Officially proposed by Soumushou: NJ to get Juuminhyou


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Hi Blog. In a country where NJ are so separated from Japanese that citizenship has been required for residency, the news keeps getting better.

In a country where the bureaucrats are usually the drafters of laws and quasi-law directives (whereas the politicians are more the lobbyists), we have a proposal formally announced by Soumushou (The Ministry of the Interior) that puts NJ on a Juuminhyou Residency Certificate with their Japanese families. Email regarding this arrived yesterday from AM:

Hi Debito, It looks like the details of NJ inclusion in the juuminhyou system have been cemented.

The link above has some interesting information under the new proposed law titled 住民基本台帳法の一部を改正する法律案. Especially the 概要 part and the 法律案・理由 part.  Excerpt from the former:


For one, it looks like the proper handling of international families is a main goal. So no more need to be a “jijitsujou no setainushi”. Also, any change in visa status will be reported directly from immigration, so no need for a trip to city hall.

It looks like this inclusion in the juuminhyou system will happen on the same day the residence card is rolled out. Best Regards, AM


Yes, and how about that jijitsujou setai nushi (“effective head of household”, the tenuous status granted to NJ breadwinners if they happen to be breadwinners, and male (females often got rejected, because gimlet-eyed bureaucrats have discretionary powers to doubt that people without the proper gonads could make proper money)).  This status used to be the only way an NJ could be listed with his or her family on the Residency Certificate.

Well, for more than a decade now has had copies of a particular “legal clarification” (Seirei 292, in this case) that bureaucrats can make to mint new laws without involving politicians. According to this Seirei, NJ could actually be juuminhyoued if they requested it.  People then downloaded that and forced the gimlets to effectively household head them. So many NJ did it that the gimlets actually created special forms for the procedure. See another email I got yesterday:

Hi Debito: The Juuminhyou request went surprisingly smooth, we didn’t even need to hit anybody over the head with a rolled up copy of Seirei 292. 

As a matter of fact, look at this nice form they gave us, which kindly notified us of 2 additional rights we have, so we said “Yes” to all 3 rights:

I think this form, plus the “Juuminhyou for all Residents by 2012” possibility, are both direct results of your activism. Thanks again Debito! 


Quite welcome.  We all played a part in this.  It’s only taken 60 years (1952, when NJ first had to register, to 2012) for it to change. But we did it.  

Next up, the Koseki Family Registry issue, where citizenship is again required for proper listing as a spouse and current family member.  

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

11 comments on “Officially proposed by Soumushou: NJ to get Juuminhyou

  • my only question is why does it take another two years to start this system? 2012, again im mystefied with the snails pace of human rights over here.

  • I’ll believe it when I see it. My fingers are crossed in addition to my toes.

    Debito – Instead of running for office, wouldn’t it be better to become a bureaucrat? If the bureaucrats are the ones who make the laws, then by becoming one you could have a direct influence on policy.

    — Definitely not. I’m not studying for the civil service exams at this stage of my life, and I’m not of a bureaucrat’s disposition anyway.

  • I have a better ideal, how about they just pass a new law to do away with the outdated juminihyo system in 2012 instead. there must be a reason why japan is the only country in the world that has such a assnine system such as this. so that tells me that this assnine system aint working properly..

    — No, there are other countries with a juuminhyou system. South Korea and Germany, for two. You’d be a lot more credible if you did some research from time to time instead of spouting off that Japan’s is uniquely bad all the time.

  • debito your twisting my comment, I never said japan was bad.I simply said that the juminhyo or however you spell it system is really outdated and useless. frankly speaking it is just a bad system, not japan. Its not or never has been an effective system in my opinion.

    — C’mon Jim. Read what you wrote. “japan is the only country in the world that has such a assnine [sic] system such as this”. No twisting necessary. And you not saying Japan is somehow categorically bad somewhere in your comments is truly a rarity.

    If you’re not going to make comments conscientiously, don’t bother making them any more.

  • Ok… The following countries use family registers (juuminhyo):

    Japan – Juuminhyo 住民票

    North Korea – Hoju 戸主

    South Korea – Hojok 戸籍 (S.Korea recognized the discrimination involved with the categorizing people in this fashion and abolished the Hojok system on January 1st, 2008. There is a better system in place now).

    China / Taiwan – Huji 戸籍 (China frequently uses the Huji system to root out “undesirables” from various special locations such as Beijing through spot checks and such). Taiwan does not do this, but the system is used to verify your identity for voting, etc…)

    Germany – familienbuch

    France – livret de famille

    Russia – Propiska (This system ended with the Soviet era, and a scaled down version of it is in place today and a few of the old Soviet satellites).

    *** I googled all this information in 5 minutes. Most of it came from Wiki:
    Regarding the the Korean Hojok, this link was interesting:

    The juuminhyo system has been abused by politicians all over the world. I commend South Korea for formally abolishing the system in favor of an individualized Hojok system.

    Hope this helps a little. There is nothing about the koseki that is unique to Japan. Nothing.

    — Thank you, James.

    Discover Google, Jim. And stop using this site merely as stress release.

  • As I suspected, Vietnam has the same system too. It’s called the Ho Khau. The word is probably represented by the same kanji as koseki, but since 1919 Vietnam ceased using kanji. Anyways, the abuse of this system apparently used to be quite severe as well and still is:;jsessionid=JvvVnDnpFn7HhWlRCyLbV5xqDKGTy1JwJFhMv0pmpqc19ZV0zyJR!1219491712!-587966032?docId=5002421956

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    James, do those systems include resident non-nationals? How about if the non-nationals are married to nationals?

    For me, the juuminhyou system itself isn’t a problem. You can argue that the government doesn’t need all that information, but it can also serve as a good proof of identity when applying for a mortgage or loan, or signing any other contract. Being a part of that system means that both parties can trust each other in a way that isn’t possible if you’re relying on something like driver’s licenses.

    The problem, of course, is that non-nationals are totally excluded despite being taxpaying residents. If such a person marries a Japanese person, two separate households, with two separate householders, exist in the same physical space, which is nonsensical. The Japanese person is “married” to a formless shadow (well, OK, a “remark” at the bottom) and technically-single parents can have children who, since no spouse is listed, seem to have appeared from thin air rather than from a womb.

    Japanese record-keepers are famous for their attention to detail and to accuracy, and it’s telling that the importance of keeping non-Japanese resident records separate from that of Japanese is so great that even physical reality is tossed aside and made a mockery of.

    This is what’s asinine. Now what other countries do things like this, and in what way?

  • “China / Taiwan – Huji 戸籍”

    For what it’s worth, I think China’s system is more commonly called “hukou” 户口 rather than “huji,” which is more a Taiwan thing, I think. Also, I wouldn’t say it is quite the same thing as the Japanese juminhyo as the usage differs in certain subtle ways over here in China. But James is right: the hukou is often used by sketchy cops to extend their reach beyond the letter of the law in certain occasions. There’s always talk of reforming the system, but it never seems to amount to anything.

  • Mark in Yayoi – As I have not lived in the above mentioned countries except Japan, I’m afraid I’m not certain if they include foreigners. What I do know is that this system of registry in Asia, seems to stem from China. I would not be surprised at all if Thailand , Laos, and Cambodia have similar registration systems as well. Try googling that information. You might have to dig a bit though.
    I also would like to know where European countries like Germany and France aquired the notion of a family registration. Perhaps for tax collection purposes? Anyone know?

  • i too am interested in whether especially the french and german systems exclude non-nationals . i am with mark in yayoi in this case. the exclusion is non-nationals is the negative part, not the presence of the system. in addition, i would not use the fact that the system is present in north korea and china as a supporting argument for the japanese system. it also seems that the familienbuch is no longer in use. my german is unfortunately a wee bit limited so i am in no way certain though.

    on a side note, with the introduction of NJs in jyumionhyo i reckon it will no longer be possible to have two(2) setainushi, which is now possible.

  • You are my hero, but you have to understand how difficult a lot of this is to understand for some people. Why do I want juuminhyou? I looked at an article you wrote in 1997 about being an invisible man living in Japan, but what is the main reason to want 住民票 besides not wanting to get screwed over in marriage?If I naturalize I get the same rights as Japanese, right? If you had a graph or something about the rights of people with/without it, about Zainichi`s rights, and naturalized citizens rights on your website, then please link me there so I can stop losing my hair.

    — Sorry, responding remotely, no time to send links. Try google and limit results to


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