As I was working on a translation job for the city of Yanagawa I came across the following good news:
The procedures for alien registration will change in July 2012
◯ Alien Registration Cards will become “Residence Cards”.
The procedure will be conducted when you pass through Immigration at an airport or port in Japan. The alien registration card you currently possess will remain valid until it has expired. There is no need to apply for the new residence card until then. The maximum three-year period of stay will be extended to five years.
◯ The Re-entry Permit System will change.
Foreigners with alien registration or residence cards re-entering Japan within one year after leaving will no longer be required to apply for a re-entry permit. If, on the other hand, they fail to re-enter Japan within a year after leaving, they will lose their residence status.
◯ In the following circumstances, you must notify XYZ within 14 days.
Please be aware that if you are late in notifying the following items, your residential status may be nullified.
● When you change your name, birth date, sex, nationality, or region.
● Whenever your status changes, such as your Employment Eligibility or Studying Status.
● When your Status of Residence has changed such that you become the spouse or dependent of a Japanese national, or in the event that you divorce or are widowed.
◯ A Special Permanent Resident will be issued as a “Special Permanent Resident Certificate”. The procedure can be conducted at your local governmental office, such as a ward office or city hall.
Holders of special permanent resident status who re-enter Japan within 2 years of leaving the country will no longer be required to get re-entry permits. If, however, they do not re-enter within two years, they will lose their special permanent resident status. Re-entry permits will be valid for a maximum of six years, rather than the current four years.