Japan Pension Service is now at your service

Readers know that I am one of the few Japan-side bloggers who has been following the pension reform issue here in Japan.

It looks like the Social Insurance Agency, the former unit of government responsible for overseeing the pension system, was eliminated after all. And in its place, is the new Japan Pension Service.

January 12 was my birthday, but aside from that, it meant that I was among the first of a group of people in Japan to receive a large blue envelope with a report about my Japanese pension. It hit my box earlier this week. Apparently, these are going out to everyone in the month of your birthday.

I don’t know if I got more information for being 45, but the report highlighted everything that has gone on with me and pension system since I arrived here—and properly enrolled!— in 2005. There is not one mistake in the report. (Even though, I do question how the rule was applied to a company I worked in that had more than 5 employees . . . )

As I was saying late last year, it seems like all the real work of Japan was dumped on the Labor and Health Minister, Nagatsuma Akira. (Probably as kouhai of the ministers, just turning 50 this year.)

Nagatsuma’s nickname is “Mister Nenkin“, which translates as Mister Pension. He was one of the first to bring to prominence the whole mess that the Japanese system had become by the 2000’s.

It’s reassuring to see competence in the Democratic Party of Japan, and very real person willing to make the efforts to take what’s broken and fix it.

43 thoughts on “Japan Pension Service is now at your service

  1. Not directly related to this post, but I am not sure of a better place.

    In the past you have written a bit about the totalization agreements (社会保障協定). Essentially any amount of money payed into a pension system with specific countries counts in the total amount and can be collected upon retirement.

    How does this work for people who have naturalized? Naturalization is of course not a prerequisite; I am only curious if the rules change somehow. Two examples: 1) a Japanese-born national migrates to the US and naturalizes, or 2) a US-born citizen migrates to Japan and naturalizes. Are they still both equally entitled to apply their time/money worked in another country towards the requirements for retirement?

    1. Totalization itself goes to the idea of “vesting” in a pension system, or being qualified to get money out of it. For instance, if America requires 10 years minimum and you only have three, you would not get a benefit. If you are allowed to totalize seven years using Japan contributions, then you would have ten, and could get a benefit.

      Both America and Japan have the same rules for participation regardless of nationality. There are many U.S. permanent residents who participate in U.S. social security in the States. They retire and get checks. The only hang up I can see,without researching the specific issue, is whether a special class of beneficiaries who receive “SSI” (supplemental security income) can receive it outside of America.

      I have read the totalization treaties of the U.S., Canada and Australia (English version). While not a lawyer in all three places, as I’ve looked at it, nowhere do they mention losing a benefit by naturalizing elsewhere.

      If any issue arose with Japan and America, it might be the several people who carry passports from both countries (dual citizens). If they apply for “kara kikan” from the Japanese government for time abroad, they might not need the treaty to qualify for Japanese pension. If that is the result, their VESTED (10 years in) U.S. pension would be haircut through something called the “Windfall Elimination Provision”. This is a rare exception that I’ve seen nothing written about in English.

      Either country can always change its rules on social insurance, but the idea that you lose for giving up citizenship in one or the other has no support in the treaties or in (at least) U.S. social security law.

  2. Naturalization doesn’t enter into it. Nor does one’s citizenship. If you have paid into a system, you are entitled to get money back out of it provided you meet eligibilty requirements (and the government doesn’t lose your employment data somewhere along the lines.)

    US citizens should always have their SSN, Japanese should always have their Nenkin books. If you change your name (marriage, citizenship change, adoption whatever) you need to inform the appropriate authorities that the SSN/Nenkin bangoh needs to be updated with the new name or you risk data loss.

    1. Not as legal advice, but that’s my best understanding. The U.S. does not restrict who participates. Even illegal aliens are required to have a social security number and be taxed. It looks like the same is true for Japan. So there would have to be special statutes somewhere for those who give up a citizenship.

      The U.S. has an ‘exit tax” for people who give up U.S. citizenship for the purpose of avoiding paying tax, but it has a very high exemption (meaning the statute looks to go after very wealthy tax dodgers.) There is no statute that says people forfeit their normal social security for leaving, with that one exception I mentioned about SSI.

  3. so your pension figures are correct….so what!…they were what 5 years of records?…my wife has been trying to get her ‘records’ corrected for the last 3 years! She has filled out the forms on numerous times detailing where a mistake has been made. Every few months she gets the same information request, which she provides which then goes back to the bureaucrats and is not corrected cause they are so busy sending out forms which they don’t read when they get them back. and for which they haven’t put in place a ‘system’ for properly updating the records.
    You my friend are just lucky,…. while millions of Japanese are still waiting for their records to be fixed.

    It is not new enrollees that have problems. It is older contributors whose ‘handwritten’ records were not completely entered in the system and then destroyed when the system was computerized years ago.

  4. Well, two things, James:

    1) Yes, it’s just five years. But not with a single employer, and not always with kousei nenkin. So I am surprised that the all the employers did properly enroll me and that it’s all there at the Pension Service. In the States, FICA is collected like tax. But here, it’s treated like a private party annuity transaction.

    2) It sounds like your wife is caught in a bureaucratic mess. It’s one of the reasons that the Labor & Health ministry asked for the $2 billion extra budget, and I saw where they got, I think, about half of that (97 billion yen?). My guess is that the new Pension Service is tackling the many retired persons’ complaints first, then those for people who aren’t retired. (I am assuming your wife is not retired.)

    There is no excuse for bureaucratic incompetence. My sense is, though, that the numerous mailings have more to do with turnover at the top and people trying to cover their backs.

    Nagatsuma said that the ministry would be relaxing the proof requirements to amend records, so hopefully everything will be worked out in the very near future.

  5. Not all of this can be blamed on the bureaucrats. There is a lack of proper education with regard to what nenkin is supposed to be and what you need to be paying into (which I suppose could be attributed to governmental failings if you really wanted to.)

    The pension book probably contributes to this because no one ever really tells you what it is for. You are given it and told to keep it safe. (Years ago, your company kept it safe for you.) It has a number in the front (the only important bit) and places to write your work details but nobody updates that (I have been meaning to but haven’t gotten around to it yet.)

    My wife ended up with 2 booklets because she started one career, quit for a while and then started at another company without handing over her first booklet. That sort of things was quite common because it has never been explained that the number is *really* important and you should only ever HAVE one.

    When we married, her status was supposed to be changed “1” to “3” as a spouse of a “2” but no one told us we had to update this status BY OURSELVES. We only found this out 5 years after the fact, thanks to a tv programme on it. The law has since been changed so now the company will fix the status for you. We got lucky because we found out before the real sh!t hit the fan and were able to it straightened out before all of these “missing” accounts were noticed. Things at the pension office were crowded for a while after the tv programme we saw but they were REALLY crowded once the missing numbers were noticed.

    There have been attempts to educate people on nenkin but the last big push involved having a spokeswoman say “pay into the pension scheme” when she herself wasn’t doing so. Mainly due to ignorance of how the system works. And that incident uncovered numerous politicians who hadn’t paid into the scheme or had gaps in their histories (like former Prime Minister Fukuda.)

    It really needs to be simplified and streamlined. Better education also ought to be put into place. Hopefully Nagatsuma will be able to get something in place to cover all of that before there is another power shift.

    1. Chuckers, I think all these things are part of the plan, if I read the DPJ Manifesto correctly.

      I am just impressed that I got something solid in the mail, it’s the same as what a Japanese person gets. And it’s exactly right.

  6. Dearest japan pension service incharge,

    My comment in Japanese pension.My hushband Kenzo K 2 years ago he claim in your company that why my wife Gemma K not recieved the pension?

    But your company answer that Question your wife is already 59 years old.So my hushband Kenzo K get angry and write many times in your company.

    But why happen that reason?Really i am 42 years old now.I try to claim all my delayed pension delayed.

    1. I am totally lost by this comment and think you should contact the actual Japan Pension Service, which is not a blog.

  7. Nice to see a somebody take an interest in this. The words are a little slippery for something this important. 1) does it matter when one picks up their PR? I’ve worked 16yrs here but got the PR about 3 years ago. Does the full 17 years count towards the 25? 2) does one have to have an actual record of employment overseas for kara kikan or can anything, such as time at school, count towards the fill in?

    1. Anthony, I don’t know the exact answer and can only tell you what I think:

      How kara kikan works for PR people is that the Japanese will consider all time outside Japan from the age of 20 years as part of the add-on to vesting. I don’t think you have to have been employed overseas–because what difference would it make to the Japanese?

      But I want to point this out, too: if you would qualify without kara kikan—meaning, you would qualify simply under the terms of a totalization treaty—then it might make sense to bypass kara kikan. I know that that’s true for Americans because they would lose part of their U.S. social security check to something called Windfall Elimination Provision.

      So, strategically, you would only apply for kara kikan if, in the end, you couldn’t make a vesting either on 25 years or a combined 25 years with a totalization treaty country.

  8. Thanks, that makes a fair bit of sense. In my case I have limited job experience outside of Japan. 2yrs in the US and about a year in Canada. Any thoughts on how the totalization treaty works out when there are 3 countries?

    More to the point, if I were to quit tomorrow with my 16y in Japan what would I do about this? What would I do in 15 years when I’m 65? Show up at a typical city hall and they’ll give you some combination of “no, can’t do that” and “I am a faceless bureaucrat with no useful information to give you. Please get frustrated then leave with a sufficient sense of hopelessness to never return”.

    1. Well, if you were to leave Japan with 16 years n the pension, you only need 9 more (total) in either one of the other totalization countries to make 25 years. Based on your example, take looks like either 7 years in America or 1 in Canada—but remember your resdience time in Canada may count, even if you did not contribute to CPP. Alternatively, you would rack up 9 years in another totalization country. For example, in Australia, I think one year’s residence counts as a year toward the Japanese pension system, because of how the Old Age pension check works there.

      Japan still lets expats who are leaving withdraw up to 3 years’ of contributions, but for you, that would be sheer stupidity unless you knew you wouldn’t be around to collect.

      Now, you say,

      “What would I do in 15 years when I’m 65? Show up at a typical city hall and they’ll give you some combination of “no, can’t do that” and “I am a faceless bureaucrat with no useful information to give you. Please get frustrated then leave with a sufficient sense of hopelessness to never return”.

      No, it doesn’t work that way. There is a special department to write away to in each totalization country in order to collect the dual benefit. So if you have established a record in one country, you give the information about the other country’s account and they are supposed to work together (since each side of course must confirm the contributions paid into the other country’s system!)

      So it’s highly unlikely that you would ever be blown off–unless Japan wants to exit the specific treaties, which I think would mean all the Japanese would forfeit their overseas partial benefits as well. (There are many more Japanese in that situation than foreigners.)

      So I would just rest assured that when you can make 25 years between two signatory countries, you would be able to get a check. And apparently, like I said before, your PR status here would be the fallback if you absolutely needed to qualify. The online CPA “Loophole Lewey” David Lewis mentions something about this less-than-25 PR rule if you Google his site.

  9. Hi, I appreciate all of the clarity you bring to people about the pension system in Japan, thank you. I have a couple of questions if you have time:
    I’ve been contributing to the private school pension for 10 years in Japan, and am considering a job in Korea.
    1) Does Korea and Japan have any relationship with sharing pensions?
    2) I’m in the private school pension plan. What if I leave it to work for a company? How does that work?

    1. Jeff, you have to tell me a few things:

      1) What exactly is the private school pension? Is it called shakai hoken? Kousei nenkin?

      2) What nationality are you? American?

      3) If you are American, we have totalization with South Korea: http://www.ssa.gov/international/Agreement_Pamphlets/korea.html I have never read the specifics of that one.

      4) the thing that you would need to make sure is that, at the end of your career, you’ve met the terms to totalize. For the U.S. and Japan, this means 25 years combined, in both programs. (So for example 18 years in America and 7 in Japan.) A pitfall could be, I can see, if you have 9 years in America, 10 in Japan, and some other amount in Korea. Then, you don’t have the 25 years. The solution would be to get 6 more in America, and then you’d have at least the 25 for Japan-America. (Again, I don’t know what it is for Korea.)

      Thanks for your compliment and interest in my site.

  10. I’m very sorry for the late reply! I hope you and yours are well in Japan.

    1) The private school pension I’m referring to is shigaku kyousai.

    2) I’m American

    3) Thanks

    4) I’m learning more about the system. I am encouraged to know that if I return to America now, I can add the years in America to my 10 in Japan until it equals 25, and then be eligible for the Japanese pension. If Korea factors in, it might get confusing, I’ll have to look into that.

    Thanks so much.

    1. Jeff, nice to hear from you.

      I think you know the answer already about totalization, which the following website


      calls “aggregation”.

      If you split your career over three countries, you just have to make sure that each possible combination of two will vest you in a benefit. So if the countries are A, B, and C, you have to know the rule for:

      A and B
      B and C
      A and C

      Please pass the word around about totalization treaties. I have been blogging about it for a couple years aleady, but many people still don’t know that they will likely receive a Japanese pension for paying in, as long as they have the other piece in their home country.

  11. I’m considering moving back to the US in late March to take a job offer, but there is a very important question I need to answer first. I’ve gotten a different answer from the US Social Security office every time I’ve called, and I hope you can help me.

    I’m a 58 year old American and I’ve taught English at a private college in Fukushima for almost 22 years. I’m eligible to receive US Social Security benefits, as I have over 40 credits.

    I’ve been paying into the Japanese national pension fund (kokumin nenkin) and a private school pension fund (shigakukyousai nenkin) for nearly 22 years. I visited the shakai houken jimusho yesterday and they informed me that kokumin nenkin and shigakukyousai nenkin are linked together as far as eligibility, and that according to my birthdate (1953) if I contribute until March 31, 2012 I will qualify for both. I will become eligible to receive shigakukyousai nenkin when I become 61 and kokumin nenkin when I become 65.

    The problem is, if I do this and become eligible for my full Japanese pension(s), I will also be subject to Social Security’s Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which will reduce my US Social Security payments by up to 60%.

    So what I plan to do is quit as of March 16, just short of when I reach 22 years and become eligible for my Japanese pension. Then I will be able to use the U.S. Japan Totalization Agreement to qualify when I apply for the private school pension upon turning 61.

    So my first question is, I wonder if this will work. Maybe I should quit as of February 28, just to be safe.

    The other question is, will I be subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision if I use the U.S. Japan Totalization Agreement to qualify for kokumin nenkin/shigakukyousai nenkin?

    1. These are good questions. They are to a specific situation, and probably why you are getting many different answers.

      If you have 25 years combined between U.S. social security and the Japanese nenkin (kokumin nenkin and the closely related variants), then under the 2004 Totalization Agreement, you can collect a prorated-amount from the Japanese system.

      Your 40 credits (40 quarters) in our social security of course qualifies you for a check from Uncle Sam regardless.

      The pitfall, as you researched it, is WINDFALL ELIMINATION PROVISION.

      I will tell you what I think, and I know I’m right.

      On the Social Security Administration website, it says that if you qualify for a Japanese pension and you did not need the totalization agreement to qualify, then Social Security will cut your benefit. Why do they do this? Because people used to get into Social Security for only the 40 credits, and then rely on a different pension system like the post office or the U.S. military.

      Social Security is designed to create a bigger check for the first $300,000 of total earnings, than for later earnings. If you take $300,000 and divide it by a 35 year career, you see it’s about $8,571 a year. So it’s designed that anyone working a hardscrabble career would get a check like, maybe, $660 a month. This is referred to as the “90% bend point” in the jargon. Social Security is designed to match about 90% of the low-wage workers earnings in retirement. The rule, though, is that the 90% bend point applies no matter when you earn the $300,000. (This $300,000 is inflation adjusted by wage inflation.) So Windfall Elimination is a crude instrument that is used against anyone who has a government-related outside pension (not private pension) to take this 90% bend point benefit away.

      You are correct in surmising that you do NOT want to qualify independently for the Japanese system. You want to have to rely on totalization. If totalization ever ended, it would end prospectively (for people going forward, on the contributions going forward.) If Japan ever shut off the totalization checks, Uncle Sam would naturally shut off the ones going to Japanese—and there’s more going out than coming back to us.

      My advice is find out what the last month you WON’T qualify for is, and stop contributing there. If you are one month shy, then you need the totalization treaty, and your Social Security check should not be haircut for that. (You may, of course, end up paying taxes on the check because of other rules. For example, a means test was created in 1983, but it affects all beneficiaries who have at least a modest income.)

      Rick Gundlach

      1. Thanks for the quick reply, and the great explanation. A few minutes ago I also received this:

        Dear Mr. Neufeld,

        Thank you for your e-mail.

        WEP does not apply if you receive a regular U.S. Social Security benefit and receive Japanese totalization benefit based on an Totalization agreement with the U.S. If you met the normal entitlement requirements of the Japanese benefit and do not rely on the Totalization agreement to establish entitlement, then WEP applies.

        Please see the B. of the attached SSA Program Policy information.



        Federal Benefits Unit
        U.S. Embassy Tokyo

        The page linked to in the email pretty much clears up any doubts I had about whether the WEP applies if you use the Totalization Agreement.

        Thanks again!

  12. Very interesting tread. I have two questions: Every year I get a SS estimated benefit statement. If I were to also qualify for a JPN benefit after 25 years, how would US SS know? And, if I had less than 25 years in JPN and relied on totalization, wouldn’t Japan have their own WEP reducing their payments? Thank you.

    1. Japan and the United States share the information about benefits paid to each other’s citizens. In some event that your data fell through the cracks, the IRS would know that you are receiving from two countries.

      This actually happens quite a bit with people who worked for the State of Maine. Some states’ workers do not participate in Social Security. Then, they go and collect because of other work. (That is, they have 40 credits.) They don’t tell Social Security about the other check, and then, when this cross-checking goes on, they discover the Maine benefit. Social Security then claws back all the overage, plus interest and penalties.

      The reason Japan does not have a WEP has to do with how the benefit is earned. In the American system, more of the benefit is earned up front. In Japan, it is earned pro-ratably. Each nenkin payment into kokumin nenkin provides about 138 yen a month at retirement. It doesn’t matter where you are in your life or how much you have already paid to the program. In the U.S. system, however, the earlier payments count for more. Read about the “90% bend point” through your favorite search engine, and that will explain it.

        1. Yes and no. The Tier I of kousei nenkin is the same as kokumin nenkin. Each month, for your contribution, you earn the kokumin nenkin part. (That is, the current estimated 138 yen per month at retirement.) But a second formula creates an additional benefit, and this is based on your “band” within the system. The band is, in turn, based on your first three month’s contributions to the system in the prior year.

          If you do the math on Excel, you find that the payments are weighted more favorably to the lower income contributors, but it is not by the same formula or approach as in America.

          1. I am still left wondering why the SSA would not apply WEP on one who was vested in US SS, and through totalization in JPN nenkin, when that person would certainly be getting a windfall on their SS.

            1. The purpose of the Windfall Elimination Provision is to take back the benefit granted through the “90% bend point”. US social security is designed so that almost all participants should have that basic pension of $660 to maybe $700 a month. The US system is set up so that that benefit accrues early, and if people are receiving low incomes in their career, that it inevitably accrues.

              Other countries work it differently. For example, in Canada, there is “OAS”, an old age pension. You earn it simply by being a resident of Canada each month. It comes to somewhere around $700, if you reside in Canada for the full period, which I think is 35 years. The money for this check comes out of that country’s general revenues. There is, additionally, a “CPP”, which I think stands for Canada Pension Plan. That one is dependent on how much you contributed out of your pay, much like social security.

              Totalization is not a windfall, because all it’s doing is linking the benefit that is earned in Japan to whatever you accrue in America. Or Canada, since there’s totalization there, too. (All three countries have agreements with each other, but not all three together. Don’t ask me about that situation, but I think people apply the separate rules. I know one person who was in America, then Japan, then Canada. So they might have that question.)

              Is the American resident in Canada getting a “windfall” on the OAS part of the pension system in Canada, since he/she is not paying for it directly?

              The only reason WEP came to be was that military and post office employees started gaming social security in the 1960’s and ’70’s to collect a pension there and through the separate service. State workers, too, in states where the government did not participate. WEP is a crude weapon, and sometimes hits pensioners who really didn’t get much of a windfall.

              You might know, that if you participate in Social Security at a certain contribution level, for a certain number of years, you don’t have to worry about WEP regardless. I believe that 35 years makes the issue entirely irrelevant.

  13. So if one was vested in SS with ten years of contributions, and needed the totalization to complete his JPN contributions, his ten years of US SS earnings would be stretched out to the 35 years and he would not get a “haircut” on his SS payments? If so, then this is certainly a windfall and I’m surprised no one has caught on to this.
    (If this topic is getting old, or I’m completely misunderstanding something, feel free to delete this post.)

    1. No, here is a very practical example:

      If you have 40 credits (10 years) in America, you might have earned enough in those years to receive the whole “90% bend point benefit” of $660.00, let’s say.

      Then, you fly to Japan and work for 24 years and pay kokumin nenkin. For those 24 years (288 months) of contributions, your benefit is estimated as 39,744 yen a month. In current US dollars, that’s $516.16.

      So total you have $1,176.16. Hardly any windfall there. You need 40 years in Japan to get the full basic pension, according to their rules. If you work one more year in Japan and pay, then you have 25 years, and Uncle Sam is tugging at the $660.00, for a couple hundred. (So you are worse off!)

      Two notes of caution: sometimes Japan will pay a pension to a worker who came into the system late and didn’t have 25 years. “Loophole Lewey” on the internet provides one anecdotal example. This “kara kikan” rule also can result in a payment without having 25 years of payments in.

      1. The way I see it the difference between these two outcomes is a windfall for the one who chooses totalization. The $660 benefit is intended for one who actually had low income for his entire career, and not for one who has another pension based on other earnings. This is what WEP tries to resolve. I usually find tax issues to be logical, but this one is inexplicable. At least to me, anyway.

        1. I see what you are saying, but it still seems that you aren’t considering this: In order to be fair to everyone, the government’s “90% bend point” promise has to be applied to both the low-income earner and to the person who is earning top social security wages.

          Other countries do it differently, as I said. Everyone earns a fractional benefit of that basic check, the $600 or $700 or so, ratably over many decades.

          The United States decided to do it differently. The money earned (and paid on) earlier is being credited for a higher benefit. The same rule applies to anyone, and the only really unfair thing is that the low-income earner is not being maybe paid more. Right? After a certain amount of FICA taxes paid, the benefit rate changes to 32%, then 15%.

          When you consider how stock market investing goes, time is the greatest factor. The historical result has been that the longer one has time as an investor in the stock market, the greater a chance (BUT NO GUARANTEE) of equity-like returns (a high real return on their investment). “Real” here means inflation adjusted.

          A young high-income earner gives up his/her money sooner to the government, than someone who receives a low paycheck throughout their years. It is fair, because the young high-income earner gave up their funds to the program sooner in life, and therefore should be allowed a benefit that reflects such a result. I know that it is a social insurance program, not an investment program. But the issue is whether the 90% bend point is fair.

          Regions of the country, like the Deep South, with a lower cost of living, LOVE the 90% bend point. They love the fact that social security is weighted to the lower-income worker. This is why, in all the talk about “cutting all this government spending!”, the talk never does go to reforming social security so that the 90% bend point disappears, or that the basic benefit is weighted to the cost of living of the state or states the worker worked in. This would be because a lot of the Deep South’s government handout money would disappear, too.

  14. I’m looking at the law regarding Exclusion of Certain Totalization Benefits from WEP (http://1.usa.gov/xdBiHf) and it says:
    WEP will not apply where the number holder is:

    • entitled to a U.S. totalization benefit based on coverage in both the U.S. and a totalization country coverage, or

    • entitled to a regular U.S. benefit, as well as a foreign benefit which is based on a totalization agreement with the U.S., and not receiving any other pension based on non-covered work.
    I’m planning to leave my teaching job on March 16, two weeks short of qualifying for the Shigakukyousai nenkin and the Kokumin nenkin. (On March 31, I would have 22 years, which, according to my year of birth, would qualify me for both). That way I can use the Totalization agreement and avoid getting “wepped”. That second bullet point has me wondering — will the Totalization agreement cover both my Shigakukyousai nenkin and Kokumin nenkin? If I apply for my Shigakukyousai nenkin at 61 and use the Totalization Agreement, will the Totalization Agreement also cover my Kokumin nenkin when I apply at 65?

    1. I think yes. Because independently for each, you have the 25 years.

      Our basic pension is combined with our income-based pension, for the most part. In Japan, the kokumin nenkin is really just the basic pension, and types like Shigaku kyou sai are the add-on.

      In America, we create a basic pension through “bend points” in the rate at which the contributions create a monthly benefit.

  15. Thanks for the lightning quick response. Actually, I didn’t phrase my concern quite the way I wanted to. I’m wondering what “and not receiving any other pension based on non-covered work” means. My fear is that I’ll be okay when I apply for my Shigakukyousai nenkin benefits at 61, but then I’ll get wepped at 65 when “The Retirement Mutual Aid Pension payments an individual has been receiving up to the age of 65 will change to a combination of Old-age Basic Pension from the National Pension Plan and the regular Retirement Mutual Aid Pension.” (This is from “Long-Term Benefits – At the Age of 65 – Private School Mutual Aid Online”)

    I probably am just worrying too much. I’m just scared witless of WEP.

  16. This thread looks pretty old but if anyone is listening I have a question or two. I’ve been collecting U.S. retirement benefits for a few years in Japan. I’m fully vested. I also paid into the Japan kokumin nenkin system for about 6 years and have my blue book. From reading the various posts here it looks like I might be able to collect both, but even if I can the U.S. will just cut my benefits by a certain amount, so probably not worth it. I’d like to talk to a Japanese nenkin attorney or paralegal about specifics. I think it’s a 社会保険労務士 that handles these matters. If anyone knows of a nenkin specialist that handles kojin matters I’d appreciate some info. All of the ones I’ve contacted so far only do corporate. Thanks.

    1. If you have only paid kokumin and only for 6 years, you can use the fact that you have more than 4 years of US social security in order to collect from Japan. Since August 2017, the number of years needed to qualify for Japan is ten, not twenty-five. E-mail me if you aren’t clear.

  17. Hello, Hoofin –

    Appreciate you contribution to illuminating this rather difficult and
    opaque subject.

    Would very much appreciate any insight/advice you might have to
    offer about my own situation with this.

    I’m American, long time resident (25 years) of Japan. Paid into the
    private school pension fund for the 1st 9 1/2 years I was here, then continued
    paying into kousei nenkin for a further short period, then stopped as
    totalization didn’t yet exist and I thought I would never make the 25 years
    then needed to get vested.

    Anyway, have my ten years in on the Japan side and an undetermined
    number of credits with US social security – but almost certainly less than
    40. Most of what I do have on the American side is from relatively low
    wage work back in the mists of time 70’s to early 90’s.

    I was under the (mistaken, it seems) impression that I could somehow
    combine the credits earned on both the US and Japanese side and decide
    to collect from one or the other but that seems *not* to be the case.

    Instead, I have to collect from both separately?

    It looks like I can just start collecting the Japanese nenkin when I turn 65
    (all too soon) without involving US Social Security at all but I don’t want
    to foreclose the possibility of collecting from the US at all if I don’t have to.

    OTOH I don’t really want to be bothered with dealing with US SSI now if it’s not really necessary as the mendoukusai/hassle to benefit ratio is likely to be rather high…

    Any thoughts?

    1. These days, I give out advice through my business, and you can reach me at fwgundlach . I am on Microsoft, so the extension is msn.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

  18. Hi,
    I’m new to this. Do I need to email ? I have a question on Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). I’m entitled to both Japanese nenkin and social security benefit without the Totalization agreement. So, I guess I get wepped. But I found this post in another website. Basically it said that there is a mutual agreement between Japan and US about pension calculation and that you may cancel WEP and that you have to get the certificate from both Japan and US. Also, that you have to submit this “Modified Benefit Formula Questionnaire” for the W.E.P. to the US Social Security Administration:
    https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-308.pdf. I hope these are correct.

    1. Your Form 308 is indicating how much WEPping happens. As to some other website, they have to be responsible for whoever says and whatever got said. Good luck!

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