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Changes to Immigration Guideline to be put on Hold

As you are aware, immigration guidelines are set to be changed next April so that you will have to show proof of enrollment in shakai hoken or kokumin kenko hoken when you apply to renew your visa. This is a huge issue for eikaiwa instructors as most are not enrolled in either health plan and are faced with the possibility of having to make hefty back payments upon enrollment.

This change might be on hold, though. According to Ronald Kessler, head of the Free Choice Foundation, which is campaigning for foreigners to be able to opt out of Japan's national health plans and buy their own private coverage, the revisions to the immigration guideline may be scrapped.

The Free Choice Foundation has just received word that an unpopular Immigration guideline is to be repealed.

The news was relayed via a phone call from the office of an Upper House lawmaker* immediately after he had spoken with the Justice Ministry regarding Immigration Guideline No. 8, the mandate that would have required visa applicants to present their social insurance ID cards at the application window. The lawmaker was informed that due to the large number of complaints registered - as well as the communiqué received from the Kobe City Assembly - the Ministry will be deleting (sakujo) Guideline No. 8 from the list of eight guidelines.

Kessler says that the Justice Ministry was overwhelmed by the resistance to the changes and decided to delete the guideline for the time being. No doubt a lot of instructors are going to be very relieved to hear this news.

(h/t ripslyme in the forums)


Wow. Canada-Jin is going to be one happy camper!

I'm taking this with a grain of salt.
I want to see some proof that it is on hold.
Not just the word of some joker with vested interests

I agree - we need to see concrete proof until we can all go out and celebrate. This - if true - could well save me 3 years of insurance and pension backpay! Once I see proof that the plan has been put on hold, I will go out with my Eikaiwa buddies and buy the finest Happoshu in the store and party just like we did when Saruhashi was arrested!

last week..but SOMEONE deleted my comment about how it was announced in the Kansai Flea Market!

so yes..i AM a happy until you need it!


Happoshu??! Oh come on, with that extra 3 years of insurance you'll get to keep, it's got to at least be worth a few cold bottles of Asahi.

You're right. It would be nice to see some more proof.


I blogged about this topic some time ago.

What Ron Kessler seems to be focused on "Item 8" of a new set of visa renewal guidelines. This is the one that directs the visa renewing officials to require proof of enrollment in Social Insurance.

The problem is that apparently Ron thinks that if Item 8 is knocked out, then everything is OK.

However, enrollment in Social Insurance is under the Labor and Health Ministry. And since the change in government, there is no indication how localities will continue to treat the insurance shirkers among the foreign community (much less how they will treat Japanese who aren't paying in.)

I scan the net regularly on this issue, and I see zero commentary by Labor and Health. Ron Kessler never says that he made contract with Labor and Health. Direct contact or indirect contact. Only that his source is connected to someone within the Justice Ministry.

If I am still in Japan when mine is at renewal time, I plan on showing the information anyway.

True, but what Kessler is saying in his latest update is that not having shakai hoken or kokumin kenko hoken is insufficient reason for denying a visa renewal application. That doesn't mean you won't have to enroll but Immigration will take into account other factors, such as whether you're currently employed, have a police record here, or have family. In other words, if you are gainfully employed and have kept out of trouble, not having public health insurance shouldn't be a factor in renewing your visa. At least I think that's the stage we're at now.


Shawn, the news was out there before Free Choice did anything that Guideline Eight would not be strictly enforced. "Strictly enforced" meaning that the J-Government would not deny anyone a visa simply because of non-enrollment. I think that came out sometime after the Japan Times article.

Now Ron's saying non-enrollment will not be a factor in the visa renewal. That's not the same as saying that so-called private insurance is legitimate.

The visas come out of the immigration bureau (Ministry of Justice). The requirement to be enrolled in Social Insurance is under the purview of the Labor and Health Ministry. Totally different bureaucracies.

What Ron isn't doing is contacting Labor and Health to get someone there to say that foreigners don't have to enroll in the health and pension. He's just trying to rile up enough people so that anyone who chooses not to follow the laws can justifiably make a stink about it, because of some fax or memo the saw on the internet.

So fine, people get a renewed visa. And then a bill from their locality for the health and pension. What victory?

I have been blogging quite a bit about this But few people have picked up on this critical point in the internet commentaries.

Now Ron's saying non-enrollment will not be a factor in the visa renewal. That's not the same as saying that so-called private insurance is legitimate.

Hoofin, you're right. It's not the same. You're also correct to point out that Guideline 8 doesn't replace the law as it stands, namely that you or your employer is still obligated to enroll in a national health plan. As you point out, a statement from the Health Ministry would probably do much to clarify this issue.


The final result will be the Immigration Bureau approving a renewal of your visa on condition that you enroll in social insurance (health & pension) right on the spot. They will make you fill out and submit the application forms right then and there before approving the visa renewal (and affixing a new visa stamp).

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