Japan to launch survey on foreign residents’ insurance payments

Decision stemmed from recent Lower House committee meeting

Japan to launch survey on foreign residents’ insurance payments

Life & Health

By Roxanne Libatique

Japan’s Health, Labour, and Welfare Ministry plans to launch its first survey to collect data on health insurance and pension premiums paid by foreign residents.

According to The Japan Times, this effort aims to evaluate the current and future impact of foreign nationals on the nation’s social security system.

Survey on health insurance premium payments by foreign residents in Japan

The ministry, which currently lacks specific data on these payments, is finalising the survey details and will begin the data collection soon, according to an official from the office of general policy and evaluation.

This initiative aligns with Japan’s strategy to address its labour shortage by welcoming more foreign workers, both skilled and unskilled. It also follows the Lower House’s recent approval of a bill to amend immigration laws, which includes a provision to revoke the permanent residency status of foreign nationals who deliberately evade taxes. This clause has faced criticism from some rights groups, who argue that it is discriminatory.

The immigration law revisions also propose replacing the technical intern training program with a new system that permits foreign workers to switch employers and extend their stay in Japan.

More data needed from foreign residents in Japan

The decision to collect data on foreign residents’ social security payments stems from a discussion in a Lower House committee meeting earlier this month.

During the meeting, health minister Keizo Takemi responded to a query from Yasushi Adachi, a member of Parliament from Nippon Ishin no Kai, acknowledging the necessity for more data.

Adachi pointed out the uncertainty regarding the burden on the social security system from an increased number of foreign residents and emphasised the need to weigh this against the benefits of admitting foreign workers.

Takemi cited a sample survey by the Immigration Services Agency, which included 1,825 foreign nationals who applied for permanent residency between January and June 2023.

The survey found that 235 applicants had missed payments on taxes, insurance, or pension premiums. Of these, 213 had not made pension payments, 31 had missed residential tax payments, and 15 had missed national health insurance premium payments.

An ISA official informed the Lower House committee that the survey did not specify the number or duration of the missed payments.

Takemi acknowledged the survey’s limitations, noting that it only covered a small portion of Japan’s 892,000 permanent residents as of the end of last year. He stressed the need for more comprehensive data collection.

“The breakdown shows a trend – that the payments missed most often are those for pension premiums,” he said, as reported by The Japan Times. “Long-term residents, not just permanent residents, have the right to receive social security services, so it feels only natural for them to fulfill their duties by paying premiums, just like Japanese nationals.”

As of December 2023, Japan had 3.42 million foreign residents, a 10.9% increase from the previous year, according to the ISA. The largest groups by nationality were Chinese nationals (822,000), followed by Vietnamese (565,000), South Koreans (410,000), and Filipinos (322,000).

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