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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 November 21 - 27  > Fingerprinting of foreign visitors infringes on human rights
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2007 November 21 - 27 [CIVIL RIGHTS]

Fingerprinting of foreign visitors infringes on human rights

November 21, 2007
Japan on November 20 began fingerprinting and photographing foreign visitors arriving in Japan ostensibly to prevent terrorists from entering the country under the revised Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law.

This measure seriously infringes on human rights and may adversely affect international relations. It is only the United States that imposes a similar measure in the world.

The immigration authorities are collecting such data to compare with names of blacklisted foreigners such as internationally wanted criminals and those who have been deported from Japan for illegal stays or other reasons. Not only blacklisted people but those who refuse to be fingerprinted or photographed will be refused entry.

Concerns are voiced over the reliability of the blacklist system as well as the arbitrary judgment of the authorities.

Furthermore, the data will be retained and can be used for police investigations or other unspecified purposes.

“Special permanent residents in Japan,” including Koreans, as well as foreign diplomats are exempt. However, ordinary permanent residents such as those who are married to Japanese are subject to the intrusive procedure.

The revised law was enacted in May 2006 with the support of the Liberal Democratic and Komei parties.

The Japanese Communist Party voted against the bill. In a House of Councilors Judicial Affairs Committee meeting, JCP representative Nihi Sohei criticized the bill stating, “Requiring foreigners to be fingerprinted will seriously infringe on their right to privacy and contravene the Constitution as well as the International Covenant on Human Rights. Even the U.S. exempts those who have status are equivalent to those with permanent resident status in Japan from the requirement.”
- Akahata, November 21, 2007
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