Home Page Forums Studying and Working in Japan with a Disability Working in Japan with a Disability Personal Support Work / Health Coverage / Visa

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  • #9340


    Hello all,

    Josh, thank you for creating this great resource.

    I am a Canadian and I am interested in living/working in Japan.  I have a young child and wife who is disabled.

    My wife has a form of muscular dystrophy. As a result, she has to use a power wheelchair and has limited mobility. Therefore, I have a few questions:

    – If  I was working in Japan full time, would my wife be able to have a caretaker / personal support worker help her? If yes, how much would it cost to employ a caretaker?

    – If my wife were to get sick, would she entitled to hospital care or would there be fees associated with hospital visits? If yes, could you provide an estimate of how much staying in a hospital would cost?

    – If I obtained a job, for example, as an English Teacher, would my child and wife automatically qualify for a visa as well?

    Thank you,


  • Author
  • #9341


    Hi Mike,

    Thank you for your question, glad the website is helpful.

    To answer your question in a broad stroke – immigration doesn’t care about your welfare situation if you have a sponsoring company (that is your local government’s problem), and your local government isn’t concerned with your visa status (that is immigration’s problem).

    To answer more directly:

    • If you are a resident of a city/town you are entitled to that area’s welfare services.  So, if you are living in Shinjuku and registered with the Shinjuku ward office, your wife can receive welfare services the same as any other ward resident.  (Note: while there are some basics that are nation-wide, a lot of the details are decided by the local government, so services can vary by location.)
      Cost of care is based on your income.  So, you may need to pay ¥10,000-¥20,000/month if you are on a teacher’s salary.
    • Everyone who is a long term resident (ie over 3 months) must register for the national health care system.  This covers a lot of the cost of health care, but not everything.  If she is registered as disabled (which she will need to be to get personal care) you will likely pay even less (less than ¥1,000 for a Dr visit and medicine),  The cost of staying in the hospital depends on the hospital (private/public), the room (private/4-person), tests done, etc.  I was in the hospital (public, 4-person room) for 10 days once and it came to about ¥60,000.
    • As far as visas, I think that if you have a valid sponsored work visa, your wife can come on a spouse visa.  But, that question goes beyond my personal expertise.

    A friend of mine, @bookman, moved here more recently so he likely has more recent information.

    Hope this helps!

    (PS – I’m moving this thread to the “Working in Japan” forum.)

  • #9342



    Adding a bit to Josh’s explanation, the services your wife is eligible for are determined by local authorities based on her medical diagnosis (at a state-recognized hospital). The costs of disability and caregiving services are determined in part by income, as Josh has noted, but also by the severity of your wife’s condition. If your wife’s condition is serious enough, she might qualify not only for national health insurance and a disability passbook, but also a ‘marusho’ マル障, which further reduces costs. Qualification for care really is case by case and hard to predict, but my understanding is that the breakdown is typically as follows:

    1) National Health Insurance (You pay around 30% of fees)

    2) Disability Passbook (You pay around 10% of fees – in most cases)

    3) ‘Marusho’ (You pay 0% of fees – in most cases)

    Like Josh, I’m also not qualified to answer your visa-related questions. However, I can say that the biggest issue with entering the disability welfare system is time. Once you arrive in Japan, your wife will have to go through the application process for a disability passbook, which involves multiple evaluations at hospitals and long waiting periods for government officials to determine if she is entitled to care. I was able to get National Health Insurance immediately, but waiting for my disability passbook took 2 months. My ‘Marusho’ took even longer, so I had to pay out of pocket for another few months after that. I’d say you could safely expect to have all the bureaucratic elements of applying for services completed within 4-5 months. Even then, you’ll have to actually find service providers, which is something that the local government may or may not be able to help you with. In my case, they did not, so I had to spend around six months recruiting different caregiving companies to fill in the service hours I was legally entitled to.

    In short, the fees vary wildly, and it takes a while to get set up, but if you’re in Japan for the long-run it’s doable and often worth it.

  • #9344


    Bookman and Josh, thank you both for the thorough replies! It is much appreciated.

    Marusho sounds great and I understand the bureaucratic elements can take time, that is understandable.

    As for finding our own care providers, that would be tricky if we can’t find care providers quickly. Would it be possible to be proactive and start recruiting workers before arriving or does it have to be something done upon arrival?

    Thank you,

  • #9345



    You can reach out to companies providing care workers if you like.  Some (but likely not all) companies may allow you to pay directly for services. I did this for a bit when I first arrived.  However, a lot of places might not like that because they will get less than a normal payment (since normally they get money from the city for the helper’s wage + the company’s administrative fees) whereas from a direct payment they would likely only charge the wage.  Organizations related to the Independent Living Center movement would likely be more open to this than a for-profit company.  Remember, likely none of the care attendants will speak much English!

    You may also consider hiring someone to come with you.  Many people may be excited at the opportunity of a “free trip” to Japan and therefore may go for less.  All payments would need to be done on the Canada-side since they would not be on a working visa.  Both Mark and I did this.

    So, you should start saving for this transition period.  It is doable, but not cheap.

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