Prime Minister Suga vows to lower cell phone costs in Japan, PlayStation 5 pre-order sales scam customers, and more big news stories!
This Week In Japan #25 (September 25th, 2020)
Prime Minister Suga Vows to Cut Phone Costs
Newly elected Prime Minister Suga has recently vowed to reduce the prices from cell phone charges, saying “I am 100% going to do it.” The Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications, Takeda Ryota, spoke to news outlets on Thursday, stating that the prime minister has already ordered the administrative staff to begin examinations on concrete methods to reduce charges and increase competition.
Prime Minister Suga called the task a “superior order” and stated that a simple 10% reduction would not be enough for the reform that he is aiming for.
One particular person that Suga is looking at is the CEO of Softbank Mobile, Masayoshi Son. Back in 2018, Suga’s announcement that cell phone prices could be lowered by as much as 40% was not mentioned at all by Son. He instead countered with the point that Softbank’s cell phone charges are one of the cheapest in the world when comparing gigabyte prices.
A study done by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in June of this year that compared the charges of the largest carriers in different countries, found prices to be significantly higher in Japan. The largest carrier, Docomo, countered that factors such as area coverage rate, ease of connection, and usage patterns should also be taken into consideration, and is reluctant to simply compare prices.
Nonetheless, as the newly instated prime minister, Suga is eager to reform the oligopoly of the 3 main cell phone service providers, AU, Softbank, and Docomo and has stated that these companies have “wide room” for adjusting prices.
An Online Scam Is Tricking Buyers With Overpriced PS5 Preorders
Following last week’s showcase for upcoming titles for the PlayStation 5, fans are more excited than ever for the launch of the game system. However, several suspicious vendors have popped up online promising secure preorders for inflated prices. To make things shadier, some orders cannot be canceled by the buyers.
Preorder sales for the PS5 began from the 18th of this month, with some vendors charging as high as 10 times the announced price of ￥50,000 ($499). In the item description of these listings, “no cancellations or returns are allowed for this product” is written, making it impossible to cancel even the preorder, which is in itself simply a reservation of a product. Others allow canceling the order, but require a 50,000 yen cancellation fee which is equivalent to the official retail price of the PlayStation 5.
For the buyers that failed to realize the exorbitant price until it was too late, there was some hope. While “no cancellations” were written in the item description, those who directly contacted Amazon customer support we’re able to cancel their orders. Several vendors were contacted to ask about these preorder conditions, however, none responded. Many did not list any contact information. The current release date for the PlayStation 5 is slated for November 12th.
TV Stations To Focus More On Anime Due To COVID-19
Due to continuously decreasing advertisement revenue, Japanese TV stations are looking to focus more into anime. Nippon Terebi, which has released many popular works such as “Anpanman,” has even formed a new “Anime Division.”
COVID-19 has made the success of movies and events completely unpredictable according to TV station executives. Recent increases in staying home and quarantines have helped to further expand the anime market, and competition for the rights for news titles and their prices are on the rise.
A recent increase in animation production start-up companies will help to meet the demand for the booming industry, but could also lead to overproduction and therefore a drop in quality, according to an animation production company official.
Distribution for anime is becoming larger and larger in North America. While previously heavy in China, recent regulations targeting Japanese works such as those on violence, underage romance, and anti-power themes has led to a decrease. The North America market, on the other hand, is being directly targeted with themes such as friendship and hard work.
Sand From Legendary Baseball Stadium Sells For Thousands Of Yen
The national high school baseball championship has been canceled this year due to Corona. In order to help lift the spirits of the players whose dreams could not come true, the Hanshin Tigers baseball team has distributed over 5000 key holders containing sand from the koshien stadium, where the country-wide baseball finals are held twice a year, to high school teams across Japan.
However, this once in a lifetime gift is now being turned into a profitable good. The key holders are going on sale in massive numbers on the free market app “Merukari.” Over half are being sold for around 5000 yen, but some have even gone for as much as 10,000 yen.
To many baseball players, a memento from this legendary place where players have poured their blood, sweat, and tears cannot be priced, but many of the sellers have their reasons for letting them go, such as “To me, it is just some sand so I’ll sell it,” or “I received it from my baseball-playing classmate. Because I don’t play baseball, I don’t feel anything from it,” and even simply “I am lacking money.”