At least 33 cases of counterfeit new resident cards issued to foreigners staying in Japan for three months or more have been detected, according to data from the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau.
They include incidents in which foreign residents were found to be carrying forged cards or cards bearing the names of other people. Some of these residents had used the fake documentation to work longer hours than permitted by their actual resident status.
The police said they are increasingly alert to the situation.
The new foreign resident card system was introduced on July 9 last year. The cards bear a photo of the holder and information about their resident status, how long they can remain in the country and what jobs and how many hours they are allowed to work. About 1.105 million of the cards were issued in a roughly 10-month period after the new system entered into effect.
The 33 cases had been detected by May. Many of the counterfeit cards were easy to detect, officials of the Immigration Bureau said, adding that no sophisticated forgeries, for instance involving integrated circuit chips, were among them.
Many of the holders of the fake cards are believed to have overstayed their visas. But in some cases, foreigners with legal resident status were found with counterfeit cards, many of which falsely claimed the holder was a permanent resident of Japan, a police executive noted.
The immigration control law restricts the maximum amount of hours and the types of jobs foreigner residents are permitted to undertake, depending on their resident status. However, there are no such restrictions for permanent residents.
Those with cards falsely showing they were permanent residents were apparently using them to work longer hours than allowed under their actual resident status, the police official said.
To alert and educate employers, the Immigration Bureau’s website demonstrates how to detect forged resident cards.