Foreigners in Japan on long-term visas (i.e., not tourists) already have to carry "Alien Registration Cards" with them at all times. And those who overstay their visas already face harsh treatment, including detainment or deportation.
So this shouldn't particularly bother me, but somehow, it does. The Asahi Shimbun reports:
To clamp down on illegal foreigners, a ruling party subcommission on Wednesday recommended that alien registration cards contain integrated circuit (IC) chips that can store personal information.The Japan Times adds some more information on the new ID chips:
The plan is intended to enable police and immigration authorities to jointly block illegal entry and more effectively track down those whose visas have expired. The IC chips will also help to prevent forgeries.
The information of the cardholder, including name, nationality, address and visa status, will be controlled at the Intelligence Center, which the government plans to establish.
The LDP and the government claim the new policy is aimed at preventing terrorism and crime.And then there's this, from Kyodo News:
But the new system, which is intended to replace the Certificate of Alien Registration, or "gaijin card," foreigners are currently required to carry, is likely to raise concerns about information sharing between immigration and police authorities.
...As usual, the holder will be required to report any change of address. But they will also be required to obtain permission from the government to change jobs.
Japan plans to expand fingerprinting requirements for foreigners not only upon entry into the country but upon departure as well, as part of crime prevention measures, ruling party lawmakers said Wednesday. The government and the Liberal Democratic Party reached the agreement at a session of the party's panel on foreigners staying illegally in Japan.I wonder how many foreign criminal suspects try to flee Japan under a fake name each year. Surely it can't be more than a few. Yet these new rules will affect many thousands of foreigners. At the same time, they'll do nothing to help catch Japanese criminals, who are responsible for the vast majority of crime in Japan. As Asia Times Online reported last November:
Lawmakers said those with special permanent residency, including Korean residents in Japan, will be exempt from the measure. The latest move is aimed at preventing foreigners who are suspects in criminal cases in Japan from fleeing to a third country under an assumed identity, the lawmakers said.
Over the past two decades, crimes committed by foreigners have never exceeded about 4% of all crime in Japan, and typically the yearly average has been between 2% and 3%. Foreigners currently make up just over 1% of Japan's total population, so they are only slightly over-represented in the figures. Despite this, the police, lawmakers and the media have focused on foreign crime as if it were one of the most serious issues facing Japan. For example, five of the 16 annual Police White Paper policy reports published between 1987 and 2003 took crimes committed by foreigners as their main theme.And actually, the claim that foreigners are overrepresented in the crime statistics is misleading. Roughly one-third of foreigner "crimes" are simple visa violations a relatively low-key offense that Japanese, by definition, cannot commit.
I still think Japan's a great place to live, but I'm just not feeling a whole lot of that famous Japanese hospitality right now.