Interim Report Highlights Flaws in Administration of My Number Services

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and digital minister Taro Kono attend a meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday.

An interim report released Tuesday on problems with the My Number identification card system suggests the central government should have assumed responsibility for linking services to the ID instead of leaving the work in the hands of local governments and other institutions.

Different offices are responsible for registering different kinds of information. For example, municipal governments register information on individual households, while prefectural and municipal governments are in charge of registering information related to welfare benefits.

The government did not prepare standardized manuals for the registrations, and the interim report has revealed that different offices followed different procedures.

Some offices reportedly did not check cardholders’ identification numbers when registering health insurance and bank details.

At a press conference on Tuesday, reporters asked digital minister Taro Kono why so many mistakes were made in the process of registering details of My Number cardholders.

“Officials engaged in the registration work showed little awareness of the fact that so many people share the same names and birthdays among the 120 million people in the country,” he said.

The digital minister’s remarks could be interpreted as an attempt to shift responsibility onto others.

It is understandable that the government is expediting efforts to promote digitization as Japan is said to be lagging behind other countries in the field. But it must also bear responsibility for the failure to correct the system’s poor design and operation.

The government said it plans to take measures to prevent a recurrence of similar problems based on the findings from its inquiry so far, revising ministry ordinances and modifying one of the systems used.

But it cannot be denied that the image of the My Number card system has been tarnished due to the many problems.

Restoring public trust in the system will be a challenge.