Posted by debito on January 3rd, 2008
Hi Blog. Today’s moral: All it takes is a new vague law to be passed, and the government will find ways to tweak it to filter out things at its own convenience.
Witness what’s going on in the Yomiuri article below with the “new immigration laws” (i.e. fingerprinting and photographing at the border for NJ only). First it was justified on the grounds of preventing terrorism in the Post-9/11 World. Then with the SARS Pneumonia outbreak in 2003 (seen as an illness only foreigners carry, which is why some hotels began banning foreign guests), suddenly it was also justifiable as a way to prevent infectious diseases. Then just as it was coming online it became an “anti-foreign crime” measure. Then right afterwards it became (with the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen) a means to forcibly incarcerate anyone who doesn’t cooperate with immigration discretion for whatever reason.
And as of a few days ago, it’s going to be instrumental in keeping out “antiglobalization activists” (whatever that means)… It’s become an “anti-hooligan” measure. As though G-8 Summits are football matches.
It makes no sense until you look at it in terms of politics, not logic. The National Police Agency sold the J public on “anti-hooliganism” specifically before in 2002, during the World Cup. It was a very effective scare campaign and made life pretty miserable for a lot of NJ residents (especially in Sapporo). Pity no hooligans showed up. But say “Open Sesame” with any hint of foreign danger, and police budgets get soaked with more public cash. People get stupid when motivated by fear. The NPA knows that, and now that next year’s budgets are being debated, its the perfect time to make house calls on the Finance Ministry. It’s a virtuous circle as long as you’re not a foreigner or a taxpayer.
As a friend pointed out, the hard-core American and European protestors wouldn’t really bother coming to Japan. It’s too far and too expensive, and too alien in language and cultural values for them to find much in the way of support from local Japanese before they come or after they arrive. And even fewer of them really care what Japan says or does in G-8. The sense is that, like a growing number of people elsewhere, they see Japan as a fading regional power that the world is listening to less and less. And if anything, this is probably more a way to please ascendant China in its Olympic Year–keep out Falun Gong and Free Tibet types in this very carefully-controlled media event.
Why does Japan even bother to hold any international events if they’re just going to put the J public through another fear campaign? I shudder to think what would happen if Tokyo actually does succeed in its bid to get another Olympics…
Arudou Debito in Sapporo
Govt to keep ‘hooligans’ away from G-8 summit
The Yomiuri Shimbun Dec. 31, 2007
Courtesy of Jeff Korpa
The Justice Ministry has begun preparations to put into force a hooligan provision of the immigration law to prevent antiglobalization activists from entering the country to protest the Group of Eight summit meeting to be held in Hokkaido in July.
Relevant ministries and agencies will discuss criteria for defining antiglobalization activists, to whom the provision will be applied for the first time, and seek additional information from other countries.
The hooligan provision was added when the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law was revised in 2001 and enforced in 2002 to keep hooligans out of the country for the 2002 World Cup soccer finals.
The provision states immigration authorities can refuse entry to people who have injured, assaulted, threatened or killed people or damaged buildings to disrupt international sports events or meetings.
It also disallows entry to people who have been imprisoned in Japan or other countries or have been deported before if immigration officials believe they might be involved in similar actions again.
Under the provision, 19 hooligans were prohibited from entering the country in 2002. The provision has not been applied in other cases.
Unions and environmental protection groups have often been involved in protests against economic globalization, which activists assert has widened the gaps between rich and poor and harmed the environment.
(Dec. 31, 2007)