Here comes the new Japan Residence Card.

Jun Hongo writes for the Japan Times.

As regular readers know, one of the features of the new card will be the ability of the Ministry of Justice to track who is in the pension and health care programs. So this whole scheme of flying under the radar, with regard to one—and usually both—is going to be coming to its inevitable end.

See those little buckets there?

Now, we know that the pension and health care protesters are going to try and get around, just like they did in 2009. The difference only is that now, there will be the little blank box on the record. Prior to July 2012, if you didn’t enroll in the pension, the pension board probably didn’t even know you were around. Same with the health insurance desk at the ward office. NOW, though, people are going to notice. They run a report, you are one of the gaijins who doesn’t have the medical and the pension . . .

You know that the foreign lobbyists will go traipsing over to the U.S. Embassy or to the ACCJ, for them to put pressure on the Japanese ministry to keep everything the same. You know this. This is how those scummie guys and gals work it. I think it’s going to get harder, though. More people–people for whom it would matter–are becoming aware that Japan is cheating us on the social security totalization. Japanese take the American checks, and then Japan sets up schemes to deny coverage to the Americans working in Japan. Allegedly, it’s “their choice” (the Americans’ choice). But practically, the industries like Eikaiwa and ALT assume no pension coverage, and so the wages for work in those industries don’t have to include a cost for pension. It’s the Japanese government’s choice that Americans aren’t enrolled, because they let that dodge continue . . .

I wonder if the U.S. state department will ever request hard numbers about enrollment and the like.

My advice to the newbies, and to those who have been in Japan for a while, is to enroll at least in the pension and get your blue book. You want to do that if you are an American, in any event, because you want to show the IRS that you were covered for pension while in Japan—that way, the IRS will not be looking for 15.3% tax on any self employment income . . .

Whether you pay the pension or not is Japan’s business. But you should have that book.

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4 comments

  1. Mark · January 1, 2012

    I have Permanent Residence, am on National Health Insurance (NHI) however am not enrolled in the National Pension Plan nor do I wish to be. My assumption about the last item is that it’s a payment into a plan that won’t benefit me when I turn 65, 70, 75, 80 or whatever the eligibility age is going to when I get there. And, I am not 100% certain that when I get that age, I’ll be here in Japan – in which case, I’m also skeptical they’d extend payments to a former foreign resident living overseas (eg even though they might indicate will now .. who knows what the policy will actually be when the time comes around?)

    Am I missing anything here? Or, will this new system make it inconsequential?

    • hoofin · January 1, 2012

      Mark, you’ve basically given the argument that a few people in the United States have used for the last 80 years when it comes to Social Security. “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have to, and there won’t be anything for me there at the end.” (Only in Japan, the government doesn’t collect it as a tax yet, so there is this idea of “voluntarily” being in it.)

      Under the various totalization agreements, any money paid into the Japanese system builds a time credit. You need 25 years in the Japanese system OR 25 years combined with a home country that has a totalization agreement with Japan. (These are, mainly, the United States, Canada, Australia, France, South Korea, and maybe about six others to date.)

      Under the totalization agreement, Japan pays no matter what country the beneficiary lives in. When I was in Japan, I contributed to the program. Combined with what I have already done in U.S. social security, there is 25 years, and Japan will send me a payment in the 2030’s.

      You say, how can be so sure???? What’s funny is that people who usually make these arguments have no trouble about “being sure” that other promises made for the future will be kept. And those promises aren’t coming from a government with power over people and resources. For some reason, they trust private parties and private entities who could screw you, as one person, at the drop of a hat; but they don’t trust the government, which has made the promise to thousands and done so publicly.

      The point I’ve been making is that the noose is tightening for those who think they can get around paying into the Japanese national insurance, so their wisest course is, at minimum, to enroll and get the book. They can still dodge the payments, but at least they have the book. If it ever comes time to collect, having the book means it was the employer’s fault for not enrolling the worker. For a self-employed American in Japan, it means the IRS has no claim for Self-Employment tax from that taxpayer.

      • Mark · January 2, 2012

        Hmmm well, I guess the monthly dues would be relatively minimal at worst.

        However, I’m a few years over 40 so my additional concern is putting into a system that later tells me, “sorry, you should have been doing this from when you were 30 years old so unfortunately you do not qualify for payments. Thank you for your contributions however, the others have appreciated it.”

        Walking into the neighborhood ward office or pension office isn’t going to be a practical option as I’d more likely get shanghai’d into signing up than walking away with a satisfactory explanation. (Tried it once before and the guy spent all his energy trying his hardest to get me to sign the bloody form first before answering any questions – I met Nigerians in Roppongi with more sincerity).

        • hoofin · January 2, 2012

          Mark, I don’t know what country you are from, how long you have paid in in your home country, or where you intend to be in the future. If you are, say, 42 years old, then 25 years is to age 67–if all your payments are exclusively to the Japanese system.

          As you should know, if you are an American and paid about 10 years (40 credits/”quarters”) into America, you are vested in the U.S. social security program, and whatever number of years you paid count towards the Japanese program.

          If you pay Japan for up-to-three years and then leave, they allow a refund, called dai tai ichi ji kin. You are then out of the Japanese program and lose that credit.

          Obviously, if you pass away before retirement age, you don’t collect—but that’s the same thing in America. The Japanese employer pension (kousei nenkin) has the spousal benefit, but the National Pension (kokumin nenkin) does not. U.S. social security obviously has.

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