EDITORIAL: My Number Step toward Fair, Effective Way to Manage Social Security System

Article excerpt

The key foundation for the government to fairly and effectively impose taxes and provide social security benefits is finally set to be established.

It is vital to thoroughly inform people of the new system and make it conducive to improving convenience for the public.

At a plenary session Friday, the House of Councillors passed bills for the so-called My Number system, under which people will be given identification numbers. The bills were supported by three major parties--the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and the Democratic Party of Japan--and other parties. With the legislation passed into law, the system will start operating in 2016.

Most developed countries already have similar numbering systems. Japan lagged in taking such a step, but we welcome the fact that a numbering system will be launched in Japan, too.

Public concerns eased

The My Number system is intended to allow administrative bodies to better manage social security and taxation information by issuing a number card with a facial photo and an IC chip to Japanese citizens.

Under the system, personal information about multiple subjects can be obtained simply with the individually assigned numbers. This is expected to improve the efficiency of administrative work.

The system can integrate records of people's income and benefits they receive and premiums they pay for pension, health care and nursing care.

It is likely to help prevent failure to pay pension benefits and other administrative errors. To provide substantial administrative services, this system is essential.

The benefits are also significant for citizens, as they will not be required to submit documents such as residence and income certificates when applying for pension and other welfare benefits. The system will enable cardholders to check their own records of pension and tax payments on computers.

Previously, the introduction of such a system had met with criticism, with opponents saying personal information might not be secure. They also complained that a national code-number system would allow the uniform management of personal data by the government.

The My Number system bills were enacted in light of the stable operation of the Basic Resident Registration Network, or Juki Net, which was launched in 2002.

Juki Net, which enables the sharing of personal records nationwide by numbering all Japanese citizens, has improved public services for people and the efficiency of administrative work. For the more than 10 years since its introduction, the system has seen no serious information leaks or other trouble. This apparently has eased public concerns over the new system.

The new common number system will be set up based on Juki Net.

The fact that the DPJ, which had opposed the introduction of Juki Net, came to power in 2009 could be a big factor behind the legislation of the common number system. The administration of Yoshihiko Noda compiled bills for the system based on its policy of promoting integrated reform of the social security and tax systems, highlighting a consumption tax hike. …