Remember, don’t drink and carry the personal info everyone in the city.

After about two years of the pandemic, one thing I don’t think I’ve seen in ages is a drunk salaryman passed out on the side of the road. It always used to be a bittersweet sight in that it never really filled me with civic pride, but at the same time it was a kind of testament to the relative safety in Japan that people could do such a thing without incident.


The municipal government of Amagasaki City in Hyogo Prefecture was preparing to send some relief payments to households that were exempt from residence tax. To carry out the work of finding who among Amagasaki’s roughly 460,000 people were eligible, the city outsourced an IT firm in nearby Suita City, Osaka Prefecture.

On 21 June, one of the contractors had made a copy of the city’s Jumin Kihon Daicho, which is a register of all citizens, complete with their dates of birth, addresses, and information regarding taxes and government support. With all this data on a USB stick, he then took the register out of the government office without permission, to transfer the sensitive data to a computer at his company’s call center in Suita so it could be worked on there.

▼ A news report with some interesting reenactments of the incident

However, after he finished work for the day the contractor put the USB in his bag without deleting the data on it. Initial reports said that he had stopped by a restaurant on the way home and had a meal. By the time he got home he realized the bag with the memory stick and entire Jumin Kihon Daicho was missing and reported it to police and Amagasaki City the next day.

On 23 June when the story of the missing stick broke, the IT firm issued an apology which also shed more light on how it happened. It turned out the employee had had a few too many drinks during his dinner and while going home fell asleep on the street. It was during this lapse of consciousness that the bag was believed to have gone missing.

After publicly apologizing for the situation, Amagasaki said that no leaks had been detected and the data was protected by a 13-character password. On the afternoon of the 23rd, a posting for “Amagasaki’s USB Memory” was made on the popular flea market app Mercari for a price of 452,600 yen (US$3,350), a number which is also the estimated 2015 population of the Amagasaki.

▼ A news report about the Mercari posting

The posting has since been removed and is believed to have simply been a prank, especially since there was a message in French at the end of the product description, declaring it to be “fictitious.”

That wasn’t the only part of this debacle that people are comparing to a “bad joke,” according to online comments such as the following:

“Don’t use a memory stick!”
“Should we really be calling it ‘lost’ at this point?”
“I’m wondering why the city let its contractors go out to eat with that info.”
“Why did they reveal the number of characters in the password?! Are they that stupid?!”
“You know, ‘Amagasaki2022’ is 13 characters…”
“Now would be a good time to move out of Amagasaki, if you were considering it.”
“At least it wasn’t a floppy this time.”

Just as things were beginning to look bleak for the privacy of Amagasaki residents, on 24 June the bag containing the stick was recovered. It would seem that the contractor had retraced his steps, or at least the ones he could remember, and discovered the bag sitting near an apartment that he recalled passing by. Nothing was missing from it, including the stick.

And so, once again a case of a drunken slumber on the streets of Japan comes to a bittersweet end with the residents of Amagasaki no doubt fuming about the way their info was handled, but also slightly relieved that their city is safe enough to leave such a valuable item out overnight safely.

There isn’t much else to say really, except: At least it wasn’t a floppy this time.

Source: MBS News, NHK News Web 1, 2, Kobe Shimbun NEXT, Hachima Kiko 1, 2
Top image: ©SoraNews24
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