UK now considering introducing Gaijin Cards

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.  Here’s another brick in the wall, alas.  The UK is also proposing the introduction of Gaijin Cards.  Just when you thought you could point to other countries and say, “Look, they don’t do something like this, so let’s not do it here,” they go ahead and do it too.  Sigh.  

It’s not absolutely the same system at this point — not all foreigners have to get this card.  Yet.  But I like how the counterarguments to the scheme are similar to ones I’ve made in the past — about how guinea-pigging a segment of the population is the thin edge of the wedge to introducing the scheme for everyone.  And no mention as yet in this article as to whether it’ll be a criminal offense, warranting arrest and interrogation after instant street spot checks, if you are not carrying the card on your person 24-7.  Meanwhile, let’s wait and see what Japan does with its long-announced intention to Gaijin Chip all NJ with new improved RFID.  In the club of developed countries, I don’t think Japan will be outdone in its policing of its foreigners.

Two more links of interest related to this topic.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Foreign national ID card unveiled

UK ID card from pilot scheme 

ID cards for British nationals will begin to be introduced next year

The first identity cards from the government’s controversial national scheme are due to be revealed.

BBC News.  Page last updated at 07:14 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 08:14 UK

The biometric card will be issued from November, initially to non-EU students and marriage visa holders.

The design – containing a picture and digitally-stored fingerprints – is a precursor to the proposed national identity card scheme.

Critics say the roll-out to some immigrants is a “softening up” exercise to win over a sceptical general public.

The card, to be unveiled by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, will also include information on holders’ immigration status.


Students and marriage applicants first
Others to follow over coming decade
50,000 cards by next April
Costs £311m to 2018
Visa charges to cover costs

The Border and Immigration Agency will begin issuing the biometric cards to the two categories of foreign nationals who officials say are most at risk of abusing immigration rules – students and those on a marriage or civil partnership visa.

Both types of migrants will be told they must have the new card when they ask to extend their stay in the country.

The cards partly replace a paper-based system of immigration stamps – but will now include the individual’s name and picture, their nationality, immigration status and two fingerprints.

Immigration officials will store the details centrally and, in time, they are expected to be merged into the proposed national identity register.


 The Home Office is trying to salami slice the population to get this scheme going in any way they can 
Phil Booth, No2ID

The card cannot be issued to people from most parts of Europe because they have the right to move freely in and out of the UK.

Ministers say the cards will combat illegal immigration and working because officials, employers and educational establishments will be able to check a migrant’s entitlements more easily.

The Conservatives say they support modern biometric cards for immigrants – but they say a national identity register remains unworkable.

Phil Booth, head of the national No2ID campaign group, attacked the roll-out of the cards as a “softening-up exercise”.

“The Home Office is trying to salami slice the population to get this scheme going in any way they can,” Mr Booth told the BBC.

“Once they get some people to take the card it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

“The volume of foreign nationals involved is minuscule so it won’t do anything to tackle illegal immigration.

“They’ve basically picked on a group of people who have no possibility of objecting to the card – they either comply or they are out.”


10 comments on “UK now considering introducing Gaijin Cards

  • I’m from the UK but have been carrying around my Japanese card for some time. Yes, I find the whole idea of my own country bringing in ID cards appalling, though there are some differences from the Japanese system: the long-term UK aim from the outset has been for everyone to have these things, not just foreigners, but it apparently won’t be compulsory to carry the card (see ). The police actually have no power to stop people and demand to see the card (yet). Holders also have to pay for the card (30 GBP, or about 6000 yen).

    The big civil liberties issue is really with how the data is centrally stored: who gets access to it, whether it gets lost or stolen, and how the government may use it to keep tabs on people. There have been a lot of cases of UK data going astray recently.

    It seems that the UK system is far more closely tied to a claim that it will tackle benefit fraud than anything else. Further laws would be required to make it compulsory for everyone.

  • Don’t worry; all other political parties are opposed to this, and the incumbent Labour Party is deeply unpopular (not least because of these moves), so when the UK General Election rolls around in 18 months’ time, the cards will be scrapped.

  • Note the name “identity card”. In the UK, this is just the first step of rolling out identity cards for the whole population. So in a way it is different than the alien registration cards in Japan aimed only at foreign nationals.

  • Seeing the little photo up above of the proposed UK identity card was like receiving a kick up the arse. How would I feel (I’m a British citizen) if I had a foreign spouse, they lived in England, and had to carry this card around with them? I’d feel angry at such discrimination – treating someone like a second-class citizen. In fact, I doubt if I would want my spouse to live in such a discriminatory country. But, hang on, that’s exactly the way I’m treated over here….

  • The UK cards don’t have to be carried 24/7, nor do they contain compromising personal info (just name, nationality and visa status.)

    It’s these very two aspects of the Japanese alien card that I object to. Otherwise, it would be a very useful document.

  • Yep, this is coming in and even permanent resident’s such as my wife will need them by April. They take all your finger prints. It is absolutely disgusting. In addition it is no secret that this is a trial run and the intention is to roll it out to the whole population. ID cards are not popular in the UK, so the government has gone for a group which they believe will be a soft target and that few will stand up for. The current labour governement have clearly spent the last 11 years pushing the UK towards a police state and wasting vast amounts of money doing so. I have written to my MP, but some chance this will achieve anything. The UK has gone from being one of the freest countries in the world to one of the most watched police states in the world; the police are useless and corrupt, the court system no longer works unless you have your own money, the health service is utter crap and education needs to be re-named government brainwashing and drilling for tests. And before some quizling writes back with some stupid remark such as “if you don’t like it why don’t you leave?” – Don’t worry I soon will, the way the Uk is now, makes Japan look like a democratic utopia – 10 Years ago I never though I would be saying that.

    Sorry for the rant, but this ID card things is quite frankly the last straw. I just hope Japan stands its ground and doesn’t follow the UK and US.

  • >I just hope Japan stands its ground and doesn’t follow the UK and US.

    Er, are you referring to ID cards for foreigners, which have been compulsory in Japan for over 50 years, and which one must carry 24/7 or risk arrest?

  • Hi DC,

    No, I wasn’t I’ve had my own share of coping with those, although I managed to be resident between the two periods when finger prints were required.

    What I am hoping however, as someone fairly likely to emigrate to Japan in the future is that Japan will draw a line in other areas, such as ID cards for the general population and other types of surveillance, because right now the UK is racing towards a 1984 scenario.

    The UK is also handing over vast power to religious groups, especially Christian and Islamic groups, which is quite unbelievable as aside from Japan, the UK has one of the lowest levels of religious belief in the developed world.

  • A Man In Japan says:

    I just wanna know what happens to you if you don’t have any fingerprints? Are you not allowed to enter the UK, or what? I am from, what I call, the forgotten part of the UK; and these ideas of cards just because you come from outside of the country is racist. So, I was wondering just what the hell happens if you magically don’t have any fingerprints for them to rob off you?

  • ID cards plan in crisis as the ‘guinea pigs’ revolt

    Plans to build support for identity cards by introducing them among ‘guinea pig’ groups, such as airport staff and students, are in crisis after 10,000 airline pilots vowed to take legal action to block them and opposition swept through Britain’s universities and councils.

    In a move that could wreck the government’s strategy for a phased introduction beginning next year, the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) said it would seek a judicial review rather than see its members forced to adopt ID cards at a time when pilots are already exhaustively vetted.

    Balpa’s vehement opposition is a hammer blow for the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, who had hoped to win the wider public over to ID cards by demonstrating that they were crucial to anti-terrorism policies… (click on link for rest of article)

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