Gov't to ask mobile carriers to stop charging for switching providers


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17 ( +17 / -0 )

In my native country, I bought my sim card in a convenience store, a transaction that took approximately 30 seconds and no paperwork and cost around 800 yen.

In Japan, it took four hours, reams of paperwork that included the submission of my passport and visa and a dozen phone calls by 2 staff members to some data center, at Y Mobile. When I returned later to return a defective handset they sold me, they asked to handover my passport and gaijin card again, even though I told them they already have copies in their records. They insisted.

When people try to tell me Japan is ultra convenient and hi-tech, while my country is not, I like to tell them of this experience.

And when Masayoshi Son he can bring amazing Japanese efficiency and convenience to the US wireless market, I can only wonder what narcotics he's been taking.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

About time! This stupid arcane practice should have been shelved decades ago.


Its Japan.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Wow! What year is it?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Ask! Urge! Suggest! Recommend! It's all the same lip service from a spineless government! Remember Abe 'urged' businesses to increase salaries after he gave them all tax cuts and we all know how that went, don't we?

Japanese business culture is full of these rip-off charges. Anybody who has rented an apartment or car parking space knows about it too. You sign a one or two year lease and they charge you an extra one month's rent to renew your lease as well as the one or two months 'gift money' you pay when you move in. Then, there is the 'table charge' at restaurants for which you get a little dish of cat food. And, don't get me started on Japanese removal companies. They quoted me ¥150,000 to have two men moved a single person's apartment 3k away in only one load. How can they justify that amount for maybe 4 hours work for two men? I asked them to break down the quote for me and half of it (¥70,000) was an administration fee. What is an administration fee for moving furniture? It's just a blatant rip-off! That's the problem with Japan's business culture and economy. The people who do the work are not the ones getting paid for it.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

@papigiulio - I had a 2 year contract with softbank paying 7000 yen a month of which 5000 yen was to pay for the phone. So I was looking forward to finish the 2 years and only pay 2000 yen a month.

This is actually a very good point. I have an iPhone and iPad Mini under contract with SoftBank. When you sign the contract there is a break up of how much the device costs you per month over the two-year term. However, after two years the bill does not change. You continue to pay monthly instalments on a device that is already paid for. I challenged SoftBank over this and was told the same thing, "This is how the contract works." I got onto the consumers affairs in Tokyo (with the help of a Japanese person) and they told me exactly the same thing. They could not give me no solid reason why I have to continue paying for a device I have already paid for. All they said was, "Yes, that is normal for a phone contract!" Normal? As a result, I went to all the major carriers and asked them about their contracts and they are all the same. It is nothing short of a rip-off! But, what are you gonna do? You need a phone, right? Again, it's another case of the people who do the work are not getting paid for it. It's pretty easy to see how the TELCO bosses get so rich so quickly when they are ripping people off for devices they have already paid for!

9 ( +9 / -0 )

In San Jose now, where a big topic is the e-sim, which would enable jumping between providers easier than changing a pair of loafers. This will be a game-changer if the megaproviders do not crush it.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The charges are a ripoff. The ones talked about in the article are two different things though.

You only pay to switch providers if you carry a number over, called MNP. If you get a new number, you do not pay.

You pay to terminate a contract if you have a (usually two year) contract with a penalty clause, often referred to as a "shibari". Most contracts with a major operator only give you one month to break contract without a penalty, before auto-renewing. The big three all have shibari, but many MVNO companies don't.

Both charges are a ripoff, but it is only the former MNP one that every company charges. You can avoid shibari charges by avoiding the big three.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

This does not make sense. If the contract is done, isn't it ended, which allows the user to change? So does this mean that the original contract is false?

Welcome to Japan. I had a 2 year contract with softbank paying 7000 yen a month of which 5000 yen was to pay for the phone. So I was looking forward to finish the 2 years and only pay 2000 yen a month.

After 2 years they wanted to renew my contract and make me pay 8000 yen, I asked why but they said the new contract works like that or something, anyway i couldnt get out of paying such a steep price to which I gave them the middlefinger. I left softbank, bought a simfree phone and got docomo ocn.

Now finished paying of my phone and only pay 1500 yen a month. I recommend everyone to leave the big 3 and go for a simfree phone.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

This is absolutely crazy, but not unexpected. This is Japan, after all. I just had to pay 3000 yen for MNP, although I did so because I got a 5000 yen discount on my new SIM free smartphone, and a 10,000 yen cash back if I stay with the new company for a year. Although I only paid 1 yen for the new SIM card, the basic price (which I paid first time round) was nearly 3000 yen. For a SIM card!!!!! Only in Japan. SIM-free is the only way to go here.


No, it's not efficient or convenient in Japan. You can't even get prepaid here without handing in your private details. I know, ore ore scams and what-not, but why does every other country manage to offer these things without all the fuss? Whenever I go back home, I just pop into the local supermarket and I can get a prepaid SIM card for my phone with no hassle. And friends who come to Japan from abroad can get a SIM card before arriving. It's actually cheaper than buying it in Japan and hassle-free.


7 ( +8 / -1 )

For customers to change carriers after their two-year contract, NTT Docomo Inc, KDDI Corp and SoftBank Corp currently require them to pay a penalty by canceling the contract before it matures or pay charges for an extra one- or two-month period to end the contract, which is automatically renewed unless users take such procedures.

This does not make sense. If the contract is done, isn't it ended, which allows the user to change? So does this mean that the original contract is false?

And, didn't the original contract include the cost of paying off the phone, thus the new contract if one continues should not have that cost in it? How can they make people keep paying the same monthly cost when the phone is now paid off?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

 when their contract matures

Maybe it would be better to ask the companies to start acting their age! It's not just this, but some charging their customers to unlock the phone so they can use it overseas!

These kinds of "Japan only" rules suck for consumers!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Were there actual costs involved in the cancellation procedures then I could understand a cancellation fee.

But the cancel fee does seem to be designed to act as a deterrent to quitting the contract for a more attractive option, than to actually collect any costs incurred.

At least they are trying to promote competition here.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I agree, SIM FREE is the only way to go. There are several companies out there. I use

I made the switch from Softbank to Docomo to DMM. My bill went from 12000-15000 yen to 3000 yen a month with DMM. I will never purchase a phone or services from the big carriers. Its all a scam designed to take your money. Go Sim Free!!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

once again, Japan Inc. taking a hard stand against unsavoury business practices

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Government has to intervene companies system of "pay to start + pay to end" and ban false clerk services.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As a few other posters stated, I had the same experience with Softbank. I assumed that after two years my phone bill would go down the cost of the phone, as I had paid it off, but instead the monthly price was set to increase. I bit the bullet, and moved to AU, but only after paying the Y5000 MNP charge. This time my AU contract expired and while I decided to keep my phone, I was able to change my contract and get one a little cheaper, with more flexibility. I still think these companies are really screwing the customers, but you need a phone, and they have an almost monopoly, so what can you do.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Zichi, i agree the MVNO move is not for everyone, especially if you are going for the latest handset.

But if you are happy with a 1-2yr old handset (which these days is an extremely capable device since the upgrades have been getting less and less impressive), the savings are big.

I will have to look into your Asahi net option though, i just moved and decided to cancel the OCN contract instead of paying 15k to install the wire into our new place. Figured I can get a better deal and possibly free installation.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I have a flip phone contract that I was forced to get from the US GOvt. Social Security. They demanded we get a phone to be able to log in and look at our SS records. Well, there were so many complaints, that they back stepped. But, I got stuck with a stupid phone I do not need or use.

Contract comes up in August. I am looking for a good fight, because most of the cost monthly was to buy the phone.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The big three companies, and some MVNOs too, use the "free" or "discounted" handset as another bind/trap (shibari) to keep you with them.

The free phone you get is paid off in the form of installments for 24 months. With the super expensive new Iphones it's 48 months (!) While making these installments, they give you an equal discount, making the phone sound free or cheap. If you leave early, you have to pay off the rest of the phone, which makes sense. What doesn't make sense is that when the phone is paid off, the discount disappears! So you end up paying the same every month for using an old handset that you 100% own. This works as a ruse to get you to buy a new handset from them and trap yourself for another 24 months.

fwiw, I pay 3000 a month for full-speed 6GB (limited speed after) and free calls up to 5 minutes long. They "gave" me the handset, which is a sim-free Huawei p10 lite, worth about 22,000 yen. It's UQ mobile, so it uses au's bandwidth, but only the 4G. In the odd-remaining 3G only places I won't get a signal.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Strangerland and Zichi

thanks guys. I'm really clueless with the modern tech suppliers.

how does one go about getting their iPhone unlocked? I don't need a new dumbphone.

P.S. I never buy the AppleCare.

1 ( +1 / -0 )


you are a wealth of info. Thanks

goodluck with you're paintings.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just curious how much you guys are paying for your sim free phones.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Its gotten a lot better for consumers here now for sure, nice to see the government applying more pressure on the big three.

Just to clarify it for those that don't know...with the "SIM FREE" (ie Unlocked) talk... yes if the phone is from overseas it will need to be unlocked to connect to one of over 20 MVNO's (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) available right now for cheap plans. All of these MVNO's are actually using one of the big three network carriers, Docomo/Softbank/AU... so if your current phone is locked to Docomo for example you technically don't even need to get it unlocked, just choose an MVNO that use the Docomo network such as OCN/IIJ/LINE MOBILE etc and you are good to go.

I have been on IIJ for over 2 years, paying around 1700YEN/month for 3GB of data.... moved from Docomo after 15 years... was paying 5500YEN/ month.... so saved a lot.

If you are comfortable buying a phone outright or already have a handset you own that is SIM Free or a Japanese model, there is really no reason to sign up with or continue contracting with any of the big three directly.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just curious how much you guys are paying for your sim free phones.

Depends on what you are looking for, what you want to use your phone for and which provider you are using. I paid 5000 yen a month for 2 years for the iphone 6s simfree.

Then had Docomo OCN for 1500 yen / 15GB a month . But I cant find this plan online, only these 3 plans by NTT:

Either way, there are many other much cheaper plans as other users have said. Im a heavy internet user so I need a lot of GB which brought me to OCN.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Had we not spoken with au the contract renewal would have happened automatically.

YES, watch out for this! This is a sneaky move. Make sure you sign off at the end of your contract or your f****d.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@papigiulio and @disillusioned

If you looked at the phone contracts when you signed up, you would have seen that the basic monthly fee with Docomo, Softbank and also AU, is 8000yen a month. This is the price you pay if you walk in off the street with an existing Docomo or whatever phone, and just want a sim card. This gets you the unlimited calls, and 7gb of data or there abouts. Until a few years ago it was broken down into 1000yen for the phone number, and 6000yen for the data for a total of around 7000yen. Either way, this is the basic charge.

When you buy a phone from them, on a payment plan, they give you a discount, that mostly covers the phone repayment costs. Think of it as a cheap/discounted phone. But, once the phone is paid off, the discount stops. Nothing dodgy or sneaky there. Just that it was a discount for the phone payments, which you are no longer paying. The trick here, is to upgrade your handset, so that you can continue getting that handset discount. and perhaps sell your old phone or something. An even better plan is to change providers during that golden "contract free month", because switching providers often comes with cool bonuses like cashback offers, or even a 'free phone', which still has the monthly payment discount applied. This means that although you dont need to pay off the phone, you still get the discount - result is a monthly charge of only 3-5000 yen.

But all of those offers are still expensive compared to signing up with an MVNO and buying a slightly used handset. My monthly charges are 2500-3000yen, and i always have a decent phone.

I think most of the complaints about the fees/monthly costs here are mainly due to people not understanding the phone contracts, or discounting system. There is really a lot of ways to save on phones here, but you need to read up on them and of course speak/understand the language. There was discussions on 2ch about how to end up with a brand new phone with a monthly fee of only 1000yen, but it involved signing up for multiple contracts/offers, canceling, selling phones etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So what do I do if I have AU, 2 year contract is over and am happy enough with my iPhone 6+? Use it mostly for reading and tired of the end of the month "slow down" because I've exceeded my data limit?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So what do I do if I have AU, 2 year contract is over and am happy enough with my iPhone 6+? Use it mostly for reading and tired of the end of the month "slow down" because I've exceeded my data limit?

Get your phone unlocked, cancel your contract, and move to a cheaper MVNO.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Two broken screens.

maybe stop throwing them across the room : )

0 ( +0 / -0 )

zichi - under the AU scheme you describe, you can update your phone but, in the case of the iPhone X the contract will become 4 years instead of 2. .... so if you do update, be wary that the Apple Support only lasts 2 years and after that you're on your own.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

wipeout - using the SkyPe App on the iPhone is a bad idea, since being taken over by Microsoft, you will now find that your user id is being shared in just the same way that other unknown peoples Ids appear within your contacts list. Probably best to use some other conferencing/call system.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

zichi - the unlocking iphone charge, is essentially the charge to move to another carrier from AU - the subject of this article.

Since iPhone 6 the phones have been unlocked anyway, you can simply insert a new sim card from another carrier and continue.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't think iPhones from a provider come unlocked. You can't simple just insert a sim from another provider.

My iphone 7, from Softbank, required unlocking before I could used other SIM cards. Cost me 3500 yen. Well worth it though - I pick up a new SIM card for each country I visit, much cheaper than Softbank's roaming rates.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thanks for the info and now I will go crazy trying to decide to change from Yahoo BB which no ones mentions to another system with a flip phone.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@zichi... I know for a fact that you can take an iPhone 6 and use a Sim card in it from another countries provider... I did that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Infact I have also done the same with my iPhone 8 too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Telecoms companies will simply rename the charge to move, as an administrative fee.... and argue that it's costs them resources to delete your account. So the charge will be likely to stay.

Just as Bank Charges for sending money overseas will be likely to stay.. :-(

And if anyone finds a way to circumvent those charges, they will be deemed a Criminal.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think the govt. also did the same "asking" to allow the mobile providers to unlock their phones and they all complied, so hopefully it will be a similar result here as well.

I think with all the new competition with MVNO providers, the big 3 must be getting worried and thinking of ways to be more competitive since the constant high speeds might not be enough for some to offset higher charges. I left AU several years ago because I was paying a lot for 7GB of data which would be quickly eaten up by watching streaming video, so I went to an MVNO to pay less for more data. Now I see that the carriers have much higher data limits, so maybe price competition will also come into effect soon.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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