SoftBank joins rivals in scrapping cancellation fees after MIC nudge

27 Oct 2021

SoftBank Corp, Japan’s third largest mobile operator by subscriptions, has announced that it is doing away with mobile cancellation fees in February 2022, joining NTT DOCOMO – which scrapped its cancellation policy this month – and KDDI, which plans to do so by 31 March. Until recently, the big three players charged or charge JPY9,500 (USD80) to any customers wishing to cancel a two-year contract – effectively putting a barrier in their way if they consider switching to a rival service provider.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, on 10 May 2019 Japan’s bicameral legislature, The National Diet, enacted a legal revision of the Telecommunications Business Law designed to lower mobile phone fees and spur competition in the country’s saturated telecom market. The new law took effect in October 2019 compelling carriers to cut cancellation fees for two-year contracts to JPY1,000 or less, and also includes other changes including a registration requirement for mobile phone retailers that gives authorities greater oversight, and new penalties for companies that use misleading sales tactics. However, the mobile operators retained the charges for any contracts signed before the measures came into effect – until the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) intervened last month and called on them to review the policy.