UN racism expert visiting Japan

The Japan Times Online reports that the U.N.’s expert on racism and discrimination will visit Japan for the first time this month. The Japanese government has invited Doudou Diene of Senegal to report on the situation of minorities and foreigners in Japanese society.

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Tighter control over foreigners in Japan

The Japanese government is considering ways of tightening its control of foreign residents. It’s setting up a working group to report on possible new measures, such as the recently proposed smart ID cards. The government says this is part of a crime and terrorism prevention strategy. They expect to be able to revise the registration laws in 2007.

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Tokyo is most expensive city

The annual Mercer survey has found that Tokyo is by far the most expensive city in the world to live in, with Osaka in second place. Tokyo has been number one on the list for years. Tokyo and Osaka’s ratings have increased because of the rising value of the Yen, so if you’re living there and being paid in yen it doesn’t matter all that much.

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2 million foreigners in Japan

There are now nearly 2 million foreigners living in Japan. The Immigration Bureau released a report last week saying that there are 1,973,747 registered foreign nationals resident in Japan, representing 1.55% of the population. The Japanese government has a very strict definition of “foreigner” — many of these 2 million people were born and raised in Japan, but are still counted as foreign nationals.

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Living in Japan

I’ve kept occasional notes on interesting things about Japan as I encountered them. These are all in the Japan section of Bennettarium, my personal website.

Smart Alien Registration Cards

The Japanese government is planning to update the alien registration cards (“gaijin cards”) that foreigners are required to carry in Japan. The cards will be made into smart cards, with integrated electronic chips. and the information on the cards will be stored in a central database.

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Alien card

Foreigners staying in Japan longer than 90 days need to obtain a Certificate of Alien Registration, also known as an Alien Card. It’s easy to get, but I had to get mine updated several times. If you leave the country without a visa and re-entry permit, they take away your alien card and you have to get another one when you return. Then, when your visa status changes (e.g. you get an extension or finally get your work visa) you go back and they put more stamps on it. I spent a lot of time at the Alien Registration counter in my local ward office in Shibuya.

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