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Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2005

LIFELINES

Names, cards and insurance


Naming a child

I have heard that Japan does not allow middle names, even for children with foreign parents. Why not? Is there a way I can "sneak in" a middle name? Can I use a hyphen? I really want my children to have middle names.

We checked with the government. Firstly, if you are not Japanese there is no restriction whatsoever.

The restrictions are only for Japanese. If you are a Japanese, the official registration has space for only two names -- last and first. At the same time they do say you can do a lot with that space. For example, the "first" name can be as long as you want. It can also be all in Japanese characters or all in katakana or mixed.

The only problem is there cannot be a space between the two names and they will appear together on a passport etc.

Card collection

My daughter has been collecting Japanese Passnet Cards ever since she was in high school and now has a huge collection. Someone told her that she would be able to sell them -- hence the collection. Is there any place that will pay something for these cards? I would like to get them out of my apartment so I can gain some space.

You did not indicate in your letter if the cards are are used or new. Either way, Mr. Fukuo of Fukuo Stamps at fukuo@plum.plala.or.jp or (042) 528-0306 will buy them from you.

They buy and sell just about anything remotely "stamp-related."

The price is quite low for the used ones, but they do have some value.

From our readers

Mr. Yamaguchi, who lives close to Tokyo Tower, is seeking support over a neighborhood problem, where a 27-story building is being built.

Residents have met many times with the developer, who refuses to discuss with them any changes and is pushing forward with a building that locals claim will cut off access to Tokyo Tower for the whole area. There has been no compensation offered to local residents, and no responses to requests to lower the building to a more reasonable height.

Those interested in getting involved with their campaign can contact Mr. Yamaguchi at (03) 3585-0026.

Health Insurance

I've just become enrolled in the National Health Insurance System, but I'm not sure what kind of coverage I have and what's free. What kind of benefits do I have?

If you're enrolled in the National Health Insurance System, you can can get low-cost or free general check-ups (usually arranged by your local authority once or twice a year), and free or, again, very cheap dental checks.

If you have a complaint of any sort, a visit to the doctor will rarely set you back more than a couple of thousand yen (including whatever pills the doctor prescribes).

What's not covered under NHI is normal childbirth, abortion for economic reasons, vaccinations, cosmetic surgery cosmetic dentistry, and alternative medicine.

For more information on health care in Japan, you should track down a copy of the Japan Health Handbook, published by Kodansha. Though out of print now, this very comprehensive guide should be available to buy online.

Also check out the AMDA International Medical Information Center home page at homepage3.nifty.com/amdack

This site will give you the numbers for a telephone service for foreign residents on health care in Japan. The U.S. Embassy Web site provides a good list of English-speaking doctors, clinics and hospitals at japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7119.html

Ken Joseph Jr. directs The Japan Helpline at www.jhelp.com or on (0570) 000-911

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


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