Reader BJ is having trouble communicating with his landlord.

“I have tried to go through the real estate agency, but they will not help me. Is there somewhere I can go to get help — someone that can help me negotiate with my landlord?”

There are a number of places you can go for help. First try your local ward office. Ask for the “jutaku kosha.” This office will assist you with legal issues, talk to your landlord and hopefully help you work out any problems. They tend to be good at dealing with issues at the local level, and can usually arrange for someone to translate.

Bar associations are another good option. There are two main associations in Tokyo. You can find them at www.niben.jp and www.toben.or.jp. The Tokyo Bar Association has a Legal Counseling for Foreigners Office that is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1-4:30 p.m. You can make an appointment by calling (03) 5367-5280 and the service is available in English, Chinese and Japanese. There is, however, a charge of ¥5,000 for the first 30 minutes of your consultation, with an extra fee of ¥2,500 per half-hour after that. The association also provides a service for those who cannot afford that fee (call (03) 3383 5300 for details).

In addition to help with rental problems, they can assist with visa, nationality and marriage issues, as well as with civil, labor and criminal cases.

Do readers have any suggestions as to where to go for help? Please let us know.

Counseling services

DR has been in Japan for a while and really needs to talk to someone.

“I am having a tough time with work and relationships and am afraid to talk with those close to me as it might get back to my work. Is there anywhere I can go to get counseling in English? Is there anyone that can help me with this? It is really tough when you need to talk but there is nobody to talk with.”

One longtime resident of Japan with a great deal of experience in this area is Dr. Jim McCrae, president of International Mental Health Professionals Japan. He also runs a private practice. You can reach him on (03) 3983-0582 or at jmcrae@gol.com. You can also find a directory of mental health professionals at www.ihhpj.com.

You could also try the Tokyo English Lifeline. Call (03) 3498-0231 for their counseling service. The service is not free and payment works on a sliding scale. For more information, check out www.telljp.com.

Our Japan Helpline — at www.jhelp.com — can also put you in contact with local counselors, particularly in areas where there are no professional counseling services available.

Driver’s license renewal

“I used to live in Kashiwa in Chiba and renewed my Japanese driver’s license there three years ago, at the ‘menkyo’ center in Nagareyama, near Kashiwa,” writes FR. “I moved to Tokyo (Nerima Ward) last year and a couple of weeks ago I received the notice to renew again from the Nagareyama center. But now that I live in Tokyo, can I renew at one of the centers in Tokyo, or do I have to go back to Nagareyama?

“I have a demerit point so I can’t renew at the Shakujii police station here in my part of Nerima.”

While your driver’s license will come from where you first took the test, you can renew it at any driver’s license center. If you are in Tokyo, the closest is in Samezu, four stops from Shinagawa on the Keikyu Line. The telephone number is (03) 3474-1374. When you get out of the station, just follow the people — there is always a constant stream of people heading from the station toward the driver’s license center.

Depending of course on whether you have had any accidents or point deductions, you might have to sit through a short educational class. Hope that helps!

Ken Joseph Jr. directs the Japan Helpline at www.jhelp.com or on (03) 000-911. Send questions, queries, problems and posers to community@japantimes.co.jp

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