JAPAN’S ‘PATRIOT” ACT - IMMIGRATION CRACKDOWN
KEYWORDS: IMMIGRATION, VISAS, CHINESE
Japan has now initiated new legislation which is indeed a major crackdown
on foreigners illegally in Japan. I would even call it Japan’s Patriot Act,
more to defer American criticism as the American Patriot Act has also made
it more difficult for many foreigners. As this new legislation is squarely
aimed primarily at the Chinese, Europeans should also give pause for thought,
as their hands are hardly clean in this area. Europeans while characteristically
downplaying Japan’s importance in the world (and certainly trumpeting their
own) have been fawning all over China in the past two years in their perceived
geopolitical rivalry with the USA. China, an economy still less than a third
the size of Japan and 1/9th of the US has suddenly arisen as “the” rival
power. Thus the Europeans have decided to approve military technology transfers
to China. While a slap at the US, it is a dangerous stab in the back to the
Japanese. Perhaps the Europeans are peeved that the Japanese have failed
to see the error of their ways in strongly maintaining their alliance with
the USA, and not following the diktats of The Empire, err EU. But what can
Japan do. If confronted with danger from China or North Korea, what kind
of help can Japan expect from the Europeans. This European geopolitical move
has shoved Japan even more into America’s lap.
So while ignoring Japan’s environment credentials (Kyoto protocol anyone?)
and Japan’s confirmed 60 year history as a true democracy and even being
the world’s second largest donor to poor nations, so dear to the heart of
The Empire, err EU, the Europeans have chosen to attempt to influence the
global balance of power by throwing their lot with that great “force” for
liberty and democracy, the People’s Republic of China, the permanent member
of the UN Security Council that openly has announced it will protect such
human rights violators as the Sudan and Iran and is building naval bases
in Myanmar in its rivalry with India (a democracy), and its refusal to push
on North Korea, which starves its own people to finance weapons development.
So no, lets NOT hear any human rights complaints about this new Japanese
law. European’s belief in human rights is skin deep when it comes to geopolitics.
The lust for geopolitical power over-rules such minor interests.
In the past year Japan has been openly challenged by Chinese military craft,
even nuclear submarines deep within its territorial waters. Whether on their
own self-confidence or arragance egged on by Europeans, China is clearly
being aggressive with Japan. At the same time there is North Korea which
a few years ago fired a missile directly over Japan, an amazingly clear threat
to Japan. Now it is openly developing nuclear weapons. Again, after several
years of “talks” under the aegis of China, have proved utterly useless. Japan
is probably the most threatened major nation in the world.
So Japan passed new immigration legislation that was a major crackdown on
foreigners illegally in Japan. There were many complaints from foreigners.
Yet it appears that the people who were hit hard were indeed those who violated
Japanese laws. The Japanese applied the letter of law. It was not a case
of people unjustifiably being punished for doing something on some unclear
basis, for some unclear political motive, like freely expressing their opinions
or religion, as in, well, CHINA. Those freedoms are still alive and well
What Japan did was to increase the fine on those foreigners illegally in
Japan from 300,000 yen to 3 million yen. Such violating foreigners also had
the period during which they were banned from returning to Japan doubled
from five years to ten years. In certain limited cases, foreigners with no
previous record of violations may be able to return within one year. Foreigners
who engage in activities other than that approved on their visa, can be fined
2 million yen, a 1000% increase. A new system has been introduced whereby
foreigners residents could have their residency rescinded if they obtained
landing permits illegally. The Justice Ministry created a special 200 man
force to hunt down illegal foreigners. A website was established by the Ministry
of Justice in Japanese language where people could report “suspicious foreigners.”
It was reportedly getting hundreds of complaints per month. Immigration authorities
have also created a manual for going after suspicious foreigners. Guidelines
for tracking such foreigners are included and copies of the manual are being
distributed at various entry points. Immigration authorities are also looking
at introducing pre-clearance examinations of Asian tourists in their home
countries before they arrived in Japan. This was to cut down on illegal foreigners
In December, 2004 the government announced plans to fingerprint and photograph
all foreigners entering Japan. Airlines and shipping companies will have
to provide passenger lists before they enter Japan and a database of foreigners
with criminal records in Japan will be made. It will be possible to immediately
deport any suspected terrorists.
Much was made in the media about some, particularly students, being banned
for five years (now ten!) for overstaying their visas for even one day. Still,
they violated the law and the Japanese government was well within its rights.
For tourist visas for Chinese, there has actually been an easing expected
to bring in more tourists. Japan has not been nearly as welcoming for the
burgeoning Chinese tourist market. It does not grant tourist visas to individual
Chinese unless they have relatives in Japan. Until recently it also only
permitted group tours from such wealthier regions in China as Shanghai, Beijing
and Shangdong. This has now been expanded to residents of Liaoning, Shandong,
Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Tianjin, nearly tripling the population areas eligible.
Chinese applicants for tourist visas must make a security deposit of 500,000
yen. Some claim that a travel agency arranging such tours from China can
lose its license in Japan if even one Chinese tourist fails to return. In
2004, more than 600,000 tourists are expected from China. In 2002 on a world
wide basis, more than 20 million Chinese took international trips. In 2003
thirteen million Japanese went abroad.
One poll found that over 70% of Chinese applying for student visas at Japanese
language schools were rejected by Japanese immigration officials compared
to only 12% from other countries being rejected. Immigration authorities
noted that of 9,779 foreign students who overstayed in Japan, 7,920 were
Chinese. Japanese police authorities claimed that of foreigners committing
heinous crimes, 65% were Chinese.
Despite this crackdown on foreigners illegally in Japan, the government is
also taking steps to make it easier for refugees. Unfortunately, Japan has
had a less than sterling record on refugees. One often hears the argument
about Japan being a small crowded country, but even with that argument, Japan’s
performance has been miserly. From 1982 to 2003 only 3,118 foreigners applied
for refugee status and Japan granted it to only 315.
Under the new legislation the requirement that foreigners seeking refugee
status must do so within 60 days of their arrival has been dropped.
As of the end of 2003 foreigners reached a record-breaking 1.5% of the Japanese
population, up 45% in the past decade, compared to a 2.1% increase in the
general population. Marriages to foreigners from 1988 to 2001 doubled from
2.4% of total marriages to 5%. Japanese men marrying foreign women accounted
for 80% of such marriages, and 90% of those marriages involved marriages
to Asians. On the other hand, 18% of the marriages by Japanese women involved
marriages with American men.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved Attorney Roderick H.