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  • GOJ claims victory in “halving overstayers” campaign, maintains myth that NJ fingerprinting did it

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on February 19th, 2009

    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. The GOJ has patted itself on the back for being about to reach its goal of halving the number of overstaying NJ by the target date of 2010.

    Congrats. But piggybacking on this cheer is the lie that fingerprinting NJ at the border helped do it.

    Wrong. As we’ve discussed here before, fingerprinting and collecting other biometric data at the border does not result in an instantaneous check. It takes time. In fact, the first day they raised a cheer for snagging NJ at the border, it was for passport issues, not prints. And they have never publicly offered stats separating those caught by documentation and those fingered by biometric data (nor have we stats for how many were netted before the fingerprinting program was launched, to see if there is really any difference). So we let guilt by associated data justify a program that targets NJ regardless of residency status and criminalizes them whenever they cross back into Japan. Bad social science, bad public policy, and now rotten interpretations of the data. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    =================================

    Number of foreigners overstaying visas in Japan nearly halves in 5 yrs

    Feb 16 2009, Associated Press. Courtesy of Japan Probe.
    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D96D065O1&show_article=1

    (AP) – TOKYO, Feb. 17 (Kyodo)—The number of foreign nationals who stayed in Japan after their visas expired nearly halved to around 113,000 from 219,000 in the five years to Jan. 1, according to a survey by the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau released Tuesday.

    The number of those who entered Japan illegally in the same period also fell, to around an estimated 15,000-23,000 from 30,000, the bureau said. The estimates are based on information given by foreign nationals caught by law-enforcement authorities, it said.

    In December 2003, the government came up with a plan to halve the number of people staying illegally in Japan in five years. The latest figures suggest the goal has more or less been achieved.

    The number of people overstaying their visas began rising sharply in the 1990s, peaking at around 300,000 in 1993. The number has gradually been declining since.

    The Immigration Bureau said it has stepped up its efforts, jointly with police, to crack down on those overstaying their visas — especially since 2004, when the government’s plan was put into effect.

    The introduction of a biometric system has helped immigration officials stem the re-entry of those who have been deported, the bureau said. In the year since it was introduced in November 2007, 846 people have been refused entry on the basis of biometric verification.

    By nationality, South Koreans topped the list of those staying longer than allowed as of Jan. 1 at around 24,000, followed 18,000 Chinese, 17,000 Filipinos, 6,000 Thais and 5,000 Taiwanese, according to the survey.

    ENDS

    =============================

    外国人の不法残留者11万人、5年で半減をほぼ達成
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/politics/news/20090217-OYT1T00300.htm

    法務省は17日、今年1月1日現在の外国人の不法残留者数は11万3072人で、前年より3万6713人(24・5%)減少したと発表した。

    政府が「不法滞在者5年半減計画」をスタートさせた2004年の不法残留者数(21万9418人)からの減少率は48・5%となり、同省は「目標はおおむね達成できた」としている。

    不法残留者の減少は1994年から16年連続。今回の減少率は前年(12・3%)の2倍近くに達した。法務省は「07年11月に導入した生体認証(バイオ)審査が奏功した」と分析している。国籍別では韓国の2万4198人(21・4%)が最も多く、中国1万8385人(16・3%)、フィリピン1万7287人(15・3%)と続いた。

    一方、08年に出入国管理・難民認定法違反として強制退去手続きとなった外国人は3万9382人。空港などの入国審査で日本への上陸を拒否された外国人は前年比31・0%減の7188人で、5年ぶりに1万人を下回った。

    (2009年2月17日10時43分 読売新聞)

    ENDS

    12 Responses to “GOJ claims victory in “halving overstayers” campaign, maintains myth that NJ fingerprinting did it”

    1. M-J Says:

      “The number of those who entered Japan illegally in the same period also fell, to around an estimated 15,000-23,000 from 30,000, the bureau said. The estimates are based on information given by foreign nationals caught by law-enforcement authorities, it said.”

      Obviously, captured foreign nationals are all experts on the number of people illegally entering the country. They probably give each other updates and consolidate data at the monthly Overstayer Pot-Luck Luncheon and Bake-Sale.

    2. Alexander Says:

      Clearly it is not the only factory.

      I would say things like cutting back on the entertainer visas plays a bigger role in this number. People coming to the country for that type of work are obviously not going to be happy with their working situations and run away from their jobs, thus becoming illegal.

      But don’t discount the fingerprinting system. Although as you say it doesn’t work instantly, it is most certainly a good deterrent. Although snakeheads armed with the right info will always be able to beat the system, I think the fingerprinting has probably acted as a deterrent for people with less resources.

    3. koan Says:

      Hi, based purely on the comment part of your post, we don’t know if the true number of overstayers has risen or fallen. So shouldn’t you be saying it’s a huge assumption rather than a myth ?

      All these figures are estimated, so let them be happy with their beliefs.
      It seems the biometric screening was only effective at stopping 0.3% of people re-entering: very effective!

      The only interesting bit would be how they implemented this “crackdown.”

      I’m a bit confused about the significance of the nationality of people who overstayed. Is it worse for a Korean to overstay than a Taiwanese, for example ?

      – Well, then read beyond my comment. As the article itself notes, the number of visa overstayers has fallen every year since 1993, see interim stats here courtesy Immigration. Long since before the “crackdown” or the biometric borders. Although police keep claiming that overstayers and foreign crime have been rising even when they’re not. To quote Kermit the Frog, “It’s a myth. A myth!” (Little girl: “Yeth?”)

      As for just letting them be happy with their beliefs, er, don’t you realize that these believers are creating and enforcing public policy? What they believe has a big impact on NJ in Japan.

      All other questions are good ones. Thanks for them.

    4. Frodis Says:

      How have the figures for people coming to Japan in the first place changed over the same period? If the number of people coming also decreased then one would expect a corresponding drop in the number of overstayers.

      Also, as the economy of Japan has steadily declined over the past decade or more, so too would the attractiveness of staying here — legally or not — for many. Potential overstayers no longer have a strong compelling reason to break the law in order to remain in Japan. Neighboring countries’ economies have been rising to meet Japan’s in recent years so staying at home in the first place, or at least a return home, might not be such a terrible thing.

      For the anitcrime figures to have played as central a role as is being painted here, wouldn’t the immigration/police have to be catching or stopping a greater number of overstayers/attempted illegal entrants as a result? Maybe the overstayers are also just getting better at not getting caught.

      I also agree with the above poster who mentioned the changes to the visas for the entertainment industry as having a potentially large impact.

    5. debito Says:

      WORD FROM THE MAINICHI. COURTESY OF BEN. DEBITO

      http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20090218p2a00m0na011000c.html

      The number of illegal foreign residents in Japan has decreased by
      nearly half over a five-year period from 2004, a government report has
      revealed.

      According to the report released by the Immigration Bureau of the
      Justice Ministry, about 130,000 foreigners were illegally living in
      Japan as of the beginning of this year, as compared with roughly
      250,000 in 2004. The current figure is close to the 1990 level before
      a sharp increase in illegal foreign residents occurred.

      “We largely succeeded in achieving our target,” said an official of
      the immigration bureau. In 2003, the government approved a plan to
      halve the number of illegal foreigners from Jan. 1, 2004, to Jan. 1
      this year, which calls for revisions to the immigration control system.

      Over the period, the number of foreigners who overstayed their visas
      dropped to 113,072 from 219,418, while the estimated number of those
      who illegally had entered Japan, including those who were smuggled by
      boat, has decreased from roughly 30,000 to between 15,000 and 23,000
      as of Jan. 1, 2009.

      On a nationality basis, South Korea came in top with 24,198 of those
      who were illegally staying in Japan as of the beginning of this year,
      followed by China at 18,385 and the Philippines at 17,287. Nearly 70
      percent of them had entered Japan on short-term visas and remained in
      the country. Some were working without proper visas.

      In 2003, the government decided to set stricter rules in order to
      reduce the number of foreigners illegally living in Japan following a
      surge in cases in which those without visas were working and some were
      involved in crimes. In November 2007, Japan implemented a new
      immigration control system under which all arriving foreigners must
      submit their fingerprints and be photographed.

      “The project has been working effectively,” said an Immigration Bureau
      official. After the launch of the crackdown, those who stay illegally
      in Japan tend to live in rural areas.

      The Justice Ministry will continue to take strict measures against
      those involved in illegal stays through false marriages and other methods.
      ENDS

    6. AWK Says:

      >In November 2007, Japan implemented a new
      immigration control system under which all arriving foreigners must
      submit their fingerprints and be photographed.

      “The project has been working effectively,”

      Communistic propaganda guys. So, they target us legal residents too in case we forget to renew our visas? How about us PR who also go through this system? I wish I was policy maker in EU HQ. First thing I would push would be to implicate seperate gate Nihonjin ONLY. They want to be special, so be it by doing the same what they do to us with more restriction like eye scans, passport scans and fingerprinting with pohot taken. Anyway BIG DREAM, but it will happen sooner ort later. EU passed the bill, but they are too late to make this happen now. Non-EU Citizens will go through special “scan gate”

    7. koan Says:

      “As the article itself notes, the number of visa overstayers has fallen every year since 1993, see interim stats here courtesy Immigration.”

      Oh, I see, you’re proving their new ropey stats wrong by comparing to their old ropey stats. I still don’t think it is strong enough evidence to say it’s a myth.

      “don’t you realize that these believers are creating and enforcing public policy?”

      Yes but it depends on the implementation; if all it means is they’ve got off their behinds to go knocking on doors at the last known addresses of people who are supposed to have left the country then I don’t have a problem with it. On the other hand, if they are doing 200% more checks for ARC then it’s a PITA.

      From the Mainichi article: “Nearly 70 percent of them had entered Japan on short-term visas and remained in the country. Some were working without proper visas.”

      So this means the majority of overstayers have no employment – how do they survive ?

      I trust that halving the number of criminal overstayers has halved all the other crime stats ? ;)

    8. M-J Says:

      If you don’t feel like using your real fingerprints, for less than $1 in materials you can just have some silicon fingerprint tape made. The Koreans do it and so can you. TBS did a story on it. Here’s the video:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAiKa7YgGdU

    9. Tony D Says:

      846 people…

      A quick google search for the cost of the fingerprinting system brought up this article-

      http://www.smh.com.au/travel/woman-fools-japans-airport-security-fingerprint-system-20090102-78rv.html

      4 billion yen+. That’s roughly 5 million yen per person. A bargain in anyone’s currency! I’ll take a dozen!!!

    10. Todd Says:

      Isn’t it possible that as the yen’s value rose compared to other world currencies in 2007 and 2008, working in Japan became less economically-attractive for visa overstayers than returning home or working in another country? I would suspect that if the financial gain or value of monies sent back home decreased enough, a lot of visa over-stayers would leave Japan. Until other likely theories are disproved, the gov’t. can’t crow about the success of fingerprinting NJ, because correlations does not equal causation.

    11. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      Todd, if the yen gained in value, wouldn’t *more* people want to stay in Japan, illegally if they had to, to earn valuable currency and convert it to less-valuable foreign currency? I think you’d see fewer economic migrants if the yen were to collapse in value rather than to increase. The declining number of jobs is probably more of a factor.

      I suspect that the government was well aware of the downward trend in overstayers before they implemented the fingerprinting scheme, and was counting on another low figure in the future so that they could attribute it to their “security”. Had the number of illegals increased, they would instead have pushed for even more intrusion and erosion of civil liberties.

    12. James Says:

      When I read the articles, I don’t read it as meant to say that the fingerprinting is responsible for the decline in visa overstaying. What I read is that that declined. And yes, they also say that fingerprinting was responsible for refusing entry of 846 people, to which they suggest that this helps stem the re-entry of those deported.

      Interestingly enough, they say that 846 people have been refused entry based on biometrics. They do not state how many of those were correct…

      We can, however, say something about the numbers. To understand this, it’s important to understand that these kinds of devices fail in two kinds of ways. They can either identify someone as a person they are not (also known as a false positive), or fail to identify someone as a person they are (false negative). Setting one affects the other, if you try to lower the number of false positives, then you increase the number of false negatives and vice versa.

      With fingerprint scanners, in tests it is common practice to set the devices so that the false positive rate is 1 in 10000. (see for instance NIST’s 2003 Fingerprint Vendor Technology Evaluation (http://fpvte.nist.gov/).

      Taking the year mentioned (November 1st, 2007 – October 31st, 2008, there have been a total of 8,647,575 (http://www.tourism.jp/english/statistics/inbound.php). Divide by 10,000, and you get a number of likely false positives of 864 (…).

      This doesn’t prove anything of course, but I find the figures too closely related to be more than a coincidence. There is only a gap of 18 people (2%) between the expected number of false alarms and the number of people deported based on fingerprint scans.

      Until I see evidence proving otherwise, I submit that the most likely explanation of the number deported is that the system merely succeeded in having 846 innocent people deported.

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