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  • Asahi: Woman dies falling from veranda during Gaijin Card Check

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on October 16th, 2007

    Hi Blog. Happened not a few hours ago. Comment follows article:

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    WOMAN FALLS 9 STORIES FROM MANSION, DIES: OSAKA NISHI-KU
    Asahi Shinbun October 16, 2007, 13:22

    Courtesy http://www.asahi.com/national/update/1016/OSK200710160021.html
    Translated by Arudou Debito, courtesy of Foo Bar

    On October 16, 2007, around 9:55 AM, a woman resident on the 9th floor of an apartment complex (Osaka-shi Nishi-ku Minami Horie 3 chome) thought to be a foreigner was asked by Nishi Prefectural Police for identification (shokumu shitsumon), in order to ascertain her Status of Residence. The woman received the police in her genkan, but returned to her room, and minutes later fell from her veranda. She died of severe injuries to her entire body. The Nishi Police are ascertaining her identity.

    According to sources, she was apparently an Asian foreigner in her forties or fifties. At the end of September, Nishi Police received an anonymous tip-off that “An illegal foreign woman lives there”, so this morning four police officers visited the premises. When they demanded her passport at the genkan, allegedly the woman said, “please wait”, went back into the apartment, and there was no answer.

    Nishi Vice Police Chief Akai Yasohachi said, “We don’t think there was any problem with the way the demands for indentification were carried out.”
    ENDS
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    COMMENT: Difficult to say why she fell off the balcony (did she jump after being rumbled, or was there a (highly unlikely) incident of foul play?). But here we have the fruits of the anonymous anti-foreigner GOJ “snitch sites”–people unwilling to be taken into custody by Japanese police for whatever reason. Given how the Japanese police treat people in their care, it’s not difficult to see why. And it’s all part of the dragnet against foreigners in Japan–it’s not just random checks on the street any more.

    More news if there is any later. But will this develop into a clear case of, “somebody’s gotta die before bad policy gets changed”?

    Hope they’ll create snitch sites so we can anonymously rat on suspected members of organized crime. Those are the type of people I’d like to see falling from neighborhood balconies. Debito in Sapporo

    14 Responses to “Asahi: Woman dies falling from veranda during Gaijin Card Check”

    1. Robby Caughey Says:

      When I first learned about immigration’s snitch site, I wasn’t worried, for I doubted they had the man power to investigate so many “leads.” But, if they give the “leads” to local police, I see how they can investigate most of them. That’s scary!

    2. James Says:

      I have seen several Japanese TV news programs that follow around Immigration officers during busts, and in most cases that were aired the foreigners without visas attempted to run away from the police. Perhaps she was trying to climb down the building from her balcony to evade capture? This is truly a bizarre story.

    3. Ben Says:

      The article states that the police asked her to present her passport. I see no mention of a “gaijin card check”.

      The police chief states that he does not think there are any problems with the way it was handled. However, I thought that foreigners were under no legal obligation to present it. (The gaijin card, on the other hand, is of course another matter.)

      –IF THE POLICE WANT TO SEE SOME PROOF OF A NJ’S VALID VISA/STATUS OF RESIDENCE, THE PASSPORT OR THE GAIJIN CARD ARE BOTH LEGALLY TENABLE. AND IT WOULD BE PRETTY INCONCEIVABLE THAT SHE WOULDN’T HAVE HAD HER PASSPORT AT HOME (AS OPPOSED TO HAVING TO CARRY A GAIJIN CARD ON THE STREET).

      AS FOR LEGALITY OF HAVING TO PRESENT WHEN ASKED, READ UP ALSO ON DEBITO.ORG RE HOW THE SHOKUMU SHITSUMON/GAITOUHOU RULES APPLY TO FOREIGNERS. YOU HAVEN’T QUITE GOT IT RIGHT.

      IN ANY CASE, YOU AREN’T GOING TO GET THIS LEVEL OF SOPHISTICATION IN A QUICK NEWSPAPER ARTICLE, WHEN YOU HAVE A PUBLIC THAT GENERALLY DOESN’T EVEN KNOW NJ HAVE TO CARRY GAIJIN CARDS. IN THIS CASE, IT’S ESSENTIALLY THE SAME THING. STOP SPLITTING HAIRS.

    4. TJJ Says:

      A very sad result indeed.

      I must say, however, that I am surprised that ordinary people have the time or the inclination to go around reporting on their fellow neighbours – in this case a (probably harmless) 40 y/o woman no less! And who would have access to information that she was illegal? Obviously only someone close to her.

      Put all the pieces of the puzzle together and I bet you that most “suspected illegal” reportings are made in cases where the NJ has pissed off the wrong person. In other words, revenge reports… ominous.

    5. Graham Says:

      Since we don’t know why this person fell from the apartment, I would be cautious about attributing any “anti-foreign” sentiment to the situation without evidence. Authorities in most countries make some efforts to check in on people who are undocumented. Certainly, a website designed for neighbors to report illegals sets up an air of suspicion around people perceived as non-native. But if someone would rather leap from a window than be discovered as an illegal resident, this isn’t something police on the scene could easily prevent.

    6. Andrew Smallacombe Says:

      Four police officers?
      Just how many would be sent if she were a suspected murderer?

      While I’m inclined to agree with James’ assessment, I’m curious as to whether she was, in fact, illegal.
      And what will happen if it turns out she was staying legally.

    7. Majestyk Says:

      >Robby Caughey

      There’s only one way to check whether they have the manpower or not – by falsely submitting the name and address of every disagreeable person you’ve ever worked with in Japan to that immigration snitch site. Then just wait and see if any of these ‘leads’ is followed up.

      I’m just starting my list now…

    8. genericdave Says:

      A tip like this doesn’t necessarily have to be the fruits of one of those snitch sites. Crappy “I’ve got 911 on speed-dial” neighbors are not that uncommon in my experience (although this experience is limited to America). I’ve had the cops come out to houses that I’ve lived at many times for issues (noise, backyard fires, etc.) that apparently bothered someone, but instead of solving the problem quickly and directly by coming over and talking to us, many neighbors decided to call the cops (which I imagine would take a good deal longer). I’m reminded of the brainless loser who issued a complaint about his neighbor’s sidewalk chalk art that was displayed on her own property.

      Regardless though, I’m a bit unsettled by the thought that a foreigner living in Japan might get a visit from the cops on a regular basis, simply because their foreignness makes them inherently suspicious. It’s a lesson that many countries need to learn: Foreigners are often a BENEFIT to a country. I know in America at least there is a fairly widespread belief that somehow the presence of a large amount of immigrants is somehow a drain on the country, both economically and culturally. (BEGIN RANT) Do they seriously think that all those foreigners just come here and sit on their butts all day reading Mad Magazine and eating up all our precious Cheeto’s? Oh Lordy! There will be none left for the children! (END RANT)

      Anyway, I have heard briefly that (depending on where you live of course) a foreigner can expect visits from their friendly neighborhood police on a regular basis. I’d say it doesn’t have to be such an unpleasant visit though. Invite them in, show them your photos from back home, offer them a few beers. Fun for everyone.

      –I THINK YOU’RE BEING A BIT OF A POLLYANNA ABOUT HOW THE COPS IN THIS COUNTRY ARE GOING TO TREAT YOU AS A NJ. AS YOU SAY, IT DEPENDS, BUT IF THERE’S A PHALANX OF FOUR KNOCKING ON YOUR DOOR, I DOUBT THEY’RE GOING TO BE RECEPTIVE TO BEER AND PHOTOS. THOSE FOUR ARE EXPECTING TROUBLE, AND ARE IN “WE’RE READY TO SUBDUE YOU” MODE. GIVE IT A TRY IF YOU LIKE, BUT I THINK YOU’LL BE LUCKY TO GET A REFUSAL THAT’S EVEN POLITE.

      BRAVO ON THE LESSONS COUNTRIES WITH IMMIGRANTS NEED TO LEARN. DEBITO

    9. Ryan Says:

      Debito wrote:

      > AS FOR LEGALITY OF HAVING TO PRESENT [a passport] WHEN ASKED,
      > READ UP ALSO ON DEBITO.ORG RE HOW THE SHOKUMU
      > SHITSUMON/GAITOUHOU RULES APPLY TO FOREIGNERS.
      > YOU HAVEN’T QUITE GOT IT RIGHT.

      I must agree with Ben above.

      The law (外国人登録法 第十三条 第二項) states that a foreigner, upon request, must present identification. Quote:『外国人は、[…]登録証明書の掲示を求めた場合には、これを掲示しなければならない。』 That need not necessarily be a passport.

      Please note that you do not even need a passport to enter Japan. While it is the typical situation, there are situations where this is not necessarily the case. Surely you have seen the question on immigration forms asking to explain if you can not produce a passport. Also, a foreign (non-Japanese) passport is the property of a foreign government and Japan has no claims to it. A foreigner’s right to reside in Japan is generally determined by visas (which typically, though not necessarily, are placed in a passport). That is why the law mentions identification, not specifically a passport.

      Also note that the police _suspected_, but did not know, that she was a foreigner. There are a number of other plausible possibilities. For instance, she was Japanese (and maybe never had a passport issued to her). Or she was a foreigner and took Japanese citizenship. Or perhaps not. But either way, the police did not know that she was a foreigner and only suspected it. Surely we will know more soon, but that is after the fact and does not change initial situation.

      In summary, asking for a passport was not appropriate (contrary to the police chief’s statement). Asking for identification would be acceptable (per 外国人登録法), but only after confirming that she was a foreigner.

      –AGREED. NOW IF ONLY WE COULD GET THIS LEVEL OF SOPHISTICATION FROM OUR POLICE AND MASS MEDIA REPORTAGE… DEBITO

    10. genericdave Says:

      Well, I guess I’m just used to receiving uninvited police attention. Usually police like to stop me based solely on my age, or my propensity for taking walks at night (apparently a suspicious thing, I mean, only criminals do that, right?) I realize that usually cops expect you to be a jerk (and in fact often hope that you will be a jerk just so they can mess with you). Because of this I usually adopt a polite, cheerful, talkative attitude. Often this either gets them to feel a bit more relaxed, or at least convince them that you’re just some buffoon and that they’d really rather leave alone and be on their way than have to talk with you. I’ve witnessed the “Hey! Leave me alone copper!” attitude enough times to realize that this is exactly what riles a cop up.

      –YES, QUITE. THANKS FOR SHARING. DEBITO

    11. TJJ Says:

      “Graham Says:
      October 16th, 2007 at 8:57 pm
      Since we don’t know why this person fell from the apartment,”

      True, we don’t know, but it’s dollars to donuts that she was trying to climb from her balcony to the next (either above, below or next door).

    12. genericdave Says:

      I’d say one of the major issues surrounding this case is Japan’s tightening restrictions on immigration. If overstaying your visa by a day can get you deported and banned for a number of years, God only knows what would have happened to this woman. Japan has this interesting way of saying “Hey, come here!” and “Get the hell out!” all in one breath. Increasing punishment for illegal immigrants won’t decrease their numbers, it’ll just cause more incidents like this.

    13. Greg M Says:

      Genericdave makes an interesting point. When strangers try and strike up a conversation with me they usually welcome me to their “unique island nation of four seasons”. Once they realize that I am not just the average tourist, the inevitable “When are you leaving?” question follows.

    14. Douglas Sweetlove Says:

      If, as others suggested, she was trying to escape from the police by going from balcony to balcony, then most of the blame must fall on her.

      Darwin in action.

      On another topic, I have never heard of:

      “a fairly widespread belief that somehow the presence of a large amount of immigrants is somehow a drain on the country, both economically and culturally”

      I have heard it said about illegal aliens (and rightly so), but not about legitimate immigrants. Most people I know welcome immigration, as long as it is controlled and conducted legally.

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