The primary role of the Association of Foreign Wives of Japanese is to offer support to its members. Many of us are finding ourselves more in need of support than ever, overwhelmed with how the Covid19 pandemic has reshaped our lives in ways we could not have imagined only a few short months ago. There are constant updates on the disease itself, changes to hygiene protocol, travel restrictions et cetera, et cetera, it is nearly impossible to stay on top of all the developments. In order to help you get through the pandemic, back in February we offered advice on how to Stay Healthy on the blog (updated research shows that wearing masks does offer some protection!) and in March we told you how to Navigate Clinics and Hospitals in Japan. This month we want to make sure that you get the money the Japanese government wants to give you.
Municipal governments have started to send out special fixed benefit (特別定額給付金) payments of ¥100,000 per person as directed by the national government to help households weather financial difficulties caused by the current pandemic. All residents of Japan born prior to April 28th, 2020 are eligible to receive the handout. This includes foreigners, as long as they are registered in the Basic Registration System (外国人住民に係る住民基本台帳制度) as of April 27th 2020. Foreigners who were registered with the Basic Registration System in the past but have recently entered Japan and have not been registered yet, but will be registering again, are also eligible. The children of those who are applying for refugee status are eligible even if they had not been registered in the Basic Registration System prior to April 27th, due to being on a short stay. It is not dependent on income and those receiving pensions, welfare or unemployment benefits are also eligible for the payment. Basically, everyone is eligible for the special payment other than foreigners who are not registered, either due to being short-term visitors of Japan or those who do not have legal status. If you have not applied yet, now’s the time!
The applications and administration of the payments will be handled through local municipal offices, so there will be some discrepancies in the timing of the application period and the application form. There are two ways to apply for the special payment. The first way is through an application form (特別定額給付金の申請) sent via post from your municipal office to the household; the second way to apply is online through the MynaPortal using your My Number Card. The head of the household (戸主) will receive the payment for all of the beneficiaries in the home, so each household will only receive one application. For the postal application you will need a copy of your ID, such as your My Number Card, drivers license or health insurance card, and a copy of the information page of the bank book of the account in which you wish to receive the funds. If you wish to apply online, you will need the My Number Card and its password, a document to verify the bank account the funds will be transferred to, and a smartphone capable of reading your My Number Card or a computer with an IC card reader. Although application forms will vary somewhat by municipality, the Gaijinpot Blog has provided a step-by-step breakdown of a typical form with English translations, along with tips for applying online.
Most municipalities have already started processing applications and the deadline for applying for the special payment is three months from the date that your municipality started accepting postal applications. The time it takes for the money to appear in your bank account will also vary by municipality. Please visit your municipality's website for information about their application deadline and processing times.
Take caution against scams related to the special payment, do not give out any of your personal information, bank account information or pin numbers by phone or email. No part of the application process requires you to reveal information via phone or email.
For more information on the special fixed benefit you can consult a special webpage set up through the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications or check out this article in The Japan Times.
Besides the special fixed benefit for individual residents of Japan, there is also a Subsidy Program for Sustaining Businesses (持続化給付金) of up to 2 million yen for a corporation and 1 million yen for small businesses and individual business proprietors, including freelancers. For more information and to apply, see the Sustainable Benefit website (Japanese) set up by the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry or check out their FAQ on the Subsidy Program for Sustaining Businesses webpage.
In spite of the plastic barriers hanging in front of cashiers all over the place, ubiquitous masks, and social distancing stickers on floors and chairs in public spaces, life seems to be getting back to normal little by little around Japan - a new normal, at least for now. We here at AFWJ hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.