Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

My new bike - Photo copyright Mission Bicycles - CC BY-NC

When I read that Zack Rosen and his friends were starting a bike business, I ordered one right away. The basic configuration was $790, but I upgraded the headset and crank and paid $850, which seems pretty reasonable. Zack is an old friend and a cool guy and I knew that a bike he was working on would be special. I wasn't disappointed. I went to their web design studio/bike assembly area and picked up my new bike and rode it back to the hotel today. What a treat.

They're called Mission Bicycles and they are open for business now and taking orders. I've only taken my around for a few miles so far, but I love it.

UPDATE: If you see Shawn Fanning riding around on this bike, he didn't steal it. I stashed it at the Rupture offices.

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Wow is it fixed wheel? Ideal for training - haven't rode fixed wheel for ages

That's great. What is the make of it?
I've got a specialized cross one. Under 10man but Im thinking of buying on for about 45man.... Drop handle that can go to 55 km/hour!

Scott McLennan Tokyo

I love coaster brakes. But I'm not big on the horned handlebars.

Just discovered your blog. Keep up the good work!

Rick Martin, Dalian

Nice looking bike! I like that the bike place doesn't put branding on the bike.

Starting on November 20th, 2007, Japan began the mandatory fingerprinting of all foreigners (non-Japanese citizens) every time they enter the country. This fingerprinting will be followed by a facial photograph and interrogation and will be required every time a non-Japanese citizen passes through immigration. Refusal to comply with any of these requirements will result in immediate deportation (regardless of visa status), presumably with the standard 5-year prohibition on return travel to Japan. This law affects all foreigners, including permanent residents and re-entry permit holders, with only extremely narrow exceptions (see below). Fingerprints and other biometric data (including the facial photograph) will be entered into a mysterious database where it will be kept for an "indeterminate" amount of time (read: forever) and may be shared with "appropriate governmental and international agencies" (read: it will be widely distributed to the Japanese police (see below) and possibly even merged into the incredibly bloated and completely ineffectual so called "US Terrorist Watch List")

Why was this law passed? The Japanese company line.

"Japan's position as america's ally makes it a potential terrorist target"

"My friend's friend is a member of al-Qaeda. I have never met him, but I heard that two or three years ago he came to Japan several times. This person was involved in the bombings of Bali. I know this may cause a lot of inconvenience, but [fingerprinting all non-Japanese] is very necessary to fight terror."
-Hatoyama Kunio, Justice Minister of Japan

There is little doubt that this law has at least part of its roots in the deeply flawed and completely ineffective US-VISIT program enacted as a knee-jerk reaction by the US government to the 9-11 terrorist attacks. The similarities are striking and the fact is that as of this writing, Japan and the United States are the only two modern nations who fingerprint all visitors to their country and record them in a perpetual database not beholden to oversight by any non-governmental (and some would say governmental) authority. While I do not often ascribe to Japan the "America's lap dog" moniker many have in the past decade, in this case it seems painfully clear that the hawkish Bush administration has been very adamant in their push for Japan to share their philosophy in the so called "war on terror" - perhaps because Japan is the only ally the United States has left - in fact the US Secretary of Defense was just in Japan last week trying to get the Japanese to increase their participation in the Iraq war (despite clear prohibitions on such activity in the Japanese constitution)

However, the fingerprinting of foreigners in Japan has a history that precedes both the 9-11 attacks and the US-VISIT program by a long stretch. In fact, up until as recently as the year 2000, all foreigners living in Japan were required to be fingerprinted when registering for their mandatory Foreigner Registration Card ("Gaijin Card") - the fingerprint was both recorded in their file (more on this later) and printed directly on the card which was (and still is) mandatory to carry at all times, upon pain of incarceration and deportation. More disturbingly, however, this fingerprinting applied not only to temporary foreign residents of Japan (including those with work, study and "regular" permanent resident visas) but also to so called "special" permanent residents - also known as zainichi Koreans.

Zainichi Japanese is a special label applied to Koreans who were kidnapped or otherwise brought to Japan during Japan's occupation of the Korean Peninsula during World War II and continued to live in Japan after the end of the war. Several generations later, they are now Japanese in every way (mother tongue is Japanese, often take Japanese names, obviously are physically indistinguishable from "Japanese", were born, raised and have never lived anywhere else but Japan) except the fact that their parents were originally from Korea. However, the Japanese government has always made a strong and racist distinction between them and so-called "ethnic" Japanese and thus zainichi Koreans were forced to be fingerprinted and registered the same as "other" foreigners in Japan, despite the fact that this was (and is) their home country. After several decades of protest, this requirement was finally abolished in the year 2000, along with the forcible fingerprinting of other foreigners (though we are still required to be registered and carry our ID cards with us at all times) and for a brief moment everyone allowed themselves a sigh of relief at the thought that perhaps, finally Japan was making strides towards modernity and human rights.

Unfortunately, Japan has never been comfortable with foreigners in its midst (some would term Japan "openly hostile" to foreigners, with top politicians openly stating they wish to restrict the number of foreigners in Japan to "less than 1% of the total population") - and the Bush administration's so-called "War on Terror" provided the perfect excuse to resurrect the mass-fingerprinting of all foreigners in Japan, less than 7 years after its original abolishment.

Besides the "war on terror" angle, the Japanese government has sold this as a way to cut down on illegal visa-overstayers (a much exaggerated problem that is a favourite of conservative politicians to win points with the voters) and to combat the complete fictional notion that Japan is currently awash in a crime wave perpetrated by foreigners. (see the section on the police below).

All of these reasons - from "protecting Japan against terrorism" to "reducing crime" are complete fabrications designed to hide the real and disturbing reason for this program: Japan is a racist and xenophobic place which wishes to track and obtain as much information on non-Japanese in its midst as possible with the ideal goal of getting rid of them completely (and using them as a scapegoat for its own governmental failings).

Nice concept. Fixies rule. I prefer Swobo.

Very nice looking bike : )

Looks great.

can you give me the bike i need a new bike ;-)