After receiving reports of ex-pats allegedly being racially profiled and detained by police, the US Embassy in Tokyo has issued an alert on Twitter warning American citizens in Japan to carry identification.
In order to avoid penalties, foreign residents in Japan, which is mostly an ethnically homogeneous country, are required to register with the authorities and must always carry identification showing their residency status.
The Embassy informed in its message of receiving reports of suspected racial profiling incidents in which foreigners were being stopped, searched, or detained by Japanese police and advised Americans to always carry proof of immigration and immediately request consular notification if detained.
Following the message alert, several Americans have reported incidents in which they had been profiled as a foreigner and stopped, sharing their own experiences with the police in Japan.
One American in Tokyo wrote that many of his friends have been racially profiled for so much as walking down the street at night.
The warning message from the US Embassy comes in light of Japan closing its borders to foreigners – tourists, business people and students – amid concerns raised by the omicron variant of Covid-19 although ex-pats with resident status in Japan are still permitted to re-enter the country.
The closure of the borders was backed by almost 90% of Japanese respondents to a media poll over the weekend as reported by Bloomberg, who also cited Japan’s Ministry of Justice data showing the number of foreign nationals living in Japan fell slightly in 2021 to 2.8 million with less than 3% of them being Americans.
Although foreign labor is increasingly needed in Japan to make up for a declining and aging population, some of the Japanese people equate the rise in crime with the increased number of immigrants.