“Every Foreign Guest must present passport for photocopying” at Hotel Crown Hills Kokura; Japanese Police up to same old unlawful tricks in Fukuoka Prefecture

Submitter MR: I made a reservation for a buddy on Japanese-language Rakuten Travel (楽天トラベル) website at the Hotel Crown Hills Kokura.  At check in tonight (12/9/19) at around 7:45PM, the Front Desk asked for his passport to photocopy.  He is a Permanent Resident (永住者), so I intervened and told them so.  They then immediately withdrew the request for the passport, but still asked for and checked his Gaijin Card (在留カード).

COMMENT: The hotel displayed yet another multilingual sign (Japanese, English, Korean, Chinese, and Arabic) produced by the Japanese Police that ignores the law and encourages racial profiling.  This one not only lists the approval of the Fukuoka Prefectural Police (and erroneously cites the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare), but also all Fukuoka Prefectural Public Health Departments (Fukuoka Kennai Kaku Hokenjo).  Even though we’ve already had at least one Hokenjo (in Mito) correct the overzealous local police before on the letter of the law, which is:

If you have an address in Japan, you do not have to show any ID at a hotel check in.  Just write that address in the hotel guest book.  That goes for Japanese and NJ residents of Japan. The law on hotel (and minpaku) ID checks only applies to foreign tourists without an address in Japan.  So demand it be it enforced.  

Meanwhile, if you want to do what Debito.org Reader Onur did some months ago, contact the local Hokenjo and get the law corrected.  Clearly the Japanese police are not going to police themselves. Or if you want to do something to stop this happening to you, download a file substantiating that you don’t have to show any ID as a resident of Japan here: https://www.debito.org/newhotelpassportlaw.jpg

ICI Hotel Kanda unlawfully requires ID from all “foreign guests”, including NJ residents of Japan, as a precondition for stay; claims it’s demanded by Tokyo Metropolitan Police (UPDATED)

Here we go again. Debito.org Reader Jenifer (a pseudonym) sends evidence that the ICI Hotel Kanda will not only be demanding ID from all of its “foreign guests” (no doubt, as typically enforced, as a precondition for stay), but also unlawfully requiring even the NJ residents (who have addresses in Japan) display their ID (something not required by law of Japanese guests). The status of “foreign guest” will no doubt be determined on sight or by recorded name, so cue the racial profiling.

The justification? Once again, the Japanese Police (in this case the Tokyo Metropolitan Police) are stretching the law and demanding hotels act as their agents to check all “foreign ID” (something only people with the proper ministerial credentials can do). And as the ICI Hotel Kanda explicitly says in the Update below, they will refuse accommodation if that ID is not displayed, in direct violation of the laws governing hotel management.

The ICI hotel also cites “safety for our guests and other residents in Japan”. No doubt the Rugby World Cup will be used as a pretext, even though the reservation is for November. Once again, bring in an international event, and use it as a pretext to further alienate Japan’s resident non-citizens and international citizens. I can hardly wait to see what tricks the police come up with next year for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.

UPDATE SEPT 29: The hotel responds after Jenifer files a complaint with management, and reiterates that the Tokyo Police “strictly ordered us to ask for any identification card for foreign visitor or foreign residence of Japan due to security purposes,” and unlawfully reiterates that showing ID is a precondition for stay for foreigners only. They also say, “We have no intention to discriminate anyone as we are only following the check-in policy of the hotel.” As Jenifer concludes, “It’s like they don’t want to admit the cops aren’t following the law…”

Onur on Fukuoka hotel check-ins in: Police creating unlawful “foreign passport check” signs in the name of (and without the knowledge of) local govt. authorities!

Onur, our local watchdog on Japan’s hotel policies towards “foreign guests”, has submitted another report, this time on hotels in Fukuoka. The last case he submitted exposed how police in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, were deliberately lying about the law to create notices requiring the racial profiling of all “foreigners” at hotel check ins. Now in Fukuoka the same thing is happening, only worse: Fukuoka Prefectural Police are creating erroneous signs in the name of local government authorities without the knowledge of those local authorities!

This is odious. Given the recent Debito.org report about racist check-ins at Sakura Hotel in Jimbocho, Tokyo (done according to the hotel itself “to provide safety for our guests”, whatever that means), and the fact that I uncovered this unlawful practice more than ten years ago in my Japan Times columns (“Creating laws out of thin air,” Zeit Gist, March 8, 2005; “Ministry missive wrecks reception,” ZG, Oct. 18, 2005, and “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry,” JBC, July 6,2010), it seems the problem is nationwide and systemic. Our police forces continue to enlist the public in their racial profiling of “foreigners” (whether or not they are tourists or residents of Japan), whether or not the law or local authorities permit them to. (It doesn’t.)

Onur update: Ibaraki Pref. Police lying on posters requiring hotels to inspect and photocopy all foreign passports; gets police to change their posters!

Debito.org Reader Onur updates his post here last month about discrimination at Japanese hotels being, in one case, coin-operated (where all “foreign guests” are unlawfully forced to provide photocopies of their passports, moreover at their own expense) at police behest. Now he gets to the bottom of police chicanery in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, where he catches them in an outright lie. Three lies in one police notice, as a matter of fact:

Onur: I wrote my Japanese address on the guest registration form during check-in [at Mimatsu Hotel, Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture]. However, the reception asked for my passport and said that they must copy my ID. I asked the reason. They said that it is the rule of the hotel(!) and also the law of Japan to copy the ID of all foreigners. I said that according to law it is not necessary and they are not allowed to copy my card, but they insisted they must copy, showing me a poster on the wall by the Mito City Police Department Security Division saying that “Japanese law requires that we ask every foreign guest to present their passport, photocopy of which we keep on file during their stay with us”. I said that I will inform this incident to Mito City Public Health Department (保健所), which has authority over the hotels regarding the implementation of laws. I enclose the poster. After visiting both the Public Health Department and the Mito Police, I had phone call from the Public Health Department. They said they went to the Mimatsu Hotel to check it and saw that the poster on the wall of the hotel has changed. It seems that the police department printed a new poster and distributed to all hotels only in a few hours after I left the police department! They said the new poster clearly states “foreign nationals who do not possess an address in Japan”, so complies the regulations. They said they informed the hotel about the laws and regulations and warned the hotel to not to the same mistake again.

COMMENT: It would seem that, according to a number of past Debito.org posts on Ibaraki Prefectural Police posters and activities, the officially-sponsored xenophobia runs deep there. Put a nasty Gaijin Detention Center there, allow the police to project their bunker mentalities by lying on public posters, and you get panicky residents who sic cops on “people who look suspicious” because they look foreign (even if they are Japanese). Are you seeing what happens when you give the police too much power to target people? Ibaraki Prefecture is developing into a nice case study. Well done Onur for doing all this great detective work. I did some investigative work like this more than a decade ago. Remarkable that despite having this pointed out again and again, the NPA continues to lie about the laws they are supposed to enforce.

Kyodo: Kagawa Pref Govt urges hotels not to request foreign residents’ ID. Bravo. Shame it took nearly 20 years to happen.

Kyodo: The government in the western Japan prefecture of Kagawa has called on local hotel operators to stop asking foreign residents for identification when they check in, local officials said Thursday. Citing a notice issued Monday by the Kagawa prefectural government to hotel operators, the officials said it is “problematic on human rights grounds” to ask foreign residents to show their passport or other forms of ID when checking into a hotel…

COMMENT:  I’m breaking my regular busy silence to report on something we’ve been working on for nearly two decades finally reaching fruition:  Getting Japanese hotels to stop racial profiling by running instant Gaijin Card/Passport Checks on customers (including NJ residents) merely because they’re “foreign-looking” — despite ID checks not being required for customers deemed to be “Japanese” on sight by hotel management.  

Finally, after various regional police departments have unlawfully deputized random hotel clerks to act as a de facto branch of the Immigration Agency (with the explicitly illegal threat of refusal of service in the offing), a regional government has cottoned on to the fact that this might be a violation of human rights.  Bravo Kagawa Prefecture.  Let’s hope it catches on nationwide.  Seems to only take about twenty years for common sense, not to mention legal protections for NJ residents against police bullying, to seep in.

US Embassy in Japan tweets warning against Japanese police practice of “racial profiling”: Bravo. About time.

US Embassy: “The U.S. Embassy has received reports of foreigners stopped and searched by Japanese police in suspected racial profiling incidents. Several were detained, questioned, and searched. U.S. citizens should carry proof of immigration and request consular notification if detained.”

COMMENT: We’ve been warning about racial profiling by Japanese police on Debito.org for many years now. (We’ve even gone so far to call it “standard operating procedure” in public policing.) Finally the US Embassy is now warning its own citizens against it. Well, good, and long overdue.  Because when the US Embassy weighs in on things like this (such as instant Gaijin Card Checks at hotels, shady street Gaijin Card Checks by people posing as Japanese police, and instant pee-pee drug tests for people who “look foreign” in Roppongi), the GOJ sits up and takes notice (and stops the pee-pee tests, for example).  And in yesterday’s instance, it’s newsworthy enough to be reported quite widely in other media. Bravo US Embassy.  Do more of this. Since Japan’s minorities are so disenfranchised that we’ll get no public policy to stop this, the only avenue available is pressure from public exposure from abroad.

SNA: “Japanese Only” elevators at Tokyo Akasaka Hotel Excel Tokyu; hotel blames Olympic Organizing Committee! Plus Duty-Free Stores asked to rat on foreigners.

SNA: Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu separated its elevators between “Japanese Only” and “Foreigner Only.” SNA called the hotel to ask them why they did it. The answer is that this was their interpretation of guidance from the Olympic authorities. Seems all non-Japanese are visitors. (MP)

COMMENT: The assumption is, as usual, that rates of infection for foreigners and Japanese are different.  Never mind that:
1) “Foreigners” as signposted includes ALL Non-Japanese (including Residents), regardless of whether they’ve actually left Japan and come back  As Michael mentioned above, foreigners are no matter what treated as an exogenous force.
2) Plenty of Japanese have gotten infected from each other, not from foreigners.  In fact, many cases of variants have been carried in and incubated by Japanese themselves.
3) Even foreigners who HAVE come in from overseas have been checked and cleared both inside and outside Japan for infection, and if the systems are working properly, the foreigners (only) are barred entry.  That especially goes for people connected with the Olympics, as we have seen.
4) And many of those foreigners have gotten their vaccines overseas already, and at rates higher and more successful than Japan’s current lackluster (and slowing down) procedures for getting vaccinated.
5) I’m not an epidemiologist, but I daresay you’re LESS likely to get infected from inbound foreigners going through the current GOJ quarantine procedures than from the (generally unvaccinated) average Japanese clustered in poorly-ventilated urban transportation, non-remote workplaces, and eateries.

Finally, in addition to enlisting the general public to find “illegal foreigners” (including a downloadable app to scan Gaijin Cards like a game of Pokemon Go), the Japanese Government is now asking Duty-Free Stores to check passports and rat on foreigners for breaking quarantine (since after all, we can’t do that to Japanese).  From the Japan Times:

JT: The government will ask duty-free stores to check the date of entry to Japan in customers’ passports and report if they were shopping during their required 14-day quarantine period. […] In the request sent to shop operators, the health ministry asks them to provide information including the names, nationalities and passport numbers of violators to its Health Monitoring Center for Overseas Entrants. If an Olympic-related visitor is found to be violating the rule, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will report the matter to the Tokyo Organising Committee.

UPDATE: “Foreigner Only” signs amended to “Foreigner Priority”. Fixed. Not.

Full text of SNA VM column 3: “Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins”, October 23, 2019

SNA: It’s dehumanizing to be denied service somewhere, not for what you did, but for who you are, and to realize that discrimination is real.

In Japan, your first experience might be with your apartment search—realtors may deny you a home simply because “the landlord doesn’t like foreigners.”

Sadly, there’s little you can do: racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan, even in 2019. You could report what happened to the Ministry of Justice’s Human Rights Bureau (which will generally do nothing), or take them to court where you’re at the mercy of a judge susceptible to narratives of “foreigners are different/difficult, so refusing them is okay,” which is known legally as “rational discrimination.” Still, you will need a place right away to call home.

Eventually, after getting an interlocutor to negotiate or an employer to vouch for you, you find one. You’ll forget about what happened. Something like this doesn’t happen every day, right?

But it may occur the next time you want a hotel room. Given the tourism boom and hosted international sports events, racial profiling and discrimination have become widespread in Japan’s hoteling industry. This is particularly insidious because it’s not just the occasional bigoted landlord calling the shots; this time it’s the Japanese police… Full text now up at https://www.debito.org/?p=15804

My Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities col 3: “Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins”, October 23, 2019 (full text)

SNA: It’s dehumanizing to be denied service somewhere, not for what you did, but for who you are, and to realize that discrimination is real.

In Japan, your first experience might be with your apartment search—realtors may deny you a home simply because “the landlord doesn’t like foreigners.”

Sadly, there’s little you can do: racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan, even in 2019. You could report what happened to the Ministry of Justice’s Human Rights Bureau (which will generally do nothing), or take them to court where you’re at the mercy of a judge susceptible to narratives of “foreigners are different/difficult, so refusing them is okay,” which is known legally as “rational discrimination.” Still, you will need a place right away to call home.

Eventually, after getting an interlocutor to negotiate or an employer to vouch for you, you find one. You’ll forget about what happened. Something like this doesn’t happen every day, right?

But it may occur the next time you want a hotel room. Given the tourism boom and hosted international sports events, racial profiling and discrimination have become widespread in Japan’s hoteling industry. This is particularly insidious because it’s not just the occasional bigoted landlord calling the shots; this time it’s the Japanese police…

Last word on NJ hotel passport checks (thanks to a lawyer): It’s as Debito.org has said for more than a decade: NJ Residents are exempt from showing any ID.

Debito.org Reader Mamoru sends along a recent poster produced by the Shizuoka Police confirming that there are two separate tracks for guests at Japanese hotel check-ins:  One for Foreign Tourists, and another one for ALL Residents of Japan regardless of nationality (Japanese and NJ):

Confirmed is that Foreign Tourists with no address in Japan must show ID, meaning a passport.  Some places will require, as per local ordinance, that passport to be photocopied.  (Despite various governments criticizing the potential dangers of this practice, including fraud and identity theft:  The Canadian Government, for example, explicitly says, “You take all responsibility for giving information in your passport to a third party.”)

But then the Shizuoka Police use “weasel words” in their poster that make it look like hoteliers must check the ID of ALL guests. (In practice, however, this will mean that NJ will be checked, as hotels have always thought.) However, still NOWHERE in the law requires NJ Residents of Japan to show any ID after writing down their details in the hotel Guest Book.

The fact that even this Shizuoka Police poster is being intentionally confusing and misleading about the law (or ministerial directive) indicates once again that, despite well over a decade of corrections and clarifications via The Japan Times, Debito.org, and even the US Embassy, the Japanese Police are continuing to bend the law, and encouraging hotels to racially profile their “foreign” guests.

Reuters: Japanese police urged to take “light-touch” towards NJ during Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup. Yeah, sure.

It turns out Japan has earned a reputation from past experiences hosting international events.  The racism-riddled debacles that were the soccer World Cup 2002 and the G8 Summits made me question whether Japan as a society (let alone its politicians and police) was mature enough to handle any temporary influx of NJ, let alone as visa-legal NJ workers and residents of Japan.

But it seems it wasn’t just me noticing. Some months ago, the Rugby World Cup and staff from two embassies actually cautioned the Japanese police to ease up on their overzealousness towards NJ.  As previous blog entries have shown, it’s questionable whether they are actually doing that (as they are bending the law to encourage racial profiling at hotels etc.). The following article deserves to be recorded on Debito.org because it shows at least somebody out there is taking notice, despite all the official “omotenashi” wallpapering over Japan’s latent exclusionism that goes ignored, if not encouraged, by Japanese authorities.  I look forward to seeing what the International Olympic Committee has to say in Tokyo in a year.

Reuters: Japanese police have been encouraged to take a “light-touch approach” during the Rugby World Cup, with organisers telling Reuters they had visited host cities to emphasise that while fans will be boisterous they are unlikely to cause trouble. More than 400,000 foreign fans are expected to descend on Japan for the Sept. 20 to Nov. 2 tournament and concerns have been raised that police might not have enough experience to deal with the influx. Staff from two embassies have expressed concern to Reuters that police may overreact to perceived intimidation from fans.

Fujisankei-owned Japan Today posts article on “What to do if stopped by J police” for Rugby World Cup visitors, after consulting with Debito.org. Then does not acknowledge Debito.org and leaves out valuable advice

JDG:  Right wing Sankei owned Japan Today put out this ‘what to do if you get stopped by the police in Japan’ article for the Rugby World Cup.
https://japantoday.com/category/features/lifestyle/What-to-do-if-you-are-stopped-by-the-police-in-Japan
Half the article about having fun and getting travel insurance, the other half about complying with all police requests because, y’know, cultural differences. Failure to blindly comply with police stop requests will be ‘escalating the situation’ and grounds for arrest because, y’know, cultural differences. What about police discrimination and your rights? ‘Don’t believe all the hoopla you read online’. Basically article’s advice is: If stopped by Japanese police, do as you are told.

COMMENT: Japan Today in fact consulted with Debito.org for this article in advance, then left out important information that might advise NJ of their actual rights — as a matter of “opinion”.

I acknowledge the editor’s courteous inquiries at the beginning, and appreciate his efforts to find out the most current information; I also acknowledge that his article is very helpful for the most part. However, by leaving out other information that might help readers protect themselves when deliberately targeted for harassment by police, it ends up toeing the Japanese Police’s standpoint that NJ aren’t supposed to have any rights. That’s also the standard line that much of the purportedly “foreigner-friendly” media maintains — just do as you’re told like a good “guest” and all will go well.  Until it doesn’t, of course.

Racial profiling in Japan is Standard Operating Procedure for the Japanese police, and that should be acknowledged somewhere, not simply worked around or removed as a matter of “opinion”. Despite a discussion with the editor afterwards, I remain convinced that this editorial bent was due to Japan Today being owned and operated by the “gaijin handlers” at the right-wing Fujisankei group. A record of our correspondences and the article in question are hereby archived on Debito.org.

XY: Hotel calls cops on NJ Resident at check-in for not showing passport. And cops misinterpret laws. Unlawful official harassment is escalating.

Submitter XY: Just now I tried using your website to avoid having my passport scanned at a hotel after it escalated all the way to the police. The short story is: Just don’t do it, it won’t work. It’s not worth it at all…

I showed the cop the three reasons that hotels can refuse service. He tried to make an argument that it fell under the “public morals” part of clause 2, but when I pressed him on that even he agreed that it was a stretch. He went and talked on the phone for a while, but not before talking about searching my possessions, which I said was no problem. When he came back, he had written down the name of a certain law, which I’m sorry I don’t remember the name of, but it apparently allows hotels to scan IDs of its customers.

I gave up at that point, and my possessions were never searched. I gave my passport to be scanned and apologized to the police and apologized more profusely to the receptionist.I have the feeling that if the cops that showed up were less nice, they would have found some reason to take me to the station. So I’m currently feeling very lucky. I won’t roll the dice again.

COMMENT: But the point still stands: When it comes to dealing with hotel check-ins, Japan’s police have been bending the law (if not simply making it up) for well over a decade. The law: If you have an address in Japan, you don’t have to show ID, regardless of citizenship. As Submitter XY would probably argue, the issue is now whether or not you are willing to stare down the police.

BBC: Fukuoka Hilton Hotel refuses entry to Cuban Ambassador due to “US sanctions”. J authorities call action “illegal”. How quaint.

BBC: A US-owned hotel in Japan has been criticized by Japanese authorities after it denied the Cuban ambassador a room over fears it would violate US sanctions on Cuba. The Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk told Ambassador Carlos Pereria he could not stay last month because it could not accommodate Cuban government guests. That prompted a Cuban complaint. Japanese officials in the city have since told the hotel it was illegal to refuse rooms based on nationality.

JT: Japan’s law regulating hotel operations states that guests cannot be refused unless they carry an infectious disease or are suspected of committing illegal activities. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry pointed out that denying accommodation based on nationality is against the law. “The hotels operating domestically must comply with the law,” the ministry said. A Hilton spokesperson said, “We refuse to provide service to officials of the government or state-owned enterprises of countries under U.S. economic sanctions such as North Korea, Iran and Syria. We would like to discuss about the matter internally in response to the guidance.”

COMMENT: Well, well, well.  I guess it’s helpful to be foreign and connected in high places.  As has been reported for decades on Debito.org, Japan’s hotel refusals by nationality are so normalized that hotels routinely ignore the law being cited, refusing “foreigners” entry due to “lack of facilities”, “discomfort on the part of the management or Japanese customers”, or just for being “customers while foreign” (or even the “wrong foreign customers”).  Sometimes these refusals have the backing and encouragement of local police agencies and other authorities in their overzealous “anti-terrorism”/”anti-crime”/”anti-infectious disease” campaigns (because after all, only “foreigners” do all that in Japan). Now the Cuban Ambassador gets refused.  And suddenly the law gets applied.  Good.  Now let’s apply it everywhere, for a change. That’s what laws are for.

Shiki on unlawful and racist check-in practices at “foreigner-friendly” Sakura Hotel Jimbocho, Tokyo

Shiki: My name is Shiki, and I’m a long term resident in Japan, having been living for almost 9 years now, and I’m actually in the process of naturalization. I wanted to report about the most horrible experience I’ve had in Japan, which happened on October 25, 2016, at a Hotel called “Sakura Hotel Jimbocho”. […]

In the registration they asked for my nationality, which is something I’ve never been asked before. And it said that “Foreigners were required to show their passports”, so I looked at this, and saw your posts about the subject, and then I just thought “Thet are just doing this for the tourists”, so I just left the default that was “Japanese” in nationality. […] I just said “I’m not a tourist”, then this guy asked me if I was Japanese, and I told him that no but that I was not a tourist and didn’t even had my passport with me.

So he then started to ask for my Residence Card, and I told him that my Residence Card contained private information, so I was not comfortable showing it, and then the guy, late at night told me that then they could not take me as a guest unless I showed them my residence card.

[…] proceeded to say that it was “hotel policy”, and that if I didn’t wanted to comply with “hotel policy” I was free to search for another hotel. […] He proceeded to make excuses that he dodn’t knew about the [Hotel Management] law, that he has to report foreigners to the police, and almost telling me that he was gping to “get scolded” by the police if they saw my name without any ID.

I told him it wasn’t my problem, and that he just needed to show the police that I have an address in Japan. He told me that police was going to scold him for not giving the ID of a foreigner, and when I asked him how would they even know if I’m a foreigner and not of Japanese nationality, he proceeded to make a racist statement about how “He can tell by their face, or their accent”. I told him that was racist and he proceeded to once again threaten me about “returning me my money” even after was I told him…

Nikkei Asian Review wrongly reports “Japanese law requires hotels to check and keep copies of foreigners’ passports”. Corrected after protest, but misreported text still proliferates

Nikkei: Visitors to Japan will be able to use their fingerprints instead of passports to identify themselves at some hotels thanks to technology introduced by a Tokyo venture. With financial help from the economy and industry ministry, Liquid will start offering a fingerprint-based authorization system by March in a bid to increase travel convenience. Some 80 hotels and Japanese-style inns in major tourist spots like Hakone and Atami, two hot spring resort areas not far from Tokyo, will be among the first to install the system. More inns and hotels will follow. […]

Japanese law requires hotels to check and keep copies of foreigners’ passports. But the economy ministry and the ministry of labor have decided to treat “digital passports” as legitimate alternatives.

Reader XY to the Nikkei: This article contains an incorrect statement: “Japanese law requires hotels to check and keep copies of foreigners’ passports.” In fact, Japanese law requires hotels to check the passports of foreigners who don’t have an address in Japan. The most important point is that the law does not apply to all foreigners but to foreign tourists who do not have an address in Japan. This is a matter of concern to many who live in Japan and occasionally are asked for passports based on a misunderstanding of the law. A second point is that keeping copies of passports is not mentioned in the law — it is a directive from the police. The law only calls for keeping records.

Nikkei: Thank you so much. We will check the Ryokan Law and see if we need to change the sentence.

Comment: Nikkei corrected it to remove the last paragraph mentioning that sentence entirely — and that’s about as close as we’ll ever get to them admitting they made a mistake. But as we’ve written here many times before, the National Police Agency keeps lying about their lawgiven powers regarding tracking foreign guests at Japanese hotels. XY wonders if somebody at the NPA wasn’t involved in creating this misinformed article. It wouldn’t be the first time, and a recent (and very funny) article came out over the weekend describing how the Japanese Police have historically stretched laws to outlaw public behavior they basically just personally disliked. Just another example of how Japan is actually a mild (or sometimes not) police state. And that’s even before we get to the whole issue of re-fingerprinting NJ and the flawed reasoning behind it.

Shibuya Police asking local “minpaku” Airbnb renters to report their foreign lodgers “to avoid Olympic terrorism”. Comes with racialized illustrations

A Shibuya Police poster reads:
=============================
WE ARE ASKING FOR INFORMATION FROM MINPAKU HOSTELERS
“Minpaku” is defined as the service of offering paid accommodation using empty rooms etc. from individual homes.
To prevent terrorism and for the success of the Olympics, we need information from everyone
We are especially asking for information from individually-standing homes doing Minpaku.
Please call the Shibuya Police Department, Head of Crime Prevention, at 3498-0110 ext 2612.
=============================

That’s the literal translation of the text. Note how there is no reference whatsoever textually about foreigners. However, contextually, in the margins there are illustrations of eight racialized “foreigners” of ostensibly European, African, and Middle-Eastern extractions complete with differentiated eye color, hair color, skin color, and facial hair. Note how there is no representation of “Asian” foreigners, even though they make up the majority of Japan’s tourists. I guess they’re not the type that Shinjuku cops are looking for.

My comments about this are seasoned to the point of predictably: 1) Once again, Japan’s police are using racial profiling to determine who is a foreigner as well as a terrorist. 2) Japan’s police are rallying the public to do their bidding on unlawful activities (i.e., scaring them with the threat of terrorism into reporting their foreign lodgers to the police, which neither minpaku nor actual hotels are required to do). 3) The use and proliferation of racialized caricature seems to be normalized standard operating procedure with Japan’s police. (Why not? Nobody’s going to stop them when they keep Japan’s public constantly afraid of foreigners to the point of normalized targeting.) And 4), as I have written before, Japan is not mature enough as a society to host these international events, for the National Police Agency whips everyone up into a frenzy about foreign crime, hooliganism, and/or terrorism. And then the NPA uses the events to clamp down on civil liberties for everyone. Thus there is insufficient check and balance to keep these bunker-mentality bureaucrats from exaggerating their mandate. The Tokyo Olympics are still more than 4 years away. Expect even more of this embedded racism to surface into full-blown state-sponsored xenophobia in the meantime.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE 98, “Ibaraki Police still unfettered by the law, or the truth”, June 6, 2016 (UPDATED with links to sources)

Japan’s police are at it again: Lying about the law. A reader with the pseudonym Onur recently wrote to me about his experience in the city of Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, when he checked into a hotel. Even though Onur clearly indicated he was a legal resident of Japan with a domestic address, clerks demanded he present his passport for photocopying. They pointed to a sign issued by the Ibaraki Prefectural Police.

But that poster has three great big stripy lies: 1) “Every foreign guest must present their passport” 2) “which must be photocopied” 3) “under the Hotel Business Law” — which states none of these things. Not to mention that Japan’s registered foreign residents are not required to carry around passports anyway.

What’s particularly egregious about this sign is that the Japanese police know better — because we told them so a decade ago. The Japan Times first exposed how police were stretching their mandate in “Creating laws out of thin air,” Zeit Gist, March 8, 2005, and, later, two updates: “Ministry missive wrecks reception,” ZG, Oct. 18, 2005, and “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry,” Just Be Cause, July 6,2010.

It made an impact. Even the usually noncommittal U.S. Embassy took action, posting in their American Community Update of May 2005: “After we sought clarification, according to the Environmental Health Division, Health Service Bureau, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the new registration procedure at lodging facilities does not apply to foreigners who are residents of Japan but only to tourists and temporary visitors. If you write a Japanese address on the check-in sheet, hotels are not supposed to ask for your passport.”

Right. So why do the Ibaraki police still feel they can lie about the laws they are entrusted to uphold? Because … Ibaraki. I’ll get to that shortly…

Onur on continued racial profiling at Japanese hotel check-ins: Discrimination is even coin-operated!

Onur: I travel often, so I stay in many business hotels in Japan. Not all but many of them caused many problems due to the passport copy rule. Of course I carry only my residence card, not my passport. In the past I used to allow them when the hotel wants to copy my residence card. I remember that a hotel in Asakusa ward of Tokyo even asked me to copy my residence card by myself! The woman at the reception pointed the coin operated photocopier in the hall and told me to copy my residence card and bring it to the reception. I said it is coin operated, not free and she said pay the money to the machine. I paid the money, copied my residence card by myself and gave the copy to the reception. Even though it was hotel’s photocopier, they did not pay the money back!

Later I learned that as I have an address in Japan, hotels do not have the authority to ask my residence card and started to reject them when they asked to copy it. Still I was showing the card when they asked. Two years ago I had a bad experience at Inuyama Central Hotel in Aichi Prefecture. I wrote my Japanese address to the guest registration form, but two old male receptionists asked my passport. As I don’t carry it, I showed them my residence card and my address on it. They wanted to copy it, but I said no. They said that they must copy my residence card according to the law of Japan. I said copying is not necessary and they did not allow me to check-in! We had a long argument, but they refused me service. […]

Arguing with the hotels on this residence card check and copying is very annoying. Refusing to allow copying the card may not be enough as the hotel may continue asking it to other foreigners. Recently, when I stay in a hotel that asked to copy residence card, I am writing a review on Rakuten hoping that the hotel and checks and learns the real law. I also give a low rating to those hotels in the review. Average rating in on-line reservation sites is somewhat important in Japan, so probably many hotels would take it into account. If many foreigners people do the same thing, more hotels may abide the law.

PNS: Deaths of unknown persons in the custody of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police: At least 5 in past year

PNS: A troubling pattern of deaths of suspects in police custody is emerging in Tokyo, Japan. At least five people have died in police custody in the last year, with little publicity or investigation. The names of the victims have not apparently been released, which puts Japan at odds with international norms of transparency and police accountability.

Unknown man arrested May 12, 2014 in Meguro Ward
Unknown man arrested May 25, 2014 in Shinjuku
Unknown man arrested May 31, 2014 in Konan
Unknown man arrested August 25, 2014 in Shinagawa
Unknown man arrested February 11, 2015 in Akasaka

All cases have resulted in fatalities of those in custody.

Kyodo: J airport “random body searches” start October. On “int’l passengers”, naturally, so not so random, considering police precedents of racial profiling

Kyodo: The transport ministry said Thursday it will start conducting random body searches on international passengers at 29 airports across the country in October to prevent explosives from slipping through metal detectors. At present, body searches are only performed on passengers who set off metal detectors before boarding, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry [sic]. The ministry did not elaborate on how the body searches would be carried out or by whom.

COMMENT: Well, the ministry might well use the word “random”, but precedent dictates that enforcement of any policing operation in favor of “security” tends to see anyone who “looks foreign” as the security threat. Examples are Legion here on Debito.org, but see a few here, here, here, here, and here. My point is that we’re just making racial profiling, which is standard procedure in policing operations in Japan, ever more systematic and justified under formal policy. After all, without the “probable cause” of a metal detector alarm, the procedure has now become completely discretionary.

“Pinprick Protests”: Chand Bakshi fights back against “NJ ID Checkpoint” hotel, gets apology

Here is a report from Chand Bakshi on how he called “basta” to a hotel that was racially profiling its customers, demanding all visually-looking NJ submit to an ID check and copy — claiming erroneously that this was required by law. Chand followed up on this to the point where he got capitulation and an apology. Well done.

This is actually pretty effective. The hotel I usually stay at in Tokyo has on various occasions (depending on how I was dressed) tried to Gaijin Card me too. I told them (and later followed up with an explanation to the management) that this only applied to tourists; NJ with Japanese addresses are not required to show ID. Of course, that’s not what the NPA would have hotels believe — they have explicitly instructed hotels to inspect and photocopy ID of ALL NJ. Which is why we must fight back against this invitation to racial profiling, as Chand has below.

In my case, my Tokyo hotel yesterday asked me if I had a domestic address upon check-in (which I’m fine with). I pointed to my name on the check-in card and said, check your records — I’m not only a Japanese, but also a frequent customer. Got a deep apology. But at least now my hotel chain is more sophisticated in its approach.

Read on for Chand’s report…

Tangent: Korea Herald: Attitudes in Korea towards budget travelers: open up love hotels?

In light of the recent discussion we’ve been having about Japanese hotels and some of their attitudes towards international travellers (many hotels refuse NJ or non-J speakers outright, claiming their lack of ability to provide service), contrast with the situation in Korea and one columnist’s proposal.

KOREA HERALD: There’s been some talk about hotels and motels in the news recently, especially since Lee Charm, head of the Korea Tourism Organization, was criticized by a member of parliament for the country’s failure to provide budget accommodation to international travelers. One English-language paper indirectly quoted the lawmaker as saying “the nation is helpless in the face of the aggressive invasion of foreign budget hotels” and then said that one reason Korea can’t attract and keep foreign tourists is because accommodation is unsatisfactory…

An option I’ve always enjoyed is motels. You’ll rarely find information about them in English, but they’re certainly popular among Koreans – one recent estimate said there are 31,000 – and the newer ones are clean, conveniently-located, nicely-equipped, and a fraction of the cost of a tourist hotel…

This means international tourists must rely on the few tourist hotels that have English, Chinese or Japanese-language webpages, the few places that will show up on an internet search. These places are often two or three times as expensive as a motel room, though, and often not as nice. Amenities are frequently old, dirty, and disappointing. Guests often book rooms under the assumption that the hotel is in a convenient location, but arrive to find it’s in the middle of nowhere or in a seedy neighborhood. Likewise foreign-language travel websites will advertise restaurants, bakeries, and bars on the premises, though those who have seen the hotels in person will find no such features.

“Japanese speakers only” Kyoto exclusionary hotel stands by its rules, says it’s doing nothing unlawful

As is my wont, I don’t like to leave exclusionary business practices alone. Even if that means letter writing and cajoling people to cease a bad habit. What gets me is when even cajoling doesn’t work, and the cajoled turns uncharacteristically rude towards a paying customer. Then I get mad.

Background: Last October, I attended a writers’ conference in Kyoto, and discovered that even in September just about all hotels in Kyoto were booked (it was approaching peak fall color season). The only one left was a place in Fushimi that advertised online that they refused anyone who could not speak Japanese. This is, by the way, contrary to the Hotel Management Law (Ryokan Gyouhou, which can only refuse customers if all rooms are taken, or if there is a health or a “public morals” problem).

I tried to vote with my feet and find alternative accommodation, but wound up having no choice, and made the reservation with the Fushimi place. I did, however, the night before going down, find last-minute alternative accommodations at an unexclusionary hotel (at more than double the price). Then I paid in cash by post to the Fushimi place the sizeable cancellation fee for the last-minute switch.

But I also enclosed a handwritten letter telling them why I cancelled, expressing my discontent with the rule that people would be refused for a lack of Japanese language ability (what with this tourist town, there are always ways to communicate — including speaking electronic dictionaries; how does one judge sufficient “language abilities”? and what about deaf or mute Japanese? etc. etc.). I also asked them to repeal this exclusionary rule, pointing out that it was an unlawful practice.

I got a rude reply back. Without addressing me by name, I got a terse letter without any of the formal aisatsu or written tone that a customer-client relationship in this society would warrant. It also included further spurious insinuated logic that since they couldn’t speak any foreign languages, this business open to the public was somehow not bound to provide service to the general public. They also categorically denied that their rules are unlawful, coupled with the presumptuous claim that since they didn’t refuse me it was odd for me to feel any disfavor with their system. And more. In other words, thanks for your money, but we can do as we please, so sod you.

Now I’m mad. I sent this exchange off yesterday with a handwritten note to the Kyoto City Government Department of Tourism and the Kyoto Tourist Association, advising them to engage in some Administrative Guidance. The latter organization has already told me that they are a private-sector institution, and that since this hotel is not one of their members they have no influence in this situation. And if the city does get back to me (I’ve done this sort of thing before; government agencies in Japan have even abetted “Japanese Only” hotels), I’ll be surprised. But I’m not letting this nasty place slide without at least notifying the authorities. This is just one more reason why we need a law against racial discrimination.

Various respondents: Police crackdowns in Roppongi and elsewhere, Olympic Bid cleanup?

Debito.org has received word of police crackdowns and raids in Roppongi these days, perhaps in a bid to weed out the marijuana so popular in sumo circles, perhaps in a bid to clean things up for the 2016 Olympic Bid. The US Embassy is also advising Americans to stay away. Feel free to share similar experiences in this blog entry.

NPA enforcing Hotel Management Law against exclusionary Prince Hotel Tokyo

Asahi: Police sent papers to prosecutors Tuesday against the operator of a Tokyo hotel that refused entry to the Japan Teachers Union for its annual convention, fearing protests by right-wing groups.

Police said Prince Hotels Inc., its president, Yukihiro Watanabe, 61, the 52-year-old general manager of three Prince group hotels, and managers of the company’s administration and reception departments are suspected of violating the Hotel Business Law.

Comment: This is a good precedent. The police are at last enforcing the Hotel Management Law, which says you can’t refuse people unless there are no rooms, there’s a threat to public health, or a threat to public morals. But hotels sometimes refuse foreigners, even have signs up to that effect. They can’t legally do that, but last time I took it before the local police box in Ohkubo, they told me they wouldn’t enforce the law. Not in this case.

Asahi/CNN: GOJ survey report: 38% of J hotels had no NJ guests in 2007, and 72% of those (as in 27%) don’t want NJ guests

CNN: Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs says over 70 percent of Japanese inns and hotels that didn’t have foreign guests last year don’t want any in the future either.

The ministry says that a survey of such businesses showed they feel unable to support foreign languages and that their facilities are not suited to foreigners.

The survey released Thursday shows that over 60 percent of Japan’s inns and hotels had foreign guests last year, but the majority of the rest don’t want any.

It was released as Japan continues its efforts to attract more foreign visitors. The country’s “Visit Japan Campaign” aims to draw 10 million foreigners to the country for trips and business in the year 2010, up from 8.35 million last year.

国土交通省から全国のホテル宛の指令:「サミットのテロ対策」として「外国人宿泊客の旅券確認強化」Ministries order all hotels nationwide to target all “foreign guest” passports

サミットの間で、道警外事課は「日本人や外国人に関係なく、必要なときは声掛けしている」と主張するが、6月4日付、国土交通省から全国のホテルへの指令によると、「外国人客」のみは全国のホテルでは「サミットの間のテロ対策」は本人確認と旅券コピーとなる。外国人は標的にされていないと未だに主張できるのか。

Despite the Hokkaido Police only yesterday telling us bald-facedly that NJ were not being specially targeted for spot ID checks as potential terrorists, the ministries have sent out a directive to all hotels nationwide (not just near Summit areas) to check and photocopy passports of all “foreign guests” (not, as the law indicates, NJ without addresses in Japan) as a means to prevent Summit terrorism. Again, still want to make the argument that NJ aren’t being targeted?

Asahi: NPA Survey: 25% of hotels not following NPA demands to check “foreign guest” passports. Toyoko Inn not one of them.

A survey reported in the Asahi indicates that a quarter of all hotels nationwide sampled have qualms about asking NJ for their passports, and a third of them refused to copy them. (No wonder–they can’t. By law they can only ask NJ who have no addresses in Japan–meaning foreign tourists.) But you wouldn’t know that if you read the English translation of the article, which renders the targets of this anti-terrorist move as “foreign guests”. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Meanwhile, after a month, no reply from Toyoko Inn regarding their racial profiling last November. Recommend you take your business to hotels that are more concerned about customer relations for NJ and handicapped guests.

LA Times on how J police ignore certain crimes. Like murder.

LA Times: “As is common in Japan, Aichi police reached their verdict on how [brutalized sumo wrestler] Saito died without an autopsy. No need for a coroner, they said. No crime involved. Only 6.3% of the unnatural deaths in Aichi are investigated by a medical examiner, a minuscule rate even by nationwide standards in Japan, where an autopsy is performed in 11.2% of cases… But Saito’s case has given credence to complaints by a group of frustrated doctors, former pathologists and ex-cops who argue that Japan’s police culture is the main obstacle. Police discourage autopsies that might reveal a higher homicide rate in their jurisdiction, and pressure doctors to attribute unnatural deaths to health reasons, usually heart failure, the group alleges. Odds are, it says, that people are getting away with murder in Japan, a country that officially claims one of the lowest per capita homicide rates in the world… “All the police care about is how they look to people; it’s all PR to show that their capabilities are high,” Saikawa says. “Without autopsies they can keep their percentage [of solved cases] high. It’s all about numbers.””

Asahi: Kurashiki hotel refuses foreigners

Hotel Apointo in Kurashiki expressly refuses foreigners in violation of the Hotel Management Law. The city government kicks in. The Asahi article on the issue ends by saying the hotel would continue refusing, but a call to the hotel by Arudou Debito (on the same day of the article) indicates that they have abandoned that policy. Remains to be seen, but well done, Kurashiki City Govt. Now, if only Shinjuku would do something about its hotel Tsubakuro which has been refusing foreigners illegally for years now with complete impunity…

Japan Times: “Fukuoka court rules ban on dual nationality is constitutional”. Debito.org makes the case for why banning dual nationality is unrealistic, not to mention just plain stupid, with an excerpt from my book “Embedded Racism”.

JT: The Fukuoka District Court ruled Wednesday that Japan’s law that bans dual nationality is constitutional, rejecting an argument by a Japan-born plaintiff who lost her Japanese citizenship after she naturalized as an American. Yuri Kondo, 76, had argued that the nationality law — which stipulates that Japanese nationals will lose their citizenship if they become a citizen of a foreign country — undermines fundamental human rights to pursue happiness, self-determination, and identity, as guaranteed under the Constitution. While the nationality law was deemed constitutional, presiding Judge Fumitaka Hayashi said the wish of the individual who would lose their nationality should be considered as it is part of a person’s identity.

COMMENT: Most arguments made by the Japanese Government dovetail around the idea that people will be somehow confused in terms of national allegiances if they have more than one nationality. For what if Japan went to war with the country you have a second passport for? Where would your allegiances lie?

Making public policy merely on the basis of hypotheticals is not the best way to make laws. As noted above in the article, the number of countries allowing dual nationality is in fact increasing (“the number of countries allowing dual nationality has increased from one-third to three-quarters worldwide”), as more people around the world travel, resettle, immigrate, marry, and have multinational children as well as lives.  Forcing them to give up their other nationality is to force them to give up part of their identity — a completely unnecessary and moreover psychologically damaging move just for the sake of bureaucratic convenience.  And that’s before we get into issues of arbitrary enforceability, as discussed in my book excerpt below.

The increase in diversity should be reflected in laws to accommodate reality.  Instead, we have pig-headed J politicians who can’t imagine a life beyond their own experiences (with the exception of the LDP’s Kouno Taro, who actually argued for dual nationality, albeit to coat the Kokutai in more glory, not for the sake of the individual’s identity) and refuse to legislate reality into reality.  And that feeds into a hidebound judiciary that claim they can only enforce the law as it’s written (even presiding Judge Hayashi above expressed regret at that).

To finish up, let me excerpt from my book “Embedded Racism” on this topic.  It’ll make the case about why public policy is as stupid as it is as best I can…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 28, 2021: END YEAR SPECIAL

SPECIAL: “Visible Minorities: Human Rights Top Ten for 2021”, Shingetsu News Agency, Dec 27, 2021 by Debito Arudou

GOOD NEWS
1) US Embassy in Japan tweets warning against Japanese police practice of “racial profiling”: Bravo. About time.
2) Miyazaki International College cut their elderly professors’ salaries by 20%. After a 7-year battle, Fukuoka High Court rules this illegal. A victory for foreign plaintiffs too.
3) Senaiho Case against Yamanashi City for “Hair Police” school bullying: A very rare victory for the Plaintiffs! (UPDATE: Full court decision attached)
4) Good 2018 JT article on Japanese Nationality Law. Upshot: Don’t give up NJ citizenship after naturalizing into Japan

OTHER NEWS
5) My SNA VM28: “Japan’s Fast Breeder Reactor of Racism.” Summarizes book “Embedded Racism” First and Second Editions, Nov 22, 2021
6) My SNA VM27: “The Bright Side of Japan’s ‘Culture of No’.” Surprise! Debito has something positive to say about Japan. Oct 18, 2021
7) My SNA VM7: “Japan’s Botched Response to the Diamond Princess Coronavirus isn’t Racism; it’s Stupidity”, Feb 17, 2020 (archiving link to full text)
…and finally…
8 ) Debito’s SECOND EDITION of “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books, 2022), fully revised and updated, now on sale

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 19, 2021

Table of Contents:
THE EARLY FALLOUT FROM THE OLYMPICS
1) SNA: “Japanese Only” elevators at Tokyo Akasaka Hotel Excel Tokyu; hotel blames Olympic Organizing Committee! Plus Duty-Free Stores asked to rat on foreigners.
PRELUDE TO THE TIGHTENED-SECURITY AFTERMATH
2) Nikkan Sports: Aggressive Japanese man harasses Muslim woman and 3-year-old daughter in park, demands her Gaijin Card; then aggressive Japanese police detain, interrogate, and release the woman and child’s private info. I told you this would happen.
3) Japan’s “Gaijin Tank” Immigration Detention Centers: The Death of Sri Lankan Wishma Sandamali highlights a senseless, inhuman, and extralegal system killing foreigners they’ve trapped.
4) Mainichi: Japan wants its COVID vaccine passports accepted by foreign countries, but won’t accept foreign countries’ versions; does the GOJ understand the concept of comity?
… and finally …
5) My SNA VM Column 23: “Gaijin Card Reader App Obliterates Privacy,” June 21, 2021, on how NJ privacy is of so little concern that the Govt. has enabled anyone to swipe Gaijin Cards.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 19, 2021

Table of Contents:
CELEBRATING A QUARTER CENTURY OF DEBITO.ORG
1) April 15 2021: Debito.org celebrates 25 years of existence! Here’s to another 25 years! A brief retrospective.
2) Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities Column 21: “Visible Minorities: A Retrospective on 25 Years of Activism”

NOW BACK TO BUSINESS
3) Weird new Govt term to firewall naturalized and mudblood Japanese off from “real” Japanese: “Honpougai Shussinsha”: racist AND patriotic, ironically found on Justice Ministry’s Bureau of Human Rights site
4) “Foreign nationalities OK” apartments bin at Century 21 Saitama realty, and “We’re sorry about our foreign staff’s language & cultural barriers” notice in Family Mart Kyoto (SECOND UPDATE with answer from Century 21 Japan)
5) German media Tagesschau on what it’s like to be Covid-quarantined in Japan (basically a prison run by sweaty-headed bureaucrats)
6) It’s official: Tokyo 2020 is a “Japanese Only” Olympics: Japanese living abroad still allowed to attend, not foreigners. (UPDATED: This probably includes Japanese who have given up their J citizenship.)
7) SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020 (UPDATED with full text)

And finally:
8) SNA Visible Minorities Column 20: “The World’s First ‘Japanese Only’ Olympics?”, on how Japan’s new ban on “overseas spectators” may lead to banning all foreigners (out of linguistics and force of habit) (UPDATED)

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 15, 2021

Table of Contents:
1) Reuters and ABC News: Tokyo 2020 chief Mori makes sexist remarks at Olympics meeting. It’s been within character for decades now, so retire him.
2) Kyodo: Japan developing GPS tracking system for foreign travelers as “anti-virus measure”. So Covid is now another international event, justifying more policing of foreigners only?
3) Kyodo: Tokyo District Court rules in favor of Japan’s ban on dual nationality. My, what paranoia and hypocrisy
4) Full text of SNA VM column 3 now archived on Debito.org: “Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins”, October 23, 2019
… and finally…
5) My SNA Visible Minorities column 18: “Latest visa rules could purge any foreigner” (Jan 18, 2021), on how Covid countermeasures disproportionately target Non-Japanese against all science or logic

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 16, 2020

Table of Contents:
DIVERSITY AND ITS ADVERSARIES
1) 2020 Tokyo Olympics drops Ainu performance from its Opening Ceremonies, despite 2019 law officially recognizing and promoting them as an indigenous people in Japan
2) BBC: “Is Japan embracing diversity?” A Pollyannaish article highlighting a few celebrity examples without data on broad public attitudes or government policy re immigration
3) DF on Chugoku bank unlawfully demanding to check NJ customers’ visa stay durations and photocopy their Gaijin Cards, or face discontinuation of service
4) Senaiho “Hair Police” School Bullying Case Update 4: Civil lawsuit launched against school bullies, gaining traction with other international couples
5) “Gaikokujin Shimin”: Kawaguchi City Mayor Okunoki (kinda) answers a query about the racialized application of this term that officially makes Japanese into “foreigners” (UPDATED)
RECENT DEBITO COLUMNS
6) SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020
7) My Japan Times JBC 118: “Remain calm when stopped by the police”, on what to do if stopped by Japanese police for an Instant ID Checkpoint, Jan 20, 2020
… and finally…
8 ) My SNA Visible Minorities column 7: “Japan’s Botched Response to the Diamond Princess Coronavirus isn’t Racism; it’s Stupidity”, Feb 17, 2020

DF on Chugoku bank unlawfully demanding to check NJ customers’ visa stay durations and photocopy their Gaijin Cards, or face discontinuation of service

From time to time Debito.org gets sent information from NJ residents being harassed by Japanese officialdom and businesses for the most basic things.  Such as checking into a hotel or using a bank.  Or being treated as objects of mistrust in official “Blame Games”.  Or being demanded unnecessary steps just to live their daily lives or conduct regular business. It encourages racial profiling even further, in addition to what you already have at Japan’s hotels and other public accommodation, police instant ID checkpoints, and tax agencies.  (See here too).  

Such as the following case below, where Chugoku Bank is demanding a Visa Check in order to maintain (not open; maintain) a bank account.  (In their words, “we have elected to confirm the period of stay for customers whose period of stay and other details have not been confirmed”  Meaning their nosying into somebody’s visa status is not even under the pretense of some legal requirement.)  And of course, in this era of identity theft that even foreign governments warn you against, Chugoku Bank wants to make a photocopy of the person’s ID, it turns out, for no reason whatsoever but reflex.

Submitter DF: Hi Debito, I recently got the attached postcard from my bank, Chugoku Ginkou. It says that I have to go in and verify that I am in the country legally to keep using my bank account. I went in today and they wanted to make a photocopy of my card. Is this legal? They claimed that they are doing so at the request of the government, which I’m sure is true, and that they need a copy for “filing”, which I am not sure is true. I told them that the card can usually only be requested by a police officer or an immigration agent. I finally relented only after they explained that they also photocopy other customer’s driver’s licenses. I offered my driver’s license, but they declined. I noticed that other than my visa status (PR), there is really no info on there that they don’t already have. Who is in the right here, legally?

SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020 (UPDATED with full text)

I have to admit more than a twinge of sympathy for Carlos Ghosn’s Great Escape.

Ghosn, the former CEO of Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault, was arrested in November 2018 on the initial suspicion of falsifying his compensation levels, and subjected to more than a year of Japan’s “hostage justice.” That is, he was held hostage to a judicial system that detains you until you confess to a crime, and subjects you to days, weeks, months, or conceivably even years of interrogation and tortuous conditions until you crack. Understandably, most do crack, and Japan’s conviction rate after indictment is famously more than 99%.

But as you have probably heard, at the end of December Ghosn suddenly turned up in Lebanon, one of three places he has citizenship. Out on bail in Japan, he made a daring escape that people are still trying to piece together, including man-sized musical instrument cases, an uncharacteristic lack of Japanese border security, and a mysterious visit to Lebanon’s president by Japan’s state minister for foreign affairs mere days before Ghosn jumped bail.

Ghosn is now making good on his threat to expose everything that happened to him while in custody. His multilingual press conference in Beirut two weeks ago was breathtaking to watch, full of documentation, pointed fingers, and hot-tongued accusations of the human rights denied to Japan’s incarcerated.

This has been covered exhaustively worldwide, so what more is there to say? My perspective comes as a person who also tried to change Japanese rules and practices, and found that The System similarly fought back dirty…

Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/01/20/visible-minorities-carlos-ghosns-escape-from-japan-was-the-right-move/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 20, 2020

Table of Contents:
1) My SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020
2) Debito.org’s stance on the Carlos Ghosn Case, at last: A boardroom coup making “thin legal soup” that might shame Japan’s “hostage justice” judicial system into reform (updated for the Great Escape)
3) Finance Minister Aso apologizes if ‘single-race nation’ remark (essentially denying Japan’s officially-recognized multiethnic society) was “misunderstood”
4) My SNA Visible Minorities column 5: “Local Governments Classifying Japanese Citizens as Foreigners”, Dec. 16, 2019
5) “Every Foreign Guest must present passport for photocopying” at Hotel Crown Hills Kokura; Japanese Police up to same old unlawful tricks in Fukuoka Prefecture

… and finally…
6) My Japan Times JBC column 117: The annual Top Ten for 2019 of human rights issues as they affected NJ residents in Japan

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 27, 2019

Table of Contents:
WHOLESALE ALIENATION BY OFFICIALDOM

1) Dejima Award #7: Nagoya City officially classifies “Foreigner City Denizens” to include “naturalized persons, children of international marriages, people with foreign cultures or roots in their backgrounds”. Viva Eugenics.
2) MH Fox translation: “Gangsters and foreigners have no rights”, by Hiroshi Ichikawa (former prosecutor) on jiadep.org.
3) Mainichi: “‘Prison camps for Brazilians’: Foreign kids in Japan being ushered into special education.” Perpetuates the Japan-“educated” NJ underclass.
4) “Educating the Non-Japanese Underclass”, my Shingetsu News Agency “Visible Minorities” Col 2, Sept 17, 2019.
5) Senaiho Update 3: Civil suit to be launched over school “Hair Police” forced-haircut bullying of student in Yamanashi JHS (UPDATED).

MORE ALIENATION JUST FOR KICKS

6) XY on being racially profiled–by a designated police task force looking for “bad foreigners”–for a traffic fender bender caused by someone else!
7) Reuters: Japanese police urged to take “light-touch” towards NJ during Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup. Yeah, sure.
8 ) ICI Hotel Kanda unlawfully requires ID from all “foreign guests”, including NJ residents of Japan, as a precondition for stay; claims it’s demanded by Tokyo Metropolitan Police (UPDATED).
9) Last word on NJ hotel passport checks (thanks to a lawyer): It’s as Debito.org has said for more than a decade: NJ Residents are exempt from showing any ID.
10) My Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities col 3: “Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins”, October 23, 2019.
11) Fujisankei-owned Japan Today posts article on “What to do if stopped by J police” for Rugby World Cup visitors, after consulting with Debito.org. Then does not acknowledge Debito.org and leaves out valuable advice.
12) Kyoto JET Programme teacher TS on being made homeless due to xenophobic landlord, and Kyoto Board of Education (who found the apartment) refuses to help.
13) Dr. Oussouby Sacko, African-born President of Kyoto Seika U, speaks at JALT, shows more blind spots re racism and tokenism.

… and finally…
14) “The Xeno-Scapegoating of Japanese Halloween”, my SNA Visible Minorities Col 4, Nov 18, 2019.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 23, 2019

Table of Contents:
1) Kyodo: Japan celebrates its South American Japanese diaspora. Praising them for doing what it complains NJ immigrants to Japan do. (Like take Nippon Foundation money to sterilize Peruvian indigenous peoples?)
2) Reuters: Yet another NJ detainee dies after hunger strike after 3 years in Japan “detention center”; time for a change in labeling
3) US State Dept. 2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Japan: Highlights for Debito.org Readers

… and finally…
4) Japan Times JBC 116: “‘Love it or leave it’ is not a real choice” (on how Trump’s alienation of critics of color is standard procedure in Japan), July 24, 2019

US State Dept. 2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Japan: Highlights for Debito.org Readers

Every year, the US State Department issues its “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices”.  As highlighted by the Shingetsu News Agency, the 2018 Report on Japan came out last March.  Now while it’s quite rich for the US to be reporting on other countries (but not, notably, itself) while it has an ongoing human-rights debacle for detained foreign entrants and asylum seekers (and their children) around its southern border, this Report has been cited over the years as authoritative (and it has also included the work of Debito.org and others). So here are the highlights on issues pertaining to Debito.org.  As you can see, a lot of information is glossed over.  Here are some highlighted sections for Debito.org Readers:

2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Japan, March 13, 2019

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
D. ARBITRARY ARREST OR DETENTION
ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS
ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
Pretrial Detention

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties
A. FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND PRESS
Freedom of Expression
D. FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT, INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS, PROTECTION OF REFUGEES, AND STATELESS PERSONS
Access to Asylum
Access to Basic Services
Elections and Political Participation
Participation of Minorities

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Government Human Rights Bodies

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
International Child Abductions
National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Section 7. Worker Rights
B. PROHIBITION OF FORCED OR COMPULSORY LABOR
E. ACCEPTABLE CONDITIONS OF WORK

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 30, 2019

Table of Contents:
VISA ISSUES, SOME LETHAL
1) SCMP: “Japan: now open to foreign workers, but still just as racist?” Quotes Debito.
2) Mainichi: New “open door” visa programs violate basic NJ human rights (now including marriage and children), don’t resolve cruel detention centers, and still curb actual immigration and assimilation
3) Reuters: Yet another NJ detainee dies after hunger strike after 3 years in Japan “detention center”; time for a change in labeling
4) SCMP: Japan needs thousands of foreign workers to decommission Fukushima nuclear site. High irony alert: First blame NJ, then have them clean up your deadly messes.

VISAS BEING MADE AN ISSUE
5) Yomiuri: GOJ now requiring hospitals (unlawfully) demand Gaijin Cards from NJ as a precondition for medical treatment
6) Mark: New Discriminatory Policy by Rakuten Mobile Inc., now “stricter with foreigners”, refusing even Todai MEXT Scholarship Students cellphones
7) Anonymous on Ethical Issues/Discriminatory practices being carried out by Todai and Kyodai against MEXT scholars
8 ) Kyodo: Half of foreigners in Tokyo experienced discrimination: ARIC survey
9) My Japan Times JBC 115: “Know your rights when checking in at an Airbnb” (Apr 17, 2019)

… and finally…
10) Foreign Minister Kouno Taro asks world media to use Japanese ordering of names (Abe Shinzo, not Shinzo Abe) in overseas reportage. Actually, I agree.

My Japan Times JBC 115: “Know your rights when checking in at an Airbnb” (Apr 17, 2019)

JT: Last year, the government passed a law covering minpaku, which is when people rent out space on their properties to travelers (a la Airbnb). The law is part of an effort to regulate accommodations amid a tourism boom ahead of the 2020 Olympics. One issue for non-Japanese travelers, though, has been whether they must show ID such as a passports at check-in.

For hotels, which fall under the Hotel Business Law, the regulation has always been this: For any adult, Japanese or non-Japanese, who has an address in Japan, ID is not required. You just write your contact details in the guest registry. However, for guests who don’t reside in this country, displaying ID (i.e., your passport) is required.

Seems straightforward so far, right? But as has been reported several times over more than 10 years of this column, the police (and occasionally the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare) have confused things. Some hotels have been instructed that all “foreign guests” must show ID, specifically their passports… Rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2019/04/17/issues/know-rights-checking-airbnb/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 18, 2019

Table of Contents:
MORE OFFICIAL OVERREACTION TO NJ INVITED INFLUX
1) Record 2.73 million NJ residents in Japan in 2018; media also shoehorns in mention of NJ crime, without mention of NJ contributions
2) MC on new Minpaku Law and NJ check-ins: Govt. telling AirBnB hostels that “foreign guests” must have passports photocopied etc. Yet not in actual text of the Minpaku Law. Or any law.
3) XY: Hotel calls cops on NJ Resident at check-in for not showing passport. And cops misinterpret laws. Unlawful official harassment is escalating.
4) Fox on getting interrogated at Sumitomo Prestia Bank in Kobe. Thanks to new FSA regulations that encourage even more racial profiling.
5) “Gaikokujin Appetizer Charge” in Osaka Dotonbori restaurant? Debito.org investigates.

THE SENAIHO CASE OF SCHOOL HAIR POLICING TAKEN TO COURT
6) Senaiho on criminal complaint against Jr High School “Hair Police” in Yamanashi
7) UPDATE: Senaiho on the stacked Board of Education committee investigating his Yamanashi jr. high school Hair Police complaint
8 ) UPDATE 2: Senaiho School Bullying in Yamanashi JHS: How people who file complaints for official harassment get harassed back
9) NYT: Hair policing soon to be treated as “racial discrimination” by NYC Commission of Human Rights. Compare with JHS & HS Hair Police in Japan.

HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN
10) Debito.org’s stance on the Carlos Ghosn Case, at last: A boardroom coup making “thin legal soup” that might shame Japan’s “hostage justice” judicial system into reform
11) Debito article in Shingetsu News Agency: “The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite” (Feb 2, 2019)

… and finally…
12) Japan Times JBC 114, “Top Ten Human Rights Issues for NJ in Japan for 2018” column, “Director’s Cut” with links to sources

Fox on getting interrogated at Sumitomo Prestia Bank in Kobe. Thanks to new FSA regulations that encourage even more racial profiling.

My old friend Fox in Japan writes in with a tale of being, as he puts it, “interrogated” at the bank for trying to send $500 overseas while foreign.  And if you think the claim “while foreign” is a bit of an exaggeration, Debito.org has numerous records of racial profiling by Japanese banks for sending or receiving funds (or exchanging money) of even minuscule amounts (such as 500 yen).  New regulations, however, require a “risk-based approach” (which is, according to the Nikkei, recommended but not required), meaning the scale of “risk” depends on how much money the sender/receiver has in that bank.  Or as the Nikkei puts it, “Consider a customer with a direct payroll deposit of 300,000 yen ($2,660) a month who receives 200 million yen from an overseas bank. The government would require that the bank not only follow up confirming the identity of the person withdrawing the funds, but also check the deposit history and what the cash will be used for.”  

Meaning that this is no longer a matter of transfer amount — i.e., a large transfer of 5,000,000 yen (later 2,000,000 yen) used to raise flags while smaller transfers didn’t.  (Japan’s FSA Guidelines of 2018 mention no money amount whatsoever.)  The problem now becomes, without an objective minimum transfer amount to be flagged, that any “foreigner” can be arbitrarily deemed “risky” at any time simply by dint.  It encourages racial profiling even further, in addition to what you already have at Japan’s hotels and other public accommodation, police instant ID checkpoints, and tax agencies.  More Embedded Racism.

MC on new Minpaku Law and NJ check-ins: Govt. telling AirBnB hostels that “foreign guests” must have passports photocopied etc. Yet not in actual text of the Minpaku Law. Or any law.

It seems the GOJ is up to its old tricks:  Reinterpreting the law to pick on “foreigners” again.  This was seen previously on Debito.org to encourage racial profiling at hotel check-ins, and now with the new Minpaku Law affecting AirBnB-style private homes opened for public accommodation (minshuku), it’s more of the same.  Read on from Debito.org Reader MC:

MC: I wrote to the Minpaku I stayed at with an explanation of the problematic nature of their system in regards to Non-Japanese customers. First, they had no right to ask for photographs of anyone, resident or not, Japanese or not. The idea of requiring guests to upload a scan of a driving licence or passport, or even just a face shot, is just asking for identity theft, and is certainly illegal. I explained the law on this as follows:  “The Japan Hotel Laws are quite clear on this: If the guest is NOT a resident of Japan you DO have the right to ask for a passport number (not a copy of the passport). But if the guest IS a resident of Japan, on the other hand, whatever the nationality, they have no responsibility to provide any kind of copy of an official document or any photograph. It’s a gross invasion of privacy.”

The Minpaku lodging replied to say that the new Minpaku Law of 2018 allowed for online check-in, and required photographic ID. The former is true, but I didn’t think the latter was. However, I checked out the wording at the Minpaku system portal on the MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism) site, and it looks to me as though there is some cause for worry.

COMMENT: MLIT is offering a freewheeling interpretation of the law (as keeps happening by Japanese officialdom, particularly the Japanese police, over-interpreting the law for their convenience to target foreigners).  However, there is NOTHING in the Minpaku Law that requires NJ Residents of Japan to supply passport numbers (and by extension passport copies and mugshots). But where is this heading?  Towards more rigmarole, policing, and official harassment of NJ-resident customers. (MLIT is even explicitly advising Minpaku to call the cops if the “foreign guest” has no passport, even though residents are not required to carry them; and as the Carlos Ghosn Case demonstrates, you do NOT want to be detained by the Japanese police under any circumstances.)  And I have been hearing of other Japan-lifers now finding it harder to check-in while foreign.

Bottom line:  The new Minpaku Law hasn’t fundamentally changed anything in regards to NJ resident customers.  You are still not required to show ID, passport, or photo to any Japanese accommodation if you indicate that you have an address in Japan.

Japan Times JBC 114 DIRECTOR’S CUT of “Top Ten for 2018” column, with links to sources

Now that the clicks have died down on my latest Japan Times JBC column of January 28, 2019 (thanks for putting it in the Top Ten trending articles once again), what follows is the first final draft I submitted to the Japan Times for editing on December 29, 2018.  I blog this version because a lot of information is lost (inevitably) as we cut the word count from 2800 to 1600 words. (I generally put everything in the first final draft, then cut it down to fit the page; that way we don’t overlook anything and have to backtrack.)

People have been asking what got cut (and yes, the original version mentions Michael Woodford and Jeff Kingston), so the piece below is quite a bit different from what appeared in the Japan Times here (meaning it shouldn’t draw away any readers from the JT version; in fact, it will probably spur more views from readers wanting to compare). Also, having links to sources matter, so here it all is, including my regular acerbic tone.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 27, 2019

Table of Contents:
THE FAULTY DYNAMIC OF “NIPPON CLAIMING”
1) Japan Times JBC Col 113: “Warning to Naomi Osaka: Playing tennis for Japan can seriously shorten your career” (Sep. 19, 2018)
2) SCMP: “Tennis queen Naomi Osaka a role model, says ‘Indian’ Miss Japan Priyanka Yoshikawa”. A little more complex than that.
3) “Nippon Claimed” multiethnic tennis star Osaka Naomi gets “whitewashed” by her sponsor. Without consulting her. Compare with singer Crystal Kay.

SHENANIGANS
4) Fuji TV’s “Taikyo no Shunkan”: Reality TV targeting NJ as sport. Again.
5) Japan Times officially sanitizes WWII “comfort women” and “forced laborers”. Pressure on my JT Just Be Cause column too.
6) Excellent Japan Times feature on dual citizenship in Japan: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy leaves many in the dark

GOOD NEWS?
7) Nikkei: Japanese-Brazilians snub Tokyo’s diaspora residency program, attracting exactly ZERO applications after starting 3 months ago
8 ) BBC: Fukuoka Hilton Hotel refuses entry to Cuban Ambassador due to “US sanctions”. J authorities call action “illegal”. How quaint.

HOT DISCUSSIONS ON DEBITO.ORG
9) Nikkei Asian Review: “In rural Japan, immigrants spark a rebirth”. An optimistic antidote to the regular media Gaijin Bashing
10) Senaiho on criminal complaint against Jr High School “Hair Police” in Yamanashi
11) SendaiBen on “Anytime Fitness” Sports Gym Gaijin Carding him, and how he got them to stoppit
12) JT: GOJ Cabinet approves new NJ worker visa categories. Small print: Don’t bring your families. Or try to escape.
13) Surprising survey results from Pew Research Center: Japan supportive of “immigration”

… and finally…
14) Pop Matters.com: Interview with Activist and Writer Debito Arudou on Foreigners’ Rights in Japan