September 2014
From The Director


As the latest autumn beer concoctions fill the store shelves, summer in Japan is officially over, but some foreign residents are still hot under the collar. What’s fueling their anger? A Supreme Court ruling stating that foreigners with permanent residency status are ineligible to receive welfare benefits.

The decision focused on a lawsuit filed by an 82-year-old Chinese woman, from Oita Prefecture, who was born and raised in Japan. However, as usual in Japan, the situation on the ground is a bit more nuanced. The woman has been receiving her benefits since 2011, and her situation is far from typical.

While welfare may not be your immediate concern, it’s important to know where you stand regarding pension, unemployment and other government plans. This month we examine Japan’s various assistance programs and what benefits foreigners who are unemployed, unwell or retired may receive.

As always, we welcome your feedback. If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact your financial advisor. Should you not currently have an advisor at Select, please reply to this email and one of our senior consultants will contact you promptly.

Best Regards,

Imants Katlaps

Managing Director


Foreigners frozen out of Japan's government assistance?  Don't believe the hype.

A ruling by the Japanese Supreme Court in July sent ripples through the expatriate community when it clarified that non-Japanese residents did not qualify for the same welfare payment benefits as Japanese citizens. The ruling opened up discussion of what government assistance people living in Japan are eligible for and what programs exist to deliver that assistance.

Firstly, let's look at what the ruling actually refers to.

The Supreme Court declared that foreigners are not entitled benefits coming under the category of Seikatsu Hogo, or Public Assistance. This system is a safety net for when all other systems have failed and, while specific sums vary from municipality to municipality, it basically covers essential needs such as:

  • Assistance with rent payments

  • Water bills

  • Medical bills and prescriptions

  • Personal living allowance

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