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

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

Version with links to sources

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

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Hi Blog.  Once again, the JT comes out with an insightful article about the difference between appearance and reality, especially in Japan’s labor market.  Okunuki Hifumi tells us about how Japan’s most-coveted job — civil servant (!) — actually comes with at a price of fewer rights under Japan’s labor laws.  Depending on your status, bureaucrats lack the right to strike, collectively bargain, or unionize (not to mention, as it wasn’t in this article, engage in “political activities”).  And that can severely weaken their ability to fight back when labor abuses occur (see in particular footnote 6) or, as schoolteachers, to educate students about politics.  Read on.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito.

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(Photo Caption) Pop quiz: Which of these types of government worker has the right to strike — tax inspectors, schoolteachers, firefighters or public health workers? Answer: None of the above, thanks to an Occupation-era law designed to tamp down the influence of communism. | KYODO PHOTO

The flip side of coveted public-sector jobs in Japan: fewer rights
BY HIFUMI OKUNUKI, SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES, AUG 21, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/08/21/issues/flip-side-coveted-public-sector-jobs-japan-less-rights/

I research labor law and teach it to university students. In the first class, I break up the two groups of labor laws — those related to individual and collective labor relations — for my students. Individual labor relations law begins and ends with the 1947 Labor Standards Act (rōdō kijun hō); its collective counterpart is surely the 1950 Trade Union Act (rōdō kumiai hō).

About 99.9 percent of my 18-20-year-olds look blank the first time they hear the word “rōdō kumiai,” or labor union. Some of them have arubaito (part-time jobs) and thus already have become rōdōsha (workers) protected by labor laws, but they have not heard of labor unions and have no idea what such a creature looks like. I have my work cut out trying to explain to them the concepts of labor unions, collective bargaining and striking.

A popular professional aspiration among university students today is to join the ranks of kōmuin, or government employees. Civil servants have stable employment, meaning they don’t have to worry about the possibility of being laid off. Their work hours and days off are usually quite favorable compared with those at private-sector firms. (At least that is what is said — that is the reputation. The reality is not so straightforward.)

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

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

Read the rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/08/21/issues/flip-side-coveted-public-sector-jobs-japan-less-rights/

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Mainichi: Court orders anti-Korean group to compensate woman over hate speech

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Hi Blog. The third in a series (the first two are here and here) about developments after Japan’s first hate speech was passed earlier this year. Critics (naturally) decried it as a means to stifle freedom of speech, but I took exception to that, saying that it was a step in the right direction, at least. This series of articles in the Mainichi Shinbun seem to bear that out, talking about the positive effects of the law, where once-daily hate rallies are down, xenophobic language is softened and made less normalized, administrative organs now have means of enforcement, and even court cases are ruling in favor of targeted victims. Good. For example, this next case ruling against officially-certified hate group Zaitokukai, which even cites the UN CERD! Bravo. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Court orders anti-Korean group to compensate woman over hate speech
September 28, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160928/p2a/00m/0na/003000c
Courtesy of JK

OSAKA — The Osaka District Court on Sept. 27 ordered a citizens’ group that holds hate speech rallies targeting Korean residents in Japan to pay 770,000 yen in compensation to a Korean woman over defamation carried out by the group and its former chairman.

Freelance writer Lee Sin Hae, 45, filed the lawsuit against “Zainichi Tokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai” (literally, “citizens’ group that does not forgive special rights for Korean residents of Japan,” or “Zaitokukai”) and its former chairman Makoto Sakurai, 44, demanding 5.5 million yen in compensation for defamation by fueling discrimination against Korean residents through hate speech campaigns.

According to the ruling, after Lee contributed an article criticizing hate speech to an online news site, Sakurai called her “an old Korean hag” at rallies his group organized in Kobe’s Sannomiya district and targeted her on Twitter using a discriminatory word for a Korean person sometime between 2013 and 2014 when he was the head of the group.

Presiding Judge Tamami Masumori acknowledged that some of the things Sakurai had said and tweeted invaded her personal rights and concluded such actions constituted insults banned under the U.N. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

At the same time, Lee’s claim of emotional distress caused by the spread of information posted online was denied.

Zaitokukai released a comment, saying the ruling was “one-sided and unjust.” Both the plaintiff and defendant are considering filing an appeal.

ENDS

Japanese version
ヘイトスピーチ訴訟
「人種差別」認定 大阪地裁、在特会に賠償命令
毎日新聞2016年9月28日 東京朝刊
「人種差別」認定 大阪地裁、在特会に賠償命令
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20160928/ddm/041/040/183000c

インターネット上などの民族差別的なヘイトスピーチで名誉を傷付けられたとして、在日朝鮮人の女性が「在日特権を許さない市民の会(在特会)」と元会長の桜井誠氏(44)に550万円の賠償を求めた訴訟の判決が27日、大阪地裁であった。増森珠美裁判長は一部について「在日朝鮮人への差別を助長、増幅させる意図があった」と認定し、在特会側に77万円の支払いを命じた。双方とも控訴を検討している。

原告はフリーライターの李信恵(リシネ)さん(45)。判決によると、李さんはネットニュース上でヘイトスピーチについて批判的な記事を書いた。桜井氏は在特会の会長だった2013〜14年、神戸・三宮での街宣活動で「朝鮮人のババア」と発言したり、ツイッターで「鮮人記者」などと書き込んだりした。

増森裁判長は桜井氏の一部の発言や記述について、「人格権を違法に侵害するもの」と指摘。人種差別の撤廃を求める人種差別撤廃条約の趣旨に反した侮辱行為と結論付けた。

一方、李さんはネット情報の拡散被害による精神的苦痛なども訴えたが、判決はこうしたネット被害には踏み込まなかった。在特会側は代理人弁護士を通じ、「判決は一方的で不当」などとする談話を出した。【向畑泰司】
ENDS

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Mainichi: Effect of new anti-hate speech law spreads to executive, judicial branches

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When Japan’s first actual law against hate speech was passed in January this year, critics (naturally) decried it as a means to stifle freedom of speech. I took exception to that, saying that it was a step in the right direction, at least. Recent articles in the Mainichi Shinbun seem to bear that out. Here is is the second of three (the first is here), talking about the positive effects of the law, where once-daily hate rallies are down, xenophobic language is softened and made less normalized, administrative organs now have means of enforcement, and even court cases are ruling in favor of targeted victims. Good. Read on.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Effect of new anti-hate speech law spreads to executive, judicial branches

June 6, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160606/p2a/00m/0na/012000c

Bulletin boards at the Ministry of Justice in Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki district are filled with 49 posters calling against hate speech campaigns, in this picture taken on June 3, 2016. The anti-hate speech law went into force that day. (Mainichi)

A new law aimed at eliminating hate speech campaigns, which instigate rejection of specific racial or ethnic groups from local communities, came into force on June 3. While the legislation has proven effective in some parts of the country, such as in Kawasaki where the court handed down a provisional injunction banning a hate speech rally in an area home to many Korean residents, there remain challenges that need to be addressed.

【Related】NPA to crack down on hate speech demonstrators through existing legislation
【Related】Court bans planned anti-Korean hate speech rally in Kawasaki
On June 5, a hate speech demonstration in Kawasaki was called off after participants were surrounded by hundreds of citizens protesting against the rally and police urged them to discontinue the event. The organizers terminated the rally after demonstrators paraded only about 10 meters down the road, in what was going to be the country’s first such demonstration since the anti-hate speech law came into effect.

The incident came three days after the Kawasaki branch of the Yokohama District Court issued a provisional injunction prohibiting a hate speech demonstration within a 500-meter radius of the office of a social welfare organization supporting Korean residents in the city. The decision forced organizers of the June 5 rally to change their plans, including the location for the event.

In October 2013, the Kyoto District Court handed down a ruling banning the Zaitokukai (Citizens against the special privileges of Korean residents in Japan) from staging hate speech demonstrations near the then Kyoto No. 1 Korean Elementary School and ordered the group to pay compensation. The ruling accused those demonstrations of “racial discrimination” in light of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The ruling was later finalized by the Supreme Court.

The June 2 provisional injunction issued by the Yokohama District Court’s Kawasaki branch also quoted the same international treaty, as well as the anti-hate speech law that had just been enacted in May. The ruling called hate speech rallies “illegal actions that infringe upon the personal rights for leading a peaceful life” and pointed out that grossly illegal hate speech campaigns, such as repeating loud chants with bullhorns, lie “outside the bounds of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression guaranteed under the Constitution.”

“The ruling conveys the court’s indignation over hate speech,” said a senior official at the Ministry of Justice about the provisional injunction going as far as to ban a planned hate speech demonstration in advance. The ministry was behind the submission of the anti-hate speech bill to the Diet.

Signs of change are also emerging in police responses over the issue. In step with the anti-hate speech law coming into effect, the National Police Agency issued a notice to prefectural police departments across the country asking them to strictly respond to hate speech demonstrations by making full use of existing legislation such as that against defamation and contempt.

Because the anti-hate speech legislation does not have any punitive provision or clause prohibiting such activities, it is impossible to crack down on hate speech with the law alone. It is said the use of roads for any demonstration must be granted in principle. Nonetheless, hundreds of riot police and other officers from Kanagawa Prefectural Police were mobilized at the site of the June 5 rally to prepare for any emergencies.

Yasuko Morooka, a lawyer who authored a book titled “Hate Speech towa nanika” (What is hate speech?), hails the anti-hate speech legislation, saying, “The law provides support for courts, local bodies and police in making a decision on their strict responses to hate speech.”

The new law, however, has its own limits. In order to provide relief to victims who suffered damage from hate speech, they still need to prove in detail violations of their personal rights and defamation, just as they needed to before the law came into effect. The June 2 provisional injunction banning a hate speech rally became viable as there existed crystal-clear damage in Kawasaki, where the organizers of the planned rally had repeatedly staged similar demonstrations on about a dozen occasions.

A senior Justice Ministry official said, “The court decision could be different if the expression used in the announcement for a hate speech demonstration was different. I’m not sure if the courts would issue a similar provisional injunction in other cases.”

ENDS

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

Original Japanese:
クローズアップ2016
ヘイトスピーチ 新法効果、行政・司法に
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20160606/ddm/003/040/070000c
毎日新聞2016年6月6日 東京朝刊

特定の人種や民族を地域社会から排斥することを扇動するヘイトスピーチの解消をうたった対策法が3日、施行された。ヘイトスピーチを伴う街宣活動(ヘイトデモ)について、川崎市内の在日コリアン集住地域での実施を禁じる司法判断が出るなど早くも新法の波及効果が出ているが、なお課題も残る。

厳しい対応、後押し
対策法施行後、最初とみられるヘイトデモが5日に予定されていた川崎市。主催者側は道路で行進しようとしたが、デモに反対する数百人の市民らが取り囲むなど騒然とした雰囲気に包まれ、約10メートル進んだところで警察の説得を受け入れて中止となった。

今回のデモを巡っては、横浜地裁川崎支部が2日、在日コリアンが多いエリアにある事務所から半径500メートル以内での実施を禁じる仮処分を決定。主催者側は場所などの計画の変更を迫られた。

こうした司法判断の先例としては、京都朝鮮初級学校(京都市)前での街宣活動を巡る京都地裁判決(2013年10月)がある。国連の人種差別撤廃条約を根拠に街宣を「人種差別」と指摘し、周辺での街宣禁止と損害賠償を「在日特権を許さない市民の会」側に命じた(最高裁で確定)。

2日の仮処分決定の特徴は、同条約に加えて先月成立したばかりの対策法を引用した点にある。対策法が定義するヘイトスピーチを「平穏に生活する人格権に対する違法な侵害行為」ととらえた上で、拡声機を使って大音量で繰り返すなどヘイトデモの違法性が著しいケースは「憲法が定める集会や表現の自由の保障の範囲外」と指摘した。デモを事前に差し止めるという踏み込んだ判断に、法務省のある幹部は「ヘイトスピーチに対する裁判所の憤りを感じる」との感想を漏らした。

警察の対応にも変化の兆しがみられる。警察庁は施行に合わせて、(名誉毀損(きそん)罪や侮辱罪などの)現行法を駆使してヘイトデモに厳しく対処するよう各都道府県警に通達。対策法は禁止や罰則がない「理念法」で、ヘイトスピーチ自体を取り締まることはできない。デモの前提となる道路使用も原則許可しなければならないとされる。それでも、5日の現場には、神奈川県警の機動隊員など数百人を動員し、不測の事態に備えた。

「ヘイト・スピーチとは何か」の著書がある師岡康子弁護士は対策法の意義について「裁判所や自治体、警察がヘイトスピーチに厳格に対処する判断の後押しになってきている」と語る。

もちろん、効果には限界もある。ヘイトスピーチの被害救済についても、被害者側が人格権侵害や名誉毀損などを具体的に証明する必要があるという状況は施行前と変わらない。2日の仮処分決定は、主催者側が過去十数回、市内で同種デモを繰り返しており、被害が明白だったことが差し止めを可能とした。

法務省幹部は「例えば、デモを呼びかける告知の表現が一つ違えば司法判断は変わりうる。他のケースで差し止めが認められるかは分からない」と言う。【鈴木一生、川上晃弘】

各自治体、試行錯誤 努力義務に温度差
法務省が3月公表した実態調査(2012年4月〜15年9月)によると、ヘイトデモの発生のピークは13、14年だが、「沈静化したとは言えない状況」にある。こうした中、スタートした対策法は国にヘイトスピーチ解消の責務を、自治体には努力義務を課しているが、その「努力」には温度差がある。

5日に中止となった川崎市内のデモでは、市は事前に、主催者側が集合場所として申請した公園2カ所の使用を許可しなかった。対策法が定義する「差別的言動」に当たると判断したためだ。市人権・男女共同参画室は「難しい判断だった。新法なしに不許可は出せなかった」。仮処分決定と同様、市が対策法の趣旨を最大限生かそうとしたことがうかがえる。

逆に、名古屋市では先月29日、同市中区の公園を出発点にヘイトデモが行われた。「(利用申請の)書類に不備がない」ことが許可の理由だった。河村たかし市長は翌日の記者会見で「何をしてもいいというわけではないが、表現の自由も大事」と述べた。

独自の取り組みを進める自治体もある。大阪市では7月1日、ヘイトスピーチ抑止に向けた全国初の条例が施行される。市に被害の申し立てがあれば、国際法学者や弁護士らでつくる審査会が「ヘイトスピーチに該当するか」を調査。答申を受けた市長が「該当する」と判断した場合、その内容と団体・個人名を市のホームページで公表する。ネット上の差別的な書き込みも施行日以降に残っていれば対象になる。吉村洋文市長は「法律は(被害者救済のための)具体的な措置がなく不十分。市条例には盛り込まれており、抑止になる」と強調する。【太田圭介、三上剛輝、岡崎大輔】

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

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JT: Renho nationality furor exposes Japan’s deeply embedded gender bias

Hi Blog. Colin Jones has come up with another insightful column, with a legalistic spine, in regards to how Japanese nationality has historically been awarded (until 1985, through fathers only, not mothers) until it was challenged. And, true to their nature in Japanese jurisprudence, Tokyo courts sided with the status quo (of discriminating against international children with Japanese mothers), and it wasn’t until the Diet amended the laws before they changed their tune. Yet, as Colin points out, the stigma still remains, especially in light of the debate regarding DP leader Renho’s true “Japaneseness”, a dual-nationality flap that never should have been an issue in the first place, –regardless of whether you are proponent of single nationality or double (I fall in the latter camp). Read the article for a breathtaking tour through Japan’s convoluted legal logic. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Renho nationality furor exposes Japan’s deeply embedded gender bias
by Colin P.A. Jones, The Japan Times, Sept. 28, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/09/28/issues/renho-nationality-furor-exposes-japans-deeply-embedded-gender-bias/

Excerpts germane to Debito.org:

In short, decades after her birth, Renho is still being punished for having a Japanese parent who was female rather than male. Renho’s case thus offers a stark illustration of the deeply rooted structural impediments faced by women in Japan even today.

It also demonstrates the Japanese establishment’s general inability to acknowledge the past. The fact that such blatant government-sanctioned discrimination existed until the 1980s simply disappears into the memory hole, a hole that probably exists because the people who ran Japan back then are essentially the same as those who run it today.

[…]

Grossly oversimplified, the [Tokyo] high court found that the Nationality Act provision granting citizenship to children of Japanese fathers but not mothers was constitutional because that is all it says. It doesn’t go on to actively declare that children born to a Japanese mother may not obtain Japanese nationality — that would be constitutionality problematic! In fact, the act specifies the special circumstances in which nationality could be obtained through a Japanese mother (such as when the father was unknown).

The ruling goes on to note that the Diet had a choice of a general rule recognizing birth nationality to children of a) Japanese fathers, b) Japanese mothers or c) Japanese mothers or fathers, and it chose option a). It could have chosen b) too, which would also have been constitutional (though the notion that the male-dominated Diet would have done so is laughable, of course).

Finally, the court turned to its own inadequacies: Even if it found the Nationality Act unconstitutional, it would not result in the plaintiff obtaining Japanese nationality. The law would just be void rather than construed the way the plaintiff desired.

As is so often the case with decisions like these, the courts were at pains to show that there was a layer of kindness and sensitivity between their staid, heartless exterior and staid, heartless center. The high court makes all sorts of comforting statements about how the gender preferences expressed in the Nationality Act may no longer be appropriate. The court also addressed the possibility that the child plaintiff might be left stateless (but did not bother to mention the real-life impact the Nationality Act had on stateless children fathered by U.S. military personnel, particularly in Okinawa). Specifically, it noted that the situation was “makoto ni ki no doku na koto de aru” — truly a regrettable thing. “But,” it continues, “tough luck.” (I am paraphrasing.)

The more decisions I read like this, the harder it is to avoid concluding that Japanese courts at the time didn’t care about people in general, children in particular, equal protection or possibly even the Constitution — at least not enough to actually do anything beyond stringing really complex sentences together. It would have been interesting to see how the Supreme Court ruled on the matter, but that appeal was rendered moot in 1984 when the Diet amended the Nationality Act to allow Japanese nationality to be obtained from a Japanese mother also.

Renho nationality furor exposes Japan’s deeply embedded gender bias

ENDS

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

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Hi Blog. Article first, then comment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMENTS:

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

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

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

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

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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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Suraj Case: Tokyo High Court rules Immigration Bureau not responsible for killing him during deportation

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Hi Blog. Continuing the farcical Suraj Case, where Immigration authorities were once held responsible for using “illegal excessive force”, asphyxiating a Ghanian deportee with forcible restraint during deportation procedures. The Tokyo High Court has just ruled that nobody is responsible for killing him.

In the ultimate blaming of the victim, the judge, named Takizawa Izumi, essentially ruled it all an issue of heart failure. Just an accident. It was even, quote, “necessary.”  Despite the Japan Times calling his death “brutal” back in 2011.

Clearly human life is cheap if it’s foreign in a Japanese Gaijin Tank.  Once again, NJ in Japan can be killed with impunity (more in “Embedded Racism”, Chapter Six). Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

In reversal, Tokyo High Court rules government not responsible for Ghanaian deportee’s death
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI
THE JAPAN TIMES, JAN 18, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/01/18/national/crime-legal/reversal-tokyo-high-court-rules-government-not-responsible-ghanaian-deportees-death/

In a reversal, the Tokyo High Court determined Monday that the government was not responsible for the 2010 death of a Ghanaian alledgedly subjected to excessive force by immigration authorities while being deported.

In overturning a lower court’s ruling, presiding Judge Izumi Takizawa said the level of physical force used by officials to restrain Abubakar Awudu Suraj, who was 45 years old at the time of his death, was “not illegal” and even “necessary.”

“Immigration authorities’ effort to subdue him was necessary to ensure his deportation would go smoothly,” Takizawa said.

“They are not culpable” for his death, the judge concluded.

The ruling overturns an order by the Tokyo District Court in March 2014 that the government pay a combined ¥5 million in compensation to his widow, who is a Japanese citizen, and his mother, who lives in Ghana.

The earlier ruling, which also held immigration officials responsible for Suraj’s death, was believed to be the nation’s first-ever court decision subjecting government officials to damages payments in connection with the death of a non-Japanese they mistreated.

[…]

In its 2014 ruling, the Tokyo District Court determined that, contrary to claims by authorities, Suraj had suffocated as a result of being forced into a crouching posture.

Citing the results of an autopsy that revealed the man had a minor heart condition called a cystic tumor of the atrioventricular node, immigration officials had originally blamed his death on a heart attack stemming from the tumor. They said Suraj had “happened to” suffer an attack at precisely the moment he was restrained.

Monday’s ruling said that although it is possible authorities’ use of force triggered an erratic heartbeat that led to his death, the tumor is so rare that there is no way officials could have predicted his death.

Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/01/18/national/crime-legal/reversal-tokyo-high-court-rules-government-not-responsible-ghanaian-deportees-death/

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

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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

JT: Anchorwoman who fled Japan during Fukushima crisis to get lost salary from NHK: So much for “Flyjin” myth.

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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If you like what you read and discuss on Debito.org, please consider helping us stop hackers and defray maintenance costs with a little donation via my webhoster:
Donate towards my web hosting bill!
All donations go towards website costs only. Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog.  Here’s something else that happened a few weeks ago that warrants mention on Debito.org, if only to show that NJ do sometimes get the justice they seek in Japanese courts (it only took nearly three years).  And given the text of the court decision itself, so much for the accusations made about NJ “Flyjin” deserting their posts.  Rubbish then, verifiably so now.  It was all just bullying, and in this case lying about the record by NHK in court (also known as perjury, but this being both Japan and NHK, nothing will come of it).  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Anchorwoman who fled Japan during Fukushima crisis to get lost salary from NHK
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, THE JAPAN TIMES, NOV 16, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/11/16/national/anchorwoman-fled-japan-fukushima-crisis-get-lost-salary-nhk/

The Tokyo District Court on Monday nullified a decision by NHK to end the contract of a French anchorwoman who temporarily fled Japan during the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011.

The ruling also declared that Emmanuelle Bodin’s decision to leave Japan in the face of the nation’s worst-ever nuclear crisis and prioritize her life over work did not represent professional negligence.

“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,” the ruling said.

Although lauding those who remained at work with the public broadcaster following the disasters, the court said NHK “cannot contractually obligate people to show such excessive allegiance” to the company.

Bodin’s attorneys said it is not clear how the ruling will affect similar cases, if any, that involve non-Japanese often labeled as “flyjin,” a play on the word gaijin (foreigner), who missed work because they fled the disaster.

“My pursuit of justice has finally been vindicated,” Bodin, 58, told a news conference in Tokyo.

“Today, we are reminded once again that it is the responsibility of a company, regardless of how powerful an organization it is, to take good care of its employees and treat them with fairness and compassion,” she said in Japanese.

The court ordered NHK to pay her ¥5.14 million in unpaid salary that she would have received had she been allowed to renew her contract for the following fiscal year.

Bodin, who worked as an anchor and translator for NHK radio programs for more than 20 years, fled Japan in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima crisis in accordance with an instruction issued by the French government to evacuate the country.

Prior to departing on March 15, 2011, Bodin asked her colleague, a veteran French anchorman in his 70s, to substitute for her while she was away to ensure her absence would cause no major trouble for the company.

She then called a superior in her radio news section notifying the person that she was temporarily leaving the country but would return by the end of the month and that she had arranged for her colleague to cover her shifts. The manager responded by giving approval, according to the ruling.

A week after that, NHK sent Bodin a letter notifying her that her contract would shortly be discontinued, providing no detailed explanations as to why.

The terse letter only reminded her of abstract provisions of her contract that stipulate employees can be sacked if “the circumstances demanded so” or if their work performance is deemed “so inadequate it has no sign of improvement.”

Over the course of the nearly three-year-long trial, NHK squarely contradicted Bodin’s claim, even going so far as to say that she did not call her French colleague in the first place, according to her lawyers. It also said Bodin’s call with her superior lasted just 20 to 30 seconds, and that in it she had “unilaterally” conveyed her intention to skip her anchoring duty scheduled for hours later and promptly hung up. The French colleague also testified in favor of NHK, claiming that he had received no such call from her.

However, her phone records, presented to the court by her lawyers, clearly showed she had spoken both to the colleague and her superior for more than five and two minutes, respectively, Bodin’s lawyers said.
ENDS

Paul Toland Case Update: Japan as a “black hole” for parental child abductions — Family Court lawsuit & press conference to raise awareness of issue

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
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
https://www.facebook.com/embeddedrcsmJapan
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If you like what you read and discuss on Debito.org, please consider helping us stop hackers and defray maintenance costs with a little donation via my webhoster:
Donate towards my web hosting bill!
All donations go towards website costs only. Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog. One longstanding case that Debito.org has been following, among others, has been the Paul Toland Case, where his Japanese wife abducted their child aged 9 months, then committed suicide four years later, whereupon the grandmother claimed custody and cut off access with the child’s only remaining parent. More details below.

Godspeed to a satisfactory resolution, Paul. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Custody case a test for Japan, says U.S. father seeking access to girl held by grandmother
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, STAFF WRITER
The Japan Times, OCT 26, 2015

A U.S. man seeking access to his daughter said Monday that the case is an opportunity for Japan to prove to the world it no longer tolerates parental child abduction.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Paul Toland is suing the mother of his Japanese ex-wife for denying access to his 13-year-old daughter.

His former wife left with the child in 2003, at the age of 9 months, after their marriage failed. The woman committed suicide four years later.

Toland said his situation would amount to a “felony crime” in other countries with up-to-date family laws.

“In Japan, this abduction by a nonparent is not only accepted, but it is condoned. I’m the only parent in the world to (my daughter),” Toland said, who is in Japan for the first time since the trial at the Tokyo Family Court kicked off in July.

Toland said if the case is resolved it would demonstrate to the world that Japan is turning over a new leaf after years of notoriety as a “safe haven” for parental child abduction. If his daughter is not returned to him, he said, it will only alienate the nation further.

Japan joined The Hague Convention on cross-border parental child kidnapping in 2014. The pact does not apply in Toland’s case because the abduction was within Japan — Toland’s family was based in Yokohama at the time. In addition to this, the convention cannot be applied retroactively.

“How can we expect Japan to ever resolve more complicated divorce, child custody issues if it cannot even resolve this very straightforward case, which does not involve divorce and where one parent is deceased and the nonparent is withholding a child above the parent who wants to care for her?” he said.

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/10/26/national/crime-legal/custody-case-test-japan-says-u-s-father-seeking-access-girl-held-grandmother/

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U.S. father calls for return of his daughter at Japan family court
By May Masangkay
TOKYO, Oct. 26, Kyodo News, courtesy of TK
https://english.kyodonews.jp/photos/2015/10/381123.html

The American father of a 13-year-old daughter urged at a Japanese family court on Monday to give him back custody of his daughter, who is now under the custody of her grandmother following the death of his former Japanese wife in 2007.

“If Japan rules as it should in favor of my daughter’s right to know and love her father, then it will truly be a threshold step for Japan, and Japan will be closer to joining the rest of the international community as a nation that respects the basic fundamental bond between a parent and a child,” Capt. Paul Toland of the U.S. Navy told a press conference in Tokyo.

Ruling against his claim will “truly alienate Japan from rest of the international community” and “show that Japan is simply out of touch with the rest of the world in their lack of understanding for basic fundamental parent rights,” said the 48-year-old father based in Hawaii.

Toland is in Japan to appear for the first time in the Tokyo Family Court to appeal his case, which is not a cross-border dispute, in not seeing his daughter for years.

He urged the Japanese court to make the right decision to return the child to him since he is the sole living parent since his wife died. Toland has since remarried and wants to take his daughter to Hawaii.

At the family court, the mother of his former wife has disputed Toland’s appeal. The father lodged a lawsuit with the court in July.

Toland’s lawyer Akira Ueno, who was present at the same press conference, said his client received in writing from the grandmother’s side that the daughter “does not want to see” her father.

Ueno said the grandmother’s side claims that things are fine the way it is now, as the girl goes to school and is engaged in club activities, an argument which the lawyer says is not acceptable.

As his case is not a cross-border dispute, Toland cannot seek the return of his daughter under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which took effect in Japan in April last year. The treaty is designed to help settle cross-border child custody disputes due to failed marriages.

The pact is also not retroactive, only dealing with cases occurring after its entry into force.

With Japan joining the pact and many Japanese politicians becoming vocal about changing Japan’s response to parental child abductions, Toland said he sees “some hope for change in Japan.” Before Tokyo acceded to the treaty, the country had been accused of being a “safe haven” for international child abductions.

His daughter was 9 months old when his wife left him in 2003 before proceedings for a divorce concluded and custody was given to the wife.

Toland has been asking to see and live with his daughter, but his request for access or visitation through government channels, in line with the Hague pact, has been rejected by the grandmother’s side. Since 2003, he has seen his daughter only several times.

Even in cases occurring before the Hague treaty took effect in a country concerned, parents can seek assistance for visitations under the pact.
ENDS
////////////////////////////////////////////////

「日本はブラックホールのような国」米国男性が裁判で「連れ去られた娘を返せ」と主張
弁護士ドットコム 10月26日(月)20時31分配信, courtesy of CS
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20151026-00003861-bengocom-soci

「日本はブラックホールのような国」米国男性が裁判で「連れ去られた娘を返せ」と主張
記者会見したポール・トーランドさん(中央)と代理人の弁護士たち
米海軍大佐でハワイ在住のポール・トーランドさんが、日本人女性との間に生まれた娘(13)の引き渡しを求めて、娘の後見人となっている母方の祖母を訴えた裁判が、東京地裁で進行している。裁判に出席したトーランドさんらが10月26日、東京の司法記者クラブで会見し、「娘は、唯一の親である私と一緒に暮らすべきだ」と訴えた。

トーランドさんによると、米国に在住していた1995年、日本人の女性と結婚。二人は1999年に来日し、2002年に娘が誕生したが、しだいに夫婦関係がうまくいかなくなり、2003年7月に母親が生後9カ月の娘を連れて、横浜の家を出ていってしまったという。

母親とは2006年に離婚が成立。離婚協議で、娘の監護をするのは母親と決まった。しかし、その母親が2007年10月に自殺してしまったという。トーランドさんは娘を引き取ろうとしたが、娘と一緒に住んでいた祖母に拒まれた、と主張している。

離ればなれになって以降、トーランドさんはたった2回しか娘と会えていない。なお、2008年8月からは、祖母が娘の未成年後見人をつとめているが、後見申立をすることなどについて、トーランドさんは事前に全く知らされていなかったのだという。

●「ハッピーバースデーと言う機会も奪われた」

トーランドさんは会見で、「私はこの世でたった一人の親なのに、娘が健康なのか、安全に暮らしているのかも、全く知らされていない。どこの学校に通学しているのかも知らないし、写真の一枚ももらえない。一緒に公園で散歩をしたこともないし、『ハッピーバースデー』と言う機会も奪われた」と、12年間もの間、娘と会えずにいる悔しさを口にした。

そして、「片方の親が勝手に子どもを連れ去ることは、先進国なら普通は誘拐となり、許されない重罪となるはずだ」と主張。子どもの連れ去りをめぐる日本のルールや運用が、国際的に見るとおかしいものだと訴えた。

トーランドさんは現在、26年間勤めている海軍でのキャリアの集大成として、ハワイ・ホノルルにある4LDKの一軒家で、国土安全保障省勤務の妻(2010年に再婚)と暮らしている。ホノルルには、日本語・英語の両方に対応し、日本の学校を卒業したのと同じ資格が得られる学校もあり、日米ハーフの娘が住むのには最適な環境だ、としている。

●娘はトーランドさんとの面会を拒否

裁判について、トーランドさんは「日本は一度子どもが吸い込まれると、二度と出てこられない『ブラックホール』のような国だ。最近は(子どもの連れ去りを違法とする)ハーグ条約への加入など、希望も出てきている。今回の裁判は、裁判所が正しい判断を下す絶好の機会だ」と話していた。ただし、今回のケースは国境を超えていないため、ハーグ条約の適用外だ。

なお、娘は、父であるトーランドさんとの面会を拒んでいるという。しかし、トーランドさんの代理人である上野晃弁護士は「別れたとき生後9カ月だった13歳の娘が、実の父親に会うことを拒否することのほうが、むしろ不自然だ。子どもは本来、親と暮らすべき存在だ。裁判所は、最終的に娘が父親のもとで暮らせるようにするための第一歩として、まずいち早く父娘の面会交流を実現させるべきだ」と話していた。

弁護士ドットコムニュース編集部
ENDS

Asahi: Supreme Court backs stripping children of Japanese nationality if parents lapse in registering their births abroad

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Hi Blog.  I just found this in my “drafts” folder, and I apologize for not getting to it sooner.

Debito.org has mentioned before how creative judicial interpretations of Japan’s Nationality Law Article 12

(which states, in toto: “A Japanese national who was born in a foreign country and has acquired a foreign nationality by birth shall lose Japanese nationality retroactively as from the time of birth, unless the Japanese national clearly indicates his or her volition to reserve Japanese nationality according to the provisions of the Family Registration Law (Law No.224 of 1947))

are a) systematically stripping children born to mixed-nationality couples of their Japanese citizenship simply for bureaucratic expedience (for if both parents were Japanese nationals, Article 12 did not apply); and b) effectively absolving Japanese men from taking responsibility for sowing their wild oats abroad (item 8).

Now according to the ruling reported to below, it looks like Article 12 now does apply even if both parents are Japanese nationals — you have three whole months to get registered, otherwise you clearly aren’t a real Japanese.  Except that in the case cited, the exclusionism is again being enforced on mudblood kids simply because their parents slipped up with proper procedure.

It remains unclear if a Japanese mother who gives birth overseas (and would hitherto automatically retain Japanese nationality for her child) and does not register her child would void the Japanese citizenship, but the intent of the interpretation below is basically to prevent dual nationality, not honor jus sanguinis ties under the law.  So this looks to be an affirmation and expansion of the 2012 Tokyo District Court case, a reversal of the 2008 Supreme Court case, moreover expanded to both parents regardless of nationality.

This is what can happen if you dare give birth outside of the motherland and legally acquire a suspicious second passport.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Top court backs repeal of Japanese nationality due to parents’ lapse abroad
Asahi Shinbun March 11, 2015 By TAKAAKI NISHIYAMA/ Staff Writer
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201503110080

The Supreme Court confirmed that authorities can revoke the Japanese nationality of children born outside Japan whose parents fail to submit the proper paperwork within three months of their babies’ births.

The top court’s ruling on March 10 said Article 12 of the Nationality Law, which defines the procedures to maintain Japanese nationality, does not violate the Constitution.

As a result of the ruling, 15 female and male children born in the Philippines to Japanese fathers married to Filipino mothers have lost their Japanese nationality. They had argued that the article was irrational and discriminatory against Japanese born abroad.

The Nationality Law stipulates that if either parent of a baby born outside Japan is a Japanese national, the child will automatically acquire Japanese nationality and can also obtain the nationality of the country of birth.

But the parents must submit a notification to a Japanese administrative institution within three months of the baby’s birth to maintain the Japanese nationality, according to Article 12 of the law.

In the top court’s first ruling on the constitutionality of the provision, Takehiko Otani, presiding justice of the court’s Third Petty Bench, said, “The legislative purpose (of Article 12) designed to avoid dual nationality is rational and constitutional.”

According to the plaintiffs, their Japanese nationality was revoked because their parents did not know about the provision and failed to submit the documents to Japanese authorities within the designated three-month period.

The Supreme Court said Article 12 is “not irrational nor discriminatory against people born overseas” because it gives the parents three months to submit the notification.

The top court also noted another provision in the law, which allows such children to obtain Japanese nationality before they reach 20 years old if they notify authorities that have a permanent address in Japan.

ENDS

Mainichi: Unequal treatment for foreign and/or foreign-residing A-bomb victims? Supreme Court decision due Sept. 8

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Hi Blog. Continuing with historical reflection on the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII-Pacific and the dropping of the atomic bombs, let me turn the keyboard over to Debito.org Reader JK for an interesting insight, this time quite germane to the aims of Debito.org.  Let’s see what ruling gets handed down next month.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

August 11, 2015
JK: Hi Debito. Here’s something you may not have considered — unequal treatment for foreign and/or foreign-residing A-bomb victims.  From the article below:

“But separate from the law, the government sets an upper limit on financial medical aid to foreign atomic bomb sufferers.”

And this:

“Similar lawsuits were filed with district courts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the two courts rejected the demands from A-bomb sufferers living outside Japan.”

Finally:

“I want them (Japanese authorities) to treat us the same way as they do to A-bomb sufferers in Japan no matter where we live.”

There’s obviously plenty of fodder here for a blog entry on debito.org, but putting that aside for the moment, there’s something subtle I noticed when reading the article, specifically, this:

2014年6月の大阪高裁判決は、援護法について「国の責任で被爆者の救済を 図る国家補償の性格がある。国外での医療費を支給対象から除外するこ とは合 理的ではない」などと認定。

In its June 2014 ruling, the Osaka High Court said that the Atomic Bomb Survivors’ Support Law “has an attribute of state reparations in which the state is required to take responsibility to give aid to A-bomb survivors. It is not reasonable to exclude medical expenses incurred abroad from the list of medical costs to be covered by the state.”

Did you catch it?

It’s this: reasonableness / unreasonableness as the basis for legal opinion (i.e. unreasonable exclusion of foreign medical expenses).

Does this ring a bell for you? I sure hope so!

If not, you may recall the legal opinion of a one Mr. Keiichi Sakamoto with regard to unreasonable discrimination

Now, I am no lawyer, but the problem I see with using the notion of reasonableness / unreasonableness in this way is that it leaves the door open to abuse (e.g. there may be a scenario where excluding medical expenses incurred abroad by foreign A-bomb victims is, in the opinion of the court, reasonable, or discrimination by an onsen refusing to admit NJ *is* reasonable, etc.)

At any rate, here are the references. Regards, JK

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

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150811p2a00m0na005000c.html
Supreme Court likely to rule in favor of Korean A-bomb sufferers over medical costs
The Mainichi Shinbun, August 11, 2015

The Supreme Court has decided to rule Sept. 8 on a lower court decision revoking the 2011 Osaka Prefectural Government’s decision not to cover the medical costs of South Korean survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bombing who received medical treatment in South Korea.

The Third Petty Bench of the Supreme Court is likely to uphold the Osaka High Court’s decision on the case as it has not held any hearings necessary to review the high court’s ruling that Japanese authorities must cover all medical expenses for A-bomb sufferers residing abroad.

The plaintiffs are a Korean who returned to South Korea after surviving the Hiroshima atomic bombing and relatives of two other now-deceased Korean A-bomb sufferers. Although the South Korean A-bomb survivors had received an Atomic Bomb Survivor’s Handbook, the Osaka Prefectural Government turned down their applications for provision of medical expenses incurred in South Korea. The plaintiffs have demanded that the Osaka Prefectural Government scrap its decision to refuse to pay them the medical costs, among other requests.

In its June 2014 ruling, the Osaka High Court said that the Atomic Bomb Survivors’ Support Law “has an attribute of state reparations in which the state is required to take responsibility to give aid to A-bomb survivors. It is not reasonable to exclude medical expenses incurred abroad from the list of medical costs to be covered by the state.” The Osaka High Court upheld the October 2013 Osaka District Court’s decision that called for payment of all medical costs and turned down an appeal from the Osaka Prefectural Government.

The state has been covering all medical expenses for A-bomb sufferers residing in Japan under the Atomic Bomb Survivors’ Support Law. But separate from the law, the government sets an upper limit on financial medical aid to foreign atomic bomb sufferers. Such being the case, A-bomb sufferers living abroad have argued that the government’s support for them is not enough.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, there were about 4,300 A-bomb sufferers living abroad who had an Atomic Bomb Survivor’s Handbook as of the end of March 2015. Similar lawsuits were filed with district courts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the two courts rejected the demands from A-bomb sufferers living outside Japan.

The South Korean plaintiffs are likely to win the lawsuit being fought in Osaka over whether the provision for medical expense coverage stipulated in the Atomic Bomb Survivors’ Support Law applies to A-bomb sufferers living abroad. Supporters for A-bomb sufferers abroad said A-bomb victims and their bereaved families overseas had felt relieved after hearing the news. But because the district courts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki handed down opposite rulings over similar lawsuits, supporters for foreign A-bomb victims are calling for quickly removing the disparity in medical support between the victims in Japan and those abroad considering the years passed since the atomic bombings.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in Osaka are Lee Hong-hyon, a 69-year-old South Korean man, and relatives of two other South Korean A-bomb sufferers who already passed away. They filed applications with the Osaka Prefectural Government to receive medical expenses incurred in South Korea. But the prefectural government turned down their applications, saying that medical expenses incurred overseas cannot be covered. Therefore, the South Koreans decided to file the lawsuit.

Junko Ichiba, 59-year-old chair of the Association of Citizens for the Support of South Korean Atomic Bomb Victims, conveyed the latest development to the South Korean plaintiffs on the evening of Aug. 10. Ichiba quoted Lee Hong-hyon as saying, “I want them (Japanese authorities) to treat us the same way as they do to A-bomb sufferers in Japan no matter where we live.”

People concerned with the lawsuits in Hiroshima and Nagasaki expressed hope that the Osaka case would have a positive effect on the cases in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Keizaburo Toyonaga, a 79-year-old A-bomb sufferer who heads the Hiroshima branch of the “Citizens’ Association for Helping Korean A-bomb Survivors,” said, “I am very pleased. The Atomic Bomb Survivors’ Support Law should be revised as soon as possible.” Nobuto Hirano, co-representative of a Nagasaki-based liaison support group for A-bomb victims overseas, said, “It is good news. The state should revise the system promptly.” The group provides support to plaintiffs in the Nagasaki case.
ENDS

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

在外被爆者医療費:「全額支給」確定へ9月8日最高裁判決
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20150811k0000m040074000c.html

被爆者援護法の医療費支給規定が海外に住む被爆者に適用されるかが争われた訴訟の上告審で、最高裁第3小法廷(岡部喜代子裁判長)は判決期日を9月8日に指定した。高裁の判断を見直す際に必要な弁論を開いておらず、在外被爆者の医療費の全額支給を認めた大阪高裁判決が確定する見通しとなった。

原告は、広島で被爆し韓国に帰国した被爆者や死亡した被爆者の遺族ら。被爆者健康手帳の交付を受けたが、韓国での医療費の支給申請を大阪府に却下され、処分の取り消しなどを求めていた。

2014年6月の大阪高裁判決は、援護法について「国の責任で被爆者の救済を図る国家補償の性格がある。国外での医療費を支給対象から除外することは合理的ではない」などと認定。医療費の全額支給を認めた1審・大阪地裁判決(13年10月)を支持し、府側の控訴を棄却していた。

国は援護法に基づいて、国内の被爆者に医療費を全額支給している。しかし在外被爆者については援護法とは別枠で上限を設けて医療費を助成し、在外被爆者らは「不十分だ」と訴えていた。

厚生労働省によると被爆者健康手帳を持つ在外被爆者は3月末現在で約4300人。広島、長崎両地裁でも同種の訴訟が起こされていたが、在外被爆者側の請求を棄却(いずれも控訴)しており、司法判断が分かれていた。【山本将克】

mainichi081015

ENDS

==========================================
— UPDATE: GOOD NEWS. DEBITO

Supreme Court rules hibakusha overseas are entitled to full medical expenses
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI STAFF WRITER
THE JAPAN TIMES, SEP 8, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/09/08/national/crime-legal/supreme-court-rules-hibakusha-overseas-entitled-full-medical-expenses/

Kyodo: Summary Court overturns fine levied on Filipino-Japanese man after Osaka police botch assault probe — that punished him for defending himself against drunk Japanese assailants!

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Hi Blog. Check this article out, followed by a comment by Debito.org Reader and submitter JDG:

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

NATIONAL / CRIME & LEGAL
Filipino-Japanese exempt from fine after Osaka police botch assault probe
KYODO NEWS/JAPAN TIMES APR 24, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/04/24/national/crime-legal/filipino-japanese-exempt-from-fine-after-osaka-police-botch-assault-probe/

OSAKA – The police investigation into a street brawl in Osaka in 2013 that resulted in a fine for a Filipino-Japanese man was superficial and should never have caused charges to be filed, a court in Osaka has ruled.

In a rare ruling, the Osaka Summary Court decided to exempt the 23-year-old defendant from punishment despite finding him guilty of assault, after hearing that the police failed to provide him with a Tagalog interpreter. The man can only speak limited Japanese.

According to the ruling, two drunken men began a quarrel with the defendant on a street in Osaka in June 2013. When one of them grabbed his collar, the Philippine-Japanese man punched him in the face, causing a broken bone.

Neither of the drunks was indicted. But the court initially ordered the Filipino-Japanese man to pay a ¥300,000 ($2,500) fine in January 2014. The defendant filed a complaint and sought a formal trial, leading to a ruling that effectively canceled the fine on Feb. 26.

The ruling was finalized on March 13 after the appeal period expired.

“This is de facto innocence,” said Masanori Matsuoka, the defendant’s lawyer. “It’s an excellent ruling that criticized the investigation of a man who cannot speak Japanese sufficiently.”

Judge Akinori Hatayama said it is unfair to punish only the Filipino-Japanese man, given that the drunken man was not indicted for assault.

The judge criticized the prosecutors for charging the defendant without properly considering the case and based purely on the degree of physical injury that resulted from the scuffle.
ENDS

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

JDG: Well, this is an interesting case. Now, if we take the poor reporting to mean that ‘Filipino-Japanese’ = naturalized Japanese citizen of NJ descent, this story is quite telling.

Naturalized Japanese citizen is stopped in Osaka by two drunk Japanese guys, who grab his shirt collars whilst shouting at him. The naturalized Japanese punches one in the face in self-defense and is arrested, charged, goes to court, and is fined.

The Japanese assailants, since they are ‘victims’ of their own victims self-defense, are not apprehended, and win compensation from their victim!

Thankfully, this was over-turned at a [summary] court. But the fact that it played out like this clearly shows the intense institutional racism of the Japanese police and legal system. In effect, if you are Japanese, you can commit assault (by western standards) on NJ (well, anyone who was not born Japanese), and the legal system recognize you as the victim if you are injured whilst attempting assault!

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

Quite.  And, I might add, if he hadn’t taken it outside the criminal justice system (I assume) into Summary Court, he would have never gotten this ruling on the record either.

Clearly somebody had to go down for this incident in the cops’ eyes.  And since they saw what they considered to be a NJ involved (naturalized or not), they charged and convicted him.  Wrongly so, as this court ruling demonstrates — nearly two years later!  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Nobel Prize winner Dr. Shuji “Slave” Nakamura urges Japan’s youth to “get out of Japan”

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Hi Blog. A discussion about the following article has already started here, so I thought it prudent to promote it to its own blog entry for proper discussion. First the article, then my comment.  (N.B.: people who commented before who wish to repost their commment here, go ahead.)

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

Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”
RocketNews, January 23, 2015
Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”
Courtesy of lots of people

In 2014, Dr. Shuji Nakamura, along with two other scientists, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work in creating bright blue LEDs. In 1993, Nakamura held only a master’s degree and worked with just one lab assistant for a small manufacturer in rural Japan, yet he was able to find a solution that had eluded some the highest paid, best-educated researchers in the world.

If his story ended there, he would no doubt be the poster boy for Japanese innovation and never-say-die spirit, but in the years since his discovery, he has instigated a landmark patent case, emigrated to the US, given up his Japanese citizenship and become a vocal critic of his native country. Last week, the prickly professor gave his first Japanese press conference since picking up his Nobel and he had some very succinct advice for young Japanese: Leave.

Although Nakamura praised the Japanese culture of cooperation, hard work and honesty, he called out the education system for focusing too much on the limited goals of exams and getting into big companies. He pointed out that it is failing to give young people the English skills they need to function on a global level.

“Zero incentive”

“In the world, Japanese people [have] the worst English performance,” he said. “Only they are concerned about Japanese life. That’s a problem.”

He also said that lack of exposure to foreign cultures breeds a parochial ethnocentrism and makes young Japanese susceptible to “mind control” by the government.

Nakamura slammed Japan for failing to ensure that inventors are fairly compensated for their work, something that stifles innovation and provides “zero incentive” for employees to be creative.

Article 35 of the patent law says that patent rights belong to the inventor, but in practice, companies dictate the terms of compensation to their employees. In fact, Nakamura’s former company paid him the equivalent of just US$180 for his Nobel-winning invention. Nakamura sued in 2001 and a Tokyo court determined that his patent had generated about US$1 billion in revenue. Nakamura settled with the company for US$8 million.

“The most important thing is to go abroad and…see Japan from outside the country.”

Since the litigation, many companies have switched from giving employees a flat fee for patent rights to a percentage of royalties, but the Japan Business Federation has also begun lobbying the government to clarify the law and place patent rights squarely with companies. Prime Minister Abe has hinted that he would like to do so.

“If the Japanese government changes the patent law, it means basically there would no compensation [for inventors]. In that case, I recommend that Japanese employees go abroad,” said Nakamura.

In general, Nakamura encouraged young Japanese to leave, whether to get a better education, to expand their world view or to be better compensated for their work. Despite his criticisms, he is not advocating a wholesale abandonment of Japan either. Rather, a more internationalized population could be the key to meaningful reforms.

“The most important thing is to go abroad and they can see Japan from outside the country. And they understand, …oh, now I can understand bad thing of Japan. That’s the most important thing, no? Japanese people have to wake up about Japanese bad things, you know. I think that’s very important.”

ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT:  Wow.  “Slave” Nakamura not only refused to settle for the pittance regularly doled out to inventors in Japan that transform innovation and profit for Japan’s corporate behemoths (yes, he sued — millions of people do in Japan every year — and he won!), but also he wouldn’t settle for life in Japan as it is.  He emigrated and now publicly extols the virtues of not being stifled by Japan’s insularity (and governmental mind control!?).  Pretty brave and bracing stuff.  Bravo.

It isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened within Japan’s intelligentsia.  How many readers remember the “Tonegawa Shock” of 1987?

When the 1987 Nobel Prize was given to [Susumu] Tonegawa, who had moved to the US so he could be inspired and free to carry on his research, Japanese academics took notice and some were humiliated. Tonegawa had asserted that if he had remained in Japan, he would have had to spend years courting favor with mentors and dealing with disinterested colleagues, lagging unchallenged and unmotivated, certainly never to attain Nobel laureate. The press labeled the phenomenon as “Tonegawa Shock” which described the actions of similar Japanese scientists, such as Leo Esaki, a 1973 laureate in physics, who left Japan to work at IBM in the US. [Source]

The Tonegawa Shock set off a chain of events that led to the despotic Ministry of Education deciding to “enliven” (kasseika) Japan’s education system by doing away with tenure.  Sounds great to people who don’t understand why tenure exists in an education system, but what happened is that the MOE first downsized everyone that they could who was not on tenure — the NJ educators on perpetual contract eemployment (ninkisei) — in what was called the “Great Gaijin Massacre” of 1992-1994 where most NJ teachers working in Japan’s prestigious National and Public Universities over the age of 35 were fired by bureaucratic fiat.  It was the first activism that I took up back in 1993, and the underlying “Academic Apartheid” of Japan’s higher education system exposed by this policy putsch became the bedrock issue for Debito.org when it was established in 1996.

With this in mind, I wonder what reverberations will result from Dr. Nakamura encouraging an exodus?  Hopefully not something that will further damage the NJ communities in Japan.  But if there is more NJ scapegoating in the offing, you’ll probably hear about it on Debito.org.  That’s what we’re here for.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

A TOP TEN FOR 2014
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
JUST BE CAUSE Column 83 for the Japan Times Community Page
Published January 1, 2015 (version with links to sources)

Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/01/01/issues/hate-muzzle-poll-top-10-issues-2014/

 | 

Hate, muzzle and poll: a top 10 of issues for 2014

BY DEBITO ARUDOU, The Japan Times, January 1, 2015

As is tradition for JBC, it’s time to recap the top 10 human rights news events affecting non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan last year. In ascending order:

10) Warmonger Ishihara loses seat

This newspaper has talked about Shintaro Ishihara’s unsubtle bigotry (particularly towards Japan’s NJ residents) numerous times (e.g. “If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on,” JBC, Nov. 6, 2012). All the while, we gritted our teeth as he won re-election repeatedly to the National Diet and the Tokyo governorship.

However, in a move that can only be put down to hubris, Ishihara resigned his gubernatorial bully pulpit in 2012 to shepherd a lunatic-right fringe party into the Diet. But in December he was voted out, drawing the curtain on nearly five decades of political theater.

About time. He admitted last month that he wanted “to fight a war with China and win” by attempting to buy three of the disputed Senkaku islets (and entangling the previous left-leaning government in the imbroglio). Fortunately the conflict hasn’t come to blows, but Ishihara has done more than anyone over the past 15 years to embolden Japan’s xenophobic right (by fashioning foreigner-bashing into viable political capital) and undo Japan’s postwar liberalism and pacifism.

Good riddance. May we never see your like again. Unfortunately, I doubt that.

9) Mori bashes Japan’s athletes

Japan apparently underperformed at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics (no wonder, given the unnecessary pressure Japanese society puts on its athletes) and somebody just had to grumble about it — only this time in a racialized way.

Chair of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics committee Yoshiro Mori (himself remembered for his abysmal performance as prime minister from 2000 to 2001) criticized the performance of Japanese figure skaters Chris and Cathy Reed: “They live in America. Because they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team.” This was factually wrong to begin with, since through their Japanese mother, the Reeds have always had Japanese citizenship. But the insinuation that they weren’t good enough because they weren’t Japanese enough is dreadfully unsportsmanlike, and contravenes the Olympic charter on racism.

Mori incurred significant international criticism for this, but there were no retractions or resignations. And it isn’t the first time the stigmatization of foreignness has surfaced in Mori’s milieu. Since 2005 he has headed the Japan Rugby Football Union, which after the 2011 Rugby World Cup criticized the underperforming Japan team for having “too many foreign-born players” (including naturalized Japanese citizens). The 2012 roster was then purged of most “foreigners.” Yet despite these shenanigans, Japan will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup right before the Tokyo Olympics.

8) ‘Points system’ visa revamp

In a delicious example of JBC SITYS (“see, I told you so”), Japan’s meritocratic Points-based Preferential Treatment for Highly Skilled Foreigners visa failed miserably in 2013, with only 700 people having even applied for the available 2,000 slots six months into the program.

JBC said its requirements were far too strict when it was first announced, predicting it would fail (see last year’s top 10, and “Japan’s revolving door immigration policy hard-wired to fail,” JBC, March 6, 2012). Policymakers arrogantly presumed that NJ are beating down the door to work in Japan under any circumstances (not likely, after Japan’s two economic “lost decades”), and gave few “points” to those who learned Japanese or attended Japanese universities. Fact is, they never really wanted people who “knew” Japan all that well.

But by now even those who do cursory research know greater opportunities lie elsewhere: Japan is a land of deflation and real falling wages, with little protection against discrimination, and real structural impediments to settling permanently and prospering in Japanese society.

So did the government learn from this policy failure? Yes, some points requirements were revamped, but the most significant change was cosmetic: The online info site contains an illustration depicting potential applicants as predominantly white Westerners. So much for the meritocracy: The melanin-rich need not apply.

Good luck with the reboot, but Japan is becoming an even harder sell due to the higher-ranking issues on our countdown.

7) Ruling in Suraj death case

This is the third time the case of Ghanaian national Abubakar Awadu Suraj has made this top 10, because it demonstrates how NJ can be brutally killed in police custody without anyone taking responsibility.

After Suraj was asphyxiated while physically restrained during deportation in 2010, for years his kin unsuccessfully sought criminal prosecutions. Last March, however, the Tokyo District Court ruled that immigration officials were responsible for using “illegal” excessive force, and ordered the government to pay ¥5 million to Suraj’s widow and mother.

The case is currently being appealed to the Tokyo High Court. But the lesson remains that in Japan, due to insufficient oversight over Immigration Bureau officials (as reported in United Nations and Amnesty International reports; four NJ have died in Immigration custody since October 2013), an overstayed visa can become a capital offense.

6) Muslims compensated for leak

In another landmark move by the Tokyo District Court, last January the National Police Agency was ordered to compensate several Muslim residents and their Japanese families, whom they had spied upon as suspected terrorists. Although this is good news (clearly noncitizens are entitled to the same right to privacy as citizens), the act of spying in itself was not penalized, but rather the police’s inability to manage their intelligence properly, letting the information leak to the public.

Also not ruled upon was the illegality of the investigation itself, and the latent discrimination behind it. Instead, the court called the spying unavoidable considering the need to prevent international terrorism — thus giving carte blanche to the police to engage in racial profiling.

5) ‘Japanese only’ saga

If this were my own personal top 10, this would top the list, as it marks a major shift in Japan’s narrative on racial discrimination (the subject of my Ph.D. last year). As described elsewhere (“J.League and media must show red card to racism,” JBC, March 12, 2014), the Japanese government and media seem to have an allergy when it comes to calling discrimination due to physical appearance “discrimination by race” (jinshu sabetsu), depicting it instead as discrimination by nationality, ethnicity, “descent,” etc. Racism happens in other countries, not here, the narrative goes, because Japan is so homogeneous that it has no race issues.

But when Urawa Reds soccer fans last March put up a “Japanese only” banner at an entrance to the stands at its stadium, the debate turned out differently. Despite some initial media prevarication about whether or not this banner was “racist,” J.League chair Mitsuru Murai quickly called it out as racial discrimination and took punitive action against both the fans and the team.

More importantly, Murai said that victims’ perception of the banner was more important than the perpetrators’ intent behind it. This opened the doors for debate about jinshu sabetsu more effectively than the entire decade of proceedings in the “Japanese only” Otaru onsen case that I was involved in (where behavior was ruled as “racial discrimination” by the judiciary as far back as 2002). All of this means that well into the 21st century, Japan finally has a precedent of domestic discourse on racism that cannot be ignored.

4) Signs Japan may enforce Hague

Last year’s top 10 noted that Japan would join an international pact that says international children abducted by a family member from their habitual country of residence after divorce should be repatriated. However, JBC doubted it would be properly enforced, in light of a propagandist Foreign Ministry pamphlet arguing that signing the Hague Convention was Japan’s means to force foreigners to send more Japanese children home (“Biased pamphlet bodes ill for left-behind parents,” JBC, Oct. 8). Furthermore, with divorces between Japanese citizens commonly resulting in one parent losing all access to the children, what hope would foreigners have?

Fortunately, last year there were some positive steps, with some children abducted to Japan being returned overseas. Government-sponsored mediation resulted in a voluntary return, and a court ruling ordered a repatriation (the case is on appeal).

However, the Hague treaty requires involuntary court-ordered returns, and while Japan has received children under its new signatory status, it has not as yet sent any back. Further, filing for return and/or access in Japan under the Hague is arduous, with processes not required in other signatory countries.

Nevertheless, this is a step in the right direction, and JBC hopes that respect for habitual residence continues even after international media attention on Japan has waned.

3) Ruling on welfare confuses

Last July another court case mentioned in previous top 10s concluded, with an 82-year-old Zainichi Chinese who has spent her whole life in Japan being denied social-welfare benefits for low-income residents (seikatsu hogo). The Supreme Court overturned a Fukuoka High Court ruling that NJ had “quasi-rights” to assistance, saying that only nationals had a “guaranteed right” (kenri).

People were confused. Although the media portrayed this as a denial of welfare to NJ, labor union activist Louis Carlet called it a reaffirmation of the status quo — meaning there was no NJ ineligibility, just no automatic eligibility. Also, several bureaucratic agencies stated that NJ would qualify for assistance as before.

It didn’t matter. Japan’s xenophobic right soon capitalized on this phraseology, with Ishihara’s Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations) in August announcing policies “based on the ruling” that explicitly denied welfare to NJ. In December, in another act of outright meanness, Jisedai made NJ welfare issues one of their party platforms. One of their advertisements featured an animated pig, representing the allegedly “taboo topic” of NJ (somehow) receiving “eight times the benefits of Japanese citizens,” being grotesquely sliced in half.

You read that right. But it makes sense when you consider how normalized hate speech has become in Japan.

2) The rise and rise of hate speech

Last year’s list noted how Japan’s hate speech had turned murderous, with some even advocating the killing of Koreans in Japan. In 2014, Japanese rightists celebrated Hitler’s 125th birthday in Tokyo by parading swastika banners next to the Rising Sun flag. Media reported hate speech protests spreading to smaller cities around Japan, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered little more than lukewarm condemnations of what is essentially his xenophobic power base. Even opportunistic foreigners joined the chorus, with Henry Scott Stokes and Tony “Texas Daddy” Marano (neither of whom can read the Japanese articles written under their name) topping up their retirement bank accounts with revisionist writings.

That said, last year also saw rising counterprotests. Ordinary people began showing up at hate rallies waving “No to racism” banners and shouting the haters down. The United Nations issued very strong condemnations and called for a law against hate speech. Even Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto confronted Makoto Sakurai, the then-leader of hate group Zaitokukai (which, despite Japan’s top cop feigning ignorance of the group, was added to a National Police Agency watch list as a threat to law and order last year).

Unfortunately, most protesters have taken the tack of crying “Don’t shame us Japanese” rather than the more empowering “NJ are our neighbors who have equal rights with us.” Sadly, the possibility of equality ever becoming a reality looked even further away as 2014 drew to a close:

1) Abe re-election and secrets law

With his third electoral victory in December, Abe got a renewed mandate to carry out his policies. These are ostensibly to revitalize the economy, but more importantly to enforce patriotism, revive Japan’s mysticism, sanitize Japan’s history and undo its peace Constitution to allow for remilitarization (“Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.,” JBC, Nov. 6, 2013).

Most sinister of all his policies is the state secrets law, which took effect last month, with harsh criminal penalties in place for anyone “leaking” any of 460,000 potential state secrets. Given that the process for deciding what’s a secret is itself secret, this law will further intimidate a self-censoring Japanese media into double-guessing itself into even deeper silence.

These misgivings have been covered extensively elsewhere. But particularly germane for JBC is how, according to Kyodo (Dec. 8), the Abe Cabinet has warned government offices that Japanese who have studied or worked abroad are a higher leak risk. That means the government can now justifiably purge all “foreign” intellectual or social influences from the upper echelons of power.

How will this state-sponsored xenophobia, which now views anything “foreign” as a security threat, affect Japan’s policymakers, especially when so many Japanese bureaucrats and politicians (even Abe himself) have studied abroad? Dunno. But the state secrets law will certainly undermine Japan’s decades of “internationalization,” globalization and participation in the world community — in ways never seen in postwar Japan.


Bubbling under:

a) Jisedai no To’s xenophobic platform fails to inspire, and the party loses most of its seats in December’s election.

b) Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Japan’s biggest drugmaker, appoints Christophe Weber as president despite the Takeda family’s xenophobic objections.

c) Media pressure forces Konsho Gakuen cooking college to (officially) repeal its “Japanese only” admissions process (despite it being in place since 1976, and Saitama Prefecture knowing about it since 2012).

d) All Nippon Airways (ANA) uses racist “big-nosed white guy” advertisement to promote “Japan’s new image” as Haneda airport vies to be a hub for Asian traffic (“Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad,” JBC, Jan. 24, 2014).

e) Despite NJ being listed on resident registries (jūmin kihon daichō) since 2012, media reports continue to avoid counting NJ as part of Japan’s official population.

ENDS

Quoted in BBC Brasil (original Portuguese & machine E translation): “Japan receives criticism from the UN after wave of xenophobia in the streets”

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Hi Blog. Got quoted (and some of Debito.org’s “Japanese Only” signs posted) in BBC Brasil today (thanks Ewerthon for the link). I’ll paste the article below with the Google machine translation in English afterwards. Corrections welcome.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Japão recebe críticas da ONU após onda de xenofobia nas ruas
Ewerthon Tobace
De Tóquio para a BBC Brasil
Courtesy http://www.bbc.co.uk/portuguese/noticias/2014/09/140908_discriminacao_etnica_japao_et_rm.shtml

Atualizado em 10 de setembro, 2014 – 07:44 (Brasília) 10:44 GMT
Placa contra estrangeiros no Japão / Crédito: Arquivo Pessoal

“Estrangeiros só poderão entrar se estiverem acompanhados de um japonês”, diz a placa
Uma recente onda de casos de xenofobia tem causado grande preocupação no Japão e levou a ONU a pedir que o governo do primeiro-ministro Shinzo Abe tomasse medidas concretas para lidar com o problema.

As principais vítimas nesse incidentes têm sido comunidades estrangeiras como a de coreanos e chineses, além de outras minorias chamadas de “inimigas do Japão”.

Um exemplo dos abusos é um vídeo que se tornou viral e circula pelas redes sociais. Mostra um grupo de homens da extrema-direita com megafones em frente a uma escola sul-coreana em Osaka.

Eles insultam os alunos e professores com palavrões, fazem piadas com a cultura do país vizinho e ameaçam de morte os que se atreverem a sair do prédio.

Um relatório do Comitê de Direitos Humanos da ONU encaminhado ao governo japonês, destaca a reação passiva dos policiais em manifestações deste tipo.

As autoridades têm sido criticadas por apenas observarem, sem tomarem nenhuma atitude efetiva para conter os abusos.

No final de agosto, o Comitê das Nações Unidas para a Eliminação da Discriminação Racial solicitou que o país “abordasse com firmeza as manifestações de ódio e racismo, bem como a incitação à violência racial e ódio durante manifestações públicas”.

Desde 2013, o Japão registrou mais de 360 casos de manifestações e discursos racistas.
A questão ganhou os holofotes da mídia e está sendo amplamente debatida pelo partido governista, o Liberal Democrático.

Um caso que está sendo visto como teste para a Justiça japonesa nesta área é a ação movida, no mês passado, por uma jornalista sul-coreana, Lee Sinhae, contra Makoto Sakurai, presidente do grupo de extrema-direita Zaitokukai, por danos morais.

Ela quer uma indenização depois de ser “humilhada” por textos discriminatórios na internet.
“O que me preocupa é que muitos destes discursos estão deixando o anonimato da internet e já chegaram às ruas”, disse Lee em uma coletiva de imprensa.

A jornalista alertou que várias crianças estão tendo contato com este tipo de pensamento e replicam no ambiente escolar, gerando casos de bullying.

Lei
No Japão, não há uma lei que proíba discursos difamatórios ou ofensivos. Para os opositores, banir os discursos de ódio pode acabar interferindo no direito das pessoas à liberdade de expressão.

Mas o país é signatário da Convenção Internacional sobre a Eliminação de Todas as Formas de Discriminação Racial, que entrou em vigor em 1969, e que reconhece expressões discriminatórias como crime.

Pela Convenção, os países seriam obrigados a rejeitar todas as formas de propaganda destinadas a justificar ou promover o ódio racial e a discriminação e tomar ações legais contra eles.

Segundo as Nações Unidas, o governo japonês ainda tem muito para fazer nesta área. O comitê da ONU insistiu para que o Japão implemente urgentemente “medidas adequadas para rever a sua legislação”, em particular o seu código penal, para regular o discurso de ódio.

Exclusão dos estrangeiros
Para o escritor, ativista e pesquisador norte-americano naturalizado japonês Arudou Debito, “(essas atitudes discriminatórias) têm se tornado cada vez mais evidentes, organizadas e consideradas ‘normais'”.

Debito coleciona, desde 1999, fotos de placas de lojas, bares, restaurantes, karaokês, muitas delas enviadas por leitores de todo o Japão, com frases em inglês – e até em português – proibindo a entrada de estrangeiros.

A coletânea virou livro, intitulado Somente japoneses: o caso das termas de Otaru e discriminação racial no Japão.
Debito se diz ainda preocupado que, com a divulgação cada vez maior dos pensamentos da extrema-direita, a causa ganhe cada vez mais “fãs”.

“No Japão ainda há a crença de que é pouco provável haver o extremismo em uma ‘sociedade tão pacífica'”, explicou.

“Eu não acredito que seja tão simples assim. Ignorar os problemas de ódio, intolerância e exclusivismo para com as minorias esperando que eles simplesmente desapareçam é um pensamento positivo demais e historicamente perigoso.”

Placa: “Somente japoneses” / Crédito: Arquivo Pessoal

Aviso em um hotel de águas termais alerta que estrangeiros não podem entrar 

Brasileiros

A comunidade brasileira no Japão também é alvo constante de atitudes discriminatórias. Quarto maior grupo entre os estrangeiros que vivem no país, os brasileiros estão constantemente reclamando de abusos gerados por discriminação racial e o tema é sempre levantado em discussões com autoridades locais.

O brasileiro Ricardo Yasunori Miyata, 37, é um dos que foi à Justiça depois que o irmão foi confundido com um ladrão em um supermercado de uma grande rede, na cidade de Hamamatsu, província de Shizuoka.

“O problema foi a abordagem. O segurança chegou gritando, como se ele fosse bandido e, mesmo depois de provado que tudo não passou de um engano, ele (o segurança) justificou que faz parte da índole do brasileiro roubar e que não poderíamos reclamar pois deveríamos estar acostumado com este tipo de coisa”, contou o rapaz, ainda indignado.

O caso aconteceu há quatro anos, mas até hoje Ricardo divulga a história para que outros não passem pelo mesmo constrangimento pelo qual ele e a família passaram.

“Acionamos a polícia, fizemos a reclamação na matriz da rede, procuramos um advogado e, por semanas, os gerentes do supermercado tentaram nos convencer a não entrar com processo”, lembra.

Depois de três meses, foi feito um acordo. “A rede trocou a empresa que faz a segurança local, pagou todas as despesas com advogados e exigimos ainda que os gerentes pedissem desculpas em público”, contou Ricardo.

Há 20 anos morando no Japão, o brasileiro lembra que antigamente a situação era bem pior. “Quando entrava brasileiro em supermercados, por exemplo, geralmente tocavam uma música brasileira. Era um sinal para avisar os funcionários de que havia estrangeiro na loja”, contou.

Ricardo já foi barrado em bares e também sofreu todo tipo agressão verbal. “Esse tipo de discriminação existe, é visível e constante. Enquanto as autoridades e a própria mídia não tomarem uma posição, esses abusos vão continuar acontecendo”, destacou.

ENDS.  MACHINE TRANSLATION FOLLOWS:
=====================================================

Japan receives criticism from the UN after wave of xenophobia in the streets
By Ewerthon Tobace
Tokyo for the BBC Brazil
Updated on September 10, 2014 – 07:44 (GMT) 10:44 GMT
Courtesy https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=pt&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fportuguese%2Fnoticias%2F2014%2F09%2F140908_discriminacao_etnica_japao_et_rm.shtml&edit-text=

Plate against foreigners in Japan / Credit: Personal Archive
“Foreigners may only enter if accompanied by a Japanese,” says board

A recent spate of incidents of xenophobia has caused great concern in Japan and led the UN to ask the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to take concrete measures to deal with the problem.

The main victims in this incident have been foreign communities such as Korean and Chinese, and other minorities called “enemy of Japan.”

An example of abuse is a video that went viral and circulates through social networks. Shows a group of men on the extreme right with megaphones in front of a South Korean school in Osaka.

They insult the students and teachers with profanity, make jokes with the culture of the neighboring country and threaten death to those who dare leave the building.

A report of the UN Human Rights Committee referred to the Japanese government, highlights the passive reaction of the police in demonstrations of this kind.

The authorities have been criticized for only observe, without taking any effective action to curb abuses.

In late August, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination requested that the country “firmly approached the manifestations of hatred and racism and incitement to racial hatred and violence during public demonstrations.”

Since 2013, Japan has registered more than 360 cases of racist demonstrations and speeches.

The issue has gained the media spotlight and is being widely debated by the ruling party, the Liberal Democratic.

A case that is being seen as a test for the Japanese Justice in this area is the lawsuit filed last month by a South Korean journalist, Lee Sinhae against Makoto Sakurai, chairman of the far-right Zaitokukai for moral damage.

She wants compensation after being “humiliated” by discriminatory texts on the Internet.
“What worries me is that many of these speeches are leaving the anonymity of the internet and has already reached the streets,” Lee said in a press conference.

The journalist warned that several children are having contact with this type of thinking and replicate in the school environment, generating instances of bullying.

Law

In Japan, there is no law prohibiting defamatory or offensive speeches. To opponents, banning hate speech they can interfere in people’s right to freedom of expression.

But the country is a signatory of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which entered into force in 1969, and recognizes that discriminatory expressions as crime.

By the Convention, countries would be forced to reject all forms of propaganda designed to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination and to take legal actions against them.

According to the United Nations, the Japanese government still has much to do in this area. The UN committee insisted that Japan urgently implement “appropriate measures to review its legislation,” particularly its criminal code to regulate hate speech.

Exclusion of foreigners

For the writer, activist and American-born researcher naturalized Japanese Arudou Debito, “(such discriminatory attitudes) have become increasingly overt, organized, and normalized.”

Debito collects, since 1999, pictures of signs of shops, bars, restaurants, karaoke bars, many of them sent in by readers from all over Japan, with English phrases – and even in Portuguese – prohibiting the entry of foreigners.

The collection became a book entitled Japanese Only: The Otaru case of spa and racial discrimination in Japan. [NB:  Not quite right, but my clarification was ignored by editors.]

Debito is said still worried that with the increasing dissemination of the thoughts of the extreme right, the cause get more and more “fans”.

“Japan still has the belief that extremism is less likely to happen in its ‘peaceful society'”,” he explained.

“I do not think it’s that simple. Ignoring the problems of hatred, intolerance and exclusivism towards minorities hoping they simply disappear too is a positive and historically dangerous thought.”

Board: “Japanese Only” / Credit: Personal Archive
Notice in a hotel hot springs warning that foreigners can not enter

Brazilians

The Brazilian community in Japan is also a constant target of discriminatory attitudes. Fourth largest group among the foreigners living in the country, Brazilians are constantly complaining of abuses generated by racial discrimination and the issue is always raised in discussions with local authorities.

The Brazilian Ricardo Yasunori Miyata, 37, is one of those who went to court after brother was mistaken for a thief in a supermarket of a large network in the city of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture.

“The problem was the approach.’s Security came screaming, like he was crook and even after proven that it was all a mistake, he (the security guard) explained that part of the character of the Brazilian steal and we could not complain because we should be accustomed to this kind of thing, “said the boy, still indignant.

The case happened four years ago, but until today Ricardo discloses the story so that others do not go through the same embarrassment in which he and his family went through.

“Switch-police, made the claim in the network matrix, seek a lawyer, and for weeks, supermarket managers tried to convince us not to enter the process,” he recalls.

After three months, an agreement was made. “The network changed the company that makes local security, paid all the expenses of attorneys and even demand that managers asked apology in public,” said Ricardo.

20 years living in Japan, Brazil recalls that once the situation was much worse. “When I came in Brazilian supermarkets, for example, one usually played Brazilian music. Was a sign to warn employees that the store was abroad,” he said.

Ricardo has been barred in all bars and also suffered verbal aggression type. “This kind of discrimination exists, is visible and constant. Whilst the authorities and the media itself has not taken a position, these abuses will continue happening,” he said.

ENDS

Colin Jones on NJ rights after the Supreme Court welfare verdict of July 2014: None but what MOJ bureaucrats grant you

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Hello Blog. In what is for me the best JT article of the year (and well worth bumping my JBC column to next week), Colin Jones lifts the lid off Japanese constitutional and legal history and shows definitively the evolution of rights for non-citizens (or lack thereof). Occasioned by the recent Japan Supreme Court verdict which states that NJ are not guaranteed social welfare, the article’s upshot is this:

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Think you’ve got rights as a foreigner in Japan? Well, it’s complicated
The Japan Times, August 6, 2014, BY COLIN P.A. JONES

Excerpt: This newspaper’s well-intentioned July 27 editorial declaring that the social safety net should be for all taxpayers is perfectly understandable — particularly given that the petitioner was an elderly Chinese who was born and spent her whole life here. Unfortunately, it is a mistake to equate feeding the maw of whatever tax-fueled Leviathan nation state you happen to live in with being entitled to anything from it in return. This is particularly true in Japan, where by law it is generally more important that one of your parents be Japanese than where you were born, raised or paid taxes. After all, being a dutiful taxpayer alone won’t get your visa renewed or keep you from getting kicked out of the country; why should it get you a welfare payment either?

Thus, if you live here on a foreign passport, you might want to snuggle up in a comfy chair and read through the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, since for most purposes, that is your constitution. Having its roots in an Occupation-era decree modeled after U.S. immigration laws then in effect (missing some important features, as will be discussed later), the ICRRA did not become a “law” until 1982, when it was amended in connection with Japan’s accession to the U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. I say it is your constitution because in 1978, the Supreme Court acknowledged that most constitutional protections did extend to foreigners, but only within the framework of the immigration laws and regulations, including the broad administrative discretion granted by these to Ministry of Justice officials.

So, you can pay your taxes, participate in that anti-nuclear demonstration and maybe even have a run-in or two with the cops, but at the end of the day your ability to live in Japan may ultimately be at the discretion of a bureaucrat’s view of some of the very subjective standards set forth in the immigration laws and regulations, such as whether you have been “good” or “engaged in the activities related to your residence status.” In my experience bureaucrats are generally nice, and most of the time it is probably more work for them to kick you out than to let you stay, particularly if you have a Japanese spouse and/or children. But it is probably safer to assume that you do not have any right to be in Japan; that being the case, assumptions about rights to welfare or just about anything else would seem equally suspect.

It is worth bearing in mind that Japan’s Korean population was divested of its Japanese nationality by nothing more than a Ministry of Justice interpretation of the 1952 peace treaty — an interpretation that paid little heed to what effect that would have on the people effectively rendered stateless as a result. That was a different era, of course, but if push comes to shove in any dispute with the government, it is probably safe to expect that you will lose, and nothing in the Constitution will likely affect that outcome.

This should be obvious to anyone familiar with Japan’s system of immigration detention and deportation, which exists in an parallel dimension where due-process requirements and the constitutional protections against arrest, detention and punishment do not apply, because the deprivations of freedom and deportations are not punitive and the administrative process by which cases are resolved are not “trials.”

An Occupation-era ordinance that would have established a system of oversight through separate quasi-judicial commissions was never put into force, leaving the whole process comfortably within the control of the Ministry of Justice. In any case, by the logic of the Supreme Court decision mentioned above, those who are not in the country in accordance with the ICRRA may not be entitled to constitutional protections anyway.

Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/08/06/issues/think-youve-got-rights-foreigner-japan-well-complicated/
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COMMENT:  Well, this has been but one event in the death of the NJ communities by a thousand cuts (and the source of a number of smug comments by some saying “See, NJ really don’t belong in Japan, and if they want to, they should naturalize.”  As if it’s their fault for not doing so.  And as I’ve said before, that is no panacea; if you are a Visible Minority, you still will not receive equal treatment in Japanese society.)

But what I’d like to have clarified is Colin’s point about whether or not people (particularly non-citizen permanent residents) who pay taxes really have no rights to expect the benefits from The State.  Although Colin’s approach is strictly legalist (naturally), I would conjecture that they do (I have seen first-hand how foreigners are allowed to have much greater senses of entitlement here, for example, in the United States) or at least should.  But the relativists (who insist that Japan is no outlier in this regard; they so want to be right in their own minds that they will even support unequal treatment that affects them adversely) will not take Debito.org seriously even if I start citing laws from overseas.

So let me ask Debito.org Readers to assist me in doing a little research.  Let’s find some law journals and other academic research written by specialists that give comparative rights for non-citizen residents in an international light.  Here are two research questions, with research boundaries incorporated:

  • Are non-citizen residents (particularly permanent residents, as taxpayers) entitled to the same social welfare benefits (e.g., unemployment, child support, and other safety-net measures designed to  rescue citizens from destitution) in other developed countries?  (Let’s say the G8, or widen it out to the OECD if necessary.)  
  • Do guarantees of civil and human rights guaranteed in the national constitutions of developed countries also apply to “all people/residents”, including non-citizens, or are they strictly reserved for citizens, as they apparently are in Japan?

Note that we are not looking for absolute equality (that’s impossible, otherwise there would be no benefit to citizenship).  But simply put:  Do foreign residents receive the same guarantee against various social adversities elsewhere as a legally-enshrined human right, or not?

Please send us some links to some articles in the comments section, with pertinent excerpts/abstracts included.  Let’s spend some time researching this.  I’ll let this blog entry be the anchor site until next week, when my column comes out on how racial discrimination makes whole societies go crazy.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

JT: Japan needs to get tough on hate speech: U.N. experts and columnist Eric Johnston; why I doubt that will happen

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Hello Blog.  In the wake of last week’s shocking decision that NJ of any status have no automatic right to their paid-in social welfare benefits, here’s another push for increased protections for Japan’s minorities that looks unlikely in this current political climate to come to pass, despite both the court rulings and the gaiatsu pressure from overseas:

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NATIONAL / SOCIAL ISSUES
Japan needs to get tough on hate speech: U.N. experts
Japan Times/JIJI JUL 16, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/16/national/social-issues/get-tough-hate-speech-u-n-experts/

Japan came under pressure at a U.N. meeting Tuesday to do more to help stop hate speech that promotes discrimination by race or nationality.

“According to information we received, there have been more than 360 cases of racist demonstrations and speeches in 2013, mainly in Korean neighborhoods in Tokyo,” Yuval Shany from Israel, one of the experts at the U.N. Human Rights Committee, said at the meeting in Geneva.

Shany asked Japan whether it is considering adopting legislation to address hate and racist speech.

Existing laws in Japan do not allow police to intervene to stop hate speech demonstrations, Shany said at the meeting held to review the civil and political rights situation in Japan.

“It seems almost nothing has been done by the government to react to Japanese-only signs which have been posted in a number of places,” Shany said.

Another committee member, Zonke Majodina from South Africa, asked if Japan has “plans to enact a national anti-discrimination law, for direct and indirect discrimination, applying to both public and private sectors, complying with international standards and ensuring equal protection to everyone.”

Elsewhere in the meeting, committee members questioned whether human rights are protected in Japan under the country’s capital punishment system, as well as its system designed to provide equal employment opportunities for men and women.

The review is scheduled to continue into Wednesday when it is expected to cover the issue of “comfort women” who were forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels.

This is the committee’s first review of Japan in six years. The committee is set to announce recommendations for improvement on July 24.

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NATIONAL | VIEW FROM OSAKA
Time for legislation to prevent spread of hate speech
BY ERIC JOHNSTON, JUL 19, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/19/national/time-for-legislation-to-prevent-spread-of-hate-speech/

On July 8, the Osaka High Court ruled that, yes, standing in front of a primary school while kids are in class, shouting through a megaphone that they and their parents are not human, and then vandalizing the school’s property, is legal discrimination.

The decision against the anti-Korean group Zaitokukai for its actions at a pro-North Korean school in Kyoto is welcomed by all civilized people and will likely (unless the notoriously conservative Supreme Court hears the case) end one of the more high-profile hate speech cases seen in Kansai or elsewhere in Japan.

However, the Kyoto incident is just one of many involving what some countries legally define, and ban, as hate speech. Yet Japan, citing freedom of expression, is reluctant to confront the issue.

Given the official silence and unofficial tolerance, it’s hardly surprising that hate speech is on the rise, especially in Kansai:

• In 2011, a Zaitokukai representative visited a Nara museum running a temporary exhibition on Japan’s occupation of Korea. He later showed up in front of the museum and hurled insults at people of “burakumin” (social outcast class) origin, since the museum also has a permanent exhibition on the buraku people. Thankfully, the man was forced to pay ¥1.5 million — not for making derogatory remarks against Koreans or buraku people, per se, but for “defamation of the museum.”

• In a particularly shocking case, a 14-year-old girl in Osaka’s traditional Korean district of Tsuruhashi participated in a February 2013 anti-Korean demonstration by shouting through a megaphone that she wanted to kill all of the Koreans in the area.

When comments by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto about Japan’s prewar “comfort women” system being necessary at the time were added to the mix a few months after the Tsuruhashi incident, Osaka found itself with a reputation both inside and outside of Japan as an intolerant city under mob rule, a place where misogynists, bigots and hate-mongers can say whatever they want without fear of social or legal reprisals.

The good news is that, finally, more and more people in Osaka and the Kansai region are fighting back against the haters.

Counter-demonstrations against Zaitokukai in particular are increasing. At the same time, there is a feeling among many here that, as Osaka and Korea have a deep ties, things will work themselves out.

But that’s the problem. What’s needed now is not “historical perspective,” “understanding” or “respect,” but legislation ensuring protection and punishment. This is precisely because perspective, understanding and respect alone will not stop hate speech — especially that directed at new groups or those who have not traditionally been as ostracized as ethnic minorities.

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/19/national/time-for-legislation-to-prevent-spread-of-hate-speech/

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As Eric noted, there is the muscle (such as it is) of Japan’s judiciary recently supporting something like this:

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NATIONAL / CRIME & LEGAL
Japanese high court upholds ruling against anti-Korean activists’ hate speech
KYODO, JUL 8, 2014

The Osaka High Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that branded as “discriminatory” demonstrations staged near a pro-Pyongyang Korean school by anti-Korean activists who used hate-speech slogans.

A three-judge high court panel turned down an appeal by the Zaitokukai group against the Kyoto District Court decision ordering that it pay about ¥12 million in damages to the school operator, Kyoto Chosen Gakuen.

The order also banned the group from staging demonstrations near the school in Minami Ward, Kyoto.

Presiding Judge Hiroshi Mori said in the high court ruling that Zaitokukai members staged the demonstrations near the school with the intention of spreading anti-Korean sentiment among Japanese people.

Mori said Zaitokukai members’ activities were not intended to serve the public interest and that the group’s actions seriously damaged the school’s provision of ethnic education.

The ruling found that eight Zaitokukai activists staged anti-Korean demonstrations near the school three times between 2009 and 2010, using loudspeakers to denounce those inside.

They yelled slogans, accusing the students of being “children of North Korean agents” and demanding that all ethnic Koreans be kicked out of Japan.

The activists posted footage of their activities on the Internet.

In October 2013, the Kyoto District Court accepted a lawsuit by the school operator, ordering the nationalist group to pay damages and noting that Zaitokukai’s activities run counter to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which came into force in 1969. Japan ratified the convention in 1995.

During the high court hearings, Zaitokukai argued that their members exercised their rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, and argued that the damages were excessive.

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/08/national/crime-legal/japanese-high-court-upholds-ruling-anti-korean-activists-hate-speech/

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For the record, here’s how people deal with it in other countries, such as, oh, the European Parliament and France:

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WORLD / SOCIAL ISSUES
Polish MEP’s racial slur sparks anger
AFP-JIJI JUL 17, 2014

STRASBOURG, FRANCE – A far-right Polish MEP outraged lawmakers gathered in the European Parliament on Wednesday by comparing the continent’s unemployed youth to “niggers” in the U.S. South.

Janusz Korwin-Mikke, the outspoken leader of the royalist and libertarian Congress of the New Right party, delivered the remark during a speech to deputies decrying the existence of minimum wage laws.

Comparing job-seeking youth to black laborers in the American South during the 1960s, Korwin-Mikke said: “Four millions humans lost jobs. Well, it was four million niggers. But now we have 20 millions Europeans who are the Negroes of Europe.

“Yes, they are treated like Negroes!

“We must destroy the minimum wage and we must destroy the power of trade unions,” the 72-year-old added, before being shouted down in the parliament session.

The Socialist coalition immediately called on Korwen-Mikke to apologize or resign over what it called the “worst insult of racist discrimination and humiliation.”

“What Mr. Korwin-Mikke has preached did not only offend those that have a different skin color, but everyone who is inspired by the European values of dignity and equality,” said Italian Socialist Cecile Kyenge, who is of Congolese origin.

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/17/world/social-issues-world/polish-meps-racial-slur-remark-sparks-anger/

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Front National politician sentenced to jail for ape slur
Anne-Sophie Leclere handed nine-month prison term for comparing French justice minister to chimpanzee
Agence France-Presse in Cayenne
The Guardian, Wednesday 16 July 2014 13.20 EDT
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/16/french-national-front-politician-sentenced-to-jail-monkey-slur-christiane-taubira

A former local election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) in France has been sentenced to nine months in prison for comparing the country’s justice minister, who is black, to an ape.

Anne-Sophie Leclere provoked a storm last year when she compared Christiane Taubira to an ape on French television and posted a photomontage on Facebook that showed the justice minister, who is from French Guiana, alongside a baby chimpanzee. The caption under the baby ape said “At 18 months”, and the one below Taubira’s photograph read “Now”.

Leclere was an FN candidate in Rethel, in the eastern Ardennes region, for the 2014 local elections, but the FN soon dropped her and went on to do well in the March polls.

On Tuesday, a court in Cayenne, French Guiana’s capital, sentenced her to nine months in jail, banned her from standing for election for five years, and imposed a €50,000 (£39,500) fine. French Guiana is an overseas département of France and is inside the European Union. It also handed the FN a €30,000 fine, putting an end to a case brought by French Guiana’s Walwari political party, founded by Taubira.

The court went well beyond the demands of prosecutors, who had asked for a four-month jail sentence and a €5,000 fine.

Leclere, who was not present in the court, said that she would appeal. The FN said it would also appeal, denouncing the sentences as “appalling” and criticising the trial as a “trap”, as the party was unable to find a lawyer in Cayenne to defend it.

In a television appearance last year, Leclere said she would prefer to see Taubira “in a tree swinging from the branches rather than in government”.

“She is wild,” Leclere said, adding: “I have black friends and it doesn’t mean I call them monkeys.”

Leclere has since defended her comments, saying that while clumsy, they were not racist. She said the photo montage was a joke, and added: “The photo was posted on my Facebook page and I took it off a few days later. I was not the creator of this photograph.”

Taubira has been on the receiving end of several racial slurs over the past year. Not long after Leclere’s comments, the far-right weekly newspaper Minute published a cover featuring a picture of Taubira and headlines that read: “Crafty as a monkey” and “Taubira gets her banana back”.

In French, getting your banana back is roughly the equivalent of recovering the spring in your step.

Joel Pied, of Walwari, said Tuesday’s court decision was “historic and beneficial”. He said: “A prominent institution of the republic recognises that the Front National is punishable by law and that it’s a racist party. We hope this decision will mark a milestone.”

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Thanks for the reference to our work, United Nations.  So there is precedent, example, template, and international embarrassment.  Will this result in a law in Japan against hate speech (ken’o hatsugen)?  I say again: not in the foreseeable future, sadly.  As noted on Debito.org many times, we have had all four of these pressures in Japan for decades now (not to mention an international treaty signed in specific), yet we still can’t get a law against racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu) in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

In a stunning decision, Japan’s Supreme Court overturns Fukuoka High Court, rules that NJ Permanent Residents (etc.) not automatically eligible for social welfare benefits

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Hi Blog. There has already been an enormous outpouring of outrage at Friday’s Supreme Court decision in Japan’s NJ communities, so Debito.org will echo those sentiments and provide a forum for them to also be expressed here.

In an event sure to make my year-end top ten most important human rights issues of 2014, Japan’s highest court just overturned the Fukuoka High Court’s 2011 decision, ruling that an octogenarian granny who, despite being born in Japan, living her life here as a Zainichi Special Permanent Resident, and contributing to Japan’s social welfare systems, has no right to the benefits of her contributions because she’s foreign (i.e., not “kokumin”).  More comment after the articles:

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NATIONAL / SOCIAL ISSUES
Foreign residents can’t claim welfare benefits: Supreme Court
Japan Times/KYODO JUL 18, 2014, Courtesy lots of people
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/18/national/social-issues/top-court-rules-non-japanese-residents-ineligible-welfare-benefits/

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that foreigners with permanent residency status are ineligible for welfare benefits, overturning a decision by the Fukuoka High Court that had acknowledged their eligibility under the public assistance law.

The decision by the top court’s Second Petit Bench concerned a lawsuit filed by an 82-year-old Chinese woman with permanent residency who was born and grew up in Japan.

The woman applied for welfare benefits with the Oita municipal office in Oita Prefecture in December 2008 but was denied the benefits on the grounds she had some savings.

The woman then filed a suit demanding that the city’s decision be repealed. She is now receiving the benefits because the municipality accepted her welfare application in October 2011.

While the recipients of welfare benefits are limited to Japanese nationals by law, the government issued a notice in 1954 saying foreigners should be treated in accordance with the public assistance law.

Since the government limited recipients to Japanese nationals and foreigners with permanent residency in 1990, municipalities have exercised their discretion in doling out the benefits.

In October 2010, the Oita District Court rejected the plaintiff’s suit, saying that denying the public assistance law to foreigners was within the discretion of a municipal government.

In November 2011, however, the Fukuoka High Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, saying that foreigners with permanent residency have been protected under the public assistance law.
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最高裁が初判断「外国人は生活保護法の対象外」
NHK 7月18日 17時49分, Courtesy PKU
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20140718/k10013123601000.html

日本に住む外国人が生活に困窮した場合、法的に生活保護の対象になるかどうかが争われた裁判で、最高裁判所は「法律が保護の対象とする『国民』に外国人は含まれない」とする初めての判断を示しました。

生活に困窮した外国人への生活保護費の支給は、永住資格を持つ人や難民認定された人などを対象に、人道上の観点から自治体の裁量で行われています。
これについて、永住資格を持つ大分市の中国国籍の女性が起こした裁判で、外国人が法的にも保護の対象になるかどうかが争いになり、2審の福岡高等裁判所が「法的な保護の対象だ」と判断したため、国が上告していました。
18日の判決で最高裁判所第2小法廷の千葉勝美裁判長は「生活保護法が保護の対象とする『国民』に外国人は含まれない」とする初めての判断を示しました。
そのうえで「法的保護の対象を拡大するような法改正もされておらず、外国人は自治体の裁量による事実上の保護の対象にとどまる」と指摘して、2審の判決を取り消しました。
今回の最高裁判決はあくまで法律の解釈を示したもので、自治体が裁量で行っている外国人への生活保護には直ちに影響を及ぼさないものとみられます。

原告弁護士が判決を批判
判決について、原告の弁護士は会見で「法律の中の『国民』ということばだけを見て、実態に踏み込んでいない形式的な判断だ。外国人に生活保護を受給させるかどうかは行政の自由裁量だと最高裁がお墨付きを与えるもので問題だ」と批判しました。
さらに「外国人は日本で生活してはいけないと言っているのと同じで、安倍内閣は成長戦略の一環として外国人の受け入れを拡大するとしながら、一方でセーフティネットは認めないというのなら日本にこようとする外国人はいないだろう。なんらかの形で外国人の受給について法律の改正をしなければならない」と指摘しました。

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COMMENT:  The implications of this are pretty obvious:  NJ can be taxed and exploited at will, but if there’s ever a question of the local government not thinking that NJ deserve social welfare benefits, too bad, because they’re not guaranteed.  We’ll just take your money and deprive you of any guarantee that you’ll ever any equal benefit from it.

I’ve written about this case numerous times before.  Excerpts:

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Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits

Kyodo: A Japanese court repealed on Thursday a decision by Oita Prefecture in southwestern Japan not to examine a request from a 78-year-old Chinese woman to look into a decision by Oita City that rejected her application for welfare benefits.

A three-judge panel at the Oita District Court acted on a suit filed by the woman, who has obtained permanent residency status in Japan, against the Oita prefectural government decision that turned away the woman’s request, filed in February last year, to examine the Oita municipal government decision not to provide welfare benefits to her.

The prefectural government dismissed the woman’s request without examining it, saying she was not eligible to seek benefits because she does not have Japanese nationality.

In Thursday’s ruling, the district court said the prefectural government must review the municipal government decision in line with the woman’s request, and decide whether she should be given benefits.

Presiding Judge Kenji Kanamitsu brushed aside the prefectural government’s argument that the city’s decision not to provide her with benefits was a ”unilateral administrative action” against a foreigner who has no right to seek welfare benefits, and not an ”administrative decision” as she claimed, whose appropriateness can be reviewed under the administrative appeal law.

Judge Kanamitsu said the woman is ”obviously” eligible to ask the prefectural government to review the municipal government decision.

”An application for welfare benefits has been rejected, and it means the same to the applicants, regardless of their nationalities,” the judge said…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7563

BUT

17) Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.

After a half-month interlude of light and reason (as in September 30 to October 18), where it actually looked like a Japanese courtroom was actually going to be nice to somebody and rule against The State, another court has come along and put things back to normal:

Mainichi: The Oita District Court ruled on Oct. 18 that foreigners with the right to permanent residence but without Japanese citizenship are not entitled to welfare benefits, rejecting the claims of a 78-year-old Chinese woman who sued after being denied benefits by the Oita city government…

According to the ruling, the woman has Chinese nationality but was born in Japan and holds the right to permanent residence. In December 2008, the woman applied to the welfare office in Oita city for welfare payments, but was turned down with the reason that she had “a comfortable amount of money” in her savings.

The main issues of the trial became whether the woman held the right as a foreigner to receive welfare payments and whether her financial status justified her receiving aid…”

COMMENT: Gee, that was quick by Japanese judicial standards! I guess they know the value of putting the kibosh on something before the floodgates open: Can’t have all the goddamn foreigners expecting to have rights to something like our social welfare benefits, especially at an advanced age.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7639

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Then, as the clock continues to run out for this superannuated NJ, we now have another flip, fortunately in the more inclusive direction:

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Court rules noncitizens are eligible for welfare

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 17, 2011), courtesy of lots of people
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T111116006297.htm

FUKUOKA–The Fukuoka High Court ruled Tuesday that permanent residents in in Japan with foreign nationalities are eligible to receive public welfare assistance, overturning a lower court ruling.

The high court accepted an appeal by a 79-year-old woman who is a permanent resident in Japan with Chinese nationality. She filed the lawsuit, claiming that the Oita city government illegally rejected her request for public welfare assistance.

Presiding Judge Hiroshi Koga said in the ruling, “Foreign citizens with permanent residency [in Japan] are legally guaranteed the same status as Japanese citizens who receive the same treatment.”

The high court overturned the Oita District Court’s ruling and nullified the Oita city government’s decision not to grant the woman public welfare benefits.

According to a lawyer for the plaintiff, it is the nation’s first court ruling to present a legal basis for foreign permanent residents in Japan to receive public welfare benefits.

According to the ruling, the woman applied for the public welfare at the Oita city government in December 2008, but the city government rejected her request.

The point at issue in the lawsuit was whether the Daily Life Protection Law can be applied to noncitizens.

Full blog entry at http://www.debito.org/?p=9658

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And as I wrote in my Japan Times column of January 3, 2012, where I was ranking the Top Ten Human Rights Issues of 2012 for NJ in Japan:

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6.  Oita denial of benefits overturned

News photo

In 2008, Oita Prefecture heartlessly rejected a welfare application from a 78-year-old Chinese (a permanent resident born in Japan) because she is somehow still a foreigner. Then, in a shocking ruling on the case two years later, the Oita District Court decreed that NJ are not automatically eligible for social welfare. Finally, in November, this stubborn NJ, in her 80th year, won a reversal at the Fukuoka High Court — on the grounds that international law and treaty created obligations for “refugees (sic) (to be accorded) treatment at least as favorable as that accorded to their nationals.”

What caused the confusion was that in 1981, the Diet decided that revising the public welfare law to eliminate nationality requirements was unnecessary, since practical application already provided NJ with benefits. Three decades later, Oita Prefecture and its district court still hadn’t gotten the memo.

Bravo for this NJ for staying alive long enough to prize her case away from xenophobic local bureaucrats and set congruent legal precedents for all NJ.

Full article at http://www.debito.org/?p=9837

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And now the pendulum has swung again, with a great big Bronx Cheer for all NJ in Japan.

My final thought on this for now is how the online commenters (who consistently blame NJ for anything bad that happens to them) spin this one against the plaintiff?  It’s a challenge:  She’s an 82-year-old granny Zainichi living her entire life in Japan trying to get her tax benefits back, for heaven’s sake.  Still, the reflexes are kicking in.  We’ve already had one person commenting at the Japan Times about how this ruling was a means to deal with “illegal immigrants” somehow (the JT immediately spotted this as trolling and deleted it; wish they would be more proactive with my columns, as trolls keep derailing any meaningful debate).  Any more gems out there, go ahead and quote them in the Comments section below.  A ruling this egregiously anti-NJ becomes an interesting psychological experiment to see how far the self-hating gaijin will go to deny they have any rights to anything whatsoever in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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UPDATE JULY 25, 2014: THIS VERY BLOG ENTRY GETS CITED IN THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST.  THANKS!

Anger erupts over court denial of welfare to foreign permanent residents of Japan
Japanese Supreme Court rules that a Chinese permanent resident is not entitled to payouts even though she has paid taxes all her life
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST : Monday, 21 July, 2014,
Julian Ryall in Tokyo
http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1557063/anger-erupts-over-court-denial-welfare-foreign-permanent-residents-japan

Activists, analysts and foreign residents of Japan have reacted with dismay to a decision by the Supreme Court that foreigners with permanent residency are not entitled to welfare benefits.

Friday’s ruling by the highest court means that even foreign nationals born in Japan, who have spent all their lives in the country and paid their taxes, national insurance premiums and state pension requirements are still not guaranteed to receive financial support when they need it.

The Supreme Court’s decision overturned an earlier ruling by the Fukuoka high court that granted welfare to an 82-year-old Chinese woman who was born and raised in Japan.

The woman had applied for assistance to the municipal office in Oita prefecture in December 2008, but her request was refused because she had savings. The woman launched a legal case demanding that the decision be reversed on the grounds that she had paid taxes to the national and prefectural governments throughout her life.

In the first ruling of its kind, the Supreme Court stated that, from a legal standpoint, permanent foreign residents do not qualify for public assistance because they are not Japanese.

The ruling apparently gives local authorities across Japan the legal right to halt financial assistance to non-Japanese residents. The fact that many municipalities across the country are facing economic hardship may increase the risk of city governments seeking to exercise that right.

“It’s shameful,” said Eric Fior, a French national who owns a language school in Yokohama and who has lived in Japan for more than a decade.

“It’s bad enough that foreign residents do not have the right to vote at any level in Japan, but when you pay your taxes and contribute to the pension scheme, it’s something of an insult to be told that you have no right to get some of that money back when you need it,” he said.

“I imagine that many foreign residents will be asking themselves why they have to pay their taxes.”

The Oita case has been followed closely by Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese who was born in the United States and has become a leading rights activist after being refused access to a public bath in Hokkaido because he is “foreign”.

“The implications of this are pretty obvious,” Arudou wrote in his most recent blog posting. “Non-Japanese can be taxed and exploited at will, but if there’s ever a question of the local government thinking that nonJapanese deserve social welfare benefits, too bad because they’re not guaranteed,” he wrote.

“We’ll just take your money and deprive you of any guarantee that you’ll ever get any equal benefit from it.”

The post has generated heated comment. One person wrote: “The sheer pettiness and nastiness of the court’s decision just disgusts me.”

Other posters said the decision would have an impact on the government’s campaign to attract skilled foreign nationals to work in Japan in an effort to combat the dramatically shrinking population.

Conservatives have applauded the court’s decision.

“The state cannot provide benefits to all the poor people who come to Japan,” said Yoichi Shimada, a professor of international relations at Fukui Prefectural University.

“The problem in this particular case is that the woman chose not to take Japanese nationality and chose to remain Chinese,” he said. “If Japan allowed all foreign residents unlimited access to welfare, then the country would go bust.”

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Foreigners riled over welfare ruling
ENDS

Reuters Special Report on Japan’s “Trainee System” as “Sweatshops in Disguise”: Foreign interns pay the price for Japan’s labor shortage

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Hi Blog. Making an enormous impact was this Reuters expose that came out a little over a week ago exposing the corruption and exploitation of Japan’s deadly foreign “Trainee” System, in place since 1993.

Debito.org has talked at length about this deadly system many times before, start here. But Reuters collates the issues in a very accessible manner in its article below. A PDF with even more information and graphics, entitled “Sweatshops in Disguise”, is available at http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/14/06/JAPAN-LABOR.pdf (archived just in case on Debito.org at ReutersTraineesJapansSweatshopsinDisguise061214).

Once comment on the Reuters website that resonated with me was, “Japan is in this regard no more than a clean Third-World country.”  This horrible system should have been the shame of Japan and stopped long ago.  Instead, as it approaches its 25th anniversary, it’s gearing up for an expansion under the Abe Administration.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

 

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Special Report: Foreign interns pay the price for Japan’s labor shortage
BY ALEXANDRA HARNEY AND ANTONI SLODKOWSKI
HAKUSAN, Japan/HAIMEN, China, June 12 Thu Jun 12, 2014 
Courtesy: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/06/12/us-japan-labour-special-report-idUKKBN0EN06G20140612

Labor-short Japan expanding foreign trainee program

(Reuters) – Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 was a regular work day at Kameda, a family-owned apparel factory housed in rusting corrugated metal buildings in the western Japanese city of Hakusan. For three Chinese women, it was a day of escape.

At about 6:30 that morning, Ichiro Takahara, a Japanese union organizer, rolled up outside the dormitory where the women lived. Lu Xindi, Qian Juan and Jiang Cheng were waiting – they had been secretly plotting this move for months. Takahara drove them to a convenience store and then to the local labor standards office.

The story behind their flight began three years earlier and more than 900 miles (1,440 km) away in eastern China’s Jiangsu province. There, they signed up with a labor export company to work in Japan’s “foreign technical intern” program, which Tokyo insists is designed to help workers from developing countries learn advanced technical skills.

In a lawsuit filed in a Japanese court, Lu, Qian and Jiang claim that rather than training them, Kameda forced them to work excessive hours at below minimum wage. In 2011, their busiest year, the women were working 16 hours a day, six days a week, with 15 minutes for lunch, according to the lawsuit and work records. For that, they were paid around $4 per hour, according to records reviewed by Reuters.

Other former interns have made similar allegations in dozens of lawsuits filed in Japan. Their case stands out because during the time Lu, Qian and Jiang were working there, Kameda was putting pleats in Burberry BRBY.L clothes.

Japan is a key market for the British luxury brand, generating 12.8 percent of Burberry’s pre-tax profit, or around 55 million pounds ($92.5 million), in the year to March 31, 2013.

The profits came from licensing arrangements, some of which date back decades. Today, Burberry maintains licensing arrangements with four Japanese companies. The largest of these is with apparel manufacturer and retailer Sanyo Shokai, a relationship that began in 1970. Though most of what Burberry produces in Japan is sold there, factories in Japan also supply two stores in Hong Kong that sell the Burberry Blue and Burberry Black lines. Kameda was putting pleats in shirts and skirts sold by Sanyo Shokai under the Burberry Black line.

Burberry declined to allow Reuters to speak to any executives directly about the Kameda case. Through a public relations agency, it issued a statement saying Burberry had asked Sanyo Shokai to terminate its relationship with Kameda in late 2012 because Kameda was not complying with Burberry’s ethical standards.

Among Kameda’s other clients at this time were some of Japan’s largest trading houses: Itochu 8001.T and Mitsui Bussan Inter-Fashion (MIF), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mitsui & Co 8031.T. Mitsui said it was unaware of the lawsuit until Reuters contacted the company for comment; MIF said it would monitor the lawsuit and then decide about the company’s relationship with Kameda. Itochu said it was not aware that Kameda employed foreign technical interns.

Kameda’s website lists department store Isetan 3099.T as a client. A spokesman for the retailer, now known as Mitsukoshi Isetan, said that it has only been buying women’s apparel from Kameda since January.

The most recent government data show there are about 155,000 technical interns in Japan. Nearly 70 percent are from China, where some labor recruiters require payment of bonds worth thousands of dollars to work in Japan. Interns toil in apparel and food factories, on farms and in metal-working shops. In these workplaces, labor abuse is endemic: A 2012 investigation by Japanese labor inspectors found 79 percent of companies that employed interns were violating labor laws. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare said it would use strict measures, including prosecution, toward groups that repeatedly violated the laws or failed to follow its guidance in their treatment of technical interns.

Critics say foreign interns have become an exploited source of cheap labor in a country where, despite having the world’s most rapidly ageing population, discussion of increased immigration is taboo. The U.S. State Department, in its 2013 Trafficking in Persons report, criticized the program’s use of “extortionate contracts”, restrictions on interns’ movements, and the imposition of heavy fees if workers leave.

Japan faces a worsening labor shortage, not only in family-run farms and factories such as Kameda but in construction and service industries. It is a major reason that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is planning a further expansion of the trainee program.

TRAINEES, NOT WORKERS

Lu, Qian and Jiang arrived in Osaka by boat on Nov. 19, 2009. Lu was 30, Qian 28, and Jiang just 19.

The women had signed up to work in Japan with a labor export company in the city of Haimen, not far from Shanghai, called Haimen Corporation for Foreign Economic & Technical Cooperation.

A woman at the company’s office who gave her name as Chen confirmed that the company sent workers to Japan to work in apparel factories. But she declined to discuss the Kameda case, or even confirm that the company had sent Lu, Qian and Jiang to Japan.

The Haimen firm then signed an agreement with Shanghai SFECO International Business Service, a subsidiary of state-owned company China SFECO Group, according to Guan Xiaojun, head of the Japan trainee department. Shanghai SFECO signed a contract with the Ishikawa Apparel Association and sent Lu, Qian and Jiang to Japan.

Guan said Lu, Qian and Jiang probably paid about RMB30,000, or more than $4,800, in “service fees”, as well as a separate fee of RMB4,550 that would be returned to the women after three years as long as they did not violate Japanese law. Asked about the accusations in the lawsuit, Guan said her company had only dispatched the workers. “Labor disputes have nothing to do with us,” she said.

The rules of the program specified that Lu, Qian and Jiang’s first year in Japan was to be devoted to training. Japanese law bars employing foreigners as unskilled laborers. But quietly, the country has been bringing in foreigners since at least the 1980s, originally to train staff of companies with operations overseas. The practice was formalized as the technical intern program in 1993.

The women received 18 days of Japanese language training in Osaka. Then, the Ishikawa Apparel Association put them on a bus for the drive to Kameda, said their lawyer, Shingo Moro.

Kameda specializes in making pleats. It had relied on foreign interns for about a decade because it couldn’t find enough workers in Japan, Yoshihiko Kameda, its president, told Reuters.

The conditions the lawsuit describes are a world apart from the clean, efficient image Japan projects to the world, and a far cry from the quintessentially British reputation on which Burberry trades.

Not long after their arrival, the apparel association took the women’s passports and passed them to Kameda in violation of Japanese law protecting interns’ freedom of movement, according to the lawsuit. An Ishikawa Apparel Association spokeswoman, who declined to give her name, said the group does not conduct inappropriate supervision and training, but declined further comment citing the lawsuit.

At the factory, Lu, Qian and Jiang’s overtime stretched to more than 100 hours a month, the lawsuit says. A timesheet prepared with data supplied by Kameda to the Japanese labor standards bureau shows Lu logged an average of 208 hours a month doing overtime and “homework” during her second year in Japan. That is equivalent to almost 16 hours a day, six days a week. Japanese labor policy considers 80 hours of overtime a month the “death by overwork” threshold.

For this, Lu earned about 400 yen, about $4, an hour at Kameda, the timesheet shows. The local minimum wage at the time was 691 yen an hour, and Japanese law requires a premium of as much as 50 percent of the base wage for overtime.

In addition, during lunch breaks and after work, the women were asked to do “homework”. For this, they were paid by the piece, rather than by the hour.

At night, Lu, Qian and Jiang slept in an old factory building, their lawyer says. To catch rats, Kameda brought in a cat, which brought fleas. Lu and Qian suffered so many flea bites they developed skin conditions, the lawsuit says. Evidence compiled for the lawsuit shows the women’s legs covered in bites.

REHEARSING THE INSPECTION

Like Lu, Qian and Jiang, most interns come through a program supported by the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO), a foundation funded by the Japanese government and member groups. JITCO is also tasked with ensuring its members’ internship programs are properly run.

Kameda’s factory is in Hakusan, an industrial town of about 100,000 people on Japan’s west coast, a center for Japan’s once booming apparel industry. That industry has largely been reduced to family-run factories, such as Kameda’s, which mostly do small orders with quick turnarounds at low margins. Around the Kameda factory are several others that employ foreign trainees from China and Southeast Asia.

In November 2011, Kameda told the interns the plant was going to be inspected by JITCO, according to testimony the women gave Takahara’s activist group. The inspection came after four Chinese interns at a nearby apparel factory – also a member of the Ishikawa Apparel Association – fled to Takahara’s shelter and filed a complaint about labor issues.

Kameda, who lives in a large house with a manicured Japanese garden opposite the factory where he used to house the women, tried to hide their working conditions from JITCO inspectors. Kameda threatened to send them back to China if they didn’t do as they were told, according to their testimony.

The day before the inspector arrived, Kameda gave Lu, Qian and Jiang fake payslips, according to their testimony. Together with an interpreter and a representative from the apparel association, Kameda told them how to respond to questions from the inspector. They rehearsed their answers twice. The next day, when the inspector asked them if they still had their passports, the women knew to say that they did.

JITCO declined to comment on the Kameda case.

Asked about alleged abuses in the program, JITCO said in a statement that it will continue to provide legal protection for interns. JITCO will also help supervising organizations adhere to immigration and labor laws and regulations “by providing all kinds of advice, and through public relations such as seminars and teaching materials”.

In the interview with Reuters, Kameda said the interns approached him about how they should respond to the JITCO inspection several times. He denied coaching or threatening to send them home if they did not answer as instructed. But he acknowledged telling Lu, Qian and Jiang that they might be sent home, as workers at the nearby factory had been.

He also recalled telling the workers their overtime – which he said exceeded 100 hours a month at that time – might be a problem for the JITCO inspector. In fact, JITCO even warned him the interns were working too much overtime, Kameda said. Asked about this inspection, JITCO said it would not comment on individual cases.

Kameda acknowledged keeping some of his workers’ passports, but said it was at their request. He said the women sometimes worked 100 hours of overtime a month and may have put in as many as 173 hours.

Kameda also said he initially paid them less than the legal wage. But he insisted the underpayment was the result of an administrative error. The additional hours and homework, he said, were provided at the women’s behest. Kameda warned the workers that the hours they were working were longer than Japanese labor law allowed, but the workers expressed a “strong desire” to continue working long hours, he told Reuters.

No one from the Ishikawa Apparel Association visited Kameda prior to a JITCO inspection, the apparel group’s spokeswoman said. She said she was not aware of any use of falsified payslips, or of any coaching of Kameda interns. She confirmed that the interns had complained to the association about their housing. The association, she said, asked Kameda to respond to the interns’ concerns.

Lu, Qian and Jiang, who have since returned to China, declined requests for an interview. Interns who have sued their former Japanese employers can face difficulties upon returning home, including intimidation, lawsuits and penalties from the Chinese companies who sent them to Japan – and also pressure from family members ashamed of their problems overseas.

THE UNDOING

The women complained several times to Kameda about their living conditions, labor organizer Takahara says, but nothing changed until they complained to the Ishikawa Apparel Association. After the group passed on this complaint, Kameda moved the women into temporary housing while he cleaned the converted factory where they slept. It was two months before they could move back into the factory, according to Takahara.

Around August 2012, the workers reached out to Takahara’s group. Could he help the workers negotiate a settlement like the one the Chinese interns received at the nearby apparel factory? Through a colleague who spoke Chinese, Takahara told them they would not be able to continue to work after they filed their complaint. He advised the interns to keep working and collect evidence. Over the next few months, Takahara and his colleagues worked out a plan with the Kameda interns.

Takahara, now 62, had been involved in brokering settlements for foreign workers for more than a decade in western Japan. Over the years, Takahara, who also works as a gardener, had worked out a script that he followed several times a year with foreign interns with grievances.

Because workers who complain have been forcibly deported, Takahara and other union representatives encourage interns to fulfill their contracts. They are meticulous in their documentation: keeping time cards, sending faxes from convenience stores so there is a dated record of the communication, alerting local labor inspectors before bringing in interns to report alleged violations to make sure staff are on hand.

The morning of their escape, Takahara drove the women from Kameda to a convenience store. There, they sent a fax to the factory requesting paid holiday until Nov. 19, the day their contract expired. Takahara then took them to the local labor standards office to testify about their experience at the factory. The inspectors were expecting them.

In late 2012, Kameda agreed to pay 1.3 million yen each to Lu, Qian and Jiang. In addition, the labor standards bureau ordered Kameda to pay 260,000 yen collectively to the three women for the “homework” they had been required to do on a piece rate. In the end, the women each received about 1.4 million yen, or nearly $14,000 at current exchange rates, Takahara says.

Kameda told Reuters he paid the full amount the labor standards bureau demanded and did everything asked of him. He blames Takahara’s group for stirring up resentment among the workers. “They were completely happy until they left and sued us,” Kameda said.

Moro, the women’s lawyer, says Kameda only paid what he owed the women for the second and third year of their time at his factory, and the homework settlement was not based on an accurate calculation of the hours the women worked.

On October 9, 2013, Moro filed suit on behalf of the three Chinese interns in a court in Kanazawa, naming Kameda and the Ishikawa Apparel Association as defendants. The suit asks for unpaid wages, expenses and damages for pain and suffering amounting to about 11.2 million yen, or about $109,000.

EXPANDING THE PROGRAM

It wasn’t until late 2012, after Lu, Qian and Jiang had left the factory and their complaints reported in the Mainichi newspaper, that a Burberry executive visited Kameda. Burberry asked Sanyo Shokai to terminate the relationship with Kameda “due to non-compliance and a lack of cooperation in the implementation of Burberry’s ethical standards,” Burberry said in its statement.

Burberry’s code of conduct, which covers licensees such as Sanyo Shokai, prohibits homework and bans the use of bonded labor and the payment of “deposits” to employers. It requires factories to pay at least the national legal minimum wage and provide safe, clean accommodation for workers. Workers should not be required to work more than 48 hours a week or 11 hours a day, the code says. Overtime should be both voluntary and no more than 12 hours a week; it should not be demanded on a regular basis. Burberry also requires all factories to make sure workers keep their “passports, ID cards, bank cards and similar documents to facilitate their unhindered freedom of movement”.

The luxury brand only began auditing Japanese suppliers for ethical compliance in 2009, the year Lu, Qian and Jiang arrived. Burberry’s two auditors started, according to a person familiar with the company’s activities, with the largest factories and those that produced finished goods.

Burberry’s current licensing arrangement with Sanyo Shokai and Mitsui will expire in June 2015. Under the terms of a new license agreement, the Burberry Blue and Black labels will continue as Blue Label and Black Label, dropping the Burberry name. Burberry will continue to audit the supply chain.

Today, about 37 of the approximately 270 factories that supply Burberry branded items to licensees in Japan use foreign interns supported by JITCO. These factories employ around 307 JITCO interns. Burberry now offers training and access to a hotline in Chinese.

“Burberry takes the welfare of workers in all areas of its supply chain extremely seriously,” the company said in a statement to Reuters. “In the case of foreign contract workers in particular, we are very focused on ensuring that they operate in conditions that adhere to the Burberry Ethical Trading Code of Conduct.”

Japan strengthened protection for interns in 2010, putting them under Japanese labor laws for all three years of their internship. But the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, which represents more than 30,000 attorneys, argues the intern program should be scrapped on human rights grounds.

Kameda says his factory no longer employs foreign interns. He thinks Japan should drop the pretense of internships and allow foreigners to work as laborers. “Regardless of the women’s requests, I regret that I didn’t do things properly,” he wrote in an emailed response to questions from Reuters. He intends to counsel partner factories that employ interns “so what Kameda is experiencing won’t happen again.”

(Additional reporting by Kevin Krolicki, James Topham and Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo, and the Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Bill Tarrant)
ENDS

Suraj Case: Tokyo District Court finds “illegal” excessive force, orders GOJ restitution to family of NJ killed during deportation (contrast with UK case)

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Hi Blog. Some moderately good news also came down the pipeline a few days ago, when the Suraj Case of police brutality and death in detention was drawn to a conclusion in Civil Court.  The Tokyo District Court faulted the GOJ with “illegal” excessive force, and doled out restitution of a paltry sum of about USD $50,000 for a man’s life.  Hokay.  For many (unless there is an appeal), that means case closed.

It’s good that somebody was found fault with.  Up until now, Japan’s Immigration Bureau got away with a clear case of cold-blooded murder of a NJ being manhandled by overzealous authorities.  However, this was a decision that took place in CIVIL Court, not Criminal, meaning no criminal penalty has been applied to Suraj’s killers.

Contrast this with a very similar murder case that just came down in the UK:  The Mubenga Case.  Same time line (an excruciatingly slow four years), same class of human being as far as the developed countries see it (a dark African man from Ghana/Angola), and same killing while in official custody.  Except in the UK case, you get arrests, a charge of manslaughter, and killers’ names made public.  In other words, the System in the latter case is less likely to protect individuals for their excesses, which is the much better deterrent for them to do this brutal act again.  Thus we’re more likely to see Surajs happen than Mubengas, since Japan’s criminal prosecutors decided not to pursue Suraj’s case at all.  And so the Suraj Case remains Japan’s shame, and should be a deterrent for future immigrants to come to Japan:  In Japan’s overall criminal system of “hostage justice”, an overstayed visa may become a capital offense.  Arudou, Debito

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Officials faulted in death of Ghanian
Court rules immigration used ‘Illegal’ force on deportee
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, STAFF WRITER
THE JAPAN TIMES, MAR 19, 2014

In a landmark verdict, the Tokyo District Court on Wednesday ruled that immigration officials were responsible for the death of a Ghanaian man they were forcibly deporting in 2010.

Finding that the officials “illegally” used excessive force to subdue Abubakar Awudu Suraj aboard a plane, the court ordered the government to pay about ¥5 million to his Japanese wife and his mother, who lives in Ghana.

The pair had sought more than ¥130 million in damages, arguing that Suraj, who was 45 at the time, suffocated while being subjected to abuse.

It’s the first time a court has ordered immigration officials to pay damages for the death of a foreigner they mistreated.

Caught overstaying his visa in 2006, Suraj was ordered deported. In March 2010, accompanied by a group of immigration officials, he was taken aboard a private jet at Narita airport.

Prior to takeoff, officials bound his arms and legs, stuffed a towel in his mouth and bent him forcibly forward, cutting off his air supply. They said later they were concerned Suraj might put up a violent struggle.

“Their effort to restrain him crossed the line to such an extent it can never be defended as necessary and reasonable,” presiding Judge Hisaki Kobayashi said, slamming their act as “dangerous” and “illegal.”

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/03/19/national/officials-faulted-in-death-of-ghanian/

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

Contrast this with what happened on about the same time line line with an incident in the UK:

Jimmy Mubenga: three G4s guards to be charged with manslaughter
CPS says Stuart Tribelnig, Terry Hughes and Colin Kaler will be charged over 2010 death of Mubenga at Heathrow airport
theguardian.com, Thursday 20 March 2014 08.26 EDT, courtesy of SendaiBen
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/mar/20/jimmy-mubenga-death-three-g4s-guards-charged-manslaughter

Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained by the three guards on board a plane at Heathrow airport in October 2010.
Three G4S guards are being charged with manslaughter following the death of a man as he was being deported from the UK.

Jimmy Mubenga, 46, died after being restrained by the three on board a plane at Heathrow airport in October 2010.

On Thursday the Crown Prosecution Service said the guards, Stuart Tribelnig, 38, Terry Hughes, 53, and Colin Kaler, 51, would be charged with manslaughter.

Malcolm McHaffie, deputy head of CPS special crime, said: “There is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to prosecute Colin Kaler, Terrence Hughes and Stuart Tribelnig.”

Mubenga’s wife, Adrienne Makenda Kambana, said: “My children and I have waited a long time for this decision. We hope the CPS will now move this case forward quickly. We feel like we are another step closer to getting justice for Jimmy.”

The three guards were arrested following Mubenga’s death but in 2012 the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to bring any charges against them.

That decision was reviewed following an inquest into Mubenga’s death last year in which a jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing following an eight-week hearing.

McHaffie said: “We have completed a fresh review of all of the evidence relating to the death of Jimmy Mubenga, including the new evidence arising from the inquest, and decided that three men should be prosecuted for manslaughter.”

The CPS said it had decided not to prosecute G4S for corporate manslaughter.

“We have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute G4S for either offence and, due to the fact that related proceedings are now active, it would be inappropriate to comment further,” it said in a statement.

Mubenga and his wife came to the UK in 1994. His family says that as a student leader in Angola he had fallen foul of the regime and was forced to flee. After a protracted legal battle he was granted exceptional leave to remain and he and Kambana moved to Ilford in Essex, where they set up home with their five children.

In 2006 Mubenga was convicted of actual bodily harm and sentenced to two years in prison following a brawl in a nightclub.

After serving his sentence he was transferred to an immigration detention centre and the process to deport him began.

On Thursday the family’s solicitor, Mark Scott, welcomed the CPS’s decision to prosecute the guards, adding: “It has been a three-and-a-half year struggle for the family to get to this point and they hope to get on with their lives once this final challenge is met.”

The three guards are due to appear at Westminster magistrates court on 7 April.

Solicitors for the three said they would be vigorously denying the charges. A statement on behalf of Hughes, Kaler and Tribelnig said: “My clients are very disappointed with the CPS’s decision, having previously been told after a very lengthy police investigation that no charges would be brought against them. They will be vigorously denying these charges in court.”

Deborah Coles, co-director of the Inquest campaign group, which has supported Mubenga’s family, said the CPS’s decision “reiterates the importance of legal aid for families to be represented at inquests”.

“It is legal aid that ensured a robust examination of all the evidence, which has ultimately resulted in today’s welcome decision. The cuts to legal aid mean that cases like this in the future may well not receive this kind of scrutiny.”
ENDS

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

More press:

Court slams ‘illegal’ restraint in death of Ghanaian deportee, orders compensation

AJW/Asahi Shimbun, March 19, 2014

By TSUYOSHI TAMURA/ Staff Writer

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/AJ201403190089

The Tokyo District Court blasted the “illegal” restraint methods used by immigration officials that led to the death of a Ghanaian national who was being deported four years ago and ordered the central government to pay about 5 million yen ($49,000) in compensation to his family.

Abubakar Awudu Sraj, 45, died on March 22, 2010, aboard an aircraft at Narita Airport.

His 52-year-old Japanese wife sued the central government, demanding 130 million yen in compensation.

On March 19, the Tokyo District Court declared that Sraj’s death was due to suffocation caused by illegal methods of restraint used by immigration security guards and ordered the payment of compensation.

Hiroshi Komai, professor emeritus at the University of Tsukuba specializing in international sociology, said the verdict highlighted the lack of human rights awareness in the Immigration Bureau.

“The Justice Ministry should seriously accept the verdict and make every effort to prevent a recurrence,” Komai said. “The whole world will be watching to see what it does.”

Sraj’s widow felt a sense of vindication.

“I believe that my husband, in exchange for his life, brought to light an issue for Japanese society,” she said.

The Tokyo District Court verdict said immigration officials used restraints on a man who was putting up very little resistance.

“The (act of restraining) was illegal because the possible danger far outweighed the need and appropriateness for such restraint,” Presiding Judge Hisaki Kobayashi said in the verdict.

The restraints used violated internal regulations at the Justice Ministry.

According to a report compiled by the Justice Ministry, Sraj’s hands and ankles were cuffed, and he was gagged with a towel as several security guards carried him onto the aircraft. Those guards then pushed Sraj’s back, forcing him to hunch forward in his seat.

Both of his wrists were further bound to his belt with a plastic band.

The district court accepted that version of events, and said that while Sraj showed indications that he did not want to be deported before he was placed on the plane, once aboard he showed little resistance.

“Breathing restrictions due to the gag and the limitations on movement of the chest and diaphragm caused by being forced into a posture of having his face near his knees led to breathing difficulties that caused death by suffocation,” the verdict said.

The court rejected the central government’s argument that Sraj died due to heart problems, and that the method of restraint had no causal relationship with his death.

At the same time, the district court also recognized that Sraj repeatedly said he did not want to board the plane while he was being taken to it. The court said such remarks led to the judgment that Sraj was partly responsible for having to be forcibly restrained.

For that reason, the court decided that the central government only had to pay half the damages incurred by Sraj’s death.

The Ghanaian first arrived in Japan in 1988 on a short-stay permit. After working in factories, he was arrested in 2006 for immigration law violations.

Following his death, the Chiba prefectural police sent papers to prosecutors for 10 security guards on suspicion of causing death through violent acts by government workers. However, in July 2012, the Chiba district public prosecutors office decided not to indict any of the 10 individuals.

Sraj’s bereaved family members are considering asking the prosecution inquest committee to take up the matter.

An official with the Immigration Bureau at the Justice Ministry said, “We will decide on what steps to take after sufficiently considering the contents of the verdict.”

The verdict comes almost four years to the day of Sraj’s sudden death. His widow still has not come to terms with the senseless way in which he was taken from her.

“My husband was not treated as a human,” she said.

During the trial, lawyers for the central government argued that Sraj put up fierce resistance as he was being deported.

However, the video shown by officials of the Chiba district public prosecutors office to his family showed a calm Sraj walking on his own two feet. Security guards carried him onto the plane.

“The primary goal of the guards was to carry out the deportation, so they likely did not think they were dealing with another human,” Sraj’s widow said.

She first met Sraj in 1988, and they began living together the following year. They married in 2006. The Tokyo District Court rescinded a deportation order for Sraj in 2008 on the grounds the couple was legally married.

However, the Tokyo High Court the following year overturned the lower court ruling on the grounds that because the couple had no children and because the wife worked, there was no pressing need for her to have a husband.

Sraj said at that time that foreigners could not win in Japan.

The restraints used against Sraj were widely criticized. The Ghanaian Embassy filed a protest with the government. The British magazine Economist said Japanese society was avoiding the issue.

In its annual report on the human rights situation in nations around the world, the U.S. State Department called the restraining methods used in Japan cruel and inhumane.

The Justice Ministry regulations said that only handcuffs and rope could be used to bind individuals. While ankle cuffs were not allowed, Sraj was cuffed on both his hands and ankles. The plastic band used on Sraj’s hands was also prohibited and towels were not allowed to be used as gags.

However, when the Immigration Bureau released the results of its investigation into the case in 2012, it said Sraj was a “special case” that permitted the use of such devices.

Despite defending the methods used, the Immigration Bureau subsequently revised its internal regulations. Those now clearly state that ankle cuffs are prohibited. New regulations also call for videotaping as much as possible when deporting individuals to allow for a visual record.

After Sraj’s death, the Immigration Bureau stopped deporting individuals against their will.

However, from July 2013, the bureau began chartering planes for forced deportations of individuals in groups, a major change from the past practice of deporting individuals one at a time on commercial flights.

Human rights groups have criticized the resumption of deportations without consent on the grounds the life and the will of the deportees are being ignored.

ENDS

NHK World: Tokyo Court orders Tokyo Metro Govt to compensate Muslim NJ for breach of privacy after NPA document online leaks

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Hi Blog. In what I consider to be good and very significant news, the Tokyo District Court ruled that NJ who had their privacy violated, due to National Police Agency leaks of personal information, were entitled to compensation.

This is good news because the government rarely loses in court. Considering past lawsuits covered by Debito.org, the police/GOJ can get away with negligence (Otaru Onsens Case), grievous bodily harm (Valentine Case), and even murder (Suraj Case).

But not privacy violations. Interesting set of priorities. But at least sometimes they can protect NJ too.

Note also what is not being ruled problematic. As mentioned below, it’s not an issue of the NPA sending out moles to spy on NJ and collecting private information on them just because they happen to be Muslim (therefore possible terrorists). It’s an issue of the NPA losing CONTROL of that information. In other words, the privacy breach was not what’s being done by The State, but rather what’s being done by letting it go public. That’s also an interesting set of priorities.

But anyway, somebody was forced to take responsibility for it.  Good news for the Muslim community in Japan.  More background from the Debito.org Archives on what the NPA was doing to Japan’s Muslim residents (inadequately covered by the article below), and the scandal it caused in 2000, here, here, and here.  Arudou Debito

UPDATE JAN 17:  I was convinced by a comment to the Japan Times yesterday to remove this entry from the “Good News” category.  I now believe that the court approval of official racial profiling of Muslims has made the bad news outweigh the good.  That comment below the article.  

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

Tokyo ordered to pay police leak compensation
NHK World, January 15, 2014, courtesy of JK
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140115_36.html

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been ordered to pay compensation of more than 90 million yen, or about 860,000 dollars, for breach of privacy resulting from a leak of police documents.

The case involves 114 documents related to international terrorism that were leaked online in 2010. They contained the names, addresses and photos of Japanese people and foreigners who provided information to police investigators.

About 2 months after the documents were leaked, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department acknowledged the documents as their own, and pledged protection and support for those whose identities have been revealed.

But the police were never able to identify who was responsible for leaking the documents, which was done with special software that made the leak untraceable. The statute of limitations on the case expired in October.

On Wednesday, the Tokyo District Court ruled in a lawsuit filed by 17 Muslims who claimed that their privacy had been violated.

Presiding judge Masamitsu Shiseki acknowledged that the police created the documents and called intelligence-gathering by investigators an unavoidable measure to prevent international terrorism.

But the judge said the documents were probably leaked by Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department personnel, and held the Superintendent-General responsible for failing to properly manage their intelligence.

One of the plaintiffs told reporters that he felt a bit relieved that the court acknowledged the responsibility of the police. But he said that what he and others really wanted the court to acknowledge was that the police investigation was discriminatory and illegal. He said he was sorry that the court did not find the investigation illegal.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department says it is regrettable that the court did not accept its claims. It also said it will decide whether to appeal the ruling after studying the content of the decision.

ENDS

COMMENT FROM STEVE JACKMAN AT THE JAPAN TIMES (see full comment here):

So, the Japanese court has legally sanctioned the government to racially profile its Japanese citizens and residents, by giving the Japanese government its official approval and permission to racially profile them based on their religious beliefs. This smacks of the early days of the rise of Nazism, when the Nazis racially profiled Germany’s Jewish population based solely on their religious beliefs.

The Japanese court has ruled that the police can gather information on Japanese citizens and residents, based solely on the reason that they are Muslim. It cited that terrorist attacks had been carried out by Islamic radicals around the world, and the ruling stated that, “There is a sufficient danger that such acts could also occur in Japan”. Never mind, that these muslim citizens and residents have committed no crimes, have nothing to do with terrorism, and that until now Japan has only experienced home grown terrorism, which has nothing to do with its muslim population.

After the court’s verdict, the lawyer for the muslim plaintiffs stated, “The ruling allowed the gathering of information just because an individual happened to be a Muslim”. He further raised concerns about the effects of the court’s ruling in light of the recent enactment in Japan of the state secrets protection law, which defines information related to terrorism as being subject to classification as a state secret. “The gathering of information itself will become a secret and there would be no brakes applied on investigations conducted by those in public security,” he said.[…]

ENDS

Come back Brazilian Nikkei, all is forgiven!, in a policy U-turn after GOJ Repatriation Bribes of 2009

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Hi Blog.  In an apparent policy U-turn, the GOJ decided last week to lift the ban on certain South Americans of Japanese descent (Nikkei) from re-entering Japan.  This after bribing them to leave in 2009 so that they would not become an inconvenient unemployment statistic (not to mention that it was cheaper to pay their airfare than to pay them their social welfare that they had invested in over the decades, or pay them their pensions in future when reaching retirement age).

The reasons for this U-turn are being discussed in a recent Japan Times article, excerpted below.  The article speculates that a couple of embarrassing lawsuits and visa-denials might have tipped the GOJ’s hand (I for one doubt it; Japan’s visa regimes, as can be seen for example in its perennial stance towards refugees, are generally impervious to public exposure and international pressure).  I believe it was more an issue of the GOJ facing reality (as happened more than one year ago at the highest policymaking levels, where even the GOJ still maintained the stance that if immigration was an inevitability, they had better bring back people with Japanese blood; after all, the only ones in attendance were all Wajin and one token Nikkei).

Debito.org has spoken out quite hot-tonguedly about how ludicrous the Nikkei Repatriation Bribe was, not the least because of its inherently racialized paradigms (because they only applied to Nikkei — people who were also in even more dire financial straits due to the economic downturn, such as the Chinese and Muslim factory workers laboring in conditions of indentured servitude, were left to fend for themselves because they lacked the requisite Japanese blood).

So as a matter of course Debito.org cheers for the lifting of the ban.  But the Bribe and the Ban should never have happened in the first place.  So the GOJ can also take its lumps even if they are ultimately making the right decision.

Does this mean that the numbers of registered NJ residents of Japan will start to increase again?  I will say it could happen.  I stress: could, not will happen.  But if it did, that statistic, not any asset bubbles and transient stock-market numbers that people keep championing as the putative fruits of “Abenomics”, will be the real indicator of Japan’s recovery.   That is to say, if Japan ever regains its sheen as an attractive place to work for international labor, then an increase in Japan’s NJ population will cause and signal a true leavening of Japan’s economic clout and prowess.  But I remain skeptical at this juncture — as I’ve said before, the jig is up, and outsiders generally know that Japan has no intention or enforceable laws to treat immigrants as equals, no matter how much of their lives and taxes they invest.

At this time, I believe international migrant labor will continue to vote with their feet and work elsewhere.  So good luck with significant numbers coming to Japan even with this ban lifted.  Arudou Debito

==========================
Referential article:

Ban lifted on ‘nikkei’ who got axed, airfare
But Japanese-Brazilians must have work contract before coming back
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, The Japan Times OCT 15, 2013
EXCERPT:
In what could be a significant change in policy affecting “nikkei” migrant workers from Brazil, the government Tuesday lifted a ban on the return of Japanese-Brazilians who received financial help in 2009 to fly home when they were thrown out of work during the global financial crisis.

Ostensibly an attempt to help the unemployed and cash-strapped Latin American migrants of Japanese ethnic origin escape the economic woes here, the 2009 initiative offered each an average of ¥300,000 to be used as airfare. It eventually resulted in an exodus of around 20,000 people, including 5,805 from Aichi Prefecture and 4,641 from Shizuoka Prefecture.

Although some of the migrants were genuinely thankful for the chance to get out of struggling Japan and find jobs back home, others were insulted because accepting the deal also meant they couldn’t come back to Japan at least “for the next three years” under “the same legal status.” This was seen as an outrageous move by the government to “get rid of” foreign workers as demand for their services fizzled out.

The migrants were initially banned from re-entering Japan for an unspecified period of time, but after a storm of both domestic and international condemnation, the government eventually said it might green-light their return after three years, depending on the economy.

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/15/national/ban-lifted-on-nikkei-who-got-axed-airfare/
ENDS

Kyoto District Court orders anti-Korean Zaitokukai to pay damages in first J court decision recognizing hate speech as an illegal form of racial discrimination

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Hi Blog.  Good news from the Japanese judiciary.  A lower court in Kyoto has finally ruled for the first time that a) hate speech exists in Japan, b) it is an illegal activity, subject to restriction, sanction, and penalty, and c) it is covered under international treaty (since Japan has no law against hate speech) such as the UN CERD.

That is a hat trick in terms of jurisprudence (on par with the Ana Bortz Case and the Otaru Onsens Case, although they were arguably more about issues of business and access to services than abstract concepts like freedom of speech).

Let’s hope a higher court does not overturn this.  But I think the zealous bigots at Zaitokukai are realizing they’ve gone too far and set a spoiler precedent. About time — when their followers advocate murder and massacre of an ethnic minority, I think that’s when even timorous Japanese judges, who are sensitive to media attention, have to draw a line somewhere.  Here’s where it was drawn.  Articles from the Mainichi/Kyodo and Japan Times follow.  Arudou Debito

PS:  And in case you find the title of this blog entry a bit odd:  Yes, there are legal forms of racial discrimination in Japan — the “rational” ones.  It takes a court to decipher which ones are “rational discrimination” (gouriteki sabetsu) and which aren’t.

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

Court orders anti-Korean activists to pay damages over hate speech

Mainichi Shinbun,Courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20131007p2g00m0dm051000c.html

KYOTO (Kyodo) — The Kyoto District Court ordered anti-Korean activists Monday to pay damages for disrupting classes at a Korean school by staging a demonstration during which they directed hate speech at the ethnic Korean community in Japan, banning them from staging further demonstrations.

It is the first court decision in connection with hate speech, which fans discrimination and hatred toward a certain race or minority, lawyers for the school said.
October 07, 2013 (Mainichi Japan)

Revised version:

Anti-Korean activists ordered to pay 12 million yen over hate speech demonstrations
October 07, 2013 (Mainichi Japan) Courtesy of MS
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20131007p2a00m0na016000c.html

KYOTO — The Kyoto District Court on Oct. 7 ordered anti-Korean activists to pay 12.2 million yen in damages for disrupting classes at a Korean school through a demonstration in front of the school in which they used loudspeakers to disseminate hate speech.

The court decision came after the operator of Kyoto Korean Primary School sued the “Zainichitokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai” (Zaitokukai), a citizens group against special rights for Koreans, and its former members, demanding 30 million yen in compensation and a ban on anti-Korean demonstrations within a radius of 200 meters from the school.

Presiding Judge Hitoshi Hashizume concluded that the group’s actions, including promoting its demonstrations on the Internet, aimed to fan discrimination and hatred toward Koreans living in Japan. It is the first court decision that recognized these anti-ethnic Korean demonstrations as a form of racial discrimination banned under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The ruling discussed if freedom of expression secured under the Japanese Constitution could apply to the Zaitokukai’s demonstrations from December 2009 to March 2010, during which group members delivered hate speeches using words such as “Kick Korean schools out of Japan!” and “You guys smell like kimchi” and “These students are children of spies!” through loudspeakers at the school in Kyoto’s Minami Ward.

The ruling is hoped to prevent similar anti-Korean hate speech-fuelled rallies held mainly in Tokyo’s Shin-okubo district and Osaka, and is expected to spark debate on laws and regulations against such movements.

Meanwhile, Zaitokukai’s vice chairman Yasuhiro Yagi said, “We’re disappointed that the legitimacy of our actions were denied. We’ll decide whether or not to appeal after studying the verdict.”

ENDS

Original Japanese story:

朝鮮学校授業妨害:街宣損賠訴訟 在特会街宣に賠償命令 「人種差別で違法」 朝鮮学校周辺、活動禁止−−京都地裁判決
毎日新聞 2013年10月07日 東京夕刊
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20131007dde001040010000c.html

京都朝鮮第一初級学校(京都市)の校門前で行われた学校を中傷する大音量の街頭宣伝などヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)で授業を妨害されたとして、同校を運営する京都朝鮮学園(京都市右京区)が、「在日特権を許さない市民の会(在特会)」と元メンバーら9人を相手取り、3000万円の損害賠償と同校の半径200メートル以内での街宣活動禁止を求めた訴訟の判決が7日、京都地裁であった。橋詰均裁判長は在特会の街宣を「著しく侮蔑的な発言を伴い、人種差別撤廃条約が禁ずる人種差別に該当する」と認定した。

学校事業に損害を与えたとして在特会側に1226万円を支払うよう命じた。学校周辺の街宣活動についても請求通り禁止を命じた。いわゆるヘイトスピーチの違法性を認定したのは全国で初めて。裁判所が、ヘイトスピーチとして問題になっている特定の民族に対する差別街宣について「人種差別」と判断したことで、東京・新大久保や大阪で繰り返される在日コリアンを標的にした差別街宣への抑止効果が予想され、ヘイトスピーチの法規制議論を促すことになるとみられる。

判決は、2009年12月〜10年3月、在特会メンバーらが京都朝鮮第一初級学校(当時。現在は京都朝鮮初級学校=京都市伏見区=に移転)に押しかけ、「朝鮮学校を日本からたたき出せ」「何が子どもじゃ、スパイの子やんけ」などと拡声機で怒号を浴びせた演説について、憲法が保障する「表現の自由」の範囲内かどうかなどについて検討した。

橋詰裁判長は街宣やその映像をインターネットで公開した行為について「在日朝鮮人に対する差別意識を世間に訴える意図のもとに示威活動及び映像公開をしたものと認められ、人種差別に該当」と判断した。

朝鮮学校側の「民族教育権」が侵害されたとの主張については、言及しなかった。【松井豊】

◇子どもの励みに−−原告弁護団長

原告側の塚本誠一弁護団長は「同種の街宣事案について、強い抑止効果を発揮すると期待している。日本全国の朝鮮学校で学んでいる子どもたちの大きな励みになる」と話した。

◇認められず残念−−在特会副会長

在特会の八木康洋副会長は「我々の行為が正当であると認められなかったのは非常に残念。判決文を精査して控訴するかどうかを考えたい」と話した。

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

Mainichi Shinbun Editorial, courtesy of MS:

Editorial: Ruling that hate speech constitutes racial discrimination is rational
October 08, 2013 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/perspectives/news/20131008p2a00m0na018000c.html

A recent court ruling that stated that any hate speech campaign targeting particular races and ethnic groups constitutes racial discrimination and is illegal should be regarded as a rational judgment. It is hoped that the ruling, the first of its kind, will lead to the prevention of hate speeches, which have been conducted in neighborhoods of Tokyo, Osaka and other regions where many Korean residents are living and has developed into a serious social problem.

The Kyoto District Court ordered members of Zaitokukai, or a citizens group that “does not tolerate privileges for Korean residents in Japan,” which organized one of such campaigns, to pay 12.26 million yen in damages to the operator of a pro-Pyongyang Korean school in Japan. The court also banned the group from engaging in such street propaganda campaigns.

In the ruling, the court concluded that the defendants obstructed the school’s business and defamed the plaintiffs by blaring through loudspeakers, “Descendents of illegal immigrants,” and “Destroy Korean schools,” and uploading the footage of the campaign online.

The district court went on to recognize that the defendants’ campaign falls under “distinction and exclusion based on race or ethnic origin,” which is banned under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The court also expressed its view that the amount of compensation for any form of racial discrimination, such as the hate speech by Zaitokukai, is higher in accordance with the convention.

Zaitokukai claimed that it launched the campaign in question to protest against the school for using a neighboring park as a sports ground without permission from the Kyoto Municipal Government, which manages the park. However, the court ruled that regardless of whether Zaitokukai’s claim was true, the defendants’ campaign is illegal because it was obviously aimed at spreading a sense of discrimination against Korean residents throughout society. The court also dismissed Zaitokukai’s claim that its freedom to express political views should be protected, noting that the hate speech did not contain anything that served the common good and was nothing but an insult.

Freedom of expression is an important part of fundamental human rights. As such, the freedom to express opinions through demonstrations should be guaranteed. However, hate speeches could impair the dignity of Korean residents and other targets and foster prejudice against foreigners and exclusionism in Japan’s society.

In South Korea and China, these demonstrations in Japan are widely reported online, stirring anti-Japan sentiment. We must prevent such campaigns, launched by only a small portion of Japanese people, from contributing to the worsening of Japan’s relations with South Korea and China.

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to which Japan is a party, has a clause requiring parties to punish those involved in hate speeches. Some European countries legally slap punishments on those involved in such campaigns.

However, Japan has reserved its ratification of this clause in the convention for fear that should it enact legislation imposing criminal punishment on those involved in such campaigns, it could lead to excessive controls on freedom of speech and other forms of expression. Actually, the latest ruling has demonstrated that existing legislation can control hate speeches.

The ruling highlighted the common sense of not tolerating discrimination based on race and ethnic origin. It is important to ensure social consensus to avoid any words and deeds that impair individuals’ dignity from taking form in Japanese society. Japan should improve its efforts through education and other means to nurture people’s notion of human rights.

ENDS
Original Japanese story:

社説:ヘイトスピーチ 差別許さぬ当然の判決
毎日新聞 2013年10月08日 東京朝刊

http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20131008ddm005070155000c.html

特定の人種や民族への憎しみをあおるヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)と呼ばれる言動の違法性を認める初めての司法判断が示された。東京や大阪などの在日韓国・朝鮮人が多く住む地域などで繰り返され、社会問題化しているこうした行為の歯止めにつながることを望みたい。

朝鮮学校を運営する学校法人が、「在日特権を許さない市民の会(在特会)」や会員らに損害賠償などを求めた訴訟で、京都地裁は1226万円の賠償を命じ、学校周辺での街宣活動も禁止した。「密入国の子孫」「朝鮮学校をぶっ壊せ」と怒鳴り上げ、その様子を撮影した映像をインターネット上で公開したことが業務を妨害し、名誉を傷つける不法行為と認めた。当然の判断だ。

判決はさらに、一連の言動が国連の人種差別撤廃条約が禁止する「人種や民族的出身などに基づく区別、排除」に該当すると認めた。このような差別行為であれば条約に基づき、損害も高額になるという判断も示した。

在特会側の街宣活動は、学校が隣接する公園を、管理者である京都市の許可を得ないまま運動場として使っていることを非難するものだった。しかし判決は、事実を示す内容が含まれていたとしても、在日朝鮮人に対する差別意識を世間に訴える意図があることは明らかで違法とした。演説も公益目的のない侮蔑的発言としか考えられないと述べ、「政治的意見を述べる自由は保護される」という在特会側の主張を退けた。

表現の自由は基本的人権の中でも重要な権利であり、デモによる意見表明は尊重されるべきだ。しかし、ヘイトスピーチは、攻撃の対象となる在日韓国・朝鮮人らの尊厳を傷つけ、外国人に対する偏見と排外主義的な感情も助長しかねない。

韓国や中国では、日本でのデモなどの様子がネット上で紹介され、反日感情を刺激している。一部の人たちの言動が日本と韓国や中国との関係悪化を助長することは避けなければならない。

日本も加盟する人種差別撤廃条約にはヘイトスピーチに対する処罰規定がある。ヨーロッパなどには刑事罰を科す国もあるが、日本はその部分を留保している。新たな法規制をすれば、表現の自由をおびやかし、行き過ぎた言論統制を招く恐れがあるためだ。判決は現行法でもヘイトスピーチに対応できることを示した。

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Japan Times version (including the error that the Koreans make up Japan’s largest ethnic minority.  In fact, since 2007, the Chinese do; nigh time for lazy reporters to update their preconceptions):

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

Zaitokukai told to leave Korean school in Kyoto alone
Court bans rightists’ hate speech, rallies
KYODO, AP and The Japan Times OCT 7, 2013
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/07/national/court-bans-rightists-hate-speech-rallies/

KYOTO – The Kyoto District Court ordered anti-Korean activists Monday to pay damages for disrupting classes at a Korean school by staging demonstrations during which they used hate speech, and banned them from staging further rallies.

The landmark ruling acknowledged for the first time the explicit insults used in the rallies constituted racial discrimination, human rights experts said, and it could prompt a move to exempt hate speech from free-speech rights under the Constitution.

Presiding Judge Hitoshi Hashizume said the actions of Zaitokukai members and other activists who shouted hate-speech slogans near the school and posted video footage of the demonstrations online were “illegal.”

The actions “constitute racial discrimination as defined by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,” which Japan has ratified, Hashizume said.

Zaitokukai and the activists were ordered to pay about ¥12 million and banned from street demonstrations within a 200-meter radius of the pro-Pyongyang Korean school in the city of Kyoto. The operator of the school had sought ¥30 million in damages.

The operator filed the lawsuit in June 2010 against the group and eight activists for using hate speech on three occasions from December 2009 to March 2010 near Kyoto Chosen Daiichi Elementary School in Minami Ward.

The activists shouted slogans, such as “throw Korean schools out of Japan” and “children of spies,” through loudspeakers, disrupting classes and causing some students to complain of stomach pains, according to the suit.

The plaintiff argued that its right to receive “minority education” had been violated in seeking a ban on such demonstrations around the school, which has been consolidated with Kyoto Chosen Elementary School in Fushimi Ward since the incidents.

Several hundred thousand Koreans comprise Japan’s largest ethnic minority group, many of them descendants of forced laborers shipped to Japan during its brutal 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. Many still face discrimination.

Such rallies have escalated this year and spread to Tokyo and other cities with Korean communities amid growing anti-Korean sentiment. In street rallies held in major Korean communities in the Tokyo area, hundreds of group members and supporters called Koreans “cockroaches,” shouted “Kill Koreans” and threatened to “throw them into the sea.”

Zaitokukai defended its actions as “freedom of expression” and said they were intended to oppose the school’s installing of a platform for morning assembly without permission at a park that is managed by the city.

Four of the eight defendants have been convicted of forcible obstruction of business and property destruction in connection with the demonstrations, while the school’s former principal has been fined ¥100,000 for unauthorized occupancy of the park.
ENDS

JT on “Kyakkan Setsu vs. Nibun Setsu”: Grey zones in compensation for “work hours” in Japan

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Hi Blog.  As our last post talked about labor law issues (and the proposal to abridge Labor Standards in favor of greater “flexibility” to dismiss labor without reasons), here’s an important article that came out in the Japan Times last December that I was waiting to get to, discussing issues once again of employer power over employees:  When is a person under the authority of his or her employer, deserving compensation as “work time”?  Okunuki talks about important cases in a very enlightening article about just how grey “work hours” are, and underscoring how powerless Japanese employees are regarding all that overtime going unpaid — how many people take things to court or to labor unions to fight under this precedent, or are even aware of “kyakkan setsu vs. nibun setsu”?.  And the proposal we discussed last blog entry is to give even more power to employers?  Arudou Debito

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Japan Times Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012
THE COMMUNITY PAGE LIFELINES: LABOR PAINS
When is an hour at work not a work hour?

The Japan Times, December 18, 2012
By HIFUMI OKUNUKI
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121218lp.html

It was 1988, in an ad for Regain energy drink. Actor Saburo Tokito, wearing a suit and carrying an attache case, asked a question that would go down in TV history: “Can I work 24 hours straight?”

Japan was reveling in the go-go years of the bubble economy, its people sacrificing their health, families and private lives in a mad devotion to work, work and more work. But beneath all the bright economic indicators lurked a dark underbelly of millions of hours of unpaid overtime and innumerable cases of karōshi, or death from overwork.

As 2012 winds down, economic and political stagnation drags on, while our society increasingly feels somehow claustrophobic. If we cannot have permanent economic growth, then shouldn’t we at least do away with the 24/7 work ethic? Yet the Japanese disease of “all work and no play” unfortunately seems to be here to stay. With job security fading fast, things are worse than ever.

I’d like to close 2012 with a major labor law theme: work hours. When is an hour a work hour? It’s not as straightforward as it might seem. To ensure that work hours are a pleasant and humane experience, we first need to define them.

The Labor Standards Law sidesteps a proper definition, and labor law scholars fall into two camps over how a work hour should be defined. One subscribes to what is known as kyakkan-setsu, roughly translating as “objective theory.” This camp argues that work hours are the entire time during which the employee can objectively be considered to be under the authority of her or his employer.

The nibun-setsu (two-part theory) camp, on the other hand, splits work hours into “core” and “peripheral” work hours, with the status of the latter gray area between strictly defined work hours and break time to be determined through agreement between the employer and employed.

The gold standard in case law regarding work hours is the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki Shipyard case. The Supreme Court’s Petty Bench on March 9, 2000, rejected outright the nibun-setsu approach and backed the kyakkan-setsu interpretation. Let’s examine the case.

The plaintiffs built and repaired vessels for Mitsubishi Heavy. The shūgyō kisoku (work rules) stipulated work hours and break time, as well as rules regarding changing into work clothes before and after work.

Workers were expected to be on site at the start and end of each shift in proper work clothes and gear. The preparation had to be done in the changing room and failure to do so before the start of each shift could result in disciplinary action, including poor evaluation, pay cuts or suspension.

The plaintiffs sued the plant, claiming that the following periods, numbered 1 through 8, were working hours and therefore should be paid as overtime and at overtime rates.

1) Time in the morning to get from the shipyard gate to the changing room.

2) Time in the changing room to don work clothes and special equipment, then to move to the preshift calisthenics area.

3) Time spent taking out equipment and materials from the warehouse before and after work and hosing down the yard before the shift.

4) Time to get from the shipyard to the cafeteria and then remove some gear and clothing for lunch break.

5) Time to move from the cafeteria to the calisthenics area and then put gear and clothing back on after lunch.

6) Time to get from the work site to the changing room and remove clothing and gear after work.

7) Time spent washing or taking a shower and then changing into ordinary clothes.

8) Time to get from the changing room to the gate of the shipyard at the end of the shift.

Nagasaki District Court in 1989, the Fukuoka High Court in 1995 and the Supreme Court in 2000 all ruled that 2, 3 and 6 constituted work hours that must be paid, while the others did not, for the following reasons: Workers were not under company authority during time periods 1 and 8; workers were free to use their break time as they chose for periods 4 and 5; and period 7 involved actions that were not required of workers and did not interfere unduly with their commute home.

This case was the first to take up the definition of work hours and is thus extremely important. Much attention is paid to the wording in the verdict that “time to do activities that are unavoidable or ordered by the employer constitute work hours.” This applies even if the order is tacit.

This case gives a sense of the courts’ thinking on work hours. If more workers understood this jurisprudence, we would surely see more workplaces that are “healthy in body and mind.”

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121218lp.html

Interesting cases: naturalized Japanese sues city councilor fiance who jilted her for Korean ethnicity, Pakistani parents file criminal complaint for injurious school bullying, Hatoyama Yukio officially called “traitor” for not toeing official party line on Senkaku/Nanjing issues

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Hi Blog. Here are a couple of interesting cases that have fallen through the cracks recently, what with all the higher-level geopolitical flurry and consequent hate speech garnering so much attention.  With not much to link them thematically except that these are complaints made into public disputes, let me combine them into one blog post and let them stand for themselves as bellwethers of the times.

First up, we have a criminal complaint filed with the police for classroom bullying resulting in serious injury due to his Pakistani ethnicity.  This is one of a long line of cases of ethnic bullying in Japan, once again with insufficient intervention by authorities, and we’re lucky this time it hasn’t resulted yet in PTSD or a suicide.  Like it has in these cases here with an ethnic Chinese schoolgirlwith an Indian student in 2007, or a Filipina-Japanese student in 2010 (in the last case NHK neglected to mention ethnicity as an issue).  Of course, even here the Mainichi declines to give the name of the school involved.  Whatever happened to perennial promises of a “major bullying study” at the ministerial level a couple of years ago to prevent things like this?  Or of grassroots NGO actions way back when?

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Pakistani student’s parents file complaint against classmates over bullying

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130219p2a00m0na006000c.html

TAKAMATSU — The parents of a 13-year-old Pakistani junior high school student here have filed a criminal complaint with police, accusing their son’s classmates of bullying and injuring him.

A male Pakistani student at a public junior high school in a town in Kagawa Prefecture was bullied and seriously injured by his classmates, his parents alleged in a complaint filed on Feb. 18 with prefectural police.

The parents requested on the same day that the town’s board of education investigate the case and take measures to prevent a recurrence as they claim the student has been racially abused by four of his classmates since last spring. However, the education board denies bullying took place at the school.

According to the parents who held a news conference, the student was verbally bullied about the color of his skin by four of his classmates ever since he entered school last April. The parents claim that the students would make racist comments that their son’s skin was “dirty” and that they told him to “go back to his home country.”

The student was also physically bullied repeatedly by his classmates. Last November, one of the four classmates tripped him over when he was running in the hallway, severely injuring his legs and face. Since that incident, the student reportedly has to use crutches to walk.

The student’s 41-year-old father said, “We asked the homeroom teacher and vice principle multiple times to improve the situation but they failed to take any action.”

February 19, 2013 (Mainichi Japan) 

傷害容疑:「いじめで重傷」告訴…パキスタン籍の中1両親

毎日新聞 2013年02月19日 00時37分(最終更新 02月19日 09時33分)

http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130219k0000m040116000c.html

 香川県中部の町立中学校に通うパキスタン国籍の1年男子生徒(13)が同級生からの暴行で重傷を負ったとして、男子生徒の両親が18日、傷害容疑で県警に告訴した。昨春以降、同級生ら4人から人種差別的な暴言によるいじめも続いているといい、両親は同日、町教育委員会に調査と再発防止を申し入れた。町教委側は「いじめはなかった」と否定している。

記者会見した両親らによると、男子生徒は昨年4月の入学直後から同級生4人に肌の色の違いを言われ「汚い」「国へ帰れ」など人種差別的な発言をされ、足を蹴られるなどの暴行も繰り返し受けたという。昨年11月には、校内の廊下を走っていて4人のうち1人に足を掛けられ転倒。足や顔などに重傷を負ったという。男子生徒は今も松葉づえで登下校している。父親(41)は「担任や教頭に何度も改善を訴えたがかなわなかった」と話している。【鈴木理之、広沢まゆみ】

婚約破棄:「在日差別意識に起因」 女性が市議を提訴
毎日新聞 2013年01月28日 15時00分(最終更新 01月28日 16時11分)
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130128k0000e040180000c.html

婚約相手だった兵庫県内の自治体の30代男性市議に自分の祖父が在日韓国人だと告げたところ、婚約を破棄されたとして、大阪市の会社員の女性(28)が市議に550万円の損害賠償を求める訴訟を大阪地裁に起こした。市議側は結婚できない理由として「政治的信条から消極的にならざるを得なかった」と説明しているが、女性側は「差別意識に起因し、不当だ」と批判している。人権問題に詳しい専門家からは市議の対応を問題視する声が上がっている。

提訴は昨年10月。訴状などによると、市議と女性は結婚相談所の紹介で同3月に知り合った。市議は同6月、「あなたのことが大好きです」などと書いた手紙を渡して「結婚したい」と伝え、女性も承諾した。しかしその数日後、女性が自分の祖父は在日韓国人だと市議に伝えると、市議は「韓国の血が流れている」などとして婚約を破棄したという。女性自身は日本国籍だった。

市議側は地裁に提出した書面で「結婚したい」といったん女性に伝えたことは認めた上で、「保守派の政治家として活動し、在日韓国人らに対する選挙権付与に反対するなどの政治的スタンスをとっており、政治的信条などから結婚できないと考えた」と説明。さらに「婚約は成立していない」として請求の棄却を求めている。

市議本人は取材に「弁護士に任せているのでコメントできない」としているが、女性は「どれだけ人を傷つけたのか、深く受け止めてほしい」と話した。在日外国人問題に詳しい田中宏・一橋大名誉教授は「結婚で出自を問う発想は問題だ。政治家としての考え方があるから正当化されるものではない」と指摘している。

判例などによると、双方の両親や友人らに婚約の意思を伝えている▽結納や指輪の交換をした−−などの事実があれば、婚約が成立したとみなされる。過去には、日本人男性から国籍を理由に婚約を破棄されたとして韓国籍女性が男性に慰謝料などを求めた訴訟で、大阪地裁は83年、「民族差別の存在に起因した迷いから婚約破棄したのは不当」として、男性に約240万円の支払いを命じた判決がある。【渋江千春】
ENDS

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And finally, courtesy of japanCRUSH last January, we have this interesting titbit:

Japanese defense minister Onodera Itsunori is the latest politician to enter the fray by calling former prime minister Hatoyama Yukio a ‘traitor’ on a television programme. Onodera’s remark came after Hatoyama commented to Chinese officials that the Senkaku Islands should be recognised as disputed territory, rather than Japanese territory, during his trip to China. Interestingly, Hatoyama caused further controversy this week when he apologised for the Nanjing massacre.

Translations courtesy of japanCRUSH:

Defense Minister Calls Hatoyama a ‘Traitor’ (kokuzoku)

Sankei Shinbun:  On the evening of January 17, defense minister Onodera Itsunori gave a scathing criticism of Hatoyama Yukio, who met with Chinese officials in Beijing, for his acknowledgement of the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture as being a disputed territory between Japan and China. Onodera stated, ‘This is a huge negative for Japan. At this, China will announce to the world that there is a dispute, and form international opinion. For the first time in a long while, the word ‘traitor’ came to mind’. Onodera spoke on a BS-Fuji news programme.

鳩山氏は「国賊」と防衛相

産經新聞 2013.1.17 22:29 [鳩山氏の不思議な行動
 小野寺五典防衛相は17日夜、北京で中国要人と会談した鳩山由紀夫元首相が沖縄県・尖閣諸島は日中間の係争地だとの認識を伝えたことについて、「日本にとって大きなマイナスだ。中国はこれで係争があると世界に宣伝し、国際世論を作られてしまう。久しぶりに頭の中に『国賊』という言葉がよぎった」と述べ、鳩山氏を痛烈に批判した。BSフジの報道番組で語った。
===========================

Defense Minister Onodera: Former Prime Minister Hatoyama is a ‘Traitor’

JIJI/YahooNews.jp:  On the evening of January 17, defense minister Onodera Itsunori appeared on a BS-Fuji television programme, and said that ‘This is a huge negative for Japan. I shouldn’t really say this, but for a moment the word ‘traitor’ came to mind,’ strongly criticising former prime minister Hatoyama Yukio’s remark that ‘It is important to recognise that the Senkaku islands are a disputed territory’.

The defense minister showed his anxiety, saying ‘Although there is no dispute, and (Senkaku) is native Japanese territory, the Chinese will announce to the world that this is what a former Japanese prime minister thinks, and indeed world opinion will be formed as though there really is a dispute’.

鳩山元首相は「国賊」=小野寺防衛相

時事通信 1月17日(木)22時37分配信

 小野寺五典防衛相は17日夜、BSフジの番組に出演し、「尖閣諸島を係争地と認めることが大事だ」との鳩山由紀夫元首相の中国での発言について「日本にとって大きなマイナスだ。言ってはいけないが『国賊』という言葉が一瞬、頭をよぎった」と述べ、強く非難した。
防衛相は「係争などなく(尖閣は)固有の領土なのに、中国側は、日本の元首相はこう思っていると世界に宣伝し、いかにも係争があるかのように国際世論がつくられてしまう」と懸念を示した。

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130117-00000197-jij-pol

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So this is what it’s coming to.  Dissent from prominent Japanese (who, in Hatoyama’s case, are no longer even political representatives) who act on their conscience, deviate from the saber-rattling party line, and show any efforts at reconciliation in this era of regional brinkmanship get decried as “traitors”.

Check out this photo essay link from the Sankei showing Hatoyama and missus provocatively bowing and praying at Nanjing (text of article follows):

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鳩山元首相が「南京大虐殺記念館」訪問 中国、「安倍内閣牽制」に利用も
産經新聞 2013年1月17日
http://photo.sankei.jp.msn.com/kodawari/data/2013/01/17hatoyama/

【上海=河崎真澄】中国を訪問中の鳩山由紀夫元首相は17日、日中戦争で旧日本軍による南京占領で起きたとされる「南京事件」の資料などを展示する江蘇省南京市の「南京大虐殺記念館」を訪問した。日本の首相経験者が同館を訪れるのは、海部俊樹、村山富市両元首相に続いて3人目。

中国版のツイッター「微博」などでは、「もっと日本に鳩山元首相のような人が増えればいい」といった同館訪問を歓迎する発言に加え、「記念館で鳩山はざんげしろ」「日本人は歴史を直視しろ」などとの書き込みもある。鳩山氏と対比する形で、東南アジア歴訪中の安倍晋三首相を「右翼的思想だ」と警戒感をむき出しにした発言も目立つ。

歴史認識をめぐって植民地支配と侵略を認めた「村山談話」を継承しつつ、新たな談話の作成を進める安倍内閣に対し、中国側はいわば同館への鳩山氏訪問のタイミングを利用し、牽制する狙いもありそうだ。

鳩山氏は16日の賈慶林全国政治協商会議主席ら中国要人との会談で、沖縄県の尖閣諸島について、日本政府の公式見解と異なり中国との「係争地」と発言、波紋を広げている。
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Doesn’t seem like there is much space for tolerance of moderate or diverse views (or people) anymore.  Arudou Debito

Interesting lawsuits: French “Flyjin” sues employer NHK for firing her during Fukushima Crisis, 8 US sailors sue TEPCO for lying about radiation dangers

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Hi Blog.  Here’s a couple of interesting lawsuits in the pipeline:  A French woman being fired from NHK (despite 20 years working there) apparently for leaving Japan during the Fukushima crisis, and eight US Navy sailors suing TEPCO (from overseas) for lying about nuclear fallout dangers and exposing them to radiation.

No matter what you think about the act of litigation (and there are always those, such as House Gaijin Gregory Clark or tarento Daniel Kahl (see Komisarof, “At Home Abroad”, p. 100) who decry anything a NJ does in court, saying “they’re suing at the drop of a hat like the litigious Westerners they are” — even though millions of Japanese in Japan sue every year), these cases have the potential to reveal something interesting:  1) Blowing the lid off the Flyjin Myth of “fickle NJ leaving their work stations” once again, this time in the Japanese judiciary; and 2) showing whether international effects of GOJ negligence (and irradiating the food chain both domestically and internationally counts as such) is something that can be legally actionable from afar.

Anyway, power to them.  I doubt the outcome of these cases will appear much in the J media, so keep an eye out for their potential appearance in the English-language media when the decisions get handed down within the next year or two.  Arudou Debito

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French woman who fled during nuclear crisis sues NHK for firing her
January 16, 2013 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130116p2g00m0dm023000c.html

TOKYO (Kyodo) — A French woman on Tuesday sued public broadcaster Japan Broadcasting Corp., or NHK, for dismissing her after she left Japan in response to a French government warning issued during the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Emmanuelle Bodin, 55, who had engaged in translation and radio work, said in a complaint filed with the Tokyo District Court that she had told her boss that she would return to work on March 30, 2011, but received a termination letter on March 22.

Two days after the earthquake-tsunami disaster triggered the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant on March 11 that year, the French government advised its citizens to leave the Tokyo area.

Bodin, who is demanding her dismissal be rescinded and damages be paid, had worked at NHK for over 20 years as a contract staffer, renewing her contract every year, according to the complaint. She said in a news conference no other employee in the French language section who left Tokyo at the time was fired.

NHK said the termination of her contract was not made in an unfair manner but refrained from elaborating on reasons for the dismissal.
ENDS

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The Japan Times, Friday, Dec. 28, 2012

Eight U.S. sailors sue Tepco for millions for falsely downplaying Fukushima radiation exposure

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121228a3.html

Bloomberg — Tokyo Electric Power Co. is being sued for tens of millions of dollars by eight U.S. Navy sailors who claim that they were unwittingly exposed to radiation from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant meltdowns and that Tepco lied about the dangers.

The sailors aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan were involved in the Operation Tomodachi disaster relief operations following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Tohoku region and led to the nuclear catastrophe, according to their complaint filed in U.S. federal court in San Diego on Dec. 21.

Tepco and the Japanese government conspired to create the false impression that radiation leaking from the Fukushima No. 1 plant didn’t pose a threat to the sailors, according to the complaint. As a result, the plaintiffs rushed to areas that were unsafe and too close to the facility, exposing them to radiation, their lawyers said.

The Japanese government was “lying through their teeth about the reactor meltdown” crisis, as it reassured the USS Reagan crew that “everything is under control,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers said in the complaint. “The plaintiffs must now endure a lifetime of radiation poisoning and suffering.”

The sailors are each seeking $10 million in damages, $30 million in punitive damages and a judgment requiring the creation of a $100 million fund to pay for their medical monitoring and treatments.

“We can’t comment as we have not received the complaint document yet,” Yusuke Kunikage, a Tepco spokesman, said Thursday. “We will consider a response after examining the claim.”

In July, the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund took control of Tepco in return for a ¥1 trillion capital injection after the disaster left the utility on the brink of bankruptcy. The utility received ¥1.4 trillion in state funds to compensate those affected by the disaster.

ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 59: The year for NJ in 2012: a Top 10

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Hi Blog. Thanks everyone for putting this article in the Top Ten Most Read once again for most of New Year’s Day (and to the JT for distinguishing this with another “Editor’s Pick”). Great illustrations as always by Chris Mackenzie.  Here’s hoping I have more positive things to say in next year’s roundup… This version with links to sources. Enjoy. And Happy New Year 2013.  Arudou Debito

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

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013

The year for non-Japanese in ’12: a top 10

By ARUDOU DEBITO

Back by popular demand, here is JBC’s roundup of the top 10 human rights events that most affected non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan in 2012, in ascending order.

10. Keene’s naturalization (March 7)
News photo

This should have occasioned great celebration in Japan’s era of crisis, but instead, scholar Donald Keene’s anointment as a Japanese citizen became a cautionary tale, for two reasons. One was his very public denigration of other NJ (despite their contributions as full-time Japan residents, taxpayers and family creators) as alleged criminals and “flyjin” deserters (JBC, Apr. 3), demonstrating how Old Japan Hands eat their young. The other was the lengths one apparently must go for acceptance: If you spend the better part of a century promoting Japanese literature to the world, then if you live to, oh, the age of 90, you might be considered “one of us.”

It seems Japan would rather celebrate a pensioner salving a wounded Japan than young multiethnic Japanese workers potentially saving it.

9. Liberty Osaka defunded (June 2)
News photo

Liberty Osaka (www.liberty.or.jp), Japan’s only human rights museum archiving the historical grass-roots struggles of disenfranchised minorities, faces probable closure because its government funding is being cut off. Mayor Toru Hashimoto, of hard-right Japan Restoration Party fame (and from a disenfranchised minority himself), explicitly said the divestment is due to the museum’s displays being “limited to discrimination and human rights,” thereby failing to present Japan’s children with a future of “hopes and dreams.”

In a country with the most peace museums in the world, this politically motivated ethnic cleansing of the past augurs ill for cultural heterogeneity under Japan’s right-wing swing (see below).

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10619 http://japanfocus.org/-Tessa-Morris_Suzuki/3818

8. Nationality Law ruling (March 23)
News photo

In a throwback to prewar eugenics, Tokyo District Court ruled constitutional a section of the Nationality Law’s Article 12 stating that a) if a man sires a child with a foreigner b) overseas, and c) does not file for the child’s Japanese citizenship within three months of birth, then citizenship may legally be denied.

Not only did this decision erode the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that granted citizenship to international children born out of wedlock, but it also made clear that having “foreign blood” (in a country where citizenship is blood-based) penalizes Japanese children — because if two Japanese nationals have a child overseas, or if the child is born to a Japanese woman, Article 12 does not apply. The ruling thus reinforced a legal loophole helping Japanese men evade responsibility if they fool around with foreign women.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10060 http://www.debito.org/?p=1715

7. No Hague signing (September 8)
News photo

Japan’s endorsement of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction became a casualty of months of political gridlock, as the opposition Liberal Democratic Party blocked about a third of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s bills.

The treaty outlines protocol for how children of broken marriages can avoid international tugs of war. As the Community Pages have reported umpteen times, Japan, one of the few developed countries that is not a signatory, remains a haven for postdivorce parental alienation and child abductions.

Since joint custody does not legally exist and visitation rights are not guaranteed, after a Japanese divorce one parent (regardless of nationality) is generally expected to disappear from their child’s life. Former Diet member Masae Ido (a parental child abductor herself) glibly called this “a Japanese custom.” If so, it is one of the most psychologically damaging customs possible for a child, and despite years of international pressure on Japan to join the Hague, there is now little hope of that changing.

Sources:  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120908a2.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=10548

6. Immigration talks (May 24-August 27)
News photo

In one of the few potentially bright spots for NJ in Japan this year, the Yoshihiko Noda Cabinet convened several meetings on how Japan might go about creating a “coexistence society” that could “accept” NJ (JBC, July 3). A well-intentioned start, the talks included leaders of activist groups, local governments and one nikkei academic.

Sadly, it fell into old ideological traps: 1) Participants were mostly older male Japanese bureaucrats; 2) those bureaucrats were more interested in policing NJ than in making them more comfortable and offering them a stake in society; 3) no NJ leader was consulted about what NJ themselves might want; and 4) the Cabinet itself confined its concerns to the welfare of nikkei residents, reflecting the decades-old (but by now obviously erroneous) presumption that only people with “Japanese bloodlines” could “become Japanese.”

In sum, even though the government explicitly stated in its goals that NJ immigration (without using the word, imin) would revitalize our economy, it still has no clue how to make NJ into “New Japanese.”

Source:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10396

5. Mainali, Suraj cases (June 7, July 3)
News photo

2012 saw the first time an NJ serving a life sentence in Japan was declared wrongfully convicted, in the case of Govinda Prasad Mainali. The last time that happened (Toshikazu Sugaya in 2009), the victim was released with a very public apology from public prosecutors. Mainali, however, despite 15 years in the clink, was transferred to an immigration cell and deported. At least both are now free men.

On the other hand, the case of Abubakar Awudu Suraj (from last year’s top 10), who died after brutal handling by Japanese immigration officers during his deportation on March 22, 2010, was dropped by public prosecutors who found “no causal relationship” between the treatment and his death.

Thus, given the “hostage justice” (hitojichi shihō) within the Japanese criminal prosecution system, and the closed-circuit investigation system that protects its own, the Japanese police can incarcerate you indefinitely and even get away with murder — particularly if you are an NJ facing Japan’s double standards of jurisprudence (Zeit Gist, Mar. 24, 2009).

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=9265
http://www.debito.org/?p=10407
“Hostage justice”: http://www.debito.org/?p=1426

4. Visa regimes close loop (August)
News photo

Over the past two decades, we have seen Japan’s visa regimes favoring immigration through blood ties — offering limited-term work visas with no labor law rights to Chinese “trainees” while giving quasi-permanent-residency “returnee” visas to nikkei South Americans, for example.

However, after 2007’s economic downturn, blood was judged to be thinner than unemployment statistics, and the government offered the nikkei (and the nikkei only) bribes of free airfares home if they forfeited their visa status (JBC, Apr. 7, 2009). They left in droves, and down went Japan’s registered NJ population for the first time in nearly a half-century — and in 2012 the Brazilian population probably dropped to fourth place behind Filipinos.

But last year was also when the cynical machinations of Japan’s “revolving door” labor market became apparent to the world (JBC, March 6) as applications for Japan’s latest exploitative visa wheeze, “trainee” nurses from Indonesia and the Philippines, declined — and even some of the tiny number of NJ nurses who did pass the arduous qualifying exam left. Naturally, Japan’s media (e.g., Kyodo, June 20; Aug. 4) sought to portray NJ as ungrateful and fickle deserters, but nevertheless doubts remain as to whether the nursing program will continue. The point remains that Japan is increasingly seen as a place to avoid in the world’s unprecedented movement of international labor.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10010
http://www.debito.org/?p=10497
http://www.debito.org/?p=10340
International labor migration stats http://www.oecd.org/els/internationalmigrationpoliciesanddata/internationalmigrationoutlook2012.htm

3. New NJ registry system (July 5)
News photo

One of the most stupefying things about postwar Japan has been how NJ could not be registered with their Japanese families on the local residency registry system (jūmin kihon daichō) — meaning NJ often went uncounted in local population tallies despite being taxpaying residents! In 2012, this exclusionary system was finally abolished along with the Foreign Registry Law.

Unfortunately, this good news was offset by a) NJ still not being properly registered on family registries (koseki), b) NJ still having to carry gaijin cards at all times (except now with potentially remotely readable computer chips), and c) NJ still being singled out for racial profiling in spot ID checks by Japanese police (even though the remaining applicable law requires probable cause). It seems that old habits die hard, or else just get rejiggered with loopholes.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10414
http://www.debito.org/?p=9718
Remotely readable computer chips http://www.debito.org/?p=10750

2. Post-Fukushima Japan is bust
News photo

After the multiple disasters of March 11, 2011, there was wan hope that Japan’s electorate would be energized enough to demand better governance. Nope. And this despite the revelations in December 2011 that the fund for tsunami victims was diverted to whaling “research.” And the confusing and suppressed official reports about radioactive contamination of the ecosystem. And the tsunami victims who still live in temporary housing. And the independent parliamentary report that vaguely blamed “Japanese culture” for the disaster (and, moreover, offered different interpretations for English- and Japanese-reading audiences). And the reports in October that even more rescue money had been “slush-funded” to unrelated projects, including road building in Okinawa, a contact lens factory in central Japan and renovations of Tokyo government offices.

Voters had ample reason for outrage, yet they responded (see below) by reinstating the original architects of this system, the LDP.

For everyone living in Japan (not just NJ), 2012 demonstrated that the Japanese system is beyond repair or reform.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=9745
http://www.debito.org/?p=9756
http://www.debito.org/?p=10706
http://www.debito.org/?p=10428
http://www.debito.org/?p=9698
http://japanfocus.org/-Iwata-Wataru/3841

1. Japan swings right (December)
News photo

Two columns ago (JBC, Nov. 6), I challenged former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara (whose rabble-rousing bigotry has caused innumerable headaches for disenfranchised people in Japan, particularly NJ) to “bring it on” and show Japan’s true colors to the world in political debates. Well, he did. After a full decade of successfully encouraging Japanese society to see NJ (particularly Chinese) as innately criminal, Ishihara ratcheted things up by threatening to buy three of the privately-owned Senkaku islets (which forced the Noda administration to purchase them instead, fanning international tensions). Then Ishihara resigned his governorship, formed a “restorationist” party and rode the wave of xenophobia caused by the territorial disputes into the Diet’s Lower House (along with 53 other party members) in December’s general election.

Also benefiting from Ishihara’s ruses was the LDP, who with political ally New Komeito swept back into power with 325 seats. As this is more than the 320 necessary to override Upper House vetoes, Japan’s bicameral legislature is now effectively unicameral. I anticipate policy proposals (such as constitutional revisions to allow for a genuine military, fueling an accelerated arms race in Asia) reflecting the same corporatist rot that created the corrupt system we saw malfunctioning after the Fukushima disaster. (Note that if these crises had happened on the LDP’s watch, I bet the DPJ would have enjoyed the crushing victory instead — tough luck.)

In regards to NJ, since Japan’s left is now decimated and three-quarters of the 480-seat Lower House is in the hands of conservatives, I foresee a chauvinistic movement enforcing bloodline-based patriotism (never mind the multiculturalism created by decades of labor influx and international marriage), love of a “beautiful Japan” as defined by the elites, and more officially sanctioned history that downplays, ignores and overwrites the contributions of NJ and minorities to Japanese society.

In sum, if 2011 exposed a Japan in decline, 2012 showed a Japan closing.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10854
New arms race:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20302604 (Watch the video from minute 5.30:  the Hyuuga, Postwar Japan’s first new aircraft carrier is now in commission, two new big aircraft carriers are in production.)

Bubbling under (in descending order):

• China’s anti-Japan riots (September) and Senkaku-area maneuvers (October to now).

• North Korea’s missile test timed for Japan’s elections (December 12).

• NJ workers’ right to strike reaffirmed in court defeat of Berlitz (February 27).

• NJ on welfare deprived of waiver of public pension payments (August 10), later reinstated after public outcry (October 21).

• Statistics show 2011’s postdisaster exodus of NJ “flyjin” to be a myth (see JBC, Apr. 3).

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10055
http://www.debito.org/?p=10081

Debito Arudou and Akira Higuchi’s bilingual 2nd Edition of “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants,” with updates for 2012’s changes to immigration laws, is now on sale. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp.
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013
ENDS

Good news: Rightist sentenced to a year in jail for harassing company using Korean actress in their advertising

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Hi Blog.  A bit of good news.  A member of a nasty Rightist group was sentenced to a year in jail for harassing a Japanese company for using a Korean actress in its advertising.  That’s hopeful, as we are seeing examples of xenophobia in Japan going beyond internet and political-arena bile (as well as signposted exclusionism) and into the street for race-bating and interpersonal confrontation.  Without some kind of brake like this court decision, it’s only a matter of time before somebody goes too far and we have race riots in Japan.

I would have liked to have seen a little more detail in the article below about the timeline of the harassment.  I can speak from personal experience that it can take a year or more between an event and a conclusive court decision in Japan, so how responsive is Japan’s judiciary being here?  Also, note that this case is not punishing somebody for hate speech against an ethnic group or a person in Japan — it’s protecting a Japanese company against threatening behavior, a bit different.  I will be more reassured when we have a (similarly criminal, not civil) case involving arrest, prosecution, and jail time for an individual threatening an individual on the grounds of his/her ethnicity/national origin.  But I don’t think that will happen under the current legal regime, as “the government does not think that Japan is currently in a situation where dissemination of racial discriminatory ideas or incitement of racial discrimination are conducted to the extent that the government must consider taking legislative measures for punishment against dissemination of racial discriminatory idea, etc. at the risk of unjustly atrophying lawful speech…

That assessment was made by the MOFA to the UN more than a decade ago.  Given what I see are xenophobic tidings in Japan these days, I think it’s time for an update.  Arudou Debito

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Nationalist sent to jail after harassing company using Korean actress in advertising
By Adam Westlake / December 18, 2012 / Courtesy JK
http://japandailypress.com/nationalist-sent-to-jail-after-harassing-company-using-korean-actress-in-advertising-1820111

A court in Japan has sentenced an extreme nationalist to one year in jail after he began a hate-based harassment campaign against a Japanese company that used a popular South Korean actress in its magazine and television advertising. The situation peaked when 44 year old Hitoshi Nishimura, along with three other men, forced their way into the Osaka headquarters of the pharmaceutical firm and demanded to know why the company was using someone with an anti-Japanese background.

Nishimura said the actress Kim Tae-Hee was a South Korean activist herself when he entered the Rohto Pharmaceutical building and began making angry threats. He stated Kim participated in activities that asserted Seoul’s claims over the disputed Dokdo / Takeshima Islands, which are located in between Japan and South Korea, and have been the source of tensions for decades. In video footage of the intrusion, Nishimura is seen as yelling at the company’s officials and claiming to represent “angry Japanese throughout the country.”

The court sentenced Nishimura to a one-year jail term for making threatening acts, but no information has been released on the other three men. While somewhat overshadowed by the eruption of escalating tensions between China and Japan, the latest round of the territorial dispute with South Korea was kicked off in August when President Lee Myung-Bak made an unexpected visit to the islands. This resulted in protest from the Japanese government, as well as back-and-forth displays of nationalism on both sides. In one example, a group of South Korean swimmers, including a celebrity athlete, swam in a relay to the islands. Vocal groups in Japan began criticizing television broadcasters that showed Korean dramas, and even recently Korean pop-music acts have been left out of events and getting less airtime.

[via My Sinchew]

ENDS

Resurrecting Gregory Clark’s embarrassingly xenophobic Japan Times column on “Global Standards” Nov 1, 1999, quietly deleted without retraction from JT Online archives

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Hi Blog.  When doing research last blog entry, on how Japan Times columnist Gregory Clark led the Apologist counterattack on criticism of Japan for institutionalized racism (as witnessed at the time by the Ana Bortz Case of 1998-9 and the Otaru Onsens Case of 1999-2005), I discovered that one of his most xenophobic columns, entitled “Problematic Global Standards” of November 1, 1999 (weeks after the Bortz verdict in Shizuoka District Court made clear that racism, none other, existed within these shores) has long been deleted from the Japan Times archive.  I think after reading it you might understand why a publisher would be embarrassed for ever publishing it, but deletion from a newspaper archive without a retraction is simply not on.  I happen to have a hard copy of it in my archives:

Let me also type it out in full now, so it becomes word-searchable by the search engines for posterity.  Bigots, media fabricators, and profiteers like Clark deserve to be hoisted by their own petard.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito

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PROBLEMATIC GLOBAL STANDARDS
By Gregory Clark
The Japan Times, Monday, November 1, 1999

The Japanese are preoccupied nowadays with something called “global standards.” Spelled out clumsily in “katakana” English, “gurobaru sutandaado” has every implication of a backward, inferior Japan rightly despised by the civilized world for its failure to reform itself in our Western image.

It is true there are some Japanese standards that need to be reformed. The apathy towards social evils like “yakuza,” bike gangs and tobacco is one. Corruption in conservative political and business circles seems endless.

The education system could learn much not just from the West, but also from Taiwan or Singapore, particularly at the tertiary level.

But for every Japanese minus there is usually more than a more-than-compsenating plus. Over the years, the Japanese have evolved a value system that for all its faults has created the advanced and reasonably stable society that most of us come here to enjoy.

Or, to put it another way, for all the global standards that Japan should be emulating, there is usually any number of Japanese standards that the rest of us should emulate — particularly the ones that say people should be honest and reasonably polite to each other.

Which is where the sad story of the Hamamatsu jewelry shop owner fined recently for racial discrimination becomes relevant.

That Japan is remarkable for its lack of organized theft is no secret. One result is that even jewelry merchants feel little need to take little precautions.

Another is that Japan has become a paradise for Chinese, Vietnamese, Middle-Eastern and Latin American gangs keen to exploit this lack of precaution. To date they have managed to pull off close to 100 major jewelry heists, not to mention any number of big-haul raids on pachinko parlors.

With jewelry thefts, one ploy is to have someone, often a female accomplice, visit the targeted store in advance and pretend to show a purchasing interest while checking out details for the planned theft later.

Another is for the accomplice to create a disturbance, and while Japan’s fuss-sensitive shop assistants have their attention diverted, others in the gang pretending to be customers empty the unlocked display boxes.

Needless to say, this gives Japan’s jewelry merchants something of a problem. That some may have decided that their best defense is to ban all foreign-looking would-be customers from their stores is not very surprising.

But that, precisely, is where the man in Hamamatsu came unstuck. His district has a large Latin American-origin workforce. Having already suffered two robberies, he saw fit to deny entrance to a woman of Latin appearance who turned out to be a Brazilian journalist.

She also happened to be legalistic (another “global standard” Japan need not rush to adopt) and since Japan did not have a relevant law, the shop owner was charged under a U.N. antidiscrimination convention that Japan had signed. Found guilty, he was fined Y1.5 million.

No doubt the judge involved saw the U.N. connection as the ultimate in global standards. Many in the media here were equally enthusiastic. Few seem to have considered the corollary, namely that from now on not just the jewelers but anyone in the merchandise business will have to embrace another “global standard” — the one that says they should regard all customers as potential criminals to be welcomed with guns, guards, overhead cameras, and squinty-eyed vigilance.

True, discrimination against foreigners can be unpleasant, and in Japan it includes refusals to rent property. But as often as not, that is because they do not want to obey Japan’s rules and customs.

Refusal to respect the culture of a host nation is the worst form of antiforeign discrimination.

This clash between “global standards” and Japanese standards leaves its detritus in other areas.

Japanese standards say that there are times when an economy functions better if rival companies can get together, sometimes with customers, to agree on prices and market share. Unfettered competition can easily lead not just to monopolies, but also to very damaging “over-competition” (“kato kyoso”) as Japanese firms, with their strong survivalist ethic, struggle to keep alive.

But the “global standards” imposed on postwar Japan say otherwise. They insist that competition has to be free and unfettered. All and any cooperation between companies — the dreaded “dango” phenomenon — is a crime.

So Japan compromises. Dango that happen to be exposed are evil. The others are OK. What it should be doing is preventing dango that aim simply to jack up prices, while encouraging those that bring order to markets and help customers.

A recent victim of this expose standard was a small group of cast-iron pipe makers that had colluded on prices, mainly to rescue a weak competitor from bankruptcy. For its generosity, the group had its executives arrested and paraded as criminals.

Curious, the United States, which helped impose this anti-dango standard also condemned Fujitsu’s famous Y1 bid for a large Hiroshima computerization contract. The bid was a typical result of what can happen in Japan when competition is free and unfettered.

Nagging Western demands for unfettered competition in Japan’s finance industry and an end to government control over the banking system also led indirectly to the bubble economy and Japan’s current economic plight.

The same standards also managed to wreck the Asian economies two years ago, and then endorsed strong criticisms of Malaysia and Hong Kong for the state interventions that were crucial for rescuing those two economies from the wreckage imposed on them by Western speculators.

It’s time Japan, and much of the rest of the world, worked out their own standards.

===================
Gregory Clark is president of Tama University
ENDS

Japan Times on reaffirmed J workers’ “right to strike”, thanks to judicial precedent set by defeated 2012 nuisance lawsuit from eikaiwa Berlitz Inc.

Books etc. by ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
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Hi Blog. In one important NJ legacy, Japan’s courts have, according to the Japan Times, reaffirmed the right to strike for “laborers” (roudousha) in Japan’s private sector. Note that the right to strike has been denied to public-sector laborers — a legacy of SCAP’s “Reverse Course” of 1947-8 (Akira Suzuki, “The History of Labor in Japan in the Twentieth Century”, in Jan Lucassen, ed. “Global Labour History”, pg. 181), when the American occupiers were worried about Japan “going Red” like China and North Korea; to maintain administrative order, bureaucrats were explicitly denied the right to strike or engage in political activities (fortunately, they retained the right to vote; thanks for small favors). But in the face of eroding labor rights over the past few decades (when, for example, the rights of permanently-contracted workers to not have instant termination without reason, were being abused by unilateral contract terminations of NJ educators), a nuisance lawsuit by Berlitz against its eikaiwa workers fortunately ended up in the reaffirmation of their right to strike last February. Since we have talked about it on Debito.org at great length in the past, I just wanted to note this for the record.  And say thanks, good job, for standing your ground for all of us.  Arudou Debito

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

The Japan Times, Tuesday, July 17, 2012
LIFELINES: LABOR PAINS
Courts back workers’ rock-solid right to strike (excerpt)
By HIFUMI OKUNUKI, professor of constitutional and labor law at Daito Bunka University and Jissen Women’s University
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120717lp.html

[…]

One large company recently lost its claim of ¥110 million in damages against its union and union executives (see “Berlitz Loses Suit Over Union Teacher Strikes,” Feb. 28, The Japan Times).

Over 100 Berlitz Japan teachers struck over 3,000 lessons between December 2007 and November 2008 in order to win a 4.6-percent pay hike and one-off one-month bonus.

The language school claimed the strikes were illegal mainly because the union gave little notice of the impending strikes. While case law stipulates that prior notice must be given for a strike, it does not set a minimum time. Berlitz teachers often gave less than five minutes’ notice. This probably created a headache for management, because they had less time to send replacement teachers to cover the struck classes.

The school also claimed that a union executive, Louis Carlet (full disclosure: Carlet is the current president of Tozen Union), had admitted to wanting to damage the company in a Sept. 30, 2008, Zeit Gist column in The Japan Times (“Berlitz Strike Grows Despite Naysayers“).

Tokyo District Court dismissed the entire case in its Feb. 27, 2012, verdict, reaffirming the powerful guarantee of the right to strike in Japan. The court rejected the company’s contention that the union was striking to destroy the company and agreed with the union’s assertion that the only purpose of the strikes was to realize its demands.

Management appealed the verdict and Tokyo High Court is currently overseeing reconciliation talks between the two sides.

Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120717lp.html

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

Related sites:

ENDS

Asahi: Tokyo District Court rules denying J citizenship to children born overseas with one J parent constitutional

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Hi Blog. In an important decision regarding how Japanese nationality is granted, the Tokyo District Court ruled constitutional on March 23, 2012, that if a person with Japanese blood is born overseas and has another nationality, and if the parents have not registered the child with Japanese authorities within three months of birth, Japanese nationality will be denied.

This fruity ruling is in contrast to the Supreme Court’s June 2008 landmark ruling regarding Japanese-Filipina plaintiffs in a similar situation, where their Japanese nationality would be recognized despite similar bureaucratic registry snafus (as in, Japanese paternity not being recognized within a certain time frame, and if the child was born out of wedlock). That ruling was justified in part by the judges candidly admitting that lack of Japanese nationality would mean clear and present discrimination in Japan towards these people.  (In a related note, the GOJ months later declared a “false paternity” panic, and declared countermeasures were necessary; wheels turn slowly within the Japanese judiciary — perhaps this ruling is a countermeasure to keep the Half riffraff out.)

The possibility of discrimination seemed to make no difference in this ruling, as paternity and wedlock don’t seem to be an issue.  Place of birth is, meaning this ruling erodes the primacy of Japan’s jus sanguinis (citizenship by blood) conceits in favor somehow of jus soli (citizenship by birthplace).

Granted, Japanese judges are a fruity lot, and District Court rulings are often overturned for their fruitiness (see the McGowan Case, where an African-American plaintiff was refused entry to an eyeglass store by a manager who expressly disliked black people, and the judge said it was unclear that refusal was due to him being black; and the Oita Zainichi Chinese Welfare Case, which tried to rule that foreigners were not eligible for social welfare, despite it being made legal by the Japanese Diet since 1981! — see here also under item six). Let’s hope there is an appeal and this gets taken before a less fruity court. Arudou Debito

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Court rules nationality law on foreign country-born children legal
Asahi Shimbun March 25, 2012, courtesy of JK
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201203250003

A Tokyo court ruled as constitutional March 23 a clause in the nationality law which stipulates that children of Japanese nationals born overseas who have acquired foreign nationality cannot get a Japanese passport unless their parents take steps to obtain nationality within three months of birth.

The district court was ruling in a lawsuit filed against the Japanese government by 27 Philippine nationals who were fathered by Japanese between 1986 and 2007.

They were unable to gain Japanese nationality because their parents were unaware of the requirements in the nationality law.

The clause on stating intentions within three months of birth was added to Article 12 of the revised nationality law in 1985.

The decision was the first concerning the law’s clause, according to the Justice Ministry.

The plaintiffs argued that the stipulation was discriminatory because it amounted to reserving nationality based on birthplace, thereby going against the spirit of Article 14 of Japan’s Constitution, which guarantees equality for all.

In the ruling, Presiding Judge Makoto Jozuka explained the legislative purpose of the clause was to prevent individuals from holding dual nationality without a legitimate reason to claim Japanese nationality.

However, the court granted the request of one plaintiff on grounds that the individual had taken steps to acquire Japanese nationality.

One of the plaintiffs, Hiroko Ishiyama, 21, broke down in tears at a news conference after the ruling.

“My father is Japanese,” she said. “I have the right to become Japanese.”

She said her father did not know of the provision in the nationality law and missed the three-month deadline to file for Japanese nationality by one week.

Her younger sister has Japanese citizenship, as her parents filed the request within the prescribed period.

“I want to work and live in Japan,” Ishiyama said. “If there is a chance to acquire Japanese nationality, even if it is 1 percent, I want to get it.”
ENDS

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

国籍確認訴訟:国籍法12条「合憲」 外国生まれ、留保3カ月以内に--東京地裁初判断

毎日新聞 2012年3月24日 東京朝刊

http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20120324ddm041040084000c.html

外国で生まれ、外国籍と日本国籍を持つ子供が3カ月以内に日本国籍留保の意思表示をしないと日本国籍を喪失すると定めた国籍法12条は憲法に違反するとしてフィリピン生まれの男女27人が国に日本国籍の確認を求めた訴訟の判決で、東京地裁(定塚誠裁判長)は23日、「立法目的は合理的で違憲とは言えない」として合憲判断を示した。その上で26人の請求を棄却した。同12条に対する憲法判断は初めて。(3面に「質問なるほドリ」)

原告はいずれも日本人父とフィリピン人母の間の嫡出子で4~25歳。国籍が確認された1人は日本在住の21歳の男性で、国籍喪失後、再取得の届け出をした事情が考慮された。

判決は同12条の立法目的を「形骸化した国籍との重国籍を防止することにある」と指摘。日本と結びつきの薄い人に国籍が与えられると、国内法で定められている義務や権利の実効性が確保されなかったり、外交上の保護権を巡り国際的摩擦が生じる恐れがあり、立法目的は合理的と判断した。

原告は国内出生者との不公平を主張したが、定塚裁判長は「出生地に国との結びつきを見いだすことは、不合理ではない」とした。

また原告は、08年の国籍法改正で未婚の日本人父と外国人母との子は、父親の認知があれば20歳まで、「出生から3カ月」などの期限にかかわらず国籍取得が可能になった規定と比べて不均衡と主張した。だが、判決は「認知の時期を制限していない以上、非嫡出子の国籍取得時期を制限しないのは当然」と述べ、不合理な差別はないと判断した。【野口由紀】

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

国籍法:フィリピン人原告「どうして認められないの」

http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20120324k0000m040073000c.html

判決後、記者会見で涙を流すヒロコ・イシヤマさん(左端)。左から2人目は父親の石山博美さん=東京・霞が関の司法記者クラブで2012年3月23日、竹内幹撮影

判決後、記者会見で涙を流すヒロコ・イシヤマさん(左端)。左から2人目は父親の石山博美さん=東京・霞が関の司法記者クラブで2012年3月23日、竹内幹撮影

国籍法12条を合憲とした東京地裁のフィリピン人の日本国籍確認訴訟で、原告2人と日本人の父親たちが判決後の23日午後、東京・霞が関の司法記者クラブで記者会見した。

原告の一人でマニラ在住のヒロコ・イシヤマさん(21)は判決日に合わせて父親の石山博美さん(73)と来日した。石山さんは長女のヒロコさんの出生時に規定を知らず国籍留保の届け出をしなかったが、次女は届け出をしたため姉妹で国籍が違う。ヒロコさんは「父を責めることはできない。私の父は日本人なのに、どうして私には国籍が認められないのか」と涙を流した。

同法では国籍を喪失した人も、20歳未満であれば「日本に住所を有する」という条件で再取得できるが、ヒロコさんは「フィリピンで通う学校を長期間休み、日本で生活するのは無理だった」とハードルの高さを指摘した。

日本国籍確認の判決を受けたマニラ出身のマサミ・ツネタさん(21)も「27人で闘ってきたのにみんなで勝てずに残念」と肩を落とした。【野口由紀】

毎日新聞 2012年3月23日 20時56分(最終更新 3月23日 21時00分)

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

質問なるほドリ:外国生まれの日本人の国籍は?=回答・伊藤一郎

 <NEWS NAVIGATOR>

http://mainichi.jp/select/wadai/naruhodori/news/20120324ddm003070121000c.html

 ◇紛争避け重国籍排除 22歳までに選択、外国では例外も

なるほドリ 父親が日本人なのに外国で生まれて3カ月以内に届けないと日本国籍を失うという規定を巡る判決があったけど、なぜそんな規定があるの?

記者 日本と外国の国籍を両方同時に持つことを「重国籍」といいます。生地の外国で生活し、日本に戻るつもりもないのに日本国籍を持っていても意味がないですよね。そうした形だけの日本国籍を持っている人を増やさないようにすることが規定の目的の一つとされます。また、重国籍は、さまざまな弊害を起こす恐れがあるため、そうした人を増やしたくないという考え方もあるようです。

Q 重国籍だとどんな弊害があるの?

A 例えば国家間の紛争を招く恐れがあるとされます。重国籍者が一方の国で迫害を受けた際、もう一方の国が保護に乗り出そうとすれば国同士の争いに発展しかねないという指摘があります。また重国籍者が二つの国に異なる名前を登録することで、本名以外の偽名を用いるように、犯罪などの不正行為に悪用する恐れもあるとされます。

Q 出生3カ月以内に届け出ずに日本国籍を失った場合、二度と取得できなくなるの?

A いいえ、20歳未満で日本に住所があることを証明できれば、改めて日本国籍を取得できる制度があります。ただし、観光や親族を訪ねる目的で一時的に日本に滞在しただけでは住所があるとは認められません。再取得するためには「生活の本拠が日本にある」ことを証明する必要があります。

Q 重国籍の状態になった人は一生そのままなの?

A 日本の国籍法は原則として22歳までにどちらかの国籍を選択する義務があると定めています。正当な理由もなく期限までに選択せず、さらに法相による催告にも応じなければ、最終的に日本国籍を失います。ただし、外国には例外的に重国籍を認めている国もあります。

Q 国籍取得の考え方って、日本と外国で違うの?

A 日本は親の国籍が子の国籍になるという「血統主義」と呼ばれる考え方を基本とし、多くの国も血統主義を採用しています。一方、親の国籍にかかわらず生まれた国の国籍を取得する「生地主義」を採用している国もあります。ただ、どちらの主義の国で生まれても、一方の親が日本人、もう一方が外国人の場合、原則的にどちらかの国籍を選択しなければなりません。(社会部)

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

◆国籍取得に関する各国の考え方◆

<血統主義>

日本、中国、韓国、フィリピン、ドイツ、フランス、ロシアなど

<生地主義>

米国、カナダ、ブラジル、英国(条件付き)など

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

なるほドリコーナーへの質問をお寄せください。〒100-8051(住所不要)毎日新聞「質問なるほドリ」係 naruhodori@mainichi.co.jp

毎日新聞 2012年3月24日 東京朝刊

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 47: 2011’s Top 10 Human Rights Issues affecting NJ in Japan

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justbecauseicon.jpg

The Japan Times, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012
JUST BE CAUSE, Column 47

Kim to ‘flyjin,’ a top 10 for 2012

Illustrations by Chris Mackenzie
Version with links to sources

Here’s JBC’s fourth annual roundup of the top 10 human rights events that affected Japan’s non-Japanese (NJ) residents last year. Ranked in ascending order of impact:

10.  Kim Jong Il dies

News photo

This might rank higher with the benefit of hindsight, but right now it’s unclear how things will settle after the succession. Still, potential regime change in Asia’s most wild-card country might improve things for NJ in Japan. The biggest counterargument to granting NJ more rights has been, “If resident Chinese or North Koreans get any power over Japanese, Japan will be lost.”

Kim’s demise may not silence the alarmists (China will still be seen as a threat, especially now; more below), but even a tamping down of the standard foaming-at-the-mouth invective was impossible while “Dear Leader” was still around.

9.  Child abductor Emiko Inoue nicked

News photo

Emiko who? You might not know this case because Japanese media have intentionally omitted her name (even pixelating out her face in photographs) — and the fact she is a convicted felon in America — in their reports. But Inoue is one of the many Japanese who, following a separation or divorce, have abducted and then attempted to alienate their children from their former spouse. In the case of international relationships (because Japan is still not a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction), no child, according to activists, has ever been extradited from Japan and reunited with an NJ parent.

But check this out: After abducting daughter Karina in 2008 to Japan from husband Moises Garcia (who was then awarded custody in America), Inoue had the nerve to drop by Hawaii last April and try to renew her green card. Arrested and sent to Wisconsin to face trial, Inoue was given a choice in November by the court: spend a decade or so in jail, or return Karina to Garcia by Christmas. Inoue chose the latter, and Karina was back by Dec. 23 (the mother, incidentally, will remain in the U.S. with visitation rights — a better deal than NJ in Japan ever get in custody battles).

The Karina Garcia case brought further attention to Japan’s insane system of child custody (see Zeit Gists, Aug. 9, 2011Sept. 21 andSept. 28, 2010Jan. 26 , and Feb. 2, 2010; and Just Be Cause Oct. 6, 2009), and made it clear to Japanese abductors that outstanding arrest warrants will be enforced.

Unfortunately, the Japanese public is again getting the pixelated version (e.g., Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 24): Poor Karina, who reportedly wants to live in Japan, is forced to live in America to “save her mother” (never mind that her irresponsible mother put everyone in this position in the first place). A victory for the rule of law is yet again spun into victimhood for Japanese.

8.  Olympus whistle-blowing

News photo

The slimy practices of Olympus Corp. garnered a great deal of press this year, thanks to former CEO Michael Woodford’s refusal to go quietly. After raising questions about odd corporate expenditures, Woodford was sacked in October for “a management style incompatible with traditional Japanese practices” — meaning Woodford, whose superhuman tenacity got him from entry level in 1980 to corporate head, was fired for not abdicating his responsibilities.

That an international company would immediately invoke culture to defend their criminality is testament to so much of what is wrong with Japanese corporations. But also consider the plight of NJ employees like Woodford, promised during the bubble years that fluency in Japanese, hard work, sacrifice and company loyalty would bring opportunities. Decades later, it turns out their contributions matter not one whit if they ever speak up with integrity; in the end, they’re just another gaijin out on their ear. “Tradition,” indeed.

As it is unlikely this scandal will lead to any cleanup of Japan’s tribal (and consequently corrupt) corporate culture, the unfortunate lesson is: Don’t work for a Japanese company as an NJ and expect equality and upward mobility.

7.  Death during deportation

News photo

Whatever you might think of visa overstayers, few would argue it is a capital offense. Yet the death of Abubakar Awadu Suraj (ZG, Nov. 1) in March 2010, while being bundled onto an airplane back to Ghana, raised eyebrows not only because of the brutality of his treatment by government officials, but also because of the predictable results when it went to court this year: The domestic media either downplayed or ignored it, foreign media were stonewalled, and investigations by both police watchdogs and the judiciary stalled.

This horrific event confirmed, along with the suspiciously unsolved deaths of Scott Kang and Matthew Lacey (ZG, Sep. 6), that foreigners’ lives are essentially held in low regard by Japan’s police forces (ZG, March 24, 2009) and media (in contrast to the hue and cry when a Japanese is murdered overseas, or by a foreigner in Japan). The point is, once Japan’s unaccountable police get their hands on you, your very life is potentially in jeopardy.

6.  Oita denial of benefits overturned

News photo

In 2008, Oita Prefecture heartlessly rejected a welfare application from a 78-year-old Chinese (a permanent resident born in Japan) because she is somehow still a foreigner. Then, in a shocking ruling on the case two years later, the Oita District Court decreed that NJ are not automatically eligible for social welfare. Finally, in November, this stubborn NJ, in her 80th year, won a reversal at the Fukuoka High Court — on the grounds that international law and treaty created obligations for “refugees (sic) (to be accorded) treatment at least as favorable as that accorded to their nationals.”

What caused the confusion was that in 1981, the Diet decided that revising the public welfare law to eliminate nationality requirements was unnecessary, since practical application already provided NJ with benefits. Three decades later, Oita Prefecture and its district court still hadn’t gotten the memo.

Bravo for this NJ for staying alive long enough to prize her case away from xenophobic local bureaucrats and set congruent legal precedents for all NJ.

5.  Japan as No. 3

News photo

2011 was the year that China’s GDP conclusively rose to second place behind the United States’, meaning Japan had to deal with no longer being the largest, richest and apparently most attractive economy in Asia. Marginalization sank in: More NJ studying Mandarin than Japanese, world media moving offices to Beijing, rich Chinese starting to outspend Japanese worldwide, and the realization that a recessionary/deflationary spiral for two (yes, now two) full decades had enabled others to catch up, if not surpass Japan.

It was time for a rethink, now that Japan’s mercantilist economy, largely intolerant of any standards but its own, was being seen as an untenable modern Galapagos. But fresh ideas from long-ignored resident NJ weren’t forthcoming. For they seemed to be leaving.

News photo

 4.  NJ population drops, again

After an unbroken rise between 1961 and 2009, it was announced last June that the total population of registered foreign residents dropped again in 2010, by another 2.4 percent.

Brazilians, once the workhorses of Japan’s most competitive exporters, fell the most in raw numbers (more than 16 percent), while Chinese, already the largest NJ contingent in Japan, still managed to grow a smidge. But that was before the events of last March . . .

 

News photo

3, 2, 1.  The Fukushima nuclear disaster

A no-brainer, this. The chain reactions set in motion on March 11 illuminated so many things that are wrong with Japan’s current system.

Let’s start with the obvious examples: The unwillingness of TEPCO to come clean with their data, of politicians to forsake petty political games of interference, and of administrators to give proper guidance to people in danger- all of this devastated public faith and trust.

Then the abdication of accountability of people supposedly in charge reached new heights as irradiated land and water spread (e.g., Tepco claimed in court (Aera, Nov. 24) that it no longer “owned” the radiation, and was therefore not liable for decontamination).

Meanwhile, despite a huge amount of volunteer work at the grassroots, official relief efforts were so bungled and corrupted that reconstruction funds were even proposed for free tourist plane tickets and whaling!

Then we get to the outright nastiness and hypocrisy of Japan’s media (and the self-hating gaijin toadies) who accused NJ residents (aka “flyjin”) of deserting their work stations ( JBC, May 3). Never mind that under the same conditions Japanese do the same thing (even encourage others to do so; remember, Japan imported Thai workers during Bangkok’s floods), and that NJ contributions before and during the Tohoku disasters were insufficiently reported and praised.

But the most profound realization of 2011 — arguably the worst year for Japan in my lifetime — is how this society cannot fix itself. As I have argued before ( JBC, April 5 and Oct. 4), the culture of ganbatte (do your best), flippantly said to victims by people largely unaffected by the disaster, is once again giving way to expectations of their gaman (silent endurance). Backed up by a dynamic discouraging people from “spoiling things for everyone else” by daring to speak out or complain, activism gets hamstrung.

Meanwhile, the muzzling of investigative journalism, independent academic research and credible criticism outside of official channels further disempowers the public of their right to know.

Conclusion: Generations under Japan’s control-freak “nanny state” have accustomed people to being told what to do. Yet now the public has been deserted, with neither reliable instructions nor the organization to demand them.

Nothing, short of a major revolution in critical thinking and public action (this time — for the first time — from the bottom up), will change Japan’s destructive system of administration by unaccountable elites.

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

2011 was the year the world realized Japan has peaked. Its aging and increasingly-conservative public is trapped in a downward spiral of economic stagnation and inept governance. It is further burdened by an ingrained mistrust of the outsider ( JBC, Oct. 7, 2008) as well as by blind faith in a mythology of uniqueness, powerlessness as a virtue, and perpetual victimhood.

Japan has lost its attractiveness as a place for newcomers to live and settle, since they may be outright blamed for Japan’s troubles, if not ostracized for daring to fix them. Now, thanks to the continuous slow-burn disaster of Fukushima, anyone (who bothers to listen anymore) can now hear the doors of Japan’s historically cyclical insularity slowly creaking shut.

ARUDOU Debito’s novel “In Appropriate” is now on sale (www.debito.org/inappropriate.html) Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Twitter @arudoudebito. Send comments on this issue to community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

UPDATE: Post-divorce J child abductor Inoue Emiko DOES get book thrown at her in Milwaukee court, will return abducted child to custodial NJ father

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

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Hi Blog. As was reported on Debito.org last October 28 regarding the issue of Japan as safe haven for international child abductions, the US courts looked like they actually might start enforcing their arrest warrants against Japanese child abductors.  In this case, against a Japanese woman named Inoue Emiko who reportedly whisked the kid off to Japan despite a US court awarding the father, Moises Garcia, custody.  Then Inoue used the time-honored tactic of abducting the kid anyway and getting a Japanese court to award her the kid instead regardless (with a gracious 30-day per year visitation allowed; thanks a heap).  Then she presumptuously decided to have her cake and eat it too, coming back to Hawaii last April to renew her Green Card, whereupon the authorities honored the arrest warrant against her and sent her to stand trial in Wisconsin (leaving the kid in limbo with the grandparents in Japan).

Back in October I said that enough is enough, and that the American judiciary should throw the book at her.  Well, guess what — they did, and it looks as though the mother will return the child to the custodial father.  Bravo!  Read on.  Let that be a lesson to you, child abductors, and let that be an incentive for Japan to sign the Hague Convention. Note, however, the update regarding the J-media’s domestic spin after the article. Arudou Debito

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Plea agreement reached in international custody case

Mother agrees to have daughter returned from Japan to Wisconsin
Nov. 21, 2011, Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), courtesy of SC
http://www.jsonline.com/news/crime/plea-deal-may-be-struck-in-custody-case-3135858-134270968.html

Karina Garcia’s mother agreed in court Monday to have the girl home in Fox Point by Christmas.

If she makes it, the 9-year-old would be the first of what advocates say are more than 300 children around the U.S. abducted to Japan in violation of American court orders to be returned through legal intervention.

She also could become a poster child for how to solve a growing problem as international marriages increase in the global economy.

The girl’s father, Moises Garcia, was pleased but cautious in talking to reporters after the hearing, where his ex-wife, Emiko Inoue, pleaded no contest to the felony charge of interfering with child custody by other parent. She was found guilty, but a plea agreement could leave her with only a misdemeanor conviction if Karina returns and Inoue completes other conditions.

Garcia has been working to bring his daughter home since Inoue fled with her to Inoue’s native Japan in February 2008, shortly after Garcia, 39, filed for divorce.

“Divorces are tough for everybody, but when there are cultural differences, it’s very hard to deal with that,” said Garcia, a physician and native of Nicaragua. The couple’s daughter was born in Wisconsin.

He said Inoue, 43, has brainwashed his daughter and alienated her affections for him during the time in Japan, but he’s confident that if the child comes home, she will be able to get the help she needs to deal with the psychological impact of the ordeal.

Japan is the only G7 country not part of an international compact about child abduction. Japan does not assist in returning children to parents with legal custody in other countries, nor does it extradite Japanese charged with crimes related to child abduction or custody interference elsewhere, such as Inoue.

Global Future, a group that advocates for parents whose children have been taken by their other parent to foreign countries, claims Japanese officials in the United States assist in such crimes by granting new passports and visas to Japanese trying to flee with their children.

The group’s founder and secretary, both Californians trying to get children back from Japan, attended Inoue’s hearing in Milwaukee. So did officials from the foreign ministry office of the Japanese consulate in Chicago. They declined to comment on the Global Future claims, or about Inoue’s case.

“We’ve had children returned from South Korea, Iran, Cameroon, Libya and Egypt, but we can’t get any back from a supposedly friendly country, Japan,” said Patrick Braden, CEO and founder of Global Future. His 11-month-old daughter was kidnapped and taken to Japan in 2006.

“This case really does have worldwide implications,” Braden said.

Fuji TV, a Japanese network, also was covering Monday’s hearing.

Inoue was arrested in April when she visited Hawaii to renew her U.S. permanent residency status. She was extradited to Wisconsin and was being held in the Milwaukee County Jail. She appeared in court Monday with her attorney, Bridget Boyle, wearing a dark blue jail suit and glasses.

In response to questions from Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Mel Flanagan, Inoue said she didn’t agree that she had committed all the elements of the crime, but agreed the state could prove her guilty. The felony is punishable by up to 7½ years in prison. If Inoue ultimately were convicted of a misdemeanor, she would likely be sentenced to the time she’s served since her arrest.

District Attorney John Chisholm noted that a felony conviction would probably also have prevented Inoue from remaining in the U.S. He said he thinks Inoue’s prosecution may still deter others, while allowing a chance for Karina to benefit from contact with both parents.

Inoue still has the option to seek visitation rights or changes in custody through family court.

Monday was to have been the continuation of a nonjury trial that began in October, but Boyle told the judge that during nearly four hours of discussion with her client, she agreed to the plea arrangement.

“Hopefully, this is an action in the best interests of the child,” Flanagan said.

Karina is currently living with her maternal grandparents in Japan. Garcia was granted full legal custody in Milwaukee County Circuit Court in 2008. He’s gone further than most people in his situation, said his attorney, James Sakar, and won legal custody from Japanese courts.

The problem, Sakar and Braden explained, is that the centuries-old Japanese civil legal system does not give those courts any enforcement powers.

Sakar said the particulars of Karina’s return to Wisconsin had not yet been worked out.

Braden, who has lobbied dozens of high-ranking officials in Washington, D.C., about the problem, said Monday’s deal was “almost there.” He said advocates for left-behind parents would have preferred a guilty plea and really would like to see U.S. authorities prosecute Japanese diplomatic officials and anyone else who assists noncustodial parents in taking children abroad.

“It’s a great step in the right direction,” he said.

ENDS
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UPDATE: Here’s what I’m hearing on my Facebook as feedback:

“A quick search on youtube came up with a great news report of her in cuffs as well http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeUqio_GDdw

“Some of the Japanese media (like the Mainichi) didn’t bother mentioning her name while I heard Fuji pixled out her face.”

“TBS report says the mother is claiming domestic violence as the reason for the abduction.”

So then there’s this whole other dimension about how the Japanese press is going to encircle and protect their own, as has been mentioned here both above and before, I haven’t found any Japanese media which will call this event a “kidnapping”, despite the ruling by this American court. Yomiuri’s NNN TV has even blocked out her face and refused to mention her name at all as a felon:

Well, for the record, here is a picture of Inoue Eriko in all her glory, courtesy Sentinel Journal. Including handcuffs. Live with it, Japan — child abduction is a crime and those who engage in it are criminals, even if they are Japanese. Trying to reflexively make a victim out of a criminal just makes our media look biased and incongruous.


ENDS

UPDATE TWO:  Convicted felon Inoue Emiko returns the child and gets released from the clink.  Bravo.  And of course, the Japanese media still refuses to use her name in the domestic press. Or even call what she did a crime. Check out the wording below: “arrested on suspicion of taking her 9-year-old daughter to Japan in violation of the father’s parental rights, the father’s lawyer said“. Those pesky lawyers and their allegations; never mind the conviction and sentencing by a judge. She abducts the kid, tries to game the USG by coming back to renew her Green Card, and after all that still has visitation rights in America. All right for some, isn’t it? Try getting this fair a deal in Japan. But again, fairness is not a highly-prized cultural conceit for Team Japanners. Now how about that biased and incongruous reportage.  As can be expected, the disingenuous slant is that the Japanese are the victims and sacrificers.  The Japanese article claims the daughter “wanted to live in Japan”, but once told of the situation, “went to America to save her mother” according to the very different headline.  What a trooper!  Especially after being put in this position by her irresponsible mother in the first place!

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Japan woman freed in U.S. after returning daughter
The Yomiuri Shimbun, December 25, 2011, courtesy of AR
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T111224002655.htm

A Japanese woman has been released from custody in the United States as a result of a plea bargain after being arrested on suspicion of taking her 9-year-old daughter to Japan in violation of the father’s parental rights, the father’s lawyer said Saturday.

Based on the plea bargain, the 43-year-old woman from Hyogo Prefecture returned the daughter to the girl’s 39-year-old Nicaraguan father. The girl had been staying at the home of the woman’s parents in the prefecture.

The woman took the girl to Japan from the United States during divorce proceedings in a U.S. court. The court later granted the divorce and gave custody of the girl to the man.

According to lawyers for the man and the woman, the girl left Japan with her grandmother on Friday and was handed over to the man at a U.S. airport.

The girl said at first that she wanted to live in Japan. However, when she was told about the plea bargain, she understood her return to the United States would “save her mother,” the lawyers said.

The woman will continue to live in the United States and will have visitation rights, according to the lawyers.

The woman was arrested in the United States in April after the father filed a criminal complaint in the case. After realizing she faced a possible long prison sentence if found guilty, she agreed to the plea bargain in November, lawyers said.
(Dec. 25, 2011)

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9歳長女、母を助けに米へ…司法取引で釈放
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20111224-OYT1T00472.htm
米国でニカラグア出身の男性(39)と離婚した兵庫県の女性(43)が、離婚訴訟中に長女(9)を日本に連れ帰ったとして米国州法の親権妨害罪に問われ、身柄拘束されていた問題で、男性側の日本での代理人弁護士は24日、女性が釈放されたことを明らかにした。

同県内の女性の実家にいた長女を、米国の男性側に引き渡すことなどを釈放の条件にした米国の検察側と女性側との間で成立していた司法取引に基づき釈放された。

男性、女性双方の日本の代理人弁護士によると、長女は23日、祖母に付き添われて出国し、米国の空港で男性に引き渡された。長女は当初、「日本で暮らしたい」と訴えたが、司法取引を理解し、「ママを助けに行く」と納得したという。女性は釈放後米国で暮らすため、長女に面会できるという。

女性は4月に米国で身柄を拘束され、刑事裁判で無罪を主張してきたが、有罪なら刑務所に長期間収容される恐れがあり、11月下旬に司法取引に合意していた。
(2011年12月24日15時05分 読売新聞)

ENDS

The tug of war continues: Fukuoka High Court overrules Oita District Court that doubted, then affirmed, Oita Prefectural Govt’s denial of welfare benefits to superannuated NJ Permanent Resident

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

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Hi Blog. Last November I mentioned in my Debito.org Newsletter about this weird case of administrative exclusionism and atypical jurisprudence in Japan, thus:

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16) Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits

Kyodo: A Japanese court repealed on Thursday a decision by Oita Prefecture in southwestern Japan not to examine a request from a 78-year-old Chinese woman to look into a decision by Oita City that rejected her application for welfare benefits.

A three-judge panel at the Oita District Court acted on a suit filed by the woman, who has obtained permanent residency status in Japan, against the Oita prefectural government decision that turned away the woman’s request, filed in February last year, to examine the Oita municipal government decision not to provide welfare benefits to her.

The prefectural government dismissed the woman’s request without examining it, saying she was not eligible to seek benefits because she does not have Japanese nationality.

In Thursday’s ruling, the district court said the prefectural government must review the municipal government decision in line with the woman’s request, and decide whether she should be given benefits.

Presiding Judge Kenji Kanamitsu brushed aside the prefectural government’s argument that the city’s decision not to provide her with benefits was a ”unilateral administrative action” against a foreigner who has no right to seek welfare benefits, and not an ”administrative decision” as she claimed, whose appropriateness can be reviewed under the administrative appeal law.

Judge Kanamitsu said the woman is ”obviously” eligible to ask the prefectural government to review the municipal government decision.

”An application for welfare benefits has been rejected, and it means the same to the applicants, regardless of their nationalities,” the judge said…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7563

BUT

17) Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.

After a half-month interlude of light and reason (as in September 30 to October 18), where it actually looked like a Japanese courtroom was actually going to be nice to somebody and rule against The State, another court has come along and put things back to normal:

Mainichi: The Oita District Court ruled on Oct. 18 that foreigners with the right to permanent residence but without Japanese citizenship are not entitled to welfare benefits, rejecting the claims of a 78-year-old Chinese woman who sued after being denied benefits by the Oita city government…

According to the ruling, the woman has Chinese nationality but was born in Japan and holds the right to permanent residence. In December 2008, the woman applied to the welfare office in Oita city for welfare payments, but was turned down with the reason that she had “a comfortable amount of money” in her savings.

The main issues of the trial became whether the woman held the right as a foreigner to receive welfare payments and whether her financial status justified her receiving aid…”

COMMENT: Gee, that was quick by Japanese judicial standards! I guess they know the value of putting the kibosh on something before the floodgates open: Can’t have all the goddamn foreigners expecting to have rights to something like our social welfare benefits, especially at an advanced age.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7639

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Then, as the clock continues to run out for this superannuated NJ, we now have another flip, fortunately in the more inclusive direction:

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Court rules noncitizens are eligible for welfare
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 17, 2011), courtesy of lots of people
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T111116006297.htm

FUKUOKA–The Fukuoka High Court ruled Tuesday that permanent residents in in Japan with foreign nationalities are eligible to receive public welfare assistance, overturning a lower court ruling.

The high court accepted an appeal by a 79-year-old woman who is a permanent resident in Japan with Chinese nationality. She filed the lawsuit, claiming that the Oita city government illegally rejected her request for public welfare assistance.

Presiding Judge Hiroshi Koga said in the ruling, “Foreign citizens with permanent residency [in Japan] are legally guaranteed the same status as Japanese citizens who receive the same treatment.”

The high court overturned the Oita District Court’s ruling and nullified the Oita city government’s decision not to grant the woman public welfare benefits.

According to a lawyer for the plaintiff, it is the nation’s first court ruling to present a legal basis for foreign permanent residents in Japan to receive public welfare benefits.

According to the ruling, the woman applied for the public welfare at the Oita city government in December 2008, but the city government rejected her request.

The point at issue in the lawsuit was whether the Daily Life Protection Law can be applied to noncitizens.

Article 1 of the law limits recipients to Japanese citizens. As for non-Japanese residents, each local government has made respective judgments based on a 1954 notice issued by the then Health and Welfare Ministry, which said the law would be applied with some modification.

Though there are many foreign permanent residents in Japan who receive public welfare benefits, their eligibility has not been legally guaranteed.

The high court ruling noted Diet deliberations in 1981 on ratifying the U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which stipulates that countries “shall accord to refugees within their territories treatment at least as favorable as that accorded to their nationals.”

At the time, the Diet presented a view that Japan would not need to revise the Daily Life Protection Law to eliminate nationality clauses in it because the government has already been applying the law with necessary modifications.

The high court judged that the Japanese government had at that moment become obliged under international law to provide public welfare assistance to foreign residents in the country.

The high court also pointed out that the central government in 1990 limited the range of noncitizen recipients to those with permanent resident status in terms of management of the public welfare system.

ENDS

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永住外国人に生活保護受給権認める、大分市逆転敗訴

(2011年11月16日 読売新聞)

http://kyushu.yomiuri.co.jp/news/national/20111116-OYS1T00215.htm

大分市が生活保護申請を却下したのは違法として、永住資格を持つ中国籍の女性(79)が市を相手取り、却下取り消しなどを求めた訴訟の控訴審判決が15日、福岡高裁であった。古賀寛裁判長は「永住資格を持つ外国人は日本人と同様の待遇を受ける地位が法的に保護されている」として、原告敗訴の1審・大分地裁判決を覆し、市の却下処分を取り消した。原告弁護団によると、永住外国人に生活保護を受ける法的根拠を示した判決は全国で初めて。

判決によると女性の両親は中国人で、1932年に京都市で生まれた。夫の親族から預金通帳などを取り上げられて生活資金に困り、2008年12月、大分市に生活保護を申請。市は「銀行に預金が相当額ある」として却下した。

訴訟の争点は生活保護法が外国人に適用されるかどうかだった。同法1条では対象を国民に限定し、外国人については旧厚生省が54年に出した「法を準用する」との通知に基づき、各自治体が適否を判断してきた。自治体の裁量に任されており、外国人の権利は法的に保障されていない。

今回の高裁判決は、政府が81年、「難民などに対し自国民と同一待遇を与える」とする国連難民条約への批准に伴う国会審議で、法が準用されているため国籍条項撤廃などの改正は必要ないとの見解を示した点を重視。この時点で、国は外国人への生活保護について国際法上などでの法的義務を負ったと認定した。

ENDS

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

大分・生活保護訴訟:永住外国人も対象 福岡高裁、法的根拠認める判決
毎日新聞 2011年11月16日 東京朝刊
http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20111116ddm041040099000c.html

永住資格を持つ大分市の中国籍の女性(79)が、外国籍であることなどを理由に生活保護申請を却下した大分市の処分取り消しを求めた訴訟の控訴審判決が15日、福岡高裁であった。古賀寛裁判長は「一定範囲の外国人も生活保護法の準用による法的保護の対象になる」と述べ、1審判決を取り消し、市の却下処分を取り消した。原告側弁護団によると永住外国人について生活保護を受ける法的根拠を示した判決は初めて。弁護団は「外国人の保護申請や不服申し立てに影響する画期的判決」と評価している。

判決によると、女性は日本で生まれ育ち母語も日本語。夫とともに不動産業で生活していたが夫は病気になり、親族から預金通帳を取り上げられ、生活に困窮。08年12月、市に生活保護を申請したが「女性名義の預金が相当額ある」として却下されたため提訴した。

生活保護法は受給者を日本国民に限定しているが、旧厚生省は1954年、外国人に生活保護法を準用するよう都道府県に通知。更に81年の国連難民条約批准を受け、90年には対象を永住外国人に限定するよう通知し「贈与的性格の行政措置」として永住外国人には事実上、生活保護費を支給した。

1審・大分地裁は昨年10月、生活保護法が国民に限定していることなどから女性の請求を却下した。

控訴審判決で古賀裁判長は、政府が通知などで永住外国人に生活保護費を支給し続けてきた経緯に言及。「国が一定範囲の外国人に対し日本国民に準じた生活保護法上の待遇を与えることを認めた」と指摘し、原告女性を保護対象と判断した。【岸達也】

ENDS
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COMMENT: Okay, that’s good news and a good precedent. Glad they took it away from the denizens of Oita, who clearly started saying “Chotto…” to the petty bureaucrats, then backtracked within two weeks as the wagons encircled to rule against the alleged foreigner (I would like to hear more about her, i.e., if she is in fact a Zainichi or not — there is a difference between ippan eijuusha and tokubetsu eijuusha, after all, and that will be noted by any legal exceptionalists who want to stop further positive precedent building). But the fact that she’s born here, raised here, speaks Japanese as her native language, and is approaching eighty years of age, yet STILL was denied benefits by heartless bureaucrats, backed up by the judiciary, is more than a bit scary. If this gets appealed to the Supreme Court (after all, the GOJ is a sore loser in court), I hope the judges are in a good mood when they start deliberating. Maybe we should send them sweets. Arudou Debito

Yomiuri: Muslims file suit over National Police Agency antiterror investigations

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

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Hi Blog.  As a follow-up to what Debito.org covered last November, here is a Yomiuri article showing how those targeted by the Japanese police for investigation simply due to religious practices are taking action in court to defend themselves.  Here’s hoping the police are found culpable, for a change.  Big Japan Times expose on this issue here.  Arudou Debito

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Muslims file suit over antiterror investigations

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 18, 2011)
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T110517004955.htm
Courtesy of JK

A group of 14 Muslims has filed suit against the central and Tokyo metropolitan governments, demanding 154 million yen in compensation for violations of privacy and religious freedom after police antiterrorism documents containing their personal information were leaked onto the Internet.

The lawsuit filed at the Tokyo District Court accused the Metropolitan Police Department and the National Police Agency of systematically gathering their personal information, including on religious activities and relationships, merely because they are Muslims.

The lawsuit also alleged that after the information was leaked last October, the MPD failed to take sufficient action to prevent its spread.

In late November, a Tokyo-based publisher released a book carrying the leaked documents.

After the leak, “The plaintiffs were presumed to be international terrorism suspects. They were forced to leave their jobs and live apart from their families,” the petition filed Monday at the court claimed.

The MPD has said it is highly likely the leaked documents included internal information from its Public Security Bureau, and has been investigating the leak on suspicion of obstruction of police operations since December.

At a Monday press conference in Tokyo, one plaintiff said: “It’s been six months since the leak, but there’s been no [official police] apology. I haven’t been able to see my family and my life is full of anxiety.”
ENDS

Chris Savoie wins US court award of $6.1 million against ex-wife for breach of contract, emotional distress, and false imprisonment of his children in Japan

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

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DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog. Congratulations to Chris Savoie on his massive U.S. court victory against his ex-wife for, inter alia, false imprisonment of his children in Japan.

Debito.org has talked about the Savoie Case for quite some time now (do a search), but I devoted a Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column to it back in October 2009. I’m personally glad he’s staying the course, and seeking judicial recourse that is amounting to legally-binding agreement. This is setting an important precedent regarding the issue of international child abduction, and drawing attention to a long-neglected problem. Arudou Debito

PS: Note the lame (if not just plain inaccurate) headline by the Japan Times/Kyodo News on this, “Wife fined for taking children to Japan“; makes it sound like she got punished for being a tourist. Get on the ball. Call it what it is: Child abduction.

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Order for ex-wife to pay millions doesn’t make up for time lost with kids, says Franklin father
Court rules mom who took kids to Japan owes $6.1M
The Tennesseean, May 10, 2011
http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110510/NEWS03/305100033/Dad-whose-ex-wife-moved-kids-to-Japan-says-6M-win-bittersweet-

A mother who left Middle Tennessee with her two young children to live permanently in her native Japan — leaving behind an ex-husband with joint custody rights — has been ordered to pay the father $6.1 million in damages.

But Christopher J. Savoie of Franklin said the money alone is a hollow victory. He hopes the ruling will help end a battle he has waged since 2009 to bring the children home.

“Anything about this just reopens a lot of wounds. It’s bittersweet,” said Christopher Savoie, who said he hasn’t been allowed even to speak to Isaac, 10, and Rebecca, 8, in more than a year. “At the end of the day, I’d much rather have one afternoon in the park with my kids than one penny of this judgment.”

Shortly after Noriko Esaki Savoie permanently moved with the children to Japan, a Williamson County court gave Christopher Savoie full custody, and the Franklin Police Department issued an arrest warrant for Noriko Savoie charging her with custodial interference. But because of domestic laws pertaining to custody and divorce, Japan will not help the United States resolve parental abductions to the country. The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues reports that it “does not have a record of any cases resolved through a favorable Japanese court order or through the assistance of the Japanese government.”

In March, Noriko Savoie was charged in federal court with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, and an arrest warrant was issued. That effort also has failed so far.

“My understanding is we don’t have an extradition agreement with Japan as it relates to parental kidnapping,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Daughtrey said. “As far as I know, nothing has been done.”

Christopher Savoie believes Monday’s ruling may open a door. His attorney, Joseph A. “Woody” Woodruff of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, said that while Japan won’t enforce U.S. judgments that pertain to custody or otherwise order Japanese citizens to “do the right thing,” they will enforce money judgments.

“They will enforce orders that assess damages for breach of contract and civil wrongs,” Woodruff said. “This is a tool we’re going to try to use to convince Noriko Savoie she needs to do the right thing.”

Williamson County Chancery Court Judge Tim Easter announced the damages Monday, having previously found Noriko Savoie guilty of three crimes in September. Easter ordered Noriko Savoie to pay Christopher Savoie more than $1 million for breach of contract and the intentional infliction of emotional distress. She was ordered to pay Christopher Savoie $1.1 million, to be held for the benefit of the children, for falsely imprisoning them since August 2009. Easter ordered Noriko Savoie to pay additional damages for each day she continues to falsely imprison the children up to a maximum of $4 million.

“Every day, she has another chance to lower the amount of damages,” Christopher Savoie said. “Noriko is not an enemy here. She’s just got to do the right thing here.”

Noriko Savoie was not represented at the hearing. Marlene Moses, an attorney who represented Noriko Savoie in 2009, said she no longer represents her and is unfamiliar with the latest developments.

“She chose to ignore these proceedings,” Woodruff said. “She was served in person in Japan.”

In a related proceeding, Savoie is suing Williamson County Judge James G. Martin III for negligence and violations of his constitutional rights. Martin was the judge who lifted a restraining order on the children’s passports so that Noriko Savoie could take them on a six-week trip to Japan. He did so after Noriko Savoie promised at a hearing that she would not permanently move there. She returned from the trip as scheduled, but left again shortly thereafter and has remained in Japan since.

U.S. District Court Judge Aleta A. Trauger dismissed the case in December after ruling that Martin has judicial immunity. Savoie has taken the case to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Woodruff said Christopher Savoie’s lawyers in Japan are working to “domesticate” Easter’s orders. Christopher Savoie said he is frustrated the laws of Japan have left him with no other choice than to seek a large money judgment against his ex-wife, but hopes it will compel her to at least talk to him.

“I would much rather her return the kids than see 1 cent of this money,” he said. “I feel disappointed that the only thing we can do is ask for money. Even God can’t buy me back the year and a half I’ve missed. I feel bad for the judge even having to put a number on it.”

Contact Brandon Gee at bgee@tennessean.com

ENDS

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

Ex-R.I. man wins $6.1 million in custody case
The Providence Journal, Tuesday, May 10, 2011
By Richard C. Dujardin, Journal Staff Writer
http://www.projo.com/news/content/JAPAN_CUSTODY_05-10-11_3JO0LTA_v14.348c536.html

Christopher Savoie, a former Rhode Islander who drew international attention when he was thrown into a Japanese prison in 2009 for trying to recover his two children from his Japanese ex-wife by grabbing them as they walked to school, has won a $6.1-million judgment against his former wife.

But in an interview from his home in Franklin, Tenn., the University of Rhode Island and Bishop Hendricken High School graduate called the award issued by Franklin Chancellor Timothy Easter a “two-edged sword” in that it gives his ex-wife a strong financial incentive “to do the right thing” and allow him to see his two children, but there is no guarantee that he’ll see his 10-year-old son, Isaac, and 8-year-old daughter, Rebecca, before they reach 20, the age of majority in Japan.

“It’s bittersweet, because rather than getting any money, I’d much rather be in the park playing with my kids. No amount of money can compensate for that time with the kids,” said Savoie.

Along with his second wife, Amy, another former Rhode Islander who began a career in immunology at URI, Savoie, 40, became enmeshed in an international custody battle that unfolded two years after Christopher, who had achieved international stature as an innovator in biotechnology, returned to the United States with his children and Japanese wife, Noriko, in the hope of starting another business.

Not long after the couple arrived, Christopher sued for a divorce, and two months after being granted the divorce decree in January 2009, married Amy, whom he had known since his days at URI. Savoie says that, as part of the settlement, his ex-wife agreed to provide him custody of the children in exchange for a monthly payment of $5,500 along with other payments for their education.

Then, just days after Christopher and Amy gathered with friends and relatives and their two young children at a waterside restaurant in East Greenwich to celebrate their six-month wedding anniversary, Noriko told Savoie and the judge in Tennessee that she wanted to take the children on a brief vacation in Japan before they resumed school in the United States. It was only when the Savoies saw that there was no planned trip back that they began to suspect that their children had been abducted.

Savoie says that contrary to some reports in the media, his two children had always been brought up in an English-speaking environment. Isaac, who was born in California and went to preschool in the United Kingdom, scored in the 98th percentile on the standardized English test in Tennessee, and Rebecca was doing well, also.

In fact, he says, when he came upon their children on the street in Japan, their mother was walking closely behind because she needed to interpret for them because they were not fluent in Japanese. Savoie thought he could whisk them off the street, carry them off to the U.S. Consulate and bring them back to the U.S., only to see his plan foiled when officials at the consulate did not open the door and allowed him to be arrested by Japanese police.

Despite the exposure provided by his nearly three-week imprisonment, Savoie said he has not seen his children again. Every time he attempts to reach the children by phone, their grandparents hang up on him.

Savoie said his anxieties increased significantly after the Japanese earthquake and nuclear disaster. He said that while he was told the children are safe, by his calculations, “they are within the nuclear fallout zone.”

Savoie said the events of the last few days have given him some new hope. The judgement issued by a Tennessee court on Monday is designed to get his ex-wife’s cooperation by cutting off any future financial payments by her as soon as she agrees to return the children.

Although the court system in Japan recognizes that he has been awarded custody of the children by a Tennessee court, the problem is that Japan has no way of enforcing the custody settlement, Savoie said, but it does have a method of enforcing the financial penalties. “We have a set of lawyers waiting in the wings” to put in the mechanism to see the judgment implemented.

Savoie said he has also been buoyed by what he says is a recent announcement by Japan that it plans to sign the Hague Convention on international child abduction, a move that would make it easier for international parents to recover their children who have been taken in custody disputes.

In the meantime, Savoie said the international custody battle has caused him and Amy to reconsider their calling. Instead of immunology, both are now students at Nashville School of Law in the hope that they may be able to help parents of other children — including some 300 in Japan alone — who have been abducted by spouses and are being held in Japan.

rdujardi@projo.com
ENDS

JT’s Philip Brasor on BBC QI show and atomic-bombings and “victim ownership of historical narrative”

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Here’s an excellent column on the recent “humor” segment on the BBC show QI, derided by officials and family as “insensitive” because it was connected to the Japan atomic bombings.  The author then links it to the issue of DPRK abductions of Japanese, where deviation from the official line of “they’re still alive over there” is taboo, and comes up with an interesting conclusion:  He who owns the “narrative” on this history (particularly as a victim) gets to dictate how it is represented in the media.  Very insightful indeed.  I can see how this analytical paradigm can be applied to the realm of human rights and racial discrimination in Japan — how NJ are often not allowed to “own” their own narratives in Japan.  Worth a think about.  Arudou Debito

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MEDIA MIX
Cultural insensitivity no laughing matter
By PHILIP BRASOR

The Japan Times, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20110130pb.html

The tempest in a teapot whipped up by a segment on the British quiz-cum-comedy show “QI” has prompted debate on cross-cultural sensitivity. The BBC has apologized for the segment, which, contrary to a statement issued by Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, did not make fun of its subject, the late Tsutomu Yamaguchi, who was a victim in both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. If anything, it made fun of the British railway system, which was found wanting in comparison to Japan’s.

The main complaint is that any exploitation of the atomic bombings for the purposes of levity is hurtful to the survivors, their families and the Japanese people in general, regardless of the content or target of the joke. The laughs, in this instance, were evinced by the irony of the situation: A man who was burned in one atomic bombing was able to board a train to go to a city where he suffered — and survived — another. Depending on your threshold for humor, insult was added to injury when some of the guests on the show tried to make jokes (“He never got the train again, I tell you”), which is what they’re paid to do.

Just as there’s no accounting for taste, it’s difficult to make a case for comedy that may strike some as being in bad form, especially when the gag isn’t particularly funny; but the argument here is not really about whether Yamaguchi’s fateful journey qualifies as a cosmic joke. The point is: Who gets to say how people should react to it?

Yamaguchi’s daughter told Kyodo News that her own family had joked about her father’s experience, but that doesn’t mean British people can do the same. The reason they can’t, she said, is that Great Britain is a “country that has nuclear weapons.” But it’s not within the purview of “QI” to make such distinctions. Britain may possess nukes, but the guests on the show certainly don’t; and for all we know they may be opposed to their country’s policy of deterrence. No, the real reason they don’t have a right to joke about Hiroshima, at least from the Japanese critics’ point of view, is that they aren’t atomic bomb victims themselves.

Rest of the article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20110130pb.html
ENDS

Weekend Tangent: Elderly J activists sue GOJ to allow different last names after marriage

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  As a Weekend Tangent, let me direct your attention to an upcoming lawsuit (Japanese do sue too, as activists and awareness-raisers) regarding two issues that are dear to Debito.org:  1) issues of self-determination of personal identity, and 2) the evils of the Koseki system, which not only separate parent from child post-divorce, but also make a person’s name and family relationships and entitlements the domain of The State.  Other people find this objectionable too — enough to brave all the social opprobrium towards lawsuits in this society.  Good luck to them.  I hope they can stay alive long enough to outlast the slow machinations of the Japanese judiciary.  Arudou Debito

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Japan government to face first suit on surnames
Reuters, Tuesday, January 11 2011, By Yoko Kubota, courtesy SR

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/22/20110111/tsc-oukoe-uk-japan-surnames-011ccfa.html

After nearly fifty years of persevering with a life under her husband’s surname, 75-year-old Kyoko Tsukamoto is taking the Japanese government to court so that she can at least bear her own name when she dies.

“My husband and I still love each other, but this and the issue of Tsukamoto are different,” she said.

The former teacher uses her maiden name, but due to Japanese civil law requirements she had to take her husband’s name when she married to make the union legal.

But debate over the surname issue, long a sore point with some women, has heated up as more women stay in jobs after marriage and juggle two names — their maiden name at work and their registered name on legal documents.

“I thought that I would get used to my husband’s name, but I could not, and a sense of loss grew inside me,” Tsukamoto said.

“Now I am 75 and I was shocked to realise that I can’t do things anymore that I used to be able to do last year. That’s when I thought that I am Kyoko Tsukamoto and I want to die as Kyoko Tsukamoto.”

Tsukamoto is one of five people planning to file a lawsuit against the government and local authorities as early as February, saying the civil code that requires married couples to register under the same surname violates equal rights among married couples, as well as personal rights.

Men are allowed to take their spouses’ name, but it is rare.

The group will seek compensation for what it says is the legislature’s failure to enact change, the first such case to be debated in open court in Japan, the only country in the Group of Eight major industrialised nations with such a surname rule.

Hopes grew that the government would submit a bill to amend the civil code after the Democratic Party of Japan, which has advocated letting married couples keep separate names if they wish, took power in 2009. But opposition from a coalition ally caused the plan to stall.

“There were expectations that it could be enacted but unfortunately this did not take place. They do not want to wait any longer,” said Fujiko Sakakibara, lead lawyer for the group.

TRADITIONAL FAMILY

The rule is tied to Japan’s traditional concept of the family, which in the past ensured that property, businesses, and surnames were passed on to men within the family unit.

Some say it is outdated. In certain cases, couples repeat marriages and divorces between each other to avoid having to register their children as out of wedlock births, partly because the civil code limits inheritance rights for such children.

Tsukamoto, with her husband since 1960, is going through her second marriage with him after divorcing once in 1965 to get her maiden name back. They re-married when they had their third child but her husband has rejected requests for a second divorce.

Those against change say it’s a matter of family unity and are wary of the impact on children’s identities. They also warn of a possible increase in divorce.

Tsukamoto began studying women’s issues at the age of 63, after she was freed of duties to nurse her parents. She has since taken up an activist’s role.

“Others were getting by well in society and I have thought that perhaps I was stupid to insist on this … Now things are changing in a good direction, unimaginable in 1960,” she said.
ends

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Japanese marital surname law faces legal challenge
A lawsuit against the government is being launched by five people who claim their constitutional rights are being violated
Justin McCurry in Tokyo, courtesy of the author’s Twitter feed
guardian.co.uk Tuesday 11 January 2011

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/11/japan-marital-surname-law-challenge?CMP=twt_gu

Five people in Japan are poised to launch an unprecedented lawsuit against the government, claiming that a civil law forcing them to choose a single surname after marriage violates their constitutional rights.

If they succeed, married men and women will for the first time be able to retain their own surnames, dealing a blow to one of the few remaining legal obstacles to gender equality.

In the vast majority of cases, women are required to relinquish their maiden name after marriage, although a small number of men take their wife’s name.

Critics say the time has come to modernise the law in Japan, the only G8 nation with laws governing marital surnames.

The plaintiffs argue that the civil code’s requirement that a single surname be chosen contradicts articles of the constitution guaranteeing individual liberty and equal rights to husband and wife. The five are also seeking ¥1m (£7,727) each in compensation from the government.

Kyoko Tsukamoto, who changed her maiden name in the family registry after marrying in 1960 but retained it in daily life, said the law had contributed to a “strong loss of self” and caused psychological damage.

“My husband and I still love each other, but this and the issue of Tsukamoto are different,” said the 75-year-old former teacher. “I thought I would get used to my husband’s name, but I couldn’t. I felt a strong sense of loss growing inside me.”

Opposition from conservative politicians delayed previous attempts to change the law. In 1996 the justice ministry devised an amendment that would give married women the right to retain their maiden names, but the move was blocked by MPs who said it would undermine the family unit.

The current government, led by the centre-left Democratic party, supports a change in the law but has yet to act amid opposition from a minor coalition ally.

“There were expectations that it could be enacted, but unfortunately this did not happen. They do not want to wait any longer,” said the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Fujiko Sakakibara.

The law has forced some couples to take drastic action. Tsukamoto and her husband divorced in 1965 so that she could regain her maiden name, but remarried when she became pregnant because civil law can impinge on the inheritance rights of children born out of wedlock.

Critics say the civil code, enacted in 1896 and amended by the US occupation forces after the second world war, ignores dramatic postwar changes to the role of women in the home and workplace.

The movement for change gathered pace in the 1980s when more women entered the workplace. Many complained that changing their names after marriage was detrimental to their career prospects and affected relationships with colleagues.

Yet the Japanese are divided over the issue: in a 2009 survey 49% said they supported a change in the law, while 48% were opposed.

Women still have to use their registered surnames on official documents such as passports and health insurance cards.

Many companies allow married women to retain their maiden names at work, but for Tsukamoto, who married in 1960, unofficial acceptance is not enough.

“Now I am 75, and I was shocked to realise that I can no longer do the things I was able to do even last year,” she said. “That’s when I thought, I am Kyoko Tsukamoto … and I want to die as Kyoko Tsukamoto.”
ends

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

Historical article on the issue (2004) showing how little the debate has changed in nearly a decade:

The Japan Times, Sunday, March 14, 2004, courtesy Justin McCurry
MEDIA MIX
The twisted terminology in Japan’s marriage system
By PHILIP BRASOR

…Marriage as a legal contract allows the state to regulate what goes on in the bedroom. This is basically the argument put forth by Sumiko Tanaka and Noboru Fukukita, a Japanese couple who live together without the state’s blessing and who have an 18-year-old daughter. Because Tanaka and Fukukita are not married, their daughter’s out-of-wedlock status was indicated in both their residence certificate (juminhyo) and family register (koseki). They have been fighting to have such designations changed since 1988, and while they’ve lost lawsuits in court, their efforts have moved the government to change these discriminatory terms. Justice Minister Daizo Nozawa announced last week that children born out-of-wedlock would be designated in family registers in the same way as children born to married couples, though nothing has really changed. Anyone who reads the family register will be able to tell if a child is born in or out of wedlock. The ministry has made the terms less discriminatory, but the register, which codifies parent-child relationships, is unchanged.

Because the United States sees itself as part of a Judeo-Christian heritage, it can couch the marriage debate in moral terms, even if it’s the authorities who decide who can marry. In Japan, the state is the only arbiter and the koseki the instrument of that arbitration. Immorality, therefore, is defined by the government, and has been since the Meiji Period, when the koseki was established for the purposes of census and tax collecting.

Many Japanese couples, therefore, bridle at the idea that they need the state’s permission to cohabit and have children. Some people may think that the controversy over separate names (bessei) is based on the same thing, but it isn’t. In 1996, the Justice Ministry proposed revisions to the Civil Code that would allow married partners to retain separate surnames. As it stands, a married couple must decide on one name (98 percent take the husband’s).

Conservative politicians have repeatedly shot down any effort to allow separate surnames, saying that bessei undermines the integrity of the family, even though it’s clear that the vast majority of Japanese couples will opt for one name even if they can have separate ones.

The irony is that more couples would get married if they were allowed separate names…

Rest of the article at:
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20040314pb.html

“To De-Sign or Not to De-Sign”: A debate about what to do re exclusionary signs

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. There’s a debate going on between Debito.org Reader OG Steve and myself that is too good to leave buried in a Comments Section. It was occasioned by a recent blog entry about a sign, up at an outlet of bargain haircutter QB House in Tameike Sannou, Tokyo, requiring Japanese language ability for service. OG Steve made the point that he was happy to see an exclusionary sign up that proclaimed clear and present exclusionism (as opposed to the hedging wording of “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”), which in his view actually made discriminatory policies harder to stamp out. I disagreed, as in my view clear and present exclusionary policies, especially in the form of signs like these, encourages proliferation and copycatting, institutionalizes the discrimination, and further weakens civil society’s ability to take action against exclusionism. OG Steve replied that it makes the evidence and case clearer, and thus strengthens the hand of people who wish to take judicial action. I replied… well, read on. Then we’ll open the floor to discussion. It’s a worthy topic, so let’s have at it, and see if we can get some conclusive arguments from other Debito.org Readers as well.

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OG STEVE WRITES:
2011/01/11 at 5:13 pm

Let’s remember that ironically, American businesses DO often have signs which say “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”. D’oh!

http://www.google.com/images?q=“We+reserve+the+right+to+refuse+service+to+anyone”

So when business owners write a sign which gives a reason they are going to refuse service to you (whether it be race, language, whatever) we of course, rightly, get upset about the fact the company is openly announcing their discriminatory practice, but… when business owners write a VAGUE sign which doesn’t give an exact reason they are going to refuse service to you (like “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”) we strangely DON’T complain about these vague signs.

Why don’t we complain about those vague signs? Are we so naive to believe that business owners who put up those vague signs are only going to use their self-proclaimed “right to refuse” strictly in “the appropriate, right, correct” situations?

Of course not, business owners who put up those vague “right to refuse” signs can and do successfully play the ugly game of discrimination like this:

“Yeah, Mr. Lawyer, I hear what you said, you’ve come here to ask me why I kicked your client out of my shop. Well as you can plainly read the sign on the wall says ‘We have the right to refuse service to ANYONE’, it doesn’t specifically say ‘Anyone who does something dangerous’ or ‘Anyone who does something bad’ (which is what you perhaps are naively assuming it to mean) nope, it simply says ‘ANYONE’.

“Now, it seems to me that you are trying to claim that I kicked out your client based on his race, now that’s a serious claim there partner, and furthermore you want me to admit this crime right now to you verbally, so that you can take me to court and easily win a discrimination lawsuit against me.

“Well, my answer is simple: our business never, ever, ever, would do anything illegal, we never have, never do, and never will. Whenever we utilize our god-given supreme-court-upheld Right to Refuse ANYONE from standing on our property and doing business with us, we always refuse for one of the LEGAL reasons, of course, whatever they may happen to be, and finally Mr. Lawyer: we don’t have to answer your questions about the DETAILS of what we we’re thinking during any particular refusal, neither to you nor to a police officer. And even if the police officer, without any admitting testimony from us, were somehow legally able to arrest us on the charge of suspected racial discrimination based on someone’s sob-story, when court time comes around we’ll simply answer “Not guilty”. We don’t have to prove our innocence. This isn’t some country with Napoleonic justice like Japan. This is America. (And worst case, if the judge really wanted to hear a denial, I can claim that the customer’s eyes were darting back and forth suspiciously like someone about to commit a crime or something, and that’s why we kicked him out.) Good luck PROVING that I was thinking racist thoughts, you don’t know what goes on in my mind. That’s why I chose this vague sign. That’s why clubs in America use bouncers who are given secret orders to discriminate about who gets in and who doesn’t get in. See, we have learned how to continue discrimination while simply pretending the discrimination doesn’t exist. You just need a vague sign, or a bouncer who will hide the owners orders about which races are allowed, and which races aren’t.

“Now Mr. Lawyer, you too, it’s your turn to see my utilize my Right to Refusal. Get off my property immediately. And have a nice day!” 🙂

OK, I’ll relate that rant back to the blog post in question by concluding as follows:

At least that branch manager is ADMITTING that he or she discriminates, and that the discrimination is specifically against non-speakers of Japanese.

That’s much more honest than the places in America with those vague refusal signs that DON’T admit the real reason they are going to kick you out, and that’s much more honest than the places who DON’T post the discrimination reality at all: by using Bouncers who refuse entry to certain races using phrases like “club capacity”, “guest list”, and “dress code”.

If the truth of the matter happens to be that that manager of that branch has decided to ban foreigners simply because he doesn’t like them, and the “language” reason on his sign is simply tatemae instead of honne, then forcing him to take down the sign isn’t going to solve the real problem, he’s simply going to throw up the “batsu” sign whenever a “whitey” or “darkey” tries to walk in.

Problem solved for him, he can simply take down the legally dangerous sign while covertly continuing the discriminatory practice. Great. We won, we stopped discrimination! Or will se simply take down the signs and make the discriminators become more covert as in America? 🙂

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

DEBITO REPLIES:
2011/01/11 at 7:24 pm

— It’s not clear what you are advocating here.

Are you extolling the virtues of having clearly exclusionary signs up because the exclusionary attitudes are clearly more “honest”… therefore more honorable? And a therefore a good thing?

OR

Are you decrying the fundamental “dishonesty” of people who really have to work much harder in other societies (“we reserve the right… to refuse service … to anyone”) in order to discriminate — wording their signs or rules more carefully, so as to avoid the mechanisms of societies where anti-discrimination legislation and enforcement authorities are in place?

It’s not as easy as you make out in the second case (i.e. just put up a vague sign and presto, covert and unfettered discrimination). There are plenty of means to make sure the exclusionism is not for reasons related to race (“no shoes, no shirt, no service” — put those on and there’s no excuse; “not on the guest list” — if you can gather enough evidence to make the case that guests are being selected by race, then you’ve got a case for court or for local anti-discrimination authorities to investigate), not to mention entire societies sensitized to the issue to the degree where other extralegal means of applying pressure (boycotts, pickets, bad press, and anti-defamation leagues) are also present. There are plenty of means to investigate and tamp down on discrimination once alleged, and it’s not as much an uphill battle when society clearly frowns upon exclusionary activity — keeping a beady eye on potential transgressors.

But if you prefer the first case just because it’s somehow more “honest” (and you seem to be advocating that the exclusionary sign should stay up — for forcing it to come down merely drives discrimination underground and makes the rules covert), then all those knock-on anti-discrimination means go out the window, since inaction (or action by a tiny vocal minority) makes any protest seem ineffectual, and clear and present exclusionary signs become “the acceptable thing to do”. As history shows, discrimination left untouched merely grows, mutates, and ultimately assumes a self-justifying dynamic of “everyone else is doing it; hey, it’s so widespread that it’s a cultural thing now; it’s just how we do things, and what keeps our society running smoothly and orderly…”

So let’s be clear. You want exclusionary signs to stay up?

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

OG STEVE REPLIES:
2011/01/12 at 1:12 am

I want the victims to be able to make the discriminators PAY, via successful lawsuits.

When a discriminator puts up a sign announcing that he is discriminating against “all foreigners”, a photo of this sign becomes easily admissible evidence of his discriminatory POLICY.

Of course, unfortunately, one needs to be a naturalized Japanese citizen to successfully sue (because the Japanese constitution translators changed “people” to “citizens”) but the main point is this: AT LEAST, with the signs up, a naturalized Japanese citizen can successfully make the discriminators pay, as you did.

If the bathhouse HADN’T stupidly post that sign stating their company policy, if they simply had quietly refused service one-by-one to “gaikoku-DNA-people” that tried to enter, by throwing up the “batsu” sign with their hands WITHOUT explaining why, it would have been MUCH harder for you to have received that 111 man yen.

WITHOUT the sign, if you took them to court, the company could reply, “No no, it’s not our company policy to discriminate against foreigners, not at all. There are a million and one legal reasons why one of our staff might have refused entry to you. And we don’t have to prove which one it was. Just for conversation, here are 2 examples: It’s company policy to follow fire safety rules, and on that day perhaps we simply might have been at capacity. Who knows. And no, we don’t have to prove that we were. Did you happen to collect any proof that we WEREN’T at capacity on that day? No? Then you don’t have proof of a discriminatory policy, you simply have a sob-story and speculation about our inner thoughts. Case closed. It’s also company policy to protect our staff from anyone who “appears” or “seems” to be possibly dangerous, regardless of race, gender, age, etc., and on that day perhaps one of our staff simply might have made a case-by-case judgment call, which is both his right as an employee, and our right as a company. (As they say in America, “We have the right to reserve service to ANYONE, we don’t have to prove the reason each time, we simply can no longer post those explicit ‘No Coloreds’ signs like we used to.) So, did you collect any proof that the staff member who refused you DIDN’T feel you looked dangerous? Of course not. To re-iterate, our company does NOT discriminate against foreigners, and we don’t have to prove our innocence, the onus is on YOU the PLAINTIFF to prove that we have a racially discriminatory policy, and without any sign on the wall… it’s going to be very hard for you to prove. And worst case, even if you prove that the staff member was racist, even if you recorded a verbal conversation with that staff member telling you to get out because you don’t look Japanese, you STILL can’t prove that it was company policy unless you have a photo of a sign or a company manual, so we’ll just quietly “fire” the isolated racist staff member for his “disobeying” our official company policy of “non-discrimination” (and perhaps we’ll rehire him a few months later, after he has been “counseled” and “reformed”, but the main point is, you lose the lawsuit, because you have no proof of a racially discriminatory COMPANY POLICY.”

Debito brother,

I want the naturalized Japanese citizens to take photos of signs which stupidly admit the policy of discrimination, so that the judges will be more likely to rule that the business with the policy of discrimination has to pay the plaintiff.

After we naturalized Japanese citizens get properly paid for the stress of these businesses with openly posted policies of discrimination (say, 7 successful lawsuits per naturalized Japanese citizen = 777 man yen, ka-ching), THEN those racist loser company owners will take down their stupidly-honest signs and start using the clever-hidden legally-unprovable discrimination-techniques: by putting up signs that say “ANYONE” without ever admitting the reason, or by foregoing the signs all together and simply refusing folks one-by-one, case-by-case, without ever admitting the reason.

PS – As I recall, the Japanese constitution doesn’t even forbid PRIVATE COMPANIES from discriminating against Japanese citizens, it simply forbids GOVERNMENTS from discriminating against Japanese citizens. Oops, thanks a lot for that limiting qualification, American writer of Japanese Constitution.

And as I recall, even the American constitution itself doesn’t forbid PRIVATE COMPANIES from discriminating against customers, there simply are STATUTES that forbid discriminatory HIRING practices, which is why companies throughout America openly post signs that say, “Right to refuse ANYONE.”

Final Re-cap:

If the sign says “We refuse Foreigners”, the racist policy is thus posted, it is easy for naturalized citizen victims to get compensation for feelings hurt due to being refused.

If there is no sign, if the racist policy is thus hidden, it becomes almost impossible for victims to get compensation for feelings hurt due to being refused.

And if the sign cleverly says “Right to refuse Anyone”, the racist policy is thus hidden, it becomes almost impossible for victims to get compensation for feelings hurt due to being refused.

I hope you feel me, I’m not trying to be argumentative at all, I’m simply pointing out some facts are ironic, embarrassing, surprising, unjust, often unnoticed, and painful to admit. 🙂

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

DEBITO REPLIES
January 12, 2010, 8AM JST

Thanks for the reply. Some answers:

1) You don’t need to be a naturalized citizen to win against these exclusionary establishments. Ana Bortz (a NJ) won against her exclusionary store without J citizenship. I believe we would have won against Otaru Onsen Yunohana even if I had not naturalized. My being a citizen closed one potential loophole, but it could go either way depending on the judge. And that leads me to my point:

2) Leaving it up to the Japanese judiciary to resolve this situation is extremely risky. We have had at least one other case (Steve McGowan) where we had the manager of a business saying on tape that he doesn’t like black people and he refused Steve because he is black. The judge still refused to rule in Steve’s favor, discovering a technicality he could exploit (which was later fortunately overturned in High Court). Build up enough of these precedents, and you’ll actually arm the defense. I’d prefer not to leave it up to Japanese judges, rather to law enforcement authorities and a clear legal code (hence my need for a law).

3) Leaving it up to naturalized citizens to play “Japanese Only Sign Whack-a-Mole” is untenable, since court cases take years, cost money and great amounts of mental energy, and incur great social opprobrium (given the general distaste for lawsuits in Japanese society). Clear and present evidence is one thing. Advocating that signs stay up as lawsuit bait or legal entrapment is a losing strategy.

4) As I said earlier, exclusionary signs beget more of the same, through copycatting and clear institutionalization of an action. Exclusionary signs must come down, and a legal framework of protections against racial discrimination must be enshrined. That’s asking for a lot at this juncture, so I’ll accept the half-measure having the signs forced down for now, even if that allegedly deprives people of evidence to sue (it doesn’t: you get refused, threaten to sue, the sign comes down and you still sue, you still win, since you were still refused regardless of the present circumstances; the damage is done, as this is what happened in the Otaru Onsens Case).

If you haven’t read book JAPANESE ONLY yet Steve, I really suggest you do. It’ll also ground you in the dynamic of why your suggestions won’t stop the discrimination. Nothing will, short of a law backed up by sanctions. That’s why the UN CERD strongly advises one.

I’ll let the legal scholars out there comment more authoritatively on the “kokumin” aspects of the constitution and law enforcement, but my lawyers have told me repeatedly that Japanese Constitutional protections apply to non-citizens too, despite the wording, if you’d dare to push the issue in official mediating bodies.

Now let’s open the floor up for discussion. Pile on. Arudou Debito

My speech at Otaru Shoudai Dec 6, 2010, “The Otaru Onsens Case 10 years on”, now on YouTube in six parts

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Hi Blog. I gave a series of speeches over the past week, the latest one at Otaru University of Commerce, on “The Otaru Onsens Case Ten Years On”. It’s in English (as it is a lecture series in English sponsored by the university for language students and exchange students), and available for view in several parts at the Otaru Shoudai Channel on YouTube. Have a look. Links to parts one through six below.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito

Part One:

Part Two:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKz1fm5GdN4

Part Three:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p15Vrg0X_y0

Part Four:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyP2JFlvDzI

Part Five:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lw-MZ-8s7jI

Part Six:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1quOHWZUBE

ENDS

Speaking Dec 2 at Sophia University on Liberal Democracy and Japanese Judiciary

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Liberal Democracy and the Japanese Judiciary System
Is Japan’s Judiciary System Befitting a Modern Democracy?

Chris Pitts (Kyoritsu Women’s University (共立女子学園)/ AITEN (Amnesty International Tokyo English Network)

Mr. Pitts will be examining the general framework of the criminal investigation procedure in Japan and the trial process; how these structures fail to protect the rights of the accused; and the extent that these shortcomings have been criticized by Japanese Federation of Bar Associations & the UN Committee on Torture.

Arudou Debito 有道 出人 (Hokkaido Information University (北海道情報大学)

The outspoken foreigners’ rights activist will then discuss the ways in which certain elements within a modern democratic judiciary system can work to undermine the civil liberties of the individuals within that democracy; and ask: Are there authoritarian elements within the Japanese judiciary system? And are they undermining the civil liberties of those living within Japanese society?

Sophia Political Society
Thursday, December 2, 2010
From 5:30-7:00 in Bldg 4 Rm 175

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: I offer the standard disclaimers of “I am not a lawyer or a legal expert, just someone with some interesting experiences in the Japanese judiciary offering his opinions”, so don’t come expecting necessarily definitive views!  Will give it a go.  Arudou Debito

Weekend Tangent: What Canada does about racial slurs and abuse in public: jail time

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Hi Blog. Here’s what a place like Canada does when you have a thing like racially-motivated slurs and abuse: They give the abuser jail time.  In fact, more than the prosecution was seeking.  Fancy that.  I’ve been told on more than one occasion to “go back to my own country” (even after naturalization, and once by a professor in my own university), and nobody has ever anything about it.  Sad, innit?  Arudou Debito

ENDS

Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.

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Hi Blog. After a half-month interlude of light and reason (as in September 30 to October 17), where it actually looked like a Japanese courtroom was actually going to be nice to somebody and rule against The State, another court has come along and put things back to normal. Read on below.

Gee, that was quick by Japanese judicial standards! I guess they know the value of putting the kibosh on something before the floodgates open: Can’t have all the goddamn foreigners expecting to have rights to something like our social welfare benefits, especially at an advanced age.  Arudou Debito

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

Foreigners have no right to welfare payments, rules Oita District Court
(Mainichi Japan) October 18, 2010, Courtesy of KS, JK, and lots of other people

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20101018p2a00m0na013000c.html

OITA — The Oita District Court ruled on Oct. 18 that foreigners with the right to permanent residence but without Japanese citizenship are not entitled to welfare benefits, rejecting the claims of a 78-year-old Chinese woman who sued after being denied benefits by the Oita city government.

In the ruling, Presiding Judge Yasuji Isshi said, “The Livelihood Protection Law is intended for Japanese citizens only. Welfare payments to non-citizens would be a form of charity. Non-citizens do not hold a right to receive payments.”

The court rejected the woman’s requests that it overturn the city’s decision and order the commencement of payments. The woman intends to appeal. The ruling is the first in the country to deal with the issue of welfare payments to people with foreign citizenship and permanent residency in Japan.

According to the ruling, the woman has Chinese nationality but was born in Japan and holds the right to permanent residence. In December 2008, the woman applied to the welfare office in Oita city for welfare payments, but was turned down with the reason that she had “a comfortable amount of money” in her savings.

The main issues of the trial became whether the woman held the right as a foreigner to receive welfare payments and whether her financial status justified her receiving aid.

“Excluding foreign citizens from the protection of welfare benefits is not unconstitutional,” said Isshi. He did not say anything about the woman’s financial status in the ruling, effectively indicating that any such discussion was overruled by the issue of nationality.

ENDS

——————————–

Original Japanese story

大分・生活保護訴訟:永住外国人、受給権なし 地裁が初判決
毎日新聞 2010年10月18日 東京夕刊
http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/archive/news/2010/10/18/20101018dde041040058000c.html
外国籍であることなどを理由に大分市が生活保護申請を却下したのは違法として、同市の中国籍の女性(78)が処分取り消しや保護開始決定を求めた訴訟の判決が18日、大分地裁であった。一志泰滋裁判長は「生活保護法は日本国籍者に限定した趣旨。外国人への生活保護は贈与にあたり、受給権はない」として女性の請求をいずれも退けた。永住外国人の生活保護受給を巡る判決は初めてという。女性側は控訴する方針。

判決によると、女性は日本生まれで永住資格を持つ中国人。08年12月、大分市福祉事務所に生活保護申請をしたが「女性名義の預金が相当額ある」として却下された。

外国人の受給権の有無と、経済状態などからこの女性が要保護者に当たるかが争点だった。

一志裁判長は受給権について「永住外国人を保護対象に含めないことが憲法に反するとは言えない」と述べ、女性の経済状態についての判断まで示さず、事実上の門前払いとした。【深津誠】
ENDS

Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits

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Hi Blog.  Here’s a bit of good news, albeit a bit incomplete based upon this article alone.  May there be more outcomes like this.  Pity these things happen to the elderly too.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Decision not to examine foreigner’s request on welfare benefits repealed in Oita
Japan Today/Kyodo Friday 01st October, 2010, Courtesy of Clankshaft

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/decision-not-to-examine-foreigners-request-on-welfare-benefits-repealed-in-oita

OITA — A Japanese court repealed on Thursday a decision by Oita Prefecture in southwestern Japan not to examine a request from a 78-year-old Chinese woman to look into a decision by Oita City that rejected her application for welfare benefits.

A three-judge panel at the Oita District Court acted on a suit filed by the woman, who has obtained permanent residency status in Japan, against the Oita prefectural government decision that turned away the woman’s request, filed in February last year, to examine the Oita municipal government decision not to provide welfare benefits to her.

The prefectural government dismissed the woman’s request without examining it, saying she was not eligible to seek benefits because she does not have Japanese nationality.

In Thursday’s ruling, the district court said the prefectural government must review the municipal government decision in line with the woman’s request, and decide whether she should be given benefits.

Presiding Judge Kenji Kanamitsu brushed aside the prefectural government’s argument that the city’s decision not to provide her with benefits was a ‘‘unilateral administrative action’’ against a foreigner who has no right to seek welfare benefits, and not an ‘‘administrative decision’’ as she claimed, whose appropriateness can be reviewed under the administrative appeal law.

Judge Kanamitsu said the woman is ‘‘obviously’’ eligible to ask the prefectural government to review the municipal government decision.

‘‘An application for welfare benefits has been rejected, and it means the same to the applicants, regardless of their nationalities,’’ the judge said.

The Chinese woman has filed a separate suit against the Oita municipal government seeking a repeal of its decision not to provide welfare benefits to her. The district court is scheduled to give a ruling on the suit on Oct. 18.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has not recognized foreigners’ legal rights to seek welfare benefits but has instructed prefectural governments to act ‘‘similarly’’ with cases of Japanese nationals in deciding on applications for such benefits from foreigners.

ENDS

Japan Times “Richard Cory” on child custody woes part 2: Who abducts wins

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As part two to yesterday’s excerpt, here’s how Richard Cory managed to save one of his children from a cheating, insane, abusive mom — by simply abducting her. Too bad for the other two. Godspeed. Arudou Debito in transit

THE ZEIT GIST
Behind the facade of family law
Having been reunited with his daughter, Richard Cory faces a tougher battle for custody of his sons
By Richard Cory
The Japan Times Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010

(excerpt): Look at my case (and what the judge wrote in her custody ruling in July). My wife had admitted to the following:

• More than three years of ongoing adultery (“The reason for the breakup of the marriage was the respondent’s adultery”); Giving large sums of money (¥7.7 million) to her lover to help him pay off his gambling debt (“Respondent lent a large sum of money to her colleague”);

• Taking my children on dates to bet on horse racing;

• Being currently on medication for various disorders (“Respondent became mentally ill and started seeing a doctor in or around January 2010 and worried about her insufficient communication with the children”);

• Physically abusing her own spouse and children (“Respondent attacked petitioner . . . and used physical power that cannot be justified as discipline against the children”).

Her own daughter fled from her after being abducted, and then testified against her. Moreover, my wife did not even petition for custody of the children until four months after I filed for divorce and custody. I even submitted a video showing my wife with not one of the bruises or injuries she claimed to have sustained the day before the video was taken. And we even had eyewitness testimony of her trying to injure herself. Could my case be any stronger?

Nevertheless, when the judge awarded me physical custody of my daughter, she also awarded physical custody of the boys to their mother. The reason: “There’s no big problem (with the boys staying where they are).”

Based on such reasoning, you can bet the bank that this judge would have awarded custody of all three children to my wife had I not been able to rescue one. And the judge would probably have given me custody of them all had they all been able to get free.

Japan’s family court is simply a facade designed to make an unevolved system appear civilized.

Let’s not kid ourselves. In Japan, “possession of the children” trumps the “best interests of the children” every time, particularly when the “best interests of the children” are never even addressed. And when you have a country that is pouring great sums of money into a system that shuffles children off to hidden locations whenever a parent makes an unverified DV claim, the state, in essence, becomes complicit in the abduction of the children…

Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100928zg.html

Thrice-convicted crooked Dietmember Suzuki Muneo gets his: Supreme Court rejects appeal, jail time looms

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Hi Blog.  Good news.  Former LDP kingpin (now in his own little Hokkaido-based Party of One) Suzuki Muneo, who was twice convicted in lower courts of corruption charges, has just been convicted a third time by having his appeal rejected by the Supreme Court.

This ‘orrible little man has been of concern to Debito.org for many years now, because he has shown just how some people (one of us Dosanko, no less) are above the law.  His life as case study demonstrates how in Japanese politics, a bent LDP bigwig could manipulate public policy (he was once known as the Shadow Foreign Minister, establishing under-the table kickback relationships — using GOJ discretionary budgets — with places like Russia and Tanzania, putting “Muneo Houses” in places like the Northern Territories (which he claimed were within his electorate in Outback Hokkaido). Not only that, he could get reelected despite repeated convictions just by appealing to a higher court.  See more on Muneo here, and here’s a contemporary essay from 2002 (shortly before his downfall) depicting what shenanigans he was up to in real time.

Well, it only took eight years since his arrest to get this guy properly sentenced, but there you go: That’s how slowly our judiciary moves.  Muneo faces jail time and loss of Diet seat. Good. Sadly, we’re bound to see this guy turn up again like a bent yen coin in our pocket. He’ll be incarcerated for a couple of years, wait out his five-year ban on running again, and no doubt throw his hat back in the ring before he hits his seventieth birthday. Hokkaido people can be that desperate to elect this man (one of the most charismatic Japanese politicians I’ve ever met) and he’ll be back protesting the rapaciousness of the Public Prosecutor. Article excerpt from the Japan Times follows. Arudou Debito in Tokyo

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

The Japan Times: Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010
Lawmaker Suzuki loses bribery appeal
Supreme Court decision means loss of Diet seat and prison time
Compiled from Kyodo, Staff report

The Supreme Court has turned down an appeal by Lower House member Muneo Suzuki to overturn a bribery conviction, meaning he will likely lose his Diet seat and go to prison.

The decision, which took effect Tuesday and was made public Wednesday, came nearly six years after the Tokyo District Court handed Suzuki a two-year prison term and an ¥11 million fine in November 2004 for four counts, including taking bribes from two Hokkaido companies. The Tokyo High Court upheld the ruling in February 2008.

Suzuki, 62, said Wednesday he will “keep fighting” in the courts, reiterating that he never took a bribe.

“Under any environment, I will keep fighting against the power of prosecutors,” he said…

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100909a1.html

Japan Times Community Page on “Trainee” Jiang karoushi, how employer Fuji Denka Kogyo is trying to get away with it

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Hi Blog. The Japan Times once again makes Tuesdays a must-buy day, as the Community Page once again puts out another good article of investigative journalism, this time about the death of NJ from overwork under the aegis of the GOJ’s “Trainee” visa program.

We’ve already talked here about the Jiang Xiaodong death being the first officially acknowledged as a NJ karoushi. The latest development on that is, according to the article:

The labor office ruling has been passed to the public prosecutor, but it is unknown at this stage whether criminal charges will be laid against Fuji Denka Kogyo or the company’s president, Takehiko Fujioka. Furthermore, lawyers representing Jiang’s wife and family, who are suing for compensation, are claiming the company falsified work records by creating a new time card that showed Jiang worked considerably less overtime than he actually did. Their investigators were able to determine that in the year up to his death, Jiang did an average of more than 150 hours overtime per month — meaning he spent a combined monthly total of 310 or more hours on the factory floor.

But the investigation goes deeper now in the Japan Times. Excerpt:

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

The Japan Times, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010
THE ZEIT GIST
Dying to work: Japan Inc.’s foreign trainees
By SIMON SCOTT

…Recent amendments to the Immigration Control Act, which also included changes to Japan’s alien registration card system, have improved the situation for participants of the internship program, although arguably it is a case of too little, too late.

Under the old system, those in the first year of the program were officially classed as “trainees,” not workers, meaning they were unable to claim the protections Japanese labor law affords regular employees.

For example, the minimum wage in Japan varies according to prefecture, and currently the national average is ¥713 per hour. But as foreign trainees are not technically “workers,” employers are not obliged to pay them even this. Instead, they receive a monthly “trainee allowance,” which for most first-year trainees falls between ¥60,000 and ¥80,000 — the equivalent to an hourly wage in the range of ¥375 to ¥500 for a full-time 40-hour week.

For first-year trainees, trying to survive on such a low income is a real struggle, so most have to do a great deal of overtime just to make ends meet.

Although the “trainee” residency status still exists for foreign workers who arrived before 2010, it is currently being phased out, and from 2011 all first-year participants in the program will be classed as technical interns. This a significant step forward, as the Labor Standards Law and the Minimum Wage Act apply to foreign migrant workers with technical-intern residency status. However, whether migrant workers are actually able to access the protections they are entitled to is another matter, and the issue of oversight — or the lack of it — is still a long way from being resolved.

Abiko believes this absence of proper oversight has grown out of the internship program’s weak regulatory structure and a general lack of government accountability. The government entrusts most of the operations of the internship program to JITCO, an authority that lacks the power to sanction participating organizations or companies, says Abiko.

“JITCO is just a charitable organization. It is very clear that JITCO is not appropriate to regulate and monitor this program.”

In addition, she argues, the financial relationship between JITCO and the collectives or companies under which trainees work makes JITCO’s role as a regulatory body even more untenable. JITCO’s total income for the 2008 financial year was ¥2.94 billion. More than half this amount, ¥1.66 billion, came from “support membership fees” paid by the companies themselves.

“How can JITCO appropriately regulate and monitor their support members when they are dependent on them for membership fees?” she said.

Full article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100803zg.html

ENDS