The Cabinet on Tuesday approved a decision to limit access to local governments’ resident registry books to organizations and individuals acting in the public interest, ending the current practice of providing such access to anyone.

The decision takes effect Nov. 1.

The measure follows approval by the Diet in June of a bill to revise the Basic Resident Registers Law.

The registries contain the name, address, sex and date of birth of all residents.

Under the revised law, those wishing to view the registries must get permission from the mayor.

Those requesting access will be asked to explain why they need to see the data, and to supply the results of surveys or other work for which the information was used.

The measure aims to prevent people or organizations from using registry information for commercial purposes such as direct mail. In some cases, the data have been used to commit crimes.

The law increases fines for violators and introduces a new set of penalties for those who fraudulently obtain access or use the data in them illegally.

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