Feature

Furor over ID numbers

The week's news at a glance.

Tokyo

The Japanese government is trying to convince angry citizens that a new ID system does not herald the beginning of totalitarianism. The program, launched this week, assigns each person an 11-digit number, similar to a U.S. Social Security number, that will be required on federal documents. Privacy advocates said that numbering the citizenry amounts to government surveillance. “The Nazis assigned numbers to Jewish people in exactly the same way,” legal expert Hirohisa Kitano told a news conference. “It is extremely dangerous.” Several large Japanese cities have simply refused to register their citizens.

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