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Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2003

LIFELINES

Pension cash payments and house-buying


Nenkin

Dear Lifelines; I am American, my late husband was Japanese. We lived in Japan throughout our marriage, but for various reasons it became prudent to bring the kids back to the U.S. after he died at age 42.

He was a "sarariman," and since his death I have received payments from the Japanese Social Security agency every two months, for myself and for my children until age 18. I have been reading about all the problems of the pension system in Japan and am worried that these payments could stop. We can live without them but it would require serious adjustments to the budget. -- Kate

Dear Kate; Don't worry about the payments -- they are just fine. As in any country, nenkin, kenko hoken, the social security and health insurance, are always mired in politics, but everybody depends on them so they will not be allowed to fail.

In fact it would be good to contact your city office from your time in Japan, because you may be entitled to even more help. In your situation you most likely can get a discount on your health insurance and a number of other areas.

Are any of our readers having problems with their nenkin or kenko hoken? Let us know.

Buying a house

I wonder if you can suggest a book(s), in Japanese or English, which provides guidelines on purchasing a home (not an apartment) in Japan? In particular, I am looking for ways to determine the reliability of the construction firm which will build the home and the reliability of the agent selling the property. Is there also a guide to the secondary market for homes in Japan? -- Would-B

Dear Would B; We have not been able to find a book about buying a house in Japan but a good article that should steer you in the right direction is one by Ken Belson of The New York Times.

You can find it at www.iht.com/articles/90599.html

In our experience, when you go for a loan the bank is just as concerned about choosing the right contracter as you are and they do a good check of the property. Contact Michinoku Bank at daidoji835@docomo.ne.jp for more information.

They can help you. Do any of our readers know of a book or a service that can help Would-B?

Quickies

Need some printing done? Call Mr. Okusa at Matsuo Printing at (03) 3432-1321.

Need a quick e-ticket overseas? E-mail Mr. Watanabe at info@gatewaylax.com -- these days you just go the airport and your ticket is there waiting for you.

Need help on travel within Japan as well as overseas? Call Toppan Travel. Phil Gsell will help you at (03) 5403-2561.

Send your queries, questions, problems and posers, to: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp Ken Joseph Jr. directs The Japan Helpline at www.jhelp.com or 0570 000 911


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