New NJ policing Pt II: Zainichis also get cards, altho with relaxed conditions


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.  Next installment in the proposed new NJ policing regulations:  how the Zainichi (“Special Permanent Residents”, i.e. the generational foreigners in Japan, descendants of former citizens from Imperial colonies) get cut a few breaks, but still have to carry a card 24-7 or else.

Also mentioned below are how “medium- and long-term residents” (are we talking one-year visas, three-year visas, and/or Regular Permanent Residents?) are getting different (and improved) treatment as well.  Okay, but this system is now getting a bit hazy.  It’s about time to find the proposal ourselves in the original Japanese, and lay things out online clearly where there are no space constraints.  Eyes peeled, everyone.  Let us know here if you find it.  Thanks.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Plan for special permanent foreign residents in Japan to get different card

(Mainichi Japan) February 18, 2009  Courtesy of Jeff K.

Special permanent foreign residents in Japan will be obliged to carry a different resident status card instead of the current alien registration card, according to a Justice Ministry proposal.

The ministry has outlined its proposal on the amendment to the Immigration Control Law and related bills to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Judicial Affairs Division.

Under the proposed bills, cards for special permanent residents will be issued to about 430,000 Korean and other foreign residents in Japan, which they will be obliged to carry as their identification cards.

Re-entry procedures for such residents will be relaxed as much as possible under the proposed bills, such as by exempting them from the need to obtain re-entry permits if they have stayed abroad for two years or less. They will also be allowed to leave Japan for up to six years, instead of the current limit of four years.

In a related move, the government is planning to introduce a new registration system for medium and long-term foreign residents in Japan — in place of the current alien registration system — by providing them with resident status cards issued by immigration authorities.

Under the new scheme, information on medium and long-term foreign residents will be incorporated into a system similar to the resident registry system managed by each municipality. The limit for their stay in Japan will be extended from the current three years to up to five years, and their re-entry procedures will be relaxed.



在留管理制度:特別永住者、身分証携帯を義務付け 改正入管法案、法務省が提示

毎日新聞 2009年2月18日




毎日新聞 2009年2月18日 東京朝刊


13 comments on “New NJ policing Pt II: Zainichis also get cards, altho with relaxed conditions

  • I wonder what the punishment is for not carrying the card at all times.

    I can imagine (=speculate) deportation for the typical foreigner. However, for most special permanent residents, there is no where to deport them to: they were born in Japan often without citizenship elsewhere.

    — I don’t think it’ll be deportation if the snagged NJ is eventually able to produce a card. The visa is, after all, legal, and this should not void it. Probably incarceration, excuse me, questioning for quite a few hours and enough smoke blown in your face by cops to make you not want to repeat the experience.

  • Right now the penalty for not carrying an Alien Registration Card at all times is a fine of up to 2 million yen.

    Compare that to the penalty for not having your driving license on you while operating a motor vehicle (the only comparable thing I can think of that applies to Japanese citizens): 2,000 yen.

    I hope they change this for the new version.

  • i got caught speeding once on the expressway at 160kms
    didnt have my gaijin card didnt have my licence or passpor either(i know incredible)

    cops just asked my wife to drive and we went on our way
    dont know what would have happened if wife hadnt been there though

    btw,and not directly connected but they have the same law in the states-ive actually been stopped and told could be arrested for not having id as a foreigner there

  • Jake’s article above says, with my emphasis:

    > Foreign residents would have to report changes in their addresses and other personal data to the Justice Ministry, in some cases _via the mayor of their city_.

    The last part is what interests me. “via the mayor of their city” seems to suggest the ku/shiyakusho. If so, then that would certainly ease the process. They could certainly forward it on to immigrations on our behalves.

    While I do think this change is merely for more policing, I am certainly in favor of the extended 5-year visas. Just one or two of them and you’re eligible for PR.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    Sendaiben, I recall reading that the penalty was up to Y300,000, but also that (and this was provided by regular poster HO) such fines couldn’t be taken in cases where the violation of the law was inadvertent (i. e., there must be “mens rea”). This neatly explains why no international organizations call Japan out on the ludicrously high fine for not carrying a piece of paper, and also why the police will still get their pound of flesh by subjecting you to a few hours of “voluntary” questioning.

    I still think that forcing people to carry a physical object at all times is itself a violation of human rights, since the card, like one’s keys or wallet or bank card or anything else of importance, is going to be misplaced or forgotten once in a blue moon. That’s human nature. Nobody gets hopping mad about the law because for most people police stoppages and wallet-misplacements both happen infrequently enough that the odds of them both occurring at the same time are really rare. But with streetside stoppages on the increase, and the government’s desire to unofficially deputize all kinds of institutions, this “infraction” is going to be a problem.

    The cards also aren’t safe from the perspective of protecting your personal information. Everything needed for identity theft, all in one place — and you have to carry the original on your person!? I’m surprised muggers aren’t already making deals with overseas gangsters to steal identities.

    Japanese people place a very high value on kojin jouhou and personal privacy on many fronts — look at the TV personalities who keep their real names totally secret; the people who prevent Google Maps from showing their homes; even the frosted-glass windows seen in most houses built before the 1980s. Talk to a serious privacy advocate and show them what the police make us carry — they’re appalled at what’s on the alien card.

    Do any other countries require resident aliens to carry so much personal information with them at all times, with such steep penalties for not carrying it? The US, for example, expects green-card holders to carry theirs, but only immigration officers at border checkpoints can demand to see the cards, and arbitrary police questioning and detainment would have organizations like the ACLU up in arms. Great Britain is supposedly introducing ID cards for aliens, but they can be safely stored at home. How about other countries? Is Japan an outlier?

  • In terms of protecting privacy and personal identification, Japan has been identified by Privacy International (UK-based NGO) as among the worst countries in the world for decaying privacy protection and increasing surveillance. Despite the heightened valuation of privacy among citizens, the government’s plan to introduce these cards is yet another wedge for the government to start introducing the security state (and security theater) into ordinary people’s lives.

    Check out PI’s 2007 global report on privacy here:

  • I must have been in a time machine, because my Alien registration card, which I renewed in July 2008, carries the logo MOJ, and it came with an insert warning of the penalties involved for not timely registering changes of address etc. So, the bill being discussed by the politicians has apparently been implemented already to some extent. I did get my new card via the ku-yakusho, though. This shows that registration at the MOJ does not necessarily exclude administrative affairs from being conducted at the ku-yakusho.
    The problem I see with the MOJ being involved in registration is that it stigmatizes NJ as being related to crime. Registration should be the responsibility of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. I am not necessarily against registration of NJ at a central agency, though. One good point, which I remember reading half a year ago, but which is apparently forgotten in recent discussions, is that it will become easier to check that NJ kids will not be kept from school.

  • I also don’t have any problem with a central registry. Most countries have this for their citizens nowadays, whether they choose to call it that or not.

    In many East Coast states of the U.S., the division of motor vehicles is the de facto central registry.

    Plus, countries that take their social security systems seriously, and not like some Occupation Army afterthought that can just be ignored, issue their citizens a pension number that gets used all over the place.

    If you have to prove who you are in a foreign country, and they don’t want to trust the passport you’re carrying, how do you do it?

    So I think it’s fair to ask for some kind of registration.

    I agree with Debito, however, that the current process seems to invite privacy invasions and the insinuation of possible criminality.

    I do question what information gets collected and how it is used.

  • If the penalty for not carrying the ARC is one year in Japanese prison, do they let you update the card to show the prison address before you are sent in?

    I wonder if the POW’s during World War II were required to carry an Alien Registration Card? [sorry, over-the-top iyami deleted]

    — No. The Alien Registration Card system started in 1952, with the inauguration of the Gaitouhou.

  • Hey man, you don’t have to pay no 2 million yen fine if getting caught without your gaijin card.
    Just be cool and tell the cops it just got stolen and you were right on your way to the police to report the theft.

    Now, what could they possibly do in that case?

  • [quote]Under the new scheme, information on medium and long-term foreign residents will be incorporated into a system similar to the resident registry system managed by each municipality. The limit for their stay in Japan will be extended from the current three years to up to five years, and their re-entry procedures will be relaxed.[/quote]so instead of one and three year visas/resident permits they will be one and five years? I guess it’s better than nothing. Especially if you’re going through a divorce and looking for wife number two.


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