Questions have been raised about the Japanese government’s across-the-board 100,000 yen special cash handout program. Because recipients must be registered in the Basic Resident Register as of April 27, there have been cases in which people were deemed ineligible. In response, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications had decided by May 21 to include in the program foreign technical interns who are unable to return to their home countries due to the coronavirus outbreak .
Foreign nationals staying in Japan for less than three months are not eligible to receive the payment. Foreign nationals need to have a visa with a duration of stay longer than three months in order to register for the Basic Resident Register.
Many countries still have entry restrictions in place. According to the Ministry of Justice, the number of confirmed technical interns unable to return to their home countries is over 3,000. The Immigration Services Agency began to take special measures to extend the duration of stay for such interns to six months. The Internal Affairs Ministry notified all the local governments to provide the 100,000 payment to technical interns whose visas have been extended.
It is thought that the payment procedure will take some time. How to ensure the livelihoods of technical interns who cannot work and do not have any source of income will be an issue.
The Japanese government had initially planned to provide the payments to households whose income has drastically decreased. Due to a public outcry, however, the government revised the policy to provide the handouts to all households across the board. The issues arising due to the makeshift system are affecting many people.
Infants born after April 28, 2020, and returnees are not eligible. Homeless people who have not registered as residents anywhere and people who were not registered at birth and lack family registers are eligible for the 100,000 payment if they register after April 28. Homeless people need to register for the Basic Resident Register. Because they do not have fixed addresses, the process for homeless people has been more time-consuming.
Ren Onishi, director of the non-profit organization Independent Life Support Center Moyai calls for the procedure to be revised so that documents such as hospital registration cards or driver’s licenses may serve to identify individuals to enable disbursement. Onishi says that it takes a long time from application to disbursement and calls for the government to provide support for people as fast as possible. (Partially abridged)