Mainichi: MOJ will force NJ refusers to be incarcerated, fingerprinted


Hi Blog. According to the Mainichi today, the Justice Ministry has now issued a “tsuuchi” directive (the GOJ Mandarins’ way of minting laws without going through a legislative body) granting Immigration more powers. People who refuse to get fingerprinted will not only be refused at the border, but also forced to have fingerprints taken. as well as a physical inspection and incarceration in the airport Gaijin Tank.

What this means in the event uncooperative Permanent Residents and their Japanese spouses, the article notes, is incarceration with “extra persuasion”–without, they say, the threat of force. With all this extralegality going on, fat chance. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Mainichi Shinbun November 21, 2007
Translated by Arudou Debito, Courtesy of Tony K

As an anti-terrorism etc. measure under the new Immigration inspection system, requiring fingerprints from all foreigners coming to Japan [sic], the Mainichi has learned that The Ministry of Justice’s Immigration Bureau has issued a directive (tsuuchi) to all regional divisions, saying that foreigners who refuse fingerprinting and rejection at the border [sic] are to be forced to be fingerprinted.

Although the Ministry of Justice originally explained this system as an “offering” (teikyou) of fingerprints without coercion, they have now indicated that they will impliment this measure with the option of compulsion (kyouseiryoku) against anyone who refuses. It is anticipated that this will strengthen criticisms that “this system is treating foreigners as criminals”.

This policy of collecting biometric data is being effected at airports and seaports whenever foreigners enter the country, compared on the spot with stored Immigration data of people with histories of being deported from Japan, or blacklisted overseas. If fingerprints match, entry into the country will be denied, as will people who refuse to cooperate with the collection of data.

If the person denied refuses to comply with the deportation order, Immigration will impliment forceable deportation orders and render the person to a holding cell within the airport. Whether or not fingerprints will be taken during incarceration had until now not been made clear.

However, based upon an Immigration directive issued during the first week of this month, it is now clear that “for safety concerns, when necessary people may now have their bodies inspected (shintai kensa)”, and Immigration officers have now been empowered to take fingerprints from those who refuse to cooperate. The directive also demands video recording of the proceedings.

Afterwards, refusers will be rendered to the appropriate transportation authorities for deportation. However, in the case of Permanent Residents and their Japanese spouses who have livelihoods in Japan, what the “country of return” for deportation will exactly mean is bound to present a problem. Immigration officials reply, “We will sufficiently persuade (settoku) the refuser to cooperate, and endeavor not to do this by force.”

According to a source familiar with Immigration laws, Immigration searches are something done in the case when a foreign national is under suspicion for breaking the law, such as overstaying his visa. In principle, fingerprinting is a voluntary act, and forceable fingerprinting rarely occurs. The source adds, “If we just don’t let the refuser into the country, there’s nothing dangerous they can do.” He questions whether or not it is justifiable to forceably fingerprint the person and add them to a blacklist of deportees.

Ryuugoku University Professor Tanaka Hiroshi, a specialist on human rights involving non Japanese, adds, “This type of foreigner fingerprinting system was once in place and people refused to cooperate. But now in its place we have not only criminal penalities, but also the extreme measure of refusing them entry into the country. This ministerial directive has little legal basis in its extreme sanctions.”




Gov’t orders forced fingerprinting of foreigners refusing to give prints at entry ports
Mainichi Shinbun Nov 21, 2007

The Justice Ministry has instructed regional immigration bureaus to forcibly take fingerprints from foreigners who refuse to be fingerprinted or to leave the country, sources close to the ministry said.

The ministry’s Immigration Bureau sent the directive to regional immigration bureaus prior to the introduction of a system on Tuesday, under which all foreigners who enter Japan, except for a limited number of people such as special permanent residents and visitors under the age of 16, must be photographed and fingerprinted at airports and ports.

The ministry had explained that it had no intention of forcibly taking fingerprints from foreigners who visit Japan.

The directive cites a clause in the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, which empowers immigration officers to conduct body checks on foreign visitors if such measures are necessary for safety reasons. It then urges immigration officers to forcibly take fingerprints from those who refuse to cooperate and film them on video.



11月21日2時31分配信 毎日新聞
Courtesy of Tony K







Primary source info: Application Form for NJ preregistry of fingerprints


Hi Blog. No matter where you are in Japan, if you want to play ball and preregister your biometric data, go to Tokyo. More on the difficulties involving that procedure here, from somebody who made the trip from Kobe and had a pretty lousy time once there.

Never mind–even permanent residents are still gaijin and potential terrorists, so lump it. It’s for our safety–“our” especially meaning us “kokumin”. How many more hoops will Japan make its residents jump through before it realizes this will lead to an exodus of business and money? Text courtesy of Shaney. Arudou Debito


Please find the attached “Application Form for User Registration of the Automated Gates” and “User’s guide”. If you wish pre-registration, please complete the application form and bring in the application counter.

To: All foreign national employees,

We would like to advise you of an important change in immigration procedures for foreign nationals.

The change is intended to prevent terrorism and is due to a partial amendment of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act.

With effect from 20 November 2007, fingerprints and a facial photograph will be taken as mandatory requirement when foreign nationals enter Japan.

This will not only apply to tourists but also to holders of foreign registration card holders and/or re-entry permit.

If foreign nationals refuse to provide fingerprints and a facial photo, the entry will be denied and such person will be asked to leave Japan.

For details, please view the video “Landing Examination Procedures for Japan are Changing!” available in English, Chinese and Korean.

The video runs for approximately five and a half minutes.

For English

For Chinese

For Korean

Also here is the link in English & Japanese.



At the same time, from 20 November 2007, Narita airport will implement an automated gate system.

The system is designed to simplify and accelerate emigration and immigration procedures.

Foreign nationals who wish to go through the automated gate are required to pre-register by submitting their ID (face photograph & fingerprint).

The application for registration will be accepted at Tokyo Immigration Bureau in Shinagawa or Tokyo Immigration Bureau Narita Airport Branch.

You will be asked to submit your passport and the registration application form, and your face will be photographed and both index fingers be fingerprinted.

Please find attached the English translation of the official document by Ministry of Justice. 

Yomiuri & Nikkei trumpet 5 NJ snagged by Fingerprinting system. Sankei says FP system not snagger.


Hi Blog. Here is a link to three articles in Japanese trumpeting the success of the new Fingerprinting system–all done in the middle of the night so as to make the morning editions. Hey, we caught ’em, see how the system is working and how much we need it? Despite the fact that it was also reported yesterday that nobody was refused at all.

That’s right, actually. Read beyond the Sankei headline. Three of the five were caught for funny passports, the other two for other reasons left unclear but at Immigration’s discretion. Which means bagging these five was unrelated to the Fingerprint policy. In other words, this sort of thing happens on a daily basis and is not news. Unless there is a political reason for making it so. Guess what that political reason is. The fix is really in.

Anyway, two of the articles follow in translation. Two associations to make: fingertips and sandpaper. You’ll see what I mean in the Sankei article. Arudou Debito in Sapporo



System to inspect fingerprints and facial photos

Sankei Shinbun November 21, 2007 02:02AM

(Translated by Arudou Debito)

With the new new Immigration system requiring facial photos and finger from all foreigners over the age of 16 [sic–not completely correct as stated] being launched from November 20, five people’s fingerprints matched those of people who had been refused entry in the past in the database, according to the Ministry of Justice.

Of those five, it seems three were using altered or falsified passports, and were processed for deportation. The remaining two were given orders to leave. No foreigner was refused entry at the border due to them refusing to give fingerprints.

The Justice Ministry also announced that at Obihiro, Narita, Chubu International, and Fukuoka Airports, as well as at Hakata seaport, a total of 21 people’s fingerprints were impossible to read. The reason seems to be that they were elderly and thus had worn-down fingers.

Those 21 were given oral interviews by Immigration and allowed in. The Ministry added that “Under Immigration directives, if we can’t scan their fingerprints properly, we still will process them for entry into Japan.”

Only one machine was completely inoperative, at Fushiki Toyama Port. Immigration said, “We had problems for a little while and there were cases of delays in processing, and our standards slipped due to all the rush.”



Yomiuri Shinbun November 21 2007 03:09AM

(Translated by Arudou Debito)

With the amendment of the Immigration and Refugee Control Act, as of November 20 all foreigners [sic again] coming to Japan must be fingerprinted. As a result, 5 people were denied entry, as their fingerprints matched those on a “blacklist”.

Most of those people had been deported in the past, or had tried to come into Japan on fake passports. One person was immediately deported, while the remainder were issued orders to leave.

The blacklist includes data such as 1) 14,000 names created by Interpol (ICPO) with the Japanese police, 2) about 800,000 names of people who have been deported for overstaying their visas in Japan.

With the advent of the Immigration Act revisions, new entry procedures were enacted in ports of entry such as Narita, Kansai and Osaka Airports, and those five people matched the fingerprints on the blacklist.

On the other hand, there were several problems with people not having their fingerprints readable.

At Hakata seaport, several tourist groups from Pusan, Korea, had trouble having their fingerprints scanned upon entry. So four people were waived through with a passport check. According to Immigration at Fukuoka Hakata, “They were elderly whose fingerprints are hard to read.”

According to the Ministry of Justice Immigration Bureau, there were a total of 21 cases where people’s fingerprints were unscanable, at places such as Hakata, Narita, and Chubu International. Also, at Toyama Port, one of five scanning machines was inoperable and decommissioned.




ブロブの皆様、きのう「誰も断らなかった」が報道されたが、こうやってメディアは正当化するね。特にこの新聞は早い者勝ちしているのは意外ではないね。しかし、見出し以外を読むと、「うち3人は偽造・変造パスポートを使用したとみられ、強制退去の手続きに入った。残る2人にも退去命令が出される見通し。 指紋や顔写真の提供を拒んで入国拒否となった外国人はいなかった。」(産經)。つまり、これは新制度と無関係だった。これは毎日の出来事みたいで、なぜニュースになったのでしょうか。有道 出人


5人に「前歴」 強制退去へ 指紋・顔写真の新入国審査
産經新聞 2007.11.21 02:02


 うち3人は偽造・変造パスポートを使用したとみられ、強制退去の手続きに入った。残る2人にも退去命令が出される見通し。 指紋や顔写真の提供を拒んで入国拒否となった外国人はいなかった。





(2007年11月21日3時9分 読売新聞)








(2007年11月21日3時9分 読売新聞)



NYT on Fingerprinting: “Disaster for J business”


Hi Blog. Much the same ground covered in this article as others. But good to see a write-up this thorough making a splash throughout the US East Coast–in the Old Grey Lady, no less (a paper the GOJ takes most seriously of all overseas publications). Debito in Sapporo


New Japanese Immigration Controls Worry Foreigners
New York Times November 18, 2007

TOKYO, Nov. 17 — Japan has tried hard in recent years to shake its image as an overly insular society and offer a warmer welcome to foreign investors and tourists. But the country is about to impose strict immigration controls that many fear could deter visitors and discourage businesses from locating here.

On Tuesday, Japan will put in place one of the toughest systems in the developed world for monitoring foreign visitors. Modeled on the United States’ controversial U.S.-Visit program, it will require foreign citizens to be fingerprinted, photographed and questioned every time they enter Japan.

The screening will extend even to Japan’s 2.1 million foreign residents, many of whom fear they will soon face clogged immigration lines whenever they enter the country. People exempted from the checks include children under 16, diplomats and “special permanent residents,” a euphemism for Koreans and other Asians brought to Japan as slave laborers during World War II and their descendants.

The authorities say such thorough screening is needed to protect Japan from attacks by foreign terrorists, which many fear here because of Japan’s support for the United States in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the measures, part of an immigration law enacted last year, have been criticized by civil rights groups and foreign residents’ associations as too sweeping and unnecessarily burdensome to foreigners. They note that the only significant terrorist attack in Japan in recent decades was carried out by a domestic religious sect, which released sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo subway in 1995, killing 12 people.

Some of the most vocal critics have been among foreign business leaders, who say the screening could hurt Japan’s standing as an Asian business center, especially if it is inefficiently carried out, leading to long waits at airports. Business groups here warn that such delays could make Japan less attractive than rival commercial hubs like Hong Kong and Singapore, where entry procedures are much easier.

The business groups also contend that the screening runs counter to recent efforts by the government to attract more foreign investment and tourism.

“If businessmen based here have to line up for two hours every time they come back from traveling, it will be a disaster,” said Jakob Edberg, policy director in the Tokyo office of the European Business Council. “This will affect real business decisions, like whether to base here.”

Business groups also fault the government for bungling the few attempts it has made at explanation. Two weeks ago, the justice minister created a commotion when he defended the new measures by stating that “a friend of a friend” who belonged to Al Qaeda had entered the country repeatedly using forged passports. The government scrambled to say that the minister, Kunio Hatoyama, had never had direct contact with the alleged Qaeda member.

However, some civil rights groups worry that the government is using terrorism to mask a deeper, xenophobic motive behind the new measures. They say that within Japan, the government has justified the screening as an anticrime measure, playing to widely held fears that an influx of foreigners is threatening Japan’s safe streets.

These groups also note that fingerprinting of foreigners is not new here. Until fairly recently, all foreign residents were routinely fingerprinted. That practice was phased out after years of protest by foreign residents and civil rights groups.

“Terrorism looks like an excuse to revive to the old system for monitoring foreigners,” said Sonoko Kawakami at Amnesty International in Japan. “We worry that the real point of these measures is just to keep foreigners out of Japan.”

One request made by the European Business Council, the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan and other business groups is to add special lines at airports for foreign residents, and especially frequent business travelers.

Until now, foreign residents have been allowed to use the same lines at airport immigration as Japanese citizens, speeding their entry. But the new law will bar them from doing so.

Only the Tokyo area’s main international airport at Narita has agreed to set aside lines for foreign residents. Others, including the nation’s second-largest airport, Kansai International near Osaka, will force these residents to line up with other foreigners, who even before the new screening often waited an hour or more to pass through immigration.

That irks Martin Issott, 59, a Briton and the regional director for a British chemical company who has lived in Japan for 20 years. Mr. Issott said he used the Kansai airport two or three times a month for business trips. He uses the immigration line for Japanese citizens and never waits more than five minutes. He said he feared that the change in rules would result in long waits at the end of every trip.

“I have no problem complying with the letter of this law,” said Mr. Issott, who lives in the western city of Kobe. “But I am utterly disgusted that they haven’t found a way to make this quicker and more painless.”

Asahi: Tokyo Narita Immigration loses personal data for 432 NJ


Hi Blog. Been a busy day, what with the Fingerprinting fiasco. This will be the last article (for tonight anyway) related to the issue.

One of Immigration’s mantras has been how they will take proper care of all the biometric data they drag out of their gaijin patsies.

I’m not confident of that, in light of what happened last May. This article has been sitting in my blog intray for months now, but I had a feeling it would become very relevant soon. Here it is. Incompetence in spades, these people. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Asahi Shinbun March 28, 2007
(Translated by Arudou Debito)

TOKYO – Tokyo Immigration announced on March 28 that it had lost flash memory at its headquarters and Narita Airport Branch, regarding personal information for visa overstayers and deported foreigners. They say that no trace of it remains, and there is no danger of the data being misused.

The same agency said last December that an Immigration official in his thirties, based at headquarters, had lost saved memory–names, dates of birth, embarkation points, and other documented details–for 137 foreign overstayers currently being processed for deportation. Also last December, another official in his twenties based at Narita had lost saved memory in the form of a “deportation notebook”. In that, an additional 295 foreigners had had their names, dates of birth, reasons for deporting etc. recorded for deportation.

朝日:外国人計432人分の個人情報を紛失 東京入管


ブログの皆様、入管は「指紋などのデータを大事にする」というものの、こういうことも今年5月にあったことです。きちんと管理することに自信はありません。有道 出人


外国人計432人分の個人情報を紛失 東京入管
朝日新聞 2007年05月28日18時47分



Kobe Regatta Club Prez Dr Sadhwani on NJ Fingerprinting debacle


Hi Blog. This is a letter from Dr Deepu Sadhwani, President of the oldest group of long-term NJ in the Kansai, Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club. These are his thoughts on the NJ Fingerprinting policy, blogged with permission. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Hi All,

An unedited version of an article that will go in our monthly mag. this weekend. It also goes out electronically to hundreds on our list both here and abroad.

Regards, Deepu

Many of you will probably be travelling out of the country during the next few weeks. When you return you will find that you will be treated as a second class citizen or worse. The new immigration law that came into effect on November 20th. 2007 treats all expatriates as such. You will be finger-printed and photographed each time you re-enter Japan. George Orwell would say, i told you so!!

The local authorities even contradict their own laws and resolutions by not installing proper equipment in all the airports and therefore it will take you hours before you can exit the terminal due to the long queues you will have to face. Narita airport being the exception. In a country that has had the Alien Registration system in place for years, a system that was already regarded as being insulting, why would the authorities need to verify information they already have?

It may be understandable in today’s difficult world that a first time visitor be obliged to go through this procedure. But for one who has all the proper documentation, for one who has visited on numerous occasions or lived here for a long time and for those who have Japanese partners and/or permanent residency, how can you sit back passively and see these perverted laws being enacted before your very eyes? It is time for each and everyone of us to make a stand. You have all recently been forwarded mail received from Mr. Debito and Mr. Issott, two concerned people who are really trying, mail that gives plenty of information and suggestions as to what we can do.

The way the authorities are going about welcoming expatriates to Japan is the equivalent of International political Hara-Kiri. Why would any expatriate business people who travel a lot want to be based in Japan? Most of the other countries in South East Asia offer simplified procedures that allow for easy travel and or transit. With the way it’s going now, i fear that we will lose many more expatriates and Kobe most of all can least afford that scenario.

We can all sit back and say, well if they’re going to get you they’re going to get you. Just like Asashoryu, they’re going to get you. We can also make a stand and express our grievances starting with our embassies. Isn’t that what they are there for? Don’t let them pass the buck. It is their duty, one where they must act in the interest of all the expatriates.

The new law is not the only area of major concern. In case you missed it, Mr. Debito wrote a very informative article in the Japan Times regarding the laws on checking of Alien Registration cards and with his permission, for which i am very thankful, reproduce some of the pertinent facts.

“The police have now deputized the whole nation to check on our cards and they get away with it as most of us do not know our rights and or the laws. When a cop demands to see your card on the street, you are not required to show it unless the officer shows you his ID first under the Foreign Registry Law (Article 13). Ask for the officer’s card and write it down. Furthemore, under the Police Execution of Duties Law (Article 2), cops aren’t allowed to ask anyone for ID without probable cause for suspicion of crime. Just being a foreigner doesn’t count. Point that out. And as for gaijin-carding by employers, under the new law (Article 28) you are under no obligation to say anything more than what your visa status is, and that it is valid.”

So you see dear readers, there’s possibly much more to come if we don’t utilize all of our forces at our command now to point out these fallible procedures and laws. Please send your comments to the General Committee to give us more strength in conveying this message to the authorities. Tell everyone you know to write to any figure of authority. Any help from you will make this wave of protest that much stronger. Do not remain silent.

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Deepu Sadhwani

NHK 7PM on Fingerprinting (You Tube), plus 11PM news programs and CNN


Vincent has uploaded the Nov 20 NHK 7pm Evening News segment about fingerprinting (2 min 52 sec, English dubbing) on YouTube:

Same with NHK Newswatch 9pm. Somewhat longer and more detailed than Evening News 7pm. Uploaded in Youtube (6 min 10 sec), and with a greater attempt at balance (but still far more airtime given to making the GOJ’s case). Link:


As for the Nov 20 11PM News shows (10PM’s News Station put it on as a blurb at the very end).

I watched Chikushi Tetsuya’s News 23–they featured the FP story very prominently with an interview with critics (Amnesty’s Teranaka saying that FP has caught very few people, if any, and is in no way an effective measure) and even a rupo at the AI/SMJ demonstration at noon today. There were some interviews included with NJ who grumbled about the wait. Summary comments by anchors at the end questioned why Japan was even instituting the program at all.

Also Zero news gave it about five minutes early, with some more coverage of machines not behaving properly, and very annoyed tourists (one elderly Korean using some really impressive angry English). The point of both was that this whole thing was a mess.

NHK BS 10:50 didn’t even bother to have it in their headlines. As others have said, it makes one wonder why NJ would ever bother to pay any NHK fees. When something like this affects at least 1.5 million Japanese residents (millions more if you include their Japanese families), this is unignorable news. Whatever coverage there was basically toed the GOJ line and gave little, if any, coverage to the controversy. Very, very disappointing NHK.

Finally, CNN, courtesy of Olaf:
Japan begins identifying foreigners
CNN, November 20, 2007
Diplomats, government workers, permanent residents exempt from practice
Japan is second country after U.S. to implement practices
Tokyo says move made to combat international terrorism
Critics say practice is discriminatory and violates privacy

NARITA, Japan (AP) — Japan started fingerprinting and photographing arriving foreigners Tuesday in a crackdown on terrorists, despite complaints that the measures unfairly target non-Japanese.

Nearly all foreigners age 16 or over, including longtime residents, will be scanned. The only exceptions are diplomats, government guests and permanent residents such as Koreans who have lived in Japan for generations.

Tokyo has staunchly backed the U.S.-led attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan, raising fears Japan could be targeted by terrorists.

Officials said the new security measures, while inconvenient for visitors, were necessary.

“There are people who change their names, use wrongly obtained passports, and pretend to be other people,” said Toshihiro Higaki, an immigration official at Narita International Airport near Tokyo. “The measure also works as a deterrent.”

The fingerprints and photos will be checked for matches on terrorist watch lists and files on foreigners with criminal records in Japan. People matching the data will be denied entry and deported.

Japan is the second country after the United States to implement such a system, said Immigration Bureau official Takumi Sato.

He said there had been no reports of trouble since the checks began Tuesday morning.

Critics, however, said the measures discriminate against foreigners and violate their privacy. A group of nearly 70 civic groups from around the world delivered a letter of protest Monday to Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama.

“We believe that your plans … are a gross and disproportionate infringement upon civil liberties, copying the most ineffective, costly and risky practices on border management from around the world,” the letter said.

Immigration officials say the bureau plans to store the data for “a long time,” without saying how long. It is unclear how many people will be affected; Japan had 8.11 million foreign entries in 2006.

Concerns about extremists coming into Japan spiked when reports emerged in May 2004 that Lionel Dumont, a French citizen with suspected links to al Qaeda and a history of violent crime, repeatedly entered the country on a fake passport.

Dumont, who was later sentenced to 30 years in prison in France, was reportedly trying to set up a terror cell when he lived undisturbed in Japan in 2002 and 2003.

Last month, Justice Minister Hatoyama came under fire over his assertion that a friend of his had an acquaintance who was a member of the al Qaeda terrorist group.

Sankei Shinbun on Fingerprinting equipment SNAFUs


Hi Blog. Here’s a funny article. In high school psychology class, we learned about a mental process called “projection”, where a batter blames the bat instead of himself for the strike-out. Well, Immigration today was a paragon of projection. Maybe the system is just no damn good from the start. Or maybe it’s just plain Karma. Read on. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


First Day of New Immigration System: Continuous Troubles
Sankei Shinbun Nov 20, 2007
(Translated by Arudou Debito)

November 20, the day the new biometric system was inaugurated for foreigners at Immigration, has seen continuous troubles at every port of entry with taking prints and equipment failure.

There were errors with reading data for about 30 people at Hakata Port, and after redoing the procedure, only four people were recorded. The Immigration official in charge decided to waive the procedure and everyone in. The official claimed the equipment was not faulty, rather, “It seems there were a lot of elderly people whose fingerprints had been worn down after years on the farm.”

At Narita Airport, one Australian man’s fingerprints were unreadable, and the process took more than an hour. According to the Immigration Bureau at at Narita, there are cases where people’s fingertips were too dry to be read. At Shin-Chitose Airport in Hokkaido, there were reports of more failures, the cause seen as dry skin.

At Fushiki Toyama Port, Toyama Prefecture, three out of five portable fingerprint readers were inoperative right after the start of usage. After rebooting their systems, only one machine became operable, and it died after 30 minutes. Use was discontinued.


産經新聞:新入国審査システム初日 トラブル続出


新入国審査システム初日 トラブル続出
2007.11.20 12:51






Yomiuri Editorial justifying NJ Fingerprinting as anti-crime measure


Hoo-hah. Here’s the best argument yet for fingerprinting almost all foreign visitors, er, all foreigners, yet–all put together nicely for one-stop shopping. November 19, 2007 editorial in the Yomiuri–with its fundamental association of extranationality with criminality and insecurity. Note how anti-crime has been Trojan-Horsed into the arguments for anti-terrorism now. Thanks Yomiuri, wouldn’t have expected anything less from you. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Use fingerprints, photos to boost security
The Yomiuri Shimbun Nov 19, 2007
Courtesy of Thomas Bertrand

The revised Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law will go into effect Tuesday, introducing new immigration checks that require foreign visitors to be fingerprinted and photographed when they enter the country.

The main objective of the revised law is to block terrorists and foreign criminals from entering the country. If it is proven to be effective, Japan’s reputation as a safe country will be bolstered.

Foreign visitors, including tourists, aged 16 or older will be subject to the new immigration examinations with the exception only of diplomats and special permanent residents such as South and North Korean residents in Japan.

The number of foreigners visiting Japan has been steadily rising. Last year, it totaled about 8.1 million, up more than 650,000 from the previous year.

One reason behind the increase is that the government, which has been trying to strengthen the tourism industry, has implemented measures to woo foreign tourists.

The government needs to give careful consideration in conducting the immigration checks to avoid a system breakdown or possible confusion in connection with the new examination procedures.


Electronic data collection

An electronic reading device will be used to collect fingerprint data from the index finger of each hand and foreign visitors’ faces will be digitally photographed. The scanned fingerprint data will be cross-checked against a blacklist on a database in a few seconds. If the data matches that of suspected criminals on the police’s wanted list or information on terrorists obtained through the United Nations and Interpol, the Immigration Bureau will immediately reject their entry into Japan and notify the police.

In the past, a man linked to Al-Qaida passed through Japan’s immigration despite the fact there was an international warrant for his arrest, complete with his fingerprints. Such a blunder must not be repeated. Fingerprint data collected at immigration can be used in criminal investigations in cases in which police find fingerprints at the scene of a crime believed to have been committed by non-Japanese.

The blacklist includes people who have been deported from Japan in the past. An increasing number of people who were once kicked out have later reentered the country with a fake passport or a passport that they obtained by changing their name. The new immigration checks will be useful in preventing such illegal entries into Japan.


International effort needed

The government needs to cooperate with other countries and constantly update the database. The bureau apparently expects the new measures will bring about a deterrent effect, which could make suspicious foreign visitors abandon their attempt to enter the country.

The United States has already introduced measures to fingerprint and photograph all foreign visitors in principle. Britain obliges visa applicants to be fingerprinted upon issuance. Indeed, many other countries are interested in obtaining personal identification data from foreign visitors, including fingerprints.

The government dispatched relevant officials to China, South Korea and Taiwan to explain Japan’s new immigration check system. The Asian neighbors, according to the government, basically expressed understanding for the envisioned measures. Fighting terrorism is a common task for the international society. These countries obviously recognize its importance.

Japan will host the Group of Eight summit meeting at the Lake Toya hot spring resort in Toyakocho, Hokkaido, next year. Together with strengthening immigration checks, we hope the government will take all possible means to ensure coastal security and prevent terrorism in this country.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 19, 2007)

読売社説: 改正入管法 指紋・顔写真を治安改善に生かせ


ブログの読者諸君、読売社説は「反テロ措置」の外国人一般永住者でも指紋採取となる正当化は益々、「外国人犯罪の未然防止」まで走っていますね。それであっても、なぜ日本のマスコミはどうしても「外国人=テロ・犯罪」を描写するのですか。そこまで防犯・テロを防止したければ、漏れなく日本国民も指紋採取もしなければいけないですよね。特に、殆どの国内犯罪は日本人に犯され、いままで全ての国内テロ事件は日本人(赤軍、アウム等)に行われました。そう考えれば、この読売社説はアジトだと主張するのは過言ではないと思います。有道 出人


改正入管法 指紋・顔写真を治安改善に生かせ(11月19日付・読売社説)














(2007年11月19日1時31分 読売新聞)

Mainichi on Fingerprinting protests outside MOJ



An inflatable finger protestors used outside the Justice Ministry in Tokyo on Tuesday. (MDN)
(article follows photos)

Pictures of protestors (MDN)

Protesters ‘flip the bird’ at Justice Ministry over forced fingerprinting
Mainichi Daily News Nov 20, 2007

Protestors inflated a 3-meter-high yellow hand with an extended forefinger and thrust it toward the Justice Ministry’s offices in Tokyo on Tuesday to demonstrate against a controversial fingerprinting policy beginning at ports of entry across the country the same day.

About 80 protestors turned toward the ministry building and shouted in unison their opposition to the new policy, which requires all but a handful of foreigners to have their fingerprints and face photos taken to gain entry into Japan.

Representatives of human rights groups, labor unions, foreigners’ groups and individuals spoke out against the system — similar to the US-VISIT policy operating in the United States since 2004, but also targeting residents and not just tourists — calling it, among other things, “racist,” “xenophobic,” “retrogressive” and “an invasion of human rights and privacy.”

“It’s an expression of Japanese xenophobia. Japan is using this system as a tool to control foreigners. For the past few years, the government has been associating foreigners with things like crime and terrorism,” said Sonoko Kawakami, campaign coordinator for Amnesty International Japan, which organized Tuesday’s demonstration.

Lim Young-Ki, a representative of the Korean Youth Association in Japan, pointed out how ethnic Koreans had fought for decades until the 2000 abolition of fingerprinting on Alien Registration Certificates only to see the process revived through the back door now.

“This system is ostensibly an anti-terrorism measure, but it is extremely harmful to individuals and only applying the system to foreigners shows a lack of consideration for foreigners’ human rights. Even though the system of fingerprinting foreigners was completely abolished in April 2000, it’s infuriating that the Japanese government has reinstated this practice and this entry inspection system,” Lim said, reading a statement issued by his organization. “We want to use this demonstration to call on the Japanese government to promptly redress this system obligating foreigners to provide their fingerprints and face photos whenever they enter the country.”

Catherine Campbell of the National Union of General Workers Nanbu, whose ranks contain many foreigners, echoed a similar line.

“This is a big step backward and I really think it’s sad,” she said.

Another foreign woman who identified herself only as Jennifer said she is a permanent resident, having lived in Japan for 38 years and with a Japanese husband and Japanese national children. She spoke about having previously provided authorities with her fingerprint and face photo while taking out and updating her Alien Registration Certificate.

“They already have my photo and my fingerprint…many times over,” she said. “This step is quite unnecessary.”

But an official from the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau dismissed the protestors’ claims.

“This system was introduced to protect the lives and safety of citizens by preventing terrorism. There were rational reasons and necessities in introducing the system, which was approved by the Diet,” Yasuhiro Togo of the Immigration Bureau said, adding that the methods of fingerprinting differ from the abolished Alien Registration Certificate system. “The aim of taking fingerprints is different — we’re fighting against terrorism — and we will not be forcing people to put their fingers into ink as used to be the case. The fingerprints will all be taken and stored electronically.”

Changes to the immigration law in May last year allowed for the collection of biometric data. Now, except for special permanent residents — who are largely people born and bred in Japan — diplomats, children under 16 and others the government deems can be excluded, any non-Japanese entering the country must provide the fingerprints from the index fingers on both hands and a photo of their face before they can be permitted to enter the country.

The government says the new system is aimed at combating terrorism, but has also said it will provide data to crime-fighting authorities upon request. The Immigration Bureau’s Togo said such information would be handled in accordance with the Private Information Protection Law. He added that information collected by immigration authorities would not be handed over to foreign governments. (By Ryann Connell)

Immig Fingerprinting NJ from today, media coverage (or lack of), GOJ data security breaches


Hi Blog. It’s Nov 20, FP Day. Keep your eyes peeled for how the media talks about the event, send in briefs (or copies of whole articles, duly credited) about what you see. A reader wrote in last night to say:

Absolutely no mention of fingerprinting NJ entering Japan starting tomorrow. I’ll give them another chance tomorrow night, but that’s it. If they don’t find this new policy newsworthy, why should the foreign community pay for NHK?

Also notable that it is still hard to find a regular Japanese person who is even aware the policy is coming into effect. Not surprising really if NHK has nothing to say about it.

Wow, the anger runneth over these days. Quite so. Speaking of media, here’s a post from a friend who also considers the dearth of coverage (except to justify it as a domestic crime-prevention measure by hiring former baseball pitchers as spokespeople). Have a read. Debito in Sapporo


Hi Debito. Guess what was just posted to YouTube? If you guessed official (painless looking) instructions for fingerprinting and photographing, complete with elevator music and a smiling foreigner, you’d be right!

Is this the official video to be shown on flights entering Japan??? Doh! To be fair, I don’t know how they can offer in-flight instructions without coming across like they see us as criminals.


I really hope someone can post a catchy video on YouTube WITH a link to the petition right below this watered-down load of rubbish! So far, only TWO videos uploaded to YouTube on fingerprinting in Japan. I’m surprised no one else has thought to do this, yet. The other video is a news clip from Japanese television. Anyway, only 38 “views” so far on that link I included.

Also found some information on Japan Today that may interest you. I’m going to quote it since it didn’t come from me:

“Here’s an interesting development…”
WhatJapanThinks (Nov 19 2007 – 17:07)
外国人の指紋、20日から採取 「テロ対策」で入国時
2007年11月19日 朝刊 中日新聞

Focus on last paragraph:


Japanese and Zainichi, etc (or since this is news to me, “also”) can preregister their fingerprints for the express lane(s).”


Posted by: nigelboy (Nov 19 2007 – 18:31)

“Posted by nigelboy November 14th 14:04

It’s part of the SPT program (Simplyfying Passenger Travel)

Also some stories in there regarding the current conditions before the procedures are brought in:


“Today at Narita”
genkidave (Nov 19 2007 – 23:55)

“went to see a buddy off back to New Zaland and as usual showed my alien card as ID after getting off the train. Was then singled out by an overzealous policemen for no reason (apparently spot checks) and given the 3rd degree. I even had to hand over my current mobile number. While asking me many questions he was flatout filling in a form. I guess they are trying to get more data than they have now on record. We must be given a chance to register our prints and a photo once and that should be the end of it. From then on we should be in the re-entry line!!”


“Immigration fingerprinting, photographing device unveiled at Narita”
Richard_III (Nov 19 2007 – 16:59)

“I flew out of Narita a couple of weeks ago and they were separating gaijin from J then. That pretty much narked me off as I had to queue for 25 mins (this is in spite of paying J taxes and employing people here). The thought of then either having to queue and answer questions or go through the typically bureaucratic and petty minded pre-application procedure – which would nark me even more – then the stresses of flying out of Narita are bound to quadruple.”


All these quotes come from:

By the way: I love the idea of having a page for the stories of those that are coming through the airports. That’s apparently being done over here too:

Well worth a look. I, too, am interested in hearing those stories.

You may also want to do a small story on how the government is losing personal info right, left, and center these days. I can point you in the right direction:


731 SDF applicants’ details leaked onto Internet
731 SDF applicants’ details leaked onto Internet
The Yomiuri Shimbun

Personal details of 731 people who passed the first-stage entrance examination for recruitment by the Self-Defense Forces have been accidently uploaded onto the Internet, it has been learned.

The Defense Ministry learned the list had been online for six weeks and has begun investigating how the information was compromised.

The list–confidentially created using spreadsheet software by Yokohama-based SDF Kanagawa Provincial Cooperation Office, which recruits self-defense officers in Kanagawa–included Kanagawa Prefecture-based applicants’ personal details including their name, sex, date of birth, address, cell phone number and parents’ names.

On the list, each candidate’s former high school was recorded as well as the prefectural rankings of the high schools, taken from a commercially available information book for high school examinations.

In addition, the list was sorted by applicants’ preferred personnel assignments such as the Ground, Maritime or Air Self-Defense Forces. The list also included the names of self-defense officers–likely the recruiters of the individual candidates.

The recruitment office said it conducted the first-stage entrance examination in September. Though the office intended to make only the identification number of those who passed the first-round examination available online, the office likely mistakenly posted the entire list on the Internet on Oct. 1 when it uploaded the ID numbers.

Later, the site was updated, hiding the list, but the Web page remained accessible via search engines.

After a family member of an examinee whose name was on the list made the office aware of the problem Friday evening, the office barred access to the list.

“We intend to inform the examinees [about the leak] and apologize to them,” the office said. “We’ll study what measures should be taken to prevent such leaks occurring in the future.”

Families of examinees have expressed their dismay over the mishandling of the information.

“The situation, which saw detailed personal information made available online, is a serious error that caused problems for the examinees,” the man who told the office of the errors said. “They have to realize the severity of the situation.”

“I worked as an SDF officer. I think it was disgraceful,” the father of a male examinee said. “They let their guard down…now we’re afraid what the information could be used for. The Defense Ministry has been hit by so many scandals that even as a former officer, I find it hard to be proud of it.”

The Defense Ministry and SDF have been hit by a succession of information leaks. In February last year, confidential data on the MSDF destroyer Asayuki was leaked onto the Internet through members’ privately owned computers, which had been installed with a file-exchange program.

In April last year, the Defense Ministry prohibited the use of privately owned computers in the workplace, and barred personnel from handling business data on privately owned computers. Then, SDF members were visited at home by inspectors who checked whether personnel had stored business data on their computers.
(Yomiuri Nov. 18, 2007)


Japanese finger virus for police document leak

Japanese finger virus for police document leak
Bug in Japan
By John Leyden The Register
Published Wednesday 7th April 2004 14:56 GMT

Japanese police are blaming a computer virus for a leak of information about criminal investigations.
Information from 19 documents – including investigation reports, expert opinions and police searches – found its way from the hard disk of an officer from Shimogamo Police Station in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, onto the Net last month.

The names, birthdays, addresses and other personal data of 11 people were listed in the leaked documents, along with a detailed description of an alleged crime. Police have promised to notify the 11, including an alleged crime victim, to explain the cock-up.

Japanese newspaper Daily Yomiuri reports that police suspect that a computer virus might have sucked up this sensitive data and spread it over the Net. Viruses like SirCam are capable of this kind of behaviour but an equally likely scenario is that the hapless officer’s PC was hacked into.

The leak only came to light after the data was made available to all and sundry over the popular Winny P2P network, the Asahi Shimbun reports.

The officer at the centre of the debacle created the leaked documents in 2002 while practicing how to fill out forms using real data instead of dummy entries.

He was on police box duty and authorised to use his own PC but not to save sensitive data on it, a violation in police procedures that has become the subject of disciplinary inquiry.


Nine laptop computers stolen from Japanese Embassy in Belgium
Nine laptop computers stolen from Japanese Embassy in Belgium

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Thieves broke into the Japanese Embassy in Belgium and stole nine laptop computers, including one belonging to the consul, embassy officials have announced.

The break-in is believed to have occurred between the evening of Nov. 2 and the predawn hours of Nov. 3. Officials said nothing besides the computers had been stolen. They added that no confidential diplomatic information had been leaked outside the embassy.

The embassy is located on the sixth and seventh floors of a seven-story building in the middle of Brussels. Investigators said the locks on double-layer doors at the entrance on the sixth floor had been broken.

The embassy was closed between Nov. 1 and 4 for national holidays and the weekend. Japanese officials have asked the government in Belgium to boost security in the wake of the incident.
(Mainichi Japan) November 5, 2007
Original Japanese story:



毎日新聞 2007年11月5日 1時10分 (最終更新時間 11月5日 1時13分)

Yomiuri has it at eleven laptops with details on the contents of those laptops —


11 laptop PCs stolen from Brussels embassy
11 laptop PCs stolen from Brussels embassy
The Yomiuri Shimbun

Eleven laptop computers were stolen from the Japanese Embassy in central Brussels earlier this month, leading to fears that personal information on about 12,700 Japanese living in Belgium may have been exposed, the embassy said Wednesday.

The robbery is believed to have taken place early Nov. 3. Security guards alerted by an alarm found the lock broken on the seventh-floor entrance to the embassy in an office building.

Some of the stolen computers held electronic data on matters such as the expats’ residence certification, overseas voting registration and passport information, according to the embassy.

The residence certification contains details such as a person’s name, birthdate, permanent address in Japan, occupation, family information and passport number.

(Yomiuri Nov. 15, 2007)

If they can’t take care of personal information for their own citizens, how can they be expected to take care of foreigners’ information?

Still digging around and keeping my eyes open for new information. I will contact you again if I find anything. Hope this helps! M

American Chamber of Commerce Japan on negotiations re NJ Fingerprinting



Subject: Info. on New Japan Immigrations Entry Procedures eff. from Nov. 20th

Dear SCCJ Member,

Re. New Immigration Entry Procedure, we send you the following mail sent by ACCJ for your information.

Dear ACCJ Member,

As most undoubtedly are aware, this coming week, new immigrations procedures will go into effect in Japan requiring the collection of biometric data (facial photograph and fingerprints) for most foreign citizens entering the country.

Your Transportation and Logistics Committee as well as Board leaders have been working hard with local Immigrations authorities at the international airports as well as the Ministry of Justice, Immigration Bureau.

We believe that the Government of Japan is well aware of the issues of concern to the foreign business community and has worked collaboratively with us to mitigate any major difficulties at the transition. We are committed to closely monitoring implementation and will keep you apprised of any developments.

The following is a recap of measures that will be introduced to ensure that the new procedures are implemented as smoothly as possible:

Narita International Airport – Tokyo: – Add 100 immigration officers during the transition period – Provide dedicated queues for foreigners with re-entry permits – Provide dedicated queues for airline crew members and disabled/ reduced mobility passengers – Offer automated immigration gates in Terminal 1 South Wing and Terminal 2 for pre-registered travelers. Registration is available at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau or the Narita District Office – Install cameras/fingerprint readers at all positions and dynamically expand number of queues available to foreigners – At least initially, allow mixed nationality families with children under the age of 16 and one Japanese parent to use the Japanese passport holder lanes

Central Japan International Airport – Nagoya: – Add 18 immigration officers during the transition period – Provide a dedicated queue for airline crew members and disabled/ reduced mobility passengers – Install cameras/fingerprint readers at all positions and dynamically expand number of queues available to foreigners – At least initially allow mixed nationality families (at least one Japanese parent) to use Japanese passport holder lanes – Consider installing automated immigration gates during 2008

Kansai International Airport – Osaka: – Add immigrations officers (number under study) during transition period – Provide a dedicated queue for airline crew members and disabled/ reduced mobility passengers – Install cameras/fingerprint readers at all positions and dynamically expand number of queues available to foreigners – Consider installing automated immigration gates during 2008 Note: the Kansai region is home to a large number of Korean special permanent residents who will use the Japanese passport holders lanes and are not subject to biometric data collection

Other airports: The U.S. carriers have met with the local immigrations authorities and believe that because a high percentage of passengers using these secondary airports, foreign citizens will encounter few problems.

Airlines: – Will actively advise foreign arriving passengers of the new procedures–onboard videos and/or announcements – Will actively encourage/monitor completion of Embarkation/ Disembarkation forms to minimize secondary queuing of passengers

If you have any questions or wish to provide feedback, please direct an email to the Transportation and Logistic Committee.


Charles Duncan and Masamichi Ujiie,
Co-Chairs Transportation and Logistics Committee (Sent by ACCJ Communications)

The Swedish Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan – SCCJ
6-12 Kioicho Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0094
Tel: 03-5211-2101 Fax: 03-5211-2102

Letter to Dr Deepu Sadhwani, President, Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club, re protesting NJ Fingerprint policy


Hi Blog. This is a letter I sent out tonight in response to Dr Deepu Sadhwani, President, Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club, who introduced himself today, and asked what he and his members (long-term residents of the Kansai) could do to protest the NJ Fingerprinting policy. Feel free to forward my response around to others that need convincing of the the whats, whys, and hows. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


From: Deepu Sadhwani
Date: November 15, 2007

Dear Debito,

Hi, my name is Deepu Sadhwani currently serving as President of the Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club. As mentioned by Mr. Issott, i am prepared to help in any way i can. I have many city councilmen amongst my contacts. They have been helping me in our fight with City Hall for the land rights of our Club. They are all stand up people and will fight a good fight. I understand the immediate priority is to get the scans installed at airports besides Narita but i believe we should carry this fight all the way. The whole process stinks and the airport checks is but only a start of many other hassles to come.

Please let me know how we can be of assistance. For your information the KR&AC was given a manifesto way back in the late 1800’s by the Embassies that said that the President and Committee of the KR&AC were to be the de facto leaders of the foreign community of Kobe, something that has never been changed though has not been used in decades either. I intend reminding City Hall of this.

Awaiting your advise, Deepu.

Debito……You can quote me on anything i write and put it in your blog if you like. I will be writing a special report for our KR&AC magazine and will be quoting from your article in the Japan Times that appeared on Nov. 13th. I will also be making representation to City Hall shortly and meet a group of concerned city councilmen. Best regards, Deepu

Sorry, forgot to mention. When i was at immigration this morning the tanto sha did mention that there would be officials pointing out booths for re-entry permit holders but that these booths would be the ones that the Japanese go through. In other words till the Japanese are done we’re still in line.


Hello Dr Sadhwani. Arudou Debito in Sapporo here. Thank you very much for your email. Received with great honor and gratitude. Let me take this opportunity to make a few suggestions to your membership about activities you might engage in to protest the fingerprinting policy:

1) At any public opportunity you have, in any venue you deem appropriate, slip in a subtle (or not so subtle) indication that you have serious misgivings about a policy that follows the logic of treating all non-Japanese axiomatically as “terrorists and carriers of infectious diseases”.
And one that treats all long-term non-Japanese residents and taxpayers as tourists, non-residents, and aliens unconnected to their Japanese families–no matter how long they’ve lived here and contributed to this society’s demographically-troubled future.

Suggested venues include meetings with public officials, members of the government and bureaucracy, the diplomatic corps, press outlets, agencies connected with tourism and foreign exchange, and especially politicians. A mention in passing is fine. But do a little something. Remind them that this issue is not going to go away, and we are not just good little “guests” that will take a slight as deep as this lightly.

2) Encourage your friends to take their trips elsewhere–tell them you’ll meet them overseas. Even encourage them to join in the fight. For example, a contributor wrote me tonight:

Hello there, It really may sound quite a childish step to take, but if people wish to show their displeasure with the
fingerprinting/photo issue, then send a query to the JNTO in the UK (or any other office in an industrialised nation whose visitors and cash Japan would like to attract) asking about the new immigration rules as if you were thinking of bringing
your family to Japan for an extended visit (don’t use an obviously Japanese email address–plenty of etc addresses available).

When they reply with a raft of information about the new entry procedures, write back and tell them that it’s all too much and that sadly you will have to forgo the treat of a visit to ‘beautiful Japan’ and that you will visit somewhere else (how about Korea or China!?).

If enough people do this, negative feedback about these measures from the JNTO may be heard where the rising sun doesn’t shine. Best regards, G. Alexander.

3) Write letters of your own to pertinent ministries and outlets. A template letter and suggestions on places to send it are available at
Consider even handing it to Immigration every time you clear Customs.

Others have proposed protest t-shirts, buttons, or other means to show your discomfort that are public and vocal. If you can help out with any of these efforts (if you have the means), please let me know. If you have other suggestions, please feel free to visit my blog and leave a comment and/or suggestion, anonymously if you prefer, or write me at


PASSIVE: Refuse to be separated from your Japanese families at the border. Stand in the same line. Slow things up. Make it clear that Japan is not immune to the effects of immigration and globalization, and that it must remember that Japan’s international residents are as integrated into and contributing to this society as any other citizen.

In short, please don’t do nothing. Please consider showing that the “gaijin” being targeted by this policy (essentially anyone who is not US Military under SOFA, Diplomats, or Zainichi Korean/Chinese etc.–since their being exempted is purely political; they would have more effectively fought back if fingerprinted as well) are neither docile nor impervious to being treated as suspicious criminals–by a government that is happy to take their resident taxes and tourist dollars, yet not treat them with the commensurate respect.

If you need more background on the issue, my files on fingerprinting issue may be found on my blog under a special category, through the link below:

If you still need convincing of the gravity of this situation, please consider reading my essay in Metropolis (October 26), about why this policy is such a bad idea.

And if you need a second opinion, consider that of Terrie Lloyd, entrepreneur, publisher of Japan Inc and Metropolis, and fellow long-term resident, in a recent “Terrie’s Take” (November 11). He calls this “an unmitigated public relations disaster for the Japanese government and the Justice Ministry in particular” :
Also recent protest letters from the European Business Council and the Australian/NZ Chambers of Commerce:

I hope that this inspires you do to what you can. Please consider forwarding my message around to anyone you like. We probably cannot stop the promulgation of this law from November 20 (and it will affect you down in the Kansai much worse than those coming through Narita–see Martin Issott’s evidence of this at But we can certainly inconvenience the promulgators right back. And so far, sustained protest has had a discernible effect on the authorities.

Thanks for reading and considering.

With best wishes, Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan,
November 15, 2007

Official instructions on Narita automated gate for NJ fingerprinting


[For Foreigners]
(Reference Material for the PR Dept.)

Operation of the Automated Gate

Ministry of Justice, Immigration Bureau

1. Introduction
Automated gates will be placed at Narita Airport from November 20th, 2007, in order to improve convenience of immigration procedures by simplifying and accelerating them. We would like to ask foreigners who wish to use the automated gates to provide their personal identification information (fingerprints and a facial portrait) in advance and register themselves as applicants in order to use the gate.

2. Registration as an Applicant to Use the Automated Gate
(1) Required Items for Registration
1. Valid passport (including Re-entry Permit) and re-entry permission
2. Application form to use the automated gate
(2) Where and When to Register
We will be accepting applications from November 20th at the locations stated below:
1. Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau
Application Counter for re-entry permission (2F) 9:00-16:00 (Except Saturdays, Sundays, National Holidays and December 29th to January 3rd)
2. Narita Airport District Immigration Office
The departure inspection area at South Wing of Passenger Terminal 1: 9:00-17:00
The departure inspection area at the South Exit of Passenger Terminal 2: 9:00-17:00
(3) Registration Procedures
Submit your application form with your passport and provide fingerprints of both index fingers and a facial portrait.
Then, when the official affixes a registration stamp on your passport, the registration procedure is complete. In principle, you can use the gate from that day forward.
(4) Points of Concern for the Registration
1. Time Limit of Registration
You can register until the expiration date of your passport or the expiration date of your re-entry permit, whichever comes earlier.
2. Registration Restrictions
In some cases, such as when you cannot provide fingerprints, you may not be able to register.
3. Using and Providing the Registered Information
We will manage information including fingerprints and facial portraits provided at the registration as personal information set forth in laws on protection of personal information held by administrative agencies, and the information will not be used or provided beyond the range allowed for in these laws.
4. Deletion of Registration
Submit the application form to delete registration if you wish to delete your registration. Then, your registration will be deleted and the fingerprints and facial portrait you provided will be erased.

3. How to Use the Gate
(1) How to Use the Gate
1. When you arrive
Step forward before the immigration officer and place your passport over the Passport Reader. After being recognized as a registrant, provide your fingerprints and facial portrait. Then, submit your passport and ED card to the immigration officer. After checking, the gate will open. Arrival inspection procedures are now complete.
2. When you depart
Step forward before the immigration officer and place your passport over the Passport Reader. After being recognized as a registrant, provide your fingerprints. Then, submit your passport and ED card to the immigration officer. After checking, the gate will open. Departure inspection procedures are now complete.
(2) When you use the automated gate, as a rule, the entry/departure record (a stamp) will not be left on your passport.

Former Giants pitcher tarento promotes Narita Fingerprinting NJ system as “Anti-Crime” measure


Well, here’s the ultimate in government greenmailing: Get a real pitcher to pitch the system. Check out this chucklehead:

FINGERED — TV celebrity Kazutomo Miyamoto tries out the new foreigner fingerprinting system at Narita Airport. As a Japanese national, Miyamoto will not need to have his fingerprints taken when the new system comes into operation from Nov. 20. (Mainichi)

Celebrity uses fingerprint photo-op to call for cut in foreign crime

NARITA — TV celebrity Kazutomo Miyamoto urged immigration officials during a photo-op to use a new process to fingerprint inbound foreigners to fight foreign crime, not terrorism as the government claims the system will be used for.

“I think it’d be best if we could cut the amount of crime foreigners are committing and make Japan a safer place,” Miyamoto said at Narita Airport, where he was serving as the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau Chief For a Day as a promotional event for the fingerprinting process.

Starting from Nov. 20, Japan will follow the United States to become the second country in the world to implement individual recognition software for foreigners entering and leaving the country.

With the new system, nearly all foreigners will have to have fingerprints from both hands and a picture of their face recorded. Fingerprints will be verified with a list in what the government says will be an attempt to prevent terrorists or known criminals from entering Japan.

Japanese nationals will be able to pass through Immigration via an automated gate instead of waiting in line to be processed by officials if they have applied for permission and submitted fingerprints in advance.

Miyamoto, 43, was once a pitcher for the Yomiuri Giants.


COMMENT: Anything for a photo-op–even if it’s at the expense of Japan’s NJ residents (whom Kazutomo-kun probably knows next to nothing about). He isn’t going to be fingerprinted under any circumstances anyway, so I guess this is his only chance.

Pity he thinks that it’s for stopping foreign crime (which is, in fact, falling). Sorry chum, it’s allegedly for preventing terrorism and disease; and if you think it will make Japan a safer place, your publicist is as uninformed as you.

Then again, profiteering helps. According to a reliable source, these photo-ops run JPY 300,000 to 500,000. Nice bit of pocket change to get your fingers on afterwards.

Let Kazutomo-kun know your feelings at his official site:

Steve Koya below also notes that Mr Miyamoto’s manager’s office number is Tel:03-3224-1681 Fax:03-3224-1682 for anyone else who would like to make a complaint.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo



一日入国管理局長:宮本さん、個人識別の手続き体験−−東京入管成田支局 /千葉
11月14日12時5分配信 毎日新聞 11月14日朝刊





Fingerprinting Protest: Lionel Dersot on making your own “WANTED” poster


Hi Blog. Here’s something I just got from Lionel Dersot out in cyberspace. If the idea tickles you, go for it. It does me. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Hello, I am Lionel Dersot, a French resident of 22 years in Tokyo. Following a post on my French blog about alternative, vital ways to express discontent with the biometric filling of foreigners reaching Japan from November 20, I have created a Flickr public photo gallery where I will host any Wanted Poster candidate picture of people wishing to tell others that ” I am not a terrorist”.

My original post that shows my own Wanted Poster is here:

The method to create and have you own WANTED poster uploaded is fairly simple. I did it in less than five minutes and I am no image application wizard. You need a free software and a decent digitized portrait picture of yourself.

Download the free PC software Poster Forge here:

– Use the WANTED template and replace the fox picture with your own portrait picture.
– Modify the text as you wish. You can even mix Japanese and alphabet.
– Save your poster as a jpeg file, if possible at a size of 450 x 600 pixel and no more.
– If you don’t know how to do this, just save it as a jpeg document.
– Send it to my email ID: ldersot [at] gmail [dot] com, and I will post it in the gallery whenever I have time.

The gallery is here:


1. Use your own real name, no pseudonym
2. Use a decent picture of yourself, no provocative pose, no NOVA bunny or sunglasses or weird face
3. Be creative with the wording but polite, no slang, no harsh words
4. Spread the word and tell other people

Note: If you know of a less time consuming method to store pictures in a shared gallery and save me time, I will gladly modify the scheme.

Regards, Lionel Dersot

Lionel Dersot
Business & Technology Interpretation
Face to face & Over-the-Phone
Skype ID: lionelskp

Global Voices Online: Some J bloggers’ view of NJ Fingerprinting


Hi Blog. Here are some translations, by Hanako Tokita at Global Voices Online, of some domestic voices in Japanese regarding the NJ Fingerprinting issue. Japanese and English T.

I won’t cut and paste them all here, since it is an elaborate site, but it’s worth a look. If only to see how half-baked the domestic debate has been.

Courtesy of Chris Salzberg. I hope Hana does more domestic comments, because given what I know and have experienced about how anonymity affects the responsibility of posters, I bet the ill-considered/reactionary/xenophobic comments are the majority. The ones up on GVO are surprisingly intelligent in places. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PS: GVO has appropriated Nick Wood’s excellent animation gif portraying the issue. Bravo.

LA Times and Terrie’s Take on NJ Fingerprinting: “an unmitigated public relations disaster for the GOJ”


Hi Blog. The issue just keeps on rolling. LA Times yesterday below says everything we’ve been saying, for a big US Pacific Coast audience with close ties to Japan (the article even includes Hatoyama and Al-Qaeda, just didn’t mention the GOJ’s connecting “contagious diseases and terrorism” to all NJ only); Terrie’s Take this morning even gives a shout-out to as an “excellent” source (thanks!). Notable quotes:

LAT: “Japan’s justice minister… even offered a bizarre personal anecdote to explain how easy it was for non-Japanese to sneak into the country. “A friend of my friend is a member of Al Qaeda,” Kunio Hatoyama told foreign reporters in Tokyo, saying that the man had entered Japan numerous times using fake passports and disguises. Hatoyama later backtracked slightly on his story, distancing himself from any connection to Al Qaeda and raising suspicions that he had embellished his anecdote to press the case for fingerprinting foreigners.”
Terrie’s Take: “We’ll say up front that the proposed measures have been an unmitigated public relations disaster for the Japanese government and the Justice Ministry in particular. Although the basic idea was to cooperate with the USA and other nations to try to catch potential terrorists at the borders, the measures have in fact proven to be disjointed, unorganized, and ultimately unworkable. They have also managed to infuriate pretty much every long-term, tax-paying, foreign resident in Japan.”

I’ll put Terrie Lloyd’s write up first, then Bruce Wallace of the LAT’s second. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E ‘S T A K E * * * * * * *

A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd. (
General Edition Sunday, November 11, 2007 Issue No. 445


Back in early October (TT-440) we talked about the coming changes at Immigration, where the authorities have decided in their wisdom that every foreigner in the land except those who are third generation Koreans and Taiwanese, diplomats, US soldiers, and kids, will be subject to anti-terrorist biometric checks at the airport every time we come into Japan. Since writing about that, we have had lots of email and have been following the situation pretty closely. Many thanks to all those people dropping us notes about the changes as they have been happening.

We’ll say up front that the proposed measures have been an unmitigated public relations disaster for the Japanese government and the Justice Ministry in particular. Although the basic idea was to cooperate with the USA and other nations to try to catch potential terrorists at the borders, the measures have in fact proven to be disjointed, unorganized, and ultimately unworkable. They have also managed to infuriate pretty much every long-term, tax-paying, foreign resident in Japan.

Let’s get an update on what is happening now.

As many readers will already know, the Immigration folks have decided to put in place a pre-registration system and an “automatic” gate at Narita, so that permanent residents and others with re-entrant visas will be able to by-pass the tourist lines so long as they are pre-registered. You can apparently pre-register either at the Tokyo Immigration Bureau at Konan, inconvenient at the best of times, or at Narita Airport.

The pre-registration counters will be at the South Wing of Terminal 1 and South Side of Terminal 2. Note that the opening times at Narita are limited to 9.00am-5.00pm. So it’s probably a good idea to go early. There is no indication of how long the pre-registration process takes, but comments we’ve heard so far are a few minutes if there is no queue.

However, having said that, since literally tens of thousands of people with re-entry visas will be leaving for Christmas, you should leave plenty of time to get the pre-registration done. For documentation you just need the application form (presumably they’ll give it to you) and your up-to-date passport.

Now, if you happen to be using an airport other than Narita, including Haneda, Nagoya, and Osaka, there will be no automatic gates, and thus pre-registration isn’t going to do you much good. We can see this riling a lot of foreign business people who have picked Japan for lifestyle but who frequently travel to China and elsewhere in Asia for business. For those people, moving to Singapore right now has to look pretty good. It seems that the Japanese government isn’t really that interested in foreign investment after all…

Now for those of you used to the Japanese floating new laws and changing them after feeling the heat from the public, there is some hope. We have heard through a well-placed friend that the Immigration senior management are surprised at the amount of negative reaction by the foreign community. While their being surprised shows just how out of touch they are, in any case we heard that Immigration may in fact consider exempting permanent residents from the re-entry procedure after-all. If they do this, at least they’ll be bringing themselves back in line with the USA, where this whole biometric fiasco started in the first place. There, the green card holders are allowed to enter immigration through the US Citizen lines.

As the procedures have started to unfold (why do we get the sense that they’re making this up as they go along?), there has been plenty of newspaper reader feedback in the Daily Yomiuri and other foreign press. You have the Japan apologists stating, “Well, these measures aren’t so bad, what’s a little fingerprinting and eye scanning every now and again if it keeps the country safe?” through to “Oh, those whiney foreigners, if they don’t like it, let them go home.”

The fact is that the fingerprinting and eye scanning really are just an irritating inconvenience. What is making people mad is how the government has decided that foreigners living in Japan for decades, and in a number of cases those who were even born here, are now lumped in with tourists coming in for a week on the way to China or elsewhere. This seemingly insignificant rule change has woken up a lot of resentment over how Japan treats its foreign residents in general.

Getting past the feelings of shabby treatment, you then get to a more disturbing situation — what happens to the data after it is collected? At the end of October, we attended an Amnesty International Japan press conference, where a prominent leader of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Barry Steinhardt, related what is done with the data collected in the USA’s US-VISIT program.

He made some very interesting points. Firstly, that the terrorist alert database being used by the USA contains 750,000 names — an order of magnitude larger than the actual number of likely terrorists in the world — meaning that there are a lot of people on that list who shouldn’t be there.

Secondly, the database has been proven many times to be flawed thanks to its very superficial data. Essentially, any person with a suspicious first name/last name, like that of Dr. Robert J. Johnson, is flagged at the port of entry and they are regularly dragged off for grilling. Treatment like this of innocent people has naturally caused tourism to the USA as a percentage of the global travel market to fall — in fact by 35% since 1992. Japan can look forward to much the same result.

Thirdly, although no one has admitted as such, the ACLU suspects from recent cases involving activists prevented from entering Canada, that the USA is now sharing its database with other nations.

The announcements by Immigration say that the new biometric checks are being put in place to detect known terrorists as they enter the country. However, Japan doesn’t possess its own list of foreign terrorists, mainly because there hasn’t been an incident of foreign terrorism on Japanese soil (well, OK, North Korean abductions, maybe) since WWII. Thus, for them to correlate tourists entering the country, they’ll have to borrow someone else’s list. The ACLU and Amnesty are hinting that it will be the faulty US list. Too bad if your name happens to match one of the 750,000… Any Bob Johnsons among our readers? Let’s hope “Taru Suzuki” or a similarly popular Japanese name doesn’t suddenly make it to the list.

What is interesting, too, is that while Japanese names and biometrics are not on the Japanese database because the electorate wouldn’t stand for it, for those Japanese nationals traveling to the USA and UK, their data is indeed being captured — and it is only a matter of time before this data is fed back to Immigration here in Japan. This smacks very much of a back door effort by the powers that be to collect global data — and there isn’t much the civil rights people can do about it.

Then we heard another interesting tidbit. Now you might think that with all the hot technology for accurately scanning fingerprints and eyes, this data would be whizzing back in real time to some massive Interpol-like database, and that if there was a match then the Immigration officer’s screen would start flashing red and bells would start clanging.

Nope, nothing like that. What we heard is that the data is “batched” and sent to a screening center for analysis. Apparently it takes up to 24 hours to turn the data around! That’s probably just the right amount of time for an earnest terrorist to catch a bus over to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, let off some sort of device, and high-tail it back overseas.

So what we have here is a FUBAR situation of the highest order. 1) A law that no one really thought too hard about, but which will irritate the hell out of a lot of tax-paying, law-abiding permanent residents. 2) A computer database that is riddled with inaccuracies and is being adopted to buttress the Japanese screening effort. Let’s hope it gets some important Middle-eastern customer of Mitsui or Marubeni locked up for a week or two until the authorities find out that the database is unreliable. 3) A processing system that is so slow that a real terrorist could enter and exit the country without being detected in time.

There is a petition that you can sign to protest the new procedures. The URL is: This petition will be presented to the General Affairs Division, Immigration Bureau, at the Ministry of Justice.

Also, we can recommend the website of Debito Arudou, which has an excellent running log of developments on fingerprinting and similar human rights issues. You can find it at:

We’d be interested in hearing the experiences of people who have pre-registered on November 20th, and/or who passing back into Japan as permanent residents.


Japan’s welcome mat getting prickly
New rules requiring fingerprints and digital photos of visitors are revealing about attitudes toward foreigners, critics say.
From the Los Angeles Times November 11, 2007
By Bruce Wallace, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer,1,4675245.story?coll=la-headlines-world&ctrack=8&cset=true
Courtesy of Jon Lenvik

TOKYO — The kind of greeting a foreigner receives at immigration upon arrival at an international airport can be a good, if imperfect, indication of the country that waits on the other side of the barrier.

London’s Heathrow? Long queues and lousy service.

New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International? Crumbling infrastructure and over-the-top bureaucracy.

Some Middle Eastern airports? Slow-moving lines that can be circumvented with the right connections and cash.

Now the Japanese government has created new immigration procedures for foreign visitors — rules that critics say are all too revealing about official attitudes toward foreigners.

On Nov. 20, Japan will begin fingerprinting and photographing non-Japanese travelers as they pass through immigration at air and sea ports. The government says the controls are a necessary security measure aimed at preventing a terrorist attack in Japan.

The new system is modeled on the U.S. program instituted in 2004 that takes digital photos and fingerprints of travelers entering the United States on visas. But the Japanese system goes further by requiring foreign residents — in addition to visitors — to be photographed and fingerprinted.

There are exceptions: diplomats, children younger than 16, U.S. military personnel serving in Japan, and long-term residents of Korean or Chinese descent whose presence here is largely owed to Imperial Japan’s overseas conquests. But all other foreigners will be scanned each time upon entry.

Critics say the data collection is a dubious terrorism-fighting measure, instead reflecting the government’s desire for closer surveillance of foreigners.

“The Japanese government has a long history of not wanting long-term foreign residents, and they really feel they need more control over foreigners,” said Sonoko Kawakami of the Japanese chapter of Amnesty International. “The government just wants to gather as much information as possible on people.”

The only terrorist spectaculars in Japanese history have come from homegrown groups: the Japanese Red Army, which conducted attacks around the world in the 1970s and ’80s, and the Aum Shinrikyo cult, which carried out a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995.

But officials say Tokyo’s support for the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan makes Japan a target, and taking biometric data such as fingerprints and digital facial photos is the only way to nab terrorists traveling on fake passports.

At least that was the recent contention of Japan’s justice minister. He even offered a bizarre personal anecdote to explain how easy it was for non-Japanese to sneak into the country. “A friend of my friend is a member of Al Qaeda,” Kunio Hatoyama told foreign reporters in Tokyo, saying that the man had entered Japan numerous times using fake passports and disguises.

Hatoyama later backtracked slightly on his story, distancing himself from any connection to Al Qaeda and raising suspicions that he had embellished his anecdote to press the case for fingerprinting foreigners.

But Hatoyama has long been among the senior public officials who believe Japan is already too open to overseas workers. When he became justice minister in August, Hatoyama made it clear he had no intention of proceeding with earlier plans to allow in more unskilled workers.

That, he warned, could lead to an increase in crime.

Statistics, however, show that the number of crimes committed by foreign visitors is falling. And despite alarm about particularly sensational crimes that attract media attention, Japan’s overall crime rate is declining or flat.

That hasn’t stopped some senior Japanese politicians from stoking anti-immigrant fires by contending that foreigners living in Japan commit a higher proportion of crimes. And those contentions have sent bureaucrats in search of ways to weed out the “good” foreigners, presumably those with money to invest, from “bad” ones, such as the Chinese pickpocket gangs that get so much media attention here.

The new immigration system appears to be one answer. Fingerprinting is actually a resumption of a system that was abandoned in 2000 after strong protests by long-term Korean, Chinese and Taiwanese residents who resented being fingerprinted in their own country. A jittery, post-9/11 America provided the initiative for the Japanese to revive it.

The law instituting the new regime passed parliament last year with very little outcry. The Federation of Japanese Bar Assns. was a lonely critical voice, complaining that fingerprinting people who had already been granted residency was an infringement on civil liberties. But the government avoided a repeat showdown with the Koreans and Chinese by exempting them from the new requirements.

“The Japanese public does not see this as ‘our’ problem,” said Masashi Ichikawa, a human rights lawyer in Tokyo. “The climate is that it is legitimate to be ‘against terrorism,’ and that people just have to follow the rules.”

The fingerprinting issue underscores the Japanese dilemma in dealing with foreigners.

On the one hand, in this age of increased global mobility, the threat of terrorism, though remote, is a plausible one.

But on the other, the Japanese government needs more foreigners. Japan has low unemployment by global standards and faces a demographic crunch as its population ages and workforce shrinks. Tokyo is fighting to preserve its position as a world financial center as competitors such as Singapore actively cultivate a welcoming aura for foreign businesses.

And Japan is still searching for ways to address its tourist deficit at a time when well-heeled travelers have a widening array of Asian destination choices.

It remains to be seen whether treating every visitor as a potential terrorist, until their fingerprints prove otherwise, is the best way to roll out the welcome mat.


Naoko Nishiwaki of The Times’ Tokyo Bureau contributed to this report.

Fingerprinting of NJ issue summarized as animation. Spread it around.


Hi Blog. Fingerprinting of NJ issue aptly summarized in animation. Spread it around.

Welcome to Japan.gif

Download it from here and use as you like:

Courtesy of UTU’s Nick Wood. Thanks very much, and well done. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Japan Times: Fingerprinting NJ won’t stop terrorists, critics say


Hi Blog. One more before the blog server goes down for maintenance all day tomorrow:


Will entry checks cross the line?
Fingerprinting foreigners won’t stop terrorists, critics say
The Japan Times: Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007

By JUN HONGO, Staff writer

Despite government claims it is necessary to counter terrorism, a new immigration procedure obliging most foreigners to be fingerprinted and photographed upon entry to Japan has come under fire as an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

Critics also contend the new policy, which takes effect Nov. 20, will result in even longer waits at immigration control gates.

More to the point, experts doubt whether it will even stop potential terrorists from entering the country.

Under the procedure, visitors whose biometric data match those on confidential terrorist watch lists will be denied entry to Japan. The lists are believed to include one compiled by the U.S. government and contain the names of about 750,000 “terror suspects.”

Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama has said Japan will cooperate with U.S. authorities in exchanging immigration data.

But Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Program on Technology and Liberty, said the U.S. watch list is “bloated and full of inaccuracy.”

“The U.S. immigration policy is a total failure,” Steinhardt warned, expressing concern that Japan’s version of biometric verification will likely be built on a flawed foundation.

Exempt from the new measure are “special permanent residents” of Korean and Taiwanese descent who had Japanese nationality before the end of the war and their descendants. Also exempt are diplomats, children under age 16 and those visiting at the invitation of the government. Foreigners with permanent residency status will be obliged to submit to fingerprinting every time they enter the country.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo last month, Steinhardt alleged that not only will the immigration system put all visitors to Japan into an antiterrorist database, it will also fail to provide the defenses against terrorism that it promises.

He questioned the credibility of the U.S. terrorist list, noting it remains unclear how it is compiled — and how people get onto or off of it.

Steinhardt pointed out that pop singer Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, was denied entry to the U.S. in 2004 apparently after being mistaken for another person with the same name (though spelled differently) on the watch list.

“It’s full of mistakes. That is the reality in the U.S. and it’s likely to become reality in Japan,” Steinhardt said. “Whether or not the loss of liberty is worth the security gained is not a question — because no security is gained.”

According to the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau, all foreigners ineligible for exemption will be directed to special equipment — similar in appearance to a small computer display — for taking fingerprints and photos upon arrival in Japan.

Questioning by an immigration inspector will follow. Those who refuse will be automatically deported.

Naoto Nikai, an Immigration Bureau official, said passengers who preregister their biometric data can use an automated gate system. But of all Japan’s international airports, such gates are scheduled to be installed only at Narita International Airport, while preregistration can only be accepted at an immigration office in Shinagawa Ward or at Narita’s departure area beginning on Nov. 20.

“This is an important tool against international terrorist activity,” Nikai repeated to reporters during a briefing last month.

Asked whether the new process will cause longer lines at immigration, Nikai only said the bureau will try to maintain its current goal of getting each passenger through immigration within 20 minutes.

He wouldn’t answer whether foreign mothers traveling with Japanese infants would be separated at immigration gates. “The immigration officer at the airport will (make the judgment),” Nikai said.

Japan has also not decided how long biometric information collected under the new procedure will be stored in the system.

Although Nikai gave assurances that only the minimum number of personnel would have access to the data, Makoto Teranaka, secretary general of Amnesty International Japan, called the procedure a “violation of human rights to privacy.”

During a recent news conference, Teranaka pointed out that the database will likely be shared by police and other government agencies — and possibly their counterparts in other countries as well.

“We can’t see any justification for introducing this system,” he said, adding that the group will ask the government to reconsider.

Stressing the need to fingerprint and photograph even Japan’s longtime foreign residents, however, Justice Minister Hatoyama claimed to know about a disguised al-Qaida member who repeatedly entered the country on fake passports.

“A friend of a friend of mine is a member of al-Qaida,” the minister said in a speech at the FCCJ last month — a remark that stirred up controversy for which Hatoyama was rebuked by his fellow Cabinet members. He also said he had been told that terrorists were sneaking across borders using fake IDs.

“I realize this is arduous, but (biometric verifications) must be carried out (even on permanent residents) to fight terrorism,” Hatoyama said.

Daisuke Arikado, a representative of Tokyo-based nonprofit group Foreign Criminal Expulsion Movement, welcomes the strict procedure in hopes that it will make Japan safer “not only for Japanese, but for foreigners living here as well.”

While acknowledging cases of human rights abuses overseas resulting from strict immigration procedures, Arikado argues that as a country that hosts many U.S. military bases, Japan is obliged to ensure that terrorists are stopped at its borders.

Arikado also says the system will help keep previous deportees from re-entering the country, which he claims will reduce the crime rate by foreigners in Japan.

“It wouldn’t bother me to provide fingerprints and photographs upon arriving in the U.S.,” Arikado said. “When visiting a foreign country, it’s obvious that one should abide by its rules.”

The United States has fingerprinted and photographed visitors since 2004. Japan will become only the second country in the world to introduce such a system.

Longtime permanent foreign residents in Japan have protested the new procedure.

Louis Carlet, deputy general secretary of the National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu, whose members include many foreign workers, claimed that the system would be ineffective because any determined terrorist would likely find a way through the biometric verifications.

“The union is against the system,” said Carlet, 41, who has lived in Japan for 12 years and holds a permanent resident visa. “Fingerprinting blameless foreigners and treating them as criminals is counterproductive, and a violation of their human rights. If Japan wants to fight terrorism, it should stop cooperating in a war that is itself an act of terror.”

The Japan Times: Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007


Arriving outside Narita will be worse, By Eric Johnston. Japan Times same day.

Fingerprinting: Amnesty/SMJ Appeal for Noon Nov 20 Public Appeal outside Justice Ministry


Hi Blog. Here’s the public appeal I was asked to translate for sponsoring groups Amnesty International/Solidarity with Migrants Japan. This is their upcoming November 20 Public Action in front of the Justice Ministry against Fingerprinting NJ. Attend if you like. Details in the appeal below. More on the event also here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo



(translated by Arudou Debito)

From November 20, 2007, the Japanese government will put into effect the Japan version of the US-VISIT Program, where all non-Japanese entering Japan (with the exception of children under age 16, Diplomats, and “Special Permanent Residents” (i.e. ethnic Koreans, Chinese, etc.) will have their fingerprints and facial photographs taken every time they cross the border.

This is none other than a system to track and tighten controls on foreigners, including residents. The government and the Justice Ministry loudly claim that this is an “anti-terror measure”, but consider the US-VISIT Program, inaugurated four years ago in the United States, that this policy is modeled upon: “It has been completely ineffective at uncovering terrorists. Rather, it has been used as a way for the government to create a blacklist and stop human rights activists from entering the country.” (Barry Steinhardt, American Civil Liberties Union, Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan October 29, 2007). We see Japan heading down the same path as the US.

Japan’s version of the US-VISIT Program is so laden with problems, and passed without adequate deliberation by the Diet, that we call for the government and the Justice Ministry to immediately suspend it. To his end, we will assemble before the Justice Ministry on the day of its promulgation, November 20, 2007, for a public action and protest. We call on the public to join us at noon that day and lend your support and participation.

DATE: Tuesday, November 20, 2007
TIME: Noon (public action will take 30 minutes to an hour)
PLACE: Ministry of Justice, Kasumigaseki, Tokyo (Goudou Chousha #6)
(Subway Marunouchi Line to Kasumigaseki Station, Bengoshi Kaikan exit)

ACTIVITIES: Sound truck with speeches
Placards, Message boards (NO TO FINGERPRINTING, FINGERPRINTING NON-JAPANESE IS DISCRIMINATION, “NON-JAPANESE” DOES NOT MEAN “TERRORIST” etc.–create your own slogan and bring your own sign!)

Amnesty International Japan (Tel 03-3518-6777)

Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ) (Tel:03-5802-6033)
See you there!

アムネスティ/移住連アピール: 「日本版US−VISIT」施行に抗議する! 11.20昼、法務省前に集まろう!


 「日本版US−VISIT」施行に抗議する! 11.20昼、法務省前に集まろう!

 「日本版US−VISIT」が11月20日から施行されようとしています。16歳未満と特別永住者 を除く全ての外国人から、入国時に指紋・顔写真などの個人識別情報を採取するこの制度 は、外国人に対する管理・支配をますます強めるものにほかなりません。政府・法務省は「テロ 対策のため」と声高に主張しますが、4年前からこの制度を実施しているアメリカでは「US−VI SITは『テロリストの摘発』には何の役にも立たず、むしろ政府がブラックリストに挙げた人権活 動家などの入国拒否のためにのみ使われている」ことが明らかになっています。先日来日され た米自由人権協会のバリー・スタインハードさんはその実態をくわしく証言されました。日本もこ の制度を導入すれば、アメリカと同じ道を進むことは目に見えています。

 私たちは、さまざまな問題を孕みながら国会での審議も不十分なまま成立してしまった「日本 版US−VISIT」の施行を即時中止するよう政府・法務省に強く求めるとともに、施行開始の当 日、11月20日に、以下の通り法務省前での抗議行動を行います。平日の昼ですが、ぜひ多く の皆さんが参加されますよう呼びかけます。
場所:法務省前(合同庁舎6号館)地下鉄丸の内線霞ヶ関下車 弁護士会館となり)


アムネスティ・インターナショナル日本 TEL:03-3518-6777」
移住労働者と連帯する全国ネットワーク  TEL:03-5802-6033

101-0054 東京都千代田区神田錦町2-2 共同(新錦町)ビル4F
TEL. 03-3518-6777 FAX. 03-3518-6778
E-mail:ksonoko AT

Japan Times on Immigration’s fingerprinting of NJ outside of Narita


Here’s another article to show we’re being listened to… Debito


Arriving outside Narita will be worse
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer
The Japan Times November 8, 2007

OSAKA — As annoying as the new fingerprinting procedure will be for non-Japanese going through immigration at Narita International Airport, it is going to be much worse for foreign residents who don’t live in the Tokyo area.

Unlike at Narita International Airport, those passing through regional airports will have to go through the fingerprint registration process every time they re-enter Japan.

This is because only Narita, which handled half of all non-Japanese coming into the country in 2006, will introduce a new automated system that officials hope will speed up the new rules requiring most foreigners to have their fingerprints and photographs taken upon entry.

The Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau plans to introduce the automated gate system at Narita on Nov. 20.

Registration for the automated gate system is optional. Those who choose to do so must provide their passport information and have their fingerprints scanned and photographs taken. This has to be done first at select locations in and around Tokyo, including the immigration office at Narita airport.

Once registered, participants will go through the immigration line by having their passport electronically scanned and fingerprints confirmed.

They may still face questioning by immigration officials before being allowed to officially enter Japan. However, officials say people who are registered are likely to get through immigration quicker than those who aren’t.

While all of Japan’s international airports and ports will have the new equipment to take fingerprints and photos, Narita will be the only entry point where people will be able to register with the automatic gate system. There are no plans anytime soon to introduce it elsewhere.

Martin Issott, a Kobe-based British businessman, is calling on the Kansai region’s foreign residents, especially members of the business community, to lodge a protest to the Immigration Bureau over a policy he says is unfair and discriminatory.

“For foreign residents living in the Kansai, indeed, for all those living outside of the immediate Tokyo area, we will have no option but to be fingerprinted and photographed on each and every occasion we enter the country,” Issott said.

Kansai International Airport had little comment on Narita’s system, except to say it has no plan to introduce the automatic system.

Nor does the Immigration Bureau have the ability to preregister resident foreigners, Tokyo-based or not, before the system goes on line Nov. 20.

After Nov. 20, preregistration will be possible in Tokyo.

There are also questions on a separate matter. To date, airports have usually allowed foreigners with alien registration cards and re-entry permits to pass through immigration counters reserved for Japanese nationals.

At the moment, it remains unclear if fingerprinting and photographing machines will be set up at immigration counters reserved for Japanese citizens. During the initial period after Nov. 20, it could be the case that foreign residents will have to stay in the lines for foreign visitors only.

“That policy may change after Nov. 20, but it depends on the airport,” said Takumi Sato, an Immigration Bureau official in Tokyo.

In fact, the Justice Ministry has told the European Business Council in Japan that separate lines at immigration might be established for those foreign residents with re-entry permits who pass through certain regional airports. But the council warns this is merely an oral commitment.

On Oct. 26, the European Business Council and the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce sent a joint letter to Akira Tamura, director of the Immigration Bureau’s entry and status division, calling for a fingerprinting system that does not adversely affect foreign residents, businesspeople or companies in Japan.

“Foreign residents are currently allowed to line up together with Japanese citizens when re-entering Japan. Suddenly grouping long-term residents and taxpayers in Japan with occasional visitors risks creating excessive delays for frequent business travelers and imposing unacceptable costs on businesses that are heavily reliant on the efficient and rapid mobility of executives,” the letter states.

The letter calls on the ministry to notify regional airports in writing of the need to establish a separate line for foreign residents until the automatic gate system is introduced. As of early this week, the Justice Ministry had not formally responded to the letter, said Jakob Edberg, the European Business Council’s policy director.

According to the Immigration Bureau, about 8.1 million foreigners passed through the immigration centers at 10 airports and eight ports in 2006. About 50 percent arrived via Narita, while about another third entered via Kansai, Chubu, New Chitose and Fukuoka airports.

The remainder arrived at Haneda and smaller, international terminals at airports in Sendai, Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, Hiroshima, and Hakodate, Hokkaido, while a little more than 187,000 people, or 1.1 percent of the total, arrived by ship.

The Japan Times: Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007

Protest pays off: Now separate lines for residents when fingerprinting NJ at Narita


Well, well, well. Look what cyberspace just sent me…

“On the way out of the country, I picked up an Immigration form. There WILL be a special booth for re-entry visa holders. But there WON’T be a card and we WILL have to be fingerprinted and photographed EVERY time we re-enter the country.”

COMMENT: You see, protest does have an effect.

But it still hasn’t resolved the problem of how this is going to impede businesspeople (especially APEC Business Travel Card holders…), not to mention the issues of treating every non-Japanese as a potential Typhoid Mary or Osama Junior… every time. Or the fact that the letter of the law is still not being followed nationwide. As Steve Koya poignantly commented today:

We have a loophole, or at least a stay of execution! All we need is a decent lawyer and we can stop this legislation.

It is a simple argument, following on from my note yesterday about the Automatic gates. A chat to Sapporo Immigration confirmed that there were no plans to have the gates at Chitose or at any other airport other than Narita, giving lack of time and money as a reason.

Well, despite the fact they may have no time or insufficient funds, unfortunately Immigration are required by the new law to make the Automated Gates available to non-Japanese residents, at all airports within 18 months from the promulgation of the legislation, 24th May 2006. There is no “Only Narita” clause, there is no post promulgation amendment.

If they are not able to apply the law, then it should be rescinded. You could also state that failure to apply the law in full would also make it non-binding, so refusing to give your prints would theoretically not be illegal.

All we need is a decent lawyer! Amnesty, show us your muscle!

I still say you should not be separated from your Japanese families. Stand together in the same line, everyone. Debito in Sapporo

Fingerprinting: Tokyo Demo Amnesty/SMJ Nov 20, Signature Campaign by Privacy International


Hi Blog. Forwarding with permission. Arudou Debito

—– Original Message —–
From: “toshimaru ogura”
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2007 16:25
Subject: Urgent action against Japan US-VISIT

Dear friends,

I am toshi, a co-president of People’s Plan Study Group (PPSG). As you know Japanese government will implement new immigration control system of finger printing and face scanning. We have two actions against the plan. One is an international signature organized by Privacy International. Another one is a demonstration in front of DOJ office at noon on Nov 20 organized by Amnesty International Japan and Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ). I will inform in detail more about the demonstration soon.

I attach the statement from Privacy International. This signature is for organizations not for individuals. I hope your organization approves and signs on for the statement.

Address for sign on Gus Hosein, Privacy International

best wishes,
People’s Plan Study Group

The Rt Honourable Kunio Hatoyama
Minister of Justice
1-1-1 Kasumigaseki Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Nippon

November 6, 2007

Dear Minister Hatoyama:

Regarding plans to fingerprint and face-scan all visitors to Japan

We, the undersigned human rights and civil liberties groups from around the world are writing to you to express our grave concerns regarding the Ministry of Justice’s imminent implementation of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act.

We believe that your plans to fingerprint and face-scan visitors and foreign-residents to Japan are a gross and disproportionate infringement upon civil liberties, copying the worst practices on border management from around the world.

We call on you to reconsider your plans to implement this system. We also call on you to explain to the world why they should travel to your country and face these inconveniences when you have done so little to explain the nature of this human processing.


According to your plans for Immigration Control:

“In order to detect and oust, at the border, terrorists or foreign nationals who have been deported from Japan or committed crimes, one effective method is to further enhance measures against forged and falsified documents and to utilize biometrics in immigration examinations. In order to take facial portraits and fingerprint data during landing examinations of foreign nationals under the “Action Plan for Prevention of Terrorism” (as adopted at the Headquarters for Promotion of Measures Against Transnational Organized Crime and Other Relative Issues and International Terrorism on December 10, 2004), necessary preparations will be made by putting in order points for us to keep in mind, observing relevant measures taken by foreign countries and developing relevant law.”1

It has come to our attention that you plan to implement this system within a matter of weeks where you will face-scan and fingerprint all visitors to Japan and retain this information for an extended period of time (some reports claim that you intend to do so for up to 80 years), and combine it with other sources of personal information.

Infringing upon the Right to Privacy

Your plans are in breach of individuals’ human rights, and in particular, their right to privacy. The right to privacy is recognized specifically by numerous international human rights treaties. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the right to privacy under Article 12. Similar language is adopted in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights under Article 17, the United Nations (UN) Convention on Migrant Workers in Article 14, and the UN Convention on Protection of the Child under Article 16. We note that the Japanese Supreme Court has recognized the right to privacy under Article 13 of the Japanese Constitution.

Your system proposes to indiscriminately collect sensitive personal information from all foreign travellers. This mass project for the processing of human beings is tantamount to treating all visitors to your country as though they were criminals.

We are surprised by the lack of information regarding proposed safeguards and appeal methods. Instead we are given rhetoric about the importance of combatting terrorism and promises to force the return of anyone who fails to comply with this new requirement.

The protection of human rights is at its weakest when individuals are waiting for entry at the border of foreign country. Traditionally, governments afforded respect to visitors from other nations under the guise of reciprocity: if you treat our citizens with respect we will treat yours similarly. Japan is showing a remarkable level of disrespect to the dignity of your tourists and foreign business travellers by collecting detailed information on them, in an indiscriminate manner as a condition of entry, with no promise of safeguards, or means of appeal.

A Complex and Risky System

The collection of all this personal information and its centralisation into databases will create privacy risks, and will also lead to likely security risks.

We believe that Japan is making a grave mistake by following the path forged by the United States of America with its US-VISIT programme. Until the implementation of your system, the U.S. was alone in the world in fingerprinting and face-scanning all visitors and retaining this information for vast periods of time. Years into their programme we can now all see that the U.S. should serve as a cautionary tale rather than as an example for best practice.

The US-VISIT system was approved in a similar manner to the Japanese system. That is, it was approved through a highly political environment with little public debate and policy deliberation. In the U.S., the government relied on its rhetoric about fighting terrorism and crime instead of careful policy development and deployment. Now, years later, the US-VISIT system is finally receiving some of its much needed oversight, and the reality of advanced border systems is becoming clear. According to U.S. Government reports, we now are seeing that:

. after spending 1.3 billion over 4 years, only half the system is delivered.2

. expenditures continue on projects that “are not well-defined, planned, or justified on the basis of costs, benefits, and risks”, lacking “a sufficient basis for effective program oversight and accountability”.3

. the U.S. government has “continued to invest in US-VISIT without a clearly defined operational context that includes explicit relationships with related border security and immigration enforcement initiatives”.4

. “management controls to identify and evaluate computer and operational problems were insufficient and inconsistently administered” and thus “continues to face longstanding US-VISIT management challenges and future uncertainties” as it continues to “fall short of expectations”.5

. “lacking acquisition and financial management controls”, and project managers have failed to “economically justify its investment in USVISIT increments or assess their operational impacts”, “had not assessed the impact of the entry and exit capabilities on operations and facilities, in part, because the scope of the evaluations performed were too limited.”6

. “contracts have not been effectively managed and overseen”.7

. and finally, security “weaknesses collectively increase the risk that unauthorized individuals could read, copy, delete, add, and modify sensitive information, including personally identifiable information, and disrupt the operations of the US-VISIT program.” According to the chairman of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee, Senator Joseph Lieberman, the U.S. government “is spending $1.7 billion of taxpayer money on a program to detect potential terrorists crossing our borders yet it isn’t taking the most basic precautions to keep them from hacking into and changing or deleting sensitive information.”8

It is therefore of little surprise that the U.S. border systems occasionally fail. On a number of occasions the U.S. border systems have broken down resulting in thousands of people being forced to wait until the system problems could be worked out. For instance, in August 2007, 20,000 travellers were left stranded at Los Angeles airport, with travellers spending the night on the airport floors and planes being prevented from even coming into the gates for passengers to de-plane because the airport was overwhelmed.9

More stories are emerging from around the world where weak security protocols have made personal information held on visa databases widely available to the public and potential identity thieves, 10 and fingerprint mismatches have lead to gross injustices. Without competent planning and care, visitors to Japan have no reason to be confident that their personal information that they are forced to disclose will be adequately protected by your system.

Towards Effective Border Management?

Japan should be careful not to follow the U.S. lead. Recent surveys have shown that the U.S. is now rated worst place to visit for its immigration and entry procedures, followed by the Middle East.11

There are better ways of greeting visitors to your country than treating tourists and business travelers as though they were terrorists. There are privacy-friendly ways of identifying criminals at borders, and there are more and more effective ways of using biometric data without invading the privacy of all visitors and making them vulnerable to identity theft through the leakage of data from your systems.

In our experiences, technological systems fail most when they do not get adequate policy deliberation. We also believe that immigration policy is a complex domain that rarely gets the necessary attention and deliberative care that it deserves. Your plans to fingerprint and face-scan every visitor to your country appears to exemplify this risk. It is unfortunate that we could not offer our views earlier but your consultation was only conducted in Japanese.

Your plans will likely damage Japan’s standing in the world, make a wonderful and beautiful country less inviting to tourists, and will unnecessarily hurt Japan’s role as global economic leader. If serious changes to your plans are not made, we worry that a boycott of travel to Japan will be the only way to ensure that your government has planned sufficiently to cater for the privacy and security interests of global travellers.

Please reconsider your plans. Also, please note, that if you move down this path, others may well follow and will start fingerprinting your own citizens on the grounds that you do it to theirs. These systems will likely be as complex, risky, and insecure as yours. This is not the type of world that you, your citizens, or we would like to live in.

Yours sincerely,

Privacy International [other signatories here in alphabetical order]

1 Ministry of Justice, ‘Basic Plan for Immigration Control (3rd Edition) provisional translation’, Section 3: Major Issues and Guidelines on Immigration Control Administration Services.
2 Government Accountability Office, Prospects For Biometric US-VISIT Exit Capability Remain Unclear, July 28, 2007, GAO-07-1044T.
3 Government Accountability Office, ‘U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Programs: Long-standing Lack of Strategic Direction and Management Controls Needs to Be Addressed’ , August 2007, GAO-07-1065.
4 Government Accountability Office, ‘Planned Expenditures for U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Program Need to Be Adequately Defined and Justified’, February 2007, GAO-07-278.
5 Government Accountability Office, ‘US-VISIT Program Faces Operational, Technological, and Management Challenges’, March 20, 2007, GAO-07-623T.
6 Government Accountability Office, US-VISIT Has Not Fully Met Expectations and Longstanding Program Management Challenges Need to Be Addressed, February 16, 2007, GAO-07-499T.
7 Government Accountability Office, ‘Contract Management and Oversight for Visitor and Immigrant Status Program Need to Be Strengthened’, June 2006, GAO-06-404.
8 ‘Lieberman Cites Vulnerability of Terrorism Tracking Data’, August 3, 2007, statement available at
9 ‘Mayor calls for Probe of LAX Computer Crash’, CBS, August 13, 2007.
10 ‘Security concerns hit web visa applications’, Joe Churcher, The Scotsman, May 18, 2007.
11 ‘How to help the huddled masses through immigration’, Gideon Rachman, Financial Times, March 12, 2007.

toshimaru ogura

Probable USG gaiatsu re GOJ fingerprint laws: Quote from Department of Homeland Security website



Comment by J
November 1, 2007 @ 8:04 pm

Hi, Debito.
Just read the last paragraph of this document prepared by the Department of Homeland Security of the US, and find who is forcing Ministry of Justice of Japan to collect fingerprints of foreigners coming to Japan.

Pool Data with Like-minded Foreign Governments – As the United States’ systems and data improve, State and DHS must make these initiatives global. We will continue diplomatic efforts for the comprehensive exchange of watchlists, biometrics, and lost and stolen passport information with other governments as well as building capacity to effectively use this information. A central topic in this diplomacy is development of a common approach to protecting the privacy of the data, both in the way it is collected and the way it is shared.
This page was last modified on 01/17/06 00:00:00





ブログ読者の皆様こんばんは。有道 出人です。いつもお世話になっております。ホットニュースですが、欧州ビジネス協会(EBC)と豪州NZ商工会議所(ANZCCJ)は外国人指紋採取に対する抗議文を発行しました。法務省入国管理局と外務省宛で、原文より:

コメント:標的としれている在住外国人住民のみではなく、米国以外の欧米人は既にこの政策に深く疑問を持つようであります。日本当局(特に法務省)は日本がグローバル化に対して例外的な国だと未だに思い込んでいるのでしょうか。「ようこそジャパン」と貿易に関する商売にどんな影響を与えるのかを深く考えこなしましたか。どうぞ報道して下さい。宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人


European Business Council and Australian/ NZ Chamber of Commerce protest NJ fingerprinting laws


Hi Blog. Important information from Japan’s non-US Western business leaders. Courtesy of Martin Issott.

Both the European Business Council in Japan and the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan have agreed that Immigration’s new NJ Fingerprint Laws “impose unacceptable costs” on businesses, and finds regrettable the “grouping [of] long-term residents and taxpayers in Japan with occasional visitors”.


So says a protest letter to the MOJ Immigration Bureau (cced to MOFA) in PDF format signed by Richard Colasse, Chairman of the EBC, and Tim Lester, Chairman of the ANZCCJ. Click here to see it:

Jpeg thumbnails of the letters in English and Japanese here (click to expand in browser):

What follows is the text from an email from Jacob Edberg, Policy Director of the EBC, which indicates that the protesting is in some way paying off–with some changes in the procedures. At Narita, anyway. Underlinings in the email added. Brief comment follows.


From: []
Sent: Friday, November 02, 2007 11:42 AM
Subject: Revised Immigration Law

TO: EBC Committee Members EBC EOB Members European National Chamber Presidents European National Chamber Executive Directors Delegation of the European Commission to Japan National European Embassies

FROM: Jakob Edberg
DATE: November 2, 2007

SUBJECT: Revised Immigration Law

Dear Colleagues,

This is to inform you about the implementation of the revised immigration law, scheduled for November 20. In short, the revised law says that all foreigners have to leave their fingerprints and take a photo when entering Japan. The EBC has over the past year strongly insisted that the implementation of the law should not complicate or delay the re-entry procedure of foreign residents in Japan. We have especially objected to forcing re-entry permit holders to line up in long queues with all other foreigners (tourists e.g.) to take fingerprints each time re-entering Japan.

After long discussions with the Ministry of Justice, it is now clear that re-entry permit holders will be able to pre-register fingerprints and photo at either Shinagawa or at Narita on the way out. Undergoing this procedure once should grant swift re-entry at Narita (not other international airports) as long as the passport/ re-entry permit is valid. Information about this system is not yet available in English but can since October 26 be found in Japanese on the MOJ website:

The Ministry of Justice has also said that for those re-entry permit holders who have not yet pre-registered their fingerprints and photos, there should be a line separate from other foreigners (e.g. tourists) at the immigration counter. However, the MOJ not yet made this commitment in writing – because they may not be able to staff the extra lines at all times of the day.

EBC Chairman Richard Collasse sent a letter on October 26 (please see attached) jointly signed with the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce to demand that information about the new system is made available in English ASAP and that the commitment to set up separate lines at immigration counter for re-entry permit holder are not pre-registered is made also in writing. At this time, the semi automatic gate system will not be available at Kansai and Nagoya International airports. The solution for Kanto residents appear to be to go to Narita airport early and preregister (you only have to do this once).

We will continue to ask for more clarity on the new procedures from MOJ and will be sure to get back to all of you as soon as we have more information on this urgent issue.

Yours sincerely,

Jakob Edberg
Policy Director
European Business Council in Japan

COMMENT: What incredible incompetence by the Ministry of Justice! Did they think that inconveniencing people to this degree (under a discriminatory and xenophobic rubric, to boot) would occasion no protest or comment from the world around them? Are they still convinced that Japan is immune to the forces of globalization?!

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

NJ Fingerprinting Update: US Soldiers also exempt under SOFA




The US Embassy just sent out this information:

UPDATE: Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) personnel are exempt under
SOFA Article 9 (2) from the new biometrics entry requirements.


I think this means that if a person with three decades of permanent
Japan residence under his/her belt flies into the airport with 18 year
old Seaman Doe, whatever his/her nationality or background, Doe goes
through the line without photo and fingerprint check.

That does not make any sense at all.


From: American Embassy Tokyo
Date: Wed Oct 31, 2007 19:57:07 Asia/Tokyo
Subject: Welcome to the November newsletter! (EXCERPT)

Here are the topics for this month:

Upcoming Holidays and ACS Office Closures

Security Situation
Information for Americans employed by NOVA
Reminder – New Biometrics Requirements for Foreigners Entering Japan
Thanksgiving is here…
Primary Elections, General Elections – Both Are Important!
Are you ready to vote?
Some Missouri Voted Ballots can be Faxed or Emailed
Ohio Special Congressional Primary Election
Employment Resources
Ask the Consul: Warden Messages
Consequences of Mailing Illegal Drugs to Japan
Embassy Tokyo & ConGen Naha Offering New Foreign Service Officer Test
“Green Card Lottery”
Early Warning System
Handy Calendar Converter
Services Leaving Japan? Unsubscribing Contact Us


Reminder: New Biometrics Requirements for Foreigners Entering Japan

The Government of Japan recently informed us that as of November 20,
2007, Immigration officials at the port of entry will digitally scan
the fingerprints of and photograph all foreign nationals entering
Japan, with the exemption of certain categories listed below. This
requirement does not replace any existing visa or passport
requirements. Foreign nationals that are exempt from this new
requirement include special permanent residents (Tokubetsu Eijuusha),
persons under 16 years of age, holders of diplomatic or official
visas, and persons invited by the head of a national administrative
organization. Please note that permanent residents will also be
expected to submit to this new requirement.

The Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice posted an
explanatory video on the new procedures on June 14, 1007. The short
video entitled “Landing Examination Procedures for Japan are
Changing!” can be viewed here.

UPDATE: Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) personnel are exempt under
SOFA Article 9 (2) from the new biometrics entry requirements.




鳩山法相:「友人の友人にアルカイダ」 後に「真偽不明」



毎日新聞 2007年10月30日 東京朝刊

Mainichi: Justice Minister Hatoyama justifies NJ fingerprinting, alleging ‘friend of a friend’ al-Qaeda link


Hi Blog. Our Minister of Justice should be more careful about the company he keeps… and the conclusions he draws. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Hatoyama justifies taking prints with ‘friend of a friend’ in al-Qaida claim
Mainichi Shinbun Oct 29, 2007
Courtesy of FG

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s justice minister said Monday a “friend of a friend” who belonged to al-Qaida was able to sneak into the country with false passports and disguises, proving Tokyo needs to fingerprint and photograph arriving foreigners.

Japan will begin imposing the new measures on Nov. 20 on all foreigners entering the country aged 16 or over to guard against terrorism, in a move critics say will fail to protect the country and will violate human rights.

Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama, however, told reporters that he had personal knowledge of how terrorists can infiltrate the country, citing an unidentified “friend of a friend” who was involved in a bomb attack on the Indonesian island of Bali.

“I have never met this person, but until two or three years ago, it seems this person was visiting Japan often. And each time he arrived in Japan, he used a different passport,” Hatoyama said.

The justice minister added that his friend, whom he also did not identify, had warned him to stay away from the center of Bali.

Hatoyama did not specify which of two Bali bomb attacks — in 2002 and 2005 — he was referring to. Nor did he say whether the warning came before a bombing, or whether he alerted Indonesian officials.

Indonesian police have said the 2002 bombings that killed 202 people were carried out with funds and direction from al-Qaida. A splinter group of the Southeast Asian terror organization Jemaah Islamiyah allegedly carried out the 2005 attacks independently.

“The fact is that such foreign people can easily enter Japan,” Hatoyama said. “In terms of security, this is not a preferable situation.”

“I know this may cause a lot of inconvenience, but it’s very necessary to fight terror,” Hatoyama said of the fingerprinting measures. “Japan may also become a victim of a terrorist attack.”

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said he hoped Hatoyama’s al-Qaida connection would not re-enter Japan.

“I hope he’ll deal with this issue firmly through immigration controls now that he’s justice minister,” Fukuda said.

Critics have blasted the new fingerprinting measures, which only exempt some permanent residents, diplomatic visitors and children.

“The introduction of this system is a violation of basic human rights, especially the right to privacy,” said Makoto Teranaka, secretary-general of the human rights group Amnesty International Japan.

He said it unfairly targets foreigners since Japanese could also be criminals or terrorists.

Under the new regulations, all adults will be photographed and fingerprinted on arrival in Japan, according to the country’s Immigration Bureau. Incoming aircraft and ship operators also will be obliged to provide passenger and crew lists before they arrive.

Resident foreigners will be required to go through the procedure every time they re-enter Japan, the bureau said. Immigration officials will compare the images and data with a database of international terror and crime suspects as well as domestic crime records. People matching the data on file will be denied entry and deported.

Similar measures have been introduced in the United States.

Tokyo’s support of the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and dispatch of forces to each region have raised concerns that Japan could become a target of terror attacks.

Fingerprinting carries a strong stigma in Japan because it is associated with criminals.

Japan previously fingerprinted foreign residents, but that system was abolished in 1999 following civil rights campaigns involving Japan’s large Korean and Chinese communities.


Barry Steinhardt, of the American Civil Liberties Union, speaks at an FCCJ press conference in Tokyo Monday, Oct. 29, 2007. Japan is to launch new regulations for foreigners entering the country starting Nov. 20, which will require all adults ages 16 or over to be photographed and fingerprinted upon arrival in Japan. Steinhardt said a similar measure introduced in the United States in 2004 US-VISIT, which stands for U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, has been an ineffective tracking measure. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Nick Wood on NJ Fingerprinting policy as breach of international treaty


Hi Blog. Nick Wood reports:


Legal challenge to the fingerprinting and photographing of foreign residents of Japan on their re-enter to the country

The fingerprinting and photographing of (permanent and non-permanent) foreign residents on their re-entry to Japan (with the implementation of the revised Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act) constitutes a discriminatory action in breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Relevant International Law

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) establishes the principle that “[e]veryone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”(1) The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) similarly establishes that “[e]veryone shall be free to leave any country, including his own,”(2) and that “[n]o one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.”(3)

The right to return extends to those who have obtained citizenship in a third state, since the definition of “own country” in these provisions of the ICCPR is not limited to “country of nationality.” According to the U.N. Human Rights Committee, it applies as well to “an individual who, because of his or her special ties to or claims in relation to a given country, cannot be considered to be a mere alien.” (See ICCPR General Comment No. 27, para. 20 (U.N. DOC. CCPR/ C/21/Rev.1/Add.9, 2/11/199): “The scope of ‘his own country’ is broader than the concept ‘country of his nationality.’ It is not limited to nationality in a formal sense, that is, nationality acquired at birth or by conferral; it embraces, at the very least, an individual who, because of his or her special ties to or claims in relation to a given country, cannot be considered to be a mere alien.”)

Present Practice

The present practice (to be terminated on 20 November 2007) of allowing foreign residents with re-entry visas to enter Japan through the same passport control as Japanese citizens is de facto recognition of their right of return and to be accorded the same treatment as those carrying Japanese passports.

The issuance of a re-entry visa by the Ministry of Justice provides a foreign resident with a legitimate basis to consider Japan as “his own country”.


Predicated on the provisions of UDHR and ICCPR, foreign residents have a justifiable claim to a “special tie” to Japan and cannot be considered “mere aliens”. They therefore have a right to return. Moreover, this right to re-enter Japan has been equated through custom and practice with that of Japanese citizens whose right to return is based on nationality. Thus, to treat foreign residents differently from Japanese nationals (that is, by insisting on the collection of biometric data before admission to Japan is allowed, and to thereby hinder the exercise of their right to return) is a discriminatory action in breach of UDHR and ICCPR.

In order to comply with relevant international law, Japan should either a) collect biometric data from both foreign residents and Japanese nationals as they re-enter the country, or b) terminate the discriminatory treatment of foreign residents.

Nick Wood, University Teachers Union

1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13(2).
2. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 1(2).
3. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 12(4).

Based on: Human Rights Watch Publications
IV. Freedom of Movement in International Law

Reuters/Wash Post etc on how new NJ Fingerprint policy goes beyond model US-VISIT Program


The Fingerprint Issue is starting to hit the overseas press now… With information on how it goes even further than the US-VISIT Program it was originally modelled upon. Debito in Osaka


Japan to take fingerprints, photos of foreigners
Washington Post, Friday, October 26, 2007; 1:04 AM
By Isabel Reynolds, REUTERS
And Taipei Times, Yahoo News, Reuters India, China Post…

Japan is to fingerprint and photograph foreigners entering the country from next month in an anti-terrorism policy that is stirring anger among foreign residents and human rights activists.

Anyone considered to be a terrorist — or refusing to cooperate — will be denied entry and deported.

“This will greatly contribute to preventing international terrorist activities on our soil,” Immigration Bureau official Naoto Nikai said in a briefing on the system, which starts on November 20.

The checks are similar to the “U.S. Visit” system introduced in the United States after the attacks on September 11, 2001.

But Japan, unlike the United States, will require resident foreigners as well as visitors to be fingerprinted and photographed every time they re-enter the country.

“It certainly doesn’t make people who’ve been here for 30 or 40 years feel like they’re even human beings basically,” said businessman Terrie Lloyd, who has dual Australian and New Zealand citizenship and has been based in Japan for 24 years.

“There has not been a single incident of foreign terrorism in Japan, and there have been plenty of Japanese terrorists,” he said.

There are more than two million foreigners registered as resident in Japan, of whom 40 percent are classed as permanent residents.


The pictures and fingerprints obtained by immigration officials will be made available to police and may be shared with foreign immigration authorities and governments.

Diplomats and children under 16 are excluded from the new requirement, as are “special” permanent residents of Korean and Chinese origin, many of whom are descended from those brought to Japan as forced labor before and during World War Two.

Local government fingerprinting of foreign residents when issuing registration cards, long a source of friction, was abolished in 2000.

Amnesty International is calling for the immigration plan to be abandoned.

“Making only foreigners provide this data is discriminatory,” said Sonoko Kawakami of Amnesty’s Japan office. “They are saying ‘terrorist equals foreigner’. It’s an exclusionary policy that could encourage xenophobia.”

The new system is being introduced as Japan campaigns to attract more tourists. More than 6.7 million foreign visitors came to Japan in 2006, government statistics show. Immigration officials say they are unsure how long tourists can expect to wait in line for the checks to be made.

Britain is set to require non-European foreign nationals to register biometric details when applying for visas from next year.
ENDS Powerpoint Presentation on what’s wrong with new NJ Fingerprinting Program


Hi Blog. Want a quick-and-dirty (and easy to understand) presentation on what’s wrong with the upcoming NJ Fingerprinting Program?

Download my powerpoint on this subject (from a speech given at Waseda University on Monday, October 22, 2007) at

Spread it around. Show it to others. It’s all there.

Most newsworthy piece of information within the presentation, regarding the US-VISIT Program, upon which this new program is modeled:

“Roger Dow, president of the Travel Industry Association, told me that the United States has lost millions of overseas visitors since 9/11–even though the dollar is weak and America is on sale. ‘Only the U.S. is losing traveler volume among major countries, which is unheard of in today’s world,’ Mr. Dow said. Total business arrivals to the United States fell by 10 percent over the 2004-5 period alone, while the number of business visitors to Europe grew by 8 percent in that time. The travel industry’s recent Discover America Partnership study concluded that ‘the U.S. entry process has created a climate of fear and frustration that is turning away foreign business and leisure travelers and hurting America’s image abroad.’ Those who don’t visit us, don’t know us.”
–Thomas Friedman, New York Times, Sept. 30, 2007


And Japan thinks this will be good for not only “YOKOSO Japan”, but also it’s balance sheets? Beg to differ.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Online petition against NJ Fingerprint Policy you can sign


Hi Blog. Turning the keyboard over to Thomas in Kyoto:

Hi there. Here is an online petition against the NJ fingerprintings law:

Best, Thomas in Kyoto


Thanks for creating this, Thomas. Debito

Amnesty/SMJ Oct 27 Symposium, translated Public Appeal for abolition of NJ fingerprinting program


Hi Blog. Amnesty International Japan asked me to translate their public appeal for their Oct 27, 2007 Tokyo Symposium, calling for the abolition of the November 20 Reinstitution of Fingerprints for (almost) All Foreigners Program. Text follows below.

Sent it in an hour ago. If you like what they’re saying, attend this symposium. Details on where it’s being held here.

You want to get organized and stop all foreigners from being treated as terrorists? Now’s your chance. Arudou Debito in Tokyo



Sponsored by Amnesty International Japan and Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)
(Draft One, Translated by Arudou Debito, not yet approved translation)

The introduction of the Japan version of the US-VISIT Program, where almost all non-Japanese residents and re-entrants will have their fingerprints, face photographs, and personal details taken and recorded upon (re-)entry, is imminent.

Although this system, which was approved by the 2006 regular session of the Japanese Diet (Parliament) mainly as a means of combating terrorism, has not in our opinion been properly deliberated and considered by our policymakers.

For example:

1) Is it acceptable for these measures to be adopted without clear legislation regarding the collection, processing, use, and disposal of fingerprints, which is highly personal and biotic data?

2) Is it acceptable to entrust this kind of data, which as fingerprints and photos are of a highly personal and distinguishing nature, to all governmental bodies in this manner?

3) Is the technology behind biometric data collection really all that reliable?

4) Can we truly say that the definition and classification of “terrorist” has been clearly defined by law?

5) Have proper restrictions been put in place so that this information is not given to other governments?

These questions were neither adequately addressed nor answered when this program was passed by our legislators. Further, based upon our legislators’ answers and misunderstandings about these measures, it is clear that this program has been adopted without an adequate degree of preparation. Even though a year has passed since this program was approved, the above concerns remain unaddressed.

For these reasons we make this public appeal. We oppose this “Japanese version of the US-VISIT Program”, and add the following reasons:

The basis for requiring non-Japanese to give biometric data when entering Japan is the presupposition that “foreigners are terrorists”. This is discrimination towards non-Japanese people. With the exception of the Special Permanent Residents etc., taking fingerprints, photos, and other biometric data from almost all non-Japanese is an excessive and overreaching policy. In light of Japan’s history of using fingerprinting as a means to control and track non-Japanese residents, one must not forget that thus equating non-Japanese with criminals is a great insult and indignity.

It has also become clear in Diet deliberations that this biometric data will not only be utilized for “anti-terrorism”, but also in regular criminal investigations. This use is of sensitive biotic data is clearly beyond the bounds of the original goal of these measures, something we cannot allow our government to do.

Further, there an assumption that this data will be kept on file for at most 80 years, which means it will amount to millions of people being recorded. It goes without saying that keeping this much sensitive data (given that biometric data is the ultimate in personal information) for this long is highly dangerous.

Add the fact that the very definition of “terrorist” is vague, and that it is being applied not merely to people who “undertake action with the goal of threatening the public”. People who are “probable agents” of terrorism, or “can easily become probable agents” of terrorism, or who are even “acknowledged by the authorities as having sufficient grounds for becoming agents” of terrorism, are also included. This is completely unclear, and creates fears that Immigration officials will deliberately use this as a means to expand their powers.

Meanwhile, it is nowhere acknowledged that the US-VISIT Program is in any way an effective means of preventing terrorism. In fact, the very model for this system, the United States, has been advised by its Government Accountability Office that the US-VISIT Program has some serious weaknesses.

In other words, the US-VISIT Program, nominally introduced for anti-terrorism purposes, has not been clearly adjudged as fulfilling such purposes adequately. In fact, introducing said system has created clear and present human rights abuses. Even if such system was proposed for the express purposes of “anti-terrorism”, any country duty-bound to hold human rights in high regard has no mandate to do this. This point has been stressed several times by the United Nations, and in other international organizations debating anti-terror. It is hard to deny the danger that this means to control foreigners, under the guise of “anti-terror”, will lead to a deliberate disadvantaging of specific races, religions, and ethnic groups–in other words, the embodiment of racial profiling and racial discrimination.

This “Japan version of the US-VISIT Program” is thus laden with problems. There is not enough reason for it to be introduced in this version at this time. For this reason, we who have gathered at this symposium strongly oppose this program and demand its cancellation.

October 27, 2007

”Toward further control over foreign nationals?
Japan’s anti-terrorism policy and a Japanese version of the “US-VISIT” program”

Symposium organized by
Amnesty International Japan and Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)

Co-signed as Arudou Debito, Author, JAPANESE ONLY

FCCJ Press Conference on fingerprinting Oct 29


Hi Blog. FYI. The issue is still gathering steam. Debito in Tokyo

Press Conference
Barry Steinhardt & Makoto Teranaka
War on Terror & Controlling Foreign Nationals

15:15-16:15 Monday, October 29, 2007, Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, Yuurakuchou, Tokyo
(The speech and Q & A will be in English)

On November 20, Japan will begin fingerprinting and photographing virtually all foreigners entering the country in the name of the “war on terror.” Even those with permanent residency — who have previously been given the right to stay for life in Japan — are not above suspicion as Japan attempts to regain the title “safest nation on earth,” according to the Ministry of Justice.

But what will the new regulations prove? Will fingerprinting visitors make the country any safer and just how many terrorists will make the mistake of entering Narita and getting caught because they absent-mindedly gave their fingerprints to the government? Or is Japan using the “war on terror” as an excuse to bring back the once-mandatory fingerprinting of foreign nationals?

Template protest letter to authorities re new gaijin fingerprint laws



“I know many have written comments about the new fingerprinting laws for all non-Japanese reentering Japan’s borders. So i had a Japanese friend draw up a letter of protest. Here it is in English and Japanese. For the cost of stamp and an envelope i think its well worth sending it. Even if nothing is done, it’s great for our health just to let them know and get it off our chests. Nothing ventured nothing gained right?

I have kept it to one A4 size so that it is read, points out politely why i think it the law should be removed or amended, and specifically makes a request. I don’t expect much but i do expect it to make me feel better. Feel free to amend it as you like.” Scott Wallace



“平成18年5月24日, 法律番号043.

前略 私達は最近可決された、日本での永住権を持ち、日本に居住し、労働し、日本に家族を持つ全ての外国人に対して写真及び 指紋押捺を義務付けるとする新しい法律に関して、非常に懸念しております。

Mr Suzuki

Your address

To the right honorable………

Reference finger printing and immigration law.

“Heisei 18.5.24, Law No. 043.

We are concerned at the recent passing of a new law by the government which forces all foreign permanent residents who live and work in Japan, or have a Japanese family to be photographed and finger printed。

This law stigmatizes us as criminals, separates us from our families, children, colleagues, and friends, as well as the Japanese community that we live in.

We believe that to provide an equal and fair society, the government should ensure that all people who live in Japan should be treated equally as written in our constitution.

We would kindly like you to support/propose a change in this law so that all people, who have permanent residence or have a Japanese family, are exempt from this law. This would bring us in line with other special permanent residents who have been granted an exemption from this law. We believe this will provide a harmonious, peaceful, and a fair society that we live in, and we hope you will support us by proposing such an amendment to the law.

If you wish to contact us please do not hesitate in contacting me at the above address.

We look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Jane/John Smith.

The GOJ Anti-Foreign, er, Anti-Terrorist Movement keeps on rolling


Hello Blog. Brace yourself:


Pretty fascinating stuff going on these days in the official putsch to treat all foreigners as terrorists, er, criminals, er, so what–we Japanese can treat non-Japanese any way we like in our own country…

First, here are two letters to the editor from Martin Issott regarding the recent fingerprinting revisions, coming up in late November, and how they aren’t being instituted across the board. (More on this from here and here):


Click on thumbnail for Yomiuri Letter:
Letter to DY080907.jpg

And three documents that were Martin’s primary sources for the letter (click on thumbnails to expand in your browser):


Meanwhile, look at the profiteering going on nowadays (English original):

Now, Confronting Terrorism
2007.10.17-19 TOKYO BIG SIGHT, TOKYO, JAPAN, Organizer Tokyo Big sight [sic] Inc.
(courtesy of MD)

Some select bits from the site, all English original:

(note how the Ministry of Education is also attending)
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)


What’s the point of this meeting?
Merits of Exhibiting

It is the first presentation in Japan of assembled counterterrorism equipment and information. It is an original, and very important opportunity to exchange information, with the latest counter-terror products and services brought together under one roof. As a specialized exhibition, it has two major features; “Effective presentation targeting specific group of people”, and “Attendees coming with a purpose”.

Attendance of important managers with purchasing authority is guaranteed by the connections with relevant authorities built through RISCON. This is the ideal chance to have direct contact with exhibited products and services and to discuss purchase and introduction.

Attendance at the site is limited to people connected to terrorism countermeasures such as crisis management administrators from major facilities, and public servants from government administration offices and local government. It is planned that during the exhibition entry to the site will be limited to only about 3000 people. Because of this it will be possible to exhibit high level equipment and products with special specifications which cannot generally be shown in public.

And of course there is security at the event itself
Visitors who wish to attend the exhibition are required to submit a declaration in regards to the purpose of their visit and description of their daily business activities.

The organizer will review the content of the declaration and permit entry to only those whose declarations are deemed appropriate.

Those who are permitted admittance can enter RISCON TOKYO, ASBEX and GPJ for free.
How to declare:
Click the “Declaration Form” button.
Fill in the form and click the “Declare” button.

The organizer will review the content of the declaration and send an e-mail directly to applicants granted entrance permission not later than Oct. 12, 2007.

How to enter on the day of exhibition:
Individuals permitted admittance through the declaration process must show the following documents at the Visitor Registration in order to confirm identity:

1. Printout of e-mail indicating entrance permission
2. Passport
3. Business card of individual specifying affiliated agency or company

Tool around the site yourself. Amazing.


Finally, user-friendly snitch sites from Immigration:
(Courtesy of JJ)
Weird on several levels… (Japanese original, translated by Arudou Debito)

By Tokyo Immigration Bureau

From October 6, 2007, we will be taking information on illegal foreigners on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays too. Phone 03-5796-7256

In order to restore “Japan as the World’s Safest Country”, Immigration has the goal of reducing the number of illegal foreigners by half in the five years between 2003 and 2008. To this end, we need everyone’s cooperation.

So from October 6, 2007, in addition to the regular business hours of government offices, we will be open to receiving information on illegal foreigners by phone on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays between 9 AM and 5PM (exceptions being holidays between December 29 and January 3).

–Note that we will not be open for informants to visit in person on these Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays.

–This avenue will only be open for those wishing to inform on illegal foreigners. Those with other needs should call us during regular business hours when our offices are open.

More on other snitch sites in Japan and their abusable parameters at

Downloadable discrimination
The Immigration Bureau’s new snitching Web site is both short-sighted and wide open to all manner of abuses
By Debito Arudou The Japan Times: March 30, 2004

Anyone want to report me to Immigration and see what happens?

What a lovely turn of events. Want to do something about this? Attend Tokyo Oct 27 Amnesty meeting on this if you want. Details at

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

What to do about fingerprint law: letter of protest, Amnesty Int’l meeting Oct 27



(UPDATE: OCT 9: Comments section below contains suggestions on where to send your complaints.)


I’ve been getting quite a few inquiries as to what we can do about this from very frustrated people. Some want to march in protest, others want to lobby legislators, still others want to launch a lawsuit or just refuse to be fingerprinted.

Not to douse any fireworks (and I never like to tell anyone not to utilize a peaceful form of protest, even if it may not work in the Japanese system), but be advised of the obstacles you are facing:

1) LAUNCHING A LAWSUIT means a lot of time and energy (and often a considerable amount of money) you invest, and probably no way to stop this law from being promulgated in the first place. It’s been in the pipeline for years now, and at the risk of saying I told you so, I did, from at least 2005, so the “foregone conclusion” effect is very powerful by now. Moreover, I speak from experience when I say that the legislative and judicial processes in Japan are not going to interfere with one another (not the least due to the Separation of Powers mandate), at least not for the many years spent in civil court anyway.

Wanna try it? Go for it. I’ll hold your coat. But the simple argument you’re going to get back from any lawyer with a retiring personality (and no activist proclivity) is that you’re not going to be able to sue for discrimination–when many laws don’t treat citizens and non-citizens equally anyway; it’s like suing because you don’t have voting rights, and that definitely won’t wash in court.

2) CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, i.e. refusing to comply with the law, is an option, but the GOJ has already out-thunk you there. When protests against fingerprinting happened before (mostly by Zainichis), they were possible because people were already inside Japan when they protested. Refuse to hand in your fingerprint? Fine, go home and have dinner and wait for the next scolding letter from the GOJ. You weren’t going to get kicked out of the country. This time around, however, you’re outside the country, so refuse to be fingerprinted and you won’t be let in; you can sit in the airport lobby or Gaijin Tank all year for all Immigration cares. Moreover, to save themselves a repeat Zainichi protest performance, the Zainichis were conveniently made exempt. Touche. Refuse to comply if you like, but be aware of the potential risks–and unless enough of you do it and fill up the Gaijin Tanks they’re not going to notice.

You can, of course, in a similar vein make your complaints known and loud via you or your spouse and family by all lining up in the same Gaijin Line together, and grumbling when it’s your turn that you are not a tourist and should be treated like a resident of Japan like any other.

3) LOBBYING LEGISLATORS sounds interesting, but it’s extremely labor intensive, and legislators in my experience are not as accessible as they are, say, in the US Congressional lobbying experience I have had. Again, go for it if you want. They have email addresses and phone numbers. Just remember that unless you are an entrenched interest, Japanese Diet Members will generally be nonplussed about what you’re doing in their office; they don’t usually even pretend to listen to the commoners unless it’s election time.

4) A PUBLIC MARCH is also viable, and you might be able to get something going by attending the Amnesty International/SMJ meeting in Tokyo Oct 27. Attend if only to salve your angst that you feel alone in this issue–because you’re definitely not, but it sure is difficult to get the NJ community mobilized around much.

Anyway, first, the details of the Oct 27 Amnesty/SMJ Tokyo Meeting are blogged here.

Next, if you want to raise awareness of the issue, I have some letters below which Martin Issott has kindly said I can include to inspire us. He’s sent these out to various agencies, particularly the tourist-based ones, and I suggest you adapt them to your purposes and do the same.

Anyone have time on their hands (I don’t right now), please translate into Japanese for the public good and I’ll put it up here.

But don’t do nothing about it if this bothers you–otherwise the aggravation will build up inside you and fossilize into resentment. Arudou Debito in Sapporo




Dear Sir or Madam,

I am a 20 plus year resident of Kobe, and I am taking the liberty of writing to you to describe what I regard as the grossly unfair manner in which Japan’s Ministry of Justice intends to implement amendments to the Immigration Law, which come into effect from 23rd November this year.

I am hoping that you will be able to support the case that I describe, and will use your good offices in the UK to publicise this situation to all of your Japanese national members, in the hope that together their and your influence may be able to affect change to MOJ’s plans.

As you may already be aware, the amended Immigration Law requires that all foreigners, be they visitors, residents, or permanent residents, must submit fingerprints and photographs on each and every entry, or re-entry, to the country.

However the law also stipulates for those resident foreigners who have pre-registered their bio-metric data with the authorities, they may use what is termed an Automated gate system to facilitate their immigration procedure.

Since 23rd August I have on several occasions requested the Kobe Immigration Office to allow myself and my wife to provide the required bio-metric data.

At no time have I received an actual response to this request, but have been told, initially, only that the automated gate system would be established at Narita Airport by 23rd November.

Subsequent follow up finally resulted in a letter from the Kobe Immigration authorities dated 21st September clearly stating that the automated gate system is only to be established at Narita Airport, and there are no plans to establish this system at any of Japan’s other international airports.

As a Kobe resident, it is impractical for me to use Narita Airport, and thus as the situation stands at present I will be required to join the lengthy queues of arriving foreigners to provide my fingerprints and photograph each time I reenter the country.

It is a classic Catch-22 situation!

I regard it as grossly unfair to all resident foreigners residing outside of the immediate Tokyo area that the automated gate system is not to be established at all Japan’s International Airports.

Even more galling is the fact that at all international airports special immigration channels, effectively automated gates have recently been established for non Japanese APEC business travel card holders.

The final irony is that as a 20 year resident my fingerprints have long since been on file with Kobe City authorities, so I appealed to them to provide a copy of my data that I could submit to Kobe Immigration – they proudly proclaimed that they had long since destroyed such data!

I also applied to the local police, and was informed that the police never, ever, take the fingerprints of citizens in good standing!

Sir, this is really quite a ridiculous situation, but one which will very seriously inconvenience a great many resident businessmen, and in my case as an Area Director I need to enter and reenter Japan 2 or 3 times per month!

Finally I repeat whatever you are able to do to publicise this situation will be very much appreciated – noting that of course frustrated businessmen here will very soon be making loud appeals to the British Immigration authorities to treat resident Japanese businessmen in the UK in the same unfriendly manner which would be another retrograde step.

Yours sincerely,



Attention: The Director, Visit Japan Campaign [or whatever avenue you wish to pursue]

Dear Sir or Madam,

As I am sure you are well aware, the amended Immigration Law, contains a stipulation that an Automated gate system shall be established to facilitate the entry and re-entry to Japan of resident foreigners, however the Automated gate will only be established at Narita Airport by 23rd November this year, the date of the new law’s enforcement.

Kobe Immigration have confirmed to me by letter dated 21st September that there is no plan to establish the automated gate system at any other international airport in Japan.

You may claim that this has nothing to do with your organisation, but I believe very strongly that it has everything to do with your activities in your attempts to promote tourism to Japan.

When resident foreigners such as myself, with over 20 year residence in the city of Kobe, are as from 23rd November, on entry or re-entry to Japan treated as suspected criminals or terrorist despite our pleading with authorities to pre-register our bio-metric data in advance, I’m sure you can imagine that this does not give us a good impression about the quality of life living in Japan as a foreigner!

Therefore we will pass on these views and opinions to friends, relatives, and colleagues who might by considering to visit Japan with a strong warning to stay away!

There are still 2 months to go before implementation of the amended Immigration Law on 23rd November this year; I urgently request you to do your best to remonstrate with the Ministry of Justice about their unfair implementation of the new Immigration Law.

Sincerely yours,



J Times debate on reinstating fingerprinting for NJ


Hi Blog. Sorry to have missed this debate on reinstating fingerprinting for NJ only in the Japan Times Community Page last June. Since cyberspace is quite incandescent with outrage at the moment over the November revisions to the laws, here are the pros and cons by two friends of mine, Scott and Matt. Which do you find more convincing?

More on the issue on here, and Amnesty International/SMJ’s October 27 Tokyo Forum on it here. Comment from me and links to referential articles below the articles…


Japan Times Community Page Tuesday, June 6, 2006
Should Japan fingerprint foreigners?
Two views of a pressing issue

Immigration’s new system will make us safer

Over the protests of human-rights activists and groups like the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, Japan recently amended its Immigration Control Law to require that all foreigners (except “special” permanent residents) be photographed and fingerprinted when entering the country beginning November 2007. The plan mimics the “U.S.-Visit” program in the United States, which has been in place since late 2003.

The most vigorous arguments against the plan attack its use of fingerprints.

Even Nichibenren suggests that if the plan must be adopted, it should drop fingerprinting. Why? Because in Japan, public authorities’ only use of fingerprints is in criminal investigations, they say, and therefore it violates one’s dignity.

Indeed, all criminals are fingerprinted, but that doesn’t mean all people fingerprinted are criminals. The “green cards” of permanent resident foreigners in the U.S. have shown their fingerprint for decades. People in high-security or sensitive jobs are fingerprinted, too.

Some countries require fingerprints for passports now, and many more are proposing such a measure. Fingerprints are being used for biometric ID on ATMs and even cell phones for online transactions.

Clearly their role has evolved far beyond just crime investigations. And as their use continues to diversify, public feelings are likely to evolve toward a neutral view, too.

Fingerprints are just one form of biometric identification. Ironically, they are not even the most widely-used form, even in law enforcement. That throne belongs to photographs, which are in many ways much more “personal” data than fingerprints.

Yet you don’t hear anyone complaining that being photographed is “degrading” or “makes them feel like a criminal.”

In the end, when public safety is at stake, worrying about hurting people’s feelings is just not good policy. Airline security, for example, with its body pat-downs and shoe removal almost seems designed to violate one’s dignity. It’s unpleasant, yes, but necessary.

Other criticism of the program has focused on suggestions that it won’t be effective in preventing terrorists from entering Japan, that it will be too costly, and that it violates the “dignity” of travelers. But are these convincing arguments for abandoning the plan at a time when the risks from terrorism are clear?

For starters, critics of Japan’s plan suggest it simply won’t work. After all, they point out, the 9/11 terrorists were in the U.S. legally. While true, keep in mind they traveled extensively around the world before coming to the U.S. Had such a program been in place years before, it may have stopped them.

Another hole seems to be the program’s inability to stop a terrorist who lacks a criminal record, since it relies on database lookups to identify people. That, too, is true, but no one is suggesting that this program will perfectly prevent all terror.

That’s impossible, especially when the terrorist is willing to sacrifice their own life. Still, even if an attack is carried out, the data provided by a program like this can be valuable after-the-fact in tracking down the organizations responsible, and thereby preventing future incidents.

What’s more, terrorists aren’t the only ones that may be snared. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS), since January 2004, over 1,000 visa violators and other criminals have been arrested through the U.S.-Visit program. And keeping people like that out is in the public’s interest.

For fiscal 2007, the U.S.-Visit program will spend roughly $ 400 million. Developing the program cost another $ 1.5 billion. Japan — which has far fewer ports of entry and international visitors than the U.S. — could probably get by on a third to a quarter of that amount.

Is it worth it? The direct costs from 9/11 in property destruction and rescue efforts have been estimated at a whopping $ 27 billion. Medium-term, the impact on the U.S. economy due to drops in travel and tourism, increased insurance premiums and other effects is said to have been about $ 500 billion. And of course, the “cost” of the thousands of lives lost can never be measured.

Indeed, 9/11 was an exceptional case. But given that U.S.-Visit’s budget is less than 1 percent of the total outlays of the USDHS, it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable expenditure in light of its antiterrorism goal.

A government’s primary responsibility is to protect its citizens. Fingerprinting all foreign travelers will help do just that by creating a database that will help keep terrorists and criminals out of the country.

What’s more, shared with law enforcement agencies globally, it can be a powerful tool to help reduce the very real threat posed by international terrorism.

Fingerprinting puts foreign residents at risk
Courtesy Matt Dioguardi’s blog at

Imagine you live in a small town. Every time a crime is committed the police come to your door and escort you to the police station, take your fingerprints, and compare them to those found at the crime scene.

As you are the only person so regularly singled out, you ask, “Hey, why always me?” The answer is, “if you’re innocent, why worry about it?”

Eventually after your visits to the police station become almost daily, you plead with the officers to leave you alone. One of them has a revelation: “Hey, instead of destroying your fingerprints each time, let’s make a permanent record! Then, every time there’s a crime we’ll use that?”

Problem solved? Of course not. Having had enough, you spit in outrage, “why me? Why is it always my fingerprints and not anyone else’s you compare to those found at crime scenes?” One officer smiles sheepishly and explains, “it’s because you’re a foreigner.”

Sound unrealistic? Unfortunately, it’s not. It’s a reality. It’s already happened in the U.S., and it will soon be happening here.

Do you wish to enter Japan? Then you are suspect. Before you can enter you must turn over your fingerprints and allow them to be cross checked against an international list of criminals and terrorists. And that’s just the beginning.

The prints will remain on record for 70 years. According to the new procedures, if requested, the Justice Ministry will turn over the data to the police and other government agencies.

What’s that mean? It means like our fictional character in the beginning of this story, that for any crime committed in Japan, there is a high probability that you will be treated as a de facto suspect.

While no citizens will have to submit fingerprints by default, yours will already be there. And you’d better believe you are a de facto suspect in each case. It’ll be as easy as pushing a few buttons on a computer.

Is it fair for a foreigner to be a de facto suspect in potentially any crime in Japan where fingerprints are lifted? No.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associates has come out strongly against this measure. (See:

Among the many useful arguments they make, they point out that the measure might well stigmatize foreigners as somehow being more inherently capable of crime than Japanese.

They also note that it is clearly unconstitutional under Article 13. And yes, the constitution does apply to people seeking entry into Japan. They may not be citizens, but they are people.

Ultimately, this policy puts foreigners at unfair risk. I typed in the phrase “how to fake fingerprints” on Google recently and got back over half a million hits. I checked the first 60, which told you how to do just that.

You leave your fingerprints everywhere you go. You leave them on trains, on vending machines, any place you lay your hands. Foreigners will have to take this in stride as they become de facto suspects in almost every crime committed.

There are respected scholars, former police officers, and journalists now questioning the entire science of fingerprinting. And whose to say how long it takes before collected prints are leaked through Winnie?

Putting all this aside, guess what? This policy just won’t work. Does anyone really believe that all terrorists are foreigners? The Tokyo subway sarin attack comes to mind (6000 injured, 12 dead), so does the bombings of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Tokyo in 1974 (20 injured, 8 dead) and the Hokkaido Prefectural Government office in Sapporo in 1976 (80 injured, 2 dead). The obvious prejudice here is palpable.

Lest anyone forget, most of the 9/11 terrorists entered America legally. Terrorists often have clean records and are not on watch lists.

So if not terrorists, who is on the watch lists? Well as the Justice Ministry will rely on an international list, in many cases they have no way of knowing.

There have already been credible reports of activists in America being detained because their names turned up on terrorists watch lists (simply a mistake?).

Recently some British citizens were outraged when they found that their names had been put into a criminal database (more mistakes?).

Terrorists with clean records will be able to enter, ordinary people will be hindered and face rights abuses.

If none of this is enough, has anyone stopped to even fathom the cost involved here?

So what you have here is a ineffective policy that clearly discriminates against foreigners and costs a bundle of cash.

In short, the worst of all worlds.


The biggest problem I see with this new copycat biometric system (aside from the fact that it’s not even being instituted nationwide–only at Narita, which means elsewhere everyone foreign goes through the Gaijin Line regardless of whether or not they are actually a resident of Japan) was not really alluded to in Scott’s argument–that if you really want to take care of terrorists, you fingerprint everybody. After all, if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to fear, even if you’re Japanese, right?

I’ve said this before, but there is no reason to target NJ only like this, except for the fact that you can. Given the cultural disfavor with fingerprinting in Japan (essentially, only criminals or suspected criminals get systematically fingerprinted in Japan–this association is one of the reasons why the Zainichi generational foreigners successfully protested for decades to get it abolished in the 1990’s), if you included Japanese in the fingerprinting there would be outrage, and the policy would fail. Look what happened when they tried to institute the Juki Net universal ID card system earlier this decade (it was even ruled unconstitutional in 2006).

I been watching this come down the pipeline for years now, and have of course been writing about it. See the roots of this policy and what sorts of discriminatory logic it is founded upon (i.e. clear and systematic racial profiling, both in essence, and in an enforcement which bends existing laws) in a 2006 Mainichi article and a 2005 Japan Times column. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Here comes the fear
Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents
By Arudou Debito, Japan Times, May 24, 2005

Japan to fingerprint foreigners under proposed immigration bill
Mainichi Shinbun, February 8, 2006

Both at

MOJ Website on fingerprinting/photos at Immigration from Nov 2007 (UPDATED)


Hi Blog. Lovely bit of Japanicana at the GOJ online TV network. Except that as well as being kinda weird and laughably amusing, it’s deadly serious about targeting foreigners as potential terrorists.

Friend just sent me a link to a new site talking about the new Immigration procedures coming into effect in November 2007, which will involve taking fingerprints and photographing of all “foreign visitors” crossing the border into Japan.

This will, however, not be restricted to “foreign visitors”. It will be applied to everyone BUT (quoting the website):

1. Persons under the age of 16
2. Special status permanent residents
[presumably the Zainichi generational “foreigners”, which means regular-status permanent-resident immigrants are NOT exempt]
3. Those performing actions which would be performed [sic] by those with a status of residence, “diplomat” or “official government business”


Which means even people who are long-term residents will get fingerprinting reinstated, despite having it abolished after decades of protest in 1999 (See article with more details at

And this time, if you don’t comply, you can’t take it to court (like Kathy Morikawa and others did). You’re just refused entry at the border.

GOJ’s justification? Prevention of terrorism, and the “safety of foreign visitors”.

The video in English is a hoot too, wheeling out a few token foreigners of color hamming it up, and agreeing to have their privacy violated on suspicion of terrorism.

But the irony here is that all the terrorist activities that have happened so far in Japan (from Aum on down) have been Japanese.

The association of foreigners with terrorism (moreover apparently helping to save them from themselves) is pretty presumptuous.

Why are they doing this? Because they can. If the GOJ were really serious about combatting terrorism, they would fingerprint everybody. But they can’t. They tried this before years ago with widespread protest. Look what happened to the failed Juki-Net system with universal ID cards (it was even ruled unconstitutional in December 2006, see

The GOJ info site on fingerprinting is at

Distressed about this? More on what you can do about it here:

Trace the arc of this policy proposal as it became law at:

Here comes the fear
Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents
Column 21 for the Japan Times Community page, MAY 24, 2005

LDP proposal to computer chip foreigners has great potential for abuse
By Arudou Debito
Column 26 for the Japan Times Community Page November 22, 2005

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

–UPDATE JULY 2, 2007

I decided to call around to a few places in Japan, specifically to
get the official word on what new immigration procedures will be
happening at airports starting in November. I called the Ministry
of Justice Immigration Division (General Affairs), Narita
Immigration and Japan’s Foreigner(?) Human Rights Bureau.

First off, not that I expected much from Houmushou, but I was able
to get the person answering the phone to confirm that all
foreigners, except Zainichi and government staff on offical business
will be photographed and printed each time they enter and exit
Japan. When I suggested that this procedure could be seen as
invasive to long-term visa holders and permanent residents (who have
already gone through an extensive vetting process by immigration) he
simply restated that all foreign guests would have to submit their
biometric data. Of course, I do understand that front-line
government staff have no power to comment on laws nor to change
them. I thanked him for his info and asked that please pass on my
concerns to his superiors.

Narita Immigration also confirmed the same information, although
they were slightly more sympathetic in tone of voice. I asked them
what the procedure would be for international families entering
Japan. Would they be forced to separate into foreigner and Japanese
lines at immigration or would they be able to enter together as is
currently. The woman explained to me that situations like this are
being debated within the department, but as far as the plan goes for
now, she believes that all foreigners will have to use the “foreign
national” line. She did add that front-line staff at Narita are
hoping to have one or more booths on the “Japanese National” side be
able to handle reentry permit holders. I also asked her a
hypothetical question about what were to happen if a permanent
resident visa holder with a valid re-entry permit were to refuse to
get printed and photographed. “They would be denied entry into
Japan.” she said.

Finally, after being given the number from the woman at Nartia
Immigration, I called a number of an organization dealing with human
rights for foreigners in japan. I spoke to a nice woman who was
well aware of the upcoming regulations. I asked her whether the
organization felt this legislation was a violation of human rights,
and if so, would they be writing some sort of report to the
government. She said that they really can’t make a statement about
something being a human rights violation until AFTER it has been put
into place. In other words, they’re adopting a wait-and-see
approach. She further added that if there comes a time in which
they feel these new procedures ARE infringing in foreigners human
rights, they will consider writing a report to that fact to the
Ministry of Justice. (although, by then millions of foreigners will
have their biometric data collected and stored on some huge, on-line
database that other government agencies will have access to).

Well, that’s where it stands at the moment. Any chance that we can
get the media to talk about this again before November? It seemed
from articles months ago and several Ministries were surprised and
concerned that this new policy was blanketing the entire non-
Zainichi foreign population. Perhaps there’s still hope for getting
this revised?

Mark Mino-Thompson