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Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2005

LIFELINES

Used CDs, pensions and a good resource

More used CD info

On the subject of where to buy and sell used CDs in and around Tokyo, there are a number of shops that will take your old discs off you as well as Recofan (mentioned in our column of Jan. 18).

Carl writes to let us know that, aswell as Recofan, there is the Disk Union chain in the Tokyo area.

They have a Web site, though it's in Japanese only. You can look it up at diskunion. net/

They have multiple outlets in Shinjuku (each catering to a different style of music), multiple outlets in Ochanomizu, one outlet in Shibuya, near a RecoFan incidentally, and a large outlet east of Ikebukuro station next door to and above another RecoFan. And they're just the ones Carl knows about.

Carl hasn't sold any CDs at either of the chains, but between RecoFan and Disk Union for used CD shopping, he prefers to shop in Disk Union, which, he says, has better variety and better prices. There's a map to the Disk Union branches in Shinjuku at diskunion. net/ st/ shop/

The names in katakana of neighboring shops should help make the stores relatively easy to find.

Another option for buying and selling is the chain of BookOff stores, which are dotted around the country and usually too big and bright to miss.

Most of the stuff they buy and sell is mainstream pop, both domestic and foreign. They've got a Web site at www. bookoff. co. jp/

The Blue Parrot bookshop, which deals mainly in used English/European-language books and is located near Takadanobaba Station on the Seibu Shinjuku, JR Yamanote, and Eidan Tosai lines also buys CDs, and occasionally DVDs. Their site's at www. blueparrottokyo. com

Peeved about pensions

I've been working for a Japanese company for a few months now and am just coming to grips with my Japanese-language monthly pay slip. It seems that a rather hefty amount is being deducted for what my company says is my Japanese pension. Even though I only have a one-year contract and have told them that I have no plans to see out my days here, they say its compulsory. They also said that, while I have to pay now, I can get my money back later, but they're vague on details. What's going on? -- Robbie in Tokyo

The bad news is that you must pay into the Japanese pension system. In this case, it appears you're covered by the Employee Pension System, under which you pay half and your company pays half of your monthly pension premiums. Full-time workers pay premiums of around 13 percent of their average monthly base pay.

The good news is that you can receive a refund -- up to a point.

If foreign residents who have contributed to the pension system for 6 months or longer leave Japan permanently before they have paid into the system for 25 years, they are entitled to a partial refund. This is known as a Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment.

The amount returned is based on the length of time spent paying into the system. The amount used to be equivalent to one month's basic pay for each year spent paying into the system, but that amount has been reduced. The maximum you can now receive is equal to 2.4 months basic pay.

You can pick up an application form for the Lump Sum Withdrawal Payment at your nearest Social Insurance Office or ward office.

You can get in touch with the Social Insurance Agency on (03) 3334-3131.

Japan resource

Further to our Dec. 28 section on Japan-related resources, there's another addition to the list, from the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

The newest edition of their "Living in Japan" book came out in mid-October and is an excellent resource for those living here in Japan. Some more information about the book can be found at www. livinginjapan. info

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


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