共通番号法成立 公正な社会保障へ大きな一歩

The Yomiuri Shimbun May 26, 2013
My Number step toward fair, effective way to manage social security system
共通番号法成立 公正な社会保障へ大きな一歩(5月25日付・読売社説)


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.

The bills cleared the Diet on Friday after being revised by the LDP, New Komeito and the DPJ. The three parties are responsible for pushing social security reforms together.

The application of the common number system will be limited to social security and tax procedures for the time being. Care must be taken in applying the system while attaching importance to protection of personal information.

Medical care applications

The convenience of the system can be further enhanced if its application is extended to medical care information.

Resident cards and clinical records were lost after local government offices and hospitals were damaged in the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011, hampering work to rescue disaster victims. If the common number system is used in such an event, access from anywhere in the country would make it possible to confirm victims’ medical history and provide adequate treatment promptly.

In ordinary times, use of the system would make it possible for patients to avoid duplication of examinations and medication at two or more hospitals. It would also help prevent the risk of prescribing two or more incompatible medicines to the same patient, which could cause dangerous interactions.

The government is studying a plan to introduce a system to cap each household’s expenses for medical treatment, nursing care and child care, thereby curbing their copayments. The common number system is indispensable to achieve this goal.

The new law stipulates that expansion of the range for application will be studied three years after the law is enforced. The government must strive to realize an effective application of the system.

In the United States, where the Social Security number system is in place, a number of scams have occurred in which numbers were stolen to take out loans in identity-theft crimes.

And in South Korea, resident registration numbers were leaked via the Internet, resulting in a number of cases of fraud in which identity thieves bought things using others’ numbers.

In both cases, insufficient effort was made to ensure proper identification to protect against identity theft.

A credible system eyed

Drawing a lesson from these cases, the government must work out countermeasures.

To help prevent identity theft and other crimes, the new law stipulates that individual number cards with ID photos should be presented for over-the-counter identification. The law also stipulates penalties for those who leak information outside.

As a third-party organization with a high degree of independence, a specific personal information protection commission will be established. The planned body will have strong investigative authority and be empowered to issue recommendations and orders if irregularities are discovered.

All possible measures must be taken to ensure adequate management of personal information so that the common numbering system will be trusted by the people.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 25, 2013)
(2013年5月25日01時15分 読売新聞)

srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク



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