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Skin care, leases and illegal tax

by Angela Jeffs

Skin problems

NWW asks “where can I find an English-speaking dermatologist or specialist clinic in Tokyo area?”

Check out Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Web site for information on doctors and clinics:www.himawari.metro.tokyo.jp/

Click English, then search by location (ward) or nearest station.

Or call AMDA on (03) 5285-8088, asking to speak with an adviser of this particular international medical information center in English. (You can also obtain advice on health problems, insurance, payment of medical bills and other aspects of the medical system in Chinese, Korea, Thai, Spanish, Portuguese, Farsi and Tagalog.)

AMDA has a lot of information, and once they know your problem can better advise where to go. In Kansai, the number for AMDA is (06) 636 2333.

Lease renewal

Amy asks about the law pertaining to leases for rental units. “I have been renting an apartment in Tokyo since 1996, with a contract which has been renewed every 2 years, though some years, the lease arrived a little later than usual.” This summer she received a letter from the owners saying that they would not be renewing the lease. They want Amy to vacate the unit to accommodate their daughter.

“I was under the impression that leases are automatically renewed (especially after 8 years). They have been harassing me for months now. What are my rights?”

After the law changed three years ago, there are now basically two types of legal contract. The new law states that owners can cancel a contract any time they like, if tenants agree on signing. Since Amy has been in her apartment 8 years, her contract comes under the old law; the two now run side-by-side. This states that an owner must renew the contract automatically, unless a bad tenancy can be proved. Otherwise the tenant has a right to live and stay in that house.

Many people — Japanese and non-Japanese — do not understand this difference. Amy should ask her real estate agent and ask for support. If the agent cannot help or the owners prove uncooperative, best to find a lawyer.

Begin to calling your embassy and asking for advice. Maybe staff there can recommend a lawyer. If not, the Tokyo Law Association on (03) 3581-2201 has legal staff who speak English. Or take advice from the Foreign Women’s Lawyers Association. E-mail: fwla@gol.com. City offices also offer legal advice, I understand.

Whatever the outcome, personally I would cut my loses and move. Life is too short to suffer the stresses and strains of the type of harassment you describe. You need a new start.

Illegal status

Mike is one of those “illegal aliens” working here in Japan. To make his story short, he has been working here in Japan for almost 8 years and like his fellow illegal workers, every time he receives his salary, tax has been deducted. He knows this tax money goes into the pocket of his boss because as an illegal worker he is not listed with the Bureau of Internal Revenue or at his local City Hall.

He fears this kind of theft is commonplace for illegal workers in Japan. “If you could help us to stop this kind of corruption, it might boost tax collection and help the economy.”

Mike suggests that illegal workers be allowed to pay the monthly salary tax direct to the office of tax revenue or city hall. Since payment would mean being identified, he suggests a law that somehow gives illegals amnesty in order to pay their taxes. “How about a special working permit, if not a visa, that makes us legal?”

As things stand, payment would mean identification, and that means trouble. However, the issue is a serious one. As the native population ages, Japan is going to need more and more foreign workers, so something must be done. What solutions do you have?

P.S.: For tax problems in general, call Tokyo Tax Office’s English language line on (03) 3821-9070. The staff are extremely helpful.