Illegal Police Surveillance of Japan's Muslims
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Japan's steady march toward a less democratically accountable government has taken another key step with the Supreme Court's recent decision to avoid ruling on the constitutionality of the mass surveillance of the resident Muslim community.
A lower court had declared police surveillance of virtually all Muslims living in the country as a policy that is both "necessary and inevitable" to prevent terrorism, and the Japanese Supreme Court has now let that verdict stand.
Many constitutional scholars are appalled. Few independent observers can square these court rulings with, for example, Article 14 of the Constitution which declares, "All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin." Nor is it consistent with Article 20, which states, "Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all."
Rather, what the Japanese courts have now ruled is that simply on the basis of being Muslim, it is "necessary and inevitable" that Japanese police and security services can surveil your home and workplace, record your movements and the identity of your friends and contacts, and basically treat you, clandestinely, as a criminal suspect.
It is difficult not to be reminded of the presumptive Republican nominee for US President, Donald Trump, and his particular proposal - both farcical and notorious - to ban all Muslims from entering the United States "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on".
In Japan's case, it appears that in the run-up to the July 2008 G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, some bright spark within the National Police Agency decided that the security services needed to "figure out what is going on" with the Muslims in the country. He gave orders to surveil and compile information about the entire community of tens of thousands of ordinary people - no doubt searching for the illusory religious radicals he believed could be planning terror.
The official paranoia of that era can be well appreciated by recalling that the Minister of Justice was Kunio Hatoyama, who had just recently been mocked for justifying his tough stance on immigration issues by declaring at a press conference that he had "a friend of a friend" in al-Qaeda who was regularly entering and exiting Japan, the New Arab news website reported on Wednesday.
As if it wasn't bad enough that the Japanese police were conducting a policy that was clearly unconstitutional by any reasonable reading of the law, they then compounded their shame when a computer data leak made some of their secret reports available on the internet in October 2010.
It was a case of incompetence piled upon incompetence. Not only had the police failed to secure their own secret reports (thus revealing to the public their own lawless behavior), but some of the Muslims whose personal information had been leaked were then amused to discover the shoddy nature and conclusions of the police investigations.