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Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2005

LIFELINES

Insurance, selling your home and pet care


Insurance query

Isn't health insurance in Japan different from "kaigo hoken?" And, is it true that if a permanent resident with a legitimate visa stops paying the health insurance premiums that basically nothing can be done? In other words, the "kuyakusho" will eventually remove the person's name from its mailing list?

"Kaigo hoken" is a special insurance recently begin to provide for taking care of the elderly. It provides for special treatment for those who are older and unable to take care of themselves.

"Kenko hoken" is "health insurance" and covers medical needs. The kenko hoken system is based on all paying into the system and has no "pre-existing" requirements. You can also be reimbursed to an extent for (emergency) treatment received overseas.

Payment is based on income so if one has a relatively large income the monthly payments can become quite high. However, the system is not voluntary. You cannot "opt out." If you do not pay you will not be able to use the system again until you repay the amount owed (up to two years of premiums).

House ownership

Can a foreigner own a house in Japan without permanent residence?

I've almost finished paying back a 15-year loan to the bank. The loan is in my Japanese father-in-law's name, the house is in my name , but none of us are clear on whose signature or authority is required to sell the house.

A non-Japanese can own property in Japan. Common sense would dictate that a loan would only be made for the amount of time on a person's visa. This is why generally Permanent Residency is required for a bank loan. At the same time, a bank is free to do what it wants and if you have lived in Japan for many years, have a spouse who is Japanese or have a co-signer and a good job you should be able to find a bank that will give you a loan even without permanent residency.

In terms of the house, the owner is your father-in-law. His signature is required to sell the house.

Pet sitter

Pat writes: Somebody was asking you about a pet sitter service before. I found one at my local animal hospital: Angel Buggy -- www.angel-buggy.com

I'm not sure if they speak English, though.

Teaching cert

Are there any schools, colleges or institutes in the Kanto area that offer a teaching certificate that would be honored at international schools in Japan?

A good place to start would be Temple University, Japan.

They can be contacted at (03) 5541-9811 or through their Web site at www.tuj.ac.jp/newsite/main/tesol/

Do any of our readers know of another institution that does something similar?

Leaving Japan

What is the official procedures for leaving Japan? My visa (non-permanent resident) is about to expire, but I am planning to leave before its expiration. Do I need to notify any government offices such as the ward? What would happen if I didn't, etc.?

If you are leaving permanently the best thing to do would be to pay a brief visit to the foreign registration department at your city office.

There is no penalty and requirement but you should do it to make your exit that little bit smoother, and to avoid confusion should they need to contact you in future.

The only concern would be to stop your insurance and other benefits and if you are leaving permanently you may be entitled to a refund of your pension payments.

This can be done either through your company (if you're a full-time worker), or by visiting your local Social Insurance Agency.

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


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