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Security - Stamps and Safe Room


Hello. Managing a back office in Japan involves the use of 5 types of administrative items which require tight security measures. In this video, we'll discuss what those items are and how to keep them secure.

Of administrative items used in Japanese back offices, here are the 5 types which require tight security measures:
 • Stamps for documents, called 'hanko', or 'inkan' in Japanese
 • Stamp registration certificates, called 'inkan shoumeisho'
 • Legal documents
 • Bank books, called 'tsuuchou'
 • Cash cards, called 'kyasshu kaado'

Stamps (1:04)
In Japan, stamps are used in place of signatures. Individuals and companies alike have their own unique stamps.

For companies, it is called the company's representative stamp. Every business is legally required to have one. The face of the stamp is engraved with the name of the company, and the indication of 'company representative'.

The stamp must be registered at the local Legal Affairs Bureau with the name of the company representative who is authorized to use it. Upon registration, the Legal Affairs Bureau issues a registration certificate, that proves the validity of the stamp. Because contracts usually require a certificate issued within the past three to six months, the certificate must be renewed periodically.

It is recommended that companies reserve the representative stamp for important contracts and make separate stamps for different usages. There are two additional types of stamps companies commonly have: a bank stamp and a square stamp.

The bank stamp is used for bank transactions, and must be registered with the company's bank. It is engraved with the name of the company, and the indication of 'bank stamp'.

The square stamp is used for documents with reduced legal significance: invoices, financial quotations, receipts, internal approvals. It is engraved with just the name of the company.

Until the end of 2020, companies commonly had a fourth type of stamp: the social insurance stamp, for submitting social insurance documents. Because social insurance documents are generally no longer stamped, the stamp has fallen out of use.

Cash cards (3:11)
As mentioned before, in addition to stamps, there are four other items used in Japanese back offices that require tight security measures:
 • Stamp registration certificates
 • Legal documents
 • Bank books
 • and Cash cards

When opening a bank account in Japan, whether an individual or a company, you get a bank book and a cash card. Both are linked to your account.

Cash cards are used for depositing cash into your account, or withdrawing cash from an ATM. They are not used for purchasing your groceries, or any goods or services. Credit cards are used for that. When I first came to Japan, I opened a bank account and then tried to use my cash card to pay for my groceries, as I would use a debit card back home. The lady at the register looked at my card, looked at me, and told me 'Sorry, you can't use a cash card to buy groceries.' I had to run out of the supermarket, go find an ATM, use my cash card to withdraw cash, run back to the supermarket and pay for my groceries. That's how I learned that you can't use a cash card to make transactions. Only withdrawals and deposits.

From stamps to registration certificates to legal documents, security is required for safekeeping these items. Imagine preparing for the signing of an important contract, only to find your company's representative stamp has been misplaced.

To prevent such accidents from happening, we keep our clients' items in a dedicated safe room.

Safe room (4:59)
The safe room is located on one of the six floors of the HTM building. The walls of the safe room are made of glass, so that what is happening inside is visible to anyone on the floor.

In addition, people around the room check the number of people inside, as only one person is allowed to be in the room at a time.

Access to the room and the safe in the room is controlled and recorded by a building security company. To enter the room, this security card, held by a small number of people, is required. A smaller number of people have access to the safe. Either a specially-programmed security card, code, or key is required to open it.

All items are kept in the safe. During the day, the stamps are taken out and placed on the table. They are stored in one of four ten-by-ten boxes with clear lids. Each stamp has two stickers on it indicating the company name and stamp type. To make any missing stamp obvious, each stamp box has a red sticker at the bottom of each space where a stamp is supposed to be placed. To mark the total number of stamps that belong in the box, a placeholder is inserted next to the last stamp in the box.

If an item needs to be used outside, for example when using a cash card to withdraw cash to pay income tax, a person with safe access must open the safe, but a separate person must use the item. The item must be returned on the same day it is taken out.

Security cameras (6:50)
At HTM, we have 15 security cameras. In the safe room, there are three. The first camera observes the stamps from above.The view from this camera shows if any stamp is missing, and who used it. The second camera observes the stamping area, and captures the contents of the document being stamped. People must always stamp documents within the area confined by these four red dots on this table. The third camera observes the entire room, including the safe. This view shows if there is only one person in the room at a time, and allows anyone reviewing the footage the check whether that person is authorized to enter the room. Footage is checked on two randomly selected days each month, and the person who checked must generate a report based on a checklist.

Inventory (7:50)
We conduct two daily inventories and one monthly inventory. The daily inventories check the total number of stamps and cash cards stored in the room. They are conducted once every morning and evening, and the person who does the check in the morning must differ from the one who does it in the evening. Monthly inventory, conducted on the last working day of every month, checks the presence of every item in the room. A database management system generates the report used for the monthly inventory. This report lists all of the items stored for each client.

There is a log on the computer outside the room, which works as a supplement to the inventory if there are any extra or missing items in the room. When one adds, removes or uses an item externally, the person must record the details in the log.

In this video, we looked at the security requirements for 5 administrative items used in Japanese back offices, and gave an example of how HTM maintains the security of those items for our clients. If you are interested in learning more about doing business in Japan, please watch our other videos.

Thank you for watching.

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