Social Security in Japan

Find out about an individual's obligations and benefit entitlements under Japan’s social welfare system...

Japan has a number of social security systems to provide for the wellbeing of its people, including:

  • A healthcare system
  • A public pension system to provide for the elderly and disabled
  • Support for families including childcare services, child allowance and support for single parent families
  • A financial support system for the poor

The system is overseen by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Pensions are mainly administered by the national government; healthcare by prefectural governments, and welfare by municipal governments.

Social Insurance

Social insurance is a social security system adopted by many employers in Japan; it is a scheme for full-time employees. There are five social insurance systems:

  1. Public pension.
  2. Health insurance.
  3. Long-term care insurance.
  4. Employment insurance.
  5. Work-related accident insurance.

All Japanese citizens are entitled to public pension and health insurance coverage; these are the cornerstones of the Japanese social security system. The health insurance system entitles employees and their families to public medical and dental treatment at 30 percent of the actual cost. It also provides financial cover if wages are lost due to illness or injury (equivalent to 60 percent of salary). Additional benefits include maternity leave and childbirth allowance, and cash benefits after a death, to provide for a funeral. The pension scheme provides benefits to individuals who have paid into the scheme for more than 25 years once they reach the age of 65, or if they become disabled.

People over the age of 40 are also enrolled in the long-term care insurance scheme, and people in employment are covered by work-related accident insurance and employment insurance.

The social insurance system is funded by social insurance premiums paid by everyone insured. The amount contributed depends on an individual's ability to pay. Some further social security systems are directly funded by taxation. An individual whose employer is enrolled in the social insurance scheme has their contribution taken from their salary each month; half the contribution is made by the employee and half by the employer.

National Insurance

National insurance is a scheme for part-time workers, the self-employed and farmers. It is funded by a combination of government funding and member contributions, the size of which depends on their income and assets. Anyone eligible to stay in Japan for a year or more is entitled to register for national insurance. To do so an individual should visit their local ward or city office with their resident card/alien registration card.

Note: the resident card replaced the alien registration card in July 2012 as part of the new residency management system, although the alien registration card remains valid until July 2015.