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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

LIFELINES

Pensions, credit and new law


Missing pension

Reader X began working for a company here eight years ago, at which time his employers failed to inform him of his right to enroll in the Employees' Pension and Health Insurance Programs.

Under this system, employee and employer pay half the monthly premium each.

His company is now being investigated for its failure to enroll its employees. X wonders if he is entitled to any compensation for his employer's failure to enroll him, even though he asked them about it eight years ago.

We spoke with the ward office and then the Social Insurance Agency.

Their position is that you are responsible, regardless of what your company tells you, to check what system you can and should be enrolled in.

On the other hand, there is some, limited recourse.

If your company has not paid into the system for you, you can recover up to two years of pension premiums from your company. X should go to his local ward office, where he can then arrange to pay two years' worth of back premiums (his company will be instructed to do likewise) and he will be back in the system, though whatever pension amount X receives when he is older will reflect the missing six years of payments.

X should immediately contact his local ward office and speak to the "shakai hoken" division.

Meanwhile, the Shakai Hoken Jimusho is at (03) 5401-3211. Between the two, they'll be able to get X back on pension track.

Credit history

A foreign reader who has lived in Japan for 20 years was refused a credit card for no apparent reason. He's now worried that this rejection will appear on his credit history and affect his credit rating in the future -- even though he suspects only his "foreignness" prevented him from getting the card.

He'd like to know if this rejection will appear anywhere, and, if so, if there is any way to have it removed from his credit records.

In Japan, the advent of credit cards is a relatively recent phenomenon. If you have been denied a credit card, the first thing is to check with the issuing company. You can call them up and discuss why it was denied.

If this goes nowhere, call the Nihon Credit Card Kyokai at (03) 5563-6521. This is the association of credit card companies in Japan. They may be able to help.

At the same time, the Kojin Shinyo Joho Center at (0120) 810-414 serves as the "credit agency" and keeps basic information on credit worthiness.

In Japan, though, it's clearly the case that only in rare instances do non-Japanese get issued Japanese credit cards.

If you really want to fight it, you can push them until they acknowledge there's no legal basis for refusing you a card and you might be able to get one after all.

Fingerprinting law

We've had a few inquiries from readers since we mentioned that The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan is gearing up to challenge the new law requiring the fingerprinting and photographing of all foreigners as they enter Japan -- including those who already live here.

It's hoped that, since details of the bill have yet to be finalized, the government may exempt long-term visa holders from the ID checks.

Currently, the Living in Japan Committee of the ACCJ is looking to gather as much information as possible on how these kinds of regulations are being enforced in other countries (for example, the U.S.).

They are also looking for organizations in the international community that may be able to assist them in their campaign.

If you can help in either of these two areas, please go to www.accj.or.jp and send a message to the Living in Japan Committee.

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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