My Number in Japan 2021 Update: What you’ll be able to do with your My Number Card in the next few years

In this post we give an update on the My Number system as of April 2021.

Japan started implementing My Number in 2016 as part of a larger effort to unify the social security, tax, and other administrative systems into one system, with a single identifying number for each resident.

Everyone resident (not tourist) of Japan has a 12-digit individual number (or My Number), but only about 26% of people have a My Number card. For a primer on the difference between the two, please see this article: My Number Card in Japan Explained.

You aren’t required to apply for a My Number card, but eventually, the Japanese government wants everyone to have one, because when it is fully implemented the My Number card system is supposed to streamline and simplify various administrative procedures; and to make distribution of social welfare benefits and tax collection more fair.

Below we give an overview of what you can currently do with a My Number card and the government’s plans for what you’ll be able to do with your My Number card in the next few years.

Use your My Number card as a form of ID

  • When: Now

Your My Number card can be used to certify your Individual Number (kojin bango) and as an official ID card.

Get official documents at a convenience store digital kiosk

  • When: Now but availability varies by municipality

In most municipalities around Japan, you can use your My Number card to get various administrative documents (for example, a proof of registered seal or inkan shoumeisho) at electronic kiosks in convenience stores 24/7 so you don’t have to go to your city or ward office to request routine documents.

Get up to ¥5,000 points back when you register for My Point

  • When: Until September 30, 2021, but you must link your My Card by April 30, 2021

The My Point system

Last year, the government started trying to incentivize people to switch to using e-payments (rather than cash) and to get more people to get a My Number card by introducing the My Point system. This is an incentive scheme in which you can link an IC card, credit card, or QR code payment method to your My Number card and receive up to ¥5,000 points back. The deadline for applying for the My Point system has been extended to April 30, 2021. You can shop to earn points until September 30, 2021.

Please visit the official My Point website for more information (in Japanese)

Use your My Number card in place of a health insurance card

When: Was scheduled to start in March 2021 ==> Now postponed

Starting in at the beginning of March, 19 medical clinics and pharmacies in 11 prefectures around Japan started accepting the My Number card as an alternative to a health insurance card. The My Number card is supposed to confirm the patient’s health insurance information so that you don’t have to present your health insurance card when getting medical care.

Initially, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare planned to start nationwide implementation of this new function of the My Number card by the end of March 2021.

However, as of the end of March, the ministry decided to postponed full-scale implementation of the health insurance card function because there were cases where the My Number card did not correctly confirm the patient’s health insurance information.

The plan is to install machines that can read My Number cards at about 60% of medical institutions nationwide by the end of March, but as of February 21st, only 32.8% of medical institutions had applied to have the system installed. Nationwide, there are about 54 medical institutions where patients can currently use their My Number card in place of their health insurance card.

Once the system fully goes online, the My Number card will allow you to:

  • Deduct medical expenses on your annual tax returns (kakutei shinkoku, 確定申告) if you file online
  • Automatically be reimbursed for “high-cost medical expenses” (kougaku iryouhi, 高額療養費), without having to submit a separate application. In a given month, if you have paid more out-of-pocket in medical expenses than a certain set amount, health insurance will reimburse the overage to you; but currently, you would have to submit an application to claim this.
  • To view the results of your medical exams and prescriptions online.

Privacy of personal medical information

If patients use the My Number card in place of their health insurance card, medical institutions will be able to see information on specific medical exams and medicines previously prescribed, with the consent of the patient.

The Ministry of Health says that the goal is to lead to more appropriate medical treatment and drug prescriptions. For example, if a patient is treated at one medical facility but then goes to another for additional treatment or a different medical issue, the second facility currently relies on the patient’s to accurately and fully explain his or her previous treatment. This may not be as reliable as being able to directly access the patient’s records from the first medical facility.

Currently, using the My Number card, only the results of specific medical exams can be viewed. Starting this October, a patient’s past prescriptions will also be viewable with the card; and starting the summer of 2022, the card will be able to access past medical institutions visited and treatments received.

This, of course, brings up the issue of ensuring the privacy of personal information. The Ministry of Health says that the card itself does not contain any medical information and that a PIN is needed to access any records associated with the card.

Access your medical records and medical/health insurance expenses

When: Fall 2021

By the fall of this year, the government plans to upgrade functionality of the My Number card system to allow people to check their drug prescription information, information on specific medical exams, and medical and health insurance expenses through the online My Number portal site.

Deduct eligible medical expenses when filing taxes online

  • When: Not yet specified
  • The government wants to make it easier for you to claim deductions for medical expenses.
  • Please note that as of this writing, this function will likely only be available in Japanese.
  • To claim expenses, authenticate your identity using your My Number ID when you file income taxes online at the National Tax Agency website.
  • Click the “Medical Expenses Notification” button and all your medical expenses for the year will be displayed.
  • You will be able to declare all eligible expenses online at this point.

At university and to look for work

When: Starting in 2022

Starting in 2022, the government plans to add more functionality to the My Number card and to further promote use of the card in other areas of life.

For example, national universities in Japan will be encouraged to have students use the My Number card.

The card will also be able to be used as a Hello Work card. Hello Work is the Japanese government’s Employment Service Center. It operates an online database of recent job offers accessible to job seekers and manages unemployment insurance benefits for both Japanese and foreign unemployed workers.

The My Number card will also be able to function as an electronic Job Card (ジョブカード). This is a “life time” career planning and record keeping system for job seekers to record their job skills and proficiencies maintained by the Ministry of Labor. The goal is take this to digitize the system via the My Number card.

The construction industry (in which there is a long-term labor shortage) also plans to cooperate with the government to use the My Number card in its career advancement system.

Integration with Android Phones

When: Starting in 2022

There are plans to integrate My Card functionality into Android phones starting in 2022.

Integration of My Number Card and driver’s license

When: By the end of 2024

The government plans to integrate driver’s licenses into the My Number card by the end of 2024.

Overseas Use

When: After 2024

There are plans to enable digital voting via the My Number card, so that Japanese citizens can vote online when they are living overseas. Obviously, the voting function does not apply to residents of Japan who aren’t citizens.

Use your My Number card for various financial / banking services

  • When: In progress
  • The government plans to actively promote measures to link personal financial services to your My Number card.

Sources: NHK News (in Japanese); Nikkei, March 25, 2021 (in Japanese); My Point official site (in Japanese)

Lead image: A woman stands on a subway platform in Tokyo, iStock 1235483449, Credit: Shalom Rufeisen

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