and communications environment in Japan

1. Cultural Insight is Crucial: Place a premium on profound cultural understanding. Effective communication hinges on respect and cultural sensitivity. Tailor content to align seamlessly with Japanese values, traditions, and social norms. Engage local experts to navigate nuances, ensuring messages resonate positively and sidestep unintended cultural misunderstandings.

2. Forge Robust Relationships: Building trust is foundational in Japan. Invest time in cultivating relationships with key stakeholders, media figures, and influencers. Face-to-face interactions, formal introductions, and participation in networking events significantly contribute to credibility. Establishing long-term partnerships and cultivating a network of trusted connections are essential elements for achieving success.

3. Integrate Traditional and Digital Approaches: Japan appreciates a balanced blend of traditional and digital media. While online platforms wield influence, traditional media such as newspapers and television maintain substantial power. Develop an integrated communication strategy that capitalizes on both realms, ensuring a comprehensive and well-rounded approach to engage a diverse audience. Stay attuned to Japan’s evolving digital landscape, adapting strategies accordingly for sustained relevance.

Most influential media for consumer communication in Japan

In Japan, traditional media maintains considerable strength, exemplified by entities like NHK (national broadcasting), Nikkei Newspaper, and Asahi Newspapers. Notably, Japan stands as a leading country with a significant number of publications across diverse categories, boasting approximately 4,000 media titles in 2018. However, there has been a decline in this number by about 70% in 2020. The media landscape in Japan is characterized by a rich diversity of specialized outlets, both in print and online formats.

And an important note to foreign companies entering the market: very few English media titles exist in Japan.

Most influential media for corporate communications in Japan

Traditional media plays a formidable role in corporate communications in Japan, exemplified by Nikkei Newspaper, boasting 1.6 million in print and 3 million online subscribers. The publication holds a substantial presence, reflecting the enduring strength of traditional outlets in the corporate sphere. 

Additionally, diverse business magazines contribute significantly to comprehensive industry coverage. 

Prominent publications like Nikkei Business, Weekly Diamond, and Toyo Keizai, available in both print and online formats, collectively encompass 65% of the business media landscape. This underscores the continued influence and reach of traditional media channels in the realm of corporate communications in Japan.

Most popular social media channels in Japan

  • LINE is used 92.5% of total population which means there are 97 million people using the platform. It is similar to Messenger or WhatsApp  and offers various apps to communicate.  Companies use LINE for mainly B2C communications. For more, see LINE|always at your side
  • YouTube: 72 million users
  • X: 45 million users
  • Instagram: 33 million users
  • Facebook: 26 million users
  • TikTok: 9.5 million users
  • LinkedIn: Very few users, only 2.5% of Japan’s population uses LinkedIn. One of the reasons is, its communications style does not fit the Japanese culture and preference.

Most important international events in Japan in 2024

There are no major international events planned in 2024, however the biggest day in Japan is new years’ day, January 1st in every year. January 1-3 most companies, schools and shops are closed.  At new year’s period, all people become Shinto believers to pray for peace and their wishes. It’s also the best day to explore Japan for a foreigner.

For more statistics on Japan and to download the author’s  full bio and market report, click here.

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