Aly Rustom on how he got out of a Gaijin Card Check by J-cops


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 Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito,
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

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


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?”
“No (DAME)”
“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.”
“No. Why?”
“I want to complain about you,” I said.
“To whom?”
“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.


99 comments on “Aly Rustom on how he got out of a Gaijin Card Check by J-cops

Comment navigation

  • I suppose that the best way to insist that they present their ID before you is to suggest that there have been cases of people presenting themselves as police officers in order to steal passports and ID cards. “I’m just going to take a photo for OUR own safety.”

  • Kakui Kujira says:

    He stopped you because you are non-Japanese, but that’s not racist? Well, I see the police have paying attention in the DoubleThink classes…

  • like seriously, what is the big friggin deal with showing ID to police? [incorrect data deleted]. Unfortunately racial profiling is the norm here and unless immigration picks up, which seems highly unlikely, and we start seeing a melting pot of cultures this is going to continue to happen.

    In any event, maybe the police should invest time in sensitivity training.

    which brings up another point, for all you japanese that don’t “look” japanese, since you don’t need to carry the alien card or a passport what happens if the police stop you? how do you ‘prove’ you are indeed japanese?

  • Seems to have gone to a lot of trouble over nothing. I would have just shown it to him, why not?

    The policeman was only doing his job, agreed with a little racial profiling.

    Seems silly to me.

  • I was at Narita on Saturday, waiting three hours for my GF to be refused entry into Japan, but thats another story. While I was there near the arrivals gate (A and B) I saw two cops going up to several Caucasians waiting nearby and asking them something. They had a clipboard. I dont know what they were asking, perhaps to show ID or a passport like was going on in the station as blogged here previously, but it was definitely racial profiling as they only asked foreign, non Asian people.

    Nb. I deliberately sat in a crown of people and got out my phone whenever I saw them, maybe they didnt bother with me, plus I was wearing a suit and tie, but this is pure speculation on my part as to why they didnt come up to me.

  • I don’t recommend such a confrontational approach. Like it or not, the police have enforcement authority over immigration regulations and they can ask you for verification that you are in the country legally at their discretion. You don’t have the same civil rights here that you may in the U.S. or elsewhere, and racial profiling is not illegal here.

    I’m not saying that such practices are not unjust, it’s simply important to remember that a confrontational approach in this culture is more likely to be counterproductive than it is to achieve the result you want. In your case, the policeman in question relented, but he could just as easily have detained you for several hours if not days. It was risky. If you’re here legally and you have the proper ID, it’s better to be cooperative than confrontational. If you feel the police were inappropriate, contact a legal assistance group to help you in filing a formal complaint.

    I would add, however, that if the person asking for your ID is not a uniformed officer, ask to see theirs first. There is no shortage of crackpots in this country, either.

  • Bravo! Thanks for making a stand.
    Trying to take a photo of the policeman’s ID is an interesting idea. My understanding of the law (which Debito has posted somewhere on this site) is that they are required to SHOW their ID, not to have it photocopied or photographed. But in this case it sounds like just the attempt to take a photo maybe helped to make the policeman back down. Anybody have an opinion on this?

  • He was lucky that he did not get arrested, jailed and, as a consequence, deported for refusing to show his ID. I hope no one will follow what he did. The law is very clear that a police officer can ask a foreign national to show an alien registration card with no reason and that the foreign national must show it upon request.

    Alien Registration Act
    Article 13
    (2) The alien shall present his/her registration certificate to the immigration inspector, immigration control officer (meaning the immigration control officer provided for in the Immigration Control Act), police official, maritime safety official or any other official of a state or local public entity prescribed by the Ministry of Justice Ordinance, if such official requests the presentation of the registration certificate in the performance of his/her duties.

    I know Debito argues that “in the performance of his/her duties” should be interpreted as “if there is reasonable doubt”. But it only means, “while he/she is on duty.”

    The criminal penalty for refusing to show gaijin card is one year in prison.

    Article 18 Any person who comes under any one of the following items shall be punished by imprisonment with or without work for a period not exceeding 1 year or be punished with a fine not exceeding 200,000 yen:
    (vii) Any person who, in violation of the provision of Article 13, paragraph (2), refuses to present the registration certificate;

    Debito, I hope you are using pseudonym for him, or there are chances that he get arrested, this blog being an evidence.

    Also, there are risks on you, if a reader does the same thing.
    “Penal Code
    Article 61 (1) A person who induces another to commit a crime shall be dealt with in sentencing as a principal.”

    — You really are delusional, HO. There is no arresting offense anywhere here. Take a valium and find something different to do with your day than using a magnifying glass and scratching your long, long pinky nail on your dogeared law books.

  • This raises an interesting new facet to the tit-for-tat of the ID showing game: if the cop will only let you momentarily see his ID but will not let you take down his information, are you obligated to do anything more than simply show your ID for a second (as in the case above)? I’m curious as to the legal specifics of this; I have a hard time believing that a cop can legally refuse to allow his name and number be taken down while doing the same to the foreigner he is stopping.

  • This is a heartening story to hear. I have never been profiled like this or accosted by the police, but I know many people do without much recourse, and it’s good to hear that the word is getting out and people are protecting their rights. I am not too sure from Aly’s comments about Debito’s influence on his methods, but I think Debito’s work on this issue has greatly influenced our perception of our treatment in Japan and improved our lives here. So, thank you to Aly for standing up for your (and our collective) rights, and thank you to Debito for providing a resource we can use to take initiative and do as Aly did.

  • You did not have a legal leg upon which to stand. But good for you anyway. The law does not say they are required to allow you to write down the details on their badge. It does say that you must show if asked, and they must do the same if you request.

  • Sounds like exchange got a bit heated. I’m not sure anyone would be so bold. Not a good thing when you’re dealing with someone who can deport you without reason. I believe after reading this the cop really only wanted to check the ID and nothing more and didn’t even think it was racism just an arrogant foreigner.

    But all in all I think it got the point across, arrogant or not. Good job.

    In an after thought how does someone pick their battles and fight only true instances of racism without labeling someone who isn’t a racist accidentally? Without coming across as arrogant. I guess there has to be a line drawn in the sand somewhere.

    And we all have to pick a side.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    Aly, GOOD FOR YOU!

    The only time an out-of-uniform cop ever tried to stop me on the street was also in Ueno, which is one reason why I try to avoid going there now. In my case, he claimed that the pedestrian crossing light had turned red while I was crossing, and he wanted to check my bicycle and for me to accompany him to the koban. I said I might do that if he had a badge and uniform on, and demanded to see them. He first tried to pawn off his 警ら (警邏 keira, patrol) armband as a badge, and I insisted on the real one. He finally pulled it out, and when I read his name from it (printed in Roman letters; why is this? A small child wouldn’t be able to read it), he gave up and I was on my way.

    Non-uniformed cops shouldn’t be even speaking to non-suspicious people, ever. How can they justify that? If it became normal for cops out of uniform to do things like this, someday we’d get scammers and criminals claiming to be police, stopping people, and stealing their ID (or worse).

    I’m curious — do patrol cars have cameras equipped on them? If a patrol car stops you, you could try justifying your own photo by reminding them that they’re filming you without your permission, so surely you can film them!

  • Awesome! Bravo Aly! I hope more people will stand up to the police the way you did. I try to avoid dealing with them when I know they are following me, even though I would like to give them a piece of my mind. But if I am stopped, I will do my best, using the advice from this site. I want to them to understand how it feels to be treated differently, as a potential criminal, just because we’re not Japanese.

  • I say well done, but my cynical side says that for some people passing you will have fitted the stereotype put out of the noisy disruptive gaijin!

    — Oh well. The cop started it.

  • Good cop, bad cop
    Sounds like that guy was a bad apple. You should ring up and make a complaint. I had a run in with a cop on a bicycle over a card check earlier this year. He wasn’t really a bad guy but I was pissed off after having my bag searched previously (these searches were being done on Japanese too) so I told this guy I was thinking of suing the police for an illegal search. He started to shit in his shoes and came up with a bunch of lame excuses for what the police were doing. He got even more defensive when I suggested racism and when I asked if he had a quota to fill he flatly denied it. With all the questions he must have thought I was a reporter or something. Anyway he showed me his ID and I memorized his name but I didn’t make a complaint in the end. He wasn’t a bad guy and was obviously just following orders.
    Coming from New Zealand, I never had to deal with police at all until I came here so it pisses me off. But from what I here it’s a different story in the US/England and even Oz. I guess it depends where you live in the country too. In Kumamoto I never saw any police, but Tokyo is a different story.

  • I would agree that it was racism, if cops only went after foreigners.
    But that’s not the case.
    Here an ordinary Japanese citizen is being interrogated (called “shokushu shitsumon”) by the police. How can you call it racism when they do it to everyone else?
    Racism implies that they specifically target foreigners, which is certainly not the case.

    — Er, you been reading much? I’ve presented plenty of evidence over the years, including G8 Summitry two summers ago, which supports the assertion that the NPA engages in racial profiling.

  • Wonder if this plainclothes cop was really a police officer?

    I’m still not entirely clear on this issue, but from some incidents and documentaries (the ones about the Aum cult, the J cops’ tactics are so underhanded you can find yourself rooting for the cultists, though at least they’re actually going after actual crimnals) with J cops in action, there seems to be some kind of group of middle aged men, seemingly the types who probably have a well-thumbed copy of the infamous “Gaijin Hanzai File” mook at home, who go around engaging in policing activites while a real uniformed cop is nearby waiting to help them out if someone objects to being stopped by a random plainclothes dude who could just be lying about being a cop. Especially since they seem to tend to have an attitude problem (being deliberately provocative) that “real” cops don’t seem to have, in my experience with uniformed J cops.

    What’s the deal with this? Are they actually cops? Retired cops? Wannabe cops?
    Are they some kind of legal buffer that gives real cops “probable cause” without them initiating contact, per se?
    I’m just speculating, but seriously, what’s the deal?

    Anyay, bravo on standing up for basic rights!
    Not allowing someone to take a note of the “cop”‘s name is surely not in line with the law requiring they identify themselves. Can they actually physcially restrain you from writing their names down?
    Wonder how they would have reacted to a voice recording. Most keitai can do it these days.
    (And everyone should take the time to figure out how to use that feature, can come in handy!)

    — Need a source for the “there seems to be some kind of group” in second paragraph above.

  • Congrats man… more pain in the ass like you will make them reconsider their behaviour eventually

  • I salute you and your determination for not showing your card. One can hope that in teaching one cop his action are racist it will hopefully influence his future dealing with foreigners.

    One a side note: Why when non-Asian foreigners are the smallest minority they are associated with the most amount of crimes? I have even asked Japanese people when they read foreigner in the newspaper what kind of foreigner do they think of. The reply that I received was that they think of non-Japanese looking foreigners, which pretty much excludes Chinese, and Korean foreigners. Racial profiling is vastly out of control in Japan, and maybe by calling enough Japanese racists we might hope to see a change in the future.

  • That racist cop sounds to me to still have been quite mellow compared to what we see in the US or Canada… had this happened over here I would have expected the cop to pull out his taser or something

    When I’m in Japan I always show my ID when cops ask because I’m just to scared to do anything. After the horrible experiences I’ve had in America I would never dream of talking back to a cop or saying no to a request, regardless of what rights I have

  • Just to add that you can also make a complaint regarding discrimination to the human rights division (jinken something or other; the official name escapes me) in the local office of legal affairs (法務部; for example, in the prefecture offices). I don’t know what good it will do, but it is one way to lodge an official complaint about racial profiling. The more complaints go through official channels, the better a chance there is to actually change this behavior.

    — It’s the Jinken Yougobu. And lodging a complaint with them won’t do a damn bit of good. I know because I’ve tried, after an incident of racial profiling by police at Chitose Airport in 2002. Months and months of negotiating later, the Jinken Yougobu did essentially nothing. Read that writeup here.

  • Softbanksucks Says: “You did not have a legal leg upon which to stand. But good for you anyway. The law does not say they are required to allow you to write down the details on their badge. It does say that you must show if asked, and they must do the same if you request.”
    But if you dont write down the info and confirm it, recieving a showing of one second or so doesnt really matter does it? This is why the cop complained that he couldnt confirm anything. By your arguement, the cops should also have no leg to stand on when they request more than a one second veiwing, so I can just make my next card with photoshop and never have to go to immigration again because we can all just waive something around in the air without letting anyone right anything down. Right?
    Aly was spot on in his reaction. Kudos to him…

  • debito,

    No source other than having watched the documentaries “A” and “A2” about the Aum cult (highly recommended)

    Perhaps as Mark in Yayoi noted, it’s these “警ら (警邏 keira, patrol)” people?
    What is their affiliation with the actual police? Or are they actual police?
    Are they some sort of deputy? civil servant? or just a glorified, self-appointed neighborhood watch?
    Do they have law enforcement rights? Or just the right to report
    you to the actual police, with a high likelihood the police will actually respond?
    Which boils down to, “Am I legally obligated to show my ID to one of these people? Exactly which quasi-official persons am I obligated to present ID to? And which quasi-official persons will be able to just call in a rapid response from actual cops, resulting in me needing to show my ID anyway?”

    I ask the questions because I hope someone one the board actually has some knowledge of this stuff. I’ll start checking up on 警邏 myself.

    — Thanks.

  • Important point- he DID show his ID to the police, so he did not “refuse” to show it. Do not go all confrontational and completely refuse to show it, as that is illegal. I think it’s an interesting idea take a photo of or make mental note of racist cops’ ID badges for blogging- perhaps they can get sent to bumblefuck nowhere Japan where they will only have to worry about invading foreign wildlife once their racism is exposed.

  • >There is no arresting offense anywhere here.

    Refusing to show a gaijin card itself is a crime. Since the “crime” takes place in front of a police officer, he can arrest the foreigner without a warrant.

    Some people learn the lessons in a hard way, which could be avoided.

    — I hear the scratching of a long, long pinky nail.

  • Well done, Aly!

    @johnholmes (post 5). I saw the same thing at Roppongi station recently during a weekday morning. I can’t remember which ticket gate it was, but there was a plain clothes police officer standing next to the nearby area map/info board who was occasionally flashing his badge at NJ (looked mainly like tourists from other Asian countries to me, but that is speculation on my part) when they went up to the map. He then asked them questions.

  • Steve VonMaas says:

    It was reasonable for the officer to refuse to allow you to photograph his identification. Even in the United States, most police departments require their officers to prevent photocopying or photographing their identification cards, so as to avoid facilitating forgery of the IDs.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    HO, please stop posting long blocks of law text as if your interpretation of it is the correct one, and that there’s nothing to then argue about.

    Some of us have actually consulted with veteran police officers about these issues, and the obligations of each party in these arbitrary stoppages aren’t clear-cut at all. (You’ll hear グレーゾーンgray zone repeatedly.)

    The most important legal point to consider is the meaning of “if … in the course of [the officer’s] duties” (職務執行に当たり). I’m sure that for the young trainee cop, his “duties” are whatever his boss assigns to him, and if that includes harassing innocent, non-suspicious people (i. e. people who aren’t 不審 fushin) based on their skin color, then he considers that to be his job, and that’s that.

    But can a policeman extend his duties, or those of the people under him, to forcibly stopping non-fushinsha?

    Or can skin color be used, all by itself, to categorize a person as fushin?

    Aly did something I’ve never managed to have the guts to do: he refused a card check after admitting that he was foreign. I’ve refused to tell them whether I’m foreign or not — they’ve tried to follow up a bicycle check with more questions, and I’ve insisted that with my bicycle details in order, I’m not suspicious, so Im’ not answering any more questions — but Aly added an important step, which is to question whether or not police “duties” include questioning someone whose only grounds to be considered suspicious is the possession of a different nationality.

    To my knowledge this hasn’t been tested in court. Aly set a very valuable precedent on this occasion.

  • HO,

    what are you talking about?

    are you honestly threatening debito with arrest if he doesnt take this down?

    also,person in question showed his id so i dont see what you are talking about.

    I think you are still smarting from the time you denied foreigners could ever be subjected to a urine test in the street for no reason and it turned out to be true.

  • There has been some speculation about the ojisans who “help” the police; I think they are a deputized neighbourhood watch or citizen’s volunteers. During the G8 summit in Hokkaido last year, they were everywhere in Tokyo (d’oh), literally on every street corner near the gaijin house I used to live in. I started to get quite paranoid and imagine that we were under surveillance.

    Of course, the subsequent police “check” of the names of the (foreign) people living in the building at this time was pure coincidence, I m sure!

    Why? Because they can. Perhaps there was some directive from city hall to be on the look out for potential dodgy foreigners during the G8, but again, I m just speculating.


    — There was indeed a directive. Quoting myself from my Japan Times article, April 22, 2008, entitled “Summit Wicked This Way Comes”:

    According to the Yomiuri (April 14), the police are deputizing about 3000 amateur “local residents” and “neighborhood associations” in Ikebukuro and Shinjuku, to “watch for suspicious people” around “stations and important facilities”. That now widens the security radius [of the G8 Summit in Hokkaido] to 800 kilometers!

    Source: Yomiuri News podcast April 14, 2008, from minute 13

  • Mark in Yayoi, I knew where you got things wrong. The fact that a policeman checks your ID does not mean you look suspicious in his eyes. You make an assumption that you look suspicious in his eyes and get angry by your own assumption. The law gives the police the power to check IDs of foreign nationals whether suspicious or not, and they check the IDs as their duty.

    The section 2 of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act is “Conditions for Residence.” One of the conditions is to always carry an ID and to present it to the police on request. If someone does not keep the conditions, he is requested to leave.

    By the way, the translations are unofficial translation by the government of Japan, taken from here.

    Adamw, I am not threatening Debito, but warning. A wise man will listen to the warning and avoid unwanted results. I am not asking Debito to drop this entry. But I might suggest, with a little modification, he can avoid criminal and civil liabilities.

    Adamw, since it seems you still do not get a thing about the urine test, let me repeat. No one is forced to take a urine test, unless the police have a warrant. As the report showed, no one was “forced” to take a urine test in that case, either. You keep telling a wrong story that a foreigner is subjected to a urine test on the street for no reason. It is high time you should stop it, or people may misunderstand that they have no right to reject urine tests.

    — Skrit skrit.

  • He stole my idea! I have been taking, well trying to take, photos of the cop’s ids since they put cameras in cell phones. Always ends the same.

    cop: Can I see your gai-card?
    me: can I see your badge?
    cop: here
    I pull out my phone and turn on the camera
    me: I don’t have paper so I want to take a picture of your badge number and name.
    cop: WHY?!
    me: so I can report you.
    cop: WHY?!
    me: because you need a reason to stop me other than the fact that I am jot japanese
    cop: um…. err…… uh…. there was uh.. some suspicious activity near here this month.
    me: what kind of suspicious activity?
    cop: um…. never mind, you can go.

  • Kakui Kujira says:

    I can see why some people are suggesting that when asked by a police officer for ID, one should co-operate and do so. Given the lack of rights one has, this is certainly pragmatic.
    However, it is discrimination to be singled out by the police for questioning when no apparent crime has been committed simply on the basis of one’s nationality (perceived or actual). That is wrong.
    If we meekly accept it, it will never change.
    Personally, probably because I’ve had negative experiences with Japanese police, my choice is to ask for the police’s ID, write all the details I can in no great hurry, show my gaijin card, then cease to speak. If pressed, I keep a printed piece of paper explaining my legal right to silence in Japanese in the same plastic folder with my gaijin card.

  • mark,

    i think youve answered your own question ,and essentially underlined the basic problem.
    foreigners (or anyone looking so) are considered suspicious so police think this is perfectly within their rights.

    robs report is also dreadful-if correct,foreigners going up to an info board trying to find out answers to their questions abut where they are ,are themselves being subjected to questionning
    by plain clothese police.
    rather like the american OAP who went to the koban to ask for directions and got arrested

  • still struggling to understand HOs comments-the policeman himself said he couldnt force Aly to show his ID- indicating Aly was well within his rights ,and that more people should push back and ignore this racist bullying

  • “警ら” is just the Japanese word for patrol and is used by the 自動車警ら隊 who are just average cops on the beat.

    Asides from that looking at the NPA website( it would seem that in many areas there is a 自主防犯パトロール which is like a neighbourhood watch style of group that has at least one OB警察 or old boy policeman(unfortunately never an OG policwoman). Though these groups are usually wearing clothes with the English PATROL or katakana パトロール on them that identify them as a part of these groups(I have volunteered for my local one). Though these people do not claim to be actual police which is why they wear paraphernalia such as this↓↓↓

  • > You really are delusional, HO. There is no arresting offense anywhere here.

    Wait wait wait… As far as I can see, HO has made a clear case that this case could have you get arrested and locked up for a year or longer, unless I’m missing something here. Could you show us exactly how this is not an “arresting offense,” or that it could be interpreted as such?

    About my earlier post: I will admit that I was wrong. Yes, it is racial profiling. But let me just add that it’s not the ONLY profiling they do, and foreigners are not the only victims.

  • Oh wait… I get it. So he showed his ID, but only for a brief moment, thus he didn’t break the law. Sorry, made a big fool of myself…

  • I believe Mark In Yayoi is on the mark with “in the course of [the officer’s] duties” (職務執行に当たり).
    In fact there is a law that states with that officer’s duties are: the Act Concerning Execution of Duties of Police Officials (警察官職務執行法).
    That law states that a police officer can stop and question someone (職務質問) if the person’s actions present reasonable doubt that he or she is committing a crime.
    So, stopping a foreigner for being a foreigner (not doing anything suspicious) is not a duty of police officers.
    Thus refusing to show ID to a police officer acting outside of the course of his duties cannot be a crime.
    Sure, it may not stop the police from arresting you, but it certainly gives your something of a legal standing in court. The prosecutors would probably throw out the case as not being worth their time anyways (as often happens to people arrested simply for carrying an itty bitty pocket knife).

  • Erich, my “logic” is irrelevant. The law is (conveniently?) vague and specifes neither the manner nor the duration for which the officer’s ID must be shown. The officer fully complied with the law as written, so it is irrelevant whether or not our friend Aly got a good look.

  • What you did is right to fight back, but we should all understand they were trained to do what they did to you. Meaning what they were doing may be racist or insulting but the cops themselves don’t question or think of what they are doing. All they know is that they are just doing their job and getting paid. Even if they knew it was wrong they would have to do in fear of getting fired. So who we should really be fighting against if we ever want the problems to stop is not the against workers or each cop on the streets, we should be fighting against the leaders and the people in charge of it all. I’m talking about the ones sitting in their comfy chairs inside the high rise buildings giving out all the orders etc . It’s not just us who are labeled as “foreigners” who are being pushed around it’s everybody else in the country too. As long as these few individuals are pulling the strings.

    When the cops come I take out my card even before he asks with a sort of “get it over with already” sign. The cops want to get it over with too. All of us know it is a pain in the ass, but we only have to do this as long as the aristocrats make it so. We need to change that. Whats most important of all is that never admit to yourself that you are a foreigner. It is nothing but a status given to you at immigration, never let it become part of your identity. Always know that each and everyone of us is an individual.

  • And another thing for Adamw: What are you talking about that the cops can legally stop you for no reason for a urine test? I’m pretty sure if you search this blog, you will see this is not the case. Don’t spread FUD; it just confuses people who may come here for legitimate information.

    What would happen to you in the short term if you refused is debatable. Well, you’d likely spend some time in their 5-star accommodations. How long? Who knows. But the cops must prove in court that the had a reason for searching/testing you. I copied and pasted this from a comment on Japan Probe and can’t be bothered with translating it. It is not about a urine test, but about a Japanese person being arrested and in possession of marijuana. He got acquitted. Even after he hit a cop with his car (most likely grazed).

    毎日新聞 2009年7月22日

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    Mark in Yayoi, I knew where you got things wrong. The fact that a policeman checks your ID does not mean you look suspicious in his eyes. … The law gives the police the power to check IDs of foreign nationals whether suspicious or not, and they check the IDs as their duty.


    “putting the cart before the horse”, as the saying goes. The foreign national does indeed have to carry the card, but even if the policeman’s duties include stopping and demanding IDs from even non-suspicious foreign nationals, how can he establish the “foreignness” of someone he wants to question, without violating his own Execution of Duties Law?

    Foreignness isn’t something that can be determined by skin color or behavior. Unless the government succeeds in implementing RFID-scannable cards which will give away the holder’s nationality without any human interaction, the only way to get any information from someone is to ask them. And cooperation by the target is voluntary (任意).

    Once that question is answered, and the answer is “foreign”, then, as the law stands (assume your interpretation of ‘duties’ for now), the target will have to show the card if the cop demands it. But how does the cop force the target to answer any questions at all, including “are you a foreign national?”?

Comment navigation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>