SIM on the text of the Ministry of Justice’s “Foreigner Re-Entry Ban”, on paper. Debito.org Readers are invited to offer their experiences in practice.

SIM: The manner in which the government has taken this policy of banishing any legal resident with a foreign passport from returning to their livelihood, their family and any assets that they hold if they set one foot outside Japan because of a virus that cannot see the color of said passport is underhand to say the least. Adding insult to injury is the law on which the MoJ is basing this discriminatory treatment. From a document called “Regarding refusal of landing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (novel Coronavirus)” on the MoJ website, I have found that the legislation relied upon is Article 5 of Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act which reads as follows:

“Article 5 (1) A foreign national who falls under any of the following items is denied permission to land in Japan:
“Paragraphs (i) to (xiii) (abbrev.)
“(xiv) Beyond those persons listed in items (i) through (xiii), a person whom the Minister of Justice has reasonable grounds to believe is likely to commit an act which could be detrimental to the interests or public security of Japan.”

Basically, this shows that the government of Japan believes that, with the outbreak of COVID-19, notwithstanding the fact that we may be legal residents and taxpayers, anybody with a foreign passport is a ‘danger’ to the nation and should be banished if they dare to venture outside of its borders.

DEBITO: Debito.org invites Readers to comment on their experiences with the Ministry of Justice at the border.  Whether it’s a) you left and re-entered without incident, b) you inquired about leaving in advance and received information that inspired or dispelled confidence in the process, c) you received an unexpected surprise at the border despite all the information you had, d) you wound up in exile, etc., please let us know. Please use a pseudonym.  What follows are some excerpts of some of what I’ve heard so far:

“A Despotic Bridge Too Far”, Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 12 on Japan’s racist blanket ban on Foreign Resident re-entry

SNA (Tokyo) — How bad does it have to get? I’m talking about Japan’s cruelty and meanness towards its Non-Japanese residents. How bad before people think to step in and stop it?

I think we now have an answer to that due to Japan’s recent policy excluding only foreigners from re-entry at its border, even if they’ve lived here for decades, as a by-product of the Covid-19 pandemic. Japanese re-entrants get let in after testing and quarantine; no other G7 country excludes all foreigners only.

Consequently, many Non-Japanese residents found themselves stranded overseas, separated from their Japanese families, lives and livelihoods, watching their investments dry up and visa clocks run out without recourse. Or perhaps found themselves stranded within Japan, as family members abroad died, and the prospect of attending their funeral or taking care of personal matters in person would mean exile.

However, protests against this policy have been unusually mainstream, including institutions who have been for generations largely silent regarding other forms of discrimination towards foreigners in Japan. Consider these examples of how institutionalized and embedded racism is in Japan:

You’re probably aware that Japan has long advertised itself as a “monocultural, homogeneous society,” denying that minorities, racial or ethnic, exist within it. But did you know that Japan still refuses to include Non-Japanese residents as “people” in its official population tallies? Or to list them on official family registries as “spouses” of Japanese? Or that Japan’s constitution expressly reserves equality under the law for Japanese citizens (kokumin) in its Japanese translation? This complicates things for all Non-Japanese residents to this day…

Read the entire article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/07/20/visible-minorities-a-despotic-bridge-too-far/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 20, 2020: SPECIAL ISSUE ON JAPAN’S BLANKET BAN ON FOREIGN RESIDENT RE-ENTRY

Table of Contents:
JAPAN’S BLANKET BAN ON FOREIGN RESIDENT RE-ENTRY
1) German journalism on Japan Govt’s COVID policy: Tohoku’s Dr. Oshitani: Foreigners (not Japanese) brought it in. And that’s why govt policies specifically exclude only foreigners, even NJ Permanent Residents.
2) Japan’s National Universities call on the Education Ministry to protect int’l students from expulsion and exclusion (a report from Debito.org Reader Mark)
3) American Chamber of Commerce in Japan calls on J govt to cease “double standard restricting [Foreign Japan Residents’] travel, economic, and familial opportunities based on nationality” in Coronavirus policy

WANT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT?
4) NHK TV’s racist video explaining Black Lives Matter for a children’s news program: Why their excuse of “not enough consideration made at broadcast” is BS
…and finally…
5) SNA Visible Minorities Column 11: Advice to Activists in Japan in general (in the wake of the emergence of the Black Lives Matter Japan Movement), June 22, 2020.

American Chamber of Commerce in Japan calls on J govt to cease “double standard restricting [Foreign Japan Residents’] travel, economic, and familial opportunities based on nationality” in Coronavirus policy

Now the ACCJ has spoken out against the Japanese government’s coronavirus policy treatment of NJ Residents that you see nowhere else in fellow developed countries.  This is in addition to the Japan Association of National Universities’ similar call on behalf of international students:

ACCJ: The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) today issued a second statement [included below] in response to re-entry travel restrictions placed on residents of Japan who are not Japanese citizens and called on the Government of Japan to provide fair and equal treatment for all residents regardless of nationality. “Foreign residents of Japan who have made a decision to build a life here and contribute to the Japanese economy should not be subject to a double standard restricting their travel, economic, and familial opportunities based on nationality,” said Christopher J. LaFleur, ACCJ Chairman. “While we applaud and support the Japanese government’s efforts to manage the COVID-19 crisis, a resident’s nationality provides no basis on which to assess risk or assign travel privilege in relation to COVID-19.”

Foreign nationals actively and positively contribute to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan. The ACCJ statement expresses concern among our international business community that the prohibition currently in place is detrimental to Japan’s long-term interests…

“Such individuals, especially those with permanent residency (eijuken) and their accompanying family members or those who are immediate family members of Japanese nationals, and those with long-term working visas and their accompanying family members, need to be allowed to enter Japan under the same conditions as Japanese citizens to continue living and working in this country. Such foreign nationals are actively and positively contributing to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan… At minimum, Japan should adopt the approach of other G7 countries to allow foreigners with established residency status and their immediate family members to depart and enter the country on the same basis as Japanese nationals.”

Japan’s National Universities call on the Education Ministry to protect int’l students from expulsion and exclusion (a report from Debito.org Reader Mark)

Mark, a graduate student at a Japanese university, sends word that Tokyo University’s International Student Support Group has been doing its job assisting its NJ students, noting that the Japan Association of National Universities has made demands to the Ministry of Education clearly advocating on behalf of international students in Japan.  The latter on the national government to (ISS’s translation):

1) ensure that the international students and researchers who already obtain a status of residence can have the continued education and research opportunities by promptly allowing them to re-enter Japan. Also, it should be based on a thorough infection prevention measures.
2) promptly resume the visa application process at Japanese Embassies/Consulates for international students (new students) and newly hired international researchers, carefully monitoring the infection situation in each country.

Now, while this isn’t on the scale of what you get in the United States, where a very large front of universities, states, and even corporations lined up lawsuits to defend international students from getting their student visas revoked by the Trump Administration if they were taking online-only classes (resulting in the Trump Administration actually backing down yesterday, mere days after ICE unilaterally declared it policy).  But for Japan it’s a start.  And a rather rare example of organizations that aren’t “activist groups” advocating on behalf of NJ rights (especially since the GOJ’s activities lately have been especially isolationist and xenophobic). And since these are Japan’s flagship universities, including Toudai, it’s a precedent and a template.  Bravo.  Mark’s report follows:

NHK TV’s racist video explaining Black Lives Matter for a children’s news program: Why their excuse of “not enough consideration made at broadcast” is BS

A couple of weeks ago, we covered on Debito.org a flap about TV network NHK (“the BBC of Japan“) broadcasting a racialized anime to Japanese kids explaining the Black Lives Matter movement in America.  It portrayed African-Americans as scary, angry, thieving, sinewy stomping and guitar-strumming urban folk.  With a few more stereotypes thrown in.  (And note that there wasn’t even a mention of George Floyd.)

Here is the NHK video in question, with translation version afterwards. Soon after, on June 9, according to the Mainichi Shinbun, NHK apologized for the video, saying, “There was not enough consideration made at broadcast”, and removed the program was removed from its online streaming services.

Debito.org cries BS about NHK’s claims of “not giving enough consideration”, because in fact, NHK hired this production crew BECAUSE they are famous for creating these outlandish videos. They’re evidently the same crew who did sequences for legendary TV show “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo Nihonjin” some decades ago. Consider the similarity in style between the above NHK sequence and this “Koko Ga Hen” segment, as analyzed by Kirk Masden.  Also witness the tone of this “Koko Ga Hen” segment from February 28, 2001.

Given that “Koko Ga Hen” routinely racialized and othered its foreign panelists for the purposes of entertainment and maintaining the constant Japanese media narrative of foreigners as scary outsiders, I aver that NHK knew exactly what it was doing when it subcontracted out to those producers.  NHK just didn’t expect to be called out on it.

German journalism on Japan Govt’s COVID policy: Tohoku’s Dr. Oshitani: Foreigners (not Japanese) brought it in. And that’s why govt policies specifically exclude only foreigners, even NJ Permanent Residents.

When the Japanese media observes omertà on how Japan’s policymakers engage in racist politics, it’s sometimes up to overseas media to expose it.  Debito.org Reader Maximilian Doe offers a full report from German media:  How even Japan’s scientists (particularly a Dr. Oshitani Hitoshi, professor of virology at Tohoku University, and leader of the health advisors to the Japanese government) couched COVID as an overseas contagion, not something also brought into Japan by Japanese (such as the cruise ship Diamond Princess).  This led to policies that reflectively exclude all “foreigners” (including NJ Residents with valid visas) from entry or even quarantine.

OSHITANI:  Spread of COVID-19 in Japan had two major waves so far. The first wave was originated by people with travel history to Wuhan and other places in China. From January to early February, the number of cases from China found in Japan was 11. Of course, there were considered to be more imported cases from China in reality, but it was likely somewhere around several tens to about a hundred. These people traveled to Japan for sightseeing or other purposes, and later, through places where people congregate, such as sports gyms and small concert houses, transmissions spread across the country including Hokkaido, Tokyo, Aichi, and Osaka. This first wave had come under control by mid March with number of cases relatively low, but the second wave came as the first wave was calming down. Second wave was originated by infected people from a wide range of countries, such as Europe, US, Southeast Asia, and Egypt. We confirmed about 300 cases who had entered Japan from such countries, so the actual number of cases who entered Japan is estimated to be around 1,000 ~ 2,000. Although local transmissions of the second wave in Japan began in early February, infected people from abroad were coming to Japan and able to move around the country almost without any restriction, until the government put restrictions on travel at the end of March. This resulted in a large outbreak.

SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: Virologist and government advisor Hitoshi Oshitani says: “The data clearly shows that Japan’s measures were more effective than those of Western countries.” No G7 country has so few Covid-19 fatalities as Japan. The high standard of hygiene of the Japanese is also claimed as an additional reason for this. Now the government of the right-wing conservative Prime Minister Shinzō Abe wants to make sure that foreigners will not cause the next wave.

COMMENT FROM DOE:  These German articles are not hard proof whether Dr. Oshitani is actively okay with shutting out even legal residents or not, but in combination with the Japanese and English articles published on the website of Oshitani’s lab I get the impression that he and his team of other advisors had a very strong influence, if not the most critical influence, on the government implementing this current entry ban. I also think that it’s enough evidence that he at least doesn’t care about the problem for stranded NJ residents. A curious behavior for an academic or one of Japan’s national apex universities, since universities are those “businesses” disproportionately affected by this. Besides this he’s clearly responsible for the – let’s say – special testing policy Japan has implemented. I’d like to hear your thoughts about this.

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: My thoughts are there is a pattern here.  Foreigners, as we’ve seen from the days of AIDS, SARS, and even the Otaru Onsens Case, are more likely to be seen as riddled with contagion, and treated as such by policymakers either with benign neglect or overt reactionary policies.  However, instead of having a government and civil society that rightfully points out that associating disease with citizenship leads to racism, in Japan we get blanket exclusion.  And it’s even backed up by Japan’s scientists.

SNA Visible Minorities Column 11: Advice to Activists in Japan in general (in the wake of the emergence of the Black Lives Matter Japan Movement), June 22, 2020.

SNA: Within recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations, a wider range of people are finally decrying, for example, the Japanese police’s racial profiling and violence towards visible minorities. […] This column would like to point out some of the pitfalls that activists may face in Japanese society, based upon my experience fighting against racial discrimination in Japan for nearly thirty years. Please read them in the helpful spirit they are intended.

1) Remember that, in Japan, activists are seen as extremists
2) Keep the debate focused on how discrimination affects everyone in Japan
3) Be wary of being fetishized
4) Be ready for the long haul
5) Control your own narrative

Full writeup on SNA at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/06/22/visible-minorities-advice-to-activists-in-japan/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 22, 2020

Table of Contents:
JAPAN OFFICIALDOM SHOWS ITS XENOPHOBIC COLORS
1) Dejima Award #8: NJ resident returnees from abroad officially treated like contagion, barred from reentry unlike Japanese returnees. And unlike any other G7 country.
2) Discriminatory govt financial assistance for students: All Japanese can apply, but foreign students must be in top 30% of class. MEXT’s rationale: “Many NJ students go home anyway and don’t contribute to Japan’s future.”
3) Online petition: Oppose Japan’s generic reentry ban on Foreign Residents even after essential travels since April 3, 2020

SO DO JAPAN’S UNDERCOVER RACISTS
4) Mainichi: Japan, US academics demand NHK explain offensive BLM anime. And how about all the others (including NHK) in the past?
5) Info on Black Lives Matter demos in Japan in response to excessive police force towards a Kurdish Resident; also the backlash of right-wing Tokyo Katsushika-ku Assemblyman Suzuki Nobuyuki: “expel any foreign demonstrators”.

And finally…
6) My SNA Visible Minorities col 10: “The Guestists and the Collaborators”, May 18, 2020, on how long-term NJ leverage their newfound privilege against other NJ Residents (e.g., Donald Keene, Tsurunen Marutei, and Oussouby Sacko)

Mainichi: Japan, US academics demand NHK explain offensive BLM anime. And how about all the others (including NHK) in the past?

Mainichi: Academics in Japan and the United States submitted a letter to NHK on June 12 demanding the Japanese public broadcaster clarify why it broadcast an anime explainer of Black Lives Matter protests that was subsequently condemned as racist, and that it also outline its views on the matter and possible preventive measures. In their five-page letter to the NHK, the experts in U.S. studies describe the video as “including content that cannot be overlooked.” Among its 13 signatories are professor Fumiko Sakashita of Ritsumeikan University in Tokyo and professor Yasumasa Fujinaga of Japan Women’s University, also in the capital. The letter is addressed to the NHK president, as well as the heads of the international news division and the News Department. The writers say they will recruit supporters in both the U.S. and Japan.

The around 1-minute-20-second animated video that the letter discusses was originally shown on NHK news program “Kore de Wakatta! Sekai no Ima” (Now I Understand! The World Now) and shared on the broadcaster’s official Twitter account on June 7. It was intended as an explanation for the demonstrations that began in the U.S. after George Floyd, a black man, was killed by a white police officer kneeling on his neck. It features a muscular, vested black man shouting about economic inequality in the U.S., and makes no reference to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. The letter to NHK described the depiction of the man as stereotypical, saying, “He is given an excessively muscular appearance, and speaks in an emphatically coarse and violent way.” It added that in the U.S., “This stereotype has a history of being used to legitimize lynching of black people and the loss of their lives from police brutality.”

NHK: “We at NHK would like to sincerely apologize for a computer animation clip posted on our Twitter account. […]. The one-minute-21-second clip aimed to show the hardships, such as economic disparity, that many African Americans in the US suffer. However, we have decided to take the clip offline after receiving criticism from viewers that it did not correctly express the realities of the problem. We regret lacking proper consideration in carrying the clip, and apologize to everyone who was offended.”

DEBITO: I call BS.  NHK knew full well what these subcontracted segments are like, as this subcontractor been hired before for other Japanese TV programs (example below).  That’s what that subcontractor has done for years.  NHK just expected that this would be for “domestic consumption only” and the Gaijin wouldn’t see it, (because after all, “foreigners” don’t watch Japanese TV (because Japanese is too hard a language for them to understand).  That’s also BS.  And NHK (not to mention most of Japan’s other media, see a list in this blog entry) still hasn’t learned their lesson after all these decades.

Info on Black Lives Matter demos in Japan in response to excessive police force towards a Kurdish Resident; also the backlash of right-wing Tokyo Katsushika-ku Assemblyman Suzuki Nobuyuki: “expel any foreign demonstrators”.

As you know, following the George Floyd et al. killings by police in America, there is an international wave of condemnation towards institutionalized racism and brutality in law enforcement.  Japan is not exempt from this (in fact, institutionalized embedded racism is one of the reasons Debito.org exists, and the Japanese police are notorious for their normalized racial profiling), and a recent case (see Reuters article below) of a Kurdish man being assaulted by police during a traffic stop has made news.  Given this flashpoint, a Black Lives Matter movement of protecting minorities against state-sponsored unchecked violence has taken wing around Japan.  Please join in if you’re interested.  Information website here: https://blacklivesmattertokyo.carrd.co/

Bravo. Meanwhile, as SNA has pointed out, certain elements within Japan have a problem with any Non-Japanese trying claiming their rights in Japan even through peaceful public protest:  “Veteran anti-foreign rightwinger Nobuyuki Suzuki, currently a Katsushika Ward assemblyman, demands that any foreigner who engages in a street protest should be tracked down by the police and expelled from the country.” After all, according to the Suzukis of Japan, foreigners don’t belong here.  They aren’t kokumin, and because they are only here by permission of the government, by definition they should not protest; they should be just good little Guests or get out.  Japan for the Japanese.  You know the mantra.  Even though public demonstrations (for example, by NJ workers in labor unions) are perfectly legal, and have been going on for decades. That’s why social movements should crest and clean these exclusionary bigots out of government.  And Debito.org will add its voice in support.

Online petition: Oppose Japan’s generic reentry ban on Foreign Residents even after essential travels since April 3, 2020

SK: I am Sven Kramer, a scholar of Japanese studies based in Japan. Today, I would like to focus your attention on a private initiative I have started: a Japanese-English bilingual online petition against the de facto complete generic denial of reentry to foreign residents of Japan (including permanent residents and eminent relatives of Japanese citizens). On April 3, 2020, the government of Japan has implemented an almost complete closure of her borders to foreign residents on valid long-term visas (only the “special permanent residents” are exempt), while every Japanese citizen regardless of actual residency is allowed in.

This regulation affects more than 2,000,000 foreign residents of Japan, who cannot reenter Japan for the foreseeable future even after traveling abroad for a very good reason (e.g. the death of a family member in the country of origin), and are thus in danger of using their livelihoods here. I anticipate that among those affected, a significant number should be scholars based at Japanese universities receiving this mailing list. According to my current knowledge, Japan is the only country on Earth with a liberal democratic constitution, that has implemented such a nonsensically discriminatory reentry restriction, which in my opinion cannot be justified even with the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a significant difference to the policy of India, which reportedly has implemented an entry ban on all people regardless of citizenship/nationality. Furthermore, we don’t need to get into deflections of about how dictatorial countries currently behave in this crisis.

I have watched the situation silently but with an uneasy feeling for almost two months, but after reading this article by „Tōyō Keizai Online“ that quotes some of the outrageous things going on behind the scenes without leading to any progress, I had enough. As a long-term foreign resident of Japan I could not keep silent any longer, so on May 28 I have started the following online petition at “change.org”: http://chng.it/GN9Wp2Sj
– Please sign, if you share my opinion that the government of Japan immediately should allow reentry of returning foreign residents of Japan under the same quarantine regulations that are applied to Japanese citizens.
– Please help me spreading the word, if you agree with me on this.

Dejima Award #8: NJ resident returnees from abroad officially treated like contagion, barred from reentry unlike Japanese returnees. And unlike any other G7 country.

JT: “The coronavirus pandemic has prompted authorities worldwide to introduce entry restrictions on border traffic. But regulations in Japan have sparked a particularly strong reaction from its international community, as it is the only Group of Seven member denying entry to long-term and permanent residents and has set no clear criteria for their return. The approach has left many foreign nationals in limbo — those who had headed overseas in earlier stages of the pandemic are now stuck abroad and face uncertainty about their careers and lives in Japan, whereas those who remain here fear that leaving the country would jeopardize their future as well…

“As the virus continued to spread, causing more than 4 million confirmed infections, some countries such as India have even banned their own citizens from returning home in hopes of limiting transmission. But most developed countries, while urging locals to refrain from nonessential travel, have exempted legal residents alongside citizens from their travel bans, albeit under mandatory quarantine. In contrast, under Japan’s regulations imposed April 3, all foreign nationals, including those with permanent residence status and their non-Japanese spouses, and those who are married to Japanese nationals, will be subject to the measure if they try to return to Japan from any regions affected by the pandemic…”

COMMENT: For this reason, Debito.org awards a coveted “Dejima Award” (only its eighth so far) to the Ministry of Justice (particularly Justice Minister Mori Masako).  Dejima Awards are reserved for only the most eye-blinkingly obvious and inexcusable examples of racism perpetrated by Japan’s racists and authorities.  Thanks for deciding once again that foreigners’ lives simply don’t matter to you.  Only foreign residents have to make the choice between exiting Japan and losing their livelihoods here or staying in Japan missing a life event there.  How callous and inhumane.  And oh so very typical of the cold-blooded Japanese bureaucracy.

Discriminatory govt financial assistance for students: All Japanese can apply, but foreign students must be in top 30% of class. MEXT’s rationale: “Many NJ students go home anyway and don’t contribute to Japan’s future.”

Debito.org Reader TJL forwards a message from an Indian exchange student in Tokyo.  It seems that making sure no foreign resident leaves Japan (because only foreigners won’t be let back in, even if they’re Permanent Residents) isn’t enough hardship — now Japan is making it more difficult for them to live here.  Jobs are disappearing with the pandemic, affecting the arubaito economy and students in particular.  So the Ministry of Education (MEXT) has launched a program to assist all students in Japan in financial distress, with up to 200,000 yen cash paid out.  That is, unless they’re ryuugakusei (foreign exchange students).  Even though foreign students already face enough hurdles to their success and stability of life in Japan, MEXT has decided only the NJ who are in the top 30% of their class qualify.  (Naturally, Japanese slacker students need not worry — they’re all part of the tribe.)

MEXT’s justification, according to the Kyodo article below, is “いずれ母国に帰る留学生が多い中、日本に将来貢献するような有為な人材に限る要件を定めた”, or “In any case, what with many exchange students returning to their home countries, we decided to limit applications only to those promising people of talent who will be contributing to Japan’s future.”  Boy, that’s full of presumptions. Read on for a letter from the Indian exchange student, a MEXT opinion portal, and other materials in Japanese.

UPDATE: More conditions have come to light thanks to Kyodo News’s investigative journalism:
“According to the ministry, requirements for program eligibility include a reduction of over 50 percent in the monthly income from part-time jobs used to support tuition fees and, in general, a yearly allowance of less than 1.5 million yen from family. The student must also be living outside of home.

“In addition, foreign students must be achieving high marks and have attained a grade point average of at least 2.30 in the past academic year. This accounts for the top 25 to 30 percent of students, the ministry said. Foreign students must also have a monthly attendance rate of over 80 percent, receive less than an average 90,000 yen allowance per month excluding registration and tuition fees, and not be a dependent of someone in Japan earning more than 5 million yen a year. On top of the conditions, those “deemed by their institutions as unable to continue their studies due to financial difficulties” will be eligible for the handouts, the ministry said.”

My SNA Visible Minorities col 10: “The Guestists and the Collaborators”, May 18, 2020, on how long-term NJ leverage their newfound privilege against other NJ Residents (e.g., Donald Keene, Tsurunen Marutei, and Oussouby Sacko)

SNA: In a recent SNA Speakeasy on “Foreign Residents in the Coronavirus Era,” I argued that Non-Japanese (NJ) must band together and be vocal about claiming what’s due them as taxpayers. We shouldn’t wait for the government to deign to divvy out what it thinks foreigners want, as if it’s the omotenashi (hospitality) Japan offers any guest. Instead, NJ residents should be telling the government what they want, on their terms; trying to influence policy agendas that affect them by, for example, participating in local government forums and policy deliberation councils (shingikai).

People have been advocating this for years. Why isn’t it happening as often as it should? Because NJ (especially those in the English-language communities) collectively suffer from something I call “guestism”: falling for the fiction that they are merely “guests” in Japan subject to the whims of the Japanese “hosts.” Their mantra is “It’s their country, not mine. Who am I to tell them what to do?”

Still, eventually some NJ live here long enough, develop deep connections and language abilities, and even become Japanese citizens. Some transform into community leaders, prominent business owners and spokespeople, media mavens, and elected officials. They are definitely no longer “guests.”

But once they earn due respect and authority, another problem comes up: Many squander their position by becoming “collaborators.”

Instead of using their power for good, such as showing other NJ how to follow in their footsteps and to assimilate and enfranchise themselves, collaborators pull the ladder up behind them. They actively consort with the powers-that-be to preserve their privilege and to undermine other NJ Residents.

For example, consider Marutei Tsurunen, Donald Keene, and Oussouby Sacko…
Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/05/18/visible-minorities-the-guestists-and-the-collaborators/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 18, 2020

Table of Contents:
PROPAGANDISTS AND COLLABORATORS

1) Kyoto City issues comic book on local street safety to grade schoolers, created by Kyoto Seika Univ & Kyoto International Manga Museum, portraying “foreigners” as unintelligible ill-mannered tourists!

2) Kyoto City manga denigrating “foreigners”, produced by Kyoto Seika University, has naturalized African-Japanese citizen Dr. Oussouby Sacko as University President!

NJ TREATMENT DURING THE PANDEMIC
3) Debito interviewed by Shingetsu News Agency’s “Speakeasy” forum: “Japan’s Foreign Residents in the Coronavirus”, Apr 27, 2020

… and finally …
4) Debito’s SNA column: “Pandemic Releases Antibodies toward Non-Japanese”, Visible Minorities col 9, April 20, 2020

UPDATE: Kyoto City manga denigrating “foreigners”, produced by Kyoto Seika University, has naturalized African-Japanese citizen Dr. Oussouby Sacko as University President!

A little over a week ago, Debito.org issued a report from a Kyoto NJ Resident who protested an official comic book, issued by the City of Kyoto to local grade schoolers, depicting NJ only as noisy English-speaking tourists, litterers, and loiterers.  And how local residents managed to get Kyoto City to remove that comic with a phone call of protest.  (Even that blog post had an impact:  It smoked out a Gaijin Handler who tried to blame us as a foreign “troublemaking demographic” wasting Japan’s money.) That’s fine.  The irony here was that the people who developed this comic were Kyoto Seika University and the Kyoto International Manga Museum — “international” places you think would know better than to encourage prejudice. 

Well, I’m not sure why this didn’t dawn on me sooner, but as pointed out on FB, Kyoto Seika University just happens to have a naturalized Malian-Japanese named Dr. Oussouby Sacko as its President (see Debito.org posts on him here and here).  I wonder if he was aware of this project, and if he would have anything to say about it now? Given Dr. Sacko’s flawed social science training regarding how racism works, and his apparent obliviousness about his own privilege in Japan, I’m not so sure. (Dr. Sacko’s only apparent public contact is at ksuinted@kyoto-seika.ac.jp.)

Anyway, here is Kyoto Seika University’s statement of principles, undersigned by the man himself.  How does this square with being involved in encouraging prejudice in Japan’s grade-schoolers?

Debito interviewed by Shingetsu News Agency’s “Speakeasy” forum: “Japan’s Foreign Residents in the Coronavirus”, Apr 27, 2020

In lieu of a longer blog entry, here’s an interview I had with the Shingetsu News Agency, in one of their “Speakeasys” (YouTube, 25 minutes). I’m making the case that the GOJ could be doing a much worse job taking care of their NJ Residents, but that’s because people have been vigilant about potential human rights abuses. It could very easily revert to racist and exclusionary habits if systems get overloaded or panic hits. Also, I argue that it’s also incumbent upon NJ Residents themselves to step out of their “Guestism” mentalities and claim their due as taxpayers and residents.

Kyoto Nakagyou-ku issues comic book on local street safety to grade schoolers, created by Kyoto Seika Univ & Kyoto International Manga Museum, portraying “foreigners” as unintelligible ill-mannered tourists!

As I recently said in an interview with the Shingetsu News Agency, people who live in Japan (including NJ Residents) have to speak up if they feel they are being unfairly treated or depicted in public.  And they do, sometimes with success.

Consider the case of RJO below, who writes that he saw a Kyoto Government comic book (ironically, scripted and edited by Kyoto Seika University, in conjunction with the Kyoto International Manga Museum!) issued to local grade-school children about traffic safety (a concern in Kyoto for commuting kids). Amidst other concerns, the booklet veered off on a tangent to target and alienate “foreigners” (not to mention Visible Minorities) as loud, ill-mannered loiterers and litterers.

That’s the NJ Community’s only appearance in the comic — as guests (not residents).  Of course, according to eyewitness reports (and personal experience), this is in spite of all the ill-mannered loud littering Japanese around Kyoto as well.  (Those kind of manners, you see, are exogenous to Japan.  Even an elementary school student knows that.  Now!)

The good news is that RJO and a friend took this up on Facebook, then directly with the City Government. Within hours the downloadable link to this pamphlet disappeared! RJO tells his story below. Good job. Again, if you live here as a Resident, you have to make yourself known as one sometimes. Demand non-differential treatment. And definitely demand not to be alienated in a primary school setting!

Debito’s SNA column: “Pandemic Releases Antibodies toward Non-Japanese”, Visible Minorities col 9, April 20, 2020

My regular monthly Visible Minorities column is out at the Shingetsu News Agency, where I talk about how Japan is reverting to exclusionary type (egged on by an unaccountable ruling elite) when dealing with minorities in pandemic times. People in Japan are generally “live and let live” and “keep calm and carry on” when it comes to treating each other. It’s Japan’s incompetent leaders (notably a self-hating haafu American-Japanese politician named Onoda Kimi) who normalize discrimination in the name of shifting blame, I’m arguing. Here’s the column’s opening:

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SNA (Tokyo) — Pandemics can bring out the best in people. Newton came up with theories on calculus, optics, and gravity while in quarantine. Shakespeare wrote some of his best plays, and Edvard Munch created iconic paintings in isolation. Even today, we’re seeing heroes in the health care industry, volunteers sewing and distributing basic personal protective equipment, neighbors checking up on each other, and leaders stepping up their organizational skills. When the daily normal becomes a struggle between life and death, we see what people are really made of.

In Japan, we’re seeing much of the “keep calm and carry on” mettle found in a society girded for frequent natural disasters. But that grit hasn’t trickled upward to Japan’s political elite, which has ruled largely without accountability for generations, and at times like these appears particularly out of touch. More concerned about the economics of cancelling the Tokyo Olympics than about the safety of the general public, Japan’s policymakers haven’t conducted adequate Covid-19 testing, exercised timely or sufficient social distancing, or even tallied accurate infection statistics.

As happened in prior outbreaks, such as SARS and AIDS, leaders have deflected blame onto foreigners. First China, then outsiders in general, starting with the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship (which, despite a third of its passengers being Japanese citizens, was even excluded from Japan’s coronavirus patient tallies). But treating outsiders like contagion has consequences: Society develops antibodies, and Japan’s already-normalized discrimination intensifies. Consider the case of Mio Sugita, a Liberal Democratic Party Lower House Diet Member from Tottori…

Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/04/20/visible-minorities-pandemic-releases-antibodies-toward-non-japanese/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 20, 2020

Table of Contents:
1) Calling Debito.org Readers: How is life for you in COVID Japan?
2) COVID-inspired racism as NJ Residents are separated and “othered” from fellow Japan taxpayers by Dietmembers and bureaucrats
3) Japan’s reaction to coronavirus: Bigots excluding NJ residents from restaurants. Saitama Korean schools denied protective mask distribution because they might “sell off” the masks.
4) APJ-Japan Focus’s Jeff Kingston on PM Abe and postponement of 2020 Tokyo Olympics; plus the inhumanity of the Japanese Govt.
And finally…
5) Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 8: “No Free Pass for Japan’s Shirking Responsibility”, Mar 16, 2020

Calling Debito.org Readers: How is life for you in COVID Japan?

This time I’d like to hear how life during pandemic is going in Japan from you. Hearing about how government policy and civil society affects Debito.org Readers is just as important as any old essay from me. Let me open the floor for discussion in the Comments Section by asking a few prompt questions:

1) Have you witnessed the effects of Japanese Government policy, especially when compared with what’s being put into effect in other countries (such as official calls at the local level for social distancing, the state of emergency in several prefectures, etc.)?  How would you gauge their effectiveness?

2) Have you been or do you know of anyone who has been sick with COVID? Has anyone you know been tested yet?  How were they processed by officials and treated by their peers/neighbors?

3) How is your workplace reacting to this pandemic?  Are your bosses giving you space to distance, or is it still basically business as usual with rudimentary PPE (i.e., masks etc.)?  Is there any resistance to working from home?  If so, what and why?

4) Is there still panic buying of products, and if so, what are there currently shortages of?  Any pet theories as to why?

5) Do you see much difference in your treatment by Japanese society or media for being NJ (or a Visible Minority) due to the pandemic?  Are things better, worse, or basically the same?

6) What (national and local) media messages are you seeing about NJ in Japan?

For example. And if you’re not in Japan, please tell us where you are and what’s going on around you, too (and if you can, compare it with Japan). Thanks.  We’re looking forward to your stories.

COVID-inspired racism as NJ Residents are separated and “othered” from fellow Japan taxpayers by Dietmembers and bureaucrats

We are witnessing the logical extension of generations of Wajin not seeing “foreigners” as part of Japan, i.e., where minorities are apparently nonexistent in Postwar Japan’s “monocultural, monoethnic homogeneous society” narrative. It thus follows that Non-Japanese regardless of residency status in Japan are perpetually classified and treated as “guests”, subject to the whims of the Wajin majority to grant them any human rights, legal status, or access to public services.  Book “Embedded Racism” has taken up this issue in great detail.

Now in this time of pandemic crisis, we’re seeing people revert to type and say that “foreigners don’t deserve the same government support as Japanese”, even though NJ Residents are paying taxes and living in Japan like any other people. The most recent manifestation has been self-hating Upper House Dietmember Onoda Kimi, an American-Japanese (father is American) representing Okayama (this place seems to spawn racists).  She argues on Twitter that NJ Residents should not be granted the same access to proposed government cash subsidies for taxpayers in financial hardship. As does fellow Lower House Dietmember Sugita Mio (who has come out as anti-LGBT in the past). And then there are the government agencies listed below who are resorting to SOP to differentiate, “other”, and subordinate NJ Residents as a matter of course.

APJ-Japan Focus’s Jeff Kingston on PM Abe and postponement of 2020 Tokyo Olympics; plus the inhumanity of the Japanese Govt

It’s time to talk about the politics of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and how Prime Minister Abe has put Japan at risk for the sake of a sports meet. Dr. Jeff Kingston of Temple University Japan has posted a salient article today about the politicking between Abe’s minions and and the International Olympic Committee, and how Abe may exploit any crisis he exacerbated for his own political benefit.  It’s very much worth a read.

Kingston Abstract: Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has been widely criticized for ineptitude in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Keen to host the Olympics in 2020, he put public health at risk. Strong international criticism finally forced the IOC and Abe to accept the inevitable and defer the Olympics until 2021. Now both parties are now trying to claim credit for making this decision. The Japanese policy of limiting testing kept policymakers and citizens in the dark and handicapped responses to the outbreak. As the number of infections surges, the government is playing catch up. The combination of an accelerating COVID-19 outbreak in Japan and imminent global economic recession will hit Japan hard and could lead to Abe’s ouster. For now, there are growing concerns that he may exploit this crisis to advance his political agenda of constitutional revision.

Comment: All because the people who have money would rather risk the lives of the elderly and immunocompromised (as happened in the 1980s with Japan’s Health Ministry and HIV-tainted blood) than let any economic impacts of postponing an Olympics reduce their political power or their already-stuffed wallets. The short-sightedness and greed of people richer than God who won’t subsidize consumers and taxpayers (who have long subsidized THEIR lives) is astonishing.  Especially since a dead consumer/taxpayer and their remaining resentful kith and kin is of no use to them either.  This should be pointed out at every opportunity.

Instead (and this where the Debito.org subject matter comes in), we have media trying to blame foreigners again.  We’ve already seen the regular knee-jerk reaction (seen in health scares ere: e.g., “NJ have AIDS” (1986), “NJ have SARS” (2003)) of treating it as a “Chinese virus” (and singling out Yokohama’s Chinatown).  Or even just as a general “foreign virus” and shutting out all “foreign” customers.  But since we can’t blame foreign tourists anymore (world tourism has screeched to a halt), we’re now seeing regular media portraying this as a “returnee” virus, where Japanese returning from infected gaikoku are stigmatized. Anything but blame the government for their political decision not embarrass or disrupt by testing widely and bringing on the lockdown.  People will die for this. Again, all for the sake of a sports meet.

Japan’s reaction to coronavirus: Bigots excluding NJ residents from restaurants. Saitama Korean schools denied protective mask distribution because they might “sell off” the masks.

As expected (since this sort of thing is happening worldwide), the bigots unfettered by any laws against racial discrimination in Japan are doing what they do best — bigotry — portraying Covid-19 as a “foreign” virus, and making sure that foreigners don’t get the same public service or protections against it:

Hankyoreh: According to a Mar. 11 report in the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) newspaper Choson Sinbo, the city of Saitama in Saitama Prefecture excluded Saitama Korean Kindergarten and private academies from its plans to distribute 240,000 of the city’s stockpile of masks to employees working in daycare centers, kindergarten, after-school academies, and senior citizen facilities in Saitama. Upon learning of this, the principal of Saitama Korean Kindergarten inquired with the city on Mar. 10 and was told by a city official that the Korean kindergarten “is not considered a facility under Saitama city guidance and oversight, and instruction cannot be provided in cases where the masks are used inappropriately,” the newspaper reported. […] Kyodo News also reported a Saitama city employee as suggesting that masks might be “sold off” if provided to Korean kindergartens.

Kotaku: Ueno Sanji, a ramen restaurant in Tokyo, is only allowing Japanese customers due to COVID-19 concerns. The owner (pictured) claims that this is not discrimination but his duty to protect his family, his employees and his loyal customers. At Ueno Sanji, a ramen restaurant in Tokyo, an English language sign was posted reading, “Sorry!! Japanese Only Sorry!!” […] The above tweet reads: “Starting today, as a countermeasure to the coronavirus, [this restaurant] is Japanese only. I have a responsibility to protect my family, my staff and Sanji junkies. Please understand that this is not discrimination.” On Twitter, people replied in Japanese that this was in fact discrimination and even hate speech. Others pointed out that viruses don’t pay attention to nationality.

Finally, Tokyo NJ Resident Sam Byford tweeted a photo from a local establishment with a sign in English refusing service to all foreigners due to the Coronavirus, with a sign in Japanese below advising customers that disinfecting measures will be taken but the shop was still open to them. A request to Byford for more information on the location of this establishment received no reply.

Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 8: “No Free Pass for Japan’s Shirking Responsibility”, Mar 16, 2020

SNA (Tokyo) — There’s an oft-used expression in Japanese: sekinin tenka. Best translated as “passing the buck,” it’s a reflex of dodging blame for one’s own actions by transferring responsibility to others. For too long, Japan has done so on the world stage with impunity—even when it affects the world adversely.

Let’s start with, since it’s timely, the 3.11 Fukushima nuclear meltdown that took place nine years ago this month. While the earthquake and tsunami are not Japan’s fault, situating a nuclear power plant so perilously close to the coastline is; as is the perpetually-botched response of containment and leakage (even the willful dumping) of irradiated water into the Pacific Ocean.

Contrast that with the attention and criticism (and even a TV series) Russia got for Chernobyl, where the situation has finally been contained in a sarcophagus. In Japan, officials instead blamed world standards of safe radiation levels for being alarmist (adjusting them upwards for domestic political purposes) and declared Fukushima produce safe for consumption.

Even more timely is how sekinin tenka influenced Japan’s Covid-19 response…
Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/03/16/visible-minorities-no-free-pass-for-shirking-responsibility/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 16, 2020

Table of Contents:
DIVERSITY AND ITS ADVERSARIES
1) 2020 Tokyo Olympics drops Ainu performance from its Opening Ceremonies, despite 2019 law officially recognizing and promoting them as an indigenous people in Japan
2) BBC: “Is Japan embracing diversity?” A Pollyannaish article highlighting a few celebrity examples without data on broad public attitudes or government policy re immigration
3) DF on Chugoku bank unlawfully demanding to check NJ customers’ visa stay durations and photocopy their Gaijin Cards, or face discontinuation of service
4) Senaiho “Hair Police” School Bullying Case Update 4: Civil lawsuit launched against school bullies, gaining traction with other international couples
5) “Gaikokujin Shimin”: Kawaguchi City Mayor Okunoki (kinda) answers a query about the racialized application of this term that officially makes Japanese into “foreigners” (UPDATED)
RECENT DEBITO COLUMNS
6) SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020
7) My Japan Times JBC 118: “Remain calm when stopped by the police”, on what to do if stopped by Japanese police for an Instant ID Checkpoint, Jan 20, 2020
… and finally…
8 ) My SNA Visible Minorities column 7: “Japan’s Botched Response to the Diamond Princess Coronavirus isn’t Racism; it’s Stupidity”, Feb 17, 2020

DF on Chugoku bank unlawfully demanding to check NJ customers’ visa stay durations and photocopy their Gaijin Cards, or face discontinuation of service

From time to time Debito.org gets sent information from NJ residents being harassed by Japanese officialdom and businesses for the most basic things.  Such as checking into a hotel or using a bank.  Or being treated as objects of mistrust in official “Blame Games”.  Or being demanded unnecessary steps just to live their daily lives or conduct regular business. It encourages racial profiling even further, in addition to what you already have at Japan’s hotels and other public accommodation, police instant ID checkpoints, and tax agencies.  (See here too).  

Such as the following case below, where Chugoku Bank is demanding a Visa Check in order to maintain (not open; maintain) a bank account.  (In their words, “we have elected to confirm the period of stay for customers whose period of stay and other details have not been confirmed”  Meaning their nosying into somebody’s visa status is not even under the pretense of some legal requirement.)  And of course, in this era of identity theft that even foreign governments warn you against, Chugoku Bank wants to make a photocopy of the person’s ID, it turns out, for no reason whatsoever but reflex.

Submitter DF: Hi Debito, I recently got the attached postcard from my bank, Chugoku Ginkou. It says that I have to go in and verify that I am in the country legally to keep using my bank account. I went in today and they wanted to make a photocopy of my card. Is this legal? They claimed that they are doing so at the request of the government, which I’m sure is true, and that they need a copy for “filing”, which I am not sure is true. I told them that the card can usually only be requested by a police officer or an immigration agent. I finally relented only after they explained that they also photocopy other customer’s driver’s licenses. I offered my driver’s license, but they declined. I noticed that other than my visa status (PR), there is really no info on there that they don’t already have. Who is in the right here, legally?

BBC: “Is Japan embracing diversity?” A Pollyannaish article highlighting a few celebrity examples without data on broad public attitudes or government policy re immigration

BBC: Ahead of the Rugby World Cup held in Japan last year, a Japanese sports magazine, asked the national team’s captain, “Why are there so many foreigners in Japan’s squad?” The 31-year-old captain, Michael Leitch, originally from New Zealand, answered (in Japanese), “Because that’s how Japan is today. The rugby national team reflects the reality of current Japan, and also anticipates the future of Japan. As a team, we can embody and show society just how important diversity is.”
[…]
In Japan, rugby is famous for the phrase “no-side”, meaning once the referee blows the whistle to end the match, there are no more foes, only fellow players. While this phrase is no longer widely used, it has lodged itself firmly in the national consciousness of Japan. Athletes there with foreign roots are still called “players from a foreign country”. But in a country where the concept of wa is considered a fundamental virtue, there is hope that an increasingly visible “other” Japan in a changing society can lead it to being the natural state of things.

COMMENT: Here we have another one of those hopeful “Japan is changing” articles we get from time to time. BBC Reporter Okazaki clearly starts from a tack and then works backwards to find evidence to support it. But as Submitter FB pointed out quite succinctly, the article “highlights a few celebrity examples without any data on broad public attitudes or government policy towards immigration. The fact that 3rd generation ethnic Koreans aren’t citizens is the most telling fact of intransigence towards diversity.” Touche.  

So let’s just draw a line in the sand here with a clear litmus test:  At a bare minimum, until Japan’s historical aberration of “Zainichi” status is finally resolved by the Japanese government, and “generational foreigners” are legally accepted as diverse AND Japanese, Japan can never claim to be truly accepting of diversity.  Full stop.  Do that, and then we’ll start talking about how “Japan is changing” for a news peg.  For one cannot ignore the historical contributions and sacrifices of Japan’s minorities, particularly the Zainichi, no matter what cosmetic overtures one might make in public towards a few token Visible Minorities for the sake of overseas media consumption.

2020 Tokyo Olympics drops Ainu performance from its Opening Ceremonies, despite 2019 law officially recognizing and promoting them as an indigenous people in Japan

Guardian: Japan’s commitment to the rights of its indigenous people has been questioned after organisers of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics dropped a performance by members of the Ainu ethnic minority from the Games’ opening ceremony. Members of the Ainu community, originally from Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, had been expecting to showcase their culture to the world in a dance at the Olympic stadium, but learned recently that the plans had been scrapped. The Tokyo 2020 organising committee said the performance had been dropped from the ceremony due to “logistical constraints”. “Unfortunately, this particular Ainu dance performance could not be included because of logistical constraints related to the ceremonies,” it said in a statement to the Guardian.

COMMENT: Now that overseas media has finally decided to pick up this story, let’s open a dedicated blog entry to it. Debito.org’s take is that including the Ainu performance for the world to see would have too clearly contradicted the postwar-created and carefully-curated narrative of Japan as a homogeneous monocultural monoethnic society.  In contrast to how numerous Opening Ceremonies elsewhere have showcased the diversity of the hosting country, this is an enormous slap in the face to the Ainu not only socially, but also legally, given the 2019 law that finally recognizes them as Japan’s indigenous people, and promises to help promote their culture. First chance they get, the GOJ fumbles it.

My SNA Visible Minorities column 7: “Japan’s Botched Response to the Diamond Princess Coronavirus isn’t Racism; it’s Stupidity”, Feb 17, 2020

The Diamond Princess cruise ship case (which has been discussed extensively on Debito.org this past week) fell within my SNA monthly column window this time, so here’s my take on it:

Visible Minorities: Japan’s Botched Response to the Coronavirus
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, Feb 17, 2020

SNA (Tokyo) — The drama of cruise ship Diamond Princess, currently moored at Yokohama and quarantined by Japan’s Health Ministry due to some of the 3,700 passengers and crew testing positive for the coronavirus, is a human rights crisis.

The Covid-19 outbreak that originated in China has killed more than 1700 people and sickened tens of thousands.

Here’s my take: Surprise! I’m not going to argue that the prison-ship conditions are due to racism, but more a matter of official stupidity…

Read the rest at the Shingetsu News Agency website at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/02/17/visible-minorities-japans-botched-response-to-the-coronavirus/

Senaiho “Hair Police” School Bullying Case Update 4: Civil lawsuit launched against school bullies, gaining traction with other international couples

Here’s the latest update from NJ resident Senaiho (previous updates three, two, and one here), whose daughter was not only bullied by school peers, but also had her hair forcibly cut by schoolteachers in public, causing her so much PTSD that she dropped out of school.  This is yet another incident of Japan’s institutionalized school bullying of children of color that Debito.org has long called “the Hair Police”. Bullying is rife in Japanese education, but when it’s ignored (or even perpetuated) by officialdom, this feeling of powerlessness will leave children (particularly those NJ children with diverse physical features targeted for “standing out”) and their families scarred for life.  (As discussed at length in book “Embedded Racism”, pg. 154-5.)  

The difference now is that Senaiho has launched an actual civil court case.  Over more than a year now Senaiho has tried other channels, such as taking it before school authorities and asking for criminal investigations, and all they have gotten is stonewalling and official coverup.  So now he’s suing the bullies themselves.  Let’s see what precedent this is going to set.  Given that others are now standing up against insanely intrusive Japanese school conformity rules (“burakku kousoku”, including warmer clothes in winter, freedom of assembly or travel, and even the color of their underwear!), this may be a landmark case.  Meanwhile, Senaiho offers an update with a newspaper clip below.  

“Gaikokujin Shimin”: Kawaguchi City Mayor Okunoki (kinda) answers a query about the racialized application of this term that officially makes Japanese into “foreigners” (UPDATED)

As we’ve talked at length before (it even topped my annual JT Top Ten Human Rights Issues for 2019), city governments have been using a racialized definition of local residents, namely “Gaikokujin Shimin”, that officially classifies even naturalized Japanese citizens, Japanese children with foreign roots, or anyone with connections to a foreign land as “foreigners”. Submitter ABC below offers a letter sent to the Kawaguchi City Government asking for clarification of the uses and effects of this official term. Thankfully, Kawaguchi City Mayor Okunoki Nobuo answered Submitter ABC.  I enclose the query, Okunoki’s answer, and my (updated) translation of the answer, below.

My Japan Times JBC 118: “Remain calm when stopped by the police”, on what to do if stopped by Japanese police for an Instant ID Checkpoint, Jan 20, 2020

JBC: Visible minorities in Japan are in a tough spot in a country where the police have a lot of arbitrary power and few enforceable checks (as we’ve been witnessing recently with the Carlos Ghosn case). As a result, we are facing two decades of police-promoted narratives of “the foreigner” as a visa overstayer and criminal. What follows is my advice on what to do if you face a sudden ID check on the street:

1) Ask why you are being stopped. 2) Ask to see their ID. 3) Use your phone (or ask a friend) to start recording. 4) Ask if compliance is optional, and/or ask for a warrant. 5) Above all, remain calm and polite. Arm yourself with the requisite vocabulary to do all this, contained in this article.

SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020

I have to admit more than a twinge of sympathy for Carlos Ghosn’s Great Escape.

Ghosn, the former CEO of Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault, was arrested in November 2018 on the initial suspicion of falsifying his compensation levels, and subjected to more than a year of Japan’s “hostage justice.” That is, he was held hostage to a judicial system that detains you until you confess to a crime, and subjects you to days, weeks, months, or conceivably even years of interrogation and tortuous conditions until you crack. Understandably, most do crack, and Japan’s conviction rate after indictment is famously more than 99%.

But as you have probably heard, at the end of December Ghosn suddenly turned up in Lebanon, one of three places he has citizenship. Out on bail in Japan, he made a daring escape that people are still trying to piece together, including man-sized musical instrument cases, an uncharacteristic lack of Japanese border security, and a mysterious visit to Lebanon’s president by Japan’s state minister for foreign affairs mere days before Ghosn jumped bail.

Ghosn is now making good on his threat to expose everything that happened to him while in custody. His multilingual press conference in Beirut two weeks ago was breathtaking to watch, full of documentation, pointed fingers, and hot-tongued accusations of the human rights denied to Japan’s incarcerated.

This has been covered exhaustively worldwide, so what more is there to say? My perspective comes as a person who also tried to change Japanese rules and practices, and found that The System similarly fought back dirty…

Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/01/20/visible-minorities-carlos-ghosns-escape-from-japan-was-the-right-move/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 20, 2020

Table of Contents:
1) My SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020
2) Debito.org’s stance on the Carlos Ghosn Case, at last: A boardroom coup making “thin legal soup” that might shame Japan’s “hostage justice” judicial system into reform (updated for the Great Escape)
3) Finance Minister Aso apologizes if ‘single-race nation’ remark (essentially denying Japan’s officially-recognized multiethnic society) was “misunderstood”
4) My SNA Visible Minorities column 5: “Local Governments Classifying Japanese Citizens as Foreigners”, Dec. 16, 2019
5) “Every Foreign Guest must present passport for photocopying” at Hotel Crown Hills Kokura; Japanese Police up to same old unlawful tricks in Fukuoka Prefecture

… and finally…
6) My Japan Times JBC column 117: The annual Top Ten for 2019 of human rights issues as they affected NJ residents in Japan

Finance Minister Aso apologizes if ‘single-race nation’ remark (essentially denying Japan’s officially-recognized multiethnic society) was “misunderstood”

Asahi: After more than a century of forced assimilation and discrimination, the Ainu people were finally recognized as indigenous under legislation enacted in May 2019. But [Finance Minister Taro Aso] apparently forgot about that legislation when he gave a speech at a Jan. 13 meeting with his supporters in his electoral turf of Nogata, Fukuoka Prefecture. “There is no other nation but (Japan) where a single race has spoken a single language at a single location and maintained a single dynasty with a single emperor for over 2,000 years,” said Aso, who is also deputy prime minister. “It is a great nation.” “If my remarks caused a misunderstanding, I apologize and will correct them” Aso said after a Cabinet meeting in Tokyo. [On Jan. 14 he] sort of apologized: “I have no intention of denying the government’s policy.”

COMMENT:  Now, watching an LDP dinosaur making statements like this (who keeps getting re-elected) is frustrating as hell. However, a) it’s refreshing that he “sort of apologized” (we’ve had plenty of these fossilized statements in the past not even getting that much, or even being doubled-down upon by bonafide bigots who nevertheless get re-elected); and b) we have official policy enacted last year (as noted in my annual JT Top Ten Human Rights List for 2019) that has declared the Ainu an indigenous people, meaning Japan is officially multiethnic.  Even Asole himself wasn’t going to (officially) contradict that.  Good news, sort of.

My Japan Times JBC column 117: The annual Top Ten for 2019 of human rights issues as they affected NJ residents in Japan, Jan 6, 2020

For over a decade, Just Be Cause has recapped the previous year’s biggest human rights and human rights-related issues that have affected the non-Japanese community in Japan.

With the start of a new decade upon us, I thought it would be appropriate to mix a little of what was going on in 2019 and connect it to the broader topics that came up during the 2010s. Some are victories, some are losses — some are dangerous losses — but all of the entries below (in ascending order) are at the very least highly relevant to all of us.

Bubbling under:
• The Ainu Recognition Law passes last February, meaning Japan is officially multiethnic.
• Donald Keene, scholar who opened Japanese literature to the world but senselessly portrayed fellow NJ residents as criminals and cowards, dies aged 96.
• Sadako Ogata, UN superstar for refugees who did surprisingly little for refugees in Japan, dies aged 92.
• Yasuhiro Nakasone, assertive former Prime Minister with a history of claiming Japan’s superior intelligence due to a lack of ethnic minorities, and of operating wartime “comfort women” stations, dies aged 101.
• Shinzo Abe becomes Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister.

10) Otaru Onsens Case, 20 years on
9) Diversity in Japanese sports
8) Japan’s students challenge draconian rules (hair and underwear policing, etc)

See if your favorite issue made the Top Ten (yes, Ghosn did, again).  Read the rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/01/06/issues/japan-international-community-2019/

Debito.org’s stance on the Carlos Ghosn Case, at last: A boardroom coup making “thin legal soup” that might shame Japan’s “hostage justice” judicial system into reform

ED’S NOTE DEC 31, 2019:  UPDATING THIS POST FROM FEB 2019 BECAUSE OF CARLOS GHOSN’S REEMERGENCE IN BEIRUT, HAVING SOMEHOW ESCAPED FROM THE CLUTCHES OF THE JAPANESE JUDICIARY.  THE BEST ARTICLE I’VE FOUND ON THIS EVENT IS ON THE DAILY BEAST HERE. DEBITO.ORG HAS COME DOWN DECISIVELY IN FAVOR OF GHOSN’S ESCAPE, AS CH 6 OF BOOK “EMBEDDED RACISM” DEPICTS JAPAN’S JUDICIARY AS DECIDEDLY AGAINST JUSTICE FOR NJ CAUGHT IN THEIR “HOSTAGE JUSTICE” SYSTEM.  FACT IS, GHOSN NEVER STOOD A CHANCE OF A FAIR TRIAL, ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF ALLEGATIONS THAT HAVE SURFACED LATER THAT INDICATE NISSAN’S OWN (JAPANESE) CEO IS JUST AS GUILTY OF SIMILAR “CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR” THAT DID NOT RESULT IN ARRESTS.  READ ON FOR THE REASON WHY DEBITO.ORG BELIEVES THE GHOSN CASE WAS A FLIMSY ONE FROM THE START:

Debito.org has been holding back on commenting on the Carlos Ghosn arrest and perpetual interrogation. But now that Ghosn has had practically unprecedented access to the media (see article below), and stands as a cautionary tale for any foreign businessman thinking they could get away with being a CEO of a Japanese company, it’s time to say something. Here goes:

COMMENT: The former CEO of Nissan and Mitsubishi motors, Ghosn was arrested last November and indicted in December for inter alia allegedly underreporting his income for tax purposes. As of this writing, he remains in police custody for the 23-day cycles of interrogations and re-arrests, until he confesses to a crime. Ghosn’s arrest shows how far you can fall if you’re foreign. Especially if you’re foreign.

One red flag was that the only two people arrested in this fiasco have been foreign: Ghosn and his associate, Greg Kelly. Kelly is now out on bail due to health concerns. But where are the others doing similar malfeasances? According to Reuters, Kobe Steel underreported income in 2008, 2011, and 2013, and committed data fraud for “nearly five decades.” Same with Toray and Ube Industries, Olympus, Takata, Mitsubishi Materials, Nissan, and Subaru. Who’s been arrested? Nobody but those two foreigners.

And Japan’s judicial system has a separate track for NJ suspects, including harsher jurisprudence for NJs accused of crimes, lax jurisprudence for NJ victims of crimes, uneven language translation services, general denial of bail for NJ, an extra incarceration system for subsequent visa violations while in jail, and incarceration rates for NJs four times that for citizens. Most indicative of separate and unequal treatment is that some of the accusations, which fall under a statute of limitations of seven years under the Companies Act, are still applicable. Prosecutors have argued that statutes do not apply to Ghosn because he spent time overseas. Apparently even the passage of time is different for foreigners, because the clock stops if they ever leave Japan!

It’s Debito.org’s view that this was a boardroom coup. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Ghosn was planning to oust a rival, Hiroto Saikawa, who has since taken Ghosn’s place as CEO. A similar thing happened to at Olympus in 2011, when CEO Michael Woodford broke ranks and came clean on boardroom grift. He was fired for not understanding “Japanese culture,” since that’s the easiest thing to pin on any foreigner. But in Woodford’s case, he was fired, not arrested and subjected to Japan’s peculiar system of “hostage justice” police detention, where detainees are denied access to basic amenities (including sleep or lawyers) for weeks at a time, and interrogated until they crack and confess, with more than 99% conviction rates.

The good news is that finally overseas media is waking up to what Japan’s Federation of Bar Associations and the UN Committee Against Torture have respectively called “a breeding ground for false charges” and “tantamount to torture.” Funny thing is, if this had happened in China, we’d have had howls much sooner about the gross violations of Ghosn’s human rights.

My SNA Visible Minorities column 5: “Local Governments Classifying Japanese Citizens as Foreigners”, Dec. 16, 2019

SNA (Tokyo) — According to the Japanese government, our resident Non-Japanese (NJ) population reached yet another new record, at 2.8 million last June. Last April, Japan started offering new visa regimes to greatly expand the NJ labor force, in response to Japan’s aging society and shrinking population. This, plus steady numbers of permanent residents, international marriages, and naturalizing citizens, are expanding our multicultural and multiethnic communities.

In response, local governments have been trying to accommodate the diversity through new concepts and policies. It started in earnest as far back as 2001 with the Hamamatsu Declaration, where multiple cities and towns near Shizuoka Prefecture called upon the national government to assist them in providing their NJ residents with education, welfare benefits, and streamlined administration. Since then, local governments have generally made positive proposals in good faith.

But sometimes they get it wrong. Last month, Debito.org reported how the city of Nagoya uses a very problematic term in their documents: Gaikokujin Shimin. The closest translation would be a “foreigner city resident/citizen” (as opposed to, er, a gaikokujin kokumin, the contradictory “foreigner Japanese citizen”?). But the point is that people covered by this term officially belong in the city as dwellers and participants.

The concept sounds inclusive until you see how it’s officially being defined. According to one of Nagoya city’s “General Plans,” dated August 2018, a Gaikokujin Shimin is, as I translate it from the text: “In addition to people with foreign nationalities with an address within Nagoya city, people like those who obtained Japanese citizenship, children born from international marriages, people with foreign cultures in their backgrounds, and people who have foreign roots.” (Original Japanese: 名古屋市内に住所を有する外国籍の人のほか、日本国籍を取得した人や国際結婚によって生まれた子どもなど外国の文化を背景に持つ人など、外国にルーツを持つ人。)
Let’s mull that over:
Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/12/16/visible-minorities-local-governments-classifying-japanese-citizens-as-foreigners/

“Every Foreign Guest must present passport for photocopying” at Hotel Crown Hills Kokura; Japanese Police up to same old unlawful tricks in Fukuoka Prefecture

Submitter MR: I made a reservation for a buddy on Japanese-language Rakuten Travel (楽天トラベル) website at the Hotel Crown Hills Kokura.  At check in tonight (12/9/19) at around 7:45PM, the Front Desk asked for his passport to photocopy.  He is a Permanent Resident (永住者), so I intervened and told them so.  They then immediately withdrew the request for the passport, but still asked for and checked his Gaijin Card (在留カード).

COMMENT: The hotel displayed yet another multilingual sign (Japanese, English, Korean, Chinese, and Arabic) produced by the Japanese Police that ignores the law and encourages racial profiling.  This one not only lists the approval of the Fukuoka Prefectural Police (and erroneously cites the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare), but also all Fukuoka Prefectural Public Health Departments (Fukuoka Kennai Kaku Hokenjo).  Even though we’ve already had at least one Hokenjo (in Mito) correct the overzealous local police before on the letter of the law, which is:

If you have an address in Japan, you do not have to show any ID at a hotel check in.  Just write that address in the hotel guest book.  That goes for Japanese and NJ residents of Japan. The law on hotel (and minpaku) ID checks only applies to foreign tourists without an address in Japan.  So demand it be it enforced.  

Meanwhile, if you want to do what Debito.org Reader Onur did some months ago, contact the local Hokenjo and get the law corrected.  Clearly the Japanese police are not going to police themselves. Or if you want to do something to stop this happening to you, download a file substantiating that you don’t have to show any ID as a resident of Japan here: http://www.debito.org/newhotelpassportlaw.jpg

SITYS: MH Fox translation: “Gangsters and foreigners have no rights”, book excerpt by former J prosecutor Ichikawa Hiroshi Ichikawa on jiadep.org

A translation of Chapter 2 (Yakuza to gaikokujin ni jinken wa nai ) from the book Kenji Shikkaku ( A Prosecutor Debarred ) by Hiroshi Ichikawa. Published by Mainichi Shinbunsha, 2012. Copyright, 2019-Japan Innocence and Death Penalty Information Center, excerpt reprinted on Debito.org with kind permission.

Translator’s Introduction: Hiroshi Ichikawa was born in Kanagawa in 1965. In 1990, he passed the notoriously difficult national bar exam after graduating from Chuo University. Those who pass the exam then serve a two year judicial apprenticeship and work along judges, prosecutors and attorneys. At the end of this period, the apprentice can decide, for the most part, to become a lawyer, prosecutor, or judge.

“A Prosecutor Debarred” is the tale of a young idealistic jurist whose career began with a commitment to fairness and justice. This is finely demonstrated when Ichikawa anxiously consults a superior after forgetting to advise a suspect of the right to silence during investigation. Some years later, Ichikawa would become mercilessly violent. In 2000, he was working in Saga prefecture in Kyushu, and undertook investigation of a financial scandal involving the Saga city Co-op. While interrogating a recalcitrant suspect, Ichikawa became enraged. He would later be called to testify in court, and admit on the stand to screaming “You lousy SOB. I’ll beat you to death!” in the face of a suspect.

The event was widely broadcast in the media. The suspect was tried and found not guilty in both the court of first instance, and the appeals case. Ichikawa would later be dismissed as a prosecutor, but allowed to continue to practice law, hence ‘debarred’ and not ‘disbarred.’ He performed a dogeza, a deep bow on hands and knees, in public, to the former defendant who was found not guilty. Until recently, this was viewable on YouTube. This chapter begins with Ichikawa’s first day on the job at the Yokohama prosecutor’s office. In Japan, the fiscal year, the employment year, and the school year begin in April.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 27, 2019

Table of Contents:
WHOLESALE ALIENATION BY OFFICIALDOM

1) Dejima Award #7: Nagoya City officially classifies “Foreigner City Denizens” to include “naturalized persons, children of international marriages, people with foreign cultures or roots in their backgrounds”. Viva Eugenics.
2) MH Fox translation: “Gangsters and foreigners have no rights”, by Hiroshi Ichikawa (former prosecutor) on jiadep.org.
3) Mainichi: “‘Prison camps for Brazilians’: Foreign kids in Japan being ushered into special education.” Perpetuates the Japan-“educated” NJ underclass.
4) “Educating the Non-Japanese Underclass”, my Shingetsu News Agency “Visible Minorities” Col 2, Sept 17, 2019.
5) Senaiho Update 3: Civil suit to be launched over school “Hair Police” forced-haircut bullying of student in Yamanashi JHS (UPDATED).

MORE ALIENATION JUST FOR KICKS

6) XY on being racially profiled–by a designated police task force looking for “bad foreigners”–for a traffic fender bender caused by someone else!
7) Reuters: Japanese police urged to take “light-touch” towards NJ during Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup. Yeah, sure.
8 ) ICI Hotel Kanda unlawfully requires ID from all “foreign guests”, including NJ residents of Japan, as a precondition for stay; claims it’s demanded by Tokyo Metropolitan Police (UPDATED).
9) Last word on NJ hotel passport checks (thanks to a lawyer): It’s as Debito.org has said for more than a decade: NJ Residents are exempt from showing any ID.
10) My Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities col 3: “Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins”, October 23, 2019.
11) Fujisankei-owned Japan Today posts article on “What to do if stopped by J police” for Rugby World Cup visitors, after consulting with Debito.org. Then does not acknowledge Debito.org and leaves out valuable advice.
12) Kyoto JET Programme teacher TS on being made homeless due to xenophobic landlord, and Kyoto Board of Education (who found the apartment) refuses to help.
13) Dr. Oussouby Sacko, African-born President of Kyoto Seika U, speaks at JALT, shows more blind spots re racism and tokenism.

… and finally…
14) “The Xeno-Scapegoating of Japanese Halloween”, my SNA Visible Minorities Col 4, Nov 18, 2019.

Dr. Oussouby Sacko, African-born President of Kyoto Seika U, speaks at JALT, shows more blind spots re racism and tokenism

In July 2018, Debito.org talked about a New York Times feature article on Dr. Oussouby Sacko, a Mali-born naturalized Japanese citizen who is currently the President of Kyoto Seika University.  I took a dim view of his views on discrimination by physical appearance in Japan, as he pointedly refused to equate being “treated differently because he does not look Japanese” with racism.  

Then Dr. Sacko gave a plenary and a workshop at the last JALT conference, where he reportedly displayed similar blind spots with regards to both how he set goals in as university president and how he conducted himself with weekly parties that attracted the attention of his neighbors. One correspondent wrote, “I also think it is an interesting illustration of how the high profile foreigner who is really in the minority can effect some change, but that change comes with the caveat that the person has to be treated as a token.”

I conclude that Dr. Sacko is less an oracle and more of a cautionary tale. Educators, especially those who are seen as prominent enough to invited as plenary speakers, are supposed to be experts on what they are speaking of — in this case, according to JALT, “the Japanese context”.  And in research situations, they are required to be self-aware of their position in the society they are studying and opining about.  Dr. Sacko is clearly an expert on his own life.  But given his repeated blind spots toward how he is treated in Japan, to the point where he remains oblivious towards the privilege and tokenism he enjoys as an outsider in Japan (while essentially minimizing/denying the discrimination that happens to other outsiders), I think he is out of his depth in terms of social science.

My SNA Visible Minorities Col 4: “The Xeno-Scapegoating of Japanese Halloween”, Nov 18, 2019

“Madness.” “Mayhem.” “Chaos unfolded.” “Anarchic behavior.” “Police try to subdue massive crowds running amok.” That was how one single article in the Japan Times depicted the big party at Shibuya Crossing last Halloween Night. Other media echoed similarly riotous language, noting the heavy police presence and suspended alcohol sales. Sheer anarchy! Reading all that, you could be forgiven for thinking Shibuya was set aflame and Hachiko knocked off his plinth. But drop by sometime; everything is still there just fine.

Why the alarmist attitude towards Halloween? We don’t see it for the revelry at, say, Japanese sporting events, where Hanshin Tigers fans take over Shinkansens and leap into Osaka rivers; or for annual Seijinshiki Coming of Age Days, where binge drinking and youthful hijinks disrupt boring official ceremonies; or any time of the year in entertainment districts nationwide, with public urination, people passed out on sidewalks or subways, and drunk chinpira picking fights.

Why not? Because those things are normalized. After all, it’s often hard for adults in Japan to have fun without alcohol, and excesses are tolerated as anzen-ben, a “safety valve” for letting off steam given the stresses of life. Why isn’t Halloween treated the same? Because…

Dejima Award #7: Nagoya City officially classifies “Foreigner City Denizens” to include “naturalized persons, children of international marriages, people with foreign cultures or roots in their backgrounds”. Viva Eugenics.

Submitter XY sends official Nagoya City documentation that defines “Foreigner City Denizens” (gaikokujin shimin) as follows:

“In addition to people with foreign nationalities with an address within Nagoya City, this includes people like those who obtained Japanese citizenship, children born from international marriages, people with foreign cultures in their backgrounds, and people who have foreign roots.”

That pretty much makes it clear that you can’t ever be Japanese without “pure” Japanese blood and culture.  In Nagoya, officially that also means you can’t escape being foreign. Ever.  Even if you naturalize, or have a Japanese parent (who alas coupled with a foreigner), have any cultural ties to a foreign country, or have any roots in a foreign land. This not only defies common sense, it also, like the racist Japanese Sumo Association, violates the Nationality Law.

Therefore, for this blatant and ignorant attempt to further classify, stigmatize, and alienate diverse Japanese away from a mythical “pure” Japan free from any foreign influences, I hereby award the coveted Debito.org “Dejima Award” to Nagoya City (only the seventh in Debito.org’s quarter-century of existence), for effectively reviving 19th-century discredited Eugenics theories about thoroughbredness.  That any Japanese tainted by foreign blood, culture, roots or ties is to be classified as a foreigner.

Senaiho Update 3: Civil suit to be launched over school “Hair Police” forced-haircut bullying of student in Yamanashi JHS (UPDATED)

This is an update to the Senaiho Case of Junior High School bullying in Yamanashi, where a student three years ago had her hair forcibly cut by her Japanese school’s “hair police” (i.e., her teachers) against her will, resulting in trauma to the point where she could no longer attend.  Debito.org has been covering this case for years (previous entries here, here, and here). The news is that the family, working through “proper channels” to no effect (in fact, the opposite — officialdom harassed the victims further), are officially taking the bullies to court:

Senaiho: Since my last update stating that the prosecutors office found insufficient evidence to proceed with charges, we have been working on the basis of filing a civil suit against the city of Yamanashi seeking a monetary amount of 7 million yen and a suit against the guardians of the perpetrators of the bullying seeking 5 million yen. This suit will be filed on the 8th of this month. This will be followed by a press conference at the press club office in the prefecture building. The basis of the suit will be that our daughter was bullied and as a result of this, the school teachers cut her hair without her consent. This resulted in her being traumatised to the point of not being able to attend the last two years of her middle school education and requiring professional counseling, along with medical treatment for insomnia.

Since the original incident in ’16, many of the people involved have retired, transfered, divorced, and even been imprisoned, such as the former mayor of Yamanashi (for unrelated crimes). This however does not decrease the liability of the city or the perpetrators. It does make it difficult for those in charge though who have to catch up, but that is their problem. This will be a long process though, probably two years at least and there is no guarantee we will come through as we wish, but if our daughter understands that what happened to her is not her fault, it will be a victory.

My Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities col 3: “Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins”, October 23, 2019

SNA: It’s dehumanizing to be denied service somewhere, not for what you did, but for who you are, and to realize that discrimination is real.

In Japan, your first experience might be with your apartment search—realtors may deny you a home simply because “the landlord doesn’t like foreigners.”

Sadly, there’s little you can do: racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan, even in 2019. You could report what happened to the Ministry of Justice’s Human Rights Bureau (which will generally do nothing), or take them to court where you’re at the mercy of a judge susceptible to narratives of “foreigners are different/difficult, so refusing them is okay,” which is known legally as “rational discrimination.” Still, you will need a place right away to call home.

Eventually, after getting an interlocutor to negotiate or an employer to vouch for you, you find one. You’ll forget about what happened. Something like this doesn’t happen every day, right?

But it may occur the next time you want a hotel room. Given the tourism boom and hosted international sports events, racial profiling and discrimination have become widespread in Japan’s hoteling industry. This is particularly insidious because it’s not just the occasional bigoted landlord calling the shots; this time it’s the Japanese police…

Last word on NJ hotel passport checks (thanks to a lawyer): It’s as Debito.org has said for more than a decade: NJ Residents are exempt from showing any ID.

Debito.org Reader Mamoru sends along a recent poster produced by the Shizuoka Police confirming that there are two separate tracks for guests at Japanese hotel check-ins:  One for Foreign Tourists, and another one for ALL Residents of Japan regardless of nationality (Japanese and NJ):

Confirmed is that Foreign Tourists with no address in Japan must show ID, meaning a passport.  Some places will require, as per local ordinance, that passport to be photocopied.  (Despite various governments criticizing the potential dangers of this practice, including fraud and identity theft:  The Canadian Government, for example, explicitly says, “You take all responsibility for giving information in your passport to a third party.”)

But then the Shizuoka Police use “weasel words” in their poster that make it look like hoteliers must check the ID of ALL guests. (In practice, however, this will mean that NJ will be checked, as hotels have always thought.) However, still NOWHERE in the law requires NJ Residents of Japan to show any ID after writing down their details in the hotel Guest Book.

The fact that even this Shizuoka Police poster is being intentionally confusing and misleading about the law (or ministerial directive) indicates once again that, despite well over a decade of corrections and clarifications via The Japan Times, Debito.org, and even the US Embassy, the Japanese Police are continuing to bend the law, and encouraging hotels to racially profile their “foreign” guests.

Reuters: Japanese police urged to take “light-touch” towards NJ during Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup. Yeah, sure.

It turns out Japan has earned a reputation from past experiences hosting international events.  The racism-riddled debacles that were the soccer World Cup 2002 and the G8 Summits made me question whether Japan as a society (let alone its politicians and police) was mature enough to handle any temporary influx of NJ, let alone as visa-legal NJ workers and residents of Japan.

But it seems it wasn’t just me noticing. Some months ago, the Rugby World Cup and staff from two embassies actually cautioned the Japanese police to ease up on their overzealousness towards NJ.  As previous blog entries have shown, it’s questionable whether they are actually doing that (as they are bending the law to encourage racial profiling at hotels etc.). The following article deserves to be recorded on Debito.org because it shows at least somebody out there is taking notice, despite all the official “omotenashi” wallpapering over Japan’s latent exclusionism that goes ignored, if not encouraged, by Japanese authorities.  I look forward to seeing what the International Olympic Committee has to say in Tokyo in a year.

Reuters: Japanese police have been encouraged to take a “light-touch approach” during the Rugby World Cup, with organisers telling Reuters they had visited host cities to emphasise that while fans will be boisterous they are unlikely to cause trouble. More than 400,000 foreign fans are expected to descend on Japan for the Sept. 20 to Nov. 2 tournament and concerns have been raised that police might not have enough experience to deal with the influx. Staff from two embassies have expressed concern to Reuters that police may overreact to perceived intimidation from fans.