What Is The Best VPN for Japan in 2019?
NordVPN is the best way to keep your online activities under cover while inside the borders of Japan. The provider’s speedy connections, excellent privacy protections, full customer support and widespread global server coverage makes it the best way to keep your online antics safe from observation.
This provider will keep your personal and business information safe and sound from hackers who are looking to steal your banking and credit card information if you tend to enjoy shopping online while connected to open Wi-Fi hotspots.
Internet Freedom in Japan
The internet came to Japan in 1996, when major telecommunication companies in the country, such as Nippon Telegraph, began offering Internet Service Provider (ISP) services.
The country has over 100 million internet users, with household penetration of 86%. Business penetration is 99% for businesses with more than 100 employees.
These internet-related developments took place in Japan in recent years:
Freedom House considers the internet freedom status of Japan to be “Free.” They awarded the country an overall Internet Freedom Score of 23/100. (0 = Most Free, 100 = Least Free). That ranks Japan as having the 7th most free internet in the world.
Top 5 Best VPNs for Use in Japan
Why Do You Need a VPN in Japan?
Internet freedom in Japan has declined in recent years due to the Japanese government’s increased surveillance of users. In this section, I’ll go over the various hurdles Japanese internet users face in reaching true internet freedom.
Japan’s internet industry is primarily self-regulated, with no independent regulatory commission available to oversee things in the country.
The 2001 Provider Liability Limitation Act allows ISPs to deal with take-down requests in the case of defamation, privacy violations and copyright infringement. Only those directly affected by the situations above can report the content for removal.
While freedom of speech and the press is widely respected, there are limits to such freedom. A 2003 legislation criminalized the use of the internet for certain sex-related internet activities and content. Violating copyright is also against the law.
Voice Over IP
The use of Voice over IP (VoIP) inside the borders of Japan is legal.
However, security concerns remain, as restrictive governments or other third parties could monitor a user’s communication with folks in other countries.
Access to popular social networks - such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many others - is completely unrestricted in Japan. Access to most popular blogging platforms is also available, with online blogs having a positive impact on freedom of speech in the country.
Torrenting in Japan is illegal.
Japanese authorities have been cracking down on file sharing sites in recent years. In February 2016, Japanese police arrested 44 people in a nationwide piracy crackdown.
As mentioned previously, a 2017 leak revealed U.S. intelligence agents had provided their Japanese counterparts with electronic surveillance equipment.
During the same period, a conspiracy law came into effect, which allows police to seek permission to wiretap electronic communications for a wider variety of reasons.
Netflix is available in Japan, as is a Japanese version of Hulu.
However, viewers will find that Japan’s flavor of Netflix has a much smaller content selection than the U.S. version, with only 405 TV shows and 1,360 movies, as compared to the U.S., which offers 1,326 TV shows and 4,339 movies.
Legality of VPNs
Japan has no regulations outlawing the use of a VPN by its citizens or by visitors to the country.
Although Japan only allows domestic online betting for lottery, soccer and public sports, Japanese gamblers looking for virtual versions of their favorite table games can easily access offshore casino sites.
How a VPN Protects Your Internet Usage in Japan
The Japanese government works closely with the United States government, which still runs some of the surveillance in the country. For this reason, the need for a Virtual Private Network in the country somewhat parallels the need in the U.S.
A VPN applies a layer of encryption to your internet connection, protecting your online activities from the prying eyes of the Japanese government, copyright holders and hackers.
Japan snoops on its citizens and allows the U.S. to snoop on those same citizens in order to fight espionage in the Far East. Also, Japan is strict on copyright violations, and those caught illegally torrenting or streaming copyrighted content can face imprisonment. A VPN’s encryption prevents the detection of these activities (not that any of my readers would engage in either of these antics).
As in any country, Japan is home to hackers who are looking for ways to monitor users’ online activities while they are connected to unprotected Wi-Fi hotspots found in coffee shops, restaurants and hotels. Hackers seek to steal personal and business-related info, such as banking, credit card and shopping site logins, as well as account information.
Another advantage of using a VPN is the service’s ability to “spoof” a user’s location by changing their IP address, making it appear that the user is located in another country, allowing access to audio and video content, gaming servers and other content that might normally be inaccessible to users based in Japan.
Choosing the Best VPN for Use in Japan
When you’re selecting a VPN for use while visiting or living in Japan, you’ll want to keep several important service categories in mind while you’re mulling over each VPN’s qualities.
In this section, I will take a look at each feature that bears important consideration, explain why each feature is important and then offer up a list of my top 10 VPN providers, ranked in order of how well they perform in a particular category.
No matter what purpose you are using a VPN for, and no matter which country you are stationed in, how well a VPN provider protects your privacy is always an important consideration. When I say “privacy,” I am referring to the provider’s ability to protect information related to your online activities, as well as your payment info.
When researching a VPN service, obtain the following important information:
I have listed the VPN providers below, sorted in order of best privacy protections to worst.
The connection speeds delivered by a VPN are important, as connection speed directly affects your satisfaction with your online activities. Fast connections can deliver high definition video streams with little buffering or delay and can deliver an excellent gaming experience with little lag.
The table at the end of this section shows the providers ranked according to their connection speeds, sorted fastest to slowest.
The speed rankings were calculated by measuring my ISP-provided connection speed, then connecting to each VPN and measuring the connection speed delivered by each provider. (I use the Speedtest website to make the speed measurements.) The speed percentage for each VPN provider was calculated by comparing both speed test results.
Global Server Coverage
Always check a provider’s global server coverage. The wider global coverage offered by a VPN provider, the more content-unblocking power it will offer.
Look for a large number of servers located in as many countries around the globe as possible. The closer a VPN provider’s servers are to the content you’re looking to access, the better chance you’ll have of unblocking said content.
Look for a provider with global server coverage similar to what’s shown in the screenshot below.
The rankings below display the top 10 VPN providers, sorted according to their global server coverage, best to worst.
Other Factors to Consider
I wouldn’t wish technical or billing issues on my worst enemy. I certainly wouldn’t wish them on any of my readers. Sadly, though, chances are better than just good that you’ll need to contact your VPN provider’s customer support team at one time or another.
Ideally, your VPN’s customer agents will respond quickly with an informed response about the issue you contact them about. Most providers offer live support chat, a trouble ticket system and a support library/knowledge base.
I’ve ranked the providers in the list below from the best level of support to the worst. I considered the types of support they offered, as well as the speed and accuracy of their agents’ replies.
If you’re a holder of thousands of shares of Alphabet (Google) or Apple, you probably don’t need to pay too close attention to this section of this article. However, 99% of my readers will probably want to keep reading.
While it’s great to save money on anything you buy, don’t always settle for the cheapest VPN provider you can find. Low-priced VPN providers may be cutting corners in some important categories simply to offer that attractive, low price.
When researching VPN pricing, make sure to visit the website of each provider to view their current pricing. Many of these VPN providers regularly run promotions that can greatly reduce the price you’ll pay for your VPN subscription.
Readers on a really tight budget, who may not have the money to pay upfront for an extended VPN subscription, can opt for a month-to-month payment deal. However, you’ll likely pay more over time if you go this route.
*The prices in the table reflect the monthly cost when paying for an annual subscription. (Annual Subscription Price / 12 Months.)
The Best VPNs to Use in Japan
#1 - NordVPN
Panama is one of the most privacy-friendly countries around when it comes to data retention requirements for VPN providers. The country doesn’t require providers to keep any logs at all about their customers’ online antics. NordVPN takes full advantage of this lack of oversight.
Privacy protections are extended into the payment column as well, as NordVPN accepts Bitcoin as a payment option.
It may be true that NordVPN only ranks as the 4th-fastest provider on this list, but that is still pretty darned fast.
The provider regularly delivers encrypted connection speeds within 10% of my usual, ISP-only speeds. That’s more than enough bandwidth for all but the most demanding of online activities.
Global Server Coverage
A server count of 3,500+ servers well-located in 61 countries around the globe doesn’t rank as the best in this lineup. However, it does provide a good bit of content-unblocking power when you’re looking to access content not normally available in Japan.
Live support chat, a searchable support library and a trouble ticket tracking system all add up to comprehensive customer support being offered by NordVPN.
This provider’s support people were always quick with a knowledgeable reply to my support inquiries, and the NordVPN support library was a great resource when I was in a do-it-yourself kind of mood.
NordVPN will likely never be the low-price leader when it comes to VPN subscription costs, but their $5.75-per-month (payable at $69.00 per year) asking price is a reasonable price for the services you receive in return.
NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
NordVPN easily took the top spot in this roundup by offering excellent privacy protections, scoring high with their customer support and providing fast connections. While their global server coverage isn’t the best around, the provider has located their server farms in a strategic manner.
Sure, NordVPN could be priced better, but their asking rate isn’t outrageous for what they provide.
#2 - VyprVPN
VyprVPN scores well in almost all of the categories I cover in this article. Sadly, privacy protection is not one of those.
Despite a location in privacy-loving Switzerland, which doesn’t require logs to be kept by VPN providers, this provider insists on retaining certain VPN session-related information for up to 30 days.
The files do not contain any information related to websites visited or files downloaded during a customer’s session. They do save a user’s real IP address, their VPN-assigned IP address, session start and stop times, and the amount of data used during the session.
No privacy-enhancing payment options, such as Bitcoin or merchant gift cards, are anywhere to be found.
VyprVPN’s encrypted connections may only be good enough for 3rd place in this particularly fast roundup of VPN providers, but they should never be considered slow.
This provider’s speeds come within easy striking distance of my usual, ISP-only connections, falling within 5% of those unprotected speeds.
Global Server Coverage
VyprVPN provides adequate global server coverage, with 700+ servers located in 65 countries around the world. The company’s well-placed server farms should be of great help with unblocking content that you normally can’t reach from inside of the Land of the Rising Sun.