Best VPN for Japan

In Japan, a staggering 92% of citizens are online, and the internet is a well-engrained part of Japanese society. While internet censorship and monitoring aren’t overly pervasive in Japan, there have been subtle changes to government policy and within society that have left people concerned for their online freedom and security. Whether you’re worried about that or you’re trying to access your home sites and content while traveling, the best VPNs for Japan can help you out.

Primarily, A VPN encrypts all of your device’s internet traffic, preventing network admins, governments, or ISPs from seeing what you get up to online. VPNs also mask your IP address and replace it with one from the country of your choice. This can help you access content from anywhere in the world, even if it’s geo-blocked in your particular region.

But, when selecting a VPN to use for Japan, not just any provider will do. We have conducted extensive research and testing to find the best VPN services to use for content and privacy in Japan. In this article, we’ll show you not only the best VPNs to use but also how to use them. Let’s start with a quick summary:

The best VPNs to use in Japan

  1. NordVPN: Our #1 choice VPN for Japan. Unblocks most streaming content at good speeds with no compromises on security and privacy. Has over 130 servers in Japan. Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
    TIP In our testing we found that the cheapest NordVPN plan (Standard) works perfectly for Japan.
  2. Surfshark: A cheap VPN for Japan.  A security-focused, budget-friendly provider with a no-logs policy, good speeds, no connection limits, and exceptional unblocking ability.
  3. ExpressVPN: Premium VPN with impressively fast servers can unblock most geo-restricted content in Japan and elsewhere with ease. Great range of online security and privacy features.
  4. CyberGhost: An easy-to-use VPN for Japan. Good for beginners, user-friendly apps, strong security, and decent streaming speeds. Works with most streaming platforms. Over 230 servers for accessing Japanese content.
  5. IPVanish: A safe and secure VPN to use in Japan. Torrent-friendly VPN with good speeds and strong security. A favorite among Kodi users. Allows you to connect unlimited simultaneous devices.
  6. Private Internet Access (PIA): Boasts an extensive network of servers, top-notch privacy features, and wallet-friendly prices, making it a great choice for Japan.
  7. Atlas VPN: Very fast with servers across dozens of countries, Japan included. Unlimited connections and extra security features.

WANT TO TRY THE TOP VPN RISK FREE?

NordVPN is offering a fully-featured risk-free 30-day trial if you sign up at this page. You can use our first choice for Japan with no restrictions, caps, or limits for a month. This lets you browse safely and stream content from back home during your stay. 

There are no hidden termsjust contact support within 30 days if you decide not to keep NordVPN and you'll get a full refund. Start your NordVPN trial here.

How we found the top Japan VPNs

There are plenty of VPNs on the market, but they don’t all provide the same level of service. To find the best VPNs for Japan, we looked for those that met the following criteria:

  • Speed and reliability of service
  • Strong encryption parameters
  • No usage logs
  • Accesses geo-restricted content with ease (Netflix, Hulu, etc.)
  • Wide network of servers in global locations including Japan – the more, the better
  • Apps for Android and iOS

This is just an overview but we provide additional information about how we test and rank the VPNs we recommend, in the methodology section below. But for now, let’s take a look at the ones that impressed us.

Best VPNs for Japan: Comparison

We’ve tested and compared the most important features of the top VPNs here. Prefer to read the in-depth reviews? Start with NordVPN – our #1 choice for Japan.

No valueNordVPNSurfsharkExpressVPNCyberGhostIPVanishPrivate Internet Access
WebsiteNordVPN.comSurfshark.comExpressVPN.comCyberghost.comIPVanish.comPrivateInternetAccess.com
Ranking for Japan:123456
Streaming ServicesNetflix
Amazon Prime
Hulu
BBC iPlayer
Netflix
Amazon Prime
Hulu
BBC iPlayer
Netflix
Amazon Prime
Hulu
BBC iPlayer
Netflix
Amazon Prime
Hulu
Netflix
Amazon Prime
Netflix
Amazon Prime
Avg Speed (Mbps)100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps73 Mbps
Popular Sites Unblocked95%88%86%85%70%70%
Simultaneous Connections6Unlimited87UnlimitedUnlimited
Devices SupportedWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, LinuxWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TVWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, RoutersWindows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, AndroidWindows, MacOS, iOS, AndroidWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux
Best deal (per month)$3.39
SAVE 67% on a 2 yr plan + gifts
$2.29
Save 79% + Get 2 Months FREE
$6.67
SAVE: 49% + 3 months free
$2.19
SAVE 83% on the 2 year plan
$3.25
SAVE 75% on the 2 yr plan
$2.19
SAVE 82% on the 2 yr plan

The best VPNs for Japan

At Comparitech we aim to bring you the most accurate and helpful VPN recommendations possible. To do this we use every VPN extensively, subjecting them to rigorous real-world testing. The following reviews are based on those first hand experiences.

Here is our list of the best VPNs for Japan:

1. NordVPN

NordVPN Feb 2024 Works in JapanTested Feb 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Background FireTV

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

NordVPN is our top choice VPN for Japan. It has a true zero-logs policy, as it holds no data about user sessions, traffic, or timestamps. Authorities have tried clamping down on it in the past by sending multiple requests for information, but the policy made it impossible to comply. Nord’s servers were also raided in one instance, but there was no incriminating data stored, hence thwarting attempts.

The company operates 6,000+ servers in 60+ countries, making it a sturdy choice for an entire range of web activity. 130+ of these are located in Japan itself, so finding a suitable connection shouldn’t be an issue.

There are also servers optimized for anti-DDoS, video streaming networks, double VPN, Tor over VPN, and dedicated IP—ideal for video streaming, strong encryption, and stringent privacy. It’s also able to circumvent the Netflix VPN ban with ease, unlock content from Hulu and BBC iPlayer as well as access a variety of Japanese content, and it supports torrenting.

NordVPN servers encrypt internet traffic via the 256-bit AES protocol by default and uses 2,048-bit SSL keys. DNS leak protection is enabled. A single subscription grants access to six devices, with support for Windows, Linux, MacOS, iOS, and Android.

NordVPN speed test data

No valueNordVPN
WebsiteNordVPN.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)268 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)174 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)147 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$3.39
SAVE 67% on a 2 yr plan + gifts

Pros:

  • Operates 6,000+ servers, including over 130 in Japan
  • One of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested
  • Easily unblocks a wide range of geo-locked sites
  • Offers secure, encrypted connections at all times
  • Connect six devices concurrently
  • Round-the-clock chat support

Cons:

  • Automatic server location selection may not fit all use cases

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST VPN FOR JAPAN:NordVPN is our top choice. With a broad range of servers, including a few in Japan, this is a good all-rounder option that works with Netflix and most other video streaming services. Great online privacy and security credentials. Offers a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

Here’s our full NordVPN review.

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2. Surfshark

Surfshark works in japanTested Feb 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Surfshark is a great value VPN that offers a high-quality service. It doesn’t keep any personally identifiable information, but if you’re looking for even greater anonymity, you can pay in Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Ripple. It also offers AES 256-bit encryption, protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks, and a kill switch, as well as a NoBorders feature that allows you to bypass country-wide internet blocking.

This service has around 3,200 servers in 100+ countries, allowing it to securely access a wide range of online services, including Netflix US, Hulu, and TV Tokyo. Its fast connection times are ideal for lag-free streaming, even at high resolutions, plus Surfshark allows unlimited torrenting on all of its servers. Better still, there’s no connection limit, meaning you can watch on any device you own.

Surfshark apps are available for iOS, Android, Windows, MacOS, and Linux. It can be manually configured for use with internet routers.

Surfshark speed test data

No valueSurfshark
WebsiteSurfshark.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)205 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)193 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)168 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$2.29
Save 79% + Get 2 Months FREE

Pros:

  • Allows unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • Keeps no logs
  • Unblocks plenty of major streaming services
  • Generally high speeds
  • Strong on security

Cons:

  • Some servers are slower than others

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST BUDGET VPN:Surfshark is great value and allows you to stream your favorite shows no matter where you are in the world. With decent download speeds, a strong security focus, and a 30-day money-back guarantee, it’s an excellent choice for anyone in Japan.

Read our full Surfshark review.

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3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Works in JapanTested Feb 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN ranks highly on our list of the top VPN services for its reliable speed and user-first approach. There’s a clean, simple, and minimalist design, and connecting to the 3,000+ servers spread across 100+ countries is quick and efficient. There are servers located in Japan—ideal for residents of the country traveling abroad—but the company doesn’t specify how many exactly.

It doesn’t store any traffic logs but does retain metadata about the date (not time) of connection, choice of server location, and total bandwidth used. This isn’t an issue because your individual IP address is not stored. For users who are still feeling skittish—you can sign up anonymously by using a burner email account and paying via Bitcoin—so none of the activity will ever be traced back to you.

Military-grade encryption protocols are a robust 256-bit AES-CBC with the utilization of both HMAC authentication and perfect forward secrecy. An internet kill switch temporarily halts all web traffic if the connection drops unexpectedly. Hence, you’re getting what you pay for regarding ease of access, privacy, and excellent security standards.

ExpressVPN is one of the few VPN services out there that works to access content on Netflix with ease. It’s also compatible with Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer, as well as supporting torrents with great performance.

There are apps for Android and iOS, as well as desktop support for Linux, Windows, and MacOS.

ExpressVPN speed test data

No valueExpressVPN
WebsiteExpressVPN.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)253 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)193 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)133 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$6.67
SAVE: 49% + 3 months free

Pros:

  • Reliable servers in 100+ countries, including Japan
  • Fantastic speeds for consistent downloading and streaming
  • Top-class security and online privacy protections
  • Works with all major streaming sites, e.g., Netflix and Amazon Prime Video
  • Live chat customer support, 24/7

Cons:

  • Streaming servers aren’t labeled
  • More expensive than others on this list

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

PRIVACY-FIRST VPN:ExpressVPN is a reliable option in Japan. It has a vast server network that is optimized for high-speed connections. Hard to beat on privacy and security. Great for streaming. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee too.

Here’s our in-depth review of ExpressVPN.

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4. CyberGhost

CyberGhost Works in JapanTested Feb 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Cyberghost.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

CyberGhost is an impressive VPN with easy-to-use apps ideal for beginners. It has a whopping 10,000+ servers spread across 100+ countries, including over 230 in Japan, so accessing local content shouldn’t be an issue. The provider doesn’t store any user logs or data, and since it’s based in Romania, it is subject to Romanian laws, which don’t impose data retention of any kind.

CyberGhost uses 256-bit AES encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default, along with 2,048-bit RSA keys and MD5 HMAC authentication. There’s also an internet kill switch included, which means web traffic will be halted if the connection drops unexpectedly.

Apps are available for Android, Linux, and iOS, as well as desktop support for Windows and macOS.

CyberGhost speed test data

No valueCyberGhost
WebsiteCyberghost.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)392 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)244 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)253 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$2.19
SAVE 83% on the 2 year plan

Pros:

  • 230+ server locations in Japan and 10,000 worldwide, ideal for unblocking international content
  • Beginner-friendly interface
  • Minimal configuration required
  • Good security, and they don’t store user activity logs
  • 45-day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work reliably in China or UAE
  • Doesn’t offer many customizable features for advanced users

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

230+ JAPANESE SERVERS:CyberGhost has a vast global server network and a simple set up ideal for beginners. Works well in Japan. Good option if you are looking for a fast, reliable connection and an easy-to-use interface. It comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee.

Here’s our full review of CyberGhost.

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5. IPVanish

IPVanish Works in JapanTested Feb 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.IPVanish.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

IPVanish doesn’t store any user details except when an account is registered for the first time. After that, all browsing sessions and choices of servers are kept hidden. It uses 246-bit encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default, SHA512 authentication, and a DHE-RSA 2,048 key exchange with perfect forward secrecy.

There’s an internet kill switch included, which means the company will temporarily block all traffic to and from your device if the connection drops unexpectedly. Servers are optimized for speed and security—there are over 2,000 of them spread across 50+ countries, including 20 in Japan.

IPVanish is capable of accessing content on Netflix US, but not Hulu, and we do not recommend it for BBC iPlayer. There are apps for both iOS and Android, as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.

IPVanish also permits torrenting on all its servers, which is an ideal choice for Japan, given the extremely harsh torrenting laws in place (more on that at the bottom of this article). Its fast speeds and minimal downtime mean IPVanish works fantastically well with Kodi too.

IPVanish speed test data

No valueIPVanish
WebsiteIPVanish.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)252 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)228 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)352 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$3.25
SAVE 75% on the 2 yr plan

Pros:

  • Operates 20 fast servers in Japan, great for unblocking geo-restricted content
  • Good high-quality streams during our tests
  • Torrenting is allowed, and they keep no internet traffic logs
  • Allows you to connect unlimited devices

Cons:

  • Apps don’t work in China
  • Customer support can be a little slow

Our score:

4 out of 5

SECURE EVERY DEVICE:IPVanish has a large network of servers and handles multiple connections well. Easy to use and preferred by users who need high standards of internet privacy. Can’t unblock as many streaming services as some of its rivals. Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of IPVanish.

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6. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Background FireTV

Website:  www.PrivateInternetAccess.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a top choice when it comes to maintaining privacy in Japan. With its vast network of 29,000+ servers across 84 countries, you can browse and stream content while keeping your online activities under wraps.

PIA is not only wallet-friendly but also offers a reliable service with strong security and privacy features. With unlimited simultaneous connections, you can share the benefits with friends and family, ensuring everyone’s online privacy is protected.

Despite being headquartered in the U.S., PIA is committed to user privacy and has a strict no-logs policy, so you can be sure your data stays private.

PIA utilizes AES encryption to secure your connection, keeping your data safe from prying eyes. Additional features like split tunneling and a kill switch give you even more control over your online privacy.

With PIA, you can unblock popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer, making it perfect for users in Japan who want to access a world of content. Need help? PIA’s 24/7 customer support is always available to assist.

Give Private Internet Access a try with its 30-day money-back guarantee, and experience a secure and private internet connection while in Japan.

PIA speed test data

No valuePrivate Internet Access
WebsitePrivateInternetAccess.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)93 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)58 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)200 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$2.19
SAVE 82% on the 2 yr plan

Pros:

  • Supports WireGuard
  • Tweak encryption for faster speeds
  • Can connect unlimited devices at the same time

Cons:

  • Unblocking streaming platforms can be inconsistent
  • Based in a Five Eyes Alliance country

Our score:

4 out of 5

EASY TO USE:Private Internet Access is user-friendly stores no logs, offers great VPN security and unblocks most streaming services. Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full Private Internet Access review.

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7. Atlas VPN

AtlasVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Background FireTV

Website:  www.atlasvpn.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Atlas VPN is highly capable when it comes to accessing region-locked content, be it content from Japan or overseas. It works well with Japanese TV channels, including NHK and TV Asahi, as well as international streaming services like Netflix and Disney+. What’s more, Atlas VPN is one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested. This makes it ideal not only for streaming but also for torrenting and playing online games.

With your Atlas VPN account, you can connect as many devices as you like simultaneously. Note also that you’ll have access to a number of extra features, such as MultiHop servers and a malware blocker. Of course, it includes all of the essential security features you’d expect. This consists of military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and protection from DNS leaks. Atlas VPN also doesn’t keep any identifying logs.

To use Atlas VPN, simply download and install an app for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, or Amazon Fire TV. It’s worth knowing, however, that Atlas VPN doesn’t support routers.

Atlas speed test data

No valueAtlasVPN
Websiteatlasvpn.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)297 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)158 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)356 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$1.64
SAVE 86% on a 2 year plan + 6 months free

Pros:

  • Strong unblocker of content, including streaming services
  • Particularly fast server speeds coupled with unlimited bandwidth
  • Connect as many devices as you like at the same time

Cons:

  • Smaller server network than most VPNs in this list
  • Doesn’t provide support for routers

Our score:

4 out of 5

STREAMING-FRIENDLY:Atlas VPN combines powerful unblocking with high-speed connections. Works with Japanese TV as well as Netflix. Unlimited simultaneous connections and even a malware blocker. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full Atlas VPN review.

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Finding the best VPNs for Japan: our methodology

There are hundreds of VPNs on the market, but they were not all created equal. This can make choosing a reliable VPN hard, and it is common for consumers to end up frustrated by a service that is a waste of money. To save customers time and money, our VPN reviewers use a carefully devised scientific testing methodology to find those providers that are best suited for use in Japan. Below are some of the most important features we looked for to curate this list:

  • Servers in Japan. Whether you are in Japan or traveling abroad, you may need to access Japanese services and platforms that are region-locked. VPNs that have Japanese servers let you prevent tracking and surveillance even when using local Japanese services.
  • A global server network. Whether you want to stream Netflix US, the UK’s BBC iPlayer, or use some other international service, a VPN with a wide choice of servers will help. We recommend VPNs that have a large global server network to ensure you can always access anything that interests you.
  • A no-logs policy. This ensures that the VPN never tracks or harvests any information about what you do while connected. This is important because a no-log VPN will not use your data and cannot be forced to share your browsing habits with government snoops.
  • Strong encryption. A VPN is only ever as strong as its encryption implementation. Unfortunately, not all VPNs implement their VPN protocol to the highest possible standards. To ensure your safety, we only recommend VPNs for Japan that have reliable encryption.
  • Advanced VPN features. Leading VPN providers offer value for money and versatility by providing apps for all platforms that come with useful features. We recommend services that have DNS leak protection, a kill switch, obfuscation, and other advanced features, including Smart DNS, double-hop connections, split tunneling, and more.
  • Superb customer care. Being able to contact your VPN to ask for help is important. That is why we recommend VPNs with live chat and email support you can contact at any time of day.
  • Value for money. Online freedom and security should be accessible on any budget, so we look for VPNs that offer great value for money. We prioritize those providers that offer deals on longer-term subscriptions, free trials, and money-back guarantees. We also include discount coupons so you can be sure that you’re getting the best deal possible.

Want to know more? Check out our article detailing our full VPN testing methodology.

How to use a VPN in Japan

Don’t worry if you’ve never used a VPN before, the process is quite simple. Just follow the steps below, and you’ll be browsing securely in no time.

Here’s how to use a VPN for Japan:

  1. Sign up for a VPN. We particularly recommend NordVPN.
  2. Download and install the VPN app making sure to get the correct version for your device.
  3. Connect to a server in the location of your choice. For example, if you want to access Japanese content securely, connect to a Japanese server. If you want to access US content from Japan, choose a US server.
  4. Connect to the website or streaming platform you wish to access. You should now be able to access geo-restricted content and browse the internet with total freedom.
  5. If you have trouble accessing the services you want, try clearing your browser’s cookies and cache and reloading the page. Alternatively, try a different server or contact your VPN’s customer support team for more help.

Free Japan VPN options

It’s possible that you’ll find a free VPN that works for you in Japan. However, we don’t recommend them because free VPNs have several drawbacks.

For example, if you want to perform data-intensive tasks such as streaming video, gaming, torrenting, or VoiP, then a free VPN is not going to meet your needs. This is because free VPN servers are often under-optimized and over-subscribed, making them slow and sluggish.

If you want to unblock content in another country, you might also be out of luck. This is because free VPNs don’t have wide server networks, so you may not find one in the location you want. Plus, they often leak user data, making them unsuitable for unblocking and leaving users frustrated.

They are also not great for privacy. Not only do some free VPN servers leak your data, but some free services even infect your device with adware. They will inject ads into your browser as a revenue stream. Another way they make money is through the collection and harvesting of user data to sell to third parties. Not every free VPN does this, but it is becoming a more common practice.

There are some free VPNs you can trust, but these are often free versions of the premium services we list above. For more information, check out our free VPN recommendations. If you want a VPN without paying, you can always take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee that many premium providers offer. You will need to pay upfront, but you can claim this back if you apply for a refund in the first 30 days.

Japanese internet freedoms

Japan’s internet is ranked by Freedom House as “free” with the advocacy body noting that currently, there are no restrictions on social media apps, access to content, or clampdowns on popular bloggers. This is strengthened by Japan’s constitution, which protects all forms of speech and prohibits censorship.

But national security concerns may cause a rethink at the federal level. In 2013, lawmakers in Japan passed the “Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets”. The statutes ensconced in the act criminalize leaking and publishing national secrets regardless of intent or content. Freedom House notes that this has potential ramifications for journalists, whistleblowers, and civil society watchdogs.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee agrees that the legislation is vague and broad when it comes to defining the exact limitations of secretive matters. Individuals caught violating these parameters will be subject to high criminal penalties and lead to self-censorship by journalists and human rights defenders.

Related: A beginner’s guide to online censorship.

The laws came about after a recommendation by Japan’s communication ministry to start regulating cyberspace. The guidelines sought to rein in influential news sites, subjecting them to the same kind of regulations that bind physical newspapers and broadcast television channels. The report, titled “Final Report on a Comprehensive Legal System for Communications and Broadcasting,” stated that “there is a need for an active effort from the government…as it is difficult for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to individually make judgments regarding concrete harmfulness”.

Augmenting the atmosphere of fear is the country’s crackdown on media freedoms in the East Asian country. In 2016, Foreign Policy reported on the Japanese government’s forceful takedown of popular voices.

Three outspoken television anchors were mysteriously removed from their jobs, with the general perception that the dismissals were orchestrated by the government, although there is no independent method of verifying this claim. The country’s largest liberal newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, was also forced to be subdued.

Such developments compelled the UN to carry out a fact-finding mission in the country, during which it met with journalists, educators, and government officials. At the end of the mission, the global body declared that the “independence of press in Japan is facing serious threats”.

“Across a range of areas, I learned of deep and genuine concern that trends are moving sharply and alarmingly in the wrong direction. This is especially acute in the context of media independence,” added David Kaye, UN’s special rapporteur.

Related: 11 privacy steps every journalist should take to protect themselves and their sources.

The day after the report, Japan’s ranking in press freedom by Paris-based Reporters Without Borders slid 11 places to 72 out of 180 countries surveyed.

Foreign Policy added that Japan’s spy agency, the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office, spied on this particular UN mission by tracking the movements of a local lawyer who assisted the fact-finding team. These are troubling developments for a country that has prided itself as the largest democracy in the region and may provide a snapshot of what lies ahead.

Having said that, it’s important to state that there haven’t yet been any official arrests of media personnel under this new legislation. There is, however, a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment for those found guilty of revealing state secrets.

Torrenting in Japan

Japanese citizens are subject to some of the harshest anti-torrenting laws on the planet, with violations running a huge 10 million Yen fine and up to two years in prison.

Users on sites like Reddit and Quora do suggest that downloading torrents in Japan won’t land you anywhere near the maximum penalties, in most cases. But why take these risks if you’re caught? There were 27 people arrested in 2013 after being caught uploading manga, video games, anime, and music videos without the explicit permission of copyright holders, so there is precedent.

If your explicit aim while browsing the web in Japan is to download torrents, we suggest you read through our guide of the best VPNs for P2P filesharing and protect yourself thoroughly.

Using VPN in Japan: FAQs

Are VPNs legal in Japan?

VPNs are legal in Japan and, indeed, almost every country in the world. A VPN is a valid way to secure your online activity as well as access geo-restricted websites and services from home while you’re traveling abroad. You’ll have no trouble using a VPN in Japan, and because there’s no blocking of VPNs, it’s possible to download and install your preferred VPN while in the country (unlike in China).

Of course, you should still be careful about what you do online while using a VPN. Some activities (such as torrenting copyrighted material) remain illegal regardless of the use of a VPN.

How to access Netflix Japan via VPN?

If you’d like to access Netflix Japan while traveling abroad, all you have to do is connect to one of your VPN’s Japanese servers. If you’re having difficulty, we recommend trying a different server or contacting your VPN’s customer support team directly for more help. 

Is using a Japanese proxy server better than a VPN from Japan?

With a VPN from Japan or a Japanese proxy server, you can browse anonymously because you’re using a different IP address that isn’t tied to your actual location. Further, you can use either to unblock geo-restricted websites and services. However, only a VPN encrypts all of your internet traffic. With a VPN, you can secure yourself from hackers as well as snoopers (such as your ISP), making it the better option for protecting your privacy.

In which Japanese cities does NordVPN have servers?

Of its over 6,000 servers, NordVPN offers approximately 130 servers in Japan. We spoke with NordVPN, and they confirmed that their Japanese servers are located in Tokyo and Osaka. By connecting to one of these servers, you’ll have a Japanese IP address. NordVPN’s website provides more information on their VPN servers in Japan. You can also see the full list of server locations via the NordVPN apps.

Can I get arrested if I torrent anime in Japan?

As discussed above, torrenting copyrighted material is a crime, and so, technically, you could be arrested. In reality, though, Japanese law enforcement is more interested in catching the people who upload this kind of content rather than those who download it.

Still, with punishments ranging from a ¥10,000,000 ($91,000 USD) fine to a two-year jail sentence, we strongly advise against downloading copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder.