lifestyle

Proposed resident registry card for foreigners creates Big Brother concerns

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By Andy Sharp

All foreigners in Japan know him. The 62-year-old isn’t particularly loved — he’s a bit of a square — but we’ve all had to live with him and even take him out with us every day. Like many of his generation, he could keep on working, but he’s recently learned that he may have to settle for his pipe and slippers sooner rather than later.

The Baby Boomer in question is the Certificate of Alien Registration, or gaijin card, a form of ID that non-Japanese residents have been required to carry since the enactment of the Alien Registration Order in May 1947.

It may come as a surprise to learn that, if the government gets its way, the card will be consigned to the bureaucratic scrapheap. The Diet is currently debating bills to replace "gaikokujin torokusho" with a new residency ("zairyu") card, which would shift administration of alien registration from municipal offices to the Immigration Bureau.

So what are the government’s plans? And, more importantly, what are the implications for foreigners?

If enacted, the bills submitted by the Cabinet in March would revise three laws — the Basic Resident Registration Law, the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, and the Special Law on Immigration Control — with the government looking to pass them before the end of the current ordinary Diet session on June 3. Once passed, the revisions would become effective in less than three years.

According to the immigration bureau, the government’s main aims are to simplify the administration of foreigners by having the bureau handle nearly all paperwork related to immigration and residency; reduce the burden on foreigners living legally in Japan by extending visa periods and relaxing re-entry rules; ensure all legal aliens join social insurance and state pension schemes; track the movement of foreigners more closely; and clampdown on illegal aliens such as visa overstayers by denying them the right to carry the new card.

However, opposition parties, legal organizations and migrant activists have slammed the revisions. They claim the changes could impose excessive fines for failure to carry the card, make notification of status changes less convenient, and lead to undue dissemination of personal information and excessive monitoring of foreigners.

One aspect of the revisions few would bemoan is the extension of the three-year visa to five years, and the removal of the need to obtain a re-entry permit for residents who leave the country for less than a year. The revisions would also give foreigners some parity with locals by placing them on the same Basic Residents’ Registration Network, or Jumin Kihon Daicho Netowaku, a system the government created to enable easy exchange of information between municipal offices. There is, however, one significant difference.

The Juki-net cards distributed to Japanese do not have numbers printed on them, and the law strictly protects information on the IC chip imbedded in the cards. But as the revisions stand, numbers would be printed on foreigners’ cards, and a greater amount of data could be kept on the chip. While this would ostensibly enable smoother administration, critics have conjured up an image of a regulatory Big Brother tracking foreigners more rigorously than their Japanese neighbors.

Immigration bureau documents state that, in addition to a photograph, the following information would be printed on the cards: name; date of birth; sex; nationality; address; visa status, type and expiry date; card number, issue; date; expiration date; working restrictions; and other necessary information stipulated in justice ministry ordinances. But with the documentation also stating that some or all of this data may be recorded on the chips, opponents fear what may be held in this “other information.”

Masashi Ichikawa, an attorney involved with the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, is concerned about unwarranted access to such personal details.

“The card could be used as identification at places such as banks and libraries, where the chip could be read and the card number recorded,” he says. “I fear that people reading the card would be able to tell how much money is in a person’s account or what books they are borrowing. Authorities such as the police and immigration would be able make inquiries to banks and other places to ask for information on a person’s number.”

Ichikawa also sees disparities between the treatment of foreigners and Japanese. “The law on resident registration for Japanese permits only the card number to be recorded on the IC chip — not the card — and does not make available information from private establishments such as banks. We want foreigners to be protected in the same way as Japanese.”

An Orwellian nightmare?

However, Kazuyuki Motohari of the immigration bureau’s general affairs division says that the IC chip has only been put on the cards to make it easier to share information between government ministries, agencies and local authorities. He also fends off fears of an Orwellian nightmare.

“Only the minimum amount of information would be put on the cards,” he says. “We’ll only perform data matching when absolutely necessary, such as to check whether a person works where they say they do — no more. The IC chip has not been put in for other people to read.”

Opponents point out that the revisions contradict the government’s objective of keeping closer tabs on foreigners. Under the current system, undocumented residents, overstayers and asylum seekers can obtain a gaijin card and access to basic education and health services. But the changes would prevent the issue of zairyu cards to such people — effectively rendering these individuals invisible.

It would still be a crime, however, for foreigners to not always carry the new card. The current law, which the immigration bureau says would not change in the revisions, specifies that aliens must present certification (i.e. the gaijin card) to officials such as immigration inspectors and officers, police officers and maritime safety officers, but mentions nothing about having to show the card as identification to private organizations such as cell phone companies and banks.

The maximum fine for failing to carry the new card would remain at 200,000 yen. Yet the immigration bureau’s Motohari says he cannot recall a case in which a fine has been levied on a legal card-carrying alien who pops out of his house for a short time without it. Even so, opponents are hammering the government to drop this obligation.

“Making all foreigners carry cards is excessive regulation,” Ichikawa says. “There are bad foreigners and also bad Japanese. We don’t think it’s necessary to oblige foreigners, especially permanent residents, to show their card on request. Even the United Nations says it’s wrong to make people with permanent residency in a country carry such a card.”

Azuma Konno, an upper house Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker, says: “The DPJ is considering amending the revisions so people are cautioned rather than fined for failing to carry the cards.”

Notifying authorities of changes in status, such as when you start a new job or get married, is currently relatively straightforward — you just head down to your local municipal office and do the necessary paperwork. The proposed changes, though, could make things more troublesome, as notifications would have to be made at your local immigration office. That means Tokyoites would have to squeeze onto the No. 99 bus at Shinagawa with the rest of humanity to the dreary office in Konan.

Failing or forgetting to notify authorities of a change in status could also come at a heavy price. It would still be possible to change your address at your municipal office, but you must report it within 14 days, and failure to do so within 90 days could mean annulment of your visa — and deportation. Foreigners on spouse visas would have to report to the immigration bureau within 14 days in cases of divorce, or the death of a spouse.

A contentious element is that a visa could be nullified if a person, in cases such as separation or living apart, is not engaged in “marital activities” for three months or more (something many Japanese couples do when one partner is “asked” by his or her company to relocate). The 14-day notification period and 90-day potential cancellation would also apply when foreigners on common visas switch jobs.

The immigration bureau stresses it has considered the plight of foreigners and would take personal circumstances into account when making decisions on visa annulment. “We are considering other more convenient ways to make notifications, such as online or by mail,” Motohari says. “We hope to lessen the burden on foreigners as much as possible.”

The bureau says it has held meetings to gather views from both Japanese and aliens. It also claims it has not widely publicized the content of the revisions because it wants to focus its efforts on getting them passed into law before it provides information to the foreign community.

Opponents, however, insist the government hasn’t really listened to non-Japanese viewpoints and that the insubstantial press coverage has meant few foreigners are aware of the government’s plans, denying them the opportunity to protest.

But with groups such as the Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan organizing rallies and hearings in which opposition lawmakers, Korean groups and legal organizations put counterarguments to the government, the revisions could wind up significantly amended.

Moreover, should the government fall and a DPJ-led administration take office — a distinct possibility this year — before the bills are passed, one 60-something gent could find he has to put his retirement plans on hold for a while.

How will the new card affect you?

Pros

  • Typical length of visa stay changed from three years to five years
  • No need to obtain a re-entry permit when leaving the country for less than a year
  • Assurance that all legal foreigners will be placed on social insurance and state pension schemes
  • Administrative procedure simplified
  • Possibility to notify authorities of certain changes of status by email or post

Cons

  • Notification of most changes of status must be made at Immigration Bureau rather than at local municipal offices
  • IC chip on the new card raises privacy concerns
  • Asylum seekers and visa overstayers won’t be eligible to receive the cards, resulting in possible loss of basic health and education services
  • Possibility of visa annulment if status notifications are not made within a 90-day period

This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

120 Comments
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Why not tattoo our foreheads and be done with it.

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The only thing that concerns me here is the trip Shinagawa every time it needs updating.

Usually when I have to update my gaijin card I am making other updates in the ward office so I would have to make double trips. Why can't they have a bureau in the ward office for processing this - oh wait they do! Well now they do.

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The Gestapo is alive and well and operating in japan. 

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Why not tattoo our foreheads and be done with it.

This is japan, where tattoos are frowned upon. The next step (there always is a next step) will be a chip inserted under the skin but somewhere unobtrusive as, like in the article above, they will, “ hope to lessen the burden on foreigners as much as possible.”

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excessive monitoring of foreigners

Too late.

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Anybody remember that BOOK we used to have to carry around? That was a pain in the ...

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"Assurance that all legal foreigners will be placed on social insurance and state pension schemes"

Shouldn't that be listed under "cons".

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I think the pros outweigh the cons. But then, I'm not an asylum-seeker or a visa over-stayer.

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This is typically Japanese....offering carrots in one hand while holding a knife behind their backs. It is yet another example of the blatant racism and xenophobis that exists in this country.

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Should also add to the cons list

a visa could be nullified if a person is not engaged in “marital activities” for three months or more.
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I'm tired of being a visual minority. Some people thrive on it, but at the end of the day, it isn't the sort of positive attention that the revelers think they are getting. I'm packing up my 5 year stay in 1 year, nearly to the day.

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This is typically Japanese....offering carrots in one hand while holding a knife behind their backs. It is yet another example of the blatant racism and xenophobis that exists in this country.

Don't take it too personally. Maybe, the whole idea of this is to restrict some foreigners from some countries. And as they cannot openly say this, nationals from all foreign countries have to suffer. At this time and age when terrorism and other problems exist i think it is good to have a tab on everyon who is not from Japan.

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What really bothers me is that the government instead of making foreigners blend with the J society with less separatist measures, it makes the gap wider law after law. My guess is that fewer and fewer foreigners will want to live in Japan. +1 here returning to US after this spring :)

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I think they ought to issue us armbands. The law, by and large, does not apply to foreigners in Japan.

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The bureau says it has held meetings to gather views from both Japanese and aliens. It also claims it has not widely publicized the content of the revisions because it wants to focus its efforts on getting them passed into law before it provides information to the foreign community

The implication being that if the details of the revisions were publicized there would be an uproar that might prevent passage.

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I would have no problem if this blatant invasion of privacy was extended to all people, not just foreigners. Actually I do have a problem with all this information freely available. But Japanese people are taught from an early age just follow instructions with out questioning...

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Don't take it too personally. Maybe, the whole idea of this is to restrict some foreigners from some countries. And as they cannot openly say this, nationals from all foreign countries have to suffer. At this time and age when terrorism and other problems exist i think it is good to have a tab on everyon who is not from Japan.

Yeap, because only people that are not Japanese are capable of terrorist acts /sarcasm Hasn't the only acts of terrorism on Japanese soil have been homegrown?

If this is the case "keeping tabs" kills any feeling for "us" to feel like Japan might actually be home. I personally am very tired of every law as some posters have mentioned making the line in the sand even more clearer between "us" and "them". Sometimes I feel as if we contribute - and "they" take away.

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womanforwomen

clearly YOU havent been paying attention to who has been terrorizing Japan, have you ever heard of Aum & those subway gassings or the one in Matsumoto. Or how about who shoots off those homemade canons near airports & bases or fire bombing politicians or newspapers whose opinion they dont agree with.

Since you probably dont know I will answer these for you. ALL OF THE ABOVE ACTS OF TERRORISM WERE DONE BY JAPANESE!

Hope you learned something today.

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" Asylum seekers and visa overstayers won’t be eligible to receive the cards, resulting in possible loss of basic health and education services "

Why is that is that listed as a "con"? Preventing abuse by illegal aliens is a basic duty of any government. You can see in Europe what happens when governments abandon that duty because of PC naivite.

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That's OK Japan Inc., keep on going with this ass-backward way of treating the people that may actually keep Japan Inc. going in the future. Afterall, Japanese sure as hell aren't doing their part to make sure that there will be someone left to run Japan Inc. (having babies in case you didn't figure that out). So let Japan Inc. keep pissing away any chance to have foreigners want to live in a place where they are pretty much look down upon even though we know some Japanese clearly wish they were them (odd, ne?). Well when the crap hits the fan, I surely don't want to be around and if that happens during the summer, that will not be a pleasant way to make your exit.

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BTW, all these stupid new laws only make me hate that part of Japanese culture even more which I think is truly sad. I visited Japan some 50+ times before I moved here. Funny how I never saw that disgusting part of Japan until I moved to Japan.

Everyday, I now just feel more and more that as a foreigner I am not really welcome and only just another concern for something going wrong to be blamed for.

It's almost as if I was 21 again and was driving around in my heavily modded out car back home which would always seem to be a heat-score even though it was 100% street legal except for now the ONLY reason I get stopped is because I'm NOT Japanese and I guess that means I don't look legal.

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ensure all legal aliens join social insurance and state pension schemes; track the movement of foreigners more closely

They want to cash in on the foreigners, technically you can live and work in Japan without paying insurance and state pension schemes. The second line, why the hell do they need to track foreigners more closely, that is not a good thing.

Foreigners have no rights in Japan, we can't vote and are a super minority group, even the UN has stated Japan is extremely xenophobic against all minorities include Ainu (the original aboriginal natives of Japan). There is nothing that Japan has none to help foreigners just help the government in controlling foreigners or taxing them.... Actually scrap that they did give foreigners the 12,000yen bonus money.

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Knowbetter. Why would you have ever thought you were welcome in Japan? Surely you knew before you came that this country has no immigration ministry, immigration policy or even laws protecting human rights of foreigners. I can't believe you didn't know. To complain about Japan after coming here seems a bit pointless. Japan's views of foreigners are well-known and well documented. We are not welcomed, tolerated, but not welcome. I mean, really.

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Seems like a plan to redirect our tax money just like with the fingerprinting machines. Now they want to put chips in the alien card, so they start talking about changing everything.

And you got to love all these great new conviences. As if your gaijin card is going to start making julianne fries.

I don't like this chip in the ID business. I can't tell what it says on it. It costs to darn much for no benefit to me whatsoever. And my understanding is that it CAN be read from a distance, like that between you and the door jamb you are passing through, so it will make a great tracking device.

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Foreigners have no rights in Japan, we can't vote

Foreigners don't get to vote in many countries, what about yours?

But as the revisions stand, numbers would be printed on foreigners’ cards, and a greater amount of data could be kept on the chip.

I would assume because we don't have koseki. A great deal of private information is kept on the Japanese in the koseki.

One aspect of the revisions few would bemoan is the extension of the three-year visa to five years, and the removal of the need to obtain a re-entry permit for residents who leave the country for less than a year.

Great! One less pain in the hynie when I want to travel.

opponents fear what may be held in this “other information.”

“The card could be used as identification at places such as banks and libraries, where the chip could be read and the card number recorded,”

“I fear that people reading the card would be able to tell how much money is in a person’s account

This is speculation. There is no reason for a bank to give out account information, they don't do it now, why should they just because a new card is issued? That seems like scare-mongering.

Green cards--

"The card must be in the possession of the U.S. permanent resident at all times. This means that the permanent resident must have a currently valid card on the person at all times and be able to show it to a USCIS officer, if requested. Though aliens with permanent resident status are required to carry these identification cards, American citizens are not required to carry any citizenship identification. "

It would be great if people took a minute to see what other countries' policies are before bashing Japan's policies so readily. I've actually talked to Swiss who were railing about kids (with two foreign parents) born in Japan not automatically getting citizenship, when Switzerland doesn't allow it either. I guess people don't know about these things unless it affects them.

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Oh yes, like it's going to go that far.

You recommend that we abandon our families?

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Thanks for pointing out, GW, that no terrorist attacks have ever been committed in Japan by foreigners, just groups like Aum. On the other hand, radical Japanese groups like the Red Army have committed many acts of terrorism in many countries.

Furthermore, the foreign crime rate is significantly lower than the Japanese crime rate, especially for serious crime such as murder and rape.

Therefore, any move like this is for xenophobic reasons.

Having said that, I'm not going to move any earlier. I am just a little pissed off though.

Most countries try to get foreign populations to assimilate. This just doesn't happen in Japan and the reason is racism.

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a visa could be nullified if a person is not engaged in “marital activities” for three months or more.

ha! will this be an indigenous definition of "marital activities"? in which case would talking to your spouse be considered grounds for visa nullification?

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Most countries try to get foreign populations to assimilate. This just doesn't happen in Japan and the reason is racism.

doing this would require a concept that foreigners permanently emigrate to japan, of course intending to stay permanently. it still seems to me that japan has the meiji-era notion that foreigners come on a short-term basis to be made use of and then swiftly returned from whence they came

i suppose that in order to do this step one would be the creation of an immigration beareau

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It also claims it has not widely publicized the content of the revisions because it wants to focus its efforts on getting them passed into law before it provides information to the foreign community.

ZOMG! they actually SAID this?!

dear mr smith, i'm sorry we didn't publish any plans for the 8 lane highway we just built outside your house, but we wanted to finish it first... before you had any chance to object

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ZOMG! they actually SAID this?!

Wow, I missed that part! Holy moly... So much for Due Process in Japan! But yeah, while that may be obvious, they really have the gall to actually tell that to the reporters.

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combinibento:

Wow, I missed that part! Holy moly... So much for Due Process in Japan! But yeah, while that may be obvious, they really have the gall to actually tell that to the reporters.

don´t be so naive combini. The reporters were all Japanese, foreign reporters are now allowed because they are not member of a japanese press association, and can´t become members either.

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Himajin, while US PRs are indeed expected to carry the green cards, keep in mind that regular non-nationals on ordinary study or work visas don't have to carry anything, and also that the circumstances in which an immigration officer can demand to see the green card are extremely limited. It's nothing like Japan and the National Police Agency. You don't see Immigration and Naturalization Service "boxes" on every street corner, with officials pulling non-white people aside and demanding papers!

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Very true, Thon, I was thinking from my own perspective of a PR holder, too narrow a view! It's been about 12 years since I had a visa. You're right!

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Agree with the first poster - tattoo a bar-code on my forehead and my a$$, and then shoot a microchip in the back of my head, where you store my entire family tree. Then claim you are a very modern country - who just managed to get out of the 18th century. For all that matters, I am a permanent resident paying a higher tax than what 75% of the Japanese employees pay.

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Lucky you, Himajin; I got turned down for PR here! (Probably for the effrontery of applying for it after 9 1/2 years and not the full 10).

I'm not too worried about the police or immigration officers prying into people's bank information -- you can always stash your money in the post office -- but I do worry about criminals skimming data from the IC chips from a distance. This could be avoided if the cards could be stored at home rather than in the holder's pocket.

Having to carry papers around is, I think, the most unfair imposition. No human being can remember to carry a physical object 100% of the time -- check out the huge warehouses full of lost articles such as wallets, cell phones, billfolds, and what-have-you at the JR stations!

But until now, even if we've forgotten our card at home or in the office, or misplaced it, we haven't had to really panic, since we're only in trouble if a rare instance of forgetting the card happens to coincide with a rare instance of a police officer demanding to see it. With the IC chip, I can easily imagine IC readers in police boxes, which means that the officer in the box might step out and question anyone with a foreign-looking face if the machine doesn't beep when s/he passes by.

And the fact that this law can't be followed 100% of the time will cause people to lose respect for law in general. How can you respect a law that no one can avoid going afoul of once in a blue moon? One of the principles of law should be that it should be possible to always obey it, and that it shouldn't be possible to break the law against one's will, as would happen if your alien card were stolen from you (unknowingly, say) and you were no longer carrying it.

And this argument doesn't even touch on the fact that the alien cards contain an enormous amount of private information, in plain text -- more than enough for an identity thief to cause a lot of trouble. In most of the world, people are advised to keep documents as important as these somewhere secure, like in a locked safe. Japan makes people carry them in the open, thinking only of the police's convenience and not at all of the dangers to the holder.

If the alien cards were only required when entering the country, I wouldn't have a problem with them. When renewing your visa, sure. Maybe when signing real estate contracts. But at all other times, if alien cards have to exist at all, they should be kept in a secure location where they can't be lost or stolen.

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Lucky you, Himajin; I got turned down for PR here!

I got it when I was here 15 years, it's 14 since I've had a visa now that I think about it, time flies! I remember being told when I was here 3 years that it would take 20 to get PR. I'm sure you can apply again.I got mine quickly as I had to co-sign loans for my husband to rebuild his business after the Kobe quake. He wanted to apply to the Phoenix Plan, low-interest loans from Kobe-shi or the prefecture (I forget which). A lot of foreign spouses were in the same boat, they processed them fairly quickly.

I have my card in the same case, opposite pocket, as my driver's license. That way I've never had to worry about losing it, as I always have my license. Is the info more hazardous than that on a license? In addition to the name birthdate and address, it has the date you entered the country and your status. It would seem a license was equally as likely to be stolen for ID theft purposes. I really doubt that bank account info would be included on the chip despite them being an official ID, it just doesn't make sense...in that case, is it that much different from a saifu keitai in terms of likelihood for abuse? It seems like one more way to be vulnerable to thieves, but not more so than a few others.

How can you respect a law that no one can avoid going afoul of once in a blue moon?

That could easily be said of traffic laws, few people go through life without at least one ticket. :-) I want to wait and see what info they intend to put on the chip before I make up my mind one way or another.

but I do worry about criminals skimming data from the IC chips from a distance

That is a creepy thought....there have been enough instances of people reading conbini ATM transactions from the parking lot with a laptop!!

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Obviously some foreigners here don't mind any changes and will willingly submit to anything, so good luck to them. Myself I can't wait until I get my japanese passport and can forget about all this nonsense.

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Do away with the show card on demand rule and only allow officials to check ID's if someone is suspect in a crime.

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Thanks for pointing out, GW, that no terrorist attacks have ever been committed in Japan by foreigners,

On June 23, 1985, two baggage handlers at Narita were killed when a bomb in an Air India luggage container exploded. It had been planted in Vancouver by Sikh terrorists and had been meant to explode mid-air on the Air Indai flight. So not an act of terror aimed at Japan, but also not true that "no terrorist acts have never been committed in Japan by foreigners."

And a moot point, since no one should really be linking terrorism to these ID cards, whether it's the J gov (have they?) or the usual JT brain trust.

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To get the full pension (whatever that will mean) you have to pay in for 20 years straight, as does your company. That means foreigners on contract jobs or anyone over 40 is absolutely screwed by this.

Unless you're blessed with Canadian Citizenship, in which case residents of either country can combine their benefits paid when living abroad to their home country's systems - see "Agreement on Social Security between Canada and Japan".

Hardly a case of denying basic human rights or "expecting all foreigners to pay a higher tax burden." Rather it's just that some governments have got their act together and signed reciprocal agreements with Japan.

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"Japan has never welcomed foreigners"

That must be why there are so many foreigners here.

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The foreigner in japan has 2 stark choices. Naturalize or leave after the starry eyed honeymoon period is over.

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Patrick, actually it's 25 years.

just thought i'd spread the sunshine.

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I have my card in the same case, opposite pocket, as my driver's license. That way I've never had to worry about losing it, as I always have my license. Is the info more hazardous than that on a license?

I would say that it is, slightly. By stealing the physical license, you could go sign contracts in the person's name (or sell the license to someone who looks more like them); with the alien card, you can do the same, and even apply for your own driver's license. (Should we foreigners be thankful that it's so hard to get credit or a loan? Maybe that's what's preventing pickpockets and yakuza from committing more fraud with stolen alien cards.)

And with only the skimmed info (or a photocopy), because the alien card contains so much information, a criminal could do a lot with it. It has the holder's home and work addresses right there; you could call the person's job and speak to them on some pretext while breaking into their home, with little fear of being caught! You have the person's home country and place of birth; just what you need to pose as an old friend from back home when you're trying to get the victim's boss to put the victim on the phone.

That's a little far-fetched, but remember, there are over a million of these cards, and you can often guess who has one just by looking at people's faces and listening to them talk. There are going to be crimes that could have been prevented had foreigners not had to carry these things.

But the police don't care about that, because they're more interested in controlling foreigners than in keeping them safe from crime.

Do away with the show card on demand rule and only allow officials to check ID's if someone is suspect in a crime.

Sharky1, this is already the case (see the Police Execution of Duties Law). The problem is that the police can just make up excuses not to follow their own laws, and find any flimsy reason why someone is "suspected" of something (bicycle theft, for one). I'd like to see cameras mounted inside all police officers' badges, with the contents streamed live to a publicly-available site. That would cut down on the police harassment a lot.

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Why would any foreigner expect to be welcomed? I've never understood that.

because some of us like to imagine that we might be able to rise above hundreds of thousands of years of irrational tribal thinking. just because fear of the other is common doesn't mean we should be proud of it

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I've often wondered if those foreign residents here who look like "ethnic Japanese" (whatever that is) ie "ethnic" Chinese and Koreans - ever get stopped and asked to produce the alien card on demand like whitey and blacky? Also, do Japanese of mixed ancestry ever get stopped and hassled with the standard "Show me your papers" from the Japanese Keystones? Any experiences out there? I've only been stopped a few times, the last time I was on my way to the gym and refused to go back to my house and get my card. The keystone cop could see I was in a bad mood so he let me go...he looked too interested to go and grab some jelly doughnuts at Misu-do!

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For all of you worried about "big brother" tracking your every move just remember that if you have a Suica, PASMO, ICOCA, PiTaPa, etc. you are already being tracked.

Now if you are really worried about the 'chip' in the new to be cards then just chuck it in the microwave and give it about 10 seconds. That should 'nuke' the chip. Not sure what kind of hell you'll catch when they actually try to read the card right in front of you but then "these things happen" you can claim. :)

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BurakuminDes just wait until you get stop but what looks like an Akiba chubby Otaku who quickly whips out his ID and then asks you for yours. "YEAH RIGHT 2CH FATTY" is what I first thought and asked to see his ID again which I looked at really closely and in doing so caused the rest of his posse to come out of the woodwork. Now this dude did not have manners nor did he understand that I would be late for work if I made a return trip to my place to get my card. I had switched wallets from the night before and had forgot to transfer that card. Anyway, he had two keystones on bicycles follow me all the way back home just to show them my card which I did and then they where all cool and thanked me. Well, I couldn't get them to write me a note as to why I was late because they claimed it was my fault I didn't have my card on me. Yeah Japan is a pleasant place to live EXCEPT for the NAZI moments.

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KnowBetter - But wasn't it your fault your card was not on your person? And please refrain from the rhetoric. If they truly were going to give you a "NAZI moment", then you would have been processed for the violation and made to pay the fine without any chance to first prove you had a card. Seems to me they let common sense prevail and allowed you to go back and get your proof. If he hadn't had the two officers follow you home, I'm sure you would be berating them for being too trusting. I actually feel sorry for them!

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I think it is a good plan. I hope they ammend the "change of status" and the fines for failing to carry it (if they do not enforce it, why dont they erase it?)

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What is the fuzz about? I wonder if any of you have been a foreigner in your own countries. Do you know how the US, UK and other European countries track foreigners or what the requierements are for a visa extension? To much crying for something that applies in many countries. Any country in the world, like or not, has the right to know who enters, what that person is doing, and when that person is leaving. I am not Japanese, but because of my work I have lived in USA, Europe, and a country in South America, all of them have rules and their own system to control. To much crying for something that the Japanese government is entitled to do.

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All foreigners in Japan know him. The 62-year-old isn’t particularly loved — he’s a bit of a square — but we’ve all had to live with him and even take him out with us every day. Like many of his generation, he could keep on working, but he’s recently learned that he may have to settle for his pipe and slippers sooner rather than later.

Huh...? Silly me! I thought the story was going to be about an unloved 62 year old. Slap forehead, continue... Not carrying your card is your problem. Yeah, I know, I don't really like having to do it either but it is your responsibility and making any kind of a scene about being asked to flash one is just petulance. And Sarge, I'd really love to visit this dream world you live in. It sounds totally unfamiliar and so cool.

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often wondered if those foreign residents here who look like "ethnic Japanese" (whatever that is) ie "ethnic" Chinese and Koreans - ever get stopped and asked to produce the alien card on demand like whitey and blacky? Also, do Japanese of mixed ancestry ever get stopped and hassled with the standard "Show me your papers" from the Japanese Keystones? Any experiences out there?

This is what I wanted to say in a sarcastic manner. But many of you did not catch the point.

Gaijin card is nothing because like "knowbetter" says our information is already there with them. Databses are being sold and it is not a secret.

I come from a war-stricken third-world country where nationals are suspected for everything and penalised severely if you do not have your ID, even if you are in the diplomatic service. So I have experience being in interesting cities like Moscow, Tehran and a few more. So Tokyo is nothing. BTW, AUM owned properties in my country,hahaha! I really don't know who is fooling who here?

Anyway, as another poster pointed out J land will need help and no one will be around when the chip system is implemented.

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what are the implications for foreigners?

Having to waste another full day hanging out at immigration just to get a piece of plastic that takes two minutes. If the gov insists on doing this they must increase the amount of staff at immigration because at present, it is bloody ridiculous! Immigration has to be the most understaffed public office in Japan. It is pathetic!

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Patrick, sydenham - Surely you don't depend on your company or your government to take care of you when you retire? Have you not been saving/investing?

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Some of you may not know this, and I'm not going to read the comments to check, but there are far more sinister elements and simple monetary crap at work. Those foreigners who have chosen not to pay into the cancer that is the health system are going to have to pay from when this takes effect.... and guess what... you're going to have to pay all the back payments, too. So, you're simple English language fun for two years may well cost you $10,000 for NOTHING. It's not an investment, it's not pension, it's literally money into the coffers of a government that then pays hospitals to reject you later.

There are still some loopholes, so if you can, take advantage of them NOW! When I was a young buck and decided I might well stay in Japan they asked me to pay, and this NO joke, $50,000 in back payments to join a system I hadn't paid into because I wasn't sure if I was going to stay until that point. Now... imagine a young guy with no car, no money, and no place to live etc., flushing 60,000 yen down the toilet every month for YEARS to cover the influenza masks everyone is freaking out about here. Oh, and don't forget that while you are paying back payments you are still paying the payments monthly -- to the tune of $800/month in my case.

From this new legislature, foreigners have no choice... they can no longer present a foreign registration card.... they can only show a Bestowed By God National Health Insurance Document. They haven't paid the $50,000 I mentioned, they don't get a visa extension.

This is nothing more than a controlled money grab.

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Forgot to actually point out the loophole: When they wanted $50,000 US I said no way in hell it was going to happen... a friend in City Hall informed me that if I simply moved to a different jurisdiction I could start again from zero. I weighed the odds.... $5000 or so to move.... ten times that to NOT move and simply pay for what I would never receive.... hmmm.....

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smithinjapan: So you opted to take advantage of the health benefits while they were available, then stiffed the country for the bill? You had the choice of opting out from the get-go and this looks all to familiar with many foreigners here. Play the system both ways for as long as possible then when the piper has to be paid, tell them to shove it. 'Hmmmm' indeed. You sound like a carpetbagger to me....

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I think they should simply make a gaijin mobile phone incorporating all the details of the gaijin card and be done with it. Record all our phone calls and texting as well.

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Assurance that all legal foreigners will be placed on social insurance and state pension schemes

This one will drive many (foreign) companies crazy. I hope it passes.

I don't mind carrying my card on me. I just put it with my driver license in my wallet. Everyone carries a license, credit card, or some kind of ID, so carrying a foreign registration card isn't so bad, with one exception. I don't carry it while running. I would rather get asked to show my card by police than to have the thing fall out of my pocket while running in the pitch dark night.

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Sarge, Patrick was forced into paying shigaku Kyousai the private school teachers' pension plan from the start, but that's DEFINITELY not all I've done. I don't trust the gov't to have any money when I retire, so I'm paying a monthly private retirement scheme (foreign company) on the side, as well as having foreign investments and savings in Canada. My wife and I make enough to keep this up, and we should be fine even if the J gov goes bankrupt, but I feel bad for the foreigners who have little left after Kasumigaseki takes its cut. I'm always advising foreign friends to double up on the savings/retirement plan.

Patrick, like you, I have no confidence at all in the J gov't to keep any promises to foreigners. Regular Japanese are fine, but the Pols are the same as anywhere. From the way it looks, though, the changes shouldn't really affect how my financial planning is going.

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"I" is missing in the first line. Patrick wasn't forced to, I was.

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Smithinjapan is about as lost in the woods as they come. You never have had to pay back payments to the health insurance system. Don't confuse the national health care with the retirement pension fund. US and Japan have signed a reciprocation agreement concerning US social security and the Japanese pension fund. Do some homework before you start putting out bad info as usual.

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I am with the idea except that there are a couple of points that I feel the government needs to think through before implementing.

1) I would feel very uncomfortable about the government having the ability to keep track of my bank accounts. 2) They really need to rethink their Health insurance and State Pension policies. For foreigners 25 years is too long to pay into a pension before they become eligible for it. The Govt should take steps (regarding foreigners) to return the money they have paid into if they are forced to leave Japan for Legitimate reasons, or if the payee is in his 40's when he enters Japan and he is forced to pay into the system even when he doesn't have 25 years till he retires.

And I still cant understand why they make latecomers pay health insurance from the day you enter Japan even if you never fell sick and never visited a hospital. I wonder if they refund money if one has past hospital bills that fall into the period they want to charge from.

And also changing address does not help you get away with not paying into past infringements. Once in a while all municipalities do sync up their data and they do catch you, especially when they do not expect it. I happened to an acquaintnce of mine.

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unfortunately, a lot of the sensible suggestions on this thread would require the government to be flexible towards those that do not fit into pre-existing, tight and narrow conditions

ie. prepare to be disappointed

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the comments related to the national health insurance raised on this tread are particularly concerning. however, i'm out of here in a few months so glad this will not be affecting me. more things to add to the "thank god i'm outta here soon" list, to balance out having to say sayonara to all my buddies

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Well, cnc, there is no evidence so far that this will link to bank accounts, that was simply the speculation of a lawyer quoted in this story. I cannot see any justifiable reason to link it to one's bank account and futhermore why would that be readable by anyone, when you need a PIN anywhere else.

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Himajin..

I come from a third world country and especially one which is in the wrong kind of limelight nowdays, so ofcourse i would be worried if some of my personal information is open for scrutiny. Although personally I do not have anything to worry about, the idea just makes me uncomfortable. The easiest way out would be to apply for Japanese nationality, they seem to giving their passports out fairly easily these days.

Plus if one knows how to, it is considerably easy and practically cheap to put together a portable RIFD reader. (assuming that is the kind of chip they are going to put in the new Alien cards, The new driving licenses already have the chip, designed to hide the domicile of the bearer). All one has to do is just get on a train with a bunch of foreigners.......

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How can police know if a gaijin looking person is a gaijin or not and thus enforce fines? Its only ever comes down to one issue which is money, collect more taxes, more social security money and helth insurance to support the economy in a bad time. The only thing is it is dressed as something else. Seeing how they can loose money (recent social security problem in mind) I don't like the idea of entrusting money to any Govt.

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for those of you who worry about bank info, the authorities can get all that info by simply asking the banks & the banks WILL provide no questions asked & the banks WILL NOT inform the account holders they have done so.

I was audited by the zeimusho & when the guy came to my house in the opening small talk in a round about way in a couple minutes told me & my accountant they have ALL my info. In a way it was nice because if I was planning on lieing to them(which I wasnt) it wud have saved one from digging my own grave. When I asked my accounting guy why we did the first meeting at my house he said it was so they can eyeball yr assets to see if it matches yr declared income.

And it was interesting when I went a week later to deliver documents to the auditer at his office there was a group of 4-5 other foreigners in the waiting room, just anecdotal evidence but it appeared the zeimusho may have been targeting foreigners.

As for this new card as others have correctly pointed out its for 2 primary reasons, one to track us & two to maximize the amount of yen taken from us in various forms, taxes, health, pension etc.

The only benefit is looks like they might do away with rentry permits & those on work visas may be able to get 5 instead of 3yr visas.

I wud overall its definitely a loss for us foreigners, & these putzes want to get it an enacted without allowing for any discussion, criminal imo!!

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sharky1, when did they sign this agreement. I did a search, actually the USA as of last year had not made any agreements. That is why we can get the "early retirement" payment.

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Yosoko Japan. Perhaps the Government doesn't realize that the only reason people come here to live is money. Take the money away and the people will leave. (Perhaps that what they want.) With the foreigners leaving so will the tourism. Who would want to come to Japan without their friends being here. Do people actually come here. And... The people who are currently living in Japan are for the most part pro-Japanese. Why piss this group of people off in the world? Can't get along with the people who like you. I guess if they pass this, companies should look to Singapore, Hong Kong, Pusan, to do business. Japan will be too expensive. And I am surprised that companies aren't fighting this. Companies like Interac, Nova2, Eikaiwa's all will be forced to pay these premiums. Billions of yen on the table now. 200,000 yen a month English jobs for Public JHS/SHS will be gone. The government will need to pay 300,000 or 400,000 to make up the difference. i.e. who's going to work for 150,000 with a University Degree. Now western people. How stupid are people in the goverment.....

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As for this new card as others have correctly pointed out its for 2 primary reasons, one to track us & two to maximize the amount of yen taken from us in various forms, taxes, health, pension etc.

The only benefit is looks like they might do away with rentry permits & those on work visas may be able to get 5 instead of 3yr visas.

If you put it that way, it's 2 more years of milking us.

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Noborito (and others): obliging foreign workers to join the national health insurance and pension schemes will have no impact on the companies employing them. Companies only pay contributions to the SOCIAL insurance and pension schemes, and then only for contracted "full-time" employees, which most eikaiwa and dispatch teachers are not. Even if the English translation of your contract describes your position as "full-time", under labour law it technically isn't, because it isn't a permanent "sha-iin" position. Japanese people who don't have permanent contracts have to pay into the NATIONAL insurance schemes, and they pay the full amount. Contracted company employees, Japanese or otherwise, pay into the SOCIAL insurance schemes, and their employers pay half.

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sharky: "Smithinjapan is about as lost in the woods as they come. You never have had to pay back payments to the health insurance system"

Just because you're in denial does not make something so. I am not at all lying when I said that my ex city wanted me to pay $50,000 in back payments when I asked about rejoining the national health insurance scheme again. When I moved, I could do it for nothing. Those are not opinions, so don't get so uptight; those are facts. Pension is another thing they want back payments for, but not the only thing. If you don't believe me, simply go to the national health insurance page where they explain these points, including the loop-hole.

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sharky: Allow me to qualify that; if you paid into the system before, quit, and then wish you join again you definitely are asked for back payments. If you never paid in the first place you are not. The former is my case, so saying 'I am lost in the woods' is pretty foolish if you simply disagree with the facts.

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You never have had to pay back payments to the health insurance system.

Yes you do. I too have been in that situation. I was out of the system for a while when changing jobs. To get National Health Insurance I had to pay starting from the date I quit my job, six months prior.

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when did they sign this agreement. I did a search, actually the USA as of last year had not made any agreements.

Agreement and administrative arrangement both signed at Washington February 19, 2004, entry into force October 1, 2005. http://www.ssa.gov/international/Agreement_Texts/japan.html

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The cons FAAARR outweigh the pros, and in fact one of the pros topics belong in the cons. Actually, is administering only the pros too much for the J-gov?!

What are they thinking? This is a preposterous plan that has heavy long term penalties, tie-ups, and general problems. I read earlier that Japan wants to increase it's soft power and encourage more people to enter. This is not the way, in fact it'll encourage leavers! Keeping this a secret doesn't help, either!

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Gaijinocchio Totally agree mate. The GOJ needs foreigner workers as the indigenous population are disappearing but they just make coming to japan totally unattractive except for the really desperate.

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Re; Patrick Smash at 09:58 PM JST - 16th May "I reckon it's about money at the end of the day. Notice that the writer views being placed on social insurance and state pension a pro not a con. Stay in Japan and pay in to a system that will not pay you back. It is not a pension. It is a huge tax, which foreigers here are already massive net-payers of. To get the full pension (whatever that will mean) you have to pay in for 20 years straight, as does your company. That means foreigners on contract jobs or anyone over 40 is absolutely screwed by this. There will be no more avoidance of intransigent Japanese systems that cannot work for the majority of foreigners. Japan has never welcomed foreigners, which is probably true of most countries. They don't extend foreigners basic human rights. But when this comes in they will expect all foreigners to pay an even higher burden of tax than they do now, higher than their Japanese counterparts, knowing most foreigenrs cannot receive their dues from the system. As far as I'm concerned, as soon as I get forced onto shakai-hoken, I start a 3-year countdown to departure. I will take my sons with me exactly 3 years to the dat after this starts, reclaim the 3 years of payments I made from abroad, and Japan will be deprived of the resource it most needs. Believe me, privacy of the IC chip info. is a really minor part of this. The main purpose of its introduction is to control foreigners far more aggressively, so that that they can be more easily billed"

I totally agree with Patrick about the governments hidden agenda. This government plans to milk us for all we are worth.....I have suspected this for a long time, especially with the rapidly aging society and long-term economic recession. After hearing this today, my Australian husband and I will seriously have to consider returning home if this is passed. We have had private health insurance since coming here over 9 years ago. I wonder if we would have to back pay. Weve never paid into the National Health or Pension Scheme.

How can our voices be heard? Where is the United Nations on this?

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"The removal of the need to obtain a re-entry permit for residents who leave the country for less than a year." The re-entry permit is a tax on nationality, a race-tax. Abolish it. I can't help but think this whole renewal process is a farce. It's like telling a kid that s/he can have paper but not crayons, or the other way round, and is still expected to produce something perfect. Japan, which desperately needs tax-paying people to support its future needs a radical overhaul, not new gaijin cards and the like. (1) A rapidly aging population with few children is a cash drain. (2) A rapidly becoming uncompetitive industry base is a cash loser. (3) A country fast losing international influence is a face-loser. (4) A rapidly unraveling society is losing its sense of law and order, and rather than face up to the fact that it's a self-made situation, it blames foreigners. That's a fascist state in the making. (5) Combined, all of these spell disaster for Japan, because they think that by applying the same old old remedies to new problems things will work out better. That's called insanity.

Time to overhaul and honestly face up to what kind of country Japan has become, where it wants to go, and what (if anything) it wants to be in the future. Japan needs to realize: "Open to immigration or die! That's the choice. Period." I'm not altogether too hopeful given the current leadership's ideas on immigration reform. Rotate leaders in Tokyo and you still get the same old tired shima-guni ideas. Pathetic!

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"Latenights" sorry to tell you, but most companies you mention are breaking the current labor law, and with no governmental check in place, i.e. local authorities can't check up, there are no penalties.

Japanese labor law states any contracted worker who works more than 25 hours a week are considered full time. In addition, Humanities Visa holders, which are the majority, legally can NOT be outsourced workers. I.E. only full-time stats is acceptable. And, if they give you the paperwork for your visa, they are in fact hiring you full time. Most of these companies now don't pay even the unemployment insurance that 100% of foreign full time workers must pay into under law. 25 hours a week or more of work, and or contract hours that are greater or equal to 25 hours. This law covers all those teachers who have contracts 8:00 to 17:00 but only teach 20 class hours a week. the 8-5 part of their contracts override the actual paid hours.

So, after deductions on tax, who is going to work for 150,000 yen a month? That is what the tax home is going to be for full time teachers.

Learn your rights. Protect your future.

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I don't carry my alien reg ID, I leave it at home and hand out copies of it if necessary. I just carry the health insurance card.

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Wow - this story is really bringing the paranoiacs and full-time gaijin victims out in full force. Can't wait for Debito's usual level-headed and well-balanced view on this one.

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UnagiDon: "Wow - this story is really bringing the paranoiacs and full-time gaijin victims out in full force."

As usual, you've no point. So, where are these posters wrong? Just because you have a chip on your shoulder and get upset when people point out the facts does not make them less so. Where are they wrong? haha. I won't hold my breath for an answer.

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Wow, lot's of paranoia here, I agree with UnagiDon on this one. I've been here almost 10yrs now, I don't see the big deal. Really the only "con" I see besides having to go to Imigration office, is being forced to carry the card all the time. As for the "guarantee" to be accepted into the Social insurance, that's optional, it says no where that you would be forced to join. If anything, this law would integrate us a little better since we would use the same "Network" as locals. As long as you are a law abiding citizen and not out to make trouble, what is the big deal? The Immigration office tracking where I live seems like common sense.

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So, after deductions on tax, who is going to work for 150,000 yen a month? That is what the tax home is going to be for full time teachers

Are you seriously telling me that teachers only get paid 200,000 yen a month before tax? I was a shokutaku-shain on single year contracts, getting paid in the range of 24-26 man a month and paying into shakai-hoken (which my company provided even to non-seishain), kokumin-nenkin and koyo-hoken, and my take-home pay only dropped below 200,000 a month when I was earning good money from freelance translations and my jiminzei contributions went up accordingly.

What interests me now, as someone who no longer lives in Japan but who does work with InterGlobal, is how the requirement to enrol in social insurance would affect those who currently have private medical insurance. Would they be allowed to continue with this (based on my own experience, I don't think many of the hospitals like it, because it makes extra work for them) or would they be forced to pay the back payments (a form of double taxation)?

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If you don't see the cons of being forced to pay into a system that will not give back, then you are blind to cons.

Many of us who work here do so for small contact companies who in turn support larger companies. Our expat co-workers employed by big companies have full time full employment contracts. Their companies pay insurance and retirement.

We contract staff are not expats. We live in Japan because of our wives or partners. If required to pay this we pay 1/2. But if we leave later we can only recover a small portion. If we stay, and most of us are not young, we have to work well past retirement before this plan gives anything back.

This is not fair and it is essentially a race tax. The government knows we lose out on this and yet they are pressing it forward. Why? Because they need the money and they do not care about our welfare or benefits in the end.

Bottom line. Japan needs foreign labor. Period. Without it this economy will slip so far down the list in coming years that few will remember when Japan was #2. Urgent foreign help is needed in health care, business, education and more.

But why come to a country where you have near zero hope of becoming an equal in society? A place where you will almost always be subject to be treated as an interloping outsider? And where your human rights and political liberties are neither fully protected or empowered?

Japan needs real change in this regard. GOJ should enact laws that better enable long term foreigners to naturalize or to become permanent residents with expanded rights and liberties. GOJ should enact laws to change the social and retirement systems in ways that better suit new immigrants and long term residents. These solutions should guarantee benefits and provide paybacks when and if people leave.

Finally, we foreigners should be no more subjected to excessive scruitiny than the locals. This should be doubly so for permanent residents.

If Japan cannot better treat immigrant and long term workers, then she deserves the decline that will, without doubt, follow. This is not Japan bashing. It is simply a statement of fact. Japan needs foreign labor, but it must better respect and care for that labor if they are to receive the numbers and quality of workers they so urgently need.

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Seems to me that the koseki documentation system, for Japanese nationals, is even more painful to participate in than this gaigin card proposal.

I vigorously protect my personal information and privacy. However, I just don't see this ID card as being an invasion, as it has been proposed so far.

Anyone ever notice that the re-entry visa line at the immigration check in Narita is the fastest line? :) Its an advantage! :)

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zaichik: look at the jobsinjapan website or anywhere that advertises teaching jobs now. The rate, if it is a good job, is 250,000. It hasn't changed in 10 years. And now lets do the math. 250,000 base -25,000 national tax at 10% -15,000 local tax -2,000 yen unemployment + the new two taxes -25,000 for health -15,000 for pension 168,000 take home. Now subtract rent etc. and your left with almost nothing.

A university degree was for what?

Now lets look at the Brazilians and Chinese workers that makeup the majority of the foreign work force in Japan... Their average pay is 200,000 or less. Working Poor already are going to be even poorer.

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English teachers and the Brazilians should be getting much more money than that. How can you live on that? I like the reentry permit change and that is about all. If you want to make positive changes, you eliminate the forced retirement except for police and fire workers.

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The rate, if it is a good job, is 250,000. It hasn't changed in 10 years. And now lets do the math. 250,000 base -25,000 national tax at 10% -15,000 local tax -2,000 yen unemployment + the new two taxes -25,000 for health -15,000 for pension 168,000 take home. Now subtract rent etc. and your left with almost nothing.

That's appalling! I didn't realise you english teachers were getting such s*** money. I can only assume english teachers are so thrilled to be in japan they just don't care about cash?

Moderator: Back on topic please.

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The rate, if it is a good job, is 250,000. It hasn't changed in 10 years. And now lets do the math. 250,000 base -25,000 national tax at 10% -15,000 local tax -2,000 yen unemployment + the new two taxes -25,000 for health -15,000 for pension 168,000 take home.

My point was that I was making around 250,000 yen and my take-home pay was in the region of 200,000 yen, so I think your figures are inaccurate. Or is it down to the difference between shakai hoken contributions and kokumin hoken contributions?

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As always when news stories like this appear on JT, what seems to be totally lost on many of you is that when the J government talks about "foreigners", this is primarily aimed at the other Asians who make up the overwhelming majority of foreigners in Japan.

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But why come to a country where you have near zero hope of becoming an equal in society? A place where you will almost always be subject to be treated as an interloping outsider? And where your human rights and political liberties are neither fully protected or empowered?

I've wondered the same thing for years and years. Why do they still keep coming?

My guess is that most of them can't get a decent job in their own countries so they took advatange of the welfare system known as JET where it's funded by the tax collected from good/honest harding working Japanese people. So to those who are under this social program, at least you can do is give some portion of the money back to Japan.

And to those who are whining about the money they're making as a teacher, get off of it. The reason why they pay so low is because you're a dime of dozen. The market dictates your wages. You guys will never have the leverage because you're replaceable.

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As usual, you've no point. So, where are these posters wrong? Just because you have a chip on your shoulder and get upset when people point out the facts does not make them less so. Where are they wrong? haha. I won't hold my breath for an answer.

The perceived "con" is going to the immigration office and carrying it with you in your wallet. As others have pointed out, it's PURE paranoia similar to the Japan's media reaction to the flu.

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"The former is my case, so saying 'I am lost in the woods' is pretty foolish if you simply disagree with the facts."

The fact is, you stiffed the country and the honest tax paying individuals as well of those individuals who have paid the premiums. You are low as they come.

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Hardly a case of denying basic human rights or "expecting all foreigners to pay a higher tax burden." Rather it's just that some governments have got their act together and signed reciprocal agreements with Japan.

Unagidon. Forget it. Patrick Smash doesn't get it or he's a national of a nation that hasn't signed the reciprocal agreements in regards to totalization of contributions in which case, a Japanese national in that country is experiecing the same thing.

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Bring on the new cards! I don't have anything to hide.

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The new system is blatantly racist and xenophobic in nature. Japan is a country where racism and racial discrimination are a way of life.

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Not quite correct I'm afraid, despite those Japan-coloured glasses you wear. According to the reciprocal agreement with the UK, credits can be transferred and paid to me in the UK. But they cannot be transferred to the UK (from Japan)and be paid to me in Japan.

http://www.sia.go.jp/seido/kyotei/qa/qa03.htm#q01

Q: 英協定には、なぜ年金加入期間の通算措置がないのですか

In regards to the UK-Japan Social Securities Agreement, why does it not reflect the totalization of contributions?

A:イギリスとの協定締結交渉にあたっては、イギリス政府側が「新たに締結する協定については二重加入防止に限定した内容とする」という政策の方針をとっている

During the negotiations, the UK government position was "In regards to the new agreement, we (U.K govt) want to limit our scope to double taxation".

And make health care essentially free through taxation instead of having this 70% cover that doesn't cover childcare or hospital stays.

Because you're going to have people who are young and healthy bitch about paying high tax when they rarely go for medical treatment. But thank goodness that there are enough honest harding working tax/premium paying individual in Japan that keeps this program going. Just imagine if people started acting like smithinjapan.

As always with Japan, pay a fortune, get very little back. These changes are designed to exarcebate that with foreigners, but I know you are more Japanese than the Japanese are and will think that's fine.

Actually, you don't pay a fortune in Japan for they are among the lowest in terms of total taxes and Social Security Contribution as a % of National Income at around 39% (Compared to UK at 49% , Sweden at 66%)

http://www.mof.go.jp/jouhou/syukei/siryou/sy1801o.pdf

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Most JT posters tend to overreact to these types of issues. I remember the discussion regarding the fingerprinting at the airport. Now when you leave Japan they don't even bother doing it.

These card revisions will probably not lead to any major substantial changes. Having said that, increasing the frequency of visits to the windswept, desolate, dark pit of hell that is the immigration bureau in Shinagawa is a really bad move.

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I think that these new micro-chipped cards and regulations are absolutely necessary - after all, only wrong-thinking foreigners would ever commit crimes in beautiful, law-abiding Japan. Indeed, in a land where the native people would never even dream of crossing a road before the green "walk" signal merrily flashes them onward (even though it is 3am and the nearest moving vehicle is in the next prefecture), all crimes must, therefore, be perpetrated by the evil, alien hoards of English teachers and their despicable ilk. On the very rare, isolated occasions when a native Japanese may possibly be suspected of having done something ever so slightly wrong (such as murder a young English Nova teacher and bury the body in a bath full of sand) then the local police will always take into account the inate racial inability of Japanese people to wittingly participate in any unlawful act and so, after solemnly promising never to try to catch the mistakenly-accused Nihonjin scallywag, the astute officers will allow them to run away before turning their truly Holmsian detective skills to finding the true villain - obviously a gaijin riding a bicycle without a light! How much easier it will be for them to locate the foul-smelling foreigner with this excellent new system - I am behind it 100% and say "Hooray" to the hard-working, incorruptible and highly efficient bureaucrats of Japan for thinking it all up!

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Oooooo Magnus: You forgot to mention the 50,000 yen per month by which each filthy invader will be out of pocket, to pay into the Shakai Hoken scheme without a prayer of seeing a penny piece back.

A small price to pay, I say, for being made to feel so welcome by our gracious, and genetically-unique hosts.

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Absolutely Ivan - but it's 50,000 yen per month well spent. I only hope that it goes straight into the pocket of our most beloved and esteemed benefactor Mr Aso. He comes from such an underprivileged background that I'm sure he could use the extra cash (if only he could actually spell the word "cash" - bless his little cotton tabi).

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MagnusGarstin, absolutely towering contributions. Keep up the good work sir.

I'm honoured and flattered by your kind words Patrick.

Thanks again, Magnus.

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nigelboy, as usual you posted a lot of interesting information.

Do yourself a favor and petition your own (U.K.) government to do something about your dilemma.

I think 39% tax (I'll go along with your figure) is quite high for a country that can't offer free healthcare, free childbirth, free education or the return of the pension money people pay in to the system.

Then do yourself a favor by enrolling yourself in private supplemental health care and private pension from the money that you would paid if you're in U.K.

Stop acting like a "victim" and do something like a responsible adult.

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Kudos, Magnus. The best is genetically-unique hosts.

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Anyone who doesn't think this isn't about fleecing foreigners by forcing them to pay into the failing pension system is fooling themselves. The Japanese government knows that the 25-year rule will ensure that few people collect the Japanese pension after paying into it and the system is not reciprocal in most countries. I'm surprised that the writer of this article lists being a part of the state pension scheme as a "pro". It's essentially throwing your money away for 99% of foreign people working in Japan.

I wouldn't have a problem if there were conditions depending on status or if the system had a much lower number of years for paying in before you could collect (say 5 years - the length of the new visa). For instance, permanent residents should pay into the pension system, but this looks like it's going to be a blanket laid over people who come for a year or who stay for 20 years.

The root of the problem is going to be that foreigners aren't paid the same as Japanese people or working under the same conditions. Forcing them to pay into various social systems (which they almost certainly will not utilize) places a burden on them which is not placed on the Japanese. Pension payments, ward taxes, and health insurance costs are supplemented for salaried employees in Japanese companies. "Temporary employees" (or contract workers) are currently either slipping under the wire, having their expenses augmented by their temp agencies, or paying reduced expenses because they are married to a salaried employee. Foreigners typically have none of these expenses covered in part by their employers so it's a far bigger bite from their wages than for the average Japanese.

In the end, such a system will make Japan an even less attractive place for foreign workers and likely drive up the cost of having foreign employees for those companies that hire them because it'll be harder to make it worthwhile to be here without increasing wages to compensate for all the new expenses. I'm not sure that ultimately that is not the goal of all of this. Fewer gaijin in Japan and taking more money from those who are here with the knowledge that they'll rarely have to pay any of it back.

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Orchid64

The problem with your argument is that Japanese nationals who reside in countries overseas who have not signed the reciprocal agreement are under the same dilemma which is essentially paying into a system that's not going to get anything back but you don't hear them whining as much.

Maybe it's because most of them still believe that rather than thinking as this is for your future benenefit, pension payments are "to provide insurance benefits against old-age, disability, death for all people in order to prevent deterioration of the stability of the livelihood of the people through national solidarity and thus to secure and improve the decent standard of living of the people." In other words, consider it as a support for the old-age population of today. Same with national health insurance. The amount of premiums+out of pocket expenses versus that of actual medical costs for the younger adult population is far net positive while for older population, the amount falls into a negative. But the system of offering low premiums and low out of pocket costs for the elderly can only be achieved if everybody especially the young participates in it.

And for a person who paid in the system for 20 years, by god pay another five years so that you could qualify. Whether that means saving now to pay for that remaining five years or to continue working until 25 year requirement, it is up to you. But to forfeit the qualification after 20 years is just plain stupid.

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Wow, Patrick actually made two posts in a row without being racist before turning back to his old ways.

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"...you don't hear them whining as much."

Of course they don't whine, because their host country treats them with dignity, not like some potential criminal to be monitored and fleeced. For example, in the UK a Japanese national on a non-tourist visa:

can opt out of the state pension scheme entirely is not obliged to carry any form of ID can vote in local elections can become a UK citizen (and keep their J-passport) after 5 years (3 if married to a UK citizen) cam enjoy free health care from day 1 regardless of whether they're making contributions
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shift administration of alien registration from municipal offices to the Immigration Bureau.

that sucks.

track the movement of foreigners more closely

maybe that's the 'main aim' after all.

Save the money to be used in IC cards for something else.

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can opt out of the state pension scheme entirely

Yes. Due to the UK-Japan Social Securities Agreement stated above.

is not obliged to carry any form of ID

I think most people carry ID without the obligation.

can vote in local elections

Japan is not part of EU

can become a UK citizen (and keep their J-passport) after 5 years (3 if married to a UK citizen)

Same. J-gov isn't in the business of taking passports away. They just "assume" that if you naturalize to Japanese, you relinquished your citizenship with the former country.

cam enjoy free health care from day 1 regardless of whether they're making contributions

I don't think you can put "enjoy" and NHS in the same sentence. Most Japanese residing in U.K. chooses private (for obvious reasons) despite already paying for the NHS (through taxes).

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Im still residing in Japan so Im not sure how effective this is, but I found a website company that can help get tax and pension payments back once you leave the country (appears you have to do it within two years). Does anyone have any experience with this, and I wonder if you can get the full amount of pension back or just part? Something to consider perhaps if they bring in the changes....

http://www.taxback.com/japan-pension-refund.asp?Lng=jp

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To Amakuri:

http://www.sia.go.jp/e/pdf/english.pdf

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NigelBoy: Thanks for the link. What I am still unclear of is whether or not I can get the full pension entitlement made into my Australian pension account (either lump-sum or in installments) should I withdraw and return home before the 25 year requirement which is presently law. I understand from your both links above that the application for lump-sum withdraw payments can be made before or after leaving Japan.

I guess we will have to wait and see if the new bill is passed in the Diet this week and it`s implications for everyone.

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I have been approached several times by the police in Tokyo only because I look as a foreigner (indeed I am a foreigner). They asked for my registration card as I went out from the ticket gate. I had done nothing wrong, I was just walking back home. Even though I have the right documents, I feel very annoyed. Only because my face is different they ask me to show an ID. They didn't accept no as an answer.

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