One more Bucket List item removed: Meeting Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran; here’s my playlist

Coming out of Debito.org’s Summer Vacation briefly with some good news: Long-time readers of Debito.org know what a deep appreciation I have for ’80s band Duran Duran — which is still putting out good albums chock full of good music (see below), and touring to full arenas. I was at the Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu tonight to catch them (for the second time, the first back in Canandaigua NY on June 26, 1987). Good seats, great setlist. This was their first time playing in Honolulu (they cancelled a previous date in 1994 due to lead singer Simon Le Bon losing his voice), and as the last stop on their current tour (they spent a few days recuperating on-island), they put on an excellent show to a rapt crowd.

And, I’m proud to say, thanks to mutual friend GB, I got a backstage pass. And met and briefly chatted with Simon Le Bon. Yes, a photo of us is enclosed. I’m going to treasure this memory for a lifetime, as I have been following DD assiduously since 1982. Thanks GB. And thanks Simon.

As for people who still think Duran Duran peaked in the mid-1980s, I challenge you to listen to my iPod’s “Damn Good Duran Duran” playlist. (And in terms of musicality, I also challenge you to listen to John Taylor’s bass line on the song “Rio” as an isolated track, and tell me it doesn’t rank up there with Geddy Lee or Tina Weymouth.). Here are 40 remarkable DD songs in the order I play them. You can find them on YouTube if not on iTunes:

Amy Chavez JT obit on “Japan writing giant” Boye De Mente: Let’s not whitewash his devaluation of Japan Studies

Chavez: “Any Japanophile will have at least one of the 30 or so books authored by Boye Lafayette De Mente during his long and prolific writing career in Japan. His works are read by travelers, businesspeople and scholars alike, with offerings ranging from “The Pocket Tokyo Subway Guide” to the “Tuttle Japanese Business Dictionary,” and my personal favorite, “Kata: The Key to Understanding and Dealing with the Japanese.” Several of his books have become classics…”

COMMENT: One the last of the truly old-school postwar “Japan analysts”, who helped set the tone of Japanology as a pseudoscience fueled by stereotype. Check out his list of titles on Wikipedia and you’ll see the undermining of Tuttle as a reliable-source publisher. “Women of the Orient: Intimate Profiles of the World’s Most Feminine Women”, dated 1992, where he boasts of his sexual escapades, and draws broad conclusions about how Asian women please White men like him, anyone? Or if you want something approaching a different kind of lingus, try “The Japanese Have a Word for It: The Complete Guide to Japanese Thought and Culture.” (“Complete”?). Plenty more that anybody actually trained in modern Humanities or Social Sciences would find highly problematic. Eulogies are one thing. But let’s not whitewash this person’s publishing record. “Classic” does mean “influential”, but it should not in this case necessarily imply “good”.

Mainichi Editorial on 1-yr anniv. of Hate Speech Law: “To end hate speech, Japan must face its deep-rooted discriminatory thinking”, offers moral support but few concrete proposals

Mainichi: It has been a year since Japan’s anti-hate speech law took effect. And over that year, the number of demonstrations targeting specific races or ethnicities has apparently declined… It is perfectly natural to make sure that countermeasures against hate speech demonstrations do not lead to curbs on freedom of expression, but hate speech clearly violates human rights. We would like to see local governments across the country consider hate speech regulations in line with local conditions… Meanwhile, it should be remembered that even primary school children use computers and smartphones. Educating school children about online hate ought to be a national project.

COMMENT: We’ve talked before about unsophisticated columns in Japanese media regarding human rights. This one joins them. It wags a few fingers and applauds some local moves to eliminate hate speech, but it still has trouble going beyond vague urgings to actually advocate for the root solution: passing a law with criminal penalties against racial discrimination. Until this law in specific is part of the media’s steady drumbeat of finger-wagging, advocating mere a mere patchwork of local-level patches is again, a half-measure.

Book “Embedded Racism”, acclaimed as “important, courageous and challenging”, now discounted to $34.99 if bought through publisher directly, using promo code LEX30AUTH16

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

According to WorldCat, more than 100 of the world’s major research libraries (including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, Columbia…) have in its first year of publication made “Embedded Racism” part of their collections. Prominent Japanologist Tessa Morris-Suzuki has reviewed it as “important, courageous and challenging”, and the Japan Studies Association of Canada has heralded it as “an important contribution to geography, cultural and area studies”.

Get your discounted copy by going to https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781498513906/Embedded-Racism-Japan’s-Visible-Minorities-and-Racial-Discrimination and use promo code LEX30AUTH16.
More information and reviews on the book at http://www.debito.org/embeddedracism.html.
Download a book flyer and order form at http://www.debito.org/EmbeddedRacismPaperbackflyer.pdf

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 17, 2017

Table of Contents:
MORE OF THE SAME, WITH NEW SPINS
1) Abe Admin backlashes against UN Rapporteur criticism against Conspiracy Bill, overseas Gaijin Handlers kick into gear
2) Kyodo: “A year after enactment of hate speech law, xenophobic rallies down by nearly half”, but hateful language continues, mutates
3) Nikkei: ‘No foreigners allowed’: Survey shows heavy discrimination in Japan (which editorializing Nikkei Asian Review tries to excuse and dismiss)

WHAT COULD BE DONE
4) Denver Post columnist Terri Frei fired after racist tweet re Japanese driver’s Indy 500 win (contrast with how J media treated Nigerian-Japanese HS baseball player Okoe Rui)
5) Tangent: NPR: journalist Tom Ricks and how Western society operates best when it assumes an objective reality, and values facts over opinions

LACK OF CONSIDERATION FOR DIVERSITY
6) Reader StrepThroat: Medical prescriptions for foreign patients gauged to ineffectual children’s doses, regardless of patient size considerations
7) Asahi: Joe Kurosu MD on ineffectually low doses of medicine for NJ patients and bureaucratic intransigence

A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE
8 ) Japan Times cites Debito on “Tackling [anti-foreigner] signs in Japan that you’re not welcome”, including Tokyo Harajuku Takeshita Doori
9) Japan’s High School Hair Police: Asahi on “Survey: 57% of Tokyo HSs demand hair-color proof”. Still.

… and finally…
10) Japan Times JBC column 107: “Time to act on insights from landmark survey of Japan’s foreign residents” Apr 26, 2017

Denver Post columnist Terri Frei fired after racist tweet re Japanese driver’s Indy 500 win (contrast with how J media treated Nigerian-Japanese HS baseball player Okoye Rui)

I thought it prudent to archive here on Debito.org another case of how other societies deal with racial discrimination.  We keep on hearing that, “Well, people discriminate all over the world, and it’s just as bad in [insert country, usually the US] as it is in Japan.  So do something about racism in your own country before you lecture Japan.”  Okay, but here’s yet another example of what American society, for example, often does when somebody says something racist. There are social repercussions that deter both the current and future racists.  In the case mentioned below, the racist got fired.  Not ignored, defended (including being defended by foreign media in Japan), given a venue (or his own political party) to spout and normalize even more racism, or even further elected to office, as can happen in Japan. For your consideration, and for the record:

Wash Post: Terry Frei, a columnist who has been named Colorado’s sportswriter of the year four times, is out of a job after tweeting that he was “very uncomfortable” with Japanese driver Takuma Sato winning the Indianapolis 500 on the day before Memorial Day.

Denver Post publisher Mac Tully and editor Lee Ann Colacioppo apologized Monday for a “disrespectful and unacceptable tweet” as they announced that Frei is no longer an employee of the newspaper because of the social media comment that sparked intense backlash. “We apologize for the disrespectful and unacceptable tweet that was sent by one of our reporters,” the statement reads. “Terry Frei is no longer an employee of The Denver Post. It’s our policy not to comment further on personnel issues. The tweet doesn’t represent what we believe nor what we stand for. We hope you will accept our profound apologies.”

Frei apologized for the tweet he put up shortly after Sato’s historic win. He later deleted it. “Nothing specifically personal, but I am very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend,” Frei tweeted after Sato became the first Japanese driver to win the prestigious race.

Japan Times cites Debito on “Tackling [anti-foreigner] signs in Japan that you’re not welcome”, including Tokyo Harajuku Takeshita Doori

JT: “MOTHER F——- KISS MY ANUS. F—- OFF Mother F——-… foreigner. Sneaking PHOTO.” A hand-written sign bearing these words is among several decorated with similar insults that greet shoppers outside a fashion store that sells rock-style clothing in Tokyo. The sign sits among shirts emblazoned with designs featuring overseas rock bands such as Iron Maiden, Children Of Bodom and Marilyn Manson in the fashion and kawaii culture mecca of Harajuku’s Takeshita Street in Shibuya Ward.”

In addition to comments about what to do about this situation, I made a comment that didn’t make the cut of the article: The authorities are right. This isn’t a “Japanese Only” sign. It’s just a rude anti-foreigner sign, painstakingly rendered by shop staff too angry to say “No photos, please.” Kinda ironic, given the penchant for Japanese tourists here in Hawaii to take snapshots of anything they find exotic. At least merchants here word their notices more politely.

You could make the case that this is hate speech, but it might not convince enough people who can’t be bothered with signs that don’t affect them. It’s better to contact tourist associations, and do some name-and-shame as the 2020 Olympics loom. Or better yet, create unintended consequences. Tell people where the sign is, and go take pictures of it. Add to the irony with photos of “no photos”.

Abe Admin backlashes against UN Rapporteur criticism against Conspiracy Bill, overseas Gaijin Handlers kick into gear

The Government of Japan (GOJ) is at it again — curtailing fundamental civil and human rights for its people and getting nasty if you object to it. Once upon a time (see below), the GOJ merely denied that Japan is in violation of any of its human rights treaties by giving sophistic counterarguments. Now, under the ultrarightist Abe Administration, those denials are on steroids, with leading politicians injecting indignant anger into their denialism, even activating the Gaijin Handlers abroad to whitewash optics on Japan’s policies in places like the New York Times. First, the Japan Times offers a primer on the emerging Conspiracy Bill that received sharp criticism on May 18 by UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy and University of Malta Law Professor Joseph Cannataci, on the heels of criticism from UN Special Rapporteur and UC Irvine Law Professor David Kaye leveled at Japan’s already diminishing press freedoms in a report last year. After the Japan Times article, let’s look at how the New York Times reports on the Conspiracy Bill, and how the GOJ quickly responds with its Gaijin Handlers.

They doth protest too much, methinks. Even an academic source cited in the Japan Times below says he’s “not aware of any other developed nation that had protested against special rapporteurs so vociferously and consistently as Japan.” And, as far as Debito.org goes, you just know that these “terrorism” and “organized crime” tropes, once further embedded in law, will be used to further racially profile and crack down in particular on (foreign) “terrorists” and (foreign) “organized crime”. But this new law will normalize it for everyone.

Tangent: NPR: journalist Tom Ricks and how Western society operates best when it assumes an objective reality, and values facts over opinions

NPR’s TERRY GROSS: I want to quote something that you write in your book “Churchill And Orwell: The Fight For Freedom.” And again, this is a book – it’s a kind of dual biography and looking at how their political views evolved and how it was reflected in their writing and their hatred of both fascism and Stalinism.

So you write (reading aloud) “the fundamental driver of Western civilization is the agreement that objective reality exists, that people of goodwill can perceive it and that other people will change their views when presented with the facts of the matter.” So I’d like you to talk to how that reflects on Churchill and Orwell and how that reflects today.

JOURNALIST TOM RICKS: That’s the last line in the book. And if – I’m glad you read it because if there’s anything I have to say I learned from this experience of reading and re-reading thousands upon thousands of words by Churchill and Orwell over the last three and half years, it’s that. That’s my conclusion – that this is the essence of Western society and, at its best, how Western society operates.

And it’s – you can really reduce it to a formula. First of all, you need to have principles. You need to stand by those principles and remember them. Second, you need to look at reality to observe facts and not just have opinions and to say, what are the facts of the matter? Third, you need to act upon those facts according to your principles.

Kyodo: “A year after enactment of hate speech law, xenophobic rallies down by nearly half”, but hateful language continues, mutates

Good news, according to Kyodo below, is that the number of hate-speech rallies in Japan has gone down significantly. Some mixed news, however, is that haters have found ways to temper their hate speech so that it avoids extreme invective (such as advocating death and destruction), but continues nonetheless with the public denigration of minorities and outsiders. Hence the new law is working, but it’s causing sophistication and subtlety in message. Sort of like replacing “Japanese Only” signs with “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”, and in practice only applying the rule to foreign-looking people.

Hence the need for something more comprehensive. Stage Two of anti-racism legislation, as Ryang Yong Song of the Anti Racism Information Center says in the article, would be this: “For the last year, discussions only focused on what is hate speech and the scope of freedom of expression, but that is not enough. A law is needed to ban all kinds of discrimination including ethnicity, birth and disability.”

As Debito.org has been advocating for decades, let’s have that law against racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu teppai hou). A law against hate speech is good, but it’s a half-measure.

Japan’s High School Hair Police: Asahi on “Survey: 57% of Tokyo HSs demand hair-color proof”. Still.

Ten years ago I wrote a JT column on Japan’s “Hair Police”, i.e., how Japanese schools force their kids of diverse backgrounds to conform to a Wajin ideal of “black straight hair” imposed by inflexible school rules, and dye their hair black. It’s recently been revisited by the Asahi and Business Insider.com.

As I wrote back then, the damage to children is both physiological (Google “hair coloring” and “organ damage” and see what reputable sources, such as the American Journal of Epidemiology and the National Institutes of Health, have to say about side effects: lymphatic cancer, cataracts, toxins, burns from ammonium persulfate), and psychological. And yet it persists.

And not as a fringe-element trend — the majority of Tokyo high schools (the most possibly cosmopolitan of the lot) police hair color. In any case, woe betide Japan’s Visible Minorities for daring to not “look Japanese” enough. Here are the two articles, the second of which actually references my old JT column.

Asahi: Joe Kurosu MD on ineffectually low doses of medicine for NJ patients and bureaucratic intransigence

Dr. Kurosu MD: “For reasons that are unclear, however, the indicated maximum dose is often significantly lower than that which is standard in other parts of the world. Difference in physical frame and incidents of side effects are some of the purported reasons, but a scientifically convincing basis is lacking. A significant number of resident foreign nationals currently receive health care through the Japanese national health insurance system, but are ill-served because of these dosage standards. The maximum daily doses indicated on package inserts of standard medications for high blood pressure, diabetes and depression, for example, are one-quarter to one-half of the standard doses in other countries for the identical drug. […]

“In any case, if the government requires foreign nationals to join the [National Health Insurance] system, it must be willing to provide services appropriate to that population. If this is not possible, then buying in the system should be voluntary […] I urge the government and relevant authorities to return autonomy to the physicians so the medications can be prescribed appropriately for the patient, whether or foreign or Japanese, based on science and clinical judgment, rather than [mechanically applying the dosage levels indicated on the package inserts].”

Reader StrepThroat: Medical prescriptions for foreign patients gauged to ineffectual children’s doses, regardless of patient size considerations

StrepThroat: “I was hit with some evil form of strep throat just as Golden Week started. After hours of hunting down an open hospital, and then another hour or so to hunt down an open pharmacist, I had my prescription antibiotic cut down to 2/3rds the prescription at the pharmacy. Apparently the doctor had taken my size into consideration when writing the prescription…but the pharmacists called him out on it exceeding the maximum daily dosage. I protested but was ultimately left with what the rest of the world considers a children’s dosage. After speaking with the pharmacist, doctor, and other pharmacists, what I found was the maximum dosage of certain medications is regulated by law and the maximum dosages for sales within Japan are determined by trials done exclusively on ethnic Japanese. […]

“Basically, strict regulation of dosage size, based on the average ethnic Japanese rather than a more reasonable system based on body weight or age like in other countries. The end result is ineffective, children’s dosing or less for those of us who don’t fit the garigari average Japanese body size standard. Probably not intentional racism but the narrow-minded mindset to use only locals for domestic Japanese consumptions means at the end of the day, it is likely to affect most NJ patients as well as any Japanese that are larger than the average Japanese. Every doc and pharmacist agreed the dosages were too small but gave the usual shogainai/gamanshikadekinai answers.”

Nikkei: ‘No foreigners allowed’: Survey shows heavy discrimination in Japan (which editorializing Nikkei Asian Review tries to excuse and dismiss)

Following my most recent JBC column on the MOJ Foreign Residents Survey (which showed significant and substantial rates of “foreigner discrimination” in Japan, particularly in housing), we have the right-of-center Nihon Keizai Shinbun (roughly equivalent to the Wall Street Journal in stature and tone) offering their interpretation of Survey results. Note the article’s editorializing (which I will point out within the article below [in square brackets]) to try to be discounting or dismissive of the report — trying to pass it off as somehow “worries” about mere cultural misunderstandings, or issues not serious enough to seek help for.

NIKKEI: Nearly 27% of the 2,044 foreign respondents who had sought new housing within the past five years reported giving up on a potential residence after discovering a notice saying “no foreigners allowed.” […] These rejections, however, are not necessarily motivated by racism.

[But that’s not what the survey says. This is the Nikkei offering their interpretation. And look at their reasoning:]

Many landlords fear they may not be able to communicate easily with foreign tenants. Other reasons for refusal to rent include worries that foreign tenants will not follow Japanese customs, such as taking off their shoes inside the house.

[And that’s not racism? Presuming that foreign tenants cannot communicate? And justifying the denial of housing due to unfounded “worries” that people allegedly WON’T TAKE OFF THEIR SHOES!? On what planet would this not be interpreted as a normalization of prejudice expressed performatively as racism? I guess Planet Nikkei.]

Japan Times JBC column 107: “Time to act on insights from landmark survey of Japan’s foreign residents” Apr 26, 2017

TIME TO ACT ON INSIGHTS FROM LANDMARK SURVEY OF JAPAN’S FOREIGN RESIDENTS
The Japan Times, JUST BE CAUSE Column 107, Thursday April 27, 2017, by Debito Arudou

As promised, in March the Justice Ministry released the results of a survey on Japan’s foreign residents (gaikokujin juumin chousa), conducted last year (see “Government, Survey Thyself,” JBC Mar. 5). Compiled by the “Center for Human Rights Education and Training” public-interest foundation (www.jinken.or.jp), it surveyed the types and degrees of discrimination that foreigners face here. (The report in Japanese is at http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001221782.pdf.)

And as promised, here’s JBC’s synopsis of those results:

The report opens with a statement of purpose, talking about the pressures to “live together” (kyousei) with foreigners due to internationalization and globalization, not to mention the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Record numbers of foreigners are crossing Japan’s borders, bringing with them different languages and customs, and “so-called” hate speech demos are also causing “numerous human rights problems.” So to lay the groundwork for human rights protections for foreigners, this survey would grasp the issues directly facing foreigners “staying” (zairyuu) in Japan…
===================================

Read the rest in the Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/04/26/issues/time-act-insights-landmark-survey-japans-foreign-residents/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 26, 2017

Table of Contents:
IT’S A HARD KNOCK LIFE FOR NJ
1) Fukushima Pref Police HQ online poster asking for public vigilantism against “illegal foreign workers, overstayers”
2) Mainichi: 80% believed fake rumors of crime by foreigners in Japan after 3/11 quake: poll
3) Cautionary tale: Bern on how no protections against harassment in Japan’s universities targets NJ regardless of Japan savviness and skill level
4) Reuters: Japan’s foreign asylum seekers tricked into Fukushima radiation clean-up

PROVABLY SO
5) Unprecedented Ministry of Justice survey of NJ discrimination results out, officially quantifies significantly high rates of unequal treatment
6) Japan Times JBC 106: “Government, survey thyself”, on unprecedented nationwide poll of NJ on discrimination, with one big blind spot (March 5, 2017)

AND OFFICIALLY SO
7) Kyodo: “Russian’s conviction for handgun possession dismissed”, due to bent J-cops’ “arrest quotas” that illegally entrap NJ
8 ) Yomiuri on “Sharp decline in tourist spending”, with GOJ measures to certify NJ in “Cool Japan” for preferential visas
9) NHK repeatedly racially profiles prototypical criminal (the only NJ person in a crowd) on TV program Close-Up Gendai, Apr 5, 2017
10) Irish Times: Abe Admin in trouble due to ultranationalistic kindergarten Moritomo Gakuen, its perks, and its anti-Korean/Chinese racism
… and finally…
11) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 105: “Media, stop normalizing sumo as an ethno-sport”, Monday, Feb 20, 2017

Fukushima Pref Police HQ online poster asking for public vigilantism against “illegal foreign workers, overstayers”

Fukushima Prefectural Police HQ poster:
“PLEASE COOPERATE IN INVESTIGATIONS OF CRIME BY FOREIGNERS COMING TO JAPAN.
Nationwide, there are many cases of things like theft and heinous crimes by foreign muggers coming to Japan. In Fukushima Prefecture as well, the following have occurred:
0) Widespread cases of burglaries targeting [including grammatical error of wo tou wo] precious metal shops.
0) Burglaries at pachinko parlors using body-sensitive machines (taikanki) [whatever those are].
0) Cases of auto break-ins.”

Submitter XY: “Not only are they perpetuating the stereotype of NJ being criminals, they’re basically asking the public to act as vigilante immigration officers.”

COMMENTS: Well, let’s put this into context with all the other police posters we’ve been cataloging here at Debito.org for many years. We’ve had the local police claiming that many crimes have been committed by foreigners in their area (while we’ve found that at in at least one case, despite police claims of “many cases”, crimes committed by foreigners were actually ZERO), and once again demonstrating how enlisting the public in racial profiling is their modus operandi.

In Fukushima Prefecture itself, according to the prefectural government, crime has been going steadily down without fail since 2002 (with no mention of foreign crime in the stats; you can bet that it would have been mentioned if it was significant). Foreign crime in Fukushima doesn’t even make the top 80% of all foreign crime committed by prefecture in 2011, the year everything went pear-shaped, according to the Ministry of Justice (see page 58). In the general NPA foreign crime report dated April 2015, Fukushima is only mentioned twice (talking about two individual crimes as case studies illustrative of “what foreign criminals do”), without overall crime breakdown by prefecture. And after a fairly exhaustive search, I can’t find ANY recent official stats on foreign crime in Fukushima, either in terms of numbers or rate of change. So I think this is probably just another example of the Japanese police manufacturing a fictitious foreign crime wave.

Yomiuri on “Sharp decline in tourist spending”, with GOJ measures to certify NJ in “Cool Japan” for preferential visas

Debito.org Reader JK sends articles that indicate that the Japanese Government wants tourists to come in and spend more money (without doing the legal groundwork necessary to stop them being discriminated against), and is willing to bribe the NJ already here with preferential visas if they get certified in “Cool Japan”, i.e., become shills. Kinda smart in terms of incentive systems, but very cynical — and those critical of Japan, of course, need not apply. The pressure to unquestionably “like” Japan is already omnipresent, and now reinforced as public policy.

Yomiuri: While a record 24 million-plus foreign tourists came to Japan last year, spending per person dropped sharply in 2016, according to the Japan Tourism Agency. Fewer foreign visitors are engaging in extravagant shopping sprees, so figuring out how to use Japan’s charms to increase tourism outside major metropolitan areas and encourage longer stays is becoming an issue. […] The increase in the number of tourists pushed overall spending to a record ¥3.75 trillion, but per-person spending was down 11.5 percent from the previous year to ¥155,896, the largest drop ever recorded. Behind the decline was the yen’s appreciation from the previous year, as well as a change in the purpose of travel from “consumption” through shopping and other means, to trips aimed at “experiencing things” such as nature and culture. The government hopes to raise per-person spending to ¥200,000 by 2020.

Yomiuri: The government is considering establishing a certification test for assessing the competency and know-how of foreigners engaged in activities related to the “Cool Japan” initiative, such as anime and fashion. The aim is to accept more of these foreigners into National Strategic Special Zones, according to sources. The government intends to relax the requirements for obtaining resident status for candidates who meet certain competency criteria and conditions. The plan is aimed at foreign students graduating from Japanese vocational schools, the sources said. By creating a friendly working environment for foreigners with strong interests in Japanese culture, the government aims to increase the number of foreigners with an intimate familiarity with Japan. They could then serve as informal bridges for future exchanges between Japan and their home countries. […] The working group is considering allowing foreigners to obtain certification to stay in Japan for several years, the sources said.

Cautionary tale: Bern on how no protections against harassment in Japan’s universities targets NJ regardless of Japan savviness and skill level

Here’s a crie du coeur from an academic I respect mightily named Bern. He has spent umpteen years in Japan’s higher education, both at the faculty and the Dean level (there have been very few NJ Deans ever in Japan’s universities), and has complete fluency in reading, writing, and spoken Japanese. Yet even after all his work acculturating and developing the same (if not greater) job skills as native speakers, he could not avoid institutional harassment. As he says below, “until harassment and discrimination laws are clarified and given real teeth” in Japan, all NJ faculty and staff are at risk.

And I speak from personal experience that this can happen to anyone. For NJ educators’ mental and vocational integrity, due consideration should be taken before ever considering a career in Japanese academia. Someday I’ll give an opinion piece about why Japan’s positions for NJ academics are, quite simply, a hoax, and why Japanese educational institutions should be avoided, full stop. But not yet. Meanwhile, here’s Bern:

NHK repeatedly racially profiles prototypical criminal (the only NJ person in a crowd) on TV program Close-Up Gendai, Apr 5, 2017

JF: Just watched today’s Close Up Gendai on NHK, [“Can smartphones steal fingerprints? The over-transceiving society has arrived”]. Topic was how biometric data from pictures and security cameras can be used and abused. While the experts were taking, during the entire program, they kept on showing relevant clips in the background. One of the clips shows how a face recognition system picks a criminal from a group of faces in a public place. Sure enough, among the group of Asian faces, there is one Western-looking foreigner, who happens to be “blacklisted”.

Please see attached picture taken from my TV. As reinforcement of the image linking foreigners to crime, I counted our “blacklisted” gaikokujin friend reappearing on continuous loop 6x, but I may have missed some as I just skimmed it. One in the beginning, two more in-between and the rest in the last 5 minutes when they had the discussion in the studio, including one at the very end. What does this, on a subconscious level, suggest to the Japanese audience?? Not sure if you know somebody at NHK, they should be more sensitive about these things!

COMMENT: It’s an interesting program in terms of content and execution, but how far the mighty have fallen. Close-Up Gendai was one of those programs you could count on for at least trying to strike a reasonable balance. Clearly not anymore. Especially after the purges of the show to reflect NHK’s hostile takeover by political leaders who explicitly (as a matter of officially-stated policy) can only act as the government’s mouthpiece. Okay then, if that’s the way you want it. Here again we have more evidence of latent racial profiling as probable representations of government policy — NJ are more likely to be criminals (if not terrorists — watch from minute 18:30), all over again. Beware of them in a crowd!

Debito.org has been experiencing technical difficulties. Please stand by. Back soon.

Hello Debito.org Readers, and thanks very much to everyone for all the letters of concern regarding the lack of updates on Debito.org over recent weeks. We’ve had one technical problem after another, and I have techies looking into things. (I’d give more details, but I fear that might just provide more weak spots for the anti-techies to attack.) Meanwhile, keep submitting news stuff related to Debito.org topics, and we’ll put them up in due course. Thanks for your patience.

Unprecedented Ministry of Justice survey of NJ discrimination results out, officially quantifies significantly high rates of unequal treatment

Japan Times: “Rent application denials, Japanese-only recruitment and racist taunts are among the most rampant forms of discrimination faced by foreign residents in Japan, according to the results of the country’s first nationwide survey on the issue, released Friday. The unprecedented survey of 18,500 expats of varying nationalities at the end of last year paints a comprehensive picture of deeply rooted discrimination in Japan as the nation struggles to acclimate to a recent surge in foreign residents and braces for an even greater surge in tourists in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It also represents the latest in a series of fledgling steps taken by Japan to curb racism, following last year’s first-ever video analysis by the Justice Ministry of anti-Korea demonstrations and the enactment of a law to eradicate hate speech.[…]

The study found that 39.3 percent of 2,044 respondents who applied to rent apartments over the past five years got dismissed because they are not Japanese. In addition, 41.2 percent said they were turned down because they couldn’t secure a Japanese guarantor, while 26.8 percent said they quit their pursuit of a new domicile after being discouraged by a “Japanese-only” prerequisite. Workplace discrimination appears rife, too. Of the 4,252 respondents, 2,788 said they had either worked or sought employment in Japan over the past five years. Of them, 25.0 percent said they had experienced being brushed off by potential employers because they are non-Japanese, while 19.6 percent said they were paid lower than their Japanese co-workers…

Mainichi: 80% believed fake rumors of crime by foreigners in Japan after quake: poll

One thing we do here at Debito.org is track and quantify social damage done when media portrays people negatively. We’ve already talked at length about the fabricated foreign crime wave by the NPA since 2000 as a means of justifying police anti-crime budgets (see also book “Embedded Racism”, Ch. 7), and how flawed and loaded government surveys indicate that the Japanese public believes (moreover are encouraged to believe) that foreigners don’t deserve the same human rights as Japanese humans. Well, here’s another survey, done by a university professor in Sendai, that indicates how unchecked rumors about foreign crime in times of panic (particularly in the wake of the Fukushima Disasters) result in widespread (and unfounded) denigration of foreigners. To the tune of around 80% of survey respondents believing the worst about their NJ neighbors, regardless of the truth. SITYS. It’s the “blame game” all over again, except that only in rare cases does the government actually step in to right things before, during, or afterwards.

As Submitter JK notes: “Of interest is Professor Kwak’s statement that “False rumors commonly surface in the event of a major earthquake, and it is no easy task to erase them. Rather, each person needs to acquire the ability to judge them”. Given the result of his survey in Shinjuku-ku, it’s obvious that people lack the critical reasoning skills needed to separate fact from fiction (especially when disaster strikes), so this leads to me believe that trying to erase false rumors post-ex-facto is a fool’s errand — the ‘rumor’ that *needs* to be spread is that foreigners, specifically Chinese, Koreans and people from Southeast Asia are *NOT* looters, thieves, damagers of corpses (whatever that is), or rapists. In other words, what needs to happen to get the headline to read “Only 20% believed fake rumors of crime by foreigners in Japan after quake”?”

Quite. Once the damage is done, it’s done. Social media needs to be carefully monitored in times of public panic, especially in Japanese society, with a long history of blaming foreigners for whatever, whenever disaster strikes, sometimes with lethal results.

Reuters: Japan’s foreign asylum seekers tricked into Fukushima radiation clean-up

Here’s a scoop involving several layers of odious. It’s not just a matter of Japan’s poor or homeless (or other foreigners) being exploited for dangerous and life-threatening jobs cleaning up the radioactive mess in Fukushima. Now Japan’s government is quite possibly complicit in tricking foreign ASYLUM SEEKERS into doing the dirty work, for the sake of being granted extensions to their visa (which turned out to be “a false promise”). All this under conditions where, according to the Reuters article below, “more than half of the 1,020 companies involved in decontamination violated labor and safety laws”. Further, as submitter JDG notes, “Asylum seekers in Japan tricked into doing nuclear decontamination work in Fukushima because when they get over-dosed on radiation and contaminated, the J-gov can always reject their asylum applications and deport them after all, right?”

As Debito.org has noted before, there is a metaphorical radioactivity to Fukushima that overwhelms law and order and corrodes all sense, bringing out the corrupt criminal underbelly of Japan’s bureaucratic and political worlds. Fukushima’s running-sore of an issue has undermined all integrity at the eventual expense of lives, particularly those of the most powerless in society. Six years after the event, the whitewashing of the issue continues.

Kyodo: “Russian’s conviction for handgun possession dismissed”, due to bent J-cops’ “arrest quotas” that illegally entrap NJ

Kyodo: “Following new testimony from a former police inspector about a Russian man who was caught in an illegal police sting operation, a court Tuesday overturned his 1998 conviction for handgun possession… [Plaintiff] Novosyolov was arrested in November 1997 at the port of Otaru in western Hokkaido for possessing a handgun and was found guilty of violating the firearms control law by the district court in August 1998. He had been seeking a retrial, claiming he was the victim of an illegal operation by the Hokkaido police. […]

“At the time of Novosyolov’s arrest, police officers had been assigned a quota to confiscate illegal guns following a series of sniper shootings targeting key figures in Japan. Police officers instructed an informant to encourage foreigners to bring firearms to Japan as part of efforts to meet the quota. Novosyolov was arrested in the process of exchanging the handgun.”

COMMENTS: As the article alludes, entrapment is illegal in Japan. Japanese police are not allowed to catch criminals by engaging in criminal activity themselves. Which is why Japanese doing illegal things overseas act rather indignant (as opposed to penitent) when being caught by, for example, American sting operations. That’s why this case should have been thrown out of court, at least in Japanese jurisprudence — the ill-gotten evidence was inadmissible. And doubly so when the cops are pressuring themselves to nail NJ just to fulfill a “quota”. Triply so when the cop who trapped him and later came clean, Inaba Yoshiaki, was himself a druggie. (Hokkaido cops are actually pretty famous for being bent, see here and here; and as I discovered for myself here and here.)

And something closer to my heart: This took place in Otaru, my old stomping ground, and the site of the “Japanese Only” racist bathhouses that resulted in the landmark Otaru Onsens Case. Otaru cops are also rather famous for their arrogance, conducting spot Gaijin Card checks just to alleviate their own boredom (my first one happened there in 1987, shortly after I first arrived), so to me this is all within character. Congrats to Novosyolov for getting sprung. But I doubt this will result in any reforms to the system that illegally entraps NJ for sport.

Japan Times JBC 106: “Government, survey thyself”, on unprecedented nationwide poll of NJ on discrimination, with one big blind spot (March 5, 2017)

JBC 106: Something landmark happened late last year. Japan’s government undertook a nationwide survey of discrimination toward Japan’s long-term non-Japanese (NJ) residents.

The Foreign Residents Survey (FRS), drawn up in 13 languages, was randomly mailed last November to 18,500 NJ residents. It was widely dispersed — to about 500 names per local government.

Good. We need hard data about the breadth and depth of discrimination to deal with it. However, previous government surveys analyzed in this column (e.g., “Human rights survey stinks,” Zeit Gist, Oct. 23, 2007) had serious methodological problems. And afterwards, thanks to attention in The Japan Times, they were amended (Source: Embedded Racism p 243 fn 140). Many thanks.

So how is the survey this time? Much better. But it still needs work due to an enormous blind spot…

Read the rest at The Japan times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/03/05/issues/government-japan-survey-thyself/

Irish Times: Abe Admin in trouble due to ultranationalistic kindergarten Moritomo Gakuen, its perks, and its anti-Korean/Chinese racism

Here’s a story that people have been talking about for quite some time in the Comments section of Debito.org (but sandbagged by other projects, I haven’t quite gotten to until now, thanks to this good round-up article by Dr. David McNeill): Schools fostering ultra-rightist narratives even from a kindergarten age (in this case, the Moritomo Gakuen Case in Osaka, with its former honorary principal being PM Abe’s wife).

One thing I’ve always wondered about these nationalistic schools designed to instill “love of country” and enforce patriotism from an early age (which are, actually, not a new phenomenon, see also here): How are they supposed to deal with students who are of mixed heritage, or of foreign descent? As Japan’s multiethnic Japanese citizen population continues to grow thanks to international marriage, are these students also to be taught that love of country means only one country? Or that if they are of mixed roots, that they can only “love” one side?

This sort of jingoism should be on its way out of any developed society in this increasingly globalizing world. But, alas, as PM Abe toadies up to Trump, I’m sure the former will find plenty of things to point at going on in the USA to justify Japan’s renewed exclusionism, and “putting Japan first” through a purity narrative. Still, as seen below, the glimmer of hope is the charge that this school’s funny financial dealings (and their anointment of Abe’s wife as “honorary principal”) might in fact be the thing that brings down the Abe Administration (if it does, I’ll begin to think that Japan’s parliamentary system is actually healthier than the US’s Executive Branch). And that Japan’s hate speech law has in fact bitten down on their racist activities. An interesting case study in progress.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 105: “Media, stop normalizing sumo as an ethno-sport”, Monday, Feb 20, 2017

JT JBC: Congratulations to Kisenosato last month for ascending to yokozuna, sumo wrestling’s highest rank. After all your efforts, well done. So what does JBC have to say about it? Nothing to diminish that achievement, of course. But how the event echoed overseas was significant. Let’s consider these misleading and exclusionary headlines from prominent news outlets (BBC, Guardian, Washington Post, NYT, and even the JT), which are having the effect of exporting domestically-normalized attitudes of racism from an overtly exclusionary ethno-sport. And when you read the text of the articles themselves, their embedded racism becomes even clearer. Why are foreign correspondents exporting racism just because it emanates from Japan?

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/02/19/issues/media-outside-japan-must-stop-normalizing-sumo-ethno-sport/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEB 19, 2017

Table of Contents:
MEDIA NORMALIZING DISCRIMINATION
1) JT: “Japan’s shared dwellings are evolving to meet diverse needs of tenants”: Basically NJ tenants on same level as pets
2) Reuters: Japan’s NJ workers reach record 1 million; but fine print overlooked, e.g., conflating “Trainees” with “Workers”
3) Kyodo: Trainee program, small firms drive rise in Japan’s foreign worker numbers. More data, same misleading gloss.
4) Wash Post & BBC: “Japan gets first sumo champion in 19 years”. Really? What oddly racist triumphalism from foreign press!
5) Ueno Chizuko, fabled feminist Sociology Prof. Emeritus at Tokyo U, argues in newspaper column that Japan will never accept foreigners, and Japanese should just decline into poverty together. Geriatrically rigid rigor.
MISC
6) Japan Times: Group drawing on long-term NJ residents to help newcomers navigate life in Japan
7) Problematic Fukuoka Pref. Police sign warning against “Foreign Travelers in Rental Cars”
8 ) Pacific Affairs journal book review of “Embedded Racism”: “a timely and important contribution to social and scholarly debates about racial discrimination in Japan”
… and finally…
9) Japan Times JBC Column 104: The Top Ten Human Rights Events of 2016

Ueno Chizuko, fabled feminist Sociology Prof. Emeritus at Tokyo U, argues in newspaper column that Japan will never accept foreigners, and Japanese should just decline into poverty together. Geriatrically rigid rigor.

TG: “Chizuko Ueno, Japan’s most famous academic feminist, says [in a Chunichi Shinbun column on Feb. 11, National Foundation Day] there is no chance of reversing the decline in the birthdate; that at the same time Japanese society is inherently incapable of inter-cultural understanding; that therefore she opposes any move to liberalize immigration policy; and that the Japanese people should accept that they are going to gradually decline into poverty over the years to come.

“Hmm. I wonder what Hidenori Sakanaka, Arudou Debito and other FB friends think about this. She is a gadfly who likes to provoke, and you could read this as an attempt at satirical pessimism possibly. Or has she just lost the plot?”

Here’s what I say: I have often noticed that feminism in Japan is not “equality between the sexes” but “separate but equal” status between the sexes, inherently accepting that inequality is inevitable due to purported physical and emotional differences between men and women. Some things are “women’s work”, for example, and some things are men’s, and you’d better respect that order or else woe betide you for intruding.

Once you accept this kind of natural status quo, it becomes just as easy to accept that there should be “separate for foreigners in Japan” too, however “a foreigner” is defined. The problem is that most people accept without much question the “necessarily separate but unequal” mantra as well, since foreigners are not Japanese, by definition, and Japanese are told on a daily basis (no exaggeration) about the inherent differences between them. And therein lies the slow-drip mindset that over the years will eventually affect even the most intellectually-rigorous, as they get older and fossilized in their beliefs. You even find it in many very long-term foreigners in Japan, who will even argue that they deserve their own unequal status. Rigor becomes rigid. So to me, Ueno’s pontificating on the natural order of separation is a natural outcome of living in a society as hierarchical and segregated as Japan’s. I think with this article, she’d have a more comfortable cup of tea with the likes of Sankei columnist Sono Ayako, who on National Foundation Day exactly two years ago expressly praised South African Apartheid and advocated a similar system for Japan’s foreigners.

Debito is finishing up a few projects. Will be back shortly.

Sorry for the silence recently. I’ve got a few projects coming to fruition recently, and have been too busy to write or comment much. More later. Meanwhile, my next JBC will be out in about a week due to a press holiday falling on Monday this week. Stay tuned. Thanks for reading!

(As always, feel free to post articles and events you think are worth commenting on in the Comments Section below. The DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER will also be out next week.)

Kyodo: Trainee program, small firms drive rise in Japan’s foreign worker numbers. More data, same misleading gloss.

Kyodo: Juroku Bank, Ltd., based in Gifu Prefecture, last April hired two Chinese who had been studying at a university in Nagoya. It was the first time for the company to hire foreign bank clerks, and came as part of a new personnel strategy to deal with the growing number of visitors to Japan.

Zhang Yijun, 26, has been assigned to handling remittances and other duties related to foreign exchange matters at one of the regional bank’s Nagoya branches. Zhang can get by in everyday Japanese-language conversations but is still learning from co-workers about banking and handling customers. Zhong Shouzhen, 29, meanwhile handles foreign exchange matters at the bank’s head office in the city of Gifu. She struggles with polite Japanese expressions but hopes to get involved in business mergers and acquisitions in the future. “I want to be an intermediary for Chinese and Japanese companies,” Zhong said. […]

Tran Hong Kien, 28, from Vietnam, has been working for Yoshimoto Factory, a metal-processing firm in Ome, western Tokyo, since last March. He studied mechanical engineering at a top university in Vietnam. “I was impressed by the high technical competence in Japan,” said Kien, who is tasked with running a lathe under instructions from senior workers at the company, which employs 25. “If possible, I would like to remain living in Japan.”

COMMENT: I’ve said plenty about this issue in my previous post. Here’s more information and gloss from Kyodo, which once again erroneously conflates “Trainees” with “workers”. Perhaps a new word is necessary to distinguish them. Oh, how about “foreign trainees and workers”? Because they are simply not the same. And what woe looms for these bright-eyed young workers who “want to stay on in Japan”. Not likely, at this writing. Especially since even the labor unions (as noted in the article) aren’t going to defend them. And I saw essentially the same bent to articles on foreign workers (for real, before the grey zone of “Trainees”) during Japan’s “kokusaika” period in the late 1980s (when I first arrived). Look how that turned out.

Reuters: Japan’s NJ workers reach record 1 million; but fine print overlooked, e.g., conflating “Trainees” with “Workers”

The resurgence of Japan’s import labor regime has resumed in earnest, reaching a record at least in the Postwar Era. (Remember that during WWII, Japan’s internal colonial population, as in workers imported from its colonies, was very high; people from the Korean peninsula alone in 1945 were more than two million.) Now as of 2016, the NJ worker total has hit 1 million, according to Reuters below.

There is some fine print this article should have noted. This “record one million” is of workers, not registered residents alone (which is in fact more than twice the number, at 2.23 million as of 2015), since they have dependents (i.e., spouses with non-work visas and children). But within this one million are people who are not technically “workers” (roudousha), but “Trainees” (kenkyuusei or jisshuusei), who aren’t officially protected by Japan labor laws and are exposed to all manner of abuses, including slavery.

So calling them all “workers” is misleading both in terms of terminology and legal status. Especially since, as the article does rightly note, they are making up 20% of the total, or around 200,000 unprotected NJ laborers. Now that their numbers have shot up by 25% over one year alone, we can expect that 70% of all their employers will likely expose them to labor abuses.

These are not happy statistics, and for the article to lack this degree of nuance (especially since Reuters itself has done marvelous exposes in the past, even calling “Trainee” employers “sweatshops in disguise”) is at this point an institutional memory problem.

Another problem is the article implying that there is any actual attempt to, quote, “open gates to immigrants”. Immigration (imin) has never been part of Japan’s policy calculations (and I challenge the journalists researching this article to find that exact word in any of the cited policy directives; their citing a construction company manager, in the unlikely event that he actually used the word imin, is still indicative of nothing) — only temporary stopgap laborers who will give their best working lives and then be sent home at the first economic downturn. As has happened before, most cruelly.

As much as the article might be trying to attract eyeballs by putting a superlative “record number of” in the headline (and once again sneaking in an angle of hope of actual “immigration” happening), the only change that has happened here is that more NJ are being processed by an exploitative system — one that has by design remained relatively unchanged for nearly three decades, and moreover has been expanded to exploit even more. So many misdirected angles here.

Wash Post & BBC: “Japan gets first sumo champion in 19 years”. Really? What oddly racist triumphalism from foreign press!

We have a really weird conceit going on in the foreign press (see Washington Post and BBC below) regarding sumo wrestler Kisenosato’s rise to yokozuna, the highest rank. (Congratulations, and well done, by the way.) They are portraying it as “Japan’s first sumo champion of 19 years.”

Well, guess what, guys. Wrong. Japan has had other sumo champions in the 19 years, as you mention. Hakuho, Harumafuji and Kakuryu. There as also (oddly disgraced and scapegoated) Asashoryu as well. Yes, they were born in Mongolia. But guess what. Who cares?

If you do care, does that mean you are subscribing to the racist theory (widely held in Japan, anyway, dating from the days of Akebono and Musashimaru) that because they aren’t Japanese, they don’t count as “real” sumo champions? (Both Akebono and Musashimaru are naturalized Japanese, by the way, and were when they were yokozuna less than 19 years ago. How ignorant of you not to mention that.)

Or are you subscribing to the tenet, as the Sumo Association does, that even naturalized Japanese sumo wrestlers don’t count as Japanese?

Or are you subscribing to the tenets, as expressed by racist fans below, that sumo has somehow “lost something” because foreign-born wrestlers rose to the top? Is sumo an ethno-sport? The Sumo Association tried to make it into into an Olympic event, by the way. And would that mean if Japanese do not medal, as happens in Japan-originated events such as Judo, that the event has “lost something”?

Foreign reporters, kindly don’t racialize the sport with these types of headlines and reports. Herald the athletes for their physical prowess regardless of origin. Because you know better. Articles like these wouldn’t fly if you were writing about a sport in your home country. Imagine England claiming (and you reporting as such) that soccer has no real champion every time it doesn’t win a World Cup! Don’t succumb to a racist narrative just because it comes from Japan.

Problematic Fukuoka Pref. Police sign warning against “Foreign Travelers in Rental Cars”

Following the “foreign driver” stickers put on cars to stigmatize the NJ tourists (and NJ residents renting cars) in Okinawa and Hokkaido, now we have the Fukuoka Prefectural Police taking it upon themselves to associate bad driving with foreigners. Based upon one cited accident (Japanese drivers, after all, never have accidents, right?), the police put up a multilingual sign to caution everyone (and teach NJ how to drive all over again). How presumptuous. Let’s see what submitter XY has to say:

XY: my initial thoughts are:
– There are assumptions galore. The linked article about this issue mentions police making a poster to warn people of the “prohibited” act of dozing off behind the wheel, imploring them to take rests, etc. Incredibly, it implies that these practices are not common sense for people who are not experienced driving in Japan. This argument might hold a sliver of credibility if there was testimony from the driver proving that one of these factors was a cause of his accident. But the article gives no such proof.

– The article offers many statistics to show that the number of foreigners renting cars has indeed increased. Unfortunately, it does not bother to provide statistics proving that this has resulted in an increase in accidents (above and beyond the normal expected increase with more drivers on the road). Even if they did provide evidence showing an increase in accidents, they would still need to go a step further to show how this is directly related to foreign drivers and not something else (the rapid aging of licensed Japanese drivers, perhaps??).

When you take away the need to consider your foreign audience — this article being designed for domestic consumption only — it seems to me that this is another classic case of the Japanese authorities using foreigners as a punching bag for societal angst.

JT: “Japan’s shared dwellings are evolving to meet diverse needs of tenants”: Basically NJ tenants on same level as pets

This is an unintentionally hilarious article written by a Japanese reporter for a Japanese audience. It subconsciously depicts the attitudes of Japanese renters trying to profit from commonplace racist landlords excluding foreign clients: Build a communal household where foreign residents entertain the Japanese and the Japanese residents enjoy themselves. Especially telling is how the reporter contextualizes the issue in terms of more pet-friendly accommodations in Japan — putting foreigners on the same level as pets (with apparently as much power as a pet to be left alone).

Let’s consider this in terms of all the tokenism found in Japanese companies (especially during the Kokusaika Era, which I experienced first-hand) hiring young, genki gaijin to “internationalize” their company, and then putting them to work in temporary, trite, and expendable jobs so that they could give the company smiles but never get promoted to a post with any power. It’s clear that the unequal relationship is so normalized that making NJ into your house pet is unproblematized by the Japanese media. Finally, the reporter completely ignores the fact that racist landlords (not the lack of a guarantor) are the primary reason why “no pets, no foreigners” apartments exist.

Pacific Affairs journal book review of “Embedded Racism”: “a timely and important contribution to social and scholarly debates about racial discrimination in Japan”

Opening paragraph: Arudou’s book is a timely and important contribution to social and scholarly debates about racial discrimination in Japan. It comes on the heels of both the Japanese government’s 2014 official claim that an anti-racial discrimination law is not necessary (third combined report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination [CERD]), and recent developments in Japan that have politicized the issues of dual nationality and hate speech, and even the Miss Universe Japan pageant.

Japan Times: Group drawing on long-term NJ residents to help newcomers navigate life in Japan

Here’s a nice write-up about a group called the Asian People’s Friendship Society, which is doing a very important thing: Helping NJ help each other. Up until now, we’ve generally had Japanese helping NJ assimilate into Japan, even though, however well-intentioned Wajin are, many if not most have little idea what it’s like to be a foreigner in Japan, or understand practically what it’s like to become a member of society when they always have been one. Now this group is having longer-term NJ help shorter-term NJ learn the ropes. It’s far better than the alternative frequently found in many NJ tribes, particularly the elite ones that enjoy Wajin Privilege, of oldcomers cutting newbies no slack — because apparently nobody ever cut the oldcomers any. Fine, but that’s not helpful at all. Let’s hope groups like the APFS break that vicious circle, and enable NJ to control their own agenda and thus their own lives in Japan.

JT: Foreign residents in Japan may be at a disadvantage in some ways, but they are by no means powerless nor on their own, says Tokyo-based nonprofit organization Asian People’s Friendship Society (APFS). In a recently launched program series, the organization is nurturing a new group of volunteers it calls “foreign community leaders” who will assist fellow non-Japanese trying to navigate life amid a different and foreign culture.

“Long-term foreign residents have incredible know-how on how to get by in their everyday lives in Japan,” says Jotaro Kato, the head of APFS. “I want people to know that there are foreigners out there who can speak perfect Japanese” and who can provide guidance if needed. Targeting long-term foreign residents with a high level of proficiency in the Japanese language, the 30-year-old organization is spearheading the project to groom such veterans so they can help newcomers overcome a variety of everyday obstacles, such as dealing with language barriers, cultural differences and visa conundrums.

Japan Times JBC Column 104: The Top Ten Human Rights Events of 2016

Japan’s human rights issues fared better in 2016
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times, Jan 8, 2017, Column 104 for the Community Page

Welcome back to JBC’s annual countdown of the top issues as they affected Non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan. We had some brighter spots this year than in previous years, because Japan’s government has been so embarrassed by hate speech toward Japan’s minorities that they did something about it. Read on:

No. 10) Government “snitch sites” close down after nearly 12 years…

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/01/08/issues/japans-human-rights-issues-fared-better-2016/
Version with links to sources now up on Debito.org

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 8, 2017

Table of Contents:
GOOD NEWS
1) Other progress in 2016: Actions against wasabi bombs in sushi for NJ customers, conductor officially chided for apologizing re “many foreign passengers” crowding trains
2) MOJ Bureau of Human Rights Survey of NJ Residents and discrimination (J&E full text)
3) Kyodo: Japan enacts law to prevent abuse of foreign “Trainees”. But unclear how it’ll be enforced.
4) BLOG BIZ: Debito.org’s facelift; outstanding issues with Index Page and appearance on mobile devices

NOT SO GOOD
5) Onur on Fukuoka hotel check-ins in: Police creating unlawful “foreign passport check” signs in the name of (and without the knowledge of) local govt. authorities!
6) JT: The flip side of coveted public-sector jobs in Japan: fewer rights, by being excepted from labor laws
7) Japan Times: “Five-year rule” triggers “Tohoku college massacre” of jobs; harbinger of a larger looming purge, sez Debito.org
8 ) CR on how Japan’s blue-chip companies (Canon) get around new Labor Contract Law: Special temp job statuses and capped contracts for NJ
9) Japan Times: “Riding while foreign on JR Kyushu can be a costly business” (re train ticket discounts in Japanese only)

… and finally…
10) Japan Times JBC column 103: “Trump’s lesson: You can lie your way to the very top”, Nov. 16, 2016
11) Tangent: James Michener’s “Presidential Lottery” (1969) on dangerous US Electoral College

Other progress in 2016: Actions against wasabi bombs in sushi for NJ customers, conductor officially chided for apologizing re “many foreign passengers” crowding trains

To start this year (which I am not at all optimistic about), let’s try to talk about two bright sides to 2016. First up, this piece of good news that shows that targeting of foreign passengers (on an airport train, no less) is officially not cool — either from the passengers’ point of view or from the train company’s:

Mainichi: A Nankai Electric Railway Co. conductor was dealt a verbal warning after apologizing to Japanese passengers for crowding on a train heading to Kansai International Airport with a large number of foreigners, it has been learned. […]

“Today there are many foreign passengers aboard and it is very crowded, so we are inconveniencing Japanese passengers,” the conductor was quoted as stating in the announcement. After the train arrived at Kansai-Airport Station, a Japanese woman questioned a station attendant about the announcement, asking whether it was within the bounds of company rules. When questioned by the company, the conductor was quoted as replying, “I heard a male Japanese passenger at Namba Station yelling, ‘All these foreigners are a nuisance,’ so I made the announcement to avert trouble. I had no intention of discriminating.”

Then the Grauniad coupled the above story with another one about “wasabi terrorism”:

Grauniad: The incident follows an accusation by South Korean tourists that a sushi restaurant in Osaka deliberately smeared their orders with eye-watering quantities of wasabi, a pungent condiment that should be used sparingly. The restaurant chain Ichibazushi apologised but denied accusations of racism, saying its chefs had decided to use excessive amounts of wasabi after other foreign diners had previously requested larger dollops for added piquancy.

“Because many of our overseas customers frequently order extra amounts of pickled ginger and wasabi, we gave them more without checking first,” the chain’s management said. “The result was unpleasant for some guests who aren’t fans of wasabi.” It was not clear how many such incidents – labelled “wasabi terrorism” on social media – had occurred, but some disgruntled diners posted photos of sushi containing twice as much wasabi as usual.

COMMENT: The fact that these incidents made news, and (Japanese) social media thought this was worth criticizing is a good thing. Corporations acknowledged and apologized. There is lots to bellyache about when it comes to how NJ are seen and treated in Japan, but when people (especially Japanese people, who are often not all that quick to leap to the defense of NJ, since what happens to NJ does not affect them) stand up against this, this is progress. Credit where credit is due.

Happy New Year 2017 from Debito.org!

Sorry for the silence. I was just taking some time off cold turkey from social media. Everyone should try it sometime.

With this last day of the year on this side of the Dateline, and a new year already starting on the other, I just wanted to wish all Debito.org Readers a Happy New Year. I’d like to believe that 2017 will be better than 2016, but frankly I’m not all that optimistic at the moment. I hope you are.

If you’re wondering about my annual Japan Times countdown of the Top Ten Human Rights Issues as the affected NJ in Japan, it’s out next week, Jan 9, as this year’s offering falls on a press holiday. Again, happiness and health to all!

BLOG BIZ: Debito.org’s facelift; outstanding issues with Index Page and appearance on mobile devices

At the end of Debito.org’s 10th Anniversary as a blog (and 20th Anniversary as a website archive), here’s the best Christmas gift ever: a facelift and a cleanup! (Thanks for that!)

You probably noticed how slowly Debito.org loaded in recent months. That was because we had issues of memory and backlog buildup over a decade (to the tune of 55GB of it), as well as a customized Wordpress theme that was so obsolete it alone took fifteen seconds to load!

That’s why the revamp of the site’s appearance. Of course, we kept the “Debito.org” typeface banner (that’s always been there, however crufty), but hopefully the site is easier to load and read now.

We are still having issues with (beware, neophyte Geek Speak follows):

1) Reordering widgets for appearance on mobile devices — on cellphones and tablets the contents of the left sidebar appear, then the blog excerpts, then the right sidebar. I’ve tried to figure out to reorder them so the blog excerpts appear at the top, so if anyone could steer me in the right direction, I’ll get right on it.

2) Creating an Index Page that has post excerpts that lead to entire full-text single posts. Until a short time ago, we had the Index Page with excerpts that led to excerpt-text only single posts. I’ve fixed it so that all the contents are visible, but alas, they’re all visible on the Index Page too. I’ll have to create a “child theme” shortly to straighten that out.

Meanwhile, Happy Holidays to all Debito.org Readers! My next Japan Times column, my annual roundup of the Top Ten Human Rights Issues of 2016, will be out on January 9, 2017. Enjoy!

Tangent: Michener’s “Presidential Lottery” (1969) on dangerous US Electoral College

Michener: “On election day 1968 the United States once again played a reckless game with its destiny. Acting as if it were immune to catastrophe, we conducted one more Presidential election in accordance with rules that were outmoded and inane. This time we were lucky. Next time we might not be. Next time we could wreck our country.

“The dangerous game we play is this. We preserve a system of electing a President which contains so many built-in pitfalls that sooner or later it is bound to destroy us. The system has three major weaknesses. It places the legal responsibility for choosing a President in the hands of an Electoral College, whose members no one knows and who are not bound to vote the way their state votes. If the Electoral College does not produce a majority vote for some candidate, the election is thrown into the House of Representatives, where anything can happen. And it is quite possible that the man who wins the largest popular vote across the nation will not be chosen President, with all the turmoil that this might cause.

“In 1823 Thomas Jefferson, who as we shall see had long and painful experience with this incredible system, described it as, ‘The most dangerous blot on our Constitution, and one which some unlucky chance will some day hit.’ Today the danger is more grave than when Jefferson put his finger on it.” That was in 1969. Looks like, as of today, the catastrophe has finally happened.

Kyodo: Japan enacts law to prevent abuse of foreign “Trainees”. Unclear how it’ll be enforced.

Here’s a little something that may or may not matter in future. As the Abe Administration seeks to expand the NJ “Trainee” sweatshop and slave-labor program out of the construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and fishery industries and into nursing (not to mention the “special economic zones” so that foreigners with college degrees and Japanese language ability will have the privilege of tilling land and weeding crops on Japanese farms; seriously), we finally have a law to prevent the widespread abuses of NJ not covered by labor laws. Abuses so widespread, as the article says below, that “about 70 percent of some 5,200 companies and organizations that accepted trainees last year were found to have violated laws,” according to the GOJ. That’s quite a stat.

Now will this law be enforced? Remains to be seen. I’m not sure how this governmental “body to carry out on-site inspections at companies and organizations using the program and offer counseling services for participating workers” will work in practice. We’ve already seen how ineffectual other human-rights organs for “counseling” (such as the Ministry of Justice’s Potemkin Bureau of Human Rights) are in Japan. And there are all manner of institutionalized incentives (and decades of established practice) for people to turn blind eyes. After all, the only ones being hurt by this slavery program are foreigners, and they can just go back home if they don’t like it. (Except that they can’t.) Debito.org will keep you posted on developments.

CR on how Japan’s blue-chip companies (Canon) get around new Labor Contract Law: Special temp job statuses and capped contracts for NJ

Debito: Here’s a submission from Debito.org Reader CR, about the application of the “five year rule” of Japanese Labor Contract Law in Japan’s blue-chip companies. Although the 2003 revision in the law was meant to say, “five years of contract renewals means you must rehire the person as a regular employee (sei sha-in) without a contract” (which would end the exploitative system of unstable employment through perpetual contracting), it’s had the opposite effect: encouraging employers to cap the contracts at five years. Meaning that starting from April 1, 2018, five years since the revised Labor Contract Law took effect, we’re expecting to see a mass firing of Japan’s contract laborers.

This is precisely what has been happening to Japan’s non-tenured foreign academics for generations in Japan’s Academic Apartheid System, with the occasional “massacre” of older Japanese contracted academics just to save money, but now it’s being expanded systemwide to the non-academic private sector. We’ve seen rumblings of its application at Tohoku University for everyone. But of course we have to make it even worse for foreign workers: At Canon, one of Japan’s flagship companies, NJ are being given special “temp” employment categories with contracts explicitly capped at five years from the outset. One more reason to read your employment contracts carefully, if not avoid entirely the increasingly unstable and segregated jobs in Japanese companies.

As CR concludes, “It’s difficult to work in an environment where there are clear discriminations such as this. Note that while I believe the discriminations are racially-based, the only thing that is visible is based off nationality. I don’t know how the company handles NJ who have naturalized, or even if any naturalized Japanese citizens are among the employee ranks. It rankles even more because there are always various “Compliance”-related initiatives, announcements, and activities, to show employees how important it is to play fair, not discriminate, follow the rules and the law, etc. So, big, established, famous, international Japanese companies are already putting discriminatory clauses that violate the spirit, if not exactly the letter, of the law into the contracts of NJ. Also, this effectively puts the kibosh on any potential promotions of NJ; you cannot be promoted as a contract employee. The glass ceiling is alive and well.”

Japan Times: “Riding while foreign on JR Kyushu can be a costly business” (re train ticket discounts in Japanese only)

JT: I thought you might be interested in this issue that I encountered when using an automatic ticket machine in Hakata Station, Fukuoka. Because I don’t read Japanese so well, I changed the machine to English language. As I went through the menu I could not select the “nimai-kippu” (two tickets of the same type) option, which offers a discount. The only options I had were two individual tickets — if I recall correctly the price difference was ¥2,000. I canceled the sale and went to the counter and had a conversation with the clerk, who confirmed that once English is selected, the cheaper two-ticket option wouldn’t be offered. I was thinking how many hundreds of thousands of yen have been taken from people simply because they select English and don’t happen to know about the cheaper ticket options.

COMMENT: This is proof positive in a national newspaper of separate pricing schemes based upon language. And this at one of Japan’s flagship companies (Japan Railways), no less. Consider the parallels: A restaurant with menus with cheaper prices for customers if they can read Chinese (something frowned upon as discrimination elsewhere). Or travel agencies that reserve cheaper plane tickets for Japanese citizens only (see here). Japan’s train network in Kyushu is filtering customers by language ability and charging Japanese-illiterates a premium. This must stop, obviously, because it’s discriminatory.

Why can’t customers just be treated as customers, and their money for access be valued the same way, regardless of their language ability? Well, I’ll tell you why. Because to JR, it’s not a matter of fairness or equality. It’s a combination of setsuyaku and mendokusai. Making discounts multilingual would be costly, and then there’s the factor of profiteering from the extra fares. The incentive system is clear: Why pay more for a system that brings in less revenue? And besides, the foreigners won’t realize it (because foreigners obviously don’t read Japanese), won’t complain (because they’re so powerless, with no voice in Japan except, ahem, the Japan Times), or they aren’t organized in numbers big enough for a meaningful boycott (plus, as seen above, anyone calling for organized action will be called racist even by their own side — see reader comments under the JT article).

JT: The flip side of coveted public-sector jobs in Japan: fewer rights, by being excepted from labor laws

JT: Once, the hot jobs [in Japan] were high-income positions with finance firms or trading houses, but today’s youth are more sober, preferring a steady, grounded career path. A 2015 poll by Adecco Group asked children between 6 and 15 years old in seven Asian countries and regions what they wanted to be when they grow up. Children in Japan answered in the following order of popularity: 1) company worker; 2) soccer player; 3) civil servant; 4) baseball player. Note the perhaps unexpected answers ranking 1) and 3). “Government employee” made the top 10 only in Japan. […]

Amazingly, each type of civil servant has different labor rights in Japan. I ordinarily teach labor law that protects private-sector employees, so when I tell my students that the labor laws for civil servants differ by type of job, they express shock, particularly when they find out that civil servants have fewer rights than other workers…

COMMENT: Once again, the JT comes out with an insightful article about the difference between appearance and reality, especially in Japan’s labor market. Okunuki Hifumi tells us about how Japan’s most-coveted job — civil servant (!) — actually comes with at a price of fewer rights under Japan’s labor laws. Depending on your status, bureaucrats lack the right to strike, collectively bargain, or unionize (not to mention, as it wasn’t in this article, engage in “political activities”). And that can severely weaken their ability to fight back when labor abuses occur, or, as schoolteachers, to educate students about politics.

Japan Times: “Five-year rule” triggers “Tohoku college massacre” of jobs; harbinger of a larger looming purge, sez Debito.org

Debito.org has talked at length about the “Great Gaijin Massacre of 1992-4,” where National and Public Universities decided to terminate en masse (at the urging of the Ministry of Education) their foreign faculty who were over 35 years old 1) as a cost-cutting measure, and 2) because they could — since most NJ were on contract employment (meaning one could be “fired” through a simple contract non-renewal), while full-time J faculty were almost always employed on permanent non-contracted tenure from day one. “Academic Apartheid” is what respected scholars such as Ivan Hall called it. And conditions have gotten no better, as (again through government design) more full-time Japanese faculty are being put on contract employment themselves, while far fewer NJ are being granted permanent tenure.

Now we have a new looming massacre. The labor laws changed in 2013 to require employers to stop keeping people on perpetual renewable contract status. After five years of employment, employers must switch them to permanent noncontracted status. Well, the five-year mark is April 1, 2018, meaning there is an incentive for employers to fire people before they hit a half-decade of employment. Debito.org said before that that would happen, and there were some doubters. But here’s the first published evidence of that happening, at Tohoku University, courtesy of our labor law expert at the Japan Times. After all these years of service, even less job security awaits.

JT: [Under] the revision of the Labor Contract Law (Rodo Keiyaku Ho) enacted in 2013, […] any worker employed on serial fixed-term contracts (yūki koyō) for more than five years can give themselves permanent status. […] The fact is, employers are using the amendment as an excuse to fire their workers or change their working conditions before April 2018. When the law was enacted, it was not grandfathered to entitle those who had already worked more than five years. That meant the clock started on April Fools’ Day, 2013, and that the first time it will be possible to use this purported job-security measure will be April 1, 2018. [..]

This month’s installment delves into the “Tohoku University massacre.” This prestigious, famous and respected college with a long history and tradition has revealed that it plans not to renew the fixed-term contracts of up to 3,200 employees when they next come up for renewal. This kind of move — effectively a mass firing — is rare in Japan, and the plan has already had a huge impact in education and labor-law circles.