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Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2004

LIFELINES

Scammers, counseling, health costs


Counseling

Is there such thing as counseling in Japan? I have been married for 7 years and am having problems, yet my wife refuses to even discuss it. Is there some place we or I could go for help?

Can I get a divorce in Japan by myself even if she refuses?

Some of the best counseling in Japan for the International Community is through the Tokyo English Lifeline.

You can access them at www. telljp.com

They can arrange bilingual counseling. Regarding divorce in Japan, it can be very, very easy or very difficult. If both parties agree it is as simple as getting a form signed -- if there is disagreement you must go to the Family Court, which is a long and extended process involving between four and six separate meetings.

Health Insurance

I am in the Japan National Health Insurance Scheme and have 70 percent coverage of my medical costs.

I recently had an operation and paid 120,000 yen for the portion of medical costs not covered by the plan. I've heard that if you pay more than 75,000 yen for medical costs, you can get reimbursed for the amount over 75,000 yen. Can you tell me if this is true?

Yes, if you have an expensive outlay, the plan will usually allow for reimbursement, although it is not always so "cut and dried."

The best thing to do is to go in to your local city office and explain your situation. Generally, they will take care of most of the costs if there has been an operation.

Dodgy keitai sites

Reader T. has some words of encouragement and advice for Mary, whose boyfriend's high jinks with her keitai hooked her up with some dubious spammers/scammers.

The best thing Mary can do is change her phone number and address as soon as possible, says T. She should definitely not try to contact the spammers or respond to anything else they send, or to any phone calls from unknown numbers.

What happened was a very common scam. Usually it works like this: the mail contains two links, one to the site and one to the contract (at the bottom, usually a page or two down). If you click on the link, you are taken to a site which captures your phone number (they can get this, but usually no other information) and says: "According to the rules of the contract, you have signed up. Now pay (exorbitant fee)."

Then they jack up the fees, send more threatening letters, and keep making nuisance calls until you change your phone number.

It's not a legal contract; that's why there's no "dissolve contract" link.

This is a spam scam; they send it out to thousands and thousands of people and then concentrate on actually harassing the ones who are foolish enough to respond to it in some way (sadly, often school kids who think they're really liable, and are too afraid to tell an adult because of the amount and the fact that the original link promised porn).

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


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