nationals on visas who do not sustain work in
~Author: Stephanie Houghton and Steve van Dresser
outlines the place of foreign nationals within the Japanese pension system. The
information provided was confirmed by the Social Insurance Operations Centre in
Shakai Hoken Gyomusenta,
Social Insurance Operations Centre,
Tel: 03 3334 3131 Fax: 03 5344 1194
that the information contained in this paper may be qualified by any
international agreement that may be in place between the Japanese Government
and the government of your country regarding pension liability and/or benefits.
All information is contained in this paper is therefore subject to change and for further enquiries, you are recommended to contact your local Social Insurance office or the Social Insurance Operations Centre in Tokyo at the address given above. Enquiries may be addressed in English (and perhaps other languages.) When making a written inquiry regarding your pension, you are requested to give your basic pension number and pension code, full name with phonetic transcriptions in kana, date of birth, and telephone number.
A: Insured Persons
Q1: What categories of insured persons are there under the Japanese National Pension system?
are 3 categories of insured persons. The category of worker is based on whether
he/she is employed at a workplace with more than five employees or not. This is
also applied to foreigners living in
Category 1 insured persons include farmers, self-employed persons, free-lance workers, non-salaried employees, salaried employees who do not participate in the Employeesf Pension Insurance (kosei nenkin) or other schemes, unemployed persons, students etc.
Category 2 insured persons include salaried employees working for companies, government offices, schools, corporations etc who participate in the Employees Pension Insurance (kosei nenkin), Mutual Aid Associations (kyosai kumiai) etc.
Category 3 insured persons include spouses dependent upon category 2 persons.
· Category 1 insured persons
Q2: What is the National Pension (kokumin nenkin) system?
the basic pension (kokumin nenkin)
for all adults. All residents in
Q3: How much are monthly insurance premiums?
The insurance premium of category 1 insured persons is 13,300 yen per month. Only category 1 insured persons are required to pay the monthly insurance contribution of 13,300 yen.
Q4: Are foreign workers eligible?
foreign residents who have an alien registration card should join the National
Pension plan unless they can convince the Commissioner of the Social Insurance
Agency that they would be unable to contribute long enough to benefit. (E.g. If they are over 45 years old and will not be able to
contribute for 25 years.) People have to be resident in
Q5: Is participation mandatory?
Yes, it is
mandatory. Participation in the National Pension system is obligatory for all
persons with an address in
· Category 2 insured persons
Q6: What is the Employeesf Pension Insurance (kosei nenkin) system?
Employeesf Pension Insurance (kosei nenkin) is for private companies. All individuals who are
employed at an applicable company are insured under the Employees Pension
Insurance Law. The Employees Pension Insurance system and the National Pension
system are unrelated. People have to have salaried work in
Q7: How much are monthly contributions?
Monthly insurance contributions are calculated on the basis of an individualf s standard monthly remuneration (grades/monthly amounts are divided into 30 grades (from 98,000 yen to 620,000 yen) by multiplying the standard monthly remuneration by the contribution rate. The insurance contributions are deducted at source, i.e. from the monthly salary.
Q8: Does the employer make Employeesf Pension Insurance contributions on behalf of the employee? Yes. Employer and employee make equal contributions.
Q9: What is the Mutual Aid Association (kyosai kumiai) pension system?
This is the pension system for public servants who are participating in the national public service personnel mutual aid associations, regional public service personnel mutual aid associations or private and public school personnel mutual aid associations.
Q1O: Can foreigners become public employees?
It is not possible for foreigners to become national public servants, except in the case of tenured faculty members at national universities. It is extraordinarily unusual for a foreign national to become a public employee. However, if an individual is participating in the national public service personnel mutual aid associations, regional public service personnel mutual aid associations or private and public school personnel mutual aid associations, they would be participating in the Mutual Aid Association Pension (kyosai kumiai) system. There are no exclusionary regulations based on nationality.
Q11: How much are monthly premiums?
The contribution is based on salary. The current premium rate is 17.35 per cent.
Q12: Does the employer make Mutual Aid Association Pension contributions on behalf of the employee?
Employer and employee make equal contributions. Readers are requested to
reconfirm the matters addressed in the above four questions with the Federation
of National Public Service Personnel Mutual Aid associations (
· Category 3 insured persons
Q13: How much are monthly contributions?
Category 3 persons do not need to pay premiums because they are dependants.
B: Exemption from the National Pension
Q14: Can category 1 insured persons be exempt?
Individuals who apply to the Director General/Commissioner of the Social Insurance Agency for optional withdrawal from the National Pension system will have their request approved.
Category 1 insured persons may be exempt if it is too difficult for them to pay due to economic reasons. Exemption affects the level of benefits they will receive in the future. Payments may be made up later in life under certain conditions (within ten years). Readers should contact the Social Insurance Office or National Pensions section of the municipality where they live, for more information.
Category 1 insured persons with foreign nationality, who temporarily live in Japan; and cannot meet the 25 year eligibility period to receive the Old Age pensions, even if they continue to take part in the National pension until 60 years of age, may discontinue being insured persons with the approval of the Director general/Commissioner of the Social Insurance Agency. Readers should contact the Social Insurance Office where they live, for more information.
Q15: Can category 2 insured persons be exempt?
No. Under the Employeesf Pension Insurance, there is no exemption scheme for category 2 insured persons because all category 2 insured persons obtain regular payment from their employers. Insured persons who are receiving a salary from an applicable company cannot discontinue their insurance liability. The lump-sum withdrawal payment system is available in the event that provisionally paid contributions are not linked to pension benefits.
Q16: Can students be exempt?
Students are covered by government ordinance provisions. Students attending night schools may apply for exemption. Students attending schools whose annual income ls 680,000 yen or less may apply for exemption. Readers should contact the social insurance office or national pension section of their municipality. Payments may be made up later in life under certain conditions (within 10 years.)
C: National Pension Benefits
Q17: What are National Pension benefits like?
There are 3 types of pension benefit; the old-age basic pension, the disability basic pension and the survivorsf basic pension.
Q18: What is the Disability Basic Pension like?
Insured persons will be entitled to this if they are a member of the National Pension system at the time of first medical consultation of the disability and are recognised as being disabled due to disease or injury. (Class 1 disability: 1,005,300 yen per year. Class 2 disability: 804,200 yen per year.)
Q19: What is the Survivors Basic Pension like?
If an insured person dies, their spouse and chiid(ren) who have been supported by the deceased insured personfs income are entitled. The pension amount for wife with one child is 1,035,600 yen per year.
Q20: What is the Old Age Basic Pension like?
Insured persons will be entitled to this if they have been a member for 25 years or more and reach the age of 65. All insurance periods are taken into consideration. Benefit is based on amount contributed but subject to change on the basis of legal revisions, a slide in prices, etc. This is not limited to the basic Old Age Pension but also applies to the Disability Basic Pension and the Survivorfs Basic Pension.
D: Loss of Pension Benefits
Q21: If I stay In Japan, work for less than 25 years but voluntarily pay National Pension (kokumin nenkin) premiums for 25 years, am I still entitled to both National Pension (kokumin nenkin) and Employeesf Pension (kosei nenkin) benefits?
If an individual has paid insurance contributions for 25 years, they will have fulfilled the eligibility requirements for the Basic Old Age Pension and are thus entitled to receive basic Old Age Pension benefits from the age of 65, on the basis of the number of months of insurance contributions paid. Individuals who have satisfied the eligibility requirements for the basic Old Age Pension are entitled to receive Employees Old Age Pension benefits if they have been insured for more than one year under Employees Pension Insurance.
Q22: What happens to my old age pension if I work and pay premiums for less than 25 years?
This depends on whether the foreign national is on a working visa or has been granted Japanese nationality or permission for permanent residency. Generally, foreign nationals will lose all benefits except for the lump sum benefit based on months of contribution, if they have been covered for more than 6 months under the national pension or employeesf pension insurance. (See below for the details.) The Lump Sum Withdrawal Benefit is paid to non-Japanese only.
· Insured period under National Pension Amount of benefit
between 6 and 11 months - 39,900 yen
between 12 and 17 months - 79,800 yen
between 18 and 23 months - 119,700 yen
between 24 and 29 months - 159,600 yen
between 30 and 35 months - 199,500 yen
36 months or more - 239,400 yen
· Insured period under Employeesf Pension Insurance Amount of benefit
between 6 and 11 months - Average Monthly Remuneration x 0.5
between 12 and 17 months - Average Monthly Remuneration x 1.0
between 18 and 23 months - Average Monthly Remuneration x 1.5
between 24 and 29 months - Average Monthly Remuneration x 2.0
between 30 and 35 months - Average Monthly Remuneration x 2.5
36 months or more - Average Monthly Remuneration x 3.0
foreigners who have been granted Japanese nationality or who have received
permission for permanent residency are eligible for ekarakikanf (see Q26-32
below.) Any periods of residence in a foreign country occurring after April 1,
1961 up to the day preceding the day on which Japanese nationality was granted,
etc., while between the ages of 20 and 59 years, are counted as ekarakikan.f In
order to be eligible to receive basic Old Age Pension benefits, the period of
contribution payments plus the total eligible period ekarakikanf (periods of ekarakikanf are factored into
the period counted for pension eligibility requirements but not into the
calculation for benefits) should total 25 years. If the 25-year eligibility
requirement is not fulfilled, it is not possible to receive pension benefits.
Periods during which an individual is not under salary from a Japanese company
are basically counted as periods as a category 1 insured person under the
National Pension and contributions will be payable. Such periods will not be counted
as karakikan.f Readers should clarify the details with the Social Insurance
Q23: Can contributions be refunded?
paid, the premiums cannot be refunded, even if insured persons withdraw before
reaching 65 years. However, if an alien for a short-term stay has participated
in this for more than 6 months but has not received any benefits, they can
receive a lump sum benefit upon departure from
Can category 1 foreign workers who leave
The claim for lump sum withdrawal benefit has to be made within 2 years from
the date of departure from
Q25: Can category 2 foreign
workers who leave
Yes. The lump-sum withdrawal payment system is available for both the National Pension and the Employees Pension Insurance.
E: Japanese nationals, permanent residents and special permanent residents
Q26: What is ekarakikanf?
For Japanese persons who hold Japanese nationality, any periods of residence in a foreign country occurring after April 1, 1961, while between the ages of 20 and 59 years, are counted as ekarakikanf (periods of gkarakikanh are factored into the period counted for pension eligibility requirements but not into the calculation of the amount of benefits) when the eligibility requirements for the basic Old Age Pension are adjudicated.
For foreigners who have been granted Japanese nationality or who have received permission for permanent residency (persons who have become naturalized Japanese citizens and have been granted nationality or who have received permission for permanent residency, etc., at any time after their twentieth birthday up to two days prior to their 65th birthday: same hereunder), any periods of exemption from the National Pension while resident in Japan, occurring between April 1, 1961 and December 31, 1981, while between the ages of 20 and 59 years are counted as ekarakikan.f In addition, for foreigners who have been granted Japanese nationality or who have received permission for permanent residency, any periods of residence in a foreign country occurring after April 1, 1961 up to the day preceding the day on which Japanese nationality was granted, etc., while between the ages of 20 and 59 years, are counted as ekarakikan.f
If you leave
Any periods of residency in a foreign country occurring after April 1, 1961 up to the day preceding the day on which Japanese nationality was granted or permission for permanent residency was received, etc., while between the ages of 20 and 59 years, are counted as ekarakikanf in the total eligible period. Accordingly, a foreigner who first comes to Japan at the age of 30 and is granted Japanese nationality or permanent residency before turning 65 years of age will have the 10-year period from age 20 counted as a period of foreign residency in the total eligible period. Any periods spent in a foreign country thereafter will be factored into the total eligible period. Nevertheless, as of December 31, 1981 it became possible for all individuals with an address in Japan to participate in the National Pension, irrespective of their nationality, thus periods of residency in Japan will not be factored into the total eligible period.
If you stay in
foreigners who have been granted Japanese nationality or who have received permission
for permanent residency, any such periods occurring between
Q29 Who is entitled to ekarakikanf?
Japanese persons who hold Japanese nationality who have resided in a foreign country since April 1961 while between the ages of 20 and 59 years are eligible. Foreigners who have been granted Japanese nationality or who have received permission for permanent residency are also eligible.
Q30 Does ekarakikanf apply to all the National Pension (kokumin nenkin), Employeesf Pension (kosei nenkin) and Mutual Aid (kyosai kumiai) pension schemes?
eKarakikanf applies to the National Pension, Employeesf Pension Insurance and Mutual Aid Association pensions.
Q31 What documents do permanent residents need to claim ekarakikanf?
residents who have spent time abroad should show originals of old passports to
Japanese Social Insurance Officials and prove the first date of entry to
Q32: Where can I get a copy of the ekarakikanf rules?
' Karakikanf rules can be obtained at the Social Insurance Agency. Unfortunately, only Japanese is available.
F: Non-permanent foreign residents on working visas
Q33: What happens if foreign nationals on visas work for less than 25 years?
nationals on visas (work visas, spouse visas, religious visas, student visas,
culture visas etc.) who have paid into these plans for 24 years or less can get
the Lump Sum Withdrawal benefit for both the National Pension and the Employees
Pension Insurance after they leave
Q34: Why are they not entitled to ekarakikanf?
they are expected to leave
Q35: Can foreigners lose up to 22 years old age pension contributions?
However, their contribution records are recorded on the database of the Social
Insurance Agency. If
Might this leave them completely without a pension (if they do not qualify in
their home country either because they have been working in
Yes. Basically, if a foreign national has not fulfilled the 25-year eligibility requirement, they will not be able to receive pension benefits. In order to avoid such cases, the Japanese government is accelerating the negotiation of social security agreements with other countries. (Yet, in most European countries, public pension plans require less than 10 years of insurance period.)
Q37: Is there no legal protection against this?
Q38: What happens to the contributions they have made over the years?
The money is used to pay the pensions benefits of the people remaining in the Japanese system. The lump-sum withdrawal payment system is available for foreign nationals in the event that provisionally paid contributions are not linked to pension benefits.
Q39: Why is enrolment in the pension scheme obligatory for foreign nationals on visas?
Old age pension contributions are obligatory because the pension is not actually attached to them. They are not paying for themselves. They are paying for the generation before them. The Japanese public pension system, which consists of the National Pension, Employeesf Pension Insurance and Mutual Aid Associations, was conceived in order that successive generations could help each other and is formulated in that spirit. "Transith foreigners are required to contribute towards the pension benefits of older Japanese nationals. The pension system does not only provide old-age benefits but also disability and survivorfs benefits. Foreigners therefore do get some social security cover from the disability basic pension and the survivorfs basic pension.
Can foreign nationals on visas (who will probably not work in
No. Under National Pension law, enrolment in the pension system is obligatory. However, category 1 insured persons who will not be able to meet the 25 years of insurance period may opt out with the permission of the Commissioner/Director General of the Social Insurance Agency. Under Employeesf Pension Insurance law, enrolment in the pension system is obligatory, and category 2 insured person cannot opt out even if they cannot meet the conditions to receive pension benefit in the future. Category 2 insured persons are not able to discontinue their insurance liability as long as they are receiving a salary from a company that is covered by Employeesf Pension Insurance.
G: Permanent Residency
Q41 What exactly is permanent residency?
residency is a formal status conferred by the Japanese government to foreign
citizens who desire to remain in
Q42 What are the benefits of being a permanent resident?
residents are entitled to ekarakikanf when they apply for pension benefits. It
is very helpful in obtaining credit in
Q43 Do permanent residents literally have to reside permanently/for a certain number of days per year?
You donft even have to live in
Q44 What are the implications back home?
Permanent residency has no effect on citizenship. If your country allows, you can vote absentee. You must also keep a valid passport of your home country.