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  • Nov 07 Immig Law: New Biometric machines only at Narita. Every other airport fingerprints NJ every time.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on September 25th, 2007

    Hi Blog. Report from Martin Issott, who has been doing extensive follow-up research on this subject over weeks. The new November Immigration Procedures, which will be reestablishing the fingerprint system withdrawn after decades of protest ten years ago, will be treating all foreigners as fresh off the boat. Including non-Japanese residents of Japan and Permanent Residents.

    Worse yet, since “insufficient funds” have made it so that only one airport (Narita) will have the latest technology, NJ residents will have to give fingerprints every time they enter the country and go through the Gaijin Line. Nice welcome home, Immigration.

    Amnesty International and SMJ have been duly advised of this. They will be holding a public forum in October on this in Tokyo. Details here. Attend if you like.

    See the GOJ’s hilarious justification for reinstating this system here.

    If you’d like to get in touch with Martin for confirmation of any details below, please contact him through me at debito@debito.org; as per his request. Or of course, leave a comment below. Thanks. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

    Dear Debito,

    The Ministry of Justice briefing I previously advised was duly held on afternoon of 18th September, and contact with the British Embassy representative who attended the meeting has clarified the situation with confirmation as follows:

    1) The law was promulgated on 24th May 2006, and will be enforced from 23rd November this year.

    2) At Narita, for foreign residents with pre-registered fingerprints and photographs, there will be an automated gate system established prior to 23rd November.

    3) This automated gate system will only be established at Narita and at no other International airport in Japan until processing via this system has been perfected and, very ominously, “when funds are available” to provide the system at other International airports.

    4) Resident foreigners entering Japan at other airports will be required to join the queue with all arriving visitors and to provide their fingerprints and photograph on every entry and re-entry into Japan.

    5) As a Kobe resident it is obviously impractical for me to use Narita, therefore I, a 20 year resident of the country with valid re-entry permit and visa, will nonetheless be required to follow these procedures, despite the fact that for non-Japanese APEC Country business travel card holders there are already separate immigration channels (effectively automated gates !) to facilitate their entry.

    I am now doubly incensed, first at the discrimination ,and secondly at the sheer incompetence of the Japanese authorities in not getting their act together during the last 18 months to establish the automated gate system at all Japanese International airports prior to the amended law enforcement.

    As a result many long term family residents and the resident business community will be seriously inconvenienced which all could have been quite simply avoided.

    I cannot change the facts, but I would ask you through your newspaper columns to castigate in the strongest possible terms the Japanese authorities for their sheer indifference to the rights of resident foreigners.

    Martin Issott

    ===========================

    Written substantiation from Kobe Immigration (in letter form: query letter, then answer) in pdf format, courtesy of Martin Issott, downloadable from

    http://www.debito.org/issottkobeimmigration210907.pdf

    Or click on thumbnails for jpg format:
    A210907(J).jpgQ100907(J).jpgQ100907(E).jpg

    Details as follows:

    ===========================

    RE: Kobe Immigration 100907.pdf

    Mr Issott,

    I have received Kobe immigration response dated 21/9.

    Details are -

    ———————————————-
    ” Regarding your letter of 10th September for asking confirmation we
    respond as follows:-

    1) There is no plan for the Automated Gate System to be installed
    at Kansai International Airport Osaka.

    A) As responded previously regarding the introduction of the automated
    gate system, there is no other installation plan in this fiscal year
    except Narita Airport, to be installed by 23/11.

    The installation plan of the automated gate system in and after next
    fiscal year is under investigation.

    As future installation plan will be announced as soon the details
    are decided, your understanding is appreciated.

    2) If I wish to avail of the Automated Gate System, then my only
    option will be to re-arrange my travel schedule to enter and re-enter
    Japan via Narita Airport.

    A) As per our response 1) above the automated gate system is planned,
    as of now, to be installed at Narita only. Therefore if you wish to
    avail of the automated gate system there is no other way for using
    Narita Airport. Your understanding is appreciated.”
    ———————————————-

    nh

    ENDS

    26 Responses to “Nov 07 Immig Law: New Biometric machines only at Narita. Every other airport fingerprints NJ every time.”

    1. feitclub Says:

      Even though I just got here, I am pissed about this. I had a re-entry visa back when I was a student and it made every so wonderfully simple. Sure, my bag got searched because I was a foreigner but that took less than a minute. Waiting in line with all those tourists will take forever going by current processing standards, so I can only imagine how much longer it’s going to take to fingerprint and photograph EVERYONE.

      So what now? I can’t go all the way to Tokyo for that meeting.

    2. Nikuashi Says:

      ok, so wait. does this:
      4) Resident foreigners entering Japan at other airports will be required to join the queue with all arriving visitors and to provide their fingerprints and photograph on every entry and re-entry into Japan.
      mean that it will happin in Kansai International Airport as well?
      or does the “when funds are available” mean that it wont happen when i come back thru osaka?

    3. Jon Says:

      Even with all the 9/11 and terrorism fears here in the United States, my wife, who is not a citizen of the U.S., does not have to get fingerprinted when she arrives in the U.S.

      This is another example of Japan’s paranoia about non-Japanese people.

    4. TsukuBlog » New Immigration Procedures Says:

      […] More information on Debito Arudou’s site. […]

    5. Afro Eric Says:

      why are long-term residents still using the gaijin lines? i have used the japanese line ever since i received my foreigner’s id card. i did this as a single guy on a spec hum/intl rel visa and after i got married and carried the foreigner’s id card while on a spousal visa.

      i will test the new system when i return. this time around i work for the us gov and no longer have a foreigner’s id card although i am still married and have the spousal visa stamp in my passport.

      at any rate, understand that being fingerprinted is much like giving out your ssn. i do not see people being so up in arms about that! big brother is watching in more ways than one. maybe i am used to being fingerprinted, photographed, poked, investigated, and the such that i am numb to worrying about a photograph and fingerprints.

      i am a firm believer that if you do nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about. i think that there are more important issues to fight in japan (parental kidnapping, voting rights, etc).

      at any rate, i will continue to track this issue and see if i can jump into the fray and fight for what’s right!

      gambatte!

      HISASHIBURI, ERIC. GOOD TO HEAR YOU ARE SAFE AND WELL IN YOUR NEXT PORT OF CALL. THANKS FOR WRITING IN! DEBITO

    6. Netko Says:

      Giving one’s SSN isn’t something that would compare to having one’s photo and fingerprints taken EACH time re-entering one’s country of residence.

      I am currently (a non citizen) in the US (but am a permanent resident of Japan) and I see that EVERYBODY has to give their SSN when that’s required – that includes citizens and also residents/visitors without citizenship, too.

      In Japan, on the other hand, only NJs will have their pics and fingerprints taken and no matter how “あやしい” a Japanese national may appear, he/she will just have his/her passport inspected.
      In a couple of years my family will be returning to Japan and there will be – me, a permanent resident (with no criminal record, no parking violation even, not a single speeding ticket, and no visa violations etc. whatsoever) having to give my photo and fingerprints and – my hubby for who nobody will even suspect any wrongdoing just because he is Japanese, will just pass the gate; our family separated at the entrance of our country of residence.
      I am a permanent resident of Japan, but since it’s been for years a re-entry into Japan for me, returning from our trips abroad, we 夫婦 used to go through the gate together, at Narita or Fukuoka. From now on just because one of is NJ and the other one is J, everything will change. I suddenly become a suspicious individual who has to be recorded in that special way each time I go back home in Japan.
      BTW, I just arrived to the US 2 months ago and neither me nor my husband or child had our photo or fingerprints taken – and none of us is the US citizen! Not even a permanent resident.

    7. Cabby Says:

      I read Martin’s letter to the editor in the Yomiuri this morning and figured Debito would be on it. All I can say is that it SUCKS. Foreign diplomats should complain loudly, if not at the idea of fingerprinting and photo taking (both of which I am 100% opposed to), at least about the lack of preparation and inadequate measures taken to ensure that the program (as repugnant as it may be)operates with the least amount of inconvenience.

      I travel with my daughter, and although she is now nearly 14, I can’t imagine what it would have been like with her having to go through the Japanese line alone while her father was being hassled at any younger age. Guess I am looking at a very unhappy new year when we return of January 1 to KIX. Still Undecided as to whether I will allow them to print me as they used to do the get the alien registration card. anxious to see what happens if I refuse.

      SO AM I. THE OFFICIAL WORD IS THAT YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED ENTRY INTO JAPAN, PERIOD. GANBATTE. DEBITO

    8. debito Says:

      FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE
      When the ridiculous US-visit fingerprint/photo thing came in here a few years ago, Brasil said they’d be doing the same thing but – and this is one of the many reasons why I love Brasil – only to US citizens! ahhhahahaha Reciprocity is a bitch is it not?

      However, when I went there last year they didn’t do it to me. Then I found out why – they didn’t have the funds to do it to all incomming Americans and it seems the idea just sort of died (very Brasillian).

      So Japan is second copycat. But – as we know – they WILL impliment it.

      The fingerprint/photo deal here hasn’t stopped or slowed down a single terrorist that we know of, and has been a huge waste of money (caught a few non payers of child support). Actually it has contributed to a large loss of tourist/visitor dollars as surveys in various countries, particularly in the middle east, have said that many people are visiting not-American countries because of the horrible reception they get at our embassies and borders. Anecdotal but I think convincing evidence.

      And this in Japan after DECADES (since the 50s) of protests by the Korean community in Japan against fingerprinting of foreigners. I presume they think the battle is lost (or they’re exempt?). Sadly, so often now the battle for individual rights is totally lost. Hope it doesn’t go too far in Japan like it has here.

      Doc
      Lawyer
      NYC

    9. Afro Eric Says:

      RE: FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE

      Debito, thank you for the welcome. Things are going great at my new location. I love being back in the classroom passing knowledge (and playing the give me tenure game). It is a blessing to work “indirectly” in my former profession. To round things out, I started another Masters (National Security Affairs with a specialization in Far East Asia). Now, if only I can complete my book!

      Regarding the fingerprinting: When I moved to Osaka, I was flat out told by the ward office official that I would not receive my foreigner’s ID card if I did not submit to fingerprinting. I protested, held out for about three weeks and ultimately gave up my fingerprints and the photo in order to receive my id card.

      Understanding how the Zainichi worked the system in Japan to disappear into the system, I registered my inkan using a Japanese name. I subsequently set up my bank account, apartment contract, insurance, moped loan, keitai contract in my Japanese name. I submitted the majority of the paperwork via fax and my (former) Japanese girlfriend. Unless I showed up to take care of business, the Japanese at the other end of the transaction usually never knew that I was gaijin with chocolate skin.

      That was one way for me to fight the system. With the new immigration system being implemented at Narita, it will not take the wrath of the Dip Community but the loss of business (MONEY) for Japan to revamp/rethink their approach. For those with a Japanese spouse, maybe having a JN complain and bring the issue to the media,will force the JP GOV to change their mind.

    10. Liberal Japan » Blog Archive » Foreigners are suspected criminals. Says:

      […] Nov 07 Immig Law: New Biometric machines only at Narita. Every other airport fingerprints NJ every time. […]

    11. debito Says:

      FEEDBACK FROM THE COMMUNITY

      I’m not sure the powers that be have thought this one
      through very well.

      Given the number of Non-Japanese who travel with their
      Japanese spouses and children, I hope immigration have
      thought about the number of complaints they will get
      from unhappy J-spouses about the time they had to wait
      for the non-J spouse to get through immigration.

      Maybe this is the best way to get them to rethink it,
      to get every inconvenienced J-spouse to complain about
      the meiwaku caused. Immigration may not listen to us,
      but they may listen to our J-spouses.

      ENDS

    12. Bernie Bridger Says:

      Dear Debito,

      Notwithstanding the hastle envisaged once the new system is implemented from 23 November 2007, especially for long-time permanent residents such as myself (who has been living in Japan now for 35 years and who has a Japanese wife and 3 Japanese grown children who are all Japanese nationals), who travel a considerable amount overseas on business, can you advise where foreign residents can “pre-register their fingerprints and photographs’, in order that they might avail themselves of the automated gate system?

      I dread to think about the possibilily of lining up with the hundreds of visitors in the “Foreigners” immigration line at Narita every single time I come back home to Japan, especially after being on a plane for 12 ~ 14 hours, or more!!

      I look forward to hearing from you.

      Thanks,
      Bernie

      –OBVIOUSLY, I CAN’T ADVISE. BEST IS TO ASK THE GOVERNMENT TO ADVISE YOU. ASK YOUR LOCAL DIVISION OF IMMIGRATION–NYUUKYOKU KANRIKYOKU, WHERE YOU GET YOUR RE-ENTRY PERMIT (SAINYUUKOKU KYOKA), AS YOU PROBABLY KNOW. BETTER YET, LEVEL A COMPLAINT WHILE YOU’RE AT IT. BESTS, DEBITO

    13. debito Says:

      Japan to begin fingerprinting, photographing
      foreigners Nov. 20
      TOKYO, Oct. 4 KYODO
      Japan decided Thursday to set the date of
      implementing a revised immigration law Nov. 20 calling
      for fingerprinting and photographing foreigners at age
      16 or older upon entry into the country, government
      officials said.
      A government ordinance including the schedule,
      decided on at a meeting of vice ministers, will be
      formalized at a Cabinet meeting Friday, they said.

      ===============================

      Japan to begin photographing, fingerprinting arriving tourists
      09/29/2007 (Taiwan News)

      Most tourists will be fingerprinted and photographed upon arrival in Japan beginning November 20, according to a visiting Japanese official.

      The measure is part of the Japanese government’s efforts to fight terrorism and safeguard the well-being of foreign tourists, Seiko Sasaki, head of Japan’s immigration agency’s intelligence management department, said Thursday.

      The new measure will apply to almost all foreign travelers to Japan, Sasaki noted, adding that those who refuse will be denied access to the country and will be deported.

      Japanese permanent residency certificate holders, people under the age of 16, and guests of the country’s government chief administrators will not subject to the new measure, Sasaki said. Also exempt will be staff of the Association of East Asian Relations, a Taipei-based quasi-official organization which handles Tokyo-Taipei relations, and their families, Sasaki went on.

      Foreign tourists will have their fingerprints and photos taken when questioned by customs officials, Sasaki said, adding that the entire process is expected to take just 30 seconds.

      http://www.taiwanheadlines.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=89606&CtNode=39
      ENDS

    14. riki Says:

      I was wondering what this meant “special permanent residents”. In case others are interested, I found this definition.

      The term “special permanent resident” refers to foreign residents designated as such under the Special Law on the Immigration Control of, inter alia, those who have lost Japanese nationality on the basis of the Treaty of Peace with Japan.
      Data: Statistics on the Foreigners Registered in Japan 2005, Japan Immigration Association

      http://www.kippo.or.jp/place_e/data/data04.htm

    15. Cabby Says:

      This article from the Taiwan TImes dated 9/29/07 seems to contradict the original posting by Martin Issott referred to in this blog. Does anyone have the straight poop?Will long-term residents with permanent residency be required to go through the printing/photo taking process each time they return to Japan? The Taiwan Times article says they will not. According to that article the printing and photo taking will be handles by customs officers. This seems a bit odd since by the time one reachers customs, they have already been admitted into the country having first passed through immigration. What happens to Korean nationals who have lived their whole life here? Spousal complaints . . . good idea . . . how many would do it is another question.

      I BELIEVE THE STRAIGHT POOP IS THAT KYODO DID NOT TRANSLATE ITS TERMS WELL IN THE ARTICLE. BY “PERMANENT RESIDENTS”, THEY WERE NO DOUBT REFERRING TO THE “SPECIAL PERMANENT RESIDENTS” (TOKUBETSU EIJUUSHA), OF WHOM MANY ARE TAIWANESE CHINESE. WE’RE TALKING THE ZAINICHIS. THE POLICY HAS ALWAYS BEEN THAT THEY WILL NOT BE FINGERPRINTED (POLITICAL REASONS–AVOIDED A BACKLASH FROM THE MORE ENTRENCHED ZAINICHI COMMUNITY).

      THE REGULAR PERMANENT RESIDENTS (IPPAN EIJUUSHA) ON DOWN WILL STILL BE FINGERPRINTED. THAT MEANS YOU, CABBY. DEBITO

    16. red Says:

      His comment about APEC cards was interesting. He does have a point. It is a good system and it makes sense (I have one) – it encourages business people to travel more smoothly between APEC countries. Given that Japan is lacking most of its partner countries in terms of FDI it probably needs all that it can get. That said, I wonder if that will continue. Given that there are no finger prints on an APEC card I have a funny feeling that they will be forced to line up in the “gaijin queue” going forward, too. Have you heard different? If they aren’t going to make exceptions for the crew of the airlines, why would they make an exception for APEC card holders.

    17. Boyd Lugenbehl Says:

      I just read in a letter to the Japan Times that as a permanent resident (ippan eijuusha) you can pre-register your biometric data with immigration. To my knowledge I have read nothing about pre-registration anywhere else. As a 20-year permanent resident I am of course not happy about the gross insensitivity of the Japanese government towards its long-time legal residents. Can you shed any light on this? How do I go about pre-registering before my next trip abroad in December?

      YOU CAN’T, AT LEAST ACCORDING TO MARTIN ISSOTT, WHO HAS HAD LETTERS APPEAR IN THE JAPAN TIMES AND THE DAILY YOMIURI SAYING THAT HE HAS TRIED REPEATEDLY TO PREREGISTER WITH KOBE IMMIGRATION, UNSUCCESSFULLY. I WILL HAVE THAT INFORMATION UP LATER ON TODAY. THANKS FOR WRITING. –ARUDOU DEBITO

    18. Bob JJ Says:

      My understanding of this situation is that at Narita you are
      electronically finger printed and photographed EACH TIME
      you enter the country (NJ).* If I remember correctly in the
      US, you (Non-US citizen) REGISTER your finger print and photograph. That means you only show your passport on subsequent visits. This is a huge difference. (Somebody correct if I am wrong.)

      I also understand that the only nj person(s)eligible for exemption is the born-in-Japan Korean or Chinese national.

      I further understand that I cannot accompany (or be accompanied by) my 3 year-old daughter (dual passports J/USA) through the
      Japanese immigration line. We must go through the foreigners’ control booth, though she will not be finger printed etc. She is basically being denied her owns rights because of her father’s nationality. To me this is a pretty big issue.

      Finally, on the issue of long lines, the official did not refute my notion that lines could exceed two hours. He was vague on this point, which to me suggests anticipate long waits. This is very serious for people with little children or have other issues.

      * All based on a conversation with an immigration official.

      I would be particularly interested in hearing some comments on the topic of loss of rights for children with two passports traveling alone with a nj parent. Or am I going too far on this point?

    19. Thessa Says:

      Just a very stupid question. I fortunately live in Tokyo and apparently I should be able to pre-register and enter the country hassle-free (of course compared to people in Kobe etc). Does anyone know where I can do that? As I sometimes travel with a bunch of very young re-entry permit holders (my children), can I take them with me through the pre-registry-line, or do I have to let them crawl to the re-entry/Japanese line with their passport in their diaper, so that at least they won’t lose it?

      Anyone?

    20. Majestyk Says:

      As Afro Eric mentioned in (5), I too have always joined the Japanese line at immigration on arrival at Kansai Airport. There’s never been any problem with passport control, although my bag has always been searched on the other side. Maybe by joining the Japanese line resident foreigners can avoid the same fate as tourists? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

    21. jl Says:

      I’m going to immigration this week to check on pre-registering.

    22. Doug Norman Says:

      Several people have written they are going to check on pre-registration. I am wondering if anyone has inquired and received feedback, positive or negative. Any information on pre-registration would be most welcome. Has anyone reading this actually pre-registered? If so how do you do it?

      To me it seems the issue of photographing and fingerprinting has been in the pipeline for a very long time. It is a battle well worth fighting but I am sure there is no near term resolution to it at all and we are going to have to deal with it (in one form or another). I intend to have a bit of fun with it – funny poses – careful selection of which finger I use when printed, etc (since I am in and out of Japan at least monthly)

      On the other hand petitioning the government to provide procedures for re-entering the country in a timely fashion (i.e. not requiring us invested in the country in one way or another to line up with tourists) might be a good starting point where we can effect a change, and express our concerns about the obvious unfairness of this law. I have shared concerns with several Japanese and most of them see this requirement as being ridiculous for those living in Japan with proper visas.

      Perhaps striving for smooth entry at all ports of entry is a good starting point, a way for the Japanese Govt. to save face (even the Japanese people I talk to see this law as over the top in light of the recent “Al Quaeda friends” comments) and compromise with a much needed foreign community in Japan.

      ————————————

      –THE INFORMATION YOU REQUEST IS ON THE SITE YOU’RE REPLYING TO. http://www.debito.org/index.php/?p=592

    23. Doug Norman Says:

      Thank you for showing me where to get the information. It still took me a while to find exactly what I was looking for. I think the link you have under a different part of your Blog is very clear and excellent instructions on where to pre-register (this information is only available in Japanese, which is fine as long as it is available)

      http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan63-2.pdf

      yoroshiku
      Doug Norman

    24. joe Says:

      Question: Finger print all (terrorist) “Foreigners” . But hang on, those that gassed the subway in Japan, were NOT “Foreigners” , but Japanese.

      Is it only me or do you too think idiots rule the world. Go figure.

    25. Don Lacer Says:

      I say the hell with this country.

      I have permanent residency and I’m ready to give it up and go home.

      In response to Joe, idiots do rule the world and it would seem that a lot of them are Japanese.

    26. Mark Elliott Says:

      Hi, I think that if Japan is going to put these harsh barriers on all foreigners even permanent residents, I feel that the only way to make Japan wake up is to require all Japanese nationals to require visas to enter first world countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and all of the EU countries. If they want to play the “Sakoku” game, I think it would be likewise fair to not accept naturalization of Japanese nationals, or to make it equally difficult as Japan does on foreigners. In short, it should be made tit-for-tat, so that the Japanese people themselves will rise up and ask Japan to revise these xenophobic policies. It may be wrong to return the favor, but I feel that it is a necessary evil that all Japanese nationals be treated the same way Japan treats other gaijin trying to immigrate to Japan. But at the same time, we must be careful to return them the favour. Nikkeijin who are not citizens of Japan or dual nationals who enter other countries on their other passport should continue to be treated equally with other nationals of his or her respective foreign nationality.

      I am sick and tired of the continued xenophobic attitudes of Japan, being a first world country, should have this favour returned by other first world countries on a tit for tat basis.

      I studied about the history of the United States and the laws prohibiting Japanese from becoming Americans in the past. But I also wonder why should the Issei be given the right to become American when an American would have had the same difficulty becoming Japanese? I am sorry, but Japanese people must wake up to the fact that they should be made to lie in the bed that they made.

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