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


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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

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 comments on “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

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  • Hi,

    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?

  • @ 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.

  • Debito:

    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.

  • @ 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.

  • 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!

  • @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.

  • 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.”

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • @ 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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]

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • @Bob

    “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?

  • Scipio:

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • James,

    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.

  • @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.

  • #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..”” 😉

  • 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.

  • @ 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…

  • #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!!

  • 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!! 🙁

  • 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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