Amazon Web Services opens in Japan, not China

Amazon Web Services opens a Tokyo Region, its second in Asia and fifth region overall, to bring it closer to Japanese customers physically, legally and culturally.

Amazon Web Services announced Wednesday that it opened a Tokyo Region, its second in Asia and fifth region overall, to bring it closer to Japanese customers physically, legally and culturally.

AWS opened Asia-Pacific Region based in Singapore in April that serves Japanese customers, but the separation, by miles and jurisdiction, made it impractical or forbidden for Japan. In his AWS blog, Jeff Barr, Amazon's Senior Web Services Evangelist, said the Tokyo region was a response to Japanese customers who told him they needed a Japan-based offering.

Over the years I have learned that there's really no substitute for sitting down, face to face, with customers and potential customers. You can learn things in a single meeting that might not be obvious after a dozen emails. You can also get a sense for the environment in which they (and their users or customers) have to operate. For example, developers in Japan have told me that latency and in-country data storage are of great importance to them.

Why would Amazon launch a Tokyo offering before other thriving tech markets like Beijing or Seoul? Clues in the announcement from Amazon and Barr's blog indicate Amazon is going where the customers are.

Anyone who knows anything about doing business in Japan understands the level of customer service demanded by the culture. Barr's blog details the Japan-specific customizations and customer services offerings AWS built to support the Tokyo region and meet the cultural requirement:

This offering goes beyond the services themselves. We also have the following resources available:

Put it all together and developers in Japan can now build applications that respond very quickly and that store data within the country.

In addition, AWS plans to provide in the coming months the option for billing in Japanese Yen, according to WebProNews.

Barr also listed 11 open positions to support the Tokyo operation.

But AWS wouldn't be chasing the Japanese customer service ideal if the customer bases wasn't already there to support it.

The announcement from Amazon included detailed six notable companies using AWS to operate including Zynga, the online social game developer, and SUUMO, a Japanese real-estate information service.

AWS broke Tokyo off from its Asia-Pacific region because the customs and laws of the country demanded it, and the customer base is already there to support a country-specific offering. It may also be a proving ground for China, where the state, if not the culture, may require a unique service offering.

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