• Dazaifu, Fukuoka

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Regarding the article “DPJ Slams Strict Bills on Foreign Residents:” Japan is already the most over-regulated country in the world, and most of its regulations are never even enforced. Many of them do not target real trouble spots at all, just soft targets that are convenient for bureaucrats to make themselves look good on paper with meaningless statistics.

The proposed regulations regarding the new identity cards for foreigners are clearly one of the more insidious examples of this trend. While foreign crime may be significant it is no more so than that of homegrown gangsters, many of whose misdeeds go unaddressed. Targeting the entire foreign community with petty regulations and incommensurate penalties shows an anti-foreign sentiment not in keeping with a country that often prides itself on hosting international events. After cohosting the FIFA World Cup, Tokyo is now vying to host its second Olympics. But what, if anything, has Japan learned about internationalism since the first one nearly a half century ago?

If we are to judge by these latest proposals singling out foreigners for totally unnecessary duress, the answer can only be “nothing.” Let’s take one example: Do Japanese motorists risk the wrath of the law if they forget or misplace their driving license? Of course not. But if a foreign resident of good standing who has committed no crime does not carry his new ID card for any reason, such as having had it stolen, he or she may be severely punished.

sk,3 There are already too many regulations in Japan and nobody is really keen on enforcing the few important ones among them. Any society that so devotes itself to writing rules for their own sake is a paper society lacking humanity. If Japan doesn’t desist from its obsessive ways, there will be no possibility for any U-turn.

david wood

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