SendaiBen on “Anytime Fitness” Sports Gym Gaijin Carding him, and how he got them to stoppit


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Hi Blog.  Here’s an instructive post from Reader and Contributor SendaiBen.  He was told (like so many people are) that he had to surrender his Zairyuu “Gaijin Card” in order to register for service.  But as he (and many other veterans of this silliness) know, you only have to present it when asked by a member of Japan’s policing or Immigration officials to do so.  Otherwise, any form of ID (such as a Japanese driver license) that works for Japanese should work for NJ too.  

But some companies don’t know or don’t care, so they push NJ around.  Here’s how SendaiBen successfully pushed back, in the case of a sports gym (a notorious business sector towards NJ members) called Anytime Fitness.  And so can you.  Follow his footsteps.  Dr. Debito Arudou (still getting used to the new WordPress format, so please pardon some formatting creakiness).


Date: November 24, 2018
From: SendaiBen

A few of my friends joined Anytime Fitness recently. They are a gym franchise that allows 24-hour access via a key card and have decent facilities and reasonable fees. They are expanding rapidly in Japan.

I went to check them out with my wife. There were a lot of things I liked, including the fact that you can work out in your street shoes (so no need to bring special shoes just for the gym), the fact they had two squat racks (very rare in Sendai), and the reasonable fees and ability to use other Anytime Fitness gyms in Japan and worldwide.

As we were going through the explanation of how to join, the guy showing us around said that my wife would need ID and her bank card to sign up, and (after confirming I was not a Japanese national — which was a nice touch, I thought) said I would need my ID, zairyu card, and bank card.

My wife gasped slightly (she knew what was coming).

I asked whether I could sign up with my driver’s license instead, and the guy said no, foreign nationals needed to provide their zairyu card.

We left soon after that without signing up. I was a bit put out as I don’t like it when companies make up unnecessary discriminatory rules. It’s not the most important thing in the world, but I think it is important to push back in these situations to prevent this kind of thing from spreading.

I went home and sent an email to the Anytime Fitness main office. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to get it checked, so it is in my fairly poor Japanese:

It basically says ‘I went into the local Anytime Fitness today and was told I need to present a zairyu card as well as other ID to sign up. I presume the staff member I talked to is working off your manual, so didn’t want to argue with them. I have three questions:
Is it actually necessary for me to present my zairyu card (cannot sign up with driver’s license)?
If it is true what is the reason? A zairyu card is an important document that can only be demanded by the police or immigration. It contains important personal information.
If it is true for what purpose will you use this personal information and how will it be managed?

I got a reply back the next day that was basically a cut and paste: we’re sorry you had an unpleasant experience and the local branch will be in touch to explain:

I replied saying that my questions were not about how the branch handled things but rather regarding their policies for signing up for membership. I then got the following the next day:

Basically it says that in order to sign up for membership you need to have one form of ID from the list (driving license, passport, health card, zairyu card, copy of jyuminhyo, my number card) and your bank card. Some bank accounts can’t be used (this actually happened to me, they were unable to use my Shinsei account so I used another one instead).

I then got an email from the gym itself:

This basically says that ‘it is not absolutely necessary to present the zairyu card’ but they use it to check the names of people that break the rules so that they can’t sign up for membership after they have been kicked out.

Of course this doesn’t make much sense as they could use a driver’s license to do the same thing, eh? 😉

I then emailed back asking if I could sign up with just my driver’s licence after all:

And got this reply shortly afterwards:

This very short email says ‘yes, you can sign up with your driver’s license’ (and doesn’t say, but I guess includes the sentiment ‘please don’t send me any more emails’).

Today I went back to the gym to sign up. I talked to a different guy and not once did the zairyu thing come up (although I noticed the first guy was in the office so presumably was instructing his colleague not to trigger the argumentative customer). I filled in some forms, showed my driving license, scanned my bank card (Shinsei didn’t work so used a different one), got my key, worked out, and went home.

Hopefully in the future they will be more careful how they phrase things. I have heard from friends in other areas of Japan that they have also run into the zairyu card thing with Anytime Fitness, so hopefully this post will give some ideas of how to push back in a calm and constructive fashion.

To be honest I wasn’t expecting the gym to back down, so I am kind of impressed with how they dealt with the situation. Obviously it would have been better if they had just taken my driver’s license in the first place, but failing that listening to my complaint and changing their stance was the best outcome I could have hoped for.

It seems more and more companies are becoming aware of the zairyu card, not just as another form of acceptable ID, but sometimes as the only form of ID they will accept from non-Japanese citizens. I personally believe that is unacceptable, so will continue to push back in this way to prevent it from spreading. I don’t want to be asked for my zairyu card by random companies as I go about my daily life. — SendaiBen

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63 comments on “SendaiBen on “Anytime Fitness” Sports Gym Gaijin Carding him, and how he got them to stoppit

  • Respect is due!
    And I agree! I too don’t want random companies demanding the right to my card or refusing me service.

  • I got Zairyu carded in the past but at least for the last 5 years or so I’ve been able to avoid it. When ID is asked for I present my drivers license and that’s it. I think it is in any non-Japanese person’s interest to get a Japanese drivers license ASAP if they plan to live in Japan permanently or long-term. The presentation of the license and then a refusal to even recognize the existence of any other cards is what I go with and it always works.

  • They been doing this for years at net cafes, actually they quote a law and show a paper for proof. They will make a copy of your card or passport

  • by odd coincidence I used to be a member of Anytime Fitness. Its fatal flaw is that Australians in Australia decide everything, so if there is an on site issue, nothing can be decided without it being referred to them. The so called hotline is just to an outsourced call center, and if you have an issue after working hours, there is not much they can do. They tend to defer to local staff. Thus, the gaijin card issue.

    • That’s interesting, because its parent company is in america:
      Headquarters: Woodbury, Minnesota, United States
      Founded: 2002
      CEO: Chuck Runyon (Jan 2010–)

  • I have an expat friend living here that gets pretty angry when hotels ask him for his zairyu card or passport number. Even though he lives in Japan with permanent residence, can speak Japaense, can write his info in Japanese and obviously lives in Japan with a valid Japanese drivers licence that matches the address. What do you think about hotel’s demanding passport numbers for situations like that?

    — They can’t if you have a domestic address. Follow the links I provided.

    • Could be worse! I saw the Toyoko Inn (not exactly a bastion of upstanding corporate citizenship, I know) by the Kitakyushu Airport photographing foreign guests (just like they do at the airport when you enter the country) in addition to the passport copying.

      I was pretty astonished, but I suppose there’s a possibility that it could be due to some new/revised law. (Although if so, I’d expect to hear about that here.)

      — Nothing in the law encouraging Toyoko Inn from doing that. Given the corruptness of Toyoko Inn catalogued on already, I’m suggesting people stay away.

      • Oh dear, Debito readers might mistakenly think that I posted the above weakness.

        I, the real Anonymous, would NEVER assume some new law could possibly legalize such a
        “show us ID or we won’t give you the key to an empty room we have” illegal threat in the first place.

        I would NEVER allow hotel staff to force me to testify about citizenship.

        I would NEVER allow hotel staff to force me to show a passport. Absurd.

        I would NEVER allow hotel staff to force me to show a zairyuu card either.

        I would NEVER allow hotel staff to force me to show any ID at all whatsoever.

        And I would NEVER allow hotel staff to force me to allow them to copy anything.

        And I of course would NEVER allow hotel staff to force me to allow them to take my photo.

        I simply would NEVER allow hotel staff to use the illegal threat “show us ID or we won’t give you the key to an empty room we have.”

        I simply would ONLY write what is required on the honor-system check-in-card, and I would NEVER allow hotel staff to refuse to give me the key to an empty room they have.

        Residents of Japan
        After you write your name and Japan home address on the registration form
        the hotel MUST give the room key now, or the hotel is in violation of Japan Hotel Law:
        旅館業法、 第五条、「宿泊を拒んではならない。」
        Ryoukan Gyou Hou, Dai Go Jou, “Shukuhaku o kobande wa naranai.”
        Ryoukan Business Law, Article 5, “Lodging Refusal is ILLEGAL.”
        (Legally, they can’t force Residents of Japan to show your Zairyu Card.)
        (Legally, they can’t force Residents of Japan to show any ID at all.)
        (Legally, they can’t force Residents of Japan to allow any copying at all.)
        (Legally, after Residents of Japan fill out the honor-system check-in-card, the hotel staff MUST give the key to an empty room they have.)

        Non-Residents of Japan
        After you write your name and home address & passport number on the registration form
        the hotel MUST give the room key now, or the hotel is in violation of Japan Hotel Law:
        旅館業法、 第五条、「宿泊を拒んではならない。」
        Ryoukan Gyou Hou, Dai Go Jou, “Shukuhaku o kobande wa naranai.”
        Ryoukan Business Law, Article 5, “Lodging Refusal is ILLEGAL.”
        Lodging Refusal is ILLEGAL.
        (Legally, they can’t force Non-Residents of Japan to show your Passport.)
        (Legally, they can’t force Non-Residents of Japan to show any ID at all.)
        (Legally, they can’t force Non-Residents of Japan to allow any copying at all.)
        (Legally, after Non-Residents of Japan fill out the honor-system check-in-card, the hotel staff MUST give the key to an empty room they have.)

        So: Residents of Japan and Non-Residents of Japan, simply remember the following sentence:
        旅館業法、 第五条、「宿泊を拒んではならない。」
        Ryoukan Gyou Hou, Dai Go Jou, “Shukuhaku o kobande wa naranai.”
        Ryoukan Business Law, Article 5, “Lodging Refusal is ILLEGAL.”

        If they had even ONE empty room when you filled out the honor-system check-in-card, they MUST give you the key immediately, that’s the law.

        Staff will cite incorrect memos from the MoJ and the Police.
        Stick to repeating the ultimate law:
        “Shukuhaku o kobande wa naranai.”
        Point to what you have already written on the registration card, and repeat:
        “Shukuhaku o kobande wa naranai.”

        When staff & police search for “宿泊を拒んではならない” they will eventually be faced with that law which forces them to give you the key now.

        By the way, here are some of my past posts here at Debito’s:

        Anyway, to avoid future posters from accidentally
        confusing Debito readers about who is posting here,
        I will begin, from this post, to use a clear name: AnonymousOG. 🙂

        • AnonymousbutNotAnonymousOG says:

          Poster above.

          First, sorry for the potential confusion about screen names. Wasn’t trying to steal yours or anything, I was just trying to maintain a modicum of non-identifyability.

          Also, in the interest of brevity, I didn’t go into too much detail, but to clarify, I absolutely do NOT support or approve of what I saw Toyoko Inn doing (and yes, Debito, I’ve read about their shenanigans on your blog previously, and don’t do business with them if it’s up to me; my wife is anothet matter :/ ).

          I also will not let a hotel demand anything beyond that I write my address in Japan on the card at check-in. I agree with everything you posted. I simply was trying to point out that I’m not on top of the current state of the law (seeing as how I am not a lawyer), so I wanted to, cynically, I’d hoped, acknowledge the possibility that I was perhaps ignorant of some new legal development requiring photographs of foreign guests at hotels. And to be really clear, I’m glad there’s NOT, but if there were I would be thoroughly disgusted and absolutely not shocked in the least.

      • About those without an address in Japan (meaning tourists), here is extra proof that they ONLY need to write their passport number* on the honor-system check-in-card:

        The Kousei Roudoushou Law states:
        “Every person must merely WRITE [記載だけ – Kisai Dake – only WRITE] their name, address (and profession) on the honor-system check-in-card, and people WITHOUT a Japan address must merely WRITE [記載だけ – Kisai Dake – only WRITE] their Nationality and Passport Number as well.”

        To avoid people reading the actual “記載 – kisai – merely write” law itself, the oyajiis attempted to commit fraud by pumping out an unofficial unhanko’d MEMO which falsely stated their wild nazi fantasy of the Kousei Roudoushou Law somehow supposedly stating: “those without a Japan address need to PRESENT the passports (haha, yeah, PRESENT the passports, you gaijin, for the brave samurai staff to grab, take control of, and forcefully run to the copy machine to take an illegal copy of, yeah that’s the ticket, who cares about the fact that such showing and grabbing and copying is against the privacy laws of Japan, we would prefer to perpetuate the myth that foreigners have no rights in Japan, that police and now hotel clerks can somehow do forced ID grabbing without probable cause to suspect any crime, let’s write in this memo that the law says “must PRESENT”, haha, we can probably fool those foreigners for the next 20 years since nobody will bother looking at the actual law with the actual “記載 – kisai – merely write” honor-system requirement. Let’s even convince activists that they should wave around this memo we write. Yeah, even THEY will naively assume the law says “PRESENT” if we claim it does in this memo. Haha, but don’t hanko the memo, keep it unofficial, to avoid a fraud charge if our lie ever gets discovered.”

        Bottom-line, the Kousei Roudoushou Law does NOT state that anybody needs to present anything. Not at all. That word “present” was only written by oyajiis who attempted to commit fraud by pumping out unofficial memos.

        Again, the Kousei Roudoushou Law states:
        “Every person must merely WRITE [記載だけ – Kisai Dake – only WRITE] their name, address (and profession) on the honor-system check-in-card, and people WITHOUT a Japan address must merely WRITE [記載だけ – Kisai Dake – only WRITE] their Nationality and Passport Number as well.”

        Thus, according to Japan Hotel Laws, Japan Hotels:
        can NEVER legally demand PHOTOCOPYING of I.D.
        can NEVER legally demand even SHOWING of I.D.
        can NEVER legally refuse stay for not showing I.D.

        Don’t allow hotel staff, police officers, incorrect translations or commenters, to imply otherwise.

        * Hey tourists, you are the only folks who need to write your passport number on the honor-system check-in-card, so memorize your passport number and write it quickly (together with your name and your home address and your profession) so that the staff never even get a chance to see your passport at all.

        If you were to stupidly weakly pull your passport out, to look at it while writing the passport number onto the honor-system check-in-card, the staff would probably start salivating like dogs over it, hungrily greedily desiring the chance to attempt to power harass you, to defame you verbally by insinuating you are going to maliciously write the wrong number, and they would then enter their “grab the passport, run to the copy machine, send a copy to the police later, get brownie points from the local police box for collecting 20 illegal copies of gaijin passports this month, analogous to their sick who-can-collect-the-most-heads-of-unarmed-victims-on-a-stick contests of the past” mode, and once they enter that crazy kamikaze “Japan versus the gaijin” mode it becomes extremely troublesome to get them to back down and admit they never had the right to demand you “present” your passport to them in the first place, so simply AVOID the initial salivating and the whole drama totally by memorizing in advance your passport number and writing it quickly on the honor-system check-in-card together with your name and your home address and your home profession so that the staff NEVER even get a chance to see your passport at all.

        So this is the summary for tourists: once you’ve written your name, passport number, home address, and home profession, then suddenly legally the hotel is REQUIRED to give you the key if they have even one empty room.

        And this is the summary for non-tourists: once you’ve written your name, Japan address, and profession, then suddenly legally the hotel is REQUIRED to give you the key if they have even one empty room.

        After quickly writing those essential things down (don’t let them interrupt your writing, write those essential things before answering any of their loaded questions) then suddenly you’re all set. Even have the courage and the intelligence to quickly take a photo of that lovely check-in-card which you quickly successfully filled out.

        Now you’re all set to reply to any of their stupid questions/lies/requests/demands: by simply pointing to what you have already written and strongly matter-of-factly repeating as many times needed until they give you the key:

        “Shukuhaku o kobande wa naranai.”
        “Tadachi ni kagi o watashi ni agete.”
        “Ryoukan Gyou Hou, Dai Go Jou.”

        “Lodging Refusal is ILLEGAL.”
        “Give the key to me immediately.”
        “Ryoukan Business Law, Article 5.”

        To the staff, to the manager, to the owner, to the police, simply point to what you have written and stick to the ultimate law which strongly protects you from any “show ID or no key” coercion attempts:

        “Shukuhaku o kobande wa naranai.”
        “Tadachi ni kagi o watashi ni agete.”
        “Ryoukan Gyou Hou, Dai Go Jou.”

        “Lodging Refusal is ILLEGAL.”
        “Give the key to me immediately.”
        “Ryoukan Business Law, Article 5.” 🙂

      • Ryan Hagglund says:

        The Toyoko Inn Club Card, which gives discounts on stays and a free night for each paid 10 nights, has a photo on it and therefore requires a picture to be taken. I’m 99.99% sure you saw a foreign-looking guest signing up for one of these Club Cards and having their picture taken as a result. Japanese citizens signing up for the card would have their picture taken as well.

        • AnonymousButNotAnonymousOG says:

          That is a reasonable explanation, and I did not know such a card existed.

          And now that I do, I still will not be staying at any Toyoko Inn unless I really have absolutely no other choice.

          Also, at the hotels I stayed at in Fukuoka (including the aforementioned Toyoko Inn), they all had a little multilingual placard at the check-in counter, ostensibly issued by the Fukuoka police department, kindly informing foreign guests that they would need to make a copy of their passport (while of course neglecting to mention that that, as above, copies are not required by the law, nor is passport information necessary for guests with an address in Japan). Took a picture of one.

      • This is untrue. I was photographed by Toyoko Inn for my member’s card, which actually gives me good deals and means I don’t have to show my residence card. EVER. They are a good hotel, I have never had any issues with them.

  • I went through a similar issue with them a couple years ago when registering me and my wife together. The moronic looking young fellow at the counter asked us both for IDs. She provided her DL and I handed in my Zairyuu Card , as this is the only ID I have here other than a passport. He looked at mine and automatically asked to make a copy of it. just mine ( as blatantly racist as its sounds). I asked “why”, he candidly replied “just to have it in the files ( clearly not at all a valid reason, even for him I’m sure). then I concisely but assertively just said “no thanks”. He hesitated for a second , looked at both of us again (pondering the situation and lengthy debate) and just proceed with the registration. I’m hell sure the story would have been totally different if I would have gone there just by myself.
    BTW, I’ve been away, back to my adoptive country (Canada)for the last year, for the last year . A land where, with its own issues, for the most part, all can feel respected , tolerated and breath the freedom and equal treatment the moment you step out of the plane. Really not looking forward more of the normalised everyday struggle at almost every human interaction here. Always loaded with either blatant of subtle racism, distrust , and abuse.

  • If I recall correctly (been a while since i looked at the rules), looking at the Immigration rules, only the police and immigration Depts are LEGALLY allowed to ask for this card. They must have written permission from either for anyone else to do so.
    Which is why everytime I am asked for mine by a shop assistant or bank teller or other, I simply say, are you the police….upon which they say no. So I say can you show me the formal letter from the police that allows you to ask for my card? Silence and blank looks!

    • This is an oversimplification. Other government agents are also authorized by law to demand it. This includes the people at HelloWork and anyone with access to the 住民基本台帳.

      This is a really important caveat, as I have challenged both HelloWork and the city office after having read the same information you just regurgitated. Nothing came of it, but technically if it doesn’t go well, it’s just the same as refusing to present to police. (i.e. it’s a crime)

      • HJ, I would hate to disagree with you about any point, since I respect your posts in general, please allow me to attempt to correct/improve/strengthen your stance about when one must show the zairyuu kaado, and when one needn’t.

        To be completely frank, it sounds like two groups of power-harassing liars (HelloWork & CityHall) fooled you, my dear friend, into thinking it is “a crime” (really? I think not) to legally decline the “requests disguised as unconditional orders” barked by HelloWork & CityHall power-harassing liars.

        First off, even immigration officers and police officers are limited about when THEY can give you an unconditional order in the first place. They need PROBABLE CAUSE to believe you are committing (or probable cause to believe you know somebody committing) A CRIME.

        The problem is they are well-trained in fooling folks into wrongly assuming one has been given an unconditional order, when in fact they have merely (as they will tell the Judge later) “made strongly worded requests”, and you naively “voluntarily agreed to comply with” those strongly worded requests.

        If any immigration officer or police officer barks at you to “Stop!” or “Show us ID” you need to first immediately ask “Is this an UNCONDITIONAL ORDER? – Kore wa mujouken na meirei?”

        Even better than a Yes/No question is a “limited to 2 choices” question, such as “Is this a voluntary request or an unconditional command, which is it? – Kore wa nin’i na onegai soreka mujouken na meirei, dotchi desu ka?”

        Is that a loaded-question? Yes. But it’s a “proper-loaded” question, since those are the only options: either the action desired is a VOLUNTARY request (voluntary meaning we have the right to decline it legally and confidently), OR it’s an unconditional command – mujouken na meirei.

        If they claim “it’s an unconditional command (mujouken na meirei)” then you HAVE to obey it now to remain perfectly legal (and use a lawyer later to prove that: the unconditional command lacked the prerequisite “probable cause” and thus the unconditional command was illegal and everything after that point has to be thrown out of court, since all obtained illegally.)

        Remember, you must obey all unconditional orders, even the illegal ones, and later have the judge throw everything out.

        Now, here’s the main point: anytime they do NOT admit to be giving an unconditional order, then it was MERELY a strongly worded request, which of course you aren’t legally obligated to voluntarily agree to. You can decline ALL unconditional orders, legally and confidently.

        Let’s think about City Hall & HelloWork, where residents of all colors are supposed to be showing ID (any ID from the many accepted ID options) and then smoothly paying for prints of their Koseki Tohon or their Juminhyou or whatever, or receiving unemployment benefits, or receiving help finding a new job, etc.

        Some liars there convinced you “it’s a crime, to show some other accepted form of ID, such as Driver’s License or Kokuho Kaado.” ?

        Some liars there convinced you “it’s a crime, to decline our strongly worded requests about showing your Zairyuu Kaado which you MUST have based on your racial appearance.” ?

        How would they even know you are a Zairyuu Kaado holder in the first place? (Government workers admitting “racial appearance” would not be a legal answer.)

        You probably wanted some standard service from them, a standard service guaranteed to all residents, and they power-harassed you and successfully convinced you into believing “WE City Hall workers, WE HelloWork workers, WE have the power to demand any ‘racially foreign looking’ people to SHOW US YOUR ZAIRYUU KAADO, IT’S A CRIME TO DECLINE!”

        Reminds me of the coercion attempt which didn’t work on me:
        “Show us your passport, or else you won’t get Child Allowance payments.”
        They tried that line on me, but it didn’t convince me to show them my passport. Nope, I now have over a decade of declining their strongly worded annual “show your passport” requests.

        Anytime I am asked to show something which Mr. Yamato Race (and Mr. Yamato Race appearing folks) aren’t requested to show, I decline and more importantly I push them to legally immediately “complete the transaction.”

        I give them good reasons why they should accept the fact that I just completed the “Honnin Kakunin” action when I showed my Driver’s License, or my Kokuho Card, or whatever form of acceptable ID I felt like showing.

        “Obeying Japan’s Constitution is vital, to avoid the whole town being mad at the city worker who cost this city hundreds of millions of yen, due to the city worker’s illegal actions having caused an easily winnable lawsuit penalty fine for violating Japan’s constitution which does NOT allow government workers to require “non-Japanese race appearing” residents to show anything which “Japanese race appearing” residents aren’t required to show, and the added financial penalty due to your threat of refusing the service, based on the declination of the race-based request/demand, even though the resident duly showed other acceptable ID.”

        I simply decline their illegal requests while keeping the spotlight remaining FIRMLY fixed on their actions being in the wrong: namely, them illegally threatening to not give a resident the equal treatment which all residents (regardless of color and regardless of citizenship) have an equal guaranteed right to receive, be it the print out of your own information or be it the dispersal of benefits (benefits of past tax-paying) which the government is legally required to pay you.

        Their “cooperate with our strongly worded request or else we will not give you the service you want” coercion attempts don’t work on me, since I know their emotional “or else we’ll get you” threat is a lie.

        So I’m shaking my head at how they manage to convince folks “Show CityHall & HelloWork workers your zairyuu kaado or it’s a crime, an arrestable crime, zairyuu or prison, you must show it now!”

        What the City Hall and HelloWork people MEANT to say is, “Hello, as we ask all humans who come to this desk to receive resident help and benefits, please show “honnin kakunin” which is any of our many accepted forms of ID such as Driver’s License, Kokuho Kaado, etc.” but unfortunately due to the Embedded Racism problem embedded in current Japanese culture the above sentence was not used, and instead this poor resident was coerced into doing something he was not legally obligated to do, with the threat that “or else you won’t receive the government benefit.”

        For example, as long as you have shown one of the accepted NON-Zairyuu options of ID, they are legally required (with no probable cause to do otherwise) to give you your Child Allowance money, and your Unemployment money if god forbid you were ever to need it, and such government services are not some privilege which they can choose to not give you, those are things the government workers MUST give you by law.

        These government workers (at City Hall and HelloWork) cannot legally “refuse to give you a service, based on your race.”

        Nothing in the WRITTEN LAWS requires “people who appear to be ‘racially foreign’ to show things which people who appear to be ‘racially Japanese’ are not required to show.”

        Nothing in the WRITTEN LAWS states “people who appear to be ‘racially foreign’ must show Zairyuu Kaado, people who appear to be ‘racially Japanese’ can show Driver’s License or Kokuho.”

        If they vaguely implied to you that some WRITTEN LAW states that “not showing them your Zairyuu Kaado right now would be a crime”, you should have demanded they show the WRITTEN LAW to you (and copy it for you, haha.)

        The net result of asking whether an action is an unconditional demand or merely a strongly worded request, is usually the bully ends up admitting, “Well, jitsuwa – it’s not really a written law, it’s just ‘the way we do things here at this office’ and since you have directly asked me to verbally admit which situation this is, legally, I have to admit: our strongly worded request to you was NOT an unconditional order, it was merely a voluntary request, bottom-line legally you can OF COURSE just show your Driver’s License or your Kokuho or ANY of the other forms of ID we accept (as shown in this list for Japanese-looking folks here).”

    • In Communist China (Japan) some hotels do indeed need to show the passport to the local police, because there are hotels for foreigners and hotels for locals, ie. they havent got the right licence. Why does Japan follow Communist China in this respect, when in fact there is no license required in Japan-that I am aware of-to allow foreigners to stay in the hotel.

      Unless of course, its one rule for Japanese, and another for but surely not, right? (^_^)

  • I was told at a local gym that I could not use their machines because of my nihongo level. Obvisouly racist and exclusionary, I made a scene, nothing violent but called them out on it. I said does the machine need Japanese for me to use it? anyway that individual was latter fired, for the scene I dont know. It really comes down to yourself, what your willing to tolerate. I dont care what others around may think or any wa, etc if racism is involved. the meaning of harmony does not include racism.

    • ALWAYS MAKE A SCENE, it is the only Gaijin smash or perk we have left now, as other “privileges” have faded away since the 80s. I.e. having the cojones and confidence or common sense (But not J-common sense!) to stand up for your rights. And it comes from you, not because Japan “erai hito” gave it to you.
      Now I know certain NJ like Alex Kerr think confrontation is counter productive in Japan, but I disagree; thats just Nihonjinron Propaganda that elite (or think they are, e.g. G. Clark) westerners have bought into hook line a sinker. Look at Ishihara, basically a J Trump, elected purely because he can “speak out”.
      Privileged toshi yori Amerika jin with rose tinted glasses Alex Kerr “has criticized Arudou for his “openly combative attitude”, an approach that Kerr thinks usually “fails” in Japan and may reinforce the conservative belief “that gaijin are difficult to deal with”. wikipedia.

      Oh, boo hoo. Gaijin are difficult to deal with? 3 answers:
      1. Those same J-Cons delight in Japan being difficult to deal with, taking pride in that as proof of “uniqueness”
      2. Japan is difficult to deal with. I mean, come on, banks dont even use SWIFT codes. And it is near impossible to pay a J bill from overseas, TEPCO even said “Can I phone a friend to pay it!” Amateurish.
      3. Japan, where “stereotypes are loved and cherished”, will think what they wanna think about gaijin anyway.

      And hey, Koko wa Nihon desho? Okyaku san wa Kami Sama deshou? So there is a NIhonjinron argument right back at you, Apologists!

      And now we are middle aged Oyaji ourselves, then surely we can complain when something is amiss…unless of course, its one rule for the Japanese and another for NJ oyaji…….

      • Jim Di Griz says:

        Alex Kerr? Wasn’t he made a member of the Abe regime’s ‘Cool Japan’ advisory panel, and now has his snout firmly embedded in the taxpayers trough? Of course he’s not going to advocate rocking the boat; he’s been co-opted, suppressed, bought-out.
        Credibility? Right up there with Jane Fonda.

      • realitycheck says:

        Absolutely agree with your basic point. Alex Kerr wrote a good critique of Japan in his Dogs and Demons books then undermines any critical thinking of his by privileging Japan society and its people as somehow special and necessitating exemptions from the norms of contemporary developed societies.

        Feeding these delusions reflect poorly on writers such as Kerr who are living in some kind of self-imposed time-warp. Countries and cultures that actually contributed to humankind*s development in science, technology, human rights, philosophical thinking, logic, etc, unlike Japan, do not claim the special privilege to exist in the past as Japanese society generally does.

        Hint – there*s a reason why Japan has been and will continue to be irrelevant in terms of human development. As for the persistent notion that this is Japan and gaijin must play second fiddle as guests – don*t encourage it, it only worsens the problem.

        Weekly aggressions, at times daily, on trains/subways/in public places etc from assorted Japanese people including physically putting their hands on me to push me out of the way because after all I*m a guest and not deserving of equal rights as an outside person, do not make me inclined to encourage their arrogant and outdated attitudes.

        I use my Japanese speaking ability to answer back and unlike them I use the polite form. I won`t tolerate petty insults and ruder behaviour from Japanese. Why should I or any of us especially as we are paying taxes and contributing to this society. And no Japanese person has ever intervened on my behalf when a nasty Japanese has been rude to me or shoved me or tried to make me feel wrong for being somewhere here when they don*t want to see a gaijin because this is Japan. The moral cowardice of Japanese society is especially prevalent in the big city.

        Dr Debito has always had the back of everybody who has come up against this rather peculiar Japanese notion of exceptionalism. Especially those who have laboured here under the conditions given to non-western foreigners with all the human rights abuses these have entailed.

        Unlike Alex Kerr and his kind, Dr Debito is not a moral coward.

        • “I use my Japanese speaking ability to answer back and unlike them I use the polite form. ”
          You’re a better person than me; I give back in Japan exactly what I am given, including using “anta” and “omae” forms. It makes them absolutely livid with (generally impotent) rage.
          There is their negative energy…..right back at them.
          It is so ironic how negative Tokyo in particular has become, far from the “genki” divide, which is pragmatic deceit in complete denial.

          Acting remotely “genki” now seems so unreal its almost like a clown act (I was even called out on it in a class by a Japanese).

  • the other day I was in a hotel in Macau, and they needed to see a local ID CARD.So I showed them my old Japanese ID card (long expired but I keep it for such overseas excursions). “Live in Japan do you”” queries the jobsworth nosy receptionist.

    “mmm” lied I, non committedly.

    None of their business. Very intrusive. Banks are like that too, singling me out because of my looks to ask “do you want the US Dollars queue?”
    I just make a scene by saying “why do you ask ME? why would I have Us Dollars? This is (Japan/China/Taiwan/wherever) until they shuffle away embarrassedly.

    The Customer is God. Never forget that.

  • What about mobile phones and bank accounts?

    I’ve heard that all the main mobile carriers are now demanding to see Zairyu card when creating a new phone contract. Softbank for sure has this in their script, and SB mobile shops can’t proceed through the process without check that they have seen the Zairyu card. I had a huge argument last year about this since I’ve been a customer for 10 years (and only showed my jp driver license initially, and for several other family member contracts since). However, when trying to add one more contract under my name for my son’s phone, the store employee (and later the store manager) demanded to see my Zairyu card. Was thinking to switch to docomo or AU, but heard they will do the same. (anyone know about this?)

    Also heard that banks will demand to see Zairyu instead of just drivers license lately.

    • Nic, thanks for commenting. Sounds like you got the run-around from some ignorant, racist Wajin staff who felt like picking on minority folks that day. I can only speak for myself, but allow me to share my own experience with both mobile phone providers and banks.

      I recently (five months ago) applied for mobile service with Y! Mobile (owned by SoftBank) and only presented my 個人番号カード (“My Number Card”) for identification. They suggested the 在留カード as a means of identification during the process, but I never even acknowledged that I possess one and was never pressed to present it. I watched as the staff selected “Japanese nationality” on the little tablet used to process the application and of course made no effort to correct them on this. (For what it’s worth, I am not Asian and do not use a Yamato name.)

      As far as banks go, I signed up for two new bank accounts fairly recently (about a year ago), one with Mitsubishi UFJ, the other with SMBC.

      Mitsubishi UFJ at first did not demand the 在留カード, but U.S. tax law (I am still a U.S. citizen) demands that I share my overseas bank information with the IRS (the U.S. tax collection agency), and as such I had to provide my SSN (social security number, a taxpayer identification number issued to all U.S. citizens) as part of the process. I did so voluntarily without question, but then the clerk came back and demanded the gaijin card to “prove my U.S. nationality.” I pointed out that I had already demonstrated my U.S. nationality by providing my SSN and staunchly refused to present the gaijin card. The clerk talked to a shady old Wajin man behind the counter and “got my application approved,” and the issue ended without additional fiasco.

      At SMBC, I was never asked to present the gaijin card, but they did attempt to refuse to open the account with my name in kanji. This too I refused to budge on, and they eventually capitulated and opened the account as requested.

      You mentioned a SoftBank script in your post. Private businesses have absolutely no right to demand the gaijin card, so unless they have a policy whereby they demand an actual passport from ALL customers, “I’m a Japanese national” should in and of itself be adequate to sidestep the issue entirely.

      Of course, ethically speaking, it should not matter at all, and I support you should you choose to take that line of reasoning with the Wajin staff, but honestly it seems like it would be easier to take the line of “I’m Japanese and thus have no gaijin card to present.” They cannot prove otherwise.

      This is ultimately the bottom line in essentially all these cases: it’s inherently racist and illegal (technically speaking) for them to demand a different form of ID based on nationality alone, but regardless, unless a business has magical way to check your nationality, or you present an ID card that lists your nationality, “I’m Japanese” cannot really be disproven. I think it’s unlikely that most businesses will have the gall to say “I think you’re just lying.”

      Just my two cents.

      By the way, this issue with Anytime Fitness has not been resolved. I sent both Dr. Arudou and Anytime Fitness’s corporate office in Japan an e-mail about it and have received no response yet from either, but they are currently actively distributing flyers that specifically list the gaijin card as the form of ID for “foreigners.” I’ll post again if I get any new information.

  • AnonymousOG says:

    Answer: if you have the combination of a Kanjified Kokuho Kaado, plus the strength, intelligence, Japanese ability, acting skills, energy, time, and the internal rationalization about lying as I do, gained from living here in Japan over 20 years, then you can do what I have done: go to banks, create bank accounts showing only your Kokuho Card, which has only Kanji on it, no roman letters, no katakana, only Kanji (since you should already have taken my “Kanjify Yourself” advice long ago

    And then, when the bank employee looks at your Kokuho Kaado, and then he/she looks again at your racial appearance, and then he/she requests/demands to see your Zairyuu Kaado, you must successfully give an Oscar-award-earning performance of a justifiably morally outraged Japanese-Citizen*-who-happens-to-appear-racially-non-asian in which you strongly use good Japanese to demand the manager train this employee better:

    “Manager, to avoid a lawsuit you must retrain this employee who just refused to respect Japan’s laws when he/she refused to accept Japan’s Kokuho Kaado which this bank’s president has decided is one of the accepted forms of ID as written in the rule book of this bank, this employee just illegally broke the bank’s rules chosen by the bank’s president and the bank’s lawyers who wrote the bank’s rules, and furthermore this employee illegally violated Japan’s strong laws against racial discrimination and put the bank’s president in risk of the courts of Japan financially penalizing the bank with a huge fine in an easily winnable lawsuit, so you the manager must immediately look at the Kokuho Kaado and immediately open this new bank account, and later you the manager must train all employees at this branch to stop illegally discriminating based on race, because that illegal action puts this company at risk of major court financial penalties, and after your bank’s president is forced by the courts of Japan to pay those major financial penalties he may choose to close down this branch which will put all of the employees here at this branch out of work, which will make everyone here angry at the employee who committed this illegal act, and which will make everyone here angry at the manager who didn’t train the employees about the bank’s rules and Japan’s laws correctly, and so you the manager must start immediately obeying this bank’s rules and Japan’s laws which state that the acceptable ID list applies to EVERY new customer REGARDLESS of racial appearance. According to this bank’s rules and Japan’s laws, employees can NOT attempt to guess whether or not a customer like me became a Japanese citizen years ago, employees can NOT attempt to guess whether a Japanese citizen grew up in Japan or in Hawaii or in America, when a person has plainly shown the Kokuho Kaado the employee can NOT refuse the Kokuho Kaado, the employee can NOT attempt to ask for ADDITIONAL ID based on racial appearance, the employee can NOT refuse the Kokuho Kaado of Ainu-appearing customers, the employee can NOT refuse the Kokuho Kaado of Ryuukyuu-appearing customers, you the manager must explain to all the employees at this branch that there are White-Japanese citizens like me, there are Black-Japanese citizens like my friends, there are raised-in-America Japanese-Japanese citizens with beginner Japanese skills, as long as the customer has a Kokuho Kaado the employee must immediately open the new bank account without making ANY language-level-based or burakimin-address-based or racial-appearance-based comments or requests or demands. Stop the illegal racism (which go against this bank’s president and this bank’s rules and Japan’s laws written by the erai legislators of Japan – Nippon no Kokkaigiin) and complete the transaction immediately, thank you.”

    That’s how to get your bank accounts all perfectly in Kanji and get the manager to train the staff to assume you are a Japanese citizen and treat you as a Japanese citizen. And you simply use that same technique everywhere you go, whether it is a fitness center or a cell phone company or whatever.

    Why are you weakly admitting you are a foreigner in the first place? They immorally implied “you look racially-non-Japanese(sic), so…”, so get mad about that implication, get mad in the same way as if they had just said that to your ‘half’ Japanese kids, give the same justifiably morally outraged speech that you would if you WERE a Nationalized Japanese Citizen who simply retains the non-Japanese-racial-appearance(sic).

    Yes, that requires strength, intelligence, Japanese ability, acting skills, energy, time, and a little lying.

    The first lie within all of that is: actually I am not a Japanese citizen, but I don’t feel bad about claiming to be, since according to my 100% Kanjified Kokuho Kaado I could very well be, so f*ck them for their attempt to force people based on racial appearance to SHOW MORE ID, are they going to pull this same behavior when my Half-Caucasian/Half-racially-Japanese(sic) actually-Japanese-citizen CHILDREN come to open bank accounts in the future?

    These “show us MORE ID” attempts are basically saying, “you look like a racial outsider to me, so prove you are are not one of those illegal visa-overstayers the TV warns me about.”

    And what if they say, “oh, so you claim to be a Japanese citizen, I don’t believe that, since your language level shows you were not born in Japan and since I have never met a Japanese-citizen who is non-racially-Japanese (sic), so I want to demand you PROVE YOUR CITIZENSHIP by showing your Japanese passport, even though we don’t demand that proof from all customers, we only demand proof of citizenship from customers like you who appear racially-foreign.” In that case I reply using the same justifiably morally outraged stance: “Are you going to make such illegal demands when my Japanese-citizen Half-Caucasian/Half-racially-Japanese(sic) children come to open their bank accounts, and when Ainu racial-appearance customers and Ryuukyuu-racial appearance customers come to open their bank accounts? Your bank’s president and your bank’s lawyers did NOT write in the bank’s rule book to ‘refuse the Kokuho Kaado of customers with light-colored-hair or dark-colored-skin, and demand such customers show any ID which customers who appear racially-Japanese(sic) don’t have to show.’ No, your bank’s president and your bank’s lawyers will be EXTREMELY angry at you when my lawyers initiate the lawsuit about this illegal action your employee and you the manager (as the responsible person, the seki-nin) committed today. I have showed you the acceptable ID so obey the bank rules and the laws of Japan and open my bank account immediately without any more comments about my Caucasian race and my Japanese citizenship, thank you.”

    The second lie within all of that is: actually Japan does NOT have any laws which outlaw private businesses from refusing service based on racial appearance.

    The hotel law demands every human who has filled out the check-in form to be given a room if even one is available, and the constitution demands governmental workers cannot commit racial discrimination, but Japan still has no laws which outlaw private businesses from refusing service based on racial appearance.

    Debito probably was merely “thrown a bone” by the Judge in his case who merely ruled “sometimes racial discrimination is unacceptable” which probably was code-word for “if only this Caucasian had been refused service based on race, it would have been acceptable discrimination, regardless of whether or not he had Japanese citizenship, since there is no law against businesses refusing service based on race in Japan, but I’m going to throw a little bone of financial penalty to basically cover the plaintiff’s lawyer costs, just because: there was a half-racially-Japanese(sic) little girl also refused service, and I’m embarrassed merely that a half-real-Japanese(sic) person was refused service.”

    The Ana Bortz judge ruled better, in that he admitted what I am always saying: the U.N. CERD Treaty is already automatically the Supreme Law in Japan and always has been ever since it was ratified decades ago, but good luck convincing business owners, police, prosecutors, or other judges, of that fact.

    So in Japan private non-hotel businesses still legally CAN have an open or hidden policy of refusing service to foreigners, and they still legally CAN say silly things like, “You appear to be a foreign race, show us your Zairyuu Kaado, or show us your Japanese Passport if you claim to be one of those rare foreign-race-appearing Nationalized-Japanese-Citizens, or we will refuse service to you.”

    So since the laws of Japan currently DON’T protect foreigners in Japan from such immoral demands yet, and since my intent is simply to get businesses to treat me EQUALLY as they treat Japanese citizens, I DON’T feel it is immoral for me to pretend that I already AM a Japanese citizen, and I don’t feel it is immoral for me to pretend Japan already DOES have laws outlawing such racial discrimination.

    So, to summarize:

    #1. I pretend I am a Japanese citizen even if I am not yet (sometimes shrewdly giving the impression of being a Japanese citizen WITHOUT actually making any false claim, sometimes going all the way and directly stating I am a Japanese citizen).

    #2. I pretend that asking for anything beyond merely showing the Kokuho Kaado would be an illegal act violating Japan’s laws written by Japan’s Legislators and highly penalized by Japan’s courts with big financial fines which also result in the companies firing the staff who committed the illegal act of requesting a customer to “show MORE than the Kokuho Kaado” (sometimes I give the impression companies have lost such lawsuits many times in general, and sometimes outright claiming that I have won such lawsuits myself in the past.)

    By the way, about your kids attending school in Japan, there exists a nice non-battle way to help your kids (who are Japanese citizens, if your spouse is a Japanese citizen, but who are probably unfortunately marked with your family name katakana, if you are a male and your Japanese wife took your family name) to avoid being marked with katakana. Here’s how: you can simply go talk with the principals before your kids enter pre-school, elementary school, junior-high-school, high-school, and gently/strongly (find the perfect blend) show the principal the Family Name Kanji for you and your kids (which can either sound like your actual family name, or not, either way) and thus your kids from the very start to the very end will never be marked as the odd-ones-out with their name family name written in romaji or katakana, instead their family name will always be written just like everyone else: in kanji. The principals at all my kids’ schools agreed right from the start (thank goodness) so my kids are 100% Kanjified as well (as they SHOULD be, since they are born-in-Japan Japanese-citizens.) (The only time when Katakana appears, is on the graduation paper when they graduate. Everything else is 100% Kanji.)

    Bottom line, if you have the Kanjified Kokuho Kaado, plus the strength, intelligence, Japanese ability, acting skills, energy, time, and the internal rationalization about lying as I do, then you can get the results I get: my Kokuho Kaado accepted and them assuming I am a Japanese Citizen. And then it becomes progressively easier, as you then in the future, in addition to your Kokuho Kaado, you can slap those 100% Kanjified Bank Account passbooks onto the table when arguing with other businesses to accept the fact you are a Caucasian/Black/Arab Japanese Citizen. (!!!) 😉

    Now, if you DON’T have all those personal qualities listed in the paragraph above (and that is a difficult combination to have) then you simply won’t get the Kanjified Bank Accounts like I have. You will be forever marked with Romaji or Katakana or whatever.

    Now, in general, if you can’t successfully do what I successfully have done, then here are your other options:

    Option A: Fight Honestly. Admit you are foreign while still demanding they treat you the same as they treat Japanese citizens. Meaning, show your Japan Driver’s license (with the Roman letters or Katakana which admit you are not a Japanese citizen) and demand that if the Japanese citizens only have to show their Japan Driver’s license that you also only have to show your Japan Driver’s license. This honest “Yes, I’m a foreigner, but treat me the same as you treat Japanese citizens” stance will probably NOT work at companies like cell phone companies who actually have written into their rules “since this is a 2 year loan we need proof the person has the ability to stay in Japan for the next 2 (or 3) years.” (And actually cell phone companies do have new rules which demand ALL customers show proof of citizenship or visa, meaning even your Japanese wife will have to show her koseki-tohon or her juuminhyou or her passport, to open a cell phone account these days, so they actually are being fascist across the board, yay for equal-fascism I guess, now we all have to bend over equally, the unofficial demands to ‘show your papers’ are now starting to be applied to everyone. When the fascists came for and made unjust demands of the minorities, nobody said anything to help us, so now the majority is starting to realize the fascism is beginning to be applied towards THEIR racial-appearance too, haha, boo-hoo, oh well.) Anyway, this “Option A” honest stance CAN work at businesses in which you are NOT getting into any multi-year loans. The bad point about this honest stance is once you admit you are a foreigner there is a very low chance of the Japanese staff agreeing to treat you the same as they treat Japanese citizens. The good point about this honest stance is that if you DO get an occasional “win” in which the company DOES agree to treat you the same as they treat Japanese citizens, then your rare miraculous honest “win” will feel much better to you than my “dirty wins” which I obtain through lying about myself and lying about the laws of Japan.

    Option B: Give in. Admit to them you are foreign while bending over by presenting your Zairyuu Kaado. This option has two sub-options: either you bend over half-way by saying, “OK, I will hold the Zairyuu Kaado for you to write down the number, but Japan privacy laws do not allow copy-machine copying.” Or you bend over all-the-way by allowing them to grab your card and use a copy-machine to make a copy of it which they will keep unsecured and might be used by some staff over the next few years or decades to commit identify theft.

    Option C. Opt out. Opt out of the conflict altogether by not desiring that thing you don’t need anyway, like a (possibly cancer-causing) status-symbol desperate-for-social-connection ring-ring “you have mail” cell-phone in the first place, and not joining a (dirty, sweaty, probably skin-rash-causing, definitely rude passive-aggressive J-culture-dude harboring) fitness center in the first place. Bicycles outside and Barbells at home work fine to stay healthy and strong. A desktop computer, connected to your family home phone land-line, using wires and not using wireless, is faster and safer and the screen is nicer and larger. (OK, I’ll admit, even the land-line involves a multi-year contract, so hmm, the same “show us your card” battle would happen when signing up for a home phone land-line, alright, but if a home phone land-line is already set up thanks to your Japanese spouse/parents-in-law, then you’re all set, haha. Which I guess is actually a case of option D.)

    Option D. Let your handler handle it. Have your “babysitter / handler / gaijin-pet owner” (haha, meaning your Japanese citizen spouse, if you are mixed-blessing “lucky” enough to have one) simply go to the cell phone store herself (without you) and buy a cell phone “for her”, using her racial appearance and her Japan Driver’s license and voila, she can quietly pass that cell-phone to you or your child without ever hearing the word Zairyuu Kaado or Gaikokujin at all, since she is “the right race” for Japan.

    (But actually, as mentioned above, it seems now EVEN YOUR JAPANESE SPOUSE will have to bring her koseki tohon or juuminhyou to the cell phone company now to open a new phone account, haha. She probably will complain greatly about the 450 yen city hall charge for that paperwork, in which case you can let her know there is also the option of showing the cell phone company her Passport instead, haha. Let her see how that feels, now SHE must ‘show Passport or be refused service’. Love the irony. Actually, although the cell phone companies are being fascists, at least they are now making this ‘prove your citizenship or visa’ demand to EVERYONE, and clearly stating so in their rules which are printed in their sign-up contract paperwork (you can go in and ask for that, the Japanese version of course, and then go home and study the various ID combination options at your leisure) so, this is much “better” (well, at least finally EQUAL) compared to the old race-based-discrimination in the past where the demands were only being made towards folks who appeared racially-non-Japanese(sic).)

    OK, I hope I finally fixed all my stupid typos, and I hope this reply has thoroughly answered the “what about mobile phones and bank accounts” question.

    • Option D. Let your handler handle it. This is actually the best way to enjoy Japan, by acting like a perpetual tourist, and receiving said touristic guest treatment. Let the Japanese sort out the Japanese.

      As one of duran Duran said “They really take care of you…so long as you leave when you are expected to”.

      I am not advocating leaving. Just its probably better for your sanity and stress level to get as little involved in byzantine J-intrigues as much as possible. Get your spouse to fight your battles as condition of you staying.

      After all, we have no equal rights….

  • I was wondering if any of the readers/followers here know about the frequent requirement to show zairyuu card when traveling overseas.
    I have been asked to present my zairyuu card when leavening Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and several other Asian countries, because airlines frequently requested it! It was never immigration officers or the police–only the airlines I flew with. For example, Air Asia, Scoot, and many other, not only LCC, airlines have strongly demanded to see my zairyuu card. I am under the impression that they would not allow me to board the airplane if I do not show the card.
    My passport is never enough for them, for some reason, even though my permanent residence permit sticker and stamp are in it.
    Last week, when boarding Scoot (a Singapore based LCC), I was asked to show the card again. I said, Sure, but may I know why? The clerk replied, I need to check it. Me: OK, but why? Isn’t my passport a valid, official document? Clerk: I must check your card, Scoot requires it. Me: I am not sure if this is legal. This card is my possession and property of the Japanese MOJ. Only police and immigration officers in Japan, not overseas, can ask to see it. Clerk: But, I have to see it. Me: I understand what you are saying; I also want to know why you need to see it and what you are checking. I think your action is wrong and not sure if it is even legal for Scoot to do this. Clerk: I must see it because the immigration in Japan will also ask you to show the card when you return today. (BTW, in 2018, I traveled overseas 3 times and I was never asked to show the card to the immigration officers on the way BACK to Japan. However, when I left Japan, I had to show it every time.) Me: So? But, why does Scoot need to see it? I think that is simply wrong. It is an internal document meant to be used in Japan only, not overseas. Clerk: Well, if Japan refuses to let you in, they will return you here, and we will have to fly you back here. We want to make sure that does not happen. Me: My passport is an official document that allows me to travel overseas and go to Japan, among many other countries. I would be allowed to visit Japan even if I were not a permanent resident. I can go there “visa-free” for 90 days, so why would Japan “return me” at your cost? You make me feel like a criminal, arguing that my passport is not enough for your company to trust that I can go to Japan. If it were my first visit, Scoot would trust that more than the fact that I have permanent residency, as recorded in my passport! Let me ask–if I refuse to show the card and only show my passport, would you not allow me to board the plane? The clerk never answered this question and kept repeating that she “needs to check” my card “because the Japanese immigration officer will also check it” anyway.
    To make things worse, when LEAVING Japan last time in December, Vanilla Air ground staff also demanded that I show my zairyuu card! I was too surprised to react because I do not think I ever had to show the card to an airline employee when leaving Japan before.
    Is there any information available that states whether overseas airline staff are allowed or not to demand seeing zairyuu cards? Are Japan-based airlines allowed to ask for it? I am just wondering if these are exceptional cases as when we travel overseas we cross borders… We are required to show the passport, so it becomes clear that we are not Japanese nationals… If that makes any sense.

      • What an odd choice of example! The guy has been unwelcome in so many places. Hardly a political thing…though obviously one has to get attention from somebody in power to make this kind of enemy. Read anything he has to say to figure out why.

        • AnonymousOG says:

          Baud’s point stands, now we know: airlines are now surprisingly “passing on the passenger list to the authorities regardless of whether its a transit or not.”

          Meaning, if one is banned from a country, this “passenger list information pass” now prevents one from doing a “not even leaving the airport airplane change”.

          That’s interesting information to know, about the surprising extent of governments now forcing private companies to pass along our private information.

          So we are grateful for that knowledge (thanks Baud) regardless of the irrelevant other opinions of the original source who discovered this information-pass situation.

        • not saying it is political (tho you seem to be), just that low cost carriers are required to submit their passenger list and thus do immigration’s job for them…..thus answering original poster’s query of why they “must” see his resident ID card, etc etc.

          Presumably to see if you are on a blacklist of undesireables, like Roosh V.

          • I suppose you could consider the passenger list being sent to “the authorities” for prevention of terrorism to be also violating some odd sense of privacy. Should a (known or suspected) terrorist choose to enter a country only in transit, that list seems reasonable enough to me (rather than imposing absurd restrictions on carry-ons and footwear to every single passenger). So now I’m conflating the thought police with “terrorists” – my bad. I’m afraid it does not surprise me one bit when there is more than one category of “unwelcome”.
            Personally, I don’t trust Roosh to tell a proper story… I’m sure there are more honest informants out there, quite possibly people who have been treated this way due to a mix up. One hears about the troubles people with similar names get, trying to get their names off of lists. Generally it is a complaint about defects in the list – not that having the list itself is wrong. Most things in life can do with some improvement.

    • Interesting question.
      I would think that they are not demanding it as a requirement for boarding, but rather trying to cover their butts in case a problem arises later. if you provide the card, they feel better. If not, they’ll probably let you board anyway.
      I regularly get asked, in both directions, to show the card, and figure it is easier to do so. I’ll be showing it soon enough – for basically the same purpose. I suppose I’d be a stickler if i knew the exact laws involved.
      I don’t think airlines have “that much” flexibility about refusing service if you have a ticket in hand. Once I was told that I could not fly to Helsinki because I did not have 6 months left on my passport. They were able to be convinced to let me board. When Canada instituted an ESTA like requirement for visa free countries that I was not aware of, however, I was requiresd to deal with that through the airport wifi at Kansai, which left me panicking up to the last minute. I thought I could simplify things carrying only a Japanese passport, but my daughter’s US passport proved its exceptionalism, but it was sitting at home.

      • Yeah, its to cover their butts. They’d rather infringe on your personal rights rather than get in trouble later (for letting a thought criminal like Roosh on the plane, etc).

        I just hope the costlier airlines do not do this as well. That would come under poor customer service.

  • I would like to know about the hotels law in Korea for residents and non-residents. They also asked me to make a photo copy of my passport.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      The police can only ask for your card if they suspect you of s specific crime.
      But the police around Japan have a hibit of telling all sorts of businesses doing business with NJ to ask to see/photocopy the card. To the point where hotels don’t know they are breaking the law by asking to see your card because the police told them it’s ok!

      This is a huge invasion of privacy.
      It’s the police breaking the law and encouraging others to do so.
      It’s a massive ID fraud risk (especially in the era of ‘my number’).
      It’s racial discrimination.

    • My objection (can’t speak for others) is based on having people demand to see it instead of other official forms of ID. I have a driver’s license, health card, and My Number card, all of which are acceptable as ID in Japan.

      I don’t like being singled out and treated differently based on my appearance, I don’t like providing companies with the extra information on a zairyu card, and I don’t like the idea of rules creep that allowing companies to get away with that implies (take it to extremes, and we’ll end up with convenience store clerks checking our ID to see if we are legal or not).

      Now, some people only have their zairyu card or passport as ID. For them choosing to use it is a perfectly reasonable choice. But it should be up to me as the customer to decide which form of acceptable ID I want to provide.

    • Info the Japan Foreigner ID card has, that other Asian Rule of Law country foreigner cards do not:
      1. Your address
      2. Part of your address in country of origin
      3. Your passport number
      4. The name of your employer
      5. Later changes to any of the above if you move, change job, etc.

      WHY ON EARTH would I give all that to a PRIVATE company? No wonder I get so much junk mail in the post box.

  • AnonymousOG says:

    This isn’t OK:
    “Your skin color is dark, relative to the average in this country, you look like you have at least 1% ‘negro’ race in you: show proof you aren’t committing a crime.”

    This isn’t OK:
    “Your nose is big, relative to the average in this country, you look like you have at least 1% ‘jew’ race in you: show proof you aren’t committing a crime.”

    This isn’t OK:
    “Your appearance is different, relative to the average in this country, you look like you have at least 1% ‘gaijin’ race in you: show proof you aren’t committing a crime.”

    The law does NOT require one to show one’s Zairyu visa-status-proof-of-not-comitting-a-visa-crime card, except to police officers who have first seen you do some action which gives them the prerequisite probable-cause-to-suspect-this-individual-is-commiting-a-crime which is required for them to even initiate voluntary questioning (shokumu shitsumon) in the first place.

    So business staff demanding “based on your racial appearance you must show your visa-status-proof card to me (definitely not a police officer with the prerequisite probable cause) or you must get out of this business establishment” is not some mistaken-moral-outrage situation, it is a 100% immoral law violation.

    Such a race-based demand violates the U.N. CERD Treaty which Japan signed and is legally Supreme Law in Japan, so the logical answer to such an illegal race-based demand is, “No, first off you should not even be assuming I am not a Japanese citizen due to racial appearance or accent, I could be a Japanese citizen who simply was raised in another country, don’t assume you can tell citizenship based on racial appearance and don’t assume racial appearance is probable cause of committing some visa crime, secondly Japan signed the U.N. CERD Treaty which is legally Supreme Law of Japan so it is illegal to treat a person differently based on racial appearance, thirdly according to the laws of Japan only police officers with prerequisite probable cause can demand to see the Zairyu visa-status-proof card, and fourthly you thanks to the U.N. CERD Treaty you are putting the owner of this company into the risk of the courts of Japan financially penalizing your ‘based on racial appearance get out of this business establishment’ action as seen in the successful Ana Bortz court case and the successful Arudō Debito court case, so for you to avoid the courts of Japan from forcing you to pay millions of yen in financial penalties: immediately STOP the race-base entry-denial action which you committed (and stop that race-based demand-to-see-visa-status-proof demand-with-the-threat-of-entry-denial action which you committed) and simply treat all customers the same regardless of racial appearance. Thank you”

    Equal treatment regardless of racial appearance: pretty simple stuff, really. 🙂

  • Thank you all for commenting on my original post/inquiry.
    I still do not understand what information my Zairyuu card has that my passport does not have. My passport, a valid, official document issued by my government has a sticker in it that was issued and validated by the Japanese government. The passport shows who I am, my nationality, and the sticker shows that I am a permanent resident of Japan. What else should I prove to the airline?
    If I were banned from a country, that fact would not show in my zairyuu card at all. So, what is the point, I still wonder.
    In addition, if you are not a (permanent) resident of Japan, you as a foreigner do not even have a Zairyuu card. Therefore, you do not need to show it. You only show your passport and can fly to Japan, if you have a visa in your passport or are visa-free.
    It looks like you are seen as more of a risk and checked more carefully if you are a permanent resident than a random visitor. That is what I do not see as logical nor fair.
    Again, it is repetitive, but I want to make a point–nothing in my Zaryuu card is saying whether I am banned or not from Japan, and the card does not contain information that is not already included in my passport.
    The airline could still submit the list of passengers and my information based on my passport alone.
    In my case, it was not only LCCs that requested to see the card.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Your passport is a document issued by a presumably nefarious ‘foreign’ government (oooh, its even written in a dodgy foreign language). All Japanese know gaikoku is abunai.
      Your zairyuu card is written entirely in kokugo (whew, what a relief! No pesky English or something), and was issued by the all knowing, all entrustable ‘erai hito’ who work for the Japanese government.

      You’re not really getting the depth of institutional racism at play here at all, I think.

      • Thank you for the comment.
        However, I am mainly referring to the “foreign” (er… non-Japanese) staff of foreign (non-Japan based) airlines. They cannot even read the Japanese language, so the information they can gather from a Zairyuu card is very limited.
        Again, the “visa” (a permanent residency sticker) in my passport is actually issued and validated _by Japan_. It is written in both English and Japanese, just like most information in the Zairyuu card.
        On the way back from overseas, Japanese immigration does not even ask me for my Zairyuu card anymore (judging from my last 4 trips abroad). They just check the passport.
        Foreign airline staff overseas want to see it and they do not think that the visa in the passport is enough.

        • Jim Di Griz says:

          Ok, let’s try this;

          Them asking to look at it is breaking the law.
          The Japanese police telling them to ask is the police breaking the law.

        • It seems the Japanese government has instructed those non-Japan airline companies to “get copies of the Zairyuu Cards (or at least write down the Zairyuu Card numbers) and send that information to Japan’s immigration officers, perhaps by e-mail, perhaps by fax, and Japan’s immigration officers thus have a chance (if they check the information quick enough and make a call quick enough) to turn away marked–for-entry-denial folks even before they board the plane heading towards Japan.”

          So, it seems those non-Japan airline company owners are telling their staff, “The government of Japan wants this pre-boarding screening Zairyuu card information to be sent to them before letting any non-Japanese citizens onto the plane, so be firm about this, since we depend on the government of Japan for the privilege of continuing to send our airplanes to Japan’s airports.”

          So, Japan’s immigration officers are forcing/fooling airline companies into being immigration “deputy helpers” who then force/fool private individuals into doing something which by law the private individuals don’t really have to do (namely, showing the Zairyuu card to an airline) and this illegal coercion is succeeding since the airline staff simply repeat their script: “the government of Japan requires us to do this, if you don’t show us your Zairyuu card we ‘can’t’ (won’t) allow you to get on the plane.”

          This situation is just like the Hotels in Japan situation, in which Japan’s police officers are forcing/fooling hotel companies into being police “deputy helpers” who then force/fool private individuals into doing something which by law the private individuals don’t really have to do (namely, showing the Zairyuu card to a hotel) and this illegal coercion often succeeds since the hotel staff simply repeat their script: “the government of Japan requires us to do this, if you don’t show us your Zairyuu card we ‘can’t’ (won’t) allow you to stay at this hotel.”

          In the case of a hotel, strong people can win the argument and check in without showing anything by using “Japan Hotel Law prevents refusing a room to someone who has already written their name address and profession on the check-in paper” stance, and one can even use the “why are you even assuming I’m not a Japanese citizen” stance if you want.

          But this airline coercion is more difficult to argue against, because #1 the airlines demand everyone’s passport which prevents one from using the “why are you even assuming I’m not a Japanese citizen” stance, and #2 there unfortunately doesn’t seem to be a “airlines must allow anyone with money on the airplane” law, so one cannot take that stance either.

          In your case, the whole thing is illogical since you are a permanent resident of Japan with a sticker in your passport to prove it, but that matters not to the staff who are simply repeating, “I don’t care about logic, I have orders from my boss” and the airline owners who are simply repeating, “I don’t care about logic or fairness, I have orders from the government of Japan (given in some official-appearing memo, with some official-sounding supposedly ‘correctly translated, correctly paraphrased’ [but not really] law. or some supposedly overriding life-saving goal) and my goal is to continue to profit from sending planes to Japan, and I depend upon the blessing of Japan bureaucrat’s permission to continue my goal, so…”

          So, I guess you have to A) become a Japanese citizen, or B) show the airlines-acting-as-immigration-deputies your Zairyuu card, or C) stop using airlines.

          We feel you Nina, this “Show us your Zairyuu card or you can’t ride our planes” coercion is possibly illegal and definitely illogical and unfair, absolutely.

    • “I still do not understand what information my Zairyuu card has that my passport does not have.
      I dont recall my passport having my employers name/address or even my current (or previous) address!

      • My Zairyuu card does not have my employer’s name nor any employment related information included. I am a permanent resident of Japan, so maybe that information is not included in the card for PRs?
        In any case, the airline staff OVERSEAS was not be able to read that information anyway.
        In the passport, the sticker with the information about my Permanent Resident status is the same as in the card, written both in English and Japanese.

    • I believe the airline staff have been told to check the validity of zairyu cards (expiration date) as we would not be able to enter Japan with an expired card. That is the specific thing the ones I have spoken to mentioned.

      After getting into a couple of pointless arguments, I am now willing to show them the expiry date without handing the card over.

  • I forgot to add that in the past six months after returning from overseas visits, at Narita and Haneda, Japanese immigration officers never checked my Zairyuu card. They only checked my passport. On the way out of Japan, however, I did show my card.

  • @Baud,
    I get the burei Japanese retorts, I was in that lane for some time. Im kind of done with that. I just answer back in English “What did you say to me” This direct approach takes many Wajin by surprise and puts the ball in your court, I dont reccomend showing that your pera pera, it has the opposite effect, its indirect and puts the Wajin at an advantage to show they are in a superior position. Been there done that; does not work

    Recently I have been enjoying asking the newbie gaijin, you know the ones, just in bliss, jogging around, about what they like so much about Japan. One lady from the US said “oh! its just a beautiful country!” I said, “yes America is too!” She looked at me with disgust and run away.

    You know its just bizarre, this world we live in, because Japanese can be hyper nationalistic when abroad, but when an American is just a bit nationalistic when abroad about our country, oh no, thats not to be. I just dont get the disconnect.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Mike, that’s kind of interesting, because I kind of do the same thing. Unless I’m the customer in the dynamic, I avoid using Japanese in ‘confrontations’. Mainly because as a customer, it’s a big risk for them to get difficult with me, but for the average Japanese out and about, my use of Japanese in confrontational situations seems to almost serve as a challenge to them; like they have to test the limits of my Japanese language knowledge with obscure words and forms to reassure themselves that;
      A) Japanese is ‘really really difficult’ and only ‘unique’ Japanese brains can get it, and,
      B) ‘Win’ the confrontation by putting me in a situation where I didn’t understand something (cue smug smile of racial superiority).

      Therefore I usually use English. At that point they almost always say ‘This is Japan! Speak Japanese’ (in some combination of Japlish/Engrish) and I tell that ‘this is Japan that lost the war’ in Japanese just to watch their blood pressure rise for ruining my day.

      Ever since Abe became PM, but especially over the last couple of years, I’m finding going out in public in Japan to be an ever-increasing hassle of micro-aggressions, comments, and verbal abuse from random older men, and I’ve been here almost 20 years.

      • That’s an interesting tactic.
        I absolutely refuse to speak English with anyone, ever.
        Even other minorities or Americans.
        ( is one of the few places I use English anymore.)
        You might find it belligerent or offensive perhaps, but it completely shuts down any excuses for Wajin to speak English at me.
        I also think it’s important for Wajin to understand they have no exclusive license on the language.
        It’s Japan, anyone can speak Japanese if they want.

        On that note, I do take a cue from the buffoons you’re describing, and return the favor. It is extraordinarily satisfying to use words they don’t understand against them, to ask them questions about Japanese or Japanese geography and watch them squirm. It’s just as effective at getting their blood pressure to rise when they walk into a situation and realize the lowly gaijin knows more about Japan/Japanese than the “pure-blooded nipponjin.”
        For example,
        “Oh, you can read kanji!”
        “Yes, more than you.”
        This is one of my favorites.

        I get the comments, micro-aggressions, and verbal abuse mainly from younger men. Guys in their 20s and 30s. This goes to prove that the younger Japanese are not more open-minded, as many Wajin, especially Wajin who speak English, are apt to claim.

        On the contrary, young people, even small children, are still throwing around the slur gaijin or spitting out garbled English nonsense. By college age, they have lost their humility and internalized victim mentality and will act accordingly if corrected for their rudeness.

        But, then again, the education system has not improved or changed in any meaningful way, so why should we expect younger people to be more open-minded or cognizant?

        They are still reading nihonjinron propaganda in language arts class, they are still being taught to speak English at visible minorities, they are still being taught to use the slur “skin color” to describe the color “peach,” they are still hearing the world around them described in terms of “Japanese” and “foreigners,” with no attempt to acknowledge the reality of the diversity of both groups.

        They still see on TV that “foreigners” cannot communicate in Japanese, they still see names of “foreigners” written in katakana, they still hear mixed-race people or people of mixed ethnic backgrounds labeled as “half” and “quarter,” and they are being taught that their minority classmates are “foreigners.” When they go to the station, there is a poster on the wall published by the government advising them to call out to “troubled foreigners” in English.

        All the change has to start with children, from a young age, and needs to be conveyed by minority people to the greatest degree possible. And of course, we need to use Japanese to do it. English will not save this country.

  • @JIm, kudos for ‘this is Japan that lost the war’ in Japanese”, I wouldnt go that far, most I ve said is “Kempeitai ka?” I would probably just say, “doesnt Japan follow America?” Or “Is this North Korea?” etc.

    I am not going to talk to these people (to paraphrase both Tropic Thunder and Schindlers List ironically), so I just keep it down to one worders. As I walk off. I just need to give their negative energy right back at them.

    And I used to think that Japan was a “positive” place. Seems full of Negatrons these days.

    I have seen Japanese argue on the train over who pushed who etc, its always over in seconds, the oyaji kind of just snarl at each other for a second before settling down again into the oblivion of the dreamy day or the entropy of the macdonaldized(Ritzer)/over rationalized “life that holds no surprises” (Weber).

    Only chimpira or delinquent youth are genuinely interested in a real fight for the most part, usually fuelled by alcohol and gang of buddies. Watch out for them, but dont fear the Oyaji- they have a lot to lose.

  • @Baud & Jim,

    Different things bother different folks I guess, and it of course depends on what level of stress and bullying you have experienced for that day, but the racist oyaji, doesnt bother me anymore, well most of the time. I actually kind of welcome it. You have to remember that that Japanese are very sensitive to what others (not gaijin) think of them, so I use that to my advantage. “Oi, konayaro!” Umm, can you please explain to me what he is saying? I will ask the bystander Japanese. Suddenly Mr. Obnoxious is in a different position now. I just outsource his problem to somebody else.


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