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  • Mainichi: Rwandan Refugee applicant jailed for weeks for not having photograph on GOJ-issued document

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on February 16th, 2010

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    Hi Blog.  Here’s a case of how the GOJ can be incredibly insensitive towards how the J cops police NJ:  Not issuing them documents properly just in case they get snagged for Gaijin Card checks.

    There was the threat of this sort of thing happening when a friend of mine accidentally overstayed his visa back in 2004, and after he went in, owned up, and was forgiven by Immigration, they issued no physical proof that his visa was now legal and could have been deported anyway had he not avoided Police Boxes for the following few weeks:

    //////////////////////////////////////////

    Visa villains
    Immigration law overdoes enforcement, penalties

    …A university professor, who has worked in Japan for more than a decade, discovered his visa was three weeks overdue. He went to Immigration to own up — which, until recently, would have resulted in a lot of bowing and a letter of apology. But this time, after being questioned, photographed, and fingerprinted, he was told that he was now a criminal, warranting an indefinite period of background investigation.

    Problem is, officials refused to issue any evidence that his visa was being processed. Outside Immigration, he was still as illegal as when he walked in. Their advice? “Stay out of trouble. And remember your case number.”

    Contrast that with how Japan processes other forms of identification, such as driver licenses. The government mails all bearers a reminder before expiry. During processing, you get a temporary license to keep you out of jug in case you get stopped by the cops.

    But if the professor gets snagged for a random Gaijin Card Check, he might just disappear. With detentions short on legal advice or contact with the outside world, what’s to stop another summary deportation?
    http://www.debito.org/japantimes062904.html
    //////////////////////////////////////

    Things haven’t changed.  Read on.  This negligence on the part of otherwise thorough policing in Japan is worse than ironic.  It should be unlawful — harassing, even incarcerating, otherwise law-abiding NJ just because they got zapped by racial profiling in the first place.  Arudou Debito in Edmonton

    //////////////////////////////////////////////

    Rwandan refugee held by prosecutors over visa status
    (Mainichi Japan) January 23, 2010, Courtesy of M&M

    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20100123p2a00m0na026000c.html

    NAGOYA — A Rwandan man seeking refugee status in Japan has been held in custody for over two weeks, on suspicion of violating the Immigration Control Law.

    The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and refugee relief organizations are requesting his release, police said.

    The 30-year-old was arrested on Jan. 7 for failing to present valid identification after stopped by local police in the Aichi Prefecture city of Kita-Nagoya, according to his lawyer. He was carrying a copy of the receipt for his refugee status application, but the document was deemed invalid without a photograph.

    On Jan. 13, the Nagoya District Public Prosecutors Office was informed by the Ministry of Justice that the man filed for refugee status with the Nagoya Regional Immigration Bureau in 2008. However, public prosecutors have decided to keep the man in custody until Jan. 28, and the local summary court has approved the decision.

    “We cannot comment on the matter as we are in the middle of an investigation,” said public prosecutors.

    The man, a member of the Tutsi ethnic minority from southern Rwanda, fled to Uganda in 1994 to escape persecution. He was 14 years old. He lost contact with his family and returned home in 2003. In April 2005, he arrived in Japan on a fake passport.

    After working in Aichi and Mie prefectures for a couple of years, the man applied for refugee status in November 2008. However, despite three interviews with immigration authorities he has yet to be granted refugee status. He also applied for a foreign resident certificate in Kanie, Aichi Prefecture, in October 2009, but the municipality says they cannot verify the applicant’s identity.

    According to the Foundation for the Welfare and Education of the Asian People’s Refugee Assistance Headquarters, foreigners who have been arrested for illegal overstaying or nonpossession of passport are often released if only their application for refugee status is confirmed.

    “It is unlawful that police and public prosecutors keep him in custody knowing his status,” said lawyer Naoya Kawaguchi.

    ENDS

    /////////////////////////////////

    愛知県警:難民申請中のルワンダ人男性逮捕…確認後も拘置
    毎日新聞 2010年1月23日
    http://mainichi.jp/flash/news/20100123k0000m040129000c.html

    愛知県警に出入国管理法違反(旅券等不携帯)容疑で7日に逮捕されたルワンダ人男性(30)が、難民認定申請中と確認された後も拘置され続けていることが22日分かった。男性から08年に申請を受けた名古屋入国管理局は、強制収容せず在宅で審査を続けていた。県警によると、国連難民高等弁務官事務所(UNHCR)や難民支援団体からは早期釈放を求める意見が寄せられているという。

    県警西枇杷島署や男性の代理人弁護士によると、男性は7日、愛知県北名古屋市の路上で警察官の職務質問を受け、旅券や外国人登録証を携帯していなかったことから署に任意同行された。

    男性は難民認定申請の受理を示す書類の写しを提示したが、書類に顔写真がなく本人確認ができないとして現行犯逮捕された。13日に法務省から男性が在宅で難民認定の審査中だとの情報提供を受けたが、地検はさらに10日間の拘置延長を求め、名古屋簡裁も認めた。拘置期限は28日で、男性は22日現在も同署に拘置されている。

    難民認定の申請書によると、男性はルワンダ南部出身のツチ族。ルワンダ内戦時にフツ族の迫害を受け、14歳だった94年に隣国のウガンダに逃れた。家族とは音信不通となり、03年の帰国後は支援者にかくまわれ、05年4月に支援者が用意した偽造旅券で来日した。

    愛知県や三重県で働き、08年11月に知人の勧めで難民認定を申請した。これまで3回入管の事情聴取を受けたが、結論は出ていない。09年10月には愛知県蟹江町に外国人登録を申請したが「本人確認ができない」との理由で判断は保留されている。

    アジア福祉教育財団難民事業本部によると、難民申請者は、旅券等不携帯や不法残留の容疑で逮捕されても申請中と確認されれば釈放される例が多いという。代理人の川口直也弁護士は「入管が在宅で審査中なのに、警察や検察が身柄拘束を続けるのは不当だ」と訴えている。

    名古屋地検は「捜査中なのでコメントは差し控えたい」、西枇杷島署は「拘置請求は地検の判断」としている。【秋山信一】

    ENDS

    29 Responses to “Mainichi: Rwandan Refugee applicant jailed for weeks for not having photograph on GOJ-issued document”

    1. Level3 Says:

      Name and shame.
      Do we get the names of the judge who approved this crap, and the prosecutors who are pursuing this?
      If not, why not?

      This issue is scary because EVERYONE who comes to Japan and applies for a “gaijin card” (ARC, or whatever they do/will call it), or gets their ARC replaced, is issued a flimsy piece of paper WITHOUT a photo that shows when you will get your proper card. During these 2-3 week periods, should all NJ avoid Nagoya? Or can we all be jailed anywhere if we get stopped by a cop and the local prosecutors office needs to meet a quota?
      I don’t even think there is a provision in the Immigration rules regarding the “you must carry your ARC at all times” for those periods when your ARC is being renewed or processed. The even more maddening part is that when you renew your card, they insist on keeping the old one even though it may not yet have expired, god knows why, while they turtle through the paperwork for weeks (similar insane rules regrading some visa procedures).
      [Thus, I assume that if they're still doing this silly policy, your safer course of action is to claim you "lost" your card when you need to get it renewed, so you can keep the legally required photo ARC while they make your new one.]

      This is the kind of bureaucratic insanity that needs much more exposure and affects all of us.

    2. Jeff Says:

      “EVERYONE who comes to Japan and applies for a “gaijin card” (ARC, or whatever they do/will call it), or gets their ARC replaced, is issued a flimsy piece of paper WITHOUT a photo that shows when you will get your proper card”

      The office issuing this paper (to me at least) said in leu of the card, it suffices for the same purpose. Our 行政書士 though that would be the case also. But, no. It wasn’t enough for some, but not all, of even the most simple things. Like renewing my Cell Phone contract. Rules left to the interpretation of others would create a big problem anywhere, and IMHO this is a big part of what makes Japan hard to navigate and as this article shows frankly even dangerous.

    3. Mumei Says:

      Level3,

      I agree, the situation is quite ridiculous. However, for most foreigners, this should not be an issue. When applying or renewing an ARC, a passport should suffice as appropriate identification. When renewing, I suppose one could make a personal photocopy of their existing card. Whether it helps or not is another matter, but it certainly should not hurt.

      What makes this case different is that the subject is a refugee. His only passport was fake, so it would not have helped him very much. This is an apparent flaw in the system since he was already properly applying for legal status.

    4. Jerry Says:

      “In April 2005, he arrived in Japan on a fake passport.”

      While I am sympathetic to his current situation he should be deported.

    5. iago Says:

      Getting somewhat tangent to the subject at hand, but when I recently renewed my ARC, the City Hall did not retain the old card until I had the new one in my hand. Another lack of consistency in how things are governed?

      Anyway, the story brought to mind this:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BO8EpfyCG2Y

      Anyway, what was the Rwandan gentleman’s status of residence after applying for refugee status? It seems the MOJ let him out and about, I wonder what the basis of that is? One would have thought the MOJ would have some kind of Photographic evidence on file, otherwise how can the ever be sure it’s the same guy if they ever decide to grant him an official status? Bureaucracy. The mind boggles.

    6. NCraig Says:

      @Jerry

      Whether or not he deserves to be deported in this case is ultimately dependent on the legitimacy of his request for refugee status. Fake passport or not, there are more than enough hypothetical situations to be thought of where deportation would be immoral at least. And this is a matter that all depends on facts that are not revealed within the above article.

      And on the subject of things not being included in articles, why is the last line from the Japanese original omitted in the English version?

    7. Jib Halyard Says:

      “While I am sympathetic to his current situation he should be deported.”

      not if he’s claiming refugee status. where would you deport someone with a fake passport TO, anyway? the place of his “fake” origin? that can only be determined after a duly constituted refugee hearing, and not by some guy with a stick at narita.
      your comment does not compute.

    8. Deepspacebeans Says:

      @Jerry:

      Perhaps it would have been some benefit to read the following paragraph: “After working in Aichi and Mie prefectures for a couple of years, the man applied for refugee status in November 2008. However, despite three interviews with immigration authorities he has yet to be granted refugee status.”

      He is being processed for refugee status. This gives him legal right to stay in the country until that application is processed. They state that he has yet to be granted status, but that is not the same as rejecting his application, in which case, he would be given a letter instructing him when and where to leave the country. In most “western” countries, though in Japan’s case, I have to admit a lack of knowledge, there are two application stages: one which verifies the applicants eligibility for consideration and then the hearings and processing of the application which would either be accepted or rejected. That he has had “applied” and is waiting to hear back from immigration regarding his being granted refugee status would point towards him being deemed eligible for refugee status.

      So, those with active refugee status claims are permitted temporary residence while the application is being processed. Needless to say, I am certain that his unscrupulous means of entering Japan will definitely factor into the possibility of his claim being accepted. However to forcibly deport someone who has an eligible claim to refugee status stands as a horrendous violation of human rights, especially if the claimant’s safety is a key concern.

      “What’s that Xao? China wants to imprison you for your political views? That sounds serious. Here’s what we’ll do. We will deport you back to China for now, and let you know if your application goes through after we get it processed. If you’re not locked up in some prison, that is.”

    9. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      I have a few questions about this incident:

      * He was arrested on January 7, yet it took until January 13 — six days — for the Ministry of Justice to inform the police that the man was in the refugee application process. How could it possibly have taken this long? It shouldn’t have taken six minutes. He had the refugee document with him! Confirmation of what was on that document could have been made with a phone call, or, at worst, a fax of the document followed by a return call. Why was he in custody for so long?

      * The English article claims that “the document was deemed invalid without a photograph”; who did this “deeming” and on what grounds? If the MoJ issued him with a non-photo document, he can’t exactly demand that they take his picture, now can he? (The Japanese is more ambiguous, saying 書類に顔写真がなく本人確認ができない, which could also be interpreted as saying that without a photo on the document, they couldn’t confirm that he was the document’s owner.)

      If the MoJ concludes that he should be deported, that’s their decision, but I don’t see what grounds the police have for holding him in jail for weeks while they wait for the decision to come. 本人確認が出来ない (the inability to confirm who he is) is a bit slippery — are the police claiming that he might not be the person who is applying for refugee status? (I’d suggest making use of the much-maligned fingerprint system to confirm this, but it looks like he arrived in 2005, after fingerprinting of foreign residents was abolished and before it was reinstated at airports.)

      The MoJ granted him the right to stay at home while his case was being investigated (在宅で難民認定の審査中); can this be overridden so easily by the police?

      I wonder if this man didn’t get sandbagged by false assurances from the police that this would be sorted out right away — the article states that he “was voluntarily taken to the station because he wasn’t carrying a parrport or alien card” (旅券や外国人登録証を携帯していなかったことから署に任意同行された). Perhaps he assumed that, MoJ document in hand, confirmation of his status was a phone call away. Why wasn’t this the case?

    10. jim Says:

      i often carry a color copy of my ARC around with me, because i dont want to misplace the original. i hope the keystone nuts dont arrest me over this too.

    11. Deepspacebeans Says:

      @Mark

      It seems to me to be a gross example of a lack of communication that an MoJ issued document which grants you legal residency status would be seen as “invalid” by other authorities. Either the MoJ should confirm that it is valid, or they should change the document to better conform to what the policing agencies want. This is made even more ridiculous by the simple fact that his application for refugee status almost certainly includes a photograph.

      It could be a situation similar to when you first apply for an alien registration card and can get a document issued which confirms that you have applied for your registration card in order to do things such as open a bank account in the mean time. This document is not a replacement for the card, however, and you are still required to carry a passport for identification purposes. This assumption, however, makes little sense since many political and war refugees will not have valid passports. Since this document is purported to explicate the claimant’s residency status, it SHOULD be sufficient. If it is insufficient, for whatever reason, then what the hell is the point of issuing such a document in the first place?

    12. level3 Says:

      @Jim,

      You are breaking the law, and running a risk of being held or arrested, I believe.
      Think about it, could you get away with just using a color copy of a driver’s license if a cop pulled you over?
      Especially silly once they have RFID chips in all the ARCs.
      I guess your best likely case, if you can satisfactorily explain in Japanese why you only have a color copy, they will phone it in while they hold you.
      How does that work if you’re carded at 11PM, or on a holiday? {Seriously, I don’t know, is the magic J cop visa verification system a 24/7/365 thing?]

    13. Jerry Says:

      Let’s go through the laws this fellow broke.

      1. he entered the country illegally
      2. he used counterfeit documents to enter the country
      3. he overstayed any VISA that was granted him
      4. he worked illegally

      People like this are as much to blame for the harassment that visible minorities in Japan face as the racist cops who assume anyone who doesn’t look “Japanese” must be checked. If people like him didn’t break the law the cops wouldn’t have any moral high ground to claim they are trying to enforce the law.

      As for his “refuge” status – he’s claiming he’s a Tutsi minority from Rwanda. The UN is in Rwanda to protect the Tutsis, he entered the country illegally, he waited years to try to change his status, I say ship him back on the first plane. Regardless of being granted refuge status or not he should be deported.

    14. Christ o Says:

      (sorry for my poor english, this is not my first language)
      This man asked for refugee status 3 years after coming in japan, with a fake passport !
      I’ve been told that the refugee status has to be asked at the frontier or in the ambassy, BEFORE entering in the land (or at least in a very short time after entering in the land…) you wish to live, am I wrong ?
      it’s a sad situation, but remember that in most of our western countries (I am from Europe), he should have been deportated in his mother land (not good for him, if the genocide of Tutsies still going on..) (after
      some days in a “regroupment” camp in some countries..)
      Really, I don’t think his situation is worst than beeing caught for these facts in the USA, Spain or wherever else … ( of course this could be better, but we don’t live in a perfect world…)

      – We’re talking not about being apprehended, but for being apprehended despite government documentation.

    15. Deepspacebeans Says:

      @both Jerry and ChrisO:

      You are free to believe he “should” be deported and those acts he did illegally very likely could result in his being denied refugee status.

      However, this does not change the simple, concrete fact that the man had, at the time of his detainment, legal residency status as a refugee applicant. That the document issued by the MoJ which explicates this status was seen as inadequate is still a fairly alarming circumstance. This circumstance is further exacerbated by the fact that the legitimacy of the document and the man’s applicant status could not be verified in anything remotely resembling a reasonable time-frame should give everyone a cause for some pause.

      I, and most of the other posters (from what I can read), are not here actively supporting this man’s refugee claim or that his actions should grant him such a claim. That will be decided by the system of processing requests for refugee status. Such arguments, it seems to me, are just a diversion from what the key issue of this article is.

    16. amro Says:

      @Jerry:

      All of those points are irrelevant. He’s not in jail for working illegally or any of that, he’s in jail despite having a document from MoJ that grants him (temporary) residence. If indeed he should be deported, that would be once the MoJ decides on his case. It’s not the cops’ job.

    17. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      I couldn’t say whether or not this man deserves to be deported — that’s the the Ministry of Justice to decide, and with him having entered the country on a fake passport and then applying for refugee status as what looks like a last resort, I wouldn’t be surprised if the MoJ rejects his claim.

      (How easy is it for a Rwandan Tutsi to get a legitimate passport and leave the country? I have no idea.)

      I guess what it comes down to is that the police seem to be (yet again) doing whatever they want, answerable and accountable to no one. Why is the MoJ allowing them to jail a person whom they’ve given leave to live at home until their decision is made? Do police officers outrank the Ministry of Justice itself?

    18. Jerry Says:

      Fine, release him on the residency documentation charges, and then immediately arrest him for the crimes he has committed (which is my guess for why they’re still holding him – they plan on charging him with other crimes related to entering/working in the country illegally).

    19. Andrew Smallacombe Says:

      I agree that the “moral” questions regarding whether or not the man in question should be deported for entering the country on a fake passport and/or working illegally are irrelevant.
      What affects some of us is the fact that MOJ-issued documents are insufficient for some MOJ agencies.
      I’m still waiting for my PR to be processed. My current visa expires next month. What happens if I get stopped by the cops (it hasn’t happened yet in over 10 years of residence, but you never know…) in the period between my current visa expiration and the MOJ finally getting around to processing my visa – there is no record on my ARC. My only evidence is an application stamp in my passport. Will that be sufficient evidence that I am not illegal?

    20. Joe D. Says:

      Jerry wrote: “The UN is in Rwanda to protect the Tutsis, he entered the country illegally, he waited years to try to change his status, I say ship him back on the first plane. Regardless of being granted refuge status or not he should be deported.”

      Um – The UN botched Rwanda terribly and its “intervention/peacekeeping” was a complete debacle and only after countless thousands were slaughtered (An Imperfect Offering by James Orbinski is one of many records of this).

      No one on this board is in any position to speak to the authenticity of this particular fellows background. What happened in Rwanda was extreme, and regardless of how he got to Japan, he deserves a fair hearing. Being imprisoned (for two weeks +) because you’ve been issued the wrong documents is pretty atrocious. It’s just one more good reason I left Japan.

    21. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      Jerry, if the MoJ were so concerned with these alleged crimes, why would they not have arrested him when he submitted his petition for refugee status? Didn’t he have to account for his previous time in Japan and his fake passport when he did this?

      Andrew, I was in the same situation once and the immigration staff assured me that in such a case, I should carry my stamped passport with me instead of the alien card if I was worried about that. Of course, you and I have legal, non-fake passports, unlike the man in this story.

    22. anonymous Says:

      @Andrew Smallacombe

      I think that (even though you have applied for PR) you ALSO need to apply for the usual little (1 year, 3 year, or whatever) visa extension by the time your current visa expires “next month”, or you WILL be illegal. “But, but, I applied for the pie in the sky PR” probably won’t prevent them from pointing out that you forgot to apply for the usual visa extension while waiting, I think. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Does anyobdy here know the answer to this vital question?

    23. wascally wabbit Says:

      Andrew,

      The question of what comprises “sufficient” evidence with regards to anything and everything that could possibly be construed as falling under the jurisdiction of police discretion, is, sadly to say, completely and utterly unpredictable.

      When you say “sufficient evidence”, you assume that the police make discretionary judgements based on reasonable legal grounds which, from the preponderance of evidence available on this site, is decidedly not the case.

      Police are almost never held accountable for even the most egregious violations of due process and fundamental human rights. Accordingly any chance they have of getting an arrest regardless of reasonable cause or any other procedural violation, is deemed worthwhile. You can always be arrested for resisting arrest, even if all you do is turn around to walk away after wasting hours at a standstill – the fact that you are NJ alone will likely get you locked up for at least 10 days and possibly a complete search of your dwelling and belongings just to be on the safe side – the suspicion coming from the fact that you resisted arrest. If nothing is found, charges will be dropped, but don’t even think about trying to collect damages since the courts will ultimately offer you no relief as the police were merely carrying out their duties.

      With nothing to lose, even the remote possibility of a pat on the back should they find anything that they can pass along to either immigration or the public prosecutor after violating your rights means that you had just better keep your fingers crossed.

      Anecdotally speaking, the stamp in your passport means nothing to the police as it is merely evidence that you applied for a visa and that you did not receive approval as of the expiration of your current visa, meaning that for all intents and purposes, as far as the police are concerned, you are presumed to be an illegal alien and they have every right to detain you and even arrest you if they so choose. In my own experience, I was held for 5 or 6 hours until they got around to confirming my story with the appropriate authorities at immigration — lucky for me it was early Monday morning rather than a Friday night, in which case, they readily informed me, they would have kept me in custody until the following Monday morning when immigration opened.

      The “rule of law” in Japan is restricted for the most part to when it serves to support the bureaucracy, and in some rare instances when the violation of fundamental rights is extreme enough that the judiciary feels obligated to make a gesture showing its magnanimity in performing its duty to uphold the constitution. Unfortunately, to get there requires extreme dedication and a willingness to potentially sacrifice years of your life in court for a ruling that will most likely find in favor of the authorities. Even if you win, the damage is done and any restitution will likely be a pittance in comparison to actual losses, let alone related damages and expenses, including potential earnings and pain and suffering.

      That is not to say that such enterprises are not without merit — if everyone always stood up for their rights, it would make it far too much trouble for the authorities to continue with the status quo, thus effecting real changes in policy.

      The real culprit is the National Police Agency which exercises its authority over any and all violations of any law or ordinance for which there exists a criminal penalty (and even some for which there is none). This means that for any law in Japan that has a section outlining criminal penalties due to violations of the law can be interpreted and applied by the police with complete disregard for the jurisdictional authority of the administrative body ostensibly in charge of administering a particular law.

      Administrative law has in recent years seen a great deal of revision in an effort to enhance the fundamental rights of the individual when up against unfair regulations and/or administrative orders made by a government body, including a requirement for advance notice before carrying out any binding administrative orders which could result in the restriction or loss of any of your rights and the chance to express your opinion in defense of such action, and in cases involving significant loss of rights, they are required to hold a public administrative hearing, and at their discretion to allow other relevant individuals to appear and make statements on your behalf. These measures are all meant to take place *before* any action is taken so that the individual in question is provided with a reasonable opportunity to defend him/herself. It is also essential in promoting consistency in the application of policy and in accordance with the public demand for transparency and accountability in government. Furthermore, the result of such hearings, in the case that they decide to go ahead with the action in question, is issued in writing with an explanation that illustrates the issues raised and how and why they were interpreted and came to the conclusion at hand — this document can then be used to further contest the action in a court of law in cases where the reasoning used in the judgement contains potential errors in the application of the law. This helps to prevent and/or provide relief for arbitrary decisions by government bureaucrats who don’t really understand the law and end up violating people’s lives through its misapplication.

      This is all well and good except for two things:
      1) None of these protections apply to Immigration Policy (one of a small number of exceptions listed)
      2) If the law in question provides criminal penalties for violations, then even the slightest *suspicion* of a violation can result in police action, effectively negating the protections offered by any of the administrative safeguards noted above.

      It may interest you to know that originally both Houses fought hard and long against the introduction of any legislation that might throw Japan back under the dark shadow of a Police State, particularly in the years immediately following the war since the nightmare of prewar Administrative Police was still fresh in their memories. The official (online) minutes of these debates include a few personal accounts by Diet members themselves who shuddered to recall what they described as a “fascist police regime” bent on “controlling and abusing the rights of anyone and everyone” they came into contact with

      In fact, (Debito, curious if you are aware of this…) the debate in the Diet over the introduction of shokushitsu (the law which allows police to question and pat down suspicious individuals during patrols) was extremely heated because legislators suspected that police would eventually abuse the law to harass people on the street and invoke illegal search and seizure without the fulfillment of any modicum of ‘reasonable cause’. The head of the National Police Agency at the time subsequently promised that he would take personal responsibility to ensure that this law would not be abused and that it was merely necessary to ensure that police could effectively combat crime in the event of suspicious activity. I guess that nowadays just about anything qualifies as suspicious activity…

      It is also important to note that nearly all of the legislation past and present introduced with the intention of preventing crime and promoting safety was all written and presented by the National Police Agency themselves. Imagine if the only police force in the U.S. were the FBI and that they could introduce federal laws governing just about anything and everything…

      Anyone interested (with advanced Japanese ability and some time on their hands) should take a gander at the Diet and subcommittee minutes, all of which are available online (kokkai.ndl.go.jp). The gradual takeover of Japan by the National Police Agency and the virtual inability of elected officials to resist promulgating any legislation they propose is self-evident. Even the most heated arguments and opposition by all party leaders still only results in minor changes and eventual passing of the bill. The fact that the NPA balks at implementing any real transparency of the interrogation process — moreover the fact that they even have the power to do so — is a sad indicator of the state of democracy in Japan.

      And if this seems in any way tangential to the topic at hand, I suggest you consider the possibility that immigration policy relating to increased criminalization of any and all potential violations is a direct result of NPA influence through fear-mongering and the manipulation of crime stats to shift blame from the NPA to the MOJ, implying that failures in MOJ immigration policies resulted in increased foreign crime putting the safety of Japanese local communities at risk (and not in any way the result of any shortcomings of the NPA). The NPA made significant increases to their budget shortly after 911, but with no real terrorist threat apparent and finding themselves with a significantly higher budget and even higher crime-stats, they needed a way to maintain and/or increase their budget while simultaneously justifying higher levels of crime — hence the increase in anti-foreigner propaganda from the NPA and a shift in blame to the immigration policies of the MOJ. I believe that their ultimate motivations involve a power play to control even more of the MOJ — the current implication being that the MOJ needs to cooperate with (read “abdicate authority to”) the NPA since “foreigners = criminals” and only the NPA knows how to deal with criminals.

      On a final note, I believe it important to reflect on the greater issue at hand: the fact that a majority of civil and fundamental human rights are virtually non-existent in Japan *even for native Japanese* living in their own country. The chilling reality is that even if NJ are somehow able to obtain a level of rights comparable to that of a full citizen of Japan (e.g. Debito is such an individual and still confronts rampant racism and discriminatory practices that go beyond the issue of legal status), the fact remains that anyone can be arrested for suspicion of just about anything and be held in jail with no contact to the outside world, interrogated by police for hours on end, only to be faced at the end of a harrowing three weeks with the prospect of signing an admission of guilt with the promise of release (under summary prosecution), or to pursue a trial and remain in custody for as long as it takes and with little hope of receiving a verdict in his/her favor. Either way, even for a native Japanese, your life is turned upside-down, likely loss of employment and a permanent criminal record to boot. And that’s just for a relatively minor offense.

      The utter lack of fundamental human rights and freedom in Japan is truly frightening. If you’re willing to stay here (I still am for the time being), then just be aware of what you may be in for… and don’t say you were never warned. The reality of the situation (the one the police continue to balk at revealing to the general public) is that the law and your rights cease to exist in any real way once the police have taken you into custody. If only there were an Internal Affairs Division to bug the interrogation rooms, the world community would be in for quite a surprise and maybe then the police system would be dismantled and reorganized to be accountable to the oversight of each local municipality where the voice of the community could be heard…

      sss

    24. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      Wascally Wabbit, remind me to buy you a beer for that post if I ever meet you in the real world.

      Yuo should convert that into an essay to be submitted to a human rights magazine, if you haven’t done so already.

    25. wascally wabbit Says:

      Mark In Yayoi,
      appreciate the sentiment — thanks for overlooking the ranting and rambling/crappy grammar…had to respond and it just kept coming…(been sifting thru literally thousands of pages of online diet and subcommittee minutes ….time for a beer.) sss

      and a poke at all who are obsessed with the “legality” of his status and what the “law” says —>

      laws provide a baseline to those who administer it and those who are subject to it so you know what to expect when held to the letter of the law.

      however, in a true democracy that values the rights of the individual (= every individual), the application of the law will always consider the specific *individual* circumstances in order to arrive at a solution which provides the greatest benefit for all concerned, using the letter of the law as mere starting point. this assumes that we’re considering what is morally right in any reasonable democracy – what will happen in japan? used to thought i knew, and now not a clue…

      (i truly wish him the best of luck, though. it’s disappointing to hear people make negative assumptions about this gentlemen, regardless of whether he entered the country illegally or not. no one deserves to be locked up in a cage unless they have been found guilty of a crime which requires it. Joe D. has the right idea.)

    26. D.B. Cooper. Says:

      I am surprised that anyone could be anything but sympathetic and supportive of this man in his struggle. People like this are not to blame for the harassment that visible minorities in Japan face. Unfair, unjust, racist immigration laws and out of control cops are.

      #23. Thank-you for a timely reminder/warning of what we are all up against here. I recommend the reading of Karel van Wolferen’s excellent ‘The Enigma of Japanese Power’ especially relevant here Chapter 8 {1990 edition} ‘Keeping the Law under Control’. After a history of the legal system Wolferen writes, ‘As should be very obvious at this point, nothing in their history encourages ordinary Japanese citizens to think that the law exists to protect them.’{p274}

    27. anon Says:

      wascally wabbit: “It is also important to note that nearly all of the legislation past and present introduced with the intention of preventing crime and promoting safety was all written and presented by the National Police Agency themselves.”

      You make an excellent point about the NPA creating legislation which seems to contradict and negate the purpose of the separation of powers (Legislature, executive and Judicial) doctrine which fundamental to preventing corruption and abuse by any one government organ in a democracy.

      Keep up the good work!

    28. Andrew Smallacombe Says:

      Re: #22

      @ anonymous

      I’m heading into immigration tomorrow to apply for that extension. It would have been nice if immigration had told me when I lodged my PR application more than 3 months ago that I would need an extension.
      I love the fact that I need to give a reason for applying for an extension of a spouse visa – “I’m still married”, or maybe “Because I do not wish to violate any immigration laws while waiting for you to process a simple visa like this.”

      Anyway, my current visa may expire while the extension is being processed, which then brings us back to the original point – would the piece of paper (or in this case, a stamp in a passport) be sufficient evidence of my legallity should some cop decide to racially profile me?

    29. Andrew Smallacombe Says:

      And just to finalize – I called immigration on Monday to ask about my situation. They told me I would need to apply for an extension and that they would send me a postcard reminding me to do this. I got the card yesterday AFTER returning from immigration.

      To tie it all in with the introductory paragraphs, I’m convinced that immigration would not have sent me the card telling me to extend my visa if I hadn’t called them first.

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