Hiroshi Arimitsu of Yomiuri Shimbun reports:
The government has announced plans for a comprehensive identification system to be implemented in 2015. The state has high hopes for the program, including improving social services and achieving equity in tax burdens, although privacy issues are a looming concern.
A government panel headed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan released the ID plan Friday.
The draft plan is the work of a preparatory study group of the panel, the Council for a Number System for Social Security and Taxation. Official go-ahead is expected to be given in a plenary session Monday, with a detailed plan, tentatively titled Outline for Social Security and Taxation Number System, to be finalized in June, according to government officials.
A bill on the ID system would then be submitted to an extraordinary Diet session in the fall, the officials said.
The ID system would be wide-ranging, covering pension premiums and benefits, medical services, social security programs and tax returns.
Each citizen would be covered by the system, as well as medium- and long-term foreign residents and those with permanent residency, according to the basic plan. Everybody will be given a unique number, likely based on the current resident register number.
The system would store personal information such as name, date of birth, address, gender, annual income and number of dependents, the basic plan said. Registered corporate bodies, estimated at 2 million nationwide, would also be subject to the ID system.
Read more on Yomiuri Shimbun.
In an editorial published before the official announcement of the plan, editors of The Asahi Shimbun had written:
More than anything else, it is important to take effective safety measures including steps to prevent leaks of personal information.
In its interim report released late last year, the government’s working group on the policy initiative proposed an array of measures to protect personal information. They include the establishment of a system that allows citizens to know who accessed their information and when. The panel also proposed the creation of an independent body to monitor the uses of the ID number system and the enactment of legislation to ban uses for purposes other than those designated and to mete out rigorous punishments for violations. Preventing the unauthorized use or disclosure of this personal data is absolutely essential.
Another challenge is to create a plan to ensure effective remedial measures will be taken quickly when a breach occurs to limit the damage.
Read more on Asahi Shimbun.