This might be a big milestone for both of Apple and the market because the California-based company will incorporate FeliCa technology, which is almost-only supported in Japan and Hong Kong, with its next generation iPhone, which is expected to be announced at September's event. In Japan, there is a matured infrastructure that anybody can pay at stores and restaurans by tapping with phones or contactless cards. Otherwise almost of trains and buses in big cities like Tokyo accept FeliCa-based contactless payments, and people can pass through payment gates smoothly.
A half of smartphone users in Japan use iPhone even though the phone doesn't support FeliCa. Therefore it has been a big hardle for people who want to use iPhone for the tap-and-pay infrastructure. This is also important for Apple. In the recent years, its market share became a big headwind for the company. The Japanese government has recommended mobile carriers in the market to change their subsidy model not to give special treatment to specific companies such as Apple. As a result, Apple now need to maintain Japanse market by implying its message that the company is still looking at the market.
After Apple decided to support FeliCa with its iPhone, the partners mentioned above are now working to their payment networks to Apple Pay. People can pay with iPhone at stores and vending machines which support such as iD, QuicPay, Suica. However, Suica, which is operated by JR-East, won't be supported until 2017 as transportation purpose. In addition, Apple has also been talking with Japanese card issuers to support international card brands such as Visa and MasterCard. They are Type-A/B based as Apple did in other countries, not FeliCa. But it takes longer than FeliCa's because NFC-ready paymant terminals are not enough deployed in Japan.