Morning Blog. Got this letter last night from a friend who’s gotten disgusted with the US Embassy’s inaction towards protecting the human rights of its citizens. Myself, I think the USG has long forgotten it’s primary duty to its taxpayers/citizens, and sees its main duty as selling weapons and maintaining military bases and regional interests. Even though it has plenty of wherewithal (especially vis-a-vis Japan) to take on issues that affect the NJ residents here under their purview. The Canadian Govt. does, what with the Murray Wood Case, for one example. They even commented personally during the Otaru Onsens Case. (The USG did comment on its Country Reports on Human Rights, which I appreciate very much, but it was essentially too little, too late) Here’s the letter. Debito in Sapporo
[Kyushu Permanent Resident, reproduced with permission and anonymized by Debito.org] January 10, 2008
Dear U.S. Embassy,
I just finished reading your January newsletter. In it, like the previous two, you mentioned the new Japanese immigration control law without comment.
What I have not read in recent newsletters – what I and probably many other permanent-resident Americans in Japan are wondering – is what you have done to protest the new law. Regrettably, I have not heard a peep from the embassy regarding this discriminatory law. In case you don’t know, many permanent-resident Americans are upset about it.
I know you diplomats are exempt from the humiliating experience of having to be fingerprinted and photographed. But, what about those of us who have lived her many years (34 in my case), have been good, tax-paying, contributing residents? I am not talking about time or inconvenience. I am talking about being separated from Japanese spouse and kids upon return from abroad, singled out as a potential criminal or terrorist. This, in spite of having already been thoroughly investigated, fingerprinted, etc. to obtain permanent-resident status.
The U.S.A. does not require Japanese who are permanent residents in the U.S. to be fingerprinted when they return to the country. This is grounds enough for a protest to the Japanese government. It is often “gaiatsu” that gets things changed here.
More than just consular services and benign announcements, we Americans expect you to stand up for our rights here. Did the Japanese government ask the Embassy for comment on a law that affects thousands of Americans here, and if so what did you do/say?
Fifteen years ago, Ambassador Walter Mondale fought for the rights of over 100 U.S. citizen teachers at Japanese national universities (I was one.) who were slated to be released because they were in the high pay brackets and close to getting retirement benefits. He met personally with a representative group of affected teachers at the Embassy, and he took the matter to the highest levels of Japanese government and did not give up until they relented and reversed the policy. One point he made was that such an indignity would not happen to the many Japanese academics employed at American universities.
I hope you can so something about this fingerprinting issue; at the very least inform the Japanese government that most Americans resent this new requirement. If you are not sure about the depth of feeling on this issue, you could invite U.S. citizens to write in with feedback/comments on the law.
If your answer is simply that the law is a matter of Japanese internal policy, then you are not serving us well at all.