Fingerprints for all foreign visitors to Japan

Follow the lead of the US, Japan has also implemented a system of taking fingerprints for all foreign visitors as they enter the country. The new law will come into effect November 2007.

The ironic thing with all this is that Japan tried to implement a system where all Japanese citizens would be fingerprinted and the data would be encoded into IC for everybody to carry. However Japanese human rights groups obliterated the plan citing the blatant invaision of privacy and human rights. However this now appears to be an acceptable thing to do to incoming foreign visitors.

The part that has me a bit up in arms about all this is the invaision of privacy and how the “foreign visitors” are considered de-facto suspects in any crime that should arise. Additionally, there is always the possibility of there being a mistake and being wrongly detained. Worldwide there have been many cases where innocent people have been mistakenly put on crime-watch lists. Fingerprints are even fakeable (just do a quick search on Google). Finally, this kind of measure only adds to the stigma that somehow non-Japanese people have a higher propensity for commiting crimes. The prejustice that foreigners are the default suspects seems to be perpetuated by this new law.

Additionally there are 2 giant holes in putting this fingerpinting scheme in the “fighting terror”. Firstly, just about every, if not every, major terrorist attack in Japan has been commited by Japanese nationals (such as the Tokyo subway sarin attack) and secondly let’s not forget that all of the hijackers of the 9/11 attacks were all in the United States legally and not on any criminal-watch lists.

Link to official video from the immigration authorities (The video is in English)

The video is quite poorly done. But it emphasizes that it is for “a safe visit” for those entering Japan meaning a safe Japan is safer for her visitors as well. However, if this were really the motive of the japanese government, wouldn’t they fingerprint everyone coming into the country, including returning Japanese nationals? Why is the rule not the same for everybody? Its not that I don’t necessarily mind having my photo and fingerprints taken, its the obvious double-standard and discriminatory nature that makes this law just plain wrong.

One thought on “Fingerprints for all foreign visitors to Japan”

  1. Yeah this video completely cracked me up. I agree with you that it wouldn't bother me if they made Japanese nationals undergo fingerprinting as well. Especially since all terrorist activities on Japanese soil have historically never been the work of foreigners.

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