Hi Blog. Here’s a great little report from friend Steve King, on how he dealt with gaijin-carding police (and very well, too, to my mind). Great story, and questions asked properly and to the letter. Don’t make a racially-profiling J cop’s job easier. Make sure you let them know you know your rights.
Interestingly enough, Steve’s cop indicated that he would be carding Japanese citizens too. This is actually illegal under Japanese Law for citizens unless there is probable cause, so it’s probably a lie. But if a representative of the almighty police in this country are becoming that insistent, I guess when it happens to me (and you just know it’s going to, again), it’s going be worked out down at the Cop Shop… Ulp.
Anyway, Steve’s report follows, along with a letter he sent regarding this incident to the Japan National Tourist Organization. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
Subject: Carded for the First Time
Date: December 17, 2007 11:34:43 AM JST
Had an interesting encounter outside JR Koenji Station in Tokyo on my way to work this morning – I got ‘Gaijin Carded’ for the first time in over 11 years of living in Japan. I am now no longer a ‘Gaijin Card Virgin’ :O)
A few things were interesting. First up, he – a Mr. Akiyasu Nishimura of Suginami Ward Police Office – asked for my passport, not my Alien Reg. Card. When I said I didn’t have it, he asked if I was a Japanese Citizen. When I replied that I am not a Japanese Citizen, he asked for my passport again.
I asked him why (in Japanese) and he just said, in English, ‘Because of Japanese Law’. So I asked his name and for his ID, which he produced with a smile and I jotted down his name. Then I said that since I lived in Japan, I don’t carry my passport around with me so I’ll be on my way. Then he caught up with me again and asked for my Alien Reg. Card. I asked him why, and again he repeated the reason, ‘because it’s the law’…
I then asked him if he was also asking Japanese citizens randomly on the street to produce ID. To my great surprise, he said that he was. He claimed to also be asking Japanese people to produce their Health Insurance, Driving Licenses and such.
To cut a long story short (this exchange went back and forth for about 10 minutes or so), he said it was the law for Foreign Nationals to carry their Alien Reg. Card and that he needed to see mine. I eventually relented and showed him my card, which he didn’t seem to really show much interest in, just giving it a perfunctory glance.
At the end I asked him if he wasn’t ashamed to harass people on the street for their ID on their way to work and what this means for the Japan Tourist Board’s ‘Yokoso Japan’ activities. He just shrugged and said well, you might carry your Alien Reg. Card but there are many others that don’t, and we don’t know until we ask..
He was a pleasant enough fellow and smiled throughout the exchange and of course, is just another guy carrying out the policies and orders of others, but I can’t say I enjoyed the experience of being carded outside the station I use every morning and a small crowd of onlookers gathering to see what the fuss is about..
I’m sure you’ve read many such anecdotes, but I wonder if it’s interesting to you that he asked if I was a Japanese citizen? Maybe the police have gotten wind of your campaigning on the basis of not judging a person’s citizenship status by skin colour alone and asked the police to check first? I dunno..
Also, what do you think of this guy’s insistence that he was also stopping and questioning Japanese citizens? I stopped and watched him from a suitable vantage point for a few minutes and watched him – he certainly didn’t stop any Japanese people during that time. Was this not a blatant lie on his part?
Anyway, given any more thought to running for office yet?
PS: Now I think back to it, what I think he meant was (his English wasn’t great and he insisted on using it despite my demonstrably more than passable Japanese) that if he encountered a ‘foreign-looking’ person who claimed to be a Japanese citizen, he would then ask for some ID in order to obtain proof of this. I don’t think he meant that he would be as likely to stop ‘Japanese looking’ people on the street randomly.
Incidentally, there are four foreign staff where I work. Out of the four, three have been carded in this way over the last month or so (One guy got carded twice in one day, at his home station and at Koenji). The only one of us four foreigners working here who hasn’t been carded is a Nisei Japanese American. The guy that gets carded the most is an Australian of Lebanese extraction. SK
Hi Debito, In a bad and sarcastic mood after this morning, I decided to email JNTO UK about the ‘Yokoso Japan’ campaign. I BCCd you on it. Feel free to pass it on to others who may want to contact JNTO Offices in their own home countries. List here:
From: Steve King
Subject: “Yokoso Japan”
Date: December 17, 2007 9:29:42 PM JST
Dear Sir / Madam,
Re: Police / Immigration harassment of Foreign Nationals and the “Yokoso Japan” campaign.
I am writing to express my concern over the recent increase in the harassment, invasion of privacy, humiliation and general unfriendliness on the part of the Japanese government, police and immigration officials towards foreign nationals in Japan, and the effect this will have on your otherwise laudable “Yokoso Japan” campaign.
As you will be aware, since the end of last month foreign nationals have been required to undertake mandatory fingerprint checks at international airport checks throughout Japan, despite no clear or sensible rationale for this measure being offered by the Japanese government for its implementation. “Yokoso” in English of course means “Welcome”, and one wonders precisely how welcome tourists from the UK visiting Japan for the first time must feel after they step off the plane at Narita Airport and have to undergo this kind of humiliation.
I, however, am not a tourist in Japan, but a British National who is a long term resident. Today I was stopped outside of JR Koenji police station by a member of the Tokyo Suginami Ward Police Department, who subjected me to a series of questions and demands that I produce my Alien Registration Card for him to see. This has been happening a lot recently, and several of my colleagues have experienced similar kinds of hassle and intrusion into our lives. No clear explanation from the Japanese government has been offered to the foreign community for this. Is this “Yokoso Japan”? I certainly don’t feel very “Welcome”.
If this continues, I suggest that JNTO abandons the “Yokoso Japan” campaign as it is obvious to everyone that Japan does not, in fact, welcome foreigners. May I suggest an alternative campaign?
I suggest you re-title the campaign “Japan ni Konaide!”, and perhaps the following ideas for a poster campaign may be appropriate:
1. Instead of a picture of Mt. Fuji’s serene beauty, you could have a picture of foreign tourists being fingerprinted by uniformed officials at Narita Airport. The caption reads, “We think you’re all criminals. Please don’t come here”
2. Instead of a picture of a peaceful garden in a Kyoto temple, you could picture a foreigner being questioned by a policeman for no good reason on the street in the rain. The caption reads, “If you don’t look Japanese, our Police Force have some unwelcome questions for you”
3. Instead of a picture of an inviting plate of sushi, I suggest a picture of a family deciding whether to visit Japan or not, poring over some brochures. The caption reads, “Hmmmm.. No, I don’t think so. I’ve heard the people are not so friendly or welcoming”
Indeed, several of my family members in the UK were planning to visit Japan next April and spend a couple of weeks here. I’ve decided to tell them to cancel that trip, and we will all fly to Thailand instead. The people and government of Thailand have a much more welcoming and mature attitude towards people who visit their fine country.
Best Regards, Steve King, Fuchu City, Tokyo, Japan.
27 comments on “Steve King on Gaijin Carding experience: Racially-Profiling Japanese citizens too? Plus his protest letter to JNTO”
You certainly handled it much better than I probably would have. If you have the time and energy, and the desire to take such action, perhaps you might consider lodging some sort of formal complaint with the police station where the officer is employed. I am hopeful that an increase in foreigners complaining about unfair treatment (“unfair” used loosely here, as the officer’s actions may very well have been illegal) may lead to a decrease in such racial profiling.
On two occasions where I’ve been asked to produce an alien registration card in the past 18 months, stating that I was a Japanese citizen was sufficient to cut the enquiry dead. If they do start demanding proof of that (however legally questionable that may be), it’s going to be very hard to do so. Having a Japanese name on a health card can simply mean you’ve registered a tsusho, and newer issued driving licences apparently no longer have the honseki on them for privacy reasons. It would be very sad if the likes of Debito and myself have to resort to carrying our passports around with us all the time.
Do you know the penalty for refusing to show the gaijin card?
1 year or less in prison with work, fine of 200,000 yen or less, or both. (Alien Registration Law article 18 paragraph 1 item 7)
Police officers have the right to arrest a foreigner who refuses to show a gaijin card, on the spot without a warrant.
Certain risk is involved in this game. If I have a complaint about the police, I would contact a Prefectural Assembly Member, since Prefectural Assembly is the body that oversees the police.
EXCELLENT ADVICE. THANKS FOR THIS.
Doesn’t he have to suspect you of committing a crime before he asks? I was never carded when I lived in Japan, but I would be sure to ask what the reason was if ever it had happened. I don’t think “not carrying your gaijin card – because it’s the law” cuts it.
The only place I have ever been carded is JR Nagoya station. Has anybody else been carded here? I know at least three other people who have been. Each time the police officer uses the same excuse that “there are many foreigners who never went home after the Aichi Expo”. This is still in use as of this year. I hear from a friend in Nagoya that Aichi police have also cited the high number of Brazilians in Aichi as the reason to stop people.
Thanks for the comments. Of course, I played it all back in my mind and time and time again, all sorts of ideas about smart retorts I could have made, sucker-punch comments I could have thrown about all came to mind hours after the event.
It was a really depressing and humiliating experience. All I wanted to do was get myself off to work and start a busy day and for no good reason I had this clown in my face at 8:45 on a Mondaty morning.
I really hope it never happens to me again.
the only place I was ever carded (except at my own home by snoopy cops) was JR Nagoya as well. Although I didn’t get the Expo rationale. I was told I was acting suspicious, and they were doing a terror check!! I was wearing a suit, waiting for my girlfriend, holding a dozen roses, and waiting by the golden clock alongside a few hundred Japanese doing the same thing. Suspicious?!?!
Yup I was stopped at Nagoya station and another time in my local neighbourhood walking with my Japanese wife buying bread (not dangerous or explosive bread I hasten add) , I took their Ids but it ruined my whole day!. No apology or summimasen after it, GRRR!, this kind of thing just niggles at you, chips away at my liking for my adopted home, and lessens my inclination to call the police If I ever have to help a Japanese citizen who is a victim of a crime.
Dont trust the Japanese police one little bit, Useless the lot of them.
Dont they have anything better to do . This type of harresment builds up over the years and when communities feel they have no voice/rights …Riots!,
Japan your building up trouble for yourself. I predict It will kick off in Aichi First!
My country Britain went throught this in the early 1980s and Britain now has (for the most part) a great multicutural identity, which Im extremely proud of.
Before I came to Japan I had no Idea how racist some strands of Japanese Government/society are
If I told people in Britain I have been refused accomodation/stopped in the street refused entrance to a restaurant etc etc because of my race people would be open jawed in disbelief , that there is no law on discrimination, I feel like im living back in the 1980s
Steve, first of all, great job on giving the police as much guff as you could before having to submit to their illegal demands. Just curious, but did you actually mention the Police Execution of Duties Law (Article 2) and how this questioning was in violation of it?
I find it ironic that a non-citizen who refuses to show ID can be fined and imprisoned, yet a police officer who demands said ID without cause and in contradiction to the laws governing his own position will probably not face any punishment whatsoever.
Dealing with these people is very stressful — I’ve foind that my heart rate goes up insanely just by offering a single word of protest. I don’t think I could sustain 10 minutes, and I have Article 2 almost memorized. These days I find myself going to the other side of the street if there’s a koban nearby, just to avoid these harassing clowns.
Still amazes me to hear that this happens in Japan. The idea of a police officer in America asking randomly on the street for someones proof of legal residency such as the “green card” is obsurd. I can’t believe it is legal to ask for someone ID just based on the fact that they “look foreign”.
It really is not just a simple fear of the NJ but it is outright racism.
No, in America police pull over people because they’re black or because they’re young, etc. Afraid to say it, but American police have their problems as well. They might not stop someone for looking foreign, but I’d actually be curious to see how they would react to a large group of people dressed in traditional Muslim clothing.
I find it laughable that Mr. Nishimura said that he was also randomly checking up on Japanese people. Seriously? Really?
It is painfully plain to see that these gaijin carders are picking out foreigners based on what they look like. From my experience living in Japan, there are 3 groups of non-Japanese: Chinese, Koreans and Foreigners (i.e. the ones that don’t blend in).
As an NJ that blends in, I am curious to know how many of us Undercover NJ have managed to escape being carded. I have only lived in Japan for about 4 years, but I would be surprised if anyone carded me — or any other Asian-looking types — in the street. How great must these cops’ Gai(外)-dar be?
It makes me furious that people are seen to be suspicious based purely on their looks. Or that one skin colour could be less threatening than another.
Since NJ are seen to be up to no good all the time, shouldn’t police also be checking up on EVERYONE just in case they happen to be an Undercover NJ? A potential threat to society like myself? And hey, if a few actual Japanese get carded accidentally, it’s all for the good of the nation, so people should understand and be accepting of it. Right?
People may have different views, but the police maintains the interpretation of laws that gaijin card check is not limited to the case of article 2 of Police Execution of Duties Law. I think almost all judges will support the police’s view.
Another point is that article 2 of Police Execution of Duties Law allows police officers to stop and question possible eyewitnesses or informants as well as probable suspects. So, probable cause is not really necessary for the stop and question.
Jon, please have a look at the paragraph “Carry Evidence at All Times” in the following page about the US green card.
It seems they have started checking green cards since 9/11.
The penalty for not carrying green cards in the US is fine not to exceed $100, imprisonment not more than 30 days, or both.
8 USC Section 1304(e)
–WE’VE DISCUSSED THIS THING ABOUT GREEN CARDS IN THE U.S. BEFORE, H.O. WE NEED SOME EVIDENCE THAT THE SAME THING IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING. NOT JUST THAT LEGALLY IT CAN HAPPEN. ON THE BOOKS AND ACTUAL ENFORCEMENT ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.
AND EVEN IF IT IS HAPPENING, THAT DOESN’T MEAN IT SHOULD AND WE SHOULD JUST ACCEPT IT. AND IT ISN’T, ANYWAY. RUNNING DRAGNETS ON INNOCENT PEOPLE JUST ON THE OFF-CHANCE YOU’LL CATCH A CROOK IS NOT HAPPENING TO THE SAME DEGREE (OR AT ALL, REALLY) TO THE JAPANESE-LOOKING POPULATION AS IT IS TO THE FOREIGN-LOOKING POPULATION. BY DEFINITION OF RACIAL PROFILING AND GAIJIN-CARD CHECKING.
AND “POSSIBLE EYEWITNESSES AND INFORMANTS” MEANS SOMETHING HAPPENED–THAT PEOPLE SAW AND COULD INFORM ABOUT. THAT MEANS PROBABLE CAUSE. THIS IS NOT THE SAME AS A RANDOM GAIJIN CARD CHECK. JUST WALKING WHILE FOREIGN DOES NOT AMOUNT TO PROBABLE CAUSE.
DOES THIS REALLY NEED TO BE SPELLED OUT TO YOU? OR ARE YOU JUST QUIBBLING? IF THE LATTER, KNOCK IT OFF. I DISLIKE PEOPLE NOT USING REAL NAMES OR EMAIL ADDRESSES ANYWAY (AS YOU ARE), ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY BEGIN POSTING TROLL-LIKE COMMENTS. IF THIS KEEPS UP, I WON’T APPROVE ANY MORE OF YOUR MESSAGES.
Seems that the cops are hanging around train stations carding any NJ who passes through, as I’ve heard that non-uniformed police (although they produced “ID” when asked) are lurking around Kyoto station and there are uniformed cops here in Yokaichi, where there are several large factories and large numbers of Brazilian etc workers surprise surprise, hanging around the station carding people. In fact, they’re carding the same people twice within an hour!
Perhaps they have a “Carding” quota to fill and head to the easiest spot to nab bunches of NJ?
While I’ve been stopped only once and asked for ID for no apparent reason, I got out of producing it by saying that my gringo card was at the Town Office being updated. Which is not how the Town Office does it!
In my experience of police here, they are liars and incompetent as well as almost totally ignorant of the laws of their own country! The less you have to do with them, even when you are 100% in the right, the better. Lodging complaints against them will get you absolutely nowhere – been there, done that, got nowhere.
I think in the end we have to keep up pressure on the GOJ on a larger stage, as it were, to resolve the issues but protect ourselves on a personal level by just going along with their little games and handing the cards over with a minimum of fuss and noise.
Sorry,but this last post from Ke5in is absolute nonsense.
ive never posted here before but this has annoyed me so much i am
making a virgin post.
Things will never get any better if you just hand over your card with the min fuss and noise-youve got to let the police know that you know your rights.they will not do anything to youas long as you dont outright refuse to show your card.
though you may not see an immediate change making complaints will have a psychological and cumulative effect..
by just acquiescing meekly,you are showing you are happy to play their games,and want to keep playing.
this will not protect you but will only make things worse for you and others in the long run.
I disagree with the last two posts 😉
Things will never change as long as we think gestures will “make a point” and that will have an effect. I also do the little “show me yours and I’ll show you mine” thing with cops when carded, and I write down their names and badge numbers, and give them a cute liberal dressing-down. It’s more to make me feel better.
Identity checks will eventually be tied into the biometric data processing, just wait and see. And maybe we will wince when we remove our gloves and suck air through our teeth to indicate we don’t like it. But that won’t stop it.
Only if NJ residents begin refusing en masse to be biometrically processed, only when we have a mother being forcibly taken from her children — then and only then, maybe our spineless embassies will speak out, maybe the media will wade in, maybe Mr. and Mrs. Sato will discuss the issue over breakfast.
T-shirts and petitions and private protests and so on will not stop creeping neo-apartheid in Japanese society, let’s be real.
The incremental implementation of the new policies is shrewd. Had the MOJ rounded up all resident foreigners and marched them down to special processing centers to be fingerprinted, photographed and interviewed, there would have been an outcry. So they do it one-by-one at Narita, and they stop us one at a time in the street. The result is the same. And one day, I am sure the few remaining foreign residents who have not traveled out of Japan will be made to be processed when they renew their visas.
No, they won’t kick down our doors just yet. Incrementalism is far more effective, so we never get a chance to collectively voice our outrage. All we have are lonely gestures for a carding cop, frustrated posts on random chat boards.
sigh . . .
While immigrants are indeed required to carry their green cards, arbitrary demands for said cards (or any other identification documents) by police are illegal.
This was conclusively affirmed in the KOLENDER v. LAWSON case, 461 U.S. 352 (1983):
This is more of an anecdote than data, but a recent discussion with a police officer in New Jersey (a state infamous for ‘Driving While Black’ car stoppages a few years ago) revealed that the green card would only be asked for when entering the country, by Immigration officials, and never arbitrarily by police, who would need a warrant. In practice, he says, such a punishment might be imposed if the suspect were being arrested for some other crime that justified his or her immigration status coming into question. So while the US situation seems to be similar to Japan, it in fact is quite a bit different.
Where do you see “possible eyewitnesses or informants” in the Shikkou Hou? It’s not in article 2. And DM, have you ever encountered police who refuse to show their badges of give their names? In my experience, they very rarely give their names, and they do a very good job of hiding their badges behind the small notebooks that they carry.
Adam W – with the ease “they” can sweep an innocent man into prison for 3 years in an internationally acknowledged case, do you really think your personal martyrdom is going to change anything? Assuming you live here …
Hi Mark. The standard police ID card introduced a couple of years ago gives a name and number and I have always got them to show me their police card by first asking who they are, then asking them to confirm that they are police.
Incidentally, I’ve heard using the term “poli-bango” (police number) is a bit rude. So, that’s the term I use. Because stopping people based on their ethnicity is worse than rude. I have never had a cop admit to profiling, even when I watched dozens of apparently Japanese ahead of me walk past the cops before they stopped me.
That said I have also on many many occasions over the last year or so seen Japanese, especially teens and young adults, stopped for bag searches in Shinjuku. I have noticed the cops first ask if they can please look inside the bag. I had an interesting chat with a cop about this, which revealed a convoluted “koji-tsuke” passed off as logic.
I asked the cop if a person could simply answer “no” when police requested permission to search their bags. I was told of course they could, but then, that refusal would be regarded as suspicious behavior, which would in turn give the cops the right to go ahead and search anyway.
That sort of mentality just fascinates me.
ahh, never thought I’d see something in my hometown here.
I wanted to make a few comments on the Suginami crew. First off, my friends and I have been carded several times by Koenji police and never had to produce ID. After telling them you don’t have it, they’ll tell you “you need to carry it” and let you go. Now, I’m not sure why they’re carding people. We thought initially it was bike theft as this has normally happened when on bicycles but recently that has changed. I don’t use a bike so I’ve been carded a lot less, but my surly best friend gets carded regularly and neither of us have produced ID or had problems with it. Our Japanese is gutter punk fabulous and rude as hell and the last time she actually accused the cop of hitting on her because he asked her age.
And nothing bad has come of it. So I really ask the effectiveness of all these checkpoint stops to begin with. The ONLY time we ever produced ID my friend had left her wallet in a park with her friends while she and her boyfriend took a bike up to family mart to buy more beer. The cop stopped her and they made him follow them to family mart, wait while they used the restroom, freshened up and got more beer and went back to the park to have him check it and wander off.
The other thing to say is that Koenji is home to a lot of unusual people and routine stops by the cops are not actually that uncommon. If you don’t know, Koenji is home to a lot of artists (read: hippies), musicians (read: punks) and philosophers (read: junkies). While I think the cops do get kind of intimidated by all of these at the same time they do do noticeably more ID checks here than I’ve seen in other areas.
While it’s inexcuseable and in it’s own way a form of discrimination I’m more angered at, the cops here in Koenji WILL profile and stop Japanese people the way they will stop foreigners.
>T-shirts and petitions and private protests and so on will not stop creeping >neo-apartheid in Japanese society, let’s be real.
Perhaps, but i had my spirits lifted the other day when an overzealous tourist agent rep (I won’t mention which company) demanded I take off my “Yokoso Japan T-shirt” or leave the shop as it was offending him. He would not serve me. His boss came over, gave him an earful, appologized, and offered to serve me while Mr. Rant went behind a partition.
I refused the bosses service and asked for the original rep to come back. I made him sit there as I proudly grinned and explained the meaning of the shirt, why I was wearing it, and how the policy is so WRONG. I had nothing better to do for a few hours so i stayed and made him work “extra hard” to find my flights. I made a point of standing and walking around from time to time so he would have to approach me from the back (where the BIG logo is located). In the end, I had my flight booked, and left feeling like I regained a peice of my dignity, even though i am sure that sales rep never changed his opinion.
I recieve emails from people who wear the t-shirt and feel the same… Maybe we can’t change the system through the t-shirts, but we CAN regain some of our lost dignity and power, even if just for a few minutes.
“Yokoso Japan 11/20 Commemorative t-shirts here: http://samuraicanuck.tripod.com
Awesome … no wonder they hate us :rolleyes:
Do you ever think that perhaps they make us go through all the petty crap because of all the petty crap we pull on them?
I’m as guilty as the next person as ranting etc at people but really – is it THAT important that you ruin someones day by rubbing their nose in it?
Bullying the manager and staff proves you’re no better than them – which they won’t even realise – and all they’ll do is go home and tell their friends about the ignorant arrogant gaijin who treated him like crap and blah blah blah … How is that going to help “our struggle”, restore our dignity and foster good relations?
Seriously … if we just got on with things rather than jumping up and down and acting like wankers, they might actually get tired of trying to get a rise out of us and just leave us be?
Ask yourself – would you do that at home, wherever you may come from?
–THIS IS OUR HOME. FOR STARTERS. KNOCK OFF THE INVECTIVE.
YOU HAVE AN ISSUE TO RAISE, DO SO WITHOUT THE RHETORIC. ONE MORE FLAME LIKE THIS AND THIS’LL BE THE LAST WE SEE OF YOU ON THIS BLOG.
Mark in Yayoi; ”Where do you see “possible eyewitnesses or informants” in the Shikkou Hou?”
Debito might call me quibbling, but since small details may make difference in the court of law, let me explain. Following is what I believe is an accurate translation of the law.
“A person who, the police officer acknowledges, has some knowledge about a crime that has been or is going to be committed” is what I meant by the words “possible eyewitnesses or informants”. I think it is a fair paraphrase.
“This was conclusively affirmed in the KOLENDER v. LAWSON case, 461 U.S. 352 (1983)”
I am afraid the case is about the unconstitutionality of a California Penal Code 647(e) on the ground that the words “credible and reliable” ID in the statute is vague. It is not about the green card and the green card is by no means vague. I think green card checking is out of the scope of the Supreme Court ruling.
Thank you for telling me the practice of New Jersey police.
–YES, WE KNOW THIS. WE CAN READ THE LAW TOO. NOW LINK THE RANDOM STOPPING OF FOREIGNERS OR FOREIGN-LOOKING PEOPLES WITH CRIMINAL INTENT OR PROBABLE CAUSE. YOUR INABILITY TO ADDRESS THE ROOT ISSUE CONSISTENTLY IS WHY ONE CALLS YOUR RESPONSES QUIBBLING.
Yes, I think we all realize that those of us who live here long term consider it home, but that’s not how the majority of ‘them’ see it, and that’s what I see as being the issue here – the difference in the ways of thinking.
It certainly seems that a lot of people go out of their way to make ‘a point’ by making a scene and behaving badly in public, thinking that they’re demonstrating or protesting or winning over the hearts and mind of the public by their show of naked outrage … perhaps we should consider how it would look from the other side of the service counter – irregardless of the country we’re in or from.
If it wasn’t so easy for people to differentiate between ‘us’ and ‘them’, then perhaps a show of individual public indignation that may attract the attention of local or national media MIGHT achieve something positive, but until such a time as ‘gaijin’ are integrated and ‘non-gaijin’ think the way western society does about immigrants & immigration, I don’t see how such displays can be productive 🙁
–THAT’S BETTER. THANKS.
Thank you for this information on this site, I was wondering how the routine fingerprinting and other ID-related issues would pan out in Japan, having just been there on my first (and I hope not last) visit shortly before the new airport procedures. For those commentators who may be UK citizens, or coming here, I fear this country’s going the same way, as our iniquitous and unneccessary ID-Card scheme is brought into action in the next few years. This ID-harrassment is becoming a worldwide phenomenon.
I have been considering going to Japan to teach English, it’s seeming less attractive now, pity.
Just something I thought I’d share about how (some, hopefully not most) Japanese are seeing the whole fingerprinting/anti-foreigner thing…
My Japanese friend came here from Poland, where she lives, for the holidays and the subject of fingerprinting came up (namely, I told her I’m strongly opposed to it and that’s why if I leave this country it will be for good, as I will not agree to be treated like a criminal).
The amount of hatred and nationalism she displayed when trying to explain to me why fingerprinting is necessary is so staggering I still can’t get over it – I used to consider her as a good friend and it was a huge shock for me.
First, some background – she’s a Tokyoite, university graduate and a classical pianist – a high-class, cultured and well-educated person (or so I thought). She’s been living in Poland as a foreigner for 5 years now, first studying piano at the Academy of Music and now pursuing her career as a pianist. In other words, she, of all people, should be an open-minded person well understanding problems foreigners face…
Anyway, according to her, fingerprinting is absolutely necessary to keep “all those bloody Chinese” out. Yup, that’s right – for some reason, in her mind China=Satan. She pronounces 中国人 with such contempt and hatred, I was expecting her to start referring to them as シナ野郎 any time. It was simply incredible to listen to her – in he opinion all Chinese are unwashed, dirty barbarians, criminals and potential terrorists. We have to do everything to keep them out of Japan – including treating all foreigners like potential criminals. Again, in her words, not mine, the “good foreigners” have to take one for the team – if we get rid of all the Chinese their life in Japan will get better too!
I was so baffled by her rhetoric, I couldn’t even think clearly and refute her “arguments”. I just weakly told her, that if she wants to believe the stereotypes, then all Japanese are psychotic Yakuza child-molesters, with tendency to stab random people on the street with kitchen knives and unload shotgun shells in swimming schools, but she just looked at me like I had two heads and we cut that conversation thread completely (not before I told her I disagree and that I want to start attending a Chinese class next year to prevent myself from totally forgetting the language. Her reaction might be very similar to a redneck’s who just learned that their friend wants to convert to Islam and move to Iran – “Why the HELL would you do that?!”).
I have no idea why she feels the way she does, but I believe the extreme anti-Chinese attitude (displayed also by many of my Japanese office colleagues – to a lesser extent, sure, but than again we’re not close enough for them to display their 本音) might be one of the reasons why the new policy was implemented, and at the same time a reason why a group of mostly “western” (term used loosely, I should probably say “non-Chinese”) NJ residents might not have much impact on it. It’s very sad and scary, that what seems like educated, cultured people turn into vitriol-spewing simpletons at the sound of the word “China”…
Chris in Utsunomiya
My wife is Japanese. She lived with me in Colombia (not Columbia, folks) for several months as a turist. No need of fianceè or permanet visa requests. After her 90 days entry permit, the Immigration authorities opened a file, and fingerprinted her. They also requested a picture. And that’s it.
And all the time she was here, she never, NEVER got stopped by any police office, even if it was so obvious that she was a Yamato girl. Never.
This year I’m supposed to go to Japan. But, to be honest, reading all this, portraits a sucking idea of what Japan is.
The bright side is what the media and slanted people talk about Japan, including the nihon-jin in Colombia (mostly JICA members): That is so beautiful, clean, organized, systematic and so forth.
But when it comes to see different views and the trade-offs, like child abduction, “Do-it the Japanese way or else”, the “Yokoso” campaign that doesn’t welcome people at all, well, it makes me think. Seriously and throughly. I’m even thinking of not having children in Japan!
I general terms I understand that Japanese are nice people, but their political system and the laws they they pretend to enforce are a shame.
I have enough burden in my life since I’m tagged as “Drug-Dealer”, “Narcotics Pusher” and so just because I’m Colombian. And if you guys, most of you of developed countries like US, UK, Australia and so forth are so upset even to the degree of a hemorrhage, imagine my situation as Colombian.
Greetings you all !