Apple Japan has invited journalists to a special music event in Tokyo.

The event takes place on August 4 at 10am at the Tokyo International Forum. MacCentral speculates Apple may launch its iTunes Music Store in Japan at the show.

Japan is the world's third-biggest music sales market. Apple has been meeting with labels there since 2003.

The price is right?

Progress has been impeded by price concerns. Apple insisted Japan's labels agree to the local equivalent of a 99c per track tariff, but the labels held to a price equivalent of $1.50.

Japanese CDs cost in the region of £20 each. With CD prices set so high it's no wonder that Japanese CD rental services are highly popular, leading cash-strapped local music lovers to illegally rip music from rented albums.

Earlier this month it emerged that Japanese major label Avex has agreed to license songs to iTunes. An August launch was then anticipated, with rumours revealing "most" major labels will be represented. It's thought Sony has been reluctant to join.

Sony v Apple battle for Nippon

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."

Though Sony's flash-based music player products have beaten Apple's iPod shuffle into second-place, Apple's hard drive-based iPods lead the market, meaning Apple already has potential music customers in Japan.

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."