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Pregnancy and Giving Birth in Japan


 Coing to fly past you bongratulations! You or your partner is pregnant. 9 months may seem like a long time but trust me they are gefore you even realise it. Therefore, we need to make sure you are 100% ready for when your precious little bun is finally ready to come out of the oven.

What to do when you Know you are Pregnant?

 First go to a clinic and get a proper pregnancy test. Unlike in the west this will likely involve an ultrasound scan to check for the baby’s heartbeat or may involve a hormone blood test depending on how far gone you are. The next step is to register your pregnancy at the local ward or city office. When you do this you will receive a little notebook or 母子手帳 (boshitecho or parent and child book). This is mainly used by doctors to input health information about your child; including their development during the pregnancy, and inoculation record. You will also receive information about where to go to get support and also a book full of vouchers for scans.

Finding a Hospital

 This may sound like an obvious thing; of course just go to the nearest hospital. However, finding a hospital in Japan can be a minefield of options including university hospitals and private clinics. It is also important to note that many hospitals do not offer epidurals and even those that do may not offer them for women over the age of 40. You should also be careful about finding your clinic. Some clinics have exclusive partnerships with hospitals so if you for example choose clinic A you may have to give birth at a specific hospital. There are also many small birthing clinics.

Treatment and scans during pregnancy

 Compared to the UK and other countries Japan has a lot of scans and appointments with doctors. During early term it is likely you will be asked to come in for check-ups every 4 weeks and as the pregnancy progresses this will advance to fortnightly and eventually weekly in your third trimester.

The Cost of Giving Birth

Here’s the painful part. In Japan pregnancy and childbirth treatments are not seen as ‘illnesses’ and are therefore not subsidized in line with the national health insurance. Fortunately, the government has a system where you receive a certain amount towards your bill, usually \420,000, and with the vouchers they gave you before the cost of your routine scans should be at least subsidized if not fully covered by your local ward office. Let’s have a look at a calculation:

Place Juntendo University Hospital Felicia Clinic (private clinic)
Cost without epidural ≈ ¥520,000 ≈ ¥215,300
Cost without epidural ≈ ¥670,000(epidural= ¥150,000) ≈ ¥344,300

Obviously, these prices may not be the same all over Japan and naturally change based on location and hospital. The main point I am trying to get at is that it is important to shop around and try to find a hospital or clinic that will provide the birth you want at a price you can agree with.

Maternity, Paternity leave

All full-time employees are eligible for parental leave. This is split into two sections. 産休(birth leave) and育休 (parental leave). Birth leave is taken by the mother (the one giving birth) and is mandatory. This can be taken from week 34 of the pregnancy. However, if you are deemed to be at a high risk of preterm labour this can be taken from the 26th week of pregnancy. This can be taken for up to 8 weeks after the birth of the baby. You are able to go back to work before this however, it is mandatory to stay off from work until at least the 42nd day after the birth. Once this is over you enter into Parental Leave. This is not mandatory and can be taken by either the mother or father. This may be taken up until the 1st birthday of your child. However, depending on the length of your work contract this may be difficult to take. If you are on your company’s health insurance you will not need to pay this however, you will still be required to pay city tax so if this is usually deducted directly from your salary you will have to pay this yourself. For both of these you will receive 2/3 of your wage until your baby turns 6 months. This then goes down to 50% This is generally applied for by your company but please confirm with them about the process.

Visa and Nationality Issues

If either you or your partner is Japanese your child will automatically receive Japanese citizenship however, if both of you are foreigners there are a few options. You must register the birth and apply for a visa within 30 days of the child’s birth. However, if this is not possible the latest you can apply is within 60 days. You must also register the birth of your child with your ward or city hall within 14 days of the birth.

Permanent Residence Holders

If you apply for them within 30 days of the birth, they will be eligible for Permanent Residence if not they will receive Spouse or child of Permanent Resident Status.

Long-term Resident holders

Similar to above, if you apply for them, they will receive the same visa as you.

Other work visa holders

You should generally apply for 家族滞在 dependent visa for your children. The important thing is although there is a 60-day leniency window, if this is surpassed your child will be deemed to be staying here illegally unless they have a visa.

Complications due to Covid-19

Unfortunately Covid-19 is still a real problem especially for Japanese hospitals and because of this it might not be possible for you to attend your partner's scans and ultimately may not be allowed to attend the birth. In my experience I wasn’t even allowed to set foot inside the hospital.

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