Hello Blog. Witness the further tightening of the dragnet around NJ residents.
First, we got the justification for fingerprinting all NJ at the border as potential Osama Juniors and Typhoid Maries. Now once inside, the “Gaijin Card” (gaikokujin touroku shoumeisho), designed in 1952 as a tracking device for all the Zainichi who wouldn’t leave postwar Japan like good little Sankokujin, is now being steadily voided. Even though by law it serves as a proxy for the passport (since it contains the same information, including visa status, so that NJ residents don’t have to schlep around their unloseable international paperwork 24/7). If you have your Gaijin Card, you needn’t show your passport. And according to the Foreign Registry Law you needn’t even show your Gaijin Card anyway to anyone except a member of Japan’s police forces (especially when other forms of ID, such as a drivers’ licence or health insurance booklet, will also do). Yet increasingly in some places, no show, no service.
Two prominent examples: Debito.org has received a reliable report from a Kansai-based foreign reader that Softbank not only requires alien registration cards but now passports. Shinsei Bank, formerly known as one of the more gaijin-friendly institutions in a banking system which treats NJ as potential money launderers, now requires the Gaijin Card even from established customers when other forms of ID will do for regular, obviously more trustworthy Japanese. The two reports follow, the first anonymized at the author’s request. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
Earlier today (October 29, 2007), I attempted to purchase a SIM card for my cell phone at an Osaka-based branch of Softbank, and was immediately told they needed to see my alien registration card and my passport. I said that was a strange policy and possible illegal, but definately a violation of common sense. I pointed out that both my passport number and my visa type were written on my gaijin card. But the young woman behind the counter showed her me her Softbank manual for granting contracts to foreigners and it did, indeed, say that both a gajin card and a passport were necessary in order to get a contract. Unfortunately, my cell phone is a Nokia type that locks me into purchasing a Softbank SIM card, or I would certainly take my business elsewhere.
As the young, part-time worker was in no position to do anything, I placed a call to Softbank’s Tokyo headquarters and asked to speak to somebody in their public affairs office. The guy who came on the phone said that, no, no passport was necessary. A gaijin card alone was sufficient. I said, “Oh really?” and passed the phone over to the young woman in the Osaka Softbank store, who told him that her manual specifically said a passport was needed as well. When she passed the phone back to me, he said that, yes, both were needed.
I told him I had heard there were legal questions about a business demanding to see a passport and that, besides, I couldn’t understand why Softbank needed to see both. He just kept repeating it was now company policy to require both. I told him I thought he should check up on that, and he agreed to call me back.
An hour or so later, I received a call from a different person in the PR department who basically said Softbank required both the card and a passport because they’d been ripped off by foreigners before and that gaijin cards can be faked. When I again brought up the question of whether it was legal, he said Softbank’s understanding was that, because the letter of the law does not specifically state that a business CAN’T also demand a passport, Softbank assumes that they CAN. But, when I said that, in effect, Softbank, without confirming the exact meaning of the law and despite knowing that foreingers were upset (based on past complaints) simply wrote the manual requiring a passport be shown, the official agreed that was the case.
One wonders: what is the purpose of a gaijin card if, as of November 20th, it alone will no longer get you through immigration. And, legal questions about showing it to anyone other than government officials aside, what is the practical purpose of carrying the card if, as of today, businesses like Softbank are going to demand to see our passports as well?
Beware: SHINSEI BANK, Japan, Discrimination of Foreigners
Discrimination of Foreign Nationals at SHINSEI BANK, Tokyo
Oct.4, 2007, 1 pm: I went to SHINSEI BANK, Tokyo, Ikebukuro branch to get me an new cash card as I did not find my old one any more.
Though I have had a (legal) bank account there for many years, I was asked for my Alien (we are all aliens in Japan!) Registration Card although I have been a Permanent Resident in Japan for 20 years.
When I showed my Japanese driving licence and even offered my Japanese health insurance card (a normal thing at any other institution in Japan if you are a permanent resident; I had just done it the day before at the postal bank) they refused to deal with my case unless they saw my Alien Registration Card insisting on some dubious company regulations.
Of course, all was written in Japanese, no English at all.
How international for a bank with American backup!
They left me with no choice. I had to show my Alien Registration Card. Although I protested, told them about the illegality and mentioned discrimination they would not budge. A copy of my Alien Registration Card was taken.
If/Before you go to SHINSEI BANK, Japan, remember my case and don�?Tt forget:
Any foreigner is a potential criminal, customer or not. All Japanese are good people.
Only foreigners have to be fingerprinted, when they enter Japan, no Japanese have ever or will ever commit a crime.
P.S. Feel free to pass on to this message.