Square One

In the last few days, I’ve suffered a couple of setbacks, unfortunately. One private, one business; they are not seriously serious, but still things I’ll need to take care of and find a workaround for.

A Man presses a "reject" buttionPersonal first: As you know, most of the people who rent an apartment (or even a company office) need a guarantor to do so. The guarantor is required to pay for costs the tenant may not be able (or willing) to pay. This can be missed rents, damages to the property on moving out, etc. When I moved in here, a friend of mine was so kind to be the guarantor for my apartment. He made clear that this is the only one apartment he would ever be guaranteeing for, but since I wasn’t planning on moving anywhere else for the time being, I thought I was settled.

Well, about a month ago, I received an email from him where he told me that he had suffered some hardships, and that he cannot be a guarantor for anybody at this point. So, he asked me to release him from the contract. Obviously, I’m not happy about that, but then again, he’s a friend doing me a favour, so I agreed. I did ask him to talk to my landlord though, and I was hoping the landlord would agree not to have a guarantor for the rest of my lease.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen: I received an email today that he insists on my getting a new guarantor. Dang it. So, I’m back to square one: how to find a guarantor. Of course, after some three years more in Japan, I have a number of friends I might be able to ask for this favour. Still, a good guarantor is a person of “good standing” to which the landlord must agree, and somebody like this may be a bit more difficult to find. There are also companies who act as guarantors (chiefly for foreigners), but of course, they come with a fee attached. I have not yet spoken to anyone, but it’s something I need to start doing relatively quickly.

And then there is a business issue: I have tried to get a Japanese credit card associated with my business account. Usually, I don’t shop online, but there are always things you cannot pay for otherwise, for example web hosting for my What’s Up in Kyoto homepage. My accountant helped me filling out the application form, and last Friday I spent an hour at my bank to get the final kinks sorted out and my hanko at all the right places. I was promised a decision within a month.

They were much, much faster than that: Already yesterday I received a phone call (two, actually, the second girl did speak English) telling me that there’s no way I’m getting a credit card from them. Why? Because Japanese credit cards are reserved for Japanese and foreigners with permanent residency in Japan. Well, I’m not going to magically turn into the former, and the latter will take at least another 6 years, so it seems I’m out of luck for this one as well.

Not even the mention that the card was meant for the company and not for me did help because “the company is you, really”, which is true in a sense, but also bullshit in another sense. The infuriating part of the call was her tone of voice when she said “I’m so sorry” – if you are indeed that sorry, sweetheart, then try to find a way to make it happen after all. But it seems that the girl was too low in the hierarchy to make decisions like that, and unfortunately, my go-to guy in the bank who seemed to be a bit more flexible, must have a new job in another branch.

As you can see, I’m back to the starting point with two things. As I said above, neither of them is extremely bad (what would my landlord do if I cannot find a new guarantor – kick me out?) but both of them require efforts and possibly money that I wouldn’t have needed to spend. I hope life in general will go more smoothly again soon