My Number: How It Works and What to Expect

  • Finally, Japan has launched its first social security and tax identification number (dubbed “My Number”) which will take effect in January 2016. This new identification system has a unique 12-digit ID that will be assigned to each citizen that will remain unchanged for his or her lifetime. Given the fast growing demand of information, the government saw the need for a quick flow and access of information to facilitate the management of social security, taxes, disaster relief and other public services to all citizens of the country.

    How it Works


    This new social security system is a paradigm shift from user-to-agency-initiated delivery of services. There are three basic components in this new ID system: My Number ID, personal number cards and My Portal.

    The My Number ID is limited to administrative purposes such as taxes, social security and emergency management. Personal number cards will be given once the registration process is completed. This personal number card uses chip technology to secure a transaction via public key encryption. Users will be able to make private transactions without revealing their actual personal numbers, allowing other industries to develop various technological applications while minimizing information security risks. Take for example the case of the online banking system.


    A secured website called My Portal serves as the access platform for each citizen’s personal and financial information, account activity, login history, government benefits or services application, and notifications and updates from public agencies. While the basic functions of this website include administrative notifications, digital mailboxes, and payment processing, other functions will be included later in the development of the system. In addition, other links to various public and private services will be provided.

    Nothing to Lose But More to Gain


    According to the Headquarters of the Government and Ruling Parties for Social Security Reform, here are the following benefits offered by the ID number system.

    1. Accurate and efficient tracking and sharing of information on social security contributions and payouts of each individual member to avoid underpayment, overpayment, duplication of benefits and assessment of taxable income.

    2. Easy access on checking tax and social security records and application status of service or benefits.

    3. Paperless transactions on income tax returns, resident registries, and other pertinent documents needed when applying for benefits and services.

    4. Integration of various functions of different ID cards such as health insurance cards, pension booklets, and other social services.

    5. Through the personal number card, one can also access My Portal to store records of offline transactions.

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    The 7 things that you should carry at all times when living in Japan