While Japan has a strong tradition and commitment to keep their rich history alive, it is also one of the countries that leads the way in terms of technology and innovation. Many revolutionary devices have been created in Japan and the country ranks 4th in internet usage worldwide. Over 86% of the population has access to internet and the vast majority of businesses are using it as a tool to enhance their productivity. Internet access in Japan is not restricted by the government and overall freedom of speech is respected. However, some incidents have raised concern about how free users actually are to express their opinions.
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, it was reported that videos and comments posted on YouTube against the Japanese government and TEPCO (the operator of the Fukushima plant), were removed. Additionally, some Twitter accounts that referred to nuclear power and radiation issues were disrupted. Of course, officials quickly denied the reports being true, but these actions were followed by the imposition of the Computer Networking Monitoring Law, which was passed by the Japanese Parliament on June 17th 2011 and that allows authorities to force internet servers to store individuals’ online communications and activity for monitoring purposes, without even requiring a court warrant.
Although 2011 saw freedom of speech substantially diminished, the situation since then has not presented major challenges. At least independent reports have not found strong evidence of internet monitoring. However, that does not mean that users are not exposed to government surveillance and other issues that affect online freedom and privacy. Japan has severe copyright infringement regulations and users that are considered to be in violation face harsh penalties that include jail term.
Japan has been an adamant supporter of the controversial ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) and it even hosted the signing ceremony in October 2011. The treaty aims to establish international standards for fighting against online piracy. In 2012, Japan approved laws that criminalise downloading and that establish high penalties for users who are found guilty of watching pirated content on purpose. They could face jail sentences of up to two years or fines of up to two million yen (about $18000 USD),while those accused of uploading copyrighted material could be punished with up to 10 years in prison.
To make matters worse, the Recording Industry Association of Japan has made attempts to force ISPs to install monitoring systems with the aim of identifying copyright infringers. The Transatlantic Trade Agreement (TTIP), which is currently under negotiation could increase the control that international copyright organizations may have over penalties for infringement, even if there is not enough proof of violation. Taking into consideration these threats to online freedom in Japan, it is necessary that users take a stand to protect themselves. Using a VPN can help you to ensure that your anonymity is maintained while you are connected to internet, not to mention that it is a great tool to access websites and services like Netflix without restrictions. These are some of the best VPN services for users in Japan.
Best VPNs for Japan
PureVPN (Our Review or Visit Site)
PureVPN is a reliable and effective VPN solution that allows you to enjoy unrestricted access to content from YouTube, Netflix and more. Their service also helps you to protect your privacy thanks to a high quality service and to the fact that they are based in Hong Kong, where there are no mandatory data retention laws. They have servers in Japan and offer excellent speeds.
VyprVPN (Our Review or Visit webSite)
Golden Frog’s VyprVPN has over 700 servers in 38 countries including Japan, Hong Kong, United States, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic and Ireland. They offer a high standard of protection for your privacy, as well as great flexibility to enjoy your online browsing. With VyprVPN you can enjoy advanced features and a fast service.
IPVanish (Our Review or Visit Site)
IPVanish protects your connection from eavesdropping and allows you to surf internet anonymously. You can switch between over 14000 IPs in 60 countries including Japan. IPVanish offers an effective service that is great for streaming content online and that allows P2P. They protect your data with 256-bit encryption and provide excellent customer support.
ExpressVPN (Our Review or Visit site)
Thanks to a combination of strong features and impressive speed, users can enjoy a versatile internet surfing experience. ExpressVPN keeps your data protected with top 256 bit and 128 bit encryption. They also provide great customer support and give you the possibility of accessing servers in over 45 countries.
HideMyAss (Our Review or Visit site)
One of the advantages of choosing this UK based provider is that they have an impressive network of servers located in 105 countries. This extensive selection of locations makes HideMyAss stand out from its competitors. Their service is easy to use and allows you to bypass restrictions and to protect your privacy effectively.