© Reuters. File photo: On November 5, 2017, when U.S. President Donald Trump visited Japan, police officers stood guard near the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Authors: Chang-Ran Kim and Elaine Lies
TOKYO (Reuters)-The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo warned in a tweet on Monday that Japanese police were suspected of racially profiling non-Japanese people.
Japan is a country with a single race. Some people equate more immigration with a rise in crime, despite the increasing need for foreign labor to make up for a declining and aging population.
“The U.S. Embassy has received reports of foreigners being intercepted and searched by Japanese police in suspected racial profiling incidents. Some of them have been detained, interrogated and searched,” the tweet said.
“U.S. citizens should bring an immigration certificate and request a consular notice when in custody.”
This tweet is an unusual move by the United States, an important ally of Japan.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy stated that the embassy did not add further to this tweet and the National Police Department could not immediately comment.
When asked about the warning from the U.S. Embassy, the top government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno only stated that the police will question suspicious individuals based on various factors, but these decisions are not based on a person’s race or nationality.
A week ago, Japan closed its borders to all non-resident foreigners. This is one of the most powerful global measures taken to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Naomi Kawahara, founder of the Japanese Black Life Advocacy Group, said that the racial profiling of Japanese police is nothing new, especially for foreigners or Japanese mixed races of color.
“I have a friend who has been questioned by the police more than 30 times during the six years he lived here,” she told Reuters, her African-American friend who left Japan a few years ago.
“Sometimes it is in front of his house because he is about to walk the dog.”
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