New hanko, meet old public sector

One investment I might make soon is one of these new security hanko gadgets.

A hanko, for the uninitiated out there, is a personal seal that serves as your signature for most official purposes in Japan. It looks cool, but suffers from a major drawback: it’s very easy to forge. A person can get a color photocopy of your seal impression, or just take your hanko and seal all sorts of stuff in your name. Like, say, a divorce agreement. That wouldn’t be fun.

So Uniball’s new hanko uses a special security feature: you dial in a two-digit combination, which changes a pattern of marks surrounding your name. Unless a person knows the proper combination, they can’t get the seal to duplicate your registered seal impression.

But, according to Mobile Ojisan:

Mitsubishi Pencil recommends Dial Bank Hanko only for bank use. Some local government outright refuses to register this metal hanko as one’s personal seal.

Brilliant. Now I could protect myself from seal thieves, if only some mildly retarded guy at city hall wasn’t making up rules. “No, no no, your seal has to be ivory.”