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Telecommunication

Japan's 3 mobile carriers to cut rates as Suga dials up pressure

Prime minister's initiative gains momentum with all falling in line

SoftBank phones at a shop in Tokyo. (Photo by Masayuki Terasawa)

TOKYO -- SoftBank will consider lowering its wireless rates, the company told Nikkei on Wednesday, joining Japan's two other major mobile carriers in hewing to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's call to slash fees.

Suga has been a vocal advocate for lower mobile rates, saying they could be as much as 40% cheaper when he was chief cabinet secretary in 2018. But rates have remained high compared to those of other countries.

According to the Communications Ministry's study of mobile rates in six big cities around the world, Tokyo was the second-most expensive market for standard data plans and the most expensive for plans offering large amounts of data, based on NTT Docomo's rates.

Earlier, President Jun Sawada of Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, the parent of Docomo, said the company was looking at rate cuts in response to customer's wishes. KDDI President Makoto Takahashi also said his company would consider lowering rates, noting that the government has asked for rates comparable with overseas levels.

The heads of Japan's major mobile carriers have met with Communications Minister Ryota Takeda to discuss the matter.

Takeda is scheduled to meet with consumer groups on Thursday to discuss mobile rate cuts. Groups that support single parents, homemakers and freelance workers will be among the participants.

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