Part 2 of our series on Japanese insurance

As you know from part 1 of our series on Japanese insurance, one of the social insurances you will enroll in is 雇用保険 (koyou hoken), or Employment Insurance. In part 2, we are going to get familiar with Employment Insurance.


  • Employment Insurance helps workers who have lost their jobs and looking for new jobs
  • You need to be eagerly seeking a job to be eligible for the benefits

What is Employment Insurance?

Employment Insurance (EI) is one of the insurances run by the Japanese government. If you work for at least 20 hours per week and for at least 31 days, you must enroll in the Employment Insurance.

Workers can receive four major benefits depending on their situations:

  • Workers who have unexpectedly lost their jobs can receive necessary benefits from EI so that they can focus on job searching and not worry about food and shelter.
  • Workers who have had their wages lowered or lost when they are re-employed after childcare leave, medical leave, or retirement can receive benefits from EI.
  • Workers can receive support from EI for job skill development to find stable employment in their fields of work.
  • People who are looking for jobs and workers who have been re-employed can receive benefits from EI to promote their re-employment. Examples are transportation fees for job interviews and money spent on moving for a new job. 

These benefits are covered by premiums paid by both employers and employees. A part of the premium is taken from your monthly salary. 

Engage in job-search activities

If you lose your job, you can apply for the unemployment benefits at Hello Work, or the Employment Security Office. Hello Work is an employment service center run by the Japanese government. Hello Work provides job-seekers with job options and manages the unemployment insurance benefits.

Items you need to submit are your passport, residence card, separation notice, employment insurance qualified recipient’s identification card, 3cm×2.5 cm photo, hanko (Japanese seal), and 求職票 (kyuushokuhyou) or a certificate showing that you are looking for a job.

A separation notice is a document proving the end of your employment period. You can get both the separation notice and employment insurance qualified recipient’s identification card from your previous employer. 

After the submission, Hello Work decides if you are eligible to receive benefits based on the documents submitted. However, you must be diligently looking for a job while receiving the payments.

In order for unemployed workers to stay eligible for the insurance benefits, they are required to be engaged in at least two activities considered as job-searching activities in between their last day for “recognition of unemployment” and upcoming day for “recognition of unemployment.”

So, what is the day for recognition of unemployment?

The day for “recognition of unemployment” refers to days that happen every four weeks, when you need to submit an application for recognition of unemployment. When you report to Hello Work in person, that day becomes your first day for recognition of unemployment.

As mentioned above, you are required to participate in at least two job-search activities during the four weeks to be eligible to receive the benefits. 

Are you unemployed?

Employment Insurance benefits are available for those who are unemployed. According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, below is the definition of being unemployed.

You need to fulfill all of the criteria below to be considered as “being unemployed.”

  • You are actively seeking employment. 
  • You are unemployed even though you are actively seeking employment. You cannot just be jobless; you need to be willing to work and eagerly looking for opportunities to do so.
  • You can start working immediately, considering both your health and lifestyle.

 On the other hand, if you are under such circumstances as you cannot start working because of reasons such as an injury, disease, pregnancy, or nursing of your family member, you are self-employed, or your next job has been already decided and are waiting to start the new job, you are not judged as “being unemployed,”  and you are not eligible for receiving the insurance benefits. 

How much are the benefits?

As I mentioned above, there are four main groups of benefits, and there are many different types of benefits paid to beneficiaries depending on their circumstances.

One of them is the basic allowance, which is paid during your unemployment in order to support your livelihood. The maximum amount of the basic allowance is ¥7,775 as of August, 2016. But usually, the allowance is between 50 and 80 percent of your daily wages in six months before the day of separation from employment. 

As for the periods you can receive the basic allowance, it depends on how long you have paid the insurance. If you have paid for less than 10 years, you can receive the allowance for 90 days at maximum. If you have paid 10 to 20 years, the maximum number of days is 120. If you have paid for more than 20 years, you can receive the allowance for up to 150 days.

In addition, if you are forced to leave your previous job without time to prepare for re-employment, you may be able to receive the allowance longer. For details, please read the document by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

Plan to pay insurance to prepare for an emergency

Once again, if you work for 20 hours or longer every week and for longer than a month, your employer needs to register you for Employment Insurance. Your employer will fill out a form to have you enroll in the insurance when you start working there.

Make sure that you are enrolled in the insurance. Nobody knows what is going to happen, so keep paying for when you might need financial help while looking for a new job.

Part 1: the Social Insurance System
Part 3: Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Part 4: Health Insurance