The Asahi Shimbun has posted a cultural trend piece noting that, while once Japanese audiences gravitated toward watching their foreign media subtitled, more effect-driven works and an aging population have shifted preferences toward dubs.
For example, satellite sports and movie channel Wowow originally promised films with “no cuts, no commercials and with subtitles,” but over the last decade, as the audience aged into their 50s, Wowow rep Kazuma Watanabe says, "it is becoming an effort for them to follow subtitles."
At the same time, satellite broadcaster The Cinema Inc similarly has plans to air more dubbed versions of popular films from the 1970s and 1980s, including Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry series and Eddie Murphy’s Beverly Hills Cop, after they have received favorable responses.
The trend is also being seen in movie theaters. The first two Mission Impossible movies were only screened subtitled in Japan. 2006's third was 25% dubbed screens, and the 2011 fourth film was 44%.
“Screening foreign films with subtitles reflected a culture in which Japanese movie distributors paid respect to the individuality of foreign actors and the originality of each work,” said Hiroo Otaka, a movie journalist. “[The proliferation of dubbed versions] indicates people no longer pay as much respect as they used to.”
Or, it could be the fact that you get to see things like Norio Wakamoto as Lando Calrissian...