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Hi Blog. From time to time Debito.org gets sent information from NJ residents being harassed by Japanese officialdom and businesses for the most basic things. Such as checking into a hotel or using a bank. Or being treated as objects of mistrust in official “Blame Games”. Or being demanded unnecessary steps just to live their daily lives or conduct regular business. It encourages racial profiling even further, in addition to what you already have at Japan’s hotels and other public accommodation, police instant ID checkpoints, and tax agencies. (See here too).
Such as the following case below, where Chugoku Bank is demanding a Visa Check in order to maintain (not open; maintain) a bank account. (In their words, “we have elected to confirm the period of stay for customers whose period of stay and other details have not been confirmed” Meaning their nosying into somebody’s visa status is not even under the pretense of some legal requirement.) And of course, in this era of identity theft that even foreign governments warn you against, Chugoku Bank wants to make a photocopy of the person’s ID, it turns out, for no reason whatsoever but reflex.
As “immigrants are not to be trusted” mindsets proliferate around democracies worldwide, remember where many of them take their cues from: Japan. PM Abe, remember, is “Trump before Trump“, and even Abe had his antecedents. Another milepost on the march towards normalized ethnostatism worldwide. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
Subject: Being made to show my gaijin card to my bank
Date: December 12, 2019
I recently got the attached postcard from my bank. It says that I have to go in and verify that I am in the country legally to keep using my bank account.
(click on image to expand in your browser)
I went in today and they wanted to make a photocopy of my card. Is this legal? They claimed that they are doing so at the request of the government, which I’m sure is true, and that they need a copy for “filing”, which I am not sure is true.
I told them that the card can usually only be requested by a police officer or an immigration agent. I finally relented only after they explained that they also photocopy other customer’s driver’s licenses. I offered my driver’s license, but they declined. I noticed that other than my visa status (PR), there is really no info on there that they don’t already have.
Who is in the right here, legally?
You may use my story on your site, there must be other people getting this kind of notice from their banks. Initials DF is fine.
Do you know of the specific law that states who may or may not request or copy a zairyuu card? I tried to look, but didn’t find it.
I want to email Chugoku Bank’s head office and try to get them to change their policy at all of the banks, not just my branch. I also want my photocopy returned to me.
I don’t begrudge the workers at the branch, the teller tried to make a copy, I stopped her and she said that the postcard mentioned a copy. We looked at it together and it doesn’t say anything about a copy. She immediately bailed out to a higher authority and I saw that man make a phone call. He then called me over to a private side booth to talk to me. Everybody was professional and polite, but they were just given the wrong information.
If I can quote the law to them and get a reply, I can give a follow-up for your blog.
Thank you for your assistance, DF
From Debito: Hi DF. You are still in the right, legally. The thing is, the laws I have (the Gaitouhou) pertain to the old Gaijin Card, which is very clear who can inspect the Gaijin Card. Only police, Immigration Officials, and MOJ representatives.
“The Foreign Registry Law, Section 13, Clause 2. Foreigners, when asked to show their Gaijin Cards by immigration investigation officials (as outlined in separate laws), police, coast guard, or any other national or local public official or group empowered by the Ministry of Justice as part of the execution of their duties, must show.” https://www.debito.org/instantcheckpoints2.html
Now that the Gaitouhou is no more, I’m not sure what the new laws are. I can’t seem to find them either. I’ve asked around, but gotten no response. I’m not a lawyer, so it’s time for the legal experts to weigh in, as they have done (in our favor) in terms of ID checks of NJ residents of Japan at hotels.
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32 comments on “DF on Chugoku bank unlawfully demanding to check NJ customers’ visa stay durations and photocopy their Gaijin Cards, or face discontinuation of service”
Fukuoka Bank is doing it too, had to do it two weeks ago, to not loose my bank account. At least I got them to send it via their internal (presumably) safe transmit system, rather than normal snail mail.
I had the same experience at Fukuoka bank. I have had the account for a long time and it is the first time they have requested this information. I went in to a branch to straighten things out. I offered my drivers licence and they wouldn’t accept it. I offered them a juminhyo but they wouldn’t accept it. In the end I had to give in as they repeated the threat that they would lock the account.
The staff were polite and reasonable about it but the bank’s rules are problematic.
I had a similar experience with JA (Japan Agriculture – Nokyo). I have accounts at other banks, so told them that I would no longer need their services, and closed the account. My (Japanese) wife, who usually sides with whatever authority (real or otherwise), has had bad experiences with JA as well, so in this case she had no problem with just closing the account.
Now with this posting, I am afraid that other banks will start doing something similar. I hope that some of those legal experts out there will inform us.
I got something similar from the JA Bank (former Nokyo) and to my surprise, it came with an English form they wanted me to fill out giving all sorts of personal info like place of employment, family member info, what I intend to purchase in the future, along with copies of visa status, ARC, and passport.
I went in and closed the account instead of giving them any of what they wanted.
>>To expedite the transactions for our customers, we decided to ask those whose status(i.e, duration of stay) is unconfirmed for ID verification.
Oh, I get it. So, this bank is admitting that they didn’t actually pay attention to the information in any legal documents (including a zairyuu card) at the outset? I believe they may have some(or many) occasions to check a zairyuu card–even though they don’t ask for it (or NJ clients are not fully obligated to produce it). Their statement sounds fishy in this part (especially in the moment of rejecting “driver’s license” as a valid form of ID, and teller’s inability to tell accurately what it says in the Japanese postcard), since it’s easy for many banks to say, “this is what the government asks us to do” kind of line as their justification for unnecessary NJ profiling.
Even if they have some rights to check information in zairyuu card for ID verification, that moment should be limited to new clients and/or certain transactions that require ID verification such as housing loan, mutual funds, stocks/bonds, etc.Obviously, that’s not what’s happening here. It’s kind of like saying, “Japanese government is legalizing corporate ID theft in the name of immigration control.”
Everything that looks seemingly professional and polite in a situation like this is called “feigned politeness.” That’s quite common in Japanese business culture. Don’t fall for that.
This is apparently a new policy from the Financial Services Agency that requires institutions to ‘know their customers’. Many are interpreting it in this way, with a check on residence status that they may not have performed in the past. As the only documents that show residence status are zairyu cards and the printout of zairyu card information, that is what many banks are requiring.
I have received this request from Monex Securities, but not from Rakuten Securities or Shinsei Bank (yet).
I’m normally pretty militant about this kind of thing (with hotels, fitness clubs, etc.), but my take on this instance is that it probably isn’t worth fighting. Pretty much all banks and financial institutions will get around to doing this at some point.
Well, this is *sure* to attract those ‘elite gaijin’ and ‘make Japan the easiest place in the world to do business’ that Abe claims to want!
I noticed that BBC News had to interview Abe cheerlead Jesper Koll today about Japan’s recession. I guess it’s not only NJ Japanese speaking journalists, but literally any NJ connected to Japanese banking and business living in Japan that also cannot be found…
They don’t exist.
They all left after the Tohoku disaster to live in HK and Singapore.
They aren’t coming back.
Japan is the proverbial ‘lights are on, but nobody’s home’.
Dr. Debito predicted this in a JBC years ago about Japan swinging back into self-imposed isolation.
The ‘dream’ appears to be a two-caste solution like Dubai; nationals hold all the power, rights and entitlement, whilst imported and heavily ‘policed’ (officially and unofficially) NJ do all the heavy-lifting and dirty-work.
Seriously, ‘what do you intend to buy?’! WTAF?!? Who the hell needs to know? Why? You can buy anything legally for sale (except Nissan!) as an NJ. Like illegal police checks, and hotel checks, it’s typical fascist police state seeking to accumulate information because the idea of authority not knowing SOMETHING is an anathema to this society. You can trust authority because it’s authority tautology at work.
I think the wording was something along the lines of: “Do you plan to make any large purchases (that you might want to borrow money from us for)? I guess combining their marketing with the info gathering.
The Old Alien Registration Card Law & the New Zairyu Law
both contain the vital Limiting Qualifier which I discovered:
“Must show any officer: WHEN he is obeying Duties Laws.”
But like the constitution, the law only limits Public workers.
Private individuals+companies are NOT limited by that law.
Hotel Law limits lodging refusals: other than that, no limit.
Meaning no law against companies refusing your business.
Japan has no Civil Rights Law to limit a company’s actions.
You can only try suing for EmotionalDamages in civil court.
(& use Tetsuro Sō’s “ICERD in effect” ruling as precedent.)
(& note winning using “ICERD” prevents appeal attempts.)
Since you honestly opened the account as a non-J-citizen,
you must either (A) bend over & allow copy of visa proof,
or (B) realize you don’t need any bank account to survive.
Labor Law requires employers to pay cash if you demand:
If truly worried about Identity Theft, you can just Opt out.
You don’t truly NEED banks, or cell phones, in my opinion:
Especially since the effective interest rate is 0%, or even negative percent.
I work for a financial firm and am familiar with these institutions going beyond the letter of the law to placate what they believe the desires of government bureaucrats to be.
I have an account at Prestia which I rarely use, and was asked this, with the zairyu card specifically named, so I asked them to cite the law that required it. Turns out that what they’re really being instructed to do is make sure the addresses of their customers are correct. (What is specific to non-Japanese is that supposedly dormant non-Japanese accounts have been hijacked by scammers to move illicit money around, unbeknownst to the holder, who has long since left Japan.)
The helpful Prestia representative informed me that they are putting account holders into risk categories, and account holders who can’t show that they “live and work in Japan” (日本で働いて生活している) will be put in the highest-risk category, which means greater scrutiny for them when they send money overseas.
Citing my own desire to keep personal information private, I offered to present my health insurance card, which clearly indicated my employment with a Japanese corporation, and everything was fine.
Compared to the hotel situation where clerks are demanding identification, at a financial institution like a bank it’s a lot harder for a casual scammer looking to commit identity fraud to get a hold of a customer’s ID. They get locked away, password protected, et cetera, with severe punishments for employees who illegally access that info.
But, similarly to the hotel situation, if someone with access to the ID wants to commit fraud, the odds that the immigrant specifically will be chosen as the victim are a lot higher: at a hotel, 90% of guests don’t have to reveal any private info, and 9% (foreign tourists) have to write down their passport numbers, which a scammer can’t do much with, but that unlucky 1% who hand over alien cards for photocopying are certain to be the unlucky ones chosen if the hotel staff is up to no good.
With banks, the vast majority of customers don’t have valid
ID on file with the bank. They submit something valid once, when opening the account, and in a few years at most, that ID expires. No inside thief can do much with it. But if immigrants are being forced to hand over copies of their zairyu cards every time they update their visas then that means that this class of customer, and only this class, will always have valid, steal-able ID on file with the bank. This puts them in more danger than the average customer, and there is no reason why one class of customer should be put in this situation.
So you’re saying that they are making the problem worse by creating further opportunity for gaijin identities to be stolen which leads to further hidden identity money laundering (by, let’s face it, probably Japanese people).
I will try and draw that to my bank’s attention if they ask me for it.
Mizuho has already asked for a copy of my card. I don’t do any international transfers with my Mizuho account. The only reason I have that account is to repay my housing loan to them. There is no other activity in that account. Yet they threatened to close the if I didn’t fill in their form.
Are they stupid?
They might hope you don’t comply, then hey will have an excuse to close the account and foreclose on your mortgage. Then they can auction off your house, collect the insurance on a non performing loan and come out ahead vs the measly pittance of interest they are getting on their loan to you. Meanwhile you are on the street. Believe me they have this all figured out and never lose.
This is no ‘whataboutism’ excuse for Japan, but this is way that things are turning in the financial world in all major economies. Citibank USA, knowing that I am not a US national and I opened my accounts using a Japanese address (with proof of address) many years ago, periodically ask me to send them notary certification of who I am; Y15,000 a shot to get the documentation. Also my wife, who is not a UK national, cannot be a joint account holder of my UK bank accounts, without a UK visa giving her proof of abode in the UK. Any Brit knows the problem involved with that, especially since she has no intention of living in the UK. Totally agree, this new Japanese banking policy seems unfair, but a 10 yen photocopy is a lot cheaper than what the Yanks’ and Brits’ banks are demanding; suck it up.
— Okay. But isn’t there a difference between a) opening a foreign account in a foreign bank and not being a resident of that foreign bank’s country, and b) opening a domestic account in a domestic bank and being a resident of that domestic bank’s country, while simply being a foreign resident of that domestic bank’s country? We don’t see the same rigmarole for Wajin residents of Japan in the same situation. No?
It is not the duty of the bank (or other businesses) to check the validity or duration of a visa. It is solely the business of the Japanese government and ministerial organs empowered by the Ministry of Justice in the course of their duties.
Expanding it further than that encourages racial profiling on the part of untrained private-sector flunkeys on a power bender. As I discovered many times in the past as a longtime Japanese customer in a Japanese bank who kept getting calls to verify my identity etc. basically because I had an unusual name.
No need to suck it up. Every need to demand equal service.
Readers who click Debito’s link above about his experience with Hokkaido Bank will see Debito’s letter of complaint which led to a letter of apology from the bank.
That same link also mentions Olaf’s experience with Hokkaido Bank as well, and though Olaf’s original letter link is no longer up, luckily it was archived, so here is a working link of Olaf’s letter of complaint (written with help from his wife and from Debito) which also led to a letter of apology from the bank:
These letters of complaint altruistically shared by Debito, should be used as a template, since they have led to letters of apology.
Letters of apology from the kagaisha (the perpetrators guilty of having violated the Japan-signed-and-ratified U.N. ICERD Treaty International Law) becomes valuable written evidence of the companies’ actions, written evidence which might even help victims win civil court lawsuits for the very real emotional damage suffered when treated differently based on race or nationality.
If you really want to experience the equivalent of a financial rectal exam, go into a bank and try to do a wire transfer overseas. I did this recently at my local JP Bank where I have had an account for over twenty years, and you would think I was going to personally undermine the entire Japan financial system by sending some money overseas.
Not only did I have to give them every bit of financial information about where the money I was sending came from (working for wages) but I had to explain in great detail WHAT IT WAS GOING TO BE USED FOR.
Holy smoke. I am not a bitcoin fan, but I may become one.
TransferWise has been an excellent alternative for me. Once it is set up you can do transfers to new payees/countries in minutes online in English.
Last time I tried it the website said it wasn’t available in Japan. I’ll have to recheck. How about transfers into Japan from overseas? Are banks still flagging any amount greater than 300,000 yen (when you can legally bring in $10,000 US or equivalent w/o declaring it?
— Debito here. I’ve been receiving word from others offlist about how they’re being contacted for visa checks too. One, whom I’ll call YZ, sends this word. It might be a template for Debito.org Readers:
YZ (July 2019): So here’s something new. According to this letter I have to show my Zairyu card for this credit union…
Debito: Hi there, YZ. Yes, I’ve heard about this sort of thing. These two links show the creeping racial profiling beyond the police in Japan.
Debito: Ignore the letter. You don’t have to comply with this request. And if they get shitsukoi, then ask them to show you the text of the actual law that applies to you. In writing. Don’t deal with these people in any other way. Not in person, not by phone. Written record only.
YZ (March 2020): Thanks for the post about the banks. I took your advice and never spoke with the bank manager even though he came to my house 3 times. I wrote letters. They have not written to me in about 3 months now.
Debito: Ignore the letter. Don’t deal with these people in any other way. Not in person, not by phone. Written record only.
This is similar to the advice a few years back about not answering the door in case it is immigration or the police doing an intrusive spot check on racially profiled foreign residents.
I have noticed for some time people in Tokyo rarely answer the door or phone if it is unexpected.
So my point is, unless you’re being paid large amounts to remain, why stay in Japan if it amounts to such absurd isolation and no meaningful interaction? Such a lonely place where no one can be trusted and nothing said can be believed.
Still, should bode well for COVID 19 self isolation practices!
This (aside from hikkikomori being uniquely suited to surviving a pandemic), is the guiding principle for life in Japan (IMHO) – how much time has to be wasted in interaction with others and how to avoid it?
I got tired of shooing waiters away from me when they serve my food and then lean across me to place their (presumably rinsed in cold water without soap) fingertips centimeters from each thing on my plate whilst they tell me what it is. I know what it is, I ordered it.
Or using twenty five words when one will do.
Or answering ‘yes/no’ questions with a rambling speech designed to avoid communicating an actual answer to the question.
Who has time for this?
No wonder even the Japanese find their own culture ‘mendou’.
Watching fax and hanko dependent Japan attempt to ignore Covid-19 is interesting; what’s going to happen when they’re all forced to work from home?
This should be a wake up call, but I doubt it. No doubt incredibly poorly designed websites will continue to stumble along on Windows 95.
This post and discussion have opened my eyes. I got the request from Kumamoto Bank but not from Higo Bank, for some reason. I was irked by the fact that the address to which I had to send my replay had the title 犯罪対策 (“anti-crime” or “measures against crime”). I’ve had an account with these people for almost 30 years and not caused them any problems so I found it rather unpleasant to have to send my information to a department with that name.
I went to JP Bank today to withdraw some funds. First of all I had to answer about 8 questions on a police form mostly relating to whether I was being coersed by someone to withdraw funds for some nefarious reason. The next to last question was memorable for some reason. It asked if someone was demanding payment for a purchase of a stock. The one before that was whether someone was demanding payment for damages supposedly incurred. Interesting enough, but then the final question which was the pasty resistence…This money you have that you are withdrawing… What are you going to use it for? Are you going to buy something? The serf suggested, as if this would be an acceptable response. This was a verbal only question and required the serf to fill out a box at the bottom of the form.
I gave them my honest answer: The world financial system is on the brink of collapsing, I explained, and I am worried about the solvency of not only this bank, but all banks worldwide, and in fact the entire global economic system, in my humble opinion of course.
I expected them to call the police, and I waited patiently to be taken away for reeducation. After about 20 minutes two other serfs escorted me to a private counter where to my surprise they gave me MY money. Wasn’t that precious. Will wonders never cease.
Some months ago I got a similar notification from my bank.
They asked me to send a copy of my documents otherwise my account could be stopped. The notification was informing that they were carrying out these verifications as a measure to counter terrorism in Japan.
What surprised me the most was that they were asking for copies of koseki for those that have naturalized Japanese. For Japanese-born people it was only asked for a copy of their driver’s license.
I was furious, of course. So I asked many colleagues if they had got the same notification. No surprise: none of them had.
I made a complaint to the human resources in the company I am working. They understood my situation and called the bank on my behalf.
After some minutes I got an apology phone call from the bank’s branch manager.
While talking to him, I took the opportunity to mention that as none of my coworkers had received this notification, it was clearly a case of prejudice against foreigners and even Japanese Nationals (those who have naturalized). I also mentioned that the bank is probably violating the Japanese Constitution when discriminating against Japanese Nationals on the basis of previous nationality. He apologized again.
I have neither sent them any documents nor got any such notifications after that.
Hope they got the message and stopped sending it to others too.
Kudos sir. I also got similar letters from juucho and other private banks, months ago. Maybe I would have done the same as you if my Japanese was more fluent. I ignored, nothing has changed, still got the accounts open and running,…
Well, when I applied for a loan with Chiba Bank, I was asked to provide my resident card (which is fair enough to be honest). About a year later I was asked for it again as part of a “periodical check of residence status”, or somehing to that effect.
I told them that they had alrady confirmed that I’m on a PR visa and since it’s permanent, they should only have to do so once.
After some toing and froing, they actually apologized to me and said don’t worry about it. Kind of bad that they asked me in the first place, but it was good that they at least relented and apologised.
Some months ago, I received letters from JA Bank Aichi requesting a copy of my zairyu card. I’ve ignored them without consequence. I’ve found this strategy to be effective in such situations in Japan.
Japan now is… everyone ignoring every communication, unsolicited or otherwise. The police coming round at 8 am “just to check who lives here”, the newspaper sales, etc have all conspired to make Japan a culture of anti communication and obfuscation.
Try greeting your Tokyoite neighbor in the elevator, the one you see everyday but never get a reply out of. Well, you might get lucky with a grunted response.
I have actually had friends ignore me on the street until I was literally in their faces. Ditto the guy who failed his driving test overseas due to lack of eye contact (explains why a truck almost ran me down; he didnt see me at all out the side mirror).
The tactic of ignoring has in fact been recognized as a historical one in textbooks on Japan (sorry, dont have link now) that when faced with a superior opponent or outside offer, one should ignore them until they offer more favorable terms.
This is just it taken to its hyperreal extremes.
Had the same thing with Kiyobank in Wakayama. I already have a home loan with them so they definitely have all my data and I begrudgingly went there and complained and told them it was discrimination, but with a home loan I don’t want extra problems. But I did make them apologies and spent the time to make them run around and bow till they ate dirt because they wanted to see my Japanese wifes zairyu card; I turned it on them and made them eat their own shameful actions of calling a Japanese person a gaijin. Alas its really useless at that level, the real culprits still don’t care.
I got a card from the Yamanashi Chuo Bank earlier this week and went in yesterday (8/28/20) with the documents they requested. Gaijin card, Passbook, Cash Card, and the communication from the bank. I gave them what they wanted and left. I got a call from the assistant branch manager later that afternoon and he requested that he come to my house with some additional forms for me to fill out and sign. He came later that evening with some forms regarding FACTA and they wanted to know everything about my US tax filing history. I declined to provide it including ss # and copies of past US filings. He had a bunch of other forms for me to sign but they all depended on my filling out the first FACTA information form so he said there was nothing more to do. I asked him if my account was going to be closed (fine with me) but he said not now. They were (supposedly) only concerned with the expiration date on my alien registration card for the time being.
I think they are just gathering information in case the US tax authorities decide to take them to court and make them pay a hefty fine for supposedly laundering money for US citizens. After all the fines are FAR more than any amount they could possibly collect from some iterant foreigner. My wife got a call from another bank similar to mine and they hung up when they found out she was not a even US citizen. She does go by my last name which is why she was flagged for suspicion I suspect.
Apparently this “banks acting like deputy immigration” is based upon this document by the Financial Services Agency (kin’yūchō). Looks like another government agency encouraging ultra vires.
Somehow the link above doesn’t work. Here’s the URL: