Spy x Family & Japanese government collaborate to promote social security numbers

Japan’s Digital Agency has launched a collaboration between the government’s My Number Card (Individual Number Card) system and popular manga and anime series Spy × Family. The campaign is named “Operation My Number Card” and aims to encourage more Japanese citizens to apply for their own card. The campaign website features the characters from Spy × Family explaining the benefits of obtaining a My Number Card, the security measures the card possesses, and the application process.

A My Number Card is a plastic identification card that includes the owner’s My Number (an individual identification number issued to Japanese citizens) and is embedded with an IC chip. In addition to identity verification, the card can also be used for a wide range of municipality services and even tax returns. The card can double as a health insurance card too, and progress is underway to implement systems that will allow the card to be used at all medical institutions and pharmacies beginning in April 2023.

However, the My Number Card has not been widely adopted by Japanese citizens. The card became available in January 2016, but as of December 18, 2022, only 63.7% of the population has their own card (Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications). The Japanese government has made repeated efforts to boost adoption of the card, such as offering My Number Points that can be used for cashless transactions to those who apply, perhaps because an increase in the uptake of the cards would allow a number of processes to be carried out more smoothly. The Spy × Family collaboration is surely one more effort toward this goal.

Spy × Family is a manga series created by Tatsuya Endo. An anime adaption of the series is currently being broadcast, and it was recently announced that a second season and a theatrical film will be produced. The action comedy series follows a spy who must build a family in order to execute a mission, but unknowingly marries an assassin and adopts a telepath daughter. The three must maintain the image of a happy family while each hiding their true identities. Outside of Japan, the series is translated into various languages and published on the service Manga Plus, and it has become incredibly popular all over the world.

The Spy × Family campaign site for My Number Card features a breakdown of the various benefits of the card and also attempts to dispel common concerns that many people have raised, such as security, what to do if your card goes missing, and more. There are also three animated explanatory YouTube videos that were created in collaboration with the Spy × Family anime.

Although a number of characters appear in the campaign, users on social media had a blast poking fun at the fact that Loid, a spy who is often seen falsifying identification documents in the series, was promoting the My Number Card. That said, if you think about it in a different way, having a spy talk about the strength of the My Number Card’s security features may be seen as an endorsement of the level of security present in the card.

Digital Minister Taro Kono also made reference to the collaboration on Twitter. The tweet below includes an image from the campaign site that shows the “Important points for taking an ID photograph.”

Tweet Translation:
I guess Anya really is popular after all.

Earlier this year, the Japanese government held another anime and manga collaboration. The series Tokyo Revengers was featured in a campaign to promote the lowering of the legal age of adulthood. Characters from the series appeared in videos explaining the changes that would come about as a result of the amendment as well as a reminder about consumer affairs. A related campaign was also held on Twitter.

Based on the fact that the Spy × Family campaign site for My Number Card has an EVENT section that simply says, “Coming Soon,” there are likely still more elements of the collaboration that will be revealed in the future.

Just how effective will the Spy × Family collaboration be in regard to getting people to apply for My Number Cards? Depending on the result, we may begin to see even more collaborations between government PR and anime and manga series in the future. 

Translated by. Marco Farinaccia based on Aki Nogishi’s original Japanese article