I did a similar estimation for Japan, though with a smaller amount of Japanese surname data, and calculated that as of July 14 there were between 500,000 and 1 million Japanese Google+ users. The speed with which Japanese have been joining probably has something to do with that fact that Google+ had Japanese menus and help pages from the beginning (as well as for other major languages). Promotion movies even come with subtitles. This is in stark contrast to how Twitter and Facebook handled their move into Japan — Japanese had to wait enviously for years to get onto those social networks (though some Twitter users didn't care that Twitter had English menus). So will Google+ become a major social network alternative to Mixi (the most popular Japanese social network)?
In countries where Facebook is dominant — that is, most of the world — being familiar with the Facebook-type interface makes it easy to migrate to Google+, but it also reduces the need to migrate. In Japan, however, only around 3 percent of the population are using Facebook, so it is possible that Google+ could overtake Facebook's position as leader here.
Some Western tech bloggers are saying that Google+ is a more of a threat to Twitter than it is to Facebook because if you set your posts to "Public," Google+ resembles a better version of Twitter. That is, images and movies are well-integrated and there is no 140-letter limit to what you can write. The risk to Twitter may be an issue where users are used to the Facebook-style interface and would like to see Twitter-style steams expanded. But in Japan's case, Twitter is already in a better position than Facebook.
Google is also not the most popular Web service here, with more people instead using Yahoo! for searches and Yahoo! Mail rather than Gmail. (Though, ironically, Yahoo! Japan uses a Google backend for its search engine.)
After the introduction of Google+, the topic of using your "real name" in a social network also heated up again. When Japanese people with a Google Profile (created when joining Gmail, Google Docs or other service), signed up with Google+ they found that the name they chose in setting up their profile was now their user name, even if they wanted to use something else for the social network. If they then tried to change their name, for example, from the roman alphabet to kanji (so they can be found by potential friends), an obvious pseudonym or an odd name combination, they were reportedly locked out. As was mentioned on blogs and on Twitter, being banned from Facebook only shuts you out of Facebook but being banned from a Google account may affect your work if you use Gmail and Google's other services.
Because it has only been operating for three weeks, it is not easy to predict whether Google+ will be as big as Mixi and Twitter are in Japan. But it's definitely a better start than Google Wave, the company's last and failed social networking attempt. Another advantage Google has is that unlike in America and Europe, Facebook is an easy target. Facebook Japan may not be feeling so safe right now. (Akky Akimoto for JapanTimes)