“My Number” System
The Japanese government is launching a universal card system. It will be used with various governmental agencies (for example to file taxes, for pension etc …). Starting this month, all Japanese residents (more on this later) will receive a notification card and an application form. Upon return of the latter, they will receive their personal MyNumber Card. Residents in Japan will be identified by that new card. That will start in January 2016.
The purpose of the system is obviously to centralize all information. But at the beginning, it will relate to Social Security and Taxation. It is also a tool to improve “disaster response”. While the news has generated protests among the Japanese population, it is worth noting that applying for the Card is not mandatory (yet). Many people are concerned that information could easily be leaked and that this new system will enable the Government to “watch” individuals. In turn, the Government argues that this system will be convenient for the users (less paper for administrative tasks) and improve the public service’s efficiency.
Does the system apply to foreigners in Japan?
It applies to all residents in Japan, thus including foreigners. One just has to reside for more than 3 months and have a fixed address in Japan to be eligible. Long-term students will be eligible. In other words, whoever holds a resident card can obtain his/her My Number card.
Basically the card will be used as an ID card as it will bear the essential information (name, address, date of birth, sex and picture). For instance, one will be able to use the My Number card to register to a Fitness Club. Of course, the numbers (12 digits, all numerals), in the back of the card, are not to be divulged though.
Improvement or breach of citizens’ privacy? You be the judge. But what Japan is doing now, many countries have already achieved. Whether we like it or not, it seems it is a byproduct of technology and thus pretty much unavoidable.
For more information, you may want to visit this official website:
This website explains very well how it works: