The Asahi Shimbun writes that Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) plans to cut the number of mandatory payphones across Japan by up to 75%, amid a plunge in demand from the general public. The MIC’s draft proposal – unveiled on 5 April – would slash the current number of payphones installed by NTT East and NTT West from 109,000 to just 27,000.
The paper notes that Japan’s Telecommunications Business Law currently requires that one (type 1) public phone should be installed in each roughly half a square kilometre area in urban zones (preferably outdoors), and 1sq km in other regions. However, under the proposals that are due to be fleshed out this month, the MIC is looking to ease this requirement to ‘one type 1 public phone per approximately 1sq km in urban areas and one per 2sq km in other regions’. The ministry’s decision to revise the requirement reflects the widespread usage of mobile phones and the tail-off of public payphone usage over the past 20 years which means that the operators of payphones have posted continued losses due to a sharp drop in user numbers.