Posted by debito on January 25th, 2008
Hi Blog: Could the rumors have been true after all?
Gov’t plans to scrap registration system on foreign nationals
TOKYO, Jan. 25 KYODO NEWS
Courtesy Martyn Williams
(EDS: UPDATING WITH ADDITIONAL INFO)
The government plans to scrap the current registration system for foreign nationals living in Japan and introduce a new resident registry system similar to that for Japanese residents, Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama said Friday.
”We are moving in the direction of deciding to abolish it,” Hatoyama told a press conference, indicating the Justice Ministry and the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry are working to craft a bill to that end to submit in next year’s ordinary parliamentary session.
Under the current registration system, the personal data of foreign nationals living in Japan, including their address and marital status, are registered only on an individual basis and not on a household basis, hampering local municipalities from grasping the situation of foreign residents in Japan.
Since foreign residents are not obliged to report to municipalities a change of address, it has also been difficult for the authorities to provide foreign nationals with information in areas such as school enrollment, health insurance, and residence tax procedures.
The move to scrap the system comes amid mounting calls for action from local municipalities with growing populations of foreign nationals such as Brazilians of Japanese descent. Some of the children of such residents are failing to enroll in local schools at the appropriate times.
”We are unable to properly notify families having school-age children of necessary information on school enrollment,” an official from the town of Oizumi, Gunma Prefecture, where foreign nationals account for about 16 percent of the overall population.
A social insurance consultant from the town, Shuichi Ono, said, ”Some foreign residents frequently move from one place to another. Once they return to their home countries, it is not easy to send them residence tax notifications.”
Under the envisioned registration system, information on foreign residents will be handled on a household basis as well.
The government is also considering replacing the current alien registration cards, which foreign residents are required to carry at all times, with a new certificate card.
COMMENT: Pinch me. Let’s keep an eye on this one, people, as it’s fundamental to our lives in Japan–and getting rid of the Gaijin Card could be the best news we’ve had all decade. It all depends on what goes in its place. What’s with this “certificate card”, and will not carrying it 24-7 still be a criminal offense?
As commenters below put well, it’s not like any government to give up a means of control over people, especially when you consider that practically all governments to some degree control information about their foreigners (not to mention their citizens). But imagine if the Gaijin Card Checks actually became somehow less nasty (or even nonexistent–but that’s sky pie at this point), and NJ were actually formally registered as “residents” with some kind of juuminhyou?
In sum, will the new system be a way to ensure all people regardless of nationality are informed of and guaranteed the fruits of Japanese society? Or will it still just be a means to police them?
If you see any more articles before I do, please add them to the Comments section in full text with links. Thanks. Arudou Debito in Tokyo