Foreigner registration system to be revised

May lead to better services, more control

Under the new system, long-term foreign residents will get registration cards at airports and local immigration offices, which will then be used to register their information at local governments.

The data will be controlled in a similar manner as for Japanese citizens, and used to compile information for taxation, health insurance programs and census-taking. Special permanent residents, including those in Japan before the war and their descendants, are also expected to be listed in the new registry system.

Makoto Miyaguchi, an official of Minokamo, Gifu Prefecture, which has a large Brazilian population, said the current law is not sufficient to provide administrative services for foreigners in his city.

“Since the current system does not gather detailed information, we have often been unable to give adequate services for foreigners in the area,” including school guidance for parents and information on welfare services, he said.

Approximately 10 percent, or 50,000 residents, in Minokamo are registered foreigners.

Miyaguchi said that both his city and its foreign population will benefit from the overall detailed management, since it will be able to better track locations and the status of foreign individuals and households.

But while some suggest that the new system will view foreigners as legitimate residents instead of objects of supervision, others say it will only strengthen government control over foreigners while providing minimal improvement in their lives.