Japanese interview question: “are you covered by health insurance?”

I was surprised at that one.

I thought the government’s new policy is that they are going to inquire of foreign nationals living in Japan whether or not they are in proper insurance. (This almost always means the kokumin kenko hoken or the insurance portion of shakai hoken.)

If a prospective employer is asking you whether you are covered (and a government employer no less), it makes me wonder what the story is. Wouldn’t they be saying, “of course you’re going to be covered by our plan like all the Japanese here are?” This is what the U.S.-Japan totalization treaty requires.

You see, you’ve got these characters at OSAC in the Embassy, which I blogged about yesterday, talking about “threats to American interests” in Japan. Things like pickpocketing or drink spiking in Roppongi. And here’s this off-the-wall question as part of an interview about health insurance.

Don’t tell me that a Japanese government agency doesn’t offer the same insurance coverage to non-Japanese as it does to Japanese?

What’s the bigger risk, that you have a remote chance of having your wallet pick-pocketed in Roppongi, or that you end up without health insurance coverage in a foreign country (or forced to pay more than you otherwise would)?

What do you think is the bigger risk?

[Update: I realize the question can be read more than one way, but it’s highly unlikely that a employer interviewing a candidate is asking whether you are complying with the law about health insurance. It’s more likely that they aren’t offering it, under some excuse. But are signaling to you the candidate that you have to be covered “somehow”.]