Tourists coming to Japan might soon be getting free Wi-Fi

There are some parts of the world where free public WiFi isn’t as accessible compared to other countries. Japan is one of these countries, mainly because its residents have long relied on mobile broadband for access, which is why there isn’t much need for free public WiFi. But what about tourists who come to the country and are in need of WiFi? Well the Japanese government, as part of their efforts to attract more tourists, will be rolling out a WiFi system of their own that is being aimed specifically at tourists. Basically how it works is that visitors to Japan can get an access ID either by downloading a smartphone app, or showing their passport at tourist spots or airports.

As any tourist who’s visited Japan will know, free Wi-Fi access is a lot less prevalent than in much of the Western world — a quirk of the country’s rapid adoption of mobile broadband. That’s changed a little in the past year or two, with Starbucks, convenience stores, and others rolling out various services, and according to a Nikkei report the government is planning to launch its own Wi-Fi system aimed at tourists. Visitors to the country will reportedly be able to get an access ID by downloading a smartphone app or showing their passport at tourist spots or airports, which will let them use free Wi-Fi at train stations and other locations. A similar service is already in operation by telco NTT East, but the new initiative could unify access across Japan. The government will set up a committee this summer including NTT, the Japan Tourism Agency, and others; the aim is said to be setting up a common ID system where hotels, airports, railways and so on will be able to share foreign visitors’ information. That might raise privacy concerns, but if you’re already making plans for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, rest assured you probably won’t have issues checking your email by then — the government service should be available in fiscal 2016.

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