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  • Archive for the 'Pension System' Category

    Articles dealing with life and finances after retirement from the Japanese Pension System

    Come back Brazilian Nikkei, all is forgiven!, in a policy U-turn after GOJ Repatriation Bribes of 2009

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 19th October 2013

    In an apparent policy U-turn, the GOJ decided last week to lift the ban on certain South Americans of Japanese descent (Nikkei) from re-entering Japan. This after bribing them to leave in 2009 so that they would not become an inconvenient unemployment statistic (not to mention that it was cheaper to pay their airfare than to pay them their social welfare that they had invested in over the decades, or pay them their pensions in future when reaching retirement age).

    The reasons for this U-turn are being discussed in a recent Japan Times article, excerpted below. The article speculates that a couple of embarrassing lawsuits and visa-denials might have tipped the GOJ’s hand (I for one doubt it; Japan’s visa regimes, as can be seen for example in its perennial stance towards refugees, are generally impervious to public exposure and international pressure). I believe it was more an issue of the GOJ facing reality (as happened more than one year ago at the highest policymaking levels, where even the GOJ still maintained the stance that if immigration was an inevitability, they had better bring back people with Japanese blood; after all, the only ones in attendance were all Wajin and one token Nikkei).

    Debito.org has spoken out quite hot-tonguedly about how ludicrous the Nikkei Repatriation Bribe was, not the least because of its inherently racialized paradigms (because they only applied to Nikkei — people who were also in even more dire financial straits due to the economic downturn, such as the Chinese and Muslim factory workers laboring in conditions of indentured servitude, were left to fend for themselves because they lacked the requisite Japanese blood).

    So as a matter of course Debito.org cheers for the lifting of the ban. But the Bribe and the Ban should never have happened in the first place. So the GOJ can also take its lumps even if they are ultimately making the right decision.

    Does this mean that the numbers of registered NJ residents of Japan will start to increase again? I will say it could happen. I stress: could, not will happen. But if it did, that statistic, not any asset bubbles and transient stock-market numbers that people keep championing as the putative fruits of “Abenomics”, will be the real indicator of Japan’s recovery. That is to say, if Japan ever regains its sheen as an attractive place to work for international labor, then an increase in Japan’s NJ population will cause and signal a true leavening of Japan’s economic clout and prowess. But I remain skeptical at this juncture — as I’ve said before, the jig is up, and outsiders generally know that Japan has no intention or enforceable laws to treat immigrants as equals, no matter how much of their lives and taxes they invest.

    At this time, I believe international migrant labor will continue to vote with their feet and work elsewhere. So good luck with significant numbers coming to Japan even with this ban lifted.

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Lawsuits, Pension System, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 9 Comments »

    2012 revisions to immigration and registry laws shaking down NJ for Pension & Health Insurance back payments

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 30th May 2013

    Debito.org Reader: Don’t know if you’ve heard about the latest moves by the GOJ to milk foreign residents of their hard-earned cash. They are looking into NJ with the help of that new IC chip torokusho card and making people pay for the kokumin hoken health insurance AND nenkin pension they have never paid into. I know several people who have been hit with this and it has drained their bank accounts. They can’t even afford the plane ticket to go back home and see ailing parents. They said a lien would be put on their account/pay checks if they didn’t pay.

    COMMENT: We talk about Japan’s social welfare systems in detail in HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS (and my eBook GUIDEBOOK FOR RELOCATION AND ASSIMILATION INTO JAPAN). Personally, I take the side of everyone paying in. I believe that everyone in a society should support the national umbrella insurance systems, because opting out by saying, for example, “I’m not sick now so I don’t need it; I’ll only sign up when I get sick,” is fair-weather freeloading, as if you’re expecting a return on an investment when you need it but you didn’t make the investment in the first place.

    That said, there are a couple of issues that affect NJ differently here. One is that one of the reasons why some J have not paid in is because their employer (who is responsible to pay in half of their employees welfare benefits if they work 30 hours a week and up, i.e., full time) didn’t pay in their half. This is often unbeknownst to the NJ employee and a tax dodge by the employer. Yet the person who gets chased down for the back payments is the NJ employee.

    Another difference is that for the Japanese public you get a nicer attitude and less draconian enforcement. Japanese just get official posters nicely cajoling them to pay into the social welfare schemes, but there is no real enforcement unless they want future pension payments (or to avoid public shame, as was seen in 2004 when Japanese politicians were caught not paying in). But for NJ, now that all of their visa and registry issues have been consolidated behind Central Control, their very VISA RENEWALS are contingent upon paying into social welfare, and they’re being chased and shaken down for the money. It’s a very different approach, and the newfound dragnet further encourages bureaucrats to scrutinize and treat NJ as potential social deadbeats. It’s one more official way to treat NJ as “different”.

    Anyone else out there being officially shaken down? And for how much?

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Handbook for Newcomers, Immigration & Assimilation, Pension System, Practical advice, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 52 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 13, 2013 PART 2: New eBooks by Debito on sale now

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 14th May 2013

    New information about three new books of mine that are now out in downloadable eBook form:

    1) Debito’s eBook “GUIDEBOOK FOR RELOCATION AND ASSIMILATION INTO JAPAN” now available on Amazon and NOOK for download. USD $19.99

    Following December’s publication of the revised 2nd Edition of long-selling HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS comes a companion eBook for those who want to save paper (and money). A handy reference book for securing stable jobs, visas, and lifestyles in Japan, GUIDEBOOK has been fully revised and is on sale for $19.99 USD (or your currency equivalent, pegged to the USD on Amazons worldwide). See contents, reviews, and links to online purchasing outlets at http://www.debito.org/handbook.html

    2) Debito’s eBook “JAPANESE ONLY: THE OTARU ONSENS CASE AND RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN JAPAN” now available in a 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION on Amazon and NOOK for download. USD $9.99

    It has been more than ten years since bathhouses in Otaru, Hokkaido, put up “NO FOREIGNERS” signs at their front doors, and a full decade since the critically-acclaimed book about the landmark anti-discrimination lawsuit came out. Now with a new Introduction and Postscript updating what has and hasn’t changed in the interim, JAPANESE ONLY remains the definitive work about how discrimination by race remains a part of the Japanese social landscape. See contents, reviews, and links to online purchasing outlets at http://www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html

    3) Debito’s eBook “IN APPROPRIATE: A NOVEL OF CULTURE, KIDNAPPING, AND REVENGE IN MODERN JAPAN” now available on Amazon and NOOK for download. USD $9.99

    My first nonfiction novel that came out two years ago, IN APPROPRIATE is the story of a person who emigrates to Japan, finds his niche during the closing days of the Bubble Years, and realizes that he has married into a locally-prominent family whose interests conflict with his. The story is an amalgam of several true stories of divorce and child abduction in Japan, and has received great praise from Left-Behind Parents for its sincerity and authenticity. See contents, reviews, and links to online purchasing outlets at http://www.debito.org/inappropriate.html

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Child Abductions, Education, Good News, Handbook for Newcomers, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, Media, NJ legacies, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Pension System, Practical advice | No Comments »

    JT: Japan’s minimum retirement age to increase to 65 by 2025

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 6th April 2013

    Here’s something interesting for those of you working in Japan and intending to stay on until retirement. Those of you who have done the research (see also our HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN) will know that (aside from a quickie lump-sum you can withdraw if you’ve only paid in for a few years and are leaving Japan) you have to pay into Japan’s mandatory pension system for 300 months (i.e., 25 years) or you don’t get anything back. Further, you can’t collect it until the mandatory retirement age, which was 60, but now has been raised to 61 and soon will be raised to 65, according to the Japan Times. So that means that even if you want to stop work early even after paying in for 300 months, you simply cannot collect. This is also assuming that, given the decreasing population and increasing pensioners, Japan’s pension system will even be solvent by the time you reach retirement age. Something to think about.

    JT: From next month, when the 2013 fiscal year begins, the revised Law Concerning Stabilization of Employment of Older Persons takes effect, and the mandatory retirement age, defined as the minimum age for payout of social security pensions — last raised from 55 to 60 years in 1998 — will go up to 61, and then increase incrementally at the rate of one year of age every three years, until 2025, when the mandatory retirement age reaches 65.

    Posted in Handbook for Newcomers, Japanese Government, Pension System, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 16 Comments »

    Kyodo: NJ on welfare (unlike Japanese on welfare) now need to pay pension premiums, says Japan Pension Service

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 19th October 2012

    Kyodo: Japan Pension Service has drawn up a guideline that renders foreign residents on welfare no longer eligible for a uniform waiver from premium payments for the public pension, effectively a turnaround from a long-held practice of treating them equally with Japanese, sources familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

    Human rights activists said it is tantamount to discrimination based on nationality. In fiscal 2010, roughly 1.41 million households were on public assistance. Around 42,000 were households led by foreign residents.

    In a reply dated Aug. 10 to a query from a local pension service office, JPS, a government affiliate commissioned to undertake pension services, said, “Public assistance benefits are provided to foreigners living in poverty as done so for Japanese nationals, but foreigners are not subject to the law on public assistance.”

    Posted in Exclusionism, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Pension System, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 15 Comments »

    Case study about university contract termination of NJ reversed due to getting a lawyer

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 13th April 2010

    Guest writer: This past December, just before winter vacation, the owner of the college where I teach called me into his office and announced in no uncertain terms that in 3 months, at the end of March, I would be fired. After 24 years working for the school, with hardly any advanced warning, I was to be among the unemployed, and at an age (56) when it would be all but impossible to find a similar position in Japan.

    The owner, not so generously, said he would allow me to continue as a part-timer at the bottom of the pay scale, with a loss of health care benefits, at an income which, unless I came up with something to supplement it, would impossible to live on. In addition, he made it a point to explain, though I might have thought I was fulltime, for the first 5 years, (when I taught at both his high school and college) I actually was a part-timer, and that I could expect my retirement package to reflect it…

    As I believe that the circumstances I describe might apply to any number of foreign workers in Japan, I am writing in the hope you might gain from some of my mistakes. First of all, verbal agreements mean nothing. Insist on getting those promises in writing. When I interviewed for my job at the high school, there were three people in the room, but 24 years later, two of them are dead, and the only person who might verify my story is the man I had to take to court.

    If you believe in labor unions, better join up before you encounter any problems. Or if you do try joining a labor union, don’t let them know of your predicament, or else they will have nothing to do with you. (I couldn’t even get them to recommend a lawyer.) Basically labor union resources are reserved for members of long standing who have paid their dues…

    Finally, and most important of all, get a lawyer. I simply would have been a dead man without one. I was lucky enough to have a friend recommend one to me, and still luckier that he was willing to go to court. It never seemed to even occur to my boss that I would or could litigate. I had already received notice, the court date was set, and I was meeting with my lawyer. It was March 30th and one day from termination, when I got a fax from my school’s lawyer rescinding it. I’m back at work now as if nothing happened, though who is to say whether or not I won’t go through the same hell again next year.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Education, Labor issues, Pension System, Practical advice | 15 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column with my top ten NJ human rights issues for 2009

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 6th January 2010

    Opening: They say that human rights advances come in threes: two steps forward and one back. 2009, however, had good news and bad on balance. For me, the top 10 human rights events of the year that affected non-Japanese (NJ) were, in ascending order:

    10) “Mr. James”, 9) “The Cove”, 8) The pocket knife/pee dragnets (tie), 7) “Itchy and Scratchy” (another tie), 6) “Newcomers” outnumber “oldcomers”, 5) Sakanaka Proposals for a “Japanese-style immigration nation”, 4) IC-chipped “gaijin cards” and NJ juminhyo residency certificates (tie), 3) The Savoie child abduction case, 2) The election of the DPJ, and 1) The “Nikkei repatriation bribe”.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Pension System | 7 Comments »

    Mainichi: Shizuoka bureaucrats force Brazilian woman to take “Repatriation Bribe”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 15th September 2009

    Case number #4534 of why one does not allow untrained bureaucrats to make Immigration decisions: The potential for misunderstanding and abuse.

    Last April, the GOJ decided to offer unemployed Nikkei workers (only — this did not apply to Chinese etc. “Trainees and Researchers” because they did not have the correct blood) a 300,000 yen Repatriation Bribe for airplane tickets “back home”, not only asking them to void their visas and give up their paid-in pensions, but also to go elsewhere and just be somebody else’s problem.

    Now, according to the Mainichi of Sept 14, 2009, a local government tried to make any possible welfare benefits to a NJ contingent upon promising to take the Bribe and go home — a Catch-22 if ever there was one.

    Not too surprising. This is the same prefecture which around up to ten years ago restricted or denied NJ the right to sign up for the National Health Insurance (kokumin kenkou hoken) because they weren’t “kokumin” (citizens) .

    Fortunately, this case came out in the press. How many others have been duped here and elsewhere and forced to go home without it being reported? Shame on the GOJ for creating this policy avenue for abuse in the first place.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Pension System, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 7 Comments »

    Japan Times: NJ visas now contingent on enrollment in Japan’s health insurance program starting April 2010

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 3rd August 2009

    Japan Times: “In your wallet or somewhere at home, do you have a blue or pink card showing that you are enrolled in one of Japan’s national health and pension programs? If not, and if you are thinking of extending your stay here, you may want to think about a recent revision to visa requirements for foreign residents. The changes, which the Justice Ministry says were made in order to “smooth out the administrative process,” may have major consequences for foreign residents and their future in Japan.”

    The bottom line is that all residents of Japan … have to be enrolled in one or other of the two systems. The revised visa laws, therefore, should pose no threat to anyone’s visa renewal, because every foreigner in Japan should already be enrolled. However, the reality is that most foreigners in Japan do not have either form of insurance…

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Pension System, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 102 Comments »

    Asahi on future of Japanese pension plans: oldies below poverty line

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 2nd June 2009

    Asahi: The average household that starts receiving public pension benefits this fiscal year will see the payment level drop to about 40 percent of average working household incomes in 20 years, the welfare ministry said.

    The ministry’s latest estimates include changes in annual benefits over 20 years
    . If the average household begins receiving benefits in fiscal 2009 when the couple reach the age of 65, the payments will be 223,000 yen a month, or 62.3 percent of the average income of working households.

    When the couple become 85 years old, the pension amount will be 199,000 yen in terms of current values, or 43.2 percent of the average working household income.

    COMMENT: Here is the proposed future for those of us paying into our nation’s pension plan. Read and weep. Considering Japan’s unofficial poverty line is about 200,000 yen a month, people who retire are forecast to become just that: impoverished.

    Posted in Japanese Government, Labor issues, Pension System | 17 Comments »

    Revamped article on the Nikkei Repatriation Bribe

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 8th May 2009

    How has a government policy for a developed country disintegrated into something so ludicrous, where even officially sanctioned exclusionism has a hierarchy?…

    Put bluntly, the policy is: train one percent (5,000) to stay; bribe the rest to go and become some other country’s problem. In fact, the government stands to save a great deal of money by paying the nikkei a pittance in plane fares and repatriation fees, while keeping their many years of pension contributions (usually about 15% of monthly salary). By using this economic sleight-of hand, offering desperate people short-term cash if they foresake their long-term investments, this anti-assimilation policy becomes profitable for the government, while beggaring foreigners’ retirements…

    This is what happens when people are brought into a country by official government policy, yet for unofficial purposes at odds with official pledges. Japan has no immigration policy. It then becomes awkward for the government to make official pronouncements on how the new workforce is contributing to the economy, or why it should be allowed to stay. So the workforce remains in societal limbo. Then when things go wrong — in this case a tectonic macroeconomic shift — and the policy fails, it is the foreigners, not the government, who bear the brunt.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Pension System, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 10 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE: Apr 7 2009: ‘Golden parachutes’ for Nikkei only mark failure of race-based policy

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 7th April 2009

    Japan Times: Under an emergency measure drawn up by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party only last month, from April 1 the Japanese government is offering nikkei — i.e. workers of Japanese descent on “long-term resident” visas — a repatriation bribe. Applicants get ¥300,000, plus ¥200,000 for each family dependent, if they “return to their own country,” and bonuses if they go back sooner…

    Let this scheme sink in for a minute. We now have close to half a million nikkei living here, some of whom have been here up to 20 years, paying in their taxes and social security. They worked long hours at low wages to keep our factories competitive in the world economy. Although these policies have doubled Japan’s foreign population since 1990, few foreigners have been assimilated. Now that markets have soured, foreigners are the first to be laid off, and their unassimilated status has made them unmarketable in the government’s eyes. So now policy has become, “Train 1 percent (5,000) to stay, bribe the rest to be gone and become some other country’s problem.”

    Sound a bit odd? Now consider this: This scheme only applies to nikkei, not to other non-Japanese workers also here at Japan’s invitation. Thus it’s the ultimate failure of a “returnee visa” regime founded upon racist paradigms.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Pension System | 13 Comments »

    Nikkei Portuguese newspaper Jornal Tudo Bem: Partial Pensions denied NJ who don’t pay in full 24 years

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 29th May 2008

    Nikkei Portuguese newspaper Jornal Tudo Bem put on its front page this week, according to a friend who reads Portuguese, an article stating that NJ get no partial pensions unless they pay in the full 25 years (Japanese, however, get partial pensions commensurate to a partial payment). Administrative Solicitor Akira Higuchi says that’s not the case. Very confusing–let’s hope there’s some clarification forthcoming.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, Pension System | 10 Comments »