China’s biggest search engine, Baidu, has announced that it will launch in Japan early next year.

China has an estimated 125 million internet users, and Baidu.com currently has a 62% share of the Chinese search engine market, up 15% from 2005. Google has the second largest share on 25%, falling 8% since last year.

Baidu chairman Robin Li announced the move on the company’s website:

“We believe that our proven strength in non-English language search, the high Internet penetration in Japan, as well as similarities between the Chinese and Japanese languages make this market an ideal next step for Baidu.”

While Baidu performs the same functions as Google, it differs in its approach to paid search marketing. For some search terms, Baidu ranks results according to the amount paid by its advertisers.

Baidu has countered the threat posed by Google in China partly by playing on nationalism, casting Google as the outsider. It currently ranks as the fourth largest website by traffic, according to Alexa.

According to US government statistics, Japan has 86.3 million internet users.

Further Reading:

WPP’s Martin Sorrell on Google, China and the internet