Yes, the title is sarcasm.
While trying to find the time to work on a new post, I recalled a wired article from 2010 that made me chuckle (both then and now). The article is flawed because it compares the costs of the least expensive plans available between the US and other countries, thus citing Japan as an example of a country were people pay very little for mobile service.
Neither the original "think" tank study, nor the wired article, account for the fact that people in Japan use their mobile phones very differently than in the US. The least expensive Japanese plans are designed for people who rarely make phone calls and never send text messages, while the US plans (from the time when the article's data would have been collected) are for people who only make calls and send text.
Apples and oranges. A random sampling of Japanese mobile monthly invoices from around 2009 or 2010 would show the total amount to be well in excess of $18/month. Japanese carriers work very hard to maintain a bottom line above a particular threshold. People must be accustomed to seeing moderately high monthly cost of service, but I'm getting ahead into the post I'm working on.
The approximate $10 plan shown for Japan would get about 15 minutes of outgoing calls, with anything over than costing nearly $1/minute. Use it like an American and you'd be paying hundreds of dollars per month.