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Thursday, June 13, 2002


Getting your just rewards for a lifetime of slog

Well here we are again. It's starting to get nice and hot and summer is well on us. Your questions and inquiries are coming in and we are also getting answers and ideas from our readers too. Great. That is just what we were hoping for.

A typical question begins with "I hope this is a suitable question -- perhaps I am imagining a 'Jean Pearce' kind of thing -- she was great at it."

Well, that's what we're here for. As one who grew up reading her column, nobody can ever come close to Jean, but we're trying, so any 'Jean Pearce' kind of questions are fine. Send them our way.

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A reader has a question about retiring in Japan.

"I have lived and worked in Japan since 1980. I am 63 and would like to know what amount of employees pension I can expect -- can this be paid monthly or in a lump sum."

Well, that is a tough one. We spent a while with the Health and Labor Ministry and basically the system is pretty complicated. It depends on how many years you have paid into the system, how much your income was and when you would like to take it.

The best would be to give them a call at 03-5253-1111. They're really nice and will transfer you to someone who speaks English.

Simply, though, if you have paid for 18 years at age 60 you should be able to get something in the neighborhood of 70 yen,000-80,00 per month.

But give them a call and they will take the time to figure it all out for you -- and yes, you should be able to get it in a yearly lump sum.

Another person who can give some good advice and help you put together a plan is Les Lohmann of Lohmann International Associates. You can contact him at: llohmann@gol.com.

Well, here is where I, or at least my father, has to take a bow.

You see for many years non-Japanese were not allowed to receive "nenkin" or Japanese Insurance.

Years back my father discovered this and had a series of nice conversations with our local city office. Having been here all these years and not being able to pay into and receive a pension just didn't seem fair.

Well, believe it or not, it was his initially gentle inquiry that started the ball rolling, so in 1982 non-Japanese were allowed into the system. Thanks Dad.

So, it's always worth it to say something. My Dad and Mom are having a blast in Japan -- my Dad's been here for 51 years -- in large part because of nenkin.

Another resource is The American Chamber of Commerce, which has yearly seminars on retiring in Japan, immigration, laws etc. You have to be a member to attend, but it might be worth it for all the information and help you can get. You can call them at 3433-5381 or log on at www.accj.or.jp

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Another reader wants to know where she can get furniture re-upholstered in her area -- western Tokyo.

"I am looking for a reliable and reasonable shop to do furniture re-upholstering."

Well, we found one. It is called Yamamoto, and you can call them at 042 321 0469. They should be able to help you.

These days it is becoming more and more impossible to find places that fix things from shoes to electronic equipment and more. People just buy new ones, although the old ones just need a little fixing up. So, if anyone knows someone who does repair of electronic items and others, please let us know.

Another reader was wondering about second-hand books.

"We have a lot of used paperbacks we would like to donate to whoever would want them. We've checked around but can't seem to find anyone who takes used books anymore."

This is where you, our readers come in: does anyone out there know a place that still takes books? Please let us know.

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Just a couple to close.

A good lawyer? There are many from which you can receive information by calling your local "bengoshi kai" or bar association. A good one we have known for many years, who is always willing to help, is Mr. Watanabe at E-mail: aoba@law.ne.jp or 03-3222-5361 (though only in Japanese).

Also, for Visa and Immigration help, you can call Mr. Inomoto at 3582-7582 and Mr. Nakai at 5282 7654. They are both great and will take care of all the paperwork for visa and immigration needs.

And lastly, just a small correction and apology. In my column of May 30, I gave out an incorrect phone number for the English-speaking service at Laox. The number for Laox's main store is 03-3255-9041, while Duty Free Akihabara can be reached on 03-3255-5301.

E-mail: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

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