I am a retired Swedish citizen who undertook a 40-day tour of Japan from Feb. 10 to March 20. I found Japanese people kind and very helpful, but I deeply resent the way the immigration and customs people treat visitors. There were many offensive questions on the customs clearance card that nobody should ask of a foreign guest. The embarkation card also contains similarly offensive questions. The use of disrespectful questionnaires are like the ones Americans use; they assume that all visitors are potential criminals.
What I felt most bitter about was a Japanese immigration official’s taking my photograph and fingerprints without asking my permission or telling me what he was doing. I was made to feel like a hardcore criminal being examined by a detective. I know the United States carries out procedures like these, but the U.S. does so many illegal things. I have refused to visit there, even on free tickets, since officials started taking visitors’ photos and fingerprints. I find no reason for Japan to mimic the Americans in following an uncivilized procedure. European and other Asian counties don’t take such measures in the name of checking crime and terrorism.
In October-November 2009, I visited China, a country that has suffered greatly from foreign aggression and atrocities in the past, yet I found Chinese customs and immigration people very civilized and friendly even if they didn’t bow as deeply as Japanese officials. Honestly, I would not have set foot in Japan had I known that Japanese immigration would be so disrespectful to foreign visitors.
I am aware of the international security concerns, but any decent person needs to ponder how security is guaranteed by taking these photos and fingerprints. I want Japanese people to know my humiliation. Japan should stop this silly activity and let the immigration people show the normal decency that visitors from a civilized country rightfully deserve.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.