Sendaiben digs deeper on those Narita Airport racially-profiling Instant NPA Checkpoints

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. Just got this this morning from friend Sendaiben, about his latest experience with Narita Cops and their racially-profiling ways. Self explanatory, looks like the J-cops are getting free training at the expense of NJ bystanders for being visible while foreign. Have a read. More on this topic previously on Debito.org here. Debito

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From: Sendaiben
Date: September 5, 2010

Flying out of Narita on September 5th, I had a few hours to kill after connecting from Sendai. I was alone, reading on a bench in the restaurant area. After about 20 minutes, a young and very pleasant policeman came up and asked to see my passport in passable English. I replied in Japanese, and we had an interesting conversation. Unfortunately I was mentally unprepared for all of this, so gave him my passport from which he noted down all the details. I refused to provide a contact phone number, however.

I have to emphasise that he was very pleasant throughout, and we had a friendly conversation. He was from Akita, seconded to Narita for two years (it seems the Narita police are drawn from all over the country). I mentioned several times that as a long-term resident I loved Japan but was uncomfortable being singled out for special attention like this due to my appearance. He sympathised and said that it also made him uncomfortable.

Some important points:

1. It seems that the whole exercise is voluntary, something he mentioned when I refused to provide the phone number.

2. I reminded him of the law on the management of personal information, but he was unable to tell me why they needed my passport details or how long they would be kept on file.

3. He claimed it was a random check but that they asked ‘people who seemed foreign’. I asked him to ask some Asian people next, and he said he would 🙂

The whole thing seemed like a training exercise, down to the silent sempai observing from ten metres away.

The most important thing I got out of this is that these checks may well be voluntary. I am therefore going to refuse (politely) to cooperate next time, and see what happens. I guess in a worst-case scenario they could ask to check my ARC, but I would then not allow them to write anything down.

ENDS

“Pinprick Protests” #1: GOJ authorities finally telling hotels correct enforcement procedures for NJ check-ins. Pity it only took five years.

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  I would like to launch a new type of campaign, something I will call “Pinprick Protests”, an activity done on the individual level to protest injustice and unfair treatment in Japan.  Less visible than picketing and petitions, it is no less effective over time:  Enough individual protests nationwide, and it becomes “mendoukusai” for the authorities to have to deal with the issue anymore, and things shift for the better as GOJ attitudes and enforcement mechanisms change.

Case in point:  I received a good news from a translator yesterday in Debito.org’s comments section:

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JayIII Says:
April 22nd, 2010

I work as a translator and often get jobs from the local government and I thought I would share a little bit of good news.

A request came across my desk today for updating the english phrasing recommended for hotels to display for foreign guests. The Japanese was changed from requiring “foreign visitors” and “display their passport or gaijin card” 外国人宿泊者 and 旅券もしくは外国人登録証明書を提示 to

Non-Japanese visitors without a permanent Japanese residence and display their passport 日本国内に住所を有しない外国人宿泊者 and 旅券を提示

So it’s one little step in the right direction.

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Yes, quite. The law, when it took effect on April 1, 2005, said that NJ guests who had no addresses in Japan (as in tourists) would have to show their passports at all hotels in Japan (this was an “anti-terrorist and contagious disease measure“, problematic in itself; Japanese guests, then as now, need show no ID). The NPA and the MHLW then, deliberately and repeatedlydespite articles in the media, an inquest by the US Government, and various “pinprick protests” by individuals at check in who are aware of the letter of the law — bent the laws to say that all NJ (as in “foreign guests“), must be IDed, and some hotels (such as Toyoko Inn) used this as an excuse to refuse NJ customers entry. As determining who was a “foreign guest” was a matter of physical appearance to many hotels, this led to nationwide racial profiling, inconvenience, and insult (as not all people who look NJ are tourists, naturally).  All sponsored by authorities refusing to enforce their own laws properly.

Now, it seems, cops and ministries are finally giving hotels the correct information, and no longer bending the laws to target all NJ. Good. Pity it only took five years for the GOJ to knock it off.  And I bet it’s not a universal thing at hotels yet, so expect a bit more harassment at check-in.

Download the hotel laws here and continue the “pinprick protests” whenever necessary.  It works.  Over time.  What it takes is informedness, tenacity, and patience.   And the will to believe that we are not merely “foreign guests”, but rather people who have rights in Japan and the will to claim them.  For it is people who do NOT protest who get walked all over by the powers that be, as this case study demonstrates.

More suggestions for “pinprick protests” later.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

McGowan Case: Steve wins case on appeal at Osaka High Court

mytest

Good news at last. Comment follows at bottom:

ARTICLE BEGINS
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African-American wins Y350,000 in damages for being denied entry into Osaka shop
Japan Today, Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 19:41 EDT
http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/387820/all
Courtesy Kyodo News

OSAKA — The Osaka High Court ordered an Osaka optical shop owner to pay 350,000 yen in damages to an African-American living in Kyoto Prefecture for denying him entry to the shop in 2004, altering a lower court ruling in January which rejected the plaintiff’s damages claim.

Presiding Judge Sota Tanaka recognized the owner told Steve McGowan, 42, a designer living in the town of Seika, to go away when he was in front of the shop, and acknowledged damages for McGowan’s emotional pain, saying the entry denial “is a one-sided and outrageous act beyond common sense.”

However, the remark “is not enough to be recognized as racially discriminatory,” he said. McGowan had demanded 5.5 million yen.

According to the ruling, the owner told McGowan to go away to the other side of the road in a strong language several times when he was about to enter the shop with an acquaintance in September 2004.

The plaintiff had claimed the owner said, “Go away. I hate black people,” but the ruling dismissed the claim, as the possibility that he misheard the owner cannot be eliminated.
A plaintiff attorney said, “It’s unreasonable that discrimination was not recognized, but the court ordered a relatively large amount of damages payment for just demanding the plaintiff leave the shop. It seems that the court shows some understanding.”
==========================
ARTICLE ENDS

COMMENT:
I am very happy Steve McGowan appealed his case, as it shows just how ludicrous the previous District Court ruling was last January.

Full information on the case at
http://www.debito.org/mcgowanhanketsu.html

The previous decision disqualified McGowan and his wife as credible witnesses to any discrimination, by ruling:

1) McGowan’s testimony inadmissible, as he apparently does not understand enough Japanese to reliably prove that the store-owner used discriminatory language toward him.

2) McGowan’s wife’s testimony as negatively admissable. In her follow up investigation, McGowan’s wife didn’t confirm whether the store-owner had excluded McGowan because he is black (“kokujin”); she apparently asked him if it was because her husband is *foreign*.

Put another way: A guy gets struck by a motor vehicle. The pedestrian takes him to court, claiming that getting hit by a car hurt him. The judge says, “You weren’t in fact hit by a car. It was a truck. Compensation denied.”

This was a huge step backward. As I argued in a Japan Times column (Feb 7, 2006, see http://www.debito.org/mcgowanhanketsu.html#japantimesfeb7), the McGowan decision thus established the following litmus tests for successfully claiming racial discrimination. You must:

* Avoid being a foreigner.

* Avoid being a non-native speaker of Japanese.

* Have a native-speaker witness with you at all times.

* Record on tape or video every public interaction you have 24 hours a day.

* Hope your defendant admits he dislikes people for their race.

Actually, scratch the last one. The eyeglass shop owner did admit a distaste for black people, yet the judge still let him off.

Now this High Court reversal sets things back on kilter, although it pays McGowan a pittance (35 man yen will not even cover his legal fees!) and will not acknowledge the existence of racial discrimination.

That’s a shame. But it’s better than before, and far better than if he did not appeal. Gotta pray for the small favors.

Thanks to Steve for keeping up the fight! Arudou Debito in Seattle, USA