PlayStation Network Finally Back Online, Except In Japan

Well, the great PlayStation Network outage of 2011 appears to have finally come to an end. Almost a month after the PlayStation Network servers were taken offline, services began a rolling restart on Saturday. Essentially all features – online gaming, friend lists, chat – have been restored, but the PlayStation Store currently remains down. There’s no exact word yet on when the downloadable content marketplace will return.

On Saturday, Sony executive deputy president Kazuo Hirai released a video statement, via the PlayStation Blog. He announced that most of the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services were currently being restored, apologized for the inconvenience, and encouraged other organizations to “do what Sony has done” by making data security “a full-time, company wide commitment.”

“I can’t thank you enough for your patience and support during this time, we know even the most loyal customers have been frustrated by this process and are anxious to use their Sony products and services again,” Hirai said. “I wish we could have restored the network services faster, but these attacks were serious and sophisticated, and it simply took time to install and test the new security measures across our entire system.”

If you’re anxious to get back online through your PlayStation 3, you’ll first have to change your PlayStation Network account’s password. This is mandatory, and you should be prompted upon attempting to login. There was some delay this weekend as millions of people attempted change their passwords at once, but I haven’t heard of anyone having a major problem accessing the Network now. Well, unless you live in Japan.

Kazushige Nobutani, director of Japan’s Media and Content Industry department at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, told Dow Jones Newswires (via Nikkei) yesterday that the country has stopped Sony from reactivating the services in Japan.

Nobutani stated that the Japanese regulatory agency wanted assurances from Sony that they had sufficiently protected their users’ data from another breach. He further claimed that Sony was “incomplete” – as of May 13 – in meeting some of the actions they had committed to during a May 1 press conference. What those commitments were, isn’t exactly clear.

“There were similar cases in the past that were caused by other firms, and we are asking Sony whether their measures are good enough when compared to countermeasures taken in the past,” Nobutani said.

It’s interesting to note that there have no reports of any other country’s government agencies attempting to stop the services from being restored, and no public comment as of yet from Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal. We’ll be sure to reach out to the Senator for comment.