Went to the post office today after having the ATM reject my postal account card last Saturday. The screen directed me to go to one of the windows during regular office hours and today I had some time in the middle of the day to do so. After picking up some coffee at Lare, I remembered the ATM issue. They checked my card and told me, without saying why, that my card couldn’t be read and that I’d need a new one. This seemed especially odd to me as it’s only about 15 months old, but ok. I didn’t have my hanko with me and so I took the document I needed and went back home. The clerk told me they were open until 4:00 and I didn’t have to work until 6:00, so I headed back there around 3:40. Surely 20 minutes would be enough time to request a new card.
I brought, as directed, my non-functional card, passbook, hanko, the paperwork and a picture id. I’d filled out the paperwork at home. Turns out that when we moved I didn’t change the address on my account so that required another piece of paper to be filled out. All in all, my part of the transaction amounted to about 10 minutes. For some reason, though, the paperwork asked me the following: 1) what do you primarily use this account for?, 2) what is your job (company employee, part-time, self-employed, etc.)? I have no earthly idea why they’d ask these questions, but I’ve been here long enough to know that pointing out the invasive and unnecessary nature of them would only prolong the inevitable. I kept my mouth shut. 15 minutes of sitting around later and I’m presented with a form that’s strictly for resident aliens. It asked for a bunch of info that I’d already put on at least three forms: name (in two languages), address, date of birth, country of citizenship. In addition, they asked to which country I paid tax (seems pretty obvious to me) and what my tax number was. I asked the clerk to explain the number and she did so by merely “breaking up” the kanji characters. 「納税」は納める税です. Thanks heaps. 30 minutes in the post office and counting. The clerk now has to ask one of the more senior people, who, of course, is in the middle of helping some else, for advice on how to proceed. The clerk politely waits for the superior to become free. 35 minutes. Armed with a response, the clerk calls me back to the window. “You have to provide us with this number. We have no way of looking it up.” I say again that I’ve never heard of this number and the clerk says “Can you please wait a moment?” I tell the clerk for the second time that I’ll have to go soon. There are only two of us still being “served” and the door is locked to new entry. 40 minutes. I sit back down as the clerk goes to talk to a different superior, presumably a higher-level one as this one sat at a desk. The clerk, about whom I’m now entertaining increasingly violent fantasies, moves from this palaver to a phone. The call consists of a lot of needless, but typical, Japanese language niceties and then questions and then reading of my account information into the handset. The global CO2 concentration has gone up by 4 ppm in the meantime. 45 minutes.
I’m called back up. Am asked for my social security number. I write it and receive back my passbook and receipt.
I suppose they want the info as a measure against money laundering and/or hiding assets from taxation. I’m guessing, however, that reporting is not 100% and would only be triggered if I had over a certain amount of money in the account. Since it’s merely an overflow account (that is, not used for direct deposit, but merely as a slush fund of sorts), I’m sure that all of this was, in my case, much ado about nothing.