Any of the cheap phone/data providers include coverage abroad?

I realise that there is now a large (and apparently increasing number) of service providers for talk/data SIM cards in Japan, but it seems to me that these can’t be used abroad (according to a friend who uses IIJ and a call to my current Wifi Router provider, the otherwise excellent Asahi Wimax). What I am looking for is a Japanese phone number which I can at least receive phone calls on (I can survive without making them) when I’m out of Japan. To get this, would I have to subscribe to one of the major 3? If so, then I’m going to have to go with Asahi Wimax (I will get a discount with them because I already have the router), and rely on a Skype number when I’m out of the country. It seems that you can’t even leave an automatic message on your number, saying that you’re away and asking people to send you a mail or giving them an alternative way of getting in touch.

Anyone have any other suggestions?

I looked into this a while back and I recall there being a few VOIP providers with japan phone numbers. You should be able to configure a modern smart phone to use VOIP with the normal phone app/functionality. So you could use this on a data only SIM set up, and would work anywhere provided you have a data connection (worldwide).

A Skype number is a similar solution, but I don’t think the integration or flexibility is the same as with a VOIP provider.

Thanks for the comments. However, is there any advantage of these other companies over Skype, which I already use with a Japanese 050 phone number? Do they, for example, allow outgoing number recognition? If I call someone on my Skype number, the number doesn’t show on the recipient’s phone.

What I want (and I think it may be impossible without using one of the Big 3) is as follows:

A Japanese phone number which works worldwide (for incoming calls anyway) and is not reliant on having a wifi connection.

Sakura can’t do it, IIJ can’t do it (although it does seem that they offer that as an option to corporate clients), Asahi Wimax can’t do it, but if you know a company that can offer it to individual clients, I would love to hear!

.I think other VOIP providers have much more flexibility than Skype (rerouting to phone numbers etc)

Ah, I see. I don’t know about that - you can’t use any VOIP solution without a data connection.

But is getting a data connection abroad an issue?

If it helps here’s how I manage:
I have an unlocked phone and travel a lot, getting a local data SIM in any country I’ve been to has always been pretty easy.
I have a cheap data SIM in Japan (about 2000yen/month)
I also have a cheap contract with an EU provider (costs about 1000yen/month). I can use this all over the EU, plus it has free use in a few other countries (Hong Kong, New Zealand and a quite few others)

Thanks. I have SIMs for use in the various countries I go to - mainly in Asia - and buy one for temporary use in places I don’t visit often.

I have a Chinese SIM card (I used to live in Shanghai) in one phone which I can use worldwide with global roaming, but I now want to get a Japanese one in my other phone, so that clients in Japan can call me wherever I am. That’s the problem, which I’m trying to solve. It’s inconvenient to have to ask them to call a Chinese number when I’m out of the country (which they may not know about in advance) or to have to rely on me having a Wifi connection in order to use Skype (which in theory re-routes to my Chinese number, but only sporadically).

I guess it will only be a matter of time before the cheapo companies are able (or willing) to do it.

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I’ll float the idea next time I have a meeting with each of our various telecoms partners.

Excellent! Thanks a lot. I’m sure there are many people in the same boat.