Japan is one of most distinctly identifiable countries on the planet. The case is such because Japanese culture and customs differ a lot not only from the rest of the world, but from nearby countries as well. Throughout history, being situated on an island proved to be a great catalyst in this matter, as well as leaders’ isolationist approach to foreign relations in the past. Today, this resulted in Japan having many unique facets, and the islands are a place highly sought after. If we view all of this from the aspect of internet freedom, the situation is great: though with some prohibitions, the Japanese internet is an open landscape.
Best VPN Services for Japan of 2018
Using a Japanese IP
Japan is a very popular tourist destination and loved for its TV entertainment – especially moving pictures and anime are coveted worldwide. We advise though that you have at least some knowledge of the Japanese language, or an online translator, if you decide to use an IP address of the country. While a lot of sites indeed have English translations, you might not get so lucky with other tongues of the planet. Broadband usage is quite heavy in the country. This means that if you plan to connect to a Japanese IP via a VPN service (for safety and unblocking restricted content, for example), you will face some reduction in speed, even without it.
Moreover, as far as the content itself is concerned, we advise you to take what you see and read with a pinch of salt. The government does not have a regulatory body that oversees the information on display of Japanese addresses, and thus misinformation can be a potential aspect of the Japanese web.
Japanese Online Privacy Laws
The most important thing to mention from a legal standpoint is Japanese copyright law here. Most pirating services are not available. Furthermore, whoever “leaks or publishes classified information” can receive up to ten years of prison sentence. We must also note that public access to government services is monitored in Japan: visit any site whose ownership can be traced back to the government, and your actions are a subject of surveillance. On a perhaps more negative note, there is less restriction on child pornography and hate speech in Japan. Still, the legal framework highly supports the casual internet user.
Internet Censorship in Japan
Censorship is sparse is Japan. Social media is available altogether, and Japan makes an effort to even facilitate foreign communications instead of restraining them. However, self-censorship is a phenomenon is the country. As Freedom House puts it:
“Japanese citizens exercise some self-censorship online, often on historical and social issues. The society at large prefers “harmony,” and people avoid criticizing the role of Japan’s Emperor, especially when connected with historic issues like World War II. Individuals and public figures who break this code risk censure and even attacks from right-wing fanatics, who notoriously tried to assassinate the Nagasaki mayor on these grounds in the 1990s. Though exceptional, incidents like this still exert a chilling effect on Japanese expression.”
So essentially, Japanese culture has some elements that are of sensitive nature. People are willingly careful when mentioning these topics, but otherwise there is not much censorship or restriction present besides some filters on child pornography. Hate speech is rare, but since the internet is a very popular medium in Japan, expect a wide variety of opinions. This is great, as it makes experiencing the culture of the area is easily manageable.
Streaming Services in Japan
Streaming availability in Japan is not the best. The most important fact to highlight here is that the country is host to hundreds of anime related online streaming channels, usually not available (or if they are in very poor quality) anywhere else. This alone makes Japan a much sought after place to connect to via VPN. Moreover, a lot of artists even make extra content available for the Japanese audience. Line Music is a provider restricted to Japan and Thailand only, it is a paid service. Spotify is not available in Japan, and the situation is the same with Google Play Music, but Apple Music is good to go. You can find free streamers like SoundCloud or Bandcamp in the country, too. For television and video entertainment, Netflix is expanding into the land of the rising sun, be it with fewer popular series and movies available than in the US, UK and other western countries. Amazon Prime, Pandora or BBC iPlayer however, are not on the list of Japan supporters. Overall, streaming is selective, but in return Japan offers its own set of online content, at least as versatile as foreign ones (if not more).
Free Japanese VPN Trials
We can recommend you three VPN services to connect to Japan or VPN servers in another country to unblock your content of choice. Even though the country enjoys good local speeds, being so far from both Europe and America makes any sustained and quick connection a hard bargain. Therefore, for starters, we would like to advise you to take a look at IPVanish. It is a top quality service with a fast and extensive server network it fully owns itself. Other providers could catch up them in this matter but what makes IPVanish stand out a bit is the flawlessness rest of their service. If you are looking for an extremely cheap solution, try out Private Internet Access. This company rightfully prides itself on some of the best price-value ratios on the VPN market. With twenty servers in Japan, you are bound to find a suitable one for yourself. And finally, VyprVPN is a VPN of extra content. If you are looking for extra protection, this is your provider. Next to built-in NAT firewall and great device support, you must also pay some attention the VyprDNS side of their service that will even help you unblock sites that are restricted even in the country you connect to.