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National ID system takes affect Aug. 5

Date Posted: 2002-08-08

August 5 marked the day when the government started issuing 11-digit identification codes to every resident of Japan. Within next two months every resident is expected to receive by mail an ID card containing the code. The card will store the holder’s personal information, including name, address, birthday, sex and family register information.

The information is connected to a computer network, and the cards are supposed to relieve residents from visiting a city office every time they need to renew their driving license, register a car, obtain a passport, take out a loan or conduct any other official business. Visiting a city office can be very time consuming affair as anyone who has lived in this country any length of time well knows.

However, there are many of those who resist, and see the new system as a new form of the “Big Brother” snooping into people’s private affairs. There are even mayors who have wowed not to issue the cards at all.

The most common reservation people have is the question of how the data is protected, what guarantees that their name and address does not appear on some mailing list resulting in an avalanche of junk mail, or even what information there actually is in the government computer.

The Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper conducted a telephone survey among 100 randomly picked Okinawa residents, Sunday, in order to gauge people’s opinion on the new system. 67 of those interviewed said that they have reservations about the system or are opposing it.

A resident of Okinawa City said that she is plain afraid of the system. “It’s very frightening. The government should explain this system better. Who is responsible if the info is leaked and something bad happens.”

A man living in Hirara City on Miyako Island said that the system is useless for people living in small communities. “We living in tiny communities like this don’t need such a network. It’s a pleasure for us to visit a city office where we can talk face to face with civil servants as everyone knows everybody.”

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