Data privacy is a big thing now, and more and more people are rightfully concerned about unwarranted efforts to collect their personal information. One example of this occurs whenever a non-Japanese guest checks into a hotel in Japan and the person at the front desk asks if they can photocopy their passport.

At risk of covering well-trodden ground, I thought it would be worth devoting a column to the question of whether it is legal for hotels to take a photocopy of your passport or residence card when you check in. It turns out that this topic is a useful vehicle for demonstrating how Japanese law works, particularly with regards to regulated industries.

The black letter law