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Foreign-born residents in Japan sue government for alleged racial profiling

Tokyo CNN —

Three foreign-born residents in Japan are suing the country’s government over alleged racial profiling, highlighting an ongoing debate about Japanese identity and nationality.

The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in the Tokyo National Court and held a news conference with their lawyers on Monday, according to public broadcaster NHK.

The suit alleges they were questioned by police on the basis of their race, skin color, nationality, and other factors, constituting discrimination in violation of Japan’s constitution, NHK reported.

They are seeking 3 million yen (about $20,355) in compensation per person from the national government, the Tokyo metropolitan government, and the Aichi prefectural government.

One plaintiff came to Japan from India after marrying his wife, and has lived there for more than 20 years, NHK reported. Since then, he has been repeatedly stopped and questioned by police officers on the street, sometimes twice a day. It got so bad he became afraid to leave the house at times, he said, according to NHK.

Another plaintiff, a Pakistani-born Japanese citizen, said during the news conference, “I think that people in Japan have the image that foreigners who look like foreigners commit crimes.”

“I have been cooperating with (police) because I thought it was important for maintaining public safety, but when it happened not once but more than 10 times, I began to have doubts indeed,” he added, according to NHK.

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

The three plaintiffs and their legal team walk outside the Tokyo District Court on January 29, 2024.

When contacted by CNN, the Aichi