Japan Times on Gaijin Carding in workplace, and downloadable wallet-size Gaijin Card laws from Erich Meatleg


Hi Blog. I had an article come out in the Japan Times last Tuesday Nov 13 (Wednesday outside the metropolises), which you can read with notes and links to sources at https://www.debito.org/japantimes111307.html.

Excerpting from the conclusion of the article (in mufti–go to the whole article above if you want to see links):

You know, Japan needs more lawyers, or at least more lawyerly types. Anyone who reads the actual laws will in fact find a natural check and balance.

For example, even if the cops issue their classic demand for your Gaijin Card on the street, under the Foreign Registry Law (gaitouhou) (Article 13), you are not required to display unless the cop shows you his ID first. Ask for it. And write it down.

And believe it or not, under the Police Execution of Duties Law (keisatsukan shokumu shikkou hou) (Article 2), cops aren’t allowed to ask anyone for ID without probable cause for suspicion of a crime. Just being a foreigner doesn’t count. Point that out.

As for Gaijin Carding at hotels, all you have to do is say you have an address in Japan and you’re in the clear. Neither foreign residents nor Japanese are required to show any ID. The hotels cannot refuse you service, as legally they cannot deny anyone lodging under the Hotel Management Law (Article 5), without threat to public morals, possibility of contagion, or full rooms.

And as for Gaijin Carding by employers, under the new law (Article 28) you are under no obligation to say anything more than what your visa status is, and that it is valid. Say you’ll present visual proof in the form of the Gaijin Card, since nothing more is required.

If your main employer forces you to have your IDs photocopied, point out that the Personal Information Protection Law (Kojin Jouhou Hokan Hou) governs any situation when private information is demanded. Under Article 16, you must be told the purpose of gathering this information, and under Article 26 you may make requests to correct or delete data that are no longer necessary.

That means that once your visa status has been reported to Hello Work, your company no longer needs it, and you should request your info be returned for your disposal.

Those are the laws, and they exist for a reason: to protect everyone–including non-Japanese–from stretches of the law and abuses of power by state or society.

Even if the Foreign Registry Law has long made foreigners legally targetable in the eyes of the police, the rest of Japanese society still has to treat foreigners–be they laborer, customer, neighbor, or complete stranger–with appropriate respect and dignity.

Sure, Japan’s policymakers are treating non-Japanese residents as criminals, terrorists, and filth columnists of disease and disorder–through fingerprinting at the border, gaijin-apartment ID Checkpoints, anonymous police Internet “snitch sites” (ZG Mar 30 2004), “foreign DNA crime databases” (ZG Jan 13 2004), IC Chips in Gaijin Cards (ZG Nov 22 2005), and now gaijin dragnets through hotels and paychecks.

But there are still some vestiges of civil liberties guaranteed by law in this country. Know about them, and have them enforced. Or else non-Japanese will never be acknowledged or respected as real residents of Japan, almost always governed by the same laws as everyone else.

More information on what to do in these situations, plus the letter of the law, at https://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html

To this end, Erich Meatleg has provided a very valuable service–wallet-sized copies of the original text (plus hiragana and English translations) of pertinent sections of the laws for you to download and carry around. For the next time you get racially-profiled on the street and Gaijin Carded by cops:

Download plain version of text of laws regarding Gaijin Card Checks here (pdf format).

Download color-coded version of text of laws regarding Gaijin Card Checks here (pdf format).


Other laws that you can use (such as for Gaijin Card Checkpoints at hotels and in the workplace) are also up linked from the whattodoif.html article, but Erich hasn’t gotten to them yet! 🙂

Great thanks to Erich for his assistance! I’m sure the cops will be nonplussed from now on re how legalistic their gaijin patsies have become. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

4 comments on “Japan Times on Gaijin Carding in workplace, and downloadable wallet-size Gaijin Card laws from Erich Meatleg

  • As a tourist, I was told by my hotel staff that there were required by law to make a copy of my passport.

    Is this really the case ?


  • Anti-Pop, it is rather subtle.
    The article 6 of “hotel business law”(ryokan gyou hou) says,
    “A hotel must record the name, address, occupation, and OTHER ITEMS of a guest,” and
    “A guest must provide such information for the hotel managers.”
    The article 4-2 of “hotel business regulations”(ryokan gyou hou shikou kisoku) specifies the OTHER ITEMS. One of them is as follows.
    “If a guest is a foreigner without an address in Japan, the hotel must record the nationality and passport number of the guest.”
    So, such guest must tell the hotel manager his nationality and passport number.
    The questions are,
    Does a foreigner guest without an address in Japan have to show the passport for the hotel manager so that he can verify the accuracy of the record he has to keep? and
    Can a hotel manager make a photocopy of such passport?
    As far as I searched, I could not find any precedent on these questions. I would say yes to the former and no to the latter.


  • Douglas Sweetlove says:

    With the annual JALT conference coming up in less than a week, it will be interesting to see what happens. Will the attendees be bombarded with requests for information from hotel front desks? Carded by street cops?

    I would suggest keeping a database of information on what transpires.


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