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Guideline 8 to be Deleted

Good news if you're worried about the possibility of your visa renewal being denied due to your lack of national health insurance coverage:

The Immigration Bureau is planning to change a new guideline for foreign residents to ease concerns that those without social insurance will be forced to choose between losing their visa and entering the insurance system, a bureau official said Monday.

[...]

"The bureau will delete item No. 8 by the end of March, and 'lightly mention' the need to present a health insurance card in the introductory passage of the guideline," Immigration Bureau spokesman Yoshikazu Iimura told The Japan Times. "The wording will be in a manner to eliminate foreign residents' concerns that their visas won't be renewed if they don't have insurance."

So now the Immigration Bureau will "lightly mention" that you should be
enrolled in shakai hoken or kokumin kenko hoken. Curiously, the article passes off the change as a victory:

Foreigners and their supporters have protested the new
guideline as an infringement on freedom of choice.

Free Choice group. As I've written previously, Kessler may have an ulterior motive in lobbying for this change due to his connections to several private healthcare companies in Japan. If "an infringement on freedom of choice" sounds a little familiar, it's one Free Choice's talking points. The Free Choice Foundation believes that " just because something has been backed by the power of law does not automatically make it a good law. Nor does it mean that it can't be revised or improved. Furthermore, even if the law is suitable for citizens, that does not automatically make it good for everyone else. It
therefore should not preclude the possibility of choice. " It makes you wonder if Kessler helped Minoru Masutani write the article.

However, the deletion of Guideline 8 is in no way a victory for free choice. It's worth restating that nobody is being denied healthcare. It is your right to enroll in SK or KKK. You need to claim that right by asking your employer to enroll you in shakai hoken or enrolling yourself in kokumin kenko hoken.

Comments

LOL, something about this reminds me of that scene from Zoolander where the evil clothing magnate Mugato talks about how all these child labor laws are denying children the right to choose to work at his factories.

So now the Immigration Bureau will "lightly mention" that you should be
enrolled in shakai hoken or kokumin kenko hoken. Curiously, the article passes off the change as a victory

Shawn, I don't care whether it is seen as a "victory" or whatever, or whether it was Ron Kessler or Ron Jeremy who delivered this "victory"....but common-sense has won the day. The sky isnt going to fall, and we will all be able to get a new visa without having the Japanese government force their unwanted SK/KKK upon us - and some of us having to pay that absurd 3 years worth of back-payments! Tell 'em they were dreamin'!

However, the deletion of Guideline 8 is in no way a victory for free choice. It's worth restating that nobody is being denied healthcare. It is your right to enroll in SK or KKK.

Brother, it is my right not to enrol in SK/KKK that is the important thing! LONG LIVE PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE AND FREEDOM OF CHOICE! LONG LIVE THE FREE-MARKET

What my main problem with the union was their constant attack on the teaching industry to enroll teachers on health insurance...which is fine with me to a point. I think its great to hold companies responsible for their legal obligations. But instead these companies got around it by making us work 29.5 hours and ignored the law. But the union didnt stop there and continued their campaign with the government....but instead of enforcing the law on companies to take responsibility and enroll their teachers on the national health insurance, the government instead decided to shift that responsibilty to the teachers and that was NOT fair at all...thanks alot General Union!!!

If it wasnt for freechoice we would be stuck with guideline 8 and have to pay 100% back payments out of own fucking pockets to get a new visa and keep our jobs. What did the GU do about this problem...NOTHING!!! The GU didnt do a damn thing about guideline 8 even though it was set to reap hellish consequences for the thousands of teachers across Japan. All the GU did was hold meetings and gave us advice on our new responsibilty to pay 100% into the insurance scheme without the companies taking any financial burden for it. Wow, what a victory GU brought to us.
Here is what I want from the GU...stay the fuck out of our lives. Dont do ANYTHING for me GU.
The GU is completely worthless.

When will this guy start jumping on NHK for forcing people to pay dues for simply owning a TV. There's no freedom of choice there!!

"The GU is worthless"

I couldn't agree more. They did a lot to get the Shakai Hoken ball rolling. They held meetings with the government on behalf of their members, which number in the what, 10's now? Yet in the government's eyes the GU represented all of us.

Did they really think the bigger companies who have 300+ teachers would put up 20,000 Yen per teacher per month to pay for Shakai Hoken? Did they never think that companies would reduce everyone to part time status to get around the law? Idiots.

I've been to a couple of the GU meetings. They are a SMALL group of disgruntled teachers who feel their company has given them a raw deal and they want to make the company pay. Go to a meeting and ask where everyone works; it is always the worst companies. GU members never seem to be able to get a better teaching gig. Wonder why that is? I'm sure it has nothing to do with the IQ level in the room.

To the GU I say, NEVER SPEAK FOR EVERYONE AGAIN!

Brother, it is my right not to enrol in SK/KKK that is the important thing!

Wrong. Absolutely, positively, 100% wrong. Japan, like many other countries, has "mandatory" public health insurance. There is also voluntary gap and supplementary insurance that can be purchased and used in addition to, but not in place of, that public health insurance. Granted, there are no legal ramifications for Japanese who do not enroll in the system - there are of course financial ones if they get sick. Unless they can't pay, of course, in which case society picks up the tab - as it will for those proud of their "free choice" when they get sick and find out that the gap insurance they bought from Kessler & Co. and his ilk won't cover them. That's their scam. They don't care about "free choice for the individual", they care about their bottom line, that's all.

You have no "right" to be treated "special". If you want to support private insurers and the "free market", then kindly go live in a country that has that kind of system. But don't do as morons like Kessler do, which is decry the fact they aren't treated "the same as Japanese" while simultaneously demanding to be treated different from Japanese because, as a foreigner, they have "special needs". Can't have it both ways.

but instead of enforcing the law on companies to take responsibility and enroll their teachers on the national health insurance, the government instead decided to shift that responsibilty to the teachers and that was NOT fair at all

Now this I will agree with 110%. While I never had a problem with the idea of making people coming in for a visa prove they were obeying the law by being enrolled in NHI, I thought it was immensely unfair to only dump on the individuals and not on the schools who were also breaking the law. I used to teach at schools that were linked up with gap insurance companies, and almost certainly getting some form of kickback or profit from the deal. They would refuse to pony up for NHI as they were obligated to - but complain about that and it was "why don't you try asking at Hello Work?"

I agree with the poster above that this is a good thing for foreigners in Japan. Even though I'm enrolled in SH, I personally feel that it is not a good deal for foreigners to enter such a system. The idea that people will have to pay back 3 years contributions (yet companies don't have to) is simply unfiar.

Also, when you do leave you will not get all that you pay into the system-especially if you stay longer than 3 years.

If you are here (25 years) to get an actual pension, there is no guarantee that you will recieve one. As we have seen with private penion systems like JAL, companies can reduce penion payments by up to a third for example at any time they want. So can the government.

No matter which way you look at it the government pension/insurance plans cost a lot with very little in return.

I should also add that there is nothing stopping people walking down to their local ward office and enrolling in KKH if they so desire. The above decision makes no change to this fact and it has always been the case that people could enrol in KKH if they wanted to. From memory, it's a set monthly fee of about 13-14,000 Yen.

Kokumin Kenko Hoken is NOT a set fee, my friend. They calculate it based on your income. If you made considerably more money one year, your next year's premiums will increase and remain at the increased level for the entire year even if your income falls. Different areas of Japan will calculate your premiums differently as well. Not to mention the fact that KKH is not for people who are working in companies such as Geos or Aeon. Any normal company would have enrolled its employee in Shakai Hoken like the rest of Japan.

While I agree that it is unfair that foreign workers should have to pay penalties for their employers not following either ethical business practices or the law, I must agree with the poster above who points out very clearly that health insurance in Japan is not a choice. It's the law. It's a badly enforced law, but a law nonetheless. It's the cornerstone of one of the best, least expensive, and most comprehensive health care systems on the planet. Just because you want to go to private health center that doesn't take Japanese insurance doesn't mean you get to opt out of the law.

I think this change is a terrible step backward. This would have forced many more (not all, but many) companies to enroll companies in the health care system they are legally entitled to be in. Don't forget, too, that this change would have had an important impact not just on English teachers, but also on the contract factory workers and other foreign workers in Japan.

This would have forced many more (not all, but many) companies to enroll companies in the health care system they are legally entitled to be in. Don't forget, too, that this change would have had an important impact not just on English teachers, but also on the contract factory workers and other foreign workers in Japan.

Excellent point - and there are vastly more "factory workers and others" in Japan than there are English teachers or even Anglophiles.

But then, they don't buy insurance from folks like Ron Kessler....

Ok, I stand corrected on the set fee. I must be thinking about a different system because I know that there is such a system because there are at least a couple of people who pay into it and they say it's a set monthly fee of the amount I suggested. It might be just the pension part rather than including health care. Thanks for the information.

In any case, people can still sign up to KKH if they so desire. That hasn't changed . . .

This has been a good discussion but some people seem to refuse to understand that many people were happy under the old system. Most of the people I know preferred paying for cheaper private insurance rather than paying an extra 20,000 or so from their income. Also, you get covered for only 70% of the costs incurred so you are still out of pocket when you have health costs.

Under the private insurance plan I had, I was covered for 100% of any health costs plus I also received money for lost income from days taken off work. My plan was much cheaper than what I have to pay now under SH. I prefered my old health plan.

I can respect people who wanted the change ... but they also should understand the other point of view. Some of this self-rightious indignation from some people is a little off-putting.

Some of you come across like there is only one side of the issue. There isn't! I acknowledge that people wanted this change to come through but many people were happy under the old system. The best way to respect both points of view is to allow people to have a choice and not be forced into a health fund that they don't want.

The best way to respect both points of view is to allow people to have a choice and not be forced into a health fund that they don't want.

If anyone is refusing to understand things it is people such as yourself. There are not "two points of view" - there is the point of view that says "I want to do whatever I want, and damn the law" and there is the law.

Guess who wins?

If you were happy with private insurance great - that sense of happiness in no way wipes out your legal and societal obligation as a working resident of Japan to be enrolled in one of the two national health care plans. This is not some debate over semantics. Are we supposed to "understand" the point of view that it is OK to run red lights or ignore speed limits because someone is "happy" doing so? That is exactly the argument you are making.

about how there should be some kinda reconcilliation..and the gubment should just declare that there is a amnesty for anyone here who isnt on SH/KKH...to come forward..and sign on..waiving the back-fee nonsense..and watch how many people stand up.

I for one have been without insurance AT ALL for 2 years since Nova went tits-up....but I AINT paying no goddamn bullshit back-fees..for a system I was in (not-so) blissful ignorance of until about 2 years ago...(co-inky-dink)

I want insurance..I had a back problem about 4 months ago..and the MRI, and other tests set me back 20G... and I live in constant (albeit small, and distant) worry of flipping over on my bike..or SOMETHING that I dont walk away from ...I DID go in to the ward office to sign up for KKH when it looked like my visa was at stake...but it was such a burecratic nightmare..and they asked me to march all over Osaka for more documentation..I just couldnt be asked...so I let it slide..and I cannot bring myself to pay these clowns anymore cash than I think they are due.

Its like file sharing..sure..i KNOW its "wrong"..and "stealing"..but i think most peoples sense of personal entitlement is preventing them from coming forward and signing on.

If I could get a guarantee that I wouldnt be unfailry dinged for Nova's evil..I would sign up tomorrow...and be a happy little contributer.

How do I get that? Who do I ask?

Insurance..a waste of money...until you need it.

Stop with "It's the law!" nonsense. As you are probably aware, nearly 40% of Japanese people don't follow the "law" as they do not currently pay into SH/KKH. The current change to to guideline 8 means that it is 'legal' for people to extend their visas without paying into SH/KKH. That is the current "law" as decided by the government. Here it is to remind you:

The bureau will delete item No. 8 by the end of March, and 'lightly mention' the need to present a health insurance card in the introductory passage of the guideline," Immigration Bureau spokesman Yoshikazu Iimura told The Japan Times. "The wording will be in a manner to eliminate foreign residents' concerns that their visas won't be renewed if they don't have insurance."

So, it is you who are not following the "law" because you are trying to force people to pay into a system that the government has decided you don't have to. The "law" is that you can renew your visa without proof of KKH/SH. You are just bitter because your fascist ideas have not been enforced by the government.

No need for Gestapo like tactics ... the law is that you don't have to enrol in SH/KKH. That's THE LAW.

@13:02 - Godwin's law invoked - your side just lost the argument.

40% of Japanese drivers probably do not follow the speed limit either - it does not change the fact that the speed limit is law.

The change to guideline 8 has absolutely zero to do with the laws concerning who is supposed to be on NHI. The change merely delinks having to be insured with being able to get a visa. In that sense, it is a fair change as no-one tells non-enrolled Japanese that they are not eligible to live in Japan because they are not on NHI rosters.

The government has not decided you do not have to pay. The laws concerning registration for NHI have not been changed one whit. If you are an adult, working resident of Japan you are legally required to be enrolled. Just because there is not a punishment stipulated for those who break the law does not mean the law ceases to be one.

Your obsession with "the law" is rather sad. Some countries believe in public be-headings, loss of limbs for stealing for example. Other countries believe that a women can be stoned to death because she committed adultery. Do you support those laws? I guess you do because it's "the law".

It was once the law in many countries to label people as heritics because they said the earth was flat or the earth was the centre of the universe. By your logic, you supported every decision of the Spanish inquisition because it was "the law" at the time.

Well then, follow the law. No requirement that you need to be enrolled in SH/KKH to extend you visa. That's the current law. Don't propogate the myth that you have to be enrolled in SH/KKH because that is not "the law" to extend your visa.

You lose!

Back late in the summer, an immigration bureau spokesperson said that the bureau wasn't going to deny people their visas for nonenrollment. They already said this.

Now, what's being said is that somewhere else in the instructions, there will be a "gentle" request for the insurance proof, and a "gentle" giving over of enrollment information if you can't produce the card.

Bottom line is that someone will be checking up as to whether you have what you are supposed to.

Like I blogged yesterday, it makes no sense if the Japanese kick you out for not having insurance. When your butt goes, there goes the premium money. It makes a lot more sense to find out who doesn't have and to point them the correct way, "gently".

The health program is under the Ministry of Labor and Health, not immigration. And as I've said, Ron Kessler's group never goes near Labor and Health for a ruling on whether the gap insurance (like the one Kessler seems to have been tied to) is acceptable.

If Minister Nagatsuma would say that gap is great, then whoopie! we can all choose to piggyback our catastrophic risks off on the Japanese--only pay up if we really need it! But I highly doubt the Minister would so rule that way. In fact, I think anyone really looking at the situation sees that it's not so much about "choice" but cheating. The other residents of Japan pay in at progressive rates to maintain the system.

The Choicers pay this small money in, if and until they need something major. Then, they go, "oh, I should have been in that "other thing"? Nobody told me!" Well, now everyone gets the gentle nudge, and probably put on a list if you don't gently do what you were supposed to.

The Choicers

Good name call - now can someone explain to me why they should get a "choice" as to whether or not to pay in, but the rest of us who are paying in do not get a choice as to whether we want our premiums to pay these idiots' medical bills when they get sick and NHI has to pick up the tab? Where is our "free choice"?

Anyone?

Someone??

Kessler???

Shawn, I'm guessing you found this information in a news article or something, right? I'm a bit confused about the wording, and maybe it was just the way it was translated to English from a Japanese source or something, but the article seems to read "must present a health insurance card". So does anyone else think that this could also include private insurance cards, so as to make everyone a little happier?

Now as for the law business: you chose to live in Japan, and must therefore obey the laws of Japan, period. Forms of punishment for crimes are not laws, but are punishments handed down, as seen fit, by judges or governments to those who commit "crimes" or break the laws of that country. Although there may no longer be a guidline directly connecting social insurance programs to the renewal of one's visa, there is still a law, separate from the aforementioned guideline, that every resident in Japan (and I've heard it's only after you've been a resident for over a year, but if someone else could verify that with proof, I'd appreciate it) is required to sign up and pay into one of the the socail insurance schemes. Whether or not people actually sign up for the insurance is a risk that the individual, whether citizen or not, will have to take.

What I wish someone would do to change the work environments is force companies to quit this 29.5 hours/week BS. The companies get away with it (and quite legally) by writing the contract in such a way that any time outside of the class period, as signified by the starting and ending bells or whatever, is considered break time. The truth, however, is that most teachers, especially good teachers, have to spend this time preparing for a next lesson. So, yes, a lot of contracts state that you are only paid for the 40 (or however long the class is) minutes of each class, and multiply that by the number of classes you teach that day. Then the company will get away with not having to pay for any of this "break time" by reminding you that the company never assigned any work to be done during that time, so they don't have to pay you... now I'm not sure how legal this is, but I'm pretty sure most Eikaiwa and ALT companies do this. So even if you show up to your school before your start time, and go home long after you've finished teaching all your classes, you are only paid for a smaller portion of that time. I'm not sure if the labor standards law (LSL) can help here, because in most contracts the company has defined working time and break time according to the LSL. But here is the root of all the problems regarding failure to sign employees up for SH.

Many people might say that they prefer their private insurance because it's cheaper. But when you look at the insurance contracts and coverage, you'll notice that most don't cover a lot of things that are covered in SH and KKH (including Dental, Optical, annual health checks). Then again, private insurance coveres some things that SH and KKH don't (including re-patriation of one's bodily remains if they happen to die in Japan).

I think the guideline was more intended to catch people who have no insurance at all and are working in the country. Remember that not all foreign employees are language teachers. There are a mass of foreign residents in Japan doing a number of different jobs, and their companies can, at times, treat them worse (if you could imagine it) than the Eikaiwa or ALT companies. I'm not saying we should be thankful to these Eikaiwa or ALT companies for giving us more than the other companies may to their foreign employees, but we do at times have it better off. Like I said before, it would be a better use of people's time to solve the bigger problems so as to prevent these kinds or problems from coming up in the first place.

If anyone has any proof for or against any of the statements I have said above, I welcome it.

I linked to a story in The Japan Times. I agree that presenting a health insurance card can be interpreted to include private health insurance. When you say, "I wish someone would do to change the work environments is force companies to quit this 29.5 hours/week BS" that someone is you. I've been arguing that you--the English instructor or labourer or whoever you are--are entitled to healthcare, but have to stand up and claim it.

When your employer mucks with your hours and says you work 29.5hrs/wk and that the 5 or 10 minutes between classes don't count as working hours, they're fucking with you. Amazingly, a lot of people are OK with this because they think they'll lose their job. That's not an entirely unreasonable assumption in eikaiwa, but it's overly paranoid, too. I would argue that your employer is counting on you to be docile and ignorant so they can get away with cutting corners. Enforcement of enrollment in national health insurance is poor, but nothing is going to change until people start making a stink. That means asking your employer about SH or KKK, or reporting them to the Labour Standards Office.

I agree with your comments on cost. Private insurance may be cheap in some instances, but SH and KKK are much more comprehensive. One huge benefit of being on SH is that it contains wage protection should you be on longterm disability. You mention repatriation of remains as a benefit of private insurance. Are there any other benefits apart from this? It's small potatoes compared to the dental, optical, and health checks you mention.

I am astounded that people would act against their own self-interests and side with private insurance companies. I think this stems from the fear of being hit with hefty back payments. Not having any savings, they'd rather go uninsured instead of be covered. As CanadaJin said a few posts back, health insurance is a waste of money until you need it. It's to your benefit and the benefit of your family (if you have one) to be enrolled in SH or KKK.

Shawn
Let's Japan.org::Blog

Thank you Shawn, that was the point I was trying to make. And thanks for the kick to get myself in gear as well.

New ALT contracts are coming up soon, so I hope a lot of ALTs will ask their employers about getting on SH.

So, I was hoping someone could clear this up for me. I have been working here for about a year and half, I am about to get married to a Japanese girl and we are trying to figure out what to do about insurance. I am on private "shitty eikaiwa" insurance which works fine for me, but she wants to be on the NHI. If I wanted to join the NHI am I correct in understanding that I would have to pay 18 months of back payments in order ot be enrolled? That seems absurd to me. I am happy to pay for what I might not use in the future, but I am not stupid enough to pay for what I didn't use in the past.

The first year is pretty damned cheap, so the backpayments wouldn't be that bad. You can also negotiate with them too. They are quite helpful. Bottom line: if you're getting married and planning to stay in Japan you should get into the system.

I agree with you hyaku pasento!

As a foreigner living in this country it is our obligation to abide by the laws of the country. Regardless of what others may or may not be doing. The red light analogy is one I frequently make when discussing this issue.

As is too often the case in Japan, foreign residents (read teachers most specifically) try to take advantage of the system as much as possible. Earn money, meet a girl or guy, party and do the absolute minimum in contributing to the education of students and the country as a whole.
They are a mirror reflection of the companies they work for and the attitudes those companies have towards them. Take what you can while you can and get out. Or in the company's case, take what you can while you can and get a new employee.

The Japanese people see this. They form opinions of foreigners based on these facts. The decline of the industry is due to the the distaste the Japanese have delveloped for the language teachers and the companies. Would you enroll in a language school, knowing all this garbage is going on? The complaining, the skirting the law, the self serving attitudes of the companies and teachers? It's a rotten apple noone want's to buy.

Now I support free choice and the revision of laws through legitimate means. But I do not support conflict of interest,(which is what the Free Choice Foundation displays) and I do not support the seemingly half crazed revenge and militant face of the General Union.

My hopes:
1- more considerate mature teachers entering the country
2- companies that value the the rights of students, teachers and the laws that govern their particular industry.
3- a rebirth of the Japanese love affair with English
4- government take an active role in rebuilding the industry. Enforce workers rights (no more 29.5hr garbage). That means that the government will have to give more money to the BOE's to pay the ALT's for example, or tax breaks to Japanese studying at Eikawas.
5- A legitimate voice for the teachers arises that is not bitter and militant nor displaying a conflict of interest.

Peace to u all

Now I know all teachers are not as bad as outlined above and I apologize to you. I also know that most teachers can grasp the reasoning behind what I'm saying. Be a part of the whole, not a mole on the skin.

One of the things that we need to do as foreign employees in Japan is to know the rules, the laws and all, and then stand up and make sure that our companies are following these laws. Just sitting here writing in a forum isn't going to get anything done.

As for back payments, check with your local town, city or ward office on if and how much back pay you will have to pay for joining if you are joining KKH. You may (not 100% reliable) also be able to try just registering your wife (and other family, children for example) without registering yourself, but again you'd have to check with your local office. If you are going to sign up for SH, through your company, you can contact your company, and there should be a local Shakai Hoken office somewhere nearby where you can go to ask questions.

We shouldn't have to act like disgruntled employees and create "bad feeling" just to be treated fairly under Japanese employment law. Maybe this GEOS mess will finally bring to light some of the practices going on. Also, own governments, embassies and consulates should take a more pro-active stance in telling Japan to treat us fairly. If they want our intellectual capital, if they want to exploit us for our talents, they should ante up and pay our health insurance, social security and pension schemes. Also, we should have a fair apportionment of paid leave.

This GEOS thing may make Let'sJapan into a more active online community too.

Another thing, why aren't the Japanese reporting on this!? It is just weird. You have hundreds of nipponjin stranded, ripped off, losing money and visa status and yet thus far I've seen no word of it in the news.

Why you haven't heard about GEOS in the national media here is because it's about shame, and reflecting poorly on Japan.

This is somebody's shame. They set up a company in another country, and then all the good evidence is that they siphoned off the money in order to send it back into Japan. It's like stealing other people's money in another country and then spiriting it back to Japan.

Anyone looking at the facts would conclude that "Japan" looks bad as a result of this company's actions. And with Japan already looking bad because of Toyota, who needs this one? And besides, it's Eikaiwa of one sort or another WHICH NO ONE WHO KNOWS ANY BETTER TAKES VERY SERIOUSLY ANYMORE ANYWAY. So they just ignore it.

Eikaiwa would have been much better off if the government had started regulating it, at least since 2007. But then it would legitimize the business and make it less "mizu shobai". In the end, it was really only meant to be a holding pen for working holiday visa holders (so that young Japanese could go overseas in exchange without it being any big issue).

I agree with the commenters above who say the industry needs reform and regulation. But that' s not how the Japanese play the game.

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