NPA “Crime Infrastructure Countermeasures” campaign also targets “foreign crime” anew. Justifies more anonymous anti-NJ signs

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Last blog entry we talked about how the National Police Agency exaggerates and falsifies data to whip up media panic about “foreign crime”.  We’ve also talked for many years on Debito.org about how the NPA has been putting out racist public notices about NJ criminals (including, in my opinion, assisting the seedier J-media to publish some examples of hate speech).  Well, anonymous postermakers are now getting into the act, what with the NPA’s most recent anti-crime campaign:

First, check these out (courtesy of Welp):

gizokekkonjune2013gaikokujinhanzaitsuihouJune2013

http://image.blog.livedoor.jp/kankyotoshisetsu/imgs/c/9/c9eaf02e-s.jpg
http://image.blog.livedoor.jp/kankyotoshisetsu/imgs/3/1/318b27b8-s.jpg

The poster at right calls upon Tokyo Immigration Bureau to do something about fake international marriages, claiming they’re “rising rapidly” (kyuuzouchuu), and says (with the obligatory plural exclamation points that are characteristic of the alarmist far-right) that we cannot permit illegal foreign labor or overstayers!!

The poster at left calls for the “expulsion of foreign crime” (!!), with murder, mugging, arson, rape, and theft listed at 25,730 cases! (Again, no comparison with Japanese crime, which is far, far higher — especially if you look at theft.) The bottom boxes are not to me fully legible, but the blue one asks the authorities not to give up in the face of fake applications for visas, Permanent Residency, and naturalizations!

(I would love to get larger copies of these posters. If anyone sees them on the street (take a photo!) or finds them online with greater resolution, please send to debito@debito.org.  Thanks.)

COMMENT:  Neither of these posters has a source or an organization listed on them, so anonymous vigilante hate groups are getting into the act. I find the first poster in particular unsettling, where brides are portrayed as merely cowls of flags.  You can’t trust NJ women, because under their pretty faces are lurking nationalisms that are not part of “us”.

Back to something more professional.  Again, from Welp:

sonokouihanzaijune2013

Courtesy http://www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/images/h0/h0001_03.gif

This is from the Kanagawa Prefectural Police site (a proud sponsor of the door-to-door neighborhood resident checks and forked-tongue friendly cops who produce racist posters). It warns people in four languages that what they’re doing is criminal activity, including forgery, “bogus marriage” (wow, the language level is getting better), “false affiliation” (gizou ninchi, meaning a J male falsely acknowledges paternity of an NJ child to get that child Japanese citizenship), and false adoption (I hope this won’t now target Japan’s Douseiaisha).  Although not mentioning NJ in specific, the poster’s multilinguality means it’s meant for an international audience (Japanese, Chinese, Korean, English, and I think either Tagalog or Bahasa Indonesia).

(Again, I would love a larger graphic so we could read it all:  Eyes peeled, Debito.org denizens of Kanagawa!)

COMMENT:  The interesting bit is in the bottom green section, where it talks about the Hanzai Infura [illegible] Taisaku (Crime Infrastructure Countermeasures).

What’s meant by “crime infura”?  It’s a new enough concept to warrant an explanation from the Kanagawa Prefectural Police Site:

hanzaiinfrakanagawakenkeisatsuJune2013

Courtesy http://www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/images/h0/h0001_04.gif

“Infrastructure” is the things and organizations that are the basic foundation of a society, meaning roads, rails, plumbing, etc.

By “Crime Infrastructure”, this is meant to be the the same thing to undergird crime, such as cellphones under false names, fake websites, false marriages, false adoptions, and false IDs.

The Ibaraki Prefectural Police have a more elaborate explanation, with helpful illustrations of eight cases.  Three talk about the shyster groups and internet sites who offer drugs, fake subscriptions, loans and financing schemes, etc. But five of the eight talk about NJ criminal activity, including money laundering through “illegal overstayers”, employers of the same, underground hospitals that engage in illegal medical activities and drug dispensing (!!), underground taxis, false IDs, and false paternity scams to get Japanese citizenship.  As I said, complete with helpful illustrations (note the absence of hakujin, so the illustrator has to play with noses to gaijinize them properly):

hanzaiinfuraibarakijune2013

Courtesy http://www.pref.ibaraki.jp/kenkei/a01_safety/security/infra.html

In fact, this “foreign crime infrastructure” meme is not new.  The first Debito.org heard about it was in 2009, when the NPA circulated its regular crime reports:  NJ crime was down year on year, so they had to find a way to sex up the numbers.

Hey presto!  Shift the focus from about foreign criminals as INDIVIDUALS, and towards foreign crime in GROUPS:   Then we can talk about NJ crooks targeting Japan and spreading their invisible tentacles nationwide. (Never mind the already well-established tentacles of organized crime in Japan, naturally — as Tokyo Governor Ishihara said, NJ crimes are so heinous in comparison that there are some parts of Japan where allegedly Japanese yakuza fear to tread! (Ishihara, Nihon Yo, 2002: 100))  To raise the fear factor further, we’ll even tell the media that Gaijin groupism means the NPA can’t measure foreign crime statistically!  

By 2010, this is exactly what happened.  And as of 2013, the NPA is now trying to popularize a new concept (since NJ crime still isn’t cooperating by going up anymore) of a “crime infrastructure”, as if it’s now embedded and endemic, invisible and unmeasurable — because it’s connected to NJ.  It’s part of the externality of once-peaceful Japan’s contact with the outside world and internationalization.

This new campaign conveniently occasions those posters made by anonymous vigilantes. Now we have a propaganda infrastructure that normalizes public displays of xenophobia in Japan.  Arudou Debito

2012 revisions to immigration and registry laws shaking down NJ for Pension & Health Insurance back payments

mytest

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Hi Blog. This entry is more of a query than a conclusive essay. I raise the question because we’re seeing the intended aftereffects of the 2012 revisions to the Immigration law (which allowed for NJ to be properly registered as residents on the Juuminhyou, but also centralized control of IC-Chipped Gaijin Cards in the national government) emerge. And allegedly more targeting of NJ in terms of social welfare schemes.

A friend of mine writes in (edited):

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

Don’t know if you’ve heard about the latest moves by the GOJ to milk foreign residents of their hard-earned cash. They are looking into NJ with the help of that new IC chip torokusho card and making people pay for the kokumin hoken health insurance AND nenkin pension they have never paid into.

I know several people who have been hit with this and it has drained their bank accounts.  They can’t even afford the plane ticket to go back home and see ailing parents. They said a lien would be put on their account/pay checks if they didn’t pay.

A teacher I know (in his 40s) has been here some 10 years and has NEVER paid into the health insurance scheme nor nenkin. He called up city hall inquring about this and they said yes indeed he is delinquent will have to pay up all those missed years! They asked his name and he said thank you and hung up the phone! 

Another friend of mine got zapped for back payments. Every month he was being charged fines/penalties for late payments. So even if he negotiated returning to a monthly fee he would still have to pay a huge amount in extra fees. So he paid it off lump-sum and has depleted all of his savings.

The health insurance is important as one needs that to ensure treatment here, but having NJ pay into the nenkin scheme if they feel they will not be here forever to pay into it is ridiculous.  Any advice on how to get around this? I’d love to hear what you think on the matter.

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

COMMENT: We talk about Japan’s social welfare systems in detail in HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS (and my eBook GUIDEBOOK FOR RELOCATION AND ASSIMILATION INTO JAPAN). Personally, I take the side of everyone paying in. I believe that everyone in a society should support the national umbrella insurance systems, because opting out by saying, for example, “I’m not sick now so I don’t need it; I’ll only sign up when I get sick,” is fair-weather freeloading, as if you’re expecting a return on an investment when you need it but you didn’t make the investment in the first place.  (National systems can’t remain solvent like that. These issues were developed and ironed out during the Obamacare debates.)   Also, saying that “I can’t see myself retiring in Japan so I shouldn’t have to pay into Japanese pension” is also bad logic, especially given Totalization Agreements Japan has arranged with a number of societies (also covered in HANDBOOK/GUIDEBOOK) for pensions to be started and completed in different countries.

That said, there are a couple of issues that affect NJ differently here.  One is that one of the reasons why some J have not paid in is because their employer (who is responsible to pay in half of their employees welfare benefits if they work 30 hours a week and up, i.e., full time) didn’t pay in their half.  This is often unbeknownst to the NJ employee and a tax dodge by the employer.  Yet the person who gets chased down for the back payments is the NJ employee.

Another issue that affects everyone is that Japan’s pension system basically requires 300 months (25 years) of work before you qualify for any pension (although I have heard that might be changing to 10 years’ minimum investment).  That’s the longest minimum pension investment for any industrialized society.  But since that affects everyone, that’s part of the price you pay to live in Japan.

The difference is that for the Japanese public you get a nicer attitude and less draconian enforcement.  Japanese just get official posters nicely cajoling them to pay into the social welfare schemes, but there is no real enforcement unless they want future pension payments (or to avoid public shame, as was seen in 2004 when Japanese politicians were caught not paying in).  But for NJ, now that all of their visa and registry issues have been consolidated behind Central Control, their very visa renewals are contingent upon paying into social welfare, and they’re being chased and shaken down for the money.  It’s a very different approach, and the newfound dragnet further encourages bureaucrats to scrutinize and treat NJ as potential social deadbeats.  It’s one more official way to treat NJ as “different”.

Anyone else out there being officially shaken down?  And for how much?  Arudou Debito

Aichi Police online announcement about Junkai Renraku door-to-door cop visits. Happening in your neighborhood?

mytest

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Hello Blog. This post comes to you as a query. Are any Debito.org Readers noticing that the Japanese police are keeping closer tabs on people by going door-to-door to survey occupants (junkai renraku), asking them to fill out Junkai Renraku Cards?

(To see what information is required for the Junkai Renraku, especially for NJ residents, here’s one translated into English by the NPA).

We’ve talked about this before on Debito.org, where we have seen the police doing door-to-door surveys of residents, with a special emphasis on how that involves Gaijin Carding for people living in Gaijin Houses.  Some people have said that this has never happened to them (for example, it never happened to me despite living in various places in Hokkaido over the course of 25 years), others it has (they think it’s cop SOP).

But the interesting thing is that at a prefectural level, Aichi, for example, is making public announcements to their residents that they will be making the rounds to households (katei).  (If this was all that normal a SOP, why the need for a public service announcement?)  This will be in order to:

  • Give advice on how not to become victims of crime,
  • Take measures for people who have been victims of crime,
  • Contact neighborhoods that have recently been victims of crime (such as sneak thievery and car break-ins) and advise them how to take measures against crime in the future,
  • Prevent youth crime (shounen no hankou boushi),
  • Have lists of occupants (renraku hyou) on hand and phone numbers in case of disasters,

and more. See http://www.pref.aichi.jp/police/safety/houmon/

We are seeing these PSAs in other prefectures, such as Kanagawa (http://www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/mes/mesg1001.htm), and door to door checks apparently elsewhere.

A couple of funny things going on here. First, information about neighborhood occupancy should be available through the juuminhyou system in the first place.  Much of this information is also surveyed by the National Census (kokusei chousa), where, I might add, providing any information is optional (note how the optionality of providing personal information is not mentioned in the Aichi Police website). Why do the police feel the need to compile their own data set?

Well, because police are control freaks, and given the degree of power the Japanese police have in Japan, privacy issues are of less importance than maintaining order.  And you just know that if they catch a NJ at his or her home, there’s going to be much more intrusive questioning than just phone numbers and occupants — they will demand to see your Gaijin Card and ascertain that your visa is current, all on your front doorstep.  Have a nice day.  It’s not just on the street at random anymore, meaning they’ll intrude upon where you live.  Moreover I doubt that for NJ targeted, answering questions will be optional (plead the Fifth (mokuhiken) and arouse suspicion — something that leads to more thorough investigations downtown).

Of course, the Aichi Police offer themselves and their questioning as all sweetness, with benign photos of the police at work in their communities:

aichiprefjunkairenraku4

Subtext:  “Like you, even [female] cops have maternal instincts…”

aichiprefjunkairenraku3

“Now now, you needn’t be afraid of this man in uniform who has approached us for some unknown reason during our very traditional daily constitutional.  Especially since he’s even gotten down on his knees for you…”

aichprefjunkairenraku2

“This is how we will approach you to demand personal information” (outside a place that is clearly not a household).  We can only hope that our boys in blue will be so smiley and unaggressive.

Here’s the best one:

aichijunkairenraku042713

“OMG!  I’m so glad to see a cop knocking at my door.  I just love a man in uniform!  Come inside!”

Now, you might think I’m making too much of this.  But naturally I would argue not.  Especially since we have had cases of police agencies doing one thing (like putting out racist anti-NJ flyers) while offering sweetness and light on their official English website.  There’s a lot of tatemae here, and you only have to be a minority in Japan before you understand just how much intent and enforcement differ from the sloganeering.

My advice:  If you get an unexpected knock one day and see (through the peep sight) a cop at your front door, don’t answer.  Because if they visually identify you in any way as NJ, you are automatically suspicious and you’ll get the Third Degree.

Anyone else noticing their local police becoming more intrusive these days?  Arudou Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 63, May 14, 2013: “Police, media must consider plight of those caught in linguistic dragnet”

mytest

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justbecauseicon.jpg

Police, media must consider plight of those caught in linguistic dragnet
Racialized terms thrown about by cops and parroted by news outlets have consequences

The Japan Times, JUST BE CAUSE Column 63, May 14, 2013
By ARUDOU Debito
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/05/14/issues/police-media-must-consider-plight-of-those-caught-in-linguistic-dragnet
Version with links to sources

A national media exerts a powerful influence over the lives of members of its society. For example, rumors or untruths disseminated through print or broadcast can destroy livelihoods and leave reputations in ruins.

This is why judiciaries provide mechanisms to keep media accountable. In Japan, laws against libel and slander exist to punish those who put out misleading or false information about individuals.

But what about broadcasting misleading or false information about groups? That’s a different issue, because Japan has no laws against “hate speech” (ken’o hatsugen). Consequently, Japanese media get away with routine pigeonholing and stereotyping of people by nationality and social origin.

An example? The best ones can be found in Japan’s crime reportage. If there is a crime where the perpetrator might be a non-Japanese (NJ), the National Police Agency (and by extension the media, which often parrots police reports without analysis) tends to use racialized typology in its search for suspects.

The NPA’s labels include hakujin for Caucasians (often with Hispanics lumped in), kokujin for Africans or the African diaspora, burajirujin-kei for all South Americans, and ajia-kei for garden-variety “Asians” (who must somehow not look sufficiently “Japanese,” although it’s unclear clear how that limits the search: aren’t Japanese technically “Asian” too?).

Typology such as this has long been criticized by scholars of racism for lacking objectivity and scientific rigor. Social scientist Paul R. Spickard puts it succinctly: “Races are not types.”

Even hard scientists such as geneticist J.C. King agree: “Both what constitutes a race and how one recognizes a racial difference are culturally determined. Whether two individuals regard themselves as of the same or of different races depends not on the degree of similarity of their genetic material but on whether history, tradition, and personal training and experiences have brought them to regard themselves as belonging to the same groups or to different groups . . . there are no objective boundaries to set off one subspecies from another.”

The NPA has in recent years gotten more sophisticated with its descriptors. One might see tōnan ajia-jin fū for Southeast Asians, chūtō-kei for Middle Easterners, indo-kei for all peoples from the Indian subcontinent or thereabouts, or the occasional chūgokujin-kei, firipin-kei, etc., for suspects involved in organized crime or the “water trade.”

But when the suspect is of uncertain ethnic origin but somehow clearly “not Japanese,” the media’s default term is gaikokujin-fū (foreign-looking).

[For example, do a search for 外国人風 at http://sitesearch.asahi.com/.cgi/sitesearch/sitesearch.pl]

Lumping suspects into a “Japanese” or “not Japanese” binary is in fact extremely unhelpful during a search for a suspected criminal, because it puts any NJ, or visible minority in Japan (including many Japanese citizens), under the dragnet.

Not only does this normalize racial profiling; it also encourages the normalization and copycatting of stereotypes. I have seen cases where people assumed that “foreigners” were involved in a crime just because they saw people who “looked different” or “acted different” (which has in the past encouraged criminals to adopt accented speech, or blame fictitious foreign perps to throw cops off their trail).

[See for example http://www.debito.org/aichibikergangpatsy.htmlhttp://www.debito.org/?p=841http://www.debito.org/?p=3060]

There are two other bad habits reinforced by publicly racializing criminality. One is the creation of a public discourse (discussed many times on these pages) on how “foreigners” in particular are a source of crime, and thus destabilizing to Japanese society.

The other is that any careless typology winds up associating nationality/phenotype/social origin with criminal behavior, as in, “He’s a criminal because he’s Chinese.”

Both habits must be stopped because they are, statistically, damned incorrect.

How should the NPA remedy this?

Easy, really. They should amend, if not outright abandon, any race-based typology when reporting crime to the media. The police and the media should try this instead:

1) When there is a suspect on the run, and the public is being alerted to be on the lookout, then give phenotypical details (e.g., gender, height, hair color) — the same as you would for any Japanese fugitive. Do not reveal any nationality (or use the generic word “foreign”). Why? Because nationality is not a matter of phenotype.

2) When there is a suspect in custody for interrogation (as in, not yet charged for prosecution), then it is not necessary to give phenotypical or nationality details. Why? Because an accusation without charge is not yet a crime statistic, so those details are irrelevant to the case. It is also not yet a fact of the case that this particular crime has been committed by this particular person — innocent before proven guilty, remember.

3) When there is an arrest, giving out details on specific nationality is permissible, as it is now a fact of the case. Pointing out phenotypical details, however, is unnecessary, as it may draw undue attention to how criminals supposedly “look.” (Readers will have their curiosity sated by seeing the inevitable photograph, now also a fact of the case.)

4) When there is a conviction, refer to 3 above. But when there is an acquittal, the police and media should mention the nationality of the former suspect in a public statement, to counteract the social damage caused by any media coverage that may have inadvertently linked criminality to a nationality.

Remember that at any time during criminal procedure, it is never necessary to use the generic word “foreign,” what with all the potential for overgeneralization and stereotyping. In addition, the police should repeatedly caution the media against any tone associating nationality with criminality.

Now, why am I devoting a column to this? Because the media must not only watch the watchers; it must watch itself. I also know that policymakers read the Japan Times Community pages and this column, because they have changed their policies after withering criticisms here.

Remedial actions inspired by this space include the Takamadonomiya All Japan Junior High School English Speech Contests amending their rules to disqualify “native English speakers” instead of just “all foreigners” (Zeit Gist, Jan. 6, 2004), NTT DoCoMo repealing their “security deposit” for all foreigners only (ZG, Aug. 29, 2002), the Cabinet’s human rights survey rewriting questions that once made human rights “optional” for foreign humans (ZG, Oct. 23, 2007) and, most significantly, the National Research Institute of Police Science discontinuing its racist “foreigner DNA” research scheme for crime scenes (ZG, Jan. 13, 2004).

Here’s hoping that the police and media realize what careless reportage does to NJ residents, and start monitoring themselves better. It’s time to make amends for all the social damage done thus far.

After all, both are generally more careful if the suspects are Japanese. Anyone ready to say in public “He’s a criminal because he’s from Osaka”? Thought not. Consistency regardless of nationality or social origin, please.

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

Arudou Debito’s “Japanese Only: The Otaru Onsens Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan” is now on sale as a 10th anniversary e-book on Amazon for ¥975. See www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community pages of the month. Send comments and ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.
ENDS

Another genre of discriminatory sign: Genky Stores in Gifu threaten NJ shoplifters with arrest and employment reprisal. Odd, what with J shoplifting increasing

mytest

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Hi Blog. As a followup to the previous blog post talking about racist public notices by the Japanese police forces, here is another type of discriminatory sign that is also worthy of discussion — one that warns the public that NJ are criminals:

GenkyStoresBewareNJCrime022813

=====================================
(in Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, and English)

警告
外国人による犯罪行為については、警察だけではなく
職場や派遣会社にも「必ず」連絡します。

WARNING
If we find any kinds of criminal acts of foreigners, we SURELY report not only to the police but also to your workplace and your agency.

— GENKY Stores Inc (a drugstore in Kani-shi, Gifu-ken, dated February 28, 2013, taken by HSD, courtesy of shared links on Facebook through SM)

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

We have talked about this on Debito.org for years now:  If you want to call for an end to criminal activity, we suggest drawing attention to the CRIME, not the NATIONALITY.  It’s not as if Japanese are innocent of, for example, shoplifting.  In 2009, we had the Tokyo MPD deciding to survey (as opposed to arrest and snitch on their workplace) 2000 shoplifting suspects to find out their crime patterns (how nice and mellow of them; nicer than getting them fired and deported) — especially of the “lonely elderly”:

=====================================
Police combat crime by “lonely” elderly
Reuters.com  By Colin Parrott

TOKYO | Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:41pm EDT

http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/08/27/us-japan-elderly-idUSTRE57Q48D20090827

(Reuters) – Tokyo police will try to rein in a wave of shoplifting by lonely elderly people by involving them in community service, a police spokesman said Thursday.

One out of four elderly shoplifters in the capital blamed their crime on loneliness, Japanese media quoted a police survey as saying. Another 8 percent said it was because they had “no reason to live.”

More than half the elderly shoplifters said they had no friends and 40 percent of them lived alone, media said.

“Making shoplifters do volunteer work in the community is effective,” the Tokyo Shimbun quoted J.F. Oberlin University professor Akihiro Sakai, head of a police research panel set up to tackle shoplifting, as saying.

“Instead of increased punishment, I hope we can rehabilitate shoplifters with special care.”

A police spokesman declined to confirm the details of the survey but said it would be released to the public soon.

Elderly shoplifting cases in Tokyo reached all-time highs last year, nearly catching up with the number of cases involving young offenders.

People 65 years or older accounted for 23 percent of the 17,800 known shoplifting cases in 2008, more than doubling in the past five years, media said.

An example cited in the Ministry of Justice’s annual report on crime describes a 76-year-old woman who turned to shoplifting several years ago as a way to battle loneliness after her parents died.

Over 20 percent of Japan’s population is aged 65 or over, with that figure set to double by 2050.

ENDS

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

And these crimes just keep rising:

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

BBC News, 27 January 2011
Japanese pensioners’ shoplifting hits record high
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12296077

More than a quarter of shoplifters arrested in Japan in 2010 were over the age of 65, police have said, as the number of pensioners committing the crime hit a record high.

In an annual report, the National Police Agency said 27,362 pensioners were arrested for shoplifting in 2010 – almost equalling teenagers.

Most of them stole food or clothes rather than luxury items, the NPA said.

Japanese society is ageing rapidly and its economy remains stalled.

More than 20% of the population are now over the age of 65 – a figure which is expected to rise to about 40% by 2050.

A police official told the Mainichi newspaper that pensioners were shoplifting not just for financial reasons “but also out of a sense of isolation peculiar to the age”.

In recent decades the traditional three-generation household structure has changed – more young people have moved to cities to find employment, leaving elderly parents on their own.

Pensioners who want to work have also found it harder to find jobs because of the economic crunch.

Police say the record high – with pensioners comprising 26.1% of all shoplifters – represents a persistent trend.

When record keeping began in 1986, the number of pensioners arrested stood at 4,918. It has climbed since then, hitting 10,000 in 1999 and 20,000 in 2004.

ENDS

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

COMMENT:  How sweet and understanding our police forces are towards these lonely oldies that need some kid-gloved “rehabilitation”.  Although there are some doubts as to how much of an “epidemic” this is (i.e., more old people means more old shoplifters, statistically), the fact remains that Japanese shoplift too (104,827 arrests in 2011 alone; arrests, mind you, not catch and release with a warning ‘cos “they’re so lonely” (cue South Park music)).

Also, note how signs by the police warning the public against shoplifting do NOT target oldsters as a demographic:

chibamanbikichuuisign062111
(Courtesy Japan Times Yen For Living Blog)

For even more sweetness, blog authors Philip Brasor and Masako Tsubuku write:

====================================
At least one blogger writes that, statistically speaking, it’s to be expected. Masamizu Kibashiri (an obvious pseudonym) points out that the fatalist tone of the reporting on elder shoplifting hides a salient and very apparent fact: The number of old people has risen sharply during the past decade while the number of minors has declined at almost the same rate. In the past 20 years, the over-65 population of Japan has jumped from 15 million to 27 million. Given this increase, the slighter rise in shoplifting arrests could actually be taken as being encouraging: Not as many older people are shoplifting as might be expected.

Kibashiri proposes a different statistical model for gauging the phenomenon: Number of elder arrests per 10,000 population of over-65s. Using that statistical model, he finds that the percentage of elder shoplifters has, in fact, risen significantly, from 2.8 in 1989 to 9.5 in 2009, with the largest jump coming around 2005. Obviously, there is a meaningful increase here, but the media needs to qualify its reporting of an “epidemic.”
====================================

Well, good. I’m glad the method behind the statistical analysis gets properly scrutinized if there are Japanese being targeted by it. Now how about the same thing for NJ crime? Nuh-uh. Not so far. Again, signs and notices concerning NJ crime zero in on the criminal, not the crime, making criminality a function of nationality in Japan’s public discourse. No intelligent qualification or caveat necessary unless we’re dealing with Japanese (because, after all, we have to be gentle).  Again, its not a fair debate.

Returning to the Genky Stores genre of signs, here are a few more examples from Debito.org from as far back as 2002:
nakanooldsign
mitakapolice0702
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police
shizuokakeisatsucover
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/shizuokakeisatsuhandbook.html

Arudou Debito
================
UPDATE: RM reports the signs at the Genky store in Minokamo have been taken down.
http://japansociology.com/2013/03/06/update-after-protests-genky-store-takes-down-foreigner-crime-sign/

— Great visuals on the YouTubed video. Watch to the end where the local NJ get to crumple up the sign. Bravo.

Racist flyer from Osaka Pref Police, this time with stereotypical drawings of black people

mytest

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Hi Blog.  The Japanese police are back up to their old tricks. Check this poster out from the Osaka Prefectural Government Minami Police Station Safe Livelhoods Section (courtesy of @feitclub and Tom, photo taken February 13, 2013, by SMBC in Namba Nankai Station), warning the public about “foreign gang crimes” including for no clear reason a gratuitous illustration of some “darkies”…

osakananbukeisatsuflyer021813

Translating:

================================
BEWARE OF THEFTS BY FOREIGN GROUPS TARGETING PEOPLE RETURNING HOME FROM BANKS AND POST OFFICES!

— Overview of the incident —
When the victim was walking back to his/her office after withdrawing cash from a bank teller, he/she was called out to by a group of three foreigners, who stopped him/her with a “You’ve got something stuck to the back of your coat.” When the victim stopped on the spot to check his/her back, that foreigner group snatched his/her bag that he/she had placed at his/her feet.

About the perps…

  • They are aiming for people who have withdrawn large amounts of cash from a financial institution.
  • They are shooting for times when the victim is distracted, using means such as “dropping small change all around”, “staining clothes with paint”, “saying you’ve got a puncture [to your bike tyre]”

Report these incidents to the police by dialing 110…

  • When you see someone in a store with no clear business who is hanging around there for a long time.
  • When you see a suspicious-looking car stopped around a store area.

If you are carrying a large amount of cash…
There are incidents of theft involving foreign groups.
Beware of being targeted for theft when heading back from your financial institution.

et cetera. Please contact us. OSAKA PREFECTURAL POLICE

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

Nice notice. I can’t quite tell why there is a need to include racist caricatures of black people in this clarion call for vigilance against “foreign gangs” (after all, Japanese gangs never steal, so we have to target foreigners, right?). And it’s not the first time we’ve had these sorts of racist caricatures, either, recorded on Debito.org for posterity:

Just a few for your reference:

Ueno Police racist caricatures in 2002 flyer

uenokeisatsu1002

 

More information on the above here.kanagawaracistNPAposter2010More information on the above here.

ikunokeisatsuJune07

More information on the above here.

One day I would love to have leaked to Debito.org NPA training manuals that talk about how NJ suspects are supposed to be treated in public and in custody.  We already have a former public prosecutor acknowledging in 2011 that he was trained to believe that “foreigners have no human rights” in Japan.  If I could get some sections of those training manuals scanned, we would have proof positive and undeniable that Japan’s police forces are not only innately racist, but also systematically racist.  Anyone out there with connections?  Would appreciate it.  Arudou Debito

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

UPDATE FEBRUARY 27:  Debito.org Reader AS sends this:

Hi Debito, I thought I’d share this quick parody of the NPA’s page on “furikome sagi”… http://www.keishicho.metro.tokyo.jp/seian/koreisagi/koreisagi.htm
Sauce for the goose…

ORIGINAL:

furikomesagiNPAoriginal

PARODY:
furikomesagi
ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 59: The year for NJ in 2012: a Top 10

mytest

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Hi Blog. Thanks everyone for putting this article in the Top Ten Most Read once again for most of New Year’s Day (and to the JT for distinguishing this with another “Editor’s Pick”). Great illustrations as always by Chris Mackenzie.  Here’s hoping I have more positive things to say in next year’s roundup… This version with links to sources. Enjoy. And Happy New Year 2013.  Arudou Debito

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

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013

The year for non-Japanese in ’12: a top 10

By ARUDOU DEBITO

Back by popular demand, here is JBC’s roundup of the top 10 human rights events that most affected non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan in 2012, in ascending order.

10. Keene’s naturalization (March 7)
News photo

This should have occasioned great celebration in Japan’s era of crisis, but instead, scholar Donald Keene’s anointment as a Japanese citizen became a cautionary tale, for two reasons. One was his very public denigration of other NJ (despite their contributions as full-time Japan residents, taxpayers and family creators) as alleged criminals and “flyjin” deserters (JBC, Apr. 3), demonstrating how Old Japan Hands eat their young. The other was the lengths one apparently must go for acceptance: If you spend the better part of a century promoting Japanese literature to the world, then if you live to, oh, the age of 90, you might be considered “one of us.”

It seems Japan would rather celebrate a pensioner salving a wounded Japan than young multiethnic Japanese workers potentially saving it.

9. Liberty Osaka defunded (June 2)
News photo

Liberty Osaka (www.liberty.or.jp), Japan’s only human rights museum archiving the historical grass-roots struggles of disenfranchised minorities, faces probable closure because its government funding is being cut off. Mayor Toru Hashimoto, of hard-right Japan Restoration Party fame (and from a disenfranchised minority himself), explicitly said the divestment is due to the museum’s displays being “limited to discrimination and human rights,” thereby failing to present Japan’s children with a future of “hopes and dreams.”

In a country with the most peace museums in the world, this politically motivated ethnic cleansing of the past augurs ill for cultural heterogeneity under Japan’s right-wing swing (see below).

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10619 http://japanfocus.org/-Tessa-Morris_Suzuki/3818

8. Nationality Law ruling (March 23)
News photo

In a throwback to prewar eugenics, Tokyo District Court ruled constitutional a section of the Nationality Law’s Article 12 stating that a) if a man sires a child with a foreigner b) overseas, and c) does not file for the child’s Japanese citizenship within three months of birth, then citizenship may legally be denied.

Not only did this decision erode the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that granted citizenship to international children born out of wedlock, but it also made clear that having “foreign blood” (in a country where citizenship is blood-based) penalizes Japanese children — because if two Japanese nationals have a child overseas, or if the child is born to a Japanese woman, Article 12 does not apply. The ruling thus reinforced a legal loophole helping Japanese men evade responsibility if they fool around with foreign women.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10060 http://www.debito.org/?p=1715

7. No Hague signing (September 8)
News photo

Japan’s endorsement of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction became a casualty of months of political gridlock, as the opposition Liberal Democratic Party blocked about a third of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s bills.

The treaty outlines protocol for how children of broken marriages can avoid international tugs of war. As the Community Pages have reported umpteen times, Japan, one of the few developed countries that is not a signatory, remains a haven for postdivorce parental alienation and child abductions.

Since joint custody does not legally exist and visitation rights are not guaranteed, after a Japanese divorce one parent (regardless of nationality) is generally expected to disappear from their child’s life. Former Diet member Masae Ido (a parental child abductor herself) glibly called this “a Japanese custom.” If so, it is one of the most psychologically damaging customs possible for a child, and despite years of international pressure on Japan to join the Hague, there is now little hope of that changing.

Sources:  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120908a2.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=10548

6. Immigration talks (May 24-August 27)
News photo

In one of the few potentially bright spots for NJ in Japan this year, the Yoshihiko Noda Cabinet convened several meetings on how Japan might go about creating a “coexistence society” that could “accept” NJ (JBC, July 3). A well-intentioned start, the talks included leaders of activist groups, local governments and one nikkei academic.

Sadly, it fell into old ideological traps: 1) Participants were mostly older male Japanese bureaucrats; 2) those bureaucrats were more interested in policing NJ than in making them more comfortable and offering them a stake in society; 3) no NJ leader was consulted about what NJ themselves might want; and 4) the Cabinet itself confined its concerns to the welfare of nikkei residents, reflecting the decades-old (but by now obviously erroneous) presumption that only people with “Japanese bloodlines” could “become Japanese.”

In sum, even though the government explicitly stated in its goals that NJ immigration (without using the word, imin) would revitalize our economy, it still has no clue how to make NJ into “New Japanese.”

Source:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10396

5. Mainali, Suraj cases (June 7, July 3)
News photo

2012 saw the first time an NJ serving a life sentence in Japan was declared wrongfully convicted, in the case of Govinda Prasad Mainali. The last time that happened (Toshikazu Sugaya in 2009), the victim was released with a very public apology from public prosecutors. Mainali, however, despite 15 years in the clink, was transferred to an immigration cell and deported. At least both are now free men.

On the other hand, the case of Abubakar Awudu Suraj (from last year’s top 10), who died after brutal handling by Japanese immigration officers during his deportation on March 22, 2010, was dropped by public prosecutors who found “no causal relationship” between the treatment and his death.

Thus, given the “hostage justice” (hitojichi shihō) within the Japanese criminal prosecution system, and the closed-circuit investigation system that protects its own, the Japanese police can incarcerate you indefinitely and even get away with murder — particularly if you are an NJ facing Japan’s double standards of jurisprudence (Zeit Gist, Mar. 24, 2009).

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=9265
http://www.debito.org/?p=10407
“Hostage justice”: http://www.debito.org/?p=1426

4. Visa regimes close loop (August)
News photo

Over the past two decades, we have seen Japan’s visa regimes favoring immigration through blood ties — offering limited-term work visas with no labor law rights to Chinese “trainees” while giving quasi-permanent-residency “returnee” visas to nikkei South Americans, for example.

However, after 2007’s economic downturn, blood was judged to be thinner than unemployment statistics, and the government offered the nikkei (and the nikkei only) bribes of free airfares home if they forfeited their visa status (JBC, Apr. 7, 2009). They left in droves, and down went Japan’s registered NJ population for the first time in nearly a half-century — and in 2012 the Brazilian population probably dropped to fourth place behind Filipinos.

But last year was also when the cynical machinations of Japan’s “revolving door” labor market became apparent to the world (JBC, March 6) as applications for Japan’s latest exploitative visa wheeze, “trainee” nurses from Indonesia and the Philippines, declined — and even some of the tiny number of NJ nurses who did pass the arduous qualifying exam left. Naturally, Japan’s media (e.g., Kyodo, June 20; Aug. 4) sought to portray NJ as ungrateful and fickle deserters, but nevertheless doubts remain as to whether the nursing program will continue. The point remains that Japan is increasingly seen as a place to avoid in the world’s unprecedented movement of international labor.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10010
http://www.debito.org/?p=10497
http://www.debito.org/?p=10340
International labor migration stats http://www.oecd.org/els/internationalmigrationpoliciesanddata/internationalmigrationoutlook2012.htm

3. New NJ registry system (July 5)
News photo

One of the most stupefying things about postwar Japan has been how NJ could not be registered with their Japanese families on the local residency registry system (jūmin kihon daichō) — meaning NJ often went uncounted in local population tallies despite being taxpaying residents! In 2012, this exclusionary system was finally abolished along with the Foreign Registry Law.

Unfortunately, this good news was offset by a) NJ still not being properly registered on family registries (koseki), b) NJ still having to carry gaijin cards at all times (except now with potentially remotely readable computer chips), and c) NJ still being singled out for racial profiling in spot ID checks by Japanese police (even though the remaining applicable law requires probable cause). It seems that old habits die hard, or else just get rejiggered with loopholes.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10414
http://www.debito.org/?p=9718
Remotely readable computer chips http://www.debito.org/?p=10750

2. Post-Fukushima Japan is bust
News photo

After the multiple disasters of March 11, 2011, there was wan hope that Japan’s electorate would be energized enough to demand better governance. Nope. And this despite the revelations in December 2011 that the fund for tsunami victims was diverted to whaling “research.” And the confusing and suppressed official reports about radioactive contamination of the ecosystem. And the tsunami victims who still live in temporary housing. And the independent parliamentary report that vaguely blamed “Japanese culture” for the disaster (and, moreover, offered different interpretations for English- and Japanese-reading audiences). And the reports in October that even more rescue money had been “slush-funded” to unrelated projects, including road building in Okinawa, a contact lens factory in central Japan and renovations of Tokyo government offices.

Voters had ample reason for outrage, yet they responded (see below) by reinstating the original architects of this system, the LDP.

For everyone living in Japan (not just NJ), 2012 demonstrated that the Japanese system is beyond repair or reform.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=9745
http://www.debito.org/?p=9756
http://www.debito.org/?p=10706
http://www.debito.org/?p=10428
http://www.debito.org/?p=9698
http://japanfocus.org/-Iwata-Wataru/3841

1. Japan swings right (December)
News photo

Two columns ago (JBC, Nov. 6), I challenged former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara (whose rabble-rousing bigotry has caused innumerable headaches for disenfranchised people in Japan, particularly NJ) to “bring it on” and show Japan’s true colors to the world in political debates. Well, he did. After a full decade of successfully encouraging Japanese society to see NJ (particularly Chinese) as innately criminal, Ishihara ratcheted things up by threatening to buy three of the privately-owned Senkaku islets (which forced the Noda administration to purchase them instead, fanning international tensions). Then Ishihara resigned his governorship, formed a “restorationist” party and rode the wave of xenophobia caused by the territorial disputes into the Diet’s Lower House (along with 53 other party members) in December’s general election.

Also benefiting from Ishihara’s ruses was the LDP, who with political ally New Komeito swept back into power with 325 seats. As this is more than the 320 necessary to override Upper House vetoes, Japan’s bicameral legislature is now effectively unicameral. I anticipate policy proposals (such as constitutional revisions to allow for a genuine military, fueling an accelerated arms race in Asia) reflecting the same corporatist rot that created the corrupt system we saw malfunctioning after the Fukushima disaster. (Note that if these crises had happened on the LDP’s watch, I bet the DPJ would have enjoyed the crushing victory instead — tough luck.)

In regards to NJ, since Japan’s left is now decimated and three-quarters of the 480-seat Lower House is in the hands of conservatives, I foresee a chauvinistic movement enforcing bloodline-based patriotism (never mind the multiculturalism created by decades of labor influx and international marriage), love of a “beautiful Japan” as defined by the elites, and more officially sanctioned history that downplays, ignores and overwrites the contributions of NJ and minorities to Japanese society.

In sum, if 2011 exposed a Japan in decline, 2012 showed a Japan closing.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10854
New arms race:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20302604 (Watch the video from minute 5.30:  the Hyuuga, Postwar Japan’s first new aircraft carrier is now in commission, two new big aircraft carriers are in production.)

Bubbling under (in descending order):

• China’s anti-Japan riots (September) and Senkaku-area maneuvers (October to now).

• North Korea’s missile test timed for Japan’s elections (December 12).

• NJ workers’ right to strike reaffirmed in court defeat of Berlitz (February 27).

• NJ on welfare deprived of waiver of public pension payments (August 10), later reinstated after public outcry (October 21).

• Statistics show 2011’s postdisaster exodus of NJ “flyjin” to be a myth (see JBC, Apr. 3).

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10055
http://www.debito.org/?p=10081

Debito Arudou and Akira Higuchi’s bilingual 2nd Edition of “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants,” with updates for 2012’s changes to immigration laws, is now on sale. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp.
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013
ENDS

Irony: GOJ pushes citizen ID law despite outcry over J privacy rights. Sadly, never similar concerns for NJ privacy, natch.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  As a follow-up to the Debito.org post a few weeks ago on putting trackable chips on all non-citizens, we have the same kind of push happening for Japan’s citizens (as per this old article that got buried in my draft blog posts, sorry) for very different express reasons (except for the oft-claimed “convenience” of those being identified, with the unescapable whiff of policing).  That said, note how whenever there is an issue involving the infringement of civil/human rights for “citizens”, there is also an ameliorating push to protect those rights with legislation (see second article below).  For “foreigners”, however, all civil, political, and human rights are essentially left to the mandate of the policing Ministry of Justice, which frequently makes a hash of things.  But all this public concern over, say, privacy rights (whereas foreigners in Japan have had no guaranteed right to privacy in the Postwar Era, since the creation of the Foreign Registry Law)…  Again, it’s one differentiation within Japan’s discourse that alienates Newcomers and Oldcomers, and sets the stage for making disenfranchised exceptions for people who don’t appear to be “Japanese”.  Have a think about this dichotomy, and how the GOJ a) normalizes discrimination, while b) ironically tries to foist the same style of rights abrogations on the general public that have been long-tested upon the “gaijin guinea pigs“.  Arudou Debito

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

2012 February 15 – 21 [POLITICS]
Cabinet pushes citizen ID law
Japan Press February 15, 2012, courtesy of MMT
http://www.japan-press.co.jp/modules/news/index.php?id=2728

The Noda Cabinet approved bills at its meeting on February 14 that will assign an identification number to every citizen and every company, without regard to concerns over privacy abuse or to apprehensions about the possibility of having to pay more in taxes in order to receive better welfare services.

The identification system will collate personal information currently administrated under different programs such as for pension, healthcare, and taxation. The government states that it wants to implement a national ID system in January 2015.

There is now growing concern that such a national identity system could lead to invasion of privacy issues and may also be used to restrict government social security payments.

The government claims that a national ID system will provide easier access to social welfare programs for low-income families.

If that is the aim, it can use other means to provide benefits. What is the government’s true motive?

Akahata reports that the true intention is the promotion of the idea that “social welfare is a benefit one pays for,” which contradicts the established idea of social welfare as a basic human right. The government, in essence, aims to cut back on its payments for social welfare benefits and increase social welfare premiums on the general public.

Democratic Party of Japan member of the Lower House Tamura Kenji during a Cabinet workgroup meeting candidly stated that the introduction of a national ID system is aimed at strengthening tax collection.

The DPJ has since 2009 called for a national ID system as “essential” to “avoid paying unneeded or excessive social security benefits.”

Japanese business leaders have also pushed for a national ID system. Chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) Yonekura Hiromasa said point-blank, “That’s for the purpose of cutting social security expenditures.”

An opinion poll conducted in November last year by the Cabinet Office shows that more than 80% of respondents “do not know” about the proposal to introduce a national ID system. The government should not be allowed to proceed with the plan to introduce such a system while keeping it secret from the general public.

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

The “Jinken Kyuusai Houan” wends its way through political channels

民主部門会議、人権救済法案を了承 反対派の意見押し切り
産經新聞 2012.8.29 11:24 [民主党]
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/politics/news/120829/stt12082911250005-n1.htm

民主党は29日、法務部門会議(座長・小川敏夫前法相)を開き、人権侵害救済機関「人権委員会」を法務省の外局に新設する人権救済機関設置法案(人権救済法案)を了承した。今後、党政策調査会で了承され、今国会中にも閣議決定される見通しだが、与野党の多数派が衆参両院で異なる「ねじれ国会」のため成立する可能性は極めて低い。

同法案をめぐっては「人権侵害の拡大解釈で憲法21条の表現の自由が侵される恐れがある」といった反対論が党内でも根強く、今国会での閣議決定は見送られてきた。だが、野田佳彦首相は8月23日の衆院予算委員会で今国会での法案提出に向け「必要な作業を進めていきたい」と答弁し、立法化を促していた。

この日の会議で、小川座長らは「党内での議論をもっと丁寧にやるべきだ」といった、立法化に慎重な議員らの反対意見を一方的に押し切り、了承した。小川座長は会議後、記者団に「これ以上議論してもいずれ党内がまとまる雰囲気ではなく、このタイミングで結論を出した」と述べた。

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

 ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  A little follow-up on something I have been reporting on for years now:

As Readers of Debito.org 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”…

(As an aside, I have been told by at least one legal expert that spot checks are apparently no longer legally permitted, since the Foreign Registry Law has been abolished, but never mind — it’s still happening.  In fact, I just heard word the other day that somebody who got zapped for a Gaijin Card check in Tokyo wasn’t carrying it, had to be escorted home for proof of valid visa, and after showing it was still slapped with a 200,000 yen fine.  Waiting for final confirmation on that…)

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?

“Green Card” Faraday Envelope:

Global Entry Card Faraday Envelope:

Do you think the GOJ will ever issue a Faraday Envelope to NJ with their ZRKs?  Nosiree.  That would defeat the point of inserting the IC Chip in the first place.  (For the record, taking off the tinfoil hat and wrapping it around your card protects your privacy — until you get remotely racially profiled, of course…)

Remember, protecting the privacy of NJ is not a priority of the MOJ.  As far as they’re concerned, NJ have no right to privacy, for who knows what they’ll get up to in Japan if they’re not properly “administrated”?

So let’s face facts, everyone:  Embedded chips are there to track NJ and legally NJ only.  No more denialism please.  SITYS.  Arudou Debito

Shuukan Kin’youbi: Protests against NJ businesses in Tokyo turn ugly, yet J media compares Chinese protests against J businesses to Kristallnacht

mytest

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Hi Blog. Something came up over the past month that deserves mention on Debito.org when it comes to putting all the “violent Chinese etc. protests against Japan” into some perspective. Something that was not given much audience in the Japanese media — far-rightists targeting domestic minorities in Japan due to the recent flap over some offshore rocks.

Yes, people say “both sides are guilty of saber rattling and banging nationalist drums.”  But one thing I like to remind people is:  Who picked this most recent fight over the Senkakus? And who keeps perpetually stirring things up by having what I would consider a denialist view of history when it comes to being an aggressor and colonizer over the past hundred years? Sorry, but many of Japan’s prominent leaders do. And they (deliberately, in this case) serve to stir up passions overseas. Then when people overseas protest this, who then suddenly claims that the foreigners are overreacting or Japanese are being targeted and victimized? Japan’s leaders. And Japan’s media, to rally the rest of the public.

However, Japan’s victimization trope is being overplayed.  Japanese media, according to the Japan Times, is turning up the invective to compare Chinese protests to Kristallnacht. See here:

============================
The Japan Times, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012
BIG IN JAPAN
Tabloids return fire, urge China business pullout

By MARK SCHREIBER
On Sept. 29, the 40th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between China and Japan, Sankei Shimbun editorial writer Ryutaro Kobayashi asked how it would be possible for Japan to continue discussions with a China that had “lost its national dignity.”

Kobayashi was referring to the sometimes-destructive renhai (human wave) demonstrations in over 100 cities in China protesting Japan’s nationalization of the disputed islands in the East China Sea, which resulted in billions of yen in damages to Japanese-owned businesses.

Scenes of angry mobs trashing stores and factories have led, not surprisingly, to viscerally emotional reactions in Japan’s media. One common response has been a palpable sense of victimhood, of which perhaps the most extreme example appears in a 98-page “mook” (a short book in glossy A4 magazine format) from Shukan Asahi Geino devoted entirely to China, under the headline “Chugoku, fuyukai na shinjitsu” (“China: The unpleasant facts”). Superimposed over a photo of the ransacked branch of the Heiwado supermarket in Changsha, Hunan Province, is a caption that reads, “Sept. 16, 2012 will be inscribed in history as China’s version of the Kristallnacht” (a reference to the notorious pogrom against Jews in Nazi Germany and Austria on Nov. 9, 1938).

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fd20121007bj.html
============================

Well, consider the following domestic actions by Japanese far-rightists against not just foreign business communities overseas, but actual NJ residents of Japan who have been living in Japan for generations (who, by all reasonable standards — including fighting and dying for the Japanese Empire — should be Japanese citizens by now). Are we seeing the same comparisons to Krystallnacht? And will we see those comparisons in the media once we get glass in the gutter and bloodied faces? If the standard for violence in Japan is also “verbal” (as in kotoba no bouryoku), then we’re on our way.

Stop it, everyone, before you do something you might regret later. (Then again, perhaps not, if Japan’s revisionist attitudes towards history continue to hold sway.) Arudou Debito

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

Nationalists converge on Shin-Okubo’s Koreatown
JapanToday.com KUCHIKOMI SEP. 18, 2012
http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/nasty-nationalists-converge-on-shin-okubos-koreatown

Sandwiched between two major streets running parallel, the “Shin-Okubo Koreatown” in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district is home to dozens of Korean-style restaurants and retail shops proffering goods that range from Korean cosmetics to items appealing to fans of “Hanryu” dramas.

Shukan Kinyobi (Sept 14) reports that on Aug 25, a large demonstration of rightists—who are upset over South Korea’s territorial claims to Takeshima island (referred to as Dokdo in Korean)—marched through the neighborhood. The demonstration, whose organizers had tabbed “The Citizens’ Great March to Subjugate South Korea,” consisted of an estimated 500 demonstrators, many of who waved the militaristic “kyokujitsuki” (rising-sun flag), and who chanted such slogans as “Kankokujin wa kaere” (South Koreans go home) and “Chosenjin wa dete yuke!” (Koreans get out).

Things got even nastier after the march ended, when the marchers broke off into smaller groups of around 10 and moved from the main drag to the neighborhood’s many small lanes, where they confronted shopkeepers with even more hostile remarks, such as “Chon-ko wa karere” (Go home, you Korean bastard”) or “We’ll kill you.” They also intimidated compatriots they encountered with veiled warnings like “If you’re a Japanese, then don’t come to this area.”

“It’s very aggravating,” a worker of a street stall selling confections is quoted as saying. “Some young visitors from South Korea got harangued by the protesters. Since that day, the number our customers has tapered off.”

“It appears that the Zaitokukai (short for Zainichi Tokken wo Yurusanai Shimin no Kai or group opposed to special rights for Koreans in Japan) thinks it can build momentum for its movement by harping on the Takeshima and Senkaku issues,” says journalist Koichi Yasuda, who authored a book titled “Pursuing the ‘darkness’ of Internet patriots, the Zaitokukai” (Kodansha), about the noisy group that has been boosting its membership through skillful use of the Internet.

“While I don’t see any signs yet that they are increasing their influence, they still bear watching,” Yasuda adds. “As far as they are concerned, discriminating against the ‘zainichi’ (Koreans in Japan) is everything, and they aren’t terribly concerned about what will become of the disputed territories in the future. But they can use the timing of the dispute as a pretext for pushing their own agenda.”

Some rightists also provoked clashes in the Chinese enclave adjacent to the north exit of JR Ikebukuro station, resulting in police being summoned.

When such run-ins occur, however, Shukan Kinyobi notes that it has been rare for Japan’s mainstream media to devote much coverage. And even those who are confronted by the rightists tend to refrain from seeking sympathy from society, perhaps out of fears that any negative publicity will drive away their customers.

When the Shin-Okubo Merchants’ Association was approached by Shukan Kinyobi for a comment, it declined on the grounds that “We haven’t grasped the details.” The Shinjuku branch of the Zainichi Korean Association replied, “There’s nothing to discuss.” The Chinese in Ikebukuro were also reluctant to speak to reporters.

A staff member at one Korean firm in Shin-Okubo confided to the magazine, “The South Korean embassy here sent out a warning advisory to Korean businesses and groups to the effect that from Aug 25, we should not approach demonstrators or make inflammatory remarks. ‘Refrain from any activities that would put your safety at risk,’ it advised.

“If trouble were to break out, nothing good would come from it, as far as we’re concerned,” he added.

As long as this country has no statute against hate crimes, Shukan Kinyobi opines, this kind of ethnic and racial discrimination will remain out of control. Sixty-seven years since the end of the Pacific War, the issue of “territorial disputes” is being used as a new pretext to abet what are long-term trends.

ENDS

Kyodo: J airport “random body searches” start October. On “int’l passengers”, naturally, so not so random, considering police precedents of racial profiling

mytest

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Hi Blog. A policy trial balloon floated last December by the Transport Ministry has become a full-fledged policy measure:

///////////////////////////////
Japan to start random body searches at airports in October
Kyodo News, Friday, September 14th 2012, courtesy of MD
http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2012/09/182144.html

The transport ministry said Thursday it will start conducting random body searches on international passengers at 29 airports across the country in October to prevent explosives from slipping through metal detectors.

At present, body searches are only performed on passengers who set off metal detectors before boarding, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry [sic]. The ministry did not elaborate on how the body searches would be carried out or by whom.

The ministry is taking the step because terrorist plots involving the use of liquid or solid explosives have been reported in Britain and the United States. It did not say if it was referring to recent events.

The International Civil Aviation Organization recommends that countries conduct random contact inspections or full-body scans on passengers to enhance security.
ENDS

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

COMMENT:  Well, the ministry might well use the word “random”, but precedent dictates that enforcement of any policing operation in favor of “security” tends to see anyone who “looks foreign” as the security threat.  Examples are Legion here on Debito.org, but see a few here, here, here, here, and here.  My point is that we’re just making racial profiling, which is standard procedure in policing operations in Japan, ever more systematic and justified under formal policy.  After all, without the “probable cause” of a metal detector alarm, the procedure has now become completely discretionary.

Remember, this policy is from the same set of Keystone Kop travel authorities that have engaged in such unprofessional activities as planting boxes of cannabis (“randomly”, of course) in NJ bags to test their sniffer dogs.  Problem was, not only was the act of planting their drugs in actual people’s bags formally prohibited, airport authorities did so without notice 160 times over the course of eight months between 2007 and 2008!  We only know about this because one time the fools lost track of the bag they had spiked, and the owner went all the way to downtown Tokyo and checked into his hotel before he realized what was going on.  Now what if he had faced that “random” search while en route?  “Gee officer, I don’t know how that got there,” will certainly convince flinty-eyed NPA representatives trained to target “foreigners”.  Sources:

CNN: Narita Customs spike HK passenger’s bag with cannabis

Narita Customs Cannabis and Sniffer Dog Training part 2: Kyodo says it’s happened 160 times since last September

So attention all you transit passengers going through Japan to other points in Asia:  Even though you haven’t formally been “admitted” into Japan’s Constitutionally-governed territory (such as it is), you’re still going to be treated as an internal security threat, and subject to searches for the sake of preventing terrorism.  Because after all, under Japanese laws and policies, only foreigners are potential terrorists (and carriers of infectious diseases, too).  Enjoy your trip.  Youkoso Japan!  Arudou Debito

Hurrah, the separate Alien Registration System is abolished after 60 years. Now let’s consider the GOJ give & take regarding tracking NJ under this policy

mytest

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Hi Blog. After many years of bureaucratic policy trial balloons and lots of advance warning, July 9, 2012 has finally come to pass, and the longstanding Alien Registration System, promulgated in 1952 to help the GOJ keep track of the pesky aliens (mostly former citizens of the Japanese Empire who were stripped of their Japanese citizenship) who wouldn’t go back to “their country” (staying on in Japan as Zainichi, generational “foreigners” born in Japan to this day), has been abolished sixty years later. In its place, NJ are now registered on Japan’s juuminhyou Residency Certificatesclosing up a ludicrous system where only citizens could be registered as “residents” (juumin) despite paying Residents’ Tax (yup, juuminzei), and teeth-grindlingly stupid moves such as local governments giving animals and fictional characters their own honorary “juuminhyou” despite untaxable status.  Now NJ can also now be listed with their Japanese (and non-Japanese) families properly as family members and heads of household (no longer excluded even from local population tallies for not being listed in the juumin kihon daicho). Finally, closure to that. Good riddance.

That said, the new system also includes new Gaijin Cards (Zairyuu Kaado), which are higher-tech versions (I say remotely trackable due to the RFID technology inside, by design; see below) and still required under criminal law to be carried 24-7 under penalty of search, seizure, and possible incarceration for a week or three. That hasn’t changed. In fact I would now argue it’s gotten worse — since Japanese citizens (even if computer chip technology has also been introduced into J driver licenses and passports, which not all Japanese get anyway) are not required by law to carry any ID whatsoever at all times. Some historical links regarding the true intention of the ZRK (tracking and control of untrustworthy NJ, not convenience for them as is generally sold) follow.

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

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

Bus. consortium to track Ginza shoppers, then IC Gaijin Cards?

Kyodo: GOJ proposes GPS tracking of criminals. SITYS.

Mysterious Asahi translation: “IC cards planned to track ‘nikkeijin’”

Japan Times on Japan’s emerging NJ policing laws. Nichibenren: “violation of human rights”

Follow-up: More on fingerprinting, tracking people electronically, and RFID technology

New Japanese driver licenses now have IC Chips, no honseki

Alright, I’ll paste some articles below and let’s see what the media has made of this. Feel free to tell us how the changes have been affecting you as well. Arudou Debito

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

Alien system ends; foreigners to be issued resident cards
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 10, 2012), courtesy of JT
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120709004610.htm

A new management system for foreign residents in Japan started Monday. As part of the changes, the previous alien registration system will be abolished and a new resident card will be issued to foreign residents in Japan.

The new system is designed to reduce the number of foreign residents staying in Japan illegally and to be more convenient for bona fide foreign residents.

In the previous alien registration system that began in 1952, local municipalities issued alien registration certificates to foreign residents without examining their resident status. This enabled foreigners staying in Japan illegally to obtain the certificates.

Under the new system, the Justice Ministry will issue a resident card to foreign residents, excluding certain people such as diplomats, who have been granted a status of residence in Japan with a period of stay for more than three months. The card will hold information that includes the name, nationality, date of birth and address of the cardholder.

For special permanent residents such as Korean residents in Japan, a special permanent resident certificate will be issued instead of a resident card.

The period of stay limit for foreign residents has been extended from three years to five years. Under the new system, people leaving Japan will not be required in principle to obtain a re-entry permit if they hold a passport and a resident card and return to Japan within a year and before their period of stay expires.

Foreigners with a resident card or a special permanent resident certificate are included in the national resident registry and they will be able to obtain a copy of their certificate of residence from their local municipality.

On the other hand, those who stay in Japan illegally will not be included in the registry. This could prevent them from obtaining administrative services including education services and medical assistance because local municipalities will not be able to obtain necessary information, such as their address.
ENDS
////////////////////////////////////////////

The Japan Times Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Re-entry permits soon consigned to history
Foreigners flock for new residence IDs
By MINORU MATSUTANI Staff writer

A large number of foreign residents flocked to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau on Monday, the first day it is issuing new “zairyu,” or residence, cards to replace alien registration cards.

At 8:30 a.m., more than 100 people had lined up for the applications to obtain a new card, an official at the center in Minato Ward said.

Those who arrived at around 8 a.m. had to wait about two hours. People who didn’t bring a head shot measuring 4 cm by 3 cm also had to line up at the photo booths.

Eight regional bureaus, six district immigration offices and 63 branch offices across the nation are now issuing the residence card. Applicants can go to a bureau or office, fill out the application form and receive the card the same day.

“I feel like a part of society,” Yang Chunying, 52, a Chinese national, said after receiving her residence card at the Tokyo bureau. “I am glad to have the card because things will be more convenient.”

The new immigration control system that began Monday has unified the administrative work on foreign residents under the Immigration Bureau.

While some fear that controls on non-Japanese will be tightened, the government has made it more convenient for law-abiding foreigners by extending visa lengths to five years from the current three, and eliminating the requirement to obtain a re-entry permit before leaving Japan for any period less than a year.

The system is designed to be tougher on illegal residents, however.

Such people have been receiving various public services because municipalities usually don’t care about who is here legally or illegally, but this may not last under the Immigration Bureau’s watch.

Some 130 people, mainly Asians, held a demonstration Monday against the new immigration control system at Hibiya Park in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, saying it is overly harsh on illegal residents.

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120710a1.html

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

First new residency cards for foreign nationals issued at Haneda
July 09, 2012 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120709p2a00m0na013000c.html

Two people on a flight from the United States became the first to get Japan’s new foreign resident cards early on the morning of July 9, the first day of the Ministry of Justice’s new mid- to long-term residency management system for foreign nationals.

Late on July 8, staff from the Immigration Bureau — administered by the justice ministry — stood by at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) in preparation for the switch to the new system. When the clock struck midnight, they changed the signs above the immigration counters, and those indicating card-issuance counters for mid- to long-term residents.

Two passengers from a flight from Los Angeles, California, were the first to apply for the new resident cards at around 4:30 a.m. on July 9. The first recipient was Carlos Shaw, a 37-year-old Tennessee native who was coming to Japan for the first time. Shaw, who is here to teach English at an elementary and junior high school in Yamagata, said he felt lucky to be the first recipient of the new card.

Because the alien registration certificates that had heretofore been issued are being replaced by the new resident cards, mid- to long-term residents already in Japan must exchange their old cards for new ones when they renew their visas. Foreign nationals residing in Japan illegally are not eligible for resident cards under the new system.
ENDS
Original Japanese

在留管理:新制度スタート 「カード」を交付
毎日新聞 2012年07月09日 10時14分(最終更新 07月09日 11時08分)
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20120709k0000e010074000c.html

3カ月以内の短期滞在者などを除く外国人正規滞在者(中長期在留者)に「在留カード」を交付する「新しい在留管理制度」が9日、スタートした。同日早朝、羽田空港(東京都大田区)の入国審査場では、米国籍の男性が同制度で初の在留カードを手にした。

羽田空港では、8日深夜から法務省入国管理局の担当者らが新制度への移行に向けて待機。日付が9日に変わると、入国審査ゲート上の看板の表示を新しくする作業を行い、カード交付用窓口の表示を「中長期在留外国人」に変えた。

9日午前4時半過ぎ、米ロサンゼルスからの航空機に搭乗していたうち2人が初めて在留カードの交付手続きを実施。第1号の取得者となった米テネシー州のカルロス・ショーさん(37)は「山形の小中学校で英語を教えるため、初めて日本に来た。今日から在留管理制度が新しくなることは知らなかったので、第1号だと聞いて、とてもラッキーな気分だ」と驚いていた。

新制度の導入により外国人登録証が失効するため、既に国内に滞在している中長期在留者は9日以降、在留カードへの切り替えを行うことになるが、不法滞在者は新制度の適用外で、カードを取得できない。【伊藤一郎】
ENDS

Suraj Case: Chiba prosecutors decide not to indict 10 Immigration officers in whose custody he died

mytest

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Hi Blog. Sad news. The Suraj Case, which has been covered in various media reproduced here on Debito.org, has wound up as predicted: With the Immigration officers getting off with no indictment and the GOJ getting away with murder (if not negligence leading to homicide while in official custody). Even the Japan Times called his death “brutal”. It’s bad enough when you have a criminal justice system where even citizens are victims of “hostage justice”.  It’s another when you can get away with killing somebody during deportation just because they’re foreign.  One more brick in the wall to demonstrate that once the Japanese police get your hands on you as a NJ, you don’t stand a Chinaman’s Chance, be it in Japan’s criminal investigations, incarceration systems, jurisprudence and standards of evidence, criminal court, or civil court afterwards. In a word, disgusting. Arudou Debito

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

Chiba prosecutors decide not to indict 10 immigration officers over death of Ghanaian man
Mainichi Shimbun July 4, 2012, courtesy of MD
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120704p2a00m0na006000c.html

CHIBA — The Chiba District Public Prosecutors Office decided on July 3 not to indict 10 officers of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau on charges of assault and cruelty resulting in a Ghanaian man’s death when they overpowered him aboard an aircraft.

In deciding to drop the case, the Chiba District Public Prosecutors Office said, “There is no causal relationship between the action (by the immigration officers) and the death (of the Ghanaian man), and the action was legitimate.”

According to Chiba Prefectural Police and other sources, Ghanaian national Abubakar Awudu Suraji, who had overstayed his visa, became violent when he was taken aboard a plane for deportation at Narita Airport on March 22, 2010. The 45-year-old man passed out when immigration officials tried to restrain him with handcuffs, towels and other means. He was taken to a hospital at the airport but died shortly thereafter. The cause of his death remained unknown as a legal autopsy showed no noticeable bodily injuries.

The man’s Japanese wife filed a complaint with the Chiba District Public Prosecutors Office in June 2010, arguing that “there is a high possibility that (her Ghanaian husband) died from a violent assault while being escorted.” In December 2010, the Chiba Prefectural Police sent papers on the case to the Chiba District Public Prosecutors Office.
ENDS

////////////////////////////////////////
Original Japanese article

強制送還中に死亡:入管警備官10人 不起訴処分に
毎日新聞 2012年07月03日 22時41分
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20120704k0000m040091000c.html

成田空港で一昨年3月、強制送還中のガーナ人男性(当時45歳)が東京入国管理局の入国警備官の制止を受けた後に死亡した事件で、千葉地検は3日、特別公務員暴行陵虐致死容疑で書類送検された警備官10人を容疑なしで、いずれも不起訴処分とした。地検は「行為と死亡の因果関係はなく、行為は適法だった」と説明している。

千葉県警などによると、不法滞在していたアブバカル・アウドゥ・スラジュさんは10年3月22日、強制送還のため旅客機に搭乗した際に暴れ、警備官が手錠やタオルなどで制止した後に意識を失い、空港内の病院に搬送されたが死亡した。司法解剖の結果、目立った外傷もなく、死因も不明だった。

男性の日本人妻が「護送中の暴行で死亡した可能性が高い」として同年6月に地検に告訴。同12月、県警が書類送検していた。【黒川晋史】

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 53 July 3, 2012: “In formulating immigration policy, no seat at the table for NJ”

mytest

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Hi Blog. My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 53 dated July 3, 2012, is on the Japanese Government’s renewed policy debate on creating conditions conducive to immigration (without actually portraying it in any way as “immigration” (imin), just more NJ residents). It’s their attempt to address Japan’s demographic and probable economic nosedive despite their assiduous efforts over the decades to a) exploit NJ as temporary workers on a revolving-door labor visa regime, b) blame NJ for all manner of social ills, including foreign crime and desertion, and in the process c) poison the public debate arena for productive discussion about ever treating NJ well enough that they might want to actually stay (since the past three years have seen the NJ population continuously dropping, after 48 years of unbroken rise). The writing’s on the wall, and the GOJ is finally doing something constructive. But (as usual) the bureaucracy is controlling the agenda, and the typical blind spots are coming into play, so as things stand now I think the policy drive will be ineffective.  Have a read and a think.  Arudou Debito
justbecauseicon.jpg

In formulating immigration policy, no seat at the table for non-Japanese

The Japan Times: Tuesday, July 3, 2012
JUST BE CAUSE Column 53 for the Community Page
By ARUDOU Debito
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120703ad.html

Last month the Japanese government took baby steps toward an official immigration policy. Ten ministries and several specialist “people of awareness” (yūshikisha) held meetings aimed at creating a “coexistence society” (kyōsei shakai) within which non-Japanese (NJ) would be “accepted” (uke ire).

This is a positive change from the past two decades, when Japan cultivated an unofficial unskilled labor visa regime that a) imported NJ as cheap work units to keep Japanese factories from going bankrupt or moving overseas, and then b) saw NJ as an inconvenient unemployment statistic, fixable by canceling visas or buying them tickets home (JBC, Apr. 7, 2009).

Yes, we’ve seen this kyōsei sloganeering before. Remember the empty “kokusaika” internationalization mantra of Japan’s ’80s bubble era?

But this time the government is serious. Sponsored by the Cabinet, these meetings are considering assimilationist ideas suggested by local governments and ignored for a decade.

Why? Attendees acknowledged that Japan needs NJ to revitalize its future economy.

Unusually, their discussions were open to public scrutiny (www.cas.go.jp/jp/seisaku/kyousei/index.html) Thank you. And here scrutiny comes . . .

The good news is that the meetings’ heart is in the right place. A fuller analysis of the materials can be found at www.debito.org/?p=10271, but what they’re getting right includes:

• State-supported Japanese language education for all NJ.

• State-supported education for all NJ children (so they don’t wind up as an illiterate unskilled underclass).

• More multilingual information online and in public access areas.

• Proper enrolment for NJ in Japan’s health, unemployment and social welfare systems.

• More assistance with finding NJ employment and resolving unemployment.

• Some attention to “cultural sensitivity” and “mutual respect” issues (not just the one-way gripe of “how NJ inconvenience us Japanese on garbage day”).

• Better coordination between all levels of government for more comprehensive policies, etc.

Bravo. But there are some shortcomings:

First, definitions. What do “coexistence” and “acceptance” mean? Just letting people across the border? Gated communities? Official recognition of ethnic minorities and domestic “foreign cultures”? Acceptance of ethnic differences as “also Japanese”? Or repressing and overwriting those “foreign cultures” (a la the Ainu, Okinawans, Koreans and Taiwanese in Meiji Japan). Without making the terms of discussion clear, we can’t see ultimate intentions.

Second, hard-wired in the proceedings is a narrative that “offsets” and “others” NJ. We have the standard embedded policy invective of “our country” (wagakuni — but isn’t Japan the country of all its residents?), with the issue couched negatively as “the foreign laborer problem” (gaikokujin rōdōsha mondai). If NJ are not treated as intruders, then they are “guests” (as opposed to just human beings) being indulgently granted something from above.

Third, the ministries are considering vague “environmental preparations” (kankyō seibi) before more NJ get here. (But wait, aren’t NJ already here? Or are we somehow wiping the slate clean?)

OK, fine — semantics. But then you read how each ministry’s proposal further betrays an odd predisposition toward NJ:

The Justice Ministry complained that they can’t “administer” (kanri) NJ properly once they cross the border. But with upcoming reforms to NJ registration systems ferreting out more visa miscreants, that’s fixed, they added. Phew. Not much else was proposed.

The health ministry suggested making some important improvements to welfare and employment systems. But nothing too legalistic — after all, discrimination against NJ as workers is already forbidden (kinshi) by law (as if that’s made much difference so far). They also heralded the preferential treatment for “high-quality” (shitsu no takai) NJ from now on through a new “points system” (critiqued as problematic in my March 6 column).

The Cabinet talked exclusively about assisting nikkei — NJ of Japanese descent. Never mind residents from, say, China or the Philippines; bloodlines take priority.

The education ministry recycled old ideas, saying that we need to teach NJ the Japanese language and, er, not much else — not even any antibullying proposals.

Nothing at all from the attending ministries of foreign affairs, finance, trade and industry, transport and tourism, or forest and fisheries.

The most useless report was from the National Police Agency, who, with a single page of statistics cooking up a NJ crime rise (despite a dramatic fall across the board (JBC, April 3)), advocated more policing, much like the Justice Ministry did. (Funny thing, that: Are the police invited to every policy meeting on the treatment of Japan’s residents, or only for policies concerning those inherently untrustworthy NJ residents?)

The biggest problem was the lack of diversity. As this article went to press, all attendees were older Japanese men (OK, two women), with approximately the same socioeconomic status and life experience. Not one NJ attended.

Thus everyone relied on third-party “reports from the field” (genba de), as if NJ are exotic animals studied from binoculars in their habitat. Not even the token Gregory Clark (who never misses an opportunity within these pages to claim how open-minded the Japanese are because they plonk him on blue-ribbon panels) was shoehorned in.

If the people for whom this policy is being created are not present at the agenda-setting stage, the inevitable happens: blind spots.

Here’s the major one: Where is the legal apparatus (hō seibi) to back up those “environmental preparations”?

For example, where is a proposed amendment to the Basic Education Law (to remove the conceit of kokumin, or Japanese national) to ensure that Japanese schools can no longer refuse NJ children an education?

Where is a proposed punishment for the employer who treats his NJ workers unequally, such as by not coughing up their required half of social insurance payments?

What about that law against racial discrimination? Again, these meetings are a well-intentioned start. But I think the outcome will still be policy failure. For there is still no discussion about making NJ feel like they “belong,” as “members” of Japan.

Academic Yumiko Iida (a Japanese, so no claims of cultural imperialism, please), in her award-winning research about Japanese identity (see www.debito.org/?p=10215), argued that there are four things any viable nation-state must create to make its people feel like “members”:

1) A shared memory of the past (i.e., a national narrative) that links them all.

2) A sense of community, with moral obligations attached to it.

3) A world view that makes sense.

4) Hope for the future that other people share.

Consider how NJ are denied these things:

1) NJ have little presence in Japan’s history (remember the old saw, “Japan merely borrows ‘things’ from overseas and then uniquely ‘Japanizes’ them”) so, as these meetings indicate by their very attendance roster, NJ are forever an exogenous force to Japanese society.

2) As discussed on these pages (JBC, June 5), NJ are systematically othered, if not completely ignored as even a minority community within Japan, and that will naturally discourage a feeling of moral obligation to Japan.

3) A world view that does not acknowledge the existence of entire minority peoples cannot possibly make sense to those peoples.

4) Hope for the future in a Japan in decline is a hard sell even for Japanese these days.

The point is, if this policy discussion is to go beyond political theater, the GOJ must now use the dreaded word “immigration” (imin). It must also prepare the public to see immigrants as members of Japanese society — as minority Japanese.

This committee has not. It had better start.

In this era of unprecedented opportunities for world labor migration, Japan must be more competitive. Above all, it must lose the arrogant assumption that people will want to come to Japan just because it’s Japan.

Japan must seriously think about how to be nice — yes, nice — enough to NJ so that they’ll want to stay. And that means making them feel equal in terms of importance and inclusion — as though they belong — with everyone else.

So you want to create public policy that reflects, not dictates, what NJ need? Then listen to those of us already here. The government has admitted you need us. Treat us as an exogenous force at your peril.

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

Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp. For readers’ views on last month’s column, please visit www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120703hs.html
ENDS

GOJ embryonic policymaking reboot for “co-existence with foreigners”: Some good stuff, but once again, policy about NJ without any input from them

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Hi Blog.  We have an important announcement courtesy of academic listserv H-JAPAN:

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

H-JAPAN
May 31, 2012
Date: Thu, 31 May 2012
From: JFMorris
Subject: Multiculturalism in Japan

Dear List members,

A committee has been set up within the Cabinet Office of Japan, composed of the vice-ministers of the Cabinet Secretariat, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Ministiry of Law, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Education etc, Health etc, Agricutlure etc, Industry etc, Land etc, Police to investigate and recommend policy on “co-existence with foreigners”. Information on the committee can be found at the following URL.

http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/seisaku/kyousei/index.html

The documentation provided here gives a very succinct summary of what the government (national level bureaucrats?) of Japan think about “foreigners” here, and how they formulate their perceptions of what the “problems” are, and very vaguely hint at where they see future solutions.

John Morris
Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University

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

COMMENT:  Many thanks to John Morris for the link.  I wish he would have elaborated on the contents of the summaries, so I will.

As concerns the goals of Debito.org (inter alia the promotion of multiracial/multicultural tolerance and and of diversity in Japanese society), here are some points of note:

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

SUMMARY:  This is not the first time the organs of the Japanese government have talked about “coexistence with foreigners” (gaikokujin to no kyousei shakai jitsugen), but more likely than not these happen at the local level (cf. the Hamamatsu Sengen, which happened repeatedly from over a decade ago yet was studiously ignored at the national level).  Now that discussion on this is taking place at the national, Cabinet level, this is a positive development.  However, these meetings (two so far, the first one was less than an hour) at the outset show the hallmarks of so much Japanese policymaking:  a biased agenda (with all the normalized invective of “wagakuni” (our country) semantically offsetting those foreigners (who have to “co-exist” with Japanese, not merge into one polity)) regarding the policy treatment of people without any input from the people being treated.  Inevitable blind spots, such as an overemphasis on Nikkei and children’s education, are already latent in the materials below.  In any case, this is a very interesting and rare view into the dialogs and mindsets behind the creation of public policy re Non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan.  More detailed summaries and analysis follow below.

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

Here is the cover of the anchor site for this policy debate (click to enlarge):

The goal written therein is interesting:  “This deliberative meeting on ‘a society coexisting with foreigners’ has been set up so that related government ministries can deliberate comprehensively in close cooperation with one another, regarding the various problems related to environmental preparations (kankyou seibi) for realizing a society where we can coexist with foreigners who have livelihoods in Japan, in order to promote the undertaking of related policies at all levels of government.” (my translation)

Okay, we’re coordinating something regarding “policy issues” (which is good, since in Japan’s tate-wari bureaucracy the ministries don’t coordinate much with each other).  So who’s attending?  According to the attached konkyo kouseiin for the May 24, 2012 meeting (click to enlarge):

It’s all governmental vice ministers (fuku daijin) from The Cabinet, Internal Affairs & Communications (Soumusho), Justice, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Education, Health & Welfare, Agriculture, Forests & Fisheries (how are they related?), METI, Posts and Communications, and the National Police Agency (there as a jichou).  The chair is former Education Minister Nakagawa Masaharu (under the interestingly-named title of “State Minister in Charge of the Foreign Laborer Problem” (gaikokujin roudousha mondai o tantou suru kokumu daijin), meaning semantically we’ve already problematized a latent “problem” of foreigners into foreign laborers). (More on Nakagawa in Japanese at the renewed Noda Cabinet Profiles here)

Note that there is not a single Non-Japanese (NJ) involved anywhere at the agenda-setting stage.  (Not even the token Gregory Clark, who never misses an opportunity to claim how open-minded the Japanese must be because officials insert him on blue-ribbon shingikai deliberation councils and committees.  Maybe that’s for the better this time, since we really don’t need bigoted geriatric liars with an incredible sense of entitlement telling the GOJ what to do about NJ residents who have completely different socioeconomic statuses to his.)  Anyway, it seems the government obviously knows best what to do with the “foreign laborer problem” from the outset.  Who needs foreign residents’ involvement when it’s a Japan issue?

Note how there is some vital lack of definition.  What does “coexistence” mean exactly — tolerance, acceptance, gated communities, patchwork cultural neighborhoods, or complete subsumption of “foreign cultures” in favor of “Japanese culture” (douka)?  Nor is the “kankyou seibi” made all that clear.  For example, does this this include a law (with actual penalties for offenders) against racial discrimination?  People won’t leave home without it.

You can see the materials submitted to participants in the first meeting, including several reference materials from each ministry from the following links (this was clearly a meeting planned well in advance; good):

【配付資料】
 資料1-1 「外国人との共生社会」実現検討会議の開催について
 資料1-2 「外国人との共生社会」実現検討会議の開催について(開催要綱)
 資料1-3 当面の検討会議スケジュール(案)
 資料1-4 有識者ヒアリング候補者(案)
 資料2 外国人との共生社会の実現に向けた主な論点、検討課題(例)
 資料3 法務省提出資料
 資料4 厚生労働省提出資料
 資料5 文部科学省提出資料
 資料6 警察庁提出資料
 資料7 内閣府提出資料

Material 1-1 is interesting in that the main goals are listed as:

  1. What form a society coexisting with foreigners will take
  2. What “environmental preparations” (kankyou seibi) will be undertaken to realize this society
  3. How to enliven (kasseika) the national debate (kokumin teki giron) which will also include the acceptance (uke ire) of foreigners
  4. What other topics and issues of special attention (ryuu i ten) will be involved in realizing this coexistence with foreigners

Those goals are elaborated in greater detail within Material 1-1 (more below).  Prima facie, these are all positive directions, especially the national debate bit to get the public on board to convince them that NJ are also a part of society. However, unclear (as always) is the word “uke ire“, which can run the gamut of meanings from “acceptance and embracement” to “just letting them cross the border into Japan” (as in the yahoo dictionary definition example:  “この国は移民の受け入れに年間2,000人の枠を設けている The quota of immigrants to be received [acceptedinto this country is set at 2,000 per year.”)  Given Japan’s record on immigration policy (and the fact that even the word “imin” (immigrant/immigration) doesn’t seem to be appearing anywhere, this word does not conjure as positive an example of acceptance *as Japanese residents and Japanese citizens* as one would like.

Material 1-1 also mentions in that greater detail the two steps that this plan will take:  1) GOJ deliberations on the kankyou seibi, 2) public debate on how to “accept foreigners”.  However, this will take place ONLY AFTER the kankyou seibi are firmly established.  The policy aim also stresses that it policy is not to be expanded to accept more foreigners (uke ire kakudai), but rather it is important first “to improve the many problems of foreigners who are actually living in our country”, listed as issues of lifestyles, education, labor conditions etc..  Kankyou seibi must be done first, however.  Then, however, if I’m not somehow misunderstanding this, it stresses in the next paragraph how our country must increase its attractiveness and appeal as a place that will “draw foreigners in to revitalize our society” (wagakuni shakai ni katsuryoku o motarasu gaikokujin o hikitsukeru).  Somehow I have the feeling I’ve heard this before.  And again, a “smooth public debate” is fine.  But how about seibi-ing that legal environment to outlaw discrimination?  Not clear.

It’s not any clearer when you read the finer print.  Material 2 above lists these as the problems to be addressed already (paraphrases):

  1. Our country needs high-quality people (koudo jinzai) to keep us vibrant in this era of globalization and aging/falling Japanese population, so for that dynamism we need foreigners.  
  2. There have been “social costs” (shakaiteki kosuto) to bringing foreigners into our country before, particularly in regards to lifestyles, education, and labor, so this should not be broadened due to [and I’m seriously translating this bit:] “being opened up as an international society will probably lead to our country’s reputation being downgraded” (kokusai shakai ni okeru hirakareta kuni to shite no hyouka o teika saseru koto ni mo tsunagaru). [Moodys, are you listening?]
  3. We want to attract “better foreigners” (again, koudo jinzai), given what happened with the Nikkei South Americans and NJ residents living here so far, with more systematic policies to bring them in and maintain our country’s reputation.
  4. We need these plans to be medium- and long-term, given the demographics.
  5. We need to keep our people (kokumin) in the debate loop and build consensus for the future about bringing in foreign labor.

Wow, what paroxysms of grief those lackluster NJ entrants up to now have put Japanese society through!  That said, these are the things (page 3) this panel is thinking about regarding how to treat NJ (in other words, its not just what we can take from NJ, but also what we need to give them):

  1. Policies that will make them functional in Japanese (e.g., promotion of J language learning in local areas, with appraisals, encouragement of teachers, and possible requirement (gimu zukeru koto) [for visa renewals?])
  2. Educating their children (e.g., stopping school absenteeism, putting in qualified J language teachers in public schools, assisting NJ children into higher-quality education, promoting education in NJ schools [!!!], promoting J language education for their parents, offering NJ children other educational opportunities, etc.)
  3. How they will be hired and will work (e.g., not merely treating them as cheap labor but improving their working conditions and social insurance, with job training in sectors such as nursing, agriculture etc., through bringing in higher-skilled workers, and even think about a “foreign employment law” (gaikokujin koyouhou) [!!!]  This would not be limited to the Nikkei South American workers [was it implicitly before?])
  4. How they will have medical treatment and social security (e.g., get them on Social Insurance, get their kids covered, and think about to set up an effective translation system)
  5. Stable places for them to live (e.g., offer basic information about how and where to live, and take measures to alleviate the fears of private-sector landlords afraid of NJ)
  6. How to deal with “public safety” problems (e.g., how to police NJ in this age of globalized crime)
  7. How to make information available in several languages (e.g., multilingual internet sites, more information sent overseas [??], one-stop information and assistance centers, multilingual disaster information, multilingual traffic information and driver license tests)
  8. Mutual respect for each others’ culture and promoting understandings (e.g., multicultural education, and thinking about introducing an integrated program for Japanese studies as soon as people enter Japan)
  9. How to work in coordination with local governments and burden-share (e.g., have local governments understand the needs of their local NJ and offer them concrete and customized service)  Etc.

There are further clarifications for each subject from page 4 onwards (listed in parentheses afterwards).  This is some very heady and prescient stuff (I can see why bureaucrats don’t want sweaty-headed public debate meddling until they get the “environment” set up first), and something which if carried out will be a great improvement over the past.  However, unclear again is how some issues (such as apartment refusals) will be enforced through the existing legal/administrative framework, or how the present system will be changed to make jobs more secure and equal in treatment (such as in Japanese academia (which I happen to know a bit about), which advertises that it wants foreign PhDs but then only offers them limited-term contracts, not tenure or an equal collegial footing).  Nice to have this wish list.  Better to say, however, that we need legal structure (hou seibi) to back it up, even at this drawing-board stage.

The MOJ’s brief (Material 3 above) starts out with bare stats of who and how many NJ are here and what they are up to.  But then on page 7 they get into how NJ should be administered (kanri — natch, that’s their job).  But it uses the hackneyed kokusaika (internationalization) of Japan just in terms of numbers without (as usual) indicating an understanding about what true internationalization really means (as in making NJ into Japanese).  Instead, the MOJ focuses (as usual) on how little control they have over NJ once they pass through Japan’s borders, and advocates the quick implementation of policy carrots and sticks — carrots portrayed as keeping tabs on NJ’s social welfare and children’s education (as if that’s within their mandate), and sticks meaning visa overstayers get rooted out ever more efficiently.  We’ve seen this in action in the upcoming end of the Gaijin Cards (in favor of remotely-trackable Zairyuu Cards (mentioned on page 8 ) that link visa approval to enrollment in Japan’s insolvent pension schemes), and it’s pretty plain to see who’s engineered that future fiasco.  If you’re ready for a giggle, check out the smiling “example NJ” on page 9 being subjected to this proposal, complete with white skin and blue eyes (even though most of the NJ these labor policies will attract are probably not White people — because they never have been).  In sum, the MOJ offers nothing new except more policing.

The Health & Welfare Ministry’s brief (Material 4 above) offers the background information on what NJ are up to again, but has on page 2 a special focus (over half the page) on how to care for Nikkei NJ (displaying once again that GOJ focus on offering more assistance “to the family” linked by Japanese blood).  The measures proposed are decent (mentioned in the Material 2 outline above).  For the the garden-variety NJ, however, it’s not clear what’s to be done as discrimination by nationality in working conditions and in introductions to jobs is already “outlawed” (kinshi) (as if that’s made much difference up to now).  But the Ministry points out (page 3) how there’s no clause in the laws guaranteeing equal treatment regardless of nationality in the social insurance system, and wants improvements made regarding how foreigners are employed.  The solution to this Ministry is the upcoming revisions in the registry rules to make everyone accountable under the pension and social welfare systems.  Not much new here — no mention of how to stop J employers screwing their NJ workers out of social insurance by not paying their half of the required contributions, for example.  A newer idea, however, is on page 4, where they outline the policy for attracting higher-quality NJ (again, koudo jinzai), i.e., a “points system” (itself highly problematic) for which came into effect May 7 of this year; the Ministry wants 300,000 “shitsu no takai” foreign students etc. to be handled under “job matching” systems at Hello Work unemployment agencies nationwide.  It also wants GOJ assistance with post-university job searches and internships, and reformed personnel management with clearer hiring practices for international workers.  Okay, decent stuff, but let’s wait and see if any of this comes to fruition.

The Ministry of Education’s brief (Material 5 above) is brief indeed, with a rehash of what they say they concluded in May 2010:  Deliberation of how to institute Japanese language education environments in Grade School and Junior High, and allowing NJ schools in Japan to become educational foundations [!!!].  More details are on page 2, where details of note include an increase of Japanese-language teachers by 350 souls (to a total of 1385 people nationwide) since 2009, making and distributing educational guidebooks, yada yada.  Also notable is the lumped treatment of J “returnee children” (rendered as kikoku/gaikokujin jidousei) as foreigners.  No mention of reforming the Basic Education Law (kyouiku kihon hou) to also guarantee education to non-citizens (given the restrictive kokumin clauses already within it, which still enables Japanese schools to refuse NJ children).  No anti-bullying discussions, either, or possible sensitivity training workshops for teachers if not students.  MoE’s assumptions within its lackluster proposals seem to be that if you make some motions to teach foreigners (and somehow by extension returnee Japanese) the Japanese language, they’ve done their job and all’s resolved nationwide.

The National Police Agency’s brief (Material 6 above) is even briefer, with one page of crime stats (which has dramatically fallen across the board yet they managed to squeeze in a crime rise somehow — i.e., NJ as collaborators with Japanese in Japanese crimes) with fingers pointed at Chinese, Vietnamese, Peruvians, and Brazilians as inter alia thieves and marriage visa defrauders.

They offer no proposals whatsoever.  Why are they even in on this discussion?  (The MoJ is already offering enough policing.)  Do we get the police involved on every social policy reform council, or is it just because we’re dealing with inherently untrustworthy criminal NJ?

The Cabinet’s brief (Material 7 above) offers a full overview of “our own” — with seven pages concentrating solely on Nikkei NJ.  Aside from this more-than-just-a-little offensive blood-fixation prioritizing of foreigners in Japan, we have observations about how these days Nikkei cannot get jobs or get Japanese language skills, their kids cannot get an education, and how they’ve taken emergency policies since January 2009 (as opposed to the GOJ’s emergency airlift of Nikkei — only — back to South America from April 2009?).  The rest of the proposals are basically as above, in what seems to be a summary of everyone’s positions.

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

Future discussions (a total of five meetings, through July, according to Material 1-3 above) will involve a hearing with experts in the field on “the shape of the NJ coexistence society” (Meeting 2, June 1, details below); another meeting with those experts “about taking on the issues ‘in the field’ (genba de) where NJ have their livelihoods” (Meeting 3, June 15, preliminary details below); yet another meeting with those experts about accepting those NJ (regarding “views” (shiten) and “issues warranting special attention” (ryuu i ten) in accordance with realizing that co-existence society) (Meeting 4).  And finally, the last scheduled meeting for now will bring the previous meetings’ discussions together to consider a 25-year tentative plan for realizing those concrete policies for kankyou seibi.

It’s a better-formed plan and timetable for discussing these issues than I’ve ever seen before (and it’s also been opened to public scrutiny).  All good, but here’s your scrutiny:

I still have no idea what kankyou seibi is (neither do they, I think; that’s why they’re getting together to discuss it).  But the inputs are as usual limited to people (presumably no women, no young people, and no working-class people) who will never be directly affected by this policy because they have never been foreigners in Japan.  I’m probably reading too much into the following, but semantically, NJ are seen as almost a different breed of animal that needs to be studied in their natural habitat.  Still no sign of any of those NJ animals being let in on any GOJ meetings to speak for themselves.

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

Meeting Two was held very promptly afterwards, on June 1, 2012, and for what looks to have been a longer time (two hours on paper).  Here’s the cover page (click to enlarge):

Now involved are three “persons of awareness” (yuushikisha), who are a Mr. Ikegami Shigehiro (a full professor from Shizuoka’s University of Art and Culture, who writes a lot about Indonesian culture and migrant Indonesians; even uses the word “emigrants”), a Mr. Iguchi Yasushi (a former bureaucrat at the Ministry of Labor turned full professor at Kansai Gakuin University, whose specialty is the unemployed and labor migration; here’s his CV in English), and a Mr Satou Gun’ei (Vice Dean at Tokyo Gakugei University’s Center for Research in International Awareness, whose specialty is on transnationals and Japanese language education, particularly Japanese children overseas).

Again, these people are no doubt well-intentioned and well-researched about situations facing NJ in Japan.  But they are not NJ, with “NJ awareness”; there is no substitute for that.

You can see their submitted materials here (along with other materials from that meeting) from these links:

【配付資料】
 資料1 池上氏提出資料
 資料2 井口氏提出資料
 資料3 佐藤氏提出資料
 参考資料1 「外国人との共生社会」実現検討会議の開催について(要綱)
 参考資料2 当面の検討会議スケジュール
 参考資料3 有識者ヒアリング参集者
 参考資料4 外国人との共生社会の実現に向けた主な論点、検討課題(例)

Another brief summary of the materials above:

Mr Ikegami (Material 1) offers an overview that goes beyond Nikkei to include Chinese and Filipinas/nos too.  Aside from overviews of the economic forces at work on NJ labor, he saliently proposes (of note): 1) officially defining “multicultural coexistence” (tabunka kyousei), 2) coordinated entry and social integration procedures, 3) regional coordination that includes NJ, etc.  He also endorses an awareness of “transnational livelihoods”, not dividing the issue into “Japanese and foreigners”, etc.  His heart’s in the right place, but proposals are still at the slogan stage.  I assume he elaborated on his points orally.

Mr Iguchi (Material 2) has a five-pager that still resorts to the divisive “wagakuni” (our country) invective, but still endeavors to portray NJ as deserving something more than just a ticket home.  He stresses the issue of “social integration” (shakai tougou).  He writes a bit of fluff here and there that the bureaucrats are probably not interested in (such as the treatment of Burmese refugees), but does overturn a few unconsidered stones:  how the mixed bag of overseas policies towards foreign “cultural identities” have resulted in potential backlashes if they are not respected; how “multicultural coexistence” is not an imported concept in Japan’s case, but one generated from Japan’s grassroots — i.e., from Japan’s local governments, such as when Kawasaki City passed policies in the 1990s benefiting “foreign-national residents”; how important language is for not only communication, but also for securing permanent residency and citizenship [!!]; how NJ rights must be respected and enforced through Hello Work and local governments [!!], etc.  He advocates immediately 1) the GOJ use the July NJ registration reforms as an opportunity to get Hello Work and local governments helping NJ enlisted in employment insurance and social insurance, as well as to promote secure jobs for them, and 2) get employers to properly insure their NJ employees and ensure flexibility towards covering their families.  He advocates that within the next five years NJ get up to speed in Japanese through standardized education, evaluation, and systematic accreditation of J language teachers.  Beyond that, mid-term suggestions include 1) proper technical accreditation for young NJ trained technicians aimed at properly matched markets, 2) periodic lists of vocations in desperate need of workers and training programs for NJ to fill them, 3) exchanges through educational accords with other countries at the university level to bring in foreign researchers and students (as well as beef up language accreditation for imported NJ workers, with targeted language education for them; example cited being the plight thus far of foreign nurses and health care workers).  His final, underlined conclusion was that to restore Japan’s economic vitality, it is essential to bring in NJ (specifically high-quality foreign labor, Nikkei, technical trainees, and refugees [!!] for specific industries, and to accomplish that, concrete policies are necessary to encourage proper administration of NJ as well as encourage social integration at the national, regional, and local levels.  Surely true.  The attitude, however, is still one of “we’re going to wipe the slate clean and start treating foreigners better from when they enter at the border”, not one of making things better for the NJ already here.  Ah well, gotta start somewhere, I suppose.

Mr Satou (Material 3) offered a bullet-point summary, focusing on 1) the present state of NJ children’s education, 2) evolution of the characteristics of educational policies towards NJ children, 3) issues within those education policies, and 4) future issues with a view towards multicultural coexistence.  Quite frankly, it was jolly difficult for me to understand within which was an observation and which was policy advice.  Some points made that don’t overlap Ikegami’s and Iguchi’s, to wit:  1) education of NJ has not developed into talk of reform of the education system to accommodate them, but rather of how individuals will cope with their education, 2) basic principles of guarantees of rights from the perspective of multiculturalism must be made clear before proper “acceptance” (uke ire) can take place, 3) Japanese children should be schooled in tolerance of others as fellow residents (shimin — rendered later as “citizens” (as in shiminsei no kyouiku, “citizenship education”)).  Good stuff and better constructs included, especially the new civics lessons, but in the end, this came off as a laundry-list outline/survey of issues and problems with relatively unclear proposals.

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

Meeting 3, according to Material 1-4 distributed May 24, 2012, says that the June 15 hearing will involve the mayor of Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture (since so many NJ are clustered there working in factories), the unnamed head of Tokyo Shinjuku-ku (where “a lawless zone of foreign crime” Kabukicho is; I assume a bureaucrat?), a Mr Tamura Taro, representative of the Multicultural Center Osaka (which works a lot with Nikkei Brazilian issues), and a Ms Sakamoto Kumiko, head of NPO Aidensha (which works with Portuguese speakers etc. in Mie Prefecture explaining Japan’s rules, helping them get homes and proper insurances, and assisting in translations etc.)

Again, all no doubt well-intentioned people.  A bit top-heavy on the Nikkei Brazilian front, again.  I guess Chinese aren’t prioritized as highly due to a lack of blood ties, and where are the Peruvians, Filippinas/nos, and other NJ?

The remaining materials were essentially repeats of the earlier materials.  Enough; my eyes are tired.  Points I missed or got wrong, please feel free to correct.  Thanks for reading. Arudou Debito

UPDATE JUNE 27, 2012:  MEETING THREE OF JUNE 15, 2012 CRITIQUED HERE:

GOJ Cabinet “Coexistence with NJ” Pt. 2: Critique of June 15, 2012 meeting — a very positive Third Act to this Political Theatre

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. 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 Debito.org for years. This fact has long seeped into the consciousness of people who ACTUALLY live here, as one of the WSJ commenters duly notes:

There is no such residence card for Japanese nationals. Japanese citizens usually use drivers licences, health insurance cards or passports for ID if necessary. They most certainly are not issued with these or similar residency-based cards currently, I am aware of no plans to do so, and there is no compulsory carrying of ID required for Japanese citizens (except to enter an airport). The previous system required non-Japanese to carry a credit card-sized ID card at all times (subject to penalty if not carried) and will still do so. Japanese citizens do not have to carry ID and will still not be required to do so.
Source for comments relating to requirements for resident non-Japanese :
http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/newimmiact/q_a_details1_english.html , especially under Q1-9

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.

http://www.businessinsider.com/watch-this-is-how-easy-it-is-for-thieves-to-steal-everything-in-your-wallet-2012-5

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 Debito.org 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.  Arudou Debito

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

The Wall Street Journal May 7, 2012, 3:57 PM JST
Expats Say Goodbye to Gaijin Card
JAPAN REAL TIME HOME PAGE
By Sarah Berlow Courtesy of TS
http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2012/05/07/expats-say-goodbye-to-gaijin-card/

This summer marks the end of an era for foreigners residing in Japan. Starting July 9, the 60-year-old “certificate of alien registration” — the credit-card sized i.d. informally known as “the gaijin card” — will go the way of yakiimo carts, weekly Astroboy broadcasts, and uniformed men punching train tickets.

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. It’s part of a series of amendments to Japanese immigration law designed to create a simpler system for the government, and a way for foreigners to feel, well, slightly less alien.

One main change: foreign residents and Japanese nationals can sign up with the government under the same resident registration system, rather than filing under separate categories, as currently required. That means foreigners generally can handle more of their bureaucratic needs only with their local municipal office, reducing the need to deal with immigration authorities. The new law is also designed to make life easier for Japanese with non-Japanese spouses. The entire family can be registered in one system, and the foreign spouse can be listed as the head of the family. Under current law, those families have to register under two different systems.

Another significant change: longer stay periods on certain visas. Some specialized workers, like engineers, can stay for up to five years instead of the current three; students can stay for up to four years and three months, up from the current maximum of two years and three months. Re-entry permits are being extended to five years from the current three years.

According to the Immigration Bureau of Japan, the new system will better track “the residency of foreign nationals residing in Japan for the mid-to long-term with resident status, and ensure greater convenience for those foreign nationals.”

The “gaijin card” was first created in 1952, and for many years included the holder’s fingerprint — a requirement that drew complaints from foreign residents who felt they were being treated as criminals. That feature was dropped by 1999.

The changes come as Japan faces a sharp drop in foreign residents, a trend prompted by the long recession, the reduction in financial jobs following the 2008 global financial crisis, and the rising cost of living due to the strong yen. Last year’s quake, tsunami, and nuclear accident didn’t do much to encourage foreigners to stay.

At the end of 2011, the number of registered foreigners in Japan had dropped by about 56,000 from 2010 to 2,078,480, the third consecutive decline, according to Japan’s Ministry of Justice.

The number of foreigners who entered Japan 2011 was 7.1 million down 24.4% from 2010. These new changes come as the government attempts to increase this number, to an “era of 25 million foreign visitors to Japan” by 2020, a goal established in 2011.

Read this post in Japanese/日本語訳はこちら≫

WSJ 2012/5/8 14:56
外国人登録制度、7月9日に廃止へ 60年の歴史に幕
http://jp.wsj.com/japanrealtime/blog/archives/11055/

今夏、日本に居住する外国人にとって1つの時代が終了する。過去60年間在留外国人の身分証明書として使用されてきた「外国人登録証明書」が7月9日に廃止される。

これまでの外国人登録証明書に代わり、今後、入管法上の在留資格をもって日本に中長期間在留する外国人である中期在留者には「在留カード」が交付されることになる。日本国民に交付されるのと同じようなカードだが、所有者の国籍を示していることが異なる。政府にとってより単純な制度の創設と在留外国人に対するある種の配慮を目指す一連の入管法改正の一部。

大きな違いは、外国人居住者と日本国民が、現行で義務付けられた異なるカテゴリーではなく、同様の住民基本台帳制度の下で登録できるようになる。これにより、外国人居住者には一般的に、市区町村でできる手続きの範囲が拡大し、入国管理局とのやり取りが減少することになる。また、新しい在留管理制度の導入により、外国人と結婚している日本人にとっても利便性が高まる見込みだ。家族全員が1つの制度の下での手続きが可能になる上、外国人の配偶者も世帯主となり得る。現行法の下では、こうした家族は2つの異なる制度の下で登録する必要がある。

もう1つの著しい変更は、特定の査証に対する在留期間の延長だ。例えば、エンジニアといった一部の特別技能労働者は現行の3年から5年に、また学生は現行の2年3カ月から4年3カ月に在留期間が延長される。さらに、再入国許可についても、有効期間が現行の3年から5年に延ばされる。

法務省入国管理局は、新しい在留管理制度の導入により、「在留状況をこれまで以上に正確に把握できるようになる」とともに、「適法に在留する外国人の方々に対する利便性を向上する措置も可能になる」と説明している。

中長期在留者が所持する外国人登録証明書は1952年に導入され、長年にわたり、指紋押捺制度を伴うものだった。指紋押捺は1999年までに廃止された。

長期に及ぶリセッション(景気後退)や2008年の世界金融危機に伴う金融関連職の減少、円高による生活費の上昇などを背景に、日本の外国人居住者数は大幅減少に直面している。また、昨年の東日本大震災とそれに伴う福島第1原発事故の影響も考えられる。

法務省によると、2011年末時点での在留資格別外国人登録者総数は前年から約5万6000人減少し、207万8480人となった。減少は3年連続。

11年の訪日外国人数は710万人と、前年比24.4%減少した。一方、政府は訪日外国人を2020年までに2500万人に増加させるという目標を掲げている。

記者:Sarah Berlow
ENDS

Mainichi: NJ held by immigration sharply down after reviewing rules

mytest

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Hi Blog. Speaking of incarceration of NJ under unreviewed circumstances (start here), here is what happens when the GOJ suddenly starts, as encouraged by the United Nations and even domestic think tanks such as JIPI, to actually REVIEW its own rules:  They discover that not as many NJ need to be incarcerated.  Quite a few of not as many.  Very high percentages, even.

Well, how about that.  Glad this happened, and got some press too.  May it happen more often, so that the NPA and Immigration realize that there are some boundaries to their power of interrogation and incarceration, even if (and especially if) the incarcerated happen to be NJ (who are even, according to here as well as the article below, committing suicide rather than take any more of this inhumane treatment).  Arudou Debito

///////////////////////////////////////
Foreigners held by immigration sharply down after reviewing rules
(Mainichi Japan) February 4, 2012, courtesy of JK
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20120204p2g00m0dm013000c.html

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The number of foreign nationals detained one year or longer by Japanese immigration officials dropped significantly after a review of procedural rules for a more flexible approach in response to criticisms about the treatment of long-term detainees, data for last year showed.

As of August 2011, a total of 167 foreign nationals were held for at least six months at immigration facilities in Ibaraki, Osaka and Nagasaki prefectures, according to the Justice Ministry.

Many of them are believed to have overstayed their visas and were waiting to be deported to their native countries or undergoing procedures to seek asylum in Japan.

Those who were held for at least one year totaled 47, down sharply from 115 at the end of 2009. The Justice Ministry said it has been actively releasing those who are subject to deportation but it sees no need for holding in custody since July 2010.

The Japanese government came under fire for its long-term detentions in 2007 by the United Nations, which recommended that detention periods should be limited.

A large number of detainees staged hunger strikes as well, as a string of suicides ensued apparently over their dissatisfaction with how they were treated while in detention.

Support groups and lawyers’ associations have repeatedly called on the government to make improvements on the treatment of detainees.

Faced with claims that it was taking too long to conduct asylum reviews, the Justice Ministry has since adopted a policy to process them within six months in principle.

As a result, the number of cases without any decision to grant asylum after six months dropped to 35 as of March 31, 2011, a whopping drop from 612 at the end of June 2010.

Immigration officials also took an average 12.6 months to review asylum cases between July and September 2010 and 14.4 months between October and December 2010.

The periods were curtailed to 4.7 months and 5.2 months in the same periods the following year.

(Mainichi Japan) February 4, 2012
ends

Shock/Horror on Japanese TV show, where Japanese under new Arizona laws could be treated as foreigners, with ID checks! Kibishii!?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  In line with the current theme of the GOJ targeting NJ, here’s some idea of just how ignorant Japanese are of what happens to foreigners in Japan, e.g., Gaijin Card Checks.  Submitted as a comment in November 2010 by Marius, it deserves resurrecting as a separate blog entry today:

This is an excerpt of a variety show called “Manaberu News” (date unknown, sometime in 2010) discussing new laws to catch illegal aliens in Arizona (permanent carrying of ID and criminal penalties if caught not doing so) signed into law in April 2010, which critics have argued increases the probability of racial profiling and wanton detention of suspects.

The show mentions the requirement for foreigners in Arizona to carry ID 24/7, and how they could be arrested for not doing so.  We get gasps all around at how “kibishii” this is.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xffp4d_arizona-omg_webcam


arizona omg by percyjpnprb

COMMENT:  I find this amusing, less because the ditzy Japanese panelists don’t seem to realize that once outside of Japan THEY become foreigners, more because nobody there seems to realize (or, for the purposes of balance in this admittedly short segment, have it pointed out) that this practice of random search with criminal penalties is already standard procedure in Japan.  NJ have been profiled this way for at least two generations now, regardless of whether or not they’re tourists!

No shock/horror here except for the ignorance.  Most people I’ve ever talked to in Japan (save for bureaucrats and employers of NJ) even know that there’s a Gaijin Card system in existence for tracking and targeting foreigners, not to mention a separate regime for registering (or not registering, as in Juuminhyou) them.

Lack of public awareness of this issue is part of the problem, and it enables the Japanese police, as we have seen on Debito.org, to feel like they can take liberties with their law enforcement as soon as a foreigner is involved.  “Do unto others…” should also entail that regular Japanese folk consider what might happen to them if THEY were foreigners (but as this show demonstrates, for many that is simply pin to konai).  Arudou Debito

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

mytest

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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.

Mainichi: Transport ministry mulling random body search of 10% of all airport passengers at Narita etc. Random? Not likely.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Relating to the current Debito.org topics of racial profiling, searches, horrendous detentions, and even killings of NJ in Japanese airports, here is a harbinger of future policy:  More of the same.  In fact, according to the Mainichi, a “strengthened” more of the same — affecting 10% of all air passengers.  All in the name of anti-terrorism.  Sounds jolly.  It’s still in the “mulling” stage (but it’s at the bureaucratic level, so no doubt it’ll be smoothly rubber-stamped into law by politicians loath to “touch the controls” when the “safety of wagakuni, the kokutai and kokumin” (i.e., not foreigners) is at stake.

Proponents claim these searches will be “random”.  Yeah, sure.  Just like they have been so far.  After all, GOJ official policy has long been that foreigners are more likely to be terrorists.  So, find the foreigner, and Bob’s your uncle, yuppers; it’s a short cut.  Narita Airport, a pretty crappy and inconvenient airport to begin with, sounds like it’s becoming a real funhouse.  Shall we try Haneda, Chubu, or KIX, anyone?  Arudou Debito

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Transport ministry mulling random body search of airport passengers
(Mainichi Japan) December 25, 2011, courtesy JK
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20111225p2g00m0dm061000c.html

CHIBA (Kyodo) — The transport ministry is considering strengthening antiterrorism measures at international airports in Japan from as early as April by conducting body searches on randomly selected passengers, airport sources said Sunday.

Departing passengers who do not pass screening at walk-through metal detectors are currently asked to go through a body search. With the new inspection procedure, about 10 percent of passengers will be randomly selected for a body search and baggage check, the sources said.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism expects the reinforced inspection procedures to act as a deterrent to terrorism, including acts involving explosives and weapons which metal detectors do not pick up, they said.

The new airport security practice is expected to be introduced at Narita airport and some other international airports, the sources said.

The ministry and airlines are discussing whether the longer time needed for the security inspection would cause significant delays in plane boarding.

ENDS

Chris Johnson on his 2011 experiences in the “Narita Airport Gaijin Gulag”, a complement to Amnesty’s 2002 expose (Amended)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Last blog entry I talked about Amnesty International’s 2002 report on horrendous treatment and conditions of NJ detainees in Narita Airport. As a complement, here is Chris Johnson, photojournalist at venues such as CNNGo and The Japan Times, offering his unexpurgated experiences there last December.  Despite having a valid visa, he was denied entry, he believes, due to his critical press coverage of TEPCO and government responses to the Fukushima disasters.  He spent 30 hours in the Narita Airport “Gaijin Tank” (which he calls a gulag) before being forced to buy an overpriced one-way ticket and deported, and it changed his views dramatically on Japan’s legal and policing system.

Excerpt follows.  Full report at http://globalite.posterous.com/inside-the-gaijin-tank-dungeon-at-narita-airp-91122

This issue deserves more attention.  Extralegality may be the norm in Customs and Immigration Zones around the world, but extreme treatment is exactly what happens when policing is unfettered and unmonitored.  It is, to put it mildly, unbefitting a society such as Japan’s, with official pretensions towards respecting the rule of law. Especially when you read about Chris’s experience with the private security goons, who seem to have gone beyond any plausible mitigation (“just following orders”) by Milgram.  Were these the people who killed Abubakar Awadu Suraj in 2010 while deporting him, and to this day have not been charged with any crime?  Arudou Debito

NB:  What follows is an updated version of Chris’s report as of January 18, 2011, amending allegations about a private security company called G4S.  Read on for disclaimers:

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Inside the Gaijin Tank dungeon at Narita Airport in Japan

By Christopher Johnson, freelance photojournalist at CNNGo, The Japan Times, etc.

Globalite Magazine

News, photos and fiction from around the world

Version updated January 18, 2012

Full article at http://globalite.posterous.com/inside-the-gaijin-tank-dungeon-at-narita-airp-91122

Detained for 30 hours and expelled from Japan, a veteran Tokyo-based journalist gets a harrowing glimpse into the trap door at Narita Airport leading into a secretive gulag of rights abuses against thousands of foreign visitors and expats, often by guards hired by airlines 

(((This is a revised, tightened version of an earlier post. It includes a correction based on a comment from a spokesman for g4s, one of the world’s largest companies, which supplies security guards to more than 60 airports. A spokesman says g4s staff are NOT working at Narita. It is not clear who employs the guards accused of mistreating foreigners at Narita.

It includes information about other Westerners wrongfully jailed and expelled from Japan. Also includes comments via Japan Times from former immigration chief, one of the most important critics of detention policy. As previously noted, it is a raw work in progress, unedited, unpolished. Please send comments, anecdotes and info for inclusion in this story.)))

—-When you line up to get your passport stamped at Narita international airport outside Tokyo, look to your right toward a set of “special examination rooms.” That is where the trap door into Japan’s secretive gulag begins.

Most travellers, who regard Japan as a safe country of civilized people, have no idea that thousands of foreign arrivals — just like them — have fallen down that trap door into windowless dungeons in the bowels of the airport. From there, foreigners of all nationalities — seeking a pleasant vacation or a better life in Japan — have vanished into a horrific network of “detention centres” imprisoning thousands of innocent foreigners in appalling conditions.

Most red-eyed foreign arrivals also don’t realize that the immigration officers taking their fingerprints and scanning their passports are working with xenophobic colleagues who have deported on average about 20,000 foreigners every year since 2005, and who have been on trial for themurder of a longtime foreign resident of Japan last year at Narita.

They also don’t realize that airlines, according to the Immigration Bureau, are technically responsible for providing nightmarish dungeons and hiring “security guards” accused of human rights abuses — everything from extortion to theft, torture and denial of rights to call embassies, lawyers or family.

Instead of taking a public stand against the flagrant abuse of their valued customers over the last 15 years, airlines at Narita — knowingly or not — have been reaping windfalls from thousands of expelled passengers forced to purchase one-way tickets at exorbitant prices. Airline officials have not yet replied to requests over the past week for comments on the matter. 

Whether you are a fresh-minded explorer or a jaded expat fluent in the language and culture, the numbers are shocking, and an embarrassing revelation into the darkest side of Japan, a country that prides itself on safety and rule of law.

Amnesty International’s annual report for 2011 says Japan accepted 30 refugees out of about 1000 applicants this past year. It’s not clear what happened to the other 970 or so applicants. Many of them could still be incarcerated.

According to the Immigration Bureau, Japan deports on average 20,000 foreigners every year, including  33,000 in 2005, and another 18,578 in 2010. In other words, Japan kicked out about one-fifth the number of people — 91,778 — who were, as of January 2010, “overstaying their visas”. In reality, “overstaying” means they were dedicating their lives to working for Japanese bosses or employing Japanese in their own businesses, in a country that desperately needs entrepreneurs and job creators. These people, who would normally become immigrants or refugees in other countries, often become prisoners and suicide cases in Japan. All of these people were customers of airlines at Narita. 

That 2010 number — 18,578 individuals with names and families, often in Japan — is enough to fill about 100 jets flying out of Japan during the mass foreign exodus from aftershocks and radiation fears in March.

That number — 18,578 — is similar to the official death toll from the March 11 tsunami, which triggered a wave of international sympathy for the plight of Japan.

Yet other than Amnesty, the UNHCR and some courageous NGOs, few foreign organizations or celebrities have done anything about a system of abuses that ultimately damages Japan’s relations with its key trading partners, causes more than 100,000 people to bear grudges against Japan, andstains the image and balance sheets of airlines who have lost thousands of expelled foreigners as customers. 

Many immigration officers are aware of these issues, and some are trying to reform from within. One of the bureau’s main critics is their former chief, Hidenori Sakanaka. “One year of confinement is mentally tough,” Hidenori Sakanaka, who headed the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau from April 2002 to March 2005, told the Japan Times in July, 2010. The JT noted reports of suicides by a Brazilian and South Korean earlier that year, and hunger strikes at detention centers. “The Immigration Bureau must stop suicides and hunger strikes.”

He said detention centers and the Immigration Bureau must go public about the suicides and treatment of detainees, and also explain how a Ghanaian man, who had been working in Japan for 22 years, died in the custody of immigration officers at Narita airport in March 2010. “The incidents give the Immigration Bureau a chance to improve itself.”

Sakanaka has also authored a book asking readers whether they want “a Bigger Japan” teeming with immigrants, or a “Smaller Japan” with few foreign faces.

Japan’s Immigration Bureau declares on its website (http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/) that it’s motto is “internationalization in compliance with the rules.” It says the bureau makes “contributions to sound development of Japanese society” by “making efforts for smoother cross-border human mobility” and “deporting undesirable aliens”.

The problem, activists say, is their view of who is “undesirable.” In fact, few of the 18,578 deportees in 2010 were hardcore criminals threatening Japanese society. The Japanese media stereotype of them as being poor, dirty, uneducated miscreants is completely wrong. Many deportees have Japanese wives, children, friends and pets. Many are fluent in Japanese, with college degrees and successful careers.

“Jim” is a white male college professor from the United States, who began teaching in Japan about 30 years ago. I first met him in the airport’s “special examination room”. He was wearing a suit and tie like other middle-aged businessmen. He had just walked off a United Airlines flight from America. He wanted to spend Christmas with his 20-year old son, now living with his ex-wife in the Tokyo area. “I got a really cheap ticket, and decided to go for it to see my son,” he says. “The airline let me on, so there shouldn’t have been a problem.”

Jim would spend Christmas in the dank, windowless dungeon, where for 72 hours he was a victim of extortion, theft, strip-searching, abuse, denial of rights and expulsion from Japan at a rip-off price. (I would later discover that he had given speeches supporting anti-nuke protesters in Japan.)

((But even Jim was fortunate compared with Danny Bloom, an American journalist who, after working for five years at the Daily Yomiuri, says he was arrested on charges of overstaying his visa, held in solitary confinement for 41 days in 1995, and deported from Japan. He says he had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which affects an estimated 30 million Americans, due to a plane crash in Alaska, and couldn’t fly to Seoul to obtain a work permit. Now exiled in Taiwan, he says he can never return to “the police state” of Japan, even though he still loves Japanese people.)) 

((Other educated white males from the US, Canada, the UK and Australia, who have contacted me since this story first appeared, say privately that they were also victims of wrongful deportation and similar abuses.))

 

x–x—x—x—x—x—x–x–x—x–x–x—x–x–x

 

WHO IS WATCHING THE GUARDS?

 

Jim’s ordeal, and my own experience during a 30-hour detention at Narita and expulsion on Christmas Eve from Japan, confirms Amnesty’s reports dating back to the year 2000, when they first discovered a secret gulag housing thousands of foreigners.

As other victims have told Amnesty, it’s a scam, and a money-maker for the airlines and security guards. At Narita, they have arbitrary powers, and they use them. They can decide “Entry Denied”, and then find a rule or excuse to justify it. They don’t have to explain their reasons, and the appeal process is a sham.

Since there aren’t many reports of these abuses at Haneda and other airports in Japan, victims suspect there is a criminal syndicate operating at Narita since at least 1996. One guy marks a paper “Entry Denied.” He hands you off to a guy who shakes you down for 30,000 yen, who then hands you off to another guy who takes away your rights in the dungeon, who then hands you off to another guy who forces you to buy a rip-off plane ticket. If Amnesty is correct in estimating 7 cases per day on average, this syndicate could earn 200,000 yen per day in extortion fees, and 300,000 to perhaps a million yen per day on marked up airline tickets. Where does the money go? Who can stop them from doing this?

My own experience is consistent with several previous cases cited by Amnesty, and at least five other victims who have emailed me their stories. In my case, Asiana Airlines staff at the check-in counter in Seoul saw that I had a proper visa for Japan, and let me board a flight to Tokyo. The immigration officer at Narita, however, didn’t even look through my Canadian passport, where he would have found proper stamps, working visas, and multiple re-entry permits dating back years. While taking my fingerprints, he saw my name pop up on a list on his computer. (I have strong reason to believe that I have been blacklisted due to my critical coverage of TEPCO, Japan Tobacco, Olympus, JAL, the yakuza, fascists, and state neglect of tsunami survivors and nuclear refugees.) He marked a paper and gave my passport to another officer.

After leading me to the “special examinations room”, hostile immigration officials at Narita falsified my statements, disregarded my proof, confiscated my passport and belongings, and arbitrarily denied me permission to enter Japan, where I have built up a career as a journalist covering Asia since 1987.  They gave no sensible explanation for their decision. An officer simply wrote “no proof, entry denied” on a document, and asked me to sign it. I refused.

I was shocked that they could do that. But I shouldn’t have been. Thousands of foreigners arriving at Narita have been victimized by brutal thugs and racists — some of whom are not ethnically Japanese. According to Amnesty, airlines at Narita hire “security guards” to “escort” their passengers to the “detention facilities” — which are de facto maximum security jails. These guards also deny basic human rights, such as phone calls to lawyers, embassies or UNHCR. These guards harass, beat, or torture airline customers into paying “service fees”. In Jim’s case, they abused him until he finally coughed up 30,000 yen, about 400 US. They demanded the same from me, and also took money from my wallet. Gear was also stolen from my baggage.

Then, after passengers have been deported or denied landing rights, they are forced to acquire an overpriced one-way ticket. Since nobody can stop them from stealing or confiscating your possessions, the guards can use your credit cards or cash to buy tickets against your will. Since nobody is overseeing their extra-legal actions, it’s possible that the guards are taking kickbacks from airline staff selling the outrageously priced tickets.

In my case, employees at the airport said that I would have to pay as much as 400,000 yen ($5000) for a one-way ticket from Tokyo to Vancouver and Calgary. With a one-way ticket “purchased” against my will, they forced me onto a flight to Canada without much winter clothing for minus 40 temperatures in Alberta. They even called my longtime Japanese partner in Tokyo and threatened her, saying that if she didn’t pay for the ticket, her partner would face lengthy jail time.

 

After nearly 25 years of life in Asia, I arrived in Canada with 3-days clothing, far away from my house in Tokyo.

 

(((Who are these guards? Who is employing them? In my delirium during detention, I originally thought I saw “gas” written on their uniforms and van. After a rough draft of this story first appeared, several people wrote to say the guards are working for g4s, a UK-based company founded more than 100 years ago. A spokesman for g4s says this is not true. 

 

Adam Mynott, director of media relations at g4s, has kindly requested a correction of this. After being contacted by a reporter with The Economist, Mr. Mynott told me in an email that g4s “does not have any security business whatsoever at Narita Airport, nor are there any g4s affiliated Japanese companies working as security guards at the airport.”

 

I also have found no proof that g4s is operating at Narita. 

 

This raises key questions: who are the guards escorting detainees at Narita? What company are they working for? Why is “gas” written on the side of their van? Since “gAs” and “g4s” look quite similar, is that company “pirating” the logo of g4s, a respected international company? Or is it simply a coincidence?

 

A security company working behind the scenes in Japan might have good reason for wanting to somehow draw upon the global success of g4s. 

 

According to links sent by readers after this story first appeared, g4s is indeed one of the world’s largest companies, with more than 600,000 employees in 125 countries. They reportedly supply security guards to more than 60 airports including Heathrow, Oslo and Vancouver, US military bases in South Korea, Immigration Removal Centers in the UK and detention centres in Australia, a state prison in Birmingham, England, the 2012 London Olympics, US nuclear power plants, oil tankers facing pirate attacks off Somalia, and Japanese embassies around the world. (Note the photo of an armed woman guarding a nuclear reactor: http://careers.g4s.com/2010/11/g4s-nuclear-security-services-corporation-nssc/

 

It’s not clear where g4s operates in Japan. In South Korea, the US military on December 15 (only a week before I returned from Seoul), accused g4s of violating a contract to guard their bases there, according to Stars and Stripes. Former guards have refused to work for the new company for longer hours and lower wages.  These guards have protested outside U.S. Army bases, including Yongsan Garrison, Camp Red Cloud, Camp Casey, Camp Humphreys, Camp Henry and Camp Carroll. (http://www.stripes.com/news/gis-still-manning-gates-in-s-korea-as-contractor-struggles-to-fill-slots-1.163646)

 

A company press release said they won a $400 million contract to screen passengers and baggage at 20 airports in Canada, beginning November 1, 2011. When I passed through airports in Vancouver and Calgary on December 24, I found the security staff to be exceptionally friendly and professional. 

 

The company’s official website (www.g4s.com.) says they help ensure “the safety and welfare” of millions of people worldwide. “We secure airports and embassies, protect cash and valuables for banks and retailers across the globe, safeguard some of the most exciting events in the global sporting and entertainment calendar, and are a trusted partner to governments worldwide,keeping personnel and some of the world’s most important buildings safe and secure. What we do touches people’s lives in nearly every area you can imagine.”

 

((http://www.g4s.com) (info@jp-g4s.com, +81-42-519-9303) US media contact: Fiona Walters, Chief Communications Officer,+1 561 691 6459)

 

(As of January 17, it remains unclear who hired the guards accused of extortion and abuses at Narita since at least 1996. It’s also unclear if the guards, speaking foreign languages during my detention, were Gurkhas from Nepal or nationals of other countries.) 

 

The immigration bureau’s own documents confirm that airlines are responsible for hiring the security guards at Narita. “Concerning your expenses for being in Japan (meal, lodging, guard etc.) till your departure, the Immigration Bureau cannot take any responsibility,” said an officially stamped notice of the Ministry of Justice Tokyo Immigration Bureau, given to me a few hours before my expulsion. “This is a matter between you and your carrier (airline company).”

Many airlines gained respect for flying passengers for free or reduced prices out of danger zones after the 2004 tsunami and 2011 nuclear disaster. ANA and JAL, which use Narita as a hub for their global operations, are among the most respected airlines in the world, and they are highly-regarded for their service and safety. Yet credit card and airline employees have stated that they would not normally reimburse payments in such cases, since their passengers had technically“authorized” purchase by signing forms. As one victim of this scam has noted, it’s the moral equivalent of an armed bank robber getting off because the victimized bank teller, fearing for her life, “signed” the withdrawal slip.

ENDS

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

UPDATE JANUARY 20, 2012 FROM DEBITO

In related news regarding violence/homicide by private security companies towards their detainees, Private Eye (UK) Issue 1291 24 June – July 7, 2011 reported the following:

=======================
PRIVATE SECURITY
G4S locks up the captive market

Scan of the article at
http://www.claresambrook.com/campaign-page/Images-campaign-page/Private-Eye-(21-June-Issue-1291).jpg

CONGRATULATIONS to G4S, the gigantic “Securing Your World” security company that has made sales of GBP 4.2 billion to the Ministry of Justice [UK] alone. Justice secretary Ken Clarke, in reply to a parliamentary question, listed ten contracts with G4S, including running prisons, escorting prisoners and tagging offenders.

This is in addition to its GBP 42 million in Foreign Office security deals (GBP million in Afghanistan alone) — although these are believed to represent the mere tip of an iceberg, because the FO said details of its numerous contracts around world “are not kept centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost”.

Then there is the company’s Welfare to Work bonanza, which, as chief executive David Taylor-Smith told financial analysts last month, “when clocked in next year will be GBP 130 million”, not to mention to the “very strong pipeline”that he boasted was heading G4S’s way from the Department of Health.

Evidently profiting from the public sector carve-up, G4S is the ideal lucrative refuge for former well-connected government ministers such as John Reid, former home secretary and minister of health, defence and transport. Reid, now a peer, went on the G4S payroll in 2008 when he was a backbench MP and is now a G4S non-executive director.

Amid all this good news, only a party pooper would point out that G4S may face corporate manslaughter charges over the death last year of deportee Jimmy Mubenga, after use of “restraint” at Heathrow; or that the company is awaiting sentence in Australia in the case of an Aboriginal elder who was cooked to death (dying of heatstroke and suffer third-degree burns) as he was transported across the outback in the back of a badly maintained G4S van with no air conditioning, little water, and no way of alerting drivers in the front to his dreadful plight. The company has pleaded guilty to charges of failing to ensure the man’s health and wellbeing.

But then, with a maximum penalty of a mere AU$ 400,000 (GBP 260,000), it won’t eat into the profits too much.

——-

Last week it emerged that G4S received 773 complaints last year from removal centre detainees — an increase of 240 on the previous year.
=======================

ENDS

COMMENT: Sorry to bring in an unrelated American political “talking point”, but if “corporations are people”, it seems that unlike people, corporations really CAN get away with murder. And even if G4S was uninvolved in the Narita Airport events discussed on Debito.org, the rot and unaccountability of the thuggish private security firms managing the post 9-11 bonanza seems to be systemwide. This must be known about and done away with.

Amnesty International 2002 report on human rights abuses, including extortion and physical abuse, at the Narita Airport “Gaijin Tank” detention center

mytest

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Hi Blog. What follow are some shocking allegations of ill-treatment of NJ at Narita Airport, and this time I’m not referring to the routine racial profiling done by Narita police in the airport after you’ve entered Japan. I’m talking about what happens to NJ in that extralegal zone known as Customs and Immigration, where people are neither in their own country nor under Japanese constitutional protections (since they officially have not entered Japan yet). Below, according to Amnesty International, we have allegations of renditioning to non-MOJ private policing forces, denial of basic human comforts, physical abuse, extortion, etc., all done without proper oversight or accountability. Sadly, this AI report is now ten years old and underreported; I was alerted to this situation by a journalist who underwent this procedure (including the extortion) over the past year. It’s not merely a matter of turning somebody away at the border — it is in my view a matter of prison screws extracting a perverse satisfaction (as will happen, cf. Zimbardo experiment) by lording it over foreigners, because nobody will stop them.

And that’s Narita. I wonder how the situation is at Japan’s other international ports of entry. Sickening.  Arudou Debito

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

DOCUMENT – JAPAN: WELCOME TO JAPAN?

Entire report at http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA22/002/2002/en/58b534dc-d840-11dd-9df8-936c90684588/asa220022002en.html

The Landing Prevention Facility (Jouriku Boushi Shisetsuor LPF hereafter) was first drawn to Amnesty International’s attention in June 2000 when two Tunisian male tourists were reportedly beaten by staff belonging to a private security agency X (not real name of the security agency) in Narita Airport. During their five day detention at the LPF, the two men were denied access to medical facilities despite suffering injuries from the beatings, and only allowed to contact the police after three days in detention. They were denied the opportunity to contact the Tunisian embassy in Tokyo during their detention.

The two men , Thameur Hichem (20) and Thameur Mouez (22) had arrived on 20 June 2000 by Turkish Airlines, but were denied entry by Japanese immigration authorities at Second Terminal Building of Narita Airport despite possessing adequate travel documents.

The Immigration authorities handed the two Tunisian men to the custody of security personnel belonging to private security agency X contracted by Turkish Airlines. The security agency asked the two Tunisians to pay US$240 each as security charges. They refused to pay, which resulted in the security personnel forcing them to pay by use of physical force and verbal abuse. Thameur Hichem and Thameur Mouez were taken to the parking lot of Terminal 1 of Narita Airport by three guards who were staff of Security Company X. One of them hit and kicked Thameur Hichem on his left leg and then hit his head several times against the wall. Another staff member forced his shoulders to the floor and took US$300 from his pocket. Thameur Mouez was taken separately and was subjected to beatings until he paid US$300 to staff of Security Company X. Thameur Hichem and Thameur Mouez were detained for five days in a small windowless room until they were deported on 25 June 2000. They were not allowed access to a medical doctor despite their repeated requests. The reason given to them by Security Agency X was that their injuries were not serious enough. They were only allowed to contact their parents by phone after two days into their detention on 22 June 2000. They were also not allowed access to the police. The allegations against staff belonging to Security Company X were not adequately investigated.

Introduction

Foreign nationals entering Japan may be at risk of ill-treatment by immigration authorities during interrogations at Special Examination Rooms and by private security guards in detention facilities located at Japanese ports of entry, including Narita Airport.

During the period after denial of entry into Japan and before they were issued ”orders to leave” or issued deportation orders, foreign nationals have allegedly been detained in detention facilities located within the airport premises known as Landing Prevention Facilities (LPFs) or at an ”Airport Rest House” outside the airport site. Amnesty International has found evidence of ill-treatment of detainees at LPFs. It forms part of a pattern of arbitrary denial of entry to foreign nationals and systematic detention of those denied entry – a process which falls short of international standards. Amnesty International has received reports of detained foreign nationals being forced to pay for their ”room and board” and for being guarded by private security agencies that operate the LPFs. Foreign nationals have allegedly been strip-searched, beaten or denied food by security guards at these facilities if they have been unwilling to pay. The LPFs have detention cells that have no windows and there have been reports of foreign nationals being detained in these cells for several weeks without sunlight(1)and not being allowed to exercise.

Asylum-seekers have also had their requests for asylum rejected with no or inadequate consideration of the serious risk to their lives they face on deportation. These asylum seekers have been denied access to a fair and satisfactory asylum procedure; they are frequently not allowed access to interpreters and lawyers. Furthermore, they are forced to sign documents in languages they do not understand and of the content of which they have not been adequately informed. These documents may include a document signed by the deportee waiving his or her rights to appeal against decisions made by the immigration officials such as denial of entry into Japan. Amnesty International believes that the lack of access to independent inspections and the secrecy that surround LPFs and other centres of detention in Japan make them fertile ground for human rights abuses. Detained foreign nationals in the LPFs or immigration detention centres are not informed adequately about their rights.In particular, they do not always have prompt access to a lawyer or advice in a language they understand. The Japanese government should recognize the rights of people in detention to information, legal counsel, access to the outside world and adequate medical treatment. Those who had sought to contact United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have had their request turned down. In many cases, detainees at LPFs have been refused medical treatment by staff of security companies and by immigration officials. Decisions and actions of immigration officials and staff of security companies reveal a widespread lack of awareness of international human rights standards.

This report highlights Amnesty International’s concerns at the procedure adopted by immigration authorities and the abuses within the LPFs. It documents examples of discrimination that have underlined the arbitrary denial of entry to Japan. The report details cases where foreign nationals, including asylum-seekers, have been denied entry to Japan and have been detained in detention facilities like the LPF and have been threatened with deportation. The report also highlights cases of ill-treatment suffered by foreign nationals in detention at the LPF in recent years. These incidents suggest that, in practice, Japan has failed to respect its obligations under international human rights standards.

Concerns about procedures adopted by immigration authorities and the abuses within Landing Prevention Facilities: falling short of international standards

Amnesty International is concerned

  1. about reported ill-treatment in the course of interrogations and the process of deportation or exclusion of foreign nationals who are denied entry to Japan and are detained at the LPF or at an ‘Airport Rest House’ outside the airport. Ill-treatment is alleged to have taken place during different stages of interrogations conducted by immigration authorities. Such treatment is alleged to have taken place during interrogations shortly after foreign nationals have landed in Narita airport and where the decision to deny entry to the foreign national is made. Additionally, ill-treatment has been alleged during interrogations held by immigration officials during subsequent detention of foreign nationals in the LPFs. These interrogations are allegedly held to force foreign nationals to sign documents waiving their rights to appeal against decisions by immigration authorities.(2) Ill-treatment of those in detention constitutes a violation of Articles 7 and 10 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)(3) which Japan ratified in June 1979. The failure of the Japanese government to initiate a prompt and impartial investigation into these allegations constitutes a violation of Article 12 of the Convention against Torture(4) which Japan acceded in June 1999. The ICCPR also carries with it a duty on states to ensure that complaints about torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment must be investigated promptly and impartially by competent authorities;(5)
  2. that there have been incidents where the immigration authorities have failed to provide adequate translation facilities while questioning foreign nationals in Special Examination Rooms at Narita Airport to determine their status. This failure to provide adequate interpretation facilities constitutes the non-observance of Principle 14 of the 1988 Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment (Body of Principles)(6);
  3. that some detainees at the LPF have been held incommunicado. They have often been denied access to their families in violation of Principles 16 (1)(7) and 19(8) of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment; they have also reportedly not been allowed to communicate with their consular or diplomatic missions in Japan or to contact representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in contravention of Principle 16 (2) of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment(9) and international standards for refugee determination. Detainees have also not been allowed to communicate with independent legal advisors in violation of Principle 17 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment;(10)
  4. that detainees were only informed verbally by immigration officials at entry ports in Japan including Narita Airport about the refugee status determination process and that information on the procedure in Narita Airport was not available freely. Immigration officials informed an Amnesty International delegation in December 2000 that they only kept pamphlets containing information on the refugee status determination procedure in Japanese at Narita airport. It appears that detainees are not given any written information on the asylum procedure in Japan in a language that they can understand. The failure to provide adequate information about the rights of detainees in a language that they can understand constitutes non-observation of Principles 13(11) and 14 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment;
  5. that many asylum-seekers are denied access to fair and satisfactory asylum procedures by the immigration authorities. Denial of access to a fair and satisfactory asylum procedure, to independent legal counsel and to the UNHCR may lead to refoulement. The principle of non-refoulement is enshrined in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees(11) and the 1984 Convention against Torture,(12) to both of which Japan is a state party.

The law and practice of an arbitrary ‘fast-track’ detention-deportation procedure: providing opportunities for human rights abuses

The two Tunisian nationals mentioned above are among thousands of foreign nationals who are detained in the LPF at Narita Airport every year, prior to being deported on the next available flight of the same air carrier on which they had flown into Japan. Detention at the LPF, or at an ”Airport Rest House”, forms part of the procedure followed by Japanese authorities after foreign nationals are refused entry and before they are deported from Japan (the Jouriku Boushi Gyoumu procedure).

The legal framework for this procedure is provided for in the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (the ICRR Act). This Act provides for a Special Inquiry Officer to interview a foreign national once an Immigration Inspector finds that his or her documents to enter or depart do not conform with requirements of the Ministry of Justice Ordinance (Article 6(2) and 9(4) of the ICRR Act provides for this procedure). If the Special Inquiry Officer finds as a result of the interview that the foreign national does not meet conditions of landing (provided for in Article 7(1)), the officer has to inform the foreign national of this decision, and give reasons for that decision (Article 10(9)).

These interviews do not meet international standards, in particular denial of access to adequate interpretation facilities(13) and have resulted in ill-treatment of foreign nationals. For example, there have been allegations that foreign nationals, some of whom may have been asylum-seekers, have not had access to adequate interpretation facilities during such interviews, which at times have lasted several hours.

 […]

Concerns regarding private security companies

Private security companies have been contracted by air carriers to transport foreign nationals from Special Examination Rooms of the immigration authorities to their detention facilities and back from their detention facilities to the air carrier on the day of their flight. Private security companies also supervise these foreign nationals in their detention facilities, including at the LPF; they guard them round the clock to ensure that the foreign nationals are prevented from leaving the rooms and from entering Japan. Companies such as Security Agency X (not the real name of the company) try to make the foreign nationals pay the cost for their ”accommodation”. It appears that when Security Agency X failed to receive the payments from foreign nationals, they asked the flight operator to reimburse the amounts owed.(17)

Up until the summer of 1999, Security Agency X was contracted by air carriers to transport foreign nationals and also supervise the security of the LPF at Narita Airport. The agency could ask foreign nationals to pay the costs for this accommodation during the period of their stay. When they did not pay, they were allegedly strip-searched.Force was allegedly used by the security company when foreign nationals protested and questioned these requests.

When Security Agency X lost the contract to be in charge of security at the LPF at Narita Airport, it still continued to be contracted by airline carriers to transport foreign nationals who had been denied entry into Japan from the Examination Room to the LPF and from the LPF to the air carrier when the foreign national was being deported. Its reduced security responsibilities had diminished opportunities for Security Agency X to force foreign nationals to pay during their detention at the LPF. Thameur Hichem and Thameur Mouez were beaten not inside the LPF but outside in a building located at the parking lot in Narita Airport when they showed unwillingness to pay up to the demands of the staff members of Security Agency X. When Amnesty International asked immigration officials about actions they had taken against Security Agency X, the officials stated that they had been satisfied with the reply from the security agency and that the company had done no wrong. No action had apparently been taken by the immigration authorities though they had admitted to Amnesty International that the LPF was under the overall supervision of the immigration authorities at Narita Airport. The lack of prompt and impartial investigation by the authorities into such allegations of ill-treatment contravenes Article 12 of the Convention against Torture.

The LPF in Narita Airport: a secret detention facility

Not much was known of the LPF until the case of the two Tunisian nationals became public. The LPF is used for the physical detention within the airport complex of those foreign nationals who are denied entry into Japan usually after they have been issued ”orders to leave”.(18)When an Amnesty International delegation was granted access to the LPF in December 2000, there were two facilities which were located in the administrative wing on the second floor of Terminal 2 of Narita Airport.(19)The LPF in Narita Airport comprises at least two detention facilities, at least one is reserved for men and at least one facility is reserved exclusively for women detainees. According to Immigration officials questioned by the Amnesty International delegation, a daily average of some seven persons were detained in the LPF. Both of the facilities in Narita Airport consisted of four windowless rooms.

In the room to which Amnesty International was allowed access, there were narrow benches (which former detainees have informed Amnesty International doubled up as beds) and large dust-bins. The room, which was in the LPF allocated to women, was not occupied by any detainees at that time. There were five benches in the room, possibly indicating that the room was meant for five detainees. The room was about 10 feet by 8 feet and 7 feet high and was the only room that was not behind a locked steel gate. All other rooms (three in the women’s facility, and four rooms in the men’s facility) were behind a locked steel gate which was guarded throughout the day by two guards on 12 hour shifts. The rooms were always locked, the keys were held by the guards. In cases of emergencies like sickness or fire in the room, detainees had no choice but to bang the door hard to raise alarm and catch the attention of the guards. A vertical glass window fitted into the door which enabled the guards to have a good view of the room. This meant that detainees were effectively denied privacy. The guard room, in turn, was locked. Detainees’ luggage was kept separately in a room next to the guard room.

Despite requests, the Amnesty International delegation was not allowed to meet detainees. Amnesty International has been informed that two delegations of Japanese Diet (National Assembly) members were also denied access to those detained in the LPF at the time of their visits. The refusal to allow visits by qualified persons to places of detention constitutes a violation of Principle 29 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment.(20)

Discrimination on the basis of nationality

There appears to be a link between the denial of entry by immigration authorities, ill-treatment during questioning of entry or asylum applicants, detention at the LPF and the nationality of the person. There have been denials of entry on the basis of superficial generalisations of persons belonging to certain countries revealing a xenophobic bias of immigration officials. A Colombian national, who was denied entry into Japan in October 1996, claimed to have been told by the Immigration official that ”You don’t have to be in Japan. Only one out of five Colombians can enter Japan. Colombians are untrustworthy, selling drugs, involved in prostitution and robbery.” There have been, since 11 September 2001, several cases of asylum seekers being refused entry into Japan apparently because they are from particular countries, such as Afghanistan or the Middle East region. Most of them have been forced to sign documents facilitating their deportation with little regard paid to the non-refoulementprinciple enshrined in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (the Refugee Convention) and the Convention against Torture.

Changes to Alien Registration Act July 2012 — NJ to be registered on Juuminhyou Residency Certificates at last

mytest

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Hi Blog. As the first real post of the new year, I thought we should start with a bit of unexpected good news.  Let’s talk about the changes in Immigration’s registration of NJ residents coming up in July.

It’s been in the news for quite a bit of time now (my thanks to the many people who have notified me), and there is some good news within:  NJ will finally be registered on Residency Certificates (juuminhyou) with their families like any other taxpayer.  Maximum visa durations will also increase from 3 to 5 years, and it looks like the “Gaijin Tax” (Re-Entry Permits for NJ who dare to leave the country and think they can come back on the same Status of Residence without paying a tariff) is being amended (although it’s unclear below whether tariffs are being completely abolished).

But where GOJ giveth, GOJ taketh.  The requirement for jouji keitai (24/7 carrying of Gaijin Cards) is still the same (and noncompliance I assume is still a criminal, arrestable offense), and I have expressed trepidation at the proposed IC-Chipped Cards due to their remote trackability (and how they could potentially encourage even more racial profiling).

Anyway, resolving the Juuminhyou Mondai is a big step, especially given the past insults of awarding residence certificates to sea mammals and fictional characters but not live, contributing NJ residents (not to mention omitting said NJ residents from local government population tallies).  Positive steps to eliminate an eye-blinkingly stupid and xenophobic GOJ policy.  Read on.  Arudou Debito

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The Japan Times Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011
Immigration changes to come as new law takes effect in July
By JUN HONGO Staff writer
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20111221a5.html

The revised immigration law will take effect next July 9 and the government will start accepting applications for new residence registration cards on Jan. 13, the Cabinet decided Tuesday, paving the way for increased government scrutiny through a centralized immigration control of foreign nationals.

The amendment will affect foreign nationals who are residing here under medium- to long-term residence status as stipulated by the Immigration Control Act. While some will be exempt from the change, such as special permanent residents of Korean descent, most foreign residents will be required to make a few major changes, including obtaining new registration cards.

The current alien registration cards, overseen by local municipalities, will be replaced with the cards issued by the central government.

According to the Justice Ministry, foreign residents can apply for the new card at their nearest regional immigration office beginning Jan. 13 but won’t receive it until July. However, valid alien registration certificates will be acceptable until the cardholder’s next application for a visa extension takes place.

At that point, the old card will be replaced with the new residence card, which will have a special embedded IC chip to prevent counterfeiting.

The government claims that centralized management of data on foreign residents will allow easier access to all personal information of the cardholder, such as type of visa, home address and work address, and in return enable officials to more conveniently provide services for legal aliens.

For example, documented foreigners will have their maximum period of stay extended to five years instead of the current three years. Re-entry to Japan will also be allowed without applying for a permit as long as the time away is less than a year, according to the Justice Ministry.

Permanent residents, meanwhile, will have to apply for a new residence card within three years from July 2012. Required materials necessary for an application have not been determined yet.

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20111221a5.html
ENDS

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

Changes coming to foreign registration, visa system
Japan Today LIFESTYLE JAN. 05, 2012
Courtesy http://www.japantoday.com/category/lifestyle/view/changes-coming-to-foreign-registration-visa-system

TOKYO — On July 9, a new system of residence management will be implemented that combines the information collected via the Immigration Control Act and the Alien Registration Law respectively. Foreign nationals residing legally in Japan for a medium to long term are subject to this new system.

The government will start accepting applications for new residence registration cards on Jan 13, which will then be issued after July 9. To apply for the new card, you are required to appear in person at the nearest regional immigration bureau.

The Ministry of Justice says the new system ensures further convenience for such persons by extending the maximum period of stay from 3 years to 5 years. In addition, a system of “presumed permit of re-entry,” which essentially exempts the need to file an application for permission for re-entry when re-entering Japan within one year of departure, will be implemented.

Upon introduction of the new system of residence management, the current alien registration system shall become defunct. Medium- to long-term residents will get a new residence card which they will be required to always carry with them. Children under the age of 16 are exempt from the obligation to always carry the residence card.

Foreign nationals residing legally for a medium to long term with a status of residence under the Immigration Control Act, EXCLUDING the persons described below, shall be subject to the new system of residence management:

—Persons granted permission to stay for not more than 3 months
—Persons granted the status of residence of “Temporary Visitor”
—Persons granted the status of residence of “Diplomat” or “Official”
—Persons whom a Ministry of Justice ordinance recognizes as equivalent to the aforementioned foreign nationals
—Special permanent residents (for example, of Korean descent)
—Persons with no status of residence

Permanent residents, meanwhile, will have to apply for a new residence card within three years from July 2012.

What is the residence card?

The residence card will be issued to applicable persons in addition to landing permission, permission for change of status of residence, and permission for extension of the residence period, etc. The card is equipped with an IC chip to prevent forgery and alteration, and the chip records all or part of the information included on the card. Fingerprint information will not be recorded in the chip.

The card will contain a portrait photo of the individual and the following information:

—Legal items given
—Name in full, date of birth, sex, nationality
—Place of residence in Japan
—Status of residence, period of stay, date of expiration
—Type of permission, date of permission
—Number of the residence card, date of issue, date of expiration
—Existence or absence of working permit
—Existence of permission to engage in an activity other than those permitted under the status of residence previously granted

New visa and re-entry system

(1) Extension of the maximum period of stay

The status of residence with a period of stay of 3 years under the present system, will be extended to 5 years. As for the status of residence of “College Student,” the maximum period of stay will be extended to “4 years and 3 months” from the current “2 years and 3 months” starting from July 1, 2009.

(2) Revision of the Re-entry System

A foreign national with a valid passport and a residence card will be basically exempt from applying for a re-entry permit in cases where he/she re-enters Japan within one year from his/her departure. In cases where a foreign resident already possesses a re-entry permit, the maximum term of validity for the re-entry permit shall be extended from 3 years to 5 years.

Conditions of Revocation of Status of Residence

Implementation of the new system of residence management includes establishment of the following provisions concerning the conditions of revocation of status of residence and deportation, and penal provisions:

—The foreign national has received, by deceit or other wrongful means, special permission to stay
—Failing to continue to engage in activities as a spouse while residing in Japan for more than 6 months (except for cases where the foreign national has justifiable reason for not engaging in the activities while residing in Japan
—Failing to register the place of residence within 90 days after newly entering or leaving a former place of residence in Japan (except for cases with justifiable reason for not registering the place of residence), or registering a false place of residence
—Forgery or alteration of a residence card
—Being sentenced to imprisonment or a heavier punishment for submitting a false notification required of medium to long term residents, or violating the rules concerning receipt or mandatory presentation of the residence card

For further information, visit http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_1/en/index.html or call the Immigration Information Center at 0570-013904 (weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.)
ENDS

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

Alien Registration Act will be abolished, and Immigration Control Act and Basic Resident Registration Act will be amended as of July 2012! [Courtesy of MM]

http://www.city.inazawa.aichi.jp/ka_annai/shimin/e_nyuukan.pdf 

《Key Changes》

◎ For a household consisting of Japanese nationals and foreign nationals, the conventional system under which the family members can identify themselves by certified copy of the residence record for Japanese nationals (Jumin-hyo) or by certified copy of alien register for foreign nationals (Gaikokujin tourokugenpyo kisaijiko shomeisho), will be abolished and they will be able to uniformly identify themselves by a single residence record (Jumin-hyo).

◎ Like a Japanese national does, a foreign national who moves from one city to another will need to report to the city he/she used to live of the removal and obtain “Certificate of Removal (Tenshutsu shomeisho)” which then needs to be submitted to the city which he/she moves in.

◎ A foreign national will be released from some burdens. → After the changes, a foreign national who has registered with the Immigration Bureau any change to his/her status of residence, an extension of period of stay, etc. will not need to report as such to the city where he/she lives.

◎ The Alien Registration Card (Gaikokujin torokusho) will be replaced by “Residence Card (Zairyu card)” containing less information. → For permanent residents …

A Residence Card (Zairyu card) will be issued by taking procedures at

Immigration Bureau within three years after the law amendment. For others …

A Residence Card (Zairyu card) will be issued at the first extension of period of stay after law amendment or when any change to the status of residence is made at the Immigration Bureau.

Alien registration system will be abolished and aliens will be subject to Basic Resident Registration Act.

Changes to Immigration Control Act will benefit foreign nationals living in Japan.《Foreign nationals entitled to registration to Residence Record (Jumin-hyo)》 Excluding the persons staying in Japan for short periods of time, foreign nationals residing legally in Japan for more than three months with a status of residence. (1) Medium to long term resident (2) Special permanent resident (3) Person granted landing permission for temporary refuge or person granted permission for provisional stay (4) Person who is to stay in Japan through birth or who has renounced Japanese nationality ⇒ Persons who do not fall within any of the aforementioned categories or who do not qualify for the status of residence as of the law amendment (including those who have not reported to the city under Alien Registration Act any change to the duration of stay) will not be registered to Residence Record (Jumin-hyo) and thus certified copies of the residence record may not be issued. If you will need a certified copy of Residence Record (Jumin-hyo), take necessary procedures as soon as possible.

※ For those subject to the new system, a Provisional Resident Record (Kari jumin-hyo) will be sent to you from April 2012 for you to check information contained in the record.

Neither reference date for making Provisional Resident Record (Kari jumin-hyo) nor effective date of the law amendment has yet been decided. Once decided, it will be announced on the City website and other notices.

See the following websites for further details:

Changes to Immigration Control Act! ” (Ministry of Justice) “Changes to the Basic Resident Registration Law – Foreign residents will be subject to the Basic Resident Registration Law -” (Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications)
ENDS

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

More from the horse’s mouth at

http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_1/en/index.html

Gaijinwife blog on her house check — is having authorities visit Permanent Residency applicant’s home and throughly photograph its interior now SOP?

mytest

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

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Hi Blog. Continuing on with arbitrary bureaucracy in Japan (particularly pertaining to NJ, see newfound arbitrary hurdles when getting married or getting rejected for Permanent Residency), check this blog out, excerpted below. This degree of background check used to be the domain of people applying for Japanese citizenship (see what it was like for me back between 1998 and 2000 here, not to mention Sendaiben’s nasty experience here) Now it seems that even PR applicants may have their premises policed and photographed by the authorities. Is this happening to others as well?  Not according to the commenters on Gaijinwife’s blog, but let’s ask Debito.org Readers as well.  Arudou Debito

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“Men in Black”
Gaijinwife blog, Posted on October 21, 2011
http://gaijinwife.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/men-in-black/
Courtesy of MD

Well, actually only one was in black, the other just had on a shirt and tie. Two men from the immigration office – waiting in their car across the street when I got home from shopping at about 3pm.

They show me their ID badges and say they are here to do a checkup on my application for permanent residency that I submitted in August. They give me a piece of paper to sign saying that I give them permission to come into the house and have a look round. I have had no warning they would be coming so it is just pure luck I’m not still in my PJs squiffing wine and watching horny housewife porn on an illegal streaming site.

The first thing they do is take a photo of the array of shoes in the genkan – focussing on the kids shoes. They ask me questions about the kids, where Granny K sleeps and then come into the lounge where they take a photo of the fire – the DVDs and the lego on the mantlepiece above it. We haven’t used the fire this season yet but when we do all the toys and shit will go and the big metal guard will come out – they asked about it. I offered to show them but that wasn’t necessary.

Then they wanted to know where the kids clothes were – as if shoes, lego, DVDs, and a pile of unfolded kids laundry on the sofa wasn’t enough. He even took a picture of a pulled out drawer with kids clothes in it.

I then got quizzed on the futon downstairs – was that the master bedroom? No, I said, it is where I am sleeping cause I’ve got a hacking cough and no point keeping hub up as well. Oh, so you and your hub aren’t sleeping in the same room? No, but we do usually. Would you like to see our bedroom – its upstairs.

So up we go where more photos are taken of our bedroom (bed miraculously made) and kids bedrooms. They inquire about the black and white photo of my parents when they were 20, don’t ask about the empty suitcase out in the hall but do ask about the big backpack by the front door. Hiking? No, that’s an evacuation kit. He wrote something down.

Am presuming it was highly safety conscious gaijin, with relatively clean house who obviously dislikes laundry and sleeping with her husband. Does appear to have all three children as stated on application…

Rest at http://gaijinwife.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/men-in-black/

J on how Japan’s Immigration Bureau uses unlegislated bureaucratic guidelines to trump the letter of the law, in this case re obtaining Permanent Residency

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
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Hi Blog. Second in this series of arbitrary bureaucratic rule in Japan:  Debito.org Reader J sends me this post about the tribulations he’s had getting his Permanent Residency, and how Immigration Bureau bureaucrats feel they are within their mandate to ignore the letter of the law. According to J, even when you show them their guidelines are unlawful under the law, they have replied, “That’s just a law.” Which of course calls into question the rule of law in Japan, and bureaucrats’ attitudes towards being constrained by legislation meant to preserve the consent of the governed in a democracy.  Arudou Debito

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November 8, 2011

Hi Debito, how’s it going? Who do you think is a good lawyer that has appealed a PR declination successfully before?

I think I have an undeniable open-and-shut appeal case in which the courts will most likely overturn an immigration officer’s illegal decline of Permanent Residency.

(Perhaps you remember, I had a car accident once 5 years ago in which I committed a crime – I received probation, since thankfully no people were hurt, only cars damaged.)

What makes [my] PR decline obviously “illegal” is that the following Law was ignored:
(1) 素行が善良であること
(2) 独立の生計を営むに足りる資産又は技能を有すること
(3) その者の永住が日本国の利益に合すると認められること
(注)日本人,永住者又は特別永住者の配偶者又は子の場合は,(1)及び(2)に適合することを要しない。
#1 reason for declination is: having committed a crime.
#2 reason for declination is: being financially too poor.
#3 reason for declination is: not being a profit to Japan.
The Law then nicely goes on to state that reason #1 and reason #2 can NOT be used to decline spouses of Japanese citizens.

So, this means that if an immigration officer wants to legally decline Permanent Residency to a spouse of a Japanese citizen, he is REQUIRED to claim reason #3.

My case is: I’m married to a Japanese citizen (7 years) and yet the immigration officer declined my Permanent Residence using reason #1, “previous conviction”.

So again, who do you think is a good lawyer? I’m willing to pay his standard price, plus, a 500,000 yen bonus upon successfully overturning this illegal refusal of PR.
Please let me know if you have any good ideas of who I should call. Sincerely, J 

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November 8, 2011

Hi Debito. Turns out I don’t need a lawyer after all.

Whoever wrote the original Law saying that reason #1 and reason #2 can NOT be used to decline spouses of Japanese citizens, their goal was clear: to let foreigners married to Japanese citizens become Permanent Residents, regardless of whether they were convicted criminals, or poor, or both.

But then, some bureaucrats within immigration with the opposite goal (limiting PRs) decided to write some new “Guidelines” which say the exact opposite.

These new “Guidelines” (which the Unelected bureaucrats proclaim “trumps” the Laws written by Elected Lawmakers) say that reason #3 includes convictions.

Any rational person looking at the original Law would say that reason #1 refers to crime (素行が善良であること = 法律を遵守) and reason #3 refers to profit:
http://www.moj.go.jp/ONLINE/IMMIGRATION/16-4.html

But now, check out this crafty Heisei 15/16 “update” to the immigration Guidelines (added by unelected immigration bureaucrats) look at the ア、イ、ウ、オ additions:
(1) 素行が善良であること
法律を遵守し日常生活においても住民として社会的に非難されることのない生活を営んでいること
(2) 独立生計を営むに足りる資産又は技能を有すること
日常生活において公共の負担にならず,その有する資産又は技能等から見て将来において安定した生活が見込まれること
(3) その者の永住が日本国の利益に合すると認められること
ア 原則として引き続き10年以上本邦に在留していること。ただし,この期間のうち,就労資格又は居住資格をもって引き続き5年以上在留していることを要する。
イ 罰金刑や懲役刑などを受けていないこと。納税義務等公的義務を履行していること。
ウ 現に有している在留資格について,出入国管理及び難民認定法施行規則別表第2に規定されている最長の在留期間をもって在留していること。
エ 公衆衛生上の観点から有害となるおそれがないこと
http://www.moj.go.jp/nyuukokukanri/kouhou/nyukan_nyukan50.html

Cute. So since the door was opened “too wide” by the original Law, just type up some “Guidelines” that moves the “crime disqualification” from reason #1 into reason #3, et voila!

Now, if I go to court, the court can simply say, “Well, according to this Heisei 15/16 update/addition to the immigration Guidelines (penned by Unelected bureaucrats) you lose. Boom.”

But, your honor, “reason #1” means “didn’t follow the law” (and “reason #1” doesn’t apply to spouses of Japanese citizens) so how can “didn’t follow the law” be added to “reason #3”?

Guidelines written by Unelected bureaucrats are REVERSING and TRUMPING the Laws written by Elected Lawmakers, plus let’s remember that these Guidelines are usually secret.

For example: the LAW says that Passports only have to be shown to immigration officers, but new GUIDELINES say that every Gaikokujin (for example: your single foreigner cousin, living in your house, with a valid visa, NOT RECEIVING KODOMO TEATE [child allowance]) must come allow the Kodomo Teate Section to copy his Passport, or else the couple with kids are penalized.

Perhaps your single foreigner cousin, living in your house, with a valid visa, NOT RECEIVING KODOMO TEATE, refuses to let some “Kodomo Teate city worker” to copy his Passport?

According to the new Kodomo Teate Guidelines, if ANY Gaikokujin living in the house refuses to hand over his Passport, the Kodomo Teate will be taken away from the couple with kids.

So now the couple with children must force any Gaikokujin roommates they are living with to submit to this unlawful new guideline, or else the couple with children will be penalized.

The couple with children do NOT have to ask their Japanese roommates to submit anything, this unlawful new guideline doesn’t dare ask JAPANESE citizens to show their passport.

The reasoning for this guideline is “foreigners spend Kodomo Teate money vacationing in Thailand, but Japanese citizens would never do that, so we don’t check Japanese passports.”

Try asking the Kodomo Teate section for a copy of this new Guideline, they won’t give a copy of it, they won’t even show it to you, because, “Our Guidelines are secret.” Seriously. (!)

Laws made by the Kokkaigin say that we DON’T have to show our Passport except to immigration officers and when getting our ARC, but: new Guidelines say Kodomo Teate as well.

If you are a Japanese person receiving Kodomo Teate, with a non-Japanese living in your house, the new Guidelines say ALL Gaikokujin MUST come show their Passport – or else.

Do the Elected Lawmakers know that their will has been reversed and trumped? Do the Elected Lawmakers know that these new guidelines are in direct conflict with national Laws?

My conversation recently with an immigration official summed it up perfectly, when I read him the Law stating that reason #1 can’t be used against me, he said, “That’s just a law!”

I couldn’t believe it, this officer actually said, in front of his co-workers, “それはただの法律だけ!” His tone was perfectly clear, “WE make the decisions around here, not laws.”

So, nevermind my request for a lawyer, I can see that since the bureaucrats within immigration have craftily moved crime from reason #1 down to reason #3, I can’t get PR, oh well.

Currently in Japan (in my opinion the best country relative to others) a sad state admittedly exists where Guidelines trump Laws: Unelected bureaucrats trump elected lawmakers.

Thanks anyway for the good work you do. Sincerely, J 🙂

PS – I wonder how the majority of Japanese citizens would feel about a Law that says,
“From now, only Elected Lawmakers (and publicly-voted initiatives) can create Laws.
And any Guidelines written by unelected bureaucrats CANNOT conflict with those Laws.
Plus all Guidelines written by unelected bureaucrats must be Public: no Secret Guidelines.”

ENDS

Suraj Case of police brutality and death during Immigration deportation in Japan Times Nov 1, 2011

mytest

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Hi Blog. Sorry to take a day or two to get to this. Here we have more reported (thanks to assiduous folks at the Community Page at the Japan Times) on the Suraj Case, a mysteriously underinvestigated case we’ve mentioned here before of police brutality and death of an African during deportation. What gets me is that even some of the veto gates at the Japan Times, according to the editor of this article on his facebook entry, took issue with the use of the word “brutal” in the headline; given what finally came to light regarding the condition of Mr. Suraj’s corpse below, “brutal” is obviously appropriate. And it would not have come to light at all had not Mr. Suraj’s widow and these reporters not pursued this case with such tenacity. Keep it up, Japan Times. Who else in a milquetoast Japanese media that is generally unsympathetic to NJ issues would give a toss? Arudou Debito

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

The Japan Times Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011

PHOTO CAPTION: Immigration policy on trial: Abubakar Awudu Suraj died after being restrained by immigration officers with hand and ankle cuffs, a rope, four plastic restraints and a towel gag before a flight to Cairo from Narita airport. Below: An illustrated note that Suraj passed to his wife during her visit to an immigration center during one of his periods in detention. COURTESY OF ABUBAKAR AWUDU SURAJ’S WIDOW

THE ZEIT GIST
Justice stalled in brutal death of deportee
Autopsy suggests immigration officers used excessive force in restraining Ghanaian
By SUMIE KAWAKAMI and DAVID MCNEILL
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20111101zg.html, thanks to lots of people

Abubakar Awudu Suraj had been in Japan for over two decades when immigration authorities detained him in May 2009. The Ghanaian was told in Yokohama of his deportation to Ghana at 9:15 a.m. on March 22 last year. Six hours later he was dead, allegedly after being excessively restrained by guards.

Jimmy Mubenga also died last year while being held down by three private security guards before takeoff on a British Airways flight from London to Angola. The father of five had lost his appeal to stay in the U.K. and was being deported. Mubenga put up a struggle and died after the guards sat on him for 10 minutes, say witnesses.

But the details of the deportations of two men from rich countries back to their native Africa, and their aftermath, are strikingly different. Mubenga’s death is already the subject of a vigorous police inquiry, front-page stories and an investigation by The Guardian newspaper. The case has been discussed in Parliament, where security minister Baroness Neville-Jones called it “extraordinarily regrettable.”

Suraj has received no such honors. The 45-year-old’s case has largely been ignored in the Japanese media and no politician has answered for his death. An investigation by Chiba prosecutors appears to have stalled. There has been no explanation or apology from the authorities.

His Japanese wife, who had shared a life with him for 22 years, was not even aware he was being deported. She was given no explanation when she identified his body later that day. His body was not returned to her for nearly three months. Supporters believe he put up a struggle because he wanted to tell his wife he was being sent home.

An autopsy report seen in a court document notes abrasions to his face, internal bleeding of muscles on the neck, back, abdomen and upper arm, along with leakage of blood around the eyes, blood congestion in some organs, and dark red blood in the heart. Yet the report bizarrely concluded that the cause of death is “unknown.”

Any movement in the Suraj case is largely down to his wife, who wants to remain anonymous. She won a lawsuit against the Justice Ministry, which oversees immigration issues, demanding it disclose documents related to his death. The documents were finally released in May, more than a year after he died…

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20111101zg.html

////////////////////////////////////
UPDATE: — Economist (London) reports on Suraj Case, and NPA not allowing journalists to investigate, courtesy CR. Debito
==============================

Justice in Japan
An ugly decision
The Economist Nov 4th 2011, 8:05 by K.N.C.
http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2011/11/justice-japan?fsrc=scn%2Ffb%2Fwl%2Fblanuglydecision

BOUND and gagged, a man dies in the custody of immigration officers while being forcibly deported. The police investigate slowly. Prosecutors mull the case. The wheels of justice barely turn.

Now, it looks like the case will be dropped completely—and a man’s death go unpunished. Prosecutors in Chiba prefecture, where Tokyo’s Narita airport is located, have decided not to indict the ten officers who carried Abubakar Awudu Suraj’s unconscious body onto an Air Egypt flight in March 2010 before he was declared dead, according to a new report in the Yomiuri Shimbun.

Two official autopsies at the time could not determine the cause of death, though Mr Suraj’s widow saw injuries to his face when she identified the body. A new autopsy however purports to reveal that he had suffered heart disease and says the cause of his death was illness.

This is hard to swallow at face value. Three days after the incident an immigration official told Mr Suraj’s widow “It is a sorry thing that we have done.” Officialdom dragged its heels to such a degree that she had to file criminal charges and later civil charges. The kind of gag that was used to restrain him is prohibited, though its use is said to be commonplace.

Mr Suraj was a Ghanaian national who arrived in Japan in 1988, learned the language, worked odd jobs and married a Japanese woman. He was arrested for overstaying his visa and the courts didn’t accept his requests to remain. The March 2010 deportation was the immigration bureau’s second attempt—after Mr Suraj made such a rumpus the first time round that it had to be stopped. So perhaps officers used a bit of extra force to make sure it didn’t fail.

It is an ugly situation. The authorities surely didn’t mean for Mr Suraj to die in custody. But since he did, the people responsible should be held legally accountable. The Chiba prosecutors, by suggesting they may drop the case, look as complicit as the ten officers themselves.

Addendum, 5 November 2011: When The Economist requested an interview with the Chiba prosecutor’s office, the answer was a firm no. An employee said that interviews are only allowed for members of the prosecutors’ “Kisha Club,” the quasi-formal groups that control the flow of news to major Japanese news organisations (and which tend to turn journalists into stenographers for officialdom, by neutering independent reporting). The employee said that the only time The Economist can prosecutors questions is during an annual “press registration”—whose application deadline is long past. Must every Japanese institution be designed to keep out outsiders?
ENDS

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

RE: Civil suit mentioned above:

Japan’s immigration policy
Gone but not forgotten
The Economist Aug 5th 2011, 9:45 by K.N.C. | TOKYO
http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2011/08/japans-immigration-policy

WRISTS cuffed, ankles bound and with a rolled towel shoved in his mouth, Abubakar Awudu Suraj died in the custody of nine Japanese immigration officers on March 22nd 2010 while being deported to Ghana for overstaying his visa. Since then his widow and friends have sought information—and justice—from the authorities, but have been ignored. On August 5th 2011 they filed a civil suit against the government.

The Chiba prefectural prosecutors have received the results of an investigation but have yet to act. None of the officers have been sanctioned at all, explains Koichi Kodama, a lawyer working on Mr Suraj’s case. He argues that the authorities are trying to cover up misdeeds. For example, restraining a person by using ankles cuffs and a towel is not permitted, he says. And in a videotape of the botched deportation, the supervisor tells the cameraman to stop filming as things get hot, says Mr Kodama.

The civil suit seeks compensation of ¥136m (around $1.5m) from the government for wrongful death. But the real motivation is to hold the authorities to account, explains Mr Suraj’s widow. “I want to reveal the truth without concealing anything,” she says. “They were carrying a human being. I don’t understand why they had to treat him like that. I feel very powerless,” she says.

The Japanese mainstream media have largely ignored the case. (We reported it May 2010 and followed up in December 2010.) The head of the immigration bureau left out unflattering facts about his officers’ conduct when he was called to the Diet (parliament) to explain what happened. A criminal case was filed as well, naming the officers involved, but it has barely budged on the court’s docket. The ministry of justice looks hampered by rather obvious conflicts of interest. The ministry’s agents hold the evidence of wrongdoing that their colleagues are alleged to have committed. The ministry stands responsible for penalising officials within its own ranks.

One small change is that since Mr Suraj’s death, there apparently have not been any other forced deportations. But that only sharpens the question. As long as Mr Suraj’s case is ignored by officialdom, it is Japan’s institutions of justice that fall under suspicion. Every day that the officers who were present when Mr Suraj died don their uniforms and walk into their offices is another day in which the Japanese state looks complicit in a cover-up.
ENDS

2011’s annual GOJ Spot the Illegal Alien campaign enlists Tokyo Metro, deputizes general public with posters of cute and compliant NJ

mytest

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Hi Blog. It’s that time of the year again, when the GOJ has its monthlong campaign to enlist the general public in spotting illegal aliens. Just to make sure that anyone can feel empowered to do Immigration’s job to spot check a NJ’s Gaijin Card (when, according to the Gaitouhou, only officials given policing powers by the MOJ are empowered to demand this form of ID), here we have a poster in a public place, issued by Tokyo Metro, with all sorts of cutesy NJ happily complying with the rigmarole. After all, the small print notes that that these NJ are causing “all kinds of problems” (well, at least they’re being less demonized this time; making them well dressed and cute was a nice touch). And also after all, the slogan is “ru-ru o mamotte kokusaika” (internationalization done by the rules); which is fine, except it would be nice if the police followed their own rules regarding enforcement of Gaijin Card checks. Poster follows, courtesy of MMT and here, received June 23, 2011.  Arudou Debito

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

mytest

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New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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. 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 Debito.org — 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. Arudou Debito

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

June 8, 2011

Hi Debito, I want to share my story written below with you and your readers.

I would like to share the story that happened to me today (June 8th) at New Chitose Airport.

It was 11h55am, I was sitting in the waiting area of the domestic arrival floor, JAL-B-2, waiting for my mother to arrive about 5 minutes later.

A supposed-policeman came to me, flashed a card for less than a second, and asked me to show him my passport. I initially said that if it was voluntary, I would like to be on my way instead. After asking him several times “itte mo ii desuka?” he finally said that I was not free to go or to be on my own and that he requires seeing my ID.

I asked why I was targeted for a control, as I was not doing anything, nor carrying any luggage or any object. He replied that he was checking on me because I was the only foreigner around. He didn’t care about my remark that he had no way to know who is foreigner or not just by looking at people’s face.

The shocking part of the story starts when I required seeing his police ID with his registration number. Even though I asked many times he always refused, pretending that only I was required to show an ID. After I refused to go to the Koban, he asked another policeman, in uniform this time, to come.

After at least ten minutes of the same dialogs again and again, I finally agreed to lead them to my car, about 200 meters away, where I kept my ARC [Gaijin Card].

I took my ARC in my hands flashing it to the policemen, but that was not enough, as they wanted to copy every information written on my ARC.

I then said that I would comply as soon as I would be shown their police ID, with their number written, so I could I least formulate a complaint afterwhile about their behaviour.

They continued to refuse to show me anything, and started to pressure me more and more to let them copy information from my ARC.

As I was carrying my mobile at all time, the non-uniform policeman then accused me of taking pictures of them and requested me to put my mobile in my pocket. I asked many times whether it is illegal to have my mobile phone in my hands, and they replied yes.

After they finished copying my ARC’s info, they finally let me go to meet my mother who had arrived. However, it was not finished, as the un-uniformed policeman followed me, and then requested me (in front of my mother and other random people inside the waiting area) to show every picture from my mobile’s data, as he was scared that I could have taken a picture of him. This lasted about 10 minutes, as he was checking every picture in detail, and even checked each pictures two times.

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

I know some of you will say that I should just have obeyed and followed all their orders.

However, don’t you think it is very strange that the policeman was so scared of being identified, be it by a picture or by his police card?

I mean, if they were not doing anything wrong they would not care about it.

But now this leaves me with no info on the policemen, and even no proof that the control even happened?

Of course I would like to file a formal complaint about the un-uniformed policeman (he was the leader, and also touched me physically many times to prevent me from using my mobile phone) ; but how can I do it without his ID number ??

Anybody here could advice how I could ID him from now on and how should I proceed for complaining about this situation ?

Thank you all in advance for your input. Best regards, Rpl

ENDS

TMC reports on TV Asahi “Super Morning” rupo re Shibuya Center Gai citizen patrols harassing buskers, NJ

mytest

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Hi Blog. I haven’t seen this program myself, but if the below is true, this is some pretty serious stuff: Officially-sanctioned and media-encouraged vigilanteism. Anyone else see the program in question or know about these citizen patrols and their haranguing ways? Arudou Debito

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

From: TMC
Subject: Discrimination in Shibuya’s Center Gai
Date: January 9, 2011

Dear Debito,

This is my first time contacting you but I have been reading your website for a long time. This may have already been brought to your attention but I thought I’d let you know anyway.

I was watching television on Friday morning (January 7th) and caught a segment featured on TV Asahi’s Super Morning about a citizen patrol operating in Shibuya’s Center Gai district that acts in an aggressive and belligerent manner. First, this group is shown breaking up a live music performance by young Japanese. Unlike what you would expect from such patrols, their manner of enforcing ward bylaws was extremely rude and invited escalation of the situation. Instead of simply telling the musicians to discontinue and wait for their response, the oyaji in charge of this band of bullies screamed at the kids like a yakusa to stop playing and continued haranguing them as they were dispersing. In contrast, the young musicians were not shown being argumentative at all.

The other disturbing scene occurred when this gang spotted an African male leaning on a guard rail. From a fair distance away, the patrol (composed of about six Japanese males dressed in their citizens patrol jackets) immediately went over, surrounded the guy and demanded that he pick up some cans that were on the ground next to him. Despite the fact that the African was doing nothing but leaning against a guard rail, they started barking at him (given their close distance to the African, their posture, numbers and tone, it could be perceived as very threatening). The African quite rightly took umbrage at the unprovoked intrusion and got into an argument that escalated into some pushing and shoving, with the African kicking some objects in the street. Eventually the police were called in to settle the dispute. Had it been some oyaji doing the same thing, I highly doubt the patrol would have done anything. In addition, I have so far never seen the police get that aggressive right off the bat in public.

From what I could tell the group was composed mainly of older men with a few younger ones included (two of which had lived in the US for a long time and were fairly fluent in English (as shown when they gave directions to some tourists) so it is ironic that they are spending their time hassling foreigners). Following the story, the panel (including Mr. Baseball’s son, Kazushige Nagashima) discussed how good it was that this group was cleaning up the area (complete with upbeat parade music playing in the background) and that more “ganko oyajis” like these were needed to make Tokyo neighborhoods safe for the elderly. There were no dissenting opinions of course. This use of aggressive vigilante groups that take liberties the cops generally don’t or can’t is disturbing. I think citizen patrols are great but strutting around like brownshirts targeting certain groups and causing trouble is definitely outside of their mandate. Sincerely, TMC

ENDS

Japan Times JBC/ZG Column Jan 4, 2010: “Arudou’s Alien Almanac 2000-2010” (Director’s Cut)

mytest

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THE TOP TENS FOR 2010 AND THE DECADE
ZEIT GIST 54 / JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 35 FOR THE JAPAN TIMES

justbecauseicon.jpg

The Japan Times, Tuesday, January 4, 2011
DRAFT NINE, VERSION AS SUBMITTED TO EDITOR (Director’s Cut, including text cut out of published article)
WORD COUNT FOR DECADE COLUMN #5-#2: 988 WORDS
WORD COUNT FOR 2010 COLUMN #5-#2: 820 WORDS

Download Top Ten for 2010 at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110104ad.html
Download Top Ten for 2000-2010 at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2011/01/04/general/arudous-alien-almanac-2000-2010/
Download entire newsprint page as PDF with excellent Chris Mackenzie illustrations (recommended) at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/images/community/0104p13.PDF

It’s that time again, when the JUST BE CAUSE column ranks the notable events of last year that affected Non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan. This time it’s a double feature, also ranking the top events of the past decade.

A TOP TEN FOR THE DECADE 2000-2010

5) THE OTARU ONSENS CASE (1999-2005)

This lawsuit followed the landmark Ana Bortz case of 1999, where a Brazilian plaintiff sued and won against a jewelry store in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, that denied her entry for looking foreign. Since Japan has no national law against racial discrimination, the Bortz case found that United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination (CERD), which Japan signed in 1995, has the force of law instead. The Otaru case (Just Be Cause, Jun. 3, 2008) (in which, full disclosure, your correspondent was one plaintiff) attempted to apply penalties not only to an exclusionary bathhouse in Otaru, Hokkaido, but also to the Otaru city government for negligence. Results: Sapporo’s district and high courts both ruled the bathhouse must pay damages to multiple excluded patrons. The city government, however, was exonerated.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Although our government has repeatedly said to the U.N. that “racial discrimination” does not exist in Japan (“discrimination against foreigners” exists, but bureaucrats insist this is not covered by the CERD (JBC, Jun. 2, 2009)), the Otaru case proved it does, establishing a cornerstone for any counterargument. However, the Supreme Court in 2005 ruled the Otaru case was “not a constitutional issue,” thereby exposing the judiciary’s unwillingness to penalize discrimination expressly forbidden by Japan’s Constitution. Regardless, the case built on the Bortz precedent, setting standards for NJ seeking court redress for discrimination (providing you don’t try to sue the government). It also helped stem a tide of “Japanese Only” signs spreading nationwide, put up by people who felt justified by events like:

4) ISHIHARA’S SANGOKUJIN RANT (April 9, 2000)

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara set the tone this decade with a calamitous diatribe to the Nerima Ground Self Defense Forces (ZG, Dec. 18, 2007), claiming that NJ (including “sangokujin,” a derogatory term for former citizens of the Japanese Empire) were in Japan “repeatedly committing heinous crimes.” Ishihara called on the SDF to round foreigners up during natural disasters in case they rioted (something, incidentally, that has never happened).

WHY THIS MATTERS: A leader of a world city pinned a putative crime wave on NJ (even though most criminal activity in Japan, both numerically and proportionately, has been homegrown (ZG, Feb. 20, 2007)) and even offered discretionary policing power to the military, yet he has kept his office to this day. This speech made it undisputedly clear that Ishihara’s governorship would be a bully pulpit, and Tokyo would be his turf to campaign against crime — meaning against foreigners. This event emboldened other Japanese politicians to vilify NJ for votes, and influenced government policy at the highest levels with the mantra “heinous crimes by bad foreigners.” Case in point:

3) THE SECOND KOIZUMI CABINET (2003-2005)

Once re-elected to his second term, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi got right down to business targeting NJ. No fewer than three Cabinet members in their opening policy statements mentioned foreign crime, one stressing that his goal was “making Japan the world’s safest country again” — meaning, again, safe from foreigners (ZG, Oct. 7, 2003).

WHY THIS MATTERS: Despite being one of Japan’s most acclaimed prime ministers, Koizumi’s record toward NJ residents was dismal. Policies promulgated “for the recovery of public safety” explicitly increased the peace for kokumin (Japanese nationals) at the expense of NJ residents. In 2005, the “Action Plan for Pre-Empting Terrorism” (ZG, May 24, 2005) portrayed tero as an international phenomenon (ignoring homegrown examples), officially upgrading NJ from mere criminals to terrorists. Of course, the biggest beneficiaries of this bunker mentality were the police, who found their powers enhanced thusly:

2) THE POLICE CRACKDOWNS ON NJ (1999- present)

After May 1999, when their “Policy Committee Against Internationalization” (sic) was launched, the National Police Agency found ample funding for policies targeting NJ expressly as criminals, terrorists and “carriers of infectious diseases.” From NPA posters depicting NJ as illegal laborers, members of international criminal organizations and violent, heinous crooks, campaigns soon escalated to ID checks for cycling while foreign (ZG, Jun. 20, 2002), public “snitch sites” (where even today anyone can anonymously rat on any NJ for alleged visa violations (ZG, Mar. 30, 2004)), increased racial profiling on the street and on public transportation, security cameras in “hotbeds of foreign crime” and unscientific “foreigner indexes” applied to forensic crime scene evidence (ZG, Jan. 13, 2004).

Not only were crackdowns on visa overstayers (i.e., on crimes Japanese cannot by definition commit) officially linked to rises in overall crime, but also mandates reserved for the Immigration Bureau were privatized: Hotels were told by police to ignore the actual letter of the law (which required only tourists be checked) and review every NJ’s ID at check-in (ZG, Mar. 8, 2005). Employers were required to check their NJ employees’ visa status and declare their wages to government agencies (ZG, Nov. 13, 2007). SDF members with foreign spouses were “removed from sensitive posts” (ZG, Aug. 28, 2007). Muslims and their friends automatically became al-Qaida suspects, spied on and infiltrated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police (ZG, Nov. 9).

There were also orgiastic spending frenzies in the name of international security, e.g., World Cup 2002 and the 2008 Toyako G-8 Summit (JBC, Jul. 1, 2008). Meanwhile, NJ fingerprinting, abolished by the government in 1999 as a “violation of human rights,” was reinstated with a vengeance at the border in 2007. Ultimately, however, the NPA found itself falsifying its data to keep its budgets justified — claiming increases even when NJ crime and overstaying went down (ZG, Feb. 20, 2007). Hence, power based upon fear of the foreigner had become an addiction for officialdom, and few Japanese were making a fuss because they thought it didn’t affect them. They were wrong.

WHY THIS MATTERS: The NPA already has strong powers of search, seizure, interrogation and incarceration granted them by established practice. However, denying human rights to a segment of the population has a habit of then affecting everyone else (ZG, Jul. 8, 2008). Japanese too are now being stopped for bicycle ID checks and bag searches under the same justifications proffered to NJ. Police security cameras — once limited to Tokyo “foreigner zones” suchas Kabukicho, Ikebukuro and Roppongi — are proliferating nationwide. Policing powers are growing stronger because human rights protections have been undermined by precedents set by anti-foreigner policies. Next up: Laws preventing NJ from owning certain kinds of properties for “security reasons,” further tracking of international money transfers, and IC-chipped “gaijin cards” readable from a distance (ZG, May 19, 2009).

1) THE DROP IN THE REGISTERED NJ POPULATION IN 2009

For the first time in 48 years, the number of foreigners living in Japan went down. This could be a temporary blip due to the Nikkei repatriation bribe of 2009-2010 (ZG, Apr. 7, 2009), when the government offered goodbye money only to foreigners with Japanese blood. Since 1990, more than a million Brazilians and Peruvians of Japanese ancestry have come here on special visas to help keep Japan’s industries humming cheaply. Now tens of thousands are pocketing the bribe and going back, giving up their pensions and becoming somebody else’s unemployment statistic.

WHY THIS MATTERS: NJ numbers will eventually rise again, but the fact that they are going down for the first time in generations is disastrous. For this doesn’t just affect NJ – it affects everyone in Japan. A decade ago, both the U.N. and Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi stated that Japan needs 600,000 NJ a year net influx just to maintain its taxpayer base and current standard of living. Yet a decade later, things are going in exactly the opposite way.

It should be no surprise: Japan has become markedly unfriendly these past ten years. Rampant and unbalanced NJ-bashing have shifted Japanese society’s image of foreigner from “misunderstood guest and outsider” to “social bane and criminal.” Why would anyone want to move here and make a life under these conditions?

Despite this, everyone knows that public debt is rising while the Japanese population is aging and dropping. Japan’s very economic vitality depends on demographics. Yet the only thing that can save Japan – a clear and fair policy towards immigration – is taboo for discussion (JBC, Nov. 3, 2009). Even after two decades of economic doldrums, it is still unclear whether Japan has either the sense or the mettle to pull itself up from its nosedive.

The facts of life: NJ will ultimately come to Japan, even if it means that all they find is an elderly society hanging on by its fingernails, or just an empty island. Let’s hope Japan next decade comes to its senses, figuring out not only how to make life here more attractive for NJ, but also how to make foreigners into Japanese.

ENDS

Bubbling under for the decade: U.N. Rapporteur Doudou Diene’s 2005 and 2006 visits to Japan, where he called discrimination in Japan “deep and profound” (ZG, Jun. 27, 2006); Japan’s unsuccessful 2006 bid for a U.N. Security Council seat—the only leverage the U.N. has over Japan to follow international treaty; the demise of the racist “Gaijin Hanzai” magazine and its publisher thanks to NJ grassroots protests (ZG, Mar. 20, 2007); the “Hamamatsu Sengen” and other statements by local governments calling for nicer policies towards NJ (ZG, Jun. 3, 2008); the domination of NJ wrestlers in sumo; the withering of fundamental employers of NJ, including Japan’s export factories and the eikaiwa industry (ZG, Dec. 11, 2007).

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

A TOP TEN FOR 2010

5) RENHO BECOMES FIRST MULTIETHNIC CABINET MEMBER (June 8 )

Japanese politicians with international roots are few but not unprecedented. But Taiwanese-Japanese Diet member Renho’s ascension to the Cabinet as minister for administrative reforms has been historic. Requiring the bureaucrats to justify their budgets (famously asking last January, “Why must we aim to develop the world’s number one supercomputer? What’s wrong with being number two?”), she has been Japan’s most vocal policy reformer.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Few reformers are brave enough to withstand the national sport of politician-bashing, especially when exceptionally cruel criticism began targeting Renho’s ethnic background. Far-rightist Diet member Takeo Hiranuma questioned her very loyalty by saying, “She’s not originally Japanese.” (Just Be Cause, Feb. 2) Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara expanded the focus by claiming people in the ruling coalition had foreign backgrounds, therefore were selling Japan out as a “duty to their ancestors” (JBC, May 4). Fortunately, it did not matter. In last July’s elections, Renho garnered a record 1.7 million votes in her constituency, and retained her Cabinet post regardless of her beliefs, or roots.

4) P.M. KAN APOLOGIZES TO KOREA FOR 1910 ANNEXATION (August 10)

After all the bad blood between these strikingly similar societies, Japan’s motion to be nice to South Korea was remarkably easy. No exploitable technicalities about the apology being unofficial, or merely the statements of an individual leader (as was seen in Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama’s apologies for war misdeeds, or Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono’s “statement” about “comfort women” – itself a euphemism for war crimes) — just a prime minister using the opportunity of a centennial to formally apologize for Japan’s colonial rule of Korea, backed up by a good-faith return of war spoils.

WHY THIS MATTERS: At a time when crime, terrorism and other social ills in Japan are hastily pinned on the outside world, these honest and earnest reckonings with history are essential for Japan to move on from a fascist past and strengthen ties with the neighbors. Every country has events in its history to be sorry for. Continuous downplaying — if not outright denial by nationalistic elites — of Japan’s conduct within its former empire will not foster improved relations and economic integration. This applies especially as Asia gets richer and needs Japan less, as witnessed through:

3) TOURIST VISAS EASED FOR CHINA (July 1)

Despite a year of bashing Chinese, the government brought in planeloads of them to revitalize our retail economy. Aiming for 10 million visitors this year, Japan lowered visa thresholds for individual Chinese to the point where they came in record numbers, spending, according to the People’s Daily, 160,000 yen per person in August.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Wealthy Chinese gadding about while Japan faced decreasing salaries caused some bellyaching. Our media (displaying amnesia about Bubble Japan’s behavior) kvetched that Chinese were patronizing Chinese businesses in Japan and keeping the money in-house (Yomiuri, May 25), Chinese weren’t spending enough on tourist destinations (Asahi, Jun. 16), Chinese were buying out Japanese companies and creating “Chapan” (Nikkei Business, Jun. 21), or that Chinese were snapping up land and threatening Japan’s security (The Japan Times, Dec. 18). The tone changed this autumn, however, when regional tensions flared, so along with the jingoism we had Japanese politicians and boosters flying to China to smooth things over and keep the consumers coming.

Let’s face it: Japan was once bigger than all the other Asian economies combined. But that was then — 2010 was also the year China surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy. Japan can no longer ignore Asian investment. No nationalistic whining is going to change that. Next up: longer-duration visas for India.

2) NJ PR SUFFRAGE BILL GOES DOWN IN FLAMES (February 27)

The ruling coalition sponsored a bill last year granting suffrage in local elections to NJ with permanent residency (ZG, Feb. 23) — an uncharacteristically xenophilic move for Japan. True to form, however, nationalists came out of the rice paddies to deafen the public with scare tactics (e.g., Japan would be invaded by Chinese, who would migrate to sparsely-populated Japanese islands and vote to secede, etc.). They then linked NJ suffrage with other “fin-de-Japon” pet peeves, such as foreign crime, North Korean abductions of Japanese, dual nationality, separate surnames after marriage, and even sex education.

WHY THIS MATTERS: The campaign resonated. Months after PR suffrage was moribund, xenophobes were still getting city and prefectural governments to pass resolutions in opposition. Far-rightists used it as a political football in election campaigns to attract votes and portray the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) as inept.

They had a point: How could the DPJ sponsor such a controversial bill and not rally behind it as criticisms arose? Where were the potential supporters and spokespeople for the bill, such as naturalized Diet member Marutei Tsurunen? Why were the xenophobes basically the only voice heard during the debate, setting the agenda and talking points? This policy blunder will be a huge setback for future efforts to promote human rights for and integration of NJ residents.

Bubbling under for the year: Oita High Court rules that NJ have no automatic right to welfare benefits; international pressure builds on Japan to sign the Hague Convention on Child Abduction; Tokyo Metropolitan Police spy on Muslims and fumble their secret files to publishers; America’s geopolitical bullying of Japan over Okinawa’s Futenma military base undermines the Hatoyama administration (JBC, Jun. 1); Ibaraki Detention Center hunger strikers, and the Suraj Case of a person dying during deportation, raise questions about Immigration Bureau procedure and accountability.
ENDS

Discussion: As a person with NJ roots, is your future in Japan? An essay making the case for “No”.

mytest

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Hi Blog. More woolgathering on the past decade, as the end of the year approaches:

I’m hearing increasing discontent from the NJ Community (assuming quite presumptuously there is one able to speak with a reasonably unified voice) about living in Japan.

Many are saying that they’re on their way outta here.  They’ve had enough of being treated badly by a society that takes their taxes yet does not respect or protect their rights.

To stimulate debate, let me posit with some flourish the negative case for continuing life in Japan, and let others give their own arguments pro and con:

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

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to expect people to want to immigrate to Japan, given the way they are treated once they get here.

We have racial profiling by the Japanese police, where both law allows and policy sanctions the stopping of people based upon having a “foreign appearance”, such as it is, where probable cause for ID checks anywhere is the mere suspicion of foreigners having expired visas.

We have rampant refusals of NJ by landlords and rental agencies (sanctioned to the point where at least one realtor advertises “Gaijin OK” apartments), with the occasional private enterprise putting up “Japanese Only” signs, and nothing exists to stop these acts that are expressly forbidden by the Japanese Constitution.  Yet now fifteen years after effecting the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination, Japan still has no law against it either on the books or in the pipeline.

With recent events both with the Northern Territories, the Takeshima/Tokdo rocks, and the Senkakus, we have a rising reactionary xenophobic wave justifying itself upon creating a stronger Japan to “protect sovereignty” through anti-foreign sloganeering. This is is very visible in the reaction to the proposed suffrage for Permanent Residents bill, which went down in flames this year and is still inspiring people to ask their local assemblies to pass “ikensho” expressly in opposition (I was sent one yesterday afternoon from a city assembly politician for comment).  Bashing NJ has become sport, especially during election campaigns.

We have people, including elected officials, claiming unapologetically that even naturalized Japanese are “not real Japanese”, with little reprisal and definitely no resignations.

We have had the NPA expressly lying and the media blindly reporting about “foreign crime rises” for years now, even as crime falls.

And we are seeing little future return on our investment: Long-term NJ bribed by the GOJ to return “home” and give up their pensions, and the longest wait to qualify for the pension itself (25 years) in the industrialized world. With the aging society and the climbing age to get it (I have little doubt that by the time I am old enough, currently aged 45, that the age will be around 70 or so), and Japan’s postwar Baby Boomers soon qualifying themselves, looks likely there won’t be much left in the public coffers when it happens.

Yet we still have little acknowledgment by our government of all that NJ and immigrants have done for this society.  Instead, the image of NJ went quite markedly from “misunderstood guest and outsider” to “criminal threat to Japan’s safe society” this decade.

Why stay in a society that officially treats its people of diversity with such suspicion, derision and ingratitude?, is a case that can be made.  Especially other NJ are getting the message and leaving — the NJ population dropped in 2009 for the first time since 1961.  As salaries keep dropping in a deflationary economy, even the financial incentives for staying in an erstwhile more hospitable society are evaporating.

That’s the negative case that can be made.  So let me posit a question to Debito.org Readers (I’ll create a blog poll to this effect):

Do you see your future as living in Japan?

  1. Definitely yes.
  2. Probably yes for the foreseeable future, but things might change.
  3. Uncertain, is all I can say.
  4. Leaning towards a probable no.
  5. Definitely no.
  6. Something else.
  7. N / A: I don’t live or will not live in Japan.

Let’s see what people think. I’ll leave this up as the top post until Tuesday or so, depending on how hot the discussion gets. Arudou Debito

Speaking PGL 2010 Sat Dec 4 ICU on “Propaganda in Japan’s Media: Manufacturing Consent for National Goals at the Expense of non-Japanese Residents”

mytest

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PGL Conference 2010
International Christian University, Tokyo

The Conference
The 3 R’s: Resist Business as Usual, Reclaim Space for Peace,
Revolutionise Public Consciousness

Room Number & General Theme
Media – Room 252
Saturday, December 4, Session 3 (3.15 – 4.45)

Paper Presentation Titles
Folake Abass, Kyoto Sangyo University (30 mins)
Exploring Injustice

Arudou Debito, Hokkaido Information University (60 mins)

Propaganda in Japan’s Media: Manufacturing Consent for National Goals at the Expense of non-Japanese Residents

https://sites.google.com/site/pgl2010/home/schedule

1. Paper title

PROPAGANDA IN JAPAN’S MEDIA
MANUFACTURING CONSENT FOR NATIONAL GOALS AT THE EXPENSE OF NJ RESIDENTS

2. Abstract in English

Japan has one of the most vibrant and pervasive domestic media environments in the world. This media environment can also be significantly manipulated by the Japanese government, mobilizing Japanese public opinion towards national goals even at the expense of domestic minorities — particularly non-citizens. The degree of underrepresentation and disenfranchisement of Non-Japanese residents in Japan is clear when one studies the “foreign crime wave of the 2000s”, promoted by the government in the name of “making Japan the world’s safest country again”, justifying public policy against “foreign terrorism, infectious diseases, and crime”. The domestic media’s complicity in publicizing anti-foreign sentiment without analysis has caused quantifiable social dehumanization; government polls indicate a near-majority of citizens surveyed do not agree that non-citizens should have the same human rights as citizens. This presentation studies how language and media have been used as a means for disseminating propaganda in Japan, fostering social stratification, alienation, and xenophobia.

ENDS

Yomiuri: ‘Leaked MPD data’ out as book / Documents published as is; names of police, NJ informants revealed

mytest

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Hi Blog.  This breaking news from the weekend compounds just how sinister the activities of the Japanese police can be.  First spying on people in the name of combating terrorism because they’re Muslims or connected to Muslims, then losing control of the information to the point where it becomes a book on sale to the public.  Shame on you, Metropolitan Police Department.  Imagine how big a scandal this would have been if Japanese people had been treated similarly.

Now, of course, since this is embarrassing to the police, the book (as per checks with Amazon.co.jp and an in-person check at Kinokuniya Sapporo yesterday) is no longer being sold.  Good.  But that sure was quick, compared to how much comparative time and effort it took for the Gaijin Hanzai Ura Files Mook in 2007 (which I believe the police contributed information to) to go off-market.  Seems to me less the need to protect individual NJ than for the police to cover their collective ketsu.  Whatever.  The book is off the market.  The materials for it shouldn’t have been collected in the first place.  Arudou Debito

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

‘Leaked MPD data’ out as book / Documents published as is; names of police, informants revealed

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 28, 2010)
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T101127002588.htm

A Tokyo publishing house has released a book containing what are believed to be Metropolitan Police Department antiterrorism documents that were leaked onto the Internet last month.

Released by Dai-San Shokan Thursday, the book contains the personal information of Muslim residents in this country, such as their names and addresses.

Akira Kitagawa, president of the publisher, said he decided to put out the book “to raise questions about the laxity of the police’s information control system.”

The documents in question are thought to have been leaked via file-sharing software on Oct. 28. The book is printed in the same format as the documents.

One foreign resident whose name and address are listed in the book has called for it to be immediately recalled from bookstores. However, since the MPD has not officially admitted a leak took place, they cannot suspend publication or take other measures.

The 469-page book, titled “Ryushutsu ‘Koan Tero Joho’ Zen Deta” (Leaked police terrorism info: all data), is on sale at some bookstores, but several major publishing agents have refused to distribute it.

If the documents are authentic, the book contains the names and photos of foreign residents being monitored by the 3rd Foreign Affairs Division at the Public Security Bureau of the MPD, the names of people who have cooperated with the police, and the photos and addresses of police officers involved in terrorism investigations.

One African man whose name and those of his family are in the book told The Yomiuri Shimbun he was worried how this would affect his family, and that he wanted the police to halt the book’s publication. He said he had not yet seen the book.

The MPD maintains it is still investigating the case, and has not confirmed whether the information is authentic. A senior police official said, “At present, it’s difficult for the MPD to protest the publication or demand its suspension.”

Masao Horibe, professor emeritus at Hitotsubashi University, said the publication of the data in book form could be called a human rights violation since it increases its distribution, even though the information was already available on the Internet.

“Some might argue people have the freedom to publish or know about the data. But this book is just raw unedited data, not like a newspaper would carry. I think it’s questionable whether the publication of this book is in the public interest,” he said.

Author Go Egami said the police should halt publication of the book and admit the leaked data was genuine, because its authenticity is obvious to anyone who has seen it.

“I think the government neglected the [terror information] leak because they were distracted by the coast guard’s trouble with the Chinese fishing boat,” he said.
ENDS

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

‘MPD data’ book wreaks havoc / Foreign residents who had private info exposed express fear, anger
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 29, 2010), Courtesy of JK

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T101128002788.htm

People who saw their personal information published last week in a book containing what is believed to be police antiterrorism documents are expressing anger and fear over the fallout they could face.

Many foreign residents had their photos and family members’ names revealed in the book, which some bookstores have removed from their shelves. It also carries personal information about investigators of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Public Security Bureau, as well as data on police informants.

It has been about one month since the suspected leak came to light, but the MPD has yet to confirm the data belongs to the department, only saying it is still verifying the validity of the documents. The police have not taken any action, such as requiring the publisher to stop sales of the book.

Experts have called on the MPD to quickly admit the data is real and take action.

Published by Tokyo publishing house Dai-San Shokan, the 469-page book is titled “Ryushutsu ‘Koan Tero Joho’ Zen Deta” (Leaked police terrorism info: all data) and hit the shelves Thursday.

The book carries the names, photos and addresses of foreign residents who have apparently been subject to MPD investigations, as well as those of MPD bureau investigators in charge of international terrorism.

An African man living in the Kanto region whose photo and family members’ names were carried in the book said: “After the documents were leaked online, a disease I’ve had for a long time got worse because of the stress. I’m shocked the information became a book so soon. I was just trying to forget about it.”

Another foreign resident of Tokyo said his home telephone number was carried in the book. “The publishing company didn’t contact me in advance. Now that the information’s in a book–not just on the Internet–I wonder what’ll happen to me and my family?” he said.

The book is on sale in Tokyo bookstores and via other channels, but some retailers have voluntarily decided not to sell copies. The Shinjuku branch of Kinokuniya Co. put 60 copies on sale Saturday morning, only to take it off the shelves when it realized the contents were inappropriate, but not before several copies had been sold.

MPD making no progress

The MPD did not notice the leak until Oct. 29 when it received a tip from a private telecommunications firm. Since then, the MPD’s position has been that it is verifying whether the data found online were in fact internal documents.

The MPD is stuck, because if it admits internal information was leaked, it will likely lose the trust of foreign authorities, according to a senior MPD official. One document contains an apparent request by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation for cooperation in investigations.

The entire MPD is involved in the investigation into the leak–not only the Public Security Bureau but also the Personnel and Training Bureau, which investigates scandals involving police officers, and the Administration Bureau, which is in charge of information control.

A former senior official of the Public Security Bureau said “the data is absolutely the bureau’s internal documents” and includes top secret items. The data was leaked onto the Internet through a server in Luxembourg, making it difficult for investigators to track where it originated. The MPD has asked the company operating the server for cooperation, but it has yet to be given any communications records.

The MPD maintains it is unable to take any action against the publisher because it has not officially confirmed the data came from the organization.

Police appear to be divided on how to handle the problem. Some say the MPD should never admit a leak occurred, but others believe they should admit at least part of the documents are internal and take necessary action as soon as possible.

The data has continued to spread online across the globe via file-sharing software. NetAgent Co., a Tokyo private information security firm, said as of Thursday, the data had been downloaded onto 10,285 computers in 21 countries and regions.
ENDS

Japan Times: Leaked documents reveal Tokyo Police spies on Muslim residents, tries to make snitches of them

mytest

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Hi Blog.  In probably one of the most important developments of the year (thanks again to the Japan Times Community Page, consistently offering one great expose after another), we have actual substantiation of the Tokyo Police extending their racial profiling techniques to target Muslim residents of Japan.  Not only are they spying on them and keeping detailed files, they are trying to turn them against one another as if they’re all in cahoots to foment terrorism.

We all suspected as such (the very day I naturalized, I got a personal visit from Japan’s Secret Police asking me to inform on any Chinese overstayers I might happen to know; they said they read Debito.org — perhaps as assiduously as some of my Internet stalkers).  Now we have proof of it.  Shame, shame on a police force that has this much unchecked power.  Do I smell a return to Kenpeitai tactics?  Arudou Debito

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

The Japan Times Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010
THE ZEIT GIST
Muslims in shock over police ‘terror’ leak
Japan residents named in documents want explanation — and apology — from Tokyo police force

By DAVID McNEILL

This time last month, Mohamed Salmi says he was just another anonymous foreigner living and working in Japan. Today he fears his life here may be over, and receives phone calls from reporters asking him if he is an al-Qaida “terrorist.”

“I’ve no idea why they have picked on me,” says the Algerian, who has lived and worked in Japan for over 20 years and is married to a Japanese national. “My wife and I are still struggling to believe it.”

Salmi’s name was one of several released in extraordinary leaked documents from a counterterrorism unit of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s Public Security Bureau. Listed as “terrorist suspects,” the men are Muslims who live and work here, in many cases for decades.

The documents, which have been obtained by The Japan Times, contain vast amounts of personal information, including birthplaces, home and work addresses, names and birthdays of spouses, children and associates, personal histories and immigration records. Even the names of local mosques visited by the “suspects” are included.

In most cases, the causes of the initial police suspicion appear to have simple explanations. Salmi’s former work as a travel agent placed him in contact with Arab students, businessmen and diplomats.

“I had a lot of ambassadors as clients,” says the 47-year-old, who now works for a Japanese construction company. “I can’t believe this is enough to put me on a list of suspects.”

Apparently released via file-sharing software, the files and the background on how they were compiled reveal that Japanese police, under pressure from U.S. authorities, trawled Tokyo in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, in search of intelligence data among the city’s tiny Muslim community. According to victims of the leak, in some cases the Security Bureau tried to recruit them as spies…

Rest of the article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101109zg.html

Ministry of Justice website justifying crime prevention measures due to “frequent occurrence of serious crimes committed by foreign nationals and increase in transnational crimes”

mytest

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Hi Blog.

Here’s what Debito.org has been saying all along (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here): The policing agencies are justifying any programs dealing with crime by blaming it on the foreigners.

As a source, here’s the Ministry of Justice itself in unrepentant Bunker Mentality Mode. It’s hard not to read this as, “We were a safe society until the foreigners came along and spoiled everything for us. So now we have to crack down on the foreigners and Japanese who deal with them.” Great. Of course, we have no purely homegrown crime here, such as the Yaks, right? Why is “Recovery of Public Safety” so firmly linked in “foreigner issues”? Because they’re a soft target, that’s why. Read on and try to suppress a wry smirk. Arudou Debito

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

THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
Recovery of public safety

Undated article, courtesy of XY, English original
http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/issues/issues04.html

In the past Japan was proud of its image in the world of being an exceptionally safe country, but in recent years, the number of criminal cases that have been identified by the authorities has increased remarkably, while the clearance rate has dropped drastically and remains at a very low level, which makes the deterioration of public safety an issue of grave concern to the nation. In particular, exceptionally violent crimes attracting public attention and the occurrence close at hand of many offences committed by youngsters or by foreign nationals coming to Japan are making people uneasy about the maintenance of public order. In addition, since computers and high-level information technology such as the Internet have become a common feature of daily life, new crimes abusing such advanced technology have risen in number. Further, effective measures against international terrorism such as the multiple terrorist attacks on the United States, and efforts toward solving problems concerning the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea, are needed.

Under such circumstances, the Government, aiming at restoration of Japan as “the safest country in the world”, inaugurated the Ministerial Meeting Concerning Measures against Crime, which formulated in December 2003 “The Action Plan for the Realization of a Society Resistant to Crime”, and the Conference is actively promoting comprehensive measures such as various countermeasures against crime including shoreline countermeasures, the consolidation of a social environment under which it is difficult to commit crimes, and the strengthening of the structure of agencies and organs responsible for public safety.

Based on the important issues shown in this plan (Action Plan for the Realization of a Society Resistant to Crime), the Ministry of Justice submitted the Bill for Partial Amendment to the Penal Code and other related laws to the Diet, which raised the terms of statutory penalties for heinous and serious crimes and extended the statute of limitations for prosecution, and this Law has been in force since the beginning of 2005. Further, the Ministry of Justice, in order to better protect the economy and society from organized crime and suchlike, is engaged in getting legislation passed, including criminal provisions, to combat the obstruction of compulsory execution, which is also necessary for ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; as well as legislation for measures against high-tech crimes, thereby enabling ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.

In order to deal effectively with the frequent occurrence of serious crimes committed by foreign nationals and the increase in the number of transnational crimes, it is necessary to make the procedure for gathering evidence from abroad more effective and to enhance cooperation between the investigative authorities of foreign countries and Japan. As part of such enhancement of cooperation, the Japanese Government has concluded the Treaty between Japan and the United States of America on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (entered into force on 21 July 2006) and the Treaty between Japan and Korea on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (entered into force on 26 January 2007). These treaties have made it possible to send and receive requests not through diplomatic channel but directly between the Ministry of Justice or other competent authorities of Japan and the Ministry of Justice of respective countries, enabling the expediting of procedures. The Japanese Government is also negotiating with Hong Kong, Russia and China to conclude the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. The Ministry of Justice is in the position of developing cooperation with other countries in the future.

The Bill for Partial Amendment to the Penal Code and Other Related Laws has been submitted to the 2005 Ordinary Session of the Diet, which is necessary to ratify the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and to cope with the modern crime of violation of the right to liberty, for example, confinement for long periods and the heinous kidnapping of minors, and this Law has been in force since July 2005.

In order to stabilize the public security of the nation, preventing the re-offending of offenders who have committed crimes or delinquency is also important.

Penal institutions including prisons, juvenile prisons and detention houses, are now suffering from a severe overcrowding of inmates and it is thought that this may adversely affect the treatment given by the institutions. Therefore the Ministry is striving to solve the problem by such means as the construction of prisons using private financial initiatives (PFI). Furthermore, in order to find a way to enable the large numbers of Chinese inmates, who are one of the causes of overcrowding, to be transferred to their home country, the Ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is working toward early conclusion of a bilateral treaty between Japan and China and continues dialogues with China.

In addition, the Ministry is striving to prevent inmates from re-offending by improving the treatment programs for the rehabilitation and smooth resocialization of inmates.

In the field of rehabilitation of offenders in the community, the Ministry of Justice is aiming to smoothly enforce the Offenders Rehabilitation Act, which was passed by the Diet and was promulgated in June 2007 and to ensure fair application of the Act in order to improve and strengthen the offenders rehabilitation system in the community.

The Offenders Rehabilitation Act shall be enforced on a date which is specified by a Cabinet Order within a period not exceeding one year from the day of promulgation (June 15, 2007). However, some articles of the Act which relate to support of crime victims were already enforced on December 1, 2007. In order to carry out balanced probation, parole, and improvement of the system of cooperation between rehabilitation workers in the private sector such as volunteer probation officers, and public officers, the Ministry of Justice is striving to strictly enforce the lower laws and ordinances which lay down the detailed regulations of the bill of the Offenders Rehabilitation Act. In addition, the Rehabilitation Bureau is endeavoring to establish strong rehabilitation of offenders in the community in a way which will fulfill the expectations of the citizens in the future.

To ensure balanced and effective probation, the Ministry of Justice implements the following from the viewpoint of the appropriate roles for probation officers and volunteer probation officers: guidance and assistance by probation officers who give direct and intensive supervision to persons who need special consideration for treatment, reinforcement of direct participation by probation officers for persons who need focused treatment, implementation of special treatment programs for sex offenders, violent offenders and drug abusers. In addition, assisting in securing employment is extremely important to prevent re-offending. Therefore, the Ministry of Justice promotes finding employment together with public employment security offices to support probationers and parolees in finding work, promotes measures for work security in a variety of industries and fields through cooperation with the ministries concerned, and promotes the National Halfway House Project.

Concerning antiterrorism measures, the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (hereinafter to be referred to as the Immigration Control Act), was revised in the regular session of the Diet in 2005 in order to include new counter-terrorism measures, based on the Action Plan for the Prevention of Terrorism (decided on December 10, 2004 by the Headquarters for the Promotion of Countermeasures against International Terrorism including International Organized Crime) and the amended Act entered into effect in December of 2005.

Further, according to the plan, the ordinary Diet Session in 2006 amended the Immigration Control Act. The revision included the introduction of (i) regulations requiring foreign nationals to provide fingerprints and other personal identification at the landing examination, (ii) regulations regarding the grounds for deportation of foreign terrorists, and (iii) regulations requiring the captains of ships and other vessels entering Japan to report in advance information regarding crewmembers and passengers.

With regard to North Korea, the Public Security Intelligence Agency is collecting and analyzing information such as abduction, nuclear and missile issues, in order to contribute to providing solutions. Further, the Agency is endeavoring to consolidate its intelligence collection mechanism by intensifying and expanding its intelligence network and its cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies in order to prevent the occurrence of terrorist attacks by international terrorist organizations, and to clarify the actual state of such organizations as well as to detect international terrorism related activities in Japan, while making efforts to actively promote the Government’s “Action Plan for the Prevention of Terrorism” with other agencies and organizations concerned. With regard to Aum Shinrikyo (the Aum cult), taking into consideration that there is no fundamental change in its dangerous nature even after the cult split into the main stream group and the Joyu group in May 2007, the Agency is strictly implementing the measure to place the groups under surveillance thereby clarifying the organizations themselves and their activities and providing local governments at their request with the results of the surveillance, thus trying to secure the safety of the public and ease the fears and the anxiety of the Japanese people.

(Criminal Affairs Bureau, Correction Bureau, Rehabilitation Bureau, Immigration Bureau, Public Security Intelligence Agency, and Public Security Examination Commission)
ENDS

Eyewitness report on how NPA is targeting NJ in Gotanda as security risk for APEC Summit in Yokohama

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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.  In case you haven’t heard, the latest APEC Summit is coming up in Yokohama this weekend.  Aside from the regular boilerplate on places like NHK about how we’re gearing up to greet and communicate effectively with foreigners (with some smattering on the security measures — cops on every corner looking busy and alert etc.), we once again are hearing next to nothing (if any media is talking about this, please send source) about how security means targeting NJ as potential criminals and terrorists.

It’s one thing to have Police State-style lockdowns.  It’s another matter of great concern to Debito.org for those lockdowns to encourage racial profiling.  This seems to happen every time we have any major international summitry (see past articles here, here, here, and here), and as usual no media seems to question it.  An eyewitness account redacted only in name that happened last week in Gotanda, Tokyo, quite a distance from the Yokohama site, follows.  Anyone else out there getting racially profiled and zapped by the fuzz?  Make sure you mention the whens and wheres, please.  Thanks.  Arudou Debito

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November 5, 2010

Hey Debito, Just to keep you abreast of a recent NPA excuse for a ‘stop and search’ shambles, here’s my story.

I have been living in Tokyo for around eight years now and this was the first time I have ever been stopped. I was on my way to meet a client in Gotanda in Tokyo on November 3rd and as I went through the ticket gate at approximately XXXpm [daytime] there were two regular police officers waiting on the other side. I saw one of them clock me and registered that he had decided to stop me for whatever purpose. Resigned to my fate, I watched him beeline his way towards me and gesture for me to stop. I took out my earbuds and responded to his question (“Can you speak Japanese?”) with a polite, “just a little.” Suprisingly, he then spoke English to me and continued to do so for the rest of the time I was delayed (I am not a fluent speaker of Japanese so I was quite happy to stay in my native tongue rather than struggle along with what little I know). First he asked if I had any I.D. such as a passport or Registration Card so I obligingly opened my bag, got out my wallet, closed my bag and handed him my I.D. I then asked him why he had stopped me and what he said was, and still is, the shocker of this whole story for me. He said that they were stopping foreigners “because of the APEC meeting being held in Yokohama.” I will refrain from launching into what I think about this ridiculous statement but I’m sure you can imagine my chagrin, so to speak. When I asked him why he had chosen to stop me, he then said that they were focusing on searching foreigners bags for “dangerous goods” and asked if it wouldn’t be too much trouble to have a look inside my bag. I said no, he couldn’t look inside my bag. He was a bit flummoxed at this and had to gather himself in order to proceed correctly. First he called over his sidekick and asked him to fill in the relevant form with my Registration details – sidekick obviously hadn’t done this before as he had a hard time guessing which bits of info to write down and had to check more than twice with the guy I was dealing with – then, he confirmed that I had just said “no” and asked me again if he could look inside my bag. We went back and forth a couple more times. Next he asked me to cooperate and that it wouldn’t take much time; I said I was cooperating and asked him if he thought I wasn’t cooperating. We went back and forth a couple more times. The discussion went round in circles a little longer but I must stress that at no point was he ever threatening or aggressive, and neither was I. In the end, I asked for his name and I.D., which he obligingly gave me. Once I had taken this down I opened my bag to put my notebook back and allowed him to have a look inside – by this time it was getting close to my appointment and I wanted to get on with my day. The one thing I forgot to ask him before I showed him the inside of my bag was if I could leave now, once they had taken my Registration details. It’s easy to think about it in retrospect… He only gave the inside of my (fairly sizable backpack, messenger style) bag a cursory look even after the reason he gave for the search, too! – I guess he supposed I would refuse if he asked to open the other bags which were inside my bag (soft lunch bag, quality waterproof bag with spare clothes, book bag). At least, in the end, he was polite, even though he was persistent. The whole affair took about 10 minutes of my time and I can’t help feeling like I was the victim of some inane body-count for administration purposes only.

Police Officer Seiya NC 217 of the Osaki Police Station looked like he was still in his 20’s and had been tasked with the job of targeting foreigners for the sole purpose of satisfying his superiors that Japan was doing it’s bit to ‘fight’ terrorism. I’m sure he believed in what he was doing and most likely still does but I’m also sure that he and many others like him have no clue that targeting foreigners and not even considering the idea that terror can be home-spun is not only hypocritical (and ironic – sarin gas, anyone?) but ultimately damaging to the good nature, honesty and humility of the vast majority of Japanese people in this country.

Isn’t there something I should download from your blog that would be ideal for explaining why I refuse to have my bag searched?

Best regards, rock on and keep banging that hammer, Debito.

Anonymous

WB and me on what NJ tourists also need in Japan — security against NPA harassment

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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.  I get letters like this on a daily basis (thanks everyone; can’t respond to all).  This one dovetails with something Debito.org is increasingly focusing attention upon:  Japan’s attempts to rebrand itself as a “cool tourist destination”.  This is fine, of course, but if you’re going to make it easier for NJ tourists (such as Chinese or Subcontinental Indians) to visit, you better make sure that they have a good time while here.  And I certainly see some room for improvement there.

I was waking up to NHK last Monday morning, and in line with their general cluelessness about how to treat NJ (such as acclaiming paltry 30-sen discount coupons for exchange rates), this time they were surveying airport tourists about what they’d like to see done to make Japan more attractive.  Some of the advice was decent (such as making clear on menus the contents of food, as in, what items are safe for vegetarians or diabetics).  But others were of the “whiny” variety (as in, “In America, we have menus in English”; this in a land where menus are very conveniently visual indeed).  Nice try, but if you’re trying to appeal to Asian-Region tourists, why not ask more Asian tourists what THEY want, NHK?

But one thing is of course being overlooked — how tourists and NJ in general are being targeted and harassed by police for instant passport checks.  It starts at Narita Airport, where the Narita Police are essentially using gaijin for target practice.  And as Debito.org Readers keep hearing here, it keeps happening once inside as well.  Witness this letter below, redacted only in name.

Point is, if you want to make Japan a more attractive tourist destination, please heel your police dogs, GOJ.  The NPA is spoiling the party with its racial profiling and treating NJ as suspicious.  Being treated as a criminal can really spoil one’s vacation.  Arudou Debito

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

November 2, 2010

Hello Debito, My name is WB and I have been following your site for 3 years by now. Let me start by saying that I was very doubtful and cynical of what you mentioned in regards to racism and discrimination in Japan as I’ve noticed none when I first went there for a short 2 week trip on Dec 2008 (Narita’s fingerprints aside). As a matter of fact, I still have some reservations towards the way you approach things, though my opinion of you changed dramatically after I went back to Japan for a 3 month stay last summer.

I went on a tourist visa to Osaka to practice and learn martial arts. My experience in that regards was fantastic and I’ve have the pleasure to meet amazing people during my trip. My experiences with police checkpoints, however, we nothing but scary. During my 3 month stay, I’ve been stopped 5 times, once by undercover detectives simply because I was gaijin. Once I was stopped on my bike, asked for my residency card (which naturally, I didn’t have because I am a tourist!) and escorted back to my home like a criminal, had my privacy intruded, handed my passport to the officers to see it being inspected to the very finest bit as if I gave them some letter full of anthrax or something. One of the officers was apologetic but the other one was rude and warned me harshly. I protested but that got things escalating so I backed down with a “hai, wakarimashita” and breathed a sigh of relief as they went away from my place.

The ensuing days had left me in fear. I quickly looked in the internet for some practical solutions and yours was what I found. I printed the Japanese laws tidbit you posted and had a copy of my passport in my pocket all the times. Carrying my passport all the time is out of the question! What if I lost it here or there? Terrible treatment awaits me if they decided to check on me when that happens! Thankfully, the next few checkpoints after this incident went smoothly, but I was always in a state of fear (for a “crime” that I didn’t commit).

The passport thing also extends to hotels it seems. I went to Shikoku for a 3 day trip and I’ve been asked for my passport in two hotels I stayed in. Failure to do so apparently means that they have to deny me service. I didn’t have my passport at that time, but I managed to convince them to accept my Canadian ID. If you think of it, they’re just following “the rules”, and since my Canadian ID had an name, address, and personal information on it; I was able to “get around” those rules.

Let me stress again that my experiences there were more positive than negative, and I am hopeful to return there once again. However, I can now understand what most NJ face in their daily life. I still have don’t like some of the aggressiveness in your opinions, but I am glad that you’re putting up the fight. Your site provided me with important information at a time of need….Thank you.

PS: I am unable to connect to your site here (Nova Scotia) for the past 2 months. I had to use an anonymous surf proxy to view it. What gives…??

Regards, WB
ENDS

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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Hi Blog.  With the rerelease of an article I wrote last year (I am reading all my old articles in order for the Debito.org 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.

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

EIDO INOUE WRITES:

There has been a lot of concern these days about the inclusion use of NFC (near field communications) technology, which is a type of RFID (radio frequency identification), being included in the successor to the Japanese ARC (alien registration card), the 在留カード {zairyū kādo} (non-Japanese residence card). In this comment, I’ve summed up, per Debito’s request, some of the back and forth Q&A that has been occurring on other blogs:

Q: What sort of wireless technology is in these new cards? Is it reliable? Is it proven?
A: The card’s IC chip will use JIS X 6322 type B standards, which is basically the Japanese translation of ISO 14443 type B standards. This is the exact same international standard used for both Japanese and overseas e-passports, as well as Japanese driver’s licenses and the 住基カード {jūki kādo} (Japanese citizen residency card).

Q: What will be inside these chips?
A: The same information that’s printed outside the card:
* full passport/English legal name, date of birth, sex, nationality & domicile/state/locale
* resident address in Japan
* [visa] status, and status length / expiration date
* visa status grant date
* residency card number and expiration/renewal date
* work restrictions, if any
* any permitted activities outside of visa status
* color photograph

Special Permanent Residents, however, will only have the following on their cards:
* full passport/English legal name, date of birth, sex, nationality & domicile/state/locale
* resident address in Japan
* special permanent resident number and renewal date
* color photograph

Technically speaking, the 在留カード {zairyū kādo} (non-Japanese residence card) will be called and labeled as a 特別永住者証明書 {tokubetsu eijūsha shōmeisho} (Special Permanent Resident Identification [Card]) for people with this status.

[ the only thing that will not be on the chip but on the outside of the card will be the Ministry of Justice’s seal. Note that there’s much less information on this card than the ARC: no passport info, head of household, employer, etc. ]

Non-Japanese that have kanji names with their governments will have the kanji on the cards. In the case that the kanji is Chinese Simplified or Traditional and can’t be represented with using Japanese character sets, it will be converted to Japanese form.

[it was not clear from the literature I read what characters were permitted and what were not and what underlying character set encoding, such as JIS X 0208 or Unicode, would be used. It was also unclear to me from reading the literature as to whether non-Japansese without official government registered Kanji names, such as Japanese-Americans or those who just want a Kanji (or kana or hybrid) name, even if it’s 当て字 {ateji}]

Customs/airport officials plan to register / use the alphabet passport form and not the Kanji [even if it’s Japanese] form of the name as inputting / copying the kanji name takes too much time.

Unlike the previous ARC cards, there is no plan to list aliases (either katakana or kanji).

[It does not say how non-Japanese, who have Japanese aliases for anti-discrimination or other purposes, will prove what their registered legal alias is]

Years on the card will be specified in Western (ex. 2010) system, not Japanese (ex. H.22 or 平成22) system. Dates will be in Y M D order, and the fields will be labeled [so you know which is the month and which is the date]. Sex will be specified with a “M” or “F” [as opposed to 「男」, 「女」, 「♂」, or 「♀」].

[This should make the card more comprehensible to non-Japanese officials if you attempt to use it as ID overseas]

If a full name is too long for one line, it will be broken into multiple lines.

[better than the ARC and the Japanese driver’s license, which continued long (ie. Brazilian) names onto the back of the card]

Q: If the information inside the chips is the same as the information written on the outside of the card, what’s the point?
A: Three main points:

1. reduction of data entry errors (no hand copying the info from the card to some other system)
2. speed of processing (depends on the operator, processes, & hardware/software implementation)
3. [primary official reason] preventing the creation of completely bogus identifications using high tech printing, copying and manufacturing technology that is available to even amateurs today.

The info on the chip is digitally “signed” (a certificate validating that no information has been added, changed, or deleted) using PKCS (public-key cryptography standards). So long as the signing key is kept secure by the government, it’s mathematically impossible to recreate a government’s digital signature/certificate associated with a bogus identity. Now, you can clone (that is, copy the certificate along with the entire ID, including the photograph, without adding or removing anything) a digital ID. But that’s not the purpose of the certificate. The signature prevents somebody from creating a bogus ID from scratch. These days, thanks (?) to advances in technology accessibility, most professional and even some amateur forgers can create a phony identity card (“Taro McLovin”), mimicking holograms, blacklight ink, microprint, etc., that is so good it can fool a professional trained inspector.

But even the most powerful governments in the word have yet to break the modern strength digital signature/certificate algorithms — because the best mathematicians, working for the best spook agencies (NIST, NSA) in the world, created the system based on principles of impossible to solve quickly mathematics (ie. using ultra large prime numbers), then publicized all their work to have it checked by the other best mathematicians in the world. Based on what mathematicians have known for literally thousands of years, and taking into account the current state of Moore’s Law, the crypto should theoretically be safe from brute force attack for literally eternity. Where things fail is due to errors in implementing the algorithms, or theft/discovery of the secret keys, not in the algorithms themselves.

Anyway, for IDs with digital signature certificates, the forger is going to have no choice but to clone, in its entirety, somebody’s existing digital ID when they make a fake ID. Which means they’re going to have to look an awful lot like the person whose identity they stole because the picture data is calculated with the certificate’s hash. Plus they’re going to have to hope that the identity theft victim didn’t report the ID as stolen / lost or that the victim unknowingly had their ID scanned in a place that would be logically impossible for a followup scan of the cloned card. For example, a digital ID gets scanned in Hokkaidō, then the exact same digital ID with the same serial number gets scanned by another police officer in Fukuoka 5 minutes later; a computer will pick up on that.

Now, if there’s a fingerprint encoded in the chip (which is not the case for Japanese passports or the 在留カード {zairyū kādo} but is true for new European passports) and digitally signed, then even if the fraudster looks like the victim in the digitally signed photograph, they’re out of luck. They can’t remove or change the fingerprint without invalidating the certificate.

Q: Can a civilian or official read my card from a distance?
A: Extremely doubtful. The way the cards work is that while they have no power source of there own; they are powered by a minute amount of power they induce from their radio frequency for no more than a fraction of a second, and this power gives them the strength to produce a very faint signal that can only be practically read reliably by another device that’s less than four or 5cm away. The chips contain power regulators, so even if you send an extra strong signal to the chip in an effort to give the chip more power to work with, it does not produce a stronger return signal.

This is why you can see a lineup of Suica/Pasmo/Icoca/PiTaPa electronic wicket gates in a train station: the radio waves produced by those gates, which are no more than a meter apart, are so faint that each gate can’t hear and interfere with the radio waves being produced by the gates right next to it.

The maximum field range of a ISO 14443 device is less than 10cm. The maximum range that professionals have managed to get out of a ISO 14443 device in a laboratory (meaning neither the card or the reader can move for a long time, the room’s air is shielded from radio noise, and the lab’s using a very nonstandard reader) is 20cm: the length from the tip of your little finger to the tip of your thumb on an average outstretched hand.

Because the return signal from the chip inside the card is constant no matter how how power you throw at it, the only way you’re going to increase the range is by using a larger antenna. But even then there are limits, as the signal is so weak that it’s literally drowned out by the radio noise that permeates the real world.

Some professionals have speculated that, given a large enough (a very non-portable antenna; it would need to be mounted and not hand held), it is possible to increase the maximum range of ISO 14443, in a laboratory (not real world) setting, to 50cm: the length from your wrist to your elbow.

Anything longer than 20cm is suspect; anything longer than 50cm is science fiction, in my opinion.

Q: Could a crowd of people (assuming they’re in range of a reader), or even a whole bag of cards, be scanned en mass?
A: Even if it was possible to read ISO 14443 cards from a distance, ISO 14443 is designed to only work with one card at a time. It is not possible to have one reader read multiple cards, have many readers read one card, or have many readers read many cards.

It’s a matter of laws of physics (two signals being in the exact same frequency) and the way the devices were designed. Mobile phones, Bluetooth, and WiFi have very sophisticated and complicated protocols to allow them to share and operate and be individually addressed in a range of airspace, jumping and across (sometimes thousands) of frequencies and channels, sometimes using more than one simultaneously, in an elaborate cooperative ballet to prevent two devices from using the exact same airspace at the same time.

ISO 14443, on the other hand, not only doesn’t have these protocols, but in fact was specifically designed to not share airspace with anything else. There are specific fail-safe parts of the protocol that are designed to make the card/reader shut down, back out, and shut up if it detects something else using its airspace for safety/reliability reasons. It also has safety procedures to handle cases where it doesn’t have enough power or a good enough signal to complete a transaction: Everyone knows it’s futile to try to yank away your payment card or try to swipe your card for only a split second in an effort to fool the vending machine into making a transaction without having your balance debited.

If you’ve ever had two Suica Cards and/or a Japanese driver’s license in the same wallet, you know that the readers will refuse to work or will only work with one card. Again, this is not just a limitation of the technology, it is by design.

Q: But what if somehow somebody comes up with way that allows for eavesdropping of a card talking to a reader (from afar or near)? Am I safe?
A: Some people on the Internet have claimed even farther ranges than what we mentioned above: such as detecting the presence of a signal at 20 meters and actually discerning the digital bits at 10 meters. None of these claims have been independently confirmed or verified, and even if we give them the benefit of the doubt and believe for the sake of argument that it’s possible, nobody has shown they can break the cryptography gleaned from real devices in the field in real world situations.

To an eavesdropper, most ISO 14443 cards “sound alike.” This means they all — be it your e-passport or your U.S. Passport Card or your Japanese driver’s license or your FeLiCa based Suica/Pasmo/Icoca/PiTaPa or your PayPass credit card or your Japanese Taspo tobacco age-verification card — talk on the same frequency (13.56 Mhz). Furthermore, the transaction that occurs between the reader and the card is encrypted, so even if a bad person had such a clear signal that they were able to discern the individual digital bits going back-and-forth between the reader and card, it would be useless for determining the payload or even the type of card being used in most cases.

Thus, just because the card, either in your hand or concealed in a wallet, of you or the person next to you is or isn’t “ squawking” and you are or are not doesn’t mean somebody can figure out that “that person is a foreigner and that person is not” due to the presence or absence of a 13.56 Mhz encrypted squawk. That squawk could be anything, from a Japanese passport to a London train commuter Oyster Card.

NOTE: Some security journals have speculated that it may be possible to perform literally a “man-in-the-middle” attack in some cases. This means putting something physically between (the 10cm) space of air between the card and the reader that is big enough to ensure that the reader and card can’t hear each other; the bad spy device acts as a “relay” between the legit card and reader. So when you swipe, you should be absolutely sure you’re swiping the real legit reader and not something placed directly on top of it.

Q: Even if they can’t read the contents of my card, can a civilian or official detect that I’m in possession (or that I’m not in possession) of a 在留カード {zairyū kādo} (non-Japanese residence card) without my knowledge?
A: No. The reason for this in answered both in the previous question and the following question. You could easily fool an eavesdropper into thinking you swiped any arbitrary ISO 14443 Type B card that uses encryption by simply using another, completely different and unrelated ISO 14443 Type B card. You could purchase and carry your own battery powered USB portable [dummy] reader in a purse or bag, for example.

Q: Can a civilian or official read my card without my knowledge if they’re very near or next to me?
A: Japanese [and U.S. and E.U., but not all countries] e-passports, and yes, the new 在留カード {zairyū kādo} (non-Japanese residence card) have BAC (basic access control).

This means you have to know some piece of information that’s either on the card or in your head to read it.

Even if somebody manages to covertly (say, on a crowded train or bus) get a portable skimmer close enough [less than 10cm] to your back pocket, purse, bag, or briefcase to pick up your card, they still need to know some things that are on the card in order to read it.

NOTE: Not all NFC cards and RFID use this extra access control and/or encryption. So you don’t want to carry all your cards unprotected / unshielded in your back pocket. It is possible to obtain special, practical shielded slips for ISO 14443 based technology (tin foil hats sold separately). Some ISO 14443 technology (such as many, including Japanese, passports) already include a shielding envelope or technology integrated into the device. However, the presence of the shielding does not mean that the shielding is the last or only or even best line of defense against skimming; it is merely one component in a suite of many security components for the passport & residency card, already built-in by design, that would have to be compromised. To stay on topic, the NFC cards which are the discussion of the Q&A, such as Japanese passport, driver’s license, and yes, the 在留カード {zairyū kādo} (non-Japanese residence card), do implement and enforce BAC in addition to encrypting their point-to-point sessions with the readers.

Q: Can private enterprises read the IC chip?
A: Yes. The MoJ [Ministry of Justice] plans to publish the specifications for reading information from the card. However, they can’t override BAC (see above) which means a private enterprise would not be able to read your card without your knowledge.

[ This is interesting. The literature I have specifically mentions that society, especially financial institutions and mobile phone companies, needs a reliable domestic photo id for non-Japanese residents. ]

Q: What if the chip isn’t working? What if the private enterprise doesn’t have a reader? Is there an alternative electronic way to verify the card without the chip? Will I be hauled off to the police box if my chip isn’t working?
A: The MoJ [Ministry of Justice] is also going to make a website available for checking cards (which presumably could be accessed by even mobile phone browsers). The website will accept the card’s number and one other piece of information from the card to prevent people from randomly guessing 在留カード {zairyū kādo} (non-Japanese residence card) numbers. The literature suggests that this extra information be the card renewal/expiration date.

Upon submitting the number, the website will simply return 有効 {yūkō} (valid) or 失効 {shikkō} (invalid). To protect private information, no other information (such as name, date of birth, nationality, visa status, etc.) will be returned.

ENDS

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

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO (donning his tinfoil hat):

One conflict I always notice from my side of the spectrum is the inherent mistrust of scientists — when they claim a new technology, open to all manner of theoretical abuses, is “safe”.  This is the same camp that tends to blame the scientists on the Manhattan Project for opening Pandora’s Box with The Bomb.

Continuing in that vein in an attempt to contrapose aarguments to Eido’s research above, a whole bunch of “what ifs” and “whys” that are not all that unreasonable quickly come to mind:

1) WHAT IF the sacred encryption keys get cracked or leaked somehowCan happen quite easily, if not in part due to government error, see here.  And hackers are forever getting increasingly sophisticated.  It’s hard to imagine the “eternity” scenario in a place when it’s techie vs. techie, and one is but a few steps ahead of the other.  The risk is too great — once the door is open, identity theft becomes possible.

2) WHAT IF the realm of “science fiction” becomes “science fact”? We once thought manned flight (with or without gravity), or portable computers, or even gigabytes of data stored in tiny places were impossible, but technology, again, has a habit of catching up and deleting the “im” prefix.  Encryption notwithstanding, decrypting computers are getting faster and smarter all the time.

3) WHY are foreigners only required to be IDed by private businesses (last two Qs above)?  Actually, I can answer that one.  Because the NPA feels the irrepressible need to track people that could commit crime.  And because they can’t do that to Japanese citizens due to the outrage — witness the flop of the Juuki Netto system.  People just don’t want to be forced to carry ID in this society, much less tracked by it.  It’s just happening to foreigners because they can’t stop it.  And it increases the Japanese police’s power by deputizing the private sector.  This is just common sense — give the police anywhere in the world extra power, and they will feel fully justified in using it to accomplish their goals until they’re told they’ve gone too far (and in Japan, they insufficiently are).

4) WHY is that same private sector now advertising preventative measures against RFID technology? Check this out — a scan-proof pouch for your valuables now on sale in travel shops in Japan (seen because I went and renewed my passport on Tuesday):

Unless this is Snake Oil (and Eido himself points out that non-contact scanning is possible), how do we deal with this?  By saying that the distance is too small or the definition of the signal is too vague to matter?  Again, I will raise the technology argument to say that once the leap is possible, it’s only a matter of degree.  This may be tinfoil-hat-ism, but to me it’s like saying, “Don’t worry about The Bomb; if there is fallout from an unlikely attack, there are anti-radiation pills you can take.”  Sorry, I don’t believe in having to put the Genie back in the Bottle.  Especially since the reasons for this measure are less a technological inevitability than a political necessity (i.e., tightened policing of the only people you can police this way, since society in general wouldn’t dare accept it).  If this is scary enough to the general public for it to be used as a preventative marketing ploy, then the foreigners should also count as members of the general public who are entitled to be scared.  Just fobbing it off on a “it probably won’t happen” “eternity scenario” ignores the political realities behind these moves.

Alright, I’ll stop there.  Let’s have a discussion.  Arudou Debito

ENDS

CJFF: Immigration raids Filipino family home, husband has heart attack

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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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CJFF writes:

October 21, 2010

For press/blog release…

Afternoon of October 13, 2010 immigration officers questioned Victor de la Cruz in his work site at Gako Ishikaya located at the basement of Tokyo’s Shimbashi station of JR line. The immigration officer is asking if he and his wife, Susan Lubos de la Cruz who is an employee of an African embassy and Victor as her dependent are real husband and wife. There is no established case and Victor went home afterwards.

Today, October 20, 2010 at around 11:30 a.m. the immigration officers went to the home of Mr. and Mrs. de la Cruz in Meguro-ku and Victor was alone in the house. Later an immigration officer who gave his name as Mr. Kato of Shinjuku immigration with telephone number 03 5155 0496 called Susan, the wife of Victor, informing that they, the immigration officers, sent Victor to the National Organization Tokyo Medical Center at around 1:00 p.m. Victor suffered heart attack and in comatose given a 10-20 % chance to live by the doctor as of this writing (October 20, 2010, 11:50 pm).

Susan learned that her husband heart have stopped beating for an hour before Victor was sent to the hospital. Upon arriving home, Susan found all of their things and belonging are scattered and she also learned from the immigration officers that they went to their house to look for evidence if their marriage is real or not.

The fact is Victor and Susan have been married since 1989 or 21 years now and have been living together in the same house in the past 15 years in Japan. Susan and Victor have three children.

Susan, a member of Gabriela-Japan, a chapter of the Philippine national women organization Gabriela with 2 seats in the Philippine House of Representatives, is asking her organization for legal assistance and possibly to question the Immigration Bureau about the legality of their actions. Nobody knows what transpired and what kind of treatment, pressure, or intimidation or whatever the immigration officer employed to make Victor to suffer from heart attack. Susan is also doubtful about the legality of the immigration officers’ action in raiding her house.

The Gabriela-Japan, together with its Philippine national chapter Gabriela Philippines and its parliament representatives in the Philippine House of Representatives, is launching the JUSTICE FOR VICTOR AND TO ALL FOREIGN MIGRANTS VICTIMS OF UNJUST ACT OF AUTHORITIES, ABUSE OF POWER AND MALTREATMENT. The campaign network will seek to unite various groups and individuals to push for legal actions in demanding the Ministry of Justice and legal courts to rule on the legalities on handling the Victor case.

The Justice for Victor Campaign Network is calling on all foreign migrants support groups and justice loving people of Japan to joint the cause. As initial move, we are asking all the network supporters to make a barrage of inquiry to the Justice Ministry regarding their knowledge about the Victor case and to register our strongest protest against excessive use of power of immigration officials in raiding foreign migrants suspects that cause the sufferings and being in state of comatose of Victor at present.

For all interested parties to join the Justice for Victor Campaign Network please send an email to sa_ryo AT hotmail DOT com

Justice for Victor and to all foreign migrants victims of authorities excessive abuse of power!

Cesar V. Santoyo
Mission Director, Center for Japanese-Filipino Families (CJFF)

http://home.att.ne.jp/banana/cjff/homepage.htm
ENDS

“Pinprick Protests”: Chand Bakshi fights back against “NJ ID Checkpoint” hotel, gets apology

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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. Here is a report from Chand Bakshi on how he called “basta” to a hotel that was racially profiling its customers, demanding all visually-looking NJ submit to an ID check and copy — claiming erroneously that this was required by law. Chand followed up on this to the point where he got capitulation and an apology. Well done.

This is actually pretty effective. The hotel I usually stay at in Tokyo has on various occasions (depending on how I was dressed) tried to Gaijin Card me too. I told them (and later followed up with an explanation to the management) that this only applied to tourists; NJ with Japanese addresses are not required to show ID. Of course, that’s not what the NPA would have hotels believe — they have explicitly instructed hotels to inspect and photocopy ID of ALL NJ. Which is why we must fight back against this invitation to racial profiling, as Chand has below.

In my case, my Tokyo hotel yesterday asked me if I had a domestic address upon check-in (which I’m fine with). I pointed to my name on the check-in card and said, check your records — I’m not only a Japanese, but also a frequent customer. Got a deep apology. But at least now my hotel chain is more sophisticated in its approach.

Read on for Chand’s report. Thanks Chand. Arudou Debito in Tokyo

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

October 7, 2010

Dear Debito,

I’d like to share a recent experience I had with a hotel that was discriminating against NJ and it’s somewhat positive outcome.

I live in Kyushu and took a trip to Nagasaki with a Japanese friend; we decided to stay at the Richmond Hotel in Nagasaki. It’s one of a countrywide chain.

http://www.richmondhotel.jp/en/nagasaki/index.php

When we checked in the staff asked for my passport or gaijin card. Now, since living in Japan I’ve had my share of bad hotel experiences, refused service etc, but I tend not to get too upset when asked for my gaijin card as I realize its often a communication error and what the staff really want is any ID from all customers and they just presume NJ are unlikely to have Japanese driving licenses etc. So I offered the staff my Japanese driving license instead. However they wouldn’t accept it. They wanted a gaijin card or passport only. I explained to them that as a resident of Japan it wasn’t required that I show my gaijin card to a hotel and any ID should suffice. They continued to insist I had to give them my gaijin card and I refused. I brought up the topic of discrimination and the staff seemed to have an automatic English response,

‘It is not discrimination, it is required by law, please understand.’

Finally they accepted my driving license, as ID and all seemed ok, check in completed they handed over our keys and wished us a happy stay. I then realized they hadn’t asked my Japanese friend for any ID. I asked them why they hadn’t checked my friend. Their reply was ‘only gaikokujin need to show ID, please understand.”

I started telling them off again much to the embarrassment of my Japanese friend, a supervisor came and said rudely the now all too familiar line. ‘It is not discrimination, it is required by law, please understand’

I asked what law, and was told ‘the Ryokan Gyouhou, please understand it is not discrimination.’

As an avid debito.org reader I was pretty sure this was incorrect, but there was the chance the law had changed and more importantly my Japanese friend was becoming frustrated/embarrassed and wanted to get on with sightseeing so I let the issue drop.

When I returned home I check with Debito that the Ryokan Gyouhou hadn’t changed and contacted the hotel again via telephone.

I got explained my unhappiness to various staff who where much more friendly over the phone than they had been in person. The lobby staff still kept saying it was required by law, but when I asked them if they had actually read the Gyouhou as I had they passed me up the management chain.

Finally I got to a lady who told me it wasn’t actually the law but was in fact a request from the Nagasaki police, she listened to my concerns that I basically summarized as:

* NJ are particularly sensitive to discrimination in hotels as we are sometimes refused service.

*NJ aren’t required by law to give their gaijin cards to hotel staff, they should ask for ID only, insisting on the gaijin card could be discrimination and ideally the word ‘gaijin card’ should never come out of hotel staff’s mouths.

* Requiring ID from NJ and not Japanese is discrimination, no argument about it.

*Its racial profiling as my children could look NJ despite holding Japanese citizenship. And why wasn’t my Japanese friend checked in case they were Zainichi Korean as they too hold gaijin cards.

*If they’re collecting this data on NJ what is being done with it?

She said she understood, and that they were just following the police’s instructions. Nothing was done with the copies of the IDs and they were shredded after a month.

I told her as the copy of my ID had been copied under a discriminatory policy I would like it returned to me.

The lady said she couldn’t approve that but would get her boss to call me in a few days.

A few days later the manager, a Mr. Motoyama contacted me, he was very apologetic. They said that they were sorry they had offended me, and they would return the copy of my ID.

I told him I was concerned that this was going to happen again and what was their hotel was going to do about it. Mr. Motoyama said he would inform head office of the error and in his own hotel advise the staff to follow the Gyomhou not the instructions of the police and that this shouldn’t happen again.

I asked him if this was because of the 2005 memo. (previously discussed on debito.org at http://www.debito.org/japantimes101805.html and www.debito.org/newhotelpassportlaw.jpg)

However Mr. Motoyama informed me that the police had asked for the information to be collected in 2007 when they visited the hotel in person.

They had been collecting copies of all ‘gaijin’s ‘ cards since then but hadn’t actually been passing them to the police, just shredding them after a month.

A few days later the copy of my ID and an apology letter arrived in the post. (see JPEG attached.)

So this all had a fairly satisfactory outcome, however it’s frustrating to constantly have hassle when traveling. Here the hotel staff were just being stupid. They had an automatic English response ready with their ‘It is not discrimination, it is the law please understand.” so, they must’ve been getting complaints fairly regularly. They should’ve read the Ryokan Gyouhou.

But the real culprits here are the police, I can understand how a Japanese might be tempted to follow instructions from the police without checking first if it was the law or not. Now I haven’t contacted the police (yet), but this hotel problem isn’t going to be solved one hotel at a time or even one police station at a time. It needs sorting out once and for all and I think we can do it.

We need to create some kind of guide/pamphlet/oshirase explaining the law. Maybe use some cute characters, ‘anti-sabetsu chan or something’. Then we need to get it to every hotel in the country.

So if anyone wants to help out with this project over the next few months, has some ideas, or contacts, especially with how to distribute any notices we make to literally 1000’s of hotels drop me a line at my email address:

chandbakshi AT gmail DOT com

To avoid the spam filters mark it ‘hotels’ or something. I’ll look forward to hearing from people.
Chand
ENDS

Sendaiben and MB on Narita Airport again, this time both before and after entry

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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. Have just finished giving a presentation and partaking in a PhD workshop at the University of British Columbia (getting ready for those sucked all the time out of blogging, sorry). But we have some updates to some recent posts on how Immigration (and extensions thereof) is treating people crossing borders and afterwards. Sendaiben and MB comment:

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

September 29, 2010
From Sendaiben:

Just came back through Narita and gave my usual calm and friendly rant to the immigration officer (she wasn’t particularly impressed -got a very curt “if you don’t comply you can’t come in”). Fair enough.

I then had a thought. The re-entry permit holder line anywhere I’ve been has been by far the shortest. I have never had to wait more than a minute or so, unlike the Japanese citizens who often have long lines (and let’s not talk about the tourist lines, which are often pretty bad). I can also take my family through with me (even though they have Japanese passports) and save them time standing in line too.

If you think of the re-entry line as a VIP line that requires additional security (fingerprints), does that not make the whole thing easier to swallow? After all, it’s not such a big deal, is it? It’s not worth getting het up about every single time we come back into the country, is it?

Sadly, that doesn’t work for me, however much I would like it to. I really dislike the policy, which seems pointless and needlessly offensive to me.

I will keep complaining, although I make sure I do so in a calm and friendly manner (the immigration officers on the desks didn’t make the rules, so there is no point being hostile to them). However, as public servants, they should know how the public feels about the policies they carry out: thus it is my right to talk about it in a calm and reasonable way 😉

Ironically it is this more than anything else which is pushing me to naturalize: I don’t need the grief every time I come home. What does everyone else think?

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

MB adds what happens once within the pale:

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

July 14, 2010
From MB:

It seems that Narita cops still practice racial profiling even after all the protests lodged at their office in Narita…this is sad because it shows we foreigners count like zero.

I frequently use Narita and to say the truth this was the first time I saw this bad practice at work. Hearsay is one thing, seeing something with your eyes is very different and I have to be honest to say that I got angry.

In the open space just before the Narita Express entrance two policemen
had stopped two people and were asking them various things.

Those two people of course were also showing their passports. They were foreigners. At that point I took one picture. I thought to myself, “Well, they will also stop Japanese….”. So I purposedly waited nearby to see what the two cops would do next.

When I saw that the next people they stopped were foreigners too I began to feel angry. Welcome to Japan.

Then, after these two people the policemen stopped another couple of…. foreigners.

All of this lasted like 30 minutes and they only stopped foreigners (all white, no asians etc.).

I also walked around to see if they stopped me but they didn’t. Maybe I look “mendokusai” ? One of the two cops looked at me after I was staring him for a long time but he didn’t make any move. The pattern I noticed is:

Target:
– white only
– two people for two cops
– tourist looking type
– normal looking person (with this I mean
those people they stopped were not really “suspicious” looking !!)

The cops always asked for:
– passports
and, this is interesting, I also noticed that in all three cases they talked to their targets for a while, THEN, when they were about to let them go, they asked again, casually, for some last thing (which I couldn’t hear). I am curious to know what it was…

The pattern was something like: “Thanks, now you may go. (then with a surprised face) Ah…I forgot to ask….”

I really do hope they also start stopping anybody not only practice dummies. This practice doesn’t make me feel safer at all, instead it makes me think of all those people that just pass through Narita without any fear to be stopped by these robo-cops.

ENDS

Sendaiben digs deeper on those Narita Airport racially-profiling Instant NPA Checkpoints

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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. Just got this this morning from friend Sendaiben, about his latest experience with Narita Cops and their racially-profiling ways. Self explanatory, looks like the J-cops are getting free training at the expense of NJ bystanders for being visible while foreign. Have a read. More on this topic previously on Debito.org here. Debito

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

From: Sendaiben
Date: September 5, 2010

Flying out of Narita on September 5th, I had a few hours to kill after connecting from Sendai. I was alone, reading on a bench in the restaurant area. After about 20 minutes, a young and very pleasant policeman came up and asked to see my passport in passable English. I replied in Japanese, and we had an interesting conversation. Unfortunately I was mentally unprepared for all of this, so gave him my passport from which he noted down all the details. I refused to provide a contact phone number, however.

I have to emphasise that he was very pleasant throughout, and we had a friendly conversation. He was from Akita, seconded to Narita for two years (it seems the Narita police are drawn from all over the country). I mentioned several times that as a long-term resident I loved Japan but was uncomfortable being singled out for special attention like this due to my appearance. He sympathised and said that it also made him uncomfortable.

Some important points:

1. It seems that the whole exercise is voluntary, something he mentioned when I refused to provide the phone number.

2. I reminded him of the law on the management of personal information, but he was unable to tell me why they needed my passport details or how long they would be kept on file.

3. He claimed it was a random check but that they asked ‘people who seemed foreign’. I asked him to ask some Asian people next, and he said he would 🙂

The whole thing seemed like a training exercise, down to the silent sempai observing from ten metres away.

The most important thing I got out of this is that these checks may well be voluntary. I am therefore going to refuse (politely) to cooperate next time, and see what happens. I guess in a worst-case scenario they could ask to check my ARC, but I would then not allow them to write anything down.

ENDS

More racism in NPA police posters, this time Kanagawa Ken Yamate police and big-nosed “int’l NJ crime groups”. (UPDATE: Contrast with same Kanagawa Police site in English: “we patrol community hoping smiles of residents never vanish.” Retch.)

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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. For a nice bite-size Sunday post, dovetailing with yesterday’s post on the NPA’s whipping up fear of foreign crime gangs, here we have the Kanagawa Police offering us a poster with racist caricatures of NJ, and more minced language to enlist the public in its Gaijin Hunt. Check this out:

(Click on image to expand in browser.)
From http://www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/ps/32ps/32pic/32004_47.pdf, courtesy lots of people.

Now let’s analyze this booger. In the same style of fearmongering and racist police posters in the past (see for example here, here, here, and here), we have the standard NJ conks and wily faces. Along with a crime gang stealing from a jewelry store (nothing like getting one’s hands dirty, unlike all the white-collar homegrown yakuza crime we see fewer posters about).

The poster opens with employers being told to check Status of Residences of all the NJ they employ. Of course, employers who employ NJ usually sponsor them for a visa, so this warning shouldn’t be necessary. I guess it’s nicer than warning the employer that if they do employ overstayers, the employer should also be punished. But again, we hear little about that. It’s the NJ who is the wily party, after all.

Then we get the odd warning about overstayers (they say these are lots of “rainichi gaikokujin”, which is not made clear except in fine print elsewhere that they don’t mean the garden-variety NJ) and their links to “international crime groups” (although I haven’t seen convincing statistics on how they are linked). Then they hedge their language by saying “omowaremasu” (it is thought that…), meaning they don’t need statistics at all. It’s obviously a common perception that it’s “recently getting worse” (kin’nen shinkoku ka).

Next paragraph offers the standard “threat to Japanese social order” (chi’an) presented by visa overstayers and illegal workers (even though overstayers have gone down steadily since 1993), and asks for the public’s assistance.

Then it brings in the heroic Kanagawa Police, and how they will be strengthening their controls over these big-hootered shifty-eyed NJ from now on, and asks for anyone with information about illegal NJ to drop by any cop shop or police box (even though police boxes I’ve reported unlawful activities to have told me to take my crimes elsewhere; I guess NJ criminality is a higher priority).

Finally, we have the places to contact within the Kanagawa Police Department. We now have a special “international crime” head (kokusai han kakari), a “economic security” head (keizai hoan kakari), and a “gaiji kakari“, whatever that is shortened for (surely not “gaikokujin hanzai jiken“, or “foreign crime incidents”). Such proactiveness on the part of the NPA. I hope they sponsor a “sumo-yakuza tobaku kakari” soon.

Anyone else getting the feeling that the NPA is a law unto itself, doing whatever it likes in the purported pursuit of criminals, even if that means racial profiling, social othering of taxpayers and random enforcement of laws based upon nationality (even a death in police custody with impunity), and manufacturing consent to link crime with nationality?

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UPDATE:  Compare and contrast with the English version of PR for the same police department, courtesy of crustpunker:

http://www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/eng/eng_idx.htm

Not only is it a disingenuous lie, its contents are utterly banal.  And since I can’t find the gaiji kakari under “Section Information” in English, so I doubt the overall accuracy as well.

This is linked from this even nastier Kanagawa Police site regarding NJ:

http://www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/mes/mese2001.htm

我が国に向けられる諸外国からの有害活動は、様々な形で活発に展開されています。平成17年と18年には、在日ロシア情報機関員が民間企業の技術者をターゲットとして先端科学技術を違法に入手していた事件を摘発しています。また、平成20年には、国際原子力機関(IAEA)が、北朝鮮の核処理施設における視察をした際、日本製の真空排気装置を発見したことを端緒に捜査を開始し、台湾経由による北朝鮮向け真空ポンプ等の不正輸出事件を摘発しました。

ここでは、これら対日有害活動の一部を紹介し、我が国の国益を害する不法行為に関する 情報提供をお願いしています。
rest at above website

ENDS

Saturday Tangent: How the US deals with Arizona racial profiling: Federal lawsuits and Jon Stewart humor

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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. We’ve recently been discussing racial profiling on this blog, comparing what’s happening in Arizona with new immigration laws vs what goes on as SOP in Japanese police law enforcement and gaijin harassment.

What’s interesting for me is how the US deals with it: They actually discuss it. First watch this Jon Stewart Daily Show excerpt (courtesy of Dave Spector) on the subject and then we’ll woolgather:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Latino 911!
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

So let’s recount the important differences apparent in this video:

1) In the US, they have not only a presidential administration making clear statements against racial profiling, but also a judiciary filing federal suit against errant state policy that would condone that. Imagine either of those happening in Japan.

2) In the US, the voices of minorities are actually being heard — and listened to — somewhere. Imagine THAT happening in Japan!

3) In the US, police training materials and the actual text of law enforcement are coming under scrutiny! Imagine… oh you get the idea.

4) In the US, they have things such as satire and sarcasm to enable people to take this apart with the very powerful tool of humor, and an investigative media that can hold people accountable for what they say and do! (God bless the Daily Show!)

These are some things that societies with healthier civil societies have at their disposal for analysis and debate.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

NYT guest column on racial profiling of Japanese for “looking too tall and dark”. Just like arrest of “foreign-looking” Japanese back in 2006.

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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. Here we have a good opinion piece in the NYT (the overseas paper the GOJ takes most seriously) from a Japanese (not a NJ, so there’s no possible excuse of a “cultural misunderstanding”) who looks suspicious to Japanese police simply because she is taller and darker than average. So she gets zapped for racial profiling (a word, as she acknowledges, is not in common currency in nihongo). Well, good thing she didn’t get arrested for looking “too foreign” and not having a Gaijin Card, which happened back in February 2006 (article enclosed below).

As I have said on numerous occasions, racial profiling by the NPA is a serious problem, as it will increasingly single out and multiethnic Japanese as well. I am waiting one day to get leaked a copy of the NPA police training manuals (not available to the public) which cover this sort of activity and scrutinize them for latent racist attitudes (we’ve already seen plenty of other racism in print by the Japanese police, see for example here, here, and here). But scrutiny is one thing the NPA consistently avoids. So this is what happens — and victims have to take it to outside media to get any attention. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Too Tall for Japan?
The New York Times, July 8, 2010, Courtesy lots of people
By KUMIKO MAKIHARA

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/08/opinion/08iht-edkumiko.html?_r=1&hpw

TOKYO — Racial profiling had never struck me as a personal issue. I am a Japanese woman living in Japan after all, where less than 2 percent of the population is foreign. And even among that sliver of a share, the majority is Asian. How could racial profiling exist if most everyone looks the same?

I was awakened from such naïveté a few years ago when I started getting pulled aside by police, apparently to see if I was an illegal immigrant. On three occasions, officers sidled up to me at busy train stations, flashing their badges and asking me where I was headed. When they concluded I was a Japanese national, they sent me on my way.

Earlier this year, two officers approached me as I was exiting Tokyo Station and asked to see an ID and the contents of my purse. I refused their repeated requests while demanding an explanation until one of the officers finally told me, “You are tall and dark-colored and look like a foreigner.” He then added, “Every day we catch four to five overstays this way,” referring to immigrants with expired visas.

I was stunned by the officer’s blatant profiling of me based on what I perceive as my only slightly unusual features: a bit taller than average height and a shade of a sun tan. But microscopic vision for sniffing out differences is a common trait among the Japanese who are often uncomfortable with dealings outside of their familiar zones.

The officers who approached me on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant were presumably acting on Japan’s Police Duties Execution Law. It states: “A police officer may stop and question any person who has reasonable ground to be suspected of having committed or being about to commit a crime.”

The Japanese law is broader than the controversial legislation in the U.S. state of Arizona that goes into effect this month, which allows police to confirm someone’s immigration status only after stopping the person on other grounds. “The same thing as in Arizona has been in place in Japan for a long time without much criticism,” says my cousin and lawyer Genichi Yamaguchi.

Most Japanese are unaware of these racially motivated checks. But even if they knew about them, it is questionable how much they would object. Profiling is a common practice here with casual exchanging of personal information. The details collected from a business card or queries such as asking where one attended university or what blood type one is serve as clues to allow people to predict how each party will behave.

As a single parent who has lived overseas and is blood type A, I am stereotyped as hard-nosed enough to have decided to go it alone, blithe from surviving dealings with all sorts of people and having the seriousness attributed in popular beliefs here to people of my blood group.

Such typecasting takes on racist overtones when applied to foreigners. “Chinese don’t know train manners,” I overheard a man say recently in response to a Chinese woman talking loudly on her cellphone in the compartment. On a bus tour of the Western city of Nara, several Japanese passengers complained that the Filipinos aboard who had trouble keeping up with the rushed sightseeing pace “don’t understand ‘dantai kodo,”’ or group behavior. When one of the Filipinos went to the restroom, a Japanese woman grumbled that she should have held back in deference to the group schedule. Such intolerance — when the government is on a major campaign to increase tourism to the country, and just this month eased visa application requirements for Chinese visitors.

There are even disturbing signs that Japanese increasingly don’t want to bother trying to understand the unfamiliar territory beyond their borders. Only one student from Japan entered Harvard University’s freshman class last year, bringing the total number of full-time Japanese undergraduates to five, compared to a total of 36 from China and 42 from South Korea.

A 2007 Web-based survey by the Nomura Research Institute revealed a growing reluctance to live overseas among younger Japanese. While 33 percent of men and 23.9 percent of women in their 60s and older said they would have some aversion to either themselves or their spouses going to work overseas, the share of people with that sentiment reached 42.9 percent and 38.9 percent respectively for people in their 20s.

The next time a police officer stops me, I plan to explain that suspecting me of a crime simply because I look foreign constitutes racial profiling. Only there is no term for the practice in the Japanese language.

Kumiko Makihara is a writer and translator living in Tokyo.

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

This has happened before, only worse for the victim:

<誤認逮捕>旅券不携帯で逮捕の女性、実は日本人 埼玉

( 2006年02月28日 00時37分 )
毎日新聞社 Courtesy of Kaoru

埼玉県警川口署は27日、入管法違反容疑(旅券不携帯)で逮捕した女性(28)が実は同県川口市在住の日本人だったと分かり、釈放したと発表し た。女性が言葉を発せず、容姿などから外国人と判断したという。

同署によると、25日午後7時40分ごろ、川口市内の路上を歩いていた女性にパトロール中の署員3人が職務質問。署員は女性の容姿が東南アジア出 身者に似ており、名前や国籍を尋ねたところ、小さな声で「日本人です」と言ったきり何も話さなくなったため、署に任意同行した。女性は署でも日本語の質問 に対し無言を通したため、同署は「外国人」と判断。パスポートの不所持を確かめて同容疑で逮捕した。

女性は逮捕後に家族の名前を紙に書き、母親に確認すると娘と分かって誤認逮捕が判明した。母親は「娘は知らない人とは話をしない性格」と話してい たという。

金川智署長は「女性には大変迷惑をかけた。今後指導を徹底し、再発防止に努める」としている。【村上尊一】

Police erroneously arrest ‘Asian-looking’ Japanese woman on immigration law breach

Mainichi Shinbun Tuesday, February 28, 2006 at 07:01 EST

SAITAMA — The Saitama prefectural police on Monday arrested a Japanese woman on suspicion of violating the immigration law but later released her after discovering that she was a Japanese national, police officials said.

The police had judged that the unemployed woman, 28, was not Japanese because she looked like a foreigner of Asian descent and that she carried an envelope written in Portuguese, the officials said. The woman was questioned by a policeman around 7:40 p.m. on Saturday in Kawaguchi. She told the officer that she was Japanese, but stopped answering further questions, the officials said. The woman’s family said she is not good at speaking with strangers.

ENDS

Sunday Tangent: Racial profiling of immigrants becomes legal in Arizona. However, controversy ensues.

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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

Hi Blog.  I have been hearing word from several sources about the new draconian laws being enacted in Arizona to catch illegal migrant workers, including legally-sanctioned racial profiling, and stopping people on the street for ID checks.  Many have said that it seems Arizona has taken a page out of the GOJ’s handbook for dealing with NJ in Japan.  The difference, however, is that 1) the US dragnet is (necessarily) a coarser mesh (as Japanese authorities have a wider view of who doesn’t “look Japanese”, since anyone can “look American” and more sophistication is needed over there), and 2) it’s caused a level of controversy that has never happened in Japan (imagine street protests to this degree, even a J prime  minister denouncing it?).

I believe it’s only a matter of time (and it will take some time) before the Arizona authorities stop the wrong person on racial grounds, other American laws kick in to protect people against racial discrimination, and American courts rule this Arizona law unconstitutional.  Wait and see.

That just ain’t gonna happen in Japan for obvious reasons:  We ain’t got no legal sanctions against racial discrimination, let alone this degree of people caring for the human rights of foreigners.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Mark in Yayoi writes:

Hey Debito, a bill just signed in Arizona:

http://abcnews.go.com/WN/obama-arizona-immigration-bill-misguided/story?id=10457567

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

Arizona’s Gov. Brewer Signs Controversial Immigration Bill

Brewer Says Law is Necessary to Solve a ‘Crisis,’ But Obama Calls Bill ‘Misguided’

By DEVIN DWYER and HUMA KHAN

ABC NEWS April 23, 2010 — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a controversial immigration bill into law today that will give local law enforcement greater authority to ferret out and arrest illegal immigrants.

Immediately before signing the bill into law, Brewer said that the legislation “represents another tool for our state to use as we work to solve a crisis that we did not create and that the federal government refuses to fix.”

“We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act,” Brewer said. “But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.”

The bill takes effect in 90 days after the current legislative sessions over the next several weeks.

“I firmly believe [the law] represents what’s best for Arizona,” said Brewer. “Border-related violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues for the people of our state, to my administration, and to me as your governor and as a citizen.”

The signing came just a few hours after President Obama harshly criticized the legislation, calling it “misguided.” The president also instructed the Justice Department to examine the Arizona law to see if it would violate civil rights.

Obama criticized the bill at a naturalization ceremony in the White House Rose Garden for active duty service members from 24 countries.

The president said if Congress fails to enact comprehensive immigration reform at the national level, “We will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country.”

The absence of a federal resolution of the controversial issue, he said, “opens the door to irresponsibility by others,” and he cited “the recent efforts in Arizona, which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.”

So far this year, Congress and the administration have made little progress in advancing legislation on the issue.

Outside Capitol Building, Crowds Protest Decision

After the signing, crowds outside of the state capitol building erupted in anger. Carrying signs and American flags, they marched nearby, protesting the governor’s decision.

Brewer defended the law against claims that it is discriminatory, saying that she had worked for weeks to rework the language to strengthen civil rights protections. The governor also issued an executive order to develop training for state law enforcement to prevent racial discrimination or profiling.

“As committed as I am to protecting our state from crime associated with illegal immigration, I am equally committed to holding law enforcement accountable should this statue ever be misused to violate an individual’s rights,” she said.

The Arizona law makes it a crime under state law to be in the U.S. illegally and allows police to arrest and question suspected undocumented persons about their status without a warrant. It also criminalizes the transporting of an illegal immigrant anywhere in the state, even if by a family member.

Brewer, who faces a tough Republican primary in August, signed the same bill that former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, vetoed three times.

Brewer was under intense pressure to not sign the legislation. Civil rights groups have decried the sweeping measure as opening the door to racial profiling and sowing distrust between Hispanics and the law enforcement groups charged with keeping them safe. Others said the law will pull resources from fighting more-serious crimes.

Thousands of people wrote or called the governor’s office, with a 10-to-one majority opposing the bill, a spokeswoman said.

“I don’t think anything has been this extreme until this point,” said Bridgette Gomez, a 24-year-old math tutor. “The evil is racial profiling, to think that you’re going to always have to show identification. Because I’m tan, I must be illegal.”

But supporters of the law, including U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have said it will help solve an illegal immigration crisis the federal government so far has not acted swiftly enough to contain.

Ariz. Immigration Bill Supporters Say They’re Enforcing Law

“Illegal is illegal,” said the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Russell Pearce. “We’ll have less crime. We’ll have lower taxes. We’ll have safer neighborhoods. We’ll have shorter lines in the emergency rooms. We’ll have smaller classrooms.”

An estimated 10.8 million immigrants live illegally in the U.S., according to the most recent Department of Homeland Security figures. About 460,000 live inside Arizona’s borders. Now that the Arizona bill has become law, it likely will face constitutional challenges.

President Obama said he’s instructed the Justice Department to “closely monitor” the situation and “examine the civilian rights” and other implications of the legislation.

The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) and other groups are also preparing to challenge the legislation.

“The Constitution is pretty clear about having one set of rules,” said Thomas A. Saenz, general counsel and president of MALDEF. “Now, you have the state of Arizona coming along and creating an obstacle to federally mandated priorities.”

Still, state Sen. Pearce, a former deputy in the Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office, which is known for cracking down on illegal immigrants, said he’s merely trying to enforce law that’s already on the books.

“Illegal is not a race. It’s a crime. And in Arizona, we’re going to enforce the law … without apologies,” he said. “It’s just that simple.”

Vulnerable to Legal Challenges?

California attempted to pass a similar measure in 1994 — Proposition 187 — that was designed to keep illegal immigrants from using health, education and other social services.

Even though it passed, it was struck down by a federal court on the basis of constitutionality.

Similar legal challenges against Arizona are inevitable, Saenz said, and it will likely end up costing the state millions of dollars.

“Arizona is going to face very serious consequences if it enacts it,” Saenz said, comparing it to the experience in California, where the legislation was a “tremendously wasteful diversion of resources.”

“There was a palpable impact on international trade to California, in particular,” Saenz said. “It became clear over time that Mexican companies began to take their commerce through Texas and other border states because of pervasive hostility.”

But it’s high time states step up to the plate and do something about illegal immigrants, Pearce said.

“I would think this is a great opportunity to codify states’ inherent authority,” he said. “We created the federal government. We’re in charge. Constitutionally, we have inherent authority. It’s time to step up to the plate and start enforcing the law.”

This is not the first time Arizona’s state laws have come under fire. In 2005, the state made smuggling humans a state crime, and in 2007, it prohibited employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.

Earlier this week, the state House voted for a provision that would require President Obama to show his birth certificate if he wants to be on the state’s ballot in the next presidential election.

Before the signing, protesters had hoped to build grassroots momentum to convince Gov. Brewer to veto the bill — an effort that ultimately failed.

“You hear story after story of youth that don’t find out until they’re 16 that they are undocumented because their parents didn’t tell them,” said Alicia Contreras, 26, a student at Arizona State University. “Arizona is ground zero for these type of immigration laws, and as a youth — high school, college students — we need to come together.”

ENDS

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

It looks like the state of Arizona is going to become exactly like the nation of Japan when it comes to immigrants and their civil liberties.  Mandatory carrying of papers, police empowered to question people and demand papers, punishment up to 6 months in jail and $2500 fine.

Obama has already spoken out against it.  (Imagine a prime minister doing that here!)

Provisions of the law here:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=10463049

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

Key Provisions of Arizona Immigration Legislation

Key provisions of Arizona immigration legislation signed into law by governor

The Associated Press

Key provisions of Arizona’s immigration legislation, signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday:

— Makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally by specifically requiring immigrants to have proof of their immigration status. Violations are a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Repeat offenses would be a felony.

— Requires police officers to “make a reasonable attempt” to determine the immigration status of a person if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that he or she is an illegal immigrant. Race, color or national origin may not be the only things considered in implementation. Exceptions can be made if the attempt would hinder an investigation.

— Allow lawsuits against local or state government agencies that have policies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws. Would impose daily civil fines of $1,000-$5,000. There is pending follow-up legislation to halve the minimum to $500.

— Targets hiring of illegal immigrants as day laborers by prohibiting people from stopping a vehicle on a road to offer employment and by prohibiting a person from getting into a stopped vehicle on a street to be hired for work if it impedes traffic.

— The law will take effect by late July or early August.

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

It’s as if they copied this stuff straight out of NPA guidelines!

This really is disgusting.  Commenters on the two stories don’t seem to be cognizant of the plight of legal immigrants who don’t yet have US nationality (perhaps because with dual nationality being allowed in the US, there’s no reason to remain a “foreigner” if you’re long-term), and are focusing only on the difference between US citizens and illegals.

Fortunately, people are protesting it already, both online and in the real world.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the inevitable falsely-accused people.  Hopefully the news outlets won’t drop the story.  MIY
/////////////////////////////////////////////

From Times Online (London)
April 22, 2010
Arizona Bill ‘puts racial profiling into law’
Giles Whittell, Washington, Courtesy of AI

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article7104230.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093

An anti-immigration law condemned as a licence for racial profiling is expected to come into force in Arizona within the next 48 hours. The law would be the first in the US to give police the power to stop citizens and demand proof of legal residence in the US merely on suspicion of not carrying appropriate papers.

Arizona’s Republican Governor, under pressure from right-wing rivals for her job, has until Saturday afternoon to sign or veto the measure. The Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, a leading champion of immigration reform, has denounced it as a mandate for “German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques” of snooping and betrayal.

Up to ten other states are said to be considering similar laws as pressure mounts on the Republican Right and along America’s southern border for state-based immigration crackdowns in the absence of federal immigration reform.

The Arizona Bill would make it a crime for legal immigrants not to carry their alien registration papers, and would allow police to arrest those unable to produce them — potentially upending the presumption of innocence underpinning US law and the principle that its enforcement should be colour-blind.

“It basically puts racial profiling into law,” a spokeswoman for the Senate Democrats in the Arizona state assembly told The Times yesterday.

One of the measure’s Republican sponsors, Representative John Kavanagh, called it “a comprehensive immigration enforcement bill that addresses the concerns of our communities, constituents and colleagues … gives our local police officers the tools they need to combat illegal immigration”.

The progress of the hugely controversial Bill through the state assembly has been closely watched throughout the country, and helped by a wave of anger over the murder of an Arizona rancher 20 miles from the Mexican border last month. Robert Krentz, 58, was gunned down on his own property by an unknown assailant whom police assume was an illegal immigrant involved in a drug-smuggling operation.

In a sign of the pressure on moderate conservatives to be seen to get tough on illegal immigration in an election year, Senator John McCain, once a champion of progressive immigration reform, has stunned former colleagues by endorsing the Bill. “The state of Arizona is acting and doing what it feels it needs to do in light of the fact that the federal government is not fulfilling its fundamental responsibility — to secure our borders,” he told Fox News as the measure was approved by the State Assembly on Monday.

The Bill also has the support of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, the senior law enforcement official in the Phoenix area, who has gloried for decades in the unofficial title of “America’s toughest cop”. Mr Arpaio has courted sanction by federal authorities for years by encouraging his deputies to stop those they suspect of being illegal immigrants and demand to see their papers.

Arizona has the highest per capita population of undocumented aliens, with 460,000 at the latest estimate. Cardinal Mahoney has called the new Bill “the country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited and useless anti-immigrant law”.

The Arizona state assembly has invited further controversy by granting initial approval to a Bill that would require President Obama to submit his birth certificate before having his name entered on ballot papers for the 2012 presidential election.

Accusations that Mr Obama was not born in the US and is therefore not eligible for the Presidency have lingered in the blogosphere since his candidacy gained national traction in 2007. As a matter of record, he was born on August 4, 1961, in Hawaii where his birth certificate is on file. His campaign has released a certified scanned copy of the certificate but some 40 per cent of Americans remain doubtful or unsure where he was born, according to polls.
ENDS

Japan Times on Suraj Case: Wife of Ghanian who died while being deported demands info on cause

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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

Hi Blog.  As I reported last week, the FCCJ had a press conference yesterday on the Suraj Case, where a Ghanian man died while being deported last March.  Details on the cause of death are unclear, but Immigration acknowledges that handcuffs were used, and a towel in Suraj’s mouth were involved.

What I find noteworthy is not only the circumstances (which allegedly, according to the Suraj group press release, involves other NJ deaths in Immigration custody), but also the courts’ reasoning when overruling a stay of deportation:
=================================
Japan Times: “In February 2008, the Tokyo District Court ruled the deportation order be waived. But in March 2009, the Tokyo High Court repealed the district court’s ruling on grounds the couple was childless and the wife was economically independent…”
=================================

So if they had children and she was a dependent housewife, then he could have stayed in Japan?  Their marriage counts for nothing otherwise?  Not sure I get it.

Article follows. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

////////////////////////////////////////////////////
The Japan Times Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Wife presses for details in death of deportee (excerpt)
By MINORU MATSUTANI Staff writer

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100421a4.html

The Japanese wife of a Ghanaian who died last month while he was being deported for overstaying his visa called Tuesday on police and the Immigration Bureau to disclose exactly how he died…

The wife’s lawyer, Koichi Kodama, questioned the police investigation, which has not resulted in any arrests.

“If a man died after five or six civilians, not public servants, held his limbs, they would undoubtedly be arrested,” Kodama said, adding he told “exactly that to the prosecutors” he met with Monday in Chiba.

The Chiba police are questioning about 10 immigration officers and crew of Egypt Air, Kodama quoted a Chiba prosecutor as saying. Police said March 25 the cause of death was unclear after an autopsy. Kodama said a more thorough autopsy is being performed.

Suraj’s wife is considering suing the government, but she and Kodama are holding off pending further evidence of malpractice by immigration officers.

“Lawyers have no authority to collect evidence, and thus we have to wait for police to disclose evidence,” he said.

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100421a4.html

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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Hi Blog.  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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

From: KYA
Subject: [Community] Gaijin card required for tax return now?
Date: April 13, 2010
To: communityinjapan@yahoogroups.com

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 this in the mail: http://s161.photobucket.com/albums/t223/babyhayate/?action=view&current=tax.jpg

(Click to expand in your browser)

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. So I said, well then I won’t provide it if the law doesn’t require it, and he said that they wouldn’t process my return until I provided it. So I said, so that means the law DOES require it? This time he said yes, but still couldn’t actually come up with a specific law. He then wanted my name and phone number so that he could “get back to me” about it… but he was pissed off by this point, I didn’t want him to make a note on my file or something that would delay my refund any further so I said I’d call back when the person in charge had returned.

The person in charge said, it was for the purpose of confirming my address, because I don’t have a juminhyo… but again, I didn’t have a juminhyo LAST year either. And if they are really checking everyone at city hall, there is a record of my address there as well, it’s a different deprtment but they could still check. He then said it was to confirm the spelling of my name in English… again, doesn’t make sense to me as all of the documents issued by all of the companies I freelance for list my name in kanji-katakana (which I requested them to do BECAUSE it’s the way I’ve always filed my tax return and silly me, I thought the names should match?)

I did get this second guy to tell me that I could submit a copy of my driver’s license instead or copy the gaijin card and black out everything except name, address, and date of birth, when I said that it wasn’t the tax office’s job OR right to check my birthplace or status of residence etc.

But… what is the deal here? Has anyone else has this experience? This year only, or have I just lucked out seven years running? Does anyone know what the law DOES say about this? Do I have to submit it? Can they really withhold my tax refund, for taxes that I paid but never owed in the first place, if I don’t submit it?

I never know what to do in this situation… if it’s a hotel or another business, in the end, they want my money and the money of all the people I’m going to tell about my lousy experience… in this case, it’s the government and they’ve got 48,000 yen that I want and need, and in the end they KNOW that I’m not going to throw away that money on principle… I considered throwing the teigakukyuufukin paperwork in their faces when the woman had the nerve to refer to my “husband’s household” as something separate from ME… but that was a free handout, this money is MINE, I knew I was going to get it back and planned for it in my budget, so I feel like there’s not a lot I can do… I’d at least like to know what they are really checking, whether it’s for everyone or just people picked at random, and whether I can legally say no and still get my money (much as I’d like to make a stand, that’s a whole month’s pay coming back… they know they’ve got me up against a wall here)

Anyone else having problems? KYA

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

MTJ replies:

A few things came to mind when I read your story, KYA.  First, that the form they sent seems to cover a lot of the new ‘procedures’ linked to the new family allowance program being implemented this month, specifically the brouhaha in the media over NJ who has children living abroad needing to jump through all sorts of hoops to qualify.  More tellingly, the part at the bottom confirms what I suspected was the case, it’s a piece of gyousei shidou;, or ‘administrative guidance.’  That’s why the official may have had trouble supplying you with an actual law, as it doesn’t actually exist.  However, in the minds of the local bureaucrats it’s just as good, especially if it “came from above.”

Wiki has a good stub on the subject here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Administrative_guidance

ENDS

MHLW clamps down on NJ spongers of system claiming overseas kids. What spongers?

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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.   In mid-March we had a storm in a teacup about DPJ policy re child allowances:  If NJ also qualified for child support, politicians argued, some hypothetical Arab prince in Japan would claim all 50 of his kids back in Saudi Arabia.  Well, thanks to that storm, we have the Health Ministry creating policy within weeks to prevent NJ from potentially sponging off the system.  As submitter JK notes, “What follows is article on why 厚生労働省 feels the need to clamp down on those untrustworthy foreigners; never mind about the lack of data.”

Gov’t gets tough on allowances for foreigners who claim to have children in home countries
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20100407p2a00m0na008000c.html

子ども手当:外国人支給、厳格に 子との年2回面会要件
http://mainichi.jp/life/edu/child/archive/news/2010/04/20100407ddm002010042000c.html

Well, that’s proactive policymaking in Japan.  In the same way that anti-terrorism policy that targets foreigners only was proactive (although it took a few years to draft and enact).  Here, the bureaucrats could just do it with a few penstrokes and call it a “clarification”, without having to go through the pesky political process.

But the assumption is, once again, that a) foreigners are untrustworthy and need extra background checks, and b) any policy that might do something nice for the Japanese public needs to be carefully considered by viewing it through the “foreigner prism”, for who knows what those people might do to take advantage of our rich system?  “What-if” panicky hypotheticals without any data win the debate and govern policymaking towards NJ again.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Gov’t gets tough on allowances for foreigners who claim to have children in home countries
(Mainichi Japan) April 7, 2010

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has tightened conditions for paying child-care allowances to foreigners who reside in Japan and claim to have children in their home countries, ministry officials said.

The move is aimed at preventing foreign residents from illicitly receiving expensive allowances by falsely adopting children in their home countries or using other tricks to deceive Japanese authorities. The ministry has notified local governments across the country of its decision.

Before providing child-care allowances, local governments are required by the ministry to confirm that such recipients meet their children in their home countries at least twice a year by checking their passports, and make sure that they send money to their children at least once every four months.

The ministry took the measure out of fear that a large number of foreigners would falsely adopt children in their home countries for the sole purpose of illegally receiving child-care allowances in Japan.

The number of foreign residents’ children who receive child allowances while living in their home countries remains unclear, according to the ministry.

Some local governments have expressed concern that the measure would increase their workload.

Original Japanese story

子ども手当:外国人支給、厳格に 子との年2回面会要件
毎日新聞 2010年4月7日 東京朝刊

厚生労働省は、国内に住み母国に子供がいる外国人に対する子ども手当の支給要件を厳格化する通知を各自治体に出した。年2回以上面会していることをパスポートで確認することなどが柱。児童手当は比較的緩やかな条件下で支給されてきたが、高額の子ども手当で不正受給を防ぐことを狙った。

児童手当は、子を養育する権限があり、生計を維持する保護者に支給。母国に子がいる外国人については、出生証明書と送金証明書があり、面会などしていれば支給してきた。だが面会の立証は困難で、手紙の提示だけでよかったり、証明を求めない自治体もあった。証明書の偽造も可能と指摘されており、不正受給目的の養子縁組の横行などが危惧(きぐ)されていた。

このため厚労省は、少なくとも年2回以上の面会をパスポートで確認▽約4カ月に1回以上の送金を銀行の送金通知などで確認--などを支給要件と定め通知した。

厚労省によると、母国で児童手当を受給する子どもの数は把握されていない。年度末に子ども手当の駆け込み申請があった自治体もあり、今回の通知に対し、自治体側からは「事務負担がどのくらい増えるか未知数」と懸念する声も上がっている。【野倉恵】
ENDS

Rough draft text of my speech to UN Rep Bustamante Mar 23 in Tokyo

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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. What follows is a rough draft of the text of the speech I’ll be giving on Tues, March 23, before a United Nations rep. I have twenty minutes tops. I read this at a normal pace aloud today and it came about sixteen minutes. Eight pages, 2500 words, written in a conversational style. FYI. Thanks for your support, and see you at the upcoming FRANCA meetings this Sunday and next Saturday. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Statements to Mr Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, in Tokyo, March 23, 2010, by ARUDOU Debito, Chair, Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (FRANCA, www.francajapan.org), regarding racial discrimination in Japan.

This document may be downloaded at http://www.debito.org/ArudouBustamantestatement032310.doc

The powerpoint accompanying this presentation may be downloaded at http://www.debito.org/FRANCABustamantepresentation032310.ppt

Table of contents for the belowmentioned “blue folder” with links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=6201


First, let me thank Mr. Bustamante and the United Nations for their attention to the situation of minorities and disenfranchised peoples in Japan.  There are very few effective forums in Japan for us to take our grievances, and we all very much appreciate the Special Rapporteur hearing as many sides of the story as possible.

I wish to focus on the situation of peoples of “foreign” origin and appearance, such as White and non-Asian peoples like me, and how we tend to be treated in Japanese society.  Put simply, we are not officially registered or even counted sometimes as genuine residents.  We are not treated as taxpayers, not protected as consumers, not seen as ethnicities even in the national census.  We not even regarded as deserving of the same human rights as Japanese, according to government-sponsored opinion polls and human rights surveys (blue folder items I-1, I-6 and III-6).  This view of “foreigner” as “only temporary in Japan” is a blind spot even the United Nations seems to share, but I’ll get that later.

Here is a blue 500-page information folder I will give you after my talk, with primary source materials, articles, reference papers, and testimonials from other people in Japan who would like their voice heard.  It will substantiate what I will be saying in summary below.

To start off, here is an overview of our presence in Japan.  According to official figures, the number of Non-Japanese on 3-month visas and up in Japan has grown since 1990 from about one million to over two million.  The number of Permanent Residents has reached record numbers, of over one million.  In other words, about half of all registered Non-Japanese in Japan can stay here permanently.  I would like to point out here how difficult it is to receive Permanent Residency in Japan.  It takes about five years if you are married to a Japanese, ten years if you are not.  The point is, a million Non-Japanese Permanent Residents are not a “temporary” segment of Japanese society.

Moreover, this does not count the estimated 300,000 to 500,000 naturalized Japanese citizens since the 1960’s.  I am one of those naturalized Japanese citizens.  Nor does this count the international families from Non-Japanese marrying Japanese.  We have about 40,000 international marriages every year, a significant increase from the 30,000 per year a decade ago.  If each couple has two children over their lifetime, which is not an unreasonable assumption, eventually that means 80,000 ethnically-diverse Japanese children.  Over ten years, that adds up to 800,000 – almost a million again.  However, not all of these children will “look Japanese”.

Sadly, we don’t know how many children, or people, of diverse backgrounds with Japanese citizenship are out there, because the Japanese Census does not survey for ethnicity.  The Japanese Census only surveys for nationality, despite our repeated requests for the census to reflect Japan’s diversity.  Meaning, when I fill out the Census, I write down “Japanese” for my nationality, but there is no way for me to indicate that I am a “Caucasian Japanese”, or an “Japanese of American extraction” (amerika kei nihonjin).  I believe this is by design, because the politics of identity in Japan are “monoculturality and monoethnicity”.  This is simply a fiction.  It wasn’t true in the past, and with modern Japan’s emerging immigration, assimilation, and ethnic diversity, it’s even less true now.  The official conflation of Japanese nationality and ethnicity is incorrect, and our government is willfully refusing to collect any data that would correct that.

The point is, the lines have blurred to the point where we cannot tell who is “Japanese” any more just by looking at them.  This means any time we have any distinctions made between “foreigner” and “Japanese”, be it police racial profiling or “Japanese Only” signs, it will also affect some Japanese citizens too.  This is why we need a law against racial discrimination in Japan – not only because it will help non-citizens assimilate into Japan, but also it will protect Japanese against xenophobia, bigotry, and exclusionism.  Discrimination that is “deep and profound”, and “practiced undisturbed in Japan”, according to UN Rapporteur Doudou Diene in 2005 and 2006[1].

At this point, I would like to show some differences in standpoint, between my esteemed colleagues and minorities being represented today, and the people I am trying to speak for.  The minorities in Japan as defined under the CERD, including the Ainu, the Ryūkyūans, the Zainichi Special Permanent Resident ethnic Koreans and Chinese, and the Burakumin, will be speaking to you this week and next as people who have been here for a long time, much longer than people like me, of course.  They make their claims based upon time-honored and genuine grievances that have never been properly redressed.  For ease of understanding, I will call some of them the “Oldcomers”.  I am here on behalf of what I will call the “Newcomers”, people who have come here from other countries relatively recently, to make a life in Japan.  Both “Oldcomers” and “Newcomers” contribute to Japanese society, including taxes, service, and culture.  But it is we “Newcomers” who really need the protections of a Japanese law against racial discrimination, because we, the people who are seen because of our skin color as “foreigners” in Japan, are often singled out and targeted for our own special variety of discriminatory treatment.

Here are examples I will talk briefly about now:

1) Discrimination in housing and accommodation

2) Racial Profiling by Japanese Police, through policies officially depicting Non-Japanese as criminals, terrorists, and carriers of infectious disease

3) Refusal to be registered or counted as residents by the Japanese Government

4) “Japanese Only” exclusions in businesses open to the public

5) Objects of unfettered hate speech

All of these examples are substantiated in the blue information folder, but again, words in brief about each item.

1) Discrimination in housing and accommodation

One of the first barriers many Newcomers face in Japan is the daunting prospect of finding an apartment.  According to the Mainichi Shimbun (Jan 8 2010[2]), on average in Tokyo it takes 15 visits to realtors for a Non-Japanese to find an apartment.   Common experience — and this is all we have because there is no government study of this problem — dictates that the agent generally phrases the issue to landlords as, “The renter is a foreigner, but is that okay?”  This overt discrimination happens with complete impunity in Japan.  One Osaka realtor[3] even advertises apartments as “gaijin allowed”, thus an option at odds with the status quo.  Again, there is no national government body collecting information on this problem, or hearing grievances.  The people who face discriminatory landlords can only take them to court.  This means years, money for lawyers and court fees, and an uncertain outcome, when all you need is a place to live, now.

Another issue is hotels.  They are expressly forbidden by the Hotel Management Law Article 5 to refuse customers unless rooms are full, there is a clear threat of contagious disease, or a clear threat to “public morals” (as in pornography).  However, government surveys, according to CNN et.al, (Oct 9, 2008[4]), indicate that 27% of all Japanese hotels don’t want foreign guests.  Not to be outdone, the Fukushima Prefecture Tourist Information website until last January advertised, as per their own preset options, that 318 of their member hotels were all refusing Non-Japanese[5], even though this is clearly illegal.  Thus even when a law technically forbids exclusionism, it is not enforced.  Excluders even get promoted by the authorities.

2) Racial Profiling by Japanese Police

Another rude awakening happens when you walk down the street.  Japanese police will stop you in public, sometimes rudely demand your ID card (which all foreigners – only — must carry at all times or face incarceration and criminal prosecution), and record your personal details.  This can be for walking while White, cycling while foreign-looking, using public transportation while multiethnic, or standing waiting for arrivals at airports while colored.  In one person’s case, he has been “carded”, sometimes through physical force, more than 50 times in one year, as of today exactly 125 times over ten years (blue folder item I-2).

The police claim they are hunting for foreign criminals and visa overstayers, or there are special security measures or campaigns in place, etc.  However, you can see in the blue folder, this is an extension of the depiction of Non-Japanese in official government policies as “terrorists, criminals, and carriers of infectious diseases” (items II-9 through 11).  None of these things are contingent on nationality.  Consequently, after 2007 all non-citizens must be fingerprinted every time they re-enter Japan.  This includes the “Newcomer” Permanent Residents, which goes farther than its model, the US-VISIT program this, which does not refingerprint Green Card holders.  The epitome of bad physical and social science must be the National Research Institute of Police Science, which has received years of government grants to research “foreign DNA”, for more effective racial profiling at crime scenes (see blue folder item II-2).

In sum, thanks to national policy justifying racial profiling, the Japanese police are seeing non-Japanese as “foreign agents” in both senses of the word.  They are systematically taking measures to deal with them as a social problem, not a fellow resident or immigrant.  Furthermore, it goes without saying that enforcement depends upon personal appearance, as I too have been racially profiled on several occasions by police in public.

3) Refusal to be counted as residents by the Japanese Government

It is too complicated to talk about fully here (see blue folder, item III-1), but Japan’s registration system, meaning the current Koseki Family Registry and the Jūminhyō Residency Certificate systems, refuse to list Non-Japanese as “spouse” — or even “family member”.  Because they are not citizens.  In sum, officially Non-Japanese residents are not “residents” (jūmin), even though they pay Residency Taxes (jūminzei) like anyone else.  Worse, some local governments (such as Tokyo Nerima Ward[6]) do not even count Non-Japanese in their population tallies.  This is the ultimate in invisibility, and it is government-sanctioned.

4) “Japanese Only” exclusions in businesses open to the public

Since Japan has no law against racial discrimination, there have been signs up nationwide at places open to the general public, saying “Japanese Only”, “No Foreigners allowed”, etc. (blue folder item III-1).  Places enforcing exclusionary rules include stores, restaurants, hotels, family public bathhouses, bars, discos, an eyeglass outlet, a ballet school, an internet café, a billiards hall, a women’s boutique, and a newspaper subscription service.  Nevertheless, the government has said repeatedly to the UN that we don’t a racial discrimination law because we have an effective judicial system.  That is untrue.  In the Otaru Onsens Case (1999-2005, blue folder items III-1 and III-7), where two Non-Japanese and one naturalized Japanese were excluded from a public bathhouse, judges refused to rule that this activity was illegal due to racial discrimination.  They called it “unrational discrimination”.  Moreover, they refused to enforce the CERD as law, or sanction the negligent Otaru City government for not taking effective measures against racial discrimination.  The Supreme Court even refused to hear the case.  Furthermore, in 2006, an African-American was refused entry into an eyeglass store by an openly racist owner, yet the Osaka District Court ruled in favor of the owner!   We need a criminal law, with enforceable punishments, because the present judicial system will not fix this.

5) Objects of unfettered hate speech

The blue folder talks more about cyberbullying of minorities and prejudiced statements made by our politicians over the years.  Other NGOs will talk more about the anti-Korean and anti-Chinese hate speech during the current debate about granting local suffrage rights to Permanent Residents.  I would instead like to briefly mention some media, such as magazine “Underground Files of Crimes by Gaijin [sic]” (Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu (2007), blue folder item III-2), or “PR Suffrage will make Japan Disappear” (Gaikokujin Sanseiken de Nihon ga Nakunaru Hi) (2010[7]).  Both of these books stretch their case to talk about an innate criminality or deviousness in the foreign element, and “Underground Files of  Crimes” even includes things that are not crimes, such as dating Japanese women.  It even includes epithets like “nigger”, racist caricatures, and ponderings on whether Korean pudenda smell like kimchi.  This is hate speech.  And it is not illegal in Japan.

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

To summarize, the Japanese government’s stance towards the CERD is simple (blue folder item VI-1).  The Ainu, Ryūkūans, and Burakumin are citizens, therefore they don’t need CERD protection because they are protected by the Japanese Constitution.  However, the Zainichis and “Newcomers” are not citizens, therefore they don’t get protection from the CERD.  Therefore, our government effectively argues, the CERD does not cover anyone in Japan.

Yeah, well what about me?  Or our children?  Are there really no ethnic minorities with Japanese citizenship in Japan?

In conclusion, I would like to thank the United Nations and their Rapporteurs for investigating our cases.  The CERD Committee on March 16, 2010 (CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6), issued some very welcome recommendations.  However, and I would like to go back to something I said in the beginning, that the UN has a blind spot in these negotiations.

In the CERD Committee’s discussions with the Japanese government in Geneva on February 24 and 25, 2010, very little mention was made of the CERD’s non-enforcement in Japan’s judiciary and criminal code.   Almost no mention was made of Japan’s “Japanese Only” signs.  These are the most indefensible violation of the CERD.

The problem is, both sides, both Japan and the UN, have a blind spot in how they perceive Japan’s “minorities”.  Non-Japanese were never couched as residents of or immigrants to Japan, but rather as “foreign migrants”.  The unconscious assumption seems to be that 1) “foreign migrants” have a “temporary status” in Japan (particularly when Japan’s reps portrayed ethnic schools for Non-Japanese as for “foreign children in Japan only for the short stay”), and 2) Japan has few “ethnically diverse Japanese citizens”.

Look, it’s time for an update.  Look at me.  I am a Japanese.  Like any other.  Because the government put me through a very rigorous and arbitrary test for naturalization and I passed it.  People like me are part of Japan’s future.  Please, when you make your recommendations, have them reflect how Japan has changed, and how Japan must face up to its multicultural society already in place.  Please, recognize us “Newcomers” as a permanent part of the debate.  The Japanese government still will not.  They say little that is positive about us.  And they allow very nasty things to be said by our politicians, policymakers, and police.

It’s about time we all recognized the good things that we “Newcomers” too are doing for our home, Japan.  Please help us.

ENDS


[1] www.debito.org/rapporteur.html

[2] www.debito.org/?p=5703

[3] www.debito.org/?p=723

[4] www.debito.org/?p=1940

[5] www.debito.org/?p=5619

[6] www.debito.org/?p=1972

[7] www.debito.org/?p=6182

ENDS