Glitch leaves Japan IDs without digital signature

System used to imprint justice minister's digital signature on new foreign residence card suffers glitch, but cards without signatures still valid and counterfeiting difficult, says government representative.

A computer glitch has caused foreign residents in Japan to receive their new residence cards without the electronic signature authorized by the country's justice minister.

The glitch was discovered on Monday, which was the first day the Immigration Bureau began issuing IDs to replace alien registration cards, the Japan Times reported Wednesday. Although the error was not fixed on Tuesday, immigration officers nationwide continued to issue the cards, Eriko Tanizawa, a spokesperson for the justice bureau told the news site. 

It also resulted in many foreigners who had visited immigration offices in Japan having to wait until after 1pm on Monday, when cards without the digital signatures were eventually issued, according to Tanizawa.

Even though the minister's digital signature was imprinted to prevent counterfeiting, ID cards without the signatures were still deemed valid and would not pose inconvenience to card users, she said. She added card counterfeiting would be difficult even without the signature.

The immigration bureau was also trying to determine how many foreign residents in the country received cards without the signature, since some had opted to wait and receive cards with the signature through mail, Tanizawa said.

For the moment, the ministry has yet to decide whether to ask the people who got cards without the digital signature to get a replacement, or how and when to replace them if necessary, she noted.

Japan's new immigation control system which began on Monday had meant to consolidate the administrative processing of foreign residents under the Immigration Bureau, instead of municipal governments handling the administrative work, a seperate report by The Japan Times noted.