Immigration reforms spell Big Brother, JFBA warns

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations and nonprofit organizations voiced concern Wednesday that bills to revise immigration laws will violate the human rights of foreign residents.

The bills were submitted to the Diet earlier this month and will be deliberated on soon.

Critics of the bills also said punishments for violators of the revised laws, including a fine of up to ¥200,000 for those not carrying the new “zairyu” (residence) card that will replace the current alien registration cards, are too harsh.

The bills propose consolidating the management of foreign residents’ data under the Justice Ministry, replacing the current system in which local governments take charge of foreign resident registration, while the ministry handles immigration control.

“Overall, the revision greatly lacks consideration of foreigners’ privacy. The level of consideration is so much lower than that for Japanese,” Mitsuru Namba, a lawyer and member of the JFBA’s human rights protection committee, told reporters in Tokyo.

Social Democratic Party chief Mizuho Fukushima, who was at the briefing, is ready to oppose the government in the House of Councilors. “The bills suggest monitoring of foreigners will be strengthened. Management of information will lead to surveillance of foreigners,” she said.

Namba and Nobuyuki Sato of the Research-Action Institute for the Koreans in Japan urged lawmakers to amend the bills so the state can’t use the zairyu card code number as a “master key” to track every detail of foreigners’ lives.

“Such a thing would be unacceptable to Japanese, and (the government) must explain why it is necessary for foreigners,” Sato said.