Global Voices Online: Some J bloggers’ view of NJ Fingerprinting

mytest

Hi Blog. Here are some translations, by Hanako Tokita at Global Voices Online, of some domestic voices in Japanese regarding the NJ Fingerprinting issue. Japanese and English T.

I won’t cut and paste them all here, since it is an elaborate site, but it’s worth a look. If only to see how half-baked the domestic debate has been.

http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/2007/11/12/japan-fingerprints-mugshot-welcome-to-japan/

Courtesy of Chris Salzberg. I hope Hana does more domestic comments, because given what I know and have experienced about how anonymity affects the responsibility of posters, I bet the ill-considered/reactionary/xenophobic comments are the majority. The ones up on GVO are surprisingly intelligent in places. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PS: GVO has appropriated Nick Wood’s excellent animation gif portraying the issue. Bravo.

LA Times and Terrie’s Take on NJ Fingerprinting: “an unmitigated public relations disaster for the GOJ”

mytest

Hi Blog. The issue just keeps on rolling. LA Times yesterday below says everything we’ve been saying, for a big US Pacific Coast audience with close ties to Japan (the article even includes Hatoyama and Al-Qaeda, just didn’t mention the GOJ’s connecting “contagious diseases and terrorism” to all NJ only); Terrie’s Take this morning even gives a shout-out to Debito.org as an “excellent” source (thanks!). Notable quotes:

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LAT: “Japan’s justice minister… even offered a bizarre personal anecdote to explain how easy it was for non-Japanese to sneak into the country. “A friend of my friend is a member of Al Qaeda,” Kunio Hatoyama told foreign reporters in Tokyo, saying that the man had entered Japan numerous times using fake passports and disguises. Hatoyama later backtracked slightly on his story, distancing himself from any connection to Al Qaeda and raising suspicions that he had embellished his anecdote to press the case for fingerprinting foreigners.”
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Terrie’s Take: “We’ll say up front that the proposed measures have been an unmitigated public relations disaster for the Japanese government and the Justice Ministry in particular. Although the basic idea was to cooperate with the USA and other nations to try to catch potential terrorists at the borders, the measures have in fact proven to be disjointed, unorganized, and ultimately unworkable. They have also managed to infuriate pretty much every long-term, tax-paying, foreign resident in Japan.”
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I’ll put Terrie Lloyd’s write up first, then Bruce Wallace of the LAT’s second. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E ‘S T A K E * * * * * * *

A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd. (http://www.terrie.com)
General Edition Sunday, November 11, 2007 Issue No. 445

+++ WHAT’S NEW

Back in early October (TT-440) we talked about the coming changes at Immigration, where the authorities have decided in their wisdom that every foreigner in the land except those who are third generation Koreans and Taiwanese, diplomats, US soldiers, and kids, will be subject to anti-terrorist biometric checks at the airport every time we come into Japan. Since writing about that, we have had lots of email and have been following the situation pretty closely. Many thanks to all those people dropping us notes about the changes as they have been happening.

We’ll say up front that the proposed measures have been an unmitigated public relations disaster for the Japanese government and the Justice Ministry in particular. Although the basic idea was to cooperate with the USA and other nations to try to catch potential terrorists at the borders, the measures have in fact proven to be disjointed, unorganized, and ultimately unworkable. They have also managed to infuriate pretty much every long-term, tax-paying, foreign resident in Japan.

Let’s get an update on what is happening now.

As many readers will already know, the Immigration folks have decided to put in place a pre-registration system and an “automatic” gate at Narita, so that permanent residents and others with re-entrant visas will be able to by-pass the tourist lines so long as they are pre-registered. You can apparently pre-register either at the Tokyo Immigration Bureau at Konan, inconvenient at the best of times, or at Narita Airport.

The pre-registration counters will be at the South Wing of Terminal 1 and South Side of Terminal 2. Note that the opening times at Narita are limited to 9.00am-5.00pm. So it’s probably a good idea to go early. There is no indication of how long the pre-registration process takes, but comments we’ve heard so far are a few minutes if there is no queue.

However, having said that, since literally tens of thousands of people with re-entry visas will be leaving for Christmas, you should leave plenty of time to get the pre-registration done. For documentation you just need the application form (presumably they’ll give it to you) and your up-to-date passport.

Now, if you happen to be using an airport other than Narita, including Haneda, Nagoya, and Osaka, there will be no automatic gates, and thus pre-registration isn’t going to do you much good. We can see this riling a lot of foreign business people who have picked Japan for lifestyle but who frequently travel to China and elsewhere in Asia for business. For those people, moving to Singapore right now has to look pretty good. It seems that the Japanese government isn’t really that interested in foreign investment after all…

Now for those of you used to the Japanese floating new laws and changing them after feeling the heat from the public, there is some hope. We have heard through a well-placed friend that the Immigration senior management are surprised at the amount of negative reaction by the foreign community. While their being surprised shows just how out of touch they are, in any case we heard that Immigration may in fact consider exempting permanent residents from the re-entry procedure after-all. If they do this, at least they’ll be bringing themselves back in line with the USA, where this whole biometric fiasco started in the first place. There, the green card holders are allowed to enter immigration through the US Citizen lines.

As the procedures have started to unfold (why do we get the sense that they’re making this up as they go along?), there has been plenty of newspaper reader feedback in the Daily Yomiuri and other foreign press. You have the Japan apologists stating, “Well, these measures aren’t so bad, what’s a little fingerprinting and eye scanning every now and again if it keeps the country safe?” through to “Oh, those whiney foreigners, if they don’t like it, let them go home.”

The fact is that the fingerprinting and eye scanning really are just an irritating inconvenience. What is making people mad is how the government has decided that foreigners living in Japan for decades, and in a number of cases those who were even born here, are now lumped in with tourists coming in for a week on the way to China or elsewhere. This seemingly insignificant rule change has woken up a lot of resentment over how Japan treats its foreign residents in general.

Getting past the feelings of shabby treatment, you then get to a more disturbing situation — what happens to the data after it is collected? At the end of October, we attended an Amnesty International Japan press conference, where a prominent leader of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Barry Steinhardt, related what is done with the data collected in the USA’s US-VISIT program.

He made some very interesting points. Firstly, that the terrorist alert database being used by the USA contains 750,000 names — an order of magnitude larger than the actual number of likely terrorists in the world — meaning that there are a lot of people on that list who shouldn’t be there.

Secondly, the database has been proven many times to be flawed thanks to its very superficial data. Essentially, any person with a suspicious first name/last name, like that of Dr. Robert J. Johnson, is flagged at the port of entry and they are regularly dragged off for grilling. Treatment like this of innocent people has naturally caused tourism to the USA as a percentage of the global travel market to fall — in fact by 35% since 1992. Japan can look forward to much the same result.

Thirdly, although no one has admitted as such, the ACLU suspects from recent cases involving activists prevented from entering Canada, that the USA is now sharing its database with other nations.

The announcements by Immigration say that the new biometric checks are being put in place to detect known terrorists as they enter the country. However, Japan doesn’t possess its own list of foreign terrorists, mainly because there hasn’t been an incident of foreign terrorism on Japanese soil (well, OK, North Korean abductions, maybe) since WWII. Thus, for them to correlate tourists entering the country, they’ll have to borrow someone else’s list. The ACLU and Amnesty are hinting that it will be the faulty US list. Too bad if your name happens to match one of the 750,000… Any Bob Johnsons among our readers? Let’s hope “Taru Suzuki” or a similarly popular Japanese name doesn’t suddenly make it to the list.

What is interesting, too, is that while Japanese names and biometrics are not on the Japanese database because the electorate wouldn’t stand for it, for those Japanese nationals traveling to the USA and UK, their data is indeed being captured — and it is only a matter of time before this data is fed back to Immigration here in Japan. This smacks very much of a back door effort by the powers that be to collect global data — and there isn’t much the civil rights people can do about it.

Then we heard another interesting tidbit. Now you might think that with all the hot technology for accurately scanning fingerprints and eyes, this data would be whizzing back in real time to some massive Interpol-like database, and that if there was a match then the Immigration officer’s screen would start flashing red and bells would start clanging.

Nope, nothing like that. What we heard is that the data is “batched” and sent to a screening center for analysis. Apparently it takes up to 24 hours to turn the data around! That’s probably just the right amount of time for an earnest terrorist to catch a bus over to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, let off some sort of device, and high-tail it back overseas.

So what we have here is a FUBAR situation of the highest order. 1) A law that no one really thought too hard about, but which will irritate the hell out of a lot of tax-paying, law-abiding permanent residents. 2) A computer database that is riddled with inaccuracies and is being adopted to buttress the Japanese screening effort. Let’s hope it gets some important Middle-eastern customer of Mitsui or Marubeni locked up for a week or two until the authorities find out that the database is unreliable. 3) A processing system that is so slow that a real terrorist could enter and exit the country without being detected in time.

There is a petition that you can sign to protest the new procedures. The URL is: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/fingerprints-japan/index.html. This petition will be presented to the General Affairs Division, Immigration Bureau, at the Ministry of Justice.

Also, we can recommend the website of Debito Arudou, which has an excellent running log of developments on fingerprinting and similar human rights issues. You can find it at:
http://www.debito.org/?cat=33

We’d be interested in hearing the experiences of people who have pre-registered on November 20th, and/or who passing back into Japan as permanent residents.

terrie.lloyd@japaninc.com.
ENDS

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Japan’s welcome mat getting prickly
New rules requiring fingerprints and digital photos of visitors are revealing about attitudes toward foreigners, critics say.
From the Los Angeles Times November 11, 2007
By Bruce Wallace, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-screening11nov11,1,4675245.story?coll=la-headlines-world&ctrack=8&cset=true
Courtesy of Jon Lenvik

TOKYO — The kind of greeting a foreigner receives at immigration upon arrival at an international airport can be a good, if imperfect, indication of the country that waits on the other side of the barrier.

London’s Heathrow? Long queues and lousy service.

New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International? Crumbling infrastructure and over-the-top bureaucracy.

Some Middle Eastern airports? Slow-moving lines that can be circumvented with the right connections and cash.

Now the Japanese government has created new immigration procedures for foreign visitors — rules that critics say are all too revealing about official attitudes toward foreigners.

On Nov. 20, Japan will begin fingerprinting and photographing non-Japanese travelers as they pass through immigration at air and sea ports. The government says the controls are a necessary security measure aimed at preventing a terrorist attack in Japan.

The new system is modeled on the U.S. program instituted in 2004 that takes digital photos and fingerprints of travelers entering the United States on visas. But the Japanese system goes further by requiring foreign residents — in addition to visitors — to be photographed and fingerprinted.

There are exceptions: diplomats, children younger than 16, U.S. military personnel serving in Japan, and long-term residents of Korean or Chinese descent whose presence here is largely owed to Imperial Japan’s overseas conquests. But all other foreigners will be scanned each time upon entry.

Critics say the data collection is a dubious terrorism-fighting measure, instead reflecting the government’s desire for closer surveillance of foreigners.

“The Japanese government has a long history of not wanting long-term foreign residents, and they really feel they need more control over foreigners,” said Sonoko Kawakami of the Japanese chapter of Amnesty International. “The government just wants to gather as much information as possible on people.”

The only terrorist spectaculars in Japanese history have come from homegrown groups: the Japanese Red Army, which conducted attacks around the world in the 1970s and ’80s, and the Aum Shinrikyo cult, which carried out a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995.

But officials say Tokyo’s support for the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan makes Japan a target, and taking biometric data such as fingerprints and digital facial photos is the only way to nab terrorists traveling on fake passports.

At least that was the recent contention of Japan’s justice minister. He even offered a bizarre personal anecdote to explain how easy it was for non-Japanese to sneak into the country. “A friend of my friend is a member of Al Qaeda,” Kunio Hatoyama told foreign reporters in Tokyo, saying that the man had entered Japan numerous times using fake passports and disguises.

Hatoyama later backtracked slightly on his story, distancing himself from any connection to Al Qaeda and raising suspicions that he had embellished his anecdote to press the case for fingerprinting foreigners.

But Hatoyama has long been among the senior public officials who believe Japan is already too open to overseas workers. When he became justice minister in August, Hatoyama made it clear he had no intention of proceeding with earlier plans to allow in more unskilled workers.

That, he warned, could lead to an increase in crime.

Statistics, however, show that the number of crimes committed by foreign visitors is falling. And despite alarm about particularly sensational crimes that attract media attention, Japan’s overall crime rate is declining or flat.

That hasn’t stopped some senior Japanese politicians from stoking anti-immigrant fires by contending that foreigners living in Japan commit a higher proportion of crimes. And those contentions have sent bureaucrats in search of ways to weed out the “good” foreigners, presumably those with money to invest, from “bad” ones, such as the Chinese pickpocket gangs that get so much media attention here.

The new immigration system appears to be one answer. Fingerprinting is actually a resumption of a system that was abandoned in 2000 after strong protests by long-term Korean, Chinese and Taiwanese residents who resented being fingerprinted in their own country. A jittery, post-9/11 America provided the initiative for the Japanese to revive it.

The law instituting the new regime passed parliament last year with very little outcry. The Federation of Japanese Bar Assns. was a lonely critical voice, complaining that fingerprinting people who had already been granted residency was an infringement on civil liberties. But the government avoided a repeat showdown with the Koreans and Chinese by exempting them from the new requirements.

“The Japanese public does not see this as ‘our’ problem,” said Masashi Ichikawa, a human rights lawyer in Tokyo. “The climate is that it is legitimate to be ‘against terrorism,’ and that people just have to follow the rules.”

The fingerprinting issue underscores the Japanese dilemma in dealing with foreigners.

On the one hand, in this age of increased global mobility, the threat of terrorism, though remote, is a plausible one.

But on the other, the Japanese government needs more foreigners. Japan has low unemployment by global standards and faces a demographic crunch as its population ages and workforce shrinks. Tokyo is fighting to preserve its position as a world financial center as competitors such as Singapore actively cultivate a welcoming aura for foreign businesses.

And Japan is still searching for ways to address its tourist deficit at a time when well-heeled travelers have a widening array of Asian destination choices.

It remains to be seen whether treating every visitor as a potential terrorist, until their fingerprints prove otherwise, is the best way to roll out the welcome mat.

———————
bruce.wallace@latimes.com

Naoko Nishiwaki of The Times’ Tokyo Bureau contributed to this report.
ENDS

Fingerprinting of NJ issue summarized as animation. Spread it around.

mytest

Hi Blog. Fingerprinting of NJ issue aptly summarized in animation. Spread it around.

Welcome to Japan.gif

Download it from here and use as you like:

http://www.debito.org/WelcometoJapan.gif

Courtesy of UTU’s Nick Wood. Thanks very much, and well done. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Nova Union on former NOVA employees exodus to G Education

mytest

Blog: News on the NOVA aftermath from the employee union’s point of view; watch Fuji TV tonight (Sunday Nov 11) for coverage of their Osaka negotiations. Arudou Debito

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From: carlet@jca.apc.org
Subject: [Nambu FWC] Nova and G
Date: November 11, 2007 10:16:04 AM JST
To: action@nambufwc.org

Members,
Much happened yesterday regarding the Nova case.

At 10am and 2pm at locations throughout the country, Nova’s trustee held information sessions explaining various aspects of the coming Nova bankruptcy and explaining G Education’s offer to hire all Nova teachers who want to be hired at the same working conditions they had before.

We leafletted the meeting in Tokyo, calling on teachers to join GUTS (G Union of Teachers and Staff, which doesn’t yet exist). Tony D. reports that 500 leaflets were passed out quickly with no problems.

We also last night joined forces with General Union to tell the trustee, Noriaki Takahashi, that former conditions are not enough. Both unions (Nambu and G.U.) submitted to him several demands, including full enrollment of all teachers in shakai hoken and open-ended employment. Other demands included a fund to protect student tuition advances. The trustee said he agreed with all the demands.

He explained that of all the 12 corporate “sponsors,” G had the best offer in terms of protecting staff and teachers — hire them all initially at same conditions — and in terms of offering something to students — can use remaining points by paying 25% of their cost on top of what they already paid to Nova. He said he agreed with the shakai hoken and open-ended employment demands and called on the unions to fight hard, to make his job easier.

Other details will be explained at our next Nova meeting — Nov. 18 at 7pm at the Nambu union office. Some details are very important concerning resignation versus dismissal. In short, if you want to work for G you must resign from Nova the day before you are hired by G. If you don’t resign from Nova, the trustee will fire you with a month’s notice. This will meet that your unpaid wages will continue to accrue even a month after you are fired. If you work for G, even if your school is not open and you are told to stand by at home, you will be paid full wages.

More to come later… Watch the Fuji TV news at 10pm tonight, which covers the Nova Union’s trip to Osaka to meet with the trustee.

In Solidarity,

Louis Carlet
NUGW Tokyo Nambu
http://www.nugw.org

LA Times on how J police ignore certain crimes. Like murder.

mytest

Hi Blog. We get some more press light on the Tokitaizan Sumo death last June, and how the police are NOT investigating it properly. No arrests have been made in conjunction with his brutal manslaughter. Turns out, according to this excellent article in the LA Times (well done Bruce Wallace), this is quite routine for the Japanese police. Read on.

This is far better than the recent NY Times outing on the subject. And it raises suspicions about a number of suspicious high-profile deaths in modern-day Japan. The nail that sticks out gets hammered down… on the coffin? Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Japan’s police see no evil
The boy had been badly beaten but his death was ruled natural. The case was closed in an official culture that discourages autopsies.
From the Los Angeles Times November 9, 2007
COLUMN ONE
By Bruce Wallace Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-autopsy9nov09,1,5774455.story?coll=la-headlines-world
Courtesy of Jon Lenvik

TOKYO — Photos of the teenager’s corpse show a deep cut on his right arm, horrific bruising on his neck and chest. His face is swollen and covered with cuts. A silhouette of violence runs from the corner of his left eye over the cheekbone to his jaw, and his legs are pocked with small burns the size of a lighted cigarette.

But police in Japan’s Aichi prefecture saw something else when they looked at the body of Takashi Saito, a 17-year-old sumo wrestler who arrived at a hospital in June. The cause of death was “heart disease,” police declared.

As is common in Japan, Aichi police reached their verdict on how Saito died without an autopsy. No need for a coroner, they said. No crime involved. Only 6.3% of the unnatural deaths in Aichi are investigated by a medical examiner, a minuscule rate even by nationwide standards in Japan, where an autopsy is performed in 11.2% of cases.

Forensic scientists say there are many reasons for the low rate, including inadequate budgets and a desperate shortage of pathologists outside the biggest urban areas. There is also a cultural resistance in Japan to handling the dead, with families often reluctant to insist upon a procedure that invades the body of a loved one.

But Saito’s case has given credence to complaints by a group of frustrated doctors, former pathologists and ex-cops who argue that Japan’s police culture is the main obstacle.

Police discourage autopsies that might reveal a higher homicide rate in their jurisdiction, and pressure doctors to attribute unnatural deaths to health reasons, usually heart failure, the group alleges. Odds are, it says, that people are getting away with murder in Japan, a country that officially claims one of the lowest per capita homicide rates in the world.

“You can commit a perfect murder in Japan because the body is not likely to be examined,” says Hiromasa Saikawa, a former member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police security and intelligence division. He says senior police officers are “obsessed with statistics because that’s how you get promotions,” and strive to reduce the number of criminal cases as much as possible to keep their almost perfect solution rate.

Japan’s annual police report says its officers made arrests in 96.6% of the country’s 1,392 homicides in 2005.

But Saikawa, who says he became disillusioned by “fishy” police practices and in 1997 left the force in disgust after 30 years, claims that police try to avoid adding homicides to their caseload unless the identity of the killer is obvious.

“All the police care about is how they look to people; it’s all PR to show that their capabilities are high,” Saikawa says. “Without autopsies they can keep their percentage [of solved cases] high. It’s all about numbers.”

The former policeman has written a memoir of his time on the force. Called “Policeman at the Scene,” it describes a police culture that has chipped away at the effectiveness of an autopsy system created during the U.S. occupation after World War II.

“The police textbooks taught us not to trust doctors,” he says, adding that police officers indirectly pressure doctors to sign death certificates without an autopsy. “Doctors are afraid of the police. They are afraid of retaliation. They worry the police could prosecute them for malpractice. So they are easily pressured.

“There is no one refereeing the police,” Saikawa says. “It’s scary.”

After the war, Americans created a medical examiner’s office for Tokyo after learning that thousands of deaths in the postwar rubble were being ascribed to starvation without any forensic examination. It was soon discovered that a tuberculosis epidemic was the main culprit.

The system was soon expanded to six other big cities which, for the most part, are the jurisdictions where autopsies are done with the most frequency (in 2004, autopsies were conducted in 29% of Kanagawa prefecture’s unnatural deaths; 18% of those in Tokyo). But much of the country remains without a fully functioning medical examiner system.

“There aren’t many doctors who want to do this kind of work and that means some areas don’t have a medical examiner at all,” says Dr. Masahiko Ueno, a former chief medical examiner in Tokyo who spent 30 years in the coroner’s office until he retired in 1988. Since then he has written more than 30 books about the cases that animated his career and the cold cases that intrigue him in retirement.

Ueno says his experience leaves him convinced that many homicides are being missed and he, too, blames a system that gives police great discretion over when an autopsy is performed. Although doctors are legally required to report “unnatural deaths” to police, the country’s medical act does not precisely define what that is.

The philosophical approach to death investigations differs between the West and Japan.

In the West, autopsies are performed to determine the cause of death. That is one reason the autopsy rate for people who die in hospitals has fallen in most Western countries: Improved medical diagnostics has removed much of the uncertainty about why a patient died.

But in Japan, investigations are not as concerned with uncovering the cause of death as with whether a crime has been committed. Without obvious signs of homicide, police are less likely to ask for an autopsy.

That applies to investigations of apparent suicides.

Japan has one of the world’s highest suicide rates, accounting for more than 30,000 deaths a year, but police request “almost no autopsies on suicides,” which could determine whether the cause of death is what it appears, Saikawa says.

Many police examinations of the body are cursory, he alleges, sometimes nothing more sophisticated than a visual examination.

Take the case in January 2006, when financial advisor Hideaki Noguchi was found dead in an Okinawa hotel with knife wounds. Noguchi was a close associate of Takafumi Horie, the brash founder of the Internet company Livedoor, which had just been the target of a nationally televised police raid and seen most of its multibillion-dollar value evaporate.

But despite being a central figure in a sensational criminal investigation and privy to Livedoor secrets, police declared Noguchi’s death a suicide. They did not ask for an autopsy, and the body was cremated.

Or take the suicide in April of Agriculture Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka, who was found hanged in his Tokyo apartment. Matsuoka was embroiled in a scandal involving the misappropriation of political funds that suggested a broad system of organized influence peddling. Even though Matsuoka’s troubles were destabilizing the government and his death occurred just hours before his scheduled appearance to answer questions before a parliamentary committee, no autopsy was conducted to ensure that he had not died from something other than hanging.

A day later, Shinichi Yamazaki, a businessman implicated in the same scandal, plunged to his death in a parking lot outside his Yokohama apartment. No autopsy was conducted in that case either.

“The police said it was suicide,” says an incredulous Saikawa, “because he had left his shoes placed neatly together on the balcony.”

Japan’s forensic specialists have long been calling for an overhaul of the coroner system, but it took the death of the young sumo wrestler to finally bring the shortcomings under sharper scrutiny.

Doctors at the hospital where Saito was brought in, unconscious and battered, have since acknowledged that they had doubts about the police verdict. They said they initially attributed his death to acute cardiac failure, which occurs when the heart stops suddenly and does not rule out foul play.

But the police insisted otherwise. So the hospital signed a death certificate that blamed a diseased heart for killing the 17-year-old. It released the body to Junichi Yamamoto, the master of the training facility where Saito lived and had collapsed after what was described as a “strenuous” practice session. No need to pick up the body, the boy’s grieving family claims Yamamoto told them by phone. We’re having him cremated.

Had Saito’s parents not demanded to see their son’s body, the truth about the wrestler’s death might never have been known.

But when the body was returned home in another prefecture, they were shocked by its battered state. The family asked medical professors at Niigata University to perform an autopsy, which revealed that Saito’s heart stopped from the shock of injuries inflicted upon him. He probably had been beaten to death.

On this wisp of suspicion rested justice for a dead boy.

More than a month later, under pressure from the family and Japan’s muckraking weekly magazines, Aichi police opened an investigation that found the stable master and other wrestlers had viciously beaten Saito. It was punishment, they said, because he was trying to quit sumo. The stable master has admitted hitting Saito in the forehead with a beer bottle the night before he died.

Leaks to the media from the police investigation indicated that the boy was beaten again the next morning, punched, kicked and hit with a baseball bat by other wrestlers while Yamamoto watched.

Under fire from an appalled public, the Japanese Sumo Assn. last month finally acted and banned Yamamoto from the sport. Aichi police did not respond to questions about the investigation, or the agency’s policies and practices on requesting autopsies.

They have yet to file charges.

————————-
bruce.wallace@latimes.com

Naoko Nishiwaki and Hisako Ueno of the Times’ Tokyo Bureau contributed to this report.
ENDS

IHT/Asahi and Metropolis: Two good articles on NOVA bankruptcy aftermath

mytest

Okay, yet another post under the wire…

Two good articles on the aftermath of the NOVA bankruptcy. One from the IHT/Asahi, the other from Metropolis Magazine by Ken Worsley of Trans Pacific Radio., including links to where people can get help. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Asahi Weekly
Cover Story: Nova fallout
IHT/Asahi: November 8, 2007
BY HIROSHI MATSUBARA, STAFF WRITER

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200711080113.html
Courtesy of Thom Simmons

With 4,000 Nova Corp. teachers out of work, now is probably the worst possible time to be seeking a job as an English instructor in Japan.

Picture Caption: A Nova Corp. teacher, left, who lost his job when the Osaka-based chain of English-language schools collapsed seeks job advice from a counselor at the Shinjuku Employment Assistance and Instruction Center for Foreigners in Tokyo last week.

The collapse of the Osaka-based chain of language schools means that hundreds of teachers now apply for every job opening, according to GaijinPot, a popular online job-site for foreign nationals in Japan.

Longtime Nova employees accuse the company of operating under a system that made quitting the company an unpalatable option.

They said Nova specialized in recruiting young, inexperienced university graduates with little or no practical Japanese-speaking ability.

That left many of them ill-prepared to find new jobs outside of, and to an extent, within the teaching industry–hence the current fierce competition for teaching positions.

Nova insiders say the company churned out teachers in much the same way that a fast-food chain produces hamburgers.

English Spot, a school in Higashinari Ward, Osaka, said 400 people applied in October for a single job opening that eventually went to a 26-year-old French national who gained her teaching credentials in Britain and had been working for Nova.

It noted that the vast number of applicants for the job the woman landed were former Nova teachers like her.

The woman said, “I am happy that the school chose me because I know that a lot of people at Nova are in trouble right now.”

Her application for the new job stood out because of her track record as a language teacher in Britain, where she taught French and Spanish at a secondary school, said Matt Kelley, owner and director of English Spot.

On Oct. 26, the day she started working at the school, Nova filed for financial reconstruction under court supervision.

G.communication group, a consulting firm based in Nagoya, will reopen at least 30 Nova schools and says it hopes to rehire the Nova staff.

As for Nova’s former president, Nozomu Sahashi, he looks set to face criminal charges shortly for failing to pay billions of yen in wages to his employees, sources said.

Some former Nova teachers are in such dire financial straits they are having to rely on their former students to feed them.

Since mid-September when Nova’s arrears of payment problems came under the light, the number of job-seekers who posted their resumes at the GaijinPot Web site has increased five-fold, often reaching more than 1,100 new applicants a day.

“As former Nova teachers jump into the ring for fewer English teaching jobs, some employers might develop an attitude that potential employees must be the cream of the crop, with very little enthusiasm in even spending time on interviewing less qualified candidates,” said Percy Humphrey, GaijinPot’s general manager.

At least 9,000 former and current employees of Nova have registered with the Web site, which offers only around 200 openings.

Since Nova applied for court protection last month, 330 former Nova teachers have visited a specially created counseling corner set up by the Tokyo metropolitan government-run Shinjuku Employment Assistance and Instruction Center for Foreigners.

Their concerns rarely differ: They want advice on unpaid wages, unemployment insurance and new job opportunities. In addition, 500 former Nova teachers have contacted the counselors by phone.

Naoto Moriizumi, a senior official of the Tokyo Labor Bureau in charge of the counseling corner, said the teachers usually arrived in Japan with a visa in “humanities and international services,” which allows them to work at jobs requiring fluency in foreign languages.

“Aside from teaching English, there aren’t many kinds of jobs to which they can apply without a certain fluency in Japanese,” he said. “Even other language schools now want candidates to have conversation-level Japanese, but unfortunately most Nova teachers have not obtained it.”

This description certainly fits Schevon Salmon, a 24-year-old American, who was recruited by Nova on the campus of a Florida college two years ago.

Last week, the resident of Tokyo’s Taito Ward visited the Shinjuku employment center only to discover he is not eligible for a dozen English-teaching jobs due to his limited proficiency in Japanese.

“It’s twice as hard to find jobs in other areas, because you do not have experience or enough familiarity with the language,” he said.

Referring to Tuesday’s moves to take over some Nova outlets, Salmon said: “That’s great news … but it does little to console the mass of teachers out there who need work.

“Isn’t this Japan where your company is like your family and you take care of your company because you know your company will take care of you?”

He said Nova owes him 250,000 yen in unpaid wages.

The bureau estimates that former Nova employees are still owed at least 1.5 billion yen.

Operators of small-sized schools, meantime, expect Nova’s collapse will prove to be a windfall in terms of getting new students.

“There’s no doubt the Nova debacle must have hurt the image of English schools in Japan as well as Japan’s image as a job market outside of Japan,” said Kelley of English Spot in Osaka.

“But Japanese people’s enthusiasm to learn English remains unchanged and now students are becoming more discerning in choosing schools,” he said.

“English schools have to get back to fundamentals that we are here to educate, not just to make profit,” he said. (IHT/Asahi: November 8, 2007)

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Bulletin
By Ken Worsley

The Decline and Fall of Nova
Japan’s largest employer of foreigners comes to an ignominious end
Metropolis Magazine November 9, 2007, Issue #711
http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/recent/bulletin.asp

“Any company that loses sight of the future and begins to think only of maintaining the status quo… well, that company is as good as finished.”—from Nova’s website

On Friday, October 26—while struggling to survive under a mountain of unpaid student refunds, strict government penalties, zero cashflow and an angry workforce—English language school operator Nova closed its doors and filed for bankruptcy protection after President Nozomu Sahashi was ousted in an emergency late-night board meeting.

The question on the minds of thousands of teachers, staff and students is whether those doors will ever open again. The answer may depend on whether or not the court-appointed bankruptcy lawyers are savvy enough to separate Nova from the man who ran it.

After the announcement that Nova was filing for protection, the court acted quickly, and by Friday afternoon had appointed two lawyers to act as trustees. Their task was to find a “sponsor” who would be willing to take over Nova’s operations and rehabilitate the firm. Hours later, four firms were named at a press conference: Department store operator Marui, retail giant Aeon, internet retailer Rakuten and Yahoo Japan.

Within a few days, however, Marui, Aeon and Rakuten stated they were not interested in the deal. Rakuten President Hiroshi Mikitani told reporters, “It’s honestly surprising that our name came up. I think it would be difficult for us to consider supporting Nova.” That left Yahoo Japan, which has yet to issue a public statement on the matter.

A few days later, the reasons why Marui was so turned off became clearer. The media reported that in May, Nova’s management was negotiating a deal in which Marui would provide Nova with ¥6.6 billion in cash in exchange for exclusive rights to collect on all loans taken out by Nova’s students. At the last minute, Sahashi walked out on the deal, saying he needed more time to think about it. He subsequently disappeared for a few days. Marui was not impressed.

That was apparently not the only time Sahashi scuttled a business deal that could have potentially helped Nova. Upper-level managers seem to have realized this a few months ago, and according to the Yomiuri Shimbun, have made five requests that Sahashi resign since mid-August.

The available evidence, as well as the media’s treatment of the story, have led many to believe that Sahashi is the single largest cause of Nova’s problems. Bankruptcy trustees have continued in their attempts to separate the man from the firm, bringing along members of the Japanese media to view the former president’s Osaka office. Boasting a suite, sauna and tatami room, the office apparently cost the company ¥60-¥70 million.

Much more egregious seem to be Sahashi’s stock transactions and flouting of the Securities and Exchange Law. When the firm applied for bankruptcy protection, it was reported by Kyodo News that Sahashi held about 20 percent of Nova’s shares. This was surprising, since Sahashi and Nova Kikaku, a firm run by one of his relatives, were publicly listed as holding an ownership stake of over 70 percent. Of course, Sahashi’s power was derived from that massive equity stake, and without it in the way, the other members of the board were able to force Sahashi out of his position.

Where did those shares go? The Mainichi Shimbun told us that by September 30, Sahashi and Nova Kikaku’s stake in Nova had declined to 16.02 percent and 3.69 percent, respectively. Yet Financial Services Agency regulations state that sale or purchase of greater than 5 percent of shares in a listed company must be reported within five days.

To make matters worse (for himself), on October 31 it came to light that Sahashi had been skimming money from Nova by selling video conference hardware at marked-up prices from Ginganet (a company of which he was virtually the sole operator) to Nova. Legal action against Sahashi is apparently being considered.

Finally, on the very day Nova petitioned for bankruptcy protection, Sahashi sold all of his shares in Ginganet and NTB (a travel agency he also ran) to an IP phone company in Tokyo. Nova’s court-appointed lawyers have expressed anger over this move, saying it should not have happened while the firm was entering bankruptcy protection.

In a sense, Sahashi has been playing into the hands of bankruptcy administrators who seek to pin the blame for Nova’s woes on him alone. His selfishness, petulance, disdain for employees and customers, and lack of business acumen make him an exceedingly worthy scapegoat. As this article was going to print, Sahashi remained incommunicado, and the bankruptcy administrators seem to be hoping that the worse he looks, the more the firm will appear as an innocent victim of his tyranny.

Will the strategy of separating Sahashi from the firm he wrecked succeed? Nova’s bankruptcy administrators claim that they have found a few firms interested in taking over the company’s operations, but this time they’re not naming names. Nova supposedly has until the second week of November to find a “sponsor,” or else it will be forced to go into a bankruptcy liquidation process.

This observer fears it may be too late. To paraphrase the quote from Nova’s website, Sahashi was the status quo, and sold the firm’s future to secure his exit. Whatever happens, Sahashi himself is as bad as finished.

=============================

WHERE TO TURN
Questions regarding legal issues such as claiming unemployment insurance, getting back pay and how to deal with eviction are never pleasant. Mix that with being in a foreign land and sifting through the slew of information coming from all manners of sources, and things are bound to get downright confusing. Here are some resources that should be helpful in seeking answers to those questions. As always, try to verify information with a second source, and if something seems suspicious, that’s probably because it is.

Gaijin Pot (http://www.gaijinpot.com/nova.php) has put together a collection of resources divided into four categories: Jobs, Housing, Legal Issues and Flights. From there we learn that Sakura House (http://www.sakura-house.com/english/nova.php) is offering discounts to former Nova teachers and that Qantas Airlines (03-3593-7000) is offering discounted rates to Australia for former Nova teachers.

If you’re thinking about collecting unemployment insurance, or would like more information on finding a new job, Hello Work (the “Tokyo Employment Service Center for Foreigners”) is a good place to start. They have some resources available in English, and their website has a guide to offices with foreign language assistance. See http://www.tfemploy.go.jp/en/coun/cont_2.html.

A final source of information are the two websites of the General Union, which represents Nova workers. The main site (http://www.generalunion.org) has news, information and links to other resources. The Nambu Foreign Workers Caucus site (http://nambufwc.org/issues/shakai-hoken) has a bit more news on it, with information on upcoming meetings in the Tokyo area.

ENDS

Japan Times: Fingerprinting NJ won’t stop terrorists, critics say

mytest

Hi Blog. One more before the blog server goes down for maintenance all day tomorrow:

//////////////////////////////////////////////

Will entry checks cross the line?
Fingerprinting foreigners won’t stop terrorists, critics say
The Japan Times: Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007

By JUN HONGO, Staff writer
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20071108f1.html

Despite government claims it is necessary to counter terrorism, a new immigration procedure obliging most foreigners to be fingerprinted and photographed upon entry to Japan has come under fire as an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

Critics also contend the new policy, which takes effect Nov. 20, will result in even longer waits at immigration control gates.

More to the point, experts doubt whether it will even stop potential terrorists from entering the country.

Under the procedure, visitors whose biometric data match those on confidential terrorist watch lists will be denied entry to Japan. The lists are believed to include one compiled by the U.S. government and contain the names of about 750,000 “terror suspects.”

Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama has said Japan will cooperate with U.S. authorities in exchanging immigration data.

But Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Program on Technology and Liberty, said the U.S. watch list is “bloated and full of inaccuracy.”

“The U.S. immigration policy is a total failure,” Steinhardt warned, expressing concern that Japan’s version of biometric verification will likely be built on a flawed foundation.

Exempt from the new measure are “special permanent residents” of Korean and Taiwanese descent who had Japanese nationality before the end of the war and their descendants. Also exempt are diplomats, children under age 16 and those visiting at the invitation of the government. Foreigners with permanent residency status will be obliged to submit to fingerprinting every time they enter the country.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo last month, Steinhardt alleged that not only will the immigration system put all visitors to Japan into an antiterrorist database, it will also fail to provide the defenses against terrorism that it promises.

He questioned the credibility of the U.S. terrorist list, noting it remains unclear how it is compiled — and how people get onto or off of it.

Steinhardt pointed out that pop singer Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, was denied entry to the U.S. in 2004 apparently after being mistaken for another person with the same name (though spelled differently) on the watch list.

“It’s full of mistakes. That is the reality in the U.S. and it’s likely to become reality in Japan,” Steinhardt said. “Whether or not the loss of liberty is worth the security gained is not a question — because no security is gained.”

According to the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau, all foreigners ineligible for exemption will be directed to special equipment — similar in appearance to a small computer display — for taking fingerprints and photos upon arrival in Japan.

Questioning by an immigration inspector will follow. Those who refuse will be automatically deported.

Naoto Nikai, an Immigration Bureau official, said passengers who preregister their biometric data can use an automated gate system. But of all Japan’s international airports, such gates are scheduled to be installed only at Narita International Airport, while preregistration can only be accepted at an immigration office in Shinagawa Ward or at Narita’s departure area beginning on Nov. 20.

“This is an important tool against international terrorist activity,” Nikai repeated to reporters during a briefing last month.

Asked whether the new process will cause longer lines at immigration, Nikai only said the bureau will try to maintain its current goal of getting each passenger through immigration within 20 minutes.

He wouldn’t answer whether foreign mothers traveling with Japanese infants would be separated at immigration gates. “The immigration officer at the airport will (make the judgment),” Nikai said.

Japan has also not decided how long biometric information collected under the new procedure will be stored in the system.

Although Nikai gave assurances that only the minimum number of personnel would have access to the data, Makoto Teranaka, secretary general of Amnesty International Japan, called the procedure a “violation of human rights to privacy.”

During a recent news conference, Teranaka pointed out that the database will likely be shared by police and other government agencies — and possibly their counterparts in other countries as well.

“We can’t see any justification for introducing this system,” he said, adding that the group will ask the government to reconsider.

Stressing the need to fingerprint and photograph even Japan’s longtime foreign residents, however, Justice Minister Hatoyama claimed to know about a disguised al-Qaida member who repeatedly entered the country on fake passports.

“A friend of a friend of mine is a member of al-Qaida,” the minister said in a speech at the FCCJ last month — a remark that stirred up controversy for which Hatoyama was rebuked by his fellow Cabinet members. He also said he had been told that terrorists were sneaking across borders using fake IDs.

“I realize this is arduous, but (biometric verifications) must be carried out (even on permanent residents) to fight terrorism,” Hatoyama said.

Daisuke Arikado, a representative of Tokyo-based nonprofit group Foreign Criminal Expulsion Movement, welcomes the strict procedure in hopes that it will make Japan safer “not only for Japanese, but for foreigners living here as well.”

While acknowledging cases of human rights abuses overseas resulting from strict immigration procedures, Arikado argues that as a country that hosts many U.S. military bases, Japan is obliged to ensure that terrorists are stopped at its borders.

Arikado also says the system will help keep previous deportees from re-entering the country, which he claims will reduce the crime rate by foreigners in Japan.

“It wouldn’t bother me to provide fingerprints and photographs upon arriving in the U.S.,” Arikado said. “When visiting a foreign country, it’s obvious that one should abide by its rules.”

The United States has fingerprinted and photographed visitors since 2004. Japan will become only the second country in the world to introduce such a system.

Longtime permanent foreign residents in Japan have protested the new procedure.

Louis Carlet, deputy general secretary of the National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu, whose members include many foreign workers, claimed that the system would be ineffective because any determined terrorist would likely find a way through the biometric verifications.

“The union is against the system,” said Carlet, 41, who has lived in Japan for 12 years and holds a permanent resident visa. “Fingerprinting blameless foreigners and treating them as criminals is counterproductive, and a violation of their human rights. If Japan wants to fight terrorism, it should stop cooperating in a war that is itself an act of terror.”

The Japan Times: Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007
ENDS
///////////////////////////////////////////////////

RELATED STORY

Arriving outside Narita will be worse, By Eric Johnston. Japan Times same day.

Fingerprinting: Amnesty/SMJ Appeal for Noon Nov 20 Public Appeal outside Justice Ministry

mytest

Hi Blog. Here’s the public appeal I was asked to translate for sponsoring groups Amnesty International/Solidarity with Migrants Japan. This is their upcoming November 20 Public Action in front of the Justice Ministry against Fingerprinting NJ. Attend if you like. Details in the appeal below. More on the event also here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

///////////////////////////////////////////////////

PROTEST JAPAN’S VERSION OF THE “US-VISIT PROGRAM”!
STOP FINGERPRINTING NON-JAPANESE!
TOKYO PUBLIC ACTION OUTSIDE THE JUSTICE MINISTRY, NOON, NOVEMBER 20!

(translated by Arudou Debito)

From November 20, 2007, the Japanese government will put into effect the Japan version of the US-VISIT Program, where all non-Japanese entering Japan (with the exception of children under age 16, Diplomats, and “Special Permanent Residents” (i.e. ethnic Koreans, Chinese, etc.) will have their fingerprints and facial photographs taken every time they cross the border.

This is none other than a system to track and tighten controls on foreigners, including residents. The government and the Justice Ministry loudly claim that this is an “anti-terror measure”, but consider the US-VISIT Program, inaugurated four years ago in the United States, that this policy is modeled upon: “It has been completely ineffective at uncovering terrorists. Rather, it has been used as a way for the government to create a blacklist and stop human rights activists from entering the country.” (Barry Steinhardt, American Civil Liberties Union, Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan October 29, 2007). We see Japan heading down the same path as the US.

Japan’s version of the US-VISIT Program is so laden with problems, and passed without adequate deliberation by the Diet, that we call for the government and the Justice Ministry to immediately suspend it. To his end, we will assemble before the Justice Ministry on the day of its promulgation, November 20, 2007, for a public action and protest. We call on the public to join us at noon that day and lend your support and participation.

=========================
DATE: Tuesday, November 20, 2007
TIME: Noon (public action will take 30 minutes to an hour)
PLACE: Ministry of Justice, Kasumigaseki, Tokyo (Goudou Chousha #6)
(Subway Marunouchi Line to Kasumigaseki Station, Bengoshi Kaikan exit)

ACTIVITIES: Sound truck with speeches
Placards, Message boards (NO TO FINGERPRINTING, FINGERPRINTING NON-JAPANESE IS DISCRIMINATION, “NON-JAPANESE” DOES NOT MEAN “TERRORIST” etc.–create your own slogan and bring your own sign!)
=========================

CONTACT:
Amnesty International Japan (Tel 03-3518-6777)
http://www.amnesty.or.jp/

Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ) (Tel:03-5802-6033)
http://www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net/
See you there!
ENDS

アムネスティ/移住連アピール: 「日本版US−VISIT」施行に抗議する! 11.20昼、法務省前に集まろう!

mytest

 「日本版US−VISIT」施行に抗議する! 11.20昼、法務省前に集まろう!

 「日本版US−VISIT」が11月20日から施行されようとしています。16歳未満と特別永住者 を除く全ての外国人から、入国時に指紋・顔写真などの個人識別情報を採取するこの制度 は、外国人に対する管理・支配をますます強めるものにほかなりません。政府・法務省は「テロ 対策のため」と声高に主張しますが、4年前からこの制度を実施しているアメリカでは「US−VI SITは『テロリストの摘発』には何の役にも立たず、むしろ政府がブラックリストに挙げた人権活 動家などの入国拒否のためにのみ使われている」ことが明らかになっています。先日来日され た米自由人権協会のバリー・スタインハードさんはその実態をくわしく証言されました。日本もこ の制度を導入すれば、アメリカと同じ道を進むことは目に見えています。

 私たちは、さまざまな問題を孕みながら国会での審議も不十分なまま成立してしまった「日本 版US−VISIT」の施行を即時中止するよう政府・法務省に強く求めるとともに、施行開始の当 日、11月20日に、以下の通り法務省前での抗議行動を行います。平日の昼ですが、ぜひ多く の皆さんが参加されますよう呼びかけます。
 
日時:11月20日(火)正午から(30分〜1時間)
場所:法務省前(合同庁舎6号館)地下鉄丸の内線霞ヶ関下車 弁護士会館となり)

★宣伝カーを使ってのアピール
指紋の紙型(厚紙で)、メッセージボード(「指紋押捺にNO!」「指紋押捺は外国人差別」「外国人は『テロリスト』じゃないぞ!」など、各自工夫をこらしたものをお持ち下さい。

呼びかけ団体:
アムネスティ・インターナショナル日本 TEL:03-3518-6777」
移住労働者と連帯する全国ネットワーク  TEL:03-5802-6033

*****************************************************
川上園子
社団法人アムネスティ・インターナショナル日本
ホームページ:http://www.amnesty.or.jp/
101-0054 東京都千代田区神田錦町2-2 共同(新錦町)ビル4F
TEL. 03-3518-6777 FAX. 03-3518-6778
E-mail:ksonoko AT amnesty.or.jp
★アムネスティ・メールマガジンのお申し込みはこちらから!
http://secure.amnesty.or.jp/campaign/
ENDS

Japan Times on Immigration’s fingerprinting of NJ outside of Narita

mytest

Here’s another article to show we’re being listened to… Debito

=====================================

Arriving outside Narita will be worse
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer
The Japan Times November 8, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20071108f2.html

OSAKA — As annoying as the new fingerprinting procedure will be for non-Japanese going through immigration at Narita International Airport, it is going to be much worse for foreign residents who don’t live in the Tokyo area.

Unlike at Narita International Airport, those passing through regional airports will have to go through the fingerprint registration process every time they re-enter Japan.

This is because only Narita, which handled half of all non-Japanese coming into the country in 2006, will introduce a new automated system that officials hope will speed up the new rules requiring most foreigners to have their fingerprints and photographs taken upon entry.

The Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau plans to introduce the automated gate system at Narita on Nov. 20.

Registration for the automated gate system is optional. Those who choose to do so must provide their passport information and have their fingerprints scanned and photographs taken. This has to be done first at select locations in and around Tokyo, including the immigration office at Narita airport.

Once registered, participants will go through the immigration line by having their passport electronically scanned and fingerprints confirmed.

They may still face questioning by immigration officials before being allowed to officially enter Japan. However, officials say people who are registered are likely to get through immigration quicker than those who aren’t.

While all of Japan’s international airports and ports will have the new equipment to take fingerprints and photos, Narita will be the only entry point where people will be able to register with the automatic gate system. There are no plans anytime soon to introduce it elsewhere.

Martin Issott, a Kobe-based British businessman, is calling on the Kansai region’s foreign residents, especially members of the business community, to lodge a protest to the Immigration Bureau over a policy he says is unfair and discriminatory.

“For foreign residents living in the Kansai, indeed, for all those living outside of the immediate Tokyo area, we will have no option but to be fingerprinted and photographed on each and every occasion we enter the country,” Issott said.

Kansai International Airport had little comment on Narita’s system, except to say it has no plan to introduce the automatic system.

Nor does the Immigration Bureau have the ability to preregister resident foreigners, Tokyo-based or not, before the system goes on line Nov. 20.

After Nov. 20, preregistration will be possible in Tokyo.

There are also questions on a separate matter. To date, airports have usually allowed foreigners with alien registration cards and re-entry permits to pass through immigration counters reserved for Japanese nationals.

At the moment, it remains unclear if fingerprinting and photographing machines will be set up at immigration counters reserved for Japanese citizens. During the initial period after Nov. 20, it could be the case that foreign residents will have to stay in the lines for foreign visitors only.

“That policy may change after Nov. 20, but it depends on the airport,” said Takumi Sato, an Immigration Bureau official in Tokyo.

In fact, the Justice Ministry has told the European Business Council in Japan that separate lines at immigration might be established for those foreign residents with re-entry permits who pass through certain regional airports. But the council warns this is merely an oral commitment.

On Oct. 26, the European Business Council and the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce sent a joint letter to Akira Tamura, director of the Immigration Bureau’s entry and status division, calling for a fingerprinting system that does not adversely affect foreign residents, businesspeople or companies in Japan.

“Foreign residents are currently allowed to line up together with Japanese citizens when re-entering Japan. Suddenly grouping long-term residents and taxpayers in Japan with occasional visitors risks creating excessive delays for frequent business travelers and imposing unacceptable costs on businesses that are heavily reliant on the efficient and rapid mobility of executives,” the letter states.

The letter calls on the ministry to notify regional airports in writing of the need to establish a separate line for foreign residents until the automatic gate system is introduced. As of early this week, the Justice Ministry had not formally responded to the letter, said Jakob Edberg, the European Business Council’s policy director.

According to the Immigration Bureau, about 8.1 million foreigners passed through the immigration centers at 10 airports and eight ports in 2006. About 50 percent arrived via Narita, while about another third entered via Kansai, Chubu, New Chitose and Fukuoka airports.

The remainder arrived at Haneda and smaller, international terminals at airports in Sendai, Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, Hiroshima, and Hakodate, Hokkaido, while a little more than 187,000 people, or 1.1 percent of the total, arrived by ship.

The Japan Times: Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007
ENDS

NO BORDER Speech Sun Nov 18 2007 Tokyo Hosei Univ Ichigaya Campus

mytest

Hi Blog. I’ll be speaking in Tokyo in two Sundays. Details as follows. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

======================================
No Border 2007
<ともに生きる社会をめざして> 
連絡先/More Information at
http://zainichi.net/

Living Together in One Society
在日外国人ボランティア・ネットワーク主催円卓会議
Round Table Discussion
Hosted by the Volunteer Network of Foreign Residents in Japan

主旨:昨年に引き続き、個人を主体としたボランタリーなネットワークづくりを目指した円卓会議(ラウンドテーブル)を開催します。議論を通じて、在日外国人および異なる文化をもつ日本国籍の人々について考えて行きたいと思います。
Objective: Following last year’s event, a round table discussion session will be held with the aim to assist individuals in their efforts in networking. Through discussion, this event aims to create an opportunity for individuals to consider the experiences of foreign residents and Japanese nationals with various cultural backgrounds in Japan.

11月18日(日)
10:00―17:00
法政大学市ヶ谷校舎
ボアソナードタワー26階 スカイホール
18 November 2007, 10:00 – 17:00, Hosei University Ichigaya Campus, Boissonade Tower 26F, Sky Hall
http://www.hosei.ac.jp/hosei/campus/annai/ichigaya/access.html

入場無料:途中入場・退出可
円卓会議は皆さんの発言をお待ちしています。
Entrance free. Participants are free to enter and leave the event venue as they wish.
Active participation is welcome and encouraged during the round table discussion session.

第1部「○○系日本人に居場所はあるか?」10:00~12:30
Part 1 (10:00 – 12:30)
Is there a place for Japanese of foreign descent in Japanese Society?
Discussing the multiplicity of what it means to be Japanese: Is there a place for Japanese nationals of various ethnic backgrounds in Japanese Society?
 VTR映像による問題提起「新・在日外国人」をめぐって
Defining the Issue: Presentation of the movie, “The New Foreign Residents of Japan” (Shin–Zainichi Gaikokujin)
 報告1 玄真行さん(映像作家)
 報告2 Elnaz Jalali, Nadyさん(ナディ)
Presentation 1: Gen Masayuki
Presentation 2: Elnaz Jalali, Nady

昼食:12時半~2時(軽食を用意します)。
12:30 – 14:00 Lunch Break (Light lunch is served)

第2部「新しい生き方を支えるためのシステムには何が必要か?」14:00~
   16:30
Part 2 (14:00 – 16:30)
What is necessary for a system to support a new Lifestyle?
 報告1 キムキョンジュさん(中京大学・コリア学園準備メンバー)
 報告2 井上 洋さん(日本経済団体連合会)
 報告3 有道 出人さん(北海道情報大学准教授)
Presentation 1:Kim Kyon Ju (Chukyo University)
Presentation 2:Inoue Hiroshi (Keidanren–Japan Business Federation)
Presentation 3:Arudou Debito (Hokkaido Information University)
Part 3 16:30-17:30 No Border Live

MORE INFORMATION AT
連絡先:http://zainichi.net/
ENDS

Protest pays off: Now separate lines for residents when fingerprinting NJ at Narita

mytest

Well, well, well. Look what cyberspace just sent me…

“On the way out of the country, I picked up an Immigration form. There WILL be a special booth for re-entry visa holders. But there WON’T be a card and we WILL have to be fingerprinted and photographed EVERY time we re-enter the country.”
naritanewbooths.jpg

COMMENT: You see, protest does have an effect.

But it still hasn’t resolved the problem of how this is going to impede businesspeople (especially APEC Business Travel Card holders…), not to mention the issues of treating every non-Japanese as a potential Typhoid Mary or Osama Junior… every time. Or the fact that the letter of the law is still not being followed nationwide. As Steve Koya poignantly commented today:

========================================
We have a loophole, or at least a stay of execution! All we need is a decent lawyer and we can stop this legislation.

It is a simple argument, following on from my note yesterday about the Automatic gates. A chat to Sapporo Immigration confirmed that there were no plans to have the gates at Chitose or at any other airport other than Narita, giving lack of time and money as a reason.

Well, despite the fact they may have no time or insufficient funds, unfortunately Immigration are required by the new law to make the Automated Gates available to non-Japanese residents, at all airports within 18 months from the promulgation of the legislation, 24th May 2006. There is no “Only Narita” clause, there is no post promulgation amendment.

If they are not able to apply the law, then it should be rescinded. You could also state that failure to apply the law in full would also make it non-binding, so refusing to give your prints would theoretically not be illegal.

All we need is a decent lawyer! Amnesty, show us your muscle!
========================================

I still say you should not be separated from your Japanese families. Stand together in the same line, everyone. Debito in Sapporo

Fingerprinting: Tokyo Demo Amnesty/SMJ Nov 20, Signature Campaign by Privacy International

mytest

Hi Blog. Forwarding with permission. Arudou Debito

—– Original Message —–
From: “toshimaru ogura”
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2007 16:25
Subject: Urgent action against Japan US-VISIT

Dear friends,

I am toshi, a co-president of People’s Plan Study Group (PPSG). As you know Japanese government will implement new immigration control system of finger printing and face scanning. We have two actions against the plan. One is an international signature organized by Privacy International. Another one is a demonstration in front of DOJ office at noon on Nov 20 organized by Amnesty International Japan and Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ). I will inform in detail more about the demonstration soon.

I attach the statement from Privacy International. This signature is for organizations not for individuals. I hope your organization approves and signs on for the statement.

Address for sign on Gus Hosein, Privacy International gus@privacy.org

best wishes,
toshi
People’s Plan Study Group

================================================
The Rt Honourable Kunio Hatoyama
Minister of Justice
1-1-1 Kasumigaseki Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Nippon

November 6, 2007

Dear Minister Hatoyama:

Regarding plans to fingerprint and face-scan all visitors to Japan

We, the undersigned human rights and civil liberties groups from around the world are writing to you to express our grave concerns regarding the Ministry of Justice’s imminent implementation of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act.

We believe that your plans to fingerprint and face-scan visitors and foreign-residents to Japan are a gross and disproportionate infringement upon civil liberties, copying the worst practices on border management from around the world.

We call on you to reconsider your plans to implement this system. We also call on you to explain to the world why they should travel to your country and face these inconveniences when you have done so little to explain the nature of this human processing.

Background

According to your plans for Immigration Control:

“In order to detect and oust, at the border, terrorists or foreign nationals who have been deported from Japan or committed crimes, one effective method is to further enhance measures against forged and falsified documents and to utilize biometrics in immigration examinations. In order to take facial portraits and fingerprint data during landing examinations of foreign nationals under the “Action Plan for Prevention of Terrorism” (as adopted at the Headquarters for Promotion of Measures Against Transnational Organized Crime and Other Relative Issues and International Terrorism on December 10, 2004), necessary preparations will be made by putting in order points for us to keep in mind, observing relevant measures taken by foreign countries and developing relevant law.”1

It has come to our attention that you plan to implement this system within a matter of weeks where you will face-scan and fingerprint all visitors to Japan and retain this information for an extended period of time (some reports claim that you intend to do so for up to 80 years), and combine it with other sources of personal information.

Infringing upon the Right to Privacy

Your plans are in breach of individuals’ human rights, and in particular, their right to privacy. The right to privacy is recognized specifically by numerous international human rights treaties. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the right to privacy under Article 12. Similar language is adopted in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights under Article 17, the United Nations (UN) Convention on Migrant Workers in Article 14, and the UN Convention on Protection of the Child under Article 16. We note that the Japanese Supreme Court has recognized the right to privacy under Article 13 of the Japanese Constitution.

Your system proposes to indiscriminately collect sensitive personal information from all foreign travellers. This mass project for the processing of human beings is tantamount to treating all visitors to your country as though they were criminals.

We are surprised by the lack of information regarding proposed safeguards and appeal methods. Instead we are given rhetoric about the importance of combatting terrorism and promises to force the return of anyone who fails to comply with this new requirement.

The protection of human rights is at its weakest when individuals are waiting for entry at the border of foreign country. Traditionally, governments afforded respect to visitors from other nations under the guise of reciprocity: if you treat our citizens with respect we will treat yours similarly. Japan is showing a remarkable level of disrespect to the dignity of your tourists and foreign business travellers by collecting detailed information on them, in an indiscriminate manner as a condition of entry, with no promise of safeguards, or means of appeal.

A Complex and Risky System

The collection of all this personal information and its centralisation into databases will create privacy risks, and will also lead to likely security risks.

We believe that Japan is making a grave mistake by following the path forged by the United States of America with its US-VISIT programme. Until the implementation of your system, the U.S. was alone in the world in fingerprinting and face-scanning all visitors and retaining this information for vast periods of time. Years into their programme we can now all see that the U.S. should serve as a cautionary tale rather than as an example for best practice.

The US-VISIT system was approved in a similar manner to the Japanese system. That is, it was approved through a highly political environment with little public debate and policy deliberation. In the U.S., the government relied on its rhetoric about fighting terrorism and crime instead of careful policy development and deployment. Now, years later, the US-VISIT system is finally receiving some of its much needed oversight, and the reality of advanced border systems is becoming clear. According to U.S. Government reports, we now are seeing that:

. after spending 1.3 billion over 4 years, only half the system is delivered.2

. expenditures continue on projects that “are not well-defined, planned, or justified on the basis of costs, benefits, and risks”, lacking “a sufficient basis for effective program oversight and accountability”.3

. the U.S. government has “continued to invest in US-VISIT without a clearly defined operational context that includes explicit relationships with related border security and immigration enforcement initiatives”.4

. “management controls to identify and evaluate computer and operational problems were insufficient and inconsistently administered” and thus “continues to face longstanding US-VISIT management challenges and future uncertainties” as it continues to “fall short of expectations”.5

. “lacking acquisition and financial management controls”, and project managers have failed to “economically justify its investment in USVISIT increments or assess their operational impacts”, “had not assessed the impact of the entry and exit capabilities on operations and facilities, in part, because the scope of the evaluations performed were too limited.”6

. “contracts have not been effectively managed and overseen”.7

. and finally, security “weaknesses collectively increase the risk that unauthorized individuals could read, copy, delete, add, and modify sensitive information, including personally identifiable information, and disrupt the operations of the US-VISIT program.” According to the chairman of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee, Senator Joseph Lieberman, the U.S. government “is spending $1.7 billion of taxpayer money on a program to detect potential terrorists crossing our borders yet it isn’t taking the most basic precautions to keep them from hacking into and changing or deleting sensitive information.”8

It is therefore of little surprise that the U.S. border systems occasionally fail. On a number of occasions the U.S. border systems have broken down resulting in thousands of people being forced to wait until the system problems could be worked out. For instance, in August 2007, 20,000 travellers were left stranded at Los Angeles airport, with travellers spending the night on the airport floors and planes being prevented from even coming into the gates for passengers to de-plane because the airport was overwhelmed.9

More stories are emerging from around the world where weak security protocols have made personal information held on visa databases widely available to the public and potential identity thieves, 10 and fingerprint mismatches have lead to gross injustices. Without competent planning and care, visitors to Japan have no reason to be confident that their personal information that they are forced to disclose will be adequately protected by your system.

Towards Effective Border Management?

Japan should be careful not to follow the U.S. lead. Recent surveys have shown that the U.S. is now rated worst place to visit for its immigration and entry procedures, followed by the Middle East.11

There are better ways of greeting visitors to your country than treating tourists and business travelers as though they were terrorists. There are privacy-friendly ways of identifying criminals at borders, and there are more and more effective ways of using biometric data without invading the privacy of all visitors and making them vulnerable to identity theft through the leakage of data from your systems.

In our experiences, technological systems fail most when they do not get adequate policy deliberation. We also believe that immigration policy is a complex domain that rarely gets the necessary attention and deliberative care that it deserves. Your plans to fingerprint and face-scan every visitor to your country appears to exemplify this risk. It is unfortunate that we could not offer our views earlier but your consultation was only conducted in Japanese.

Your plans will likely damage Japan’s standing in the world, make a wonderful and beautiful country less inviting to tourists, and will unnecessarily hurt Japan’s role as global economic leader. If serious changes to your plans are not made, we worry that a boycott of travel to Japan will be the only way to ensure that your government has planned sufficiently to cater for the privacy and security interests of global travellers.

Please reconsider your plans. Also, please note, that if you move down this path, others may well follow and will start fingerprinting your own citizens on the grounds that you do it to theirs. These systems will likely be as complex, risky, and insecure as yours. This is not the type of world that you, your citizens, or we would like to live in.

Yours sincerely,

Privacy International [other signatories here in alphabetical order]

=============================
FOOTNOTES
1 Ministry of Justice, ‘Basic Plan for Immigration Control (3rd Edition) provisional translation’, Section 3: Major Issues and Guidelines on Immigration Control Administration Services.
2 Government Accountability Office, Prospects For Biometric US-VISIT Exit Capability Remain Unclear, July 28, 2007, GAO-07-1044T.
3 Government Accountability Office, ‘U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Programs: Long-standing Lack of Strategic Direction and Management Controls Needs to Be Addressed’ , August 2007, GAO-07-1065.
4 Government Accountability Office, ‘Planned Expenditures for U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Program Need to Be Adequately Defined and Justified’, February 2007, GAO-07-278.
5 Government Accountability Office, ‘US-VISIT Program Faces Operational, Technological, and Management Challenges’, March 20, 2007, GAO-07-623T.
6 Government Accountability Office, US-VISIT Has Not Fully Met Expectations and Longstanding Program Management Challenges Need to Be Addressed, February 16, 2007, GAO-07-499T.
7 Government Accountability Office, ‘Contract Management and Oversight for Visitor and Immigrant Status Program Need to Be Strengthened’, June 2006, GAO-06-404.
8 ‘Lieberman Cites Vulnerability of Terrorism Tracking Data’, August 3, 2007, statement available at
http://lieberman.senate.gov/newsroom/release.cfm?id=280527&&.
9 ‘Mayor calls for Probe of LAX Computer Crash’, CBS, August 13, 2007.
10 ‘Security concerns hit web visa applications’, Joe Churcher, The Scotsman, May 18, 2007.
11 ‘How to help the huddled masses through immigration’, Gideon Rachman, Financial Times, March 12, 2007.

((((((((((^0^))))))))))
toshimaru ogura
ogr@nsknet.or.jp
http://www.alt-movements.org/no_more_capitalism/
http://www.peoples-plan.org/jp/
((((((((((^0^))))))))))
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 5, 2007

mytest

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 5, 2007

Podcast available here:
[display_podcast]

Contents as follows:
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) DOCUMENTARY FILM ON CHILD ABDUCTION: TOKYO DEC 11 FUND RAISER
2) NJ FINGERPRINTING POLICY FOLLOW-UP:
a) EUROPEAN AND ANTIPODEAN BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS LODGE PROTESTS
b) US MILITARY SOFA EXCEPTED FROM FP LAWS
c) PROBABLE USG INVOLVEMENT IN FP POLICY INCEPTION
d) DIET DEBATES ON ANTI-TERROR POLICY NOT OVER YET
e) MOJ MINISTER HATOYAMA JUSTIFIES FP POLICY THRU HIS OWN AL-QAEDA LINKS

3) THE DRAGNET TIGHTENS: USG: PROVE NO CRIMINAL RECORD OVERSEAS FOR GOJ LONG-TERM VISAS
4) JAPAN FOCUS: “JAPAN’S MULTICULTURAL FUTURE OF MIGRANTS BECOMING IMMIGRANTS”
5) JAPAN TIMES: “JAPAN’S UNSCIENTIFIC HUMAN RIGHTS SURVEY”

…and finally…
6) WE ARE BEING LISTENED TO: ARTICLES ON SUMO AND EXCLUSIONARY SPORTS LEAGUES

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org)
Previous newsletters and podcasts archived at http://www.debito.org/index.php
Freely forwardable

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

1) DOCUMENTARY FILM ON CHILD ABDUCTION: TOKYO DEC 11 FUND RAISER

I put this one first in the newsletter because I’m closely associated with this project (I’m interviewed in the film–see the link to the trailer below) and have a personal stake in the subject. I encourage you to join us for the fund raiser, help out in any way you can, and even perhaps suggest venues we could appear at to get the word out.

This is the Golden Age of the documentary, and this one ranks amongst the important ones. Help us get it launched.

=======================================
DOCUMENTARY FILM ON PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION IN JAPAN
PLANS DECEMBER 11TH FUNDRAISER IN TOKYO
By David Hearn and Matt Antell

We first learned of this situation in January 2006 in a Metropolis article titled “Think of the Children” by Kevin Buckland, and after some discussions we felt strongly that a documentary film would be an influential way to raise awareness about the issue. Both of us are married to Japanese and have started wonderful families, but hearing how easily and frequently a parent can be cut off from seeing their own kids was very disturbing. In reality, when a marriage in Japan or with a Japanese national(s) goes bad and there are kids involved, the situation easily becomes drastic and severe. Though the Japanese courts, government and police may not have intended it to be this way, Japan has become an abduction-friendly country, where the winner is the first one to grab the kids and run. We want to make this film to expose the depth of the current problem and how it affects everyone–worst of all, the children who are caught in the middle.

For the past year we have juggled our schedules to travel to several cities all over the world, talking to left-behind parents, attempting to speak with abducting parents, and conversing with experts on divorce, child psychology and law–to gain and ultimately share a greater understanding of how and why this situation exists. We plan to take at least two months off from our current employment in spring 2008, and dedicate ourselves full time to edit and finalize the film. We aim for a screening at a film festival before the year is out. Our intention is to show it outside Japan first, garnering international support to create “gaiatsu” (outside pressure) that will force Japan to address and take responsibility for addressing the current situation. Matt and I want to make a film with tremendous impact in a prompt time frame, and to do that will require a much greater amount of funds than we have at this point. It is our goal to raise close to a quarter million dollars for this purpose. We ask all of you to consider making a donation within your budget toward our goal. For American tax payers we will soon have information about how you can donate tax free to our non-profit account at IDA.

We will have a Fundraiser at the Pink Cow restaurant in Shibuya on December 11th from 7:30 to 10:00pm.
Tickets cost 10,000 yen include a beautiful buffet dinner two drinks (then cash bar), speakers and discussion about the current situation and a video presentation
.
For tickets contact: dave@fortakaandmana.com

Murray Wood, Steve Christie and Debito Arudou are among the list of attendees.
Please visit our website at:
http://www.fortakaandmana.com
View our trailer and find out more details about the film, links to other important websites, and donation details.
Matt’s e-mail is: matt@fortakaandmana.com
Dave’s e-mail is: dave@fortakaandmana.com

Thank you for your time and consideration.
David Hearn and Matt Antell

=======================================

MORE ON THIS ISSUE:
“Think of the Children: Japan’s prejudiced legal system encourages desperate parents to abduct their own kids”: Metropolis, January 27, 2006, by Kevin Buckland

http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/618/feature.asp
“Remember the Children: One year on, has anything changed in the fight against international child abduction?” Follow-up article in Metropolis January 26, 2007, by Kevin Buckland
http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/670/globalvillage.asp
Children’s Rights Network Japan
http://www.crnjapan.com/en/

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

2) NJ FINGERPRINTING POLICY FOLLOW-UP:
a) EUROPEAN AND ANTIPODEAN BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS LODGE PROTESTS

Both the European Business Council in Japan and the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan have agreed that Immigration’s new NJ Fingerprint Laws “impose unacceptable costs” on businesses, and finds regrettable the “grouping [of] long-term residents and taxpayers in Japan with occasional visitors”.

========================================
“We believe that the introduction of mandatory fingerprinting and photographing of foreigners entering and re-entering Japan must be conducted in such a way that it does not adversely affect foreign residents, businessmen and companies in Japan.”
========================================

So says a protest letter to the MOJ Immigration Bureau (cced to MOFA) in PDF format signed by Richard Colasse, Chairman of the EBC, and Tim Lester, Chairman of the ANZCCJ. Click here to see it:
http://www.debito.org/EBCANZCCJletterOct262007.pdf
Jpeg thumbnails of the letters in English and Japanese here:
http://www.debito.org/?p=689

An email released to Debito.org written by Jacob Edberg, Policy Director of the EBC, indicates that the protesting is in some way paying off–with some changes in the procedures:

========================================
…After long discussions with the Ministry of Justice, it is now clear that re-entry permit holders will be able to pre-register fingerprints and photo at either Shinagawa or at Narita on the way out. Undergoing this procedure once should grant swift re-entry at Narita (not other international airports) as long as the passport/ re-entry permit is valid. Information about this system is not yet available in English but can since October 26 be found in Japanese on the MOJ website:
http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan63-2.pdf

The Ministry of Justice has also said that for those re-entry permit holders who have not yet pre-registered their fingerprints and photos, there should be a line separate from other foreigners (e.g. tourists) at the immigration counter. However, the MOJ not yet made this commitment in writing – because they may not be able to staff the extra lines at all times of the day… At this time, the semi automatic gate system will not be available at Kansai and Nagoya International airports...
========================================
Full email at http://www.debito.org/?p=689

COMMENT: What incredible incompetence by the Ministry of Justice! Did they think that inconveniencing people to this degree (under a discriminatory and xenophobic rubric, to boot) would occasion no protest or comment from the world around them? Are they still convinced that Japan is immune to the forces of globalization?!

Then again, it’s easier to understand when viewed through a prism of geopolitics. Consider two facts of the case:

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

b) US MILITARY SOFA EXCEPTED FROM FINGERPRINT LAWS
c) PROBABLE USG INVOLVEMENT IN POLICY INCEPTION

The favorite sons of Japan’s geopolitics are allowing their troops to be counted as “Diplomats”:

=========================
From: American Embassy Tokyo
Date: Wed Oct 31, 2007 19:57:07 Asia/Tokyo
Subject: Welcome to the November newsletter!
(EXCERPT)
http://tokyo.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-newsletter20071101.html#bio

The Government of Japan recently informed us that as of November 20, 2007, Immigration officials at the port of entry will digitally scan the fingerprints of and photograph all foreign nationals entering Japan, with the exemption of certain categories listed below. This requirement does not replace any existing visa or passport requirements. Foreign nationals that are exempt from this new requirement include special permanent residents (Tokubetsu Eijuusha), persons under 16 years of age, holders of diplomatic or official visas, and persons invited by the head of a national administrative organization. Please note that permanent residents will also be expected to submit to this new requirement. The Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice posted an explanatory video on the new procedures on June 14, 1007. The short video entitled “Landing Examination Procedures for Japan are Changing!” can be viewed here.

UPDATE: Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) personnel are exempt under SOFA Article 9 (2) from the new biometrics entry requirements.
************************
Comment from the person who notified me:
“I think this means that if a person with three decades of permanent Japan residence under his/her belt flies into the airport with 18 year old Seaman Doe, whatever his/her nationality or background, Doe goes through the line without photo and fingerprint check. That does not make any sense at all.”
=========================

As for USG involvement, here’s a comment from the Oct 29 Debito.org podcast section up at Trans Pacific Radio:
http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/10/31/debito-102907-fingerprints-japan-accenture/
==============
November 1, 2007
Hi Debito. Just read the last paragraph of this document prepared by the Department of Homeland Security of the US, and find who is forcing Ministry of Justice of Japan to collect fingerprints of foreigners coming to Japan:

—————————————–
Pool Data with Like-minded Foreign Governments – As the United States’ systems and data improve, State and DHS must make these initiatives global. We will continue diplomatic efforts for the comprehensive exchange of watchlists, biometrics, and lost and stolen passport information with other governments as well as building capacity to effectively use this information. A central topic in this diplomacy is development of a common approach to protecting the privacy of the data, both in the way it is collected and the way it is shared.
http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/press_release_0838.shtm
—————————————–
This page was last modified on 01/17/06
=========================

A clear bit of gaiatsu happening here, from our friendly neighborhood hegemon.

Meanwhile, here’s how the opposition parties, which have stopped anti-terrorism measures (most notably the GOJ’s contribution to the war effort with refueling ships in the Indian Ocean) from being renewed, are likely to respond in future:

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

d) DIET DEBATES ON ANTI-TERROR POLICY NOT OVER YET

Jeff Korpa writes for Debito.org (excerpt):
========================================
In a previous message I said: “Regarding the Anti-terrorism Law, my belief is that reports of its demise are premature. Despite Ozawa having the power to snuff out the legislation, and his rhetoric about how the change in the LDP leadership would not change DPJ’s resolve on the issue, Ozawa has long supported lifting restrictions on Japan’s security forces. For instance, in 1998 he remarked that it only required a reinterpretation of the constitution to allow Japanese defense forces to take part in overseas combat operations. And less than a year later, Ozawa warned that the SDF needed strengthening.”

Well, even though Fukuda has been unable to get support from Ozawa in order to attain upper house approval for an extension to the Anti-terrorism Law, I still don’t think this is the end of the road for this legislation–as long as Fukuda can secure two-thirds of the lower house in a subsequent vote (which he can, since the lower house is controlled by the LDP), the Anti-terrorism Law (and the controversial refueling missions) will live to see another day.

OK, so why aren’t the two boys playing nice together? I have two theories–Small Politics and Big Politics:

Small Politics: Ozawa is playing games trying to capitalize on the MSDF refueling issue so he can steal back some popularity that Fukuda won in the aftermath of Abe’s resignation.

Big Politics: With regard to Japan’s military future, the long-term goals of the DPJ and LDP are the same, but the two men are at odds as to what role the United States should play…
========================================
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=688

COMMENT: Now with Ozawa’s resignation as DPJ party chief yesterday, all the cards are airborne. I still don’t follow how Ozawa’s inability to reach an agreement with PM Fukuda means he resigns his leadership of the opposition party. I have a feeling that all the future horse trading will mean that, as far as the NJ communities in Japan go, there’s going to be no relief or change in negative policies towards them for the foreseeable future. Especially when you have people like these grasping the reins of power:

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

e) MOJ MINISTER HATOYAMA JUSTIFIES FP POLICY THRU HIS OWN AL-QAEDA LINKS

Our Minister of Justice should be more careful about the company he keeps… and the conclusions he draws. Witness his denouement at the FCCJ last week:

========================================
HATOYAMA JUSTIFIES TAKING PRINTS WITH ‘FRIEND OF A FRIEND’ IN AL-QAIDA CLAIM
Mainichi Shinbun Oct 29, 2007 (excerpt)

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/national/news/20071029p2a00m0na052000c.html

TOKYO (AP) Japan’s justice minister said Monday a “friend of a friend” who belonged to al-Qaida was able to sneak into the country with false passports and disguises, proving Tokyo needs to fingerprint and photograph arriving foreigners…

Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama, however, told reporters that he had personal knowledge of how terrorists can infiltrate the country, citing an unidentified “friend of a friend” who was involved in a bomb attack on the Indonesian island of Bali.

“I have never met this person, but until two or three years ago, it seems this person was visiting Japan often. And each time he arrived in Japan, he used a different passport,” Hatoyama said. The justice minister added that his friend, whom he also did not identify, had warned him to stay away from the center of Bali.

Hatoyama did not specify which of two Bali bomb attacks–in 2002 and 2005–he was referring to. Nor did he say whether the warning came before a bombing, or whether he alerted Indonesian officials…

“The fact is that such foreign people can easily enter Japan,” Hatoyama said. “In terms of security, this is not a preferable situation. I know this may cause a lot of inconvenience, but it’s very necessary to fight terror,” Hatoyama said of the fingerprinting measures. “Japan may also become a victim of a terrorist attack.”

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said he hoped Hatoyama’s al-Qaida connection would not re-enter Japan. “I hope he’ll deal with this issue firmly through immigration controls now that he’s justice minister,” Fukuda said…
========================================
Full article and discussion at http://www.debito.org/?p=679

The aftermath:
========================================
MACHIMURA, FUKUDA WARN JAPAN MINISTER ABOUT REMARK ON AL-QAEDA
By Stuart Biggs and Takashi Hirokawa (excerpt)

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=amFDgzcptPm0&refer=japan

Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura and Japan’s Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda cautioned Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama over comments he made suggesting a “friend of a friend of his” is a member of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Hatoyama spoke in “an inappropriate way without taking into account where he was,” Fukuda said at a session of parliament today. “I asked Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura to caution him.”…
http://www.debito.org/?p=679#comment-87289
========================================

The issue does not seem to have gone much farther, but the deeper you dig, the more this Hatoyama bloke seems a right twit…

========================================
Interview with Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama
Shuukan Asahi, October 26, 2007 P.121~125.
Title: “The Reason I will carry out Executions.”

Partial translation by Michael H. Fox, Director, Japan Death Penalty Information Center
http://www.jdpic.org

Q: There is a big trend to abolish the death penalty worldwide. Why do you want to keep it in Japan?

HATOYAMA: The Japanese place so much importance on the value of life, so it is thought that one should pay with one’s life after taking the life of another. You see, the Western nations are civilizations based on power and war. So, conversely, things are moving against the death penalty. This is an important point to understand. The so called civilizations of power and war are opposite (from us). From incipient stages, their conception of the value of life is weaker than the Japanese. Therefore, they are moving toward abolishment of the death penalty. It is important that this discourse on civilizations be understood.

Q: You are very critical of of the future plan to raise the passing rate for the Bar exam.

HATOYAMA: When we examine the problem from the viewpoint of government and administration, I think that Japanese civilization will suffer the most. As the Japanese respect the value of life, there is a strong and pressing demand to maintain order. Similarly, Japan is a civilization of beauty and compassion, a civilization of harmony. This is not to sanction collusion (dango), but engaging in dialogue and reciprocal understanding is a wonderful characteristic of Japanese civilization. The fact is, since the West is a very dry civilization, it’s all right to take everything to court. This type of thinking will disrupt and erase the very best parts of Japan.
========================================

COMMENT: What the heck? I just think Hatoyama didn’t think carefully before shooting off his mouth at the FCCJ. He’s part of the political elite, living in his own little debate world, and not used to the press (esp the docile J press and Kisha Clubs) holding his feet to the fire. His comments about Japan vs the West (in all its incantations) regarding the value of life are probably common currency in the top echelons of the LDP, indicative of how closed-circuit the discussion circles are this high up. But expose them to a bit of light and you see how far removed these people are from reality. Yet they are the ones voting on policy. Policies like these:

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

3) THE DRAGNET TIGHTENS: USG: PROVE LACK OF CRIMINAL RECORD OVERSEAS FOR GOJ LONG-TERM VISAS

Forwarding a message from The Community volunteer online group:

===============================
October 4, 2007
Hello, Does anyone have any more information about this new (I think) development? What do they mean by long-term residents? Anyone who is not a tourist? Does it include permanent residents?

——————————————-
New Long Term Residency Requirements: Japan recently modified its Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act. The law now requires that long-term residents provide satisfactory evidence that they do not have a criminal record in their home country when renewing their resident card. To obtain such proof, U.S. citizens with long-term resident status in Japan need to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and provide it with a copy of their fingerprints. To request such service, please follow the guidance listed here. For more details about the Japanese requirements, check with the nearest immigration office in Japan,
http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/information/ib-09.html

Source:
U.S. Department of State, Consular Information Sheet: Japan

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1148.html
——————————————-

I am getting really annoyed at being treated like a criminal what with all this fingerprinting. We seemed to be moving nicely away from that trend in recent years with the fingerprints being removed from our Alien Registration Cards. I am feeling distinctly unwelcome in the country I have called home for ten of the past twelve years… Shaney
===============================

Subsequent discussion on the issue, archived at
http://www.debito.org/?p=639
reveals that other agencies, such as Yokohama and Nagoya Immigration, and even other embassies (UK and Australia) haven’t heard of this requirement at all. What a mess.

People with more time than me (and I know some people in the US Embassy are receiving this newsletter), please clarify what’s going on on the blog or at Debito.org.

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

4) JAPAN FOCUS: JAPAN’S MULTICULTURAL FUTURE OF MIGRANTS BECOMING IMMIGRANTS

Another academic essay of mine got published at Japan Focus, a very good website for those who can’t get through academic journals, but want something meatier than the average newspaper article:

====================================
JAPAN’S FUTURE AS AN INTERNATIONAL, MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY: FROM MIGRANTS TO IMMIGRANTS
By Arudou Debito. Japan Focus, October 29, 2007

http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2559
Summary:

Despite an express policy against importing unskilled foreign labor, the Government of Japan (GOJ) since 1990 has been following an unacknowledged backdoor “guest worker” program to alleviate a labor shortage that threatens to become chronic. Through its “Student”, “Entertainer”, “Nikkei repatriation”, “Researcher”, “Trainee”, and “Intern” Visa programs, the GOJ has imported hundreds of thousands of cost-effective Non-Japanese (NJ) laborers to stem the “hollowing out” (i.e. outsourcing, relocation, or bankruptcy) of Japan’s domestic industry at all levels.

As in many countries including the United States, France and South Korea, immigration has become a hotly-debated subject. While Japan’s immigrant population is much smaller than that of many European and North American countries, there is growing reliance on foreign labor resulting in a doubling of the number of registered NJ in Japan since 1990.

Despite their importance to Japan’s economy, this has not resulted in general acceptance of these laborers as “residents”, or as regular “full-time workers” entitled to the same social benefits under labor laws as Japanese workers (such as a minimum wage, health or unemployment insurance). Moreover, insufficient GOJ regulation has resulted in labor abuses (exploitative or coercive labor, child labor, sundry human rights violations), to the degree that the GOJ now proposes to “fix” the system by 2009. The current debate among ministries, however, is not focused on finding ways to help NJ workers to assimilate to Japan. Rather it has the effect of making it ever clearer that they are really only temporary and expendable. The most powerful actor in the debate is the Justice Ministry. Its minister under the former Abe administration proposed term-limited revolving-door employment for NJ workers. Meanwhile, one consequence of the present visa regime is a growing underclass of NJ children, with neither sufficient language abilities nor education to develop employable skills and adjust to Japanese society. Nevertheless, immigration continues apace. Not only does the number of foreign workers grow, but Regular Permanent Residents (RPRs) also increase by double-digit percentages every year. By the end of 2007, the number of RPRs will surpass the number of generational Zainichi Permanent Residents of Korean and Taiwan origins. In conclusion, Japan is no exception to the forces of globalization and international migrant labor. The GOJ needs to create appropriate policies that will enable migrant workers and their families to integrate into Japanese society and to find appropriate jobs that will maximize their contributions at a time when Japan faces acute labor shortages that will increase the importance of migrants…
====================================

Full essay at:
http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2559

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

5) JAPAN TIMES: “JAPAN’S UNSCIENTIFIC HUMAN RIGHTS SURVEY”

Speaking of social science, consider the science involved in conducting a public survey. Now see how the GOJ can muck it up in a most discriminatory manner…

======================================
THE ZEIT GIST
HUMAN RIGHTS SURVEY STINKS
GOVERNMENT EFFORT RIDDLED WITH BIAS, BAD SCIENCE
By DEBITO ARUDOU
Special to The Japan Times Community Page, October 23, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20071023zg.html

On Aug. 25, the Japanese government released findings from a Cabinet poll conducted every four years. Called the “Public Survey on the Defense of Human Rights” (http://www8.cao.go.jp/survey/h19/h19-jinken), it sparked media attention with some apparently good news.

When respondents were asked, “Should foreigners have the same human rights protections as Japanese?” 59.3 percent said “yes.” This is a rebound from the steady decline from 1995 (68.3 percent), 1999 (65.5) and 2003 (54).

Back then, the Justice Ministry’s Human Rights Bureau publicly blamed the decline on “a sudden rise in foreign crime.” So I guess the news is foreigners are now regarded more highly as humans. Phew.

No thanks to the government, mind you. Past columns have already covered the figment of the foreign crime wave, and how the police stoked fear of it. If anything, this poll charted the damage wrought by anti-foreigner policy campaigns.

But that’s all the poll is good for. If the media had bothered to examine its methodology, they’d feel stupid for ever taking it seriously: Its questions are skewed and grounded in bad science…
======================================
Rest at Debito.org with an unpublished cartoon at
http://www.debito.org/japantimes102307.html

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

…and finally…
6) WE ARE BEING LISTENED TO: ARTICLES ON SUMO AND EXCLUSIONARY SPORTS LEAGUES

I hear from some readers that my newsletters as of late are rather depressing. Where is the good news?

Well, an inkling of good news is that what we are saying is not being ignored. Many journalists on Japan are putting out some articles of substance on real problems in Japan, not resorting to the typical fluff (economics, exotica, and erotica) to fill space. Here are two articles that were probably inspired by issues raised at Debito.org:

======================================
LET’S BE FAIR, LET JAPANESE WIN
Posted on : 2007-10-04 Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Courtesy of the Author

http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/118542.html
EXCERPT:

Tokyo – You would think that fairness is the virtue of sports, but tell that to the Japanese authorities. In May, they approved a high school ban on foreign students running the first and the longest leg of a relay race in response to complaints from fans, a spokesman for the All Japan High School Athletic Federation said.

The decision came after the federation received mounting complaints from fans that “African runners lead the race so much that the Japanese athletes can’t narrow the difference or catch up throughout the race.”… “We don’t consider this decision as discrimination,” the spokesman said. “We are not banning (foreign students) from participating in the race.”…

“They are basically saying that sports are great as long as Japanese win,” Arudou Debito, the author of Japanese Only, which highlights discrimination against foreign residents in Japan, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

“Racial discrimination is usually based on superiority, but it is based on inferiority in Japan in this sense,” Debito said.

“This is symbolic to Japan’s sly opportunist ideology,” Shiraishi [Osamu], a former official from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said. “Making nationality an issue in sports goes against the genuine sportsmanship.”…

Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=624
======================================
Original Debito.org feature inspiring this article at
http://www.debito.org/?p=417

Also,
======================================
JAPAN WRINGS ITS HANDS OVER SUMO’S LATEST WOES
By NORIMITSU ONISHI New York Times: October 19, 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/19/world/asia/19sumo.html?_r=2&ref=world&oref=slogin&oref=slogin
======================================
Original Debito.org/Japan Times article on this here
http://www.debito.org/?p=551

COMMENT: I’m still waiting for the sumo “coach” referred to in the NYT article (rather, the owner of a sumo stable) to actually be ARRESTED for assault and criminal negligence (if not manslaughter)… even after publicly admitting he used a beer bottle on his apprentice (who died soon afterwards), he’s still out there free. If only he were a foreigner… he could be arrested despite no evidence at all!
http://www.debito.org/?p=659

Hope that cheers you up. Well, maybe not. But it’s better than having things go ignored. I’ll do my best to see that doesn’t happen.

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

All for today. Thanks for reading.
By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org)
Sapporo, Japan
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 5, 2007 ENDS

NY Times on Sumo, Tokitaizan, and Asashoryu

mytest

Hi Blog. Not a matter of fingerprinting for a change, but another article to show that topics we bring up do make some ripples in the press.

And I’m still waiting for the “coach” (rather, the owner of a sumo stable) to actually be ARRESTED for assault and criminal negligence (if not manslaughter)–even after publicly admitting he used a beer bottle on his apprentice (who died soon afterwards), he’s still out there free. If only he were a foreigner–he could be arrested despite no evidence at all

Previous article on Asashoryu here. Wonder if he’ll ever return–he said in a little over a month more than two months ago. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Memo From Tokyo
Japan Wrings Its Hands Over Sumo’s Latest Woes
By NORIMITSU ONISHI New York Times: October 19, 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/19/world/asia/19sumo.html?_r=2&ref=world&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

TOKYO, Oct. 18 — The problems swirling through Japan’s ancient sport of sumo recently would seem to be random, unconnected events.

A coach was expelled from the sumo association this month for inflicting fatal injuries on a 17-year-old apprentice in a hazing incident and may face criminal charges. One of the two grand champions, Asashoryu, has been suspended for claiming an injury and then being filmed playing soccer in his native Mongolia. He is also suspected of fixing matches with other wrestlers, including the other grand champion, also Mongolian.

When things seemingly could not get any worse, a woman tried to climb up into the elevated sumo ring last month during a match, a no-go place for women, who are considered impure in sumo tradition. She broke free from a female security guard in the audience but was pulled down by a sumo wrestler who prevented her from entering the sacred ring and, in the eyes of traditionalists, defiling it.

While the problems may have looked disparate, however, they were rooted in a quintessentially Japanese conflict between tradition and modernity. Should sumo, whose popularity has long been declining, change? The debate in Japan has taken on a heated, though predictable, course. Traditionalists have said any change would mean the death of sumo, while others have said that sumo will die if it fails to change.

In fact sumo has undergone continual change during its long history, which inevitably raises other questions. What, really, are its traditions?

The 17-year-old, Takashi Saito, died after being hit on the head with a bottle by his master and struck with a metal bat by wrestlers during practice. He had tried to escape twice from the stable because of the hazing, the second time on the day before the beating.

Hazing, including corporal punishment, has long been considered a fact of life in sumo stables, feudal-like camps where wrestlers are expected to live and train. In a practice called kawaigari, older wrestlers repeatedly throw a novice down on the ring, ostensibly to toughen him up but also to mete out punishment.

Critics said that this practice, and the culture of violence that led to the fatal beating, was symbolic of sumo’s failure to keep up with the times.

Traditionally, brawny teenagers from poor rural families came to the capital and were entrusted to a stable master and his wife. To this day, wrestlers lead regimented lives in the stables, doing chores and performing services for older colleagues.

As Japan has grown richer and as rural areas have emptied out of young people, fewer Japanese teenagers have been willing to lead this kind of life. Last year only 84 Japanese trainees joined stables, less than half the numbers in the early 1990s. The sumo association has allowed foreigners in, though only one per stable. But even though only 61 out of 723 sumo wrestlers are foreigners, they have risen to the top. No Japanese is on course to join the two Mongolians as grand champions anytime soon.

Asashoryu, in particular, has incurred the wrath of traditionalists. Though a formidable wrestler, he gives the strong impression that Japan is his workplace and that his heart lies in Mongolia. He has shown flashes of anger in the ring and other behavior that his critics say lack a grand champion’s “dignity,” a vague quality that sometimes seems to mean simply that he is not Japanese enough.

And then he faked his injury.

“If he were a Japanese grand champion, I think he would have submitted his resignation by now,” said Kunihiro Sugiyama, who was a sumo announcer for four decades.

Mr. Sugiyama said that sumo was less a sport than a cultural heritage that needed to be protected from, among others, “hungry” foreigners from countries with lower standards of living.

“If you go to Africa or India or South America and look around, you’ll find large people,” Mr. Sugiyama said. “We’re in an age of overindulgence in Japan, so if you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile right away.”

Sumo is often said to be as old as Japan itself, but scholars trace the birth of a professional sport recognizable today to three centuries ago. The central aspects of today’s sumo — the tournaments and the rank of grand champion as the embodiment of sumo’s ideals — were established in the late 19th century, just as a new sport called baseball was becoming popular in Japan.

Sumo officials made other changes to emphasize the traditional aspects of sumo and to solidify its place as Japan’s “national sport,” said Lee A. Thompson, an American expert on sumo and a professor of sports sociology at Waseda University’s School of Sport Sciences here.

In the 1930s sumo authorities tried to stress ties to the Shinto religion by rebuilding the roof over the main sumo ring in Tokyo in the shape of a Shinto shrine. In the 1950s they formed the Yokozuna Review Board, a committee to consider candidates for the rank of grand champion.

“Sumo has latched on to a certain image of what Japan is — that Japan has this long tradition as a country and those things that are 1,000, 1,500 or 2,000 years old are still alive today,” Mr. Thompson said. “That’s why this appeal to tradition trumps a lot of other issues, in this case what might even turn out to be manslaughter,” he added.

So if sumo has always changed to fit the needs of the times, how can it do so now? Some have proposed raising the age of recruits or picking the best from college sumo clubs. Noriki Miyashita, a retired wrestler, favors turning sumo into an international professional league with Japan serving as “the major league.”

“When it comes to tradition, there invariably comes a time to re-examine things,” he said. “And I think the time has now come for the world of sumo.”
ENDS

Probable USG gaiatsu re GOJ fingerprint laws: Quote from Department of Homeland Security website

mytest

COMMENT FROM THE PODCAST SECTION UP AT TRANS PACIFIC RADIO:

==============
Comment by J
November 1, 2007 @ 8:04 pm

Hi, Debito.
Just read the last paragraph of this document prepared by the Department of Homeland Security of the US, and find who is forcing Ministry of Justice of Japan to collect fingerprints of foreigners coming to Japan.
http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/press_release_0838.shtm

=========================
Pool Data with Like-minded Foreign Governments – As the United States’ systems and data improve, State and DHS must make these initiatives global. We will continue diplomatic efforts for the comprehensive exchange of watchlists, biometrics, and lost and stolen passport information with other governments as well as building capacity to effectively use this information. A central topic in this diplomacy is development of a common approach to protecting the privacy of the data, both in the way it is collected and the way it is shared.
###
This page was last modified on 01/17/06 00:00:00
=========================

A CLEAR BIT OF GAIATSU HAPPENING HERE, FROM OUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD HEGEMON.

ARUDOU DEBITO IN SAPPORO
ENDS

Jeff Korpa on Diet debates regarding Anti-Terrorism

mytest

Hi Blog. Busy day today, so I’m not going to do much with the blog today, sorry. Here’s a message from Jeff Korpa, regarding the Japanese Diet ever rescinding or tempering the anti-terrorism putsches which have resulted in our upcoming fingerprinting laws (but have recently become hung up on whether or not Japanese ships should refuel coalition ships in the Indian Ocean).

As Jeff notes, even if the LDP is stymied at the moment, anti-terrorism moves in future will probably not be deep-sixed, even if the DPJ were to somehow assume power. Forwarding with permission. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

====================================

Hi Debito:

In a previous message I said: “Regarding the Anti-terrorism Law, my belief is that reports of its demise are premature. Despite Ozawa having the power to snuff out the legislation, and his rhetoric about how the change in the LDP leadership would not change DPJ’s resolve on the issue, Ozawa has long supported lifting restrictions on Japan’s security forces. For instance, in 1998 he remarked that it only required a reinterpretation of the constitution to allow Japanese defense forces to take part in overseas combat operations. And less than a year later, Ozawa warned that the SDF needed strengthening.”

Well, even though Fukuda has been unable to get support from Ozawa in order to attain upper house approval for an extension to the Anti-terrorism Law, I *still* don’t this is the end of the road for this legislation — as long as Fukuda can secure two-thirds of the lower house in a subsequent vote (which he can since the lower house is controlled by the LDP), the Anti-terrorism Law (and the controversial refueling missions) will live to see another day.

OK, so why aren’t the two boys playing nice together? I have two theories — Small Politics and Big Politics:

Small Politics: Ozawa is playing games trying to capitalize on the MSDF refelling issue so he steal back some popularity that Fukuda won in the aftermath of Abe’s resignation.

Big Politics: With regard to Japan’s military future, the long-term goals of the DPJ and LDP are the same, but the two men are at odds as to what role the United States should play.

Ozawa (once an LDP member himself mind you), has long accused the LDP of being too closely tied to the U.S. for Japan’s own defense. He has also been a strong voice for Japan taking part in international peacekeeping operations (albeit by reinterpreting the constitution), which would be a step toward redefining Japanese military capabilities and actions. For instance, in 1999, Ozawa called for deployment of Japanese peacekeepers to East Timor. And more recently, he said Tokyo should send peacekeepers to Sudan. In fact, he has gone further than that — in 2003 he said that should China become too “conceited,” the Japanese could grow “hysterical,” and that, “If Japan desires, it can possess thousands of nuclear warheads.”

So Ozawa’s vision is a strong, independent Japanese military. It seems to me that he and his supporters want Japanese military development to occur under the guise of international cooperation — the country should participate in U.N. missions but keep from being drawn into U.S. conflicts.

In contrast, I believe that Fukuda and the rest of the LDP brain trust are of the opinion that hooking up with the U.S. is the quickest and easiest road to realizing a militarily independent Japan. It looks like the LDP wants to let Washington continue to provide for Japan’s security so that they can focus on building up the nation’s defense capabilities (e.g. taking advantage of technology transfers and joint development of defense systems with the U.S.).

At any rate, another reason why I think the Anti-terrorism Law will be back sooner or later is because of outside pressure from the U.S. in the form of Defense Secretary Robert Gates who will arrive in Tokyo during the week of November 4th. By an amazing coincidence, Mr. Gates’ visit is due to come a week after the MSDF finished refueling their last customer (a Pakistani navy destroyer) under the Anti-terrorism Law.

It will interesting to see what the two boys do after Gates has come and gone.

Regards, Jeff Korpa
ENDS

欧州ビジネス協会など:外国人指紋採取に対する抗議文

mytest

ブログ読者の皆様こんばんは。有道 出人です。いつもお世話になっております。ホットニュースですが、欧州ビジネス協会(EBC)と豪州NZ商工会議所(ANZCCJ)は外国人指紋採取に対する抗議文を発行しました。法務省入国管理局と外務省宛で、原文より:
====================
「日本で税金を納まっている長期在留者を、不定期の訪問者と唐突にひとまとめにすることは、頻繁な商用旅行者にとって過剰な遅れを生み、経営者の効果的で迅速な移動性に大きく依存している企業に受け入れがたいコストを課すおそれがあれます。」など。
====================
(全文はコメントの下です)

コメント:標的としれている在住外国人住民のみではなく、米国以外の欧米人は既にこの政策に深く疑問を持つようであります。日本当局(特に法務省)は日本がグローバル化に対して例外的な国だと未だに思い込んでいるのでしょうか。「ようこそジャパン」と貿易に関する商売にどんな影響を与えるのかを深く考えこなしましたか。どうぞ報道して下さい。宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人

イメージをクリックして下さい:
2007OctImmigrationJ-1.jpeg
2007OctImmigrationE-1.jpeg

European Business Council and Australian/ NZ Chamber of Commerce protest NJ fingerprinting laws

mytest

Hi Blog. Important information from Japan’s non-US Western business leaders. Courtesy of Martin Issott.

Both the European Business Council in Japan and the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan have agreed that Immigration’s new NJ Fingerprint Laws “impose unacceptable costs” on businesses, and finds regrettable the “grouping [of] long-term residents and taxpayers in Japan with occasional visitors”.

“WE BELIEVE THAT THE INTRODUCTION OF MANDATORY FINGERPRINTING AND PHOTOGRAPHING OF FOREIGNERS ENTERING AND RE-ENTERING JAPAN MUST BE CONDUCTED IN SUCH A WAY THAT IT DOES NOT ADVERSELY AFFECT FOREIGN RESIDENTS, BUSINESSMEN AND COMPANIES IN JAPAN.” [emphasis added]

So says a protest letter to the MOJ Immigration Bureau (cced to MOFA) in PDF format signed by Richard Colasse, Chairman of the EBC, and Tim Lester, Chairman of the ANZCCJ. Click here to see it:
http://www.debito.org/EBCANZCCJletterOct262007.pdf

Jpeg thumbnails of the letters in English and Japanese here (click to expand in browser):
2007OctImmigrationE-1.jpeg2007OctImmigrationE-1.jpeg

What follows is the text from an email from Jacob Edberg, Policy Director of the EBC, which indicates that the protesting is in some way paying off–with some changes in the procedures. At Narita, anyway. Underlinings in the email added. Brief comment follows.

====================================

From: ebc@gol.com [mailto:ebc@gol.com]
Sent: Friday, November 02, 2007 11:42 AM
To: edberg@ebc-jp.com
Subject: Revised Immigration Law

TO: EBC Committee Members EBC EOB Members European National Chamber Presidents European National Chamber Executive Directors Delegation of the European Commission to Japan National European Embassies

FROM: Jakob Edberg
DATE: November 2, 2007

SUBJECT: Revised Immigration Law
***********************************************

Dear Colleagues,

This is to inform you about the implementation of the revised immigration law, scheduled for November 20. In short, the revised law says that all foreigners have to leave their fingerprints and take a photo when entering Japan. The EBC has over the past year strongly insisted that the implementation of the law should not complicate or delay the re-entry procedure of foreign residents in Japan. We have especially objected to forcing re-entry permit holders to line up in long queues with all other foreigners (tourists e.g.) to take fingerprints each time re-entering Japan.

After long discussions with the Ministry of Justice, it is now clear that re-entry permit holders will be able to pre-register fingerprints and photo at either Shinagawa or at Narita on the way out. Undergoing this procedure once should grant swift re-entry at Narita (not other international airports) as long as the passport/ re-entry permit is valid. Information about this system is not yet available in English but can since October 26 be found in Japanese on the MOJ website:

http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan63-2.pdf

The Ministry of Justice has also said that for those re-entry permit holders who have not yet pre-registered their fingerprints and photos, there should be a line separate from other foreigners (e.g. tourists) at the immigration counter. However, the MOJ not yet made this commitment in writing – because they may not be able to staff the extra lines at all times of the day.

EBC Chairman Richard Collasse sent a letter on October 26 (please see attached) jointly signed with the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce to demand that information about the new system is made available in English ASAP and that the commitment to set up separate lines at immigration counter for re-entry permit holder are not pre-registered is made also in writing. At this time, the semi automatic gate system will not be available at Kansai and Nagoya International airports. The solution for Kanto residents appear to be to go to Narita airport early and preregister (you only have to do this once).

We will continue to ask for more clarity on the new procedures from MOJ and will be sure to get back to all of you as soon as we have more information on this urgent issue.

Yours sincerely,

Jakob Edberg
Policy Director
European Business Council in Japan
==============================

COMMENT: What incredible incompetence by the Ministry of Justice! Did they think that inconveniencing people to this degree (under a discriminatory and xenophobic rubric, to boot) would occasion no protest or comment from the world around them? Are they still convinced that Japan is immune to the forces of globalization?!

Arudou Debito in Sapporo
ENDS

多民族共生教育フォーラム2007東京 11月4日(日)午前10時〜午後5時

mytest

TAMINZOKU KYOUSEI KYOUIKU (MULTIETHNIC COEXISTENCE EDUCATIONAL) FORUM SUNDAY NOV 4, 2007, TOKYO SHINBASHI. FORWARDING DETAILS IN JAPANESE, INTERPRETATION PROVIDED ON SITE IN ENGLISH, PORTUGUESE AND SPANISH. ARUDOU DEBITO

========================================

【転送大歓迎、重複御免】
金東鶴です。
 既にお知らせを受けている方も多いと思いますが明後日の日曜日、多民族共生教育
フォーラム2007東京が行われます。
また明日3日にはプレシンポ、5日には外国人学校訪問の企画もあります。
今回のフォーラムには研究者だけでなく与野党議員、自治体担当者の方々もパネリスト
として参加していただけることとなりまし
た。
 外国人学校の子どもや教員たちも参加してアピールしてくれます。教育制度から放置
されたままの外国籍・民族的マイノリティの子どもたちの学習権保障法制化へのステッ
プとしたいと思います。ぜひご参加ください。
 なお、お申し込み方法については、できる限り事前申し込みをお願いし
ています。こちらに申し込みフォームがありますので、よろしくお願いします
(まだ予定がはっきりしない方などは当日飛び込み参加でもOKです)。
http://2007tokyo.blog113.fc2.com/blog-category-10.html

========================================
<東京フォーラムの案内> 
多民族共生教育フォーラム2007東京

日 時○11月4日(日)午前10時〜午後5時
会 場○東京国際交流館 国際交流会議場
       *「新橋駅」から「ゆりかもめ」で16分、
         「船の科学館駅」東口より徒歩3分
       *ポルトガル語の同時通訳、
         英語・スペイン語の逐語通訳あり
参加費:資料代として1500円(学生1000円)
午前9時半〜  開場・受付開始
午前10時〜  ビデオ上映「2005年兵庫フォーラム、2006年愛知フォーラムから」
          基調報告「外国人学校の現在」
午前10時半〜  「日本各地の取り組み、外国人学校からのメッセージ」
            多文化共生センター東京
            兵庫県外国人学校協議会
            愛知県外国人学校協議会(準備会)
            神奈川県外国人学校ネットワーク(準備会)
            埼玉県外国人学校ネットワーク(準備会)
            日本ブラジル学校協議会(AEBJ)
            アメラジアン・スクール・イン・オキナワ
            国際子ども学校(愛知県)
            枝川朝鮮学校(東京江東区)
            サグラド・コラソン・デ・ヘスス(群馬県伊勢崎市)
            インターナショナル・コミュニティ・スクール
            (群馬県玉村町)
            インスチトゥト・エドゥカスィオナウ・ジェンテ・ミウダ
            (群馬県大泉町)
午後1時〜   「外国人学校に通う子どもたちからのメッセージ」
            たぶんかフリースクール(東京)           
            東京韓国学校
            横浜インターナショナル・クリスチャンアカデミー
            大阪朝鮮高級学校(東大阪市)
            コレジオ・ピタゴラス(群馬県太田市)
            セントロ・エドゥカスィオナウ・カナリニョ
            (埼玉県鴻巣市)
            エスコラ・ピンゴ・デ・ジェンテ(茨城県下妻市) ほか

午後2時10分〜 パネルディスカッション
   「多民族・多文化共生教育へのロードマップ——外国人学校の制度的保障」
          <パネラー>水岡俊一さん(参議院議員/民主党)
             山下栄一さん(参議院議員/公明党)
春原直美さん(長野県国際交流推進協会)
             田中 宏さん(龍谷大学教授)
             阿部浩己さん(神奈川大学法科大学院教授)
          <コーディネーター>丹羽雅雄さん(弁護士)
午後4時30分〜 「外国人学校の制度的保障に関する市民提言」採択
◇会場ロビーで「外国人学校で学ぶ子どもたちの写真展」同時開催

・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

また、11月4日東京フォーラムの前日と翌日には、
以下のプログラムもあります。

○11月3日(土)
プレシンポジウム「日本の学校/地域の中の外国籍の子どもたち」
     王 慧 槿さん(多文化共生センター東京)
     金 光 敏さん(大阪・コリアNGOセンター)
     リリアン・テルミ・ハタノさん(滋賀・子どもくらぶ「たんぽポ」)
会 場:在日本韓国YMCA 9階ホール
      (JR「水道橋駅」東口から徒歩6分)
時  間:午後4時〜6時
参加費:資料代として500円
      *ポルトガル語の同時通訳あり

○11月3日(土)全国交流会
 時  間:午後6時30分〜8時
 会  場:在日本韓国YMCA
 参加費:3000円/学生1500円(当日申し込み・当日支払い)

○11月5日(月)外国人学校訪問
 時  間:
 参加費:500円(交通費・昼食費は自己負担/事前申し込み・当日支払い)
 コース �埼玉コース
       (埼玉朝鮮初中級学校 ⇒ 
        セントロ・エドゥカスィオナウ・カナリニョ)
     �東京コース
       (枝川朝鮮学校⇒東京中華学校)
     �神奈川コース
       (横浜クリスチャンアカデミー ⇒ 川崎朝鮮初級学校→ふれあい
館)
 *詳細は下記HP

◇主催◇「多民族共生教育フォーラム2007東京」実行委員会
◇共催◇外国人学校・民族学校の制度的保障を実現するネットワーク
      NPO多文化共生センター東京
◇後援◇兵庫県外国人学校協議会/静岡県外国人学校協議会
      日本ブラジル学校協議会(AEBJ)/
      ブラジル大使館/ペルー総領事館/
      東京外国語大学多言語・多文化教育研究センター

<連絡先>★Eメール t_07@hotmail.co.jp(佐藤)
     ★電話 090-8400-7685(福井)
     ★住所 〒160-0023 東京都新宿区西新宿7−5−3 斎藤ビル4階
                       みどり共同法律事務所(張)
 
なお、詳しい情報は、下記のフォーラム実行委員会HPをご覧ください。
http://2007tokyo.blog113.fc2.com/
ENDS

Documentary film on parental child abduction in Japan: Fundraiser Tues Dec 11 in Tokyo

mytest

Hi Blog. I have been quite closely associated with this project for more than a year now (I’m interviewed in the film–see the link to the trailer below) and have a personal stake in the subject. I encourage you to join us for the fundraiser, help out in any way you can, and even perhaps suggest venues we could appear at to get the word out. This is the Golden Age of the documentary, and this one ranks amongst the important ones. Help us get it launched. Downloadable movie poster available here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

=======================================

DOCUMENTARY FILM ON PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION IN JAPAN PLANS DECEMBER 11TH FUNDRAISER IN TOKYO

We first learned of this situation in January 2006 in a Metropolis article titled “Think of the children” by Kevin Buckland, and after some discussions we felt strongly that a documentary film would be an influential way to raise awareness about the issue. Both of us are married to Japanese and have started wonderful families, but hearing how easily and frequently a parent can be cut off from seeing their own kids was very disturbing. In reality, when a marriage in Japan or with a Japanese national(s) goes bad and there are kids involved, the situation easily becomes drastic and severe. Though the Japanese courts, government and police may not have intended it to be this way, Japan has become an abduction-friendly country, where the winner is the first one to grab the kids and run. We want to make this film to expose the depth of the current problem and how it affects everyone–worst of all, the children who are caught in the middle.

For the past year we have juggled our schedules to travel to several cities all over the world, talking to left-behind parents, attempting to speak with abducting parents, and conversing with experts on divorce, child psychology and law to gain and ultimately share a greater understanding of how and why this situation exists. We plan to take at least two months off from our current employment in spring 2008, and dedicate ourselves full time to edit and finalize the film. We aim for a screening at a film festival before the year is out. Our intention is to show it outside Japan first, garnering international support to create “gaiatsu” (outside pressure) that will force Japan to address and take responsibility for addressing the current situation. Matt and I want to make a film with tremendous impact in a prompt time frame, and to do that will require a much greater amount of funds than we have at this point. It is our goal to raise close to a quarter million dollars for this purpose. We ask all of you to consider making a donation within your budget toward our goal. For American tax payers we will soon have information about how you can donate tax free to our non-profit account at IDA.

We will have a Fundraiser at the Pink Cow restaurant in Shibuya on December 11th from 7:30 to 10:00pm. Tickets cost 10,000 yen include a beautiful buffet dinner two drinks (then cash bar), speakers and discussion about the current situation and a video presentation. For tickets contact: dave@fortakaandmana.com

Murray Wood, Steve Christie and Debito Arudou are among the list of attendees.

Please visit our website at:

http://www.fortakaandmana.com

View our trailer and find out more details about the film, links to other important websites, and donation details.

Matt’s e-mail is: matt@fortakaandmana.com
Dave’s e-mail is: dave@fortakaandmana.com

Thank you for your time and consideration.

David Hearn and Matt Antell
=======================================

MORE ON THIS ISSUE AT
“Remember the Children
One year on, has anything changed in the fight against international child abduction?”
Follow-up article in Metropolis by Kevin Buckland
http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/670/globalvillage.asp

Children’s Rights Network Japan
http://www.crnjapan.com/en/

http://www.debito.org/thedivorce.html
ENDS

NJ Fingerprinting Update: US Soldiers also exempt under SOFA

mytest

HI BLOG. FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE. US SOLDIERS STATIONED IN JAPAN HAVE ALSO BEEN EXEMPT FROM BEING FINGERPRINTED. I GUESS THE GOJ IS COUNTING THEM AS DIPLOMATS. SWEETHEART DEAL. ARUDOU DEBITO

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

The US Embassy just sent out this information:

============================================
UPDATE: Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) personnel are exempt under
SOFA Article 9 (2) from the new biometrics entry requirements.

============================================

I think this means that if a person with three decades of permanent
Japan residence under his/her belt flies into the airport with 18 year
old Seaman Doe, whatever his/her nationality or background, Doe goes
through the line without photo and fingerprint check.

That does not make any sense at all.

SOURCE:
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

From: American Embassy Tokyo
Date: Wed Oct 31, 2007 19:57:07 Asia/Tokyo
Subject: Welcome to the November newsletter! (EXCERPT)
http://tokyo.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-newsletter20071101.html#bio

Here are the topics for this month:

Upcoming Holidays and ACS Office Closures

Security Situation
Information for Americans employed by NOVA
Reminder – New Biometrics Requirements for Foreigners Entering Japan
Thanksgiving is here…
Primary Elections, General Elections – Both Are Important!
Are you ready to vote?
Some Missouri Voted Ballots can be Faxed or Emailed
Ohio Special Congressional Primary Election
Employment Resources
Ask the Consul: Warden Messages
Consequences of Mailing Illegal Drugs to Japan
Embassy Tokyo & ConGen Naha Offering New Foreign Service Officer Test
“Green Card Lottery”
Early Warning System
Handy Calendar Converter
Services Leaving Japan? Unsubscribing Contact Us

(SNIP)

———————————————————————–
——–
Reminder: New Biometrics Requirements for Foreigners Entering Japan
———————————————————————–
——–

The Government of Japan recently informed us that as of November 20,
2007, Immigration officials at the port of entry will digitally scan
the fingerprints of and photograph all foreign nationals entering
Japan, with the exemption of certain categories listed below. This
requirement does not replace any existing visa or passport
requirements. Foreign nationals that are exempt from this new
requirement include special permanent residents (Tokubetsu Eijuusha),
persons under 16 years of age, holders of diplomatic or official
visas, and persons invited by the head of a national administrative
organization. Please note that permanent residents will also be
expected to submit to this new requirement.

The Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice posted an
explanatory video on the new procedures on June 14, 1007. The short
video entitled “Landing Examination Procedures for Japan are
Changing!” can be viewed here.

UPDATE: Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) personnel are exempt under
SOFA Article 9 (2) from the new biometrics entry requirements.

———————————————————————–
ENDS

New Long-Term Residency Requirements: Prove you’re not a criminal even overseas

mytest

–HELLO BLOG. QUOTING A RECENT EXCHANGE ON THE COMMUNITY REGARDING HOW THINGS ARE TIGHTENING UP FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO LENGTHEN THEIR VISAS HERE IN JAPAN:

///////////////////////////////////////////////////
October 4, 2007

Hello, Does anyone have any more information about this new (I think) development? What do they mean by long-term residents? Anyone who is not a tourist? Does it include permanent residents?

===============================
New Long Term Residency Requirements: Japan recently modified its Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act. The law now requires that long-term residents provide satisfactory evidence that they do not have a criminal record in their home country when renewing their resident card. To obtain such proof, U.S. citizens with long-term resident status in Japan need to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and provide it with a copy of their fingerprints. To request such service, please follow the guidance listed here. For more details about the Japanese requirements, check with the nearest immigration office in Japan,
http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/information/ib-09.html

Source:
U.S. Department of State
Consular Information Sheet: Japan
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1148.html
===============================

I am getting really annoyed at being treated like a criminal what with all this fingerprinting. We seemed to be moving nicely away from that trend in recent years with the fingerprints being removed from our Alien Registration Cards. I am feeling distinctly unwelcome in the country I have called home for ten of the past twelve years… Shaney.

///////////////////////////////////////////////////

I called immigration just now. I talked with a wise lady who has been at Nagoya immigration ever since I applied for my first visa extension over 12 years ago, she advised me when I got my first marriage visa, and my permanent visa. She also advised me when I wanted to sponsor a friend for permanent residence. So far she’s never steered me wrong.

She was completely baffled by me calling and said *I* personally have absolutely nothing to worry about, no one will be asking for my FBI records.

I tried to explain to her, I wasn’t necessarily concerned for myself but wanted to know if anyone else might have to at some point provide such FBI records. She said the only people she was aware of that required records from the FBI were American nikkeijin. She said this was indeed a new law, and that must be what the US state department is talking about. Even here, I think it might have only been third generation Americans that needed FBI records.

I found this requirement on the web, here it is:
http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/HOUREI/h07.html

Now, I read her in English what was at the State Departments site, and explained it in Japanese as well. She could not make any sense of the idea that I would have to provide FBI documents merely to renew my gaikokujin toroku sho. (Gaijin card). She said that didn’t make any sense to her as it has nothing to do with your visa.

That was that. She could be in error.

I think most big changes in immigration law are generally posted here:
http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/hourei/index.html

I looked there and could not find anything about needing FBI records. I will have a second look.

If anyone else looks into this, I would be interested in what they find out.

Best,
Matt Dioguardi

///////////////////////////////////////////////////

1) “Long term resident (teijusha)” is one of 27 Status of Residence (visa) categories.

The word “long term” is just a translation of “teiju” and has nothing to do with the validity of the Status of Residence nor the number of years you have lived in Japan. It’s just a name of the Status of Residence. So some have three year “long term resident” and others have one year “long term resident” on their passport. You can even obtain “long term residence” on arrival if you have a corresponding Certificate of Eligibility.

“Permanent Resident (eijusha, or eijuken)” is another Status of Residence. It is different from “Long term resident.”

Below is a list of all 27 Status of Residence categories. It has been like this for about 20 years, nothing new.
http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/seisaku/hourei/data/icrra.pdf ( p71 – 76, teijusha at the bottom )

2) However, the requirements for each Status of Residence have changed frequently. Part of it is stricter requirements for “Long term resident” because of, I think, recent crimes by the Japanese descendents (nikkei) with “Long term resident” Status of Residence who came to Japan with false documents or criminal records in home country (police clearance was not required back then.)

Not all “Long term resident” holders are required to submit police clearance, but only Japanese descendents (nikkei) and their spouse.

The new requirements below. (Only in Japanese) The phrase “sokou ga zenryou dearu mono = those whose behavior and conduct are good” was recently added to Item 3, 4, 5, 6 (i.e. requirement categories for Japanse descendents and their spouse), and is the legal basis for requiring police clearance.
http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/HOUREI/h07-01-01.html
http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/keiziban/happyou/nikkei.html

3) The new requirements themselves have nothing to do with “gaijin card” or alien registration card.

Akira HIGUCHI

////////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT: THEN I WONDER WHY THE US EMBASSY WAS CONTACTING ITS AMERICANS ABOUT THIS IF IT’S BASICALLY ONLY PERTINENT TO NIKKEI TEIJUU? HERE WE GO AGAIN WITH YET ANOTHER BUNCH OF MISUNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT A NEW LAW IN PRACTICE AND ON PAPER? ARUDOU DEBITO IN SAPPORO