Shakai Hoken Law Changes 1 October

We just wanted to let you know that the as of 1 October, enrolment for Shakai Hoken (Employee’s Health & Pension Insurance) will be made easier.

Please keep your eyes open regarding shakai hoken enrolment eligibility.

Current Law (basically put)
Enrolment mandatory for those working at employers with 501+ employees who work 20+ hours per week.

For those working at employers without 501+ *employees, enrolment is at 30 hours UNLESS there is a workplace agreement allowing everyone working 20+ hours to be enrolled.


Maternity and Child Care Leave Online Seminar

Are you planning to have a family or already have a child on the way? Then this seminar is for you.

The General Union will be holding a zoom seminar on Sunday, 27 June at 7:30pm discussing all things related to maternity and child care leave in Japan.

Topics include:

  • Leave rights
  • How to register your pregnancy
  • Lump sum childbirth payment
  • Maternity leave eligibility and benefits
  • Childcare leave eligibility and benefits
  • What happens if the birth is early or delayed
  • How to register the birth of your child with the Japanese Government
  • And more..

If you would like to attend RSVP your attendance here.

Download flyer for friends and colleagues.

Everything You Wanted To Know About Not Paying Pension

pension attack 00As three wise monkeys once said: "See no pension, speak no pension, pay no pension"

The topic of pension (and pension contributions) is one that tends to attract strong opinions - much to the dismay of people who would rather not think about it at all.

However, like it or not, the pension system is here to stay - so here's everything you ever wanted to know about not paying (kokumin!) pensionbad time


When Is A 45 Hour Week Actually A 29.5 Hour Week?

"Dear General Union. I work for a dispatch company. My contact states that the hours which I must be available for work are "from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday to Friday", which is a 40 hour week. However, my company says that I don't work enough for them to enroll me in shakai hoken. What's going on?"

Unfortunately, the flow of time is convoluted in the English teaching industry...


From 25 Years To 10 Years: Check Your Pension Status!

The partially amended Pension Insurance Act became effective on October 1st, 2016. Due to this change, the minimum payment period for eligibility of pension allowance was shortened from 25 years to 10 years as of August 1st, 2017. It is estimated that the number of people who are immediately eligible is around 640,000.

For more details, the official English/Japanese leaflet from the Japan Pension Service can be found here: [Japan Pension Service Leaflet]


Dear General Union: Shakai Hoken Questions

As you might imagine, the General Union tends to receive a lot of email enquiries from members and non-members alike.

As many of the replies that we give contain information that's useful for everyone, we thought you might be interested in this e-mail about shakai hoken enrolment, as well as our reply.


Dear General Union,

I'm a teacher in Osaka who is currently enrolled in the Kokumin Kenko Hoken system. I'm interested in getting Shakai Hoken because I've just got married and my wife earns less than one million yen per year.

My question is this...


Don't Want Shakai Hoken? You May Want To Think Again...

As you might have heard, there has recently been a reduction in eligibility requirements for shakai hoken (Employee Health and Pension Insurance; EHPI) and shigaku kyosai (private school health and pension insurance). Now, in workplaces with over 500 enrollees, you can be enrolled with just twenty hours of work per week with one employer.

While many part-timers are pleased with this change, some part-timers (who, for many years, had to make alternate arrangements) are wondering whether this change really benefits them.

Unexpectedly, this has gotten to the point where we are now getting questions about ways to reduce working hours in order to avoid being enrolled...


Changes to Pension Laws - from August 2017

We'll be giving you a better English update in the coming weeks, but the long awaited change to the number of years needed to qualify for a pension has been passed in parliament.

From August, 2017, the 25 required years (there was an exemption available for some people for the period after 20 years of age, and living outside of Japan) will reduce to 10 years.


Will Years Of Pension Non-Enrollment Come Back To Haunt You?

We were all young once (and some of us still are!), but it's never too late to deal with pension problems.

Today, we're going to examine the case of a teacher - we'll call her "Joy" – who, after twenty-five years of service to her employer, found that she was going to take a big loss to her future pension earnings…

First, let's quickly look at what a pension is, and how you qualify for it.


Shakai Hoken Laws are changing in 2016. How will you be affected?

Do you have shakai hoken? Do you want it? The General Union has been fighting for its members to get shakai hoken for years, but there is a game-changing update to the law coming into effect on October 1, 2016. How will this affect you? Check the changes and know your rights!


How To Save Money On Pension Premiums

Health insurance, city tax, income tax, sales tax, pension insurance, apartment rental, car rental, utility bills, Abenomics...

It seems that the harder that you work, the more that life wants to take your money from you.

If you're not enrolled in SHAKAI HOKEN (Employee's Health and Pension Insurance), and you're voluntarily paying for KOKUMIN NENKIN (National Pension System) coverage, you're faced with the very real prospect of having even less money in your bank account at the end of the month than a lot of other people do!


GU court victory against gov't over insurance to have major impact

On 20 March at 1300, the Tokyo District Court ruled on the case of a General Union member who sued the Japanese government in an important test case regarding eligibility for enrollment in the Employees Health and Pension Insurance (shakai hoken). 

You can get more information on the case here and an abstract here, before going on to read a short summary of this very important decision below.


General Union vs Gov’t of Japan health and pension insurance ruling set for 20 March

A decision in a case filed against the Japanese government in 2012 in the Tokyo District Court, regarding the state’s failure to properly monitor enrollment in the health and pension scheme, will be out on 20 March.

While the above link will tell you the story of the suit against the government, many don’t know about the union’s long history battling for health and pension rights for foreigners, part time, and irregular workers.


Shigaku Kyosai - Are you covered?

Many teachers, even part timers, working in private elementary & high schools, colleges & universities are enrolled in shigaku kyosai (a form of shakai hoken) which consists of both health insurance and pension. In English it is called Private School Mutual Aid. If you haven't already, please check out the English language website. Shigaku Kyosai website


Scandalous! GU sues gov't over health & pension insurance non-enrollment

“Scandalous” is the only word that comes to mind. At a time when the government has raised the consumption tax to deal with future social security needs, millions of workers across the country are denied the right to be enrolled in shakai hoken (health and pension insurance) by the very government that foresees future shortfalls.


Health & Pension Insurance. So who can't be enrolled?

In the General Union’s opinion, if you are not in one of the below categories, you must be enrolled in shakai hoken by your employer. This consists of both a health insurance & pension component. Your employer must pay at least 50% of the premiums.


Health Insurance & Your Visa - Government backs down

The Japan Times recently reported that the visa renewal guideline requiring proof of enrollment in 'legally' acceptable health insurance will be removed. The union has not yet been able to confirm this with ministry officials. However,it appears that this stipulation will now read, “"In order to promote signing up for social insurance, we will ask (foreign residents) to present their health insurance card starting April 1. We will not reject renewal or change of visa status for failing to present the card." Even though you will have to show proof of enrollment in health insurance it appears this should not prevent you from renewing your visa.


Teachers quietly win health and pension rights

Different companies, different approaches

Do you and your coworkers wrestle with ways to improve your workplace? Have you ever considered coming to the union but are worried about the right approach? Sitting down with a union organizer is the best way forward.


Our Story

The General Union has been fighting for the rights of our members to join health and pension. These are their stories.

Interested in telling your story, too? Send mail to union(@)

Video, audio, and written formats are all acceptable.


Answers: Health Insurance & Your Visa

Question 1. FALSE

Regardless of any immigration guideline, all residents twenty years of age or older (with very few exceptions) must be enrolled in a public health and pension insurance plan. If you are not enrolled you face the possibility of being forced into the substandard National Health and Pension Insurance system (Kokumin Kenko Hoken & Kokumin Nenkin).

Read more on the issue: Don't let your employer pull a fast one on you!


Making the pension system work for you

Many are told that Shakai Hoken/Shigaku Kyosai is a waste because you won’t see your money back.The system is still not perfect, but there are ways to make sure that you see some benefit from your pension payments.


Don't let your employer pull a fast one on you!


Know your rights. Know your obligations. Know your employer's obligations!


All registered residents of Japan must be enrolled in one of the appropriate social health care and pension insurance systems: Employees’ Health and Pension Insurance (Shakai Hoken), Private Schools Mutual Aid (Shigaku Kyosai), or National Health and Pension Insurance (Kokumin Kenko/Nenkin Hoken), as well as some other public schemes.



City seizes bank account to pay health insurance premiums

An ALT, after having received a letter from city hall demanding two years of back payments for Kokumin Kenko Hoken (National Health Insurance), contacted the Fukuoka General Union (FGU).

What was troubling about this case was that until now, the teacher had never had any problems with insurance. His ex-employer, following the law, had enrolled him in Shakai Hoken (Employees Health and Pension Insurance).


Refund Of Pension Payments Upon Leaving Japan

When leaving Japan, foreign nationals are able to apply for a refund of their pension contributions.

The amount of refund varies depending upon the exact pension system you were enrolled in and the length of time you were enrolled.

The refund systems for kokumin nenkin (National pension through your city hall or ward office) and shakai hoken/shigaku kyosai (Employee's Health and Pension Insurance) are very different.


Health & Pension Terms Glossary

Here are some terms to help you understand health & pension insurances in Japan. Please contact us if you have recommendations for other terms that can be added.


GU meets with Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance Agency

13 July 2009 (Tokyo) - GU officers in conjunction with our national union centre, National Union of General Workers (NUGW), and other member unions, NUGW Tokyo South and Fukuoka General Union, met with officials from the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance Agency.


Time is running out


Shakai Hoken Survey

The General Union is asking members to complete this survey about their health and pension insurance. The information is needed to help in our forthcoming negotiations with the government over the issue. The survey can be found here.


Private Schools' Mutual Aid Society (Health and Pension Insurance)

15 people gathered at Murphy's Irish Pub in Osaka on January 19th to look at and discuss the Private Schools' Mutual Aid System - shigaku kyosai - the health insurance and pension programme for workers at private high schools and universities. In an animated discussion we looked at the difference between the three main systems in Japan; National Heath and Pension - kokumin kenko hoken and kokumin nenkin, supposedly for self-employed people and students, Employees Health and Pension - shakai hoken - for workers in private sector companies and Mutual Aid Systems for public sector workers and those in the private schools sector - shigaku kyosai.


Open Discussion - Health Insurance and Pensions General Union is holding an open discussion on health and pension issues.

The forum is intended for those working in universities, colleges, high schools and elementary schools. It will specifically look at shigaku kyosai.


IMPORTANT: PENSION RECORDS Have you received a blue or green envelope from the Social Insurance Agency (社会保険庁)?

In light of the recent problem of thousands of pension records not being identifiable, the Social Insurance Agency, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labour have started contacting people who are currently enrolled or have been enrolled in kousei nenkin or kokumin nenkin to verify their records.

The Social Insurance Agency computer system does not use the alphabet! How many different pension records do you have because your employers used different katakana to enroll you? Are your pension records correct? How many times have you changed jobs?



GU Supports Hankyu Tour Guides Over Health and Pension


Pension Refund Increases

The Social Insurance Agency has recently announced a small increase in the amount of refund available when leaving Japan. This increase is applicable to people who paid their last instalment in, or prior to, August, 2005. Indications are that refunds will gradually increase.


Talks With Shakai Hoken Officials

Almost a year ago, the General Union launched the Shakai Hoken Campaign (health & pension rights). On 6 February, National Union of General Workers General Secretary Endo Ichiro and General Union Chair Yamahara Katsuji, met again with the Social Insurance Agency (SIA) regarding the next step for Shakai Hoken. At this time it appears that the horrible reaction from the eikaiwas themselves (see below) will probably force the agency to make enrollment for all new teachers as of 1 April mandatory. Stay tuned for more news about this in the coming months.


Hundreds of English schools probed over foreigner benefits exploitation

Government inspectors have begun a nationwide inspection of about 750 operators of mostly English language schools amid speculation that it has become standard practice not to enroll foreign teachers in social insurance programs.


Government agency to investigate illegal non-enrollment of teachers in health, pension schemes

The Social Insurance Agency is to investigate Japan's largest English-language teaching companies over a suspected failure to enroll their full-time foreign employees in the employees' pension and health insurance schemes.

Japan's largest "eikaiwa" chain, Nova, is already being probed by the Social Insurance Agency and could see itself slapped with a multibillion-yen bill for missed payments.


Additional information