Japan's 'My Number' ID system causes more concern amid payment glitches, erroneous deliveries

Japan's 'My Number' national identification card system caused further concern following a number of new errors related to the system.

Japan's "My Number" national identification card system caused further concern following a number of new errors related to the system, with the government saying Tuesday that numerous cards were erroneously linked to the wrong cardholders' payment methods.

In the latest debacle involving the system's privacy concerns, 172 cards were erroneously linked to online payment methods, including those connected to credit cards of the wrong cardholders.

The results of a government survey regarding the errors that were linked to a state campaign to incentivize more people to sign up for their own My Number card showed that under the scheme where an applicant was given 20,000 yen (US$141) worth of points, vast numbers of errors occurred.

According to the survey, 172 errors related to the campaign were found in 131 municipalities, with 136 incidents of sensitive information being entered while a different person was still logged in to the system, and more than 30 cases where mistaken IDs were entered for payment purposes by the cardholder.

Among other cases adding to those plaguing the unpopular system, there were two cases in which ID cards were erroneously issued to people with the same names as the intended recipients, the government said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications claimed that the cards issued in error were not misused.

The ever-rising cases of errors regarding the cards, however, have punctuated the risk the cards present for being used fraudulently when it comes to receiving state benefits or tax-related duplicity.

"It was a mistake that should never have happened," Digital Minister Taro Kono told a press conference regarding the erroneous deliveries.

From a national points program associated with the cards being mistakenly awarded to the wrong recipients to instances of the cards being involved in private medical information and bank account mix-ups, the errors involving the cards have been expansive.

These have also included problems related to third-party supporting systems' malfunctions that store the highly sensitive data, stoking further concerns over data leaks that could be exploited, people's identities stolen and overall privacy rights breached.

According to a survey conducted by Kyodo News over the weekend, 71.6 percent of respondents said they were "worried" or "worried to some extent" about the expanding use of My Number cards.

The poll also showed that 72.1 percent were in favor of postponing or canceling the government's plan to scrap health insurance cards and incorporate them into the ID cards in the fall of next year.

The original My Number program was instituted to combine multiple governmental administrative systems into a single one, with every citizen and resident, including foreign nationals in Japan, being issued an individual 12-digit ID number.

In 2016, the My Number Card system was introduced to further streamline the process through digitalization, with the physical card embedded with an IC chip.

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