I did a lot of blogging on this one. Additionally perhaps I am one of the few people around who has gone in depth, in English, about Japan’s social insurance systems and, particularly, pension totalization treaties. I feel people should know, and then use the information. So I am not really someone for whom the health insurance thing, the trying to get around it, is a big issue. Like, it is no skin off my ass what people do with it. But if someone asks me for advice, I am going to try and give the right answer.
To me, it looks like when Ron Kessler set up the Free Choice group, the aim was to put the health-insurance-dodge “toothpaste” back in the tube. The Japanese government had announced, that effective April 1, 2010 (start of fiscal year 2010), one of the items the immigration bureau here would ask for is evidence of proper social insurance enrollment. The shorthand for this is “Guideline Number 8” or “Guideline Eight”.
The original interpretation for this in the foreigner expat community was that having a visa renewed meant having to comply with Guideline Eight. And not complying meant no new visa. So the Free Choicers want Guideline Eight gone, and any news they get out of the government that Eight won’t be enforced they see as a great victory.
However, this is a bit of a red herring. The real rule is that all people resident in Japan are supposed to be enrolled in Japanese Social Insurance. The problem (or benefit to some) is that in the past, Japanese government enforcement of this requirement was weak when it came to the foreigner/expat community.
So these cut-rate health insurance companies popped up to cater to the gray area that non-enforcement created. And people came to think that this was OK, simply because of corruption or apathy in the last Japanese government.
I want to point out that it’s very disturbing, about what the Free Choice group has been doing, though: By focusing on Guideline Eight, they’ve suggested that the real rule (let’s shorthand that as: the Real Rule) is somehow not out there and applicable.
Also troubling is that Ron
had has been featuring a copy of a fax from a Diet member on his site, but nothing coming from the Labor and Health Ministry, which governs health insurance and pensions in Japan. And neither he nor anyone in what still appears to be a small group has even taken the initiative to contact Labor and Health.
If they’re out there “contacting 300 Diet members”, why haven’t they focused on Labor and Health? Why? Because then they would get told what the Real Rule is, and the whole purpose of the group (get out of paying social insurance premiums) would become rather redundant.
(Great, you get your visa renewed—here’s your social insurance bill.)
I’ll eat my hat when they put up a web page with a fax from Labor and Health Ministry saying that foreigners don’t have to be enrolled in social insurances here.
You won’t see that fax, though, because these guys aren’t even going there. They know what the answer is.