Getting Unemployment Benefit in Japan

My contract with the university I was working at wasn’t extended last month, but there’s no chance in hell I’m going home. I’m getting married next month, and my future wife is a student here until March so that’s just not an option. My Visa problems aside, I planning on using this and the next few months to perform a major career change operation, so I need to receive unemployment benefits in the meantime.

If you find yourself in a similar situation and you’re not planning on going home (because if you were, you’d be able to claim a lump sum refund of your unemployment insurance premiums), then I suggest you head straight down to your local branch of “Hello Work” and let them know your situation.


1. Be unemployed. If they find you working a part time job on the side, you’ll be made to pay back 3 times what you claimed.

2. Make sure you get a little slip of paper from your employer, as well as an official notice of severance. Mine was mailed to me a few days after I finished. Sorry I don’t have an example to show you now, but it’s an official document that states the reason you have lost your job and just confirms you’ve been paying your unemployment insurance. If you don’t receive yours after a week or so, the staff at Hello Work will be happy to hassle your employer as it’s their legal duty to produce one.

3. Don’t quit. If you quit your job of your own free will, you cannot claim benefits until 3 months after.

4. You must have been working and paying unemployment insurance for at least a year. If you’re employed unofficially and paid in cash, as I have been before, chances are your employer is avoiding the legal requirement to pay your insurance.

5. Make sure you understand Japanese. There are English speaking staff available in major cities, but everything else is in Japanese.

“Going on the dole”:

You need to go to the local hello work (ハローワーク) and tell them you’ve been made unemployed, as soon as possible. You’ll have a short interview when they’ll explain what unemployment insurance is, and you’ll need to fill out a form with some basic details about skills and previous employment. This is not a full resume, that comes later.

If you’re quick enough and you didn’t quit your last job, you will be able to receive your allowance by the end of the month. For my situation, I will be receiving about 180,000. It’s nowhere near what I was earning, but it is certainly enough to live off.

They will also tell you the next date to come to an explanation meeting. It’s quite a boring affair and all in Japanese, and it really doesn’t explain anything too important but you have to go. They will give you another form and the date of your next interview. On the form, you will write at least 2 things that you did to help your search for work before the next meeting. Today’s meeting, by the way, counts as one, so make sure you write it down. Another example might be signing up with an outsourcing company, or simply coming to “hello work” again to look for work and write your Japanese resume.

My next meeting is scheduled for October 1st, during which I present the paper which says I’ve done at least 2 things to look for work, and they will approve my next allowance and set another meeting.

I’ll keep you updated, and please feel free to ask questions if you’re unsure if you are able to claim benefits, as I’ve been researching this quite a bit now.

32 thoughts on “Getting Unemployment Benefit in Japan

  1. I collected unemployment once, when I decided not to extend my contract. Amazingly, that still counts as losing the job naturally and not quitting, even though it was entirely at my discretion, so I was still able to claim benefits the following month. Unfortunately, I only managed to get one month of the three I was eligible for since I didn’t stay in Japan very long at that time, but it still helped.
    .-= Roy Berman´s last blog ..Lemons into lemonade? DIY macro lens =-.

  2. Hi! I blog as Jackson Frugalista in Jackson, MS. I doubt you’ll get the “cease and desist” letter from Natalie McNeal of “Frugalista Files” at the Miami Herald — you aren’t in the US, and I don’t know where this site is hosted. But Ms. McNeal has trademarked the word “frugalista” and her lawyer is sending legal notices to anyone with the word in their blog/site name. I got one, I didn’t like it, I complained and raised my voice, and things are getting interesting.

    As the discussion is getting more heated, a lot of people are doing searches on the word. I think it’s possible that your site might get thrown into the coversation. Just wanted to say “sorry” if my dumb-little fight causes you any headaches.

    You can read up on the controversy on my blog, I don’t know if you’ll get the letter from them, but you might as well be prepared!

    BTW, your site is very interesting. I’v never been to Japan but you write about it so well that I get some of the flavor from your posts. Thanks!
    .-= Amy Marquez/JacksonFrugalista´s last blog ..What do you think I should do? =-.

  3. Wow! Thanks for the heads up there Amy, and I wish you all the best with your fight, though things like that seem to be a losing battle in America. I’ll subscribe to your feed so I can stay updated…

  4. Pingback: Lost your job in Japan? Don’t stress it | Frugalista Japan

  5. Some useful information there I hope I don’t ever have to take advantage of.

    Two questions: how long can you receive unemployment benefits for, and how are they calculates (e.g. percentage of last monthly net income)?
    .-= ThePenguin´s last blog ..Passing-out ceremony =-.

  6. Thanks for visiting, mr penguin.

    In most circumstances, you can claim for up to 3 months. I dont think any foreigner with enough qualifications to come to japan in the first place should need to claim for more than that anyway; I think longer times are available in case of injury or disability etc.

    The amount you receive has nothing to do with your previous salary – it calculated according to your age. The older you are, the more you receive. For my age group, 20-30, it is about 5,500 yen per day. So it’s nothing compared to working a good paying English teaching job, but it is quite sufficient to survive on.

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  8. my husband a british citizen got fired just after one month of joining his job can you suggest whether he can stay in japan to look for another job. Is he entitled to have unemployment benefit.

  9. He can’t claim unemployment without having worked for at least a year, or possibly 3 months I don’t remember now. However, he should be in the fortunate position of having either a one year or three year Visa I presume? (Well, otherwise he was working illegally, so let’s just assume that). In which case, he should be able to find an English teaching job quite easily – most companies are put off by having to file for a Visa (even though they don’t actually have to do *anything*)

  10. Do you know if we can hold off filing for unemployment benefits for a bit of time? Is there a time limit? Basically when receiving these benefits, one needs to be actively “looking” for a job, bit I want to wait a bit…there is a bit of traveling I want to do first. Can I file after I get back, or is there some deadline which requires immediate initiation of this process?

    (P.S. Your blog is great but it can do without the spam comments – like the slew of coupon-site messages above.)

  11. I came to hello work and was told to list 2 things I did to prove I am looking for a job.

    Do i actually need to apply to the companies and be interviewed before I write them? Are they looking for company names, contact number?

    These 2 things confuses me.

  12. hi! I realise this blog is now 5 years old but just in case you (or anyone visiting) see this question…

    I recently collected my first and second unemployment insurance payments from Hello Work. The first monthly payment was only calculated for 14 days instead of the expected 28 days (the 2nd payment was for 28 days). Any idea why this might have been the case?

    Further info: I did not quit my previous job (redundancy). I signed up within two months of losing my job with all the proper paperwork. I went to the Hello Work office on the stipulated dates. I am eligible for 180 days of benefits.

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  16. Hi there. Thanks for the info. Is it possible to extend it? Mine will be over next month and I am planning to go tomorrow to report that I have found a part time job.
    But I don’t think it will be enough for me.

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