FCCJ Press Conference on fingerprinting Oct 29


Hi Blog. FYI. The issue is still gathering steam. Debito in Tokyo

Press Conference
Barry Steinhardt & Makoto Teranaka
War on Terror & Controlling Foreign Nationals

15:15-16:15 Monday, October 29, 2007, Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, Yuurakuchou, Tokyo
(The speech and Q & A will be in English)

On November 20, Japan will begin fingerprinting and photographing virtually all foreigners entering the country in the name of the “war on terror.” Even those with permanent residency — who have previously been given the right to stay for life in Japan — are not above suspicion as Japan attempts to regain the title “safest nation on earth,” according to the Ministry of Justice.

But what will the new regulations prove? Will fingerprinting visitors make the country any safer and just how many terrorists will make the mistake of entering Narita and getting caught because they absent-mindedly gave their fingerprints to the government? Or is Japan using the “war on terror” as an excuse to bring back the once-mandatory fingerprinting of foreign nationals?


3 comments on “FCCJ Press Conference on fingerprinting Oct 29


    Activists blast Japan’s plan to fingerprint foreign visitors

    TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s plan to fingerprint and photograph all foreigners entering the country ages 16 or over to guard against terrorism is a serious violation of human rights, activists said Monday.

    Only some permanent residents, diplomatic visitors and children will be exempt from Japan’s new entry controls, which take effect Nov. 20.

    “The introduction of this system is a violation of basic human rights, especially the right to privacy,” said Makoto Teranaka, secretary-general of the human rights group Amnesty International Japan. He said it unfairly targets foreigners since Japanese could also be terrorists.

    Under the new regulations, all adults will be photographed and fingerprinted on arrival in Japan, according to the country’s Immigration Bureau. Incoming aircraft and ship operators also will be obliged to provide passenger and crew lists before they arrive.

    Resident foreigners will be required to go through the procedure every time they re-enter Japan, the bureau said. Immigration officials will compare the images and data with a database of international terror and crime suspects as well as domestic crime records. People matching the data on file will be denied entry and deported.

    “I know this may cause a lot of inconvenience, but it’s very necessary to fight terror,” Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama told reporters Monday.

    “We are facing a terrorist threat as a reality today, and Japan may also become a victim of a terrorist attack,” Hatoyama said.

    Similar measures have been introduced in the United States.

    Tokyo’s support of the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and dispatch of forces to each region have raised concerns that Japan could become a target of terror attacks.

    Japan previously fingerprinted foreign residents in Japan, but that system was abolished in 1999 following civil rights campaigns involving Japan’s large Korean and Chinese communities.


    once again, as with so many misbegotten imports from the USA, Japan has adopted the “fear will make you safe” mantra currently all the rage stateside. but as with so many other airport security measures (i.e. BAN the Pocari Sweat) they can’t seem to see the forest for the trees. and the resultant backlash will chip away at any modicum of progress this country has made in wrenching itself into the 21st Century. with no empirical evidence of a heightened threat to the security of Japan due to the influx of foreign travellers and residents, this “tagging” at the airport only plunges this country into the paranoid strata mined deep by the current American administration.

    i’ve been living in London for the past nine years and have just “repatriated” to Japan three weeks ago. did not expect to be greeted by such a disappointing and, in a certain light hostile, “welcome wagon.”

    last week’s Real Time with Bill Maher could not have been more timely:


  • Visitors to Japan to be fingerprinted
    By Mariko Sanchanta in Tokyo
    Financial Times, Published: October 25 2007 01:32 | Last updated: October 25 2007 01:32

    Millions of visitors to Japan will be required to have their photographs and fingerprints taken from next month as part of new immigration procedures meant to help prevent terrorist attacks.

    The move, which includes fingerprinting longtime permanent foreign residents, marks the first time a country other than the US has introduced such procedures. The US adopted similar measures following the September 11 attacks and the UK and European Union are considering introducing comparable requirements.

    The new measures have been attacked by human rights groups, which have said the collection of biometric data could play into the hands of Japanese xenophobes and raises privacy issues.

    “This will further the perception in Japan that foreigners are terrorists and at the same time rejects the idea that the Japanese could be terrorists as well,” said Makoto Teranaka, secretary-general of Amnesty International Japan. “In fact, all recent terrorist attacks have been conducted by the Japanese,” he said, pointing to the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway by the Aum Shinrikyo cult.

    The new procedures are part of an amendment of Japan’s Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, which contains measures to prevent terrorism. The measures come into force on November 20. In certain instances, Japan will be able to share its biometric data with other governments.

    The move has been criticised by many foreigners living in Japan, particularly as the government has said it wants to make Tokyo an international financial centre. It also coincides with the government’s long-running Visit Japan campaign, which aims to increase the number of foreign visitors. Last year, more than 8m people visited the country, up from 5.2m in 2001.

    Though Japan invited public comments on the new measure, one could only do so in Japanese.

    If a foreigner refuses to be fingerprinted and photographed, he or she will not be permitted to enter the country.

    Certain individuals, including “special permanent residents” (which include longtime ethnic Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese and Brazilian-Japanese residents), people under 16 and diplomats will be exempted from the new procedures.


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