Apple Japan President Says iTMS Japan is Set to Launch

The iTunes Music Store (iTMS) is coming to Japan, according to Yoshiaki Sakito, president of Apple Japan. Japanese newspaper Mainichi Daily News reported Wednesday that Mr. Sakito had announced that Apple Japan was set to open a Japanese version of the iTMS, though no time table was offered.

Japan is one of the worldis largest music markets, and the largest market where Apple is not yet operating an iTMS. There have been few other legal online music download operations in Japan either, in part because of the strong corporate control over the Japanese music industry.

Those corporations, including Sony and other mega-corps, have been loathe to venture into legal downloads because of the fear they will lose control over their CD businesses. Copy controlled CDs are far more prevalent in Japan than even the paranoid American music market, where there has been some resistance to copy controls because many consumers want to manage their music from their computers.

So far, only Label Gate, a consortium of major Japanese labels, and a CD production company called Avex, have launched or announced online music services in Japan. That leaves Apple with a major opportunity, should it be able to duplicate the success of the American and European iTunes Music Stores in that country.

The iPod is already a hot seller in Japan, but sales could explode with the addition of the iPod-only iTunes Music Store in the market.

The Mainichi Daily News story did not offer additional information regarding Yoshiaki Sakitois comments, but does offer more background information on the Japanese music industry.