The current alien registration system in Japan allows foreigners to adopt a Japanese "nickname". "Nickname" sounds very informal, but what it is is an official alternate name that can be used on any legal documents not related to immigration.
The info about the new registration system has been released ::HERE::. Worryingly, on page 15, it says that these legal nicknames will no longer appear on our cards. This is problematic because I’ve always used my registration card to prove that my kanji name is real when using it on documents (I bought my house under my Japanese name).
I do have it as well as a note on the back of my driver’s license (glad I put it on there, now), but in the past, pulling out my alien registration card was an easy way of proving my name. I can probably still use my driver’s license for this, but what about people who don’t have driver’s licenses? Does that mean carrying some kind of paper certificate around whenever you might have to sign or hanko something? Is that certificate even available to us? (I wouldn’t know: never had to use it.)
There are a few things to like about the new system (longer periods of stay, for instance, although that no longer affects me much), a few things to worry about (the rules for re-entry of under a year look a bit fuzzy; enforcement (see below)), and a few things to dislike (more trips to immigration, which since a few years ago in Yokohama, has been relocated from downtown to the sticks). On the whole, it seems like a net loss to me. My main concern is that by tying the card directly to immigration and decoupling it from municipal authorities, the penalties for not following the rules will be enforced more harshly.
For instance, if you change jobs in Japan, you’re supposed to notify immigration within 30 days. In the rush of leaving one job, looking for work, finding work, and starting a new job, it’s sometimes possible to end up with a gap of a few days or a few weeks when you’re between jobs and over the 30-day limit. In the old days, the municipal workers didn’t blink twice. My concern is that people will start being penalized (i.e. deported) for minor violations of this sort, the way they are now for overstaying their visa by one day (which is negligent, but also not impossible to do when dealing with flying out to a country on the other side of the dateline). As a permanent resident (who is freelance), I don’t think this affects me, but I am worried about the consequences of the new system. The old system wasn’t perfect, but it was old, and we understood how it worked, in practice.