The government is considering putting non-Japanese living here for more than three months in the resident registry system, officials said.
The measure could come into force as early as 2012. The Cabinet is expected to endorse the plan next month.
With the government looking to abolish the current alien registration system, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry had considered setting up a separate new registry system for foreign residents. But it eventually decided it would be more efficient to amend the national registry system to include foreign nationals, the officials said.
Korean residents with special permanent status will be included, they said.
The ministry hopes the change will help municipalities get a better picture of foreign nationals living in their area and provide welfare and education services equivalent to those of Japanese nationals, according to the sources.
If non-Japanese make a request, municipal governments will issue optional residency certificates and Juki Net registration cards.
The certificate would include such information as name, address, sex, date of birth, nationality, resident status and length of stay.
About 2.15 million foreign nationals were registered as of the end of 2007, about 1.5 times that of 10 years earlier.