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  • Asahi: NPA Survey: 25% of hotels not following NPA demands to check “foreign guest” passports. Toyoko Inn not one of them.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on January 6th, 2008

    Hi Blog. Here’s something I found rather interesting. A survey reported on the front page of the Asahi yesterday (courtesy Evan H., Matt, and H.O.) indicates that a quarter of major hotels nationwide sampled have qualms about asking NJ for their passports, and a third of them refused to copy them for police use. (No wonder–they can’t. By law they can only ask passports from NJ who have no addresses in Japan–meaning tourists.)

    Hotels cite privacy reasons, and the problems and discomfort involved with explaining the rules to guests. Quite. Thank you. The Japanese article, however, notes that “some voices” (whoever they are) are noting the lack of punishment for noncooperating hotels (meaning we’ve got some legal holes to plug in the gaijin dragnet). Moreover, the survey was carried out by the National Police Agency. But you wouldn’t know either of these things if you read the English article only.

    The two articles follow–the English translation, and the Japanese original. Note that the Japanese original is very specific in saying that “teijuu” NJ residents cannot be asked for their passports. However, the English translation omits that sentence entirely. And renders them misleadingly as “foreign guests”. Just like the NPA does. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    The translators (listed below as Seiji Iwata and Ichiro Noda) should be reprimanded for misinformation and unprofessionality. Feel free to express your opinion to the Asahi by email (they don’t have a comments page for the English site, but never mind–send in English if necessary) at http://www.asahi.com/reference/form.html

    Meanwhile, there has been no reply from the Toyoko Inn chain regarding my letter re their reception in Hirosaki last November (asking me not only for my passport, but also proof that I’m even a Japanese). The head office in Tokyo had plenty of time to reply and say they’re concerned about customer complaints, and didn’t bother. So I say it again–don’t bother using the Toyoko Inn chain. Given their history towards other NJ clients, not to mention the handicapped, they don’t deserve your business.

    The NPA indicates below that they will be cracking down on hotels who don’t “cooperate”. Expect more third-degree at Japanese hotels at check-in. Anyone want to create an information database for hotel and chains which follow the law properly, and confirm whether or not any and all guests are residents of Japan first before demanding their passports? Even a significant number of hotels aren’t happy with the oddly-enforced regulations. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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    Survey: 1 in 4 hotels fails to record foreign guests
    01/05/2008 BY SEIJI IWATA AND ICHIRO NODA, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
    http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200801040263.html

    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 [sic], 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)

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    Original Japanese, courtesy of H.O.:

    宿の25%が旅券の記録せず 警察庁「テロ対策協力を」
    朝日新聞 2008年01月04日15時54分
    http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0104/TKY200801040150.html

    01年の米国同時多発テロ以降の国際的なテロ情勢を受け、旅館業法施行規則で義務づけられた来日外国人の国籍と旅券番号の記録作業を、全国の主なホテル・旅館の4軒に1軒がやっていないことが警察庁の調査でわかった。罰則はないものの、宿泊現場では、客への配慮から徹底できないとの声がある。規則にはない旅券のコピー保存となると一層抵抗感が強い。半年後に迫った北海道洞爺湖サミットに向け、同庁はあらためて協力を求めている。

    同法の本来の目的は感染症対策で、全宿泊者の氏名、住所、職業を宿泊者名簿に記録するように定めている。国際的なテロ対策強化を受け、 05年4月に外国人宿泊者については国籍と旅券番号の記録を義務づけるよう施行規則が改正された。本人確認が旅券でしかできないためで、定住外国人は除外されている。

    今回の調査は昨年9月、警察庁の指示で各都道府県警が実施。全国のホテルなど約8万8000施設(06年3月現在)のうち、外国人が泊まる可能性があると判断した約3万3000を対象とした。

    その結果、全体の4分の1が旅券番号などを記録していなかった。警察庁は「テロリストに手薄な場所を教えることになる」と都道府県別の結果の公表を拒むが、施設の半数以上が規則を守っていなかった県も複数あったという。

    サミット首脳会議の会場となる北海道でも、国籍・旅券番号を記録していなかった施設は約20%あった。ただ、2カ月後の11月の再調査では約10ポイント改善したという。

    道警は「一部の小規模業者は外国語を話せないなどの理由でお願いできないようだ」と話す。このため道は12月から、規則の内容を英語、中国語、韓国語、ロシア語で記したビラのひな型を、宿泊施設向けにホームページで公開している。

    さらに、規則にはないが、国が通達で求めている旅券のコピーを取っていない施設も全国の3分の1にのぼっていたことも同調査で判明した。

    日本ホテル協会の岩佐英美子副参事は「日本全体でテロ防止に取り組んでいるという姿勢を知らしめる効果は大きいはず」と理解を示す。

    それでも都内のホテル担当者は「事務所に旅券を持ち込んで、コピーを取られることを嫌がる客がたまにいる」と話す。ある大手米系ホテルの担当者も「ビジネス客や団体客を待たせるのは申し訳ない。外国人だけコピーをとる理由の説明も難しい」と明かす。

    そのため、フロントの負担軽減のためなどとして、国際観光旅館連盟が06年にコピーの省略を国に求めたこともある。

    警察庁は「記録がなければ、テロリストが潜伏しているとの情報があっても旅券の照合ができないうえ、テロ発生後に追跡調査ができない恐れもある。4月までには全施設に協力をお願いしたい」としている。
    ends

    9 Responses to “Asahi: NPA Survey: 25% of hotels not following NPA demands to check “foreign guest” passports. Toyoko Inn not one of them.”

    1. Ken Says:

      Does a foreigner who is a resident in Japan have to show the Alien Registration Card to prove that he is not a tourist? If not, how can the hotel know who is a tourist and who is not?

      –YOU WRITE YOUR ADDRESS DOWN ON THE CHECK-IN CARD AT RECEPTION. LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. YOU NEED SHOW NO PROOF.

      IF THAT’S NOT ENOUGH, TOO BAD. NO JAPANESE IS REQUIRED TO SHOW I.D. TO GET INTO A HOTEL. NEITHER IS ANY RESIDENT OF JAPAN. AND NOBODY HAS TO SHOW PROOF. ONLY TOURISTS. THAT’S THE LAW.

    2. Glenn Says:

      Seems to me the government is just using the G8 summit as an excuse to further tighten the reigns on foreigners, including residents. Previously we’ve heard the World Cup and 2005 World’s Fair used. If this will be the case going forward, sad to say, I will be hoping Japan does not get to host more such events.

      Recently I had to stay overnight in a remote town on business. My Japanese colleague who called in the hotel reservation told me (apologetically – he instinctively knew it was wrong) they asked for me to show my passport upon check-in. So I was ready to present my address and gaikokujin card if needed, but was steeled for a fight on the passport issue. However, when I actually checked in – perhaps because I spoke in polite Japanese and wrote down my Japanese address – the lady at the desk did not ask me for any ID at all. But it may be just a matter of time before I face a problem with the passport request. I had it once before (may have been Toyoko Inn, in fact, though I stopped using them after the handicap access fiasco) but I just said it should not be necessary since I live in Japan, and the person did not force the issue at all. I’m sure the vast majority of these people who work at the hotel desks don’t want to bother us with this kind of thing, so I kind of feel bad for them, actually. On the one hand they are inculcated with that wonderful Japanese customer service, then the police step in and want them to harass us.

      Cheers,

    3. Johnny Says:

      I had a similar instance recently where I was asked for identification, and I mentioned the law to the hotel. They apologised and that was that, but I did ask that they actually have proper training on the law so that they know who to ask and who not to ask.

    4. Andrew Smallacombe Says:

      So, are the NPA after those who don’t follow the law by asking ONLY NON-RESIDENTS for their passport? Methinks they need to read up on Japanese law.
      And as for stopping terrorists: you mean the fingerprinting and photographing didn’t stop them?
      If this wasn’t so stupid it would be funny.

    5. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      Debito and everyone, I was recently refused service at a backpacker hostel until I handed over my alien card for photocopying. Any advice on how to word my letter of protest? I handed over the sign-in sheet with a Japanese address included, and the “passport number” spot blank, and was then asked for the passport. When I pointed out that I live in Japan and thus don’t have my passport with me, the clerk said that if I lived in Japan, I must then be carrying my alien card, as that’s the law, and to please hand that over instead. I mentioned the Ryokan Law, but she wasn’t having any of it. Police orders, she said.

      Since this was a busy time of year (other places were full), and it was already around 11 PM, I had to give in, but it was very unpleasant. Should I voice my opinion to them alone, or notify the Ryokan Association?

      And Andrew, while the police do indeed need to read up on Japanese law, I suspect more that they’re willfully ignoring it. They know full well what it says but are hoping to get hotels to go above and beyond it, driving off customers and profits in the process, just because they’re the police and everyone must always obey the police. Someone with time and money to burn should file suit against them if they get concrete proof that the police forced a hotel to illegally collect information from them as a guest.

      –THE BEST (AND REALLY ONLY) THING YOU CAN DO IS CARRY THE LAWS AROUND WITH YOU (THE POLICE SHOULD HAVE SUPPLIED HOTELS WITH A COPY ANYWAY). POINT TO THE BIT WHERE IT SAYS THE LAW APPLIES ONLY TO PEOPLE WITHOUT ADDRESSES IN JAPAN. THAT’S WHAT I’VE ALWAYS DONE, AND IT’S WORKED. AND I TOLD THE MANAGER AFTERWARDS ABOUT ENFORCING THE LAWS PROPERLY.

      MORE AT http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#refusedhotel

      YES, I WOULD TELL BOTH THEM AND THE RYOKAN ASSOCIATION AS WELL. DOING NOTHING MEANS THE PROBLEM WILL REMAIN UNADDRESSED. I HAVE A FEELING THE FACT THAT ENOUGH HOTELS ARE ACTUALLY DISOBEYING THIS LAW IS PARTIALLY BECAUSE PEOPLE LIKE US HAVE BEEN READING THEM THE RIOT ACT WHEN WE’VE BEEN CHECKPOINTED AT CHECK-IN.

      SORRY TO HEAR THIS HAPPENED TO YOU, MARK. FIGHT BACK USING WHAT AVENUES ARE AVAILABLE TO YOU (THE RYOKAN ASSOCIATION AND THE HOSTEL IN PARTICULAR). DEBITO IN SAPPORO

    6. adam w Says:

      i know from experience its unpleasant at the time,but you have to really fight against it when they try the nonsense on-
      i agree with debito that because people have been making a fuss not everywhere is trying it.
      when they ask for the gaijin card i say of course and ask to see their policemans licence or immigrant officer license first,explaining by law thats the only people you have to show it to.this usually shuts them up.

    7. Kimpatsu Says:

      All this illegal (and unjust–a different concept) demand for ID upon check-in is only a symptom, as revealed by how the English “translations” of these articles are worded. You can live here for decades (I’ve been here 15 years myself) and have permanent residence, but are still regarded as a “guest”, not a resident. Only the Japanese can be resident. (Even now, I am frequently asked, “When are you going home?”. If I reply that Japan IS my home, I’m told it can’t be, as I have no Japanese blood.)
      Changing this close-minded perception is the real challenge. Achieve that, adn the rest will follow suit, like dominoes toppling.

      –DO WHAT YOU CAN TO COUNTERACT THESE QUESTIONS. LIKE INSISTING THAT THIS *IS* YOUR HOME, AND HAS BEEN FOR AS LONG AS (EVEN LONGER, FOR SOME OF THEM) THEIR CHILDREN HAVE BEEN ALIVE. DEBITO

    8. KokuRyu Says:

      I wasn’t asked to show my passport when I stayed at a ryokan in Nara recently, nor when I stayed at a business hotel just south of Ueno Station. Wonder if Japanese ability has anything to do with it?

      –IT DIDN’T IN ANY OF THE MANY TIMES IT’S HAPPENED TO ME, NOR DID IT IN MARK IN YAYOI’S (WHO I KNOW IS AN EXCELLENT SPEAKER OF JAPANESE).

    9. adam w Says:

      in my experience if you have a japanese spouse and go with him/her,
      they wont ask you-if you go on your own or with fellow terrorists/sorry
      foriegners you will prob be asked..

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