Japan’s High Court Just OK'd Blanket Surveillance Of Muslims

"They made us terrorist suspects. We never did anything wrong - on the contrary," says one of the plaintiffs fighting Japan’s anti-Muslim surveillance.


Japan’s Supreme Court has given the go-ahead to the government’s blanket surveillance (read: mass spying) of Muslims after it struck down two appeals and dismissed the case on May 31.

Seventeen Japanese Muslim plaintiffs filed a complaint challenging the blanket monitoring — which included surveillance of mosques, Islamic community centers, Islamic organizations and halal food businesses — of the country’s followers of Islam, citing it as an breach of privacy and lack of freedom of religion.

The lawsuit followed a 2010 leak of 114 police files containing evidence of religious profiling across the country. The documents included resumes listing a wide variety of personal information, included the person’s place of worship and a section titled “suspicions.”

The incriminating papers also revealed that at least 72,000 members of the Organization of Islamic Conference countries had been profiled by 2008, which included 1,600 public school students belonging to Tokyo and its suburbs.

The complainants, many of whom had origins from Middle East and North Africa, sued in an attempt to stop the police’s violating practices and the high court agreed with a lower court that the plaintiff’s deserved 90 million yen ($875,000) in compensation. Yet they upheld the lower court’s ruling, stating it was “necessary and inevitable” to guard against terrorism threats.

"We were told we don't have a constitutional case," said Junko Hayashi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. "We're still trying to figure out, how is it not constitutional?"

Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, also commented on the surveillance in Tokyo on June 4.

"People of the Islamic faith are more likely to be targeted ... despite not having any criminal activities or associations or anything like that in their background, simply because people are afraid," Snowden stated at a symposium in Tokyo on June 4.

"But in Japan, let's look seriously at that. The Aum Shinrikyo was the last significant terrorist event in Japan, and that was over 20 years ago," he added, referring to the 1995 sarin gas attack on a Tokyo subway that killed 13 people and injured 6,000 others.

Police agencies in Tokyo have declined to comment on the court’s decision and would not confirm whether the surveillance has stopped. But Hayashi believes the monitoring has only intensified and continues to divest Muslims of their sense of trust for the government.

Japan, apparently, has no love for multicultural integration. The country has been accused of shirking its global duties by turning away 99 percent of asylum applications last year. Japan’s population is expected to fall drastically in a few years, but not many politicians have broached immigration as a solution to the crisis.