Onur on continued racial profiling at Japanese hotel check-ins: Discrimination is even coin-operated!


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Hi Blog. Another letter below from a Debito.org Reader talking about how Japanese hotels are continuing to racially profile their customers at the behest of the police, and in a way actually against the law. More on this here. Reprinted with permission of the author.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

March 3, 2016
Hello Dr. Debito,

I am a foreigner living in Japan. Your “WHAT TO DO IF” page has a column about “…you are asked for your passport number at a hotel, despite having an address in Japan.” and “…you are refused service at a hotel.”, which is very informative. I would like to share my experience.

I travel often, so I stay in many business hotels in Japan. Not all but many of them caused many problems due to the passport copy rule. Of course I carry only my residence card, not my passport. In the past I used to allow them when the hotel wants to copy my residence card. I remember that a hotel in Asakusa ward of Tokyo even asked me to copy my residence card by myself! The woman at the reception pointed the coin operated photocopier in the hall and told me to copy my residence card and bring it to the reception. I said it is coin operated, not free and she said pay the money to the machine. I paid the money, copied my residence card by myself and gave the copy to the reception. Even though it was hotel’s photocopier, they did not pay the money back!

Later I learned that as I have an address in Japan, hotels do not have the authority to ask my residence card and started to reject them when they asked to copy it. Still I was showing the card when they asked. Two years ago I had a bad experience at Inuyama Central Hotel in Aichi Prefecture. I wrote my Japanese address to the guest registration form, but two old male receptionists asked my passport. As I don’t carry it, I showed them my residence card and my address on it. They wanted to copy it, but I said no. They said that they must copy my residence card according to the law of Japan. I said copying is not necessary and they did not allow me to check-in! We had a long argument, but they refused me service. I was extremely tired and exhausted, it was late at night and it would be hard to find a place stay at that time, so I decided to resolve it the next day and allowed them to copy my residence card.

The next day I checked out and tried to find some help. Unfortunately it was Sunday and public offices were closed. I went to the the police center but they were not knowledgeable about the law. Then I went to the local Tourism Association. They called the hotel but the hotel said they are sure that the IDs of all foreigners must be copied. The association called other hotels to confirm and other hotels said that that law applies only to the tourists.

The association called again the Inuyama Central Hotel to inform, but the hotel said that they also checked it and learned that only the passports of tourists must be copied! I said I want to get the copy of my residence card back and went to the hotel. In the hotel I saw only a young female receptionist. She gave the copy and just said sorry (moushiwakegozaimasen). I said “I lost half a day and had many problems because of your hotel’s fault and is that all you say?”. She said moushiwakegozaimasen only and got rid of me. You can read my review and their reply on Rakuten travel at

This problem is widespread in Japan, not limited hotels in the rural places, which are not familiar with foreign guests. Even Hotel Sunlite Shinjuku in Tokyo, which is a big hotel full of foreigner guests wanted to copy my residence card. My review is at

Later I called the department related to the hotel law at Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) by phone 03-5253-1111(ext: 2437)and asked the law. They said “The foreigners living and having an address in Japan do not have to show their ID to hotels. It is enough to write the address in Japan to the guest registration form. If the guest is living in Japan, the hotels do not have to copy IDs, or ask to see the IDs or check whether the address written to the guest registration form is correct”.

It seems like copying IDs of all foreigners is being enforced by the police. Recently I reviewed another hotel which asked to copy my residence card and as a reply they said that copying the residence cards is requested by the police. My review and their reply is on the page http://review.travel.rakuten.co.jp/hotel/voice/15873/13252581?f_time=&f_keyword=&f_age=0&f_sex=0&f_mem1=0&f_mem2=0&f_mem3=0&f_mem4=0&f_mem5=0&f_cat1=1&f_cat3=1&f_teikei=&f_static=1&f_point=1&f_sort=0&f_next=0&f_offset=1

I did a search on the Internet and saw that a Zainichi Korean had the same problem at Yonaga City in Tottori Prefecture and called the police station to clarify the rules. It is written in detail on the page http://blog.goo.ne.jp/gekkan-io/e/01e22b16aecd84285992755fc96f46b4. In short, the police accepted that they are forcing the hotels to check and copy the IDs of all foreigners! Police is even asking the hotel to call the police if a foreigner does not show his ID! At the same time they say that showing the ID is voluntary and a foreigner has the right to refuse showing it. A big dilemma!

Arguing with the hotels on this residence card check and copying is very annoying. Refusing to allow copying the card may not be enough as the hotel may continue asking it to other foreigners. Recently, when I stay in a hotel that asked to copy residence card, I am writing a review on Rakuten hoping that the hotel and checks and learns the real law. I also give a low rating to those hotels in the review. Average rating in on-line reservation sites is somewhat important in Japan, so probably many hotels would take it into account. If many foreigners people do the same thing, more hotels may abide the law.

Regards, Onur

38 comments on “Onur on continued racial profiling at Japanese hotel check-ins: Discrimination is even coin-operated!

  • I’ve run into this problem more things that I wish to remember.
    I have several pages of extracts from relevant laws on my smartphone. (I use free OneNote, but anything should work.)
    I usually try to keep a printed copy as well so that I can educate ignorant Japanese on their own laws.

    For reference, the information that a hotel is allowed to collect is defined as follows:


    第四条の二  法第六条第一項 に規定する宿泊者名簿に記載すべき事項は、宿泊者の氏名、住所及び職業のほか、次に掲げる事項とする。
    一  宿泊者が日本国内に住所を有しない外国人であるときは、その国籍及び旅券番号
    二  その他都道府県知事が必要と認める事項

    I usually highlight the 日本国内に住所を有しない外国人であるとき portion.
    However, be careful because as per item (2) each prefecture is allowed to add items to this list.
    Though I am unaware of any prefecture adding foreigner card / passport copies to the list.
    But usually hotel employees do not know what their own prefecture adds to the list, so I also have a small collection of such extensions per prefecture.
    I have only prepared for prefectures that I have stayed at in the last few years, but the list is growing.
    For example, here is what Tōkyō adds:
    第五条 規則第四条の二第二号の知事が必要と認める事項は、次のとおりとする。
    一 性別
    二 年齢
    三 前泊地
    四 行先地
    五 到着日時
    六 出発日時
    七 室名

    And Ishikawa (my link is dead):
    第六条 法第六条第一項に規定する宿泊者名簿に記載すべき事項は、次に掲げる事項とする。
    一 氏名
    二 住所
    三 職業
    四 宿泊者が日本国内に住所を有しない外国人であるときは、その国籍及び旅券番号
    五 性別
    六 年齢
    七 電話番号
    八 到着年月日時
    九 出発年月日時
    十 前宿泊地
    十一 行き先

    Occasionally when a hotel tells me that I still cannot stay without giving them a copy of my passport / foreigner card, I bring up the following law, which defines when a hotel is allowed to deny lodging.


    第五条  営業者は、左の各号の一に該当する場合を除いては、宿泊を拒んではならない。
    一  宿泊しようとする者が伝染性の疾病にかかつていると明らかに認められるとき。
    二  宿泊しようとする者がとばく、その他の違法行為又は風紀を乱す行為をする虞があると認められるとき。
    三  宿泊施設に余裕がないときその他都道府県が条例で定める事由があるとき。

    As long as you keep calm and are not violent, then none of these will ever apply.

    The worst case that I can recall is that after telling a hotel employee that only limited group of people such as the police are legally entitled to request my card, they called the police to check my card. I showed it to the police who then tried to show it to hotel. At which point I said that it is a violation of 個人情報保護法 (Japan is pretty strict on personal information) and that I would gladly fill out a 被害届 and 訴えます, at which point he stopped.

    Also, if the hotel has multiple branches, make sure that you also send an e-mail to them to complain / educate them on the situation. Make sure that you use words such as 迷惑 and 不愉快, and who will take 責任 for it. (These are things that are important to most Japanese.) Also ask if they even train their employees. I have received a few responses back where they apologize and state that they will educate their employees about the matter. One such encouraging response that I got back:



  • Seems that this can happen more to the foreigner traveling alone. When I travel with my wife, she writes our address
    in Japanese.
    I also think that some places are more foreigner friendly than others.
    Kobe is a city that comes to mind.

    Kyoto gets a lot of tourists and I wonder if there the assumption is that foreigmner = tourist.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    A 4-quick-and-easy-step for hotel receptionist to serve for non-Japanese client at Japanese hotel

    1. Please fill out traveler’s information card

    2. (Ask Verbally) Do you have an address in Japan? If you don’t have an address, we will ask you to show your photo ID for reference.

    Yes/No (If yes, skip #3, and go to #4)

    3. Please produce any identification documents that provide your contact information (passport, New Residence Card, or any picture ID in client’s home country) for scan and/or photocopy(if necessary).

    4. Do you have reservation? (If yes, please wait for a moment. The clerk will check the log of your reservation for transaction. If no, the front desk will check any available room for reservation. Please tell your payment method (cash, traveler’s check, or credit card) for transaction)

    All they need to do is write this instruction(English& Japanese) in paper, and put it on the computers or front desk for all receptionists(and also for clients).

    It’s been 10 years since Hotel/Travel Lodge business laws on foreign clients became effective. Unfortunately, we’re not sure how many hotels have an adequate input and train their staff in an appropriate and professional manner on this occasion. It’s not a difficult task for them at all. They can do their business more effectively with quick memorandum so that they would avoid this kind of unnecessary nuisance to annoy NJ clients.

    Another possibility, I think, is that NJ clients may need to show photo ID is when they reserve a hotel with pending transaction and pay by credit card. I don’t know how many people will choose to pay later, rather than at the time of online reservation. I wonder if there’s any case that NJ(especially those who live in Japan as resident) have also been asked to show photo ID for credit card transaction.

  • @#2 Brooks
    If you’re traveling with your (presumably) Japanese wife, then you’ve got a de facto gaijin handler – she’s effectively vouching for you by being with you so if anything happens they’ll drag her over the coals thus all’s well.

  • I come across this a lot when I travel on my own. I’ve always pushed back and that has been the end of it. For some reason the distinction between tourist and resident seems to be hard for hotel staff to make.

  • Onceagaijin,alwaysagaijin says:

    Beyond what has been already said about this, and I think it’s a very important topic, I’d like to add this to the pot.

    I’ve found it a bit hit-and-miss. I sold up several properties last year and am temporarily renting through a major Tokyo property and real estate agency. Just before inkan time at the swank HQ, they asked to copy my zairyu card. I told them, look, I am X and Y and Z and we’ve got this far, and there is no legal requirement.

    Because of my age and status, it was made clear that I didn’t need to do that (I was very, very polite and gentle about it) and they’d make an exception for me. We know how tiresome it can be doing all these things even at the end of househunting, dealing with real estate agents, etc. I let it drop. But my point is here, they didn’t get the point at all.

    I was recently up in inaka with my own family and my wife’s brother and family. We booked into an American-owned chain and they were quite insistent that they wanted my card. Further they wouldn’t understand my Japanese and started the baby-J and talking to my wife rather than me. My brother -in-law (who is an executive) was really pissed. He came over and basically told them what the hell did they think they were doing behaving like that to someone in his 50s who had spent nearly three decades in the country.

    The staff didn’t care, my brother-in-law felt that we were all being treated poorly (I’m used to it, I’m a gaijin- for us it’s being treated differently with no ill feeling or racism at all, because the Japanese aren’t racist and don’t need legislation do they, that’s right) we had a talk, and decided to cancel the rooms and walk out

    – Thereupon they didn’t want to give us a refund, because it was in the contract that giving a full refund was against the rules. Whereupon my brother in law (who is a bucho in a major international firm) went ballistic at them, saying that we had seen or signed no contract. After a few minutes including some shouting by him the staff relented.

    I note that is was a U.S. owned chain, and I really hesitate to think if I had been on my own would I have gotten my money back? If I had started shouting, would they have called the police. Would I have been shouting because I am a typical foreigner, who are all only really entertainers/ help/ sources of money, who need to be controlled and watched. Finally, on this point, when it comes down to it, my brother-in-law clearly didn’t see their behavior as discriminatory, but extremely poor, which, of course, reflects on their assessment of HIS status.

    I didn’t pursue this argument with my b-in-l whom I personally actually like, and who has been a great friend down the years, and we’ve helped each other a lot on all sorts of different levels.

    We did a quick search, hopped in our cars, and booked in at …Dr. D’s old favorite- Toyoko Inn. They were great- never batted an eyelid, no baby Japanese, no passport or zairyu card. They were well trained at least. Then when I asked for extra blankets and pillows, my b-in-law told me that they don’t usually do these things at business hotels, but I could get away with it because I am a gaijin.

    The final point for me is another area of the hit-and-miss nature of all this. Recently the police in Shibuya have been just walking up to kids around the large smoking area opposite the old Inogashira Line train carriage and asking kids for their ID (ostensibly to check if they are smoking underage). The police come in teams of 3, surround the youth. While they are very polite, you can picture it. Every single time, the youth complacently gives up is card, and then opens his bag for the police to (gently but exhaustively) rife through it.

    If the Japanese are so willing to bow to authority what chance do we stand? If we have to live a society of informal and formal rules and no standardised laws laying out the rights of foreigners not to be discriminated against, these issues will remain.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    Loverilakkuma, I would take issue with your #3:

    3. Please produce any identification documents that provide your contact information (passport, New Residence Card, or any picture ID in client’s home country) for scan and/or photocopy(if necessary).

    This step is invasive and unnecessary. The MHLW’s directive requires hotels to record the traveler’s passport number. No one who has a New Residence Card would fall under this directive, because such cards are issued only* to people who reside in Japan, and thus do not need to do anything but write their address.

    There is no justification at all for demanding some form of picture ID from the traveler’s home country, nor would there be any reason for the traveler to be carrying it (a non-national enters Japan only with a passport).

    Also, while I have heard of hotels copying passport pages, I have never heard of them making scans. A lossy black-and-white photocopy is one thing; a high-resolution digital scan is another thing. Is it actually legal for a hotel to refuse a non-resident customer who offers his passport number but does not allow any documents to be copied or scanned?

    *: There is the very minor exception of people who have moved out of Japan, but are back visiting on their unexpired residence visa. From a legal standpoint I suspect that they would not have been removed from the jūminhyō rolls, and thus they would still be maintaining a legal address in Japan. Advice welcome if you’re a legal expert.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @ Mark in Yayoi, #7

    Err, I said:

    “2. (Ask Verbally) Do you have an address in Japan? If you don’t have an address, we will ask you to show your photo ID for reference.”

    “Yes/No (If yes, skip #3, and go to #4)”

  • The MHLW’s directive requires hotels ONLY to write down the passport number of ONLY folks without an address in Japan.

    That’s it.

    If you go to a hotel in Japan, and you have an address in Japan, you don’t need to show anything.

    (And you NEVER have to show your Residence Card to ANYBODY: except for immigration officers when you are asking for something, or immigration/police who have reasonable suspicion to believe you have committed a crime.)

    If you go to a hotel in Japan, and you don’t have a Residence card, you only need to hold your passport still for 10 seconds while the clerk writes down your passport number. No copying. And definitely no scanning.



    The police’s illegal unofficial letters fraudulently tell hotel owners/staff that they must photocopy the I.D. of all non-Japanese-nationals.

    (These illegal letters also include the false implication that you can tell just by looking at someone’s face whether they are a Japanese national or a non-Japanese-national.)

    (And these illegal letters also include the false implication that if the clerk begins to think the customer is a non-Japanese-national, suddenly the person has to PROVE their nationality by either showing proof of being a Japanese-national or showing one’s Residence Card.)

    Thus, the police’s illegal unofficial letters fraudulently tell hotel owners/staff that:

    they must photocopy the I.D. of all people who appear to lack Japanese citizenship,
    and that all people who appear to lack Japanese citizenship must allow their I.D. to be copied,
    and that all people who appear to lack Japanese citizenship who refuse to allow their I.D. to be copied can be refused entry.

    We have another case here of illegal police action. The proof is those letters they send hotels.

    The police will probably not stop their illegal action unless forced to by the Supreme Court of Japan.

  • And, we have another case of lower “Guidelines” (non-laws written by un-elected non-legislators) patently conflicting with higher LAWS(laws written by elected legislators)

    Here’s the law which says non-dangerous humans can NOT be denied entry to a hotel with available rooms:


    第五条  営業者は、左の各号の一に該当する場合を除いては、宿泊を拒んではならない。
    一  宿泊しようとする者が伝染性の疾病にかかつていると明らかに認められるとき。
    二  宿泊しようとする者がとばく、その他の違法行為又は風紀を乱す行為をする虞があると認められるとき。
    三  宿泊施設に余裕がないときその他都道府県が条例で定める事由があるとき。

    Here’s the guideline which says non-dangerous humans CAN be denied entry to a hotel with available rooms, if they are “foreigners without an address in Japan who refuse to show their passport number”:


    第四条の二  法第六条第一項 に規定する宿泊者名簿に記載すべき事項は、宿泊者の氏名、住所及び職業のほか、次に掲げる事項とする。
    一  宿泊者が日本国内に住所を有しない外国人であるときは、その国籍及び旅券番号
    二  その他都道府県知事が必要と認める事項

    Those “Guidelines” themselves are against the law, because according to the higher LAW: even “foreigners without an address in Japan who refuse to show their passport number” can NOT be denied entry to a hotel with available rooms.

    Seriously folks.

    Focus on the higher LAW, not the lower, conflicting (thus illegal) “Guidelines”.

    All “Guidelines” are illegal which conflict with LAWS.

    (And all laws are illegal which conflict with the higher Constitution.)

    (And all Constitution sentences are illegal which conflict with the supreme United Nations Yreaties).

    Stop complying with illegal “Guidelines” which folks shove in your face. Shove the legislated LAWS, and the Constitution, and the United Nations Treaties back in their face and make them realize there is a hierarchy and that you do not have to obey illegal “Guidelines”.

    For example, the illegal “Guideline” which tell city workers they can refuse to give Kodomo Teate (Child Allowance) to non-Japanese-nationals who refuse to show their passport pages. I DO succeed every single year in absolutely refusing to comply with that illegal “Guideline”, since the LAW states that ALL residents with children on their JuminHyo who apply for Kodomo Teate MUST be granted Kodomo Teate. I receive my Kodomo Teate every year without complying with that illegal “Guideline”.

    And one more example, the illegal “Guideline” which tells immigration officers they can refuse to give Eijuken (Permanent Residence) to non-Japanese-nationals who have committed a crime. I WILL succeed next application in not complying with that illegal “Guideline”, since the LAW states that ALL residents with a family connection (spouses, children) who apply for Permanent Residency MUST be granted Permanent Residency REGARDLESS of crimes or poorness, since the LAW actually states, “Crimes and poorness can NOT be used to deny Permanent Residency to residents with a family connection.” I will receive my Permanent Residency without complying with that illegal MoJ “we CAN use crime to deny PR” illegal “Guideline”.

    So, on this hotel issue, if you want to take the stance that the LAW is the thing which must be followed by all (that is the stance you should take) simply print this LAW and push it into the face of any hotel clerk (and any police officer who arrives on the scene) because this LAW states that you must be given any available room, REGARDLESS of your “have an address in Japan / don’t have an address in Japan” status, and (gasp) REGARDLESS of whether a tourist allows the Passport Number to be written.


    第五条  営業者は、左の各号の一に該当する場合を除いては、宿泊を拒んではならない。
    一  宿泊しようとする者が伝染性の疾病にかかつていると明らかに認められるとき。
    二  宿泊しようとする者がとばく、その他の違法行為又は風紀を乱す行為をする虞があると認められるとき。
    三  宿泊施設に余裕がないときその他都道府県が条例で定める事由があるとき。

    Don’t bend over and comply with any illegal “Guidelines” which say the opposite of the LAWS.

    Know the laws, print the laws, show the laws.

    When the LAW-VIOLATING hotel-staff / city-workers / police-officers / immigration-officers pull out their illegal “Guidelines”, show the written LAWS written by elected LEGISLATORS and go into broken-record repeat mode of reading the written LAWS to them again and again until they finally lose the debate by admitting, “Tashkani, Nippon no Kokkaigin no Houritsu o Mamorenakereba Narimasen” “You’re right, laws legislated by Japan’s Legislators must be obeyed.”

    And in this case, the Law says non-dangerous humans can NOT be denied entry to a hotel with available rooms.

    And in addition to having that Law printed ready to show, also have printed and ready to show evidence of the hotel which got in trouble for refusing to obey that Law.


    In summary, the hotel “Guideline” does not apply to people with an address in Japan, and the hotel “Guideline” itself is illegal since it conflicts with the hotel LAW.

    And, even if one IS a tourist who wants to bend over and comply with that LAW-VIOLATING hotel “Guideline”, remember this:

    Tourists who want to comply with that only need to show the passport long enough for the PASSPORT NUMBER to be written (and for various other details to be written, depending on the prefecture, as Mumei #1 mentioned.)

    NOBODY, even tourists, should allow a photocopy or a scan to be made.

    So, shame on the Japanese speaking poster Loverilakkuma, for posting on this thread (twice!) that tourists need to allow a photocopy or a scan of their Passport. NOBODY needs to do that.

  • @Comment #3 – There really is no excuse for your posting that misinformation, that incorrect claim that Tourists need to:

    “produce any identification documents that provide your contact information (passport, NEW RESIDENCE CARD, or any picture ID in client’s home country) for SCAN and/or PHOTOCOPY(if necessary).”

    The following claims in comment #3 were dangerously (suspiciously, IMO) incorrect:
    “Let them scan/photocopy your Passport.”
    “Let them scan/photocopy in home country picture ID.”
    “The scan/photocopy might be necessary.”

    Do you want Identity Theft?
    Because that’s how you get Identity Theft.

    Plus, there is even a bigger problem here:

    The following claim in comment #3 is ABSURDLY, dangerously, (VERY suspiciously, IMO) incorrect:
    “Let them scan/photocopy your NEW RESIDENCE CARD.”

    Tourists don’t have Residence Cards.
    Only residents have Resident Cards.

    So it is absurd for comment #3 to have claimed:
    “Let them scan/photocopy your NEW RESIDENCE CARD, that might be necessary.”

    Comment #3 (by LoveRilakKuma) contained absurdly dangerously INCORRECT information.
    Comment #7 (by Mark in Yayoi) wisely CORRECTED LoveRilakKuma’s misinfo/disinfo attempt.
    Comment #8 (by LoveRilakKuma) then attempted to pretend that Mark in Yayoi was mistaken.

    In my opinion, a Japan-Excuse-Making & Japan-Law-Misinforming poster is a danger to Debito readers.

    Thankfully, since nobody knows the actual name of this online character, stating my opinion is not a case of libel.

    I can’t tell if comment #3 contained accidental misinformation or purposeful disinformation, either way, I see a pattern.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    @Loverilakkuma #8

    If you don’t have an address, we will ask you to show your photo ID for reference.”

    But there is no need for this. The customer can write down his passport number. That’s all he needs to do.

    In fact, at one of the little minshuku I often stay at, the guest register incorporates this as simply as possible: the field all the way at the end is (I forget the exact wording) 住所または旅券番号 (“address or passport number”), because guests will be writing down either one or the other, but never both.

    There is no situation in which a Residence Card would ever be used at a hotel. Same for some kind of non-passport ID from another country.

  • @Mark In Yayoi, comment #12: Yes, concisely put.

    Actually, I need to correct myself, even if one is a tourist wanting to comply with the (illegal, in my opinion) Hotel “Guideline”…

    …even then one does NOT need to actually show the passport, one simply needs to write down your passport number.

    The whole thing is on the honor system.

    So definitely NO to any posters who claimed copying/scanning of anything is needed.

    And even a little NO to me, since I wrongly assumed (and wrongly claimed) that tourists might need to SHOW the passport.

    Nope, even tourists don’t need to SHOW anything, even according to that Hotel “Guideline”.

    The “Guideline” merely says the Tourist’s passport number must be written. The customer does that writing on the check-in form, just as you said Mark In Yayoi.

    After the CUSTOMER has personally written either address-in-Japan or passport-number on the check-in form: you are now 100% in compliance with the hotel “Guideline”.

    Now, as a final note, what about if you are using a credit card? Do you have to show I.D. then?

    Well, it turns out that Japan operates on the honor system there too, no Japanese people are forced to show I.D. when paying by credit card.

    So yeah, simply write your address (or your passport number) and REFUSE to show any proof of who you are, since that rude request is NOT something which Japanese people are subjected to.

    And have the Hotel LAW (旅館業法) printed and ready in your pocket:

    to convince hotel staff (and even police officers they might call to the scene) that if they don’t allow you to enter the available room immediately the hotel that would be a LAW violation.

    The Hotel LAW violation, which “Prefectural Government planned to order the hotel to suspend business because of its actions” and resulted in “Tadao Eguchi, president of Aistar Co., operator of Ai-Ladies Kyuden Kurokawa Onsen Hotel in the popular Kurokawa Onsen hot spring resort” having to close the Hotel.


    I hope someone might post to this thread a Japanese language version of that newspaper article, because THAT would be a nice extra piece of paper to shove in the law violator’s face.

    “Hotel staff, you MUST simply believe what every customer writes down on this check-in form, Japan address or Passport number, and give the customer the room you have available, WITHOUT demanding to see any proof, WITHOUT threatening to not give the customer that available room, or else: you are breaking this Hotel 旅館業法 LAW (here is that evidence printed for you, in Japanese) and your hotel will be shut down (here is that evidence printed for you, in Japanese.) Officers, I’m glad you’re here, you are witnessing evidence that this Hotel staff is violating the Hotel 旅館業法 LAW.” 🙂

    — However, remember that the Kurosawa Onsen case went beyond domestic law (and its enforcement) and into the geopolitics of shame. Japan has a terrible record regarding its treatment of leprosy victims, refusing long after other developed countries to allow their patients to leave their compounds. Because of this, there is a heightened sensitivity towards former Hansen’s Disease patients that does not transfer over to NJ residents or tourists. Thus closing down the hotel was an official form of revenge for shaming Japan internationally.

    We have covered this issue before on Debito.org at:

    Japan’s hostile hosteling industry
    JUST BE CAUSE The Japan Times, Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    Also https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=Hansen's+site:debito.org

  • Anonymous (post #9), I apologize for being somewhat off topic, but when it comes to our residence card, it has been my understanding — mainly thanks to the information gathered from this website — that we indeed do not need to show our residence card to anyone but police and immigration officers. Plus, in the case of such requests to show the card to a police officer, there should be a valid reason for that (as you mention). However, in reality, when entering, for example, U.S. bases on “Friendship Day,” non-Asian people are routinely stopped carded (happened to me on different occasions, and to my foreign friends who are permanent residents of Japan). In that case, it is not even any Japanese government or other entity requesting th card, but U.S. military police or, as it once happened to me, a Japanese-speaking person wearing a T-shirt (civilian?) and jeans, monitoring the base gate! An American military police officer told me that I was required to show my resident card to this (civilian?) person.

    A coupl of months ago, I was shocked because a foreign airline staff at a counter in Hong Kong, and another one in Malaysia demanded that I show my resident card when cheking in. Without it, they said, they would not allow me to check in and fly back home to Japan (I’m a permanent resident of Japan, have lived here for many years, married to a Japanese national). Showing an official sticker in the passport was not enough. I wonder why foreign airline staff _overseas_ reserve the right to request to see the card that is supposed to be used only domestically–in Japan, and even in Japan it is not supposed to shown to any airline staff. I was wondering if there is any law or regulation that I could show overseas when check in counter staff harass me. A couple of months ago when I posted about this on this website, someone responded to me arguing that it’s a routine procedure and implied that I shouldn’t be upset. Well, why, if we are all getting frustrated when being singled out and profiled. To me, it’s even worse when random airline staff threaten to deny me boarding the flight that’s supposed to take me back home.

  • If the “guidelines” are so conflicting with “laws”, I wonder why nobody is going to court to fix them. Not possible in Japan?

  • The problem resides in the rather antiquated business model many hotels still have in Japan. For example, in many countries, it is required to book using a credit card, in order to cover the hotel from no-shows and potential damage costs. For clients without a credit card, additional guaranties are required (photo ID, cash deposit). (I have family working in the hospitality industry abroad).

  • My understanding is that since the new zairyu card system started, the immigration department is not updating visas in passports anymore. The latest official information about your period of stay in Japan is usually only listed in the zairyu card (unless it hasn’t changed). Therefore airlines will ask to look at the card before allowing you to board the plane. For me there is a clear purpose here – with hotels there is absolutely no reason for it.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @Mark in Yayoi, #12

    You’re right. People don’t have to show NRC since it’s required for those who intend to stay continuously in Japan for minimum 90 days. But the fact that informant for this blogpost had no choice but to show his/her NRC due to an unexpected circumstance still stands. We have no idea how much ignorance runs amok in hotel management regarding the interest of non-Japanese customers. It gives a reminder that the card is considered as a last resort(yes, “last resort”) And, hence, it’s in #3.

    Another reason is concern for credit card verification(if transaction is pending), but this could be very low possibility as Piglet(#16) mentions.

    Passport number is also sensitive personal information. I’m not sure that will make some people, either. But, it’s good alternative, and it’s still better than revealing sensitive information on classified ID. Ryokans and minpaku might have other options for paperwork. Other alternative will be to obtain an emergency contact especially if you are a tourist or visitor. It could be your friends or relatives living in Japan. You don’t get bothered to show your NRC or passport to just fill out the form.

    @ Anonymous

    I really don’t understand what you are trying to do. I will apologize if you get offended. Still, it’s unnecessary to throw language of accusation at me in such a coarse manner(#11). It’s not only baffling but getting obnoxious.

  • Here is something that I penned a few years ago, but I never published it.
    By the way, You can go to your local 消費生活センター (shouhi seikatsu senta-) and ask them to call the 全国旅館ホテル生活衛生同業組合連合会 (Zenkoku Ryoukan Hotel Seikatsu Eisei Dougyou Kumiai Rengoukai), which are in charge of hotel operations in Japan, if you are facing the carding-problem.

    Systemic bending of the law in Japan

    You all know jokes that start like this: Three men walk in a bar. The first one …
    Now, here is a new one: Three men walk into a hotel in Japan. The first one, a foreign tourist, walks up to the front, writes his foreign home address on the registration form, is asked for his passport, takes out his passport, has it photocopied, gets his keys, and goes off to sleep in his room.
    Next is a Japanese businessman. He walks up to the front, writes his home address on the registration form, gets his keys, and goes off to sleep in his room.
    Last, the long term foreign resident walks up to the front, writes his Japanese home address on the registration form, is asked for his residence card, refuses to show it, doesn’t get his keys, and goes off to sleep under a bridge.
    Ha, that was funny!
    Sorry, I lied to you. It’s not not a joke. It’s the sad truth.
    How many of you have been asked to have your residence card photocopied before you got your room key in Japanese hotels? Out of my roughly 20 times per year I stay at hotels in Japan, both in the metropolis as well as in the countryside, I’d say one third of the time I am asked that question. Extrapolating this to the entire number of foreign residents will give a couple of ten-thousand cases per year.
    I routinely answer: “This is not necessary. I know the Japanese law and I know that only persons without a permanent address in Japan have to provide their passport for photocopy. I have a permanent address.” (The 2005 ryokan gyouhou – the law that regulates hotels – amendment to article 6 states that persons with out without a permanent address in Japan have to provide their passport number. The copies of their passports have to be kept securely by the hotel.)
    Up to now, this was sufficient. But this autumn, things turned sour.
    “Then you cannot stay here.” was the stern reply of the hotel manager. My plea that all other hotels in the Meguro area were booked out that weekend did not help to change his mind. I was doomed to spend a night on the streets of Tokyo, or find a most likely overpriced alternative. How many hours would that take? How much would that cost me, in addition to the hotel fees I had to spend anyway, because I broke the contract with my original Meguro hotel on the day of my arrival? I was confused, angry and disappointed. But I was determined not to buckle. I know my rights, and I stand by them.
    “I just carry out the orders I was given, when we received the permit to operate our business.” was his only defense. He stonewalled my repeated questions about who ordered him. This went on for quite some time, until a Japanese acquaintance came to the front. After an additional ten minutes of his help, I finally got my room key.
    The whole situation raises at least three important questions.
    First, how does the hotel clerk know that resident foreigners carry a residence card? This fact is virtually unknown in the normal Japanese population.
    Second, how comes the same clerk does not know the law that is closest to his profession, the ryokan gyouhou?
    Third, who told him in so unmistaken terms that he has to get a copy of the residence card, even at the cost of leaving a business traveler stranded on the road?
    The first two questions don’t square. Together with the third one, this leaves only one possible answer:
    There is an agency in Japan with enough power to force usually law abiding hotel owners and managers into bending the same.
    Who are they? Who would be interested in such vast amounts of information (take the time and look at your card. Did you realize what is written on it)? Is this a test to see how much resistance they are expecting from foreigners? Will the erosion of laws for foreigners in Japan lead to an erosion of laws for Japanese, once they see that it is do-able?’

  • @All – Here is the Guideline which this thread is discussing, thank you to Mumei for posting it:


    第四条の二  法第六条第一項 に規定する宿泊者名簿に記載すべき事項は、宿泊者の氏名、住所及び職業のほか、次に掲げる事項とする。
    一  宿泊者が日本国内に住所を有しない外国人であるときは、その国籍及び旅券番号
    二  その他都道府県知事が必要と認める事項

    The Guideline does NOT require Tourists Passports to be copied: only the NUMBER must be written.

    So here we have been, for almost 11 YEARS now, saying, “We non-tourists don’t need to give a copy of anything, but TOURISTS must give a COPY of their passports!”


    The correct statement we should have been spreading from day one is:

    This 2005 Hotel Guideline (which conflicts with the Hotel Law) states that Non-Japanese-Citizens without an address in Japan must give their passport NUMBER when checking in.

    “But, but, that piece of paper which the MHLW sent to Hotels like Shizuoka Hotel (http://www.debito.org/japantimes101805.html) claimed the Guideline states that Passports must be copied! See there, in that little Japanese paragraph at the top. It says Ko-Pi-!”

    Oh, you dear sweet children.

    I hope your heads don’t explode when I tell you:

    That piece of paper is not stating what the Guideline states.
    That piece of paper is not what you want to be waiving around.

    I myself was fooled by that piece of paper until very recently.
    I myself was foolishly suggesting folks print that silly paper.

    What you want a copy in your pocket of is the actual Guideline itself.

    “But, but, that means some Oyaji working at the MHLW simply added that ‘COPY’ fantasy on his own accord?”

    Yes, that is exactly what happened.

    Please look at the Guideline again and again.

    The Hotel which Mark in Yayoi mentioned is obeying the Guideline.

    Write your address in Japan here, or, write your passport number there. No copying required.

    “But, but, that admittedly unofficial non-hanko’ed piece of paper seemed like a godsend, because it admitted that the Guideline only applies to non-Japanese-citizens residing in Japan WITHOUT addresses. That’s why we folks here WITH addresses fell in love with that piece of paper.”

    Yes, the reason why we all messed up, by not actually searching out the ACTUAL Guideline to read and print out, is because that un-official paper threw us folks WITH addresses a little bone of truth which let US off the hook, so we didn’t feel the need to read the Guideline itself to see if TOURISTS actually are indeed required to give a copy or not.”

    “But, but, some mainstream newspaper articles said that the Guideline said that copies were required…”

    Those writers either accidentally fell for the same trap (of simply regurgitating some unofficial un-hanko’ed fax from the desk of some Oyaji in charge of sending out press release style propaganda to media outlets and hotels, lying about the actual Guideline by adding their fantasies of what the Oyajis in that division WISHED the Guideline said) or those writers purposefully lied for whatever reason.

    As Robert DeNiro said in Casino, “That action proves either stupidity or maliciousness, I can’t allow either.”


    First the Hotel LAW states that Hotels can NOT refuse folks unless the customer has a deadly disease which is easily passable.

    Then some un-elected MHLW officials wrote a guideline which said, “Hotels must ask for the NUMBER of the passport of all tourists.”

    And thus began the assumption (but never stated directly in the guideline) that if you are a tourist who refuses to share the passport NUMBER, then somehow the LAW explicitly forbidding Hotel Room Denial gets trumped by this lower guideline.

    And thus began the assumption that hotel owners can legally deny rooms to tourists who don’t write down their Passport NUMBER.

    That’s the thing I’m usually complaining about, about how the Guidelines violate the LAWS.

    But then an extra layer of wrongness was added to the mix, which hasn’t been discussed yet, and that is the purpose of this post, to share this discovery:

    The MHLW released an un-hanko’ed piece of paper in which COPYING the passport was suddenly added as a CLAIMED requirement (claimed merely by whoever wrote that un-official fax, notice no name of the Minister at the bottom, notice no Hanko, all official proclamations must have a Hanko, every official letter from even the local city office must have the Mayor’s Hanko to be official, everything else is just an unofficial essay by a power-tripping lower city worker.)

    The result, which I just realized right now, is that good folks like Debito and Olaf and almost EVERY intelligent Debito reader (even myself) is that we all believed that piece of paper was telling the truth about what the Guideline said.

    What sparked my to finally read the Guideline itself which Mumei posted, was Olaf’s description of the (merely imagined) part of the Guideline stating that the COPIES being kept in a secure location.

    I went and read the whole Guideline, and it does NOT talk about secure locations, because… the Guideline does NOT talk about COPIES.

    So, ALL of us were accidentally fooled by that MHLW fax, and by mainstream regurgitations of that fax, and the net result is that 11 years later high-level long-term top-activists of Japan are still honestly thinking and claiming, “We residents don’t need to show anything, but those TOURISTS need to give COPIES of their passports.”

    This reminds me of the similar situation, in which for about 20 years folks forgot to actually read the actual ARC LAW in Japanese with the lawyer-mind turned on.

    The ARC LAW (actually the Immigration Law) always stated that the Alien Registration Card must be carried (yes) and shown: to police WHEN THEY ARE ACTING WITHIN THE CONFINES OF THE POLICE DUTIES LAW.

    I was forced to play the role of the child in the Emperor Wears No Clothes, to announce as loudly as needed, “Hey, the Police Duties Laws are quite limiting, they require probable cause to believe involvement of (or knowledge of) a crime! Since their duty is to investigate crime. That’s it! Not street immigration patrol of folks walking while black or walking while white. Police Officers can’t act on non-hanko’ed anonymous claims, and the police can’t initiate police questioning without probable cause to believe involvement of (or knowledge of) a crime. The Police Duties Laws don’t allow the police to do ANYTHING but investigate CRIMES they see evidence of or receive sworn hanko’ed statements about.”

    People initially tried to mentally EXPAND the Police Duties Law, by imagining that it said, “Investigate Crimes, AND do other things too, whatever you feel is best for Japan, you don’t have to limit yourself to investigating crimes, you can also do other things too, and those other things don’t need to be included in the Police Duties Laws.”

    For example, some said, “But, but, Police sometimes spend their on-the-clock hours rescuing kitties, and THAT isn’t listed as one of the Police Duties, what about that?”

    That’s a violation of Police Duties Law.

    “But, but, Police often do MASS stopping and questioning of people without probable cause of any crimes, they call it “Looking for Drunks” even though they don’t limit themselves to people driving erratically. They stop people and question them without having seen ANY probable cause of a crime, and they do it to mass amounts of people, literally stopping and questioning every normally driving driver, what about that?”

    That’s a violation of Police Duties Law.

    “But, but, I love kitties, and I hate when folks are killed by drunk drivers, so aren’t these GOOD-HEARTED Police Actions which benefit society?”

    Still violations of Police Duties Law.

    The Immigration Law limiting qualifier was a vital discovery which led to the realization that the Police Duties Laws require probable cause of a crime before ANY police questioning, regardless of the color of your skin.

    So yes, I’m patting myself on the back for bringing that vital limiting qualifier, and yes I’m scolding us for having accidentally told folks for decades that the most we can do is say, “OK, I’ll show you my card, but you have to show me your police card first.”

    We should have been talking about the Immigration ARC Law demanding Police Duties Law Dai-Ni-Jou from day one.

    But OK, the past is past, let’s focus on the present.

    Let’s come back to the point of this post, about the fact that the guideline does NOT require copies from tourists.

    “So you’re saying tourists have been fooled into giving up COPIES for 11 years now even though there is neither LAW NOR GUIDELINE requiring COPIES?”


    “And you’re saying residents not seen committing any action giving reasonable suspicion of a crime have been fooled into showing their AlienRegistrationCards/ZairyuCards for 20 years now even though there the LAWS state that the card need only be shown in official Shokumu Shitsumon situations with probable cause of a crime before the stop?”


    “So what? Those little mistakes were unintentional, we have been fighting the good fight, we simply didn’t focus on the Laws deep enough to notice such things. Have any tourists been hurt by us telling tourists they MUST allow their passports to be copied by hotels? Have any non-crime-committing residents been hurt by us telling residents they MUST allow their resident cards to be looked at by police officers?”

    A few folks have undoubtedly have been hurt by such incorrect “MUST” claims we have accidentally made over the years.

    But the GRAND problem is that those 2 tiny little myths which we innocently helped spread have helped set DANGEROUS precedents, in hotels and on the streets.

    It is the millions of tourists who needlessly COMPLIED with the “Guideline demands passport-copy” MYTH, which has emboldened hotel owners into thinking, based on experience, that copies MUST be agreed to by all tourists.

    It is the millions of residents who needlessly COMPLIED with the “Law demands card-showing” MYTH, which has emboldened police officers into thinking, based on experience, that cards MUST be shown by all residents.

    So, I’m going to finish with the following summary:

    Don’t merely blindly believe ANY un-official fax from ANY Ministry putting their un-official spin on what a Guideline states.

    Don’t even blindly believe ANY commentators putting their un-official spins on what Guidelines or Laws state, even if the commentator works for some newspaper, even if the commentator is an opinionated lawyer claiming to be on your side, even if the commentator is someone we love like Debito, and of course don’t blindly believe ME either!

    Read the actual United Nations Treaties, and print THEM.

    Read the actual Constitutional Laws of Japan, and print THEM.

    Read the actual Legislated Laws of Japan, and print THEM.

    Read the actual Legislated PR Laws of Japan, and print THEM.

    Read the actual Legislated Immigration Laws, and print THEM.

    Read the actual Legislated Police Duties Laws, and print THEM.

    Read the actual Legislated Hotel Laws, and print THEM.

    And if you want to obey lower automatically void-whenever-conflicting Guidelines:

    Read the actual Guidelines, and print THEM… instead of the Ministries’ Lying Press Releases.

    And when attempting to scare Law-Violators into obeying the Law, show them the HIGHEST Laws first.

    The Hotel Law is what you should be forcing Hotel-Law-Violating-Staff-And=Owners-And-Police to read first, because that will scare them the most, and then, if they bring up the “Guideline requires passport-copy” myth, then make them read the Hotel Guideline which does NOT require copying, even for tourists. The copy myth began with an un-official fax which we should NOT be proudly waiving around anymore, since it is lying about the COPY claim.

    — And if there could ever be a way for you to say all this more concisely, I’m sure it would be welcomed by many readers, myself included.

  • Richard Parker says:

    Since both Koreans and Japanese dislike being told they’re so similar (not in appearance, but in their attitudes to things like, foreigners wanting to be treated in the same way as locals), here is an article on discrimination suffered by foreigners in South Korea. The familiar places: restaurants, saunas and the like. And excuses they might well have cribbed from their Japanese friends. “Only Koreans are allowed because our employees are not able to communicate in English.”

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    Rilakkuma, I hate to be harsh, but the top of your post #3 says:

    A 4-quick-and-easy-step for hotel receptionist to serve for non-Japanese client at Japanese hotel

    This is not the same as “steps for travelers to take when hotels make illegal demands for the display of personal identity documents”, in which case showing a resident card might be a “last resort” — or, to call things honestly, “total capitulation to an illegal demand”.

    There is no reason to create a “non-Japanese client” category in any aspect of hotel paperwork. There are only two kinds of customers: people in general (regardless of nationality) and people who (1) lack addresses in Japan AND (2) have foreign nationality. That’s it. There isn’t even a reason to ask a customer whether s/he lives in Japan, because what the customer writes in the “address” field will make that perfectly clear. Sometimes they ask anyway; I feel the urge to respond, “Well, I don’t think 東京都文京区弥生 was annexed by a foreign power any time recently, so yes, my address is in Japan.”

    It is tempting for the exhausted traveler to ignore the blatant violation of the law and just show them the Zairyū Card or even allow it to be copied. The odds are very small that anything bad will happen… this time. How about after staying in several dozen hotels over the years as you travel to sell your products, or attend academic conferences, or live any kind of life that has you on the road often? Do you trust every employee how ever has access to your personal information, now and in the future?

    And this is where the insidiousness of sneaking Zairyū Card holders in with tourists really becomes a problem. Could you steal someone’s identity, or open a bank account in their name, with just a passport number? Scammers are very innovative but I can’t see much they can do with that.

    Now how about a photocopy or scan of a Zairyū Card? Even the most unsophisticated of criminals can hand-write a new address for “you” on the copy of the back side, re-copy that, and then mail that off to a bank or brokerage and open an account, and guess who the tax bill will eventually come to? Good luck dealing with the National Tax Agency.

    And if you’re a swindler looking to do something like this and you’re employed by a hotel, who are your easiest targets? Not the Japanese-looking, Japanese-speaking travelers who just write their addresses down. Noe even the tourists who write their passport numbers and possibly offer them for copying. No, the goldmine is the photocopy of domestic identification, which has all kinds of use inside Japan, and which only a tiny percentage of the guests will be submitting. As a guest, if you’re forced into that small group, you’ve got a target on your back.

    Probably not at the hotel you’re staying at today. Or tomorrow, or next summer. It’s like driving a car without a seat belt. You’re probably pretty safe… until you aren’t.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @Mark in Yayoi, #22

    Right. ‘4-step’ (or whatever instruction you name) is the guidance based on the perspective of hotel employer–not from travelers. It’s not gonna be identical. That’s why there’s always conflict of interest between the two.

    The common mistake hotels tend to make is that they directly go to #3 by skipping #2. That is a patent case of slacking operation.

    There’s nothing wrong in asking verbally(and writing, as well) “Do you have an address(or an emergency contact) in Japan? If you don’t, please write down your foreign address in the form(or traveling information if allowed). In case of that, we may ask you to show a photo ID for verification.”

    If you still have an issue with that, well, you are demanding change of the status quo on the law itself, more than practice of operation reflecting on the law.

    I cannot speak for hotel, but the staff could avoid the worst situation with more specific instruction in case of step #3(ID verification).


    If a hotel has an ID policy on credit card transaction for prevention of fraud, the staff might ask any photo ID for pending transaction on reservation. That is reasonable, as long as such policy is applied to all customers–regardless of nationality, race, ethnicity, etc. Otherwise, that’s going to be another issue for secret practice of racial profiling.

    I agree with you on scan and photocopy. Come to think of it, that is the most contentious issue. Is it appropriate for hotel to photocopy ID document(i.e., NRC, passport, driver’s license) for those who plan to stay temporarily–not those who are being hired? Probably not unless they are notified specifically by the authority. That’s definitely what needs to be in conversation for Hotel &Travel Lodging Business Law.

    — I think it’s time for me to weigh in here for clarity. If hotels are asking EVERYONE the question about contacts (above and beyond the standard fill-in form at check-in) or for some form of ID, then fine. If hotels are not, then under what criteria do they and do they not? If it is based solely on whether the customer “looks foreign”, then that is the very definition of racial profiling.

    Because in Japan hotels asking EVERYONE for the same information beyond the fill-in form is socially undesirable (and therefore generally not done), then establishing a two-tiered system based upon the suspected “foreignness” of the customer is not permissible in Debito.org’s view.

    Enforce the rules universally. Or not at all. And don’t fall for the police demand that all foreigners must be carded (let alone photocopied carded), for it is not only racial profiling, it is unlawful. That is Debito.org’s stance. As it has always been.

  • Alex, thank you for responding to my post. Airlines, however, I think, should have no business checking a card that is intended for “kokunai” use only. If hotels and other enterprises inside Japan aren’t allowed to have a look, so shouldn’t foreign airlines either. Showing a passport should be sufficient because the airlines do know that EU citizens (and many other nationalities) are allowed to enter Japan without a visa anyway. My passport gives me the right to come and stay in Japan for 3 months without having secured a visa beforehand, so it is irrelevant whether I have a resident card or not.

  • Mark – this is an interesting predicament. If the passport can no longer be trusted to show latest visa status, but someone is from a visa waiver country, you’re right that should be enough. But what if the flight to Japan is a return leg (like it usually would be for a resident of Japan)? That may complicate admissibility for the temporary visitor category (which they have to assume you will use if you refuse to show your visa status in NRC).

    Technically the Japan immigration bureau says nothing about requiring a return ticket for visa waiver, but at least the embassies “strongly recommend it” (source: UK Japanese embassy homepage). I imagine the airlines are checking to avoid getting in trouble if you were not admitted in the above case.

    Not to say it’s right – but I’m not sure if I can confidently show anything to the airline to let me on board, which is very different from the hotel case. I suppose you can choose to vote with your feet and not fly.

  • Alright, from now on I will make my posts more concise:

    Comment #3 posts “help” guide for hotel staff to use, which contains racist and incorrect advice:

    “for non-Japanese client”
    “show your photo ID”
    “New Residence Card”
    “picture ID in client’s home country”
    “scan and/or photocopy”

    Comments #7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 20, 22 state that such racist incorrect advice is dangerously wrong.

    The same poster who posted Comment #3 continuously refuses (in Comments #8, 18, 23) to admit and apologize.

    The correct, non-racist, hotel guide should say, “Write your address here, or write your passport number there.”

    The End.

    — Thank you. There really is no need, for example, for several identical sentences in a row with only one word changed. Enough on style. Back on track.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    Anonymous, #26

    I don’t run hotel business. I don’t have moral obligation to “admit and apologize” for language—with the exception for an issue over NRC/passport and doxxing(scan/photocopy).

    If you think I brought this up for malicious intent(#11), you’re wrong. No matter what and how you feel about words, hotels are entitled to do this kind of notorious ID checking since they were given an instruction to NJ travelers as of April 2005. Because of current legal loopholes between Foreign Registration Law and Hotel/Management Law, this kind of IDing often goes too far.

    Under current condition of law, the best Japanese hotels can do is to avoid the worst mistake(i.e., asking passport/NRC first, judging based on what customer looks like). If they don’t mind asking “EVERYONE for the same information beyond the fill-in form,” even though it is “socially undesirable”(as Debito says), that will be great. Yet, it’s less likely the case for many hotels unless they have some kind of emerging issue like credit card fraud/ID theft.

    If travelers(regardless of Japanese and NJ) write down Japanese address/emergency contact, that’s it. Move on. Don’t stop and ask for ID. Check the reservation and see if transaction is completed. If it’s done, give him/her a key/card and direction. Thank you, enjoy your stay.

    I kindly accept constructive criticism but not an accusation containing a crude and obnoxious language from anyone. You will not badger me at my door.

  • Having been asked for my Japan resident’s card (zairyu card) by JAL staff at the check-in counter at Haneda and again upon my return flight from China, I was disturbed at how there seem to be no clear guidelines on who has the authority to demand to see zairyu cards. So I called the Immigration Information Center number listed on this page http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_1/en/q-and-a.html

    A staffer there said it wasn’t a legal problem for people who are not police or immigration officers to demand to see the card, but couldn’t answer clearly when asked who has the authority to demand it.

    Has anyone gotten any clear answers on this? Thanks.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    @Loverilakkuma #22 & 25

    In case of [not having an address in Japan], we may ask you to show a photo ID for verification.”

    If you still have an issue with that, well, you are demanding change of the status quo on the law itself, more than practice of operation reflecting on the law.

    But this is not what the law demands of them.

    hotels are entitled to do this kind of notorious ID checking since they were given an instruction to NJ travelers as of April 2005.

    This is the crux of where you are mistaken.

    There were no instructions to “NJ travelers”. There is no concept of “NJ” to a hotel owner. There is only one special class of traveler (someone with no domestic address who also does not have Japanese nationality) and that person must only write a passport number. He does not have to show any papers (and if he did, the only one that could be demanded would be the passport), or submit anything for copying. The law directs hotels only to get one certain class of traveler to write passport numbers down, and nothing else. The exact text of the law has been posted in this thread, so please refer to it.

  • Me too. I would like to learn more about this check by the airline companies. Why do they check it? Is there an official guideline or law for it?

  • Betty Boop says:

    My really BIG problem with all this copying is what do they do with the mountains of copies? When my family was visiting one hotel asked for copies for “our period of stay. ” this was stated on the check in. As we checked out I asked for those copies back. After much discussion and sucking of teeth the copies were returned. Clearly we were probably the first to ask for them back after our “period of stay.” I really want to know what happens to all those copies. Identity theft anyone? Especially if they are tossed with the trash.

  • I did a bit of digging and I found the source of the residence card checks by airlines. It is coming from IATA Timatic – which according to Wikipedia is an official database shared by the airlines containing cross border passenger documentation requirements (presumably collected from each country).

    You can check the Japan “country information” yourself at: https://www.olympicair.com/en/Info/Timatic
    A number of airline websites seem to offer access to this database. Seems this site only works with Internet Explorer.

    Among other things written in this database about Japan:

    – Tourists visiting Japan need onward travel documents. Those who don’t have them may be refused entry.
    – Residents of Japan need a “re-entry permit, when returning to Japan”. If you don’t have a re-entry permit, you need “a permanent resident card issued by Japan” or a “Special Permanent Residence Certificate”. The terms are a bit off but we can guess what cards they are talking about.

    So there you have it, carding NJ overseas is officially baked into the airline rulebook. Whether or not Japan officially condones this I have no idea. But one indication may come from the Japan Immigration Bureau homepage. There, in the extensive FAQ, Question #170, the bureau appears to allude to the practice:

    Q170 : What should I do when I leave Japan under the Special Re-entry Permit system and then have
    lost the residence card overseas?

    A. At the re-entry under the Special Re-entry Permit, possession of residence card is
    not required, so if you have lost residence card while you are abroad, it is possible to
    re-enter under the Special Re-entry Permit is possible. Please make application for
    reissuance at the competent Regional Immigration Bureau soon after re-entry.
    In case you have lost your passport or residence card while you are outside Japan, and
    it is expected to prove your resident status in Japan at the check-in procedure of the
    airplane to go back to Japan, you can obtain proof of the expiry date of the re-entry
    permission at the competent Regional Immigration Bureau through a representative.”

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @Mark, #29

    Don’t underestimate the loopholes caught between the two laws. What I mean “specific instruction” is applying the concept of IDing specific persons to their own business. That’s what hotels were urged to do at the time when Foreign Registration Law was about to be introduced. They were impacted by language of powerful police enforcement. That diminished their understanding of pre-existing travel law.

    And don’t forget the power of language in the Foreign Registration Law. It is the book of discipline that describes rights and entitlements given to police authority and what cannot be done as “exception.” As you know, language of the law indeed encourages its practitioners to target specific persons as “ordinary practice” of their duty, and this has a significant impact on their assumptions on NJ.

  • alex ‘#32

    “..So there you have it, carding NJ overseas is officially baked into the airline rulebook..”

    That is the de-facto way that Japan “polices” everything related to foreigners here. Write a procedure/task/etc into any workers terms and conditions and scope of work….ask for their ID card…and then if they refuse, refuse them the service that is being provided. So they become the police by the back door. Great. Yet if one tries to enquiry further with said company providing service, for written proof that they have been granted legal status and authority by the police to act as immigration officers etc….aahhh….that’s when the fun and games start. all over again.

    This should be highlighted more…yet it is not. Which is why showing ones ID is “assumed” acceptable by every staff member of any service providing company sadly. It is written in the book..i must ask you and refusal means no service!!!

  • Citation needed for comment #33, because:

    “To be acting within the Police Duties Law: a police officer must first have reasonable suspicion of a crime, before initiating questioning.” Read the Police Duties Law, Article 2.

    警察官職務執行法 第二条 警察官は、異常な挙動その他周囲の事情から合理的に判断して何らかの犯罪を犯し、若しくは犯そうとしていると疑うに足りる相当な理由のある者又は既に行われた犯罪について若しくは犯罪が行われようとしていることについて知つていると認められる者を停止させて質問することができる。


    “When a police officer is acting within the Police Duties Law (which requires first having reasonable suspicion of a crime, before initiating questioning)” then (when the vital 職務の執行に当たり職員 qualifier is met) you must show the Zairyu Card in that case.

    That vital 職務の執行に当たり職員 qualifier was placed by the legislators within the Immigration Control Law, Article 23.2

    出入国管理及び難民認定法 第二十三条


    Non-Legislators (such as Ministry Ministers, Police Officers, and certain commenters) would like Non-Japanese-Citizens to keep assuming an imaginary shorter version WITHOUT that vital qualifier, which would look like this:

    出入国管理及び難民認定法 第二十三条

    Even Joe Jones publicly reported his first-hand eyewitness account of a police officer admitting that it is in fact legal to NOT complying with the police officer’s Shukumu Shitsumon Police Questioning “show ID” request:

    “The cop said ‘Do you know what shokumu-shitsumon means?’ I nodded. He said ‘This is just shokumu-shitsumon. Technically speaking, it [agreeing to comply with Legal Shokumu Shitsumon with probable cause of a crime, and agreeing to comply with Illegal Shokumu Shitsumon WITHOUT probable cause of a crime] is totally voluntary.’”


    And http://www.debito.org/?p=12237#comment-436612
    And http://www.debito.org/?p=12138#comment-433873
    And http://www.debito.org/?p=12237#comment-436619

    Thus, citation needed for comment #33’s claim about Immigration Laws and Police Duties Laws:

    “As you know, language of the law indeed encourages its practitioners to target specific persons as ‘ordinary practice’ of their duty…”

    Without a proper citation backing up your claim that the “law encourages targeting specific persons”, it seems you have once again (without admitting, without apologizing) posted another incorrect statement about Laws, here on Debito’s Human Rights Laws Protection Site.

    — Alright, I think this conversation has said just about all that has to be said. We’ve gotten the text of the law out, we’ve gotten Debito.org’s stance on how the laws and directives should be enforced. We’ve had the discussion about whether hotels have a mandate to be more thorough in ID checks. Now it’s getting down to impugning motives of posters (which were in deleted comments). We’ll draw the conversation on this topic to a close here. Thanks for everyone’s input.

  • just on the no j visa status in passport issue –
    if you have the automatic gate stamp in your passport this shows visa expiry and airlines have always accepted this from me.

  • I am a Canadian national with Japanese PR and I work part-time at the front desk of a business hotel in Tokyo. When making a booking on Rakuten, booking.com etc. the guest must enter an address. Based on this address, we ask the guest for her/his passport when she/he is living outside Japan. This applies to Japanese nationals as well, when a Japanese national living outside of Japan checks in, we must make a copy of her/his passport. Also, when checking in for more than 7 days, a copy of an ID is required, this applies to people living in Japan as well.

    I understand that the author feels he has been discriminated against but I have to put up with a lot of discrimination when I’m behind the counter. Some Japanese guests won’t even talk to or look at me(I’m caucasian). No matter what I say they will always look at and answer to my Japanese colleagues. I will soon move to a hotel where the majority of the guests are tourists from abroad. Chinese tourists may have a bad rap but I can tell you that they are much nicer to me than Japanese guests.

    — Quite a confused post, one that doesn’t demonstrate a grasp of the issues being raised here (in his confusing rush to go Ad Hominem while claiming victim status).

    The issue here is that anyone who does not have an address in Japan may be asked for ID. That would also apply to Japanese nationals who do not have addresses in Japan. If anyone does have an address in Japan, that ID is not required. If that rule is not followed, and especially because (expressly under police guidelines) a person is “foreign” as determined on sight, that is by definition racial profiling.

    (That’s even BEFORE the issue of any alleged legal requirement for copying passports.)

    Thank you for your insights regarding how hotels use ID through bookings. Now read up on how hotels are also being told to racially profile.

  • With all the “address in Japan” requirements, how does this apply to me?

    British citizen
    Japanese wife and children
    Living outside of Japan
    Maintain a house in Tokyo, which I own and live in when visiting
    Get a 90 day tourist visa every time I visit – normally four times a year.

    When I stay in a hotel in Japan, can they ask for my passport number? I don’t have a alien registration card any more, I handed it in when I left Japan. I do have any address in Japan, but an non-resident in Japan.

    When I visited Hakone last month, they asked to see/copy my passport at the onset.

    — If you have an address in Japan, you do not have to show ID. Write the address on the check-in slip when you check in and that should suffice.


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