Jenny Uechi more on the mark about the Japan visa – health care changes

As a follow-up to what I blogged about yesterday, I am really impressed by another article yesterday in the Japan Times, “Brace for a possible spring shock“, by staff reporter Jenny Uechi.

This is the value of newspapers and why I hope some sort of workable subscription or online payment system comes to the fore for good reporting. Right now JT is giving away a lot of this free.

In Uechi’s article, she spoke to several in-the-know people about where they see the government’s proposed changes going. Her conclusion is much what I concluded: immigration under the DPJ will probably not be draconian in applying some of the visa renewal guidelines, but the reality–the fact that people are supposed to be in these social insurance programs–won’t be going away.

Debito picked up on the topic again last night from the perspective of kicking the underdog. In situations where the employer is supposed to be enrolling non-Japanese (i.e. foreigner) employees in shakai hoken, instead they force the whole cost onto the employee. This happens—I’ve had it happen personally. But I still enrolled. (Good luck for me ever seeing that employer share, too, since it was more than 2 years ago . .. .)

But as Jenny Uechi also reports, many foreigners here try to avoid both the shakai hoken and the government coupon book ones, seeing them as a waste of money. That crowd I don’t have much tolerance for or patience with. They just make it difficult for everyone else while they save themselves some dough.

In the long-run, I’d like to see social insurances come out of everyone check directly. And employers who don’t do it—like in America—face the possibility that the government will knock on their door for the whole amount (employer plus employee share). In fact, in America, there is even a form you can send in with your return if you think you were supposed to be withheld on social security (pension).

Congress has been using that social security money since 1988 or so, instead of doing some extra borrowing. So the folks at the Internal Revenue Service definitely go looking for it.

One thing I want to point out about the article that I feel needs to be clarified. If you are an American here, you are not exempt for five years from paying in to the Japanese system. This is only true if you are sent here by an American employer from back home. In that case, they get to keep you in the U.S. social security system for up to 5 years. It’s not clear who picks up your health, but I suspect the local office has to join a Japanese run program.

If you are hired here, you are supposed to be in the Japanese system. If you are a self-employed American here, you are supposed to be in the Japanese system.

If you do self-employment work here, you need Form J/USA-6 from the local ward SIA office to establish the exemption from paying U.S. social security. Otherwise, like I said the other day, Uncle Sam might be looking for that tax.

“Totalization” refers to the fact that the years you put in with the Japanese pension system will be combined with your years back home. In the case of Canada at least, your time as a resident of Japan will also be combined if you are paying in to the Japanese system.

So for an American, you would add your credits, in the form of years, under social security (maximum four per year) to the number of years you pay into the Japanese system. Using me as an example, I have something like 23 in America, and so two in Japan makes the 25 necessary for Japan. (I think I have 23 . . . ) Of course, in America you only need 40 credits or ten years to get something.

For many Americans, you will be paying in something like 25 or more years to American social security, unless your spouse does all the wage earning in the family. So it should not be very hard at all to qualify for Japan.

In the case of Canadians, there is no way to pick up your OAS credit for the year you aren’t in Canada unless you join a Japanese pension system.

Like I keep saying, totalization is very valuable and people gotta know what’s in it for them.