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Why You Need a Japanese SIM Card for Job Hunting in Japan

Updated: Nov 7, 2019

By: Quilleran Cronwall

Published date: September 12th, 2019

Looking for a job in Japan is a challenging process that is made substantially easier with the help of a Japanese SIM Card. Whether you’re searching for a part-time or full-time position, listing a personal Japanese phone number is often a mandatory part of the job application process. Read on for more of the perks of having a Japanese SIM Card, and how you can go about obtaining one of your own.
Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Despite a number of popular, free messaging apps available in Japan, most employers insist that employees have a personal phone number whether they are salaried or working part time, or baito. That means that even college students looking to work minimum wage jobs need Japanese phone numbers.


As one Uzbekistani exchange student in Yamanashi prefecture put it, “I had a week to get a phone number when I applied to work at McDonald’s. The manager wouldn’t hire me without it”.


For anyone planning on working full time in Japan, obtaining a Japanese SIM Card is even more crucial. Not only does it eliminate the cost of international phone plans, a Japanese SIM card offers two major benefits that are necessary for daily life in Japan: A stable data connection and a Japanese phone number.





When Applying Directly to a Company


During the Job Hunting process, or shuukatsu, having your own Japanese phone number is important when filling out application forms for companies, or エントリーシート, entorishiito. Companies demand that this phone number is your own, as it is likely to be the way you are contacted for primary phone screenings that form the initial round of interviews for an available position. These interviews are approximately 30 minutes in length and can cover anything from questions about your personality to your Japanese level, so it’s a good idea to choose a phone plan that has ample calling time available.

When Applying Through a Recruiting Agency


If you are applying for jobs through a third party recruiting agency, then you will also need a Japanese phone number, because you will often receive calls pertaining to new positions and the status of your current applications throughout the day. A recruiter may be able to schedule you for an interview on the fly and give you the location and time over the phone while you are out and about, an essential convenience if your Japanese skills are lacking, so you don’t have to sift through emails full of intimidating Kanji while in a time crunch.


The Advantage of Having a Data Plan


As you get closer to landing a job in Japan, the human resources department of your target company will start emailing you about scheduling further interviews and necessary documents to be filled out. Responding to these emails anytime and anywhere shows that you are dedicated to punctuality and to the target company as a whole. Having access to the internet also takes away the stress of having to find the location of your job interview. In the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo, one wrong turn could get you lost in a labyrinth of side streets, causing you to be late to an interview and ruining your chances of being hired. With a data connection you can find where you need to go through navigation apps while receiving crucial email updates on the way.

A Japanese SIM card is absolutely vital to the Job Hunting process, but getting one is not as easy as it sounds. Frustration is common among foreigners shopping for SIM cards in Japan. To save readers some headache, below is a basic how-to guide for buying a SIM card in Japan, assuming you already have an unlocked phone to use with it.


How to Get a Japanese SIM Card


You’ll need to bring a few things to your nearest mobile carrier store (the most popular brands in Japan are Docomo, au, and SoftBank).




- Your Residence Card (Zairyuu card). Make sure that it is registered at your nearest city hall.

- Your Passport

- Your Phone

- A credit card (optional)

- Your “My Number Card” (Japanese social security card), if you have one.

A hanko (personal seal) if you have one. If you don’t have one, your signature can usually be used.


Most stores will have an English speaking member of staff, but just to be sure it’s a good idea to check online beforehand. When a customer service representative is ready for you, they’ll sit down with you and go over the different plans you can choose from. Remember that many Japanese mobile contracts are for one year, and that if you cancel early you’ll most likely have to pay a cancellation fee. Make sure you let the representative know that you have your own unlocked phone that you want to add a SIM card to.


Once you’ve selected a plan and filled out all the necessary paperwork, you’ll have to wait for about an hour for your contract to be reviewed by the phone company. Once approved, congratulations! You now have a Japanese phone number.

With your own phone number you’ll be able to maneuver through the maze of shuukatsu knowing that if you get the job, you’ll be ready when they call back.