How to PUK yourself…

So I’ve had this VodafoneSoftbank keitai for the last couple of years that I use whenever I go back to Tokyo, or to occasionally see what’s the latest and greatest inside one of Japan’s mobile walled gardens.  I rather like this phone:  It’s a unique reminder that being a global monster of a company does not mean you will succeed in Japan.  (Vodafone and, recently Nokia, have both gone the way of those who tried and and failed to do business in the Land of the Rising Sun.)

Anyway, I somehow managed to activate the SIM lock on this thing.  Problem is, I don’t remember setting up a PIN, and struck out three times guessing.  Now it says something to the effect of “Enter your PUK code or else” every time I turn it on.

There has been copious amounts of frantic googling.

According to the cute furry woodland creatures who dole out information in the Sofbank forums on 携帯電話最新情報, in a nutshell, I’m royally screwed. It would appear that if one mis-types the PIN three or so times, a PUK (“Personal Unblocking Key“) is then required to continue.  If this PUK is subsequently mis-entered ten or more times, then the SIM card self-destructs.  Kind of like Mission Impossible, but without the smoke.  I think.

The woodland creatures point out that I actually have to physically visit a Softbank shop and pass some kind of test of will or feat of strength or some such before they will remove the PUK lock for me.  Damn.  It’s a good think I’m heading out there next week.

Important take-aways from this post:

  1. Don’t forget the PIN to your SIM card.  If you do, call support right away.  Don’t wait for it to lock up further.
  2. Don’t assume that you will do well in Japan just because you’re a multinational economic juggernaut.

Ignoring the above advice is a really good way to PUK yourself.