‘My number’ is dangerous

The Diet on May 24 enacted a bill to launch the “My Number” system under which an ID number will be assigned to every resident, Japanese or foreign, and a photo-ID card with an embedded electronic data chip will be issued to those who apply for one.

It is deplorable that the Diet passed the bill without fully discussing problems that could arise with the introduction of the system, whose initial investment requires some ¥270 billion.

The government claims that the ID number system, which would be used mainly for taxation and social security purposes, would enhance fairness in taxation and efficiency in the distribution of social welfare resources. But the possibility exists that the system will do little more than enable the state to exercise greater control over citizens while raising the risk of people’s personal information being leaked or stolen.

Initially the law limits the use of the ID system to taxation, social security services and measures dealing with natural disasters. But the law calls for considering the expansion of the use of the system three years after the system has started.

There is talk of permitting the private sector to use the ID system. This should be strictly prohibited as there is no perfect method to prevent the leakage or theft of personal data, which would cause serious damage to those whose privacy has been compromised.

Under the My Number system, an ID number will be assigned to each resident. The permanent nature of the number is troubling as it makes it easier for identity theft to take place.

The government plans to notify each citizen of his or her ID number by October 2015. The ID card system will start to be used in January 2016. It will enable the public sector to keep tabs on citizens’ payments of income tax and resident tax as well as information related to their pension, medical and nursing-care services and other social security services.

For citizens, the procedures related to tax payments and receipt of social security benefits will become simplified. But potential problems of the ID system should not be ignored.

In addition to the leakage of personal information, there is the danger of identity theft. Someone may pose as the valid cardholder and commit fraudulent acts — such as purchasing expensive articles or taking out loans. Such crimes are taking place in the United States, northern European countries and South Korea, where similar ID systems are in effect.

It is reported that damage caused by identity theft in the U.S. alone amounts to $50 billion a year. As a result, Congress has held public hearings to discuss possible changes to the U.S. Social Security number system.

For these reasons, the Japanese government should not expand the use of the ID number system, and the system should never contain information about a person’s medical history and genetic makeup.

Given the potential problems associated with the deeply flawed My Number system, it might end up primarily benefitting only the IT industry — which stands to make handsome profits through its implementation and estimated ¥40 billion annual maintenance costs — rather than the public.

  • Where does one get your slave ID – or do they already know where to find you?

    • Eoghan Hughes

      They do already know where to find you. Everyone legally residing anywhere in Japan (Japanese or foreign) is and has been for a long time required to register their address with their local municipal or ward office. This is no secret, and it’s not a scandal. Can I assume from your comment that you don’t live in Japan and are therefore ignorantly accusing Japan of implementing some kind of slavery system?

      Anyway, I really don’t understand this article. It appears to have been written and printed anonymously, by someone who doesn’t cite a single source, so in order to find a clearer (less-slanted) description of what was in the law I had to Google ‘”My Number” May 24 Japan’. There doesn’t appear to be anything of note to justify this writer’s paranoid complaining. The bit near the end about “containing information about a person’s medical history and genetic makeup” seems to be absolutely ridiculous and unfounded…

      • You realise you only have ‘arbitrary’ political rights (only procedural, not actually effective) because the government controls your wallet. That’s why in poor countries they don’t respect political rights. In the West, you don’t have economic rights because govts want to retain their ‘right’ to tax you. Of course, you might well be happy with most of the services, and you probably don’t reflect too much on the balance of costs and revenues, and the impact on a nation’s values. That’s why there is no scandal.

      • Eoghan Hughes

        Wait, so let me get this straight: you were NOT reading some insane conspiracy about how they’re going to enslave us, but rather JUST equating taxation with slavery??

      • They came from a similar place to your sarcasm…a thought process…some of which, for the shortness of time and space, you are not privy to…unless you ask.Does the fact that you ask these questions mean I have to reinvent the wheel for you before you derisively reject ideology? Because at the moment you are constructing straw arguments.

      • Eoghan Hughes

        Wow. I try to assume good faith by inquiring as to whether I had misunderstood your initial comment (read: I thought you were narrow-mindedly accusing the Japanese of slavery because they are Japanese and therefore must be pro-slavery a la Debito, but then realized based on your response that you were probably just a fundamentally anti-tax ideologue), and you respond by belittling me and deliberately using obscure language. I thought initially that the first part of your above comment was meant to be a quotation without the quote marks (hence the ellipses) but were you just trying to confuse me? Or were you using “poetic” language because you think it makes you sound smart?

      • Eoghan Hughes

        Also, your comment is a giant non-sequitur — where did “political rights” and “economic rights” and “poor countries” and “the West” come from? Also, since Japan has a western-style tax system, in this context is Japan in “the West”?

      • Offering no treatise on a news page doesn’t make it a non-sequitur – you have to demonstrate that. Is taxation distinctly a Western feature?

    • 乃亜 印場

      Wow more conspiracy theorists. The government already knows where to find you unless you are an unregistered illegal immigrant. If you lived here, you would know that. Most people in Japan already have several numbers given out by the government that they could complain about in similar ways. Passport numbers, driver’s license numbers, and, most similarly, jumin kihon info cards.

  • Starviking

    Actually, given my experience of the Japanese medical system, having your medical history on the card could be a life saver. There is no central medical records repository, and the sick are supposed to either: go to the same medical provider all their lives (and not get sick beyond their reach), or carry records of all medical aliments and procedures they have experienced.