Before travelling to Japan, you have to be aware of the prepaid phone operators available in the country. Currently, there are two active 3G prepaid phone operators in Japan, namely: NTT DoCoMo, Inc and the SOFTBANK MOBILE Corp. The mobile prefix in Japan is +81. Their currency, 1 Japanese Yen = 0.008529 Euro. Electricity available in Japan is 120 Volts with an electrical frequency of 50 – 60 Hertz. Time Zone GMT +10.
Prepaid phone cards in Japan are really not that popular and it is quite impossible for foreigners to purchase prepaid phone cards. However, Softbank Mobile Corp. just started to offer the first 3G prepaid phone offer in February of 2008. Softbank’s prepaid phone service is available to foreigners which are not resident of Japan that only rents a phone or a sim card for the days of their stay in the land of the rising sun.
The first available mobile phone operator in Japan is the NTT DoCoMo, Inc or Docomo. This mobile communications company was established in 1991 that is now the predominant prepaid phone operator in Japan. The word DoCoMo means “do communications over the mobile network” that came from the work dokomo that means “everywhere” in Japanese. Docomo offers mobile, data and multimedia services. It provides 2G (mova) PDC cellular services on the 800 MHz band, 3G FOMA WCDMA services n the 2 GHz (UMTS 2100) and 800 MHz (UMTS 800 (Band VI)) and 1700 MHz (UMTS 1700 (Band IX)) bands and 4G LTE services. They are the first mobile communications company in the world to offer 3G services based on WDCMA which eventually led to global recognition. Docomo also launched “Osaifu-Keitai,” a mobile wallet platform that enables transactions for cash, ID and more.
In Japan, more than 36 million subscribers have Osaifu-Keitai on their mobile phones. Currently, Docomo has 59 million customers that made them Japan’s largest and number one prepaid phone operator.
However, Docomo does not offer any prepaid phone services. The net frequency for NTT Docomo is WCDMA 2100. Its logo is NTT DoCoMo while it net code is 440 10.
One prepaid phone operator available in Japan is the Softbank Mobile Corp. The company was originally founded in 1981 as the mobile division of Japan Telecom under the name of Digital Phone. J-Phone Co, Ltd. was formed in 1999. In 2001, J-Phone Co, Ltd. became an affiliate of the British mobile phone company, Vodafone. In 2006, Vodafone sold the company to Softbank and changed its name to Softbank Mobile Corp. The company offers 2G and 3G mobile phone services. Currently, Softbank Mobile Corp. has approximately 25 million subscribers.
The prepaid phone card name for Softbank Mobile Corp. is called “SoftBank 3G Prepaid Service.” The activation fee for this prepaid phone card is JPY 105 per day (because it is considered only as a rent). There is no expiration for the prepaid phone card as long as you pay JPY 105 per day. The net frequency for Softbank Mobile Corp. is WCDMA 2100. The logo for this prepaid phone card are Softbank and Vodafone JP while its net code is 440 20. Softbank 3G Prepaid Service offers calls from Monday to Sunday: voice calls for JPY 90 and video calls for JPY 160.
Additional Costs and Services:
- SMS to Softbank – JPY 15
- International SMS – not available
- You can get unlimited messaging (SMS, S-Mail) for JPN 300 per month
Voicemail: Not available
Data Calls: JPY 0.32 per KB
International Calls: International prepaid phone calls available, see here.
International Roaming: Not available
- National calls – 6/6
- International calls – 30/30
- JPY 3000/3000, 60+360 days
- JPY 5000/5000, 60+360 days
*Before buying a SoftBank 3G prepaid phone card, tourists should need an initial application. For more information, see here.