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Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

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  • Question on Welfare Assistance (seikatsu hogo) and privacy rights

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on January 27th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
    Hi Blog. Got a question from TtoT at The Community today that deserves answering. In these days of mass layoffs and people on unemployment insurance, apparently the welfare offices are able to call up relatives and check to see if applicants really are financially as badly off as they say. As the poster points out below, there are privacy issues involved. Anyone know more about this? If so, comments section. Thanks. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


    I’ll state from the outset that I am in strange waters on this one,
    but an acquaintance from years back that remembers our old group and
    the help we offered rang me up a few hours ago and asked me an
    interesting question. It has had me poking around the Net and
    thinking very hard. Now I turn to y’all.

    She and her husband have applied for seikatsuhogo, or welfare
    assistance. I knew nothing about this, so I went to the Ministry of
    Health, Labour, and Welfare website and found this

    Okay, so far so good. But here’s why she called me. It seems that
    one of the requirements for receiving this welfare is that the local
    government will call relatives and ask about their ability to help
    this lady’s family. This seems to be a big problem. Her husband now
    seems to be shamed into not applying for help.

    But the reason she called me was because she is wondering about a
    government agency calling a *relative* and essentially providing
    private information, which is that this family is in serious
    financial trouble and asking for help from the government.

    I just don’t have a clue here, but something does feel odd here.
    There must be some sort of regulations related to government workers
    passing along information to outsiders. I mean those outside the
    immdediate family. The first thing that comes to mind is how they
    define *relative*. And why I put it in special marks in the previous

    Do any of you know anything about this? Do any of you know where I
    can find the regulations pertaining to government responsibility in
    maintaining private information? Oddly enough, I can’t find a
    government document outlining their regulations, but I assume that’s
    just because of my poor Japanese.

    Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

    2 Responses to “Question on Welfare Assistance (seikatsu hogo) and privacy rights”

    1. akira Says:

      The pertaining government can contact 扶養義務者(ふようぎむしゃ).

      Article 4 (2) and Article 29 of the law.

      Definition of 扶養義務者(ふようぎむしゃ).

      3 扶養の有り方 Only in Japanese

      Article 877 of Civil Code


    2. David Says:

      I am not sure this will help but if you go to this site

      and go down just under half of the page you will get to “個人情報の保護に関する法律
      Act on the Protection of Personal Information” and this provides the law on how personal information must be treated. It is only in general terms and not specific to the case in point.

      As a side point, I think it could be used to try and limit the spread of the data in the finger print law. One of the requirements of the law is that the owner of the personal data must on request provide what the data is for and where it can be used. In the finger printing case, if the response from the government is that it is for preventing terrorism and only for use in checking terrorist lists, it would limit where the information could be used (ie it may then be illegal for police to use for crime investigation, immigration to check for overstayers etc).

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