Career Guide

Social Insurance in Japan For Foreigners

Social Insurance in Japan For Foreigners

Social insurance in Japan is comprised of unemployment, workers' accident compensation, pension and health insurance. Unemployment and workers' accident compensation insurance are a pair collected as labor insurance designed for people under employment.

Pension and health insurance are usually one set and in principle, everybody residing in Japan must take part in the public pension and health insurance system, including foreigners in Japan. Both of pension and health insurance provide a universal coverage by a "two-tier" system. The first tier is Employee Pension and Health Insurance, while other ineligible person must be a part of the National Pension and Health Insurance which constructs the second tier.

Unemployment insurance

This insurance provides financial aid and subsidies for workers who become unemployed until they find a new job or for six months, whichever comes first.


To qualify for this insurance, workers' nationality doesn't matter, instead, workers must be working at least 20 hours per week, and expect to be employed for at least 31 days. However, students attending full-time educational institutions are not eligible to this insurance by the law.Basically foreign workers meeting the above conditions must enroll in unemployment insurance.

National students

For national students taking part in part-time work with the Permission to Engage in an Activity Other Than That Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted from the immigration office, they are allowed to work no more than 28 hours a week.

Considering the above requirements, national students who work from 20 hours to 28 hours per week and are not full-time, which means those going to correspondence courses or night classes of university or part-time high schools, are covered by this insurance.

Foreigners with working holiday visa

There are also a lot of foreigners working part-timely in Japan with a working holiday visa under a Designated Activities residence status whose purpose is to allow young foreign people to take a vacation in Japan but not work.Therefore these people are ineligible for this insurance.

Enrollment procedures

The enrollment is supposed to be taken by the employer with a written notice of acquisition of the unemployment insurance qualification proposed to the Hello Work office. Of course, in the case of foreigners, the information on their residence cards like nationality, residence status and period of stay will be needed.

Workers' accident compensation insurance

This insurance pays benefits to workers or their survivors if the insured worker suffers injury, illness, or death due to his or her work duties or commuting to or from work. All companies that employ even only one worker must provide coverage of this insurance, including both completing the enrollment procedure and paying premiums. Employees are not responsible for payments.

This insurance is compulsorily applicable to all workers, regardless of regular, part-time or daily workers, and Japanese or non-Japanese workers.In the case of dispatchers, this insurance should be covered by the dispatch agency. If companies didn't take the insurance procedure and an accident happened, they will be requested to pay for not only the premiums but also 100% or 40% of the benefits.

Note that illegal workers are also eligible to this insurance.The employer will also be subject to the above payment if an accident occurred to an illegal worker not covered by this insurance.

Pension insurance and health insurance

Pension insurance pays benefits to the insured person or their survivors when they retire from working-lives, become handicapped, or die. Health insurance provides medical coverage for the insured person.All Japanese citizens, permanent residents, and any foreigners residing in Japan with a visa lasting three months or longer are required to be enrolled in either Employee Pension and Health Insurance or National Pension and Health Insurance.

Employee Pension and Health Insurance

An employment-based insurance designed for people under employment and their dependants. According to the Japanese law, the following companies or establishments,which are called Compulsorily Cover Establishments, are obliged to take part in these two insurances:

All incorporated companies or representative offices which has 5 or more employees regularly and falls under the specified kinds of businesses such as manufacturing, construction, financial insurance business and so on, and public officials of the state and local municipal bodies which has employees regularly. The premium will be paid by both the employer and the employee, and the part of the employee side will be deducted directly from the paycheck.

Full-time employees

The above Compulsorily Cover Establishments must cover the Employee Pension and Health Insurance for all full-time regular workers.

Part-time employees

Part-time employees of the above Compulsorily Cover Establishments are covered if their working hours are not less than 75% of those of full-time employees, or if they meet all the 5 conditions below:

  1. Working hours more than 20 hours per week;
  2. Expected to be employed for over one year;
  3. Monthly wage is at least 88000 yen;
  4. Not students;
  5. Regularly work for an establishment more than 501 employees

National Pension and Health Insurance

Designed for all the other people, including people under the age of 75 and either unemployed, self-employed (including contractors), or retired, and their dependants.The premium needs to be paid by the insured person alone.

The above conditions work same for foreign workers. While health insurance is thought to be necessary, pension insurance seems like just a cost without any payback as most of the foreigners are not going to retire in Japan. However there are two special policies for foreign workers' pension insurance.

Social Security Agreements

Some countries have concluded bilateral agreements with Japan to eliminate dual coverage in pension systems and allow enrollment periods in foreign pension system to be counted when calculating eligibility and benefits to be paid.So people from America, China, France, etc. are exempted from joining Japanese pension insurance system.

Lump sum withdrawal payments

Foreign residents who have contributed to the pension insurance for 6 months or more and don't meet conditions to receive benefits, can claim a lump-sum withdrawal payment within two years of leaving Japan. The payment must be requested by the foreign resident himself or herself, and will be paid back after leaving Japan.