Friday, March 05, 2010

New National Insurance rules

A year ago, the Japanese government published revised rules for work visa renewal. The most prominent change was the requirement that people show proof of national insurance when they renew. The problem is, most foreigners aren't on national insurance. Despite there being a law requiring EVERYONE to enroll, most eikaiwa (English conversation schools) did not -- and still do not -- enroll their employees. Instead, they changed the work hours to 29.5 hrs/week (by changing what counted as 'work' and what counted as unpaid 'preparation time', like walking to the classroom) to skirt these laws. Now, despite the fact that the companies who brought people in neglected to inform them of their responsibilities, workers would be punished by having to enroll in national insurance AND pay back dues on all the time they were in Japan. So, for myself, I've been in Japan 6 years and could potentially owe more than $10,000 in back insurance payments that I will have to pay if I want to continue working, despite being covered under private insurance that I was told was sufficient (my first employer, NOVA, had me enrolled in their company plan, JMA. After I changed jobs to Interac, I was covered under Interglobal, where I remain to this day). Now, I wouldn't be opposed to enrolling in Japan's national plan. what I object to is being told that I must back pay thousands of dollars because I was misinformed.

Well, since my visa expires April 8th, and the new guidelines take effect April 1st, I've been paralyzed by the fear of having to enroll. Not to mention, little to nothing was said on this topic after the initial announcement. Now, it seems, proof of enrollment will not be grounds for visa denial. At least, that's what the Japan Times says. But then again, somebody in the immigration office has it out for me (I've had 2 consecutive 1 year visas, despite having had a 3 yr one before and everyone else getting 3 yrs), so I'm sure I'll be the one who gets denied and deported.

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