If you haven't heard by now, the Immigration Bureau has officially deleted Guideline 8 and replaced it with:
"In order to promote signing up for social insurance, we will ask (foreign residents) to present their health insurance card starting April 1. We will not reject renewal or change of visa status for failing to present the card."
In other words, if you aren't enrolled in shakai hoken or kokumin kenko hoken when you go to renew your visa this year, your application will not be refused nor will they try and boot you out of the country.
The headline to The Japan Times article--Foreigners get nod to skip social insurance-- is misleading because the deletion of Guideline 8 has nothing to do with being able to opt out of social insurance. While the Free Choice Foundation is celebrating this as a victory, the law of land still obligates you to enroll in a national health insurance plan. While you'll get your visa, Immigration is still going to ask to see your health insurance card anyway.
For more, Hoofin has been all over this issue (and Ronald Kessler's case) and his latest is worth a read.