First is the Japanese electronics industry itself. Facing infiltration by new and less expensive gadgets from the likes of Apple and Amazon, as well as the large bank roll of South Korean competitor Samsung Electronics Co., many Japanese companies have focused on improving existing devices, and less so on creating something new, so innovation like the iPad makes a big splash.
Another factor, Wakabayashi notes, is the sheer pleasure of owning a name-brand device. In Japan (and so many other parts of the world), Apple products are fun to own and show off. College student Kazuto Ishimura told the Journal, "Japanese products are very capable and powerful, but they don't have the same charm as ones made by Apple." Note that Ishimura conducted his interview while waiting in line outside that Ginza Apple Store.
There's more to Wakabayashi's article, and we suggest reading the whole thing. In the meantime, we anticipate sales reports from Japan and elsewhere as the iPad goes on sale internationally throughout the day today.