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From Debito's doctoral research:

Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

  • Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination
  • (Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield 2015/2016)

    Click on book cover for reviews, previews, and 30% discount direct from publisher. Available in hardcover and Kindle eBook on Amazon.com. Out in paperback July 2016!

  • Book IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan
  • Archive for the 'Japanese Politics' Category

    How the political fray is coming into play; usually more about Japanese politicians than bureaucrats.

    Reuters: Japan eyes more foreign workers, stealthily challenging immigration taboo

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 29th April 2016

    Reuters: 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. […] “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.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 13 Comments »

    Out in Paperback: Textbook “Embedded Racism” (Lexington Books) July 2016 in time for Fall Semester classes: $49.99

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 18th April 2016

    “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books / Rowman & Littlefield 2016) will also be released as a paperback version in July/August 2016. This is good news. Usually when an academic book comes out in hardcover, the paperback version is not released for a year or two in order not to affect sales of the hardcover. (The hardcover is, generally, intended for libraries and must-have buyers). However, sales of the hardcover have been so strong that the publisher anticipates this book will continue to sell well in both versions.

    So, just in time for Fall Semester 2016, “Embedded Racism” will be coming out over the summer for university classes, with an affordable price of $49.99 (a competitive price for a 378-page textbook, less than half the price of the hardcover).. Please consider getting the book for your class and/or adding the book to your library! Academics may inquire via https://rowman.com/Page/Professors about the availability of review copies and ebooks. Full details of the book, including summary, Table of Contents, and reviews here (weblink).

    Hardcover version: 2015/2016, 378 pages
    ISBN: 978-1-4985-1390-6
    eBook: 978-1-4985-1391-3
    Subjects: Social Science / Discrimination & Race Relations, Social Science / Ethnic Studies / General, Social Science / Minority Studies, Social Science / Sociology / General

    Posted in "Embedded Racism", Articles & Publications, Education, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Lawsuits, Media, Racist Images in Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society | No Comments »

    JT: Abe Cabinet says JCP promoting ‘violent revolution,’ subject to Anti-Subversive Activities Law; now, how about violent Rightists?

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 24th March 2016

    As PM Abe becomes further emboldened by a lack of organized political opposition, his administration is becoming more reactionary towards Japan’s Left. According to the Japan Times, it will subject the Japan Communist Party to the Anti-Subversive Activities Law (Hakai Katsudou Boushi Hou), reserved for subversives who resort to violence. Of course, the JCP is a legitimate party (in fact, Japan’s oldest political party) with a number of seats in the Diet, and it is allowed to agitate for reforms and even non-violent revolution, as it has for decades now. But Abe seems bent on a return to Japan’s old form, when Leftists were incarcerated, tortured, and killed in custody in Wartime Showa Japan.

    Looking forward to him similarly cracking down on Japan’s violent rightists as well, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. I presume violent rightists wouldn’t be considered “revolutionaries” by the Abe Administration in the same sense — their form of revolution would take Japan back to a status quo of inter alia Emperor worship, unaccountable elite rule, and military adventurism. To Abe’s clique that is also part of Japan’s history, even if that would “subvert” Japan’s current democratic institutions.

    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Tangents | 7 Comments »

    ABC News Australia: Video on PM Abe’s secretive and ultra-conservative organization “Nippon Kaigi”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 17th February 2016

    Here is an excellent bit of investigative journalism done by the Australians on an organization that the USG would do well to do their own research on (and the US media pay due attention to): PM Abe’s Nippon Kaigi, which threatens to undo just about everything The Occupation did to demilitarize Postwar Japan and defang its self-destructive ultranationalism. Why hasn’t anyone else done a good in-depth report on them, even after this report came out over a year ago? Because it’s probably not something people want to believe–that the belligerent elements of Prewar Japan are not only ascendant, they are already well-organized within Japan’s highest echelons of government. A transcript follows, but I strongly recommend people click on the link and watch the video at the ABC News Australia Lateline program to get the full effect. http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2015/s4364818.htm

    LATELINE: It’s been described as one of the most influential political organisations in Japan. Nippon Kaigi, or Japan Conference, has an impressive list of members and advisors, including the Prime Minister and much of his cabinet. But very little is known about this right-wing nationalist lobby group which aims to reshape Japanese politics and policies and even change the Constitution. It operates mostly out of the public eye, but North Asia correspondent Matthew Carney gained rare access to file this exclusive story for Lateline.

    Posted in "Embedded Racism", Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Tangents, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 12 Comments »

    O’Day in APJ: Japan Focus: “Differentiating SEALDs from Freeters, and Precariats: the politics of youth movements in contemporary Japan”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 28th January 2016

    O’Day: 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.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Human Rights, Japanese Politics, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tangents | No Comments »

    JT on corporate threats to student activists’ futures (SEALDs in particular); this is probably why they suddenly turned craven

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 25th January 2016

    JT: Opposition to the government’s aggressive push to loosen restrictions on the use of military force is being heard from many corners. The beacon for students opposing the bills has been the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy, or SEALDs. Under the slogan of protecting “freedom, peace and democracy,” these students have loudly voiced their opposition to the government’s push for militarization at protests around the country.

    SEALDs have put paid to two tired tropes that have been regularly trotted out over the years about Japan’s students: first, that they have no interest in politics, and second, that student social movements here are a thing of the past. Inspired by SEALDs, even high schoolers and mothers who had never before engaged in social activism have taken to the streets to demand that our country commit to never again waging war, and that our youths are never asked to kill those of other countries. Jumping on the bandwagon have been the elderly, under the collective banner of OLDs, and even the middle-aged, or MIDDLEs.

    This resolute, relentless movement has already begun to have a clear impact on our society. The recent drop in support for the Abe government is at least in part a result of grass-roots movements such as SEALDs. One Liberal Democratic Party member of the Lower House tweeted: “SEALDs members just don’t want to go off to war, i.e., their actions are based on extreme selfishness.” […]

    For politicians chomping at the bit to deploy Japan’s forces overseas, SEALDs are apparently quite an irritant. An independent member of the Yukuhashi city assembly in Fukuoka Prefecture also stuck his foot firmly in his mouth when he riffed on a comment by one SEALDs member that “we tremble at the thought of going to war.” Shinya Kotsubo parodied it on his blog on July 26, titling his article “SEALDs members should tremble at the thought that they’ll never get a job.” He explained further, writing, “You are demonstrating now while you’re students, so don’t come crying when no one will hire you later on.”

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Tangents | 24 Comments »

    JT: Sakanaka argues success of ‘Abenomics’ hinges on immigration policy (old article from May 2014; not much has changed)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 7th January 2016

    Here’s an article that is about a year and a half old, but it’s remarkable how much the landscape of the debate on immigration into Japan has not changed since. We have immigration proponent Sakanaka Hidenori (of whom I am a fan: I cite him extensively in book “Embedded Racism”, and deal with the arguments below in Ch. 10) meeting with people who are only concerned about money, and arguing that immigration is also important for them to keep their fix. Meanwhile, from a political standpoint, it is clear in the article below that Abe and his power elite aren’t really going to budge on the issue either: To them, foreign residents are merely temporary workers, who should come here and contribute but not expect a stake in their investments into this society. Not really news, I guess, but the issue is laid out so nakedly clear here, especially in the last half of the article.:

    JT: “What are immigrants? The U.S. is a country of immigrants who came from all around the world and formed the (United States). Many people have come to the country and become part of it. We won’t adopt a policy like that,” Abe said on a TV program aired April 20, [2014] “On the other hand, it is definitely true that Japan’s population will keep shrinking and Japan will see a labor shortage in various production fields,” Abe said, adding he will consider easing regulations on issuing three- to five-year visas. “It’s not an immigrant policy. We’d like them to work and raise incomes for a limited period of time, and then return home,” Abe said.

    Among the core supporters of LDP lawmakers, including Abe himself, are nationalistic voters opposed to welcoming large numbers of unskilled foreign laborers, who are now barred from Japan. They fear that bringing in such people would increase the crime rate and deprive Japanese of job opportunities in the still-sluggish economy. This concern seems to be shared by a majority of Japanese. According to a poll by the daily Yomiuri Shimbun in April, while 74 percent of the 1,512 polled said they believe population decline will hurt Japan’s economy and contribute to its decline, 54 percent said they opposed bringing in more foreigners versus 37 percent who backed the idea.

    Posted in "Embedded Racism", Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, SITYS, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 3 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE 94 Annual Top Ten: “Battles over history, the media and the message scar 2015”, Jan. 3, 2016

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 3rd January 2016

    2015 was another year of a few steps forward but many steps back in terms of human rights in Japan. The progressive grass roots consolidated their base and found more of a voice in public, while conservatives at the top pressed on with their agenda of turning the clock back to a past they continue to misrepresent. Here are the top 10 human rights issues of the year as they affected non-Japanese residents:

    10) NHK ruling swats ‘flyjin’ myth
    In November, the Tokyo District Court ordered NHK to pay ¥5.14 million to staffer Emmanuelle Bodin, voiding the public broadcaster’s decision to terminate her contract for fleeing Japan in March 2011. The court stated: “Given the circumstances under which the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima No. 1 plant’s nuclear accident took place, it is absolutely impossible to criticize as irresponsible her decision to evacuate abroad to protect her life,” and that NHK “cannot contractually obligate people to show such excessive allegiance” to the company.

    This ruling legally reaffirmed the right of employees to flee if they feel the need to protect themselves. So much for the “flyjin” myth and all the opprobrium heaped upon non-Japanese specifically for allegedly deserting their posts…

    Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/01/03/issues/battles-history-media-message-scar-2015/

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Child Abductions, Cultural Issue, Education, Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Gaiatsu, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Lawsuits, Media, United Nations, Unsustainable Japanese Society | No Comments »

    The Year in Quotes: “Much jaw-jaw about war-war” (my latest for the JT), Foreign Element column, Dec. 23, 2015

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 23rd December 2015

    I love year-end roundups, and this year I was given the privilege of compiling the year in quotes. Fuller version follows with more quotes that didn’t make the cut and links to sources:

    JT: The past year has seen a number of tensions and tugs-of-war, as conservatives promoted past glories and preservation of the status quo while liberals lobbied for unprecedented levels of tolerance. This year’s Community quotes of the year column will break with tradition by not giving a guided tour of the year through quotations, but rather letting the words stand alone as capsule testaments to the zeitgeist. Quotes follow:

    “I cannot think of a strategic partnership that can exercise a more profound influence on shaping the course of Asia and our interlinked ocean regions more than ours. In a world of intense international engagements, few visits are truly historic or change the course of a relationship. Your visit, Mr. Prime Minister, is one.”
    — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe’s December trip to India, where agreements were reached on infrastructure investment (including a much-feted high-speed train), nuclear energy cooperation, classified intelligence sharing and military hardware sales to deter China from encroaching upon the Indian Ocean.

    “Since taking office, I’ve worked to rebalance American foreign policy to ensure that we’re playing a larger and lasting role in the Asia Pacific — a policy grounded in our treaty alliances, including our treaty with Japan. And I’m grateful to Shinzo for his deep commitment to that alliance. He is pursuing a vision of Japan where the Japanese economy is reinvigorated and where Japan makes greater contributions to security and peace in the region and around the world.”
    — U.S. President Barack Obama, during a joint press conference marking Abe’s visit to the United States in April, during which he became the first Japanese leader to address both houses of Congress.

    “If Japan gets attacked, we have to immediately go to their aid. If we get attacked, Japan doesn’t have to help us.”
    — Donald Trump, U.S. Republican presidential candidate, on the stump.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, History, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Lawsuits, Media, Tangents, Tourism | 3 Comments »

    Saitama Pref. Kawaguchi City Assemblyman Noguchi Hiroaki (LDP): “We have more foreigners registered than dogs,” querying about potential NJ tax dodgers

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 13th December 2015

    JT: A 58-year-old official in the city of Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, has pointed out that the city’s non-Japanese population is larger than the number of registered dogs. He later withdrew the remark after coming under criticism from other assembly members, according to local media reports. Hiroaki Noguchi, a Liberal Democratic Party assemblyman, made the remark at an assembly session Wednesday when he was asking questions about the number of foreign residents who had failed to pay their taxes, the daily Yomiuri Shimbun reported. After receiving complaints from some assembly members that his remark was inappropriate, Noguchi reportedly apologized, saying he only wanted to illustrate that the number of foreigners living in the city is on the rise. He said he did not mean to discriminate against them, but agreed that the remark was misleading. […]

    According to the local daily Saitama Shimbun, Noguchi said Wednesday the number of foreign people in the city is increasing, pointing out that the number of dogs registered at the city is 26,000 while the number of foreign residents totals 27,000. Inagawa told Saitama Shimbun that the remark could be regarded as being discriminatory, adding he believes it is similar to the “Japanese only” banner put up at Saitama Stadium by supporters of Urawa Reds soccer team last year.

    COMMENT: I suspect a slow news day. These sorts of things usually don’t attract this much attention (because they’re so normalized in Japan), and implicit suspicions of NJ as people criminally indisposed to taking advantage of the system (unlike those “stereotypical law-abiding Japanese”; yet there are whole movies out there about the art of tax dodging done by Japanese — it’s normalized to the level of parody). I’m also pleased that the comment was retracted (they often are not, especially if the person is very powerful), although I doubt there will be any sanction against this person for implicitly putting NJ residents at the level of dogs. I’m also pleased that there has been a connection made between the “Japanese Only” exclusions at Saitama Stadium and this event (perhaps this is why there was a peg for the issue in the local media) — although a racist tweet by a Urawa Reds supporter last month resulted in no punishments either.

    So all-in-all, mixed feelings. This kind of comment cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged because it demonstrates the unconscious dehumanization of NJ by Japan’s registry systems (see more on that in my book EMBEDDED RACISM pp. 219-222), where until 2012 animals and fictional characters could be registered as “residents” but not foreign resident taxpayers. And that’s before we get to the explicit attribution of tax dodging to NJ. But all that resulted from this case was that the comment was deleted from the records, and all will continue as before, soon forgotten without recorded reprisal against the xenophobe. Meaning there is nothing to preempt some other official saying something as thoughtlessly dehumanizing as this. Clearly, more structural sanction is necessary.

    Posted in "Embedded Racism", Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics, Media, 日本語 | 29 Comments »

    WSJ: PM Abe Shinzo First Non-American to Win Conservative Hudson Institute Award — and other American neocons egging on Japan’s remilitarization

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 29th November 2015

    WSJ: On Sept. 25, [2013,] Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will join an elite group of right-leaning leaders like Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger and Dick Cheney, as the recipient of an award from conservative Washington D.C.-based think tank, Hudson Institute. […] Mr. Abe won’t be the first Japanese politician to speak at a Hudson Institute event, though. In December 2011, Nobuteru Ishihara, then secretary-general of Mr. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, also gave a speech, calling for swift nationalization of disputed islands in the East China Sea and deployment of Japanese troops there. The islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, have been a major source of diplomatic strain between the two countries. […] Mr. Ishihara’s speech was quickly followed by one at the Heritage Foundation, another conservative U.S. think tank, given by his more famous–and controversial–father, Shintaro Ishihara. At that April 2012 speech, the elder Ishihara, who was then governor of Tokyo, unveiled a plan for the Tokyo government to purchase the disputed islands. Japan’s national government headed off that purchase by nationalizing the islands itself later in the year, sparking massive anti-Japanese protests in China.

    Hudson Institute Website: At a gala luncheon in New York on September 25, 2013, Hudson presented its annual Herman Kahn Award to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in recognition of his extraordinary career on the world stage—and his vigorous, principled promotion free markets, global security, and democratic ideals. “Japan should not be a weak link in the regional and global security framework where the U.S. plays a leading role,” the Prime Minister said. “Japan is one of the world’s most mature democracies. Thus, we must be a net contributor to the provision of the world’s welfare and security. And we will. Japan will contribute to the peace and stability of the region and the world even more proactively than before.”

    COMMENT: According to the articles above, less than a year after being returned to power and decimating Japan’s Leftists, PM Abe received this award from an American conservative think-tank. It’s clear that conservative elements in the hegemon wish Japan to have a leader like Abe honored and in power. I’m not quite sure why. It would be facile to think it’s merely because the US wants to maintain bases and a weapons market, or even contain China. No, think tanks like these are also grounded in morals and values that transcend economics and politics (such as, in this case, Abe’s alleged dedication to “democratic ideals”). The funny thing is, these people seem to think Abe shares their values. He really doesn’t, unless these people are fundamentally positive towards a racialized reorientation of Asia, where Japanese bigots settle old historical scores, pick fights, destabilize the region, and return Asia back on the course of an arms race.

    I’m probably missing something (again, this isn’t quite my field), but I’m aghast at the short-sightedness of American neocons (especially, as noted above, the Heritage Foundation egging on the Ishiharas to purchase the disputed Senkaku rocks and inflame Sino-Japanese tensions). As I was the similar short-sightedness of the Obama Administration honoring Abe years later. In sum, positive overseas recognition like this helps keep Abe’s popularity ratings up (and the money to the LDP rolling in, and Japan’s right-wing swing swinging, etc.). I don’t think they understand what Frankenstein they’re creating.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Gaiatsu, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Tangents, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 7 Comments »

    My latest Japan Times JBC Col 93: “Tackle embedded racism before it chokes Japan”, summarizing my new book “Embedded Racism”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st November 2015

    JBC: Japan has a dire problem it must address immediately: its embedded racism.

    The country’s society and government are permeated by a narrative that says people must “look Japanese” before they can expect equal treatment in society.

    That must stop. It’s a matter of Japan’s very survival.

    We’ve talked about Japan’s overt racism in previous Just Be Cause columns: the “Japanese only” signs and rules that refuse entry and service to “foreigners” on sight (also excluding Japanese citizens who don’t “look Japanese”); the employers and landlords who refuse employment and apartments — necessities of life — to people they see as “foreign”; the legislators, administrators, police forces and other authorities and prominent figures that portray “foreigners” as a national security threat and call for their monitoring, segregation or expulsion.

    But this exclusionism goes beyond a few isolated bigots in positions of power, who can be found in every society. It is so embedded that it becomes an indictment of the entire system. In fact, embedded racism is key to how the system “works.” Or rather, as we shall see below, how it doesn’t…

    Read the rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/11/01/issues/tackle-embedded-racism-chokes-japan/

    Posted in "Embedded Racism", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Good News, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Media, Pension System, Sport, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 37 Comments »

    CSM: Reviving Shinto: Prime Minister Abe tends special place in Japan’s soul for mythology

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 7th October 2015

    CSM: The decision to host the G-7 summit near Ise underscores Abe’s devout Shinto faith. Yet his commitment to Japan’s indigenous religion has led to far more than symbolic gestures. He and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have pursued a wide range of Shinto-inspired policies – from more openly embracing Japan’s imperial heritage to reforming aspects of Japanese education and even re-evaluating the country’s wartime record – with the explicit goal of renewing what they say are traditional values.

    As old perhaps as Japan itself, Shinto has no explicit creed or major religious texts. Its adherents pray to “kami,” spirits found in objects both living and inanimate, and believe in a complex body of folklore that emphasizes ancestor worship. But as Japan modernized in the late 19th century, officials made Shinto the state religion, and Japanese were taught to view​ the emperor as having divine stature. The religion became closely associated with Japanese militarism, leading to its separation from state institutions after World War II.

    Shinto struggled for decades to find a place in postwar Japan, and given the religion’s history, some critics see the country’s newfound interest in it as a sign of simmering nationalism at best. At worst, they describe it as a reprise of the official State Shinto of imperial Japan. But among conservatives it reflects a palpable fear that Japan has somehow gone adrift after two decades of economic stagnation, rampant materialism, and the rise of neighboring China. Many believe the time has come for the religion to regain its rightful place in the public sphere.

    “Shinto is refusing to be restricted to the private and family life,” says Mark Mullins, a professor of Japanese studies at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. “There is this sense that Japan needs to get back what it lost after World War II and that this will be good for the nation.”

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, G7/G8 Summits, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, SITYS, Tangents | 21 Comments »

    My next Japan Times JBC 92 Oct. 5, 2015: “Conveyor belt of death shudders back to live”, on how Abe’s new security policy will revive Prewar martial Japan

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 3rd October 2015

    JBC: He’s done it.

    As past JBCs predicted he would, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has gotten his way. Last month he closed a chapter on “pacifist Japan,” ramming through unpopular new security legislation that now allows Japanese military engagement in offensive maneuvers abroad.

    That’s it then. The circle is complete. Japan is primed to march back to its pre-World War II systems of governance.

    Now just to be clear: I don’t think there will be another world war based on this. However, I think in a generation or two (Japan’s militarists are patient – they’ve already waited two generations for this comeback), a re-armed (even quietly nuclear) Japan selling weapons and saber-rattling at neighbors will be quite normalized.

    Alarmism? Won’t Japan’s affection for Article 9 forestall this? Or won’t the eventual failure of Abenomics lead to the end of his administration, perhaps a resurgence of the opposition left? I say probably not. We still have a couple more years of Prime Minister Abe himself (he regained the LDP leadership last month unopposed). But more importantly, he changed the laws.

    So this is not a temporary aberration. This is legal interpretation and precedent, and it’s pretty hard to undo that (especially since the opposition left is even negotiating with the far-right these days). Moreover, Japan has never had a leftist government with as much power as this precedent-setting rightist government does. And it probably never will (not just because the US government would undermine it, a la the Hosokawa and Hatoyama Administrations).

    But there’s something deeper at work beyond the Abe aberration. I believe that social dynamics encouraging a reverse course to remilitarization have always lain latent in Japanese society…

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, History, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, SITYS, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 16 Comments »

    JK on emerging GOJ policies towards refugees & immigration, still not allowing them to stay in Japan: “tourists yes, refugees & immigrants no”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st October 2015

    Debito.org hasn’t talked as much as other topics about the Government of Japan (GOJ)’s attitude towards refugees (in that, the acceptance of refugees is one measure of international contributions by the club of rich, developed countries and UN treaty signatories). But it is safe to say that the GOJ has not been cooperative, accepting fewer people in total over the past sixty years than some countries do in a single year — as the United Nations is aware. So now the Abe Administration is trying a different tack: Accepting refugees as temporary students, and then sending them “home” someday. Debito.org Reader JK parses that to bits by citing articles below.

    Mainichi: “The idea is that by accepting refugees as students, Japan could aid in training personnel for the later reconstruction of Syria.” …and… “The plan represents the government’s efforts to think of a way to contribute to solving the Syria issue, without influencing the current refugee authorization system.”

    JK: Translation: GOJ doesn’t want to look bad at the UN in front of the other nations who are actually doing something to help refugees, so what to do?…Ah! Accept refugees as students to make it look like Japan is making a difference — Japan trains the Syrians so that one day they can go ‘home’ and fix everything up, and as students, they’re not in a position to stay for good as would be the case if they were accepted as refugees. It’s a win-win!

    Mainichi: “As an issue of demography, I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees we need to have more activities by women, by elderly people and we must raise (the) birth rate. There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants,” Abe told a news conference, according to the official translation of his comments.

    JK: Translation: Accepting immigrants is the last thing we should do.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Politics, Refugees, Tourism, United Nations, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 17 Comments »

    Another Gaijin Handler speaks at East-West Center: Dr. Nakayama Toshihiro, ahistorically snake-charming inter alia about how Japan’s warlike past led to Japan’s stability today (Sept. 15, 2015)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 23rd September 2015

    Nakayama: (From minute 1:02:00). But as shown in Prime Minister Abe’s statement commemorating the [unintelligible] end of World War II that was announced on the 14th of August, there were suspicion in Korea and in China that Prime Minister Abe changed totally the understanding of how we see history. But I think that we see if we actually read the text, I think it relates much more to [unintelligible]. He was sometimes being criticized as being a revisionist, trying to see the war in different terms. I don’t think that was his intention. In Japan, the governmental historical discourse is that everything started from 1945. Everything that happened before that is basically wrong. That’s not how things turned out. Yes, there was a disastrous four years. If you include China and The Occupation, it goes beyond that. But you have to remember that Japan was the first modern state in Asia which successed [sic] in modernizing itself, and became a player in the Great Power games. And that’s a success case. Yes, it ended up in a war, with the United States and China, but that doesn’t mean we have to negate everything that happened before 1945. An attempt by Prime Minister Abe was to see history in continuation, and there were some parts [unintelligible] that would make democracy stable after 1945, were established in the Prewar Period. So we have to see the history in continuance. I think that was the message.

    COMMENT: Wow. Imagine the international reaction if a representative of Germany (or one of their academics lecturing overseas) were to argue today that “Nazi Germany did some good things for Germany too, including making the country the stable democracy it is now.” Fascinating tack (in its ahistoricality) in light of the fascist regimes that not only did their utmost to dismantle the trappings of stable democracy, but also led their countries to certain destruction (and were in fact rebuilt thanks to Postwar assistance from former enemies). No, what happened to Japan in the Prewar Era at its own hands was ultimately destructive, not stabilizing (and not only to Japan). Thus, Dr. Nakayama imparts an interesting mix of uncharacteristic historical ignorance, with an undercurrent of the ancestor worship that the Abe Administration ultimately grounds its ideology within.

    Moreover, Dr. Nakayama is a fascinating case study of how the Japanese Government recognizes the Gaijin-Handling potential in its bilingual brightest (inserting them into, in Dr. Nakayama’s case, Japan’s diplomatic missions abroad), and manages to convince them to come back home and shill for Japan’s national interest even if it defies all of their liberal-arts training and mind-expanding world experiences. Meanwhile the USG kindly takes the lead of the Japanese Embassy to offer GOJ reps the forums they need to have maximum impact within American policymaking circles. Very smart of the GOJ, less so the USG.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Gaiatsu, History, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Tangents | 10 Comments »

    Tangent: Economist on “Japan’s Citizen Kane”: Shouriki Matsutaro; explains a lot about J-media’s interlocking relationship with J-politics

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 19th September 2015

    A great little tangent from The Economist’s Christmas Special of 2012. This story is fantastic (in fact, it beggars belief), and it answers a number of questions I always had about the status quo in Japan (especially when it comes to the interlocking of politics and media). I thought Watanabe Tsuneo (of the same publishing empire; the Yomiuri) is one of Japan’s most morally-corrupt powerful men. This guy beats him.

    Economist: THE ECONOMIST’S office in Tokyo is in the headquarters of the Yomiuri Shimbun, the world’s biggest-selling newspaper. Every day, as you walk past bowing guards and immaculate receptionists, set back in a corner you pass a bronze statue of an owlish man with a bald head and thick, round-rimmed glasses, poring over a paper. He is Matsutaro Shoriki, who acquired the paper in its left-wing adolescence in the 1920s, and turned it into a scrappy, sensational pugilist for right-wing politics. The statue is not flattering: with his potato-like head and beakish nose, he seems to be pecking at the newspaper rather than reading it.

    Shoriki lurks in the background of much of 20th-century Japan, too. He created so much of what defines the nation today that it is a wonder he is not as well known as, say, William Randolph Hearst (one of his big Western admirers) is in America. Shoriki was as much the pugnacious, brooding, manipulative and visionary “Citizen Kane” as Hearst.

    Before he took over the Yomiuri, Shoriki was head of Tokyo’s torturous secret police. Later, to help him sell papers, he introduced professional baseball to Japan. After the second world war he was jailed for alleged war crimes; upon his release he set up Japan’s first private television network. To cap it all, he was the “father of nuclear power”, using his cabinet position and media clout to transform an atom-bombed nation into one of the strongest advocates of atomic energy. That legacy now smoulders amid the ruins of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant…

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, History, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media | 6 Comments »

    Japan Times JBC 91 Sept 7, 2015: Why Japan’s Right keeps leaving the Left in the dust

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 5th September 2015

    Preview: JBC has talked about Japan’s right-wing swing before. The news is, it’s swung so far that Japan’s left is finally getting its act together.

    For example, over the past year historians inside and outside Japan joined retired politicians to demand Prime Minister Shinzo Abe accurately portray Japan’s role in World War II during the 70th Anniversary commemorations last month. It didn’t work, but nice try.

    Or how about the decimated Democratic Party of Japan submitting a bill to the Diet that would ban racial discrimination (yes!), hate speech and related harassment? Sadly, the bill has no hope of passing, or of being enforceable even if it does (what with loopholes for “justifiable discrimination” and no criminal penalties). But, again, nice try.

    And we are seeing outdoor protest after protest, with ranks swelling to numbers not seen in decades.

    That’s all fine — and about time, given that people repeatedly reelected these rightists in the first place. But let’s discuss why Japan’s left has basically always been out of power (leaving aside the geopolitical pressures from Japan’s sugar-daddy busybody — see “U.S. green lights Japan’s march back to militarism,” Just Be Cause, June 1). The left keeps losing, and much of it is their own damned fault…

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Politics, Tangents | 11 Comments »

    Morris-Suzuki in East Asia Forum: “Abe’s WWII statement fails history 101”. Required reading on GOJ’s subtle attempts at rewriting East Asian history incorrectly

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 21st August 2015

    Morris-Suzuki: [S]ome observers failed to notice that Abe had embedded these words in a narrative of Japanese history that was entirely different from the one that underpinned previous prime ministerial statements. That is why his statement is so much longer than theirs…

    The story presented in Abe’s statement goes like this. Western colonial expansionism forced Japan to modernise, which it did with remarkable success. Japan’s victory in the Russo–Japanese War gave hope to the colonised peoples of the world. After World War I, there was a move to create a peaceful world order. Japan actively participated, but following the Great Depression, the Western powers created economic blocs based on their colonial empires. This dealt a ‘major blow’ to Japan. Forced into a corner, Japan ‘attempted to overcome its diplomatic and economic deadlock through the use of force’. The result was the 1931 Manchurian Incident, Japan’s withdrawal from the League of Nations, and everything that followed. ‘Japan took the wrong course and advanced along the road to war’.

    The narrative of war that Abe presents leads naturally to the lessons that he derives from history. Nations should avoid the use of force to break ‘deadlock’. They should promote free trade so that economic blocs will never again become a cause of war. And they should avoid challenging the international order. The problem with Abe’s new narrative is that it is historically wrong. This is perhaps not surprising, since the committee of experts on whom he relied included only four historians in its 16 members. And its report, running to some 31 pages, contains less than a page about the causes and events of the Asia Pacific War…

    Economic historians note that the Japanese empire was the first to take serious steps towards imperial protectionism. The slide into global protectionism had barely started at the time of the Manchurian Incident. Britain did not create its imperial preference system until 1932. The economic blockade that strangled the Japanese economy in 1940–41 was the response to Japan’s invasion of China, not its cause. This is not academic quibbling. These things really matter, and vividly illustrate why historical knowledge is vital to any understanding of contemporary international affairs….

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Education, Gaiatsu, History, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Tangents | 18 Comments »

    Japan Times: Debate on anti-discrimination bill begins in Diet; sadly, doomed to failure

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 5th August 2015

    JT: The Diet started deliberations Tuesday on a bill that would ban racial discrimination, including harassment and hate speech, and oblige the government to draw up anti-discrimination programs that report every year to lawmakers.

    The bill, submitted to the Upper House by opposition lawmakers, was crafted to cope with a recent rise in discrimination against non-Japanese, in particular ethnic Koreans. However, it does not have punitive provisions and whether it will ever be enacted remains unclear, as lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party reportedly remain reluctant to support the proposal….

    COMMENT: Well, I’m heartened that somebody in Japanese politics these days still cares about the plight of Japan’s minorities, particularly its Visible Minorities in particular, who will be affected by, as the opposition Democratic Party of Japan put it, “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu). Sadly, it’s already front-loaded for failure…

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Politics, 日本語 | 2 Comments »

    Discussion: Abe rams through Japan’s new security guidelines: How will this affect NJ and Visible Minorities in Japan?

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 18th July 2015

    What’s happening these days in Japan under PM Abe, i.e., the ramming of new security guidelines through the Diet, will have ripple effects for years, particularly in terms of Japan’s legislative practices and constitutional jurisprudence. Not since the days of Abe’s grandfather doing much the same thing, ramming through the US-Japan Security Treaty more than five decades ago (which also did remarkable damage to Japan as a civil society), have recent policy measures been given the potential to undermine the rule of law in Japan. And I say this with all the disappointment of a Japanese citizen, voter, and Japanophile. The Japanese Government has truly shamed itself as a proponent of its own civilization, and its short-sighted voting public has done too little too late to prevent a self-entitled single-minded person as awful as Abe being given a second crack at governance (this time with a majority in both parliamentary houses, no less).

    Debito.org, with its focus on life and human rights in Japan as relates to NJ and Visible Minorities, isn’t really in a position to comment on this until it becomes clear how these policy outcomes will affect them. Right now, all can say is that I told you this would happen. Consider my record in real time in my previous Japan Times columns on the rise of Abe and Japan’s looming remilitarization (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). Meanwhile, I’m not one to speculate further without more concrete evidence.

    Speculation, however, can be your job. What do Debito.org Readers think the future is for NJ and Visible Minorities under this new Japan where fundamentally-pacifist policy underpinnings are being undermined and circumvented? (We can see the forthcoming attitudes within LDP propaganda very sharply critiqued by Colin P.A. Jones recently in The Japan Times.) Your turn to crystal-ball. Opening this up for discussion:

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Cultural Issue, Discussions, History, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, SITYS, Tangents | 8 Comments »

    Japan Times Just Be Cause 89, “Media redraw battle lines in bid for global reach”, on Fuji network’s acquisition of Japan Today.com, July 6, 2015

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 5th July 2015

    Opening paragraphs: Something significant happened in April that attracted only desultory press coverage, so let’s give it some more. GPlus Media Co., which operates English-language websites Japan Today and GaijinPot, was sold to Fuji TV-Lab, a subsidiary of Fuji Media Holdings Inc. The Fuji Media group has the Fuji Television Network under its wing, as well as the conservative daily Sankei Shimbun as an affiliate.

    This matters to Japan’s resident non-Japanese (NJ) communities. Fuji TV was recently caught fabricating subtitles falsely quoting South Korean commenters as “hating Japan” (Japan Times, June 29). That’s an incredibly dishonest thing for a nationwide broadcaster to do, especially when it may have a nasty impact on Japan’s Korean minorities.

    However, the Sankei Shimbun as a newspaper I believe is no less nasty. Over the past 15 years, for example, they have run articles grossly exaggerating foreign crime (see “Generating The Foreigner Crime Wave”, Japan Times, Oct. 4, 2002), a column claiming that Chinese had criminal “ethnic DNA” (May 8, 2001, written by regular columnist and former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro “let’s fight a war with China” Ishihara) and an opinion piece by Ayako Sono on Feb. 11 that praised the racial segregation of South African apartheid as a model for Japanese immigration policy. The Fuji-Sankei group offers pretty much unwavering support to the country’s right-wing causes and talking points. They are further right than the Yomiuri — and that’s saying something. Before I get to why we should care, let’s look briefly at the existing landscape of the nation’s English-language media…

    Read the rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/07/05/issues/media-redraw-battleines-bid-global-reach/

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Media, NJ legacies, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited | 31 Comments »

    My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 88: “U.S. green-lights Japan’s march back to militarism”, on America’s historical amnesia in US-Japan Relations, June 1, 2015

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 30th May 2015

    This time I’m talking about the geopolitics and historical amnesia behind PM Abe’s April visit to the United States, and what all the misdirected fanfare means not only for Asia as a region, but also NJ residents in Japan. Here’s the opening:

    JT JBC: As I’ve often written, I’m a big proponent of the historical record — if for no other reason, so we can look back at the past and learn from our mistakes.

    That has been a major issue for the current Japanese government. As hundreds of historians have publicly stated, the Shinzo Abe administration has been systematically working to deny (or in Abe-speak, “beautify”) Japan’s worst wartime ugliness, on an increasingly obvious quest to reconfigure Japan as a military power. In other words, the right is marching the country back to the Japan that nearly annihilated itself 70 years ago.

    But I’m even more disappointed with the historical amnesia of the Americans. Abe’s standing-ovation tour of the United States in April, during which the two allies established the new Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, has basically helped Abe further destabilize the region.

    That’s awful news. The U.S., Japan’s strongest ally and chaperone for most of its foreign policy, is, given Japan’s powerless leftist opposition, basically the only one who can stop this. [But they won’t. In fact, they’ve done exactly the opposite by publicly legitimizing Japan’s march back to militarism…]

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Education, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Gaiatsu, History, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 9 Comments »

    Arimura Haruko, Minister for the Empowerment of Women: Immigration is a “Pandora’s Box”, offers weird Team Abe arguments to justify

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 21st May 2015

    Now let’s get to the narrative by Team Abe on immigration. Despite calling for the expansion of the officially-sanctioned system of often-slavery that the “Trainee” Program constitutes (even cynically saying that we need cheap temporary foreign labor for constructing the 2020 Olympics), and the recognized need for caregivers below, we have a government official below charged with empowering people (a worthy goal in itself) also advocating the disempowerment of others — not giving people who would be contributing to Japan any stake in its society.

    That’s one thing. Another is how this Minister for the Empowerment of Women Arimura Haruko is justifying this organized disenfranchisement of NJ. Despite being married to a NJ herself, she uses him as a fulcrum (his family in Malaysia forcing their Indonesian nanny to sleep on the floor), alleging that mistreatment of immigrants is something that naturally happens (okay, without their proper enfranchisement, yes) and that it would be “unthinkable in Japan” (oh, is she as a government official ignorant of the much bigger abuses of that “Trainee” program that have been going on for more than two decades)?

    Completing the effect of working backwards from preset conclusions, Arimura then brings the song home by blaming foreigners for their own disenfranchisement: alleging their terroristic tendencies (a common trope for the past decade since PM Koizumi in 2005), and how bringing them here would be a “Pandora’s Box”:

    Bloomberg: Japan should fix its shrinking workforce by enabling women to work, before turning to the ‘Pandora’s box’ of immigration, the country’s minister for the empowerment of women said in an interview last week. Haruko Arimura, a 44-year-old mother of two, said Japan must act fast to change a trend that could otherwise see the workforce decline by almost half by 2060. But she warned if immigrants were mistreated — something she’d witnessed overseas — it raised the risk of creating resentment in their ranks.

    “Many developed countries have experienced immigration,” she said in her Tokyo office. “The world has been shaken by immigrants who come into contact with extremist thinking like that of ISIL, bundle themselves in explosives and kill people indiscriminately in the country where they were brought up,” Arimura said. “If we want to preserve the character of the country and pass it on to our children and grandchildren in better shape, there are reforms we need to carry out now to protect those values.”

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 14 Comments »

    J Times Kingston on Abe’s intimidation of media: You know it’s getting bad when even apologist bigot Gregory Clark complains about Rightists targeting him

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 17th May 2015

    JT: “[Government officials] have become more numerous, blatant and unapologetic,” [US-based journalist Ayako Doi] says, adding that the government is targeting both Japanese and non-Japanese critics alike. Japan Times columnist Gregory Clark says the atmosphere of intimidation has become exceptionally “ugly,” attributing it to a “right-wing rebound and revenge.”

    “Something strange is going on,” he says, citing recent attacks on progressive media. “Particularly given that Tokyo keeps talking about its value identification with the West.” […] Clark himself was publicly defamed for his alleged anti-Japanese views because he raised some questions about government and media representations concerning the North Korean abductions of Japanese nationals. Following that, he says his university employer received a cascade of threatening letters demanding he be sacked. “Requests to write articles for the magazines and newspapers I had long known dried up,” Clark says. “Invitations to give talks on Japan’s lively lecture circuit died overnight. One of Japan’s largest trading companies abruptly canceled my already-announced appointment as outside board director with the vague excuse of wanting to avoid controversy.”

    COMMENT: That’s how bad it’s getting for NJ in Japan — even the worm has turned. But given the history of fabrications, profiteering from pandering, and columns so bigoted and xenophobic (one entitled “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people”, and another essentially denying racism in Japan) that one had to be deleted from the Japan Times archives), I’m not sure you have a leg to stand on here, Greg. After all, isn’t discriminating against you a right for Japanese people? You made your bed, now sleep in it.

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Social Science, Good News, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Politics, Media, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., SITYS | 31 Comments »

    FCCJ’s Number One Shimbun on how GOJ is leaning on critical foreign correspondents (incl. accusing them of being on Chinese payroll!)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 8th April 2015

    Germis: What is new, and what seems unthinkable compared to five years ago, is [foreign correspondents] being subjected to attacks from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – not only direct ones, but ones directed at the paper’s editorial staff in Germany. After the appearance of an article I had written that was critical of the Abe administration’s historical revisionism, the paper’s senior foreign policy editor was visited by the Japanese consul general of Frankfurt, who passed on objections from “Tokyo.” The Chinese, he complained, had used it for anti-Japanese propaganda.

    It got worse. Later on in the frosty, 90-minute meeting, the editor asked the consul general for information that would prove the facts in the article wrong, but to no avail. “I am forced to begin to suspect that money is involved,” said the diplomat, insulting me, the editor and the entire paper. Pulling out a folder of my clippings, he extended condolences for my need to write pro-China propaganda, since he understood that it was probably necessary for me to get my visa application approved. Me? A paid spy for Beijing? […] The heavy handedness has been increasing over the past few years […] MoFA officials now seem to openly attack critical reporting. I was called in after a story on the effect the prime minister’s nationalism is having on trade with China. I told them that I had only quoted official statistics, and their rebuttal was that the numbers were wrong. […]

    I’ve heard of an increase in the number of lunch invitations from government officials to foreign correspondents, and the increased budgets to spread Japanese views of World War II, and the new trend to invite the bosses of foreign correspondents deemed too critical (via business class, of course). But I would suggest the proponents tread carefully, since these editors have been treated to – and become inured to – political PR of the highest caliber and clumsy efforts tend to have an opposite effect. When I officially complained about the Consul’s comments about my receiving funds from China, I was told that it was a “misunderstanding.”

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Gaiatsu, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited | 19 Comments »

    My Japan Times JBC Column 86 April 6, 2015: “Japan makes more sense through a religious lens”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 4th April 2015

    JBC: Ever noticed how Japan — and in particular, its ruling elite — keeps getting away with astonishing bigotry? Recently Ayako Sono, a former adviser of the current Shinzo Abe government, sang the praises of a segregated South Africa, advocating a system where people would live separately by race in Japan (a “Japartheid,” if you will). But that’s but the latest stitch in a rich tapestry of offensive remarks.

    Remember former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s claim that “old women who live after losing their reproductive function are useless and committing a sin,” or his attribution of Chinese criminality to “ethnic DNA” (both 2001)? Or former Prime Minister Taro Aso admiring Nazi subterfuge in changing Germany’s prewar constitution (2013), arguing that Western diplomats cannot solve problems in the Middle East because of their “blue eyes and blond hair,” and advocating policies to attract “rich Jews” to Japan (both 2001)? Or then-Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone declaring Japan to be “an intelligent society” because it was “monoracial,” without the “blacks, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans” that dragged down America’s average level of education (1986)?

    Although their statements invited international and domestic protest, none of these people were drummed out of office or even exiled to the political wilderness. Why? Because people keep passing off such behavior as symptomatic of “weird, quirky Japan,” i.e., “They say these things because they are Japanese – trapped in uniquely insular mentalities after a long self-imposed isolation (sakoku).”

    Such excuses sound lame and belittling when you consider that it’s been 160 years since Japan ended its isolation, during which time it has successfully copied contemporary methods of getting rich, waging war and integrating into the global market.

    This treatment also goes beyond the blind-eyeing usually accorded to allies due to geopolitical realpolitik. In the past, analysts have gone so gaga over the country’s putative uniqueness that they have claimed Japan is an exception from worldwide socioeconomic factors including racism, postcolonial critique and (until the bubble era ended) even basic economic theory!

    So why does Japan keep getting a free pass? Perhaps it’s time to start looking at “Japaneseness” through a different lens: as a religion. It’s more insightful…
    ===================================

    Read the rest in the Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/04/05/issues/viewed-religious-lens-japan-makes-sense/. This will be the anchor site, so feel free to comment below.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited, Racist Images in Media | 25 Comments »

    Spoke at Washington University at St. Louis Law School Colorism Conference April 3, on skin color stigmatism in Japan

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 2nd April 2015

    I presented at a very high-profile Global Perspectives on Colorism Conference at the Harris World Law Institute, University of Washington at St. Louis School of Law, joining some excellent speakers with impressive backgrounds. The first day had some really informative presentations (much more rigorous and thoughtful than the Ethnic Studies class I took at UH), and I hope to be just as rigorous and thoughtful tomorrow during my fifteen minutes.

    Title: Skin color stigmata in “homogeneous” Japanese society
    Speaker: Dr. ARUDOU, Debito, Scholar, University of Hawaii at Manoa

    Abstract: Japanese society is commonly known as a “homogeneous society”, without issues of “race” or skin color stigmata. This is not the case. The speaker, a bilingual naturalized Japanese of Caucasian descent, has lived for a quarter century in Japan researching issues of Japanese minorities. He has found that biological markers, including facial shape, body type, and, of course, skin color, factor in to differentiate, “other”, and subordinate people not only into “Japanese” and “non-Japanese”, but also into “cleaner” and “dirtier” people (and thus higher and lower social classes) within the social category of “Japanese” itself. This talk will provide concrete examples of the dynamic of skin-color stigmatization, and demonstrate how the methods of Critical Race Theory may also be applied to a non-White society.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media, Racist Images in Media, Speech materials, United Nations, Unsustainable Japanese Society | No Comments »

    Koike Yuriko in World Economic Forum: “Why inequality is different in Japan” (= because “We Japanese have a deeply ingrained stoicism”)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 27th March 2015

    Koike: We Japanese have a deeply ingrained stoicism, reflecting the Confucian notion that people do not lament poverty when others lament it equally. This willingness to accept a situation, however bad, as long as it affects everyone equally is what enabled Japan to endure two decades of deflation, without a public outcry over the authorities’ repeated failure to redress it. This national characteristic is not limited to individuals. The government, the central bank, the media, and companies wasted far too much time simply enduring deflation – time that they should have spent working actively to address it. Japan finally has a government, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, that is committed to ending deflation and reinvigorating economic growth, using a combination of expansionary monetary policy, active fiscal policy, and deregulation. Now in its third year, so-called “Abenomics” is showing some positive results.

    COMMENT: Here we have another LDP spokesperson peddling Japan’s exceptionalism to worldwide socioeconomic forces, and to an international audience. While food for thought, it’s clear by the end that this is just Koike shilling for PM Abe’s economic policies, spiced up with some Nihonjinron. Once again Japan gets away with shoehorning in “Japan-is-unique” mysticism within any social scientific analysis just because Japanese are seen as “funny quirky people from an island country affected by a long history of self-imposed isolation”. I’ll be talking a bit about the politics of that in my next Japan Times column, coming up on Monday April 6 (out on Mondays starting in April).

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Tangents, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 20 Comments »

    JT: “Should Japan beef up its anti-terrorism measures?” Renewed political opportunism to further erode Postwar civil liberties, go soft on right-wing groups

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 23rd March 2015

    Related to the increasingly tightening domestic security over Japanese society in the wake of attacks on Japanese citizens abroad, here is an overlooked article by Eric Johnston in the Japan Times a few days ago. It’s a long one, with contents excerpted below as germane to Debito.org. As we have talked in detail in the wake of other wakes, e.g., the G8 Summit in Hokkaido, the G8 Summit in Nago, the 2002 World Cup, other anti-democratic habits brought out in Japanese society whenever Japan holds an international event, and also a longstanding theory that Gaijin are mere Guinea Pigs (since they have fewer civil or political rights) to test out pupal public policy before applying it to the rest of the Japanese population, I believe what’s going on here is a long arc of further eroding Postwar civil liberties in the name of security and ever-strengthening police power in Japan — in favor of rightist elements. Read on:

    JT: However, former Aum members are not the [Public Security Intelligence Agency’s] only concern. Another four pages are devoted to the activities of groups trying to stop the construction of a replacement facility at Henoko for the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, voicing support for keeping the 1995 Kono Statement regarding the “comfort women,” criticizing the government’s pro-nuclear energy policy, or protesting collective self-defense and the state secrets law that went into effect late last year…

    Over three pages, the Public Security Intelligence Agency claimed “extremist” groups were cooperating with overseas organizations to criticize the government’s position on the comfort women issue, and that the Japan Communist Party was involved in anti-nuclear demonstrations in Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, and in front of the Diet and the prime minister’s office… Two pages were devoted solely to the Japan Communist Party’s leadership and membership, and its criticism of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government… By contrast, only 2½ of the report’s 75 pages were devoted to right-wing groups…. There was no mention, by name, in the Public Security Intelligence Agency report of Zaitokukai…

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, G7/G8 Summits, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, SITYS | 2 Comments »

    Renewed GOJ projections of hard and soft power: Yomiuri argues for remilitarization “to protect J-nationals abroad”, Reuters reports GOJ reinvestment in overseas universities, claims “no strings attached”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 19th March 2015

    Yomiuri: To prevent Japanese nationals from being targeted by international terrorism, the government must comprehensively reinforce countermeasures to protect Japanese living abroad, gather information on terrorism and guard key facilities. […]

    Terrorist attacks must also be prevented in Japan. Immigration checks need to be tightened further to block terrorists at the water’s edge. Security at governmental organizations, airports, nuclear power plants and other key facilities should be enhanced. It is also vital for the government to cooperate with the intelligence agencies of other countries. […] Are there suspicious people apparently devoted to radicalism, collecting weapons and explosives? Investigative authorities must vigilantly monitor online activity, detect any sign of terrorism and respond swiftly.

    Reuters: The Abe government has budgeted more than $15 million to fund Japan studies at nine universities overseas, including Georgetown and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as part of a “soft power” push to counter the growing influence of China and South Korea.

    The program, the first time in over 40 years that Japan has funded such studies at U.S. universities, coincides with efforts by conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration to address perceived biases in accounts of the wartime past — moves critics say are an attempt to whitewash history. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Georgetown University in Washington will receive $5 million each from the Foreign Ministry’s budget for fiscal 2015…

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Education, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Gaiatsu, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics | 17 Comments »

    NYT Opinion: Mindy Kotler on “The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth”, an excellent primer on the issue

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 16th March 2015

    Kotler: We know of Lieutenant Nakasone’s role in setting up a comfort station thanks to his 1978 memoir, “Commander of 3,000 Men at Age 23.” At that time, such accounts were relatively commonplace and uncontroversial — and no obstacle to a political career. From 1982 to 1987, Mr. Nakasone was the prime minister of Japan. Today, however, the Japanese military’s involvement in comfort stations is bitterly contested. The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is engaged in an all-out effort to portray the historical record as a tissue of lies designed to discredit the nation. Mr. Abe’s administration denies that imperial Japan ran a system of human trafficking and coerced prostitution, implying that comfort women were simply camp-following prostitutes.

    The latest move came at the end of October when, with no intended irony, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party appointed Mr. Nakasone’s own son, former Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, to chair a commission established to “consider concrete measures to restore Japan’s honor with regard to the comfort women issue.” The official narrative in Japan is fast becoming detached from reality, as it seeks to cast the Japanese people — rather than the comfort women of the Asia-Pacific theater — as the victims of this story. The Abe administration sees this historical revision as integral to restoring Japan’s imperial wartime honor and modern-day national pride. But the broader effect of the campaign has been to cause Japan to back away from international efforts against human rights abuses and to weaken its desire to be seen as a responsible partner in prosecuting possible war crimes.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Gaiatsu, History, Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, NJ legacies, United Nations | 13 Comments »

    Kyodo: Japan didn’t meddle with U.S. “Comfort Women” textbook, Japanese Ambassador to US Sasae claims; meanwhile GOJ panel established to “Restore the Honor and Trust of Japan”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 13th March 2015

    Out come the Gaijin Handlers, backed up by officially-complicit revisionists…

    Kyodo: Ambassador to the United States Kenichiro Sasae has rejected criticism by U.S.-based historians that Japan tried to meddle with descriptions in an American textbook over the use of “comfort women” at wartime Japanese military brothels. The academics “allege interference by the government, but this is not a matter to be considered from that angle in the first place,” Sasae told Japanese reporters Friday in Washington.

    Japan Times: A special Liberal Democratic Party committee on Thursday discussed ways to better convey Japan’s views on wartime historical issues to counter a public relations blitz by South Korea. During the sixth gathering of the Special Mission Committee to Restore the Honor and Trust of Japan, chaired by Hirofumi Nakasone, some members said a carefully crafted strategic plan is needed to gain the understanding of the international community when it comes to the issue of “comfort women,” a euphemism for those who were forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Education, Gaiatsu, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media | 6 Comments »

    Japan Times JBC 85, Mar 5 2015: “US author recounts ‘lecture’ he got about ‘comfort women’ from uninvited Japanese guests”, with targeted textbook text on Debito.org for the record

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 3rd March 2015

    JBC: The debate on Japan’s history of wartime sexual slavery (aka the “comfort women” issue) has heated up again, with the Japanese government extending its efforts to revise school textbooks overseas.

    In November, McGraw-Hill, publisher of the world history textbook “Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past” Vol. 2, by history professors Herbert Ziegler and Jerry Bentley, was contacted by Japan’s Consulate General in New York. The request: that two paragraphs (i.e., the entire entry) on the comfort women be deleted.

    On Jan. 15, McGraw-Hill representatives met with Japanese diplomats and refused the request, stating that the scholars had properly established the historical facts. Later that month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe directly targeted the textbook in a parliamentary session, stating that he was “shocked” to learn that his government had “failed to correct the things it should have.”

    In the March issue of the American Historical Association’s newsmagazine “Perspectives on History,” 20 prominent historians, including professor Ziegler, signed a letter to the editor titled “Standing with the historians of Japan.” They stated that they “agree with Herbert Ziegler that no government should have the right to censor history,” and “oppose the efforts of states or special interests to pressure publishers or historians to alter the results of their research for political purposes.” Professor Ziegler met with JBC on Feb. 17…

    Excerpt ends. For the record, what follows is the full text of the textbook entry on the “Comfort Women” issue being targeted by the Japanese Government:

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Education, Gaiatsu, History, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media, NJ legacies | 23 Comments »

    Tangent: AFP/Jiji: “Workaholic Japan considers making it compulsory to take vacation days.” Good news, if enforceable

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 8th February 2015

    As a tangent to what Debito.org usually takes up, let’s consider something interesting that affects everyone in Japan: the pretty insane work ethic.

    Caveat: Having a society that works hard pays out enormous benefits in terms of convenience. Who can grumble about being able to, say, get a good meal at any time from a convenience store, or have bureaucrats and postal workers working on weekends? Well, those people working those kinds of jobs. And while I see a similar erosion of working hours in the United States (according to the OECD, both Americans and Japanese work fewer hours per year in 2013 than they did in 2000, but Americans still work more hours than Japanese — not surprising seeing how inhumane the amount of time people in retail have to work, especially here in Hawaii), one big issue is the ability to take vacations. I see people working full-time around here able to take sick days and even vacations without much blowback from their colleagues. Not in Japan, according to the article below. That’s why the GOJ is considering making the vacations mandatory.

    This is good news. However, a closer consideration of the stats given below show an disturbing tendency: Western Europeans take almost all of their mandatory paid holidays off (up to more than a month), while Japanese take less than half of the half of the paid holidays days off they possibly could (i.e., around nine days a year, according to the article below). And what are the labor unions pushing for? Eight days. How underwhelming. Earn your dues, unions!

    I think anyone reading Debito.org (since so many of us have worked for Japanese companies) understands why Japanese workers take so few days off and sometimes work themselves to death — peer pressure…

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Good News, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Tangents | 8 Comments »

    My Japan Times JBC 83 Jan 1, 2015: “Hate, Muzzle and Poll”: Debito’s Annual Top Ten List of Human Rights News Events for 2014

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st January 2015

    As is tradition for JBC, it’s time to recap the Top Ten human rights news events affecting non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan last year. In ascending order:

    10) WARMONGER SHINTARO ISHIHARA LOSES HIS DIET SEAT
    This newspaper has talked about Shintaro Ishihara’s unsubtle bigotry (particularly towards Japan’s NJ residents) numerous times (e.g. “If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on,” JBC, Nov. 6, 2012), while gritting our teeth as he won re-election repeatedly to the National Diet and the Tokyo governorship. However, in a move that can only be put down to hubris, he resigned his gubernatorial bully pulpit in 2012 to shepherd a lunatic-right fringe party into the Diet. But in December he was voted out, drawing the curtain on nearly five decades of political theater…

    Read the next nine and five bubble-unders below with links to sources:

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Child Abductions, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Injustice, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Lawsuits, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Racist Images in Media, SITYS, Sport, United Nations | 8 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG ELECTION SPECIAL DECEMBER 2014: A clear LDP victory, normalizing Japan’s Rightward swing

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 14th December 2014

    In the Japanese media run-up to this election, there was enough narrative of doomsaying for opponents to PM Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), what with Japan’s Left in disarray and Japan’s Right ascendant after 2013’s electoral rout. The LDP was to “win big by default” in a “landslide victory”. The day after the election, we can say that yes, Abe won, but “big” is a bit of a relative term when you look at the numbers…

    CONCLUSIONS: The Far-Right (Jisedai) suffered most in this election, while the Far-Left (JCP) picked up more protest votes than the Center-Left (DPJ). My read is that disillusioned Japanese voters, if they bothered to vote at all, saw the LDP/KMT as possibly more centrist in contrast to the other far-right parties, and hedged their bets. With the doomsaying media awarding Abe the election well in advance, why would people waste their vote on a losing party unless they felt strongly enough about any non-issue being put up this election?

    Nevertheless, the result will not be centrist. With this election, Japan’s lurch to the Right has been complete enough to become normalized. PM Abe will probably be able to claim a consolidated mandate for his alleged fiscal plans, but in reality his goals prioritize revising Japan’s “Peace Constitution” and eroding other firewalls between Japan’s “church and state” issues (e.g., Japan’s remilitarization, inserting more Shinto/Emperor worship mysticism in Japan’s laws, requiring more patriotism and “love of country” in Japan’s education curriculum, and reinforcing anything Japan’s corporatists and secretive bureaucrats don’t want the public to know as “state secrets”).

    All of this bodes ill for NJ residents of Japan, as even Japanese citizens who have “foreign experiences” are to be treated as suspicious (and disqualified for jobs) in areas that the GOJ deems worthy of secrecy. And as Dr. Jeff Kingston at Temple University in Japan notes, even the guidelines for determining what falls into that category are secret. Nevertheless, it is clear that diversity of opinion, experience, or nationality/ethnicity is not what Japan’s planners want for Japan’s future.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Cultural Issue, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media, SITYS, 日本語 | 13 Comments »

    Japan Election 2014: “Why taboo?” Grotesque foreigner-bashing cartoon by Hiranuma’s Jisedai Party, features “Taboo Pig” sliced in half over NJ welfare recipients “issue”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 11th December 2014

    As everyone in Japan probably knows (as they cover their ears due to the noise), it’s election time again, and time for the sound trucks and stump speeches to come out in force until December 14. And with that, sadly, comes the requisite foreigner bashing so prevalent in recent years in Japan’s election and policy campaigns (see for example here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). Here’s 2014’s version, from “The Party for Future Generations” (Jisedai no Tou; frontman: racist xenophobe Dietmember from Okayama 3-ku Hiranuma Takeo), courtesy Debito.org Reader XY:

    XY: Today I ran across this election campaign video that isn’t as bad as the usual CM fare, but seems to suggest that 8 times as many foreigners as native Japanese are receiving welfare hand-outs. Here’s the lyrics (from the video’s own description):

    DEBITO: Debito.org is concerned about this normalization of NJ bashing — to the point of believing that blaming foreigners for just about anything gains you political capital. Look how this alleged “NJ welfare cheats” issue has become one of Jisedai’s four (well, three, actually, since the first issue mentioned is a grumble instead of a substantive claim) planks in their platform. Even though, as we have discussed here earlier, this is a non-issue. Link to CM and screen captures enclosed with analysis.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Japanese Politics, Media, 日本語 | 11 Comments »

    Louis Carlet et al. on the misunderstood July 2014 Supreme Court Ruling denying welfare benefits to NJ: “no rights” does not mean automatic NJ denials

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 11th November 2014

    Two weeks ago Debito.org wrote on the aftermath of the Supreme Court of Japan’s ruling that NJ have “no right” to social welfare (seikatsu hogo) because they are not citizens. I have been hearing rumblings that the media have been misinterpreting this ruling due to linguistics and politics, and that an adjudged no legal right has not resulted in denials. I submit to you the corrections from Tozen Union’s Louis Carlet, with a followup from another Debito.org Commenter that are simply too good to languish within comments. Nevertheless, as noted in that earlier Debito.org post, the point remains that there are some very nasty and xenophobic people in Japan’s political system who are capitalizing on what people think the Supreme Court said. Which may mean, in this increasingly ultra-rightist political climate, that the effect might ultimately be the same.

    CARLET: [Japan Times’] Otake’s article is mistaken on two major points. First, the Supreme Court in no way found foreigners ineligible for welfare. Second, the ruling, far from landmark, upheld the status quo. The highest court overturned the High Court’s actual landmark ruling which said that foreigners have “quasi rights” to welfare. Up until then foreigners never had the “guaranteed right” (kenri) to welfare but they were and are eligible just like Japanese citizens.

    I think the problem is mistranslation. Kenri means a guaranteed right whereas “no right” in English suggests ineligible. The only difference arising from not having the kenri is that if the welfare office rejects an application from a citizen then the Japanese person can appeal the decision to the office. A foreigner with no kenri for welfare cannot appeal at the office but only in court. That is the ONLY difference between how foreigners and Japanese are treated by the welfare office. Foreigners get welfare just like Japanese do. In fact the plaintiff currently gets welfare although originally rejected.

    OSFISH: The clarification that needs to be repeated over and over again is that “welfare” here does not mean “welfare” in its biggest sense of all social expenditures, such as pensions, health costs, unemployment insurance and so on. It does not mean shakai hoken in any sense at all. Welfare in this limited sense is a means-tested benefit for people who have fallen through the gaps of insurance-based social protection because they cannot contribute, or are not under the umbrella of a contributor. The main recipients are long-term disabled, single mothers (abandoned by their partners) and elderly with inadequate or no pension rights. It is a completely different system to shakai hoken and operates on a different logic of desert and eligibility. Broadly speaking, the same social insurance/social assistance split operates in large parts of the industrialised world. Japan more or less imported its system from Europe.

    To repeat: welfare here does not mean shakai hoken. Please rest easy, and do NOT consider opting out based on this ruling; it’s got nothing legally or logically to do with shakai hoken. And in any case, welfare is not being taken away. People in dire straits need to know that.[…]

    [According to this GOJ source] 66% of all recipients are Koreans – almost all probably zainichi SPRs: a group that really stretches the concept of “foreign”, I’m sure you’ll agree. Of those Koreans, and quite disproportionately compared to other groups, around half of the recipients are old people. I would hazard a guess that this is a strong reflection of the economic disenfranchisement of the first post-war generation of zainichi. These are people who were disproportionately not properly or poorly integrated into the economy and welfare system. (For what it’s worth, incomer “foreigners” claim less than their “share”, but this shouldn’t be too surprising or interpreted as anything meaningful, as residence status is attached to visa status, is attached to good evidence of financial stability. Of course there are going to be fewer incomer recipients.)

    Let’s combine this fact that Koreans make up the bulk of recipients with the far-right party’s suggestion that “foreign” recipients should naturalise or leave. For a westerner claiming social assistance, it would be very hard indeed to naturalise if you could not demonstrate financial stability. It’s pretty much out of the question. However, for zainichi Koreans, that financial stability condition doesn’t apply. The rules for SPR naturalisation are not strict. So it looks to me like an attempt to coerce elderly impoverished zainichi Koreans into giving up their nationality and identity. That’s why this relatively small amount of budget money matters to these thoroughly unpleasant people.

    Posted in Exclusionism, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media | 4 Comments »

    Two recent JT columns (domestic & international authors) revealing the damage done by PM Abe to Japan’s int’l image

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st November 2014

    Two good JT columns recently indicate how gaiatsu is becoming one of the last tools left for anyone to counter Japan’s Right-Wing Swing. One from a long-time columnist (Hugh Cortazzi) who has written for decades about Japan with a diplomat’s charm. But he’s recently been quite undiplomatic in tone when assessing the PM Abe Administration:

    CORTAZZI: Extreme nationalism is a threat to democratic institutions and values everywhere. Recent reports in the British media about the growing influence of right-wing extremists in Japan have caused deep concern among friends of Japan here. […] In the eyes of Japanese right-wing nationalists, the only crime committed by Japan’s military leaders was that they failed. The rightists lack ethical principles and are opposed to democratic institutions.[…] It seems that Japan has reverted to one-party government. This could lead to autocracy and the infringement of human rights.

    DEBITO: Quite strong language from a former ambassador to Japan. Now check this out, from a poli-sci professor at Housei University. It’s even stronger:

    YAMAGUCHI: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with his intention to counter China, has reiterated that Japan shares such Western values as freedom, democracy, basic human rights and the rule of law. He has also reportedly proclaimed Japan’s intention to seek permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council as part of an attempt to expand his diplomacy on a global scale. Such remarks are an indication that his stupidity and egocentrism are beyond redemption. […] It is hardly possible that [the UNSC] would welcome a nation whose leader denies its wartime aggression and atrocities. The head of a Cabinet whose members sympathize with racial discrimination and historical revisionism can hardly win international trust by merely voicing his support for freedom and democracy.[…]

    What he wanted to say, I presume, was that Japan’s freedom and democracy could be shoved aside when the nation’s deep-seated tendency of conformism spreads like wild fire. It is pathetic that we have to quote the foreign media to criticize what is going on in this country. It is the job of members of the media and academics to tell people immersed in narcissism that they, in fact, have ugly aspects.

    DEBITO: It’s nice when a Japanese academic in his field makes statements like “the nation’s deep-seated tendency of conformism”, because at least he can get away with saying them without being accused of racism, cultural imperialism, or ignorance. When Japan’s media follows a trend into intolerance to extremes not seen much in Japan’s Postwar Era, it’s time for denunciations to happen. Because they’re not going to happen from within at this point. They must come from without. And to that end, Debito.org is happy to report when others are seeing it that way too.

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 8 Comments »

    Fun Facts #19: JT: Supreme Court denying welfare for NJ residents inspires exclusionary policy proposals by fringe politicians; yet the math does not equal the hype

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 27th October 2014

    JT: But the July ruling [that found permanent residents of Japan legally ineligible for public assistance] has given momentum to some forces, including those harboring anti-foreigner sentiments and advocates of cutting “waste” in government spending, to try to limit foreigners’ access to welfare. The minor opposition party Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations), co-founded by ultranationalist Shintaro Ishihara, plans to submit bills to the extraordinary Diet session that would give destitute foreigners a year to choose between two extremes: becoming naturalized citizens or leaving the country.

    The move follows an August proposal, by a team of lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Democratic party tasked with eliminating wasteful state spending, to restrict welfare assistance to foreigners. “The welfare outlays to foreigners run up to ¥122 billion per year,” the Aug. 4 report by the LDP team said. “We must say it is difficult to maintain the status quo.” The team also said the government “should create guidelines (on public assistance) for foreigners who arrive in Japan, and consider deporting those who cannot maintain a living.”

    JT commenter: “According to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan’s total social welfare benefits reached ¥103.487 trillion in fiscal 2010, topping ¥100 trillion for the first time.”
    Source: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2012/12/12/editorials/footing-for-social-welfare/

    Okay, so in Japan, the total welfare budget is 103.487 trillion yen. But only 0.122 trillion yen of that goes to foreigners, so that means that the other 103.365 trillion yen are going to Japanese people! Here, let’s do some math:

    103.487 trillion yen / 127 million Japanese = Each Japanese person is, on average, sucking 814,858 yen per year from the welfare system!

    Now let’s do the math for foreigners:
    122 billion yen / 2 million foreigners = Each foreigner is, on average, sucking 61,000 yen per year from the welfare system!

    Japan’s GDP is 536,122,300,000,000 yen (over 536 TRILLION yen). So 122 billion yen is less than 0.03% of Japan’s economy. Basically, Shintaro Ishihara with his Jisedai no Tou, and the LDP, are wasting countless hours of time on something that, at best, will save Japan 0.03% of its GDP. To make an analogy, I make about $28,000 a year. So this is the same as me OBSESSING and LOSING SLEEP AT NIGHT over how I can save $8 per year.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Fun Facts, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 9 Comments »

    Georgetown prof Dr. Kevin Doak honored by Sakurai Yoshiko’s JINF group for concept of “civic nationalism” (as opposed to ethnic nationalism) in Japan

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 18th October 2014

    Dovetailing with our previous blog entry, I noticed within the ranks of Sakurai Yoshiko’s ultraconservative group Japan Institute for National Fundamentals the Guest Researcher Dr. Kevin Doak of Georgetown University. He was honored by them earlier this year:

    Yomiuri: A professor of Georgetown University in Washington has been selected for his study of nationalism in modern Japan as the first recipient of a private award established to promote research on Japan by foreign scholars. “It truly is a privilege and gives me the great confidence to continue my study,” said Prof. Kevin Doak at a July 8 ceremony in Tokyo to announce recipients of the first Terada Mari Japan Study Award established by the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, a Tokyo-based think tank.

    Doak, 54, received the Japan Study Award, top prize, for his 2009 book “A History of Nationalism in Modern Japan” (published in Japanese under the title “Ogoe de Utae ‘Kimigayo’ o”) and other works on Japan. In the book, he says English-language media do not necessarily provide correct explanations about nationalism in Japan. For instance, the book discusses a growing trend of “civic nationalism” in modern-day Japan, a concept opposite to ethnic nationalism. Civic nationalism, Doak writes, is based not on ethnic roots but on civic engagement such as having a sense of belonging to the Japanese community.

    Academic colleague: “Kevin Doak is a serious scholar, but I don’t know what has been happening with him in recent years. The Japanese translation of this book is entitled 大声で歌え、君が代 or Lustily Sing the Kimigayo, and it is being marketed as a polemic in favour of patriotism, not as a detached academic tome. In part it seems the book has been hijacked by a publisher with an agenda — the two-star comment on Amazon Jp is instructive — but then how did Kevin allow them to do this? It would be interesting to compare the English and Japanese texts, if only life were not so short. This case bears comparison with the recent hoo-hah about Henry Scott-Stokes’ book, another publisher-driven right-wing venture.”

    I of course respect the views of an academic colleague who has the training, knowledge, and rigor to express his views in a measured, balanced, and well-researched way. My comment is that his concept of civic nationalism (according to the Yomiuri writeup above) not being “based on ethnic roots, but on civic engagement such as having a sense of belonging to the Japanese community”, doesn’t quite square with my research on how “Japaneseness” is enforced not only through “Japanese Only” signs and rules, but also through the structure and enforcement of Japan’s legal and administrative systems. That I believe goes beyond civic engagement and into issues of ethnicity (and racialization processes). Perhaps someday we’ll have a chat about that.

    Posted in Discussions, Education, History, Japanese Politics, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit | 4 Comments »

    From hate speech to witch hunt: Mainichi Editorial: Intimidation of universities employing ex-Asahi reporters intolerable; Sakurai Yoshiko advocates GOJ historical revisionism overseas

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 14th October 2014

    It’s the next natural step of Japan’s Extreme Right: jingoism and terrorism. They feel empowered enough in present-day Japanese society (especially in the wake of the Asahi retracting some articles on Japan’s “Comfort Women” wartime sexual slavery) to start making larger threats to bodily harm. No longer are they satisfied with being bully boys during demonstrations (beating up Leftists with relative impunity, see here and here) — as seen in the article below they have to hound from livelihood those who oppose them using nail bombs. The tactics behind the practitioners of hate speech have morphed into real power to conduct ideological witch hunts. And it won’t stop there — the most powerful elements of the Extreme Right are gearing up like never before in the Postwar Era to rewrite history overseas too (see Yomiuri advert below). The fact that the Nobel Peace Prize did not go to people advocating for the conservation of Article 9 in Japan’s “Peace Constitution” is more evidence that the outside world still hasn’t caught up with what’s really going on with Japan’s Right Wing Swing.

    Mainichi: Two universities have received letters threatening to harm their students unless the institutions dismiss a pair of instructors, who as Asahi Shimbun newspaper reporters had written articles about the wartime comfort women issue.

    Yomiuri Ad: Now, more than ever, Japan needs to tell the world the facts about this matter and dispel entrenched misperceptions about comfort women. Instead, the Foreign Ministry will build “Japan House” public relations hubs in major cities overseas to promote Japanese cuisine and anime as a pillar of the “strategic proliferation of information abroad.” Does the ministry have its priorities in the right order? A task force charged with protecting Japan’s reputation and directly controlled by the prime minister should be set up, and a minister and dedicated secretariat placed in charge of handling this matter. A united effort by the whole government is required—urgently.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Education, Gaiatsu, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, History, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media, 日本語 | 37 Comments »

    JT on hate speech and GOJ’s connections to organized crime: “Yakuza do what Abe Cabinet’s Yamatani can’t”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 4th October 2014

    JT: In most countries, police officers and criminals are supposed to be on opposite sides of the law, especially the higher up the chain of command you go, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe doesn’t appear to think this is necessary. Last month, photographs surfaced showing several members of Abe’s new Cabinet socializing with members of an anti-Korean hate group known as Zainichi Tokken wo Yurusanai Shimin no Kai (more commonly known as Zaitokukai). The appearance of such images raises some disturbing issues. […]

    At a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on Sept. 25, [Cabinet member] Yamatani [Eriko] denied that the weekly’s article was true and alleged she had been misquoted. However, when she was asked to publicly repudiate Zaitokukai, she refused — three times. Shukan Bunshun last week published a follow-up article and included an audio recording of its interview with her, suggesting Yamatani did indeed lie at her news conference. It also added a proverb to its coverage: “All thieves start as liars.” But lying to the press is not a crime, nor is hate speech illegal in Japan. Hate crimes are not illegal either. That said, generating profit for organized crime is something else…

    Posted in Gaiatsu, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics | 8 Comments »

    Asahi Editorial: PM Abe and his Cabinet picks must clarify stance on Zaitokukai, racism

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st October 2014

    Continuing with the hate speech theme (and the perpetrators of it in Japan, e.g., Zaitokukai), here is an editorial from the Asahi decrying that support of this group (or at least the unwillingness to disavow or take measures against their spreading public hatred of minorities) appears to reside in the highest levels of government. As the person being cited, Yamatani Eriko, is the nation’s top cop in the current PM Abe Cabinet, this information bodes ill for any legal measures or remedies against hate speech in Japan, something the UN recently advised Japan to adopt.

    BTW, this is the same Yamatani Eriko who spoke out against a memorial against Japan’s wartime “Comfort Women” sexual slavery in Palisades Park, New Jersey (not the Glendale, California monument), including the following “explanation” in two languages on her blog of May 6, 2012 (courtesy of MS), with the requisite denialism:

    Conclusion: “Moreover, it cannot be tolerated that Japanese children are bullied and felt sorrowful due to a lie that Japan conducted the abduction of 200,000 girls which is not true at all, and that the lie has been spread throughout the world.”

    These are the people who currently lead Japan. Is there any more doubt about the claim of Japan’s right-wing swing?

    Posted in Gaiatsu, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, History, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, 日本語 | 33 Comments »

    Blame Game #433: JT on “Rumors of Foreign Looters in Hiroshima Unfounded”, “Social Media Rehashes Historical Hate”, and Economist on unoptimistic outcomes re hate speech law

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 27th September 2014

    Continuing on with the theme of Japan’s Blame Game (as in, blame foreigners for any social ill that you don’t want to take responsibility for), this blog entry talks about the phenomenon of blame speech morphing into hate speech (not that far of a stretch, given the irresponsible nature of anonymous social media). We have people conjuring up fake stories of foreigners looting after natural disasters that got so bad that even the Japanese police (who are not positively predisposed to foreign residents in the first place — they’re usually on the front lines of blaming them for foreign crime and the undermining of Japanese society) are stepping in to defend them (article included).

    This is ironic, since NHK has recently reported there have been 1200 burglaries in post-disaster Fukushima and perps are Japanese (article). And it’s not the first time that the authorities have had to step in and dispel rumors targeting NJ residents. Consider what happened weeks after the 2011 Fukushima disasters. Rumors were circulating about foreign crime all over again and had to be tamped down upon (article). Despite the fact that crime was occurring and probably not due to NJ (article). Note how J crime naturally causes considerably less media panic. But since there are no legal restrictions on hate speech in Japan, if you can’t say something nice about people, say it about foreigners. And there is in fact a long history of this sort of thing going on (article), what with the massacre of Korean residents back in 1923.

    To be sure, hate speech has finally become an issue in Japan. A recent NHK survey has shown that a vast majority of the Japanese public think hate speech is a problem, and a near-majority think that legislation is needed (article). That said, I remain unoptimistic about how things will turn out, especially given the bent of the current administration. The Economist (London) appears to share that view, even hinting that it may be used to stifle pertinent criticisms of the government (as opposed to nasty speculation about minorities and disenfranchised peoples) (article).

    So what to do? I still remain in support of a law against hate speech (as is the United Nations), i.e., speech that foments fear, hatred, and related intolerance towards disenfranchised peoples and minorities in Japan. Those are the people who need protection against the powerful precisely because they are largely powerless to defend themselves as minorities in an unequal social milieu. The Japanese government’s proposed definition of hate speech (taken from the NHK article above) of 「人種や国籍、ジェンダーなどの特定の属性を有する集団をおとしめたり、差別や暴力行為をあおったりする言動や表現行為」(behavior or expressive activity that foments discrimination or violence toward, or disparages people belonging to groups distinguished by race, citizenship, gender etc.) is a decent one, and a good start. Where it will go from here, given the abovementioned extremities of Japan’s current right-wing political climate, remains to be seen.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, History, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, Media, 日本語 | 4 Comments »

    JT: Ishihara and Hiranuma’s conservative party to submit bill halting welfare for needy NJ a la July Supreme Court decision

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 7th September 2014

    In a show of xenophobia mixed with outright meanness, Japan’s political dinosaurs (we all know what a nasty person Ishihara Shintaro is, but remember what kind of a bigot Hiranuma Takeo is too) will propose legislation that will officially exclude NJ taxpayers down on their luck from receiving the benefits to social welfare that they have paid into. Put simply, they are seeking to legislate theft. Oh, and just in case you think “if you want equal rights in Japan, you should naturalize”, they’ve thought of that too, and according to the article below are calling for naturalization to become more stringent as well.

    This is on the heels of a dumbfoundingly stupid Supreme Court decision last July that requires Japanese citizenship for access to public welfare benefits. I’ve heard people say that all this decision did was clarify the law, and that it won’t affect the local governments from continuing to be more humanitarian towards foreign human residents. But you see, it HAS affected things — it’s now encouraged rightists to codify more exclusivity, not leftists more inclusivity. In this currently far-right political climate in Japanese politics and governance, more exclusionism, not less, will become normalized, as long as the mindsets and actions of these horrible old men are allowed to pass without comment or critique.

    Well, that’s one reason Debito.org is here — comment and critique — and we say that these old bigots should have their legacy denied. But remember, it’s not as simple as waiting for the Old Guard to die off (Nakasone Yasuhiro, remember, is still alive and pretty genki at age 96), because a new generation of conservative elites are waiting like a row of shark’s teeth to replace the old. Be aware of it, and tell your voting Japanese friends about how this affects you. Because no-one else can with such conviction. You must do all that you can so your legacy, not theirs, wins.

    Posted in Exclusionism, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Injustice, Japanese Politics, NJ legacies, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 20 Comments »

    Japan Times JBC 77 July 3, 2014,”Complexes continue to color Japan’s ambivalent ties to the outside world”, modified version with links to sources

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st July 2014

    Opening paragraphs: Hang around Japan long enough and you’re bound to hear the refrain that the Japanese have an inferiority complex (rettōkan) towards “Westerners” (ōbeijin).

    You’ll hear, for example, that Japanese feel a sense of akogare (adoration) towards them, wishing Japanese too had longer legs, deeper noses, lighter and rounder eyes, lighter skin, etc. You’ll see this reflected in Japan’s advertising angles, beauty and whitening products, and cosmetic surgery.

    This can be quite ingratiating and disarming to the (white) foreigners being flattered, who have doubtless heard complementary refrains in Western media about how the short, humble, stoic Japanese are so shy, self-deprecating and appreciative.

    But people don’t seem to realize that inferiority complexes have a dark side: They justify all kinds of crazy beliefs and behavior…

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, History, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept. | 27 Comments »

    Japan’s population tally in media still excludes NJ residents; plus J political misogyny and appeals to gaiatsu

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 26th June 2014

    Debito.org Reader JK offers the following links and commentary about two important subjects: 1) The unwillingness of Japan’s media to count NJ as “residents” in official population tallies (despite NJ inclusion on the juumin kihon daichou Resident Registry since 2012), and 2) the widespread misogyny in Japan’s policymaking arenas that has no recourse but to appeal to pressure from the outside world (gaiatsu) for assistance (as NJ minorities clearly also must do).

    Speaking to the first point in particular: Before we even touch upon the lousy demographic science, how insulting for NJ once again to simply “not count” as part of Japan’s population. Some J-articles have minced words by qualifying the ethnically-cleansed statistic as “the population of Japanese people” (nihonjin no jinkou). But others (see the Nikkei below) simply render it as “Japan’s population” (nihon no jinkou). When they eventually get around to mentioning that NJ are also here, they render them as “nihon ni taizai suru gaikokujin” (NJ “staying” in Japan, as opposed to zaijuu “residing”). How immensely arrogant and unappreciative of all that NJ residents do for Japan!

    Yomiuri: Japan’s population on Jan. 1 of this year was down 0.19 percent from a year before at 126,434,964, falling for the fifth straight year, the internal affairs ministry said Wednesday. The figure was calculated based on Japan’s resident registry network system and does not include foreign residents.

    Mainichi: A Tokyo metropolitan assemblywoman [Shiomura Ayaka], who was subjected to sexist jeers during a recent assembly meeting, stressed that the heckling came from more than one person as she spoke at a news conference for the foreign media. […] The Tokyo metropolitan assembly voted down on Wednesday a resolution that called for identifying assembly members who heckled an assemblywoman last week with sexist remarks, with disapproval by the Liberal Democratic Party delegation, the biggest group in the assembly.

    JK comments: The quote I’d like to focus on is this: “The incident has caused deep embarrassment to Japan which is preparing to host the Olympics.” Soo…. seeing as how the political option got voted down twice, it looks to me like the only option Shiomura has to effect change in the gikai is via pulling the shame lever in form of a Kisha Club press conference. My take is that this move is intended to generate attention with gaiatsu as a real and possible side effect. Assuming this is case, can your conclusion to the Urawa “Japanese Only” Soccer Banner Case (i.e. Gaiatsu is basically the only way to make progress against racial discrimination in Japan) be generalized to include political misogyny as well?

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 36 Comments »

    J-Govt. “We are Tomodachi” Newsletter Vol. 4 , June 2014 offers fascinating insights into PM Abe Admin mindsets

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 9th June 2014

    Any good organization wanting public approval (or in this case, approval from its geopolitical “friends”) does outreach. And this very professional online magazine issued yesterday from the Abe Administration, called “We are Tomodachi”, is worth an introduction to Debito.org Readers. It offers fascinating insights into what the PM Abe Administration is thinking (or trying to convince you it is thinking — something few branches of Japan’s governmental organs do in any convincing detail even for its citizens). As The Economist (London) recently noted, Abe is “Japan’s most purposeful prime minister for many years”, and herein many of Abe’s purposes are clearly argued in well-proofed English, albeit in all their stiff transparency. Here’s the Table of Contents: […]

    Part travel guide, part geopolitical gaijin handling, part cultural screed (cue those shakuhachis!), “We Are Tomodachi” magazine is a great read to deconstruct how the Abe Administration is trying to march the Post-Bubble discourse on Japan back into the first-generation Postwar discourse. Ah, those were the days, when Japan’s elites had near-total control over Japan’s image in the world, and so few outsiders had any understanding (or or had experienced Japan in great depth) that they would ever be taken seriously by anyone who wasn’t a “real Japanese” (moreover, the handful of NJ who did know something could be co-opted as anointed cultural emissaries; they’re still trying to do it within this very magazine). No, since then millions of people have since experienced Japan beyond the GOJ boilerplate, have lived and invested their lives in Japan, and have learned the Japanese language. So the dialogue is not so easily controlled by the elites anymore. (PM Abe’s Gaijin Handlers: If you’re dropping in on Debito.org again, Yokoso and enjoy our Omotenashi!)

    So, Gaijin Handlers, here’s a lesson on what to avoid next time: What irritates people like us who know better is your cultivated mysticism in elite conversations about anything cultural in Japan. Consider this example of bogus social science (depicted as a “secret”) from page 72:

    =============================
    “The Japanese have a reputation for being taciturn and hard to communicate with. Probably the most difficult part of Japanese communication for people from other countries is the way people here converse wordlessly. When people are standing silently at some natural attraction, they’re using their five senses to feel nature and commune with it. So if you notice some quiet Japanese in such a spot, you might try joining them in their silence, taking in everything around you with all your senses: light, wind, sky, clouds, sounds, smells. Because even when nobody is talking, there is plenty of communication going on in Japan.”
    =============================

    This is a juicy claim for deconstruction under a number of genres of social science. The biggest confusion you’re going to cause in NJ tourists and newbies will come when they confront the amount of noise at many a tourist trap (especially from those trying to “nigiyaka” the place up with their megaphoned music), and wonder how they’re supposed to use all their five senses like the mystical Japanese apparently do. Logically, this also means the purported J-silence around awkward conversations could be due to the inscrutably “shy” Japanese trying to take NJ in with all their five senses too (I wonder what happens when they get to “Smell”, “Touch”, or “Taste”?). What rubbishy analytical tools. And it’s one reason why so many people (Japanese and NJ) go nuts in Japan, because they’re constantly told one thing yet experience another.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Education, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media, Tourism | 20 Comments »