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  • Mainichi: Justice Minister Hatoyama justifies NJ fingerprinting, alleging ‘friend of a friend’ al-Qaeda link

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on October 30th, 2007

    Hi Blog. Our Minister of Justice should be more careful about the company he keeps… and the conclusions he draws. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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    Hatoyama justifies taking prints with ‘friend of a friend’ in al-Qaida claim
    Mainichi Shinbun Oct 29, 2007

    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/national/news/20071029p2a00m0na052000c.html
    Courtesy of FG

    TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s justice minister said Monday a “friend of a friend” who belonged to al-Qaida was able to sneak into the country with false passports and disguises, proving Tokyo needs to fingerprint and photograph arriving foreigners.

    Japan will begin imposing the new measures on Nov. 20 on all foreigners entering the country aged 16 or over to guard against terrorism, in a move critics say will fail to protect the country and will violate human rights.

    Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama, however, told reporters that he had personal knowledge of how terrorists can infiltrate the country, citing an unidentified “friend of a friend” who was involved in a bomb attack on the Indonesian island of Bali.

    “I have never met this person, but until two or three years ago, it seems this person was visiting Japan often. And each time he arrived in Japan, he used a different passport,” Hatoyama said.

    The justice minister added that his friend, whom he also did not identify, had warned him to stay away from the center of Bali.

    Hatoyama did not specify which of two Bali bomb attacks — in 2002 and 2005 — he was referring to. Nor did he say whether the warning came before a bombing, or whether he alerted Indonesian officials.

    Indonesian police have said the 2002 bombings that killed 202 people were carried out with funds and direction from al-Qaida. A splinter group of the Southeast Asian terror organization Jemaah Islamiyah allegedly carried out the 2005 attacks independently.

    “The fact is that such foreign people can easily enter Japan,” Hatoyama said. “In terms of security, this is not a preferable situation.”

    “I know this may cause a lot of inconvenience, but it’s very necessary to fight terror,” Hatoyama said of the fingerprinting measures. “Japan may also become a victim of a terrorist attack.”

    Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said he hoped Hatoyama’s al-Qaida connection would not re-enter Japan.

    “I hope he’ll deal with this issue firmly through immigration controls now that he’s justice minister,” Fukuda said.

    Critics have blasted the new fingerprinting measures, which only exempt some permanent residents, diplomatic visitors and children.

    “The introduction of this system is a violation of basic human rights, especially the right to privacy,” said Makoto Teranaka, secretary-general of the human rights group Amnesty International Japan.

    He said it unfairly targets foreigners since Japanese could also be criminals or terrorists.

    Under the new regulations, all adults will be photographed and fingerprinted on arrival in Japan, according to the country’s Immigration Bureau. Incoming aircraft and ship operators also will be obliged to provide passenger and crew lists before they arrive.

    Resident foreigners will be required to go through the procedure every time they re-enter Japan, the bureau said. Immigration officials will compare the images and data with a database of international terror and crime suspects as well as domestic crime records. People matching the data on file will be denied entry and deported.

    Similar measures have been introduced in the United States.

    Tokyo’s support of the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and dispatch of forces to each region have raised concerns that Japan could become a target of terror attacks.

    Fingerprinting carries a strong stigma in Japan because it is associated with criminals.

    Japan previously fingerprinted foreign residents, but that system was abolished in 1999 following civil rights campaigns involving Japan’s large Korean and Chinese communities.

    ——————————————

    Barry Steinhardt, of the American Civil Liberties Union, speaks at an FCCJ press conference in Tokyo Monday, Oct. 29, 2007. Japan is to launch new regulations for foreigners entering the country starting Nov. 20, which will require all adults ages 16 or over to be photographed and fingerprinted upon arrival in Japan. Steinhardt said a similar measure introduced in the United States in 2004 US-VISIT, which stands for U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, has been an ineffective tracking measure. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
    ENDS

    11 Responses to “Mainichi: Justice Minister Hatoyama justifies NJ fingerprinting, alleging ‘friend of a friend’ al-Qaeda link”

    1. Anonymous Says:

      Extraordinary!!!! The more I am hearing about this, the more incensed I am becoming. This is unbelievable and a shame on this country.

    2. Matt Dioguardi Says:

      Debito,

      All your posts on the fingerprint issue are really appreciated. I know it takes time and effort to keep up with issues like this.

      Now let me bring up an issue that the politicians are not mentioning here.

      Economics.

      First, there is the cost of the program. It’s typical pork. It’s hugely expensive. Rest assured certain politicians are benefiting from this pork.

      Second, tourism will likely decline. Less people will visit Japan and spend money there. This has already been discussed here in your blog.

      Third, and most serious, as Japan will appear less hospitable to foreigners, desirable foreigners will be much less likely to make Japan their home.

      I want to explain this third point. When I say desirable foreigner, I want to note that *any* foreigner coming to Japan is desirable by me personally. I don’t care if they lack a formal education and are only coming here to do some type of unskilled work. Fine by me. I wish Japan would allow much more of this. (And these people do contribute to the economy in a positive manner.)

      So when I say desirable, I am talking about from the perspective of the government. Bringing in middle-class, well educated foreigners can contribute significantly to improving Japan’s economy. Not only do these foreigners bring in new ideas, but they are the type of people who substantially invest in the economy. They buy property. They invest in companies. Yet it is precisely this group that will perceive the humiliating fingerprinting program as a threat.

      Can you imagine buying a home or investing in a country, where due to a fluke at the airport you might not even be able to get into the country next time you leave to take a vacation in, say, Hawaii? It’s unimaginable that they would be fingerprinting permanent residents. (Ethics aside, and only from an economic viewpoint), it’s the height of stupidity.

      Japan already has a serious problem with isolationism. A policy like this will only exacerbate the problem more. It will scare off exactly the types of foreigners that Japanese policy makers supposedly want to lure into Japan.

      I doubt though it will seriously have any impact on the demand for and supply of unskilled laborers. (Of course, such hiring are down right illegal at present … but these foreigners will come into Japan whatever the case.)

      Thank you again for all your efforts on this topic. Well done!

    3. Victor Lopes Says:

      The above article says that “Similar measures have been introduced in the United States”.
      There is a big difference, in the United States permanent residents holding a Green Card are not photographed and fingerprinted.

    4. debito Says:

      THE STORY EXPANDS:

      Japan minister in al-Qaeda claim
      BBC NEWS Oct 29, 2007
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7067450.stm

      A Japanese politician has attempted to justify plans to fingerprint foreigners by claiming he knows an al-Qaeda member who entered the country illegally.

      Justice minister Kunio Hatoyama said the man was a “friend of a friend” who was involved in a bomb attack on Bali.

      He produced no evidence to back up his claim, but said it showed the need for stricter checks on overseas visitors.

      Later he appeared to backtrack, stressing he had not met the man and could not verify his friend’s claims.

      ‘Rights violation’

      From 20 November almost all foreign visitors and overseas workers will be photographed and fingerprinted as they enter the country.

      The measures have already proved controversial, with Amnesty International labelling the system as discriminatory and “a violation of basic human rights”.

      But Mr Hatoyama used the story of the al-Qaeda member to argue that the threat of terrorism justified the new measures.

      “My friend’s friend is a member of al-Qaeda. I have never met him, but I heard that two or three years ago he came to Japan several times,” he told a press conference.

      “The fact is that such foreign people can easily enter Japan. In terms of security, this is not a preferable situation.”

      The minister also claimed his friend had warned him of the Bali bombing – although there have been two major terrorist attacks on the Indonesian island in recent years and he did not specify which one he was referring to.

      Later, Mr Hatoyama cast doubt on all of these claims, saying he had been “unclear and misleading”.

      He denied he had been warned of any attack on Bali before it had happened.

      “I myself am not a friend of anyone who is thought to be a member of [al-Qaeda] and I don’t know them personally. I can’t verify the authenticity of what my friend said.”

      Japanese officials plan to check foreigners’ fingerprints against international and domestic crime databases to root out potential terrorists and people with criminal records.

      Certain permanent residents, such as ethnic Koreans and Chinese, will be exempt, alongside diplomatic visitors and children.

      Story from BBC NEWS:
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/7067450.stm

      Published: 2007/10/29 14:37:46 GMT

    5. debito Says:

      THE DEEPER YOU DIG, THE MORE THIS HATOYAMA BLOKE SEEMS A RIGHT TWIT…

      Shuukan Asahi October 26, 2007 P.121~125.

      Title “The Reason I will carry out Executions.”
      Interview with Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama
      Partial translation by Michael H. Fox

      Q: There is a big trend to abolish the death penalty worldwide. Why do you want to keep it in Japan?

      A: The Japanese place so much importance on the value of life, so it is thought that one should pay with one’s life after taking the life of another. You see, the Western nations are civilizations based on power and war. So, conversely, things are moving against the death penalty. This is an important point to understand. The so called civilizations of power and war are opposite (from us). From incipient stages, their conception of the value of life is weaker than the Japanese. Therefore, they are moving toward abolishment of the death penalty. It is important that this discourse on civilizations be understood.

      Q) You are very critical of of the future plan to raise the passing rate for the Bar exam.?

      When we examine the problem from the viewpoint of government and administration, I think that Japanese civilization will suffer the most. As the Japanese respect the value of life, there is a strong and pressing demand to maintain order. Similarly, Japan is a civilization of beauty and compassion, a civilization of harmony. This is not to sanction collusion (dango), but engaging in dialogue and reciprocal understanding is a wonderful characteristic of Japanese civilization. The fact is, since the West is a very dry civilization, it’s all right to take everything to court. This type of thinking will disrupt and erase the very best parts of Japan.

      Comments: Hatoyama continually refers to “the West” as one homogeneous uniform entity. Thus the “civilization” of Rotterdam, Cordoba, Stuttgart, Milan and Minneapolis are singular and the same.

      Michael H. Fox
      Director
      Japan Death Penalty Information Center
      http://www.jdpic.org

    6. debito Says:

      Machimura Warns Japan Minister About Al-Qaeda Remark (Update1)
      By Stuart Biggs and Takashi Hirokawa
      http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=abiCiR5YXFvU&refer=japan

      Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) — Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura cautioned Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama over comments he made yesterday suggesting a “friend of a friend of his” is a member of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

      “It’s very regrettable that he gave an impression Japan’s justice minister knows such terrorists,” Machimura said at a press conference today. “I think his remarks were careless, so I warned him before the Cabinet meeting.”

      Hatoyama told the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan yesterday “a friend of a friend of his” is an al-Qaeda member involved in bombings on Bali and that he was warned to stay away from the Indonesian island because it was being targeted for attack. Hatoyama did not specify which attack he was referring to. Bali has suffered other attacks since terrorists killed 202 people in a bombing at the beach resort of Kuta in October 2002.

      Hatoyama retracted the remarks at a later press conference, saying his friend received the warning about the 2002 bombings, and that he heard about it months after the attack, Kyodo News reported. Hatoyama made the comment in response to a question about the introduction of biometric fingerprinting of foreigners entering Japan from Nov. 20.

      Passports, Moustaches

      “I have never met this person but up until two or three years ago he seems to have been visiting Japan so often,” Hatoyama said through a translator at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club yesterday. “Every time this person enters Japan he uses different passports and moustaches and therefore customs officials are unable to recognize him. It is undesirable for security reasons that such people can enter Japan so easily.”

      Hatoyama said at the later press conference at the Justice Ministry that he heard the anecdotes from his friend, according to the Kyodo report.

      When asked by reporters to comment on the remarks yesterday, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda called on Hatoyama to “deal firmly with immigration control and other issues as Justice Minister” to prevent suspicious persons entering Japan.

      The Indonesian government has blamed Southeast Asian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah for the 2002 bombings in Bali that killed 202 people, 88 of them Australians. Hambali, the group’s alleged operations chief, denied links to al-Qaeda at a U.S. tribunal in Guantanamo Bay.

      To contact the reporters on this story: Stuart Biggs in Tokyo at sbiggs3@bloomberg.net ; Takashi Hirokawa in Tokyo at thirokawa@bloomberg.net .

      Last Updated: October 29, 2007 23:45 EDT

    7. debito Says:

      Fukuda Warns Japan Minister About Remark on Al-Qaeda (Update2)
      By Stuart Biggs and Takashi Hirokawa
      http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=amFDgzcptPm0&refer=japan

      Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) — Japan’s Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda cautioned Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama over comments he made suggesting a “friend of a friend of his” is a member of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

      Hatoyama spoke in “an inappropriate way without taking into account where he was,” Fukuda said at a session of parliament today. “I asked Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura to caution him.”

      Hatoyama told the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan yesterday “a friend of a friend of his” is an al-Qaeda member involved in bombings on Bali and that he was warned to stay away from the Indonesian island because it was being targeted for attack. Hatoyama did not specify which attack he was referring to. Bali has suffered other attacks since terrorists killed 202 people in a bombing at the beach resort of Kuta in October 2002.

      Hatoyama retracted the remarks at a later press conference, saying his friend received the warning about the 2002 bombings, and that he heard about it months after the attack, Kyodo News reported. Hatoyama made the comment in response to a question about the introduction of biometric fingerprinting of foreigners entering Japan from Nov. 20.

      Passports, Moustaches

      “I have never met this person but up until two or three years ago he seems to have been visiting Japan so often,” Hatoyama said through a translator at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club yesterday. “Every time this person enters Japan he uses different passports and moustaches and therefore customs officials are unable to recognize him. It is undesirable for security reasons that such people can enter Japan so easily.”

      Hatoyama said at the later press conference at the Justice Ministry that he heard the anecdotes from his friend, according to the Kyodo report.

      “It’s very regrettable that he gave an impression Japan’s justice minister knows such terrorists,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura told reporters earlier today. “I think his remarks were careless, so I warned him before the Cabinet meeting.”

      The Indonesian government has blamed Southeast Asian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah for the 2002 bombings in Bali that killed 202 people, 88 of them Australians. Hambali, the group’s alleged operations chief, denied links to al-Qaeda at a U.S. tribunal in Guantanamo Bay.

      To contact the reporters on this story: Stuart Biggs in Tokyo at sbiggs3@bloomberg.net ; Takashi Hirokawa in Tokyo at thirokawa@bloomberg.net .

      Last Updated: October 30, 2007 04:24 EDT

    8. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      “And each time he arrived in Japan, he used a different passport,” Hatoyama said.

      In that case, we residents shoule be able to re-enter on the same passport without any hassle, right?

      And Victor, to add to your argument about the US not fingerprinting re-entrants, keep in mind also that arbitrary streetside alien card checks from the police — routine in Japan — would be unthinkable in the US, where Amnesty International and the ACLU would be all over them. In the US the port of entry is strict, but once you’re in, you’re in.

      Here, even after being safely vetted by immigration officials at the airport, you still have to carry around an identity-theft-inviting card with insane amounts of personal info on it wherever you go!

      Why are alien cards not being abolished if the port of entry is going to be this intrusive?

      They’ve taken the most totalitarian aspects of each system and are pawning it off as some kind of international standard.

    9. Andrew Smallacombe Says:

      So the justice minister’s “friend of a friend” is an international terrorist, yet Hatoyama didn’t report it to the appropriate authorities? He’s proved himself unworthy of the post. And proof that targeting NJ will eliminate those with terrorist/criminal connections from entering the country is a fallacy.

      Or did he just make it up to impress the imagined importance of the new system. Then he’s a liar, and unworthy of his post.

      –I JUST THINK HATOYAMA DIDN’T THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE SHOOTING OFF HIS MOUTH. HE’S PART OF THE POLITICAL ELITE, LIVING IN HIS OWN LITTLE DEBATE WORLD, AND NOT USED TO THE PRESS (ESP THE DOCILE J PRESS AND KISHA CLUBS) HOLDING HIS FEET TO THE FIRE LIKE THIS. HIS COMMENTS ABOUT JAPAN VS THE WEST REGARDING THE VALUE OF LIFE (SEE EARLIER COMMENTS IN THIS POST) ARE PROBABLY COMMON CURRENCY IN THE TOP ECHELONS OF THE LDP, INDICATIVE OF HOW CLOSED-CIRCUIT THE DISCUSSION CIRCLES ARE THIS HIGH UP. BUT EXPOSE THEM TO A BIT OF LIGHT AND YOU SEE HOW FAR REMOVED THESE PEOPLE ARE FROM REALITY. YET THEY ARE THE ONES VOTING ON POLICY. ARUDOU DEBITO

    10. Daniel j. Says:

      1. If he really has that connection, he should be thoroughly investigated. In America, he would already be under close surveillance for anything close to a terrorist connection. (and he volunteered the info! DUH!)

      2. He may be totally making it up. Japanese politicians do it all the time-it is part of the system. It is rarely challenged.

      3. Who would even want to terrorize Japan? NOBODY CARES about Japan enough.

    11. ralph Says:

      I think we ought to know who Hatoyama’s mysterious friend is.
      Is he Japanese? Come on, Hatoyama-san, tell us! If he is Japanese, then of course, it’s OK, because he couldn’t possibly be a terrorist himself, could he?….

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