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I've long wanted to know more specifics about taxation laws in Japan, especially those regarding my income tax. Every year the accounts receivable office downstairs has waved its magic wand and produced a slip of paper and a surprise refund check for whatever excess had been withheld from my last 12 monthly paychecks. Every year they explain to me in patient, simple sentences which number means what on my 源泉徴収 (gensen choushuu). But no matter how many times I hear it, the numbers still seem arbitrary and I don't get a good sense of exactly how much I'm being taxed or how that amount breaks down.

The Japan Federation of Certified Public Tax Accountants' Association has provided some enlightenment on the subject with their wonderful, English language PDF, "Guide to Japanese Taxes 2012".

If you've ever wondered about your own taxes in Japan, I highly recommend checking it out.


If there is one thing we have have covered fairly throughly here at Access J, it is the dreaded car inspection (shaken 車検) and various beauracratic and money related headaches associated with it.

Most of us know the shaken as a bi-annual headache. However, there are actually three varieties of shaken intervals: three years, two years, and one year.


The US tax return deadline is coming up for American expats in Japan. Hopefully you've already taken care of it, unlike me. :)

The IRS has a friendly message on its website reminding you to report all amounts on your tax return in USD, not yen. And they even have helpful links at the bottom of the page to the Federal Reserve Bank and Treasury Department websites. But those links just take you to the top of each respective site, which doesn't help me much: Every year as I search for the annual rates on the FRB website, I inevitably get lost in the pages and pages of other rates: daily, weekly, and monthly.

You'd think the IRS would link straight to the annual stuff, since that's probably what most people landing on the redirect page are looking for. But anyway, this year I'm setting myself straight and posting direct links for myself for next year. I hope it can be of use to some other lost souls:

Annual Foreign Exchange Rates from the Federal Reserve Bank
(in FRB lingo, this is Release G5.A)

U.S. Tax Information from the American Embassy in Tokyo, Japan
(includes a simple chart with annual JPY exchange rates for the last four years)


Seeing as how last week's posts covered the ins and outs of finding cheap gas, I figured I might as well introduce you all to another one of my favorite websites, oil-stat.com.


I asked for a "shovel" at my local home & garden store and was presented with a gardening trowel. But シャベル shows up in Japanese dictionaries as "shovel," and Google image results for シャベル are overwhelmingly of large, long-handled shovels. What gives?

todasan8 writes:

What's the difference between シャベル and スコップ?


Thanks to guest contributor OnlineMBA for today's post content:

3 Tips For Your [Job] Interview

"People who interview well seem to do so effortlessly. While the rest of us waste time studying single-use, canned answers we’ll probably never use in the actual interview, these lucky few come in and rattle off brilliant responses without any preparation at all.
Prospective employers can present these breezy interviewees with surprise panel interviews, hairy logic problems, or uncomfortable salary questions and they’ll handle each thoughtfully, without panicking. Now, most of us aren’t like that, but we can learn a few things from those that are.
One distinguishable difference between these candidates and the rest of us is that they come into an interview without expectations of how it will be conducted. They go with an aim to learn and discuss if they’d be a good fit for the organization, not to prove that they will be. So, instead of pouring over a laundry list of stay-cool tips the days and night before your interview, check out the latest video from OnlineMBA to learn three easy-to-remember tricks to both appear and actually be more relaxed during your interview."


With the recent return of the Liberal Democratic Party, the cheapening of the yen, and the new 2 percent yearly inflation target, it seems likely that imported goods won't be getting any cheaper any time soon. This is especially true with car gas. Therefore, I would like to share my own helpful hints on how to save a few yen at the pump.