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Japan to Issue New Foreign Resident Cards in July

Date Posted: 2011-12-23

Japan’s Immigration Control Law is undergoing revision, and it means big changes coming next July 9th for foreigners.

Japan decided at a cabinet meeting this week to introduce government-managed foreign resident cards little more than six months from now. Applications for the new cars will be accepted from foreigners starting January 13th. The government adopted a cabinet ordinance to put the revised immigration control law, which provides for the government's sole management of data on foreign residents, into effect in the summer.

The new law, approved by the Diet, Japan's parliament, abolishes the conventional system in which municipalities issue foreign resident registration cards. For forgery protection, integrated circuit chips are used for the new cards that will contain such information as addresses and places of employment or school names.

The current alien registration cards, which must be carried at all times by foreigners, will be scrapped. Instead, the Immigration Bureau will issue resident cars to mid- and long-term foreign residents that contain names, addresses and photographs. The cards will be given to current residents at local immigration offices, while new foreign residents will get theirs at airports.

Registration currently is carried out separately for each foreigner, rather than by household. The new centralized system will classify foreigners by household, the same as is done with Japanese, and will allow tracking of address changes, births, deaths, marriages and other details now being hashed out. Officials say the new system will make sure nobody’s left out of the national health insurance, child welfare and nursing insurance programs.

The biggest change for foreigners is the notion they’re now simply residents, which officials say will make it easier for foreigners to obtain administrative services from the government. Registers for foreigners are expected to be separate but somewhat equal to the Japanese systems.

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