We’ve all heard the classic line “Japan is an incredibly welcoming country.” A place where everyone’s kind, polite, and eerily silent on the trains. And the crime rate? Oh! Ridiculously low! That’s in part thanks to the approximately 6,000 24-hour-staffed police boxes that cover the country in a network of uniformed protection.
But does all that security come at a cost?
In Japan, walking around without identification papers on your person is technically illegal. Japanese law allows patrolling officers to stop a random person at any time to check their ID. The people they inevitably choose? Those who don’t look “Japanese.”
Even if you’ve done nothing wrong at all, if you’re caught empty-handed you could be arrested and taken straight to the police station. A couple of months back, an unlucky Indonesian tourist forgot her passport at her hotel and, while separated from her travel group, got held for several days by the police who mistook her for an illegal immigrant worker.
But I’m Japanese!
For a long time, Japanese society has entertained the myth that Japan is a homogenous homeland, free of discrimination because, well, everyone is the same.
But, in recent years, in particular, there’s been a steadily growing number of Japanese nationals of foreign descent (in addition to an increase in the number of foreign residents) that is challenging that misconception loud and clear.
Whether we choose to see it or not, discrimination exists in Japan. Among the body of evidence is how appearance-based identity control checks are conducted on the street.
Japanese nationals don’t have an ID card and they have no reason to carry their passport on them day-to-day either. But incidents like the one @zainulabaden experienced suggests that some Japanese people might have to—just to be safe.
— zain ul aladdin (ゼイン) (@zainulabaden) September 28, 2019
= I’m Japanese of Pakistani origin. My nationality IS Japanese. Despite how I look, I am Japanese. I do a good job cooperating. But this way of asking from the start “Where’s your alien card?”, “Your passport?”, “If you don’t have it, we’ll have to arrest you” makes me feel bad. “Please provide a document showing your identity” is the appropriate way to ask. Yes, even with this face, I am Japanese.
Shedding a not-so-glamorous light on identity controls in Japan, @Zainulaben’s tweet prompted people—Japanese citizens and foreign residents—to share their own experiences as well which you can read on the thread.
That’s the way to do it!
Time to learn how to use the suffix 方 which expresses “the way (manner) to (perform an action)” or “how to (perform an action)”.
The construction is easy peasy, you attach 方 to the stem of the verb, minus the ます form:
- 履歴書の書き方= way to write a resume
- 考え方= way of thinking
- やり方= way of doing
- 使い方= way of using
When the verb becomes a noun it looks like this:
- 彼の考え方が面白い = his way of thinking is interesting.
- 漢字の書き方は難しい = the way of writing kanji is difficult
- パソコンの使い方を教えてください = tell me how to use the computer
|パキスタン系||pakisutan kei||of Pakistani origin|
|これでも||koredemo||even though it may appear like this|
|職質||shokushitsu||questioning (by police)|
|最初から||saisho kara||from the start|
|聞き方||kikikata||way of asking|
|本人確認書類||honnin kakunin shorui||identification document|
|お願いします||o onegai shimasu||please|
For more on learning Japanese
- Learn Japanese with our original study materials on GaijinPot Study
- Questions about studying Japanese in Japan? Take a look at the Japan 101 section on Higher Education and Studying Japanese
- Join our GaijinPot Study Facebook group to connect with fellow learners
- Learn more about the GaijinPot Study Placement Program
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