The “Uncool” Japanese iPhone 7


iPhone 7 phones sold in Japan carry the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications regulatory mark engraved on the back due to the iPhone 7 FeliCa Apple Pay support. This has raised some eyebrows in the  Japanese press as no other FeliCa enabled feature phone or Android smartphone carries the MIC regulatory engraving on the back of the case.

Sankei Newspaper journalist Reo Otsubo san suggests it is due to the stronger FeliCa NFC radio signal in iPhone 7 compared to Android smartphones. According to the Japanese law regulating radio frequencies, any IC chip device emitting more than 500 µV (microvolts) per one meter up to a distance of three meters is required to show an easily visible MIC issued numbered regulatory mark on the device.

He asked Sanae Takaichi, Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications about it at the  September 20 MIC press briefing. My translation of the Japanese transcript:

Reporter: Reo Otsubo of the Sankei Newspaper here, the MIC regulatory mark (characters) engraved on the iPhone 7 (back) has been in the news, do you have any comment?

MIC Minister Sanae Takaichi: Regarding the regulatory mark (characters) on iPhone 7, it is there in accordance with the Japanese law governing radio frequencies. iPhone 7 incorporates electronic wallet functionality, and the ability to read and write Suica and IC chip data. Because it falls under the conditions of the above law, the MIC has issued a regulatory specification numbered mark. We do not see a problem with that. However a planned revision of the law, currently in the committee workgroup 2020 white paper, recommends displaying the MIC number on the smartphone screen instead of the case. This is under consideration.

Otsubo: Displaying the mark on the screen is perhaps not so good and causes controversy?

Takaichi: What do you mean?

Otsubo: How to put it, I think people will say it is uncool. Do you see that as a problem?

Takaichi: Uncool?

Otsubo: Maybe a little, if it is a regulatory mark (containing characters).

Takaichi: Is that uncool?

Otsubo: If it is very noticeable, I think some people will criticize that.

Takaichi: It is a regulatory mark in accordance with the law. I am extremely disappointed that people find it “uncool.” I think the mark should be in where one can see it easily. We will get opinions from the necessary parties and continue discussions.

Otsubo: Thank you.

Takaichi: Thank you very much for your trouble.

The exchange is hilarious but I’m not sure why Otsubo san thinks having the MIC regulatory mark on the screen would be any more “uncool” than the current engraving on the back. I assume ‘on the screen’ means being buried on the Regulatory page in Settings, but I could be missing something, lost in translation.