• Kyodo

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The Yokohama Municipal Government began taking requests Monday from local residents who do not want their personal data listed on a national resident registry network, city officials said.

Yokohama, with a population of 3.5 million and Japan’s largest city outside the conurbation of Tokyo, allows residents to choose whether their data will be listed on the contentious network. Residents have until Oct. 11 to register their refusal at any of the city’s 18 ward offices, the officials said.

Yokohama has already begun sending letters to the 1.45 million households in the city that inform residents of their new 11-digit identification numbers and include forms for those who wish to be left off the register.

Residents who choose to be left off will nevertheless be assigned an identification number.

Yokohama Mayor Hiroshi Nakada announced Aug. 2 that residents of the city would be allowed to choose whether their data can be entered into the system, as a temporary measure until the network is confirmed safe.

Kanagawa Prefecture, which is to relay such data to the government from local municipalities, including Yokohama, said Aug. 17 it will not accept resident registry data from Yokohama because the Basic Resident Registration Law makes no exception for Yokohama’s optional participation policy, thus making it illegal.

The Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry has notified the Kanagawa and Yokohama governments that the law requires identification data on all citizens to be provided to governors.

The resident registry network will link basic residency registries across Japan by encoding personal information including name, address, date of birth and sex under an 11-digit individual number. The government says the system will make it easier to obtain official documents such as driver’s licenses and passports.

A handful of municipalities among Japan’s more than 3,000 cities, towns and villages have decided against joining the network or delayed their decision to formally sign up.

The network went into operation Aug. 5 despite concerns it could lead to violations of privacy and state surveillance of individuals. Such concerns were heightened revelations that the Defense Agency had conducted detailed background checks on people who had sought information under the freedom of information law.

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