"Policy Measures Against Illegal Foreign Workers Campaign Month"

Didn’t know it until this morning, but we are in the middle of a very imporant month here, so if you are a member of a group who doesn’t get racially profiled much, for example a caucasian in the US, and you’re feeling left out now is a good time to come to Japan. Be sure to come to Tokyo, though. I have never been stopped by the police for anything anywhere in Japan, other than that one speeding ticket. Here is a great photo of a banner proclaiming the event in the JR Shinagawa Station. It is just one of the many bits of really useful information you can find at Arudou Debito’s site.

For all you teachers here in Japan who live in an area where you may be stopped, here is a reprint of some mail from Arudou on the issue. It has brief descriptions of the laws that govern stops and ID checks. Print it out and carry it with you. It has the Japanese, too, so you can just show it to the cop if you need to.


1) IF SOMEBODY ASKS FOR YOUR I.D. (namely your “Gaijin Card”):

meaning a hotelier, a video store, a JR staff member, etc., tell them

that only the police can demand it, under Foreign Registry Law

(Gaitouhou) Article 13 Clause 2:


“The Foreign Registry Law, Section 13, Clause 2. Foreigners, when

asked to show their Gaijin Cards by immigration investigation

officials (as outlined in separate laws), police, coast guard, or any

other national or local public official or group empowered by the

Ministry of Justice as part of the execution of their duties, must



外国人登録法 第十三条 第二項 外国人は、入国審査官、入国警備官(入管

法に定 める入国警備官をいう)、警察官、海上保安官その他法務省令で定め

る国又は地方公 共団体の職員がその職務の執行に当たり登録証明書の掲示を

求めた場合には、これを 掲示しなければならない。


What you choose to show as I.D. is your decision. But some places

demand you display your passport or Gaijin Card just to receive

service. That is against the law. Next:



ask why. Because, under Police Execution of Duties Law (Keisatsukan

Shokumu Shikkou Hou), Section 2:


“A police officer is able to ask for a person’s ID, but only if based

on a reasonable judgment of a situation where the policeman sees some

strange conduct and some crime is being committed, or else he has

enough reason to suspect (utagau ni tariru soutou na riyuu) that a

person will commit or has committed a crime, or else it has been

acknowledged that a particular person knows a crime will be

committed. In these cases a police officer may stop a person for



警察官職務執行法 第二条 警察官は、異常な挙動その他周囲の事情から合理

的に判 断して何らかの犯罪を犯し、若しくは犯そうとしていると疑うに足り

る相当な理由の ある者又は既に行われた犯罪について、若しくは犯罪が行わ

れようとしていることに ついて知っていると認められる者を停止させて質問



Meaning that there must be a *specific crime* or *suspicion of a

crime* before questioning can occur. Just being a foreigner is

insufficient probable cause, and without a good reason a policeman’s

arbitrary questions to a stranger are against the law.



such as, if you are riding a bicycle, stopping you on the suspicion

that you may have stolen it (moreover, a sapient cop will know the

Gaitouhou trumps the Shokumu Shikkou Hou here), then, as a foreign

resident you will ultimately have to show your I.D.

However, there is a check. You can also ask the cop to show his

I.D., under Gaitouhou Section 13, Clause 3:


“The Foreign Registry Law, Section 13, Clause 3. Public officials

governed by the previous clause, if asking for the Gaijin Card

outside of their workplace, must carry a certificate of their

identity and present it if asked.”


外国人登録法 第十三条 第三項 前項に規定する職員は、その事務所以外の

場所に おいて登録証明書の掲示を求める場合には、その身分を示す証票を携

帯し、請求があ るときは、これを掲示しなければならない。


Once displayed, I recommend you write down the cop’s I.D. details (he

will do the same for you–you might as well show him how it feels).

It will provide some deterrent against a cop overstepping his

authority. (If you really want to get serious about this, audio

record the conversation, and make sure the cop sees you are doing so.)

Note that legally, the cop only has to show I.D. if he stops you on

the street, or anywhere other than the Police Box. So, to avoid

showing I.D.:



they cannot do so against your will, unless they formally arrest you,

under the Shokumu Shikkou Hou Article 2, Clause 2 and 3:


Clause Two: “It is possible to ask a particular person to accompany

the [police] to a nearby police station, police branch [i.e. kouban],

or any police administration area for questioning if it is determined

that this place is unsuitable for questioning because it obstructs

traffic or is disadvantageous to the questionee.”

Clause Three: “Unless there is a regulation relating to criminal

action, officials may not confine, bring back to any police

administration area, or else coerce a person to reply to questions

against his will.”


警察官職務執行法 第二条 第二項 その場で前項の質問をすることが本人に

対して 不利であり、又は交通の妨害になると認められる場合においては、質

問するため、そ の者に附近の警察署、派出所又は駐在所に同行することを求


警察官職務執行法 第二条 第三項 前二項に規定する者は、刑事訴訟に関す

る法律 の規定によらない限り、身柄を拘束され、又はその意に反して警察

署、派出所若しく は駐在所に連行され、若しくは答弁を強要されることはな



which means that a cop has the right to ASK you to accompany him to

the Kouban, but you have the right to REFUSE, and he has no right to

restrict your movements without a formal charge or arrest.


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