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In 2016, the Japanese Government announced that each resident would have a personal Japanese Id Card number which can be associated to a plastic card upon the citizen’s request. Each time a resident relocates to a new address, City Halls across the country would print the new address on the My Number Card. Today, over 200 City Halls in Japan use an Evolis card printer to print citizens’ new addresses when they move.

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Substituting to some extent for a national ID card, which is not mandatory in Japan, My Number Card enables the Japanese Government to identify residents and to simplify administrative procedures. When a citizen relocates, the card has to be updated with the new address. Writing space for the new address on My Number Card is limited, and if civil servants hand write the addresses, it can be time consuming and inevitably leads to errors. Since handwriting is not reliable enough for official identification, a uniform and consistent writing method was necessary.


After the new law went into effect, the number of cards that were issued and updated increased dramatically. The first My Number Card would always be issued centrally by the Japanese government, but the updates with new addresses would be managed by each City Hall. In order to meet the high demand, most City Halls decided to purchase a card printer. CardEx, the Evolis distributor in Japan, has deployed 500 Elypso and 250 Zenius systems in City Halls throughout Japan. The Japanese system integrator DNP IDS has customized the Evolis printers with a contactless chip encoding function compliant with Japanese standards. This functionality recognizes the card inserted into the printer.

The next step in the process was to accommodate the numerous card design variations, which differ from one local authority to another. The positioning of the address text box is different for each template. To manage this, Evolis developed a specific scanner which is integrated into every printer. This scanner analyzes the card images, and determines the size and positioning of the text box. It also recognizes the orientation of the inserted card, so that however you insert the card, it will make automatic adjustments to print the text in the right place. Evolis printers use a special thermal transfer material for printing characters on the card surface.
CardEx has added a label to the printer to indicate where to insert the cards.

One city hall using Evolis systems is the City Hall of Koto Ward in Tokyo. With approximately 500,000 inhabitants, it is one of the most densely populated districts of Tokyo. In 2016, 19 Evolis printers were installed in the offices which overwrite the new addresses of people moving to Koto Ward on their existing My Number cards.

“This method is more formal and it is highly regarded for its uniformity, its readability, convenience and speed, and because it sharply reduces the chance of human error,” explains an official at Koto Ward City Hall. Of the 3000 civil servants who work in Koto Ward City Hall, around 140 of them use the card printers.


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