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Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2003

LIFELINES

Shipping news, foreign movies and medical bills

Shipping

On the subject of shipping goods from the U.S.A. to Japan as unaccompanied baggage, reader Carol says that if you fly on United Airlines, they can provide you with the unaccompanied baggage forms.

Passengers should ask a flight attendant, and they will receive two copies. These need to be filled out before landing in Japan, and turned in when going through customs at the airport. The boxes will then be delivered to your home tax free.

Foreign movies

Ian Rowberry, from Onomichi, Hiroshima, was having trouble tracking down movies in his local video store since the names of films are often changed when they are released in Japan.

Ian was looking for a Web site, or book, that lists foreign movies and gives their Japanese titles.

Reader Shaney Crawford says there are two books that Ian might find helpful. Both are in Japanese, but give the titles of movies in English and Japanese.

The index is particularly helpful in both of these books. The first is "Pia Cinema Club 2003 -- Gaikoku Eiga Hen," which you can pick up for 3,500 yen. The other is the "Video Soft Sougou Catalog 2002," which sells for 2,500 yen.

(Reader Julian adds: The indexes at the back of the volume are what Ian wants: alphabetical lists of the original titles of 11,000 foreign movies divided by country of production, followed by their Japanese titles).

The Web site for Tsutaya ( www.tsutaya.co.jp) is quite helpful, says Shaney, but it is still not perfect. It will let you search for movies by English title, but you may have to try a few times to get what you want.

Meanwhile, another useful link to film titles is: cinema.media.iis.u-tokyo.ac.jp/

Medical expenses

On the subject of medical expenses, a reader writes from experience:

People who have excessive medical and hospital bills may qualify for a tax refund. This may be very helpful for people with low salaries whose employees do not inform them.

They can file a special tax return by March 15. If they have had a salary for the preceding year (the year of the illness, of course), with tax deductions made by their employers, they can ask their employer for a copy of their tax form (the same one that is used when applying for a visa extension).

They will need their original bills, not copies, to attach to the tax return. Hospitals and doctors' offices can give them a duplicate of their bills if they have lost them.

Ward offices have information and tax staff that can help. However, they should be careful to avoid the last-minute rush into the tax office.

Disaster steps

The Japan Helpline has just announced the commencement of special services under Code Yellow during the current security alert status for the international community in Japan.

In order to provide maximum assistance, those in need or with questions may contact www.jhelp.com and press 'help' for immediate assistance, or they can e-mail: help@jhelp.com

In addition, the Tokyo Disaster Center is on 24-hour alert for assistance to the community as needed during the current situation.

Further, the Disaster Relief Vehicle, is currently on 24-hour standby to assist the community as needed on site with the ability to go to specific locations as needed.

The Disaster Relief Vehicle is in urgent need of approximately 1.2 million yen to complete urgently need repairs to allow it to assist.

Those able to donate any amount to this much needed response vehicle so that it can be in shape to assist may do so through Postal Furikae Account, 001607 162438, Nihon Kinkyu Enjotai.

For further information and offers of help please contact help@jhelp.com.

Bilingual kids

The International Children's Bunko Association (ICBA), which exists to help Japanese children who have recently lived in English-speaking countries to maintain English language skills after they return to Japan, is looking for native English speakers to listen to readers, play language games and to talk to the children, aged between 6- and 12-years-old.

They meet once a week, on Wednesdays, in the Higashiyama Shakai Kyouikukan (about 7 minutes from Ikejiri-Ohashi Station, one stop from Shibuya on the Denentoshi Line) from 2-4 p.m.

The group is organized by the mothers of the children that attend and would welcome any help that can be offered, and would also like to encourage interaction with English speaking foreign children who live here in Tokyo. Please contact naoko-itsuchimoto@k5.dion.ne.jp for info.

Send your queries, questions, problems and posers, to: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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