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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.
Hi Blog. As you may have heard, the Justice Ministry has enabled the general public to collect your personal data from your “Gaijin Cards” via downloadable app. That’s the subject of my most recent SNA column, out today. Opening:
Visible Minorities: Gaijin Card Reader App Obliterates Privacy
By Debito Arudou
Shingetsu News Agency, June 21, 2021
“Privacy in Japan… is not being seen.”
This quote, usually attributed to former US Ambassador to Japan Edwin O. Reischauer, was made in the context of an overcrowded Japan in his day, used to explain the stark difference between public and private behaviors of Japanese (sneaking off, for example, to love hotels for a bit of private time).
But privacy is taken quite seriously in Japan, especially if it will damage a reputation. Television broadcasts of criminal suspects on perp walks often have their handcuffs blurred, since the person hasn’t been convicted yet. Media reporting on businesses accused of unsavory activities (such as food poisoning or putting up “Japanese Only” signs) often refuse to report their company names so it doesn’t adversely affect their sales. Even people who park their cars in those love hotels may find themselves in a parking garage with curtains, or with their license plates covered up by pieces of plywood provided by the establishment.
So why doesn’t this concern for privacy apply to foreign residents? (Examples of egregious violations of privacy by nationality, contrasted with all the legal protections for citizens, follow. Then we get to the new Gaijin Card Reader App…)
Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
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