Are you a long-term resident of Japan seeking a reliable Internet connection? We explain how to get the best telecom services in Japan as well as the finest fiber-optic Internet service providers in Tokyo and around the nation, comparing pricing, transmission speeds, and English and foreign language assistance.
Japan today has one of the most modern communication networks in the world. For example, the Japanese government’s Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said in 2008 that around 75 million individuals utilised mobile phones to access the Internet, accounting for approximately 82 percent of individual Internet users.
According to the results of a research report issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (Soumu Shou) (“MIC”) in March 2017, businesses related to telecommunications and information, which include, among others, the telecoms and internet infrastructure sectors, generated approximately 14,872 billion yen in annual sales for the fiscal year (“FY”) of 2019. For fiscal year 2019, the broadcasting sector earned around $2,766 billion in yearly revenues, which included, among other things, audio-visual material distribution through broadcasting.
There are several prominent operators in the various telecommunications and information businesses, including Nippon Denshin Denwa K.K. (“NTT”) group companies, particularly NTT East Corporation (“NTT East”), NTT West Corporation (“NTT West”), and NTT Docomo Corporation (“NTT Docomo”), KDDI Corporation, and Softbank Corp.
In addition, Rakuten Mobile Inc., which got 5G radio spectrum from MIC, entered the mobile telecommunications market in 2019. Several major broadcasting firms, including Nippon Television Network Corporation and Fuji Television Network Inc., provide television programming via terrestrial-based television transmission. Nihon Housou Kyoukai, which is unique in being a nationwide public broadcasting agency, is also a major supplier of television programming. Skyperfect JSAT Corporation and Jupiter Telecommunications Co., Ltd. are the two biggest participants in satellite-based television transmission and cable TV broadcasting. Japan entered the twenty-first century after reaching widespread saturation with telecommunications devices. For example, the government’s Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said in 2008 that around 75 million individuals utilised mobile phones to access the Internet, accounting for approximately 82 percent of individual internet users.
A more Effective Communication than before
Fast advancements, breakthroughs, and diversity in communications technology, such as optical fibre cables, communications satellites, and fax machines, fueled the communications industry’s rapid expansion in the 1980s.
Japan also had over 12,000 television channels in 1992, as well as over 350 radio stations, 300 AM radio stations, and 58 FM radio stations. In the 1980s, broadcasting advancements included sound multiplex (two-language or stereo) transmission, satellite broadcasting, and the launch of the University of the Air and teletext services in 1985.
Japan entered the twenty-first century after reaching widespread saturation with telecommunications devices. For example, the government’s Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said in 2008 that around 75 million individuals utilised mobile phones to access the Internet, accounting for approximately 82 percent of individual internet users.
The incumbent operator and market leader, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation has had a significant impact on the government (NTT). NTT was created and the government required the 1G NTT system. In addition, a Japanese variant of the US AMPS system [Japan total access communications system (TACS) standard] was employed. The NTT also created the 2G PDC and PHS (short-range) systems, albeit this time international businesses were permitted to participate in the development. Between 2G and 3G, there was a transition. Until then, Japan’s exclusive technology had a limited degree of dissemination. Mobile telecommunications had become a worldwide sector, and the Japanese approached European companies to collaborate on the creation of a 3G system. Two standards groups, ARIB and TTC, were in charge of coordinating the standardisation activities, in which different enterprises might participate. The NTT proposal was picked once more. Because the government does not require a 3G technology, both the W-code division multiple access (W-CDMA) and CDMA2000 standards were used. W-CDMA was chosen for continued development by the 3G Partnership Project (3GPP) forum.
Carriers and Simcards you can choose
A phone contract with one of the three main carriers can cost up to 10,000 yen per month in return for consistent speeds and extensive support. If you want to save money, we recommend looking into one of the low-cost cellphones and SIM cards. The most basic plans start around 2,000 yen per month.
GTN Mobile is designed for inhabitants who are not Japanese nationals. They provide multilingual service and accept contracts accompanied by a certificate of residency and a student ID card.
In addition to low prices, the programs do not require a commitment. If you are in Japan for a working holiday, a study abroad program, or a short stay, this service is ideal.
You may pay your monthly expenses at a convenience shop using GTN Mobile. It is not necessary to have a Japanese bank account or credit card. You may, of course, pay using a bank account or a credit card.
Rakuten Mobile, which was launched in 2018 by the e-commerce corporation Rakuten, is a newcomer to the carrier market. There are no contract terms, and if you purchase on Rakuten’s online marketplace, you will earn double Rakuten points.
HIS Mobile is a phone service provided by H.I.S, Japan’s largest travel agency. They provide both low-cost local SIM cards and international SIM cards.
In comparison to other budget carriers, IIJmio began operations in 2012. The low-cost programs are particularly popular with overseas students.
To get a Y!mobile SIM card, go to one of their locations or select Softbank outlets.
While most low-cost SIMs use data lines from major carriers, Y!mobile uses Softbank’s line, which is its parent business. This allows Y!mobile to provide more dependable connections.
Despite being a low-cost mobile phone service provider, UQ Mobile purportedly provides the quickest data speeds. They provide innovative solutions to save money, such as a data-savings mode that disables data consumption for social media networks.
Online registration for LINE Mobile is available. The registration process is straightforward to grasp because of basic menu selections. Users may pick between Softbank, Docomo, and au cellular lines.
Furthermore, LINE Mobile has a plan that does not include social media in the overall data use.
In compliance with the Installment Sales Act, SoftBank may request your income and other details in some instances. Students, housewives, and other customers who do not have an income will be required to give proof of their family income, so please come to the shop with the householder or make arrangements for the householder to be reached over the phone while applying at the shop.
According to Article 35-3-3 of the Installment Sales Act, you must provide proof of your income.
Residence Card ＋ Passport
Special Permanent Resident Certificate
Individual Number Card
Credit Card/ Cash Card
MNP Reservation Number
There is a vast range of Japanese mobile phone plans to suit every sort of user, from the heavy data consumer to the long-distance talker who never hangs up. All three carriers provide a variety of contract options based on data consumption, minutes, and texts included in the basic plan. Contracts can be pre-paid or long-term, with the latter often having a contract period of 1-2 years. The following is a general overview of the plan alternatives accessible to you throughout your stay in Japan. More information about the various contract kinds may be found on the websites of each supplier.
Contracts with Major Carrier
You get a new (sim-locked) phone with this sort of service. Prepaid SIM cards typically cost between 3,000 yen and 5,000 yen, depending on the provider, and both have expiration dates.
The main benefit of pre-paid credit is that once you pay it, you have complete freedom in how you use it–the only thing to be mindful of is the expiration date, which is discussed below.
With this plan, you receive a new subsidized, SIM-locked phone and pay for it monthly along with your phone plan charge.
This is the ideal choice for people who aim to stay in Japan for at least two years. This plan is also the most convenient for individuals who want Japanese phones for the entire family–family members who use the same carrier receive savings. Because your phone is covered, changing or replacing phones (without changing your sim card) is also simple.
Unlike traditional carriers, mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs, do not control the networks they utilize and do not have their own physical storefronts. It’s no surprise that this alternative is gaining popularity because these factors contribute to decreased overhead costs and other useful advantages.
If you already own an unlocked mobile phone in Japan and choose to keep it rather than purchase a new one, this plan is ideal for you. This also offers a shorter contract than major mobile carriers, ranging from 6 months to 1 year. It is also less expensive because you are not paying for the phone itself.
All of the mobile providers provide customer assistance at their various outlets across the Tokyo area. Softbank offers four stores in Ginza, Omotesando, Roppongi, and Shibuya, all of which have English-speaking employees who can help you set up service or answer other issues. Docomo offers video customer service to non-Japanese speakers at many of its stores, which can be found on their website (denoted by the ‘TV’ sign under the list of services by each shop). AU offers English personnel on-site at several stores; you may find a store with English-speaking staff.
What You Need in order to Get a New Mobile Phone in Japan (For Major Carriers)
Getting a new phone in Japan is a lengthy procedure, so plan on spending an hour or two at the shop where you intend to purchase your phone. Although some facilities offer English-speaking personnel, it is still preferable to have someone with you to clarify things, so please bring a Japanese friend or colleague with you to assist.
Essentially, you will require:
- If you are under the age of 20, you must have a personal guarantor (along with his or her identity documents) who may sign for you. It should be noted that minors cannot apply for their own phone contracts.
- Proper identification (the safest options are resident cards,’my number’ cards, or a passport).
- Bank details – bank card or bankbook with your bank’s name and location, account name, and number. (Check with your potential carrier to see if a bank account is officially required on the day you apply.)
- A credit card – In some situations, carriers will let you acquire a contract using a non-Japanese credit card. Because each carrier is unique, you may wish to carry one just in case, especially if you haven’t yet established a Japanese account.
If you wish to purchase a two-year mobile membership, you will be prompted to select one of two payment methods: (1) automatic withdrawal from your account; or (2) direct payment (i.e., payment at a convenience store). If you select the latter, you will get a monthly invoice with a summary of your consumption and a payment slip–be aware that this option comes with an extra cost. Whichever option you select, bank information is required.
8 Cheap Sim Cards for a long term stay in Japan
MAXSIM (Softbank network)
The MAXSIM sim card offers some of the finest cost-performance of any prepaid data sim card currently available on the Japanese market. You will be given 10GB of data, which you can use until the card expires or you run out of data on that card. This sim card is available on Amazon for the low price of 1,980 yen! The only disadvantage is that this sim card cannot be recharged, and you will need to purchase a new sim card once you have used up all of the data.
If you only use your internet for the minimal necessities: navigation, messaging, and possibly short voice conversations, the Mineo puchi plan may be for you. The Mineo Data sim with 200MB capacity costs only 380 yen. You read that correctly, 380 yen, a sum readily spent on a snack at 7/11. Aside from the limited data allowance, the primary disadvantage is that the sim card cannot be recharged once it has been used.
B-mobile (7GB prepaid sim)
This B-mobile sim card provides 7GB of data with some attractive discounts for longer periods of time. This sim card is available in one-month, six-month, and a year bundles. With these reductions, B-prepaid mobile’s sim card is a good Japanese sim card for 6 to 12 months. Another significant advantage of this Sim card is that it is rechargeable, and recharging the sim is really less expensive than purchasing the sim card.
B-mobile sells two types of prepaid sim cards: one that utilises the Docomo network and one that uses the Softbank network. Because the Docomo network sim card is substantially less expensive than the Softbank network sim card, we will only include the former in our cost table below.
Iijmio is a popular Japanese SIM card option provided by Internet Initiative Japan Inc., a firm founded in 1992. In 2001, the company’s personal network service debuted as Iij Mio.
Iijmio offers three data quantity SIM card options from two major Japanese carriers, NTTdocomo and KDDI: Minimum Start Plan for 3 GB, Light Start Plan for 6 GB, and Family Share Plan for 12 GB shared by three SIM cards. You can use it for both domestic and international calling and messaging. If you solely use voice calling programs like Skype, Messenger, and Zoom instead of phoning, you can get a cheaper plan that simply includes data and SMS.
GTN Mobile, administered by the Japanese network business Global Trust Networks since 2015, is one of the top affordable SIM card services in Japan. There are numerous SIM card plans available in Japan for foreign visitors and residents.
The GTN MOBILE Lite plan, available in 3 GB and 10 GB contracts, provides the 4G network at the lowest price in Japan. The GTN MOBILE Advance 5G plan, on the other hand, consisting of 3 GB, 10 GB, and 17 GB contracts, unlocks the incredibly fast 5G network in a defined area. With such SIM card plans, you can phone and text both domestically and internationally.
Japan Wireless is one of the most popular and competitive pocket WiFi rental and SIM card sales companies, with over 350,000 users worldwide. Aside from the reasonable WiFi plan with unlimited data consumption, you can choose easy SIM card plans to connect to the internet in Japan right away.
There are three SIM card plans available for 7 GB, 10 GB, and 25 GB with the dependable NTT Docomo 4G/LTE network, which has a population coverage rate of more than 99.9%. They allow you to make free domestic phone calls. International calls are not accessible, but you can chat with people all around the world using programs like Skype and Zoom.
Sakura Mobile, which launched its WiFi and SIM card service in 2014, has given pocket WiFi rentals and SIM card sales to travellers in Japan. It provides a SIM card that works with the dependable NTT Docomo network as well as pocket WiFi routers.
Sakura Mobile offers two data plan options for SIM cards: 4 GB and 25 GB per month. Domestic and international calls and SMS are, of course, available.
Yolo Mobile, operated by the Japanese foreigner-friendly collaboration Yolo Japan, provides an affordable way for overseas visitors to obtain a domestic phone number and SIM cards in Japan. There are four SIM Card plans available, with monthly data allowances of 3, 6, 12, and 20 GB.
Its customer assistance is available in a variety of languages, including English and Chinese. International calling is not possible with the Yolo Mobile SIM card; however, you can chat with people all over the world using other programs such as Skype and Zoom.
In Japan, mobile phone service is crucial for daily living. This article discusses solutions suitable for a wide range of mobile phone users and budgets.
While none of these carriers will have any problems in cities, some are better suited to rural locations than others. Before deciding on a carrier, make sure to look at the coverage map.
In addition, certain programs have predetermined contract terms. If you cancel in the middle of your contract time, you will almost certainly be charged a cancellation fee. Before selecting a plan, read the terms and conditions. Because Japan has three main cell providers, the stores are likely to be crowded. To guarantee a seamless registration process, prepare your passport, Japanese cash card, and residence card ahead of time.
Both large carriers and low-cost SIM cards have advantages and disadvantages. Consider your priorities when looking for the best mobile provider and package for you. You will have a simpler experience looking for jobs and completing out relevant registration paperwork after you have secured a smartphone plan.