This Week In Japan #25 (September 25th, 2020)

Prime Minister Suga vows to lower cell phone costs in Japan, PlayStation 5 pre-order sales scam customers, and more big news stories!

September 27, 2020

Prime Minister Suga Vows to Cut Phone Costs

Prime Minister Suga is already moving to lower cell phone costs in Japan. Image sourced from https://news.yahoo.co.jp/.

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 

Some PS5 preorders are going for as much as 500,000 yen, which is 10 times the announced retail price.

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

TV stations in Japan are hoping to pick up more anime aimed towards western audiences. My Hero Academia a popular anime in the west that was broadcast by Nippon Terebi.

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

Online listings showing the high prices that the key chains are being sold for. Image sourced from https://news.yahoo.co.jp/.

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.”

Christian Dakin

Christian Dakin is an editor, designer, and video game director currently based out of Tokyo, Japan. Originally from a small town in Georgia, he studied in Japan for a year in college before returning again for work. Christian enjoys studying Japanese and the outdoors. In his off time, he is most likely to be found adventuring to a castle, belting it out in karaoke with friends, or in a gym somewhere.

More articles by Christian Dakin

Related Articles


This Week in Japan #35 (December 11th)

This week in Japan an unexpected Nintendo item becomes a collectable, Tokyo aims to eliminate gas cars, Demon Slayer wins out over parents, and more big news stories!

December 13, 2020

This Week in Japan #34 (November 27th)

This week in Japan, the Go-To Travel campaign is suspended, former Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn’s arrests found “illegal” by U.N. council, and more big news stories!

November 28, 2020


avatar for Christian DakinChristian Dakin

Christian Dakin is an editor, designer, and video game director currently based out of Tokyo, Japan. Origin...

avatar for Yasu MatsunoYasu Matsuno

Founder of Japan Insider. Japanese-born entrepreneur. Spent his life around the globe, including To...

avatar for Kevin MurasakiKevin Murasaki

Kevin Murasaki grew up moving back and forth between Chicago and Yokohama, Japan. Known as a "hafu", Kevi...

avatar for Mark KennedyMark Kennedy

Mark Kennedy is a native of Chicago who has spent more than 20 years living, studying, and working in Jap...