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Two Laws regarding cellphone in Japan : No.1 “Buying” a local SIM

There’re two laws regarding the use of cellphones and electronics in Japan which you need to be aware of as a foreign traveler to Japan.

The first one is the requirement for obtaining the local cellphone service (whether it is a prepaid contract or a postpaid one), or even a local telephone SIM, in Japan.

Since April 1st, 2006, the cellphone-related law called “the Act for Identification, etc. by Mobile Voice Communications Carriers of Their Subscribers, etc. and for Prevention of Improper Use of Mobile Voice Communications Services”, or in short, “Mobile Phone Improper Use Prevention Act (携帯電話不正利用防止法)” requires anyone who intends to have a voice-call-capable cellphone service (whether it is a prepaid contract or a postpaid one) to show a proper identification which indicates that s/he has the residential (permanent) address in Japan. A hotel address is not sufficient for this purpose.

This law became necessary because Japanese authorities, and especially the law makers, consider the fraud using the cellphones became a social problem, and the police and other law enforcement agencies want the address of all the phone owners to be registered so that, if any crime is committed using a cellphone, they can find the owner

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Cellular phone frequencies used in Japan

So, the first thing you need to know is if your cellphone is compatible in Japan.

First, there’s no 2G GSM cellphone company in Japan. If your phone is a simple talk-only or talk-and-text cheap feature phone, it may not work in Japan even if you’re going to use it on the international roaming plan from your own non-Japanese carrier. You need a 3G compatible phone in Japan.

There’re 3 major cellphone companies in Japan; NTT Docomo, Softbank, and KDDI au. If you’re from the United States of America visiting Japan and your phone is from AT&T or T-Mobile US, your phone will probably work on NTT Docomo (W-CDMA/UMTS 2100MHz or 850/800MHz) or Softbank (W-CDMA/UMTS 2100MHz) signals while roaming there, provided that your phone is compatible with 3G 2100MHz frequency. If you’re from the USA and your phone is from Verizon or Sprint, your phone will work on NTT Docomo (W-CDMA/UMTS 2100MHz or 850/800MHz) or Softbank (W-CDMA/UMTS 2100MHz) or KDDI au (CDMA2000 800MHz only) signals in Japan. If you’re from any other countries and your phone is a 3G W-CDMA/UMTS compatible phone, it will work with NTT Docomo or Softbank signals.

Here’s the list of cellphone frequencies used by

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Introduction to this blog : How to use your cellphone, iPad or other tablet in Japan.

This blog will focus on the subject of how to use your cellphone, iPad or other tablet, pocket WiFi (mobile WiFi router) in Japan; and how to find the WiFi hotspots in Japan; along with other useful information for foreign travelers to Japan, such as using credit cards and ATM there, purchasing tickets for trains, and any other information that may enrich your experiences of traveling to Japan fun and enjoyable.

I have been writing almost 1300 articles, 30-50 articles a month, on my Japanese-language blog for about 3 and half years now to help Japanese travelers to USA to understand the US cellphone situation so that they can use their phones with local SIMs and phone services to enjoy their stay here.

I have also wrote some articles about how to get the cellphone and data services in Japan for expatriates who live outside Japan, for their short stays there.

You can find my Japanese-language-only blog site here アメリカより(A Blog From America):携帯・モバイル・流通業ITブログ By A Yoshida You may want to use Google translate or Bing translate to read my Japanese-language-only blog translated to English or any other language, though the machine-translation will be terrible.

I am now starting the

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