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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

LIFELINES

Pensions and claiming back farewell cash


JET pensions

I am working as a prefectural employee and am married to a Japanese national. I am aiming to amass the minimum 22 years of pension contributions necessary to draw a pension in Japan.

I first worked in Japan on the JET program from 1991 for 3 years in the same prefecture where I work now, whereupon I left Japan. It was before the time when contributions could be reclaimed.

I recently phoned the prefectural office and asked if my first three years' contributions are registered. They said no record now exists of my contributions, and I should telephone the school where I worked. They also had kept no record of my time there. Unfortunately, I have not kept any records of my salary from my JET years.

In this situation, what can I do to make sure the contributions I paid are not wasted?

First, records are always kept, so if you go to the city office that you were registered in they should be able to dig up the records and at least find someone who remembers you.

The pension system is not an exact science, but rather a "case by case" one. When you rejoin the system they will give generally give you "extra years." Even if you can't find the proof, if someone can verify that you paid into the system, they will work with you. I wouldn't worry.

Go to the office with someone who speaks good Japanese, explain your situation and you should be fine.

Pensions II

I am planning to leave Japan some time this year. My problem is that I don't know what kind of monies I am able to claim back.

I have heard many different stories and cannot seem to get a straight answer. I'm wondering: Can I claim back my city/ward taxes from the time I have lived here? Or at least a percentage of them?

How do I go about claiming back my pension money and available cash from my health insurance scheme? Am I even entitled to anything from them?

Finally, is there anything else that I am not thinking of?

Also, on the topic of leaving -- do your readers have any information on shipping companies. I have read different information before in your articles about Pickford and the like, but for someone who is planning to take a lot of stuff home, does anyone have any good (or horror) stories about shipping companies?

First, you cannot get your taxes back. You can get back a percentage of your pension money. Go to the city office and they will give you a form to fill out. It will ask you when you are leaving, and for details of an account for them to put the money into.

You should get back about half of what you put in at least -- but maybe more.

You cannot get back anything from health insurance.

The "Pickfords" you mention is at (03) 5651-2747 or www. alliedpickfords. co. jp They are probably one of the best moving companies in Japan for the international community.

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


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