Debito Arudou’s article, “IC you: bugging the alien” brings up the debate on privacy, immigration, Big Brother, the use and/or abuse of technology, and well, possibly for some, unfounded fears. Debito states “new gaijin id cards could allow police to remotely track foreigners.” I sort of sat on the fence on the new “gaijin (gaikokujin),” or foreigner, identification card debate but you know, the argument that cell phones can also be used for tracking is just as valid. I have carried various ID cards embedded with various chips that hold a variety of information.
I could just as easily track various people just by using their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Loopt and other social networks. it “seems” that some people online are not too caring about who tracks them (as long as it isn’t Big Brother, I guess). What stops the GOJ from requesting copies of the cell phone applications or cell phone registries of foreigners in Japan? This is used in criminal and national security investigations. Oh! And in divorce or cases were one of the spouses is cheating (or possibly cheating) on the other. What stops the GOJ for requesting the utility, bank or other records of foreigners in Japan. Would it be easier for the Immigration Bureau to “require” Ward Offices to submit a list of “registered” foreigners that could be used to track them (to a certain degree)? I wonder if the RFID “tracking” argument still valid?
In the past, I fought against fingerprinting when I received my first “civilian” identification card in Japan. It was an interesting battle that I will share when my book is released. There were/are legal ways around the system that I used to “blend” within Japan’s society. Of course, when I ventured to various places and was approached by the police during the “excuse me, show me you passport” or “let me practice my English on the foreigner” exercises, I had fun -when I had time on my hands – or ended up frustrated other times when I passed by the same koban (police box) on my way to/from work only to be stopped and questioned again. In the end, I ended up giving a group of cops in Osaka a case of American beer and a case of macadamia nuts that I brought back from Hawaii. This stopped the questioning/harassment and actually allowed me to learn more about the “system” I choose to live in and the “system” that the local guys on the beat were required to enforce.
With that said, please read the article and provide feedback. By the way, please stick to attacking the article and not the writer! Here is Debito’s argument: “On the proposed legislation to make things more “convenient” and “protected” for NJ residents: the New Zairyuu Kaado with biometric data stored on IC Chips. Convenient? Yeah, for the police, not NJ. I make the case that, if the legislation is passed, policing and punishments will only get stricter, and the chipped cards will act as “bugs” encouraging further police checkpoints and racial profiling.”
Here is Debito’s article: “When the Japanese government first issued alien registration cards (aka gaijin cards) in 1952, it had one basic aim in mind: to track “foreigners” (at that time, mostly Korean and Taiwanese stripped of Japanese colonial citizenship) who decided to stay in postwar Japan.
Gaijin cards put foreigners in their place: Registry is from age 16, so from a young age they were psychologically alienated from the rest of Japanese society. So what if they were born and acculturated here over many generations? Still foreigners, full stop.
Even today, when emigrant non-Japanese far outnumber the native-born, the government tends to see them all less as residents, more as something untrustworthy to police and control. Noncitizens are not properly listed on residency registries. Moreover, only foreigners must carry personal information (name and address, personal particulars, duration of visa status, photo, and — for a time — fingerprints) at all times. Gaijin cards must also be available for public inspection under threat of arrest, one year in jail and ¥200,000 in fines.
However, the Diet is considering a bill abolishing those gaijin cards.”
Illustration by Chris McKenzie