As one of the most advanced economies in the world and the first industrialized country in Asia, Japan has a robust digital infrastructure that supports a thriving internet economy. Despite this, the adoption of social media and other internet tools has been slow in Japan. Prior to the pandemic, it was not uncommon to see many Japanese people still using these so-called “dumb phones” on the street.
However, by 2023, Japan has witnessed a marked increase in social media engagement, with approximately 81% of the population now active on various platforms. Although this reflects a significant shift, Japan still trails behind neighboring countries like South Korea, where the adoption rate stands at 91%. This lag is often attributed to Japan’s aging population, as under 5% of social media users are above the age of 65, a demographic that constitutes nearly 30% of the population.
Lately, there has been a noticeable trend of increasing internet adoption among the elderly in Japan, including the use of services such as social media and internet phone calls (such as Line call). A government survey has highlighted this trend, revealing that users in their 60s spend an average of 52.6 minutes on social media platforms, a time that is merely eight minutes less than what users in their 40s spend.
The pandemic has catalyzed a shift in business practices, with merchants increasingly migrating online to connect with customers, especially as concerns over transmission and physical restrictions hamper in-store sales. With a decline in foreign tourism, building relationships with local customers has become paramount. Luxury brands, for example, have become hot topics on social media, and those failing to join the conversation risk losing control over their public image.
In response, some of Japan’s luxury brands like Gucci, LVMH, and Prada have inaugurated official accounts on platforms like LINE, where they feature local celebrities and offer tailored information. Many also maintain regional profiles on both local and international social media platforms. Recent surveys, such as one conducted by McKinsey, reveal a growing trend of consumers researching and purchasing across channels, actively exploring online options. The intersection of digital convenience and consumer interest indicates a promising horizon for online engagement in Japan.
Given the latest survey available, in Japan there are about 101.9 million active social media users (Log in at least once in a month) in 2022. This is about 81.1 % of the addressable demographics. Also, Throughout 2021 to 2022, the number of users has grown 8.7 %.
LINE is the leading platform in Japan, it’s similar to WhatsApp and is increasingly positioning itself as a one-stop-shop for various services, or so-called super app. Although some younger users in Japan find LINE less attractive as it is often too family-heavy or company-heavy and packed with a bunch of irrelevant chat groups, it is still considered the most important platform in Japan.
Twitter and Instagram is significantly popular among teenagers and those in their 20s, with a usage rate of 67.4% and 78.6% respectively. Instagram has seen consistent growth since its the government began its survey in 2015 (Heisei 27), and for the first time, it has surpassed Twitter, becoming the second most popular platform. The younger generations, particularly those in their 20s, have shown a high usage rate for Instagram at 78.6%.
While Facebook’s usage has increased or remained stable in most age groups compared to the previous year, it shows the lowest utilization rate among teenagers. This trend may suggest that younger generations are gravitating towards other platforms, while Facebook continues to be favored by older demographics, particularly those aged 40 and above. Additionally, the adoption rate within these older age groups has been steadily rising over recent years.
TikTok, on the other hand, has experienced a noticeable surge in usage across all age brackets, especially among teenagers, where the adoption rate exceeds 60%. In terms of growth rate, we even see users aged between 40-60 almost doubling its adoption rate over the past year. Even though TikTok has not broadly launched its commerce feature in Japan, the platform is still cherished by merchants, thanks in part to its algorithms that favor viral content.
YouTube, on the other hand, continues to be the preferred video-sharing platform, with an exceptionally high usage rate of over 90% in all age groups except the 50s and 60s.
With the latest data published in January 2023, we can see that at the growth rate of 1.06%, there is now around 57.0 million Facebook users in Japan . With male users account for around 47.19% and female users account for around 52.81%.
With the latest data published in January 2023, we can see that at the growth rate of 1.13%, there is now around 49.1 million Instagram users in Japan . With male users account for around 45.64% and female users account for around 54.36%.
With the latest data published in January 2023, we can see that at the growth rate of 1.8%, there is now around 18.9 million TikTok users in Japan . With male users account for around 0.41 and female users account for around 0.59.
With the latest data published in January 2023, we can see that at the growth rate of 1.1x, there is now around 3.38 million LinkedIn users in Japan.