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Fujitsu Releases 4th Japan Internet User Survey

Going online is a daily event for more than three-fourths of Internet users in Japan, reveals a recent Fujitsu Research Institute (FRI) survey.

With the Internet now an integral part of Japanese lifestyles, a growing number of users are eager to try out "daily life-related" Web sites and services, such as online shopping, online banking, and health care advice.

On June 8, FRI released the results of its 4th survey of Japanese Internet usage. This e-mail survey was sent on March 1 to a sample of 1,500 users selected from Fujitsu's 160,000-member iMiNet (Interactive Marketing Interface Network) service.

FRI received valid responses from 81 percent of those sampled (1,218 persons) by its March 8 deadline. Almost 35 percent of respondents to FRI's 4th survey were women, up from 28 percent in the 2nd survey one year earlier.

The results of the survey suggest strongly that Japanese users have rising expectations about the Internet's potential role as a "lifestyle enhancement" tool.

Regarding frequency of use, more than half (56 percent) of the survey respondents said they access the Web two or more times per day, while 20 percnet percent said they access daily.

"With daily access by home users now the mainstream," said FRI in its report, "the Internet can be considered to have become an integral part of daily life. Far more than being merely an information gathering or entertainment tool, there is growing expectation that Internet-based services can add a measure of convenience to daily life."

The FRI survey clearly shows that one such service, online shopping, is quickly growing in popularity in Japan. Sixty percent of survey respondents said they had shopped online, up from 48 percent one year earlier, while an another 24 percent said they intend to do so.

A majority of those who had shopped online had done so more than once: 18 percent said they had made four or more online purchases during the previous six months, while 35 percent said they had made two or three online purchases.

The items most frequently bought online were books/magazines, computer software and hardware, food items, digital data, and hotel/travel reservations. When asked what items they expected to purchase online in the near future, more than half of respondents mentioned books/magazines and hotel/travel reservations.

The survey found that participation in other "daily life-related" online services by Japanese has been low so far, but interest is high.

Just 11 percent of respondents said they had registered for or participated in an online auction, 10 percent had contacted an online real estate agent, 9 percent had used online banking, 4 percent had accessed an auto dealer Web site, and 4 percent had consulted about health care.

"However, the number of persons intending to use such services in the future is quite high," said FRI. "For example, 53.5 percent said they want to try online health-care consultation, and 44.5 percent answered that they intend to use online banking services."

There is also significant interest among Japanese users (70 percent) in getting government services online.

"The prompt implementation of convenient 'daily life' online services," said FRI, "will be a key factor in the continued growth of the Internet."

Fujitsu Research Institute, established in 1986 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fujitsu Ltd., provides economic research and management consulting services.FRI's first biannual survey in September 1997 looked at the patterns of Japanese Internet usage, while its second survey in March 1998 focused on the use of online shopping and search engine/directory services.