THE JAPAN TIMES
COMMUNITY PAGE ARTICLE
MAY 24, 2005
(Page down to February 8, 2006 Mainichi Shinbun article demonstrating that the article's claims are precisely what is happening.)
THE ZEIT GIST
Here comes the fear
Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents
By DEBITO ARUDOU
Column 21 for the Japan Times Community page
Published version available at
What follows is the "Director's Cut" of the article:
Japan is following other developed countries in drafting antiterrorism laws.
However, Japan's proposals and probable implementation may present profound difficulties for its foreign communities.
The "Action Plan for Pre-empting of Terrorism" ("Tero no Mizen Boshi ni Kansuru Kodo Keikaku," available at http://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/singi/sosikihanzai/kettei/041210kettei.pdf ) was issued in December 2004 and has already received approval by the Prime Minister's Cabinet.
Its proposals will be submitted to the Diet piecemeal over the next year or two.
Its very title is indicative. Though the Action Plan addresses "terrorism" in general, its drafter is the "Bureau for Promoting Policy Against International Terrorism and International Organized Crime" (kokusai soshiki hanzai tou, kokusai tero taisaku suishin honbu), as if terrorism is international and imported, something to man the barricades against.
The fifth paragraph of its introduction reinforces this tone:
Many recommendations are sensible: Stronger cockpit doors, stricter controls over offensive weapons in airports, more sophisticated measures against money laundering, increased security around nuclear power plants, and tightened border controls.
However, some proposals border on the paranoid. On the drawing board are airport X-ray machines customized for shoes (thank goodness the Shoe Bomber didn't hide explosives in his anus!), more security around water sources and travel arteries (which may explain the presence of "under surveillance" signs at remote river beds and mountain passes), security marshals on trains, riot police on standby in busy airports, and police cars guarding railroad tracks.
Moreover, professionals such as bankers, financial advisers, money handlers, even goldsmiths and jewelers, will be legally bound to report any "suspicious dealings" by their clients. Also deputized will be accountants, realtors, insurers, notary publics, even lawyers. Bang goes client confidentiality.
Although the plan only occasionally mentions "foreigners" in specific, some proposals will clearly affect them in application.
For example, a fingerprinting system for foreign entrants will be reinstated -- despite the decades spent by activists getting it abolished in 1998. When contacted, the International Terrorism Bureau stated they will probably not require fingerprints from re-entrants or visa renewers, nor need periodical print updates.
But that remains at the "probably" level, unreassuringly, as exact plans are still under consideration.
Preternaturally ambitious is the proposal to control all dangerous chemicals. Since one can make explosives with everyday materials (fertilizer, bleach, candle wax, sawdust, gasoline, vegetable oil, hydrogen peroxide...), the police will have their work cut out keeping track of it all.
This is why administrative shortcuts are likely to be made. You might not be able to keep tabs on everybody who, say, buys hydrogen peroxide. But it's much easier to do so if the buyer is foreign. This is because foreigners can be kept track of -- through Japan's only pervasive ID system, "gaijin cards" (created in 1952 precisely to register and monitor all "foreigners" who stayed on after WWII). Hence the huge potential for "gaijin targeting."
It's already happening. As the Community Page reported on March 8, 2005, the National Police Agency is misinterpreting recent hotel law revisions to target foreign guests.
Local bureaus are asking hotels to demand passport numbers and photocopies for reporting to police. Even though the actual legal revision ("Shourei 4018") asks that this be done for foreign tourists only, i.e. unregistered foreigners without addresses in Japan.
The Action Plan also includes this misinterpretation -- expressly applied to "foreign lodgers" ("gaikokujin shukuhaku kyaku"), not tourists -- in a bill to be submitted to the Diet next year. When questioned, the Bureau indicated that policy will follow the Shourei's guidelines, so take a few trust pills.
Not to be outdone, however, two ministries (Health, Labour and Welfare, and Foreign Affairs) announced the same legal misinterpretation to foreign governments on March 30. Eagle-eyed, Community Page reading U.S. Embassy staff contacted them for clarification, and on April 27 related the correct information to U.S. citizens (the MOFA Web site, regardless, remains erroneous).
MHLW's justification for this legal twist? For "effective prevention of infectious diseases and terrorism."
I see. Then it naturally follows that on May 8, 2005, after a Caucasian passenger became ill on a Cathay Pacific flight from Bangkok to Fukuoka via Hong Kong and Taipei, all Caucasians, according to a passenger, were given yellow quarantine forms at Fukuoka Airport. Japanese, she alleges, were not. When called on this, Fukuoka Quarantine Station did acknowledge on May 18 that not all passengers were given the yellow forms--just to those originating in Thailand (even though some recipients boarded at Hong Kong). The question remains: Why weren't all passengers, after so much time in a contained environment, screened for contagious diseases?
There are clear triangulations for how antiterrorism measures will be enforced, with a trend toward racial profiling and foreigner targeting.
Thanks to the permanent high-alert status in airports, this writer (a Japanese citizen), has on several occasions been stopped without cause in nonsecurity zones for random ID checks, even though for citizens this is illegal.
Of course, the Action Plan proposes to remove those legal protections to allow smoother instant checkpointing.
Thanks to all the money-laundering alerts, banks have been screening foreigners for receiving wired money in amounts as little as 5,000 yen, or for changing $400 into yen (even though, legally, alarms are supposed to sound at 2 million yen and 5 million yen respectively).
Doubtless that will now be amended accordingly to reflect the "ever-changing" international situation.
And of course don't forget the granddaddy of all "gaijin targeting" proposals: Tokyo Governor Ishihara's April 9, 2000 speech asking the Nerima Ground Self Defense Forces to round up "bad" (later clarified as "illegal") foreigners, just in case they unprecedentedly riot during a natural disaster.
At no time then, or since, has there been any clarification to make public policy more sophisticated toward the international community -- separating the "criminal" from the "normally law-abiding" (not to mention healthy) foreigner.
Perhaps that is the nature of the beast. Amnesty International reports, in a prescient paper on "Universal Jurisdiction" (September 2001), that "acts of terrorism" are so vaguely defined in international law that they overlap with acts already illegal under domestic law (such as murder). The problem is anti-terrorist laws can become politically-motivated, violating domestic legal protections (most notably civil liberties) in implementation. Furthermore, any law specifically aiming for preemption, given the impossibility of covering all possible scenarios, easily leads to a slippery slope of policy overreach.
Now apply that to Japan. Take the distrust of foreigners already enshrined in Japanese laws, add the need for immediate, preemptive, and prophylactic action, and you get a explosive admixture with great potential for abuse.
The Action Plan is no exception. Its very rubric is, among other things, unsophisticatedly separating the world into "Japanese" and "gaijin."
If people don't soon realize that targeting and racial profiling are hardly means for efficacious public policy, violations of human rights are well-nigh inevitable.
Vigilance is not only the duty of the policymakers. It is also the duty of the governed, to ensure that the disenfranchised do not become even more so. Eyes open, please.
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The Japan Times: May 24, 2005
(Read on for February 8, 2006 Mainichi Shinbun article demonstrating that the article's claims are precisely what is happening.)
テロの未然防止を目的に政府が今国会に提出する出入国管理・難民認定法改正案の全容が７日、分かった。原則として１６歳以上の外国人に入国審査時 の指紋採取を義務付けるほか、テロリストの入国を阻止するため、法相が「公衆等脅迫目的の犯罪を行う恐れがある」と認定した者を強制退去させる規定を新設 する。
指紋採取の例外となるのは（１）在日韓国・朝鮮人などの特別永住者（２）１６歳未満（３）外交・公用での来日（４）国の招待者など。指紋のほかに 顔画像の採取も検討されており、今後法務省令で定める。指紋などはコンピューターに記録され、過去の強制退去者の指紋と照合して、他人になりすました再入 国を防ぐ。捜査当局から照会があれば、犯罪捜査にも利用する。
強制退去できるのは、一般市民や国を脅迫する目的の殺人、ハイジャック、爆破行為など「テロ資金提供処罰法」が定める犯罪行為（予備・ほう助も含 む）を実行する恐れがあると法相が判断した人と、「国際約束により日本への入国を防止すべき者」。このほか、日本に入る航空機や船舶の乗客名簿の事前提出 も義務付ける。
毎日新聞 2006年2月8日 3時00分