Retiring in Japan: a complete guide

1 min readLast updated May 31, 2024by Unbiased team

Learn about the advantages and drawbacks of retiring in Japan and what to expect from emigration and tax procedures.

Summary 

  • The minimum income requirement for Japanese retirees is ¥4.8 million or $32,200 per year. 

  • 1 in 10 Japanese citizens is over the age of 65, and this number is predicted to increase in the next 50 years. 

  • To retire in Japan, you need to have Japanese citizenship, which is a process that takes ten years. 

  • The process of emigrating to Japan can be expedited with the help of a financial advisor.  

 What are the pros and cons of retiring in Japan? 

Japan is regarded as one of the safest, most organized, and culturally rich retirement destinations on the planet, but it does have some logistical drawbacks. These are the pros and cons of retiring in Japan. 

Pros 

  • Rich culture and high quality of life: In 2021, Japan was voted the second-best country to live in. In 2024, its reputation for safety and exceptionally high quality of life remains upheld.  

  • Large retiree community: 29.9% of people in Japan are aged 65 or older, and this number is expected to reach 38% by 2070. As such, there is an abundance of senior clubs and services that accommodate retirees.  

  • Universal healthcare system: All Japanese citizens, including retirees, have access to Japan’s highly advanced and accessible healthcare system.  

Cons 

  • Language barrier: English is not a priority language for Japan. Communication can be challenging unless you can speak basic or fluent Japanese.  

  • Tricky visa requirements: It takes ten years to earn Japanese citizenship and 40 years to earn a Japanese pension.  

  • High cost of living: Japan is an expensive place to live. The minimum income requirement is $32,200 per year, which is much higher than America’s standard of $27,600.  

What are the best places to retire in Japan? 

There are many scenic and impressive places to retire in Japan. While property can be expensive to buy and rent, the views and lifestyle make up for it. Some of the best places to retire in Japan include: 

  • Tokyo: Tokyo is Japan’s economic epicenter, filled with world-class restaurants, architecture, and technology for retirees who still want to lead an active lifestyle.  

  • Nagoya: One of Japan’s most populous cities, Nagoya is surprisingly peaceful and quiet, with lower-than-average house prices and picturesque views.  

  • Kyoto: Scenic and historical Kyoto is a popular tourist destination with a moderately high cost of living and a thriving senior community. 

What age can you retire in Japan? 

To retire in Japan, you must be at least 65 years old. However, it is common for people to work into their late 60s and early 70s to boost their income before retirement.  

A full Japanese pension is ¥795,000 (or $5,317) annually.  

Only Japanese citizens have access to pensions in Japan. And even then, you must have made labor contributions to the country for at least 40 years to receive them. Partial pensions are available if you have contributed for more than 10 years.  

What is the average cost of retirement in Japan? 

To retire in Japan, you will need a minimum of $32,200 per year.  

This is significantly higher than the average retirement earnings of a US citizen, which ranges between $20,000 and $27,000 per year.  

Do you pay taxes after retirement in Japan? 

Any income you earn post-retirement in Japan is subject to tax of between 5% and 45%.  

If you have a Social Security agreement, you may be able to transfer your international pension to Japan, but this will be taxed as income.  

What programs are there for emigrating to Japan? 

If your goal is to retire in Japan, the emigration program you follow must involve obtaining Japanese citizenship, which takes ten years overall.  

This involves being a permanent resident for five years, applying for citizenship, and then continuing to live and earn in Japan for another five years.  

What visas do I need to retire in Japan? 

To retire in Japan, you need a Japanese citizenship visa, and this is not an easy document to obtain.  

You have to emigrate to Japan and live there for five years on a permanent residency visa. Only after that can you apply for citizenship, which takes another five years. It’s a decade-long process in total.  

Japan doesn’t offer any retirement visas, so the only other way to retire there besides obtaining your own citizenship is to be married to a Japanese citizen.  

If you enter Japan on a work visa, the visa will be revoked when you hit retirement age, and you will need to find alternative reasons to maintain your Japanese citizenship.  

What are my healthcare options in Japan? 

Japan offers an incredible universal healthcare system that is available to all residents.  

The healthcare program is subsidized for all citizens who make Japanese Social Security contributions, which you would if you were a retired citizen.  

Is it safe to retire in Japan? 

Japan is the 10th safest country in the world. With a very low violent crime rate of 0.3 per 10,000 and a strong culture of respect and moral duty, safety concerns are exceedingly low in Japan.  

Is Japan a good place to retire? 

If you are willing to be patient with regard to your application process and learn some Japanese, retiring in Japan can be a great idea.  

The healthcare, vibrant culture, high quality of life, and level of safety make it an ideal spot to settle for those who can afford to.  

Get expert retirement advice 

Just because you’re retiring doesn’t mean that your adventure travels are over. Japan is an internationally esteemed retirement destination that many seniors choose for its technological advancement, incredible cuisine, cleanliness, and rich culture.  

To find out more about emigrating to Japan and securing your financial future in your golden years, let Unbiased match you with an SEC-regulated financial advisor.  

Writers

Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.