The Japanese pension system is mainly composed of national pension insurance (kokumin nenkin) and employees' pension insurance (kosei nenkin). All residents of Japan between the ages of 20 and 60 years old, including foreign residents, are required to enroll in the national pension plan. Visit the Japan Pension Service's website for details. You can also call them with any inquiries.
National pension system
The national pension system aims to provide a common "basic pension" to all residents in Japan. There are three types of basic pension: basic pension for the disabled, basic pension for the bereaved and basic pension for the elderly.
The basic pension for the disabled is paid under certain conditions when a pensioner becomes disabled due to illness or injury.
The basic pension for the bereaved is paid to a pensioner's dependents with children or their children under certain conditions when a pensioner dies.
The basic pension for the elderly is payable in principal to a pensioner at the age of 65.
The following information explains more about the basic pension for the elderly:
- You need to be enrolled in the national pension plan and have paid premiums for 10 years or longer to be eligible for the elderly basic pension.
- If you pay premiums for at least 10 years, you will receive the pension payment whether or not you live in Japan at the age of 65 (the payment is sent to your place of residence).
- You need to make a claim to start receiving pension payments after you turn 65 years of age. Submit a claim form called "kokumin nenkin kosei nenkin hoken rorei kyufu saitei seikyusho" (claim for determination of eligibility for old-age pension payment under national pension and employees' pension insurances) to a local pension office to confirm your eligibility.
In addition, a non-Japanese national who lived in Japan and paid the national pension premiums may be eligible to receive a lump-sum withdrawal payment (dattai ichijikin) if he/she permanently leaves Japan and meets the following conditions:
- Does not hold Japanese nationality;
- No longer resides in Japan;
- Was enrolled in the national pension plan or employees' pension plan (having paid the premiums of the pension plan) for at least six months;
- Has not received any pension payments including a disability allowance (shogai teatekin); and
- Mail the claim form and necessary documents to the Japan Pension Service Headquarters within two years of your permanent departure from Japan.
Necessary forms are available at local pension offices and pension consultation centers. The amount you may receive depends on the length of your enrollment.
Enrollment/Payment of premiums
The enrollment procedures of the national pension are handled at the municipal office in the ward (or city, town or village) where you reside. If you join the employees' pension plan or the mutual aid association at your work, you are automatically enrolled and do not have to apply on your own.
Once you are enrolled, you are responsible for paying premiums. You may make payments at banks, post offices and convenience stores with your statement of payment. You may also arrange a bank transfer from your bank/post office account. Payment through Internet banking and credit card is also available.
If you have difficulties in making payments of the pension insurance premium, you may apply for an exemption program called "hokenryo menjo seido" to be exempted from the payment requirement. In addition to full exemption and the partial exemption, the program is also available for those who are younger than 30 years of age and want to delay the payment without penalty (jakunensha nofu yuyo seido). Application forms are available at local pension offices and the national pension section at local municipal offices.
The forms can be downloaded from the Japan Pension Service's website for printing at home. Mail the completed form along with your "kiso nenkin bango tsuchisho" (notice of basic pension insurance number) to the local municipal office in the area you reside.
Employees' pension insurance (kosei nenkin)
Employees' pension is mainly for those who are employed by private business corporations. Contributors to the employees' pension are entitled to future pension payments and also to the use of various welfare facilities.
When you are enrolled in the employees' pension at work, you are also automatically enrolled in the national pension; you are paying extra premiums in addition to the national pension premiums. Therefore, those paying the employees' pension premiums will receive more pension payments in the future.
Like the national pension, non-Japanese nationals who are enrolled in the employees' pension for a certain period of time are eligible for the lump-sum withdrawal payment when they permanently leave Japan.The amount receivable is up to 36 months worth of pension contributions.
Enrollment/Payment of premiums
When you are employed by a business corporation, you are automatically enrolled in the employees' pension scheme. The premiums are generally deducted from your salary.
If you become unemployed, you are required to report it to the pension section of the municipal office in the ward (city, town or village) where you reside.