Democratic Party of Japan may delay new Japan Pension Agency

DPJ would nix launch of unified pension group

This is what I was talking about last week, when the question came up at Debito.org about whether immigration will be asking visa renewers about their public pension status.

I am not the expert of these things, but my view is that the Japanese pension system is in a state of flux. And so the people who hit my site, looking for whether they are going to have to pay up on something they were ignoring, I can only give you what I think.

As Debito’s discussion board on the matter kept growing and growing, it was clear that there are distinct strategies that people take on the Kokumin Nenkin.

1) Some pay up.

2) Some pay up voluntarily if they have to.

3) Some will pay up if they are prodded to.

4) Some are just cheaters that try to shirk it—and any other tax the comes along.

For 2 through 4, there are numerous elegant arguments as to why that’s the correct thing to do. Myself, I lump 2 through 4 into the category of non-compliers and people who are looking for something for nothing down the road.

I appreciate for some Eikaiwa kid making 2.5 million yen a year, someone coming along and saying about paying 172,000 a year into what looks like some quasi-voluntary scheme that would only pay back in the 2040’s at best, is a tough argument.

But since this is Japan, Japan makes up the rules. Right? So if it becomes DPJ (Minshuto) and DPJ thinks that pension contributions should be handled by the tax office—-not some private entity that was a payoff to LDP-connected insiders—-well, come new government time you may be getting asked things you didn’t think were coming along.

So I keep putting that argument out.

I think as the 2010’s get under way, the Japanese are going to be checking up on everything. Did you pay your taxes? Did you pay your social insurance premiums? etc. etc. It isn’t going to matter if you point to other people, Japanese people, who haven’t done these things! That’s the silliest part. You get the discussion that since half the young Japanese don’t pay into Kokumin Nenkin, the visa-status foreigner shouldn’t have to either!

Well, in a time of government reform of the program, do you really think that’s going to fly?

It’s no skin off my ass. As an American, I know I am surrounded by American tax cheats here–even if it’s a simple as not filing 1040 and declaring money that is exempt under Foreign Earned Income Exclusion anyway.

Yes, there are Americans who would owe zero tax to Uncle Sam and yet they don’t file a return because it is their spite of the tax laws. So since they didn’t claim the exemption they are technically not entitled to the exemption, and therefore cheating. The U.S. and Japan have a treaty about sharing tax information, but clearly it’s just a dead letter.

So, I mean, it’s no surprise when that culture of getting one over grows so big in an expat community. Yes, for young people it is also a matter of keeping one’s head above water. So I can see that. But you have real grown adults, in their 40’s and 50’s, pulling the same kind of shit. And then what do you say?

It will be interesting to follow this issue, particularly in the DPJ wins on August 30.