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

mytest

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

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

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In Japan, new rules may leave Airbnb industry out in the cold
REUTERS/ASAHI SHINBUN, April 23, 2018,  courtesy of JDG, with underlined emphases added
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201804230010.html

Japan’s new home-sharing law was meant to ease a shortage of hotel rooms, bring order to an unregulated market and offer more lodging options for foreign visitors ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Instead, the law is likely to stifle Airbnb Inc. and other home-sharing businesses when it is enacted in June and force many homeowners to stop offering their services, renters and experts say.

The “minpaku,” or private temporary lodging law, the first national legal framework for short-term home rental in Asia, limits home-sharing to 180 days a year, a cap some hosts say makes it difficult to turn a profit.

More important, local governments, which have final authority to regulate services in their areas, are imposing even more severe restrictions, citing security or noise concerns.

For example, Tokyo’s Chuo Ward, home to the tony Ginza shopping district, has banned weekday rentals on grounds that allowing strangers into apartment buildings during the week could be unsafe.

That’s a huge disappointment for Airbnb “superhost” Mika, who asked that her last name not be used because home-renting is now officially allowed only in certain zones.

She has enjoyed hosting international visitors in her spare two-bedroom apartment but will stop because her building management has decided to ban the service ahead of the law’s enactment.

“I was able to meet many different people I would have not met otherwise,” said Mika, 53, who started renting out her apartment after she used a home-sharing service overseas. “I may sell my condo.”

Mika added that if she were to rent the apartment out on a monthly basis, she would only make one-third of what she does from short-term rentals.

The ancient capital of Kyoto, which draws more than 50 million tourists a year, will allow private lodging in residential areas only between Jan. 15 and March 16, avoiding the popular spring and fall tourist seasons.

Similarly, Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya Ward will permit home-sharing services in residential areas only during school holidays, with certain exceptions, so children won’t meet strangers on their way to class.

In short, renters and experts say, the new law is doing more to hurt than help, even as a record 28.7 million tourists flocked to Japan last year, up 19 percent from the year before. Japan aims to host 40 million foreign tourists a year by 2020.

Yasuhiro Inaoka, who manages about 15 properties for Airbnb hosts in Tokyo, says the net effect of the law is “banning individuals from offering home lodging.”

‘STRANGE PRACTICE’

Central government officials say that excessive local limits could defeat the law’s objectives, but that they cannot force local governments to loosen their policies.

Restricting home rental due to vague concerns that foreigners are unsafe or that it is a strange practice goes against the concept of the new law,” said Soichi Taguchi, an official at the government’s Tourism Agency.

The annual cap of 180 days for home sharing and stricter rules set by local governments is a victory for the hotel industry, which opposes private properties being used for tourist accommodation.

“While each city and town is unique, we believe that by following the national recommendations, all Japanese cities and communities will be able to benefit from the growing economic opportunity provided by home sharing and short-term rentals,” said Jake Wilczynski, spokesman for Airbnb in Asia Pacific.

About 62,000 Airbnb listings have sprung up in Japan, far smaller than other major tourist destinations, such as Italy, which has 354,400 listings, or France, with 490,000.

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore allows home sharing, but requires a minimum period of three months. Two Airbnb hosts were fined S$60,000 ($45,800 or 4.9 million yen) each by a local court in April for unauthorized short-term letting.

Hyakusenrenma Inc., a Japanese rival to Airbnb, has 2,000 listings for its “Stay Japan” service, and online travel agency Booking Holdings’s Booking.com and Chinese agents have also entered the Japanese market.

The new law requires home owners to register rental properties for short-term stays with the local government by undergoing fire safety checks and submitting proof that the owner is not mentally disturbed.

San Francisco-based Airbnb said it would obey the new law and remove all the non-compliant listings from its site by June.

But the company is also confident the number of listings will bounce back and eventually exceed the current level because Japan still has a great deal of potential to expand, said country manager Yasuyuki Tanabe.

“We will have clear rules for home lodging, which will encourage more people to list their properties,” Tanabe said.

HOTEL LICENSE

One alternative for home renters is to apply for a hotel license. That process has been simplified to relax requirements for a reception area and no longer mandate a minimum number of rooms.

One 42-year-old man who asked not to be named has gone this route. He stopped renting out Airbnb apartments in Tokyo and instead obtained a license to run a five-room hotel out of a converted traditional wooden “machiya” house in Kyoto.

He still advertises on his property in Kyoto on Airbnb and the hotel license frees him from the 180-day limit.

“With the hotel license I can provide the service all year round,” he said.

But for many, this isn’t an option because their buildings won’t allow home-sharing at all, regardless of licensing.

When the land ministry asked apartment management unions to decide whether to permit short-term rentals, only 0.3 percent of them nationwide said they would, according to the Condominium Management Association.
ENDS
==============================

UPDATE JUN 30:

— Japan Times also reports on the backlash to this policy, with the same undertones, except this time foreigners might be “terrorists”. Excerpt:

Implementation of minpaku laws lambasted
The Japan Times, June 30, 2018
BY MARK SCHREIBER
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/30/national/media-national/implementation-minpaku-laws-lambasted/

[…]
On its morning program on June 15, NHK Radio chimed in with its own justification for the crackdown on minpaku. Citing the Nov. 13, 2015, attacks by ISIS terrorists in Paris in which 130 people were killed and another 413 injured, the broadcast implied that minpaku might serve as a base for terrorists — despite there being no evidence that the attackers in France had availed themselves of online booking services.

Nevertheless, at the urging of the Metropolitan Police Department ahead of the 2020 Olympics, minpaku hosts will be encouraged to report any “suspicious behavior” on the part of guests, including refusing to allow their passport to be photocopied, referring to a memo or other separate document when transcribing their own name or address, or when the actual number of staying guests turns out to vary from what was initially reserved.

“It’s possible terrorists will choose to stay at minpaku, where identification checks are vague,” explained Isao Itabashi, head of the Research Center at the Council for Public Policy, during the broadcast, adding, “So it’s important that along with sharing data on suspicious guests, the minpaku operators liaise closely with the police.”

Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/30/national/media-national/implementation-minpaku-laws-lambasted/
==============================

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s yet another example of your tax dollars at work:  Further tightening surveillance on foreign residents:

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To counter overstayers, Japan plans new surveillance system to manage foreign residents’ data
JIJI/JAPAN TIMES JUN 18, 2018
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/17/national/counter-illegal-overstayers-government-plans-system-centrally-manage-information-foreign-residents/
Japan plans to set up a system to centrally manage information on foreign residents to prevent overstayers from growing as the national labor crunch worsens, officials said.

The Justice Ministry will play a key role in handling the information, which will include records on employment, tax payments and marriage that is currently being separately managed by central and local government agencies.

The system is intended to strengthen government surveillance of overstayers as the nation imports more foreign labor to ease a severe nationwide labor shortage.

As part of the effort, a new organization might be set up within the ministry to collect and analyze information on foreign residents.

Japan had about 1.28 million foreign workers as of October last year, but the construction industry alone is expected to need as many as 900,000 extra workers by fiscal 2025.

On Friday, the government unveiled plans to create a new resident status to let foreign people with certain levels of expertise and Japanese ability work in Japan. The new status is expected to cover the nursing care, lodging, agriculture, construction and shipbuilding sectors.

The government also plans to cooperate with companies to give livelihood support to foreign workers, including multilingual guidance, Japanese-language education and housing.

ENDS

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We’ve talked about this centralization of this policing of NJ residents before on Debito.org (including arrest quotas to entrap NJs), and what motivates it (the need to justify increased police budgets, rather than to provide services for NJ — which like above is thrown in as an afterthought).  But for a new angle, let’s turn the keyboard to Debito.org Reader JDG, who submitted this article with the following comment. Dr. Debito Arudou

JDG: Government plans to take responsibility for ‘managing’ NJ away from city halls and ‘centralize’ the management of all NJ by the Justice Ministry in order to ‘increase surveillance’. To this end, the police will have access to all NJ info; addresses, employment, tax, marital status, visa information, etc.

Imagine that the police will now demand to see your residence card so that they can radio the office and check all your details.  ‘Increased surveillance’? Why are NJ being surveilled at all to start with? Here’s a top tip for the police; detect crime, and then investigate it.

Strangely, it reminded me of this article:

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Japan’s crime problem? Too many police, not enough criminals
Tokyo Letter: As they run out of things to do, officers are becoming more inventive

The Irish Times, Fri, Apr 6, 2018, 01:00
David McNeill in Tokyo (excerpt)

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/asia-pacific/japan-s-crime-problem-too-many-police-not-enough-criminals-1.3451997?mode=am

It was a crime that once would have attracted little attention in Tokyo’s lurid undertow: police are this week hunting a man who used his smartphone to film under a woman’s skirt. The suspect fled across the tracks of Ikebukuro Station after the woman cried for help.

Women subjected to sexual assault on Tokyo’s crowded transport system were once as likely to ignore it: Chikan (groping) was not widely dealt with as a crime until the mid-1990s. Now the police spend considerable energy trying to catch offenders.

One reason is that the police have more time. Crime rates have been falling for 14 years. In the last six months of 2017 they set a new low after falling the previous year below the one million mark for the first time since the second World War.

The murder rate of 0.3 per 100,000 people is among the lowest in the world, and roughly half Ireland’s rate. (In America, where violent crime is rising at its fastest pace since the 1970s, it is more than 5). Gun-deaths rarely rise above 10 a year.

Virtually the one rising criminal fraternity is the elderly. Senior citizens now account for about 20 per cent of arrests and detentions. As the population ages the over 65s commit nearly four times more crimes than they did two decades ago.

One result is that Japan’s jails are filling up with the infirm: more inmates need help with walking, bathing and even using the toilet. The government recently allocated a budget to send care workers to about half of the nation’s prisons.

Yet, Japan has more than 15,000 more police personnel than it had a decade ago, when crime rates were far higher. The density of officers per population is particularly marked in Tokyo, home to the world’s biggest metropolitan police force.

Forensic rigour
In practice, this means lots of police attention. Petty drugs offences are treated with forensic rigour. Police have arrested athletes, rock stars and university students for smoking pot. One woman recalls five officers crowding into her cramped apartment after she reported her knickers being swiped from a clothesline.

As they run out of things to do, however, police are becoming more inventive about what constitutes a crime, says Kanako Takayama, a professor of criminal law at Kyoto University. In one recent case, she says, they arrested a group of people who had shared the fees for a rented car because they judged it was an illegal taxi.

Critics who fret about over-enthusiastic police cite a week-long stakeout in 2016, in Kyushu, southwest Japan. Five officers watched over a case of beer in an unlocked car outside a supermarket in Kagoshima, scene of a series of car robberies, before pouncing on the hapless middle-aged man who eventually helped himself.

A judge dismissed the case, which he called an unnecessary and expensive sting operation.

In another incident reported by the liberal Asahi newspaper, police in rural Gifu Prefecture spied on local citizens who opposed a wind power project, then repeatedly called executives from the power company in 2013 and 2014 with detailed reports on the activists, including ages, academic background and medical records.

Oddly, the police increasingly struggle to solve crimes. The rate of detection for total offences fell to a post-war low of less than 30 per cent in 2013, which suggests that while crimes happen increasingly rarely, the police are not very good at solving them.

The latest annual White Paper published by the National Police Agency cites weakening community ties as well as widespread use of mobile phones, the internet and other technological advances as factors for falling detection rates.

People police themselves
Confessions, often made under duress, form the basis of nearly 90 per cent of criminal prosecutions. The reason why Japan looks so good is that people police themselves, says Yoshihiro Yasuda, a campaigning lawyer.

Japan’s justice system gets a lot right. Rates of recidivism (reoffending) are low and much effort is made to keep young offenders out of prison. Adults are incarcerated at a far lower rate than in most developed countries – 45 per 100,000 compared with 666 the United States.

Precisely because it is so safe, however, some fear the system is ripe for abuse. With little else to do, police may start finding new things to enforce, says Colin Jones, a legal expert at Doshisha University.

In 2015, a man was arrested for scribbling Adolf Hitler moustaches on to posters of prime minister Shinzo Abe. Leaked internal police documents in 2010 described intensive surveillance of Tokyo’s largely trouble-free Muslim community. A “mosque squad” made up of dozens of officers monitored Muslims and cultivated informants.

Last year the government gave the police even more powers with a new “conspiracy” law that allows them to investigate and arrest people who plan to commit crimes.

Whereas in some parts of the world, you can never find a cop when you need one, Japan may have too many.
ENDS

////////////////////////////////////////////////

JDG:  With fewer crimes, and more police than ever before, Japanese police are getting ‘inventive’ in order to look busy; investigating crimes way beyond the level of resources that the crime warrants, and setting up intensive sting operations for minor offenses.

The police are looking to criminalize people in order to defend their budgets. I guess the japanese won’t mind hundreds of officers and millions of ¥ being squandered in operations that end up with NJ being harassed until the police can charge them with any petty crimes.

Given Japan’s huge national debt, not enough crime, too many police, should equal some lay offs. But TIJ!

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

Nah, got to collar that guy who overstayed his visa!  RegardsJDG

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s NHK reporting on the spread of false information on Japan’s social media about foreigners committing crimes in the wake of June 18’s Osaka earthquake. Comment follows the article:

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Post-quake social media rife with fake news
NHK World, Tuesday, June 18, 2018. Courtesy of JDG.
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180618_31/

Osaka prefectural officials are urging people to keep calm and refrain from sharing unsubstantiated information on social media after Monday’s earthquake.

One widely shared tweet claimed the roof of the Kyocera Dome Osaka stadium is cracked. The operator denies this.

Other cases of false information include a train derailment and a zebra escaping from a zoo.

Messages inciting discrimination against foreigners living in Japan are also spreading.

One post advises people to watch out for thefts and burglaries by foreign residents. Another says foreigners are not accustomed to quakes, so they will start looting convenience stores or rushing to airports.

Social media users are posting messages to counter the discriminatory ones.

One user says people should be aware that racists use major disasters to spread false information.

Another says fake news spreads during disasters, and that people need to improve their media literacy so they can detect false information.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////

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

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

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Leaving aside the unproblematized JT headline below about “foreign Japanese”, we have the five-year work visa we talked about last blog entry (the one that exploits “Trainees”, sometimes to the point of death) now being offered to “fourth-generation Japanese”. (Y’know, the “foreign” ones; yonsei is the word in the vernacular, and we’d better develop similar linguistic flexibility in English too for accuracy’s sake).

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

The article below rightly gets at the caveats and policy subterfuge (such as merely using these kids as temporary Tokyo Olympics construction fodder), so read the whole thing at the Japan Times website. But the big picture is this:

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

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Preferential visa system to be extended to foreign fourth-generation Japanese [sic]
BY MIZUHO AOKI, STAFF WRITER
THE JAPAN TIMES, MAR 30, 2018
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/03/30/national/preferential-visa-system-extended-foreign-fourth-generation-japanese/

Foreign fourth-generation descendants of Japanese will be able to work in Japan for up to five years under a preferential visa program to be introduced this summer, the Justice Ministry said Friday.

The new program applies to ethnic Japanese between 18 and 30 who have basic Japanese skills equivalent to the N4 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Applicants will also be required to have support from residents they know in Japan, such as family members or employers, who can get in touch with them at least once a month.

Among those planning to apply are people who spent their childhoods in Japan with their parents before losing their jobs during the 2008 global financial crisis. Some of their parents later returned to Japan, but their grown-up fourth-generation offspring could not because the visa system only grants preferential full-time working rights and semi-permanent status to second- and third-generation descendants.

“The door has been closed for fourth-generation people. So there are definitely people who really need the new program,” said Angelo Ishi, a third-generation Japanese-Brazilian professor in the sociology department of Musashi University.

At present, fourth-generation ethnic Japanese are required to meet certain conditions to get a visa, such as being single minors who live with their parents, but can’t work full-time.

Under the new system, minors will be able to work. The new program begins on July 1, and the Justice Ministry expects around 4,000 descendants of Japanese emigrants from such places as Brazil and Peru to enter Japan each year. But the ministry said the new system is not aimed at alleviating the national labor shortage, but at nurturing people who can “bridge Japan and the Japanese-descendant communities abroad”.

Critics are skeptical. They say the new immigrants could be used as cheap labor at factories or construction sites in dire need of labor, especially ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I believe one of the reasons behind the change has to do with the Olympics,” said Kiyoto Tanno, a professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University who is an expert on foreign labor issues. “But such demand could disappear. That’s why, I guess, the ministry placed a cap on the number of years.”

Read the rest of the article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/03/30/national/preferential-visa-system-extended-foreign-fourth-generation-japanese/

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. As is within character since the early 1990s, Japan wants NJ workers to make up for labor shortages in Japan’s workforce, but remains unwilling to allow NJ migrant workers to become immigrants: to access the benefits of their labors and years of investment in Japan’s economy and society by allowing them to live in Japan.

No, once again, Japan would rather leach off the best years of NJs’ productive lives and then send them home. Except now GOJ policy explicitly wants them to stick around and be exploited ever longer (without their families, and with a built-in contract cut-off before they can qualify for Permanent Residency), again under the guise of the deadlyTraineeslave-wage labor program. Witness the JT article below. Dr. Debito Arudou

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Japan looks to offer longer stays for technical interns, with caveats it hopes will limit immigration debate
The Japan Times, April 12, 2018 (excerpt). Courtesy of lots of people.
Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/04/12/national/sidestepping-wider-immigration-debate-japan-eyes-longer-stays-technical-interns/

Japan is weighing the creation of a new status of residence that would allow technical interns from abroad to stay longer in the country, as part of efforts to tackle severe labor shortages, sources said Wednesday.

But interns’ families would not be allowed to enter Japan — a provision meant to prevent the creation of the new status from leading to discussions on the sensitive issue of immigration, the sources said.

The status would allow those who have completed a five-year technical intern training program and meet certain requirements to stay and work for up to five additional years, the sources said. […]

With the technical intern training program intended to transfer skills abroad, interns currently must return to their home countries after a five-year stay. The new residency status would allow interns to stay in Japan to work for a maximum of five more years. The government plans to set requirements to obtain the status, including industry-specific ones, the sources said.

But according to a Nikkei business daily report [see below], trainees will still have to return to their home after their programs end, and then apply for the new residence status that would allow them to work again in Japan for a further five years.

This is apparently aimed at keeping trainees and interns from gaining eligibility to apply for permanent residency, for which one of the prerequisites is to be living in Japan for 10 years or more.

Those who have already completed the trainee program and returned to their home countries can also apply for the new status of residence, the report said.

The report also said that trainees with the new work permit would be able to gain highly-skilled professional status if they pass an examination, which would enable them to bring their families to Japan and to renew their visas.

The new work permit would be given to those working in nursing, agriculture and construction — sectors where labor shortages are most severely felt, the sources said.

Labor shortages are already severe, especially in the service sector. In 2017, there were 150 job openings for every 100 workers — the largest gap in over four decades.

The number of foreign workers has been on the rise in recent years, hitting an all-time high of approximately 1.28 million as of last October. Of that total, the number of technical interns stood at around 250,000, according to government data.

The technical intern program, which was formally created in 1990 for the purpose of transferring skills in the industrial, agricultural and fisheries sectors to developing economies, has become an essential part of Japan’s labor force amid the nation’s demographic woes.

Abe has officially declared that his administration will never adopt “an immigration policy” to make up for the continuing acute labor shortage, despite a rapidly thinning workforce.

The program was designed to support foreign nationals in their acquisition of technical skills, but has been criticized as a cover to exploit cheap labor from abroad. Many cases have been reported of trainees being subjected to illegally long work hours and physical abuse from employers.

In March, it was revealed that a Vietnamese man who came to Japan under the program was allegedly forced to take part in decontamination work in areas hit by the 2011 nuclear disaster. The Justice Ministry has begun investigating the case.

To eliminate violations by companies employing vocational trainees, a new law came into effect in November obliging employers to secure accreditation for their training programs. Under the law, employers found to have physically abused the trainees are subject to imprisonment of up to 10 years or a fine of up to ¥3 million. Other moves, such as denying compensation claims or confiscating passports, are regarded as violation of the Labor Standards Law and are also subject to punishment.

ENDS

外国人、技能実習後も5年就労可能に 本格拡大にカジ
日本経済新聞 2018/4/11, courtesy of JM
https://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXMZO29256530R10C18A4SHA000/

政府は2019年4月にも外国人労働者向けに新たな在留資格をつくる。最長5年間の技能実習を修了した外国人に、さらに最長で5年間、就労できる資格を与える。試験に合格すれば、家族を招いたり、より長く国内で働いたりできる資格に移行できる。5年間が過ぎれば帰国してしまう人材を就労資格で残し、人手不足に対処する。外国人労働の本格拡大にカジを切る。

政府は単純労働者の受け入れを原則、認めていない。一方で働きながら技能を身につける技能実習の範囲拡大や期間延長で事実上、単純労働者の受け皿をつくってきた。幅広く就労の在留資格を与える制度の導入は大きな政策の転換点になる。

政府は今秋の臨時国会にも入国管理法改正案を提出し、来年4月にも新制度を始める方針だ。

新設する資格は「特定技能(仮称)」。17年10月末で25万人いる技能実習生に、さらに最長5年間、就労の道を開く。技能実習は農業や介護などが対象。新設する資格とあわせれば、通算で最長10年間、国内で働き続けることができる。

新資格で就労すれば技能実習より待遇がよくなるため、技能実習から移行を希望する外国人は多いとみられる。政府は少なくとも年間数万人は外国人労働者が増えるとみている。農業、介護、建設など人手不足の業界を対象にする。

そもそも技能実習は学んだ技術を母国に伝えることが前提。経験を積んだ人材も実習後に国外に退去しなければならない。長く働きたい外国人や、実習で経験を積んだ外国人を育てた国内の雇用主からは、改善を求める声があった。

技能実習制度とその本来の目的は維持するため、新資格は一定期間、母国に帰って再来日した後に与える。外国人の永住権取得の要件の一つに「引き続き10年以上の在留」がある。いったん帰国してもらうため、技能実習と新資格で通算10年を過ごしても、直ちに永住権取得の要件にはあたらないようになる。

外国人労働者をさらに増やすため、実習修了者と同程度の技能を持つ人にも新資格を付与する方針だ。既に実習を終えて帰国した人も対象になる見通しで、経験豊かな労働者を確保できる。

新資格の保有者は、より専門性が高い在留資格に変更できるようにする。専門技能を問う試験に合格すれば、海外の家族の受け入れや、在留期間の更新ができる既存の資格に切り替えられる。

国内では25年度に介護職員が約38万人不足する見込み。農業人口はこの10年で約4割減り、人手不足が深刻だ。技能実習生の多くが新資格に移行すれば、長期間、国内労働力に定着させることができる。アジア各国の賃金上昇で外国人労働力の獲得は難しくなっているが、人材獲得競争にもプラスに働くと見ている。

日本の労働力人口は約6600万人。17年10月末時点の外国人労働者数は技能実習生の増加などがけん引し、127万人と過去最高を更新した。労働力の50人に1人は外国人が担う状況だが、政府はさらに増やす方針だ。

ends

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

mytest

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

This exclusionism is somewhat old hat for people who have been following the Otaru Onsens Case and the other “Japanese Only” places in Hokkaido and nationwide for all these decades.  But when it starts happening to famous people (such as those playing for local Japanese teams), you know the bigots have lost their common sense from a public relations point of view.

Bring on the 2020 Olympics!  There will be lots more “foreign” athletes to target then!  Not to mention their supporters. Dr. Debito Arudou

////////////////////////////////////////

Former England striker turned away from golf club in Japan ‘because he is foreign’

FORMER England and Cardiff footballer Jay Bothroyd has claimed he was turned away from a golf course in Japan, where he is now playing, because he is a foreigner.
By PAUL WITHERS
Daily Express (UK) Wed, May 30, 2018
https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/967171/england-football-player-jay-bothroyd-cardiff-japan-golf-course-racism-twitter

Jay Bothroyd claimed he was turned away from the golf course for being a foreigner.

The 36-year-old Arsenal academy graduate, who made his only appearance for England in 2010, joined J1 League club Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo last July.

But the striker was left stunned after he was refused entry to his local golf course on the northernmost of Japan’s major islands – the Hokkaido Classic – which was designed by golf legend and 17 time major tournament winner Jack Nicklaus.

The exclusive par-72 course charges £338 for a weekend round of golf between June and July, with its fees website page stating that non-Japanese players must be accompanied by a club member.

But Mr Bothroyd, who has also played in Italy and Thailand, took to social media to question if it would be deemed racism in the UK or US.

He tweeted: “Today, I wanted to play golf, and when I went to Hokkaido Classic Golf Club, I was told that foreigners refused.

“If this were British or American, wouldn’t it be seen as racism? Do you have any recommendations for a good golf course?”

(Courtesy of SendaiBen.  Note different ending in original Japanese:  “Fukuzatsu na kimochi desu”, or “It’s a complicated feeling.”)

A British man in his 30s has also claimed he is sometimes declined entry to some places in Mr Bothroyd’s adopted city of Hokkaido.

He said: “I was once declined by a hotel in Hokkaido. Foreigners couldn’t stay there.”

A survey by the Justice Ministry in March revealed a worrying number of foreigners who are refused entry to venues in Japan, even though some are even able to speak the language.

The golf course’s fees page says non-Japanese players must be accompanied by a club member

It found that 247 out of 4,252 foreigners are “sometimes” refused entry to shops and restaurants due to their nationality, while 18 said they were “frequently” refused entry.

In addition, 347 anti-immigration rallies took place in 2013, growing to 378 in 2014, while Brazilian journalist Ana Bortz successfully sued a store in Hamamatsu after the owner tried to eject her.

In May 2016, Japan passed the Hate Speech Law, aimed at curbing racial discrimination to fight the growing problem.

When Tokyo hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, Japan is expected to welcome more than 40 million tourists, with organisers hoping to eradicate the problem in time for the global showpiece.

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. I found some time, so here is a little something for this week:

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

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

“Dear foreign customer, we don’t give you service due to safety reason and regulation.
We are appreciated your understanding.”
(申し訳ありません。 安全上の理由により,外国の方はお受けしておりません)

Here’s a screen capture and text, courtesy of Steve and other Debito.org Readers:

About Diving: “Gaijin Refused” http://archive.is/kUTlD
Even just Walking: “Gaijin Refused” http://archive.is/rk6Gw
(Look at the photos, not dangerous hiking, simple relaxed walking.)
The smiling race-excluder: Mr. Ken’ichi Konishi http://archive.is/STvQx

Begin Diving Buddies’ contact details are:

☆ 住所 : 〒901-3501 沖縄県島尻郡渡嘉敷村字渡嘉敷1918-1
☆ 電話 : 098-896-4114
☆ 携帯 : 090-3272-3939
☆ FAX : 098-896-4115
☆ mail : tokashiki@begin.jp

http://www.begin.jp/aisatu.php

Feel free to give them a piece of your mind.  You can also also let officialdom know as well.  Here is Tokashiki-mura’s official website, and Okinawa’s official tourism writeup on the place.  Dr. Debito Arudou

===================================
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“Japanese Only” tourist information booth in JR Beppu Station

mytest

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Hi Blog. Let me turn the keyboard over to Kyushu visitor DB, who catalogs the latest permutation of Japan’s “omotenashi” towards NJ tourists, where “hospitality” meets Japan’s inevitable “separate but equal” ideologies. Dr. Debito Arudou

/////////////////////////////////////////
April 6, 2018
Hi there Debito,

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

After we gave up and walking out half in shock I noticed the signage. The ambiguity of “Japanese” here covers the apparent reality that they actually will refuse to serve anybody not visibly Japanese regardless of language ability.

While the “Japanese only” info desk was next to the front exit, directly connected to the main hall that has the ticket gate, the other “foreigner info” desk was a booth that was set up in the adjoining part of the building where the restaurants are. It wasn’t too far away, but it was clearly set up after the fact in order to keep the increasing number of foreign visitors separated out. There was a hand written sign noting that the staff could speak English and Chinese. Although the other desk had four staff, this one had one or two depending on the time if day (two initially, one when I passed by later). The service was fine. (But of course, we used Japanese there anyway because that’s simply easier, so there was zero point in moving except because we were forced to. )

I’ll be sending a formal complaint later, but I thought I’d send you the story. Here’s some photos attached, taken April 6, 2016. Feel free to share the story if you like. Regards, DB.

/////////////////////////////////////////

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s a flashback to a time (dating from the mid-1980s, see here and here, for example) when people were saying that “foreigners have AIDS”.  I was there; I remember it well.

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

////////////////////////////////////////

From: XY
Subject: Embedded Racism, AIDS, and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Date: March 8, 2018
To: debito@debito.org
Hello Debito,

Please see the attached photo, snapped on a Kyoto metro yesterday afternoon.  The only non-Japanese face visible in the metro car (other than mine) is on an advert for AIDS and STD testing by Kyoto City Government. 

The poster seems to imply the foreign as the source of danger, illness, social decay. The (dyed? or at least not black) permed, and slightly disheveled hair accord with the stereotype of the western woman of lax morality.

I wonder whether they used a stock image or hired a model and whether the model was aware or consented to the use of her image in this context? While technically she is contributing to a good cause – increasing awareness of AIDS, STDS, and of a useful public health service, she most likely did not realize that her image also contributes to the construction and maintenance of negative bias against non-Japanese women.

I also wonder about the designers. Who decided to use a non-Japanese model and what was their rationale (or rationalization)? Japan as a multi-ethnic society, where non-Japanese can be employed for health service publicity?  Or the purely functional message that the service itself is available for both J and NJ? How does it relate to the actual epidemiology of AIDS and other STDs in Japan? Does the poster reflect any reality in the situation or is it a complete misrepresentation of the epidemiology?

Cheers and keep up the good work.  Sincerely, XY

////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT:  Now, some might argue (and believe me, pedants, naysayers, and White Samurai will) that this is merely an IStock photo and that there was no association meant.  But that’s not how advertising works.  (Why add an image of a person at all if that were true?)  Others might say that she’s representing a medical professional pleased to see people coming in for testing.  But there is no context grounding that, either.  (No clear nurse’s uniform, nor a background that is clearly a hospital.  It looks more like a government front desk area to me; if you look closely at the poster, that’s in fact where the testing is happening, not at a hospital; she’s a patient, not a government representative.)

Again, why are we targeting a Visible-Minority demographic with this ad?  As XY says, that’s the embedded racism of this campaign.

My suspicion is that they are targeting Japan’s sex workers, and a frequent association is that any foreigner imported for this task has diseases.  This poster merely fortifies that.

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

As XY also notes, I wonder what the model herself thinks about being associated with sexually-transmitted diseases?  I wish we could ask.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

mytest

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

A contrarian might argue that NJ are just accident-prone.  But as the article describes below, working conditions are simply awful, not to mention generally illegal.  And as as Debito.org has pointed out repeatedly over the decades, “the program is rife with abuse: exploitation under sweatshop conditions, restrictions on movement, unsafe workplaces, uncompensated work and work-site injuries, bullying and violence, physical and mental abuse, sexual harassment, death from overwork and suicideeven slavery and murder.

“Things have not improved in recent years. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry announced that about 70 percent of some 5,200 companies that accepted trainees in 2015 violated laws, and in 2016 a record 4,004 employers engaged in illegal activities. The program is so rotten that even the United Nations demanded Japan scrap it.” (From Japan Times, Jan. 3, 2018, Item 4)

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

/////////////////////////////////////////

Foreign trainee fatality data highlight safety and exploitation issues in Japan
KYODO NEWS/JAPAN TIMES JAN 15, 2018
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/01/14/national/social-issues/foreign-trainee-fatality-data-highlight-safety-exploitation-issues-japan/

Work-related incidents killed 22 foreign trainees over a three-year period from fiscal 2014, according to government data, illustrating the risk that laborers brought to Japan will face dangerous or exploitative conditions.

While most of the 22 deaths are believed to have been caused by accidents, one was the result of karōshi (death by overwork), the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Sunday.

The ministry’s figures are the first government statistics to be released on work-related deaths among foreign trainees in Japan.

During the three-year period, there were on average 475 cases of work-related accidents per year that were subject to compensation via industrial accident insurance and which required four or more days of leave for such workers, the data showed.

The ratio of work-related deaths for foreign trainees was significantly higher than the ratio for all workers.

The government introduced the oft-criticized training program for foreign workers in 1993 with the apparent aim of transferring Japanese know-how to developing countries. But the program, applicable to agriculture and manufacturing among other sectors, has drawn criticism at home and abroad as a cover for importing cheap labor.

Cases of illegally long working hours, unpaid wages, violence and other harsh conditions have also been reported.

According to the Justice Ministry, foreign trainees are on the rise, with 167,641 logged in 2014, 192,655 in 2015 and 228,589 in 2016. Given the 22 deaths over the three-year period, the ratio of work-related deaths works out to roughly 3.7 deaths per 100,000 trainees.

For the nation as a whole, labor ministry data show that the tally for work-related deaths in all industries came to 2,957, or 1.7 deaths per 100,000 workers.

Akira Hatate, director of the Japan Civil Liberties Union and an expert on the trainee system, points out that there could be more cases involving foreign trainees due to the government’s lax reporting standards.

He said work-related accidents are more frequent among non-Japanese because they are “unfamiliar with Japanese workplaces (and) as they are usually working for small and midsize companies that give little consideration to safety and health in the workplace. Trainees (also) cannot communicate fluently in Japanese.”

“There are also cases where trainees, who cannot work due to an injury, are forced to return home. Concealment of work-related accidents is rampant,” Hatate said.

In one case of misconduct, a Vietnamese man who was injured on the job said his employer pocketed his insurance payments. The 23-year-old man came to Japan in July 2015 to work at a construction firm in Tokyo. With no prior experience in carpentry, he worked at residential construction sites and his monthly take-home pay was around ¥120,000.

The trainee said he was injured in May 2016 when his thumb was accidentally nailed by a machine. He was hospitalized for five days and after being discharged rested for only one day. The next day he resumed work with his thumb in a bandage. A year later he injured his palm during unloading work.

Even while he was working, his company filed for workers’ compensation, saying the man took a long-term absence and cited a medical certificate stating he required three months to recover.

Roughly ¥900,000 was transferred to the man’s bank account, but the employer told him the money was not his and demanded that he hand it over. The Vietnamese trainee said he was robbed of ¥220,000 in total.

Due to his lack of experience in the field and poor Japanese skills, the man often made mistakes. The president would yell at him to return to his country, and at one point, forced him to kneel and bow in dogeza fashion, an extreme way of apologizing by bowing deeply until the forehead touches the floor.

The man said he endured the mistreatment because he was about ¥1.4 million in debt to various entities, including the agency in Vietnam that got him into the program. He returned to Vietnam last month.

“I wanted to continue working, but I cannot do that under that president,” the man said. Until the end, the president offered no apology, he said.

Shiro Sasaki, secretary-general of the Zentoitsu Workers Union and well-versed on trainee issues, said, “Foreign nationals do not know about the workers’ compensation system, and there are many firms which think that things could just be settled by having the trainees return to their homeland.”

According to Sasaki, the way these firms treat their foreign trainees would never be acceptable to Japanese workers.

The latest data came to light as the government moves to expand the scope of the system amid a nationwide labor shortage and political resistance to boosting immigration.

Under a new law that took effect in November, nursing care was added to the list of fields in which foreign trainees can work. The change was made as firms struggle to overcome an acute shortage of care workers in an industry that is becoming all the more important amid the rapid graying of the population.
ENDS
=======================

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  It’s that time of year again, when the GOJ releases the annual stats for NJ residents (i.e., 2.3 million); in this case, as per the article below, the annual stats for NJ laborers, since not all NJ can work).  So let’s get to them:

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

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

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

////////////////////////////////////////

Japan sees foreign workers climb to record 1.28 million as labor crunch continues
JAPAN TIMES/KYODO NEWS, JAN 27, 2018
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/01/27/national/japan-sees-foreign-workers-climb-record-1-28-million-labor-crunch-continues/

The population of foreign workers set a record of about 1.28 million in late October as rapidly graying Japan continued to rely on foreign trainees and students to make up for its labor shortage, the labor ministry said Friday.

The total of 1,278,670 is 18 percent higher than last year and the highest since comparable data became available in 2008, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

Chinese led the way with 372,263 workers, up 8 percent on year, followed by the Vietnamese, whose numbers soared 40 percent to 240,259, accounting for 35 percent of the increase.

Filipinos came in third at 146,798, up 15.1 percent, followed by Brazilians at 117,299, up 10.0 percent, and Nepalese at 69,111, up 31.0 percent.

By residential status, permanent residents and spouses of Japanese climbed 11 percent to reach 459,132, while students with part-time jobs rose 24 percent to 259,604 from a year ago. The number of technical interns meanwhile grew 22 percent to 257,788.

Due to the tight labor market, Japan’s recovering economy and shrinking population, many of the technical interns and students are being hired to perform unskilled labor for low wages to fill serious manpower shortages.

While the government has opened its doors to professionals specializing in information technology and other specific fields, it does not officially welcome unskilled laborers to avoid public debates on immigration, which has long been a sensitive issue.

Foreign specialists comprise a small portion of the incoming workers, and many are hired by small firms with fewer than 30 employees, according to the ministry.

In the manufacturing industry, 40 percent of them were trainees brought in under the state-sponsored technical intern training program. In the service sector, which includes the hotel and restaurant industries, 60 percent were students.

As many foreigners seeking to gain skills or education are treated as laborers, the situation has raised concerns about corporate exploitation and the abuse of student visas for working purposes.

Japan relies heavily on foreign labor, and experts and scholars have been urging more public debate on immigration policy as Japan’s society continues to gray and shrink.

ENDS

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

mytest

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


(Courtesy of The Japan Times)

My opinion is that doing Blackface is almost always a bad thing, due to its historical connotation regardless of context. And I add the caveat of “almost always” while struggling to think of any exception, except for purposes of historical grounding behind the issue. (And it’s not limited to blackface: Debito.org has covered racialized media in Japan, broadcast without input from the minorities affected, many times in the past, including here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)  And the fact that this is happening again despite a similar Blackface incident not two years ago (which ended up with the broadcast being cancelled a priori) is merely willful ignorance on the part of Japan’s media outlets.

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

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

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

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

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Hi Blog. As is tradition, here is JBC’s annual countdown of the top 10 human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan over the past year, as published in The Japan Times.

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
In 2017, Japan woke up to the issue of discrimination [NB: I didn’t write the headline.]
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
THE JAPAN TIMES, JAN 3, 2018

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/01/03/issues/2017-japan-woke-issue-discrimination/

(Version with links to sources.)

In ascending order:

10) As Japan’s population falls, NJ residents hit record

Figures released in 2017 indicated that Japan’s society is not just continuing to age and depopulate, but that the trends are accelerating. Annual births fell under 1 million — a record low — while deaths reached a record high. The segment of the population aged 65 or older also accounted for a record 27 percent of the total.

In contrast, after four years (2010-2013) of net outflow, the NJ resident influx set new records. A registered 2.38 million now make up 1.86 percent of Japan’s total population, somewhat offsetting the overall decline.

Alas, that didn’t matter. Japanese media as usual tended to report “Japan’s population” not in terms of people living in Japan, but rather Nihonjin (Japanese citizens), indicating once again that NJ residents simply don’t count.

9) ‘Hair police’ issue attracts attention with lawsuit

Japan’s secondary schools have a degree of uniformity that stifles diversity. And this trend reached its logical conclusion with the news that one school was forcing children with natural hair color that’s anything but black to dye and straighten their locks.

We talked about dyeing a decade ago (“Schools single out foreign roots,” July 17, 2007), noting its adverse effects on children’s physical and mental health. Yet the Asahi Shimbun reported in May that 57 percent of surveyed Tokyo metropolitan high schools still require “proof of real hair color.” In Osaka, it’s more like 80 percent.

Last October a student filed suit against Osaka Prefecture for mental anguish. Kaifukan High School in the city of Habikino had forced her to dye her naturally brown hair every four days, regardless of the rashes and scalp irritation. When even that proved insufficiently black, she was barred from a school festival and deleted from the school register.

The tone-deaf school justified this by saying, “Even a blond-haired foreign exchange student dyed her hair black.” This lawsuit’s outcome will signal whether Japan’s increasingly diverse student population can ever escape this kind of institutionalized harassment. But at least one student is standing up for herself.

8) Five-year limit on contract employment backfires

As reported in the JT by Hifumi Okunuki (“‘Five-year rule’ triggers ‘Tohoku college massacre’ of jobs,” Nov. 27, 2016), Japan’s Labor Contract Law was revised in 2013 to increase worker job security. To put an end to perennial full-time contracted employment, anyone working more than five years on serial fixed-term contracts will now be able to switch to normalized full-time noncontracted (seishain) status if they wish.

However, the law was not retroactive and the clock started ticking on April 1, 2013, so as the five-year deadline approaches this coming April, employers are now terminating contracts en masse: Last April, Tohoku University told 3,200 employees their current contracts would be their last.

But contract law has a special impact on NJ workers, as many endure perpetual contracted status (especially educators in Japan’s university system). The five-year rule has now normalized the practice of periodically “vacationing” and “rehiring” NJ to avoid continuous contracts, while encouraging major companies to finagle NJ employees’ working conditions by offering them “special temp status” (for example, explicitly capping contracts at less than five years).

Hence the bamboo ceiling remains alive and well, except it’s been expanded from just filtering out foreign nationals to affecting anyone.

7) Hate-speech law has concrete effects

Despite concerns about potential infringement of freedom of speech, a hate speech law was enacted in 2016 to, among other things, specifically protect foreign nationals from public defamation. It worked: Kyodo reported last year that xenophobic rallies, once averaging about one a day somewhere in Japan, were down by nearly half. Racialized invective has been softened, and official permission for hate groups to use public venues denied.

Of course, this hate speech law is not legislation with criminal penalties against, for example, racial discrimination. And it still assumes that noncitizens (rather than, for example, members of “visible minorities” who happen to be citizens) need special protection, incurring accusations of favoritism and “reverse discrimination.”

Nevertheless, according to the Mainichi, haters have been chastened. A report quotes one hate rally attendee as saying that before the law change, “I felt like anything I said was protected by the shield of ‘freedom of speech’… I felt safe because I knew the police officers would protect us. It felt like we had the upper hand.”

Not so much anymore.

6) Pension system qualification lowered to 10 years

Last year saw an important amendment to Japan’s state pension (nenkin) rules. Until last August, you had to invest a minimum of 300 months, or 25 years, in the various schemes to qualify for payouts after reaching retirement age.

Japan thus turned workers into “pension prisoners” — if you ever took your career elsewhere, you would get at most a small lump-sum payout from Japan, and possibly zero from your new country of residence for not paying in enough. (It was especially punitive toward Japan’s South American workers, who forfeited pensions when bribed by the government to “return home” during 2009’s economic downturn.)

Although things have improved under bilateral totalization agreements (where pension payments in designated countries get counted toward Japan’s 25-year minimum), this year Japan lowered the bar to the more reasonable 10 years. (More on this at www.debito.org/?p=14704.)

Of course, this does not resolve the fact that Japan will have the highest proportion of pensioners anywhere on Earth. Payouts and minimum retirement ages will be revised accordingly to make the pension worth little. But still, it will not be zero, and payments can be claimed anywhere in the world when you’re ready.

5) Renho resigns, Democratic Party withers

In 2016, in an unprecedented move, a member of an ethnic minority became the leader of a major Japanese political party. Alas, that party was the Democratic Party (formerly the Democratic Party of Japan), which in 2017 crumbled into nothing.

Renho, a Taiwanese-Japanese who served in Cabinets under two DPJ prime ministers, was a popular reformer. (She was re-elected in 2010 with a record number of votes for her district.) However, last year her integrity was questioned when it emerged that she had technically retained dual citizenship by not formally renouncing her Taiwanese nationality. That was rectified in July, but weeks later Renho resigned, ostensibly to “take responsibility” for a poor DP showing in the Tokyo prefectural election. From there, the DP downward-spiraled into virtual oblivion.

Many Japanese politicians have been tainted by scandal merely for associating with foreign types (for example, former DPJ Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara in 2011). Renho, alas, could not escape the stigma of her own putative “foreignness” — a huge setback for Japan’s politically invested ethnic minorities.

4) ‘Trainee’ program expanded, with ‘reforms’

Since 1993, to offset a labor shortage in Japan’s rusting small-firm industries, the government has been providing unskilled labor under an ostensible training program for foreign workers.

However, because “trainees” were not legally “workers” protected by labor laws, the program was rife with abuse: exploitation under sweatshop conditions, restrictions on movement, unsafe workplaces, uncompensated work and work-site injuries, bullying and violence, physical and mental abuse, sexual harassment, death from overwork and suicideeven slavery and murder.

Things have not improved in recent years. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry announced that about 70 percent of some 5,200 companies that accepted trainees in 2015 violated laws, and in 2016 a record 4,004 employers engaged in illegal activities. The program is so rotten that even the United Nations demanded Japan scrap it.

So guess what: In 2014, Prime Minster Shinzo Abe announced it would be expanded. Once restricted to the construction, manufacturing, agricultural and fishery industries, as of November it also includes nursing and caregiving. New opportunities were also proposed in “special economic zones” (so that foreign college graduates with Japanese language skills can pull weeds and till farmland — seriously). Furthermore, visas will be longer-term (up to five years).

To counter the abuses, the government also launched an official watchdog agency in November to do on-site inspections, offer counseling services to workers and penalize miscreant employers. But labor rights groups remain skeptical. The program’s fundamental incentives remain unchanged — not to actually “train” foreign laborers (or even provide Japanese language instruction), but rather to exploit them as cheap unskilled labor.

So expect more of the same. Except that now the program will ingest even more foreign workers for longer. After all, uncompetitive factories will continue to use cheap labor to avoid bankruptcy, construction will expand due to the Olympics, and more elderly Japanese will require caregivers.

3) North Korean missile tests and the fallout

Last year North Korea, the perpetual destabilizer of East Asia, commanded even more worldwide attention than usual (even popularizing the obscure word “dotard” among native English speakers). Flexing its muscles as a probable nuclear power, it test-fired missiles over Japan. The Japanese government responded by calling 2017 “the most severe security environment since the end of World War II” and warned regions of launches via the J-Alert system, while local authorities ran duck-and-cover-style nuclear attack drills.

This is but the most recent episode in a long history of Japan-North Korea reactionary antagonism. However, Japan is particularly wary of the possibility of infiltration. Members of the North Korean diaspora live in Japan (attending ethnic schools with photos of the Kim dynasty on their walls), with established networks for smuggling, money laundering and kidnapping of Japanese.

Essentially, North Korea’s international recklessness and habitual stupidity empower Japan’s warmongers and xenophobes to reinforce Japan’s bunker mentalities. They’ve successfully created domestic policies (such as the new “anti-conspiracy law”) that curtail civil, political and human rights for foreign and Japanese nationals alike — all legitimized based on the fear of North Koreans gaining even an iota of power in Japan.

Thus, North Korea’s antics ruin Japan’s liberal society for everyone. And last year Kim Jong Un upped the ante.

2) Abe glides to fifth electoral victory

In October, PM Abe won his fifth straight election (Lower House 2012, Upper House 2013, Lower House 2014, Upper House 2016, and this time Lower House 2017). No Japanese leader has ever enjoyed such a winning streak. But why?

Abe’s success is partly down to an aging society being predictably more conservative. No political party in the democratic world has held on to power as long as Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party. Voting LDP, particularly in rural Japan, where votes count more than urban ones do, is often generational habit.

It’s also partly due to an opposition in disarray: After the DP stumbled and fell, the newly formed Kibo no To (Party of Hope) (whose policies weren’t all that different from the LDP’s) soured under the leadership of mercurial Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike — who resigned as party head, effectively abandoning her baby, in November.

And, to give due credit, it’s partly because Abe offers reassuring policies that, as usual for the LDP, sloganize stability and preservation of the status quo over concrete results or necessary reforms.

As far as Japan’s NJ residents are concerned, this election offered no good news. No party offered any policy improvements whatsoever for Japan’s international residents. (As noted above, how could they, what with North Korea’s missiles flying overhead?)

But xenophobia in fact had political traction: A prerequisite for DP politicians to defect to Kibo no To was a pledge to oppose suffrage rights for NJ permanent residents — for fear, they openly argued, that NJ would swarm into a voting bloc and take control over regions of Japan!

In sum, 2017’s election was not a rout of the opposition as has been seen before; the ruling coalition even lost a few seats. Moreover, the biggest victors, a new Constitutional Democratic Party streamlined of wishy-washy former DP members, offered a clear voice to the strong opposition among Japanese to changing the Constitution.

That said, JBC believes those changes will probably happen anyway, because despite this year’s scandals (e.g., the Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Gakuen school debacles), five wins at the ballot box have made it clear that voters are just fine with Abe in power, whatever he does.

1) Government human rights survey of foreign residents

In March, the Justice Ministry released the results of a nationwide survey of NJ about the discrimination they face. It offered valuable insights: Nearly 40 percent of respondents looking for a place to live in the past five years had been refused for being foreign (and this did not include multiple rejections); more than a quarter gave up on a place after seeing a “no foreigners” clause.

Twenty-five percent of respondents looking for work said they had been rejected for being foreign, and nearly a fifth said they had received a lower salary for the same reason. Nearly 30 percent said they were targeted by race-based insults. More than 37 percent said they supported a law against “foreigner discrimination” (sic).

There’s lots more (see “Time to act on insights on landmark survey,” JBC, April 26), and even with all the caveats (e.g., excluding Japan’s visible-minority citizens, who tend to be treated as foreigners, and offering no questions about discrimination by officialdom, such as police street ID checks or the manufacturing of fictitious foreign crime waves), it’s an unimpeachable set of official stats that may, despite the xenophobic political climate, result in future antidiscrimination policies.

Bubbling under:

Osaka cuts sister-city ties with San Francisco as “comfort women” wartime sex slavery issue heats up.

Turkish resident Ibrahim Yener wins discrimination lawsuit against Osaka car agency — without using a lawyer.

In an international child custody dispute, Japan’s Supreme Court OKs defying a Hague Convention return order from a U.S. court, enabling future child abductions to Japan regardless of the treaty.

Record numbers of foreign tourists come to Japan and spend.

More NJ deaths in official custody, including those incarcerated at immigration detention centers and a New Zealander who died while strapped to a bed at a psychiatric hospital.

Charles Jenkins, U.S. Army deserter to North Korea and husband of a Japanese woman abducted to the same country, dies in Niigata Prefecture at age 77.

ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. We’ve covered this “F*ckin Foreigner kill” Harajuku store called “Richards” before on Debito.org, and obviously media attention hasn’t deterred this nasty shop from putting up nasty anti-foreigner signs. Now, according to customer [whom I will anonymize as XY], the manager bullied her as a customer with verbal abuse and threatened her with violence. And the local police refused to do anything about it. This is beyond the pale, and XY intends to fight it. Good for her, and Debito.org puts this up as a matter of record at her request to draw attention to the issue. Dr. Debito Arudou

Richards Harajuku Maruichi Blog. 1F, 1 Chome-6-11 Jingūmae, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0001
Phone:  03-5410-0069

////////////////////////////////////////////////
From: XY
Subject: My experience with a Harajuku shop keeper – racist signs and threatened violence
Date: December 19, 2017
To: debito@debito.org

Hi Debito,
I’m a long-term resident of Japan and I’m writing to you to share and get you to share my encounter yesterday with a racist shopkeeper in Takeshita dori in Harajuku.

It started with racist signs and ended with him threatening me with violence.

Sample signs (dated December 18, 2017):


Full report:
===========================

This happened to me today – my experience with a racist violent shopkeeper in the center of Tokyo’s busiest tourist town.
Warning … horrible language- completely NSFW or children.

Today I went to Harajuku and while I was there I did a little shopping. I went to buy a cute bag in this shop in Takeshita dori and realised that the shop had startlingly crude insulting signs up aimed at foreigners (non- Japanese).

I originally thought that it might have been because of an ignorance of English, but when I spoke to the shop keeper he said “Nihon wa jiyu na Kuni” (Japan is a free country) and I realised he meant every word.

Now I understand that he was getting annoyed that people were taking photos and not buying things, but that level of insulting hate driven language is never okay, and especially not in a place where children may go.

I even told him that I was buying it for my child, and that I would have brought my child there… and it was not something that a child should be exposed to. He didn’t care.

At that point I decided that there was no way I was going to spend any money in his shop, and anything I bought there would just feel bad so I told him that I no longer wanted the bag.

He cursed me out for being cheap and wasting his time (although in fact I was going to buy the bag and already had my money out).

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

Then he grabbed something and went to hit me with it.
I screamed in shock and ran out of the shop.

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

UPDATE DEC 28: I have realised that the police insistence I give the exact address before they could make a report was most likely a measure to deflect me. I had a photo of the shop front with the shop name clearly written which I showed to them.

I was already appalled by his signs, but then when he topped it off with attempted assault made me worry about what else he has done to foreign tourists or what he will do.
I’m amazed that the local business groups aren’t doing anything to stop him ruining their image with foreign visitors.

===========================

I’ve made this report public so that it can be shared, and I am giving everyone permission to share and use it.

I’m also happy to answer questions and do what needs to be done to get the word out and stand up to a bully like him.

I’m glad you are here fighting the fight for all of us. It needs to be done and I intend to fight this.

Sincerely,
XY

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s an article in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post on racism in Japan.  And while I’m not entirely satisfied with how some of my quotes came out, it’s still an article that tries to get to the heart of a complex issue within 800 words.  Dr. Debito Arudou

////////////////////////////////////

WHY IS RACISM SO BIG IN JAPAN?
It’s not just some Japanese shops that try to bar foreigners – schools and landlords can be equally unwelcoming. So maybe it’s not surprising a government adviser has called for apartheid, South Africa style

BY JULIAN RYALL, SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, 9 DEC 2017
http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2123539/no-chinese-why-anti-china-racism-so-big-japan

The hand-written sign in the entrance of a cosmetics shop in Japan might have been shocking to many Chinese, but to some observers its message was all too familiar.

The sign, which said Chinese people were not allowed to enter, caused outrage when images of it were posted on Chinese websites last month.

Within 24 hours, the store’s owner Pola Inc ordered the sign to be removed and vowed to suspend operations at the outlet. Pola acknowledged the notice had caused “unpleasant feelings and inconvenience to many people” and said it would deal with the situation “gravely”.

In contrast with the anger in China, the incident attracted little coverage in Japan and received only brief mention in the few media outlets that covered it at all.

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

“Back in the 1980s, there was a lot of talk about how Japan was going to internationalise and that diversity was positive, but that has largely fizzled out,” Arudou, 52, says.

For Arudou, the most significant nail in the coffin of internationalisation was hammered in by Shintaro Ishihara, soon after he was elected governor of Tokyo in 1999. In a speech to members of Japan’s Self-Defence Forces on April 9, 2000, Ishihara said “atrocious crimes” had been repeatedly committed by illegal residents that he referred to as sangokujin, a derogatory term that literally means third-country nationals. Ishihara said if a natural disaster struck Tokyo, foreigners would cause civil disorder.

Despite an outcry, Ishihara brushed off demands to apologise. He even won re-election three times before stepping down in October 2012.

“There were problems before then, but I would have to say that speech made Japanese people look at foreigners as a threat to Japanese society, and I do not think that has gone away,” Arudou says.

And there are plenty of other examples of people in positions of responsibility expressing similar attitudes.

Ayako Sono, an author who has advised the government on education, wrote an opinion piece for the conservative newspaper Sankei Shimbun in 2015 in which she said that while Japan needed immigrants to solve its labour shortage, foreigners should be kept apart from Japanese people.

The best solution, she suggested, was the apartheid system employed by South Africa between 1948 and 1994. “It is next to impossible to attain an understanding of foreigners by living alongside them,” wrote Sono, 83. “Ever since I learned of the situation in South Africa some 20 or 30 years ago, I have been convinced that it is best for the races to live apart from each other, as was the case for whites, Asians and blacks in that country.”

Similarly, Tomomi Inada was revealed to have accepted donations from Zaitokukai, an anti-Korean group designated by police as a hate-speech organisation before she was appointed defence minister in 2016. She was also pictured meeting Kazunari Yamada, the leader of the National Socialist Japanese Labour Party and a fan of Adolf Hitler.

For many foreign nationals living in Japan, life has become significantly more difficult under a succession of Liberal Democratic Party governments, according to Arudou.

There are countless reports of Japanese property owners refusing to lease their flats to foreigners and, because there is no law that explicitly forbids discrimination based on nationality or race, there is little to stop them. Similarly, foreigners who approach government-run agencies for jobs are often refused based on their nationality or because they “look foreign”, according to Arudou, who in 2015 published book Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination.

Arguably the worst demonstration of Japan’s attitudes towards outsiders is visible in education. Schools are permitted to refuse foreign children if they lack the ability to teach them or that doing so would be too difficult for teachers. “This means there is an undereducated underclass of around 20,000 non-citizen children who cannot even read because they have not had the opportunity to learn,” Arudou says. [Source:  Embedded Racism, p. 130]

As many as 40 per cent of those children are second- or third-generation Japanese whose ancestors had been living in Brazil but were encouraged to apply for jobs with companies looking for relatively cheap labour. Having moved to Japan, however, their children miss out on an education.

“For Japanese people, racial discrimination is an inconvenient truth and most Japanese do not want to believe it exists in their society because they have been told there is only one race in Japan,” Arudou says.

And when the domestic media plays up violent incidents involving immigrants in France, Germany and Britain, it comes as no surprise that Japanese resist the idea of permitting foreigners to settle permanently in Japan, even when they are refugees seeking sanctuary from violence in their homelands.

“It is well known that Japan accepts a minuscule number of refugees each year and yes, the media here and the public at large look at the problems that have occurred in Europe and say those problems could never happen here because there are no immigrants,” Arudou says. “They say this is a mono-culture where everyone understands each other. And while that is nationalist claptrap that completely ignores any crimes committed by Japanese, it is how they think. It’s the narrative they tell themselves to reassure each other. But it’s not an honest narrative.”

And while the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympic Games the following year are being promoted as demonstrations of Japan as a nation open to outsiders, the changes may be only skin deep.

“I see these as ways of attracting more tourists and, therefore, more money,” he says.

“The people who come will be tourists and they will be shown great hospitality, but when it is over, Japan will wave them goodbye with a sigh of relief.” ■ ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

PS:  And just in case you were wondering, “Don’t all countries require citizenship in order to vote?”, here’s an article that says not always:  in fact, it says one in every four democracies has some kind of foreign suffrage.

////////////////////////////////////////

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike defends her party’s policy of not granting foreign residents in Japan the right to vote
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, STAFF WRITER
THE JAPAN TIMES, OCT 6, 2017, Courtesy of TJL
Courtesy of https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/10/06/national/politics-diplomacy/tokyo-gov-yuriko-koike-defends-partys-policy-not-granting-foreign-residents-japan-right-vote/

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike on Friday defended her recently launched party’s policy of denying foreign residents in Japan the right to vote or run in local elections, stating that such measures are necessary to protect the national interest.

Controversy over the policy was stirred when her nascent party, Kibo no To (Party of Hope), required new members switching from the disintegrating opposition Democratic Party to confirm their agreement to the policy of denying non-Japanese local suffrage before being allowed to join the new party.

In an official list of campaign pledges unveiled Friday the party skirted the issue, but Koike didn’t rule out the later incorporation of denying suffrage to foreign nationals.

“If we give foreign residents the right to vote and run in local elections, we need to consider what may happen in those small, thinly populated islands, where people with a certain motive may be able to wield significant power,” Koike told a news conference in Tokyo.

“We need to approach the issue from the perspective of how to protect our nation,” she said…

Rest of the article at
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/10/06/national/politics-diplomacy/tokyo-gov-yuriko-koike-defends-partys-policy-not-granting-foreign-residents-japan-right-vote/

==============================
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Nikkei: Japan’s “Japanese Only” apartment rental market may adversely affect NJ worker retention during labor shortage

mytest

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Hi Blog. Earlier this year the GOJ released a nationwide survey of discrimination toward NJ in Japan (details on Debito.org here and here). Debito.org predicted that the results of this could be (and would be) something the media would cite, now that they had tangible statistics.   (Even though, as reported previously on Debito.org, in the Nikkei Asian Review’s case, they would periodically still try to explain them away. But it would still be cited nonetheless.)  Here’s the latest example, again from the Nikkei Asian Review, with the shocking statistic, “Almost nine of 10 private housing units in Tokyo do not allow foreign tenants”.  Dr. Debito Arudou

/////////////////////////////////////////////////

As Japan looks for river of foreign talent, landlords erect a dam
Discrimination could hinder companies hiring more from overseas
Nikkei Asian Review, August 23, 2017
By TSUBASA SURUGA, Nikkei staff writer
https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/As-Japan-looks-for-river-of-foreign-talent-landlords-erect-a-dam

TOKYOSamith Hilmy, a 26-year-old student from Sri Lanka, was waiting anxiously at a real estate office in Tokyo as an agent went through the procedure of ringing the Japanese landlord of an apartment the student was interested in renting.

Following a brief exchange, which lasted no more than 10 seconds, Hilmy said, the agent hung up the phone and uttered the same three-word phrase he had heard from a dozen or so agents over a month of home hunting: “Sorry, no foreigners.”

When Hilmy first arrived in Japan in April, his Japanese language school set him up in an apartment for six months in Shin-Okubo, a district in the capital’s Shinjuku Ward. But he has to leave the place soon, and time is short.

He said he has also encountered some real estate agents that demanded four to five months’ worth of rent up front — some want a year’s worth — as “insurance” in case he leaves the apartment or the country without notice.

“I felt,” he said, “like I was being treated like a criminal.”

Hilmy’s odyssey is not unlike the reality faced by many foreigners living in Japan. This year, the country released a first of its kind national survey that highlighted the extent of housing discrimination foreigners face.

According to the study, released by the Ministry of Justice in March, out of 2,044 foreign residents who had sought housing within the past five years, 39.3% reported being turned down because they were not Japanese.

The impact is now being felt by employers. In recent years, numerous Japanese manufacturers and services have been trying to make up for the country’s shrinking labor force by looking elsewhere for workers. They want to create an inflow of talent, but housing discrimination could become a dam.

As of last October, Japan had 1.08 million foreign workers, up 58% from five years earlier, accounting for around 2% of the total workforce, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

They have to endure the humiliating phone call that often ends with a “sorry, no foreigners” because some landlords worry about tenants from other countries flying the coop, so to speak.

A few years ago, a 63-year-old landlord from Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district who asked not to be named rented an apartment to a male Chinese student. After six months or so, he said, neighbors began reporting that two other men had moved into the same flat, “often making a racket late at night.”

When the neighbors confronted the student, the tenant pretended not to understand Japanese. “It made me more hesitant [to rent to foreigners],” the landlord said. “I just don’t want any more trouble.”

Hiroyuki Goto, CEO of Global Trust Networks, a Tokyo-based guarantor service provider for foreign tenants, said not many landlords have actually had these kinds of experiences but the stories “have spread across the country, causing fear among landlords.”

Other reasons include landlords who assume foreign tenants would trouble neighbors — from Brazilians throwing large home parties and firing up the barbecue to American college students who like partying into the night in their apartments.

Goto said even if prospective tenants are skilled workers with stable jobs at big-name Japanese companies, many housing units remain out of reach.

Total OA Systems — a Tokyo-based IT consultancy with 200 or so employees, including those in China and the Philippines — plans to expand the number of its foreign engineers working in Japan. It currently has only a handful.

The IT industry is suffering from a significant labor shortage, and the consultancy was acutely aware of the discrimination problem last year when it welcomed a systems engineer from the Philippines. To dodge any hassles, the company consulted a property agent that caters to foreigners, whom industry players describe as an “underwhelming minority” in Tokyo.

Even real estate agencies with experience helping foreigners run into the same problem: “Almost nine of 10 private housing units in Tokyo do not allow foreign tenants,” according to Masao Ogino, CEO of the Ichii Group. “It is still an extremely exclusive market.”

Tsuyoshi Yamada, a human resources manager at Total OA Systems, said a lack of sufficient support for non-Japanese employees, including in regard to housing, could throw a hurdle up in front of the company’s plan to bring in overseas talent.

This concern is particularly strong for smaller IT companies like Yamada’s. “Even if we finally find a promising engineer,” he said, “retention could become a problem.”

Some companies are taking the matter into their own hands. YKK recently opened a small serviced apartment complex for its foreign-born employees in Kurobe, Toyama Prefecture, central Japan. Its flagship plant is a 10-minute drive away.

The world’s leading zipper maker is getting ready to expand into the low-end segments in China and other parts of Asia. To get a head start, it is training more foreign employees who could go on to become managers at these plants and elsewhere. These trainees work stints of up to three years in Kurobe.

The 10 apartments are close to full with engineers from Indonesia and other countries, and YKK is already considering whether it needs more housing for the more than 30 overseas engineers it plans to welcome every year.

YKK’s foreign employees used to live in other company dormitories or in private housing rented by the company. YKK said it has not experienced landlords rejecting its foreign-born employees but feels its serviced apartments help these workers avoid cultural quibbles with would-be neighbors.

More serviced apartment units would “allow [the foreign employees] to concentrate on their training from the day after they arrive to Japan,” a representative said.

Japan has no law prohibiting landlords from refusing applicants based on ethnicity or nationality.

“Judicially, the only way to resolve such a rejection is through civil lawsuits, which is an extremely high hurdle for foreigners,” said Yumi Itakura, an attorney with the Tokyo Public Law Office, citing costly trial fees and a lack of law firms with enough capacity to help non-Japanese clients.

But there have been efforts by industry players to tackle the issue. The Japan Property Management Association, a group of over 1,300 companies handling some 5 million properties, in 2003 created guidelines that include advice for landlords and real estate agencies in dealing with prospective foreign tenants.

“In some countries, a rental contract doesn’t require a guarantor [which is common in Japan],” one piece of advice says. “Housing rules differ by country and region, therefore you should carefully explain the values and customs that are behind Japan’s housing rules.”

For foreign tenants, the association created an “Apartment Search Guidebook,” which describes the country’s common housing rules in six languages. An example: “Living with people other than those stated in the rental agreement or sub-leasing the property are violations of the rental agreement.”

At the local government level, Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward is a forerunner in trying to tackle housing rental rejections. In 1991, the ward specifically stated in an ordinance that it will “strive to resolve [tenant] discrimination” based on nationality.

The issue is particularly important for Shinjuku, which has the highest proportion of foreign residents in Tokyo. As of Aug. 1, of 341,979 residents, 42,613 were not Japanese, more than 12% of the total. People from 130 or so countries live in the ward.

The ward office provides a weekly consultation session on real estate transactions for foreign residents who are having trouble finding a place to stay. In addition, it has set up a mechanism that offers help to residents in Chinese, Korean, English, Thai, Nepalese and Burmese.

Shinjuku periodically holds liaisons with property agents for better collaboration and smoother information exchanges, according to Shinjuku’s housing division. The effort is, in part, to support the elderly, disabled and foreigners, “who tend to be the most vulnerable when it comes to securing housing,” said Osamu Kaneko, the division’s manager.

According to a survey that Shinjuku conducted in 2015, separate from the justice ministry’s study, of 1,275 foreign residents, 42.3% said they had experienced discrimination in Japan. Of those, 51.9% felt discriminated against when looking for housing.

The justice ministry study underscores just how widespread discrimination is in Japan’s housing market. But the problem could be about to swell. At least the number of foreign residents in the country is trending up. At the end of 2016, it reached an all-time high, 2.38 million, 77% more than 20 years earlier.

Experts say access to housing in Japan is becoming ever more important as the third largest economy takes steps — though small ones — to open its door to more foreigners.

Chizuko Kawamura, a professor emeritus at Tokyo’s Daito Bunka University and an immigration policy expert, has proposed that the government set up a specialized body on multicultural initiatives that would make way for foreign resident support systems — from housing, education, medical access and fair employment.

This is “not limited to housing,” Kawamura said. “If our government cannot address the social needs of [foreigners] already living in Japan, we won’t be able to support those coming into the country in the future.”
ENDS
============================

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Asahi: Japan treats 1 million foreign workers as ‘non-existent’, and shouldn’t. Another recycled hopeful article.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  In the wake of my previous blog entry about a new exploitative visa system for the next generation of Nikkei workers, here’s a hand-wringing article from the Asahi about how people don’t (but really should) accept NJ as part of Japanese society.

It seems like these articles are cyclical — I remember them from a good ten years ago (for example here and here and here and here).  But papers gotta sell, even if magazines anywhere gotta hawk the same weight-loss and exercise regimens to the reading public.  Fortunately, the Asahi draws the same conclusions I would. Alas, next serious economic downturn, all this will be out of the window and foreigners will be unaccepted again.

Maybe I’m getting too old to hope for much change anymore.  Where’s the tipping point?  Dr. Debito Arudou

/////////////////////////////////////////////

Japan treats 1 million foreign workers as ‘non-existent’
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
July 27, 2017 
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201707270006.html
PHOTO:  A foreign student from Vietnam, right, is taught how to deal with customers at a convenience store in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward. Foreigners are often seen at convenience stores in urban areas of Japan. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Foreign workers in Japan are increasingly being seen as a valuable resource amid Japan’s declining birthrate and growing elderly population.

However, recent headlines in the media express concern about the influx of immigrants.

“Should we accept immigrants?” one publication asked.

Another worried that, “What will happen if foreigners become our bosses?”

The reality is that the number of foreign workers now totals more than 1 million. Japanese are increasingly coming in contact with foreigners in their daily lives, so they are no longer an “invisible presence.”

ACCEPTANCE IS UNAVOIDABLE

The Justice Ministry announced in January that foreigners working in Japan totaled 1,083,769 as of the end of October 2016.

Economic magazines such as Nikkei Business or Weekly Toyo Keizai have published articles related to immigration and foreign workers.

One contentious point among those articles is the existence of foreign workers working under a status akin to “unskilled labor,” which is not permitted, in principle, in Japan.

The Justice Ministry says that there are no rules and definitions concerning immigration in domestic law. So, Japan accepts immigrants under the title of “technical intern trainees,” who are expected to disseminate technology upon their return home, or “foreign students,” instead of accepting them as unskilled workers.

An article in the June edition of the monthly business magazine Wedge was titled, “Before we realized it, Japan has become a nation of immigrants.”

The article analyzed the situation where foreign students are employed in physical labor, working on farms and in factories and in the service industry, such as at hotels as cleaning staff, while introducing local communities that accepted immigrants as a measure to halt declining populations.

“When we are in Tokyo, it is hard for us to notice, but a work force shortage in local areas is so serious that those areas have no choice but to accept immigrants,” said Shinya Shiokawa, editor in chief of Wedge. “No one can be apathetic to them.”

While accepting immigrants has been discussed, foreign workers are more likely to be employed at restaurants or convenience stores in urban areas.

“Foreigners or people who have roots in overseas countries are talked of as if they do not exist, although they are already present in Japan’s society,” said Hiroshi Komai, professor emeritus of Hitotsubashi University, specializing in international sociology.

Until the 1950s, Japan was a nation that was dispatching immigrants to South America and other countries. In the 1980s amid a rising yen and the nation’s economic bubble, Japan was attracting an influx of foreigners.

In 2006, the internal affairs ministry drafted a plan to facilitate diversity in local communities.

While the central government banned immigrants from employment in low-skilled jobs, it allowed them to work under the name of trainees or on-the-job training. Komai said that local governments and nonprofit organizations have taken the lead in accepting immigrants and encouraging multiculturism in society.

“The central government has consistently treated immigrant workers as ‘they are present but non-existent,’ but the measure has already met limitations,” Komai said.

LITTLE FOREIGN PRESENCE IN LITERATURE

In the literature world, immigrants figure prominently in many stories in other countries. In Japan, however, the presence of immigrants in literature is not as common.

In Japan, there are many books on ethnic Koreans who were born and grew up in the country. One is “Geni’s Puzzle,” written in 2016 by Che Sil, a third-generation Korean, who was awarded the prestigious Oda Sakunosuke Prize. On the other hand, novels themed on “immigrants who come to Japan” are extremely rare.

“There are many overseas mystery novels that deal with immigration issues,” said Fuyuki Ikegami, a literary critic. “But in Japan, perhaps because Japan hasn’t accepted immigrants politically and socially, the theme can’t be as easily utilized and matured in a story.”

However, there are signs of change. Novels such as “i,” written by Kanako Nishi in 2016, and Yuzaburo Otokawa’s “R.S. Villasenor,” in 2017, describe immigrants coming from other countries.

The latter is the story of the daughter of a man from the Philippines who brings traditional Filipino craftwork to the traditional Japanese art of dyeing.

“While describing cultural integration, it tactfully addresses the immigration issue as a theme in a natural way,” Ikegami said.

Hiroshi Tanaka, a professor emeritus of Hitotsubashi University who specializes in Japan-Asia relations, said the existence of a “nationality dogma” in Japanese society is a barrier.

“Japanese people have a strong sense that Japanese society exists for people who have Japanese citizenship,” he said. “The length of residing in Japan doesn’t matter, and people other than Japanese can’t be admitted as a member of society.”

Tanaka said that the most important thing now is to operate on a standpoint of “for whom society exists.”

“Society exists particularly for people living there. If residing there, people should be treated the same whether they come from other countries or they don’t have roots in Japan. But that sense is still weak in Japan, and we have to change that,” he said.
ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s an earnest Japan Times journalist trying to take on some nasty anti-foreign signs up in a prominent Tokyo shopping area. The article cites me at the end, thanks. Read on for another comment from me that didn’t make the cut. Dr. Debito Arudou

//////////////////////////////////////

Tackling signs in Japan that you’re not welcome
BY DAISUKE KIKUCHI
The Japan Times, June 4, 2017

Entire article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/04/national/tackling-signs-japan-youre-not-welcome/

“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.

The Japan Times visited the shop after being approached by a foreign resident who was disgusted to see the signs while he was with his young daughter.

“The shop is absolutely covered in these messages,” wrote the reader. “I walk past this place from time to time. The thing that annoys me most is that Harajuku is such an anything-goes area full of all kinds of subcultures and minorities, not least of all foreigners, so this place is like a nasty little pit of intolerance inside an oasis of colour and joy.”

Asked about the thinking behind the signs, a staff member at the store explained that the shop put them up after becoming frustrated by the terrible manners of foreign shoppers.

“They usually take pictures, without permission,” said the staff member. The shop is concerned about images of its products being uploaded to the internet, she said. As to whether they would consider taking down the sign, she added: “I’m not so sure. If (they) had good manners, we wouldn’t do this, but there are so many that have really bad manners.”

[…]

In 2002 the Sapporo District Court ordered a bathhouse in Otaru, Hokkaido, to pay ¥1 million each in damages to three plaintiffs refused entry because they did not look Japanese. This ruling was based on articles of the civil code protecting individual rights and authorizing damages when these rights are violated, Article 14 of the Constitution — which forbids discrimination — and international conventions on racial discrimination and civil rights. However, the court did not uphold the plaintiffs’ claim against the city for its failure to implement an ordinance against racial discrimination based on the international pact cited in the Bortz case. That verdict was confirmed by the Sapporo High Court.

Debito Arudou, a plaintiff in the Otaru case and a columnist for The Japan Times who writes about human rights, hosted a “Rogues Gallery” of “Japanese only” and other discriminatory signs found across the country on his website, Debito.org, in the years after the Otaru case. There, readers could post photos of signs they found locally or on their travels, as well as any measures taken to get those signs removed, some of which proved successful.

“After the Otaru onsens case, bigoted shopkeeps realized they could put up ‘Japanese only’ signs with impunity, and they proliferated around Japan,” explains Arudou. “I dropped by those places, asked ‘Why this sign?’ and what could we do about it.

“Most managers adamantly denied any racism on their part, until I asked if someone like I, a Caucasian with a Japanese passport, could come in. When they said no, I pointed out the racism, to which they just shifted tack and blamed their racist customers. When they said yes, I often came inside and got more information about what was necessary to get the signs down. When they said they’ll think about it and I should come back later, I did and was usually denied entry again. I’d say each situation happened about a third of the time.

“We did get several signs down,” Arudou says. “Part of it was by calm persuasion about what how unenforceable the policy was: How were they to decide who was Japanese, especially when I was proving it was possible to be one without looking like one — and what about Japan’s international children? Part of it was the need to make the rules clear despite a language barrier. I listened to their rules, wrote up a bilingual sign for them to display, and received their exclusionary sign in trade. And part of it was quietly pulling signs down in the middle of the night. They didn’t go back up.”

Based on his experiences, Arudou advises engaging with business owners displaying discriminatory signs.

“If you have the language ability, or a friend or native speaker who is so inclined, ask the manager why the sign is up, and what it would take to get it down,” Arudou says. “After all, we shouldn’t allow racist behavior to be normalized through public signage. And if that doesn’t work, of course, I would never advocate that people pull the signs down quietly in the middle of the night. Never ever.”
ENDS

///////////////////////////////

NB: I also commented directly about the signs that open this article, which didn’t make the cut:

=====================================
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”.

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  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.  Dr. Debito Arudou

/////////////////////////////////////////

Survey: 57% of Tokyo high schools demand hair-color proof
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN May 1, 2017, courtesy of AT
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201705010035.html

Photo: Some Tokyo-run high schools ask guardians to sign and seal a form to verify students’ claims of having naturally light-colored or curly hair. (Ippei Minetoshi)

Nearly 60 percent of public high schools in Tokyo ask students with light-colored hair for proof, such as childhood photos, that these locks are their “real hair,” an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.

Many schools run by the Tokyo metropolitan government prohibit their students from dyeing or perming their hair as part of the dress code. The system of asking for “proof of real hair” was introduced to prevent schools from scolding or humiliating students whose hair is not naturally black.

The Asahi Shimbun interviewed all 173 full-time high schools run by the Tokyo metropolitan government on whether they ask students to submit forms of “proof of real hair.”

Ninety-eight of the 170 schools that responded to the survey answered “yes,” representing 57 percent of all schools contacted.

At least 19 schools ask their students to submit pictures of themselves as infants or junior high school students to prove the true color of their hair, the survey showed.

“Some students insist that their hair is natural even though it is dyed,” said a teacher at a metropolitan-run school in Setagaya Ward. “We ask their parents to confirm these claims as their responsibility.”

The style of the form varies from school to school. Most schools ask guardians to describe their children’s hair, such as, “My child’s hair is brown,” on the forms. The guardians’ seals are required to validate the information.

The number of students who submit the forms ranges from a few to a few dozen every year at each school.

Many schools hand out forms to new students who appear to have dyed or permed hair at a school information session attended by their guardians before the beginning of the academic year.

The school said the forms are intended to avoid unnecessary problems with the students if they are admitted. But the forms also show that the school is making efforts in providing “non-academic guidance.”

As the nation’s birthrate declines, competition between public schools and private schools to secure enrollees has intensified. Strict discipline can be a strong selling point.

Katsufumi Horikawa, chief of the guidance department at Tokyo’s board of education, said asking for proof of natural hair “is a valid process to prevent mistaken warnings to students (with naturally non-black or curly hair) and making them feel bad.”

However, he expressed concerns that some schools are going too far.

“Photographs are private documents, and extra consideration to protect personal rights is needed,” Horikawa said.

The education board of Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, said it is “aware of the practice at several high schools.” Also in the Tokyo metropolitan area, Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures said they do not have information about the practice.
ENDS

////////////////////////////////////////////

Most Tokyo high schools demand students prove their real hair color, study finds
Business Insider.com, by Chris Weller
May 4, 2017, courtesy of BS
http://www.businessinsider.com/japanese-students-hair-color-2017-5

In the US, dress-code violations might include an offensive t-shirt or a mini skirt. In Japan, a dye job can do you in.

According to a new survey published by Tokyo news outlet The Asahi Shimbun, 57% of public high schools in the city require students to prove that their hair color is natural.

The measure is designed to uphold strict Japanese standards regarding physical appearance: In addition to prohibiting students from perming or dyeing their hair, many Japanese schools mandate crisp, respectable dress and don’t allow overly long or unkempt hair.

According to Asahi Shimbun, 98 of the 170 schools surveyed by the paper had such a policy in place. The number of children who’d been made to prove their hair color was real ranged from a few to a few dozen during the most recent school year.

“Some students insist that their hair is natural even though it is dyed,” one teacher told Asahi Simbun. “We ask their parents to confirm these claims as their responsibility.”

Unlike the US, Japan’s population is fairly homogeneous. As a result, the culture often places a premium on uniformity — even slight deviations from the norm tend to stand out, and provoke criticism in more conservative circles.

Natsuko Fujimaki, a Tokyo-based entrepreneur, says this is where the Japanese concept of majime comes into play. The term refers to a preference for order, tidiness, and often perfectionism. It tracks closely with a desire to stay reserved and sensible in comportment.

“They try to follow the rules for everything,” Fujimkai [sic] tells Business Insider.

In order to prove that a student’s hair is natural, schools will often ask parents to submit childhood photos depicting the kid’s hair color. In less extreme cases, parents only need to verify in writing (with a signature) that their child’s hair hasn’t been treated in any way.

The practice is not new. Even a decade ago, some schools required students to prove they hadn’t dyed or curled their hair. In extreme cases, schools would even require foreign-born students to dye their hair to conform to the rest of the student body as part of a forced assimilation process.

“Every week teachers would check if Nicola was dyeing her hair brown,” a Brazilian-born student named Maria told Japan Times of her sister, Nicola, in 2007. “Even though she said this is her natural color, she was instructed to straighten and dye it black. She did so once a week. But the ordeal traumatized her. She still has a complex about her appearance.”

Hair dye and perms aren’t the only beauty choices subject to Japanese dress-code standards. Many male students can’t wear spiky or messy hairstyles, allow their hair to cover their eyes, or let it grow past their collars. Some schools require female students to pin their hair back “in a way that does not interfere with classroom instruction,” as one school’s code put it.

According to Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s falling birth rate plays a role in these rules. With fewer students to fill the schools, public and private schools have started competing for parents’ attention. One strategy they’ve adopted: Highlight their strict hair policies to show how majime they are about education, in hopes parents will be impressed by the rigor.

Some critics say the requirement that students prove their hair is natural violates their privacy.

Meanwhile, advocates allege it does the students a favor, since one verification process can prevent headmasters from constantly asking whether a child’s hair is real. They say asking for initial proof ends up sparing kids even greater psychological harm.
ENDS

========================

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  We’ve dealt with cases of hospitals refusing to treat NJ patients before (see some cases here).  Here’s something that’s never come up on Debito.org before:  How even when NJ receive treatment, medicines may be ineffectual due to low dosages.  Check this out.  I’m not a doctor (well, not one that can write prescriptions), so I hope members of the medical community can weigh in on this one.  Dr. Debito Arudou

////////////////////////////////////

From: StrepThroat
Subject: Fwd: Indirect discrimination in prescriptions?
Date: May 6, 2017
To: debito@debito.org

Dear Debito,

I don’t tend to get sick often but just my luck, 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. I’m hardly a huge guy but at 75kg, I’m surely larger than the average Japanese. so this results in less than ideal dosages for nearly everything. For example, this time I was given:

acetaminophen:

Extra Strength Tylenol is 1000mg every 6 hours.
Normal Tylenol is 650mg every 6 hours.
Childrens Tylenol is 500mg every 6 hours.
Japanese Calonol is 400mg every 6 hours.

clarithromycin:

Overseas recommended dosage is 250-500mg twice a day.
Japanese dosage is 200mg twice a day.

Huscode 741 combo pills

Overseas adult dosage is 3 pills, 3 times a day.
Overseas children’s dosage is 2 pills 3 times a day.
Japan dosage is 2 pills, 3 times a day.

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.

Sincerely yours, StrepThroat

========================
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UPDATE:  Asahi: Joe Kurosu MD on ineffectually low doses of prescription medicine for NJ patients and bureaucratic intransigence, in the Asahi Shinbun http://www.debito.org/?p=14616

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

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. Check this notice out, from the Fukushima Prefectural Police HQ:

Courtesy http://www.police.pref.fukushima.jp/i/onegai/jyouhou/gaijin.html
(Love how the link is simply “gaijin.html”.  Nice non-racist computer programmers you got there.)

It reads:

///////////////////////////////////////////

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:

  • Widespread cases of burglaries targeting [including grammatical error of wo tou wo] precious metal shops.
  • Burglaries at pachinko parlors using body-sensitive machines (taikanki) [whatever those are].
  • Cases of auto break-ins.

ILLUSTRATIONS:  WHAT IS THIS PERSON UP TO?

  • Illustration caption one:  Skulking around vending machines.
  • Illustration caption two:  Looking for anti-theft devices.
  • Illustration caption three:  Peeping around other people’s cars.

If you see or hear about a suspicious person such as this, contact your nearest police station or police box, or call 110 if an emergency.

PLEASE COOPERATE IN UNCOVERING FOREIGN ILLEGAL OVERSTAYS AND ILLEGAL WORKERS.

Illegal entrance to the country of course applies to foreigners who enter the country legally and stay beyond their legal residency period, and if they work under the wrong visa laws.

Employers who also employ foreigners illegally are punishable under the laws.  We ask that employers who employ foreigners follow the laws strictly.

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR NEAREST POLICE BOX OR STATION IF YOU DISCOVER ANY FOREIGNER ENTERING THE COUNTRY OR WORKING ILLEGALLY.

///////////////////////////////////////////////

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

And there’s a bit more.  Look at the tab for the website above all this:

「ヤミ金融業者に注意!!福島警察本部」, or “Beware of Black Market Financiers!” What’s this got to do with “gaijin”?  Oh, I guess if falls under the “Anti Group-Crimes Policy Section” (soshiki hanzai taisaku ka, see very top of poster), which, according to the National Police Agency, foreigners are allegedly more likely to commit even in “group-oriented Japanese society”.  So I guess the gaijin are somehow also involved in Black Finance as well.

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.

Another comment I’d like to make is about the irony here.  Fukushima has grumbled about how its exiled citizens are being treated as radioactively contaminated pariahs across the country and refused service.  How sad that, despite this experience, the Fukushima Police haven’t learned that you shouldn’t target people this way.  Oh, but then again, they’re only talking about foreigners, and they don’t count:  foreigners shouldn’t be here in our peaceful society anyway if they’re just going to commit crime (or are, incorrectly, rumored to commit crime).  And here is just another example to see how racism is embedded in Japan all over again.  Dr. Debito Arudou

————————–

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. 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:

///////////////////////////////////////////

Date: April 9, 2017
To: debito@debito.org
From: Bern

While this post for your blog describes an attempt by one university to isolate and harass (including a false claim of harassment that failed in epic fashion) a foreign faculty member, it is also meant to be a reminder. As a foreigner in Japan, things can go wrong even with the Japanese language fluency, the cultural and legal knowledge, the degrees and publications, the connections, etc., etc. that we are always told we should get in order to be “safe.” In other words, and until harassment and discrimination laws are clarified and given real teeth, we are all at risk.

As stated above, I have over 26 years of experience as a university teacher and administrator, including positions at public, national and private universities in Japan and in the USA. I have also been successful in these positions. Among other things, I was the first non-Japanese in Iwate National University’s 120-year history to be made department head (英米パート主任), and then the first non-Japanese there to be made the head of a division (欧米言語文化コース代表). Previous to that, I was dean (学部長) at Miyazaki International College, at the time the youngest dean in Japan and one of just seven non-Japanese deans in the country. Finally, I’ve been a union member, including serving as officer, for twenty years, during which time I have helped well over fifty people with labor concerns.

I have just finished two years in the most bizarre employment situation I personally have ever encountered. Some background: I worked at Iwate National University until March, 2015. It was an exciting and sometimes challenging, position, with mostly great colleagues. However, the work demands were very high, and with the ongoing hiring freeze, coupled with multiple MEXT-mandated pay cuts and constant MEXT pressure to make wholesale curriculum changes to “fix” nonexistent problems, things did not look to get any easier in the years to come.

So when, in the late summer of 2014, Iwate Prefectural University (IPU) contacted me about possibly moving over to join them, I was very excited. The position was to be for equivalent pay but with far less administrative responsibilities, as well as teaching duties more in line with my research and education. Serious discussions started that August. I was to be replacing a good friend of mine, Christine, who was taking early retirement. I would be working with Ogawa, who I considered a friend, and who I ironically had helped to get her current position. I would also be working with Kumamoto, who I got to know when she suddenly had to take leave for a semester and I was asked to teach her 西洋文化研究法 class instead. (This is a course on academic writing and research methods in Japanese. In other words, and on just three weeks of notice, I had to prepare and then teach a class on Japanese academic writing and research methods in Japanese to twenty Japanese university students.) Moreover, I thought I knew Ishibashi, the current 学科長 (Dept. Head). I also knew the one other foreign faculty member–as he wishes for anonymity let’s call him “A”–who I felt was a good guy. I have an email account full of correspondence about how everyone at IPU was looking forward to working with me, and how we would work together to make IPU a better place.

And so I made the change over, unfortunately without getting everything formally in writing first. To say that actual conditions were different from the verbal offer actually understates what awaited me at Iwate Prefectural University.

I arrived at a department where nearly half of my new colleagues (five out of eleven) had in recent years filed 鬱病診断書 (official diagnoses of severe depression) and rarely or never came to work, a department where three people (again out of just eleven) had had formal harassment claims made against them in the past four years. However, more on that last bit later.

My first inkling of trouble came when “A” suddenly resigned his tenured position at IPU to take a nontenured position (for less money) elsewhere. He submitted this resignation at the end of February, about one month before I was to start at IPU. I was disappointed, so I asked him about his decision…and he responded only with “You’ll know yourself soon.” I asked Christine and Ogawa about this. Christine responded cheerfully with assurances that, while disagreements happened, most people got along fine. (In her defense, Christine had no Japanese language ability and so apparently was blissfully unaware of the seriousness of many of the ongoing issues. She also wrote written statements in support of me later.) Ogawa never responded, which was a huge red flag, but at that point I had already resigned…so had no choice but to move on.

March 27, 2015 was my moving day. While carrying boxes upstairs, I was seen by Ogawa, who reminded me that we’d agreed to meet that day to discuss the English curriculum. I dutifully stopped unloading boxes and went to her office–to be honest, I was excited about discussing curriculum reform with my colleague and friend. However, there was to be no discussion. Instead, Ogawa informed me that I was to use a collection of grammar exercises and other explanatory materials “she” (they were actually taken from multiple junior and senior high school textbooks) had produced to supplement my 英会話 (English conversation) activities. I was a bit stunned, as I wasn’t hired to teach English conversation, didn’t have any English conversation classes to teach, and had already ordered textbooks for my other classes (back in February!). I attempted to explain this, saying that we should discuss materials and methodology at length over the semester and try to make a joint decision by the summer…and she exploded. She told me that she thought I’d be more “cooperative,” and asked me again and again if I knew my “place.” Despite repeated efforts–often in writing–on my part, we would not discuss English curriculum reform (or anything else) again during my two years at that campus.

My “place,” by the way, was professor (教授). Ogawa was a lecturer (講師), as was Kumamoto. That said, and this was confirmed by Mr. Chiba at the Labor Board (労働局), the unwritten policy at my new department was that rank didn’t matter, nor was there shared faculty governance in the usual sense seen at most national or public universities in Japan. Nothing was discussed or decided openly; we would have 学科会議 (department meetings), which I would attend religiously, only to be told that everything had already been decided. At these meetings, for instance, I first learned I would be denied the opportunity to work with the overseas exchange programs and even denied the opportunity to meet people arriving from overseas. E.g., regarding the latter, Kumamoto, after handing me a Japanese document–a letter of appreciation to Ohio University–and giving me five minutes (she actually stood next to me checking her watch) to translate it, then told me that I would not be allowed to meet the visiting faculty and students from OU that year. “Maybe next year,” I was told. Similarly, when I volunteered (begged) again and again to be informed of and allowed to participate in faculty-student events, including the Fourth of July Party, the Halloween Party, etc., etc., I was refused.

While I’ve heard again and again about this happening to many other foreigners, while I’ve personally advised foreign faculty who’ve been treated in this fashion, this is the first time such a thing had ever happened to me. I was systemically denied input into decision-making about school activities, English program reform, etc., etc. Instead, I was given the work nobody wanted to do. For example, I was made the first non-Japanese member of the 入試 committee, a committee so challenging new Japanese committee members are assigned a 先輩 (veteran colleague) to assist them with the multitude of responsibilities. I, however, was provided no veteran colleague. Instead, I was simply handed a large bag with the over 1,700 pages of things I “needed to know” about my new responsibilities, and then sent out alone to do, among other things, eleven high school visits in my first four months. (My Japanese colleagues went out in groups, to an average of just five schools.)

Still, I soldiered on, trying to prove myself to my new colleagues. In addition to the eleven high school campus visits, I did three 公開講座 (special lectures) on three different Saturdays (my Japanese colleagues averaged one), completed the onerous data-collection/number-crunching tasks (compiling from Japanese language surveys submitted by incoming freshman, etc.), etc., etc. And then, when I asked one day about the differences between the promised and actual work conditions, when I more strongly requested inclusion into the events and decision-making process, two of my colleagues (Kumamoto and Ogawa) did something I still find stunning:

They called a number of my students in and asked them to file a false harassment complaint against me.

How do I know they did this? Because my students–bless them–balked at doing this, and because these students then told me about what happened in writing. And not just this, Ogawa, in her complete stupidity, told two faculty members at other universities that she and Kumamoto would be doing this to me. Those faculty members (both friends) then informed me…again in writing.

To say I was blindsided, that I felt betrayed and humiliated and scared, is an understatement. Shocked, I reached out privately to Ogawa (my friend!) and asked for an explanation. She never responded. I then documented the harassment and asked Ishibashi to intervene, to mediate a discussion; he refused. Instead, on March 9, 2016, apparently after consultation with Ogawa and Kumamoto, Ishibashi stripped me of all duties beyond teaching.

I filed a complaint with the Labor Board (労働局), which reviewed the evidence, decided that I had a case, and intervened multiple times on my behalf. The national and regional unions intervened as well. It was in consultation with the latter that I first learned how often false harassment complaints are used to intimidate/bully at universities in Japan. I then found out that the same thing had happened not just to me, but to the three other faculty members at my university who had been accused of harassment.

The way it works is this: The 窓口 (ombudsman) for harassment complaints (in my case Kumamoto) calls in your students either singularly or in groups, talks about unstated and vague concerns or rumors she’s “heard” about you, tells the students she’s become aware from “other students” that you have been saying or doing inappropriate things in or outside of class, and then pressures your students to file a formal harassment complaint. Note that there does not have to be cause–e.g., no student had ever complained about me, and my student evaluations for that semester averaged a perfect score. More troubling, the specific contents of these complaints are kept confidential, making it very difficult to fight.

Again, I was lucky. My students protected me, and they did so in writing. Four faculty members submitted written statements in my support. I also taped conversations with Ishibashi, with Kumamoto and with Ogawa. Finally, after 26 years, I have an extensive support network inside and outside Japan. I wish all of you reading this similar luck.

That said, even with all my evidence, backing and connections, the best I could achieve was an “armed truce” where I was excluded and isolated but not harmed further. Note that at no time did I request the punishment of anyone–all I wanted was the harassment to stop and to be allowed to do the work they’d hired me to do. IPU refused to investigate–no student witnesses were ever contacted, nor did they speak to the multiple faculty members who’d submitted written statements in my support. They further refused to allow me to work–basically, I was getting paid to sit in my office to do nothing.

While some (including a number of my friends) teased me that this was an ideal position to be in, I wanted to be allowed to do my job. The Labor Board and the union recommended continuing to fight. However, fighting it out in court would have taken years, with the possible payout limited by Japanese law to 3,000,000 yen–or just $30,000 US–with about one third of that going to my attorney. (This, by the way, is what I mean by these laws not having teeth.)

I went out instead and found a tenured position at a university elsewhere. I am currently outside of Japan. The funniest thing is that, in my last conversation with him, Ishibashi assured me that I would never be able to find work again, that he “would see to it.” Maybe I should send him a postcard, signing it “Andy Dufresne”?

Be careful out there. Best, Bern
ENDS
=============================

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

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader JF has this to report:

================

Date: April 5, 2017
From: JF
Re: Close Up Gendai 4/5 – Bad stereotyping
Hi Debito,

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!

When they briefly explained the face recognition system it also picked Japanese faces, but the clip that kept on running in the background only showed the foreigner being selected every single time.
Regards, JF

================

Here’s a link to the program (which even includes the foreign blacklisted person in its signature image:
http://www.nhk.or.jp/gendai/articles/3955/

View the entire program at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zx43rQql6-8

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!  Dr. Debito Arudou

===================

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  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. Dr. Debito Arudou

/////////////////////////////////////////

80% believed fake rumors of crime by foreigners in Japan after quake: poll
March 13, 2017 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170313/p2a/00m/0na/010000c#csidxd470bc93df5ac05aa89c441e75c013e

SENDAI — Fake rumors of rampant crime by foreigners in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami six years ago were believed by over 80 percent of respondents here in a recent survey of people who said they had heard them, it has been learned.

Tohoku Gakuin University professor Kwak Kihwan, who specializes in co-existing society studies, conducted a survey on the rumors in September and October last year. He said the results show that a particular mindset can easily spread in an emergency, and is calling for people to choose their information carefully.

Kwak posted the survey to about 2,100 people of Japanese nationality between the ages of 20 and 69 living in the three Sendai wards of Aoba, Miyagino and Wakabayashi, which suffered extensive damage in the quake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Responses were received from 770 people, or 36.7 percent of the target group.

A total of 51.6 percent of respondents said they had heard rumors of crime by foreigners in the disaster areas. Of these, 86.2 percent responded that they had either “largely” or “somewhat” believed the rumors. When asked what crimes had been rumored, with multiple answers permitted, “looting and theft” took the top spot at 97 percent, followed by “damage to corpses” (24.4 percent), and “rape and assault” (19.1 percent). When asked who they thought had committed the crimes, again with multiple answers permitted, 63 percent said “Chinese,” 24.9 percent said “Koreans,” and 22.7 percent answered “people from Southeast Asia.”

Television footage taken in the wake of the disasters showed Japanese residents cooperating in an orderly fashion.

“It was probably convenient to have rumors that it was foreigners who were committing crimes so as not to conflict with the image that Japanese people act in an orderly way,” Kwak said. He added, “There also may have been people who spread rumors about crimes not out of malice but because they were worried about those around them. You can’t simply dismiss it as exclusivism. It’s a difficult issue.”

To provide a basis for comparison, Kwak conducted a similar survey in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward targeting 700 people, and received responses from 174 of them (a response rate of 24.9 percent). Just 70 respondents said they had heard rumors of crimes by foreigners. Of these, 60 people, or 85.7 percent, said they had believed the rumors — a result similar to that seen in the survey in Sendai.

“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,” Kwak said.

Miyagi Prefectural Police statistics show that of the 3,899 people that police exposed in connection with criminal offenses in the prefecture in 2011, the year of the Great East Japan Earthquake, a total of 57 (1.5 percent), were foreigners either visiting or residing permanently in Japan. The figure dropped to 53 (1.3 percent) in 2012, and rose to 67 (1.9 percent) in 2013 — indicating there was not a great deal of variation.

At the time of the disaster, prefectural police distributed fliers to evacuation shelters warning residents to be on their guard against rumors. Online, police stated that there had been four serious offences between March 12 and 21, 2011, not significantly different from the seven cases recorded during the same period the previous year.

Satoshi Konno of the prefectural police safety department commented, “During disasters, we want people to confirm information provided by news organizations and government organizations and act appropriately.”

False rumors have been seen following major disasters in the past. When the Great Kanto Earthquake struck in 1923, a false rumor that Koreans has been poisoning wells spread. Police and residents formed vigilante groups and Koreans and Chinese were killed in various areas.

Recently false rumors have spread on the internet. In the latest survey, respondents were asked where they had heard the rumors. The top answer, at 68 percent, was “from family members and locals,” followed by “on the internet,” at 42.9 percent.

The prevalence of smartphones following the disaster has provided more opportunities for people to share information through social networking services (SNS) such as Facebook and Twitter. In the wake of the Kumamoto quakes in April last year, police arrested a man on suspicion of fraudulent obstruction of business over a fake photo and tweet indicating that a lion had escaped from Kumamoto City Zoological and Botanical Gardens.

Kwak commented, “With the Kumamoto quakes, we saw fake rumors that had been posted on Twitter being dispelled by other posts. SNS can be effective if not used in the wrong way. Ways of handling the situation should be incorporated into disaster education programs.”

ENDS
Japanese version

震災後のデマ「信じた」8割超す 東北学院大、仙台市民調査
毎日新聞2017年3月13日 東京朝刊
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20170313/ddm/004/040/009000c

東日本大震災から6年。発生後に被災地で流れた「外国人犯罪が横行している」とのデマについて東北学院大の郭基煥教授が仙台市民に調査したところ、8割以上がデマを信じていたとする結果が出た。郭教授は「非常時の特殊な心理は容易に拡散する」と情報を冷静に選択するよう呼びかけている。【高橋昌紀、本橋敦子】

「外国人犯罪」のうわさ
共生社会論を専攻する郭教授は昨年9~10月、仙台市で震災の被害が大きかった青葉、宮城野、若林の3区に住む日本国籍の20~69歳、計2100人を対象に郵送で調査した。770人から回答を得た(回収率36・7%)。

「被災地における外国人による犯罪のうわさを聞いた」と答えた人は51・6%だった。そのうち86・2%が「とても信じた」「やや信じた」と答えた。うわさを聞いた犯罪の種類(複数回答)は「略奪、窃盗」97・0%、「遺体損壊」24・4%、「強姦(ごうかん)、暴行」19・1%だった。「誰がしたと信じたか」(複数回答)を尋ねたところ「中国系」(63・0%)、「朝鮮・韓国系」(24・9%)、「東南アジア系」(22・7%)だった。

震災後、街で整然と行動する人々の様子がテレビで報道された。郭教授は「『日本人は秩序正しく行動する』とのイメージに矛盾しないためにも、『犯罪を犯すのは外国人』とする流言は好都合だったのではないか。また、悪意ではなく周囲の人たちの身の安全を心配して、犯罪が起きているとのうわさを流してしまう人もいたのではないか。単純に排他主義と片付けることはできない。難しい問題だ」と分析する。

情報見極める必要
郭教授は比較のため東京都新宿区の700人にも同様の調査をした。回答者は174人(回収率24・9%)で、外国人犯罪のうわさを聞いた人は70人にとどまったが、そのうちうわさを信じた人は85・7%(60人)と仙台市と同様の傾向が見られた。

郭教授は「震災にデマは付き物だ。それを打ち消すのは容易ではなく、一人一人が判断する能力を身につける必要がある」と呼びかける。

宮城県警の統計によると、大震災が発生した2011年、県内で刑法犯罪で摘発された3899人のうち、来日・永住の外国人は1・5%(57人)。前後の年も10年1・3%(59人)、12年1・3%(53人)、13年は1・9%(67人)と割合に大きな変動はなかった。県警は震災当時、流言への注意を呼びかけるチラシを避難所に配布。ウェブサイトでも「2011年3月12~21日の重要犯罪は4件で、前年同期の7件と比べて多くない」などと呼びかけた。県警生活安全企画課の金野聡課長補佐は「災害のときは報道機関や公的機関などの情報を確認して正しく行動してほしい」と呼びかける。

SNSで拡散、対処法教育を
大きな災害が起きるたびに悪質なデマが広がり、深刻な被害が出ることもある。1923年の関東大震災では「朝鮮人が井戸に毒を投げ込んだ」などのデマが流布された。警察のほか、地元住民による自警団が組織され、各地で朝鮮半島出身者や中国人らへの虐殺事件が起きた。

近年はインターネットによってデマが広がるケースもある。今回の調査でも、うわさの情報源は「家族や地元住民」による口コミの68・0%に続いて、「インターネット」が42・9%だった。さらに震災後にスマートフォンが急速に普及したことで、ツイッターやフェイスブックといったソーシャル・ネットワーキング・サービス(SNS)を通じた発信の機会が増えている。昨年4月の熊本地震では、熊本市動植物園からライオンが逃げ出したとのうその情報と画像をツイッターで投稿した男が、偽計業務妨害容疑で熊本県警に逮捕された。

郭教授は「熊本地震ではツイッターに投稿されたデマを、別の投稿が打ち消す現象がみられた。使い方を間違えなければSNSは有効だ。対処方法を災害教育のプログラムに組み込むべきだ」と提言する。
ENDS


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

mytest

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Hi Blog. 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 in the end 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. Dr. Debito Arudou

///////////////////////////////////////

Bangladeshi asylum seekers tricked into radiation clean-up: media
Reuters India, March 8, 2017, courtesy of JDG
By Minami Funakoshi and Thomas Wilson | TOKYO
http://in.reuters.com/article/us-japan-fukushima-asylumseeker-idINKBN16F0YN

FILE PHOTO – Big black plastic bags containing radiated soil, leaves and debris from the decontamination operation are dumped at a seaside, devastated by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Tomioka town, Fukushima prefecture, near Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant February 22, 2015. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

Two Bangladeshi asylum seekers in Japan cleared up radioactive contamination from one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters on the false promise doing so would win them permission to stay in the country longer, media reported on Wednesday.

The Fukushima nuclear plant suffered multiple meltdowns after being hit by a tsunami triggered by a big earthquake on March 11, 2011. Companies decontaminating areas around the plant, which usually involves removing radioactive top soil, have struggled to find workers willing to do the job.

The two men, who arrived in Japan in 2013 saying they were escaping political persecution, said they were told by brokers and construction companies that their visas would be extended if they did decontamination work, the Chunichi newspaper reported.

“We believed the visa story because they said it’s a job Japanese people don’t want to do,” Chunichi quoted one of the men, Monir Hossain, as saying.

Reuters was not able to reach the two men.

The men did the decontamination work in Iitate village, about 50 km (30 miles) south of the plant, from January to March 2015, Chunichi said.

Japan maintains tight controls on the entry of foreign workers but asylum seekers are allowed to work while their applications are reviewed. Many have permits allowing them to stay and work that have to be renewed every six months.

Mitsushi Uragami, a justice ministry official who oversees refugee recognition, said there were no residence permits on offer for people doing decontamination.

“The length of asylum seekers’ residence permits and them doing decontamination work are unrelated. If anyone is giving inaccurate explanations about this, it’s problematic,” Uragami told Reuters.

The department was investigating the case, he said.

Takuya Nomoto, an environment ministry official overseeing decontamination, said the Chunichi report did not give the names of the companies or labor brokers involved, and as such the ministry was not able to confirm it.

The Fukushima Labour Bureau said this month more than half of the 1,020 companies involved in decontamination violated labor and safety laws last year.

Reuters revealed in 2013 that homeless men were put to work clearing radioactive soil and debris in Fukushima for less than the minimum wage.

Reuters also found the clean-up depended on a little scrutinized network of subcontractors – many of them inexperienced with nuclear work and some with ties to organized crime.

(Reporting by Minami Funakoshi; Editing by Robert Birsel)
ENDS

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

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Thanks to readers for putting this in the Top Ten most-read JT articles for two days in a row!  — Debito

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

STOP NORMALIZING SUMO AS AN ETHNO-SPORT
Foreign coverage of the new Yokozuna Kisenosato is embedding racism
By Debito Arudou
Just Be Cause Column 105 for the Japan Times Community Page
Monday, February 20, 2017

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

I know that by now this is old news (blame press holidays and timely Trump articles), but 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 let’s consider how the event echoed overseas. Here are some headlines from prominent news outlets:

BBC: “Japan gets first sumo champion in 19 years”
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38721106

Washington Post: “After 19 long years, Japan has a grand champion of sumo once again.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/after-19-long-years-japan-has-a-grand-champion-of-sumo-once-more/2017/01/25/

New York Times: “For the first time in years, Japan boasts a sumo grand champion.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/25/world/asia/japan-sumo-champion-kisenosato.html

The Guardian: “Kisenosato becomes Japan’s first homegrown sumo champion in 19 years.”
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/video/2017/jan/25/kisenosato-becomes-japans-first-homegrown-sumo-champion-in-19-years-video

Even our own JT: “Kisenosato becomes first Japanese-born yokozuna in almost two decades.”
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2017/01/25/sumo/kisenosato-becomes-first-japanese-born-yokozuna-almost-two-decades/

Hmm. At least three of those headlines make it seem like Japan hasn’t had a Japanese yokozuna – or any yokozuna – for nearly two decades.

That’s false. We’ve had five yokozuna (Musashimaru, Asashoryu, Hakuho, Harumafuji, and Kakuryu) since 1998.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_yokozuna

Unless they’re referring to the fact that the last four champions have been Mongolian, not Japanese. But that means they don’t count?

Then what about Musashimaru? He’s a naturalized Japanese, and was one (as the Japan Times duly noted) when he became yokozuna in 1999.

So he’s not counted because he’s not a “real” Japanese? Apparently. That’s why the JT and Guardian slipped in qualifiers like “homegrown” and “Japan-born”. As if that matters.

It shouldn’t. Except to racists.

And it matters in Japan because of the embedded racism of the sport…

Read the rest at

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

=====================================

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. 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.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito.

///////////////////////////////////

NATIONAL
Foreign workers in Japan hit the 1 million mark for the first time last autumn: ministry
REUTERS/Japan Times JAN 27, 2017
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/01/27/national/foreign-workers-japan-hit-1-million-mark-first-time-last-autumn-ministry/

The number of foreign workers in Japan surpassed 1 million for the first time last year, as the labor-strapped country struggles to find enough Japanese workers.

Slightly over a million foreigners from countries such as China and Vietnam were working here as of October, labor ministry data showed Friday.

That was up nearly 20 percent from the previous year and a new record for the fourth straight year.

The figures suggest Japan is increasingly turning to overseas workers to plug its labor shortages despite its reluctance to accept them.

The country is facing its worst labor crunch since 1991 amid a shrinking and aging population, which has prompted calls from the International Monetary Fund for it to accept more overseas workers to boost economic growth.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the country should put more Japanese women and the elderly to work first before accepting immigrants, but policymakers are exploring ways to bring in more foreign workers without calling it “immigration.”

In December, the government expanded the scope of a system for accepting trainee workers from developing countries, while also creating a new visa status for nurses and domestic helpers.

It also aims to court highly skilled workers from overseas, such as academic researchers, by easing the path to permanent residency.

The labor shortage is especially severe in the construction sector, where demand has spiked ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and for rebuilding following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

Over 41,000 laborers from abroad powered the construction industry as of last October, up from around 29,000 the previous year.

In November, there were over eight times as many job offers for putting together steel construction frames as there were workers, separate government data showed.

“We have on-site managers through our company, but the people who actually do the work, that’s where we lack skilled labor,” said a manager at a major construction company. “That’s where we have to find the people, and why we are trying to open gates to immigrants.”

Workers from China made up over 30 percent of the foreign labor force, rising 6.9 percent from the previous year.

Vietnamese workers were in second place, accounting for around 16 percent of the total foreign workers but up over 50 percent compared to the previous year.

A Reuters investigation last year showed how asylum seekers, some of whom are banned from working, are working on public works projects amid a shortage of Japanese construction workers.

The trainee system, whose aim is to train foreign workers so they can bring skills back to their home country, is often used by labor-strapped companies to secure workers. The program has been long dogged by cases of labor abuse including illegal overtime and unpaid wages, prompting criticism from Human Rights Watch and the U.S. State Department.

Nearly 20 percent of foreign workers were trainees as of last October, labor ministry data showed, rising by over 25 percent from the previous year.
ENDS

=======================

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

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Hi Blog.  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 apparently teach NJ how to drive all over again.  How presumptuous.  Let’s see what submitter XY has to say:

///////////////////////////////////////////

Date: August 22, 2016
From: XY

Hi Dr. Debito,
I am a long-time reader – and very occasional commenter – on your blog. However, this Obon I encountered a sign at a rental car office at Fukuoka Airport that was hard to ignore. The sign is attached.

The multilingual translations of everything BUT the warning up top [which specifically mentions “foreign tourists driving rental cars” (gaikokujin ryokousha no unten suru renta-ka-)] seem quite disengenuous to me, almost as if the intention of the author was to create a literal honne/tatemae on the page:

Tatemae: we want everyone to be safe on the road so we have put these reminders out for everyone’s good, even our foreign guests.

Honne: beware, there are dangerous foreigners on the roads of Kyushu. We are doing our omotenashi to remind them of the “common sense” of driving as you can see below, but you need to be extra alert because there is only so much we can do to control their foreign ways of driving

Not the best vibe to be giving off exactly 4 years before the Tokyo Olympics if you ask me.

By the way, a very cursory web search brought up this article, which I am pretty sure reports on the same accident that the poster describes:
http://qbiz.jp/sp/article/84684/1/

I cannot read to the end without an account, but my initial thoughts are:

– There are assumptions galore. The article 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.

Cheers, XY

======================

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

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Hi Blog.  I’ve heard that people are worried I’m getting more easygoing in my old age (just turned 52), and that I’m settling for less (cheering on the baby steps) while not spading the spades enough.  Well, in my defense, I’m generally doing more big-picture stuff these days — signs of the times that indicate future trends and policy directions.  But this time, let’s do some Classic Debito, where I’m taking an isolated incident (such as a single article by a journalist lacking in self-awareness) and parse the text to find hidden subtextual meanings.  I’d generally do this for government documents (since they more likely express official attitudes of a committee), but let’s have fun with the article below.  Maybe you will see that I haven’t lost the verve, and that even Bowie could rock well into his fifties.  Here goes.  Article follows, with my comments in nonboldface:

////////////////////////////////////////

NATIONAL
Japan’s shared dwellings are evolving to meet diverse needs of tenants
BY ANNA MASUI, KYODO NEWS/JAPAN TIMES
JAN 17, 2017, courtesy of JDG
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/01/17/national/japans-shared-dwellings-evolving-meet-diverse-needs-tenants/

PHOTO: Residents dine together at a Tokyo share house run by Borderless Japan, which ensures an equal number of Japanese and non-Japanese tenants. | KYODO

The face of share house living is changing in Japan as operators are stepping up efforts to meet a variety of needs among residents.

COMMENT:  From the opening line, we’re set up to see that we’re diversifying qualifications to rent an apartment, which is very welcome given how strict some landlords in Japan can be.  Fine, but… look how it’s contextualized in the very next sentence.

A two-story share house in a residential area in the western Tokyo city of Chofu allows residents to keep pets.

COMMENT:  Oh, pets.  Okay, so this is an article about allowing pets in with the paying humans?  The next paragraphs remain in that groove:

In late November, residents gathered in the 23-sq.-meter living area to share nabe hot pot fare, with their small pet dogs playing around them.

The home costs much less than other share houses for residents with pets, said Natsumi Yamada, 37, who moved there with her dog in March.

Yurina Wakatsuki, 25, began to live in the house in July to “interact with someone else because I used to only commute between my home and company.”

“I now enjoy going to a nearby cafe with my dog,” she said.

COMMENT:  Okay, but wait for the pivot:

The house is owned by House-Zoo, which was founded in 2016. The Tokyo-based company currently operates 12 share houses in the capital and Saitama Prefecture, allowing residents to keep up to two small pets, including dogs, cats, birds and rabbits, each.

COMMENT:  “House-Zoo”, eh?  So we’re talking about inter-species relationships, eh? Go on.

While share houses that permit residents to keep pets usually charge lease deposits equivalent to several months’ rent, House-Zoo demands a deposit of only ¥30,000. Some 70 people have lived in its share houses.

“It is costly to live in cities with pets,” said Muneki Tanaka, president of the company. “Share houses can lower costs and we will continue to provide environments where people can live with animals around them.”

COMMENT:  So far, so good.  About half the article has contextualized Japanese living with their pets.  But suddenly, the pivot:

Borderless Japan Corp. in Tokyo operates share houses where Japanese and foreign nationals live roughly on a 50-50 basis, accepting residents between 18 and 35 years of age.

COMMENT:  Huh?  We’ve gone from living with dogs and other pets to living with foreigners?  (And note the age cap.)

The operation began in 2008 as a spinoff from support services for foreign nationals unable to lease rooms partly due to the absence of guarantors.

COMMENT:  And also partly due to the issue of racist landlords simply unwilling to rent to a foreigner.  Because it’s not illegal to refuse accommodations (or entry in general) to foreigners on the basis of nationality or race in Japan.  According to the Asahi, 42% of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward alone encountered some form of discrimination, and nearly 52% of that was in finding apartments.  Racism, not a lack of guarantor, is generally the first slammed door a newcomer NJ faces.  How nice of this to be glossed over in the article.

The company has 70 “borderless houses” in Tokyo, Saitama, Osaka and Kyoto, having some 5,000 residents. People from the United States, France, Sweden and other Western countries account for a large portion of the residents.

COMMENT:  This should not be news.  “Borderless” houses should be the norm.  The fact that they are not the norm should be one focus of this article.

Despite residents keeping the houses in order by rotating cleaning duties, problems occasionally occur due to differences in living practices and cultures.

COMMENT:  Ah yes, another box checked off on my “Japanese media BINGO card”:  No article or discussion on foreigners in Japan (including even those on business, corporate safety, immigration, and of course garbage sorting) is complete without mentioning intrinsic and allegedly inevitable J/NJ problems due to “cultural differences”.  Not because certain people as individuals are untidy or aren’t used to their mommies not doing their laundry for them…

Ah the joys of dorm life.  Except in many societies, dorm residents don’t put conflicts down to “culture”, and just accept that some individuals are dicks.

Nevertheless, non-Japanese residents said they feel welcome thanks to the presence of Japanese friends, while Japanese welcome opportunities to learn differences in values and to improve their foreign language ability.

COMMENT:  As written that sounds like quite a nice trade off.  NJ get put to work enlightening them about their “differences” and teaching them gaikokugo, while Japanese just honor them with their presence.  Sounds like a better deal for the Japanese resident.

Meanwhile, real estate company Oakhouse manages Social Residence share houses, promoting interaction among residents who offer skills and information in their specialty to other residents through regular events such as cooking lessons.

Oakhouse now owns 17 share houses in Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama, some of which are equipped with studios for yoga, dance and music.

COMMENT:  Sounds like a lot of work just to be a resident.  Remember the age cap of 18-35 mentioned above?  Well, this is clearly not a place where people, especially middle-aged professionals, can just live and be left alone.  Come back home from a hard day’s work, and there’s still more work to be done?

Well, you might say, if you don’t like communal living, then don’t choose to live there.  But remember, Japanese have a lot more choice.  NJ don’t, in Japan.  So it sounds like NJ are being forced to be social in order to live there.  Kinda like camp counselors, in charge of keeping the camp kids entertained, except without the power to set the camp agenda.

“I have come to enjoy communal life through my experience of traveling abroad,” said Ikuya Yoshizawa, 23, who lives in Oakhouse’s residence in Kodaira, Tokyo.

“Events are enjoyable and opportunities to learn what I don’t know are stimulating,” he added. ENDS

COMMENT:  I wonder how a NJ resident feels.  Oh, we didn’t get a quote from them. The only residents who count, by the grace of their presence, are the Japanese who need to be stimulated.  An article written by a J reporter for a J audience, clearly, with NJ being treated as exotic animals being studied in their imported-native habitat.

CONCLUSION:  While I think we can assume that these places are run by well-meaning people just trying to put a roof over people’s heads, this article is written without much self-awareness.  Especially by couching NJ-friendly housing in the context of pet-friendly housing (“House-Zoo” is a dead giveaway), I think we can infer that the subconscious attitude of the reporter is that foreigners are entertainers there for the pleasure of the Japanese residents.  Like a pet cat or a dog.

But that’s, again, indicative of a bigger-picture trend.  Consider all the tokenism found in Japanese companies (especially during the Kokusaika Era, which I experienced first-hand) in 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.

All this, and the reporter ignoring the fact that racist landlords (not the lack of a guarantor) are the primary reason why “no pets, no foreigners” apartments exist.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

=============================

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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!

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Onur, our local watchdog on Japan’s hotel policies towards “foreign guests”, has submitted another report, this time on hotels in Fukuoka.  The last case he submitted exposed how police in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, were deliberately lying about the law to create notices requiring the racial profiling of all “foreigners” at hotel check ins.  Now in Fukuoka the same thing is happening, only worse:  Fukuoka Prefectural Police are creating erroneous signs in the name of local government authorities without the knowledge of those local authorities!

This is odious.  Given the recent Debito.org report about racist check-ins at Sakura Hotel in Jimbocho, Tokyo (done according to the hotel itself “to provide safety for our guests“, whatever that means), and the fact that I uncovered this unlawful practice more than ten years ago in my Japan Times columns (“Creating laws out of thin air,” Zeit Gist, March 8, 2005; “Ministry missive wrecks reception,” ZG, Oct. 18, 2005, and “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry,” JBC, July 6,2010), it seems the problem is nationwide and systemic.  Our police forces continue to enlist the public in their racial profiling of “foreigners” (whether or not they are tourists or residents of Japan), whether or not the law or the local authorities permit them to. (It doesn’t.)

Read on for Onur’s latest.  Well done.   Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

///////////////////////////////////////

Date: Nov. 17, 2016
From: Onur
Hello Dr. Debito,

I am Onur, who sent the poster that Ibaraki Police distributed to the Hotels. I had a similar experience in Fukuoka. I stayed in S.B Hotel Hamanomachi. I saw the attached poster on the reception desk. I asked permission and took a photo it. It clearly says that they ask every foreigner to present his/her passport.

20161030_175006b

However, I just wrote my Japanese address to guest registration form during check-in and the reception did not ask me to show a passport or a card. The check-in was smooth.

Later I stayed in Hotel New Gaea Hakata-Eki Minami. The reception asked my passport. I said I don’t carry it. Then they asked my residence card. I don’t have to show it but I showed my residence card to reassure them. Then the receptionist took my card and went to another room without saying anything. I was shocked. I asked what are you doing? He said he is copying my residence card. I said no. According to the law as I am a foreigner with an address in Japan, no copying is necessary. Then the receptionist was shocked when I said no. He did not say anything and gave my card back to me.

I decided to solve this problem by contacting the people in charge. At the bottom of the poster, it is written “Health Center in Fukuoka Prefecture and Fukuoka Prefectural Police”. Therefore, first, I went to Central Health Center (中央保健所) in Fukuoka City. I talked with the person in charge for the hotels. He was very friendly and helpful. I showed the poster in the first hotel and told the incident in the second hotel. He said that even though the poster says “Health Center in Fukuoka Prefecture” at the bottom of the poster, the poster is not prepared by the health center and he has never seen this poster before. He said the information in the poster is definitely wrong and the poster may have been prepared by the hotel. He said they will contact to those two hotels and warn them.

Then I went to Fukuoka Prefectural Police Headquarters. I showed the poster and asked to talk with the officer in charge. As the prefectural headquarters is very big, it took a long time to find out the officer in charge. Three officers came. They were friendly and willing to solve the problem. First I showed the poster. They accepted that the police printed the poster and distributed to the all hotels in Fukuoka prefecture. I showed the official announcement of the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry at https://www.city.shinjuku.lg.jp/content/000062471.pdf and said that their poster is clearly different. They were very surprised. It seems that they did not know the details of the hotel law and regulations well. They could not understand what is wrong in their poster. I gave a long speech about the law and the guidelines of the ministry. They finally understood the problem and apologized. They said they will check it in detail and fix the poster.

A few days later I got a phone call from the police. They apologized again. They said they will print a new poster, but it may take a long time to replace all the posters in the prefecture. They said they will ask the hotels to check only the residence card without copying it to verify the address, if the foreigner guest says he has an address in Japan. I said it is wrong again. I said “I called the ministry and they told me that there is no need to check the residence card or passport if a foreigner says he is living in Japan and writes the Japanese address to check-in form. Please call the ministry for the details and follow their guidelines exactly”. Later the Central Health Center in Fukuoka called me. They said they talked with those two hotels and also the police headquarters and warned them about following the rules. They said please call us if you experience such a problem again.

In short, if you experience such a problem in a hotel, I think the best way to solve is to contact the local Health Center, which is the local authority over the hotels, and also the police headquarters if they are involved.

Best Regards,
Onur
ENDS

===========

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Nikkei: Japan begins clearing path for foreign workers. Really? Let’s analyze the proposals.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  The Economist (London) recently has had a couple of articles on immigration to and even naturalization into Japan (here and here), so it looks like PM Abe’s alleged pushes to liberalize Japan’s NJ labor market (despite these other countering trends herehere, here, herehereherehere, and here) are gaining traction in the overseas media.  Let’s take a representative sample of the narrative being spun by the Japanese media for overseas consumption (in this case the Nikkei, Japan’s WSJ, which recently published an incorrect article about NJ issues and refused to acknowledge its mistake), and see how it holds up to scrutiny.  Original article text in bold italic, my comments interspliced in this regular text:

///////////////////////////////////////

Japan begins clearing path for foreign workers

Nikkei Asian Review, August 11, 2016, Courtesy of JK
http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Japan-begins-clearing-path-for-foreign-workers

TOKYO — The Japanese government is set to take steps to smooth the way for foreigners to enter and thrive in the domestic labor market, with the reforms targeting hospitalization, taxes and residency requirements.

The economic growth strategy devised by the central government in June highlights the need to aggressively attract foreign talent. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and others are hearing opinions from companies worldwide regarding bringing information technology specialists into Japan.

COMMENT:  This focus on “foreign talent” is basically policy wonk speak for “we’re not importing unskilled labor”.  Even though we are.  And have been doing so through a government-sponsored NJ slave labor program (this is not an exaggeration) for more than a quarter century.  And if we talk about this push for “specialists”, they’ve already tried that with the “Points System” visa regime, and, as we predicted, it failed miserably.  Understandably.  Read on to see why it’s going to fail again.

The trade ministry aims to amend related legislation and tax rules during the regular Diet session in 2017.

English-friendly hospitals

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare seeks to allay concerns among foreigners living in Japan about going to hospitals. Only about 20 hospitals nationwide are equipped to handle emergency cases involving foreigners. The goal is to double that number by March and raise it to 100 before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

COMMENT:  Nice, but up to 100 in four years?  That’s helpful for the tourists coming for the Olympics, but that’s not exactly a huge help for NJ who actually live in Japan, moreover outside of the Kantou conurb (where I anticipate the majority of these hospitals will be situated).  Moreover, 100 hospitals in a country where there are apparently, as of 1990, “8,700 general hospitals, and 1,000 comprehensive hospitals with a total capacity of 1.5 million beds” is minuscule (a little over one percent) and presumably not well spread out.

Given that the problem is not a matter of providing medical treatment in English (if a patient is, for example, unconscious or unresponsive, language is not an issue) but rather hospitals actually ACCEPTING or TREATING NJ patients (a big problem for Japanese patients too), merely ameliorating a language barrier (assuming all NJ speak English, too) is more of a salve than an actual cure of the larger problem.

The government will help cover costs arising from hiring interpreters and offering documents in English. Multilingual versions of questionnaires and hospital signs cost an average of 3 million yen ($29,619), according to estimates, and the government generally will pay half the expense. For medical interpreters and similar services, the state will subsidize a hospital to the tune of roughly 9 million yen.

COMMENT:  Nice, but obviously porkbarrel.

Officials also seek to help foreigners on the tax front. If a foreign worker dies in Japan due to unforeseen circumstances such as an accident, the inheritance tax applies to assets held in all jurisdictions. This discourages foreign talent with sizable assets from taking management positions in Japanese companies. Many are urging reform, and METI intends to coordinate with the Finance Ministry and ruling parties to apply the inheritance tax only to Japanese assets starting in fiscal 2017.

COMMENT:  Yes, that is, if you die and leave Japanese assets valued at more than US $88,000 (and there are ways of getting around this too — gifting it to your kin before you die, for example).  Clearly this is a concession the rich expats hanging around Roppongi Hills have lobbied for.  I doubt that this will affect most NJ residents (and not least the “foreign talent taking management positions in Japanese companies”, wherever they apparently are).

And (microaggression alert:) I love how NJ die of “accidents”, not of old age in Japan.  Because implicitly they are temporary and don’t live in Japan forever, right?  Nice, Nikkei.

Talent search

The government looks to ease residency requirements for guest workers. The Justice Ministry will recognize certified foreign care workers as specialists worthy of the corresponding visa status.

Japan currently admits care workers through economic partnership agreements, but those are limited to countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines. The number of guest workers is expected to increase by allowing care givers who learn Japanese or professional skill sets at educational institutions to work in Japan. Necessary legislation is to be enacted during the extraordinary Diet session this fall, with the measures taking effect next fiscal year.

COMMENT:  Yep, they tried that too before.  Until the Indonesians and Filipinas realized they were being exploited by a revolving-door visa system that deliberately set the bar too high for passing, and decided to pass on Japan altogether. So Japan’s policymakers are moving on to the next exploitable societies:  Cambodia and Vietnam.  Which, note, are also not kanji-literate societies; if the GOJ really wanted to get people to pass the nurse literacy test (full of medical kanji), they would get nurses from China or Chinese-diaspora countries.  The fact that they won’t speaks volumes about their true policy intentions.  As does the next paragraph:

The government also seeks quick passage of legislation to add the care worker category to Japan’s Technical Intern Training Program, which provides support to developing nations.

COMMENT:  Meaning they’re going to bring them in too as “Trainee” slaves exempt from Japan’s labor laws.

Researchers and other highly skilled foreign professionals likely will find it easier to obtain permanent resident status. Currently, a foreign national needs to reside in Japan for five years before gaining that status. Government agencies are debating lowering the bar to less than three years, with a decision expected this year at the earliest. South Korea allows those with PhDs in high-tech fields to apply for permanent residency after a one-year stay.

Japan also aims to cut red tape surrounding investment and establishing new enterprises in order to help foreign corporations do business. Surveys examining barriers to foreign businesses and professionals have begun, and they will inform initial reforms to be decided by year’s end at the soonest. (Nikkei)

COMMENT:  These are proposals are still in the embryonic stage.  When that actually happens, that will be news and we’ll talk about it then.  Reporting on it now is still policy trial-ballooning on the Nikkei’s part.

FINAL COMMENT:  There is nothing here that constitutes actual immigration, i.e., bringing in people and making them into Japanese citizens with equal protection guaranteed under the law.  Until that happens, there is no discussion here worthy of headlining this as a “cleared path” for foreign workers.  It’s merely more of the same exploitation of imported laborers in a weakened position by government design.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

============================

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Asahi: Japan’s Supreme Court approves police surveillance of Muslim residents due to their religion: Next up, surveilling NJ residents due to their extranationality?

mytest

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Hi Blog. Article first, then comment:

//////////////////////////////////////////

It’s OK to snoop on Muslims on basis of religion, rules top court
By RYO TAKANO/ Staff Writer
The Asahi Shinbun, August 2, 2016, courtesy of RD
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201608020076.html

Muslims can still be monitored in Japan solely based on their religion, while in the United States courts are cracking down on granting such approval.

An appeal by 17 Muslim plaintiffs accusing police of snooping on them was dismissed by the Japanese Supreme Court in late May, which upheld lower court decisions.

The plaintiffs argued that “carrying out surveillance of us on grounds of our religion amounts to discrimination and is a violation of the Constitution” in the lawsuit filed against the Tokyo metropolitan and the central government.

Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department had been keeping close tabs on Muslims solely because of their religion, reasoning it was pre-empting possible terrorism.

The tide changed in the United States after the leak in 2013 of global surveillance programs and classified information from the National Security Agency by U.S. computer expert Edward Snowden, said Ben Wizner, attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Snowden, a former CIA employee, revealed that U.S. intelligence agencies had secretly collected personal information and communications from the Internet.

The leak revealed the extent of clandestine surveillance on the public by the government for the first time.

The recent Japanese case came to light in 2010 after 114 articles from internal MPD documents containing personal information on Muslim residents in Japan were leaked online. Data included names, photos, addresses, employers and friends.

The leaked data showed that the documents were compiled in a style of a resume on each individual, along with a record of tailing them.

Compensation of 90 million yen ($874,000) was awarded to the plaintiffs by the Tokyo District Court and the Tokyo High Court, which ruled there was a “flaw in information management.”

However, the plaintiffs appealed because the courts stated “surveillance of Muslims” was “unavoidable” in order to uncover terror plots.

The top court sided with lower court rulings, declaring the surveillance was not unconstitutional. A Moroccan man, one of the 17, said he was upset by the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“I am disappointed with the Japanese judiciary,” said the man in his 40s.

He said he was terrified by the sarin gas attack of 1995 on the Tokyo subway system, which he himself experienced. The attack left 13 people dead and thousands injured.

“Has there been a terror attack by Muslims in Japan?” he said. “Surveillance is a breach of human rights.”

After the 9/11 attacks in the United States in 2001, investigative authorities heightened their surveillance of Muslim communities.

But recent U.S. court rulings have seen the judiciary move against the trend.

Two lawsuits were filed in the state of New York and New Jersey after The Associated Press news agency in 2011 reported on the wide-ranging surveillance of Muslim communities in the two states by the New York Police Department.

Last October, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit handed down a decision in favor of the plaintiffs, sending the lawsuit in New Jersey back to the district court for further proceedings.

New York police reached a settlement with plaintiffs in January, banning investigations solely on the basis of religion.

In 2006, the German Constitutional Court delivered a ruling restricting surveillance.

Masanori Naito, a professor of modern Muslim regions at Doshisha University’s Graduate School in Kyoto, blasted the Supreme Court’s decision as a manifestation of its “sheer ignorance” of Islam.

Although Muslims account for more than 20 percent of the global population of 7.3 billion, only a fraction reside in Japan.

“As a result, Japanese tend to think that all Muslims are violent,” he said. “Conducting surveillance will only stir up a feeling of incredulity among Muslims and backfire. What police should do is to enhance their understanding of Muslim communities and make an effort to gather information.”
ENDS

//////////////////////////////////////

COMMENTS:

MAYes, I remember how it was a Muslim who slashed forty throats in the night last week…no, wait, that was a Japanese lunatic with no religion…I got it, it was a Muslim who attacked people in [Akihabara] with knives…no, not Muslim…OK, it was a Muslim who killed several elementary school children in ….no, hang on, not Muslim…

Debito:  The obvious extension of this legitimization of racial profiling (defined as using a process of differentiation, othering, and subordination to target a people in Japan; it does not have to rely on phenotypical “looks”) is that for “national security reasons” the next step is to target and snoop on all foreign residents in Japan.  Because they might be terrorists.  The National Police Agency et al. have already been justifying the targeting of NJ as terrorists (not to mention as criminals, “illegal overstayers“, holders of “foreign DNA”, and carriers of contagious diseases).  And Japan’s Supreme Court has now effectively given the green light to that too.  The noose further tightens around NJ residents in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

===================

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Telegraph: Tourists in Japan to use fingerprints as ‘currency’ instead of cash; another case of Gaijin as Guinea Pig

mytest

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Hi Blog. First the article, then some commentary:

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Tourists in Japan to use fingerprints as ‘currency’ instead of cash
The system aims to make shopping and checking into hotels more convenient for overseas visitors
The Telegraph, by Danielle Demetriou, Tokyo 11 APRIL 2016 • 9:20AM Courtesy of JK and BB
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/11/tourists-in-japan-to-use-fingerprints-as-currency/

Visitors to Japan may soon be able to forget the hassle of having to change money – with the launch of a new system enabling fingerprints to be used as currency.

The system, which will launch this summer, aims to make shopping and checking into hotels faster and more convenient for overseas visitors, according to the Yomiuri newspaper.

It will involve foreign visitors first registering their details, including fingerprints and credit card information, in airports or other convenient public locations.

The new system will also enable the government to analyse the spending habits and patterns of foreign tourists.

Registered tourists will then be able to buy products, with taxes automatically deducted, from select stores by placing two fingers on a small fingerprint-reading device.

The fingerprint system will also be used as a speedy substitute for presenting passports when checking into hotels, which is currently a legal obligation for overseas tourists, according to reports.

In its first test phase, the project will involve 300 souvenir shops, restaurants, hotels and other establishments frequented by tourists in popular destinations including the mountainous hot spring resort area Hakone and the coastal town Kamakura.

The fingerprint experiment is part of a wider effort by the Japanese government to encourage visitors from overseas to visit the capital in the run up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Officials are hoping to launch the system throughout the country – including Tokyo – by 2020, with as many as 40 million overseas annual visitors expected by that year.

The new system will also enable the government to analyse the spending habits and patterns of foreign tourists, with anonymous data to be managed by a government-led consultative body.

The data obtained from the project will be used to help government officials create effective tourism management policies, according to Yomiuri.

One concern among officials, however, is that some tourists may be reluctant to provide fingerprint information voluntarily due to fears relating to privacy issues.

Fingerprint as payment

Biometrics – using your body to as an alternative to passwords – are on the rise. In February, Mastercard confirmed it would accept selfies and fingerprints instead of account passwords in the UK.

Several mobile wallets already use fingerprints as a way to authenticate payment. Registering debit or credit cards to an Apple Pay-compatible iPhone allows users to make payments or transactions by pressing a thumb or finger to the Touch ID fingerprint scanner in the home button to verify their identity.

Customers can also use it to travel around London’s TfL networks.

Samsung Pay and Android Pay have also started to let consumers pay for things using the fingerprint scanner.

How secure are fingerprints?

In the case of mobile payments, the smartphone maker, such as Apple, does not store your card numbers on the device you’re using for Apple Pay, nor on their servers. Instead, when a card is added, a unique Device Account Number is created and encrypted. This number is stored in a chip within your device called the secure Element.

When you go to make a transaction, the Device Account Number is matched with a dynamic security code unique to that specific payment, which is then processed.

If your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch is lost or stolen, you can suspend Apple Pay remotely or wipe it fully using Find My iPhone.

Fingerprints, like any other security measure, can be spoofed. In fact, researchers have claimed they have hacked a Samsung Galaxy S6 and a Huawei Honor 7 phone by taking a photo of someone’s finger and printing it out with special ink. The other problem is you have only 10 fingerprints – and they can never be changed. [Really? — Ed.]

However it is still considerably more difficult to steal and reproduce a fingerprint than to brute-force guess a password or a pin. Perhaps the most secure approach is to have a two-step authentication system that includes both a password and a fingerprint.

ENDS

////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT:  This article seems a bit too much in thrall to the possibilities of the new technology to pay sufficient attention to the possible abuses of fingerprinting (and no attention to the history of fingerprinting in Japan in particular).  Culturally speaking, fingerprinting in Japan is associated with criminal activity, which is why so many Japanese (and let alone other NJ and Zainichi Korean minorities) are reluctant to have their fingerprints taken (let alone be forced to carry ID) and stored in a leaky government database.  That’s why once again, the Gaijin as Guinea Pig phenomenon is kicking in — where it’s the powerless people in a society who are having government designs for social control being foisted upon them first, before it gets suggested as policy for the rest of the population.

The point is that Japan has long been trying to find ways to track their Gaijin population best (and has managed it with new remotely-trackable RFID-chipped Gaijin Cards).  It is merely expanding upon their reinstitution of border fingerprinting for foreigners only in 2007 that was once seen as a “violation of human rights” barely ten years earlier.  They’ve got all these Gaijin fingerprints from the border.  Why not use them and not only track their whereabouts but also what they do with their money and time?  Once there is enough data for the government to claim, “It’s convenient.  It’s precedented.  It’s safely stored.  And it’s going to make us No. 1 again in something technological,” then watch as public policy switches to suggest it for everyone else in Japan.  Japan’s control-freak bureaucracy will settle for nothing less than as much information and control over its people as possible.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

==============

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GOJ busybodies hard at work alienating: Shinjuku Foreign Residents Manual assumes NJ criminal tendencies; Kyoto public notices “cultivate foreign tourist manners”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Despite all the campaigns to increase foreign tourism and “prepare” Japanese society for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, sometimes Debito.org feels like suggesting people just avoid Japan’s sweaty-headed public-servant busybodies, who spend our tax monies to further alienate NJ residents and tourists from the rest of Japanese society. Check these out:

///////////////////////////////////

March 17, 2016
From: “Concerned Long-Time NJ Resident”
Dear Dr. Arudou,

Here is the full “Shinjuku Foreign Residents” guide available online.

In English: http://www.seisyounen-chian.metro.tokyo.jp/about/pdf/poster-leafret/frm-english.pdf

In case it disappears: ShinjukuForeignResidentManual2016

In Japanese (which was not available at the kuyakusho office, only foreign language versions were there): http://www.seisyounen-chian.metro.tokyo.jp/about/pdf/poster-leafret/frm-japanese.pdf

In case it disappears:ShinjukuForeignResidentManualJ2016

Some screen captures follow.  Here is the cover and back cover:

ShinjukuForeignResidentManual20161

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Note how this is a guide designed to “avoid getting caught up in criminal activity” (yes, hanzai in the original Japanese).  Yet look at the first four pages within.  Find the crimes:

ShinjukuForeignResidents20162

Right.  That age-old canard about foreign residents being mentally incapable of throwing away their garbage correctly.  I can think of plenty of Japanese I’ve seen having the same trouble, only without being accused of “criminal” activity.  And it’s not a crime anyway.  Nor are these activities:

ShinjukuForeignResidents20163

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  I’m quite sure the police will respond.  But not because they received a complaint about the Japanese in my neighborhood I’ve experienced that hoard, are untidy, or are noisy at inopportune times.  Rather, police will respond because they got tipped off by some busybody claiming a foreigner was “suspicious” (grounds for arrest in Japan if you’re suspicious while foreign-looking), which is something this manual can’t caution against.

And how about this one:

ShinjukuForeignResidents20164

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Crikey.  This manual should be distributed to Japanese!  Flagrant rule-breakers on a regular basis there! But Japanese, not foreigners, aren’t assumed to be criminal, because Japan, runs the narrative, is a peaceful, safe, law-abiding society, whereas foreign countries, and their foreigners, by definition, are not, because we Japanese are different and unique and… oh, you get the idea.

Anyway, here’s what submitter “Concerned Long-Time NJ Resident” had to say about this manual:

======================================

This guide still has me angry that this sort of view of “foreigners” is still persisting—maybe even growing—as the Olympics approach; worse, it is being promoted by a government agency. I have been stopped by the Japanese police many times (for no reason other than being “foreign-looking”) and treated like a criminal when I simply pass through the train station, and I’ve seen similar treatment at the station of other “foreigners.” So after those experiences, pamphlets like this that further the view of non-Japanese in Japan as criminal-prone imbeciles really rub me the wrong way. There are plenty of guides for residents of Japan that do NOT take this approach with non-Japanese residents when explaining laws and helpful services that have been translated to other languages.

I have already called and complained to the organization that put this guide out and the kuyakusho office as well. Thank you for giving a voice against such issues when so few in Japan even speak up for the rights of non-Japanese residents (and Japanese too) in Japan. It is greatly appreciated. As for credit, just leave out my name and say it was from “a concerned long-time non-Japanese resident” of Japan. I’m most concerned about the issue rather than any credit, plus I don’t need to be harassed by any rightwing nuts.

======================================

Meanwhile, it’s not just Shinjuku.  The Yomiuri reports on NJ-targeting busybodies elsewhere:

======================================

From:  JK
Date:  May 12, 2016
Hi Debito: This was a new one for me:

Picture signboards to cultivate manners of foreign tourists
The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 11, 2016
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002901542

TokyoMannersSign2016

A signboard set up until early April on a path along the Chidorigafuchi moat in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

With breaches of etiquette by foreign tourists becoming a problem in tourist spots nationwide, local communities are using signboards featuring illustrations, pictograms and manga to inform visitors of how best to behave.

These moves are aimed at helping foreign tourists understand Japanese etiquette and rules, in order to prevent such trouble, but some are concerned that the signs could spoil the scenery at tourist spots.

In three locations that are good for viewing cherry blossoms in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, including the Chidorigafuchi moat, signboards were set up this spring for the first time, urging visitors not to break cherry tree branches. Explanations were written in English, Chinese and Korean with a pictogram of a hand trying to hold a tree branch and a line through it.

According to the Chiyoda City Tourism Association, which set up the signboards, it had received complaints from a large number of nearby local residents and Japanese tourists that foreign tourists were breaking the branches of cherry trees. To inform them in an easy-to-understand way that this is a breach of local mores, the association decided to include the illustration on the warning signboards.

Some signboards explain etiquette using manga. Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, set them up in February in a parking area for large buses near the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine.

Sets of four-frame cartoons warn visitors not to enter the premises to take memorial photos and explain how to use Japanese-style toilets. About 2,000 tourists arrive daily at the parking area. Many of them are with group tours from Asian countries, Europe and the United States.

An official of the ward office expects the signboards to be effective, saying, “We hope visitors will understand the proper etiquette while they’re in the parking area and then go on to enjoy their visit.”

In 2015, the number of foreign tourists to Japan hit a record high of 19.73 million.
The Cabinet Office conducted a survey of 3,000 Japanese nationals nationwide in August last year about the situation involving foreign tourists.

With multiple answers allowed regarding things people are worried about as the number of foreign tourists increases, 26 percent of respondents cited growing trouble due to differences in etiquette, cultures and customs. This figure was the second highest after the 30 percent who mentioned security issues.

Match signs to surroundings

Signboards were set up to avoid such trouble, but the signs themselves have also caused concern.

Kyoto’s Gion district is lined by many ochaya tea houses and ryotei Japanese restaurants, and Gionmachi Minamigawa Chiku Kyogikai, an association of local residents in the southern part of the Gion district, set up wooden signboards about two meters tall at four locations there in December last year.

KyotoMannersSignboard2016

Pictograms and X marks are used instead of letters. They warn against six kinds of prohibited actions, including pulling on the kimono sleeves of maiko and leaning against or sitting on fences.

However, the district is designated by the Kyoto city government as a zone for the maintenance and improvement of historical scenic beauty.

A senior member of the local association said, “We didn’t want to set up the signboards because they impair the scenic beauty, but we could not overlook the breaches of etiquette.”

Seiko Ikeda, a specially assigned professor at St. Agnes’ University, who is studying relations between scenic beauty and signboards in tourist spots, said, “Although I understand the feelings of local residents, I feel uncomfortable about such signboards.”

She added: “Also, in the context of hospitality for foreign tourists, more comprehensive consideration is necessary. For example, such signboards should not bear pictures or designs with aggressive images, and they should harmonize with the surrounding scenery.”

Nobuko Akashi, president of the Japan Manner and Protocol Association, a nonprofit organization that recommends other measures than signboards, said, “Steady efforts are essential, such as thoroughly notifying visitors about etiquette and rules before they come to Japan via information websites for overseas.”

ENDS

============================================

SUBMITTER JK COMMENTS: All these foreigners keep causing meiwaku because they don’t have proper manners or etiquette,  so while we didn’t want to spoil the view, we couldn’t gaman anymore and put up signboards telling them what not to do. Perhaps if we nix the pictures and blend the signboards into the surrounding scenery, the view wouldn’t be so spoilt.

My problem with “helping foreign tourists understand Japanese etiquette and rules” is two-fold.

First, it knows no bounds (e.g. Don’t break the branches, and while you’re at it, don’t pull on the kimono sleeves of maiko or lean against or sit on fences).

Second, it’s decidedly one-sided mindset (e.g. Do the local residents understand why the cherry tree branches are being broken? Is it unintentional or unintentional? Do foreign tourists dislike cherry tree branches?).  Regards, JK

============================================

CONCLUDING WORD FROM DEBITO:  I understand full well the need for cautioning people when tourists, or anyone, are disrespectful towards local sights and environments.  But creating reactionary media that stigmatizes foreigners as if they are natural-born criminals or incorrigible rule-breakers (i.e., naturally unable to follow rules because they are foreigners) is equally disrespectful.  Care must be taken and tact used to avoid belittling guests, not to mention alienating NJ residents, and busybodies who get paranoid about any strangers darkening their doorsteps must not have free rein to overthink countermeasures (for it soon becomes an invitation to xenophobia).

How about the government or these self-appointed local “manner and protocol associations” quietly advising tour agencies to rein in their patrons, and make the rules clear, as Japanese tour agencies do for Japanese abroad?  It worked in the Otaru Onsens Case.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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“Japan’s Under-Researched Visible Minorities: Applying Critical Race Theory to Racialization Dynamics in a Non-White Society”. Journal article in Washington University Global Studies Law Review 14(4) 2015

mytest

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Debito’s latest publication is in in the Washington University Global Studies Law Review (Vol.14, No.4):

Japan’s Under-Researched Visible Minorities: Applying Critical Race Theory to Racialization Dynamics in a Non-White Society
Dr. Debito Arudou
Washington University Global Studies Law Review

Abstract
Critical Race Theory (CRT), an analytical framework grounded in American legal academia, uncovers power relationships between a racialized enfranchised majority and a disenfranchised minority. Although applied primarily to countries and societies with Caucasian majorities to analyze White Privilege this Article applies CRT to Japan, a non-White majority society. After discussing how scholarship on Japan has hitherto ignored a fundamental factor within racialization studies—the effects of skin color on the concept of “Japaneseness”—this Article examines an example of published research on the Post-WWII “konketsuji problem.” This research finds blind spots in the analysis, and re-examines it through CRT to uncover more nuanced power dynamics. This exercise attempts to illustrate the universality of nation-state racialization processes, and advocates the expansion of Whiteness Studies beyond Caucasian-majority societies into worldwide Colorism dynamics in general.

Recommended Citation
Dr. Debito Arudou, Japan’s Under-Researched Visible Minorities: Applying Critical Race Theory to Racialization Dynamics in a Non-White Society, 14 Wash. U. Global Stud. L. Rev. 695 (2015),
http://openscholarship.wustl.edu/law_globalstudies/vol14/iss4/13

==========================

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Reuters: Japan eyes more foreign workers, stealthily challenging immigration taboo

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s an article talking about policy shift towards Japan’s immigration policy in all but name.  It’s still something in the pipeline with policy trial balloons (and the obligatory caution about how foreigners pose a “public safety” risk), so Debito.org is not heralding any sea changes.  Plus the reporters severely undermine the credibility of their article by citing their hairdresser as a source!  Ignore that bad science and let’s focus upon the current debate in stasis.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

////////////////////////////////////////////////

Japan eyes more foreign workers, stealthily challenging immigration taboo
By Linda Sieg and Ami Miyazaki
Reuters, April 25, 2016, Courtesy of MS
https://www.yahoo.com/news/japan-eyes-more-foreign-workers-stealthily-challenging-immigration-032238719–business.html?nhp=1

TOKYO (Reuters) – Desperately seeking an antidote to a rapidly aging population, Japanese policymakers are exploring ways to bring in more foreign workers without calling it an “immigration policy”.

Immigration is a touchy subject in a land where conservatives prize cultural homogeneity and politicians fear losing votes from workers worried about losing jobs.

But a tight labor market and ever-shrinking work force are making Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policy team and lawmakers consider the politically controversial option.

Signaling the shift, leading members of a ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) panel on Tuesday proposed expanding the types of jobs open to foreign workers, and double their numbers from current levels of close to 1 million.

“Domestically, there is a big allergy. As a politician, one must be aware of that,” Takeshi Noda, an adviser to the LDP panel, told Reuters in an interview.

Unlike the United States, where Donald Trump has made immigration an election issue, Japan has little history of immigration. But, that makes ethnic and cultural diversity seem more of a threat in Japan than it may seem elsewhere.

And while Japan is not caught up in the mass migration crisis afflicting Europe, the controversies in other regions do color the way Japanese think about immigration.

LDP lawmakers floated immigration proposals almost a decade ago, but those came to naught. Since then, however, labor shortages have worsened and demographic forecasts have become more dire.

BY ANY OTHER NAME

An economic uptick since Abe took office in December 2012, rebuilding after the 2011 tsunami and a construction boom ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have pushed labor demand to its highest in 24 years.

That has helped boost foreign worker numbers by 40 percent since 2013, with Chinese accounting for more than one-third followed by Vietnamese, Filipinos and Brazilians.

But visa conditions largely barring unskilled workers mean foreigners still make up only about 1.4 percent of the workforce, compared with the 5 percent or more found – according to IMF estimates – in most advanced economies.

So far, measures to attract more foreign workers have focused on easing entry for highly skilled professionals and expanding a “trainee” system that was designed to share technology with developing countries, but which critics say has become a backdoor source of cheap labor.

This time, the LDP panel leaders’ proposal went further, suggesting foreigners be accepted in other sectors facing shortages, such as nursing and farming – initially for five years with visa renewal possible.

They also proposed creating a framework whereby the number of foreign workers would be doubled from around 908,000 currently, and the term “unskilled labor” would be abandoned.

In a sign of the sensitivies, however – especially ahead of a July upper house election – panel chief Yoshio Kimura stressed the proposal should not be misconstrued as an “immigration policy” and said steps were needed to offset any negative impact on jobs and public safety.

After a heated debate in which one lawmaker said the plan would “leave Japan in tatters”, members agreed to let the panel organizers decide whether to make any revisions to the proposal.

Experts, however, say changes are afoot regardless of the semantics.

“The government insists it is not adopting an immigration policy, but whatever the word, faced with a shrinking population, it is changing its former stance and has begun to move toward a real immigration policy,” said Hidenori Sakanaka, a former Tokyo Immigration Bureau chief.

Two cabinet members have already advocated adopting an immigration policy, as have some LDP panel members.

“The fundamental problem of the Japanese economy is that the potential growth rate is low,” LDP panel adviser Seiichiro Murakami told Reuters. “To raise that, big structural reforms including … immigration policy are necessary.”

The influential Nikkei Business weekly has dubbed a foreign worker-driven growth strategy “imin-omics”, a pun on the premier’s “Abenomics” revival plan and “imin”, the Japanese word for “immigrants”.

Abe, however, has made drawing more women and elderly into the work force while boosting the birth rate priorities, and publicly the government rules out any “immigration policy”.

Still, Abe’s right-hand man, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said debate on more foreign workers lay ahead.

“We are seeking to mobilize the power of women and the elderly as much as possible, but at the same time we recognize that the acceptance of foreigners is a major issue,” Suga told Reuters.

He said the future debate would also consider the longer term issue of permanent residence for less skilled foreigners, but added caution was needed.

Conservatives are likely to resist major change.

For example, an ex-labor minister commenting at the LDP panel earlier on a proposal to let in foreign beauticians said the idea was fine, as long as their customers were foreign, too.

But hairdresser Mitsuo Igarashi, who has four barber chairs in his downtown Tokyo barbershop but only himself to clip and shave, wants to hire other barbers and doesn’t care where they come from. “We’ve got to let in more foreigners,” said Igarashi.
ENDS

=====================================

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Reuters: Death toll mounts in Japanese Detention Centers (aka “Gaijin Tanks”) as NJ seek asylum and are indefinitely detained and drugged

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s another one of Reuters’ in-depth reports (I say “another” because they did an excellent on Japan’s “Trainee” Visa system as “sweatshops in disguise” back in 2014) on Japan’s deadly Detention Centers, aka Gaijin Tanks, where people wait indefinitely for refugee status or deportation (and, according to Amnesty International, are subjected to extortion and physical abuse, because Gaijin Tanks are not officially “prisons”, and are not subject to the same incarceration oversight that actual Japanese prisons get).  So what happens?  People die.  Reuters below has done some investigative journalism that more news agencies should be doing.  Be sure to visit the link to the Reuters site as well in order to see some good stats in graphic form, not to mention related articles.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

//////////////////////////////////////////

Death in Detention
Grim toll mounts in Japanese detention centers as foreigners seek asylum
By Thomas Wilson, Mari Saito, Minami Funakoshi and Ami Miyazaki

Reuters, Filed March 8, 2016, 2:45 p.m. GMT  Courtesy of JH.

http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/japan-detention/
Photo Caption:  Niculas Fernando was in Tokyo to see his son and sit out potentially violent elections at home. The Sri Lankan’s death, in a cell monitored around the clock, reveals fatal flaws in a system stretched by record numbers of asylum seekers.

日本語版 (Read in Japanese)

TOKYO – Niculas Fernando died at a Tokyo immigration detention center sometime between 9:33 a.m. and 10:44 a.m. on November 22, 2014, according to the coroner.

But it wasn’t until shortly after 1 p.m. that day that guards realized something was badly wrong – even though Fernando had been moved to an observation cell monitored via closed-circuit television after complaining of sharp chest pain.

An inmate had to alert the guards before they rushed into Fernando’s cell and tried to revive him. They found him lying face down on a mattress stained with his urine. He was lifeless.

A devout Catholic from Sri Lanka, Fernando had come to visit his son, who lives in a Tokyo suburb where he works in a restaurant kitchen. He was the fourth person to die in Japan’s immigration detention system in 13 months. In total, 12 people have died in immigration detention since 2006, including four suicides. In 2015, 14 detainees tried to kill or harm themselves at the detention center where Fernando died, according to data from the facility.

A Reuters investigation into the circumstances surrounding Fernando’s death, including dozens of interviews with detainees, immigration officials and doctors, revealed serious deficiencies in the medical treatment and monitoring of Japan’s immigration detention centers. Guards with scant medical training make critical decisions about detainees’ health. Doctors visit some of the country’s main detention centers as infrequently as twice a week. And on weekends there are no medical professionals on duty at any of the immigration detention facilities, which held more than 13,600 people in 2014.

RELATED CONTENT

Slideshow: Inside Japan’s immigration lock-up

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Foreign workers power Subaru’s U.S. boom

Three of the four deaths in detention between October 2013 and November 2014, including Fernando’s, occurred when there were no doctors on duty. Like Fernando, another one of the detainees died while in an observation cell.

Japan’s immigration system is under increasing strain. As a torrent of refugees pours into Europe, Japan also has record numbers of people landing on its shores in search of refuge. As of June last year, it had 10,830 asylum applications under review – small by Europe’s standards, but a new high for Japan, a nation that has long been reluctant to take in outsiders.

In February, more than 40 detainees went on hunger strike at a facility in Osaka to protest their conditions [As they did in 2010, to little change — Ed.]. Their main complaint: Poor medical care.

The system’s oversight, too, is limited. Members of the watchdog body tasked with monitoring Japan’s 17 detention centers are appointed by the justice minister, who oversees the detention system. The findings of the watchdog are edited by the Justice Ministry before being made public, and the ministry has failed to act on repeated recommendations for improving medical care, say its members.

“I wanted to shout at them when I heard that guards left him alone for such a long time,” said Tooru Tsunoda, a doctor and vice chairman of the watchdog body that monitors the center where Fernando died. A report by the oversight group said guards “misjudged the seriousness” of Fernando’s condition. By not sending him to hospital immediately, the report found, they “missed opportunities to avoid his death.”

Report by immigration detention watchdog body on Niculas Fernando’s death
Justice Minister Mitsuhide Iwaki said the reports he received showed that in all four deaths, “appropriate medical steps” had been taken. “I do not acknowledge there were problems in the responses or the medical care provided.”

Fernando, who ran a travel agency back in Sri Lanka specializing in pilgrimages, hadn’t seen his son George for eight months when he reached Japan. Before he left home, he visited the many churches in his coastal hometown of Chilaw and “prayed for 24 hours,” said his wife, Magret.

A framed picture of Fernando sits on a table in the home where he and Magret lived from the time they wed in 1983. They had fallen in love and married within a month, even though Fernando’s family had initially opposed the union because Magret was nine years his elder.

The day before he died, Fernando called Magret from a payphone for inmates in the detention center. “He was not ill,” she said.

Sitting on a sofa and weeping quietly, she recalled Fernando’s last words before boarding the plane for Japan: “I’ll come back. Look after the children.”

He never returned. In fact, Fernando never made it through immigration at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

George and his wife waited in the arrival hall for Fernando after his plane landed at around 11 p.m. on Nov. 12. At 2 a.m. they learned Fernando had been detained by immigration officials who did not believe he was a genuine tourist.

“We would have loved to hear our father’s voice, but they didn’t give him the chance to talk to us,” said George, 27, speaking in Sinhalese through an interpreter at his apartment.

Two days later, George got to see his father. They met in a small room at Haneda Airport, separated by a glass partition.

“We couldn’t touch or hug,” said George.

George and his two brothers portray their father as a devoted family man who prayed daily, never drank and often took his family with him on work trips around Sri Lanka and India.

“He’d pray for at least an hour every morning, bowing down,” said his eldest son, Jerad, standing outside the home of a relative in a village near Chilaw. “His knees were black from the marks made from praying.”

One family photo shows Fernando playing a guitar as Catholic pilgrims dance behind him during a 2012 tour of churches in the north of Sri Lanka. George recalls his father joining a peace mission to a Tamil Tiger-controlled area in the late 1990s led by Bishop Malcolm Ranjith during Sri Lanka’s civil war.

Fernando “voluntarily joined our group and went as part of our pilgrimage,” Ranjith, who is now archbishop of Colombo, told Reuters. He described Fernando as “a very pious person.”

Fernando also was active in one of Sri Lanka’s main political parties, and that background may be key to understanding a surprising decision he made during his detention – to ask for asylum.

George said his father was a supporter of the United National Party (UNP), which now heads the ruling coalition in Sri Lanka, and had been the target of political violence in the past. With speculation growing that national elections were imminent, Fernando timed his visit to Japan so he could sit out the vote and escape any potential violence, George said.

But facing deportation after his arrest at Haneda Airport, Fernando decided to seek asylum, which would have allowed him to stay in Japan while his request was processed. He was going to return home once any election-related violence had subsided, his son said.

Elections in Sri Lanka were formally announced on Nov. 20. Fernando died two days later, before he could file the asylum papers, George said.

George and his Sri Lankan wife have been seeking asylum themselves in Japan for almost two years. A copy of his application says George faced death threats from political rivals when he worked for the UNP, which was in opposition at the time he sought asylum.

Asylum applications have jumped more than six-fold since Japan altered its immigration rules in 2010. The change allowed asylum seekers to obtain six-month renewable work permits while their applications are reviewed. But Japan is sparing when it comes to granting asylum: Only 27 people were approved in 2015.

The rule change, combined with Japan’s chronic labor shortage and strict immigration policy, has spawned a system of backdoor immigration, as Reuters illustrated last year in an article detailing Subaru’s heavy reliance on asylum seekers who toil in the factories that supply it with car parts.

Five days after arriving, Fernando was transported from a lock-up at the airport to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, a tower block overlooking the docks and a waste-incineration plant. A one-stop shop for visa renewals, asylum interviews and deportation orders, the complex also serves as a detention center for up to 800 people.

Fernando was placed in a cell in G-Block with two other detainees, from China and Peru. Fellow detainees described him as a serious man obsessed with cleanliness.

On the Saturday morning Fernando died, James Burke, a Canadian in the adjacent cell, was awakened by the Sri Lankan’s cries. It was around 7 a.m. Noise travels easily on the block and Fernando was in obvious pain, Burke said. “He was moaning and moaning and moaning.”

Fernando’s Peruvian cellmate called the guards and told them the Sri Lankan wanted to go to the hospital because his chest was hurting. The guards refused, saying the hospitals were closed on Saturdays, according to Burke and two other detainees who witnessed the events and asked not to be named.

At least two hospitals within a few miles of the detention center are open around the clock on weekends, including Saiseikai Central Hospital, where Fernando’s body would be taken later that day. Naoaki Torisu, a senior Justice Ministry official who oversees immigration detention, declined to comment on what specifically the guards told Fernando.

“His symptoms didn’t seem that serious,” Torisu said. “If his condition had worsened, we would have called an ambulance or taken him to hospital without hesitation.”

At 7:30 a.m., guards measured Fernando’s pulse and blood pressure, according to an internal report by the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau that was reviewed by Reuters. They found no abnormality, Torisu said.

But Fernando soon called for the guards again, this time more loudly. “He’s in real discomfort,” recalled Burke, who was being held at the time for overstaying his visa and is now on provisional release from immigration detention. “He was begging them, ‘I’m a Christian and I wouldn’t lie. I need to go to hospital or I’m going to die.’”

Just before 8 a.m., guards led Fernando to a room to check his condition. A report by the national Immigration Bureau, which is part of the Justice Ministry, said the guards “could not grasp the seriousness” of the situation because another Sri Lankan detainee who was acting as an interpreter did not translate Fernando’s words accurately. But the Justice Ministry’s Torisu told Reuters the guards did understand what Fernando was saying.

When the Sri Lankan returned to his cell a short while later, he looked relieved, said Burke. He gathered his Bible and clothes. “You could see it in his face – he was getting his stuff, thinking he would get help.”

But Fernando wasn’t taken to hospital. At 8:16 a.m., guards moved him to an observation cell fitted with closed-circuit television for around-the-clock surveillance of detainees who are ill, unruly or have tried to harm themselves.

Around 9 a.m. Fernando again called the guards from the cell. They told him to wait until the morning roll call was over, said Burke and two other detainees.

At 9:22 a.m., Fernando washed his hands and appeared to vomit. He then lay face down on a futon, according to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau report on his death. At 9:33 a.m., he stopped moving.

A few minutes later, a guard brought a television to Fernando’s cell. He called out but Fernando didn’t respond. Thinking the Sri Lankan was asleep, the guard didn’t check to see if he was all right, the report said. For the same reason, guards did not check Fernando for the next several hours.

Immediately after cell doors opened at 1 p.m. to allow detainees out for the afternoon break, the Sri Lankan who had interpreted for Fernando hurried to the observation cell. Fernando’s breakfast – the standard white bread, jam and boiled egg – lay untouched. Fernando wasn’t moving. His body was cold.

Alerted by the detainees, guards rushed into the observation cell. It was 1:03 p.m. – three and a half hours since Fernando had last shown any signs of life.

A guard performed CPR on Fernando, but it was too late.

An ambulance was called and his body was carried out of G-Block on a stretcher, his face uncovered, two detainees said. Two hours later, he was pronounced dead. He was 57 years old.

Koichi Uemura, a coroner asked by the national Immigration Bureau to write an in-depth autopsy report on Fernando’s death, told Reuters he was allowed to view the video footage of the Sri Lankan in the observation cell. He said it was possible to tell from the images that Fernando was struggling and moaning before he lay down in the cell.

Uemura said he was asked to compile a report after the Immigration Bureau had investigated Fernando’s death and found that “there was quite a high possibility that (the detention center) did not provide adequate medical care, and that his illness got worse because he was left unattended.” A doctor at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University who performs autopsies for the police and courts, Uemura stopped short of saying that Fernando’s death could have been avoided if guards had taken him to hospital.

The Justice Ministry rejected a public disclosure request by Reuters to view the video footage of the observation cell, citing privacy reasons.

Since 2010, the Immigration Detention Facilities Visiting Committee – the watchdog body – has repeatedly called for improvements to medical care at detention facilities. Six current and former members of the 20-person oversight body told Reuters that key recommendations have not been implemented.

Inmates voice a similar grievance. In two handwritten letters, the hunger strikers at the detention center in Osaka complained about limited access to doctors and said guards without medical training were making judgment calls about the health of detainees.

Their protest didn’t impress the authorities. Tomohisa Takayama, a spokesman for the Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau, said there was no “rational reason” for the complaints, and that the hunger strike ended after five days.

In May, a former member of the watchdog wrote to then-Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa calling for full-time doctors at detention facilities, better monitoring of detainees who are unwell and improved psychiatric care.

But the watchdog lacks teeth. It doesn’t perform surprise inspections. Its visits to detention centers are pre-arranged, and its members are escorted by immigration officials.

There has been little change since the deaths. Guards have been given “fresh instructions to call ambulances” in situations where they are having trouble “making judgments,” said the Justice Ministry’s Torisu. And two guards are being trained as assistant nurses in the entire detention system, which on Nov. 1 last year was holding 1,070 inmates.

It is “probably insufficient” that there are no doctors on duty at weekends, but that doesn’t mean medical care is lax, said Torisu.

On Nov. 22, the day Fernando died, George got a call from a family friend. “He asked me to calm down, to sit down,” George recalled, his eyes filling with tears. “He told us my father had passed away… I asked God why he took my father.”

The next day, George tracked Fernando’s body to a police station near the detention center. Officers there tried to stop him from opening the white body bag that contained his father’s body.

OBSCURED: Large sections of an official report on Niculas Fernando’s death that was released to Reuters were redacted. Click here to view the report. Source: Justice Ministry, Japan

“But I opened the bag,” he said. “I asked them if they were investigating my father’s death. They said they were, and when they had the report they’d tell me.”

George has never received any of the reports on his father’s death. On Dec. 19, almost a month after he lost his father, George received the death certificate. It didn’t contain the answer he’d been seeking: Cause “unknown,” it said.

That same day, Fernando was cremated about three miles from the detention center where he died. His family had hoped for a Catholic burial in Chilaw, but could not afford to fly his body home. His third son, Jude, who traveled to Japan for the funeral, is also now seeking asylum.

It would be another three months before Fernando’s family learned from Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry that he had died of a heart attack.

“I can’t believe that I lost my father,” said George. “Japan’s immigration authorities must take responsibility for my father’s death.”

The Justice Ministry has not made public the findings of the investigation into the case nor released them to Fernando’s family.

In response to a public disclosure request, Reuters received a copy of the national Immigration Bureau’s report from March last year. It was heavily redacted. Under a section titled “Problems,” every line had been blacked out.

===================================

SUB-ARTICLE

Death, drugs and detention

By Minami Funakoshi, Thomas Wilson, Ami Miyazaki and Mari Saito
In the 13 months before Niculas Fernando died in a Japanese immigration detention center in 2014, three other men suffered the same fate.

• Anwar Hussin, 57, a Rohingya from Myanmar, died on Oct. 14, 2013, after suffering a stroke while being held at the same detention center as Fernando.

• Saeid Ghadimi, a 33-year-old Iranian, choked on food and died on March 29, 2014, at the East Japan Immigration Center in Ibaraki prefecture, a sprawling complex set among rice paddies northeast of Tokyo.

• Flaubert Lea Wandji, a 43-year-old Cameroonian, died at the same center the next day, most likely due to acute heart failure.

The names of Ghadimi and Wandji, and many of the details of their deaths, have not been previously reported.

Like Fernando, Wandji died after being moved to an observation cell so his condition could be monitored. But the guards failed to grasp the need to take Wandji to hospital, the watchdog committee that monitors Japan’s detention centers said in a report last March to the national Immigration Bureau, which is part of the Justice Ministry. The report was reviewed by Reuters.

NO PROBLEMS: Justice Minister Mitsuhide Iwaki said ‘appropriate medical steps’ were taken in the case of all four men who died in immigration detention in the space of 13 months. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Files

The watchdog report drew attention to what it said was the heavy prescription of drugs to detainees. At the time he died, Ghadimi had been prescribed 15 different drugs, including four painkillers, five sedatives – one a Japanese version of the tranquilizer Xanax – and two kinds of sleeping pills, the report said. At one point during his incarceration, he was on a cocktail of 25 different pills.

“It is not an exaggeration to say he was in a so-called ‘drugged-up state,’” Teruichi Shimomitsu, a doctor and retired member of the watchdog body, wrote in a letter last May to then-Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa.

Naoaki Torisu, a senior Justice Ministry official responsible for overseeing immigration detention centers, said parts of the committee’s report were “unclear.”

“Detainees take pills prescribed according to their medical needs,” he told Reuters. “I cannot grasp the exact intent behind the committee’s statement.”

Two psychiatrists cited in a November 2014 national Immigration Bureau report said the Iranian’s medications did not cause him to choke.

The prescription of sedatives and antidepressants is common in Japan’s detention centers, say doctors and detainees. Some inmates told Reuters they were given sedatives after arguing with guards or other detainees. Others said they became dependent on the drugs as they faced indefinite detention.

Checks are needed to ensure doctors do not prescribe “massive amounts” of sedatives to keep “rebellious” detainees quiet, Shimomitsu wrote in his letter to then-Justice Minister Kamikawa.

The Justice Ministry’s Torisu disputed that sedatives were used to pacify troublesome detainees. “Psychiatrists prescribe them because they are deemed medically necessary,” he said.

—————

ENDS

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Kyodo: Kyoto taxis specializing in foreign tourists begin one-year trial. Separate taxi stands? What’s next: separate hotels?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s something that feels more problematic the more I think about it:  “Foreigner-friendly” taxicabs being introduced in Kyoto.  As noted below, they are government-sponsored vehicles with multilingual drivers and more space for tourist luggage.  Sounds good so far.  Until you get to the fact that they have a separate alighting point at one station in Kyoto.  Already, we are getting into shades of “separate but equal” (as opposed to equal and undifferentiated), which we are seeing in a number of venues dealing with foreign tourism (for example, here).

While I applaud the effort to improve service, it doesn’t resolve the root problem (mentioned within the Kyodo article below) — that taxi cabs are refusing NJ passengers.  So instead of going after miscreant taxis, they’re creating a separate taxi system to equalize things.  Except that it won’t.  Think about it.  Now we’ll have busybody train station ojisan waving  “foreign-looking” people over to the foreign taxi stand even when they’re not tourists.  Or we’ll have people being told that they have to go to that solitary Kyoto Station stand, regardless of where they are, if they want to get a “foreigner-friendly” cab.  And, with the law of unintended consequences, we’ll have even more taxi drivers refusing to pick up foreign-looking people — after all, their logic will go, “There’s already a taxi designated for them, so I don’t have to bother picking them up — they can wait for one.”  As if foreign-friendly taxis could ever have the same coverage as regular taxis.  See, “separate but equal” essentially never works because, as history demonstrates, it’s too hard to achieve.

If they really want to improve service, have the city assign somebody “foreign-looking” to hail taxis in Kyoto, and have him or her officially report misbehaving taxis to the Kyoto Tourist Agency (there is one, and I’ve done this very thing for at least one exclusionary Kyoto hotel; there were repercussions).  And tell those taxis (like restaurants hear that they’re being reviewed by reviewers posing as regular customers) that there will be person(s) posing as an evaluator so you better not avoid picking up customers.  Monitoring for consumer quality is quite normal, and if Japan is serious about omotenashi, it had better avoid making historical mistakes.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

(Further comment by submitter JDG here.)

///////////////////////////////////////

Kyoto taxis specializing in foreign tourists begin one-year trial
KYODO/JAPAN TIMES MAR 1, 2016, Courtesy of JDG
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/01/national/kyoto-taxis-specializing-foreign-tourists-begin-one-year-trial/

KYOTO – A one-year trial run for taxis aimed at non-Japanese tourists started Tuesday in the city of Kyoto, the first such service in Japan aimed at enhancing the experience for overseas visitors.

The “foreigner-friendly taxis” accept credit cards, have space for two large suitcases and drivers who are able to communicate in a variety of languages such as English and Chinese, project officials said.

The trial is being jointly organized by the city, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and other bodies.

A taxi stand for the cabs has been set up in front of JR Kyoto Station in Shimogyo Ward. A total of 69 taxis and 87 drivers from 23 cab operators will operate the service through next March.

According to city officials, some taxi drivers have tended to refuse to pick up foreign tourists because of communication difficulties, and the new project is aimed at resolving this.

A ceremony to mark the start of the service was held Tuesday in front of the taxi stand.

Mireia Daroca, a 30-year-old language teacher from Spain who lives in the city, said she has sometimes been asked by drivers in the past to write down her destination in Japanese, but with this service that will not be necessary.

ENDS

Nagoya anonymous neighborhood poster warning of crime that “may have been committed by foreigners”: vigilantism that should be officially discouraged, but no.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  The people screaming “foreign crime” are at it again.  This time, it’s a danchi in Nagoya, and instead of the police being credited, it’s anonymous vigilantes.  Read on.  Courtesy of SM and PC:

ForeignCrimeJapan

Comment from submitters:

“This notification was in my mailbox this morning… It says that there were a number of burglaries in my neighborhood the other day & it is believed that the criminal is a foreigner and to be careful about taking precautions…

“My first thought: how do they know it was a foreigner?!? My second thought was: what kind of message does this give to the children who live here?

“Is it only me that thinks this smacks of discrimination?”

The flyer reads (translation by Debito):

============================================

!!URGENT MESSAGE!!

!BREAK-INS WHEN YOU’RE NOT HOME! (akisuu)

!!BE ON CLOSE GUARD!!

Today (January 29, 2016), there were several break-ins at our apartment complex.

It is thought that the culprits were foreigners, and there is a danger of them returning to commit more crimes.

Anti-crime measures by each family are a matter of course, but it is also very important for residents to watch out for each other and ask around.

Be on guard at all times.

============================================

COMMENT:  I’m not sure which is worse:  The thefts themselves, the anonymous warning, or the accusation that foreigners are behind it.  Especially given that theft is the most common crime in Japan by far and it is almost always committed by Japanese.  Again, these sorts of vigilante moves without anyone taking responsibility for spreading rumors are precisely what stir up passions and target people (sometimes with fatal consequences).  This should be discouraged by the authorities, but unfortunately it isn’t.  In fact, it’s precisely the same tactics the Japanese police use (see Arudou “Embedded Racism” Ch. 7).  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

ALTs (“outsourced” English teachers) earning slave wages (or less) working for Japanese public schools (plus an aside on odd Japan Times editorial bias)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  This post deals with Government-sponsored slave wages (or worse) for NJ educators within the Japanese public school system through the cost-cutting “Assistant Language Teachers” (ALTs) “outsourcing” system–a backdoor way for local governments to get cheaper JETs than having to go through the national government’s JET Programme (where wages and work conditions are more fixed at a higher standard).  The cost-cutting for the ALTs has gotten to the point (inevitably) where the ALTs are no longer being paid a living wage.  Here’s the math, courtesy of the Fukuoka General Union:


Courtesy of Fukuoka General Union and Chris Flynn
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G95K0vjB3A
Caption: Uploaded on Feb 10, 2016
This is an actual example on how impossible it is to live on the salary of a dispatched ALT working at a Kitakyushu City Board of Education public school. Though they are full time teachers they only have 1000 yen a day to spend on food and nothing else. They just can’t survive on this low wage.
北九州市の市立中学校で働く派遣の語学指導助手の給料の実態。可処分収入は月3万円、­それはすべて食費に使うと1日1000円ぐらい。フルタイムの先生なのに貧困層。現実­です。

/////////////////////////////////////////////////

As further background to the ALT issue, here is a Japan Times Letter to the Editor by Chris Clancy:

Purging the nation of racism
The Japan Times JAN 30, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2016/01/30/reader-mail/purging-nation-racism/

Chulbom Lee, in his Letter to the Editor in the Jan. 17 issue titled “Move forward by protecting foreign residents,” reminds readers that not even two years ago the U.N. Committee of Racial Discrimination called on Japan to take action against incidents of racism that continue to plague the country. Lee insinuates that increased legal protection against harassment or job discrimination for Japan’s foreign residents would prove the nation is not still steeped in past militaristic nationalism.

One could make a case for the continuing plight of the assistant language teacher (ALT). Team teaching in which ALTs assist Japanese teachers of English (JTE) in classrooms for the betterment of students’ communicative abilities was introduced in Japan some 30 years ago. The progress that has been made over that time — however minimal — is a direct result of the individual efforts of countless foreign ALTs. How is this success rewarded? Those ALTs fortunate enough to be either participants of the Japan Exchange Programme (JET) or directly hired by educational offices earn similar standards of remuneration and remain employed under virtually the same limited term contract stipulations as their predecessors. Those staffed by outside agencies contracted by the education offices are even worse off. The government has in effect created a transient population of anonymous, expendable individuals that reeks of slavery.

The fact that ALTs are all non-Japanese makes the discriminatory practice racial. Any governmental administer who fails to take this matter seriously — ignoring the issue altogether or claiming budgetary constraints as a reason improvements cannot be made — is guilty of perpetuating racial discrimination. How is this crime punished? Bonuses twice a year and annual salary increases for perpetrators.

Time is past due for Japanese government at all levels to take a stand for tax-paying foreign nationals! We can only hope that such monkey business will not last too far into the new year.

CHRIS CLANCY
NAGANO
////////////////////////////////////////////////////

As an interesting aside, Chris Clancy kindly sent me the original letter he submitted to the editor.  Note what it originally sourced:

////////////////////////////////////////////////////
ORIGINAL TEXT FOLLOWS, COURTESY OF CHRIS CLANCY:

Arudou Debito gives a fair assessment of the good, the bad and impeded progress regarding human rights issues in Japan in his most recent “Just Be Cause” column (“Battles over history, the media and the message scar 2015,” January 3). One issue he could also have included is the continuing plight of the Assistant Language Teacher (ALT).

Team teaching in which ALTs assist Japanese teachers of English (JTE) in classrooms for the betterment of students’ communicative abilities was introduced in Japan some 30 years ago. The progress that has been made over that time — however minimal – is a direct result of the individual efforts of countless foreign ALTs. How is this success rewarded? Those ALTs fortunate enough to be either participants of the Japan Exchange Programme (JET) or directly hired by educational offices earn similar standards of remuneration and remain employed under virtually the same limited term contract stipulations as their predecessors. Those staffed by outside agencies contracted by the education offices are even worse off. The government has in effect created a transient population of anonymous, expendable individuals that reeks of slavery.

Arudou-san points out that Japan did sign the United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination in December 1995, but the fact that ALTs are all non-Japanese makes the discriminatory practice racial. Any governmental administer who fails to take this matter seriously – ignoring the issue altogether or claiming budgetary constraints as a reason improvements cannot be made – is guilty of perpetuating racial discrimination. How is this crime punished? Bonuses twice a year and annual salary increases for perpetrators.

We can only hope that such monkey business will not continue too far into the new year. Perhaps improved conditions for foreign educators will be one of the positive stories in Arudou-san’s top 10 for 2016.

Chris Clancy, MSEd (educator, USA)
////////////////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT:  Receiving no response, and wanting to make sure that this issue got the exposure it deserved, Chris submitted two more versions of this letter to the JT editors (I reproduce the one above with his permission).  Editors took the one that avoided sourcing my article.

So it’s interesting how certain elements within the Japan Times are that unfriendly. Not only do they sometimes not put up links to my columns on the Japan Times Facebook feed when they come out (is avoiding increasing their readership something they’re professionally entitled to do?), they’ve also refused to review my book “Embedded Racism“, claiming that they don’t review individual monographs anymore. Except when they’re 20-year-old monographs by Alex Kerr (last January). Or “Essential Reading for Japanophiles” [sic].  Odd bias, that. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

O’Day in APJ: Japan Focus: “Differentiating SEALDs from Freeters, and Precariats: the politics of youth movements in contemporary Japan”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Since the SEALDs activism topic has inspired much discussion on Debito.org, let’s look at them (and other youth protesters in Japan) from another angle, where an academic colleague argues that the group is by design demonstrating without full devotion to the cause.

This article came out before SEALDs announced that it was disbanding, so I wonder if partial devotion means killing off the group without transitioning to new leadership to preserve the credibility of the hard-won brand.  (No mention either of allegations of parochialism and bullying towards NJ.)  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

///////////////////////////////////////////

From Robin O’Day, “Differentiating SEALDs from Freeters, and Precariats: the politics of youth movements in contemporary Japan”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 13, Issue 37, No. 2, September 14, 2015.

Excerpt:

SEALDs is suggesting that students can use some of the freedom that their positioning affords for political engagement, instead of channeling it into more traditional activities like sports clubs and social circles, that tend to dominate students’ leisure time.

Yet SEALDs is also proposing something more significant than a reallocation of students’ time—they are also attempting to construct a different kind of political identity among college students. Another SEALDs member explained it this way:

“Our movement is not our life; it is a part of our life not our whole life. I went to class yesterday as usual, and we have rappers, people who do music, people who just study, people who are trying to be teachers, we have all kinds of people, and our movement is a part of what we do in our life but not our whole life. If you focus on the movement and movement only, you will become narrow.”

What this SEALDs member is suggesting is a reconfiguration of what constitutes student political identity. SEALDs is essentially showing other students that it is acceptable to seriously engage political ideas, without become radical, or having to completely devote themselves to the cause. SEALDs is challenging an all-or-nothing orientation to politics that tends to cleave most students into taking either an apolitical stance, or fully committing to a cause that will likely marginalize them. Instead, SEALDs is coming up the middle with a proposition that you can be a regular student, have conventional ambitions, aspire to a middleclass life, and still carve out a piece of yourself that is informed and engaged with political issues. If this proposition is hardly radical, it is currently resonating with a broad spectrum of students.

Entire article at http://apjjf.org/-Robin-O_Day/4376/article.html

UPDATE: Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon Japan tour “Japanese Only” registration is sanitized to include NJ residents, but “Japanese Citizenship” remains requirement on actual registration page

mytest

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Hi Blog.  This is an update to the previous post, but it deserves a separate blog entry for the deceitfulness.  Thanks to Debito.org Readers contacting the organizers in Hong Kong, the 20th Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon made it clear to their Japan tour organizers (http://www.hkmarathon.jp) that restricting applications “exclusively for Japanese people” is unacceptable, as the event is open to all nationalities:

/////////////////////////////////////

Case Ref No. FEED-VRSUP2-20151112-0378054 (BaCh/FiCh)

Dear Alex,

Thank you for contacting the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) on 10 November 2015, letting us know the comments posted on Dr. Arudou Debito’s website in regard to the registration requirements for the “2016 Hong Kong Marathon tour package” sold in Japan.

After receiving your email, we have immediately communicated with the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA), who is the organiser of Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon. According to HKAAA, all people who are residing in Japan, regardless of their nationalities, are allowed to join the mentioned tour. They have already advised the tour operator “Kinki Nippon Travel” to amend relevant wordings on the registration site . 

Once again, thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. Should we could be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to call me or send me an email. 

Best Regards,

Fion Cheng
Senior Executive, Visitor Services
Hong Kong Tourism Board

Direct line: +852 2807 6108
Direct fax: +852 2807 6581
Website: http://www.DiscoverHongKong.com

/////////////////////////////////////

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly20151

This has resulted in changes to the website wording, from

“This tour is designed exclusively for Japanese people.  
Applications from other nationalities are not acceptable. Applications from non-Japanese runners will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.”

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly20152

to

“This tour is designed exclusively for people residing in Japan. 
Applications from other countries are not acceptable. Applications from runners who are not residing in Japan will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.”

HongKongMarathonResidentOnly1112152

Sounds better.  Gone is the assumption that foreign nationals living in Japan are not residents of Japan.

However, if you actually go to the website registration page (http://www.hkmarathon.jp/pre.html), the requirement for applicants of Japanese citizenship (item six in the bullet points: 私は日本国籍を有しています) is still there:

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly111315

(screen capture as of November 14, 2015 JST)

So although the English has changed for the purposes of placating the English-reading world, the “secret code for domestic consumption only” that is the Japanese written language is maintaining the same “Japanese Only” rules. It is very hard to see this as a mere oversight.

And as written, NJ resident applicants still face refusal and then a non-refund of their deposit payments. It’s gone from mere exclusionism to the potential for misleading applicants into corporate theft. How duplicitous and unprofessional of the Japan-side organizers. Imagine the internet uproar if a Japanese company made a mistake this big for its Japanese customers.  Again, its seems, foreign customers in Japan don’t matter.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE NOVEMBER 13, 2015:

Was tweeted this picture in regards to the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon registration desk for Japanese in Bangkok, Thailand.  Seems to be more systematic than just Japanese organizers within Japan.  More like the organization is excluding foreigners everywhere in the world, including in those nations where Japanese are foreigners themselves.

HongKongMarathonJeseOnlyTwitPic111215

More tweeted details from the same source were: “November 12, 2015 in Bangkok Thailand. Registration for the Standard Chartered BKK marathon. they also had their own ‘bib boards’ i.e. Names and bib numbers not with the rest of the marathon runners, but ‘separate'”.

20th Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon Japan tour registration is “Japanese Only”: “Applications from non-Japanese runners ‘invalid’, deposit payment not refunded.”

mytest

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Hi Blog. We’ve seen exclusionism in Japan’s sports leagues before (baseball, hockey, the Kokutai, the Ekiden, and Sumo, for example). Now we can see that Japan uses the same exclusionary practices when it processes paying customers to participate in overseas events THROUGH Japanese companies. Such as can be seen here at the 20th Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon, which refuses all NJ customers (and will not refund their application fees, either):

Source: http://www.hkmarathon.jp, courtesy of HW.

Screen captures of the site, dated November 9, 2015:

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly20151

Note the bottom-right black box that says [ONLY JAPANESE].

This is reconfirmed when you scroll down to the next section, where it says in red script:

This tour is designed exclusively for Japanese people.  
Applications from other nationalities are not acceptable. Applications from non-Japanese runners will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly20152

And again in the right-hand column, just for good measure before you click on anything:

“This website is designed exclusively for Japanese people. Applications from other nationalities are not acceptable. Applications from non-Japanese runners will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.”

Who is managing this?  Again, scrolling down.

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly20153

We have Kinki Nippon Tourist Agency, The Club Tourism Marathon Tour (their slogan, “Let’s run the world!”), and HIS Travel Agency (aka No. 1 Travel, which has had “Japanese Only” pricing and different (higher) prices for foreign customers in the past).

Who’s sponsoring this?  The Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association, Standard Chartered Bank, and the Hong Kong Tourist Agency.  I wonder if they know this is going on.

COMMENT:  What’s wrong with this?  The assumption that anyone who does not have a Japanese passport is not a resident of Japan.  What about those people living permanently in Japan who might like to join this tour but do not have citizenship?  How are they supposed to partake in this tour?  Oh, I guess as customers, they just don’t count because they’re foreign. I would love to hear how this was justified at their board meetings when they decided upon this exclusionary policy.

As submitter HW said, “Apparently marathons are only for Japanese people. I wonder if they will let us watch, though?”  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

===============================

UPDATE NOVEMBER 12, 2015:  After the Hong Kong sponsors were contacted by Debito.org Readers, the Japanese marathon tour site was amended to read:  

“This tour is designed exclusively for people residing in Japan.  Applications from other countries are not acceptable. Applications from runners who are not residing in Japan will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded. ”  

The Hong Kong Tourism Association has written (full letter below):

After receiving your email, we have immediately communicated with the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA), who is the organiser of Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon. According to HKAAA, all people who are residing in Japan, regardless of their nationalities, are allowed to join the mentioned tour. They have already advised the tour operator “Kinki Nippon Travel” to amend relevant wordings on the registration site.

Gone is the assumption that foreigners in Japan are not residents of Japan.  Bravo HKAAA and HKTA for their quick and decisive work. And also thank you Debito.org Readers.  

UPDATE NOVEMBER 13, 2015:  

Alas, the job is not quite done.  On the application website itself, the requirement of Japanese Citizenship is still there.  More details here

“Foreign Driver” stickers appearing on Okinawan rental cars

mytest

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Hi Blog.  In another turn of logic in Japan, where differentiation between foreigners and Japanese is so normal that it’s standard operating procedure for a significant amount of public policy, we have a case where “Foreign Driver” stickers have been created in Okinawa to call public attention to rental cars rented by foreigners.  Of course, with this constant differentiation comes the facile logical conclusion by policymakers that foreigners get into accidents BECAUSE they are foreigners.  And presto, more public policy that once again targets foreigners.

All the heart marks and polite language below in the “Foreign Driver” sign can’t compensate for that fact.  Anyone want to find out if domestic NJ residents with Japanese driver licenses, who of course also become tourists if they travel within Japan, also get stuck with this sticker?  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Foreigner Driving Stickers Appearing in Okinawa
Fukuoka Now Magazine, Oct. 23, 2015, courtesy of SB
http://fukuoka-now.com/en/news/foreigner-driving-stickers-appearing-in-okinawa/

The number of foreign visitors renting cars is on the rise. In fiscal 2014, the number of car rentals around Fukuoka Airport jumped 250% to 6,572. Meanwhile, the Kyushu District Transportation Bureau offers a ¥2,500 2-day “all-you-can-drive” expressway pass. In the three-month period of last October to December, about 2,000 foreign tourists used the service, and the bureau expects this year’s numbers to outstrip last year’s. In Okinawa, a spate of minor accidents has led car rental shops to put “Foreigner Driving” stickers on cars rented to foreign tourists.“I keep an eye out for rental cars with wa license plates now,” admits a local taxi driver, referring to the rental car license plates whose numbers are prefaced by the hiragana character wa (わ).

Source: Nishinippon Shimbun 10/22

OkinawaGaikokujinDriverstickerOct2015

ENDS

Honolulu Civil Beat: Cultural Exchange Program or a Ticket to Sweatshop Labor? Contrast US with J example of exploitative visa conditions

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org has long complained about how NJ (especially the “Trainees” being thrust into sweatshop and slave labor) were being exploited by ill-designed and unsupervised visa statuses in Japan. Let’s take a look at the American example and do a bit of triangulating. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

///////////////////////////////

A Cultural Exchange Program or a Ticket to Sweatshop Labor?
A Japanese woman’s poor working conditions as a Waikiki pastry chef illustrate the dark side of a visa program that brings thousands of temporary foreign workers to Hawaii each year.
April 7, 2015·By Rui Kaneya

http://www.civilbeat.com/2015/04/a-cultural-exchange-program-or-a-ticket-to-sweatshop-labor/

It didn’t take long for the 30-year-old Japanese pastry chef to realize that she was getting the raw end of the deal.

She had arrived in Hawaii only days before, lured by a promise of pastry training as part of a cultural exchange program run by the U.S. State Department. The terms of her stay, under a visa known as J-1, were to spend the next 18 months working in the kitchen of a Waikiki restaurant — six days a week on 8-hour shifts beginning at 6:30 a.m.

But she found herself toiling inside the kitchen in a shift that began at 5:30 a.m. and stretched to 12 hours — without any breaks or overtime pay.

In 2012, a Japanese pastry chef arrived in Hawaii on a J-1 visa, only to find herself working at a Waikiki restaurant in sweatshop conditions. She requested her name and the name of the restaurant not be used.

When she complained, she said no one lent a sympathetic ear.

Initially, she said she was told that none of the restaurants in Hawaii offered any breaks. And, if she were to work on a shorter shift, her salary would have to be reduced accordingly.

Unsatisfied, she went to her American sponsor organization and its Japanese contractors that had matched her up with the restaurant, but she said her pleas for their intervention were met with threats that her visa could be taken away.

Soon, it dawned on her that she faced a Faustian choice: endure the grueling conditions at the restaurant or risk being deported for not showing up to work.

“Because the J-1 terms are so restrictive, if they stop working for a day, they are out of status and deportable, so the employers hold all of the strings.” — Kathryn Xian, Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery

“At the time, I was confused and didn’t know what to do,” the chef said, recalling her ordeal in 2012. Civil Beat granted her anonymity and withheld the restaurant’s name at her request. She said she feared reprisals.

The chef’s story, recounted in an interview conducted in Japanese, provides a rare glimpse into the dark side of the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program, which was created half a century ago to foster “global understanding” through cultural exchanges but has since blossomed into the source of thriving, multi-million-dollar businesses.

But it’s virtually impossible to determine just how common these experiences are among about 2,000 J-1 visa holders in Hawaii.

That’s in part because the program, as a cultural exchange, isn’t subject to monitoring by the U.S. Department of Labor — unlike other guest worker programs.

The State Department, for its part, recently established a system to keep track of all complaints it receives, but spokeswoman Susan Pittman told Civil Beat that the tally for the entire program isn’t readily available, and a Freedom of Information Act request must be submitted before the data could be compiled.

Kathryn Xian, founder and executive director of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, says another reason the issue tends to fly under people’s radar is that the victims often choose to escape their situation by simply returning to their home country.

“What’s difficult about J-1 is that these people usually don’t seek help,” Xian said. “Because the J-1 terms are so restrictive, if they stop working for a day, they are out of status and deportable, so the employers hold all of the strings.”
‘Notoriety’ and ‘Disrepute’

Created under the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961, the J-1 program was designed to give foreign students and young professionals a temporary work experience and expose them to the American way of life — at no cost to taxpayers.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people pay upwards of $10,000 in fees and insurance to enter the country under the program and work for four to 18 months. The State Department’s latest figures show that more than 297,000 J-1 visas were issued in 2012, including 2,021 visas for those heading to work in Hawaii.

But, in recent years, some participants — and their advocates — have complained that it’s being used as a source of cheap, foreign labor with little federal oversight.

The issue grabbed national headlines in 2012, when hundreds of J-1 visa holders working at Hershey’s packing plant in Pennsylvania staged a raucous protest. About 400 of them were staying in the country for “Summer Work Travel,” the biggest of the 14 categories of the J-1 program allowing students of modest means to work in a temporary job as a way of offsetting the costs of their travel to the U.S.

“In theory, these sponsors are supposed to be helping keep participants safe and avoid exploitations of any kind to take place. But, in reality, a fox is in charge of the hen house.” — Stephen Boykewich, National Guestworker Alliance

They were put to work, often on night shifts, lifting heavy boxes and packing chocolates on Hershey’s fast-moving production line — while being paid substantially below the minimum wage after deductions.

The troubling tales of the summer programs were nothing new to officials at the State Department. In 2010, an investigation by the Associated Press uncovered widespread abuse, finding that some students were taking home less than $1 an hour, while others were being forced to work as strippers — even though the regulations prohibit the students from taking on work that could “bring the Department of State into notoriety or disrepute.”

In response, the State Department conducted a systematic review of the summer program and eventually acknowledged that its “work component … has too often overshadowed the core cultural component.”

The department later issued new rules for the program that significantly reduced the types of jobs the students can perform — to keep them away from most warehouse, construction, manufacturing and food-processing work. The rules also tightened requirements on the sponsor organizations and their contractors that administer the J-1 program on behalf of the State Department, ensuring that students were matched up with jobs that are appropriate and safe.
Ripe for Exploitation

The changes haven’t rooted out all the unlawful labor practices in the J-1 program.

Last week, the Labor Department announced that a Waikiki-based wedding planner called Wave USA Inc. — aka Ka Nalu Wedding — agreed to pay more than $35,000 in restitution to a group of eight Japanese employees, all of whom were here on J-1.

According to the Labor Department, the eight were the company’s “front-line workers” from November 2012 to July 2014 and were paid full-time salaries that varied from $700 to $1,000 a month — a rate well below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Stephen Boykewich, communications director at the National Guestworker Alliance, which helped organize the Hershey’s protest in 2012, said the problems persist because of the program’s flawed setup: The sponsor organizations and their contractors, which are responsible for vetting the hosting companies, are the ones tasked to monitor the working conditions. So, when any problem comes up, they have a vested interest in downplaying it.

“In theory, these sponsors are supposed to be helping keep participants safe and avoid exploitations of any kind to take place,” Boykewich said. “But, in reality, a fox is in charge of the hen house.”

In Hawaii, the issue is compounded by the fact that there are only seven sponsor organizations operating in the islands, and they only place participants into academic institutions — typically as scholars or physicians.

That means those looking for nonacademic work in Hawaii are forced to find their sponsor organization from the mainland, and this arrangement makes the regular, on-site monitoring of the working conditions a logistical nightmare.

John Robert Egan, an immigration attorney who once chaired the Hawaii chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, says the way the system is set up now works to the advantage of unscrupulous employers.

“Part of the problem is that they are bringing in people who don’t speak good enough English and are not familiar with the legal system and don’t know what protections are available. So that’s ripe for exploitation,” Egan said.

‘Alleged Bad Acts’

The Japanese pastry chef came to Hawaii hoping that her training here would bring her closer to realizing her dream of opening her own bakery.

To make her trip possible, she had to work with layers of contractors in Japan. First, she dealt with a company called Global Associates and its subsidiary, Hawaii Exchange Service. They then put her in touch with their affiliate — a Japanese company called the American Career Opportunity Inc. — to help her go through an English proficiency test and work with a California-based sponsor organization called the ASSE International Student Exchange Programs.

In all, she paid about $8,850 in fees and $1,300 for her medical insurance. And she spent thousands of dollars more to make living arrangements in Hawaii.

By the time she arrived and discovered her restaurant’s working conditions, her savings account had been tapped out. “I felt trapped as I had invested so much time and money to come to work on my J-1 visa,” she wrote in her 2012 affidavit to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “I did not believe I could go home as I would realistically never have another opportunity to come back to the U.S.”

But going back to work for the restaurant wasn’t much of a choice for her, either. Luckily, a network of friends, victims’ advocates and pro bono attorneys came to her rescue and got her in touch with officials at the U.S. State and Labor departments.

“I’m terrified of running into the restaurant owners. I’m too scared; I still can’t walk alone in Waikiki.” — Pastry chef from Japan

This, in turn, triggered a barrage of calls from officials at American Career Opportunity and Global Associates. They called her — and her mother in Japan — incessantly, trying to convince her to go back to work at the restaurant. When it became clear that she wasn’t going back, she said they tried to intimidate her into voluntarily returning to Japan.

Fearing that she’d be deported, she fled her apartment and went into hiding. At first, she stayed at the house of a married couple she had befriended during her first week in Hawaii. Then, Xian of the Pacific Alliance found her space at a shelter run by a local church.

As far as the chef knows, the investigations at the State and Labor departments are still pending — more than three years later. Meanwhile, with the help of attorneys, she applied for a T-1 visa, which is set aside for trafficking victims. After about a year, her application was approved, enabling her to stay in the country and start working again.

Ira Kurzban, general counsel for ASSE, says the company wasn’t notified about the case until federal authorities got involved.

“From our perspective, we did everything we could possibly do as soon as we learned that there was a problem,” Kurzban said, adding that the State Department “has never said” that the company engaged in “any of the alleged bad acts that were claimed to have happened.”

Officials from the State and Labor departments declined to comment on the case, citing privacy concerns.

Officials at American Career Opportunity did not respond to Civil Beat’s request for comment. Global Associates and Hawaii Exchange Service could not be reached.

The chef is trying to move past her bitter experience. With Xian’s help, she managed to recover the fees she had paid for her visa. And, last year, she got a cooking job at the Kahala Mall and has saved enough to move into her own apartment.

But there’s one thing she still can’t shake: “It’s been three years now, but, to this day, I’m terrified of running into the restaurant owners. I’m too scared; I still can’t walk alone in Waikiki.”

ENDS

Reader TH: Refused treatment at neurological hospital by setting overly-high hurdles for J-translation services

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. Submitted for your approval (cue Twilight Zone theme):

/////////////////////////////////////////
Date: September 3, 2015
From: TH

Hi Dr Debito, I thought you might be interested in my experience of trying to get an appointment at the top hospital for neurology in Japan. Basically they refuse to see me unless I pay for a specialist medical interpreter – they won’t even see me with a third party volunteer hospital interpreter.

I have a problem with a nerve at the base of my spine. It may or may not be caused by an accident I had early last year in which a taxi hit me when I was riding my bicycle.

I got a referral to the 国立精神・神経センター from my clinic because my research said they were the best in Japan for neurology.

I called them up to organize an appointment. My Japanese isn’t great so they told me in Japanese that I need a Japanese speaker to call on my behalf to make an appointment. I guess this is because they couldn’t get all the info needed to set up the appointment.

I had my Japanese teacher call during a lesson of mine and set up the appointment for me. They told her that I couldn’t come alone because of my language level. If I did come without a Japanese speaker they would cancel my appointment on the spot and not see me. I was surprised at this and as I was put on the spot, I said that’s ok, I’ll get a friend to come with me.

I thought about it and as the appointment time is this Monday at 9:45 am none of my friends could come with me. I searched out a group that organizes a free medical interpretation service telephone line staffed by trained professionals. They were a great help. They have to be engaged from the hospital side so I called the hospital and said in Japanese that I couldn’t get a friend to come so I will need to use this volunteer service.

The lady from the hospital called the volunteer service. The lady from the volunteer service called me back and said that the hospital refused to allow telephone based interpretation during my appointment. I must have a person come with me. I said ok. The lady from the volunteer service organized a volunteer to go with me and then called the hospital to confirm.

The hospital said they would not accept a layperson as a volunteer to accompany me. The hospital said that I must engage a professional medical interpreter. I thought this strange – they initially said that I need to come with a friend. A friend would undoubtedly be a layperson as well, so their refusal of a lay volunteer seems contradictory and petulant.

At this point it is too much hassle and will become prohibitively expensive to go to this hospital.

Is it legal to treat me like this?

Kind regards, TH
/////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT: It is NOT illegal in Japan, and that is the problem. We have discussed numerous times on Debito.org about awful NJ hospital treatment (such as saying aloud that your NJ client should die; see here too) and outright NJ refusals (see here, here, and here, for example).  They call into question how well-regarded (or even enforced) the Hippocratic Oath is in Japan.

Moreover, claiming a language barrier as grounds of refusal is a common tactic amongst discriminators in Japan (it adds more plausible deniability than an overt “Japanese Only” sign), and it looks like that is happening in this event too.  But in the case of medical treatment, it is a much more serious issue, as it can be a matter of life and death.

Comments and assistance from Debito.org Readers is welcome below, and TH can respond with more details there as he sees best. Dr. ARUDOU Debito

Tangent: How anti-discrimination measures are enforced elsewhere: Racism towards me at a bank in Canada

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Got an interesting story to tell.

(UPDATE JULY 4, 2015:  PLEASE READ TO THE BOTTOM FOR A RETELLING OF THE STORY BY ANOTHER EYEWITNESS.)

Recently I had business at a Canadian bank, so I went to a branch of it within Canada.  My transaction required me to show government ID, so I showed my Japanese passport, of course.  That’s all I have.

The teller verified my ID, but then made the comment, “It’s funny that you should have a Japanese passport.  You don’t look Japanese.”

I said, “Let’s not go there.  Lose the racism and complete the transaction.”

Well, after the transaction was complete, I called for his manager.  When the manager appeared, I indicated that his employee had made an untoward comment about my physical appearance and legal status.  “How would you like it,” I said to the teller, “if I said to you, ‘It’s funny you have a Canadian passport.  You don’t look Canadian.’?”  (It it important to add at this juncture that the teller was a Korean-Canadian immigrant — I know because I requested his name from the manager later.*)

The manager ascertained that the teller had said what he had said, and then was told that this behavior was inappropriate under Canadian rules and laws.  He was then sent home for the day, presumably without pay.

The bank manager and I then sat down in his office where he offered his sincere apologies.  And he told me over the course of a relaxed and empathetic discussion that he understood very well where I was coming from.  He himself is Metis, a minority in Canada of mixed First-Nations and settler peoples, but he apparently doesn’t “look Metis” to Canadians.  This becomes an issue whenever he, for example, bargains for a car at an automobile dealership, but has his identity policed by the dealer whenever he indicates that his indigenous status in Canada exempts him from Canadian taxes.  “I produce my First-Nations ID card, of course, but I hate it when people doubt my identity just because I don’t ‘look Indian’ to them, especially when they say so carelessly out loud.  This is unacceptable behavior for them, and it’s unacceptable for my employees too.”

That’s the way it’s done.  None of these crappy “cultural/linguistic misunderstandings” excuses, no shallow apologies and then everyone gets back to work undisturbed, and zero tolerance for assuming that people have to “look” a certain way to be a “real” member of a people or nation/state.  Justice was commensurate, swift, and public.  Well done Canada.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

(*CLARIFICATION JULY 3, 2015:  I also deduced that the teller was a landed immigrant because a) he worked in this local branch of a Canadian bank, and you would probably need landed status in Canada in order to get that kind of job, and b) based on his Korean accent, English wasn’t his first language.  However, I made no issue of these assumptions whatsoever during our exchange.  I only asked for his empathy by putting the shoe on the other foot, saying, “How would you like it if…”.)

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////

UPDATE JULY 4, 2015:  A RETELLING OF THE SITUATION FROM ANOTHER EYEWITNESS:

Hello. I would like your readers to know that I was also there as an eyewitness, and the blog post doesn’t really tell what I think to be the whole story. It’s important that you see that there was more to this case than Debito quickly typed up while on vacation, because some people are really misunderstanding what happened.

Reveal: I am a Canadian who has lived here for more than 40 years. I’ve also lived in Japan and the United States, and, for the record, I am a white woman. I can’t reveal any more than that because Debito has stalkers.

Debito’s recounting of the story is correct until the part where he writes that, “The manager had ascertained that the teller had said what he had said.” What happened was this:

The teller asked for Debito’s ID in order to complete our requested transaction. Debito showed his Japanese passport. The teller verified his ID, looked back and forth at Debito’s face and the passport, and then made the comment, “It’s funny you have a Japanese passport. You don’t look Japanese.”

Debito said, “Let’s not go there. Lose the racism and complete the transaction.”

Note that Debito did NOT raise his voice, nor did he accost anybody. MY reaction was one of shock, disappointment, and embarrassment to be a Canadian. I said to the teller, “I’m sorry, but we have laws against this sort of racial discrimination in Canada. You shouldn’t be saying that.”

The teller then apologized. “You are right, I should not have said that.”

And then we asked to speak with the manager. This was NOT about this issue, but a separate one regarding the original transaction. But the teller then proceeded to tell us that we didn’t NEED to speak to the manager. The transaction was complete.

I then requested, “I WANT to speak to the manager.” He again told us again that we didn’t need to, the transaction was complete.

It was at that time where the manager, whose office was within earshot of the teller’s booth, came to our assistance. I asked the manager about the original transaction issue, and he gave us an answer. But because I was so agitated by the terrible customer service, we THEN brought the other ID issue up with the manager. And I said to the manager, “This kind of comment is against Canadian law.” And the manager AGREED and apologized on behalf of the teller, himself, and the bank.

We then exited the bank, but when we got to the car, I said to Debito, “You know, that was weird. As a member of this bank for more than 35 years, I’d like to go back and get the name of the teller and the manager so I can write the bank about this.”

When we re-entered the bank, the manager greeted us. It was THEN that we were told that because the teller’s behavior was inappropriate under Canadian rules and laws, the manager had sent him home for the day. (Note that we did NOT request that the teller be sent home for the day. We had no idea about what would occur. If we hadn’t gone back, we wouldn’t even know that that had happened, and it wouldn’t be part of this discussion. We also still don’t know anything about pay deduction, official reprimand, etc. After all, we did not request anything like that.)

The manager then invited us to sit down in his office, where he took the time to relay his own story about his identity being policed as a First-Nations person, as Debito wrote. He also told us that he too had been to Japan and had to deal with a lot of ID policing as well.

In fact, the manager ENCOURAGED us to write a letter about this employee to bank headquarters. He gave us the teller’s card and his own.

Now I want to make clear what everyone seems to be getting wrong about Debito: At NO time did he have a temper tantrum, threaten or attack anyone, push anybody around, or even raise his voice. He had a very graceful, calm discussion at all times. This kind of myth that you have about Debito, going in and bullying people do to things, is TOTALLY unfounded. If you’ve never personally been with Debito in a situation like this, then you shouldn’t make comments or assumptions like these.

I left the situation feeling proud a) to be a Canadian, and b) that we have this type of system. Unlike what I’ve experienced many times in situations in Japan, I left this humiliating bank situation FEELING LIKE A HUMAN BEING.

I’ve grown up with various Visible Minorities in Canada — Asians, Africans, First Nations, etc. — where I was not in the majority. I have never experienced this kind of blatant policing of identity in Canada. Never in Canada – not even at the Canadian border – has anyone so blatantly questioned Debito’s passport or policed his identity like what I witnessed at this bank.

What’s even more appalling to me is not what happened at the bank, but the way you all have judged Debito, and seeing the teller, who broke the law, as the VICTIM. The law in Canada is set up to protect people from this situation, and it’s one of the reasons why Canada is an easier place to live. But why are many of you, particularly when you’re living in Japan as second-class residents, seeing the teller who started all this as the victim here?

This is not how our customer service industry behaves. It’s not the teller’s naivete. It’s his own personal stuff that he’s pushing on us. The teller personally took a risk in making that comment. If the roles were reversed, and I made a comment like that, the same punishment would befall me. It should.

Happy Canada Day!
ENDS

UPDATE JULY 14, 2015: I GET MY COMEUPPANCE IN A FASCINATING DEBATE, BLOGGED SEPARATELY HERE.

Suspicious recent death of NJ after being “restrained” on the street by Tokyo Police in daytime warrants more investigation and attention

mytest

eBooks, Books, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. As several Debito.org Readers have been digging around and submitting to this forum under the aegis of a similar but separate event (start from here), there has been a suspicious death of a Non-Japanese (NJ) that warrants more investigation and attention. So let’s promote it to its own blog entry.

First, the Tokyo Weekender of March 5 reports tersely:

//////////////////////////////////////

English Teacher Dies after Being Restrained by Police
Tokyo Weekender, News & Views – March 5th, 2015
http://www.tokyoweekender.com/2015/03/english-teacher-dies-after-being-restrained-by-police/

A short article reporting the death of a 29-year-old English teacher who fell into a coma after being restrained by the police raises more questions than it answers.

The Jiji Press reported that the teacher, who was from the US, died in a hospital following a February 11 incident in the Akasaka area of Minato Ward. The Jiji article, reprinted on the Japanese version of the Wall Street Journal, is scant on details, aside from the following: At around 5:30 pm on the Foundation Day holiday, police received a call about a foreigner behaving violently . When police approached the man, who was reported as a resident of Setagaya Ward, he responded violently. A total of six officers restrained the American by his arms and legs. In the struggle, the man went into cardiac arrest and was taken to a nearby hospital.

The man did not regain consciousness after the incident, and died on March 1. Police stated that the man did not seem to have suffered any external injuries.

No other information —- the man’s name, his home town, employer, or additional details about the conflict—has been provided thus far.  ENDS

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Here are the quoted sources in Japanese, also glib:

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保護した米国人男性死亡=2月路上で暴れ、病院搬送—警視庁
Wall Street Journal Japan 2015 年 3 月 2 日 16:30 JST 更新
http://jp.wsj.com/articles/JJ12415624575840664012717795297010215212790

警視庁は2日、2月に東京・赤坂の路上で暴れて保護され、病院に搬送された米国籍の男性が死亡したと発表した。同庁赤坂署によると、男性を解剖したが死因は不明。

死亡したのは東京都世田谷区に住む英会話教師の米国人男性(29)。

赤坂署によると、2月11日午後5時半ごろ、港区赤坂の路上で「外国人が錯乱して暴れている」などと110番があった。駆け付けた署員が話し掛けると、男性が暴れ出したため署員6人で両手両足を押さえ付けるなどして拘束。男性は心肺停止状態となり、病院に搬送された。

男性は意識が戻らないまま、今月1日に病院で死亡した。同署によると、目立った外傷はないという。
[時事通信社]

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This has occasioned much cynical comment and even public protest. But we still don’t know much more than this.

However, we can speculate with some certainty on the following:

  1. This happened on a Wednesday afternoon before it was fully dark, meaning the chances of this person being drunk and disorderly were pretty low.
  2. This happened in a part of Tokyo that sees NJ as a public-security threat, with cops trained to racially-profile potential perps and carry out legally-questionable search activities.
  3. This happened on National Foundation Day, a day where there were nationalistic demonstrations by Japanese celebrating the accession of Japan’s first emperor.  While demonstrations on a day like this are not newsworthy enough to indicate that there was a concurrent demonstration in Akasaka, it is not a stretch to imagine this person being targeted by violent xenophobic elements, and the NPA taking the side of the rightists and targeting the NJ.
  4. The NPA not only has a record of lethally subduing NJ in custody, but also of covering it up.
  5. We don’t even have the basic information on who he is or even if international officials have gotten involved in the investigation. All we have is the deceased’s age, nationality, and occupation. That is insufficient, and the fact that more details are not forthcoming suggests a mishap or a coverup on the part of the NPA.  (It’s happened before.  Many times.)
  6. There have been cases of police arresting people for looking “suspicious”, but whose only apparent crime was standing around looking foreign in the eyes of local busybodies who called the cops (we know about this because these involved cases where persons arrested were Japanese citizens who just looked “foreign”).  So the accusation of violence on the part of the NJ is also not taken when Japanese cops have a history of overreaction towards NJ (those six cops sure got there in a hurry).

We simply don’t have enough information for a more informed assessment.  And we should.  Were there no witnesses?  With this much commotion and no doubt an ambulance called, didn’t anyone see anything in this densely-populated part of Tokyo?  Or is this just another case of another unknown fungible NJ winding up as the Dead Gaijin on a Gurney?

One speculation is that the lack of press investigation and scrutiny is because this case has somehow come under Japan’s newly-enacted Special Secrecy Law.  Seems a bit of a stretch, as this doesn’t seem to be something that ought to be fodder (how does the case one dead NJ qualify as an issue of national security?).  But if it did, this would really be the acid test that demonstrated just how far this law will be abused, and thus warrants further investigation.

If you have any friends in the Japan news media, point them towards this site and see if we can pique their interest and get them investigating.  I will too.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Kyodo: Foreign trainee slain, colleague wounded in rural Ibaraki attack, in oddly terse article (UPDATED with news of another underreported NJ death)

mytest

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Hi Blog. Article first, then comment:

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Foreign trainee slain, colleague wounded in rural Ibaraki attack
KYODO, STAFF REPORT
THE JAPAN TIMES, FEB 23, 2015, courtesy of JK
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/23/national/crime-legal/foreign-trainee-slain-colleague-wounded-rural-ibaraki-attack/

MITO, IBARAKI PREF. – Two Chinese men taking part in a foreign trainee program on a farm in Hokota, Ibaraki Prefecture, were attacked by a group of men with knives Sunday evening, leaving one dead and the other wounded, police said.

Sun Wenjun, 33, was pronounced dead at a hospital and the other man, identified only as being 32 years old, was being treated for his wounds, the police said.

They were attacked by several men, apparently non-Japanese, at around 9:50 p.m. near the farm. The two were riding bicycles on their way from the home of an acquaintance about 1.5 km from the farm.

A kitchen knife with bloodstains was found near the scene, NHK reported.

The surviving trainee was quoted as saying the men came out of nowhere, attacked with knives and left in a car.
ENDS?

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COMMENT:  And that’s all we get?  It’s been a couple of days, and I have an unusually busy week with several deadlines, so let me ask Debito.org Readers to look around the Japanese and English-language media and see if there has been anything more afoot (especially since the article alleges that NJ were perps as well as victims).  Please place articles with links in the Comments Section below.

Or if you find little to nothing more in the media, that’s also a significant indicator — on how crime perpetrated against NJ is reported and handled in Japan, so please comment on that too.  This would be a much larger media scrum if Japanese were stabbed to death allegedly by NJ.  Thanks.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito