All residents of Japan must pay into the national pension (国民年金) unless they are paying into kosei nenkin (厚生年金) or are a dependent covered by their spouse’s pension.
This is currently unenforced, but the system appears to be changing with the introduction of the My Number system and I predict it will become increasingly difficult to avoid paying.
The Japanese Pension Service has an English language website here. If you are already paying into the pension you can register to see your account online here, including past contributions and predicted payouts.
The minimum pension contribution period will be reduced from 25 years to just 10 in August 2017. This is great news for expats in Japan, particularly those who would not have been able to make the 25 years of payments under the current system.
There is also a system that allows you to claim eligibility (not contributions) for any months between the month you turned 20 and the month you arrived in Japan. Please visit your local pension office for details.
One way to look at the Japanese pension is to consider it a cheap, state-backed annuity. It won’t be enough to meet your needs, but it should provide a minimal safety stop income that you can build on with your savings and investments. It is worth keeping in mind that the national pension also includes disability insurance and benefits for dependents and surviving spouses after death.
If you would like to receive updates from Retire Japan, including new blog posts and announcements, please sign up to our mailing list below. Your information will be kept safely and only used to send you updates. You can unsubscribe at any time using the links in the emails.