Britain’s “Gaijin Card” system comes online: UK Telegraph warns against potential foreign celebrity backlash


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.  Compare and contrast the introduction of fingerprinting (moreover Gaijin Cards) for foreigners in the UK. At least high-profile Britons are protesting it, and the media (the conservative media, even) is giving them a voice. That’s more than can be said for Japan last year around November 20, when the J media suppressed the opinion of NJ residents and NGOs when fingerprinting was reintroduced.  Still sad that these ID carding tendencies for foreigners only are spreading.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Celebrities like Madonna won’t come to Britain because of ID cards

Britain will suffer cultural and economic damage from the introduction of identity cards for foreigners, preventing stars such as Madonna staying in the UK, according to a group of academics and writers.

By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor 

Daily Telegraph, Last Updated: 8:20AM GMT 25 Nov 2008

Courtesy of Sendaiben

From today, anyone from outside the European Union who wants to live and work in the UK for more than six months will have to apply for a compulsory British ID card.

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, wants 90 per cent of foreign residents in Britain to have identity cards by 2014.

To get an ID card, people will have their faces scanned and will have to give 10 fingerprints.

Campaigners fear that this will put off celebrities like American singer Madonna from setting up home here and so damage the cultural life of the nation.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group including author Philip Pullman, musicians Neil Tennant and Brian Eno, campaigning QC Baroness Kennedy and comedians Mark Thomas and Lucy Porter, warn of the damage to Britain’s image abroad.

Footballers, such as Manchester City’s £32.5million Brazilian striker Robinho, would also have to carry ID cards if they came to the UK after today.

The letter says: “If this scheme is continued … fewer of the world’s leading performers in every field will choose to make their homes here than do now.

“Successful foreigners such as Robinho or Kevin Spacey, and the overseas students who subsidise our universities, have a lot of choice where they study or exercise their talents. Some will decide Britain has become too unfriendly.”

The group, which also Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti and singer Crispian Mills, also warns of a steep drop in fee income as foreigners decide that the UK is not a “friendly” country to come to study.

It warns: “If this scheme is continued it will lead to less fee-income and lower international status for our educational institutions.

“British students will have to pay higher tuition to make up, and will have less money to spend with local businesses. ‘ID cards for foreigners’ is not just a small-minded slogan – Britain will suffer culturally and economically.”

Last night Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat shadow home secretary, supported the concerns that British cultural life will lose out from the introduction of ID cards.

He said: “Foreign nationals continue to make an enormous contribution to British culture, from the Premier League to the performing arts.

“If these people choose to go elsewhere to places that won’t treat them like criminals, this country will be all the poorer for it.”

Speaking yesterday ahead of the first ID cards being issued, Miss Smith said: “In time identity cards for foreign nationals will replace paper documents and give employers a safe and secure way of checking a migrant’s right to work and study in the UK

“The Australian-style points system will ensure only those we need – and no more – can come here. It is also flexible, allowing us to raise or lower the bar according to the needs of business and taking population trends into account.”


11 comments on “Britain’s “Gaijin Card” system comes online: UK Telegraph warns against potential foreign celebrity backlash

  • There’s no way I’m going to try and talk my wife into moving back to the UK now.

    I’m not entirely against having a gaijin card. I think having to prove that your visa status when you live in a foreign country is a fair enough. But forcing foreigners to have all ten fingerprints taken and a face scan is far too much. I couldn’t put my wife through it.

  • “but I don’t think that ‘this would keep Madonna from wanting to live here’ will scare people into submission!”

    Seriously: “OMG, Kevin Spacey doesn’t want to come here?”

    There goes British culture. NOT.

  • The funny thing is that Britain and America can get away with it to a certain extent. They are popular countries for skilled immigrants and a bit of fingerprinting is probably not going to deter that many people looking to make a home there. Japan on the other hand is not a typical destination for skilled immigrants. Therefore things like this are much more likely to make people think twice about coming here.

  • Sean
    I assume you have been through Japanese immigration?…the only difference is 2 fingers not 10. Rather prophetic perhaps?
    So having a valid visa for being in the country, as I do, you seem to suggest there is no requirement for me to be finger printed. Ergo, you are quite happy to be finger printed every time you re-enter Japan. Yet my fingers haven’t changed from my last printing nor has my visa status.

    I think there is perhaps a bit of the usual hyperbola ting about the UK system that has just been introduced. For example there is a Visa Waiver Test to decide which countries they need to issue visitor visas to and which they don’t. Countries will be assessed against a basket of criteria, including immigration, criminality and terrorism threats, and economic impact. Recent evidence of illegals caught in Japan surprise surprise show the very high numbers being Asians of one sort or another (economic migrants).
    The cards are not required to be carried at all times too, unlike here in Japan.

    I am personally against such system however, i recognise the need to control illegals. As such the UK system is not that bad, as it is just formalising the system that is already in place, assuming one is legal, with modern technology. It is also targeting students and similar first, since this is how most illegals enter…or rather start as legals but never leave once their visa expires. Also those already settled in UK legally do not require such cards until 2012/13.

    I would much rather be subjected to a system like in the UK than carry a gaijin card which, when asked, i must produce and every time i go away on biz/holiday and re-enter be finger printed and photographed. Ive been through Kansai airport 10 times this year and still have one more biz trip in a few weeks. Being scanned and finger printed each time is becoming tiresome. What do they think will happen, i’ll burn off my fingers to change my prints???

    Have it done once and be done with it….not every bloody time i nip in and out of the country in which i am legally resident and can easily demonstrate!

    Incidentally, i always get stopped by customs and always have my bag searched when entering. I never get this anywhere else in the world. Yet when I’m with my wife…just waved through…

  • remember now that when you go into britain now and have a dom connecting flight all people get fingerprinted,photod whether foreign or uk citizen

  • Adamw
    That’s becasue they want to make sure the person that checked into the flight boards the flight and not someone else; it is an internal security check. Once the flight departs, the scanned details are erased.

  • On December 4th, the European Court of Human Rights unanimously passed a verdict that may be important to know about for those who wish to go against this UK initiative. The entire verdict can be found in the following [URL=]link[/URL]

    The issue was about two British people who had earlier been suspected of criminal offences but cleared of suspicion. Their DNA and fingerprints were still retained though. The 17 members of the European Court came to the unanimous verdict that such a retention after having been cleared of charges constituted a violation of article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

    The importance is that this sets a precedent. If even ex-suspects have the right that their fingerprints (which is what this is about) are not retained, so do people who never were suspected in the first place.

    While I’m not sure if a citizen of a country that does not belong to the signatories of the European Convention on Human Rights can make an appeal, I would expect that the treaty would in fact allow that. This is something legal experts may want to take a look at. In any case though, I’d say having ‘human rights’ for Europeans only would be a serious public relations debacle in it’s own right…

    If any Japanese would fight this, they can count on my sympathy. Not only because it’s the right thing to be against fingerprinting them if I’m against the same practice (to be sure, in even harsher form) being done on me, but also because it can only help mutual understanding about the problems involved if Japanese would fight this one tooth and nail.

  • John K.

    I’m against the Japanese fingerprinting system too. I’ve already been fingerprinted and if we decide to move back to the UK my wife will have it done too. I just think it’s sad that the whole world is moving in this direction. But I agree, at least the UK’s system means you only get fingerprinted once.

    “So having a valid visa for being in the country, as I do, you seem to suggest there is no requirement for me to be finger printed.”

    If you have a valid visa, issued by the Japanese government then, no, I don’t see why we should have to be fingerprinted. I have permanent residency and had to submit plenty of information to the Japanese government to be issued with it. But of course these are the laws and we are still to an extent guests so I suppose we have to put up with it.

    I don’t know why I’m so against fingerprinting as much as I am especially when my wife has already said that she doesn’t care if she gets fingerprinted and when a few of my NJ friends in Japan don’t really seem to mind either.

    But Jacqui Smith is my local M.P. (when I’m back in the UK) so I plan to write to her to express my feelings about how it would affect me and my wife if we move there.

  • Sean

    “..I don’t know why I’m so against fingerprinting as much as I am especially when my wife has already said that she doesn’t care if she gets fingerprinted …”

    I concur. Never having committed a crime and never being subjected to such deeds my inner conscience tells me that if I have done nothing wrong and everything is legal and above board, and easily demonstrated a such why must I be subjected to the same procedures are a criminal, just to come home?

    There are those that always bark…if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide. That is just bollocks. Which is like saying, i know to commit murder is a crime, so i wont do it, but until i actually commit it, i cannot actually say it is a crime! For those that don’t understand the analogy, is just QED.

  • Well, basically the risks with fingerprinting are either the False Positive rate of 1 in 10000 (effectively meaning that a significant amount of people get incorrectly flagged as people on the ‘wanted’ list), and the risk of duplication for any reason, after which they can not be replaced. Either event, or both, will get innocent people on the wrong side of the ID divide (

    With regards to the famous comments: “If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide” / “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”, I’m sorry to say the people who either say or believe that don’t have the faintest clue of what privacy issues are about. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, of which Japan happens to be a member, set up guidelines in the 1980’s on which the major privacy laws, including the Japanese, are based (,2340,en_2649_34255_1815186_1_1_1_1,00.html). They recognised eight basic principles:

    – Collection limitation: Do not collect more than you need, and use only lawful and fair means.
    – Data Quality: Make sure that the information is not too much, not too little, that you really need it, and most of all that it is correct.
    – Purpose Specification: Be open to what you use the information for, and be open if you change that.
    – Use limitation: Do not use the information for anything else without consent or by the authority of law.
    – Security Safeguards: Simply said, keep prying eyes away from the information.
    – Openness: Effectively open communication about the information.
    – Individual Participation: Data subjects (that means us) should be able to intervene with regards of our own information and get information on what exists, have it corrected, or in case of wrong use, have it stopped.
    – Accountability: The people controlling the information should be taken to account if they misuse it.

    You can see for yourself that “If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide” / “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” is not a very good answer to the principles. It doesn’t answer the second, third, or fifth through eight priciple at all, in fact I’d say it’s rather contrary to the sixth…

    And, I’m sorry to say, I have yet to come across any government institution that acts even remotely like in the spirit of the above principles. If that would be the case, even with something as sensitive as fingerprints, it would save at least me a lot of time to be here…


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