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


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

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

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

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

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

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

“Green Card” Faraday Envelope:

Global Entry Card Faraday Envelope:

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

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

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

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

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  • trustbutverify says:

    @#48 — I have to believe the intelligent discourse has moved beyond the it does/doesn’t happen stage by now. It happens. OK.

    “What I meant was that discriminatory practices in Japan are so common that it statistically unlikely for any NJ to reside here for ten years or longer and not to experience any form of them.”

    Probably. Though some forms of discrimination are subtle, and some people are less sensitive to slights, so it’s entirely possible not to notice, or not to care.

    “…it seems totally unlikely that they would co-ordinate to let certain NJ only escape the ‘dragnet’…”

    Indeed. That would be unlikely. However, it is statistically probable that there are people who have never in the “right” place at the “right” time to be stopped on the street. Me for instance. Over ten years residence. Don’t ride a bike, so the bike checks are out. Have never, yet, been stopped on the street. Probability says it’s only a matter of time, but so far it hasn’t happened to me. I’ve seen it happen to others though, often, the majority of them, as it happens, Japanese (or Japanese looking). Not that that leads me to believe foreigners “never” get stopped. The only thing I can conclude is that I haven’t been stopped, yet, and this reality is inarguable.

    Frankly, some of your arguments seem the antithesis of the stance. Your position appears little different from the “if you don’t like it, go home” brigade. Fact is, you didn’t like, you went home, and you are urging others to do the same.

    Moreover, you consistently turn it up to eleven. That doesn’t lead me to believe you’re more earnest. It makes me feel I am being trolled by someone playing a game. If that is your intent, well played, sir. If not, dial it back to reality.

    The truth doesn’t need to be augmented to make it more true.

  • @Chand sorry, that wasn’t me… please go back and re-read my post 😀

    Actually I had an interesting experience the other day: a clerk asked me for ID, _in order to check how my name was spelt_. Seems like she didn’t want to ask me the spelling. I just told her the first three letters and she managed to find my reservation.

  • @FightBack seriously, your experience or paranoia is not universal. I’ve been here twelve years, and I have never been stopped on a bicycle. I have been ‘carded’ twice (at Sendai airport in the boarding area, and Narita in the public area). I really think it depends on where you live and on your lifestyle.

    Nor am I living in dreamland: I’ve had problems in the past with estate agents, property owners, banks, employers, and civil servants that I found unacceptable. Doesn’t change the fact that I find Japan a comfortable and rewarding place to live in 😉

    I’m sorry you aren’t having a good time, but that doesn’t mean everyone is in the same bad place.

  • I’ve had the pleasure of perusing this blog for the past six years or so. However, the most annoying argument that keeps circling around is, “I’ve never experienced that, so therefore it’s not an issue/not happening.”

    Or, “Too bad you were discriminated against. I’m making great money at my job, and have a comfortable life here. Therefore Japan is a great place for anyone to raise their kids!” Completely oblivious that you are enjoying a life reserved for a select few NJ’s in Japan.

    I know that Debito has dealt with this phenomena in the past, but I could not find it in the archives.

  • @ Sendaiben
    Sendaiben Says:
    @Chand sorry, that wasn’t me… please go back and re-read my post

    Sorry If I miss quoted you.

  • (I know I’m supposed to stay off this thread, but please let me post at least once more.)

    Please, please, don’t pick on Eric C. I get the feeling that he could stay in Japan and suffer the indignities if he were single and childless, but being a father he REALLY doesn’t want his kids to have the same experiences. Who would? I feel exactly the same way.

    In fact, nothing I’ve ever read or heard about marriage and parenthood in Japan has tempted me to want to do either. Marriage just seems to involve endless compromise and various forms of deprivation. Ditto parenthood.

    Having said that, I think that in many ways Japan is a great place to raise bicultural kids, especially if their mother is Japanese, and especially if both parents are willing to make superhuman efforts to ensure that their kids are both bilingual and biliterate (and I do mean superhuman). Japan is extremely safe – at least as far as street crime is concerned – and has very high educational standards, at least at the elementary school level, especially in maths and science. Traditionally Japan has had very positive attitudes towards second language ability (especially English, and to a lesser extent French). Bilingual children are often the object of very positive attention. So are male children in general. But because Japan is a place that doesn’t force women to give birth to children that they don’t want, almost all children born in Japan are wanted children, and these days girls are valued as much as boys. Don’t be frightened of raising kids in Japan! You’ll be fine, and so will they.

    (It seems that this whole thread has sprouted legs and run off in a different direction, I feel partially responsible. I want to apologise for that.)

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    In support of Eric C, and to be fair, a number of other readers of, I would like to link this interview with Michael Woodford, remember him? He’s the guy that got fired from Olympus for ‘not understanding Japan’s culture’ or some such nonsense, yet, please read the interview. He shows a superb understanding of Japan (with exception to his analysis of Hashimoto/Ishihara as solutions rather than symptoms of Japans political handicaps).

  • @EricC I had a hunch that your profession has to do with writing. I would really like to read your published work, but I also understand it isn’t possible to reveal your identity, at least not here.
    I still think writing a book (or at least a longer Essay) would be worthwhile. You are right that it is highly unlikely that it would “change Japan”, but I doubt if that should be your ambition in the first place. Why not write something because it is right and needs to be said? Your word needs to get out, even if it is just to save a couple of people from betting their future on living in Japan.
    But beyond that, I think a very interesting to explore is the huge gap between the general image of Japan and the Japanese in the Western world, and the reality here. How did Japan pull this off, and how much of the blame do we, i.e. the Western world, have to face in deluding ourselves?

  • @JimDiGriz I read this too and thought the same thing! Mr. Woodford, despite apparently not speaking Japanese, has amazing insights. Good on the Japan Times for publishing this – I somehow doubt that it will reach the Japanese language media.

  • @Markus:
    Thanks for the kind words. I wish I could reveal my true identity and also give links to some of my other writing. But, I think you understand why I cannot.

    I take your point about writing a book. Changing the country should not be the goal (or the only goal) of writing a book. Simply writing to make the truth (or a truth) known is a great reason to write a book. And, as you rightly note, correcting the West’s often inaccurate view of Japan and warning off those who plan on betting their futures on Japan are both also good reasons to write a book or a longer essay.

    I still might do it – if only because I’ve spent so much time thinking about the issue, researching it and even writing about it – but a book is such a commitment. And, to tell the truth, there are two or three other topics (unrelated to Japan) that are occupying my mind more these days and I’m probably going to try to write a book about one of them in the next year.

    During the whole time I was in Japan, I often thought to myself: When I leave this place, I want to leave it completely. I mean, I wanted to forget about it. I felt like I had given the place enough of my time, energy and thought. Obviously, even after having left, I’m nowhere near the goal of forgetting the place, but it does sort of remain a goal.

    Japan looms so large in the mind when you’re in Japan, but it’s really a very small part of the world and there are issues that are more important. And, I believe there are things I can write about that might lead to real change, whereas my suspicion is that no matter what I wrote about Japan, it would be largely ignored by the Japanese (at least the Japanese elites) and would only be “preaching to the choir” for those of us NJ who know that Japan ain’t the Oriental fantasy land it’s so often portrayed as in the media.

    All that said, as you can tell, I don’t mind typing and I’m a stubborn bastard, so I might just write that book anyway. So, thanks for the encouragement!

  • ‘Woe betide the naturalized citizen or Japanese of international roots, who now have the burden of proving somehow that they are not “foreign”…’

    Have the laws actually been changed in this regard? It has always been my understanding that if the police decide arbitrarily that I’m not a citizen and wish to pursue it at my inconvenience, the burden of proof is on them, as is the embarrassment they cause their superiors when I publicly bring formal charges against their entire department.

    — I”m looking forward to you doing that, Kaoru! Somebody has to, eventually.

  • @Jim De Griz post 57:

    That’s a great interview. personally, I don’t agree with Woodford’s politics at all, but his analysis of the problems are spot on.

    For example;

    “JT-Japan isn’t Greece or Spain.

    Woodford- It’s much worse.”

    He also points out that you people enjoying the good life in Japan are living in a bubble. Sound familiar?

    So, shall we dismiss Woodford with patronising comments about being sorry that it didn’t work out for him? Is he just another disgruntled foreigner who did’t play the game?

    Interestingly, I read an interview with Woodford in the British Sunday Times a few weeks back, and he was a lot more sanguine about Japan, saying he still loves the place, he wants to work to make it better etc. I think what has happened is that the more he has thought about it, the angrier he has got about being treated so outrageously. He gave his working life to the company/country.

    I hope he keeps blowing the lid off the place, like that guy (on whom “the informer” was based)did with the tobacco industry.

  • ‘Woe betide the naturalized citizen or Japanese of international roots, who now have the burden of proving somehow that they are not “foreign”…’

    This could work out very badly for all naturalised foreigners. How about the following scenario:

    1) The police get embarrassed (possibly sued) in multiple cases after demanding ID from naturalised foreigners.
    2) The police complain to the politicians.
    3) The politicians pass a new law by which all citizens must carry ID to be produced on demand from the police.
    4) The police stop every white, black, hispanic, arabic etc.-looking person they come across, never bothering to stop “Japanese-looking people”, and in the face of complaints claim that “Everyone has to carry ID now, it’s not discrimination.

    The fact that everyone would have to have ID would seem fairer on the surface, but in practice the situation would be worse than now.

    Don’t see a solution, though.

  • @ Joe

    Lets not forget the case of the police harassing a Japanese national in Kawaguchi, Saitama a couple of years ago of Yamato ethnicity “because she looked Brazilian” and refused to talk to them in Japanese as her family said “she is unaccustomed to talking to strangers”- a case of Japanese xenophobia backfiring on the police!

    (partly the fault of the whole Tokugawa “don’t talk to strangers” mentality- but then again, maybe that was just the tatemae”/Nihonjinron dogmatically acceptable excuse, and she really did not want to compromise her privacy to the cops, “western”/individualist/human rights honne ).

  • @ Baudrillard & Joe

    To be honest, never mind the illegal spontaneous card checks, recently I have seen some strange cops that I would challenge if I saw them talking to a Japanese person! The first pair were walking around town two weeks ago at lunchtime patrolling in short-sleeved shirts. In November? Surely the J-cop regulations state that they all should be in winter uniform by now? The only reason I know such a regulation exists is because I remember a guy impersonating a cop was picked up in Tokyo a few years ago because his uniform didn’t match the seasonal regulations.

    A couple of days after that incident, in the early afternoon, I saw a pair of cops patrolling, both with hair so long it was touching their shoulders. There has got to be a reg against that. So either cop cosplay is the underground trend of the moment, or discipline is slipping.

  • Yet more evidence supporting Eric C’s (and others’) assertions that the young in Japan are getting royally screwed and bringing them up here is doing them a serious disservice:

    Don’t blame the messengers guys.

    The Japan Times Friday, Dec. 14, 2012
    ELECTION 2012
    Older voter glut helps politicians avoid long-range problems

    Staff writer
    Japan faces structural problems that threaten future generations, including snowballing government debt, swelling social security costs, a low birthrate and a rapidly aging population.

    But politicians just sidestep vital decisions and shelve necessary reforms, allowing the state to keep spending rampantly by issuing vast government bonds that will make the burden on future generations even heavier.

    One figure might explain why these problems aren’t being addressed: the high average age of people who actually vote.

    With the society turning gray and the turnout of young voters remaining low, apparently due to apathy, the average age of those who voted in the 2010 Upper House poll was 56, a research paper published in July by the National Institute for Research Advancement think tank shows.

    Internal affairs ministry data show that in the 2010 election, the 20-29 age group accounted for only 7.6 percent of all people who cast ballots.

    Hiroshi Yoshida, a Tohoku University professor and expert on fiscal science, pointed out that the turnout rate was only 33.68 percent for eligible voters aged 20 to 24. In contrast, among those aged between 65 and 69, 78.45 percent cast ballots.

    “For political parties, discussing issues elderly people find unpleasant would just bring disadvantages in an election,” Yoshida said during a recent interview.

    The situation is predicted to get even worse for young generations. If the turnout trends continue unchanged, the average age of adults who vote will keep rising to 60 years old in 2030, according to the NIRA paper.

    “Elderly people have greater impact on election results, so politicians just push for policies preferred by elderly people,” Manabu Shimasawa, an NIRA researcher and one of the coauthors of the paper, told The Japan Times. “Actual election policies advocated by parties are exact reflections of this.”

    Indeed, the future for younger generations — including those not yet born — is already bleak.

    Rest at

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