Hi Blog. Quick missive from Aly Rustom a couple of days ago. This is how he dealt with a Gaijin Card Checkpoint in Ueno last week, apparently successfully. FYI. More here on what your rights are when the Police State Tendencies have you in their sights. And even more here if you think that he should have filed a complaint instead with the MOJ Bureau of Human Rights for this treatment: guess what — I’ve tried that, and they did nothing. Arudou Debito back in Sapporo
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE UENO TO WORK:
MY WAY OF DEALING WITH J-COPS’ GAIJIN CARD CHECKPOINTS
By Aly Rustom
Got stopped today (November 19, 2009) by a cop and was asked for my Gkjin card, and to make a long story short, I refused to show it, and they finally left me alone.
The strange thing was that I was in Ueno station walking to work. Just outside the Iriya gate. The whole conversation was in Japanese, but I will try relay this in English as best as I can.
I got stopped by a plain clothes cop whose name I got Kobayashi Keiichi or Kenichi. Anyway, he asked me for my passport, and I told him that I didn’t have it. I said that this is not an airport. He then told me to go to the Koban to which I replied, “I’m not going anywhere with you.” He then asked me if I have a gaijin card to which I said yes.
He said, “Show it to me”
“I want to confirm you are legal.”
“Why? I’ve done nothing wrong. I pay my taxes same as the Japanese. Why should I show it to you?”
I want to see it.
At this time a uniformed cop, also in his forties came running over. He was smiling and friendly. Unlike the idiot I was dealing with. I at first thought that this was going to get ugly, but I soon realized that he was trying to smooth the situation over.
“If you have a reason, I’ll not only show you my card, I’ll even show you my Japanese Driver’s License. But with no reason I refuse to show it to you.”
This went on back and forth. My anger clearly showing and his cold suspicious eyes never leaving me, with the uniformed cop trying hard to convince me kindly that it was the law.
I then asked to see his ID and he showed it with confidence. Pulled out my iphone and was about to take a picture of it when he snatched it away.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going to take a picture of your ID?”
“If not, then I will not show you mine”
“No. I showed you mine. You show me yours.”
I pulled mine out and just as he did very quickly showed it without giving it and put it back in my wallet.
“No,” he said. I can’t confirm anything like this”
“If you want to confirm I will take your ID picture.”
“I want to complain about you,” I said.
“To Debito Arudou”
They didn’t seem to know who our Debito was, and I explained that he was an activist and that I wanted this cop’s ID to pass on so I could blog it.
He refused but showed it to me again and stated his name, saying that it was sufficient. I said show it to me again, and he said no. you will not take a picture of it.
I said that was fine, but that I wanted to write down his number, but he refused. Fine. Then I will not show you mine.
What’s the problem?, He asked.
You are invading my privacy. I don’t want you to know my address. And this is racism.
Its not racism, he said.
It is. Because I am not Asian.
No. You are a foreigner. That’s why I want to see it.
That’s still racism.
This also went on back and forth. The interesting thing is that he really seemed upset by the fact that I was calling him a racist. He kept coming back to this issue and trying to convince me he wasn’t a racist, but I was not convinced.
At one point he asked me to just step away from the ticket gate and I refused. He said that we were in other people’s way and to be considerate of them, to which I replied, “Why aren’t YOU considerate of my feelings? Plus, YOU are the ones who stopped me, so its YOU who has made other people’s lives more difficult.”
“That’s why I said for us to just step to the side…”
“NO! I want people to see this. I want to show them your racism”
He continued to assert that it was not racism.
In the end, he said, “Ok. You can go. I asked to see your ID, and you refused. I can’t make you show it to me. You are free to go. Thank you anyway.”
For those of you who know me you know that I don’t back down and refused to just let it go, insisting that this is not a way to catch foreigners, not a way to treat foreigners. etc etc.. I wasn’t getting to him, but I sure gave him a piece of my mind. I wanted him to feel that stopping us is more trouble than it was worth.
The uniformed cop was friendly after the other idiot cop had gone, and he said that he goes to Australia once a year etc etc. He was kind and we stayed and had lots of small talk.
In retrospect, the fact that I was raising my voice and that I seemed to have no problem with the people around seeing and hearing the conversation seemed to bother the idiot cop tremendously. The fact that it was getting more and more obvious to people around that he had stopped me for my card seemed to embarrass him. And he REALLY was rankled by the fact that I wanted to take a picture of his ID.
To everyone reading this, I don’t know how much of a legal leg we have, but it seemed to work. You want to see my card, I’ll take a picture of yours. It seems to really scare them. Or at least just this guy, but he really was a tough looking guy who looked like he had stared down and beaten down every foreigner he had met into showing him their ID.
But not this foreigner.