Guide to Living in Japan

The International Section, an organization of Soka University’s International Department, is responsible for providing a broad range of support services for international students and Japanese students returning from abroad who are enrolled at our university. Regulations regarding foreign nationals who reside in Japan for the long term are fairly extensive, in particular to such documentation as the Resident Registration System, as well as the National Health Insurance and National Pension programs, along with other real-world requirements like opening a bank account, leasing an apartment, finding part-time work, and other concerns.

Basic Information Regarding Life in Japan

Please refer the websites below for helpful tips and facts while studying in Japan:

Resident Registration System

Under the latest revisions to the status of foreign nationals residing in Japan, international students will be required to register with the municipality they are now living in. Please register as a resident of the city in which you live within 14 days of formally leasing your abode. For more information, please refer to the following website.

National Health Insurance Program (NHIP)

If your period of stay in Japan exceeds three months, then you may subscribe to the National Health Insurance Program to receive a broad array of medical coverage. Under this program, subscribers are required to pay just 30% of most medical bills they incur while in Japan. The range of medical treatment is predetermined, however, and you must present your NHIP card upon request for an examination by a doctor or dentist. Please note that it is the responsibility of the individual to subscribe to the program and pay its monthly premium. Upon registering as a resident of the city in which you live, you will be mailed an NHIP application form; you must fill this out and return to the city hall. For additional information, please refer to the following website:

National Pension Program (NPP)

Under Japanese law, international students residing in Japan are required to subscribe to the National Pension Program if they are over the age of 20. This is particularly important for those who seek full-time employment in Japan following graduation, since not subscribing to the NPP at the appropriate time will mean they will be accountable for premiums that date back to the time of one’s entry into Japan. There is a grace period for payment of premiums for undergraduate and graduate students, however.

An exception is also available for non-regular students* (those enrolled in the Japan Studies Center, foreign exchange students, researchers, etc.). However, even after a non-regular student applies for an exemption, he or she may be mailed a premium payment invoice before the notification of the exemption. Please do not pay the premium as it will not be reimbursed.
For further information, please refer to the following website.

Opening a Bank Account

In Japan, it is imperative for an international student to open a regular savings account at a Japanese bank. This will allow you to access a variety of funds, from any scholarship that you have been endowed with and remittance from parents or guardians overseas, to remuneration of part-time work here in Japan. In order to open an account, visit a conveniently located bank with your residence card, national health insurance program card and a hanko seal (some of the large Japanese banks will waive the requirement for the personal seal, accepting your signature instead). Once you have opened an account at a bank of your choosing, a cash card will be mailed to you within a few months. Keep that card in a secure place. Please note that the Student Hall at Soka University has installed ATMs of the following banks: Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation; Mizuho Bank; Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ; and the Japan Post Bank.

How to Rent an Apartment

When renting an apartment in Japan, an international student will need to have a guarantor, an adult who resides and earns an income in the country, in order to secure approval from a realtor or landlord. The renting process can seem daunting at times, but you will eventually succeed through patience and perseverance.

When vacating your apartment, the tenant must inform his or her landlord at least one month prior to moving out in order to settle any outstanding account, including payment of your final month’s rent. In some cases, the balance of the deposit you made when moving in will be refunded after cleaning expenses and the cost for repairs, if necessary, are deducted. The tenant should be aware that additional costs could be charged that exceeds the amount you deposited, necessitating you to pay out-of-pocket. If you are charged with any expense that you believe to be unfair or unnecessary—including natural wear and tear—and find yourself in a dispute with your realtor or landlord, you can consult the Property Rental Hotline (03-5320-4958) for assistance.

For international students living in Hachioji City in need of a guarantor, one option is to use such services as the Comprehensive Renters Insurance for Foreign Students Studying in Japan that is provided by Japan Educational Exchanges and Services, or an acting guarantor system offered by some private companies. In many cases, such services may offer a special subsidy, but a tenant is only entitled to this subsidy just once, however.
For additional information, please access the Hachioji City website’s Acting Guarantee Subsidy on Rental Housing for Foreign Students below:

Part-Time Employment

If you are in Japan with an exchange student visa, you must acquire a Permission to Engage in Activity Other Than That Permitted Under the Status of Residence Previously Granted, or work permit, if you looking to work part-time. However, you can only work for a maximum of 28 hours per week (a maximum of eight hours a day during extended breaks in the spring, summer and winter). Fulltime employment is prohibited for international students, as are other specially designated jobs. Please see the website below before seeking employment.

In the Event of an Emergency

The following emergency numbers should be memorized or written down:
Police Department: 110
Fire Department: 119
Once your call is connected, keep calm and inform them whether it is an accident, criminal incident, illness or injury, and where you are making the call (if you are unaware of the address, try to refer the operator to any landmark or any conspicuous feature nearby).

In Case of a Disaster

Preparedness whenever an earthquake, typhoon or any other nature or manmade disaster strikes is vital. After a major earthquake, for example, expect communication logjams for mobile phones and devices. Try to remain as calm and patience as possible.
Because Hachioji City has designated Soka University is as temporary public shelter, our recommended course of action is to gather at the campus in times of a major natural calamity if possible. Please see the following URL in case of an earthquake: