National

PRIVACY RIGHT VIOLATION SAID UNLIKELY

Juki Net constitutional, high court rules

Kyodo

The nationwide residency registration network known as Juki Net is constitutional even though it contains personal information on residents without their consent, the Nagoya High Court ruled Thursday, upholding a lower court decision.

In the suit, 12 residents of Aichi Prefecture claimed that because local authorities provide personal information without their consent, the network violates their constitutional right to privacy.

“It cannot be said that information for identity confirmation is information that requires a high degree of confidentiality,” presiding Judge Takeaki Noda said in rejecting the plaintiffs’ claim.

“There is little likelihood the right to privacy will be violated,” he added.

The plaintiffs had demanded that their information be removed from the system and for the state and Aichi Prefecture to pay each of them 220,000 yen in compensation.

The network, launched in August 2002, stores personal information including names, addresses and dates of birth that is obtained from resident registries held by municipalities and shares such information with the central and local governments.

The Nagoya District Court in May 2005 ruled the system is constitutional, noting that the information was available to the public even before the launch of the system.

The plaintiffs argued that the state’s operation of the network violates the right to privacy stipulated in Article 13 of the Constitution.

The authorities say the system helps simplify onerous paperwork involving separate municipalities, but there has been a public outcry about possible leaks and abuse of the information.

The launch of the controversial system prompted the filing of a number of lawsuits nationwide, and court judgments on whether the system is constitutional have been divided.

In December, the Osaka High Court, in a reversal of a lower court decision, determined that listing people on the Juki Net without their consent was unconstitutional, ruling in favor of 16 residents in Osaka Prefecture who demanded that their names be removed from the network.

Later the same month, the Nagoya High Court overturned an earlier Kanazawa District Court ruling that found the residency registry network unconstitutional.

A handful of municipalities, including Tokyo’s Suginami Ward and the town of Yamatsuri in Fukushima Prefecture, have refrained from joining the system.