Foreigners of Japan – Get your FREE MONEY!!!

With the passage of Prime Minister Aso’s landmark free money law, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has published a rough guideline on how to get your hands on that sweet, sweet cash.  Each local government will apparently provide details on how to receive funds, but please note the following:

  • ANYONE with an alien registration card can receive the 12,000 yen.
  • It looks like all foreigners have to apply in person (UPDATE: or by mail, depending on how your town does it), even if their wife/husband is the head of household.

This is your right by law, so be sure to line up and check with your local municipality’s website to get it!

The following is a rough translation of the official announcement, for your reference.

Payment of Cash Handouts

You will either be notified by your local authorities with specific details on how to receive the funds. [tr: Feel free to contact them yourself if you don’t see anything in the mail!]


Local municipalities are currently in the process of determining the specific preparations for handing out the payments.


Purpose of policy

To help deal with the residents’ uncertainty in this economic downturn, this policy’s objective is to support the residents’ livelihoods and to contribute to regional economic measures by providing payments widely to the residents.

Persons eligible for payments / who must apply

Those who meet the following conditions as of the reference date (February 1, 2009) are eligible to receive payment:

1) Persons registered on the official residency registry network (Juki Net)
2) Persons registered on the official alien registry (gaikokujin touroku genbo) (only illegal aliens and foreigners on short-term visas are exempt)

The applicant and recipient shall be the head of the household to which the eligible persons belong (foreigners must each apply and receive funds separately).

Payment amount:

12,000 yen for each eligible person
(Persons 65 or older or 18 or younger as of the reference date will receive 20,000 yen each)

41 thoughts on “Foreigners of Japan – Get your FREE MONEY!!!”

  1. Great post! I was really hoping someone would write up something like this.

    It looks like all foreigners have to apply in person, even if their wife/husband is the head of household.

    Wonder why they have this requirement. Maybe because they can try to extract back taxes or other unpaid bills? “Here’s your 12,000 yen, but you owe us 40,000 for insurance – pay up!”

  2. Nice info, thanks.
    I think I read that homeless people are not eligible either, having no address. I doubt that there are too many homeless foreigners reading this blog though.

  3. Oddly, as long as they have a valid alien card, even homeless foreigners can show up at the last place they registered to pick up the cash. In that case it would be easier than some homeless Japanese.

    I think the requirement to apply in person is simply due to the fact that they arent listed on the resident database. If they are using this as an opportunity to snag scofflaws I am sure that will make the news.

  4. Giving out a paltry sum like this as economic stimulus is both ineffective and obviously nothing more than legal vote buying by the LDP. That said, I’m not going to turn down my free money, especially after having to go pay back taxes last week.

  5. Where Adamu and I live, everything is being done by mail. You apparently have to have a bank account to receive the payment by furikomi, and *might* also need to be getting mail at your registered address.

    A lot of homeless people will be screwed if they are actually required to receive the payment or the application at their registered address.

  6. Good call! I have updated the post to reflect that possibility.

    Adachi-ku has made the news for encouraging recipients to give the money “to charity,” something I fully intend to do. The Adamu Student Loan Repayment Fund is in dire need of 12,000 yen right now.

  7. Well, it’s about half the money needed to cover my travel fuckup the other day.

  8. I haven’t been in Japan for months, but I’ll still be getting this money, it seems (still have a valid card). This rules.

  9. Well I was planning to show up at the kuyakusho in a fur coat and fedora so I could get a photo with my money when I get it, but if it’s all through the mail I guess I’ll just fill out the form when it becomes available.

  10. Part of the reason GoJ is asking all foreigners to show up in the local authority is because many Brazilians/Peruvians are out of their company apartment after losing their jobs,thus only have temporary residences which usually are friend’s apartments.Which is now becoming a huge issue here in Aichi.

  11. So do foreign children have to apply in person too? Would a family have to make a bank account for them in order to receive their share of the stimulus?

  12. At least under the Adachi-ku guidelines, it looks like they have to apply individually at least by mail if not in person. It does seem odd that EVERYONE with a gaijin card has to apply individually.

  13. I have to look into the case of underaged,for I have my own in the house.But there are many married couples that are broken up within Brazilian community,so “applying in person”formula does have it’s own merit.

  14. i wonder if this includes exchange students (with an valid alien registration card) or is the student visa rather a short term visa?

  15. If you have an alien registration card and a residential visa (any visa that allows you to live in the country, thus NOT a tourist visa) you can get the cash. It is actually possible to get an alien registration card on a tourist visa, so just the ARC itself won’t cut it.

  16. Exchange students with an alien card CAN receive the money! If you need help with the Japanese or getting a hanko seal, ask one of your Japanese friends to help!

  17. Didn’t Joe get an ARC on a tourist visa once so he could buy a cell phone?

    “f you need help with the Japanese or getting a hanko seal, ask one of your Japanese friends to help!”
    I don’t see anything about requiring a hanko. Legally I don’t believe foreigners are ever required to use a hanko, and a signature is equally valid.

  18. Well the service at the local offices is bound to differ since they decide it on their own. Adachi-ku, Tokyo seems to require a hanko, and I’ll use mine so as to not take any chances. I am 99% sure they’ll take signatures from foreigners but don’t really know.

  19. Isn’t there a law that says foreigners can legally use signatures in any place where Japanese must use a hanko? I’ve never actually checked, but it has worked that way in practice in every situation I’ve ever been in. I have a hanko around somewhere I had made, but I’ve never actually used it.

  20. I have been told on several occasions that no, a signature won’t cut it, but that may be mere ignorance of the law.

  21. I originally scoffed at this when it was announced last November, because the amount of 12,000 yen was so much less than the stimulus check I got from the US gub’ment. However, when I did the math, it came out to 44,000 yen for a gaijin, his wife, and their newborn baby. And, as obvious as the reasons may be, that amount is more than the same household got from the US.

  22. Yeah, foreigners have the special benefit of a Meiji-era statute called 外国人ノ署名捺印及無資力証明ニ関スル法律, which simply says that whenever a law requires a hanko, a foreigner can use a signature instead. It’s still on the books, but it isn’t too meaningful because signatures and seals are usually equal under Japanese law anyway–most laws say something to the effect of “signature and/or seal” when the issue of finalizing a document comes up.

  23. Thanks Joe! That’s exactly what I wanted to know. I’ve been told a couple of times that I had to use a hanko, but always managed to get by with a signature in the end.

  24. I still hesitate to categorically tell people they can get by with just a signature just because of the chance there will be some hard-headed local authorities out there who won’t accept. One thing I have noticed is that if you EVER use your hanko with an institution they require it for all transactions/paperwork thereafter. So if you filled out your alien card paperwork with hanko then they might also require a hanko for the cash payments. But again it’s not 100% sure and people should *check with their local authorities* to get the real answer.

  25. Oh and I would also add that if the local authorities try and refuse to pay because of some paperwork technicality, THAT is when you need to bring up Joe’s legal explanation above.

  26. Adamu is right. Also keep in mind that said law is only applicable where a LAW requires the hanko. Your bank, for instance, could demand that you seal payment orders with a solid platinum hanko inked by the blood of minke whales, and this would be OK (Greenpeace objections notwithstanding).

  27. “One thing I have noticed is that if you EVER use your hanko with an institution they require it for all transactions/paperwork thereafter.”
    That’s an important point, and the main reason I’ve avoided using a hanko so far. I wouldn’t ever want to be stuck without it when I needed to fill out some forms.

  28. Thanks for the update. It must be a huge overhead to dish out so much cash in such a way. Surely it would have been far more efficient to just reduce everyone’s tax bill by the same amount?

    I know it does not feel the same… but the net result would be the same.
    It’s just a huge publicity stunt.. but whatever.., I’ll take my cash along with everyone else.

  29. “Also keep in mind that said law is only applicable where a LAW requires the hanko.”

    Now that is a good point. I assumed that banks demanded a hanko as that was the legal requirement for asserting your agreement or whatever, but it seems not.

  30. Does anyone know the exact definition of 短期滞在者, the people here only for a short term stay, because I am under a 1 year college student visa, and as an exchange student an extra 12000yen would be quite helpful.

  31. As long as you have your gaijin card (or the paperwork to show you are waiting for the card to be issued and you have a number), you can get your money. You will more than likely get something in the mail about it, or some other instruction from your local govt.

  32. Just look at the part of your gaijin card (or the stamp in your passport) that says “在留資格/Status of Residence.” If it’s anything other than “短期滞在/Temporary Visitor” you should be fine.

  33. Do you know if I can apply even if I arrived to Japan at 2nd of April, 2009? Is there any condition that you have to be resident e.g. at 1st of March 2009 and if not that you are not eligible? Thank you.

  34. Necro:

    Unfortunately, you needed to be on the alien registry by February 1, 2009. Better luck next economic meltdown!

Comments are closed.