Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NOW I'm pissed off

Okay. "N" is for now or whatever.

Japan has decided to follow the U.S.'s stunning example of being a world leader for freedom and individual liberties and rights (I'm typing sarcastically) and the next time I come back into Japan after getting out of this special little country I will be herded into a line for "foreigners" and my fingerprints and photo will be taken. In case I am a terrorist.

I'm a 40 year old mother of 2 Japanese citizens (and remember, this country NEEDS more children). I am a permanent resident and that is because I intend to live out my life here in Japan--with my Japanese family.

Here's a link to an article where someone much more articulate than me discusses why finger printing all foreigners coming into Japan is a bad idea. Check it out.

It's not like I am suddenly being slapped awake from a beautiful dream of "belonging" here in Japan or even a light nap in which I might have dreamt briefly of being "accepted" here. I mean, my name isn't even on the family register (specifically the jyuminhyo or residence certificate) downtown. Our family register shows Masa, Reno and Saki. No wife. Why? Because our family lacks a Japanese wife. Because I am a foreigner I must be listed separately in an official alien register.

The other thing that has ALWAYS reminded me that I am not exactly welcome here (oh yeah, youkoso Japan, if you cut all the tatemae crap stuffed in that you'd just print up huge billboards that read, "Welcome to Japan. Now go home.") is the fact that no matter how frequently I have protested that honest, really, I haven't got any other home than my home here in Japan with my husband and children (you know, my family) I am always under the obligation to supply a "home address" to the folks at immigration. And when I get off the plane I have to fill in a reason for my "visit" to Japan.

Which makes me wonder, what is going to happen when I no longer have living parents in the U.S. who let me put down their address on those forms for a "home address". (Although, honestly, it is kind of hard for me to write it out without laughing out loud at the idea. My parents would stick me and my kids in the car and drop us off at a homeless shelter in seconds flat should I ever turn up on their doorstep saying, "I need a place to live.")

Anyway, I tried to remain calm about the whole finger printing/smile into the camera for your future "wanted" posters thing that the Japanese government will be starting here this month. I tried. Even though my stomach hurt at the thought of my children standing and watching Mommy being finger printed with all the other "foreigners." I mean God forbid they should ever forget the severity of having one non-Japanese parent. If you can't make them feel freaky enough by rushing them in public and demanding that they say something English or calling out, "hafu!" when you see them why not orchestrate it so that they will have to line up with every foreigner in the airport to get through customs very publicly chained to their FROM THE OUTSIDE mother. I tried though, not. . . to. . . get . . . angry. I thought about the way liberties are being trampled on and how personal privacy is being invaded by the government back in my home country. But then this came out.

To cut foreign crime? I am so sick of hearing all about how only foreigners commit crimes here. Don't these idiots read the newspapers in which their wonderful full blood 100% Japanese citizens are out there randomly slashing passerbys, poisoning, strangling, dismembering, stabbing, beating, raping, . . .ARGH! Don't they read their own newspapers? Like all crime in Japan is committed by foreigners?

Great. I know. Lets go one better and put all those Self Defense trucks to good use and just go out and round up all these pesky foreigners and dump them off the island. Seriously, is my alien registration card going to suddenly turn into a badge that I have to wear at all times? (And I actually really do carry mine on me at all times. When I was an exchange student, two students in our group were taken into the local police box for questioning when they were found to not be carrying their alien registration cards on them during completely random--as in, hey look. A foreigner. Let's card them.--checks.)

I am so NOT feeling all "whatever" about this thing now. And I really hate the photo of Kazutomo Miyamoto (the "T.V. personality and celebrity") playing with the foreigner finger printing/photographing equipment. It reminds me of when they let you stand in a cell at Alcatraz. Jerk.


Christelle said...

I too have been outraged by the new immigration policy. When I came to Japan eleven years ago, we used to have to get fingerprinted when we got our gaijin cards. Somehow someone figured out that was an invasion of privacy and unfair and the practice was stopped. I would much prefer to go back to that than to have to do it EVERY TIME I come home to Japan. How "international" the new system is.

Lulu said...

I know doesn`t it suck.....I think it is so stupid especially now that they are saying it is also to stop crime!

I just wrote about this on my own blog today actually...

I feel for you though because you have children and a Japanese husband...everytime you come into the country they can zoom through the Japanese passport line but will then be forced to wait for you while you line up with all the other so called criminals. It is not sending a good message to the younger generation of Japanese people...

I hope that the relize what a mistake they are making with this new law soon... (hopefully before I go to AUstralia then come back to Japan in January...I don`t see it happening though)

Sarah@mommyinjapan said...

My husband has to get fingerprinted and photographed when we go from Canada into the States when we go home to visit. We never really thought of it as a big deal. I don't mind getting fingerprinted. I'm not doing anything wrong. If it helps them catch someone who is doing something wrong or slows somebdoy down who wants to do something wrong then I'm OK with it. It'll be a pain, though.

coarse gold girl said...


I used to feel exactly like you do about this. O.K. inconvenient, but if it helps get the bad guys right?

Then I started to read up on the topic. After reading many articles about both the finger printing system in the States and about this brand new one for all GAIJIN here in Japan. . . sadly I have lost my comfortable mantle of optimism.

Plus, I don't know, it just bothers me that while the millions of Japanese living here apparently could never carry in some disease (hmmmm. . . maybe STD's don't count?) so therefore they don't need to be fingerprinted and photographed, but also the idea that the system is to catch all of us foreign terrorists. . . last time I checked, all acts of terrorism in Japan had to date been committed by Japanese, not gaijin. . .

It's the spirit behind this counter terrorist (if you like to think so)action that has angered me. The idea that ONLY foreigners need to be scrutinized and processed. Oh, and the fact that I am married to a Japanese man, have two Japanese children, have permenent resident status but apparently am suspect to turn into a terrorist at any point in time and therefore must submit to these procedures each and every time I re-enter Japan.

Sorry Sarah. I think I am officially ranting now. But I'm still pissed off. And when I'm in my 70's going through customs here hopefully waving at my Japanese grandchildren waiting for me to get through, I will still glare into the Japanese Government's damn little camera. 'cause I will still be pissed off.

azumarisan said...

I am so pissed off too!

I too have a Japanese husband and i just get really angry when i look at him now. It's not his fault. It's his governments fault. But hey if i'm ever in the same position as you, with kids, i would feel even more angry because like you said, they all have the right to go through the Japanese side while i would be stuck going through the foreigner side.

Isn't it enough that we are all pointed and stared at like aliens in the first place?

On my first entry into Japan i was pulled aside and had a 10 minute interview about where i was staying what i was doing in Japan even though my husband was standing on the other side of the glass and they could clearly see my surname was Japanese.

I was planning to go to Japan in march 08 but i've just changed my mind. I will not be treated like a criminal before i even get in the country and i sure as hell won't be treated like a second class citizen because i'm a foreigner.

My husband can come in and out of Australia without any interview or photo/fingerpring and i expect the same treatment when i get to his country. Maybe Australia should do that to all the Japanese government officials when they enter Aus and see how they like it?

Stop crime, my ass! What about all these "daredemo ii" slashings? It was Japanese who did that not foreigners...and i just read an article in our paper today where they said Japan covers up murders so they seem to have a low murder rate, it's because they don't do autopsies so they don't have to mark it as an official murder. Sleazy.

Well yeah...that's got it out of my system.

I have one word = RACIST!

L. said...

Wow.....I am going to spend the next few months thinking of all kinds of ways in which I can screw with the minds of people who try to fingerprint me. Heh heh heh..... I'm not a terrorist, but I DO have a sick sense of humor.

For example, I have never put my home address on any required Japanese document. Officials would kindly (or sometimes unkindly) insist that I put the address on my latest U.S. passport, but I would always smile and muster the most benign, bovine expression I could and say, "But I can't! It would be a LIE! I don't live there! I live with my Japanese husband now! I can't LIE on your document!"

I found that most officials are so used to ANGER (which is the common, perfectly normal human reaction to their stupid rules) that earnest, consistent politeness can make their heads explode -- it's almost like holding up a mirror to them.

Obviously, I could only do things like that when I had enough time. I once spent two hours at the Setagaya Ward office, politely smiling and softly insisting that I needed to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth on their form, before they finally accepted it with a blank space for "address in home country."

So I have to think of something to do with this fingerprinting stuff at immigration that will drive them batty, and yet not hold up the line too much. Hmmmmmm.......

DMB said...

I currently live in Japan. But my husband and I are both American and are quite at peace with knowing our stay here is temporary. I definitely understand the outrage felt here. I would feel the same way if I were married to a Japanese person and have made Japan my "Home".

Elaine said...

This whole thing makes me furious. I'd prefer to have fingerprints on our gaijin cards again, because let's be honest -- all these prints are going into a giant database ANYWAY. Narita, you'll be able to register your fingerprints at a table on the way out, so supposedly you won't have to go through the huge lines. Of course, there's likely to only be one person staffing that counter, and I wouldn't bet it's always staffed, but it may help. Don't fly on a holiday tho...

Anonymous said...

definitely bogus. more details in this article -

It's an obvious and blatant act of racism. I lived in Japan close to a decade, and still go back frequently for business. This will definitely reduce the frequency of my visits. Gadgets and maids in Akiba just aren't worth this hassle.

With a government that includes members using P2P software, there's no way I feel comfortable with them having my personal info.

Youkoso => "You Kuso!" is more like it.

Midori said...

This has made me really angry from afar. The next time my in-laws/ anybody ask me when I am coming back to Japan for a visit, I will be telling them that the next time will be when I can go through and not be fingerprinted like a criminal. I know you can argue that they are only following in the US`s footprints but at the end of the day I think the speedy uptake of the plan is simply because they have been aching to bring it back in, but couldn`t because it was criticised as affecting our human rights but now the US have brought it in as well, they are able to use that as an excuse. I think the underlying reasoning and mentality for the move are very different and that is what makes most of us angry about the whole thing.

On the bright side, I have a very good reason for my reluctance to go back for a visit any time soon!

Kay said...

This is definitely a ridiculous move but it's not "racist" because even other Asians who can "pass" as Japanese must go through this as well.

It is a stupid nationalist move though.

J. said...

With all of the instability in the world these days (political turmoil, wars and conflicts all over the globe, the weakening U.S. dollar causing panic about an impending economic crisis), it seems inevitable that more and more countries will start taking such drastic security measures. Instead of mobilizing for a big conflict, countries seem to be shoring up their defenses and getting ready for the onset of a storm looming just over the horizon.

Sayonara Nihon said...

I think the best thing to do for those of us that can: Vote with our feet. Don't go back. Japan needs all the friends it can get, and treating tourists and business people who want to trade with them so badly is just plain dumb. My wife is Japanese. She'll still visit her family, but from now on our holidays will be in Singapore or Thailand.

To those of you who boast "I have nothing to hide": The Japanese Police have used the Gaijin Registry to do lazy policing before. They'll use the Fingerprint Database for the same. Want to frame a foreigner? Just grab something with their fingerprints and leave it at a crime scene.

BTW There have been some horrendous frame ups by Police. They're getting very nasty, and with Koizumi up there in 2003 hissing and spitting about foreigners, little wonder. It might be smart local politics, but if Japan wants to wall themselves off for another 200 years, to hell with them.

To those permanent residents who have to live there for family reasons, you have my profound sympathies. I hope Koizumi gets run over by his own black bus.