We reported on San Andreas coming to Japan back in November, now we're a few days late here, but you can blame that on the fact we don't know anyone who speaks Japanese, and the fact there was no press release in the Western world. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was released in stores across Japan last week, on Thursday, 25th January to be precise, that's according to the official Japanese GTASA site itself. Rather surprisingly it seems to be doing quite well considering how previous iterations didn't prove to be particularly popular among the Japanese - German gaming site GameFront.de reported last Friday that first day sales figures show around 200,000 copies were shifted.
The official Japanese GTASA site has been carrying a few news updates in the past month, mainly to announce Capcom's promotional events and parties for the game, in addition to wallpapers and the official trailer release. There's no need to start digging around the Japanese site looking for new content though - the wallpapers and trailer are the exact same ones we were presented with 2 and a half years ago, albeit with Japanese subtitles.
The game is rated Z by CERO, the Japanese equivalent to the ESRB. This is the highest rating a game can achieve in Japan and is equal to the AO rating seen on American games, and basically means the game should only be played by persons aged 18 and older.
Link to official 'announcement': GTASA.jp (On the News page - in Japanese)
I would imagine the big problem was finding a company to "localize, publish and distribute" the game. Capcom have clearly done an excellent job here if those first day sales stats are accurate. The second problem would have been accurately translating the entire game script into Japanese, I'm not sure if there are any difficulties with the symbols and whatnot, but you can imagine what a laborious process this must be, of course this wouldn't take 2 years though...
I guess there was also some strategic planning to be done, to make sure the release doesn't coincide with any other huge games being released in close proximity - which of course could hurt San Andreas' sales out there.
I wouldn't think that it'd take 2 years to transfer into Japanese script. Maybe 6 months to completely convert it really. I'm thinking the major delay must have been getting a company to take on the distribution of the game like this in a country that is normally so respectful and where things like the events in GTA rarely happen.