Unpopular Immigration Guideline No. 8 Deleted
What's this all about?
Last year, the Ministry of Justice announced that a list of new Immigration Bureau guidelines would go into effect beginning in April of 2010. One of those guidelines would have required visa applicants to provide proof of enrollment in Japan's social insurance system as a prerequisite for application approval. Standing on the principle that foreign residents should be given the right to choose which type of health care (public or private) they participate in because of their unique expatriate needs, the Free Choice Foundation marshaled significant opposition to the pending legislation. As a result, we have succeeded in persuading the Justice Ministry to 'delete' Guideline No. 8. It has been officially deleted and the Ministry's website now reflects the change.
But doesn't the law state that everyone must enroll in the social system?
Yes, it does. But, just because something has been backed by the power of law does not automatically make it a good law. Nor does it mean that it can't be revised or improved. Furthermore, even if the law is suitable for citizens, that does not automatically make it good for everyone else. It therefore should not preclude the possibility of choice. Are we to accept everything that government says without questioning whether or not there might be a better solution?
At times it may seem as though government is nothing more than a huge bureaucracy that is incapable of truly understanding the needs of its citizens or its foreign community. But, this is not always the case. Sometimes all that is necessary is for the community at large - through the use of simple diplomacy - to make the bureaucracy aware of the problems it is facing.
Furthermore . . .
Forcing expatriates who have been living in Japan for any length of time to suddenly join the public health care system would mean that they would have to pay up to 2 - 5 years in back premiums for the National Health Insurance or 2 years of back premiums for Employees Health Insurance. Both employers and employees must equally share in the back premiums. Apparently, the government did not take this into careful consideration when drafting the new immigration guidelines. However, due to considerable opposition from Free Choice, it's supporters, and foreigners suddenly faced with the dilemma, the government finally realized that issuing negative points against visa renewal applicants because of non-enrollment in government health insurance was a serious mistake.
Visa applicants will still be asked to present their insurance cards, but . . .
While the Immigration Bureau will still ask visa applicants to present their health insurance cards at the application window, the deletion of Guideline No. 8 means that not doing so will incur no adverse marks or actions against an application. The Bureau 'may' encourage enrollment by passing out brochures on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare; however, foreigners who do not comply will be subjected to no negativity toward their visas. In fact, the revised guidelines makes it very clear that visa applications are no longer 'linked' to insurance.
How did our efforts contribute to the deletion of Guideline 8?
We brought the matter to the attention of more than 300 lawmakers at both the local and national levels. One of the biggest breaks came after the Free Choice Chairman addressed the Kobe City Assembly about the issue. He was able to garner a majority of Assembly votes in favor of sending a communique to the National Government expressing strong concern about the intent of the guideline. The Foundation also initiated an online petition drive, the results of which were submitted to the government in January. Additionally, we had numerous communiques with both the Justice and Health Ministries that were officially conducted through the Cabinet Office.
Want to know more about this? Click here to see how the guidelines have changed.
Many non-Japanese residents took part in our petition for the free choice of public or private health care.
A voice for the rights of non-Japanese and naturalized citizens. . .
While the right to choose one's health care is of major concern, Free Choice understands that there are also numerous other issues of importance to expatriates in Japan. We intend to bring those concerns to the public eye and consciousness; to strive for the rights of non-Japanese and naturalized citizens with regard to issues that affect us. All residents of Japan - whether natural citizen or otherwise - have a right to be heard; indeed, Article 16 of Japan's Constitution guarantees the right of all people in Japan to petition the government for the enactment, repeal or amendment of laws, ordinances or regulations. With this Constitutional article in mind, the Free Choice Foundation will peacefully and respectfully exercise its right to petition the government on matters of importance to foreign residents here. Our petition with the Justice Ministry was obviously very successful and we applaud them for their understanding.
But we must move forward. As one Free Choice supporter mentions:
- If the world is a global village, then it belongs to us all and we must share the joy of living together devoid of discrimination on account of being a foreigner. Emmanuel Kwarteng, Gunma
Please join our new multi-choice Petition. . .
The Petition form above allows you to join your voice with ours on a number of issues of importance to Japan's international community. Check the issues you wish to 'Declare your Support' for and leave unchecked those you don't. For instance, you may wish to support dual-citizenship and the banning of fingerprinting at airports while not supporting any of the other issues. What you choose to support is solely your free choice.
Or, if you have a concern that is not specifically identified on the petition form, please feel free to include it by clicking 'Other issues' and typing your issue/comments in the appropriate text box. If we feel that it is warranted, we may even (at our sole discretion) add it to the form. Please see our Terms of Service and Privacy Statement for more information.