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Hello Blog. Just back from a nice conference in Tokyo for JALT (http://www.jalt.org), where I gave four speeches, two on fingerprinting (http://www.debito.org/wasedafingerprint102207.ppt) and two on pitfalls to avoid in job searches in the Japanese university labor market (http://www.debito.org/jaltjobpitfallsnov2007.ppt). Got another speech coming up next weekend in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture (see my blog later this week for details).
Meanwhile, contents of this very special Newsletter, which shows all the primary assumptions this policy is justified by–efficient and accurate data collection, secure storage, and effective checking against a database–are simply not true.
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 28, 2007
SPECIAL ON FINGERPRINTING POLICY INAUGURATION NOV 20
FORWARD: ANGER IN THE BLOGOSPHERE
WHAT YOU HEARD:
1) YOUTUBED NHK: KEEP CRITICS AND PROTESTS OUT OF BROADCASTS
2) YOMIURI EDITORIAL: FP JUSTIFIED AS ANTI-FOREIGN-CRIME MEASURE
3) SANKEI ON FINGERPRINTING SNAFUS
4) YOMIURI & NIKKEI MISTAKENLY TRUMPET “FIVE CAUGHT IN NEW SYSTEM”,
WHAT GOT MUFFLED:
5) MAINICHI: REFUSERS TO BE INCARCERATED, FORCED TO BE FINGERPRINTED
6) ASAHI: 38% OF US-VISIT DATABASE IS MISTAKES
7) ASAHI: TOKYO & NARITA LOSE PERSONAL DATA FOR 432 NJ
8) YOMIURI: SDF & MOFA LOSE COMPUTER DATA IN JAPAN, BELGIUM
WHAT YOU SHOULD HAVE HEARD:
9) MAINICHI ON AMNESTY/SMJ PUBLIC ACTION OUTSIDE MOJ
10) PROTESTS WITH PARODY POSTERS, T-SHIRTS, POSTCARDS, MULTILINGUAL BILLETS
11) FRANCE 24 TV INTERVIEW IN FRENCH AND ENGLISH: “JAPAN’S 1984”
12) NYT: FINGERPRINTING “A DISASTER FOR J BUSINESS”
13) ACCENTURE, MAKER OF THE FP MACHINES, NOW HIRING IN JAPAN,THRU TIGER WOODS!
CONCLUDING STATEMENT: PROGNOSTICATIONS FOR THE PRESENT COURSE:
A HASTENED ECONOMIC OBSCURITY FOR JAPAN
By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (email@example.com, http://www.debito.org)
Daily blog updates at http://www.debito.org/index.php
Podcasts of previous Newsletters (and soon this one) at
FORWARD: ANGER IN THE BLOGOSPHERE
In all my twenty years of Japan, I’ve never seen the NJ communities so angry.
Not during the “gaijin all have AIDS” scare of 1986, the Otaru Onsens Case of 1999, the Ishihara anti-gaijin anti-crime “Sangokujin Speech” media campaigns of 2000, the “anti-hooligan” scare before and during World Cup 2002, the Al-Qaeda scare of 2005, the publication of the “Gaijin Hanzai Ura File” magazine last February, or the “foreign crime is rising” National Police Agency media campaigns every six months. This time, there’s a very “faith no more” element to it all.
I am receiving links to angry diatribes on the Fingerprint policy in the Blogosphere. Two that leave a lasting impression:
Running Gaijin Card Checks
Oppose Japan’s bid for The Olympics
This one in particular inspired protests of hate speech and unsubstantiated accusations about Japan. Hmm, I guess when the shoe’s on the other foot, it’s not pleasant. Fancy that.
If you know of any more sites, please send links to the comments section at this site.
Angry, humorous, ironic, and/or poignant is fine, racist is not, so exercise discretion.
The point is, how else are NJ going to express their anger when they are this disenfranchised in Japanese society? Where the media machines for manufacturing consent will ultimately pit the entire Japanese society against the “gaijin”–through completely unfounded assertions of criminality, terrorism, and allegedly effective preventative measures that single people out for discrimination by race, nationality, and national origin.
How else? The Blogosphere. Vent away.
How things work over here to create “Team Japan vs. The World” has never come out as clearly as now. Especially when you consider what the Japanese media muffled:
YOUTUBED NHK: KEEP CRITICS AND PROTESTS OUT OF BROADCASTS
A reader wrote in to say:
NHK 7PM NEWS NOV 19TH
Absolutely no mention of fingerprinting NJ entering Japan starting tomorrow. I’ll give them another chance tomorrow night, but that’s it. If they don’t find this new policy newsworthy, why should the foreign community pay for NHK?
Also notable that it is still hard to find a regular Japanese person who is even aware the policy is coming into effect. Not surprising really if NHK has nothing to say about it.
Vincent then uploaded the Nov 20 NHK 7pm Evening News segment about fingerprinting (2 min 52 sec, English dubbing) on YouTube:
Same with NHK Newswatch 9pm. Somewhat longer and more detailed than Evening News 7pm. Uploaded in Youtube (6 min 10 sec), and with a greater attempt at balance (but still far more airtime given to making the GOJ’s case). Link:
As for the Nov 20 11PM News shows (10PM’s News Station put it on as a blurb at the very end).
I watched Chikushi Tetsuya’s News 23 that day. They featured the FP story very prominently with an interview with critics (Amnesty’s Teranaka Makoto saying that FP has caught very few people, if any, and is in no way an effective measure) and even did a rupo at the AI/SMJ demonstration at noon that day. There were some interviews included with NJ who grumbled about the wait at the gates. Summary comments by anchors at the end questioned why Japan was instituting the program at all.
Also Zero News gave it about five minutes early in their broadcast, with some more coverage of machines not behaving properly, and very annoyed tourists (one elderly Korean using some really impressive angry English). The point of both was that this whole thing was a mess.
NHK BS 10:50 didn’t even bother to have it in their headlines.
As others have said, it makes one wonder why NJ would ever bother to pay any NHK fees. When something like this affects at least 1.5 million Japanese residents (millions more if you include their Japanese families), this is unignorable news. Whatever coverage there was basically toed the GOJ line and gave little, if any, coverage to the controversy. Very, very disappointing, NHK.
Contrast that with CNN, which devoted half of their article to the criticisms. Let me excerpt those only:
JAPAN BEGINS IDENTIFYING FOREIGNERS
CNN, November 20, 2007
Courtesy of Olaf Karthaus (excerpt)
…Critics, however, said the measures discriminate against foreigners and violate their privacy. A group of nearly 70 civic groups from around the world delivered a letter of protest Monday to Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama.
“We believe that your plans… are a gross and disproportionate infringement upon civil liberties, copying the most ineffective, costly and risky practices on border management from around the world,” the letter said.
Immigration officials say the bureau plans to store the data for “a long time,” without saying how long. It is unclear how many people will be affected; Japan had 8.11 million foreign entries in 2006…
Last month, Justice Minister Hatoyama came under fire over his assertion that a friend of his had an acquaintance who was a member of the al Qaeda terrorist group.
Thanks. But the fix was in re domestic media coverage right from the start:
YOMIURI EDITORIAL: FP JUSTIFIED AS ANTI-FOREIGN CRIME MEASURE
Hoo-hah. Here’s the best argument yet for fingerprinting almost all foreign visitors, er, all foreigners (thus portrayed) all put together nicely for one-stop shopping. The Yom’s Nov 19 editorial was right on cue–with its fundamental association of extranationality with criminality and insecurity. Note how anti-crime was Trojan-Horsed into the arguments for anti-terrorism:
USE FINGERPRINTS, PHOTOS TO BOOST SECURITY
The Yomiuri Shimbun Nov 19, 2007
Courtesy of Thomas Bertrand (excerpt)
…The main objective of the revised law is to block terrorists and foreign criminals from entering the country. If it is proven to be effective, Japan’s reputation as a safe country will be bolstered…
The scanned fingerprint data will be cross-checked against a blacklist on a database in a few seconds. If the data matches that of suspected criminals on the police’s wanted list or information on terrorists obtained through the United Nations and Interpol, the Immigration Bureau will immediately reject their entry into Japan and notify the police… The new immigration checks will be useful in preventing such illegal entries into Japan…
The government needs to cooperate with other countries and constantly update the database… Fighting terrorism is a common task for the international society. These countries obviously recognize its importance.
Japan will host the Group of Eight summit meeting at the Lake Toya hot spring resort in Toyakocho, Hokkaido, next year. Together with strengthening immigration checks, we hope the government will take all possible means to ensure coastal security and prevent terrorism in this country.
COMMENT: If you want the quintessential parroting of the xenophobes with their hands on the levers of power, the Yomiuri provides it. Thanks Yomiuri, I wonder why any NJ subscribes to your English paper.
But the primary assumptions remain: efficient and accurate data collection, secure storage, and effective checking against a database. All of these things, this newsletter will show, are not true.
For example, here’s a funny article:
SANKEI ON FINGERPRINTING SNAFUS
FIRST DAY OF NEW IMMIGRATION SYSTEM: CONTINUOUS TROUBLES
Sankei Shinbun Nov 20, 2007
(Translated by Arudou Debito, excerpt)
November 20, the day the new biometric system was inaugurated for foreigners at Immigration, has seen continuous troubles at every port of entry with taking prints and equipment failure.
There were errors with reading data for about 30 people at Hakata Port, and after redoing the procedure, only four people were recorded. The Immigration official in charge decided to waive the procedure and everyone in. The official claimed the equipment was not faulty, rather, “It seems there were a lot of elderly people whose fingerprints had been worn down after years on the farm.”
At Narita Airport, one Australian man’s fingerprints were unreadable, and the process took more than an hour. According to the Immigration Bureau at at Narita, there are cases where people’s fingertips were too dry to be read. At Shin-Chitose Airport in Hokkaido, there were reports of more failures, the cause seen as dry skin.
At Fushiki Toyama Port, Toyama Prefecture, three out of five portable fingerprint readers were inoperative right after the start of usage. After rebooting their systems, only one machine became operable, and it died after 30 minutes. Use was discontinued.
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=759
COMMENT: In my high school psychology class, we learned about a mental process called “projection”, where a batter blames the bat instead of himself for the strike-out.
Well, Immigration that day was a paragon of projection. Farmers and dry skin? Maybe the system is just no damn good from the start. Or maybe it’s just plain Karma.
So the compliant media turned its attention to damage control:
YOMIURI & NIKKEI MISTAKENLY TRUMPET “5 CAUGHT IN NEW SYSTEM”, SANKEI CONTRADICTS
Here is a link to three articles in Japanese trumpeting the success of the new Fingerprinting system–all done in the middle of the night so as to make the morning editions.
Original Japanese at http://www.debito.org/?p=770
FIVE PEOPLE MATCH FINGERPRINT BLACKLIST; DENIED ENTRY AT THE BORDER
Yomiuri Shinbun November 21 2007 03:09AM
(Translated by Arudou Debito, excerpt)
With the amendment of the Immigration and Refugee Control Act, as of November 20 all foreigners [sic] coming to Japan must be fingerprinted. As a result, 5 people were denied entry, as their fingerprints matched those on a “blacklist”.
Most of those people had been deported in the past, or had tried to come into Japan on fake passports. One person was immediately deported, while the remainder were issued orders to leave.
The blacklist includes data such as 1) 14,000 names created by Interpol (ICPO) with the Japanese police, 2) about 800,000 names of people who have been deported for overstaying their visas in Japan.
With the advent of the Immigration Act revisions, new entry procedures were enacted in ports of entry such as Narita, Kansai and Osaka Airports, and those five people matched the fingerprints on the blacklist…
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=774
“Hey, we caught ’em, see how the system is working and how much we need it?” Despite the fact that it was also reported on November 20 that nobody was refused at all?
That’s right, actually. Read beyond the following Sankei headline:
FIVE PEOPLE REFUSED ENTRY TO JAPAN FOR “PREVIOUS HISTORY”
System to inspect fingerprints and facial photos
Sankei Shinbun November 21, 2007 02:02AM
(Translated by Arudou Debito, excerpt)
With the new Immigration system requiring facial photos and fingerprints from all foreigners over the age of 16 [sic–not completely correct as stated] being launched from November 20, five people’s fingerprints matched those of people who had been refused entry in the past in the database, according to the Ministry of Justice.
Of those five, it seems three were using altered or falsified passports, and were processed for deportation. The remaining two were given orders to leave. No foreigner was refused entry at the border for refusing to give fingerprints.
The Justice Ministry also announced that at Obihiro, Narita, Chubu International, and Fukuoka Airports, as well as at Hakata seaport, a total of 21 people’s fingerprints were impossible to read. The reason seems to be that they were elderly and thus had worn-down fingers.
Those 21 were given oral interviews by Immigration and allowed in. The Ministry added that “Under Immigration directives, if we can’t scan their fingerprints properly, we still will process them for entry into Japan.”…
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=774
COMMENT: In other words: Three of the five were caught for funny passports, the other two for other reasons left unclear but at Immigration’s discretion. Which means bagging these five was unrelated to the Fingerprint policy. In other words, this sort of thing happens on a daily basis and is not news. Unless there is a political reason for making it so.
One so political it generates a lie in the face of science and technology? As “Kimpatsu” commented to Debito.org:
November 21st, 2007 at 11:15 am e
David, I can tell you for certain that this snagging of five people is completely unrelated to the fingerprinting. Know why? I bet you mistakenly think that the photos and fingerprints are processed in real time, and if Osama bin Laden tries to enter Japan, an alarm will sound and red light will flash, right?
Wrong. There is no computer powerful enough to process biometric data in real time. Instead, at the end of each working day, the data is infodumped to a centre in Tokyo for processing. There will inevitably be a backlog (because the centre is closed at weekends), and the best a computer can do is throw up possible matches, which must then be verified manually. (Forget CSI, in which the computer positively matches fingerprints before the next commercial break; that’s just fantasy.)
Consequently, Osama has enough time to enter Japan, blow up Tokyo, and depart, before his biometric data has been processed. The new system doesn’t make people safer; it only makes them FEEL safer–which is not the same thing… But then again, when dealing with the scientifically ignorant, we are dealing with an absolute majority…
And as Olaf concurred:
Look at the (long) FBI file here:
and this was 11 years ago. Real time data analysis is gaining speed.
[But you are right that there will be an inevitable backlog.] Even the FBI says that they have a 99.99% correct identification rate (forgot the source – have to look again). With 8 million processed data sets every year that means that there are 800 misidentified people per year – more than 2 a day! If this misidentification matches an innocent person as being on a criminal data base (with several million data sets worldwide this is likely to happen), this false positive match must be checked manually.
Checking the complete databases takes hours (one print per millisec; 8 million prints – do the math: 8000 seconds, or nearly three hours). Poor guy for whom the ‘hit’ comes early in the search, while he is still in transit at immigration. Detention, grilling, at worst deportation, at best a missed connection flight (and waiting Japanese family members on ‘the other side’ in utsukushii Nippon).
Of course this will never be reported in the press: ‘Faulty fingerprint ID: Tourist mistakenly deported’
Two associations to make: fingertips and sandpaper. Meanwhile, the GOJ is already changing the force of law into the law of force:
MAINICHI: FP REFUSERS WILL BE INCARCERATED, FORCED TO BE FP
According to the Mainichi Nov 21, the Justice Ministry has now issued a “tsuuchi” directive (the GOJ bureaucrats’ way of minting laws without going through a legislative body) granting Immigration more powers.
People who refuse to get fingerprinted will not only be refused at the border, but also forced to have fingerprints taken. as well as a physical inspection and incarceration in the airport Gaijin Tank.
What this means in the event uncooperative Permanent Residents and their Japanese spouses, the article notes, is incarceration with “extra persuasion”–without, they say, the threat of force. With all this extralegality going on, fat chance.
FOREIGN FINGERPRINTING: NONCOMPLIERS FORCED TO BE FINGERPRINTED: MOJ
Mainichi Shinbun November 21, 2007
(Translated by Arudou Debito, Courtesy of Tony K)
As an anti-terrorism etc. measure under the new Immigration inspection system, requiring fingerprints from all foreigners coming to Japan [sic], the Mainichi has learned that The Ministry of Justice’s Immigration Bureau has issued a directive (tsuuchi) to all regional divisions, saying that foreigners who refuse fingerprinting and rejection at the border [sic] are to be forced to be fingerprinted.
Although the Ministry of Justice originally explained this system as an “offering” (teikyou) of fingerprints without coercion, they have now indicated that they will implement this measure with the option of compulsion (kyouseiryoku) against anyone who refuses. It is anticipated that this will strengthen criticisms that “this system is treating foreigners as criminals”.
This policy of collecting biometric data is being effected at airports and seaports whenever foreigners enter the country, compared on the spot with stored Immigration data of people with histories of being deported from Japan, or blacklisted overseas. If fingerprints match, entry into the country will be denied, as will people who refuse to cooperate with the collection of data.
If the person denied refuses to comply with the deportation order, Immigration will implement forceable deportation orders and render the person to a holding cell within the airport. Whether or not fingerprints will be taken during incarceration had until now not been made clear.
However, based upon an Immigration directive issued during the first week of this month, it is now clear that “for safety concerns, when necessary people may now have their bodies inspected (shintai kensa)”, and Immigration officers have now been empowered to take fingerprints from those who refuse to cooperate. The directive also demands video recording of the proceedings.
Afterwards, refusers will be rendered to the appropriate transportation authorities for deportation. However, in the case of Permanent Residents and their Japanese spouses who have livelihoods in Japan, what the “country of return” for deportation will exactly mean is bound to present a problem. Immigration officials reply, “We will sufficiently persuade (settoku) the refuser to cooperate, and endeavor not to do this by force.”
According to a source familiar with Immigration laws, Immigration searches are something done in the case when a foreign national is under suspicion for breaking the law, such as overstaying his visa. In principle, fingerprinting is a voluntary act, and forceable fingerprinting rarely occurs. The source adds, “If we just don’t let the refuser into the country, there’s nothing dangerous they can do.” He questions whether or not it is justifiable to forceably fingerprint the person and add them to a blacklist of deportees.
Ryuugoku University Professor Tanaka Hiroshi, a specialist on human rights involving non Japanese, adds, “This type of foreigner fingerprinting system was once in place and people refused to cooperate. But now in its place we have not only criminal penalties, but also the extreme measure of refusing them entry into the country. This ministerial directive has little legal basis in its extreme sanctions.”
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=777
along with a much shorter (and milder) official translation in the Mainichi of the same article, for your comparison.
Now let’s look at the emerging “garbage in, garbage out” situation:
ASAHI: 38% OF US-VISIT DATABASE ARE MISTAKES
So much for the effectiveness of the US-VISIT system the current Japanese NJ fingerprinting regime is modeled upon:
AMERICAN EMBASSY, TOKYO
PUBLIC AFFAIRS SECTION, OFFICE OF TRANSLATION AND MEDIA ANALYSIS
DAILY SUMMARY OF JAPANESE PRESS
November 21, 2007 (excerpt)
US SYSTEM OF SCREENING VISITORS: MISTAKES, CONTRADICTIONS FOUND IN 38% OF THOSE CITED ON MONITORING LIST
ASAHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
November 19, 2007
…The US-visit system was introduced in 2004. The system is almost the same as Japan’s. Anna Hinken, an officer of the US Department of Homeland Security, proudly said: “We have rejected the entry of more than 2,000 persons who were considered a security risk since the system was introduced.”
But a US government agency poses questions about the system’s technology and credibility. This July, the US General Accounting Office criticized the US-visit system as seriously fragile in view of information control. He pointed out the possibility that personal data, including fingerprint data, might be altered or copied by someone from the outside due to insufficient security measures.
In September, an auditor of the Justice Department emphasized how inaccurate US blacklists are. The auditor said that as a result of a sampling check of the terrorism-affiliates included in a monitoring list, mistakes or contradictions were found in 38% of those checked, with the names of some terror suspects left out of the list or innocent persons appearing on it.
The monitoring list was compiled by integrating those of such government agencies as the FBI and the Transportation Security Administration, and the list is not open to the public. As of April this year, the number of those listed was 700,000. The number reportedly increases by 20,000 per month.
American Civil Liberties Union member Barry Steinhardt said: “There should not be so many terrorists. The list is unreliable. In addition, since the list is classified and not publicized, it is impossible to check how effectively it has worked to prevent terrorism.”
The monitoring list has also affected civic life. There are cases in which citizens unrelated to terrorism appeared on the list or in which a person who has the same family and personal name as a certain suspect was stopped at an airport security check.
The US-visit system also tends to give travelers an unpleasant impression about the nation.
I might add that the original article has been unavailable online at Asahi.com, even shortly after it first appeared. No wonder. Thanks to the USG for archiving it.
Something else equally archivable, which I had on file for months waiting for just such an occasion:
ASAHI: TOKYO & NARITA LOSE PERSONAL DATA FOR 432 NJ
One of Immigration’s mantras has been how they will take proper care of all the biometric data they drag out of their gaijin patsies.
I’m not confident of that, in light of what happened last May. Incompetence in spades.
TOKYO IMMIGRATION BUREAU LOSES PERSONAL DATA FOR TOTAL 432 FOREIGNERS
Asahi Shinbun March 28, 2007
(Translated by Arudou Debito, full text)
TOKYO – Tokyo Immigration announced on March 28 that it had lost flash memory at its headquarters and Narita Airport Branch, regarding personal information for visa overstayers and deported foreigners. They say that no trace of it remains, and there is no danger of the data being misused.
The same agency said last December that an Immigration official in his thirties, based at headquarters, had lost saved memory–names, dates of birth, embarkation points, and other documented details–for 137 foreign overstayers currently being processed for deportation. Also last December, another official in his twenties based at Narita had lost saved memory in the form of a “deportation notebook”. In that, an additional 295 foreigners had had their names, dates of birth, reasons for deporting etc. recorded for deportation.
On a similar note:
YOMIURI: SDF & MOFA LOSE PERSONAL COMPUTERS IN BELGIUM
Courtesy of Michelle:
731 SDF APPLICANTS’ DETAILS LEAKED ONTO INTERNET
The Yomiuri Shimbun, November 18, 2007 (excerpt)
Personal details of 731 people who passed the first-stage entrance examination for recruitment by the Self-Defense Forces have been accidently uploaded onto the Internet, it has been learned.
The Defense Ministry learned the list had been online for six weeks and has begun investigating how the information was compromised.
The list–confidentially created using spreadsheet software by Yokohama-based SDF Kanagawa Provincial Cooperation Office, which recruits self-defense officers in Kanagawa–included Kanagawa Prefecture-based applicants’ personal details including their name, sex, date of birth, address, cell phone number and parents’ names…
Families of examinees have expressed their dismay over the mishandling of the information.
“The situation, which saw detailed personal information made available online, is a serious error that caused problems for the examinees,” the man who told the office of the errors said. “They have to realize the severity of the situation.”
“I worked as an SDF officer. I think it was disgraceful,” the father of a male examinee said. “They let their guard down–now we’re afraid what the information could be used for. The Defense Ministry has been hit by so many scandals that even as a former officer, I find it hard to be proud of it.”
The Defense Ministry and SDF have been hit by a succession of information leaks. In February last year, confidential data on the MSDF destroyer Asayuki was leaked onto the Internet through members’ privately owned computers, which had been installed with a file-exchange program.
In April last year, the Defense Ministry prohibited the use of privately owned computers in the workplace, and barred personnel from handling business data on privately owned computers. Then, SDF members were visited at home by inspectors who checked whether personnel had stored business data on their computers…
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=747
COMMENT: It’s nice for the Yomiuri to devote least a third of the article to those affected by the leaks. Criticism is okay as long as it comes from Team Japan. Another article, to show this is nothing new:
JAPANESE FINGER VIRUS FOR POLICE DOCUMENT LEAK
By John Leyden, The Register
Published Wednesday 7th April 2004 (excerpt)
Japanese police are blaming a computer virus for a leak of information about criminal investigations.
Information from 19 documents – including investigation reports, expert opinions and police searches – found its way from the hard disk of an officer from Shimogamo Police Station in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, onto the Net last month.
The names, birthdays, addresses and other personal data of 11 people were listed in the leaked documents, along with a detailed description of an alleged crime. Police have promised to notify the 11, including an alleged crime victim, to explain the cock-up…
The officer at the centre of the debacle created the leaked documents in 2002 while practicing how to fill out forms using real data instead of dummy entries.
He was on police box duty and authorised to use his own PC but not to save sensitive data on it, a violation in police procedures that has become the subject of disciplinary inquiry.
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=747
And it’s not limited to stupidity within Japan:
NINE LAPTOP COMPUTERS STOLEN FROM JAPANESE EMBASSY IN BELGIUM
(Mainichi Japan November 5, 2007 (excerpt)
BRUSSELS, Belgium: Thieves broke into the Japanese Embassy in Belgium and stole nine laptop computers, including one belonging to the consul, embassy officials have announced.
The break-in is believed to have occurred between the evening of Nov. 2 and the predawn hours of Nov. 3. Officials said nothing besides the computers had been stolen. They added that no confidential diplomatic information had been leaked outside the embassy… Japanese officials have asked the government in Belgium to boost security in the wake of the incident.
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=747
The Yomiuri, moreover, has it at eleven laptops, with details on their contents:
11 LAPTOP PCS STOLEN FROM BRUSSELS EMBASSY
The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov 15, 2007 (excerpt)
…Some of the stolen computers held electronic data on matters such as the expats’ residence certification, overseas voting registration and passport information, according to the embassy.
The residence certification contains details such as a person’s name, birthdate, permanent address in Japan, occupation, family information and passport number.
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=747
As contributor Michelle writes, if they can’t take care of personal information for their own citizens, how can they be expected to take care of foreigners’ information?
Now for the information you wouldn’t hear via the Yomiuri, Nikkei, or NHK:
MAINICHI ON PUBLIC ACTION OUTSIDE MOJ
PROTESTERS ‘FLIP THE BIRD’ AT JUSTICE MINISTRY OVER FORCED FINGERPRINTING
Mainichi Daily News Nov 20, 2007 By Ryann Connell (excerpt)
Protestors inflated a 3-meter-high yellow hand with an extended forefinger and thrust it toward the Justice Ministry’s offices in Tokyo on Tuesday to demonstrate against a controversial fingerprinting policy beginning at ports of entry across the country the same day.
About 80 protestors turned toward the ministry building and shouted in unison their opposition to the new policy, which requires all but a handful of foreigners to have their fingerprints and face photos taken to gain entry into Japan.
Representatives of human rights groups, labor unions, foreigners’ groups and individuals spoke out against the system–similar to the US-VISIT policy operating in the United States since 2004, but also targeting residents and not just tourists–calling it, among other things, “racist,” “xenophobic,” “retrogressive” and “an invasion of human rights and privacy.”
“It’s an expression of Japanese xenophobia. Japan is using this system as a tool to control foreigners. For the past few years, the government has been associating foreigners with things like crime and terrorism,” said Sonoko Kawakami, campaign coordinator for Amnesty International Japan, which organized Tuesday’s demonstration.
Lim Young-Ki, a representative of the Korean Youth Association in Japan, pointed out how ethnic Koreans had fought for decades until the 2000 abolition of fingerprinting on Alien Registration Certificates only to see the process revived through the back door now.
“This system is ostensibly an anti-terrorism measure, but it is extremely harmful to individuals and only applying the system to foreigners shows a lack of consideration for foreigners’ human rights. Even though the system of fingerprinting foreigners was completely abolished in April 2000, it’s infuriating that the Japanese government has reinstated this practice and this entry inspection system.”…
Another foreign woman who identified herself only as Jennifer said she is a permanent resident, having lived in Japan for 38 years and with a Japanese husband and Japanese national children… “They already have my photo and my fingerprint*many times over,” she said. “This step is quite unnecessary.”
But an official from the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau dismissed the protestors’ claims.
“This system was introduced to protect the lives and safety of citizens [sic] by preventing terrorism. There were rational reasons and necessities in introducing the system, which was approved by the Diet,” Yasuhiro Togo of the Immigration Bureau said, adding that the methods of fingerprinting differ from the abolished Alien Registration Certificate system.
“The aim of taking fingerprints is different–we’re fighting against terrorism–and we will not be forcing people to put their fingers into ink as used to be the case. The fingerprints will all be taken and stored electronically.”…
The government says the new system is aimed at combating terrorism, but has also said it will provide data to crime-fighting authorities upon request. The Immigration Bureau’s Togo said such information would be handled in accordance with the Private Information Protection Law. He added that information collected by immigration authorities would not be handed over to foreign governments.
Rest with photos at http://www.debito.org/?p=751
COMMENT: So, which is it, the GOJ will share its data with other governments or won’t it? The GOJ is taking fingerprints like before or isn’t it? The data is secure or isn’t it? It’s enough to make one laugh out loud at the absurdity and double-talk. To that end:
PROTESTS WITH PARODY POSTERS, T-SHIRTS, POSTCARDS, MULTILINGUAL BILLETS
Hilarious parody of the issue by Kaoru, showing maiko (apprentice geisha) in whiteface, with the caption:
OI WHITIES! GO AND GET FINGERPRINTED!
Kaoru: “I knocked up a quick mock-poster illustrating the ludicrousy. This was just for my own amusement of course (especially the inclusion of Yu Kikumaru of the Red Army saying ‘Keep Japan Safe!’), but I figure there has to be a t-shirt idea in there somewhere!”
Hi there, the trilingual (Japanese, French, and English) tract against fingerprints policy is done!
More info on fingerprinting protest site reentry japan:
Download it, print it, show it, put in your bar, restaurant, on your car, on your desk, give it to the immigration officer, to your friends…
More posters, “Yokoso Japan” T-shirts (which will be sent to you in time for your New-Year return to Japan), and video at
FRANCE 24 TV INTERVIEW IN FRENCH AND ENGLISH: “JAPAN’S 1984”
TV Network France 24 has a good report on the FP policy, with an interview with a national bureaucrat, Teranaka Makoto of Amnesty International, and yours truly.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Japan’s 1984: Japanese authorities have introduced American-style immigration law. Foreigners will have to be fingerprinted and photographed evey time they enter the country – a law that some regard as Orwellian. (Report: N. Tourret)
mardi 20 novembre 2007
Le Japon durcit les conditions de circulation: Le Japon a durcit sa legislation vis-a-vis des voyageurs etrangers. Disormais, photographies et empreintes digitales seront imposis dans les aeroports. Le sujet suscite un large debat.(Reportage : N. Tourret)
While I’m at it, here is a link to my previous podcast, up on Trans Pacific Radio. Yes, it has information on fingerprinting, of course.,,
NYT: FINGERPRINTING A “DISASTER FOR J BUSINESS”
Much the same ground covered in this article as others. But good to see a write-up this thorough making a splash throughout the US East Coast this time–in the Old Grey Lady, no less. This is the paper the GOJ takes most seriously of all overseas publications. And they don’t pull punches–devoting most of the article to the criticisms.
NEW JAPANESE IMMIGRATION CONTROLS WORRY FOREIGNERS
New York Times November 18, 2007 (excerpt)
By MARTIN FACKLER
TOKYO, Nov. 17– Japan has tried hard in recent years to shake its image as an overly insular society and offer a warmer welcome to foreign investors and tourists. But the country is about to impose strict immigration controls that many fear could deter visitors and discourage businesses from locating here.
On Tuesday, Japan will put in place one of the toughest systems in the developed world for monitoring foreign visitors. Modeled on the United States’ controversial U.S.-Visit program, it will require foreign citizens to be fingerprinted, photographed and questioned every time they enter Japan…
[T]he measures, part of an immigration law enacted last year, have been criticized by civil rights groups and foreign residents’ associations as too sweeping and unnecessarily burdensome to foreigners…
Some of the most vocal critics have been among foreign business leaders, who say the screening could hurt Japan’s standing as an Asian business center, especially if it is inefficiently carried out, leading to long waits at airports. Business groups here warn that such delays could make Japan less attractive than rival commercial hubs like Hong Kong and Singapore, where entry procedures are much easier…. [and] runs counter to recent efforts by the government to attract more foreign investment and tourism.
“If businessmen based here have to line up for two hours every time they come back from traveling, it will be a disaster,” said Jakob Edberg, policy director in the Tokyo office of the European Business Council. “This will affect real business decisions, like whether to base here.”…
However, some civil rights groups worry that the government is using terrorism to mask a deeper, xenophobic motive behind the new measures. They say that within Japan, the government has justified the screening as an anticrime measure, playing to widely held fears that an influx of foreigners is threatening Japan’s safe streets…
“Terrorism looks like an excuse to revive to the old system for monitoring foreigners,” said Sonoko Kawakami at Amnesty International in Japan. “We worry that the real point of these measures is just to keep foreigners out of Japan.”…
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=768
ACCENTURE, MAKER OF THE FP MACHINES, NOW HIRING IN JAPAN, THRU TIGER WOODS!
Seems its not just former Yomiuri Pitchers anymore pitching this system.
Accenture (formerly the crooked and now defunct Arthur Andersen, accounting firm and book-cooker for Enron), is riding the wave of its cheap bid to build Japan’s biometric machines by expanding its operations in Japan! As reader Leslie writes:
Debito, Saw this ad in the subway yesterday. Seems Accenture, the offshore company with the contract to collect biometric data on foreigners in Japan, is hiring!
I am also astounded that foreigners arriving in Japan and refusing to give MOJ/Accenture their data will now officially have physical force used against them to force the extraction of the personal data. Nightmarish. Leslie
The profiteering never stops from companies like these, especially when the GOJ is under pressure from the local hegemon to contribute to the war effort.
No doubt buying American helps placate.
Perhaps Tiger Woods, pictured in the advertisement, would enjoy being treated as a potential terrorist and criminal next time he comes for a round of golf in Miyazaki?
See more about Accenture’s involvement in the biometric data market on Debito.org here:
November 24th, 2007 at 5:51 pm e
Perhaps it would be worth contacting Tiger Woods, through the agency that sells his likeness, to complain that he’s advertising for a company that is directly involved in these new Draconian measures that he himself would be subject to if arriving without fanfare.
The Interntational Management Group (IMG)
1 Erieview Plaza
Cleveland OH 44114
We’re also looking to recruit baseball’s Tuffy Rhodes, who has lived and played here for more than ten years, if he’s amenable. Imagine if he were to say, “The league has accepted me, the Buffaloes have accepted me, the fans have accepted me–but the government hasn’t.”
And as Mark in Yayoi notes, “He’s paid in a *lot* more tax money than any of us have!”
CONCLUDING STATEMENT: PROGNOSTICATIONS FOR THE PRESENT COURSE:
A HASTENED ECONOMIC OBSCURITY FOR JAPAN
With this new Fingerprinting policy, the Japanese government has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt anymore that it’s run by people who are either out of touch with just how internationalized Japan has become (with globalization and the Trainee Visa regime since 1990), or are just plain xenophobic (what with blaming foreigners for terrorism, disease, and crime). Even stupid (MOJ Minster Kunio “Friend of a Friend in Al-Qaeda” Hatoyama sexing up the justifications for the Fingerprinting policy).
And how if we don’t have a major change in leadership at the top (i.e. at least knock the LDP from it’s half-century in power), Japan will ultimately knock itself back into an economic backwater, no longer Asia’s representative to the world, what with the rise of China. That’s how I see the lay of the land at the moment.
That’s quite enough for this week. Thanks for reading and listening!
Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 28, 2007 ENDS