The Huffington Post has continued to expand into new territories by launching a Japanese edition in partnership with daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun – the second largest in the country.
With a daily print readership of more than 7 million, Asahi Shimbun hopes to combine such leverage with the Huffington Post's brand and model to take advantage of a time when some of the Japanese public are said to have "lost faith" in traditional media.
"Over the last couple of years with the different scandals they've had politically and with the nuclear disaster, people have lost faith in a lot of the traditional news channels and politicians," Jimmy Maymann, chief executive of the Huffington Post, told Journalism.co.uk. "It feels like a time when people really want to have a voice."
Maymann said the new site will give a generation who "want to be heard" a chance to be part of the conversation by offering a platform for participation.
Yoichi Nishimura, digital division director at Asahi Shimbun and representative director of HuffPost Japan, agreed. "We have been seeking an opportunity to establish a new type of constructive online opinion forum," Nishimura told Journalism.co.uk. "We think the Huffington Post is one of the leading companies in the world that operates it successfully."
Editorially, the partnership will be led by Shigeki Matsuura as editor-in-chief, who helped launch the Japanese edition of Wired and political blogging site BLOGOS as well as managing GREE News, part of mobile company GREE.
With almost 90 per cent of smartphone users accessing the internet on a daily basis in Japan, the mobile market is particularly important, said Maymann.
"It is really a mobile-first market, we talk about it in a lot of other markets but it's nothing compared to what it is there," he said. "So that's something we've had to take into account when we created and adapted the platform for the Japanese edition."
Maymann added that while print readership remains high, due to the over-50 demographic, the online readership for news organisations is relatively low at 7 or 8 million unique monthly visitors.
He said that "it's almost as if they have lost the readership" of people under 50. "There's a huge gap and that generation from 22 all the way up to almost 50 is quite experienced at using new technologies, accessing them via mobile and using the social features; so from that perspective it also feels like we have something that would potentially appeal to a broad audience."
As such, Nishimura is "convinced" that the partnership will be successful, hoping HuffPost Japan will reach 50 million unique monthly visitors.
"We believe that blogging and social media will let more and more people have voices and join the process of news reporting. We welcome such a change," he said.
Last week the Huffington Post announced it is to launch a German edition in conjunction with Tomorrow Focus AG. Other European editions include partnerships with Le Monde in France, El Pais in Spain and Gruppo Espresso in Italy.
The Huffington Post UK launched in July 2011 and was the first Huffington Post launch outside North America.
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