Friday, August 31, 2007

Call to Arms

As you may be aware by now, Japan will institute a fingerprinting system on all foreigners entering Japan from November 2007. This includes residents and tourists.

Not only is the justification for this system highly questionable, but it completely undermines the work foreign residents did to get the old fingerprinting system abolished some years ago, the records purged.

As such, I suggest foreign residents who may be considering international travel in November and December at least bring some attention to this issue the first time it arises at immigration. When the Gaijin Hanzai magazine was still being sold in Family Mart, we were encouraged not to go shouting to store managers who may have been ignorant or had little control over the situation, but to calmly hand over a letter written in Japanese explaining the reasons why Family Mart should consider removing the mook.

Japan Probe was very successful in this endeavor, as was Debito. As my Japanese skills are still not quite up to par, I am issuing a call to all JLP 1's to send possible letters my way, addressed to Japanese immigration authorities after fingerprinting is conducted.

Nothing inflammatory, nothing suggesting open rebellion. Just a simple letter stating that although you will comply with this law, it is only because you have no choice if you want to enter Japan; state a brief history of the fingerprinting situation in Japan and how it came to be abolished the first time around; why do you disagree with the present system, etc.



tornados28 said...

Good luck. I travel to japen about once a year. The last time was in January so I have not had to get fingerprinted yet. Sounds like a hassle and what are my fingerprints going to tell them? I gues they can use it to track me.

dwizzle said...

This kinda sucks, I'm going to Japan hopefully in 2009. Maybe someone will be able to persuade some people to not pass this law as it seems like something tourists shouldn't have to do, but I won't know much Japanese until then either. Great article, I'd help if I could.

Anonymous said...

I didn`t have a problem with getting fingerprinted when I first came here in `98 for my gaijin card, didn`t care one way or the other when I wrote my signature for the new card in `03, and won`t give it a second thought if I get fingerprinted again next year. All foreigners-visitors and residents-should be fingerprinted. The only people with a legitimate gripe are the Chinese/Koreans and their descendants here were stripped of their Japanese citizenship when sovereignty reverted back to Japan after the U.S. Occupation.
Yes, it is ridiculous when the Japanese claim this is crime fighting measure when 98+% of the people living here don`t have to get fingerprinted but, if you have nothing to hide, why worry about it?

ターナー said...

That argument is the flimsiest in history. ...why worry if you have nothing to hide. Why worry if your internet history is recorded and perused at another's discretion? Why worry about who listens to your personal calls if you happen to say "terrorist", "bomb", or "anthrax"?

Protections should secure everyone, not just the law-abiding.

Uradox said...

Because ターナー, you have nothing to worry about if your not doing anything wrong to start with.
I'm all for this and I am a foreigner who regularly goes between Perth and Nagoya. I think any foreigner in any country should be required this, not just japan.

ターナー said...

Then enjoy the freedom to say that while you still can.

Shari said...

Re: Anonymous and Uradox

The problem is that you never know what will be done with the information you give. Let's say a subway car is bombed and you rode on that subway car earlier in the day. Your fingerprints are found on the luggage rack in several places because you're too tall to comfortably hold the hand straps and you moved around to several different positions in several different cars touching the racks in different spots. The police conclude the bomb was put on a luggage rack and your fingerprints are all over the place so they blame you because you're a foreigner and the only one whose prints they have on file.

If you think this scenario is ridiculous then you're displaying ignorance about the way the Japanese police work. They rely heavily on circumstantial evidence and confessions which they coerce out of people once they bring them in.

Beyond that, Turner's arguments are very valid. Once you start surrendering your rights because 'you have nothing to hide', you're on a slippery slope.

Hachiryu said...

Hi everyone,

I think Shari's and Turner's arguments are extremely well founded. However I just want to add something about the way this "fingerprinting" is going to be implemented. I came here in 89 and all my fingerprints (5 fingers) were taken in strong ink. However, and from what I have gathered in the press, what is awaiting people at airports or other entering places is a machine equipped with a flat screen on which you put both thumbs, the images of which are confronted with in-store data of criminals' fingerprints. No messy ink and no retaining of information as far as I am aware... and no change back to the old rules as far as the Alien Registration Card is concerned. Am I mistaken?

ターナー said...

I believe you're half right; I'm not sure, but I'm willing to bet the fingerprinting will be done electronically, and the information retained (as opposed to just used for the moment to search a database and see if you're a terrorist). On a lighter note, doesn't this mean I can commit a crime with eight fingers?

"No change back to the old rules as far as the Alien Registration Card is concerned" - which part are you referring to?

Hachiryu said...

Hi again,

you are right here about the eight remaining fingers.... HA, HA!!!

Regarding the "old" ways, I came to Japan in 1989 and I was fingerprinted (with ink, every single finger, on the application form) so as to get my alien registration card, on which my fingerprint (the thumb) was visible.

The new rules to be applied from November only concern people entering Japan at the port of entry, don't they? We won't have to give our fingerprints on our Alien registration card?

ターナー said...

As far as I know, no, but I could be mistaken

羽之助 said...

Consider that every month or so there's a scandal where sensitive information is leaked via P2P networks or stored on portable hard drives which then goes missing. Do you really want your fingerprints leaked out into the electronic ether, ready to be used by a corrupt police officer and his yakuza buddies?

Nipponster Staff said...

I just found out that this issue is dodgier than any of us likely imagined.

Mike said...

I wrote a similar article here about this issue;

I'm disgusted at this idea and I'm praying this rule doesn't go through.