What Is “My Number” in Japan?

As expected, even the focal point of our tax, legal, financial, and private information has a cartoon mascot. After all, this is Japan. Unfortunately, according to the ministry of social security and tax, we are “not allowed to reproduce” the mascot on our website, as we are not a “Person in Charge of Affairs”, but take our word for it, it’s a cute bunny with numbers for eyes and an ear that looks like a number.

My Number will be used to more effectively share information among the various national and local authorities (starting at the national level January of 2017 and later that year in July for the local level). Starting this month (October 2015) every person with a residence record in Japan should receive a notification card with their unique individual number, which will be sent to the last known address in the country’s resident records. Starting in January 2016, individuals will be able to begin applying for the actual My Number card.

For foreigners living in Japan, the good news is you will not be required to carry around the My Number card- in contrast to the foreigner registration card.

As many throughout the private and public sectors have echoed, the system is not perfect. It could have both advantages and risks.

First off, professionals in the IT security industry are likely to be watching developments and implementation of the My Number system with eager anticipation, and for good reason.

Companies across Japan will be required to manage ID numbers for employees and their family members. Such a program is estimated to cost a large corporation 50 million yen ($408,000) to implement. According to Daiwa Securities Group, the market for such IT security software is worth an estimated 3 trillion yen.

The Japanese Authorities will be incentivizing (mostly stick, with no carrot) companies to prepare for handing and providing security for an employee’s My Number. Individuals and companies found responsible for a My Number leak may be imprisoned for up to four years and/or fined up to 2 million yen. Yet, at the moment Japanese companies are reportedly unprepared for any of this. Nomura Research Institute polled around 2,000 companies, and found that almost half (47%) are not making progress on preparations for My Number.

As is evident in other countries with personal numbering systems, the risk of an information leak is a serious concern. Just this year the United States recorded approximately 21 million cases of data breaches involving private information and Social Security numbers. The story in South Korea is even worse, with major cyber security data-breaches occurring in 2011 and 2014. Japan’s neighbor suffered the leaking of around 40 million numbers, or 80% of the population, when the network was compromised. Private information from this data breach is still publicly available via a number of websites. It is estimated that it will cost Seoul around $650 million to rebuild a new system.

Identity thieves often steal pension or unemployment insurance payments or run up a victim’s credit card debt with victims having lost tens of billions of dollars in the U.S. alone…

For an exhaustive FAQ in English direct from the Japanese Government, please visit their site here

 

 

 

[sources]

– Office of Personnel Management – Cybersecurity Research Center
– My Number Cabinet Secretariat http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/seisaku/bangoseido/index.html
– The 15 Worst Data Security Breaches of the 21st Century – CSO – Taylor Armerding
Japan today: My Number; A Worrying Glimpse Into The Future

 

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What Is My Number in Japan?
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What Is My Number in Japan?
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What is the My Number system? How does it work? What are the risks?
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