Trevor Noah controversy on French World Cup team: “Africa won the World Cup”. Debito.org disagrees with French Ambassador’s protest letter.

Trevor Noah, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”, pointed out early last month how the ethnically-diverse French Soccer Team won the 2018 World Cup, what with a significant number of their players of African origin.  He summarized it as a joke:  “Africa won the World Cup!”  This occasioned a letter of protest from Gerard Araud, Ambassador of France to the U.S (excerpt):

“As many of the players have already stated themselves, their parents may have come from another country, but the great majority of them, all but two out of 23 were born in France. They were educated in France. They learned to play soccer in France. They are French citizens. They’re proud of their country, France. The rich and various backgrounds of these players are a reflection of France’s diversity. France is indeed a cosmopolitan country. But every citizen is part of the French identity. Together they belong to the nation of France. Unlike in the United States of America, France does not refer to its citizens based on their race, religion, or origin. To us, there is no hyphenated identity. Roots are an individual reality. By calling them an African team, it seems like you’re denying their French-ness. This, even in jest, legitimizes the ideology which claims whiteness is the only definition of being French.”

Noah counterargued: “Why can’t they be both? Why is that duality only afforded a select group of people? Why can’t they not be African? What they’re arguing here is, ‘In order to be French, you have to erase everything that is African…?” So what are they saying when they say, ‘our culture’? So you cannot be French and African at the same time, which I vehemently disagree with… I love how African they are, and how French they are. I don’t take their French-ness away, but I also don’t think you have to take their their African-ness away.” He concluded, “And that is what I love about America. America is not a perfect country, but what I love about this place is that people can still celebrate their identity in their American-ness.”

COMMENT: Debito.org’s take on this is probably not hard to guess. We agree with Noah’s argument that hyphenated identities can, should, and in fact must exist, as a) hyphenated identities are a reality (people are diverse, and they shouldn’t have to suppress them for national goals of homogeneity); b) they are a personal choice, to include as one’s self-determined identity, and not the business of The State to police; and c) the alternative incurs too many abuses…

GOJ sets targets for importing even more NJ temp labor, Kyodo editorializes on how badly Japan needs NJ

Debito.org has been charting for decades just how much Japan reflexively distrusts NJ, and wants them in and out of here as soon as possible without settling down (hence no official immigration policy). Yet, in case you wonder why this is still an issue, here’s yet another article demonstrating why Japan NEEDS NJ labor, and intends to import even more (and as ever, temporarily):

Kyodo: The government has set a target of accepting 10,000 Vietnamese caregivers by the summer of 2020 to address a chronic labor shortage in the nursing sector, an official said Wednesday… Due to the country’s rapidly graying population, the labor ministry estimates a need for an additional 550,000 caregivers in fiscal 2025 compared to the fiscal 2016 total… Japan is also considering inviting caregivers from other countries, including Indonesia and Cambodia, the official said. As of March last year, there were roughly 1.9 million carers in Japan. The labor ministry estimates Japan will need about 2.45 million care workers in fiscal 2025, at which point the people belonging to the baby boomer generation born in the late 1940s will all be 75 years or older, meaning the need for nursing care service will almost certainly increase…

COMMENT: Oddly enough (or rather, not so oddly), Japan’s corporate sector is again asking for more cheap labor without taking into account that they are importing people, not raw materials. And of course, as argued below in the second Kyodo JT article on the same day, there is at best mumbled support for actual immigration.

This isn’t a sustainable long-term strategy, and everybody knows it. But they go through the kabuki for as long as possible. I daresay someday soon somebody will advocate Middle-Eastern-Oil-Countries’ style labor importation (where foreigners do all the work, and wind up outnumbering the leisured citizen class), since we’ve already had one major Japanese pundit crazily arguing for instituting South-African-style Apartheid in Japan. Except for one problem with ever considering an oil-economy model: Japan is not an oil economy. And again, Japan’s other silly policy balloon — robotizing society — doesn’t work either because robots don’t pay taxes.

In sum, Debito.org advocates that Japan consider a real immigration policy to make NJ migrants into permanent residents and citizens. It’s the only way, as myself and the UN (not to mention the Japanese Government itself!) have argued for decades, to avert Japan’s otherwise unavoidable demographic crisis.

NYT: Dr. Sacko, Kyoto Seika University’s African-Born President, claims no experience of racism in Japan. Just of “being treated differently because he doesn’t look Japanese”. Huh?

People in Japan are still accepting the antiquated notion of “race” as an abstract, biological concept. As opposed to a socially-constructed one that differs from society to society in its definitions and enforcement, or as a performative one that is created through the process of “differentiation”, “othering”, and subordination. So strong is this centuries-old belief that even Mali-born naturalized Japanese Dr. Oussouby Sacko, recently-elected president of Kyoto Seika University (congratulations!), made the bold statement in the New York Times that his differential treatment in Japan is not due to racism: “Dr. Sacko, a citizen of Japan for 16 years, says he is treated differently because he does not look Japanese. But he distinguished that from racism. ‘It’s not because you’re black,’ he said.”

Sorry, that’s not now modern definitions of racism work anymore, Dr. Sacko. Differential treatment of Visible Minorities in Japan is still a racialization process.  But I guess anyone can succumb to the predominant “Japan is not racist” groupthink if it is that strong.  Read the NYT article below for fuller context. But the questions remain:  Is this a form of Stockholm Syndrome?  A cynical attempt to parrot the narrative for the sake of professional advancement?  A lack of awareness and social-science training on the part of a person, despite fluency in several languages, with a doctorate in a non-social science (engineering/architecture)?  I’m open to suggestion.  Especially from Dr. Sacko himself, if he’s reading.

In any case, congratulations, Dr. Sacko.  But I would suggest you utilize your position also to raise awareness about the very real issues of racism in Japan, not attempt a mitigating or denialist approach.  

Kyodo/Mainichi: Japan increases “nuclear security” before 2019 Rugby World Cup, 2020 Olympics (again, insinuating NJ are potential terrorists)

Kyodo: As part of the country’s efforts to boost counterterrorism steps before hosting the major sporting events, the government will aim at enforcing related laws in September 2019, in time for the Rugby tourney kicking off on Sept. 20 that year… Hospitals and companies and the like would be required to install surveillance cameras near their storage sites for radioactive materials. The containers must be kept in rooms with solid doors and manuals and communication equipment must be provided for personnel to deal with intruders, to prevent such materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.

Amid the globally mounting threat of terrorism, the International Atomic Energy Agency advised countries in January 2011 to take measures to better manage radioactive materials. Tokyo, however, has yet to introduce these steps due to its need to deal with the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

COMMENT: Entry #715 in the continuing saga of Japan’s “Blame Game”, where Non-Japanese are falsely blamed for all manner of unrelated things.  The IAEA has recommended sensible precautions.  Yet the GOJ has taken its time to implement them since 2011.  It’s only suddenly seeing the light because of “intruders”, clearly in this case meaning NJ coming to Japan during the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  Clearly?  Yes.  You’re telling me Japan didn’t have issues of “intruders” before this?  It does have “terrorists”, but so far they’ve all been Japanese (i.e., Aum, The Red Army, etc).

As I wrote in my Japan Times column last week, “Japan invites over waves of foreign nationals (be they workers, tourists or diplomats), hate speech and reactionary policies emerge.”  I mentioned there about the weird new minpaku laws stopping AirBnB style homestays with the general public (because NJ might be ISIS terrorists or child molesters!).  This new policy has a similar Embedded Racism, and it’s unproblematized in the article above.

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE 112: “What about we stop it with the ‘whataboutism’?” (July 16, 2018)

JBC 112: These are troubling times for human rights activists. For 27 years I’ve been writing about civil, political and human rights for non-Japanese (NJ) and other minorities in Japan. And I’ve never been more confused.

Not least because the United States, the putative paragon of human rights, has been flouting them. Remember, this is a country so cocksure about its own record that its State Department offers annual “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” for each United Nations member. Yet President Donald Trump has been undermining international norms of law, justice and society — and with the glee of a super-villain.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, recently we’ve seen U.S. leadership abrogate numerous treaties, erode well-established security and trade regimes (such as NATO and the G7), cozy up to the world’s most authoritarian regimes and mimic their tactics, invoke the language of white nationalism to dehumanize minorities, and foment a culture of fear, loathing and vindictive reprisal towards anyone not in their ideological camp.

Speaking of camps, who would have ever imagined that the U.S. would put foreign children in cages? Create “tender-age” internment centers for toddlers separated from their families at the border? Force 3-year-olds to represent themselves in American immigration courts? Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy for undocumented migration and asylum seekers is so cruel that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights denounced it as “unconscionable” and “illegal” under international law. Hours later, the U.S. petulantly withdrew from the Human Rights Council, of which it had been a charter member since 1947.

In Just Be Cause’s view, the worst thing about these rapid-fire shocks to the system is not the confusion but the distraction. Presidential historian Jon Meacham, author of “The Soul of America,” pointed out how Trump “owns our mind space” in what he calls “the world’s longest hostage siege.” We are prisoners of a self-promoting celebrity so adept at managing news cycles that he sucks the oxygen from other issues.

So this is where we arrive at the big question of this column: How can JBC focus on human rights in Japan given the distractions in America?…

Read the rest of the column at:
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/07/15/issues/what-about-we-stop-it-with-the-whataboutism/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 16, 2018

Table of Contents:
CHANGES IN POLICY
1) Japan lowering age of adulthood to from age 20 to 18 in 2022: Also means Japan’s dual nationals now must declare by age 20, not 22.
2) Japan Times: Preferential visa system extended to foreign 4th-generation Japanese [sic]: Allowing even NJ minors to build Olympic facilities!
3) Reuters/Asahi: New “minpaku” law stifles homesharing with tourists, on grounds insinuating foreigners are “unsafe” for children walking to school! (or ISIS terrorists)
4) JT/JIJI: Japan plans new surveillance system to centralize NJ residents’ data. (Actually, it’s to justify police budgets as crime overall continues to drop.)
POLICY NEEDED
5) NHK World: Japan’s social media “rife” with fake rumors after recent Osaka quake, including foreigner “thefts and burglaries”, “looting convenience stores”. Again.
…and finally…
6) Tangent: What I Learned Today #1: Hitler showed a documentary to Scandinavia, and got them to surrender in 1940.

“Japanese Only” Osaka Nishinari-ku Izakaya Bar brags on Instagram about refusing foreign customers service for a laugh! (UPDATE: RETRACTED)

Here’s what you get when you allow places legally to refuse service to Non-Japanese, as Japan does. Eventually it becomes so normalized (after all, it’s been more than twenty years since Japan signed the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination, and we still have no law against racial discrimination) that people no longer even bother to feel any form of guilt or shame about it.

UPDATE: A NJ CUSTOMER OF MARUFUKU CONTACTED DEBITO.ORG TO SAY THAT NJ CUSTOMERS ARE IN FACT ALLOWED. FALSE ALARM. PLEASE GO HAVE A MEAL AT THIS ESTABLISHMENT.

Name: Marufuku Honten (Izakaya bar)
Address: 1-6-16 Taishi Nishinari-ku Osaka 557-0002
Phone: 050-5890-9648 or 06-6641-8848

Japan lowering age of adulthood to from age 20 to 18 in 2022: Also means Japan’s dual nationals now must declare by age 20, not 22.

In mid-April the Japanese Government did something rather landmark: For the first time in more than a century, it passed a bill lowering the age of adulthood by two years; meaning that by April 2022, people fresh out of high school (or some who haven’t graduated yet) can now vote and apply for credit cards/loans (although still they cannot drink, smoke or gamble; that permission stays the same at age 20). It also means that the criminals classified as “juvenile offenders” (with more lenient penalties) can now be tried as adults, and that both men and women can now equally marry at age 18. More in the Japan Times at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/13/national/crime-legal/japan-enacts-law-lower-adulthood-age-18/

Where this matters to Debito.org is how Japan’s international citizens are to be treated. Before, legally Japanese with two citizenships (e.g., Japanese children of international marriages) would have to choose one (since Japan does not permit dual nationality) at age twenty, with a two-year grace period. Now that requirement has likewise been shifted down to 18 with a grace period up to age 20.

For those who are facing that choice, Debito.org, in its HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS AND IMMIGRANTS, recommends that dual nationals declare their citizenship as “Japanese” and keep quietly renewing their non-Japanese passport. There is no way for the Japanese Government to force you to surrender your foreign passport (as it is the property of the foreign government), or to get information on your citizenship status from foreign governments.  Be advised. Nothing has changed in this regard except that youths have to make an identity choice at a more youthful age.

Speaking of that quiet option to choose both citizenships, let me steer Debito.org readers to an insightful Japan Times feature that came out a few months ago, including interviews of Japan’s international children and their reactions and strategies. http://features.japantimes.co.jp/dualcitizenship/

What I Learned Today #1: Hitler showed a documentary to Scandinavia, and got them to surrender in 1940

As has been my hobby whenever possible since 1989, I have been reading through LIFE Magazines from the stacks of libraries from the very first issue under TIME’s Henry Luce in 1936. Because for decades I was nowhere near a library that would have these issues available, I’ve still only read up to 1940. But it’s been a wonderful journey, watching the rise of Hitler and Mussolini, watching the Spanish Civil War grow ugly and destroy Iberia, watching Japan change from a curiosity to an enemy, and seeing the swirl of WWII develop in real time, with only me as the reader knowing where things would historically end up.

What I Learned Today from LIFE Magazine was that Hitler actually showed a documentary named Feuertaufe (“Baptism of Fire”) on April 5, 1940, simultaneously to the governments of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden via German embassies before invading them on April 9. The film depicted the destruction of Poland and its people for the cruelest purposes possible: As a warning of what would happen to them if they got in the way of the Blitzkrieg. The film had the intended effect: The Nazis walked in and seized capital cities, according to Leland Stowe, who filed a long dispatch from Oslo in the May 6, 1940 issue of LIFE. With the occupation of Scandinavia, Germany was poised to invade Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France only one month later. Believe it or not, you can see Feuertaufe in its entirety here.

Reuters/Asahi: New “minpaku” law stifles homesharing with tourists, on grounds insinuating foreigners are “unsafe” for children walking to school! (or ISIS terrorists)

Reuters/Asahi: Japan’s new home-sharing law was meant to ease a shortage of hotel rooms, bring order to an unregulated market and offer more lodging options for foreign visitors ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Instead, the law is likely to stifle Airbnb Inc. and other home-sharing businesses when it is enacted in June and force many homeowners to stop offering their services, renters and experts say…

Local governments, which have final authority to regulate services in their areas, are imposing even more severe restrictions, citing security or noise concerns. For example, Tokyo’s Chuo Ward, home to the tony Ginza shopping district, has banned weekday rentals on grounds that allowing strangers into apartment buildings during the week could be unsafe… Similarly, Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya Ward will permit home-sharing services in residential areas only during school holidays, with certain exceptions, so children won’t meet strangers on their way to class… “Restricting home rental due to vague concerns that foreigners are unsafe or that it is a strange practice goes against the concept of the new law,” said Soichi Taguchi, an official at the government’s Tourism Agency.

COMMENT: Here’s a new twist to the “Blame Game” often played whenever there’s a foreigner involved with any economy in Japan.  I started talking about this in earnest in my Japan Times column of August 28, 2007, where I pointed out how NJ were being falsely blamed for crime, SDF security breaches, unfair advantages in sports, education disruptions, shipping disruptions, and even labor shortages (!!).  That soon expanded to false accusations of workplace desertion (remember the fictitious “flyjin” phenomenon of 2011?) and looting, despoiling sumo and fish markets, and even for crime committed by Japanese!

Now we have recycled claims of disruptive NJ tourism.  But as submitter JDG points out, this time it’s getting mean.  In the same vein of a World Cup 2002 Miyagi Prefectural Assemblyman’s claim that visiting foreigners would rape Japanese women and sire children, we have official insinuations at the local government level that renting your apartment or room out to NJ would be “unsafe” — not only for Japanese in the neighborhood, but for children walking to school in Shibuya!  (Or, according to the JT update below, NJ might be ISIS terrorists.) At this point, this is hate speech.

JT/JIJI: Japan plans new surveillance system to centralize NJ residents’ data. (Actually, it’s to justify police budgets as crime overall continues to drop.)

JIJI: Japan plans to set up a system to centrally manage information on foreign residents to prevent overstayers from growing as the national labor crunch worsens, officials said. The Justice Ministry will play a key role in handling the information, which will include records on employment, tax payments and marriage that is currently being separately managed by central and local government agencies. The system is intended to strengthen government surveillance of overstayers as the nation imports more foreign labor to ease a severe nationwide labor shortage. As part of the effort, a new organization might be set up within the ministry to collect and analyze information on foreign residents.

DEBITO.ORG READER JDG: Government plans to take responsibility for ‘managing’ NJ away from city halls and ‘centralize’ the management of all NJ by the Justice Ministry in order to ‘increase surveillance’. To this end, the police will have access to all NJ info; addresses, employment, tax, marital status, visa information, etc. Imagine that the police will now demand to see your residence card so that they can radio the office and check all your details. ‘Increased surveillance’? Why are NJ being surveilled at all to start with? Here’s a top tip for the police; detect crime, and then investigate it.

[Yet according to this Irish Times article, there may in fact be too many cops in Japan vis-a-vis the ever-decreasing amount of crime.] With fewer crimes, and more police than ever before, Japanese police are getting ‘inventive’ in order to look busy; investigating crimes way beyond the level of resources that the crime warrants, and setting up intensive sting operations for minor offenses. The police are looking to criminalize people in order to defend their budgets. I guess the Japanese won’t mind hundreds of officers and millions of yen being squandered in operations that end up with NJ being harassed until the police can charge them with any petty crimes. Given Japan’s huge national debt, not enough crime, too many police, should equal some lay offs. But TIJ!

Also, if they’re so overstaffed, how come it takes them six months to raid big companies like Kobe steel who admitted defrauding their customers for years with sub-standard product data manipulation? How come they didn’t send a truck load of cops straight round to the finance ministry to investigate dodgy land sales and public document falsification? Nah, got to collar that guy who overstayed his visa!

NHK World: Japan’s social media “rife” with fake rumors after recent Osaka quake, including foreigner “thefts and burglaries”, “looting convenience stores”. Again.

NHK World: Osaka prefectural officials are urging people to keep calm and refrain from sharing unsubstantiated information on social media after Monday’s earthquake. […] Messages inciting discrimination against foreigners living in Japan are also spreading. One post advises people to watch out for thefts and burglaries by foreign residents. Another says foreigners are not accustomed to quakes, so they will start looting convenience stores or rushing to airports.

COMMENT:  It seems like earthquakes in Japan (although depicted as orderly, stoic affairs in Western media) are for some internet denizens a call to create a live-action version of the movie “The Purge”.  Debito.org has reported numerous times in the past on how false rumors of NJ residents have spread through Japan’s social media — to the point where even the generally “hands-off-because-it’s-free-speech-and-besides-it-only-affects-foreigners” Japanese government has had to intervene to tamp down on it (since, according to a 2017 Mainichi poll, 80% of people surveyed believed the rumors!).  I’m glad to see the Osaka government is intervening here too.  

By the way, if you think I’m exaggerating by making a connection to movie “The Purge” in this blog, recall your history:  The massacre of Korean Residents in the wake of the 1923 Kantou Earthquake was precisely “The Purge”.  And what happened in the aftermath of the Fukushima Multiple Disasters of March 11, 2011 (where foreigners were being blamed online for all manner of unconnected events, including the earthquake itself) was similarly redolent (albeit less deadly, thank heavens).  As were mudslides in Hiroshima back in 2014.  And that’s before we get to then-newly-elected racist Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro’s famous call in the year 2000 for a priori roundups of “evil foreigners committing heinous crimes” in the event of a natural disaster.  So much for the stoicism.

Japan Times: Preferential visa system extended to foreign 4th-generation Japanese [sic]: Allowing even NJ minors to build Olympic facilities!

JT: Foreign fourth-generation descendants of Japanese will be able to work in Japan for up to five years under a preferential visa program to be introduced this summer, the Justice Ministry said Friday. The new program applies to ethnic Japanese between 18 and 30 who have basic Japanese skills equivalent to the N4 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Applicants will also be required to have support from residents they know in Japan, such as family members or employers, who can get in touch with them at least once a month.

Among those planning to apply are people who spent their childhoods in Japan with their parents before losing their jobs during the 2008 global financial crisis. Some of their parents later returned to Japan, but their grown-up fourth-generation offspring could not because the visa system only grants preferential full-time working rights and semi-permanent status to second- and third-generation descendants. Under the new system, minors will be able to work. The new program begins on July 1, and the Justice Ministry expects around 4,000 descendants of Japanese emigrants from such places as Brazil and Peru to enter Japan each year. […]

Critics are skeptical. They say the new immigrants could be used as cheap labor at factories or construction sites in dire need of labor, especially ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “I believe one of the reasons behind the change has to do with the Olympics,” said Kiyoto Tanno, a professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University who is an expert on foreign labor issues. “But such demand could disappear. That’s why, I guess, the ministry placed a cap on the number of years.”

COMMENTS: As noted in the article, those getting this special visa are the children of the Nikkei South Americans who got sweetheart “Returnee Visas” due to racialized blood conceits (being Wajin, i.e., with Japanese roots) back in the day.  However, Wajin status only counted as long as the economy was good. As soon as it wasn’t, they were bribed to return “home” no matter how many years or decades they’d contributed, and forfeit their pension contributions. While this is nice on the surface for reuniting Nikkei families (now that Japan has been courting the Nikkei to come back for renewed exploitation and disrespect), now they want these children, many of whom grew up as an illiterate underclass in Japan with no right (as foreigners) to compulsory education in Japan, to come back and work again starting July 1. Even work as minors!

The big picture is this:   The GOJ will simply never learn that having a racialized labor policy (where Japanese bloodlines were theoretically a way to bring in low-impact “foreigners”, while Non-Wajin were expendable no matter what — in theory; turns out all foreigners are expendable) simply doesn’t work. It doesn’t keep a labor market young and vibrant, and in fact winds up exacerbating ethnic tensions because migrants who assimilate are not rewarded with immigrant status, with equal residency or civil/human rights. If there’s no incentive to learn about Japan well enough to “become Japanese”, then Japan demographically will simply continue to age. And as my book “Embedded Racism” concludes, that means, quite simply, Japan’s ultimate downfall as a society as we know it.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 10, 2018

Table of Contents:
POLICY PAROXYSMS THAT HURT PEOPLE
1) JT and Nikkei: Japan to offer longer stays for “Trainees”, but with contract lengths that void qualifying for Permanent Residency
2) Kyoto City Govt. subway advert has Visible Minority as poster girl for free AIDS/STDs testing. Wrong on many levels, especially statistically.

GOOD NEWS, SOMETIMES TAMPED DOWN
3) Mainichi: Zainichi Korean’s hate speech lawsuit ends in her favor. Bravo. But Mainichi plays word games, mistranslates “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu) into “ethnic discrimination” in English!
4) Japan Supreme Court enforces Hague Convention on Int’l Child Abductions (for Japanese claimants). Yet Sakura TV claims Hague is for “selfish White men” trying to entrap women from “uncivilized countries” as “babysitters”
5) Asahi: Setagaya Ward plans to battle inter alia racial, ethnic discrimination (in specific) in a local ordinance. Progressive steps!

MORE EXCLUSIONISM
6) Sapporo Consadole soccer player and former England Team striker Jay Bothroyd refused entry to Hokkaido Classic golf course for being “not Japanese”
7) “Japanese Only” sign on Izakaya Bar “100” (Momosaku 百作) in Asakusa, Tokyo
8 ) “Japanese Only” diving and hiking tour company in Tokashikimura, Okinawa: “Begin Diving Buddies”
9) “Japanese Only” tourist information booth in JR Beppu Station

… and finally…
10) My Japan Times column JBC 111: “White Supremacists and Japan: A Love Story” (March 8, 2018)

JT and Nikkei: Japan to offer longer stays for “Trainees”, but with contract lengths that void qualifying for Permanent Residency

JT: Japan is weighing the creation of a new status of residence that would allow technical interns from abroad to stay longer in the country, as part of efforts to tackle severe labor shortages, sources said Wednesday. But interns’ families would not be allowed to enter Japan — a provision meant to prevent the creation of the new status from leading to discussions on the sensitive issue of immigration, the sources said. The status would allow those who have completed a five-year technical intern training program and meet certain requirements to stay and work for up to five additional years, the sources said. […]

But according to a Nikkei business daily report, trainees will still have to return to their home after their programs end, and then apply for the new residence status that would allow them to work again in Japan for a further five years. This is apparently aimed at keeping trainees and interns from gaining eligibility to apply for permanent residency, for which one of the prerequisites is to be living in Japan for 10 years or more.

COMMENT: As is within character since the early 1990s, Japan wants NJ workers to make up for labor shortages in Japan’s workforce, but remains unwilling to allow NJ migrant workers to become immigrants: to access the benefits of their labors and years of investment in Japan’s economy and society by allowing them to live in Japan. No, once again, Japan would rather leach off the best years of NJs’ productive lives and then send them home. Except now GOJ policy explicitly wants them to stick around and be exploited ever longer (without their families, and with a built-in contract cut-off before they can qualify for Permanent Residency), again under the guise of the deadly “Trainee” slave-wage labor program.

Sapporo Consadole player and former England Team soccer striker Jay Bothroyd refused entry to Hokkaido Classic golf course for being “not Japanese”

Here is some foreshadowing.  Famous football player Jay Bothroyd, who played for the English national team, and now plays for Sapporo Consadole, has faced a “Japanese Only” golf course in Hokkaido: a famous one called  the Hokkaido Classic.  (The very course was even designed by a foreigner!)

Daily Express (UK): “The 36-year-old Arsenal academy graduate, who made his only appearance for England in 2010, joined J1 League club Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo last July. But the striker was left stunned after he was refused entry to his local golf course on the northernmost of Japan’s major islands – the Hokkaido Classic – which was designed by golf legend and 17 time major tournament winner Jack Nicklaus. The exclusive par-72 course charges £338 for a weekend round of golf between June and July, with its fees website page stating that non-Japanese players must be accompanied by a club member.”

Comment: This exclusionism is somewhat old hat for people who have been following the Otaru Onsens Case and the other “Japanese Only” places in Hokkaido and nationwide for all these decades.  But when it starts happening to famous people (such as those playing for local Japanese teams), you know the bigots have lost their common sense from a public relations point of view.  Bring on the 2020 Olympics!  There will be lots more “foreign” athletes to target then!  Not to mention their supporters.

“Japanese Only” sign on Izakaya Bar “100” (Momosaku 百作) in Asakusa, Tokyo

Japan’s sometimes inhospitable hospitality industry has yet another example of exclusionism. Will we legally have this stopped by the 2020 Olympics, or will Japan as a society allow these people to be an embarrassment?

KD: I spotted a Japanese only sign near our Air BNB in Asakusa: “SORRY, JAPANESE ONLY” (Japanese version: None of our staff at this establishment speak foreign languages, so we refuse entry to all people from overseas (kaigai no kata)). I took it down and they put a new one up the next day. Details: Name: 100 (izakaya) (Momosaku 百作)
Address: 4 Chome-7-12 Asakusa, Taitō-ku, Tōkyō-to 111-0032. Picture of sign and front attached. I was wondering what I could write in Japanese as a review on Google Maps to make potential visitors aware that the izakaya has a racially discriminatory policy.

Book “Embedded Racism in Japan”, acclaimed as “important, courageous and challenging” and “a must-read” by prominent academic journals, now discounted to $34.99 if bought through publisher directly, using promo code LEX30AUTH16

Acclaimed book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” has been discounted 30% for a limited time to $34.99 in paperback and Kindle if bought through through my publisher (Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield) directly. Use promo code LEX30AUTH16. (Japan residents have reported getting the book for $40 including quick shipping.)

Academic reviews have been positive. Prominent Japanologist Tessa Morris-Suzuki has reviewed it as “important, courageous and challenging”, the Japan Studies Association of Canada has heralded it as “an important contribution to geography, cultural and area studies”, Social Science Journal Japan calls it “must-read text… highly recommended reading to anyone… who is interested in Japan’s future”, and an American Sociological Association journal review notes it as “a brave critique of Japanese society and its failure to look outward in its demographic and economic development … as it makes an important contribution for those wishing to understand racism in Japan better”

According to WorldCat, more than 130 of the world’s major research libraries (including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, Columbia…) have made “Embedded Racism” part of their collections. Get your discounted copy by going to https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781498513906/Embedded-Racism-Japan’s-Visible-Minorities-and-Racial-Discrimination and use promo code LEX30AUTH16.
More information and reviews on the book at http://www.debito.org/embeddedracism.html.
Download a book flyer and order form at http://www.debito.org/EmbeddedRacismPaperbackflyer.pdf

“Japanese Only” diving and hiking tour company in Tokashikimura, Okinawa: “Begin Diving Buddies”

In addition to the hundreds of “Japanese Only” businesses found on the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments (the fieldwork for book “Embedded Racism”), here is an Okinawan diving and hiking tourist agency called “Begin Diving Buddies” on a remote southern island called Tokashiki (35 mins by boat from Naha, Okinawa Prefecture) that refuses all “foreign” divers or hikers.

Their excuse: “safety reason and regulation” (or more simply in the Japanese, just “safety” (anzenjou), since there are NO regulations which blanket refuse foreigners in specific for wanting to dive or walk in the mountains).

“Dear foreign customer, we don’t give you service due to safety reason and regulation.
We are appreciated your understanding.”(申し訳ありません。 安全上の理由により,外国の方はお受けしておりません)
Begin Diving Buddies’ contact details are included. Feel free to give them a piece of your mind.  You can also also let officialdom know as well.  Here is Tokashiki-mura’s official website, and Okinawa’s official tourism writeup on the place.

Mainichi: Zainichi Korean’s hate speech lawsuit ends in her favor. Bravo. But Mainichi plays word games, mistranslates “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu) into “ethnic discrimination” in English!

Freelance writer Lee Sin Hae, 46, filed a lawsuit with the Osaka District Court in August 2014 against [officially-acknowledged hate group] “Zainichi tokken o yurusanai shimin no kai” (“Citizens’ group that does not forgive special rights for Korean residents of Japan,” or “Zaitokukai”) and its then chairman, Makoto Sakurai, demanding 5.5 million yen in compensation. Lee alleged that the group defamed her by calling her “an old Korean hag” during rallies in the Sannomiya district of Kobe and “a lawless Korean” on Twitter.

The district court ruled in September 2016 that Zaitokukai had made the statements with the intent to incite and intensify discrimination against Korean residents of Japan, and ordered the group to pay Lee 770,000 yen in damages. According to Lee’s attorney, in June 2017, the Osaka High Court became the first court to recognize that a plaintiff had been subjected to “composite discrimination” — in Lee’s case, ethnic and gender discrimination.  However, the high court upheld the lower court’s compensation amount of 770,000 yen. Zaitokukai appealed, but the Supreme Court’s Second Petty Bench turned down the appeal late last year, finalizing the Osaka High Court’s decision.

Submitter JK comments: Now one of the things I find curious in the article is that we’re introduced to so-called “composite discrimination” (複合差別) which, in the Japanese version of the article is defined as racial discrimination (人種差別) plus “gender discrimination” (女性差別; I think ‘sexism’ would be a better choice of words). However, in the English version, “composite discrimination” is defined as “**ethnic** and gender discrimination”.

Debito comments:  The mistranslation is very indicative.  My take is that one of three things happened:

1) The mistranslation was accidental, because Japanese society is so blind to the problem of “racial discrimination” in Japan (as Debito.org has demonstrated, it’s taken decades for it to be explicitly called “jinshu sabetsu” in the Japanese) that editorial standards have reflexively reverse-engineered the language to make it “ethnic” all over again.
2) The mistranslation was deliberate, because Japan has no races, therefore “racial discrimination” cannot exist in Japan (after all, holds the liberal Japanese view, “Japanese and Koreans are the same race, therefore discrimination against Koreans isn’t racial; it’s ethnic”).  More on that below.  Or,
3) The mistranslation was subterfuge, because the translator at the Mainichi happened to be one of those White Samurai types, who personally doesn’t see “racism” as a problem in Japan (despite the original Japanese wording), and sneakily changed things to protect his Japan from the outside world.

“Japanese Only” tourist information booth in JR Beppu Station

DB: Are you aware there is a “Japanese only” information booth at Beppu station? My partner and I walked in to get some information about a local onsen travel route. The woman sitting at the available desk basically refused to deal with us, and told us to go to the desk for foreigners. She initially pretended that the desk was for Japanese language help only. When we pointed out that we could speak Japanese (we had been the whole time) she shifted her excuse. The whole time she leant way back in her chair, and spoke in an extremely dismissively rude tone. In six years living in Japan I have never been treated as poorly.

After we gave up and walking out half in shock I noticed the signage. The ambiguity of “Japanese” here covers the apparent reality that they actually will refuse to serve anybody not visibly Japanese regardless of language ability. I’ll be sending a formal complaint later, but I thought I’d send you the story. Here’s some photos attached, taken April 6, 2016.

Racial Profiling by Japanese Police in Tokyo Azabu: Uprizine’s Interview with Austin Freeman, a student at Temple University Japan

Debito.org has talked for years about racial profiling by the Japanese police (see for example here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, not to mention demanding urine samples from “foreigners” in Roppongi only; seriously). Clearly it’s still going on. The issue here, however, is how institutions that are supposed to support and inform NJ in Japan of their rights, options, and protections in Japan (in this case, Temple University in Japan) are apparently not doing so. Read on.

Japan Supreme Court enforces Hague Convention on Int’l Child Abductions (for Japanese claimants). Yet Sakura TV claims Hague is for “selfish White men” trying to entrap women from “uncivilized countries” as “babysitters”

We had an important Supreme Court ruling come down earlier this month, where an international custody dispute between two Japanese divorcees living in different countries resulted in the custodial parent overseas being awarded custody of the child, as per the Hague Convention on International Child Abductions. (See Japan Times article excerpt below.)

Debito.org has commented at length on this issue (and I have even written a novel based upon true stories of Japan’s safe haven for international child abductions). Part of the issue is that due to the insanity of Japan’s Family Registry (koseki) System, after a divorce only ONE parent (as in, one family) gets total custody of the child, with no joint custody or legally-guaranteed visitation rights. This happens to EVERYONE who marries, has children, and divorces in Japan (regardless of nationality). It even happened to me.

But what makes this Supreme Court decision somewhat inapplicable to anyone but Wajin Japanese is the fact that other custody issues under the Hague (which Japan only signed kicking and screaming, and with enough caveats to lead to probable nonenforcement), which involved NON-Japanese parents, faced a great deal of racism and propaganda, even from the Japanese government.

As evidence, consider this TV segment (with English subtitles) on Japan’s ultraconservative (PM Abe Shinzo is a frequent contributor) Sakura Channel TV network (firmly established with the “present Japan positively no matter what” NHK World network). It contains enough bald-facedly anti-foreign hypotheticals (including the requisite stereotype that foreigners are violent, and Japanese are trying to escape DV) to inspire entire sociological articles, and the incredible claim that Japan’s court system is just appeasing White people and forcing a “selfish” alien system upon Japan.

The best bits were when banner commentator Takayama Masayuki claimed a) White men just marry women from “uncivilized” countries until they find better women (such as ex-girlfriends from high school) and then divorce them, capturing them as “babysitters” for once-a-week meet-ups with their kids (which Takayama overtly claims is the “premise” of the Hague Convention in the first place); and b) (which was not translated properly in the subtitles) where Takayama at the very end cites Mori Ohgai (poet, soldier, medical doctor and translator who wrote sexualized fiction about a liaison between a Japanese man and a German woman) to say, “play around with White WOMEN and then escape back home.” (Who’s being selfish, not to mention hypocritical, now?) Take yet another plunge into this racialized sexpit of debate, where the racism doesn’t even bother to embed itself.

Asahi: Setagaya Ward plans to battle inter alia racial, ethnic discrimination (in specific) in a local ordinance. Progressive steps!

Asahi: Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward has drafted an ordinance designed to protect racial, ethnic and sexual minorities from discriminatory practices, a move hailed by human rights experts as an “advanced measure.” The ward was one of the first local governments in Japan to recognize same-sex marriages, and the draft ordinance covers sexual minorities.

However, the draft specifically notes that its target also includes discrimination based on nationality and race. Under the plan, the ward will establish a committee that will handle public complaints about discrimination and advise the mayor on what measures to take. A standing committee of the Setagaya Ward assembly approved the draft on Feb. 26. The assembly is expected to adopt the ordinance at a plenary session on March 2, and it will likely take effect in April.

COMMENT: Setagaya-ku is trying to do what Tottori Prefecture tried to do in 2005 (which was, pass Japan’s first ordinance specifically against racial discrimination, which is still NOT illegal in Japan; alas, Tottori UNpassed it months later). To be sure, Setagaya-ku’s goals are obscured behind the typical slogans of “discrimination due to differences in culture”, and there isn’t even a mention of “racial discrimination” (rendered as jinshu sabetsu) in this Setagaya-ku pamphlet briefing on the issue from last September.  But baby steps, and the issue of “racial discrimination” (which has long been denied even as existing in Japan) has had domestic media traction as an actual, existing problem because of Setagaya-ku. Let’s hope this serves as a template for other legislative bodies this time.

Kyoto City Govt. subway advert has Visible Minority as poster girl for free AIDS/STDs testing. Wrong on many levels, especially statistically.

The Kyoto Government is advertising via subway posters free AIDS and STD testing.  Good.  But check out what image they’re using for the face of sexually-transmitted diseases:

Submitter XY: Please see the attached photo, snapped on a Kyoto metro yesterday afternoon. The only non-Japanese face visible in the metro car (other than mine) is on an advert for AIDS and STD testing by Kyoto City Government. I guess they could not imagine asking a Yamato nadeshiko to be the poster-girl for AIDS testing.

COMMENT: Why are we targeting a Visible-Minority demographic with this ad?  As XY says, that’s the embedded racism of this campaign.  My suspicion is that they are targeting Japan’s sex workers, and a frequent association is that any foreigner imported for this task has diseases.  This poster merely fortifies that.  

And it’s wrong.  According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, in 2015, non-Japanese people accounted for the minority of 108 (88 male; 20 female) out of 1,006 AIDS cases in Japan (and homosexual men, not women, remain the largest affected demographic). Plus don’t forget that historically, a significant number of AIDS cases in Japan were the result not of sexual contact, but of HIV-tainted blood recklessly given to hemophiliacs *by the Japanese government* in the late 1980s. That’s why this poster is visually misrepresenting the issue on many levels.

My Japan Times column JBC 111: “White Supremacists and Japan: A Love Story” (March 8, 2018)

WHITE SUPREMACISTS AND JAPAN: A LOVE STORY
JBC 111 for the Japan Times Community page
By Debito Arudou, Thursday, March 8, 2018
Opening paragraphs:

The Washington Post reported something interesting on Feb. 14: A farm put up a sign saying “Resist White Supremacy.” And it incurred a surprising amount of online backlash. Calls for boycotts. Accusations and recriminations. One-star Facebook reviews that had nothing to do with their products.

The article pondered: Who, other than a White Supremacist, would object to a message rejecting white supremacy? But if you’ve ever protested racism in Japan, or read comments sections in Japanese media, you’ll know these reactions have been old hat for nearly two decades. In fact, this column will argue that online intolerance and attack have been Japan exports…

Read the rest in the JT at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/03/07/issues/white-supremacists-japan-love-story/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 7, 2018

Table of Contents:
OLYMPICS ISSUES
1) Wash Post: South Korea’s naturalized athletes in the PyeongChang Olympics; beyond treated as mercenaries?
2) Wash Post: “NBC apologizes to Koreans for Olympics coverage praising Japan’s brutal occupation”, rightly so
GOOD STATS AT LAST
3) Kyodo: Official stats on NJ “Trainee” work deaths & accidents; 2x higher than J worker deaths, and likely understated
4) JT: “Japan’s NJ workers reach record 1.28 million with labor crunch”; more grist for the grinder
BAD STATS AS USUAL
5) JT: “Coming of age: 1 in 8 new adults in Tokyo are not Japanese”; underanalyzed stats posing as media peg
6) Hawaii’s false alarm missile attack of Jan 13, 2018. JT reports: “Hawaii residents spooked but Japanese sanguine”. Poor reporting and social science.
FIGHTING BACK
7) Asahi: Japanese living abroad plan unprecedented lawsuit demanding dual citizenship. Bravo!
8 ) New Years Eve 2017 TV Blackface Debate in Japan (again): Referential Links
… and finally…
9) A Top Ten for 2017: Debito’s Japan Times JBC 110: “In 2017, Japan woke up to the issue of discrimination”

Asahi: Japanese living abroad plan unprecedented lawsuit demanding dual citizenship. Bravo!

Here’s something interesting and something to support if you are a Japanese living abroad — the maintenance of your legal identity in the form of dual nationality.

The Asahi reports that several Japanese citizens in Europe unprecedentedly plan to sue the government to abolish the law forcing Japanese to pick one nationality if they take another. Some emigres also want to undo the damage and restore their Japanese nationality.

Naturally, Debito.org wholeheartedly supports this effort.  For too long the embedded binary of “you’re either Japanese or you’re not” (an Ichi-ro or a Ze-ro) has done untold social damage to people of multiple ethnicities and identities.  Nobody in power has ever really listened to them, so now it’s time for the monoethnic Japanese abroad, who want inclusivity for their newfound diversity, to take up the charge.  

Here’s hoping they get heard.  Because others who have championed this sort of thing (such as MP Kouno Taro nearly a decade ago) got nowhere even in their own ruling political party.  Enough Japanese already have dual.  Let’s have the law reflect reality (and not institutionalize identity policing) at last.

Wash Post: South Korea’s naturalized athletes in the PyeongChang Olympics; beyond treated as mercenaries?

WaPo: In a bid to upgrade its hockey program in fast-forward, one of the world’s most homogenous countries has created one of the most foreign-heavy Olympic teams of all time. Among 25 players on the South Korean men’s hockey team in PyeongChang, seven were born in other countries, including six in Canada. South Korea has 19 foreign-born athletes competing for it in these Olympics, most of any country, with hockey accounting for the largest share. […] The imported men’s players are less mercenaries than converts, granted naturalized Korean citizenship even though they have no Korean blood. To get that opportunity, they had to play at least two seasons for Korean clubs in a pan-Asian hockey league. And then meet with national hockey officials. And then national Olympic officials. And then the country’s Ministry of Justice.

Oh, and then they had to take a test and sing the national anthem. “Then, you find out if you pass or not,” said Eric Regan, a defenseman from Ontario, who naturalized in 2016. “I was with Matt Dalton, the goalie, at the time. We went through the process together and we both passed along with, I think, two other biathletes that day — both Russians. A month later we’re playing in the world championships for Team Korea. It was wild.”

COMMENT: Although breaking down blood-determined national borders in the name of sports participation is a positive development, it is unclear at this point how much of a dent these naturalized athletes will make on the national self-image of what it means “to be a Korean”.  If they don’t win (which, sadly, they won’t), then it’s doubtful they will be anything more than an unsuccessful means to an end, an asterisk in the annals of Korean sports.  

But if they are accepted nevertheless as “true Koreans” (as opposed to mercenaries; and there is a positive precedent with naturalized citizen Lee Charm/Bernhard Quandt becoming South Korea’s National Tourism Organization leader in 2009) Debito.org will be among the first to cheer.

Japan too has made “instant Japanese” for the purpose of strengthening Japan’s international sports showings, and the fielding of athletes of international roots who didn’t make teams overseas.  And there have been some wins on their part.  But the outlook is not good:  Beyond someone like the (legendary but nasty) baseball player Oh Sadaharu, and some famous Sumo wrestlers (who nowadays aren’t even officially counted as “Japanese” anyway), who remembers them?

Wash Post: “NBC apologizes to Koreans for Olympics coverage praising Japan’s brutal occupation”, rightly so

It’s Olympics time again, and, as long-time readers know, I’m a fan of the athleticism but not the nationalism (and inevitable comparisons of strengths and weaknesses along national lines) that is endemic to bordered sports. Too many people compete for glory as representatives of whole societies, not for individual bests, and that particularly takes a toll on Japan’s athletes.

I’ve been a relentless critic of Japan’s sports commentary, but now that I’m watching it in the US, fair game. I was quite incandescent with rage at times listening to NBC’s stupid, overgeneralizing, and often borderline racist commentary of the Opening Ceremonies. Fortunately, I was not alone, and Korea protested not only the overgeneralizations, but also the ahistorical comments that were ill-considered. Fortunately, NBC apologized (and told the press that the offending commentator’s “assignment is over”), which is better than I’ve ever seen NHK do for its nasty coverage. Here’s the Washington Post on the issue.

WaPo: [NBC’s network’s analyst, Joshua Cooper] Ramo’s commentary amounted to bland trivia about Asia “seemingly plucked from hastily written social studies reports” — such as his observation that white and blue flags stood for North and South Korean unity. Variety compared his commentary to a Wikipedia article.

But Ramo’s big misstep came when he noticed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan in the crowd and offered what he knew about the country’s history with Korea. Japan was “a country which occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945,” Ramo said, correctly (though he did not mention that historians say the Japanese army forced tens of thousands of Koreans into sex slavery.) “But,” Ramo continued, “every Korean will tell you that Japan as a cultural and technological and economic example has been so important to their own transformation.” This was definitely not correct.

Kyodo: Official stats on NJ “Trainee” work deaths & accidents; 2x higher than J worker deaths, and likely understated

Finally, a quarter-century into the horrible government-sponsored NJ “Trainee” program, the GOJ is now releasing actual hard statistics about the people it is killing.  And you can see why it took so long–the numbers are shameful enough to warrant a cover-up:  Between 2014 and 2017, 22 NJ died (almost all due to workplace accidents, but at least one was probably being worked to death).  This is more than twice the on-job fatality rate for J workers.  There were also 475 cases of serious accidents to NJ “Trainees”, and, as activists point out below, this figure is probably understated.  

A contrarian might argue that NJ are just accident-prone.  But as the article describes below, working conditions are simply awful, not to mention generally illegal.  And as as Debito.org has pointed out repeatedly over the decades, “the program is rife with abuse: exploitation under sweatshop conditions, restrictions on movement, unsafe workplaces, uncompensated work and work-site injuries, bullying and violence, physical and mental abuse, sexual harassment, death from overwork and suicide — even slavery and murder. Things have not improved in recent years. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry announced that about 70 percent of some 5,200 companies that accepted trainees in 2015 violated laws, and in 2016 a record 4,004 employers engaged in illegal activities. The program is so rotten that even the United Nations demanded Japan scrap it.” (From Japan Times, Jan. 3, 2018, Item 4)

Anyway, let’s celebrate that we have some official statistics at last, for without them, it’s easy to see why this program can keep going for a quarter-century with little political traction to improve it.

JT: “Japan’s NJ workers reach record 1.28 million with labor crunch”; more grist for the grinder

Kyodo reports that there are more NJ laborers in Japan than ever (1.28 million, of the 2.3 million total NJ registered), and this is largely due to the temporary NJ “Trainees” being brought in under Japan’s “no unskilled labor” unskilled-labor visa policy.  

The big news is that Chinese and now Vietnamese are the two biggest foreign worker nationalities in Japan (I assume the 338,950 Zainichi Korean Special Permanent Residents were not counted as “foreign workers” here), followed by Filipinos and Brazilians (yes, they’re coming again) and Nepalese.  

So all the official transgressions against NJ laborers a decade ago are forgotten, and ever more victims of Japan’s revolving-door visa market are arriving to be exploited and sent home.  Seems NJ never learn, but this new crop will find out soon enough.

JT: “Coming of age: 1 in 8 new adults in Tokyo are not Japanese”; underanalyzed stats posing as media peg

JT: [T]his year more than 1 in every 8 new adults in Tokyo’s 23 wards are not Japanese citizens, figures compiled by The Japan Times show. According to data provided by the 23 ward offices, 10,959 new non-Japanese adults live in central Tokyo, or 13 percent of the 83,764 new adults living in the city. […] Experts attributed Tokyo’s recent surge in the number of young non-Japanese to a flood of foreign residents coming with student and training visas. […] Those with dual citizenship of Japan and another country are counted as Japanese citizens.

COMMENT: This is a positive development, but not something all that headline-grabbing as a bellwether. After all, the article barely mentions the NJs’ visa status. Are these Permanent Residents who can stay here forever, and make a difference without fearing the loss of their visa? or are they on something shorter and thus sweepable (or bribable) with the thud of a bureaucratic stamp of “nonrenewal”? (The article mentions the uptick in student and “trainee” visas; precisely my point. This is not immigration; it’s a reflection of stopgap labor movement.)

And the true measure of internationalization — international Japanese citizens (i.e., Japanese children of international roots) — are not counted at all, once again showing the “embedded racism” of the process (by deliberately reducing Japan’s level of “foreignness” to more comfortable levels by only counting “pure” foreigners in isolation). Then what is a more newsworthy stat?  How about the record numbers each year of NJ residents with Permanent Residency?  That never seem to make much news blip. No wonder. That would actually mean something IS changing.

Instead, we get soft stats in soft newspaper articles like these. Again, fine, but we Old Japan Hands are getting rather sick of hearing prematurely how “Japan is changing” in the media, and getting our hopes up unnecessarily.

Hawaii’s false alarm missile attack of Jan 13, 2018. JT reports: “Hawaii residents spooked but Japanese sanguine”. Poor reporting and social science.

Making news recently was the alert on January 13 sent throughout Hawaii that the islands were under nuclear attack. And there were a number of reports of final messages to loved ones and otherwise panicked behavior as people tried to make use of their final moments. Fortunately, it turned out to be a false alarm, but the local government kept us in suspense for 38 minutes.  That is where the news is — the incompetence of local authorities coupled with international tensions fanned by an incompetent president.

But leave it to the Japan Times to try to draw sociocultural lines around the event. With the smarmy title, “False-alarm missile alert spooks Hawaii residents but Japanese sanguine,” it tried to paint Japanese as preternaturally calm while Americans were panicked. Drawing from a humongous sample size of three — yes, three — “Japanese”, the JT reported juicy quotes such as this:

“[Megumi] Gong, [a housewife and college student from Shizuoka Prefecture who has lived in Honolulu for the last three years], characterized the differences between how Americans and Japanese reacted as ‘fascinating.’ ‘I don’t know if it is a sense of crisis or an obsession with life, or whether one is more accustomed to emergency situations, but the difference in the responses is fascinating,’ she said. Japanese, Gong said, ‘are afraid’ but ‘aren’t panicked’ — a kind of ‘it cannot be helped’ attitude. ‘We don’t call our family to say I love you. We still go to work,’ she said. ‘Also, we give up fast,’ as if we ‘will die if the missile’ comes. We ‘can’t do anything.’”

COMMENT: Such is the blindness of transplant diaspora, who act, without any apparent social science training, as Cultural Representative of All Japan, wheeled out to represent an entire society of more than 100 million as a “we” monolith, and taken seriously by media merely by dint of her having Japanese background.  And in contrast, at least one of my contacts in Hokkaido (which also had a DPRK missile alert (for real) over Oshima Hantou and Erimo last September) would disagree with the lack of local panic.

New Years Eve 2017 TV Blackface Debate in Japan (again): Referential Links

With the recent broadcast of an “Eddie Murphy homage” (with Japanese tarento Hamada Masatoshi doing blackface) on one of the most-watched shows in Japan all year, Debito.org feels a need at least to mention that there is a hot debate going on about whether Blackface is appropriate in other societies (such as Japan) with a different history of race relations.

My opinion is that doing Blackface is almost always a bad thing, due to its historical connotation regardless of context. And I add the caveat of “almost always” while struggling to think of any exception, except for purposes of historical grounding behind the issue. (And it’s not limited to blackface: Debito.org has covered racialized media in Japan, broadcast without input from the minorities affected, many times in the past, including here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

But that’s all I’ll say. I think Baye McNeil has a lock on the issue, and I’ll just refer Debito.org Readers to his most recent Japan Times column, at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/01/10/our-lives/time-japan-scrub-off-blackface-good/

Even better is a YouTube panel discussion sponsored by The Japan Times that involves McNeil, Anthropologist Dr. John G. Russell of Gifudai, and YouTuber Aoki Yuta.

Dr. Russell’s comments about Japan’s history with Blackface (there is in fact a history, despite the narrative that Japan is ignorant therefore innocent) are particularly salient. Watch if you want a definitive conclusion to the issue of Blackface in Japan for yourself.

A Top Ten for 2017: Debito’s Japan Times JBC 110: “In 2017, Japan woke up to the issue of discrimination”

As is tradition, here is JBC’s annual countdown of the top 10 human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan over the past year. In ascending order:

10) As Japan’s population falls, NJ residents hit record
Figures released in 2017 indicated that Japan’s society is not just continuing to age and depopulate, but that the trends are accelerating. Annual births fell under 1 million — a record low — while deaths reached a record high. The segment of the population aged 65 or older also accounted for a record 27 percent of the total. In contrast, after four years (2010-2013) of net outflow, the NJ resident influx set new records. A registered 2.38 million now make up 1.86 percent of Japan’s total population, somewhat offsetting the overall decline. Alas, that didn’t matter. Japanese media as usual tended to report “Japan’s population” not in terms of people living in Japan, but rather Nihonjin (Japanese citizens), indicating once again that NJ residents simply don’t count.

9) ‘Hair police’ issue attracts attention with lawsuit…
Entire article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/01/03/issues/2017-japan-woke-issue-discrimination/
Version with links to sources now on Debito.org.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 3, 2018

Table of Contents:
MORE NJ REFUSALS:
1) XY: My experience with a Harajuku shop keeper – “F*ckin Foreigner kill” racist signs and threatened violence
2) Bitcoin purchasing and racial profiling by Quoinex and BITPoint Japan: Hurdles for NJ customers only
3) Debito quoted in South China Morning Post article: “Why is racism so big in Japan?”
4) Working on 2017’s Top 10 Human Rights Events that affected NJ residents of Japan. What do you think should be included?
THE CONTROVERSIES CONTINUE:
5) Mainichi: Ex-hate speech group core member regretful on anniversary of clampdown law. SITYS. Hate speech laws matter.
6) Flawed academic article on Otaru Onsens Case et al.: “Discrimination Against Foreigners in Japan”, in Journal of Law and Policy Transformation
7) Reuters: “Who is Kazuo Ishiguro?” Japan asks, but celebrates Nobel author as its own. Very symptomatic of Japan’s ethnostate.
8 ) The “Franco-American Flophouse” blog entry on “Debito”
TANGENTS:
9) Racism in US World Series against baseball pitcher Yu Darvish: Immediately punished, and turned into learning opportunity
10) October 2017 Lower House Election Briefing: LDP wins big again, routs Japan’s left wing, but some silver linings to be had
… and finally…
11) Japan Times JBC 109: “‘Attach the evidence and wait for your day in court,’ says Turkish plaintiff after Osaka victory”

XY: My experience with a Harajuku shop keeper – “F*ckin Foreigner kill” racist signs and threatened violence

XY: Hi Debito, I’m a long-term resident of Japan and I’m writing to you to share and get you to share my encounter yesterday with a racist shopkeeper in Takeshita dori in Harajuku. It started with racist signs [photos included] and ended with him threatening me with violence.
Excerpt:
===========================
…At that point I decided that there was no way I was going to spend any money in his shop, and anything I bought there would just feel bad so I told him that I no longer wanted the bag. He cursed me out for being cheap and wasting his time (although in fact I was going to buy the bag and already had my money out).

Later after I had finished my other business I decided to get photos of the signs so I could publicize his nastiness, so I went back to the shop and took photos. He yelled at me to stop taking photos and I told him I was only taking photos of the signs and not of his merchandise.

Then he grabbed something and went to hit me with it.

I screamed in shock and ran out of the shop. Totally shaken by this experience I decided to walk down to the large police station around the corner. I wanted to make a report because I felt it needed to be on record. The police refused to take a report and told me I should call 110 next time…

Working on 2017’s Top 10 Human Rights Events that affected NJ residents of Japan. What do you think should be included?

I’m working on my annual Top 10 Human Rights Events of 2017 that affected NJ residents of Japan. (Here’s the list for 2016.)  Do Debito.org Readers have any suggestions about what should make the list?

Remember a) these must be events, not just ongoing issues (although they could be events that punctuate or illustrate the larger issue), b) these events must have occurred in 2017, and c) they must have a distinct effect on NJ residents in Japan.

Based upon that, what do you think mattered last year? Please let us know in the Comments Section below. Thanks, and happy holidays. I’ll put Debito.org on Holiday Tangent mode shortly.

Quoted in South China Morning Post article: “Why is racism so big in Japan?”

SCMP: The hand-written sign in the entrance of a cosmetics shop in Japan might have been shocking to many Chinese, but to some observers its message was all too familiar. The sign, which said Chinese people were not allowed to enter, caused outrage when images of it were posted on Chinese websites last month.

Within 24 hours, the store’s owner Pola Inc ordered the sign to be removed and vowed to suspend operations at the outlet. Pola acknowledged the notice had caused “unpleasant feelings and inconvenience to many people” and said it would deal with the situation “gravely”. In contrast with the anger in China, the incident attracted little coverage in Japan and received only brief mention in the few media outlets that covered it at all.

That seeming lack of interest doesn’t surprise Debito Arudou, a human-rights activist who was born David Schofill in California and became a naturalised Japanese citizen in 2000. Discrimination is a sad fact of life in Japan, according to Arudou, and if anything, it is becoming more frequent – and more blatant…

Bitcoin purchasing and racial profiling by Quoinex and BITPoint Japan: Hurdles for NJ customers only

Shiki: Recently I’ve been signing up for Bitcoin and other crypto exchanges in Japan. Most vendors have presented no problem, they follow the law in which they have the obligation to ask for an official ID, just like PayPal does in Japan, for which I have been sending the front of my Personal Number Card (My Number Card), and then they send you a post card to your address to confirm you actually live there. That’s what these exchanges and basically any virtual money company in Japan is required to do by law.

Except for 2 exchanges, Quoinex and BITPoint. I registered with the major Japanese exchanges like bitFlyer and Coincheck among other minor exchanges. With all of them I used my Personal Number Card, and no one told me I had to do something different because of my face. But like these 2 exchanges, more and more companies who like racial profiling are starting to ask for the Residence Card for extra-legal purposes, basically discriminating in the way people are able to open accounts or register to services based on their nationality unless you comply with some extra requirements.

One of the worst examples of this is AU, which is starting to reject foreigners for buying phones in multiple payments, if the expiration of their current status in Japan does not exceed the payment timeframe for their phones, which is usually 2 years. This basically means that if your current stay permit is of 1 year, or your stay is about to expire in less than 2 years, you won’t be able to get a phone at the same price as Japanese people. Let’s remember that the maximum stay period in Japan for most visas is of 5 years, and that you cannot renew your stay until 3 months prior to the expiration date of your current permit, which I would make the case that it excludes most foreigners under a non-permanent residency status.

Just like the My Number law states very clearly that it is illegal for someone who isn’t required by law to ask for your “My Number”, or taking copies of the part of your card which shows the actual number, I think we require a law to stop people who for asking for someone’s Residence Card if they aren’t legally required to do so. In some respects I would argue that the information inside the Residence Card is in many respects just as sensitive as your “My Number”, and asking for it is an invasion of privacy at best.

The “Franco-American Flophouse” blog entry on “Debito”

It’s the busy season for me now, so in lieu of saying something more elaborate, I think I’ll just put up this link and let people comment:
https://francoamericanflophouse.wordpress.com/2017/04/03/debito/

The blog, “The Franco-American Flophouse”, is a thoughtful one by Victoria Ferauge, who advertises herself and interests as:
“Born in Seattle, USA. Generation Xer. Lived on 3 continents (North America, Asia and Europe). Country agnostic. Mother of two Frenchlings. Cancer survivor (so far). Passionate about culture, language, international migration, citizenship law.”
I recommend a browse around.

Mainichi: Ex-hate speech group core member regretful on anniversary of clampdown law. SITYS. Hate speech laws matter.

Mainichi: To mark the one year anniversary of the anti-hate speech law coming into effect on June 3, the Mainichi Shimbun interviewed a 38-year-old man who formerly participated actively in anti-Korean and anti-foreigner hate speech demonstrations to the extent of becoming a leading member. He spoke about his experience and the actions that he now deeply regrets. […] When asked about what fueled his extreme behavior, he offered the authorization of the use of roads for demonstrations and the many dispatched police officers that surrounded the events. “Because we had received permission to use the road, I felt like anything I said was protected by the shield of ‘freedom of speech,'” he remembered. “Even if opposition groups surrounded our demonstrations, I felt safe because I knew the police officers would protect us. It felt like we had the upper hand.”

COMMENT: The Mainichi gives us an interesting case study of how one Wajin became a participant in hate speech groups, how he felt empowered due to the fact there was (at the time) no enforceable hate speech law in Japan, and how he eventually became disillusioned with the movement.  While completely anecdotal and single-case, if we get enough of these, patterns emerge, and aggregated case studies eventually can become meaningful surveys (as the fieldwork resulting from the Otaru Onsens Case demonstrated, as it morphed into the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments and a doctoral dissertation study).  Let us begin the first step of understanding how and why people hate, and hopefully more people will realize why societies should make hate speech legally culpable.  

Flawed academic article on Otaru Onsens Case et al.: “Discrimination Against Foreigners in Japan”, in Journal of Law and Policy Transformation

The Otaru Onsens Case, one of the most prominent lawsuits against racial discrimination in Japan’s history, continues to live on both in law and social-science academic journals. The most recent, “Discrimination Against Foreigners in Japan”, came out last July in the “Journal of Law and Policy Transformation”. It cites a lot of online sources (but not the definitive book on the case, “Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan”).

However, if this paper was from a student in my Research Methods class, I would dock points for a number of things here, not least the lack of peer-reviewed sources cited.  It’s essentially taking all the work from Debito.org and rehashing it as a show-and-tell for academic credit, moreover without reading the most recent books and analyses on cases since then; plus it has a number of typos and a rather glib final conclusion that: “[A]s it correctly noted [sic] by Yoshio Sugimoto[,] ‘contemporary Japanese society is caught between the contradictory forces of narrow ethnocentrism and open internalization [sic]’. This proves the fact [sic] that passing laws at all levels of government outlawing discrimination in Japan is just a matter of time.” As written, I don’t logically follow. 

(I have the feeling even the article title was readjusted by the gatekeepers to revert the issue back to “foreigner discrimination”, making it once again an issue of nationality, and glossing over the fact that one of the excluded plaintiffs in the Otaru Onsens Case was in fact NOT foreign.  Moreover, reading the Abstract below, I note how even the summary must include a disclaimer that the “foreigners” are partially to blame for their being discriminated against “due to differences in language, religion, custom and appearance as well”.)

Anyway, congrats I guess on keeping the issue and the information in circulation, and for getting this into the research canon past the academic gatekeepers who would rather not see discrimination in Japan as racial in nature.

Reuters: “Who is Kazuo Ishiguro?” Japan asks, but celebrates Nobel author as its own. Very symptomatic of Japan’s ethnostate.

About a month ago, Briton Kazuo Ishiguro, who writes exclusively in English, won the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Predictably, Japan’s media boasted that a third Japanese writer (with the caveat that he was Japan-born) had won a Nobel.  Well, not really.  Imagine, say, Germany claiming as their own all the Nobel-laureate scientists of the Deutsch diaspora living abroad, even those without actual German citizenship, for however many generations? 

In Japan, this highly-questionable social science is hardly problematized.  As noted below by Reuters, a similar claim was laid to Shuji “Slave” Nakamura, inventor of the LED, who due to his foul treatment by Japan’s scientific and academic communities quite actively disavows his connections to Japan (in fact, he urges them to escape for their own good).  Same with Yoichiro Nambu, who got Nobelled as a team in 2008 for Physics, who had been living in the US since the 1960s, was a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, and had even relinquished Japanese citizenship and taken American.

I suspect this is for massaging a rather insecure national pride.  Also because it is largely unquestioned under the concept of Japan as an ethnostate, where nationality is directly linked to blood ties.  That is to say, anyone who is of Japanese blood can be claimed as a member of the Japanese societal power structure (i.e., a Wajin).  And the converse is indeed true:  Even people who take Japanese citizenship who lack the requisite Wajin blood are treated as foreign:  Just ask Japan’s “naturalized-but-still-foreign” athletes in, say, the sumo wrestling or rugby communities.  

It’s a pretty racist state of affairs.  One I discuss in depth in acclaimed book “Embedded Racism”(Lexington Books, 2015).  And, as I argue in its closing chapter, one that will ultimately lead to the downfall of a senescent Japan.  

Racism in US World Series against baseball pitcher Yu Darvish: Immediately punished, and turned into learning opportunity

BleacherReport: Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel has reportedly been suspended for the first five games of next season after making a racist gesture aimed at Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish in Game 3 of the World Series… Gurriel homered off Darvish in the second inning of Houston’s 5-3 win on Friday. After returning to the dugout, television cameras showed Gurriel pulling down on the corners of his eyes. He apologized for the incident following the game.

WaPo: …Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Yuli Gurriel of the Houston Astros without pay for five games at the beginning of next season for making a racially insensitive gesture and yelling an anti-Asian insult at Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish during Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night. It is not expected that the players’ union will contest the discipline.

Gurriel’s immediate expression of remorse after the game, as well as a full apology and a desire to meet Darvish personally to apologize, may have helped the Astros first baseman avoid being suspended during this World Series.

Just as pertinent, Darvish, after saying that Gurriel’s acts were “disrespectful” to Asians around the world, wrote in a tweet that, “I believe we should put our effort into learning rather than to accuse him. . . . Let’s stay positive and move forward instead of focusing on anger. I’m counting on everyone’s big love.”

COMMENT: I rather like the attitudes taken by officialdom (immediate response to tamp down on racist expressions) and by the target (anger but optimism that this will be a lesson learned). I’m just a bit worried that the typical reaction in the Japanese press will be, “Well, discrimination happened to one of ours! Disgraceful! You see? Our racism towards others is just what everyone does worldwide. So there’s little need to address it here.” I doubt it will be seen as a “teaching moment”, beyond saying that racism happens in other countries to us Japanese, not in Japan. That’s the standard narrative reinforced in standardized education in Japan, and that’s why when you see it happen in Japan, it’s less likely to have constructive outcomes like these.  Now that is a wasted opportunity.  Well done, US MLB and all parties to this incident.

October 2017 Lower House Election Briefing: LDP wins big again, routs Japan’s left wing, but some silver linings to be had

As is tradition on Debito.org (see previous writings here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), after a Japanese election we analyze the results:

WINNERS AND LOSERS:
The LDP won big, retaining its absolute 2/3 majority beyond 310 seats in the assembly. But it wasn’t an unqualified win. It retained exactly the same number as last time. However, KMT lost five seats from the 34 it had pre-election.

However, the protest vote by people who wanted a party to keep Japan’s Constitution as it is (the CDP), won bigger, going from 15 seats from its DPJ/DP politicians to a full 55. Message: The DPJ is dead, long live its spirit in the CDP.

The losers were just about everyone else. Koike’s Hope Party dropped from 57 to 50 seats, the far-right Japan Restoration Party (Nihon Ishin no Kai) from 14 to 11, the far-left Communist Party from 21 to 12, and the tiny socialist Social Democratic Party (Shamintou) holding steady at two seats.

The biggest losers were the party-unaffiliated politicians (mushozoku) on both sides. The ones leaning left went from 27 seats to 21, while the ones leaning right went from eleven to one! Part of this is that due to the Proportional Representation vote (which only applies to official parties), these independents had to win in single-seat constituencies. But the bigger reason seems to be that brand recognition these days sells well: Either you stampeded with the herd under the LDP’s umbrella, or you went for a party flavor du jour (which quickly soured under Koike’s Hope, but clearly flowered under the CDP).

More past writings and analysis follow:

Japan Times JBC 109: “‘Attach the evidence and wait for your day in court,’ says Turkish plaintiff after Osaka victory”

JBC: On Aug. 25, the Osaka District Court handed down a landmark ruling in a discrimination lawsuit.

Ibrahim Yener, a Turkish national and 14-year resident of Japan, was refused service last October by an Osaka used car dealer, which stated in an email (text at www.debito.org/?p=14743) that they would not serve foreign customers. The car company also stipulated that even if the customer legally holds Japanese citizenship, they would only sell to people who could “hold their own (sonshoku ga nai) against native speakers” in terms of Japanese language ability (as determined solely by the car company).

Yener felt this was discriminatory, filed suit and won. The presiding judge said that it “was based on prejudice that a foreigner would cause trouble and does not justify the discriminatory treatment.” But what made this case particularly noteworthy is that Yener navigated Japan’s legal system all by himself — without a lawyer.

Thus this case offers potential lessons for other non-Japanese or international Japanese who face similar discrimination. JBC contacted Yener last week to find out more about the thinking behind bringing the case…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCT 14, 2017

Table of Contents:
HOPEFUL SIGNS?
1) New Japanese “Party of Hope” remains unhopeful for Japan’s NJ residents, requiring new party entrants to deny all NJ voting rights
2) “Japanese Only” signs come down in Monbetsu, Hokkaido. Finally. It only took 22 years.
3) Nikkei: Japan’s “Japanese Only” apartment rental market may adversely affect NJ worker retention during labor shortage
4) “Japanese Only” rules mutate: Hagoromo-yu, a bathhouse excluding LGBT in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, in reaction to local same-sex-partner ordinance
5) Positive book review of “Embedded Racism” in “Sociology of Race and Ethnicity” journal (American Sociological Association)

MORE ON YENER CASE
6) NJ Osakan Ibrahim Yener wins lawsuit against “Japanese only” car dealer
7) Plaintiff Ibrahim Yener provides Debito.org with details on his successful lawsuit against “Japanese Only” Nihon Autoplaza car company
…and finally…
8 ) My Japan Times JBC 108: “In wake of Charlottesville, U.S. should follow Japan and outlaw hate speech”, Aug 24, 2017

New Japanese “Party of Hope” remains unhopeful for Japan’s NJ residents, requiring new party entrants to deny all NJ voting rights

In case you haven’t heard, the center-left (and former governing party) Democratic Party of Japan (once Minshuutou, now Minshintou), has suffered a further blow to its existence, now having to sell its factional soul to a new party (Kibou no Tou, or the “Party of Hope”) headed by a name-brand candidate and Governor of Tokyo (Koike Yuriko). Koike is ostensibly just about as far-right as PM Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party. As proof of that:  In the JT article below, KnoT is demanding as a litmus test that new party entrants from the DPJ sign on to a party platform denying NJ residents (including Permanent Residents) the right to vote in any elections.

Given that PR in Japan, a legal status that is reasonably hard to achieve (and specific to Japan when it comes to its “Special Permanent Residents” (tokubetsu eijuusha), i.e., the Zainichi Koreans and Chinese “generational foreigners” and descendants of former citizens of empire), requires significant time and commitment to Japan, this is yet another slap in the face to people who stay (in many cases their entire lives), pay taxes, and contribute to society the same as any other citizen. The alarmism that KnoT in the article below displays is straight out of the LDP handbook — arguing that giving foreigners any power would mean they would turn against Japan, even secede — which is nothing short of distrust of foreigners’ very existence in society. Or xenophobia, for short.

In sum, voters have a choice between two viable parties now, both rightist with essentially the same platform, except that one is PM Abe and one is Rewarmed Abe, for those who don’t like the man and would prefer a shiny new woman. Sigh. Meanwhile, Japan’s tolerant left will remain in disarray for the foreseeable future.