Hokkaido Police at Chitose Airport only stop non-Asian passengers for G8 Summit anti-terrorist ID Checks, ask me for ID three times. Voice recording as proof (UPDATED)


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog.  I was told this would happen–people of color (i.e. non-Asians) are getting racially profiled at Hokkaido’s airports as they exit baggage claim.  (Shin-Chitose and Memanbetsu are confirmed, as also acknowledged by an officer of the Hokkaido Police in the sound recording below).

On Thursday, June 19, 2008, on my way back from Tokyo, I was stopped at 3:12PM at Shin-Chitose Airport by a Mr Ohtomo (Hokkaido Police Badge #522874) at the JAL exit and demanded at least three times my ID.  I recorded the entire exchange as an mp3 sound file (edited down to seven minutes, with no cuts once the police questioning begins).  Download it from here:


It includes the complete exchange in Japanese between Mr Ohtomo and myself, which essentially runs like this:

1) Mr Ohtomo identifies himself as a (plainclothes) police officer, and that for the needs of G8 Summit security, he needs to see ID from me as a foreigner. 


2) When I tell him I’m I’m a Japanese, he keeps asking whether or not I’m a Permanent Resident and continues the quest for my ID, saying that he asks everyone thusly.


3) When I tell him that I’d been watching them and they hadn’t stopped anyone until now, he apologizes and admits that he mistook me for a foreigner (meaning that that was in fact the criterion used).  But he still keeps asking for ID.


4) Eventually I tell him my name and job affiliation (after he allows me to read his badge number out loud for the record), and I say I will cooperate if he will ask three Asians for their ID.  He goes off and tries, but (it’s hard to hear, but I did not cut this section, for the record) the businessman he corners refuses to give his ID.  So I say that if he doesn’t have to, neither should I.  Under the Keisatsukan Shokumu Shikkou Hou, which he acknowledges is binding here.


5) Mr Ohtomo is very apologetic for stopping me, saying that it’s only his job, and that these checks will continue until the Summit ends.  And that it will probably happen to me again and again, but he doesn’t want me to have a bad impression.  He also says (this guy’s a very gentle, conscientious cop) that he has been told a number of times by people he’s stopped that he’s being racist in his activities, and feels bad when they say they are getting a bad impression of Japan due to these ID checks (NB:  Bravo to those people speaking out!–Police are people too and it does have an effect.)


6) The final few minutes of this seven-minute recording is me asking three Australians in English who were on the same plane whether they got ID checked.  They woman said yes, she had been.  Thus verifiably no other passengers (since they were all Asian) from that domestic flight were ID checked by the police.

Further, as visual proof that the two police offers were only stopping non-Asians, I took these photos with my keitai while still in baggage claim.  Easy to spot the cops (Mr Ohtomo is wearing black).  And note how they stay in position regardless of other people exiting (photo four)–they were only checking the White people. 

I missed my train, but no, in the end, I did not have to show my ID.  But when I tried to give this story to a Hokkaido Shinbun reporter I had lined up specially, he didn’t bite, deep sigh.

Listen to the music.  The refrain is familiar and now ever verifiably so.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo



ARUDOU: Hello there.

OHTOMO: Sorry to bother you.  May I speak Japanese?


OHTOMO: I’m from the Hokkaido Police.  With the G8 Summit, we’re asking people to display their Gaijin Cards.

ARUDOU: Yeah, but I’m not a foreigner.

OHTOMO: Really?

ARUDOU: Yep.  I’m a Japanese.

OHTOMO: You’re a permanent resident?

ARUDOU: I’m a Japanese.

OHTOMO: Oh really.  What are you, a half-breed or something?

ARUDOU: I’m a Japanese.

OHTOMO: Are you carrying a drivers license or some proof of that?

ARUDOU: Why do you ask?

OHTOMO: Sorry, could you please step over here out of the way?

ARUDOU: I’d like to get on my train.

OHTOMO: Are you a foreigner?

ARUDOU: Nope.  Japanese.

OHTOMO: Aren’t you carrying proof of that?

ARUDOU: What do you want?

OHTOMO: A drivers license or somesuch.

ARUDOU: Why’s that?

OHTOMO: Do you have any proof of your identity?

ARUDOU: Why do you ask?

OHTOMO: We’re confirming this sort of thing with everyone.

ARUDOU: Uh, sorry, but I have been watching you for quite some time, and you haven’t confirmed anyone’s identity with anyone at all thus far.

OHTOMO: Thus far?

ARUDOU: Yes, lots of people have emerged from baggage claim, but I’m the only one you’ve checked so far.  Isn’t that right?

OHTOMO: Sorry.  It’s because you look like a foreigner.

ARUDOU: Sorry to break it to you, but I’m not a foreigner.

OHTOMO: Oh, really.  Okay, I understand.

ARUDOU: May I go now?

OHTOMO: Sorry, but do you come through here frequently?  Because from now, we’re going to be doing this sort of thing until July 9, and there’s a possibility that somebody’s going to call on you like this.

ARUDOU: There is that distinct possibility, yes.

OHTOMO: Well, please don’t take umbrage.

ARUDOU: Well, I understand that, but do explain yourselves.  And please don’t target people just because they’re white or because they look foreign.

OHTOMO: I understand.

ARUDOU: Now, may I go?

OHTOMO: Sorry about that.

ARUDOU: May I ask your name?

OHTOMO: Ohtomo.

ARUDOU: Mr Ohtomo, from the Hokkaido Police Department, right?

OHTOMO: That’s right.  Shall I show you my ID?

ARUDOU: Thanks.  May I read the number out loud?  522874.  Thanks a bunch.

OHTOMO: Now may I ask you for your ID?

ARUDOU: Er, why?

OHTOMO: Okay, sorry, may I ask your name?

ARUDOU: I’m Arudou Debito, Associate Professor at Hokkaido Information University.

OHTOMO: Associate Professor?

ARUDOU: That’s right.

OHTOMO: I see.  And where were you going and coming back from?

ARUDOU: I’d like to get on my train now.

OHTOMO: So you’re heading towards Sapporo.

ARUDOU: May I go now?

OHTOMO: Understood.

ARUDOU: You’re aren’t asking anyone else these kinds of questions now, are you?

OHTOMO: (demurrer)

ARUDOU: Well, if you want my cooperation, I’d like to ask you to ask three Asians for their ID.  Do so and I’ll cooperate.  How’s that?

OHTOMO: Okay.  Would you be so kind as to wait right here?

ARUDOU: Sic ’em.

[Ohtomo asks a middle-aged Japanese businessman, who never breaks his stride, for his ID.  Following him down the escalator towards the trains, Ohtomo eventually breaks off the chase when his quarry refuses to cooperate and show his ID.]

ARUDOU: Well, he didn’t show his ID, now, did he?


ARUDOU: Well, you can’t rightly ask him, under the Police Execution of Duties Law, now can you?

OHTOMO: Right.

ARUDOU: So I guess that means that if he doesn’t have to show his, I don’t have to show mine, either, right?

OHTOMO: I take it you’ve been stopped like this many times before.

ARUDOU: Well, I’m a naturalized Japanese.  I get treated a lot of different ways by the police as a White person.

OHTOMO: You’ve probably had a lot of bad experiences.

ARUDOU: Well, it’s happened many times.

OHTOMO: I see.  Well, one time when I was talking to a university professor and asked him for his ID under the law, telling him this sort of thing goes on.  He understood what we were up to.  Anyway, we police are only doing this as part of our jobs, part of the activities associated with the Summit.

ARUDOU: I’m sure.  However, please don’t just target people who look foreign or are White.  That’s racial profiling.  Some might even say it’s a kind of racial discrimination.

OHTOMO: Yes, up to now it’s been said to me many times.  “This is racism, this is racial discrimination!”

ARUDOU: It’s not very pleasant, is it?

OHTOMO: But we police aren’t doing this with any prejudicial feelings.  We haven’t even done this all that frequently.  If we had, perhaps people would be more understanding.  But suddenly here we start in June as the Summit approaches, so probably some people are going to find this hard to take.

ARUDOU: It is hard to take.  Think about it for a minute.  As of now, all terrorism in Japan has been caused by Japanese.  From Aum Shinrikyo to the Red Army, all of it.  So why are you only targeting people who look foreign?  That’s the issue.

OHTOMO: I’m very sorry about that.

ARUDOU: Well, never mind.

OHTOMO: Are you going to make your 3:19 train?

ARUDOU: If possible.  Alright, may I go now?

OHTOMO: It’s already 3:15.  Cutting it fine.  Anyway, take care.

ARUDOU: Thanks.

OHTOMO: And also, please remember that you may be asked like this all over again, by somebody other than me.  Could you please not take offense?

ARUDOU: I’ll make an effort (laughs).

OHTOMO: Well, I’ve said this before, but there have been cases where people I’ve questioned have said, “I used to like Japan, but because of things like this, I can’t stand the place anymore.”

ARUDOU: You’re kidding!

OHTOMO: People react like that sometimes.  We aren’t doing this sort of thing just to offend people.

ARUDOU: I understand it’s your job.

OHTOMO: Again, I’m sorry about that.

ARUDOU: No problem.  Look, do what you can to thwart terrorism.

OHTOMO: We’ll be doing this only until the end of the Summit.

ARUDOU: I’m looking forward to that.

OHTOMO: It’s happening in other airports in Hokkaido too.

ARUDOU: Such as Memanbetsu, right?

OHTOMO: Er, yes, right.  Anyway, take care on your way home.

ARUDOU: Thanks.  You too.  Bye.


50 comments on “Hokkaido Police at Chitose Airport only stop non-Asian passengers for G8 Summit anti-terrorist ID Checks, ask me for ID three times. Voice recording as proof (UPDATED)

  • Carl Bingefors says:

    I also experienced it the other day (June 19th). Two officers came up from nowhere and showed me their badges, explained to me that they wanted to se my passport or gaijincard since they checked all foreigners coming till Hokkaido before the visit (they said it out plainly!). I was quite scared so I reluctantly showed them my gaijincard. Then they started to do something that I verbally tried to stop them from doing, but they jotted down all important stuff from that card onto their notepad and they explained that they would do an extra check-up of me to verify my claims.

    The questions they asked included the following:

    What business did I have here? (Invited to a cultural festival)
    Why had I ventured so far away from where I am registered? (Osaka)
    How long will I stay this time?
    Will I come back till Hokkaido yet again until the Summit ends?

    And as I said before, they are taking notes of my answers and says that they will double-check everyhing I say to them. Are they not just paranoid?

    It was generally a very unpleasant experience, far more unpleasant than last year when I was checked by police up in Hokkaido. That time the police-officer at least were very polite and used honorifics. This time the police-officers were very rude, only using short-forms.

    I doubt that I would want to raise my children in this country.

    –Just to confirm, where exactly did your ID Checkpoint happen?

  • Debito, thanks for posting this. This is unjustifiable–not just morally, but even rationally. (How, exactly, are white people more dangerous than Asian people?)

    And that conversation with the policeman has little shades of the Milgram experiment all over it (though admittedly not on the same gruesome level).

  • Not sure why he had so much trouble understanding that Debito is a Japanese citizen. I’m sure I would be a lot less restrained than Debito was in the circumstances.

  • ゲッちゃん says:

    I question the logic of Japanese police.
    Terrorists blend in. Just like spies.
    White people visibly do not blend in. You can spot them at first glance in a crowd of a few hundred.
    What would terrorists do then?
    Not send white people to carry out terror attacks in Japan.
    Even folks with brain power switched to “low” would realize that. Police apparently wouldn’t. The racial issue aside – they’re laughable at best.



    My American friend was asked for an ID by two plainclothes policemen at Chitose airport. But they did NOT identify themselves as policemen. They simply demanded to see IDs. My American friend and her husband were rather upset.


    Does anyone know what (if anything) they are doing at Narita? I am
    due to leave the country on the 3rd and come back on the 8th…

    Wonder if it’ll help if I drive to the airport instead of taking the
    train? Last time I was stopped for ID at Narita, they told me that
    they weren’t asking Japanese for ID because “well, they have to show
    their ID when the leave the parking lot, and it’s only foreigners who
    take the train, so…”, in the most phenomenal display of reasoning I
    have ever seen.

  • This gives the impression that the Hokkaido police were most definitely on holiday when they dished out the brains. Why whites only? Can’t terrorists be japanese, chinese, korean etc.? And the same goes for potential G8 protestors. It’s just plain stupid, not to mention totally racist.

    Debito, brilliant recording! You managed to keep your cool whilst getting all your points across. Well done!

  • happened to me while waiting to meet passengers off JL3047 at 820pm. 1 cop out of the 4 or 5 that were there, i do recognise the cop with the bag, asked me for my id as they were checcking due to the summit. i complied, i dont have too much of a problem with that. what i did have a problem with was the fact they onlyh stopped the foreigners coming out of those gates. so as it happens, out of the whole flight the cops only stopped 2 passengers, that i saw. what a waste of resorces, and why dont they stop the chinese or korean? fact is they cannot distinguish, so it goes to show they are singling out people based on looking foreign. thats what i have a problem with. also, wouldnt a japanese be the most likely person to help out a terrorist organisation moreso than a foreigner?

  • Although racial profiling is obviously wrong I feel sorry a little sorry for Mr. Ohtomo – I bet he can’t wait for the summit to end either.

    I worked at the UK Pavilion during the Aichi Expo and we recieved plenty of bomb threats after the London bombings (the attack was during the Expo). I felt reassured that the police immediately boosted their numbers to look after us in case any thing happened, which of course it didn’t. We even had a uniformed officer at the entrance and were told we could have him for as lond as we needed (only a few days actually). But it was kind of funny to see the plain-closed police walking aound with either an obvious headphone in their ear, or worse still, the police radio hung over their shoulders.

  • You asked what the police are doing at Narita. I was stopped by a policeman in uniform about 10 days ago when I was in the departure hall (in the public area) whilst going to the bank. He asked for my passport in English. Since it was such slow going answering his questions in English, I spoke Japanese so he asked for my gaijin card and the rest of the process was in Japanese. He wrote down my name, address, phone number and job in his notebook (after asking if it was okay). Whilst he was very pleasent about it, it was off-putting since it is the first time I have been stopped in 15 years in Japan. Other than the points he wrote in his book, there were no other questions. I don’t think he even asked where I was going (I had no bags with me at the time so it would have been a reasonable question). When I got back to Narita last week, I was not stopped (maybe because I was with my Japanese wife).


    Page up to see the English translation (and link to Japanese transcript) of the conversation between Police Officer Ohtomo and myself. Arudou Debito

  • Thanks Debito for all your hard, hard work. It is unfortunate that there aren’t more people like you in Japan. If there were, then nonsensical stuff like this may have a chance at ceasing. I have never experienced anything like this but I fear that when (not if) I do I won’t be calm and composed like you appear to be- this may get me in trouble.

  • My hat’s off to you good Sir. Thank you for doing this.

    I have one question though, as hinted in another post. What would happen if instead of speaking perfect Japanese, you spoke broken Japanese? After all, Japanese people (naturalised or otherwise) don’t necessarily speak Japanese, and (correct me if I’m wrong) there is no formal test for Japanese proficiency as part of the naturalisation – or there didn’t use to be one.
    And I don’t think it’s a crime to speak to a policeman with a lower proficiency level that your real abilities.
    And what if you spoke little Japanese, or none at all? Or if you didn’t speak at all and just refuse to give them your ID? Would they wrongly arrest you? Ah, so much ground to be covered…
    Wouldn’t these experiments drag GOJ’s stupid face closer and closer to the obvious, that racial profiling and uneven/racist ID requirements are both wrong and ineffective, if not counterproductive?

    Unfortunately I am not in a position to do it myself, so it’s easy for me do suggest this and play the armchair activist, but perhaps something you may want to consider for the next episode of the saga.

    By the way, I am due to fly out from Narita next week, so I will very likely be “randomly” asked to show my gaijin card. Is the recommendation still to stick to the following script?


    It could be fun (I’ve never been stopped). I am going to miss my flight, aren’t I?

    Thanks again.

  • I really hope there aren’t any real terrorists coming to Hokkaido for the summit, because shoddy police work like this sure isn’t going to catch them.

  • They are stopping people at Roppongi station. I see it every day going to work.

    I have not been stopped yet, probably because I am wearing a suit, but it is just a coincidence. I have been in Japan for 4 years and still not been stopped, but it is just the last month or so that I have seen people being asked.

    They have 1 uniformed officer standing outside the ticket machines and at least 1 plain clothed officer asking for ID’s.

  • Debito, I’m impressed by how well you handled that. At least the police officer made an attempt to work with you. I thought it was funny that he tried to stop an Asian to prove himself to you – not that you didn’t make an excellent point.

    –I was lucky that day to get a nice cop…

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    JapanMMA, I work in Roppongi as well, and often see these officers when I arrive in the evenings (they’re not there in the mornings when my shift is finished), but they’re just standing guard and not hassling anyone.

    How often would you say they’re stopping people? What kinds of people are being stopped? Could you get your employer to write to the police protesting this? It certainly impedes their employees from getting to work in a timely fashion.

  • i live in osaka, and i have often witnessed white people being stopped at shinosaka station as they are leaveing the shinksansen. it seems to happen around the end of the month for some reason.
    and it always the same two old plain-cloths osaka cops, they both wear blue colored vests. i guess its a nice friendly yokosku japan as you enter the kansai area..

  • Wag of my FINGERS!! you ‘COP’ with less common sensesness;leave alone diplomatic self infliction to this land!!!Tip of HAT goes to you DEBITO and the other Japanese guy who taught him about His Duty(The COP’ and fell to understand the tip even to ac).As a matter of same grieve;As gaijin from Africa.I have been asked that ‘Card’many times to the point I lost it’s value!!
    Just asking :In case,I don’t carry it;Does that incriminate you anyway,according to the fluid LAWS of this land as long as I can prove that I have it (in my case as kind of play the same Gotcha game;I digitized it on my cell phone and next time I will flash my cellphone)I ‘ve been asked several times and got tired ;I often tell them that I left at home if they need, I can show them later and surprisingly,I ve been warned but they let me go.To end this comment,I hope that those G8s guys coming here to for photo ops are clearly fingerprinted you never know some might be sought for war crime in future My last wishes, could be a checks from them to gaijin here, who are innocently hunted down for being here .BRAVO DEBITO

    –Thanks. All the what-ifs you might need are answered in our HANDBOOK and at my artery site on these issues, WHAT TO DO IF… site. Debito

  • Debito, See http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200806210069.html
    “Hokkaido lets NGOs set up base near G-8 venue.”

    It’s going to be interesting to see how this pans out. Unless the NGO folks will be razor-wired in and confronted by the Darth Vader uniformed riot police at every turn.

    This whole over-protection hype reminds me of a substitute teacher sent into a class to teach something about which he has no clue. So, instead of blinding his students with his brilliance, he picks up a meter-stick and walks the aisles occasionally frightening the kids into compliance by slapping a desk or a table with the stick and making a loud noise, all the while barking orders for quiet, discipline and obedience. But, the kids are not stupid, and they realize the sub-teacher is out of his depth, and unless the Vice-Principal shows up to assign him elsewhere, it’s only a matter of time before a few of the more devious (and rightfully resentful) of the students decide to play tricks on the guy, just to prove their point. I think that Toyako may be one of those times. Unfortunately, the supposed wisdom that comes with age and experience may not be in evidence. The sub-teacher might laugh to himself and vow to do better next time. The powers that be here, I think, don’t have that sense of reflection, or humor. They’re desperately afraid of being embarrassed on the world stage, and that fear of ridicule (especially as China is watching and being watched) is manifest by use of excessive force and intervention. They’re probably praying that it all just goes without incident, and if so, unfortunately, that will justify (to themselves at least) that this heavy handed approach works! The decline of “Empire” writ large!

    Hokkaido lets NGOs set up base near G-8 venue

    THE ASAHI SHIMBUN 2008/6/21

    SAPPORO–The Hokkaido government will let members of nongovernmental organizations, including outspoken protesters, to set up base at public camping grounds near the venue of the Group of Eight Toyako Summit.

    Several thousand members of Japanese and international groups are expected to descend upon Hokkaido before and during the summit, scheduled for July 7 through 9 at the Lake Toyako resort. It is the first time for Japanese authorities hosting the event to give permission for NGOs to set up camp, officials said.

    During discussions on the plan with the Foreign Ministry and Hokkaido police officials earlier this month, several local representatives raised concerns about the safety of having anti-summit activists within their communities.

    “If any action violating the law occurs, we will take strict action,” a police official said.

    An official for the G8 Action Network, a Tokyo-based network of NGOs critical of the rich nations’ forum, said the use of the campsites would “provide a place to stay and help prevent any confusion.”

    The official, who said the network is planning concerts and rallies in the area, also played down concerns about violence or law-breaking.

    The campsites appointed for NGO use are: the Toyouracho Shinrin Koen camping ground in Toyoura, about 16 kilometers west of the summit venue; and the Orofure Hotto Piaza campsite in Sobetsu, about 18 km east of the venue.

    The Toyoura campsite can hold about 1,000 people, while the Sobetsu campsite has a capacity of about 100.

    Hokkaido’s decision came after G8 Action Network applied for permission to use the facilities with the municipal governments of Toyoura and Sobetsu.

    The two communities conferred with Hokkaido government officials and other authorities before deciding to give the green light, officials said.

    The local governments will collect user fees while Hokkaido officials will serve as coordinators between the communities and the NGOs.

    “We decided that it would not benefit the NGOs if their bases of activities were not close to the venue,” a senior Hokkaido official said. “We discussed the matter with security authorities and reached the decision.”

    Sapporo-based Anti-G8 Summit Hokkaido (Ainu Mosir) Liaison, a league of about 12 activist groups, will set up camp on a privately owned meadow in the city of Date, about 20 km southeast of the G-8 venue.

    The group said about 1,000 people will gather at the campsite, and events, such as demonstrations, will be staged.

    “The groups gathering are all nonviolent organizations, and naturally, we will not cause any trouble for local residents,” an official of the league said.

    Providing access to campsites for anti-summit activists has become common at G-8 venues overseas. Last year, at the Heiligendamm Summit in Germany, local authorities permitted groups to use plots of open land within 10 km of the summit venue.(IHT/Asahi: June 21,2008)

  • Carl Bingefors says:

    I wrote a post earlier regarding being stopped at the airport. It was in front of the ANA arrivals gate, Thursday at around 17:40. I hope this helps.

    And I am still chocked over this incident. The police back home would certainly close down half the city for the day the event is scheduled, but never stop people like this. They are a little too ambitious in my opinion to stop terrorism. They could do just as well with lesser means.

  • Another question: I’ve heard years ago that the p0lice cannot follow in a konbini and ask for the gaijin card. I was wondering if inside the gates at a JR station or metro for example, they have the right to ask for the gaijin card? Is it considered as public space or “semi-public”? I know they do it outside the gates and I often see 2-3 cops inside the gates of a station in “shitamachi area”, Tokyo.

  • Mark in Yayoi, I see them when I get to the office, around 9AM. There is 1 plain clothed officer standing looking at people pishing their tickets through the machines and at least (I cant say I have seen more) 1 plain clothed officer stoping people.

    I see this just about every day (lately). Like I said though, never happened to me. Maybe the people in front of me did something suspicious, but I didnt see anything…

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    Martin, since the train companies (an awful lot of them, if you go by the list of collaborators on some of the summit-related signs hanging in the train cars) are actively cooperating with the police in this situation, and have presumably “invited” them in, I suspect that the police can stop people inside the train stations. In a convenience store, they don’t have the owner’s permission to enter that private property.

    Just a guess.

    JapanMMA, that’s disappointing to see that they’re stopping people in a totally non-summit-related place like Roppongi Station. At least in Chitose Airport they’ve got an ostensible reason to be suspicious of people — in Roppongi they’re just using the summit as a very weak excuse for their harassment!

    I wonder how many people have been stopped all across the country, in total. Perhaps we could estimate it based on observations so far (so many people per minute, so many hours of police presence per day, etc.). It would make a good headline in an article denouncing this unjustified fear-mongering: 100,000 stoppages, 100,000 false accusations, 0 actual criminals. Even people totally unconcerned with immigrants’ and minorities’ rights would be upset at the blatant waste of tax money.

  • Debito, just to add fuel to the fire, here’s a recent article I found.

    橋下知事暗殺をネットで呼びかけの男逮捕 府警
    6月22日15時24分配信 産経新聞

    My quicky translation of the original text in the link.

    “Osaka Prefecture Police Arrest a Man For Calling for Gov. Hashimoto’s Assasination on the Internet”

    The Osaka Prefecture 1st Investigational Division and the Eastern Osaka Police Department arrested Hirokazu Yasunaga (35), a systems engineer residing in Funabashi, Setagayaku, Tokyo,on charges of intimidation for allegedly calling for the assasination of Osaka Prefecture Governor Toru Hashimoto on an internet forum. According to the police, Yasunaga stated “I was against Gov. Hashimoto’s financial reform plan. I also wanted to stand out.”

    According to the investigation, Yasunaga is believed to have threatened Gov. Hashimoto at approximately 1:40 AM on June 6th when he wrote “Let’s murder the Kim Jong-Il of Naniwa [A’s note: Naniwa is an old name for Osaka], Toru Hashimoto!”, “Anybody who wants to kill hashimoto with terrorism, gather round [clunky translation, but direct].”, etc. from his home computer. A viewer of the forum reported the threats to the police on the 12th. The Prefectural Police analyzed the IP address and identified Yasunaga.

    My thoughts,

    1. This has to be the stupidest “systems engineer” ever. Posting threats and propositions to assasinate government officials from his home computer. Brilliant, this one.

    2. I doubt this guy was serious. Just an average Joe (Tanaka?) foolishly believing he’s anonymous on the internet. However, I thought it was interesting because Yasunaga, a native son of Japan, was the one to have alledgedly called for Hashimoto to be assasinated via “terrorism”.

  • This has been posted somewhere by someone else but I thought I would point it out again. It seems that Japanese citizens have committed terrorist acts overseas (Lod Airport attack, the Laju attack in Singapore, the Hague…) but no foreigners have done so in Japan.
    If the authorities are going to profile, they should be asking the natives for their IDs.
    I don’t want them to really do it, but it just seems their logic is flawed.

  • Jeez, only during the summit? When I returned from my flight to malaysia last december, staff at Kansai International Airport were sending all japanese people straight through the customs part, but stopping all foreigners, such as myself, and emptying their entire bags out and going through everything, underpants and clothes and books asking silly questions. I then had to submit to a body search “pat down” behind a screen. Only foreigners I noticed.

    The guy said they were checking foreigners because of terrorism. I was infuriated.

    There was no G8 summit then. It only happened because it was early in the morning and not busy. When I came back from korea there were far too many foreigners to check them all, although one nice customs bloke ignoring me asked my girlfriend what my job was.

    Keep up the good work.


    Two weeks ago I met a VIP from the US and his wife at Narita Airport. Heading to the Keisei Line still in the airport I was approached by a young policeman asking me for our passports. All three of us are white. I asked in Japanese what the problem was and he said it was an anti-terror measure. My guest do not speak Japanese but could see I was irritated. I quickly flashed my gaijin card and then he asked in English for their passports. The complied and I asked why in the world it was necessary seeing how they just had been fingerprinted and photographed at immigration. He was nice and apologetic.

    My guess he was given a number of passports he needed to check and was just meeting his quota. My guest thought it was a bit odd, but nothing more than that.

  • I also got pulled aside going onto an airplane at Narita, years back, and had my carry-on baggage checked. I didn’t see the security workers pulling aside any Japanese-looking people. It was a bit upsetting but what could I do about it.

  • I was running this marathon and I was in first place and these frigging cops stop me. Anyway, after I finished the questioning, I was so far behind that I could only get 5th place.

    –You’re kidding, right? If you’re serious, we need more details. Times, dates, the actual name of the event itself. Weren’t you wearing some kind of marathon overgarment identifying you as a participant?

  • Next time, just pretend that you’ve got the flu and cough on the card before handing it over. You know, all the stuff you can get while on the airplane:”a foreign flu” or who knows what.

  • Wait a second, you guys….

    Enough of this hate topic. In the USA (and UK for crying out loud) for years they’re doing CHECKS on anybody who look middle eastern (even though they are.. let’s say… Indians or Malaysians)… everywhere, airport, museums, etc… they stopped people for no reason even though they are AMERICANS/ british.

    This is security issue. Get it? If you are not a terrorist then you’ve got nothing to be afraid of. Just go on with the flow.


  • Hi Diana,

    I hope that people in other countries who are being singled out as having a higher Terrorisk than others of a different look are also making a stand. I’m fine with random checks, but it just doesn’t make sense that governments (not just Japan, but everywhere), are not checking every kind of person.

    Fair enough that no one needs to be worried if they aren’t a terrorist. But don’t you think it’s ignorant and foolish for authorities in Japan and other countries to lump everyone who looks, or is Middle Eastern (or the current Terror Color of the Month) into the category of Terrorist? If anything, wouldn’t you say that THAT is the paranoia?

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    In the US and UK, records are kept and you can complain if you feel you’re being harassed. You even get a receipt proving that the police stopped you:


    Contrast this with Japan where you have trouble just getting police to give their names or badge numbers, and of course you have no outlet at all for complaints, let alone harassment suits!

  • Diana,

    If you read the comments the arguments are not just about racial profiling and whether this can be justified under the pretext of security, but whether the security strategy is effective or not.

    The apparent way of thinking is that if there is going to be a terrorist attack it is going to be from a foreigner and not a Japanese person therefore lets consider all foreigners potential terrorists. This has no basis. A more effective security strategy would be to investigate suspect behaviour, with an evidence basis, from all people regardless of race. Also I fail to see how a simple ID check is going to stop a determined terrorist.

    It is also important to look at the bigger picture of racial discrimination. For example if false negative generalizations about foreigners are believed to be true, it can have significant impacts in the ability for foreginers to get employment, get a room, enter an establishment, get a promotion, be included in society in general etc etc. Most people (I think) believe that racism and racial discrimination is a battle worth fighting against.

    Discrimination can be witnessed in all countries. However this is not a justification to do nothing about it and “go with the flow”. Debito is just one man, he is not Amnesty International, he cannot solve the world’s problems alone. He has more moral responsibility to sort out human rights problems in his own backyard before thinking about someone else’s.

    Also, if you also read more carefully you will see that people here are concerned about improving Japan in regard to human rights and are not interested in “topics of hate”. Being critical of something does not mean you hate it.

    –Thanks for going to bat for me! 😉

  • In the US and UK, records are kept and you can complain if you feel you’re being harassed. You even get a receipt proving that the police stopped you:

    Hmm. A bit off topic, maybe, but anyway: When the train is late, they will give you what my buddy calls a “moushiwake gozaimaken” that you can take to show the bean counters at work, if you have a job where your pay is docked if you are late. Often having the little ticket will get you out of having to lose pay/overtime because of the train delaying you.

    What do foreigners do if they are late because of police harassment? Just suck it up? I’ve only ever been held up by the cops (besides speeding tickets etc. which are my own damn fault) when it doesn’t matter — ie., when going home, and I don’t lose pay for being late anyway. But I’d hate to think of Alberto Six-pack losing an hour’s pay because he was late to his job at the factory because he was harassed by the cops in front of the station yet again…

  • > In the US and UK, records are kept and you can complain if you feel you’re being harassed. You even get a receipt proving that the police stopped you

    Not sure about the US, but for those who still picture the UK as a model for freedom and human rights, smell the coffee. Here’s a few links


  • Great job. My thanks to you.

    I also see up to four plainclothed, and more recently a uniformed police at Roppongi – on most days. Easy to spot since they stand watching so attentively, and have their IDs tied to their belts and tucked into their pockets.

    From what I have seen, they are not after the obvious foreigner (blacks, whites), but instead after the asians. I have stood to watch, sort of hoping for the experience, but have been passed over so far.

  • dave_revering says:

    Diane and Samantha – Regarding the statement, “I hope that people in other countries who are being singled out as having a higher Terrorisk than others of a different look are also making a stand. I’m fine with random checks, but it just doesn’t make sense that governments (not just Japan, but everywhere), are not checking every kind of person”

    In the US (I cannot speak for other countries) they do check every kind of person. Even my parents in their 70s or my daughter (at the age of 5)…all caucasian…all American. Once a group of Middle Eastern men (appeared to be in their 20s) walked by as my 75 year old dad was being searched. (I am not implying they should have stopped the Middle Eastern men)

    If they do not do this they will have CAIR, the ACLU, and tons of other agencies lining up to sue. Our government would not allow this as well. The US is certainly not perfect, but the point is this is what Japan should be doing if they wish to fingerprint, photograph, and interrogate. Do not ask for ID by race. Ask Japanese people as well.

    Japan is going backwards….fast.

    I agree…target the behaviour, not the race.

  • jim Says:
    ‘i live in osaka, and i have often witnessed white people being stopped at shinosaka station as they are leaveing the shinksansen. it seems to happen around the end of the month for some reason.’

    Monthly quotas. The road traffic police get strict at the end of the month also.

    Another disturbing thing I heard today – not able to verify it but if anyone can it would be nice – is that the police are receiving financial bonuses for everyone they arrest. A student of mine was arrested while doing nothing other than walking down the street, on suspicion of being a chikan (poor kid, he couldn’t chikan a mouse). Wouldn’t be surprised if there was some kind of reward/target thing going on with the ‘terrorism’ threats either.

  • Does anyone have info on the laws? I used to be harrassed by the police (stopped, asked to show my ID and questioned for absolutely no reason other than having white skin.) and did some research on what my rights are. I seem to remember reading that they must have a legitimate reason and simply having white skin isnt enough. This is easy to get around for the fascist police. They can just say something like “a foreigner was just reported smashing a window” or some such nonsense. In that case you have to show them but you have the right to first see their ID.

    A few evenings ago, an aquaintence of mine was in a little trouble over an absurdly trivial affiar (accused of throwing a glass of water in the park and wetting someone. Of course this is probably true but given the fact that there were literally, about 50 Japanese people doing the same thing at the same time……… this guy was VERY unamused!). Anyway, I was there and as I speak a little Japanese the fascist police and the guy in question asked me to help out. I did so only to be then hit up and asked to show my own ID for inspection. I asked the fascist to show his ID first and he refused (I was surrounded by at least 10 of them at this point.) so I refused to show mine.

    I eventually relented because I know that a number of laws changed this year and wasnt sure if this was one. Is this one of the laws that changed? Do foreigners have the right to first ask the fascists to show their ID?

  • Let me rephrase that. If the police ask you to show ID, does a foreigner have the right to first demand to see the policeman or womens ID? If the police refuse, does such a foreigner also have the right to refuse?

  • Reyter,
    Absolutely you have the right to refuse. After all, how do you know it’s a real cop, not just someone who’s rented a cop costume? (The problem is, of course, that if you piss the cop off for whatever reason, you’re going to be in for a hard time one way or another. It’s in the the nature of the job that it’s going to attract little Nazis, but that goes for cops everywhere, not just Japan. And of course there are some very nice folk in the police too.)

  • That is along the lines of what he said. I said I dont know that he is a policeman and therefore I must see I.D. He replied that you can see from his uniform that he is a policeman. I replied that my mother could sew such a uniform.

    Does that mean I have the right to refuse but if I do so the police have the power to give me a hard time? What would this “hard time” entail? I didnt want to be dragged down to the police station thats why I finally relented.

    — You have the right to ask for and be shown cop ID upon request. Download the laws and show them to the next recalcitrant cop you encounter.

  • I got that from the policeman that stopped me in Sendai airport. He said the same thing but showed me his ID anyway.

  • If you are stopped and asked to show I.D. and questioned in front of a kouban, would or could this be classed as “a police administration area”? Could they arrest one for refusing to show his or her I.D.? Of course provided one hasnt broken any laws and is only being asked because he or she is a foreigner or looks like a foreigner. What if one has broken a minor law, like going through a red light on a bicycle for example. In that case may one still demand to see the policeman or womens I.D. before showing ones own?

    Obviously if a serious crime has been committed all bets are off.

  • Yep – I got stopped at Chitose during G8 – I am white, my Japanese is bad and yes my Geijin card did not show my updated (and approved) Visa – upstairs and over the coals for 2 hours after faxing a copy of my passport, I was let free…not quite unjust but definitely at the harsh end of the spectrum. [invective deleted]

  • reyter,
    wearing a police uniform is not the relevant issue.
    he has a name and number and is required to show it to you on request.
    its called accountability.
    its also the law.

    (in response to your other question,if you are IN the koban then tihs no longer applies)

    you cant be dragged to the koban unless you agree to go or are arrested


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