How to Check Your Credit in Japan

How to Check Your Credit in Japan

At the end of last week, I came across a great article on RetireJapan that stepped me through the quick and easy process to check my JICC credit report.

RetireJapan - Credit Scores In Japan: JICC

If you’ve been in Japan for a while, are planning on making a large purchase like a house or a car, or simply curious, I’d recommend also checking your credit report. It takes 5-10 minutes, costs ¥1,000, and takes about a week to receive the results in the mail.

My Report

Credit Report

Coming from the US and working in the consumer credit industry in Japan for the last few years I was surprised by the lack of details compared to what credit issuers receive as well as what’s standard in the US.

For example, in the US, your credit report has your credit score followed by open and recently closed accounts and then any inquiries from requests for credit, employment background checks, for new requests for credit, background checks for employment, or even insurance quotes.

After living in Japan for 13 years my credit report had only three entries. The first two were for Softbank contracts followed by a third for a company-issued SMBC credit card.

No Credit Scores

From working within the consumer credit industry I’m aware that credit bureaus in Japan have taken a firm stance against providing a single credit score. I’m not sure exactly why however if I had to guess I would assume it’s because they do not want to take the responsibility of determining a person’s creditworthiness.

Instead, they provide credit issuers with your full credit history including any past and current loans as well as any 3rd party inquiries and the associated credit decisions. Companies then use this to make their own decisions on whether to extend credit or not. In reality, most companies simply take the last couple of decisions and follow suit.

Installment Loans

An interesting note about Softbank installments, they are technically loans due to consumer protection regulations and require both a credit history check and repayment ability check by Softbank.

For example, when applying for in-store credit or loans the consumer laws and regulations become complicated very quickly. I am definitely not a lawyer or that fluent in the rules however my understanding at a high level is if you buy something and make a single payment within 30 - 45 days then no credit checks are needed however once purchases are split into multiple payments and/or the repayment terms extend more than say 45 days then these become loans requiring credit and repayment ability checks.

Final Thoughts

While I am very happy that Japan does not follow the same practices in using credit scores for everything from loans to employment, etc. I really wish credit inquiries were handled more transparancy. Giving consumers the ability to confirm and verify their full credit history is critical to ensure that no errors exist especially as identity theft cases increase.

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Charles Founder of Gaijin Money, highly interested in personal finance and investing.
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