Military Retiring in Japan

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    5. HOUSING
    This is an informational pamphlet only and
    is subject to change at any time. Please contact
    the appropriate department for further information.
    (I.e. housing questions speak to Kadena Housing;
    Employment –Transition Office; Health Care- TRICARE;
    Passports – Consulate; etc.). For their contact numbers
    please refer to last page of the pamphlet.
    To start the paperwork, see your local
    IPAC Office or PSD and ask for the On-Island
    Separation package. In order to separate
    on the island without going back to the United
    States, you will need to have employment and
    the paperwork done at least 6 months before
    you EAS. So, start early!!!
    In order to obtain a visa to separate and
    stay in Japan, you need conditional approval
    from the Commanding Officer. In addition,
    you need to request a visa at the local Japanese
    Immigration Office in person. Finally, you will
    need to complete the following steps if you fall in
    to one of these categories.
    a. With “Certificate of Eligibility”
    Valid passport, visa application, photograph,
    and an original “Certificate of Eligibility” (COE)
    from the Ministry of Justice in Japan.
    b. Without “Certificate of Eligibility”
    Except the COE, you will need the above plus
    documents outlining the receiving organization and
    its business (copy of corporate registration, recent
    profit-and-loss statement, list of alien employee, etc.),
    documents certifying qualification (i.e applicants CV),
    and copy of employment contract.
    II. Work (Engineer/Temporary/Contractor)
    a. With “Certificate of Eligibility”
    Valid passport, visa application, photograph,
    and a original COE from the Ministry of Justice in
    b. Without “Certificate of Eligibility”
    Except the COE, you will need the above plus
    documents outlining the receiving organization and its
    business (copy of corporate registration, recent profitand-loss statement, list of alien employee, etc.),
    documents certifying qualifications (i.e. CV), copy of
    contract describing the activity, duration, and position.
    III. US Spouse/Dependent of a Japanese
    a. With “Certificate of Eligibility”
    Valid passport, visa application photograph,
    and an original COE from Ministry of Justice in Japan.
    b. Without “Certificate of Eligibility”
    Except the COE, you will need all of the
    above plus Japanese family register certifying the
    1b. If Japanese spouse (JS) is employed:
    A letter of guarantee from JS, JS’s Certificate
    of Employment (COY), and Certificate of Tax Payment
    2b. If JS is not employed:
    A letter of guarantee from Japanese
    Guarantee (JG) residing in Japan, JG’s COY, and COT.
    If you would like to come back to Japan
    after separating in the US, you will need to obtain
    a visa through the Japanese Embassy or consulate
    located in the US. For more information, visit:
    Japanese Embassy in Washington.
    American Embassy in Tokyo
    If you are currently an active duty member or a
    spouse of an active duty member, you have Status of
    Forces Agreement (SOFA) status. With this, you have
    access to the military installations and the use of the
    facilities (commissary, hospital, gym, etc.). You also
    have a “Y” license plate for your car, the use of the
    USPS, and you may receive military assistance if
    involved in an accident and/or illness.
    However, you lose the SOFA status when you
    separate from the military and/or upon completion of
    terminal leave. If you separate locally and on terminal
    leave, you still have SOFA until your separation date.
    Once you lose the SOFA status, you have 60 days to
    either obtain a visa or depart Japan. Although having
    SOFA status is not mandatory, finding a way to obtain
    this status will make it easier for your transition and stay
    in Okinawa.
    If you, your spouse, and/or dependents reside in
    Japan longer than 90 days, you are required to register
    at the municipal office of the town or village in which
    you reside. Make sure you take your passport along
    with a statement of intention to stay in Japan.
    If you are not a retiree, you will not have access
    to base facilities. You will be treated like a visitor
    and need to be sponsored to come on base.
    If you elect to join the reserves, you and your
    family will receive an I.D. card, have access to military
    installations and receive TRICARE if you meet the
    As mentioned earlier, by living here without SOFA,
    you will not have access to things you might have
    grown accustomed to. In addition, once you have
    decided to live in Japan without SOFA, you will need to
    obtain a Japanese Driver’s License. An international
    Driver’s Permit will not suffice.
    To obtain a Japanese license or Gaimen Kirikae,
    you will need to bring the following to the Driver’s
    License Center in Naha: a valid foreign driver’s license
    (stateside) AND proof that you have stayed in the
    issuing country for at least 3 months total after
    obtaining the license.
    Once you have those documents, you will need
    to go to the Driver’s License Center and do the
    following: submit application documents, take the
    Aptitude test, complete a traffic rule knowledge check,
    and a driver’s test. In addition, you will need to have
    your foreign driver’s license translated into Japanese
    which has to be done through a JAF Translation Office.
    To obtain the application form for the JAF, go to:
    There is a fee of 3,000 YEN which is nonrefundable and it usually takes 2-3 weeks to obtain the
    translation for the license.
    After you obtain your translated driver’s license,
    you will need to get a Certificate of Residence at your
    local Citizens’ Affairs of your local prefecture. There is
    also a nominal fee for this certificate as well. After that,
    you can visit the Driver’s Center with all of the above
    documentation along with 5,000 YEN between the
    hours of 0800-1200. The written test can only be taken
    on a certain day and will cost around 2,650 YEN. The
    driver’s test is next which can take 2-3 weeks to get a
    time slot and cost around 3,500 YEN. (*all of these fees
    are subject to change).
    JAF Urasoe Office
    Address: 1-48-7 Maeda Urasoe-shi Okinawa, Japan.
    Office: 098-877-9225
    There are two main types of employment onisland and on-base: Non Appropriated Funds (NAF)
    and Appropriated Funds (APF). With General Service
    (GS) jobs, a travel agreement and a housing allowance
    will not always be given when you are offered a
    position. Pay special attention to the job
    announcement to understand who the company is
    looking to hire (local hire, international candidate,
    and/or world-wide hire). If you have a visa, you might
    not be considered a world-wide hire and receive
    housing allowance.
    You are allowed to apply for positions while on
    terminal leave from the military or 120 days before your
    separation date. Again, pay attention to the job
    announcement and contact the Human Resource
    office for further questions about the applications
    There are contractor employment opportunities
    and the best way to learn about the jobs is through
    networking. Start asking around to see if anyone is
    hiring, what companies you might want to work for,
    and what positions are available.
    Vacancies are usually posted on:
    For a more extensive listing and to learn more
    about the Federal Application process, you can
    contact your local Transition and Employment office.
    The Transition office holds monthly Federal
    Application, Resume and Interview workshops at Camp
    Foster, Schwab, Hansen, Kinser and Courtney.
    To find more information about the benefits,
    SOFA availability, and other topics, contact the
    Human Resource office located on the job
    You can also call MCCS NAF HRO at 645-3052 or
    GS CHRO at 645-2475
    5. HOUSING
    Looking for an apartment or house to rent in
    Okinawa can be challenging and frustrating. It is
    suggested that you bring a translator who can explain
    the terms of the lease. Also, keep in mind that some
    housing agencies will not rent to foreigners.
    There are some noticeable differences between
    American housing and to Okinawa housing. These
    differences usually are less square footage, no a/c, no
    oven, pay for parking, bathroom facilities, no dryers,
    and the location of the washing machine. When
    renting, a Japanese sponsor might need to co-sign in
    the event the rent is not paid.
    After the contract has been signed, there might
    be additional fees to include, but are not limited to the
    • 1st month’s rent and maintenance fees
    • Insurance
    • Housing Agency Fee (1 month rent)
    • Deposit (1-3 months’ rent)
    • Reikin is non- refundable (1-3 months’ rent)
    As a retiree, you are automatically enrolled in
    TRICARE Standard Overseas if your information is
    current in DEERS. You will receive care from either the
    host- nation provider or you can also be seen at the
    military treatment facility, but only on a spaceavailable basis. In addition, you may have to pay the
    provider in full and then file a claim with TRICARE for
    reimbursement. For more information, visit
    As a Separatee, you will not have the ability to
    get TRICARE. Once you obtain your long-term visa for
    Japan, you can enroll in Japan’s national health
    insurance system. However, it does not pay for medical
    evacuation. If you do not get enrolled in the national
    health insurance system, you will need to pay the
    provider in full at the time of treatment. If you are
    paying in full, many places do not accept credit/debit
    cards or checks drawn on U.S. bank accounts.
    If you have another type of U.S. health insurance,
    make sure you ask your provider if your stay in Japan
    will be covered. Not all insurance companies will cover
    In addition, U.S. prescriptions are not honored in
    Japan and some common medication for things such
    as ADHD, are not widely available. You might also want
    to check out the Centers for Dieses Control (CDC)
    website to learn about local outbreaks and
    recommended vaccinations. You can visit their website
    Japan is one of the most seismically
    (earthquakes) active locations in the world along with
    additional dangers such as tsunami and typhoons. If
    you would like to make sure you receive travel alerts
    and local advisors/ warnings, you can register in the
    Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
    This is also beneficial because it always lets the
    U.S. government know that in the event of a crisis, how
    many U.S. citizens are located overseas, and how many
    they need to evacuate if the need arises.
    Besides the cultural barrier and new surroundings,
    there are other challenges that might be present later
    on. First, if you are unable to get SOFA and/or you are
    not a retiree, you will not have access to the hospital.
    Second, the military Distribution Management Office
    (DMO) gives you 364 days to decide if you want to stay
    here. Up until that mark, if you decide to leave the
    island, DMO will provide you with the same service as if
    you were PCSing. However, at day 365, DMO will no
    longer help you move your belongings.
    Information about Japan from the U.S. Government
    Japan Travel Alerts
    Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
    U.S. Embassy in Japan
    Living On-Island Information
    Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act
    US Consulate Office
    Office: 098-876-4211
    If you would like additional assistance with finding
    employment, you can contact your local Transition
    For additional information/assistance:
    Relocation Office: 645-8395
    Retired Activities Office: 645-3159
    TRICARE Overseas Office: 646-7704
    Veteran Affairs and benefits:
    VA representative on Camp Foster: 645-3508
    Kadena: 634-3366
    Off-base housing:
    Kadena Housing: 634-1430
    Camp Foster 645-3151 Bldg. 445
    Camp Kinser 637-2815/1307 Bldg. 1220
    Camp Hansen 623-4522/7736 Bldg. 2339
    Camp Schwab 625-2622/2699 Bldg. 3327
    Camp Courtney 622-7332/7878 Bldg. 4425
    Courtesy of MCCS Marine & Family Programs
    Transition Readiness Program
    Camp Foster
    Okinawa, Japan

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