Dr. ARUDOU, Debito's Home Page

From Debito's doctoral research:

Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

  • Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination
  • (Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield HB 2015, PB 2016)

    Click on book cover for reviews, previews, and 30% discount direct from publisher. Available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle eBook on

  • Book IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan
  • Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on October 20th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

    Hi Blog. After a half-month interlude of light and reason (as in September 30 to October 17), 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. Read on below.

    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.  Arudou Debito


    Foreigners have no right to welfare payments, rules Oita District Court
    (Mainichi Japan) October 18, 2010, Courtesy of KS, JK, and lots of other people

    OITA — 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.

    In the ruling, Presiding Judge Yasuji Isshi said, “The Livelihood Protection Law is intended for Japanese citizens only. Welfare payments to non-citizens would be a form of charity. Non-citizens do not hold a right to receive payments.”

    The court rejected the woman’s requests that it overturn the city’s decision and order the commencement of payments. The woman intends to appeal. The ruling is the first in the country to deal with the issue of welfare payments to people with foreign citizenship and permanent residency in Japan.

    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.

    “Excluding foreign citizens from the protection of welfare benefits is not unconstitutional,” said Isshi. He did not say anything about the woman’s financial status in the ruling, effectively indicating that any such discussion was overruled by the issue of nationality.



    Original Japanese story

    大分・生活保護訴訟:永住外国人、受給権なし 地裁が初判決
    毎日新聞 2010年10月18日 東京夕刊




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

    1. sendaiben Says:

      It would be interesting to make a list of services and rights that are specifically not available to non-Japanese residents/taxpayers.

    2. Mumei Says:

      Rather disappointing, but now that I have read the law (生活保護法), the conclusion is quite obvious.
      Link here:

      This is another law written for “all 国民 (kokumin)”, which by definition those with Japanese citizenship. While it seems wrong, it would be difficult to argue this in a Japanese courtroom unless the law changes.

    3. Joe Jones Says:

      Actually, Mumei, that isn’t true. The Supreme Court has said that constitutional rights and duties given to “kokumin” CAN be enjoyed by foreign nationals so long as the nature of the right in question does not inherently limit it to Japanese nationals (e.g. voting and political participation). The rule in Japanese: 権利の性質上日本国民のみをその対象としていると解されるものを除き、わが国に在留する外国人に対しても等しく及ぶ.

      See here for an explanation in Japanese:

      The appeals of this case should be interesting and I think they could theoretically go either way. The purpose of the law is to prevent the social problems of having large numbers of destitute people on the streets, and article 2 of the law says that it is to be non-discriminatory in its application.

    4. Kevin Says:

      It will be interesting to see if the courts will now use this ruling to denie NJ unemployemnet, retirement, etc… I mean if you’ve lived here all your life and most likely paid into the system and the JG denies you the right to welfare based on citizenship well then wouldn’t it open the door to denial of all other forms of social compensation?

    5. Gary Says:

      So, exactly why should I keep paying my taxes…?

    6. FG Watcher Says:

      On Fucked Gaijin, they say a Japanese prof thinks the conclusion isn’t obvious ‘cos it goes against a 1979 treaty.

    7. Guillaume Says:

      Let’s ask the government the list of services reserved for Japanese citizens and contest the payment of these services. This has to be addressed by the central government so there is a clear view of the situation.

    8. crustpunker Says:

      Wait… WTF?!?! Then what are we doing paying into the national insurance system?! Part of the money we pay is meant to go into social security that we are able to collect after a certain age right??? If this is not true I’m getting my pitchfork and torches ready

    9. Ryuuta Says:

      So she doesn’t have Japanese citizenship, and she spent her adult working life in China. If there’s any controversy to this story, then I don’t see why it exists. Unless I’m overlooking something, this woman doesn’t seem entitled to Japanese welfare money. Now, if she were to go back to China, then as a Chinese citizen, I would think that she would be entitled to Chinese welfare. Another extenuating circumstance would be if she didn’t have means, but the court already said that she was fine in that area (although who knows what constitutes “a comfortable amount of money” these days).

      In any case, she should get welfare from whichever system she paid into; And it was my understanding that she worked in China and then came to Japan after retiring. Obviously, if I’m mistaken, I expect someone to correct me on that.

      — That’s not exactly what the ruling says. It says, according to the article, 「生活保護法は日本国籍者に限定した趣旨。外国人への生活保護は贈与にあたり、受給権はない」. That’s a very different kettle of fish than the issue you’re raising, i.e., “People who have not paid into the Japanese system should not expect to get benefits”.

    10. Bob Says:

      Ryuuta, she lived her whole life in Japan, not in China.

    11. ShauninMiyagi Says:


      As far as I can see, there is no mention of whether this lady spent her working (and so taxpaying) life in China. The article says that the main issues were the woman held the right to recieve payments as a foreigner and whether her financial status justified her receiving aid.
      I must admit that without looking further into the details of the case (I would actually like to read the actual judgement itself) it is hard to decide whether this judgement is fair or not, but the way I read the information available here, she was actually born in Japan so I would imagine that she spent her working life here in Japan. Now whether she worked or not during that period is another matter, since no Japanese national would be disqualified for the reason that they had not actually worked.
      As I said earlier, it’s hard to decide on this judgement, but from the information that I have seen, it seems that the judge has decided that she cannot receive aid simply because she doesn’t have Japanese nationality, which in my eyes is a groudbreaking ruling in entirely the wrng direction for us who are paying taxes into the government coffers.
      PS. I’ve looked up the Oita Local Court’s website to see if they have uploaded the riling yet but it doesn’t seem to be there yet. I’ll keep looking and post the link if I can find it.

    12. TokyoZeplin Says:

      Interesting case.

      Certainly, if she worked most of her adult life in another country, I could understand that. But I don’t see any mention of that in any of the articles.

      As others have pointed out, if “we” aren’t getting any of the benefits, then why are “we” paying taxes for it?
      Then there is the whole issue of citizenship… but really, I just feel the “Permanent Residence Visa” is a load of bull, and that Japan should just allow dual citizenship like many other countries do.

    13. Dan Kirk Says:

      I wish they would stop stealing from my paycheck, then. If I’m not eligible for these “benefits” since it would be ” a form of charity,” then taking taxes from me to pay Japanese is assumed charity by force from me to eligible recipients.

      This whole scheme opens a whole other can of worms. What if I, as sole wage earner, have lost my job or cannot work, and my Japanese family has to file to receive welfare? I assume the amount for my support would not be included, so I would need to find some kind of work, for which my family would lose their benefits if I earned too much?

      Courts make it up as they go with these ad hoc decisions. I mean, what does, “…a comfortable amount of money” mean? Either she has too much money and isn’t eligible or she doesn’t. They come off looking like amateurs. How long have they been at this?

    14. deepspacebeans Says:

      Bloody foreigners expecting their entitlements just because they pay for them.


      You’d probably okay (well, before this ruling came out, anyways) because you are not a dirty Chinese leech on society.

      I am rather curious about this specific point, though. Do any of you wither have personal experience as a foreigner with the welfare system or have known someone who has? I would imagine that many nikkei have applied for welfare before, and yet, I have not really read of any mass blanket denials prior to this specific, single case.

    15. jonholmes Says:

      The message it sends is even if you pay into the system is all your life, you cant expect any back if, as Dan Kirk says, you lost your job.

      I also feel justified in not bothering to ever have got permanent residence, as Tokyozepplin says above; its a con job.

      Why oh why stay in Japan long term? Is the only option to naturalize? Is that even a guaranteed option?

      Fcuked gaijin indeed.

    16. Ryuuta Says:

      “Ryuuta, she lived her whole life in Japan, not in China.”

      Bob, then why is she a citizen of China? Where’s your source for that info?

      And before you turn that around back at me, I said that I assumed she spent her working life in China, since she was a Chinese national. I acknowledged that I didn’t have a source and that I could be wrong, so keep that in mind before you try to rebut me. In any case, I have not seen anyone bring up a source supporting either working background, so I think any judgment should be reserved until then.

      In my mind, the case should hinge on this: If it turns out she worked in China, then she should get Chinese welfare; If in Japan. then Japanese welfare. If some combination, she should be entitled to a percentage of both, depending on the various factors (duration worked, time in residence [of each country], etc).

      And this is just my personal opinion on what would be fair. I’m not stating it as fact.

      — Have you never heard of the Zainichi?

      Goodbye Ryuuta. Everyone: Don’t feed the troll.

    17. Mumei Says:

      Joe Jones,

      I am aware of that ruling. However, my (non-lawyer) understanding is that that ruling was in regards to those human rights defined in the constitution (憲法). I doubt whether it can be extended to non-constitutional laws such as 生活保護法. But it certainly is worth pursuing, and I hope that I am wrong.

      Ryuuta, ShauninMiyagi,

      Japanese newspaper articles given in the comments section of the previous entry indicate that she was born in Japan and has only lived in Japan.

    18. Pathetic Little Man Says:

      Wait, so as a foreigner I HAVE to pay pension contributions but will NOT be entitled to draw a pension?


    19. debito Says:

      FYI. Courtesy of Peach:

      The Japan Times Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010
      Japan’s poverty problem
      Poverty in Japan is deepening. The welfare ministry announced last month that as of June, 1,907,176 people in 1,377,930 households were on welfare, receiving livelihood assistance (seikatsu hogo). This is the first time that the number of people on welfare has topped 1.9 million since fiscal 1955, when about 1.93 million people were receiving livelihood assistance every month. It is estimated that the number of welfare recipients will exceed 2 million by the end of 2010, close to the record set in fiscal 1952 when some 2.04 million people were on welfare.

      In fiscal 1995, about 880,000 people were on welfare — the lowest figure on record. Since then, the number of welfare recipients has been rising. It topped 1.5 million in fiscal 2006. Since December 2008, due to the effect of the economic downturn triggered by Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s collapse, every month more than 10,000 people have been joining the welfare rolls. The total number surpassed 1.8 million in December 2009. The figure in June 2010 is some 208,000 more than a year before.

      Welfare rolls are swelling because of high unemployment, low wages and the increasing number of households that include low-income elderly people. A growing number of relatively young people who either can’t find work or work in extremely low-paid jobs are being forced onto welfare. Often they have not joined the unemployment insurance scheme or their wages were so low that they cannot make ends meet with their unemployment insurance benefits.

      The government should change the social insurance system so that even if the duration of time that people work is extremely short they can join and benefit from health and unemployment insurance schemes.

      Currently, people have to pay premiums for at least 25 years to be eligible to receive pensions. This period should be shortened. Most importantly, the government must focus on job creation, particularly medical, nursing care and child-rearing services, where demand for workers is strong.

    20. Kimpatsu Says:

      About six years ago, I was unemployed for about six months and claimed welfare (150,000 yen per month) in Osaka. Evidently, it’s not beign a foreigner per se that is the problem, but being Chinese.

    21. Mark Says:

      Taxation without compensation.

    22. Mark Says:

      “Currently, people have to pay premiums for at least 25 years to be eligible to receive pensions.”

      A wife and husband can combine their “years worked” to reach this figure. For example, a married couple in which the wife paid in for 10 years and the husband paid in for 15 years would qualify.

    23. Yamato Says:

      The rejection on grounds of nationality is wrong, but people need to get facts straight.

      She wasn’t rejected from her “pension” – that is the money that you pay in each month for 25 years. She was rejected for temporary assistance allowance for people in special need.

    24. Iago Says:

      Don’t lose site if the fact this is about welfare.

      Simplistically, if you pay into the pension scheme (for a minimum of 25 years!), you have a right to collect pension regardless of your passport. If you pay your unemployment insurance you have a right to support from Hello Work regardless of your passport.

      Welfare is the “safety net” when you don’t have income or coverage from anything else and are living in “poverty”. The question is, does the color of your passport dictate whether the safety net catches you or not. Wrong passport, you’re on your own collecting tin cans from the garbage?

      Maybe she should have naturalized in the past. Whole different discussion. If she’s below the poverty line (and perhaps she isn’t based on some of the reports), can society abandon her because she’s “only” a PR?

    25. Margaret Says:

      As I understand, the decision about to whom to pay welfare payments varies from prefecture to prefecture. there was a recent case in Osaka of a group of Chinese being brought over and getting welfare payments in just a few months (with them then paying a margin to the broker.) Those payments have since been rescinded.

    26. Joe Jones Says:

      @Mumei: I believe the interpretation of “kokumin” in the Constitution is very relevant, because the only reference to “kokumin” in the law is a citation to the Constitution — and indeed if you do a search for 外国人の生存権, you will find nothing but articles about this exact case.

      If they wanted to limit the law to Japanese citizens, they could have used a more specific term than “kokumin.”

    27. crustpunker Says:

      I cannot remember where I read this but it was my understanding that one could even pay into the pension scheme and then collect on it EVEN IF you live in a foreign country. I have no data or source for this, it’s just something I remember hearing about at one time. Does anyone have any source about this being true or not?

      — Yes you can, under totalization agreements with certain countries. Busy day for me today, so source from anyone please?

    28. James Annan Says:

      It’s the usual story, isn’t it?

      We do generally get reasonable treatment – but have no legal right to it, because gaijin aren’t really human and thus don’t actually have any rights. Eg education, many NJ children do attend Japanese schools, but if there’s a problem, tough shit, because it’s only legally guaranteed for the true Yamato race. Likewise obviously many NJ do successfully claim welfare but when some pen-pusher decides to randomly give you a batsu based on his bad day or personal prejudice, tough shit again. And of course there’s the general issue of racial discrimination in all walks of life. Serious cases are pretty rare IMO (apart from housing where it is ubiquitous) but there’s no comeback (in a practical sense) when it happens, because hey, you’re only a gaijin, you can fuck off “home” if you’re going to complain. Now run along like a well-trained house-pet and you’ll get your biscuit later, if you behave…

      — Wow, bad day, eh?

    29. sendaiben Says:

      @27 that’s not under the totalization treaty, but rather if you pay your full 25 years of pension, you can claim it from anywhere in the world. Retire to Thailand, anyone? 😉

    30. Hoofin Says:

      Crestpunker @27:

      Depending on your country, you are entitled to collect at least a fractional check from Japan for whatever you paid.

      For example, if you are an American and have 14 years in with social security, you only need 11 years in Japan to make 25 for Japan. If you are here on short stay, like 2 years, that carries with you back to the States, and once you have 23 into social security, Japan would pay on the fractional two years.

      The totalization treaties are with about a dozen countries, including Australia, Canada and France.

      Just Google “Hoofin totalization” and go to town. I’ve written more about this than anyone on the net.

      The case of the Chinese woman isn’t about nenkin. Oita doesn’t want to give her the money because she’s not an ethnic Japanese, but one of the Zainichi. MacArthur was too much of a softy about that issue.

    31. James Annan Says:

      Well, this ruling made my day bad. Treating the lady like some dog shit to be scraped off Japan’s shoe, just because she was stupid enough to have a gaijin father.

    32. jonholmes Says:

      basically there is no compromise, you either become Japanese, giving up your other nationality, or you get nothing.

      Glad I didnt bother with PR status, its next to useless (and actually might ve had an adverse effect on my benefit claim in the UK, if I told them).

    33. crustpunker Says:

      Cheers Hoofin and Sendaiban for the clarification! I will “go to town” as it were… 11 more years to pay…. Hopefully Japan will still have a somewhat functioning economy. Cross our collective fingers I guess?

    34. jonholmes Says:

      a functioning economy, its a big if, lol.

      If we can more welfare, then I am starting to think it might be good if more gaijin-who look and think like gaijin-naturalize. “Troublemakers” like our good selves, for instance. People who speak Japanese, but who dont “think” like a Japanese,(stereotype I know) to introduce another perspective in a tired old paradigm.

      Let a thousand Debitos bloom…to paraphrase a former leader of the GOJ’s favorite neighbour. Then there would be more people caring about the plight of NJs, minorities etc.

      Debito, how easy was it to naturalize? Please remind me of the link.

      — Try these two places:
      (more up to date)
      (older data)

    35. adamw Says:

      she was born in 1932 in japan and is half japanese by birth.
      i cant imagine it would have been easy for her to naturalize until relatively recently.
      some reports says she says relatives of the husband control their joint bank account
      how is this possible?
      because she doesnt have juuminhyo?

    36. Paul Says:

      Ladies and Gentlemen I think that there are some of you confusing Pension vs Welfare payments and one that is considering unemployment welfare too.

      Each of these here in Japan are distinctly different. The Chinese woman in the article was suing for seikatsu hogo, or for a basic living allowance or welfare.

      Nenkin, or the pension scheme is different, so is unemployment as well, neither of those are “welfare” and are administrated differently.

      Next, just how many countries in the world provide welfare, living subsistence allowances to foreigner’s living within their country, even with permanent resident status and having enough savings to live comfortably without state assistance?

      For all we know this woman could be like Bill Gates and have a crap load of money at her disposal but doesnt want to use her money to live on.

      Japanese nationals as well are screened prior to receiving seikatsu hogo, and if a Japanese national had enough savings they could be refused as well.

      Seikatsu Hogo is for the truly indigent and if the woman in question does actually have enough money to live off of why in the heck is she paying a lawyer to bring a lawsuit against the Japanese government, unless it is as I wrote earlier she has the cash but doesnt want to use it.

      — Again, this is not what the ruling said. Her possible “crap load” of savings were not made an issue of. Her “foreign” status was. Please stay on point.

    37. AJ Says:

      Yep. When the money runs low in the pension scheme through economic mismanagement and corruption in kasumigaseki, look out if you’re not naturalized.

      Seems I’m at least somewhat justified in my reasons for avoiding getting mired in the public insurance “schemes” here.

      On the human side, that is really cold. You’re not one of us, so you get nothing. But I’ve lived here with you my whole life?!! You’re still not one of us. You’re on your own. Nice bunch of folks down there at your local city hall.

      At least you’re safe Debito. More power to you for fighting twits like this with your activism. Respect.

    38. Marc Says:


      In addition to what Hoofin has written about totalisation, if you are entitled to a Japanese pension after having worked 25 years or more here, there is no residency requirement to collect it. I have a number of personal friends, Japanese and non-Japanese, who are collecting Japan pensions while living in Thailand or the Phillipines.

    39. Scipio Says:

      Next, just how many countries in the world provide welfare, living subsistence allowances to foreigner’s living within their country, even with permanent resident status?

      Britain, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Holland, Canada …….

      Jesus,the list could go on and on. The one’s mentioned above are just a few who give welfare for foreigners who are not permanent citizens. I mean foreigners in the full sense of the word, not this elitist definition based on some biological distinction.
      I even knew a few Japanese in my day who used to collect their weekly giro from the British DHSS, with just PR.

      Who knows how much money she has?

    40. Hoofin Says:

      Here looks like the best place to mention and link it:

      The United States also has a “Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation” (FCN treaty) with Japan that dates from 1953.

      Article III says:

      1. Nationals of either Party should be accorded national treatment in the application of laws and regulations within the territories of the other Party that establish a pecuniary compensation. or other benefit or service, on account of disease, injury or death arising out of and in the course of employment or due to the nature of employment.

      2. In addition to the rights and privileges provided in paragraph 1 of the present Article, nationals of either Party shall, within the territories of the other Party, be accorded national treatment in the application of laws and regulations establishing compulsory systems of social security, under which benefits are paid without an individual test of financial need: (a) against loss of wages or earnings due to old age, unemployment, sickness or disability, or (b) against loss of financial support due to the death of father, husband or other person on whom such support had depended.

      I have been researching the treaty in connection with the question of whether a U.S.-based multinational would have grounds to summarily dismiss a Japanese employee who discriminated against Americans. Another part of the treaty permits each country to favor its own nationals in certain managerial positions. Japan obviously vigorously applies the treaty rule against Americans working for Japanese subs in America. As is so often the case with the opposite scenario, American companies tend to forget where their loyalties lie.

    41. DR Says:

      To my mind this is an obvious invitation to refuse to pay taxes by any non-citizen of Japan.

      My Japanese wife was able to receive benefits in Spain, no questions, as long as she met the same eligibility requirements as the Spanish did, without, obviously, being a Spanish citizen.

      Along with the openly racist naming of NJ spouses as “remarks” on kosekis, and a ruling a few years back that “Human Rights Are For Japanese Humans Only” (JT, June-July 2008?), now the resident international community is to be denied basic services, despite paying taxes. And then some.

      I can’t help but smile with a little Schadenfreude at the demographic, geo-political and financial disaster that awaits Japan, all of its own myopic making. “The recrudescence of Japanese chauvinism and isolationism.” to quote Sir Hugh Cortazzi, former UK Ambassador to Japan, January 2007, Japan Times, has already become its own undoing. Run for the hills, folks, run for the hills!

    42. Valentina Says:

      @ Deepspacebeans:
      “I am rather curious about this specific point, though. Do any of you wither have personal experience as a foreigner with the welfare system or have known someone who has?”
      I don’t have any personal experience, but I know an Italian who lives in Osaka as a PR. This year he was unemployed for about 6 months and received unemployment benefit until a month ago, when he found another job, without any problem.

    Leave a Reply

    404 Not Found

    Not Found

    404 Not Found

    Not Found

    Not Found

    Not Found

    404 Not Found

    Not Found