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Home » November 2007 » How Can You Protest Japan's Bad Fingerprinting Policy?

How Can You Protest Japan's Bad Fingerprinting Policy?

Friday, November 23, 2007 Posted: 09:16 AM JST

Aridou Debito has listed a number of active and passive ways to protest Japan's new law to fingerprint and photograph non-Japanese nationals each time they enter Japan. They contain excellent suggestions:


1) At any public opportunity you have, in any venue you deem appropriate, slip in a subtle (or not so subtle) indication that you have serious misgivings about a policy that follows the logic of treating all non-Japanese axiomatically as "terrorists and carriers of infectious diseases". And one that treats all long-term non-Japanese residents and taxpayers as tourists, non-residents, and aliens unconnected to their Japanese families--no matter how long they've lived here and contributed to this society's demographically-troubled future.

Suggested venues include meetings with public officials, members of the government and bureaucracy, the diplomatic corps, press outlets, agencies connected with tourism and foreign exchange, and especially politicians. A mention in passing is fine. But do a little something. Remind them that this issue is not going to go away, and we are not just good little "guests" that will take a slight as deep as this lightly.

2) Encourage your friends to take their trips elsewhere--tell them you'll meet them overseas. Even encourage them to join in the fight. For example, a contributor wrote me tonight:

Hello there, It really may sound quite a childish step to take, but if people wish to show their displeasure with the fingerprinting/photo issue, then send a query to the JNTO in the UK (or any other office in an industrialised nation whose visitors and cash Japan would like to attract) asking about the new immigration rules as if you were thinking of bringing your family to Japan for an extended visit (don't use an obviously Japanese email address--plenty of Yahoo.uk etc addresses available).


When they reply with a raft of information about the new entry procedures, write back and tell them that it's all too much and that sadly you will have to forgo the treat of a visit to 'beautiful Japan' and that you will visit somewhere else (how about Korea or China!?).

If enough people do this, negative feedback about these measures from the JNTO may be heard where the rising sun doesn't shine. Best regards, G. Alexander.

3) Write letters of your own to pertinent ministries and outlets. A template letter and suggestions on places to send it are available at debito.org. Consider even handing it to Immigration every time you clear Customs.

Others have proposed protest t-shirts, buttons, or other means to show your discomfort that are public and vocal. If you can help out with any of these efforts (if you have the means), please let me know. If you have other suggestions, please feel free to visit my blog and leave a comment and/or suggestion, anonymously if you prefer, or write me at debito [at] debito [dot] org


Refuse to be separated from your Japanese families at the border. Stand in the same line. Slow things up. Make it clear that Japan is not immune to the effects of immigration and globalization, and that it must remember that Japan's international residents are as integrated into and contributing to this society as any other citizen.

In short, please don't do nothing. Please consider showing that the "gaijin" being targeted by this policy (essentially anyone who is not US Military under SOFA, Diplomats, or Zainichi Korean/Chinese etc.-- since their being exempted is purely political; they would have more effectively fought back if fingerprinted as well) are neither docile nor impervious to being treated as suspicious criminals--by a government that is happy to take their resident taxes and tourist dollars, yet not treat them with the commensurate respect.

If you need more background on the issue, my files on fingerprinting issue may be found on my blog under a special category at debito.org.

If you still need convincing of the gravity of this situation, please consider reading my essay.

And if you need a second opinion, consider that of Terrie Lloyd, entrepreneur, publisher of Japan Inc and Metropolis, and fellow long-term resident, in a recent "Terrie's Take" (November 11). He calls this "an unmitigated public relations disaster for the Japanese government and the Justice Ministry in particular". Also recent protest letters from the European Business Council and the Australian/NZ Chambers of Commerce.

Keywords: opinion_item

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6 comments so far post your own

1 | At 10:53am on Nov 28 2007, morningstar wrote:
What is wrong with the fingerprint security system. I think thats great.
2 | At 12:12pm on Nov 28 2007, Kjeld Duits wrote:
1. Requiring people to identify themselves with fingerprints and photographs each time they visit a country is an assault on their human rights.

2. Singling out foreigners for identification is morally wrong. Foreigners and native-born are equally capable of being good or bad.

3. Singling out foreigners for identification is stupid. A potential terrorist intent on creating mayhem in Japan could easily enter Japan on a faked Japanese passport.

4. It can, and most probably will, lead to increasing erosion of your individual rights.

5. Additionally, it is a big pain. Visitors need to wait in long lines, people married to Japanese nationals are separated from their spouse and children when they return to Japan after a visit abroad.

For example, I have lived in Japan for over 25 years. I pay taxes like other Japanese.

I have done lots of volunteer work to help Japanese. I organized an event to collect money to have special wheel chairs made for a school for children with special needs in Osaka.

After the earthquake struck Kobe and environs, where I live, I organized the supply of warm meals to some 75 people in a nearby evacuation center for two weeks, twice a day.

But now I am treated as suspicious and a potential criminal when I re-enter Japan after a trip abroad. Every time I re-enter, not just once. Just because my birthplace happens to be different from that of my Japanese neighbors.

I am against fingerprinting and photographing, especially when it is done every time. It doesn't make Japan any safer.

For the sake of argument, let's say that fingerprinting and photographing would make Japan safer, in that case Japanese nationals should be fingerprinted and photographed, too. There are Japanese-born criminals and terrorists that actually CAN be caught more easily when their travels abroad are monitored.
3 | At 05:03pm on Dec 20 2007, rob stuart wrote:
morningstar thou art a simple fellow...
4 | At 05:15pm on Dec 20 2007, Kjeld Duits wrote:
The Morning Star is one of the titles of Christ...

It also symbolizes hope:

In darkest shades, if Thou appear,
My dawning is begun;
Thou art my soul's bright morning star,
And Thou my rising Sun.

But..., I completely agree with Rob Stuart's comment, Morningstar's post (see the first comment on top) surely makes him/her look "a simple fellow."
5 | At 11:20am on Feb 01 2008, blacksheep wrote:
why worry, its so easy to fool the machine, or get a graft And I should know. I,ve written all about it on:
Look for my article , anyhting by ' blacksheep"
To prevent the machine being able to read a print is a simple procedure that costs less than $10 and can be bought at any big store.he graft costs alot more. The truth is- those new machines are next to useless and will not stop anyone. A complete waste of time, money, energy
6 | At 01:49am on Apr 23 2008, done wrote:
I'm agree with you.
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The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
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