Protest NJ Fingerprinting: Pay your taxes in one yen coins

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog. This isn’t my idea. It’s my friend’s, and it’s cheeky enough that I decided to blog it here too. Original at http://oneyensolution.googlepages.com/home
Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Reluctantly complying with the letter of the law, paying all my taxes and municipal expenses with One Yen coins.

November 20th 2008 was a black day for human rights in Japan. All non-Japanese passport holders, with a few exceptions, were required to be fingerprinted and photographed at their point of entry into the country. Blindly following the American system, Japan also included long term permanent residents in its fingerprinting and photgraphing dragnet. Despite protests, the system shows no signs of going away any time soon. The USA now takes all ten fingerprints, and it is highly likely that its lackey, Japan will soon begin to do likewise. I suspect it will be implemented like executions here, announced after the fact. So, what can we do to highlight our plight?

I had a momentary flash of either genius, mischief, or both. I thought of how I, (and any other international resident of Japan who resents this violation of our human rights as much as I do), could express my utter contempt for this criminal practice, and at the same time stay on the right side of the law, the ass that it is.

Well, just today, May 23rd 2008, I submitted a polite, reasoned and clearly enunciated formal letter of protest to the mayor of the city in which I reside, and told him that I was “temporarily suspending payment of the residential Poll Tax (as I call it), until I am no longer subjected to the discrimination and racism of official Japan,” and that, “when this happened, I would resume full payment as before. All I want is to be treated with a little respect and dignity. No more than a Japanese national would expect in my country of citizenship.” I have very low expectations of City Hall, but at least it’s on their radar now.

Having just received a third “Final Notice” for the residential “Poll Tax” yesterday, I have decided to go ahead and pay it anyway, while His Worship mulls my seven pages of protest.

I intend to order the entire amount in advance from the local “Shinkin Ginko” in One Yen coins, and then march it across the street to the City Hall’s tax department. I will wait for them to count it all, and then I’m going to ask (tongue in cheek) for a set of fingerprints and a photograph of the Section Chief, as a receipt. I’ll settle for the usual red stamp with the date on it. I will have a friend photograph the handover when possible, and post it here.

Each time, I’ll also submit to the Tax Section chief and to His Worship the Mayor himself this excellent document, found at:

http://www.debito.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/ReentryJapanProtest.jpg

Now maybe I’m out in left field on this. My hope is that EVERY member of the international resident community all across Japan could do this kind of thing every time tax is due. Await receipt of the third “Final Notice” for the residential “Poll Tax” each and every time, and then go and pay in One Yen coins, even rolled up in 100 Yen sleeves. Hand in a copy of the document above each time, one to the tax office, and one to the Mayor’s office. Sooner or later they might just begin to see a pattern which never existed before this fiasco. Hopefully municipalities will put two and two together, and might plead with on our behalf for an exemption from the criminal fingerprinting and photographing at the airport each time.

More to follow as it unfolds!
http://oneyensolution.googlepages.com/home
ENDS

31 comments on “Protest NJ Fingerprinting: Pay your taxes in one yen coins

  • My approach has been to let my views be known to immigration each time I reenter the country.

    Enough of us cause enough trouble and hopefully they will reconsider.

    Reply
  • What a horrible idea – what does the mayor and/or local tax authority have to do with the fingerprinting? Does that person also spit on gas station attendants to protest rising fule prices? Or stages demonstrations in front of his local supermarket to protest the butter shortage?

    –Point taken. But these are two incomparable social organs. Gas stations and supermarkets (whose charges are set more by market forces) are not exactly public organs here to serve the taxpayer, funded by tax fiat. Nor do they set public policy that everyone has to follow under punishment of law. (You don’t HAVE to buy gas or butter, but you MUST pay taxes or you will be put in jail.)

    The national vs. local dichotomy is the stronger criticism. But paying any kind of tax to an administrative regime which treats a segment of its taxpayers badly is still a criticism no doubt in the author’s view worth voicing.

    Reply
  • crackerjacksoul says:

    “November 20th 2008 was a black day for human rights in Japan.”

    Oops. I think that should read November 20th, 2007, shouldn’t it?

    Reply
  • “November 20th 2008 was a black day…”
    Are we now reading into the future or this a simple typo?

    I agree this is is a silly idea for a solution to anything. I remember hearing of ploys such as this when I was a child in Canada. It simply doesn’t work and is, quite often the case, not a legal way to pay bills. Laws relating to monetary handling often state a set number of loose coins that are acceptable as payment. Anything beyond that point must be properly counted and rolled. What’s more, there are often regualations as to how much coinage — in lieu of bills or other form of payment — is acceptable in general. It may be just to avoid such a tactic of public protest. At any rate, it seems an incredibly juvenile way to deal with matters especially ones unrelated to the issue being protested.

    Reply
  • Henry Dark says:

    Pure idiocy. OK, I know you didn’t write it, but how can you get behind such poor judgement and continue to claim that this blog is offering useful, constructive advice for NJ residents in Japan?

    Because I like it when people try to get creative when thinking in terms of civil disobedience–it’s far better than second-guessing yourself into inaction. If you don’t like the idea, say so and why (as you have). But requiring every idea be “useful and constructive” to 100% of the readership (especially when no matter what, somebody will disagree with protesting a suggested way, or even at all), is muri. Best to throw the idea out there and let people indicate what’s wrong with it. A more effective, polished idea may come of it in the end.

    Reply
  • just a note, the date at the start is November 20th 2008, wasn’t it 2007? nitpicking I know! lol.

    I know in most countries small coinage is legal only up to a certain use. like you can’t legally buy anything with pennies unless it’s under 10 cents, or a buck 50 for dimes. is it the same in Japan?

    Reply
  • There is a law that invalidates such payment in small coins.
    通貨の単位及び貨幣の発行等に関する法律
    第五条 貨幣の種類は、五百円、百円、五十円、十円、五円及び一円の六種類とする。
    第七条 貨幣は、額面価格の二十倍までを限り、法貨として通用する。
    “Law on Unit of Currency and Minting of Coins
    Article 5. There shall be 6 types of coins, namely 500 yen, 100 yen, 50 yen, 10 yen 5 yen and 1 yen.
    Article 6. Coins are legal tender up to 20 times of their face value.”

    One can use up to 20 coins of each denomination, but beyond that, the coins cease being legal tender and the receiver can refuse such payment in coins. In other words, the city can refuse such payment and areest the taxpayer for non-payment of tax.

    Reply
  • Oh no! The price of “fule” is rising? Let’s “stages” demonstrations to protest a shortage of butter!

    Reply
  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    “In other words, the city can refuse such payment and areest the taxpayer for non-payment of tax.”

    HO, “arrest”? I know you’re a big fan of extending police powers, but somehow I imagine that the only thing the city hall person could do would be the same thing they would do if the taxpayer had counted his money wrong and shown up without enough money: send them away with instructions to bring the right amount in legal tender.

    Reply
  • Now seriously, John, is that how you plan to argue against a viewpoint that conflicts with your own? By pointing out a typing error?

    Reply
  • There is a law that invalidates such payment in small coins.
    通貨の単位及び貨幣の発行等に関する法律
    第五条 貨幣の種類は、五百円、百円、五十円、十円、五円及び一円の六種類とする。
    第七条 貨幣は、額面価格の二十倍までを限り、法貨として通用する。
    “Law on Unit of Currency and Minting of Coins
    Article 5. There shall be 6 types of coins, namely 500 yen, 100 yen, 50 yen, 10 yen 5 yen and 1 yen.
    Article 6. Coins are legal tender up to 20 times of their face value.”

    One can use up to 20 coins of each denomination, but beyond that, the coins cease being legal tender and the receiver can refuse such payment in coins.

    Thanks to HO for this tidbit, the 2008 now having been corrected. I will try and work it into my peaceful, non-violent protests.

    I doubt I’ll be arrested, though!

    Reply
  • I know this is a bit off-topic but I’m curious about something. For me there are three issues regarding fingerprinting/photographing non-Japanese passport holders. The first two have to do with its necessity (will it help meet the purpose for which it is (purportedly) intended) and its fairness (why fingerprint foreign residents and not Japanese too?). But its the third issue which has me curious, and that is the process of being fingerprinted/photographed itself. From time to time I have read on this blog about how the process takes away from your dignity. But is that really true? And to what degree? After finally going through it (at Narita) I have to say I never got that feeling. Maybe its because my expectations didn’t relflect the actual experience. I expected to wait in line a while and then do the ink thing while a couple of scowling security staff oversaw the process. Instead, I was second in line and greeted only by a bored looking 20-something who showed me the electronic gizmo which took care of it in about a minute. No one was staring at me; everyone just looked pretty damn tired and anxious to get their bags and go home. In contrast, I was at Yamada Denki yesterday and when I bought something they asked me for my passport or alien reg. card because I was using a credit card. That actually annoyed me (a tiny bit). Anyway, has anybody else felt their dignity being trampled on by the process itself?

    This is a good blog. Very informative. Yet, now and then I think the level of outrage seems a little over-the-top or misplaced. I had a friend who went into Yoshinoya with his Japanese g/f the other day, a few seconds before a Japanese customer came in, and he got upset when he saw that the Japanese customer’s order was taken before his. However, his g/f told him she heard the other customer had already given his order while walking to his seat. For a moment my friend thought a kind of subtle discrimination took place. I know this has nothing to do with issues one and two mentioned above re: fingerprinting. I just think foreigners living in Japan need to be, at times, a little more reasoned in their conclusions and responses.

    –Quite. Thanks for writing this. I do make much the same argument regarding sizing something up as “discriminatory” or not in HANDBOOK, pp 194-8.

    I can’t speak for everyone who reads this blog, of course, or their sensitivities. But I reckon the Debito.org blog will inevitably wind up as a bit of an outlet for people who feel they’re having a raw time of it, I guess. I do delete a lot of comments that come off as over the top, hateful, and outright racist towards Japan and the Japanese. I much prefer, as you do, the reasoned responses and conclusions. Let’s just hope that those who have their off-days in Japan eventually gravitate back towards sensibility once they calm down.

    Reply
  • If you want to protest with one and five-yen coins, use those to pay for the horrendously overpriced food (700¥ udon?!) at the airport while waiting for boarding, as I did once at KIX.

    Reply
  • i like this mans plan, because finally he is taking a stand, and he is standing up for his godly rights, some people are too scared to be the nail that sticks up, i also admire this mans creativity and hes desire to change japan from within. keep up the good work and hopefully japan will change for the better,..remember this country needs alot of change. in fact its almost laughable or cryable for that matter that japan want a permanent seat on the UN security council when they dont even have there own human rights laws in order..priceless

    Reply
  • This fingerprinting is nothing new to me. When I came to Japan and got my first alien card I was fingerprinted at the city ward that issued the card.
    It was printed on my registration card that I had to carry with me all the time.
    It was very humiliating I felt as if I was automatically taken into criminal registration.
    Thank God, this practice was abolished a few years later. Now it came back again but in a different way, different purpose and it now seems to be inevitable as I am only fingerprinted when I travel. Yes, that seems different.

    There is however, one thing I would like to know and I couldn’t find satisfactory answer yet.
    Into which or what kind of computerized database are our personal profile and our fingerprints going to be input.
    Are common, short period visitors’ and permanent residents’ prints and personal profile going to be kept together in the same database or would permanent residents’ prints be transferred back to the city ward again or to police criminal database?

    Say, would they update our (permanents residents) personal profile with our prints, a practice that was abolished once and now they practically redo again?

    Where do they end up and, which organizations and who is approved to gain access, on what base and how long would they remain in their database etc.

    The foreign ministry disposes over the prints or does it go into some shared home criminal database?

    Is there any way to get to know that and find out more about it?

    Paying taxes in one yen coins sounds funny to me, makes me smile and rather seem to me a prank. However, civil disobedience is a powerful weapon and great things may start with a little prank if it is capable to bring a huge group of people of the same mindset together.

    –Much of the information you requested above may be found in articles I’ve gotten published at the Japan Times and Metropolis:
    http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/709/lastword.asp
    http://www.debito.org/japantimes121807.html

    Reply
  • Andrew Smallacombe says:

    Maybe threatening to not pay residential tax is not the best way to prostest about fingerprinting, but is a way of protesting the unavailabilty of juminhyo to foreign residents. (“If I can’t get a juminhyo, I’m obviously not a jumin. So I’m not going to pay juminzei”)

    Reply
  • ————Much of the information you requested above may be found in articles I’ve gotten published at the Japan Times and Metropolis:———–

    Thanks a lot. I should have been able explore it on my own but there are so much information on the web sometimes get lost and I cant find what I need if even it stabs my eyes. Bookmarked.
    Thanks again.

    –Not at all. Thanks to a “bot exploit” sabotaging my blog and putting in hidden text to porn sites, Google has made my entire site unsearchable for the time being. I’ve fixed the problem and reapplied for indexing, but this has happened all over and Google seems to have a huge backlog of exploit victims to check out. Sigh.

    Reply
  • personally i cant understand the negative reactions this action is getting from some posters ..i think paying in 1 yen coins is too petty ,and that he has the wrong issue-but i think standing up for your rights and making a protest is the only way people are going to know how unacceptable the governmental and other discrimination is..
    the last poster beat me to it but I think it is a great way to protest the lack of juuminhyou-putting a well argued letter with it
    cannot have anything but a positive change in peoples thinking.
    as for the [person] who claims he was only a tiny bit annoyed at being asked for his registration card when in yamada denki-what do they have to do to you to make you stand up for yourself??? by not doing anything you allow the japanese to think this behaviour is acceptable,which makes life harder for the rest of us.

    Reply
  • ————Thanks to a “bot exploit” sabotaging my blog and putting———-

    Too bad. That’s a shame. I made a new attempt and looked it up trying Mooter and Powerset.
    Mooter retrieved it well and lots of your articles. Good news, though.

    Reply
  • I’ve always enjoyed this sort of tom-foolery on officialdom. Sort of like paying your taxes with “the shirt off your back” – (if you put the proper routing information on it a shirt is a perfectly legal check in the USA) or with a wheelbarrow full of pennies. At least the 1 yen coins are aluminum and light!

    Won’t do any good, won’t do anything but make enemies of your local tax authorities and give them a poor opinion of NJ (imagine the conversation at the local bar – it will be about the NJ who decided to pay his taxes in 1 yen coins, no mention will be made of why you did it because frankly they don’t care), noone at immigration will hear about it (unless you can get the Japanese media to come cover it) but if it makes you feel better I am all for sticking it to the tax man at every turn.

    Reply
  • “In contrast, I was at Yamada Denki yesterday and when I bought something they asked me for my passport or alien reg. card because I was using a credit card.”

    If it was me, Yamada Denki would have lost a customer.

    The only time I’ll consent to showing any more ID than would have been required of a Japanese person, is if I’m applying for some sort of credit, because I figure that the credit issuers have the right to check that I have a visa before lending me money…

    Reply
  • I can’t stand all of this hubris.

    This is a failure of a protest. The only outcome will be the decline of the image of foreigners, which has a direct, negative impact on me, personally. This isn’t “standing up for yourself.” It’s being petty. He’d cut off his nose to spite his face.

    Calling for the wrong action is worse than taking no action at all.

    Reply
  • i respectfully disagree with alex, i think in this case action is justified. and some action is better then nothing, maybe the people at the tax office need some long overdue
    reflection. and his plan is a good outlet and recourse. stick it to the tax man, and word will definately get around to immigration because they are all public servants just like myself years ago, and word does travel fast,,you bet your butt that he will get his point across or his yen for that matter….

    Reply
  • what about taking a photograph of the immigration officer who is taking a photo of you…im going out of the country and trying to think of a way to protest when I come back in..

    Reply
  • gary, how about just refuse to have your picture taken, the only thing that can happen is that they can refuse you entry in japan, and if they keep doing that to many people they will most definately get a bad RAP from the international media etc..

    Reply
  • See similar issue in Italy. This is total discrimination, but…sooner or later everyone will be effected worldwide.

    http://euobserver.com/22/26408

    Below some more news from EU. “Global Outcry…” Well, there wasn`t any such outcry toward Japan. Why? See article below.

    http://euobserver.com/22/26354

    Next article is from February, but EU officials agreed on this last month. It is going to start not so soon though (between 2012-2015)

    http://euobserver.com/?aid=25606

    On the other hand, I went through Narita last month, nobody was behind me, even plane was only filled in half. (nobody wants to come here? 🙂 ) I can only tell you that fingerprint and photo went quite smooth and quick ( I was the only one re-enter) with my surprise a little bit, Super Glue (“tons” of it) did not help at all. So, machine reads glue too.

    Reply
  • The finger printing disgusts me as well, but it does give me a moment of amusement when they try to figure out what to do when they realize I don’t have a left hand to finger print.

    Reply
  • I am about to visit Japan pretty soon. You people are reading too much into this fingerprinting stuff! All the printing is for is to reduce the need to carry a piece of paper. A piece of paper that can easily be lost amongst all of your travel clutter. You can never lose your fingers unless you get them cut off accidentally by a rogue machine. Relax people.

    Reply
  • Interesting to see so many responses critical to the “single yen” civil disobedience strategy: I too believe it to be juvenile. Illegality withstanding, do practitioners of such symbolic protest honestly believe payment in coin will create inconvenience? I suppose all those speckled wearing government employs in payment processing divisions will have to dust off the long ago shelved abicuss to counter the cunning one-yen-coin en passant. I’ll go further: it saddens me that foreigners should castigate the Japanese, in their own home, for policies they perceive as sound and reasonable. My time as a foreign resident in Japan was minimal, 3 years as a participant of the JET Programme, but I am in total support of whatever policies/legislation the Japanese deem necessary and beneficial to their own people. I, along with many of my fellow foreign friends, were unlucky recipients of discrimination/prejudice on several occasions… although I acknowledge that these behavioral expressions are a fundamental part of human nature. NO AMOUNT of social engineering can replace millions of years of evolutionary behavioral development. Foreigners are guests in Japan and, ultimately, if they refuse to “dine on the foods presented to them at the Japanese table,” they’ve the freedom to return to their own country. It was astonishing to see a whole Face Book group organized in protest of this fingerprinting measure.

    In closing, this perceived offense does not seem so egregious when compared to Israel’s state enforced policy prohibiting the marriage of non-Jews to Jews. Maybe paying in sheckles would sway political opinion there…or maybe not.

    Reply
  • Michael: The problem with your “guestism” is that you believe that those of us who have called this place home for years and years should have no say in the way things are run.

    How do you feel about the ethnic Koreans who were born and raised here but have Korean citizenship? If they have a problem with Japan, should they go “home” to Korea where they have no friends, family, or knowledge of the language? What about foreign-born people with houses, families, and stable jobs here in Japan? If they don’t like it, should they divorce and move back to their home country rather than complain?

    Let me ask you something. When you see immigrants mistreated in your own country, do you say “If they don’t like it, they can go back to where they came from!” Probably not; such thinking is thought of as very insensitive in the West.. So why would you make that same argument in Japan?

    Reply

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