Fingerprinting: Amnesty/SMJ Appeal for Noon Nov 20 Public Appeal outside Justice Ministry


Hi Blog. Here’s the public appeal I was asked to translate for sponsoring groups Amnesty International/Solidarity with Migrants Japan. This is their upcoming November 20 Public Action in front of the Justice Ministry against Fingerprinting NJ. Attend if you like. Details in the appeal below. More on the event also here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo



(translated by Arudou Debito)

From November 20, 2007, the Japanese government will put into effect the Japan version of the US-VISIT Program, where all non-Japanese entering Japan (with the exception of children under age 16, Diplomats, and “Special Permanent Residents” (i.e. ethnic Koreans, Chinese, etc.) will have their fingerprints and facial photographs taken every time they cross the border.

This is none other than a system to track and tighten controls on foreigners, including residents. The government and the Justice Ministry loudly claim that this is an “anti-terror measure”, but consider the US-VISIT Program, inaugurated four years ago in the United States, that this policy is modeled upon: “It has been completely ineffective at uncovering terrorists. Rather, it has been used as a way for the government to create a blacklist and stop human rights activists from entering the country.” (Barry Steinhardt, American Civil Liberties Union, Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan October 29, 2007). We see Japan heading down the same path as the US.

Japan’s version of the US-VISIT Program is so laden with problems, and passed without adequate deliberation by the Diet, that we call for the government and the Justice Ministry to immediately suspend it. To his end, we will assemble before the Justice Ministry on the day of its promulgation, November 20, 2007, for a public action and protest. We call on the public to join us at noon that day and lend your support and participation.

DATE: Tuesday, November 20, 2007
TIME: Noon (public action will take 30 minutes to an hour)
PLACE: Ministry of Justice, Kasumigaseki, Tokyo (Goudou Chousha #6)
(Subway Marunouchi Line to Kasumigaseki Station, Bengoshi Kaikan exit)

ACTIVITIES: Sound truck with speeches
Placards, Message boards (NO TO FINGERPRINTING, FINGERPRINTING NON-JAPANESE IS DISCRIMINATION, “NON-JAPANESE” DOES NOT MEAN “TERRORIST” etc.–create your own slogan and bring your own sign!)

Amnesty International Japan (Tel 03-3518-6777)

Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ) (Tel:03-5802-6033)
See you there!

13 comments on “Fingerprinting: Amnesty/SMJ Appeal for Noon Nov 20 Public Appeal outside Justice Ministry

  • Andrew Murray says:

    I don’t appreciate being treated like a criminal. This level of xenophobia will only lead to Japan becoming isolated in the global circuit which, with China’s rising economy, is political suicide.

  • Alistair Seton says:

    I’m an “Eijuken” married father with 2 kids (who were born here and have permanent resident rights). I think there should be (to save time and costs) a sytem for longterm (e.g.35 years for both me and my wife) with no prison terms etc. people to be exempt from this system. Once is enough.
    A friend of mine (married to a Japenese ex-Sumitomo Shoji husband) leaves and returns every month while promoting cultural exhibitions. Is it not time-wasteful to take her finger- and eye-prints every month, if she is a law-abiding Swiss engaged in cultural promotion with no blemish on her record? People who have been useful to Japan and caused no damage/crime should be exempt from this absurd law, which you point out correctly would affect only short-term terrorists.

  • This is outrageous and absolutely absurd. Why should foreign residents (and tourists alike) be treated as potential terrorists? It is demeaning to have to submit your prints and photos like a common criminal every time you enter the country just because you are not Japanese (with the few exceptions previously mentioned). The Japanese government is clearly racist and intentends to openly discriminate against the rest of the world. Something needs to be done, now!

  • I wish i was there for the protest my sign would be…


    pretty sure the foreign media will pick up on that sign !!

  • Folks, I intend to use No.5 sandpaper all the way back from Frankfurt next time I go out to remove ALL of my fingerprints. I won’t refuse, but they’ll have diddly to show for it!

  • Shelley Sacks says:

    For those of us foreigners who fell in love with a japanese person what can we do? this is another act in japans xenophobic racist culture. japan continues to shoot itself in the foot with all of its policies and its dishonesty in government and business. how come the ceo’s of companies can just bow their heads and say sorry for their disgraceful illegal business dealings and criminal acts and we, law abiding tax paying with morals and ethics way above this, have to be fingerprinted. japans archaic philosophy around life and business will limit it from becoming a super power in the world……………i hate that i have chosen such a racist country to live in but my love is here and so i remain challenged to the depths of my being

  • I was amongst the very first few foreigners re-entering Japan on November 20, 2007 (in fact, on the 2nd flight enterning Narita on the morning of the 20th) and underwent through this fingerprinting process. Not only it was a violation of basic human rights, it was also a very strenous process. The staff was under-trained and confused, even with the presence of 3-4 people per terminal, including supervisors. Since I arrived very early in the morning, I was fortunate enough not to go through the long lines, but it still took 20 minutes for the staff to figure out the system, fingerprint me, photograph me and let me pass. If they are taking even 10 minutes per passenger, I can’t imagine the havoc created during busy hours. This is a very big hassle, especially since I travel overseas from Japan on a bi-weekly basis. Permanent residents and foreigners with a re-entry permit should not have to go through this.

  • Since 2004 the pages of several Japanese consulates in the US have contained comments on the inconvinience caused to Japanese travelers by the US-Visit program. Japan has no material reason for introducing such a system; it smacks at retaliation for the treatement given to its citiens by US authorities.
    On the other hand, it is not only Japan. Leaving aside what the US is doing, do you know that you can’t drive a car anywhere in the UK whithout being traced in real time via Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology? Or that the tiny United Arab Emirates has collected some eight hundred thousand iris scans of travelers? While walking in London one is permanently live on-cam, as in many other cities. Data are being collected not only about identity, but about our behaviour, allowing the shadowy men in grey to draw up psychological profiles of each of us through, for example, online shopping habits or dietary habits. Police in the UK can detain a “terrorist suspect” for up to 28 days without charge, and the Government is trying to get that increased to 56 days. A brazilian is murdered in the London Subway on his way to work, and a Polish immigrant is tasered to death at Vancouver Airport while meating his mother. France, the birthplace of Human Rights, has approved a database for the DNA of immirants and families. The trend for tighter control is spreading throughout Europe just as Immanuel Kant keeps turning in his grave. (The new generarion thinks WW2 is “Schindler’s List” and hasn’t read much Kafka, I suppose.) All this makes dead letter of Human Rights and of the Enlightenment values, but when the leading “Western” democracies are running down this road, it is naive to expect Japan to be the one leading the way towards strenghening and protection of Human Rights. They’ll merelly imitate the “civilised” nations they so much wish to be recognised as a part of. Heck, they don’t even have the notion of “civil liberties”, nor much respect for what it entails.

    As for me, I’m in Japan as a Monbusho Scholar. If it weren’t for the fact that my research term is to end in March next year, I would be seriously considering going home straight away and leaving the project unfinished. I don’t need Japan to earn a living, nor do they pay adequately for my qualifications. My being here is a service to them, not me, and this is no way of showing their gratitude. I can never recomend anyone to come to Japan or accept such scholarships as long as this situaion continues.

    I’ve got a sound file of a very instructive recent debate broadcast by Radio Culture around biometrics, identification, profiling of behaviours, surveilance and data collection without the subject’s consent, etc. I can send that to anyone interested in listening to it. It lasts for about one hour and is spoken in French.

    By the way, I’ve got a copy of “Mein Kampf” back at home. Are they going to deport me as a suspect terrorist? I guess not. Plenty of ultra-nationalists and xenophobes to compete wth Hitler over here…

  • Im in Japan now, but after I leave next week, I dont ever plan on returning. Ive always enjoyed coming here, but, unfortunately, I have to take a stand on this one. I hope tourists will stay away in droves. This might cause the government to repeal this awful measure

  • Im just glad that when I come back to Japan my flight isnt for another day. I hope such an outright attack at our human rights will open people’s eyes to the crazy xenophobes running the show over here.

  • I recently had to go through this humiliating experience of being fingerprinted and photographed. Their xenophobic behaviors have gone beyond my tolerance and understanding. Although I respect the belief that every country should be able to make its choices without any outside interference, labeling almost every foreigner as a potential terrorist is outrageous, ridiculous and foolish, especially given the fact that there was not much discussion took place over this human-rights violating issue. I guess it is time for me to pack my bags and head back home before they confiscate my properties just because I am a foreigner.

  • This seems to be a running theme for the governments of the world these days. And the more concessions that people are willing to give them in exchange for this so-called “security” the more they will take from us. I vehemently oppose this measure and all like it and fully intend on adding the afore-mentioned sandpaper to my itinerary


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>