Posted by debito on January 10th, 2008
Hi Blog. Jeff sends this post (blogging with adaptation and permission) on how tracking NJ in Japan doesn’t end at the border with fingerprinting and photographing, or at the local government office with registering, or on the street with Gaijin Cards (with criminal charges for NJ only for not carrying ID 24-7).
According to Jeff, it’s also happening at the home, with the cops making house calls, asking for data to store at the local police station. I’ll let the Comments section hold court on how widespread this is (is there a national campaign going on?). But this has never happened to me in all my twenty plus years here, both as a NJ and a Japanese living in Sapporo and Niigata. Has it happened to other readers?
If it happened to me, I would just take the form politely and later throw it away. I doubt I am under any legal obligation to provide data like this to the local police station (you aren’t, after all, obligated to answer the National Census (kokusei chousa) in part or at all). Nor is anyone else, regardless of nationality. Comments? Debito in Sapporo
Japanese police documenting neighborhood residents
Hi Debito, this is the first time I have mailed or commented. I have been in the same apt in tokyo for about 6 years and in the past the police have come around once in a while to write down names and do their “rounds”, to keep the neighborhood safe, as they describe their activities. I was fine with that.
Last month and again last week, one officer came around with a green form (see below) and asked my wife and I to fill it out. The first time I threw it away. The form asks for name, birthdate, occupation, honseki, date began living at residence, address, contacts for an emergency including name, add, and tel number; as well as a description of any vehicles owned including bicycles. The top of the form, and I will paraphrase in English from Japanese, the form is intended for use to contact people in case of emergencies and the information will not be shown to anyone else.
The way the form is printed suggests that it was printed by the NPA for use all over the country, not just in Tokyo. I have no doubt that this is their primary intent, but I am reluctant for a number of reasons to supply this info and this much info not relevant to emergencies. We called the local police and they reiterated everything the officer said and what is written on the form. My first thought was that if they were going keep this form at my local koban, its not a bad idea, because it would make it easier for the police to do their job locally in case of a major emergency.
But after confirming that the information cards will be stored at the actual police station, I questioned whether there was any relevant argument for actually collecting this info. All of the info, except for the emergency contact person’s details is stored at the ku-yakusho (apart from vehicle info), along with all of the other info they have on me, being a foreign national. So, why don’t they just call the ku-yakusho and get the info from there, there is probably a law against that.
In addition, juki-net got shot down and I believe this is an attempt for the police to create there own juki-net by getting people to volunteer their information in the name of safety. It would not be all that difficult for the police to collect info locally and then put all of the info into a single database. This is starting to go long so I will leave it here.
Have you heard of this before? If you have, what are other people’s reactions? Any thoughts? Is this another step in the slowly degrading state of our civil rights here in Japan, after the reinstatement of fingerprinting what is next; national ID cards with pics and fingerprints for all residents regardless of nationality or maybe just a chip in our necks? I am not paranoid or anything, I just don’t like dealing with the police.
As the saying goes, when you need the police, they are never there; and when you don’t, you get a parking ticket. I just made that up. Sincerely, Jeff. ENDS