Sankei: manual to help NJ “illegal overstays” evade police: 「不法滞在者向け職質逃れマニュアル出回る」


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. Mark in Yayoi sends me his translation of an article (entitled below via Google Search as 「不法滞在者向け職質逃れマニュアル出回る」) regarding some mail-in manual regarding “illegal overstaying” NJ evading police inquisition. I include his report in full below and the original Japanese article at the very bottom.

MY QUICK COMMENT: This kind of guidebook is inevitable. We already have manuals for all manner of screwing over other people (most notably in my researches I found manuals for exploiting the very nasty divorce system in Japan so that ex-wives can squeeze the most money out of their ex-husbands).  Not much mention, however, about how the police have created the market for this manual thanks to their Instant Police ID Checkpoints and self-indulgent Bicycle Checks.

It’s also annoying that the Sankei has this persistent habit of whipping up fear of NJ (such as exaggerating crime statistics on their front pages; the Sankei exclusively publishes Tokyo Gov. Ishihara’s inflammatory “Nihon Yo” column, after all, which had two segments talking about “ethnic DNA” and the Chinese propensity to commit crime) and taking unprofessional and cheap ethnic shots at them as well. They are, after all, in my view farther-right than even the Yomiuri in terms of daily papers, so that’s par for the course.  It’s sad, however, that this newspaper is encouraging police to view even “polite” NJ as suspicious. Can’t win, can we?

Thanks for the translation, Mark. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


From: Mark in Yayoi. Subject: Sankei article, 1/13, “Fuhou Taizaisha ni ‘Yami no Shinan’ (A ‘Secret Orientation’ for Illegal Aliens)” Date: January 14, 2009 11:33:19 PM JST To:

Finished the translation! I added the original Japanese in brackets wherever I thought it might be useful.

Interestingly, the word “gaikokujin” isn’t used at all (except in one imagining of a police officer’s thoughts). The illegal aliens are called “fuhou taizaisha”. Feel free to change this to “illegal overstayers” if you like; I wasn’t sure which to use, since someone who came to Japan with no visa at all isn’t actually ‘over’-staying; but then on the other hand, ‘fuhou taizaisha’ doesn’t actually specifically state the the “stayer” is foreign.

I also like how they call the streetside police interrogations “voluntary”; we all know what happens when you express a disinclination to talk with a police officer!


“Carry a bag, don’t stint on hairstyling, and report your alien card as ‘lost’!”

— A Secret Orientation for Illegal Aliens —

[the word for ‘secret orientation’ is ‘yami no shinan’, where ‘shinan’ is an old Chinese device that would show people which direction was south. Ninety degrees away from the eastern direction to which English speakers “orient” themselves.]

SANKEI SHINBUN January 13, 2009. Original Japanese at very bottom

Translation by Mark in Yayoi

“We’ll teach you how to get away when the police stop you on the street!”

This is the catch copy for a manual that is now circulating, instructing illegal aliens on how to escape from police questioning. Supposedly it was sold through newspapers and free magazines aimed at Chinese and Koreans in Japan. Organized Crime Bureau No. 1 of the National Police Agency has obtained this manual, and is sending warnings to each police station. The police are strengthening their vigilance as these newspapers, carrying illegal advertisements, are becoming breeding grounds for crime [hanzai no onshou].

—– [Sidebar text:] Police questioning: Voluntary questioning [nin’i no shitsumon] carried out by police officers, calling out to and stopping people who have the possibility of being connected with a crime. In many cases, this leads to sudden arrests of suspects, and early resolutions and deterrence of crime. [Response is] not mandatory [kyouseiryoku wa naku], and [the person being questioned] can maintain silence. —–

* Making use of psychology

The manual obtained by the bureau is entitled “Techniques to Preserve Your Safety: Keep Yourself Safe!” [“jibun no anzen o mamoru technique: jibun no anzen wa jibun de mamorou!”]. Buyers send e-mail to an address listed in the newspaper advertisement and transfer Y3800 to a specific bank account, and the manual is e-mailed back.

The return e-mail advertised “methods derived from loopholes in the law [hou no fubi no sukima] and human psychology”.

“It’s important to always carry a bag. If you’re going to play the part of a salaryman, play it completely. Have you ever seen a Japanese salaryman without a bag?”

“Next is your hairstyle. Japanese salons are expensive, but this is an investment in yourself. You should spend the money and not skimp.”

The manual begins with one’s outward appearance, and continues on to how to escape when a police officer asks to ‘see your Alien Registration Card’.

“Go to the police box in an area you pass through frequently and file a ‘lost item report’ [funshitsu todoke], saying, ‘I lost my entire wallet. I’ve also filed a report at that [other] police box.’ This will make it look not like you have no visa, but that you’ve merely lost [your papers].”

“Here is another interesting technique. File a ‘lost item report’ at all the police boxes in the area. Then, on the same day, go to one of them and get the report erased, saying that ‘the person who found my wallet got in touch with me’. In the evening, when you pass that police box, greet them [aisatsu] yourself and say ‘my wallet has been returned’. By saying hello to them three times a day, they’ll think of you as one of the area’s ‘polite foreigners [reigi tadashii gaikokujin da na]’, and you’ll be able to walk by without fear.”

The Bureau has circulated an internal memo to police stations warning that illegal aliens are using these methods to escape detection, and have advised the police to take care in questioning people [shokumu shitsumon jou no chuui o yobikaketa]. There is no applicable law, however, making sale of this manual a crime.


That’s the end of the part about overstayers/illegal aliens. The article then goes on to discuss an advertisement for non-approved drugs appearing in one of these papers, with the drugs being sold without permission, and how two Chinese people (one man and one woman) were arrested. Managers at this and six other papers were later questioned, and saying that they didn’t know that this was against the law. The papers were forced to write letters of apology. A spokesman for the bureau then goes on to say that ‘there must be other no-good advertisements [akushitsu na koukoku] in these papers’, and that he would like to proactively [sekkyokuteki ni] find the illegal cases.

I don’t normally read the Sankei and just stumbled upon this one coincidentally. Does this paper have a consistent position on the police, their approaches to foreigners, or on foreigners in general?

[Answer: Yes it does, See my comment preceding this article.]

Mark in Yayoi


Original Japanese:

産經新聞 2009.1.13 01:01




14 comments on “Sankei: manual to help NJ “illegal overstays” evade police: 「不法滞在者向け職質逃れマニュアル出回る」

  • So now scruffy-looking, unfreidnly foreigners are “suspicious”, and neat-looking, friendly foreigners are also “suspicious”. Sounds like the cops have their bases covered on this one.

    — As is becoming police SOP, “walking while White” (or non-Asian, or somehow “NJ-looking”) itself is suspicious.

  • I live in Shinjuku, where all of a sudden it seems the police have turned against foreigners. For the first 7 years I lived in Japan I was never stopped by a police officer except for once at Fukuoka Airport and once at Nagoya station.

    Since around the time of the Hokkaido summit however, about 6 times I have had taps on my shoulder and then a request to check my bicycle registration. I am always surrounded by pedestrians and other cyclists waiting at the light. It is absolutely humiliating to be singled out by the police in a crowd, especially in my own neighborhood. It always happens on a Saturday morning and puts me in a horrible mood to start the weekend.

    While I cooperated the first few times, recently it has been upsetting me and I have begun saying the same thing each time:

    (I live here and pass in front of this koban almost every day. In the last 6 months I have been stopped numerous times. Why just me?)

    All police officers have backed off after that sort of complaint and none have tried to go ahead with the check. That does says something positive about them, but if this new memo being circulated is going to cause even more problems I might just consider leaving the neighborhood.

    By the way, besides being approached at a light, I have a favorite experience. I was literally pulled over by a police car in Okubo north of Shinjuku, lights flashing and everything. It made a real scene on the street. The reason? A simple bike registration check.

  • Haha, in my case, I never get hassled by my local koban, and I’m quite sure that it’s for the exact opposite reason — I was actively rude to one just after having moved in. I walked out of my building at night and there was a cop in rain gear (not obviously a cop) checking to see which bicycles were locked, etc. I thought he was a bike thief and accosted him while calling the other cops over from the koban to verify his story that he was just a cop performing his duties…

    Since then, I have never had a peep from them, though they do know me by name the few times I’ve had to go in there to report vandalism on my motorbike…

  • Alexander: Can I ask where in Shinjuku you are usually stopped? A friend of mine was stopped while driving near Kabukicho. If you know the area, it’s pretty hard to avoid driving on Yasukuni-dori, one of the major traffic arteries in the city, whether or not you are going to Kabukicho. Anyway, the cops searched his car for 45 minutes and told him “sorry to have stopped you, but there are lots of dangerous white people selling drugs in this area, so I hope you understand”.

    My friend is a 40-something father of two driving a crappy old kei-car; he hardly looked the part of a dangerous drug dealer…

  • Drew: It is a Koban on Yasukuni-dori near Shinjuku 3-chome station. I think it is techinically in Shinjuku 2-chome. I live a short walk from the area and am usually accosted on my way to Starbucks in the morning. It really is quite horrible way to wake up…

    The time they pulled me over with flashing lights was in the nearby Korea town (Shokuan-dori) where I do my grocery shopping. I feel sorry for the people who actually live there because it is always full of police who seem to harass the local residents at will.

  • A Man In Japan says:

    Why don’t you just ignore the police? If what they are doing is wrong, then, why should we follow along with it? What are they gonna arrest you for? Not following their little game of “bother the foreigner”? which is illegal? If they dont give you a reason for them asking for your card, don’t play ball, walk on. If I EVER get asked for my card, Im not going to show it unless they have good reason. If you don’t act, who will? If you don’t act now, then when? If not this issue…then what will it take?

  • Kakui Kujira says:

    A Man In Japan Says:
    January 16th, 2009 at 1:11 am
    If I EVER get asked for my card, Im not going to show it unless they have good reason.

    I recommend that, if you have a wife/girlfriend or emmployer, that you tell them that you may go missing for 28 days.

  • A Man In Japan says:

    Oh, forgive me Kakui Kujira. It’s just that I thought that the police had to give you a very good reason for asking for your card, so I just thought that maybe if they don’t give me a reason then, just maybe, I should not give them my card? Am I wrong about that? It’s just that I printed out my rights from this very blog, and here what it says: “There must be a *specific crime* or *suspicion of a crime* before questioning can occur. Just being a foreigner is insufficient probable cause, and without a good reason a policman’s arbitary questions to a stranger are against the law”

    Am I wrong for thinking the way I think? It’s just that I can’t interpret that in any other way. Now, if Im wrong about this then, please, let me know…

  • A Man in Japan: You’re right about the law, the problem is that many police interpret probable cause to include “hey, that guy looks foreign, maybe he’s overstaying his visa” or “foreigners are more prone to crime (false) so that in itself makes him suspicious.” My favorite excuse has to be when police stop Filipina women “for their own good to make sure that they aren’t victims of human trafficking.”

    Anyway, I think what Kakui Kujira means is that you might get nailed with a resisting arrest or public disturbance charge if you are not careful in such a situation. In Debito’s website you’ll notice that he is VERY clear that you need to keep your voice normal and not make any sudden movements if you decide to decline the officer’s request. If you really piss them off you can be held for up to 28 days (which, incidentally is the incubation period of a chicken, but I digress) without a specific charge. That’s why many people just grumble, full-on protests can really damage your ability to live and work in image-concious Japan.

  • Mark Mino-Thompson says:

    Actually, Man in Japan, while it is true that the police need a reason to suspect you of a crime to question you in regards to their regular police duties, the police DO have the right to ask for your ID card under duties given to them by the Ministry of Justice under the The Foreign Registry Law.

    Foreign Registry Law, Section 13, Clause 2. states:

    “Foreigners, when asked to show their foreign registration cards by immigration investigation officials (as outlined in separate laws), police, coast guard, or any other national or local public official or group empowered by the Ministry of Justice as part of the execution of their duties, must show.”

    外国人登録法 第十三条 第二項 外国人は、入国審査官、入国警備官(入管法に定める入国警備官をいう)、警察官、海上保安官その他法務省令で定める国又は地方公共団体の職員がその職務の執行に当たり登録証明書の掲示を求めた場合には、これを提示しなければならない。

    Debito-san has been kind enough on many occasions over the years to point out this fact on both his blog and website. But no need to resort to trusting him though, you can get the answer straight from the horse’s mouth:

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    Alexander, I’m verry sorry to hear about your hassle; I myself (a fellow cyclist) also endure them regularly. I think it’s Tokyo rather than Shinjuku that’s the problem; I just moved to eastern Shinjuku, and so far have been lucky enough not to have been stopped by cops a single time in the two weeks I’ve been here. Chiyoda-ku is particularly ridiculous about this; this is where the same cops will stop you multiple times.

    While I have a very small amount of sympathy for the younger cops, who, when ordered by a superior to stop people on the street as a test of his abilities, can’t very well say to his boss that he recognizes one of the passers-by, and certainly can’t say, “but that’s against our own rules!”, harassment of the public — particularly people without political clout, such as youth and foreigners — seems to be their main tool to keep people under control.

    If I may editorialize for a moment, sometimes I think a lot of the cops are still “fighting the last war”, in that they were around for the student protests and public disturbances of 30-40 years ago, and have come to think that public order must be kept no matter what the price. Harassment of foreigners is just one part of that.

    Mark Mino-Thompson, yes, foreigners must indeed show the card when asked by a police officer in the execution of his duties (職務の執行), but (1) a police officer will not know that you’re foreign unless he asks you, and (2) the “execution of his duties” is clearly spelled out in the Police Execution of Duties Law (職務執行法), which state that police cannot stop people unless there is suspicion of a crime. This is why some kind of excuse is always proffered — bicycle theft, drugs, illegally-long knives, etc. — and why they’ll back off if someone powerful questions them on their tactics (and why they almost never pull a foreign-looking person out of a group that includes Japanese-looking people, who might know the law well).

    In my experience they don’t even mention the Alien Card most of the time; they just want to look up your bike registration, or ask where you’re going; whatever will fill up two or three minutes while their boss watches his subordinates obey orders and the paranoid public gets a good look at their protectors doing their job.

    A Man In Japan’s comment probably needs a small correction. “I thought that the police had to give you a very good reason for asking for your card” — they have to have a good reason for stopping anyone and asking for anything (including the card), but they don’t feel any need to give you a reason for their behavior. They only feel obligated justify themselves to lawyers, other police officers, and people equal or superior to them in the social hierarchy. Everyone else just has to obey, whether legal or not.

  • Kakui Kujira says:

    Thank you to those posters who clarified my point to A Man In Japan. You do in fact have certain rights, but they are limited and only ON PAPER. How the police interpret those rights and how you interpret those rights are two different things. If you give the police any trouble, as they interpret matters, there is only one way they will interpret their ‘right’ to hold you for 28 days.
    Before A Man In Japan interprets the above, my point it not that I don’t think this situation is comparable with justice or fairness, as I interpret the words, but it is the way things are. By all means, stick up for your ‘rights’ if you want to, my advice is to be prepared for those 28 days.
    Another point that I would like to make, is that I am a big fan of Japanese people. Except for when they mount a bicycle or don a police uniform.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    Debito (and anyone else who’s interested) —

    The federal oversight of the New Jersey police departments accused of racially profiling black motorists (the “suspicion” of “Driving While Black”) may be coming to an end, as the state police seem to have reformed their practices.

    Article from the Newark Star-Ledger

    Now how do you get ongoing oversight for a National Police Agency when they engage in this nonsense?


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