Never knew that.
"At the time, Hansa had come to the UK and were looking for fresh talent by means of a competition (there was a large advert with an impressive looking woman astride a motorcycle, stating "Wanna be a recording star? Get your ass up! Take your chance!"). Japan auditioned for Hansa at Morgan Studios on Friday 13th May 1977. The winners of the contest were The Cure, but in true Gareth Gates style Japan were also signed just 3 days later (May 23rd 1977) and given £1000 to buy new instruments - which was part of the advertised prize, although it has been denied that they had anything to do with the competition. The following information may make things a little clearer - information courtesy of Robert Smith:"There was a competition at the back of the Melody Maker. You had to send Hansa a tape and some photos. We ended up doing a three song performance for them in front of a video camera, and they signed us on the strength of what we looked like."
Then The Cure were put into the studio, and emerged with three classics - "Killing An Arab", "Boys Don't Cry" and "10.15 Saturday Night" - all of which Hansa refused to release and henceforth proceeded to drop the group (after attempts to get them to perform cover versions, hmm, sounds familiar doesn't it - read on). Just after that, Japan were given more attention. As with The Cure, Hansa funded studio time, and Japan, with an average age of 17, were allowed to develop their style."
Info via a rather fine (and exhaustive) Japan fan website.
You know the sort of devotional fansite I mean. The sort that'll inform you when the magnificent 'Ghosts' is featured in an episode of Ashes to Ashes. That sort of devotion. (Episode 6 of the series, since you're wondering.)