Alea Iacta Est

(Click the picture or here to view video)

It’s easy to become frustrated to the point of homicidal when both halves of the world try to make your life as difficult as possible. I departed Tennessee at 6:30 AM Sunday morning. I stayed on the ground in Chicago for five hours, before hearing the announcement that the 12:50 flight to Tokyo had been overbooked, and volunteers were needed to give up their seats in exchanges for $800 flight vouchers, meal tickets, and hotel rooms… an opportunity I had to pass up, as I had a JAL connecting flight. Strike one.

The plane touched down at precisely 4:05 PM, five minutes behind schedule. This was particularly disasterous to me, as my flight to Kagoshima departed at 6:55 PM from Haneda; anyone who’s ever tried to make the journey from Narita to Haneda within a limited timeframe knows exactly what I’m talking about: it’s too risky to take the shuttle bus during peak hours, and the trains take a minimum of 95 minutes. Strike two.

I’m racing through the terminal towards immigration, and as I round the corner, I know I’m doomed: no fewer than sixty people are between me and Japanese soil. Even with my visa, passport, gaijin card, and customs form in hand and ready to use, I’m no match for bureaucracy. Now here’s the interesting part; to add insult to injury, I make out a familiar face on the television screens perched over the front of the line… the face at the top of this post, in fact. The condescending tone is barely audible, but the images are unmistakable, the warning to gaikokujin evident even to first timers: prior to November 2007, your fingerprints will be taken at the border. Strike three.

And my last shred of restraint is outta here. Thank god I didn’t bring any remote controlled cars, or I would have jumped the gun and thrown open the emergency exit in the middle of Evan Almighty. A watery grave is better than becoming complacent enough to find humor in that movie.

Fingerprinting foreigners will begin on November 20th

“The government will approve a draft ordinance stipulating that a mandatory fingerprinting and photographing of visitors aged 16 or older will enter into force on Nov 20, officials said Thursday. The revised Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law incorporating such a measure was enacted in May last year in a bid to block the entry into Japan of individuals designated as terrorists by the justice minister.

Under the law, scanned fingerprints and other biometric data will be stored in a computer to be checked against those of past deportees. The system can also be accessed by investigative authorities, they said. The measure excludes ethnic Koreans and other permanent residents with special status, those under 16, those visiting Japan for diplomatic or official purposes, and those invited by the state.”

Permanent residents and Zainichi will be fingerprinted

“…the new Immigration procedures, according to the Japanese Government, apply to (English original):
1. Persons under the age of 16
2. Special status permanent residents
3. Those performing actions which would be performed [sic] by those with a status of residence, “diplomat” or “official government business”
“Special status permanent residents” (tokubetsu eijuusha) mean the Zainichi generational “foreigners”. This means regular-status permanent-resident immigrants (ippan eijuusha) or “long-term foreign residents” (teijuusha) are NOT exempt. They will be fingerprinted.
This means you if you’re not a citizen, a Zainichi, or naturalized. Every time you enter the country. Don’t comply, you don’t get in. Be advised.”

What you can do

Talk to me. I want to hear from people who will be crossing immigration on November 20th or 21st. Email me or post a comment.

In the interim, I still want to get people started on a letter of protest. Debito has posted some good sample letters to send to those in authority beforehand, but I’m still waiting on people with some eloquent Japanese skills to submit something that can be presented to immigration officials.

There will be an Amnesty International Symposium in Tokyo on October 27th (source) to discuss this issue.

Date: Saturday, October 27th, 2007
Time: 14:00 – 17:00
Location: 9th Floor, KOREAN YMCA (YMCA Asia Youth Center) 2-5-5 Sarugaku-cho, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo
Admission: 1000円
Simultaneous translation service available (Japanese-English)

がんばって. できましょう.