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Japan’s border security breached many times; 3,000+ foreign interns missing

  • 2015-12-04 15:00:00
  • , Sankei
  • Translation

(Sankei: December 3, 2015 – p. 1)


 In light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, National Public Safety Commission Chairman Taro Kono stated on a commercial TV program: “It is Japan’s responsibility as the host to hold the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games safely. It is necessary to consider (instituting the crime of conspiracy) carefully.”


 This statement is significant from the top official in charge of the police because the G7 Ise-Shima Summit, where the leaders of the U.S., France, and other nations being targeted by the “Islamic State (IS)” will gather, is taking place next May.


 The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention against Transnational Crime in 2000. As of last January, there were 184 signatories to the convention, but Japan is not one of them. This is because it has no law against conspiracy, which is required for membership in the convention.


 With the strengthening of international efforts to contain terrorism, countries that do not punish conspiracy may become the “weak link” terrorists take advantage of. Japan works hard to catch information on the activities of terrorists at home and abroad and makes every effort to prevent them from entering the country.


 Japan is often thought to have good border security since it is an island state. However, border security has actually been breached many times.


 In 2004, a French cadre of an organization affiliated with Al Qaeda arrested in Germany was found to have traveled six times to Japan. He was on the ICPO (International Criminal Police Organization) wanted list, complete with copies of his fingerprints, but at that time, Japan did not have a system for immigration authorities to utilize fingerprint data on persons on the international wanted list.


 The system has improved since then. However, there is still the question of how the police, immigration, and other relevant bodies can share and collate information when even fingerprint data is not available.


 Kim Jong Nam, eldest son of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, was caught trying to enter Japan illegally in 2001 in a high profile incident. The police have also confirmed that current DPRK leader Kim Jong Un once came to Japan using a Brazilian passport with a fictitious name when he was a young boy. At that time, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s public security section caught this information and started investigations for violation of the immigration law, but he had already left the country.


 Last September, the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization released some shocking figures: 3,139 of the foreign interns who came to Japan in FY2014 had gone missing. Around 86% of them were from China and Vietnam. Some 200 interns from Indonesia, the most populous Islamic country in the world struggling with the penetration of IS operatives, had also gone missing.


 The Ministry of Justice set up an “immigration control intelligence center” in October with the aim of preventing the entry of terrorists and reducing the number of illegal residents.


 According to a senior official, the center is in the process of compiling a blacklist with photos and fingerprint data based on information held by the immigration authorities on persons on the international wanted list and such other outside information, past deportations, and so forth. It is also building a database to help identify “high risk” individuals by categorizing the circumstances and actions of persons attempting to enter Japan illegally based on age, country of origin, residence in Japan, duration of stay, and such other information declared upon their arrival accumulated by the immigration authorities so far.


 The Council for Public Policy’s Isao Itabashi, an expert on international terrorism, points out that “it is necessary to set up a mechanism as soon as possible for the police and the immigration bureau to have access to each other’s information on persons entering the country when necessary.” (Slightly abridged)

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