Osaka native Haruko Kubota has waged a lifelong struggle to be "certified" as a living resident.

Kubota (not her real name), 31, a petite mother of three with long dyed hair, doesn't have a "koseki" family registration. Lacking a family registry is a tremendous disadvantage — and virtually unthinkable — in a nation where all citizens are supposed to have their names registered at birth.

This registration serves as the basis for public services and for carrying out many commercial transactions.