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Cool Japan? With new resident system for foreigners, 'Cold Japan' fits better

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"I am very happy that the immigration system is being revised. Foreign residents struggle with being viewed as 'others,' so even doing away with the Alien Registration Cards is a positive step, and is warmly welcomed by us." --- Cage Morgan

A young Caucasian foreigner, holding up a sketchpad bearing the above words, appears on the front page of Shukan Kinyobi (July 13). The magazine's cover story, titled "Cold Japan," appears to be the first article to appear in a vernacular news magazine since the new law affecting foreign residents commenced from July 9.

With the exception of former colonials who hold the status of "special permanent residents," about 1.7 million non-Japanese will come under the status of a variety of categories, including permanent resident, resident, spouse of Japanese and then the rest, including businessmen, company transferees, students, researchers, technicians, entertainers and so on. These people will eventually be issued a resident's card containing an IC chip giving such data as name and date of birth, nationality, residence, status of residence and others. The main difference with the special permanent residents is that their cards will contain an indication as to whether or not they are permitted to work.

Assuming that the conditions on the card are subject to strict enforcement with penalties for violators, the law represents a major change. And that, says writer Masumi Sakou, raises concerns by foreigners that their legal position in the country is "extremely unstable." Moreover, the new situation gives immigration wider-ranging powers among the ministries and agencies, with the problem being that standards for the legal system "non-transparent to the extreme."

As one example, a foreigner married to a Japanese had normally been given the status of "spouse of a Japanese." This will not entitle such a person to permanent status automatically, but rather one of four categories with the length of stay ranging from six months to five years -- to be determined by immigration. When the date of expiration approaches, the spouse must apply for an extension, but there is no guarantee it will be granted. Little leeway is available when judging cases for couples which, perhaps due to the Japanese partner's job assignment for example, would necessitate the couple's temporarily living apart.

Another worrisome development is the penalty for violations by residents, which can be as high as up to one year of imprisonment and a fine of up to 200,000 yen, with the further possibility of deportation. Here lies the real difference in the so-called residence system between Japanese and foreigners. Sakou herself, two years ago, changed her address but failed to report the new one to the city office within 14 days of her moving -- as required by Article 23 of the residency law. She showed up to register one week late, and was told by the official at the counter that she might be contacted by the court.

Not long afterward, the local branch of the small-claims court sent her a form, asking why she was remiss in notifying the office of her new address (Violators are subject to a fine of up to 50,000 yen.) Sakou replied that she was aware of the law but had no excuse for her tardiness, but never heard back from the paper-pushers.

But had a foreign resident done the same thing, they would have thrown the book at him. A similar violation by a Japanese is treated by a misdemeanor akin to litterbugging, and barely worthy of a bland grumble sent through the mail.

Paradoxically, it is more difficult to obtain permanent residence in Japan than it is to obtain Japanese citizenship, which in Sakou's view is an indication that nothing here has really changed: "People with foreign nationalities who want to live in Japan for extended periods are not welcome."

So, she writes, the revised laws then embody powers that make it simpler "to destroy a foreign person's life." But in the end hardly surprising since, by blocking any means of participation by foreigners in the political discourse such a law solely reflects the thinking of Japanese.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

87 Comments
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Hmm, trying get folks worked up over nothing. Is it really more difficult to obtain permanent residence than Japanese citizenship? I have permanent residence and it didn't seem hard once I gathered all the paperwork. I've met some foreigners who have obtained citizenship, it sounded like a fairly involved process. I don't have a problem with there being differences in laws for foreigners and Japanese citizens, every country in the world is much the same. I do wish I could vote in local elections so that I had a say in how my juminzei is spent but at least I can influence my wife's vote.

16 ( +15 / -3 )

But had a foreign resident done the same thing, they would have thrown the book at him.

Proof please. I know more than a few who have been late with things and have had to write a letter of apology and that's it.

Immigration here is a headache as it is, no need to make it sound dramatic and like they're all out to get us. Follow the rules and chance of problems are slim. Common sense when dealing with immigration in any country.

15 ( +17 / -3 )

I almost c$%&pped my pants when I realized I'd completely forgotten to let the city hall know I updated my passport and the changed passport number. They explained it politely to me and simply did the late paperwork quietly then and there while updating my res card as well. This Japan I'd like to remember.

Japanese won't have any trouble spending extended periods in other countries without changing their nationalities. The political intolerance is Japan only, and luckily not all that often reflected in everyday life. Enough to be noticed, though.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Not long afterward, the local branch of the small-claims court sent her a form, asking why she was remiss in notifying the office of her new address(Violators are subject to a fine of up 50 50,000 yen.) Sakou replied that she was aware of the law but had no excuse for her tardiness, but never heard back from the paper-pushers. But had a foreign resident done the same thing, they would have thrown the book at him. A similar violation by a Japanese is treated by a misdemeanor akin to litterbugging, and barely worthy of a bland grumble sent through the mail.

Where's your proof of that?

In fact, I can prove you wrong. When I moved house 5 years ago, I didn't get my gaijin card updated within 14 days until a year and a half later. It wasn't even brought up when I went to the city hall to finally get it updated. At that time it was still a requirement, like it is now with the residence card system.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Ah, my bad!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"Skim read and miss the point": Achievement unlocked!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Oooh, my favorite kind of article...the paranoid "Japan is out to get us foreigners" expose! It seems that the person that wrote this has maybe seen one bad incedent and is trying to blow it out of perportion.

Many people are late on reporting things but usually it's not a huge issue. I never reported my change of employment and was never fined for it (I tried twice but didn't have some sort of docment so it couldn't be changed). Also, I have a spousal visa and although it was a lot of paperwork, I was able to have it renewed very easily within a week of applying. They tend to be a lot more strict on the spousal visa applications that are seen as sham marriages. If you have to lve apart from your spouse because of work, there are still ways to show that you are still married.

I think the new system is a bit better for those of us who want to work and live here permanently. Those of us who pay taxes, pay our bills (include health insurance and pension) and see a future here will be treated well, from what I understand. However, those people who are here illegally will have to face up to immigration and hopefully get their stuff sorted out to either live here legally or be required to leave Japan. I think that this is fair and the 3 year grace period will hopefully allow for those people to get the assistance they need to become visa holders.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Also, my city office found out I'd moved into their area about 4 months after the fact. No problems at all.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

But had a foreign resident done the same thing, they would have thrown the book at him.

Proof please. I know more than a few who have been late with things and have had to write a letter of apology and that's it.

In thirty-plus years, I've been tardy/remiss more times than I care to remember. I never got no books thrown at me, and I never had to write any letters of apology.

The writer of this article is suffering from victim syndrome. The system is not out to get the foreigners.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Shukan Kinyobi is very left-wing and opposes practically everything the government does. Still, I don't see how the writer, who is Japanese, can be suffering from victim syndrome.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Pointless fear-mongering.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Actually it's too soon to say. The Ministry of Justice, which took away control of foreigner registration from the cities and towns, may chose to enforce the new laws considerably more strictly than has been done in the past, or maybe not. The fact is at this point we still don't know.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Sorry if people have touched on this before, but I'm curious as I haven't seen anything about it. Is it true you will need to provide proof that you are paying into the national health care and pension systems? Until now, based on the fact that you could leave at any point and wouldn't be refunded, you could opt out. Is that still the case? The rumour was that the new system would require proof of payment as a condition for renewal, but not sure if it was a rumour or not.

Thanks, and apologies if it's been touched on already.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This author sounds like one jaded pessimist!! Never had any of these problems! My wife is Japanese and if immigration here ever even tried to give me a hard time, hahaha!! They would have have to face the fury of a very very pissed off Japanese wife!!! The J immigration know who not mess with, laws or no laws. IMHO

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Virtuoso, what's the problem with them enforcing laws and rules already in place?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

When the date of expiration approaches, the spouse must apply for an extension, but there is no guarantee it will be granted.

And since when has any visa extension paperwork specifically stated that you will definitely get the extension? It hasn't. Fee fi fo fum I smell a gaijin who's a pain in the bum....

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I would like to humbly point out that because of so much discretion to enforce these laws, the immigration or city hall, etc.. can easily harass certain types of foreigners (i.e., non-white), while letting preferred phenotypes get away with breaking the rules.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Virtuoso, what's the problem with them enforcing laws and rules already in place?

tmarie@The writer of the article used the word "non-transparent" and I do agree that there is something quite arbitrary about how how things were run prior to July 9. Non-transparency can be a problem, if, for example, foreign residents who have become accustomed to rather lax enforcement suddenly find themselves confronting the prospect of fines, imprisonment and even deportation. I myself have never had any trouble, mainly because the laws in place have been reasonably sensible and I had no difficulty in complying with them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

the immigration or city hall, etc.. can easily harass certain types of foreigners (i.e., non-white), while letting preferred phenotypes get away with breaking the rules.

How are they being harassed for being punished for breaking rules set in place?

Virtuoso, those that assume things will be lax - before or now - are rather foolish. You don't mess with immigration. Period. Indeed people make mistakes and forget but you're at their mercy as rules are punishments are in place. We can't complain about them if we are the ones to mess up. They can enforce as they like and well, we're at the mercy of it all. Part of being an immigrant/visa holder. Japan is pretty sweet compared to many other countries when it comes to immigration - never in my life would I have thought I would be "defending" J immigration! ;)

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

i never had any issues with immigration, they are alwyas willing to help IMO

4 ( +4 / -0 )

“I am very happy that the immigration system is being revised. Foreign residents struggle with being viewed as ‘others,’ so even doing away with the Alien Registration Cards is a positive stem, and is warmly welcomed by us.”—- Cage Morgan

An alien registration card under a different name is still an alien registration card... what on earth is that guy talking about?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Pointless fear-mongering.

That's generally the business model of most media companies. Anyhow, time will tell whether or not these new laws are really all that bad, or do anything except change the paperwork around.

Remember, these rules need to be enforced by the workers in the government offices. They aren't known for being the most proactive go-getters of any society.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I usually associate any publication ending in 'Shukan' with fear and loathing of anything 'gaikoku', but I stand corrected.

In my own humble experience, I overran the local ward office registration deadline by 3 months when I moved to Yokohama, but was only given a 'don't do it again' glance. A few years earlier, I neglected to register my new employer on my gaijin card for over a year, but only had to write my reasons for the delay on a small form (-the ward office employee advised me to say that my job had kept me busy, rather than that I'd forgotten).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I really don't see what the difference is at all, save for the elimination of the re-entry permit (though I've no doubt the registration card will require a certain fee), and of course the bio-chip. Still, as long as you correctly cross your 't's and dot your 'i's the system is pretty smooth and hassle free. A LOT of red-tape, but you can cut through it without too much trouble.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Indeed. Same card, different name - no with a bonus chip added! Yiiiiipppppe!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I want to know more about these pesky and expensive RE ENTRY visas! Do will still need to buy them before leaving Japan on trips overseas even though, in my case I have a permanent resident visa??

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

smithinjapan: I am also curious if they will be inforcing the health insurance and pension plan rule. I heard rumors about it but nothing has been set in stone I think. If they do such a thing, I hope that they will allow people to register without any backpayments because that is the reason why some people don't want to register now. I was lucky that my town waved my backpayments but I have heard of others having to pay a year or 2 worth.

As for the new system, there are perks...especially if you are married. Now, I can be on my husbands family register instead of on my own random one. Men can be the head of their family registry now, too. This can make a big difference to some people. For me, it just means one less document needed when I go to immigration since I won't need both my husbands family registry and my own.

Elbuda: I don't think we need re entry visas now if you will be coming back into the country in less than a year of your departure and have a valid visa for that time. :D

2 ( +2 / -0 )

sakurala: When I last went to renew my visa I was asked to show them proof of health insurance payments, but I'm not sure if it had become a rule or not (I am paying into the health insurance, but not pension as I don't plan on staying permanently). If it IS the new rule and they require you to pay back taxes you can kiss a LOT of ex-pats goodbye -- no way I'm paying millions into a pension program that's already screwed up, never mind I'd not see a penny of it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

sakurala: One more question: You mentioned the spousal perk, but does that apply if both spouses in Japan are foreigners?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Smith: I renewed my visa a month ago and wasn't aked for proof of payment. Maybe it depends on the day or the color of your shoes... :P Hopefully though, they will clarify it soon and, like I mentioned before, give a grace period for those who haven't been in the system. I think you can also ask to be exempt from the pension plan, but don't know if it would continue.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Until now, based on the fact that you could leave at any point and wouldn't be refunded, you could opt out. Is that still the case?

There are no "opt out" circumstances. Everyone who is eligible is supposed to pay into the income tax and national insurance system. Immigration has always been empowered to ask each visa seeker for proof of payment where applicable, but I guess we`ll just have to wait and see whether or not they start demanding proof of payment when applying for the new resident cards.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well after spending over five hours at immigration on Tuesday trying to get my new visa and residency card, I really can't see how this is going to make things easier or better. You no longer need to purchase a reentry visa but they don't even stamp your passport anymore. Your visa is the new card. Not only that, after waiting all that time and finally getting the card in hand I was told by the clerk that they don't do address registration and that I need to go to my ward office to do so. So now I have to head over to my local kuyakusho just to get them to write my address on the back of my new "state of the art" residency card with a black marker. Now that's progress. If next year they start forcing us to pay into the pension/health plan I'll be bidding this country adieu.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I renewed my visa a month ago and wasn't aked for proof of payment

Do you work for a registered (limited) company? It could be that immigration will assume that those employed by such a company will have tax and national insurance deducted at source. Those who have their own company or work for a dispatch company might be more liable to be asked for proof of payment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I renewed last week at city hall, and realised I hadn't updated my details (I got a new passport and passport number last year.) The city hall folk said 'no problems' I filled in an extra form to update the number, and that was that. My new residenst card will be here in a few weeks. I am notoriously remiss when it comes to paperwork and deadlines, and in 20 years have never had a problem over the alien card or visas. 'Kuchikomi' should be re-titled 'URBAN MYTHS'.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I work for an ALT dispatch company that doesn't usually allow their workers to enter the shakaihoken system. However, I have a spousal visa, so maybe that is why I wasn't asked...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The article here seems like it was written with very little research into the matter.

about 1.7 million non-Japanese will come under the status of a variety of categories, including permanent resident, >resident, spouse of Japanese

The article says "will come" making sound like it's a completely new thing thats happening which is far from the case. There's nothing new about status of residency in Japan other than certain statuses have longer times attached to them.

This article fails to mention anything about not needing to get re-entry permit for trips under one year. This article also fails to mention anything about Japanese and foreigners now being in the same residency system. The article talks about spouse status but fails to mention that now foreigners and Japanese can be in ONE unified system, compared to the old system where we were kept separate in registration.

If next year they start forcing us to pay into the pension/health plan I'll be bidding this country adieu. Hate to bust your bubble, but paying into a pension plan either National pension or company pension HAS ALWAYS been the law. It's the law on the books RIGHT NOW and has been for a long time. It doesn't matter if you are a foreigner or not.

So if you haven't been paying into the national pension plan or your employees plan, you are not follow the current established laws.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I work for an ALT dispatch company that doesn't usually allow their workers to enter the shakaihoken system.

It's not that they "don't allow" workers to enter the system, it means those companies do not have make any contributions for you. Usually a company has to pay 50% of an employee`s social security payments. If you work for one of those (what I believe to be rip-off) dispatch companies, you are supposed to make your own payments into the system and file your own tax return because you are treated as "self-employed". However, as you say, you will be covered on your spouse's national insurance if he/she pays into the system (and have to declare your income on his/her tax returns).

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why would you think that's the case for a clearly white dude to be left alone and not be asked for their alien card after seeing a Japanese DL?

Hello, clearly white dude. Maybe the answer is because you can't get a Japanese driving licence without showing your alien card? If you have one, you must have the other?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I am a permanent resident and yesterday I went to the local immigration office to get the new resident card. I arrived there at 13:15 after the lunch break and took a number: 141. Approximately 35 persons before me.

At 14:55 it was my turn to hand over the application. I had filled out everything correctly. However, this was on immigration office form version #2. Now they wanted me to use version #3. Same contents, just a little bit re-arranged and maybe a different font. So I had to fill out the new form and was able to hand it over after only a short wait to the person in charge. He accepted and then said, it will probably take another 2 hours.

OK, I thought, it is 15:00, let's wait for it. At 16:00 the immigration office closed the reception, and still I, and more than 30 other persons were waiting. Finally I received the new resident card at 17:35. So the procedure took almost four and a half hours, counted from the beginning. I had to take a half day off for this.

Compared to the situation before, the procedures at the local city hall usually didn't take much more than 10 or 15 minutes, so going there during lunch break was a nice option.

With the system as it is now, no way.

Still, this experience allows me to answers some questions, which appeared on this thread so far.

-there were no questions asked about health insurance or current employment

-the only documents required in my case were: valid Passport with Visa stamps, a recent photograph of correct size, the former Alien registration card, and the application form

I hope this helps others.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Billyshears: I am sorry to tell you but I think you are misinformed. The company I work for has me registered on the shakaihoken system...the one that regular Japanese employees are on. My company pays half and I pay half and they file my tax returns. I have a blue shakaihoken book that I should be able to use to check my past payments. However, some people do not (cannot) go this route and pay for health insurance and pension out of their own pocket outside of the company.

Also, I am not able to go under my husbands insurance because I make over a certain amount each year. If I was making something less than 1.3mill yen (I think that's the cut off) then I would be able to go under his insurance.

No matter what though, if they do toughen up laws on visa holders and health and pension plans, it might be tough for some people to put forth the payments expected. BUT we do not know if that is or is not the law at this point.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They are out to get us all.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Electric2004, if you went to immigration simply to exchange your ARC (which you didn't really need to until the year 2015), then those questions probably won't be asked, especially questions about jobs if you are a PR.

Questioning on forms of course is different when one is applying for a status extension (something PR folks don't need to worry about).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I went to the local gov't office yesterday to get an official copy of my gaijin card (gaikokujin torokushou shoumeishou) and I couldn't find the normal form which was always there. The woman asked "Are you looking for 'jyuminhyou ?" Turns out we auslanders don't need to worry about a special form for foreigners anymore and can apply for a jyuminhyou paper just like the locals do. I was dumbfounded and considered that a real step forward here. At least I did until I saw the form and it doesn't pander to the non-fluent: if you can't read your basic 2200 kanji then good luck with it. Be careful what you wish for !

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Can you guys please stop using the word "foreigners"? It's offensive.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

The new resident system has unified Japanese and foreigners into one unified resident registration system. Family registries can have foreigners and Japanese on the same one registry, and the foreigner can now be the head of the household. By next year, you can also get a Juki card if you want.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I once had new passport, visa extension, change of address etc. not updated on my ARC. I went to the ward office and they happily updated it - no apology letter, nothing.

I hear the fines are more severe for not updating in a timely manner in the new system.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

beats the hell out of the way the US handles immigrants. I mean, we ARE foreign residents and should be kept track of. wish my country would do the same.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

if you can't read your basic 2200 kanji then good luck with it

why are you here then? are the forms in Japanese in your home country?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

By next year, you can also get a Juki card if you want

Er...I'll give that a miss.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

billyshears: "There are no "opt out" circumstances. Everyone who is eligible is supposed to pay into the income tax and national insurance system."

In my first few years I was automatically entered into the system and paid all that Japanese must pay, plus additional health insurance to cover the then 20% that you would have to pay after the Kokumin Kenkou Hoken. However, when I changed jobs I was ENCOURAGED to enter both plans again but it was not mandatory. Since I was unsure how long I would be staying, and was told I would not see any refunds if I left (save for the first three year period for nenking), I opted out. Why would I pay into a pension system for umpteen years when I would never see a dime of it later? It makes sense for J-nationals, but not for people who are anything but permanent or special residents, unless they know they are lifers and can collect a pension later. I opted back into the health care system upon getting married for the sake of my wife and in case we had a kid, and was told that I would have to pay back payments of nearly 4,000,000 for the years I didn't pay, with the loophole being if I moved to another city THAT City Hall would take charge and I would start again from zero, which is what I did.

We are planning on leaving the country within the next few years, so I don't want to start paying pension now, nor the back-taxes, for the aforementioned reason, nor should I be expected to unless they promise a full refund upon leaving (which they won't). I'm even thinking of dropping the health care plan again as I have 100% coverage from a third-party, international company. BUT, I do believe I will renew my visa one last time before going due to contract obligations.

Most of the other conditions I have no problem with at all, but I'm not about to fork out a fortune that I don't have in back-taxes to support a failing system, and given the way things are already going with the aging population and the current nenking problems, I wouldn't doubt that it becomes a very clearly stated obligation for renewal beyond one year.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Can you guys please stop using the word "foreigners"? It's offensive.

Would you prefer "Those person not fortunates enough to have been borned in utmost gloriously nation of Japan" instead?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@ Badge213 - Thanks for the info. I am self employed, single, have private health insurance and am not a permanent resident. I also have a tax accountant that processes all of my returns and files my receipts every year, I pay my taxes, and am requested to bring my tax returns and proof of payments to immigration every time I renew my visa. I haven't once been asked about my contributions to the National Pension plan. So either it is already being taken out of my income when I pay my taxes, or I've slipped through a huge loophole, or I should be expecting someone from the government knocking at my door any minute.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I once had new passport, visa extension, change of address etc. not updated on my ARC. I went to the ward office and >they happily updated it - no apology letter, nothing. I hear the fines are more severe for not updating in a timely manner in the new system.

Under the old ARC system when you updated your immigration items at the immigration office, you also then had to then go to the local city office to update your ARC information.

Under the new system, immigration automatically informs the city office etc of your changes to your immigration status so there's no need for one to go to two offices.

Anything that has to do with immigration status (extending your status, changing your status, visa items etc) is handled at the immigration office.

Anything that has to do with residential status (health insurance, pension, address changes) is handled at the local city office.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Livvie

Legally speaking if you are not enrolled into an employee pension plan you must be enrolled into the national pension plan, which is roughly 15,000 yen a month.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Adding to what Badge213 said.

The same counts for a Medical-plan. Provide your own or go on the government one, all are a 70-30 split but coverage and payments differ.

Government medical only covers essential procedures to keep you healthy, so forget getting porcelain fillings, etc.

In short by law you need to be covered.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

People complaining about Japan's immigration laws and practices are a bit like people complaining about Apple products being so popular. Nobody is forced to to buy Apple products, and nobody is forced to live in Japan. I am in no way defending the anti-productive and anti-modern mentality towards immigration the Japanese seem to never get over with, quite the contrary - I think Japan is throwing away its only chance to keep up with China and South Korea by making immigration even more unstable and non-transparent. But people should just leave Japan to its own, instead of moaning and bitching about it. It's sad to watch this car wreck itself very slowly, but if that's Japan's choice, there is very little outsiders can - or should - do about it.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

There is absolutely nothing to complain about here and I have lived in both Japan (for over 10 years) and the UK (where I am from). Try getting your Japanese spouse into the UK and see what I mean. I never, ever had a problem getting a spouse visa to live in Japan. Yet the UK won't allow your spouse in unless you earn a certain amount, if they pass a TOEIC test, and you pay the ridiculously expensive visa fees. There is also nothing to complain about having to pay Japanese health insurance. At least they have a health system in Japan. It may be expensive but you get good treatment, free health checks from age 40 and the hospitals function. Have you seen what the health system is like in the UK? it's a disgrace. I used to think that the Japanese were against non-Japanese living here but boy was I wrong when I returned to the UK. If you have a Japanese spouse then you will have no problems being allowed to live in Japan. My country (the UK) however, is a disgrace to it's so-called history of multi-culturism and democracy.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

And since when has any visa extension paperwork specifically stated that you will definitely get the extension? It hasn't. Fee fi fo fum I smell a gaijin who's a pain in the bum....

@ Sophie Shimizu - you do realise that the writer of this Kuchikomi commentary is Japanese, don't you? You may have to correct it to "another Japanese who is a pain in the bum..."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

As one example, a foreigner married to a Japanese had normally been given the status of “spouse of a Japanese.” This will not entitle such a person to permanent status automatically, but rather one of four categories with the length of stay ranging from six months to five years—to be determined by immigration. When the date of expiration approaches, the spouse must apply for an extension, but there is no guarantee it will be granted. Little leeway is available when judging cases for couples which, perhaps due to the Japanese partner’s job assignment for example, would necessitate the couple’s temporarily living apart.

Exactly as it was before except the maximum possible stay length has been extended.

No surprise its a big deal to have the correct address as otherwise you could skip your legal status and location like many many Chinese.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I have heard that the new system has been made to give immigration, and not the local ward office, more teeth. They are not out to get the typical foreigner. Instead immigration is trying to focus on those who abuse the system. Controlling it gives them more information and ability to do so.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Cold Japan? only in winter time! I have lived here for several years now and I have had no problems with anything regarding my status. Once I did forget to register my new address, for 4 months, and they were pissed, since braking the rule sin Japan is not ok, BUT they just asked me to write a letter of apology and that was that! DONE!!!! I have a 5 year visa now and there is never any problems! Yes this is a scare article that has no root in reality! Get a grip and report correct info!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

why are you here then? are the forms in Japanese in your home country?

FYI they're not in Japanese where I'm from, because there isn't enough demand for it, but they are in numerous other languages like Portuguese, Hindi, etc because those ones are in demand, so actually I don't think it would be too hard to expect them to provide forms in the most widely spoken language in the world.

3 ( +3 / -1 )

I've never ever had any problems with the immigration system here, they were always polite and helpful. once I overstayed my visa for one day (I haven't realized it expired), but they just asked me to fill in a form explaining that I forgot about it, and they gave me another 3 years visa.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Was round the immigration office yesterday and found them exceptionally warm and friendly.

Thirty-three years ago I had the book thrown at me for a missed deadline and it was quite an unpleasant experience.

On the way out of the office yesterday I was overtaken by a lurking reporter, "XYZ Shimbun" he said. "Did you get your new card? How long did you have to wait? How was it in there?" he asked me.

"Why do you ask?" I asked him in return.

"There have been some problems with the new system" he answered.

"No, no problems here. I saved 6,000 yen not having to buy the stamp for the multiple reentry permit, and they only kept me waiting 20 minutes while they produced the new card..." I replied. He seemed to lose interest and sloped off.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

timeon

That was pretty lucky wasn't it?! I thought they would be/were very strict about that. A friend of mine overstayed by a few days because he thought his visa was the same as his gaijin card expiry, and he had to attend a couple of hearings in Tokyo to explain why he'd overstayed, and say sorry to immigration, but then a jolly old man came in the room and said "You've all been naughty boys haven't you?! Hahaha!" to everyone, and gave them all new visas, so it ended up the same...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

well, I've also thought it should be pretty bad, but they were really nice about it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Billyshears: I am sorry to tell you but I think you are misinformed. The company I work for has me registered on the shakaihoken system...the one that regular Japanese employees are on. My company pays half and I pay half and they file my tax returns.

@sakurala: Then you yourself are not a dispatch worker, but are actually employed by that dispatch company?

However, some people do not (cannot) go this route and pay for health insurance and pension out of their own pocket outside of the company.

Those would be the actual workers who are dispatched to other companies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Can you guys please stop using the word "foreigners"? It's offensive.

Which way are "foreigners" called in your home country?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Billyshears: I know it is hard to imagine but I am a dispatch worker at a dispatch company and am on shakaihoken. It is rare...I know. But I talked to my company about wanting to be on shakaihoken since I'm married an want to stay in Japan long-term. There was some struggle but I got what I wanted. The thing is that a lot of people don't want to go on shakaihoken because it's so expensive and they don't want to pay it. It can be done though with a little preserverence. For some people though it's just easier to get the health insurance kenkohoken because they don't want to go through the hassel.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's a small step forward for Japan. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Justice is one of the most conservative, closed-minded institutions in Japanese society that still operates with ideologies of ethnic homogeneity, cultural purity, and a nation-state based on the principle of blood and descent. Justice Ministry officials are not democratically elected, publicly accountable, and responsive to public pressure. In fact, the Justice Ministry is less responsive to political pressures of more liberal immigration policies from Japanese employers and foreign countries.

The most likely policy change in the near future is a further expansion of the existing "trainee program" in terms of the numbers admitted, length of stay, and job categories. This will be more politically acceptable than a proposal that radically change the immigration system by granting visas and openly admitting massive numbers of skill and unskilled foreign workers. Eventually, Japan will have to confront the inevitable permanent settlement of immigrants in Japanese society. The refusal of the ruling political party to compromise on this issue is a bad sign for the future.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I had permanent resident status in Japan some years ago.... but it turns out that "permanent" doesn't actually mean that. In most countries PR status entitles one to stop needing re-entry visas... not the case here in japan (far too logical.....).

When we return I don't know If I'll even both trying to get PR the taxes alone make it more of a cost than a benefit.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

FYI they're not in Japanese where I'm from, because there isn't enough demand for it, but they are in numerous other languages like Portuguese, Hindi,

No Japanese but they have Hindi? Where are you from, Nepal? Detroit? :) Look if you come to Japan you should be prepared to fill the forms out in Japanese. I do not think that is asking too much. The workers for the city are not required to read tour language to let you in. Sorry.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I think most of us who have been here long enough realize how STUBBORNLY xenophobic the Ministry of Justice and most lawmakers in this country are. It wouldn't matter if the entire United Nations were at their doorstep giving them the ultimatum of "change or else", most of them would cut off their own genitalia and eat it while bathing in iodine before admitting foreign races are equal to Japanese......

However, I think this article touched on a deeper reason behind stubborn xenophobic immigration policies, and that is that the government in no shape or form, wants foreign influence in politics. One of the reasons they monitor all foreign activity in the country so closely. They have been operating on their own materialistic conservative agendas that haven't changed for many, many years, that protect the rich and put no priority on any sort of social welfare system or human rights issues that would give any kind of power to the working class or social minorities. They fear all that would change if any foreign humanistic ideals would be introduced into the system.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

So, she writes, the revised laws then embody powers that make it simpler “to destroy a foreign person’s life.” But in the end hardly surprising since, by blocking any means of participation by foreigners in the political discourse such a law solely reflects the thinking of Japanese.

Oh, great. Now my hopes to settle there is impossible, as in the jurisdiction that i live on is always infested with first-degree homicides for the battle of political parties mainly for the territorial control by means of corruption, where such murders are at 121.08 for every 150 people, much more in the capital city.

Now the next thing the National government is trying to do is to boot 'em off after 90 days with no permission for an extension by any means neccesary. And also, seal off their borders from foreigners, in which a restart of a self-reliance policy can crumble not just the economy permanently, but the country itself where it might end as the Soviet Union died by the end of 1991, where each region, or prefecture, is a country of its own

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No Japanese but they have Hindi? Where are you from, Nepal? Detroit?

@ Debucho - I may be wrong, but I assume the poster may be referring to London or Birmingham - significant parts of which have Hindi or Bengali as the primary language. Same deal in my joint Aus - most official forms including Censusetc are issued in the major languages used in Australia like Cantonese, Mandarin and Vietnamese etc. Getting first generation immigrants to fill out official forms in their non-native language is more trouble than it's worth in many cases, and would require enormous amounts of checking, correction and re-submitting..

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think this article touched on a deeper reason behind stubborn xenophobic immigration policies, and that is that the government in no shape or form, wants foreign influence in politics.

@thomas proskow: Just out of curiosity, could you please tell which countries do not have strict immigration policies and allow foreigners to influence their politics?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I lost or misplaced my ARC over 10 times since Ive been here and they just sort of laughed at me .What happens now if you lose the new card loads of times.......

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@thomas proskow: Just out of curiosity, could you please tell which countries do not have strict immigration policies and allow foreigners to influence their politics?

Well, America has an Austrian as the governor of California for one.......

1 ( +2 / -1 )

BurakuminDes, thank you, yes I was referring to a place near London, and as I said not just those languages but countless others too, especially Polish!

Debucho, if I was from Nepal they wouldn't need extra paperwork in Hindi.. Where are you from? A remote farmstead in Idaho? I am curious as to where you could be from that would not have a mix of origins nowadays. It all comes down to practicalities at the end of the day anyway. Things are in Japanese because most people speak Japanese. Things are in Polish, Hindi, Portuguese etc in the UK because there are lots of people who speak those languages, it's common sense. If there's enough demand for things to be in English here that it would make things easier, then they should be in English. Simple.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, America has an Austrian as the governor of California for one.......

Not until he became an American citizen. If you become a Japanese citizen, you can be a politician. There are already some who have.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

.

What happens now if you lose the new card loads of times.......

It's not a crime to lose it. You just have to apply for a new one as soon as you realize you've lost it. Which should be the next time you leave your home as you are supposed to carry it with you at all times when you are out.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

">a foreigner married to a Japanese had normally been given the status of “spouse of a Japanese.” This will not entitle such a person to permanent status automatically, but rather one of four categories with the length of stay ranging from six months to five years—to be determined by immigration. When the date of expiration approaches, the spouse must apply for an extension,"

We had planned to apply for my permanent residence status this year. Am I reading this wrong, but because of the new law - it will be harder to get? Or is this saying all those with PR status will have to renew every 5 years? At the moment I have spouce of a J. National...

Speaking of which... Im scared now... Reading this reminded me that I renewed my passport and status last year and still have not gone to City Hall about it as of yet. I wonder how much trouble I may be in for?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We had planned to apply for my permanent residence status this year. Am I reading this wrong, but because of the new law - it will be harder to get? Or is this saying all those with PR status will have to renew every 5 years? At the moment I have spouce of a J. National...

Yes you're probably reading it wrong. What suggests that PR would be harder to get?

Anyway, you would not have to renew it once you've got it. There are ways you can lose it, most obviously by not being resident in Japan for a prolonged period, but other than that, it is what is says: permanent.

Speaking of which... Im scared now... Reading this reminded me that I renewed my passport and status last year and still have not gone to City Hall about it as of yet. I wonder how much trouble I may be in for?

That's probably going to depend on the City Hall, and which particular people you end up talking to about it. It probably won't be a huge deal, but I only say that as someone with no stake in the matter.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

What are the ways for foreign gay men to get PR in Japan? A permanent job? A fake 'wife' (surely that must be really old hat)...My Japanese partner here in Australia has PR because the Australian Government acknowledges same-sex de facto relationships. He has basically the same rights as a citizen but since he's not a citizen he cannot vote or work for the public service (I am lead to believe). When will any Japanese government grant same sex couples similar rights?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sexual orientation has no bearing on a PR application.

A foreigner living in Japan on a spouse visa can, after just a few years' residence, apply for PR. This is a faster process than for an unmarried foreigner living in Japan, and fewer conditions apply.

A spouse visa would only be issued to a foreigner married to a Japanese national. So unless you marry a Japanese woman, you will not get PR that way.

You are in the "everyone else" category. Broadly speaking, everyone else normally has to fulfill a much longer period of residence before applications are accepted, and PR is still not automatically granted. In theory, gay people would be considered in the same light as straight people - it would neither help nor hinder your application.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

I wish the UK had a system like this

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Ok so now that I have PR why are companies refusing to sell me a life insurance policy?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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