If you’re experiencing some angst and/or financial hardship as a result of the government’s COVID-19 countermeasures, you’re not alone.
Based on guidance from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), utility companies and fixed-line and mobile phone carriers are in principle requested to be flexible in their collection of bills during this time, as many people are experiencing hardship due to the extraordinary measures being taken to help control the spread of the coronavirus.
Both individuals and companies are eligible to receive an extension on bills from these service providers, so if you are the owner of a business that is having difficulty meeting your utility and mobile phone payments, you are also eligible for the “special measures” (basically, extensions) described below.
An important thing to keep in mind is that extensions on your bills are not automatic. If you don’t call your electricity company, for example, and don’t pay your bill on time (even if you are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19), you will be charged interest on your overdue amount. Most utility companies have a grace period (about 10 days) for late payment of a bill, but they will start tacking on interest after a certain number of days past the bill due date.
If you can’t speak Japanese, you may want to have a friend call for you; but in some cases, you may be able to navigate the phone menus to get to an English-speaking customer service agent or to ask for help in English.
The list below includes the main utilities in the greater Tokyo area (and the number for KEPCO for people in Kansai) and Japan’s main mobile phone carriers. But, as mentioned above, METI’s guidance was sent to all utility companies in Japan, so there is a high likelihood that your local utility company has policies in place to help you.
The text links below will take you to each company’s webpage on their COVID-19 grace period policy (in Japanese).
TEPCO – Tokyo Electric Power Company
- Who is eligible: If you have received “emergency small-amount funds” or “general support funds” from your prefectural, city, or ward’s Social Welfare Council and are having difficulty paying your bill, you can apply for a 30-day extension on the due date for your TEPCO electricity and gas bill.
- Period: You can apply for a 30-day extension (from the due date) for the March, April, and May 2020 bill. For the March bill, an extension will only be granted if the due date of your bill is March 19th or later.
- For TEPCO customers with standard rate plans: 0120-993-052
- For TEPCO customers with newer rate plans (generally, if you signed up with TEPCO in April 2016 or later): 0120-995-113
- 9AM to 5PM, Monday to Saturday, except for holidays
KEPCO – Kansai Electric Power Company
- Who is eligible: Same criteria as for TEPCO
- Period: Same as for TEPCO
- For electricity bill: 0800-777-8810
- For gas bill: 0800-777-7109
- Who is eligible: If you have received “emergency small-amount funds” or “general support funds” from your prefectural, city, or ward’s Social Welfare Council, or if you are having difficulty paying your bill because you’re unemployed or because your company is temporarily shutdown due to COVID-19 measures, you can get an extension on your Tokyo Gas electricity or gas bill.
- Period: One month extension on the February, March, and April bill.
- TEL: 0570-002211
- For IP phones or from overseas: 03-3344-9100
- 9AM to 7PM, Monday to Friday
- 9AM to 5PM, Sunday and holidays
- Who is eligible: If you are having temporary difficulty paying your bill due to a drop in income, you’re eligible to apply.
- Period: Up to a four-month extension on the due date. The grace period may be extended beyond four months, depending on your circumstance.
- Tokyo 23 Wards: 03-5326-1101
- Tamagawa (Western Tokyo Cities): 0570-091-101
- If your phone cannot be used to navigate automated menus, please dial: 042-548-5110
- Who is eligible: Any customer who requests an extension on fees due as of the end of February 2020 or later will receive an extension on the due date until the end of May 2020.
- Period: As described above. The grace period may be extended beyond May, due to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 situation.
- 9AM to 5PM, except for Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and end-of-year holidays
- Who is eligible: Same as for NTT Docomo
- Period: Same as for NTT Docomo
- There are different contact phone numbers depending on which SoftBank service(s) you use (for example, SoftBank mobile, SoftBank Hikari, Yahoo!BB, ODN, Y!Mobile, etc.)
- Please see SoftBank contact numbers here (in Japanese. Copy and paste into Google translate!)
- Who is eligible:
- Period: Same as for NTT Docomo
- For individual customers: From your au mobile phone dial 157 OR from other telephones 0077-7-111. Hours: 9AM to 8PM, year round
- For corporate customers: 0077-7007 or 0120-921-919. Hours: 9AM to 6PM, except for Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
You may also be interested in:
- Your rights as a foreign worker in a Japanese company dealing with COVID-19
- How anxious are you about the spread of the coronavirus in Japan? Resident foreigner survey results
Lead photo: iStock