Thank you for the link. I had completely forgotten about Fax machines - and I didn't realize the first cheap ones apparently started coming out in 1984. And thank you for the reminder of how well TSR was doing financially around then!
I quite often visited Japan for work and went to game stores there (played Magic which is easy if you recognize the pictures) and watched RPG games. I bought a copy of the Sword World 2.0 1st rulebook one recent trip. That dates from 1995 for when it started. Right when the first D&D book was translated.
One of the most popular local games. No Japanese character classes. Pictures of swords in the rulebook have no katanas.
According to the link above, Call of Cthulhu is the best selling foreign RPG.
My experience living in Singapore and Shanghai and playing in Tokyo (and a couple of times in Bangkok) was that the more normal pattern here of someone hosting at their place is not the norm. People usually play at game stores or cafes. In Singapore, except for the biggest events, most Magic tournaments are outdoors in the area near the shop.