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


Hello Blog. Here’s something odd. My lawyer today told me about an Asahi article which came out two days ago regarding proposals to IC Chip all foreign workers.

Funny thing is this. The English version (enclosed below) is entitled “IC cards planned to track ‘Nikkeijin'”. The Japanese version is entitled “Gaikokujin ni IC kaado–touroku jouhou no ichigen kanri he seifu gen’an” (“IC Cards for Foreigners–a proposal before the Diet to unify all registered data for administrative purposes”). Sounds quite different, no?

And the J version focusses much more on how it’s going to affect “gaikokujin roudousha” (foreign workers), including any foreigner registered and/or working for a company in Japan. The Japanese version doesn’t even mention “Nikkeijin” until well into the third paragraph, let alone the headline. Odd indeed.

Both articles blogged on for your reference. Japanese version at
Or on this blog at

What do you think is going on here? Is this a way to keep the members of the foreign elite that can’t read Japanese from protesting when hobnobbing with the Japanese elite? Debito in Sapporo


IC cards planned to track ‘nikkeijin’

The government plans to enhance its system of tracking foreign nationals of Japanese descent by issuing new IC cards containing information controlled by the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau, sources said Tuesday.

The electronic information will include name, date of birth, nationality, address in Japan, family members, and duration and status of stay, the sources said.

The cards will be issued by immigration offices when they grant visas to the foreigners of Japanese ancestry, or nikkeijin.

With the information under its control, the Immigration Bureau will be able to follow changes in the foreign residents’ addresses when they present the IC cards to municipal governments in reporting that they are setting up residence there.

The Justice Ministry will also consolidate information on private companies and municipal governments that hire foreign workers, the sources said.

The moves are part of the government’s efforts to expand the scope of legal systems to prepare for a growing number of foreigners working in Japan, the sources said.

The IC cards will be issued mainly to nikkeijin and their family members who came to Japan in the 1980s and thereafter.

The nikkeijin have been practically exempted from the government’s policy of refusing entry to unskilled workers. Their whereabouts and duration of stay are often difficult to grasp, sources said.

Special permanent residents, including those from former Japanese colonies, such as the Korean Peninsula, and their descendants, as well as travelers and others here for a short period, will be exempted from the IC card program, the officials said.

Those who opt for the IC cards would not have to obtain an alien registration card from their municipal office. But they would have to present the IC cards when they register at new municipalities, the officials said.

The draft proposal was compiled by a working group of a government council on crime-fighting measures. The council, headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, received the working group’s proposal Tuesday, they added.

A working group of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in 2005 proposed that all foreigners be required to carry such IC cards, much like alien registration cards issued by municipal governments.

But the move was quashed after opponents said such action could lead to excess supervision.

For the new IC card plan, the government plans to submit a bill to revise related laws to the ordinary Diet session in fiscal 2008, the sources said.(IHT/Asahi: December 20,2006)

1 comment on “Mysterious Asahi translation: “IC cards planned to track ‘nikkeijin'”

  • Hi there,

    Seems likely that this is a case of sloppy translation and editing, rather than some sort of conspiracy to keep non-Japanese speaking poobahs in the dark.

    Nevertheless, the entire IC card issue is extremely disquieting, especially when your consider that the Japanese government wishes to have a completely networked society by 2010 (see “U-Japan” or “Ubiquitous Japan” for more info).

    If you don’t want the government to be able to track your every move with an RFID chip, however, the solution is simple: wrap your alien registration card in tinfoil, which will effectively prevent data from being broadcast. Admittedly, the government can really only track chips from close proximity, such as toll booths at train stations and so on.


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