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My Number System

My Number System Expected to Become More Pervasive in 2017

SNA (Tokyo) — Since its official launch a year ago, the unpopular My Number system has been making only halting progress in becoming part of Japan residents’ daily lives. The 12-digit identification number was initially applied mainly to welfare payments and joining the public health insurance program. Although employers are supposed to collect the My Number of all of their employees, it is clear that many have so far refrained from actually doing so.

In 2017, however, the My Number system is likely to become more pervasive. Banks are becoming more proactive about asking their customers for their My Number, even though it is not yet a legal requirement. However, the provision of My Number information may soon become more strictly enforced for international money transfers.

The My Number system is likely to become compulsory for bank deposits and savings accounts in 2018, allowing the government to more closely monitor individual financial dealings.

Additionally, July 2017 has been the target date at which Japanese central and local governments are supposed to begin sharing My Number data on individual residents. Local municipalities are setting up computer networks intended to allow them to share such data with one another. Many doubts have been raised about the level of security that can be expected from this system.

The My Number system has been challenged in several lawsuits, first filed in December 2015, as being an unconstitutional infringement of individual privacy. At the time, Akahata quoted one of the plaintiffs as arguing, “We now have to put a stop to the My Number system. If we fail, we will become a society in which all personal data, including such matters as medical and job histories, are monitored by the state authorities through the use of these 12-digit identification numbers.”

Those cases are now working their way through the court system.

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