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  • Yomiuri: GOJ shutting out ‘hooligans’ (i.e. antiglobalization activists) from Hokkaido G-8 summit

    Posted by arudou 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
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20071231TDY01301.htm
    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)
    ENDS

    9 Responses to “Yomiuri: GOJ shutting out ‘hooligans’ (i.e. antiglobalization activists) from Hokkaido G-8 summit”

    1. Matt Dioguardi Says:

      Let me get this straight. Normally people “who have injured, assaulted, threatened or killed people or damaged buildings” can enter the country freely. However, if they did it with the specific intent “to disrupt international sports events or meetings” then they can’t?

      As weird as it is stupid.

    2. Andrew Smallacombe Says:

      I’m glad you found this one, Debito. It saves me having to send it to you.
      It’s true that oreign nationals are unlikely to get very far protesting on Japanese soil. Gaiatsu works so much better (a recent example being Australia’s promise to keep Japanese whaling vessels under strict survailance – oops, no humpback “harvests” this year!)
      I wonder if the various right wing groups in Japan would also fit into the “antiglobalization activist” category? How are they going to be regulated?

      A quote from Doctor Who comes to mind – “You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don’t alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views. Which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that need altering.”

    3. Jon Says:

      How would they know whether someone is a “hooligan” or not? How would they even know if entering foreigners are heading to the G-* summit to protest? If that article is even remotely true, it is the the stupidest proposal I have yet heard from Japan regarding foreigners.

      In every other country that has hosted the G-8, the vast majority of the protesters are most certainly local citizens of that country with a smaller percentage of foreigners. So do Japanese people not protest? If the so-called hooligans are blocked from entering, will there be no protests then? If that is true then the Japanese people are the most apathetic that I know of.

    4. Pierre-Juan Says:

      Japan, it its very private desire, would like to leave this planet using a spacecraft and keep observing the earth planet meanwhile.And I have lived “there” for 3 years so far.There must be one fair explaination to this, for sure.

    5. Matt Says:

      The article below is a bit nutty. It seems to add a great deal of extra costs to hotels and guests (but not really on the NPA who just have to collect and store the data) based on the rather dubious assumptions that:

      1) So-called terrorists will have gotten past Immigration’s newly vaunted fingerprinting system and careful passport checks and actually entered Japan – seemingly using their actual passport with real name on it. I suppose that someone could use a fake passport to enter the country, but then why would they use this same passport to check into a hotel when the fake one would do just as well?

      2) “Terrorists” will, after either sneaking into the country as a stowaway, in a rubber dinghy along the Japan Sea, or as a legitimate traveller at one Japan’s major airports, then be careless enough to use their actual passport with their real name on it in a hotel or, even more unlikely, in a ryokan! What is someone going to do, try to blow up a dam in Nagano a la “Whiteout”? With what?

      Also, how incompetent and shortsighted would a criminal have to be to not stay at a much safer sympathiser’s place but rather a public place like a hotel? Are local contacts willing to supply the arms and explosives but not willing to supply a bed for a few nights?

      Or perhaps the terrorist is operating alone. He somehow manages to sneak large amounts of explosives or weapons in Japan – enough to actually make an impression unlike the incompetents who attempted to crash their car into Glasgow Airport – and manages to fly into the country. So what does he do? He checks into a hotel and then, when asked for his passport, he just hands it over knowing that it will be photocopied and kept on record!

      I could go on at the holes in the policy but I want to make a couple of points here…

      1) Hoteliers and ryokan owners should be up in arms about this. It is clearly unnecessary interference in their business by the police. They are going to have to take the brunt of complaints from insulted foreigners (who had just been fingerprinted earlier at the airport) who then take time to meet with the manager to complain and perhaps cause a scene at the front desk in front of both Japanese and non-Japanese customers. Who will pay the costs of making photocopies, the wasted labour making them, and all of the extra rigmarole to store this information? Certainly not the NPA. These are businesses whose livelihood are being infringed upon by unnecessary bureaucratic regulations and so should be upset about this. Finally, the NPA is shifting responsibility of surveillance to hotels. What happens if, on the off-chance, all of the NPA predictions are correct and someone does commit a terrorist act while also checked-in at a hotel. What happens to the friendly ryokan owner who forgot to take the photocopy of the passport? What liability does he have for the crime?

      2) It would seem to me that the NPA is collecting massive amounts of data on non-Japanese visitors to Japan. I suspect that the fingerprint data, along with this hotel data, can be merged into a massive data set. New techniques of data mining and the power of modern computers means that the police can match things like name, country, and then perhaps hotel, to create a profile of people in certain age groups, occupations, and nationalities. We provide all of that information on our landing card. Can you imagine if they add what hotels people stay at? The amount of information that the NPA is gathering on foreigners is astounding and, you can be sure, it does have a purpose.

      Where do people from Country A usually stay? Oh wow – using statistical analysis, the computer has flagged this person! People from this country, with this job, and this age group don’t usually visit Hagi! Oh wait – five other people from Country A are also checked into hotels in Hagi! This is very unusual, very suspicious! Quick, send someone out there to check it out!

      Yep, when you have terabytes of data, you can actually predict the probabilities of certain behaviours based on profiles. When someone varies from this behaviour, it stands out.

      3) If this is a serious actual policy, wouldn’t it be useful to also collect information on Japanese citizens staying at hotels? Organized crime, felons on the run, or people with outstanding warrants could be arrested once they stepped into a hotel (provided they were idiotic enough to provide authentic information).

      I really believe that this is part of the Ministry of Justice’s goal of amassing massive amounts of data on foreigners. Imagine if a crime is committed – anything from shoplifting to assault to murder – the police can match a fingerprint with the Immigration data and then follow the person’s movements with hotel records. Data mining, I suspect, is the real reason for the Ministry of Justice’s newfound zeal for collecting information. Technology is driving policy – surveillance on a massive scale with minimal cost. I am not saying that this is a case of Big Brother or anything, but it sure is a lot of information to give a foreign government. The costs of collecting, storing and retrieving this data are surely very large but taxpayers seem to think that if it helps to prevent some future terrorist attack, it may be worth it.

      The article does not mention whether hotels are meant to only store data on-site or whether they are meant to send it to the NPA once a guest checks in. If the latter, which is what I would suspect given that the supposed purpose is PREVENTING terrorism, that is really and truly scary.

      I hope people don’t mind their Name, Age, Birthday, Passport Number, Home Address, Birth Place, Where they got their passport, and where they are staying in Japan being passed to first, a private company such as a hotel who offers no details as to what they are actually doing with that information, and then second, passing it on to the Japanese government.

      Yokoso Japan.

      http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200801040263.html

      Survey: 1 in 4 hotels fails to record foreign guests

      01/05/2008
      BY SEIJI IWATA AND ICHIRO NODA, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

      One in four hotels and ryokan inns across Japan is not complying with government anti-terror initiatives that require them to record nationalities and passport numbers of foreign guests, according to a survey.

      Many hoteliers and inn owners say they are reluctant to do so for fear of treading on customers’ privacy.

      The issue has taken on heightened importance in light of the Group of Eight summit to be held at Lake Toyako, Hokkaido, in July and fears of foreign terrorists infiltrating Japan.

      The September survey of 33,000 hotels and ryokan inns was done to determine the level of compliance under the revised Hotel Business Law, according to the National Police Agency (NPA).

      One in three hotels also failed to photocopy passports as directed by the government.

      Many hotels said it is difficult to single out foreign guests. However, the agency has repeatedly asked hotels to check passports in light of the G-8 summit this summer.

      “We want to ask all hotels to fully cooperate by April,” said an NPA spokesperson.

      Because of the 9/11 terror attacks against the United States in 2001, the hotel law was amended in April 2005 to mandate hotels to record the nationalities and passport numbers of foreign guests, except for those with long-term residence status.

      The law was originally enacted in 1948 to require hotels to record the names, addresses and occupations of all guests as a measure to prevent infectious diseases.

      In addition to keeping proper records, the government has asked hotels to photocopy guests’ passports.

      The survey targeted 33,000 hotels and inns which were deemed likely to be frequented by foreign visitors. There are 88,000 registered accommodations across Japan.

      In several prefectures, more than half of hotels surveyed failed to write down the passport information.

      The agency has refused to disclose survey results broken down by prefecture, saying that it may “let terrorists know the areas with poor security.”

      Even in Hokkaido, which will host the G-8 summit, about 20 percent of hotels surveyed did not track the records.

      Thanks to efforts by prefectural police, the figure fell about 10 percentage points in a follow-up survey conducted in November.

      Prefectural police officials said small hotels tend not to have front desk clerks fluent in foreign languages and thus fail to obtain the information.

      Since December, Hokkaido police have posted templates on their Web site for posters that publicize the requirements in English, Chinese, Korean and Russian so that hotel operators can download them for use at their facilities.

      But an official at a Tokyo hotel said some customers are hesitant to let hotel clerks bring their passports to behind-the-counter clerk rooms to make photocopies.

      “We don’t want to keep guests on business trips or group travelers waiting (while photocopies are taken),” said an official at a major U.S.-affiliated hotel chain.

      “In addition, we find it difficult to explain why only foreign guests should have (their identity documents) photocopied,” the official said.

      Reflecting these concerns, the Japan Ryokan Association, which has a membership of about 1,400 prestigious hotels and ryokan inns, asked the government in 2006 to stop requiring them to photocopy passports.

      The NPA insists, however, that the records are needed for prompt cross-checks in case police obtain the identities of suspected terrorists before attacks take place.

      “It will also play a crucial role in searching for the whereabouts of terrorists in case they commit an attack,” said an NPA official.

      Emiko Iwasa, deputy counselor of the Japan Hotel Association, agrees that hotels should fully cooperate to “demonstrate that the country as a whole is fighting to prevent terrorism from occurring.”

      Naofumi Miyasaka, an associate professor of international politics at the National Defense Academy of Japan, said the survey actually shows promising results, implying that an increasing number of hotels are now fully cooperating with the government’s anti-terrorism campaign.

      “Hotels in Western countries usually cross-check identities of foreign guests, and if Japan fails to arrest terrorists or criminals on the international wanted list by allowing (hotels to) neglect an identity check, it will seriously damage the country’s credibility in the international community,” he said.(IHT/Asahi: January 5,2008)

      http://www.debito.org/index.php/?p=797#comment-104393

    6. vegetablej Says:

      It’s pretty confusing what is actual law and what is a “police suggestion or requirement”. I can’t figure out from this information if hotels are allowed to ask for and copy passports or alien registration cards of residents. Is is all residents or only “long-term” residents that are exempt and what does that actually mean? I thought all residents didn’t need to show their cards or passports.

      Anyway, the very idea that hotels have to be acting like police and surveilling guests, in this case only non-Japanese guests, is repugnant. Let the police do their jobs and let the hotels do theirs. As a customer I’m not going to be going out of my way to be going to hotels that treat me more like an inmate than a guest.

    7. Matthew Linley Says:

      Well, if people thought that Japan was being paranoid with its decision to keep “Hooligans” away from the G8 Summit, check out this little piece of overkill…

      “Japan may protect G8 site with missiles: report”

      Do people in the Defense Ministry honestly believe that any state – even North Korea – would not only engage in an undeclared act of war against Japan, but murder the leaders of the G8, which would also include the President of the United States?

      Whatever happened to any kind of common sense or realistic calculations of risk and probabilities? Whatever happened to the low-posture pragmatic Japanese foreign policy that served it so well in the postwar period?

      If the government is willing to spend the millions of dollars to station Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) ground-to-air missile interceptors at the Summit, then I do not think it is going to be particularly concerned about keeping out “undesirables” such as a few globalization protesters.

      I suppose this is a kind of “signal” to other countries that Japan can defend itself from a missile attack rather than a serious attempt to actually implement a reasonable policy, but it sure looks like paranoia beyond reasonable cause.

      http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080109/wl_nm/japan_missiles_dc_2;_ylt=AlOnWcVQo5Hod4iX3jyfm.AE1vAI
      **********************************************************
      Japan may protect G8 site with missiles: report

      TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan may position missile interceptors around the site of the Group of Eight summit of industrialized nations, to be held on the northern island of Hokkaido in July, a newspaper said on Wednesday.

      Japan introduced its first Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) ground-to-air missile interceptors at the Iruma air base north of Tokyo last March, as part of a shield aimed at protecting the country from ballistic missile attack.

      The Sankei Shimbun quoted a Defense Ministry official as saying that although the chances of a ballistic missile attack on the venue are extremely low, Japan wants to take all possible precautions against air attack.

      “We must consider measures to deal appropriately with whatever situations may arise,” said a Defense Ministry spokesman, who declined to comment directly on the report.

      A “Summit Unit” made up of air, ground and sea troops is also to be set up to respond immediately to any eventuality, the Sankei Shimbun said.

      **********************************************************

    8. Adam Says:

      Germany`s Gov. gets kind of xenophobic too

      http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/01/14/europe/14germany.php

    9. cheguevera Says:

      I live in Niigata and can ensure that here people, local stores, shopping cneter and the police are praparing for the apocalipse. Since the 911 and since the G8 minister summit will occur here, you can not work into a store without being under surveillance specially when you are of dark skin. As balck or dark skinned you are suspicious twice. If you pay little attention around you that your neibhour spy on you, the police and secret service on your trail. when you ride a bus the driver crafeully look at what in your hands or what you are carrying while japanse can even carry cars in the bus. your mobile phone is your best traking device. One thing that japanese should not forget is that the Terror attack in Tokyo is not the work of foreigner or blacks.

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