As a salaried employee in Japan, part of your monthly salary goes to your pension through the Japan Pension Service. Even foreign nationals employed in Japan are enrolled into the national pension system. There are companies that may provide private subsidized pension schemes for their staff but this is usually in addition to the one from the government.
While many foreigners typically choose to settle in Japan for a long time, there are those who pursue careers in the country and then elect to go back to their home countries after a significant period. The most popular question among foreigners opting to go home after working in Japan is: what happens to their pension contributions?
We have outlined how to go about cashing in on your pension contributions so you don’t have to keep on wondering. Read on for more.
Japan National Pension System
Japan’s pension system is a contribution-based setup that you sign into before you start working for a Japan-based company. Private and social insurance schemes are included into this system. Your company may provide a separate pension scheme but this is considered in addition to rather than to replace the national pension system.
All residents in Japan that are between 20-59 years old are required to opt into the national pension system – although exemptions will apply to certain individuals such as dependents and spouses who are already covered under their partner’s plan. The monthly contributions are pretty much fixed regardless of nationality. Foreign nationals contribute the same amount as Japanese citizens.
Unlike Japanese citizens, however, foreigners working in Japan have the option to withdraw their pension contributions in lump sum when they leave the country permanently.
Are You Eligible For Lump Sum Pension Payments?
Lump-sum withdrawal payment (dattai ichijikin / 脱退一時金 ) is an option available to foreign nationals who have participated in a National Pension scheme during their stay in Japan. This system allows you to recover the contributions deducted from your pay during the course of your employment. To qualify for lump-sum withdrawal payment of your pension, you need to satisfy the following requirements:
- You do not hold a Japanese citizenship
- You have made National Pension Insurance or Employees’ Pension Insurance payments as the insured principal for at least 6 months
- You cease to be a resident of Japan at the time of application
- You did not apply to receive pension benefits in the past (e.g. Disability Allowance
You need to submit your application within 2 years of leaving Japan in order to be eligible for the lump-sum withdrawal pension payment.
How to Apply
- Nominate a tax representative. As you will likely be overseas when you file the application for lump-sum withdrawal pension payment, it is important to appoint someone – e.g. your supervisor or HR representative. Fill out the Tax Representative Declaration Form and submit this to the local tax office in person or online.
- If you want to get the process started before leaving the country, submit the “moving out notification” at your local city hall where you are formerly considered resident. The municipal office will then provide you with official documents stating you have registered to leave Japan.
- Upon exit from Japan, submit the Application for the Lump-Sum Withdrawal Payments (National Pension / Employees’ Pension Insurance. This has to be done within 2 years of your departure from Japan.
- Nominate a foreign bank account that will receive the pension payment remittance. This will likely be a bank account that you have opened or you currently have in your home country. For this portion, the application form requires your bank’s stamp for verification purposes.
- Always have your Pension Handbook with you because you will need this to fill out the application form.
- Mail the application form including all supporting documents required to process your request. You can send the application to the following address: Social Insurance Operation Center, Takaido-nishi 3-5-24, Suginami-ku, Tokyo 168-8505.
It is important to make sure that you have all supporting documents sent out along with your application form to get your request processed. Incomplete applications are usually returned to the sender and you’re going to need to repeat the same process so it is wise to get it right the first time.
- Photocopy of your passport – copy of the page that shows the date of your final departure from Japan and the page that shows your name, date of birth, nationality, resident status and signature.
- Bank details – includes your bank’s name, branch, address, account number and the name on the account. Note that the nominated bank account has to be under your name. You may nominate a bank located in your home country. Alternatively, a Japanese bank is also accepted as long as the name on the account is registered in Japanese Katakana letters.
- Pension handbook – take note of your Basic Pension number so you can make inquiries about your application later on.
International Agreements on Social Security Contributions
Japan has social security agreements with a number of up to 14 countries and is continuously in talks with other nations on this subject. The agreements basically does away with double social security coverage, putting your total contributions through the course of your working life in one pool, thereby affecting your pension payout.
For citizens of the following countries, pension contributions made in Japan can be added towards their social security payments when they go back to their countries:
- Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States
The scope of Japan’s agreements with these countries varies. For instance, totalisation is not part of the treaties that Japan signed with South Korea and the UK. It would be wise to check out how the social security agreements for your country apply to you.
How Much Do I Get?
The amount you will get when you apply for lump sum pension payment depends on how long you have contributed and the category you belong to. There are two types of pension contribution categories – one for business owners and self-employed individuals who are actively opting into the pension system and another for employees who are enrolled through their companies.
For Category 1 contributors, the refund will be based on how many months they have contributed into their pension and the month of the last contribution. Meanwhile, those under Category 2, the refund is calculated by multiplying the individual’s average monthly earnings with a rate that is based on the number of contributions made into the scheme and the month when the last payment was made. A detailed payments table can be found in the application form for Lump-Sum Withdrawal Payments.
Unlike Japanese nationals and permanent residents, foreign nationals working in Japan can apply for lump-sum pension payments when they elect to leave the country. Depending on the social security agreements that your home country has with Japan, you may either choose to add your contributions during your stay in Japan towards your social security contributions back home or you can apply for Lump-Sum Withdrawal Payment.
After leaving Japan permanently, you have 2 years to apply for lump sum pension payments. Check out the Japan Pension Service website for more information on how to process your application.
Lump-Sum Pension Payments FAQs
I hold a permanent resident status in Japan. Can I still apply for lump sum pension payments?
As a permanent resident, you remain a citizen of your country so you do not necessarily lose the privilege to apply for lump sum withdrawal. Lump sum withdrawal of pension payments, however, applies only to individuals who choose to leave Japan permanently. To be eligible for this scheme, you will need to relinquish your permanent residency.
What happens if the insured person dies before he can process his lump sum pension withdrawal?
In the event of a death of the insured individual, his dependent spouse, children, parent or sibling can apply and receive the payments on his behalf.
How do you claim for tax refund on pension payments?
You will need to nominate a tax agent who is still living in Japan to process the refund on your behalf. You will need to submit a report to the tax office where you are formerly resident. Ideally, you will want to complete this before leaving Japan but you may also nominate a tax agent on the same application for tax claim.
How long will it take to get a tax refund on my pension payments?
It usually takes 2-6 months for tax claims to be processed.
What happens if I lose my pension handbook?
Your handbook is important in processing your lump sum pension payments so you need to keep it with you at all times. In case you lose it, however, you will need to contact Japan Pension Service for the appropriate application forms to report the loss.
How long does it take to get my lump sum pension withdrawal?
Lump sum withdrawals are typically processed in 6 months. The Pension Service will be contacting you every step of the way to update you on the status of your application.