Japan: Spying on those out in the cold

The Immigration Ministry of the Justice Bureau has, according to newspaper reports appearing on February 04, set up a home page on its website inviting the public to provide information on illegal foreigners staying in the country, complete with a form on which details can be filled out, and distinct addresses for different regions. ?What kind of militaristic spying is the government engaging in?? Fr Ando Isamu SJ asks indignantly, ?Why are the poorest foreigners in the country thus targeted?? Prime Minister Koizumi addressed the Diet in September 2003 on the need to give priority to security and to ?crimes committed by foreigners.? The truth, as was established in a survey done by the Solidarity with Immigrants Japan network, is that immigrants without documents account for a miniscule 0.42 per cent of crime. The worst sufferers of this new policy are poor South Asian and Latin American immigrants, people on the move because they cannot make both ends meet at home, people who have made their own contribution to the economy and culture of Japan. This spying process officially encouraged by the government ?will erode the roots of our compassion,? according to Franciscan Friar Jon Toda OFM; worse, it involves, he says, ?a gross violation of human rights.? The right to privacy is blatantly violated when citizens are officially requested to provide information on the comings and goings and habits of their neighbours who have suddenly become suspects. ?Xenophobia is on the rise?, admit the Catholic Bishops of Japan who have launched a signature campaign on the web protesting to the Japanese Government against this unjust move by (oh irony !) the Justice Ministry. [HL40408] Fr Ando Isamu