According to a story in the bulletin of the Nihon Shinbun Kyokai (The Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association), few Japanese online publications are charging for content or have had success doing that.
For instance, Asahi Shimbum on March 3rd began charging for access to a subsection of its Web site but has gained only 2,000 subscriptions. That might seem like a lot to U.S. online publishers, but remember that Asahi Shimbum‘s daily print circulation is 12.5 million! Moreover, that subsection has 230,000 registered users. So, Asahi Shimbum‘s paid online access conversion rate for that subsection after two months is only 16/1000th of its print circulation and less than one percent of unique users. Despite Asahi Shimbum‘s premier brand name marketing muscle within its home market, its results at this are are no better than any other online newspaper in any other country.