On April 20th, the Japanese government decided that all residents of Japan will receive a one-off relief payment of 100,000 yen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are answers to some questions that you probably have.

Am I eligible?

If you are a legal resident of Japan—meaning you were either a citizen or a holder of a resident’s card as of April 27th, 2020—you are entitled to receive the payment. The payment will be paid out to everyone irrespective of age. Babies, kids, students, adults, the elderly, billionaires and even foreign residents all qualify for receiving the payment.

Does everyone receive the payment separately?

No. The payment will be made to the head of the household. So if you are part of a family of four, a payment of 400,000 yen will be made to the head of the household. The head of the household (setainushi in Japanese) is recorded on your juminhyo (residency certificate). In the case of a family, it will be either the husband or the wife. In the case of a shared living arrangement (i.e. roommates), unless you specifically change it, each person will be their own head of household.

Do I have to apply or is it automatic?

In mid to late May, you will receive the “Special Cash Payments Application Form”from your local city office in the post. The application is two pages (one for you to fill in and one for attachments) and will be pre-printed with the name of the head of household, the household members under the head of household and the amount that you will be paid. Your local city office should have an example of how to fill out the form in English.

Actual forms sent out by a ward in Tokyo | Photo by Setsuko Yasuda

Alternatively, if you have a My Number card (the card with the photo, not the thin notification card you got in the mail), you will be able to apply using the “Mainapo-taru” (My Number Portal). Signing up for Mainapo-taru is a whole different kettle of fish though. You’ll need either a USB-connected IC Card Reader for your computer or a compatible mobile handset. There is an English language switch at the top of the page, but almost everything other than the homepage is only in Japanese.

What do I need to send in with my application?

The forms have a space on the back for pasting a copy of your proof of identity (drivers license, zairyu card, my number card etc.) and also a copy of either your ATM card or your bank passbook. If you use the same account to make furikomi transfers for paying local city tax or water/sewage charges, then you don’t need to attach a copy.

What’s the deadline for applying?

City offices are giving plenty of time for residents to apply. The last day for applications seems to be Tuesday, August 25th, 2020. Check your forms to make sure the date isn’t different for your city.

Can I apply in person?

The preferred methods to apply are by post or via the online portal. However, if you have some problems that can’t be solved over the phone, or you just want the thoroughly unpleasant experience of applying in person in a barely air-conditioned city office (it’s called ‘cool biz’ people), then your local city hall will likely have a special section set up for this purpose. Look for signage that says “特別定格給付金” (tokubetsu teikaku kyufukin).

Follow the arrows | Photo by Gregory Lane

When can I get the payment?

The earliest possible payment dates range from late May until late June, but this depends on you submitting your forms as soon as you receive them. If you let the forms chill for a bit before sending them in, then obviously your payment date might also slip.

Where can I get more information?

The government has set up a toll free hotline to handle enquiries. The number is 0120-260-020 and lines are open from 9 am until 6:30 pm on weekdays. If it’s like any other government hotline, don’t expect a fast pick-up.

Who should I contact at my local city office about this?

Each city and ward has been made responsible for handling applications and payments, and each has a page on their official website about their schedule for sending out forms and making payments. There is currently no information available in English (or any language other than Japanese), but if you do a search for “特別定額給付金” (tokubetsu teikaku kyuufukin), you should find the appropriate page.

Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
Nikkei Keizai Shinbun

This article was first published in April 2020 and was updated to reflect current information on May 27th, 2020.

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