US Embassy in Japan tweets warning against Japanese police practice of “racial profiling”: Bravo. About time.

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Hi Blog.  We’ve been warning about racial profiling by Japanese police on Debito.org (and in book “Embedded Racism in Japan“) for many years now. (We’ve even gone so far to call it “standard operating procedure” in public policing.) Finally the US Embassy is now warning its own citizens against it.

Well, good, and long overdue.  Because when the US Embassy weighs in on things like this (such as instant Gaijin Card Checks at hotels, shady street Gaijin Card Checks by people posing as Japanese police, and instant pee-pee drug tests for people who “look foreign” in Roppongi), the GOJ sits up and takes notice (and stops the pee-pee tests, for example).  And in yesterday’s instance, it’s newsworthy enough to be reported quite widely in other media.

Bravo US Embassy.  Do more of this.  Since Japan’s minorities are so disenfranchised that we’ll get no public policy to stop this, the only avenue available is pressure from public exposure from abroad.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

PS: If anyone is on the US Embassy mailing lists and you received a warning there too, please forward it to debito@debito.org or in the Comments Section below for the record.  Thanks.

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U.S. Embassy warns of suspected racial profiling by Japan police
By Isabel Reynolds, Japan Times/Bloomberg, December 6, 2021, Courtesy of JDG, TJL, and GPW
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/12/06/national/crime-legal/us-embassy-racial-profiling-police/

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo issued a warning Monday about foreign residents being stopped and searched by Japanese police in what it said were suspected to be “racial profiling incidents.”

The unusual move by the embassy of Tokyo’s only formal ally came after Japan closed its borders to new entries by foreigners amid concern over the omicron variant, just weeks after beginning a cautious reopening. The closure was backed by almost 90% of respondents to a media poll over the weekend.

The alert posted on the Twitter account of the American Citizen Services section of the embassy warned that U.S. citizens should carry proof of their immigration status and notify their consulate if detained. The alert added that several foreigners “were detained, questioned, and searched.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno dismissed the concerns and said at a news briefing that police questioning in the country is not based on nationality or race.

The number of foreign citizens living in Japan fell by 2% to 2.8 million in June, compared with a year earlier, according to the Justice Ministry. American citizens made up less than 2% of the total, at nearly 54,000. Entry by foreign tourists, businesspeople and students is currently banned under coronavirus restrictions, although foreigners with resident status are currently permitted to re-enter.
ENDS
///////////////////////////////////////////

US Embassy in Tokyo warns of ‘suspected racial profiling’ by Japanese police
BY MONIQUE BEALS – THE HILL.COM, 12/05/21
https://thehill.com/policy/international/584441-us-embassy-in-tokyo-warns-of-racial-profiling-by-japanese-police

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo issued a tweet on Sunday warning that foreigners were being stopped by Japanese police in “suspected racial profiling incidents.”

“The U.S. Embassy has received reports of foreigners stopped and searched by Japanese police in suspected racial profiling incidents. Several were detained, questioned, and searched,” the tweet said.

“U.S. citizens should carry proof of immigration and request consular notification if detained,” it added.

The U.S. Embassy has received reports of foreigners stopped and searched by Japanese police in suspected racial profiling incidents. Several were detained, questioned, and searched. U.S. citizens should carry proof of immigration and request consular notification if detained. pic.twitter.com/a8BkAU7eCR

— U.S. Embassy Tokyo, ACS (@ACSTokyo) December 5, 2021

The embassy’s warning message came not long after Japan closed its borders to foreigners amid concerns surrounding the omicron variant.

Nearly 90 percent of respondents in a Japanese poll said they were in support of the border measures, Bloomberg reported.

The number of foreign nationals living in Japan fell slightly this year to 2.8 million, Bloomberg reported, citing the Ministry of Justice. Less than 2 percent were American citizens, or about 54,000 people.

ENDS

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11 comments on “US Embassy in Japan tweets warning against Japanese police practice of “racial profiling”: Bravo. About time.

  • supernattoman says:

    Yes officer, this is still my bicycle. As it was last month, and the month before, and the month before…

  • “Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno dismissed the concerns and said at a news briefing that police questioning in the country is not based on nationality or race.”

    Ignoramus…

    But totally unsurprising.

      • When I was a child I always wondered if “psychics” really believe they can talk to dead people etc., or are they just bullshitting for money? Nowadays I’m wondering the same about politicians, especially Japanese ones. Does this guy really believe that the police isn’t racially profiling or is he just lying because he has too. Japanese politicians, especially LDP ones are usually so much disconnected from reality and every day life that I can’t tell anymore. Maybe he actually believes that there’s no racism in Japan. I sure know, I’ve heard that one from plenty of Japanese people.

        — I substantiate the “no racism in Japan because Japan has no other races” narrative quite strongly in book “Embedded Racism“.

        • “Does this guy really believe that the police isn’t racially profiling or is he just lying because he has too. ”

          Maybe a little bit of both? Nationalists (which, in my experience most J people are to a certain extent) take any criticism of their nation personally. Which means, even if he had proof of racial profiling right in front of him (which he probably doesn’t), he wouldn’t acknowledge it or even if he did acknowledge it for himself, it’s too much of a hot topic for a politician to address in a way different than expected.

          Most people I know think of racism as something done by white people, never by Japanese. But that’s only to be expected with Japan’s whitewashed (no pun intended) version of history and right-wing government controlled media.

          When I talked to locals about getting randomly stopped by police, it’s been pointed out to me that it happens EVEN to Japanese people. Not only did they not acknowledge a possible issue, they reinforced the implicit racism by suggesting that by being NJ, I should never complain about anything that can happen to a local as well, disregarding the fact that they get stopped if they’re wearing “suspicious” clothing or behave unusually. It’s, admittedly, still wrong to randomly stop people because of their fashion choices. However, it happens very rarely to me a local is even willing to admit race can be a factor or even if they do, that it isn’t fair.

          • Fascinating. “get stopped if they’re wearing “suspicious” clothing or behave unusually”
            So, “behaving unusually” = being an NJ in public without Handler?

            I have noticed though feel free to disagree, that one quite often has to “act” in public in a very obvious way to avoid possible suspicion, a bit like “oops I slipped on a banana skin”humor e.g. you take out your phone and if it looks like you are taking a picture you have to make a song and dance about it, so as it doesn’t look like youre taking a picture of people without permission but instead that charming cherry blossom nearby.
            Or one time I was looking for a short cut and was about to go up what turned out to be a private driveway, though there was no sign, and suddenly noticed someone behind me staring intently at me as if they thought I was staking the place out. So, queue pantomime ” I pulled out a map, held it up and made a show of comparing it to the road. Then I thought, “screw this” so I said “sumimasen, XXX wa doko desu ka?” to the person staring, and THEY PROMPTLY WALKED OFF WITHOUT A WORD!

            So rude, so negative, so anti communication. So much for Omote nashi Japan,.,,,

            Theatre of the Absurd indeed, making actors of us all.

            BTW, what is suspicious clothing??? Sunglasses= gangster? Or that old chestnut, “beard = bad man? I do recall being called “Russian Mafia” for wearing a leather jacket in a hostess bar once, but I presume that was a joke.

          • Yeah, in English essay recitation competitions a really common topic is Dr.M.L. King’s “I have a dream” speech. But no one ever ever ever links it back to Japanese discrimination against burakumin or others like that. It does not compute.

          • Yeah, “suspicious” fashion choices sounds bad, but there isn’t a good way to put it. The whole state of affairs is just so absurd.

            I have a J friend who wears bell bottoms and has curly long hair. He gets stopped as well.

            Also, I can’t find the tweet now, but there was this J guy reporting getting stopped. When he asked why he was getting his bag checked, they told him it was “because he looks like he’s in a band”. Like that’s what makes someone a threat.

            A shacho in a suit, on the other hand, who doesn’t pay his workers overtime, effectively stealing their wages, enriching himself from the suffering of others, will be treated with respect.

  • It does happen to Japanese too. I remember the case of a Japanese man who had dreadlocks getting stopped.

    I bet the embassy is thinking of African-Americans getting stopped.
    It has happened in Machida (west Tokyo), where my friend was questioned. He was shopping, nothing else.

  • When I talked to locals about getting randomly stopped by police, it’s been pointed out to me that it happens EVEN to Japanese people

    Not to discredit your post, but it does happen to Japanese, especially in Shibuya. I saw it done several times. They were scoping out and finding a target, then went through the empty the pockets routine on dude. Agreed, they will target foregners also, but Japanese, if dressed like a freeta or other non conformist, will get it as well.

    Japan is a kind of “is but isnt” anomaly; you really cant pin something down using hard logic or comparisons. Discrimination, xenophobia, neo fascism, etc are all rampant, but each individuals experience will be different…but the same.

    It can be a very personal experience, because others will deny it happens, others will defend or apologize for it, others will just disqualify it as just collateral for living in such a “wonderful” place, and some will get very real about some of their experiences. But there seems to be a common theme about their experience.

    I dont really look for confirmation from anyone, I know what it is when I see it.

  • I wonder if they will ever make mandatory for a japanese to have and carry an ID card to display at request of the police, like in other Countries in the world.

    — They’ve come up with a universal ID card, but public display of such is still legally contingent upon suspicion of a crime. It’s to “protect their privacy”. Not so for foreigners. NJ must display at all times, any time, upon request of a police officer. You can (and should) ask for ID back. But by design NJ are unequal before the law.

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