New IC “Gaijin Cards”: Original Nyuukan proposal submitted to Diet is viewable here (8 pages)


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Hi Blog. As the poll on the top right of this page indicates, close to a third of all people surveyed as of today don’t have enough information to make an accurate decision about whether the new IC-Chipped Gaijin Cards are a good thing. Well, let’s fix that.  

What follows is the actual proposal before Dietmembers, submitted by MOJ Immigration, for how they should look and what they should do. All eight pages are scanned below (the last page suffered from being faxed, so I just append it FYI). Have a read, and you’ll know as much as our lawmakers know. Courtesy of the Japan Times (y’know, they’re a very helpful bunch; take out a subscription).

No comments for now. More information on the genesis of the IC Chip Gaijin Cards here (Japan Times Nov 22, 2005) and here ( Newsletter May 11, 2008, see items 12 and 13). More on this particular proposal before the Diet and how it played out in recent media here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


13 comments on “New IC “Gaijin Cards”: Original Nyuukan proposal submitted to Diet is viewable here (8 pages)

  • Andrew Smallacombe says:

    Looking at the image of the proposed card, it just seems easier to read for the benfit of employers, police, and whoever else gets deputized (note the big “inelligible to work” and card expiration dates in their sample).
    This will mean that changes in status will need to be made with some kind of pen that won’t smudge like they do on existing cards. (I’ve heard a few horror stories about random checks where the police only looked at the front of the card and noticed that the visa had expired, or couldn’t read the updates on the back.)
    On the bright side, there doesn’t seem to be any space for recording the employer’s details on the front of the card.

  • Besides the increase in upper limit to five years, it seems like very little change from the current system. At least for us “aliens”. Surely this is more for immigrations than anyone else.

    While legally correct, I have always disliked the term “alien”. Especially since I’ve considered Japan to be my home for almost two decades now, which is more than half of my life. While only semantics, I thought that the change in vocabulary to 在留カード would fix that. However, the English on the card is the same: “ALIEN RESIDENCE CARD”. So now instead of being registered aliens, we are alien residences… Of course I am disappointed about the Japanese 在留 now: there is nothing temporary about my time in Japan, my home. A little disappointed.

    Further, just like now, the alien’s name is given in all caps again. In the past this caused me no end of trouble when cell phone places, banks, work etc. insisted that my name be spelled (as well as personally written) in all capitals to match. I finally fixed this with a kanji 通名称. Speaking of which, where on the card will that go? It does not seem like there is space allotted for it. With fewer details being listed, there should be more room available though.

    Off topic, but I would really like to see some progress on recognizing duel-citizenship.

  • I wonder if this is really the full extent of their plans right now. From reading the document I didn’t learn very much more than I learned from the Yomiuri article a few days ago. Does anyone know how initial registration will work? It seems like the city halls are no longer in charge. Surely if all foreigners living in the capital area converged on the Shinagawa immigration bureau, it would be absolute chaos. They talk about convenience, but personally I prefer to take my bicycle to the local kuyakusho than board that gaijin bus at Shinagawa.

  • Thanks for posting this, Debito. And thanks to the Japan Times people for providing it as well.

    One of my key concerns is still not addressed, which is exactly what type of chip will be installed in the cards. I’m personally averse to having anything more than the bare minimum of data on me at any given time anyway, but remotely-readable chips (i.e. RFID) are dealbreakers for me. In my line of work, I’ve seen far too much technology regarding rather frightening RFID-based surveillance for me to be comfortable with such chips. Contact chips are better, but if updates are going to be penned on the rear of the card as per the current system, I wonder what the point of the chip is at all.

    — BTW, now all new Japanese driver licenses are being issued with IC Chips, for everyone. It even tells you where it is on the card (ready your hammers…). And they’re removing the honseki from it, which means next time I get a driver license, I’ll lose one more method of proving my Japanese citizenship (since of course I have no Gaijin Card) when the NPA next racially profiles me on the street. See here:
    I should make a separate blog entry on this…

  • Debito, I think you should be overjoyed that the honseki no longer appears on driver’s licenses. As soon as you get detained/arrested/mistreated on suspicion of being a foreigner without proper ID, you can prove your legitimacy by other means and then take legal action against the authorities. The precedent would open a giant legal can of worms for the police whenever they want to card someone for looking foreign in public.

    This is, of course, assuming that the police do not have readers that can pull the honseki from the IC chip (where it is now stored).

    — Joe, you must think I *like* suing people… 🙂 I don’t. It takes a lot out of you, believe me.

    I wonder if every single cop on the beat will have portable IC chip readers when they snag you on the street. Somehow I doubt it. And that means arrest (because I’m not going to be going down to any Police Boxes of my own free will for “voluntary questioning”, thank you very much.)

  • I see no major surprises here, but was curious as to why the GOJ needs to know the names of my inlaws in addition to my spouse’s. I think THAT is nuts! Especially when they can just mosey on down to the shiyakysho and obtain my spouse’s kosekitohon at will, (which they probably shouldn’t be allowed to).

    BTW, your surname, Arudou, should be written in kanji like all other Japanese surnames as you are Japanese.

    — I know I know. It’s irritating. But my contact took the trouble and expense to send me the documents, can’t really complain.

  • Thanks for the link to the site that assures Japanese that their personal driver’s license data is “safe” because it is “protected” by a 4-digit PIN code.
    Laughable. The 4 digit PIN works at banks because if you try guessing 3 times, the ATM machine won’t give you back the stolen card. One of the main issues with RFID is any hacker can just steal your data by getting a RFID reader in range, such as when standing in line at the supermarket.

    But if you have a drivers license in hand, or at work, and a few minutes’ access with an easily available (on the Net) RFID reader, any amateur hacker can just make a password generator program and run through all 10,000 4-digit combos in the blink of an eye and access the data, right? (Not that I personally have knowledge of such things, but videos about it are on Youtube)

    Do we gaijin even get the “safety” “guaranteed” by this 4-digit PIN? Or no password protection at all, since we can’t protest or vote? (not that demanding a useless 4-digit PIN just like Japanese is actually worth anything except symbolically)

    Best protection is supposedly to line your wallet with tinfoil (seriously) which blocks the signal (as modern shoplifters have employed with great success).

  • Well at Shmoo-con (or was that Def-con? I don’t remember) they had a demostration on scanning the information broadcast by the chips in passports so I’d be more worried about some random person scanning my cards than the police. In that matter, everyone with an ic chip broadcasting information is in danger, not just people with the with the new cards.

  • Michael Weidner says:


    So they’ve reverted to the “Alien Residence Card” way of phrasing….

    I was here 10 years ago when they were still using the old phrasing on the cards, calling them “Alien Registration Cards” and the cards were actually green in color. I was very tempted to draw little antenae on the picture…

    Why was there a change to the current “Certifcate of Alien Registration” from that? Was it because of people being offended by it? And on that same bent, why the change back?

    I know that a lot of Japanese Government Departments like to exclude Native English Speakers from all the important decision-making commitees (just look at the Education system if you don’t believe me…), but wouldn’t you think that they would at least get someone to spellcheck or proof the darn things before they decide to make them?

    I’ll be readying my hammer for when I have to change mine over in 2011…

  • I am stunned that the government believes that the IC’s are even remotely able to safely store private information. All over the world, there have been serious security failures since implementing IC technology in data control (e.g. secure passports).

    Here are four examples randomly pulled off a Google search for anyone not familiar:

    If I were a ne’er-do-well, I would be ecstatic that the GOJ is implementing this. Speaking from experience as a recovering computer engineer, sloppy security measures simply increase credibility, without proportional production difficulty, of falsified credentials (material or electronic).

  • I guess the government wants to change the cards since many fake ones have been found.
    There was a NHK story some time ago were many fake alien cards and driver licenses were found in Nagoya.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    More examples of “making it impossible to avoid being in violation of the law”: they now want you to give an address in your home country, and report any changes in this within 14 days? Until now, you only gave a country and city name, but here they are making things more onerous on the sly.

    Reporting your address in your home country might not be a burden for tourists, but for long-term residents? People like JETs and short-term (1-3 years, say) expats will have no problem doing this, nor will people fresh out of college who can use their family’s address as a permanent home base. But don’t a lot of the foreign people here pull up stakes entirely, selling cars and possessions and really moving to Japan?

    And they now want people to report changes in this within 14 days? What are long-termers whose parents have passed away to do? People who aren’t on good enough terms with people back “home” to borrow an address; what can they do? There’s no way to even check this. What a farce.

  • I’ve happened to fall in with the Kurdish asylum-seeker community in Tokyo. The fun thing about this new registration system is that asylum seekers and overstayers will NOT be given one of these fancy new cards. For those of you unsympathetic to overstayers, please note that foreign children born in Japan are guilty of the crime of overstaying before they learn to talk.

    This new system means that refugee applicants and others who, for various reasons, have no legal status in Japan will have no Japan-issued ID at all. This will make it harder than it already is for them to live normal lives.


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