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Business

iPhone 7 -- made for Japan

PALO ALTO, U.S. -- Apple has upped the ante in the Japan smartphone game by introducing country-specific hardware in its iPhone 7.

The new handset will come with the same e-money technology that many Japanese commuters already rely on every day to get them through the ticket wickets at train stations.

Apple's event in San Francisco on Wednesday had other big news for and from Japan. The event featured an announcement that "Super Mario Run", a new entry in Nintendo's popular game series, will be released for iPhones. And "Pokemon Go," the blockbuster game that Nintendo co-developed, will have an Apple Watch app.

The e-money technology comes in the form of the FeliCa chip, which enables electronic payments under the Suica system.

Those chips are now embedded in cards issued by East Japan Railway, the main railway operator in eastern Japan. Commuters can also make deposits, then use the cards to buy goods from vending machines and stores.

Starting in late October, Suica on iPhone will become available for users who register their handsets for the service. The phones can then be used to pay for goods and services wherever Suica cards are accepted, the company said.

Apple Pay, Apple's smartphone-based payment service, will also be launched in Japan.

Masaki Ogata, vice chairman of JR East, attended Wednesday's event and indicated that the company will talk with Apple on ways to make the iPhone-based Suica system available to foreign tourists to Japan.

It is rare for Apple to release country-specific versions of its gadgets.

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