Friday, March 1, 2013

Abe Administration Submitted the Bill to Assign "Mai Nanbaa" (My Number) for Every Single Japanese, Likely to Pass With Ease

Nikkei Shinbun writes up an article telling people "Well, it's so good for you, it's for your (and bureaucrats') convenience in mind."

"Mai Nanbaa", or My Number if it were in English, but the word is actually what I would call "Japlish" - a strange class of words that uses English words but the original meaning of English word is totally lost on the Japanese. It's much like "Mai Kaa" or My Car, which is in Japan a car that you own for your private use.

"Mai Nanbaa" will be like "Mai Kaa", your own cute little number that goes with you wherever you go.

The same concept had been tried by politicians for decades, but each time it met a resistance. The concept had a different word assigned to it - 国民総番号制度, which literally says "Assigning every single citizen with ID number".

So, the politicians and those who are closely connected to the politicians got smart. First, they diluted and loosened the Japanese language with strange-sounding Katakana English (which I call "Japlish") so that no one can actually figure out exactly what these strange words mean. Then, they introduce this "Mai Nanbaa", without quite telling the citizens that it is a tired old effort given a new facade. Oh it's just like "Mai Kaa", it means it's just so you.

The Kan administration tried to push the "Mai Nanbaa" bill in June 2011, but Mr. Kan stepped down as the prime minister and the bill went nowhere.

The whole point of assigning every single citizen with ID number is to collect taxes more efficiently and ruthlessly, to detect the fraud (very rare in Japan), and most importantly, to save time for the bureaucrats as Nikkei gushes.

There doesn't seem to be any way to opt out.

From Nikkei Shinbun (3/1/2013; part):

「マイナンバー」16年から 税や年金手続き簡単に 政府が法案提出

"My Number" to be introduced in 2016, tax filing and pension application will be easier. The government has submitted the bill.


The national government will introduce "national identification number system" in 2016, which will assign one personal number to each citizen to manage social security payments like pension and health insurance and tax filing. The system will make social security application and tax filing easier, and will lead to accurate collection and distribution of taxes and social insurance premiums. Building of the government IT infrastructure for efficient administration and finance is set to start.


On March 1, the Abe administration approved the bill by cabinet decision, and submitted the bill to the National Diet. The original bill was abandoned because of the dissolution of the Lower House last year, but it has since been amended by Liberal Democratic Party, Komei Party and Democratic Party of Japan. It is highly likely that the bill will pass in the current ordinary session of the Diet, but it is possible that the passage is delayed depending on the situation toward the end of the session.


To efficiently install systems in ministries and agencies that will use the number system, a bill has also been submitted to create a position of inspector general of Cabinet Telecommunication Policy (Government Chief Information Officer) within the Cabinet Secretariat.


The advantage of the number system is that it will save a lot of trouble in complex administrative procedures.


By bundling multiple procedures of an individual into a single number, it will be possible to collect and distribute the proper amount of taxes and insurance premiums. The government [administration] believes it will be easier to prevent double application of tax exemption for dependents when two children each claim the exemption for the same mother.


Consideration will be given to privacy, and management of the numbers will be strict.

Two children claiming tax exemption for their mother? Big deal. Don't they have a better target to go after? Oh I forgot - a better target is an easy target.

Strict management to protect privacy. Sure.

The previous DPJ administration under Naoto Kan didn't even know they had the emergency teleconferencing system when the real big emergency hit them on March 11, 2011. The system remained unconnected. There is no reason for me to believe the LDP administration under the pork cutlet prime minister to be any different.


Anonymous said...

In Italy it is called "fiscal code"; it has been there for tens of years already. Of course, Italy being Italy, it did not lead at all to a decrease in tax evasion...

Anonymous said...

OT ( in french )

Men and nuclear

In 2002, the central works council at EDF had organized several forums on the reality of working in nuclear power plants. Employees, experts in the world of work, sociologists met to talk about what they lived, new forms of work organization, increased pressures. Mediapart received via Frenchleaks this documentary that was never released. The Central Works Council subsequently endorsed us the release of this film.

Anonymous said...

I thought everybody was number 1 in Japan. We're No.1....We're No.1....!!

MsCrebople said...

It is soon to be.... Were No.1...Were No.1....instead.

Apolline said...

Ultraman, this a broadcast on french mainstream radio, Europe 1, subtitled in english by my friend Kna (his blog is here :

Two days after the disaster, return to abnormal by ACRO (with some articles translated in english) :

NYUltraBuddha said...

Isn't this just basically like having a Social Security number?

Anonymous said...

NYUltra, no.

Apolline said...

Thank you, anonymous de 7h. Très intéressant.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

As I suspected, it didn't occur to some Japanese that this "Mai nanbaa" scheme is the same old "numbering every citizen" scheme that has been tried by the government for over several decades, finally set to pass thanks to the clever Katakana pseudo-English.

Anonymous said...

I expect this will make it easier for them to silence "baseless rumors".

Anonymous said...

I'm confused by how this isn't like the US social security numbers

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

There are people in the US who do not have social security numbers. For those who do, that number is not directly linked to your health insurance card, your bank accounts, your retirement accounts, your pension accounts, your tax ID number, your tax returns, your life insurance policy, your hospital information, your health data. Japan intends to have all that in one number for each citizen, which then will be centrally managed by the national government. The biometric photo ID card will be issued.

Closest the US may get is the system under Obamacare, where IRS will grab all such information.

NYUltraBuddha said...

Here's some more background in the story below explaining some of the concerns. I just looked this up. I didn't understand at first how this was different from a Social Security number, but the problem here is that under this system, all of these things will be linked together and controlled by the gov't. with the number as the key to unlock the info. Although in the US, all of the above usually uses the social for their own independent ID purposes, the information is not centralized and not controlled by the gov't. But in Japan under the mai nanbaa system it will be.

Scott said...

So renaming this unpopular bill with katakana was enough to fool the masses. It's like I'm surrounded by idiots. How does it magically become better just with a simple renaming that makes it sound cutesey and a little exotic. By the same token why not just do the same for scary irradiated food products and whatnot? The people seem easy enough to fool with this newspeak.

Anonymous said...

Japan's nambaa is up!
Mai bag-u, mai ro-do, mai ass-o.

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