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  • Hurrah, the separate Alien Registration System is abolished after 60 years. Now let’s consider the GOJ give & take regarding tracking NJ under this policy

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on July 12th, 2012

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    Hi Blog. After many years of bureaucratic policy trial balloons and lots of advance warning, July 9, 2012 has finally come to pass, and the longstanding Alien Registration System, promulgated in 1952 to help the GOJ keep track of the pesky aliens (mostly former citizens of the Japanese Empire who were stripped of their Japanese citizenship) who wouldn’t go back to “their country” (staying on in Japan as Zainichi, generational “foreigners” born in Japan to this day), has been abolished sixty years later. In its place, NJ are now registered on Japan’s juuminhyou Residency Certificatesclosing up a ludicrous system where only citizens could be registered as “residents” (juumin) despite paying Residents’ Tax (yup, juuminzei), and teeth-grindlingly stupid moves such as local governments giving animals and fictional characters their own honorary “juuminhyou” despite untaxable status.  Now NJ can also now be listed with their Japanese (and non-Japanese) families properly as family members and heads of household (no longer excluded even from local population tallies for not being listed in the juumin kihon daicho). Finally, closure to that. Good riddance.

    That said, the new system also includes new Gaijin Cards (Zairyuu Kaado), which are higher-tech versions (I say remotely trackable due to the RFID technology inside, by design; see below) and still required under criminal law to be carried 24-7 under penalty of search, seizure, and possible incarceration for a week or three. That hasn’t changed. In fact I would now argue it’s gotten worse — since Japanese citizens (even if computer chip technology has also been introduced into J driver licenses and passports, which not all Japanese get anyway) are not required by law to carry any ID whatsoever at all times. Some historical links regarding the true intention of the ZRK (tracking and control of untrustworthy NJ, not convenience for them as is generally sold) follow.

    Japan Times IC Chip Gaijin Card Pt 3: View of Bureaucrats: Control of NJ at all costs

    Japan Times May 20, 2009: “IC you: Bugging the Alien” article on new Gaijin Cards

    Bus. consortium to track Ginza shoppers, then IC Gaijin Cards?

    Kyodo: GOJ proposes GPS tracking of criminals. SITYS.

    Mysterious Asahi translation: “IC cards planned to track ‘nikkeijin’”

    Japan Times on Japan’s emerging NJ policing laws. Nichibenren: “violation of human rights”

    Follow-up: More on fingerprinting, tracking people electronically, and RFID technology

    New Japanese driver licenses now have IC Chips, no honseki

    Alright, I’ll paste some articles below and let’s see what the media has made of this. Feel free to tell us how the changes have been affecting you as well. Arudou Debito


    Alien system ends; foreigners to be issued resident cards
    The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 10, 2012), courtesy of JT

    A new management system for foreign residents in Japan started Monday. As part of the changes, the previous alien registration system will be abolished and a new resident card will be issued to foreign residents in Japan.

    The new system is designed to reduce the number of foreign residents staying in Japan illegally and to be more convenient for bona fide foreign residents.

    In the previous alien registration system that began in 1952, local municipalities issued alien registration certificates to foreign residents without examining their resident status. This enabled foreigners staying in Japan illegally to obtain the certificates.

    Under the new system, the Justice Ministry will issue a resident card to foreign residents, excluding certain people such as diplomats, who have been granted a status of residence in Japan with a period of stay for more than three months. The card will hold information that includes the name, nationality, date of birth and address of the cardholder.

    For special permanent residents such as Korean residents in Japan, a special permanent resident certificate will be issued instead of a resident card.

    The period of stay limit for foreign residents has been extended from three years to five years. Under the new system, people leaving Japan will not be required in principle to obtain a re-entry permit if they hold a passport and a resident card and return to Japan within a year and before their period of stay expires.

    Foreigners with a resident card or a special permanent resident certificate are included in the national resident registry and they will be able to obtain a copy of their certificate of residence from their local municipality.

    On the other hand, those who stay in Japan illegally will not be included in the registry. This could prevent them from obtaining administrative services including education services and medical assistance because local municipalities will not be able to obtain necessary information, such as their address.

    The Japan Times Tuesday, July 10, 2012
    Re-entry permits soon consigned to history
    Foreigners flock for new residence IDs
    By MINORU MATSUTANI Staff writer

    A large number of foreign residents flocked to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau on Monday, the first day it is issuing new “zairyu,” or residence, cards to replace alien registration cards.

    At 8:30 a.m., more than 100 people had lined up for the applications to obtain a new card, an official at the center in Minato Ward said.

    Those who arrived at around 8 a.m. had to wait about two hours. People who didn’t bring a head shot measuring 4 cm by 3 cm also had to line up at the photo booths.

    Eight regional bureaus, six district immigration offices and 63 branch offices across the nation are now issuing the residence card. Applicants can go to a bureau or office, fill out the application form and receive the card the same day.

    “I feel like a part of society,” Yang Chunying, 52, a Chinese national, said after receiving her residence card at the Tokyo bureau. “I am glad to have the card because things will be more convenient.”

    The new immigration control system that began Monday has unified the administrative work on foreign residents under the Immigration Bureau.

    While some fear that controls on non-Japanese will be tightened, the government has made it more convenient for law-abiding foreigners by extending visa lengths to five years from the current three, and eliminating the requirement to obtain a re-entry permit before leaving Japan for any period less than a year.

    The system is designed to be tougher on illegal residents, however.

    Such people have been receiving various public services because municipalities usually don’t care about who is here legally or illegally, but this may not last under the Immigration Bureau’s watch.

    Some 130 people, mainly Asians, held a demonstration Monday against the new immigration control system at Hibiya Park in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, saying it is overly harsh on illegal residents.

    Rest of the article at


    First new residency cards for foreign nationals issued at Haneda
    July 09, 2012 (Mainichi Japan)

    Two people on a flight from the United States became the first to get Japan’s new foreign resident cards early on the morning of July 9, the first day of the Ministry of Justice’s new mid- to long-term residency management system for foreign nationals.

    Late on July 8, staff from the Immigration Bureau — administered by the justice ministry — stood by at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) in preparation for the switch to the new system. When the clock struck midnight, they changed the signs above the immigration counters, and those indicating card-issuance counters for mid- to long-term residents.

    Two passengers from a flight from Los Angeles, California, were the first to apply for the new resident cards at around 4:30 a.m. on July 9. The first recipient was Carlos Shaw, a 37-year-old Tennessee native who was coming to Japan for the first time. Shaw, who is here to teach English at an elementary and junior high school in Yamagata, said he felt lucky to be the first recipient of the new card.

    Because the alien registration certificates that had heretofore been issued are being replaced by the new resident cards, mid- to long-term residents already in Japan must exchange their old cards for new ones when they renew their visas. Foreign nationals residing in Japan illegally are not eligible for resident cards under the new system.
    Original Japanese

    在留管理:新制度スタート 「カード」を交付
    毎日新聞 2012年07月09日 10時14分(最終更新 07月09日 11時08分)





    87 Responses to “Hurrah, the separate Alien Registration System is abolished after 60 years. Now let’s consider the GOJ give & take regarding tracking NJ under this policy”

    1. sendaiben Says:

      I’m still not 100% clear on one thing: for permanent residents, when do we get new cards? Is it when current ARC expires, or the first time we re-enter the country at the airport?

      — If you re-enter the country, you get it there (but check at Immigration regarding your Re-Entry Permit; that system still has some bugs, and you don’t want the clock to reset if you haven’t got a current REP as of pre-July 9). If you’re just hanging about, you just wait until your current ARC expires, no matter how many years it may be. Which means the old ARC will take quite a few years to phase out.

    2. sendaiben Says:

      So when I take a trip abroad in September, on arrival back in Japan I will be photographed at the airport and this will become my zairyuu card? I take it they’ll keep the ARC?

      Hopefully they’ll have ironed out the kinks by then :)

    3. Mumei Says:

      > and still required under criminal law to be carried 24-7 under penalty of search, seizure, and possible incarceration for a week or three. That hasn’t changed.

      Debito: Are you sure about that? The link that you gave does not clarify it.
      The law that required this was 外国人登録法, but it is void (廃止) as of July 9th.

      There are two replacement laws, but a quick read of them does not seem to suggest this.
      Of course a full, complete read through is still necessary, though.

      — Let’s have them and give them a read. Thanks.

    4. Icarus Says:

      You’re not going to get a card at the airport if you already have an ARC. If you are a permanent resident, you need to get your card by July 8, 2015:

      You also don’t need a re-entry permit now, but you will require one if you plan on leaving the country for more than a year.

      Also, Debito, I really wish you would drop the whole RFID complaint. If you’re worried about being remotely tracked, just keep it in a tinfoil wallet and put your fears to rest. Realistically, people living in Japan have so many chips in their wallet now that tracking someone is extremely trivial for authorities. In particular, if you have a SUICA or PASMO they can see where you’ve been traveling, what purchases you’ve made, etc. etc. There was actually a news story a couple months back where a JR employee used the SUICA data to stalk a passenger. So while the complaints are valid from a privacy standpoint, it’s just really distracting when you try to conflate that issue with the more important ARC pros and cons.

      — Hokay. Link to the JR employee incident? Thanks. I also am not one to accept fait accomplis, so sorry for mentioning that NJ are still the only ones required to carry (incidentally trackable) ID.

    5. John Says:

      I had the bad luck to have to renew my status of residence in the same week that this new system came in, by coincidence. Unfortunately, due to my schedule I had no choice but to go to my nearest regional immigration office last Tuesday, day 2 of the new system. (This was a six-hour round trip, including an hour’s waiting time, and involved taking half a day off work.)

      I arrived at 10am and saw there were separate counters for cards and regular applications such as SORs. At that point, the ticketing queue count stood at 325 for the cards and 87 for other applications (they opened at 9am). There was a large crowd of people applying for the new cards; I saw lots of Brazilian passports. So, hundreds of people had piled in early on day 2. I still have my passport and ARC; I presume that I will have to exchange the latter for the new card when I return to get my new SOR.

      There is an article in the Japan Times – – which shows that a lot of people wrongly think that you *have* to get the card this week, when in fact it is only necessary when you extend/change status, make some other change, your old ARC expires/disappears/gets damaged, or within three years. There’s a few odd comments there, such as the woman who thinks the new ‘Residence Card’ makes her “feel like a part of society” (even though Japanese don’t have them). Someone else, recently arrived, may have misread a letter telling her to apply for her first card after 9th July, thinking it meant she had to come on that day. Another person who has been here 15 years was renewing a re-entry permit and took the opportunity to get the new card too – but re-entry permits are no longer required unless you leave for more than a year. And there’s someone who’s annoyed to find out she need not have come.

      The system crashed on day #1, amusingly, and many cards were issued without a special signature which is part of the anti-forgery measures. So many people who leapt out of bed to race for the card will have been given a less secure one. See

    6. MMT Says:

      Regarding Sendaiben’s question – Those with permanent residency can apply for the new Zairyu Card at any time at their nearest immigration office. However, everyone must have the new card within three years of the implementation of the new card; in other words, by July 9th, 2015. See the Ministry of Justice page for more information.

      As to the point of foreign residents being added to the juuminhyou system, it is indeed good news for the thousands of families with non-Japanese family members who until this week have had to endure being listed separately from their loved ones on resident documents. However, it is important to note that while every family member is now listed together on the juuminhyou and foreign residents are now permitted to be listed as setainushi (head of household) the fact remains that non-Japanese are still being kept separate from other (ie. Japanese) residents. Their residency certificate, while saying “住民票” is, is fact registered as a 外国人住民票, and are registered as 外国人住民 under the new law. So despite all the debate and years of hashing out how best to merge the two systems, in the eyes of Japan’s bureaucrats Japanese nationality is still a requirement for being an “official resident” in one’s local community.

      Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, while this new law was still being drawn up officials were quoted, “the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry had considered setting up a separate new registry system for foreign residents. But it eventually decided it would be more efficient to amend the national registry system to include foreign nationals.” So the new rules were set up for the convenience of the government, not to provide equality and dignity to all residents, regardless of nationality.

      Link to quoted article:

    7. orientexpress Says:

      When I return coming Friday (July 13) from Singapore to Narita, is it compulsary to get the new card there, although my present ARC is vaild until May 2016 and my visa until March 2015 and the REP until Dec 2012? I prefer to do it at a later timing and not after a long flight at Narita.

      Are the “orange” immigration counters still existing?

      — I think you’ll have to get your new card then. But tell us how it goes.

    8. Loverilakkuma Says:

      As I said several months ago, GOJ’s description of old registration system being “abolished” is misleading based on the following two reasons:

      1) The basic mechanism of information management and control of NJ’s immigration status remains the same. The J immigration bureaucrats require all NJ to register for residency to issue a new card exclusive to them.

      2) NJ are still subject to mandatory ID checking by authorized public agent (i.e., police officer, immigration officer, coast guard)

      Keeping the tabs on NJ with a string attached is exactly what J-immigration bureaucrats proposed in the current registration system. What does it suppose to mean when you hear “古いシステムが無くなる” in Japanese? Does it mean a newly introduced resident system will stop police and legal authorities from bugging you for unspecified reasons anymore because it will properly acknowledge them your legal status? Changing a card label from ARC (Alien Registration Card) to NRC(New Resident Card) on one hand, but continuing the rigmarole that forces NJ to produce ID to the police at the street—no matter what reasons, as usual, doesn’t call it abolishment, at all. This is not the matter of different frame of reference between Japanese and English. This is common sense.

      Moreover, GOJ also presents that they raise the years of maximum stay for up to 5 years with NRC in contrast to 3 years with current ARC. Again. Misleading information. It doesn’t mean you are allowed to stay in Japan up to 5 years. The number of years is not the reference to your duration of stay. It indicates the length of card’s validity as a proof of an authentic ID—same as state ID or driver’s license. In order to stay legally for full 5 years, you need to make constant updates (i.e., renewal) on your visa status by checking the expiration date of document, and have it reflected on your initial NRC at the nearest immigration office in your ward or prefecture.

      Finally, as Debito makes it very clear, high-tech version of new resident card—that allows authorities to remotely check the status of NJ— will likely lead to more racial profiling. Since the intention of new resident system is to crack down on illegal residents (i.e., overstayers), those who are not required to create NRC, such as naturalized citizens, tourists and visitors who plan to stay less than 90 days, official diplomats, asylum seekers, and those who are granted to stay temporarily, etc., will likely become the target of random ID checking, especially when the stakes of national security are high (i.e., international summit, the FIFA World Cup Succor). Is it worth compromising your rights—being singled out and questioned, or even worse, suspected as illegal for not having the NRC—for the pretext of targeting a very tiny portion (approx. 70,000 targets) of +2 million registered foreigners in Japan? Even Jan Brewer and Republican lawmakers who endorsed Arizona’s new immigration law would raise their eyebrows if American citizens became a frequent target of state police’s random ID checking.

      Anyway, GOJ’s rhetoric of new residency system doesn’t match with their vision of realizing multicultural community—i.e., co-existence with NJ in the 21st century. I’ll put a link to GOJ’s official website for the reference.

      See below:

    9. Mumei Says:


      The two new laws are:

      — Thanks. Let’s have a read. Let’s also look at the letter of the law concerning enforcement of street stoppages and ID checks:
      The part in question on enforcement:
      第2条 警察官は、異常な挙動その他周囲の事情から合理的に判断して何らかの犯罪を犯し、若しくは犯そうとしていると疑うに足りる相当な理由のある者又は既に行われた犯罪について、若しくは犯罪が行われようとしていることについて知つていると認められる者を停止させて質問することができる。
      2 その場で前項の質問をすることが本人に対して不利であり、又は交通の妨害になると認められる場合においては、質問するため、その者に付近の警察署、派出所若しくは駐在所に同行することを求めることができる。
      3 前2項に規定する者は、刑事訴訟に関する法律の規定によらない限り、身柄を拘束され、又はその意に反して警察署、派出所もしくは駐在所に連行され、若しくは答弁を強要されることはない。
      4 警察官は、刑事訴訟に関する法律により逮捕されている者については、その身体について凶器を所持しているかどうかを調べることができる。
      does not have “kokumin” semantic issues, meaning there are no potential loopholes or legal exclusions for extranationals. That’s good news. Now, how will this be enforced? Somehow I don’t see NPA ID checkpoints stopping simply due to force of habit. The NPA has never really given up any policing power voluntarily, and one quick foreign crime scare in the media later, things are right back on track for racial profiling. I think we’re going to need more knowledgable people than I weighing in on this. I’ll page Colin Jones.

    10. pondscum Says:

      So, the new laws say that they can only stop and question someone if they are acting suspicious.

      My guess is they will do it anyway、but most NJ don’t know these laws, so they can’t say “Am I acting suspicious?”and walk away.

      Just like in any country, the fuzz will do what they want until someone calls them on it.

      NJ need to be informed of their rights.

    11. EastKyushu Says:

      Like Icarus, I’m pretty sure I’d seen a news item about a JR employee using SUICA data to stalk someone, but I thought it was from last year. A few quick searches didn’t turn anything up on JR and SUICA stalking, but I did find an incident from earlier this year of a Tokyo Metro employee using PASMO data to stalk someone (and posting their data on 2ch):

      I’m somewhat in agreement on IC cards and tracking. I recognize that they can be very convenient — imagine Tokyo rush hour without SUICA or PASMO cards — but I feel there are too many security concerns to justify placing more important, private information on IC cards. The problem isn’t limited to just residence cards. I have IC chips in my passport, my driver’s license, and a few of my bank cards, and I’m not pleased with any of these.

      Proponents point out that the chips are designed to be read from a distance of only a few centimeters, but with an antenna that can fit inside a backpack they can be read from a distance of tens of meters. They also point out that data on the chips is encrypted, but encryption can be easily broken — passport encryption was broken almost as soon as passports started including IC chips.

      I guess there’s not much I can do except get a scan-proof wallet and keep giving voice to my frustration and disagreement.

      As far as the new system, it seemed like the application for visa extension I filled out recently was much easier and more simplified compared to the last time I applied for an extension.


      Tokyo Metro staffer leaked Pasmo data
      The Yomiuri Shimbun

      A staff member at a Tokyo Metro station who was stalking a female acquaintance posted private information from the woman’s Pasmo IC card on the 2channel online bulletin board in February last year, sources have revealed.

      Tokyo Metro Co. said the man used a terminal through which staff members can find out which stations a Pasmo holder got on and off at by inputting such data as the holder’s name and birthday. He then posted the stations the woman had used on the bulletin board.

      The staff member, in his 30s, was dismissed by the company in March last year after he admitted leaking the information.

      According to the Metropolitan Police Department, the case was discovered because the woman reported to police that she had been stalked by the staff member. She said he also wrote obscene comments on the bulletin board.

      The staff member stopped stalking the woman after receiving a warning from the MPD.

      Tokyo Metro created the terminals to assist people who had lost their cards. Station staff were allowed to use them from January last year, but following the data leak, the company changed the system in August so they could only be used at station offices where several people work together.

      (Apr. 18, 2012)

    12. Icarus Says:

      Sorry about the delay. I see EastKyushu already beat me to it, but I’ll post the Japanese article because it’s much more detailed. It wasn’t JR or SUICA (Tokyo Metro and PASMO), but the information is the same:

      Anyway, between these easily infiltrated card systems, bank cards, driver’s licenses, etc. there is just a ton of information that can be acquired by authorities if they need it.

      東京メトロ駅員、パスモでストーカー 乗車履歴を投稿
      朝日新聞 2012年4月17日

    13. Joseph Says:

      With the legal issues that accompany this ‘new’ system and the technical glitches that were already encountered, it is somewhat concerning how this may cause possible problems in the future.

      Hypothetically, let’s say in 2015, bi-racial Japanese children who have more of their NJ parents’ features are ‘randomly’ stopped by the police and asked to produce their Zairyuu Kaado after the police did not get a valid remote reading through RFID (Whether due to a glitch, kid not yet turned 16, Citizen not required to carry a card, etc.)
      Does the police have probable cause to single out, stop, and question the child? It might be even more disturbing to hear later on how they may be hauled and detained at the police station. Far worse, if the child’s classmates or friends witness this traumatic experience and rumors spreads out in school how their gaijin classmate or (former) friend is a troublemaker arrested by the police. Upon return the child may most likely experience exclusion, ostracism, and bullying.

      Considering the outcome of the Akiko Uemura Ijime case discussed here in and the recent piece on JT about ‘forced suicides’ by bullies, I sincerely hope that institutions in Japan are prepared to address these types of issues that may arise in the future.

    14. Anonymous Says:


      Please allow me to append a slight correction to your statement “So, the new laws say…”

      The Police Duties Law has ALWAYS said that there must be reasonable grounds to suspect a crime for them to stop you at all.
      The only thing “new” here, is that most of us didn’t realize that the Police Duties Law was a limiting qualifier in the ARC Law.

      All this time, most of us were mistakenly assuming (and reporting) the ARC had to be shown anytime a Police officer demanded it.
      It turns out the ARC had to be shown ONLY in the case of The 3 Police Duties which require reasonable grounds to suspect a CRIME.

      Let this be a lesson to all individuals 個人 in Japan: we have and have always had the right to decline suspicion-less I.D. requests.
      Police Duties Law requires reasonable suspicion of a crime to stop you at all, and Police Law 162 says this applies to everyone. :)

    15. Baudrillard Says:

      At above, quick response. “Stalking” including that done by the J-state, is a huge problem in Japan, but not quite in the way you might think. Basically interfering in other people’s lives is part of the Confucian tradition; thus an older man will still knock a cigarette out of a younger woman’s hand in Korea; just because he disapproves. One of Mishima’s classics is “Silk and Insight” based on a real event that occurred in the 50s about a boss who “feels compelled to meddle in the lives of his employees” until they strike; this was the paternalistic, almost feudal (in the words of reviewers) “Japanese way” challenged by new post war, western style laws.

      Its also interesting how one of the reviewers likened the main character to Mishima himself, who was admired by Ishihara and is strikingly similar in “trying to impose the ways of the past on the modern world” but I digress.

      In Japan they have replaced this (or tried to) with laws that go against this “interfering grain” and Tokyo is now more rationalized, ie. controlled, non spontaneous “systems” but the need to “control and interfere with strangers” keeps creeping back in. NJs are of course the ultimate strangers and Oyajis must educate them on how to behave in Japan, haha.

      So, hey, that Shibuya Oyaji street patrol were stalking me!

      Thus we have a rationalized control system, ARCs, Suica, Passmo etc originally designed for one use that get subverted into the uber intrusive Neo Confucian..

      Just google “Japan stalker” and see how this term is 1. twisted in meaning to include practically any kind of unwanted contact by one party, a bizarre example here

      2. how the lack of spontaneity and outlets to communicate naturally now forces people to do it.

      I could say the police stalk me by asking to see my ID. Ditto Jehovah’s Witnesses, newspaper salesmen, JR staff, bar staff pushing another drink on me, etc.

      A completely confused conflict society lacking in social communication skills versus intrusion versus state control.

    16. Luke Says:

      I saw this article that makes me definitely think there are more cons to the new system than pros. Here are some excerpts:

      “The changes that take effect Monday, based on a revision to the immigration control law, also create new procedural burdens on all non-Japanese staying in the country more than three months, such as an obligation to report to the immigration office within 14 days after losing a job or getting divorced. Critics say this reflects the government’s intention to strengthen control over foreign residents.”

      “The amendment to the immigration control law will enable authorities to impose criminal penalties or cancel the visa status of foreigners who fail to provide notification of a change of address within 90 days.”

      “Unlike the current system in which foreigners notify their municipal or ward office, they will have to notify the Justice Ministry or one of its approximately 75 local offices.”

      “Also under the new system, foreign spouses of Japanese nationals or non-Japanese permanent residents could lose their residency status if they fail to “conduct activities normally carried out by spouses” for six months. This measure was introduced to curb bogus marriages.”

      “The changes could also make it difficult for illegal foreigners to earn a living, as employers will be subjected to punishment if they fail to report to immigration authorities about hiring foreigners, such as when they started or terminated their employment.”

      “There is hardly any substantial benefit for foreigners, and the revisions only increase burdens and supervision,” said Yuki Maruyama, a lawyer and member of the Tokyo Bar Association’s committee on protection of foreigners’ human rights.

      “As the number of foreigners to Japan dwindles, if the government moves to further tighten supervision (of foreign residents), I’m afraid Japan will not be an attractive destination for foreigners,” Maruyama said.

      “There are also fears that some local governments will stop offering education and health care services to illegal foreign residents, as people overstaying their visa or seeking asylum will not be included in the new residence system, support groups said.

      A survey conducted by the Tokyo Bar Association last October found that many of the 57 municipal and ward offices that responded think it will be difficult to provide services to undocumented foreign residents because it will be impossible to pinpoint their place of residence under the new registration system.”

      If this is all true than I don’t think this is a development to be welcomed at all.

    17. Baudrillard Says:

      P.S. “In 2000, Japan enacted a national law to combat this behaviour, under the effect of Shiori Ino murder. Acts of stalking can be viewed as “interfering [with] the tranquility of others’ lives”, and are prohibited under petty offence laws.”

      Its official! Do anything to disturb the “Wa” and you are a stalker.

      Policeman:”Can I see your ARC please?”
      You: “stalker!”

      You: “Hello”
      Girl in Bar/club: :Stalker!”

      NJ: (says nothing)
      Any J person who sees you can say “Ooh, there goes the neighborhood. I feel 不安!ストーカー!Call the snitch site!”

      ストーカー. Yet another borrowed label or sign, that loses any real meaning in postmodern Japan and just confuses the hell out of everyone and makes us all paranoid, afraid, and ultimately, alone.

    18. Shinkasan Says:

      Mumei wrote:

      That link is not correct.
      This is the link for the law that governs special permanent residents, 日本国との平和条約に基づき日本の国籍を離脱した者等の出入国管理に関する特例法 (law concerning those who lost Japanese citizenship due to the peace treaties between Japan and other countries). I will not focus on SPRs.

      出入国管理及び難民認定法 is the applicable law.

      Everyone should note:

      * Carrying the card is mandatory. Penalty for not carrying: 200,000 yen. Penalty for refusing to show: 200,000 yen and/or 1 year in prison.
      * You must carry the card even if also carry a passport with valid status of residence.

      I will post again with links from the appropriate laws (sure, it’s possible that immigration is making it up as they go along, but I doubt it), but it is important for people not to delude themselves that the ‘show it or else’ clause of 外登法 is gone.

      You have the right to decline to show ID under 警職法. They have the right to ask you, and you must show, under 入管法. Therefore, you should get the police officer to admit first that your answering questions is voluntary, then decline to provide further answers.

      Do not admit to being foreign, or you will get asked for your card in the officer’s role under 入管法. Do not do things that can give rise to a charge of obstructing the officer in the course of his duties, 公務員執行妨害, such as running away or refusing to speak. Even if you are Japanese, you can still be arrested for this. Have the officer acknowledge that the questioning is voluntary and that there are no grounds for suspicion (ideally, record your conversation), then leave. If they don’t let you go, you either wait it out, or you show. But even if you show, they can still keep you waiting around on the street for a while.

      Good luck out there.

    19. Paul Says:

      I’m applying for PR in the next couple of months, are there any snafus I should be wary of in doing so, now that the new system is in place? (No international travel planned until next February).

    20. oogui Says:

      About the RFID-Chip: you can put your card in the microwave, set the timer to two seconds and the chip is fried. We had similar problems with the new German passports which included an RFID-Chip. I’m not sure if thats going to invalidate your card however. The German passports are still valid, even with a fried chip.

    21. Charuzu Says:

      Anonymous #14:

      I would offer a word of caution regarding your statement:

      “Let this be a lesson to all individuals 個人 in Japan: we have and have always had the right to decline suspicion-less I.D. requests.”

      That may be true so for as the printed text of the law.

      The law in Japan though is mediated by a complex system of police, judges etc.

      If judges permit suspicion-less ID requests to be enforced, or if denial of such a request results in punishment for some other reason, then one does not effectively have such a right to decline these requests.

      Given that the law as it is practiced in Japan is at times quite different than the law of textbooks and printed legal codices, it may be useful to distinguish what exactly is meant.

      Often the functional rights of NJ are significantly different than the theoretical rights of NJ.

      And one should know that testing such frontiers may expose one to significant levels of abuse.

    22. pondscum Says:

      If your chip is fried, you have to get a new card:



      The chip only contains the same information that is on the card itself.


      Must carry card. If you don’t, 200,000 yen fine. If you refuse to show, 1 year prison and/or 200,000 yen fine.



      here’s a list of al the info on the card.


      Your Japanese name won’t be on the card, but it will be on your 住民票



      Finger prints are NOT on the chip or card


      With this new card, they are considering how to decrease the waiting time at airports.



      — Thanks. I note that the English version linked from this page at
      does not have this necessarily detailed FAQ. Wonder why not.

    23. Anonymous Says:


      You wrote “出入国管理及び難民認定法 is the applicable law”

      Well, here it is the The Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (in Japanese & English)

      And it plainly has the same limiting qualifier which the ARC Law had:

      “only when in the execution of Police Duties”

      The 20万円 fine in that “FAQ” is only applicable: when you refuse a police officer WITH reasonable grounds to suspect a crime.
      If an officer HAS reasonable grounds to suspect a crime, then he is executing Police Duties: ONLY then you must show your card.

    24. Onsen boy Says:

      Maybe a good idea for the police to get cash is to go to onsens and sentos to catch foreigners with the pants down… Carry the card at all times, right? 😛

      — I heard this has been done to the Zainichis many years ago (as in about fifty or so) just to be mean. But hopefully it’s just an urban myth.

    25. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Many valid comments about being able to refuse to show ID to the police unless they have reason to suspect you, but you are all forgetting one little thing; THIS IS JAPAN!

      You are NJ. You refuse to show ID when asked. For J-police, THAT is suspicious. They will be thinking ‘This gaijin won’t show me ID, he MUST be some kind of criminal!’.

      Please stop thinking that your ‘human rights’ mean anything here. In Japan they can kill you for overstaying a visa, and the courts will look the other way!

    26. orientexpress Says:

      As a follow-up to my above posting #7 I want to share my experience at Narita Airport today: I arrived after a biz trip to Singapore at Terminal 1 around 17:30, the orange lane is still there – even 6 orange immigration counters for Re entry permit holders were opened – no waiting time. “Normal” processing – if we accept fingerprinting etc. as normal. Only a A4 leaflet was handed out in English explaining the procedure with respect to the new card. Seems, so far nothing to worry. As I understand the leaflet, holders of the old ARC need to apply for the new card either before the ARC expires or the visa, whatever comes earlier.

      — Thanks for telling us. So it’s not an automatic exchange at the border. Valid ARC holders have to report to Immigration inside Japan before expiry. Do you have the option to make the switch to the ZRK at the border if you want to save yourself a trip later?

    27. jim Says:

      i no this may be off topic sorry but i would like to know if we still have to continue to get reentry permits if we still haven’t got the new card yet? OR regardless if we have the new card or not yet we no longer need reentry permits? I cant get a straight answer anywhere?

    28. John Says:

      Following on from my comment #5, here is my experience of renewing my SOR and receiving the new card in the first week of the new system. (I didn’t rush to get new stuff; for various reasons I had no choice but to apply on Tuesday, day #2 of the new system.)

      The immigration office came back in record time; 24-hour turnaround, amazingly (last time it was three weeks). So I was back on day #5, right before a holiday weekend.

      Fortunately I only had about a 30-minute wait after handing over the postcard they send you as notification that your SOR is ready. There were a lot of people in the office, again trying to get the new card, but they were separated into other queues.


      1) When they hand you your passport back, you get the new card at the same time, i.e. you don’t have to queue again to get it. They use the photograph from your application, not the one in your passport.

      2) They actually give you your old ARC back, with a hole punched through it to indicate cancellation. I made sure to ask the officer about this, and he said you don’t have to hand the card in to your city hall or anything like that; it’s just yours to keep. So if you want the ARC as a ‘souvenir’ of your time in Japan (and some people, perhaps naive as to what it represented, do), you can get the new card and save the old one.

      3) They don’t put anything in your passport. They simply mark your old SOR stamp as cancelled. This means that unless you have a re-entry permit, there is no longer anything in your passport to indicate that you are a resident of Japan! Apparently, you have to show your residence card to airline staff in other countries to prove ‘visa’ status; expect confusion all round. But newcomers *do* get a stamp in their passports, so the only people with no evidence will be long-termers.

      4) If you do have an existing re-entry permit, it is not cancelled, even though it will have a number on it which is the same as the one on the cancelled SOR stamp. It remains valid until its expiry date, but will only be used if you leave Japan for more than a year. The officer confirmed that I don’t need mine for absences of less than 12 months.

      5) I applied for a five-year extension under the new system, given that this was my second renewal and I had a decent SOR status and an unblemished record. But I received three years instead, for no obvious reason. No appeals allowed. So this much-talked-about ‘advantage’ of the new system, that you get five years, in practice is not an advantage for everyone. I wonder how many people will actually get it?

      Some more points, mostly based on what I watched at

      6) There is no passport data on the card and you are not required to inform them of passport changes. [So until you need to renew, I presume this means you are no longer obligated to maintain a valid foreign passport, and so could let it expire.]

      7) Existing residents are not issued with the new cards at airports. You can only get them from an immigration office. Newcomers get the same card on arrival (and a passport stamp) but without an address on the front. They have to go to the city hall to have their address officially added to the back of the card, and also register a residency record (juuminhyou).

      8) Although there are fewer reasons to make changes to the card or get a re-entry permit, the new system is more bureaucratic in other ways. As well as the point that there is more paperwork for newcomers (because instead of just applying for an ARC, they have to get the card changed and also get a residency record), there is more to do if you move house within Japan or leave the country permanently. Whereas before, foreigners simply changed the address on the ARC, they must now de-register with their old city hall and re-register with the new one if they move, just as Japanese people do. Furthermore, handing in the residence card on final departure only cancels the immigration record; it does not stop anything else. Previously, cancellation of an ARC would automatically lead to the city hall being notified, so tax records could be closed. Now, the juuminhyou must be separately cancelled. This is obviously not going to happen in many cases, so foreigners are going to leave, cancelling their residence cards, while wrongly assuming that this kills everything, when in fact the council may maintain a tax bill and permanent address. [Could be a problem if you want to prove that you’re no longer a resident of Japan.] Councils have already said that approximately 15% of foreign residents hadn’t notified them of changes in addresses at all, and that was under the old system. This was discovered when the provisional juuminhyou letters were sent out a few months back – see

      8) There is only one system. The old ARC is treated as the residence card from now on. Either replaces the stamp in your passport. [I suppose that means that your SOR passport stamp is now invalid even if you haven’t renewed or got the new card yet – legally, your old ARC or new residence card is the only way to prove your residency status.] So you can show your old ARC at the airport in order to leave and get back in without a re-entry permit. There is no reason to get the new card until something happens, e.g. renewing ySOR or losing the card.

      — Thank you very much indeed for writing this up.

    29. AJ Says:

      In response to post 27:
      I found the following page in Japanese on the immigration website which confirms you can benefit from the new re-entry system even before you have exchanged your card as long as you have a valid ARC that can serve as your “de-facto resident’s card” (and a passport of course)

      Within that page:

      I saved this link a while back, and can now no longer find the equivalent English page, but it is a pretty unambiguous confirmation.

    30. orientexpress Says:


      the leaflet I got says

      1) “Foreign nationals in possession of a valod passport and a residence card who will be reenterig Japan……,will, in principle, not be required to apply for a re-entry permit at the Regional Immigration Bureau anymore


      2)An Alien Registration Certificate. already held by a mid-to-long-term resident, will be deemed to be equivalent to a “Residence Card”, for a specific period of time. (It follows a table explaining this specific period of time, which ultimately ends July 8, 2015, or earlier, if your period of stay or ARC expires)

      So, this means for me that we holder of ARCs do not need to renew our REPs. However, I want to have it confirmed, would be a nightmare to et stuck upon reentry.

    31. Charles Says:


      You wrote:
      “I’m applying for PR in the next couple of months, are there any snafus I should be wary of in doing so, now that the new system is in place? (No international travel planned until next February).”

      Yes, I can think of at least one SNAFU (I am quoting the regulations as translated in 外国人をサポートするための生活マニュアル):
      “- As a rule, the applicant should have stayed in Japan with a legal status of residence for more than ten years.
      – In addition, there are some other conditions that have to be met, involving good behavior and the applicant being able to support him/herself, plus that the longest period of stay defined for each type of status of residence has been granted.”

      Well, now, the longest period of stay for most Statuses of Residence is five years. Not three. So unless you have somehow managed to snag a five-year extension since Monday, you only have a three-year period of stay. Therefore, according to the above regulation, you are ineligible, because PR requires the longest one, according to the above regulations.

      I sincerely hope you get PR. For you, and for all of us. But the regulations currently in place aren’t on your side.

      Maybe the MOJ will delete the “longest period of stay” clause eventually. I really hope so, but wouldn’t bet on it.

      When I first realized this Catch-22 situation, I went to my local immigration office (the Yokkaichi branch) and asked about this SNAFU. The top guy at that immigration office said that starting on July 9, a five-year period of stay will be required as a prerequisite to apply for PR. Seriously. He said that. Three-year periods of stay will no longer do. He said it in no uncertain terms, and reiterated it several times.

      However, Paul, I really hope you succeed anyway with your application. And please, please, please let us know the results.

      People should hold off on celebrating these July 9, 2012 changes. They are NOT a major improvement for NJ in Japan. And at worst, they are a major Trojan horse that will keep virtually anyone from applying for PR. I wish people would pay more attention to this.

    32. Alexander Says:

      Debito, what I have been told is that you cannot get the ZRK at the border unless you are new to the country. People voluntarily making the switch have to do so at their local immigration office.

      — Gotcha. Thanks for making that clear.

    33. Jeff Says:


      “i no this may be off topic sorry but i would like to know if we still have to continue to get reentry permits if we still haven’t got the new card yet? OR regardless if we have the new card or not yet we no longer need reentry permits? I cant get a straight answer anywhere?”

      I was advised by my legal:

      – It is a little unclear if the reentry permit is needed before obtaining the new card for those caught between systems.
      – so yes I got a multiple reentry at visa renewal a few weeks ago.
      – You cannot get a new card at the airport unless it is your -first- entry after getting your (first?) visa.

    34. Charuzu Says:

      Jim Di Griz #25:

      I agree with your essential point.

      Rather than an exchange of quotes regarding what the printed text of the law is, it is important to focus on the law as it is practiced.

      If one is beaten by J police, who themselves never need fear punishment, than the printed text of the law is not relevant.

      It reminds me of a trip to Pyongyang, where the printed law and the reality of the law are diametrically different.

      The article states:

      “the government has made it more convenient for law-abiding foreigners by extending visa lengths to five years from the current three, and eliminating the requirement to obtain a re-entry permit before leaving Japan for any period less than a year.”

      Is it indeed more convenient for us?

      Or will the practice be that those who are defined as “law abiding” are those who obey any whim or caprice of the NPA and immigration?

    35. Anonymous Says:


      Most of us here are interested in what the Law states, so that we can maintain our rights according to the Law.
      There are some who have decided give up, to forfeit their rights, to simply advise people to obey illegal police demands.
      “It doesn’t matter if the law states that officers need reasonable suspicion of a crime to stop you in the first place, just show your I.D. anyway.”
      “It doesn’t matter if the law states that officers need a warrant from a judge to search your pockets/bag/car/home, just give your consent anyway.”
      “It doesn’t matter if the law states that officers need a warrant from a judge to collect your urine on the street, just give your urine anyway.”
      “They’re going to do what they want, no matter what you say, so just submit to their demands, even when not 警察官職務の執行に当たりとき.”
      Those kinds of “Law Doesn’t Matter” statements are dangerous, because the more people submit to illegal requests, the more illegal requests the police will make.

      And about The 3 Police Duties, remember, “abnormal behavior” is not enough to stop you (if it were, they could say “well, all gaijin behavior is abnormal behavior.” Ha-ha.)

      The law states “the officer must have seen you perform abnormal behavior AND (AND) he must have made a reasonable judgment that you are committing a CRIME.”

      So, rather than focusing on the weak+vague qualifier of “abnormal behavior”, it is much more effective to focus on the strong+specific qualifier of “reasonable judgment that you are committing a crime”.

      * 異常な挙動その他周囲の事情から合理的に判断して何らかの犯罪を犯し場合ではない。
      * 犯罪を犯そうとしていると疑うに足りる相当な理由のある者又場合ではない。
      * 既に行われた犯罪について、若しくは犯罪が行われようとしていることについて知つていると認められる者場合ではない。

      (尚、警察法第百六十二号によりますと、この法律は我が国の全「個人」 にあてはまります、国籍は関係ありません。)

      * This is not a case where a reasonable judgment can be made that a crime is being committed by me.
      * This is not a case where there is sufficient reason to suspect that a crime is about to be committed by me.
      * This is not a case where knowledge about a past or future commission of a crime has been acknowledged by me.
      Since I am none of the above 3 cases, according to the Police Duties Execution Law Clause Two, this is not a situation where you can stop me.

      (Also, according to the Police Duties Execution Law Clause Two: unless there is a regulation relating to criminal action, officials may not confine, bring back to any police administration area, or else coerce a person to reply to questions against his will.)
      (Also, according to the Police Law Number 162, these laws apply to all individuals in Japan, no differentiation between nationalities.)

      Here is the 2006 Summary, which opened my eyes to The 3 Police Duties, and Police Law Number 162:

      I understand, Charuzu and Jim, that your concern is the chances of Police strong-arming us into giving up our law-written rights.
      But “the successful refusal of suspicion-less I.D. requests” which I linked to previously are evidence that “Stating The Law” works.

      Can you find any links that evidence your claim of the existence of “unsuccessful refusal of suspicion-less I.D. requests”?
      It sure would be interesting to read about someone who “Stated The Law” yet were somehow unsuccessful, or arrested.
      Currently, I see two clear accounts evidencing “the successful refusal of suspicion-less I.D. requests” in Japan by 外国人:

      Your concern is rational, but so far no evidence has been posted here of arrest for “the refusal of suspicion-less I.D. requests”.

    36. jim Says:

      Has anyone been able to confirm if under this new system that just started are we now exempt from reentry permits regardless if we have the new big brother card or not? OR are the only NJ exempt from reentry permits are the NJ That have already changed over to the new card??

    37. Pitarou Says:


      Thanks for posting the vimeo link. It answered all my questions.

    38. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      @Charles – This is very disappointing news indeed. If that official is correct, then anyone on a three-year visa the day before the new system was introduced has now been made ineligible until his or her next visa renewal at the earliest. And if the renewal results in a three-year extension rather than five,

      My three-year visa is up for renewal in September, and I had been considering putting in an application for permanent residency when I go to the immigration office later this month. I’d still like to hear confirmation of this from other immigration branches before being certain, but it looks like I should probably wait until my new visa comes through and see how many years I get before possibly putting in a meaningless PR petition.

      @John – 3) They don’t put anything in your passport. They simply mark your old SOR stamp as cancelled. This means that unless you have a re-entry permit, there is no longer anything in your passport to indicate that you are a resident of Japan!

      This is very disturbing. Are you sure this isn’t an oversight? This means that long-term residents will have to take both their passports and their resident cards with them when leaving Japan, because unless the computer system can scan your passport number and match that up with visa records on their own system, how will Japanese immigration know that you have a status of residence? (The system probably should be able to pull up your records, in this computerized age.)

      I have a visa extension sticker, and whenever I return to Japan, that’s what gets scanned by the immigration officer. What gets scanned now? If your resident cars is lost or stolen overseas, how do you prove your residential status? Until now, having that info stored officially in two places (the passport and the ARC) was one of the few redeeming features of the ARC. Making everyone bring both documents with them when leaving and re-entering the country is unsafe. (I suppose they could require only the ZRK and not the passport, since the latter contains no useful information that isn’t on the ZRK, but you’d have a hard time getting into the country you’re leaving Japan for without a passport.)

    39. Mike Says:


      A bit off topic but slightly related;

      Please confirm as to if there has been a new law passed (July 9) concerning the expulsion of forigners who are working in excess of what they are limited to. Some people have expressed their concern to me about this new law, stating that several indviduals have already been expelled from Japan for working over their visa limitation for work hours. Seems a bit harsh to me, I mean they are not overstayers or doing drugs. Is this true? There is a new law for people who are on a work visa and are working extra hours?

    40. jim Says:

      @charles I just called the immigration drones and they told me that you don’t have to finish a 5 year visa to be eligible for PR so you may want to ask your source to do his homework again.

    41. John Says:

      @Mark in Yayoi, #38:

      Yes, this is how it works for people who have renewed (newcomers *do* get a stamp. If only I understood the logic of this…) It’s mentioned in the video I linked to, but that is somewhere within a 42-minute marathon. See also:

      On p.13 of the above document, it says:

      “A new resident card will be issued to a mid- to long-term resident when a renewed period
      of stay, permission to change his/her resident status or a permanent resident permit is
      granted, or acquisition of resident status is admitted. ***(The passport will not be stamped).***” [My emphasis.]

      I cannot explain the reasoning behind this, but this is exactly what happened to me. A ‘cancellation’ stamp is now printed onto my old SOR, but my re-entry permit remains valid until expiry (which is not long from now, since I got it when I renewed three years ago). The same document, on p.6, says you must present your card (old or new; see note *1 on that page) on departure.

      They note your passport details when you renew (you give them on the application form), but these are apparently not on the database and certainly not on the new card. They do not link your database entry to your passport at all, so if you get a new passport, you do not have to inform them of the change. Your passport is now purely for entry and exit stamps, plus an optional re-entry permit. The new card (or your old ARC) is now the SOR stamp, effectively. (This is what the guy in the video says.)

      The obvious flaw, as you say, is what happens if you lose your residence card while abroad, since this is the only thing that proves you are a resident if you don’t have a re-entry permit. Heck, if you’re a national of a country whose citizens cannot enter visa-free, you’d probably have trouble even getting on the plane, since airline staff are supposed to check you have a visa. I have had airline staff demand to see a “visa” even though I am a national of a country whose citizens can walk into Japan visa-free as tourists. Either at the check-in desk or in front of a Japanese immigration officer, I suppose that it would be a case of producing other evidence, such as photocopies of documents or a Japanese driving licence, or being able to call someone who can back you up. Also be prepared to argue with airline staff who will not understand that Japan no longer issues residency stamps and that the proof they need is now on some ‘residence card’.

      I would be tempted to buy a new re-entry stamp anyway, in order to have something in the passport that shows residency status. Such an expense does, of course, eliminate the advantage of not needing one under the new system.

      @Jim, #40:

      Maybe it’s not so much finishing five years as being awarded it? I looked here:

      Under 3(c), it says that “The maximum period of stay allowed for the person with his/her current status of residence under Annexed Table 2 of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act is to be fully utilized.” I am not sure what “fully utilized” means. It could mean that you have to use up most of the five years, or it could mean that you have to be awarded a five-year extension (or whatever the maximum period of your SOR is). Your information indicates the latter.

    42. Charles Says:


      I am curious about what your immigration office told you (because it may be different from what mine told me). What do you mean “don’t have to finish a 5[-]year visa to be eligible for PR?”

      Does that mean…
      A) …you must have a five-year visa, but that it doesn’t need to have been “finished?”
      B) …that a three-year visa will still suffice for a PR application as it did in the past?

      If it’s A, then that’s hardly a consolation. Because five-year visas will still likely be very, very hard to get. I say this because if you read what John (post #28) wrote, he was shot down for a five-year visa extension even though he has lived in Japan for a while and was extending from a three-year visa.

      If it’s B, and I can confirm this with other immigration offices, then I will literally jump for joy. However, based on your wording, it didn’t sound like you were saying B.

      I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Please clarify.

    43. John Says:

      One thing I forgot to add: actually, you should have the red-and-white disembarkation card stapled into your passport when you travel. That might not satisfy airline staff (in my experience, they only look for a “visa” stamp), but in theory the system here should have noted your departure via the embarkation card, and could match it with the disembarkation one. This is just my speculation, though. Of course, if you had lost the disembarkation card as well as your residence card, or if you had lost your passport altogether, then that would be a problem. I would expect a grilling from immigration if you didn’t have the residence card/ARC, since anyone could obtain a re-entrant (dis)embarkation slip and insert it into their passport because they are freely available at ports. But in theory someone pretending to be a resident who has lost their residence card should be picked out because their embarkation card wouldn’t have been recorded on exit.

    44. John Says:

      @Charles: yep, five-year SORs may turn out to be a rare thing. I have been in Japan for nearly seven years and this was my second renewal. For all that time, I have been on the same SOR type, one that now allows five years, but I only got three. Maybe it’s a strategy to make you really earn PR.

      Regarding the red-and-white disembarkation card that I mentioned above: the one thing I am wondering about is how immigration would know that your SOR hadn’t expired while you were abroad, since now there is no SOR stamp in the passport. You would have an exit stamp and a re-entrant disembarkation card in your passport, but those might only prove that you left as a legal re-entrant. If they did not have details of your SOR linked to the (dis)embarkation card details, you had lost your residence card, and you didn’t have a re-entry permit… how would they know you still had a valid SOR?

    45. James Annan Says:

      But surely this PR thing depends not on what the current range of visa lengths is, but rather “Annexed Table 2 of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act”, which presumably is years old.

      Unless someone has specifically updated the PR requirements…about which I have not found any details.

    46. jim Says:

      @ Charles its b, a 3 year visa will still suffice for a PR application as it did in the past. I called the immigration earlier today and was told that straight from the drones mouth.

    47. Flyjin Says:

      @ Mike, “Please confirm as to if there has been a new law passed (July 9) concerning the expulsion of forigners who are working in excess of what they are limited to. Some people have expressed their concern to me about this new law, stating that several indviduals have already been expelled from Japan for working over their visa limitation for work hours. Seems a bit harsh to me, I mean they are not overstayers or doing drugs. Is this true? There is a new law for people who are on a work visa and are working extra hours?”

      My ex was expelled in 2003 for basically just that; working more than hours allowed. I thought it was harsh then-surely you would get a warning or a fine? but nope, straight to jail and deportation. I hired a lawyer and it did no good, the “appeal” was pointless. She was barred for 5 years, but 7 years later they still would not let her in. Why we will never know. It was part of my decision to leave Japan.

      On a site note, this creates a conundrum, n’est pas? Your employer asks you, say a Chinese laborer, to do overtime or fill in for someone sick etc etc. You are under pressure from them to do so, but you are breaking the law, and thus more dependent on the good will of your employer or immigration.

      Quite arbitrary, and how typical. This is how they like it.

    48. Bob Says:

      Jim, beware the immigration drones. Every time I have called for information, they have got it wrong. For example, I called and asked about change of status of residence within Japan and was told without qualification, “You can’t change from 短期滞在 to working visa without a certificate of eligibility and leaving country.”
      – I did exactly what they said I couldn’t do within a week after getting this “information” straight from the horse’s mouth, with no trouble or delays.

      You can’t get an answer from a serious MOJ person who knows what they’re talking about unless you go ahead and apply. Cost for a failed PR application: 0 yen. Give it a go and let us know what happens, Charles!

    49. Charles Says:


      I really hope you’re right. My immigration office said that a five-year period of stay was a requirement to apply for PR starting on 7/9, but then again, my local immigration office is widely known for being strict and stingy in ways that other immigration offices aren’t. In fact, the Mie Jets home page specifically cites my immigration office as one that rarely ever hands out three-year extensions (even to people who came into the country on a three-year visa and are renewing after being in Japan for three years) and when I asked my boss, she said that in over 10 years of operation, none of her teachers has ever gotten a three-year extension from the Yokkaichi Immigration Office.

      So I guess there are two lessons to be learned from this:

      1. I need to check with other immigration offices. Because there may be multiple interpretations of the law (often seems to be the case in Japan), and the Yokkaichi Immigration Office is going to tell me the strictest one.

      2. Perhaps in the future, when I file for extensions, I need to start going to another immigration office. Because according to all my sources, getting a five-year extension, hell, even a three-year extension, is next to impossible at the Yokkaichi Immigration Office.

    50. Charuzu Says:

      Anonymous #35

      I agree that “But “the successful refusal of suspicion-less I.D. requests” which I linked to previously are evidence that “Stating The Law” works” AT TIMES.

      Yet, I also am struck by the arbitrary requirements (such as the example offered by Flyjin#47) that exist.

      Moreover, I note that the two experiences you provide (by Aly Rustom and Ariel) themselves raise questions that heighten my concerns.

      Ariel states when she went to a police station to file a complaint that “the police will only let you file an official complaint if they agree that one of their officers acted inappropriately”

      If so, then that strengthens my concerns that the de facto legal requirements are different than the de jure requirements, inasmuch as a complaint cannot even be filed for potential investigation unless the police agree to that (perhaps local friends of the police in question)

      And for the Aly Rustom example, he engaged in his verbal argument in a location that he indicates was in the middle of public view with many passers by to witness the exchange.

      If, in contrast, that same exchange had occurred in a more secluded location, would the result have been the same?

      I know from friends who are gay J that they have received beatings from police for no apparent reason.

      I have to assume that a NJ would be at least as vulnerable as a J, even one who is marginalized.

      — Beatings where? In detention?

    51. ADIK Says:


      Nice read all comments. My card expires in October this year.
      I went to Tokyo Immigration today to apply for new card.
      I arrived at about 11:15 and left at 13:10
      First of all, it was very difficult to spot white ( Caucasian ) people.
      Are they gone after 3.11?
      I’d say 98% were Asian originals, Middle East and Africa.
      Even sections with new visa applications and permissions were filled with non white.
      I have nothing against other races, but I’ve never seen only so little white people.
      Staff was very kind and helpful.
      It is good to bring own photo 4x3cm otherwise you may waste your time in queue to photo booth.
      In the counter itself it took 5min.
      My card will be sent to me within 2-3 weeks

      By the way, Debito why nobody write about eyes scanning at Narita in addition to fingerprinting ?
      Was it ” pilot program”
      I have friends who went through this humiliation.

      Good point about new system is re-entry for 5 years, not 3, so once I’m gone I don’t need to be humiliated at least 4y and 11months :-)

      — Eyes/face scanning at Narita has been going on since November 2007, since the NJ fingerprinting program was reintroduced at the border. Not mentioned because there’s no apparent change there. Chigau?

    52. Flyjin Says:

      @ Charles

      It definitely varies from office to office. In the 90s Yokohama were giving out 6 month visas to teachers instead of the usual one year visa. After 18 months of this, the company I worked for said “the Staff at Yokohama are a bit funny” and wrote a letter asking them to stop doing it if at all possible.

      As an ironic footnote, some of the shall we say more striking members of staff were later transferred to Otemachi Immigration, and one of them-a middle aged lady with a severe haircut- recognized me…. I wonder if I had earned some notoreity. Still, I got a one year visa that time too. This being before 3 year visas were given out.

    53. Charuzu Says:


      You ask:

      “– Beatings where? In detention?”

      They tell me that it has been in ‘out of the way’ places that do not elicit much attention from passers by.

      A police gendarme instructs them to stop, makes a homophobic comment, and then strikes them.

      Often later at night.

      One friend said that it was on a rainy day, but in a secluded area.

    54. Mike Says:

      @ Flyjin,

      Thanks for that update. I have been informed that as of July 9, many foriengers, mostly of Nepal or Chinese origin are being expelled and are getting scared. I dont know what prompted this or who is behind it. Some of there people are worked like animals, I have seen it and are grateful to do it because of the value of being paid in yen. Japan always seems to try and show their humanatarian side towards less fortuanate countries with the ads on TV and all that but if this round up is true, it would seem very unhumantarian to me.

      — Source please on the roundups. Let’s try not to work on rumors here.

    55. snowman Says:

      There’s one thing I’m wondering now. I’m a PR and next year, 2013, my passport expires. Do I still have to go to Immigration for them to transfer the PR seal to the new passport when I obtain it?? Thanks for your help someone!

    56. Charles Says:

      @Jim, John, etc.

      Well, I called a bunch of immigration offices this morning. Because this “longest period of stay” question has been killing me. These were the ones I called and talked with successfully:
      – Hiroshima
      – Kobe
      – Naha
      – Osaka

      All four of them said that at least for now, possessing a three-year period of stay is still okay to apply for eijuuken. However, they generally refused to speak on what will happen after this year, at which point it will be decided whether to continue allowing three-year period of stay holders to apply for eijuuken.

      So…at least for now, it seems that they understand the catch-22 that has been created by the new visa lengths, and are continuing to allow people with three-year periods of stay to apply for eijuuken even though five years is technically the new “longest period of stay.” This is a good sign, but we still don’t know what they’ll do in the future (e.g. maybe next year or the year after that, they’ll start requiring a five-year period of stay — this has not been decided yet).

      However, I think this is a very good sign. Currently, a three-year period of stay suffices even after the 7/9 changes. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that it stays that way.

    57. Anonymous Says:

      Joe Jones (a well-respected legal scholar) explained here in 2010 how he successfully “refuses suspicion-less I.D. requests”:

      (Actually, this technique is a level higher, because he successfully “refuses suspicion-less CONVERSATION requests” in the first place!)

      “The standard answer I give cops now is ‘ごめんなさい、時間がないんです’ or a hurried equivalent in English if they address me in English. (It helps that I always tend to walk quickly.) If it is just a pointless spot-check to make numbers, they will let you go on your way. If they seriously suspect you of something, they will insist on stopping you, at which point you can start asking why you are a suspect — but I have never gotten that far in multiple attempted police stops, all of which end with them basically saying ‘OK, sorry for bothering you.’

      … you are perfectly free to walk away and say you don’t have time to deal with their silliness.”

    58. Anonymous Says:

      And here are the 3 PDF versions:

      #1 Original
      #2 Colored
      #3 Improved

      In Japan, where the conviction rate is exceptionally high – and thus the hidden rate of wrongly convicted is exceptionally high:
      it’s ESPECIALLY important to help officers realize you’re aware that The 3 Police Duties require Reasonable Suspicion of a Crime.

      “Reasonable suspicion is the legal standard by which a police officer has the right to briefly detain a suspect for investigatory purposes and frisk the outside of their clothing for weapons, but not drugs. While many factors contribute to a police officer’s level of authority in a given situation, the reasonable suspicion standard requires facts or circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a suspect has, is, or will commit a crime.

      While reasonable suspicion does not require hard evidence, it does require more than a hunch. A combination of particular facts, even if each is individually insignificant, can form the basis of reasonable suspicion. For example, police may have reasonable suspicion to detain someone who fits a description of a criminal suspect, a suspect who drops a suspicious object after seeing police, or a suspect in a high crime area who runs after seeing police.

      What reasonable suspicion means to you
      Because reasonable suspicion gives officers legal authority to detain you, the absence of reasonable suspicion does not require officers to tell you that you’re free to leave. They will often use your uncertainty as an opportunity to ask probing questions even if the conversation is legally ‘voluntary’.

      In such situations, it’s up to you to determine if you’re being detained or are free to go. Before answering an officer’s questions, you may courteously ask ‘Officer, am I free to go?’ If you’re free to go, then go. If the officer’s answer is unclear or he asks additional questions, you may persist by repeating ‘Officer, am I free to go?’

      Keep in mind that refusing to answer an officers questions does not create reasonable suspicion. But acting nervous and answering questions inconsistently can create reasonable suspicion. Also, you have the right to refuse search requests, and your refusal does not create reasonable suspicion.

      If you are not free to go, you are being detained. The officer might have some reason to suspect you of a crime, and you may be arrested. In such a situation, your magic words are “I’m going to remain silent. I would like to see a lawyer.” These magic words are like a legal condom. Because anything you say can and will be used against you in court, silence is your best protection if you’re under arrest.”

      “We had a Know Your Rights training for the American Indian Community at the community center.

      One woman who attended told us that her son and his friends were being harassed by a police officer assigned to his high school. The officer stopped them repeatedly when they hung out after school and constantly demanded to search their bags.

      She called a month later to say that when the officer stopped her son and his friends as they walked home from school and demanded to search their backpacks, her son said, ‘Officer, am I being detained or am I free to go and I do not consent to a search’ all in one sentence. The cop turned red in the face but returned to his squad car, sped off and has not bothered them since.”

    59. Anonymous Says:

      And as mentioned by Jake here in 2009

      “There is an app for a service called Evernote, which uploads your recording to a server as soon as you press the stop button, so if something should happen to your phone, the evidence is still accessible from any computer.”

      You can increase the chance of the officer acting lawfully by filming him admitting that he is not acting within The 3 Police Duties.
      So even if the officer illegally grabs your cell-phone/camera and tries to delete the video evidence, Evernote puts it online instantly.

    60. Anonymous Says:

      Usable Japanese Phrase: if an officer tries to play the “Obstruction of Duties” card, the answer is:


      According to Police Duties Law Clause 2,
      this is NOT a case with Reasonable Judgment of a Crime, so
      this is NOT a case of Police Duties, so
      this is NOT a case of Obstruction of Duties and
      this is NOT a case where you can legally stop me.

    61. Charuzu Says:

      I would again note that this discussion all seems predicated on the belief that J police all scrupulously follow the written text of J rules.

      Yet, we know that at times they do not.

      As such, I would offer the thought that one must firmly keep that notion in mind.

      Having helped friends who have been beaten by J police, the notion that there are magic words that will stop the police seems risible.

      And, the process to make complaints about police misconduct is seemingly either non-existent in practice or largely unavailable to most.

      Therefore, one should be quite careful and not assume that one has enforceable rights that the police are bound to honour.

      There are certainly instances where the police do not honour them.

    62. Anonymous Says:

      Final point: The Supreme Law Japan Constitution, the original, in English, states All People in Japan are equally guaranteed constitutional protection.

      Meaning, regardless of politician-authored acts or bureaucrat-authored seireis/guidelines, The Supreme Law Japan Constitution protects All People in Japan.

      We often tell ourselves “the constitution only protects 国民”, but I think the actual reality is that The Supreme Law Japan Constitution protects All People in Japan.

      So what does The Supreme Law Japan Constitution say about the limits of Police actions? Warrants, warrants, warrants:

      Article 33 = Unless caught during the act of a crime, a Warrant from a Judge is REQUIRED before Apprehension.
      Article 34 = A Warrant from a Judge PLUS Charges & Adequate Cause are REQUIRED before Arresting or Detaining.
      Article 35 = Unless caught during the act of a crime, a Warrant from a Judge is REQUIRED before Searching.

      Article 33 states apprehension without a warrant from a Judge is unlawful, unless the officer apprehends the person during the act of the offense being committed.
      Article 34 states arresting or detaining without charges and adequate cause is unlawful, and upon demand [remember to demand this right] ‘such cause must be immediately shown in open court in my presence and the presence of my counsel.’
      Article 35 states searching without a warrant from a Judge is unlawful, unless the officer apprehends the person during the act of the offense being committed.

      Article 33 “No person shall be apprehended except upon warrant issued by a competent Judge which specifies the offense with which the person is charged, unless he is apprehended during the act of the offense being committed.”
      Article 34 “No person shall be arrested or detained without being at once informed of the charges against him or without the immediate privilege of counsel; nor shall he be detained without adequate cause; and upon demand of any person such cause must be immediately shown in open court in his presence and the presence of his counsel.”
      Article 35 “The right of all persons to be secure in their homes, papers and effects against entries, searches and seizures shall not be impaired except upon warrant issued for adequate cause and particularly describing the place to be searched and things to be seized (unless apprehended during the act of the offense being committed.) Each search or seizure shall be made upon separate warrant issued by a competent Judge.”

      第三十三条 何人も、現行犯として逮捕される場合を除いては、権限を有する司法官憲が発し、且つ理由となつてゐる犯罪を明示する令状によらなければ、逮捕されない。
      第三十四条 何人も、理由を直ちに告げられ、且つ、直ちに弁護人に依頼する権利を与へられなければ、抑留又は拘禁されない。又、何人も、正当な理由がなければ、拘禁されず、要求があれば、その理由は、直ちに本人及びその弁護人の出席する公開の法廷で示されなければならない。
      第三十五条 何人も、その住居、書類及び所持品について、侵入、捜索及び押収を受けることのない権利は、第三十三条の場合を除いては、正当な理由に基いて発せられ、且つ捜索する場所及び押収する物を明示する令状がなければ、侵されない。捜索又は押収は、権限を有する司法官憲が発する各別の令状により、これを行ふ。

      For anyone thinking about putting together a nice effective one-page reference-sheet of the relevant Laws of Japan that protect us people in Japan,
      it should start with the The Supreme Law Japan Constitution Articles 33+34+35,
      then mention Police Duties Execution Law Clause Two,
      then mention Police I.D. Regulations Article 5,
      then mention Police Law Number 162.

    63. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Anonymous #62

      You are having a laugh, surely?
      I don’t believe for one second that bleating on about constitutional rights will make any difference. NJ don’t matter in Japan. Simple.

    64. Charuzu Says:

      Jim Di Griz #63.

      I agree with the thrust of your point.

      Reading these instances of texts or of texts being used fails to confront the fact that — as Debito has described — rights ARE denied and people do die.

      And, there really does seem to be no effective mechanisms to actually enforce these rights, which is why even after the Supreme Court offers ruling, that the NPA feels at liberty to contradict the ruling.

      Rights that are real exist in the world of action, and not in the world of ideas.

      Moreover, the fact that there have been good experiences does not negate the bad experiences.

      In China, for example, not every policeman is a bad person, even though some do engage in horrible activities like beating dissidents, etc.

      The fact that one can repeat the J constitution to a police gendarme and have him go away does not mean that the police feel or are fundamentally bound to observe some rights for NJ.

      It may simply mean that those J police did not want the inconvenience, public commotion, and unpleasant work of detaining the NJ, and then deciding what to do with the NJ.

      It is always the easiest course of action for the NPA to ignore the NJ rather than to detain them, hit them etc.

      And, not every J policeman is sadistic, bigoted, drunk with power, etc.

      And, many will be inexperienced and not know how far their own boss will allow them to mistreat someone, especially a NJ who are rarer than J.

      Analogously, even in China, not every mention of the words “Free Tibet” to a policeman will result in gaol.

      But some will. And, there os no enforceable way to stop that in China.

      So, returning to Japan, because one can have positive experiences with J police by quoting J legal texts to them does not mean that there are legal rights present, or even that this technique is statistically very likely or more likely than wearing a lucky talisman.

      Legal rights are enforceable, if they exist, and there are public records that show that such rights are and have been regularly enforced, and that breaches of those rights are and have been regularly punished.

      That is what distinguishes a legal right from a mere coincidence or the kind of “rights” that exist in North Korea.

      Rights exist in action and deed, and not merely in word.

      So, is there evidence through public records that shows that such rights are and have been regularly enforced, and that breaches of those rights are and have been regularly punished?

    65. Flyjin Says:

      @ Jim above, are you quoting Ishihara?

      At a Tokyo IOC press briefing in 2009, Governor Ishihara dismissed a letter sent by environmentalist Paul Coleman regarding the contradiction of his promoting the Tokyo Olympic 2016 bid as ‘the greenest ever’ while destroying the forested mountain of Minamiyama, the closest ‘Satoyama’ to the centre of Tokyo, by angrily stating Coleman was ‘Just a foreigner, it does not matter’.

      — Need a source for that. Anyway, back on track, please.

    66. Charles Says:

      Sorry to say, I agree with Charuzu and Jim Di Griz.

      Yes, in theory, according to the constitution/the law, we have certain “rights.” However, in reality, police either:
      A) Don’t know about those rights.
      B) Know about those rights, but just don’t care about observing them, and know there will be virtually zero repercussions for not observing them.

      You guys who spend all your waking hours figuring out how to put an RF shield around your new residence card, how to legally refuse a police gaijin card check, etc. — guess what? This is what’s going to happen to you when you finally DO get arrested:


      I’m not saying it’s right. It’s not. Police officers should, in a perfect world, obey the law and the constitution to the letter. But that’s not the reality. The chances of anything truly “bad” happening during a random gaijin card check (if you’re a law-abiding foreigner) are extremely low. I’ve been checked several times, and I’m still here. But refuse, piss off that officer, and the probability of something “bad” happening goes WAY up.

    67. Bob Says:

      Jim, here you and your groundless perpetual pessimism are demonstrably wrong.
      Anon#62’s point is part of the holding of a famous Japanese supreme court case on precisely this point. Japan’s constitution, as interpreted and apply by Japanese courts, grants the same rights to foreigners except where the nature of such rights is fundamentally related to citizenship (eg voting in national elections). “NJ don’t matter” and “bleating on about constitutional rights [won’t] make any difference” are completely and demonstrably false statements in this context. Summary of decision from a random website:
      [money text]憲法第三章の諸規定による基本的人権の保障は、権利の性質上日本国民のみをその対象としていると解されるものを除き、わが国に在留する外国人に対しても等しく及ぶものと解すべきである。[/money text]

      Full text:

      Jim, bleating about constitutional rights makes infinitely more difference than bleating about a supposedly stacked system without any research, backing or sense, as you constantly do.

      — Alright, people, we’re getting into issues of trust of the system. In other words, either you trust the system to follow its express rules (as laws and judicial precedent), or you don’t. There’s plenty of evidence on both sides to say that both outcomes (law enforcement actually obeying their laws, or not) are possible. Now let’s relate it back to the new registry and ZRK system, since that’s what this blog post is about.

    68. Flyjin Says:

      Source for Ishihara quote above, its well documented and is on wikipedia

      ‘Just a foreigner, it does not matter’. Then, on continued questioning by investigative journalist Hajime Yokata, he stated ‘Minamiyama is a Devil’s Mountain that eats children.’ Then he went on to explain how unmanaged forests ‘eat children’ and implied that Yokota, a Japanese national, was betraying his nation by saying ‘What nationality are you anyway?’ This was recorded on film[32] and turned into a video that was sent around the world as the Save Minamiyama Movement[33]

    69. Bob Says:

      Sorry for leaving out the connection to the post.

      I would say all systems and rules are subject to the inherent bias of the people implementing those rules. Everyone has a bias, and some Japanese people (including judges, police and prosecutors) will have a bias against foreign people, or certain foreign people, or in rare cases in favor of foreign people, in implementing those rules. However, the existence of the rule creates an anchor for the outcome. If foreign people have human rights too, the biased arbitor has to go more out of his or her way to reach an unfair conclusion. Similarly, if Japan were to enact strong anti-discrimination law, it would inevitably be enforced to some extent.

      Now, NJ and J are all part of the same Juminhyo. To discriminate against (legally registered) NJ in the provision of government services or as a private business just got a significant step harder. For example, you require a juminhyo to do X or get X job? No problem. I’ve got your Juminhyo right here, baby. On what basis could someone other than the police now determine that an individual legal resident of Japan, who has a driver’s license, Juminhyo and health card, is foreign and discriminate against them in an automated way? The only thing I can think of is a passport, and not all people have passports so it may not be practical for businesses to demand them as ID. I haven’t seen the new Juminhyo, so please correct me if I’m wrong and there is some kind of notation as to nationality.

      The significant downsides are, in my view, the harsh penalties and short deadlines to report changes of address. Many people will unwittingly violate these rules. Will MOJ actually follow through and fine or deport them? Only time will tell, but my money is that this is another avenue for bias to emerge. Foreigners the particular bureaucrat deems more desirable may be more likely receive a slap on the wrist the first time around, while others will get shipped back home on first available steamship. Immigration is one area in which the “nature” of the right is different for a citizen: you can’t deport a citizen, and non-citizens do not have the right to come to or stay in Japan indefinitely when the Minister of Justice determines in some slightly reasonable way that it’s time for them to go home, another part of the holding in マクリン事件.

    70. ADIK Says:

      Chigau I think.
      I have never nad iris scanned, just fingerprints.
      I was shocked when I found out about it.
      The most humiliating is this that they ONLY do to legal NJ residents.
      Even tourists don’t go through this, again except fingerprints.

    71. Scipio Says:

      Bob Says:
      July 21st, 2012 at 4:00 pm
      Now, NJ and J are all part of the same Juminhyo. To discriminate against (legally registered) NJ in the provision of government services or as a private business just got a significant step harder.

      Can I have some of what you’re having?

      The above has to be the most overly optimistic opinion I have read about Japan.
      For a society so engrained with its own discriminations against itself, do you really think that a plastic juminhyo held by a non-national is going to make a great deal of difference to discriminatory practices against non-Japanese nationals?

    72. Joe Says:


      “On what basis could someone other than the police now determine that an individual legal resident of Japan, who has a driver’s license, Juminhyo and health card, is foreign and discriminate against them in an automated way?”

      You’re Bob, I’m Joe. The other job applicant is Kenichi. Who’s going to get the job?

    73. Bob Says:


      I think a paper juminhyo means one less excuse to mistreat NJ. It’s counterfactual to disagree with this; the only question is how much impact will it have. We’ve all applied for something where they ask for a juminhyo. I acknowledge that this is not a cure-all; societies discriminate against outsiders, no matter what, wherever you are. The paper profile of a foreigner in Japan now more closely resembles that of a citizen. Being able to submit a juminhyo in lieu of an ARC makes it that much less obvious that the person applying for a bank loan / apartment / job / you name it is outside of the box. This is progress and can only serve to improve things. How much? We’ll see.

    74. Bob Says:

      Joe: You could change your name in your country of origin and get around that issue, subject to limitations on kanjification of names for non-sinophere countries. The point is, on paper those applicants just got harder to distinguish on the basis of nationality alone.

    75. James Annan Says:

      Just to confirm what was discussed above, I just handed in my PR application this morning and the desk drone didn’t bat an eyelid at my 3y visa (not the new 5y). Not that this guarantees I’ll get it, of course…but in our experience, they have always got it right before.

      Incidentally, Yokohama immigration was not particularly busy. There was a notice telling people they didn’t need to exchange their alien card yet.

    76. YK Says:

      This new visa system is absolutely not more convenient, and there is nothing good about it. You will not be required to get a re-entry permit, but every time you take a vacation of any length, you will be required to go to your ward office, and de-register. Otherwise, your tax meter will keep ticking. You will be required to have all your taxes paid up, medical insurance all paid, and have paid into their pension system.

      Wonderful news for those who are paying 80,000 a month in rent, earning 250,000 or less (like the average English teacher), and paying 400 yen for a single apple.

      What is more convenient about going to the ward office every time, versus getting a multiple REP every few years?

      This is just one more reason that this country is an unattractive place to work, and live.

    77. Bob Says:

      YK – You shouldn’t be deregistering for vacations. When you work in XYZ-shi and go on a 2-week vacation to Australia, you should remain a taxpaying resident of XYZ-shi just like every other person.

    78. john k Says:

      I used to be able to do this at the “local” immigration centre, but now I must go to the prefectures official immigration centre. Luckily the change of venue isn’t too much hardship, just a pain.

      When I went, on the opening day last month, the lady gave me an English written paper explaining the ‘new system’ and procedures. Exactly like the one i had already been sent in the post. I told her it is meaningless and doesn’t make sense. It says nothing, just a bunch of words with no meaning. She sighed..and said everyone has been saying this to her. She also didn’t know much about the new system.

      In the end, it wasn’t necessary for me to have gone, as all my existing visa’s were up to date. My multiple entry visa expires in 2014….so i asked about this then…guy behind the counter didn’t have a clue, it was “outside” the normal question expected, ie didn’t compute! So he said I’ll have to get another re-entry visa afterwards…..twat, didn’t have a clue.

      Whilst there they said i could do all this and get my PR at once if I wanted…so I thought, why not. Took about me about 10mins, since I had all the relevant paper to hand anyway.

      Now got my PR stamp in my passport.

      Long and short of it….what has changed…nowt, just a new name for the same bollocks process as far as I see it!

    79. James Says:

      Hi all

      I would like to ask the same question as someone else did very early on in this thread as I have been unable to find an answer for it here.

      I have the old-school ARC, not the new card. I will be going to the UK at the end of this month and will change my visa to spousal when I return, thus being entitled to a new card.

      My question is, as a holder of the old-style ARC, am I also exempt from needing a re-entry permit?

      Thank you in advance.

    80. john k Says:


      As far as I understand it, it is not the card per se, but what is in your passport.

      You need either an existing a re-entry visa or the new visa stamp in your passport. Since the card is issued based upon your Visa status, not the other way around. Technically I have both now…as my re-entry visa is still valid until end of 2014. But once it expires, i no longer need to renew it for multiple re-entry as the new Visa stamp in my passport allows this. This saves me some 8,000Yen in an additional stamp in my passport (as my spouse visa is single entry), so a slight plus!!

      I need one as i travel in and out of Japan about 5times a year.

    81. sorge Says:

      @79 As long as you have a valid visa, you should now be ok for re-entry, I think

      @ 80 On a tangent,, but I went to get my new UK passport registered at the immigration office this week, and they no longer put any visa stamps into your passport as long as you have the new ARC. Seems odd to me, but so be it.

    82. john k Says:

      #81, where was this?

      If you have no intention of leaving Japan, for holiday or whatever, nor think you’ll ever be stopped and questioned by the police, then that’s fine. But as soon as you leave and wish to return or the local Bobby is a “jobs-worth”, it isn’t the ARC or new card they look at, its the visa stamp in the passport.

      I have been in and out of Japan probably some 20~30 times over the last 7 years. Only once was i ever asked for my ARC card. Its the visa they look at not your ARC going through immigration.

      So, go back and insist on the visa stamp you had/have in your old passport to be stamped in your new one. Of course, like me, they’ll charge you for it…anything to make a fast buck. But you must have a visa, valid one, in your passport.

      If you are stopped by Police, and show your ARC….and then they decide to go further and check with immigration and ask to see your passport, aka ‘jobs-worth,….your sunk!

      As Bill once said “’s the Visa stupid..”” 😉

    83. John Says:

      I made comment #5, about my experience of by chance having to renew my SOR in the same week the new system came in. I’ve just exited Japan for a while and am here to report what happened. I’ve got the new Residence Card.

      The exit had a couple of minor changes. Firstly, they want to see your card. The new card is scanned; I understand you also have to show the old ARC if you still have it, because legally that *is* the new card now. I went out using the usual red and white embarkation/disembarkation cards. These are the same ones as before except there is a small stamp already printed on the right-hand (embarkation) card (someone must have had a wonderful time stamping all of those). This says in English: “Departure with Special Re-entry Permission”. The Japanese says: みなし再入国許可による出国を希望します。Next to that is a small blank box, maybe for a tick. My guess is that you use the red and white card whether you have a re-entry permit or not, and they note on that stamp whether you exited with a permit.

      The other thing is that I received a black stamp placed on the back of the disembarkation card stapled into my passport. This says in English “Out of the country on a special re-entry permission – The period of validity for special re-entry permission cannot be extended. – Immigration Inspector, Japan”. It’s in Japanese too but I don’t have time to write this as I’m not on a Japanese PC right now.

      I have a re-entry permit which I got under the old system and which is set to expire shortly. The immigration officer took my card and checked that re-entry permit, so I think you get the black stamp if you have a valid re-entry permit only. I still have my residence card, which means they haven’t cancelled anything.

      @79: yes, you are exempt from needing a re-entry permit unless you leave for more than a year. Your old ARC is legally now the Residence Card, and both act as the SOR stamp in your passport. Renew your SOR or get a new passport and they don’t put anything in your passport (newcomers do get a passport stamp, though). The only things in my passport which show that I am a resident are the re-entry permit (which expires soon anyway) and the disembarkation card. This might be a problem abroad if for some reason you need to prove your status (say, when you board a flight) and the staff don’t know about the new system.

      — Thanks for reporting.

    84. sorge Says:

      @ 82: Just to follow this up, I checked today and found that there really are no more visa stamps to go in passports; it’s just the one RC card from now on. I’m not sure if a foreign airport check-in desk is going to like that, but think of the money the ministry must be saving on stamps…

    85. john k Says:

      #84 Sorge,

      I know what you’re saying, but this is, where it is terribly confusing, still!

      The new RC card is only issued to those with a valid “legal residency status” define by the Immigration Control Act (which they now call mid-to-long term residence??), which is defined as foreigners to whom none of the 1 to 6 below apply:
      1) Granted permission to stay for ‘3 months’ or less;
      2)Granted “temp visitor” status;
      3)Granted ‘diplomat’ or ;official’ status;
      4 Staff of Japanese office of East Asian and perm gen mission of Palestine whom have “‘designated activities” status;
      5) Special perm residence (not sure what that is);
      6) Foreigners without a resident status.

      Thus, there must be some kind of stamp in your passport. Since without a stamp of sorts, in your passport, how does the immigration dept assess you?

      All i can fathom out properly is that is says “..the alien registration system will be abolished. An alien registration certificate, already held by mid to long term resident (legal resident in old language), will be deemed to be the equivalent to a ‘residence card’.

      So the “alien registration certificate”, must mean, the stamp in your passport issued by immigration???

      Otherwise, how else will they issue the RC card, they need some proof of your status.

      Its become a chicken and egg argument!!

    86. john k Says:

      To follow on from above:

      This website show that:

      “..Immigration examination

      At Narita, Haneda, Chubu, and Kansai Airports, besides having a seal of landing verification stamped in their passports, mid- to long-term residents will be issued a resident card.

      At other ports of entry/departure, a seal of landing verification will be stamped in the passport and the following description will be made near the stamp. In this case, a resident card will be issued after a mid- to long-term resident follows the residency procedure at the municipal office of the city/town/village. (Basically, a resident card will be mailed by the Regional Immigration Office to the reported place of residence…”

      See what I mean…it is a very circular argument!! :(

    87. James Says:

      Hi all,

      I posted the question in response #79. I am now reporting on my trip to immigration (Tachikawa branch).

      I arrived having already completed two forms – one in order to change to the new type of card and another for a re-entry permit, just in case I needed.

      The immigration inspector would not change me over to the new type of card if I were not changing or extending my visa status.

      She also explained that having the old style alien registration certificate exempts me from needing a re-entry permit if my stay out of Japan is less than one year.

      So there we have it.

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