NHK: NJ arrested by Saitama Police for “not having passport”, despite being underage and, uh, not actually legally required to carry a passport

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Hi Blog.  Here’s a short interesting article, with translation immediately following:

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埼玉県警が外国人少年誤認逮捕
NHK News 03月06日 12時10分
http://www.nhk.or.jp/shutoken-news/20160306/3459061.html Courtesy of CJ
5日、埼玉県川口市でパスポートなどを持っていなかったとして逮捕された外国人がその後の調べでパスポートなどを携帯する義務のない16歳未満だったことが分かり、警察は謝罪したうえで釈放しました。

警察によりますと5日午後、川口市内の電気店から「不審な外国人が来店した」という通報があり、駆けつけた警察官が近くの路上で外国人の男性を見つけました。
男性は東南アジア系の外国人で、警察はパスポートなどを持っていなかったことから出入国管理法違反の疑いでその場で逮捕しました。
しかし、その後の調べでパスポートなどを携帯する義務のない16歳未満だったことが分かり、警察は謝罪したうえで逮捕からおよそ6時間後に釈放しました。
警察によりますと、男性は当初から「16歳未満だ」と話していましたが、年齢を確認できるものを持っていなかったうえ16歳以上に見えたとして逮捕したということす。
埼玉県警察本部外事課の小川実次席は「関係者に深くおわびします。もっと慎重に確認すべきだった」と話しています。

Saitama Police mistakenly arrest foreign youth
NHK News, March 6, 2016 (Translation by Debito)

According to  police, on the afternoon of March 5, police were contacted that “a suspicious foreigner had come in” from an electronics shop in Kawaguchi City. Police arriving on the scene found a foreign male at a nearby street.

The male was a foreigner of Southeastern Asian descent. As he was not carrying his passport, police arrested him on the spot under suspicion of violating the Immigration Control Act.

However, after further investigation, police realized that as he was less than 16 years old and under no obligation to carry his passport, so they released him from arrest about six hours later after apologizing.

According to the police, the male said, “I’m less than 16 years old” from the start, but since he was holding no ID to confirm his age and looked older than 16, it resulted in his arrest.

The local officer in charge of foreign issues at the Saitama Police HQ, Ogawa Minoru, said, “The people involved deeply apologize. We should have confirmed things more prudently.”  ENDS

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COMMENT: I’ll say. Yet another instance of police overstepping their authority, and arresting someone due to a panicky shopkeep siccing cops on a youth just because the latter looked “foreign”. Last time we had an arrest like this this wasn’t the case — the person even turned out to be Japanese, but it’s hard to believe that police would necessarily come running and arrest someone just because they were acting “suspiciously”. Because there are laws against that — you have to have adequate suspicion that crime has been committed, or is likely to be committed. It’s the “foreign” thing that became the grounds for arrest. Pity it took six hours out of this kid’s life in police custody (something you don’t want to happen to you — you essentially have few rights as a suspect in Japan).  Even though as a foreign resident in Japan (as opposed to a tourist), you still are not required to carry a PASSPORT.  So that’s the second unlawful misinterpretation of the law by Saitama’s finest.

The real thing that’s hard to swallow is that shopkeeps are panicky precisely BECAUSE the Japanese police are encouraging them to see foreigners as criminals and racially profile. So thanks for the apology, Saitama Police, but how about training your cops better, so Japan’s Visible Minorities (particularly impressionable kids) don’t become targets of arbitrary (and traumatizing) arrests? I shudder to think what this officially-alienated kid thinks about life in Japan now.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito.

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14 comments on “NHK: NJ arrested by Saitama Police for “not having passport”, despite being underage and, uh, not actually legally required to carry a passport

  • Reading stories like this just disgusts me… So sick of this treatment and behavior towards anyone foreign by police and others in Japan.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    (Sigh) “We should have confirmed things more prudently”, which means what exactly?

    Weasel words to avoid the response dictated by the application of critical thinking (which admittedly is a deficiency in Japan to say the least) which would be;

    Review policy, procedure, and the message you are giving society!
    Of course, the J-cops can’t actually do that since their goal IS NOT application of the law in a legally prescribed manner, but rather social control authority games aimed at;

    1. Reinforcing thier position in society (bully boy job for life on the taxpayers ¥). And…
    2. Maintaining Japan ‘myths’ because one of those is that ‘Japan is a safe country’, and if that particular myth is exposed as a lie, it directly harms the self interest of every J-cop (see point 1.).

    More N. Korea, banana republic style actions whilst Abe flaps his lips about being a ‘world leader’. No thank you, stay away from us.

  • Yes, well, remember this is the city where the local politician said there are more foreigners than dogs.
    Just walking around while looking foreign is enough to get arrested.

  • sorry saitama keystones but an apology isn’t enough, how about compensation for illegal arrest and trauma. and why would it take 6 hours to learn the law? this shows me that the bias laws dont apply to NJ victims of police brutality.
    we need to print up T-shirts that say GAIJIN LIVES MATTER

  • Anonymous says:

    Which is why “what CRIME” is much better than “what is suspicious about me.”

    For example, I give some respect to this old suggested sentence, which attempts to bring up specific ACTIONS, by demanding to know “specifically: what suspicious ACTION am I doing?” but I feel it is still leading the debate to be focused on the vague word “suspicious” instead of the law-defined word “CRIME”:

    “警察官職務執行法によりますと、挙動不審者だけに職務質問することができます。すみませんが、具体的にどんな不審な行為をしていますか。”

    “Keisatsukan Shokumu Shikkou Hou ni yorimasu to, kyodou fushinsha dake ni shokumu shitsumon suru koto ga dekimasu. Sumimasen ga, gutaiteki ni donna fushin na koui o shiteimasu ka?”

    Focusing on “suspicious” gives the (wrong) impression that Shokumu Shitsumon can be initiated without a specific CRIME perpetration being investigated.

    See, the police officer could shrewdly answer, “Well, we got a call about someone looking suspicious, the actions you were doing (though legal) were not what we usually see around here, so we have to follow up on such reports of suspicious out-of-the-ordinary not-usually-seen actions, sorry, now please cooperate with this Shokumu Shitsumon by … [arresting your movement even though we have no arrest warrant, letting us pat you down even though we have no search warrant, answering our “where are you from” questions even though the constitution says you never have to answer any questions at all, admitting if you are a person who needs to carry around a Zairyuu Kaado even though once again you don’t have to answer any such questions, SHOWING us your Zairyuu Kaado even though showing is only required when the asking officer is acting within the confines of the Police Duties Law which requires suspicion of a CRIME before even initiating Shokumu Shitsumon in the first place… basically please agree to cooperate with our various requests disguised as demands even though we police officers are committing Ihou-na Shokumu Shitsumon (Illegal Police Questioning) and thus are NOT obeying the Police Duties Law.”

    That’s why I don’t recommend focusing on the word “suspicious.”

    Instead, I recommend focusing on the “CRIME” word which is the REAL limiting qualifier that must be met before any Shokumu Shitsumon can be initiated against any individual in Japan, according to Police Duties Law Article 2:

    “警察官職務執行法によりますと、「合理的に判断して何らかの犯罪を犯し (若しくは犯そうとしていると疑うに足りる相当な理由のある者又は既に行われた犯罪について、若しくは犯罪が行われようとしていることについて知っていると認められる者) だけを停止させて質問することができます。」 何の犯罪について私を停止させた?”

    “Keisatsukan Shokumu Shikkou Hou ni yorimasu to, ‘Gouriteki ni handan shite naniraka no hanzai o okashi (moshikuwa okasou to shiteiru to utagau ni tariru soutou na riyuu ga aru mono mata wa sudeni okonowareta hanzai ni tsuite, moshikuwa hanzai ga okonawareyou to shiteiru koto ni tsuite shitteiru to mitomerareru mono) DAKE o teishi sasete shitsumon suru koto ga dekimasu.’ Nanno hanzai ni tsuite watashi o teishi saseta?

    “According to the Police Duties Law, a police officer can stop ONLY an individual when the officer first has reasonable suspicion to believe that individual is involved in a CRIME. What CRIME did you stop me for?” 🙂

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    >”埼玉県川口市でパスポートなどを持っていなかったとして逮捕された外国人”

    Sounds like one of those lines cops like to make as reason for arrest–I mean, to justify their action of racial profiling/overstepping/intruding. Too bad that only makes the national media so bad for spreading false consciousness that “NJ is inherently suspect until proven innocent.”

    Apology is perfunctory at best. It doesn’t change anything about public understanding of NJ at all.

  • Baudrillard says:

    KAWAGUCHI AGAIN!! Remember the Japanese woman arrested there a few years ago because “she looked foreign” and in an ironic comeback from Japan’s backward liberal education- she wouldnt speak to them because “She is not good at speaking to strangers” (double lol)- so they thought she did not speak Japanese!

    Seriously though, there is something wrong with Kawaguchi (apart from the Caesium in the water supply in 2011). I used to live there a long time ago and had no problem, but then again I had my J partner gaijin handler, and am white.
    This kid is Asian, so perhaps they thought an easier target.

    Another irony is that Kawaguchi is popular to live with Chinese, due to the many buildings that are corporate owned and thus less discrimnatory than the tradtional individual owners.

    But Kawaguchi City Hall also openly discriminates against NJs submitting their tax returns online-which Japanese citizens can do.

    So its a microcosm for the dilemma of Japan- they 1. need the (Asian) workers 2. demand for housing is met by NJs but 3. it seems the local shop keepers and busybodies feel threatened and sic the police on them.

    So its a case of “you can live here and contribute to our economy but you ll be heavily policed”. Wow, great.

  • Baudrillard says:

    “a suspicious foreigner had come in” – so crime is 1. Shopping 2. looking a certain way or just looking foreign. 3. A child looking older for his age. Call the police!!

    Absurd Japan. Let me lampoon it for a bit.

    Why not call the police if you see a dodgy ojisan looking nervously at you? I mean, why so nervous? Could it be the things he is selling in his dodgy electronics shop are stolen? Or maybe he is a future Tatsuya Ichihashi, eyeing up his potential NJ victim?

    Can’t be too sure, so lets get hysterical and nervous too and just CALL THE POLICE.

    Taking the absurd logic a step further and using similar J logic, having an electronics shop outside Akihabara is pretty dodgy in itself, surely? (Like foreigners being seen outside Roppongi).

    And surely its very “Unjapanese” to set up your own business- according to the stereotype, shouldnt he be a salaryman at LAOX or Softmap? I mean, who does he think he is?

    This kind of person shouldnt be in business, anyway. Or he is just so successful he can turn away customers based on race?

  • Idiots. So what happens tomorrow when this kid gets stopped by the police again? Get arrested again?

    This is the same dilemma faced by naturalized citizens, by the way. Citizens aren’t required to carry ID, but will be stopped by the police if they don’t look ethnically Japanese, and demanded to show their ID. What ID??? They’re not required to carry one, you moron. The kid even said he was under 16 from the start. What’s ironic is that someone who IS ethnically Japanese, and speaks without an accent, but without Japanese citizenship, could live here forever as an illegal resident, without fear of being arrested for not carrying his ID. Whereas someone who isn’t ethnically Japanese could face arrest, despite being a Japanese citizen. In the eyes of the law, “Japanese” means citizenship, not ethnicity. But to the police (who are suppose to enforce the law), “Japanese” obviously means ethnicity. Very, very dangerous mentality.

    I encourage every naturalized Japanese citizen to refuse to show any ID to the police when you’re stopped. You’re not required to show it, so don’t. Don’t even show any proof that you’re a citizen. If they question your citizenship, or detain you further, raise hell about it and contact all media outlets.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    ‘Suspicious foreigner’.
    In Japan? There is no other kind!
    The NPA has spent decades ratcheting up the paranoid fear of a phantom ‘gaijin crime wave’.
    I bet the average Japanese would be able to define only one kind of forefinger who wasn’t ‘suspicious’;
    The foreigner clearly being led around by their Japanese ‘handler’.

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    Slight tangent, but still relevant.

    I was stopped by a patrol officer on my bike on my way home from work. (note: I suspect I wasn’t profiled so much as being in the wrong place at the wrong time)
    The cop wanted to ID me (note: not check my ARC but just ID – I wasn’t in the mood for putting up an argument so I let him see my drivers licence)

    The reason? The cop was under instructions to be especially alert about people moving around a certain power transformer station – somewhere in the backwaters of Saitama – ahead of the Summit!

    Japan turns into a police state for a few weeks.

  • @Miki

    No, his crime wasn’t that he didn’t look Japanese. It was that he wasn’t carrying his ID, which all non-citizens over 16 are required to carry. He was under 16, but was arrested anyway. The reason he was stopped and asked for ID in the first place was because he didn’t look Japanese.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    See, this right here is why the National Police Agency needs to stop this narrative that NJ automatically need to be reported to the police for being not Japanese;

    In Kumamoto, there has been a rash of looting after the earthquake. But have no fear! Officials are actually relying on groups of self-appointed locals to form vigilante patrols to ‘put an end’ to it (whatever that means).

    So much for ‘Japan is a country of law’.
    I wouldn’t want to be an NJ living or helping out down there, who gets confronted by a self-appointed, officially endorsed, squad of bully boys ‘protecting honest Japanese folk’.

    Sounds like the sort of thing that went on after the Great Kanto Earthquake. Or El Salvador, or something. Banana republic Japan at its finest.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/22/national/looters-ransack-empty-homes-inn-kumamoto-quake/

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    I am revisiting this post once again because this incident carries far more serious implication than the ones we have contemplated on. It’s really scaring to see the cops coming to the store and rounding up NJ(s) for failing to carry the ID. Police authority wrote their police to empower themselves to behave like clueless white cops who beat up innocent one and make up probable charge–such as resisting arrest for merely being in the scene but committing no crime. I have never seen nor heard any case that NJ(s) has/have actually been arrested by the police for the failure to provide the ID in non-crime scene situation until I heard this news. This is a canary in coal mine since it sends us a message that authority is seeking more power in interrogation to normalize such aggressive tactics on non-citizens as their privilege.

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