Another H/T to the Let’s Japan BBS.
Ibaraki Prefecture towns have begun referring to the health insurance premium as a tax, not a contribution.
For example, the town of Tone–the “town of radiant smiles”.
Some people feel that this is a noteworthy development, because previously the debate has been whether or not to pay something that really isn’t treated as a tax. Well, now, in some quarters of Japan, this payment is being referred to as a tax; and, as I have been saying for a couple years now, it is only inevitable that it begins to be collected as a tax.
One Wikia article writer suggests that you make sure to turn in your Alien Registration Card upon permanently leaving Japan–or leaving for a long-term–unless you don’t want to get stuck being billed while in absentia.
As I have been saying, when the Zairyuu card comes into force, there will probably still be way to dodge the health and pension systems in japan. But, it will be more obvious that that is what you’re doing. The risk will be present, that a more diligent Ward office will follow up with you or your employer about things that you are really supposed to be in, while in Japan.
[Update 10/9/11: I appreciate your various anecdotes, and if you want to comment, always feel free. When I write about this, you know, I am just guessing–because I’m not there. Knowing how “Japan” operates, though, you can best believe that if they start going for people who don’t pay, it won’t be through major announcement. It will be by catching a handful, and letting word get out. Things like what are going on in Ibaraki.
The point that you dodgers (if that’s you) have going for you is that business corruption is not unknown in Japan. A business like ALT Dispatch or an Eikaiwa will say, this “tax” WILL PUT BE OUT OF BUSINESS!!! BOO HOO!!! and the crony bureaucrat will back off. Expect to see this happen, still, going forward . . . ]