More Juuminhyou idiocies: Dogs now allowed Residency Certificates in Tokyo Itabashi-ku. But not NJ residents, of course.


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  One more notch on my lipstick case of bureaucratic idiocies in Japan. Reader KC just submitted two articles (I had heard about this, but was busy with other stuff and neglected to blog it, sorry) about Tokyo Itabashi-ku giving Residency Certificates (juuminhyou) to dogs.  Fine, but how about foreigners?  They are still not allowed to get their own.

For those who came in late, brief background on the issue:  NJ get a different registry certificate, are not automatically listed on their families’ Residency Certificates unless they request it and only if the bureaucrat in charge believes they are “effective head of household”, and are not counted as “residents” anyway in some population tallies despite paying residency taxes).  Japan is the only country I know of (and definitely the only developed country) requiring citizenship for residency.  This is said to be changing by 2012.  But I won’t cheer this legal “vaporware” until after it happens, and it still comes after the humiliation of long allowing sea mammals and cartoon characters their own residency certificates overnight. To wit: 自治体は動物や架空の存在に住民票を発行する(『たまちゃん』横浜(2003)、『鉄腕アトム』新座市(2003)、『クレヨンしんちゃん』日下部市(2004)、『クーちゃん』釧路市(2009)など。More on the issue here.

As submitter KC writes:
One more story that caught my attention was…

Official Itabashi-ku website link here…

The stories are self explanatory, but if I have to summarize … Itabashi-ku is spending its resources to issue JUUMINHYOU to dogs (yes dogs!)… but it has never even occured to them that taxpaying foreign residents deserve JUUMINHYOU more than the dogs. Regards. KC


産經新聞 2010.1.20 22:36


Courtesy Sankei Shinbun
















27 comments on “More Juuminhyou idiocies: Dogs now allowed Residency Certificates in Tokyo Itabashi-ku. But not NJ residents, of course.

  • Gee, and here I was thinking that it would be nice to be listed as my child’s mother and my husband’s wife on the Koseki….but, y’know maybe if I sat up and begged?? Could our cat get one then…but still not me? Un freakinbelieveable.

  • Gave the health centre a call but was told that the person in-charge of 犬の住民票 was ‘out’ somewhere. When asked if the young lady (and it always seems to be a young lady on the other end of the line) could be of any help, I explained how this PR NJ felt having paid residency taxes for about the last 10 prime ministers and can’t get 住民票 but dogs (who just seem to bark or whine in my area) can get a free one. All very politely done and the lady seemed very concerned and would pass it on (not to the tanto) but to the people who decided this new project (as I requested). The memo will probably find its way into the bin before lunch and all the right noises were made but it just seems that your common civil servant doesn’t have a clue about these kinds of issues … sasuga main media!

  • A:”Hmm…according to these files, this is a family of a mother and two daughters.”
    B:”Who’s the father…?”
    A:”Hmm….a ghost maybe?”
    C:”Uh…excuse me, thats me. I’m the father.”
    B:”Oh, a foreigner. Ghosts, foreigners…either way, most people can’t see you anyway”.

  • Well, I ll just keep on paying my city tax late then. Or, in some peoples’ cases, not at all.

    Invisible foreigners can be slightly harder to tax, so bad luck Japan. And good luck finding ways to pay for the GoJ’s latest record breaking budget.

    No taxation without registration.

  • I e-mailed them when it came out and got this response which completely ignored the issue I brought up.





  • @ Johnny:

    Perhaps you should have told them you wish to be registered on the juuminhyou system in an effort to combat rabies in humans. 🙂

  • While exiting Japan about two years ago I came face to face with this too. My Japanese spouse had a document issued to her, effectively changing her residency to Spain. I asked for the same thing and was told “We don’t issue these to NJ, only to citizens.” So, I asked, “What do I have to do to suspend residency?” The answer was, “Nothing, we really don’t care if you stay or leave! Oh! but please make sure your residency taxes are paid up to the end of the year!” She went away and came back with a bill for JPY120,000. I was seething at this stage, and decided that continuing to bang my head against a brick wall would only exacerbate the throbbing pain in my head. I left without saying a word, and promptly put the paper into the shredder. Mail asking for payment was returned by my in-laws marked “Not known at this address.” (This was about the time when I decided to pay taxes in coins and handing in your excellent anti-fingerprinting tract, to be met with a “P.F.O., and talk to the Ministry of Justice” letter from the Mayor. My subsequent letter to the MOJ was ignored.)

    This, along with being noted as a “Remark” on my spouse’s koseki, effectively making me a non-person, convinced me that it was time for me to go. (I know not everyone has, or wants to, make that choice.) Further confirming my decision to be the best one for me, before I completely blew a gasket, was a report in one of the English language dailies around the same time (July/Aug 2008) saying that “Human Rights in Japan are only for Japanese”

    I continually refer to this quote from Sir Hugh Cortazzi, former UK Ambassador to Tokyo, as it is the most succinct and diplomatic way of saying what I would use profanities to express: ‘The approach of Japan, faced with an aging and declining population, seems to be that it would rather acquiesce to inevitable economic decline rather than accept significantly higher rates of immigration. This is a “recrudescence of Japanese chauvinism and isolation.”‘ Japan Times, January 7th 2008.

    I wonder if these kinds of things were as well known as manga, anime and Japanese band names worldwide, some sense of shame might eventually sink in.

  • Following on…as a comparison, my Japanese spouse, who received permanent-resident status in my own EU country of nationality, was granted her own “Certificate of Residence” and ID card number(zero quibbles) here in Spain, (free) health insurance card, (free) Spanish lessons, Social Insurance/Tax Number (same as Spanish citizens) and enjoys all the rights of EU nationals living in the EU now. She has her own “empadronimento” (juuminhyou) paper, and can obtain a co-habitation certificate with either my name adding her, or in her name adding me, free, upon request at the local city office. Interestingly it’s called “El servicio de los ciudadanos” the “Office to Serve the Citizens,” and we are always warmly greeted and assisted, even though we’re not citizens of Spain. What a difference! Heck, she can even vote in local and provincial elections. There is a government ministry of women’s affairs, and she can get all kinds of assistance in integrating, getting job-training and a million other helps and hints along the way, all for free. And the social services and employment ministries offer lots of courses, that we’re both eligible for, all for free. If she becomes unemployed she’ll get full benefits, like everyone else, no questions asked. And not once do we ever hear the word “estranjero” (foreigner) mentioned. Not even once!

    Sorry to rag on, but this is a touchy subject for me. I just hated being a non-person source of revenue for the pen-pushing folks who make the idiotic rules in Japan. All the duties and none of the rights.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    please make sure your residency taxes are paid up to the end of the year!”

    DR, in what month did this happen?

    They attempted to take resident taxes from you for a period when you were not only not a resident, but for a period in the future!?

    The only logic I can think of to justify this would be them figuring that you didn’t pay resident taxes in your first year (because your income was zero in the year before that), so they get you after your period of residency is over.

    But even that’s hard to accept, because it would be very unfair to make up for a lack of taxes in Year 1, when the worker might be an impoverished student making Y800 per hour at Lawson’s, by forcing him to pay extra in Year 10, when he’s a full-time company employee making several times that much.

    From a legal perspective, this can hardly be defensible.

    Or maybe they’re just hoping to offset the many tax cheats (of all nationalities) by overcharging a politically-powerless minority?

  • I am reminded of the (possibly apocryphal) sign in Japanese-occupied China: NO DOGS OR CHINESE. Seventy years later, Japan has given the dogs their day.

  • @ Mark in Yayoi, Yep! I told them on September 22nd 2008, and once they knew I would be out of the country from September 28th 2008, they issued a ‘Tax Due “Now”‘ invoice to me over the counter to cover what they said I would have to pay, as taxes were due for the entire calendar year, whether one resides there or not for a portion of that year. The deadline for the third quarter tax payment was September 26th, and I hadn’t paid, so they factored in third and fourth quarter taxes, and told me to pay up before I left the country. Suffice it to say, I did not. They even sent someone to my home to collect it on September 25th, to which I just didn’t open the door, and they left empty-handed, having put a “Final Notice to Pay, Or Else We’ll Impose Surcharges” in red ink in my mailbox. That too, met the same fate as the previous one, the shredder.

    I actually half expected there to be some tax-related hiccup at Chubu when I exited, but no. That may change, though, if this new Big Brother system kicks in. I never felt such relief as when Lufthansa lifted off and we reached cruising altitude!

    — Wow, those red-ink letters really got to you.

  • Peter McArthur says:

    Okay … if that’s the way they want to do it.

    ワン ワン

    Can I register my paw-print as a jitsuin, too?

  • I’m reminded of those pinprick protests: What if we all just refused to pay our 住民税 on the basis that we don’t have 住民票? I’d go into my ward office (preferably with a well-worded letter that I could include with the return of my 住民税 forms) and let them know that I’d like them to prove to me that I am a juumin before I start paying the taxes to be a juumin. Or would this do nothing? I think that if enough people did it in enough places, it might make some local paper somewhere about how those ungrateful foreigners won’t pay taxes. However, it would get the idea that people have that only Japanese citizens pay taxes.

  • Or better yet: does anyone own a dog in Itabashi-ku? Could a non-citizen get a dog juuminhyou and then try and get registered as head of the household on their dog’s juuminhyou?

    — Hm. That would really put you in the doghouse with the bureaucrats! Arf!

  • Gilesdesign says:

    I sent an email to itabashi city website (link helpfully provided in the post thanks) asking if even foreign breeds of dogs (洋犬) would be accepted for juuminhyou registration.

    No reply as yet but I will be sure to post it up here if it comes.

  • @DR

    The residency tax is what you owed for the year whether you chose to live there or not or take a 2 month vacation somewhere in between or whatever. You owed the taxes — the total amount. I don’t see why we should be applauding you for skipping out on taxes owed. Actions such as these only serve to paint all foreigners with the same brush. DR is happy that he could skip out without paying the back taxes he owed. I couldn’t be considered a fan of paying residency taxes on top of all else that I pay but it is the system and the law and so I pay. I’m grateful that they don’t just hand me a bill on January first for the whole amount and tell me I have 30 days to pay in full or start accruing penalties. Giving us an option to pay in installments is a benefit to me that I value and don’t consider it as a way to get out of my obligation to pay my taxes. Acts like these don’t serve to help the cause of NJ at all and only serve to set us back even further. Not too long ago everyone was griping about not being able to get an iPhone because the company either wouldn’t lease to foreigners or wanted them to pay the full load (at that time at least a quite dear sum) in cash prior to receiving service. Is it any wonder and how can we defend our position if we applaud someone using leaving by their choice as an excuse for not paying what is owed? When we have posters bragging about getting away with it, can I blame rental companies for not wanting to least apartments to us without a hefty deposit or at all or let us contract on our own for other services. If we want to be treated and trusted then we have to show that we deserve the trust not with just our words but also with our deeds.

    Sorry, this is off-topic to juminhyo for dogs but this is where the original post is.

    RE: Dog Juminhyo
    In relation to the dog residency issue, we went into this back in the summer of 2009 some time ago when it first made the headlines. I know it is not happening fast enough for some but the result I remember from reading the GOJ postings is that the changes have been passed and are mandated to be acted upon within three years of that date — I forget what it was but it still leaves a year or so for it to take effect. Foreigners will — assuming there are no untoward changes or snafus — get their own rights in relation to the juminhyo. I’m not sure that agitating a whole lot on the subject is really warranted at this time. When the deadline passes, if the mandated changes are still not made then would be a good time to start nipping at their heels.

    — I don’t quite follow the upper portion. If you are no longer resident in a country (i.e., you’ve moved out permanently), why should you have to pay residency taxes to that country? Japan has no policy of taxing its citizens abroad. Why should it tax non-citizens abroad — furthermore why tax anyone, citizen or non-citizen — who is not maintaining Japan as his or her tax home? The comparison with a vacation is inapt.

    In any case, I think you’re overreacting; I don’t hear anyone “applauding” here. Just somebody pointing out the oddity of following an alleged law that tries to tax you on residency (without registering you as a resident) even if you do not live here (it’s not like DR is skipping out on a usage-unpaid phone or utility bill, so this comparison is also inapt).

    And by throwing in the kitchen sink by saying it’s tarring all NJ with the same brush, you’re buying into patterns of discriminatory attitudes that we avoid here at (A fundamental tenet here is that the actions of one are unconnected to an entire group that happen to share the same characteristics of that actor. For example, enough people have claimed that my activism tars all NJ with the same brush too, but that’s purebred nonsense.)

    As for the lower portion, read what I said about legal “vaporware”. It ain’t enacted until it is, and we can agitate all we like until it is. You’re not reading and commenting very carefully. Take a deep breath and count ten when you comment in future.

  • Now, this one does seem like spite or a veiled insult to NJ residing in Itabashi-ku. And elsewhere.

    — Well, at least they didn’t say that they would offer juuminhyou to NJ as part of a rabies check. Given the rabid commentary I see online, sometimes I wonder…

  • @ Frodis,

    Prior to my departure I had made concerted efforts to formally protest (a) being fingerprinted simply for being NJ, when Japanese are only fingerprinted when being charged with a crime. And (b) in protest at being marked as a “Remark” on my wife’s koseki and not as a human being, by clearly stating my intentions to municipal tax collectors that I would pay late and in coins if I paid at all, or would refuse to pay if they didn’t take me seriously. They didn’t, so I followed through on my promise to withhold taxes. It was a clearly enunciated protest, hand delivered to the Mayor in person in writing. This is not the act of some devil-may-care scofflaw. It is because I found the laws unjust that I refused to comply, and told them to their faces that I wouldn’t. It is my moral and legal right, and I feel it is my duty, to act in this peaceful, non-violent yet yet clearly resistant manner. I will not comply, pure and simple. The same way as I refused to provide the drone at the airports with a viable fingerprint sample. It is unjust, and I will not comply. It’s called having a spine, self-respect and the courage of one’s convictions. I walked the walk, as they say, and eventually realized that living in this kind of regime became something I could no longer countenance. I voted with my feet. Permanently. Yes there was a cost, but no I don’t regret it one little bit. As a non-national living in another ‘foreign’ country I realize that in Japan things could be SO much different and way better for the international residents there, all but for the lack of a little mental flexibility, openness, compassion and a will to visualize something bigger and better than the “Us vs. Everyone Else” mentality that prevails in the halls of power in Japan. To reiterate the quote above, “This is a “recrudescence of Japanese chauvinism and isolation.” You support the current regime and its modus-operandi? Be very sure you know what you’re supporting!

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    Frodis, I think you’re mistaken when you say that DR skipped out on “back taxes”. Evading taxes that you already owe would indeed be reprehensible, but in his case the government was trying to charge him for future residence taxes, for a period in which he wouldn’t in fact be a resident (and would presumably be paying similar taxes in his new home, meaning double residence taxation).

    This is very different from “back taxes”, which are already owed because the income has already been earned and the residence period already completed.

    — That’s what I mean about taking deep breaths and learning some reading comprehension.

  • Mark Hunter says:

    I’m confused. DR was asked to pay residents taxes for the remainder of the year. Is this because he may have been like many others and not charged those taxes for the first year of his employment (deferred) and therfore owed that first year’s taxes? I don’t get it because if he indeed didn’t owe any back taxes, then the office he was dealing with was nuts. I will have to pay a year’s worth of citizen’s taxes if / when I leave my current position because I was not expected to pay them in the first year of my employment. DR, can you explain in a bit more detail exactly what taxes, for what period you were asked to pay. Thanks.

  • Re: Residence taxes

    The taxes you pay during 2010, for example, usually due in 4 installments on June 30, August 31, November 1, and February 1 (of 2011) are based on your income, and residency, during 2009. So DR did actually skip out on back taxes, even if he didn’t realize that or intend to.

    Your residence on January 1, 2010 is the locale to which you have to pay the taxes.

    Also, if you work for only one employer, you can often opt to have the tax taken out in 12 equal monthly installments.

    Re: Dog Juminhyo

    I think that we NJ may have a shot at if we argue that, like dogs, we are a different species than the Japanese, and like dogs, carry many dangerous diseases 😉
    Too many bureaucrats already seem to feel that.

  • Hiyodori is correct on the residence taxes issue.

    If your local taxes are not being removed from your monthly pay then you will be billed for the previous year after the close of the fiscal year in March. So if the City Hall is asking for payment it is based on your earnings that remain untaxed at that point in time. There is no forward tax for residence but it is calculated on a yearly basis, just like national taxes, so it may seem that you are being billed for a period of non-residence.

    This is simply a case of DR not understanding the taxation system and the bureaucrat at city hall not explaining it correctly.

  • Thanks to all attempting to elucidate, however incorrectly. I was self employed, owning two companies. (I declared and paid income taxes and residency taxes from the day I arrived, too.) I dissolved both my enterprises, and took my business overseas. I owed nobody nothing by way of income tax, phone bills, gas bills or Shell Petroleum, for my vehicles In fact, if I file retroactively today, they still owe me money, to the tune of about JPY120,000. A la Gandhi on the salt tax issue, and on being relegated to the other side of the street; and a la Rosa Parks being sent to the back of the bus, I found their whole demeanor and laws unjust. I protested, with my significant cash investment and my feet. It was not a matter of some drone behind a desk passing me bad info, or my misunderstanding anything. I understand all too well. Those who defend the indefensible simply do not. The whole system is a form of discriminatory slavery, and it’s getting worse by the day. You should, I suggest, ask yourself, are you enabling this? I know. I am not. And you?

  • Mark Hunter says:

    Still off topic a bit (forgive us Debito), but it seems DR was indeed the victim of a major blunder by the authorities when they asked him to pay taxes he had already paid. Perhaps him paying residency taxes from the beginning of his work is something the self-employed do, as opposed to us salary types who are given a year’s grace after which we pay the first year’s residency taxes when we leave the position or retire. Back to the dog issue.

  • @ Mark Hunter,

    Well said; back to the topic, juuminhyous for dogs. The encapsulation of my points to date can be summed up as: “The system is loaded in favor of dogs of one stripe, and not in favor of humans of a different stripe.”

    I happened across this quote today, which, although not specifically talking to the point at hand, seemed most apropos:

    “On the day when you again allow abominable men to confiscate your freedom, your money, your lives, your private property, your manhood and your sacred honor, in the name of “security’ or “national emergency’ you will die, and never again shall you be free. If plotters again destroy your Republic, they will do it by your greedy and ignorant assent, by your disregard of your neighbors’ rights, by your apathy and your stupidity. We were brought to the brink of universal death and darkness because we had become that most contemptible of people — an angerless one. Keep alive and vivid all your righteous anger against traitors, against those who would abrogate your Constitution, against those who would lead you to wars with false slogans and cunning appeals to your patriotism.”-Taylor Caldwell, “The Devil’s Advocate” (1952) pgs. 332-338

  • Gilesdesign says:

    I just got a late reply from itabashi city office following an email I sent ages ago asking if even foreign breeds of dogs are accepted for their residency certificates. it seems foreign dog breeds ARE accepted but foreign people breeds will just have to wait their turn.

    ジャイルズ ミッチェル 様





    –[質問の引用/2010/04/08 18:50:47]–



  • Hi Debito:

    Here’s another Juuminhyou boner: Gonkichi-kun. Have a look here:

    「ごんぎつね」に住民票 半田市

    What’s really eating me is why the mayor would bestow 特別住民票 instead of run-of-the-mill 住民票. Any fictitious character legal experts out there care to comment?






    (2011年10月3日 読売新聞)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>