My Number

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“My Number”: What you need to know

As of January 1st 2016, the Japanese Government introduced a system called “My Number” (マイナンバー), which was rolled out nationwide across all local governments and associated organisations. This system has been implemented so that the government can quickly and easily collect an individual’s social security and tax information.

So what exactly is this “My Number” system?

My Number” (マイ・ナンバ) or “Individual Number” is the Japanese “Social Security and Tax Number System” (Shakai Hosho Zei Bango Seido/社会保障・税番号制度).  This is effectively the Japanese version of a “Social Security Number”, “National Insurance Number” etc.: a system that those who have lived in Western countries are already used to.

Those who have applied for “My Number” will receive their unique 12-digit number by a “Notification Card (tsuuchi kaado/通知カード)”, which will be sent to their home address.
The Notification Card looks like this:

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Once you have received this card, you are required to return it to your local government office. For example, if you live in Saga City, return your card to Saga City Hall.

What is it used for?

Official statement:

““My Number” is used to efficiently manage information by tying them to personal information they have on individuals in the areas of social security, administration, taxation, and disaster response”.

 As stated in the first paragraph, “My Number” is a more convenient way for the Government to collect information on individuals without having to use multiple sources

Who does “My Number” apply to?

“My Number” applies to Native Japanese citizens and foreign residents who have lived in Japan for more than three months at a registered address. Please note that this does NOT apply to any foreigners on a short term Visa.

Below are the criteria that a foreign resident must fit in order to apply for “My Number”:

  1. Has been issued a Residence Card (lovingly known as the “Gaijin Card”).
  2. Has been granted Special Permanent Residency.
  3. Allowed into Japan seeking temporary refuge.
  4. Has permission for provisional stay.
  5. Overstayed due to childbirth
  6. Overstayed due to loss of Japanese nationality.

Is “My Number” required by law?

It is not required by law: “My Number” cards are not issued by National government, but by local branches. However, it is highly encouraged.

Who makes use of the “My Number” system?

The following institutions (at time of writing) are the main users of this system:

  • Local Governments
  • Tax Office
  • Social Security Office
  • Disaster Response Office
  • Central Government Organisations
  • Post Office

Besides sections of the Government, you may be required to provide your 12-digit number to the following organisations:

  • Your employer
  • Insurance companies
  • Finance companies
  • Any kind of employment organisation
  • Business owners
  • Hello Work (Japanese Government’s unemployment agency)

These organisations will ask the government for your “My Number” in order to process things like your pension, taxes, welfare benefits, childcare allowances and other documents. Again please note, this is on your behalf: you will most likely not need to do this yourself. Please see the statement below from the Cabinet Office:
“Private businesses must also receive the Individual Numbers of their employees and their dependants, print them on certificates of income and withholding tax for employment income as well as notices of acquisition of insurance qualification for social insurance that they issue for the employees, and then submit those documents to the relevant administrative organs. Similarly, Individual Numbers must be printed on payment records prepared by insurance companies, records of payment of manuscript fees, etc.”

If all these organisations have access to my personal information, is my information safe?

The Cabinet Office says that there are “strict identification mechanisms” in place to prevent identify theft, as well as other stringent measures to protect personal information.

Another statement from the Cabinet Office writes that “My Number”: “may not be used for any purpose that is outside the scope of procedures for social security administration, taxation, and disaster response that is established in laws and ordinances.”

If you would like to know more about “My Number”, everything pertaining to its usage and how to register, the link below will direct you to the official English FAQ: