Among my FPS-playing Japanese chums, most of whom are male and in their 20s (Japanese girls don’t really seem to dig the FPS genre), only one has experienced mid-game motion sickness. He was playing Crysis on his PC. The rest of them just give me funny looks when I explain the gaijin (mis?)conception that Japanese gamers puke at the mere sight of a first-person perspective. And for a genre that they reportedly “can’t get on with”, an awful lot of Japanese players have been buying Halo and other FPSes in recent years.
So maybe it’s a generational thing. Perhaps the FPS of the late 1990s (which seems to be when this myth was first propagated) was not compatible with the majority of Japanese gamers from that era, or perhaps the poor sales of GoldenEye in Japan can be attributed, not to its first-person-ness, but to its “Why is the screen smeared with Vaseline?” visual quality.
Other evidence suggests that the phenomenon is more to do with specific types of in-game movement rather than the FPS genre itself. I.e., my (Japanese) wife was playing GTi Club yesterday when she suddenly quit the game and complained that she felt dizzy because of the undulation in the game’s hilly cityscape. This isn’t the first time this has happened: Katamari Damacy and Super Mario Galaxy also made her feel physically sick. The cause of the recurring problem, she reckons, is something to do with 3D environments and the scope of being able to move in all directions. Which is why she generally sticks to playing 2D and simple 3D games – as do several of her friends, for the same reasons.
Non-scientific but probably accurate conclusion: Japan has no real problem with FPSes, yet some players are affected by extreme game environments.