The Mighty YenThe Japanese Government has a system where foreigners leaving Japan, who have been paying into the pension system, can receive back a portion of these payments. This is known as a “National Pension Payment Rebate”, or a “Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment”. After all those hard years slugging it out working in the far east, you deserve to get back as much of that money as you possible can (it’s not like you are going to retire here right?). We have provided a “Dummies Guide” to getting as many of those hard earned yen that you have paid into this country’s convoluted pension scheme put back into your pocket where they belong, this is a must read for all foreigners thinking of leaving Japan soon, or have recently left Japan.

To set the ground rules, this is only applicable to foreigners actually leaving Japan “permanently”, and is a generous loophole. It is mandatory in Japan for all those employed to make monthly pension payments, and for full-time employees of companies it is automatically deducted from monthly salaries (as opposed to contractors who are required to make the payments themselves). However, how many of us will actually be in Japan long enough to receive a pension? (Yeah.. I thought so.)
Many people have heard that this rebate may exist, but due to the difficulties of understanding the Japanese bureaucratic system, as well as language difficulties, coupled with the fact that this is not widely publicized, we at believe that the number of people exploiting this payback system is extremely low (which is exactly how the government wants to keep it mind you).
The Main Point:
Foreigners who have made monthly pension payments can receive back a portion of these payments once they have lost the right to receive such payments, and left Japan. The application for pay-back must be made within 2 years of leaving Japan.
* Note: There are two types of pension systems- the National Pension System (国民年金) and the Employee’s (or Corporate) Pension System (厚生年金). You can receive rebates from either of these systems, however this article will focus just on the National Pension System. Also, this rebate system does not apply to mandatory health insurance, or other social security payments.
The Conditions for Application:
  • You must not be a Japanese citizen (You probably wouldn’t be reading this if you were, but anyway..)
  • You must have been enrolled in and have been making pension payments for more than 6 months
  • Must not have an address in Japan (“Having an address” in Japan is often important for companies and Government agencies to do business with you – See comments below)
  • Must have not already received any pension payments (including disability allowance)
Payment Amounts:
If your last pension payment was made before March 2007, your rebate amount will be according to the following table (click table to see a bigger version):
However, if your last payment was April 2007 or later, things get slightly tricky and the calculation is as follows (click image to see a bigger version):
* The reason for the two different calculations is that until March 2005, mandatory National Pension payments were fixed at 13,300 yen. However from April 2005 the rates were increased, and are planned to be increased each April for the foreseeable future. The current payment amount as of October 2006 is 13,860 yen per month.
The Process and the Tricky Parts (YOU MUST KNOW THIS BEFORE LEAVING JAPAN):
  • You must apply from overseas. The application form is available only at your local city/ward office (市役所, shiyakusho or 区役所, kuyakusho), or online here. It can only be filled in by the applicant. You need to submit your pension booklet (showing pension payments, or the equivalent proof of pension payment issued by your company), a copy of your passport, and bank account details with the application form.
  • The National Pension payment rebate is exempt of the 20% income withholding tax which applies to the Corporate Pension systems.
  • Payment is made into the bank account of your choice. This account can be in Japan, or overseas, and will be made at the exchange rate of the day of payment for overseas accounts.
Further Notes:
Having an Address: Most companies and Government agencies will not do business with you unless you have a registered address. However, this is a loose concept and can work both for and against you.
For example, Japanese securities companies won’t give you a trading account unless you have an address in Japan. If you then leave Japan, all you need then is a friend who is happy to receive mail for you.
To receive your pension rebate, as long as you don’t own property here and don’t put forward any other address, you should be fine.
Aggregated Pension Schemes: Many countries have an Aggregated Pension Scheme Agreement with Japan. This means that applications may receive two countries pensions by summing the enrollment period in each country’s National Pension Systems. Such countries currently include the US and Germany. (France, Canada and Australia are in negotiation to start up similar agreements).
However if you receive a “National Pension System payment rebate”, then 
you will not be eligible for this. Receiving this payment effectively nullifies your enrollment in the system.
For further details, contact your local Ward Office. And good luck!
Related Links: JAPAN Lights and Shadows Full Video Trailer Read the Excerpts Click here