Yomiuri: GOJ now requiring hospitals (unlawfully) demand Gaijin Cards from NJ as a precondition for medical treatment


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Hi Blog.  Related to recent discussions about public refusals of service for either not complying with (unlawful) demands for NJ ID, or denial of service anyway when people in charge arbitrarily decide a visa’s length is not long enough, mentioned below is a move by the GOJ to require hospitals demand Gaijin Cards etc. (as opposed to just requiring medical insurance cards (hokenshou), like they would from any Japanese patient) as a precondition for providing treatment to sick NJ.

Granted, the Yomiuri article below notes that for Japanese patients, the government is “considering” requiring a Japanese Driver License etc. as well, because the hokenshou is not a photo ID.  But once again, NJ are clearly less “trustworthy” than the average Japanese patient, so NJ will have more (again, unlawful) rigmarole first.

But there’s a deeper pattern in this policy creep.  Recall the “Gaijin as Guinea Pig” syndrome we’ve discussed on Debito.org for well over a decade now:  Public policies to further infringe upon civil liberties are first tested out on the Gaijin — because foreign residents even Constitutionally have much fewer civil liberties — and then those policies are foisted on the general public once the precedent is set.   So once again, the GOJ is taking advantage of the weakened position of NJ to assume more government control over society.

NB:  There’s also a meaner attitude at work:  Note in the last paragraph of the article below the echoes of 1980‘s “foreigners have AIDS” paranoia creeping into LDP policy justifications once again.  I say “mean” because the point would have been made by just stopping at “the person fraudulently used somebody else’s insurance”.  And I’m sure presenting a Gaijin Card would have fixed the AIDS issue!  (Not to mention that the GOJ apparently WANTS people to get AIDS screening, especially if they’re visibly foreign!)  Such ill-considered policymaking signals!

Meanwhile, don’t expect equal treatment as a patient if you get sick while foreign.  It’s official policy.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.


2018/11/18(日)  読売新聞, Courtesy of SendaiBen and MJ








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11 comments on “Yomiuri: GOJ now requiring hospitals (unlawfully) demand Gaijin Cards from NJ as a precondition for medical treatment

  • I read this differently: it says “zairyu ka-do nado kaoshashintsuki mibunsho”, i.e. “a picture id, like the residence card”. According to this we should also be able to use the same kind of id that Japanese use.

    The next sentence is the offensive one: “There is worry about misuse of health insurance cards because of the expected increase of the number of foreign workers”. And Japanese (who would never do that) have to show their id so that Japan doesn’t look racist. I agree with debito that “crimanal foreigners” are again used to justify some policy.

  • cynical.nj says:

    FWIW, in the case of us outside people it also says ‘在留カードなど’, so a driving license should be fine too, although I agree: the whole premise and the example at the end are mean…

    Also, a real coincidence, but I just started my stay at a Tokyo hospital last week, so I can tell first hand that as of now, just showing the health insurance ID is still enough.

  • Zig Justice says:

    1. I like how in the diagram they just show the zairyu card and leave out equivalents implied by the “nado” in the text.

    2. Does this mean that they’ll also stop taking insurance cards as a form of ID elsewhere?

    3. What about kids?

    4. They mention one case of fraud in the article from 2014. What are the statistics? (I’m sure they don’t know or care, and probably haven’t bothered checking, but I’m curious; I’d also bet that that kind of fraud is much more prevalent among Japanese than foreigners, simply due to relative population numbers and it’s not like there hasn’t been anything stopping Japanese from doing it.)

    5. Is this codified (or planned to be) in actual legislation anywhere? If not, how can they enforce it?

    . o O (Just my initial angry thoughts.)

  • > 在留カードなど顔写真付き身分証の提示を求める方針

    Emphasis on 「など顔写真付き」. Unfortunately the 住基カード is over, but you can apply for 個人番号カード, which has a picture on it. If your 住民票 has a 通称 it will appear (unfortunately along with the ALL CAPITAL Latin script version). Japanese driver licenses are also an option, too. Other than immigrations and the 区役所, I don’t think I’ve ever used my 在留[資格]カード . Even the airports won’t look at it.

    Personally I just say that I am Japanese. My identity is my choice, regardless of what some government says.

    > the echoes of 1980‘s “foreigners have AIDS” paranoia

    Still going on. Take a look at this often repeated “Sexual Health Service”. One of these in particular does not seem to fit:

    Quote: “#Fukuoka, #STD, #Sexual_clamidia, #Sexual_herpes, #Genital_warts, #Gonorrhea, #Syphilis, #Hepatitis_B, #Amoebiasis, #HIV, #AIDS, […] #Fuuzoku, #Sexual_Fuuzoku, #Highclass_Fuuzoku, #Highclass, #Highclass_Soap, #Soap, #Soapland, #Prostitution, #Blowjob, #Instant_Sex, #NS, #Creampie, #Anal_fuck, #Swallowing, #Foreigners”.

    • WOW.
      It doesn’t get more prejudiced than this, indeed:

      Nakasu (Fukuoka) “Sexual Health Service
      ‏ @nakasu_safesex”
      “We collect info about HIV and sexually-transmited diseases, rampant in Nakasu’s sex parlors. Please let us know through this account if you have information about [establishments] where STD tests/reporting/condoms are not mandatory, absentism because of an STD is not permitted, antibiotics are mandatory, ——–foreign customers patronize the place——–, infection/transmission of disease is ocurring, etc…”
      (—emphasis mine—)
      Japanese text: “中洲の性風俗店で蔓延しているHIV及び性感染症関連の情報を収集しています。性病検査の(受診・報告)義務がない、コンドームの装着義務がない、病気による欠勤が許されない、抗生物質の常用を強いられている、外国人客が出入りしている、感染者が発生している等の情報をお持ちの方は、当アカウントまでお知らせください。”

      Now, as Debito says, we don’t really concern ourselves about discrimination in this kind of establishments, because the issue gets easily muddled. But this arguably goes further than “no foreigners allowed”, it baselessly culpabilizes them.

  • I would be curious – have no Japanese people ever defrauded the system? Why don’t they provide statistics on that? Oh yeah, it’s easier to blame the foreigners.

  • > 在留カードなど顔写真付き身分証の提示を求める方針を固めた。
    > 健康保険証を悪用した「なりすまし受診」が懸念されるためだ。

    Another ill-conceived plan that has not been significantly thought through. My 保険証 naturally only has my Japanese name in kanji. No matter how many how times I’ve asked at immigrations to also add my kanji name to my 在留カード they refuse. (This was not a problem with the older 外国人登録証.) So even with this policy, they will still not be able to verify my identity. Maybe this will give them a reason to add it to the card; I doubt it though.

    • AnonymousOG says:


      My old “Gaikokujin Kaado” had my Roman Letters “real name” PLUS my self-chosen 100%-Kanji Japanese “nickname (tsūshо̄mei)”, but unfortunately: if I were to show that card as I.D. it would totally defeat the whole purpose of the Kanji alias in the first place, namely: compelling businesses to give the same treatment as any Japanese citizen.

      Fortunately, thanks to the fact that I kanjified myself with that 100% Kanji Japanese tsūshо̄mei, the positive result is that I suddenly became able to (even without becoming a Japanese citizen) have my local city hall’s Kokumin-Kenkо̄-Hoken-Shо̄ card-printing-department public workers print my “Kokuho Kaado” (Kokumin-Kenkо̄-Hoken-Shо̄ 国民健康保険証) nicely showing ONLY my 100% Kanji Japanese tsūshо̄mei, and thus my “Roman Letters name” is NOT printed anywhere on the card) for about a decade now.

      By the way, when I first chose that 100% Kanji Japanese tsūshо̄mei and entered it into the Jūminhyо̄ database, automatically the system printed and sent me a new Kokumin-Kenkо̄-Hoken-Shо̄ with “Roman Letters name PLUS Kanji”, but I immediately went in and forced them (using words, camera, and my strong-willed spirit) to print it correctly: Kanji only, nothing else, only Kanji, “because that’s my official ‘doing business as’ name now” (and yes, I even also forced them to print it with my birth year Japanese style (e.g. 昭和51, instead of 1976) and fortunately ever since then the system has been continuously automatically printing and sending my Kokumin-Kenkо̄-Hoken-Shо̄ the way I like it: Kanji only, with my birth year Japanese style.

      So, that 100% Kanji Japanese name printed on my Kokumin-Kenkо̄-Hoken-Shо̄, without anything on the card pointing towards me being “foreign”, has been very useful over the past decade: it has helped me to pretend to be a “Japanese citizen who happens to be white” ever since, for example it allowed me to successfully force staff at banks to treat me as a Japanese citizen (meaning, I got them to create my bank accounts showing only my Kokumin-Kenkо̄-Hoken-Shо̄, nothing else, thus my bank accounts are in my 100% Kanji Japanese name.)

      The problem is the Kokumin-Kenkо̄-Hoken-Shо̄ doesn’t have a photo, and thus logically over the past 5 years the Kokumin-Kenkо̄-Hoken-Shо̄ has become less powerful, since almost all companies are now (logically) demanding I.D. with a photo.

      My Jūki card was I.D. with a photo, but I wasn’t able to get the Jūki card folks to print that the way I wanted. Meaning, my Jūki card unfortunately has the “Roman Letters name PLUS Kanji” (and the western style birth year) so that card marks me as a Gaikokujin. And oh yeah, even if I were willing to use that card as I.D., Japan decided to kill off the Jūki card with a nationwide expiration date a few years ago, so I can’t use my Jūki card as I.D. now even if I wanted to. (By the way, in a logical world, a government-printed form of I.D. should NEVER stop being a valid form of identification. Of course one can’t drive a car on an expired drivers’ license, of course one can’t cross borders on an expired passport, but such expired government-printed forms of I.D. should be accepted by all as a valid proof of who one is.)

      So the situation is:

      I’ve got my valid new Zairyū Card which does NOT have my Kanji on it (boo), and unfortunately it clearly marks me as a foreigner (boo).

      I’ve got my expired old Zairyū Card which has my Kanji on it (yay), yet unfortunately it clearly marks me as a foreigner (boo), and since it’s expired it is no longer accepted as I.D. anymore (boo).

      I’ve got an expired Jūki card with a photo (yay) which has my Kanji on it (yay), yet unfortunately it clearly marks me as a foreigner due to the inclusion of my English Letter name also appearing (boo), and since it’s expired it is no longer accepted as I.D. anymore (boo).

      I could go pick up the My Number Card which is waiting for me somewhere at City Hall, or go earn a Driver’s License, both would have a photo (yay), both would have my Kanji on it (yay), yet unfortunately both would clearly mark me as a foreigner due to the inclusion of my English Letter name also appearing (boo).

      And I’ve got a valid Kokuho card (Kokumin-Kenkо̄-Hoken-Shо̄) which has my Kanji on it (yay), which does NOT mark me as a foreigner at all (yay), yet unfortunately it does NOT have a photo so it’s becoming less and less accepted as sufficient I.D.

      Just as Mumei said: the government of Japan SHOULD simply add a photo to the Kokuho cards and the Shakai Hoken cards yet probably won’t.

      And yeah, just as Mumei says, it is absolutely illogical that the new Zairyuu Cards refuse to print our Kanji on them.

  • Glenn L. Boothe says:

    Debito, I don’t know where this is occurring, but I have had medical problems for the last three years and have been seen and/or hospitalized at three different medical centers on a regular basis. I have encountered none of this. I am asked to show my insurance about every third or fourth visit which is normal. Maybe I’m just lucky, but the hospitals are Ome Sogo, St. Luke’s and Nikkei. I am seen at a minimum of twice a month to as many as eight times a month!


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