10 Things to Know About Japan's 100,000 Yen Special Fixed Benefit Payment
The Japanese government has decided to provide a "special fixed benefit payment" as an economic measure against the spread of the coronavirus, which seems to have no end in sight. This will provide all Japanese residents with a lump sum of 100,000 yen. While the benefit will be provided to current residents regardless of their citizenship, some have criticized the fact that there is no support for languages other than Japanese, either in the government's communications about the application process or the paperwork itself. This lack of support has likely left many foreign residents of Japan feeling unsure of how to proceed. In this article, we'll go through 10 things foreign residents living in Japan need to know about the 100,000 yen special fixed benefit available from May 2020, including a step by-step guide on how to apply.
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10 Things You Need to Know to Get Your Payment!
1. Who's Eligible for the Benefit? Are All Foreign Residents Included?
All residents of Japan recorded in the basic resident register* as of April 27, 2020 are eligible for the payment. This means that non-citizens who have a status of residence (i.e. a valid visa) for three months or more and have registered their residence with their local government can apply. Even if you are currently overseas, you'll still be eligible for the payment if you are currently on Japan's basic resident register.
In principle, the registered head of household will be the recipient for the payment. So, in a family of a wife, husband, and child who all meet the eligibility requirements, the adult registered as head of the household has the right to apply for a sum of 300,000 yen in total (one 100,000 yen payment for each member of the family).
However, in a sharehouse situation where many unrelated people live together, each person would be considered the head of their own household and would need to complete the paperwork individually.
If the person who has been registered as the head of the household is for some reason unable to do the paperwork, a proxy can be nominated to apply for and receive the payment. Keep in mind the difference between those eligible for the payment, and the recipient doing the paperwork and receiving the payment.
* Basic resident register: This is a register maintained by each municipality made up of the residence cards for those living in the area.
2. What Is the Application Procedure?
There are two ways to apply for the benefit, by post or online. The application paperwork for the special fixed benefit payment will be sent by the local government to addresses listed in the basic resident register. The head of the household (or their proxy) will need to fill in the names and dates of birth of their household, as well as their current address, signature, and bank account details, and then send the form back with some proof of identity documents.
Proof of identity documents can be a copy of your driver's license, Individual Number card (commonly called a My Number card), health insurance card, or resident (zairyu) card. You'll also need to include a copy of your bankbook or cash card to provide proof of those details.
In principle, the deadline for application will be three months from the date the local government begins accepting postal applications, so it's advised to put in your application as soon as you receive the paperwork.
Online applications will be available through the Japanese government's Mynaportal. The details you'll need to provide are the same as the postal application, but you'll also need your MyNumber card and an IC card reader (or a phone that supports NFC). While you'll still need to upload a copy of your bank book or cash card as proof of your bank account when applying online, you won't need to supply additional proof of identity documents. So, if you have your MyNumber card, this may be the easiest option for you.
One thing to keep in mind is that you'll also need to provide the pin number (between 6 and 16 letters and numbers) that was set up when you were issued your MyNumber card. Be aware that your Mynaportal account will be locked if you try to sign in with incorrect details five times in a row. To unlock your account, you'll need to contact the municipal government who issued the card to remove the password block and apply for a new password.
If you plan to submit a copy of your cash card to prove your bank details, keep in mind you only need to provide proof of the following details: bank name, branch number, bank account type (regular, checking, etc), account number, and account holder's name (in katakana). In other words, it's perfectly OK to redact other personal information. For example, if your bank's cash card also has a credit card function, you can black out that credit card number on the copy you submit.
3. How Will We Get the Payment?
The payment will be deposited into the bank account of the recipient (the head of household we covered above). Local governments will be the point of contact to help those who don't have a bank account.
It has been reported that the government will not allow for deposits into foreign bank accounts. Local governments should be the point of contact for those issues as well.
4. When Will We Get the Payment?
The dates the funds will be transferred will vary from area to area, but it's expected that less-populated areas will receive the funds before larger towns and cities. Currently the turnaround isn't set in stone, but it has been said that we should expect to receive the funds two weeks to a month after applying. For more information about when to actually expect the payment, we recommend keeping an eye on your local government's website or social media accounts.
5. Be Careful Not to Accidentally Refuse Your Payment!
Beside each name on the application form, there is a check box that reads "I do not wish to receive the payment" (給付金の受給を希望しない). You can tick this box if, for some reason, a member of the household wants to decline the benefit. If no one in your household wishes to receive the payment, you don't need to submit the paperwork at all.
However, every resident of Japan is entitled to this money, so be very careful to double check that you haven't accidentally ticked this box before you put in your application.
6. Is There a Way to Receive Payments Without the Head of the Household Involved?
Whether due to domestic violence or similar situations, there will be some people who have problems applying for their payment because they no longer live with the person who is listed as the head of their household. An exemption has been put into place to assist those who have fled due to domestic abuse when applying for their special fixed benefit payment. Here are the conditions that determine who is eligible for this exemption:
- Have received a protection order (*1) under the Act on the Prevention of Spousal Violence.
- Have been issued a Certificate for the Protection of a Victim of Spousal Violence (*2) from a Women's Counseling Center or similar documentation from a spousal violence response organization (Spousal Violence Counseling and Support Center, local goverment organizations, etc.)
- Have transferred your registered residence after April 28, 2020 (*3) and are eligible for protective measures (i.e. restricted access to your information on the basic resident register.)
If any of the above conditions apply, you can apply to your municipal government to receive the special fixed benefit payment, even if you aren’t currently registered as the head of your household. If you have a child, you will be able to receive their payment as well.
In this situation, if a registered head of the household applies for their spouse or children’s portion of the benefit, it will not be provided to them.
(*1) A protection order is issued by the court under the Act on the Prevention of Spousal Violence in order to protect victims of spousal abuse. This includes restraining orders and orders of expulsion on behalf of victims.
(*2) A Certificate for the Protection of a Victim of Spousal Violence and similar documents may be issued by Women's Counseling Centers throughout Japan. If you have this kind of documentation showing you were the victim of domestic abuse, you will qualify for the exemption.
(*3) This means you have transferred your residence card to a new municipality after April 28, 2020 and have been approved for domestic violence protection measures in your new municipality.
More Information (Japanese): Notice Regarding the Special Fixed Benefit Payment, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
7. Homeless People and "Internet Cafe Refugees" With Residence Cards Can Apply
Homeless people and "internet cafe refugees" (people with no fixed address who sleep overnight in internet cafes) can also apply for the benefit, as long as they are on the basic residence register. If your registration has been removed from the register, you are still eligible for the allowance if you re-register after April 27, 2020.
8. Are People Born Too Late or Died Too Early Ineligible?
The "reference date" for eligibility is April 27, 2020. Members of a household who would otherwise meet the criteria mentioned above, but were born after or passed away before this date, are not eligible. However, those who were born before the reference date, those who died after the date, and those who died on the date itself are still expected to receive the benefit.
9. Do You Have to Pay Tax on the Benefit?
The special fixed benefit payment is specially legislated to be tax-exempt, so you won't need to pay tax on it.
10. If You Have Questions, There's a Call Center for Foreign Residents
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications have set up a multilingual call center as a point of contact for inquiries about the special fixed benefit payment. Eleven languages are supported: Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Tagalog, and Nepalese.
ID Phone and PHS: 03-6436-3605
Hours: 8:30 am - 5:30 pm (Closed weekends and public holidays)
How to Fill Out the Special Fixed Benefit Application Form
Now that we've covered the general background to the special fixed benefit payment, it's time to look at a big hurdle for many foreign residents: the application form. This form is written entirely in Japanese. If you're not confident in reading and writing Japanese, there's a chance you could fill out the form incorrectly. To help avoid this, we'll go through the application form and explain exactly how to fill out each section.
First, let's look at the back and front of the sample form.
On the front, there are sections for information about the head of the household and other eligible payees. All the areas you need to fill out are on this front side.
On the back, there is a place to attach photocopies of an ID card and bank account documentation. There's nothing else on the back you need to fill out.
Date and Municipality
On the upper left hand of the document, there is a section for the application date and the name of your current municipality. The white area is the part you need to fill out.
Example: May 1st, 2020 (Reiwa 2) = 令和2年5月1日
Write the name of your municipality in kanji in the white bottom section. Example: Chiyoda = 千代田
Head of Household Details
Under this, there is a section for the head of the household's name (with furigana), birthdate, current address, and telephone number. You'll also need to stamp the name section after you fill it out. Use your name stamp at the circle with the character "印" inside.
Write your name here as it is listed on your Japanese ID.
Fill in your birthdate here in the order printed: 年 (Year) 月 (Month) 日 (Date).
There is a section here where you circle the name of era for your birth year (Meiji 明治, Taisho 大正, Showa 昭和, and Heisei 平成). If you don't know your birthdate in the Japanese calendar, don't circle anything and simply write the year using the Western calendar.
Copy your address in kanji or romaji. Example: 0-0-0, Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Fill in your phone number between the brackets at the bottom.
The Fine Print
Directly under the name section is a short agreement section for the payment. It reads as follows:
- Your eligibility may be checked against official records.
- We may request related documentation if details cannot be confirmed via official records.
- The municipality will consider the application to be withdrawn if we are unable to complete the bank transfer, for reasons such as incorrect bank details, and are unable to contact the recipient or their proxy within three months of applications being opened.
- Funds must be returned if you also receive an additional special fixed benefit payment from another municipality.
The next section is fields for the payees' name, relationship to the head of household, birthdate, and a field for the total amount being applied for.
In this sample, we can see the left hand side has been filled out with the details of an example family. In the real form, this section will be blank. The check boxes on the right hand side is the section to tick if you do not wish to apply for a benefit. Make sure you don't check this by accident!
If you live alone and are applying just for yourself, you should still fill in your details again here.
If you live alone or are registered as the head of the household, write 世帯主 (head of household) after your name in the second column. If other people are on the form, you will need to write their relationship to the head of the household after their names, too. Example: 妻 (wife), 子 (child)
Again, it's OK to use the Western calendar here if you need to.
In our sample, this section is pre-filled out with 300,000 yen. The real form won't have any numbers. Just add up the members of your family and write the total (100,000 yen per person) here.
Next, we'll specify how we want to receive the payment. There are two options here: you can receive your benefit either via bank transfer into an account you'll specify on this form, or by handing in your application in person and picking up the benefit directly at a later date. On the form, bank transfer is designated as "A", while in-person pickup is "B".
Let's look at A first. There are two sections here. The upper section is for regular banks, while the lower section is for JP Bank, which is the Japan Post bank.
If you have an account with a bank like MUFG or Mizuho Bank, fill in the upper section that reads "For regular bank accounts" (一般の銀行口座の場合). For this, you'll need the bank's name, branch name, type (regular or checking), and account holder's name (in katakana). You can only specify a bank account belonging to the recipient (the head of household) or their proxy.
For non-JP Bank accounts (Top field)
Write your bank's name in Japanese here. The options from 1-7 are the names of different types of banks. Match the kanji in your bank's name and circle the one that applies. Example: For Mizuho Bank (みずほ銀行), circle 1. 銀行.
You'll find this on your cash card or bankbook. Circle either 普通 (regular) or 当座 (checking).
Fill in your bank account number. The form asks you to write right-justified: that is, if there are more spaces than numbers in your account, leave the empty spaces to the left.
Write your name in katakana.
For JP Bank Accounts (Bottom field)
This is the 5-digit number you'll find on your cash card or bankbook that starts with a 1 and ends with a 0 (which are pre-printed on the form).
The form also asks you to right-justify this section.
Write your name in katakana as listed on your bank book or cash card.
Using a Bank Account on File
Instead of filling in your bank account information, you can also ask to use a bank account the government already has on file for you for the following purposes: paying water charges, paying residence taxes, or receiving a child allowance. This account will need to be in the recipient's name. If you check this option, you don't need to attach a copy of your bank details to the back of this form.
If you want to use this option, check one of the three checkboxes that corresponds:
- 水道料金引落口座: The account your water charges are debited from.
- 住民税等の引落口座: The account local taxes (such as resident taxes) are debited from.
- 児童手当受給口座: The account your government child allowances are paid into.
Option B is to hand in your application form directly at your local government office. If you tick this option, you can’t post the form back. This option is mainly for those without a bank account or who live in rural areas without access to banking facilities. You'll need to fill out everything except the bank account detail section, then take your application to the municipal office you are registered under. You’ll be notified when to pick up your money later.
Nominating a Proxy
If you want to nominate a proxy to receive the money, you will need to fill out the final section on the form. From the top left hand corner, the fields read: proxy name (氏名), birthdate (生年月日), address (住所), and daytime contact number (日中に連絡可能な電話番号).
The bottom right hand section requires the name and stamp of the registered head of the household. This acts as their approval that the person listed above is to be entrusted with applying for or receiving the payment.
The bottom left hand side designates the extent of the proxy's permissions. Circle the one that works for your circumstances:
- 申請・請求: Circle this if you want your proxy to be entrusted with the applying for the payment, but not to receive the funds.
- 受給: Circle this if you want your proxy to be entrusted only with the receipt of the funds.
- 申請・請求及び受給: This option approves the nominated person to act as proxy in both applying for and receiving the funds.
Attaching Identity Documents
Now that we've covered the front, let's look at the back.
The top square is for attaching a photocopy of your identification. The bottom square is for attaching a photocopy of your bank account documents. Once you've attached them, send the form back to your municipal office and your application process is complete!
Whether or not you speak Japanese, many people who were born and raised overseas find that Japanese government rules and procedures are different to the ones back home. We hope this guide to filling out the paperwork for the special fixed benefit payment helps make the process less stressful. If you know any friends or colleagues who might find the paperwork difficult, please give them a hand by forwarding this article on to them!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.