Registry’s virus software not updated: Katayama

Antivirus software for the country’s controversial resident registry network has not been updated for three months, Toranosuke Katayama, minister for public management, home affairs, posts and telecommunications, admitted Friday.

Katayama was responding to a Mainichi Shimbun report that the ministry’s affiliate in charge of administrating the nationwide network has failed to update the software as often as it was supposed to.

The network was launched on Aug. 5.

“I’ll ask the investigative committee on the administration of the resident registry network to discuss” how often the software should be updated, Katayama said.

He blamed the update delay on the hectic activity since the network was launched.

The network cannot be hacked because the system is run on an exclusive network, he added.

The Local Authorities Systems Development Center, an affiliate of the ministry, administers the network that links more than 3,000 cities, towns and villages.

Meanwhile, Suginami Ward in Tokyo asked the government to revise the relevant legislation so that only residents who want their information registered on the network have to participate in the system.

In a petition submitted to a senior ministry official, Suginami Mayor Hiroshi Yamada called for the Residents’ Basic Register Law to be revised.

“In a democratic society, residents should be guaranteed the right to decide whether to receive the benefits of information technology,” Yamada said.

Kaneshige Wakamatsu, a senior vice minister of the ministry, replied, “We cannot accept the option system because it would affect the basis of the resident registry network.”

Suginami Ward is one of a handful of municipalities that have refused to join the registry network, citing concerns over the security of the network as well as the level of protection on the data contained within it.

The neighboring ward of Nakano severed its connection to the registry network in September, becoming the first municipality to do so after the system was launched.

The town of Yamatsuri, Fukushima Prefecture, and Kokubunji in western Tokyo have also opted out of the network due to concerns over information leaks.

In Yokohama, residents have been given a choice to opt out of the registry network if they wish.