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  • MHLW clamps down on NJ spongers of system claiming overseas kids. What spongers?

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on April 9th, 2010

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    Hi Blog.   In mid-March we had a storm in a teacup about DPJ policy re child allowances:  If NJ also qualified for child support, politicians argued, some hypothetical Arab prince in Japan would claim all 50 of his kids back in Saudi Arabia.  Well, thanks to that storm, we have the Health Ministry creating policy within weeks to prevent NJ from potentially sponging off the system.  As submitter JK notes, “What follows is article on why 厚生労働省 feels the need to clamp down on those untrustworthy foreigners; never mind about the lack of data.”

    Gov’t gets tough on allowances for foreigners who claim to have children in home countries

    子ども手当:外国人支給、厳格に 子との年2回面会要件

    Well, that’s proactive policymaking in Japan.  In the same way that anti-terrorism policy that targets foreigners only was proactive (although it took a few years to draft and enact).  Here, the bureaucrats could just do it with a few penstrokes and call it a “clarification”, without having to go through the pesky political process.

    But the assumption is, once again, that a) foreigners are untrustworthy and need extra background checks, and b) any policy that might do something nice for the Japanese public needs to be carefully considered by viewing it through the “foreigner prism”, for who knows what those people might do to take advantage of our rich system?  “What-if” panicky hypotheticals without any data win the debate and govern policymaking towards NJ again.

    Arudou Debito in Sapporo


    Gov’t gets tough on allowances for foreigners who claim to have children in home countries
    (Mainichi Japan) April 7, 2010

    The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has tightened conditions for paying child-care allowances to foreigners who reside in Japan and claim to have children in their home countries, ministry officials said.

    The move is aimed at preventing foreign residents from illicitly receiving expensive allowances by falsely adopting children in their home countries or using other tricks to deceive Japanese authorities. The ministry has notified local governments across the country of its decision.

    Before providing child-care allowances, local governments are required by the ministry to confirm that such recipients meet their children in their home countries at least twice a year by checking their passports, and make sure that they send money to their children at least once every four months.

    The ministry took the measure out of fear that a large number of foreigners would falsely adopt children in their home countries for the sole purpose of illegally receiving child-care allowances in Japan.

    The number of foreign residents’ children who receive child allowances while living in their home countries remains unclear, according to the ministry.

    Some local governments have expressed concern that the measure would increase their workload.

    Original Japanese story

    子ども手当:外国人支給、厳格に 子との年2回面会要件
    毎日新聞 2010年4月7日 東京朝刊





    14 Responses to “MHLW clamps down on NJ spongers of system claiming overseas kids. What spongers?”

    1. Brad Says:

      Hi Debito,

      Were you thinking of this article from the Sankei?

      — That’s the one!! Thanks!





















    2. debito Says:

      Also discussion and actual video coverage of the debate here on FG:

    3. jjobseeker Says:

      Yeah, as if there aren’t deadbeat parents who won’t take this money and use it for gambling or other purpose. Say, haven’t there been a rash of news lately of parents mistreating or even murdering their children? What if those people kill their child, don’t declare it and just keep collecting the cash. How about background and proper checks for all recipients and not just NJ. After all, we didn’t put the country in the toilet now did we? Japanese did…

      But hey, the “Get Up! Japan” and “Long Neck” new parties might actually do the right thing… Not!

    4. MMT Says:

      I may have to plead ignorance on this issue, but from my perspective why is an issue at all? Would it not be logical to assume that the new child-care allowance is intended to be only for residents of Japan? I can understand that some NJ people may work in Japan to provide for their family back home, but surely the government can’t be expected to subsidise someone’s child who doesn’t live here. If a legal NJ resident has dependents living in Japan then they should receive the 13,000 per month assistance. If their children reside in another country shouldn’t that country be looking after their social needs?

      Am I missing the point? If so, please enlighten me. :/

      — I don’t think you’re missing the point. It’s just the flavor of the decade to keep bashing NJ (they’re easy targets in this society because nobody in power defends them) as a means of gaining political traction, in this case for the LDP to throw grit in any DPJ proposed reform. Simple solution: You want to claim the child allowance, your child must live in Japan. Duh. Regardless of nationality.

    5. Hoofin Says:

      From everything I can tell, Minister Nagatsuma is a class act. I don’t think this is a deliberate anti-NJ policy as much as someone deciding they need a system to audit where the money is going.

      If the matter is Japanese in Japan, it’s easier to figure out if they have children and where they are. If someone is NJ and here, there would have to be a way to ascertain if any children they claim overseas actually exist.

      It is an administrative problem, and truly, a material one.

      Sometimes NJ get treated differently for a justifiable reason. I would say this is a legitimate instance.

      — Assuming that NJ are more likely to bilk the system. I wished the issue was couched as “anyone with children overseas”. Why zero in on NJ when Japanese have children overseas too?

      I agree with you that Nagatsuma handled the alarmist questioning well. It’s a pity that the policy that came out of this alarmism just zeroes on in on NJ, as opposed to potential spongers of any nationality.

    6. Getchan Says:

      I think the issue is rather a non-issue, as by the same token, the parents must reside in Japan to be eligible for the child allowance, so Japanese parents working overseas and having kids in Japan do NOT qualify, even though they are likely to incur more expenses to their parents than in Germany, Columbia or Nepal.
      But nobody accuses the GOJ of discrimination against Japanese citizens living abroad.
      Are we now measuring “discrimination” with different measures?

      The entire discussion will probably lead to a reform of the system with the additional requirement that the kid(s) and at least one parent live in Japan.

    7. Graham Says:

      > Why zero in on NJ when Japanese have children overseas too?
      The argument I heard about this case is that, for Japanese family, keeping in track of whether parents have kids or not is easy thanks to the koseki system. NJ are not listed in the koseki, thus making it difficult for the J government to actually make sure whether they have kids or not.

      Well, at least that problem will be solved in the coming years (hopefully).

      — So the GOJ is targeting and policing NJ extra hard (and making them out to be more likely to act like criminals) because the GOJ can’t be bothered to record them properly?

      And no, if the koseki is the issue, there are no plans to change how the koseki system will deal with NJ.

    8. GiantPanda Says:

      Good lord, it’s not like we are talking grand sums of money here. Nobody is going to get rich on the child allowance I can assure you.

    9. Kimberly Says:

      It seems like there’s such an easy fix to this problem. The money could be allocated only to children who:

      A. Live in Japan, regardless of nationality.
      B. Have Japanese citizenship, regardless of country of residence
      C. Have Japanese permanent residence and parents living in Japan (this last to make sure that Zainichi kids can spend a year abroad or whatever if they want to, wouldn’t happen too often with kids that young, probably, but if Japanese kids can study abroad and still get the money, someone who might as well be Japanese in every way except on paper should have the right to do it too, IMO)

      I really don’t think that anyone, J or NJ would argue with that… it seems like such a stupid thing to worry about. I don’t think anyone expects Japan to pay for kids who have nothing whatsoever to do with Japan, making it sound like some people DO is really nasty on the part of the government and the news sources that are covering it.

    10. Norik Says:

      Lets imagine that an engineer from India has come to Japan to work on 3 years contract and has 2 children at home. For some reason (health condition, special school, fear of discrimination, etc), he can’t take them with him.He pays his taxes just like his Japanese colleagues, but every three months he notices that they receive some 3-6man more than him for something called child allowance. He doesn’t pay taxes in India, because he doesn’t work there, and his children are left with nothing. Lets think about these kids, Kimberly!

    11. MMT Says:

      Norik, while the hypothetical engineer you speak of may have children living in his home country while he earns a living in Japan, I can’t see why he should be entitled to a child-care allowance from the Japanese government for them. The design of this program is to assist parents living in Japan with the expenses of raising children here.

      I cannot think of any government that would provide such assistance to any non-resident dependents. That’s why this whole issue is so confusing. First off we have the opposition LDP concocting some virile, phantom prince, father to ‘dozens of kids’ who would claim over 700,000 yen a month to pay for all his kids (like a person with that many children would ever need the $140 handout a month). Then we have the equally-baffling answer from the government that they will require these NJ parents to provide proof of sending home support money (at regular intervals) plus trips home twice a year to see the family (which would wipe out any gain, whatsoever from this government assistance program). Just poorly thought out all around.

      As an example, I live in Japan as a long-term resident. As such, as a tax-paying resident I am entitled to a variety of social programs in Japan. However, since I live here and not in my country of birth I don’t think it should entitle me to make claims for government assistance in the county I happen to hold citizenship in. It turns out my government agrees with me. I cannot utilise its medical system, tax-free, government-sponsored retirement plans, child allowance or even maintain a valid driver’s license. Those benefits come with being a tax-paying resident.

    12. Frank Says:

      It seems that there are foreigners who are applying for their multiple children living overseas.
      And the city offices are accepting “proof” in foreign languages.

      Foreigner kids should be required to BE HERE go get an allowance.

      — Or else suffer the slings and arrows of being part of a group where one “member” ALLEGEDLY said to some (Saitama?) bureaucrat something about claiming an allowance after adopting 100 kids? It’s amazingly thorough investigative journalism in Japan (for a change), and it only seems to become quite this rigorous when we have an issue of greedy semi-literate NJ coming here to sponge off our rich country (as opposed to all the random scandals that Japanese perpetrate to sponge off the State themselves).

      Ah well, as Alarmist Anchor Ogura proclaims, “They’ll bankrupt us!” And how about those bent necks all around fearing that Japan might get a reputation worldwide for being nice? Nay, being nice only means that NJ take advantage of us… Never mind, the hole seems to have been plugged. But only after the NJ spoil it for the rest of us, and we make some journalistic “shock-horror” hay from it.

      Good report, thanks for it!

    13. KG Says:

      There is always one… or 554…

      City rejects man’s request for allowance for 554 adopted children

      Saturday 24th April, 02:22 PM JST


      A city government in Hyogo Prefecture has rejected a resident’s application to obtain newly instituted benefits designed to aid families with children after the man, a South Korean national, attempted to apply for 554 children who he said were adopted in Thailand, a city official said Saturday.

      The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry issued earlier this month a notice detailing some conditions for children residing abroad and others to be eligible for the benefit such as being in the same household and individually approved by the local municipal government.

      In it, the ministry cites a case of a foreign national who has adopted 50 orphans in their home country as an example of being ineligible.

      The monthly allowance, to be disbursed from June, is set at 13,000 yen per child, which would come to just over 86 million yen per year for the 554 children.

      The ministry said this is the first time that someone has tried to file an application for several hundred children at one time. The child benefit law enacted in March does not require residency in Japan for eligible children, generating concerns in some quarters about abuse.

      According to the Amagasaki municipal government, the man, who appeared to be in his 50s, visited the city office on Thursday and applied for the child benefit by showing documents that he said were certified by Thai authorities, along with translations, that showed the names of the children and their birth dates.

      The man said the children he adopted include those in a monastery in Thailand, where his wife comes from, according to the city.

      Aware of the ministry’s earlier notice, the city immediately consulted the ministry and decided not to accept the application.

      The applicant also carried records showing that he has been sending money to the children, the necessary documents by a foreign resident to make an application, and his passport to prove that he visited the children. The ministry requires at least two child visits per year, supported by passport records, for foreigners who have children abroad.

      The city official said they do not know if all the documents were authentic as they did not accept the application.

      After being briefed and rejected by staff, the man requested the name of the division at the ministry in charge of the allowance and its phone number before leaving the office, the city official said.

      On March 26, the Democratic Party of Japan-led ruling bloc enacted the child benefit law, one of the party’s key campaign pledges for last year’s general election.

      The law applies to children until they finish lower secondary school. The DPJ aims to provide 26,000 yen a month from fiscal 2011 per child.

      © 2010 Kyodo News.

    14. FG Watcher Says:

      There’s something about this on Fucked Gaijin

      Some detailed numbers are now in for June.

      * There were a total of 9,315,183 applications for the new child allowance of which 162,922 (1.74% of the total) were made by foreign residents.

      * Payments covered 15,316,214 children of which 249,902 (1.63%) were foreign. (N.B. Children of the roughly 1.5 million government workers in Japan were not included in this survey* [see Edit 2 below].)

      * 9,113 of these claims were for children living abroad of which 7,294 came from foreign residents.

      * Overseas claims covered 13,278 children of whom 10,656 were foreign. (No foreign children living overseas will be covered next year)

      * Out of these 10,656 foreign children living abroad, 1,195 were not already registered for existing child allowance payments.

      I’m uncertain how children have been designated “foreign” in this survey where one of the parents is Japanese. Any child covered by the allowance is too young to have to choose between nationalities. Many will not yet even have a passport issued by either country.

      It’s possible that “foreign” refers only to households where both parents are non-Japanese, in which case there would be some undercounting of kids we might think of as foreign and who will probably take an overseas passport in the future (unless they “avoid” that issue).

      However, they might have designated a child foreign if the applicant was non-Japanese. Since we know that the greater part of mixed marriages are between Japanese men and foreign women, if the mothers made the application then there might be an overcounting of “foreign” children. I would assume that the majority of kids brought up in Japan in such relationships will live as Japanese citizens.

      Of course, some of those mothers may have been alert to potential problems and ensured that the applications were made in the name of the father which would reduce any overcounting.

      Alternatively, the survey may have looked at the nationality of the head of the household anyway. In that case, some foreign men who are registered under the wives’ names may have had their children counted as Japanese even if they made the application themselves.

      Perhaps some board members, who went through the application process, will be able to shed more light on how these classifications might have worked.

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