I remember having to put my thumb to the ink pad when I first applied for the Alien Registration Card that all foreigners in Japan are required to carry at all times. Seven years ago, that law was changed, and my sparkling new card, which has a lot of other fancy features, is no longer blessed with my unique imprint.
Should we all be subjected to fingerprinting as we enter Japan? Well, if Aliens need to do it, why not also Japanese citizens. The “terror law” that Japan has imposed would not have stopped Japanese citizens belonging to Aum Shinrikyo from coming up with the Tokyo Subway gas attack 12 years ago. Fingerprinting would not have stopped the Japanese citizens joining the infamous Japanese Red Army from killing innocent victims in Israel and elsewhere in the 1970s. Japanese people didn’t take much responsibility for these autrocities; most people – and lawmakers – here probably have “forgotten”.
So what is behind all this nonsense?
I really do not know.
Join Amnesty International or its English-speaking branch in Tokyo.
(U.S. Visit, the system that Japan appears to have copied, currently holds a repository of over 50 million persons, primarily in the form of two-finger records…)
(Photo from The Mainichi: Protesters ‘flip the bird’ at Justice Ministry over forced fingerprinting)
Protestors inflated a 3-meter-high yellow hand with an extended forefinger and thrust it toward the Justice Ministry’s offices in Tokyo on Tuesday to demonstrate against a controversial fingerprinting policy beginning at ports of entry across the country the same day.
About 80 protestors turned toward the ministry building and shouted in unison their opposition to the new policy, which requires all but a handful of foreigners to have their fingerprints and face photos taken to gain entry into Japan.
Representatives of human rights groups, labor unions, foreigners’ groups and individuals spoke out against the system — similar to the US-VISIT policy operating in the United States since 2004, but also targeting residents and not just tourists — calling it, among other things, “racist,” “xenophobic,” “retrogressive” and “an invasion of human rights and privacy.”
“It’s an expression of Japanese xenophobia. Japan is using this system as a tool to control foreigners. For the past few years, the government has been associating foreigners with things like crime and terrorism,” said Sonoko Kawakami, campaign coordinator for Amnesty International Japan, which organized Tuesday’s demonstration.
Lim Young-Ki, a representative of the Korean Youth Association in Japan, pointed out how ethnic Koreans had fought for decades until the 2000 abolition of fingerprinting on Alien Registration Certificates only to see the process revived through the back door now.
“This system is ostensibly an anti-terrorism measure, but it is extremely harmful to individuals and only applying the system to foreigners shows a lack of consideration for foreigners’ human rights. Even though the system of fingerprinting foreigners was completely abolished in April 2000, it’s infuriating that the Japanese government has reinstated this practice and this entry inspection system,” Lim said, reading a statement issued by his organization. “We want to use this demonstration to call on the Japanese government to promptly redress this system obligating foreigners to provide their fingerprints and face photos whenever they enter the country.”