The popularity of Microsoft's Xbox 360 is on the rise in Japan, but it's still far from competing with Sony's PlayStation 3, according to marketing research company Infoplant. The latest survey conducted by the market research firm has found that the number of gamers interested in the Xbox 360 nearly tripled over the past two months, with 5.8 percent saying they have interest in the next-generation console. In a similar survey conducted in early July, only 2 percent of respondents said they were looking forward to the Xbox 360.

The PlayStation 3 continued to be the top pick among Japanese gamers, with 72.3 percent saying they are considering purchasing the console. Nintendo's Revolution came in at second place at 21.9 percent, well up from the 8 percent in the previous survey.

Although multiple choices were allowed in the survey, 21.5 percent of the gamers said they have no interest in any of the three consoles. That also means nearly all of the Japanese gamers with interest toward the next-generation gaming consoles had marked the PS3 as one of their picks.

While the rise of interest in the Xbox 360 among Japanese gamers may just be a part of the overall growing awareness toward next-generation consoles, another factor may be Microsoft's recent campaign to attract gamer interest in the country. The company has been repeatedly stating that it is taking the Japanese market seriously, and it held a press conference in late July to reveal a long list of Japanese game makers that have signed up as third-party publishers. A number of Japanese-developed games were also announced at the event, including Ridge Racer 6, which is scheduled to be playable at this week's Tokyo Game Show. The previous survey by Infoplant was conducted prior to Microsoft's announcements.

The new console will need as much support from Microsoft as it can get, as the current Xbox console is considered bulky and lacking in Japanese-oriented games. While the Xbox 360 will be the first next-gen console on store shelves, there's still the question of how many units retail stores will be willing to order, considering the lack of current Xbox sales and apathy toward the 360.

Infoplant's research was conducted with a sample of 1,000 console owners that were equally split into four age groups: 250 gamers in their teens, 250 in their 20s, 250 in their 30s, and 250 in their 40s. Each group was equally divided between males and females.