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Japanese Pensions (厚生年金)

Word of the day…wanderlust

A very strong or irresistible impulse to travel.

Take note – this entry does not apply to contract employees in the Japanese eikaiwa industry (although if you’ve been with any company long enough, you might start making pension payments).

If you are living in Japan and working with a private company – IT, proofreading, some English companies, recruiting, etc. – you might have noticed this kanji appearing next to a ¥20,000~30,000 deduction on your paycheck: 厚生年金. Welfare pension, or kousei nenkin, is paid with 17.135% of your average monthly salary.

As a matter of reference, some other common deductions are:

健康保険 (health insurance)

雇用保険 (unemployment insurance)

所得税 (income tax)

To those of you unfamiliar with the word, a pension is:

…a fixed amount, other than wages, paid at regular intervals to a person or to the person’s surviving dependents in consideration of past services, age, merit, poverty, injury or loss sustained.

Required by law, you pay a fixed amount every month to be set aside for you. In the event of retirement, disability, or other circumstances, this money can be withdrawn and used to stem the tide. If you stay with one particular company long enough, this amount can be quite substantial.

But what of the foreigners living in Japan, who probably won’t be around at age 65 to claim their pensions? If you are leaving Japan for good, and have deposited pension payments for at least six months, you can make a claim with a tax agent and have the lump sum deposited in your bank account (minus fees, of course).

Under the Employee’s Pension Insurance Plan (Category 2 employees), payments are calculated by multiplying the average monthly standard remuneration by the rates shown in the following table, according to the insured period.

Insured period Rate

At least 6 months – less than 12 months, 0.5

At least 12 months – less than 18 months, 1.0

At least 18 months – less than 24 months, 1.5

At least 24 months – less than 30 months, 2.0

At least 30 months – less than 36 months, 2.5

36 months and over, 3.0

For Category 2 insured persons, 20% income tax is imposed on the payment for Lump-sum withdrawal payment. Claims for this tax refund can be made at the tax offices before leaving Japan by submitting a ‘notification of tax agent’ form to the relevant tax office (usually where Alien Registration is registered) and designating an agent. An eligible tax agent is required to be resident in Japan. When the lump-sum withdrawal payment is made, a notification will be sent, which needs to be sent to the tax agent to claim for tax refund on behalf of the claimant.

How to claim redemption

The claim form can be collected from your nearest Social Insurance Office or pension section of your ward office. Before leaving Japan, in addition to this form, you would need your pension book (nenkin techo), which has your pension number. It normally takes a few months after the application is made to receive your refund of contributions, which is paid by direct deposit into your bank account.

More information on pensions

Link to PDF forms

Naturally, I’m still working out all the specifics, but if you’ve been with a private company in Japan for a year and now have to leave, make sure you take care of this first.