The United States and Japan cooperate on a number of global economic initiatives. Recently, Japan joined the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership talks, along with the United States, to help negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement. The two countries are also involved in bilateral negotiations for trade in the insurance and automotive trade industries. For American citizens who wish to transfer money from USA to Japan and convert USD to JPY, there are currently no restrictions in place.
For visits to Japan that are less than 90 days, normally a visa must be obtained by applying to the Japanese embassy or consulate. However, Japan has a visa waiver program in place with 66 countries, including the United States. For American citizens who will be staying in Japan for less than 90 days, a visa is not currently required. If working in Japan, though, applying for a business visa is a requirement.
For American citizens who wish to obtain Japanese residency, they must first obtain a visa, and then go through the application process for a residency card. Once they are issued a residency card upon entry into the country, within two weeks they must take the resident card, passport, and a passport photo to a local municipal office to notify the Ministry of Justice of their address.
Purchasing property in Japan is relatively easy and open to residents and non-residents. All prospective buyers must be able to procure their own financing for the transaction, however. When factoring in costs for a property purchase, additional costs such as registration fees and realtor commissions must also be factored in to the final purchase price.
It is advisable to work with a licensed real estate agent to help negotiate all aspects of the purchase. Once the details have been determined, the agent will prepare the final sales contract. Once the contract has been signed by both the buyer and seller, the buyer must pay stamp duty (this is a documentary stamp tax which is required for all real estate sales contracts) and make a deposit on the purchase. This deposit is typically around ten percent of the property price. There are currently no restrictions for Americans who wish to transfer money from USA to Japan to fund their property purchase.
US citizens who wish to study in Japan for periods of longer than 90 days must apply for a student or training visa. Student and training visas are long-term visas and generally allow the holder to stay in Japan for a period of three months up to three years, depending on the visa type and the length of the study program.
All individuals living in Japan, whether a resident, non-permanent resident, or non-resident, must pay some form of income tax if working and earning income in Japan. The amount ultimately depends on the type of residency and the level of income generated. Incomes are taxed at the national, prefectural, and municipal levels. Prefectural and municipal taxes are sometimes referred to as ‘resident tax.’ American citizens must also file taxes with the American government and may have to pay taxes on their earned income in Japan. The US and Japan do have a tax treaty in place to avoid double taxation of both countries’ citizens. It may be possible to receive tax credits for the taxes already paid in Japan. It is possible to transfer money to Japan at any time if needed during tax season.
All individuals living in Japan must be enrolled in one of the two health insurance programs offered. For American citizens who plan to stay in Japan longer than three months, it is required to join the National Health Insurance plan (NHI) unless covered by an employer’s health insurance plan. To qualify for the NHI, American citizens must have a resident card. If staying less than three months, it is advisable to take out a travel insurance policy or private health insurance plan.
American citizens living abroad are eligible to vote by absentee ballot in US primary, general, and presidential elections. They must first complete and return a voter registration/absentee ballot to the elections office of the last state where they lived. Once approved, they will receive their ballot by email for each election, but must return it by mail or through a delivery service. It is important to register every election year to ensure a ballot is received.
The United States and Japan have a bilateral relationship based on strong economic two-way trade, investment, and finance. The two countries are allies and have a shared philosophy on a number of global initiatives, ranging from open markets to global growth. The US imports many items to Japan, with large quantities of dollars to yen traded every day as it is its fourth-largest import market. Imports include films and music, aircraft, agricultural products, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and medical and scientific supplies. US imports in 2013 totaled $65.1 billion, and two-way trade of goods and services between the countries was estimated at $290 billion in 2012. US foreign direct investment and money transfers to Japan totaled $134 billion in 2012, an increase of 6.3% from the previous year. For more information on the US-Japan relationship, please refer to the Office of the United States Trade Representative website.
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