My Number System in Japan

My Number Japan

My Number Card Japan

Japan’s My Number system will be used to more effectively share information among the various national and local authorities (starting at the national level in January of 2017 and later that year in July for the local level).

Starting this month (October 2015), the government will begin to roll out the number system. Every person with a residence record in Japan can expect the government to provide them with their unique individual number.

The Japanese government will send the number to the last known address in the country’s resident records. Starting in January 2016, individuals will be able to begin applying for Japan’s official My Number card.

For foreigners living in Japan, there is some good news. You will not be required to carry around the My Number card. This is 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.

Advantages and Risks of the My Number System

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. Major cybersecurity data breaches occurred in South Korea 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 and Further Reading

- Office of Personnel Management – Cybersecurity Research Center

- My Number Cabinet Secretariat

- The 15 Worst Data Security Breaches of the 21st Century – CSO – Taylor Armerding

- Japan today: My Number; A Worrying Glimpse Into The Future