Foreign-born Japanese citizens sue Government over alleged racial profiling

Three foreign-born residents residing in Tokyo, Japan, have taken a significant legal step against the Japanese government, citing instances of racial profiling. This lawsuit has brought to light the broader conversation about the notions of Japanese identity and nationality.

The three individuals filed their case in the Tokyo National Court and elaborated on their experiences during a news conference held with their legal representatives on Monday, as reported by Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.

The lawsuit contends that these residents were subjected to police questioning solely based on their race, skin color, nationality, and similar attributes. This treatment, they argue, amounts to discrimination and is a violation of the constitutional rights guaranteed in Japan, according to NHK’s coverage.

Each plaintiff is seeking compensation of three million yen (approximately $20,355), holding accountable not just the national government but also the Tokyo metropolitan and Aichi prefectural governments.

One of the plaintiffs, originally from India, moved to Japan over two decades ago following his marriage. As per NHK’s report, he has faced frequent police stops and inquiries on the streets of Tokyo, sometimes even twice within a single day. This relentless scrutiny has reached a point where he occasionally felt apprehensive about leaving his home.

Another plaintiff, a Pakistani-born Japanese citizen, shared at the news conference, “I think that people in Japan have the image that foreigners who look like foreigners commit crimes.” Despite initially cooperating with the police in the interest of public safety, the repetitive nature of these encounters – more than ten times – led him to question the underlying motives, as reported by NHK.

The third plaintiff is an American-born man who said he hoped to raise awareness of the issue among the Japanese population.