Cell Phone Contracts – Signing Up and Canceling, SIM Cards, etc.

Nowadays, it is very difficult to get by in our daily lives without a cell phone. Here, we describe how foreign nationals living in Japan can sign up for and/or cancel a cell phone contract.

Signing Up for a Cell Phone Contract

Billing plans, payment methods and supported devices vary according to the cell phone provider. Each provider provides unique packages, so it is a good idea to weigh them up beforehand.

Cell phones can be purchased at cell phone stores or large electronics retailers. If you do not pay for the device outright, the contract length will be a minimum of 2 years. If you cancel the contract prior to the end of that 2-year period, in many cases you will be required to pay a cancellation fee. You need to bear this in mind if you sign up for a contract while intending to stay in Japan for less than 2 years.

Items required when signing up for a contract (e.g. documents to confirm identity) again vary by cell phone provider, so you should check beforehand by visiting the store.

For a short- to medium-term stay, there is also the option of making a prepaid cell phone contract. However, the call charges may be more expensive than for an ordinary contract. You should take this point into account when deciding on a contract.

Canceling a Cell Phone Contract

Inform the cell phone provider you are contracted to that you intend to cancel the contract. Depending on the timing of the cancellation, it may be necessary to pay off the balance as well as an early cancellation fee. You should confirm all these details beforehand, including how the balance and cancellation charges are calculated. When you have decided the date and time to cancel the contract, it is recommended that you inform the cell phone company as soon as possible.

Cell Phone Services


SoftBank (SoftBank Group)

au (KDDI)

Purchasing a SIM Card

Here we introduce prepaid SIM cards that can be purchased at convenience stores and large electronics retailers, etc. You can check price plans and store locations on the company websites.

Edited by NTT TownPage

(Updated in May 2018)