Although Japan was slow to reform its telecommunications industry so as to facilitate widespread Internet access, Japanese is now the third most widely used language on the Net after English and Chinese. In 1998 the number of characters used on Japan's 18 million Web sites was already in excess of the total number of printed characters in all Japanese newspapers and magazines published in a year.2 However, unlike English, Japanese is not an internationallanguage3 and, as Gottlieb points out, the difficulty of learning to read Japanese for non-Japanese means that, "in the case of the Japanese script, geographical location remains very much a predictor of social practice and preference."4 Despite the potentially "global" reach of the Internet, material written in Japanese is generally accessible only to Japanese people themselves, and so far practically no research exists in English on the ways the Internet is being used in Japan. This essay looks at two "queer" uses of the Internet by two very different Japanese subcultures and suggests ways that the use of the Internet in Japan troubles the rhetoric of globalization that has so far characterized much research on Internet use in Western societies.
ANZSRC / FoR Code
2002 CULTURAL STUDIES