Hi Blog. We’ve had a discussion recently as part of Debito.org Comments about one of the side-effects of Japan’s new residency-certificate registration (juuminhyou) coming up in July. People suspect that the GOJ is using this revision as a means not only to make sure that local governments aren’t being “soft” on NJ visa overstayers (by denying them benefits even the Kyodo article below acknowledges they are entitled to), but also to check whether all NJ residents are registered and paying into Japan’s social insurance system. This is controversial because plenty of Japanese also opt out of the system, and also because it will possibly become a means to say, “Pay in or no visa renewal,” something that citizens obviously cannot be threatened with.
This is yet another example of social Othering on a policy level (if you want to tighten things up, you should do it across the board for everyone in Japan, not just NJ), not to mention with some pretty stiff potential penalties (back paying into the system may run into the tens and hundreds of man yen, which can be financially insurmountable, and unjust especially when some employers in Japan have conveniently forgotten to pay in their half of the NJ employee’s social insurance when hiring NJ full time). Thus NJ get uprooted from Japan due to their employer’s negligence.
I for one haven’t done enough research on what’s going to happen in coming months under the new system (my scrivener colleague in the visa industry himself too is waiting and seeing), but when it becomes plainer it’ll be discussed here. What IS plainer is that the Japanese media is already gearing up to portray the perpetual scapegoats for Japan’s social ills — NJ — this time as welfare spongers and social parasites. See the second article below.
Note that all of the things that are being alleged against foreign “welfare chiselers” in that article I’ve heard and seen being done by Japanese too (especially the fake marriage bit — but what’s not covered in the article is how a NJ visa changes when a divorce occurs, so it’s not that “easy”). But one need not mention that inconvenient detail. NJ shouldn’t be here anyway if they’re going to commit, er, the same crimes that Japanese commit. Once again, social Othering and scapegoating of a disenfranchised minority is SOP in Japan for lots of social ills — and worse yet, the specter of “foreign hordes taking advantage of Japan’s overgenerous system” sells newspapers and alienates the aliens. Nothing less than media-bred xenophobia. Arudou Debito
Some municipalities set to deny services to illegal foreign residents: poll
Kyodo News Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Foreigners residing in Japan illegally could lose access to education and health care services when the revised basic resident registration law takes effect even though they are still entitled to receive them, civic groups said Monday.
According to the Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan and other groups, dozens of the 72 municipalities that participated in the survey plan to deny services when the revision takes effect in July.
Four said they won’t allow children of illegal foreigners to be enrolled in public schools and 13 said they will not issue maternity health record books to pregnant foreign women who are residing illegally.
Another 12 said they won’t be able to subsidize delivery expenses for pregnant women in financial distress, while 33 said they will not vaccinate illegal foreigners against tuberculosis and other diseases, the survey said.
After the revision takes effect, foreigners will registered in the same residence system used by the Japanese.
In addition, illegal residents and asylum seekers will no longer be covered by the resident registry system, although the central government has repeatedly said they will continue to be entitled to basic services offered by municipalities.
The survey, which was conducted between January and March, highlighted misunderstandings on the part of local governments when it comes to providing basic services to illegal foreign residents. More confusion is expected to occur at municipal offices after the amended law enters force.
There were about 67,000 foreigners overstaying their visas as of January, according to Justice Ministry statistics.
Eriko Suzuki, an associate professor specializing in immigration policy at Kokushikan University, said the local governments polled mistakenly believe they cannot provide services to illegal foreign residents because they weren’t supposed to be in Japan to begin with.
The professor, who was involved in the survey, urged the central government to better inform municipalities about how to treat illegal aliens after the revised law takes effect.
Tabloid blasts growing numbers of foreign welfare chiselers
Japan Today.com KUCHIKOMI MAY. 29, 2012, courtesy of DR
“Malicious Foreign Welfare Recipients Increasing Rapidly” screams the yellow and red headline emblazoned across the front page of Yukan Fuji (May 25). The accompanying banner, in inverse white characters on a red background, reads “meticulous investigation.”
“If there’s a way to receive something, I can’t understand why you don’t accept it. How stupid can Japanese be?” chuckles Mr A, a 26-year-old man who lives somewhere in the Kanto area. The son of parents from an unnamed southeast Asian country—making A the second generation to live in Japan—he works as a regular staff member of a manufacturing company.
A’s newly purchased car, a Japanese model, cost 3 million yen. He can afford such goodies because he, his wife and their three children receive extra “pocket money” from the government.
“My wife began receiving welfare payments from last year,” he tells the tabloid. “Including child support and other subsidies, she gets 200,000 yen per month. When combined with my take-home pay, we get over 500,000 yen per month, or about 6 million yen per year. “
In the past, recipients of welfare had been limited, by law, to “Individuals whose income from work is insufficient to meet necessary living costs,” and by virtue of this, A should not be eligible. So how does he get away with it?
“Easy,” he says. “I divorced my wife.” And he did, on paper anyway. They still live together, so it’s what one might call a divorce of convenience.
“My ex-wife went to the city office and claimed she lacked ‘sufficient income to care for the children,’ and she was promptly judged eligible and began receiving welfare payments,” A confesses.
Should the authorities send a case worker to investigate, they would find the wife residing in a separate apartment, which she rents. But actually she continues to live together with her “former” husband.
“Once a month, a case worker will pay a visit, but since notification is always made in advance, all my wife has to do is take the kids over to the rental apartment ahead of time,” he says.
Mr A tells Yukan Fuji that nearly all the inhabitants of the public housing development where he lives are foreigners.
“There are some Chinese and Indians, but people from my country are the most numerous, more than 300. Most of them are receiving welfare,” he says.
Yukan Fuji remarks that indeed there may be foreigners whose difficult situation warrants welfare, but in the case of Mr A, we’re looking at flat-out fraud.
According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, as of February 2012, 73,995 foreign nationals were receiving welfare payments—more than double the figure of 2000, when the average for foreign recipients in any given month was 32,858 recipients.
An official at the health ministry told the reporter that foreigners deemed eligible to receive such payments include “Permanent residents and residents who are preparing for permanent status, those with officially recognized refugee status and those with Japanese spouses.”
“There’s no doubt that the number of foreigners taking advantage of flaws in the system has been increasing,” says Professor Ryu Michinaka of Kansai University of International Studies. “Some take the form of spurious divorces or falsified documentation. Even in cases when the government offices suspect something illegal is going on, they’ll invoke the ‘language barrier’ and just pretend they don’t understand.”
The foreign welfare chiselers also share the tricks of the trade with their compatriots, and parents also give advice to their children, creating next-generation social parasites.
“There aren’t enough case workers to check out the applicants,” adds Michinaka. “One case worker might have to cover 80 families, or sometimes even twice that number. Ironically, the total incomes for some of the families might be more than the caseworker earns in salary.”
Japan needs to put its collective foot down and put an end this “haven” that makes it so easy for unscrupulous foreigners to feed at the public’s expense, the article concludes.