Asahi: Immigration Bureau inundated with e-mails “snitching on” Korean nationals, suspends program after nearly 12 years of snitching


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Hi Blog.  Good news.  After the Immigration Bureau instituted this easily-abusable program of “snitch sites”, where the general public can anonymously rat on “foreigners” for any reason whatsoever, it has finally been suspended (not yet abolished, however) after people really began abusing it.  See, I told you this would happen.  Pity it only took nearly twelve years (it was instituted on February 16, 2004) before Immigration realized it.  Yet another example of callous disregard by the bureaucrats towards the very people they are charged to serve.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito


Immigration Bureau inundated with e-mails ‘snitching on’ Korean nationals, suspends program
Asahi Shinbun, December 24, 2015, courtesy of JK
By HWANG CHUL/ Staff Writer

Baffled by a surge of e-mails snitching on resident Koreans as “illegal aliens,” the Immigration Bureau shut down its tipster program on people overstaying their visas and contacted the police for assistance.

“This is a highly regrettable situation,” said an official with the bureau’s general affairs division. “Sending e-mails to slander foreigners does not meet the purpose of the system to inform on illegal residents.”

The bureau, an arm of the Justice Ministry, said that since May it had received more than three times as many e-mails informing on supposed illegal residents than in fiscal 2014. It attributed the surge to misinformation that spread on the Internet claiming Korean nationals would become illegal aliens as of July 9.

The Immigration Bureau adopted the tipster system in 2004 to crack down on people overstaying their visas. It received 460 or so e-mails on a monthly average on the topic last fiscal year. But in May of this year, the figure jumped to 1,821, with 1,562 in June. The number of e-mails received in July through September is still being tallied, but could exceed 10,000, according to the official.

The bureau noted that there was a sharp increase in e-mails about Korean nationals based on false information, and signs that a lone individual was responsible for many of them.

Some online comments said people could claim a reward for ratting out a Korean.

This situation stemmed from a decision to issue special permanent resident certificates to ethnic Koreans and their descendants in place of municipality-issued alien registration cards following their loss of Japanese citizenship after the end of World War II. The deadline for approximately 150,000 Korean nationals to change their certificates was July 8.

Although failure to shift to the new system could eventually be subject to penalty, there are no provisions under Japanese law for deportation over non-compliance.

Citing concerns that the surge in e-mails could snarl up its service provider, the Immigration Bureau stopped accepting further e-mails at the end of October. In November, it asked the police to ascertain whether a criminal case could be made for business obstruction.

The bureau plans to resume accepting tips on people overstaying their visas after they come up with measures to eliminate bogus e-mails.

But there have been calls for the program to be scrapped because of its racist and judgmental overtones.

Information sent to the bureau can be submitted anonymously.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations submitted a memorandum to the justice minister in 2005, a year after the program started, asking for it to be abolished.

It stated: “The program has ordinary citizens essentially spying on people suspected of being illegal aliens, which serves only to advance prejudice and discrimination towards foreigners.”

The citizens group Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan submitted a similar complaint to the Justice Ministry in November, stating that the program “incites discrimination.”

Hiroshi Tanaka, a professor emeritus at Hitotsubashi University who is well-versed in human rights issues concerning foreign residents of Japan, said the Immigration Bureau should abolish, not suspend, the program advocating people to snitch on foreigners.

“With such a system in place, people who make hate speeches like ‘banish the Koreans’ would feel as if their actions are ‘given government approval,’” Tanaka said.


14 comments on “Asahi: Immigration Bureau inundated with e-mails “snitching on” Korean nationals, suspends program after nearly 12 years of snitching

  • 12 years over due but Im even more surprised that in 12 years no one has filed a human rights lawsuit against the immigration department for having this inhumane website. OOPS! I forgot this is japan and they allow human rights violations against NJ

  • What I don’t get is why the Korean Japanese that were stranded here after WWII weren’t simply given citizenship in the first place. In the very least as a form of recompense. Must be one of those not so common common sense things eh.

  • OnceAGaijinAlwaysAGaijin says:

    Just been reading Murakami’s Underground. The very first story opens with how the survivors of Japan’s only major terror attack (an all Japanese affair, this time with the specific bag of Sarin pierced by a rising star of the medical establishment, no less) staggered up from the subway entrance outside what is now the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT), and lay there in the street suffering for HOURS and nobody in MLIT, the very ministry charged with subway safety, lifted a finger.

    The guards on the gate did NOTHING. The bureaucrats crossed the road to avoid the victims while pressing on with their important tasks of ensuring that they come up with schemes to maintain their budgets and pay their pensions did nothing. Nothing. Zilch. Hours. Not even a single bit of humanity. Nobody sent for blankets. Nobody called an ambulance. The tragedy was unfolding on their front porch and not a single person bothered to do anything, anything at all.

    Thanks, MLIT.

  • Cyroselle Says:

    What I don’t get is why the Korean Japanese that were stranded here after WWII weren’t simply given citizenship in the first place. In the very least as a form of recompense. Must be one of those not so common common sense things eh.

    There were a number of factors for this

    1. Obviously the Japanese didn’t want it to be so and the US occupation forces bought into the whole idea of Koreans, both here and in Korea, as having lesser qualities than the Japanese. Remember this America 1945 – 52 we are talking about, with all its own racist baggage.

    2. It wasn’t in the interests of those Koreans in Japan in 1945 – 52 to take Japanese nationality. The occupation forces of Japan were obliged to feed and offer economic aid to those non-Japanese nationals they found in their zones of control, they weren’t obliged to do the same for Japanese nationals. This meant that the Koreans in Japan, especially during the bad years of 1945 – 49, got a better ration deal than Japanese nationals.

    3. A lot of Koreans in Japan would have probably left Japan quite willingly in 1945 and returned to Korea. After all, the political boundaries of Korea had not yet been finally drawn, Japan was bombsite (while most of Korea had finished the war intact) and they were Koreans culturally. However there was a Y1000 limitation on what they could leave Japan with and this meant to most of them that threw away any acquired wealth. This limitation remained in place until the late fifties and by then Korea itself was a bomb site and ripped in 2 by the Cold war.

  • Another example of how Japan’s total disregard of civil rights backfires. Just like how foreigner bashing paved the way for the ultra-right wing uprising. The ultra-right wing is now considered a menace to society by the NPA; but gee I wonder how they came to power? Bash foreigners and then wonder why the whole world thinks you’re racist. Or why your economy and birth rate are going down. Keep bashing foreigners, Japan, and wonder why other countries like Korea are moving forward, while Japan still stagnates and yearns for the good old days of militarism.

    You mean a site where you can snitch on foreigners would actually be abused?? I’ll be darn.

  • Well partly because of the Korean war, Koreans stayed in Japan and then after the war, some Koreans went back but had to choose which country they would go to, either the North or the South.

    I wonder if the rub is that Koreans could choose one passport, either from the communist north or the south.
    I think Korean schools in Japan can identify with either the north or the south, and I think some people wonder what is being taught in a northern school.

    I have heard that Koreans are free to naturalize, but many choose not to. One of my former students did. One year his name was in hangul and the nert year he had a Japanese-sounding name.

  • Cyroselle: Japan had granted citizenship to the nationals of its former colonies when they were colonies. The Potsdam declaration was interpreted by the Japanese government to require, effective immediately, that Japan rescind its grant of nationality to the nationals of its former colonies. See the law implementing the Potsdam declaration. So, the Korean Japanese were given citizenship in the first place – but the US, China and USSR made Japan take it away.

  • Bob Says:
    Cyroselle: Japan had granted citizenship to the nationals of its former colonies when they were colonies.

    Not true Bob.

    They were Imperial subjects of Japan, but they did not acquire Japanese nationality. Full Japanese nationality was only afforded to those who were registered on the koseki.

    The Japanese operated a similar koseki style system in Korea and Taiwan, called the shoshi kaimei system, but it was operated separately from the koseki system and it was forbidden for people to move from the shosho kaimei system to the koseki system, even if they lived in Japan.

    At the end of the war, for obvious reasons, the shoshi kaimei system went out of existence and those Koreans in Japan after 1945 were not allowed to join the koseki system; they became non-persons within Japan.

    Although I am sure the writers of the post war Japanese constitution had a different intent, Kokumin became determined by being registered within the koseki system and since the Japanese Koreans were not, they remained non-citizens

  • >”I have heard that Koreans are free to naturalize, but many choose not to. One of my former students did. One year his name was in hangul and the nert year he had a Japanese-sounding name.”

    It doesn’t matter if they naturalize or don’t naturalize. If they naturalize, they must keep a tight secret that they are ethnic Koreans or else face the accusations that they are fake Japanese pretending to be Japanese. Naturalized Koreans are not considered real Japanese. Just like how Debito no matter the fact that he also naturalized, Japanese never saw him as their fellow citizens. For Koreans who have naturalized to Japanese, they have the extra burden of accusations that they are pretending to be Japanese when they’re not. The racism and discrimination never goes away even if they naturalized. So for many Koreans who still have not naturalized there are couple of factors why they do not want to become Japanese. First, the North Koreans will want to stay North Koreans by their nature of their indoctrination. Second, naturalizing means that they must now hide their Korean ethnicity and be ashamed of it. So what’s the point of having to renounce and hide your heritage for something that offers little advantage – having too many compromises may not be worth getting naturalized.

  • Well as far as I know, this boy was the son of two teachers, so maybe they wanted to naturalize in order to have job security.

  • Scipio,

    You are playing semantics to some extent, but it’s the accepted and official view that the zainichi were Japanese citizens at minimum from 1945-1952. Please see the below link and quoted text by anti-racist zainichi korean professor of zainichi studies. If you have back-up for your claim that I am wrong, would be delighted to see it. But this is the common knowledge and history as understood by all experts I am aware of.

    田中 朝鮮はかつて日本の植民地でした。台湾人や朝鮮人は日本の内地でも、建前は「帝国臣民」として扱われていました。


    This professor is very much on the left of this historical argument, and even claims below this text that Japan is unusual in not granting citizenship to second-generation immigrants (not sure this is true, seems like many countries grant citizenship not based on place of birth). He is also an expert on zainichi korean history. I will expect your source to be at least comparably eminent.

  • Bob Says:
    If you have back-up for your claim that I am wrong, would be delighted to see it…..I will expect your source to be at least comparably eminent.

    So many sources, but you’ll have to buy the books. It was one of my main areas of study at university, back in the day.

    The best contemporary in-detail study of this subject is ‘Democracy in Occupied Japan. The U.S. occupation and Japanese politics and society.’ Chapter 7 goes into exhaustive detail

    Here’s an abridged version of it.
    The Forging of Alien Status of Koreans in American Occupied Japan by Mark Caprio – See more at:

    Mark E. Caprio is professor in the Department of Intercultural Communication and the Graduate School of 21st Century Design Studies at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, Japan.

    Not saying it’s right, but the argument that Koreans and Taiwanese residing in Japan after 1945 lost their Japanese citizenship is completely wrong. How can you lose something you never had?

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    I suspect one reason the original status (subjects but not citizens) of the modern Zainichi Koreans remains so ambiguous is by design. It keeps modern Japanese ignorant of the reason for their special status (while revisionists portray them as parasites who abandoned a destitute and lawless Korea for the luxuries of Japan)
    Anyway, the snitch site was doomed to be abused from inception. How do you trust information on potential illegal residents from people who don’t know what isn’t illegal?

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Andrew In Saitama #13

    Yes, you’ve got to the heart of the matter there, IMHO.
    The system has been intentionally set up to deny Japan’s role in occupying Korea, intentionally to keep post-war Japanese ignorant of plight of the zainichi, and to facilitate continued racial abuse against them by Japanese society explicitly as a way of ensuring the survival of imperialist era racist Japanese world-views; when it comes to the zainichi, they are seen to be inferior to Japanese, and taking advantage of Japan (ah, Japan the ‘victim’ narrative again. The world is so unfair to the Japanese!).


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