Steve Jobs's world map/dartboard has another feather protruding from it this morning. I'm happy to announce that if you had "Japan" in the office iPhone country pool then you're a winner: please collect your complementary kewpie doll. Blast, I knew I shouldn't have picked New Caledonia—I thought it would be the dark horse!
SoftBank Mobile has announced that they have made a deal with Apple to bring the iPhone to Japan—you guessed it—"later this year." There's nothing more to it than that, unless you consider that Japan has probably the largest 3G wireless saturation in the world, having been the first country to sport a commercial 3G network. Just in case you were still in denial about a 3G iPhone showing up.
Also, this development might lend a clue to Movistar's peek-a-boo act earlier this week—they totally took Japan's spot in the announcement lineup. Naughty.
That also leaves Russia and China as the two major countries in Asia without an iPhone deal. So the pool's still on, folks.