Calling home for the holidays just got a bit cheaper for some phone customers in mainland Japan and Okinawa.

KDDI Corp. has reduced calling rates from on base to the United States from 6 yen to 5 yen a minute. Calls to the States — in dollars — now cost about 5 cents a minute. A two-hour call to mom or dad on Christmas Day would cost about $6 instead of $7.20.

The real savings, though, is on calls on base to cellular phones anywhere in Japan. They now cost 13 yen (about 13 cents) per minute instead of 17 yen (about 17 cents) per minute.

The rates went into effect Dec. 1 at Camp Zama near Tokyo, Misawa Air Base in northern Japan and on Okinawa bases, said Shinsuke Kurita, Tokyo regional sales department managing director for KDDI Okinawa Corp. The price change was rolled out at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station in southern Japan Oct. 1 and at Yokota Air Base Nov. 1, Kurita said.

KDDI Corp. does not service Navy bases.

The corporation wanted to reduce its calling rate to the States in time for the holidays, Kurita said, because that’s when many customers make international calls.

“The price drop for calling cell phones from on-base phones was dropped significantly since use of cell phones have spread,” Kurita said. He noted that KDDI doesn’t adjust its prices regularly, though the company tries to reduce rates at “effective times” such as the holidays.

Officials said they didn’t know how long the new rates would be in effect.

Calls to cell phones in Japan will be charged 6.5 yen at 30 second increments, said Airman 1st Class Gabriel Ruiz of Misawa’s 35th Communications Squadron. Before, customers using any portion of a minute were charged for the entire minute.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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