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February 03, 2010

Government withdraws rule linking visa renewal to health insurance

japa_flag.jpgLast year, the Ministry of Justice announced that a list of new Immigration Bureau guidelines would go into effect beginning in April 2010. One of these guidelines would have required visa applicants to provide proof of enrollment in Japan's social insurance system as a prerequisite for application approval. This guideline has now been withdrawn.

The Immigration Bureau may still ask visa applicants to present their health insurance cards, and those who do not have one may be given a brochure that encourages them to enroll in government insurance, but not doing so will not affect the renewal of their visas.

The campaign to get the guideline withdrawn has been led by the Free Choice Foundation. On their website, they say: '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.'

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