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  • In a stunning decision, Japan’s Supreme Court overturns Fukuoka High Court, rules that NJ Permanent Residents (etc.) not automatically eligible for social welfare benefits

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on July 18th, 2014

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    Hi Blog. There has already been an enormous outpouring of outrage at Friday’s Supreme Court decision in Japan’s NJ communities, so Debito.org will echo those sentiments and provide a forum for them to also be expressed here.

    In an event sure to make my year-end top ten most important human rights issues of 2014, Japan’s highest court just overturned the Fukuoka High Court’s 2011 decision, ruling that an octogenarian granny who, despite being born in Japan, living her life here as a Zainichi Special Permanent Resident, and contributing to Japan’s social welfare systems, has no right to the benefits of her contributions because she’s foreign (i.e., not “kokumin”).  More comment after the articles:

    /////////////////////////////////////////
    NATIONAL / SOCIAL ISSUES
    Foreign residents can’t claim welfare benefits: Supreme Court
    Japan Times/KYODO JUL 18, 2014, Courtesy lots of people
    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/18/national/social-issues/top-court-rules-non-japanese-residents-ineligible-welfare-benefits/

    The Supreme Court ruled Friday that foreigners with permanent residency status are ineligible for welfare benefits, overturning a decision by the Fukuoka High Court that had acknowledged their eligibility under the public assistance law.

    The decision by the top court’s Second Petit Bench concerned a lawsuit filed by an 82-year-old Chinese woman with permanent residency who was born and grew up in Japan.

    The woman applied for welfare benefits with the Oita municipal office in Oita Prefecture in December 2008 but was denied the benefits on the grounds she had some savings.

    The woman then filed a suit demanding that the city’s decision be repealed. She is now receiving the benefits because the municipality accepted her welfare application in October 2011.

    While the recipients of welfare benefits are limited to Japanese nationals by law, the government issued a notice in 1954 saying foreigners should be treated in accordance with the public assistance law.

    Since the government limited recipients to Japanese nationals and foreigners with permanent residency in 1990, municipalities have exercised their discretion in doling out the benefits.

    In October 2010, the Oita District Court rejected the plaintiff’s suit, saying that denying the public assistance law to foreigners was within the discretion of a municipal government.

    In November 2011, however, the Fukuoka High Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, saying that foreigners with permanent residency have been protected under the public assistance law.
    /////////////////////////////////////////

    最高裁が初判断「外国人は生活保護法の対象外」
    NHK 7月18日 17時49分, Courtesy PKU
    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20140718/k10013123601000.html

    日本に住む外国人が生活に困窮した場合、法的に生活保護の対象になるかどうかが争われた裁判で、最高裁判所は「法律が保護の対象とする『国民』に外国人は含まれない」とする初めての判断を示しました。

    生活に困窮した外国人への生活保護費の支給は、永住資格を持つ人や難民認定された人などを対象に、人道上の観点から自治体の裁量で行われています。
    これについて、永住資格を持つ大分市の中国国籍の女性が起こした裁判で、外国人が法的にも保護の対象になるかどうかが争いになり、2審の福岡高等裁判所が「法的な保護の対象だ」と判断したため、国が上告していました。
    18日の判決で最高裁判所第2小法廷の千葉勝美裁判長は「生活保護法が保護の対象とする『国民』に外国人は含まれない」とする初めての判断を示しました。
    そのうえで「法的保護の対象を拡大するような法改正もされておらず、外国人は自治体の裁量による事実上の保護の対象にとどまる」と指摘して、2審の判決を取り消しました。
    今回の最高裁判決はあくまで法律の解釈を示したもので、自治体が裁量で行っている外国人への生活保護には直ちに影響を及ぼさないものとみられます。

    原告弁護士が判決を批判
    判決について、原告の弁護士は会見で「法律の中の『国民』ということばだけを見て、実態に踏み込んでいない形式的な判断だ。外国人に生活保護を受給させるかどうかは行政の自由裁量だと最高裁がお墨付きを与えるもので問題だ」と批判しました。
    さらに「外国人は日本で生活してはいけないと言っているのと同じで、安倍内閣は成長戦略の一環として外国人の受け入れを拡大するとしながら、一方でセーフティネットは認めないというのなら日本にこようとする外国人はいないだろう。なんらかの形で外国人の受給について法律の改正をしなければならない」と指摘しました。

    /////////////////////////////////////////

    COMMENT:  The implications of this are pretty obvious:  NJ can be taxed and exploited at will, but if there’s ever a question of the local government not thinking that NJ deserve social welfare benefits, too bad, because they’re not guaranteed.  We’ll just take your money and deprive you of any guarantee that you’ll ever any equal benefit from it.

    I’ve written about this case numerous times before.  Excerpts:

    /////////////////////////////////////////

    Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits

    Kyodo: A Japanese court repealed on Thursday a decision by Oita Prefecture in southwestern Japan not to examine a request from a 78-year-old Chinese woman to look into a decision by Oita City that rejected her application for welfare benefits.

    A three-judge panel at the Oita District Court acted on a suit filed by the woman, who has obtained permanent residency status in Japan, against the Oita prefectural government decision that turned away the woman’s request, filed in February last year, to examine the Oita municipal government decision not to provide welfare benefits to her.

    The prefectural government dismissed the woman’s request without examining it, saying she was not eligible to seek benefits because she does not have Japanese nationality.

    In Thursday’s ruling, the district court said the prefectural government must review the municipal government decision in line with the woman’s request, and decide whether she should be given benefits.

    Presiding Judge Kenji Kanamitsu brushed aside the prefectural government’s argument that the city’s decision not to provide her with benefits was a ”unilateral administrative action” against a foreigner who has no right to seek welfare benefits, and not an ”administrative decision” as she claimed, whose appropriateness can be reviewed under the administrative appeal law.

    Judge Kanamitsu said the woman is ”obviously” eligible to ask the prefectural government to review the municipal government decision.

    ”An application for welfare benefits has been rejected, and it means the same to the applicants, regardless of their nationalities,” the judge said…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7563

    BUT

    17) Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.

    After a half-month interlude of light and reason (as in September 30 to October 18), where it actually looked like a Japanese courtroom was actually going to be nice to somebody and rule against The State, another court has come along and put things back to normal:

    Mainichi: The Oita District Court ruled on Oct. 18 that foreigners with the right to permanent residence but without Japanese citizenship are not entitled to welfare benefits, rejecting the claims of a 78-year-old Chinese woman who sued after being denied benefits by the Oita city government…

    According to the ruling, the woman has Chinese nationality but was born in Japan and holds the right to permanent residence. In December 2008, the woman applied to the welfare office in Oita city for welfare payments, but was turned down with the reason that she had “a comfortable amount of money” in her savings.

    The main issues of the trial became whether the woman held the right as a foreigner to receive welfare payments and whether her financial status justified her receiving aid…”

    COMMENT: Gee, that was quick by Japanese judicial standards! I guess they know the value of putting the kibosh on something before the floodgates open: Can’t have all the goddamn foreigners expecting to have rights to something like our social welfare benefits, especially at an advanced age.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7639

    =================================

    Then, as the clock continues to run out for this superannuated NJ, we now have another flip, fortunately in the more inclusive direction:

    =================================

    Court rules noncitizens are eligible for welfare

    The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 17, 2011), courtesy of lots of people
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T111116006297.htm

    FUKUOKA–The Fukuoka High Court ruled Tuesday that permanent residents in in Japan with foreign nationalities are eligible to receive public welfare assistance, overturning a lower court ruling.

    The high court accepted an appeal by a 79-year-old woman who is a permanent resident in Japan with Chinese nationality. She filed the lawsuit, claiming that the Oita city government illegally rejected her request for public welfare assistance.

    Presiding Judge Hiroshi Koga said in the ruling, “Foreign citizens with permanent residency [in Japan] are legally guaranteed the same status as Japanese citizens who receive the same treatment.”

    The high court overturned the Oita District Court’s ruling and nullified the Oita city government’s decision not to grant the woman public welfare benefits.

    According to a lawyer for the plaintiff, it is the nation’s first court ruling to present a legal basis for foreign permanent residents in Japan to receive public welfare benefits.

    According to the ruling, the woman applied for the public welfare at the Oita city government in December 2008, but the city government rejected her request.

    The point at issue in the lawsuit was whether the Daily Life Protection Law can be applied to noncitizens.

    Full blog entry at http://www.debito.org/?p=9658

    /////////////////////////////////////////

    And as I wrote in my Japan Times column of January 3, 2012, where I was ranking the Top Ten Human Rights Issues of 2012 for NJ in Japan:

    =================================

    6.  Oita denial of benefits overturned

    News photo

    In 2008, Oita Prefecture heartlessly rejected a welfare application from a 78-year-old Chinese (a permanent resident born in Japan) because she is somehow still a foreigner. Then, in a shocking ruling on the case two years later, the Oita District Court decreed that NJ are not automatically eligible for social welfare. Finally, in November, this stubborn NJ, in her 80th year, won a reversal at the Fukuoka High Court — on the grounds that international law and treaty created obligations for “refugees (sic) (to be accorded) treatment at least as favorable as that accorded to their nationals.”

    What caused the confusion was that in 1981, the Diet decided that revising the public welfare law to eliminate nationality requirements was unnecessary, since practical application already provided NJ with benefits. Three decades later, Oita Prefecture and its district court still hadn’t gotten the memo.

    Bravo for this NJ for staying alive long enough to prize her case away from xenophobic local bureaucrats and set congruent legal precedents for all NJ.

    Full article at http://www.debito.org/?p=9837

    /////////////////////////////////////////

    And now the pendulum has swung again, with a great big Bronx Cheer for all NJ in Japan.

    My final thought on this for now is how the online commenters (who consistently blame NJ for anything bad that happens to them) spin this one against the plaintiff?  It’s a challenge:  She’s an 82-year-old granny Zainichi living her entire life in Japan trying to get her tax benefits back, for heaven’s sake.  Still, the reflexes are kicking in.  We’ve already had one person commenting at the Japan Times about how this ruling was a means to deal with “illegal immigrants” somehow (the JT immediately spotted this as trolling and deleted it; wish they would be more proactive with my columns, as trolls keep derailing any meaningful debate).  Any more gems out there, go ahead and quote them in the Comments section below.  A ruling this egregiously anti-NJ becomes an interesting psychological experiment to see how far the self-hating gaijin will go to deny they have any rights to anything whatsoever in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    UPDATE JULY 25, 2014: THIS VERY BLOG ENTRY GETS CITED IN THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST.  THANKS!

    Anger erupts over court denial of welfare to foreign permanent residents of Japan
    Japanese Supreme Court rules that a Chinese permanent resident is not entitled to payouts even though she has paid taxes all her life
    SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST : Monday, 21 July, 2014,
    Julian Ryall in Tokyo
    http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1557063/anger-erupts-over-court-denial-welfare-foreign-permanent-residents-japan

    Activists, analysts and foreign residents of Japan have reacted with dismay to a decision by the Supreme Court that foreigners with permanent residency are not entitled to welfare benefits.

    Friday’s ruling by the highest court means that even foreign nationals born in Japan, who have spent all their lives in the country and paid their taxes, national insurance premiums and state pension requirements are still not guaranteed to receive financial support when they need it.

    The Supreme Court’s decision overturned an earlier ruling by the Fukuoka high court that granted welfare to an 82-year-old Chinese woman who was born and raised in Japan.

    The woman had applied for assistance to the municipal office in Oita prefecture in December 2008, but her request was refused because she had savings. The woman launched a legal case demanding that the decision be reversed on the grounds that she had paid taxes to the national and prefectural governments throughout her life.

    In the first ruling of its kind, the Supreme Court stated that, from a legal standpoint, permanent foreign residents do not qualify for public assistance because they are not Japanese.

    The ruling apparently gives local authorities across Japan the legal right to halt financial assistance to non-Japanese residents. The fact that many municipalities across the country are facing economic hardship may increase the risk of city governments seeking to exercise that right.

    “It’s shameful,” said Eric Fior, a French national who owns a language school in Yokohama and who has lived in Japan for more than a decade.

    “It’s bad enough that foreign residents do not have the right to vote at any level in Japan, but when you pay your taxes and contribute to the pension scheme, it’s something of an insult to be told that you have no right to get some of that money back when you need it,” he said.

    “I imagine that many foreign residents will be asking themselves why they have to pay their taxes.”

    The Oita case has been followed closely by Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese who was born in the United States and has become a leading rights activist after being refused access to a public bath in Hokkaido because he is “foreign”.

    “The implications of this are pretty obvious,” Arudou wrote in his most recent blog posting. “Non-Japanese can be taxed and exploited at will, but if there’s ever a question of the local government thinking that nonJapanese deserve social welfare benefits, too bad because they’re not guaranteed,” he wrote.

    “We’ll just take your money and deprive you of any guarantee that you’ll ever get any equal benefit from it.”

    The post has generated heated comment. One person wrote: “The sheer pettiness and nastiness of the court’s decision just disgusts me.”

    Other posters said the decision would have an impact on the government’s campaign to attract skilled foreign nationals to work in Japan in an effort to combat the dramatically shrinking population.

    Conservatives have applauded the court’s decision.

    “The state cannot provide benefits to all the poor people who come to Japan,” said Yoichi Shimada, a professor of international relations at Fukui Prefectural University.

    “The problem in this particular case is that the woman chose not to take Japanese nationality and chose to remain Chinese,” he said. “If Japan allowed all foreign residents unlimited access to welfare, then the country would go bust.”

    This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Foreigners riled over welfare ruling
    ENDS

    61 Responses to “In a stunning decision, Japan’s Supreme Court overturns Fukuoka High Court, rules that NJ Permanent Residents (etc.) not automatically eligible for social welfare benefits”

    1. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Japan = O-mo-te-na-shi!
      Oh, wait, no it doesn’t, does it?
      Japan = Discriminatory only.

      Umm, that’s another good idea for a T-shirt.

    2. Onceagaijin,alwaysagaijin Says:

      Well that really blows the lid right off things doesn’t it, revealing the real face of the authorities. It doesn’t matter if you spent 30 or more years paying all your taxes, health and national insurance payments. Nope. They are effectively stolen. Because you’re not Japanese, so you should not stay here.

      Look, here is the bargain: We take your best years, your talents, your labor, your social investments and most of all, all your money. Then if you don’t like getting some of it back in your old age, just “go home.” You’re a foreigner anyway and don’t count.

      The sheer pettiness and nastiness of the court’s decision just disgusts me. My worry though is that when you look at, for example, some stories, you don’t see “Special Permanent Resident” or 永住者, you only see “foreigners.” That IMO is deliberately misleading. The POINT was whether or not people who have paid in and genuinely have a stake in this society would not get ripped off or not. But by not mentioning that the ruling overturned an earlier ruling about permanent residents, it gives the impression that the court has just saved the taxpayer a fortune by avoiding dolling out cash to undesirable lazy foreign scum who want to take advantage of our wonderful omotenashi.

      Naive, kind, innocent, hardworking, civilized Japanese saved from potential hoards evil foreigners trying to take advantage of Japan’s world-leading wa society and other nativist bullshit – it’s all there bubbling under the surface, IMO.

    3. Bystander Says:

      First things first: I am not defending the decision. But I did notice a difference between the Japan Times report and what was said on NHK News, to the effect that the Supreme Court said its judgement was based on the wording of Japan’s current law, which apparently limits eligibility to 国民 (kokumin, or citizens). The court said that it was the job of the Diet to revise the wording of the law and remove the “ambiguities” with regard to eligibility. Eventually I suppose the Diet will address this issue. I’m not offering any predictions as to how it will turn out.

    4. William O. Says:

      A point of clarification: the NHK article above and other Japanese reports I’ve seen say this ruling applies specifically to 生活保護, or social welfare to alleviate poverty. This ruling as I understand it does not apply to pension, health insurance, or unemployment insurance. I am not defending the ruling at all by the way, but I think it’s important to be clear what it covers. That said, has anyone seen reliable articles in Japanese saying that this ruling applies to these three benefits? Even if it doesn’t, I would certainly be worried that it might be interpreted as saying that foreigners, regardless if payment into the system, still aren’t covered.

    5. Jon Says:

      I’m wondering how this affects the pension situation. In Autumn of next year the requirement for pension eligibility was to be reduced to ten years payments. I’ve never been convinced that this would actually be enforced, but even if it is I have a feeling it won’t apply to non-Japanese.

    6. Adam2 Says:

      This country will meet change as long as they have the same old guards and their families ruling the country. This is why I have never paid my health insurance while I lived there even as PR. I had pirate one. The same goes to pension. If I paid and left I would only receive back 3 years of my 14 years spent there according to their stupid law. Thieves!!!

    7. DeBourca Says:

      This is pure Japanese thinking. Foreigners have no rights whatsoever in Japan. They have priviliges that can be allowed or rescinded on a case by case basis. You could be paying into a system for decades, as a permanent resident and have your benefits stopped. If employers rip you off or decide not to pay taxes on your behalf, this judgement shows that you have no rights on this, other than what the particular judge hearing your case may decide. You are in Japan at the pleasure of the Japanese state and you will be booted out as soon as you are deemed surplus to requirements.Of course, the hypocrisy s that NJ are still made to pay taxes (often one hundred percent from their own pockets as opposed to via their employers)

      Foreigners really need to be aware of this when considering living in Japan. The ecomomy is getting worse, and the huge amount of elderly are demanding more of the shrinking resources. The well paid public servants and upper echelons of Japanese society certainly are not going to give up their benefits, so NJ will be increasingly squeezed and robbed. This will get worse and worse.

    8. Getchan Says:

      I recall this case from 2011, and I think it had been reported, that Oita City refused benefits on the grounds, that the plaintiff still had savings. Savings would be grounds for refusal of benefits for Japanese citizens, too. The plaintiff’s savings were reportedly exceeding 10 million yen…
      Can someone please clarify the savings situation?

    9. dude Says:

      WIlliam O. – check these links:
      1 http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/SydLRev/1999/9.pdf – Summary: You are no longer a Japanese citizen, therefore no compensation for disability due to years of service in Japanese military (while at the time a Japanese citizen…).

      2 http://www.usjp.org/towardpeace_en/tpCompensation_en.html – very detailed study.

      3 http://www.japanfocus.org/-William-Underwood/2689%23 – “Partly to discourage Koreans from fleeing worksites in wartime Japan, companies funneled their salaries into “patriotic savings accounts” and made mandatory deductions for the national welfare pension fund.” Then they nationalized the accounts. Then they revoked Japanese citizenship. Then they cannot pay, because the people are no longer Japanese citizens. Sure, that makes sense.

      Back to Debito’s post:
      A woman, born, & raised in Japan, now elderly, and the J system denies her benefits? Standard Operating Procedure for Japan, Inc. They have been doing this for 60 years, and no one noticed, or cared, or boycotted their products.

      After reading even one of the three links above, do you think your pension (is it still called the “national welfare pension”?) will be there when you need it? Because paying into the system (earning it) means nothing, if you are NJ.
      Are you willing to gamble (wait until retirement age) to find out?
      If you become a statistic, and don’t get your pension, file a lawsuit, and lose – who will care? Will your government do anything to help you? If you are American, the answer is “no”.

      Take your blinders off. Japan is “the land of two systems” – one for Japanese, one for NJ. Notice I did not say “citizens”. The only thing new here is that this is 2014, and they are still using smoke, mirrors, and legal diversions to screw NJ – and getting away with it.

    10. irezumi_aniki Says:

      Things like this don’t leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy for sure.

      However, she was born here, raised here, and lived here her whole life, so you have to wonder why she just didn’t naturalize. Court documents from her side of it say that she can’t speak Chinese, etc, etc, and besides nationality, she’s the same as any Japanese (citizen). If that’s the case, she should have naturalized. Not sure if it’s possible now considering her income and what have you. I’m probably just being cold about this and will upset other posters, but yeah. She’s still technically a foreigner and asking for welfare checks. How many countries would accept that?

      Anyway, here’s the legal reasoning for the decision. Not going to lie. I got half way through and then got bored.

      http://www.tbsradio.jp/ss954/2014/07/post-299.html

      *And as William O. pointed out, social welfare is different from pension, so that’s kind of a different story. Unless I’m horribly wrong*

      2014年7月19日お知らせ資料
      「永住外国人生活保護訴訟 最高裁判決」判決文(全文掲載)

      永住資格を持つ中国籍の82歳の女性が、生活保護申請を却下した大分市の処分は違法だとして、市に処分の取り消しを求めていた訴訟の上告審判決で、最高裁第2小法廷(千葉勝美裁判長)は7月18日、外国人には生活保護法は適用されないという初めての判断を示しました。「デイリー・ニュース・セッション」のコーナーで取り上げたこの判決ついて、番組で判決文を書き起しましたので、以下にその全文を掲載します。

      ===

      平成24年(行ヒ)第45号

           判決

          当事者の表示   別紙当事者目録記載のとおり

      上記当事者間の福岡高等裁判所平成22年(行コ)第38号生活保護開始決定義務付け等請求事件について、同裁判所が平成23年11月15日に言い渡した判決に対し、上告人から上告があった。よって、当裁判所は、次のとおり判決する。

           主文

         原判決中上告人敗訴部分を破棄する。
         前項の部分につき、被上告人の控訴を棄却する。
         控訴費用及び上告費用は被上告人の負担とする。

           理由

      上告代理人青野洋士ほかの上告受理申立て理由(ただし、排除された部分を除く。)について

      1 本件は、永住者の在留資格を有する外国人である被上告人が、生活保護法に基づく生活保護の申請をしたところ、大分市福祉事務所長から同申請を違法に却下する処分を受けたとして、上告人を相手に、その取消し等を求める事案である。

      2 原審の適法に確定した事実関係等の概要は、次のとおりである。

      (1)被上告人の状況等
       ア 被上告人は、永住者の在留資格を有する外国人である。
       被上告人は、同じく永住者の在留資格を有する外国人である夫とともに料理店を営んで生活をしていたが、昭和53年頃に夫が体調を崩した後は、夫が所有する建物と夫の亡父が所有していた駐車場の賃料収入等で生活していた。
       被上告人は、平成16年9月頃から夫が認知症により入院し、同18年4月頃以降、被上告人宅で夫の弟と生活を共にするようになり、その後、夫の弟に預金通帳や届出印を取り上げられるなどされ、生活費の支弁に支障を来すようになった。

       イ 被上告人は、平成20年12月15日、大分市福祉事務所長に対し、生活保護の申請をしたが、同福祉事務所長は、被上告人及びその夫名義の預金の残高が相当額あるとの理由で、同月22日付けで同申請を却下する処分(以下「本件却下処分」という。)をした。

       なお、被上告人については、平成23年10月26日、上記申請の後にされた別途の申請に基づいて生活保護の措置が開始された。

      (2)外国人に対する生活保護の措置
       ア 旧生活保護法(昭和25年法律第144号による廃止前のもの)は、1条において、「この法律は、生活の保護を要する状態にある者の生活を、国が差別的又は優先的な取扱をなすことなく平等に保護して、社会の福祉を増進することを目的とする。」と規定していた。

       現行の生活保護法は、1条において、「この法律は、日本国憲法第25条に規定する理念に基づき、国が生活に困窮するすべての国民に対し、その困窮の程度に応じ、必要な保護を行い、その最低限度の生活を保障するとともに、その自立を助長することを目的とする。」と規定し、2条において、「すべて国民は、この法律の定める要件を満たす限り、この法律による保護(以下「保護」という。)を、無差別平等に受けることができる。」と規定している。

       イ 昭和29年5月8日、厚生省において、各都道府県知事に宛てて「生活に困窮する外国人に対する生活保護の措置について」と題する通知(昭和29年社発第382号厚生省社会局長通知。以下「本件通知」という。)が発出され、以後、本件通知に基づいて外国人に対する生活保護の措置が行われている。
       本件通知は、外国人は生活保護法の適用対象とはならないとしつつ、当分の間、生活に困窮する外国人に対しては日本国民に対する生活保護の決定実施の取扱いに準じて必要と認める保護を行うものとし、その手続については、当該外国人が要保護状態にあると認められる場合の保護実施機関から都道府県知事への報告、当該外国人がその属する国の代表部等から必要な保護等を受けることができないことの都道府県知事による確認等を除けば、日本国民と同様の手続によるものとしている。
       平成2年10月、厚生省において、本件通知に基づく生活保護の対象となる外国人の範囲について、本来最低生活保障と自立助長を趣旨とする生活保護が予定する対象者は自立可能な者でなければならないという見地からは外国人のうち永住的外国人のみが生活保護の措置の対象となるべきであるとして、出入国管理及び難民認定法別表第2記載の外国人(以下「永住的外国人」という。)に限定する旨の取扱いの方針が示された。

      (3)難民条約等への加入の経緯
       ア 昭和56年3月、難民の地位に関する条約(昭和56年条約第21号。以下「難民条約」という。)及び難民の地位に関する議定書(昭和57年条約第1号。以下、難民条約と併せて「難民条約等」という。)に我が国が留保を付することなく加入する旨の閣議決定がされたが、難民条約23条が「締約国は、合法的にその領域内に滞在する難民に対し、公的扶助及び公的援助に関し、自国民に与える待遇と同一の待遇を与える。」と定めていたことから、生活保護法のほか国民年金法や児童扶養手当法等に規定されていた国籍要件(社会保障の給付に係る法令の定める要件のうちその適用の対象につき「国民」又は「日本国民」と定めるものをいう。以下同じ。)の改正の要否が問題となり、「難民の地位に関する条約等への加入に伴う出入国管理令その他関係法律の整備に関する法律」等により、国民年金法や児童扶養手当法等については国籍要件を撤廃する旨の改正がされたものの、生活保護法については同様の改正はされなかった。
       イ 難民条約等への加入に際して条約及び関連法案に関する審査のために設置された衆議院法務委員会、同外務委員会及び同社会労働委員会の連合審査会において、昭和56年5月、政府委員は、生活保護に係る制度の発足以来、外国人についても実質的に自国民と同じ取扱いで生活保護の措置を実施し、予算上も自国民と同様の待遇をしているので、生活保護法の国籍要件を撤廃しなくても難民条約等への加入には支障がない旨の答弁をした。

      3 原審は,要旨次のとおり判断して,被上告人の本件却下処分の取消しを求める請求を認容した(なお,原判決中上記請求に係る部分以外の部分は、不服申立てがされておらず,当審の審理の対象とされていない。)。

       前記2(2)及び(3)の経緯によれば、難民条約等への加入及びこれに伴う国会審議を契機として,国が外国人に対する生活保護について一定の範囲で法的義務を負い,一定の範囲の外国人に対し日本国民に準じた生活保護法上の待遇を与えることを立法府と行政府が是認したものということができ,一定の範囲の外国人において上記待遇を受ける地位が法的に保護されることになったものである。また,生活保護の対象となる外国人の範囲を永住的外国人に限定したことは,これが生活保護法の制度趣旨を理由としていることからすれば,外国人に対する同法の準用を前提としたものとみるのが相当である。よって,一定の範囲の外国人も生活保護法の準用による法的保護の対象になるものと解するのが相当であり,永住的外国人である被上告人はその対象となるものというべきである。

      4 しかしながら,原審の上記判断は是認することができない。その理由は,次のとおりである。

       (1)前記2(2)アのとおり,旧生活保護法は,その適用の対象につき「国民」であるか否かを区別していなかったのに対し,現行の生活保護法は,1条及び2条において,その適用の対象につき「国民」と定めたものであり,このように同法の適用の対象につき定めた上記各条にいう「国民」とは日本国民を意味するものであって,外国人はこれに含まれないものと解される。
       そして,現行の生活保護法が制定された後,現在に至るまでの間,同法の適用を受ける者の範囲を一定の範囲の外国人に拡大するような法改正は行われておらず,同法上の保護に関する規定を一定の範囲の外国人に準用する旨の法令も存在しない。
       したがって,生活保護法を始めとする現行法令上,生活保護法が一定の範囲の外国人に適用され又は準用されると解すべき根拠は見当たらない。

       (2)また、本件通知は行政庁の通達であり,それに基づく行政措置として一定範囲の外国人に対して生活保護が事実上実施されてきたとしても、そのことによって,生活保護法1条及び2条の規定の改正等の立法措置を経ることなく,生活保護法が一定の範囲の外国人に適用され又は準用されるものとなると解する余地はなく,前記2(3)の我が国が難民条約等に加入した際の経緯を勘案しても,本件通知を根拠として外国人が同法に基づく保護の対象となり得るものとは解されない。なお,本件通知は,その文言上も,生活に困窮する外国人に対し,生活保護法が適用されずその法律上の保護の対象とならないことを前提に,それとは別に事実上の保護を行う行政措置として,当分の間,日本国民に対する同法に基づく保護の決定実施と同様の手続きにより必要と認める保護を行うことを定めたものであることは明らかである。

       (3)以上によれば、外国人は、行政庁の通達等に基づく行政措置により事実上の保護の対象となり得るにとどまり、生活保護法に基づく保護の対象となるものではなく、同法に基づく受給権を有しないものというべきである。
      そうすると、本件却下処分は、生活保護法に基づく受給権を有しない者による申請を却下するものであって、適法である。

      5 以上と異なる原審の上記判断には、判決に影響を及ぼすことが明らかな法令の違反がある。論旨は上記の趣旨をいうものとして理由があり、原判決中上告人敗訴部分は破棄を免れない。そして、以上と同旨の見解に立って、被上告人の本件却下処分の取り消しを求める請求は理由がないとしてこれを棄却した第1審判決は是認することができるから、上記部分に関する被上告人の控訴を棄却すべきである。なお、原判決中上記請求に係る部分以外の部分(被上告人敗訴部分)は、不服申立てがされておらず、当審の審理の対象とされていない。

      よって、裁判官全員一致の意見で、主文のとおり判決する。

      最高裁判所第二小法廷
      裁判長裁判官 千葉勝美
      裁判官 小貫芳信
      裁判官 鬼丸かおる
      裁判官 山本庸幸
      ENDS

    11. Dave Says:

      All I can say: Disgusting Japan.

    12. Kirk Masden Says:

      In response to Irezumi_aniki:

      I would be interested to hear her thoughts on why she did not choose to naturalize. I’m not critical, however, of those who choose not to take on Japanese citizenship. The reason is the relative lack of what Americans call hyphenated identity (Japanese-American, etc.) in Japan. My impression is that in the past (when this person might have been thinking more seriously about naturalization) “becoming Japanese” has meant taking on a new name and otherwise expunging all signs of one’s non-Japanese identity or heritage. Some families have viewed this as a kind of betrayal — not just a personal, practical matter. I think that when terms like 中国系日本人 (“Chinese-Japanese” or “Japanese of Chinese ancestry) come to be used commonly, one reason NOT to naturalize will be removed.

    13. Loverilakkuma Says:

      This is even worse than Hobby Lobby case. I guess SCOUJ(Supreme Court Of Japan) must be occupied by conservative pundits following Scalia, Alito, and Roberts.

    14. Charles Says:

      I was so angry when I read about this.

      Don’t get me wrong, I never plan to go on welfare. Since arriving in Japan, I have consistently saved money every single year. Unless there’s a total disaster, I’m on track to retire early without having to resort to welfare payments.

      The reason it makes me angry is that if the government of Japan can just suddenly, out of the blue, unilaterally decide to cancel an NJ’s right to welfare payments even after that NJ has lived here for about 82 years and paid in for many decades, what’s to stop them from going after the pension, too? I mean, the logic is the same: “We don’t care that you pay in for decades and decades, possibly more than a Japanese person. You aren’t Japanese. You don’t have any rights. Denied.”

      I pay in roughly 180,000 yen into the pension system every year. And until yesterday, I believed “if I keep doing that for 25 years, I’ll be eligible to receive a pension indefinitely when I get old, at least if there’s any money left in the pension system when I’m old.” Well, yesterday, those hopes were dashed. It doesn’t matter if we’ve paid in for years–the Japanese government can just steal our money and say “sorry, ineligible” at the drop of a hat, if they feel that us collecting what we have EARNED through decades of blood, sweat, and tears, is inconvenient for them.

      So basically, I could work here for the 25 years required to get money out of the pension system, retire, and then find that the Japanese government just stole 4.5 million yen (minimum) from me. Because the logic behind canceling pension (“you’re a foreigner so you’re not entitled to anything even if you have paid in for decades”) is the same logic used to deny this tokubetsu eijuukensha her welfare checks.

      Now, that was bad enough. But last night, I started discussing this with my (Japanese) girlfriend. To give you some background, she’s 30 years old and lived in the UK for six years. She just kept defending the Japanese government’s decision with ridiculous lines like “Lots of Chinese, Korean, and Filipino people come here to get welfare.” I pointed out that this case was about a tokubetsu eijuukensha, not someone who just immigrated a few years ago, but she didn’t seem to see the distinction. She even went as far as to say that it’s the Japanese government’s choice if they want to cancel pensions of tokubetsu eijuukensha! At this, I got extremely angry. I pointed out to her that she was basically saying that she didn’t care whether the J-government stole my pension money. Then she whipped out the typical J-apologist lines “other countries do it too,” “when I studied in the UK, whenever I didn’t like something, they just told me if I don’t like it, I should go home,” etc. We had a very heated discussion, and when she simply wouldn’t listen to well-reasoned logic, yes, I yelled at her. It got angry and heated and personal. I actually told my girlfriend at one point “She lived here for 82 years. You’ve only lived here for 24 years. She has paid into the system for far more years than you have. She’s more Japanese than you are.” Not diplomatic, not a nice thing to say to one’s girlfriend, but true.

      So now, I’m on bad terms with my girlfriend. She’s angry at me, which has happened before and we have fixed it, but far worse than that, I’ve learned that she’s an apologist. Unlike just being angry, that cannot be fixed. I cannot date an apologist. I could date a Democrat, a Republican, an LDP supporter, or a DPJ supporter, no problem. Maybe I could even date a communist. But one type of person I simply cannot date is an apologist. Apologists are opposed to my fundamental human rights. I cannot date someone who is opposed to my fundamental human rights. I’m considering breaking up with her, except that since almost everyone is an apologist (both J-girls and western girls living in Japan), I’m not sure the next girlfriend would be any better.

      Thoughts?

      – Wow. How divisive this issue is. It kills love.

    15. Becky Says:

      “Savings would be grounds for refusal of benefits for Japanese citizens, too. The plaintiff’s savings were reportedly exceeding 10 million yen.”

      Yes, that is correct. The checks on savings are quite stringent, and case workers will call around all the banks, and carry out detailed checks of tax records, etc. They’ll even go as far as interviewing all relatives, no matter how distant. A few years ago I read of a Japanese national, an elderly man, who was rejected because he had 3 million yen in savings. I even read of a case of a Japanese woman being rejected because she had a refrigerator! Needless to say, cars and scooters are out of the question, even in rural areas where welfare recipients need them for job-hunting or commuting.

      I’ve recently read that 40% of welfare recipient households consist of elderly people. Case workers are under great pressure to reduce this number as much as possible. I honestly think that the J-govt is looking for any excuse to cut down on the number of eligible people, and this case is one indication of the coming cutbacks on elderly people in general.

      In a strange way, Japan is a victim of its own success.

      http://www.wfs.org/blogs/michael-lee/japan-heading-for-zombie-future

      “… almost everyone is an apologist (both J-girls and western girls living in Japan) …”

      I beg to differ!

    16. irezumi_aniki Says:

      @12 Kirk

      I would like to hear her thoughts on it as well.

      Some of the posts here are referencing pension payments and not welfare checks. There is a difference. It seems like you can’t pick up both at the same time (which is a side point that no one’s mentioned) and so to me, it feels like the ruling has nothing to do with foreigners and their ability to receive pension payments if they were to meet the requirements. Yeah, the way I connect the dots is a little off. I’ll give you that. But the ruling is focusing on welfare.

      Anyway . . . like most here, I’m paying into the pension program as I’m supposed to and this is an important issue to me. I’m not sure how outraged I should be until I get all the information, so I messaged the Shibuya Ward office and the Japanese Pension office. I’m not sure when and/or if they’ll get back to me, but I’ll post their reply when/if they do.

    17. david Says:

      14

      I often wonder if this is a result of re-writing history, and a total lack of interest in what it can tell us. I look at the world at the moment and identify many repeating situations.

      Japan today echo’s the Japan of the 1920’s and 1930’s. There is a direct comparison to the Peace Preservation Laws. Less direct the military build up, the conservative government and the attitude to the rest of Asia. I’m waiting to be told that the Tokko has been reformed to eliminate ‘dangerous NJ attitudes’. Maybe after the 1936 sorry 2020 games.

      As for your girlfriends attitude, this comes from personal isolationism and the principal social attitude of ‘I’m all right Jack’ and ‘grab what you can and **** the rest’ not confined to Japan but prevalent in the rest of the world as well. It affects you personally, and therefore you are invested with special interest on this one matter. You can not expect her to change overnight and history tells us that society won’t either.

      Where is the comparison between history and this, perhaps England and the Jews in the medieval period might be used as I’m feeling contentious this morning. It’s all down to the real reason for 13th October 1307.

    18. Justin Says:

      Slightly off topic but I’m curious… Was this lady and others like her denied citizenship in the past? I’ve heard many stories of Zainichi that want to keep their citizenship of foreign countries but then claim Japanese-hood.

    19. john k Says:

      Charles

      “..She just kept defending the Japanese government’s decision…”

      All J’s are programmed to defend Japan Inc without exception. Even if they don’t understand fully what they are defending….all they know, is they must defend Japan, period. Japan is the panacea and how dare anyone question it…since they have bought into the smoke and mirrors, so should you..and if not,,,why the hell not, ergo they must defend what they have bought into, otherwise their dreamy world falls apart.. They simply cannot have a rational discussion when it comes to Japan. Oh..but very happy to chime in about other countries!

      Being Japanese..is like quantum physics. One can measure speed, but not mass, or one can measure mass but not speed. The mere act of “looking” changes it. Thus for Japanese, they don’t like to look for fear of change, as that change reflects upon them, the observer..and questions will be asked of the observer…which they don’t want to answer or to defend the indefensible, as you’ve just found out. Why do you think Japanese, despite being a G8 and the 3rd largest world economy has almost zero global footprint? If it questions something, it immediately becomes a 2 way street….as such being questioned, as it wishes to do.. is not allowed in japan, ergo, they they prefer to ‘observer only’ from afar, but not actually take part.

      Blind faith and indoctrination is a wonderful thing neh?

    20. Rev. Daniel Rea Says:

      This is a very sad case. This poor woman was born here and paid her whole life into the system, so it really does not matter why she chose not to naturalize. The interest of justice is the fact she was born in Japan, lived her whole life here, and paid into the very system that told her she is less Japanese than any other Japanese. This is the height of human rights abuse and nationalistic arrogance.

      Charles – my wife and I had some of the same arguments when we got engaged. I was studying for my PhD and realized I would have a very hard time even in ministry serving on the level of a Japanese when we would move to Japan from Iowa, USA. We really had the exact same argument you and your fiance had. Know that time is a great healer. I would give my wife a week to think and cool off. She never sees things exactly as I do, but we do love and understand one another. Bear in mind she is speaking from years of Japanese mind control that begins as a child and continues through school. Yes, she studied in the UK and my wife studied in Hawaii and Iowa in the USA. When they return to Japan the “we Japanese” just reemerges more as a survival tactic, especially for the un-enpowered Japanese females. Give her time and let her know you love her.

    21. flyjin Says:

      @#2 and #7-agree, absolutely no point working in Japan unless you make a fantastic salary and plan to get the hell out in less than 3 years so you can get your pension money back. This is of course what Abe etc wants.
      Ironically though, this has given rise to the Damenz phenomenon which was being bemoaned as an aside on a recent thread. I have a few friends still in Japan for 2 decades, married to Japanese, long term unemployed, do not claim benefits but also do not/cannot pay into the J system as have no job, just sponge off their middle class J-wives and their families and live the life of Riley.

      I say ironically because the J Gov has created this damenz phenomenon. Take away incentives for NJs to come here and do an honest life’s work, and instead you will just get those who marry into money (or relative money) and ignore the system- because the system is broken.

      It is a far cry from attracting 2000 elite NJs-or more to the point, solving the labor shortage-but as the rule for getting your pension money back is 3 years, this just starts a count down for people to think about leaving (or not bothering with Japan in the first place).

      Why 3 years? Terrie says “In a recent Japan Times interview with the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Ministry officials suggested that the bulk of foreigners (90%) leave Japan within 3 years, so the refund period was limited to this. However, unless the Japanese government introduces reciprocal pension agreements with other countries, those 10% of people who stay significantly longer than 3 years and who are making contributions to the country, are being doubly punished – not being able to collect a pension either in Japan or their own country, and also not being able to retrieve any of their contributions beyond a mere 3 years.”

      Punished, indeed.

    22. Baudrillard Says:

      @ Charles, “We had a very heated discussion, and when she simply wouldn’t listen to well-reasoned logic, yes, I yelled at her” if I may briefly go off topic, I would say there is no point expecting logic from your GF. Call me what you want but in this respect many of these girls here are not so different from what certain Asian dating sites say about other Asian girls, in that they are “traditional” or were raised in an ostensibly traditional manner and are in it for the provider role you can provide, not to be a debate partner. (My Shenzhen GF, when I might e.g. even just point out an interesting tourist attraction, would just snap “Not interested. I just want to focus on making money. When will you get that job in the bank?” but I digress).

      From bitter experience I can tell you my J-ex (and this is why she is my ex) did not want to hear my work problems, or anything “negative” about Japan (or in some extreme cases, anything negative at all)- she just wanted me to be stoic, genki, happy-go-lucky, her preferred type of the Uncle Tom Gaijin, the strong silent provider who would shrug his shoulders, call for his “naien no otto/okusan” to bring the slippers, serve dinner, prepare the ofuro etc.

      OK, I am exaggerating how far the traditional roles above can go with you as an NJ and her having studied in the UK, but there is always an element of this even with educated J women; its just the way they were raised and the role models they observed.As for the guys, responses varied among the cooler ones, depending on the topic or the issue. Or the role they are playing.

      So I am not advocating you break up with her, unless you are absolutely expecting a meeting of minds, someone who you can discuss social issues with. If you like her for other reasons (as I liked my shallow Shenzhen GF), then why not keep her around? Until you get tired of her.

      “Ah, Life can be Cruel, Life in Tokyo. Why should I care?” As the song goes.

      I would also be careful about yelling at the “defenceless little woman” in Japan, this is currently being used as an excuse for Japan not to implement the Hague Convention because of “domestic violence” concerns (of course NJ man v J woman in their minds, never mind the other way around).

      And as we have discussed on other threads at Debito, even a raised voice or sarcasm can be defined as “domestic violence”. A stony silence or ignoring your partner is the way to go. You cannot be incriminated.

      As for “when I studied in the UK, whenever I didn’t like something, they just told me if I don’t like it, I should go home,” I sincerely doubt this happened with a government or official body. Just typical “Japan as victim”paranoia. Or she is mixing the pension issue with e.g. her treatment at a student part-time job in the private sector, etc.

      If you like her for things other than her ability to debate, then maybe just bite the bullet and apologize as a means to an end (getting her to do things for you). Please realize that here I am taking a leaf out of the Japanese behavior as discussed on this site, as “Uso Mo Houben” you know. And it preserves the “wa”. I also think this granny should just naturalize cynically to get the money.

      Of course, whether or not they would really allow her to naturalize is a different kettle of fish. Its not so easy.

      You can “save face” by sticking to the your guns along the “humanistic” line that the Japanese are so fond of, plus the way the J authorities would like to deal with NJs on a case by case basis and insist this granny is a “special case” you feel sorry for (subtle nuance that only We NJs may grasp here, we are ALL “special”, but no need to mention that).

      Relating your situation to the topic more directly, maybe it is time to privately consider relocating to another country (The UK?) and getting 3 years of your pensions back out of the J system, i.e. 180,000 yen x 3. According to Terrie, the UK and Germany have reciprocal agreements with Japan so you could in fact use the contributions made in Japan to go towards a UK or German pension.

      But can your GF get a UK pension, if she works there?

    23. Flyjin Says:

      ps.this is exactly why I turned down Permanent Residence status, it has no major advantages or benefits. I remember the look of shock on the face of the relatively young immigration officials when they touted it to me, how their earnest yet naive “we are so international helping the NJ” faces turned to disbelief as I replied “Kekko desu. I have no interest in Japan long-term.”

      I say naive because I think they genuinely thought that any NJ would be absolutely thrilled and let out a squeal of delight when given this news that they have been “accepted”. Instead they got my off-hand, deadpanned and decidedly non genki dismissal. I admit I got a perverse pleasure out of turning down Shibuya immigration.

      The reality of the status is that it just seems to be just saying, “oh yeah, you have lived (endured) here a long time. Here’s a badge commemorating your endurance”. Like swimming 100 meters or something.

      Well, whoopee.

    24. XY Says:

      @ Irezumi_aniki

      I think it’s also worth noting that naturalization isn’t just a rubber stamp process, regardless of how long the applicant has lived in Japan. It’s possible that the plaintiff got rejected; certainly other life-long residents of Japan have. Shin Sugok, for example, has mentioned in lectures how an immigration officer rejected her application to naturalize in the 1980s because she would not replace her given name with something Yamato-sounding. Other Zainichi have been rejected on account of having traffic violations on their records. Depending on how they or their families came to Japan, some people might just not have the documentation needed to naturalize.

      More fundamentally, if you can pass as Japanese then actual nationality is not going to make much difference in your daily life. The process of applying would be time-consuming, expensive, and unpleasant (I can easily see how former imperial citizens could feel humiliated to beg an immigration officer for the citizenship that was stripped from them in 1952.) Given that the Zainichi population is older and poorer than the general population of Japan, they would feel those burdens more acutely than other people.

    25. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito Says:

      – Japan Times has further commentary on Supr. Ct. decision on NJ welfare issues:

      The Japan Times NATIONAL / SOCIAL ISSUES
      Welfare ruling stuns foreigners
      BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, STAFF WRITER JUL 19, 2014

      Friday’s landmark decision by the Supreme Court that permanent foreign residents of Japan are not entitled to welfare benefits will discourage more municipalities than ever from doling out such aid amid ballooning public assistance expenditures, experts said Saturday.

      Responding to a lawsuit filed by an 82-year-old Chinese resident of Oita, the top court stated in the first ruling of its kind that, legally speaking, permanent foreign residents don’t qualify for public assistance because they aren’t considered Japanese nationals.

      The ruling is significant in that it finally clarifies whether permanent residents are eligible to claim welfare. For years, municipalities have been distributing welfare payments to financially needy foreigners with permanent or long-term residency status, including the spouses of Japanese and migrant workers from Brazil.

      Municipalities have been granting aid at their own discretion after being advised to do so from a “humanitarian” point of view by the central government in 1954. But that never meant foreigners actually qualified for the aid like Japanese. Although they could apply for it, they had no recourse if turned down, because the way the municipalities see it, welfare payments had never been foreigners’ legal right to claim.

      The verdict legally enshrines this de facto state of affairs, making it official that foreign residents have no legal basis to claim eligibility for public assistance.

      From now on, foreign residents will still be free to apply for welfare payments but will likely face slimmer odds of receiving them, experts said.

      “The impact of the Supreme Court decision is huge,” said Eriko Suzuki, an associate professor at Kokushikan University in Tokyo who specializes in foreign labor issues.

      “As municipalities nationwide are struggling to cut back on ever-snowballing costs related to welfare benefits for the poor, concerns are rising that they might (take advantage of the ruling) to stiffen their scrutiny of foreign eligibility, or even drive foreigners away before properly examining their claims,” she said, adding that rising anti-foreigner sentiment could escalate that prospect.

      At present, foreigners without permanent or long-term residency visas aren’t even allowed to apply for welfare payments because their immigration status only allows them to stay in Japan as long as they’re employed.

      Hiroshi Tanaka, a professor emeritus of sociology at Hitotsubashi University, agreed that the court’s decision will make it psychologically easier for municipalities to deny aid to non-Japanese.

      He also denounced the ruling as “outdated” and “sure to make Japan a target of global ridicule,” as it reinforces the notoriously indifferent attitude that Japanese judges take toward the protection of human rights.

      There was a time, he said, when Japan discriminated against foreigners in almost every aspect of the social security system, including child rearing allowances and the national pension plan. But that began to change after Japan joined a series of United Nations-designated treaties in the 1970s and 1980s, giving it the appearance of an “egalitarian society” true to the principals [sic] of those accords.

      Yet poverty relief for the poor remains one of the few areas where foreigners are still discriminated against, or at least denied the same legal rights as Japanese.

      “Foreigners pay taxes,” Tanaka said. “If you pay taxes, you should be eligible for the social security system that you’ve contributed to. That’s a common sense understanding.”

      Full article and comments from all genera of trolls on this issue at:
      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/19/national/social-issues/welfare-ruling-stuns-foreigners/

    26. Hoofin Says:

      This one obviously has nothing to do with paid-in pension benefits or totalization agreements. Remarkably, though, PR people are supposed to pay in for general income support, but not allowed to benefit. It would be one thing to have a rule for people who aren’t permanent residents. In most cases, they might qualify back in a home country. But someone with permanent residence is presumed to be living in Japan indefinitely. Heads we win, tails you lose, it sounds like.

    27. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Charles #14,

      I agree with most of the comments that have been posted above re; J-girlfriends.
      I have had similar experiences with J-girls before getting married (and even after I got married, breaking my wife of the habit to automatically defend anything about Japan- also with ‘but in America…..!’ protestations- took years).

      The fact is that the Japanese are brought up to see themselves as the victims of the west, so when you voice a negative opinion (and quite rightly so), from their point of view, you are attacking Japan in exactly the way they were always taught an NJ would!

      I used to joke with my wife that her blind faith in the ‘correctness of Japanese society’ would have her answering the door to the police, and calling me over, blank-faced with incomprehension, when the J-govt decides that NJ need to be rounded up and put in ‘special’ camps. Now that she’s had the chance to experience the discrimination that I face (and share in it too, lucky her!) she is a little more open minded.

      But the fact is that most Japanese will never experience (even outside of Japan) the kind of discrimination that we experience here, so even though they think they understand, they don’t, and there will rarely be any empathy for you. In fact, as a westerner, they probably think you deserve it, you know, what with history and all.

      But then why are you trying to have a western style open and honest, deep relationship? Most Japanese don’t, do they? They get married because society tells them too, and make kids for the same reason, and then sleep in separate beds; it’s a misunderstood copy of the image of a ‘perfect’ 1950’s US marriage- the ‘dreamy day’ at home.

    28. john k Says:

      “…Friday’s landmark decision by the Supreme Court that permanent foreign residents of Japan are not entitled to welfare benefits will discourage more municipalities than ever from doling out such aid amid ballooning public assistance expenditures, experts said Saturday…”

      Whilst all forgetting how many foreigners as a percentage does this apply too? A very very small number. So, as always obfuscating the issue by introducing a non sequitur. The financial cost of these benefits for any eligible foreigner is just a drop in the ocean compared to the financial problems these municipalities face. But hey, helps to maintain the wa and misdirect the issue. Great stuff :)

    29. snowman Says:

      Disgusting and disgraceful.

      Debito, excuse my ignorance but is there any mechanism for an appeal against a Supreme Court decision?? 

      – No. That’s why it’s the Supreme Court.

    30. Jon Says:

      @Baudrillard

      The reciprocal pension agreement between Japan and the UK is so restrictive that, to all intents and purposes, it applies to almost no-one. My Japanese wife is entitled to a UK pension. Everyone who has paid for ten years is entitled, regardless of nationality or where they reside when they claim it. It’s paid on a pro rata basis, so if you’ve paid for ten years you get one third of the full pension (thirty years payments entitles you to a full pension. After you’ve paid thirty years you don’t need to pay anymore). To give an example of true fairness I recently received a letter from the Swedish pension authorities, as I’m coming up to pension age. I lived in Sweden for one year and made pension payments for that time. I’m entitled to a pension on that basis, again pro rata. It’s a tiny amount, of course, but it’s great that they take that attitude.

      @Irezumi-aniki

      The pension issue is relevant because it’s part of the welfare system. I’m pretty this court case will be used to make inroads into scaling back the welfare system for everyone, first for foreigners and then for the Japanese themselves. So Japanese should be concerned about this too.

    31. jim Says:

      could you imagine if this happened in the states, if all Immigrant green-card holders were refused welfare benefits? there would be mass rioting in the streets.this is a clear violation of human rights and social rights.

    32. Bruno Says:

      Menawhile, a magazine for Japanese expats in Canada runs an article on how Japanese can benefit from Canadian welfare when they get old.

      http://imgur.com/exaL1pi

      As usual with Japan, you can’t make this shit up.

    33. Baudrillard Says:

      @ Jim, great postmodern imagery summing up of what I wanted to say-
      “But then why are you trying to have a western style open and honest, deep relationship? Most Japanese don’t, do they? They get married because society tells them too, and make kids for the same reason, and then sleep in separate beds; it’s a misunderstood copy of the image of a ‘perfect’ 1950′s US marriage- the ‘dreamy day’ at home.”

      A misunderstood copy is right. And too many people have been sadly fooled into thinking Japan, as a “western” country, would mean that their J partners are going to be a lot more westernized than their Asian counterparts, and respond to western style logic.

    34. DeBourca Says:

      @ 21

      “Ironically though, this has given rise to the Damenz phenomenon which was being bemoaned as an aside on a recent thread. I have a few friends still in Japan for 2 decades, married to Japanese, long term unemployed, do not claim benefits but also do not/cannot pay into the J system as have no job, just sponge off their middle class J-wives and their families and live the life of Riley.

      I say ironically because the J Gov has created this damenz phenomenon. Take away incentives for NJs to come here and do an honest life’s work, and instead you will just get those who marry into money (or relative money) and ignore the system- because the system is broken.”

      Great point and something I hadn’t thought too much about before, but now that I do, the majority of long termers up to their forties I know of in Japan fall into this category at some level. They are either parasites living off rich spouses, or single having affairs with wives of wealthy Japanese, or are treading water, waiting for inheritances plus other payoffs from their home country. The other large number comprise of borderline alchoholics whose behaviour is tolereated/enabled by their j families/employers. I have a feeling that older long termers in their late fiftes/sixties may have a different profile. While I feel that none of these lifestyles is long term satisfying or meaningful, and keeps people in a sort of perpetual adolescence, I can’t really blame people who choose to live these lives in Japan. J society doesn’t really give them a whole lot of other options.

      @ 30

      Great points and gets to the heart of the issue IMO

    35. Kirk Masden Says:

      Snowman and Debito:

      Debito is right that there is no appeal to a supreme court decision. On the other hand, courts interpret laws so it’s possible for the legislature to pass laws that fix things. The bad news is that such legislation is no where in sight. If anything, the Supreme Court has been following the anti-foreign rhetoric of politicians. Take, for example, Katayama Satsuki:

      http://youtu.be/lB94UOBdsSw?t=7m36s

      The part about foreigners and welfare starts a 7:40.

      – Yep, they made it into an issue of North Korea, again. The DPJ’s answer is the right one.

    36. Bob Says:

      Don’t like the ruling, but much of the media coverage and commentary here is wrong about how significant the ruling is. The ruling is limited to the application of the law itself, and not to receipt of welfare benefits. Foreign residents are entitled to welfare benefits by operation of a MHLW notification that tells localities to give foreign permanent residents welfare benefits as if they were Japanese, or based on what Japanese would get.

      The practical implication of the ruling is that foreigners do not have the right to appeal social welfare decisions by municipalities because it is not a legal right, just a regulatory notification.

      Unfortunately this does mean that, as noted in some of the coverage above, some municipalities will incorrectly or preemptively deny claims without examining them, particularly given the public confusion about what the ruling means. In that sense, it’s important to clarify:

      This ruling is not about whether you can get welfare. It’s about whether your entitlement to welfare flows from the welfare law, or from the MHLW notification. Permanent residents absolutely can still get welfare, they just can’t appeal denials (which is a big deal and bad, but importantly different from how it is being characterized).

      Hopefully they will change the law, given that the reason they didn’t change the law at the time of the UN treaties was because the MHLW notification was supposed to give foreigners the same de facto right to welfare that the law gives to Japanese. It’s now clear that this is not quite the case, as foreigners do not get to appeal decisions now, and so Japan should amend the law to clarify and comply with its treaty obligations (in addition to because it is just the right thing to do).

      Here’s an informative blog entry (Japanese) that gets this right: http://ameblo.jp/tokutake-satoko/entry-11896859417.html

      在日外国人の生活保護についての最高裁判決~「法の対象外」と「生活保護の否定」の大きな違い。
      2014-07-20 04:31:29
      テーマ:ひとりごと
       在日外国人は生活保護法に基づく権利があるかどうかについて、18日、最高裁の判決がありました。判決の内容については、既に報道されています。

      【毎日新聞】永住外国人は生活保護法の対象外 最高裁、二審を破棄

      判決全文はこちらに掲載されています。
      荻上チキ・Session-22資料「永住外国人生活保護訴訟 最高裁判決」判決文(全文掲載)

       しかし、マスコミも混乱しているのか、わかっていないのか、五大紙であっても以下のような報道も見られます。

      【日本経済新聞】永住外国人の生活保護認めず 最高裁が初判断
      【読売新聞】生活保護外国人は対象外 中国籍女性が逆転敗訴

       これらの報道 ↑↑ は、タイトルだけを見れば、最高裁が永住外国人に対する生活保護を一切排除する判断を下したかのようです。実際に、一部の人たちの間では、そのように受け止められています。

       しかし、今回の最高裁判決は、「生活保護法の対象外」という判断を下しましたが、「生活保護の対象外」とはしていません。
       在日外国人への生活保護が違法・違憲であるとか、今後在日外国人には生活保護を認めないなどというように、在日外国人への生活保護そのものを否定されたということでは、ないのです。

       最高裁判決に対し評価を下せるほどの識見は私にはないので控えますが、そのあたりを少しだけ解説したいと思います。

       今の生活保護法には国籍条項があり、生活保護法の対象は日本国民となっています。
       第2条 すべて国民は、この法律の定める要件を満たす限り、この法律による保護(以下「保護」という。)を、無差別平等に受けることができる。

       しかし、日本国内に在住する一定範囲の外国人については、昭和29年に厚生省が通知を出し、「当分の間、生活に困窮する外国人に対しては一般国民に対する生活保護の決定実施の取扱いに準じて…必要と認める保護を行う」として、生活保護法による保護ではなく、これに「準じる」取扱いとするとしています。
       これにより在日外国人に対しても、行政上の措置として、日本人と同様の生活保護を行うことになりました。平成2年の厚生省の口答指示により、現在では、永住者とその配偶者等、日本人の配偶者等、定住者、特別永住者、難民認定を受けた者に限定されています。

       実際に、国籍が日本でないことで、ことさらに日本人と差異をもうけられたり、支給されるべきものが支給されなかったりと言うことはありません。私も何回か申請同行していますが、申請書の様式や調査や申請者に対する扱い、保護費の金額が国籍が日本かどうかによって異なるといったようなことはありません。

       しかし、生活保護法に基づく適用ではなく、通知という行政措置によるため、「権利ではないので不服申立はできない」とされています。どうして、権利ではないからという理由で不服申立が許されないのか、そこは学者でもない私には理解できないのですが…。ともあれ、そういうことになっており、ここに日本人かそうでないかで、大きな違いが生じています。

       在日外国人に対する生活保護は、厚生省の一片の通知の上に成り立っているにすぎませんから、行政(厚労省)の意向に左右されやすく、さらに不服申立ができないとあっては不安定なことこの上ありません。早急に、生活保護法の国籍条項を撤廃して、日本国籍を持たなくても、法の適用対象とすべきと考えます。

       生活保護法以外の社会保障制度では、既に国籍条項は撤廃されています。これは、日本が昭和54年に国際人権規約批准、昭和57年に難民条約に批准したことによります。国民健康保険や国民年金は、「国民」の文字が含まれますが、その対象は日本国民だけではありません。
       本当なら、このときに生活保護法も改正して国籍条項を撤廃すべきでした。難民条約等から求められている国籍条項の撤廃は、公的扶助であるかどうかを問いません。生活保護だけ国政条項を残してもかまわないということには、なっていないのです。

       それなのに、どうして、当時生活保護法の国籍条項は撤廃されなかったのか。

       当時の国会審議では、既に昭和29年の通知により在日外国人には生活保護において日本人と同様の待遇がされているので、国籍条項を撤廃しなくても問題ない、と繰り返し厚生省による答弁がされています。事実上、国籍条項がないも同然なのでわざわざ法改正までしなくても、ということだったのでしょう。
       重要なのは、国として、在日外国人を排除し「生活保護は日本人に限るべき」という積極的な意図の下に、国籍条項を残したということではない、ということです。

       厚生省通知による在日外国人の生活保護利用については、今回の最高裁判決でも肯定されています。

      (判決引用)
      以上によれば、外国人は、行政庁の通達等に基づく行政措置により事実上の保護の対象となり得るにとどまり、生活保護法に基づく保護の対象となるものではなく、同法に基づく受給権を有しないものというべきである。

       端的に言えば、最高裁判決は「今までと変わりなし」を宣言したということです。
       
       繰り返しですが、「生活保護法による受給権を有しない」ということが、生活保護の利用から在日外国人を排除することにはなりません。法の対象外=違法だ!とんでもない!という解釈になりがちですが、そこまで一直線につながるものでもありません。

       冷静な対応が求められます。

    37. jim Says:

      could someone place to tell me if any other developed country or G8 countries are also refusing to allow legal immigrant residents basic social services like welfare benefits or is japan the only one?

      And maybe this is the real reason why Japan doesn’t want to have any immigration policy at all because it doesn’t want NJ to have any basic social services.It looks like the GOJ wants short term labor with no strings attached.

      – Yep.

    38. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Meanwhile….

      The government plan to attract ‘2000 elite’ NJ per year has so far attracted……

      59.
      Total.
      After 2 years.

      Interestingly, this ‘initiative’ has designed in limits on social welfare for those that take up the offer.
      The results speak for themselves; only 59 people could find a different answer to the question ‘Why bother?’

      =============================
      Japan Times: NATIONAL
      Few biting so far on special visa for workers
      BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI STAFF WRITER JUL 20, 2014

      Desperate to reinvigorate the long-stalled economy, the government has spent the past two years cozying up to highly skilled foreign workers through a batch of visa perks. There’s just one problem: few have been wooed.

      Hoping to change that, the government passed a bill through the Diet in June to revise the Immigration Law, giving skilled foreigners a new visa status that allows them to stay indefinitely and with a broadened roster of privileges.

      “Launching a new visa specifically designed for them means a lot, because that shows the world Japan is becoming more serious than ever about accepting those skilled foreigners,” said Immigration Bureau official Nobuko Fukuhara.

      Questions remain, however, over whether creating the new visa alone will encourage more foreigners to move to Japan. Experts say little will change unless Japan brings its corporate culture more in line with global standards and reinvents itself as a place more foreigners would want to live in.

      Under the current system, foreigners who earn more than 70 points in a government-designated evaluation system, based on criteria such as annual income, academic background and language skills, can stay in Japan under a “designated activities” visa status for five years.

      During that time, they are granted a series of perks, including a fast track to permanent residency, working visa status for their spouses and the right to bring along their parents and housekeepers.

      At the end of five years, they can switch to permanent residency, but would lose all the visa privileges they have enjoyed up to that point.

      Since its launch in May 2012, the government-sponsored initiative to attract so-called highly skilled foreigners has trodden a rocky road. It kicked off with a grand goal of 2,000 registrants per year, but as of April 30, almost two years after its start, only 1,276 people were deemed eligible.

      Of them, only 59 ended up using the program to enter the country as of the end of March, according to the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau, which oversees the program.

      Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/20/national/few-nibbles-so-far-on-sweet-visa-deal/

    39. Flyjin Says:

      “At the end of five years, they can switch to permanent residency, but would lose all the visa privileges they have enjoyed up to that point.” Yet more proof that permanent residency is pointless and meritless, and they really do not want Johnny Foreigner to say more than 3 years~ the only current financial incentive seems to be you can claim your first 3 years of pension payments back when (not if) you leave.

    40. Charles Says:

      @Debito

      I read the article you just posted (“Few biting so far on special visa for workers”) in its original form on the first day it was posted on the Japan Times. The original title of the article (still visible in the URL) was “Few Nibbles So Far on Sweet Visa Deal.” The Japan Times actually changed the title of the article after publishing it! I think that after it was published, they realized that it was not a “sweet deal.” Hahahaha…

      @Flyjin

      I really think you were cutting off the nose to spite the face when you turned down the permanent residency you were offered. You wanted to show those immigration officers that Japan, in the long term, was not worth your time, okay, I sympathize with that, but I think there are other ways you could have done that without turning down PR.

      What did you have to lose by applying for PR? So far as I can tell, nothing except maybe a small application fee and a little bit of your time.

      What did you lose by not applying? Well, if you are on a spousal visa:
      – The ability to continue living in Japan even if you spouse divorces you or dies
      – The ability to live in Japan indefinitely without going through any more visa renewals, which cost time and money, and a there is a chance of being rejected
      – More respect from your foreign peers, and possibly more respect from your Japanese peers (although I acknowledge, most of them aren’t going to know the difference–but a few will)
      If you are on a work visa, here is a list of the things you turned down:
      – All of the above, plus:
      – The ability to work in any sector, not just the one your visa specifies
      – The ability to hang around in Japan and do whatever you want, or nothing at all, without worrying about your visa getting revoked (retire, take a very long vacation, or take a job or go back to school at an organization that is not recognized as “valid” by the J-government, such as a U.S. military base job or a university that is not accredited in Japan)

      Seriously, I think that in turning down that PR, you were really cutting off the nose to spite the face. You shocked the immigration officers for at most a few minutes, probably not even that. They probably don’t care one iota that you didn’t apply, now. On the other hand, you’ve denied yourself the ability to do some very important things. You might think “well it doesn’t matter, I’m leaving soon, anyway.” But no one can know the future with perfect certainty. When I moved from Hong Kong to America in 2001, I was quite certain that I wouldn’t want to come back. However, a few years in the U.S. changed my mind, and five years later, back to Asia I came. Anyways, if I were you, I’d make a beeline back to an immigration office and apply for it. There are plenty of ways to show Japan how crappily they treat foreigners without turning down a very important Status of Residency.

    41. Edward J. Cunningham Says:

      @Jim “could you imagine if this happened in the states, if all Immigrant green-card holders were refused welfare benefits? there would be mass rioting in the streets.this is a clear violation of human rights and social rights.”

      Keep in mind that unlike Japan, anybody born in the United States is automatically a citizen of the United States according to the 14th Ammendment, so anybody who was born in the U.S. and has lived and paid taxes for 82 years would not be able to be denied Social Security benefits because his parents were migrants.

    42. flyjin Says:

      Charles, “Japan, in the long term, was not worth your time, okay, I sympathize with that, but I think there are other ways you could have done that without turning down PR.”

      What other ways? I wasn’t trying to “show” them anything. They asked me if I wanted PR. I didn’t and still do not. I even turned down marriage to a J national because I was sick of being a second class (or worse) citizen and certainly did not intend to marry into this society.

      The job opportunities were, and still are, better elsewhere. Japan has been for many years just a waiting place until something better comes along. It has been like this for at least the last decade. A last resort.

      And you forget to mention that PR is lost if you spend more than 3 years out of Japan, which I, as The Flyjin, have of course done.

      PR is just a recognition of the fact that you have been in Japan a long time. OK, maybe in theory there is more job mobility and less papaerwork to apply for a visa longh term (though you could get a visa then quit and go and work elsewhere anyway) but it is your employer’s responsibility to get you that visa if they want you to work for them, its not a “benefit” per se unless one is desperate for some reason to live in Japan.

      But for me and others Japan is just another Asian country. I do not buy into the narrative that is is special (unless “unusually difficult/men dokusai” means “special”)

      Finally, we have been through this before but I did not want to divulge overseas income to the J government just to get PR as it is none of their damn business.

      You seem sold on the wonderful advantages of PR but I gave you my reasons why I was not. I was not cutting off my nose in spite of anything.

      Does this answer your question?

    43. flyjin Says:

      Finally Charles I must add that I laughed out loud when you said I had lost, by turning down PR, the chance to “do some very important things”.

      IN JAPAN? Do not make me laugh. I have been hitting my head against a brick wall for 2 decades in Japan wasting my time trying to build a niche, it is very difficult to penetrate markets or do business here, so conversely the LACK of ability to do important things in Japan is why I have no interest in PR.

      I sincerely doubt it will open any doors.

    44. Dean Says:

      @Charles,

      I disagree that PR is “all that” I guess I could of got it years ago, I just dont want it. I dont really like the place enough to get it and I can think of better places to live. If I had a cushy job, say in Kyushu or out in the very nice countryside, might of considered it. The day to day grind and othering that NJ get in the metro isnt worth it. New York is better or some other big city abroad. The biggest problem with Japan is you spend too much time just getting through the day being a gaijin. In other places, you dont need bother with it and can spend your time being productive. I dont like living in a place where Im a 3rd class citizen, when somewhere else I am not. I dont own a car, a home, really I dont own much of anything; somebody else does. I dont need to go get PR to change all that; it will change little if anything. I will still be a gaijin, and not feel I belong here.

    45. flyjin Says:

      Granny may have not naturalized in order to qualify for these benefits for the one of the same reasons I did not want PR; the idea of swearing fealty to the Japanese Empire, just to get some of your tax back, is disgusting and ridiculous.

      I just couldnt abide that. Now if I was offered it in the 80s, when I was bright eyed and enthusiastic about Japan, thinking they were in fact a superior country, then I would gladly have jumped at the chance. But after a couple of years of being excluded, othered, bullied, and rejected along the lines of “sorry, we dont like/do not do business with/have no interest in gaijin” I woke up to the futility of ever “belonging”. I was just the wrong race.

      So, as the South China Morning Post put it,”foreigners, despite paying getting taxes, cannot get welfare benefits”. So We NJ are jsut paying taxes to support Japan’s ailing system (so I would have thought a bit more respect for us is due!).

      In fact next time (if there ever is one) when a Japanese person complains about “too many foreigners” just remind them We Foreigners pay for your health care!

      Anyway, I feel no loyalty to a country that gives me nothing in return. Why the hell should I? This is taxation without representation or anything back. Why should I have a connection with said country, or swear loyalty to such a country, just for ECONOMIC GAIN? Granny has the higher moral ground.

      @ Charles. As for loyalty, as above, and what’s my moniker?

    46. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Flyjin & Charles,

      Please don’t start throwing around terms like ‘loyalty’, it’s so… feudal.
      It reminds me of the attitude of the J-media after Fukushima- ‘The disloyal gaijin have gone home after everything Japan has done for them!’, when we all know that if we work, we pay taxes, and that’s our ‘loyal duty’ as non-criminals done and dusted. We ‘owe’ Japan nothing.

      Perhaps the granny in question chose not to naturalize for the same reasons I never would;
      Having to change her name to make it ‘Japanese’.
      Having to deny her ethnic and cultural heritage.
      Doesn’t want to reinforce the myth that most Japanese believe about how everyone wants to ‘be Japanese’.
      Doesn’t want to put herself at the mercy of a discriminatory social system any more than she has too (after all, why would any right minded foreigner- with apologies to Dr. Debito, who is fighting for a cause- give up their passport for the dubious pleasure of becoming ‘plastic’ Japanese?).

      – For the record, I didn’t naturalize and give up my US citizenship for a cause. My reasons why were all personal and are here.

    47. Edward J. Cunningham Says:

      What is the “Debenz phenomenon”? I assume it has to do with foreigners only staying in Japan a short time before leaving.

      – No. Definition of “damenzu” here.

    48. Enginerd Says:

      Another article on the issue, nothing new but a few nice quotes
      http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1557063/anger-erupts-over-court-denial-welfare-foreign-permanent-residents-japan

      “The state cannot provide benefits to all the poor people who come to Japan,” said Yoichi Shimada, a professor of international relations at Fukui Prefectural University.

      “The problem in this particular case is that the woman chose not to take Japanese nationality and chose to remain Chinese,” he said. “If Japan allowed all foreign residents unlimited access to welfare, then the country would go bust.”

      ha, there’s a lot wrong with this, but let’s just go to the end and say that Japan will not “go bust” because of the imaginary NJ hordes just clamoring to get a free ride on that juicy welfare gravy train, no the Japanese society seems to be doing fine destroying itself just on its own. When one looks at the problems and unsustainable practices the country has accumulated over decades, “hm yes, way too many foreigners” doesn’t really make the top of the list.

      now, as for the specific case, I can actually understand the reasoning of denying welfare to people who have “substantial savings”. If you apply for assistance from the state on the grounds that you’re poor and can’t support yourself any other way, it makes sense that the government says “uh sure, but how about you spend that million dollars/yen/euroetc you’ve tucked away, first”. Every country does that in some way or another (with a limit on how much you can retain), and it makes sense as you have to utilize your personal assets before you can rely on anothers. Now, I do not know what is the amount of this womans savings, and maybe it wouldn’t matter much when this is just another case of Japan’s arbitrarily dickish interpretation of the law.

      Also, can someone more knowledgeable say something about “welfare” vs “pension” in this application ? Is there a substantial difference in argument here, seeing as (in my naive outsider perspective), that old lady must’ve also paid into the pension system her whole work life and thus be eligible. Why doesn’t she just collect her pension, which can’t be denied so easily (as you just need to pass the age limits and contribution amounts). Maybe I misunderstood or misread something, I don’t know too much about how the social schemes in Japan work.

    49. Andrew in Saitama Says:

      Enginerd, great find with those telling quotes.

      “The state cannot provide benefits to all the poor people who come to Japan,”
      But she didn’t *come to* Japan. She was born here during Japan’s imperialist expansion, and so would have been born a Japanese subject.

      “The problem in this particular case is that the woman chose not to take Japanese nationality and chose to remain Chinese,”
      Again, do we *know* that she *chose* not to take nationality? She might have applied and been rejected for all we know.
      This kind of statement also trumps any claims that the woman was not eligible because of her savings.

    50. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito Says:

      UPDATE JULY 25, 2014: THIS VERY BLOG ENTRY GETS CITED IN THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST.

      Anger erupts over court denial of welfare to foreign permanent residents of Japan
      Japanese Supreme Court rules that a Chinese permanent resident is not entitled to payouts even though she has paid taxes all her life
      SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST : Monday, 21 July, 2014,
      Julian Ryall in Tokyo
      http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1557063/anger-erupts-over-court-denial-welfare-foreign-permanent-residents-japan

      Activists, analysts and foreign residents of Japan have reacted with dismay to a decision by the Supreme Court that foreigners with permanent residency are not entitled to welfare benefits.

      Friday’s ruling by the highest court means that even foreign nationals born in Japan, who have spent all their lives in the country and paid their taxes, national insurance premiums and state pension requirements are still not guaranteed to receive financial support when they need it.

      The Supreme Court’s decision overturned an earlier ruling by the Fukuoka high court that granted welfare to an 82-year-old Chinese woman who was born and raised in Japan.

      The woman had applied for assistance to the municipal office in Oita prefecture in December 2008, but her request was refused because she had savings. The woman launched a legal case demanding that the decision be reversed on the grounds that she had paid taxes to the national and prefectural governments throughout her life.

      In the first ruling of its kind, the Supreme Court stated that, from a legal standpoint, permanent foreign residents do not qualify for public assistance because they are not Japanese.

      The ruling apparently gives local authorities across Japan the legal right to halt financial assistance to non-Japanese residents. The fact that many municipalities across the country are facing economic hardship may increase the risk of city governments seeking to exercise that right.

      “It’s shameful,” said Eric Fior, a French national who owns a language school in Yokohama and who has lived in Japan for more than a decade.

      “It’s bad enough that foreign residents do not have the right to vote at any level in Japan, but when you pay your taxes and contribute to the pension scheme, it’s something of an insult to be told that you have no right to get some of that money back when you need it,” he said.

      “I imagine that many foreign residents will be asking themselves why they have to pay their taxes.”

      The Oita case has been followed closely by Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese who was born in the United States and has become a leading rights activist after being refused access to a public bath in Hokkaido because he is “foreign”.

      “The implications of this are pretty obvious,” Arudou wrote in his most recent blog posting. “Non-Japanese can be taxed and exploited at will, but if there’s ever a question of the local government thinking that nonJapanese deserve social welfare benefits, too bad because they’re not guaranteed,” he wrote.

      “We’ll just take your money and deprive you of any guarantee that you’ll ever get any equal benefit from it.”

      The post has generated heated comment. One person wrote: “The sheer pettiness and nastiness of the court’s decision just disgusts me.”

      Other posters said the decision would have an impact on the government’s campaign to attract skilled foreign nationals to work in Japan in an effort to combat the dramatically shrinking population.

      Conservatives have applauded the court’s decision.

      “The state cannot provide benefits to all the poor people who come to Japan,” said Yoichi Shimada, a professor of international relations at Fukui Prefectural University.

      “The problem in this particular case is that the woman chose not to take Japanese nationality and chose to remain Chinese,” he said. “If Japan allowed all foreign residents unlimited access to welfare, then the country would go bust.”

      This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Foreigners riled over welfare ruling
      ENDS

    51. john k Says:

      #48 E

      I can only speak for the UK system. If one pays their national insurance, via taxes, for their entire working life, they are entitled to a state pension. They have ‘earned’ it. However, if the pension, for whatever reason, does not cover the persons living expenses, and they require “more” to live, they can then go to the social welfare office and apply for aid. If said person has a shed load of money in the bank..they would generally be refused, for the reasons already cited above. But, if said person was poor, they would get the financial aid.

      Thus is the lady being refused her pension….as that surely cannot be in question, …or is she being refused general assistance?

      If she is indeed being refused her pension, not financial aid…wow, that is a game changer!

    52. john k Says:

      D.A.D. ;)

      Lets hope the SCMP article goes viral and brings endless scrutiny from “outsiders”, much to the chagrin of the local J politicians.

    53. Baudrillard Says:

      “The problem in this particular case is that the woman chose not to take Japanese nationality and chose to remain Chinese,” he said. “If Japan allowed all foreign residents unlimited access to welfare, then the country would go bust.”

    54. Anonymous Says:

      @#51 To clarify: the Permanent Resident wasn’t denied Pension, she was denied Welfare (free money for proving one is poor.)

      The initial denial was for the right reason: “This applicant is being denied because she isn’t poor, she has big savings.”

      When she appealed for a review of the initial denial, that is when some official claimed, “Denied because not a citizen.” That is the illegal action #1 of those bureaucrats: refusing the review request (which legally all applicants are allowed to receive) with the illegal reasoning of “Only Japanese citizens have a right to Japanese Welfare.”

      Then the illegal action of those bureaucrats was overturned by a good judge, yay, so the review request should have been put through (and then the bureaucrats should have simply restated “We did the official review, and yes, as stated in the initial denial: this applicant is being denied because she isn’t poor, she has big savings.”)

      Finally, the wonderful action of that good judge was cancelled by a bad Supreme Court judge, boo, who repeated the illegal reasoning given by the bureaucrats “Only Japanese citizens have a right to Japanese Welfare.”

      I hope this summary is correct, please correct me anyone if you notice some sentences which need correcting.

      So, currently we have a bad supreme court ruling that basically says, “Bureaucrats don’t have to follow the laws written by Legislators.”

      Let’s remember folks, the laws written by Japanese legislators (like my cousin-in-law), do NOT allow discrimination based on nationality.

      It is the Japanese Bureaucrats and Japanese Police and Japanese Citizens who keep doing all these illegal actions.

    55. Jim di Griz Says:

      @ Anon #54,

      Yes, you are correct in pointing out that she was refused welfare because they felt she had enough savings, and that this is not related to pensions, BUT…

      Look at how the public debate has been framed by Japanese officials!
      It’s all about preventing Japan from being over-run with imaginary foreigners looking to get some handouts without contributing to the system, which does not accurately describe the details of this case.

      It’s been reduced to the scare tactics of ‘barbarians at the gates’.

      And it’s a debate that’s been framed in a way that seeks to increase public opposition to NJ getting what they’ve been forced to pay for. So yeah, the next attack will be on NJ receiving pensions.

    56. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito Says:

      JT takes a closer look at the Supreme Court decision on NJ welfare benefits (excerpt):

      A closer look at the Supreme Court’s welfare benefits ruling
      Officially, things will stay as they are, but some are not so sure
      BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, Japan Times, July 25, 2014

      So how will the ruling affect foreign communities here?

      When contacted by The Japan Times, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said no major policy review is in the works on how to handle claims by foreigners seeking welfare benefits.

      “We understand the ruling merely endorsed our policy of all these years,” said ministry official Hiroki Morishita. “Foreign residents have never been eligible for the benefits. This will continue to be the case and nothing will change.”

      Likewise, local governments in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, Kawasaki and Minokamo in Gifu — all of which have large foreign communities than elsewhere in Japan — said they are not considering subjecting foreign applicants to stricter scrutiny.

      But Hisao Seto, lead defense lawyer for the 82-year-old Chinese woman, is not convinced. He says the government might feel tempted to target foreigners if they pressed with the need to trim budgets amid ever-swelling welfare expenditures.

      Seto said he considers the Supreme Court ruling a virtual “warning” to foreigners in Japan.

      “What it’s trying to say,” he said, “is that as a foreigner you shouldn’t consider working or living in Japan because if you were ever to get injured or sick, chances are you will be denied the welfare payments you need, depending on the mood of local officials you deal with,” he said.

      What part of the foreign community will be hit hardest?

      Topping the list is probably the Koreans who were forcibly brought to Japan before and during World War II after the 1910 annexation of the Korean Peninsula. Some still live without pensions, because by the time Japan removed the nationality clause from its pension system in 1982, they had turned 35 or older, making it impossible to complete the 25 years of pension premiums payments required to before the age of 60, when individuals were then eligible to tap their pension payments.

      “For those people welfare benefits have been the last social safety net they could count on, without having to depend financially on their kids to survive,” said Hiroshi Tanaka, professor emeritus of sociology at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo.

      Eriko Suzuki, an associate professor of Kokushikan University in Tokyo who specializes in foreign labor issues, points out that migrant “nikkei” workers from Brazil and so-called Indochina refugees from countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia also need the benefits. Consigned to taking low-paid, dangerous or menial jobs, many of them are often injured and find themselves at great risk of becoming unemployed, she said.

      “Accepting foreigners as a labor force and then abandoning them once they’ve become useless will clearly look very bad for Japan in the international community,” Suzuki said.

      Whole article at
      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/25/national/crime-legal/a-closer-look-at-the-supreme-courts-welfare-benefits-ruling/

    57. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito Says:

      JT Editorial on the Supreme Court decision on NJ welfare benefits (excerpt):

      EDITORIALS
      Safety net is for all taxpayers
      The Japan Times July 26, 2014

      The Supreme Court ruled July 18 that foreigners living in Japan, even with permanent residency status, are not entitled to receive welfare benefits known as seikatsu hogo, literally livelihood protection. It is the first ruling that considers foreigners ineligible for such benefits. The ruling sends an unfortunate message to foreign workers that while their contributions to Japan’s economy might be welcome, the government, in turn, is not obliged to take care of them when they are in need. [...]

      The ruling also means that even foreign nationals who have paid public health insurance premiums and met public pension requirements will not be guaranteed financial support should they need it. The increasing number of foreign nationals who are born in Japan, work and live their lives here have no guarantee, either.

      Oddly, the ruling suggests that the government will give such benefits to anyone with Japanese nationality, even if they spent all of their life abroad, or have not contributed to taxes, public health insurance or the state pension program. Under this ruling, a Japanese national who has never worked in their life would receive benefits, while a foreign national who worked all their life in Japan but never took Japanese nationality can be denied.

      The ruling will also have an impact on the large number of Koreans and Chinese whose families have lived in Japan for several generations but have not taken Japanese nationality. The non-Japanese spouses of Japanese and migrant workers from Brazil and other countries may also now be excluded.

      The court’s ruling sends the message that Japanese benefits are for Japanese nationals. That codifies the outdated notion of who is supposed to benefit from Japan’s social benefits — not all those who work here, but only Japanese.

      The Diet needs to act to establish a law guaranteeing benefits on a fair and equitable basis to foreigners who have contributed to public pension and health insurance plans, paid taxes and established a household or significant ties to Japan. The right to benefits that help keep people safe, healthy and out of poverty should be a guaranteed human right, not a decision made at the discretion of local officials.

      Whole article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/07/26/editorials/safety-net-taxpayers/

    58. irezumi_aniki Says:

      For those who are/were wondering about pension and/or pension payments since the welfare ruling against foreigners:

      irezumi_aniki 様
      日頃より区政に対しご理解ご協力をいただき誠にありがとうございます。
      irezumi_aniki様よりお問合せのありました「最高裁判所が生活保護法の保護の対象とする『国民』に外国人は含まれないとする初めての判断を示したことで、国民年金に影響が生じるか」とのお尋ねについてお答えいたします。
      国民年金法では、日本国内に住所を有する二十歳以上六十歳未満の者で第2号被保険者(会社員・公務員等)及び第3号被保険者(第2号被保険者の配偶者)に該当しない者は第1号被保険者(国民年金の被保険者)とするため、外国人の方も要件を満たせば年金を受給することができます。生活保護法と国民年金法では制度が異なるので、この判決が国民年金の受給に影響を及ぼすことはありません。
       但し、外国人は生活保護法の対象外となるため、生活保護等を対象とした保険料の法定免除の適用はされません。保険料をお納めすることが難しい外国人の方には一般の申請免除をご案内しております。申請免除のお手続きをご希望の場合は事前にお電話で必用書類等をご確認いただき区役所3階国民年金係までお越しください。

       皆様からのお問合せに対しましては真摯に対応するよう心がけております。今後とも何かご不明な点がありましたらお気軽にお問合せください。

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    59. Anonymous Says:

      @JG #55, Yes, I agree with your statement 100%: pension for non-citizens will probably be cut next, since this current Japanese society (in general, on average) is APPROVING (through the Supreme Court and the average citizen reaction) this absolutely illegal situation: non-citizens obliged to pay the same amount as citizens, but the state refusing to give non-citizens the same benefits as citizens.

      You are 100% correct that probably soon it WILL be pension that gets cut. Non-citizens who have paid 25 years into Japan will probably be told, “Sorry, even though ALL residents in Japan are required by law to pay into Pension, the state will no longer give non-citizens their fully-paid-for pension ‘benefits’ upon retirement.”

      The foreign pressure must begin now, on this illegally-acting, law-breaking, racial-discrimination-perpetrating group of humans (who call themselves “descendants of Yamato” and who see all “non-descendants of Yamato” as being not worthy of equal human rights) who are currently the majority in this country called Japan.

      South Africa didn’t stop their state-approved-Apartheid-system until the worldwide community of humans stopped buying South African products.

      Israel (my people) won’t stop their state-approved-Apartheid-system until the worldwide community of humans stops buying Israeli products.

      And Japan won’t stop their state-approved-Apartheid-system until the worldwide community of humans stops buying Japanese products.

      Humans hear our plea! The minorities in Japan are being hurt by the majority in Japan.

      Help us motivate the majority in Japan to ensure human rights for ALL humans living in Japan.

      Say, “We, the worldwide community of humans, will not buy Japanese products, until ALL humans living in Japan receive equal rights.”

      Please help us.

    60. john k Says:

      “… The ruling sends an unfortunate message to foreign workers that while their contributions to Japan’s economy might be welcome, the government, in turn, is not obliged to take care of them when they are in need….”

      I read a book on the workings of Japan several years ago, unfortunately I cannot remember its name. However it stated that the Govt of Japan looks after the companies, and the companies look after the workers – this is the order of things. Ergo, the Govt of Japan does not directly look after the workers. Which is why much all the laws/civil codes are written around “businesses” and not private individuals. Buying a house, for example, is not covered as it is a private transaction! (I learned to my cost!)

      The above citation appears to confirm this.

    61. TJJ Says:

      Quoted from the JT article:

      “Unlike many other programs, the original 1950 law for welfare benefits has received no tweaks and continues to discriminate against foreigners by stating that legitimate recipients must be Japanese citizens.

      Upon signing up for the 1982 refugee treaty, the government at the time insisted there was no need to rid the law of the nationality clause, arguing municipalities were already treating foreign applicants in the same way as Japanese in accordance with its 1954 notice.”

      Haven’t we heard this argument from the J government before? “We don’t need to enact any laws against racism because there is no racism.” To which the counter should be – if there is no racism, then why are you so reluctant to enact anti racism laws?

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