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The pension system, inheritance taxes and health care in one’s declining years may not exactly be the stuff of scintillating dinner party conversation, but nevertheless, they are topics on which you’ll want to brush up if you’re contemplating staying in Japan for the long haul. Journalist Wilhelmina Penn has called Japan home since 1973, and in this one slim volume she has collected a treasure trove of useful information that readers will want to dip into again and again.

To their credit, Japanese government agencies have recently been stepping up their efforts to make more information available in English for the international population, but it is frequently hard to navigate and often ambiguous in nature. Going to see an agency in person can be just as frustrating, when answers can vary depending on whom you happen to speak with that day. Penn takes the guesswork out of things with her clear and concise explanations, laced with subtle twists of humor in just the right measure.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
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