Wednesday, November 21, 2007


A little while ago I wrote about how there are times, living in Japan as a foreigner, I feel like I am under suspicion purely for being non-Japanese and Japan's new policy of fingerprinting and photographing all foreigners entering Japan. The fingerprinting practice has now been implemented and so is in a lot of the press for English speakers now.

To be honest, once I get over the conditioning that it is only for criminals, I don't have a problem with fingerprinting itself. What I do have a problem with is that it is only for foreigners. The implication seems to be that it is the gaijin to be feared, and not their fellow countrymen. When if comes to foreigners, Japan seems to have a guilty-until-proven-innocent mentality. I know America has the same practice and maybe I would feel equally offended getting fingerprinted there, though with America, differences of race don't come into it.

In the explanation video, terrorist bombing attacks in America, Bali, Morocco, Spain and London are listed. Never do they talk about the worst terrorist attack in their own country in 1995, the Sarin gas attack, an attack on Japanese, by Japanese. I find the video quite condescending when they try to pass the fingerprinting practice off as being partly to protect the foreigners. Let's be honest Japan (or the government at least), you don't really care about the foreigners, you're too busy worrying about what you think we're going to do to you.

While I'm on the subject of safety in Japan, it is for the most part a very safe place to live in. The recent trend of random street slashings however is a disturbing one. Until this week, I wrote it off as being a "big city" problem and not something to worry about where I live. That has now changed. Two days ago, a girl from our school was chased down the street by an old man with a knife. He was believe to have been seen outside one of the school gates again yesterday.

Japan, is it really US you need to worry about?


j donuts has put together a great post linking to other people's thoughts on this matter. It's a really interesting and somewhat scary read. You can find it here.


Contamination said...

I’ve just added you to a report on the Japan Blogging communities reaction to the fingerprinting issue.
jDonuts Fingerprinting in Japan, A Blogs Eye View

Hope you get some buzz from it.

tornados28 said...

True. Look at other countries such as England where some of the terrorist attacks were carried out by their own citizens.

Also, the only terrorists attacks ever carried out in Japan were by Japanese (Aum Shinryko Cult and the Japanese Red Army terrorist group from the 70s).

Shari said...

My main problem with this is that I have no faith whatsoever in the Japanese criminal justice system. If you research the way the police work, you find that they frequently make conclusions about possible crime scenes visually and often don't use forensic evidence. They rarely perform autopsies, coerce confessions, rely on circumstantial evidence and do not look any further once they have formed a theory about who is guilty. This is something I've learned in the past year as I've been tutoring a student majoring in Criminal Justice. It's very scary.

The possible consequence of this is that being in the wrong place at the wrong time and having your biometric data on file can get you accused and convicted of a crime you had nothing to do with. You cannot rely on the Japanese police to conduct a thorough forensic investigation. In fact, the only thing you can rely on is that they will grab the thread which suits their prejudices and tug on it to the exclusion of all others.

Woe be to the unfortunate gaijin whose prints are on file and who happened to leave prints at a crime scene during an innocent exchange. The police will find such prints and look no further.

Contamination said...

I'm inviting you to join my A Blogs Eye View community. This way we can better manage posts about life in Japan or hot topics affecting Japan. If you have a question, E-Mail me.

zichi said...

I'm a Permanent Resident of Japan, from the UK and have lived here since 1994. Japan has never been attacked by foreign terrorists and if such attack is likely it will happen overseas. Japan has been attacked by home grown terrorists. The introduction of fingerprinting is against the Japanese Constitution which affords protection to all peoples who are in Japan and not just Japanese nationals.