Photo/IllutrationForeigners study in a Japanese language school in Amami, Kagoshima Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Sony Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd. have teamed to develop an encrypted database that will prevent forged Japanese proficiency documents from being made for foreigners to help them obtain resident status to study in Japan.

The two companies developed the mechanism utilizing blockchain technologies used in cryptocurrencies in response to reports of forged documents being produced overseas.

They plan to put the distributed ledger into test operation from the end of this month and are aiming to put it into practical use in fiscal 2019, which starts in April.

To obtain resident status to study in Japan, foreigners have to submit a certificate to Japan's Immigration Bureau that proves that they passed Japanese language proficiency tests or took a Japanese language course for a certain number of hours.

The reason is that they may face difficulties in their daily lives in Japan if their Japanese language ability is insufficient.

Generally, the certificates are issued by Japanese language educational institutions overseas and Japanese language schools in Japan submit the documents to the Immigration Bureau on behalf of those institutions.

However, illegal fabrications of those documents have been widely found. In Vietnam, a local broker in 2018 was suspected of fabricating many certificates.

In response, Fujitsu and Sony jointly developed the prevention mechanism by combining Fujitsu’s online learning system with a blockchain developed by Sony’s subsidiary, Sony Global Education Inc.

In the mechanism, when foreigners hoping to study in Japan complete online Japanese courses in their countries, all their data and certificates issued to them are registered in the blockchain.

Japanese language schools in Japan can then compare the issued certificates with the registered data in the blockchain to ensure that the certificates are authentic.

The mechanism was developed because the blockchain manages data in several computers and, therefore, makes it difficult to fabricate the data.

It will be put into test operation for about a month from the end of this month at Human Academy Co., which runs Japanese language schools in Tokyo, Osaka and Saga.

In the test operation, Sony and Fujitsu will check for problems. They also plan to promote the mechanism to other Japanese language schools.