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Justice Ministry of Japan Intend to Integrate Immigration Control of Foreign Residents

     The eighth Ministerial Meeting Concerning Measures against Crime, presided by the Prime Minister, was held on 19 December 2006 to hear from its working teams about their deliberations on anti-crime measures.
     At the meeting, new institutional measures for the immigration control of foreign residents were proposed by the relevant working team. According to the plan, foreign residents will be excluded from the existing alien registration system and be covered by the immigration control system under the authority of the Minister of Justice. "Foreign resident cards" will be issued to them if they have not overstayed the permitted period of residence. The change will not apply to "special permanent residents", including those from the former Japanese colonies and their descendents, and temporary visitors. "Foreign resident cards" with IC chips will be issued by the Immigration Control Bureau within the framework of the existing alien registration system, in which foreign residents should notify local authorities of their name, date of birth, nationality, place of residence, family members as well as permitted period and status of residence.
     The government is likely to submit necessary draft amendments to the Alien Registration Law and the Immigration Control Law to the Diet session in 2008.
     The proposed policy are based on the perception of the working team that foreign residents are treated by the two-track systems, one under the Immigration Control Law (national affairs) and the other under the Alien Registration Law (municipal affairs commissioned by law). The working team also finds that review is only made when foreigners enter the country and renew their status of residence; in the meantime, the authorities cannot have sufficient understanding of any changes as well as actual situations of their stay and employment.
     On the other hand, strong concerns have been expressed about this kind of policies, which are likely lead to "tougher control" of foreign residents in Japan.
     The Ministerial Meeting Concerning Measures against Crime was formed in 2003 in order to ensure close collaboration among the relevant headquarters and administrative authorities and to promote effective and appropriate anti-crime measures in a comprehensive and active manner, with a view to re-establishing "Japan as the safest country in the world".

See: "The eighth Ministerial Meeting Concerning Measures against Crime", the website of the Prime Minister and His Cabinet [Japanese]