Nikkan Sports: Aggressive Japanese man harasses Muslim woman and 3-year-old daughter in park, demands her Gaijin Card; then aggressive Japanese police detain, interrogate, and release the woman and child’s private info. I told you this would happen.

Nikkan Sports: “A Muslim woman in her forties from South Asia living in Tokyo, who was subjected to wrongful voluntary questioning by officers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and had her name, address, and other private details leaked to a third party, submitted a formal complaint to the Tokyo Public Safety Commission on July 5. Her legal representation criticized, “This is a use of public power grounded in discriminatory attitudes towards foreigners.”

COMMENT: Let’s summarize this case:  A man accuses a three-year-old kid of assault, gets aggressive with a Muslim woman (and reportedly SPECIFICALLY demands her Gaijin Card), and then siccs six also-aggressive cops on her.  Then the cops cart only her and her toddler daughter off to the nearest cop shop for hours of interrogation, and hold her hostage until she releases her private information to this strange man.  And later they give that man even more information in case he decides to sue a three-year-old!  Clearly this has been blown out of proportion.  And the cops abetted it!  What a nightmare.

I’m pleased the woman sought out legal representation and filed the formal complaint with the Public Safety Commission.  But that will probably result in nothing.  (I’ve done the same for over-the-top police reactions in the past, and never gotten any satisfactory conclusion.)  You can’t expect much when it’s wolves policing other wolves. So I hope she files an actual civil suit against the police and the person who harassed her and her daughter, so we can get some legal precedent behind this complaint. We need some kind of damper put on all the social damage done by the Japanese police demonizing foreigners for decades, and then deputizing the general public to target them.

My SNA VM Column 23: “Gaijin Card Reader App Obliterates Privacy,” June 21, 2021, on how NJ privacy is of so little concern that the Govt. has enabled anyone to swipe Gaijin Cards

SNA: “Privacy in Japan… is not being seen.” This quote, usually attributed to former US Ambassador to Japan Edwin O. Reischauer, was made in the context of an overcrowded Japan in his day, used to explain the stark difference between public and private behaviors of Japanese (sneaking off, for example, to love hotels for a bit of private time).

But privacy is taken quite seriously in Japan, especially if it will damage a reputation. Television broadcasts of criminal suspects on perp walks often have their handcuffs blurred, since the person hasn’t been convicted yet. Media reporting on businesses accused of unsavory activities (such as food poisoning or putting up “Japanese Only” signs) often refuse to report their company names so it doesn’t adversely affect their sales. Even people who park their cars in those love hotels may find themselves in a parking garage with curtains, or with their license plates covered up by pieces of plywood provided by the establishment.

So why doesn’t this concern for privacy apply to foreign residents? (Examples of egregious violations of privacy by nationality, contrasted with all the legal protections for citizens, follow. Then we get to the new Gaijin Card Reader App…)
Rest is at

Justice Ministry’s new “Gaijin Card Reader App” now unlawfully enables the general public to scan you. So much for GOJ promises of privacy.

The Ministry of Justice has made a “Residence Card Checker App”, available from December 25, 2020, downloadable from their website (English, Japanese). It’s available for Windows PC, Apple Mac App Store, Google Play, and iOS (with manuals!). It scans RFID Zairyuu Cards, aka “Gaijin Cards”, which is personal ID required of foreign residents only, and must be carried 24/7 on pain of criminal penalty. In their words, “This app reads and displays the information (such as the bearer’s name) stored on the IC chips of residence cards and special permanent resident certificates, helping users to confirm that the card is not a forgery.”

How nice. Except that the only people allowed to demand, let alone scan, Gaijin Cards are people connected with the Ministry of Justice (Immigration, the police, etc.). This has now unlawfully put the ability to read private information within the general public’s grasp. Such as people posing as fake cops (which does happen). It’s not that far removed from the government “snitch sites” where anyone could anonymously report their local gaijin to the government and have them harassed, er, investigated by local authorities. (They’ve since disappeared after nearly two decades in action, so this is a new form of potential harassment.) will archive below the sites in English and Japanese for the record, with some screen captures. Especially enjoy reading the Privacy Policy, especially since one initial reason why the government advertised that the RFID card was a better system was due to privacy (and “convenience”)–random people wouldn’t be able to read the embedded information. Now they can. Where is the outcry over “privacy concerns” that Japanese citizens enjoy whenever the government makes personal ID policy affecting them?

DF on Chugoku bank unlawfully demanding to check NJ customers’ visa stay durations and photocopy their Gaijin Cards, or face discontinuation of service

From time to time gets sent information from NJ residents being harassed by Japanese officialdom and businesses for the most basic things.  Such as checking into a hotel or using a bank.  Or being treated as objects of mistrust in official “Blame Games”.  Or being demanded unnecessary steps just to live their daily lives or conduct regular business. It encourages racial profiling even further, in addition to what you already have at Japan’s hotels and other public accommodation, police instant ID checkpoints, and tax agencies.  (See here too).  

Such as the following case below, where Chugoku Bank is demanding a Visa Check in order to maintain (not open; maintain) a bank account.  (In their words, “we have elected to confirm the period of stay for customers whose period of stay and other details have not been confirmed”  Meaning their nosying into somebody’s visa status is not even under the pretense of some legal requirement.)  And of course, in this era of identity theft that even foreign governments warn you against, Chugoku Bank wants to make a photocopy of the person’s ID, it turns out, for no reason whatsoever but reflex.

Submitter DF: Hi Debito, I recently got the attached postcard from my bank, Chugoku Ginkou. It says that I have to go in and verify that I am in the country legally to keep using my bank account. I went in today and they wanted to make a photocopy of my card. Is this legal? They claimed that they are doing so at the request of the government, which I’m sure is true, and that they need a copy for “filing”, which I am not sure is true. I told them that the card can usually only be requested by a police officer or an immigration agent. I finally relented only after they explained that they also photocopy other customer’s driver’s licenses. I offered my driver’s license, but they declined. I noticed that other than my visa status (PR), there is really no info on there that they don’t already have. Who is in the right here, legally?

Yomiuri: GOJ now requiring hospitals (unlawfully) demand Gaijin Cards from NJ as a precondition for medical treatment

Related to recent discussions about public refusals of service for either not complying with (unlawful) demands for NJ ID, or denial of service anyway when people in charge arbitrarily decide a visa’s length is not long enough, mentioned below is a move by the GOJ to require hospitals demand Gaijin Cards etc. (as opposed to just requiring medical insurance cards (hokenshou), like they would from any Japanese patient) as a precondition for providing treatment to sick NJ.  Granted, the Yomiuri article below notes that for Japanese patients, the government is “considering” requiring a Japanese Driver License etc. as well, because the hokenshou is not a photo ID.  But once again, NJ are clearly less “trustworthy” than the average Japanese patient, so NJ will have more (again, unlawful) rigmarole first.  

But there’s a deeper pattern in this policy creep.  Recall the “Gaijin as Guinea Pig” syndrome we’ve discussed on for well over a decade now:  Public policies to further infringe upon civil liberties are first tested out on the Gaijin — because foreign residents even Constitutionally have much fewer civil liberties — and then those policies are foisted on the general public once the precedent is set.   So once again, the GOJ is taking advantage of the weakened position of NJ to assume more government control over society.  

NB:  There’s also a meaner attitude at work:  Note in the last paragraph of the article below the echoes of 1980’s “foreigners have AIDS” paranoia creeping into LDP policy justifications once again.  I say “mean” because the point would have been made by just stopping at “the person fraudulently used somebody else’s insurance”.  And I’m sure presenting a Gaijin Card would have fixed the AIDS issue!  (Not to mention that the GOJ apparently WANTS people to get AIDS screening, especially if they’re visibly foreign!)  Such ill-considered policymaking signals!

Meanwhile, don’t expect equal treatment as a patient if you get sick while foreign.  It’s official policy.

SendaiBen on “Anytime Fitness” Sports Gym Gaijin Carding him, and how he got them to stoppit

Here’s an instructive post from Reader and Contributor SendaiBen.  He was told (like so many people are) that he had to surrender his Zairyuu “Gaijin Card” in order to register for service.  But as he (and many other veterans of this silliness) know, you only have to present it when asked by a member of Japan’s policing or Immigration officials to do so.  Otherwise, any form of ID (such as a Japanese driver license) that works for Japanese should work for NJ too.  

But some companies don’t know or don’t care, so they push NJ around.  Here’s how SendaiBen successfully pushed back, in the case of a sports gym (a notorious business sector towards NJ members) called Anytime Fitness.  And so can you. Follow his footsteps.

SendaiBen: It seems more and more companies are becoming aware of the zairyu card, not just as another form of acceptable ID, but sometimes as the only form of ID they will accept from non-Japanese citizens. I personally believe that is unacceptable, so will continue to push back in this way to prevent it from spreading. I don’t want to be asked for my zairyu card by random companies as I go about my daily life… But then came Anytime Fitness, and I had to write in specially to confirm that they will also accept Japanese driver licenses…

TJ on “Doing a Debito”: Gaijin Carded at Nagoya Airport and Airport Comfort Inn

Submitter TJ: I’m an American married to a Japanese, and we’re on an adventure doing standby flights from Japan to overseas. However, unluckily we got bumped at Nagoya Airport. So we checked into a Comfort Inn at the airport in my (Japanese) spouse’s name. He filled out the card for our twin room. But the receptionist looked at me and said that she needed to photocopy my passport. But I know from that she doesn’t have the legal obligation to photocopy my passport, or even see any ID, when I have a Japanese address as a Japanese resident, and I told her so. So she said she needed to copy my “Gaijin Card”, or Zairyuu Residence Card.

I gave her a chotto matte kudasai… and dug out that nifty Japanese paper you posted on years ago and I held it up to her to read, showing her the letter of the law that says that ID is only required for tourists, not for residents of Japan, including foreign residents. Another receptionist came over to investigate, and I repeated that I live in Japan permanently. Basically, the other woman’s attitude was since my Japanese spouse was with me, I didn’t have to hand any ID to be photocopied. Because I’m “one of the good ones”. Not a win, but I don’t think she expected me to stand my ground the way I did. Thanks to But then I got carded again by Nagoya Airport Security for sitting in the airport lobby while foreign…

JDriver on J Driver License renewals and questionable legality of residency/Gaijin Card checks to ferret out “illegal overstayers”

We’ve discussed on before the rigmarole of NJ drivers in Japan getting J Driver Licenses, being subjected to extra intrusive procedures that are of questionable legality. Well, a Reader decided to do his civic duty and ask for some reasons why. And this is what he found out. Read on and feel free to contribute your own experiences.

JDriver: As you might know, residents of foreign citizenship (外国籍の方 in the bureaucratic parlance) are required to show their residence cards or in other way demonstrate their status of residence when getting or renewing their drivers license. Obedient citizen as I am, of course I went along with it and presented it when asked, but I did make clear I would like to be clarified on the legal basis for such a request. I didn’t expect that the person doing the registration would know something like this off the top of their head, but I was intended on talking to someone eventually who could point to this and that paragraph of this or that law that governs these circumstances.

So after all the procedure was finished and I got my license, I went to the window I was told I’d get my questions answered. The first person could only, after quite a while, produce the Immigration law article 23, which only says that you are in general required to present the passport or the residence card when the police and other authorities ask for it “in the execution of their duties.” So I asked for a specific law or ordinance that shows that in this concrete case it is indeed their duty to ask for the card. I got sent to her boss, who again only wasted my time with the same answer (Immigration law) and got irritated and dismissed me, but not before arranging for me to see the final boss of bosses, who should be able to answer my, I thought very simple, question i.e. what is the legal basis for what you’re doing?

Neither the last guy could legitimize the demand in legal terms, so we agreed that he will research it and call me later to let me know. He did call later the same day, only to tell me that after all, the legal basis would have to be in the Immigration law, because he couldn’t find any other! He said it is all done to prevent the “illegal overstayers” from getting drivers license, as if that, or any other goal, would justify working outside of legal framework. I was flabbergasted that apparently no one in the whole Koto drivers center (江東試験場) knew the legal basis of their actions…

SITYS: IC Chips in new NJ Gaijin Cards are remotely scannable, as witnessed in USG’s Faraday Envelopes to protect cardholders’ privacy

As Readers of know, Japan instituted its new Gaijin Cards (Zairyuu Kaado, or ZRK) from July 15, 2012, promising to promote the “convenience” of NJ residents by streamlining bureaucratic procedures. But as I have argued, the Ministry of Justice’s main interest is not the convenience of NJ (or else it would have not left NJ in legal limbo when Japan’s Postal Authorities arbitrarily decided not to honor the old Gaijin Cards as a valid form of ID any longer — even though the MOJ acknowledged the old Gaijin Cards issued by them were still legal for at most three more years). No, the MOJ’s interest is in policing NJ (well, “administering” (kanri) is how they benignly put it, as they explicitly noted in their Cabinet-level presentation last May about how to “co-exist” with NJ in future — essentially by cracking down on visa overstayers further).

To that end, the ZRK has an embedded IC Chip with RFID technology, which, as I have argued for years now, is a means to remotely track NJ in a crowd and beef up racial profiling. After all, if the NPA scans a crowd and sees somebody walking while visibly “foreign”, they now have probable cause to stop them for one of their patented ID checkpoints formerly permitted under the Foreign Registry Law. Hey you, gaijin, why aren’t you showing up on our scanners? Woe betide the naturalized citizen or Japanese of international roots, who now have the burden of proving somehow that they are not “foreign”…

However, here’s where the SITYS (See I Told You So) comes in: People who should know better have constantly argued that I’m donning a tinfoil hat for saying that embedded IC Chips are remotely trackable, and will be used not only for identity theft (for NJ only, since only they are legally required by law to carry ZRK at all times or face criminal penalty), but also for enhanced policing. No amount of evidence presented (even “the scan-proof travel pouches” long on sale) has convinced them. So let’s try again:

Look, even the US Government acknowledges that their cards (in this case, my friends’ “Green Card” and Global Entry Card) need to be issued with Faraday Cage envelopes “to protect their privacy”. If these cards were not remotely trackable, why would the USG bother issuing them with the following instructions?…

Japan Times: Japan Post Office unilaterally decides old “Gaijin Cards” no longer acceptable ID, despite still valid under MOJ

MMT: An interesting bit of news that was on the JT homepage this week. It seems that although the alien registration card is considered equal to the new zairyu card until July 2015 by the government, it appears not for certain government agencies. Japan Post has a notice on their homepage stating that foreign residents can no longer use the alien registration card as of July 9th, 2012 (or in other words, the same day the zairyu card became available). How the post office can reject ID which is still valid and basically force longer-term residents into changing over their cards immediately is beyond my comprehension.

As a further bit of news regarding this story, I called the immigration help line on October 1, 2012, to see if they were aware of this development. The staff informed me that yes, the alien registration card is still valid, as stated and acts as one’s zairyu card until July 9th, 2015. When I asked if they were aware that the Japan Post officially began rejecting the alien registration card the very same day the zairyu card became available, they replied that perhaps in cases such as with banks and the post office, you may have to switch over to the new card in order to have acceptable ID. I quickly pointed out that since the government (namely, the Ministry of Justice, no less) has deemed this ID to be equal to the zairyu card for a further three years, shouldn’t it be unacceptable (unlawful?) for any any semi-government agency or private business to reject it? They agreed that my argument “made sense.”

The immigration staff then suggested that if my alien registration card is rejected by the post office or other place of business that I should give them the number for the Tokyo Immigration administration office (03-5796-7250) so that the post office can call them and get a clarification. It was at that point that I hinted that perhaps it was the job of the immigration department to inform all relevant agencies to stop making arbitrary rules regarding which government-issued ID they will choose to accept: to which I got no answer. Strange, indeed.

WSJ: “‘Expats’ Say Goodbye to Gaijin Card”, needs more research beyond “Expat” conceits

Here we have the Wall Street Journal up to its old tricks: Representing the “Expat” community’s attitudes towards Japan, doing “Japan Real Time” research that is essentially navel-gazing about Japan from a skyscraper window (or a computer screen, as it were).

Even though the reporter, Sarah Berlow, parrots much of the net-researched stuff (courtesy of the GOJ, sharing the same blinkered viewpoint of life in Japan for NJ residents) accurately, check this bit out:

“New residents will instead be given a “residence card” similar to the ones Japanese citizens carry, except for a special marking designating the holder’s nationality.”
Err… wrong. Japanese citizens have no residence cards to carry, as we’ve discussed here on for years.

And how about this: “These new changes come as the government attempts to increase this number [of foreigners entering Japan], to an “era of 25 million foreign visitors to Japan” by 2020, a goal established in 2011.”
Err… foreign tourists never had to carry Gaijin Cards in the first place (only people who had to register with residency visas of three months and up), so these changes have no connection and will have no effect. Does Ms. Berlow even have a residency visa in Japan so she might know about this from personal experience? If not, there are whole books on this, ones so easy even the busy-getting-rich-off-their-Expat-packages-and-enjoying-their-Expat-Bubble-Enclaves Expats can read them (cf. HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS), so bone up.

And there is no mention of the RIFD Gaijin Card Chipping for the new “Gaijin Residency Cards” only, something I’ve made a fuss about in the past. Ms. Berlow uses the word “track” in regards to NJ within the article, which is appropriate, for reasons she probably didn’t research enough to anticipate. RFID enables remote tracking of people’s credit card numbers, to begin with.

And with technological advances, as I’ve argued before, it is only a matter of time and degree before it’s capable at long distances — if it’s not already. Don your tinfoil hats, but RFID technology is already being used in military drone guidance systems for long-distance precision targeting. You think the GOJ’s going to abdicate its wet-dream ability to keep physical track of potential foreign “illegal overstayers”, now that it has the ability to RFID chip every foreign resident from now on? Oh well, the “Expats” need not worry. They’re not in Japan forever.

Finally, what’s the reason I’m jumping on the WSJ so much? Because, as I’ve said, they’re up to their old tricks. Don’t forget, it was the WSJ who first broke (and legitimized in English and Japanese) the story about the fictitious “Flyjin” Phenomenon, setting the agenda to tar the NJ who left (or worse, stayed for the stigma). Thus the WSJ’s record of “spoiling things” for NJ in Japan is on par with what critics claim does. Sorry, we might not have their media reach or legitimacy, but at least we do better research here, for free. That’s a deal even a non-“Expat” can afford.

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

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).

Submitter PS: 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.”…

Rpl on Police Gaijin Card Check in Chitose Airport yesterday — with cops refusing to identify themselves and even getting physical

What follows is a report I received last night that left me feeling quite angry — at the NPA’s wanton disregard for their own rules and the laws that govern them. The common solutions suggested on — that of carrying around and showing the police copies of the laws they must obey, and of demanding legally-entitled ID to keep the police officers accountable — seem to have been ineffectual yesterday at my local airport, Chitose New International (this after years ago having the same encounter myself there and deciding to make an issue of it with outside GOJ human rights organizations, again to no avail). I have no doubt in my mind that the NPA trains its police to racially profile, moreover to assume that NJ have no civil rights during questioning, as evidenced here. It’s a despicable and dangerous abuse of power, and unchecked it will only get worse. Read on.

Eido Inoue on improbable remote tracking of RFID next-generation “Gaijin Cards”; yet “scan-proof” travel pouches now on sale

With the rerelease of an article I wrote last year (I am reading all my old articles in order for the Podcast, so listen here or read it here) is a revisitation of an argument I made about the next-generation “Gaijin Cards” (Zairyuu Kaado), with imbedded IC Chips. I expressed a fear that these “smart cards” will be remotely scannable, meaning the NPA will be able to zap a crowd and smoke out who’s foreign or not (whereas Japanese citizens have no legal obligation to carry ID 24/7 backed up with criminal punishment) — or will further justify racial profiling of people like me who look foreign but aren’t.

Techie Eido Inoue, a naturalized J citizen himself, writes here on invitation to address this argument. He was worried that this topic might get a bit geeky (he has in fact made it very readable, thanks), but never mind, this needs to be discussed by people in the know. However, please do read or page down to the end, where I have some basic counterarguments and a scan of something I saw the other day in a travel shop — a “scan proof” pouch for your valuables on sale! Read on.

Gaijin Card Checks expand to Tax Bureau, now required for filing household tax returns

As a natural extension of the strengthened policing of NJ by the GOJ (for we can only anticipate what scams NJ might get up to, untrustworthy lot), starting with fingerprinting them at the border every time as potential terrorists, criminals, and disease carriers, then tracking their money wherever they earn it, we now have the Tax Bureau doing the Immigration Bureau’s job of checking visa status if NJ were so good as to file their own tax forms. How dare they engage in such suspicious activities! It’s all part of expanding Gaijin Card Checks to unrelated agencies nationwide.

KYA writes: Can someone help me shed some light on this situation? I’ve filed my taxes in Japan every year for the past 8 years. I can’t swear that I ws never asked for a gaijin card or other form of ID before, but I KNOW that last year I wasn’t, wasn’t even asked to fill out that form asking how many days you spent in and out of the country, etc (I was asked to do that one two or three times, definitely not every year). And I know that my refund has NEVER been delayed, I’ve always filed early and got my money back early.

But this year, I filed my return in early March, and until today had heard nothing. Today, [I got a form in the mail requiring my Gaijin Card] (reproduced). I called immediately, asked why they needed it and if it was necessary, and got a big variety of non-answers in response. The first time I called, the person whose name was on the letter wasn’t there, so the guy who answered the phone said he’d answer my questions… I probably got more honest answers from him, although he was a bit of a jerk. He said that it’s always been like this, it’s not starting from this year, and that if I never had to do it before, it was because the person reviewing my return in the past decided that my name sounded Japanese enough, but that whoever did it this year thought it sounded foreign. I did challenge this, and asked him if it was okay to just judge people and choose who to question ad delay based on their NAME, would he have done the same to one of the many Japanese people who don’t have any NJ heritgage, but just have parents who gave them a katakana name? He basically said it just depended on the judgement of whoever got the return to review.

I asked why this NEVER popped up when I was preparing my tax return on the tax department’s homepage. There were all kinds of lists of necessary documents, including some things that said “(when applicable)” etc beside them. Nowhere did it say Gaiijn Card (for those who have one) or something similar. He said “Well, the homepage is written with Japanese people in mind. If you’d asked for help at city hall they would have told you to submit it.” So… you are delaying my tax return BECAUSE I can read Japanese, look at the homepage and prepare my own tax return WITHOUT wasting the time of someone at city hall or at the tax office? That seems very counterprductive, and when I pointed out as much, again he had no reply.

Then I told him I wanted to Google the law that made this necessary and asked him to tell me the name of the law requiring a gaijin card to get a tax refund. He said there was no law…

Comfort Hotel Nagoya unlawfully tries Gaijin Card check on NJ resident, admits being confused by GOJ directives

Pursuant to the discussions we’ve had on about exclusionary hotels, here’s an email I got last month regarding Comfort Hotel Nagoya’s treatment of a NJ customer, and how empowered her to stand up for herself. Well done. Even the management says the administrative guidance offered by the authorities, as in the law requiring ID from NJ tourists vs. the official (but erroneous) demands that all NJ show ID, is confusing them. And since I’ve pointed this out several times both in print and to the authorities (and the US Government itself has also asked for clarification) to no avail, one can only conclude that the GOJ is willfully bending the law to target NJ (or people who look foreign) clients just because they think they can. Don’t let them. Do what SM did below and carry the law with you.

Ariel updates experience with not-random Gaijin Card and Passport Checks by Narita cops

Ariel on the continuing saga of the bored Narita Cops and their Gaijin Check Practice on Caucasian NJ: “One or two of the officers would periodically search for someone to check. They were most certainly not being random, they would stand in the flow of traffic and scan those passing by until someone caught their fancy and then they’d make a bee-line for them. I saw them stop a total of 11 people, ALL of whom were caucasian, and all of whom were walking alone or in pairs. None of the 11 protested, but then again they all had luggage and/or had just exited customs, so it’s quite possible they were mostly tourists. I did not see them stop any other NJs (black, latino, etc), but strangely there seemed to be only caucasians and asians in the terminal at the time (yes, I looked). The only time I saw the officers speak to an asian was when a young woman approached an officer and asked for directions.

Granted this is essentially all anecdotal evidence, but it seems pretty clear that the police at Narita have been instructed to engage in active racial profiling. The oddest thing to me though is that these officers don’t seem to care about finding dangerous people, rather they seem to be targeting people who seem to be easy to approach and won’t make a fuss in order to make a quota and give the appearance that they are doing something to combat crime and terrorism. Is it just me, or is this the opposite of what the goal of airport security should be? Instead of keeping an alert watch out for legitimately suspicious people they are wasting half of their time stopping people they don’t think pose any threat!”

Aly Rustom on how he got out of a Gaijin Card Check by J-cops

Quick missive from Aly Rustom a couple of days ago. This is how he dealt with a Gaijin Card Checkpoint by cops in Ueno last week, apparently successfully. He asked for their ID and dared to try to photograph it, and the cop. FYI. Link included on what your rights are when the Police State Tendencies have you in their sights.

The Corbett Report interview on the new RFID Gaijin Cards

James Corbett: September 19, 2009 1:15:41 PM JST
Debito, thank you once again for taking time out of your day in Okayama to talk with me about the fingerprinting and IC card issues. The documentary itself is of course still in production, but I have extracted a few minutes from our interview and put it on YouTube. You can watch the video directly here…

Also, I’ve written an article that incorporates that video and some of your comments on the IC chip-enabled ID issue. That article is available from the “Articles” tab of the homepage and the direct link is:…

Freeman offers specific dialogs to deal with J police during Gaijin Card Check

Freeman: Dear Debito, I have read all of your great advice, thank you for kindly sharing. Please share this easy-to-remember summary with your readers.

Are you a human being here in Japan who appears to be Non-Japanese?
Do you want to avoid being coerced into interrogations by police officers?
Then here is how to respond when a police officer asks to speak with you:

#1 Silently show your Alien Registration Card.* **

#2 Say, “Ittemo ii desu ka?”
Repeat this exact sentence, without adding any other words, until the police officer admits, “Hai.”

#3 After hearing “Hai.” you are free to leave.

The police officer might try to fool you into speaking further…

Update putting the pieces together: upcoming IC Gaijin Cards, RFID hackability, next generation police walkie-talkie, and NPA access to TASPO information

Last May I put out an article in the Japan Times about the (now approved) IC Chips in revamped Gaijin Cards. How they would enable the police forces to remotely track foreigners in a crowd, and how data would be less secure from hackers.

Not unsurprisingly, I was told I was exaggerating. But it’s hard in this day to exaggerate the reach and rate of development of technological advances (who would have thought we would have this very medium to communicate through a little over ten years ago?). So here are some sources showing how 1) ID Chips and RFID technology is eminently hackable and remotely trackable, 2) how police already have IC scanning ability in their walkie-talkies, and 3) how the Japanese police in particular are using ID cards beyond their originally-intended purpose to track crime. I don’t think I was exaggerating at all.

Naturalized J citizen Jiei stopped by Osaka cops for Gaijin Card check. Shitsukoidom ensues

Here’s an important bellwether essay from Jiei, a fellow naturalized Japanese citizen who was singled out for a Gaijin Card Check by Osaka Cops last night. He tells the story of how he stood up for himself despite being explicitly suspected of being drunk or on drugs, and for sitting on a swingset while white when taking a break from jogging in a park. He cites the law back to the cops chapter and verse, but they undeterredly continue the questioning and racial profiling. I won’t give away the ending.

The point is, this is going to happen more and more often as more people naturalize, and more Japanese of international marriages come of age and get hassled for not looking “Japanese” enough to allay cops’ suspicion. This is not legally sanctioned, in any case. Which means people must learn about their rights and assert them, because there are no other checks and balances here.

New Immigration Law with IC Chip Gaijin Cards passes Diet

The new IC Chipped Gaijin Cards will be a reality. Gonna have to start looking on the bright side of things, like the fact that NJ will now have juuminhyou instead. Commentary and links from Anonymous:

“As I’m sure that you’ve heard, today was a not a good day for NJ rights. The immigration revision formally passed the upper house today, July 8, 2009. With the various changes…” Several news clippings in Japanese, feel free to add them in English:

Japan Times: JCLU’s Hatate opposes IC Chip Gaijin Cards

Japan Times: “What (the bills will) achieve is to tighten control of law-abiding foreigners, who have no need to be under tight control,” Hatate, director of the nongovernmental organization Japan Civil Liberties Union, told The Japan Times…

“The bills are very unbalanced because the government will not be able to control the intended target: undocumented foreigners,” Hatate said. “Instead they will greatly tighten the leash on properly registered foreigners, who do not need monitoring.

“To me, this is the government’s reinforcement of infrastructure to control foreigners. Fingerprinting at airports is to control entrants and the bills are to control residents. The government probably thinks it needs to do this because the number of foreigners will inevitably increase,” he said.

Japan Times on critics of new IC Chip Gaijin Card bill from the Right: too lenient!

The Japan Times is still at it, getting viewpoints regarding new legislation controlling NJ movements and visas and traceability (which looks like it will pass the Diet) from Dietmembers, bureaucrats, and left-wing opponents. Now we have the view of someone who thinks the laws, which will tighten things in directions is not comfortable with, are too lenient! Excerpt follows:

JT: …Arikado also takes issue with the humanitarian reasons often cited by the justice minister when granting an illegal foreigner special permission to stay in Japan.

“Some foreigners claim to be political refugees. But in many cases, they just want to work,” he said. “Some Japanese died of hunger after they lost their jobs, so is it right to prioritize helping foreigners? Right now, everybody in Japan is losing their spirit as Japanese nationals.”…

Japan Times IC Chip Gaijin Card Pt 3: View of Bureaucrats: Control of NJ at all costs

The Japan Times scoops again. After two articles exposing approaches of the LDP (their slavish obeisance to the policing MOJ, who fed them the law) and the DPJ (who took the LDP’s nonsense evidence about policing of foreigners in other countries at face value), Matsutani-san now gets the viewpoint of those bureaucrats who designed the new Gaijin Cards and NJ policing regime. And it ain’t pretty. Strikes me as pretty paranoid. Sounds even like they’d police everyone if everyone were in such a weak position in society as foreigners; more on that tomorrow. Meanwhile, it also seems clear that the original proposal has been watered down a bit thanks to public outrage, but there is still no consciousness within the bureaucratic mien of how these laws, once put in the hands of the police, can further encourage racial profiling and targeting (current laws with more lax policing than now already do that, and there are no real safeguards to protect human rights as ever).

Japan Times updates on new IC Chip Gaijin Card bill — in fact drafted by MOJ

The Japan Times is following the story of the new deluxe Gaijin Cards, complete with IC Chip and more punitive policing of most foreigners. And it is now clear from the articles below that the bills were actually drafted by the Ministry of Justice. Meaning it’s all been created in favor of policing, not assimilating, NJ — and under the all-consuming need to keep track of potential “illegal foreign overstayers” by policing everyone (anyone else smell a kind of a witch hunt?).

Got a call from the reporter Mr Matsutani this evening. He notes that there will be a series of articles on this over the next few days (below are the two camps within the LDP and the DPJ, then on successive days an opponent from the left, and then an opponent from the extreme right). So keep reading the Japan Times — the only paper that cares to give you the straight poop, and do some investigative journalism on topics that matter to its NJ readers. Excerpts follow:

Next Diet protest of proposed IC Chip Gaijin Cards Thurs July 2, noon – 1PM, Diet Upper House

Assemble on July 2 (Thu), 12:00 – 13:00
We won’t accept the reforms to the Immigration Law or the Basic Resident
Registration Law!


Date/time: July 2 (Thu) 12:00 – 13:00
Place: Upper House Diet members office building
(A gate pass will be provided at the entrance.)
Organizer: NGO Executive Committee to say NO to the new residency
(zairyu) card system
Programme: – Comments by asylum seekers, foreign nationals
– Comments from diet members, etc.

Text of proposed amendments to new Immigration Law, including IC Chip Gaijin Cards

I asked the author of the recent Japan Times articles (here and here) on the passage of the new laws on IC Chip Gaijin Cards et al. to send me his source materials. He very kindly complied. Thanks very much!

These are fifteen pages of very thick and oddly-formatted pages of legal changes. It’s cumbersome wading through it. So rather than wait until I read everything before commenting, I might as well put these up so we can all read them at the same time.

Revisions to the Juumin Kihon Daichou Hou (which governs how people are registered with local governments, as in juuminhou), followed by the interestingly-titled “shutsu nyuu koku kanri oyobi nanmin nintei hou oyobi nihonkoku to no heiwa jouyaku ni motozuki kokuseki o ridatsu shita mono tou no shutsu nyuu koku kanri ni kansuru tokurei hou no ichibu o kaisei suru tou no houritsu an ni taisuru shuusei an” (draft of the revisions for one part of the draft of the laws governing administration of immigration, administration of recognized refugees, and the special law governing administration of immigration of people who have renounced their Japanese citizenship from countries with a peace treaty with Japan).

What a mouthful. I’m wondering what inspired the special-law conceit about having a peace treaty (does this weed out Russians and North Koreans?). Any ideas out there?

Japan Times: New IC Chip Gaijin Card passes Lower House, expected to pass Upper too

The Lower House passed bills Friday making it easier for the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau to keep tabs on foreigners who have overstayed their visas as well as others residing legally in the country.

The Upper House is also expected to pass the bills, which have the support of both the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling bloc and the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party…

Japan Times: New Gaijin Cards bill looks set to pass Diet

The revised bills, expected to be passed Friday by the Lower House, will abolish the Alien Registration Act and revise the immigration control and resident registration laws with sweeping changes that put information on foreign residents completely in the hands of the central government.

According to the draft, authority for managing foreign residents will shift from municipalities to the Immigration Bureau, allowing it to consolidate all personal information collected from foreign residents, including type of visa and expiration date…

“We need these bills to be enacted. We need to know how many foreigners there are and where they live. So consolidating information into the Justice Ministry is necessary,” Hosokawa said.

The bills also have a provision to prevent the ministry from using that data improperly, a decision that was made to ward off criticism that “the minister” could abuse the zairyu card number to violate foreigners’ privacy. But no penalty for such abuse was listed.

The practice, dubbed data-matching, was outlawed by the Supreme Court in regard to its use on Japanese citizens.

The provision says “the justice minister” must limit the use of foreign residents’ personal information to the minimum required for managing such residents and that the information must be handled with care to protect the rights of individuals. But no penalties or methods for enforcing such compliance are listed in the bills.

Sit-in Protest re IC Chip Gaijin Cards: Diet Bldg Fri June 19 9AM-12PM, come anytime

Friday, June 19
SIT-IN PROTEST @ Diet Members’ No. 2 Office Building of the Lower House

Lack of consultation with foreign residents.
Lack of discussion in the Lower House.

The bills are scheduled to have a vote on June 19 in the Lower House legal affairs committee.
NGOs call on people living in Japan, both citizens and foreign residents, to join together to
oppose discriminatory reforms to immigration law. Speak out NOW!

Date 09:00〜12:30 Friday, June 19 (no protest when raining)
* Just a 30-minute or one-hour protest is welcome.
At Diet Members’ No. 2 Office Building of the Lower House
The nearest station: ‘Kokkai Gijido Mae’ or ‘Nagata-cho’ station of Metro.

Sit-in Protest of New IC Chip Gaijin Cards, Every Tues morning, Diet Building, all welcome

2009.6.19 Tuesday
SIT-IN PROTEST @ Diet Members’ No. 2 Office Building of the Lower House

The “NGO Committee against the Introduction of the ‘Zai-ryu’ Residence Card”
calls on people living in Japan, both citizens and foreign residents, to join together to
oppose discriminatory reforms to immigration law.
Speak out NOW!

Date 09:30〜12:30 Tuesday, June 16 (no protest when raining)
* Just a 30 minutes or one hour protest is welcomed.
At Diet Members’ No. 2 Office Building of the Lower House
The nearest station: ‘Kokkai Gijido Mae’ or ‘Nagata-cho’ station of Metro.

Protest IC Chipped Gaijin Cards Tues June 2 anytime between 9AM-12:30PM, Diet Building, Tokyo

NUGW Nambu: A sit-in will be held in front of the Diet Building on
Tuesday, June 2, from 9:00-12:30 a.m., to protest the
changes to immigration law which are being pushed through
parliament with little debate, and no consultation with
those directly affected by the laws.

Shugiin Dai 2 Giinkaikan (Second Members Office Building of
the House of Representatives)
Kokkai gijido mae Station: (Marunouchi line, Chiyoda line)
We will have banners and posters prepared.
You can come for any length of time, between 9 and 12:30.

Japan Times on May 24 2009 new IC Chip Gaijin Card protest

Got a call from friends Aly and Yumi yesterday, right after they attended the protest against the proposed IC-Chipped Gaijin Cards, who told me the vibe was great and inspiring of future public action.

Here’s how it turned out in the Japan Times. If you see any more articles, please feel free to include them in the Comments section below with text and links:

Reminder: Protest against new IC Gaijin Cards May 24 Shinbashi Tokyo

Rally Against Reforms to the Immigration Law

The “NGO Committee against the Introduction of the ‘Zai-ryu’ Residence
Card” calls on people living in Japan, both citizens and foreign
residents, to join together to oppose discriminatory reforms to
immigration law.

Date: May 24 (Sun) 14:00-15:30 Assembly
16:00-17:00 Rally

Location: Koutsu Biru in Shimbashi (Minato-ku, Shimbashi 5-15-5)
(6 minutes walk from JR Shimbashi Station, Karasumori Exit)
For leaflet and map:

Japan Times May 20, 2009: “IC you: Bugging the Alien” article on new Gaijin Cards

Japan Times: I mentioned that embedded computer chip. The new Gaijin Card is a “smart card.” Most places worldwide issue smart cards for innocuous things like transportation and direct debit, and you have to swipe the card on a terminal to activate it. Carrying one is, at least, optional.

Not in Japan. Although the 2005 proposal suggested foreign “swiping stations” in public buildings, the technology already exists to read IC cards remotely. With Japan’s love of cutting-edge gadgets, data processing will probably not stop at the swipe. The authorities will be able to remotely scan crowds for foreigners.

In other words, the IC chip is a transponder — a bug.

Now imagine these scenarios: Not only can police scan and detect illegal aliens, but they can also uncover aliens of any stripe. It also means that anyone with access to IC chip scanners (they’re going cheap online) could possibly swipe your information. Happy to have your biometric information in the hands of thieves?

Moreover, this system will further encourage racial profiling. If police see somebody who looks alien yet doesn’t show up on their scanner (such as your naturalized author, or Japan’s thousands of international children), they will more likely target you for questioning — as in: “Hey, you! Stop! Why aren’t you detectable?”

Charles McJilton on how visa overstayers too get Gaijin Cards

Charles McJilton: For most foreigners in Japan, receiving a visa to stay in Japan begins the road of registering at the local ward, applying for a gaijin card, opening a bank account, and eventually paying taxes. All of these things are milestones signifying that one is a bona fide member of society. But how does one survive if the do not have a visa? How do they go about legitimizing their existence, and is it possible?…

There is an unwritten rule among the foreigners I deal with and that is we do not ask about one’s visa status. There is no reason to ask. So, in 2002 I was having coffee with Miss X when she casually told me, “I have all my paperwork except my visa.” She then pulled out a folder filled with documents. And sure enough, one was a copy of her foreign registration at her local ward. And then she showed me her gaijin which had written in black 在留資格なし(no permission to stay). She explained that each year she was required to “renew” her gaijin card.

Then she explained why she registered. As registered foreigner and single mother she was eligible for support from the government for specific things related to her son. For example, when she gave birth, the ward office picked a part of the hospital bill. When her son went to daycare while she was working the ward stepped in and provided some assistance. And when her son entered elementary school the ward subsidized his lunch meals. This would not have been possible had she not registered her son…

Get Japan Times tomorrow Tuesday May 19, next Zeit Gist article on the New IC “Gaijin Cards”.

My next article in the JT will be tomorrow, Tuesday May 19 , on the proposed legislation to make things more “convenient” and “protected” for NJ residents: the New Zairyuu Kaado with biometric data stored on IC Chips.

Convenient? Yeah, for the police, not NJ. I make the case that, if the legislation is passed, policing and punishments will only get stricter, and the chipped cards will act as “bugs” encouraging further police checkpoints and racial profiling.

Chunichi Shinbun May 11, 2009 on New IC Gaijin Card debate

Excellent article in yesterday’s Chunichi Shinbun on what’s the problem with the new proposed IC Gaijin Cards, and how the extra policing that NJ will have to endure will just make life worse for a lot of people. Again, the goal is only to police, not to actually help NJ assimilate and make a better life here.

In particular, read the contrarian arguments. Now this is how we proceed with a debate. We get people who know what they’re talking about to express the minority view (for where else is it going to be heard?). As opposed to last night’s TV Tackle, which basically had the status quo maintained with the same old commentators spouting much the same old party lines.

Asahi: domestic resistance to new IC Gaijin Cards

Asahi: The review of the proposed new section of the laws controlling residency of foreigners in Japan under exit and entry laws for foreigners is currently taking place in the Legal Subcommittee of the Lower House. Although on one hand it is expected that the law will have the effect of reducing illegal residency in Japan, on the other hand criticism is being heard that this law “Can be seen as nothing more than making foreigners (residing in Japan) an object of surveillance”…

Negative reactions, mainly from human rights NPO groups that support foreigners are very strong. Numerous faults with the law, have been pointed out one after the other–The requirement that foreigners carry the residency card with them at all times is excessive, criminal penalties for not carrying it are too heavy, canceling residency privileges because of errors in reporting address or because of getting married without reporting it are too severe, the human rights of foreigners who are attempting to flee from domestic violence are not protected, refugees, whose necessarily must undergo a lengthy administrative process are not covered by this law and their status is left vague (and other problems).

Hatate Akira, head of the group “Freedom and human rights coalition” has attacked the very philosophical basis of the law saying that “This new level of surveillance (of foreigners) will lead to increased discrimination” In response to this, the Japan Democratic Party has proposed dropping from the law the requirement to carry this identity card and the imposition of criminal penalties for not doing so, as well as other modifications…

Japan Times: DPJ slams new Gaijin Cards and further tightening of NJ policing

Japan Times: A Democratic Party of Japan legal affairs panel has drafted proposals to soften the rules and punishments stipulated in government-sponsored bills to tighten immigration regulations on foreign residents, DPJ lawmaker Ritsuo Hosokawa said Thursday.

The panel called for eliminating eight provisions in the bills, including one that would oblige foreigners to always carry residency cards, Hosokawa told The Japan Times…

“The control (over foreign residents) is too tight” in the bills, said Hosokawa, who is the justice minister in the DPJ’s shadow Cabinet. Under the proposed system, resident registrations would be handled by the Justice Ministry, not the municipalities where people live.

New IC “Gaijin Cards”: Original Nyuukan proposal submitted to Diet is viewable here (8 pages)

As a poll indicates, a third of all people surveyed as of today don’t have enough information to make an accurate decision about whether the new IC-Chipped Gaijin Cards are a good thing. Well, let’s fix that. What follows are scanned pages of the actual proposal before Dietmembers, submitted by Immigration, for how they should look and what they should do. All eight pages are scanned below (the last page suffered from being faxed, so I just append it FYI). Have a read, and you’ll know as much as our lawmakers know. Courtesy of the Japan Times.

Yomiuri on new “Zairyuu Cards” to replace “Gaijin Cards”

The new policing system for NJ is slowly materializing. In what looks to be a privy leak to the Yomiuri (scooping almost all the other newspapers according to a Google News search; distracted by a drunk Nakagawa and Hillary’s visit?), yesterday’s news had the GOJ proposal for new improved “Gaijin Cards”.

Yomiuri says it’s to “sniff out illegals” and to somehow increase the “convenience” for foreigners (according to the Yomiuri podcast the same day). It’s still to centralize all registration and policing powers within the Justice Ministry, and anyone not a Special Permanent Resident (the Zainichis, which is fine, but Regular Permanent Residents who have no visa issues with workplace etc.) must report minute updates whenever there’s a lifestyle change, on pain of criminal prosecution. Doesn’t sound all that “convenient” to me. I’m also not sure how this will be more effective than the present system in “sniffing out illegals” unless it’s an IC Card able to track people remotely. But that’s not discussed in the article.

I last reported on this on nearly a year ago, where I noted among other things that the very rhetoric of the card is “stay” (zairyuu), rather than “residency” (zaijuu). For all the alleged improvements, the gaijin are still only temporary.

One bit of good news included as a bonus in the article is that NJ Trainees are going to be included for protection in the Labor Laws. Good. Finally. Read on.

Public Meeting: NGOs protest new Gaijin Card System Sat Jan 24 Tokyo

Public gathering against the government’s new plan to introduce “Zairyu Kaado (resident card)” system

Date: Saturday, 24 January 2009
Time: 14:00 – 17:00
Venue: B1F, YMCA Asia Youth Center
2-5-5 Sarugaku-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0064, Japan
JR Suidobashi sta. 6min, Ochanomizu sta. 9min, Subway Jimbocho sta 7min
Admission: 500 yen
Simultaneous translation service available (Japanese-English)

Organized by:
NGO Committee against the introduction of “Zairyu Kaado (resident card)” system

Britain’s “Gaijin Card” system comes online: UK Telegraph warns against potential foreign celebrity backlash

Compare and contrast the introduction of fingerprinting (moreover Gaijin Cards) for foreigners in the UK. At least Britons are protesting it, and the media is giving them a voice. That’s more than can be said for Japan last year around November 20, when the media suppressed the opinion of NJ residents and NGOs:

Daily Telegraph: From today, anyone from outside the European Union who wants to live and work in the UK for more than six months will have to apply for a compulsory British ID card.

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, wants 90 per cent of foreign residents in Britain to have identity cards by 2014.

To get an ID card, people will have their faces scanned and will have to give 10 fingerprints.

Campaigners fear that this will put off celebrities like American singer Madonna from setting up home here and so damage the cultural life of the nation.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group including author Philip Pullman, musicians Neil Tennant and Brian Eno, campaigning QC Baroness Kennedy and comedians Mark Thomas and Lucy Porter, warn of the damage to Britain’s image abroad…

UK now considering introducing Gaijin Cards

Here’s another brick in the wall, alas. The UK is also proposing the introduction of Gaijin Cards. Just when you thought you could point to other countries and say, “Look, they don’t do something like this, so let’s not do it here,” they go ahead and do it too. Sigh.

It’s not absolutely the same system at this point — not all foreigners have to get this card. Yet. But I like how the counterarguments to the scheme are similar to ones I’ve made in the past — about how guinea-pigging a segment of the population is the thin edge of the wedge to introducing the scheme for everyone. And no mention as yet in this article as to whether it’ll be a criminal offense, warranting arrest and interrogation after instant street spot checks, if you are not carrying the card on your person 24-7. Meanwhile, let’s wait and see what Japan does with its long-announced intention to Gaijin Chip all NJ with new improved RFID. In the club of developed countries, I don’t think Japan will be outdone in its policing of its foreigners.

Asahi on new “Gaijin Cards” with greater policing powers over “NJ overstayers”

Asahi: “An advisory group to Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama has proposed changes to the alien registration card system to crack down on people overstaying their visas. The new registration card would make it easier for the authorities to keep track of foreign nationals staying in Japan.”

Yomiuri: GOJ revising NJ registry and Gaijin Card system: More policing powers, yet no clear NJ “resident” status

Yomiuri reports the change in the old “Gaijin Card” system, extending its validity for up to five years and somehow registering NJ with their J families. The bad news is that this measure, despite claims that it will make life “more convenient” for NJ living in Japan, is mainly a further policing measure. Registration will be centralized in the police forces (not the local municipalities any more), the replacement Cards will have more biometric data and tracking capability (RFID, anyone?), and the “zairyuu” (not “zaijuu”) cards, as labelled, are rhetorically old wine in new bottles. We still have to get beyond seeing NJ in Japan as “not really residents”, and all our protestations thus far clearly have not sunk yet in with policymakers at the national level.