If you visit to Japan for various purposes such as studying and business,
you might be staying in Japan much longer than tourists.
During staying for a long period of time in Japan, disconnected to the internet is very inconvenient.
However, network conditions in Japan are very complicated and hard to understand.
And when you sign the internet contract without the knowledge, if you do not understand their contract terms well, you are likely to be charged a high amount of fee later.
In this page, I will untie that complicated network conditions, and will list several recommendations for your long stay in Japan with the best reasonable communication contract.
Network Basics in Japan
There are 4 major telecommunications operators in Japan: NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, SoftBank and Rakuten.
With any companies above, if you fulfill their requirements, you can sign a contract for data communication and voice call communication by a mobile phone or by a landline phone.
To get a contract that allows for lower telecommunications rates, the contract must be for a period of about two years. You will also need a Japanese address, bank account, and credit card in Japan.
While short stay visitors also can make agreements, the periods are fixed and you have to pay a penalty if the contract is dissolved before expiration.
For such short stay visitors, various plans with shorter contract periods (like 6 months) are offered by MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator), who use the networks by NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, SoftBank.
They are still fixed, but flexible.
Contract on Data and Voice Call in Japan
In order to make a voice call contract by a non-Japanese, payment by credit card is required.
In addition to that, submitting of the following ID combinations is necessary:
“an alien registration card + a passport”
“a resident card + a passport”
Furthermore, you basically can not make several contracts.
Meanwhile, submitting of such IDs is unnecessary for data communication only.
Prepaid SIM cards are accordingly sold at various places, including airports and retail electronics stores.
If you have a plan to stay in Japan more than 30 days, by signing a contract with MVNO, you are able to use data/voice communication relatively low cost.
As for a voice call contract again, you must submit your IDs.
Companies are NOT legal if they make a SIM card with a voice call feature available for users without a submission of ID.
3 things are required to live in Japan
The following 3 things are required to live in Japan.
Especially, the following 3 things are important to make a telecommunications contract.
- Housing Contracts in Japan
- Opening Japanese bank account
- Japanese credit card
If you can contract 3 things, you will be able to contract the same inexpensive plan as the Japanese.
However , the contracts listed above cannot be obtained at the same time; each must be obtained separately. It may take from a few weeks to 3 months. Be careful not to make any unnecessary communication contracts during this period.
Pocket Wi-Fi is the best option to ensure a stable Internet connection for the first few months of your stay in Japan.
About Fixed-Line and Pocket WiFi
Contract periods of fixed-line telecommunications are mostly 2 or 3 years.
They cost you from around 3,000yen to 5,000yen monthly, and they are stable and high-speed.
However, you have to pay a penalty if the contract is dissolved before expiration, and as for land-line, initial expenses (installation fees and handling charges) are required.
Also, the contract is automatically renewed for another period of the 2 or 3 years.
Their service are reliable, but not flexible.
If you stay in Japan less than 2 years, you may sign a contract of Pocket WiFi for the internet in your room.
Although it will cost lower than fixed-line as a whole because it does not need any installation fees, it still has a penalty for a cancellation during the contract periods, which are normally 2 to 3 years.
However, if you choose a rental service of Pocket WiFi, you can be free from such complexity.
There are lots of rental Pocket WiFi services in which you can choose a wide variety of contract periods, and a penalty is never required even if you cancel the contract during its period.
Recommended Contract for You
Staying in Japan More Than 30 Days & Less Than 2 Years: Vol.1
This recommendation is for you who want to have a mobile phone with a phone number in Japan, and want a voice call feature.
The best way to meet such needs would be a combination of a contract of a voice-call-capable SIM card and renting a pocket WiFi. The SIM card contract alone will be pricey if you use it for home-use, such as watching movies. So, I would like to recommend renting a pocket WiFi router for the data communication in your room.
Recommended Contract for You
Staying in Japan More Than 30 Days & Less Than 2 Years: Vol.2
This recommendation is for you who do not need any phone numbers in Japan.
Renting a pocket WiFi alone would be the best choice as you can make audio calls only with the data communication by using VoIP apps such as IP phone, FaceTime, and Skype.
A Benefit of Renting A Pocket WiFi for Long Term
LightPocket offers a pocket WiFi rental service for long-stay visitors.
Starting from five days, you can set a contract period whatever you like.
No cost for a long term contract. No cancellation fee applies.
And you can extend a contract period from five days.
Furthermore, you get a full refund if you return the device two days after you find out that you are not connected well.
I am Japanese and my nickname is Momo.
I have been working in the mobile telecommunications industry for about 7 years and am familiar with Japanese telecommunications services. Although my English is not very good, I would like to provide useful telecommunication-related information to those who stay in Japan as accurately as possible.