Archive for the 'Lawsuits' Category
Issues involving the Japanese judiciary, be they civil, criminal, or other types of lawsuits.
Posted by arudou debito on 16th January 2014
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.
UPDATE JAN 17: 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.
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 2 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 19th October 2013
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.
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Lawsuits, Pension System, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 9 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 8th October 2013
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:
Mainichi: 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.
Posted in Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Lawsuits, United Nations, 日本語 | 18 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 30th March 2013
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?
JT: 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.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Lawsuits, Tangents, Unsustainable Japanese Society | No Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 18th March 2013
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 schoolgirl, with 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?
Next, here’s an article about a victim fighting back. We have a thirty-something city councilor (in another unnamed local government in Hyougo-Ken) who proposed (in writing) to a woman (now 28, who accepted), then broke it off as soon as he heard that she was a Japanese citizen with a Zainichi Korean grandfather (horrors — how that might damage his political career!, he said). So in October of last year (appearing in an article dated January 28, 2013), she sued him for 2.4 million yen. Stay tuned. Interesting to see if the outcome will indicate how, once again, naturalization still doesn’t make a former NJ a “real Japanese” in elite society’s eyes:
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.”
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”. Doesn’t seem like there is much space for tolerance of moderate or diverse views (or people) anymore.
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Education, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Lawsuits, Media | 10 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 17th January 2013
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.
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.
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.
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Gaiatsu, Labor issues, Lawsuits, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 22 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 2nd January 2013
Debito’s Top Ten human rights issues in Japan for NJ residents in 2012:
10. DONALD KEENE’S NATURALIZATION
9. OSAKA CITY DEFUNDS LIBERTY OSAKA
8. COURTS RULE THAT MIXED-BLOOD CHILDREN MAY NOT BE “JAPANESE”
7. DIET DOES NOT PASS HAGUE CONVENTION
6. GOVERNMENT CONVENES MEETINGS ON IMMIGRATION
5. MAINALI CASE VICTORY, SURAJ CASE DEFEAT
4. JAPAN’S VISA REGIMES CLOSE THEIR LOOP
3. NEW NJ REGISTRY SYSTEM
2. POST-FUKUSHIMA JAPAN IS IRREDEEMABLY BROKEN
1. JAPAN’S RIGHTWARD SWING
Links to sources included
Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Child Abductions, Cultural Issue, Education, Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Gaiatsu, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Lawsuits, Media, NJ legacies, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 12 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 27th December 2012
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.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Lawsuits, Media | 14 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 4th August 2012
When doing research 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 is simply not on. I happen to have a hard copy of it in my archives, and upon rereading, it’s easy understand why a publisher would be embarrassed for ever publishing it. But deletion without retraction from a newspaper archive is simply not on. So let’s 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.
Clark (1999): 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.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Lawsuits, Media, NJ legacies, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, United Nations | 17 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 29th July 2012
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.
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… Tokyo District Court dismissed the entire case in its Feb. 27, 2012, verdict, reaffirming the powerful guarantee of the right to strike in Japan.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Education, Labor issues, Lawsuits, NJ legacies | 2 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 27th March 2012
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.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Lawsuits, 日本語 | 22 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 4th January 2012
Here’s my fourth annual round-up of the top 10 human rights events that affected Japan’s NJ residents last year. Concluding paragraphs:
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.
Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Child Abductions, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, Lawsuits, Media, NJ legacies, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 14 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 23rd November 2011
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.
Journal Sentinel: [Abducted child] 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.
UPDATE DEC 25 2011: Convicted felon Inoue Emiko returns the child to the father 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. Especially when you consider the bias in reporting. 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!
Posted in Child Abductions, Good News, Lawsuits, Media, 日本語 | 50 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 18th November 2011
Yomiuri: 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.
COMMENT: Okay, that’s good news and a good precedent. Glad they took it away from the denizens of Oita, who as I noted back on Debito.org last November 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.
Posted in Exclusionism, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Lawsuits, 日本語 | 9 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 1st June 2011
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…
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits | 4 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 11th May 2011
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.
Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Lawsuits | 25 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 3rd February 2011
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.
JT: 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.
The same line of reasoning informs the suit that the parents of Keiko Arimoto, one of the Japanese people abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and ’80s, brought against veteran journalist Soichiro Tahara in July 2009. Earlier that year, Tahara speculated on a TV Asahi talk show that Arimoto and another abductee, Megumi Yokota, were dead and that the Foreign Ministry knew they were dead. Akihiro and Kayoko Arimoto believe that their daughter is still alive, and Tahara’s remarks caused them great “mental suffering,” so they sued him for damages.
On the program in question, Tahara was discussing Japan’s policy toward North Korea and questioned the wisdom of predicating any engagement with NK on the communist state’s first returning all remaining abductees to Japan. “But North Korea says they’re dead,” Tahara said, “and even the Foreign Ministry knows they’re not alive.” Unofficially, Tahara’s remark is taboo: One cannot publicly put forth the opinion that the abductees may be dead, because their families have stated that they believe they aren’t. In Japan, the families own the abductee narrative because they are victims, and owning the narrative means you get to control how it’s told…
Posted in Cultural Issue, Japanese Government, Lawsuits, Media | 13 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 15th January 2011
Reuters: 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.
Grauniad: 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.”
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Cultural Issue, Lawsuits, Tangents | 5 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 12th January 2011
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.
Posted in Discussions, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Lawsuits | 14 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 10th December 2010
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.
Posted in Exclusionism, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Lawsuits, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Speech materials | 8 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 1st December 2010
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
Posted in Lawsuits, Speech materials | Comments Off
Posted by arudou debito on 31st October 2010
Hi Blog. As a Weekend Tangent, what a place like Canada does when you have a thing like racially-motivated slurs and abuse: They give the abuser jail time. Fancy that. 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?
Calgary Herald: A Calgary man who made racial slurs and spit in the face of a woman waiting to catch a bus has received a six-month jail sentence — twice the punishment the Crown was seeking…
Juzwiak said Richardson told the woman she was an immigrant and should go back to her own country. He spat on her, then threatened her and a man came to her rescue…
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Lawsuits, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept. | 15 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 20th October 2010
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.
Posted in Exclusionism, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Lawsuits, 日本語 | 42 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 12th October 2010
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…
Posted in Exclusionism, Good News, Japanese Government, Lawsuits | 13 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 29th September 2010
Japan Times: 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…
Posted in Child Abductions, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Lawsuits | 6 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 11th September 2010
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.
Posted in Good News, Japanese Politics, Lawsuits, Tangents | 4 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 3rd August 2010
Japan Times: 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.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Lawsuits | 1 Comment »
Posted by arudou debito on 28th July 2010
Japan Times: The battle between Berlitz Japan and Begunto began with a strike launched Dec. 13, 2007, as Berlitz Japan and its parent company, Benesse Corp., were enjoying record profits. Teachers, who had gone without an across-the-board raise for 16 years, struck for a 4.6-percent pay hike and a one-month bonus. The action grew into the largest sustained strike in the history of Japan’s language school industry, with more than 100 English, Spanish and French teachers participating in walkouts across Kanto.
On Dec. 3, 2008, Berlitz Japan claimed the strike was illegal and sued for a total of ¥110 million in damages. Named in the suit were the five teachers volunteering as Begunto executives, as well as two union officials: the president of the National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu, Yujiro Hiraga , and Carlet, former NUGW case officer for Begunto and currently executive president of Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union (Tozen)…
Another of the teachers named in the suit, Catherine Campbell, was fired earlier this month after taking too long to recover from late-stage breast cancer cancer. In June 2009, Campbell took a year of unpaid leave to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Because Berlitz Japan failed to enroll Campbell in the shakai hoken health insurance scheme, she was unable to receive the two-thirds wage coverage it provides and had to live with her parents in Canada during treatment. The company denied Campbell’s request to extend her leave from June to Sept. 2010 and fired her for failing to return to work.
Berlitz Japan work rules allow for leave-of-absence extensions where the company deems it necessary. “If cancer is not such a case, what would be?” Campbell asks…
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Injustice, Labor issues, Lawsuits | 17 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 1st July 2010
Further exploring the theme of the Japanese police’s extralegal powers and how power corrupts, here are two articles outlining cases where the Japanese police can arrest people they find inconvenient:
XX comments on Jiji Press article: In this news item a man who does not like the police has been putting up notices near crime scenes that say “Congratulations on not catching the killer.” He was arrested and prosecutored for violating the Minor Crimes Act. Interestingly, the Minor Crimes Act does not seem to have any offenses which cover what he did. Minor technicality, I guess.
FCCJ Number 1 Shimbun: Semba retired from the Ehime Prefectural Police in March, after 36 years on the force. At 24, he had been the youngest officer in the history of the prefectural force to be promoted to the rank of sergeant, but he says his refusal to falsify expenses forms that were funneled into a vast slush fund meant that he was never promoted again, was regularly transferred between unappealing assignments and had his handgun taken away on the grounds that he might kill himself or pose a danger to others.
“The Japanese police are a criminal organization and the senior officers of the force are all criminals,” Semba said. “Of all the companies and organizations in Japan, only the ‘yakuza’ and the police commit crimes on a daily basis. That includes building up slush funds and it was because I refused to participate in that that I stayed in the same position for all those years.”
Semba alleges that ¥40 billion is systematically racked up from falsified travel expenses and fictitious payments to individuals who assist the police in their investigations. Pretty much every officer in the country is involved in the scam, he claims, and they do not speak out because they are all too busy climbing the ranks to try to get their hands on a larger share of the pie.
Posted in Injustice, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits, Media, 日本語 | 12 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 30th June 2010
Colin Jones in the Japan Times: A few months ago I met with some Western diplomats who were looking for information about Japanese law — in particular, an answer to the question, “Is parental child abduction a crime?” As international child abduction has become an increasingly sore point between Japan and other countries, foreign envoys have been making concerted efforts to understand the issue from the Japanese side. Having been told repeatedly by their Japanese counterparts that it is not a crime, some diplomats may be confused by recent cases of non-Japanese parents being arrested, even convicted for “kidnapping” their own children. I don’t think I helped much, since my contribution was something along the lines of “Well, it probably depends on whether the authorities need it to be a crime.”
Of course, the very question “Is x a crime?” reflects a fairly Western view of the law as a well-defined set of rules, the parameters of which people can know in advance in order to conduct themselves accordingly. However, there is a Confucian saying that is sometimes interpreted as “The people do not need to know the law, but they should be made to obey it.” This adage was a watchword of the Tokugawa Shogunate, whose philosophy of government was based in part on neo-Confucian principles.
It is also a saying that could provide some insights into why it sometimes seems difficult to get a clear answer about what exactly the law is in modern Japan. I am not suggesting that Japanese police and prosecutors have Confucian platitudes hanging framed over their desks, but knowing the law is a source of power. Being able to say what the law means is an even greater one, particularly if you can do so without being challenged. In a way, clearly defined criminal laws bind authority as much as they bind the people, by limiting the situations in which authorities can act. Since law enforcement in Japan often seems directed primarily at “keeping the peace,” laws that are flexible are more likely to serve this goal…
Posted in Child Abductions, History, Injustice, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits | 19 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 5th June 2010
NZ Herald: The boss of a multi-national English language school in Auckland has been awarded $190,000 after an employment tribunal dismissed claims he was used to being treated “the Japanese way”.
David Page was stripped of his job as regional director of GEOS New Zealand at a conference in 2008 and demoted to head of the company’s Auckland language centre.
In April last year, he was fired by email after being given “one last chance” to make the school profitable.
Page launched an unfair dismissal claim against GEOS, which comes under the umbrella of the GEOS Corporation founded by Japanese businessman Tsuneo Kusunoki.
But the company responded by claiming that Page “accepted understanding of the ‘Japanese way’ of doing business”. They went on to say he was used to Kusunoki “ranting”, “berating” and “humiliating” people “so this was nothing new”.
But the Employment Relations Authority said the company’s failings were “fundamental and profound”.
Member Denis Asher said the final warning was “an unscrupulous exploitation of the earlier, unlawful demotion”. He said: “A conclusion that the ‘Japanese way’ already experienced by Mr Page was continuing to be applied is difficult to avoid.”
COMMENT: GEOS forgot this ain’t a Japanese courtroom where this actually might wash. They lose. Just goes to show you that what are considered working standards in Japan towards NJ (or anybody, really) aren’t something that will pass without sanction in other fellow developed societies. Attitudes like these will only deter other NJ from working in Japanese companies in future. Idiots.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Labor issues, Lawsuits, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept. | 8 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 4th May 2010
AP: FRANKLIN, Tenn. — A Tennessee man who was arrested in Japan when he tried to take his children back from his ex-wife is suing the local judge and an attorney who handled the divorce.
Japanese prosecutors eventually dropped the case against Christopher Savoie of Franklin after he tried in September to enter the U.S. Consulate with his 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter. Ex-wife Noriko Savoie had violated a U.S. court custody decision by taking the children to her native Japan a month earlier.
The lawsuit says the children are still living in Japan with their mother.
Savoie filed a federal lawsuit this month against Williamson County Circuit Court Judge James G. Martin, who served as both the mediator during the divorce and then later as the judge that lifted a restraining order barring the ex-wife from taking the children to Japan.
Savoie claims that Tennessee Supreme Court law states that mediators should refrain from acting in a judicial capacity in cases in which they mediated. He also claims negligence because the judge was aware of the risk of child abduction in this case.
He also filed a state lawsuit in Williamson County against his former divorce attorney, Virginia Lee Story, arguing she failed to object to having Martin hear the case as a judge. He claims she was negligent and asks for compensatory and punitive damages.
Posted in Child Abductions, Lawsuits | 26 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 30th April 2010
Bringing this old article up as a matter of record: I mentioned on Debito.org back in early 2008 about a Swiss woman who came to Japan as a tourist and was arrested on drug charges. She got acquitted not once but twice in Japanese courts, yet was not released on bail because NJ and are considered more of a flight risk. While actual convicted felons are released in the interim if they are Japanese.
Again, foreigners aren’t allowed bail in Japan. Unlike Japanese: When Japanese defendants appeal guilty verdicts, they are not detained (see Horie Takafumi and Suzuki Muneo; the latter, now convicted of corruption twice over, is still on the streets, even re-elected to the Diet!).
So despite being incarcerated as an innocent NJ since 2008, she finally gets booted out for “overstaying her visa” (oh, sure, she could have gone to Immigration any time and renewed, right?) and barred from reentry. Rights of the defendant and “Hostage Justice” depending on your nationality. What a swizz.
Posted in Human Rights, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits | 9 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 5th April 2010
Although I like to devote Mondays to “bigger news”, I’d like to take this day to salute a personal hero of mine, former nurse Chong Hyang Gyun, a Zainichi Korean who, like any other qualified civil servant in Japan, expected to be promoted commensurate with her experience and dedication.
But not in Japan. She in 1994 was denied even the opportunity to sit the administrative civil service exam because, despite her being born in Japan, raised in Japan, a native speaker of Japanese, and a taxpayer in and contributor to Japan like any other, she was still, in the eyes of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, a “foreigner”, therefore not to be trusted with administrative power over Japanese (the old “Nationality Clause”, kokuseki joukou, struck again).
So she sued for the right to sit the exam nearly twenty years ago. Over more than ten years she lost, won, then ultimately lost in the Supreme Court, which, in a landmark setback for civil rights and assimilation, ruled there was nothing unconstitutional in denying her the right to chose her occupation and employment opportunities.
Now she’s retired as of April 1 (although rehired and working fewer hours). I’m just grateful that she tried. Some occupations are completely denied to NJ, including public-sector food preparation (for fear that NJ might poison our bureaucrats) and firefighting (for fear that NJ entering Japanese houses and perhaps damaging Japanese property might cause an international incident), that it becomes ludicrous for NJ to even consider a public-service job in Japan.(*) Especially if the “glass ceiling” (in fact, an iron barrier, thanks to the Supreme Court) means you can never reach your potential. The Chong-san Case made that clear, to Japan’s shame.
Posted in Exclusionism, Injustice, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Lawsuits | 5 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 23rd February 2010
One more piece in the puzzle about why divorces with children in tow in Japan are so problematic. As we’ve discussed here before umpteen times, Japan does not allow joint custody (thanks to the Koseki Family Registry system etc.), nor does it guarantee visitation rights. Following below is another excellent article by Colin Jones on why that is — because Japan’s paternalistic courts and bureaucrats believe they know more than the parents about what’s best for the child. It’s one more reason why I believe that without substantial reforms, nobody should marry (Japanese or NJ) and have children under the Japanese system as it stands right now.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Child Abductions, Cultural Issue, Human Rights, Lawsuits | 4 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 17th February 2010
Kyodo: The Kumamoto District Court awarded more than ¥17 million in damages Friday to four Chinese interns who were forced to work long hours for low wages in Kumamoto Prefecture.
The court ordered that the union Plaspa Apparel, which arranged the trainee work for the four, to pay ¥4.4 million and that the actual employer, a sewing agency, pay ¥12.8 million in unpaid wages.
It is the first ruling that held a job broker for foreign trainees liable for their hardships, according to lawyers representing the four interns.
Posted in Good News, Labor issues, Lawsuits, 日本語 | 6 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 31st December 2009
I want to offer my congratulations to Oguri Saori, very successful author of the “Darling wa Gaikokujin” series (translated as “My Darling is a Foreigner”, but officially subtitled “My Darling is Ambidextrous”), for the news just out this month that the first book in the series will be made into a live-action movie (starring Inoue Mao and Jonathan Share as Saori and Tonii respectively). The empire built upon the dream being sold to Japanese women for marrying a white foreigner keeps on gathering strength.
Although portrayed in the movie by the very handsome and disarming Jonathan as a “grass-eating man”, Tonii in real life is not as he is cartooned. Laszlo is a big fan of putting his funds into threatening lawsuits, for one thing. And of deleting internet archives. And more. It just so happens I found a cartoon parodying this phenomenon of the contrasts. As the last post on Debito.org for this decade, enjoy.
Posted in Humor, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Issho.org/Tony Laszlo, Lawsuits, Media, 日本語 | 13 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 7th December 2009
Three articles (two with original Japanese) below charting a couple of interesting developments regarding Japan as an international haven for child abductions.
The first article is what happens when the shoe’s on the other foot, and the NJ parent goes on trial for allegedly abducting his or her child from Japan — the Japanese authorities eventually convict the NJ. Asahi reports a Chinese father was found guilty (sentence suspended) in Japanese court of successfully, shall we say, “committing a Savoie” — actually getting his Japanese-Chinese daughters out of Japan (moreover after a J court awarded his ex-wife custody). The story follows below, but one of the daughters came back to Japan from China and stayed on, and the father came over to get her — whereupon he was arrested and put on trial. Now the mother wants Japan to sign the Hague Convention to protect Japanese from abductions (well, fine, but neither China nor Japan is a party, so there you go; oddly enough, accusations of spousal abuse — as in this case — are being leveled conversely as reasons for Japan NOT to sign the Convention). Just sign the damn thing, already.
The second article is from the Mainichi highly critical of the Japanese consulate in Shanghai for renewing the daughters’ J passports without consent of the J mother overseas. Even though this is standard operating procedure when a Japanese spouse wants to bring the children back to Japan from overseas. It only seems to make the news when the valve is used against the Japanese spouse.
Final irony: Quoth the judge who ruled in this case, “It is impossible to imagine the mental anguish of being separated for such a long time from the children she loved.” Well, that works both ways, doesn’t it? Why has there never been a child returned by a Japanese court to a NJ parent overseas? Why didn’t this matter in, for example, the Murray Wood Case, when overseas courts granted custody to the NJ father yet the Saitama Family Court ruled against him? And how about the plenty of other cases slowly being racked up to paint a picture that NJ get a raw deal in Japanese courts?
The third article (following the original Japanese versions of the first two) is how Minister Okada of the Foreign Ministry is setting up a special task force on this issue. Good. But let’s see if it can break precedent by acknowledging that NJ have as much right to access and custody of their children as Japanese do. Dubious at this juncture.
Posted in Child Abductions, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Lawsuits, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., 日本語 | 8 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 2nd November 2009
In probably one of the most important legal decisions all year, the Supreme Court has ruled that the “Nationality Clause” (kokuseki joukou), often cited as a reason for barring NJ from administrative (and often, even stable noncontracted) jobs in the public sector, has been scrapped. I’m not sure if that means it’s been ruled “unconstitutional”, but the clause in the Mainichi below, (“The citizenship requirement was eliminated because the courts could be seen as denying employment based solely on the question of citizenship,” the court stated.) could reasonably be stretched in future cases to say that barring NJ from jobs (currently allowed in places such as firefighting and food preparation, and also in Tokyo Prefecture for nursing) should not be permitted. That would be excellent news for the long-suffering NJ academics in Japan’s higher-education system of Academic Apartheid.
Posted in Good News, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Lawsuits, 日本語 | 10 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 28th October 2009
Excerpt: Savoie’s is one of about 80 cases of international parental child abduction involving U.S. citizens, while France and Britain are dealing with 35 each.
The unofficial number is much higher, particularly when failed marriages between Japanese and people from other Asian countries are included. The Assembly for French Overseas Nationals for Japan estimates that 10,000 children with dual citizenship in Japan are prevented from seeing their foreign parent after separation or divorce.
Japanese courts habitually award custody of children to the mother. In many cases, they say they are simply trying to protect the rights of women fleeing abusive former husbands, a claim vigorously disputed by campaigners.
The country’s courts will be tested again later this week when Shane Clarke appeals in a custody battle with Japanese ex-wife…
Posted in Child Abductions, Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese Government, Lawsuits | 3 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 27th October 2009
Conclusion: While I believe you, Prime Minister Hatoyama, are sincere about resolving this issue, the facts lead me to distrust the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Justice and the Foreign Ministry. The Judicial Review Council and the Supreme Court knew about these problems in the first Judicial Reforms that began 10 years ago but chose not to face the tough issue of Parental Rights head on. Now, Mr. Hatoyama, are you relying on these same bureaucrats again? Why, is it that Professor Nishitani refers to a draft statute created by Japanese Scholars that would have paved the way for Japan to implement the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the bureaucrats are sounding as though we have to start from scratch? If the Judicial Reform Council is drafting this legislation then who are the current members? I hope it is not any of the retired Supreme Court Justices that made the 2000 ruling. Furthermore, the Democratic Party of Japan’s Manifesto states the cabinet will be the center of policy-making. What happens if the DPJ loses power in the next election, which will be in two years, do we start from scratch again? Let’s see what Professor Yuko Nishitani and the Japanese Scholars proposed; maybe the cabinet can start from there. If the government wants the international community and all left-behind parents to cooperate while reforms are being created we need to know, What Are We Bargaining For?
Posted in Child Abductions, History, Japanese Government, Lawsuits | 7 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 21st October 2009
Colin Jones in the Japan Times: My own view is that as a matter of law, Japan could start returning abducted children tomorrow without having signed the Hague Convention — just as children who have been abducted to countries like the United States or England have been returned to Japan notwithstanding the country’s nonsignatory status. Mr. Savoie’s case clearly demonstrates that it is not actually necessary to waste time and money in futile family court proceedings to get your child back: The police will do it for you if it is in their interests to arrest the abducting parent. The converse is that they may not do anything if it is not, and this is also why it is conceivable that Japan could sign the Hague Convention and immediately appear on the U.S. State Department’s list of noncompliant treaty partners.
Whatever the law says, it is very hard to imagine it being in the interests of the police and prosecutors to be seen taking crying half-Japanese children away from distraught Japanese mothers.
This is why the media attention is so important on this issue. Because law in Japan tends to serve the bureaucrats first and the people second, legislation and litigation may not lead to solutions if the bureaucrats are part of the problem. Thus, it will likely be criticism — relentless pressure and attention from both domestic and foreign sources — that will probably carry the day in Japan shedding its shameful status as an abduction haven. If so, it will be because the criticism risks damaging the authority of the bureaucrats by making them look bad.
Posted in Child Abductions, Injustice, Japanese Government, Lawsuits, Media | 10 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 15th October 2009
I received this comment early this morning from “Joseph” regarding the Savoie Case, piecing together with a minimum of speculation a plausible timeline for what happened between Christopher and Noriko. It’s too good to be buried as a comment, so I create a separate blog entry for it. He finds for Christopher, concluding:
In Japan, sole custody is awarded to one parent, and one parent only. This means that if there is a messy divorce, as it appears to be in this case, and the mother doesn’t want to allow the father to see his children, there is nothing that can be done. Period. Christopher was obviously well aware of this, and knew that if he wanted to have any access to his children, he needed to have his divorce here.
Noriko, with full knowledge of Amy, came here specifically for the purpose of getting that divorce – she was not “tricked” into it. She came here, she had her day in court, she received a large financial settlement, she repeatedly assured the court that she had no intention of removing the father from his childrens’ lives, and then she went ahead and did just that. She took the children away, took the money, and now she happily spends her days walking the children to and from school, while he spends his being interrogated in jail. He sits there knowing that, as the Japanese courts always favor the Japanese parent in these cases, he will in all likelihood never see his children again.
Posted in Child Abductions, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Lawsuits | 38 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 9th October 2009
I received this yesterday, and am forwarding this with permission, from a person by the name of James Wiegert, who tells his story of how he received custody of his then 8-year-old son from a Japanese court a quarter century ago as a NJ.
He points out a number of mitigators — the clear and present unreasonableness of the mother (who first said he could have custody and then took it back), his gainful employment in a major company in Japan (and generous offer of a settlement to her), and the fact the son could only have US citizenship (i.e. could only have the citizenship of the father, which was the law at the time),
His wife did receive visitation rights, which Mr Wiegert allowed to be enforced.
Although this case is to me the exception that proves the rule (even he says he’s not sure why he was granted custody), there is indeed a legal precedent for allowing NJ to get custody in court. I hope that NJ parents in proceedings can cite this in order to tip the overwhelming one-sided judicial scales a little more in their favor.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Child Abductions, Immigration & Assimilation, Lawsuits | 6 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 3rd October 2009
Plaintiff Valentine Support Group: WHO MAY BE THE NEXT VICTIM? Mr. Valentine who was beaten up with a broken knee by the uncovered police officers 4 years ago, is calling on the foreign community living in Japan to attend his next high court trial on 6th. tuesday 2009. By 2:30pm. Venue: Tokyo High court. Kasumigaseki. 8th floor. Room 808.
Why? This Case is very important to attend is because some thing strange is going on with this case. On 6th. tuesday, a DNA professor. Prof Ishiyama. is coming to give his expert opinion about the cause of the broken knee. on behalf of the Tokyo Govt.
We need Justice to be done. Your presence is highly needed. This matter has being going on for 4 years now.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits | 2 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 2nd October 2009
Here is some more media on the Savoie Child Abduction Case. Although the case is certainly a lot messier than it was 48 hours ago (divorces are like that; neither adult is blameless), the media is starting to report more on husband Christopher’s apparent Japanese citizenship and wife Noriko’s loneliness and financial dependence on him in the US (even though she reportedly received a sizeable sum of close to $800,000 USD from the divorce).
Also coming to light is that the US State Department’s policy on issues such as these: “U.S. consular officers are prohibited by law from providing legal advice, taking custody of a child, forcing a child to be returned to the United States, providing assistance or refuge to parents attempting to violate local law”. They have, according to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, quoted in Stars & Stripes, not asked Japan to release Savoie.
In sum, the case and the reportage on it is a mess. As more information comes to light about the Savoie Case, I will admit for the record, in all intellectual honesty, that there are a number of circumstances that, as commenters point out, detract from supporting husband Christopher as a “poster child” for the push to get Japan to sign the Hague Convention. But unfortunately divorces are messy things. I’ll probably write an apologia (not an apology, look up the word) tomorrow on the case.
Posted in Child Abductions, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Human Rights, Lawsuits | 45 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 2nd October 2009
What follows are excerpts from the court testimony of Christopher Savoie vs Noriko Savoie, indicating the bad-faith negotiations that took place. The messy circumstances notwithstanding, we have clear promises from Noriko that she will not abduct the children, and that her trip to Japan would be for no more than six weeks.
So the retraining order against Noriko gets lifted, and Noriko absconds with the kids. That is the background to the case. Her current extraterritoriality notwithstanding, she broke the law, and now there’s an arrest warrant out on her. That’s what occasioned Christopher taking the drastic actions that he did.
Now, speaking as a left-behind parent myself might be coloring my attitude towards this issue. But divorces are nearly always messy and fault can be found with both sides in mediations. And the fact remains that Noriko did what so many Japanese will do in these situations — abduct the children and claim Japan as a safe haven. Then the children are NEVER returned, and usually contact is completely broken off with the left-behind parent for the remainder of the childhood.
This is an untenable situation. And it must stop. For the sake of the children. This in my mind is undisputable. The children must be returned to Dr Savoie in order to discourage this sort of thing happening again. Anything else is just more encouragement for Japanese to abduct their children.
Posted in Child Abductions, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Human Rights, Injustice, Lawsuits | 12 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 21st September 2009
OTARU ONSENS TAPE (1999-2003) PART ONE
CONTENTS WITH TEACHING NOTES
1) TV ASAHI NEWS STATION on ANA BORTZ DECISION (Nationally broadcast October 12, 1999) (10 minutes). National broadcast. Describes the first court decision regarding racial discrimination in Japan, citing the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the fact that Japan has no law against racial discrimination. Imbedded video and mp4 format for viewing on iPods available.
COMMENT: What’s remarkable about this broadcast is how thoroughly it describes the Bortz Case and the UN CERD. Also the videotape, from Sebido Jewelry Store security cameras in Hamamatsu, showing the owner refusing Ana quite forcefully. It is the most sympathetic broadcast to come out during the Otaru Onsens Case, and unfortunately it would come at the very beginning, before the media really lost the point.
The Ana Bortz Lawsuit would inject new energy into the Otaru Onsens Case (which first started in earnest on September 19, 1999, about a month before), offering positive legal precedent for the onsens to take their signs down. Shortly afterwards, one did (Onsen Panorama). The other two, Onsen Osupa, would take until March 2000 and a lot of beers and making friends with the owner. The last one (in Otaru, at least), Onsen Yunohana would take until January 2001, nearly fifteen months and a lot of events later, on the day that we announced that we would be suing them. Then, and only then, and Yunohana only replaced it with a new set of exclusionary rules. It would take several years to prove this, but these moves would be a losing formula for them in court. More in my book JAPANESE ONLY.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Exclusionism, History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, United Nations, 日本語 | 4 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 13th September 2009
Japan Times: The first foreign defendant to be tried in a lay judge trial was sentenced Friday to five years in prison at the Saitama District Court for two counts of robbery resulting in injury…
The lay judge system, which debuted in May, requires courtroom participants to make their arguments orally so trials are easier for people who are not legal professionals to follow, which in turn means more work for the interpreters in cases involving foreign nationals.
Much of the focus in the latest case was on whether the two Tagalog interpreters could accurately convey the tone of the remarks and how their interpretation might affect the decisions of the lay judges.
Posted in Human Rights, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits | 6 Comments »
Posted by arudou debito on 9th September 2009
Japan Times Aug 27: Former Nova President Nozomu Sahashi was sentenced Wednesday to 3 1/2 years in prison by the Osaka District Court for his role in skimming off employee funds in 2007, just before the foreign language school giant’s bankruptcy that October.
Presiding Judge Hiroaki Higuchi’s severe sentence took some in the courtroom by surprise. Prosecutors had sought five years for the former president of what was once the country’s largest foreign language school chain and employer of foreign nationals. Sahashi is expected to appeal the sentence. …
Sahashi was charged with funneling nearly ¥320 million from employee benefit funds to a bank account belonging to a Nova affiliate in July 2007. He denied embezzling the funds, telling the court he used the money on behalf of his employees.
He tried to portray himself as only one of a group of senior Nova executives responsible for the decision. But the judge said that given the amount of money and his authority, Sahashi bore a heavy responsibility for the crime.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Good News, Injustice, Labor issues, Lawsuits, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 13 Comments »