National

Taboo family registry records from Meiji Era sold at auction in Japan again

JIJI

Documents apparently showing family registry records from the Meiji Era called jinshin koseki, currently prohibited due to descriptions of social classes and criminal histories, have been auctioned online again, it has been learned.

The Justice Ministry and other sources said Friday that two such documents were put on Yahoo Japan’s auction site in May. One was seized by the ministry, with the seller’s consent, but the other was acquired by a bidder.

As of Friday, the buyer had not followed a ministry request, made through the website’s operator, Yahoo Japan Corp., to hand over the document to the ministry.

With no legal basis for collecting such documents against the will of the owner, the ministry has no choice but to ask the buyer to hand it over on a voluntary basis, ministry officials said.

The two documents are believed to contain jinshin koseki data from areas in Nara and Saitama prefectures. There has been no confirmation yet on whether the documents are genuine.

In February this year, a document showing jinshin koseki data from areas around Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, was found on the same website. The ministry managed to prevent it from being sent out to the buyer.

In 1968, the Justice Ministry instructed municipalities across the country to seal such records due to concerns they may cause discrimination. Last year, the ministry drew up guidelines for storing them.

Most of the original records are kept under strict control at the ministry’s local bureaus and other locations. Some, however, are believed to remain with the families of those who were involved in compiling the records.