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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

LIFELINES

Fingerprint law furor revisited


Thomas in Tokyo wrote to Lifelines in response to my Jan. 9 answer to an inquiry from reader Nick on the new law requiring the photographing and fingerprinting of foreigners on their entry into this country. I wrote that Japan Helpline is coordinating a response to the measure.

"Reader Nick asks about any organizations that are lobbying against the new law.

"If Nick is not Japanese, then he really has NO business lobbying against this law. Japan is not his country; he is a guest. As such, it is highly presumptuous of him to be telling Japanese how to run their country.

"Such lobbying only serves to besmirch the name of foreigners who graciously accept the opportunity (not right) to live in Japan and conduct themselves accordingly -- not to mention invite a backlash. Nick and his ilk have the option of leaving, which if they really are against the fingerprinting law, they should exercise.

"Advice to Japan Helpline: Stay out of national security issues, especially when it is at the behest of non-nationals."

Thank you for your note, Thomas.

There are two issues here. First is the law itself. The law was hastily passed and not well thought through. It exempts so called "Special Residents" -- these are the largest group of non-Japanese in Japan, mostly North and South Korean or Taiwanese residents who are from families that came from Japan's former colonies.

Second, it applies to all other non-Japanese entering Japan and does not make any allowance for long-term and permanent residents.

Finally, it is not reciprocal -- no other country applies a fingerprint-and-photograph regime on permanent residents.

Simply put, by exempting many foreign residents it does not meet any security requirements, by treating first-time visitors the same as permanent residents there is no logic to it, and it puts Japanese living overseas at risk of being treated the same way.

Finally, I must comment on your feeling that non-Japanese should somehow behave like second-class members of Japanese society.

As one born and raised in Japan, I consider this my country, just like any Japanese.

Doing the math

JS is in need of the services of an accountant with English ability.

"I was living in Japan, but moved to Australia in July 2006. When I left, I paid my 2006 national taxes, assuming I would not be back for a few years. However, I moved back in December 2006. So, I have to file an amended return for 2006. Can you recommend an English-speaking accountant?"

The best we can recommend is Mr. Tohru Takihi of the Takihi Office. His number is (03) 3351-8580 or online at www.takihi-office.jp.

He has been doing CPA work for the international community for over 30 years. He can do all your consultation and reports in English and Japanese.

You can also contact Mr. Tim Langley, the first ever non-Japanese secretary to a Diet member, who runs a consultancy company for business in Japan.

You can reach him at Tim Langley Associates on (080) 5046-6779 or langleytimothy@yahoo.com.

Ken Joseph Jr. directs the Japan Helpline at www.jhelp.com or on (0570) 000-911. Send questions to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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