Monday, November 28, 2005

 

Debito Arudou's tinfoil hat too tight again!

The Hokkaido Crusader had another article published in the Japan Times, which was well up to his usual standard. Let's have a look at what he says:

People are still reeling from September's LDP landslide election, realizing that Koizumi can essentially legislate whatever he wants. For foreigners, that brings some bad news.

Are they? What people? Anyway, Koizumi can't, as things still have to get past the upper house, where he needs the help of New Komeito to pass anything, and New Komeito are one of the most "foreigner-friendly" parties.

Koizumi's previous Cabinet bore no fewer than three ministers who mentioned, in their introductory speeches, the alleged foreign crime wave (even though the media, including this column on Oct. 7, 2003, has long debunked this).

There is some truth in the "foreign crime wave", if you look in detail.

Their plan: Issue "IC Cards," or credit card-sized identification cards, containing computer chips to track people.

IC cards cannot really be used to track people, especially people who don't want to be tracked.

One form of IC card (the "shutsu nyuu koku" card) will be issued to anyone (Japanese or not) crossing the Japanese border, upon request and at their expense.

At whose request? That sentence reads as if it is at the expense of the traveller! Who would want to pay for that?

The other, the "zairyuu card," is obligatory and replaces the Gaijin Card. All resident aliens (except the generational "Zainichi" ethnic "foreigners," who remain unchipped) must still carry it 24/7 or face arrest.

Just the same as the existing gaijin card. Oh, and the comma there should be outside the quote, as it's not quoted speech.

This "Gaijin Chip" will contain data such as: "name, nationality, birthday, passport information, visa status, address, workplace, educational institution if student etc."

Just the same as the existing gaijin card.

But just in case, fingerprinting will be reinstated to imprint foreigners both entering and leaving the country.

Like in the USA.

They mention benefits to both foreigners and society by tracking alien visits to, quote, "museums, consultative government bodies, national art museums . . ."

I don't know where this quote comes from, and is he trying to get a cheap laugh with the word "museums" twice?

It still amounts to central control of untrustworthy elements, and treating foreigners like criminal suspects.

How? The card seems to be voluntary for tourists as suggested above. Also, demographic information about tourists (I wonder if there is a discount scheme involved?) is invaluable.

All data will be stored for a vague amount of time (perhaps indefinitely) in a bureau called (in katakana) the "Intelligence Center."

Indefinitely isn't a vague amount of time - perhaps it's just that the length of data retention hasn't been decided yet?

Orwellian overtones aside, consider the policy in practice: Workplaces, schools, hotels, etc. will be legally required to report any changes in foreigner employment, domicile, visa, etc., through swipes of IC Cards at strategically-positioned machines.

That is very similar to the current situation. Who is going to be issued with the card readers though? The infrastructure will not be cheap, so I wonder if they really will be placed in locations outwith government or police offices.

This means foreigners will now find it difficult to, say, make an anonymous inquiry at a ward office without having their data swiped.

Are public phones also going to need the card to work?

The proposal specifically considers swiping stations for apartments, weekly mansions, and other categories of lodgings, essentially expanding Japanese prison conditions nationwide.

Spoken like someone who has never been in prison!

There is a pattern here. We already know the Foreign Registry Law was set up in 1947 specifically to track the alien in our midst.

Well, that's a surprise! That's like tut-tutting about how Building Codes were set up specifically to track how houses were being constructed.

However, as this column discussed (Oct. 18), it is being applied to all foreigners. This is not only against the law, but also a breach of trust.

No it's not. I and a number of other foreign residents have not been asked when we have stayed at hotels.

My point is that no matter how sweet the LDP may make its Gaijin Chip proposal sound, there is no telling what will happen when bureaucrats get their hands on it.

Ahh, the slippery slope argument, the favourite of the tinfoil hat crowd!

Their enforcement has been most unscrupulous this year, and given the urgency of the policy putsch (and the vulnerability of foreigners), I foresee great potential for further enforcement abuse.

Now, the favourite word of Mr Arudou's, putsch! It does mean "thrust" in the original German, but he is writing in English, so the English meaning must be used, namely coup d'état.

Now, let's slide down the slippery slope...

For example, look what happened to Japan's lifetime employment system, where full-time work (especially in academia) meant lifetime work. That was replaced, after a century of guinea-pigging the foreigners, with contract employment, in the form of laws like 1997's "Sentaku Ninkisei Hou."

Ignoring his verbification of an undenounable word, I wonder if he has any actual evidence of this bizarre claim, other than his own fevered imagination?

According to the National Union of General Workers, contract labor now makes up [...] 90 percent of foreign labor in the Japanese workforce.

Considering that over 75% (I can't find a reference to the exact figure) of foreigners don't stay longer than three years, I don't really see that as a surprising figure.

Foreign residents cannot vote and thus mean little to politicians.

Read up about New Komeito.


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