Hi Blog. As I ease on back into blogging again, let me spend my last evening on the tour with a bit of advice from somebody in the know about how to open accounts in Japan: If in doubt, use Postal Savings. Blogged with permission. More on Debito.org here about the errant overzealousness of J banks to connect NJ with money laundering. Arudou Debito in Fukuoka
I ran into a rather strange situation on March 10, 2008. I work for a international youth exchange (homestays, language study programs, etc), and one of the programs I head is a year-long internship for high school graduates from the US, Canada, and Australia. We just had a couple of interns from Australia arrive last month, and once they recieved their 外国人カード one of my Japanese coworkers (I was out of the country at the time on business) took them to our local 三井住友 branch to open accounts.
We have been using this bank for 2-3 years now and never had a problem with them, but this time we were informed that they would be unable to open bank accounts until they had been here for 6 months, citing new regulations regarding money laundering. My coworker was quite angry and tried to reason things out, pointing out that we had opened similar accounts just 6 months ago for our Canadian and American interns, but was stonewalled. Later that day the president of our foundation called the bank and was told the same story. At that point my coworkers went to the post office and opened accounts there with absolutely no problems.
As I said, I was out of the office until today, when I was told about what had happened. I have heard of other non-Japanese running into the same problem (though I don’t remember which banks were involved), so I wasn’t completely surprised and knew that the bank’s claims were bogus. I called the Australian Embassy and let them know what was going on, and they said they would look into it. I will not be using 三井住友 in the future for my programs, and I am planning on closing my own account there and speaking to the manager as to why I am doing so. At this point I feel I’ve done all I can with the resources at my disposal.
However, being a socially aware resident myself, I thought I would pass this along to you and see if you had any further advice or if you wanted to follow up on it yourself. I am mostly curious about this anti money laundering regulation they cited, which I’m pretty sure does not exist. On the whole it seems pretty discriminatory to me to not allow non-Japanese who hold valid visas and alien registration cards to open accounts for their first 6 months…and if it is true I can foresee a whole bunch of issues popping up (such as eikaiwa teachers essentially being paid under the table simply because they can’t open an account).
Best regards, Ariel