The Japanese have stoically endured recession, do-nothing politicians and the male makeup craze, but even a conformist society has certain hot buttons that are better left unpushed. Last week's launch of a computerized national ID system, which tags every citizen with a unique 11-digit number, triggered vehement protests throughout the country by those who fear Big Government is getting an efficient tool to invade their privacy. Some local prefectures refused to go along: Yokohama, the country's second-largest city, made participation voluntary, while three other municipalities opted out. Similar ID-card networks are being introduced in Malaysia and Hong Kong with little public...

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