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Request from police to fill in resident information card.

Lothor

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When I got home this evening, there was a hand delivered envelope from the local koban asking for our cooperation with instructions in both English and Japanese on the envelope, asking us to complete a resident information card. This was a green card with spaces to enter family names, head of household, dates of birth, places of work/school, emergency contact numbers, and phone numbers.
It all looks legit, the envelope has a picture of ピーポくん on it and it is to be hand-delivered back to the koban. I'm not fussed about filling it in, most of the stuff is already on the residence card in my wallet and I ain't done nuffink but Japanese Mrs Lothor (who also ain't done nuffink) is adamant about not filling it in saying she doesn't trust the police.
Is there any obligation to fill it in?
 

thomas

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It appears to be on a voluntary basis. Interestingly, my wife refused to cooperate for exactly the same reasons as Mrs Lothor.
 

nice gaijin

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is this like a census type thing? Do they send it to everyone?
 

thomas

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is this like a census type thing? Do they send it to everyone?
What the English plural of "census"? Censuses?

Anyhow, as censuses are taken every ten years, my guess is that the police are trying to keep their local residence and family registries up to date.
 

Buntaro

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Lothor,

If it is not mandatory, I would not fill it out.
 

Glenski

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I don't know why your wife has distrust with police. The whole thing sounds harmless from a privacy point of view, especially since they want you to hand-deliver it to a koban. Mailing it could be faked to go anywhere unscrupulous. We actually had a policeman show up at our house to personally collect that information once. My J wife and I feel that this information is for emergency purposes, for example, if your home burns down, this would help to confirm how many bodies (and what age) to look for. If you can convince your wife to fill this out, then politely ask the police when you deliver it.
 

musicisgood

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The police visited me in person and asked me questions and they filled out a form for me. Since I was attending a university and working for a Japanese company at the time ( I disclosed this ) I really didn't think too much of it. But I think they do this with all foreigners once they register at a new residence in the beginning.
 

Lothor

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I don't know why your wife has distrust with police. The whole thing sounds harmless from a privacy point of view, especially since they want you to hand-deliver it to a koban. Mailing it could be faked to go anywhere unscrupulous. We actually had a policeman show up at our house to personally collect that information once. My J wife and I feel that this information is for emergency purposes, for example, if your home burns down, this would help to confirm how many bodies (and what age) to look for. If you can convince your wife to fill this out, then politely ask the police when you deliver it.
I agree that it's very highly unlikely to be faked. My wife just has that very low trust of institutions and strangers, etc, that many Japanese people have - there was a good Japan Times article some time back on the exceptionally low levels of trust in Japanese society. I imagine the sensationalist media reports of the small number of criminals, bent coppers, etc., don't help!
In the case of an emergency, it's a reasonably friendly community where we live and I've got two kids at local schools and on local football teams, so there's no problem with the police finding out who should normally be in the house.

musicisgood - we've been at the same house for 4 years and I've never been visited by the police shortly after moving. I don't think it's standard procedure for the police to visit foreigners though it could depend on the area and local initiatives to keep the police busy - it's not as if they have a huge workload here.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for the replies.
 

TGI-ECT

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I assume that the active participants in this discussion are aware of the following points I will be making, roughly, but I wish to be sure our guests visiting the site and this discussion understand that, firstly, all residents in a given neighborhood under the jurisdiction of a given koban are requested to provided information as made mention of above.

But this business goes back a few years and maybe a small piece of that information can be useful here.

From a JSTOR file:

https[:]//www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv6zdc57.10 (remove the brackets for a hotlink)

Page 20 of the chapter "The Historical Origins of Community Policing in 19th Century Britain and Imperial Japan", but shown on the JSTOR website as '4 of 6' and the second full paragraph down the page.

< < < Copy Starts > > >
Officers stationed in the koban boxes were tasked with assistance in emergency situations but acted also as first contact for residents in case of complaints and reports of criminal acts. Moreover, koban police officers registered every resident and regularly conducted mandatory house visits. During these house visits, residents had to provide detailed personal information such as their family status and occupation. While the police officers in the metropolitan areas were only assigned to work during shifts in the koban boxes, police officers on the countryside actually lived with their families in the chuzaisho. Similar to the koban officers, rural chuzaisho police officers had comprehensive knowledge on the personal living situations of every resident within their service area and conducted housing visits on a regular basis.
< < < Copy Ends > > >

And I feel it might be a good idea to provide some information from the NPA themselves, and I only added a colon to that Google translation.

<<<<< Copy Starts >>>>>
第4 巡回連絡カード Fourth: patrol communication card
1 巡回連絡に当たっては、巡回連絡カードを持参し、訪問先の住民等に配布して作 1. For the patrol contact, bring the patrol card and distribute it to the residents of the destination.
成を依頼し、又は訪問先の住民等から必要事項を聴取して受持警察官等が自ら作成 Created by the responsible police officers by requesting the completion or listening to the necessary information from the visiting residents, etc.
するものとする。 It shall be.
2 1により作成された巡回連絡カード(以下「作成済カード」という )は、警察 2 The traveling contact card created in 1 (hereinafter referred to as “Created Card”) is the police
活動における指導連絡等に活用して、住民等の安全で平穏な生活の確保に役立てる Use for guidance and communication in activities to help ensure a safe and peaceful life for residents, etc.
ものとする。 Shall.
3 巡回連絡カードの様式の例については、別紙1(一般世帯用)及び別紙2(事業 About example of style of 3 circulation communication cards, attached sheet 1 (for general household) and attached sheet 2 (business
所用)のとおりとする。 As required).
なお、外国人の利便を考慮して、必要に応じ、外国語による巡回連絡カードを作 In consideration of the convenience of foreigners, a foreign contact card can be created as necessary.
成するものとする。 Shall be established.
4 作成済カードは 訪問先の住民等の協力を得て 異動事項を補正するものとする 4 Prepared cards shall be corrected for changes with the cooperation of the residents at the visit.
5 作成済カードの取扱いについては、関係する条例等に基づき、適正に行うこと。 5 The handling of the created card should be done appropriately based on the relevant regulations.
[別紙 (略) [Attachment (omitted)
<<<<< Copy Ends >>>>>

Now I am a tad worried about this link and whether all can access to it in a normal way, but let me try:

 

Lothor

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TGI-ECT - that made rather uncomfortable reading. A society where everyone knows each other's business (because information leaks) for no clearly defined reason (as things often are in Japan) is not one I want to be a part of, and if that's part of Japan's history, I have a lot of sympathy with Mrs Lothor's almost aggressive protection of her privacy.
 

Glenski

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In the case of an emergency, it's a reasonably friendly community where we live and I've got two kids at local schools and on local football teams, so there's no problem with the police finding out who should normally be in the house.
The operative words there are "should be". If your house catches fire and burns to the ground, or if an earthquake demolishes it, police and emergency responders would appreciate knowing how many bodies to look for. They have no idea whether Mr. & Mrs. Lothor have other family that may be visiting. If the house is still burning, or the earthquake-hit home can still be searched, it would help to know the number and relative age of the occupants. Even my own university has us provide an emergency response to them in case of an earthquake or major storm. That is, we are asked to answer an email seeking whether we are safe and where we may be.

Peter Barakan on his long-running Japanology TV series on NHK had a segment about police paying personal visits. I don't recall the details other than the point was to put faces to names and establish a friendly rapport, as well as to check in on the elderly periodically. The form you received is all part of that public service. Yes, there is a growing distrust among Japanese for various things, and I certainly can't address it completely. What comes to mind is the phone calls unscrupulous individuals make when targeting senior citizens to fool them into giving away their money. I can only reiterate that your situation is totally different with the requirement that you hand-deliver the form directly to the koban. If there is distrust about that, I can't assuage your wife's fears. Perhaps it is more along the lines of how they store the data and whether it can be hacked. Government offices have had that happen here, you know.

In the end, it's obviously still up to you whether you care about providing this basic info which you admitted that you were "not fussed about" providing.
 

Deibiddo

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Funny I saw this because the police regularly come round my building and force anyone who opens the door to fill in their details. They know that most of the people living there are foreign so I thought it was some illegal skullduggery. I managed to avoid it until last year when I forgot to check through the spyhole before I opened the door (doh).

There were two officers and I asked them why they were there. They showed me the details they had of the occupant who was in there last and asked if it was me so I said they had moved. They then asked me to fill out my details. I knew what was going on but I played dumb and asked questions like "Why do you need this when I've already registered with immigration and the ward office? I've lived here for years and I've never had to do this, including in Tokyo!" etc but they just said "We're not the ward office or immigration, we're the police!" in a typical Japanese non-answer.

I was a bit scared but I decided to try and get a copy to give to a human rights lawyer a colleague of mine knows to find out what exactly they were going to do with the information. I went to the shop and bumped into one officer still in the building on the way back. I reminded him I'd just spoken to him and asked if I could have a copy of the form 'for my records'.

He goes, "You can't, it's personal information."

I go, "Yeah, it's mine!?"

He looked really embarrassed, got his badge out to show me who he was and said if I ever had any questions I could to the koban. Yeah, right dude. To be fair though they do also FORCE Japanese occupants to register too. Someone I know lived across from someone who seemed to have some kind of learning disability and the police officer had a hard time dealing with them but wasn't taking the 'No, I'm not doing it' they were giving them as an answer lol.

I don't answer the door without checking who's there first now, a policeman actually knocked the other day so I didn't answer it. They didn't smash through either so it can't have been that important (they wouldn't have knocked if it was either let's be honest)
 

Buntaro

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Deibiddo,

Did they talk to you in English or Japanese?
 

Deibiddo

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They spoke a decent amount of English actually. Even though one of the pair looked like he probably underperformed at high school he could still converse in a way I could understand. I generally spoke to them in Japanese though, I was trying to get them to see I couldn't be taken advantage of so easily
 

johnnyG

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Chill, folks. Just give the information. The police are innocuous in this role.

Instead, thank your lucky stars that there isn't the CCTV here--along with facial recognition--that is common in some countries.

And when you're finished complaining about this invasiveness and loss of privacy, delete your facebook and google accounts, and make sure to wipe everything they know about you as you do that.
 

Deibiddo

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Google and Facebook don't force you to hand your data over under the threat of arrest though. They also at least explain a little bit about what they do with your information and you can ask them to get rid of it.

If there was a law saying you had to inform the police that you're living at an address I'd do it. There isn't though, they wouldn't be going round knocking on people's doors otherwise to get the information or they'd already have it. For gaijin it's just necessary to inform immigration and the ward office
 

Buntaro

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I've had my dealings with Tokyo's Finest, and when I know I am in the right, suddenly I do not speak a word of Japanese. But these guys spoke English anyway.

One way to deal with it is to keep repeating, "It's not necessary." (This is actually an assertiveness technique called Broken Record.) I think this would be the best way to handle it. What do you think he would have done after you had said, "It's not necessary." 15 times? Or what if you had said, "It's not necessary." only once and then responded to all of his subsequent questions and statements with silence? I assume he handed you a piece of paper. What if you had refused to take that piece of paper with your hand?
 
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