The unsuccessful Group of Eight summit is over and no definite agreements were announced, but at least the Hakodate police were successful — in arresting me, a 32-year-old German tourist. A week before the G8 summit I traveled with my wife, a Japanese national, by motorbike from Kyushu to Hokkaido. We drove four days through the rain until we reached dry Hokkaido.

When we got off the ferry in Hakodate, I was arrested for not carrying my original passport, which we had left behind deliberately because of the rain. I only had a copy of my passport, a German driver’s license with a Japanese translation, and an international driver’s license.

I was locked up in jail for three days until my original passport arrived by post. We were then allowed to continue our shortened travel. This waste of taxpayers’ money didn’t need to happen if the police in Kyushu had been allowed to check the existence of a valid visa, my passport — which was at my in-laws’ place — or the fingerprint that I had to give when I entered Japan the last time. Each of these would have served the same function as a passport.

If the G8 politicians had worked as vigorously as the Hakodate police, the summit probably would have been more successful.


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