"My Number" Becomes Law In Japan

Today, rather suddenly, Japan's government enacted a law that will give everyone living in Japan an ID number, and that means a lot of changes for our tax system here, as well as the social security/health insurance coverage/plus alpha*

It also means Japan joins the ranks of nations where the government and its agencies can get much more data on its citizens. This includes the right to access our bank account information. Employers will be a big part of this system, as people working for firms will get their "My Number" through the company they work for.

There is no opt-out, like in the US system (from 1936), or the Swedish system (from (1947) - back in that northern European bastion of civil rights (right...) you can get a temporary ID number if you need it, say for a sensitive medical examination or if you have other special reasons. Something for Japan to consider, as I point out in my September essay for the Japanese magazine we publish over at Consumers Union of Japan (E).

Subscribe to Consumers Report thru this page (J)

The Mainichi/Kyodo goes further in wondering if this really will be possible to implement, without a lot of pain, for example due to data leaks, and for all the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions here, who do not have a permanent address:

Japan enacts law to allow gov't access to personal bank data

(...) Following massive personal data leaks from the Japan Pension Service following cyberattacks in May, deliberation of the bill was stopped for three months after it cleared the House of Representatives and only resumed last week. The legislation was modified to delay linking the ID numbers with people's pension data until November 2017 at the latest.
The government also aims to use the ID numbers to identify victims of disasters and smoothly deliver assistance funds.
With the numbering scheme set to launch in January, concerns are growing over slow preparations by municipalities as well as small and medium-sized companies to update data systems and boost security.
Companies will be required to manage all of their employees' ID numbers and include them in tax-related documents.
A government survey also showed that of the 55 million households across Japan scheduled to receive the ID numbers by mail, at least 2.75 million, or 5 percent, may not be able to get them as they reside away from their registered addresses. Those people include senior citizens in hospitals and nursing homes.


Pandabonium said…
From my high school days (in the 1960s - guess you know how old I am! - I've liked this poem by W H Auden: "The Unknown Citizen"

(To JS/07 M 378
This Marble Monument
Is Erected by the State)

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

Ouch. ;)

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