Foreigners living in Japan have a legal obligation to carry their residence card or passport with them at all times. Residence cards will usually be required for a foreigner to apply for a cell phone, open a bank account or find an apartment. Failure to carry your residence card can result in a fine of up to 200,000.
When a foreign national leaves Japan with the intent to come back, they are allowed to keep their residence card during their trip overseas. However, the residence card needs to be returned when the foreign national decides to stop living in Japan. Usually the residence card will be taken by the customs agent upon the foreign national’s departure from a Japanese airport.