The Huffington Post is to launch a Japanese-language site in partnership with Asahi Shimbun, a leading Japanese daily, the two companies announced today. According to a press release, Huffington Post Japan is currently recruiting a veteran editor-in-chief and editorial team in preparation for its launch, but a date was not given.
"I'm delighted to welcome Japan to the HuffPost family," said Arianna Huffington, quoted in the press release. "As our first edition in Asia, HuffPost Japan is more than just one more step toward our goal of expanding to new countries and continents; it's a reflection of our commitment to inviting ever more voices to join our growing global conversation. Partnering with the Asahi Shimbun Company, with its local expertise and grasp of Japan's history, culture, and unique personality, we'll be telling the stories that matter most both to those who live in Japan and those who care deeply about Japan -- and just as important, helping the people of Japan tell their stories themselves."
As the release notes, Asahi Shimbun is one of the largest papers in the world, with a daily circulation of 8 million copies for the morning edition and 3.4 million for the evening edition, with reporting in English, Chinese and Korean as well as Japanese.
The Huffington Post launched its first international edition in Canada in May 2011, closely followed by a UK edition in July 2011, then French, Spanish and Italian. As in Japan, in France, Italy and Spain, the company chose to partner with respected national papers, presumably to help the site integrate into a new language environment (Le Monde, La Repubblica and El Pais, respectively). In July, Le Huffington Post was France’s most-read online-only news source.
Women editors run all of the European HuffPost sites: Carla Buzasi in the UK, Anne Sinclair in France, Lucia Annunziata in Italy and Montserrat Domínguez in Spain. It is not clear whether or not this is a coincidence, or an effort to echo the feminine leadership provided by Huffington in the US.
The Huffington Post now has 40,000 bloggers worldwide, and about 49.6 million unique visitors a month according to US comScore metrics. Will it manage to attract a significant number of both contributors and readers in Japan, which is a very different news media market to those it is already tackling?