The Digital Galapagos
Japan’s Digital Media and Digital Content Economy
For over two decades, Japan has been a leading nation in the development of the digital economy. The country’s business development in mobile computing, video games and animation led the world. While this prominent role continues, the country has struggled with a “digital island” reality in three areas: the wireless industry, which tried but failed to expand globally; an active but Japan-focused digital content sector; and digital services, which have not expanded as expected to non-Japanese markets. This article examines the evolution of Japan’s digital media and digital content sector which has created significant global interest but less business development than expected. The article argues that Japan’s “Galapagos” reality reflects the inherently (but not exclusively) culture and language-specific characteristics of the digital content economy and the country’s largely inward-looking culture industries.