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Archive for the 'Money' Category


Is it ok to have a ’sleeping’ Japanese bank account?

Question: “I’m wondering whether I should keep my Japanese bank account open in Japan. The banks in [my homr country] are terrible. If you leave $50 there for a year, it’ll disappear from account keeping fees and in fact you’ll be in debt, rather than having earned any interest. Is it the same in Japan? Do you recommend keeping open or closing my [Japanese] account?”

Answer: No problem-o!
Japanese banks have no charges for inactive accounts and by law they cannot close an account with only 100 yen in it for a decade!! I have at least five “sleeping” accounts since different employers have forced me to get them for direct payment of wages. Last August, I just “found” one Japanese bank account with 230,000 yen that had been sitting there since 1989. I withdrew 229,000 yen from it and now it’s sleeping peacefully.

Posted by Taro in General, Money | 5 Comments »


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“Is it getting harder to find and hold on to jobs in Japan if you are a foreigner?”

Q: What’s with people getting fired? Is the job market shrinking or what? I knew that Mr X. used to work at one of my group companies and he does not work there any more…. Is it getting harder to find and hold on to jobs in Japan if you are a foreigner?

A: Yep.
Every year it’s harder to find work in Japan for English speakers. Japan Inc is focusing on China and not USA any longer. Japanese to English translation market is 50% smaller than it was in the pre-“Bubble” years (before 1992) In addition, for the past decade Japanese public policy has been to fire all fulltime university instructors who are foreign. However, Mr X may have been canned for his instability not economics.

Taro Tip #223: Always ‘act” insanely nondescript and boring in Japanese companies to keep your job or to get one.

Posted by Taro in Business, Money | 4 Comments »


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Do I have to pay for NHK TV?

Damn! All television viewers in Japan are “asked” to pay a monthly fee for NHK (Japanese Public Television) services, but but foreigners just ignored it because there was no penality for not paying till now….

NHK to press for subscription fee payments through summary court
japan today > japan > national Friday, October 6, 2006 at 05:00 EDT
NHK Chairman Genichi Hashimoto said Thursday that people who refuse to pay their viewer subscription fees will be pressed for payment through summary courts if they fail to pay by the end of this month…. Viewers’ property may be seized if they do not follow summary courts’ demand for payment.

The deal is that because of the fraud and money scandals of NHK Company, many Japanese people are very angry and stopped paying their fees. The national broadcaster—think of it as Stalinist/JapanInc version of the BBC—was fast going bankrupt. So now NHK is going to start busting down door and forcing people to pay. NHK service fees: 14,910 yen to 40,430 yen per year ($127 to $343 USD) WARNING! THIS IS OLD INFO….

Q: Do I have to pay for NHK TV?
A: Nope.
Like the BBC in Great Britain, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK TV changes fees of everyone with a TV in Japan. Unlike the BBC, Japan’s fees are not “manditory” since NHK does not have a way to force people to pay with fines or arrest. NHK goes door to door to collect—often with amusing results when they try to collect from foreigners who cannot be bullied or shamed into paying like the pavid Japanese.

Remember: NHK—Just Say No.(c)

However, note that the new digital TV will not show NHK unless you pay the fees since new digital signal is scrambled. Also according to the the Japan SAQ: [NHK door-to-door collectors] “are generally very aggressive and threatening, usually sticking their foot in the door so that you can’t close it on them, and somehow giving you the impression that dire consequences will ensue if you do not pay promptly. … (be careful if you have a satellite dish though).”

Total BS TV
1.17 million subscribers refuse to pay NHK fee
According to NHK, there were a total of 201,000 new cases of refusal to pay or suspension of payment of the fee in the June-July period….An increasing number of viewers say they do not want to pay the fee because it is unfair that they pay while many others do not, rather than because of the scandals. There is no penalty for not paying the fee….

Refer also to the previous 3Yen reports: Japan’s NHK public TV is “unnecesary and Boycott NHK! 700,000 public TV subscribers wise up.


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Getting a job in Japan, the easy way

Previously in “Getting a job in Japan, the hard way”, I failed to cover the the best way to come to Japan: O.P.M. ,other people’s money or as it universally called here:
The best way to come to Japan is to be Joining a foreign software company and being sent to Japan on the all expense paid “The Package” for expats is the best. Why live in Japan as an “in-country hire” low-life like me when you can live the fatcat expat life?

The terms for an expat Package traditionally include fully paid Western-style housing and all private school fees, business-class travel home annually, a car, cost-of-living benefits of an additional 20 to 40 percent over local pay levels. For example, an expat friend of mine working for a global electronics company (GE) at middle/lower senior management receives a $3,000 USD housing allowance per month, of airfares to home country, three weeks holiday on top of the numerous Japanese holidays, full medical/dental/legal, and private school fees for their children.

“Ideally” if you want to come to Japan, you should try to be hired at a non-Japanese company with a large Japanese division and then get transferred here to live as royalty. The greater the Japanese presence the non-Japanese company has, the more chances you have to transfer here on the all-important Package. Occasionally, a smaller company will have a gaijin director position available but you would have to have inside connections to know that and generally the smaller the company the higher the level of Japanese is required.

I am saying you need to work for non-Japanese companies because Japanese companies don’t like to transfer folks from the Real World to Japan except for specific projects of less than six months. The game industry has the greatest amount of cross-border transfers most other industries use in-country hiring of very F’ed gaijin and “astronauts” who commute to Japan for a couple weeks or months at a time. Also Japanese company do not want to hire a foreigner sight unseen…and it’s a pain in the ass to come to Japan without work (and often a visa) just to interview for a job. Besides, Japanese companies don’t provide the Package, bah.

Posted by Taro in General, Money, Visa | 37 Comments »


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Getting a job in Japan, the hard way

The real “Answer” to getting a job in Japan is: “Don’t.”

Ok, I’ve warned you. Now please go ahead and buy any of the books about getting a job in Japan and read it cover to cover. The old Bible of thousands of FG wannabes for the past 20 years, “JOBS in JAPAN” and most others likeHow to Land Jobs in Japan advice to come here cold and semi-illegal to find a job.

Then visit the web forums like GaijinPot for a reality check.

Pleeeease do your homework. Don’t email me and ask for the magic answer to getting a job in Japan. After 20 years, I haven’t the foggest idea what the special trick is. Don’t take this personally; I simply do not know. I fell into my job by mistake.

So what is it like to find a job in Japan? Here’s a few of my random thoughts….

Most J-companies do NOT wanna hire a Pig-in-Poke. It’s tough to be hired overseas in your home country to work in Japan. The Bad-Case scenerio is it’s gonna take you 6-to-3 months to find job and more than $5-10K to get your own apartment, phone, fridge, etc. The Good-Case scenerio is it’s gonna take you 4 weeks and $1,900. The Best-Case scenerio does not exist.
Please note many major Japanese companies will not sponsor visas (your soon-to-be-bucho/manager is forced to privately sponsor you).
Come to think of it, most of the long-term gaijin came here under some sponsorship such as a job transfer, Japanese education, martial arts, JET program, etc.

Me? I got headhunted here but I was told to “wait” for 3-4 months. I scrapped by as a semi-illegal worker in a bunch shitty jobs to survive. Then had to do the Korean visa run on at my own expense to get my work visa. It was DAMN TOUGH. I ran out of money ($3,500 spent in 9 weeks). Without leeching off my Judo teacher and a friendly mama-san who frequently gave me “taxi money” I would never have “made it”.

BOTTOM LINE: Go for it! What do got to lose but your sanity?

Posted by Taro in General, Money, Visa | 2 Comments »


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Can I open a bank account in Japan to exchange yen-to-dollars?


I will be receiving cash gifts in Japan during an upcoming trip (wedding party!) I’m certain that the envelopes will all contain YEN, but I will be immediately returning to the U.S. afterward. How can I avoid fees on exchanging large amounts? Can I open a bank account in Japan that is accessible at a U.S. ATM machine?

As previously covered on the 3Yen, it’s not hard to open a Japanese bank account. The obvious place to go for access to ATMs internationally is CitiBank Japan. However, this isn’t gonna be a big savings for you…..

As far as “avoiding fees on foreign exchange” — there’s just about no-way Jose. (See a exception below.)
However, fees do differ. The Japanese Post office does cheaper wire transfers. Mitsubishi-Tokyo Bank offers good rates to walk up customers.
Lloyds “Jet Set Japan” has:
“The service allows you to use your local ATM and any of the 28,000 across Japan to transfer money home. There is a flat fee for the service, of 2,000yen per remittance. It costs nothing to register for the service.”

Normally I just use the Japan Post Office’s international money orders (”giro”) for amounts under $3,000.This requires paying 780 yen and filling out this longish form sometimes several so I fill them out in advance. They will give up a paper money order or wire your money directly into a foreign bank account ( you need to know the routing number, account number, addresses, branch names, etc.)
Of course if you’ve got 20 million yen or more to spare….

Standard Chartered makes Tokyo retail banking debut
Japan Times, July 7—
Britain-based Standard Chartered Bank on Tuesday opened its first
branch for retail customers in Japan, aiming to gain a foothold in an
increasingly focused market. The branch, located in Tokyo’s Marunouchi district, targets
customers with assets worth some 20 million yen or more by providing Japan’s first no-commission foreign-currency accounts ..more….

Posted by Taro in General, Money | No Comments »


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I need a Japanese bank account so my company can transfer my salary.

Q. I need a Japanese bank account so my company can transfer my salary.

A. Anybody can open a Japanese Bank account. There a several different kinds of accounts (mostly concerned with savings) so be sure you get a normal account a so called Futsu Koza.

Simply fill in the application form, it may be bilingual but if not get one of the lobby helpers to guide you. You will need two forms of ID. Your passport is best and one other. Deposit some starter cash and you will receive a bank book with your account number in it. It’s that number your employer will need along with the name of the branch when they transfer your salary.

Thinking ahead, if you are living for some time in Japan get yourself a simple personal stamp with your name on it, so called Hanko. It’s not necessary but it saves a lot of time when doing business in Japan.

After opening the account the Bank will post on to you your ATM cash card.

Remember it’s not a credit card. Applying for and getting a credit card from Japanese Bank requires more qualifications and more paperwork.

Posted by Steve in Business, General, Money | 5 Comments »


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Do I have to join the National health system in Japan?

Q. Do I have to join the National health system in Japan?

A. No. The Kokumin Hoken system is not compulsory, although many people will tell you it is. You can ‘opt out’ by going to your local ward office or town hall and signing a form to that effect. It may require quite a bit of explanation but you can ‘opt out’ if that is what you want to do. Caution, you may have to pay a back fee for the time you have already been in Japan and were, probably without you knowing, automatically enrolled in the system. After ‘opting out’ you are solely responsible for paying for all and any medical expenses in Japan. Even a simple visit to the dentist can be very expensive. So think carefully.

Getting medical treatment (including dental) in Japan is made much simpler by being a member of the Kokumin Hoken system and the charges are not so high so for most non-Japanese keeping up their membership even if they have private insurance is a good decision. One extra benefit, the Kokumin Hoken membership card is considered a very acceptable means of identification if you don’t have a Japanese driving license and you don’t feel comfortable producing your alien registration card.

Read all about the Kokumin Hoken and all other taxes paid in Japan here.

Taxes in Japan


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