John Hawkins
john.Information john.Journal

Dr John Hawkins

Welcome to my bit of the Maison de Stuff, home to a huge load of pictures, and my daily blog.

My email address is as above - I've put it in an image in a vein attempt to reduce the amount of spam I get.

John's Journal / Blog
Main Index
John's Pictures
Main Index
Main Index (text only)
Recent Updates
John's Travel
Main Index
Other Related Sites:
Maison de Stuff


Posted on 2005/10/26 15:03:55 (October 2005).

[Wednesday 26th October]
Had a bit of a frustrating day, thanks to a mixture of governmental and corporate bureaucracy. It felt like I spent the entire day doing nothing but filling in forms - and generally just writing the same details over and over again.

Allow me, if you can bear it, to work backwards to explain my frustration.

The eventual objective is that I would like to get paid. Call me an old stick-in-the-mud, but this doesn't seem too unreasonable a side effect of having a job. Ideally as well I would like to get paid fairly soon as well - having been unemployed for over seven months this again doesn't seem too unreasonable. The trouble is that, as always seems to be the way for companies, it takes ages to do the payroll, and there is generally a cut-off date about two weeks before when you get paid. So I'm not going to get paid at the end of October, which I suppose is fair enough as I have only worked a week during this month. However, you would hope being paid at the end of November ought to be fairly manageable.

This is somewhat more difficult than it at first seemed though. In order to get paid, I have to have a bank account - and a Japanese one at that - for the money to be paid into.

As a long term resident in Japan it is necessary to get a delightfully named "alien registration card" (yes, my skin is green and I've got four arms) before you can do just about anything. This is generally required by banks in particular. Quite why this should be the case I don't know. All I was really asking for was the permission to hold some of my money for a while, and occasionally give bits of it back to me as and when I needed it... but not, without the correct paperwork this just wasn't going to happen.

So I went to apply for the alien registration card today, and it turns out it takes two weeks to process. In theory this processing time would just about have my card ready in time to setup a bank account before next month's payroll cut off data. You'll note the in theory there. In practice my company is sending me to America for three weeks, so I won't be here to collect it then anyway (and you can't get someone else to pick it up for you unless they're related apparently).

So it was beginning to look like I wasn't going to get paid at the end of November either. The nice woman in the local government office said that they'd give me a sort of temporary certificate, partly as a receipt, but couldn't say for sure whether banks would accept this or not.

We tried first in UFJ, and the rather unfriendly man in there said they wouldn't open a bank account without the proper certificate. Just on the off chance we then tried in SMBC, and they seemed a lot more amenable. In fact they didn't seem that bothered about the temporary alien registration certificate, but instead were content with another bit of paper we'd got from the local government office which seemed to serve no purpose but prove that the office new what my address was.

Then we were reminded that because I had now applied for the alien registration certificate and was going out of the country, I would need to get a "re-entry permit", which would mean another trip to another governmental office, and no doubt more filling in of forms.

Back at my company, I had yet more form filling and bureacracy to deal with. I couldn't get the company credit card, partly due to there not being enough time before my impending trip, and partly again to do with not having that irritatingly ubiqutous alien registration card. So it turns out I will have to pay for all the meals and accomodation for my trip with my own credit card - company policy dictates that I can't get anyone else to pay for any of this and given that "everyone has their own credit card" (normally) they don't actually seem to have generic expense accounts. This sounded like another headache in the making as I have an English credit card, I'd be spending in Dollars, but eventually being reimbursed in Yen via a Japanese bank account (again more company policy, they can't reimburse to foreign accounts apparently). No doubt I'm going to get stung double or tripley with unfavourable exchange rates and multiple comission charges. Agh.

I sometimes wonder if working abroad is really worth all the hassle!

Comment 1

Got an idea. Why don't you marry Chie ? So you'd be 'related' and she would be able to get the alien registration card for you. (Unless you need the card in question to marry her !)

Posted by Sheri at 2005/10/26 16:19:38.

Comment 2

It all sounds too normal for me!! That's Japan I am afraid that you'll encoutner many more hurdles such as this one in your way...
I have to say that it is very complex though!
Anyways get Chie to lend you her credit card, can you do that? At least it will be in Yen...
I am sure that they pay you an hideously amount of money anyways, so that shan't be a problem in the future!! :P

Posted by Lox at 2005/10/26 16:34:23.

Comment 3

I actually (for once!) can't think of anything constructive or useful to say about your plight, John! This all sounds too daft to be true - especially in these days when we are supposed to be "Citizens of the World"... Mind you, getting expenses paid in the UK civil service is pretty much a thankless task - even when not an "alien". I usually receive them between two and three months later, unless I hit the magic "tenth". Then there's a chance I'll be only one to two months behind...

Posted by Nigel at 2005/10/26 20:05:20.

Comment 4

You should try opening a French bank account - they invented the word "bureaucracy" you know. However, worth it in the end. I had even to prove I made frequent trips to France, but I always throw my boarding cards away the following trip. In the end I found one from a trip ten years earlier, with no year date on!
Persevere, young man, persevere.

Posted by Mum at 2005/10/27 09:23:22.

Comment 5

Sorry - stumbled across your website whilst looking for a pub in Windsor for my birthday night out....

Isn't this the same in any country though? My Spanish ex came over to live with me a few years ago and getting a bank account and getting paid (with emergency tax deducted) took several weeks... Despite having been in Education Management and teaching for years in Spain, he couldn't get a teaching job over here for months as he hadn't done a Maths GCSE....and it took almost a year for the Inland Revenue to refund his overpaid tax - which added up to almost £1,000, which came in handy as he disappeared off back to Spain owing me that ;o)

I think you have to be prepared when you work abroad that it'll probably take a couple of months to get money coming in and be prepared to borrow off your friendly bank manager, mates, parents, or extra in dodgy films.. I have a friend who just 'starred' as a waiter in a porn film in China :o)

Back to looking for pubs...

Posted by JavaGirl at 2005/10/27 11:41:56.

Comment 6

Yeah you're right JavaGirl, it probably is the same everywhere...

I hope my site was of some use in helping to choose a pub in Windsor - I assume you found the relevant page... As you probably saw I went there for a pub crawl on my birthday last year - no particular reason for choosing Windsor, I just thought it would be a bit different.

I like really olde worlde pubs, and had imagined Windsor would have a lot of these what with all its history and everything... Actually we didn't really manage to find anywhere particularly old, but there were some nice pubs regardless.

The Carpenter's Arms was really nice actually, in terms of an all round pub, albeit perhaps a tad touristy (it's very close to the castle).

If you don't mind going out of town a bit the Prince Arthur and the Merry Wives of Windsor were nice - we went to both in the middle of Saturday afternoon so they were naturally pretty quiet, not sure what they'd be like in the evening.

I quite liked the Two Brewers as well, although it is probably more suited to a quiet drink with a couple of people than a birthday type outing.

Posted by John at 2005/10/27 13:55:40.

Comment 7

:o) Yes I saw your trial run page and the actual birthday page - I'm not sure how helpful the second was in actually locating a decent pub - but it made me laugh anyway.
I am (mis)fortunate enough to live just North of Bracknell - my work relocated me from London a few years ago - but there was no way I was going to have a night out in Bracknell so I decided on Windsor but don't really know any places there.
It's basically just somewhere for people to meet before we go to the restaurant - the King and Castle is the nearest but I was veering towards the Carpenters Arms...
Nice website by the way - I'm a computer programmer so I get all geeky about these things although I spend so much time on computers at work I can never be bothered to do my own!

Posted by JavaGirl at 2005/10/27 18:19:06.

Comment 8


You don't know the meaning of the word bureaucracy. If you want to do anything that involves The Armed Forces or Children, you need to fill in 10 forms. As does everyone else. I've filled in 6 secrity questionnaires in my time - when working for Thales - when becoming a member of staff at an ATC squadron - when becoming and officer - when becoming a commanding officer. Each form is on its own and 10 pages long. Furthermore, you have fill in Criminal Record Bureau forms and they take up to 9 months to come through. If I want to take 15 cadets on a camp just outside Windsor in midsummer, I have to fill in 6 pages of forms and each cadet must fill in 2. All must be done up to 8 weeks before you leave.

Not to mention gliding. Between getting to the Gliding School on a Saturday morning and doing my first take off, I need to sign my name approximately 20 times and fill in countless bits of paper.

However, like all bureaucracy, the system is there to protect you and once it's working for you, it's very good indeed.

Posted by Rob Lang at 2005/10/28 11:31:20.

Post a comment