Gaijin-san Domainer: Pay rent this month… or my cell phone bill?

Welcome to another edition of the Gaijin-san Domainer.

This is David J. Walker’s second story about life, the Internet and domain names in Japan.

If you missed the first part, then by all means click here.


Overdue Cell Phone Bill: Arm, Leg or Kidney?by Gaijin-san Domainer.

David holding 200,000 yen - roughly $2,200.

David holding 200,000 yen – roughly $2,200 – to pay bills with.

On Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s second expedition to Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868), he established the first and successful treaty between the closed off civilization of Japan and the Americas.

Along with his voyage, he went with the intention to bear gifts that Japan didn’t have at the time, which included the telegraph and wire on his fleet that arrived in the Tokyo Bay.

Following the introduction of the telegraph, the media industry began to grow including newspapers, TV stations and communications.

The Japanese government held the landlines as a government monopoly under Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation until 1985 when it was deregulated for others to enter the market.

Today, 1/3rd of landlines remain in government’s hands with the remaining mobile infrastructure being an oligopoly with three main carriers: NTT: DoCoMo/Disney Mobile, KDDI: AU and Softbank/Willcom.

Having a long history of the telegraph through today with technological advances of the Japanese producing or importing smartphones which are quicker than low-end laptops, it’s a question why the Japanese didn’t follow the United States in pricing for the consumers, especially since nearly every person owns a phone in Japan.

In order to make a landline call to your next-door neighbor using KDDI as your service, it’s 10 cents every 30 seconds.

If you have the bare-bones mobile plan “S” with 25 minutes airtime, it offers free talk time within the hours of 1 AM and 9 PM; AU to AU with up to 3 predefined phone numbers, otherwise you’re charged the 22 cents every 30 seconds or 38 cents every 30 seconds to another carrier overage, rounded up from 10 and 31 seconds. Rates of this plan vary from $35 to $80 monthly based on the phone you select, the drunken texts sent or the packets used.

Here’s a much-needed summary:

  • 25 minute talk time with “S” plan.
  • 1 AM to 9 PM free talk time, AU to AU.
  • 44 cents/minute over your limit to AU.
  • 76 cents/minute to other carriers.
  • Free texting AU to AU, 4 cents per text to other carriers.
  • Without a data for 3G/4G/4G Long Term Evolution, it’s 0.1 cents per packet (0.01 kilobytes), maxing out at nearly $50 (with the exception to 4G LTE at $25 per additional gigabyte).
  • To have an “unlimited” data is another $42/month, hiking the “S” to over $77/month as a base price.

It took years for Voice over IP to catch on with marketing of Android and Apple smartphones that come with Skype and the capability to talk through the Japanese social network, LINE. However, these services are seldom used compared to other world markets.

A family “S” plan can vary from $240 to $375 a month (half of what rent would cost for a decent apartment with a nice view) – with the option to share 25 minutes.

I always wondered why the Japanese speak so quickly and have phone conversations under 20 seconds.

After many years, it’s evident now. If I must call someone, I say “Thank you very much for speaking with me…”, ensure it is as brief as possible trying to schedule a meeting as gasoline is significantly less than “JAIRTIME”.

Here is an example of a phone call that will cost you 75 cents in Japan:

Me: Hello Mrs. Jameson, I am David J. Walker with DJW Network, LLC.

Customer: Hello David! How are you doing this morning?

Me: I’m doing just fine. I’m merely calling to see if we can setup an appointment next Tuesday to discuss this proposition face to face.

Customer: Sure, let me check my calendar…  I seem to have misplaced my calendar… Ok, Tuesday is good at 11:45 AM. We could meet at Chili’s.

Me: Sounds great! See you there!

Customer: Ok, have a nice day!

Me: You too!

Now, imagine that conversation being repeated with hundreds of customers, sometimes with reminders 2 to 3 times a week each!

When I was working strictly on commission in sales, my average phone bill was $750/month for 1600 shared family minutes over 3 phones. Fortunately, my income could foot the bill, without actually losing one from collections.

Ain’t life grand in technologically advanced Japan?

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2 Responses to “Gaijin-san Domainer: Pay rent this month… or my cell phone bill?”
  1. Kassey says:

    The landline service was a ripoff. I remember I had to pay a deposit of over 60,000 yen and when I cancelled the service when I left Japan I received less than 20,000 yen. Nevertheless, I’m amazed that Japan managed to wire the whole country with optical fiber and raise the broadband speed within a very short time.

  2. David says:


    It is said (without doing research) that Japan has the fastest internet in the world. I can attest that it is fast with my 4G LTE phone having the capability of downloading at 2 megabytes a second (with a 7GB limit per month, $30/GB overage) and the fiber optics line installed in my house has a 20 MB/sec down and 40 MB/sec upload.

    In my book, I’d say that’s pretty fast for home internet that runs for $30/month (and came with a free 32″ LCD TV for a 2 year contract, $99 cancellation fee).

    As to what you said about deposits though, it’s ridiculous for renting a place because you’re never going to get the whole thing back, nothing at all or worst case, owe more.

    As far as a phone, I never had a land line. Yahoo! BB Internet came with a 050 VoIP number in which I used if I had to. Using that phone at the time cost more than a regular land line or mobile calling out to either.

    However, a deposit on a phone should be 100% refundable, but they make it (along with cable, etc.) come with the possibility of it being nonrefundable as the whole wiring system has to be uninstalled from the apartment or house when you move out. This is because you don’t own the place and can’t leave the wiring behind. It is very backwards from the States state of mind where you can leave a satellite dish up with wiring and not have a problem, as it somewhat adds value to the apartment/house because new resident don’t have to pay installation fees if they decide to become a customer.

    Nonetheless, Japan is a great place to live. 🙂


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