Student Voices: Why is Online Business Underdeveloped in Japan?

The Internet is a tool that has an extreme impact in our world today. It is a form of communication, social networks, education, information exchange, business and entertainment. Its role and importance are so large that our generation has been dubbed the “information age” with the Internet at its core. In the United States the Internet provides users with movies, books, and music—many kinds of copyrighted material. However, why is this developing so slowly in Japan?

Japan is one of the world’s leaders in technological innovation and Internet penetration. However, due to strict copyright rules, TV stations, studios and companies are very reluctant to release information on the Internet. Another issue is that Japanese copyright law still does not have a clear set definition or protection for the use of copyrighted materials on the Internet and Internet use is not often included in the ways that content can be used. Japan is still struggling to see the Internet as a business model and is struggling regarding Internet regulation.

An example of this would be Amazon, an online retailer of books, movies, and electronics. Amazon in Japan sells DVDs of movies and CDs of music. On the other hand, business is booming for Amazon in the United States with the latest technology: everything available on Japanese Amazon is available on US Amazon but it is all downloadable. Therefore, we do not need physical books, CDs or DVDs. Everything that we download can be ready to be read, heard or seen with the click of a button and will be available on our electronic devices immediately—whether it be an iPad, a smartphone, or any other mobile device. Since Amazon does not receive licenses from broadcast companies in Japan, it has to divide their business models for business in Japan and business in the United States.

Internet technology is lagging in Japan and causes restraints in trade. I strongly believe that Japan has to change their system if they want to continue to compete with the world technologically. I realize that there is a controversy between the Internet and the use of copyrighted material but the lagging of information may also lead to the lagging of the society in general. Technology and the Internet is such a vital role in the world today it may not keep up to date with other countries which may cost us a lot more in the long run.