The Interesting Concept of the My Number System in Japan

The government of a country isn’t just there to lead the country into the direction their leader sees fit, nor does it exists to simply allot the nation’s money for the projects they have in mind. As a government of a nation, they must also be able to keep track of the millions of people they govern in their land. In the case of Japan, they have always been a progressive country and they once again showed it by conceptualizing and implementing a new ID system known as the “Individual Number” or the ““My Number””.

The Time Before the My Number System in Japan

The Japanese government’s decision to introduce a new ID system doesn’t necessarily mean that the previous system implemented was inefficient. In fact, other countries like Philippines and America still uses the same ID system which makes use of things like social security numbers and tax identification numbers. Since it is still used in first world countries as well as developing countries, it proves that the older system works just fine.

With this being said, you might question why Japan would introduce a new system if the other one was still able to do the job. To answer your questions about this matter, you just need to keep in mind that Japan is always moving towards progress. Although the old system was still effective, Japan saw that there were still a lot of things you can improve because of how different agencies were involved in the governing process and a majority of these agencies make use of their own tracking or ID systems for the people.

A perfect example would be how the social security system of Japan tracks people’s records using their very own SS number while the agency that monitors tax payments makes use of the TIN or the tax identification number. Both numbers are needed for governance and although both agencies are able to fulfill their purpose, Japan saw that introducing a cross-sectoral common number can be very beneficial for the public as well as for the government. There have also been times when having separated ID numbers from the different agencies created unnecessary delays like when the administrative agencies like the welfare service and the social insurance have to interact with each other before confirmation can be given to the person in need of certain benefits.

Implementing such a system would enable them to simplify the records which would make the tracking and monitoring immensely easier on their part. In addition to this, having a unified ID number would prevent delays like the one just mentioned above from ever happening again. This simplification also helps the public because instead of getting all these ID numbers from the different agencies to make use of the benefits they offer, you only need to get your “My Number” and it would be as if you have the perks of having all the ID requirements from the government agencies.

How the My Number System was introduced to Japan and its Mechanics

This system was introduced in the year of 2015 and as it mentioned earlier, it is the new ID system implemented in Japan which is supposed to replace the existing ID systems of agencies like the social security agency, taxation agency, as well as for disaster measure purposes. Since it was just recently implemented, the Japanese government did not require the public to get a “My Number” because their social security numbers and TINs may still be valid for the coming years and it would be a waste of money on the public’s part if their efforts to renew their IDs would become nothing.

Aside from being the identification used for most government agencies, the “My Number” system also enables a greater convenience to the public because various administrative procedures can now be done online due to the collaboration of the agencies involved in the “My Number” system. It also enables the government to grasp income data more accurately because of the simplified system and the Japanese government intended to create a more sophisticated social security system with the data to bring in an impartial and fair society.

In addition to the “My Number”, you also get a card that can be used for various purposes. This card isn’t given separately from the number itself so you need not worry about applying for the said card in the month of January, February, or any other month for that matter. Aside from having the 12 digits, it also has your name, date of birth, sex, and address. This particular card is equipped with an IC chip that has multiple functions like electronic certificates. Some of its functions are also used for various purposes like private enterprises because it serves as proof of you having all the requirements needed to run your business.

Having all these perks in one ID can be scary too because nowadays, identity theft and theft, in general, happen more frequently. It seems like as long as you have the brains to hack things, you can easily steal information, money, and alike with just a couple of clicks and encoding. Japan is well aware of these threats so they implement strict penalties to those caught illegally obtaining a “My Number” of another person or using personal information to do other criminal acts. These penalties are, of course, only in addition to the dense layers of technological security the Japanese government installed with this system to prevent hackings and such acts from happening anyway.

There are also institutional protection measures being taken to increase the safety of using this new system. These institutional protection measures involve prohibiting the collection and storage of personal information unless the law says so. It also entails a third party organization called Personal Information Protection Committee to supervise and monitor the “My Number” system’s management. In accordance to the penalties mentioned above, the institutions involved in these protective measures have also made their penalties a lot heavier with regards to violating the laws involving the new system. Of course, the most basics of checks still exist in these measures as a person using the “My Number” is required to confirm and verify his or her identity to prove its validity.

The “My Number”, however, is only given to residents of Japan or have stayed long enough in Japan for your residence to be considered a mid to long-term one. To be categorized as mid to long-term foreign residents, you must have the legal status of residing in Japan for at least 3 months. This provision is according to the Immigration Control Act. Special permanent residences are also included in the list of those eligible to avail of these 12 digit identification numbers. If you are a foreigner that is about to enter for a mid to long-term stay in Japan, your Individual Number will be given to you on the day or a day after you get your Basic Resident Registry which is sent to you after you submit a “Notification of Moving-in” to your local municipal office.

The Actual and Potential New Additions to the My Number System in Japan

Right now, there are many things that the “My Number” card can do. It can act as a document which certifies that you have a 12 digit number of your own. It also acts as an official identification card but it must be accompanied with another valid ID that has your picture to confirm that the “My Number” card is truly yours. It is used for online applications in multiple administrative procedures. It can also act as a library card, seal registration card, health insurance card and much more. It basically serves as a multi-purpose card for all kinds of things like public services and such alike.

With the addition of more agencies creating contracts and integrating their system to the new system, the functions of the “My Number” has grown as well. In the near future, the government plans to use it to offer maternal and child health information by tapping into the system. Aside from health information, the Health Ministry of Japan also plans to use the system to share the medical records of people so that hospitals and doctors can easily access such information.

The new system Japan is implementing looks very promising and it has already affected Japan in a good way with how it simplified record management for them as well as it being able to provide better online services to the public. With the plans mentioned above, the potential and uses of this national card and number look very bright and might even influence other countries to try it out themselves. Banks and universities might even get in on this and eventually link certain accounts to the number as well. The most important thing about this is to keep your number a secret because of how many essential accounts and records are now attached to it and will be attached to it. Considering all the perks you gain in return though, it seems like keeping the number well-hidden is a small price to pay for the convenience it brings both government and residents.