When the Japanese government started eyeing one-off 100,000 yen cash payments to the public to help offset some of the economic strain caused by the outbreak of the Covid-19-causing new coronavirus it’s perhaps fair to say that many foreigners reacted with the question, “Will I be eligible?”
The initial mood appeared skeptical, despite longer-term expats in Japan likely having been a recipient of the 12,000 yen doled out in 2009 during the global financial crisis that hit after the collapse of the Lehman Brothers the previous year.
As of April 30 though, some municipalities in Japan have begun to deliver to their residents the government’s 100,000 yen virus payment and we now know that most foreigners resident in Japan are eligible recipients.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications foreigners in Japan eligible for the payment are those who are registered under the Basic Resident Registration System as of April 27, 2020.
Basic Registration what?
Indeed. The inclusion of Japan’s foreign residents into the Basic Resident Registration Act began in 2012 as the government, realizing an increase in their number, sought to give municipalities a hand in providing the same basic administrative services to foreign residents as they already were to Japanese nationals.
Foreigners legally residing in Japan for more than three months who are included by the Basic Resident Registration are as follows, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications:
– Medium to Long-Term Residents
– Special Permanent Residents
– Persons granted permission for temporary refuge or provisional stay
– Persons who may continue to stay transitionally in Japan by birth or those who have lost Japanese nationality
While more comprehensive (and not to say, “official”) details can be found on the ministry’s homepage, to put things in the simplest of terms, if you’ve gotten, by legitimate means, a Residence Card or Zairyu Card (aka “gaijin card”), you’re most likely eligible for the 100,000 yen virus payment.
Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications homepage (Basic Resident Registration System for Foreign Residents): https://www.soumu.go.jp/main_sosiki/jichi_gyousei/c-gyousei/zairyu/english/index.html
How to get your 100,000 yen one-off coronavirus payment
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has produced guides to what they are calling the “Special Cash Payments” (although most of us won’t see them in cash form) available in a number of languages. PDF guides can be downloaded from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications homepage:
Guide to Special Cash Payments
Reassuringly we are told that, “the information required for the application is kept to a minimum.” What follows is a summary of the key points listed on the ministry-produced guide…
While some municipalities have already begun accepting applications then, start dates will be decided by each municipality. Applications should be made within three months of the start date.
Application is, in principle, via mail or online in order to help prevent any further spread of the new coronavirus.
Payments will be made by bank transfer (although in the case that you don’t have a bank account, it seems like payments can be made over the counter at your ward / city office).
Bank transfer is by household — it seems like applications will be sent to whoever is registered as the head of the household (if you’re living solo, that’s you, likely the same if you’re living in a share house situation) who will then detail the rest of the recipients on the form (partner, spouse, dependents e.t.c) and take payment of the 100,000 yen for each person in a single, lump-sum transfer.
At the time of writing, application forms for the 100,000 yen payment look like this: Got to sample application form on the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications homepage…
So, Japanese-language only, for now.
When applying by mail a copy of your driver license, My Number Card, or health insurance card is to be stuck to the back of the form to verify your identity. While it isn’t stated on the guide, presumably a copy of your Residence Card will also work.
Applicants will also need to provide a copy of their bankbook or cash card, or a printout of an online banking service (with account numbers, account holder name, banking institution visible) in order to facilitate the transfer of the payment — these are not required if you’re making direct-debit “furikomi” payments for water and other utilities from the same account.
Applications for the 100,000 yen one-off payment can be made online by holders of a My Number Card. Now, we should all have our own “My Number,” and we should all have the sorry-looking bit of paper (that looks like some sort of homemade ID card) upon which it is written. This is not to be mistaken for a My Number Card. One has to actually take steps to apply for this, rather than it having simply been issued. In short, if you’re unsure whether or not you have a My Number Card, the likelihood is that you don’t. Make your application by post.
Online applications are to be done via the MynaPortal site. As far as we can see, this operation isn’t available in English. Get started via the buttons under 特別定額給付金の申請 – “application for special fixed benefit.”
When can I expect my application form and what will it look like?
Despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe having aimed for payments to be distributed in May, reports have already emerged that this looks like it could be difficult for many municipalities to achieve as they busy themselves with processes to contain the spread of the new coronavirus in their own districts.
A website has been created by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in order to help people with the application process. At the time of writing it was available in Japanese only. Again at the time of writing, a page was being prepared to detail the application status by municipality. Find it here: https://kyufukin.soumu.go.jp/ja-JP/cities/
With depressing predictability, attempts at acts of fraud exploiting Japan’s 100,000 yen payments have already been reported, these include email messages explaining that payment will be made via certain cell phone carriers.
The guide to the payments produced by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications issues a warning that the government and municipalities will never ask applicants to use an ATM or request service charges relating to the one-off payment. The ministry also warns not to click on URLs or suspicious emails, or open any attached files.
Enquiries regarding the 100,000 yen payments can be addressed via a toll free number — Special Fixed-sum Cash Benefit Program Call Center (open weekdays and weekends from 9:00 – 18:30) — but no word on whether or not the people answering the phone can handles inquiries in languages other than Japanese.
As always with such matters, definitive information about the procedures regarding how to apply for your 100,000 yen virus payment should be sought from officials.
If you’ve already begun the application process, help out other foreigners living in Japan and share your experiences in the comments below.