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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader Onur updates his post here last month about discrimination at Japanese hotels being, in one case, coin-operated (where all “foreign guests” are unlawfully forced to provide photocopies of their passports, moreover at their own expense) at police behest. Now he gets to the bottom of police chicanery in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, where he catches them in an outright lie. Three lies in one police notice, as a matter of fact. Read on:
April 12, 2016
Hello Dr. Debito,
I have some news on the passport copy rule in the hotels, which shows the role of the local police in the unnecessary checking and copying of ID cards of foreigners living in Japan. Last weekend I stayed at Mimatsu Hotel in Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture. I wrote my Japanese address to the guest registration form during check-in.
However, the reception asked for my passport. I said I don’t carry my passport and they said any ID card like driver’s license is OK. Although showing is not necessary, I showed them my residence card with my address and permanent resident status on it. They said that they must copy the card. I asked the reason. They said that it is the rule of the hotel(!) and also the law of Japan to copy the ID of all foreigners. I was surprised to hear that also the hotel has such rule in addition to the law of Japan! I said that according to law it is not necessary and they are not allowed to copy my card, but they insisted they must copy.
They showed me a poster on the wall. The poster prepared by the Mito City Police Department Security Division was saying that “Japanese law requires that we ask every foreign guest to present their passport, photocopy of which we keep on file during their stay with us”. I said that the real law is different and showed them the copy of https://www.city.shinjuku.lg.jp/content/000062471.pdf . After seeing the document, they reluctantly allowed me to stay.
I said that I will inform this incident to Mito City Public Health Department (保健所), which has authority over the hotels regarding the implementation of laws. The next day during the check-out I asked the receptionist of the hotel to take a photo of the poster prepared by the Mito City Police Department to check it in detail. The receptionist gave permission so I took the photo of the poster and printed it at an Internet Cafe. I am sending the poster as an attachment.
[CAPTION COMMENT FROM DEBITO: Note the three official lies in this official poster issued by the Ibaraki Police: 1) Japanese law requires every foreign guest to present their passport (no: every foreign tourist without an address in Japan); 2) the requirement of photocopying (which is stated nowhere in the law), and 3) their citation of the Hotel Business Law, which states none of this.]
It was Sunday and all public offices were closed, so I cancelled my bus reservation by paying cancellation fee and stayed one more day in Mito, which cost me lots of money. In Monday morning, I went to Mito City Public Health Department (保健所), because when I had called the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry to learn more about the law, they had told me to inform the Public Health Department of the city in case a problem occurs in a hotel.
The officers at Public Health Department were very helpful. They said that as I have an address in Japan, I do not have to present my ID to the hotel. I showed them the poster of the police department. The officers were very surprised. They said that they have never seen this poster before and also the police did not contact the Public Health Department regarding the poster. They said that the explanation in the poster is clearly different from the real law, especially the English translation which says “every foreign guest”. They commented that the police is becoming more and more strict since last year because the G7 Summit and Tokyo Olympics are approaching. Finally, they said that they will check the hotel and inform me about the result.
As a final step, I went to the Mito City Police Department. I said I want to learn more about their poster. Two police officers from the security division came. I told them the incident at the hotel and informed them about the result of my call to Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry and my visit to Public Health Department regarding the law. They listened without making any comments. I showed them the official announcement of the ministry at https://www.city.shinjuku.lg.jp/content/000062471.pdf and said that their poster is clearly different. They took notes like the number of the law as if they are not aware of the law and they read the announcement of the ministry. They asked questions like “Do the other hotels in other parts of Japan ask your ID card? Isn’t checking the ID card necessary to confirm that a foreigner really has an address in Japan?” I answered their questions and asked them to contact the ministry for detailed information. I said I called the ministry, so I can give the phone number of the ministry if they want. They said it is not necessary. Finally, I said please fix your poster. They said they will check the law and behave accordingly.
In the afternoon, I had phone call from the Public Health Department. They said they went to the Mimatsu Hotel to check it and saw that the poster on the wall of the hotel has changed. It seems that the police department printed a new poster and distributed to all hotels only in a few hours after I left the police department! They said the new poster clearly states “foreign nationals who do not possess an address in Japan”, so complies the regulations. They said they informed the hotel about the laws and regulations and warned the hotel to not to the same mistake again. Finally, they thanked me for informing them about this problem.
[REQUEST FROM DEBITO: Any readers near or in Mito who can drop by a hotel and take a picture of the new notice for us? Thanks.]
In short, if you ever encounter such a problem with a hotel, go to the local Public Health Department (保健所). They were very helpful and quick. If the problem is due to the police (not a misunderstanding of the hotel management), do not hesitate to go to the police department.
COMMENT: Ibaraki sure seems to have it in for foreigners. Check out these past notices from their police forces:
From “Update: Ibaraki Police’s third new NJ-scare poster”
Debito.org, July 29th, 2009
From “Ibaraki Pref Police put up new and improved public posters portraying NJ as coastal invaders”
Debito.org, November 20th, 2008
And how about these Debito.org entries?
Kyodo: Foreign trainee slain, colleague wounded in rural Ibaraki attack, in oddly terse article (UPDATED with news of another underreported NJ death)
Debito.org, Thursday, February 26th, 2015
Nikkei: Another Japanese nabbed for being like a “suspicious foreigner” in Ibaraki. Adding it to the collection
Debito.org, Tuesday, August 26th, 2014
Oh that’s right. Ibaraki is home to a really mean foreign detention center:
Debito.org, Monday, May 24th, 2010
Debito.org, Monday, March 22nd, 2010
Japan Times & Sano Hiromi on violence towards NJ detainees at Ibaraki Detention Center, hunger strike
Debito.org, Friday, March 12th, 2010
There’s also a mention of a death in detention in Ibaraki at that detention center, mentioned in the following Reuters expose.
Reuters: Death toll mounts in Japanese Detention Centers (aka “Gaijin Tanks”) as NJ seek asylum and are indefinitely detained and drugged
Debito.org, Wednesday, March 16th, 2016
Ibaraki Police have also notified the public about how “foreign crime groups” behave, courtesy of http://www.pref.ibaraki.jp/kenkei/a01_safety/security/infra.html
NPA “Crime Infrastructure Countermeasures” campaign also targets “foreign crime” anew. Justifies more anonymous anti-NJ signs
Debito.org, Thursday, June 20th, 2013, which included the following racialized illustration:
It would seem the officially-sponsored xenophobia runs deep in Ibaraki. Put a nasty Gaijin Detention Center in an area, allow the police to project their bunker mentalities by lying on public posters, and you get panicky residents who sic cops on “people who look suspicious” because they look foreign (even if they are Japanese). Are you seeing what happens when you give the police too much power to target people? Ibaraki Prefecture is developing into a nice case study.
Well done Onur for doing all this great detective work. I did some investigative work like this more than a decade ago. Remarkable that despite having this pointed out again and again, the NPA continues to lie about the laws they are supposed to enforce. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
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