Anecdotal evidence that Japan is finally enforcing social insurance enrollments

General Union (Osaka) website

I want to point this one out to the daily surfers on the topics of Japanese health insurance and Japanese pension.

Last month, there was a lot of discussion over on Debito’s blog about social insurance enrollment becoming mandatory for the visa in Japan. Probably not on the initial visa, but definitely on subsequent renewals.

There really isn’t nothing to say it can’t be made effective with the first visa, by the way. All the immigration bureau would have to do is contact the local ward office with the relevant information . . .

Everyday I hit by blog dashboard and find a handful of folks who visited here via Debito’s “Post 4026”, which I know by now is the Visa Renewal one.

In the Osaka General Union link, above, there is the story of someone down in Kyushu who suddenly learned that 50,000 180,000 yen (in arrears) of health insurance premiums had been administratively withdrawn from his bank account [or otherwise demanded by the local government health insurance office.]

What gets wild about this is that at his job (English teaching), the company refused to enroll him in the company’s Shakai Hoken program. This is the combined pension and insurance scheme where Japan has, almost ritualistically, been breaking its social security totalization treaties for years. Japanese are automatically enrolled in those if the company is on the up-and-up. But foreigners would basically have to fight for it if they get an initial “no”. And who wants that fight?

What has complicated matters over the last several years are the number of cheaters who don’t mind if they aren’t enrolled in the social insurances. They don’t pay the pension (“because no one does”–they say) and they pick up Viva Vida for their health coverage.

So there has not been adequate public pressure from the expatriate community over this unfairness. And over the treaty violation.

Back to the guy down in Kyushu. Had he been in his new company’s shakai hoken, they would have been taking out the health insurance premiums all along. And it’s normally that the company pays 50%. Whether this would mean that his salary would have been lower by the company’s share of the premium, that’s unclear.

If the company knows it has to pay these labor expenses, they can easily just change the offer on the annual salary. It makes me think, though, that the companies low ball the salary anyway, and just push the whole social insurance problem onto the non-Japanese worker.

The General Union’s angle on the thing is usually that they want you to join the union and fight for shakai hoken coverage (the full pension and health, with the minimum 50% employer chip-in). So their online pieces are going to reflect that. They’re a union, that’s what they (should) do — build membership and influence.

But that aside, it is a good idea to bring up some of this with people who will listen and say something about it. In most employer situations, that’s tough to do at work. But there isn’t any reason your respective embassy can’t be aware of what goes on with this.

And indeed, if you are of a mind to join the union in Fukuoka, Osaka, or here in Tokyo, it probably isn’t a bad move. If for one reason, that there are a number of very experienced people around those unions, who have dealt with all sorts of “foreigner issues” before. Being a member doesn’t mean you have to declare your membership to your employer.

Just remember though, that life is a lot of times “give to get”. The unionists deal with a ton of cases in a typical year of those simply looking to “get”, as if the groups are some kind of public service. Don’t try to be one of those.

A number of Japanese, when faced with the same kind of employment issues non-Japanese here face everyday, go to a union. So it’s not that unusual.