Apple Inc is playing Japan's top mobile operator NTT DoCoMo Inc against No. 3 carrier Softbank Corp on selling the iPhone in Japan, meeting executives from both companies, sources said on Tuesday.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs recently met with NTT DoCoMo President Masao Nakamura, the Wall Street Journal said. A company source told Reuters the meeting may well have happened.

Sources have said executives from both DoCoMo and Softbank have met with Apple executives to discuss Apple's demands over the past year to become exclusive carrier partner for the iPhone - which brings together Apple's iPod music player, a video player and a Web browser.

Spokesmen at DoCoMo and Softbank declined to comment.

Apple needs a local partner to make the iPhone launch possible in Japan to help connect to the wireless networks in the world's most advanced mobile phone market.

But both DoCoMo and Softbank executives have balked over the share of subscriber revenue that Apple is demanding, sources said.

Apple has chosen France Telecom's Orange, Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile and Spanish-owned O2 to bring the iPhone to Europe.

(Reporting by Mayumi Negishi)