My SNA Visible Minorities column 18: “Latest visa rules could purge any foreigner” (Jan 18, 2021), on how Covid countermeasures disproportionately target Non-Japanese against all science or logic

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Hi Blog. My latest SNA column’s point is this: Even after political leadership has finally shed Shinzo Abe, the Japanese government has found new ways to discriminate against foreign residents of Japan. This is no accident, as NJ were in no way protected, considered, or involved in this policymaking that profoundly affects them.  Soon, any foreign resident of Japan may be under threat of immediate deportation. Excerpt follows, full article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/01/18/visible-minorities-latest-visa-rules-could-purge-any-foreigner/  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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“Latest visa rules could purge any foreigner”

Shingetsu News Agency, Visible Minorities column 18, January 18, 2021

[…] New year, new salvo of foreigner bashing: Last week, the Suga administration unveiled re-entry rules that permit non-Japanese residents to re-enter the same as Japanese, as long as they completed the same paperwork and fourteen-day quarantine.

Good, but here’s the wrinkle: If you are found in violation of any quarantine regulations, you don’t just get in trouble like Japanese by, err, having your name made public. You may lose your visa status and get deported from the country. You read that right.

This policy was in reaction to the discovery of the United Kingdom mutation of Covid within Japan this month. But like most policy created in times of shock, it has hasty assumptions: that a foreign variant meant that foreigners were somehow responsible. In fact, the Patient Zeroes who came back from England and went out partying instead of quarantining were Japanese.

This new policy is ironic. In addition to the past year of Japanese media blaming foreigners for creating “foreign clusters,” it also ignores the lazy government response to Covid. Nobody at the national level wanted to take the responsibility for declaring a blanket state of emergency. But since infections have now reached record numbers, here comes the crackdown—and once again foreigners are being disproportionately targeted.

Granted, the government is now threatening to mete out jail time and fines for Japanese who don’t cooperate with measures to reduce Covid’s spread. This has occasioned the perfunctory hand-wringing about the effectiveness of punishment in curbing infections and “infringing too much on personal freedoms” for Japanese. I see that as part of the healthy give-and-take of political debate, to make sure things don’t go too far. But where is the parallel debate about the “freedoms” of non-Japanese residents who are receiving unequal treatment under the law?

A Japanese getting a fine or a spell in the clink is one thing, but it’s incomparable to a foreigner losing their legal status gleaned after years or decades of residency, followed by deportation and permanent separation from their lives, livelihoods, and families in Japan.

We know that one of the reasons Covid became a pandemic is because of asymptomatic transmission. So what if a person who doesn’t know they’re sick and hasn’t left the country gets linked to a cluster by contact tracing? If that somebody happens to be a foreigner, his or her life in Japan may well be over…

Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/01/18/visible-minorities-latest-visa-rules-could-purge-any-foreigner/
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12 comments on “My SNA Visible Minorities column 18: “Latest visa rules could purge any foreigner” (Jan 18, 2021), on how Covid countermeasures disproportionately target Non-Japanese against all science or logic

  • I was also concerned about the arbitrary and extrajudicial punishment for something that is not a crime, more for the precedent and the way of thinking it exposes.

    However, it specifically only applies to people that enter Japan and sign a pledge to abide by quarantine rules. It could not currently be used on random non-Japanese residents who have not recently entered the country.

    — Source on that?

    Reply
  • It specifically only applies to people that enter Japan and sign a pledge to abide by quarantine rules. It could not currently be used on random non-Japanese residents who have not recently entered the country.
    Why do you say it can purge anyone?

    — See my article for why. Also see my response to Sendaiben, who provided primary sources for the policy.

    Reply
  • The pledge: https://www.mofa.go.jp/files/100136939.pdf
    Government policy doc: https://corona.go.jp/news/pdf/mizugiwataisaku_20210113_01.pdf

    — Thanks for the links. I still say wait and see.

    I understand from Source 1 that a pledge is to be taken with the understanding by the signer that those punishments will happen (which remain fundamentally different in scale based upon nationality). However, I’m not sure from Source 2 that the punishments “specifically ONLY apply to people that enter Japan and sign a pledge to abide by quarantine rules”, not to anyone else.

    If you could point out the text that says in effect “this rule only applies to re-entrants”, that would be helpful. Thanks. But it would be kinda atypical for the Japanese government to explicitly limit its power in writing like that.

    Reply
    • Dr. Arudō, to be fair, the text does specifically state 「誓約に違反した場合」when describing the “revocation of permission to stay” in Japan. Further, there is the specific use of the expression 「入国時に14日間」alongside「在留資格保持者」, which can easily be interpreted to mean that foreign nationals who entered the country more than 14 days ago are considered separate from those who entered the country within the last 14 days. (Otherwise the expression「在留資格入国者」, without the qualifier「14日間」would be expected to be used.) Regardless, perhaps most telling is the document’s final line:

      「(注)上記1~3に基づく措置は、令和3年1月14日午前0時(日本時間)以降に入国する者に対して行うものとする。」

      Here, the document specifically states that procedures 1~3 are to be applied to persons who entered the country after midnight on January 14 of this year.

      The rules are egregious and intolerable as written. I would never want anyone to have the room to suggest we are overestimating the reach of said rules to make a point in spite of that reality.

      —- Thanks.

      Reply
  • Covid also exposed how woefully short of ICU beds Japan is compared to other developed first world nations. Had the country been hit as hard as the West by Covid it would have been catastrophic given the aging demographics.

    ICU capacity is absolutely a big thing when dealing with the virus as those who are elderly with serious ailments find themselves in need of such care. The country needs to put more into hospitals to increase capacity or they’ll have issues

    Reply
  • David Neil Markle says:

    I would like to add a couple thoughts to Mr. Debitos SNA article. It is a very serious wake-up call to all foreign residents of Japan whether they are long-term PR holders or have any other visa status. YOU ARE NOT SAFE! I hope this is clear. Mr. Debito said it in very diplomatic terms, but any non Japanese person residing in Japan even if you were born here and have been here your whole life, these are NOT normal times. I would strongly urge you make preparations for your own well being now while you still can, instead of finding yourself being a victim of events and actions taken by the powers that be.

    Let me start with a disclaimer that has been made countless times before. For all Japan snowflakes out there who say to themselves after reading what I have said: “Oh but MY wonderful Japan would NEVER do any of the things this person is writing about!” Go ahead and stay in your bubble. I would not want to wreck your dream world. You will get no sympathy from me when the officials show up in hazmat suits and put you on the Plague Bus against your will. The fact is they HAVE done these things many times in the past, and they may again in the near future. I say may, but actually the chances are better that history will repeat itself in how Japan treats NJ.

    I had the honor many years ago, to hear a talk given by a missionary in her 80s at the time, expound on how she was hosted by Japan in the 1940s until the end of the war. In spite of having Japanese citizenship, after having had to renounce her original citizenship (which she had to do to reside in Japan when she came in the early 1900s as a young woman). They locked her up in a small cell with a dirt floor, no toilet, no water, and no heat in northern Japan, because she was deemed to be a “threat to the government.” She was fed one bowl of rice per day along with some meager soup. The prison guard felt sorry for her and gave her a rancid blanket, and would sneak food to her from his rations from time to time. She spent 3 years in that cell I believe she said. They kept expecting her to die or kill herself. How she survived even she doesnt know to this day except by the grace of God. She has long since passed away, but how I wish her account of how she was treated by Japan could have been recorded for posterity. She rebuffed anyones attempt to chronicle her account as she believed only in forgiveness. To anyone who says: “Well that was war time and Japan has renounced war.” I would say you are naive at best, and your stupidity may well cost you your life if you think what happened before can t happen again.

    As I write this, the government of Japan has declared several areas of the country to be under a state of emergency. This means they can do just about anything they want in the name of “public safety.” Some may argue the legality of some of this, that is does not apply to them, that their friendships with Japanese will protect them, etc., but see how far that gets you when they decide to come after foreigners because they are deemed to be “carriers of the disease.” First off I plan myself to absolutely refuse to submit to any sort of test that would potentially put my foreign-ness in some sort of data base, even if it came up negative.

    Mr. Debito has long called for laws protecting NJ against discrimination and prejudicial treatment, but the chances of getting anything like this enacted are about as remote as Debito being selected as Prime Minister. It is time for NJ to take their well being into their own hands and not pretend the government is going to have their best interests at heart, or worse yet, fall victim to a normalcy bias of their own making, a frog in a pot of soon to boil water, if you like, before it is too late.

    Reply
    • This is an excellent comment.
      Let’s look at the case of Carlos Ghosn; world-famous millionaire with just about every social connection to power in the world anyone could have, and yet, in normal times, the Japanese government was able to disappear him into daily interrogations without legal representation and deprive him of medicine for months, and the rest of the world did nothing. If had been China there would have been sanctions and calls for his release.
      No one cared about big-name Ghosn, so ‘Gaijin Average’ hasn’t got a hope in hell.

      Reply
  • This policy is likely to have the counter-effect of increasing the spread of COVID-19 because now some foreigners may avoid seeking medical help or even asking to get tested in fear of getting deported.

    Reply
  • Like I already suspected, there will be no criminal punishment for Japanese citizens. It‘s just foreign residents who will have their lives destroyed if they fail to self isolate for 14 days.

    https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210128/p2a/00m/0na/004000c

    How long will Japan continue to claim that its a country of law where everyone is equal before the law? Because this situation here makes it pretty obvious that NJ are receiving a completely different penalty for the same crime. A much harsher penalty of course.

    Japan’s main parties agree to withdraw coronavirus punishments from law revision proposals
    January 28, 2021 (Mainichi Japan)

    TOKYO — Japan’s main ruling and opposition parties have agreed that proposed new punishments that were set to be included in a bill to revise the infectious disease control law as part of coronavirus measures will be withdrawn, it has emerged.

    An agreement to remove the criminal penalty provisions was reached on the morning of Jan. 28 at a meeting in the National Diet building between the diet affairs chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Hiroshi Moriyama, and his main opposition counterpart Jun Azumi of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

    Punishments of imprisonment and penalty fines will both be removed from the revision proposals.

    The LDP apparently compromised on the controversial issue after the main opposition party had been opposed to the criminal penalties.

    (Mainichi) ENDS
    Japanese version

    コロナ刑事罰削除で与野党合意 懲役刑、罰金刑ともに 感染症法改正案
    毎日新聞2021年1月28日
    https://mainichi.jp/articles/20210128/k00/00m/010/058000c
     自民党の森山裕国対委員長は28日、立憲民主党の安住淳国対委員長と国会内で会談し、新型コロナウイルス対策の感染症法改正案から刑事罰の規定をなくすと伝達した。懲役は削除し、金銭罰の規定は罰金から前科のつかない行政罰の過料に変える。具体的な過料額などは改めて詰めるが、減額する方向だ。安住氏は森山氏の提案を評価。感染症法、新型インフルエンザ等対策特別措置法改正案を巡る与野党の修正協議は、29日の国会審議入りの直前で大きく前進した。

     一連の改正関連法案では感染症法改正案のみ刑事罰を含んでいたため、追加予定の罰則規定から刑事罰が全廃されることになる。

     感染症法改正案に追加されていた刑事罰は、入院拒否者に対する「1年以下の懲役または100万円以下の罰金」と、疫学調査を拒否した人への「50万円以下の罰金」。立憲は27日までの修正協議で、前科の残る刑事罰に反対する意向を繰り返し伝えており、自民が要求を受け入れた形だ。

     政府・与党は従来、懲役規定の削除や罰金額の軽減に理解を示す一方で、罰金を過料に変更することは、既存の罰則との兼ね合いから「バランスが崩れる」などと難色を示していた。

     約30分間の会談後、森山氏は記者団の取材に対し「政府ともよく協議し、感染症法は刑事罰ではなく行政罰として過料を求めていくという基本的な考え方を野党にお伝えした」と述べた。午後に改めて特措法を含む改正関連法案全体の協議を安住氏と行う予定だとした上で、最終的な決着は幹事長同士の協議に委ねる考えも示した。28日中の最終決着を目指すという。

     安住氏は会談後、森山氏に「高く評価する」と伝えたと明かし、今後は特措法改正案に盛り込まれた営業時間の短縮命令を拒否した事業者への過料など、金銭罰規定の減額に取り組むとした。

     会談では時短に応じた事業者への財政支援についても「十分な財政措置が必要」との認識で一致したという。【東久保逸夫、宮原健太】

    Reply
  • Oh! This has got to be one for ‘Shoe On The Other Foot’!

    Japanese nationals in China whining that they haven’t been able to go home to see family for a year because of China’s covid policies completely oblivious to the fact that Japan does the same thing to NJ! Boo hoo! My heart weeps! Here the smallest violin in the world, playing just for them! Lolz!

    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/02/11/national/japan-nationals-china-coronavirus/

    Reply

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