Prepaid phones to be outlawed in Japan (see update below!)

The government coalition in Japan is preparing a law to outlaw prepaid mobile phones. The reason given is that too many prepaid phones are used for crimes, e.g. the “ore ore” fraud.

The number of prepaid phones in Japan is very small, but it’s not equally distributed. DoCoMo has almost no prepaid users, and has announced to abolish this service. Vodafone has about 10% prepaid users, and TuKa about 20% – so these will suffer when prepaid phones are outlawed.

Prepay phones as a ratio of all mobile phones in Japan compared to Europe and Italy
Prepay phones as a ratio of all mobile phones in Japan compared to Europe and Italy

Update: on 12 November 2004 the ruling coalition decided on a draft law, which will not outlaw prepaid mobile phones, but will make identification requirements more strict. (See update above)

Find an updated market analysis with statistics of Japan’s prepay mobile market in our report on Japan’s telecoms industry sector

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  • I am a UK resident who , for the last 9 years, has spent about 3 months every year in Japan, mostly on business. I have a pre-paid mobile from AU. Today I tried to update the model to one which displays in English. Although I have had my existing mobile for several years now, I was told at my local AU that I could not upgrade the model unless I was a resident of Japan and showed my residency permit because of terrorism and “bad men” (I am female and 60 year old!) So— Japan is quite happy to accept some 30 million yen a year business from my small company. but I am to be classified as an undesirable if I want to upgrade my mobile. I suspect that , also, the next time I go to get a new sim card, that will be refuesed as well, causing me major difficuties in operating without a mobile. Of course, I could spend a large amount each time I come on renting a mobile from the airport, but perhaps I should just find another sourse for my business stock, and leave Japan alone!