Each year the Japan Centre for Local Autonomy issues its "Local Government System in Japan, English-Language Series." This year we issue "The Basic Resident Registration System", which is one of the current hottest issues in Japan.
Nowadays the situation of local government has been changing dramatically, and the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications promotes various kind of innovation such as the Basic Resident Registration Network System and decentralisation. Hopefully this booklet might give an outline of the current situation of the Japanese local administration system.
The Japanese manuscript was edited by staff members with expertise in local autonomy of the Ministry, and the translation into English was also entrusted to other staff members of the Ministry. I would like to express our special thanks to all those who have played an important role in publishing this book.
Finally, I would also like to express our appreciation to the Nippon Foundation, which has provided not only financial contribution for the publication but continuous assistance.
Japan Centre for Local Autonomy
Part 1 The Basic Resident Registration System
1 The history of the Basic Resident Registration System
<1> Significance of the Basic Resident Registration System
All the municipalities in Japan have their Basic Resident Registration. All the people in the municipality are registered as residents on the Basic Resident Registration and receive several public services from the municipalities. For example, a ballot is sent to the resident from the municipality without any procedure. When a son or daughter reaches the age to enter an elementary school, his or her parents are informed when and which school the son or daughter should enter. Other than these services, municipalities provide many public services by their personal identification with their Basic Resident Registration.
The summary of the Basic Resident Registration System is provided as follows:
(1) Municipalities need to have their Basic Resident Registration and always maintain the precise registration of the positions as residents. By using this Basic Resident Registration, municipalities executes some administrative activities about the residents.
Basic Resident Registration consists of Residents Cards for a household or an individual. Residents' notification or municipalities' official authorities can register a resident's name, permanent domicile, address, registration on the Voters List, any information for the qualification in National Health Insurance, Nursing Care Insurance, and Government Pension Plan. Residents' notification or municipalities' official authorities can also allow people to inspect a copy of parts of the registered information and to provide a copy of Resident Card.
(2) In order to keep the accuracy of the Basic Resident Registration, municipalities must keep labeling system for Family Registration which connects the Basic Resident Registration and Family Registration.
(3) Japanese laws request residents to notify their change of their address to a mayor. The Notification requested by the Basic Resident Registration Law covers all the other requested notifications such as National Health Insurance, Nursing Care Insurance, and Government Pension Plan.
However, any prefectural office or any national governmental organization does not have similar system as the Basic Resident Registration. Therefore, when a prefectural office or a national governmental organization needs to use the Personal Identification Information to provide several public services to the residents, residents are requested to obtain a copy of the Resident Card and to submit it as a supplementary document. The "Basic Resident Registration Network System" started on August 5, 2002. This Network System intends to improve the level of the public services to residents and to rationalize the administrative activities through national and local governments through the rapid development of the information technology. This Network System makes the Basic Resident Registration a common system among local governments and allows not only municipalities but also prefectural offices and national organizations to obtain the Personal Identification Information which is common in all the Japanese areas.
Because the Basic Resident Registration system originally comes from the Family Registration system, the following parts shows the changing history from the Family Registration system to the Basic Resident Registration system, and the developing history of the Basic Resident Registration system thereafter. The latter includes the introduction of the Basic Resident Registration Network System.
<2> From the Family Registration system to the Basic Resident Registration system
Article one of the Family Registration Law (April 4, 1871) says "Leaders or sub-leaders in any local area must divide the area into several small areas and register any birth or death, coming and leaving of the people." The Family Registration at that time was made with the household as its unit at the address in residents' living area. The Family Registration can provide the information of the number of the residents, households, death, birth, coming, and leaving. Therefore, the Family Registration can be regarded as registration system for both resident information and status information.
However, the frequent domestic movement of the people after 1868, the Family Registration system could survive as only status registration system and could not keep the function of the resident registration. Based on this change, Ordinance No. 19 and 20 of the Ministry of Interior (1886) and the temporarily living law (1912) established the temporarily living system to register the people who have living address other than the Permanent Domicile for more than 90 days. However, because it was common knowledge that the temporary living registration card was not encouraged to be submitted, administrative works for temporary living registration did not often follow the legal requests. The Resident Registration Law (Law No. 218 in 1951) took over the Household Registration made for executing the rationing system in municipalities all over Japan. The Basic Resident Registration Law (Law No. 81 in 1967) was planned and enacted based on the "Report regarding the Rationalization of Resident Registration System" which the "Research Committee for Rationalizing Resident Registration System" led by the leader Mr. Syouzaburo Sugimura submitted to the Prime Minister Eisaku Sato on Mar. 18, 1966 after 2 years' research and discussion.
The reasons why the Japanese government needed to enact the Basic Resident Registration Law with abolishing the Residents Registration Law was clearly shown in detail in the "1. Basic Principle". This "Basic Principle" was shown below as a historical record.
Because municipalities must execute the administrative works for the public works which directly influence on the residents' lives, municipalities need to grasp the exact conditions of the residents. Therefore, current laws request residents to compulsorily provide notification for the changes of the address etc. and requests municipalities to positively investigate the conditions of the residents and to keep some registration information accurate based on the information obtained by the provided notification and investigation.
However, current laws requests residents to compulsorily provide notification for each of resident registration, National Health Insurance, Government Pension Plan, food distribution, election, resident tax, and other administrative services. And, current laws requests municipalities to investigate the conditions of the residents and to keep some registration information accurate based on these obtained information. This system makes some problems which are pointed out as followings:
First of all, the residents' notifications to municipalities are overlapped and are not united. Governments must make every effort to lighten the residents' burden for notification. For example, residents' notifications for public services must be minimal. The notification procedures must be through the same municipal windows. Municipalities must complete the administrative works during shortened time period. However, current several laws request residents to provide several notifications for each of the same fact such as birth, death, and the change of the address. For example, when a resident comes to a municipality and change the address in the municipality, the resident must some notifications such as entrance notification based on Article 22, Paragraph 1 of the Resident Registration Law (Law No. 218 in 1951), the qualification notification as the insured person based on Article 9, Paragraph 1 of the National Health Insurance Law (Law No. 192 in 1958), the notification of the address change of the insured person based on Article 12, Paragraph 1 of the Government Pension Plan Law (Law No. 141 in 1959), change notification of the address based on the Food Distribution Law (Law No. 40 in 1942).
In addition, although the Resident Registration Law does not request residents to provide notifications for their change of the address and the notifications are actually done by the municipalities where the residents newly lives, Article 9, Paragraph 1 and 2 of the National Health Insurance Law request the residents to provides the notification of the lost qualification as the insurance person and the Food Distribution Law requests the residents to provide the notification for the change of the address.