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The bill just passed to “help” foreign residents by centralizing data collection at the Ministry of Justice does nothing to solve the original problem: foreign residents forgetting to re-register with local authorities after moving. The call for this new law arose at a gathering of city and town officials in 2007 (“Cities call for national registry of foreign residents,” The Japan Times, Nov. 30, 2007). A “guest” at the rally just happened to be an LDP lawmaker who pledged to get right to work. But let’s look closely at what the officials wanted fixed.

Foreign residents, officials said, were missing out on benefits after failing to re-register with local authorities after moving. In other words, they were forgetful of the law requiring them to do so. Many readers must now wonder by what miracle of technology the central government has made it unnecessary for foreign residents to remember to register after moving. The bill, as passed, doesn’t fix this problem. Residents will still have to remember to register after moving.

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