I want to point out an interesting article that commenter Chuckers shared with me yesterday, link here.
The gist of it is that the Labor and Health Ministry wants to allow people to pay nenkin premiums that are up to 10 years in arrears (haven’t paid since 2000 or 2001, or missing payments in that time.)
There is some confusion, but it looks like the rule still is that you can pay up to 2 years in arrears. My nenkin coupons for 2010 don’t suggest that, so I can’t say with 100% certainty.
The proposal is to allow people to pay up to 10 years in arrears, except you would be charged interest for any payments that were due earlier than 2 years ago. This is fair, because you had, in finance terms, “use of the money” in the meantime. And, actuarially, you got to see for 10 years if you would still be around in this time to have a pension even matter.
What I wonder, though, is that if there is the ability to pay for any gaps in 10 years of coverage, if the policy won’t be that the government can ask for the unpaid contributions for any time of those 10 years. Since people were supposed to be in the thing, it’s only fair the government ask people to pony up.
If I understand the article (in Japanese), it’s a challenge for many Japanese to make the 25 years to vest in a pension. “Vest” would be to be eligible for a pension.
I hadn’t realized it until I read the piece, that I actually was entitled to a Japanese pension much sooner than most Japanese of my age at the time. I came here at 40, and had paid into U.S. social security for 24 years, since the age of 15 with a gap year or two. So upon paying into kokumin nenkin, I also had the totalized 25 years by the U.S.-Japan Social Security Socialization Treaty. I was entitled to about 136 yen a month at retirement for every coupon payment I made.
The Japanese system begins at age 20. Since a Japanese at age 40 would not have the 25 years in the Japanese program, I actually “vested” before practically every one of my age here. Even though my Japanese pension would be very small.
The concern of the Labor and Health Ministry is that many Japanese do not make the 25-year mark for vesting. There really should be some minimum annual coverage, like in America (about $4,500 annual earnings), that allows people to count that year toward a vesting.
Easily, then, many people would make the 25 years.