Suga instructs minister to achieve lower mobile phone fees

©Kyodo News

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday instructed the minister overseeing telecommunications to achieve lower mobile phone fees, which are said to be high compared to other countries.

"We will make every effort to hammer out solutions as soon as possible, as the matter is directly related to the daily lives of people," Ryota Takeda, minister of internal affairs and communications, told reporters after meeting with Suga at the prime minister's office.

Takeda said the government will aim for a considerable cut, adding, "It wouldn't be much of a reform if we settle with (a cut of) 10 percent or so."

The communications ministry's survey earlier in the year found that a monthly fee for heavy mobile data usage in Tokyo of 8,175 yen ($78) for 20 gigabytes was the highest charged by carriers in six major world cities, as of March. London's 2,700 yen was the lowest.

As for data usage up to 2 and 5 gigabytes, New York's monthly charges were the highest, followed by Tokyo.

Suga has been calling for a drastic cut in mobile phone fees in recent years through increased competition among carriers. He said in a speech in August 2018 when he was chief Cabinet secretary that mobile phone charges could be reduced by 40 percent.

Japan's wireless communication market has been dominated by three major operators, NTT Docomo Inc., KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Corp.

"In some countries such as Germany and France, (mobile phone fees) have been lowered by 70 percent" after promoting fair competition, Takeda said.

He also said he will listen to the opinions of both mobile phone service operators and their customers before drawing a conclusion.