Getting your Japanese Pension Refund

As a JET, part of your monthly paycheque goes towards the Japan Pension Service. When you leave Japan, almost all JETs are eligible to have up to 36 months’ worth of this money refunded – which turns out to be a nice bit of pocket money!

The refund is officially called a “lump-sum withdrawal.” After you leave Japan and submit an application, you’ll get back 80% of what you’re owed, while 20% is kept as a “tax” by the Japan Pension Service. To get the final 20% back, you have to designate a tax representative who lives in Japan to file a tax refund for you after you’ve received the first 80%.

Sound confusing? It’s actually not so bad! Here’s how my experience went:

June 2015
I asked my supervisor to be my tax representative. She said yes, so we filled out the “Tax Representative Declaration Form,” which can be found at your local tax office or online. Then, she brought the completed form to my local tax office (the one responsible for my then-current address in Japan).

July 2015
I submitted my “Moving Out Notification” (転出届, tenshutsu-todoke) at City Hall one week before I left Japan.
I made sure that I packed my blue pension handbook (年金手帳) to take with me back to Canada (very important!!!).

August 2015
I left Japan. My Residence Card was voided as I passed through Immigration at Narita Airport. I arrived home in Canada.
I printed off the “Application for the Lump-sum Withdrawal Payments” from the Japan Pension Service website and filled it out (using block capital letters). You have two years from your final date of departure from Japan to send this form to the Japan Pension Service. The form is pretty straightforward (your name, date of birth, address after you leave Japan, etc.). However:

  • For Section 4, nominating a bank account, you will need to visit your home country bank to get their “Bank stamp for verification.”
  • For Section 5, “Your numbers on your Pension Handbook,” you only need to fill out the Basic Pension Number (基礎年金番号, kisonenkin-bangou). This number is found in your pension book on the page that has your name, date of birth, etc.
  • For the section, “Your pension coverage history,” the name and address of your employer is usually the CO who paid you. For example, I was a municipal ALT, so the name of my employer was “(my city name) Board of Education” and the address was the address of the BOE headquarters. I entered this information using English/romaji. For “Work periods … under the National Pension system,” I said mine was from the first day of Tokyo Orientation to the last day of my contract. For “Type of pension system you were covered,” I circled “2. Employees’ Pension Insurance.”

I photocopied three pages of my passport:

  • The page showing my name, date of birth, nationality, and signature
  • The page showing my resident status (my Japan Visa)
  • The page showing the stamp/date of my final departure from Japan

I mailed an envelope (with tracking!) to the Japan Pension Service that contained: the completed “Application for the Lump-sum Withdrawal Payments” form, stamped with my bank stamp; the photocopies of my passport pages; and my blue pension handbook. Before I mailed it, though, I made a photocopy of everything for my personal records, just in case!

*Note: In my case, I left Japan before my contract ended. (My BOE was very kind and let me take annual leave (nenkyuu) for my last two days because I wanted to take advantage of an opportunity that had opened for me in Canada.) My passport showed that my final departure from Japan was August 1, 2015, but I claimed that my coverage was until the last day of my contract on August 4, 2015. I didn’t have any problems.

December 2015
I received my lump-sum withdrawal in the Canadian bank account I specified on the application form. This was the first 80% of the total amount I was due. I also received a “Notice of Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment” in the mail, confirming the deposit of money into my Canadian bank account.

February 2016
I could have done this in December, but I can be a little bit of a procrastinator sometimes. ;)
I e-mailed my old supervisor, whom I had designated as my tax representative back in June 2015, to confirm her mailing address. Once confirmed, I sent my original “Notice of Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment” to her. Again, before mailing, I made a photocopy for my personal records.

Sometime between February – April, 2016
My old supervisor received the original of the “Notice of Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment.” She took it and went to the local tax office that is responsible for my old address in Japan. She filed the tax return for me there.

April 2016
My old supervisor contacted me to tell me that she had received the remaining 20% from the Tax Department. I sent her my current banking information and she wired the money from her account in Japan to my bank account in Canada.

The end!

It’s a long, drawn-out process to get back all 100%, but the end result is worth it – after contributing to the pension fund for 24 months, my total refund was around CDN$6,500! (Of course, the crappy Canadian dollar at the time helped boost that amount!)

If you’re a Returning JET, good luck with applying for your pension refunds! And if you’re a Re-contracting JET, now you’ll have something else to look forward to when it’s time for you to return home. ;)

*I am not in any way affiliated with the Japan Pension Service. The above is just my personal experience with getting my pension refund. Please refer to your CO or the Japan Pension Service for information specific to your individual situation. All links current as of June 27, 2016.

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11 thoughts on “Getting your Japanese Pension Refund

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m not sure if the OP is still reading this, but assuming you were applying for your refund when you asked your question, may I ask if you heard anything from them between your application and the refund arriving 3-5 months later? I’m a bit concerned that I won’t know if my application has successfully been received until I’ve waited six months…

      • Kim says:

        Not sure if this will put your mind at ease, but I forgot to enclose a check to show my bank account number, and they returned my application within a month letting me know. So I would assume if you haven’t heard anything from them, there is no problem. Also, I didn’t use a tracking number as that was too expensive.

  1. ALTWiki.net says:

    Thanks for the great info – getting our pension payments back is something many people need to know about but I think, by the time we’ve done it, we’ve forgotten about our blogs and being back in our home countries we don’t even think about it.
    So, thanks again for the great write up.

  2. Stefanie What says:

    Thank you for such a thorough, well-written, and easy to understand post about your process for the pension system! I’m at the point in my time in Japan where I’m seriously debating going for the lump-sum system or sticking around long enough to get some sort of pension when I turn 60. I’ll be keeping this post in my back pocket in case I decide to do the former.

  3. Jonaliza S.Baguio says:

    good day !!
    may i ask only if when can i received my Lumpsum, i processed it last January, but because i have done some mistakes to filled -up my papers, Japan pension Service sent back my papers last March. and i re-send it again to them first week of April but unti now i did not receive my Lumpsum.How long it will them to process?

    thank you!!

  4. ernestinesatow says:

    Hello, thank you for your article!

    Can I ask: was the tax refund calculated only on your own contributions, or did it tale into account the whole sum (employee+ employer’s contributions)?

  5. maverick says:

    hi, which did come first? thte notice of lump sum withdrawal payment via mail? or the lump in the bank account? thank you

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