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

mytest

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

I waited until today, when all seats had been awarded (four were decided nearly a day after polls closed). So here goes:

OCTOBER 2017 LOWER HOUSE ELECTION RESULTS

As Japan politics watchers know, Japan is a parliamentary system where the party or coalition with the majority of seats in a legislature forms the governing Cabinet. In Japan’s case, the Lower House is the more powerful one in terms of actual policymaking (even though Japan’s Upper House is already in the hands of Japan’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party, or LDP), so this snap election, called by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo basically on a whim (there wasn’t one due for another two years), was essentially a referendum on whether Japan’s electorate wanted to continue on Abe’s course of probable Constitutional amendment and remilitarization.

The conclusion: Japan’s electorate is basically just fine with Abe’s rightist agenda.

Granted, there was a typhoon getting in the way on election day (although there is no indication that inclement weather affects leftists more than rightists). And there was no real viable opposition to Abe, either. Japan’s left is in complete disarray (given fickle Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko’s “Hope Party” offering little more than re-warmed Abe; Koike wasn’t even in Japan for the election!), with the Democratic Party of Japan completely dissolving from ruling party in 2011 into nonexistence (with right-leaning DPJers being absorbed into the Hope Party, and left-leaning DPJers forming a new “Constitutional Democratic Party” (Rikken Minshutou, or CDP) in clear opposition to Abe’s Constitutional reforms).  And the DPRK repeatedly sending missiles over Japanese waters and land certainly isn’t helping the pacifist point-of-view much.

The point is that Japan’s electorate, which doesn’t generally support underdogs (Why waste your vote on a losing party?, is more the logic), went for Abe and the LDP in general out of habit, default, or tribalism.

Let’s take a look at the numbers, according to Asahi.com (Japanese; click to expand in browser):

HEADLINE RESULTS:
As you can see, the ruling LDP (in red) retained its absolute 2/3 majority beyond 310 seats in the assembly. Its coalition with Sokka Gakkai religious party Komeito (KMT) remains firmly in power, with 284 plus 29 seats for LDP and KMT respectively.

WINNERS AND LOSERS:
The LDP, as mentioned above, won big. But it wasn’t an unqualified win. It retained exactly the same number as last time. However, KMT lost five seats from the 34 it had pre-election.

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

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

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

WHAT DISTRICTS WENT FOR WHOM

One thing I love about Japanese elections (and there are quite a few things I love) is the clarity of the visuals. You can see how people voted in this map of all the single-seat constituencies in the prefectures. Red is ruling coalition, Blue opposition, and Grey independent:

Based upon this, you can see that Western Honshu essentially all went LDP/KMT, big cities Osaka and Fukuoka were solid LDP/KMT with even far-right Restoration making seats. The Kanto conurbation of Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa were somewhat mixed, but mostly Red again. And the only places there was a true mix were Hokkaido (traditionally left-leaning) and Okinawa (which elected one of everything except the CDP and KMT).

OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST WITH THIS ELECTION

1) Horrible, horrible Hokkaido politician Suzuki Muneo finally lost his seat under the PR system. This isn’t the first time this former LDP ideologue has been down and out, but here’s hoping it’s his last.

2) The political dynasty of Hatoyama did not succeed in getting LDP Hatoyama Kunio’s eldest son elected this time. However, the dynasty of racist former Governor Ishihara Shintaro was maintained with the reelection of his sons. Also, the daughter of former PM Obuchi was reelected, further demonstrating the power of generational branding (seshuu seijika) in Japan.

3) Former PM Kan Naoto was reelected in Tokyo. As was firebrand Tsujimoto Kiyomi in Osaka.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS:

This has been the third time (more than that if you also add in Upper House elections) Japan’s has given a sweeping mandate to PM Abe and his Constitution-revising stance.  I guess they’re pretty much okay with it.  There’s still a national referendum to be run on this.  But I reckon it’ll get through, especially if North Korea keeps scaring the Japanese public with missile tests.  And of course, not making any blip whatsoever in the election (aside from Koike requiring new entrants to sign an oath to disenfranchise foreign resident voters) were issues of immigration and internationalization in Japan.

Comments?  Dr. Debito Arudou

PS:  Other writings on Japanese politics:

My Japan Times JBC column 102, Oct 31, 2016: “U.S. and Japan elections: Scary in their own ways

My Japan Times JBC column 101: “US and Japan votes: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Oct 3, 2016)

My Japan Times JBC column 99, For Abe, it will always be about the Constitution, Aug 1, 2016

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

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

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

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 70, “Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S., on how an October 2013 speech in Hawaii by the Abe Administration’s Kitaoka Shin’ichi is a classic case of charm offensive by a Gaijin Handler, floating a constitutional reinterpretation to allow for a standing Japanese military before the American military. (November 7, 2013)

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 66: “Ol’ blue eyes isn’t back: Tsurunen’s tale offers lessons in microcosm for DPJ”, Aug 5, 2013

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 61, “Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan will suffer,” a recounting of how ill a rerun of an Abe Shinzou Prime Ministership portends to be for Japan as a liberal democracy. (February 4, 2013)

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 57, “Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place,” on how the Senkakus and Takeshima Disputes are more than just an official distraction for domestic problems – they are a means to stop crucial liberalizations from taking place within Japanese society. (October 2, 2012)

Japan Focus: “Japan’s Democracy at Risk: LDP’s 10 Most Dangerous Proposals for Constitutional Change” by Lawrence Repeta (UPDATED with Aso’s Nazi admiration gaffe).

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Japan Times JBC 108: “In wake of Charlottesville, U.S. should follow Japan and outlaw hate speech”, Aug 24, 2017

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

In wake of Charlottesville, U.S. should follow Japan and outlaw hate speech
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
THE JAPAN TIMES AUG 23, 2017

Let’s talk about Charlottesville.

As you probably heard, two weeks ago there was a protest in a small Virginia town against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general who defended slavery in the American South. Various hate groups, including white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, assembled there with shields, weapons, fascist flags and anti-Semitic slogans. They were met with counterprotest, and things got violent. A supremacist slammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19.

Charlottesville has shaken hope for a post-racial America to the core. But before readers in Japan breathe a sigh of relief and think, “It couldn’t happen here, not in peaceful Japan,” remember this:

Japan has also had plenty of hate rallies — there was about one per day on average in 2013 and 2014, according to the Justice Ministry. Rightist xenophobes and government-designated hate groups have assembled and held demos nationwide. Bearing signs calling foreign residents “cockroaches,” calling for a Nanking-style massacre of Koreans in an Osaka Koreatown, even advocating the extermination of “all Koreans, good or bad,” Japan’s haters have also used violence (some lethal) against the country’s minorities.

As JBC has argued before (“Osaka’s move on hate speech should be just the first step,” Jan. 31, 2016), freedom of speech is not an absolute. And hate speech is special: It ultimately and necessarily leads to violence, due to the volatile mix of dehumanization with flared tempers.

That’s why Japan decided to do something about it. In 2016 the Diet passed a law against hate speech (albeit limiting it to specifically protect foreign residents). And it has had an effect: Japanese media reports fewer rallies and softer invective.

America, however, hasn’t gotten serious about this. It has no explicit law against hate speech, due to fears about government censorship of freedom of speech. Opponents argue that the only cure is freer speech — that somehow hate will be balanced out by reasonable and rational counter-hate. That persuasion will win out.

But in 2016, it didn’t. Hate speech is precisely how Donald J. Trump got elected president…

Read the rest at: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/08/23/issues/wake-charlottesville-u-s-follow-japan-outlaw-hate-speech/

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  The Government of Japan (GOJ) is at it again — curtailing fundamental civil and human rights for its people and getting nasty if you object to it.  Once upon a time (see below), the GOJ merely denied that Japan is in violation of any of its human rights treaties by giving sophistic counterarguments.  Now, under the ultrarightist Abe Administration, those denials are on steroids, with leading politicians injecting indignant anger into their denialism, even activating the Gaijin Handlers abroad to whitewash optics on Japan’s policies in places like the New York Times.

First, the Japan Times offers a primer on the emerging Conspiracy Bill that received sharp criticism on May 18 by UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy and University of Malta Law Professor Joseph Cannataci, on the heels of criticism from UN Special Rapporteur and UC Irvine Law Professor David Kaye leveled at Japan’s already diminishing press freedoms in a report last year.

From Cannataci’s letter:

“Serious concern is expressed that the proposed bill, in its current form and in combination with other legislation, may affect the exercise of the right to privacy as well as other fundamental public freedoms given its potential broad application.  In particular I am concerned by the risks of arbitrary application of this legislation given the vague definition of what would constitute the ‘planning’ and ‘preparatory actions’ and given the inclusion of an overbroad range of crimes in the Appendix which are apparently unrelated to terrorism and organized crime.” (Full letter from Cannataci’s letter to the Japanese government, dated May 18, 2017.)

From Kaye’s introduction:

“I learned of deep and genuine concern that trends are moving sharply and alarmingly in the wrong direction. This is especially acute in the context of media independence. Japan has well-earned pride in a Constitution that expressly protects the freedom of the press. Yet the independence of the press is facing serious threats: a weak system of legal protection, persistent Government exploitation of a media lacking in professional solidarity, and the recent adoption of the Specially Designated Secrets Act are all combining to impose what I perceive to be significant challenges especially to the mainstream media, where the vast majority of Japanese citizens get their news. Numerous journalists, many agreeing to meet with me only on condition of anonymity to protect their livelihoods, highlighted the pressure to avoid sensitive areas of public interest. Many claimed to have been sidelined or silenced following indirect pressure from leading politicians. A country with such strong democratic foundations should resist and protect against such interference.”  (Full text of Kaye’s report at the UN OHCHR website:  “Preliminary observations by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression“, dated 19 April 2016.

After the Japan Times article, let’s look at how the New York Times reports on the Conspiracy Bill, and how the GOJ quickly responds with its Gaijin Handlers.

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

(More on Debito.org regarding prior UN Rapporteur reactions to Japan’s human rights issues, with Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene and Special Rapporteur Jorge Bustamante (here and here).)

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Abe government clashes with U.N. rapporteurs critical of Japan (excerpt)
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, THE JAPAN TIMES, MAY 31, 2017, courtesy of JDG
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/31/national/abe-government-clashes-u-n-rapporteurs-critical-japan/

Weeks after a U.N. special rapporteur released a surprise open letter slamming a state-backed conspiracy bill that critics warn could erode privacy and free speech rights, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has shown no sign of letting up on its targeting of the statement.

If anything, it has been hellbent on discrediting what it claims was an “inappropriate” rebuke by the United Nations expert.

Tokyo’s ongoing clash with Joseph Cannataci, a U.N.-commissioned expert on the right to privacy, is reminiscent of a similar war of words it has fought with U.N. special rapporteurs in recent years. Many of the probes by those officials into the human rights situation in Japan have led to conclusions often at odds with the government line…

As he spoke to the Upper House plenary session on Monday, Abe openly blasted Cannataci’s assessment as “extremely unbalanced” and said his behavior was “hardly that of an objective expert.”

On Tuesday, his Cabinet approved three official statements condemning the official’s letter, which it claimed was drawn up “based on misunderstanding” and without the government ever being afforded an opportunity to thoroughly explain to him about the proposed legal revision.

In these statements, the Cabinet reiterated the government position that Cannataci’s critique did not reflect U.N. views. Prior to these statements, Tokyo had swiftly lodged a direct protest over the issue with the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva.

“When there is a misunderstanding of facts, it is of course our position that we get our message across,” said a senior Foreign Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

On Wednesday, the government’s position was on full display when Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda launched into a separate attack against another U.N. special rapporteur’s criticism of the government.

Hagiuda said it was “extremely regrettable that the government position was not fully reflected” in a report issued Tuesday by David Kaye, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression. In his report, Kaye had pointed out “significant worrying signals” for Japan’s freedom of expression.

[Kaye’s criticism: While welcoming government efforts to clarify the four specific categories under which information may be designated as secret — defense, diplomacy, prevention of specified harmful activities and prevention of terrorist activities — Kaye warned that “specific subcategories remain overly broad” and thus involve the risk of being arbitrarily applied.

Regarding government pressure on media, Kaye raised concerns over the broadcasting law and particularly its Article 4, which provides the basis for the government to suspend broadcasting licenses if TV stations are not “politically fair.”

Kaye said that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications “should not be in the position of determining what is fair.” (Source)]

“Government evaluation of such broadly stated norms would lead to deterrence of the media’s freedom to serve as a watchdog, if it is not already creating such disincentives to reporting,” he added.

In yet another incident, the Foreign Ministry lodged a strident protest with special rapporteur Maud de Boer-Buquicchio in 2015 over what it labeled a factually dubious claim that “13 percent of Japan’s schoolgirls have engaged in compensated dating (enjo kosai).”

According to the OHCHR website, special rapporteurs are independent human rights experts who “are appointed by the Human Rights Council and serve in their personal capacities,” with mandates to report and advise on human rights. They are not U.N. staff members and receive no financial remuneration, it says.

In this regard, the government assertion that Cannataci’s letter does not represent the U.N. stance is “valid,” said Ichiro Kawabe, a professor of U.N. studies at Aichi University. But at the same time, he said, these experts’ commentaries are not hostile in nature and are designed to foster constructive discussions on human rights issues.

“Being a developed country, Japan is in a position to improve the global standards of human rights. So what it should be doing is not to overreact to what it considers to be a factual error every chance it gets, but listen humbly to what the experts have to say,” Kawabe said, adding that he was not aware of any other developed nation that had protested against special rapporteurs so vociferously and consistently as Japan…

In slamming Kaye’s preliminary report on freedom of expression, a circle of conservative scholars in Japan last month released an open letter questioning his methods. In it, the group alleged his report was “based on interviews with a limited number of journalists when he visited Japan for just one week” and that “the academic analysis is sorely lacking.”

This claim, however, failed to note that Kaye did meet government representatives to hear their side of the issue, as well. ENDS

Full JT article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/31/national/abe-government-clashes-u-n-rapporteurs-critical-japan/

Now for the New York Times article:

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Conspiracy Bill Advances in Japan Despite Surveillance Fears
By MOTOKO RICH, THE NEW YORK TIMES, MAY 23, 2017
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/world/asia/japan-anti-terror-conspiracy-abe.html

TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan won a crucial vote in the House of Representatives on Tuesday on an anti-conspiracy bill that he said was needed to fight terrorism but that critics feared could give the authorities broad surveillance powers over citizens.

With protesters gathered outside the country’s lower house of Parliament in Tokyo, Mr. Abe’s party and its allies approved a bill that would make it a crime to conspire with others to commit terrorism and a raft of other crimes.

Speaking before the vote, Hiroshi Hiraguchi, a member of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, expressed condolences for the victims of a suicide bombing that killed 22 people at a concert in Britain on Monday. He said that the bill was needed to help Japan fulfill “the grave responsibility” of hosting the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Mr. Abe’s party called for the vote even as a United Nations expert on human rights accused the government of rushing the measure without sufficient debate on appropriate safeguards for privacy and free speech.

Joseph Cannataci, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to privacy, wrote to Mr. Abe warning that the bill, if adopted, could “lead to undue restrictions to the rights to privacy and to freedom of expression.”

A day before the lower house voted, Mr. Abe’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, lashed out against Mr. Cannataci’s letter, calling it “clearly inappropriate” and dismissing the special rapporteur’s concerns. The Japanese government also lodged an official protest with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Mr. Abe has repeatedly argued that Japan needs to pass the bill in order to ratify a United Nations convention on international organized crime originally signed in 2000, as well as to protect Japan from terrorism in the run-up to the 2020 Olympics.

This was not the first time Mr. Abe pushed for legislation over public opposition. Two years ago, the government defied mass public protests and passed a package of security-related bills authorizing limited overseas combat missions for the country’s military for the first time since World War II. The Japanese anti-conspiracy bill also comes as the Chinese government is considering an intelligence law that would allow its authorities to monitor both foreign and domestic suspects.

Recent polls show the Japanese public is split over the anti-conspiracy bill, but more than three-quarters said the government had not sufficiently explained why it needed to pass the legislation. The bill is expected to go before the upper house of Parliament for final passage before the current legislative session ends in mid-June. Mr. Abe’s party and its allies have a two-thirds majority in both houses.

In an email, Mr. Cannataci said the government should take more time to discuss and amend the bill to include more safeguards for privacy and freedom of speech.

“This is the time for the government of Japan to sit back for a minute, reflect, realize that it can do things in a better way and then proceed to behave like a world-class democracy by taking the time necessary” to modify the bill, he wrote.

In a country where terrorism is extremely rare, critics say that the bill is far too vague in defining terrorism and that the list of crimes subject to possible surveillance was arbitrary.

An appendix to the bill includes unlicensed bike racing, copyright infringement and stealing plants from forest preserves, exposing those involved in the planning of such activities to prosecution.

Such crimes, critics say, seem to have little to do with terrorism. They say the bill would merely give the government wide latitude to put people under surveillance.

“There are no apparent reasons certain crimes are covered and others are not,” said Koichi Nakano, a political scientist at Sophia University in Tokyo.

Mr. Nakano said that because people might be worried about the government trawling emails, text messages and social media posts for evidence of criminal conspiracy, anyone who protests government policies might be reluctant to speak out.

“There will be more self-censorship in a country where there is already not a very vibrant civil society,” he said.

Although Japanese law requires the police to obtain warrants to install wiretaps on phones, the courts almost always grant such requests.

As a result, opponents of the bill say that it could strip citizens of their rights to privacy in the name of preventing terrorism. Japan has had few major terrorist attacks since 1995, when members of a cult killed 13 and sickened more than 5,800 in a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway.

“How far are we willing to sacrifice our privacy is the question,” said Kenta Yamada, a journalism professor at Senshu University in Tokyo. “We may possibly get into the world of ‘1984,’” he said, referring to the dystopian novel by George Orwell in which citizens are constantly under surveillance.

Concerns about the bill were stirred during testimony by Japan’s justice minister, Katsutoshi Kaneda, when he gave examples of the kinds of activities that might cause the authorities to suspect that an individual or group was planning a crime. In one instance, Mr. Kaneda suggested that someone visiting a park with a map and binoculars could be suspected of plotting a terrorist attack.

“It’s so vague that it allows the police to justify whatever they do,” said Kanako Takayama, a professor of criminal law at Kyoto University. “If you buy a pair of scissors, that may be viewed as preparing for a crime.”

But supporters of the bill said the opposition and the news media had inflated the justice minister’s comments rather than focusing on the content of the bill. “They just enjoy picking up the funny things of the minister who cannot explain things very well,” said Keijiro Kimura, a lawyer in Osaka who supported the bill.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Mr. Hiraguchi, the lawmaker, said that the bill was explicitly limited to “organized crime groups.”

“It is further clear that common people will not be the target of punishment stipulated by this legislation,” Mr. Hiraguchi said.

But the United Nations special rapporteur, Mr. Cannataci, said in an email that the bill was “defective.”

“With great power comes great responsibility,” Mr. Cannataci wrote. “Yet this bill is not accompanied by a stiffening of measures intended to safeguard privacy. Other rights like freedom of speech and freedom of association are likewise not reinforced.”

Opposition lawmakers said that the governing party had stifled debate and that the legislation needed more public input.

The Japanese people deserve to “decide for themselves where they want their freedoms restricted in order to protect their security,” said Shiori Yamao, a member of the opposition Democratic Party. ENDS

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

And here’s the response from the Gaijin Handlers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

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

The New York Times Opinion Pages | LETTER
Japan and an Anti-Conspiracy Bill
JUNE 1, 2017
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/opinion/japan-and-an-anti-conspiracy-bill.html

To the Editor:

Re “Anti-Conspiracy Bill Advances in Japan” (news article, May 24):

Concluding the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, or Untoc, is a pressing issue for Japan, as we prepare to play host to major events, particularly the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Although Japan signed the convention, domestic laws do not fulfill the obligations of the treaty, impeding Japan from concluding it.

After recent terrorist attacks in Britain, Sweden and Belgium, last week in Sicily the G-7 leaders called for more cooperation to implement international agreements, including Untoc.

Updating domestic laws and concluding the treaty will allow Japan to fill an international legal loophole and contribute to preventing organized crime, including terrorism. Yury Fedotov, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, has welcomed Japan’s efforts in this regard.

Regarding claims of surveillance fears, the proposed provision criminalizing an act of planning and preparation to commit terrorism and other serious crimes will apply only to “organized criminal groups,” and the listed crimes to which the provision may apply are rigorously limited to those likely to be committed by such groups.

Few other countries limit the scope of the law as strictly as Japan does.

NORIO MARUYAMA, TOKYO

The writer is press secretary for the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s a story that people have been talking about for quite some time in the Comments section of Debito.org (but sandbagged by other projects, I haven’t quite gotten to until now, thanks to this good round-up article by Dr. David McNeill):  Schools fostering ultra-rightist narratives even from a kindergarten age.

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

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

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

Japan’s Shinzo Abe under fire over ultra-right school
PM accused of giving sweetheart deal to school with ties to hard-right lobby group
David McNeill in Tokyo. The Irish Times, Feb 23, 2017
http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/asia-pacific/japan-s-shinzo-abe-under-fire-over-ultra-right-school-1.2986573

PHOTO: Shinzo Abe with Donald Trump: The Japanse prime minister has offered to resign if his involvement in the school controversy is confirmed. Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times

Lingering suspicions about far-right ties to Japan’s government have surfaced again in a row about an alleged sweetheart deal for the operator of an ultra-nationalist kindergarten.

Under fire in parliament, prime minister Shinzo Abe, one of Japan’s longest-serving leaders, said he would step down if his involvement in the deal is substantiated.

The private kindergarten in Osaka has its 3-5-year-old students memorise a 19th-century edict that was used to indoctrinate youngsters during the second World War. Children at the school chant patriotic slogans in front of pictures of the emperor, including: “Should emergencies arise, offer yourselves courageously to the state.”

Its operator, Moritomo Gakuen, was recently investigated under hate speech laws after publishing ethnic slurs of Korean and Chinese people, who it dubbed shinajin – roughly meaning “chink”.

Opposition politicians have singled out the sale of a plot of land last year to Mr Gakuen [sic] by the government in Osaka Prefecture at a fraction of the appraised price.

A primary school is being built on the 8,770sq m plot. Mr Abe’s wife, Akie, will be its honorary principal when it opens in April. The prime minister’s name was allegedly used to solicit donations.

Below list price
Yasunori Kagoike, the president of the kindergarten, has denied that the million yen (€1.1 million) paid for the plot last June, far below its list price of million yen, was too cheap.

The school says the cost of cleaning up arsenic and other contamination found on the site explains the whopping discount. “We have done things open and above board,” Mr Kagoike said this week.

The controversy has thrown a spotlight on Nippon Kaigi, or Japan Charter, a nationalist lobby group with close ties to the government. Mr Kagoike leads a local chapter of the group.

About a third of the Diet (parliament) and more than half of Mr Abe’s 19-member cabinet support Nippon Kaigi. Mr Abe is a specialist adviser to its parliamentary league.

Like followers of US president Donald Trump, members of Nippon Kaigi want to “take back” their country from the liberal forces that they believe are destroying it. The group’s goals include building up the nation’s military forces, instilling patriotism in the young, and revising much of the pre-war Meiji constitution.

Blatantly revisionist
Critics say its charter is a shopping list of blatantly revisionist causes: applaud Japan’s wartime “liberation” of east Asia from western colonialism; rebuild the armed forces; inculcate patriotism among students brainwashed by left-wing teachers; and revere the emperor as he was worshipped before the war.

Mr Abe has denied that he or his wife were involved in the land sale or that he gave permission for his name to be used, though both have praised the curriculum offered by the kindergarten.

Responding to questions from opposition politicians last Friday, Mr Abe said he did not know that donations were being solicited for a “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe” memorial elementary school.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” he said, adding that he would “quit as prime minister and as a Diet member” if found to have been involved in the scandal.

ENDS

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

Japan PM’s wife cuts ties with school at heart of political furor
Reuters, February 24, 2017, By Kaori Kaneko and Linda Sieg | TOKYO
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-politics-abe-idUSKBN16308L?il=0

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife has cut ties with an elementary school involved in a land deal that provoked opposition questions just as the Japanese leader was basking in the glow of a friendly summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Abe has said neither he nor his wife, Akie, was involved in a murky deal for the purchase of state-owned land by Moritomo Gakuen, an educational body in the western city of Osaka that also runs a kindergarten promoting patriotism.

The affair has energized the often-floundering opposition, offering a reminder of the unexpected pitfalls that could still emerge for Abe’s seemingly stable rule, now in its fifth year.

Abe, grilled about the purchase of the land at a rock-bottom price, said on Friday his wife would scrap a plan to become honorary principal of an elementary school the institution will open in April.

Last year, Moritomo Gakuen paid 134 million yen ($1.2 million), or 14 percent of the appraisal price, for an 8,770-sq-m (94,400-square-foot) plot on which to build the elementary school, official data show.

The difference reflects the cost of waste cleanup at the site, officials have said. Finance Minister Taro Aso told parliament this week there were no problems with the deal.

Abe said his wife had tried to refuse the role as honorary principal, and only accepted after it was announced to parents.

“Despite this, she decided that it would be detrimental for both the students and the parents if she continued, and so she told them she would resign,” he added.

OPPOSITION ENERGIZED

The institution’s president, Yasunori Kagoike, heads the Osaka branch of Nippon Kaigi, or Japan Conference, a nationalist lobby group with close ties to Abe and his cabinet.

On the school’s website, Akie had said: “I was impressed by Mr. Kagoike’s passion for education and have assumed the post of honorary principal.”

Abe said the comments were removed from the website on Thursday at his wife’s request.

Abe reiterated that he had declined to let his name be used when Moritomo Gakuen sought donations for what it called the “Abe Shinzo Memorial Elementary School”.

He has also denied that either he or his wife was involved in obtaining approval for the school, or in the land acquisition, saying last Friday that he would resign if evidence to the contrary were found.

The main opposition Democratic Party has seized on the affair. “The prime minister is talking as if he were the victim, but it is the people who should be angry,” Democratic Party lawmaker Kiyomi Tsujimoto told reporters.

His cabinet this time has lost several ministers to money scandals, but Abe himself has been untainted by scandal.

Abe’s approval rating rose five points to 66 percent in a media survey after his summit with Trump, where the leaders hugged, golfed and reaffirmed the U.S.-Japan alliance.

But his popularity could take a hit if the scandal continues to preoccupy the media, some political analysts said.

“The thing that makes a scandal really serious is when it keeps getting headlines,” said Chuo University political science professor Steven Reed.

ENDS

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

BACKGROUND ARTICLE:

Reuters LIFESTYLE | Thu Dec 8, 2016 | 8:25pm EST
Japanese kindergarten teaches students pre-war ideals
By Kwiyeon Ha | TOKYO
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-education-idUSKBN13X1UV

(NB:  Do check out the link for its visuals; must see.)

At first glance, the Tsukamoto kindergarten looks like any other school in Japan, but its unique curriculum is reminiscent of pre-war Japan.

The private school, which has been visited by Akie Abe, wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, aims to instil in its 3- to 5-year-old students a sense of patriotism with a curriculum focused on Japanese traditions and culture.

Its mornings start with uniformed children singing the national anthem in front of the country’s flag and reciting in stilted Japanese the pre-war Imperial Rescript on Education, containing commandments set out in 1890 to nurture “ideal” citizens under the Emperor Meiji. These embody Confucian virtues and demanded devotion to the emperor and sacrifice for the country.

“Be filial to your parents, affectionate to your brothers and sisters,” they chant. “Should emergencies arise, offer yourselves courageously to the state.”

After World War Two, occupying U.S. forces abolished the rescript, which many saw as a source of the obedience and moral certitude that helped fuel Japanese militarism.

In 1947, the postwar government passed the Fundamental Law on Education to bolster the liberal and democratic values of the postwar pacifist constitution.

Tsukamoto kindergarten, in Osaka, introduced the rescript 15 years ago, although school officials say it is not intended to fuel nationalism.

“What we’re aiming to foster in education is patriotism or ‘Japanese-ism’, expanding Japan’s spirit all over the world, not so-called nationalism. These are totally different,” said Yasunori Kagoike, principal of the kindergarten.

PHOTO:  A student stops to bow to a portrait of Japanese former Emperor Hirohito and Empress Kojun at Tsukamoto kindergarten in Osaka, Japan, November 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ha Kwiyeon

Kagoike heads the Osaka branch of Nippon Kaigi, or Japan Conference, a nationalist lobby group with close ties to Abe and his Cabinet and for which education reform is a key tenet.

PROTECTING THE NATION

Cultural activities at the school, where the walls are lined with images of the imperial family to which students bow throughout the day, include learning traditional Japanese musical instruments, martial arts and board games. Students also take trips to military bases.

Kagoike said he hopes other schools will adopt their curriculum so children are prepared to protect their nation against potential threats from other countries.

“If an imperialist nation is trying to harm Japan, we need to fight against it. For that, revising Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution is indeed necessary and should be carried out as soon as possible,” he said.

Article 9 of the U.S.-drafted constitution renounces war and, if read literally, bans the maintenance of armed forces, although Japan’s military, called the Self-Defense Forces, has over 200,000 personnel and is equipped with high-tech weapons.

Revising the constitution is one of the key policy targets of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party. His government has already stretched its limits to give the military a bigger role.

Using an analogy of stopping a burglar getting into the house, teacher Chinami Kagoike – the principal’s daughter – said she teaches students it is necessary to fight against such threats to protect themselves and their families.

“Strengthening Japan would be subject to severe criticism from various countries,” she said. “But instead of pulling away from this, I teach children that the Japanese government has clearly demonstrated its will, so you also need to break silence and go forward and say you want to protect your family.”

The kindergarten plans to open a primary school next year and Akie Abe will be the honorary principal, according to school brochures.

Michael Cucek, an adjunct professor at Temple University’s Tokyo campus, said Abe’s wife is often seen as a proxy for the prime minister, who during his first, 2006-2007 term oversaw the revision of the education law to put patriotism back in school curricula.

ENDS

——————————–

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

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Book Review in Pacific Affairs Journal
http://www.pacificaffairs.ubc.ca/book-reviews/book-reviews-2/forthcoming-book-reviews/ (page down)

EMBEDDED RACISM: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination. By Debito Arudou. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2015. xxvi, 349 pp. (Tables, figures.) US$110.00, cloth. ISBN 978-1-4985-1390-6.

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

Arudou draws on a quarter-century of research involving personal interviews, action research, and cataloguing, to highlight micro-level observations that illuminate the broader macro-level structural workings of the racialized dimensions of what it means to be “Japanese” in Japan. The contribution of this book is not only in its richness of information, but also in Arudou’s focus on a paradoxical blind spot in both the quotidian status quo understandings of and academic discourses on racialized social dynamics in Japan: the invisibility of visible minorities. Borrowing from Critical Race Theory (CRT), and applying its analytical paradigms present in Whiteness Studies to the case of Japan, Arudou argues that “the same dynamics can be seen in the Japanese example, by substituting ‘White’ with ‘Japanese’” (322-323). He introduces the concept of embedded racism to describe the deeply internalized understandings of “Japaneseness” that structurally permeate the psyche and sociolegal elements of Japanese society, resulting in systemic discriminatory treatments of individuals based on visible differences.

Instead of defining the Self/Other binary in oft-conceptualized terms of citizenship, he uses an original Wajin/non-Wajin heuristic. By original Wajin, he refers to visually identifiable “Japanese” who are members of Japan’s dominant and privileged majority, and for non-Wajin he refers to both invisible (e.g., ethnic minorities who can pass as “Japanese”) and visible (Gaijin, foreigners and naturalized Japanese citizens who do not “look Japanese”) minorities who are not members of Japan’s dominant and privileged majority. He uses this heuristic to parse out the nuanced sociolegal-structural logics that differentiate between not only citizens and non-citizens, but also non-citizens who can phenotypically pass as “Japanese” and citizens who cannot, in which the former is often given preferential sociolegal treatment, and the latter is often subject to overt racial discrimination.

More specifically, the book opens with a theoretical primer on race and the universal processes of racialization and nation-state formation. The author then critiques how studies on Japan often suffer from flawed conceptualizations of foreignness, viewing it as a function of either ethnic differences within the Asian-phenotype community or legal membership status, thereby overlooking overt discrimination against visible minorities that are racial in nature.

The first chapter contextualizes racial discrimination in Japan and explicates Arudou’s usage of the concept of visible minority and his theory of embedded racism in the context of Japan. The second chapter then addresses the historical roots of extant racialized understandings of “Japaneseness” by tracing national self-image narratives that Arudou argues undergird the dynamics of present-day treatments of foreigners in Japan. The next chapter surveys approximately 470 cases of establishments that have engaged in racialized refusals of entry and services and three civil court lawsuits, to demonstrate that “Japaneseness” is determined by racialized paradigms such as physical appearances (37–38).

In chapter 4, Arudou explains how Japanese nationality laws, family and resident registries, and policing regulations/practices constitute the legal underpinnings of the racialized “Japanese” identity, and asserts that Japan’s legal definition of a “Japanese citizen” is closely intertwined with “Japanese bloodlines” (11). The following chapter shifts the focus to how “Japaneseness” is enforced through exclusionary education laws, visa (residence status) regimes, and racial profiling in security policing. This chapter is supplemented with chapter 6, which highlights differential judicial treatments of those who are seen as “Japanese,” and those who are not. Chapter 7 details how media representations of “foreigners” and “Japanese” as well as the criminalization of “foreigners” popularize the racialized narratives of “Japaneseness” established by the processes discussed in chapters 4 to 6.

Chapter 8 shifts gears as Arudou turns his attention to domestic civil society and international criticisms of Japan’s embedded racism, and discusses the government’s passive reactions. Arudou traces the correspondence between the government and the (CERD) before and during its first two CERD report reviews in 2001 and 2010 (but not the most recent CERD review in 2014). Chapter 9 then takes two binaries that can be used to understand how sociolegal distinctions of “Japaneseness” are often made—by nationality (citizen/non-citizen) and by visual identification (Wajin/Gaijin)—and superimposes them to form a heuristic matrix of eleven categories of “Japanese” and “foreigner.” The author thus drives his point across that social privilege and power in Japan are drawn along lines that straddle conceptual understandings of and assumptions about both legal and phenotypical memberships. The book concludes with a final chapter on the implications of embedded racism for Japan’s future as an ageing society, and argues that Japan’s demographic predicament could be mitigated if Japan can begin eliminating its racism to create a more inclusive society for all.

The book does not touch on the voices and local/community advocacy initiatives among and on behalf of visible minorities, and stops short of systematically testing how the proposed heuristic matrix and its combinations of characteristics empirically lead to differential treatment. However, it does cover a lot of ground, and would be of interest to a wide audience, from the casual reader interested in learning about the racial dynamics in Japan, to researchers with area studies interests in Japan and/or substantive field interests in international migration, ethnic and race studies, citizenship and human rights, and advocacy politics at both the domestic and international levels. Arudou argues that Japan’s passive stance to addressing racial discrimination is “the canary in the coal mine” regarding its openness to “outsiders” (xxiii), and by starting this conversation, he addresses “the elephant in the room” that needs to be reckoned with for Japan to navigate its way through its impending demographic challenges.

— Ralph Ittonen Hosoki, University of California, Irvine, USA

Ends


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

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

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

Print version at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/01/08/issues/japans-human-rights-issues-fared-better-2016/

Version with links to sources follows

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

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

We’ve named and shamed this before (“Downloadable Discrimination,” Zeit Gist, March 30, 2004). From Feb. 16, 2004, Japan’s Immigration Bureau had websites where anyone could anonymously rat on foreigners for any reason whatsoever — including (as a preset option) the xenophobic “repugnance and anxiety” (ken-o fuan). This occasioned calls for abolition from rights groups, including Amnesty International, and government leaders. As the Japan Federation of Bar Associations pointed out in 2005, “The program has ordinary citizens essentially spying on people suspected of being illegal aliens, which serves only to advance prejudice and discrimination toward foreigners.”

Yet Japan’s police “see no evil” when it suits them. According to the Asahi in 2015, the sites were being inundated with hate emails “slandering” Japan’s Zainichi generational Korean community. Immigration suddenly realized that false leads from trolls were a waste of time. Yep, we told you so more than a decade ago. Glad it sunk in.

9 Priyanka Yoshikawa wins Miss World Japan

This year showed us that 2015 was not a fluke. In 2015, multiethnic American-Japanese Ariana Miyamoto won the Miss Universe Japan competition as Japan’s first biracial national beauty queen. In 2016, Indian-Japanese Priyanka Yoshikawa was elected to represent Japan despite protests about whether she is a “real” Japanese. Although these events are cheer-worthy because they demonstrate that “Japaneseness” is not purely a matter of looks, they’re more important because the women’s stories of being “different” have highlighted their struggles for acceptance. When the domestic media bothers to report them, that is.

The discussion has mostly been a shallow one about “looks.” Sadly, this is par for the course. As I said to ABC NewsRadio Australia, “Why do we keep doing these 19th-century rituals? Demeaning women by putting them on a stage, making them do debasing things, and then saying, ‘This is a standard of beauty that is or is not Japanese?’ How about we just call it what it is: incitement to superficial judgment of people not as individuals but by physical appearance?” Progress made, yes, but the real progress will be when beauty pageants stop entirely.

8 Japan’s multiethnic citizens score at 2016 Olympics

Similarly, Japan’s athletes have long been scrutinized for their “foreignness.” If they are “half” or even naturalized, their “foreignness” becomes a factor no matter what.

If they do badly, “It’s the foreigners’ fault.” As seen when Japan’s men’s rugby team lost in 2011 and the nation’s rugby union criticized coach John Kirwan for using “too many foreign players” (including naturalized former NJ). The team was then ethnically cleansed. When multiethnic Japanese figure skaters Chris and Cathy Reed underperformed in 2014, Tokyo 2020 Olympics Chair Yoshiro Mori essentially labeled them leftovers, bashing them (mistakenly) as “naturalized citizens” who couldn’t make the U.S. Team.

But if they do well, they get celebrated. Remember October 2015, when Brave Blossoms, the men’s rugby team, scored an upset over South Africa, and their players’ enhanced physical strength was attributed to their multiethnicity? Suddenly the fact that many players didn’t “look Japanese” (11 were even born outside Japan) was no problem.

Same when Japanese athletes did well in Rio last year. Prominent performances by multiethnic Japanese, including Mashu Baker (Gold in Judo); members of Japan’s Rugby Sevens (the men’s team came in fourth); other members of Japan’s soccer, basketball and athletics teams; and most prominently, runner Asuka Cambridge (who missed out on Gold only to Usain Bolt) made it clear that hybrid Japanese help Japan in sports. If only people would stop putting up the extra hurdle of attributing success or failure to race.

7 Renho Murata takes helm of the Democratic Party

After years of tired leftist politics with stale or uninspiring leaders, last September the main opposition Democratic Party made young and dynamic Taiwanese-Japanese politician Renho Murata its leader. It was the first time a multiethnic Japanese has ever helmed a major party, and immediately there were full-throated doubts about her loyalties. Media and politicos brought up Renho’s alleged ties to untrustworthy China (even though Taiwan and China are different countries; even the Ministry of Justice said that Taiwanese in Japan are not under PRC law), or that she had technically naturalized (Renho was born before Japanese citizenship could legally pass through her mother) but had not renounced her dual citizenship, which wasn’t an issue when she was a Cabinet member, nor when former Peruvian President and dual citizen Alberto Fujimori ran for a Diet seat in 2007 (Zeit Gist, May 5, 2009).

Whatever. Renho has proven herself a charismatic leader with an acerbic wit, ready to ask difficult and pointed questions of decision makers. She famously did so in 2009, during deliberations to fund the “world’s most powerful computer,’ when she asked, “What’s wrong with being number two?” The project still passed, but demanding potential boondoggles justify themselves is an important job. The fact that Renho is not cowed by tough questions herself is good for a country, which with 680,000 Japanese dual citizens deserves fresh unfettered talent with international backgrounds.

6 Abubakar Awudu Suraj case loses once and for all

This has made the JBC annual Top 10 several times, because it’s a test case of accountability when NJ die in official custody. In 2010, Ghanaian visa overstayer Abubakar Awudu Suraj was so “brutally” (according to this newspaper) restrained during deportation that he was asphyxiated. Suraj’s widow, unsuccessfully seeking justice through Japan’s criminal justice system, won civil damages from the Immigration Bureau in a 2014 Tokyo District Court decision. However, last January, the Tokyo High Court overturned this, deciding that the lethal level of physical force was “not illegal” — it was even “necessary” — and concluded that the authorities were “not culpable.” Suraj’s widow took it to the Supreme Court, but the appeal was rejected last November.

Conclusion: Life is cheap in Japan’s Immigration detention systems (Reuters last year reported more NJ deaths in custody due to official negligence). And now our judiciary has spoken: If NJ suffer from a lethal level of force — sorry, are killed by police — nobody is responsible.

5 2016 Upper house elections seal Shinzo Abe’s mandate

Past JBC columns on Japan’s right-wing swing anticipated that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would capitalize on the left’s disarray and take Japan’s imagined community back to an imagined past. Sure enough, winning the Upper House elections last July and solidifying a majority in both houses of Parliament, he accomplished this hat trick. Since then, Abe’s popular support, according to the Asahi, remains at near record-highs (here and here). There’s even talk of changing the rules so he can be PM beyond his mandated five-year term.

That’s it then, really. Everything we feared his administration would do since 2012 is all coming to pass: the dismissing of universal human rights as a “Western concept,” the muzzling and intimidation of the press under a vague state secrets act, the deliberate destabilization of East Asia over petty territorial disputes, the enfranchising of historical denialism through a far-right cabal of elites, the emboldening of domestic xenophobia to accomplish remilitarization, the resurgence of enforced patriotism in Japan’s education system, the further exploitation of foreign workers under an expanded “trainee” program, and the forthcoming fundamental abrogation of Japan’s “Peace Constitution.”

Making Japan “great” again, similar to what’s happening in the United States under President-elect Donald Trump, has been going on for the past four years. With no signs of it abating.

4 Next generation of “Great Gaijin Massacres” loom

In April 2013, Japan’s Labor Contracts Law was amended to state that companies, after five years of continuous contract renewals, must hire their temporary workers as “regular employees” (seishain). Meant to stop employers from hiring people perpetually on insecure contract jobs (“insecure” because employees are easily fired by contract nonrenewal), it is having the opposite effect: Companies are inserting five-year caps in contracts to avoid hiring people for real. Last November, The Japan Times reported on the “Tohoku University job massacre,” where 3,200 contract workers are slated to be fired en masse in 2017.

JBC sees this as yet another “Gaijin as Guinea Pig” scenario (ZG, July 8, 2008). This happened in Japanese academia for generations: Known as “Academic Apartheid,” foreign full-time scholars received perpetual contract employment while Japanese full-time scholars received permanent uncontracted tenure from day one. This unequal status resulted in the “Great Gaijin Massacre” of 1992-4, where the Ministry of Education (MOE) told National and Public Universities not to renew the contracts of foreigners over the age of 35 as a cost-cutting measure. Then from 1997, the MOE encouraged contract employment be expanded to Japanese full-time educators. From 2018, it will be expanded to the nonacademic private sector. It’s a classic case of Martin Niemoller’s “First they came …” poem: Denying equal rights to part of the population eventually got normalized and applied to everyone.

3 The government surveys NJ discrimination

Japan has been suddenly cognizant of “foreigner discrimination” this year. Not “racial discrimination,” of course, but baby steps. The Asahi kicked things off in January by reporting that 42 percent of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward encountered some form of discrimination, and nearly 52 percent of that was in finding apartments. Glad to have the stats, albeit localized.

Then the Ministry of Justice’s Bureau of Human Rights conducted its first-ever nationwide survey of discrimination toward longer-term NJ residents by mailing them a detailed multilingual survey (available at www.debito.org/?p=14298), asking questions specifically about unequal treatment in housing, employment, education, social situations, etc. It even mentioned the establishment of “laws and regulations prohibiting discrimination against foreigners” (not a law against discrimination by race, natch).

Although this survey is well-intentioned, it still has two big blind spots: It depicted discrimination as 1) due to extranationality, not physical appearance, and 2) done by Japanese people, not the government through systemic racism embedded in Japan’s laws and systems (see my book “Embedded Racism” for more). As such, the survey won’t resolve the root problems fundamental to Japan’s very identity as an ethnostate.

2 Blowback involving NJ tourism and labor

Japan’s oft-touted sense of “selfless hospitality” (omotenashi) is an odd thing. We are seeing designated “foreigner taxis” at Kyoto Station (with a segregated stop), “foreign driver” stickers on Hokkaido and Okinawa rental cars stigmatizing NJ tourists (and NJ residents touring), and media grumblings about ill-mannered Chinese crowding stores, spending scads of money (diddums!) and leaving behind litter. (Japan’s tourist sites were of course sparkling clean before foreigners showed up. Not.)

Then there’s the omnipresent threat of terrorism, depicted for years now by the government as something imported by foreigners into a formerly “safe Japan” (although all terrorist acts so far in Japan have been homegrown). To that end, 2016 was when Japan’s Supreme Court explicitly approved police surveillance of Muslim residents due to their religion. (What’s next? Surveilling foreign residents due to their extranationality?)

Yet foreigners are a necessary evil. Japan still needs them to do its dirty work in the construction, manufacturing, agriculture, fishery and nursing sectors. So this year the foreign “trainee” work program was expanded, along with measures against abuses. About time — bad things, including NJ slavery and child labor have been happening for decades, with the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry acknowledging that about 70 percent of employers hiring “trainees” engage in illegal labor practices. Omotenashi has been counterweighted by government-sponsored exploitation of NJ, and now with the upcoming 2020 Olympics, there’s plenty more dirty work out there.

And after all this, 2016 offered one big bright spot:

1 Hate speech law gets passed — and enforced

Japan’s first law protecting “foreigners” from group denigration in public was passed nationwide in May. JBC (Feb. 1) heralded it as a step in the right direction. Critics quickly pointed out its shortcomings: It doesn’t actually ban hate speech, or have penalties for violators, and it only covers people of overseas origin “who live legally in Japan” (meaning “foreigners,” but not all of them). Plus it skirts the issue of racial discrimination, natch.

However, it has had important effects. The law offered a working definition of hate speech and silenced people claiming the “Western construct” of hate speech didn’t exist in Japan. It also gave Japan’s bureaucrats the power to curtail haters. The Mainichi Shimbun reported that this year’s xenophobic rallies, once daily on average somewhere in Japan, had decreased. Rallies also reportedly softened their hateful invective. Since Japan’s outdoor public gatherings need police and community approval (ZG March 4, 2003), even an official frown on hatred can be powerful.

Official frowning spread. The National Police Agency advised prefectural police departments to respond to hate speech demos. A court banned a rally in a Korean area of Kawasaki for “illegal actions that infringe upon the personal rights for leading a personal life.” Another court ordered hate group Zaitokukai to compensate a Zainichi Korean for public slurs against her. Both judges cited the United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination, which has been ignored in lawsuits against “Japanese only” establishments.

These are remarkable new outcomes in a society loath to call “No Foreigners Allowed” signs discriminatory, let alone order police to take them down. Progress to build upon.

Bubbling under the top 10

11 Population of registered NJ residents reaches record 2.23 million despite significant decreases in recent years.

12 “Special economic zones” expand to the aging agriculture sector, and want “skilled foreigners” with college degrees and Japanese-language ability to till fields on three-year visas. Seriously.

13 The Nankai Line train conductor who apologized to passengers for “too many foreigners” on an airport-bound train is officially reprimanded, not ignored.

14 Osaka sushi restaurant Ichibazushi, which was bullying foreign customers by deliberately adding too much wasabi, is forced by social media to publicly apologize.

15 Debito.org’s archive of human rights issues in Japan celebrates its 20th Anniversary.

——————–
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Japan Times JBC column 103: “Trump’s lesson: You can lie your way to the very top”, Nov. 16, 2016

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Hi Blog. The Japan Times tapped me for an opinion on the US Elections and Trump’s ascendancy to the Presidency. So here’s my latest JBC a couple of weeks early. Excerpt:

////////////////////////////////////////
JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
Trump’s lesson: You can lie your way to the very top
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES
NOV 16, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/11/16/issues/trumps-lesson-can-lie-way-top/

The morning after the election, I woke up to Trump’s America.

I’d had a fitful sleep the night before. I’d watched the results from Hawaii, one of America’s bluest states, where our friend had organized a house party to ring in the predicted victory of Hillary Clinton and the continuation of local hero Barack Obama’s legacy. The first polls on America’s East Coast would be closing in our early afternoon. We’d see a clear outcome by dusk and go home happy.

But we lost our swing as the sun went down. Donald Trump started with an early lead thanks to some victories in the Bible Belt and Great Plains. But OK — they almost always go Republican. And, not to worry, the Northeast states mostly went blue. As soon as a few of the “battleground” states turned our color, as polls predicted they would, Clinton would leapfrog to victory.

[N.B. I have a feeling SNL was also at our party…]

But then more southern states started going red. Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana — sure, lost causes to begin with, right? Wyoming, Montana, Idaho — so deep red that the networks called them right after their polls closed.

But then Ohio fell. And Florida. And Georgia. I remember our cheers when Virginia went blue, then our shrieks when North Carolina canceled that out. Then the nor’easter: Maine and New Hampshire became too close to call. Even when the West Coast states came in and put Clinton in the lead, that too began to erode. After California, the Democrats had nothing left in the tank.

At that point the TV networks began to doomsay. MSNBC’s polling geek spent more than a television hour on incoming votes from rural and urban counties in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. The dominoes were falling the other way. And then, stunningly, Trump’s victory in the “rigged” (Trump’s word) Electoral College became a mathematical certainty.

By the time the cameras turned to Clinton’s victory bash and showed delegates slinking out, I had too. Back home, I watched as Clinton conceded even before all the networks had called it for Trump. I felt betrayed. And insomniac.

————— break ——————-

JBC has commented on previous U.S. elections (“Hailing the tail end of Bush”, Dec. 2, 2008), so let me tell you: I searched for a silver lining to all this. I found none…

Rest of the column at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/11/16/issues/trumps-lesson-can-lie-way-top/

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

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My Japan Times JBC column 102, Oct 31, 2016: “U.S. and Japan elections: Scary in their own ways”

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

U.S. and Japan elections: scary in their own ways
Subtitle:  American political campaigns can be frighteningly tribal while fear of the foreign permeates polls here
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito, October 31, 2016
Column 102 for the Japan Times Community Page

Happy Halloween. Let’s talk about something really scary: elections in the United States and Japan.

I say scary because these countries are the No. 1 and No. 3 largest economies in the world, not to mention representative democracies considered too big to fail. Yet the way things are going is truly frightening.

Let start with election campaigns in the U.S., since they are probably very familiar and fresh to readers:

The U.S.: two tribes go to war […]

Read the rest in The Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/10/30/issues/u-s-japan-elections-scary-ways/

======================
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Mainichi Editorial: Japan needs effective hate speech law to stamp out racist marches

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Hi Blog.  To cap off this month of discussion on Debito.org about Japan’s new hate speech laws, check out what the Mainichi (clearly a supporter, given their generous coverage of the issue, particularly regarding enforcement) said about a bill at the national level back in April.  It passed in June.  This article offers a good accounting of just how much work went into getting the local governments to take a stand on the issue, and how grassroots movements do indeed influence national policy in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Editorial: Japan needs effective hate speech law to stamp out racist marches
April 11, 2016 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160411/p2a/00m/0na/022000c

A bill intended to put a stop to hate speech campaigns directed at people of particular races or ethnicities looks set to be deliberated by the Diet during the current session.

Hate speech, with its heavy doses of terms like “Kill them!” and “Get out of Japan,” is abusive and libelous, and can stir up racist sentiments. It is, in short, an offense against basic human rights, and it cannot be tolerated. Nevertheless, there is presently nothing stopping the groups that promote this violent rhetoric from spreading their toxic message.

There were 1,152 confirmed cases of hate speech across the country during the 3 1/2 years ending in September 2015, according to the recently released results of the Justice Ministry’s first-ever investigation into the problem in Japan. That is nearly one incident a day, and it is an absolute embarrassment for a democratic nation such as ours.

The opposition-sponsored anti-racism bill was followed by one with the backing of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito. The ruling and opposition parties should put their heads together to get a law passed halting hate speech as soon as possible.

Hate speech marches through areas of Tokyo and Osaka that are home to many Korean residents of Japan have been intensifying in recent years, and have been spreading all over the country. Under current law, authorities have only been able to restrict hate speech actions when the perpetrators have committed an illegal act. The Justice Ministry officially labeled hate speech a human rights violation only in December of last year, and warned a former hate group leader to stop the organization’s activities. Although this is certainly a positive step, a warning has no legal power.

Behind the relatively tame official response to such racist polemics is the fact that hate speech is not in itself illegal. The government, meanwhile, has approached the problem by carefully balancing the principle of freedom of expression with direct regulation.

In 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination advised the Japanese government to take resolute action against hate speech, and to enact anti-hate speech legislation.

There are also strong domestic calls for a government response to hate speech. In January of this year, the city of Osaka enacted the country’s first anti-hate speech ordinance. In addition, more than 300 local government assemblies across Japan have adopted a written statement calling on the central government to take appropriate legal action against hate speech, while staying within the Constitutional right to freedom of expression. In these acts, we can see a definite fear that Japan will lose the trust of the international community if hate groups continue to peddle their poisonous polemics unhindered.

Hate speech doesn’t just damage the dignity of the individual. It can also create a deep well of dread in those subjected to it, including children. Freedom of expression is a very important right — but hate speech is an obvious abuse of that right.

The LDP-Komeito bill defines hate speech as unjust discrimination. The bill differs greatly from the opposition’s version, which seeks to regulate a wider range of discriminatory acts and calls for the outright ban on hate speech. Neither bill, however, lists a punishment for hate speech violations.

To the contrary, we believe that Japan needs a law that clearly defines hate speech, preventing broad interpretations that could be warped into threats to the freedom of expression. The law should also include provisions that will have some practical effect, such as giving authorities the power to deny hate groups the use of public facilities and roads for demonstrations.

It’s time for a show of political strength.
ENDS

Japanese version

社説
ヘイトスピーチ 根絶へ政治の意思示せ
毎日新聞2016年4月10日 東京朝刊
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20160410/ddm/005/070/030000c

特定の人種や民族に対する差別的言動を街頭で繰り返す「ヘイトスピーチ」を止めようとする法案が、今国会で審議される見通しになった。

ヘイトスピーチは、「殺せ」「出て行け」といった乱暴な言葉で罵倒や中傷し、差別感情をあおり立てる。人権侵害であり、到底許されないが、ヘイトスピーチを繰り広げる団体の活動は抑え込めていない。

法務省が初めて行った実態調査では、昨年9月までの3年半で全国で1152件のヘイトスピーチが確認された。1日1件に近い数字で、民主主義の国として恥ずべきことだ。

民主党(現民進党)などが国会に提出した人種差別撤廃施策推進法案に続き、自民、公明両党はヘイトスピーチ解消に向け法案を出した。ヘイトスピーチを止めるため、与野党で法制化の協議を急ぐべきだ。

東京や大阪など在日韓国・朝鮮人が多く住む地域でヘイトスピーチと呼ばれるデモが数年前から激化し、全国に広がった。

捜査当局などは、現行法の範囲で違法行為があれば取り締まってきたが、ヘイトスピーチは沈静化していない。法務省がヘイトスピーチを人権侵害と位置づけ、団体の元代表にやめるよう勧告したのは昨年12月だ。それでも強制力はない。

厳格な対応ができない背景には、現行の法制度では、ヘイトスピーチそのものを違法行為と認定できないことがある。一方、政府は、「表現の自由」との兼ね合いで直接的な法規制に慎重な姿勢を示してきた。

国連人種差別撤廃委員会は2014年、日本政府に対し、ヘイトスピーチ問題に毅然(きぜん)と対処し、法律で規制するよう勧告した。

国内からも政府の対応を促す声が強い。大阪市は今年1月、ヘイトスピーチの抑止を目指す全国初の条例を成立させた。国に対し、表現の自由に配慮しながらも、法規制など適切なヘイトスピーチ対策を求める意見書を採択する地方議会は300を超えた。国際社会の信頼を失いかねないとの危機感がそこにはある。

ヘイトスピーチは、個人の尊厳を大きく侵害するだけではない。子供などは強い恐怖感を抱く。表現の自由は大切な権利だが、ヘイトスピーチは明らかな権利の乱用だ。

与党案は、ヘイトスピーチを不当な差別と位置づけた。より広範な差別を規制対象とし、「禁止」を明確にした野党案と開きはあるが、罰則を伴わない点は共通する。拡大解釈で表現の自由が脅かされることのないようヘイトスピーチの定義を明確にしたうえで、道路でのデモや公共施設の使用を止められるような実効性のある法律にすべきではないか。政治の強い意思を示すべきだ。
ENDS

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

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Kyodo: Japan’s laws against hate speech piecemeal, lack teeth

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Hi Blog. One more blog entry about hate speech in Japan (because these developments are important and deserve archiving, as they set the tone for how the new law will be enforced and possibly lead to laws against other forms of racial discrimination). The Mainichi articles thus far archived on Debito.org (here, here, and here) have talked about the positive developments of people being called to account for their hateful speech, and the chilling effect (for a change) over anti-foreign public rallies. Yet Kyodo below makes a (rather mild) case that the law does not go far enough. Read on. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Japan’s laws against hate speech piecemeal, lack teeth
THE JAPAN TIMES/KYODO NEWS, OCT 12, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/12/national/social-issues/japans-laws-hate-speech-piecemeal-lack-teeth/

When Moon Kong-hwi saw the scene, he thought the bottom of society had dropped out.

It was five years ago when he witnessed people engaged in hate speech in Osaka’s Tsuruhashi district, one of the country’s famous Korea towns. Since the vitriol came at maximum volume, what still echoes in his ears are words that raise fears.

It happened in front of JR Tsuruhashi Station. What he heard outside of the station’s exit was screams such as “Go back to South Korea!” and “Get out of Tsuruhashi!” by a dozen of people who held loudspeakers and rising sun flags.

“Uttering discriminatory words shouldn’t be done in society. But common sense is no longer there,” he said.

He could not do anything and went home, painfully aware that he is a minority in Japan. Since then, he has made it his mission to put information on the internet so his young son and daughter will not encounter such derogatory displays.

There is one-minute video shot in Tsuruhashi in February 2013. A young girl yelled at Koreans living in Japan: “I really can’t stop hating you!” “We will carry out a massacre in Tsuruhashi!” she continued.

The girl, now 18, lives in the Kanto region. She still wages hate-speech campaigns while aiming to be a TV celebrity.

“The purpose of the campaign was to demonstrate that Japan is no longer a peaceful country. Looking at the reactions on the internet, I thought it was successful that we turned their eyes to the issue,” she explained.

Asked if she believed if what was in the video constituted discrimination, she said, “Saying it is discriminatory itself is wrong. In a really racist country, people throw cans at those who are discriminated against.”

“In today’s Japan, do we have that much discrimination?” she asked.

Japan’s first hate speech law, which took effect in June, was created in line with Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression, and Article 13, which guarantees basic human rights.

Experts, though, say the law is flawed because it lacks both a stated prohibition of hate speech and carries no punishment for perpetrators.

In July, an ordinance to curb hate speech took effect in the city of Osaka. It helped minimize threatening expressions, including “Die!” and “Kill them,” but did little to curb slurs like “the crime rate among Korean people is high.”

Yet the environment surrounding offensive displays appears to be changing.

Kawasaki announced on May 31 it would not allow the organizer of a hate speech demonstration to use a park following past remarks and activities. In Osaka, police called for “a society free of discrimination.”

But perpetrators of discriminatory behavior have turned their attention to the political arena.

Makoto Sakurai, 44, the former head of the anti-Korean group Zaitokukai, ran in the Tokyo gubernatorial election in July, and said in a campaign speech: “This is a free country. It is free to call you anything during the campaign.”

Sakurai was able to publicly pledge, for example, the “abolition of public assistance for non-Japanese” because Article 21 protects freedom of political activities as well as freedom of speech, while the election law prohibits interference in political speeches.

He did, however, refrain from the violently offensive outbursts that he has frequently made in the past.

Sakurai, who had said he was not interested in elections until the gubernatorial poll, was not elected but garnered about 110,000 votes. He launched a political group and said in his blog that his goal is to gain a majority in every assembly in Japan.

Regulations and ordinances have helped tighten curbs on hate speech, but the discriminatory feelings deeply embedded in people’s minds have not changed much.

“How could the Constitution encourage discrimination and hurt people’s feelings?” said one activist in the “counter” movement against hate speech. Surging nationalism has raised the question and society is searching for an answer.
ENDS

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

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My Japan Times JBC column 101: “US and Japan votes: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” (Oct 3, 2016)

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

US and Japan votes: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito. The Japan Times, Just Be Cause column 101
To be published Oct 3, 2016

I love elections. Anywhere. It’s fascinating to see how politicians craft public appeals. No matter how flawed the process, it’s how nation-states recharge their legitimacy and publicly reaffirm their mandate to govern.

During this season of the world’s most-watched presidential campaign, JBC will assess “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of how the United States and Japan run their elections. […] I want to talk about the expression of political culture and momentum that has grown from generations of campaigning, and how it brings out the “good” (things that are healthy for a representative democracy), the “bad” (things that aren’t), and the “ugly” (the just plain ludicrous)…

Read the rest in the Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/10/02/issues/comparing-elections-u-s-japan-good-bad-ugly/

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

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Deep in Japan Podcast, Debito Interview Pt. 3 of 3 on book “Embedded Racism” and issues of racial discrimination etc. in Japan

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Jeff Krueger’s Deep in Japan Podcast features the last interview of three (the first is here, the second here) with me about the issues of racism and discrimination in Japan, covered in book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination“.

Available at iTunes and Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/deep-in-japan/dr-debito-iii-racism-and-discrimination-in-japan

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Deep in Japan Podcast, Debito Interview Pt. 2 on book “Embedded Racism” and issues of racial discrimination etc. in Japan

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Jeff Krueger’s insightful Deep in Japan Podcast features the second interview of three (the first is here) with me about the issues of racism and discrimination in Japan, covered in book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

Available at iTunes and Soundcloud:  https://soundcloud.com/deep-in-japan/debito-13-embedded-racism

JT: Democratic Party Leader Renho and the “pure blood” mythos (covered in detail in book “Embedded Racism”)

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. Phil Brasor at the Japan Times offers us an excellent article on the recent politician Murata Renho flap, as people make an issue of her apparent dual nationality (Japan and Taiwan) and question her loyalties simply because of her apparent “mixed blood” (as if the bloodlines were ever that distinct in the first place in Asia).  No matter.  She still got elected head of the main opposition Democratic Party.  May she put some zing into Japan’s lackluster left-wing.

Some gems from the article that are of note to Debito.org:

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

“The government itself estimates there are 680,000 Japanese with dual nationality.” […]

“It’s no coincidence that Renho’s detractors are the same people who are against allowing a female emperor. “Pure blood” ideology is at the root of Yawata’s philosophy — the “scoop” about Renho’s dual nationality was merely a delivery device. The law means nothing to them because their faith is invested in an occult mythos about the unbroken Imperial line. [Journalist] Kosugi Misuzu insists these beliefs amount to “racism,” since they limit the rights of some people born and raised in Japan due to genetics. Asahi reported on July 6, 2014 — well before the Renho controversy — that the pure blood faction wants to kick out permanent Korean residents as well as anyone with dual citizenship by making all Japanese sign a loyalty oath. They are not just rightists, said the paper, they are “anachronisms.”

“[Former bureaucrat] Yawata Kazuro says Renho can’t be trusted because she doesn’t use her Japanese married name and gave her children names that “sound Chinese.” These value judgments should mean nothing in a democracy. Zakzak, another Sankei organ, adds to the din by saying that Japanese people do not like the idea of someone with dual citizenship “rising to the top.” What about best-selling Japanese-American singer Hikaru Utada and all those bicultural athletes at the Rio Olympics? For that matter, what about former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, who was allowed to settle here and escape prosecution in his native country by asserting his Japanese nationality?”

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

All of these issues, particularly the “pure blood” conceit, have been brought up passim in book “Embedded Racism:  Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination in Japan“.  Renho herself features prominently in the book (Chapter Seven), given that Japan’s racist politicians have questioned her loyalty many times before — for example when she was a Cabinet member in the previous DPJ government — simply because she’s to them a mudblood.  And they can get away with it because the “pure blood” narrative is so strong.

Please read the full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/09/17/national/media-national/renho-pure-blood-mythos/. Courtesy of JDG. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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Debito panelist on Al-Jazeera program “The Stream”: “The politics of identity in Japan” after Yoshikawa Priyanka’s pageant victory

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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AlJazeeraPriyankaDebito091416

The politics of identity in Japan
The conversation on race and ethnicity widens in the island nation.
Al-Jazeera.com Program “The Stream”, September 14, 2016
http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201609131500-0025282

For the second year in a row, Japan has crowned a biracial woman the winner of a major beauty pageant, reviving a conversation in the island nation about race, xenophobia and what it means to be Japanese.

Japan is frequently labeled as one of the most homogeneous countries in the world, but some say this is a myth that discounts the minorities living there and stifles dialogue about discrimination in the country.

In May, Japan passed its first anti-hate speech law in an attempt to curb racism and xenophobia. While critics sceptical about the law’s effectiveness poked holes in the bill, many have applauded the government for taking steps toward addressing what they say is an often ignored issue.

Some have viewed Priyanka Yoshikawa’s Miss World Japan win as a sign the country is becoming more open to diversity. Others argue Japan has been open for a long time, and stories suggesting otherwise are reinforcing antiquated stereotypes. We discuss at 19:30 GMT.

On today’s episode, we speak to:

Priyanka Yoshikawa @Miss_priyanka20
Miss World Japan 2016

Baye McNeil @locohama
Author, columnist for The Japan Times
bayemcneil.com

Edward Sumoto @MixedRootsJapan
Founder, Mixed Roots Japan
mixroots.jp

Debito Arudou @arudoudebito
Author, “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination
debito.org

Yuta Aoki @ThatYuta
YouTuber
youtube.com/YPlusShow

See it at http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201609131500-0025282

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

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Japan Times JBC column 99, “For Abe, it will always be about the Constitution”, Aug 1, 2016

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

For Abe, it will always be about the Constitution
By Debito Arudou
The Japan Times, JUST BE CAUSE column 99, August 1, 2016

Nobody here on the Community page has weighed in on Japan’s Upper House election last July 10, so JBC will have a go.

The conclusion first: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scored a hat trick this election, and it reaffirmed his mandate to do whatever he likes. And you’re probably not going to like what that is.

Of those three victories, the first election in December 2012 was a rout of the leftist Democratic Party of Japan and it thrust the more powerful Lower House of Parliament firmly into the hands of the long-incumbent Liberal Democratic Party under Abe. The second election in December 2014 further normalized Japan’s lurch to the far right, giving the ruling coalition a supermajority of 2/3 of the seats in the Lower House.

July’s election delivered the Upper House to Abe. And how. Although a few protest votes found their way to small fringe leftist parties, the LDP and parties simpatico with Abe’s policies picked up even more seats. And with the recent defection of Diet member Tatsuo Hirano from the opposition, the LDP alone has a parliamentary majority for the first time in 27 years, and a supermajority of simpaticos. Once again the biggest loser was the leftist Democratic Party, whose fall from power three years ago has even accelerated.

So that’s it then: Abe has achieved his goals. And with that momentum he’s going to change the Japanese Constitution.

Amazingly, this isn’t obvious to some observers. The Wall Street Journal, The Economist (London), and Abe insiders still cheerfully opined that Abe’s primary concern remains the economy — that constitutional reform will remain on the backburner. But some media made similar optimistic predictions after Abe’s past electoral victories…

Read the rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/07/31/issues/abe-will-always-constitution/

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

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Zaitokukai xenophobic hate group’s Sakurai Makoto runs for Tokyo Governorship; his electoral platform analyzed here (UPDATED: he lost badly)

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. As Debito.org’s second post on the upcoming July 31, 2016, Tokyo Governorship race (reasons why you should care about it are here), I just wanted to cover the candidacy of the anti-foreign vote, particularly Sakurai Makoto, “former leader” of the officially-certified xenophobic hate group Zaitokukai.  Here’s his campaign poster:

(All images courtesy of MS)

SakuraiMakotoTokyoChijisenposter2016

While this bullying berk hasn’t a snowball’s chance of winning, thank goodness, it’s still a bellwether of Japan’s general tolerance of hate speech that a person like this would be taken seriously enough to allow a candidate who espouses hatred of whole peoples (and believe me he’s not alone, pre-hate speech law).

So let’s take a look at his party platform, since that’s what we do here (click on image to expand in browser):

SakuraiMakotoChijisen2016Platform

Okay, deep breath.  I’m only going to translate the headlines.  He’s running as an “unaffiliated” (mushozoku) candidate, and his headline is putting “Japan first” and “returning Tokyo politics to Japanese nationals” (kokumin) (a riff on one of PM Abe’s previous election slogans).

Here are the seven points of his platform:

  1. Abolishing “social welfare” (seikatsu hogo) for foreigners (even though they’re also paying for it, and it’s not as though they’re really taking advantage of the system).
  2. Reducing the number of illegal foreign overstayers by half (even though according to the MOJ itself the number has almost always been falling since 1993).
  3. Passing a law against hate speech against Japan/Japanese (because of course those bullying foreign minorities shouldn’t be allowed to victimize that poor disempowered Japanese majority!)
  4. Increase taxes on facilities run by domestic minority Korean groups Souren and Mindan (because nothing spells equalized justice against minorities than targeted tax increases against them).
  5. “Regulate” illegal gambling at [Korean] pachinko parlors (because after all, gambling is a naughty activity in Japan, except when it’s gambling on horse racing sanctioned by the JRA, or motor boating, or bicycling, or Japanese-run pachinko parlors etc.; you’d assume that if it was in fact “illegal”, it would already be “regulated”…  Oh wait, this is suddenly “illegal” because it’s connected to Koreans, right?).
  6. Suspending the building of Korean schools (because of course they’re proliferating like wildflowers across Japan).
  7. Putting forth a more compact Tokyo 2020 Olympics (thrown in as an afterthought, because we’re not fixating on foreigners, right?).

You can read the fine print of his platform for yourself, but it all spells the need for some to launder their hatred through Japan’s electoral process.  Let’s see how many votes this bully ultimately gets come August 1 (the last bully candidate we tracked here, Tamogami Toshio, finished dead last in his division).  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

UPDATE JULY 31, 2016

According to today’s election results (Asahi.com in Japanese), turncoat opportunist (and hobnobber with xenophobes) Koike Yuriko won the Tokyo Governorship easily, receiving more than a million votes over the officially-sponsored LDP candidate, who came second.  The anti-Abe candidate came in a distant third with less than half the votes of Koike.

Sakurai came an even more distant fifth, garnering only 114,171 votes, or 2.08% of all votes cast.  He ranked no better than single digits in any electoral district of Tokyo-to (and in two districts less than 1%), which is good news.  Even better news is that he fared much worse than extreme rightist militarist Tamogami Toshio, who got 610,865 votes in the previous 2014 Tokyo Gubernatorial Election, or 12.39% of all votes cast.

So keep wasting your group’s funds on these elections, Sakurai.  It’s probably better than investing them in your hate rallies.

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

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Meanwhile back in Tokyo: Gov candidate Koike Yuriko allegedly spoke at anti-foreign hate group Zaitokukai in 2010

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. For those who haven’t been following Japanese politics (recently it’s been a pretty dismal science), there’s another race you might want to follow — that of the race for Tokyo Governorship on July 31, 2016. This matters, because Tokyo is 1) Japan’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, one of few with a still-growing population (as Japan’s countryside continues to depopulate and die) and even significant foreign resident enclaves; 2) a world city, cited by at least one international ranking system (Monocle, incidentally partially owned by a Japanese publisher) as the world’s “most livable city”; and 3) the city with the highest GDP (according to the Brookings Institution, even adjusted for PPP) in the world — in fact, according to the IMF, Tokyo alone is the ninth-largest economy in the world, larger even than Brazil, and easily over a third of Japan’s entire GDP (at 36%).

So who gets elected governor of this capital city area should matter to the world.  And it has, at least to the world’s third-largest economy.  Tokyo set the trend for electing far-right xenophobic governors by electing (several times) Ishihara “I wanted a war with China” Shintaro, who legitimized a xenophobic program within Tokyo environs to the point where bullying of foreigners became normalized throughout Japan (see also book “Embedded Racism” Ch. 7). And with that, far-right hate group Zaitokukai and similar groups became emboldened to hold anti-foreign rallies (some that advocated the “killing of all Koreans“) on a daily basis in recent years.  Not to mention that Tokyo is hosting the 2020 Olympics. Given the degree of centralization of, well, everything that matters in Japan in Tokyo, as Tokyo does, so does the rest of Japan.

That’s why the Tokyo Governorship has been a controversial seat this century.  First, Governor Ishihara used it as a bully pulpit to justify destabilizing the rest of Asia.  Then his hand-picked successor, former Vice-Governor and investigative writer Inose Naoki resigned after a payola scandal.  His successor, TV personality and pundit Masuzoe Yoichi similarly recently resigned after a payola scandal.  Now the seat has become a referendum of the two leading parties, the waxing and right-shifting Liberal Democratic Party of PM Abe Shinzo, and the waning leftist Democratic Party still trying to recapture some momentum.  And into the breach has dived LDP former cabinet member Koike Yuriko, who may even be a favorite to win.

But not so fast.  According to Zaitokukai, Koike spoke at their organization back in 2010.  Koike is known as a person who flip-flops between parties and positions often, but this is a bit too far for Debito.org’s comfort.  Is this the type of person that Tokyoites want?  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

FROM ZAITOKUKAI’S WEBSITE (Courtesy EJ):

そよ風 小池百合子先生講演会
<どうしたらいいの? 尖閣、北方領土、竹島で負け続ける日本>

今こそ、小池先生に聞いてみよう!
小池元防衛相に斬りこもう!
自民再生できるのか!

尖閣に中国が侵略して日本が普通の国になる千載一遇のチャンスがやってきました。
今こそ私達はどの政党に、どの政治家に、この日本を任せられるか知りましょう。

手きびしい質問(糾弾?)大募集
日頃、疑問に思っていること等を自民党三役に就任された小池先生にぜひぶつけてみま しょう。
沢山のご質問お待ちしています。

【日時】
平成22年12月5日(日) 14:00~

【場所】
あうるすぽっと (有楽町線東池袋駅直結)

【講演】
講師:小池百合子 衆議院議員
演題:「日本と地球の護りかた」
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wfv_mk7RCF0

【生中継】
生放送は中止となりました。
下記URL放送は在特会名古屋支部街頭活動に変更いたします
ニコニコ生放送14:00~
http://live.nicovideo.jp/gate/lv33405203

【問い合わせ・質問宛先】
そよ風 青山
yadokari26@gmail.com

【主催】
そよ風
http://www.soyokaze2009.com/

【協賛】
在日特権を許さない市民の会 女性部(花紋)

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

Do you like what you read on Debito.org?  Want to help keep the archive active and support Debito.org’s activities?  We are celebrating Debito.org’s 20th Anniversary in 2016, so please consider donating a little something.  More details here.

Brief comments on the July 2016 Upper House Election: The path is cleared for Japan’s Constitutional revision

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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All donations go towards website costs only. Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog. As is tradition on Debito.org, here is a comment (this time brief) on the outcome of the July 10, 2016 election in Japan for the Upper House of Parliament.

The results of the election are here in Japanese (English here), and on the surface this is what they say to me:

PM Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its allies won handily. The LDP picked up six more seats (while its joined-at-the-hip party ally Koumeitou won an extra five, as did other LDP-simpatico parties), winning the near-supermajority in the Upper House that it was shooting for (i.e., only one seat away from the 2/3 supermajority of 162 seats).  The largest opposition party, the Democratic Party, lost eleven seats, and while other smaller opposition parties picked up a seat or three, that doesn’t offset the LDP’s net gain. In other words, Abe won his third election in a row solidly.

According to the electoral map on the Japanese page, the left side of Japan (north and west of Tokyo, that is) outside of big cities is essentially the LDP, the ruling party that has governed for most of Japan’s Postwar Era. The right side of Japan (north of Tokyo and up) is more mixed, but the closer you get to the Fukushima disaster areas the more likely they went for opposition or unaffiliated parties. Hokkaido (my home prefecture) went 2/3 opposition, as usual, but the biggest vote-getter was the LDP candidate.

Commentators have talked about the deception behind this election (that Abe kept the talk on economics instead of his pet project of reforming Japan’s American-written 1945 Constitution in ways that are neither Liberal nor Democratic), about how Japan’s opposition have been so disorganized that they haven’t put up much more than an “anyone-but-Abe” policy stance, and about how PM Abe probably won’t go after the Constitution for a while.

But I would disagree. What more does Abe need in terms of confirmed mandate? As I said, he’s won three elections solidly (probably better than even former PM and LDP party-leader template Koizumi did), he’s essentially gotten a supermajority in both houses of Parliament, and these wins will be seen as public affirmation that Abe’s on the right track (especially within the ranks of the LDP itself; he already regained the LDP presidency running unopposed). Abe has made it quite clear constantly since he’s been anywhere close to power that he wants a return to Japan’s past (foreigner-uninfluenced) glories. Now nothing is really stopping him, short of a national referendum.

And despite opinion polls saying that people don’t want bits or all of Japan’s Constitution changed, I don’t think the Japanese public is all that scared of that happening anymore. Not enough to vote significantly against him at election time.  My take is that Japan is becoming a more geriatric society, and with that more politically conservative. That conservatism I don’t think extends to old documents seen as imposed as part of Victors’ Justice. As of this writing, I will be surprised if a) Abe doesn’t push for Constitutional revision, and b) it doesn’t succeed. Clearly the Japanese public keeps handing Abe the keys to do so. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Press 2016) now out early in paperback: $49.99

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
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Hi Blog. Sales of book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books, November 2015) in hardcover have been outstanding.

embeddedracismcover

In less than a year after being published, WorldCat says as of this writing that 83 of the world’s major academic libraries worldwide (including Stanford, Cornell, UC Berkeley, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton) already have it in their collections.

Now my publisher has brought it out in paperback early for classroom use (it usually takes a year or two before that happens). Price: Less than half the hardcover price, at $49.99.  It currently occupies the first spot of Lexington’s Sociology Catalog this year under Regional Studies:  Asia (page 33).

Now’s your chance to get a copy, either from the publisher directly or from outlets such as Amazon.com. Read the research I spent nearly two decades on, which earned a Ph.D., and has for the first time 1) generated talk within Japanese Studies of a new way of analyzing racism in Japan (with a new unstudied minority called “Visible Minorities“), and 2) applied Critical Race Theory to Japan and found that the lessons of racialization processes (and White Privilege) still apply to a non-White society (in terms of Wajin Privilege).

Get the book that finally exposes the discrimination in Japan by physical appearance as a racialization process, and how the people who claim that “Japan has only one race, therefore no racism” are quite simply wrong.  Further, as the book argues in the last chapter, if this situation is not resolved, demographically-shrinking Japanese society faces a bleak future.

Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination.” Now out in paperback on Amazon and at Lexington Books. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Do you like what you read on Debito.org?  Want to help keep the archive active and support Debito.org’s activities?  We are celebrating Debito.org’s 20th Anniversary in 2016, so please consider donating a little something.  More details here.

Kickstarter: “Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin” a mockumentary film by Primolandia Productions starring Debito Arudou

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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UPDATE JUNE 4, 2016:

GoGoadvert060316

Preview of movie:  “Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin”

More details and Kickstarter support page to fund this project at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/primolandia/go-go-second-time-gaijin?token=3490749a

THE STORY:
“Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin” is a mockumentary that focuses on a Caucasian expat living in Japan who, after receiving a blow to the head, wakes up believing that he is a member of an ultranationalist right wing group (the “uyoku dantai”). An idealistic amateur “director” (in the scheme of the mockumentary) is making a documentary film about this odd character because he believes that it will propel his own filmmaking career towards prominence. As the director and his subject’s views begin to diverge though, things begin to fall apart. “Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin” is a story about identity, delusion, myopic nationalism, ascendent conservative trends in Japan’s current government, other big words, and how those beliefs do not accurately reflect the political and social reality of Japanese society. Only the best ingredients for a controversial comedy.

SELECTED CAST AND CREW:

Debito Arudou (Actor) is a writer, blogger, and human rights activist. He was born in the United States and became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 2000. He is the author of Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan, Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan and has recently published Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination (Lexington Books).

Shintaro Naka (Actor) is an educator and actor in Southwest Japan. He has performed in several short-films, including A Portrait of No One in 2009, as well as performing as Toshio in Kazuhiko Konoike’s Sensitive (2012) and the follow-up film Suddenly (2013).

Robert Nishimura (Writer/Director) is among the last generation of “Zonians,” born and bred in the Republic of Panamá. In the last two decades, under the Primolandia Productions label, he has produced short films, TV documentaries, video installations, provided art direction for Japanese fashion magazines, and designed promotional material for films in Japan and the US. Based in Japan for the past 11 years — and now a permanent resident — he currently is the co-owner and curator of an art gallery in southwest Japan.

Stirling Perry (Writer/Producer) is an educator living in Hiroshima, Japan. He previously co-wrote and directed Gokurōsama (2008) with Robert Nishimura, a short film shot exclusively for the Akira Kurosawa Short Film Competition. Stirling is currently writing several feature films, with the first slated to go into production in 2016.

Paul Leeming (Cinematographer) began his film career in Sydney in 2005 and graduated from the Sydney Film School in 2006, majoring in Directing, Cinematography and Sound. In 2007 he moved to Japan and started Visceral Psyche, writing and directing several award-winning films and shooting many more as a cinematographer. Paul is now living in Berlin with his sights set firmly on Hollywood.

Kazuhiko Konoike (Producer/Assistant Director) began his production career at Tsuburaya Productions (creators of Ultraman) and GAGA Distribution before starting his own production label, cinepos, in 2008. Since then, Kazuhiko has made several short films and promotional videos, with many more to come.

More details and Kickstarter support page to fund this project at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/primolandia/go-go-second-time-gaijin?token=3490749a

Mainichi: LDP new Constitution draft differentiates between ‘big’ and ‘small’ human rights, the latter to be subordinated “in times of emergency”. Yeah, sure.

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Here we have another example of “Japan power elite” logic at work as the ruling party seeks to amend Japan’s Constitution away from values it considers “Western”.  Including the concept of human rights, which it has somehow decided to arbitrarily divide into “big” and “small”.  “Small” would be limited in times of emergency, but the problem is that there is no indication of what the LDP intends to classify as “small human rights” to be subordinated.  A good critical thinker at the Mainichi takes on and exposes the idiocracy at work here.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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LDP draft Constitution differentiates between ‘big’ and ‘small’ human rights
May 26, 2016 (Mainichi Japan), Courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160526/p2a/00m/0na/025000c

How puzzling. A question-and-answer booklet that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has created to explain its draft revision of the Constitution claims there are two types of human rights: the big ones and the little ones.

The concept of “big human rights” and “small human rights” appears in the booklet’s section on the LDP draft Constitution’s controversial “state of emergency” provision, which allows for temporary restrictions on human rights and concentration of authority in the Cabinet in the case of an emergency such as an armed attack from external forces, disturbances in social order due to domestic turmoil, or major disasters. Following the massive earthquakes in Kumamoto and its surrounding areas in mid-April, the government and the LDP have ramped up their argument that such a provision is necessary to carry out rescue and recovery efforts as smoothly as possible.

The Q&A booklet states that protecting the lives, bodies and properties of the people is the state’s utmost priority not only in times of peace but also in times of emergency. So far, so good. But it’s what follows that throws me for a loop.

“Some are of the opinion that fundamental human rights should not be restricted even in times of emergency,” the booklet reads. “But we believe that it is possible that in order to protect big human rights such as people’s lives, bodies and properties, we could be forced to place restrictions on smaller human rights.”

It’s pretty clear what the LDP means by “big human rights.” But what are the “smaller human rights” that the party refers to?

I contacted the LDP Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution. The person who responded, however, simply kept repeating that “it would be helpful if you could read it as it is written.” That was precisely the problem, though. I couldn’t understand what had been written.

Yosuke Isozaki, the deputy chief of the LDP constitutional revision promotion headquarters, who was a central figure in the compilation of the party’s draft revision, told the Mainichi Shimbun during an interview carried in its April 29 morning edition, “One of the state’s loftiest and most significant roles is to protect the people’s lives, bodies and properties. There may be cases in which small human rights are violated, but if we cannot protect the people, there can be no constitutionalism.”

Shojiro Sakaguchi, a professor at Hitotsubashi University and an expert on constitutional law, objects head-on to such reasoning, declaring, “There is no differentiation in human rights between big and small.”

The current Japanese Constitution guarantees a diverse range of rights, including freedom of thought and conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of expression and economic freedom, including property rights. Says Sakaguchi, “Freedom of expression is indispensable in upholding a democracy, and there exists the argument that freedom of expression should be more heavily protected than property rights, which can be recovered through political processes even in the off chance that it is restricted as long as the democracy is functioning. But I have never heard of there being big and small human rights.”

Sakaguchi is particularly worried about the possibility that freedom of expression will be restricted as a “small human right” in times of emergency. “To position property rights as a ‘big human right’ and allow limitations to freedom of expression in the name of ‘protecting a big human right,’ such as property rights, is the complete opposite of the way it should be,” he says.

And where do Sakaguchi’s concerns come from? “It’s written in the LDP’s Q&A booklet that rules based on the Western notion of ‘natural rights’ must be amended, and that the people have a duty to respect the Constitution. One gets the impression that the draft revision puts the state in a position superior to human rights,” Sakaguchi says. “If you switch the part that reads, ‘To protect the big human rights, such as the lives, bodies and properties of the people’ to say ‘To protect the state,’ the actual intent of the draft constitutional revisions becomes very clear.”

He continues, “The purpose of the provision on emergencies is to protect the state. Such a provision can lead to thinking that ‘to protect the state, which is in danger, the public must refrain from making statements or taking actions that are critical of the state,’ thereby restricting freedom of expression and other human rights. I think the LDP’s true intention is to push things along with priority on the state’s will, rather than the human rights of the individual.”

This is along the lines of the idea that human rights depend on the existence of a state, Sakaguchi says. He characterizes this as “a sharp break from the idea of human rights, which should be a universal principle of humanity.”

Makoto Ito, an attorney who has been involved in numerous lawsuits on constitutionality, including ones regarding vote weight disparity, suggests that the categorization of human rights into big and small exemplify the LDP’s view toward human rights.

“The notion that small human rights can be sacrificed for big human rights is not limited to times of emergency. If we allow such thinking to prevail, there is a possibility that some human rights will not be considered important enough to be protected even in times of peace.” In other words, Ito is saying that we could find ourselves in a society in which disregard for human rights is the norm.

Other parts of the LDP’s draft Constitution must not be overlooked, Ito adds. Article 13 of the current Constitution states, “All of the people shall be respected as individuals,” while Article 97 says, “The fundamental human rights by this Constitution guaranteed to the people of Japan are fruits of the age-old struggle of man to be free.” The LDP draft modifies Article 13 and deletes Article 97.

“In the LDP draft, the word ‘individuals’ in Article 13, has been changed to ‘persons.’ This completely dismisses individualism and the independent individuals presupposed by the Constitution,” Ito says. “The deletion of Article 97 is the equivalent of denying the universality of human rights. And then to bring in the notion of ‘big’ and ‘small’ human rights is an act of turning one’s back against the principle of respect for human rights.”

As is evident thus far, alarm over human rights restrictions are expected to rise if the LDP’s draft Constitution is to become a reality. Meanwhile, however, human rights are already coming under restrictions ahead of any constitutional changes, some say.

According to Tsuyoshi Inaba, the founder and a board member of Moyai, a nonprofit organization that supports those in poverty, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has gradually lowered the sums of money people are able to receive as public assistance. “With the 2013 revision of the Public Assistance Act, welfare offices were given the authority to demand that those who are applying for welfare report why they are unable to receive assistance from family members. This can cause people to hesitate to apply for public assistance,” he says. “The current state of affairs is already threatening Article 25 of the Constitution, which states that ‘all people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living.'”

Inaba is also worried about the fact that the LDP draft Constitution is trying to dictate what and how a family should be. In the LDP’s version, Article 24 states, “Family members must support each other.” To Inaba, he says, this seems like an attempt by the LDP to avert its eyes from the reality that family support is no longer enough to provide relief to those in poverty, and instead force upon the public the party’s image of an ideal family. “Even though the state has a duty to guarantee that people can maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living, there appears to be the intent to shift that responsibility onto families,” Inaba says.

If we accept that there are “small human rights,” the rights of those in vulnerable positions in society may come to be regarded as “small.”

There is always a possibility that one’s human rights will be threatened. Already, there have been cases in which local governments have shown reluctance toward renting out public facilities — in the name of “political neutrality” and for other reasons — to citizens’ groups wanting to hold events in opposition of constitutional revisions or for the abolition of nuclear power. It’s frightening to imagine what might happen if freedom of expression and freedom of assembly were designated as “small human rights.”

The LDP’s Q&A booklet notes that the LDP draft Constitution does not deviate from the party’s understanding that fundamental human rights are inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being. If that is actually the case, however, the concept of a “big” or “small” human right should not even come up. (By Yoshiaki Ebata, Evening Edition Department)
ENDS

特集ワイド
自民党「憲法改正草案Q&A」への疑問 「小さな人権」とは 緊急時なら制限されてもいい…?
毎日新聞2016年5月23日 東京夕刊
自民党の日本国憲法改正草案Q&Aに記載された「大きな人権」と「小さな人権」
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20160523/dde/012/010/006000c

思わず首をかしげてしまった。「大きな人権」と「小さな人権」が存在するというのである。この表現は、自民党が憲法改正草案を解説するために作成した冊子「改正草案Q&A」の中で見つけた。大災害などの緊急時には「生命、身体、財産という大きな人権を守るため、小さな人権がやむなく制限されることもあり得る」というのだ。そもそも人権は大小に分けることができるのだろうか。【江畑佳明】

脅かされる「表現の自由」「個の尊重」/平常時にも制約受ける恐れ
まずは「改正草案Q&A」を見てみよう。「大きな人権」と「小さな人権」が記されているのは、外部からの武力攻撃、内乱などの社会秩序の混乱、大災害などの際、一時的に人権を制限し、内閣に権限を集中させる緊急事態条項を説明する項目だ。政府・自民党は熊本地震後、円滑に人命救助や復興作業を進めるために必要な条文だとの訴えを強めている。

Q&Aでは「国民の生命、身体、財産の保護は、平常時のみならず、緊急時においても国家の最も重要な役割です」と説明している。ここまでは疑問なく読めるのだが、次の説明がひっかかる。

「『緊急事態であっても、基本的人権は制限すべきではない』との意見もありますが、国民の生命、身体及び財産という大きな人権を守るために、そのため必要な範囲でより小さな人権がやむなく制限されることもあり得るものと考えます」

自民党が考える「大きな人権」は分かったが、「小さな人権」は不明だ。

そこで自民党の憲法改正推進本部に問い合わせた。でも、担当者は「書いてある通りにご理解いただければ、大変助かります」と繰り返すばかり。Q&Aを読んでも理解できないから質問したのに……。

人権を分ける考えについて、改憲草案の作成に深く携わった礒崎陽輔・党憲法改正推進本部副本部長は、緊急事態条項に関する毎日新聞のインタビュー(4月29日朝刊)でこう答えている。「国家の崇高で重い役割の一つは、国民の生命、身体、財産を守ることにある。小さな人権が侵害されることはあるかもしれないが、国民を守れなければ、立憲主義も何もない」

この考え方に真っ向から反対するのが、一橋大教授の阪口正二郎さん(憲法学)。「人権に大小の区別はありません」と断定する。

現行憲法は、思想・良心の自由▽信教の自由▽表現の自由▽財産権を含む経済的自由−−など多様な権利を保障している。阪口さんは「表現の自由は民主主義を支えるために不可欠であり、万一制約されても民主主義さえ機能していれば政治過程で回復可能な財産権よりも、手厚く保護すべきだという議論はあります。ですが、人権に大小があるという話は聞いたことがない」と説明する。

阪口さんが特に危惧するのが、緊急時に表現の自由が「小さな人権だ」として制限される可能性があることだ。「財産権を『大きな人権』に位置付け、『財産権という大きな人権を守るため』と表現の自由が制限されていいというのは、全く逆です」

重要な人権が制限されかねないと、なぜ阪口さんは考えるのか。「この『Q&A』では『(人権は生まれながらに誰もが持っているという)西欧の天賦人権説に基づく規定は改める必要がある』と書いており、国民に憲法尊重義務を新たに課すと主張するなど、人権より国家が優位だと考えている印象を受けます。そこで『国民の生命、身体及び財産という大きな人権を守るため』という部分を、『国家を守るため』と読み替えてみると、その意図がはっきりします」

そしてこう続けた。「緊急事態条項の目的は国家を守ること。『危機にある国家を守らねばならないから、国家を批判する言動は控えろ』と、表現の自由などの人権を制限しかねない。個人の人権よりも国家の意思を優先させ、物事を進めたいのが本音ではないでしょうか」

「国あっての人権」。阪口さんはそれを「人類普遍の原理であるはずの人権思想からの決別」と呼んだ。

「人権に大小をつける考え方には、自民党の人権観が表れている」と、1票の格差問題などの違憲訴訟に数多く携わってきた伊藤真弁護士は指摘する。「『大きな人権のために小さな人権は制限されてもいい』という発想は、緊急時だけにとどまるものではありません。この考え方を認めてしまえば、平常時においても『これは小さな人権だから尊重しなくてもいい』という考えにつながりかねない」。人権軽視が横行する世の中になりかねないというのだ。

改憲草案で見逃せない点は他にもある。「すべて国民は、個人として尊重される」と定めた13条の改変と、「基本的人権は、人類の多年にわたる自由獲得の努力の成果」とした97条の削除だ。

伊藤さんは「13条について、改憲草案では『個』を外して『人』に変更しました。憲法が想定する『自立した個人』の存在をなくす考え方で、個人主義を否定しています。さらに97条を削除したことは、人権の普遍性を否定したも同じ。その上で『人権の大小』を設けるというのは、人権尊重の思想に背を向ける行為です」と語る。

ここまで論じたように、万一、改憲草案が現実化したら、人権が制限される懸念は高まりそうだ。その一方で「改憲を先取りするかのように、人権の制限は既に進められている」との声も出ている。

貧困に苦しむ人たちを支援するNPO法人「自立生活サポートセンター・もやい」理事の稲葉剛(つよし)さんは「安倍晋三政権は生活保護の支給額を段階的に引き下げています。さらに2013年の改正生活保護法で、親族の援助が受けられない時は、福祉事務所がその理由の報告を求めることができるようになりました。これでは生活保護の申請をためらう事態になりかねない。憲法25条の生存権、『健康で文化的な最低限度の生活を営む権利』が脅かされつつあるのです」と実情を訴える。

稲葉さんは改憲草案が「家族のあり方」に手をつけることにも危機感を抱く。改憲草案では24条で「家族は互いに助け合わねばならない」とする。この狙いを「貧困により家族の支えが限界に来ているという現実を直視せず、自らが理想とする家族像を押し付けようとしているのではないでしょうか。国には尊厳ある個人の生存権を保障するよう努める義務があるにもかかわらず、『家族なんだから助け合いなさい』とその責任を家族に転嫁したい意図を感じます」とみる。

「小さな人権」を認めれば、社会的に弱い立場の人たちの人権が「小さい」と判断されてしまうかもしれない。

人権は常に制約される可能性がある。改憲反対や脱原発をテーマにした市民集会を巡り、自治体が「政治的中立」などの理由で公的施設の利用に難色を示すケースが出ている。表現の自由や集会の自由が「小さな人権」と制約を受け続けたら……。

Q&Aでは「人権は、人間であることによって当然に有するもの」と基本的人権を尊重する姿勢は変わらないと記している。であれば、「人権の大小」という発想自体、生まれてこないのではないか。
ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s an article talking about policy shift towards Japan’s immigration policy in all but name.  It’s still something in the pipeline with policy trial balloons (and the obligatory caution about how foreigners pose a “public safety” risk), so Debito.org is not heralding any sea changes.  Plus the reporters severely undermine the credibility of their article by citing their hairdresser as a source!  Ignore that bad science and let’s focus upon the current debate in stasis.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Japan eyes more foreign workers, stealthily challenging immigration taboo
By Linda Sieg and Ami Miyazaki
Reuters, April 25, 2016, Courtesy of MS
https://www.yahoo.com/news/japan-eyes-more-foreign-workers-stealthily-challenging-immigration-032238719–business.html?nhp=1

TOKYO (Reuters) – Desperately seeking an antidote to a rapidly aging population, Japanese policymakers are exploring ways to bring in more foreign workers without calling it an “immigration policy”.

Immigration is a touchy subject in a land where conservatives prize cultural homogeneity and politicians fear losing votes from workers worried about losing jobs.

But a tight labor market and ever-shrinking work force are making Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policy team and lawmakers consider the politically controversial option.

Signaling the shift, leading members of a ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) panel on Tuesday proposed expanding the types of jobs open to foreign workers, and double their numbers from current levels of close to 1 million.

“Domestically, there is a big allergy. As a politician, one must be aware of that,” Takeshi Noda, an adviser to the LDP panel, told Reuters in an interview.

Unlike the United States, where Donald Trump has made immigration an election issue, Japan has little history of immigration. But, that makes ethnic and cultural diversity seem more of a threat in Japan than it may seem elsewhere.

And while Japan is not caught up in the mass migration crisis afflicting Europe, the controversies in other regions do color the way Japanese think about immigration.

LDP lawmakers floated immigration proposals almost a decade ago, but those came to naught. Since then, however, labor shortages have worsened and demographic forecasts have become more dire.

BY ANY OTHER NAME

An economic uptick since Abe took office in December 2012, rebuilding after the 2011 tsunami and a construction boom ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have pushed labor demand to its highest in 24 years.

That has helped boost foreign worker numbers by 40 percent since 2013, with Chinese accounting for more than one-third followed by Vietnamese, Filipinos and Brazilians.

But visa conditions largely barring unskilled workers mean foreigners still make up only about 1.4 percent of the workforce, compared with the 5 percent or more found – according to IMF estimates – in most advanced economies.

So far, measures to attract more foreign workers have focused on easing entry for highly skilled professionals and expanding a “trainee” system that was designed to share technology with developing countries, but which critics say has become a backdoor source of cheap labor.

This time, the LDP panel leaders’ proposal went further, suggesting foreigners be accepted in other sectors facing shortages, such as nursing and farming – initially for five years with visa renewal possible.

They also proposed creating a framework whereby the number of foreign workers would be doubled from around 908,000 currently, and the term “unskilled labor” would be abandoned.

In a sign of the sensitivies, however – especially ahead of a July upper house election – panel chief Yoshio Kimura stressed the proposal should not be misconstrued as an “immigration policy” and said steps were needed to offset any negative impact on jobs and public safety.

After a heated debate in which one lawmaker said the plan would “leave Japan in tatters”, members agreed to let the panel organizers decide whether to make any revisions to the proposal.

Experts, however, say changes are afoot regardless of the semantics.

“The government insists it is not adopting an immigration policy, but whatever the word, faced with a shrinking population, it is changing its former stance and has begun to move toward a real immigration policy,” said Hidenori Sakanaka, a former Tokyo Immigration Bureau chief.

Two cabinet members have already advocated adopting an immigration policy, as have some LDP panel members.

“The fundamental problem of the Japanese economy is that the potential growth rate is low,” LDP panel adviser Seiichiro Murakami told Reuters. “To raise that, big structural reforms including … immigration policy are necessary.”

The influential Nikkei Business weekly has dubbed a foreign worker-driven growth strategy “imin-omics”, a pun on the premier’s “Abenomics” revival plan and “imin”, the Japanese word for “immigrants”.

Abe, however, has made drawing more women and elderly into the work force while boosting the birth rate priorities, and publicly the government rules out any “immigration policy”.

Still, Abe’s right-hand man, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said debate on more foreign workers lay ahead.

“We are seeking to mobilize the power of women and the elderly as much as possible, but at the same time we recognize that the acceptance of foreigners is a major issue,” Suga told Reuters.

He said the future debate would also consider the longer term issue of permanent residence for less skilled foreigners, but added caution was needed.

Conservatives are likely to resist major change.

For example, an ex-labor minister commenting at the LDP panel earlier on a proposal to let in foreign beauticians said the idea was fine, as long as their customers were foreign, too.

But hairdresser Mitsuo Igarashi, who has four barber chairs in his downtown Tokyo barbershop but only himself to clip and shave, wants to hire other barbers and doesn’t care where they come from. “We’ve got to let in more foreigners,” said Igarashi.
ENDS

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

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

mytest

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embeddedracismcover
Hi Blog. I just received word from my publisher that “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.

Hardcover version: November 2015 (North America, Latin America, Australia, and Japan), January 2016 (UK, Europe, rest of Asia, South America, and Africa), 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

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  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 (declining) 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.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

NATIONAL / POLITICS
Abe Cabinet says JCP promoting ‘violent revolution,’ subject to anti-subversive law
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, THE JAPAN TIMES, MAR 23, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/23/national/politics-diplomacy/abe-cabinet-says-jcp-promoting-violent-revolution-subject-anti-subversive-law/

The Japanese Communist Party remains a “violent revolutionary” group subject to the scrutiny of a law restricting the activities of subversive organizations, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has declared.

A statement approved by Abe’s Cabinet on Tuesday highlighted the government’s stance that the leftist JCP continues to uphold its longtime policy of promoting what the National Police Agency calls “violent revolution.”

The statement, issued in response to a question by former Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Takako Suzuki, went on to declare the JCP as being among the organizations targeted by what is known as the anti-subversive activities law.

Yoshiki Yamashita, the high-ranking secretariat chief of the party, responded Tuesday by expressing his strong displeasure over the statement. The party will “lodge a strong protest” with the government and demand that it be retracted, he said.

Originally founded in 1922 as an underground organization, the JCP insists that Japan undergo revolution to transform into a socialist country.

It rocketed into notoriety in the 1950s when it masterminded what the NPA calls a litany of “violent, destructive activities” nationwide — including assaults against police.

Such extremist activities, the NPA says, stemmed largely from a controversial platform the JCP adopted in 1951, in which the party declared it is “wrong” to try to achieve Japan’s democratic revolution through peaceful measures.

In the economic field, the JCP has traditionally championed the goal of wrestling power from capitalists and improving the life of the working class. In recent years, the policy has led to its objections to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement as well as the planned consumption tax hike.
ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  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 American 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 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.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2015/s4364818.htm

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

Lifting the lid on one of the most influential, and secretive, political organisations in Japan

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 02/12/2015

Reporter: Matthew Carney

Nippon Kaigi, or ‘Japan Conference’, has an impressive list of members and aims to reshape Japanese politics and policies, and Lateline gains rare access to this secretive and ultra-conservative organisation.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: 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.

MATTHEW CARNEY, REPORTER: A call has gone out and people from all over Japan have responded. To hear a vision from one of Japan’s most powerful political organisations, the Nippon Kaigi. And it’s back to the future. Nippon Kaigi want to restore the status of the Emperor, keep women in the home to nurture family and rebuild the might of the armed forces.

To do that, they have to scrap the pacifist constitution that was imposed by the Americans. This is the first step, they say, to shake off the shame of the defeat in World War II and restore pride.

YOSHIKO SAKURAI, JOURNALIST (voiceover translation): We need to ask ourselves: will the current constitution of Japan protect Japan and its people? The answer is no. We need a constitution that reflects the true Japanese identity.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The biggest champion to the cause and the group’s specialist advisor is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself.

SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (voiceover translation): To create a constitution suitable for the 21st Century, that’s where it needs to be spread throughout Japan. I seek your continued support on this. Let’s move forward towards changing the Constitution.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The Nippon Kaigi has serious clout. The Deputy Prime Minister is also a member, as well as 80 per cent of the cabinet, as are almost half of all parliamentarians. It’s a kind of uber lobby group that uses its 38,000 members to mobilise support.

The Nippon Kaigi has pledged to collect 10 million signatures by next April to change the Constitution. Some say it’s a cult-like organisation.

KOICHI NAKANO, SOPHIA UNIVERSITY: I think it is, you know, cultish, in the sense that it’s very sectarian. They have a very strong view of us and them. They have a sense of the inner group because they feel victimised, marginalised and they have been subjected to severe injustice, that they need to take back Japan.

MATTHEW CARNEY: But their spokesperson says they are only trying to normalise Japan.

AKIRA MOMOCHI, NIPPON KAIGI, STRATEGIC COMMITTEE (voiceover translation): It is proper for an independent sovereign nation to have an army. There are no sovereign nations without one. Armies are deterrents. They exist to prevent war. We’ll keep our pacifist traditions, but we need to respond to the rising threat of China.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The fundamental vision for many in the group is to go back to a time when they say Japan was pure and free from foreign influence, like the Edo Period in the 16th to 18th centuries when outsiders were strictly forbidden and Japanese culture flourished. They believe this beautiful Japan has been lost.

HIDEAKI KASE, NIPPON KAIGI, TOKYO BRANCH: There are two Japans. One is traditional Japan and one is Westernised Japan. And we wish to revert to the traditional Japan.

KOICHI NAKANO: They are romantic, they are irrational, they live in their own world. So they lack strategic thinking in terms of what they are going for and for what reason and how does that serve national interest in realistic terms?

MATTHEW CARNEY: The darker side to the organisation is to deny any wrongdoing in Japan’s war-time past. They assert World War II was one of defence, not aggression. They say comfort women were not sex slaves, but well-paid prostitutes and the rape and pillage of Nanjing in China that historians say killed up to 200,000 was a fiction.

HIDEAKI KASE: There was no massacre at all. That is an utterly false accusation.

KOICHI NAKANO: They try to rewrite history in order – and they think that this is fundamental to what they see as Japan’s need to restore pride. They think that because the kids and the – you know, the adults of Japan are being brainwashed by self-blame and a sense of shame in their history.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Many in Japan think Nippon Kaigi’s ideas are dangerous and have to be countered. Professor Setsu Kobayashi is one of the country’s top constitutional experts.

SETSU KOBAYASHI, CONSTITUTIONAL EXPERT (voiceover translation): They’re thinking about Asia before the war when Japan was the leader of Asia. They want to repeat that. They openly say that.

MATTHEW CARNEY: On his Friday lunchtime radio spot, he warns against reform of the Constitution, arguing it could lead Japan down the warpath. So far, Prime Minister Abe and Nippon Kaigi have succeeded in passing security bills that let the armed forces fight overseas again. Kobayashi says the move is unconstitutional.

SETSU KOBAYASHI (voiceover translation): The majority of people are not convinced. We have to fight and not give up, otherwise we’ll live under a dictatorship. Freedom and democracy will not exist.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Professor Kobayashi was once a member of Nippon Kaigi, but is now one of its biggest critics. He tried to change them from the inside, but couldn’t. As a self-described commoner, he says the organisation is one of elites, out of touch with the people. Polls consistently show that the majority of Japanese don’t want the country’s pacifist constitution to change.

SETSU KOBAYASHI (voiceover translation): They want to achieve the dream that Japan pursued pre-war to be one of the top five military powers in the world. To enable this, our country will go around the world fighting wars alongside the Americans. Mr Abe went to the United Nations and said that Japan will seek aggressive peace; militarism is another name.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Professor Kobayashi now devotes much of his time fighting the Nippon Kaigi and the reform of the Constitution. He believes it’s a battle for the very hearts and minds of the Japanese and the outcome will decide the country’s future. The Nippon Kaigi say their ambition is to simply protect Japan and its identity.

AKIRA MOMOCHI (voiceover translation): It is a difference of opinion. We want to retain the Japanese traditions, to make Japan as it should be. We have the power to do it.

ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Since the SEALDs activism topic has inspired much discussion on Debito.org, let’s look at them (and other youth protesters in Japan) from another angle, where an academic colleague argues that the group is by design demonstrating without full devotion to the cause.

This article came out before SEALDs announced that it was disbanding, so I wonder if partial devotion means killing off the group without transitioning to new leadership to preserve the credibility of the hard-won brand.  (No mention either of allegations of parochialism and bullying towards NJ.)  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

From Robin O’Day, “Differentiating SEALDs from Freeters, and Precariats: the politics of youth movements in contemporary Japan”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 13, Issue 37, No. 2, September 14, 2015.

Excerpt:

SEALDs is suggesting that students can use some of the freedom that their positioning affords for political engagement, instead of channeling it into more traditional activities like sports clubs and social circles, that tend to dominate students’ leisure time.

Yet SEALDs is also proposing something more significant than a reallocation of students’ time—they are also attempting to construct a different kind of political identity among college students. Another SEALDs member explained it this way:

“Our movement is not our life; it is a part of our life not our whole life. I went to class yesterday as usual, and we have rappers, people who do music, people who just study, people who are trying to be teachers, we have all kinds of people, and our movement is a part of what we do in our life but not our whole life. If you focus on the movement and movement only, you will become narrow.”

What this SEALDs member is suggesting is a reconfiguration of what constitutes student political identity. SEALDs is essentially showing other students that it is acceptable to seriously engage political ideas, without become radical, or having to completely devote themselves to the cause. SEALDs is challenging an all-or-nothing orientation to politics that tends to cleave most students into taking either an apolitical stance, or fully committing to a cause that will likely marginalize them. Instead, SEALDs is coming up the middle with a proposition that you can be a regular student, have conventional ambitions, aspire to a middleclass life, and still carve out a piece of yourself that is informed and engaged with political issues. If this proposition is hardly radical, it is currently resonating with a broad spectrum of students.

Entire article at http://apjjf.org/-Robin-O_Day/4376/article.html

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. One particular topic Debito.org has not touched upon enough is activism in general by liberal-minded students, in particular the group attracting much attention called Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs). I have only mentioned them here and in my year-end round up of the Top Ten Human Rights Issues for 2015 for the Japan Times (I placed them at #6), where I wrote:

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“On the other hand, the most high-profile youth group against the Abe Cabinet’s right-wing push (and darling of the international media), the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs), decided to flame out with flair. At an news conference in October at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, SEALDs leaders announced that with their impending graduation from college, they wouldn’t just be stepping down in 2016 as organizers — they would disband the group without a transition to a younger generation.

“Coming off as more concerned with their own short-term individual interests than the larger movements within Japanese society, SEALDs seemed to show that even Japan’s most vibrant, cosmopolitan and appealing young activists (which matters, as this year the voting age will drop from 20 to 18) are nonetheless intimidated by power, and treat human rights advocacy as a temporary hobby.”
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While I am not changing my position regarding the cravenness of SEALDs organizers, let’s be fair. They have been overtly threatened by authority. Check out this article from last August. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Should SEALDs student activists worry about not getting hired?
BY HIFUMI OKUNUKI
THE JAPAN TIMES, AUG 30, 2015

Summer 2015 — 70 years since Japan’s defeat in World War II. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling coalition have rammed two security bills through the Lower House that overturn decades of interpretation of the Constitution by enabling Japan to engage in collective self-defense. Now he hopes to do the same in the Upper House.

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.”

But if these youths were only thinking of themselves, would they really be engaged in a collective social movement like SEALDs? Also, the idea that not wanting to go off to war is “selfish” is itself a serious attack on individual thought and freedom of conscience. It reminds me of the totalitarianism that prevailed before the war, and I was shocked to hear a modern-day politician utter such a comment. I assumed he must be some old fogey, so when I discovered it was 36-year-old Takaya Muto, I was flabbergasted.

The fact that a lawmaker would use such extremist language perhaps offers some insight into the extent of panic within the LDP at SEALDs’ growing strength. The comment caused quite a stir. That and some alleged financial shenanigans led to Muto’s resignation from the LDP on Aug. 19.

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.”

“When companies scout for students,” he elaborated, “they look at the name of the university. They don’t look at the students themselves. All the power lies in the side that selects. … Since the corporation is the one that selects, everything must follow the company’s rules and interests. This is reality.

“To give a specific example, say a sports club becomes involved in a rape scandal. The university’s reputation is damaged and it affects all students. The rapists’ reputations are of course damaged, but the university is also seen as ‘that kind of university.’ The fellow students who were unable to prevent such a scandal become tainted as people who would be likewise unable or unwilling to protect the reputation of the company. So there would be no reason to hire such a student.

“The university’s reputation was not built by the current student body. Since it was not acquired by current students, they have no right to protest. … This reputation was a gift given to current students from their seniors who have already graduated and gone out into the world, making a name for the university. If they damage the reputation of the university to which they belong, it’s obvious how things are going to play out. We should do everything possible to eliminate the risk of this. A corporation should not be asked to shoulder such a risk to its reputation.

“Careers begin with an offer from a corporation, but it’s already too late for that. The result is that they will all be shot down. Some students are at prestigious schools such as Waseda or Keio University. These students are probably OK since many famous politicians, police and bureaucrats are from there. Selection takes precedence in all cases, so the impact on these students will only be slight. However, students at universities with little power, history or tradition won’t be so lucky. They will not be selected and as a result, all will be eliminated. I have even heard of cases where the professors join the demos and egg on their students.”

To sum up, Kotsubo says: 1) Corporations have all the power over whether to hire; 2) when hiring, corporations place great weight on the reputation of an applicant’s university and don’t really look at the students themselves; 3) if the university’s brand name is hurt, all students attending that university lose credibility; 4) students engaged in social movements are damaging the brand value of their universities; 5) the risk for students at prestigious colleges like Waseda and Keio is slight, but students at less prestigious schools are a write-off (i.e., They will never get a job); and 6) I am saying all this for the benefit of students, but the most guilty are the professors who encourage students to protest without warning them of the risks.

Let’s examine Kotsubo’s rant from the perspective of labor law…

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/08/30/issues/sealds-student-activists-worry-not-getting-hired/

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

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Hi Blog.  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.  Have a read.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Success of ‘Abenomics’ hinges on immigration policy
BY REIJI YESHIVA, THE JAPAN TIMES MAY 18, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/05/18/national/success-abenomics-hinges-immigration-policy/

In March, Hidenori Sakanaka, a former director of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, was contacted by — and met with — a group of people he had never dreamed of crossing paths with: asset managers from global investment firms.

Sakanaka, who now heads the Japan Immigration Policy Institute in Tokyo, was asked to explain Japan’s notoriously tight immigration policies and his proposal to drastically ease them to save Japan from the severe consequences of its rapidly aging and shrinking population.

Sakanaka said the asset managers showed strong interest in a remark made the previous month by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and that they were wondering if they should buy Japanese assets, such as stocks and real estate.

In February, Abe indicated he is considering easing Japan’s immigration policies to accept more migrant workers to drive long-term economic growth.

The asset managers reportedly included representatives from investment giants BlackRock Inc. and Capital Group.

“Global investors have a consistent policy of not investing in a country with a shrinking working and consumer population,” Sakanaka told The Japan Times.

“If the working population keeps shrinking, it will keep pushing down consumption and the country will be unable to maintain economic growth. In short, this means the growth strategies of ‘Abenomics’ can’t be successful without accepting immigrants,” Sakanaka said.

Abe is set to revamp in June the elusive “third arrow” of his economic program — structural reforms and subsidies that could boost Japan’s potential for mid- to long-term growth.

Whether drastic deregulation of immigration is part of the third arrow is something that both the public and the foreign investment firms want to know.

Japan’s population will dramatically shrink over the next five decades, from 117.52 million in 2012 to 87 million in 2060 — if the fertility rate doesn’t climb. The rate is expected to hover at 1.39 this year before dipping to 1.33 through 2024 and edging up to 1.35 for the foreseeable future.

Gross domestic product is expected to shrink accordingly, which could reduce the world’s third-largest economy to a minor player both economically and politically, many fear.

“Whether to accept (more) immigrants or not is an issue relevant to the future of our country and the overall life of the people. I understand that (the government) should study it from various angles after undergoing national-level discussions,” Abe told the Lower House Budget Committee on Feb. 13.

On May 12, members of a special government advisory panel on deregulation proposed creating six special regions where visa regulations would be eased to attract more foreign professionals and domestic helpers and baby sitters to assist them.

The daily Nikkei reported the government is likely to insert visa deregulation for certain types of foreigners in the Abenomics revamp due in June, but how many he is willing to let in remains unclear.

The conservative politician has so far appeared reluctant to promote heavy immigration and risk transforming Japan’s stable but rather rigid and exclusive society.

Abe has argued Japan should give more foreigners three- to five-year visas rather than let a massive number of immigrants permanently settle in Japan.

“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.

“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.

Two high-ranking officials close to Abe, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said they are aware that foreign investors are interested in potential changes in Japanese immigration policy.

But their main interest appears to be to keep foreign investors interested in Japan, and trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, rather than transform Japan into a multicultural society by accepting more immigrants.

One of the two officials has repeatedly suggested he is paying close attention to foreign investors, pointing out that it is they, not Japanese investors, who have been pushing up stock prices since Abe took office in December 2012.

“We won’t call it an immigration policy, but I think we should accept more foreign workers,” the official said in February.

Hiking immigration is a sensitive issue for the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, the official said. But the idea of using them to fill shortages in medical, nursing, child care, for example, would be more palatable to such politicians, the official added.

Abe’s call for more short- to midterm migrant workers might help the short-handed construction, medical and nursing industries, among others. But it is unlikely to solve Japan’s long-term population crisis.

Junichi Goto, professor of economics at Keio University and an expert on immigration issues, said few people are opposed to bringing in more foreign professionals to reinvigorate the economy and that deregulation is urgently needed.

When it comes to unskilled workers, however, Goto is opposed to flooding Japan with cheap labor and says that a national consensus on the issue hasn’t been formed yet.

According to Goto’s studies and simulations, bringing in low-wage, unskilled foreigners would benefit consumers by pushing down domestic labor costs and thus prices for goods and services, thereby boosting consumption. On the other hand, he says the cost of domestic education, medical and other public services would rise.

The benefits of bringing in foreigners will far outweigh the demerits, unless Japan ships them in by the millions, Goto’s study says.

“If the Japanese people wish to accept millions of foreign workers, that would be OK. But I don’t think they are ready for such a big social change yet,” Goto said.

Instead, Goto argued that Japan should first encourage more women and elderly to work to offset the predicted shrinkage. It should then ease regulations to lure foreign professionals rather than unskilled laborers, and reform the rigid seniority-based wage system to make it easier for midcareer foreigners to enter the labor market, Goto said.

At any rate, the rapid demographic changes now hitting Japan are unlikely to leave much time for the people to make a decision.

The proportion of seniors 65 or older will surge from 24 percent to as much as 39.9 percent in 2060, raising the burden on younger generations to support social security.

The Japan Policy Council, a study group of intellectuals from various fields, estimates that in 2040, 896 of Japan’s municipalities, or virtually half, will see the number of women in their 20s and 30s decline by more than half from 2010 as they flock to big cities.

Such municipalities “could eventually vanish” even if the birthrate recovers, the group warned in a report May 8.

Sakanaka praised Abe’s February remarks, saying it is a significant change from Japan’s long-standing reluctance to accept foreign workers.

But if Abe decides to open Japan only to short-term migrants, rather than permanent immigrants, Abenomics will end in failure, Sakanaka warned.
ENDS

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

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Hi Blog. My latest Just Be Cause column 94 for the Japan Times Community Page:

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg
Battles over history, the media and the message scar 2015
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
THE JAPAN TIMES, JAN 3, 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/

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here is my latest for the JT. 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. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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ISSUES | THE FOREIGN ELEMENT
Much jaw-jaw about war-war: the year 2015 in quotes
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
DEC 23, 2015, THE JAPAN TIMES

Published version at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/12/23/issues/much-jaw-jaw-war-war-year-2015-quotes/

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.

“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.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/12/14/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-picked-china-build-indias-high-speed-rail-link-15-billion-deal/

“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.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/04/28/remarks-president-obama-and-prime-minister-abe-japan-joint-press-confere

“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.
http://www.japantoday.com/category/quote-of-the-day/view/if-japan-gets-attacked-we-have-to-immediately-go-to-their-aid-if-we-get-attacked-japan-doesnt-have-to-help-us

“Administrative bodies must leave records. Without records, how could the public as well as experts examine the process in the future?”
— Shinichi Nishikawa, professor of politics at Meiji University, commenting in September on the Abe administration’s lack of records on internal discussions behind the historical reinterpretation of the Constitution in 2014, which led to the lifting of the long-held ban on collective self-defense, potentially enabling Japanese troops to fight overseas for the first time since World War II.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/09/28/national/politics-diplomacy/government-skipped-recording-debate-over-constitutional-reinterpretation/

“I have been really annoyed by this issue. … I have nothing to do with the design. Whatever (stadium) might be built, my committee would not have anything to do with it.”
— Yoshiro Mori, head of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games’ Organizing Committee, handling flak in July over plans for the new National Stadium, which were eventually abandoned after its budget doubled without any public explanation.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/22/national/mori-denies-role-failed-stadium-bid/

“Does local autonomy or democracy exist in Japan? Is it normal that Okinawa alone bears the burden? I want to ask (these questions) to all of the people [of Japan],”
— Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, criticizing the Japanese government in December for its plan to relocate US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko, despite strong popular protests about environmental damage and Okinawa’s disproportionate hosting of American military bases in Japan.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/12/06/editorials/legal-showdown-henoko/

“Despite the principle of separation of powers, the judiciary in Japan tends to subordinate itself to the administrative branch. I think it will be very difficult for the prefectural government to win the suit.”
— Former Okinawa Governor Masahide Ota commenting in November on the lawsuit between Okinawa Prefecture and the central government over the Henoko Base construction plan, based upon his experience twenty years ago when he lost a case in Japan’s Supreme Court over denying leases of local lands for US military use.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/11/17/national/politics-diplomacy/former-okinawa-governor-raps-japanese-government-suit-u-s-base/

“In March, an internal document of the SDF was exposed in a Lower House Budget Committee meeting, showing a plan to permanently station about 800 Japanese Ground Self Defense Force troops at U.S. Marine Camp Schwab at Henoko and other U.S. facilities in Okinawa.”
— Sentaku monthly magazine, commenting in July on the probable future use of US bases by the Japanese military in light of increasing tensions with China.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/07/28/commentary/japan-commentary/henoko-base-eventually-will-be-used-by-the-sdf/

“Should we leave terrorism or weapons of mass destruction to spread in this region, the loss imparted upon the international community would be immeasurable… I will pledge assistance of a total of about 200 million U.S. dollars for those countries contending with ISIL, to help build their human capacities, infrastructure, and so on.”
— Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, pledging non-military assistance for Middle-Eastern Countries battling Islamic State, in January.
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-japam-idUSKBN0KQ07L20150117

“Abe, because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this knife will not only slaughter Kenji, but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found. So let the nightmare for Japan begin.”
— Terrorist “Jihadi John” of the Islamic State, in a video message to the Government of Japan in January showing footage of journalist Kenji Goto’s beheading after being taken hostage.
http://leaksource.info/2015/01/31/graphic-video-islamic-state-beheads-japanese-journalist-kenji-goto/

“The Japanese government didn’t make due efforts to save my son. It was simply remiss in its duties. I believe my son died a tragic death because the government did nothing. I demand that it conduct a thorough soul-searching.”
— Junko Ishido, mother of Kenji Goto, in a statement in May denouncing the Japanese government’s handling of the hostage crisis.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/26/national/gotos-mother-alleges-government-inaction-led-sons-death-hands-islamic-state/

“差別のない世界を子どもたちに” “難民歓迎” “民主主義を肯定“
“Give children a world without discrimination.” “Refugees welcome” “Reaffirming democracy.”
— Slogans shouted by 2,500 demonstrators at a third-annual Tokyo Democracy March in November in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
http://www.jcp.or.jp/akahata/aik15/2015-11-23/2015112301_04_1.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=13675

“There are 100 million voters in Japan. What percent of them are protesting in front of the Diet? The number is insignificant. I’m not denying their right to protest. But it’s wrong for the national will to be decided by such a small number of demonstrators.”
— Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, regarding a demonstration in August that organizers said drew 120,000 people to protest security legislation that paves the way for the deployment of Japanese troops abroad to fight in defense of allies even when Japan is not directly threatened.
http://www.japantoday.com/category/quote-of-the-day/view/its-a-denial-of-democracy-if-just-that-many-protesters-would-be-enough-to-decide-the-will-of-the-nation-the-number-of-voters-in-japan-is-100-million-the-protesters-in-front-of-the-diet-would-be-no

“Their claims are based on their self-centered and extremely egoistic thinking that they don’t want to go to war. We can blame postwar education for such widespread selfish individualism.”
— LDP Diet Member Takaya Muto, 36, criticizing university students protesting the aforementioned controversial security bills in August.
http://www.japantoday.com/category/quote-of-the-day/view/their-claims-are-based-on-their-self-centered-and-extremely-egoistic-thinking-that-they-dont-want-to-go-to-war-we-can-blame-postwar-education-for-such-widespread-selfish-individualism

“Since we started our activities as an ‘emergency action,’ and many of our members are slated to graduate from universities soon, SEALDs will dissolve after next summer’s Upper House election. After that, if individual persons want to take action or create another movement, they are free to do so.”
— Mana Shibata, 22, organizer of the prominent Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy, speaking at a news conference in October at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/10/28/national/politics-diplomacy/anti-war-student-organization-close-shop-upper-house-poll/

“It’s not only pre-war nostalgia. He needed to step up the rhetoric for the election. But I don’t think it’s coincidental that something related to wartime propaganda came up.”
— Sven Saaler, history professor at Sophia University, on Abe’s new goal of building a “Society in which all 100 million people can play an active role,” and how it is redolent of an old martial mobilization slogan.
http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-japan-abe-slogan-idUKKCN0RW0SO20151002

“People come up to me every day and ask, ‘What happened to women’s empowerment?’ ”
— Masako Mori, former cabinet minister in charge of grappling with Japan’s declining birthrate, noting how as soon as Abe launched his “100 million active people” catchphrase in September, his previous one about empowering women disappeared.
http://www.japantoday.com/category/quote-of-the-day/view/people-come-up-to-me-every-day-and-ask-what-happened-to-womens-empowerment

“There’s something wrong about exploiting underprivileged women from abroad to do household work in the name of boosting female labor participation in Japan. Men’s share of housework has not yet been discussed sufficiently.”
— Motoko Yamagishi, secretary general of Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan, speaking in November about the foreign workers being imported as maids and household workers on an experimental basis in Osaka and Kanagawa, which have been designated as “special economic zones” where some labor protections do not apply.
http://www.japantoday.com/category/quote-of-the-day/view/theres-something-wrong-about-exploiting-underprivileged-women-from-abroad-to-do-household-work-in-the-name-of-boosting-female-labor-participation-in-japan-mens-share-of-housework-ha

“International Court of Justice judges are not necessarily experts in marine resources.”
— An unnamed Foreign Ministry spokesman in October, confirming that Japan will no longer respond to lawsuits filed over whaling issues. Japan later announced it would resume “research” whaling in 2016 despite the ICJ having ruled that the program was anything but scientific.
http://www.japantoday.com/category/quote-of-the-day/view/icj-judges-are-not-necessarily-experts-in-marine-resources
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/29/japan-to-resume-whaling-programme

赴任前、入会していた日本外国特派員協会で、日本語ができない外国人記者たちが偏向した「反日」記事を世界に発信しているのを苦々しく感じた。日本も日本語能力を外国人特派員へのビザ発給の条件にしたらどうだろうか。正しい日本理解につながるかもしれない。
“When I was a member of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, I had a bitter feeling that foreign reporters who don’t understand the Japanese language are filing biased ‘anti-Japan’ articles worldwide. How about Japan making Japanese language ability a condition for issuing a visa? That might lead to a correct understanding of Japan.”
— Author Noburu Okabe in a column earlier this month in the conservative Sankei Shimbun.
http://www.sankei.com/column/news/151215/clm1512150004-n1.html
http://www.fccj.or.jp/number-1-shimbun/item/639-new-members-in-july/639-new-members-in-july.html

“In Japan, the postwar generations now exceed eighty per cent of its population. We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize. Still, even so, we Japanese, across generations, must squarely face the history of the past. We have the responsibility to inherit the past, in all humbleness, and pass it on to the future.”
— Shinzo Abe’s Statement on the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War II, in August.
http://japan.kantei.go.jp/97_abe/statement/201508/0814statement.html

“But, focusing on the vocabulary, some observers failed to notice that Abe had embedded these words [of apology and remorse] 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. So which past is the Abe statement engraving in the hearts of Japanese citizens? …The problem with Abe’s new narrative is that it is historically wrong.”
— Historian Tessa Morris-Suzuki commenting shortly afterwards on how Abe’s WWII Statement fails History 101.
http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2015/08/18/abes-wwii-statement-fails-history-101/

やはり従軍慰安婦の問題というのは正式に政府のスタンスというのがよくまだ見えませんよね。そういう意味において、やはり今これを取り上げてですね、我々が放送するということが本当に妥当かどうかということは本当に慎重に考えなければいけないと思っております。
“Regarding the ‘comfort women’ issue, I can’t see an official government stance on it yet. So for that reason, I think it’s very important to consider very prudently whether it is appropriate for us to take it up for broadcast.”
— NHK Director-General Katsuto Momii, revealing the national broadcaster’s lack of independence from the government vis-à-vis reporting on issues surrounding Japan’s government-sponsored wartime sexual slavery.
http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH256DRYH25UCVL01P.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/27/world/asia/in-japan-bid-to-stifle-media-is-working.html

もう20−30年も前に南アフリカ共和国の実情を知って以来、私は、居住区だけは、白人、アジア人、黒人というふうに分けて住む方がいい、と思うようになった。
“After 20-30 years knowing the situation in The Republic of South Africa, I have come to believe that whites, Asians and blacks should be separated and live in different residential areas.”
— Ayako Sono, novelist and former Abe Cabinet adviser on education reform, in another Sankei Shimbun column, this one in February advising that a similar policy be instituted in Japan.
http://www.debito.org/?p=13061

“Already we have more foreigners than registered dogs.”
— Hiroaki Noguchi, a Liberal Democratic Party assemblyman in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, while asking questions earlier this month about the number of foreign residents who had allegedly not paid their taxes.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/12/13/national/saitama-assemblyman-apologizes-remark-number-registered-dogs-foreigners/

“Municipalities can offer the biggest support to same-sex couples who face hardships in everyday life. We want to deliver this message: Don’t worry on your own, we are with you.”
— Tomoko Nakagawa, mayor of Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, which announced in November that it was joining two Tokyo wards in legally recognizing same-sex partnerships as being equivalent to marriage.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/11/30/national/social-issues/another-japanese-city-to-recognize-same-sex-unions/

“Our children will still be around in 2100, and that’s the perspective we need to remember.”
— Japanese Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa, speaking in the lead-up to the December Paris talks on climate change, which led to a historic agreement by 196 countries to limit carbon emissions and forest degradation before global warming reaches irreversible levels.
http://www.japantoday.com/category/quote-of-the-day/view/our-children-will-still-be-around-in-2100-and-thats-the-perspective-we-need-to-remember http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/12/12/world/paris-climate-change-deal-explainer.html

“Other advanced countries prioritize political education. Things like mock elections should be promoted for students in Japan. If young people aren’t encouraged to participate in politics, we’ll end up with politics only for the elderly.”
— Tokyo University education professor Shigeo Kodama, an education professor at the University of Tokyo, commenting in the lead-up to the lowering of Japan’s legal voting age from 20 to 18 in June.
http://www.japantoday.com/category/quote-of-the-day/view/other-advanced-countries-prioritize-political-education-things-like-mock-elections-should-be-promoted-for-students-in-japan-if-young-people-arent-encouraged-to-participate-in-politics-we

“Young people aren’t hanging around places for a long time as much as they used to. It’s tough to know what they’re doing and where. Police haven’t been able to keep up with the spread of social networks. It’s getting harder to grasp what’s happening.”
— An unnamed senior National Police Agency official speaking in March about the ills of social media on Japan’s youth.
http://www.japantoday.com/category/quote-of-the-day/view/young-people-arent-hanging-around-places-for-a-long-time-as-much-as-they-used-to-its-tough-to-know-what-theyre-doing-and-where-police-havent-been-able-to-keep-up

“If you come across children alone at night, please ask them, ‘What are you doing?’ If this is difficult, it’s also OK to contact the police and other authorities.”
— Mieko Miyata, director of the Japan Research Institute of Safer Child Education, speaking after two junior high school children were found dead after they had spent a night hanging around the streets of Neyagawa, Osaka Prefecture, in August.
http://www.japantoday.com/category/quote-of-the-day/view/if-you-come-across-children-alone-at-night-please-ask-them-what-are-you-doing-if-this-is-difficult-its-also-ok-to-contact-the-police-and-other-authorities

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) establishes in the Asia-Pacific a free, fair and open international economic system with countries that share the basic values of freedom, democracy, basic human rights and the rule of law.”
— Prime Minister Abe, in a response to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement struck between 12 Pacific Rim economies in October.
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-trade-tpp-abe-idUSKCN0S004920151006

“The TPP could violate the Japanese right to get stable food supply, or the right to live, guaranteed by Article 25 of the nation’s Constitution.”
— Masahiko Yamada, Agriculture Minister under previous Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, filing a lawsuit against the government to halt Japanese involvement in TPP talks in May.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/15/national/crime-legal/ex-minister-turns-courts-bid-keep-japan-tpp-talks

“Japan is full of Chinese, they ask to go to places with none. That’s a difficult one to handle.”
— Yasushi Nakamura, President of Hato Bus Co., commenting in November on the ubiquity of Chinese tourists in Japan in 2015.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/11/12/business/aboard-tokyos-yellow-hato-bus-china-tourists-surge/

“In the trash collection areas on each floor, you’ll see veritable mountains of discarded boxes for cosmetics, shoes, small electrical appliances and so on. And they don’t even bother to flatten and tie them up for pickup. I had to go to the building custodian for assistance.”
— Unnamed resident complaining about Chinese tourists engaging in bakugai (“explosive buying”), leaving their rubbish in apartment complexes they have rented out to avoid recently-inflated hotel prices.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/12/12/national/media-national/no-tolerance-inns-chinas-shoppers/

“The Self-Defence Forces are trying to brainwash students without leaving any evidence behind.”
— Parent of a school student in Shiga, complaining in October about the SDF distributing recruitment messages on toilet paper to six junior high schools in the prefecture.
http://www.japantoday.com/category/quote-of-the-day/view/the-sdf-is-trying-to-brainwash-students-without-leaving-any-evidence-behind

ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Lots of people have sent me this one. Comment follows articles:

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

Saitama assemblyman apologizes for remark about number of registered dogs, foreigners
The Japan Times, DEC 13, 2015, courtesy of JK and JDG
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/12/13/national/saitama-assemblyman-apologizes-remark-number-registered-dogs-foreigners/

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.

He told assembly Chairman Kazunari Inagawa on Thursday that he wished to withdraw the remark, the report said.

On Friday, Inagawa reprimanded Noguchi and decided to delete the remark from assembly minutes and video records, according to the report.

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.
ENDS

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

外国人市民「犬より多い」 市議発言、議事録から削除
朝日新聞デジタル 12月12日(土)22時44分配信
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20151212-00000044-asahi-pol
Courtesy of BM and TB

開会中の埼玉県川口市議会で、野口宏明議員(自民)の一般質問に、外国人市民の増加を犬の登録数と比較した差別的な発言があったとして、議会が議事録とネット配信用動画から一部削除する手続きをとったことが12日わかった。

発言があったのは9日の国民健康保険の外国人加入者に関する質問。野口氏は「市内の犬の登録数は今年9月末に2万6399頭。外国人は同時期に2万7028人と、もうすでに外国人のほうが多くなっている」と述べた。

発言の冒頭に「例えは悪いが」と断りを入れたが、「不適切だ」とその日のうちに複数の会派から議長に申し入れがあり、議長が野口氏から事情を聴くなどしていた。この問題は11日の各会派代表者連絡会議で協議した結果、「外国人への差別、侮辱と受け取られかねない発言だった」と結論づけ、犬の登録数との比較部分の削除を決めた。

野口氏は、取材に「誤解を招きかねない表現だった」と話している。(伊藤典俊)

朝日新聞社

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

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 — mere deletion of the comment.

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.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

PS:  I found this comment up at the JT amusing: “GIJPeople like this guy Noguchi are the ones who lend credibility to the activities of somewhat over the top social justice warriors like Debito. There is no filter, no restraining mechanism of any kind it seems, for LDP politicians in particular.” Well, yeah.

Here are Noguchi’s deets:

noguchihiroakihomepage

Courtesy of http://www.h-noguchi.jp

 

kawaguchinoguchihiroakiinfosite

Courtesy http://kawaguchi.gsl-service.net/meibo/2015051600176/

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Now here’s something interesting (and geopolitical, but 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.):

According to the article below, 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 below, 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 (see also here).  I don’t think they understand what Frankenstein they’re creating.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Abe First Non-American to Win Conservative Hudson Institute Award
Wall Street Journal Sep 23, 2013
http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2013/09/23/abe-first-non-american-to-win-conservative-hudson-institute-award/

European Pressphoto Agency: The Hudson Institute says it’s honoring Shinzo Abe ‘as a transformative leader.’

On Sept. 25, 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.

The award, named after Hudson Institute’s founder, the physicist-turned-geopolitical thinker Herman Kahn, is given every year to honor creative and visionary leaders with a Kahn-style dedication to national security–traditionally in the U.S. Mr. Abe will be the first non-American honoree to receive the Herman Kahn Award.

“Abe is being honored as a transformative leader seeking to advance the kind of reform necessary to restore Japan to full economic vitality,” the institute said in its news release. At the award ceremony to be held in New York on Wednesday, Mr. Abe is expected to deliver “a major speech” on economic reform in Japan and the continuing importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance, according to the release.

The Hudson Institute–as well as Mr. Kahn–has long had close ties with conservative leaders in Japan. Though Mr. Kahn started off his career as a physicist at the Rand Corporation in the 1940s, he moved on to writing about nuclear strategy with the publication of “On Thermonuclear War,” and then to the study of geopolitical trends, including the rise of Japan.

Mr. Kahn is known for predicting Japan’s ascendance as early as 1962, and in 1970 wrote “The Emerging Japanese Superstate,” in which he said that the country would “almost inevitably” become a great economic, technological and financial power–and would likely achieve global military and political clout as well. Mr. Kahn was a “confidante of every Japanese prime minister from Hayato Ikeda on,” until his death in 1983, the institute press release on the award to Mr. Abe said.

Mr. Abe too “is a longtime friend of Hudson Institute, someone who knows the critical importance of ideas to effective governance,” Hudson Institute Chief Executive Kenneth Weinstein said, in the release. “Given Herman Kahn’s legacy of research on Japan, it is altogether appropriate to honor Abe-san.”

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.

“The importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance is increasing as a means to deter any attempt by a country to forcefully change the national borders,” Mr. Ishihara was quoted as saying by the Japanese press at the time.

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.

Mr. Abe has made no secret of his own nationalist leanings. He’s pushing to strengthen Japan’s national security, as the nation feels growing pressure from China’s rising economic–and military–power. China’s annual military spending has grown rapidly in recent years, reaching $166 billion in 2012, nearly triple Japan’s $59 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

But Mr. Abe needs to walk a fine line. He can’t pursue his pet issue of national security unless he first addresses Japan’s economic and fiscal problems–major challenges on their own. Wednesday’s Hudson Institute speech will offer the latest clues on how Mr. Abe hopes to proceed. ENDS

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

What the Hudson Institute itself says about the event:

2013 Herman Kahn Award Luncheon Honoring Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Hudson Institute, Sept. 25, 2013, courtesy of VF
http://www.hudson.org/events/1105-2013-herman-kahn-award-luncheon-honoring-japanese-prime-minister-shinzo-abe92013

(Video)
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.

The Prime Minister was introduced at the event by his long-time friend and Hudson Senior Vice President Lewis Libby. Abe then took the stage himself to accept the Kahn Award, offering kind and generous remarks about Hudson before delivering a substantial and serious talk about his plans to reform the Japanese economy—and his determination “to make my beloved country a proactive contributor to peace.”

“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.”

Hudson Institute Board Chair Sarah May Stern and Hudson President & CEO Kenneth R. Weinstein also made remarks during the ceremony, with Weinstein adding a special additional tribute to Hudson trustee Yoji Ohashi, Chairman of ANA Holdings Inc., for his visionary contributions to commercial aviation and dedication to a strong bilateral relationship between the United States and Japan.

ENDS

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

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Tackle embedded racism before it chokes Japan
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times, NOV 1, 2015

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/

Please comment below, and thanks for reading!

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. For those who think I was exaggerating about the mystical ideology behind the Abe Administration’s aims in my most recent Japan Times JBC column, please consider the following article. Courtesy of MS and GS. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Reviving Shinto: Prime Minister Abe tends special place in Japan’s soul
Conservatives seek to expand the role of Japan’s indigenous faith in public life. But critics warn that could feed a simmering nationalism.
By Michael Holtz, Christian Science Monitor, October 5, 2015
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2015/1005/Reviving-Shinto-Prime-Minister-Abe-tends-special-place-in-Japan-s-soul-video

TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s deep adoration for the Ise Grand Shrine, the most sacred Shinto site in Japan, is no secret. He visits every New Year and reportedly even postponed a cabinet meeting in 2013 to attend a ceremony on its hallowed ground.

So when Mr. Abe announced this summer that the 2016 summit of the Group of Seven industrialized nations would be held in the nearby resort city of Shima, Satoru Otowa wasn’t surprised.

“I believe it has something to do with his Shinto beliefs,” Mr. Otowa, a spokesman for the shrine, said while leading a tour there in August. “When the prime minister visited in January, everyone saw how passionately he prayed.”

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.”

Flying the flag
One of Keiji Furuya’s most formative experiences was the three years he spent as an exchange student in New York as a young teenager. Mr. Furuya, who has since become one of Japan’s most conservative LDP lawmakers, recalls marveling at America’s unabashed displays of patriotism. He was astonished to see flags billowing from front porches and students reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in school.

Growing up in Japan, Furuya’s never saw such displays. The official Shinto ideology used to promote Japanese superiority and a presumed right to govern Asia was tucked away after Japan’s defeat in 1945. Emperor Hirohito renounced his divine status as a “living god” in early 1946 and the country’s new Constitution, drafted by US occupation forces, enshrined pacifism as national policy.

The Constitution also mandated the separation of state and religion. The US occupation not only ended Shinto’s official designation, it inaugurated a period when Shinto began to disappear from Japanese society altogether. Shinto, along with the nationalism it helped spawn, quickly became taboo.

“For people like me who went through the postwar education system in Japan, raising a flag was not a popular thing to do,” Furuya said in August during an interview in his office conference room. As if to make up for the loss, the room had been adorned with three flags. “But as time went by,” he added, “I came to believe that it was natural to have respect and pride in one’s own country.”

It’s a belief that has come to define much of Furuya’s political career. He was first elected to Japan’s lower house of parliament in 1990 and re-elected to an eighth term in 2012. He also serves in Abe’s cabinet. As a defender of what he calls “true conservatism,” he considers it his duty to protect Japanese traditional values. To do so, he says, “We need drastic reforms.”

Interest in such reform has been building for much of the past decade. Masahiko Fujiwara’s “Dignity of a Nation” sold 2 million copies in 2006 and revived the concept of “bushido,” the honor code of the samurai. The former ultranationalist governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, spoke of the Japan “that could say no” to the US. And the introduction of patriotic education in public schools was one of Abe’s top initiatives during his first stint as prime minister from 2006 to 2007.

More recently, a new wave of conservatives – often compared to members of the tea party in the US – helped the LDP win a landslide victory in 2012 and put Abe back in power. Their support helped him pass a package of laws last month that allows Japan to send troops abroad in support of allies for the first time in its postwar era.

Shinto Association
Furuya’s support for a wide range of initiatives that aim to revive pieces of prewar Japanese culture led him to join Shinto Seiji Renmei (the Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership). Since its founding in 1969, Seiji Renmei has transformed into one of the most influential political lobbying groups in Japan. According to the most recent count, 302 parliament members are affiliated with the association, compared with 44 two decades ago. Abe and many of his top cabinet officials – including the deputy prime minister, defense minister, and justice minister – are longtime members.

Seiji Renmei’s mission is to reclaim the spiritual values that it says were lost under the US occupation. The association supports efforts to revise Japan’s pacifist Constitution, encourage patriotic and moral education, and promote the return of the emperor to a more prominent place in Japanese society. It also calls for restoring the special status of Yasukuni Shrine, a controversial memorial to Japan’s war dead, including convicted war criminals from World War II.

“After the war, there was an atmosphere that considered all aspects of the prewar era bad,” former Seiji Renmei director Yutaka Yuzawa told Reuters last December. “Policies were adopted weakening the relationship between the imperial household and the people,” he added, “and the most fundamental elements of Japanese history were not taught in the schools.”

Seiji Renmei declined multiple requests for an interview from The Christian Science Monitor.

Iwahashi Katsuji, a spokesman for the Association of Shinto Shrines, a closely linked organization that administers 80,000 shrines in Japan, says it’s time for the Japanese to re-evaluate their past.

“Even after the Meiji Restoration there are many good points,” he says, referring to Japan’s rapid transformation from a feudal farming society into an industrial power at the end of the 19th century. “Just saying that Japan lost the war and that Japan was bad and evil is not constructive.”

A growing influence?
Inoue Nobutaka, a professor of Shinto studies at Kokugakuin University in Tokyo, says it’s far from clear how much of the past Abe and his supporters want to revive. But he contends that organizations such as Seiji Renmei and Nippon Kaigi, a like-minded nationalist group, hold more sway over the Abe administration than they did over its predecessors.

“These groups have been politically active for a long time,” Dr. Nobutaka says. “Their influence has grown because Abe has turned to them for support.”

That support is starting to pay off. With the help of Furuya, who heads a group of conservative lawmakers that promotes the cultivation of patriotic values in schools, Seiji Renmei and its allies have gained some of the most ground in education.

The group argues that changes in the education system are essential to restoring Japanese pride, which they say has eroded over decades of teachers imparting “a masochistic view of history” on their students. Its members dispute the death toll of the 1937 massacre in Nanking that the Chinese government says stands at 300,000, and deny that the Japanese Army played a direct role in forcing so-called comfort women to provide sex to its soldiers in China and Korea.

The group launched a campaign this summer to encourage local education boards to adopt revised textbooks that eliminate negative depictions of Japan’s wartime activities. The strategy is gaining attention. Last month, 31 school districts in 14 prefectures had agreed to use the more conservative textbooks in their junior high schools, up from 23 districts in 11 prefectures four years ago.

Those achievements came after Abe pledged in January to fight what he called mistaken views about Japan’s wartime actions. Yet history is an unresolved subject in East Asia. In the eyes of China and South Korea, two victims of Japan’s early 20th-century aggression, Abe and his supporters are historical revisionists who want to whitewash the country’s wartime atrocities.

Abe’s critics warn the new textbooks could weaken an antiwar message they say has helped keep Japan peaceful for seven decades. But supporters like Furuya argue that they are needed to instill a new sense of patriotism among young people.

“That doesn’t mean we’re fostering nationalism,” Furuya says. “I believe it is natural to understand our country’s history correctly and to have respect for our country.”

The Ise mystique
The Ise Grand Shrine is a sprawling, tree-covered complex located in Mie prefecture, about 200 miles southwest of Tokyo near the Pacific coast. The sun goddess Amaterasu, a major Shinto deity who is believed to be an ancestral god of the imperial family, is enshrined in its inner sanctum. Her story is a powerful legend that draws millions of Japanese every year to pray at the shrine. It’s one that Abe is eager to share with the world.

“I wanted to choose a place where world leaders could have a full taste and feel of Japan’s beautiful nature, bountiful culture, and traditions,” he told reporters after announcing the location of the G-7 summit.

Never mind that the governor of Mie prefecture hadn’t even submitted a bid to host the summit when the deadline came and went last August. At the time, Hiroshima and Sendai, a major city in the area ravaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, were widely considered the frontrunners.

But it soon became clear that the prime minister had other plans. That December his staff contacted the Mie governor to encourage him to enter the race, according to reports in Japanese media. On Jan. 21, just weeks after Abe visited Ise to celebrate the New Year, Shima’s candidacy was announced. He declared it the winner on June 5.

The summit will in fact be held on an island off the coast of Shima. Yet that hasn’t stopped Abe from calling the host city Ise-Shima in an apparent effort to draw more attention to his beloved shrine.

“Every country has its myths,” says Dr. Nobutaka of Kokugakuin University. “Myth has a special place in the heart of the Japanese, regardless of what happened in the past.”
ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. My next Japan Times JBC 92 crystal balls again about Japan’s future based upon the landmark security legislation passed last month. JBC has been quite right about a lot of future developments these past few years. Let’s see how we do with this one. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Conveyor belt of death shudders back to live
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
Column 92 for The Japan Times Community Page
Monday, October 5, 2015

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…

Read the rest in The Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/10/04/issues/japan-rightists-patient-wait-conveyor-belt-death-shudders-back-life/.

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader JK keeps sending me intriguing tacks on recent articles (thanks), and here’s another bunch:

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.  JK parses that to bits below.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

From:  JK

Hi Debito:

From articles cited at the very bottom:

“The idea is that by accepting refugees as students, Japan could aid in training personnel for the later reconstruction of Syria.”

「留学生の受け入れで、将来的にシリアの再建に関わる人材の育成に寄与したい 考え。」

…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.”

「政府としては、現状の難民認定制度の枠組みや基準に影響を与えない形で、実 質的にシリア問題に貢献できる方法を探った形だ。」

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!

My armchair social theory is that the GOJ’s view of NJ is strictly monetary (i.e. get money from NJ tourists, give money to NJ refugees; NJ trainees / NJ bribes, etc.).

Abe speaks to boost Japan tourism at New York event
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002455922

Japan will do more to be well prepared to host foreign guests going into the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, he said at the seminar also joined by former New York Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui and U.S. actress Charlotte Kate Fox.

Abe: Japan ready to help refugees, but not take them in
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150930p2g00m0in032000c.html

“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.

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

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

Sources:

難民:「受け入れ」検討…政府、シリアから留学生として
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20150925k0000m010107000c.html

毎日新聞 2015年09月25日 09時00分

シリアなどから欧州に難民が押し寄せている問題を受け、日本政府はシリアから留学生として難民を受け入れる方向で検討に入った。欧州連合(EU)はギリシャなどに着いた12万人の難民受け入れで合意。米国も人数を年々増やし、2017会計年度には10万人を受け入れる方針を表明した。28日からニューヨークの国連総会で行われる各国首脳らの一般討論演説では、難民問題も議題になる見通しで、日本としてシリア問題に貢献する姿勢を国際社会に表明する狙いがある。

関係者によると、難民問題の解決に向けた資金拠出に加え、人的な面でも貢献できないか検討。留学生の受け入れで、将来的にシリアの再建に関わる人材の育成に寄与したい考え。

法務省によると、昨年の難民認定者数は5000人の申請者に対し11人。シリアからの難民申請者も、ほとんどが人道的配慮による在留許可にとどまる。留学生としての受け入れは、通常の難民認定とは異なるが、正規の資格で日本に滞在できる。政府としては、現状の難民認定制度の枠組みや基準に影響を与えない形で、実質的にシリア問題に貢献できる方法を探った形だ。【三木幸治、隅俊之】
【毎日新聞】
//////////////////////////////////////////////

Japanese gov’t considers accepting Syrian refugees as students
September 25, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150925p2a00m0na002000c.html

Japanese gov’t considers accepting Syrian refugees as students

As refugees from Syria and other countries pour into Europe, the Japanese government has begun to ponder accepting Syrian refugees in the form of students.

The European Union has agreed to accept 120,000 refugees that have arrived in countries including Greece, while the United States has announced its intention to accept an increasing number of refugees over the years, with 100,000 to be accepted in fiscal 2017. During speeches by member nations’ heads of state at the general debate of the United Nations General Assembly in New York starting Sept. 28, the refugee problem is expected to be discussed, and Japan aims to display to the international community its contributory stance in trying to solve the Syria problem.

According to an insider source, in addition to helping fund the solving of the refugee problem, considerations are also being made over whether Japan can contribute on the human side of the issue. The idea is that by accepting refugees as students, Japan could aid in training personnel for the later reconstruction of Syria.

The Ministry of Justice says that last year out of 5,000 refugee applicants, Japan approved 11. Most of the refugee applicants from Syria are only being allowed to stay out of humanitarian consideration. Acceptance as students, while different from the normal system of accommodating refugees, would allow refugees to be in Japan with official authorization. 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.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////////

Abe speaks to boost Japan tourism at New York event
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002455922
8:05 pm, September 29, 2015 Jiji Press

NEW YORK (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that he wants people to know more about Japan and have more exchanges with Japanese people.

Abe made the comments at a seminar organized at a New York hotel by the Japan National Tourism Organization to promote visits to Japan.

Japan will do more to be well prepared to host foreign guests going into the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, he said at the seminar also joined by former New York Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui and U.S. actress Charlotte Kate Fox.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////////

Abe: Japan ready to help refugees, but not take them in
September 30, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150930p2g00m0in032000c.html

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Japan’s prime minister said Tuesday that his nation needs to attend to its own demographic challenges posed by falling birth rates and an aging population before opening its doors to refugees.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced at the U.N. General Assembly that Japan is ramping up assistance in response to the exodus of refugees to Europe from the Middle East and Africa.

He said Japan will provide $1.5 billion in emergency aid for refugees and for stabilization of communities facing upheaval.

But speaking to reporters later Tuesday he poured cold water on the idea of Japan opening its doors to those fleeing.

He said Japan first needed to attend to domestic challenges which he proposes to tackle under a revamped economic policy that aims to boost GDP to a post-war record level, while bolstering the social security system to support families.

“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.

He added that Japan would “discharge our own responsibility” in addressing the refugee crisis, which he described as helping to improve conditions that cause the exodus.

Abe earlier told the world body that Japan would provide $810 million this year for emergency assistance of refugees and internally displaced persons from Syria and Iraq, triple what it gave last year. Abe said Japan is also preparing about $750 million for stabilization efforts in the Middle East and Africa.

Japan prides itself on being a good global citizen. It is one of the largest aid donors in the world. Last year Japan gave $181.6 million to the UNHCR, the United Nations’ refugee agency, making it second only to the United States in generosity.

But it has offered very few if any resettlement places for refugees from the civil war in Syria.

According to Ministry of Justice data, it accepted just 11 asylum seekers out of a record 5,000 applications last year, although Japanese officials say most of the asylum applicants were from other Asian countries and were already living in Japan.

Some argue that increased immigration could help arrest a shrinking population, which is currently 126 million. Abe says he is determined to ensure that in 50 years the Japanese population has stabilized at 100 million.

ENDS

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)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Japan’s Gaijin Handlers (people well-versed in representing Japan overseas in ways placating USG fears about Japan’s ulterior motives) are still making the rounds of America’s foreign-policy forums.  Debito.org covered one in October 2013, where a deputy chairman of an Abe Administration advisory panel on Japan’s security, Dr. Kitaoka Shin’ichi, basically told policy wonks on a whistle-stop tour of the US (courtesy of the East-West Center) that Japan’s “collective self-defense” wasn’t a remilitarization of Japan that should cause any worry.

This time, brought to you by the Japanese Consulate General (see page three of questionnaire below), and hosted by the East-West Center and the Center for Japanese Studies at UH Manoa, an academic named Dr. Nakayama Toshiaki, of prestigious Aoyama Gakuin University, gave an hourlong presentation about the “Mind of Japan”, and what that “mind” thought about America.  Here’s his bio, text-searchable:

Dr. Toshihiro Nakayama
East-West Center
September 10, 2015
Dr. Toshihiro Nakayama spoke about Japan-U.S. relations especially in consideration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. An insight was given into America’s roles in the Asia Pacific and beyond through the eyes of a well-known professor, author, and columnist. Dr. Nakayama also shared his personal experiences in the context of this important relationship between the two allied nations.
Dr. Nakayama is Professor of American Politics and Foreign Policy at the Faculty of Policy Management at Keio University. He is also an Adjunct Fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs. He received his M.A. (1993) and Ph.D. (2001) from Aoyama Gakuin University, was a CNAPS Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution (2005-06), and has written two books and numerous articles on American politics, foreign policy, and international relations. He appears regularly in the Japanese media and writes a monthly column for Japan News. He was the recipient of the Nakasone Yasuhiro Award (Incentive Award) in 2014.

Here’s the original flyer:

NakayamaToshihiroEWCtalk091015

Here is his speech in its entirety:

America in the Mind of Japan: How Japan Sees America’s Role in the Asia Pacific and Beyond from East-West Center on Vimeo.

(May be slow playing on your browser.  Download the actual video to your computer from here: https://vimeo.com/140019513)

I attended, but thought even beforehand, based on the title of the talk, how scientifically problematic it is for someone to represent all of Japan as a “mind” so monolithically (I would expect it from a government representative, but not a trained doctorate-holding academic).  But Dr. Nakayama, as would befit people with an agenda who are employed by the right-wing Yomiuri (moreover rewarded by the likes of far-rightist and WWII sexual slavery organizer Nakasone Yasuhiro), fulfilled his role as Gaijin Handler very professionally:

First he softened up the audience, spending several minutes (in fact, a sizable chunk of his allowed time) convincing everyone how Americanized he is (with a number of anecdotes about his time as a youth going to school in New York City and South Dakota and asking American girls out to dance), giving the audience a number of familiar warm-fuzzy touchstones in terms of economics, politics, and culture in excellent English.  Then he switched smoothly into the “We Japanese” “us” and “them” rhetoric, no longer a non-dispassionate academic, now a government representative.  He clearly felt confident enough in his knowledge of both the US and Japan to feel that he could portray Japan authoritatively in a hive-minded fashion, while painting a picture of the US as a fractious pluralistic place with people like Donald Trump.  Seriously.

But after a rather pedestrian retelling of the US-Japan Relationship after WWII, Dr. Nakayama made the following statement right at the very end.  It was indicative of what kind of snake-charming narrative Prime Minister Abe wishes to wrangle the (USG) Gaijin with.  In regards to a question about Japan’s historical relationship with its immediate neighbors:

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

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. 

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Wow.  Imagine the international reaction if a representative of Germany (or one of their academics lecturing overseas on a government-sponsored junket) 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).  What happened before 1945 WAS basically wrong; and it wasn’t “also not wrong” for the reasons he gives.  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.

Further, 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.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Other overseas-policy-influencing pies that Dr. Nakayama has his fingers in:
http://www.eastwestcenter.org/events/young-japanese-scholars-program-new-views-politics-and-policy-tokyo-taiwan
See them in action: https://vimeo.com/89107591

Questionnaire given out at this EWC presentation further empowering Japanese Government presentation effectiveness in the US (click on thumbnail to expand):

GOJSurveyNakayamatalk091015 GOJSurveyNakayamatalk091015 1GOJSurveyNakayamatalk091015pg3

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. 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. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Matsutaro Shoriki
Japan’s Citizen Kane

A media mogul whose extraordinary life still shapes his country, for good and ill
The Economist. Dec 22nd 2012 | From the print edition
http://www.economist.com/node/21568589/print

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 (pictured), 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.

Victories of the spirit

Japanese history is peppered with stories of giants whom almost no one outside the country has ever heard of. Because of Japan’s reverence for humility, their tales tend to be subsumed within the companies or projects the individuals created. Shoriki is different. There is nothing humble about him: his is a story of ruthless ambition, bordering on megalomania.

He got a taste for power early, when he rose like a rocket through the police force. He was 28 when, in 1913, he joined the Metropolitan Police. He had recently graduated from the elite University of Tokyo, but was more interested in judo than studying, so had failed the civil-service entrance exams. Police work carried lower prestige, but it suited him. Within a year he was promoted to head a police station in Nihonbashi, the old heart of the city.

Japan’s economy was booming. The first world war was a godsend for a country that was undergoing breakneck modernisation. After its own military victories against Russia and China, and the annexation of Korea in 1910, Japan was puffed up with pride at being one of the world’s colonial powers. But the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 brought a ferment of new ideas—including the demand for wider male suffrage in Japan—which the police and the patrician old guard viewed with alarm. Shoriki was put in charge of suppressing student demonstrations at Waseda University, then one of Tokyo’s most liberal institutions. He later introduced a masseur, masquerading as a communist, to entrap three radical professors. To this day, Waseda’s left-wingers loathe him.

In 1918 he astutely predicted the spread of rice riots from Toyama, the rural prefecture where he was born, to Tokyo. When he marched among the rioters, his sword tethered to his side to show he did not mean violence, a jagged stone hit him on the head. His courage in persuading the mob to calm down, with blood streaming down his face, appears to show him at his best. In “Shoriki: Miracle Man of Japan”, a biography published in 1957 (and regarded by some as a ghostwritten auto-hagiography), Edward Uhlan and Dana Thomas, two American journalists, describe the moment in which he “dispersed a frenzied mob without raising a finger” as the greatest “victory of the spirit” in his life.

But he was no saint. As communist agitation spread in the early 1920s, and Koreans in Japan increasingly rebelled against colonisation, Shoriki was promoted to be chief of staff of the Metropolitan Police, which in effect made him head of the secret police. He had responsibility for infiltrating labour and Korean groups and rooting out the “red menace”.

Then in September 1923, shortly after the Japanese Communist Party had been formed, Tokyo and nearby Yokohama suffered a devastating earthquake that, coupled with the ensuing fires, killed more than 100,000 people. An orgy of opportunistic anti-Korean slaughter followed, which Shoriki may have stoked and then diverted into an attack on socialists.

When, a few months later, professional catastrophe struck, his extensive political connections rescued him. On his watch, a young socialist tried to kill the Crown Prince (later Emperor Hirohito), an event for which Shoriki was given the harshest sanction: “disciplinary dismissal”. Thrown out of work, it occurred to him that newspapers might be an influential business. The Yomiuri Shimbun was struggling, having just built a new headquarters that collapsed in the earthquake. Shoriki needed ¥100,000 ($20,000 then) to buy it out; he turned to one of his contacts, a leading right-wing politician, for financial support. It was a shrewd investment: Shoriki turned the Yomiuri into an establishment crusader.

Evidence of the personality that he quickly stamped upon it can be found in the Yomiuri’s sixth-floor library. You need to borrow the librarian’s magnifying glass to read the tight old kanji, or Chinese script, in which the paper was written. But it is quickly apparent that under him it was a much livelier read than the staid stuff it serves up nowadays. This was Japan’s “Taisho era”, a rare time of democratic upheaval and self-indulgence, summed up in the phrase eroguronansensu, or erotic, grotesque nonsense. That quickly became Shoriki’s sales pitch for the Yomiuri, though because he spoke not a word of English he mangled the terms into “grotic” and “erotesque”.

Never mind: it worked. Next to lurid stories about adultery and photos of flapper-era mogas (modern girls) are advertisements for clinics treating the consequences (“Before the parties at the end of the year, you should sort out your gonorrhoea”). There are pages about hit songs from the new craze of radio that was sweeping the country, a trend that Japanese newspapers had until then ignored. In 1931, when Japan invaded Manchuria, Shoriki seized the moment to go head-to-head with his bigger Tokyo rivals, the Asahi and the Mainichi, by launching an evening edition to bring readers sizzling China-bashing updates from the front.

Two years later, in 1933, comes an episode of vintage Shoriki. His editors had noticed the rising incidence of suicide; one popular method was for couples to hurl themselves hand-in-hand into a fiery volcano called Miharayama, on a Pacific island a long boat ride from Tokyo. In one year 944 people had taken the plunge: at a time of growing militarism, this was not regarded as a very patriotic endeavour.

Into the volcano
The Yomiuri decided it should warn people what they were throwing themselves into. With a flurry of publicity, the paper told its readers it would separately lower an editor and a photographer towards the molten furnace in a gondola. But first the paper sent down two animals to test for poisonous gases, eliciting the priceless headline: “Monkey paralysed. Rat dead.” When the gas-masked journalists did make it, they descended 415 metres, which the Yomiuri claimed was a world record. One of them relayed sightings of corpses to the surface by jerry-rigged telephone. It made for wonderful copy, but did nothing to stop the suicides.

This cloak of supposed public interest, wrapped around gory sensationalism, sent the Yomiuri’s circulation soaring. Between 1924 and 1937 it rose from 58,000 to 800,000, a feat that made the Yomiuri the biggest newspaper in Tokyo.

Banzai Babe

The melding of commercial pragmatism with ideological dogma shaped much of Shoriki’s career. But another factor also defined the second half of his life: his relationship with America.

Baseball was its first manifestation. Shoriki was no baseball fan, but he knew he could use the sport to sell newspapers. The trouble was that Japan had no professional baseball teams. So, on the advice of a rival newspaper proprietor, he set out to bring Babe Ruth, the legendary Yankees slugger, to Tokyo. At first, Ruth was too busy: he did not join the all-star team that came out to Japan to play for capacity crowds in 1931. But in 1934, past his prime and noticeably overweight, he finally arrived.

It was a tense time, both within Japan and in its diplomacy. Soldiers burning with fascist zeal were assassinating government moderates in a bid to rekindle the traditional “spirit” of Nippon. The visit was controversial, coming just as Japan appeared to be turning its back on the outside world. But Shoriki’s intuition worked: ordinary Japanese went mad for Ruth and his team. Tens of thousands packed the streets of Ginza to see them parade in open-top cars. People thronged the Meiji stadium to watch them play, most barely minding (though Shoriki did) that the home sides usually lost.

Ordinary Japanese went mad for Ruth and his team. Tens of thousands packed the streets of Ginza to see them parade in open-top cars. People thronged the Meiji stadium to watch them play, most barely minding (though Shoriki did) that the home sides usually lost.
Not everyone was so thrilled: a madcap group called the “War God Society” protested at the Americans’ “defilement” of grounds sacred to the Meiji emperor. Not long afterwards Shoriki was stabbed in the neck with a Japanese sword by an ex-policeman who professed to hate his pro-Americanism. He lost a litre of blood and nearly died. Undeterred, Shoriki founded the Yomiuri Giants baseball team, which has dominated the sport in Japan ever since.

This relationship with America would be twisted by war. The Yomiuri, like all its rivals, was a fervent cheerleader for Japan’s Pacific conquests; as the imperial army advanced south, so the Yomiuri set up offices and newspapers around South-East Asia. When the war ended in 1945 the charge-sheet against Shoriki looked strong: he had been a director of the quasi-fascist Imperial Rule Assistance Association, set up in 1940, which promoted war. His newspaper was suspected of being a propaganda organ of the militarists. Damningly, many of the strongest accusations of fascism that were made against him came from his own writers and editors.

The Yomiuri was in revolt at the time. At the end of the war, encouraged by the liberal ideas of the American occupation, a group of left-wing journalists staged a coup at the paper. For months the internal battle spilled onto the front pages. Headlines branded Shoriki a war criminal, even as he continued to show up as publisher each day. By December he was locked up in Sugamo Prison with the rest of Japan’s suspected warmongers, charged with Class A war crimes.

The nuclear option

Prison was a bitter ordeal. Shoriki took to meditating for many hours a day, while pulling every string he could to clear himself. In the digital dossiers of the Tokyo War Crimes Trials, which are published online by the University of Virginia, he even at one stage begs for his release on the ground that “the life of the Yomiuri Shimbun is at stake”.

Suddenly, it seems, his American jailers decided that most of the accusations against Shoriki were of an “ideological and political nature”, made by striking employees who deserved little credence (America was growing nervous of the left-wing unionism it had inadvertently nurtured). On August 22nd 1947 a recommendation was made to free Shoriki, and he walked out after 21 months inside. Though still purged from public life, he would later claim that his spell at “Sugamo University” was an ideal networking opportunity. It gave him access to right-wingers who would come back to rule the country, with Shoriki’s help, just four years after America finally signed a peace treaty with Japan in 1951.

But by this stage Shoriki was 62, and had an enormous cliff to climb to achieve what he most passionately craved: political power. He used two means to get there: television, then nuclear energy. Both enterprises involved a man whose influence hangs over Shoriki’s later years, Hidetoshi Shibata. He was the main source for another biography of Shoriki, by Shinichi Sano—the premise of which is that Shoriki stole most of his ideas from his underlings, and jealously took all the credit for himself. But in Shibata’s case, at least, the two seem to have used each other.

Shibata, a news reporter, heard of a plan put forward in America to use television to spread anti-communist propaganda around the world, with the former enemies West Germany and Japan as the bases. He brought the idea to Shoriki, who offered to help finance a new station—if the Americans helped persuade the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers to lift his blacklisting. Using Shibata’s American contacts, Shoriki browbeat the government to end the monopoly of NHK, the state broadcaster. His purge duly lifted, he raised more than ¥800m to establish Japan’s first private network, Nippon Television, in 1952. Today it is the most popular TV station in Japan.

But television was only the next stage in his journey. By 1954 Japan was in the grip of anti-American hysteria. After the horrors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, American H-bomb testing in the Pacific Marshall Islands blanketed 23 Japanese tuna fishermen with radioactive ash. After one of the men affected died, anti-nuclear passions soared. Shoriki, as well as America’s CIA, was terrified at the thought that the Soviet Union and China might take advantage of the uproar to displace American influence in Japan.

He hit upon another remarkable plan, this time to use nuclear energy as a tool of pro-American leverage. Yet another biographer claims this was a CIA plot—an idea pooh-poohed by other scholars, who believe that Shoriki exploited the Americans at least as much as vice versa. Dwight Eisenhower had recently made his “Atoms for Peace” speech, promoting the spread of nuclear energy to counter the stigma of nuclear weapons. In December 1954 John Jay Hopkins, president of General Dynamics, a pioneering nuclear conglomerate, suggested an “Atomic Marshall Plan” for Japan.

Shoriki pressured Hopkins to travel to Tokyo to deliver the message in person; at the first hint of assent, the Yomiuri splashed the news on its front page. With all the hoopla that had heralded the arrival of Babe Ruth more than 20 years earlier, the paper played up the visit in May 1955. Shoriki used giant screens artfully erected on street corners both to spread the pro-nuclear message and to boost the fledgling NTV’s ratings.

At the same time he and some of his pronuclear cronies in parliament were pulling strings, with results that still resonate. He won a Diet seat on a nuclear-energy platform, then helped form the Liberal Democratic Party. It ruled Japan for almost all of the next 55 years (and is now returning to power). In January 1956, as a cabinet member of the first LDP government, he was appointed president of Japan’s new Atomic Energy Commission. To the surprise and horror of some of the scientists on the commission, his first announcement was that Japan would have a reactor within five years. He never let practicalities get in the way of a story.

This was not quite the end. Ultimately, Japan got its reactors (ironically, the first was British, not American). But Shoriki could not secure his biggest goal, the premiership, and perhaps it was this shortcoming that ultimately racked him with a sense of failure. The end of his life story is told by Yasuko Shibata, the 82-year-old wife of his former right-hand man, who lives in a sumptuous retirement home in Yokohama. She giggles as she recalls how Shoriki once offered her a thick envelope of cash, after her husband had stormed off following one of the two men’s many rows. To her, at least, he was neither a monster nor a patsy. “It doesn’t matter whether you like Shoriki or not, he was not the kind of small guy that the CIA could push around,” she insists.

Mrs Shibata tells a story of Shoriki’s final days in 1969 that reveals, like Orson Welles’s “Citizen Kane”, how tortured he was at the end. His own wife had died, and he had moved into a dingy room in Tokyo with his mistress. Lying in her arms and approaching death himself, he heard revellers drinking outside and, in a feverish state, thought it was Shibata threatening to kill him unless he was given the credit he deserved. Shoriki need not have worried about his own legacy. For good or ill, it lingers on.

From the print edition: Christmas Specials
ENDS

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

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

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Why Japan’s Right keeps leaving the Left in the dust
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
JBC column 91 for the Japan Times Community Page
September 7, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/09/06/issues/japans-right-keeps-leaving-left-dust/

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.

As an activist in Japan, I worked with the left (as in the self-proclaimed center-leftists, socialists and communists) and dealt with its right (the center-rightists, conservatives, populists and nationalists) for decades.

Since I advocate for minority rights here, I am simpatico with the left, given their comparative tendency to view people as individuals — as opposed to the right’s reflex of seeing people as groups that are ascribed characteristics from birth.

Of course, both sides have belief systems you must subscribe to for membership. (That’s precisely what a political camp is.) Both tell stories and maintain narratives to garner public appeal. And, naturally, their organizations are clubby and cliquey. Worse, in Japan, while membership might be instant, acceptance into leadership roles often takes many years (in case you are a spy or a subversive).

Nevertheless, the right has distinct advantages that the left should be aware of, if it wants to have any hope of playing the game better.

One advantage is simplicity of goals. Basically, the rightists (as conservatives) want things left the way they are — or apparently were. The left wants change, which means it has to argue harder for it. On the other hand, the right can simply invoke the almighty power of precedent.

This sets off a vicious circle. Japan is a land that craves precedent, yet the left has little leadership precedent to cite. They can never argue that Japan has been a socialist state (even though in many areas it is exactly that), and few dare display communist sympathies (even though Japan’s appeal to historical collectivism would fit right into any commune).

“Precedentophilia” also avails the right of a scare tactic: They can argue that the left would force Japan to chart unknown territory. Rightists, on the other hand, are merely citing the tried and true: “Hey, the system worked for our ancestors in the past, right?”

And there the debate usually dies. Whenever Japan harks to the past, an element of ancestor worship seeps in. This stifles critical thinking, for insinuating that our forefathers were somehow wrong is to disrespectfully question the essence of Japanese identity. You see that even with WWII war criminals — who would have led Japan into oblivion if they had continued to get their way — enshrined as heroes at public worship sites and in popular culture.

Then there’s the leftist ideological distaste for measuring everything in terms of money. That’s a fatal error in politics. Rightists have no trouble whatsoever doing so, since they have a lot more of it. And with money, of course, comes power — and the rightists have no trouble with that either. In their inherited world, being rich and powerful for generations has normalized their entitlement to the point where they claim it without shame or self-consciousness.

But the biggest disadvantage I see in Japan’s left is an intellectual snobbery.

First, if you want to join their ranks, you must prove your ideological worth. I remember numerous times asking for assistance from leftist groups in the quest for equal rights for all. We were on the same page, yet their Young Turks grilled me about whether I had read this author or that book. Essentially, I had to pass an entrance exam — be demonstrably schooled in their canon and their lexicon — or else I would get no support.

Then there’s the problem with narrative: Japanese leftists are oddly lazy about honing their talking points. Why? Because their ideals were handed to them in the postwar “peace Constitution.” Since then they have basically rested on their (un-won) laurels.

This became painfully obvious during the current debate on Japan’s remilitarization. Because Article 9 had been hitherto sacrosanct, the left didn’t think they had to talk about war anymore. It was simply inconceivable that Japan would ever fight one again.

The right, however, knew that undermining what leftists have taken for granted would be a multigenerational fight. And over time it got good at it.

Rightist victories have been gradual but significant, as seen in the policy creep of doublespeak — from the “Self-Defense Forces” all the way to today’s “collective self-defense.” The left just bleated that this was unconstitutional, without crafting a clearer narrative about the horror and excesses of war to capture the popular imagination. More effective were rightist scares about security threats from the Soviet Union, China and North Korea.

With any multigenerational battle comes the grooming of young successors, and at this the right excels.

Despite being blue-bloods clinging to the class structure, rightists have been peerless when it comes to appealing to those outside their class, particularly Japan’s young. (Why do you think they suddenly decided to lower the voting age from 20 to 18?)

Rightists intuitively understand that if something is to be a talking point, you have to put it in manga or anime form. Then you’ll reach even the most disaffected shut-in (who will then go online to terrorize a newfound foe).

In comparison, leftists look more like doctrinaire fossils, sniffing at all this anti-intellectualism: “Who needs to tell lowbrow stories when we have abstract principles to adhere to?”

But the right knows it needs as many people as possible parroting its talking points — for a fundamental maxim of propaganda is that if enough people say something, it becomes true.

That’s why rightists lower their standards for admission. They take just about anyone as long as they parrot. Even their xenophobes will enlist foreigners! Take a broke retired journalist, a redneck Net ignoramus or a paramilitary spook for hire, and just put their names on inflammatory Japanese publications in a language they can’t read anyway. Plus, ferreting out foreign parrots makes the right’s talking points seem more worldly.

In essence, the rightists keep their eyes on the prize: money and power. In the game of politics, that gives you the advantage every time. And when you’re wielding patronage and privilege for this long, you get good at doling it out to the underprivileged, like soup at the breadlines.

The leftists? Well, hey, they can’t even talk to one another, let alone band together against this dynamic. Intellectual schisms are historically toxic, to the point of factions killing one other (think Kakumaru-ha vs. Chukaku-ha in the 1970s). Of course, the rightists aren’t all friends either, but at least they can be odd bedfellows following a narrative under the same religion — Japan.

And therein lies the ultimate power in this game: nationalism. It’s easiest to appeal to people by resorting to patriotism. Again, it blunts critical thinking. (Even Western media handle Japan’s most bigoted rightists with kid gloves, labeling them “nationalists,” “conservatives,” even “patriots”!)

This is all much easier than using slogans about impalpable “equality,” “democracy” and “peace.” After all, money and privilege offer tangible and immediate benefits, whereas peace is a public good you only appreciate when it’s gone. And few now remember it being gone. Like it or not, the simpler narrative sells.

If Japan’s left is ever to aspire to power, it must, ironically, learn to be more open-minded, cooperative and co-optive. It must learn how to get out there, welcome new blood and convince people with a compelling story of alternatives (rather than just sit back and wait for the enlightenment of the masses, followed by an ideological litmus test). Otherwise, Japan’s left will keep on losing to the right on a past-revering, precedent-based playing field naturally slanted against them.

Leftists: Stop only learning how to argue. Learn how to appeal. Learn narrative.

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Debito Arudou’s next book, “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination,” will be out in November. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Monday Community Page of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

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

mytest

eBooks, Books, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. I had a couple of other topics to bring up (for example, this one), but this essay was too timely and important to pass up. Required reading. First the analysis, then the full original statement by PM Abe being analyzed.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Abe’s WWII statement fails history 101
East Asia Forum, 18 August 2015
Author: Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU
Version with links to sources at http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2015/08/18/abes-wwii-statement-fails-history-101/

As the clock ticked down to the 70th anniversary of the end of the Asia Pacific War, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faced a dilemma. His right-wing supporters were pushing him to produce a commemorative statement that would move away from the apologetic approach of his predecessors and ‘restore Japan’s pride’. Moderates, Asian neighbours and (most importantly) the US government were pushing him to uphold the earlier apologies issued by former prime ministers Tomiichi Murayama and Junichiro Koizumi. Most of the media anticipation centred around the wording of the forthcoming Abe statement. Would it, like the Murayama Statement of 1995 and the Koizumi Statement of 2005, include the words ‘apology’ (owabi) and aggression (shinryaku)?

Abe’s response to this dilemma was clever. First, he established a committee of hand-picked ‘experts’ to provide a report locating Japan’s wartime past in the broad sweep of 20th-century history. Then, drawing heavily on their report, he produced a statement that was more than twice the length of those issued by his predecessors. His statement, to the relief of many observers, did use the words ‘apology’ and ‘aggression’. In fact, it is almost overladen with all the right words: ‘we must learn from the lessons of history’; ‘our country inflict immeasurable damage and suffering’; ‘deep repentance’; ‘deep remorse and heartfelt apology’; ‘we will engrave in our hearts the past’.

But, focusing on the vocabulary, some 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. So which past is the Abe statement engraving in the hearts of Japanese citizens?

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.

In effect, the Abe narrative of history looks like an exam script where the student has accidentally misread the question. He has answered the question about the reasons for Japan’s invasion of Manchuria with an answer that should go with the question about the reasons for the attack on Pearl Harbor.

There is widespread consensus that the immediate cause for Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor was the stranglehold on Japan created by imperial protectionism and economic blockade by the Western powers. But there is equal consensus that the reasons for the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, and for the outbreak of full-scale war in China in 1937, were different and much more complex.

Key factors at work in 1931 were the troubled relationship between the Japanese military and the civilian government; Japan’s desire for resources, transport routes and living space; rising nationalism in an economically and socially troubled Japan; and corruption and instability in Northeastern China. By the time Japan launched its full scale invasion of China in 1937, global protectionism was becoming a larger issue. But even then, other issues like Japan’s desire to protect its massive investments in China from the rising forces of Chinese nationalism were paramount.

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.

The Abe narrative of history fails to address the causes and nature of Japan’s colonisation of Taiwan (in 1895) and Korea (in 1910), and ignores the large presence of Japanese troops in China long before 1931. It says to China: ‘Sorry we invaded you, but those other guys painted us into a corner’. It offers an untenable explanation for Japan’s actions, and blurs the distinction between aggressive and defensive behaviour. Western media commentators who haven’t studied Japanese history may not pick up these flaws in the narrative, but Chinese and South Korean observers (who have their own, sometimes profoundly problematic, versions of this history) will instantly see them and rightly object.

Engraving a factually flawed story of the past in people’s hearts is not going to solve East Asia’s problems, and risks making them worse. Worse still, the Abe statement is generating deeply divergent responses in the countries where East Asian history is not widely taught (most notably the United States) and those where it is (South Korea, China and Japan itself), thus creating even deeper divisions in our already too divided world.

Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki is an ARC Laureate Fellow based at the School of Culture, History and Language, at the College of Asia and the Pacific at The Australian National University.
ENDS
=======================================

OFFICIAL TRANSLATION OF ABE SHINZO’S STATEMENT

Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Friday, August 14, 2015
http://japan.kantei.go.jp/97_abe/statement/201508/0814statement.html

On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, we must calmly reflect upon the road to war, the path we have taken since it ended, and the era of the 20th century. We must learn from the lessons of history the wisdom for our future.

More than one hundred years ago, vast colonies possessed mainly by the Western powers stretched out across the world. With their overwhelming supremacy in technology, waves of colonial rule surged toward Asia in the 19th century. There is no doubt that the resultant sense of crisis drove Japan forward to achieve modernization. Japan built a constitutional government earlier than any other nation in Asia. The country preserved its independence throughout. The Japan-Russia War gave encouragement to many people under colonial rule from Asia to Africa.

After World War I, which embroiled the world, the movement for self-determination gained momentum and put brakes on colonization that had been underway. It was a horrible war that claimed as many as ten million lives. With a strong desire for peace stirred in them, people founded the League of Nations and brought forth the General Treaty for Renunciation of War. There emerged in the international community a new tide of outlawing war itself.

At the beginning, Japan, too, kept steps with other nations. However, with the Great Depression setting in and the Western countries launching economic blocs by involving colonial economies, Japan’s economy suffered a major blow. In such circumstances, Japan’s sense of isolation deepened and it attempted to overcome its diplomatic and economic deadlock through the use of force. Its domestic political system could not serve as a brake to stop such attempts. In this way, Japan lost sight of the overall trends in the world.

With the Manchurian Incident, followed by the withdrawal from the League of Nations, Japan gradually transformed itself into a challenger to the new international order that the international community sought to establish after tremendous sacrifices. Japan took the wrong course and advanced along the road to war.

And, seventy years ago, Japan was defeated.

On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, I bow my head deeply before the souls of all those who perished both at home and abroad. I express my feelings of profound grief and my eternal, sincere condolences.

More than three million of our compatriots lost their lives during the war: on the battlefields worrying about the future of their homeland and wishing for the happiness of their families; in remote foreign countries after the war, in extreme cold or heat, suffering from starvation and disease. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the air raids on Tokyo and other cities, and the ground battles in Okinawa, among others, took a heavy toll among ordinary citizens without mercy.

Also in countries that fought against Japan, countless lives were lost among young people with promising futures. In China, Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands and elsewhere that became the battlefields, numerous innocent citizens suffered and fell victim to battles as well as hardships such as severe deprivation of food. We must never forget that there were women behind the battlefields whose honour and dignity were severely injured.

Upon the innocent people did our country inflict immeasurable damage and suffering. History is harsh. What is done cannot be undone. Each and every one of them had his or her life, dream, and beloved family. When I squarely contemplate this obvious fact, even now, I find myself speechless and my heart is rent with the utmost grief.

The peace we enjoy today exists only upon such precious sacrifices. And therein lies the origin of postwar Japan.

We must never again repeat the devastation of war.

Incident, aggression, war — we shall never again resort to any form of the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes. We shall abandon colonial rule forever and respect the right of self-determination of all peoples throughout the world.

With deep repentance for the war, Japan made that pledge. Upon it, we have created a free and democratic country, abided by the rule of law, and consistently upheld that pledge never to wage a war again. While taking silent pride in the path we have walked as a peace-loving nation for as long as seventy years, we remain determined never to deviate from this steadfast course.

Japan has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war. In order to manifest such feelings through concrete actions, we have engraved in our hearts the histories of suffering of the people in Asia as our neighbours: those in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, and Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and China, among others; and we have consistently devoted ourselves to the peace and prosperity of the region since the end of the war.

Such position articulated by the previous cabinets will remain unshakable into the future.

However, no matter what kind of efforts we may make, the sorrows of those who lost their family members and the painful memories of those who underwent immense sufferings by the destruction of war will never be healed.

Thus, we must take to heart the following.

The fact that more than six million Japanese repatriates managed to come home safely after the war from various parts of the Asia-Pacific and became the driving force behind Japan’s postwar reconstruction; the fact that nearly three thousand Japanese children left behind in China were able to grow up there and set foot on the soil of their homeland again; and the fact that former POWs of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia and other nations have visited Japan for many years to continue praying for the souls of the war dead on both sides.

How much emotional struggle must have existed and what great efforts must have been necessary for the Chinese people who underwent all the sufferings of the war and for the former POWs who experienced unbearable sufferings caused by the Japanese military in order for them to be so tolerant nevertheless?

That is what we must turn our thoughts to reflect upon.

Thanks to such manifestation of tolerance, Japan was able to return to the international community in the postwar era. Taking this opportunity of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, Japan would like to express its heartfelt gratitude to all the nations and all the people who made every effort for reconciliation.

In Japan, the postwar generations now exceed eighty per cent of its population. We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize. Still, even so, we Japanese, across generations, must squarely face the history of the past. We have the responsibility to inherit the past, in all humbleness, and pass it on to the future.

Our parents’ and grandparents’ generations were able to survive in a devastated land in sheer poverty after the war. The future they brought about is the one our current generation inherited and the one we will hand down to the next generation. Together with the tireless efforts of our predecessors, this has only been possible through the goodwill and assistance extended to us that transcended hatred by a truly large number of countries, such as the United States, Australia, and European nations, which Japan had fiercely fought against as enemies.

We must pass this down from generation to generation into the future. We have the great responsibility to take the lessons of history deeply into our hearts, to carve out a better future, and to make all possible efforts for the peace and prosperity of Asia and the world.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when Japan attempted to break its deadlock with force. Upon this reflection, Japan will continue to firmly uphold the principle that any disputes must be settled peacefully and diplomatically based on the respect for the rule of law and not through the use of force, and to reach out to other countries in the world to do the same. As the only country to have ever suffered the devastation of atomic bombings during war, Japan will fulfil its responsibility in the international community, aiming at the non-proliferation and ultimate abolition of nuclear weapons.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when the dignity and honour of many women were severely injured during wars in the 20th century. Upon this reflection, Japan wishes to be a country always at the side of such women’s injured hearts. Japan will lead the world in making the 21st century an era in which women’s human rights are not infringed upon.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when forming economic blocs made the seeds of conflict thrive. Upon this reflection, Japan will continue to develop a free, fair and open international economic system that will not be influenced by the arbitrary intentions of any nation. We will strengthen assistance for developing countries, and lead the world toward further prosperity. Prosperity is the very foundation for peace. Japan will make even greater efforts to fight against poverty, which also serves as a hotbed of violence, and to provide opportunities for medical services, education, and self-reliance to all the people in the world.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when Japan ended up becoming a challenger to the international order. Upon this reflection, Japan will firmly uphold basic values such as freedom, democracy, and human rights as unyielding values and, by working hand in hand with countries that share such values, hoist the flag of “Proactive Contribution to Peace,” and contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world more than ever before.

Heading toward the 80th, the 90th and the centennial anniversary of the end of the war, we are determined to create such a Japan together with the Japanese people.

August 14, 2015
Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Something important is going on here.  Comment follows article excerpt:

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

Debate on anti-discrimination bill begins in Diet
BY REIJI YOSHIDA
THE JAPAN TIMES, AUG 4, 2015

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.

The Democratic Party of Japan, the Social Democratic Party and independent Upper House member Keiko Itokazu jointly submitted the bill.

Speaking in the Lower House in February, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emphasized that racial discrimination, including hate speech, should never be tolerated in Japan.

But at the same time, he indicated he is reluctant to push for a new law, saying the government instead will use existing laws to deal with discrimination and promote enlightenment and educational activities.

“First, the government will properly apply existing laws to eradicate hate speech and racial discrimination,” Abe told the Lower House Budget Committee.

However, as Komeito lawmaker Toru Kunishige pointed out during that committee session, current laws apply only to defamation and insults against specific individuals, and not to hate speech against unspecified people of a racial group.

In August last year, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the Japanese government to regulate hate speech by law, following a rise in racist demonstrations mainly targeting Korean residents.

The Upper House bill would ban:

Unjustifiable discrimination based on race.

Insults and harassment because of the race of a person.

Use of discriminatory and abusive language and activities in public against unspecified people of a certain race. […]

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

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/08/04/national/politics-diplomacy/debate-anti-discrimination-bill-begins-diet/

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  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).  Good to see that term resurfacing in the letter of the law.

(Here’s the proposal from the DPJ website, in Japanese.)

Sadly,

  1. The DPJ hasn’t a snowball’s chance of getting this passed.  The numbers simply aren’t there given the Liberal Democratic Party coalition’s overwhelming majority in both houses of the Diet.  And,
  2. It’s already front-loaded for failure, what with:
  3. a) the caveats of “unjustifiable discrimination based upon race” (ah, it’s so sad that there are concessions made for the obviously “justifiable” examples of racial discrimination in Japanese society), and
  4. b) the lack of any punitive measures for offenders.  In other words, the same old law that has no enforcement power, such as the Equal Employment Opportunities Law that has not affected the equal employment of women (in terms of equalizing salaries) one jot in Japan.

Anyway, I’ve tried doing something like this in the past (now over a decade ago; how time flies).  I think it’ll probably end up just as ignored.  Nice try DPJ, and I salute you for it.  It’s a pity you’ve already added the caveats that will void the bill even before it’s killed in debate.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. 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. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Coming out tomorrow is my latest Japan Times column. Opening paragraphs:

justbecauseicon.jpg

============================================
Media redraw battle lines in bid for global reach
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito, July 6, 2015
JUST BE CAUSE column 89 for the Japan Times Community Page

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

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. (I focus on the English-language press because Japan’s own ruling class does — to them, English is the world language, and Japan’s portrayal in it is of intense concern.)

In addition to The Japan Times (the country’s oldest English-language newspaper, independent of any domestic media conglomerate), other English papers at one time included The Daily Yomiuri, The Asahi Evening News and The Mainichi Daily News.

The last three were all “vanity presses,” in the sense of major Japanese media empires using them to feel self-important in the international arena. They had Japanese bosses, managers and editors who had in-house Japanese-language articles translated for the outside world. And, yes, they were for outside consumption — Japan’s English-language readers were never numerous enough to sustain four daily newspapers!

They were complemented by Kyodo and Jiji wire services, piggybacking on print media with articles that had also been translated from Japanese. In my experience working with all of them, their general political slants were: the Yomiuri squarely rightist, the Asahi and Jiji center-right or center-left (depending on the editor), and the Mainichi and Kyodo generally leftist.

Regardless of their political bent, most of these presses during the late 1980s and ’90s employed NJ as reporters doing English articles. Granted, these articles did not necessarily appear in their Japanese flagships — vanity newspapering means information about Japan goes outward, not inward; NJ were never allowed to touch the controls, and seldom were their articles translated into Japanese. However, they did offer foreign voices to foreign residents.

It was a renaissance, of sorts: NJ reporters often reported on issues germane and beneficial to NJ residents. Not only was there lively debate in English, but also there were some boomerang benefits — for example, overseas newspapers (such as the almighty New York Times, the bete noire of Japan’s elites) picking up their stories and shaming Japan’s policymakers into making changes (for example, the abolition of fingerprinting on Alien Registration Cards in 1999).

However, this dynamic has shifted dramatically toward disempowerment over the past 15 years. According to one employee I have talked to, The Daily Yomiuri relegated its NJ staff to doing puff pieces on Japan before making them mere interpreters of Yomiuri Shimbun articles. The Asahi Evening News did the same, according to another former employee, purging its foreign bureau before they could unionize. The Mainichi Daily News, whose popular WaiWai column translated the country’s seedy tabloid journalism, was bombarded by Internet trolls decrying this apparent embarrassment to Japan; the paper then fired its best writers.

When the shakeups subsided, The Japan Times had raised its price and trimmed its pages, and the English versions of the Asahi and Mainichi had ceased their print publications entirely. The Daily Yomiuri renamed itself the anodyne “The Japan News,” an attempt in my opinion to whitewash its right-wing image. However, the upshot was vanity presses stopped carrying out investigative journalism in English and only hired NJ as translators.

Frozen out of major Japanese media, NJ have created their own community presses. Japan has long-running newspapers for Koreans, Chinese and Brazilians. Regions such as Fukuoka, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Sapporo and, of course, Tokyo have all launched their own local-content magazines (with varying degrees of success). And that’s before we get to the online fora and fauna. However, aside from offering events and outlets for aspiring authors, none have the national and international media footprint that online news site Japan Today has (where, full disclosure, I also worked as a columnist).

That’s why GPlus Media’s buy-up matters. This is an era of micromanagement of any media criticism of Japan (even NHK Chairman Katsuto Momii on Feb. 5 admitted publicly on that his network will not report on contentious subjects until the government has “an official stance”; in other words, NHK is now a government mouthpiece). Meaning this buy-up is another outsider’s voice being effectively silenced — and another rightist platform empowered.

Of all the major newspapers, only the Sankei Shimbun never had an English channel. That is, until now. And it’s not hard to guess how things will soon swing.

Already I am hearing murmurs of Japan Today’s moderators deleting reader comments critical of Japan’s media, anti-Chinese and anti-Korean sentiment, Fukushima investigations, and the revamped U.S.-Japan security arrangements.

Then again, that’s within character. To them, what’s the point of owning media if you can’t control its content?

However, the content is problematic because it is increasingly propagandistic. On June 16, for example, Japan Today reprinted an article from RocketNews24 (another Japanese media outlet devoting lots of space to puffing up Japan) on “the decline of Koreatown” in Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo district. It blamed, inter alia, bad Korean food, the actions of the South Korean government toward disputed islands and bad South Korean management practices.

It discounted the domestic media’s popularization of kenkan (“hatred of things Korean”), which a search of Amazon Japan demonstrates is a lucrative literary genre. It also made no mention, of course, of the off-putting effects of periodic public demonstrations by hate groups advocating that people “kill all Koreans.” Essentially, the thrust of the article was: Koreatown’s decline is due to market forces or it’s the Koreans’ own fault. How nice.

However, I shouldn’t just pick on the Sankei. The other major national Japanese newspaper we still haven’t mentioned — the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) — also appears to be getting in on the act.

According to MediaWeek, the Nikkei bought into U.K. media group Monocle in 2014 in order to, according to its CEO, “further boost its global reach.” In June, Monocle declared Tokyo “the world’s most livable city,” and Japan Today dutifully headlined this as news. All purely coincidence, of course.

The point is: The country’s rulers understand extremely well the crucial role of the media in mobilizing consent and manufacturing national image and narrative. In this current political climate under the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who appears to be venomously opposed to any critical thinking of Japanese society, the last independent voice in English is what you’re reading now.

The Japan Times is the only sustainable venue left with investigative NJ journalists, NJ editors and independently-thinking Japanese writers, bravely critiquing current government policy without fretting about patriotism or positively promoting Japan’s image abroad.

Long may The Japan Times stand. Long, too, may its columnists, ahem, as I have here for more than 13 years. However, Just Be Cause has for the first time felt pressure (with this column) after coming under increased scrutiny in the editing process. The Community pages have within the past 18 months been reduced from four pages a week to two. How much longer before they are sanitized or cut entirely?

This is why I encourage all readers to support The Japan Times. Send appreciative emails to the editorial desks. Have your school, university, library and community centers subscribe to it. Get it from the newsstand or buy an online subscription. Click on its advertisers. Invest in it — however you can.

If The Japan Times succumbs to economic and political pressures, who else will lend NJ residents a sympathetic voice, maintain a free online historical archive to thwart denialists, or offer a viable forum that serves NJ interests? Nobody, that’s who. Support the last man standing.

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

Debito’s own 20-year-old historical archive of life and human rights in Japan is at www.debito.org. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Monday of the month. Comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. My monthly Japan Times columns have moved to the first Monday of the month.  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. Please have a read and feel free to comment below.

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/05/31/issues/u-s-greenlights-japans-march-back-militarism/

U.S. green-lights Japan’s march back to militarism
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito, The Japan Times, June 1, 2015
JUST BE CAUSE Column 88 for The Japan Times Community Page

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. The U.S. has great sway over Japan due, again, to history. After World War II, America did an outstanding job of enabling Japan to get rich — thanks in part to its provision of advantageous trade and exchange-rate agreements and a subsidized security umbrella.

As the Asian extension of America’s Marshall Plan (a means to keep European countries from warring again by making them economically integrated, interdependent and successful, rather than leaving them to exact wartime reparations and revenge), Japan’s economic success is still seen amongst Washington’s foreign policy wonks as proof of their ability to foster democracy worldwide.

But the U.S., now assuming the post-Cold War mantle of world’s policeman, is undermining that goal by continuing to meddle in Japan’s politics.

We first saw this happen in the “reverse course” of 1947, when it was clear that China was going communist. Back then, Washington feared that labor unions might gather enough strength to force Japan into a similar leftist lurch (as seen in Italy, where the Americans also intervened and set Italian politics back into an unstable, corrupt funk that lasted decades).

So, in the name of “containing communism” at the dawn of the Cold War, the U.S. released the Japanese war criminals they hadn’t executed, who then went on to become prominent politicians, businessmen, organized-crime figures — even a prime minister.

It also basically handed back the levers of power to Japan’s prewar governing elites — for example, by reviving the zaibatsu industrial war-machine conglomerates (as keiretsu cartels), overlooking the domination of the education system by historical revisionists and blood-nationalists (the education ministry has since steadily reinstituted prewar traditions of suppressing history and enforcing patriotism), forgiving egregious war misdeeds (through the overgenerous Treaty of San Francisco in 1952), and allowing the re-creation of Japan’s military (as “Self-Defense Forces”) soon after the U.S. Occupation ended.

The blowback, however, is that America has been constantly snake-charmed by those elites. Their professional “gaijin handlers” (see “Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in the U.S.,” Just Be Cause, Nov. 6, 2013) have decades of experience of playing the anticommunism card to suppress their mortal enemies — Japan’s leftists.

Even as Japan embarked on the road to recovery, the U.S. made sure that “our bastards” (to paraphrase at least one American president) remained in power, creating a shadowy electoral slush account for the Liberal Democratic Party called the “M-Fund,” and fostering a one-party state that lasted several decades.

Then came the infamous U.S.-Japan Security Treaty amendments in 1960, forced upon the Japanese electorate without due process, causing enormous public opposition, riots and social damage, both in terms of property and political polarization.

This overt circumvention of Japan’s democratic institutions stunted the political maturation of Japan’s civil society: Japan never had, for example, the healthy subsequent antiwar grass-roots activism that unseated leaders worldwide in the late 1960s and beyond. As prominent American analysts themselves put it, Japan became an economic giant but a political pygmy.

Fast-forward to April 2015 and Abe’s U.S. tour. Despite years of media and academic attention on Abe’s revisionism, the U.S. bestowed upon him honors that no other Japanese PM has enjoyed, essentially legitimizing Abe’s campaigns worldwide.

Contrast this with how non-LDP left-leaning prime ministers have been treated: President Bill Clinton publicly humiliated Morihiro Hosokawa in 1994, and Washington hobbled Yukio Hatoyama five years ago (see “Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy,” JBC, June 2, 2010) on trade, military-base issues and reordered relations with China. Both PMs were so discredited that they were soon swept away by LDP re-elections, with reenergized conservatives on the rebound making reforms that set the stage for Japan’s recidivism today.

Why are the Americans resuscitating these toxic security guidelines? Simple: to contain China. But, to return to my original point, has Washington learned nothing from history? Can’t they see that the Cold War has been over for decades, and replacing the Soviet Union with China is a bad fit?

Granted, one can make a convincing case that China’s attitude towards democratic institutions ill-befits the Pax Americana. But the PRC is not the USSR — if anything, it’s precisely what the Marshall Planners would have wanted to happen to China.

China’s rapid economic growth and heavy integration into the world market, both as its factory and lender of last resort, indicates that it shall not (and should not) be so easily contained. Containment strategies drawn up by George Kennan 68 years ago are clearly obsolete.

Unfortunately, Washington seems eager to start Cold War II, with Japan again acting as America’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in Asia. Except this time, it does not have an American at the steering wheel in Tokyo, and the blood-nationalist in charge is a descendant of the ruthless right, bent on settling old personal scores and putting Japanese weapons and military forces overseas.

I don’t think the Americans are fully aware of what they are encouraging. Abe will erode the very democratic institutions (including the pacifist Constitution) the U.S. established to “cure” Japan’s war-like tendencies in the first place.

Abe has already enacted the means to engineer public opinion through media censorship, half-truths and big lies, as well as to intimidate critics and punish whistle-blowers.

Now, freshly emboldened after his trip to Washington (he even recently sent his “liberal” wife to visit war-celebrating Yasukuni Shrine), Abe will soon legally reconstitute the mythological version of Japan — the one that made so many Japanese support total war and carry out continent-wide genocide.

If you think I’m exaggerating, look again at history. Japan has swung back from liberalism before, after the “Taisho Democracy” of the 1920s. The flowering of democratic institutions, moderate tolerance of dissent and unprecedented prosperity did happen, but it only lasted about 15 years before the ruthless right took over.

This time it lasted much longer, but Japanese society has numerous bad habits that foster a reverse-engineering into militarism. Five years ago I thought remilitarization inconceivable after generations of a pacifist narrative, but seeing now how fast Japan has snapped back is cause for great alarm. This will be confirmed beyond doubt once we see the revival of prewar politics by assassination, the natural progression from the current trends of intimidation and death threats.

This will certainly abet Japan’s domestic conversion from a mild police state into a much harsher one. And then what? If the past 15 years are any guide, Japanese society’s latent suspicion of outsiders will manifest itself in the targeting of its non-Japanese residents with even more force.

Why? Because it can. They’re here and subject to our laws. If they don’t like it, they should leave. Because Japan is for the Japanese, as the blood-nationalists would define them.

Look out, non-Japanese residents, you’re going to attract even more attention now — as lab rats for Japan’s nascent foreign policy. Nice work, America, “Arsenal of Democracy.” History shows that once again, you’ve encouraged more arsenal than democracy.

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Debito’s own 20-year-old historical archive of life and human rights in Japan is at www.debito.org. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Monday of the month. Comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  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.

BloombergArimura051215

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)?


https://youtu.be/wt__lHCuH5g

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”.

Suck on the bitter lozenge that is Team Abe’s world view, and read on to see how this probably otherwise well-intentioned minister married to a NJ has to play Twister with illogic and weird social science to justify a warped narrative.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Japan Cabinet minister wary of opening ‘Pandora’s box’ of immigration
by Isabel Reynolds and Maiko Takahashi
Bloomberg, May 12, 2015
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-12/japan-minister-says-get-women-working-before-immigration-option
Commentary by the usual suspects at The Japan Times May 13, 2015 at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/13/national/social-issues/japan-must-put-women-work-opening-pandoras-box-immigration-female-empowerment-minister/

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.”

Some economists have urged the government to accept more foreigners to make up for a slide in the working age population. While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has noted there is a need for workers from overseas to help with housework and care of the elderly, he’s promoted female workers instead — appointing Arimura to the new post last year to spearhead the effort.

Arimura, whose husband is from Malaysia, said more immigration could add to social tension. For example, she felt uneasy when she saw one of her husband’s relatives make an Indonesian nanny sleep on a hotel floor while family members slept in beds.

“It’s a matter of course over there, but it would be unthinkable in Japan,” she said. “It would build up dissatisfaction with society.”

Few Foreigners
Japan’s working-age population may fall as low as 44.2 million by 2060 from 81.7 million in 2010, according to a projections from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. At the same time, people aged 65 or over will rise to almost 40 percent of the population.

Relying only on women to make up the shortfall may be difficult, given that one in three wants to be a full-time housewife, according to a survey published by the government in 2013. About 60 percent leave their jobs when they have their first child.

Increased immigration poses its own challenges in Japan. Cultural barriers to outsiders are rooted in a two-century isolationist policy under the Tokugawa Shogunate, which banned most immigration until 1853. A genre of writing called nihonjinron focuses on the theory that the Japanese are a unique people.

The number of registered foreign residents has been flat since 2006 at just over 2 million. That’s out of a population of about 127 million.

‘Precious’ Lifestyles
Public attitudes toward new arrivals may be changing. About 51 percent of Japanese support a more open immigration policy, according to a survey published by the Asahi newspaper last month. Some 34 percent oppose the idea.

“There are things we should do before we talk about that Pandora’s box,” Arimura said.
Her task is to convince voters that putting more women to work is the best solution. She said she realized the policy could cause confusion among backers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party given its past support for traditional family arrangements.

The government has no intention of interfering with the “precious” lifestyles of women who want to devote themselves to their families, Arimura said. Instead, she said it wanted to support those who might otherwise be forced to abandon careers because of family responsibilities, or who wish to resume working after raising children.

Female Managers
Arimura described as “a good start” a new draft bill obliging employers with more than 300 staff to publish gender breakdown statistics and plans to promote women. While non-compliance carries no penalty, she said the legislation would give a picture of how women are faring at work and pointers on the problems they face.

While Abe wants women to fill 30 percent of management positions by 2020, he faces an uphill task. Women accounted for just over 8 percent of management positions in private-sector companies employing more than 100 people last year, according to government data.

“In terms of tackling the low birth rate and promoting women, the next five or 10 years will decide the trend for Japan, whether it goes up or down,” Arimura said. “In a way, it’s the last chance.”

ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Now here’s a wonderful turn of events that I can’t help feeling a bit karmic about.

Gregory Clark, columnist for the Japan Times and xenophobic perpetual denier of racism in Japan (he’s even had a JT column entitled “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people“!), has gone beyond petty whines about, say, how he couldn’t enforce his White Privilege and make Roppongi police arrest some “African touts” because they were “hecklers”.  Now he’s complaining about something far more serious — about being targeted by Japan’s right wing. Check out this excerpt from Jeff Kingston’s most recent commentary in the Japan Times:

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From “Are forces of darkness gathering in Japan”, by Jeff Kingston, Japan Times, May 16, 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.”

Lamentably, he added, “You cannot expect anyone to come to your aid once the nationalistic right-wing mood creators, now on the rise, decide to attack you. Freedom of speech and opinion is being whittled away relentlessly.”

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Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/05/16/commentary/forces-darkness-gathering-japan/

COMMENT: That’s how bad it’s getting for NJ in Japan — even the worm has turned. But it’s pretty rich for Clark to say this given the past fabrications and intimidations, not to mention decades of profiteering from pandering to those forces that have now turned against him. As for claims of “defamation”, how about the long-standing vituperative (okay, I’ll use his favorite word: “ugly”) criticism doled out towards anyone who questioned the system and its unfairness to anyone else in a similar position as a long-term resident (and in my case, a citizen) of Japan?

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?

I’ll let Debito.org Reader JDG conclude this blog entry:

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JDG:  Please spare a moment’s thought for the plight of Gregory Clark. Even though this has happened to him (and seriously, see how low an opinion of him is held in the article ‘Our Other Man in Japan’), I have to say that such intimidation and discrimination, EVEN against Gregory Clark, is deplorable (in fact, when you or I are discriminated, we get the whole apologist slapdown. When it happens to Clark, suddenly it’s ‘The Forces of Darkness’! I mean what is this? Lord of the Rings?). I just wish that he’d used all his years of access to policy makers to work to improve the lot of NJ in Japan, rather than for his own personal gain, and IMHO, vain pride and sense of self-entitlement.

Anyhow, starting with that time he got annoyed with the police because they didn’t care who he was, and therefore didn’t arrest some black guys for him, he seems to have just gone downhill. What’s next? Black vans outside his house, and bullets from the uyoku in the post?

Since I read in previous articles about Gregory that he was loaded and flush with cash from property deals and public speaking, I won’t be asking Debito.org readers to donate any money to get Gregory off the street, nor will I be asking any of you to ‘adopt an Australian’ for $5 a month (or anything like that).

Dear Greg,
If you’re reading this, you always have a home here with us (maybe. I dunno, after all, it’s Dr. Debito’s page, and you’ve been kind of critical of him in the past. Just sayin’.). What I mean is, now that you’ve seen Japan ‘through the looking glass’ as it were, had your bubble burst, and have experienced the kind of discrimination that you always said didn’t exist for NJ in Japan, anytime you want to pitch in and lend a weighty hand in this struggle for human rights, we (well, I guess ‘I’, after all, I can’t speak for the others) would welcome you, and your past sins would be forgiven, as it were (again, that’s an ‘I’ statement).

Yours sincerely, JDG (the kind of NJ you wouldn’t have given the time of day to).

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

ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Further along the lines of how the Japanese Government is pressuring overseas historians to toe a GOJ-approved ideological line, here is an example of how they’re doing the same to foreign journalists. While Gaijin Handling is not a new activity (it even happened to Dave Barry back in the day — clearly they didn’t know he was a humor columnist), under PM Abe it is becoming more paranoid and insidious, with implications that criticism of Japan must somehow be linked to Chinese influence.  In other words, criticism = shilling if not spying for the Chinese! This is a significant change in attitude, as the author points out below, and it will influence Japan PR’s ability to persuade (as opposed to threaten) the outside world. Wonder how long it’ll be before they drop by the Japan Times to lean on them too about my critical JBC columns. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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On My Watch
Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, Number One Shimbun, Thursday, April 02, 2015
Confessions of a foreign correspondent after a half-decade of reporting from Tokyo to his German readers
by Carsten Germis, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Courtesy of Marcus

http://www.fccj.or.jp/number-1-shimbun/item/576-on-my-watch.html

My bags are packed, as the song goes. After more than five years as the Tokyo correspondent for the German daily, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, I will soon leave Tokyo for home.

The country I’m leaving is different from the one I arrived in back in January 2010. Although things seem the same on the surface, the social climate – that has increasingly influenced my work in the past 12 months – is slowly but noticeably changing.

There is a growing gap between the perceptions of the Japanese elites and what is reported in the foreign media, and I worry that it could become a problem for journalists working here. Of course, Japan is a democracy with freedom of the press, and access to information is possible even for correspondents with poor Japanese language skills. But the gap exists because there is a clear shift that is taking place under the leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – a move by the right to whitewash history. It could become a problem because Japan’s new elites have a hard time dealing with opposing views or criticism, which is very likely to continue in the foreign media.

The Nikkei recently published an essay by their correspondent in Berlin about the February visit to Japan of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He wrote: “Merkel’s visit to Japan was more conducive to criticism of Japan than friendship. With Japanese experts, she discussed her country’s policy to end nuclear power. She talked about the wartime history when she visited the Asahi and when she met with Abe. She also talked with Katsuya Okada, president of the DPJ, the largest opposition party. . . . Friendship was promoted only when she visited a factory run by a German company and shook hands with the robot Asimo.”

That seemed harsh. But, even accepting the premise . . . what is friendship? Is friendship simply agreement? Is not true friendship the ability to speak of one’s beliefs when a friend is shifting in a direction that could cause him harm? And surely Merkel’s visit was more complex than just critical.

Let me make my own stance clear. After five years, my love and affection for this country are unbroken. In fact, thanks to the many fine people I’ve met, my feelings are stronger than ever. Most of my Japanese friends and Japanese readers in Germany have told me they feel my love in my writing, especially following the events of March 11, 2011.

Unfortunately, the bureaucrats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in Tokyo see things completely differently, and it seems some in the Japanese media feel the same way. To them I have been – like almost all my German media colleagues – a Japan basher capable of only delivering harsh criticism. It is we who have been responsible for, as the Nikkei’s man in Berlin put it, the two countries’ bilateral relations becoming “less friendly.”

Changing relations

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is politically conservative, economically liberal and market oriented. And yet, those claiming that the coverage of Abe’s historical revisionism has always been critical are right. In Germany it is inconceivable for liberal democrats to deny responsibility for what were wars of aggression. If Japan’s popularity in Germany has suffered, it is not due to the media coverage, but to Germany’s repugnance at historical revisionism.

My tenure in Japan began with very different issues. In 2010, the Democratic Party of Japan ran the government. All three administrations I covered – Hatoyama, Kan and Noda – tried to explain their policies to the foreign press, and we often heard politicians saying things like, “We know we have to do more and become better at running the country.”

Foreign journalists were often invited by then Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada, for example, to exchange views. There were weekly meetings in the Kantei, the PM’s residence, and officials were willing to discuss – more or less openly – current issues. We didn’t hesitate to criticize the government’s stance on certain issues, but officials continued to try to make their positions understood.

The rollback came soon after the December 2012 elections. Despite the prime minister’s embrace of new media like Facebook, for example, there is no evidence of an appreciation for openness anywhere in his administration. Finance Minister Taro Aso has never tried to talk to foreign journalists or to provide a response to questions about the massive government debt.

In fact, there is a long list of issues that foreign correspondents want to hear officialdom address: energy policy, the risks of Abenomics, constitutional revision, opportunities for the younger generation, the depopulation of rural regions. But the willingness of government representatives to talk with the foreign press has been almost zero. Yet, at the same time, anyone who criticizes the brave new world being called for by the prime minister is called a Japan basher.

What is new, and what seems unthinkable compared to five years ago, is 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? Not only have I never been there, but I’ve never even applied for a visa. If this is the approach of the new administration’s drive to make Japan’s goals understood, there’s a lot of work ahead. Of course, the pro-China accusations did not go over well with my editor, and I received the backing to continue with my reporting. If anything, the editing of my reports became sharper.

The heavy handedness has been increasing over the past few years. In 2012, while the DPJ was still in power, I took a junket to South Korea, interviewing former comfort women and visiting the contested island of Takeshima (Dokdo to Koreans). Of course it was PR, but it was a rare chance to see the center of the controversy for myself. I was called in by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a meal and discussion, and received a few dozen pages of information proving that the island was Japanese.

In 2013, with Abe’s administration in charge, I was called in once again after I wrote about an interview with three comfort women. This also included a lunch invitation, and once again I received information to help my understanding of the prime minister’s thoughts.

But things seem to have changed in 2014, and 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.

My departing message

Two weeks before the epic meeting between the Consul general and my editor, I had another lunch with MoFA officials, in which protests were made of my use of words like “whitewash history,” and the idea that Abe’s nationalistic direction might “isolate Japan, not only in East Asia.” The tone was frostier and, rather than trying to explain and convince, their attitude was angrier. No one was listening to my attempts to explain why German media are especially sensitive about historical revisionism.

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.”

So here’s my departing message: Unlike some of my colleagues, I do not see a threat in Japan to freedom of reporting. Though many critical voices are more silent than during the DPJ administration, they are there – and perhaps in larger numbers than before.

The closed-shop mentality of the Japanese political elite and the present inability of the administration leaders to risk open discussion with foreign media doesn’t really affect press freedom; there are plenty of other sources to gather information. But it does reveal how little the government understands that – in a democracy – policy must be explained to the public. And the world.

It doesn’t strike me as funny any more when colleagues tell me that the LDP doesn’t have anyone in the press affairs department who will speak English or provide information to a foreign journalist. Nor does the fact that the present prime minister, who claims to be well traveled, has declined to make the short trip to speak to us at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club. In fact, I can only be saddened at how the government is not only secretive with the foreign press, but with its own citizens.

In the past five years, I’ve been up and down the Japanese archipelago, and – unlike in Tokyo – I’ve never had anyone, from Hokkaido to Kyushu, accuse me of writings that were hostile to Japan. On the contrary, I’ve been blessed with interesting stories and enjoyable people everywhere. Japan is still one of the most wealthy, open nations in the world; it’s a pleasant place to live and report from for foreign correspondents.

My hope is that foreign journalists – and even more importantly, the Japanese public – can continue to speak their minds. I believe that harmony should not come from repression or ignorance; and that a truly open and healthy democracy is a goal worthy of my home of the last five great years.

Carsten Germis was the Tokyo correspondent of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from 2010 to 2015 and a member of the Board of Directors of the FCCJ.

ENDS

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

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JAPAN MAKES MORE SENSE THROUGH A RELIGIOUS LENS
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
Column 86 for the Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Community Page
April 6, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/04/05/issues/viewed-religious-lens-japan-makes-sense/

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, effectively advocating a system where people would live separately by race in Japan (a “Japartheid,” if you will). But that’s just 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), and arguing that Western diplomats cannot solve problems in the Middle East because of their “blue eyes and blond hair” — not to mention 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.”

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.

A comprehensive but concise definition of “religion” is “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.”

Japaneseness qualifies. A set of beliefs ordering the “Japanese universe” is available at your nearest big bookstore, where shelves groan under the wiki-composite pseudoscience of Nihonjinron (the “Theory of The Japanese”), a lucrative market for navel-gazing about what Japanese allegedly think or do uniquely and collectively.

Japan also has its own creation myth grounded in mystical immortals (the goddess Amaterasu et al), with enough currency that a sitting prime minister, Yoshiro Mori, once publicly claimed Japan was “a nation of deities (kami no kuni) with the Emperor at its center,” in which Japanese have seen “beings above and beyond humankind” (2000). Seen in this way, Japan transcends the mere nation-state to become something akin to a holy land.

Devotional and ritual observances involve not only an imported and adapted foreign religion (Buddhism) hybridized with an established state religion (Shinto), but also elements of animism and ancestor worship whose observances regularly reach down to the level of the neighborhood (o-mikoshi festival portable shrines) and even the household (butsudan shrines).

As for a moral code governing conduct, Japanese media offer plenty of ascriptive programming (e.g., NHK’s popular quiz show “Nihonjin no Shitsumon” or “Questions The Japanese Ask” — as if that’s a discernible genre). They broadcast an unproblematized uniformity of “Japanese” thought, belief and morality generally offset from the remainder of the heterodox world.

Thus this religion-like phenomenon, because of the knock-on effects of vague mysticism and faith, goes beyond regular nationalism.

For one thing, unlike nationalism, religion doesn’t necessarily need another country to contrast and compete with — Japanese are sui generis special because they are a family descended from gods. For another, nationality can be obtained through law, but bloodline descent cannot — and blood is what makes someone a “real” Japanese. Further, how can you ever offer a counter-narrative to a myth? (For a national narrative, you can offer a different historical interpretation of mortals and events; it’s far tougher to argue different gods.)


These dynamics have been covered in much literature elsewhere — in fact, they are depicted positively by the Nihonjinron high priests themselves — but few people consider three other effects of religiosity.

First, there’s religion’s enhanced political power in prescribing and enforcing conformity. If media uncritically establish how “normal Japanese” act, then deviant thoughts and behaviors not only become “unusual” but also “un-Japanese.” It’s not a big leap from the “science” of what people naturally do as Japanese to the science of what to do in order to be Japanese. There is an orthodoxy to be followed, or else.

This dynamic also robs dissidents of the power to use reason to adjust society’s course. Instead of social mores being codified in the rule of law or grounded in terms of concrete “rights, privileges and duties” of a nation-state, they are molded case by case to suit an alleged “consensus feeling” of an abstract group, sending signals through the media or just through “the air” (which people are supposed to “read”: kūki o yomu).

How can one reason with or argue against an amorphous “understanding” of things, or summon enough energy to push against an invisible enfranchised opponent? Easier all around to fall back on the default shikata ga nai (“There’s nothing I can do”) attitude, meaning Japanese will police each other into acceptance of the status quo.

The second effect of this phenomenon is the corruption of social science. The broad-stroke categorization inherent to “groupism” normalizes the pigeonholing of peoples. In Japan, this has reached the point where influential people openly espouse fallacious theories, such as that eye color affects vision qualityblood type affectspersonality and race/country of origin/gender influence intellectual ability or talent (e.g., “Indians are good programmers,” “Jews are rich,” “Chinese have criminal DNA”).

Although stereotypes exist in every society, in Japan they underpin and blinker most social science. In fact, learning the stereotypes is the science.

The third effect is religion’s enhanced rhetorical power, and this projects influence beyond Japan’s borders.

If Japan’s behavior was merely seen as a matter of nationalism, then things could be explained away in terms of furthering national interests under rational-actor theory. But they’re not. Again, “quirky” Japanese get away with weird stuff like bigotry because they are treated with the deference traditionally accorded to a religion.

Scholar Richard Dawkins put it best: “A widespread assumption . . . is that religious faith is especially vulnerable to offence and should be protected by an abnormally thick wall of respect.”

Author Douglas Adams expounds on this idea: “Religion . . . has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means is, ‘Here is an idea or a notion you’re not allowed to say anything bad about. You’re just not.’

“If somebody votes for a party that you don’t agree with, you’re free to argue about it as much as you like. . . . But on the other hand if somebody says, ‘I mustn’t move a light switch on a Saturday,’ you say, ‘I respect that.’ ”

Likewise, you must respect Japan, and woe betide you if you criticize it. Decry even the most egregious bad behavior, such as the whitewashing of an exploitative empire’s history into an exculpated victimhood, and you will be branded “anti-Japan,” a “Japan-hater” or “Japan-basher” by the reactionary cloud of anonyms that so dominate Japan’s Internet.

This trolling wouldn’t matter if that cloud was ignored for what it is — a bunch of anonymous craven cranks — but otherwise sensible people steeped (or academically trained) in Japan’s mysticism tend to take these disembodied opinions from the air seriously. Instead, the critic loses credibility and, in extreme cases, even their livelihood for not toeing the line. Japan is sensitive, and you’re not allowed to say anything bad about it. You’re just not.

This is one reason why even the most scientifically trained among us is ready, for example, to take seriously the comment of a single native-born Japanese (rather than trust qualified Japan experts who unfortunately lack the mystical bloodline) as some kind of evidence in any discussion on Japan. Every Japanese by blood and dint of being raised in the temple of Japanese society is reflexively accorded the right to represent all Japan. It’s respectful, but it also blunts analysis by keeping discussion of Japan within temple control.

So, whenever Japan makes mystical arguments — about, say, longer intestines, special soil and snow or the country’s unique climate — for political ends (to justify banning imports of beef, construction equipment, skis, rice, etc.), skittish outsiders tend to be deferential to the nonsense because of Japan’s “uniqueness” and respectfully ease off the pressure.

Or when Japan’s rulers coddle war-mongering rightists (who also advocate Japan’s mysticism) and sanction pacifist leftists (who more likely see religion as a mass opiate), relax — that’s just how Japan maintains its unique social order.

And if that social order is ever questioned, especially by any Japanese, that is treated as heresy or apostasy, drawing the threat of reprisal — if not violence — from zealots. After all, you do not question faith — or it would no longer be faith. You just don’t.

In sum, seeing Japaneseness through the prism of religion helps explain better why the world accommodates Japan egregiously excepting and offsetting itself. It may be time to abandon simple political theory (seeing Japan’s polity in terms of rational actors with occasional inexplicable irrationalities) in favor of the sociology of religious cults.

Specifically, this would mean studying Japan’s cult of personalities, i.e., the way a ruling elite is resurrecting mysticism and exploiting the reflexive deference usually reserved for religion to game the system. This is especially important now, as Japan’s rulers indulge in belligerent behavior — historical revisionism, remilitarization and so on — that’s helping destabilize the region.

This column was a seminal attempt to make that case. Discuss, if you dare.

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Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Monday of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDS