A certificate introduced in July 2012 for “special permanent residents” of Korean and Taiwanese descent had been issued to only around 13 percent of the more than 370,000 eligible people as of June 30, according to the Immigration Bureau.
The slow changeover from the alien registration certificate to the special permanent resident certificate is mostly attributed to a lack of publicity by the bureau about the mandatory measure.
The bureau, an arm of the Justice Ministry, is planning to send a letter to every eligible individual.
There were 373,000 people with special permanent resident status was as of Dec. 31. Around 369,000 have Korean ancestry, and people from Taiwan make up the bulk of the rest.
They are required to switch to the new certificate under the revised special measures law on immigration that took effect in July 2012. Unlike the alien registration card, there is no requirement for the holder of the new certificate to carry it at all times while in Japan.
People aged 16 or older when the law came into force are required to change within the seven-year validity period of their alien registration cards. The changeover window will be extended to July 2015 for those whose alien registration cards expire before that period. Minors under 16 are required to change before their 16th birthday.
Municipal governments handle procedures. A violation of the law is punishable with imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of up to ¥200,000.
“We would like to step up publicity because handling offices may get crowded if there is a last-minute rush of applicants,” an Immigration Bureau official said.