Since November 20, according to a new law foreigners immigrating to Japan have to be fingerprinted. In advance, this law met with stiff opposition of the Japanese blogosphere which has been consolidated in the project and blog “Re-entry Japan”.
The so called “Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act” also schedules to take a photo of each entering foreigner as well as a short interview. A treatment, which, as the authors of Re-enter Japan point out, is usually limited on criminals. Only children under the age of 16, diplomats and families of Korean and Chinese “special” residents which were deported to Japan in WW2 are left out.
Re-entry Japan criticizes the special treatments on foreigners as humiliating and fears for Japan’s image in the world. Especially, as the given reason of the rising threat by terrorists is used as an excuse – there have been acts of terrorism in Japan, but never involving anybody but Japanese nationals.
Though, a system like this new one is not new. Foreigners are forced to have a special passport, which, until 1999, when the lobby of Korean and Chinese residents brought down that law, included the holder’s fingerprint. The now to be taken fingerprints and photographs will be held in retention for 70 years, outliving the owners in nearly every case.
That is highly problematic, especially for two reasons:
First, the special treatment of foreigners and particularly the treatment with measures usually limited on criminals leads to a social stigma of being an immigrant. In Japan, this promotes already strong racist-nationalist tendencies in parts of the population – “Japanese only” is socially presentable, as the governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, repeatedly proofed by stating far-right comments.
Second, to register people in a central database is a highly risky venture – especially, if they belong to a minority.
The data’s security can never be guaranteed, as last month’s loss of some cd’s, containing personal informations of millions of British citizens, again showed. Also, highly specific, highly detailed databases encourage discrimination, for example scoring and data-mining empower a database’s owner to identify statistically potential dangerous people’s profiles, which then can be repressed. A grave weapon in the hand of nationalist or racist politicians.
Because of the known uselessness and the above mentioned dangers Re-entry Japan set up a petition to call for the retraction of this law. An important step, because so-called security measures like this are a worldwide threat to freedom.
What can I do?