Japan’s National Digital Identity Initiative Stumbles

Japan, a nation often lauded for its advanced technological infrastructure and policy, has hit what seems to be a major roadblock when it comes to implementing a national digital identity program, called My Number. More than a year in, it’s only reached about a third of its citizenry.

The major cause for the sluggish integration? The Japan Agency for Local Authority Information Systems, which was hit with a series of computer glitches, delaying its production of ID cards.
The digital identity system allows its users to access not only taxes, health records, and social security but also — starting this summer — child care, library services, and even shopping.

The Japanese government has reached out to Estonia for advice on its digital identity scheme. “I have met Japanese Prime Minister Abe on those issues and Japan is the biggest country that has a digital identity – they call it the MyNumber. There are not many people using it, but they have taken the first steps”, Estonia’s former Prime Minister, Taavi Rõivas, told GovInsider.

Blockchain is used to secure a portion of Estonia’s e-services, including health records. According to the Japan Times, out of 30 million My Number ID cards, only 9.83 have been allocated. For now, the identity sector must wait and see if Estonia’s blockchain strategy can be translated to Japan.