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  • Japan Times: Foreigner registration revision to include ID chip, probably same policing function

    Posted by arudou debito on January 27th, 2008

    Hi Blog. Jun Hongo got on this–the system comes more into focus. NHK said Jan 27 that Gaijin Cards will be replaced with IC Cards, too… Debito

    ==============================

    Foreigner registration system to be revised
    May lead to better services, more control
    The Japan Times: Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008
    By JUN HONGO, Staff writer
    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080126a1.html

    The government plans to abolish the current registration system for foreigners living in Japan and introduce a new regime similar to that for Japanese residents that will manage them on a household basis, Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama said Friday.

    The new arrangement, which is being examined by a team at the Justice Ministry and the internal affairs ministry, is expected to introduce a new registry system under which detailed information of foreign residents on a household basis, instead of an individual basis, will be kept by local governments.

    Critics view the new system, however, as increased state control.

    Under the current general registration law it is a requirement for foreign residents’ births, deaths and marriages to be reported. But the new alien registration law will make it easier for local governments to collect such information from foreigners.

    Local officials often claim it is difficult for them to provide foreign nationals with information in areas such as school enrollment, health insurance and residence tax procedures. Some are also concerned about crimes committed by foreign nationals.

    While the new system may help local authorities improve their services for foreign residents, some critics say it is likely to increase governmental control over foreign residents in Japan.

    Hatoyama said Friday he hopes to submit a bill to abolish the current Alien Registration Law to enable the new arrangement to be passed in the next ordinary Diet session. The plan surfaced as a result of the government’s decision last June to revise the foreign registration system by 2009 to better cope with local government needs.

    “Details have not been finalized and we are not at the point of revealing” the new regulations, a spokesman for the Immigration Control Office said, but the finalized outline of the law is expected to be released this spring.

    Under the Alien Registration Law enacted in 1952, all foreigners in Japan are obliged to apply for registration with the local government of their residence.

    Currently, only photographs, passport and registration forms are required for the process, which are used to clarify matters pertaining to their residence and status. There were 2.08 million registered foreigners in Japan at the end of 2006.

    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.

    Under the new system, long-term foreign residents will get registration cards at airports and local immigration offices, which will then be used to register their information at local governments.

    The data will be controlled in a similar manner as for Japanese citizens, and used to compile information for taxation, health insurance programs and census-taking. Special permanent residents, including those in Japan before the war and their descendants, are also expected to be listed in the new registry system.

    Makoto Miyaguchi, an official of Minokamo, Gifu Prefecture, which has a large Brazilian population, said the current law is not sufficient to provide administrative services for foreigners in his city.

    “Since the current system does not gather detailed information, we have often been unable to give adequate services for foreigners in the area,” including school guidance for parents and information on welfare services, he said.

    Approximately 10 percent, or 50,000 residents, in Minokamo are registered foreigners.

    Miyaguchi said that both his city and its foreign population will benefit from the overall detailed management, since it will be able to better track locations and the status of foreign individuals and households.

    But while some suggest that the new system will view foreigners as legitimate residents instead of objects of supervision, others say it will only strengthen government control over foreigners while providing minimal improvement in their lives.

    Yoji Shimada, a Tochigi Prefecture-based public notary, said that although a change in the defective Alien Registration Law is welcome, the proposal so far shows no extensive improvement.

    “Foreigners will still be listed on a separate ledger from Japanese residents, and they will most likely be required to carry their IDs at all times,” said Shimada, who is married to a Thai.

    Shimada said that information on households may become more accessible by local governments, but discriminatory clauses will likely remain. “The Justice Ministry will have better control and more information on foreigners in Japan — and that seems to be the only change in the proposal for the new law,” he said.

    The Japan Times: Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008
    ENDS

    27 Responses to “Japan Times: Foreigner registration revision to include ID chip, probably same policing function”

    1. Paulo Motoyama Says:

      Everything that is new or different will always be strange for anyone, this new system is not perfect but it is a step forward on the changes in Japan. In Brazil all foreigners has its identification card issued by the federal police and residents by the civilian police. In the current model of record is a “total madness” or neglect of the Japanese, I myself am an example, my record has registered my children, but no record of my wife is not registered and still not hear that marked change since the arrival in the city , which was born 2 more children, total neglect of the authorities. Discovered this Friday and tomorrow Monday will ask satisfaction to the municipal hall, and looks it is the second time that this happens.

      P.S.: Sorry for my english.

    2. James Annan Says:

      I didn’t see any mention of a chip…not that I’m saying it’s not likely…

      –ON THE PLANE HOME AT NOON TODAY, I WAS WATCHING WHAT I ASSUME WAS NHK 7AM NEWS THIS MORNING, WHERE IN SUBTITLES THEY MENTIONED THE IC CHIP. AS I MENTIONED IN THE PREAMBLE TO THE ARTICLE. DEBITO

    3. Willie Says:

      Paulo,

      I’m not afraid of change, I’m afraid of anything Hatoyama wants to do. If the opposition wins the next election, and wants to make some changes, I’d be a lot less suspicious of the real motives behind the scenes. You’re right, though, that the current system lets a lot of people slip through the cracks.

      re: chips
      Current Japanese passports contain them, I believe. We can’t expect less “service” than they get.

    4. anonymous Says:

      I only hope that the IC CHip, it is not an RFID chip. If it is, they can track and retrieve information at a distance and without the card carrier knowledge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RFID). Quite nightmarish and Orwellian.

    5. Mulboyne Says:

      We ought not to be surprised by these developments. An IC card proposal and national register has been in the pipeline since 2005. A plan was submitted to the Chief Cabinet Secretary who, at that time, was Hiroyuki Hosoda, in summer of that year. Certainly, a lot of such proposals don’t make it through but it’s worth noting that the original plan as reported in the Yomiuri (no archive) called for including fingerprint data on the chip. (Fingerprinting foreigners at port of entry was already on the agenda by that point).

    6. Anonymous2 Says:

      Anonymous,

      Even if it is RFID, there plenty of easy ways to block the signal. Of course I would read the upcoming revised laws first and comply to the character.

      I can just image: walking down the street, a police car drives by. A minute later it returns and asks me why I don’t have my alien ID. I pull out my shielded ID and ask “Oh, you mean this? Why in the world would you think that I did not have it? And further, since you have not confirmed my nationality yet, why would you think that I need to carry one?” Meiwaku works both ways.

    7. DR Says:

      Many of my US friends who have been issued with RFID equipped passports have disabled the chip with one well-aimed whack of a rubber mallet. The passport is still a valid document for travel, and meets all the machine readable secifications. The RFID is now non-readable, but so what? Most passports worldwide are not embedded. As my buddies struck their passports they muttered something about “destroying government property” and smiled, because, they said, “as “we the people” it’s ours anyway!”

    8. Willie Says:

      DR,

      Sure, one can do that, and lots will. The problem with all the Orwellian technology is that it reaches the point where you become suspicious if you don’t have it. Also, normal processes become inconvenient.

    9. Ke5in Says:

      I was thinking about this after the post last week about the GOJ repealing it’s gringo card rules. It’s fairly easy to figure out what the GOJ is up to – they’re becoming quite predictable. Just imagine the most cynical, officious or worst-case scenario that something could possibly end up as, and you’ll be pretty close to the mark. I think we all saw this coming.

      … although I wonder how many times they’ll replace the chip in your card before they figure out that the money they might make in keeping tabs on you is not worth the expenditure in chips and tracking equipment etc. Probably never, to judge by the fingerprinting debacle at airports.

      Standing by with my rubber mallet …

    10. Paulo Motoyama Says:

      Well, the city hall has not helped in any way, the municipal official said that everything is correct and that is not written in the names of children in the record of my wife because she is not a “household” so even born or not a child is not writing. He showed me some examples of a book of laws, but not shown me the law that speaks about it. He said the alien registration card so it is for a person, not for the family, I said that if I ask for a lawyer if that was true, and the official said that may ask what is “machigai wa nai.” That is so a summary, is that I am a bit nervous, even more than he talking that I do not have “koseki,” I reply that I entire world has “koseki” anywhere in the world has a family register only varying the system applied.
      Anyone know of any law on this?
      Meanwhile, I continue walking …

    11. InJM Says:

      Driver’s Liscences are going IC too so I don’t think that is much of a propblem but it still doesn’t seem like big changes are happening.

    12. DR Says:

      More information about RFIDs is, coincidentally, available in The Japan Times of Monday January 27 2008, page 9 above the fold. Enjoy!

      –SEND US THE ARTICLE WHEN IT COMES ONLINE! THANKS.

    13. Anonymous2 Says:

      Ke5in,

      “…although I wonder how many times they’ll replace the chip in your card before they figure out that the money they might make []”

      Since immigrations will be taking control of this operation, I wouldn’t be surprised if they charge us to issue the cards. Remember, visas are already big business. Why would they pass up on more free money? Of course it is just speculation, but we’ll see next year.

    14. Adam Says:

      [quote]Current Japanese passports contain them, I believe. We can’t expect less “service” than they get.[/quote]

      Unfortunately, J passports do not have any such chip and data except special photo. My EU country passport has biometric photo plus chip with fingerprints. This is also the issue about fingerprinting all legal residents in Japan. Instead of doing so, better make chip readable machine and ask J Citizens to submit their f-pribnts while applying for passport. I doubt they will be happy to do so.

    15. DR Says:

      ATTENCION: PAOLO MOTOYAMA
      (Deep breath…..IN!…..OUT!….all is well!)
      I found the Portuguese language site at the Hamamatsu City Hall, (and I don’t know where you live, and please, to protect your privacy, don’t say!) I’ve had the opportunity to visit this Shi-akshyo a few times with friends, and they are very accommodating and friendly. Fallan Portugese!
      Check: http://www.city.hamamatsu.shizuoka.jp/hamapo/index.htm
      Even if your own town office cannot help you, there are always people who answer the phones in Portuguese here….just follow the links for the numbers…and I’m sure you’ll have your questions answered. Bom Dia!
      The city’s main site is…. http://www.city.hamamatsu.shizuoka.jp/

    16. Willie Says:

      Adam,

      Are you sure? My wife’s new passport has something that sure looks like a chip. I don’t mean it requires fingerprints, just that we don’t know the capabilities of any possible chip, as in RFID.

    17. Mark Says:

      All new Japanese passports are now “E” passports in that they have a chip imbedded into a hard page in the middle of them. While I’m not sure if they are RFID or just IC, the only data that is stored on them is the person’s name, sex, DOB, and perhaps their digitized photo. In other words, exactly what’s on the 3rd page of their passport. It supposed to be an extra security feature, making it more difficult to forge the information on the passport. If the chip data and the written page don’t match, there’s a problem.

    18. Ke5in Says:

      Anon – you’re right … I wasn’t being pessimistic enough was I :D

    19. Ke5in Says:

      And … I might have to start carrying magnets in my wallet – for school, you know ;)

    20. Adam Says:

      [quote]Adam,
      Are you sure? My wife’s new passport has something that sure looks like a chip. I don’t mean it requires fingerprints, just that we don’t know the capabilities of any possible chip, as in RFID.[/quote]

      [quote]# Mark Says:
      January 29th, 2008 at 9:25 am

      All new Japanese passports are now “E” passports in that they have a chip imbedded into a hard page in the middle of them. While I’m not sure if they are RFID or just IC, the only data that is stored on them is the person’s name, sex, DOB, and perhaps their digitized photo. In other words, exactly what’s on the 3rd page of their passport. It supposed to be an extra security feature, making it more difficult to forge the information on the passport. If the chip data and the written page don’t match, there’s a problem.[/quote]

      It seems there were some changes. According to Mark`s post I believe GoJ decided to do something about it, but I guess there are not fingerprints in the chip.
      In my country in Europe there is fingerprint along with other datas and ONLY can pick up passport in person. They check your identity not only by showing your national ID but also match your fingerprints with ones in the chip. This is the reason nobody else can pick up my EU passport, even family. The same is with passport application of course.

      By the way you may find interesting articles below which will affect all non-EU visitors coming by land, sea or air to EU. EU Citizens are to be exempted as J people in Japan:

      http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/01/25/europe/union.php

      http://euobserver.com/9/25539

    21. Gene van Troyer Says:

      As long as no one is forced to have a chip implanted, I don’t see there’s anything sinister about this. On the other hand, I do see that chips of any kind present marvelous opportunities for identity thieves to clandestinely scan the gaikokujin toroko shomeisho for NJ data and use it for bogus registrations for illegal entrants. If you think having to straighten out a case of identity theft involving your credit cards might be problematic, just wait until your NJ data is lifted and used, and the cops come looking for you…

    22. Martin Says:

      It’s a slippery slope. They ask for fingerprints now, tomorrow for chips (that emit waves that cause cancer), and next year they will ask for DNA. And why not for “smell samples” (a nose hair, a piece of panties or the fork I ate my half-cooked-airplane-meal with; they would keep that in a pot like the Stasi used to do in East Germany).

      I plan to have kids in the near future, maybe they could confirm if I’m the real father when I’ll pass through the gates…

      It’s out of the blue, but I was wondering if my kids could have my family name ? I work in 3 schools and kids that are half only have Japanese last names.

    23. adam w Says:

      course they can have your name..
      but unless your wife takes your name they cant
      as under japanese law,if parents have separate names(only foreigners married to j can do this) the kids must take the js name cos you wont be on the koseki.
      they probably have the js surname to avoid being discriminated against – as the surname would have to be in katakana.
      foreigners can change their surname into kanji,but japanese family
      (wife or kids) can only use the katakana form of this unless the foreigner naturalizes.
      one thing also poss is to have a different surname for kids on their japanese and foreign passports
      (poss in uk dont know bout others)

    24. J Says:

      I only really have one concern about the new IC chips in cards we carry… Can I use it to buy ciggies and beer from the vending machines like the new drivers licenses can be used? or do I have to “lose” my drivers license to get an IC chipped one?

      But on a more serious note, who protects our private info contained on the card? I read a report that a professor in the US figured out how to hack the cards from exon and use that data… (if my facts are a bit wrong please forgive, but you get the point)

    25. TJJ Says:

      Adam W,

      not sure I understood this “if parents have separate names(only foreigners married to j can do this)”

      Could you please explain that? Thanks.

    26. adam w Says:

      easy ^
      under japanese law,japanese married couples must share same
      last name(either man or womans)
      only exception is if japanese person marries a foreigner,then they and the nj can keep separate surnames.

    27. Hammer Says:

      Alien vs. Predator–IC Chips and The Japanese Tax Man

      So pervasive is Japan’s need to distinguish citizen from non-citizen that it is even depriving itself of the ability to administer foreigner’s taxes more efficiently. However, if foreigners are given something akin to a Japanese local registry, the tax office may end up monitoring foreigners’ income. So, be careful what you wish for.

      For those who file Japanese tax returns, the period to file tax returns is February 15-March 15. Attempting to file a Japanese tax return is always an ordeal of trying to obtain the necessary forms (carbon forms that are in short supply, so online PDF forms can’t be used), flip them over and back handwriting the numbers as one follows the twisted computation path, and then mailing them in with mountains of paper receipts. So, this non-Japanese was interested in a new electronic filing system that would have allowed filing from overseas without attaching receipts. Japan is even offering a Y5000 tax credit for using the E-Tax system, described at

      http://www.e-tax.nta.go.jp

      But, for a non-Japanese, it is extremely difficult to use this system. Yes, the Japanese tax authorities dearly want every single foreigner to pay their last yen in taxes. But, the National Tax Authority has decided that to use the e-tax system, one must have an electronic signature embedded in an IC chip card. For persons with a kihon daicho (central registry), an electronic-signature embedded IC chip (as in the “Jukinet” electronic registry system)is available at one’s local ward office for around Y1000.

      Foreigners, however, do not have a kihon daicho and therefore cannot get a Y1000 signature. After some research, the NTA suggested going to a commercial source of compatible electronic signatures, Miroku joho service (mjs.co.jp) which charges Y32,550 for the same service.

      I don’t know of any foreigners eager to pay 32 times the Japanese rate to file their taxes–do you?

      One wonders why the NTA would insist on using an IC chip and reader hardware-based system when Japanese financial services firms and stock brokers routinely use ID and password-based software systems to control transactions worth large amounts? It could be that the Japanese government’s love of proprietary, antiquated, hardware-based systems is at fault.

      However, I think the reason that the e-tax system is linked to the central registry is so that the Japanese government can increase its matching of incomes to residents. The main focus is probably on catching Japanese citizens who are receiving more than they should, or paying less than they should, given their income.

      But if non-Japanese are also included in some kind of central registry, and Japan continues to computerize its tax records, non-Japanese will also be subject to the same scrutiny.

      So, be careful what you wish for…

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