Anyone else hear from their city hall recently?


Last week I got a draft 住民票 for me to peruse and check for errors, so at least my local government is on the ball regarding the new foreigner registration scheme. I thought it was interesting, however, that they sent me about six sheets of paper without a single word in any foreign language. I’m going in tomorrow to do a little bit of paperwork that they requested, so I think I will mention that PR does not necessarily mean fluent.

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  1. so I think I will mention that PR does not necessarily mean fluent.

    True. But by suggesting that, you are also just asking to have your inhabitance taxes raised as they hire folk to do the umpteen translations required to cover many of the bases.

    I can see why they wouldn’t have it in any foreign language because, up until now, there hasn’t been any real call for it to be so.

  2. As a non-PR, I did get an envelope with a few leaflets about the changes and what I should do. I think one was partially in English, I don’t really look for it anymore.

    While I also wouldn’t expect PRs to be fluent, I’d think they should be able to either figure things out or ask a J friend or family member or ask at city hall in Japanese. If one can’t manage that, perhaps one shouldn’t have PR.

    But this doesn’t account for those deemed extraordinary (or rich) enough to get PR far earlier than the rest of us. They might not have had the time to learn Japanese.

    But then again, the authorities think 3 years is enough time for a gaijin nurse working full time to become fluent, including medical kanji…

    Conclusion: J Immi policy makes no sense. :wink:

  3. Interesting. I haven’t gotten anything from my city hall (Tokyo Arakawa-ku) recently, but I did ask them about the new registration system when I renewed my gaijin card at the beginning of the year (fluke of timing that it came just as the new system was about to start, so I wanted to know if I’d need to get another new card in just a few months).

    After the woman at the city hall explained things (my current gaijin card is ok for now, but I need to switch to the new card within the next 3 years), she gave me some photocopied sheets spelling out the new rules in Japanese and English.

  4. I haven’t gotten anything in the mail (Osaka’s Naniwa-ku here) but I did get married at the ward office this week, and while I was there they had me fill out some paperwork to prepare for my 住民票.

  5. Am I mistaken – PR isn’t a prerequisite for a 住民票? I probably am… :headdesk:

    @chuckers: Good point! Perhaps I’ll just ask about the notification of change of satus – can it be done at City Hall, or do I have to head out to Immigration and do it in person?

  6. @Ken Y-N (aka Tepido Naruhodo):

    I hadn’t heard that PR was a requirement and hadn’t thought anything about it until you mentioned it.

    There is no mention of it here but just a brief scan over it seems to imply that anyone that has an ARC will get a 住民票. (There should be an English version of that page laying around on the site somewhere.)

    As it happens, as someone living in a different ward in Tokyo at the moment, I haven’t received anything as of yet.

  7. I got a thick letter from Tokyo/Nerima-ku at the start of the year with fairly detailed information on the new system in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. I do not have PR. Don’t have the info available right now but PR is definitely not a prerequisite – the system applies to anyone with a non-short-term “visa”.

  8. Laxman Sivaramakrishnan

    Wow, a 2nd post where little Kenny doesn’t take a potshot at Debito.

  9. Nothing for me has arrived yet (Gifu) but it should show up sooner or later. I still have to go down to City Hall anyway, with my wife, and have her take herself off her father’s 住民票 so she can be put on mine when it’s issued.

  10. I’ve had nothing in the post (a small city in western Tokyo). But I was in the city hall the other day for another reason and they told me they were sending out the drafts in May. They also gave me the information on a photocopied piece of paper in English and Japanese and the immigration leaflet about the new ARC replacement cards in Japanese/English/Korean/Mandarin was also available.

    It applies to anyone who is a resident – previously it was possible to get an ARC on a temporary visitor permit – not sure that will be case any more. I’ve only just managed to get work to understand that I don’t have a 住民票, so this will confuse them again next year. Is there any tangible benefit to this change? I guess the city have to have some sort of registration now they are no longer handling ARC registration, but I can’t see what real difference it makes to me.

  11. @Laxman Sivaramakrishnan:

    Relax Laxman, it’s nearly Just Be Cause time – bound to be some commentary here for you to complain about soon- keep hitting that refresh button.

  12. @Nogbad: :lol: I see his taster is up – more hate and paranoia at the system. (Hey big Laxxy – are you happy now?)

  13. beneaththewheel

    Debito’s not admitting to any movement in a last article of the year. Too bad.

    Looks like he’s using JT to write out parts of his research he’s doing. It’s starting to go incredibly close to my own research.

    Funny thing (I don’t necessarily mean this as a dig), I’m getting my shit torn a part every month or so from my professor, doctorate students (my senpai), or a panel of professors. His stuff to me reads as interesting tidbits, but nothing that would really hold up as academic. It’s none of my business, but I’m curious what Debito’s supervisors think of his work.

    Also, asking the obvious quesiton: what’s the big deal about a 住民票? Better question: what is a 住民票? I remember I needed a substitute form (as a foreigner) when applying for grad school, but that’s the only time it came up.

  14. @beneaththewheel:

    “His stuff….. nothing that would really hold up as academic. It’s none of my business, but I’m curious what Debito’s supervisors think of his work.”


    And after more than 20 years in Japan, it is surprising all the reference books are in English.


  15. @beneaththewheel:

    A 住民票 is perhaps a small step towards equal treatment as Japanese (ironically, the passage of this law was something Debito fought AGAINST.)

    One of the advantages I can think of (which may or may not actually hold true) is that for a lot of documentation (house loans etc.) you need to provide a copy of 住民票 or 外国人登録原票.

    Where I live, you can get a copy of a 住民票 at satellite branches of the ward office and can be had from a sort of vending machine. 外国人登録原票 is only available at the ward office proper or some small select annexes of the 区役所 which requires talking to a real person and very often doesn’t have office hours in keeping with being able to get a copy of it unless I leave work a bit earlier than ought to be necessary.

    That is, assuming, that places that want this info will accept a 外国人住民票. They should. Eventually.

  16. @Ken Y-N (aka Tepido Naruhodo): Looking forward to this one – not sure I understand his issues with the points/nurses additional systems and what he proposes as a better idea. Hoping this will make it clear.

  17. @chuckers:
    No automatic vending machines in my nearest outstation so this won’t apply to me. But I have very rarely needed this sort of document anyway.


    I guess one advantage is it simplifies Japanese/foreigner mixed households where there are currently two separate registrations for one family, particularly with children children involved. I wonder what the drafts will default to as to the head of the new household in these cases? Personally, I don’t see it making a big difference and I think it is only being done as cities are having their current registration system for foreigners taken away and they don’t want to miss out on their local taxes so they have to get foreigners on their books somehow. Probably it hurt some people’s pride not to be head of the household before and felt discriminatory not to included as an equal on residency records, so it may make some foreigners happier; but thinking about it, I can’t see much difference other than an extra document to take to immigration for residency renewals.

  18. @:


    That’s what I’ve been saying about English language criticism of Japan for a long time now.

    (a) Foreign Japan researchers NEED to start engaging with Japanese social sciences/cultural studies research in Japanese

    (b) Those who won’t/can’t/don’t should be cut off at the knees and have their work consigned to the trivial “woah, Japayan sho is crazy, dey sell nickas in da vending masheens” column inches on blogs and in newspapers.

  19. @Nogbad: That’s just it. It is extremely unlikely he will offer up any reasonable solution. He will simply complain that it’s to much, not enough, the right thing to do, the wrong thing to do, etc. as the mood hits him. Taking an actual stand and offering a suggestion, that’s just crazy talk!

  20. @Nogbad:

    Probably it hurt some people’s pride not to be head of the household before and felt discriminatory not to included as an equal on residency records, so it may make some foreigners happier; but thinking about it, I can’t see much difference other than an extra document to take to immigration for residency renewals.

    Yes, the change is largely symbolic, when you get right down to it, but there is something to be said for symbolism on occasion. There is something to be said in being legally considered on the same footing as everybody else, instead of being relegated to the 備考 column. I’m not really the type to fight for such things, because ultimately it matters little in my everyday life… but I can’t help but acknowledge a perceptible feeling of thankfulness that it’s moving in that direction.

  21. Here’s Mr Arudou on The Juminhyo Problem.

    The new system answers every complaint he had in that article, at least. :idea:

  22. I have a feeling that I’ll probably lean towards debito’s side on this.
    The point system basically seems designed to give preference to people who would have gotten preference anyway.

    Still, debito will probably make some silly blunders in logic. (I also predcit the Sun will rise in the East.)
    These can be picked at when it becomes a post.

    Debito logic vs. immigration policy logic.. ?

  23. Tony Now In Taipei (getting around!)

    Went through Haneda Immigration yesterday, they had a handout at each immigration booth about this. Is there anywhere I can upload a scan when I get home next week?

  24. @Jerry:

    I’m fully satisfied now. Oh wait, no I still have no idea about his issues or his solution.

  25. @The 2-Belo:

    I’ve thought of another advantage. Maybe minor, but I’ve come across family travel insurance before that defined a family as people in the same household; thus a mixed family wouldn’t qualify as not on the same 住民票, whereas anyone Japanese living at the same address could. So being a legal family unit may have some bonus points. I agree that the symbolic status is important – and more because that there wasn’t really any reason for separating foreign/Japanese residency registration previously. I also wonder how registration for health insurance and city taxes will mesh with this system.

    @Ken Y-N (aka Tepido Naruhodo):

    Maybe this is a good thing Debito and others have contributed to: there has been greater awareness of entering foreign spouse/parent in the 備考 section. With this mention of the foreigner, however degrading it may feel, this document has can do the job of connecting families in many circumstances, at least in my experience. Proper inclusion on a 住民票 will be better, less discriminatory, and will make things smoother when dealing with Japanese officials that do not understand the foreigner systems. Just have to wait for inclusion on a spouse’s 戸籍謄本 now!

  26. I’ve just received a letter from my city hall about the changes – 2 typed sides of A4, mostly explaining (badly) the immigration changes and informing me to expect a 住民票 draft in May. Also enclosed was this information translated into “English”: unfortunately, this didn’t make any sense at all and the “English” version strangely said it was only for special permanent and permanent residents. No idea why they couldn’t just send out the multi-lingual cartoon leaflet prepared by immigration or even get their document checked by a native speaker. A short/mid term resident without Japanese language ability in my city may get the wrong end of the stick about the changes, whereas if they had just sent out a Japanese version, they could at least ask a friend to explain it to them.

    Incidentally, it does appear that people entering on a visa waiver won’t be able to get the ARC replacement or register on a 住民票. I wonder if this will make it harder for people entering as a temporary visitor and trying to establish themselves in Japan – either to get a job and switch to a resident status later or stay on illegally.

  27. Arakawa Ward finally sent theirs out this week.