I went to a meeting of the Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (FRANCA) of Japan tonight—three hours.
It was pretty interesting. I am an alumnus of several Nambu quarterly meetings, and I say alumnus because those were quite a test of endurance. In those instances, I usually left feeling like I would never have those three hours of my life again. But the FRANCA was a little different.
Arudou Debito is the “daihyou riji” of the organization, so I went at his invite. The things he organizes are almost always very serious, so I presume this is no exception. He is in town to meet with the UN representative for migrant issues, and so that prompted the FRANCA meeting.
I have to be really honest: I am generally skeptical of foreigner groups. Almost always the people who join have a personal agenda, and they want other people to devote time and resources to their personal agenda. And it wouldn’t be so bad if weren’t so crystal clear this is what they are doing, and so just come out and say it.
In other circumstances, it attracts people who like to hear themselves talk. Those kind, you know? And so, you end up spending several hours listening to someone who likes to hear themselves talk. How worthwhile is that?
I mean, if it’s somebody who can do something for you, and you listen to them go for a while, and then they can do something for you, that is one thing. But if it’s somebody who goes on-and-on, and they really can’t do much more for anyone in life except that they are a motormouth, well, then you get that existentialist crisis. You feel like God or whoever put you here gave you those couple hours to have, and you just wasted them for nothing. Like I say, I have had this happen to me in Tokyo, and of course back in America.
So it will be interesting to see how FRANCA goes. Some of the issues being put forth are obviously serious shit. Like divorced parents who don’t get to see their little boy or girl, because of Japan’s cruel rules about single custody. But then there’s bullshit about how people don’t like to be fingerprinted. Hey, I took the New Jersey and Pennsylvania bar exam (fingerprints), sat for and passed the CPA in New Jersey (again, fingerprints), worked for four different financial institutions (requiring, ehem, guess what?) and have gone through Narita under the new system requiring those very same fingerprints.
I hear people bitching about fingerprints and I go blank. We’re leaving them everywhere we go. If some administrator is collecting them, I don’t know what to say. As long as they don’t use them for a bad purpose, they are a part of my identity. If I have to show I am me, how else do I do it?
The same deal with the Alien Registration Card. How else (other than a passport) do I show that I am me? Granted, getting hit with a $2,000 fine if I forget the thing is an issue. But having or not having one, well, how do you show in a foreign country that you are you? How?
For me, as readers here know, it’s about whether the normal rules of Japan are being applied equally to Japanese and non-Japanese. Law really only works when its coverage is over everybody. Otherwise it’s just a system of privilege.
So I have to see how FRANCA goes. I didn’t join tonight, and I didn’t do much than attend the event (even though my eyes were killing me for some reason). But if the people build it up locally, and it involves general issues, and I’m around, then I’ll join it.