Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The history of fingerprinting legal residents in Japan

Just to refresh the memory of some who do not know that Japan used to routinely force all non-citizen residents to give their fingerprints every 3 years (In case them thar dastardly foreigners changed their fingers in order to do evil.) Kathleen Morikawa who was one of the original fingerprint refusers has written an article in the Japan Times on the history of this issue. It will not convince the naive who swallow anything as long as the government can say it's for security, nor will it convince the hopeless useful idiot class. It is a good, basic review of the issue. There was more to it than this, especially the forced fingerprinting of Korean residents in Japan. I have to admire the balls that it took to refuse (or ovaries). I wonder if push comes to shove, how many of us would do so again? And if we did, would it have any effect with the US actually pushing this sort of nonsense thereby making it easier for countries whose xenophobic leaders have no problem with discrimination to do so.

....Well, it was a long, hard slog but we finally got fingerprinting abolished. I am now of the "obasan" generation, and what do you know? My prints are in demand once again and down in Kanto the old, yellow index-finger balloon of the 1980s protests has been resurrected.

One would have to be utterly devoid of a sense of humor not to find something ridiculously ironic about all this. As an American, it is all the more ironic as the recent actions of my own government have created the atmosphere that has allowed Japan to so easily reintroduce mandatory fingerprinting.

What can we learn from the experiences of the past 25 years, aside from the fact that without constant vigilance the rights we fight so hard to win can be very easily lost? Full article.

But every country does it or might maybe do it. It's for security. It's ok.

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