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  • PS on Gaijin Card Checkpoint at his apartment — Immigration doing door-to-door checks, using physical force (photos included)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on January 27th, 2012

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  Something I’ve noticed about Japan’s anti-crime campaigns:  1) These campaigns are not temporary (as in, “the campaign expires on this date”), meaning inevitable future crackdowns are cumulative (see for example here and here), 2) they quickly take on a racist bent (as NJ are officially depicted as more likely to commit crime, or even just be criminals by existing, as potential “illegal visa overstayers”) and encourage racial profiling in practice (see here and here), and 3) a general lack of legal oversight over the Japanese police means the cops go too far, bending laws (see for example here and here) and in this case targeting politically-disenfranchised people (NJ) who can’t fight back through the system or the media, or even through their political representative (who are basically in on the gaijin bashing for political capital and budgetary gain).

    These are all elements of a police state, and the systematic mistrust of foreigners in Japan enables the bureaucracy to carry out in microcosm what Submitter PS (a pseudonym) reports below.  Fortunately this time, PS had the presence of mind to take photographs of these toughs from Immigration, who clearly felt their need to police gaijin overrode their need to treat people with respect and dignity (not to mention without resorting to physical force and with due process under the law).  Arudou Debito

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    January 23, 2012
    Dear Debito,

    My name is PS. I’m a 45-year-old American living and working in Tokyo, where I’ve resided for the last 8 and a half years. I have a valid working visa, pay my Japanese taxes (both national and local), and have never had any unpleasant encounters with the authorities; that is, until last Thursday, Jan. 19. It’s something that I think you should know about.

    That morning, an Immigration official showed up at the door of my apartment, unannounced, and demanded to see my passport. I was very suspicious that Immigration (not the police) would make a sudden home visit to do a spot-check, especially since I’ve lived in the same apartment since 2003, and since my address has been registered with the Shinagawa Ward office for over 8 years. Anyway, I asked this gentleman to show me his badge so that I could write down his name and badge number. He quickly flashed me some ID, but I pointed out that I didn’t have the opportunity to see, much less write down, the details. In a belligerent tone, he said in English, “Passport first!” I refused, bid him a good day, and started to close my door. It was at this point that things got out of hand.

    The aforementioned gentleman physically blocked my door from closing, and we got into a shoving match that led to my door getting knocked off its tracks. Then, suddenly, four of his associates (2 men and 2 women), who’d apparently been hiding in the stairwell, appeared en masse. Things continued to verbally escalate, though with no further physicality, until one of them finally relented and let me take a photo of his badge. I took the further liberty of photographing the three “men” who were harassing me. The photos are attached. The person wearing the surgical mask in Photos #2 and 3 is the one with whom I tussled. The name stitched on his uniform was “S. Maeda.”

    (NB from Debito: This crappy rubber-stamped and handwritten note passes for GOJ ID??)

    After I was satisfied that these people were who they claimed to be, I retrieved my alien registration card, which I presented to them. One of these individuals tried to take it from me, but I made it quite clear that the card wasn’t leaving my hand. My name and number were written down, and these people finally took their leave. I will admit to getting very upset and giving them quite the tongue-lashing as they were walking away. I couldn’t help but point out the infringements on my human rights, not to mention the ridiculous waste of manpower – 5 officials to harass one law-abiding “gaijin” who pays their salaries through his tax payments.

    After they left, I called my landlady, who rang Immigration on my behalf. The official she spoke said to confirmed that it was indeed their staff who paid me a visit, though the reason was not forthcoming. After I got to work, I rang the U.S. Embassy to report the matter and told my employer as well. My deep concern was that I might “disappear” and wind up in some windowless dungeon, so I wanted to be sure I had some lifelines established.

    This experience has left me terribly shaken and deeply resentful. Given my long tenure in Japan, I was aware that the police on occasion took certain liberties that would not be tolerated in most Western countries (e.g. no Habeas Corpus statute, leading to lengthy incarcerations without charges being filed). However, I had no idea that I was living in a virtual police state in which my home could be practically invaded without cause, and I could be harassed by what struck me as a pack of Gestapo agents, the presence of the two women notwithstanding.

    Thanks to the excellent resources available on your website, I was able to do some research. As far as I can tell, what Immigration did to me was not legal. I know that the Foreign Registry Law, Section 13, compels me to present my alien registration card to a Ministry of Justice official if he/she asks for it. But can such a person just show up at my doorstep out of the blue and make me produce said ID? The people at issue in my case had no just cause to suspect me and produced no warrant, without which I can’t see how they could justify blocking my door and getting physical with me.

    I know you get a lot of e-mail, so I won’t go on any further. However, if you can shed any light on what happened to me (and perhaps spread the word), I’d be very grateful. As I said, this is the first incident of its kind I’ve ever heard of taking place in this country. Thanks for your time in reading this long e-mail.

    Best regards, PS

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    FOLLOW-UP FROM PS:

    Yes, by all means, please post my story (with the photos) at your website.  It’s fine to use my initials:  “P.S.”

    By the way, the American Embassy also got back to me.  They were not much help, just referring me to a link where I could find a lawyer.  In closing, they gently reminded me that, as a foreigner, I was obliged to obey the laws of the country in which I reside, even if they are very different from those of the U.S.  That’s not a point I was disputing, so I wonder if they read my e-mail carefully.

    ENDS

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    FINAL COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Ironic how the USG expects their citizens to obey the laws of the land when even Japanese law enforcement won’t.  Would be nice if the USG et.al would at least make their citizens less disenfranchised by giving them an avenue for channeling complaints of this nature.

    81 Responses to “PS on Gaijin Card Checkpoint at his apartment — Immigration doing door-to-door checks, using physical force (photos included)”

    1. Pearse Says:

      That’s terrible what they did. It would be great if the Japanese media picked up on stories like this.

    2. Pearse Says:

      Do Immigration officials have a right to enter a residence? It seems like if you showed them what they wanted to see they should just leave right away. They could view a passport or gaikokujintorokushomeisho at the genkan, or from outside, and just leave.

    3. John Andresen Says:

      憲兵隊KEMPEITAI REDUX

    4. Johnny Says:

      This is outrageous. The sheer arrogance of these people in the way that they behave.

    5. sendaiben Says:

      This case reminds us of the need to consider not opening the door (or using the chain to open it) to strangers.

      It reminds me of that US video that recommended never opening the door to the police unless you called them or they have a warrant.

      I’d be furious if this happened to me (less likely, as residence is registered in my tsuumei -a common Japanese surname).

      Hope the OP gets a sense of closure.

    6. Matt Says:

      Good job. Perhaps taking their photos helped shorten their visit. I recommend recording things next time.

      I am sure that P.S. was one in a long line of foreigners they probably visited that day. Probably merely an excuse to leave the office for the afternoon, as how could anyone argue with the task of ‘confronting foreigners about their visa status’? This wouldn’t look anything but commendable service.

      I implore you, P.S., to not leave this alone. Go to the immigration office and demand to speak to a superior officer and ask why this happened. Show him/her the photos you took, and explain what happened. Tell the officer why you think this is wrong, i.e., being treated like a criminal in front of neighbors, family, friends. What if you had an important business client in your residence? Tell the officer that if you don’t receive a satisfactory answer, you will pursue this further.

    7. CJ Says:

      I’m sorry this happened to you. You were brave to do what you did.

    8. Kevin Callahan Says:

      Those don’t even look like real people to me. I have only ever been asked to present my information to uniformed police, they were always friendly apologetic, and polite. Not to mention in uniform. I would not have believed these people to be anything but impostors in their plain clothes with fake looking IDs. I have a good relationship with my koban and my city officials (as I work for the city), and I would have immediately shut my door and called the police and my supervisor. Since these actually were legitimate immigration officials, I have to ask what would have happened had I done so…

    9. Becky Says:

      Agree with everything Matt says above. This is absolutely disgusting.

    10. Mumei Says:

      If all that they wanted to see was your passport, they keep photographed and scanned copies at Immigrations. And the current and past visa details are also kept on record there as well. There really should not be much reason for an immigration officer to need to see yours in person. And since you showed them your alien card and they were satisfied with that, they probably should have just gone to your local shi/kuyakusho. I imagine that they would not have cooperated without a court order, which may be why they came to you.

      Unless you are planning to follow this up with a Japanese lawyer, I would probably just go down to the Shinagawa Immigrations in person. If you have a Japanese spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, or just a good friend, ask that they come with you. There is a questions booth on the second floor. (They will ask for your passport. Give it to them willingly.) Ask what is going on, what prompted it, and what you can do to prevent future occurrences. Stay calm. Being confrontational will not help you, so avoid questioning the legality of their actions there. But do tell them that it was very fuyukai and was meiwaku to your landlord as well. If still you do not receive any useful explanation, then shikata naku calmly return home.

    11. A Man In Japan Says:

      He says that he went to his embassy and that they did not help him.
      I find this absolutely horrendous.
      How are we meant to be get help if something happens to us?
      If the Japanese have a problem in the country that they have decided to live in, all they have to do is run to their embassy and they will help them.
      But whenever it comes for us to go to our embassy, they refuse to do anything for us.
      I think that this is something that all of us should be deeply concerned about.
      Why are Japanese people getting special treatment, while we get the middle finger?

    12. David Says:

      Hi PS,

      I’m sorry to hear about your experience. Coming so close to the economist article on Chris Johnson’s experience at Narita airport it has made me even more worried what might happen when interacting with immigration. To date my experiences, finger printing aside, have been mostly pleasant and polite. However I have seen some of the behavior you describe in other situations in with authorities Japan, so sadly, it is easy to imagine how this took place.

      I wonder if they gave you any reasons for conducting the “spot check” at your door? Compared to the immigration check at Narita, this is especially worrisome because, they took the time and made the effort to send a group of people to your abode.

      I don’t know if you have plans to follow-up with MOFA but I would be very interested to hear any more on this story. Well done on documenting it, too.

      Thanks so much for sharing.

    13. CJ Says:

      I agree with the previous posters. I would suggest that if you feel threatened to suddenly see people at your door like that, call police (number 110?), tell them your name and address, tell them a group of people are at your door, and you are scared. And then, hand your phone to the Immi officers at your door. Police will say (this is … from … division…, what is going on …). That will send a warning message to the Immis not to go beyond the law. The police might even come over to your house. The police and Immi are separate fiefdoms in Japan. During my ordeal at Narita, the police rushed to my defence twice. They saved me from a worst case scenario.

    14. TJJ Says:

      I would be suspicious of anyone coming to my door dressed in plain clothes and claiming to be from some government department. Immigration officials don’t bother to wear suits anymore? Strange. Like the other posters above I’d just not answer the door in future.

    15. Massimo Says:

      I am sorry to hear what happened to you PS. It should not happen to anybody I think. This is where the system steps over its bounds in my opinion.
      I hope you will be able to, at least, get some answers, because I think they are well deserved.
      I have the feeling that it could have happened because of some ‘good citizen’ giving a call to immigration and telling them that they better check out for a suspicious gaijin….
      The immigration site asking people to denounce ‘suspicious foreigners’ scares me because it gives to anybody the power that they should not have. A self calling advanced country should not have a policy like this. It reminds me of the witch hunts, the holy inquisition and the nazis.
      These are the things, that even after long long years in Japan, make me feel unwanted here, which is a pity considering how much I am connected to this land. Sometimes I wish that all foreigners left Japan at once, to make everybody understand that Japan cannot go on by itself (like the right wing extremist like to think).

    16. Dude don't taser me! Says:

      These meatheads are international breed cut from the same stock. To dim-witted to acquire any level of post secondary education they choose a Fast Track To Position And Power by becoming Police or Immigration officers. 6 months of police or immigration academy and they are in the streets with they kevlar and batons looking threw peoples bags. Every now and then they take their judo classes or learn about a new “safer” taser that less likely to kill someone.

      Once My girlfriend and I walked past a Koban and the cop stopped me to see my passport and my girlfriend was really nervous, I had a current visa but they asked her for her address. I was new to Japan so I didn’t know what they could get away with. When all was said and done she was still very concerned and I asked why and she was afraid they were going to come and “rape me”. Now, I know thats not going to happen but why would a young woman be afraid of being raped by a cop in Japan?

      I suspect someone will tell me that a Japanese officers do go to university, but I’d be hard pressed to believe it because they obviously have issues with reading comprehension by the way they break the rules.

    17. Piglet Says:

      The ID doesn’t look legitimate and these people were not wearing suit and tie (which is very common in my country but not so in Japan). I wouldn’t give them my private information if these people came to my door. We definitely need some follow up on this story.

    18. Colin Says:

      An unfortunate incident. But the thugs running the show can do whatever they want. Law or not/right or wrong. So many horrible abusive situations have occurred to people and have been reported yet nothing changes. In the States PS would have been beaten into submission by the police. This kind of behaviour is way out of hand. Might be too late to change any of this unless there is massive protesting in the millions. Police states have a good hold on everything and everyone at the moment.

    19. Curious Says:

      Mr. PS – I’m sorry to hear about the harassment you have received recently. Please allow me to suggest you ask around your circle of friends who might have been recently investigated by the police or immigration. It could be your name came up on a recent call list on someone’s confiscated cell phone. Or, like someone else mentioned, you were reported as being a suspicious foreigner.

    20. AJ Says:

      @Dude, because it happened perhaps?

      http://www.japantoday.com/smartphone/view/crime/cop-arrested-for-allegedly-sexually-assaulting-two-junior-high-school-girls

    21. crustpunker Says:

      PS- How did they know you would be home on a Thursday morning? It seems like quite an odd time to pop by for a random visitation. What time exactly was it? Seems like an unannounced visit from officials would take anyone AT THE VERY LEAST 20 min. (without any massive hassle) and would potentially cause one to be tardy for work or miss a train etc…

      Sorry about what happened to you but I find myself curious about this one detail…

      try not to harbor too much rage. Or at least get it out of you in a way that is not harmful to yerselves or others. Like screaming into a pillow really loud or something.

    22. TJJ Says:

      Looking at the pictures again, that ID certainly does look fake. There’s no logo (MOJ or otherwise), a hand-written serial number, shoddy paper. And, without being cruel, they do look like thugs. I wonder if they really were legitimate.

    23. crustpunker Says:

      also, Upon opening the door, did they clearly identify who they were to you before asking you to present your passport? I think it is important to establish in fine detail how it went from the get go….

      If you live in an apartment block, perhaps it was that there had been rumors or confirmed instances of NJ who had overstayed their visa and were canvassing the area to see if any other people might be involved or had ties to them?

      just an idea…

    24. CJ Says:

      I’m not convinced that Fab Four in the photo were actually Immi officers. If they showed up at my door, I would assume foul play. They look like criminals to me, not uniformed government officers in a hierarchy.

      I see no uniforms, name tags or number tags. All papers I received at Narita bear a different o-hanko stamp, (a stylized 大 kanji) different than the one on his book. All my papers bear the official name, Japan Government, Ministry of Justice, Immigration Bureau. Others have:法 務省入国管理局

      His supposed papers say Tokyo Immigration Bureau, with no mention of a sub-branch, (example, Shinagawa or Minato-ku).

      His photo doesn’t show him in a uniform. It is cut off in a strange way.

      check out this bank transfer scam using Immi Bureau: http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/

      Swedish war correspondent Urban Hamid and I were almost kidnapped on a dock in Mindanao, Philippines by guys in camouflage uniforms showing us “official army ID”. Tell-tale sign: they didn’t have an army vehicle. After we got away, we called army contacts who told us, “those were definitely not our guys.”

      You were very smart not to let those folks in, and clever to take a photo. I would suggest you go to the police and/or official immi office immediately and check this out. Maybe it was a raid, or maybe it was a home invasion.

      ======================

      http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/keiziban/happyou/sagi_080828.html

      August 2008 Immigration Bureau of Japan

      [Warning] E-mails thought to be related to a bank transfer scam that uses the name of the Immigration Bureau of Japan

      The other day, we were informed that someone “received an e-mail with instructions to make a bank transfer in cash to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau.” The contents of the e-mail were as follows.

      ○ “Currently, at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, we are assisting people to find employment at “Japan Energy (JOMO)” based on the Japanese government’s policy of securing highly-skill foreign nationals. The Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau will take care of procedures such as for a certificate of eligibility, etc. of job candidates. We request that you transfer the processing fees related to these various procedures to the designated bank account.”

      The Immigration Bureau does not request cash transfers for various applications in advance.

      Consequently, if you do receive the above kind of e-mail, bear in mind that it does not have anything to do with the Immigration Bureau. As there is a high possibility that this e-mail is part of a bank transfer scam that uses the name of the Immigration Bureau, please make sure to be careful.

      For inquiries regarding this matter
      Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau: General Affairs Division (03-5796-7250)
      ENDS

    25. Brooks Says:

      Could someone translate what the ID says in Japanese?

      – Sure. From right to left:

      ==================================
      Dai Higashi Nari [I assume the district of Higashinari-ku] Number 20-24

      Tokyo Immigration Bureau
      Immigration Patrol Officer Motoki Hideyuki
      DOB April 3, 1979
      Issued March 30, 2009 (stamped by a M. Nikai)

      ==================================

      That’s it!

    26. crustpuner Says:

      I feel like it needs to be pointed out that the main point of an unannounced visit is to arrive without the person in question (in this case PS) having any time to prepare for the sudden surprise (and intrusion). I mean, that IS the whole point right? That is, if they had some legit reason to suspect someone of some kind of violation. I don’t really agree with the tactics but just sayin’…

      I do find it super weird though that (according to the story so far) they weren’t VERY explicit about who they were, where they were from and why they were showing up outta the blue. It would seem that this would be standard procedure so as to not have the person of intrest freak out and also so that the “officials” could do their job and move on.

      Until someone can provide a link or photo to what an actual GOJ/Immigration Bureau ID looks like, There isn’t much anyone can do except speculate that it may or may not be a “real” ID.

      It does look pretty shite though if you ask me. I mean, the ARC cards are way more flash than that! At least we have that going for us as NJ! pretty ARC’s with hol-e-grams!

    27. Icarus Says:

      The landlady called Immigration and got verification of their identity sans the reason for the visit.

      Isn’t that all the verification we need? If they weren’t from Immigration, Immigration would have said so. Any more speculation seems like a waste of time.

      This is exactly the kind of verifiable story that needs to be pushed through to the proper channels and get more exposure.

    28. Mumei Says:

      > Dai Higashi Nari [I assume the district of Higashinari-ku] Number 20-24

      I am a little puzzled by that as well.
      But Higashinari-ku is in Ōsaka.
      Why would a Tōkyō Immigration ID be issued from Ōsaka?
      Going from memory, I seem to recall that Tōkyō Immigration would place ID stamps beginning (or ending?) with 東 in it, supposedly to indicate that it was issued by Tōkyō Immigrations as opposed to elsewhere.
      But in that case, I cannot account for 成.
      Perhaps an abbreviation for 東京成田 (Tōkyō-Narita), but I am not sure of the relevance and am only guessing.

      – Yes, quite so. I noticed that too, and the speculation is quite plausible. If it is actually Tokyo Narita, then it seems that Immigration’s policing tentacles are extending beyond the border and into people’s homes… But let’s not speculate further without further confirmation.

    29. mrjohn Says:

      I think the gentleman concerned has been the victim of an over zealous neighbourhood busybody who has seen one of those “Do you know of any illegal foreigners” posters and decided that he was one. The immigration office cannot give a reason because they don’t have one. They wasted their time and yours, and they know it.

    30. crustpuner Says:

      ummmm, seems like a good place to insert this insanity:
      J-Cops allegedly punching an 8 year old KID?!?!

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120124zg.html

      – Yes, but this case is messy, as the father appears to be spoiling for a fight with the cops. The alleged overreaction of the cop notwithstanding, I don’t feel like touching this one on Debito.org.

    31. trustbutverify Says:

      Quote: I’m not convinced that Fab Four in the photo were actually Immi officers…

      Given that PS tells us himself that his landlady called the immigration bureau directly and verified that the visit was indeed from immigration staff, I think we can drop the criminal gang of imposters line of inquiry and focus attention where it belongs: the unwarranted and heavy handed abuse of power by government officials against someone who in this case has done absolutely nothing wrong.

      Looking at the photos, I have no issue believing that they are rank and file immigration field officers.

      – I have to admit, the bulldog in the back has a classic world-weary-seen-everything-mistrust-everyone-as-a-potential-criminal-with-something-to-hide J-cop face. Is it just me, or do seasoned cops begin to look like “cops” in any country?

    32. TJJ Says:

      @ Icarus

      We don’t know what the landlady said over the telephone, how confident she is with questioning government officials or even if she actually made a call at all. Perhaps she did though, as all she asked is whether there is an immigration officer named Motoki Hideyuki. And maybe there is such a person at immigration, but it’s not the guy who turned up with a fake ID.

      In other words, we lack information at this stage and nothing is above suspicion.

    33. TJJ Says:

      – I have to admit, the bulldog in the back has a classic world-weary-seen-everything-mistrust-everyone-as-a-potential-criminal-with-something-to-hide J-cop face. Is it just me, or do seasoned cops begin to look like “cops” in any country?

      I don’t know about that but it looks like he’s been taxing the Johhny Walker pretty heavily. :p

    34. trustbutverify Says:

      Couple of Youtube videos showing Japan immigration officers doing their thing. Plain clothes.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypiCVNGLSpA

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La8APLJPAWE

    35. Icarus Says:

      @TJJ

      “After they left, I called my landlady, who rang Immigration on my behalf. The official she spoke said to confirmed that it was indeed their staff who paid me a visit, though the reason was not forthcoming.”

      They confirmed it was their staff that made the visit. Unless she didn’t call and decided to make the whole thing up this detail has already been worked out.

      Maybe the Immigration officers are trained to show an alternate page when asked to avoid giving out too much information or to prevent aliens from seeing what the official page looks like. There are a million more reasonable explanations to believe other than they are yakuza or something.

      Skip to the 2min 12sec point of this video:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNuX8Q8_r2c
      All of the Immigration people are wearing casual clothes including t-shirts. They even approach the immigrants in the same way. All they say is, “Tokyo Immigration,” and immediately starting by asking for passports and ARCs.

    36. CJ Says:

      I would double-check, not just take the word of the landlady. Either way, it’s a freaky situation and you handled it very well.

    37. Deezy Says:

      Assuming they are legit I wonder if this is linked to the new ARC cards that are going to be issued.Now that immigration and not the ward office will be issuing these perhaps they’ve decided to become more aggressive in going for overstayers as they’ll now be held responsible and blamed by the press if the number goes up. .This may be a practice run to train officers in how to doorstep(why 5 of them?)PS may have just been a random choice for practice. Really need to find out if there have been any other cases.

    38. Pitarou Says:

      PS

      I really hope you can find out more about the reason for this incident. They had no business coming over without a warrant.

    39. Jim Says:

      Yes, the embassy read your email. They could give a shit less, its not their priority.

    40. Jim Di Griz Says:

      I have just shown this thread to a friend of my wife, who is a cop in Osaka. She (the cop) said that in Osaka the immigrations officials carry a plasticized ID photo cards that show the officier in uniform. She thinks that the situation may be different in other parts of Japan, but she thinks that this was a scam of some sort, and that the ID’s look fake (she laughed at the photo on the card, because she couldn’t use that on her ID, it’s badly cropped). She thinks that PS should report the matter to the police, and show them the photos. I know that going to the cops might not be a popular suggestion, but with the right attitude it should be ok to explain and ask what they think about the ID cards.
      My 2 cents; maybe just someone checking the place out before a robbery, ’cause they think NJ are less likely to go to the police? OR (more sinister and paranoid option), right wingers up to something ‘sketchy’.

    41. Carl Says:

      A few things…

      1. OPENING YOUR DOOR: Never open your door to strangers. Period. I learned this as a child from my mother. As an adult, girlfriends sometimes wonder “Someone’s knocking at your door, why won’t you answer? What are you worried about? Are you hiding something?” I would simply tell them, “I haven’t invited anyone over, so unless the building is on fire (in which case I’ll hear commotion) they have no expectation to show up unannounced at my home and get an answer. If it is official business, the person will leave a note.” This was my policy in the U.S. It is also my policy in Japan. Tons of people have knocked on my door. I never answer. The “only” time I did answer and opened the door is once I looked through the peephole and saw a Tepco uniform. And even then (call me over zealous) I asked to see his I.D. and asked for his meishi (which he happily handed over).

      If I am “forced” somehow to answer someone at my door (e.g. they are persistent and just won’t leave after knocking for a long time), I just speak to them through the door. The only people I can imagine “forcing me” through simple verbal command to open my door is the police. If it’s the police demanding I open the door, then I’ll open the door, but I won’t necessarily let them in. That’s my behavior in Japan because I am essentially, on paper, a guest. In the U.S., where I am a citizen, I won’t even open the door to the police unless I am shown a court warrant. Mind you, I’ve never been arrested in my entire life and I am law abiding. I simply don’t like playing with chance when it comes to my home.

      *Remember: When you open your door to your home (your only supposedly safe private place) you open your private world to the unknown. If someone official wants access to your most private space, they should ask in advance. Anything else is rude at best and authoritarian at worst.

      2. IMMIGRATION: In a top-tier rich nation with one of the very smallest populations of immigrants on the planet, I think it is reasonable to interpret this kind of behavior as a solid example of Japan’s attitude toward immigration. They don’t want you. Yes, you’ll mostly be treated politely, and you’ll have access to “almost” all facilities Japanese have access to, but don’t let the polite behavior and routine fool you. Paying taxes for years and owning a home in Japan may “feel” like it gives you rights (which is a reasonable thought), but in reality, you’re just paying into a system that doesn’t really recognize you as a full person with the same rights as a Japanese person. In general, foreigners residents are not wanted in Japan. Tourists? Sure! Long term residents? No.

      3. MASKS: One thing I’ve noticed in Japan that is hardly talked about is how Japanese people will sometimes use those surgical masks as a prop to allow them to be rude and not have to directly engage you (and, in the worst case scenario, hide their face). This happened to me at immigration and in various other situations with service people. Most of the time that I receive overtly rude treatment in Japan (which is rare, by the way), the person is usually wearing a mask. If someone shows up at your door, and you do decide to open it, demand that they remove the mask before proceeding further. Trust me, it makes a difference. This may sound silly to those without long Japan experience, but believe me, for Japanese people, wearing a surgical mask can often act as a social crutch of sorts. Yes, some people wear the mask due to sickness, and some have allergies, but some people wear them when they simply don’t want to be bothered and want to avoid directly engaging people. Remember how bold you and your friends feel during Halloween wearing your masks? Same thing. Sounds silly, but it’s a real part of Japan’s social quirks.

    42. Kevin Callahan Says:

      TJJ has a point.

      As I said earlier, I have long dealt with Japanese police and members of Immigration. Now, I live in a rural area where everyone knows everyone, and the immigration officers (all in uniforms with IMMIGRATION badges) I go to every time to renew my visa call me “Sensei” and amicably chat me up while processing my paperwork. My koban is the very definition of omawari-san. The only time he has ever come to my door was because he heard I was sick and had purchased over the counter medicine. In Narita I was stopped by two police officers and asked to present my passport prior to entering security. I complied, they apologised for the delay, noticed I was a long term resident, took down my information, thanked me for my patience, said it was standard policy, and they hoped that I wasn’t offended.

      I wouldn’t trust these people at all. It goes totally against my experiences after years in Japan. Rude? Not in uniform? Crappy IDs? Landlady call or no landlady call, these people look like fakes, and they’d have frightened me.

    43. Tony in Saitama Says:

      This;
      http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/soshiki/kikou/address/03.html#3_16

      tells us there is a “東部出張所” “Tokyo Eastern Branch Office” of the Tokyo Immigration bureau that deals exclusively with #摘発” – basically finding illegal aliens.
      I can only presume this is where Mr. Motoki came from.

      It is possible that someone alerted the immigration officials that a lot of foreigners had been coming and going from this residence; (Had a party recently? Friends visiting? Pissed off a neighbour?) and this triggered a stakeout. But up until the point they tried to force entry, there is nothing illegal here. (Behaving like assholes is only anti-social.)

      And the ID does look considerably amateur compared to the police one; http://www.npa.go.jp/kouhousi/police-50th/history/equipment/notebook02.html

    44. debito Says:

      The Surprise Home Gaijin Card Check story makes JapanZine:

      http://www.seekjapan.jp/article/jz/3380/Violent+Immigration+Surprise+Housecall+Startles+%28Legal%29+Resident

    45. Charuzu Says:

      All of this serves to reinforce the fact that non-Japanese are viewed as an inferior, marginalised group deserving of few rights.

      The police officers — who deal primarily with Japanese — have high quality identification cards and badges, so as to ensure that fellow Japanese are not abused.

      Immigration officers, who deal primarily with non-Japanese, need no such badges, in the same way that a worker in an abbatoir needs no identification.

      Similarly, immigration officers need not err on the side of protecting your rights, because they internalise the fact that a non-Japanese has diminished and unimportant rights.

      They are especially aggressive, because Japanese society wants them to err in favour of breaking the law, in the fulfillment of their duties to root out unsanctioned immigrants.

      As such, Japanese media do not cover this, because none of this is viewed as troubling to Japan.

      In a profoundly xenophobic society, xenophobia is not worthy of media attention.

      An interesting work is:

      http://gradworks.umi.com/14/74/1474940.html

      who points out that effective immigration policy requires efforts by government to socially integrate newly admitted immigrants.

      However, as this blog has often shown, social integration of non-Japanese is extremely rare.

      This work [ http://dspace.wul.waseda.ac.jp/dspace/handle/2065/32447 ] also points out that xenophobia is highly present in Japan.

    46. Loverilakkuma Says:

      It’s so weird to see immigration officers–not the local police–who made a sudden visit without notifying foreign residents. What makes it even weirder; however, is immigration officer’s ID card shown in the first photo. The ID just doesn’t look authentic, to me, regarding the handwritings on an issue number and name without “hanko” (or a stamp). Even though the ID is real, it just doesn’t make sense why there’s a blank on the issue number. The ID could be forged or fabricated in any way if it’s gotten into a wrong hand. It makes them more suspicious since the rest three didn’t even bother to drop names in an attempt to raid the apartment. Does anyone know what the ID for immigration officer looks like? Wonder how the MOJ keeps their employees’ records as a general operation.

    47. Fred Says:

      Honestly, I think its a scam. The poster who posted about the mask is spot on, they are usually just a ploy worn to not deal with you or others, same phenomenon we see with the cell phones on the train, extreme introversion. They all look suspicious to me, no uniform and an ID that is a joke. I think you reported it to the people least interested, you should of went to the J police. the embassy could of least looked into it, and recongized a scam being they have just about every US gov agency over there with many resources. Their response is a joke, but quite expected.

    48. Al Says:

      I’ve experienced similar behavior from Japanese police, though not immigration officials. I’ve had my arm forcefully grabbed twice, even after I showed them my ARC; because they wanted me to physically hand it to them, which I was reluctant to do.

      I had a friend who was detained for an hour on the street, not even for an ARC check, but just because they wanted him to sign a paper written in Japanese and which he couldn’t read. Needless to say he refused to sign it, and was surrounded by 10 police officers for an hour.

      But just showing up at the door? That’s something I haven’t experienced yet. Next time, ask for a warrant. Shut the door in their face, and if they won’t let you, just retreat into your house and call the police. Make them come into the house without a warrant, you’ll have more legal footing that way.

      The only way to stand up against the police in Japan is to sue. There’s no other way. Their whole internal “investigation” of their own misconduct is a joke. You send off a letter of complaint, and you’ll just get back a letter that says they didn’t do anything wrong. It’s pretty much a canned response that they send out to anyone who complains. They committed the violation and now they’re going to investigate themselves?? Sounds like a bad joke. Get a lawyer and sue.

      And don’t expect the U.S. Embassy to do anything except remind you that you’re in their country and you have to follow their laws. Just another canned response. Best thing to do is make more noise, get the word out, and sue if you can.

    49. CJ Says:

      are the two Immi officers at beginning of this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La8APLJPAWE same as the two at right in your photo?

    50. Fred Says:

      Actually, if this turns out to be a scam, the embassy could do something about it, like investigate, then put in their monthly newsletter a warning to its citizens like they did for the roppongi drink spike incidents. The avoidance of responsiblity is typical, and to be expected, until somebody gets hurt.

    51. Blackrat Says:

      Whether they were genuine police officers or scam artists, this kind of behaviour is deplorable. I’ve lived in Japan for over twenty years with a break in the middle, and to be fair, have never experienced anything quite this traumatic. I remember once complaining to my young, single neighbour who was a noisy inconsiderate man-child when his music or TV had yet again disturbed my sleep. I was drunk at the time of the confrontation and I scared the living crap out of him apparently since next day there was a cop on my doorstep. He took my details, and asked to see my Alien Card, but he was polite about it. On the same morning I had NHK and a Jehovah’s Witless visit me. I gave both of them similar suggestions that got rid of them pretty sharp.

      I’ve been a keen reader and periodic contributer to this excellent website for the past year of so. I can’t help but see a trend here. Perhaps it was the earthquake last year, but since then I can’t shake the feeling that Japan is becoming a less and less welcoming place, either that or my rose-tinted goggles just fell off and it was all along. Japan has been my adopted home for nearly half my life, but I shall be leaving at the end of July and am quite certain I shall never return except for perhaps some very irregular visits as a tourist. It’s sad. For a long while I deluded myself that we can integrate here and be accepted. I fear that is almost impossible for most of us. It may be different outside the big cities as one contributor above mentioned.

      Good luck to those of you who stay and fight. For me, it simply isn’t worth it anymore.

    52. Norman Diamond Says:

      Massimo Says:
      January 27th, 2012 at 10:25 am
      “I have the feeling that it could have happened because of some ‘good citizen’ giving a call to immigration and telling them that they better check out for a suspicious gaijin….”

      I think so too. I think that’s why immigration officials didn’t give a reason, and demanded a passport instead of gaijin card, didn’t give advance notice, etc.

      Immigration officials rotate through various jobs. When working in an immigration office they would wear a suit and tie but when out raiding law-abiding visitors they wear frumpy clothes. Immigration does raid people’s homes anywhere in the country. The ID looks pretty suspicious though.

      I can’t imagine who would expect help from the US embassy.

    53. PS Says:

      PS HERE. I’m the guy whose account has spurred such an overwhelming response. I want to sincerely thank everyone for their input and support. The suggestions that the “gang of 5″ may not have been genuine Immigration officials got me thinking. It turns out that another American guy living on the ground floor of my building was not approached by these people on Jan. 19. My apt. is upstairs on the second floor (or first floor to those from the UK and Commonwealth) and at the end of the hallway to boot! I’ve had no unpleasant run-ins with any residents of my neighborhood and haven’t had any visitors in many months. (My place is small and cramped; not an ideal location to entertain friends).

      So, this past Friday, I sent an e-mail, including the pictures, to the Immigration folks to find out if the people I photographed actually worked for them. I kept the message very matter-of-fact and made no complaints, aside from stating my concern that they did not, in fact, represent the Japan Bureau of Immigration. When (or if) they respond to me, I’ll post their answer here.

      About the U.S. Embassy’s response, I was actually not surprised at their lack of willingness to do anything. My country is unfortunately not the place it was at its founding, and its government now seeks only to protect American trade and military interests abroad. American citizens living overseas are an afterthought to them, at best, and an annoyance, at worst.

      By the way, I checked out the “Japan Immigration Raid” video at YouTube. I didn’t notice any physical similarities between the thugs it showed to the ones who confronted me. Still, the fact that those people in the vid. traveled in packs and wore plain clothes during their raids strongly hearkened back to my own experience.

      Once again – thank you, Debito, and everyone who has contributed their two cents’ worth. I’ll be sure to post updates as they happen.

      -PS

    54. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      PS, one question: did they specifically ask for you, by name, when they knocked on the door? It’s not clear from the account above if they just knocked on your door, saw your foreign face, and demanded your passport (which is what the title “door-to-door checks” implies), or if they went to your address specifically to find you, which is more like a kind of raid or stakeout.

      Did they ask for “Mr. PS” and then start the questioning when you confirmed that you were indeed PS?

    55. jim Says:

      I think that they should offer this person an immediate apology since they just casually violated his human rights. I would like to know if for example this same thing happened to me or someone I know then what action can be taken, such as filing a complaint or who is accountable? And who oversees these people that came to his door and pushed him?

    56. Fred Says:

      The problem with the staff at the embassy is that they rotate in and out, and some are here because of their fascination with Japan. It was always my impression that the Japanese run the place anyway, so when the diplomat ask the Japanese senior individual on how to handle it, of course their response would not always be the most appropriate for the situation as manipulation or influence might be involved. Just my observation. The response this individual got is to be expected, its a shame when things have come to this but actually its the norm now. Ive always said that if I got injured in front of the embassy by a yakuza or right winger type, they would be like *did you hear about that guy in front of the gate* Thanks to Debito san for a forum so that we all can post stuff like this here.

    57. PS Says:

      Answer to “Mark in Yayoi” – No, I did not hear these people use my name at any time. On my floor, there are four small apartments, three of which are currently unoccupied. However, that morning, I was listening to an English-language talk show that I had recorded the previous day. Given the very shoddy construction of my apt. building, it could easily have been heard from the outside. As a side note, the volume at which I was playing the recording was not excessive, IMHO, so I doubt it prompted any complaints from neighboring houses.

    58. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @Jim;
      ‘I think that they should offer this person an immediate apology since they just casually violated his human rights.’
      Calm down Jim. Before everyone gets all outraged, haven’t we learnt ANYTHING from the whole CJ saga? Let’s apply some critical thinking and ask for more information before we go in all guns blazing against officialdom.
      We don’t know the full details. Mark in Yayoi (54) raises an important point as to whether PS was asked for by name when he opened the door.
      Surely this incident raises the fact that there is a need for immigration to publicize and inform (just like the J-police) as to what exactly official ID looks like in order to remove the fear of being scammed.
      Also, any legal experts here? My wife’s J-cop friend says that if you are in doubt as to the identity of any visitor asking for access, you should explain that you are refusing on the basis of that doubt, and will phone the police (N.B. CJ! J-police ARE #110, surely you know that having been here so long?) Any genuine visitor should have no problem waiting for the police to come and clear things up, and the J-Police won’t be put out (any more than usual) at having to come over.

    59. flyjin Says:

      PS, as soon as you said “Shinagawa ward” I knew it was the same place I used to live at, though quite a few years ago. The picture of the door confirms it. The shinagawa police have always targetted it as its an easy mark-a gaijin house-with easy access. I have mentioned it on a different thread before.I used to just stay in bed and go back to sleep rather than answer; I knew it was them as I could hear them then moving to the next apartment to “check who is living here”.

      During the G7 meeting in hokkaido (2007), they also had a deputized nosy ojisan at every corner, eyeing up the gaijin.

      It was so paranoid inducing though, and I soon moved the hell out of Tokyo. No longer worth the hassle.

    60. Tom Says:

      Wow, it is almost like you live in Arizona. I personally have had only one almost uncomfortable spot in my 10 years here, when a rather zealous policeman kept insisting that I speak English to him as he checked out my ARC.(He got angry when I spoke Japanese) I honestly don’t know how I would handle the attitudes of the 5 that showed at your door, but you did a great job keeping your cool. From now on the chain is staying on my door if I don’t recognize the people on the other side. I personally would have called the police during or immediately after. Please keep us informed and I hope you can let it not bother you too much. Strange to think that I am actually wishing that it was a group of criminals rather than government agents, but I am…at least with criminals you have no expectations…

    61. Curious Says:

      Lots of well-wishers recommending a call to the police. My opinion differs. The police will instantly back off with a word from the immigration thugs. “We’re on a officially-sanctioned illegal immigrant check.”

      Game over with the J-cops. The only person you should be calling is your lawyer. And even then, the lawyer should already be at your flat, otherwise he will be to late for the party.

      The best solution is from Flyjin who recommends you don’t answer your door for anyone (unless it’s the deliveryman.) Let them bust the door down if they feel it’s important enough. It most definitely won’t be.

    62. Meat67 Says:

      Sorry for the slightly off topic, but for some reason there are certain types of petty dickery that irritate me enough that I feel the need to comment even when I know it’s probably unproductive.

      >(N.B. CJ! J-police ARE #110, surely you know that having been here so long?)
      I had been in Japan for seven or eight years when someone broke into my apartment. I called the fire department, dialing 119. They told me to call the police by dialing 110. So, yeah, it’s not something that everyone has completely memorized.

    63. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      @PS – Your post #57 and the responses following it now have me thinking that this wasn’t a case of immigration inspectors checking on you specifically, or a response to a “snitch site” request. Now I’m thinking that they were just looking for any foreigners they could find; more along the lines of the “door-to-door” in the title.

      I was a little suspicious when your landlady called Immigration, confirmed that the inspectors were indeed at the house, and then (seemingly) did nothing in protest. Does she actually own the building, or does she just manage it? I ask because to get to your apartment, they had to enter her property! What property owner gets a report of anyone coming onto private property, that they own, uninvited and unannounced, then harassing her tenants and using physical force, and then just shrugs it off?

      But if you live in a so-called “gaijin house”, the landlady or manager might be aware of these visits. A little Googling brought up this Debito.org story from a few years ago:

      http://www.debito.org/?p=86

      …where immigration inspectors (presumably — they didn’t identify themselves) waited outside a well-known gaijin house for residents to pass by, then caught one and demanded her papers. A complaint to the building manager resulted in basically nil.

      If it’s not too private, could you tell us if you live in a “gaijin house”? And if so, what spaces are public and what are private? (And of the private space, what’s exclusively residents, such as common areas, and what’s specifically for each renter?) In my apartment, for example, there are four levels of privacy: (1) the land the building occupies, (2) the building lobby, (3) the residential part of the building, which requires a door lock code, and (4) each person’s apartment. The residents’ board, of which I’m a member, would have a fit if someone forced their way into (3) and definitely (4). Visitors have to wait in the lobby until the resident comes down, and even then there’s an inside waiting room where you can meet with such visitors.

      Basically I want to know if these inspectors trespassed onto anyone’s private property, and if so, whose. I suspect that their entry onto your landlord’s property was questionable — unless, of course, the landlord is aware of and accepts these visits.

    64. PS Says:

      @Crustpunker. Good question about the exact time these thugs came by my place on Jan. 19! I wasn’t looking at my watch, but it was between 9:15 and 9:30 a.m. During the melee, I rang my landlady, as I’ve mentioned, and the time stamp on my mobile phone record of the call is 9:32 a.m. I was dressed for work and about to leave.

    65. PS Says:

      Quick postscript to my last comment (#63). When I first called my landlady at 9:32 a.m., she didn’t answer her phone, so I couldn’t get her to talk to my “friendly” visitors. However, I did get through to her later in the morning after I’d arrived at work.

      And, yes, I should have called the police. My reasoning for not doing so was that my Japanese ability was poor, and I doubted that I could get my point across. My adrenaline was also pumping like crazy, so it was hard for my logical mind to sort out the wisest course of action.

      Two lessons I’ve learned – don’t answer my door unless I’m positive of the identity of the person on the other side, and learn the proper Japanese expressions for describing a situation in progress to the cops.

    66. Kane Says:

      Yep. 61. As a rule, wherever I live, I never answer the door. All friends and family know your telephone number so would never turn up unannounced. If the postman needs to deliver a large packet, you are either expecting it or he will leave a card telling you to get in touch.

      Last year, my doorbell was rang constantly in the early mornings and in the evenings. Not once did I answer and not once did anyone leave a note. It became a battle of wills. My hunch was that it was the local bicycle police or some neighbourhood watch organisation who perhaps checked my mountain bike and discovered it was registered in Fukushima. Eventually after 2 months, whoever it was who felt it important enough to come visiting in the early mornings and evenings (without leaving any note or card), gave up. No idea who it was, but I suspect I saved myself having to tangle with some needless jobs-worth who was out to make my life a bit harder. I also feel somewhat smug that I won the Battle of the Doorbell (although duct tape was used on my intercom to muffle the sound).

      It was actually harder to make it into work on time after a couple of months as I never got my 6am doorbell call. The rule is simple – if you don’t recognise who is calling your phone, don’t answer. If you don’t recognise a 6am visitor to your apartment, stay in bed.

    67. Anonymous Says:

      Wait a minute, why is everyone still wondering what happened to PS?

      The mystery has been solved, seriously, please re-read comment #59:

      “PS, as soon as you said “Shinagawa ward” I knew it was the same place I used to live at, though quite a few years ago. The picture of the door confirms it. The Shinagawa police have always targeted it as its an easy mark – a gaijin house-with easy access. I have mentioned it on a different thread before. I used to just stay in bed and go back to sleep rather than answer; I knew it was them as I could hear them then moving to the next apartment to “check who is living here”.”
      http://www.debito.org/?p=9900#comment-308706

      It wasn’t about PS. It wasn’t a hotline call. It was random checking of an apartment known to have a high rate of foreigners living there. Just going from door to door, fishing for overstayers, nothing personal. If you open your door to strangers, it suddenly pecomes possible for that stranger to keep the door open and to walk in to your entrance and there is nothing you will be able to do about it at that point. Try pushing the immigration officer or police officer strongly in an attempt to push them back out the door and you will end up serving time for assault. Once you have opened the door enough for them to get their foot in the door, your ability to stop their entry into your home has ceased. You opened your door, so now they are in. If the police officer then says, “I smell a strange smell…” then suddenly they have probable cause to search your home completely, room to room, thoroughly. So since opening your door gives authorities-who-know-that-strange-smell-technique the legal right to enter and search your home, why would you ever open your door to strangers?

      The preventative solution to this problem is simple, as posted perfectly in comment #41:

      “Never open your door to strangers. Period.”
      http://www.debito.org/?p=9900#comment-308536

    68. NCL Says:

      Greets.
      I understand that the Police have an English number that you can call – 03-5472-5851.
      Have never used it, so not sure how it works.
      Cheers. N.

    69. Baudrillard Says:

      As the Mainland Chinese Communist, sorry, Japanese police/immigration etc do not follow or recognize privacy laws etc with an easy to enter, no doubt rickety wooden gaijin house, the correct postmodern response is to in turn reciprocate and ignore the doorbell.

      It has been overused, your privacy breached, and it is another sign or symbol has lost its meaning. Therefore turn it off or just ignore the pounding of the door by staying in bed (these checkers always seem to come around quite early in the morning, probably to catch people before they go to work).

      As useful Japanese phrase-which I learnt from a comedy show in fact- is “ima te o hansenai”, loosely translated as “I cannot reach (the door) now, because I am in a state of undress, etc.”

      If the police insist and threaten to break in the door, rip off all your clothes, or even get into the shower. It might be absurd-yet appropriate enough- to get them to leave.

      The Havel-like Theatre of the Absurd that is postmodern Japan makes actors of us all. Never a dull moment.

    70. Damo Says:

      Cheers for the heads up, PS. Your experience angers me but also is a wake up call. I will now adopt a policy of “Stranger Danger”: NEVER, EVER open the door to strangers. I’ve only previously been paranoid of the NHK guy, and annoyed with the Christian cults paying a door-knock – this is now further reason to keep the door shut.

      BTW – that ID is the shabbiest thing I have ever seen. When I was in High School we used to make more professional school bus-pass ID forgeries than that! And the “officials” look as dodgy as hell – including the woman.

    71. me myself and us Says:

      or put in a chain that allow you to crack the door open but not get a foot in the door.

    72. PS Says:

      @NCL and @Mark in Yayoi.

      Thanks, NCL, for the English language contact number for the police. That’s going into my speed dial right after I send this post.

      An update – I managed to corner my landlady last night for a more substantive chat. I showed her the photos I took and asked if she was certain that it was indeed the Immigration folks who paid me a visit. She assured me they were the genuine article, despite the shabby ID and clothing. The person to whom she spoke at the Imm. Bureau mentioned that a random “sweep” was being done in the area, including my house. For any World War II buffs, does the word “Razzia” strike a chord? Those were the raids carried out by the Nazis in an effort to cull Jews and other “undesirables” from the civilian population. Some may say that’s taking the comparison too far, but that sort of profiling and discriminatory behavior is what ultimately leads to the atrocities that most of us have only read about in history books.

      Regarding the property issue brought up by Mark in Yayoi, I suppose you could say I live in a “gaijin house,” though I have my own kitchen. (Sorry – I hate that phrase). My landlady lives in a more durable structure just in front of my building. The key point is that the 5 thugs most definitely had to trespass on the owner’s property to pay me a visit. (Note: the landlady is not the owner, whom I’ve never met).

      I made a point of emphasizing the property violation issue to my landlady, but she just shrugged her shoulders and said “Shoganai. They were just doing their job.” Long story short – she was no help at all, aside from confirming the identity of the “gang of 5.”

      I’ve still received no reply from the Immigration office, and I doubt I ever will. However, if they surprise me and respond to my e-mail, I’ll post their remarks here. Thanks again everyone!

    73. John Says:

      Re. #68 – that is the number for the Post Office.

      I’ve never used the Tokyo police number for speakers of other languages, but their service is via 03-3503-8484. It’s only Monday-Friday 8:30-5:15, so not really an emergency number. No service at the weekends or during holidays. Languages are English and Chinese, with reservations for other languages required (Korean, Thai, Tagalog, Spanish, Farsi, German, Urdu and Russian).

    74. NCL Says:

      Thanks John.
      Appreciate the correct data.
      NCL.

    75. mike mullins Says:

      This is weird. I can’t see new posts on debito’s FB. From my view his wall hasn’t had anything posted on it for 24 hours. It has just frozen.

      – Sorry, I don’t do Debito.org daily (I”m on an Internet diet, new posts every three days), so sometimes it will take me time to approve comments. I appreciate everyone’s feedback and discussion, so please be patient.

    76. beneaththewheel Says:

      Hey PS,

      I wanted to say I hope you don’t give this up, for your sake and for people’s sake here. If you give it up, then you may start resenting Japan and a feeling of powerlessness can come over you, which never feels good. (For those of us who have lived in Japan when our Japanese wasn’t good, we have all experienced this). If your Japanese is not good enough to talk to immigration yourself, find a Japanese friend/boss who is willing to help you. You won’t be able to change the system, but you’ll be able to have asked for an answer from the authority, and been able to hear there explanation (and even perhaps make a complaint about how it made you feel).

      If you do this, Debito can put it on his site, and other people will know how to act if a similar situation happens to them. That’s the point I believe here, to help people know what to do in unfortunate situations.

      There may be some debate about this, but I suggest if it happens to anyone, to complain/ask for verification in a polite manner. When one feels their rights are being infringed, this isn’t a natural response, but I believe that it is better for everyone involved. Also, if your Japanese isn’t good enough to speak to them with confidence, the next best thing is to learn a few set phrases while dealing with authorities. My Japanese isn’t good enough to give your good phrases (bad grammar have I), but I’m sure you can find help in that regard.

      To stress the point, it’s most important to not feel defeated, and be proactive outside comfortable avenues.

      I wish you luck! :)

    77. James Says:

      I talked to an immigration lawyer about this today. He said
      (1) They must hold their ID out for you to carefully check, write down info, etc. If they just yank it away it does not constitute having shown proper ID.
      (2) They are not allowed in the apartment without a warrant. The lawyer seemed to think that their jamming their foot in the door exceeded their authority.
      Although the talk was brief I didn’t get clarification on whether a house resident is required to show ID after opening the door to immigration or the police, this lawyer agreed that closing the door while telling them you’re calling the police and they can talk to you after the police arrive would be an entirely acceptable thing to do.
      If you have the time I recommend filing a complaint for unlawful entering of your home by people without a warrant.

    78. PS Says:

      @James and @Beneaththewheel

      Thank you both for your input. Special thanks to James for getting some clarification from an actual lawyer. While I see the merits in pressing this matter, I’ve no doubt that I will encounter brick walls at every turn. Also, there are issues at Debito’s site of much greater import than mine. After all, I wasn’t jailed, beat up, or killed. (Knock on wood). At this point, my feeling is that there is no way I can make Japan my permanent home, no matter how unpleasant economic conditions are back home. I was toying with the idea of staying here permanently, but that’s out the window now. Clearly, I will never have a place in Japan, and, as a NJ, I’m extremely vulnerable to the whims and caprices of national and local authorities, who seem virtually unsanctioned when they violate our rights. I wish I could say that I’m going to fight the good fight, but it’s just not a priority for me. Now, I’m just going to direct my energies to settling myself in another country. That said, I will always put forward to others the reality of what NJ have to suffer in this country. So many people in the West see Japan through rose-colored glasses, and I don’t intend to perpetuate any myths that surround it. In any case, Japan had better wake up; it needs the outside world desperately. This is not the 1980’s when this country was such an economic powerhouse and could get away with murder. There’s a new sheriff in town (i.e. China), and it’s not a reality that the more pigheaded denizens of this land can escape forever.

    79. Bob Says:

      I disagree that there are matters on Debito of greater import than yours. Warrantless home invasions are psychologically damaging: you can’t feel safe in your own home from harassment from the authorities. This cascades into your desire to leave Japan, your unhappiness and stories that prevent others from coming to work in Japan, limiting Japan’s economic opportunities. The kind of behavior by officials going unquestioned also makes Japanese people comfortable that you are an other and not one of them, and may contribute to for example youths thinking that they can beat a Nepalese man to death and that would be acceptable. The nefarious impact of this kind of behavior by officers of the law is significant for its direct effects but also follow-on consequences.

      Please do not allow this to deter your residence in Japan; if you do, they will have succeeded in their attempt to deperson you. You will feel better if you write your thoughts out and communicate it to the powers that be in a way that makes clear you are a victim of harassment, have been psychologically traumatized, and your legal right to freedom from warrantless home invasion under Article 35 of the Japanese constitution was violated (may be a reason why the Japanese lawyer above thought they overstepped):
      “The right of all persons to be secure in their homes, papers and effects against entries, searches and seizures shall not be impaired except upon warrant issued for adequate cause and particularly describing the place to be searched and things to be seized, or except as provided by Article 33.
      2) Each search or seizure shall be made upon separate warrant issued by a competent judicial officer.”
      Article 17:
      “Every person may sue for redress as provided by law from the State or a public entity, in case he has suffered damage through illegal act of any public official.”

      Write your thoughts and feelings, have them closely edited, and send them to each Japanese government bureau and public organization relevant to the subject. They have comment receipt services, and they do at least read them. You can send it to the immigration bureau, send it to the Japanese federation of bar associations, send it to a Japanese human rights free legal services organization or lawyer who is inclined to participate in such matters, add a dose of economic impact and send it to METI, etc. At the very least, you will have made government functionaries consider the impact their gross human rights violations are having both on you and their attempts to integrate a foreign worker population to stymie economic decline.

      Here is the link for MOJ: https://www.moj.go.jp/mojmail/kouhouinput.php

    80. Shelly Says:

      I would implore PS to pursue the matter as well.

      For me personally I would probably have not answered the door (I’m female and several NJ friends report stalking, even Japanese men coming to their doors), but PS’s experience sure is a traumatic one, and I can only imagine. I wonder, did they do this to women too, showing up suddenly at their homes and barging in??

      (Maybe the two females were present as a legal buffer in case any NJ females claimed their sudden invasion of privacy resulted in sexual assault or something.)

      – I would agree that is why the women were along as well, yes.

    81. james Says:

      Funny how I left Yokohama in 2009 after a long stay due to everything I had to endure as a gaijin with a kid and three years later, my current company offers me a posting in Japan so I checked out this website to see if things have gotten better in Japan for foreigners and sad to say, it looks like they have gotten worse.

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