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Friday, Oct. 4, 2002


Finding out more about the law and you in Japan

You and the law

To help you with any questions relating to you and law in Japan, The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, as part of The Living In Japan Series, will present: Japanese Laws You and Your Family Should Know on Oct. 16, at 12 p.m. at The Tokyo American Club.

The director of the National Police Agency's International Cooperation Division will address the meeting.

As far as we know, this is the only forum in which members of the international community can ask questions directly to the National Police Agency -- and get official answers.

Mr. Ito will discuss Japanese laws affecting you and the type of assistance the Metropolitan Police Department offers members of the international community in Japan. He'll also explain how Japan's system of koban, or police boxes, can be used to keep you and your possesions safe as houses.

Also, Peter Van Buren, First Secretary and Consul at the American Embassy in Tokyo, will discuss what the U.S. government can do for you in cases of emergency.

In addition, Mr. Yutaka Saito, attorney-at-law with the Tokyo Chuo Law Office, will talk about the various legal means at your disposal should you have a brush with the law.

Those with specific questions can send their questions in advance by E-mail so they can be forwarded to the National Police Agency for a more detailed answer.

It's open to ACCJ Members only, so to sign up E-mail: kfujii@accj.or.jp or call 03-3433-5381.

Buying a house

Dear Lifelines, I live in the country and very much want to buy a home. Is this possible? I plan to stay in Japan long term. -- Mary in Inaka

Dear Mary in Inaka; It is more possible than ever before for foreigners to buy a home in Japan.

There are a few ground rules, though. First, you will need Permanent Residence. This is just common sense -- if someone is going to loan you a couple of hundred thousand dollars then you need to have permission to stay for the length of the loan, right?

Next, you need to have an income that will allow you to make the repayments. Though with the dramatic drop in property prices -- in many areas up to 90 percent -- for the first time this is possible for many.

Finally, have a Japanese friend that can help you with the arrangements, or a gyosei shoshi.

Recently, The Japan Helpline checked out a property for someone and found that, while it would cost approximately 150,000 yen monthly to rent the property, it could be "bought" for approximately 90,000 yen per month.

Mr. Inomoto, at 03-3582-7482, might be a good place to start in putting the paperwork together.

A family doctor

Dear Lifelines, I am a long term resident of Japan but have never been able to find a 'family doctor.' Each time we try, we are advised that there are no general practitioners in Japan. Can you provide some advice on how one would look for a family doctor? -- David in Tokyo

Dear David in Tokyo; While getting a 'family doctor' in Japan is not exactly the same as having a G.P. like that at home, it's still not that hard. Just find a hospital near you that you are comfortable with, or even one of the larger ones that you can make it to.

Simply ask if any of the doctors have trained overseas, can speak English etc.

Then take the time to meet these doctors and find one you feel comfortable with. Once you have found one you do feel comfortable with, each time you come in ask to see him or her.

Unless they are specialists, you should be able to find a doctor that is willing to give the time for them to get to know your family.

If you have your own insurance, you could do worse than Dr. Shane at 03-5549-9983. He is the classic 'family doctor,' near Akabanebashi Station on the Oedo Line.

Old clothes

Dear Lifelines, do you know of anyplace to send old clothes? We are moving back home. -- Brigitte in Nara

Dear Brigitte; Places to send old clothes to are becoming few and far between these days. Although, the Japan Emergency Team does accept them, they must be sent through the regular post office not takkyubin, so it can be a little more expensive to pass them on.

Items need to be put in one box -- i.e. women's clothes, children's clothes, with the contents printed outside and 1,000 yen per box put in an envelope in the top of the box to cover any handling costs.

In addition to clothing, canned food, home medical kits, powdered milk, tents, flashlights and other supplies are very badly needed.

These can be sent to JET Box 65, Tokyo, Japan 106-8691.

Ken Joseph Jr. is director of The Japan Helpline ( www.jhelp.com )

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