Japanese government sued by foreign-born residents over alleged police profiling


Three foreign-born residents of Japan, each from a different background, have filed a lawsuit against national and local governments, alleging unlawful police questioning based on racial profiling.

About the lawsuit: The landmark case was filed on Jan. 29 with the Tokyo District Court against the National Police Agency, the Tokyo Metropolitan and Aichi Prefecture governments.

The lawsuit asserts that the individuals endured distressing encounters with law enforcement, characterized by repeated questioning based on their appearance, ethnicity or nationality. The plaintiffs are seeking financial compensation amounting to 3 million yen ($20,342) each for the emotional toll they suffered.

What the plaintiffs are saying: Speaking to local media before the filing, the plaintiffs recounted numerous instances where they were subjected to intrusive police questioning.

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Syed Zain, a Pakistani-born Japanese citizen, said he endured recurring police stops and searches over the years living in the country. Matthew, a man of Indian descent and a permanent resident of Japan, revealed that he has faced police interrogation on numerous occasions, leading him to adopt a reclusive lifestyle. Meanwhile, an American permanent resident named Maurice highlighted the pervasive nature of such encounters and stressed the importance of addressing the issue for future generations.

Societal implications: The lawsuit comes amid a broader societal debate in Japan surrounding identity, nationality and the treatment of individuals with foreign backgrounds. Recent incidents, including the crowning of a Ukrainian-born Miss Japan and previous controversies over representation and beauty standards, have ignited discussions about inclusivity and the evolving concept of Japanese identity.

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