Introductions in Japanese

July 2, 2010


How much does it cost? In Japanese

June 10, 2010

Found this site that teaches Japanese.  Here’s the link:

How to Rent Your House in Japan

April 16, 2010

This is only one example.

The basics
House Insurance
Mortgage costs
House Tax
Rental Income Tax
Rental Agency fees
General Maintenance Costs
Renewing Fees

Rental Agency Contracts:
1 month’s rent & 5% of monthly rent. (If unoccupied, the agency will pay for up to 3 months rent.)
1 month’s rent & 7% of monthly rent. (If unoccupied, the agency will pay for up to 6 months rent.)
1 month’s rent & 20% of monthly rent. (If unoccupied, the agency will cover the rent regardless of time.)
Renewing fee of half a months rent.  (The owner gets the other half.)
When the house is empty you don’t have to pay the agency a monthly rate.

Renter Contracts:
Renewable contract every 2 years.  1 months renewing fee.  The renter decides to renew or not.
Renewable contract every 5 years.  1 months renewing fee. The owner decides whether to renew with the renter if they want to continue renting. (10% cheaper monthly rent because the contract is longer ensuring guaranteed income).

Renter’s Costs:
1 Months gift money that goes to the rental agency
2 Months damage deposit
1 Month rent
1 Months rent to renew the contract

Management Duties
Management: Find renters
Maintenance: Call Plumbers, Electricians, etc… and send you a bill
Evicting if necessary: maximum 6 Months

House Maintenance every 15 years:
New Kitchen: 300,000
New Bathroom: 300,000
New Roof: 500,000

Caution: Interest Rate Change
If you are leaving the country or the mortgage is based on you living in the house, you may need to inform the bank where you got your mortgage.  This means that you might have to pay more interest on your mortgage, thus increasing your monthly mortgage costs that will bite into your monthly renting income.

Loop Hole
You can, however, go away on a business trip for 3 years.  (Proof is required.) This means you can keep the same interest rate but you must return after 3 years or your interest rates will change to the higher rate.  As for the period you have to live in Japan after you have left for 3 years before you return back to your home country is yet to be discovered.

How to set up a stock trading account as a non-Japanese

April 16, 2010

Day Trading in JapanChoices
Providing you meet the residency requirements, your first task is to choose a suitable online broker. Below we list a few of the many online brokers available, then look at three in some detail.

However, you should be forewarned that currently NO online broker operating in Japan offers an English language service. So if you want to trade, you’re going to have to at least learn the relevant screens to do so.

Matsui Securities
Taking over a conventional securities firm from his father-in-law in the 80s, Michio Matsui moved Matsui Securities online in 1998 and in the process pretty much started the current online brokerage boom. The company is well known for its aggressive pricing, campaigns and free seminars. Surprisingly, given the prices, they also have a reputation for reliability and user-account protection.

Starting up with Matsui is simple if you’re Japanese. They let you open a personal account without having to affix a seal. On the downside, because of heavy demand, they are slow to authorize accounts, reportedly around 10 to 14 days. If you are not a Japanese citizen, you will have to show your certificate of alien registration. Since Matsui is not prepared to receive inquiries in English, you must be competent in Japanese or bring along a Japanese speaker.

Set-up charge: Free
Per trade charge:
JPY100,000 or less: free
JPY100,000 – JPY 300,000: JPY315
JPY300,000 – JPY 500,000: JPY525
JPY500,000 – JPY 1 million: 1,050
More than JPY 1 million: JPY 2,100

Monex Securities

Started in 1999 by Oki Matsumoto with SONY, Monex is less intense than Matsui and some other online brokers. That makes it an ideal site for beginners. Monex became the largest online broker in Japan after its merger with Nikko Beans in 2005. It has about 650,000 accounts and assets of about JPY2.2trn.

In the end, we chose Monex for several reasons. One was that they are more foreigner friendly than most. Then there is their simple signup process, with straightforward instructions, welcome by those of us with imperfect Japanese. Finally, they don’t require reams of paperwork proving your identity. All we had to do was provide a photocopy of our alien registration card. Turn-around after sign up was quick, less than five working days.

Monex also has a “mini-kabu” club where for JPY10,000 you can start trading stocks in small lots – allowing you to learn the market. They also operate an ECN called PTS (nighttime trading) that lets you trade from 17:30 through 23:59. Another nice thing about Monex is the volume of IPOs they handle – checking day-trader chat sites, they are supposed to be easier to get an allocation for a pre-IPO stock than most other brokers.

Set-up charge: Free
Per trade charge: JPY 1 million or less: JPY1,050
More than JPY 1 million: 0.105% of the total trade

E*Trade Japan
This is Softbank’s online brokerage and is similar in operation to the US site.

That might be enough to sway experienced NASDAQ traders to choose E*Trade when opening an account in Japan. The company is regarded a competent broker with plenty of discount campaigns and pre-IPO allocations. However, its new account processing is reportedly very, very slow, taking on average about three weeks. Also, the home page is quite confusing owing to the information-heavy design. Perhaps this is the influence of the “more is better” syndrome that plagues Yahoo Japan as well.

Set-up charge: Free
Per trade charge:
JPY500,000 or less: JPY472
JPY500,000 ? JPY1 million: JPY840
JPY1 million ? JPY1.5 million: JPY1,050
JPY1.5 million or more: JPY1,575

Making the Application
For the purpose of this article, we decided to subscribe to the Monex Securities service. We went to the application page of Monex’s web site. We filled out the online application form with the help of a Japanese friend, and entered in a fair amount of personal data. Once done, we pressed the send button and three or four days later an envelope containing the sign-up kit arrived by courier. Conveniently, all the information that we’d entered online was pre-entered into the paper forms. All we needed to do was to provide the necessary additional documents and affix our personal seal.*

Deciding Tax Method
In filling out the Monex (or any other online broker’s) application form, one question that may stump you at first is how you want to pay your tax. Basically you have the choice of either Monex paying it for you, or paying it yourself by going to your local tax office and using a self-assessment tax declaration, due by March 15th every year. We chose to pay the tax ourselves, since this gives us the use of our own cash for the entire year, rather than having fees deducted from our Monex account per trade.

As a side note, taxes on profits from the sale of shares are treated differently from regular income tax. You can read more about them at axes2005e_c.pdf. However, in essence, you can treat your trading activities as a mini-business and deduct or carry forward losses to offset against profits in a latter year. Check out the Blue Form method of declaring tax, since this allows you to deduct the costs incurred in earning the income. The Japanese tax system is quite complex, so if you’re not sure what to do, consider doing a consultation at your local tax office before making a decision.

Other Documentation
Once the application kit arrives from Monex, you have to supply identification. For Japanese, this can be a photocopy of a driver’s license or passport. Non-Japanese applicants must provide a photocopy of their certificate of alien registration or certificate of registered matters. If the former, make sure that it is still valid and if the latter, ensure that it is valid for at least another six months.

We stuffed the signed documents into the supplied envelope and mailed them off. It’s as simple as that! A few days later, we received our membership packet, complete with password, guide and rules, and a credit card application – just in case we didn’t have one already.

The final step was to transfer some trading funds into the Monex bank account, the details of which were given in the membership packet. As soon as the money hit the account, using the web sign-on information in the same packet, we were ready to go.

Research References in English
To wrap up, although the purpose of this article is to help non-Japanese with the account establishment process, rather than trading, as a non-Japanese you will soon find that there is a dearth of information about listed stocks in English. Here are a few resources that may be helpful. One technique you can try is to pick up the ticker symbols on the Nikkei site, then go to Yahoo Finance or your brokerage charting page, and plug them in to get more detailed stock charts.

How to get a Japanese Licence

April 14, 2010

This is how to get your Canadian Driver’s Licence changed over to a Japanese Licence.

What you need:

  1. Canadian licence (Must have proof of 3 months on the licence in Canada)*
  2. Translation of your Canadian Licence from JAF. ( About 3500 yen.)
  3. Provincial Letter of Declaration (Example,an original ICBC letter clearly stating when you passed your test in Canada, signed.)
  4. Gaijin Card
  5. Passport
  6. Recent Photo to specific requirements.  (700 yen at the Driver’s Licence Center.)

* I made the mistake of renewing my licence before coming to Japan.  I thought i would come with a five year fresh licence.  This did not go in my favor.  I had to accumulate 3 months on my Canadian licence before they would allow me to have my big bike ogata motorbike licence.  This meant that I went to Canada every summer for 3 years to get my 3 months.  I was going to Canada anyway; nevertheless, it was a hassle i could have avoided.


Tokyo 105-8562 2-2-17 Shiba Minato-ku Tokyo 03-6833-9100
Tokyo Tama, 206-0025 6-24-2 Nagayama Tama-shi Tokyo 042-339-2811

Driving Licence Centers

Fuchu Driver’s License Center
3-1-1, Tama-cho, Fuchu-shi
Phone 042-362-3591

Samezu Driver’s License Center
1-12-5, Higashi-Oi, Shinagawa-ku
Phone 03-3474-1374

Koto Driver’s License Center
1-7-24, Shin-Suna, Koto-ku
Phone 03-3699-1151

Driving Licence Center Procedure

  1. Head to the Foreigners Licence window and hand all the information to the assistant.
  2. Providing the documents are in order, you will then have to line up at another window and pay roughly 5120 yen for a stamp and admin fees.
  3. Then head to the Eye Test area. (You will have to state where the “C” is facing: up, down, right left, etc… you will then have to state which colors you see: red, green, Yellow, Blue.)
  4. Then you’ll have to get a stamp and head back up to the original Foreigners Licence window and hand back the approved form.
  5. The assistant will collect you and bring you to another area to have your picture taken.
  6. Wait in the waiting room for your licence.
  7. Done

The whole procedure can take around 2.5 – 4 hours depending on how busy they are.

Useful Hints

  1. In Japan, you are guilty until proven innocent.  These means some staff will think you`re lying about your licence credentials, dates, times, etc..  If this happens, be nice, smile, and be patient and humble.  Don`t question them.  This will go in your favor and can turn things around if the meeting goes sour.
  2. Arrive early and bring a book and snacks.
  3. Think of it as a cultural experience, no matter how many times you may have to return.
  4. Bring originals of everything, no faxes or internet PDF documents.
  5. The staff are generally computer illiterate, don`t boggle them down with computer terms like pdf, word doc, etc…
  6. The staff take their job very seriously.  It`s almost the equivalent of customs at the airport.  Therefore, never speak until spoken to.  When questioned, use short simple answers.

Useful words

  1. sumimasen – excuse me, i`m sorry
  2. gomennasai – I`m sorry
  3. wakarimasu – i understand
  4. arigato gozaimasu – thank you

Happy driving!

Tales from Tokyo

April 12, 2010

A young female veterinarian student was looking for a place to work full time after graduation. She called a hospital in Hachijoji and was quizzed over the phone of her medical knowledge. After passing the quiz, she was called in for a two day one night stay interview.

When she arrived, she was told that if she was to make a mistake she would have to give one of her pubic hairs to the old owner who kept tally of their mistakes, and pubic hairs, on a white board in the lunch room. She was also told that she would not have a day off for the first month and that she would have to sleep over three nights a week.

The old female receptionist who was in charge of staff when the owner was away gave the impression of being the owner’s wife. However, this was proven wrong when his real wife arrived at the hospital where the three of them, as it was told later, would go off for a ménage à trois weekend getaway.

Immigration from Japan to Canada

January 20, 2010

After getting married in Japan, i now have the mammoth task of compiling information and filling out forms for my wife and I to immigrate to Canada.  I will try to keep an update on the affair – one to help me keep on track and the other to help others like myself who are searching in the dark for answers. Each case is different. I’m married with no children and no co-signer so this is what i will focus on.

The break down

There are 3 parts to immigration:

1 Part – Sponsor (Canadian) – 5 X forms
— Application to Sponsor and Undertaking
— Sponsorship Evaluation
— Sponsorship Agreement
— Sponsorship Questionnaire
— Document Checklist

2 Part – Immigrant (Japanese) – 4 Xforms
— Sponsored Spouse/Partner Questionnaire
— Additional Family Information
— Schedule 1 Background / Declaration
— Application For Permanent Residence in Canada

3 Part – Country – (Japan)
— Country Specific Instructions

Getting started

Each application is a banquet meal onto it self.  I can only recommend to start early to enable you to compile the necessary information for the forms.

Immigration forms

Medical Practitioners

Criminal Check