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Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006

LIFELINES

Koban and law concerns


As it gets colder, it is a time to be careful in Japan, especially with colds and flu. In contrast to many other countries, homes in Japan are not heated or insulated as well as they should be and it is something to be careful about.

Koban

X has been living in Japan for a while now and has passed the "koban" many times. However, he's not exactly sure what its function is.

The koban were first established in 1874 and modeled after the British and other systems of local police boxes. The name koban comes from the word "kobansho," which means the place that the police are designated to be. In 1881, the Metropolitan Police Department began to establish koban in all cities and major neighborhoods and, in 1994, what had been a nickname for many years was formalized when the word koban began to be printed on the front of the police boxes. The koban, or the officers inside, can take care of most minor problems that residents have, though the officers spend much of their time giving directions.

Fingerprint law

Tom has been a permanent resident for years. He wonders if the new fingerprint law will force him to stand in a long line at Immigration Control with his half-Japanese children and Japanese wife.

Tom's daughter is in the 5th grade and has a learning disability. Tom wonders if every time he has to take her to the bathroom while waiting in line, he'll be deemed suspicious.

The new law has been passed, but it is still in the process of being implemented. No hard and fast regulations have been set down as yet, so there is still an opportunity to join in the debate on how best to implement the new law and to whom it should apply.

Those who have lived in Japan for a long time used to have their fingerprints taken, but that requirement was done away with a few years ago after extensive lobbying by the foreign population.

Of great concern to the Japan Bar Association is the fact that with digital pictures being taken of everybody entering Japan, there will exist the ability to track individuals 24 hours a day through a network of cameras in operation throughout Japan.

Of course, the correct thing to do is to implement the law for short-term visitors only, and to exempt all of those in Japan with permanent residency and visas of over one year.

The Ministry of Justice is soliciting opinions on the implementation of the law. You can contact them at (03) 3580-4111 or through www.moj.go.jp

From our readers

Bob writes: I recently found my rental unit "occupied" by the owner when I returned from work one evening.

I tried to unlock the door only to find that it was already unlocked. Of course, my first thought was, "Wow! I forgot to lock my door on leaving." Very unlike me.

I entered to find the lady standing in the middle of my LDK. She calmly remarked that I certainly keep my home clean. I countered, with, "Thanks, but sometimes vermin do manage to get in." She excused herself and never did it again.

Send your queries, questions, problems and posers to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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