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Court backs gov't on permanent residents' fingerprints

OSAKA, May 26 Kyodo

The Osaka District Court on Tuesday supported the Japanese government in keeping the fingerprints of foreigner permanent residents collected before the revision of the Alien Registration Law in 1993.

A total of 10 such residents in Japan including Kim Dok Hwan, 50, filed a suit against the government in February 1995 demanding that their fingerprints be expunged from records and 100,000 yen each in damages, claiming that keeping the fingerprints violated their privacy.

Presiding Judge Yasukazu Watanabe said the fingerprinting of foreign

permanent residents was legitimate and necessary before the revision of the law. He also said the keeping of such fingerprints by the government, which is now in the process of expunging them, is not illegal.

The plaintiffs, including Koreans and Americans living in Japan, had been fingerprinted until the abolition of fingerprinting foreign permanent residents in January 1993, according to the court.

After the law revision, the governmentchose to keep the fingerprints on microfilm, but changed its policy in July 1996 and began the process of deleting them from records, Watanabe said.

The government has maintained throughout the trial that it is up to government discretion whether to expunge the fingerprints and that the action is not legally required.

Kim said the fingerprinting was clearly unnecessary as shown by the fact that the law was abolished after heavy opposition to it. He added he was disappointed with the decision of the court, which he said is responsible for overseeing human rights violations.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Jun 1, 1998
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