We received this in the mail this week.
One of the booklets says “In accordance with the partial amendment of the Basic Resident Registration Act, foreign residents will be eligible to receive a Residence Record (juminhyo)”. The alien registration act will be abolished in July, when this new system comes into effect.
I googled Juminhyo and found out that currently only Japanese citizens are listed, with foreigners, even those in the same household as Japanese citizens, are registered as aliens in another system. Japanese citizens are required to register in this system for tax, national health insurance, and census purposes. When proof of residence is required, such as opening a bank account or registering children in the local school district, you need a copy of this record from the local government office.
One controversy with the two tiered systems comes in international households when Japanese citizens are not listed along side non-Japanese household members. The booklets we received state that the reason for the change it to make administrative procedures in local government simpler and more convenient.
The Japan Times online (2/23/03) reported on a protest by foreign residents in Tokyo after a seal living in the bay was granted a residence ID card, but they were not eligible for one. The protesters dressed up as seals and painted on whiskers demanding the same rights as the stray seal.
From the mailing we received, it doesn’t look like we have to do anything. It says we will automatically be issued a Resident Record on the day the law comes into effect and there is no need to fill out any extra paperwork. There are instructions on what to do if we change our names or address or lose our cards. I will keep these booklets for informational purposes.