Ministry asks Tokyo why Taiwanese tourists asked for biological specimens

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Nov 24, 2013 - Page 3

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday demanded that Japan look into a complaint by two Taiwanese students who were asked to provide biological specimens because they did not have the required identification cards with them.

The couple studying in Japan recounted experiences of “unreasonable treatment” they received from Japanese police officers on Nov. 11 after they asked the officers, in an online forum, for directions when they got lost in Kichijoji, Tokyo.

The couple said that they sought directions to a restaurant from Japanese police officers and ended up being detained for six hours and being asked to go through a body search, undergo DNA tests, have their saliva collected and leave fingerprints.

They said they did not have residence cards with them when they were out for lunch, which was a violation of Japanese rules, but they questioned whether it “was reasonable” that they had to be treated like prisoners.

Japan issues a residence card to foreign nationals who are staying in Japan for a medium to long term and require the foreign nationals to always carry their residence cards with them and to present them to law enforcers when asked to.

The students said the police officers took them back to the police station to collect biological specimens, even though they went home with the officers to show them that they did have residence cards.

At the request of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has been looking into the case, ministry spokesperson Anna Kao (高安) yesterday said.

The ministry expected that Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department would give the students a clear account of the incident after its investigation, Kao said.

“If the students are not happy with results from the investigation, the ministry will help the students negotiate with the Tokyo police department,” she added.

The ministry advised people to watch out for their own safety, abide by local rules and carry necessary identification documents when traveling abroad, Kao said.