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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Glitch leaves new IDs lacking key signature


Staff writer

A computer glitch forced many foreign residents to receive their new "zairyu" residence cards without the electronic signature of the justice minister Monday, the first day the Immigration Bureau began issuing the IDs to replace alien registration cards.

News photo
Chore over: A Vietnamese resident of Japan receives his residence card Monday afternoon after a long wait at the immigration office in Narita International Airport. KYODO

The cards without the minister's electronic signature are valid and will pose no inconvenience for their holders, the ministry said Tuesday, although the signature is meant to prevent counterfeiting.

"Counterfeiting the cards is extremely difficult even without the signature," bureau spokeswoman Eriko Tanizawa said.

The glitch in the system to imprint the electronic signature was not fixed Tuesday, so immigration offices nationwide continued issuing the cards without it, she said.

The Immigration Bureau was trying to calculate how many foreign residents received the cards without the signature. Some opted to wait and receive their card with the signature by mail, Tanizawa said.

The ministry has yet to decide whether to ask the people who got a card without the signature to get a replacement later, or how and when to replace them should replacement be deemed necessary, she said.

The glitch started after the bureau began issuing the new registration cards Monday, causing many foreigners who had flocked to immigration offices nationwide to wait until cards without the signature started to be issued after around 1 p.m., according to Tanizawa.

The new immigration control system that began Monday is meant to consolidate the administrative processing of foreign residents under the Immigration Bureau instead of having municipal governments handle some of the administrative work.

Eight regional bureaus, six district immigration offices and 63 branch offices are issuing the residence cards. Applicants visit the venues, fill out an application and receive the card the same day.

Foreigners arriving in Japan through Narita International Airport, Tokyo International Airport at Haneda, Central Japan International Airport and Kansai International Airport are being asked to obtain a residence card at the airport, unless they enter on a tourist visa.

Those who enter via other locations will be asked to go to their nearest local immigration office in 14 days after their address in Japan is determined.



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