That didn’t take long. And didn’t go that far.

After some heavy lobbying from interested parties in Japan, the government kinda backed down on its promise to unlock all handsets in Japan.

In the end, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry will let operators decide if they want to unlock their phones or not, at least for the current generations of devices. Final plans of the regulations are expected for June.

The only obligation will be for the operators s to disclose which phones are unlocked in a clear way, in order to offer choice to the public.

The ministry explained its decision by saying it will allow for a test before the next generation of phone are released. The success, or lack thereof, could help it draft a more strict policy, this time possibly dictating a full unlock to the four carriers.
The absence of compatibility among certain networks was also advanced as an explanation on why a full unlock would not profit all customers.

With SoftBank having been voicing the most concerns about the prospect amongst the big four, it’s almost certain that the iPhone will remain locked for the foreseeable future (notwithstanding having its own dedicated SIM card).