Some changes are coming for foreigners living in Japan, which will be welcome indeed. Gaijin -- the word literally means "outsiders" -- living in Japan must naturally be registered with the Japanese government, and since 1952 foreigners have been issued an "alien registration card" which records the pertinent information Japanese officials might need access to. Now this card is going away, replaced by a streamlined ID card that embeds various information about the cardholder in an IC chip. The new cards go out of their way to abolish the word "alien" (which a lot of people disliked) fingerprint information is also kept out of the registry system entirely (since it made honest foreigners feel like criminals). The new registration system brings many improvements, including increasing the length of stay for most types of visa-holders and ending the requirements that zainichi ("residing in Japan") Koreans and Chinese, were were born in Japan but maintain Korean and Chinese citizenship for cultural and/or political reasons, carry ID cards at all. Best of all, the "re-entry stamps" most foreign residents had to get before leaving the country (which required a day waiting in line at the local immigration office and cost $60 a year) are eliminated. The goal of the new system is to make gaijin feel more welcome in Japan and hopefully reverse the trend for foreigners leaving, just as the country needs them most.
A new foreigner registration system for Japan.