Owner and Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk wants Twitter to view Japan as a model for other markets instead of the U.S.
In an all-hands meeting on Monday, Musk said Japan’s strong usage of Twitter is what the platform should aim for “ideally in every country without exception,” according to The Verge.
“It may seem as though Twitter is U.S.-centric but if anything it’s Japan-centric,” Musk reportedly told employees. “There are roughly the same number of daily active users in Japan as there are in the U.S., despite the fact that Japan has one third of the population of the U.S.”
The reference came up after Musk suggested the company “somewhat decentralize things” by installing engineering teams in Japan, India, Indonesia and Brazil. After sacking nearly two-thirds of the company’s workforce, the new chief is reportedly hiring again.
Twitter’s popularity in Japan spiked in 2011 after the East Asian nation suffered the deadly Tohoku earthquake-tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster. At the time, the platform proved useful for acquiring real-time updates.
“People were using Twitter as a way to get instant information about the various crises, particularly because the crisis was so protracted and the recovery efforts took such a long period of time,” Jason Karlin, a media studies professor at the University of Tokyo, told Fortune.
Since then, Twitter has continued to serve the same purpose. Its Japanese popularity has also been attributed to the brevity it provides as a character-based writing system, as well as its acceptance of anonymity, which allows users to express themselves more freely.
“Japanese people tend to not feel comfortable expressing feelings or opinions in public,” Kiyo Yamauchi, former lead of user research at Twitter, told Bloomberg in 2019.
As of January 2022, the U.S. still remained Twitter’s largest market with 76.9 million users. Japan came in second place with 58.95 million, according to NHK World-Japan.
How Japanese Twitter evolves under Musk remains to be seen. While the mass layoffs reportedly affected some Japanese employees, the world’s richest man remains popular in the community, with some cheering his plan to suspend remote work at the company.