Apple will launch its iTunes Music Store in Japan this August, according to AFX News.

A brief report states that major Japanese label Avex has agreed to license songs to Apple's soon-to-launch iTunes Japan Music Store.

Avex is the first major Japanese label to agree terms with Apple for servicing songs through the service, the report observes.

AFX confirms a Reuters report last month which also posited an August launch. That report added news that Apple plans to challenge existing Japanese music download services by undercutting them on price.

Local label reluctance makes Japan iTunes lag

That report also claimed "most" major labels will be represented on the service, but said Sony remained reluctant to reach a deal.

A report in September 2004 pointed out that Japanese labels had been reluctant to allow Apple to carry their catalogues, because they were concerned that the service would impact against CD sales in the world's third-largest music-buying market.

Apple warned to focus on Japanese talent

Speaking in October 2004, Yankee Group analyst Mike Goodman warned that while Japan is a gadget-friendly market, "its citizens tend to adopt products made by domestic companies, such as Sony."

Sony's flash-based music player products have beaten Apple's iPod shuffle into second-place, it emerged today. However, Apple remains dominant there in the hard drive-based music player market, meaning the company already has a ready market for iTunes downloads when it does launch there.

Goodman also warned that Apple must focus on local Japanese artists to make a successful play: "Apple needs to provide Japanese consumers with a strong library of Japanese music from top Japanese record labels and pop stars."