Japan Times on May 24 2009 new IC Chip Gaijin Card protest


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Hi Blog. Got a call from friends Aly and Yumi yesterday, right after they attended the protest against the new proposed IC-Chipped Gaijin Cards, who told me the vibe was great and inspiring of future public action.

Here’s how it turned out in the Japan Times.  It was the most read article this morning. If you see any more articles, please feel free to include them in the Comments section below with text and links. Thanks. Debito in Sapporo


Opponents of change to immigration law fear loss of privacy, other human rights violations
The Japan Times Monday, May 25, 2009 (excerpt)

Staff writer

More than 200 people rallied in Tokyo’s Shinbashi district Sunday to protest government-sponsored immigration bills they claim would violate the privacy of foreign residents and strengthen government control over them.

The protesters say the proposed system would allow the government to punish non-Japanese who fail to properly report their personal information, and could even make it possible for immigration authorities to arbitrarily revoke their visas.

The bills now before the Diet “would jeopardize the residency right and right of life (for foreign residents). Therefore, we strongly oppose the bills,” said Nobuyuki Sato of Research-Action Institute for the Koreans in Japan, one of the organizers of the protest rally and a meeting on the proposed legal changes…

Rest of the article at


9 comments on “Japan Times on May 24 2009 new IC Chip Gaijin Card protest

  • The protest was for a good cause. However, as a realist, unless it makes the Japanese [language] news and stirs real debate with those who can actually do something about it, I fear it will have fallen on deaf ears.

    — Of course. But that’s Monday-morning Quarterbacking, and not something we could have seen the results of until now.

    We did what we could. Now let’s see if it catches fire. Fingers crossed.

  • Hi there, I found this article on Japan Today


    It was good fun, met nice people, and such a nice occasion to wear my special T-Shirt (although slightly off-topic)!


    Foreign residents rally against bills to revise immigration law
    Kyodo News/Japan Today
    Monday 25th May, 06:35 AM JST

    TOKYO —
    About 250 foreign residents in Japan and their supporters marched through downtown Tokyo on Sunday to protest against bills to revise the immigration law, claiming the revision is intended to tighten controls on them. The demonstrators shouted ‘‘no’’ to the immigration law reform, which is currently being deliberated in the Diet, as they took to the streets following a rally in the Shimbashi district. They accused lawmakers of not hearing their opinions and aired concerns that the revision could increase their burdens and violate their privacy.

    The immigration law revision, which has been discussed by the Judicial Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives since April 24, would abolish the alien registration card that local municipalities currently issue, and instead require the central government to issue a new residency card to foreigners who stay in Japan longer than three months.

    The move is aimed at unifying administrative work concerning foreigners into a single task undertaken by the central government, and stepping up measures against foreigners who stay in Japan illegally.

    At the rally, participants called for withdrawal of the proposed law revision in a joint statement, saying the amendment would enable authorities to impose criminal penalties or cancel visa status for foreigners who fail to provide notification of any change in their addresses or institutions to which they belong, such as companies and schools.

    They also oppose the law revision since personal information related to foreign residents—such as job status, Japanese language skills and tax payment records—will be gathered by the Justice Ministry in a centralized system.

    ‘‘Such a system of strict control ignores the reality of foreigners’ life and residence, and allows for arbitrary annulment or non-renewal of visas by the Ministry of Justice,’’ the rally participants said in the statement.

    Xu Cuizhen, a Chinese resident in Osaka, told the gathering, ‘‘I’m infuriated. The Japanese government will never stop regarding us as targets to ostracize,’’ adding that she wanted the bills to be scrapped.

    Monica Nakahodo, 46, a third-generation Japanese Peruvian from Yokohama who has been working at an auto parts maker for 20 years, asked, ‘‘Don’t you think it’s unreasonable for the Japanese government to bolster immigration control without hearing opinions of foreign residents and even letting them know about the law revision?’’

    ‘‘We must fight to change this discriminatory arrangement,’’ she said.

    The bills could be passed by the lower house later this week and be enacted into law during the current Diet session, political sources said.

  • By the way, I saw scores of video cameras, some of which looked pretty professional. Does anyone know about any video coverage?

  • I saw two plain-clothes cops right at the start of the march, one with an earphone and the other taking notes – presumably writing down the names of the organizations represented. I’d be surprised if there were not other plain-clothes police with still and video cameras along the route. There were at least two other photographers wearing “Press” badges, and a free-lancer doing interviews on video for a Brazilian Internet/TV station. I was one of the people interviewed at the end of the march, and I’m waiting for the promised link…

  • As a related addendum to the legitimate concerns about the RFID chip’s abilities, a case unfolding here in Spain had transcripts of cellular phone calls made between individuals charged in a murder/disposal case released (on TV) today. If the phone voice transmissions can be retroactively deciphered, from the evening of January 24 2009, to reveal their exact content, and if RFID chips are even as remotely accessible by anyone with a reader, as we believe them to be, this is Big Brother on speed! (The reference is, as yet, not online. It was on the TVE Spanish language news at 1300h CEST. It refers to the Marta del Castillo case.) I can just imagine the NPA in Tokyo salivating at the kind of information they could drag up to justify their long held claim that they “only arrest and convict, (and conceivably hang,) the guilty people.” Even Orwell, I think, didn’t have this in mind! Scary stuff!

  • D.B.Cooper. says:

    The state is intrinsically vicious and violent and maintains its power by intimidation and the pursuit of absolute control. The only answer I can see to the problem of constant surveillance, amonst others, is the dissolution of the state. On a {for now} more practical solution to the card problem I suggest a campaign of disobedience. Refusal to carry the card or the constant ‘losing’ of them en masse would ratchet up the cost and hopefully bring the issue to the attention of the general public.
    I fear it will need more people than the admirable 200 who turned out on Sunday though and some serious coordination.

    Also http://noborders.org.uk/

  • Here’s a link to the Brazilian MTV report of the march. The video includes interviews with some of the marchers in English, Japanese, & Portuguese – scroll down under the text:

    — Great segment, urge everyone to watch this. Captain has some great interviews there too.

  • There should be some more press after this:


    Teranaka & Torii, “Revising the Immigration Control Act”
    Time: 2009 May 29 14:00 – 15:00

    Press Conference,
    Makoto Teranaka, Amnesty International Japan,
    Ippei Torii,Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan

    The speech and Q & A will be in English and Japanese with English Interpretation

    “Revising the Immigration Control Act”

    In the next couple of weeks, some of the biggest changes to Japanese immigration law for years could pass through parliament. Some of the changes, such as an end to the “gaijin card” and re-entry permits are welcomed, but others are attracting criticism.

    The government says it’s trying to make life simpler for foreigners but critics claim the Juki-net cards that would be issued to resident foreigners carry more personal information than those held by Japanese nationals and could enable the government to snoop on private lives. There is also concern that nullification of a visa is too strong a punishment should foreigners fail to notify changes of address within 3 months.

    On May 29, Makoto Teranaka and Ippei Torii will be at the club to talk through the changes and why they think some may run counter to protecting human rights and democracy.

    Please reserve in advance, still & TV cameras inclusive. Reservations and cancellations are not complete without confirmation.

    Professional Activities Committee

    Copyright 2006, The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.


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