You may already have heard that the Gaijin Card system is being overhauled.
What does this mean for you?
Not a great deal. The big differences this time around are: the inclusion of a 5-year visa and the abolition of the re-entry permit (as long as you re-enter within 12 months).
Read the full details in the pamphlet from the immigration website. If that doesn't work, here's a backup.
This will kick in from July 9th, 2012, and it seems that, in most cases, you can keep your current gaijin card until July 2015 unless it expires before then.