A word of advice on guarantors


Reader Harold has some comments on a past query in the Lifelines column.

On the pay-for-guarantor system (Lifelines: Feb. 7), he writes that his present guarantor, who lives in Kansai, is very punctual in responding to Harold’s requests for documents.

However, this was not always the case.

Until a few years ago, his guarantor’s older brother, now deceased, was representing Harold and was often late in providing important documentation relating to their provision of a guarantee.

Once the older brother delayed to the point that Harold was at risk of missing a deadline before which he had to sign for a place.

He saw an ad for a pay-for-guarantor scheme and decided to give it a try in the hope that he might avoid the delays experienced with his previous guarantor.

Apparently the Japanese man who placed the ad was essentially running an agency; he registered names of a number of Japanese individuals who were willing to sign guarantee papers in return for pay.

The system worked well enough for Harold at that time, but the trouble came later, when his regular guarantor (and, after his death, the younger brother) started responding to his requests for representation more promptly.

Harold started getting calls from the agent, who said “once a guarantor, always a guarantor” and demanded repeated payments whenever Harold had to renew his residence status or apartment lease.

The last time he called he threatened to send Harold a “naiyo shomei” letter and take him to court.

Harold did not pay, and, thus far at least, the guarantor has not pursued the matter, but Harold warns people thinking of using a pay-for-guarantor system to be wary of this kind of situation and have it cleared up at the beginning as to what kinds of obligation using the system might entail.

Dual citizenship

A. writes in with his pleasant experience of the dual citizenship system.

He retired from work and lost his SOFA status, so his wife, who is a native Japanese but naturalized American, visited their local immigration office to find out what they needed to do in order to shore up their status in Japan.

Immigration simply instructed A.’s wife to apply for a new Japanese passport and advised her that she could use this passport to leave and re-enter Japan, while using her U.S. passport in the U.S.

Immigration then cleared A. for a 3-year spouse visa, adding only that he should come back and get a re-entry permit before he leaves Japan the next time.

The same day, A.’s wife was issued with a new Japanese passport. Everything, A. says, was done quickly, easily, and cheaply.