Best VPNs For Japan: Stay Safe in The Land of The Rising Sun

article by Nicky Hoseck
January 12, 2020
With Japan hosting the Rugby World Cup this year, sports fans all over the world have come to love the country and its people. If you’re planning a trip there, however, it’s important to bear in mind the atmosphere of its virtual world as well as the cultural differences of its physical one.
Despite its pacifist constitution, in 2018, Freedom House reported that “internet freedom declined in Japan due to government requests to block manga piracy sites and increased arrests and prosecutions for copyright-related offenses”.

Unlike China, Japanese authorities have a more relaxed approach to censorship, although that may change as they attempt to beef up their national security by focusing on electronic warfare, outer space, and cybersecurity.

As a result of these developments, having the best VPN for Japan installed on your device before you travel is the best way of ensuring a free and private online experience.

Best VPNs for Japan

#1 ExpressVPN

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Just as the New Zealand All Blacks always seem to be the ones to beat on the rugby field, so ExpressVPN is the one to beat in the world of cybersecurity. A wide distribution of zero-knowledge ensures worldwide connectivity and user privacy, while the cutting-edge encryption manages to protect delivery top-notch protection without slowing connection speeds.

ExpressVPN is consistent and reliable, both in terms of its ability to access blocked content, navigate its way around geographical restrictions, and protect user privacy with a solid no-logging policy. ExpressVPN is also something of a trailblazer when it comes to cybersecurity in general, while its slick user interface and informative website make both operations and troubleshooting a breeze.

While not the cheapest VPN around, ExpressVPN has some competitively priced long-term plans available and a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can take it for a virtual test drive before committing. With servers in 95 different countries, including Japan itself, ExpressVPN is a great choice both as a Japan VPN service and as a means of accessing US Netflix from overseas.

Based in Panama, ExpressVPN doesn’t have to contend with any mandatory data retention laws which means it can guarantee its no-logging policy. ExpressVPN also offers one of the most responsive and informative customer support services around.

Find out why we rate ExpressVPN as one of the best VPNs in the world by reading our full review or just take the bull by the horns and sign up with ExpressVPN today.

#2 CyberGhost

CyberGhost VPN

This user-friendly VPN has one of the largest server networks in the world, topping out at over 5,900 servers. Like ExpressVPN, it has several servers in Japan, making it as effective for obtaining a Japanese IP address as it is for watching live sporting events or streaming US content from within the Land of the Rising Sun.

While ExpressVPN focuses on the best server location for your desired online activities, CyberGhost makes it even easier to perform secure online transactions or stream from Netflix by offering a selection of preset profiles. It’s friendly graphics and easy-to-navigate user interface also make it ideal for beginners, while its range of customizable tools will keep more advanced users happy.

CyberGhost is one of the more generous VPNs, offering both a 7-day free trial and a 45-day money-back guarantee… its prices are also a little easier on the pocket than the likes of ExpressVPN. A reliable no-logging VPN that offers consistently high speeds, CyberGhost steadfastly finds a way around the most complex of geographical restrictions, working effectively with Netflix and providing a way over China’s Great Firewall.

Like the other Japanese VPNs discussed here, CyberGhost masks your IP address and thereby has the potential to boost streaming speeds by preventing bandwidth throttling. Find out more about the intricacies of CyberGhost’s ethereal powers by reading our full review here. Alternatively, test out its hauntingly good service by signing up with CyberGhost today.

#3 Surfshark

Surfshark VPN

We all know how much the Japanese love seafood and they will no sooner turn their noses up at shark fin soup than Surfshark’s VPN service will let you down if you’re exploring Tokyo or historic Kyoto.

Despite having only been around for a couple of years, Surfshark is already snapping at the heels of more established VPN providers, like those listed above. Its comparatively small server network comprises of just over 1,000 servers in 64 different countries, including Japan.

Not only can Surfshark give you a solid and secure Japanese VPN experience, but it can also help you stream anime and global Netflix by providing you with a Japanese IP address regardless of your actual physical location.

In addition to high speeds, an airtight no-logging policy and a firm commitment to user privacy, Surfshark has a few additional features that make it stand out from the crowd. Its Multi-Hop feature offers extra protection by sending traffic via several secure servers while its CleanWeb blocks adverts and protects against phishing and malware attempts.

In many ways, Surfshark is the baby brother of ExpressVPN and also its neighbors, with both providers choosing the British Virgin Islands for their headquarters. Currently, Surfshark is one of the most affordable VPNs, although this may change as it grows its customer base. Surfshark is also one of the only VPNs offering unlimited simultaneous connections.

Read our full review for more information about Surfshark’s anatomy and habitat, or take a leap of faith and sign up today.

#4 ZenMate

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As a Japan VPN service, ZenMate is a reliable choice even though it has servers in just 35 countries, a quarter of ExpressVPN’s distribution. Nevertheless, with 11 servers in Japan itself, ZenMate offers reliable coverage and consistent speeds, even if they are fast enough to compete with the likes of Surfshark or CyberGhost.

ZenMate is one of the few top VPNs offering a completely free VPN service, although this is too restrictive for most users, with limited speeds and access to only four server locations. Having said that, its paid subscription plans are surprisingly affordable, and it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

There are a few concerns about ZenMate’s no-logging policy, however, and its headquarters are situated in Germany which, as part of both the five and 14-eyes intelligence-sharing alliances. Although ZenMate makes much of Germany’s “strict” privacy laws, what this means for the user is that it isn’t really a no-logging VPN at all. In fact, ZenMate is required to log your original IP address whenever you connect to one of their servers.

While ZenMate seems trustworthy enough, most cybersecurity experts would recommend a VPN like ExpressVPN which has proven its no-logging policy in court, rather than risking the sharing of sensitive or identifying data with your VPN provider.

ZenMate nonetheless has its strengths and is consistently capable of accessing BBC iPlayer from overseas. It also has a clear, if not minimalist, user interface, effective DNS leak protection, and the option to automatically activate VPN protection every time you connect to the internet.

#5 ProtonVPN

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With its austere grey and green user interface, ProtonVPN seems to take cybersecurity a little more seriously than the likes of TunnelBear or CyberGhost, but that isn’t necessarily reflected in its capabilities.

Like ZenMate, ProtonVPN has a limited free version that gives users medium speeds and access to three server locations. Its paid plans are a little pricier, however, starting at $4 per month and escalating to a whopping $24 per month for its Visionary plan. Having started life as an encrypted email service, ProtonVPN includes this in its premium plan and also allows for 10 simultaneous connections.

ProtonVPN’s Secure Core servers operate in a similar manner to Surfshark’s Multi-Hop feature, giving users the benefit of additional protection. It also offers a Tor over VPN option for those wanting to dive into the Deep Web and strong DNS leak protection.

ProtonVPN is a solid Japan VPN service and, with 17 servers in Japan, its coverage is impressive. There are even three servers in Japan that free users can access, so if you need a Japanese VPN but don’t want to pay for it, ProtonVPN is definitely worth a look. If that’s enough to convince you, why not sign up with ProtonVPN today? If not, find out more in our full review, including details of its encrypted email service and seven-day free trial.

Japanese Cybersecurity and its Constitutional Conflicts

With one of the fastest internet speeds in the world, streaming live sports or movies while in Japan is straightforward and uninterrupted. High-speed Wi-Fi is being rolled out in preparation for the 2020 Olympics, and with the Japanese constitution committed to protecting freedom of speech, on paper, visitors to the country should enjoy the same freedoms and speeds as they do at home.

Unfortunately, the reality is a little different, and despite the constitution stating that “No censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated”, last year Japanese authorities ordered ISPs to block manage piracy sites and remove offensive content.

Furthermore, back in 2017, Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, warned of the potential for Japanese authorities to roll out mass online surveillance after purchasing the data collection system, XKEYSCORE. Although the use of such a tool is “not permissible” under the constitution, given the changing face of internet freedom worldwide, it seems almost anything is possible.

Not only is the Japanese government looking to intensify online surveillance with its controversial anti-conspiracy bill, last year, its cybersecurity minister, Yoshitaka Sakurada, admitted, “I don’t use computers myself” which is either very ignorant or very clever, depending on your perspective. He’s certainly impervious to malware but is he capable of making the right decisions with regards to online privacy and government policies?

Whatever happens in Japanese cyberspace, we believe prevention is better than cure, which is why we recommend investing in the best VPN for Japan before heading over here.

Animated about Anime? Japan’s Best Streaming Sites

Given how readily available high-speed internet connections are in Japan, it’s hardly surprising that streaming sites are on the up and up. The big international players, like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Netflix all enjoy an ever-increasing following, while local streaming sites, like Tsutaya, are giving them a run for their money.

J:COM has a decent range of content but a rather complex set-up process could be off-putting for those with limited Japanese, while Hikari TV boasts over 21,000 movies and binge-worthy series. This is a drop in the ocean compared to Rakuten TV which has around 180,000 titles and costs the equivalent of around $9 per month.

Without a Japan VPN service, however, accessing such content is almost impossible, unless you’re actually in Japan at the time. Fortunately, most of the VPN providers listed here have servers in the country, which means they can provide you with a fake IP address that will unblock Japanese streaming content and give you the freedom to enjoy the latest anime, TV series, and both Korean and Japanese movies.

Conclusion

High-speed connections and minimal censorship make Japanese cyberspace very attractive and it’s certainly much easier for visitors to maintain their social media activity from Japan than it is in many other Asian countries. Nevertheless, with the government introducing new laws, like the anti-conspiracy law, it’s only by using a Japanese VPN that you can be sure of a private, uninterrupted online experience.

The best VPN for Japan is ExpressVPN, with its high speeds and proven no-logging policy. It’s not the only service that can protect you against government surveillance and cybercrime, however, and CyberGhost and Surfshark are both snapping at its heels and capable of providing a reliable Japan VPN service and a fake Japanese IP address.

As Japan gears up for the 2020 Olympics, it looks like internet freedoms and cybersecurity legislation have only one way to go – and that particular path may mean better protection against “the potentially devastating impact of attacks on critical infrastructure or communications networks”  but greater online surveillance and less online privacy and freedom.

By investing in one of the best VPNs for Japan, you can enjoy a private and anonymous online experience without anyone watching over your shoulder.

1 comment
EllaV says:

I honestly think that nordvpn is one of the few really good vpn’s for Japan, loads of servers there. But, before I used nordvpn I was a user of Zenmate, but eventually had to switch because of a few problems..