Excerpts from an official document "About the Permanent Resident Status" (September 2018)

We have excerpted and translated some information from an official document entitled "About the Permanent Resident Status" issued by the Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice, now the Immigration Services Agency in September 2018. Although it may be old, it suggests a direction for reforming Japan's permanent residence system.


On page 7 of the document, the Bureau presents the main requests of local governments to them.


Source: "About the Permanent Resident Status (永住者の在留資格について)" (September 2018, The Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice)


"Main requests from local governments received by the Immigration Bureau from fiscal year 2017 to August 2018"


"1. Verification of Tax Payment Status


○ In addition to the residence tax payment status, we would like the Immigration Bureau to conduct an examination that includes the payment status of other "municipal taxes" (National Health Insurance Tax, Fixed Asset Tax, Light Vehicle Tax, Urban Planning Tax).


○ Since there are many cases of unpaid taxes for past fiscal years for which tax certificates are not required, we would like the Immigration Bureau to require applicants to submit tax certificates for past fiscal years and confirm the fulfillment of tax obligations.


○ Under the Local Tax Law, the statute of limitations for payment obligations for resident taxes and National Health Insurance Tax is 5 years. For National Health Insurance premiums based on the National Health Insurance Law, it is 2 years. However, the statute of limitations is suspended if there are seizures or other actions due to non-payment. Therefore, we would like you to consider the suspension of the statute of limitations and confirm the payment status for approximately 4 to 5 years. However, since it may be difficult for local governments to respond to inquiries about payment status, we would like the Immigration Bureau to consider methods such as requiring the submission of confirmation documents related to tax payments or certificates stating that there are no arrears.


○ Since permanent residents are expected to continue living in Japan in the future, we would also like the Immigration Bureau to pay attention to unpaid National Pension Insurance premiums. This issue could lead to an increase in the number of future non-pensioners or welfare recipients, in addition to municipal tax payments.


○ We want the Immigration Bureau to conduct regular checks on the payment status of social insurance premiums, etc., for those already granted permanent residence.


○ If there are arrears, we believe it may be necessary to consider actions such as revocation of permanent residency.


2. Information Sharing on the Entry and Exit of Foreign Nationals

When individuals with unpaid taxes leave the country, it becomes difficult to collect the taxes owed. Even if the same individual re-enters the country, local governments cannot confirm their identity, making collection difficult. In addition, since the fact of departure is not always known, it becomes uncertain whether it is possible to collect the unpaid taxes. Therefore, we request the Immigration Bureau to provide local governments with information on the departure of foreign nationals.


3. Others

From the perspective of local governments, there are doubts regarding permanent residents' Japanese language proficiency. A certain level of Japanese language proficiency is necessary for living and stable employment in Japan. Therefore, we would like the Immigration Bureau to make Japanese language proficiency one of the criteria for granting permanent residence and to conduct examinations accordingly."