Japan: church protests at 'government xenophobia'

 Church groups in Japan are protesting about the Japanese government's new tactics to find illegal immigrants. The Immigration Ministry of the Justice Bureau has, according to newspaper reports appearing in February, set up a home page on its website inviting the public to provide information on illegal foreigners staying in the country, complete with a form on which details can be filled out, and distinct addresses for different regions. Last September, Prime Minister Koizumi addressed the government on the need to give priority to security and to 'crimes committed by foreigners.' A survey, however, conducted by the Solidarity with Immigrants Japan network, showed that immigrants without documents accounted for just 0.42 per cent of crime. The Catholic Bishops of Japan have launched a signature campaign on the web protesting about the new government web page. Fr Ando Isamu SJ, said: "What kind of militaristic spying is the government engaging in? Why are the poorest foreigners in the country thus targeted?" "This 'spying process' officially encouraged by the government will erode the roots of our compassion," said Franciscan Friar Jon Toda OFM. He said: "It involves a gross violation of human rights. The right to privacy is blatantly violated when citizens are officially requested to provide information on the comings and goings and habits of their neighbours who have suddenly become suspects." Source: Jesuit News Service

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