Kyodo: Japan developing GPS tracking system for foreign travelers as “anti-virus measure”. So Covid is now another international event, justifying more policing of foreigners only?

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Hi Blog.  In a development that Debito.org has been anticipating for quite some time (see, for example, the remotely-trackable RFID chipped Zairyuu Kaado ID cards the Government rolled out in 2012 to keep better tabs on NJ Residents), according to a Kyodo article below the Government is using the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as an excuse to enact programs digitally tracking all foreign tourists.  Read on:

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Japan developing tracking system for travelers from overseas as anti-virus measure
Kyodo News/Japan Today Dec. 27, 2020
https://japantoday.com/category/national/Japan-developing-tracking-system-for-travelers-from-overseas-as-anti-virus-measure

TOKYO (KYODO) — Japan is developing a system aimed at keeping track of travelers from overseas as part of efforts to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus within its borders, a senior government official said Sunday.

“There will be no point if we don’t implement it, so you will not be allowed to enter the country unless you use it,” Takuya Hirai, digital transformation minister, said on television.

Hirai said the government wants to complete the development of the monitoring system by the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, due to be held next summer.

Without providing in-depth detail, he said it will function by using global positioning system technology.

His comments on Fuji TV’s “The Prime” news program came a day after Japan said it will ban nonresident foreign citizens from entering the country, which has been seeing record daily numbers of coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

The measure, which will take effect from Monday through January, was announced following Japan’s detection of a new and seemingly more contagious variant of the virus.

Among other measures to tighten its borders, Japan will require its nationals and foreign residents to quarantine for two weeks, show proof of a negative coronavirus test result within 72 hours of departure for the country and undergo another test upon arrival.
ENDS

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COMMENT:  Nothing quite like being forced to wear the equivalent of a GPS criminal tracker for your entire stay.  And it’s not a stretch to see it being applied beyond tourists to NJ Residents after that, as Covid is providing a pretense to “track and trace” those “foreign clusters“.  As CNN notes, “If visitors are allowed [to attend the Olympics], their experience will likely be high-tech. The government is developing a contract tracing app for attendees using GPS that will reportedly link visas, proof of test results, tickets and other information, authorities said.”

Visas? So we’re getting Immigration involved? As Submitter JDG notes, “Obviously, it’s just a matter of time until the Japanese demand all NJ are 24/7 tracked legally in real time with an automated alert popping up on some koban monitor the minute their visas expire. That ought to end that nefarious den of crime right there!  Whew.”

Finally, note how this proposed contract tracing and tracking is only being applied to foreigners, not Japanese:

“In doing so, [Kanagawa] prefecture would spend much less time pursuing contact history for what it described as the second most cluster-prone demographic — namely, kindergarten, day care and school teachers — and would completely stop investigating others. With the announcement, Kanagawa became the nation’s first prefecture to forge ahead with such a drastic scaling down of contact-tracing, which had been the linchpin of Japan’s battle against the pandemic.” (Japan Times, Jan 19, 2021, courtesy of JDG, emphasis added)

So with the advance of technology, the dragnet further tightens on “the foreign element” in Japan. As we have seen with the G8 Summits, the 2002 soccer World Cup, the 2019 Rugby World Cup, “Visit Japan” tourism campaigns in general, and now the 2020 Olympics, international events in Japan serve to inflame its knee-jerk “safety and security” reflexes, and justify all manner of bad overpolicing habits. They essentially become an excuse to invite foreigners in, then police them further.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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20 comments on “Kyodo: Japan developing GPS tracking system for foreign travelers as “anti-virus measure”. So Covid is now another international event, justifying more policing of foreigners only?

  • David Markle says:

    There really is a chip in there.

    I put my phone reader up to my ARC card and the chip inside responded, but was unreadable on my phone. I assume its a GPS location identifier of some kind.

    Reply
    • The following government website is very clear about what the chip is for in “the language NJ aren’t supposed to be able to read”: http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/news-list/120424_01.html

      Tracking is not listed, and until I see objective proof, I dismiss the claim about tracking as a conspiracy theory.

      The case of the smartphone app for visitors is of course very different. In that case even the government clearly states that it’s for tracking. I hope that it’ll get ditched again once Covid is over, but I’m not very optimistic, because it would render the development costs pointless in the long run.

      Reply
  • Apart from the obvious scapegoating and pointlessness, I find the utter arrogance of such a move mind-blowing. Is the J government so detached from reality that they think people around the world will rush to visit the only country that will tag them like criminals?
    Interesting to live in a country that can be a tiny island nation that doesn’t know any better and the centre of the universe at the same time.

    Reply
    • Yeah, I think we all now that Japanese politicians, especially LDP ones, are just disconnected from reality. They have no clue what the average citizen needs or desires, the only thing they care about is the stock market, because they have to make their 1% friends even richer. The human rights of their own citizens don‘t mean much and the human rights of foreign residents and/or tourists are basically non existent. Yet, LDP politicians still somehow think that Tokyo can become the new Hong Kong or Singapore. They think that elite foreigners will somehow all flock to Japan in order to be treated as second class citizens. Therefore, I‘m not at all surprised that they also think that tourists visiting the Olympics will travel to Japan during a pandemic and willingly install an app that will track all their movements. Sure, there will be some naive apologists who will do just that, but I highly doubt that the Olympics will get as much spectators as the LDP thinks, if they‘re even going to be held this year.

      And like Debito and everyone else in the comment section already said, this isn‘t going to be a one time thing for the Olympics. This app is going to stay and in a few years every foreigner will have to install it when entering Japan. Same as the residency cards that use a chip. The fact that the app will link your visa status with other data shows that it‘s not about just preventing covid.

      Reply
  • Magdalena with another great article; Japan’s justice minister defends discrimination of NJ residents during Covid and beyond;

    ‘ The differences in treatment between citizens and non-Japanese residents will always occur due to limitations stemming from laws (upon which the measures were based).’
    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/01/31/national/kamikawa-border-controls/

    You’re a ‘lawmaker’, so make some new laws!
    No? Then this is why Japan will never be a ‘leading global hub’ in any industry (including vaccines, as I pointed out in another thread).

    It’s really just this simple; Japan doesn’t want to do better socially, economically, legally, than it already is.

    Reply
    • That quote tells you everything you need to know about how Japanese view NJ. There‘s no hope that we‘ll ever get an anti discrimination law if even the justice minister says that discrimination will always happen and it‘s just shouganai. This is literally a conversation I had with 90% of Japanese people. It usually goes like this:

      1. I complain about something racist which has happened to me in Japan.

      2. Japanese person says: „Well that‘s too bad, but racism is everywhere so shouganai. When I went to America I was also discriminated.“

      3. I then ask if they ever saw a store with an „Americans only“ sign. The answer is always no, and then I explain that such signs are illegal in every developed country except for Japan.

      4. Japanese person says: „Well if you don‘t like Japan, just go home!“

      So yeah. The justice minister is intellectually on the same level as any random Japanese person on the streets and uses the same arguments.

      As Ghosn said, get out of Japan while you can, because the laws will not protect you.

      Reply
      • It’s a bit rich for a law-maker to say that the laws are bad, but nothing can be done, because that’s the law. Also, it isn’t true in this case. The government came up with these restrictions on the go. It wasn’t “the law”.

        She also mentions how she has experienced discrimination in the US. I have a similar experience when talking to J people who’ve spent some time abroad. When I mention that I have faced discrimination regarding credit cards, housing or work, or the terribly unfair travel restrictions, they often hit me with their experience of someone saying something ignorant or racist when they were abroad. It’s a bit like they were saying, “There you have it, a random stranger made me feel uncomfortable once, which is the same as the government systematically treating you as a second-class citizen.”

        Reply
  • Loverilakkuma says:

    I don’t know which private companies they choose to offer a contract for installing ICE/CBP-like, contact tracing border patrol system. Google and Amazon are already in trouble for selling out their high-tech devices to the US government. I don’t think they will be interested in partnering with J-government. But there are some start-ups that have connections with these big techs and/or government ministries are now entering into Japanese market in the last several years. So, I guess the Japanese government is narrowing down the list of those companies who would love to provide their AI-enhanced gadgets for a petty deal.

    Reply
  • Thanks for the update, Doctor. I’ll order a Faraday cage soon for my next zairyuu card as well as other cards with sensitive data.
    Also, get a VPN to secure your phones and computers, everyone.

    Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    It’s a tangent, but is this the real reason why Japan’s only anti-virus measure is to ‘urge’ restaurants and bars to close at 8pm?

    https://japantoday.com/category/business/analysis-out-in-the-cold-how-japan%27s-electricity-grid-came-close-to-blackouts#

    The government has stopped contract tracing because the tracers are overwhelmed. 15,000 ‘officially’ tested positive cases are at home waiting for a bed. And yet, Tokyo has miraculously dropped from +20,000 cases to 8,000 in two weeks. Why didn’t other countries do that?
    It’s because the Japanese government has put in place a system that allows it to reduce the daily numbers regardless of reality.
    So what was the point of the 8pm request?
    Oh yeah, due to a cold snap across Asia, demand for LNG has spiked, and Japanese power companies hadn’t bothered to stock up beforehand, and can’t afford to buy BoE because so many customers have contracts at fixed prices. If it wasn’t for reduced demand (thank you SOE!) there would have been blackouts.
    So in reality, the J-Gov is doing nothing to counter Covid.

    Reply
    • “We were not able to buy as much supply as we wanted from the spot market because of higher demand from South Korea and China,” Kazuhiro Ikebe, the head of the country’s electricity federation, said recently.

      Blame the foreigner, those upstart rival Asians. Oh, for the days when China was backward. Oh, he misses the 80s…..

      Reply
    • Jim, come on, Daijobu da yo. You know Japan is Safety Country so its special. Also, with its unique culture and four seperate seasons, can do social distancing easier. We Japanese also have a culture of bathing frequently, so can keep clean. This may not be your custom in another country.

      Never mind the whole family shares the Ofuro, but I digress in satire.

      I am reaping the myths sown in the 70s and 80s. Those bubble jidai chickens coming home to roost.

      Reply
  • Japan finds over 90 cases of new Covid strain.
    Point of order #1
    The virus mutates when it is left to spread unchecked for sufficient length of time. We KNOW that unchecked community spread is happening because Japan has stopped contact tracing and enforcing isolation and testing for contacts. Even before Japan stopped contact tracing, around 2/3 of daily cases were from ‘unknown routes of infection’ indicating that the virus was rampant in the wider community.
    Point of order #2
    This new strain has been confirmed to NOT be the so-called UK, South African, nor Brazilian variant.
    YET the Japanese government INSISTS this strain was imported from a foreign country, and despite the facts of point #1 above, is NOT a ‘Japan strain’.
    Olympics covid coverup, and all.

    https://japantoday.com/category/national/japan-finds-more-than-90-cases-of-new-covid-19-virus-strain-media

    Reply

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