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Communications for Expats in Japan

Submitted: March 2014

When moving to a new country, one of your primary concerns would be establishing some form of communication so that you will be able to interact with not only persons in your new home but family and friends from your country of origin. Fortunately for you, in moving to Japan, you will be living in a country which is widely regarded as one of the leading innovators in the communication and technology fields.



There are three providers of landline services in Japan, NTT, SoftBank Telecom and KDDI. With regards to NTT, the largest landline provider, depending on your location Eastern or Western Japan, you will need to sign up with NTT East or NTT West.

This first thing that you should be aware of if you choose a landline service is that you have the option of buying or renting the line. This decision will obviously depend on the length of time you will be spending in Japan. The cost of purchasing a landline is a considerable upfront cost of approximately ¥37,000 (360USD) however this option means that the monthly fee that you pay will be less. You can also enquire about purchasing a landline subscription from someone who is no longer using it. If you choose this option, please ensure that the subscription is properly transferred over to you by notifying the provider of this change.

For information about the different landline services offered by the providers mentioned above, please visit the following links below:

If you will be making frequent international calls, you can refer to the links below on international calling (including calling cards):

Despite choosing a service provider, if you sign up for the MYLINE service, you will be able to choose your desired provider for each type of call (local: within prefecture, long distance: outside prefecture and international). For example, if you are registered with NTT but choose to use SoftBank Telecom for international calls you would be able to do so using the MYLINE service.

You can register for these services by contacting the customer service section on the websites provided above or visiting one of their retail shops. In order to register for a landline service, you need to have your Resident card or Alien Registration card (Alien Registration card can be used until 2015) and passport.

You also have the option of choosing an Internet based landline. With this option, both domestic and international calls can be made through the Internet network. Calls made using this service generally have cheaper rates. Alternatively you can use widely known Internet programs such as Skype to make calls.


Mobile Phones

There is more diversity in the choice of a mobile phone service provider as there are currently five such providers: au (KDDI), NTT DoCoMo Inc, SoftBank Mobile, EMOBILE and WILLCOM Inc. There is a variety of prepaid and contract plans available from these providers.

For a price comparison of the 3 major providers, au, SoftBank Mobile and NTT Docomo using the IPhone 5 for example, please see the link below:

For a general comparison, please visit the link below:

Monthly plans on average can range from ¥980 (10USD) to ¥38,000 (370USD). Most carriers offer a minimum contract period of 2 years. Therefore depending on the length of time you stay in Japan, this would be important to take into account.

Please note that you will be required to provide your resident card and passport along with your place of residence.



You can find internet plans ranging from to per month depending on service type (Fiber Optic (Hikari), ADSL, cable) monthly usage and download speed. Please see the links below for information on service providers:

While the initial fee to set up internet can be ¥20,000 (200USD), monthly fees average ¥5,000 (50USD. Please note that you must have a landline which you acquire from carriers such as NTT or KDDI.

Additionally, you can use an agency service such as BBapply in order to assist you in setting up your internet service in Japan (English language service):

Please see the link below for an overview of internet services including costs:

Alternatively, you can visit one of the many internet cafes across Japan; you can search for these using the resource below:



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