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  • Community: Olaf & Tony on ironies of Fingerprinting & foreign crime in Japan

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on November 27th, 2007

    Hi Blog. You’ve probably wondered why I’ve reverted back to my “one-a-day” blogging style, in the face of all this news. It’s because I’m doing this blog entirely by myself, and I don’t have the time and energy to work at the computer constantly for weeks (plus with speeches coming up just about every weekend these days, I haven’t had a full “day off” in several weeks); I even went to bed at 9PM last night and didn’t open my eyes until 7AM this morning. Guess I’m getting old.

    Anyhoo, some good comments from The Community internet volunteer group this morning on the Fingerprinting policy and foreign crime in Japan:

    Olaf wrote:
    ==============================
    I just sent this out as a Letter to the Editor at the Japan Times:

    The timing [of the Fingerprint Policy] couldn’t be more ironic. While Japan is ratifying and implementing laws to cut into the privacy of foreigners in Japan, forcing tax-paying, law-abiding, decade-long foreign residents to yield their fingerprints at immigration, Japanese gangsters are shooting and killing right and left. Hospital patients, city majors fall victims to Japanese criminals well known to the police. The police know their names, headquarters and that they own arsenals of deadly weapons. Instead of spying after innocent residents, the police should smoke out the gangster’s rat holes, arrest and persecute them. Only after that is done, I will consider giving my fingerprints.
    ==============================
    Tony wrote:
    ==============================
    It struck me this morning, watching the TOKUDANE programme coverage of the “accidental” hospital shooting, as one of the talking heads pointed out that ‘the police simply “designate” yakusa and members of “shitei bouryoku dan” and do nothing to actually round them up’; Organised crime syndicates get better treatment from the Japanese police than foreigners do! Maybe we should organise ourselves into a gang and then the police might leave us alone to get about our daily lives – no more “carding”, and we would get to ride our bicycles with impunity!

    Debito, feel like changing your name again to “Don Debitone”??

    Another comment in the same program that struck me as surreal – in the coverage of the disappearance of a Kikawa Ken grandmother and her two granddaughters, the neighbours have reported hearing a man shout “Hayou senka?” which is a local dialect phrase for “hurry up!” The reporter said in all seriousness that “since this was a little known west country dialect, it could be assumed that the perpetrators were probably not foreigners”.

    I wondered to myself, has it really come to the stage that the default assumption in a serious crime is that foreigners are involved?
    ==============================

    COMMENT: And I wondered to myself, the NPA still haven’t apprehended the prime suspect, Ichihashi Tatsuya (who last March reportedly fled barefoot from his apartment containing her body when 9 police visited) in the Lindsay Ann Hawker murder case. Yet the police will hold a person for a year without any physical evidence (no bail for foreigners, mind you) in the Idubor Case. And there’s still nobody arrested in the death last June of sumo wrestler Tokitaizan, who was savaged to death by his stablemates (and stablemaster Tokitsukaze, who even publicly admitted to bludgeoning him with a beer bottle the day before his death). Where’s the consistency? Why are criminal investigations drawn along nationality lines?

    Funny old world out there. Pity it’s (increasingly incontrovertibly) stacked against the foreigner in Japan. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    24 Responses to “Community: Olaf & Tony on ironies of Fingerprinting & foreign crime in Japan”

    1. Steve Koya Says:

      Hello Hello,

      It is not really surprising that we are now treated in this manner. Even though there are 400,000 of us normal permenant residents, we are dispersed across the land, with no common link.

      The reason the Special Permenant Residents get the cop out clause, is that they are a highly organasied association. They have a membership of only 65,000, but that is 90% of their group. They collect fees, which are used to fund their activities, but more than anything, to support various lobbying activities and politicians.

      The only way that this law will be ammened will be through pressure on the Legislative arm to change it. Going to court will never work, as there is a separation of powers here. Pressure on the political arm, whether from inside or outside, will be the only way to get the changes made.

      An association of 400,000 members, with fees collected and used for lobbying, would be a more powerful voice than even the Yakuza, and one that would be difficult to ignore, and certainly one that would be difficult to put on, as much as we are now.

      We also need some high profile foreigners here to get in the news. Asashoru will be back this week, lets see what happens there, or are we going to see some nice special treatment. Footballers, Baseballers, Actors, Presenters, there are plenty of us around.

      Why do we just sit back and let is happen.

      Lets get active!

      Steve Koya
      Sapporo

    2. Adam Says:

      Steve great comment. Debito you are so right. Today morning they were saying on the radio that man stabbed people (one serious) in Osaka after he has stolen 1.5mln yen from postman. They got him at subways station. They did not mention nationality, but I`m sure it was another “sick” mentally” Japanese.
      As Steve said we should organize ourselves better as “zainichi” do. I always pass this website to everyone I know. More people know this, more may join forces.
      Steve any idea where to start? Not just collect fees and talk, but do something about it. I don`t care about visitors, I care about us PRs and other legal residents here, first of all spouses who are separated at Narita

    3. Turner Says:

      That’s unbelievable about that default-foreigner-criminal comment. The US may not be a shining example, but still, the media there is so cannibalistic it would be replayed by every news organization within a day.

      It’s depressing to walk past the central police station and see the poster for Ichihashi Tatsuya in Kagoshima… honestly, they have no leads whatsoever.

      –RUMOR HAS IT THAT HE IS ON THE LAM, RECEIVING FUNDS FROM FAMILY MEMBERS THROUGH QUIET TRANSFERS TO HIS BANK ACCOUNT. EVEN THEN, THEY STILL CAN’T CATCH HIM. PRETTY AMAZING. DEBITO

    4. Greg M Says:

      I’m all for a PR organization.
      I’m a tax-paying law abiding citizen and former president of the neighborhood association where I live. Now I’m treated like a criminal.

    5. Netko Says:

      Is there ANY already existing association of foreign permanent residents in Japan? Has anyone ever heard of any?

      Perhaps this is a naive comment, but I have heard of Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan, but I don’t know if just about any non-Japanese permanent resident can join and in what way…
      I know they publish books and periodicals – I have bought a couple of those, but has anyone joined this network or any other organization ever?

      I’ve been here for almost 10 years now and only 2 years ago I learned about THIS Web site, debito.org!
      I can only imagine there are many of our fellow “foreigners” who don’t know even about this site yet, especially people from non-English speaking countries… Multilingual approach may be necessary (Japanese included). (There aren’t so many foreign permanent residents who come from English speaking countries, I think.) I was only lucky I knew some English and had a professor here who told me about the site. How many people are reading this site, I wonder. For a start, all of us could start organizing.

      –I’D BE HAPPY TO HELP FACILITATE IN ANY WAY POSSIBLE. THE ONLY REASON I HAVEN’T STARTED ANYTHING LIKE AN NGO (I DID START THE COMMUNITY INTERNET VOLUNTEER GROUP BACK IN 1999) IS BECAUSE I’M NOT INTERESTED IN HANDLING MONEY. IT’S NOT SOMETHING I CAN DO BY MYSELF. ARE THERE ANY PEOPLE OUT THERE WITH “TREASURER” CAPABILITIES–DEGREES/QUALIFICATIONS IN ACCOUNTING AND WHATNOT, WHO’D BE WILLING TO HELP START SOMETHING? LET US KNOW (OR ME AT DEBITO@DEBITO.ORG).

    6. vegetablej Says:

      Good comments. I agree about the policing, or lack of it, and have been posting about it and other things on my blog for a few days. I will continue to do so until this gets resolved, or I leave Japan, and maybe not even then, if the present law is in still in place.

      I live in Kagawa and work in a school in Sakaide, where the grandmother and two young children disappeared leaving a bloodstained house. I consider it shocking that there are no leads, because apparently it happened in a neighborhood, and Sakaide is not that large. The comment about “not being a foreigner” is almost laughable when you understand that there can’ t be more than a handful or so of “foreigners” living there.

      I consider the very spotty coverage of the fingerprinting issue, which is of continuing importance to me, to be extremely negligent of the media. In fact I sent a letter to the Japan Times a few days ago telling them that though I have been a regular customer for a long time, I won’t be buying any more papers until they get this issue and the protest about it on the front page. Nothing yet.

      I agree wholeheartedly that organizing into some sort of formal body is the only way we will be able to get together and get a voice loud enough to make a difference.

    7. HO Says:

      Debito, don’t listen to rumors and see the reality. Ichihashi’s bank accounts are long been frozen. Banks are generally cooperative to the police and show them each debit and credit of customer’s accounts. If he uses an ATM, he will be arrested on the spot. Fictitious name accounts are not available unless he has a phony ID, which is unlikely since he does not seem to get some help from organized crime groups. He is more likely to be dead by now than alive and hiding.

      If you are amazed by Ichihashi’s case, you will be stunned by the fact, in the US, hundreds of criminals are missing after they were bailed out, even though their names, face photos, fingerprints and social security numbers are all known to the police. Debito, be fair.

      As to Kagawa case, didn’t the reporter say “the perpetrators were probably not strangers” rather than “the perpetrators were probably not foreigners“?
      Right now, the media are speculating a family member of the victims is the perp. (Such speculation itself is a problem.)Since they can not say so openly, they say something like “no stranger” to hint the public. In this case, the media do not mean to hurt any foreigners.

      –GOTCHA. THANKS FOR THE FEEDBACK. DEBITO

    8. 1TruthTeller Says:

      Debito,
      I think you are correct that Ichihashi Tatsuya is being supported by friends. Personally I think he’s masquerading as a woman, and of course, Japan’s finest are looking for a man. Where are the Mounties when we need them? Oh, I forgot, they’re off tazering people in and around Vancouver!

    9. Another John Says:

      First off, bravo post, Ho. This is true…we have to be fair and not let emotions cloud our judgment. This is a very subjective issue and it stirs deep feelings on both sides. Don’t fall victim to it.

      Secondly, regarding some sort of association, I agree with the PR thing, but let me take it one step further. I would venture that one of the primary aims should be to highlight the good things that foreigners in Japan are doing in the nation. Get the word out to sympathetic media outlets to counter the negative impressions out there and nullify bullheaded comments by culturally-challenged, but yet popular, politicians such as Hatoyama and Ishihara. Focus on the foreigners who are making positive contributions and impacts to Japan society and show Japan that we do have a valid, honest, invaluable – and irreversible – stake in this nation’s future.

    10. vegetablej Says:

      Typical one-sided coverage from “Views on the Street and the current “Zeit Gist” in The Japan Times. Seems they think this fluff is real news coverage. Shows how seriously they take it all.

      http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20071127vf.html

    11. Steve Koya Says:

      Hello, Hello.

      Well lets get this Association off the ground then. Dave, I have done treasury work for a “Shadan Houjin” for the last 3 years, NPO/NGO is not much different.

      Also as Another John says, there are many ways that the association can work. Of course getting real information out there is important. We need to get a charter up, with a list of goals etc anyway. Finger printing is just one aspect, with an association we can clamp down on “No Foreginers” discriminatory activiites, get voting rights for Permenant residents ( US Green card holders get them ), etc, etc….

      Finally as a media specialist I have to tell you who do not know, but all the mass media in Japan is controlled by the copnaies that pay for adverts, they will not right something that may offend the payrollers. Japanese media is not “Free”. Recently however I have been involved with Oh My News International, they are a worldwide ” Citizen Journalism” on-line newspaper, who started in Korea.

      They covered the protest on the 20th,

      http://www.ohmynews.co.jp/generalHTML.aspx?File=REGIST

      and are continuing to cover the story. Very objective journalism, more of what we need. Also, anyone can sign up to do a report!

      I have always refused the Japan Times, they are biased, and usually 2 days old with the news, a total waste of time, even their jobs page sucks ( Used to be the only reason to buy it, and then only on a Monday ) Start a boycott. They SHOULD be the voice of the foreign community here! Cancel your subscriptions today, hit them where it hurts, if they have no circulation, they will loose sponsers…

      I am up for getting this started, anyone willing to join?

      Put it this way, what else can we do to secure the rights of our children, and our childrens children, born and raised here, but forever the foreigner.

      Hell even the US allows dual citizanship.

      Steve Koya
      Sapporo

    12. ralph Says:

      Steve, I for one would be happy to join such an association.
      After 34 years in Japan I reckon it is about time I had some rights. In fact I seem to be losing those minimal ones I thought I had…
      When I first moved to Kamakura some 25 years ago, I was still interested in keeping fit by playing table tennis. So I went to the Kamakura Municipal Gymnasium to join. The man at the desk said no foreigners. I asked why not. He said it was because foreigners were unable to read the rules as they were in Japanese.
      I asked to look at them and read them out loud to him. After extreme shock, he confessed that, yes, I could indeed read them, but if they allowed me in, then that would be discrimination (sabetsu) against those foreigners who couldn’t. Such brilliant Japanese logic that there was nothing I could say! And I never did keep fit.
      I think many “old-timers” like me tended to lie low and take it as part of the deal of living here. But why should we any more!!!
      So, Steve form your association! I think there are many like me who would come out of the anonimity closet to join. Give us the details when you have them.

      –I HAVE JUST CONTACTED STEVE DIRECTLY. GOOD THING HE’S IN SAPPORO TOO. WE’LL MEET AND LET EVERYONE KNOW. ANYONE ELSE INTERESTED?

      PS: LOVE THE LOGIC. CAN’T WIN.

    13. Netko Says:

      Would love to join!
      I have been in Japan since less than 10 years, married to Japanese national, have a child and am a PR. I have also experienced a great deal of things I consider discriminating; once I was even not allowed to enter my spouse’s workplace although I had family-member ID for that purpose and showed it to the guards, while other people with the same type of ID just went in, in front of me… At the local univerisity in Kyushu, at first I was refused from applying because “Only Japanese graduates can apply.” Had troubles rending a place to live in Tokyo this year… etc. etc. I am also fed up with this and would like see things change for better. If I can be a part of making it happen, I’m in.
      Actually, I am currently out of the country (among other things hoping to get my Master’s degree abroad), but will sure be returning to Japan. However, at least I can pay the membership fee and, if needed, help with translations (not only English and Japanese) – to advertise the association etc, for example. I would also do any other necessary thing that is in my power.

      –BRAVO! THIS IS THE SORT OF SPIRIT WHICH GETS THINGS LAUNCHED! THANKS!!

    14. Lionel Dersot Says:

      Keep me in the loop for the association. Thanks.

      Lionel Dersot

    15. Adam Says:

      I will go for association too. Let`s get together PRs :)

    16. Ryan Says:

      I’m rather young and inexperienced, but next year I’m hoping to work in Japan in a university teaching English. I’ve been studying Japanese pretty diligently (although still not perfect, yet having learnt kanji, so the real hurdle left is vocabulary) for about four and a half years and would love to help out where I can.

      Since I will soon be having my own personal stake professionally and personally in Japan, I would love to be able to help out where I can. I’ve become interested in philanthropy as a life work sort of thing as well, and I can guarantee that I would work out some sort of regular contribution where I can.

      So while at the moment, I’m finishing grad school and getting prepared to make my way over there, I would love to do anything that could use some work. Please keep us posted! I am interested in contributing to the cause!

    17. vegetablej Says:

      Yes. I’m interested.You have my email; please contact me if this gets started. Anything I can do, I will.

    18. Steve Koya Says:

      Hello, Hello.

      Debito has been in touch, and we will meet up soon.
      Hopefully we can get things going before the end of the year!

      Steve Koya
      Sapporo

    19. Another John Says:

      Yeah, I’m in.
      Actually, doesn’t this topic deserve a blog entry of its own, instead of just being a conversation thread attached to a blog entry?

      –GOOD IDEA. I’LL SEE TO DOING SOMETHING BY THE END OF TODAY. GOT THE NEWSLETTER RIGHT NOW AWAITING FORMATTING, THEN BUSY DAY. DEBITO

    20. Another John Says:

      Steve,
      I just took a stab at a mission statement and sent it to Debito; hopefully it will be posted on the blog later. He can share it with you – take a look if you can/want and I guess we can exchange email addresses through Debito if interested.

    21. Tanuki Says:

      While I love the idea to organize ourselves, I have one thing I want to share: I understand that most of you (meaning the commenters) are permanent residents, but even though I’ve been living in Japan for “only” 5 years and am not married to a Japanese person (I was planning to settle here for good. Now I’m not so sure about it though), I also feel offended and degraded by the new fingerprinting law. I’m sure there are many more people like me, that would also like to feel they’re represented by any organization that tries to fight the injustice.

      What I’m trying to say is that while I understand that for a permanent resident with a Japanese spouse and children the degradation and anger feel much more severe than for the likes of me, I’d still like you all to remember your 後輩 who still have to spend some more time here before they get PR status and rights to protest even louder than they already are (my, was that a long sentence! ^-^)

      Chris in Utsunomiya

      –I THOUGHT OF THAT TOO. I THINK THAT WE SHOULD PROBABLY MAKE THE QUALIFICATION FOR JOINING A TOTAL OF FIVE YEARS’ JAPAN RESIDENCE–SOMETHING THAT WOULD QUALIFY YOU FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCY ANYWAY. BUT I HAVEN’T YET READ STEVE KOYA’S PROPOSAL, AND HE MIGHT HAVE INCLUDED THAT ANYWAY. THANKS FOR THE INPUT AT THIS NACENT STAGE. DEBITO

    22. Stephanie Says:

      Steve, this is a great idea. Looking forward to reading Another John’s draft mission statement!

    23. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      May I suggest three or four years as a suitable definition of “long term”?

      Three years is the maximum length of time that you can contribute into the pension system and still get all your money back if you leave the country. Longer than that, and you’re committed to either throwing away pension payments to the Japanese govierment, or staying until your own retirement.

      I think everyone who’s irrevocably financially invested in Japan (whether they want to be or not) should be able to protest. A four-year veteran, despite not yet being eligible for PR, will lose pension payments if he leaves or is deported.

      –MY RESERVATION ABOUT DRAWING THE LINE AT THREE OR FOUR YEARS IS THAT EXPERIENCE DICTATES THAT PEOPLE HERE FOR LESS THAN, SAY, ABOUT FIVE YEARS STILL HAVEN’T WORKED OUT WHETHER OR NOT THEY’RE HERE FOR THE LONG TERM (I BET *VERY* FEW PEOPLE EVEN THINK AS FAR AHEAD AS PENSIONS AT THE THREE- OR FOUR-YEAR STAGE!).

      I WOULD LIKE MEMBERS TO HAVE HAD A LONG ENOUGH TIME HERE–SO THEY HAVE WORKED OUT WHETHER OR NOT THEY BELONG HERE OR ARE WILLING TO MAKE THE PERSONAL INVESTMENT TO STAY. IF THEY HAVEN’T, WE’RE GOING TO BE “REINVENTING THE WHEEL” WITH RELATIVE NEWBIES OVER MANY ISSUES, SUCH AS “GUESTISM” (WHETHER OR NOT WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO CRITICIZE OUR “HOSTS” AT ALL), FOR EXAMPLE. FIVE YEARS MINIMUM IS GENERALLY THE LINE DRAWN BY THE GOVERNMENT FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCY. I THINK THAT’S THE BETTER, MORE DEFENSIBLE ONE TO DRAW OURSELVES.

      ANYWAY, THIS IS STILL MYSELF SPEAKING AS AN INDIVIDUAL, NOT WITH ANY CONSULTATION WITH PEOPLE INTERESTED IN FOUNDING THIS ORGANIZATION. I MEANT TO DO SOMETHING ON IT (SUCH AS CREATING A SEPARATE BLOG ENTRY) TONIGHT, BUT I GOT BOGGED DOWN WITH EDITING MY PODCAST (THE SOFTWARE JUST CRASHED, MEANING I LOST THREE HOURS OF WORK, AND I’M HOPPING MAD!) TOMORROW, THEN. SORRY FOR THE DELAY. DEBITO

    24. The Foreigner Formerly Known As "Human Being" Says:

      Steve Koya is right.

      The “Zainichi” Korean organizations are given special treatment (even though their members are arguably lower on the Japanese scorn ladder than the Western foreigner, and even though some members support North Korea) because:

      1. The “Zainichi” are a major source of funds, both legal and illegal, for politicians.

      2. The “Zainichi” protests are just threatening enough to scare Japanese without triggering a police backlash. No Gandhi tactics. No begging for “mutual understanding”.

      Look at the anti-whaling organizations. 20 years of appealing to the non-existent conscience of the Japanese government got them a lot of dead whale carcasses. Hurling putrid waste and smoke bombs, however, put the Japanese whalers on the defensive. Like the “Zainichi,” the anti-whale organizations have raised the level of confrontation.

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