More and more initiatives are built for Ukrainians, and finally clear and concrete support programs are announced by the Japanese Immigration Bureau.
As of April 19th, 2022, 664 Ukrainians arrived in Japan.
The financial support for Ukrainian refugees offered by the Immigration Bureau can currently be separated into the following three categories:
1. While staying in a temporary housing
- ¥1,000 cash per day for those older than 12 years old
- ¥500 cash per day for those younger than 11 years old
(not including food costs)
2. Lump-sum payment
Mainly for buying furniture and home appliances to start settling in Japan.
- ¥160,000 for those older than 16 years old
- ¥80,000 for those younger than 15 years old
3. Covering living costs “after” leaving temporary housing
After leaving temporary housing, the following amount will be paid based on the public assistance system.
- ¥2,400 for those older than 12 years old (¥1,600 for family member)
- ¥1,200 for those younger than 11 years old
As of now, the government announced that this financial support will continue for the next 6 months. More support initiatives will hopefully be announced before the 7th month.
Japan is famous for not accepting refugees, but this time the Immigration Bureau announced a specific residential status type for Ukrainians fleeing their home country.
Most likely, Ukrainians will land in Japan with a temporary short-term visa (3-months), and they can change the status to a 1-year Designated Activity within Japan.
Designated Activity (1 year)
Designated Activity status is categorized into over 46 types. Each designated activity visa status has different criteria, but for Ukrainians coming to Japan
- they can work
- they can enroll in the national health insurance (70% of medical fees will be covered)
Ukrainian people newly entering Japan under Designated Activity status (1-year) are eligible to enroll in national health insurance as soon as they become residents in Japan. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare notified all municipalities as of April 20th, 2022 to comply with this control.
While waiting for your residence card — a special ID certificate
Acquiring a residence card could take a bit (1–3 months), and without having a residence card, financial institutions usually reject applications to open a bank account in Japan.
However, the government is planning to provide the financial support via a bank account based in Japan, and is deciding to provide a special ID certificate.
Bank Account — Japan Post Bank changing rules
Opening a bank account tends to be a headache for all people visiting Japan from abroad, and banks are very reluctant to open a personal bank account for those who recently arrived in Japan. For the past few years, the majority of financial institutions have been accepting applications for opening a personal bank account for those who
- live in Japan for over 6 months with a residential status
- have a residence card and its expiry date must be 3 months later than the date you submit the application to a bank
- Japan Post Bank application
When I visited Japan Post Bank 2 years ago, they could not accept the application to open a personal bank account from my friend without having a record of residing in Japan for over 6 months, but it is changing.
The good news is, Japan Post Banks are easing the bank account opening process nationwide nowadays.
What you need:
- residence card (expiry date must be 3 months later than the date you submit the application to a bank)
- copy of passport
You can find the website for application here (English version).
You can prepare your applications online (20 pages in total), and the process will be mostly via email.
There will most likely be red tapes between the process of offering financial support and transferring the cash to those in need, and I am hoping Japan Post Bank can flexibly adjust its rules and collaborate with those who really need the accounts.
This development is a bit surprising, and it is commendable that the Immigration Bureau did not use a scheme for refugee status to deal with Ukrainian people fleeing from their country. This may secure a safer status for them, given how many refugees could actually get their residential status.
Let's hope this movement will push for a positive change for transforming the current scheme of handling refugee status applications in Japan.
What each of us can do is so little, but together we can accumulate information and support to build a support community.
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