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Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2003


Leaving Japan, getting organized and cash refunds

Being thankful

Hello from Tokyo. For all of our complaints, isn't it wonderful to be in Japan? With war, hunger and strife rampant in the world, Japan, with all its problems, is an oasis. It's a good time to be thankful, as we enter the new year, for the simple blessings of peace, trains that run on time and telephones that work.

Preparing to leave

Dear Lifelines; I will be leaving Japan in a few months. Do I need to notify my ward office that I am leaving? Do I need to turn in my alien registration card? I have heard that it is possible to get reimbursed for taxes or pension and insurance payments. Is this true? Also, how can I get information about shipping companies? -- Leaving Japan

Dear Leaving Japan; We checked with the city office and there is no need to do anything when you leave. When you go through immigration, just turn in your alien registration card and you will be fine.

As for your taxes, there are three basic types of taxes you are responsible for -- local, city and national. For the local and city taxes, you will only have to pay tax if you are in Japan for a full year.

The national taxes apply depending on how many months you are in Japan. Your pension payment you can have refunded, depending on how long you have paid into the system.

The best thing to do is to go into your local city office and you should be able to get it all sorted out in one trip.

As for shipping companies, there are many, such as Allied at www.alliedpickfords.co.jp ; Global Silverhawk/Santa Fe Relocation Services at www.sanatferelo.com ; Crown Relocations at www.crownrelo.com

At the same time, as we always get the best information from our readers, if you have any tips, ideas or experiences on leaving Japan or finding a good mover let us know so we can pass it on - especially information from outside of Tokyo.

Getting organized

Do you have any suggestions for finding a personal organizer in Tokyo. It's very common in the States but not here. Basically, I would like someone who could come in to my home office and set up filing systems, figure out what to do with all the paper that comes in, and help me get the towering stacks into a location where I'll know what's there? Any recommendations? -- Drowning in Paper

Dear Drowning; We aren't aware of any personal organizers as such, but in Japan there is a system called a benriyasan -- someone who does literally everything from cleaning your house to going shopping for you to helping you organize your house, home or office. Two benriyasan we know of are at yokuwakana@hotmail.com and sidebysidejp@hotmail.com.

They do all kinds of things, so you will need to discuss your specific needs. Again, to our readers; do you know of any personal organizers in Japan?

Cash refunds

Dear Lifelines; Re. pension repayments (Lifelines: Jan. 14), actually, the refund of up to 600,000 yen is not entirely valid. I worked in Japan for three years as a JET, contributed three years into the national pension system (kokumin nenkin) as a public servant, and was refunded the maximum three months' average salary (one month for every year worked). This totaled about 1,000,000 yen (taxed at 20 percent, but that was refunded later aswell.) That is at least how the kokumin nenkin system worked.

The private company pension system (used in addition to the national, called kosei nenkin) might work differently.

There is something called a nenkin techo (pension handbook) that is usually orange or green, and lists all the contributions to the pension scheme made. (At least for kokumin nenkin.) This determines future payment.

Also on the pension topic, a TV show I watched on the topic last Saturday mentioned that if even one month of payment is missing from the 25-year mandatory payment total, no payment will be disbursed.

Your advice for the fellow to go down and talk to the pension representatives is absolutely right: they determine everything, and usually pretty quickly. -- Wendy


Need a place to hang out? Try The Foreign Correspondents Club in Japan at www.fccj.or.jp or on 03-3211-3161. You don't have to be a 'foreign correspondent' to become a member.

Need business cards printed or any kind of printing? Check out www.mprint.co.jp or call 03-3432-1321. Talk to Mr. Okusa.

Last minute airline tickets? Call Mr. Oozora at 03-3434-3500.

Trying to find a "foreigner-friendly" bank? Try Michinoku Bank at 03-3661-8011 and talk to Ms. Daidoji.

Help with your taxes or financial advice? Talk to Mr. Takihi at 03-3351-8580.

Ken Joseph Jr. is director of The Japan Helpline ( www.jhelp.com ) Send your queries, questions, problems and posers, to: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

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