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Tuesday, June 17, 2003

LIFELINES

Pensions, immigration and health


Hello again from Baghdad. It is definitely hot -- apparently 33 C the other day. Things here are settling down and the city is beginning to work again. What do you say about a 7,000-year-old-city? It just slowly gets on its way.

It is particularly exciting for me because I am able to experience first hand what my parents experienced over 50 years ago when they came to Japan as one of the 10,000 people Gen. Douglas McArthur asked to help rebuild the country after the war. Let's all pray Iraq succeeds the way Japan did.

Immigration woe

I can symphatize with the person from Hong Kong who wrote to you about her experience with immigration when she let her visa expire. Although the circumstances were a bit different, I too let mine expire nearly six weeks.

I too was given the criminal treatment -- fingerprinted, mugshots, handcuffed in a room with fellow prisoners, the vague but implicit threat of deportation. In the end -- six weeks later -- it turned out OK. After a "hearing" I was "forgiven" and was granted a three-year extension of my work visa.

My experience was like that of being treated as a criminal. If it is humiliation immigration wants to achieve they succeed. -- Jon in Tokyo.

Pensions

Regarding your column on national pension, I thought you would like to know the following. I called the number in the column and they told me I should go to my local Shakai Hoken -- insurance office. I am now 55 and have been paying for 27 years. They said I can start getting my pensions when I am 64 and 65 respectively, however they won't tell me how much I will receive until I am 58. "Come back when you are 58" the lady said. Go figure? -- Tokyo Bob

Dear Bob -- The question you are asking -- "how much pension will I get in three years" is a classic one that the government doesn't like to answer.

They honestly have no idea of what will happen in three years and don't want to stick their necks out. The question you need to ask is: "If I fit all my qualifications and I was 64 today how much would I get?" That will give you a ball park figure of how much you will receive. That is all you need, right?

Docs and insurance

Do you have contact with a doctor who specializes in ear, nose and throat? I have been having some strange pain and seem to get "blown off" when I go to my local hospital.

Second, do you have a recomendation for international life insurance? I am an American, have a new son and want to insure my family. We are not sure how long we will be in Japan and the Japanese system is very confusing. -- Daniel in Meguro

First, in terms of a doctor in your area, check out Dr. Shane. He will get you started and recommend a specialist. Call him at (03) 3433-5381.

For insurance, call Pacific Star Insurance at (03) 3403-9971. They should be able to help.

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


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