Japan Times: Govt “Snitch Sites” being used to target Zainichi Koreans for harassment


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Hi Blog. In the previous blog entry, I pondered aloud a future Japan after the rule of law and the Japanese Constitution is further eroded for the sake of reactionary nationalism. Under Debito.org’s purview, without clearer evidence I wasn’t able to speculate how this would affect NJ residents of Japan. Now there is some evidence (which was brought up elsewhere on Debito.org within Comments starting from here) within a Japan Times article excerpted below.

Not all that long ago, NJ residents of Japan were basically seen as misunderstood guests. As I describe in great detail in my upcoming book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (out in November), thanks to GOJ campaigns in the 2000s the narrative officially shifted to seeing NJ as a source of crime, illegal overstaying, infectious diseases, and terrorism.

As can be seen in the JT article, this attitude has percolated down to the interpersonal level. Again, not that long ago, Japanese in general were quite unaware that NJ had to carry “Gaijin Cards” 24-7 or face arrest, detention, and financial penalty (many I talked to were even more flabbergasted when they realized that NJ fingerprinting — the hallmark of criminal tracking in Japan — was once involved).

This has clearly changed:  anonymous xenophobes-cum-bullies empowered by the Internet are now aware enough of NJs’ vulnerable status as something trackable by Gaijin Cards (thanks to official NJ-targeting campaigns such as this one, found in places like subway stations back in 2011) that they are now spreading false rumors about Gaijin Card conversion (from the ARC to the remotely-trackable Zairyuu Card) and visa overstaying (in this case targeting the Zainichi Korean “generational foreigners” ethnic minority in Japan).  They are now “overwhelming Immigration” with “tips from bounty seekers”.

The kicker to this incident is that the internet bullies have been empowered by a system of “snitch sites” that the Japanese Government set up long ago (and Debito.org has long decried as incredibly open to abuse: see also here) to anonymously rat on any NJ based upon any reason whatsoever. Did the fools who set up this system really think that sooner or later this wouldn’t happen?  What’s next, as Japan’s general public starts to get involved in this GOJ-sponsored “Gaijin Hunt”? Dr. ARUDOU Debito


Xenophobic wave of tips target ‘illegal’ Korean residents; immigration bureaus overwhelmed
by Tomohiro Osaki, Staff Writer
The Japan Times, Jul 21, 2015 (excerpt)

An Internet rumor that hundreds of thousands of ethnic Korean residents are to be deported has seen immigration bureaus nationwide deluged with “tips” from bounty seekers and others about neighbors who in fact remain legal residents.

It has so overwhelmed local offices that the Justice Ministry has spoken out to deny claims that Zainichi ethnic Koreans with “special permanent resident” status are now subject to deportation. The group comprise mostly ethnic Koreans and their descendants.

It is unclear whether the rumor arose by mistake or was maliciously devised by racists and right-wingers, but it appears to have tapped a national thread of xenophobia, given the volume of callers trying to turn their neighbors in.

The rumor says ethnic Koreans forfeited their residency status after July 8. Although Zainichi identity papers are in fact being upgraded to a new system, that date was only a deadline for foreign citizens to swap certificates of alien registration for a new identification card.

Within days, immigration bureaus witnessed a surge in calls, letters and emails from members of the public informing against special permanent residents, according to Justice Ministry official Masashi Shimazu.

“The reports came unexpectedly and the situation needs to be corrected,” Shimazu said.

Typical messages inciting tipoffs could easily be found on the Internet on Tuesday. Tweets and comments on discussion forums said that denouncing one Korean residing in the country illegally would lead to a bounty of ¥50,000. These postings pointed readers to a website operated by the ministry soliciting tips on the whereabouts of illegal immigrants.

Shimazu acknowledged that the ministry site received some emails seeking to inform on people in the country legally, but declined to divulge the number.

The ministry moved fast to try to counter the misunderstanding. Last Thursday it posted a notice on its website assuring ethnic Koreans and other special permanent residents that failure to obtain the new ID by the July 8 deadline “would not lead to deprivation of their status as a special permanent resident.”

The ministry also plans to define in clearer terms who it refers to as “illegal immigrants,” Shimazu said, adding that the chief target is people who overstay their visa. […]


Rest of the article at


2 comments on “Japan Times: Govt “Snitch Sites” being used to target Zainichi Koreans for harassment

  • So they had a deluge of snitches who reported their neighbours, based on internet rumours, so much so that the government ministry web site went down. Internet hate comes to real life now?

    Here’s another article from Asahi News.


    Japan Times and Asahi are the only papers that seems to be reporting this though.

    Immigration Bureau warns against false deportation rumor targeting ethnic Koreans
    ASAHI SHINBUN July 21, 2015
    By HWANG CHUL/ Staff Writer
    The Immigration Bureau has issued an “important advisory” against the spread of a baseless rumor about deportation that has rallied racists and spooked ethnic Koreans in Japan.

    The Justice Ministry’s bureau posted the warning on its website on July 16 after deeming the situation stemming from the false rumor as “serious.”

    The section on the bureau’s website that accepts tips on people who are illegally staying in Japan has been inundated with “reports” about ethnic Koreans.

    “The rumor of deportation is completely groundless,” an official with the bureau stressed.

    The rumor states that “starting on July 9, ethnic Koreans will lose their legal status and will be deported.”

    July 8 was the deadline for permanent residents in Japan to switch from their alien registration cards to new residence cards under a revamped management system for foreign residents introduced in 2012.

    Ethnic Koreans in Japan who lost their Japanese nationality after Japan’s defeat in World War II and their descendants were required to change from the Certificate of Alien Registration, issued by local governments, to the Special Permanent Resident Certificate, issued by the central government.

    Of the estimated 360,000 ethnic Koreans eligible for special permanent resident status, about 150,000 faced the July 8 deadline for the switchover.

    According to the Immigration Bureau, about 10,000 Korean residents had not completed the procedure by July 8.

    The expiry of the deadline apparently triggered the false rumor that those who missed the deadline would be deported.

    One message on Twitter said: “Let’s collect a reward by alerting immigration officials to our Korean acquaintances.”

    An official with the Immigration Bureau’s General Affairs Division said that after the deadline passed, a large number of reports were sent to the bureau’s website regarding “foreigners whose cases clearly do not warrant deportation.”

    The bureau emphasized that while a penalty may be applied against those who missed the deadline, their failure does not correspond to deportation under the law.

    In its “important advisory,” the bureau urged people to complete the procedure at an early date. It also denied that those concerned would lose their special permanent resident status.

    In addition, the bureau plans to warn against senders of misinformation that is intended to demean foreigners on the section that accepts tips on illegal stayers in Japan.

    Yasuko Morooka, a lawyer well-versed in human rights issues of foreigners, said the latest incident should be taken seriously as a precursor to a potential hate crime.

    “The ongoing problem of hate speech (against Koreans in Japan) appears to have moved into a new dimension since many people did take the action of reporting people to the Immigration Bureau,” she said. “The incident shows that it could escalate into a crime or hate crime against specific racial or ethnic groups.”

    Morooka urged the Justice Ministry to start a publicity campaign targeting Japanese to highlight the fact that the rumor has no grounds.


  • Antiracism website aids ethnic Korean victims of hate speech in Japan
    Asahi Shinbun, May 10, 2015
    By AKIRA NAKANO/ Staff Writer

    Ethnic Koreans who suffer racial abuse in Japan now have an online site where they can file grievances and find help.

    The Anti Racism Information Center was set up in response to growing concerns over hate speech and other forms of discrimination directed against ethnic Koreans.

    The center, established by a group of Korean residents and Japanese supporters, gathers extensive details surrounding each incident. This information is then used in calling for legislation to help stamp out racism.

    The site is spearheaded by Ryang Yong Song, a 32-year-old graduate student researching racism and discrimination at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo. He is aided by about 20 young academics in the Kanto and Kansai regions.

    “A climate to spit in the face of Korean residents has existed in Japan since before the war,” Ryang said. “We need a venue to help ethnic Koreans who are living in Japan and feel isolated, usually because of weakening ties within the Korean community.”

    As well as counseling, the center will provide someone to accompany a victim to a public office if further action is required.

    Many ethnic Korean residents complain about being left with emotional scars due to the discomfort, anger, anxiety and fear they feel after falling victim to racism.

    Ryang, born in Tokyo’s Arakawa Ward, served as representative of an organization of young Korean residents until March.

    When he commuted to his office in the Shin-Okubo district, a so-called Korean quarter of Tokyo, he sometimes witnessed protests in which demonstrators would hurl abuse such as “Kill Koreans.”

    The center will hold a symposium on hate speech and its victims at the Kitazawa Town Hall in Tokyo’s Shimokitazawa district on May 10.

    The Anti Racism Information Center’s site is http://antiracism-info.com/about/.


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