Justice Ministry’s new “Gaijin Card Reader App” now unlawfully enables the general public to scan you. So much for GOJ promises of privacy.


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Hi Blog. Debito.org Readers Niklas and B have sent word that the Ministry of Justice has made a “Residence Card Checker App”, available from December 25, 2020, downloadable from their website (English, Japanese). It’s available for Windows PC, Apple Mac App Store, Google Play, and iOS (with manuals!). It scans RFID Zairyuu Cards, aka “Gaijin Cards”, which is personal ID required of foreign residents only, and must be carried 24/7 on pain of criminal penalty.

In their words, “This app reads and displays the information (such as the bearer’s name) stored on the IC chips of residence cards and special permanent resident certificates, helping users to confirm that the card is not a forgery.”

How nice.

Except that the only people allowed to demand, let alone scan, Gaijin Cards are people connected with the Ministry of Justice (Immigration, police, etc.). This has now unlawfully put the ability to read private information within the general public’s grasp. Such as people posing as fake cops (which does happen). It’s not that far removed from the government “snitch sites” where anyone could anonymously report their local gaijin to the government and have them harassed, er, investigated by local authorities. (They’ve since disappeared after nearly two decades in action, so this is a new form of potential harassment.)

Poster Title: “When you employ a foreigner, check their Zairyuu Card!  Employers will also be punished for employing illegal workers!!” Ministry of Justice, Tokyo Regional Immigration Services Bureau. Photo from Hiroo Subway Station, June 16, 2021, courtesy of K on Twitter.

UPDATE JUNE 21: I have done an SNA column on this issue.

Debito.org will now archive the sites in English and Japanese for the record, with some screen captures. Especially enjoy reading the Privacy Policy, especially since one initial reason why the government advertised that the RFID card was a better system was due to privacy (and “convenience“)–random people wouldn’t be able to read the embedded information. Now they can. Where is the outcry over “privacy concerns” that Japanese citizens enjoy whenever the government makes personal ID policy affecting them? Debito Arudou, Ph.D.


ENGLISH SITE: https://www.isa.go.jp/en/policies/policies/rcc-support.html

(click on scans to enlarge in browser)


This app reads and displays the information (such as the bearer’s name) stored on the IC chips of residence cards and special permanent resident certificates, helping users to confirm that the card is not a forgery.


For PC

Please follow the link provided below.

Click here for downloads for Windows systems

Can be found on the Mac App Store.

Download on the Mac App Store

For mobile

Can be found on Google Play.

Get it on Google Play

Can be found on the App Store.

Download on the App Store

Operation manual

Operating environment

  • Operating environment

    Windows 8.1, Windows 10 (ARM, x64, x86 compatible)
    macOS 10.14 or higher (compatible with Apple M1 chips)
    Android 6.0 or higher
    iOS 13.2 or higher

  • Necessary hardware

    Contactless IC card reader (if using a PC)
    * APDU-compatible models only

    The following contactless IC card readers were used to test the app’s functionality:

    • NTT Communications Corporation
    • Sony Corporation
    • I-O Data Device, Inc.

    NFC-compatible device (if using a cell phone)

Frequently asked questions

If you suspect that you have found a counterfeit residence card, please contact your nearest Immigration Services Bureau.

To confirm a residence card’s validity, please use the Validity Inquiries for Residence Card Numbers online service (in Japanese). [JP]This link leads to an external page.

For any questions or concerns regarding the app (after installation), please contact the support team at the following address:
We are unable to accept any inquires made by phone.

Question list

Q1 How do I read a residence card? What is the Residency Management System?
For more details, please click on this link.

Return to question list

Q2 What if the information listed on the card and the information displayed in the app is different?
Even if the card has been read correctly, if any of the information differs from that displayed in the app, then it is possible that it has been forged. In cases such as these, please contact your nearest Immigration Services Bureau.

Return to question list

Q3 It can’t read the card.
  1. If you receive an error message that reads: “Cannot read the card. Please touch the card with NFC reading position of the device again. If it is displayed repeatedly, please contact the regional immigration bureau near you .” (Japanese: カードが読み取れませんもう一度かざしてください。繰り返し表示される場合はお近くの出入国在留管理官署にお問い合わせください)

    → Check to see that all connections are secure.
    → Ensure that the proper drivers have been installed/updated.
    As the app may not recognize a card reader immediately after its installation, please restart all devices before use.
    → The card reader may not work if it has been placed on a desk (or similar object) made of metal.
    → If you continue to receive the same error message, then it is possible that the card has been forged. In cases such as these, please contact your nearest Immigration Services Bureau.

  2. If you receive an error message that reads: “An error occurred while reading the card. Please check the card as you may be holding a card other than the residence card. ” (Japanese: カードの読取中にエラーが発生しました。在留カード以外のカードをかざしている可能性がありますのでカードをご確認ください)

    → Hold the residence card above the reader. The app is only capable of scanning residence cards and special permanent resident certificates.
    → If the error was not due to improper scanning or the use of an incorrect card, then it is possible that the card has been forged. In cases such as these, please contact your nearest Immigration Services Bureau.

Return to question list

Q4 Will the app work on an iPad?
Unfortunately, it will not.
As iPads lack a versatile NFC interface, they are not a suitable device for the app to run on.
Please refer to the operating environment section for a list of compatible operating systems.

Return to question list

Privacy policy

  1. The privacy policy only applies to the residence card checker app (henceforth referred to as “app”).
  2. The app is designed to simply display the information read from a residence card or special permanent resident certificate. It does not collect or distribute any data (including personal information).
  3. This policy does not apply to any websites which are accessed from the app. Those have their own privacy policies, which are managed independently.
  4. The Ministry of Justice (Immigration Services Agency) reserves the right to revise the privacy policy at any time. Should this occur, users will be notified on the home page.


The terms “Microsoft” and “Windows,” as well as the Microsoft logo, are the property of the Microsoft Corporation.
The terms “Android” and “Google Play,” as well as the Google Play logo, are the property of Google LLC.
The terms “Apple,” “iPad,” and “macOS” as well as the Apple logo, are the property of Apple Inc.
The “iOS” trademark is used under license by Cisco Systems Inc.
“ARM” is the registered trademark of ARM Limited.


JAPANESE SITE: http://www.moj.go.jp/isa/policies/policies/rcc-support.html

(click on scans to enlarge in browser)




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59 comments on “Justice Ministry’s new “Gaijin Card Reader App” now unlawfully enables the general public to scan you. So much for GOJ promises of privacy.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Wow, hotels are going to go CRAZY with this!
    What’s next? Japanese citizens having the legal right to walk into your home anytime they want?
    ‘First night’?

    It’s amazing to me that a country fighting a pandemic with FAXES and RUBBER STAMPS (and winning 😉 right, JOC?) whilst the 21st century world suffers millions of deaths can introduce the most MODERN TECHNOLOGY when it comes to policing NJ.

  • Jaocnanoni says:

    I’ve just tried this app on my own card and I’m quite shocked. Ok, before you can scan a card you have to put in its number manually first, which probably is there to prevent remote reading of any card that isn’t in a faraday cage. And there are plenty of comments on the app store calling to simplify or even remove (!) even that little protection left. Anyway, I’m now finally convinced that I’d get an anti reading pouch for my card asap.

    I mean, the chip in the driver’s license has password protection at least, but the one in the gaijin card has nothing, and now every overzealous bozo with a phone can read them. I guess strong data protection is only for people with the right passport here.

    • Jaocnanoni says:

      Additional info: The app has no limitation at screen capture, so although the app itself doesn’t have a saving function, you can just take a screenshot and save that. This app is a true nightmare for data protection.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    BTW, since anyone besides immigration (who have the tech to check cards already) cannot legally use this app, isn’t Apple opening itself up to a lawsuit?

    • Yeah, when I saw this yesterday I thought about sending an email to Apple and Google about that. I will try to send them an email today with a link to the law and I’ll also try to explain how the app allows every random Japanese person to steal your personal information. Hopefully they‘ll remove the app, but I‘m not really confident since we‘re up against the Japanese government and I feel like Apple and Google won‘t do anything that will anger the government. Still, it‘s better than staying silent about this.

    • To the best of my knowledge it’s not illegal to ask to see (or scan) someones residence card.

      By the same token you can refuse to show it to an unauthorized person.

      Whether a private company can demand the card or else withhold services is a grey area. For example, as you know, hotels cannot refuse accomadation service in general, but many claim they will if foreign looking people don’t show specific ID.

      • We also have private banks now being deputized to check residence cards of gaijin customers.

        I got a request from Mizuho bank a few weeks ago to send copies of my residence card to them because of concerns about international money laundering. This is for a bank account whose only purpose is to repay a housing loan I have with them, and to pay my utilities (water, gas, electricity, phone). That’s all. There are zero international transactions conducted on that account.

        So instead of looking into accounts that have international or suspicious transactions they are looking into gaijin accounts that have no potentially suspicious activities. Because it’s the gaijin who are doing bad things.

        I tore that request up and binned it.

        Ball’s in their court now. Do they want to close the only account I have with them that pays back my housing loan?

        • Coda: And do you know what the stupidest thing is?…. Mizuho already have detailed copies of all my ID including my residence card showing my permanent resident status.

          I needed to provide them with that info before qualifying for the loan in the first place!

          They are like a thoughtless child.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Seriously though, immigration don’t need this app, so it can’t be legally used by anyone who would download it. Don’t Microsoft, Apple and Google have rules about apps that can ONLY be used to do something illegal?
    Perhaps Debito.org should send them a link to the letter of the (Japanese) law…

    • Jaocnanoni says:

      To answer your question, apparently this is primarily meant for companies who employ NJ. Those are – according to my information from immigration – required to check whether the NJ they want to hire has a valid visa and work permit. Failing to do so would also lead to punishment of the company if something’s found to be wrong. Apparently failing at properly spotting a counterfeit card can also lead to punishment of the company by exploiting on ominous paragraph dealing with “help in providing illegal work (不法就労助長罪)”. Remember that news of late 2019, when a ring of very skilled gaijin card forgers blew up? This scanner is a belated reaction to that as an additional tool to check the validity of cards presented.

      Of course this is the complete wrong way to react to this “problem”, which only exists in the first place because of the GOJ’s paranoia towards “illegal NJ work” and the way how the related laws work out. It’s only a matter of time until there will pop up counterfeit cards that’ll also pass the chip scan test. What then? Also, it’s complete bonkers that this scanner is freely available to the general public when the targeted receivers are supposed to be NJ-hiring companies. And the problem of the legality of this procedure in the first place is also huge. Well, I guess they’re allowed to ask, but are they allowed to demand? I don’t think so.

      • I would take that seriously if you could show me just one Japanese company that was fined for hiring an illegal foreign worker.

    • The same little Hitlers who think they can bully and report any gaijin who isnt at their beck and call.
      Disgruntled or jealous new ex colleagues who thought I had a better deal than them despite my having years of seniority because I was, to their eyes, “new” to the country. I noticed this appearing post 2007, definitely post Ishihara/Abe zeitgeist, people buying into (again) the narrative that no matter how bad their lives are, how much they are taxed etc, they are in return part of the privileged Yamato race and thus above gaijins.
      “Gaijin yori warui tte”. Gaijin not as honroed guest but as bottom strata of society.
      Or weirdo stalkers or hostess killers like Tatsuya Ichihashi , or more commonly customers or yakuza bosses who want to control the lives of hapless Filipinas, etc. This is not hearsay, I have documented proof of this happening multiple times. The one I found most ridiculous was the guy who sold (not gave) a Filipina a computer, only for her to find he could remote control it. So she bought a new one somewhere else. Unfortunately she left it in her bag and went to the bathroom. The next day she noticed, yet again, the mouse moving by itself on her new computer……
      I heard she bought a third computer…..

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    Hey, I’m still wating for an app that allows me to scan the dvivers liscenes of random strangers because they might be fake…

    The government that keeps bragging how its money is too advanced to be counterfieited can’t make secure cards? And since these cards are supposed to be strictly between us and the MOJ…

    The LDP looks more and more like the CCP every day.

  • David Markle says:

    I believe this is more convoluted than just knee jerk xenophobia on the part of Japanese organizations. I believe what this card reader app is, is a symptom of FACTA or actually the fear of it in Japanese government and financial institutions.

    Consider the following: Mr. American citizen (or green card holder) decides he is tired of having to file US tax returns or for some other reason(s) wants to give up his American citizenship. Fine. It used to be easy, but today, it is very expensive and takes up to a year mostly to ensure the US government that this person is up to date in their tax filings, and payments if they owe any. Many people are not, and find out the hard way that coming up to date will cost them dearly. That is how bureaucrats and tax people in US embassies and consulates around the world make their bread and butter, get promotions, etc. While there aren’t all that many people doing this really in a year in Japan, a lot more happens when Mr. or Ms. US citizen files the paper work to get out from under the US thumb.


    After they have filed all the forms with the officials, it means that the US government has loads of information ( under penalty of perjury) with which they can look over and see exactly where and how much money this person has been hiding. Suppose they are not up to date with their tax filings. OK, they might have to pay back taxes, and probably a fine, but this is not what the US bean counters are really after. If they find a US citizen who has not been paying their fair share to the US government, the US also has, under FACTA laws, the ability to go after the FOREIGN FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS that person has been dealing with in whatever country in the world they have been residing. The peanuts the person might have to pay is NOT what the US wants, it wants to be able to have reason to threaten to fine the financial institutions themselves for not complying with US tax and disclosure laws. The fines themselves in these cases are in the multi-millions of dollars. This is what they are after. The threat the US has over these institutions is potentially cutting them off from SWIFT. This would be a death knell for most international firms that rely on sending money all over the world. The Japanese banks and others in government are trying to limit their liability by getting as much information about their customers as possible in the event they have to justify their relationship with that person or entity in a US tax court. It is also why they are cozying up to the Chinese, but that is another story.

    The black swan in this, are the Japanese citizens who have lived and worked in the US and got paid in the US, so had to file taxes in the US in the past. They most likely got a US green card for the convenience of travel and dealing with the US tax people at the recommendation of their personnel offices where they worked. That was fine back in the 80s and 90s, but now after having returned to their native country, or having moved on, they find that getting a US green card is like marriage, easy to get into, but very difficult to get out of. Look at how many Japanese citizens got Covid stimulus checks “by mistake” Ha! Ha! The jokes on them. It is just about as difficult to get rid of a US green card, as it is to get rid of a US passport as many Japanese nationals have found out. There are no questions asked about having lived and worked in the US for Japanese to open a bank account, or a brokerage account, or any other account, But the US government would love to be able to say to such and such Japan financial institution: “Hey there, we have some information that you are not compliant with our FACTA laws regarding Mr. Ms.(s) so and so, would you like to pay your fine now, or shall we meet in court?” I suggest that this card reading app is just a back handed way for the Japanese government, in cooperation with (actually in the pockets of) financial institutions to protect themselves from potential fines. It is being done clumsily, and is ineffective against the real risk for Japanese institutions. Nobody outside of the US Treasury Dept. and Japanese government knows how much money they take in per year from Japanese institutions, but it is plenty, I am sure. Targeting NJ makes them feel like they are doing something, without actually doing anything.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      What you are saying might make sense if the J-govt was a rational actor, but it isn’t. It’s demented and disconnected from reality. It’s also far too incompetent to have the foresight to conceive and implement such a plan IMHO.
      I suspect this is merely an extension of MOJ illegal instructions to hotels to card ALL NJ; an extra-legal effort to illegally police NJ by a fascist police state that collects information and seeks power merely for the sake of doing so.
      Stupidity of the system rather than the system’s sophisticated machinations.

      • David Markle says:

        This is no doubt a factor. Its just a lot more simple to get information on every NJ they can “just in case” than it is to try to figure out where a country is on a map.

        Remember everything they do is decided in a “government” committee meeting, so it has to make everybody happy, not necessarily make sense.

      • David Markle says:

        Nationality doesn”t matter. If you have a US green card, or residence card as it is sometimes referred to, the US has its hooks in you. You are obligated to file and pay taxes to the US government wherever you live in the world.

        Lots of people got them, ” just in case” when they were being given away like candy, and still are I guess.

          • Jaocnanoni says:

            Exactly. I think it’s very suffice to say that the vast majority of NJ in Japan have neither a US passport not Green Card, and I don’t think that US embassies just mail Green Cards to random people who have never asked for it.

  • This is one of the most extreme and dangerous violations of privacy I have seen since I have been in Japan… This is absurd. And now the technology is out there, even if they delete it.

    I truly wish for some organization like the ACLU that could sue over such rights violations.

    —- There is a JCLU.

    • The technology was already out there, many of us said so at the time. You only needed a programmable card reader. The difference here is that there is now an app for that. The caveats are perhaps there is some encryption, which now can be reverse engineered, and/or perhaps the card number is used as a key.

  • Question. Would wrapping your card in tin foil work? Or, “buy a card sleeve or RFID wallet that blocks RFID transmissions.
    Stack your cards together to mitigate some of the scanner’s ability to read information.”
    How effective is this?

    — Look up Faraday Cage.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Tin foil does work. And it’s cheaper than any commercial ‘wallet’ solution.
      But the issue here is that the MOJ by releasing this app to any Tom, Dick and Haruki has given the power to those people to add an extra level of inconvenient disruptive racist behavior into every NJs life.
      It’s bad enough not being able to rent somewhere.
      It’s bad enough not being able to check into a hotel.
      It’s now going to be having your card scanned and sharing all of the confidential information inside with no data security by people you don’t know, every time you want to do anything.

      • I imagine it will lead to more stalking of NJs. Recent anecdote I heard, Korean female tourist pursued by horny hotel staff who knew her room number, phone number etc. I.e. blatant abuse of her private info.
        Projected number of weirdoes turning up at the doorstep of kawaii young NJs, no doubt.

  • I think I’m failing to fully appreciate the concern here. I just used the app on my own card and, as best I can tell, the app only allows the user to confirm the authenticity of a card if the user already has the registration number. (In other words, you don’t have to worry about some stranger brushing past you and secretly reading the card—they would need to have access to your card in order to read the registration number first.) Then, when a user does verify the authenticity of the card, the only personal information the app provides is a photo of the front of the card, which of course is already known to the user since they already have access to the card in order to read the registration number. If someone really wants to share your information and already has access to your card, isn’t it much easier for them to take a picture of the front of the card than it is to take the time to scan it and take a screen shot of the scan result? Sorry if I’m missing the point.

    • Jaocnanoni says:

      Yes, you’ve to input the card no. before you can scan, so secret scans while randomly passing by are very unlikely at the moment. But,
      a) at the Google Play Store I could read user opinions that call for scrapping this requirement, because it’s too time consuming for them, and
      b) I can imagine tech savvy abusers modding the app and bypassing this failsafe.

      As for the picture of the card, yes it’s only the front, but at Google Play one user has already voiced the opinion that the back should also be displayed in future versions. Anyway, I don’t think that a display of it is necessary to verify the authenticity. The fields on top that pop up should be enough confirmation. And doing a screenshot with a phone isn’t really the hardest and time costly thing to do. In fact, it only takes a meager fraction of the time the input of the card number takes and can even easily be done without the bearer of the card noticing. This is an unacceptable security risk and way worse than the already widespread practice of photocopying these cards.

      • Thanks, Jaocnanoni! So is it fair to say that your main issue with this app is that it could theoretically be modified to work in a different way? That seems only marginally different than where we were before this app (ie, theoretically, the government could always create an app that wasn’t secure and enterprising hackers could always create an app to do the same), which is why I’m still trying to figure out why this app is a big concern for folks.

        As for the picture you see upon scanning, I assume that’s to ensure that the card hasn’t been physically altered to change certain information (eg, some bozo altering their expiration date with a pen). In other words, it’s not enough to know that the IC chip is authentic, you need to know that the information on the card matches the chip in order for this to be useful. As for the screen shot issue, my point was why bother with the low-res screen shot when you could have more easily just taken a high-res photo of the card with your phone?

        Again, I worry that I’m just missing the point of this blog post.

    • The point is that hotel, gym, bank, internet service provider, etc. staff already illegally ask to photocopy your card in a lot of situations, and now this is made even easier with this app. They just need to scan it and make a screenshot. Yes, you don’t have to show them your card, but the consequence of that is that they will refuse to provide any services to you. I’m sorry, but no random baito worker should have the right to scan my card and decide if it’s valid or not, or if I overstayed my visa. That’s the job of immigration and the police and Japanese laws even state that you only have to show your cards to those people. So why does the Immigration Agency break their own laws and release such an app to the public? And as Jaocnanoni said, it’s entirely possible that they will implement certain things in the future. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if every time someone scans a fake card or an overstayer card, the app automatically contacts immigration in the future. The National Police Agency and Japanese politicians have been talking about how they want to kick out all overstayers for 20 years now, therefore I can definitely see this happening in the near future.

      • Thanks, Niklas. I’m afraid I don’t understand how this app makes it “easier to ask to photocopy your card”. The app just allows the user to confirm the authenticity of the card. Whether someone asks to see your card (and whether you to decide to show it to them) is not relevant to the app. The app doesn’t magically give “some random baito worker” the right to scan your card. Your concern, as with Joacnanoni above, seems to be that the government could release an app with different functionality, but that was true yesterday and will be true tomorrow. I’m afraid that doesn’t really move the needle for me.

        —- What would?

        • Thanks, Debito. Good question. For example, I think it would be problematic if the app allowed for the clandestine reading of the card (i.e., it didn’t require input of the card number). It would also be problematic if the app disclosed additional sensitive personal information buried in the chip that wasn’t already available on the outside of the card. Both of those, thankfully, don’t seem to be the case. Actually, when I first read your blog post, I assumed that at least one of the two of those would be true (such is my faith in the government), but was pleasantly surprised after downloading and using the app to find that I may have been too hasty in my initial appraisal..

          • It makes it easier because it‘s easier to scan the card and make a screenshot of the app, than it is to go to a copy machine and photocopy it onto a piece of paper. It‘s way faster and more convinient. And it definitely gives the right to every baito staff to scan the card. That‘s the whole point of releasing the app publicly. Before this app got released there was no way that a hotel or gym worker would be able to spot a fake card, even police and immigration officers could have problems spotting good fakes, now a fake card shows up immediately after scanning it. I‘m not advocating for fake cards obviously, but like I already said, it shouldn‘t be up to baito staff to scan cards and call immigration if they find a fake one. That‘s ridiculous and illegal.

            „but that was true yesterday and will be true tomorrow“

            No, it wasn‘t true „yesterday“, because „yesterday“ the app didn‘t even exist.

            It‘s like Jim said, the Immigration Agency is breaking the law with this app. Also, just imagine an app like that releasing in Germany, the US, Canada, France, or any other „first world“ country. There would be a huge outrage and rightfully so. But nobody cares when Japan does it of course.

      • -no random baito worker should have the right to scan my card and decide if it’s valid or not, or if I overstayed my visa.
        Exactly, this is the Any Japanese has a Right to Report/deport a Foreigner syndrome, finally come to scary fruition.

          • Thanks, Debito. Maybe I’m missing something. What gives the baito worker the right to see my card? I was under the impression that only those with police powers had the right to do that.

            — At this point you’re being deliberately obtuse. Read the Tokyo Shinbun article for what issues are being raised. I’m not approving any more comments from you until you have something more substantive to say.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Dosanko, the ‘concern’ is that anyone using this app is breaking Japanese law and committing an abuse of human rights.
      That may be merely a trifle to you…
      It’s the 21st century equivalent of requiring ‘others’ to wear a badge at all times VISIBLE TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE MAJORITY (hint).

      • Thanks, Jim. Maybe you can explain why you think “anyone using this app is breaking the law and committing an abuse of human rights”? For example, I noted above that I used the app to check the authenticity of my own card. Did I break the law when I did so? Let’s say my employer scans my card after getting my permission to do so. Did my employer break the law? Just trying to understand your point. Thanks.

        • Jim Di Griz says:

          My point is that only immigration officers are legally empowered to demand to see your card and the information on it. They don’t need an app to do so. So why is there an app that anyone can use? No one is legally allowed to use it.
          I’ve already pointed all this out.
          If English is your first language, stop being an apologist.
          If you don’t care about protecting your human rights, more fool you. If you don’t care that immigration is breaking the law of Japan, why not? You want to live in ‘the jungle’ instead of civilization?
          Saying that you don’t need privacy because you’ve got nothing to hide is the same as saying you don’t need freedom of speech because you have nothing to say…
          Dr. Debito, healthy debate aside, surely this apologist troll’s deliberately obtuse position is a facile and willful misunderstanding of Japanese law and our concerns?

        • Loverilakkuma says:

          “anyone using this app is breaking the law and committing an abuse of human rights”

          It is private firms and corporations the government outsourced their extra-legal right to the third parties. That’s blatantly unconstitutional. They are openly breaking the law they create.

          Also, this is another way to shame and penalize anyone who has trouble having her/his zairyu card for some reason. MOJ is trying to crackdown on card forgery by spreading a false narrative about it, while its fraud rate is less than 0.001%(some hundreds out of +2.5mi copies— same as voter fraud in the US). It’s an open season for gaijin hunting.

          You can remain ignorant or inherently obtuse about state surveillance by behaving like NSA/FBI apologist, Russia scaremonger, or joining in anti-Snowden/Assange squad.

  • Jaocnanoni says:

    Great article by Tokyo Shinbun on the issue, pointing out the problems with this app concerning human rights of NJ. If it wasn’t so serious I would’ve laughed at the explanations by the officials.

    “Never thought about abuse”? Well, sir, you certainly thought about counterfeit card abuse committed by NJ only, didn’t you?

    “We do not wish for people using the app to commit human rights infringement.” Well, if that’s the case, then scrap the entire app already!

    “We intend to keep the app up.” Oh. Then thanks but no thanks for nothing.

    Oh, by the way, reportedly they dumped 84 million Yen of taxpayer money into the development of this deputy immigration toy. Lovely waste…

    And immigration officials clearly stated that they expect financial institutions (!) to use it. So, in the future no bank account for you if you don’t let them read you card digitally, or what?

    「外国人監視に市民を動員」入管庁が在留カード真偽読取アプリを一般公開 難民懇が問題視
    東京新聞 2021年6月15日

  • Jim Di Griz says:
    ‘Dr. Debito, healthy debate aside, surely this apologist troll’s deliberately obtuse position is a facile and willful misunderstanding of Japanese law and our concerns?’

    Not really, Jim. Dosanko is asking valid questions and the fault lies with the vagueness of Japanese law, which is nearly always the case, because it allows a multitude of interpretations and the interpretation that eventually prevails, is the interpretation of the group that has the most power to smash your rice bowl. Japanese law needs to learn the Boolean equation – ‘right or wrong’, no other answer – rather than to call someone a troll who is really asking valid questions.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      I disagree.
      How many times did I write that only immigration officials have the legal right to see the card, so an app available to the public can only be used illegally?
      Two? Three?
      And yet Dosanko ‘can’t see what the problem is’.

    • Snowshiro says:


      I have followed your site for years and am very grateful for your work on human rights issues in Japan. That said allowing people like Jim Di Griz to label people rudely just because they disagree or ask questions is probably costing you support.
      Frankly I’m surprised you haven’t stepped in to tell him to tone it down like you have to others in the past who equally deserved it.
      I’m not sure what your stance is on his comments/attitude towards other posters on this issue and would appreciate it if you could make that clear.
      Or am I missing the actual meaning of “troll” and “apologist”?

      —- You’re not. Dosanko and JDG so far have been within Posting Guidelines. I’m waiting until otherwise.

      • Jim Di Griz says:

        A police state with a budget for the expressed purpose of managing international narratives of itself in the news and on the internet, that openly states that universal human rights are counter to its core values, and is breaking its own written law, but I’m ‘rude’?
        Look at Carlos Ghosn.
        Japanese institutions aren’t giving any quarter, nor benefit of the doubt, and they don’t care how anyone feels about it.
        Priorities people, come on.
        I’m out.

  • The thinking in Japan is still the same:

    When a Japanese deals with another Japanese, he or she is assumed trusted unless otherwise proven.
    When a Japanese deals with a foreigner, he or she is assumed untrusted unless otherwise proven.

    • Baudrillard says:

      I thought you were talking about China in the first few lines. These two are more similar than they care to admit.

    • Baudrillard says:

      personal anecdote; Japanese realtor builds a ramen shop for another Japanese aged male person in Singapore. Said Japanese “customer” uses the erai hito oyaji excuse he doesnt like it, and will not pay more than half. Japanese realtor cries over her beer how “I thought as he was a Japanese I could trust him.”
      But would she do this for me, or a Singaporean or any non Japanese? Would she heck.
      Lesson only partly learnt despite otherwise proven!

  • Jim Di Griz
    ‘How many times did I write that only immigration officials have the legal right to see the card, so an app available to the public can only be used illegally?’

    Well quite clearly the Japanese jurisprudence which you state – and by the way, you state it inaccurately- is not how the law is practiced, whether it be your local ku office, a fudosan, the Japanese police and, as Jaocnanoni points out, soon to be Japanese banking system. The fault doesn’t lie with Dosanko. It doesn’t lie with you. It doesn’t lie with the aforementioned institutions who will not offer you their services, without ‘solid’ proof of id. In the case of a non-Japanese, ‘solid’ proof is either your residency card or passport. The fault lies with the wording and conditions of Japanese statutes and the Japanese legal system which enforces those statutes. You might bluster on about legal absolutes, but this is Japan. It is not a ‘rule of law’ state, never has been and I quite confidently state that it never will be.

    • AnonymousOG says:

      Scipio incorrectly wrote: “In the case of a non-Japanese, ‘solid’ proof of identification is either your residency card or passport.”

      Actually, no, that is wrong.

      Please Scipio, don’t be a part of the problem by implying (accidentally or purposefully) that people who are Not-Citizens-of-Japan should show their residency card or passport to companies.

      Solid proof of identification for ALL Residents of Japan (whether Citizens-of-Japan or Not-Citizens-of-Japan) are the same: the Government-issued photo-having Driver’s License card, or the Government-issued photo-not-having Shakai-Hoken card, or the Government-issued photo-not-having Kokumin-Kenkō-Hoken card, etc. These are the cards which companies have decided can be used as sufficiently “solid” identification. (Plus, people should remember that nobody needs to show any identification at all when checking in to a hotel in Japan, thanks to Japan’s Hotel Laws.)

      It seems to me that Scipio’s comment basically boils down to implying “Jim is wrong, it’s perfectly legal for company staff to refuse service to: potential customers appearing racially-non-Japanese who also decline to show proof of J-citizenship/Visa-Validity. And besides, even if Jim is correct about Racial-Appearance-Based-Demands coupled with Threats-of-Service-Refusal are indeed illegal, learning the laws about that won’t help, since the culture of Japan doesn’t obey it’s own laws, so just give up and show your ZairyuuKaado to anyone who asks for it.”

      Again, Scipio incorrectly wrote: “In the case of a non-Japanese, ‘solid’ proof of identification is either your residency card or passport.”

      That is wrong, and such comments being read by and then believed by residents of Japan is part of the problem. It’s bad enough the majority of Japanese citizens are pushing this “you must show, and allow us to copy, your proof of visa validity” falsehood, now there is even a Brit at Debito.org pushing the same falsehood.

      This stance caused me to spend time looking through his past posts by using the Google search site:debito.org + “Scipio”, and here are some posts which to me are troubling:

      Scipio stated he thinks Debito is often wrong, when Scipio wrote: “I often read your articles and often don’t agree with a lot that you’ve written…” which doesn’t make sense, since Debito is actually quite carefully about only writing things with factual evidence to back it up, so I feel it’s probably Scipio who is thus “often wrong” about what is written at Debito.org

      About foreigners in Japan being threatened to have their existing bank accounts being shut down unless they submit to proving current visa validity: Scipio wrote: “This is no ‘whataboutism’ excuse for Japan, but … [inserts ‘whataboutism’ excuse for Japan] … Suck it up.”

      About Japan’s comparatively constant focus on ‘its achievements’ leading to creating a relatively higher percent of adults in Japan who lack basic understanding of humanity, Scipio wrote: “Not doing a ‘whataboutism’, but … [inserts ‘whataboutism’ excuse for Japan] … ALL nations, to some degree, are afflicted with this malaise.”

      About Ayaka Sono’s having advocated separation of residential zones by race in Japan like Apartheid South Africa, Scipio wrote: “I like it here, and if you can’t take the heat in the kitchen, and her ideas expressed are pretty much part of the heat in Japan, then you should get out.”

      Anyway, now Scipio’s most recent wrong comment: “In the case of a non-Japanese, ‘solid’ proof of identification is either your residency card or passport” having been published morally forces me to invest the time into correcting it, in the pursuit of truth and to help residents living in Japan who do choose to NOT voluntarily needlessly admit their citizenship status to companies:

      Just as a company cannot legally use racial appearance to demand a potential customer to provide proof of Japanese-citizenship using the threat of citizenship-based refusal of service, so too, a company cannot legally use racial appearance to demand a potential customer to provide proof of visa-expiration-date using the threat of visa-expiration-date refusal of service.*

      (* = Except for companies providing multi-year loan contracts, as covered at Debito.org already, such as banks and phone companies. who use the technique of claiming “since we are loaning you money/phone in this multi-year contract, we must make sure the applicant wishing to enter the contract has the legal ability to remain in Japan during the entire length of the contract” – so now those industries are requiring ALL applicants (yes, ALL applicants, regardless of racial appearance, thus cleverly taking away the ability to sue for racial-appearance discrimination) to submit proof of the legal ability to remain in Japan during the entire length of the contract: Japan Passport/Koseki, or, Japan Driver’s License + Juuminhyou showing visa-expiration-date being at least a day beyond the length of the contract, or, ZairyuuKaado showing visa-expiration-date being at least a day beyond the length of the contract. As it happens, one can avoid that whole “this is a loan, so prove your visa validity” nonsense by choosing not to want a cancer-causing transmission-device in the first place, or, by buying a loanless prepaid phone, which one CAN get without proving your nationality and without proving your your visa validity, IF you have 2 essential things: a properly-issued Kokuho card – which means a Kokuho card which does NOT admit your nationality – which means a Kokuho card in which you have successfully convinced the city hall to have your official Japanese Kanji Tsuushoumei name as the ONLY name appearing on your card – no katakana, no rōmaji – AND your date of birth appearing Japanese style [e.g. 昭和] – AND the time/energy/strength to convince a phone company branch worker/manager that since the phone company’s rules state that Prepaid phones can be bought without entering a loan contract, and since the phone company’s rules state that Prepaid phones can be bought by simply showing Kokuho, and since this person (regardless of racial appearance) has already slapped their Kokuho onto the table, it would be an easily-winnable-lawsuit case of racial-appearance-discrimination to demand this non-Yamato-appearing Kokuho-holder to show “additional” identification.)

      As Jim correctly stated, the Visa Validity Proof known as the ZairyuuKaado only needs to be shown to immigration at the border and/or when requesting a new visa (permission to reside/work status) from immigration, and only needs to be shown to a police officer in a very rare situation: “to a police officer who requests it WHEN (and here comes the important legally-limiting-qualifier written by the Kokkaigiin, which most people innocently forgot about for decades and which the police officers maliciously hope most people will continue to forget about) WHEN first obeying the legally-limiting Police Duties law which requires the officer to first have officially obtained reasonable suspicion first to believe a certain individual is actually involved in a crime BEFORE initiating any questions/requests/demands in the first place.”

      (See, regardless of racial appearance, the police duties laws (mentioned as a limiting qualifier in the ZairyuuKaado laws) state that a police officer cannot legally initiate any questions/requests/demands in the first place.unless that police officer first has reasonable suspicion to believe a certain individual is actually involved in a crime. I have written this about 100 times here at Debito.org since many people are still beleiving the old “police can legally initiate suspicionless-stops based merely on racial appearance” falsehood which has been repeated hundreds-of-thousands of times online and verbally, be both innocently-unknowledgeable myth-regurgitators, and by just-show-your-card-since-this-is-Japan apologists, and by maliciously-lying online-government-shills who write 90% true sentences to gain trust and then insert 10% falsehoods such as: “It’s perfectly legal for police officers to demand, upon threat of jail, the showing of the visa validity, based on the racial appearance of the person walking – and it’s perfectly legal for companies to demand, upon threat of service-refusal, the showing of the visa validity, based on the racial appearance and/or verbal-accent of the person shopping, so just ‘suck it up’, just show your card to all police and to all company employees/baito who demand it with threats, since there are no laws at all preventing such threats, and if you don’t like it then just ‘get out of the kitchen’ by leaving Japan.”

      In summary:

      All suspicion-less stops (regardless of racial appearance) are illegal-stops, according to the police duties laws which cover all individuals existing in Japan, and everyday police officers (together with online shills) fool people into thinking that they should/must agree to voluntarily give up their rights to DECLINE all such attempts at visa validity checks. People without sufficient knowledge about the law and/or without sufficient courage to invoke one’s rights, meekly voluntarily agree to acknowledge the police officers’ various requests-disguised-as-orders. And then, once a person voluntarily agrees to stop, and answer questions, and show card, and show belongings, then later the court is allowed to use all that against you, since you stupidly agreed to it. And if you agree to it, you won’t be able to have anything thrown out later, since you agreed to it. And the police officers will tell the judge, “I never made any actual ‘demands’ (which in the legal world are called ‘unconditional demands’ = Mujouken na Meirei = 無条件な命令), I simply made some strongly-worded ‘requests’ (which in the legal world are called ‘voluntary requests’ = Nin’i na Onegai = 任意なお願い), it’s not my fault this idiot believed someone on the internet who said ‘Police can legally stop people without suspicion of a crime, based merely on their racial appearance, so just show your card to any police officer committing such suspicionless stops.”

      The point is, just as Debito readers should know that police officers cannot legally use racial appearance as grounds to initiate their requests/demands/threats about showing proof of visa validity, so too, Debito readers should know that companies (unless you are trying to enter a loan contract) cannot legally use racial appearance to initiate their requests/demands/threats about showing proof of visa validity. Jim is correct about the laws, Scipio was wrong to call Jim incorrect. And Scipio was wrong to imply that we should forget about the laws which protect us and just give up and bend over or go home.

      Be strong. Decline all race/culture/nationality-based requests/demands/threats. The phrase you should remember is: “I refuse = Okotowari shimasu = お断りします。”

      • Zig Justice says:

        Okay, I love a lot of your commentary on these boards, and your legal information concerning zairyuu card stops is stuff I’m taking to heart and decided I’m going to put into practice if I’m ever stopped for “walking while foreign” again. (It’s only ever happened to me once, and regrettably that was before I had all the information about the law.)

        But “cancer-causing transmission-device”? I REALLY hope you’re being facetious here (and/or poking fun at California’s ridiculous warning label frenzy), because if you’re being a stickler for correct information, I suggest looking into the actual science of non-ionizing radiation and its effects on biological tissue, in particular at the transmission energy levels mobile devices operate at.

        . o O (Or, tl;dr: )

        • Zig Justice says:


          The parenthetical text was supposed to be “FuturamaFryNotSureIfSerious.jpg”, except in angled brackets.

          . o O (Probably pruned due to some security mechanism that filters posts for possibly malign code, tags, or the like.)

  • I’m far from an expert on security (or cyber security) but, while asking about the real dangers of such technology seems valid, it’s the direction this type of development is going that I find alarming. The questions to ask in such as situation should be, “Who does it serve?” “What happens to it after the data is retrieved?” “Where does is this data stored?”

    No, you can’t get your card scanned by an overzealous nationalist with this app, at least not yet. However, the fact that those in charge thought NJ residents were not policed enough and it should be easier to get our status of residents checked by those who have no legal right to do so is worrying. The Japanese immigration system is very repressive as it is. If you have a Global South passport and you overstay your visa, you will be subjected to cruel long-term detention even if you turn yourself in. What are the repercussions of a dedicated local snitch reporting this information with this tool that makes it extremely easy?

    It’s ironical how much of Japanese society, which is apparently obsessed with rules, operates within a kind of grey area. The flexibility of rules, however, never works in the favour of NJ residents. Any doubt as to what the rules are is used as a way to infringe on our privacy and subject us to discrimination. An app that helps identify any overstayers is not step in the right direction, but a step to give any local citizen power over NJ. Anyone who’s read about the history of oppressive regimes knows that this kind of steps can read to much more large-scale oppression, especially if the public is constantly told myths about its ethnic uniqueness and superiority.

    • Even if the app remains largely unused, the goal of spreading the message that foreigners are supposed to be untrusted will be achieved and that, combined with the fact that Japanese people can legally refuse service to anyone for any frivolous reason or no reason whatsoever, has some serious repercussions in the foreign community’s daily life.
      Right now they’re plastering the train platforms in Tokyo.

      I also question the security model they’ve used.
      Paper pretty much stays in one place, if someone makes a paper copy of my ID it doesn’t go anywhere.
      Unfortunately people will be taking screenshots of the data presented by the app and any questionable third party crappy app installed by the user could freely access it and we all know Japanese are not security conscious people.
      The app itself could be vulnerable, is there any provision to notify the owner of the data (us) if there has been a breach?
      Is there any provision to held accountable those who fail to preserve those data?
      Imagine your data ending up in the wrong hands somewhere on the Net and someone uses it to request access your online banking or media accounts because they “forgot” the password.
      No thanks, if anyone needs to legitimately see my ID, I’ll scan my card with the official app on MY smartphone and they can look at it without any of my data data going into whatever cheap phone they happen to use.

  • Everyone here seems to have missed the problem focusing on the app.

    This app is irrelevant, the fact that there appears to be little or no encryption is the problem. That means I don’t need the app to read your card from a distance, because I happen to personally possess the technical knowledge and apparatus. If I were to reverse engineer whatever encryption might be there, I can then make those capabilities available to others cheaply if I want. For the record, I don’t want to make that capability available, or even spend the 15min of my time it would take to capture the interaction between the card and the phone with an SDR to have a casual look. I can now do that quietly and in the privacy of my own lab environment… I have a card and the app right here.

    The fact that I could do this means many others can also, and some of them may want to make that capability available. The skills and equipment are not expensive, rare or obscure. Security by obscurity is no security at all.

  • Debito, surely misrepresentation of other peoples’ posts is a form of trolling? I know that your time is taken up with a lot of other activities and you hardly have the time to ‘police’ all present comments concerning previous posts, but a casual glance at the threads mentioned by Anonymous OG, on which I had previously commented on, is a total misrepresentation of what I had written. Concerning the Gregory Clark thread, the pattern of that thread went (a) Jeff Kingston mentioned that even Clark had been having trouble with Rightists, concerning some of his Japanese comments (b) some posters got a sense of schadenfreude from Clark’s misfortune (c) Scipio mentioned that while he disliked Clark’s previous comments, it hardly helped our (non-Japanese residents of Japan) own situation with Clark’s misfortune and it’s not as if he is the first ‘gaijin panda’ to have his beautiful Japan shattered by the reality of Japan. In his previous post, AnonOG, had done likewise.

    —- Fair enough. I’ve deleted the second comment.


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