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Under Surveillance in Tokyo


SNA (Tokyo) — The first sign that something was amiss occurred at Tokyo Disneyland. Hassan was at a ride with his three young boys when he noticed a man who seemed out of place. The man was a tall, clean-cut Japanese man, perhaps in his mid-30s, who was all alone at a location where everyone else had children. Why was an adult man hanging out at a children’s ride? Hassan thought it was strange, but he says that it was from that day forward that his life took a turn for the worse.

“Hassan” is not the man’s real name. He feels fearful for his children and so doesn’t want his real name published in the media. He agreed, however, to be described accurately as an East African man of Muslim heritage who is in his early 50s.

Before coming to Japan almost eight years ago, Hassan lived in the United States and worked in the hospitality industry. It was there that he met a Japanese woman, got married, and had his three children. The family eventually moved to Japan where Hassan became a permanent resident and has worked continuously as a regular employee in a factory.

“Things changed tremendously.”

Hassan says that ever since that day three years ago at Tokyo Disneyland, he has been stalked by what he assumes to be the Japanese police or some other security agency.

“Since then I’ve been seeing some strange vehicles with their emergency lights on. When I leave, they take off.”

Hassan reports that he has been followed constantly since that time. They wait outside his place of work almost every day. The longest he’s ever gone without noticing them is two or three days.

Hassan says that he tried repeatedly to get some action from his local police station, but “the police don’t want to help me. They refuse to help me.”

His way of fighting back has been to use his mobile phone to make video recordings of the people he says are following him, some of which he showed to the Shingetsu News Agency.

Surveillance Narrow

One of the photographs Hassan showed to the SNA

Hassan says that his stalkers make little effort to disguise their presence and seem to be trying to send him a message: “We know you, where you are going and what time you are coming back.”

“They know what road I walk on. They know what places I go to. They know what time I go home,” he continues.

Hassan says that he is very frustrated. If Japanese police or security services have some charge or evidence of wrongdoing that he has committed, then says he’s willing to face it and whatever the consequences might be. But to live each day for three years knowing that you are being surveilled in everything that you do, but with no charges forthcoming, is highly unfair.

“I’m not a terrorist. I don’t do any crimes. I’m not killing anybody… I just come home and I go to work.”

Hassan doesn’t know why he is under surveillance, but his best guess is that it is some kind of ethnic profiling based on the fact that he comes from a Muslim region of East Africa that has many political problems.

“If they don’t have any evidence to produce, they need to stop it. What they are doing isn’t right. They’re just chasing a family man and his family is suffering. It’s wrong and they must stop it,” he declares.

Hassan says that he has reached out to the media to make sure his story is known and to combat his feelings of powerlessness in Japanese society against what he regards as a brazen attempt to intimidate him.

“I want to live in peace, and to come home from work in peace.”

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