Japan Times: DPJ slams new Gaijin Cards and further tightening of NJ policing


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Hi Blog.  Here’s a Japan Times article that is rather incomplete as is, but depicts the rumblings between the status-quo LDP (not to mention the bureaucracy and police forces) and the neophyte DPJ:  the frictions over foreigners in Japan.  This could be quite significant.  It’s not the first time NJ issues have caused rifts in the highest echelons of Japanese politics.  See here and here.  Courtesy of Black Tokyo and Ben Shearon.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


DPJ slams strict bills on foreign residents
The Japan Times, Friday, April 17, 2009

A Democratic Party of Japan legal affairs panel has drafted proposals to soften the rules and punishments stipulated in government-sponsored bills to tighten immigration regulations on foreign residents, DPJ lawmaker Ritsuo Hosokawa said Thursday.

The panel called for eliminating eight provisions in the bills, including one that would oblige foreigners to always carry residency cards, Hosokawa told The Japan Times.

These cards, called “zairyu,” would replace alien registration cards if the bills now before the Diet are passed. Foreigners are currently required to carry their alien cards at all times, but unlike at present, a failure to carry the zairyu could draw a ¥200,000 fine. Also subject to the fine would be failure to promptly report changes in personal information, including residential address, place of employment or marital status.

“The control (over foreign residents) is too tight” in the bills, said Hosokawa, who is the justice minister in the DPJ’s shadow Cabinet. Under the proposed system, resident registrations would be handled by the Justice Ministry, not the municipalities where people live.

The bills to revise the immigration law, which were submitted to the Diet in March, have drawn fire from foreigners, lawyers and nonprofit organizations, who complain the proposed stricter monitoring is a violation of human rights…

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20090417a1.html



13 comments on “Japan Times: DPJ slams new Gaijin Cards and further tightening of NJ policing

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    Foreigners are currently required to carry their alien cards at all times, but unlike at present, a failure to carry the zairyu could draw a ¥200,000 fine.

    I was under the impression that this fine already exists, but is rarely imposed because there’s also a law that such infractions have to be intentional (mens rea must exist), and forgetting or misplacing one’s card is obviously not an intentional violation of the law. (Any rich people want to say “I refuse to carry it!” next time the police hassle you?)

    I think it was HO who originally posted a quote from this law. HO, if you’re out there, could you post it again? It was very informative.

    So now I’m wondering if this law is also going to be rescinded — which seems impossible — or if additional language is going to be added to existing zairyuu-card-related legislation stating that unintentional infractions will be just as illegal as intentional ones.

    On a tangent, but the card also includes information about overseas families of residents. Japan is a nation of strict privacy laws; can they even demand disclosure of changes in one’s overseas home? What if you don’t get on so well with your parents (or whoever) and they don’t tell you if they’ve moved? Of course, the Japanese government has no practical way of checking this stuff, but it seems unrealistic that the government could impose a fine on someone because a third party didn’t disclose correct information to them.

    I’m verry happy to see some opposition to the obligation to always carry a residency card on one’s person. I’ve posted ad nauseam on how dangerous it is to have to be carrying this much private information on one’s person, how one can be made into a criminal against one’s wishes (say a mugger takes your card; you’re in violation of the law!), etc., etc.

    Debito, if you ever lack for poll ideas, I’d be interested to compare people’s opinions of fingerprinting to the card-carrying requirement, and which one people would most like to see eliminated. How many people would accept fingerprinting if there were no alien cards? How many would prefer carrying alien cards, and have the fingerprinting abolished?

    When fingerprinting was introduced, I remember thinking that I would actually welcome it if it meant the abolition of alien cards. Cards would no longer be necessary if the government were carrying out these detailed checks of returning residents. They’re also not necessary in an era of computerized databases where police and immigration officials can look anyone up with just a name and birthdate. If the police and MoJ are getting all this data, why put the burden on the resident to also carry it?

    — Thanks Mark. I’ve added your suggested poll this morning

  • Isn’t the possible 200,000 fine ALREADY in effect (for as long as I can remember) for not carrying the ARC? I’ve never heard of the fine actually being enforced, though.

    The increasing strictness on reporting every single change in your life within 2 weeks is the real worry for me. Especially since when I have more than one employer, the rules are pretty vague as to who should be listed as my “employer” or whether they should be listed at all if every job I have is part-time or contract work.
    So basically I could theoretically be busted at any time for not properly listing my employers.

  • @Mark
    Yes you are right Mark, it is dangerous to carry indentity cards all the time, and what you said in your comment happened to me, fortunetly not in Japan but in France where the law is really tedious concerning Alien cards (I am Spanish).
    The law say that you have to prouve your indentity by any ways if a police officer ask you, but the only way to prouve your indentity is with the alien card, so you have to carry it all the time.

    It’s a way to make you carry the alien card without saying it …

  • Actually, I don’t mind the card itself. It is government-issued identification for me, in a foreign country where I might not be able to prove that I am me!

    Carrying around a U.S. passport (which I’ve also done), is a little cumbersome.

    I want a card that says, “this is me and I have right to be here”.

    Tricky proposals to “liberalize” the system while making it more strict would be things I would encourage everyone to reject. We are all getting a little tired of the tatemae “help” that is really (hon-ne) a screwing over. KY is “kanji yomenai”, not “kuuki yomenai.”

  • A couple of interesting youtube clips courtesy of f*ckedgaijin.com… however my japanese is not good enough to translate, apologies… but apparently…

    “Japan Not Just For The Japanese” Says DPJ’s Hatoyama


    “Nico Nico Douga held a live broadcast featuring Yukio Hatoyama of the DPJ. During the interview, he said it is natural Japan should grant voting rights to permanent foreign residents (“定住外国人の参政権ぐらい 当然、付与されるべき”) not least because Korea has already done so which puts Japan to shame (“韓国だって参政権を与えてる、日本は恥ずかしい” ). In the clip below, he explains that the islands of Japan do not belong only to the Japanese people (“日本列島は日本人だけの所有物じゃないんですから”) which some viewers thought was a particularly shocking statement. He also praises America for electing President Obama which is something he doubts could happen in Japan (“今の日本でほんとに居心地がいいんですかね、私は必 ずしもそうは思わない」「オバマ大統領を生んだ アメリカはすごい、絶対に日本では起こりえない”). Rumours that Hatoyama had accepted a wager to see how quickly he could bring down nationalist fury on his head remain unconfirmed.”

  • ARIGATO! Hatoyama san
    If he can be 1er minister of Japan, it will be very good for everybody,incluse Japanese people..
    Thank you very much Mr Debito too for all your work!

  • I wonder what would happen if i decide to carry my bloody silly bit of wood around with me instead of my card?

    Since i cannot open a bank account, cannot register my house and land nor many other aspects of life in Japan, without my bloody silly antiquated Hanko.

    I even need a special Hanko for my main Hanko to prove it is me!

    Carry your bit of wood..and be done with it. Just show the police your bit of wood, if it’s “legal identification” for one, why not others?

  • Mark Mino-Thompson says:

    One thing to consider regarding this bill is that while there is good reason to oppose the changes are one good aspect of the bill that has been proposed is adding non-Japanese to the juuminhyou system. This change was not brought about by any real sense of good will or concern for equality of course, but rather due to bureaucratic concerns of “inefficiency”. Either way, it’s due to the decision to centralise the registration of foreign nationals and update the ARC that is leading to the “windfall” of getting a true residency certificate. Should this bill fail to pass the decision to grant juuminhyou to NJ will likely die as well; at least for the time being.

  • Mark in Yayoi, on further research, I have to withdraw that argument. I found Supreme Court precedents that say a person who did not carry alien registration card is punishable even if he/she violated the regulation unintentionally.

    Supreme Court Case No. H6(A)687, November 17, 1997

    Supreme Court Case No. S27(A)3931, March 5, 1953

    My argument was based on this general provision in Penal Code.

    第三十八条(故意) 罪を犯す意思がない行為は、罰しない。ただし、法律に特別の規定がある場合は、この限りでない。
    PENAL CODE (Act No. 45 of 1907)
    Article 38(Intent)
    An act performed without the intent to commit a crime is not punishable; provided, however, that the same shall not apply in cases where otherwise specially provided for by law.

    There is no specific provision in the Alien Registration Law that punishes an act done unintentionally.

    第十八条の二  次の各号の一に該当する者は、二十万円以下の罰金に処する。
    四  第十三条第一項の規定に違反して登録証明書を携帯しなかつた者(特別永住者を除く。)
    Alien Registration Law
    Article 18-2
    Any person who comes under any one of the following items shall be punished by a fine not exceeding 200,000 yen:
    (iv) Any person, excluding a special permanent resident, who did not carry his/her registration certificate in violation of Article 13 Paragraph 1.

    What the Supreme Court says is that, even though the law does not say unintentional violators are punishable, it should be interpreted so due to “the nature of the regulation”. I do not buy their argument and think the precedent should be changed. But I do not think that will happen anytime soon.

  • Regarding the new poll, I do not really like any of the options. There is no where to make comments so I will do it here. Debito, could you look into poll-specific comments? Perhaps as a link below each poll.

    I do not mind the alien card. It is useful as an ID _at times_. Abolish it if possible, but then some kind of ID will still be necessary at times. Not everyone has a drivers license or health insurance cards. And neither have your visa status, which places like cell phone companies (+3 months) require. I’d rather not carry around my passport. (In these special cases, perhaps having a gaikokujin touroku genpyou kisai jikou shoumeisho or juuminhyou issued in the near future would be appropriate.) Rather, I would be much more in favor of making carrying it to be non-mandatory. Let me worry about proving my ID when I choose to. And as a consequence, eliminating the ridiculous fee.

    Fingerprinting, though, is simply unforgivable. It is equivalent to be treated as a criminal.

    — Please vote “None of the above”. If there are a huge number of those, it’ll show that the questions as posed weren’t all that good.

  • “Not everyone has a drivers license or health insurance cards. And neither have your visa status, which places like cell phone companies (+3 months) require.”

    Without proof of my visa status, cel phone companies have no way of knowing that I am not naturalized (new driving licenses, for Japanese and foreigners, do not list the honseki), in which case they would not require my visa status at all.

  • Andrew Smallacombe says:

    Now, if we can just hand all immigration related matters to an authority other than the Ministry of Justice…


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