Osaka General Union says a suit is out there about denial of enrollment in Japanese employee pension program.

Post is here.

I don’t know yet if this is the same as the “Yancey” case that has been mentioned.

The gist of it is that employees are supposed to be enrolled in their employer’s pension and health insurance program. Longtime readers of mine know that this is called Shakai Hoken, and consists of two parts: a pension system (kosei nenkin)which includes the government piece (kokumin nenkin), and a health insurance coverage (kosei kenko hoken).

How do employers cheat foreigners who are working for them in Japan? Well, they just make excuses for why you shouldn’t be in the Shakai Hoken. They’ve done it for years—decades really. And a set handful of employees think they are “saving” money by not having to pay. What they don’t realize is that wages overall are bid down by this insurance and pension dodging.

When the United States totalization agreement with Japan came into effect, on October 1, 2005, I expected that the government of Japan would have really cracked down on the dodging as it concerned Americans. This is because, when a Japanese comes to America, he or she is automatically given whatever coverages the rest of us get. (Health insurance is the tricky piece, but the Affordable Care Act is right around the corner. And again, if the American isn’t covered at a workplace, the Japanese is in no worse shape.)

Well, silly me for thinking that the Shakai Hoken issue would be fixed. Because it’s now almost seven years, and after so many various labor ministers in Japan, it looks like nothing has ever been done to assure that Americans get the coverage that the totalization agreement assumes.

The lawsuit above is focusing on a 1980 directive by the labor ministry, that suggested an employee who works for 3/4 of the full time hourly schedule in a week, should be enrolled in Shakai Hoken. So if full time is defined as 40 hours, 30 hours is 3/4. (That math’s easy, right?)

What certain creative companies have done is to say that a foreign worker’s schedule is 29.5 hours in a week. And so, they are not “eligible” for Shakai Hoken. Even though, they work more than 29.5 hours. And since this rule is just a guideline, even if they did not work 29.5 hours in a week, this should be no bar to enrollment. That’s because the actual statute makes no mention of a “3/4 rule”.

The Japanese do not play this game with their fellow Japanese, it appears. Or if they do, it is only in the rare circumstance. But it is, by and large, the case in Japan where the foreign worker does not get the Shakai Hoken—and usually told that they are “saving money” that way.

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One comment

  1. Mustang.Koji · July 30, 2012

    You know more about Japan than I – and not that I’m saying I’m Japanese (I’m not – I’m American).

    Japanese politicians are known to be leading scandalous lives. Its been that way since Japan became an island. Considering the extreme turnover other than caused by elections, nothing will be taken care of in this regard, I feel, especially when electrics and the tsunami aftermaths are more “important”.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

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