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News Health ministry survey: insurance premium payments by foreign residents


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
Unbelievable but true: no specific data on foreign nationals' health and pension insurance premium payments currently exists.

The Japanese Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry plans to conduct its first survey on foreign residents' health insurance and pension premiums. The survey aims to analyze the impact of these payments on Japan's social security system. Understanding their contributions to the system becomes crucial as Japan prepares to accept more foreign talent to address its labour shortage.

The health ministry official said the decision to collect data on foreign residents' social security payments is based on an exchange in a Lower House committee meeting earlier this month, during which health minister Keizo Takemi acknowledged the need for more data. He was responding to a question from Yasushi Adachi, a member of parliament from Nippon Ishin no Kai. Adachi argued that the burden on the social security system from accepting more foreign residents remains unclear but needs to be weighed against the need to bring them in. In response, Takemi cited a sample survey taken by the Immigration Services Agency of 1,825 foreign nationals who applied for permanent residency between January and June of 2023, in which 235 people were found to have missed payments on their taxes, insurance or pension premiums. Of the 235 people, 213 had not made pension payments, 31 had missed payments of residential taxes and 15 had missed payments of national health insurance premiums.

The breakdown of unpaid social security premiums in Japan reveals an interesting trend: the payments most frequently missed are those for pension premiums. According to Takemi, long-term foreign residents (not just permanent residents) have the right to receive social security services, so it's natural for them to fulfil their duties by paying premiums, similar to Japanese nationals. As of December 2023, the number of foreign residents in Japan reached 3.42 million, representing a 10.9% increase from the previous year. Chinese nationals constituted the largest group (822,000), followed by Vietnamese nationals (565,000), South Koreans (410,000), and Filipinos (322,000).

Immigrations almost certainly does not want to be the 'police' for this, but others would probably suggest that.

Any visa renewal, not just the application for PR status, should require the applicant to show that they're up to date on these things.

Still the MyNa system should be (should have been?) a step in this direction--if it was meant to tighten things up on people in general, then it should also help with foreigners.

On the other hand, pension is pretty clear cut: if you have contributed and meet the minimums, you will get a pension based on this contributions. If not, you won't. So it's not like foreigners are getting something for nothing.

Health premiums are a different animal, and the issue seems to be that of interns, or perhaps people who are in the early phase of their stays in japan, who may be "slipping thru the cracks". But I'd guess that this is as much due to employers wanting to save money as anything--they can get away with paying these workers less if the worker take home pay is adequate. Factor in more for health care and the employers would probably have to raise pay (increasing their costs), so in some sense they may be complicit in keeping a group of the foreign worker population 'off the books'.

So maybe companies employing foreigners (actual workers, or trainees/interns) should be sharing responsibility for insuring compliance by their workers. (This is maybe analogous to the US, where companies don't want to be responsible for assessing the immigration status of the people they hire.)

By the way, I'm older and retired, so I don't pay pension premiums, I collect payments. (Boy, what a leech!) The Japanese government system (国民年金) is not at all generous, but given the inputs (¥16k/month?), I guess that's to be expected. From what I read, there are more Japanese deadbeats than foreigners, tho again, payouts are based on your record of payments, so people in either group aren't getting something for nothing.

On the other hand, my health insurance premiums were ¥63,000/month this past year, tho set slightly lower at ¥55,000/month for April-May-June, until the reset at the end of June. Fingers crossed on what that will be...
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