FROM DEBITO ARUDOU:
SUMMARY: With Koizumi’s new cabinet push to make Japan “the world’s safest
country again”, dovetailing with “halving the number of illegal foreigners”
within an impending time frame
Immigration has decided to deputize the whole country, creating a website
where you can report the whereabouts of illegals to the authorities.
Despite the fact that even Immigration admits the number of “illegal
overstays” has dropped every year without fail since 1993
(a friend of mine even received information on the site on his cellphone!)
to deputize the whole nation. But there is a problem–not only in that the
method is insensitive and the definitions of “criminal” are ill-defined–but
also the data collection methods are faulty and corruptable. Anyone can
submit anonymously any information on whomever they like for any reason they
like. There is no accountability, so the potential for abuse is so clear
that Amnesty International has already publicly denounced it. So let me do
This post is structured thus:
JAPAN TIMES ARTICLES ON THE SNITCH SITE
WHAT’S ON THE SNITCH SITE?
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT? SNITCH ON YOURSELF
Web site lets locals rat on foreigners
By Hiroshi Matsubara, Staff writer
The Japan Times: Feb. 20, 2004
The Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau has introduced a section on its
Web site that allows people to submit information on the identity, address
or workplace of undocumented foreigners in a bid to track them down.
Since Monday, visitors to the bureau’s home page have been able to access
the form, which, once submitted, is sent directly to regional immigration
bureaus covering the residence or place of employment of suspected illegal
residents, according to a ministry spokesman.
Some regional bureaus have already received information gathered via the Web
site regarding undocumented foreigners, he said.
The spokesman said the scheme is in line with the second Basic Plan for
Immigration Control, which took effect in 2000 and called for a new
information system to prevent violations of the Immigration Control Act by
utilizing the Internet.
The system was introduced as part of the bureau’s campaign to halve the
number of illegal foreign residents within five years, he said, adding that
it also reflects requests from some informants who previously contacted the
immigration authorities via phone or mail.
On the form, informants can identify by name, nationality or other
information on people suspected of being illegal residents, assuming that
information can be obtained.
The informant must also select a primary motive for reporting the presence
of foreigners, with the options including anxiety or concern at the presence
of foreigners, and how they learned about their presence.
It also asks informants to report detailed information on a suspect’s job
and residence, including their company’s name, location and phone number.
The hours of operation of the company can also be included, along with the
times the suspect is most often at home.
And while the form does ask the informant to include their name, address,
phone number and e-mail address, these boxes can be left blank, except for
the sections on their ages and the prefectures in which they live.
The ministry spokesman said the new system makes it easier for people to
promptly report information on undocumented foreigners, although the
ministry has no intention of encouraging more people to report on foreign
residents or to cause alarm about the presence of foreigners.
Service to rat online on illegal aliens a racist ploy: Amnesty
The Japan Times: Feb. 22, 2004
Amnesty International Japan on Friday called on the Justice Ministry’s
Immigration Bureau to stop its recently launched service to field e-mail
tips on suspected illegal aliens, saying it promotes racism.
The human rights watchdog said in a statement that the Immigration Bureau is
“encouraging reports without any concrete proof.”
Immigration officials responded by claiming the service for informants is
“simply part of measures to computerize” such information. They added that
receiving tips does not mean authorities will immediately move to apprehend
suspected illegal residents.
On Monday, the Immigration Bureau introduced a section on its Web site that
allows people to send tips on the identity, address or workplace of
On Monday and Tuesday alone, the bureau received tips on about 100 people
through the new service. It also asks informants to indicate why they are
reporting someone and offers preset options.
Amnesty said the preset options, such as “causing anxiety” or “causing a
nuisance to the neighborhood,” are unrelated to the offense of staying in
Japan illegally and will “fan aversion and anxiety” toward non-Japanese.
Once a report is submitted to the Web site, it is automatically sent to
regional immigration bureaus.
Japanese law enforcement authorities are cracking down on foreigners who
overstay their visas. In particular, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government wants
to halve the number of its illegal aliens in the next five years.
For 2002, the bureau said it received tips on 75,000 people by phone or
mail, as well as e-mail forwarded to the ministry.
WHAT’S ON THE SNITCH SITE?
Even these newspaper articles don’t capture the essence fully. Go to
Look for “jouhou uketsuke” at the bottom.
You will have to specify what type of foreigner(s) you will be reporting on
the submission form before the preset options open themselves up.
Preset reasons for reporting a foreigner are:
1) “I can’t let violators get away with it” (ihansha ga yurusenai)
2) Neighborhood disturbances (kinjo meiwaku)
3) Repugnance and anxiety (ken’o fuan)
4) “I am an interested party” (rigai kankei)
5) Police haven’t dealt with it (keisatsu futaiou)
6) I have suffered damages (higai o uketa)
7) “Sympathy or compassion” (doujou)
8) I can’t let the employer or business get away with it.
(koyou nushi (kigyou) ga yurusenai)
9) I can’t let a job broker get away with it.
(buro-ka- ga yurusenai)
10) I was fired because of a violator.
(ihansha no tame ni kaikou sareta)
11) I was not able to get employment because of a violator.
(ihansha no tame ni kyuushoku sarenakatta)
12) Something else (sono ta)
13) Unclear (fumei)
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to think up clear avenues for abuse here.
Grounds can be, “I don’t like the look of the guy” (item 3) or even “I feel
sorry for the guy” (item 7), “The queues at the unemployment office are too
long” (item 11), to absolutely nothing at all (item 13).
And the site does not require any responsibility from the submitter. They
are not even required to give a real name (site says a pseudonym is fine), a
real address (just Tokyo is fine), or a certifiable email address. Which
means anyone can rat on anyone with impunity.
Also, as my friend Kirk also pointed out, there is no clear definition of
terms, or guidelines for submission:
“It is as though people are being deputized with only the vaguest notion of
what to look for or what to report. The bad foreigners (the ones you are
supposed to report) are referred to as “ihansha” (violators) but the only
indication of what might constitute a violation are the words “fuho
taizaisha” (illegal alien). Novices should as least have some brief
explantion about what to report and especially what NOT to report if this is
to be interpreted as anything other than foreigner bashing and general
snitching that can be practiced against foreigners but not against Japanese.
“Look at the use of the word ‘violator’. When you choose a reason to report
someone, you choose between various reasons. One is “can’t forigve
violator[s]” as opposed to “can’t forgive employers[s]” or “can’t forgive
middlemen.” “Violator” refers to foreigners. Yet the employers and
middlemen are also violating the law. Why is “violator” used to refer to
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT? SNITCH ON YOURSELF
This data is too easily corruptable. So what to do about it? I say let’s
I assume most people who are receiving my mails are legal. So, how about
going to the site and ratting on yourself? See what happens. When you
squeal, go to an internet cafe, remain anonymous (the site says you can),
use a ficticious email address (just type in a hotmail account–no need to
actually sign up), and an incomplete address (say, “Tokyo”–which their site
says is okay).
If the police drop by, find out you’re a false alarm, and ask about who
might have ratted on you, just say that you don’t know–that somebody out
there wants to harass you or something.
Then again, if you don’t want to be hassled by Immigration, you are welcome
to rat on me–a citizen. Put my name Arudou Debito in katakana, or use my
old name Debitto Arudouinkuru, and put down Hokkaido Jouhou Daigaku for a
contact address. Let’s see if their systems are sophisticated enough to
weed out a citizen before the contact stage.
The point is by filling the police’s inboxes with false leads, you show them
how corruptable their submission requirements are. This ill-considered
method of deputizing the country through an irresponsible submission system
deserves more than a chiding. It deserves civil disobedience from the
potential targets. In this case, us filling their inboxes with bogus data.
Doing so will also test the level of sophistication of their systems.
Probably not very, based upon how unsophisticated the submission procedures
are. Which means probably no harm will come to us as snitch or victim (if
you’re worried, again, snitch at an internet cafe).
By showing the potential abuse through example, Immigration will be forced
to think twice next time and fix things even faster this time. They deserve
no less for wasting resources in this way–potentially at the expense of
innocents in our position.
The goal is to let the authorities know that we will not be taking this sort
of treatment lying down. It’s about time they learned that we as immigrant
can be a political force, making a stink whenever there is potential for
abuse of people’s rights. But we will never be taken seriously if we let
stupidities like this slide.
Feel free to buy this logic or don’t. But I look forward to being a test
case for police computers. Again, rat on me. If I get no harassment, good.
If I do, it will show us–and hopefully them–the flaws in their system.
There is value in that, I believe.
As friend Chris put most lightly this morning when hearing about this
Denounce your (gaijin) self to the cops! (or your gaijin spouse, friend, or
TV show host).
Feeling a bit guilty because you pleasured yourself last night?
Pissed at your husband because he made some lame excuse not to wash the
Heard a gaijin on TV using poor pronunciation?
A remedy is at hand! And we don’t mean another evening’s
self-entertainment! Use the police “Denounce a gaijin web site” and have
RETRIBUTION beat a path to your (or his or her) sorry gaijin door! Yes, the
immigration police will investigate all complaints, no matter how bogus!
They have nothing better to do than create web sites!
Don’t delay! Denounce yourself today! Or, if you are feeling lonely even
though you are legal, post your name as a volunteer to be denounced! You
have wanted to piss off the authorities for ages, for all those times you
got stopped riding your wife’s bike, right? This is your BIG CHANCE!
An example of this genre of social disobedience:
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