Despite protests by academicians and citizen activists, Japan has launched a compulsory identification system that will assign each of its Japanese citizens an 11-digit identification number. This new database will store not only the identification numbers for Japan’s 126 million citizens, but also their names, addresses, dates of birth, gender, and other general information. This has not come about without protests and much vocal opposition.
At least five Tokyo municipalities have openly refused to join the identification network, with one official performing a public ceremony with his mouse, clicking it to symbolically “sever” his town’s connection with the identification network. Other cities have announced that they will permit their citizens to choose whether to join the identification network. Citing fears of invasion of privacy, hacking of personal data for improper purposes, and that this information could be improperly used by the government, several legal experts and Professors at prominent universities have likened the mandatory identifications numbers and the central system as comparable to the assignment of ID numbers to the Jews and other outcasts by Hitler’s Nazis in the 1930s and 40s. Despite these protests, those Japanese citizens who have not specifically “opted out” from the database system will be sent their assigned 11-digit identification numbers by the end of August.