Yomiuri: GOJ revising NJ registry and Gaijin Card system: More policing powers, yet no clear NJ “resident” status



Hi Blog. Comment follows article.

Ministry plans to strengthen visa system / Plan includes 5-year stay extension
The Yomiuri Shimbun Mar. 21, 2008
Courtesy of Jeff Korpa

The Justice Ministry intends to extend the current period of stay issued for foreigners from a maximum of three years to up to five years, based on the recommendation of a government panel on immigration control policies, sources said Thursday.

The panel, which has been discussing ways to improve the system for foreign residents, will submit to Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama within this month the proposals aiming to boost convenience for foreigners living in Japan lawfully as well as strengthening measures against foreigners who overstay their visas, according to the sources.

The ministry will present to an ordinary Diet session in 2009 related bills to revise the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, the sources said.

The main pillars of the proposals will be:

— Issuing a new “foreign resident’s card” by the Immigration Bureau and abolishing foreign resident’s registration cards issued by ward, city, town and village governments.

— Requiring foreigners to report to the justice minister any changes in their places of work during their stay in Japan and other personal information.

— Requiring organizations that accept foreigners as students or trainees to report how they study or undergo training programs.

The measures are aimed at unifying and tightening government management on the control on foreign residents as well as enhancing the convenience for foreigners living in the nation lawfully, the sources said.

With the enactment of the revised Employment Measures Law in October, companies hiring foreigners are required to report to job-placement offices their names, visa statuses and other personal information.

With the panel’s recommendation the ministry intends to widen this mandatory reporting to other organizations, including universities, the sources said.

The duration of stay for foreign nationals is determined according to visa status. For example, one or three years are allowed as the duration of stay for a foreign national with the visa status of a spouse of a Japanese or of an intracompany transferee. At first, the duration of stay is one year. But if the person has no problems after this first year, it is common for the duration of stay to be extended to three years.

If the duration of stay is extended up to five years as the envisioned system suggests, renewal procedure burdens over the duration of stay would be lessened for long-stay foreign residents with Japanese spouses.

There were about 2.09 million foreign nationals with alien registrations in Japan as of Dec. 31. Of them, those subject to the envisioned system will include permanent residents (about 780,000 people), spouses of Japanese and intracompany transferees.

The envisioned system will exclude about 440,000 special permanent residents such as ethnic Korean residents in Japan. It also will exclude temporary visitors who are allowed to stay a maximum of 90 days, as well as diplomats and officials.

In response to an increase in the number of illegally overstaying foreigners, the panel set up in February last year a special committee to examine a new resident entry system for foreign nationals living in Japan, under which members conduct hearings with officials at the local municipalities, the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.

(Mar. 21, 2008)

COMMENT: Don’t know what to make of this policy revision yet. On one hand, we have the abolition of the old Gaijin Card and Registry system, in place since shortly after WWII to police foreigners, and registry more akin (they say) to to the current Family Registry system we have for Japanese citizens (in case you don’t know, NJ are “invisible residents”, as Japan is the only country I know of that requires citizenship to register people as juumin “residents” (cf. the juuminhyou mondai)). It also will extend the legitimacy of the former “Gaijin Cards” (which all NJ must carry 24-7 or face arrest) from three years to five. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that this measure, despite claims that it will make life “more convenient” for NJ living in Japan, is mainly a further policing measure. Registration will be centralized in the police forces (not the local municipalities any more), the replacement Cards will have more biometric data and tracking capability (RFID, anyone?), and the cards, as labelled, are rhetorically old wine in new bottles. Despite the translation of “foreigner residents’ card” below, the “zairyuu kaado”, as it’s called in the original Japanese, are not “zaijuu” cards (indicating residency with juumin no juu), rather “zairyuu” (ryuugakusei no ryuu), indicating merely a stay here from overseas.

How nice. We still have to get beyond seeing NJ in Japan as “not really residents”, and all our protestations thus far clearly have not sunk yet in with policymakers at the national level. Arudou Debito

8 comments on “Yomiuri: GOJ revising NJ registry and Gaijin Card system: More policing powers, yet no clear NJ “resident” status

  • What I find interesting is the the Yomiuri does believe “journalism” requires them to ask a foreign residents’ group for their opinion.

  • “In response to an [b]increase[/b] in the number of illegally overstaying foreigners”

    But, from an article only a few weeks ago…

    “while 10,047 cases were violations of special law, such as immigrant control and refugee recognition act, [b]down 20.7 percent[/b], according to the NPA.”

    If you repeat something often enough, the truth doesn’t even matter.

    –Quite. Overstayers have gone down every year since 1993, in fact. See http://www.debito.org/crimestats.html. Fifteen years later, it’s a pretty longstanding lie… (PS: Send us a link to the article?). Debito

  • the replacement Cards will have more biometric data and tracking capability (RFID, anyone?)

    Didn’t see anything that referred to tracking systems in the article… are there any specifics in any articles?

    Not, of course, that I doubt that some such measure will be added… a normal “smart card” type of chip is, while disagreeable, not so bad considering it can only be read by a contact reader (i.e. keep it in your wallet in some sort of cover and you don’t have to worry about your data getting lifted). An RFID chip — which can be read remotely — is a whole different can of beans, though. There is no way in hell I will be carrying one of those.

  • As a (non-special) permanent resident, I don’t think my employers currently have any administrative burden to keep me employed. My paperwork is the same as any Japanese citizen, since there are no restrictions on my employment.

    If this new rule requires tracking of my employment, I fear it will significantly limit my employment opportunities. Red tape is, in and of itself, a reason for many employers to decide it’s not worth hiring a foreigner.

    Why on earth does the government need to track the employment status of residents who have no work restrictions?

  • Hi Debito,

    don’t know how to mail to you, so I thought I’d use this forum to communicate.

    If you check out this story that appeared in the April 6th edition of the DY you’ll see the usual JGov casually whipping up hysteria against foreigners.


    It’s about a British investment fund that is seeking to increase its stake in a Japanese nuclear power company.

    >Government officials also are concerned that TCI’s increased presence in J-Power could shake
    >the foundation of the country’s energy plans, including its nuclear fuel cycle plans at nuclear
    >power stations, and eventually make it difficult to maintain public order in the country, the
    >sources said.

    I love the ‘public order’ issue. Nasty foreigners, stirring up trouble! Why doesn’t JGov do what other governments do and mandate a certain level of investment for J-Power?

    E.P. Lowe

    Govt to nix U.K. fund’s bid to up J-Power stake
    The Yomiuri Shimbun

    The government plans to reject a British investment fund’s request to increase its stake in Electric Power Development Co., Japan’s largest electricity wholesaler, known as J-Power, sources said.

    After seeking opinions from experts at the Finance Ministry’s Council on Customs, Tariff, Foreign Exchange and Other Transactions next Friday, the government is expected to recommend British investment group The Children’s Investment Master Fund (TCI) either modify or withdraw its plan by mid-June, according to the sources.

    It will be the first time a council meeting is held over regulations on a foreign investor’s stock acquisition in a Japanese firm.

    If TCI refuses to follow the government’s recommendation, the government will be able to order the firm to either alter or withdraw its plan.

    The British investment fund, which currently has a 9.9 percent stake in J-Power, reportedly plans to raise its stake up to as much as 20 percent.

    The Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law mandates that a foreign investor must gain authorization to buy a stake of 10 percent or more in a Japanese company in government-designated business fields that are closely linked with national security and public order, such as electricity and gas. Accordingly, TCI has asked the government to approve its plan to increase its stake in J-Power.

    The government concluded, however, that TCI’s increased stake in J-Power could adversely affect the company’s capital investment plans, given the fact that the investment fund is demanding J-Power significantly boost dividend payments, according to the sources.

    Government officials also are concerned that TCI’s increased presence in J-Power could shake the foundation of the country’s energy plans, including its nuclear fuel cycle plans at nuclear power stations, and eventually make it difficult to maintain public order in the country, the sources said.

    (Apr. 6, 2008)

  • What I want to know is if the laws about requiring us to show are cards are going to change with the new policing powers….
    (I.E. am I gonna have to remake those damn wallet cards already?!?)

  • >It also will extend the legitimacy of the >former “Gaijin Cards” (which all NJ must carry >24-7 or face arrest) from three years to five. >That’s the good news

    Slight correction, the cards have been five year ones for quite some time now. (Debito can be forgiven for not remembering this as he hasn’t had one for nearly a decade.)

    Also, the “convenience” is debatable, since what is now possible with a visit to the local city office (i.e. during lunch break) will require a visit to the police station or regional immigration office (half/full day off work, plus associated stigma of being seen entering a police station; “Only criminals go there!”)


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