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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

LIFELINES

Pensions, easy credit, freecycling and dogs

Lump sum payments

Following on from last week's Zeit Gist article on the insurance probe involving Japan's eikaiwa, Rob has a question on pension refunds.

While foreigners who pay into the national pension system can get up to nearly three years of payments back under the Lump Sum Withdrawal System, Rob is wondering what happens to those who stay in Japan longer.

Unfortunately foreign residents who pay into the system for more than three years still only get 90 percent of three years' premiums back. Why the limit is set at this remains a mystery.

The Social Insurance Agency says they set the limit because most foreigners don't stay for more than three years, though this fails to take into account the fact that those here longer often derive no benefit from years of payment.

Credit cards

On the subject of credit cards, reader Phil writes to let us know that he applied for a Saison/Visa Card from Seibu in Ikebukero and was using it within an hour.

Phil went to the department store with a Japanese friend who helped him to fill out the application form (in Japanese).

Phil only had to show his gaijin card and sign his name. Within an hour, the shop staff called to let him know that his application had been accepted and that he could call back to the shop to pick up his new card.

In choosing his card options, Phil chose the card's default limit, which allows you to get the card straight away, though the cash limit is lower.

The default option allowed him to get a shopping limit of 400,000 yen and a cash withdrawal limit of 200,000 yen and he recommends the Saison option for anyone in need of a card in a hurry and with the minimum of fuss.

TELL Runathon

On May 7, TELL will host its 6th annual TELL Walk/Runathon around the Imperial Palace. The event has become an annual tradition with Tokyo runners and last year over 700 participants either walked or ran the 5 km or 10 km circuit.

Proceeds of the event go to support TELL services for the foreign community such as the Tokyo English Life Line and the Community Counseling Service, as well as TELL workshops. For more information, those interested should contact the TELL Business Office at (03) 3498-0261.

For further information, registration forms and a course map, have a look at www.telljp.com/downloads/Runathon_2005.html

Guide dogs

The Guide Dog and Service Dogs Association of Japan (GDSDAJ), which trains guide dogs, service dogs and hearing dogs before supplying them to physically challenged persons, held a public demonstration last week at the Tokyo American Club.

The association works hard at raising public awareness through seminars at elementary and junior high schools across Japan. Last year, the group visited 12,000 schoolchildren.

In addition, GDSDAJ members frequently lecture at colleges, universities and community centers. They also work with corporate sponsors. If you'd like to find out more about the group and the work that they do, log onto www.hojyoken.com/index.htm

Freecycling

Jim writes to let us know of a good Web site for those living in Japan. The freecycle organization promotes recycling by having members of the group's online forums "recycle" unwanted items by passing them onto other interested members. There are over 500 members already in Japan and groups are based in Tokyo, Niigata, Okinawa and Osaka.

You can sign up and become part of the group by logging onto: www.freecycle.org

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


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