Japan’s attempts to enter the world of electronic sports in the past have failed for many reasons, the largest of which is said to be strict laws.
Three Japanese esports organisations have joined forces as a single cohesive unit known as Japan Esports Union, or JESU. Esports has long been a mainstream source of entertainment in nearby countries such as China and South Korea, but it has struggled to thrive in Japan (for a number of complicated reasons explained briefly here). JESU hopes to change this.
Hideki Okamura, the Representative Director of JESU and Executive Vice President of Sega Sammy Holdings, had this to say about the new venture: “The global audience for esports is set to reach 300 million people by 2019, and 500 million by 2020. That is no different from real-life sports. Esports is mainly popular in Asia and in the U.S., and there is also hope in Japan to popularize esports. We will look to promote the industry and raise esports’ social status in Japan.”
JESU is the combination of Japan e-Sports Association, eSports Promotion Organization, and Japan eSports Federation. The new organisation has taken it upon themselves to promote and supplement the growth of esports and competitive gaming in its home country.
One reason Japan is behind in terms of the popularity of esports is its restrictive laws. There’s a cap on cash prizes available for tournaments under the “Act against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations” act, meaning the total prize pot can only be a maximum of 100,000 yen (£640).
JESU is looking to issue licenses for professional gamers to bypass the aforementioned obstacle. Should this come into fruition, the organisation hopes it will allow tournaments to increase the prize pool to further entice potential competitors.