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

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
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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!

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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.

——————–
Do you like what you read on Debito.org?  Want to help keep the archive active and support Debito.org’s activities?  Please consider donating a little something.  More details here. Or even click on an ad below.

Japan Times: Celebrating Japan’s multiethnic Rio 2016 Olympians: Meet the athletes challenging traditional views of what it is to be Japanese

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
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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. Great article from The Japan Times talking about how multiethnic Japan (including immigrants and Visible Minorities) is presenting a strong showing at the Rio Olympics. Timely and informative, and too early to note caveats (except that we’ve had multiethnic Japanese Olympians face large hurdles in the past; let’s hope the numbers of them this time have reached a tipping point). Have a look. Here’s the intro.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

ISSUES | THE FOREIGN ELEMENT
Celebrating Japan’s multicultural Olympians
Meet the athletes flying the flag and challenging traditional views of what it is to be Japanese
BY NAOMI SCHANEN, STAFF WRITER
THE JAPAN TIMES, AUG 17, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/08/17/issues/celebrating-japans-multicultural-olympians/

Japan and Brazil’s ties go back to the early 20th century, when the first Japanese immigrants arrived as farmers in the South American country. Brazil is home to the largest Japanese community outside Japan — 1.5 million of the country’s 205 million people identify themselves as Japanese-Brazilian, including a handful of members of the Brazilian Olympic team.

But although the host countries of the current and next Summer Olympics share cultural bonds, compared to Brazil, where nearly half of people consider themselves mixed-race, multiculturalism remains elusive in Japan, where ethnic homogeneity is often held up as something to be proud of.

Though Japan is home to the second-largest Brazilian community outside of Brazil, only 2 percent of the country’s population was born overseas. Compared to most other developed countries, immigration to Japan is negligible. However, despite having to deal with an aging, shrinking population, the majority of Japanese seem to prefer it this way. In a recent Yomiuri Shimbun poll, only 37 percent said they felt that more non-Japanese should be accepted to fill the gaps in the country’s labor market.

Japan is home to 2.2 million foreign residents, and like it or not, a growing number of them are marrying Japanese citizens. The number of international marriages increased tenfold between 1965 and 2007, with registered new multiracial couples peaking at 40,272. Due to tighter immigration rules, the number has since dropped considerably, but marriages between Japanese and foreign nationals still make up roughly 1 in 30 unions — and around 1 in 10 in Tokyo.

However, no matter how common international marriages are today, Japanese society still sets the children of these couples apart. They may have grown up as Japanese citizens or be fluent at the language, but many complain of feeling excluded or discriminated against because of their backgrounds. These individuals’ struggles in dealing with their classification as hāfu (half) have been recounted numerous times in the media, particularly by bicultural figures in the public eye.

Some of these children, however, grow up to be Olympians — flying the flag for Japan and challenging the conventional definition of what it means to be Japanese. At the Rio Olympics, more than any before, multicultural Japanese athletes have been a notable presence in the stadiums. Here are profiles of some of these athletes — those who have given their all in Rio for Team Japan, broken the glass ceiling and possibly even opened up minds in their homeland.

Rest of the article at:
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/08/17/issues/celebrating-japans-multicultural-olympians/

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

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

Shibuya Police asking local “minpaku” Airbnb renters to report their foreign lodgers “to avoid Olympic terrorism”. Comes with racialized illustrations

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
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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. Buzzfeed News’s Hatachi Kouta wrote up a report dated June 26, 2016, where he found the following Shibuya Police poster in a residential area:

Courtesy of Hatachi Kouta of Buzzfeed.
Courtesy of Hatachi Kouta of Buzzfeed.

The poster reads:

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

WE ARE ASKING FOR INFORMATION FROM MINPAKU HOSTELERS

“Minpaku” is defined as the service of offering paid accommodation using empty rooms etc. from individual homes.

To prevent terrorism and for the success of the Olympics, we need information from everyone.

We are especially asking for information from individually-standing homes doing Minpaku.

Please call the Shibuya Police Department, Head of Crime Prevention, at 3498-0110 ext 2612.

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

That’s the literal translation of the text.  Note how there is no reference whatsoever textually about foreigners.  However, contextually, in the margins there are illustrations of eight racialized “foreigners” of ostensibly European, African, and Middle-Eastern extractions complete with differentiated eye color, hair color, skin color, and facial hair.  Note how there is no representation of “Asian” foreigners, even though they make up the majority of Japan’s tourists.  I guess they’re not the type that Shinjuku cops are looking for.

My comments about this are seasoned to the point of predictably:  1) Once again, Japan’s police are using racial profiling to determine who is a foreigner as well as a terrorist.  2) Japan’s police are rallying the public to do their bidding on unlawful activities (i.e., scaring them with the threat of terrorism into reporting their foreign lodgers to the police, which neither minpaku nor actual hotels are required to do).  3) The use and proliferation of racialized caricature seems to be normalized standard operating procedure with Japan’s police.  (Why not?  Nobody’s going to stop them when they keep Japan’s public constantly afraid of foreigners to the point of normalized targeting.)  And 4), as I have written before, Japan is not mature enough as a society to host these international events, for the National Police Agency whips everyone up into a frenzy about foreign crime, hooliganism, and/or terrorism.  And then the NPA uses the events to clamp down on civil liberties for everyone.  Thus there is insufficient check and balance to keep these bunker-mentality bureaucrats from exaggerating their mandate.

The Tokyo Olympics are still more than 4 years away.  Expect even more of this embedded racism to surface into full-blown state-sponsored xenophobia in the meantime.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

PS:  The Buzzfeed article in itself is interesting, as the author tries to hold the Shibuya Police accountable for their poster, and (citing inter alia his lack of membership in the Press Club) they evaded answering written questions about the poster’s contents, intent, or how it reflects police attitudes or official policy towards foreigners.  (As they did with me here when they were taking urine samples for drug tests only from foreign-looking customers on the streets in Roppongi back in 2009.)  According to the article, Shibuya Police also denied any ill-will towards foreigners, claiming that the foreign caricatures appeared “so foreigners can also have more relaxed stays too” (gaikokujin no katagata mo, anshin shite taizai shite itadaku shushi de, gaikokujin fuu no irasuto o mochiita mono).  Oh, so being racially profiled is for NJs’ own peace of mind?  Makes perfect sense — in NPA Bizzarroworld.

Read the article for yourself here.

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

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

JT Interview: Tokyo 2020 Olympics CEO Mutou picks on Rio 2016, arrogantly cites “safe Japan” mantra vs international terrorism

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
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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. Once again hosting an international event brings out the worst excesses of Japan’s attitudes towards the outside world. Mutou Toshio, CEO of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and a former deputy governor of the Bank of Japan, talked to The Japan Times about Japan’s superiority to Rio 2016 in broad, arrogant strokes.

Article at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/04/national/2020-tokyo-olympics-ceo-weighs-security-differences-rio/

Some highlights:

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

The CEO of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics says security is his greatest concern but believes Japan will be safe from the kind of mass street protests currently overshadowing this summer’s Rio de Janeiro Games.

“If I had to choose just one challenge from many it would have to be security,” Toshiro Muto told The Japan Times in an exclusive interview. “There are many threats of terrorism in the world. […] To combat this, the organizing committee, Tokyo Metropolitan Government and national government need to be able to deal with it at every level. Cooperation is vital.”

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

Yes, we’ve seen what happens when Japan’s police “cooperate” to ensure Japan is “secure” from the outside world whenever it comes for a visit. Many times.  Consider whenever a G8 Summit is held in Japan, Japan spends the Lion’s Share (far more than half the budget) on policing alone, far more than any other G8 Summit host. Same with, for example, the 2002 World Cup.  The government also quickly abrogates civil liberties for its citizens and residents, and turns Japan into a temporary police state. (See also “Embedded Racism” Ch. 5, particularly pp. 148-52). I anticipate the same happening for 2020, with relish.

But Mutou goes beyond mere boosterism to really earn his paycheck with arrogance, elevating Japan by bashing current hosts Rio.  (Much like Tokyo Governor Inose Naoki, himself since unseated due to corruption, did in 2013 when denigrating Olympic rival hosts Istanbul as “Islamic”.)  Check this out:

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

The Olympics have proved to be a lightning rod for demonstrations in recession-hit Brazil, with many people angry at the billions of public dollars being spent on the event.

But Muto, a former deputy governor of the Bank of Japan, is confident that Tokyo can avoid similar scenes despite public concern over the cost of hosting the Olympics.

“The demonstrations in Brazil are down to the fact that the economy is in great difficulty and the government is in trouble,” he said. “At times like that, there are bigger things to think about than a sports festival.

“I don’t think that kind of problem will occur in Japan. Of course you never know what will happen, but I think the environment in Brazil and Tokyo is completely different.”

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

Yes, unlike that country with its beleaguered economy and unruly population, Japan’s economy is doing so well. It is, after all, the only developed country whose economy SHRANK between 1993 and 2011 (Sources: IMF; “Embedded Racism” p. 291). Like Mutou says, there ARE bigger things to think about than a sports festival. Like, for example, regional assistance for the recovery from the triple disasters of 2011?

On that point, Mutou begins “talking up the yen” in terms of the potential economic impact of the 2020 Olympics:

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

“If you look at it in isolation, labor costs have started to rise recently and I understand that could have a negative effect on recovery,” Muto said. “But I think a successful Olympics will help people in the affected areas.

“Until very recently, there were around 8 million foreign tourists visiting Japan a year. In 2015 it rose to almost 20 million. The government thinks around 40 million tourists will visit in 2020. Those people will not only visit Tokyo but places all around the country. In the areas affected by the disaster there are various tourist spots, so it should have a beneficial effect.”

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

Yes, I’m sure people will be flocking to Fukushima and environs to see the tens of thousands of people still living in temporary housing more than five years after the disasters.

Finally, the article concludes with a word salad of slogans from Mutou:

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

“In the future, if the Olympics cost huge sums of money to stage, it will place a big burden on the people of that country. If that happens, more and more people will speak out against it. It’s not appropriate to have an extravagant Olympics. If it’s an Olympics that avoids wasting money, then I believe it can contribute toward peace.”

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

Given that even the JT article acknowledges the Olympian waste of money by reporting: “[T]he games have nonetheless been accused of gobbling up public funds and slowing the pace of recovery in the areas affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. […] French prosecutors investigating corruption allegations into the former head of world athletics last month expanded their probe to examine the bidding for Tokyo 2020,” it’s a bit rich for Mutou to conclude with yet another pat “peace” mantra, while ignoring his previous sentences on the burdens being put on the people of that country.

May the French prosecutors uncover something untoward and finally get this society-destroying jingoistic nonsense to stop.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Full article at:
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/04/national/2020-tokyo-olympics-ceo-weighs-security-differences-rio/

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

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

JT on Japan’s Brave Blossoms rugby team: “Imagining a Japan that thinks beyond blood and binary distinctions”

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
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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 important item that Debito.org has been negligent in celebrating is the victories of the Japan “Brave Blossoms” multiethnic rugby team.  They did very well, finishing ninth in the world rankings, even unexpectedly beating South Africa in a match, and part of that was claimed as being due to their multiethnic mix.

An interesting think-piece (that says much of what Debito.org has been saying for decades, and it’s nice to see that others share that view in print) came out in the Japan Times last October.  I’ll excerpt bits below that are pertinent to the rugby issue.  Bear in mind, however, that rugby in Japan has been decried as being TOO foreign in the past, and seen as a reason why Japan was losing (which was why the team was afterwards ethnically cleansed (see Embedded Racism p. 156), albeit clearly temporarily).  Then, once Japan wins, those very same characteristics are claimed as the reason why.  It would be nice if someday people would just keep analysis on the level of the talents of individual players, but that’s pretty far off (what with the beating of nationalistic drums every Olympics).

Anyway, Debito.org (belatedly) congratulates the Brave Blossoms on a job well done, and wishes them well in the future.  Sport can have a positive effect too on social tolerance.  As long as your teams wins, of course.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Imagining a Japan that thinks beyond blood and binary distinctions
BY J.J. O’DONOGHUE AND GAVAN PATRICK GRAY
The Japan Times, OCT 28, 2015 (excerpt)
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/10/28/voices/imagining-japan-thinks-beyond-blood-binary-distinctions/

The recent heroics of Japan’s team in the Rugby World Cup — three wins in the group stage, including the historic nail-biting victory over South Africa — pave the way for two potentially positive outcomes: a bright future for rugby on these islands, and, just maybe, a template to discuss identity and belonging in Japan.

It was obvious to anyone watching the Brave Blossoms’ games that of the 31 players included in Japan’s squad, some of the players did not appear — how should we put it? — typically Japanese. In fact, 11 players were born outside Japan — the same number, incidentally, as for the Welsh and Scottish teams. Under current rugby union rules, a player can be considered for selection for the national team if, amongst other considerations, they have lived in the country for three consecutive years.

But in 2015, how do we define “typically Japanese”? Do we do so through blood, race and ethnicity? Or would we not be better off opening up the field, and, much like the vaunted rugby squad, considering new ideas, while relegating outdated terms and modes of thinking to the sin bin?

Consider Kotaro Matsushima, one of Japan’s try scorers, born in South Africa to a Japanese mother and Zimbabwean father. He later attended Toin Gakuen High School in Yokohama. Matsushima, as well as being a big talent for Japan, is also what is known as a hāfu, a word stemming from the English word “half.” Generally “hāfu” is a benign term, used to signify someone who is half-Japanese and half something else — in the case of our children, half-Irish. It’s also, we would argue, an unfortunate term. […]

Of course there are problems to be overcome; tensions between groups, especially when stoked by self-serving political or media figures, need to be carefully handled, but most of these issues stem from native reactions to foreign arrivals rather than any inherent problem in the latter group.

In Japan, the native role in such problems has been highlighted eloquently by Haruko Arimura, the former minister for women’s empowerment. While arguing the government position that more female workers, rather than immigrants, is the better road to take, Arimura claimed that Japan’s negative treatment of immigrants could create the kind of resentment against Japan that might lead one of them to decide to become an Islamic State suicide bomber.

Setting aside the inherent xenophobia in this comment and the clear fact that her government’s security policy has vastly greater potential as a precursor to terrorist activity, Arimura offers a clear example of an expectation among Japanese people that attempts to assimilate immigrants into Japanese culture would create irreconcilable tensions.

This represents a fundamental failure to recognize that truly multicultural societies do not demand assimilation, the very idea of which would rob immigrants of the vibrancy and freshness that makes them so vital to Japan’s ability to reshape itself in coming decades. Instead, such communities recognize that a person’s place in society, including their identity as a citizen, should be tied to more important factors than the degree to which they conform to such superficial elements as the appearance of the majority.

So, in the afterglow of the national team’s success in England, let’s consider Japan’s rugby team — a truly talented mix — as something we should embrace as a concept and a model of what Japan has the potential to become.

Full article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/10/28/voices/imagining-japan-thinks-beyond-blood-binary-distinctions/
ENDS

UPDATE: Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon Japan tour “Japanese Only” registration is sanitized to include NJ residents, but “Japanese Citizenship” remains requirement on actual registration page

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
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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.  This is an update to the previous post, but it deserves a separate blog entry for the deceitfulness.  Thanks to Debito.org Readers contacting the organizers in Hong Kong, the 20th Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon made it clear to their Japan tour organizers (http://www.hkmarathon.jp) that restricting applications “exclusively for Japanese people” is unacceptable, as the event is open to all nationalities:

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

Case Ref No. FEED-VRSUP2-20151112-0378054 (BaCh/FiCh)

Dear Alex,

Thank you for contacting the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) on 10 November 2015, letting us know the comments posted on Dr. Arudou Debito’s website in regard to the registration requirements for the “2016 Hong Kong Marathon tour package” sold in Japan.

After receiving your email, we have immediately communicated with the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA), who is the organiser of Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon. According to HKAAA, all people who are residing in Japan, regardless of their nationalities, are allowed to join the mentioned tour. They have already advised the tour operator “Kinki Nippon Travel” to amend relevant wordings on the registration site . 

Once again, thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. Should we could be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to call me or send me an email. 

Best Regards,

Fion Cheng
Senior Executive, Visitor Services
Hong Kong Tourism Board

Direct line: +852 2807 6108
Direct fax: +852 2807 6581
Website: http://www.DiscoverHongKong.com

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

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly20151

This has resulted in changes to the website wording, from

“This tour is designed exclusively for Japanese people.  
Applications from other nationalities are not acceptable. Applications from non-Japanese runners will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.”

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly20152

to

“This tour is designed exclusively for people residing in Japan. 
Applications from other countries are not acceptable. Applications from runners who are not residing in Japan will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.”

HongKongMarathonResidentOnly1112152

Sounds better.  Gone is the assumption that foreign nationals living in Japan are not residents of Japan.

However, if you actually go to the website registration page (http://www.hkmarathon.jp/pre.html), the requirement for applicants of Japanese citizenship (item six in the bullet points: 私は日本国籍を有しています) is still there:

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly111315

(screen capture as of November 14, 2015 JST)

So although the English has changed for the purposes of placating the English-reading world, the “secret code for domestic consumption only” that is the Japanese written language is maintaining the same “Japanese Only” rules. It is very hard to see this as a mere oversight.

And as written, NJ resident applicants still face refusal and then a non-refund of their deposit payments. It’s gone from mere exclusionism to the potential for misleading applicants into corporate theft. How duplicitous and unprofessional of the Japan-side organizers. Imagine the internet uproar if a Japanese company made a mistake this big for its Japanese customers.  Again, its seems, foreign customers in Japan don’t matter.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE NOVEMBER 13, 2015:

Was tweeted this picture in regards to the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon registration desk for Japanese in Bangkok, Thailand.  Seems to be more systematic than just Japanese organizers within Japan.  More like the organization is excluding foreigners everywhere in the world, including in those nations where Japanese are foreigners themselves.

HongKongMarathonJeseOnlyTwitPic111215

More tweeted details from the same source were: “November 12, 2015 in Bangkok Thailand. Registration for the Standard Chartered BKK marathon. they also had their own ‘bib boards’ i.e. Names and bib numbers not with the rest of the marathon runners, but ‘separate'”.

20th Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon Japan tour registration is “Japanese Only”: “Applications from non-Japanese runners ‘invalid’, deposit payment not refunded.”

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
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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. We’ve seen exclusionism in Japan’s sports leagues before (baseball, hockey, the Kokutai, the Ekiden, and Sumo, for example). Now we can see that Japan uses the same exclusionary practices when it processes paying customers to participate in overseas events THROUGH Japanese companies. Such as can be seen here at the 20th Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon, which refuses all NJ customers (and will not refund their application fees, either):

Source: http://www.hkmarathon.jp, courtesy of HW.

Screen captures of the site, dated November 9, 2015:

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly20151

Note the bottom-right black box that says [ONLY JAPANESE].

This is reconfirmed when you scroll down to the next section, where it says in red script:

This tour is designed exclusively for Japanese people.  
Applications from other nationalities are not acceptable. Applications from non-Japanese runners will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly20152

And again in the right-hand column, just for good measure before you click on anything:

“This website is designed exclusively for Japanese people. Applications from other nationalities are not acceptable. Applications from non-Japanese runners will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.”

Who is managing this?  Again, scrolling down.

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly20153

We have Kinki Nippon Tourist Agency, The Club Tourism Marathon Tour (their slogan, “Let’s run the world!”), and HIS Travel Agency (aka No. 1 Travel, which has had “Japanese Only” pricing and different (higher) prices for foreign customers in the past).

Who’s sponsoring this?  The Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association, Standard Chartered Bank, and the Hong Kong Tourist Agency.  I wonder if they know this is going on.

COMMENT:  What’s wrong with this?  The assumption that anyone who does not have a Japanese passport is not a resident of Japan.  What about those people living permanently in Japan who might like to join this tour but do not have citizenship?  How are they supposed to partake in this tour?  Oh, I guess as customers, they just don’t count because they’re foreign. I would love to hear how this was justified at their board meetings when they decided upon this exclusionary policy.

As submitter HW said, “Apparently marathons are only for Japanese people. I wonder if they will let us watch, though?”  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

UPDATE NOVEMBER 12, 2015:  After the Hong Kong sponsors were contacted by Debito.org Readers, the Japanese marathon tour site was amended to read:  

“This tour is designed exclusively for people residing in Japan.  Applications from other countries are not acceptable. Applications from runners who are not residing in Japan will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded. ”  

The Hong Kong Tourism Association has written (full letter below):

After receiving your email, we have immediately communicated with the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA), who is the organiser of Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon. According to HKAAA, all people who are residing in Japan, regardless of their nationalities, are allowed to join the mentioned tour. They have already advised the tour operator “Kinki Nippon Travel” to amend relevant wordings on the registration site.

Gone is the assumption that foreigners in Japan are not residents of Japan.  Bravo HKAAA and HKTA for their quick and decisive work. And also thank you Debito.org Readers.  

UPDATE NOVEMBER 13, 2015:  

Alas, the job is not quite done.  On the application website itself, the requirement of Japanese Citizenship is still there.  More details here

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

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
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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!

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

But this exclusionism goes beyond a few isolated bigots in positions of power, who can be found in every society. It is so embedded that it becomes an indictment of the entire system.

In fact, embedded racism is key to how the system “works.” Or rather, as we shall see below, how it doesn’t…

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

Please comment below, and thanks for reading!

Yomiuri: More Japanese public baths OK tattooed visitors (particularly NJ) for 2020 Olympics: suddenly it’s all about showing “understanding of foreign cultures”

eBooks, Books, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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. I have just emerged from several weeks of proofing and indexing my upcoming book, “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination in Japan”. It will be out in 5-8 weeks. I will keep you updated on where you and your library can get a copy.

With that amount of busy-ness (sorry for the delay in posting to Debito.org), please let me turn the keyboard to Debito.org Reader JK:

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

Hi Debito: It looks this has grown legs and started walking, so if you’ll indulge me for a few minutes, I’ll provide some overdue commentary:

=========================================
More baths OK tattooed visitors; stickers needed
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002362434
The Yomiuri Shimbun, August 25, 2015

Restrictions on tattooed customers at bathing facilities and resort swimming areas are being loosened around the country.

A number of facilities allow people with tattoos to enter if the tattoos can be covered by stickers. This is aimed at treating foreign tourists, many of whom consider tattoos a fashion item, differently from gangsters, some of whom sport elaborate tattoos.

With the Olympics and Paralympics scheduled for Tokyo in 2020, some facilities are calling for greater understanding of cultural differences.

At Ofuro cafe utatane, a bathing facility in Kita Ward, Saitama, which is visited by about 250,000 people annually, the management decided to allow tattoos that can be covered with 12.8-centimeter by 18.2-centimeter stickers.

The new policy was started on a trial basis from Aug. 1. If no problems arise by the end of the month, the facility will officially implement the policy.

The manager of the facility, Toshiki Yamasaki, 32, is also director of the Nippon Ofuro Genki Project, an association of young managers of baths and other facilities.

“The number of foreign tourists has increased, so I felt we needed to accept tattoos as a form of culture,” he said.

Hoshino Resort Co., which manages 33 luxury hotel resorts and other facilities in Japan and abroad, has also decided to exempt customers from bathing restrictions if their tattoos can be covered by an eight-centimeter by 10-centimeter sticker starting from October.

A midsize hot spring resort in Niseko, Hokkaido, lifted restrictions on tattoos this spring.

The local ski resort is popular with foreign tourists because of the good snow quality.

“I believe we need to understand cultural differences with other countries,” the hotel manager said, adding that restrictions on gang members were still in place.

Baths, resorts and other facilities began banning all tattoos, including full-body irezumi tattoos, after the Antigang Law went into effect in 1992, though in practice some places admit tattooed customers.

The Japan Tourism Agency surveyed about 3,700 facilities nationwide in June to learn how the restrictions were affecting foreign travelers.

Tsuru University Prof. Yoshimi Yamamoto, an expert on tattoo issues, said: “The circumstances are such that facilities have no choice but to change their response. Easing restrictions can help shake up conventions.”

ENDS

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

COMMENT FROM JK:

1) Having a tattoo in Japan while being foreign AND not being a yakuza is an idea that is just now gaining traction?!

2) The (faulty) underlying assumption at work is that all yakuza have tattoos.

3) Suppose an NJ has several tattoos, or tattoos that cannot be covered by a single sticker, or even a full-body tattoo (surprise — just like yakuza, NJ get these too!), then what? More stickers? If so how may? Is ‘good enough’ coverage acceptable, or is perfection mandatory?

4) Despite the lack of a link to a Japanese translation, the idea being conveyed is that NJ with tattoos are outside of societal norms (read: betsuwaku), and so should not be treated as a yakuza since money can be made off them — this notion is beautifully illustrated by Mr. Toshiki Yamasaki who says, “The number of foreign tourists has increased, so I felt we needed to accept tattoos as a form of culture”.

5) Does the Antigang Law of 1992 actually have wording in it to the effect that onsen / sento operations are not permitted to admit persons with tattoos?

a) If not, then in the name of ‘understanding cultural differences with other countries’, let me into the Niseko hotel without requiring my tattoos to be covered!

b) If so, then put up a sign saying ‘No Japanese Gangsters Allowed’ and let me in with my tattoos uncovered — it’s not like such a sign would be breaking the law — to the contrary, it would be upholding it!!

6) Allowing the operator of a onsen / sento to determine someone’s ‘kakuzaness’ is akin to allowing them to determine ‘foreignness’ — in other words, the door is left open to abuse. -JK

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:

During the Otaru Onsens Case, where “Japanese Only” bathhouses were excluding customers because they didn’t look “Japanese” enough, one issue that was raised was, “Well, what about tattoos, then?” — and then conflated the two issues to muddy the debate with relativity (not to mention conflate the treatment of “foreigners” with the treatment of organized crime in Japan).  Debito.org has always seen tattoos as a different issue from skin color and other features determined from birth, as tattoos are something a person decides to put on themselves.  That said, this sudden “change of heart” (dressed up as a “respect for” and “understanding of” foreign cultures) is ahistorical and purely motivated by economics — i.e., the need for Japan to put on a good show for international events without the embarrassment of having bigots continue to cloak their exclusionary behavior with the specter of potential criminal activity (and there has been at least one case where “respect for foreign culture” involving tattoos didn’t matter one whit).

I conclude:  What’s at play here isn’t fair-mindedness.  It’s merely the phenomenon of “not in front of the foreigners”, especially since pretty soon there will be millions of them watching Japan.  I bet that once the Olympics pass, those open-minded rules will be rescinded and managers will revert to banning customers (particularly NJ) at whim all over again.  This isn’t the tack that JK is taking above, but that’s what I see.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

AOL News: J-League soccer ref speaks English to, then denigrates Japanese-German player, denies anything discriminatory. But then official protests from club!

eBooks, Books, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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.  Read this article and then I’ll comment:

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

Japan Soccer League 2: Did referee Takayama use discriminatory language towards Avispa Fukuoka’s Sakai Noriyoshi? Outrage on the Internet.
AOL News, June 10, 2015, courtesy of MMT, article below, translation by Debito

In the June 6 J2 match between teams Avispa Fukuoka and Tokushima Vortis, it has come to light in a club statement that Referee Takayama Hiroyoshi used discriminatory language against Fukuoka player Sakai Noriyoshi.

Sakai Noriyoshi is the younger brother of Japan soccer representative Sakai Goutoku, who is half-Japanese, half-German. In the 35th minute of the second half during a foul, Referee Takayama asked in English “Are you OK?”, to which Sakai answered in Japanese, “Daijoubu desu”. Takayama then apparently said, “What the… you [using omae, a masculine, informal, often disparaging or belligerent way to say “you”], you can speak Japanese after all.” To which the bystanding players protested.

At that time Referee Takayama promised that he would apologize after the game, but no apologies were forthcoming. The club protested to the commissioner, but during investigations Takayama denied that there was any discriminatory statement made.

Although some on the Internet held the opinion that “This was a simple misunderstanding”, many more were critical of Takayama, saying “Even if a mistake had been made, the problem is this attitude afterwards of denying anything discriminatory was said at all”, “Above all else, this very discourse of ‘omigod you can speak Japanese’ is tantamount to an insult, isn’t it?”, “After 10 years of blowing whistles for the J-League, it’s incredible that [Takayama] wouldn’t know who Sakai is”.

Working as a J-League referee from 2002, Takayama is a veteran international ref. After this incident the J-League fans’ comments turned to criticisms of Takayama’s past mistaken calls. The club itself sees this incident as something serious, and Avispa Fukuoka plans to issue a statement on this to the J-League.
ENDS

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

COMMENT:  Did you just see what I saw?

1) A ref basically dealt with a player in a racialized manner (assuming that a player who to him looked “foreign” had to be spoken to in a foreign language; English of course — what else do “foreigners” speak?).

2) The ref made a sarcastic statement of surprise about someone looking foreign speaking Japanese (a common microaggression).

3) Bystanding players made an issue of it.  (Amazing in itself, given how people who suffer from these types of microaggressions are usually told to grin and bear them.)

4) The ref broke his promise to apologize, in fact denied the fundamental fact of the case.

and… this is the most important bit:

5) The club stood by their player and made an issue of it too.  They’re not just sweeping this under the carpet and telling Sakai that he has to grow a pair and be less sensitive.  They are telling Takayama (and Sakai, and the authorities, and the public) that this is irresponsible and unprofessional behavior.

One more pleasant surprise was how the Internet reacted (or was reported to have reacted — often the reporters themselves buy into the microaggression and write a biased article misrepresenting the issue).  They saw the microaggression for what it is — a means to police someone’s identity into a disempowered place.  It also helped that the Takayama misjudged how his reflex to deny everything would only make the problem worse.  Great call.

As far as Debito.org sees things, this is definite progress, and hopefully the arc being traced since the J-League punished the “Japanese Only” J-League exclusionism in March 2014.  Bravo to the players, the reporter, and the club for doing something about this. As FIFA themselves say, racism has no place in sports, and cracking down here even on a seemingly minor (but significant in terms of zero tolerance) incident makes for a rare positive precedent in Japan’s egregiously racialized sports leagues (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

Let’s see if Takayama actually grows a pair of his own and apologizes.  Perhaps if this issue leaks into the foreign-language media (this guy is an international ref, after all), he might.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Original Japanese:

J2アビスパ福岡・酒井宣福に高山主審が差別発言?ネット上でも物議を醸す
AOLニュース 2015年6月10日 12時00分 (2015年6月11日 10時03分 更新)
http://www.excite.co.jp/News/entertainment_g/20150610/Aol_celebrity_j2fukuoka.html

6月6日に行われたJ2第17節、アビスパ福岡対徳島ヴォルティス戦で、高山啓義主審が、福岡の酒井宣福に差別発言を行いクラブ側が意見書を提出する方針であることが明らかとなった。

酒井宣福は、日本代表・酒井高徳の弟で日本人とドイツ人のハーフだが、試合後半35分のファールの際に主審が「Are You OK?」英語で質問したところ日本語で「大丈夫です」と返した酒井に「なんだ、お前、日本語を話せるんだ」と応じ、居合わせた選手から抗議を受けていたという。

その場は高山審判から「後で謝罪する」と約束したものの、試合後も謝罪の言葉がなかったことから、クラブ側がコミッショナーに抗議、事情聴取で発言自体を主審が否定しているという。

ネット上でも「単純に勘違いしたんだろ」との意見はあるものの「間違ったにしても、その後の発言自体を否定する態度に問題がある」「そもそも日本語が話せるんだという物言い事態が侮辱にあたるのでは?」「10年もJリーグの笛を吹いていて酒井のことを知らない自体がおかしい」など高山審判への批判の声は多い。

高山主審は2002年からJリーグで主審を務めるベテラン審判で国際主審、この事件発覚後、Jリーグのファンから過去の誤審問題なども例に挙げられ批判を受けているが、クラブ側も今回の事件を重く見てアビスパ福岡はJリーグに意見書を提出する方針を固めたという。

ENDS

=========================
Similar Sports Nippon article:

日独ハーフのMF酒井に主審が差別的発言 J2福岡が意見書提出へ
スポニチ 2015年6月10日 06:30
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/soccer/news/2015/06/10/kiji/K20150610010513970.html

6日に開催されたJ2リーグの福岡―徳島戦(レベスタ)で高山啓義主審(41)が選手に対して差別的な発言をした疑惑が浮上した。

問題のシーンは後半35分、接触プレーで倒れ込んだ福岡のMF酒井宣福(のりよし=22)に「Are you OK?」と英語で質問。「大丈夫です」と日本語で返されると「なんだ、お前、日本語を話せるんだ」と嘲笑しながら応じたという。やり取りを見ていたチームメートから「審判それはないでしょ」と突っ込まれると「後で謝る」と約束したが、謝罪はなかった。

酒井から報告を受けたクラブ側は試合後にマッチコミッショナーに抗議。事情聴取を受けた高山主審が「そんなことは言ってない」と説明したため、近日中にJリーグに意見書を提出する方針を固めた。

酒井は日本人とドイツ人のハーフでシュツットガルトの日本代表DF酒井高徳の弟。クラブ関係者は「外国人風の見た目ではあるが、Jリーグで何度も笛を吹いている審判なら宣福のことは知ってるはず。差別的な発言とも取れる」と問題視した。高山主審は02年からJ1リーグで主審を務めており、国際主審でもある。
ENDS

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

eBooks, Books, and more from 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
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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!

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

Quiet NJ Success Story: Go game master and naturalized citizen Seigen Go dies at age 100

eBooks, Books, and more from 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
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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!

Hello Blog. Here’s something that might go relatively unnoticed unless we bring it up here at Debito.org:

//////////////////////////////////////
Go master Seigen Go dies
The Yomiuri Shimbun
December 01, 2014
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001757079, courtesy of JK.

Go master Seigen Go, heralded as the strongest professional player in the Showa era, died of old age early Sunday morning at a hospital in Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture. He was 100.

Funeral services will be held with only close relatives in attendance, but a more public farewell ceremony is expected to be held at a later time.

Go was born in 1914 in Fujian Province, China. His talent at go was recognized at an early age, and in 1928 he came to Japan at the age of 14. Go became a disciple of Kensaku Segoe, a seventh-dan player, and was quickly promoted to third dan the following year. He was granted the ninth dan in 1950 and became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 1979.

In 1933, Go and fifth-dan player Minoru Kitani announced a new strategy focusing on the center of the board, which has become the basis of modern go strategy.

Go dominated professional circles until his retirement in 1984, waging fierce battles with top players.
ENDS

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

Why does this matter to Debito.org? As submitter JK notes:

Hi Debito: IMO there’s more going on here than just a typical obituary — to me, the article is an NJ success story. BTW, it’s a shame the article doesn’t detail Go’s decision to naturalize at 65 instead of earlier (e.g. 1950 when he reached ninth dan).

Quite. We hear all sorts of provincial navel-gazing whenever somebody foreign dominates a “Japanese” sport like sumo (to the point where the Sumo Association has to change to rules to count naturalized Japanese as “foreign”, in violation of the Nationality Law). Maybe there was that kind of soul-searching when Go ascended, I don’t know (it was two generations ago). But it is a remarkable legacy to leave behind, and I wonder if there are any Go-nerds out there who might give us some more background. Like JK, I think there’s a deeper story here. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Ministry of Justice Bureau of Human Rights 2014 on raising public awareness of NJ human rights (full site scanned with analysis: it’s underwhelming business as usual)

eBooks, Books, and more from 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
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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. I received this email from Debito.org Reader AM last March (sorry for taking so long to get to it):

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

March 3, 2014
AM:  Debito, I saw an internet banner ad on the asahi.com website that along with a cartoon figure, posed the question “gaikokujin no jinken mamotteru?” [Are you protecting the human rights of NJ?]

I thought I must have been seeing things, but clicking through I landed on a Japan Ministry of Justice page offering advice on how to protect the rights of non-Japanese.

http://www.moj.go.jp/JINKEN/jinken04_00101.html

It seems that this is a campaign is part of Japan’s push to ready the country for the 2020 Olympics, addressing issues such as ryokan denying service to non Japanese.

Definitely a nice change from the focus on hooliganism leading up to the World Cup in 2002.
====================================

COMMENT: I would agree. It’s much better to see Non-Japanese as people with rights than as rapacious and devious criminals who deserve no rights because, according to the Ministry of Justice’s own surveys, NJ aren’t as equally human as Japanese. And this is not the first antidiscrimination campaign by the Japanese Government, in the guise of the mostly-potemkin Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu, or BOHR) nominally assigned to protect human rights in Japan (which, as Debito.org has pointed out before, have put out some pretty biased and insensitive campaigns specifically regarding NJ residents in Japan). And did I mention the Japanese Government in general has a habit of portraying important international issues in very biased ways if there’s ever a chance of NJ anywhere getting equal treatment or having any alleged power over Japanese people? It’s rarely a level playing field or a fair fight in Japan’s debate arenas or awareness campaigns.

So now that it’s 2014, and another influential Olympics looms, how does the BOHR do this time? (And I bother with this periodic evaluation because the Japanese Government DOES watch what we do here at Debito.org, and makes modifications after sufficient embarrassments…) I’ll take screen captures of the whole site, since they have a habit of disappearing after appearing here.  Here’s the top page:

MOJBOHR2014001

ANALYSIS: The first page opens nicely with the typically-gentle grade-school register of slogan entreaty (nakayoku shimashou or “let’s all be nice to one another, everyone”), with “Let’s respect the human rights of foreigners” (entreaty is all they CAN do, since they’re not in a position to demand compliance when racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan).  It  includes their image-characters Jinken Mamoru-Kun and Jinken Ayumi-Chan.

But then it immediately veers into “guestism” territory by citing the long-range statistic of a record 11,250,000 NJ entering (nyuukoku) “our country” (wagakuni) Japan.  It’s not a matter of considering the rights of the 2 million NJ already here as residents as part of wagakuni — it’s a matter of treating all “entrants” with respect due to their obvious and automatic “differences” we’ll conveniently list off for you (language, religion, culture, customs, etc.).  They are being denied apartments, entrance into bathhouses (thanks!), and barbershops.  Also mentioned are hate-speech demos against “certain nationalities” (yes, the Zainichi Koreans).  Then comes mention of the Tokyo Summer Olympics 2020, and how there will be even more chances to come into contact with NJ.  That’s why the MOJ’s BOHR is insisting that we “respect” (sonchou) the human right of foreigners, raise awareness, and take on “enlightenment activities” (keihatsu katsudou — because, again, that’s all the BOHR can do because it has no policing or punitive powers) to help “the citizens” (kokumin — not the “residents”, which would include NJ) rid society of the prejudices and discrimination, and understand and respect foreigners’ livestyle customs (seikatsu shuukan).

Ready for more official “othering” of the people we’re ostensibly trying to protect?  Next bit, a 2012 Cabinet research survey:

MOJBOHR2014002

ANALYSIS:  According to this survey, they asked Japanese citizens only (not the NJ themselves) what they thought were the types of human-rights problems NJ face in Japan.  The two top responses were “not having their differing customs and habits accepted by society” (34.8%) exactly tied with “NJ don’t face any special problems/I don’t know“! (Not a surprising outcome if you’re not the people being discriminated against; it’s like asking the foxes about what problems they think the chickens have.)  The other issues mentioned are disadvantages faced at work or finding work (25.9%), finding apartments (a real doozy of a problem, yet only 24.9%), being stared at or avoided (15.9%), facing discriminatory behavior (15%), being bullied at school or the workplace (12.9%), facing opposition for getting married (12.5%), and being refused entry to hotels and shops (6.3%).

Which means that in this survey, where the questions are not open-ended, that out of all these preset options conveniently provided for the surveyed (see Q12, none of which mention racial discrimination, natch) with multiple answers possible, a full third of all votes went to “I don’t see/don’t know any problem.”  That’s pretty widespread ignorance, especially since this is the only question about discrimination in this survey that CANNOT be asked of the discriminatees.

The next section in the above screen capture talks about what services have been offered to NJ who claim they’ve had their human rights violated.  First example is of a BOHR investigation conducted for a claimant (who was refused entry into a barbershop), and how it was ascertained that he was indeed refused, and how the BOHR “explained” (setsuji) to the store manager that he should improve how he offers his barbering services.  The end.

The next example leads into the next screen capture:

MOJBOHR2014003

The next case is of a ryokan hotel refusing a foreigner entry when he was making a reservation over the internet.  After investigation, the ryokan managment said they’d had the experience of some foreigner who did not speak Japanese [as if that is somehow relevant] who walked off with hotel goods.  The BOHR again “explained” to the management that being NJ was not grounds for refusal under the Hotel Management Law, that this act was discriminatory behavior, and that they did not accept this explanation as a rational reason for refusal.  Again, the end.  Your hardworking taxes in action.

Next up, some more tax outlay for “enlightening” posters and events (screen captures above and below):

MOJBOHR2014004

It’s again of the “entreaty genre” in register, with the confused Jinken kids saying “it’s important to understand each other”, “What are violations of human rights towards foreigners?” and “Could you be discriminating against foreigners?” (Love the presumption of innocence for Japanese readers, which NJ, when officially portrayed as illegal workers, criminals, terrorists, and carriers of contagious diseases, don’t get.)  And finally:

MOJBOHR2014005

We have some more links to BOHR services, enlightenment videos, Cabinet announcements re stopping exclusionism towards “certain nationalities”, and a nice-looking soft-pastel November 15, 2014 symposium in Osaka entitled “Foreigners and human rights:  Acknowledge the differences, and live together”.  Sorry I missed it.  Featured is is a “Talk Show” by Todai literature professor and radio personality Dr. Robert Campbell, and a panel discussion with only one NJ on board (Alberto Matsumoto, a Nikkei of Argentine extraction who runs an ideas shop):

MOJBOHR2014006

CONCLUSION:  Again, much talk about NJ and their lives here with minimized involvement of the NJ themselves.  As my friend noted, it’s better this than having NJ openly denigrated or treated as a social threat.  However, having them being treated as visitors, or as animals that need pacifying through Wajin interlocutors, is not exactly what I’d call terribly progressive steps, or even good social science.  But that’s what the BOHR, as I mentioned above, keeps doing year after year, and it keeps their line items funded and their underwhelming claims of progressive action to the United Nations (see here, word search for “Legal Affairs Bureau”) window-dressed.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Yomiuri: TV shows to get foreign-language subtitles by 2020 for “foreign visitors” to Tokyo Olympics. Nice, but how about for NJ residents now?

eBooks, Books, and more from 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
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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 a little less dramatic (but no less pesky and maybe even indicative of something unconscious) for a hot summer Sunday in Japan.  Article and comments courtesy of KM.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Hi Debito!  Here’s another indication that the government cares more about short-term visitors than about the foreigners who actually live here:

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

TV shows to get foreign-language subtitles by 2020
July 22, 2014, The Yomiuri Shimbun, courtesy of KM
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001439680

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry will develop a system to show Japanese TV programs with subtitles in foreign languages, including English and Chinese, to provide a more comfortable viewing experience for foreign visitors, according to sources.

In response to the increasing number of visitors from overseas, the envisaged system will be launched by 2020, the year in which the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held, the sources said.

Behind the ministry’s decision were requests from foreign visitors for more foreign-language subtitles for domestic TV programs. The envisaged system will be offered for news programs related to visitors’ safety and security during their stay, as well as variety shows.

A TV station broadcasts a program in the original Japanese, then the contents are automatically translated by a system to produce the foreign-language subtitles. Finally, the subtitles are sent to TV screens via the Internet.

The ministry will form a promotional organization comprising broadcasting stations, IT firms, electronics companies, research institutes and others by the year-end. The organization is expected to begin trials in fiscal 2015.

The ministry will encourage the communications and IT industries to take part in offering translation and subtitle distribution services for the system. The promotional organization will be tasked with studying how the cost of translation services and distributing the subtitles should be covered.

ENDS

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

KM:  I have a few thoughts about this:

  1. It probably would be nice to have more programing with English subtitles (and subtitles in other languages) but I’m a bit surprised that such a huge adjustment to daily programing in Japan would be made on behalf of those visiting short-term for the olympics. Of course, it would be open to anyone but the article (and a similar article in Japanese) makes it sound like the olympics and the comments of short-term visitors are primary motivations for the change.
  2. The article says that Japanese content will be “automatically translated by a system to produce the foreign-language subtitles.” Such subtitles might be intelligible for things like a weather forecast, but I can’t imagine them being of much use (except as something to laugh at — because of their poor quality) with variety programs.
  3. Instead of making a major adjustment like this to satisfy the whims of short-term visitors, perhaps the money to make this change could be spent to improve the quality of disaster information and disaster warning systems for people who actually live here.

 

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

Japanese:

テレビに外国語の字幕、五輪までに実現…総務省
2014年07月21日 読売新聞
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/it/20140721-OYT1T50025.html

総務省は、テレビのニュース番組などに英語や中国語など外国語の字幕が表示されるよう取り組む方針だ。

東京五輪・パラリンピックが開かれる2020年までに表示が始まるようにする。増加する訪日外国人が、より快適に過ごせる環境を整備する狙いだ。

日本を訪れた外国人から、テレビ番組に外国語の字幕を増やしてほしいとの声が出ており、滞在中の安心・安全にかかわるニュースのほか、バラエティー番組などで対応することにした。

字幕は、インターネットと接続するテレビに表示する。放送局が番組を電波で流し、自動翻訳システムで外国語に変換した字幕をネット経由で画面に映す仕組みを想定している。年内に放送局やIT企業、家電メーカー、研究機関などによる推進組織を設立し、15年度から実証実験を始める。

ENDS

MLB J-baseball player Kawasaki Munenori doing his best to speak English to North American media. Debito.org approves.

eBooks, Books, and more from 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)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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!
This money will only be used for hosting and maintenance costs. Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog.  While we’re on the subject of sports, here’s something that I found very positive:  A Japanese baseball player for the Toronto Blue Jays named Kawasaki Munenori doing his darnedest to meet the domestic press:


Courtesy http://www.viralviralvideos.com/2014/04/18/japanese-baseball-player-gives-epic-interview/

I have written in the past about how certain other Japanese athletes overseas do it differently.  In fact, my very first newspaper column (in the Asahi Evening News — remember when it was titled that?) way back in 1997 was a grumble (what else? I’m Debito) on how J-baseball pioneer Nomo Hideo (remember him?) was skiving in terms of trying to connect with his adoptive community:
nomoAEN

I will admit right now that I’m no expert on sports, but from what I’ve seen (and I’m welcome to correction/updates), many of Japan’s athletes overseas don’t bother to publicly learn the language, or connect all that much with their local community. Baseball superstar Ichiro is the immediate example that comes to mind, as AFAIK he assiduously avoids American media; some might justify it by saying he’s all business (i.e., focused on the game) or trying to avoid gaffes.  But I still think it comes off as pretty snobby, since these sportsmen’s lives are being supported by fans, and they should give something back.

If I had a hotline into their brain, I would tell them to go further — exhort them to  countermand the dominant discourse that English is too hard for Japanese to learn well.  And then I would exhort even further:  J sportsmen in the big leagues get treated pretty well (especially salarywise — that’s why they’re no longer playing in Japan!), yet you never hear them speaking up about the shoe on the other foot, on behalf of the often lousy and discriminatory treatment many NJ sportsmen get treated in Japan (imagine if the United States put such stringent foreigner limits on their baseball team rosters, for example; contrast it with how many foreign players (more than a quarter of the total in 2012) MLB actually absorbs!)

Again, sports isn’t quite my field, and if you think I’m being inaccurate or unduly harsh, speak up!  People have in the past:  Here’s an archived discussion we had nearly twenty years ago about Nomo in specific; I daresay that despite all the trailblazing Nomo did, and the wave of Japanese baseball players going overseas to seek fame and fortune, little has changed in terms of giving back.

That’s why Kawasaki is such a lovely exception, doing his level best to connect.  His earnestness is very endearing. Debito.org gives two thumbs up!  May more follow his example.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

World Cup 2014: Held in Brazil, but causes tightened police security in Tokyo due to alleged possibility of “vandalism”

eBooks, Books, and more from 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)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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. As you probably know, the World Cup kicked off today. I found today’s Brazil vs. Croatia match a rather lackluster performance by the favored Brazilian team.  And for the record, I especially disliked ESPN’s announcer pointing out that the ref, who called the crucial penalty kick on questionable grounds, is a Japanese (insinuating he made the bad call BECAUSE he’s a Japanese), as it’s completely irrelevant.  Bad form, ESPN.

But what you probably didn’t know is that back in Japan, the Japanese police are back up to their old tricks of linking foreigners anywhere in the world to domestic crime. Get a load of this:

////////////////////////////////////////
Police to flood Shibuya as Japan kicks off World Cup campaign
The Japan Times NATIONAL JUN 11, 2014
Comments at the JT at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/06/11/national/police-flood-shibuya-japan-kicks-world-cup-campaign/

Tokyo police will deploy about 800 officers in the Shibuya area Sunday to control crowds and reduce jams, noise and possible vandalism as Japan faces Cote d’Ivoire in the opening round of soccer’s World Cup.

“We expect considerable congestion with soccer fans, shoppers and tourists,” a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department said Wednesday. “We will take necessary security measures to ensure a smooth traffic flow, control the congestion and prevent trouble.”

Officers will be deployed around the main scramble intersection outside Shibuya Station, as well as in the Hachiko statue square and several adjacent streets where bars and cafes are likely to have the match playing on TVs. There will also be several public viewing spots in the area.

The police presence will last from 10 a.m., when the match kicks off, until 2 p.m., the spokesman said.

On an average day, 2.26 million passengers pass through Shibuya Station.

“It depends on the degree of congestion, but officers will direct the crowd of soccer fans not to flock to one area,” the spokesman said.

The police have no plans yet to cordon off areas or enforce traffic controls, he said.

The crossing in front of Shibuya Station attracts soccer fans every time Japan plays an international match, leading to rowdy, good-natured revelry.
ENDS
////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT: Sooo…. once again we see the bad precedents established by bringing any major international event to Japan.  I’ve written before on the bad precedents set by, for example, the G8 Summits (where foreigners anywhere in Japan, even hundreds of miles away in Hokkaido!, are cause for NPA crackdowns in the capital).  And also the same with the 2002 World Cup, where the media was whipped into a frenzy over the possible prospect of “hooligans” laying waste to Japan and siring unwanted babies from rapes (seriously).  This time, in 2014, the games are thousands of miles away in Brazil.  But the NPA has still gotta crack down!  Who knows what those Ivory Coasters might get up to!  The paranoia, bunker mentalities, even outright falsification of data in order to justify a more-policed Japan are reaching ever more ludicrous degrees.  How immature this all is.  Dr. ARUDOU Debito

 

Asahi & Kyodo: Japan’s soccer leagues taking anti-discrimination courses, meting out punishments for racism

eBooks, Books, and more from 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)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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. Some good news:

The Urawa Reds’ fans “Japanese Only” banner last March (which, as Debito.org reported, could have been as usual swept under the carpet of cultural relativism) has occasioned much debate (see here and here) and even proactive and remedial measures. Witness this:

AS20140427001051SaitamaJapaneseonly

///////////////////////////////////////////
“J.League players to take anti-discrimination classes after racist banner
The Asahi Shinbun, May 30, 2014, courtesy of Yokohama John
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201405300045

J.League’s players and team officials will be forced to take mandatory anti-discrimination classes as fallout from a fan’s banner that said “Japanese Only” and was not removed from a stadium during a league game in March.

Officials with the Justice Ministry’s legal affairs bureaus and local volunteer human rights advocates commissioned by the agency, in agreement with the league, will visit all 51 teams in the J1, J2 and J3 divisions from June onward to give the classes.

“Team players and spectators sometimes commit discriminatory acts without realizing the significance,” said a public relations official with the J.League.

“We will equip the players and staff members with the proper knowledge through the training course.”

The decision came in response to a discriminatory incident that occurred on March 8 when the banner appeared in a concourse over an entrance gate to seating at the Urawa Red Diamonds’ stadium in a game against Sagan Tosu.

Urawa Reds employees failed to remove the banner even after the game, prompting criticism of the team’s handling of the incident. The Reds were forced to play their next home game in an empty stadium as punishment by the J.League.

Similar well-publicized incidents have occurred in other countries during professional league soccer games, including one where a player made a discriminatory remark during a match and another where a spectator threw a banana at a black defender.

The class instructors will expound on what acts constitute discrimination and use specific incidents, such as when a foreigner was denied admission to a “sento” (public bath), to demonstrate discriminatory acts. They will also discuss ways to improve interactions with foreigners, sources said.”
///////////////////////////////////////////

Well, good. I’m not going to nit-pick this well-intentioned and positive move. It’s long overdue, and Debito.org welcomes it.

(Well, okay, one thing:  It’s funny how the lore on our Otaru Onsens Case (i.e., the “sento” denying entry to “a foreigner”) has boiled down to one “foreigner” (which I was not, and it was more people denied than just me) going to just one sento (there were at least three with “Japanese Only” signs up at the time in Otaru). Somehow it’s still a case of “discrimination against foreigners”, which is the wrong lesson to take from this case, since the discrimination also targeted Japanese people.)

Now witness this:

///////////////////////////////////////////
J3 player handed three-game ban for racist comments
KYODO NEWS MAY 30, 2014 Courtesy of Yokohama John
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2014/05/30/soccer/j-league/j3-player-handed-three-game-ban-for-racist-comments/

Defender Sunao Hozaki, who plays for Kanazawa Zweigen in the J. League’s lower-tier J3 division, will be suspended for three games due to racist comments he made to an opposing player in a match against FC Machida last Saturday in Ishikawa Prefecture, his club announced Friday.

Kanazawa said in consideration of the opposing player’s rights, they have not made public the comments used against him. They also have not mentioned him by name. Hozaki will be suspended for matches on June 1, June 8 and June 14.

The Japan Football Association’s disciplinary standard for a player who commits acts of racism is suspension of at least five games and a fine of ¥100,000 or more. However, Hozaki’s punishment was lightened, taking into consideration that he apologized directly to the player following the match.
///////////////////////////////////////////

Good too, on the face of it. But I will nit-pick this a little: It would have been nice to know what was said, and what constitutes “racist” in this context. But the fact that tolerance for this sort of behavior has gone way down, and is not being dismissed as mere “misunderstandings”, is a positive step.

Perhaps the Urawa Reds Case is in fact a watershed moment.  I just hope the lore doesn’t bleach out as many important facts of the case as it has the Otaru Onsens Case.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Asahi: ‘Japanese Only’ banner at soccer stadium a microcosm of discrimination in Japan (E&J)

eBooks, Books, and more from 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)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
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.  Big news this week I hadn’t gotten around to blogging was Monday’s front-page story in the Asahi Shinbun, about Japan’s “Japanese Only” signs, with a sizable chunk of the article devoted to the research that Debito.org has done on them.

It made a huge splash in the media.  So much so that TV Asahi will be doing a segment on it on Sunday during their show『報道ステーションSUNDAY』(毎週日曜日10時~11時45分)for being one of the Asahi’s most viewed online articles of the week. So switch it on and have a watch. Anyone want to record the segment for replay on Debito.org?

Here’s the article from the English version of the Asahi (significantly different from how it appeared in Japanese), followed by the original Japanese.  Have a read.  And thank you, everyone, for reading and supporting Debito.org.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

AsahiJapaneseOnly0428141

 ‘Japanese Only’ banner at soccer stadium a microcosm of discrimination in Japan

April 28, 2014, AJW: THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201404280062

A “Japanese Only” banner at a professional soccer game made international headlines and led to unprecedented penalties. But such signs are not new in Japan, and some have even appeared at tourist hotspots.

It is true that some signs like these have been put up by people who genuinely dislike citizens of other countries. But many others say they had no intention to be discriminatory, and that their “Japanese Only” displays stem from the language barrier and problems with foreign customers unaware of Japanese rules and customs.

Two apparent reasons why these signs keep showing up is a general sense of apathy among the public and a lack of understanding at how offensive the words can be for foreigners in Japan.

That behavior was evident on March 8 at Saitama Stadium, where a large “Japanese Only” banner was set up at an entrance to seats at the Urawa Reds’ home opener.

A 33-year-old company employee from Tokyo asked security guards to tell the soccer team to remove the banner. It remained on display throughout the game.

“Even though it was clearly discriminatory, people did not notice, or they just ignored it because they did not want to become involved,” the man said. “The stadium on that day may have been a microcosm of Japanese society today.”

The man said responsibility should be shared by those who displayed the banner, as well as the team and fans who ignored the banner. He also blamed himself for lacking the courage to remove it.

The J.League penalized the Urawa Reds over the banner by requiring it to play a match at an empty Saitama Stadium.

The Urawa Boys Snake, the group that made the banner, along with other fan groups that regularly cheer the Reds behind the goal, were disbanded.

The offending banner was apparently planned well in advance.

In February, a member of the Snake fan group tweeted: “We may have to take matters into our own hands and further worsen Japan-South Korea relations.”

Hours before the March 8 match, three members of the group, intoxicated, brought in a white cloth measuring 70 centimeters high and 2.5 meters wide. They put the cloth on the concrete and spray-painted “Japanese Only” in black letters. The banner was set up beside a Hinomaru national flag.

Why was the banner set up?

The small amount of information still left on the Internet led to a college student, who said he was a Snake member but denied any involvement in the creation of the banner.

At his Tokyo campus in mid-April, the student, in his 20s, said he joined the group when he was in senior high school. He said there were about 20 members, including company employees and civil servants.

The student said he gradually began disliking China and South Korea because of the jeering from their fans at soccer matches.

“Their cheers are clearly ‘anti-Japanese,’” the student said. “It is obvious to anyone who attends the games.”

The Reds fans considered the area behind the goal as their domain, and some wanted to keep foreigners out of that space, the student said.

Although nationalistic emotions are common at sporting events, “Japanese Only” signs have appeared in areas of Japan that are geared toward tourists from overseas.

On Christmas Day in 2013, a 25-year-old American on his third trip to Japan visited the Imperial Palace and the popular Sensoji temple in Tokyo’s Asakusa with a Japanese senior high school student. The two became friends when the student was studying in the United States.

On that day, the American said he wanted to eat “tendon,” tempura placed over a bowl of rice, so they waited in line for five minutes at a well-known tempura restaurant in the Asakusa area.

However, the American noticed the “Japanese Only” sign at the entrance and asked what it meant. They eventually decided not to enter.

After business one day, the owner of the restaurant explained the purpose of the sign.

“It only applies when we are busy,” the owner said. “We have no intention of discriminating.”

The owner explained that the sign was put up mainly because of trouble caused by groups of Chinese tourists who stepped on the tatami mats with their shoes on or who ventured up to the second floor without asking permission.

“If we have to close business because of public hygiene problems, we will be the ones facing trouble,” the owner said. “Who will take responsibility when that happens?”

The owner, who received a phone call saying the sign was inappropriate, showed a new sign that will be displayed at the entrance. It says, “Japanese Language Only.”

Debito Arudou, 49, who was born in the United States but became a naturalized Japanese in 2000, has carefully followed the display of such signs for more than a decade.

Arudou said he found more than 50 examples from around Japan of signs saying “Japanese Only” or “Foreigners are not allowed.” They were posted at a pachinko parlor in Hokkaido, bars in Gunma, Aichi and Hiroshima prefectures, a real estate agency in Osaka and a karaoke shop in Okinawa.

Arudou, who wrote his doctoral dissertation about discrimination in Japan at the University of Hawaii, asked whether the Japanese have ever imagined how many foreigners have been hurt by such words.

His interest in discrimination in Japan began in 1999, when he was teaching at a private university in Hokkaido. He was denied entry to a hot spring in Otaru, which he visited with his family.

In 2001, he filed a lawsuit seeking compensation from the hot spring operator and the Otaru municipal government. The following year, the Sapporo District Court found the “Japanese Only” sign posted at the hot spring to be discriminatory.

Whenever he found such signs in other areas of Japan, Arudou talked to the owners to ask their reasons. Some said foreigners made other customers nervous, while others claimed foreigners did not abide by Japanese manners. Half of the owners refused his request to take down their signs.

A bar in Kobe displayed a sign that said “Japanese People Only,” but removed it after receiving advice from a stranger.

“A very kind individual told me that the sign was not appropriate,” said the 51-year-old owner.

Kobe is home to many foreigners because consulates and universities are located in the area.

“There were fights or rowdy customers so I decided to ban those who did not speak Japanese since I was not fluent in English,” the owner said.

Two years ago, the owner received an e-mail from a Japanese he did not know, saying the sign should be changed.

“I never thought it could be taken as discriminatory,” the owner said.

After removing the “Japanese Only” sign, the owner placed a new sign in English that laid out the bar rules, including the various prices charged.

“I was lazy even though I knew that something could have been done if I just spoke to the customers,” the owner said. “Nationality is irrelevant when it comes to loud or rowdy customers.”

Both Japanese and foreigners now frequent the bar.

ENDS

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

ORIGINAL JAPANESE

「ジャパニーズオンリー」店にも 貼り紙に傷つく外国人
朝日新聞 2014年4月28日07時17分

http://digital.asahi.com/articles/ASG4R6SBPG4RUTIL04W.html?_requesturl=articles/ASG4R6SBPG4RUTIL04W.html&iref=comkiji_txt_end_s_kjid_ASG4R6SBPG4RUTIL04W
AS20140427001051SaitamaJapaneseonly
埼玉スタジアムに掲げられた「JAPANESE ONLY」の横断幕=サポーター提供

キックオフの2時間前。酒に酔った30代の男たちが、1階通路に集まっていた。3月8日午後2時すぎ、快晴の埼玉スタジアム。Jリーグ浦和レッズのサポーター集団「ウラワボーイズ・スネーク」の3人だ。本拠地開幕戦だった。

縦70センチ、横2・5メートルの白い布と、スプレー缶を持ち込んでいた。コンクリートの床に敷き、黒い文字で、英語を吹き付けた。

JAPANESE(ジャパニーズ) ONLY(オンリー)

午後4時前。ゴール裏の観客席は、浦和のユニホームを着た熱心なサポーターで、真っ赤に染まっていた。席の出入り口に、3人はつくったばかりの横断幕を掲げた。隣には、日の丸が掲げられていた。

「同じ言葉だ」

6日後、東京都内の高校3年金居弘樹さん(18)は新聞の写真に目を奪われた。3人の横断幕で、浦和に無観客試合の処分が下されたと報じていた。

3カ月ほど前、浅草で「Japanese Only」を目にしていた。

クリスマスの日。アメリカ留学時に親友となった米国人男性(25)に、東京を案内していた。日本びいきで3度目の来日。皇居、浅草寺、仲見世通り……。お昼どき、友は「天丼が食べたい」と英語で言った。

老舗(しにせ)の天ぷら屋へ。寒空の下、5分ほど並び、店に入ろうとした時、友がささやいた。「どういうことだ」。視線の先には引き戸に貼られたA4ほどの紙。「Japanese Only」と書かれていた。

「やめたほうがいいかな」。悲しげな友の表情。ショックで、何と返事したのか、覚えていない。入らずに帰宅して、思った。

「オリンピックを開く東京が、これでいいのか」

茨城県常総市に住む日系3世のペルー人男性(31)も同じ経験をした。4月5日。昼の行列に並び、その紙に気づいた。一緒にいた日本人の友人が、真意を尋ねようと店に入った。

数分後。「信じられない」と怒りもあらわに、友人は戻ってきた。「日本に来て6年以上。日本が好きでマナーも文化も分かる。こんなことが放置されているのに失望しました」

記者が店を訪ねてみると、観光客の列の先に、その貼り紙はあった。

「忙しい時だけ。差別のつもりはないよ」

閉店後、片付け中の店主に声をかけた。白い調理服姿で店の外へ出てくれた。

「貼り始めたのは、だいぶ前」「はっきり言って中国人だよ。団体客に困ってたんだ」「土足で畳に上がったり、勝手に2階に上がったり。衛生面で営業停止になったら困るのはうちだ。誰が責任をとってくれるんだい」。早口で話した。

貼り紙に気づいた人から「不適切ではないか」と電話で注意も受けたという。

「こっちの立場にもなってほしいよ」。そう言い、一枚の紙を記者に見せた。

Japanese Language Only

「日本人だけ」が「日本語だけ」になった。

「これからは、これ貼るから。もういいだろ」

店の奥へ引き返した。

元私立大教員の有道(あるどう)出人(でびと)さん(49)=米ハワイ州在住=は10年以上、日本での人種差別を研究してきた。米国出身。2000年に日本国籍を得ている。

「Japanese Only」「Foreigners are not allowed」。北海道のパチンコ店、群馬のパブ、愛知のクラブ、大阪の不動産屋、広島のバー、沖縄のカラオケ店……。いたる場で、「外国人お断り」を意味する看板や案内を確認した。その数、50以上。

「あちこちにあるこの言葉が、どれだけの外国人を傷つけているか。想像したことはありますか?」

■「今の日本社会の縮図かも」

「日韓関係を俺たちがさらに悪化させるしかねーだろ」。埼玉スタジアムに「JAPANESE ONLY」の横断幕を掲げた「スネーク」。メンバーの一人が2月、ツイッターで、そうつぶやいていた。

ネット上に残された数少ない記録をたどると、東京都内の20代の男子大学生に行き着いた。4月中旬。その学生は、ビル群に囲まれたキャンパスを歩いていた。声をかけた。横断幕を掲げたのか、と。

「自分じゃないですよ」。記者をにらみつけた。「メンバーでしたけど」

少しずつ口を開き始めた。スネークには、高校時代から参加していること。会社員や公務員、大学生などがいる20人程度のグループであること。スタジアムで知り合った人が大半で、結束は強かったこと――。

中国や韓国での試合にも駆けつけた。相手サポーターからブーイングが飛ぶこともあった。次第に、中韓が嫌いになった。

「向こうの応援は『反日』をがんがんやってくる。行けばわかりますよ」。口調が強くなった。

ゴール裏は自分たちの「聖地」だ。「外国人を退けようとする空気は、ほかのメンバーにもあった」

元リーダーの男性(40)にも会った。埼玉県内の自治体の中間管理職。終業後の夕方、駅へ向かう男性に尋ねた。「あの日ゴール裏で応援していたが、横断幕には気づかなかった」。足早に、改札を抜けた。

日本から南東に約6200キロ。「米国籍を放棄した私が、ここでは外国人です」。有道(あるどう)出人(でびと)さん(49)がほほ笑む。米国のハワイ大学で、博士論文「日本の人種差別」をまとめた。

米国生まれの白人。北海道の私大の教員だった1999年、家族で訪れた小樽市の温泉で、入浴を拒否された。「Japanese Only」の表示があった。

2001年、店と小樽市に損害賠償を求めて提訴。札幌地裁は翌年、判決で「人種差別」と認定した。

日本全国で「外国人お断り」の情報を集め、経営者にわけを聞いた。「外人は不安を与える」「日本のマナーに従わない」。半数以上は撤去に応じなかった。

「Japanese People Only」と書いた紙を貼っているバーが、神戸市にあるという。今月18日夜、記者はJR三ノ宮駅近くの店を訪ねた。

しかし貼り紙が見当たらない。扉を開け、もう貼っていないのかと尋ねた。「親切な人がいてね。この表示はよくない、って教えてくれたんですよ」。男性オーナー(51)が答えた。

領事館や大学があり、外国人の客も多い土地柄。

「けんかしたり、騒いだり。こちらも英語が苦手だから、日本語が出来ない方をお断りしていた」

2年前、面識のない日本人から、正すべきだとメールが届いた。「差別だなんて、思ってもみなかった」

店の前に貼っていた紙を外し、代わりにチャージ料金など店のルールを英訳し、貼り付けた。「話せば何とかなるのに、さぼっていた。騒ぐとか暴れるとかに国籍は関係ないよね」

ミラーボールが回り、ソウルミュージックが流れる店には今、夜ごと日本人と外国人が集っている。

「スネーク」は横断幕を張り出した数日後、解散した。ゴール裏で応援を共にした11のサポーターグループも解散を決めた。

あの日、横断幕は最後まで掲げられていた。試合中に気づき、警備員を通じてクラブに外すよう求めたサポーターもいた。東京都内の会社員男性(33)はその一人だ。掲げた人、見過ごした観客やクラブ、はがせなかった自分。男性はそれぞれに責任があると思う。

「明らかな差別なのに気づかない。あるいは面倒だから放置する。あの時のスタジアムは、今の日本社会の縮図なのかもしれない」

ENDS

Urawa “Japanese Only” Soccer Banner Case: Conclusions and Lessons I learned from it

eBooks, Books, and more from 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)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
If you like what you read and discuss on Debito.org, please consider helping us stop hackers and defray maintenance costs with a little Paypal donation:




Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog.  Let’s sew this issue up:

LESSONS OF THE URAWA “JAPANESE ONLY” SOCCER STADIUM BANNER CASE OF MARCH 8, 2014

Urawajapaneseonlysideview030814

What happened this week (see my Japan Times column on it a few days ago) is probably the most dramatic and progressive thing to happen to NJ in Japan, particularly its Visible Minorities, since the Otaru Onsens Case came down with its District Court Decision in November 2002.

In this decision, a Japanese court ruled for only the second time (the first being the Ana Bortz Case back in October 1999) that “Japanese Only” signs and rules were racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu).

It did not call it discrimination instead based on “ethnicity” (minzoku), “nationality” (kokuseki), outward appearance (gaiken), or some kind of “misunderstanding” (gokai), “ingrained cultural habit” or “necessary business practice” (shuukan no chigai, seikatsu shuukan, shakai tsuunen, shikatsu mondai etc.).  All of these claims had merely been excuses made to ignore the elephant in the room — that more invidious racialized processes were involved.

But in the Urawa “Japanese Only” Soccer Stadium Banner Case, the word jinshu sabetsu reappeared in the terms of debate, and we may in fact have witnessed a watershed moment in Japan’s race relations history.

BACKGROUND ON WHY THIS MATTERS: The following is something I wanted to get into in my last column, but I lacked the space:

After studying this issue intensely since 1999, and doing a doctoral dissertation on it, I can say with confidence that using the abovementioned alternative language is the normal way the Japanese media and debate arenas obfuscate the issue — because jinshu sabetsu is what other countries do (most common examples of racial discrimination taught in Japanese education are the US under Segregation and South African Apartheid), NOT Japan. As I wrote in my column on Thursday, Japan sees itself as a “civilized country”; rightly so, but part of that is the conceit that real civilized countries don’t engage in “racial discrimination” (and since allegedly homogeneous Japan allegedly has no races but the “Japanese race“, and allegedly no real minorities to speak of, Japan cannot possibly engage in biologically-based “racial discrimination” like other heterogeneous societies do).

So admitting to actual racial discrimination within Japan’s borders would undermine Japan’s claim to be “civilized”, as far as Japan’s elites and national-narrative setters are concerned. Hence the determined resistance to ever calling something “racial discrimination”.  Further proof:  In my extensive research of the Otaru Onsens Case, where I read and archived hundreds of Japanese media pieces, only ONE article (a Hokkaido Shinbun editorial after the Sapporo High Court Decision in  September 2004) called it “jinshu sabetsu” as AS A FACT OF THE CASE (i.e., NOT merely the opinion of an expert or an activist, which meant for journalistic balance the “opinion” had to be offset with the opinions of the excluder — who always denied they were being racial, like the rest of Japanese society).  It’s systematic.  We even have prominent social scientists (such as Harumi Befu) and major book titles on discrimination in Japan that steadfastly call it only “minzoku sabetsu“, such as this one:

nihonnominzokusabetsucover

where I had to fight to get my chapter within it properly entitled “jinshu sabetsu“:

nihonnominzokusabetsu002

No matter how conscientious the scholar of minority issues in Japan was, it was never a matter of jinshu.

Until now.  That has changed with the Urawa “Japanese Only” Stadium Banners Case.

FINALLY CALLING A SPADE A SPADE

Get a load of what Murai Mitsuru, Chair of the J. League, said after some initial hemming and hawing:

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

“There are various ways of determining what constitutes discrimination.  But what is important is not so much why discrimination occurs, but how the victim perceives it and in this case, the acts must be considered nothing short of discriminatory.

“Over the last several days through the media and on the Internet, these acts have had unexpected social repercussions both domestic and abroad, and it is clear that they have damaged the brand of not just the J-League but of the entire Japanese football community.

“With regards to Urawa Reds, they have had repeated trouble with their supporters in the past and the club have previously been sanctioned for racist behavior by their fans.”

“While these most recent acts were conducted by a small group of supporters, it is with utmost regret that Urawa Reds — who have been with the J-League since its founding year in 1993 and who ought to be an example for all of Japanese football — allowed an incident like this to happen.”

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

It’s the speech I would want to give.  He cited a record both past and present to give the issue context.  He said that stopping racist behavior was integral to the sport and its participants.  And he acknowledged that it was the victims, not the perpetrators, who must be listened to.  Well done.

Then he issued the stiffest punishment ever in Japanese soccer history, where Urawa would have to play its next match to an empty stadium (their games are some of the best attended in Japan), which really hurts their bottom line. Better yet, it ensures that Urawa fans will now police each other, lest they all be excluded again. After all, even stadium management let the sign stay up for the entire game:

urawajapaneseonlybanner030814
Courtesy of the Asahi Shinbun.  Note the staff member guarding the full gate, behind Urawa’s goal posts.  Note also the Rising Sun flags.

It also looks like those racist fans will also be banned indefinitely from Urawa games, and stadium staff may too be punished.  Bravo.

More important, look how this issue was reported in Japanese (Mainichi Shinbun):

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

8日に埼玉スタジアムで行われたサッカーJリーグ1部の浦和−鳥栖戦の試合中、会場内に人種差別的な内容を含む横断幕が掲げられた問題で、Jリーグの村井満チェアマンは13日、浦和に対し、けん責と、23日にホームの同スタジアムで開催される清水戦を無観客とする処分を科すと発表した。Jリーグでの無観客試合の処分は初めて。

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

with jinshu sabetsu included AS A FACT OF THE CASE.

And then look how the issue spread, with the Yokohama Marinos on March 12 putting up an anti-discrimination banner of their own:

showracismtheredcard031214

And Huffpost Japan depicting jinshu sabetsu AGAIN as a fact of the case:

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

横浜マのサポーターがハーフタイムに「Show Racism the Red Card」(人種差別にレッドカードを)

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

The incentives are now very clear.  Discriminate, and punishment will be public, swift, meaningful, and effective.  And others will not rally to your defense — in fact, may even join in in decrying you in public.  Excellent measures that all encourage zero tolerance of jinshu sabetsu.

LESSONS

However, keep in mind that this outcome was far from certain.  Remember that initially, as in last Sunday and Monday, this issue was only reported in blurbs in the Japanese and some English-language media (without photos of the banner), with mincing and weasel words about whether or not this was in fact discrimination, and ludicrous attempts to explain it all away (e.g., Urawa investigators reporting that the bannerers didn’t INTEND to racially discriminate; oh, that’s okay then!) as some kind of performance art or fan over-exuberance.  At this point, this issue was going the way it always does in these “Japanese Only” cases — as some kind of Japanese cultural practice.  In other words, it was about to be covered up all over again.

Except for one thing.  It went viral overseas.

As Murai himself said, “these acts have had unexpected social repercussions both domestic and abroad, and it is clear that they have damaged the brand of not just the J-League but of the entire Japanese football community“.  In other words, now Japan’s reputation as a civilized member of the world’s sports community (especially in this age of an impending Olympics) was at stake.  Probably FIFA was watching too, and it had only two months ago punished another Asian country (China/Hong Kong) for “racial discrimination” towards towards Filipino fans.  In this political climate, it would be far more embarrassing for Japan to be in the same boat as China being punished from abroad.  So he took decisive action.

This is not to diminish Murai’s impressive move.  Bravo, man.  You called it what it is, and dealt with it accordingly.

But I believe it would not have happened without exposure to the outside world:  Gaiatsu (outside pressure).

After all these years studying this issue, I now firmly believe that appealing to moral character issues isn’t the way to deal with racism in Japan.

After all, check out this baby-talk discussion of this issue in Japan’s most prominent newspaper column, Tensei Jingo, of March 13, 2014:

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

Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward is starting a project called “A shopping district with people who understand and speak a little English.” I like the part that says “a little.” Shinagawa will be the venue for some of the events during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The ward came up with the idea as a way to welcome athletes and visitors from abroad.

Why “a little”? Few Japanese can confidently say they can speak English. Many more think they can perhaps speak “a little” English. According to Kiyoshi Terashima, the ward official in charge of the project, it is aimed at encouraging such people to positively try and communicate in English. The ward will ask foreigners to visit the stores so that attendants there can learn how to take orders and receive payments using English.

Writer Saiichi Maruya (1925-2012) vividly depicted the trend of 50 years ago when Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics for the first time. Just because we are having the Olympics, “there is no need to stir up an atmosphere that all 100 million Japanese must turn into interpreters,” he wrote. The quote appears in “1964-Nen no Tokyo Orinpikku” (1964 Tokyo Olympics), compiled by Masami Ishii. I wonder if we can be a little more relaxed when Tokyo hosts the Olympics for the second time.

Warm smiles are considered good manners in welcoming guests. By contrast, I found the following development quite alarming: On March 8, a banner with the English words “Japanese Only” was put up at the entrance to a stand at Saitama Stadium during a soccer game.

Posting such a xenophobic message is utterly thoughtless to say the least. This is not the first time. In the past, an onsen bathhouse in Otaru, Hokkaido, put up a sign that said “no foreigners” and refused the entry of some people, including a U.S.-born naturalized Japanese man. The Sapporo District Court in 2002 ruled that the action was “racial discrimination” and ordered the bathhouse to pay damages to the plaintiffs for pain and suffering.

Hate speech against foreigners is another example. Hostility is becoming increasingly prevalent and Japanese society is losing its gentleness. Are we a society that denies and shuts its doors to people or one that welcomes and receives them? Which one is more comfortable to live in? Let us learn to be more tolerant toward each other; for starters, if only by just a little.

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

That’s the entire article.  Asahi Shinbun, thanks for the mention of me, but what a twee piece of shit! It devotes half of the column space to irrelevant windup, then gives some necessary background, and summarily ends up with a grade-school-level “nakayoshi shimashou” (let’s all be nice to one another, shall we?) conclusion. The theme starts off with “a little” and ends up thinking “little” about the issue at hand.  They just don’t get it.  There’s no moral imperative here.

Contrast that to Murai’s very thoughtful consideration above of how the victims of discrimination feel, how racists must not be given any moral credibility or leniency from punishment, and how anti-racism measures are not merely an honor system of tolerance towards each other.  Correctamundo!  One must not be tolerant of intolerance.  But after all this, even Japan’s most prominent leftish daily newspaper just resorts to the boilerplate — there is neither comprehension or explanation of how discrimination actually works!

When will we get beyond this dumbing down of the issue?  When we actually have people being brave enough to call it “racial discrimination” and take a stand against it.  As Murai did.  And as other people, with their banners and comments on the media and other places, are doing.  Finally.

CONCLUSION:  IT AIN’T OVER UNTIL WE GET A LAW CRIMINALIZING THIS BEHAVIOR

I do not want to get people’s hopes up for this progress to be sustainable (after all, we haven’t seen the full force of a potential rightist backlash against Murai yet, and the Internet xenophobes are predictably saying that too much power has been given up to the Gaijin).  We are still years if not decades away from an anti-RACIAL-discrimination law with enforceable criminal penalties (after all, it’s been nearly twenty years now since Japan’s signed the UN CERD treaty against racial discrimination, and any attempt to pass one has wound up with it being repealed due to pressure from alarmists and xenophobes!).

But at least one thing is clear — the typical hemmers and hawers (who initially criticized my claim that this is yet another example of racial discrimination) are not going to be able to claim any “cultural misunderstanding” anymore in this case.  Because Urawa eventually went so far as to investigate and make public  what mindset was behind the banner-hoisters:

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

Japan Times:  “The supporters viewed the area behind the goal as their sacred ground, and they didn’t want anyone else coming in,” Urawa president Keizo Fuchita said Thursday as he explained how the banner came to be displayed in the stadium.

“If foreigners came in they wouldn’t be able to control them, and they didn’t like that.”

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

Wow, a fine cocktail of racism, mysticism, and power, all shaken not stirred, spray-painted into this banner.  Which goes to show:  In just about all its permutations, “Japanese Only” is a racialized discourse behind a xenophobic social movement in Japan.  If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…  And if and only if people in authority will allow the quack to be properly heard and the quacker LABELED as a duck, then we’ll get some progress.

But chances are it won’t be, unless that quack is also heard outside of Japan.  After waiting more then ten years for somebody to call the “Japanese Only” trope a matter of jinshu sabetsu again, finally this week the fact that jinshu sabetsu exists in Japan has been transmitted nationwide, with real potential to alter the national discourse on discrimination towards Visible Minorities.  But it wouldn’t have happened unless it had leaked outside of Japan’s media.

Conclusion:  Gaiatsu is basically the only way to make progress against racial discrimination in Japan.  Remember that, and gear your advocacy accordingly.  ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 73, “J.League and Media Must Show Red Card to Racism” on Saitama Stadium “Japanese Only” Urawa Reds soccer fans, Mar 13, 2014

eBooks, Books, and more from 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)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
If you like what you read and discuss on Debito.org, please consider helping us stop hackers and defray maintenance costs with a little Paypal donation:




Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog and JT Readers.  Thanks again for putting this article top of the JT Online for two straight days again! ARUDOU Debito

ISSUES| JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg
J.LEAGUE AND MEDIA MUST SHOW RED CARD TO RACISM 
JBC Column 73 for the Japan Times Community Page
To be published March 13, 2014
By ARUDOU Debito
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/03/12/issues/j-league-and-media-must-show-red-card-to-racism/
Version with links to sources

Urawajapaneseonlysideview030814

On Saturday, during their J. League match against Sagan Tosu at Saitama Stadium, some Urawa Reds fans hung a “Japanese only” banner over an entrance to the stands.

It went viral. Several sports sections in Japanese newspapers and blogs, as well as overseas English media, covered the story. The banner was reportedly soon taken down, and both the football club and players expressed regret that it had ever appeared. Urawa investigated, and at the time of going to press Wednesday, reports were suggesting that the club had decided that the banner was discriminatory, reversing a previous finding that the fans behind the incident had “no discriminatory intent.”

So case closed? Not so fast. There is something important that the major media is overlooking — nay, abetting: the implicit racism that would spawn such a sign.

None of the initial reports called out the incident for what it was: racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu). News outlets such as Kyodo, Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri, AP, AFP, Al-Jazeera — even The Japan Times — muted their coverage by saying the banner “could apparently be considered/construed/seen as racist.” (Well, how else could it be construed? Were they trying to say that “only the Japanese language is spoken here”?) Few ran pictures of the banner to give context or impact.

Japanese media appended the standard hand-wringing excuses, including the cryptic “I think the meaning behind it is for Japanese to pump up the J. League,” and even a reverse-engineered claim of performance art: “I think it was just tongue-in-cheek because the club is not bolstering the team with foreign players.” (Oh, and that’s not prejudiced?)

The Internet buzzed with speculation about the banner’s intent. Was it referring to the fact that Urawa was allegedly fielding a Japanese-only team for a change (notwithstanding their Serbian coach)? Or were the bleachers to be kept foreigner-free?

Doesn’t matter. “Japanese only” has long been the exclusionary trope for Japan’s xenophobes. The phrase came to prominence in 1999 in the Otaru onsen case, which revolved around several public bathhouses in Otaru, Hokkaido, that refused entry to all “foreigners” based on their physical appearance (including this author, a naturalized Japanese). Later, exclusionary businesses nationwide copycatted and put up “Japanese only” signs of their own. “Japanese only” is in fact part of a social movement.

The upshot is, if you don’t “look Japanese,” you are not welcome. That’s where the racism comes in. Why should the Urawa banner be “construed” any differently?

The better question is: Why does this language keep popping up in public places? I’ll tell you why. Because Japan keeps getting a free pass from the outside world.

Just look at Japan’s sports leagues and you’ll find a long history of outright racism — excluding, handicapping and bashing foreigners (even the naturalized “foreigners”) in, for example, sumo, baseball, hockey, rugby, figure skating, the Kokutai national sports festivals and the Ekiden long-distance races. So much for a sporting chance on a level playing field.

Nevertheless, Japan keeps getting rewarded with major international events, such as the FIFA World Cup in 2002, the Rugby World Cup in 2019, and the Olympics in 2020. So be as racist as you like: There’s no penalty.

Anyplace else and soccer governing body FIFA would probably take swift action to investigate and penalize offenders in line with its policy of zero tolerance for racism, as has been done in the past, most recently in China. In January, the Hong Kong Football Association got fined for shirking its responsibility to stop racial discrimination against Filipino supporters by Hong Kong national team fans during a “friendly” match.

The Urawa Reds incident is still fresh. I await FIFA’s reaction (if any) with anticipation. But after more than two decades of watching this stuff — and even doing a doctoral dissertation on it — I’m not hopeful.

After all, Japan is not China. The developed world sees Japan as their bulwark of democracy in Asia, and is willing to overlook one very inconvenient truth: that a racialized narrative in Japan is so commonplace and unchallenged that it has become embedded in the discourse of race relations. Foreigners are simply not to be treated the same as Japanese.

People often blame this phenomenon on legal issues (foreigners are not treated exactly the same as citizens anywhere else either, right?) but the pachyderm in the parlor is that the practical definition of “foreigner” is racial, i.e., identified by sight. Anyone “looking foreign” who defied that Urawa banner and entered that stadium section would have gotten — at the very least — the stink-eye from those (still-unnamed) xenophobes who put it up. What other purpose could the banner possibly serve? In any case, it has no place under official FIFA rules.

Make no mistake: “Japanese only” underscores a racialized discourse, and the media should stop making things worse by kid-gloving it as some kind of cultural misunderstanding. It does nobody any favors, least of all Japanese society.

Consider this: As Japan’s rightward swing continues, overt xenophobia (some of it even advocating murder and war) is getting more vociferous and normalized. Not to mention organized: The Asahi Shimbun reported that in Tokyo’s recent gubernatorial election, about a quarter of the 611,000 people who voted for extreme-right candidate Toshio Tamogami, an overtly xenophobic historical revisionist, were young men in their 20s — a demographic also over-represented at soccer games.

Giving their attitudes a free pass with milquetoast criticism (J. League Chairman Mitsuru Murai said that he will act if the banner was proven to be “discriminatory” — meaning he could possibly find otherwise?) only encourages discriminatory behavior: Be as racist as you like; there’s no penalty.

Point is, the only way to ensure Japan keeps its international promises (such as by creating a law against racial discrimination, after signing the U.N. Convention on Racial Discrimination nearly 20 years ago!) is to call a spade a spade. As scholar Ayu Majima notes, Japan has a fundamental “perception of itself as a civilized nation,” an illusion that would be undermined by claims of domestic racism. Remember: Racism happens in other countries, not here.

(Source:  Ayu Majima, “Skin Color Melancholy in Modern Japan.”  In Kowner and Demel, Eds., RACE AND RACISM IN MODERN EAST ASIA.  Brill, 2013, p. 409.)

By always denying racism’s existence, Japan preserves its self-image of civilization and modernity, and that’s why calling out this behavior for what it is — racial discrimination — is such a necessary reality check. FIFA and media watchdogs need to do their jobs, so I don’t have to keep writing these columns stating the obvious. Stop abetting this scourge and show some red cards.

Arudou Debito is the author of the “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” (www.debito.org/handbook.html) Twitter: @arudoudebito. Comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp
==============================

UPDATE:  A lot happened soon after this article came out; I believe some of it because.  You can read comments below for some updates, and see my separate blog entry for the conclusions and lessons I learned from it — that essentially you’re not going to get any progress on the human rights front by appealing to moral arguments, because Japan’s elites and national narrative-setters don’t really care about that.  What they really DO care about is Japan’s image abroad as a “civilized” country, and that is the only pressure point NJ have.

“Japanese Only” banner in Saitama Stadium at Urawa Reds soccer game; yet media minces words about the inherent racism behind it

eBooks, Books, and more from 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)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
If you like what you read and discuss on Debito.org, please consider helping us stop hackers and defray maintenance costs with a little Paypal donation:




Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog. Going viral on Saturday (I’ve been away from my computer this weekend, sorry to be blogging late) was news of a banner up at a sports meet on March 8, 2014, that said “Japanese Only” (the Urawa Reds soccer team in Saitama Stadium, which according to Wikipedia has some of the best-attended games in Japan).  Here it is:

urawajapaneseonlybanner030814

(Photo courtesy http://i.imgur.com/0O2JJO8.jpg, from BS)

According to media outlets like Al Jazeera, “the sign could be considered racist”, Kyodo: “seen as racist”, or Mainichi: “could be construed as racist”. (Oh, well, how else could it be considered, seen, or construed then? That only the Japanese language is spoken here?).  Urawa Stadium management just called it “discriminatory” (sabetsu teki) and promised to investigate.  Fortunately it was removed with some solid condemnations.  But no media outlet is bothering to do more than blurb articles on it, barely scratching the surface of the issue.

And that issue they should scratch up is this: Since at least 1999, as Debito.org has covered more than any other media on the planet, Japan has had public language of exclusion (specifically, “Japanese Only” signs spreading around Japan) that have justified a narrative that says it’s perfectly all right to allow places to say “no” to foreigners”, particularly those as determined on sight. It’s also perfectly legal, since the GOJ refuses to pass any laws against racial discrimination, despite promises to the contrary it made back in 1995 when signing the UN CERD.

This much you all know if you’ve been reading this space over the decades. But it bears repeating, over and over again if necessary. Because this sort of thing is not a one-off. It is based upon a mindset that “foreigners” can be treated as subordinate to Japanese in any circumstances, including in this case the allegedly level playing field of sports, and it is so unquestioned and hegemonic that it has become embedded — to the point where it gets dismissed as one of Japan’s “cultural quirks”, and the language of the original Otaru Onsens “Japanese Only” sign has become standardized language for the exclusionary.

But the problem is also in the enforcement of anti-racism measures.  You think any official international sports body governing soccer (which has zero tolerance for racism and is often very quick to act on it) will investigate this any further? Or that the Olympic Committee before Tokyo 2020 is going to raise any public eyebrows about Japan’s lackadaisical attitude towards racism in its sports?  For example, its outright racism and handicapping/excluding/bashing foreigners (even naturalized “foreigners”) in Sumo, baseball, hockey, rugby, figure skating, the Kokutai, or in the Ekiden Sports Races, which deliberately and overtly handicaps or outright excludes NJ from participation?

I’m not going to bet my lunch on it, as scrutiny and responsibility-taking (as in, finding out who put that banner up and why — speculation abounds) could happen. But it probably won’t. Because people can’t even say clearly and definitively that what just happened in Urawa was “racism” (and Al Jazeera, the Asahi, or the Mainichi didn’t even see fit to publish a photo of the banner, so readers could feel the full force and context of it). And that we’re going to see ever more expressions of it in our xenophobic youth (which was a huge political force in Tokyo’s last gubernatorial election) as Japan continues its rightward swing into bigotry. ARUDOU Debito

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

「JAPANESE ONLY」 J1で差別横断幕か
朝日新聞 2014年3月9日01時03分

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASG387J0FG38UTQP03N.html

8日のサッカーJ1浦和―鳥栖戦があった埼玉スタジアムのコンコース内に、「JAPANESE ONLY」との横断幕が掲げられ、浦和側が撤去した。浦和は「差別的と解釈されかねない行為。事実確認のうえ、適切な対応に取り組む」とのコメントを発表した。

「日本人だけ」と直訳できる文言が掲げられたことに、外国人排斥を意図するとしてインターネット上で非難の声が相次ぐなど、波紋が広がっている。選手の目に入る場所ではなかったが、浦和の元日本代表DF槙野智章選手は自身のツイッターで「負けた以上にもっと残念な事があった」と、憤りを表した。

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

Japanese club remove banner
The Urawa Red Diamonds remove a banner from their home stadium over fears the sign could be considered racist.
Al Jazeera from AP and AFP, 09 Mar 2014 08:49
http://www.aljazeera.com/sport/football/2014/03/urawa-removes-discriminatory-banner-20143974349569584.html

PHOTO CAPTION:  Urawa did not have a single foreigner in their squad for Saturday’s match against Sagan Tosu [AFP]

The Urawa Reds club, who play in Japan’s J-League Division 1, have removed a banner from their home stadium over fears the sign could be considered racist.

Most teams in the J-League have foreign players on their roster but Urawa did not have a single foreigner in its squad for Saturday’s match, despite having a Serbian coach in Mihailo Petrovic.

A photograph of the ‘Japanese Only’ banner went viral on Saturday with it believed to be aimed at foreign tourists.

A statement on the team’s official website read: “As far as the club is concerned, racist language or behaviour is totally inexcusable.”

It was not known who put the sign up but the team said they are “working to establish the facts of the incident.”

After losing the match 1-0 Urawa Reds defender Tomoaki Makino said, “This is what should not be done as our players play for Urawa with pride”.

He continued “If we can’t be united, we can’t win”.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////

SOCCER / J. LEAGUE
Reds remove banner seen as racist
KYODO/Japan Times MAR 9, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2014/03/09/soccer/reds-remove-banner-seen-as-racist/

Urawa Reds said they removed a banner that could be construed as racist from an entrance gate to spectator seats at a J. League match Saturday between Reds and Sagan Tosu.

The banner in question had the words “Japanese Only” written on and club staff asked for it to be taken down. The person that put up the banner has not been identified, according to Urawa.

A statement on Reds’ official website said: “We are working to establish the facts of this incident.”

“As far as this club is concerned, racist language or behavior is totally inexcusable. Urawa Reds abide by the six tenets of the Sports For Peace program, including a ban on racist conduct”

Opinion was divided among Reds supporters over whether the banner was racist.

One man, a 36-year-old company employee said, “It’s terrible. Inexcusable,” while another, a 50-year-old salaryman said, “I think the meaning behind it is for Japanese to pump up the J. League.”

Mainichi Daily News adds:

Urawa did not have a single foreign player in their squad for Saturday’s match.

A 28-year-old female company employee said, “I think it was just tongue-in-cheek because the club is not being bolstering the team with foreign players.”

March 09, 2014(Mainichi Japan)

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140309p2g00m0sp042000c.html

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

【浦和】ゲートに差別的横断幕か
読売新聞 2014年3月9日00時51分 スポーツ報知
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/soccer/jleague/news/20140308-OHT1T00257.htm

埼玉スタジアムで8日に行われたサッカーJ1の浦和―鳥栖で、浦和サポーター席へ入るゲートに「JAPANESE ONLY」と書かれた横断幕が掲げられたことが、浦和への取材で分かった。「日本人以外お断り」との差別的な意味にも取れる可能性があるため、クラブのスタッフが要請して横断幕は外されたという。

浦和は公式サイトに「事実確認の上、適切な対応に取り組んでまいります」との声明文を掲載した。浦和によると、掲げた人物は特定されていない。

埼玉スタジアムで試合を観戦した浦和サポーターの中で受け止め方は分かれた。男性会社員(36)は、差別的な意味に理解し「最悪。許せない」と怒った。一方、男性会社員(50)は「日本人でJリーグを盛り上げようという意味だと思う」と話した。女性会社員(28)は「チームが外国人選手による補強に力を入れないことへの皮肉では」との見方を示した。
////////////////////////////////////////

See also:
http://i.imgur.com/0O2JJO8.jpg
http://www.reddit.com/r/japan/comments/1zxtpm/my_friend_just_posted_this_photo_of_urawa_reds/
http://www.brandonsun.com/sports/soccer/j-league-side-urawa-reds-remove-discriminatory-banner-from-stadium-249168211.html

More elaborate discussion in Japanese at

http://rensai.jp/?p=67645

UPDATE: I did a Japan Times column on this issue shortly afterwards. Read it at: http://www.debito.org/?p=12162

Former PM and Tokyo 2020 Chair Mori bashes his Olympic athletes, including “naturalized citizens” Chris and Cathy Reed (PLUS article on J athletes’ shortened lifespans due to the pressure)

eBooks, Books, and more from 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)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
If you like what you read and discuss on Debito.org, please consider helping us stop hackers and defray maintenance costs with a little Paypal donation:




Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog.  Aaand, the inevitable has happened:  Japan’s apparently underperforming athletes (particularly its ice skaters) have invited criticism from Japan’s elite.  Tokyo 2020 Chair Mori Yoshiro, one of Japan’s biggest gaffemeisters when he served an abysmal stint as Prime Minister, decided to shoot his mouth off about champion skater Asada Mao’s propensity to choke under pressure.  But more importantly, as far as Debito.org is concerned, about how the American-Japanese skating siblings Cathy and Chris Reed’s racial background has negatively affected their performance:

“They live in America,” Mori said. “Although they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team.”

Oh.  But wait.  They’re not naturalized.  They always had Japanese citizenship, since their mother is Japanese.  And how about Japan’s other athletes that also train if not live overseas (such as Gold Medalist Skater Hanyu Yuzuru, who now hails from Toronto)?  Oh, but he won, so that’s okay.  He’s a real pureblooded Japanese with the requisite yamato damashi.

In fact, the existence of people like Mori are exactly the reason why Japan’s athletes choke.  As I’ve written before, they put so much pressure  and expectation on them to perform perfectly as national representatives, not as individuals trying to achieve their personal best, so if they don’t medal (or worse yet, don’t Gold), they are a national shame.  It’s a very high-stakes game for Japan’s international athletes, and this much pressure is counterproductive for Japan:  It in fact shortens their lives not only as competitors, but as human beings (see article by Mark Schreiber after the Japanese articles).

Fortunately, this has not escaped the world media’s glance.  As CBS News put it:  “Hurray for the Olympic spirit! You seem like a perfectly sensible choice to head a billion-dollar effort to welcome the world to Tokyo, Mr. Mori!”  But expect more of this, for this is how “sporting spirit” is hard-wired in Japan.  Because these types of people (especially their invisible counterparts in the media and internet) are not only unaccountable, they’re devoid of any self-awareness or empathy.  If they think they can do better, as one brash Japanese Olympic swimmer once said, why don’t they try doing it themselves?  Then she was taken off the team, never to return.  ARUDOU, Debito

///////////////////////////////////////
WINTER OLYMPICS
Tokyo 2020 chairman Mori critical of Asada, ice dancing brother and sister
AP/Japan Today SPORTS FEB. 21, 2014, courtesy JDG, Bob, and Dosanko
http://www.japantoday.com/category/sports/view/tokyo-2020-chairman-mori-critical-of-asada

TOKYO —The head of Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic organizing committee has criticized Japanese figure skater Mao Asada’s performance in the women’s short program at the Sochi Olympics.

The two-time world champion finished 16th in Wednesday’s short program after falling on her opening triple axel. Asada was a silver medalist at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where she finished second to South Korea’s Yuna Kim.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who became the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee’s chairman last month, said Asada has a habit of “always falling at the most critical time” of a competition. He blamed Asada’s short program shortcomings on her participation in the earlier team event at Sochi.

Asada performed sensationally in the free skate on Thursday night, however. She landed her trademark triple axel and wound up with a season’s best of 142.71. That gave her a total of 198.22.

“I thought I could do it,” Asada said through a translator. “I tried my best, and everything went according to practice.’

While in office, Mori had a reputation for making contentious comments. And his appointment to the Tokyo 2020 committee was criticized by some analysts who believe the 76-year-old former PM is too old to hold such a position.

Asada was selected for the inaugural team competition in the hope Japan would win a medal, but she also fell on the triple axel and Japan placed fifth.

“We shouldn’t have taken part in the team competition,” Mori said. “The psychological damage Asada incurred must have remained,” for the short program.

Mori was also critical of Japanese ice dancers Chris and Cathy Reed, who were born in the United States but compete for Japan.

“They live in America,” Mori said. “Although they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team.”

==========================================
Also featured in USA Today, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Metro Montreal, The Japan Times, and others.  As CBS Sports put it:

Mr. Mori wasn’t done yet, taking a shot at Japanese ice dancers Chris Reed and Cathy Reed, the children of a Japanese mother and American father who were born and raised in the U.S. but renounced American citizenship in order to compete for Japan.

“They live in America,” Mori said. “Although they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team.”

Hurray for the Olympic spirit! You seem like a perfectly sensible choice to head a billion-dollar effort to welcome the world to Tokyo, Mr. Mori!

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

Here are some Japanese articles with the original quotes:

森元首相 リード組に「五輪出場の実力はなかったが…」
「負けると分かっていた」 講演する森元首相
講演する、東京五輪・パラリンピック組織委員会会長の森元首相
Photo By 共同
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/02/20/kiji/K20140220007629530.html
[ 2014年2月20日 17:05 ]

東京五輪・パラリンピック組織委員会会長の森喜朗元首相は20日、福岡市での講演で、ソチ五輪・フィギュアスケート団体について「負けると分かっていた。浅田真央選手を出して恥をかかせることはなかった」と述べた。

また、フィギュアスケート・アイスダンスのキャシー・リード、クリス・リード組について「米国に住んでいる。(米国代表として)五輪出場の実力はなかったが、帰化させて日本選手団として出した」と語った。

浅田が団体でトリプルアクセル(3回転半ジャンプ)を成功させれば、アイスダンスの劣勢を盛り返し、銅メダルを獲得できるとの期待が日本チームにあったとの見方を強調。「(団体戦で)転んだ心の傷が残っているから(SPで)転んではいけないとの気持ちが強く出たのだろう」との同情も示した。

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

森元首相の真央らへの発言要旨
日刊スポーツ [2014年2月20日19時20分]
http://www.nikkansports.com/general/news/f-gn-tp0-20140220-1260348.html

森喜朗元首相は20日、福岡市での講演で、ソチ五輪フィギュアスケート団体について「負けると分かっていた。浅田真央選手を出して恥をかかせることはなかった」と述べた。さらに女子ショートプログラム(SP)で16位だった浅田選手を「見事にひっくり返った。あの子、大事なときには必ず転ぶ」などと評した。

森喜朗元首相の講演でのフィギュアスケートに関する発言要旨は次の通り。

頑張ってくれと見ていましたけど(浅田)真央ちゃん、(ショートプログラムで)見事にひっくり返りました。あの子、大事なときには必ず転ぶんですね。

日本は団体戦に出なければよかった。アイスダンスは日本にできる人がいない。(キャシー・リード、クリス・リードの)きょうだいはアメリカに住んでいるんですよ。(米国代表として)オリンピックに出る実力がなかったから、帰化させて日本の選手団として出している。

浅田さんが(団体戦に)出れば、3回転半をできる女性はいないから、成功すれば3位になれるかもとの淡い気持ちで出した。それで、見事にひっくり返ってしまった。

その傷が残っていたとすれば、ものすごくかわいそうな話。負けると分かっている団体戦に、浅田さんを出して恥をかかせることはなかった。

転んだ心の傷が残っているから、自分の本番の時には、何としても転んではいけないとの気持ちが強く出たのだと思いますね。勢いが強すぎて転んでしまいました。(共同)

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

See also http://sankei.jp.msn.com/smp/sochi2014/news/140220/soc14022019180058-s.htm

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

Japan Sports Pressure and Shortened Lifespans

(forwarding, courtesy of the author–Arudou Debito)

This Mainichi article, based on a piece that appeared in Flash four years ago, is about the sad fate that seems to befall Japan’s Olympic athletes. I thought I’d recycle it today. Mark

Star-studded sportsmen speed swim the Styx
Flash, 10/31/2000
By Mark Schreiber (translated by the author)

Researchers have announced findings that compared with ordinary people, their lives are shortened by six years, asserts Kunihiko Kato, an assistant at Tokyo University’s department of physical science.

To whom is Kato referring? Chain smokers? Heavy boozers? People who live in houses under high-tension power lines, or those who refuse to pay protection to gangsters?

Indeed, what activity is scientifically recognized as being so hazardous, it threatens to send otherwise robust citizens of the world’s longest-lived nation to an early grave?

The answer, reports Flash, is to earn a place on the Japanese Olympic team. Or perhaps even worse, to win a medal.

Tragic examples are legion. Take Masatoshi Nekota, a member of the volleyball gold medalist at the 1972 Munich Olympics, who succumbed to cancer at age 39. Or three other outstanding athletes, who also died in their 39th year: 1968 Mexico City men’s gymnast and bronze-medal winner Takeshi Kato, a cancer victim; steeplechase runner (Mexico) Takeshi Endo, who died of heart failure; and broad jumper Hiroomi Yamada (Mexico), who suffered a fatal stroke.

Sports glory and public acclaim failed to bring any peace of mind to marathon runner Kokichi Tsuburaya, who took the bronze medal at Tokyo in 1964. Psychologically tormented when injury forced him to miss the games four years later, he committed suicide. The note he left read, simply, “Cannot run any more.” He was 27.

“Just at Japan Steel Corporation, where I was employed, seven former olympians have already passed away,” marathon silver medalist Kenji Kimihara (Mexico) tells Flash. “Overall, I’d say about 30 or so have died.”

Kimihara, now 60, is particularly saddened when recalling those who perished by their own hand. In addition to fellow marathoner Tsuburaya, these include swimmer Ryoko Urakami and 80 meter hurdler Ikuko Yoda.

“Everyone showed them respect, but they felt stigmatized by the title “olympic team member” attached to everything they did subsequently,” sighs Kimihara. “I suppose it just became too much of a burden.”

But while mental pressures took a toll on Japan’s olympians, the sheer physical abuse can’t be disregarded either.

“After driving myself so hard during my teens, I wanted to just go back to being a normal person,” recalls Mexico City weight lifting silver medalist Masaru Ouchi, now 57. “But I’m a physical wreck. When I reached my forties, I felt like I was already sixty.”

Tokyo University’s Kato is convinced scientific data contradicts the general image of olympians and professional athletes as superb physical specimens. “Intense activity causes stress to build up, and excessive secretion of Corticotropin releasing hormone result in lowered immunity. Resistance to disease declines. There’s a greater likelihood of developing cancer.”

“Exercise causes oxygen consumption to increase, generating a toxic substance called free radicals that are harmful to the body,” Kato adds.

One side effect of too much activity may be osteoporosis. Citing data on 13 female long-distance runners, Kato notes that the average bone density of eight was 90 percent or below the normal values, and four had bone density levels equivalent to women in their seventies.

“We believe this was caused by the intense training, which lowered the volume of fat in their bodies, causing loss of calcium because they did not secrete sufficient female hormones.”

“Upholding Japan’s national honor was a heavy burden for those olympic athletes in the past,” says Kimihara. “When today’s athletes feel pressured, I’d like to see them channel their stress into constructive outlets.”

With so many depressing stories, Flash wonders, will “Q chan” — petite and personable Sydney marathon winner Naoko Takahashi — be all right?

FORWARDED ARTICLE ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column January 7, 2014: “The empire strikes back: The top issues for NJ in 2013”, with links to sources

eBooks, Books, and more from 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)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate
If you like what you read and discuss on Debito.org, please consider helping us defray maintenance costs and anti-hacking measures with a little Paypal donation:




Thanks for your support!

Happy New Year to all Debito.org Readers.  Thank you as always for reading and commenting.  2014 has a few things looming that will affect life for everyone (not just NJ) in Japan, as I allude to in my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column (came out a few days later than usual, since there was no paper on January 2, on January 7, 2014).

Thanks to everyone once again for putting it in the most-read article for the day, once again. Here’s a version with links to sources. Arudou Debito
justbecauseicon.jpg

THE JAPAN TIMES ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
The empire strikes back: the top issues for non-Japanese in 2013
BY ARUDOU Debito
JANUARY 7, 2014
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/01/06/issues/the-empire-strikes-back-the-top-issues-for-non-japanese-in-2013/

Welcome to JBC’s annual countdown of 2013’s top human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan. This year was more complex, as issues that once targeted NJ in specific now affect everyone in general. But here are six major events and five “bubble-unders” for your consideration:

11. Marutei Tsurunen, Japan’s first foreign-born Diet member of European descent, loses his seat (see “Ol’ blue eyes isn’t back: Tsurunen’s tale offers lessons in microcosm for DPJ,” JBC, Aug. 5).

10. Donald Richie, one of the last of the first postwar generation of NJ commentators on Japan, dies aged 88.

9. Beate Sirota Gordon, one of the last living architects of the liberalizing reforms within the postwar Japanese Constitution, dies at 89.

8. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto takes a revisionist stance on Japanese history regarding the wartime sex-slave issue and reveals his camp’s political vulnerability (“By opening up the debate to the real experts, Hashimoto did history a favor,” JBC, June 4).

7. Tokyo wins the 2020 Olympics, strengthening the mandate of Japan’s ruling class and vested construction interests (see “Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan’s resurgent right,” JBC, Sept. 1).

6. Xenophobia taints No. 1 cleanup

The Fukushima debacle has been covered better elsewhere, and assessments of its dangers and probable outcomes are for others to debate. Incontrovertible, however, is that international assistance and expertise (despite this being an international problem) have been rejected due to official xenophobia.

Last January, The New York Times quoted Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director of the Environment Ministry and the man in charge of the cleanup, as saying that foreign technologies were somehow not applicable to Japan (“Even if a method works overseas, the soil in Japan is different, for example”), and that foreigners themselves were menacing (“If we have foreigners roaming around Fukushima, they might scare the old grandmas and granddads there”). Nishiyama resigned several months later, but Fukushima’s ongoing crisis continues to be divisively toxic both in fact and thought.

5. Japan to adopt Hague treaty

As the last holdout in the Group of Eight (G-8) nations yet to sign this important treaty governing the treatment of children after divorces, both houses of the Diet took the positive step in May and June (after years of formal nudging by a dozen countries, and a probable shove from U.S. President Barack Obama last February) of unanimously endorsing the convention, with ratification now possible in 2014.

As reported on previous Community pages, Japanese society condones (both in practice and by dint of its legal registration systems) single-parent families severing all contact with one parent after divorce. In the case of international divorces, add on linguistic and visa hurdles, as well as an unsympathetic family court system and a hostile domestic media (which frequently portrays abducting Japanese mothers as liberating themselves from violent foreign fathers).

The Hague treaty seeks to codify and level the playing field for negotiation, settlement and visitation. However, Japanese legal scholars and grass-roots organizations are trying to un-level things by, among other things, fiddling with definitions of “domestic violence” to include acts that don’t involve physical contact, such as heated arguments (bōgen, or violent language) and even glaring at your partner (nirami). Put simply: Lose your temper (or not; just seethe) and you lose your kids. Thus, the treaty will probably end up as yet another international agreement caveated until it is unenforceable in Japan.

4. Visa regimes get a rethink

Two years ago, domestic bureaucrats and experts held a summit to hammer out some policies towards foreign labor. JBC pointed out flaws in their mindsets then (see “In formulating immigration policy, no seat at the table for non-Japanese,” July 3, 2012), and last year they ate some crow for getting it wrong.

First, a highly touted “points system” for attracting highly skilled workers with visa perks (which JBC argued was unrealistically strict; see “Japan’s revolving-door immigration policy hard-wired to fail,” March 6, 2012) had as of September only had 700 applicants; the government had hoped for 2,000. Last month, the Justice Ministry announced it would relax some requirements. It added, though, that more fundamental reforms, such as raising salaries, were also necessary — once again falling for the stereotype that NJ only alight in Japan for money.

In an even bigger U-turn, in October the government lifted its ban on South American NJ of Japanese descent “returning” to Japan. Those who had taken the repatriation bribes of 2009 (see “Golden parachutes for Nikkei mark failure of race-based policy,” JBC, April 7, 2009), giving up their accumulated welfare benefits and Japanese pensions for an airfare home, were now welcome to return to work — as long as they secured stable employment (as in, a one-year contract) before arrival. Good luck with that.

Again, what’s missing in all this is, for example, any guarantee of a) equal protection under labor and civil law against discrimination, b) equal educational opportunities for their children, and c) an integration and settlement program ensuring that revolving-door visas and tenuous jobs do not continue forever. But the Abe administration has never made a formal immigration plan one of its policy “arrows”; and, with the bigger political priorities discussed below, this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

3. Hate speech turns murderous

This was also the year that the genteel mask of “polite, peace-loving Japan” slipped a bit, with a number of demonstrations across the nation advocating outright hatred and violence towards NJ. “Good Koreans or bad, kill them all,” proclaimed one placard, while another speaker was recorded on video encouraging a “massacre” in a Korean neighborhood of Osaka. An Asahi Shimbun reporter tweeted that anti-Korean goods were being sold on Diet grounds, while xenophobic invective (even rumors of war with China) became normalized within Japan’s salacious tabloids (see here and here).

It got so bad that the otherwise languid silent majority — who generally respond to xenophobia by ignoring it — started attending counterdemonstrations. Even Japan’s courts, loath to take strong stands on issues that might “curb freedom of speech,” formally recognized “hate speech” as an illegal form of racial discrimination in October, and ordered restitution for victims in one case (a Zainichi Korean school) and a year of actual jail time in another (for harassing a company that had used a Korean actress in its advertising).

However, leading politicians offered only lukewarm condemnations of the hatred (Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called it “dishonorable,” months after the fact) and no countermeasures. In fact, in April, Tokyo’s then-governor, Naoki Inose, slagged off fellow Olympic candidate city Istanbul by denigrating Islam — yet Tokyo still got the games.

Meanwhile, people who discussed issues of discrimination in Japan constructively (such as American teacher Miki Dezaki, whose viral YouTube video on the subject cost him his job and resulted in him retreating to a Buddhist monastery for a year) were bullied and sent death threats, courtesy of Japan’s newly labeled legion of anonymous netto uyoku (Internet rightists).

This political camp, as JBC has argued in the past two annual Top 10 lists, is ascendant in Japan as the country swings further to the right. With impressive victories:

2. LDP holds both Diet chambers

In July, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party accomplished its primary goal by chalking up a landslide victory in the Upper House to complement its equally decisive win in the Lower House in December 2012. Then, with virtually no opposition from the left, it got cocky in its deceptiveness.

Shortly after the election, Deputy PM Taro Aso enthused aloud about Nazi Germany’s policymaking tactics, advocating similar stealth for radical constitutional reforms before Japan’s public realizes it. Later it became clear that LDP reform proposals (excising, for example, “Western” conceits of individuality, human rights and a demystified head of state, and replacing them with the duty to “respect” national symbols, the “public interest” and “public order”) might be too difficult to accomplish if laws were actually followed. So off went Abe’s gaijin-handlers on overseas missions (see “Japan brings out the big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.,” JBC, Nov. 6) to announce that reinterpretations of the Constitution’s current wording would resolve pesky postwar restrictions.

Meanwhile, Abe was being rebranded for foreign consumption as a peace-loving “ethnic nationalist” instead of (in JBC’s view) a radical historical revisionist and regional destabilizing force. Not only was his recent visit to controversial Yasukuni Shrine repackaged as a mere pilgrimage to Japan’s version of Arlington National Cemetery, but Japan’s remilitarization was also portrayed as a means to assist America and the world in more effective peacekeeping operations, as seen in Abe’s “human security” and “proactive peace policy” neologisms.

As always, a liberal slathering of “peace” talk helps the munitions go down. Just pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. For curtains are precisely what are being drawn with the passage of:

1. The state secrets law

In a country where most reforms proceed at a glacial pace, the Act on Protection of Specified Secrets took everyone by surprise, moving from the public-debate back burner to established law in mere weeks. We still don’t know what will be designated as a “secret,” although official statements have made it clear it would include information about Fukushima, and could be used to curtail “loud” public rallies by protesters LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba likened to “terrorists.”

We do know that the punishments for leakers, including journalists, will be severe: up to 10 years’ jail for leaking something the government says it doesn’t want leaked, and five for “conspiracy” for attempting to get information even if the investigating party didn’t know it was “secret.” It’s so vague that you can get punished for allegedly “planning” the leak — even before the leak has happened or concrete plans have been made to leak. Although resoundingly condemned by Japan’s media, grass roots and the United Nations, it was too little, too late: Stealth won.

The state secrets law is an unfolding issue, but JBC shares the doomsayers’ view: It will underpin the effort to roll back Japan’s postwar democratic reforms and resurrect a prewar-style society governed by perpetual fear of reprisal, where people even in privileged positions will be forced to double-guess themselves into silence regarding substantiated criticism of The State (see the JT’s best article of the year, “The secret of keeping official secrets secret,” by Noriko Hama, Japanese Perspectives, Nov. 30).

After all, information is power, and whoever controls it can profoundly influence social outcomes. Moreover, this law expands “conspiracy” beyond act and into thought. Japan has a history of “thought police” (tokubetsu kōtō keisatsu) very effectively controlling the public in the name of “maintaining order.” This tradition will be resuscitated when the law comes into force in 2014.

In sum, 2013 saw the enfranchised elite consolidating their power further than has ever been seen in the postwar era, while Japan’s disenfranchised peoples, especially its NJ residents, slipped ever lower down the totem pole, becoming targets of suspicion, fear and loathing.

May this year be a healthy one for you and yours. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 68 Oct 1 2013: “Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan’s resurgent right”

eBooks, Books, and more from 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)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate

justbecauseicon.jpg

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 68 Oct 1 2013:
“Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan’s resurgent right”
BY ARUDOU Debito
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/09/30/issues/triumph-of-tokyo-olympic-bid-sends-wrong-signal-to-japans-resurgent-right/
Version with links to sources

Blame news cycles, but I’m coming in late to the discussion on Tokyo’s successful bid for the 2020 Olympics. Sorry. The most poignant stuff has already been said, but I would add these thoughts.

Probably unsurprisingly, I was not a supporter of Tokyo’s candidacy. Part of it is because I have a hard time enjoying events where individuals are reduced to national representatives, saddled with the pressure to prove an apparent geopolitical superiority through gold medal tallies. Guess I’m just grouchy about international sports.

That said, this time around, the wheeling and dealing at the International Olympic Committee has been particularly distasteful. Unlike the IOC, I can’t forget Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose’s denigration of fellow candidate city Istanbul for being “Islamic” (conveniently playing on widespread Western fears of a religion and linking it to social instability). This was especially ironic given rising xenophobia in Japan, where attendees at right-wing rallies have even called for the killing of ethnic Koreans who have lived in and contributed to Japan for generations.

Nor can I pretend to ignore the risk of exposing people to an ongoing nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima. Even if you think the science is still unclear on the health effects of radiation in Tohoku, what’s not in doubt is that there will be incredible amounts of pork sunk into white-elephant projects in Japan’s metropole while thousands of people still languish in northern Japan, homeless and dispossessed. When so much work is incomplete elsewhere, this is neither the time nor place for bread and circuses.

All of this has been said elsewhere, and more eloquently. But for JBC, the most important reason why the Olympics should not come to Japan is because, as I have argued before, Japan as a government or society is not mature enough to handle huge international events.

I know, Japan has held three Olympics before (in Tokyo, Sapporo and Nagano), as well as numerous international events (such as the G-8 Summits in Nago and Toyako) and one FIFA World Cup. But with each major event it holds, Japan keeps setting precedents that hemorrhage cash and make life miserable for residents. Especially those who don’t “look Japanese” — Japan’s visible minorities.

Media memories tend to be short, so some refreshers: More money was spent on “security” at Nago’s G-8 Summit in 1998 than at any previous such powwow — by a factor of five (“Summit wicked this way comes,” Zeit Gist, Apr. 22, 2008). Then Toyako in 2008 spent even more than Nago.

When you devote this much time and energy to policing, consider the effects on those being policed. As reported on these pages before (I have gone as far as to call Japan a “mild police state”), Japan’s police forces have inordinate powers of search, seizure, and detention even at the most mundane of times.

Now, bring in the eyes of the world for an international event, and Japan’s general bunker mentality produces a control-freak guest/host relationship, where nothing is left to chance, and nobody will be allowed to spoil the party.

That means Japan’s authorities get a freer hand to smoosh not only alleged threats to social order, but also dissenters in general. Because our media generally ignores contrarians and naysayers for the sake of putting the best face on Japan for guests, they forget their own duty to act as a check and balance against official over-enforcement and paranoia.

But paranoia tends to peak when there are “foreigners” gadding about. Remember the 2002 World Cup, when politicians, bureaucrats and the media declared open season on “foreigners” (popularizing the word “hooligan” among Japanese), justifying enormous budgets and infrastructure to subdue their international guests if necessary? (It wasn’t.)

Years later, Toyako slingshot off that precedent, with “foreigners” equated with “terrorists,” further normalizing the act of subjecting any foreign face to extra scrutiny and racial profiling.

Plus, you might recall, Japan still has no law against racial discrimination, so treating foreigners like crap can happen anytime, anywhere, by any vigilante who can scribble “Japanese Only” on a storefront window.

But wait — there’s something more sinister afoot. In terms of domestic politics, this was in fact the worst possible time to award Japan the Olympics.

Over the past year, this column has charted the re-ascendance of Japan’s right wing into power, and its rout of the more liberal elements who tried to rein in Japan’s endemic corporatism and bigotry.

Now we have government once again run by and for Japan’s ruling class — i.e., the political families, entrenched bureaucrats, corporate conglomerate heads and hereditary elites.

These types can only see the world in terms of power. Their forebears cheered loudest when, for example, Japan triumphed in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. It showed both them and the rest of the world that Japan had become mighty enough to defeat a world power!

This victory transformed Japan into a colonial empire, cocksure that it was on the right track because it could beat white people. This hubris led to enormous suffering worldwide, as the elites led Japanese society to a destiny of total war and utter defeat.

Three generations later, these elites still have not learned their lesson. The biggest reason why Japan’s ruling class respected and once emulated America is because they lost a war to them. Now that postwar Japan has rebuilt and re-enriched itself, they believe it’s nigh time to re-militarize, restore Japan to its rightful place in the geopolitical hierarchy and rally Japanese society behind repeating a glorious (yet ultimately tragic) history.

If you read the subtext of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposals for constitutional reform closely, you’ll realize that this is precisely what Japan’s ruling politicians are calling for. From that will flow the restored trappings of a prewar-ordered Japanese society.

And now, these jingoists have had their mind-sets rewarded with an Olympics. What a windfall! Even if Abe were to step down tomorrow (he won’t — he’s got a good three years left to machinate if his health holds up), he will be remembered positively for bagging the 2020 Games. But now he and his ilk can leverage this victory into convincing the general public that Japan is still somehow on the right track.

Even when it’s not. For the fallout still remains: Abe lied about how “safe” and “under control” Japan’s nuclear industry is. And Japan’s already massive public debt will balloon further out of control. And once again, the invisible slush monies available to fund elite projects will remain unaccountable.

After all, Japan won its last Olympics, according to Time magazine (“Japan’s sullied bid,” Feb. 1, 1999), through blatant corruption and bribery of IOC officials. How much corruption? We don’t know, because Japan burned all of the Nagano Olympics financial records!

Slush clearly didn’t bother the IOC this time either, as they seated themselves at the trough. I guess we can’t expect corrupt bedfellows to police each other. So anyone who outspends, outbids and outdoes their rivals, even to the detriment of their respective societies, gets rewarded for it — precisely the wrong geopolitical incentives for societies in flux.

In Japan’s case, the damage will be political as well as economic: Everyone must get behind the Olympic effort or else. Then, when the party’s over, remember those who got steamrollered: The people living outside of greedy Tokyo; our non-Japanese residents, who will once again be targeted as a destabilizing force; and the rest of Japanese society, who will have to live under illiberal regimes where individual rights will be further subordinated to the maintenance of social order.

In sum, international events undermine Japan’s democracy. Shame on you, IOC, for being a party to it.

ENDS

Arudou Debito’s updated “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” is now available as a downloadable e-book on Amazon. See www.debito.org/handbook.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community pages of the month. Send your comments on these issues and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.

Zakzak: Counterdemos against hate speech in Japan, now supported by Olympic fever

eBooks, Books, and more from 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)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate

Hi Blog.  Here’s some good news.  Finding a silver lining in Japan’s successful Olympics 2020 bid, here’s Zakzak reporting that Olympic fever has seized the groups protesting against the anti-Korean demonstrations happening in Tokyo:  They are blocking demonstrations and not wanting them to spoil Tokyo’s Olympics.  Well, very good.  Should think that as the time draws nearer the xenophobic elements within Japan’s ruling elites will be leaning on the rabid Rightists as well.  But it’s nice to see the Grassroots doing it for themselves.  May it become a habit.  Arudou Debito

新大久保、大荒れ 嫌韓ヘイトスピーチ

2013.09.09  Zakzak.co.jp,  Courtesy of MS

http://www.zakzak.co.jp/society/domestic/news/20130909/dms1309091209002-n1.htm

olympiccounterdemos090913
嫌韓デモに対し、路上に寝転んで抗議する人たち=8日(東京・新大久保)【拡大】

 韓流の街、東京・新大久保(新宿区)で8日、在日コリアンに対するヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)デモが行われ、対抗するグループが「オリンピックの邪魔をするな」と激突。逮捕者が出るなど荒れに荒れた。

デモが行われたのは、韓流ショップなどが立ち並ぶ新大久保付近の商店街。「在日特権を許さない市民の会(在特会)」などの主催で、旭日旗を掲げた一団が「オリンピックおめでとう」「日韓断交」と声を上げながら練り歩いた。

対抗するグループは「ここは東京。オリンピックをやるところだぞ」「日本の恥」などと訴え、集団で車道に寝転び「帰れ」「デモ中止」と叫んで妨害し、警察に排除される場面もあった。

また、同日午後0時20分ごろ、大久保(新宿区)の路上で、在特会が用意した横断幕(時価約5000円相当)を破ったとして、警視庁新宿署は器物損壊の現行犯で男を逮捕。同署によると、男は黙秘し、氏名も不詳という。

ENDS

Tokyo wins Olympics for 2020. What do you think about that?

eBooks, Books, and more from 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)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate

Hi Blog. Coming out of break briefly for important news about Tokyo’s successful bid for the 2020 Olympics, announced earlier today. In lieu of any comments from me (you can probably anticipate that Debito.org did not support Tokyo’s bid, and not least because Tokyo Governor Inose resorted to inappropriate comments about other candidates in public), I’ll just open up this blog entry for discussion. Commenters are welcome to also include articles that present cogent arguments pro and con, and more to the point how Japan could get the Games despite an ongoing nuclear crisis (all that CNN below can speculate were detractors for the other candidates was a neighboring conflict in Syria and continuing economic malaise in Spain — something Japan has plenty of experience with too). Read on. Arudou Debito

////////////////////////////////////////////
Tokyo to host 2020 Olympic Games
By CNN Staff
updated 8:15 PM EDT, Sat September 7, 2013
IOC president Jacques Rogge announces the winner of the bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, following Saturday’s vote in Buenos Aires.
http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/07/sport/world-olympics-2020

(CNN) — Tokyo has been chosen by the International Olympic Committee to host the 2020 Summer Games.

In voting Saturday in Buenos Aires, the committee picked Tokyo over the two other contenders, Madrid and Istanbul.
The announcement came at 5:20 a.m. Tokyo time, but a large crowd watching on an outdoor video screen burst into cheers.

Tokyo previously hosted the Summer Games in 1964.

Japan’s bid for 2020 billed the city as the safe choice — despite radiation leaking from the Fukushima nuclear plant. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe personally made a presentation to the committee and promised an effective cleanup.

“I am so happy, I am overjoyed,” Abe told reporters at the post-announcement press conference.

“I would like to share this joy with the people back home. We’ve received so much support from the people of the IOC and I would also like to express my support to them. And to the people around the world.

“A safe and secure Olympic Games will be staged by us — I think that was another hope for their support. I would like to pledge that we will be discharging this responsibility.”

Abe said Tokyo would try to stage a successful Games to thank the world for its support after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of Japan.

“Sport has the power to unite people,” he said. “We experienced that after the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, when athletes came to our country and helped us. Japan needs the power of sport, we need hopes and dreams.”

Abe said Tokyo’s 1964 Olympics had left a strong impression on him as a child.

“I was only 10 years old but a lot of kids like me were fascinated. Like many children I dreamed of winning a medal. It was a celebration giving hopes and dreams,” he said. “The joy (of winning the 2020 vote) was even greater than when I won my own election.”

Tokyo’s bid came in at $5 billion to $6 billion, compared to $19 billion pledged by Istanbul, said Ed Hula, editor and founder of aroundtherings.com, which covers the business and politics of the Olympic movement.

But Tokyo’s government has already amassed a $4.9 billion Olympic fund to pay to prepare for the Games, Hula said. And a $1 billion national stadium that will be used for the athletic events and the Opening Ceremonies will already have been built for the rugby World Cup in 2017 and is not considered an Olympic expense.

Turkey would have been the first Muslim country to host the Games, and with a median age of less than 30 years, one of the youngest. However, it missed out for the fifth time.

Istanbul would have been “a more emotional choice,” Hula said. But its huge bid would have been needed to fund infrastructure improvements, including modernization of its transportation system.

Turkey’s border with Syria also might have troubled some committee members, he said.

And this summer, the image of Turkish sport took a hit when about three dozen athletes tested positive for drugs, he said.

June’s rioting in Istanbul’s Taksim Square may also have tainted the city’s hopes, though Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan tried to persuade IOC members ahead of Saturday’s vote.

“We live at a time when our region and the world crave for peace,” Erdogan said as part of Istanbul’s final presentation.

“And at this critical moment, we would like to send a strong message of peace to the whole world from Istanbul, the city of friendship and brotherhood.”

Tokyo led after a first round of voting Saturday but fell short of a majority, with 42. Istanbul and Madrid tied for second on 26 votes each, and a 49-45 tiebreaker vote put the Turkish city in the final runoff with Tokyo.

Tokyo won the deciding vote, 60 to Istanbul’s 36, according to an IOC tweet.

Madrid, like Tokyo, was a repeat bidder — making its third consecutive case for the Games, one that was little changed from previous attempts, Hula said.

The Spaniards’ $2 billion bid said they had little need for new infrastructure, he said. And they have ample sports experience, having hosted a number of other high-profile, international events.

But the country’s economic plight remained a drawback, with one out of four adults unemployed. Though Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insisted that rate is improving, “the fact is that most reasonable, sensible economists think unemployment is going to linger at a high level for years to come,” Hula said.

And Spain’s athletes, too, have had issues with doping accusations. In a case that occurred several years ago, blood bags from athletes who had tested positive were destroyed, Hula said. “It’s been a long-running situation.”

Spain’s Prince Philip, a former Olympic sailor, was a lead figure in Spain’s presentation.

“Some people around the world have questioned hosting the Games in a time of economic uncertainty,” he told the IOC members Saturday ahead of the voting.

“But I don’t see this as a threat to the Olympics, I see it as an opportunity. The benefits of sport are measured in generations, not in dollars.”

On Sunday, the three sports competing to be added to the 2020 roster will know their fate.

Squash is hoping to be included for the first time, but is up against a combined baseball/softball bid and wrestling — which is seeking to be reinstated.

The 125th IOC Session will be the last for its president Jacques Rogge, who is standing down after 12 years in the role. The 71-year-old’s successor will be elected Tuesday.

The 2016 Summer Olympics will be in Brazil. The Winter Olympics will be held in Russia in 2014 and South Korea in 2018.
ENDS

NYT: Violating IOC rules, Tokyo Gov Inose bad-mouths other 2020 Olympic bidders, particularly Istanbul for being “Islamic”

eBooks, Books, and more from ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
japaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook 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)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate

Hi Blog.  We’ve talked about Tokyo’s Olympic bids for 2016 and 2020 before on Debito.org (I see them as basically a vanity project for Japan’s elite ruling class to convince themselves that the outside world is still paying attention to them, especially after successful bids in Beijing 2008 and Pyeongchang (South Korea) 2018).  But here’s an interesting development:

According to the New York Times, Tokyo Governor Inose Naoki (a good writer and analyst (see also here) before he became Vice-Governor then Governor, and from whom I expected more intelligence and sophistication) is taking cheap shots at other Olympic bidders, violating IOC rules.  Particularly at Istanbul for its religious and ethnic/economic composition, Inose has said, “Islamic countries, the only thing they share in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes”.  He also said that other countries lack “Tokyo’s excellent sense of hospitality”.

Funny, that.  As if Japan does not have classes of its own based upon economic clout or connections to a ruling elite.  And of course, there’s the frequent claim by Japan’s promoters of lack of infrastructure and development elsewhere.  Never mind how that infrastructure doesn’t seem to be taking care of its hundreds of thousands of victims and homeless after the Tohoku Disasters more than two years afterwards.

(More on how irredeemably broken Japan’s system is in fact hereherehereherehereherehere, and here)

But you see, we’re not holding the Olympics in Fukushima.  And we’ll take advantage of Fukushima by trying to claim a sympathy vote for Tokyo in their stead.  Also never mind that unfettered discrimination against domestic minorities in a society also violates the Olympic Charter.  So much to see when you scratch the surface.

There were some subsidiary arguments about Japan’s aging society, which Inose turned on their head to say that healthy seniors are the sign of a healthier society.  That’s fine — that’s just boosterism.  But then he violates IOC rules again by denigrating:  “I’m sure people in Turkey want to live long.  And if they want to live long, they should create a culture like what we have in Japan. There might be a lot of young people, but if they die young, it doesn’t mean much.”

See what I mean about a lack of sophistication?  I guess the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree (as Inose is an Ishihara Shintaro protege, and Ishihara is a bonafide bigot (see also here).  Or else Inose has been so steeped in the dominant discourse of Japan being a unique and peerlessly rich, homogeneous, developed society, that he actually has come to believe it himself.  Hence the blind spots cluttering his analysis.  Put it down to the effects of being steeped in affluence and power.

As submitter MH notes about what he calls Inose’s “idiotic, xenophobic and downright racist comments”, “One doesn’t have to extrapolate too far to see how a racist landlord or real estate agency might feel a certain (ingrained) justification for banning foreigners.”  Quite.  So much for Japan’s “excellent sense of hospitality”.  Arudou Debito

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

In Promoting His City for 2020 Games, Tokyo’s Bid Chairman Tweaks Others
By KEN BELSON
The New York Times: April 26, 2013, courtesy of MH
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/sports/in-praising-its-olympic-bid-tokyo-tweaks-the-others.html

With less than five months to go before the International Olympic Committee chooses a city to host the 2020 Summer Games, the three remaining bidders — Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo — are increasing their efforts to win over delegates and the public.

The Olympic committee’s rules prohibit bid committee members from directly criticizing other bids. Instead, the bidders often highlight the perceived strengths of their bids to note delicately what they believe to be their rivals’ shortcomings, something known in the communications industry as counter-positioning.

Naoki Inose, the governor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and chairman of the Tokyo 2020 bid, has often done that, highlighting his city’s extensive and efficient transportation system, as well as the financial and technical wherewithal to build first-class sports sites and housing for the athletes. He has also noted that, like Paris and London, Tokyo has hosted the Summer Games before, a claim that Istanbul and Madrid cannot make.

But Inose has also pushed the boundaries of rhetorical gamesmanship with occasionally blunt and candid statements about how his city compares with the competition, particularly Istanbul, which he has suggested is less developed and less equipped to host the Games.

“For the athletes, where will be the best place to be?” Inose said through an interpreter in a recent interview in New York. “Well, compare the two countries where they have yet to build infrastructure, very sophisticated facilities. So, from time to time, like Brazil, I think it’s good to have a venue for the first time. But Islamic countries, the only thing they share in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes.”

Asked later to elaborate on his characterization of Istanbul, a spokesman said Inose meant that simply being the first Islamic country to hold the Olympics was not a good enough reason to be chosen, just as being the first Buddhist country or the first Christian country would not be, either.

The spokesman said Inose did not mean to refer to “class.”

Istanbul is an Olympic finalist because it is an international city in one of the fastest-developing countries in the region. A member of NATO, Turkey straddles Europe and Asia and is a bridge between Christianity and Islam. With its emerging middle class, Turkey has become a political and economic powerhouse in the region.

This is Istanbul’s fifth bid to host the Olympic Games. In a statement, the city’s bid committee declined to address comments made by rival bidders.

“Istanbul 2020 completely respects the I.O.C. guidelines on bidding and therefore it is not appropriate to comment further on this matter,” the statement said.

The International Olympic Committee does not look kindly on overtly harsh attacks by bidders, and occasionally it sends letters of reprimand to those who break with protocol, former bidders said.

According to Article 14 of the Rules of Conduct for bidders: “Cities shall refrain from any act or comment likely to tarnish the image of a rival city or be prejudicial to it. Any comparison with other cities is strictly forbidden.”

Though untoward comments rarely disqualify a bid, they could raise doubts in the minds of I.O.C. delegates about the trustworthiness of a bidder.

“The reason the rule is there is that if someone deviates from it, it triggers a chain reaction,” said Mike Moran, chief spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee from 1978 to 2002 and a senior communications counselor for New York’s bid for the 2012 Summer Games. “The I.O.C. is very serious about their protocols.”

Moran added that negative comments by bidders would probably not hurt a bid, although “you never know how a comment might influence those I.O.C. members.”

At several points in the interview, Inose said that Japanese culture was unique and by implication superior, a widely held view in Japan. He noted that the political scientist Samuel P. Huntington wrote in his book “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” that Japan was unlike any other culture.

Inose also pointed to polls that showed 70 percent of Tokyoites in favor of hosting the Summer Games, up from 47 percent last year. The well-received London Games, he said, have helped generate enthusiasm and confidence that Tokyo can host a similarly successful event.

Tokyo, he added, is exceptional because the Imperial Palace, which is largely off-limits to residents and visitors, forms the city’s core while bustling activity surrounds it. “The central part of Tokyo has nothingness,” he said. “This is a unique way that society achieved modernization.”

Inose brushed aside the notion that Olympic delegates may favor Istanbul’s bid because Turkey has a far younger population than Japan and thus is fertile ground for developing the next generation of Olympic enthusiasts. While population growth has stalled in Japan, the population of Tokyo has grown because of an influx of younger people, he said. He added that although Japan’s population is aging, its elderly are reasonably healthy.

“We used to say that if you are poor, you have lots of kids, but we have to build infrastructure to accommodate a growing population,” Inose said. “What’s important is that seniors need to be athletic. If you’re healthy, even if you get older, health care costs will go down. The average age is 85 for women and 80 for men, so that demonstrates how stress-free” Japan’s society is.

“I’m sure people in Turkey want to live long,” he added. “And if they want to live long, they should create a culture like what we have in Japan. There might be a lot of young people, but if they die young, it doesn’t mean much.”

Inose has drawn distinctions between Japan and other cultures in other settings, too. When he visited London in January to promote Tokyo’s bid, he said Tokyo and London were sophisticated and implied that Istanbul was not.

“I don’t mean to flatter, but London is in a developed country whose sense of hospitality is excellent,” Inose told reporters. “Tokyo’s is also excellent. But other cities, not so much.”
ENDS

Letters from J human rights groups to the visiting Olympic Committee re Tokyo 2020: Discrimination in Japan violates IOC Charter

Books etc. by ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
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
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants

Hi Blog.  I received this two days ago and am reposting (as is) with permission.  The International Olympic Committee is currently in Japan considering Tokyo as a venue for the 2020 Summer Games.  In light of recent events that point to clear examples of discrimination and advocacy of violence towards, for example, Koreans (see below), human rights groups in Japan are advocating that the IOC understand that these actions violate the Olympic Charter and choose their venue accordingly.  Articles, photos, and letters follow from the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (Nichibenren), Tanaka Hiroshi in the Mainichi Shinbun, and sources demonstrating that, for example, all GOJ educational subsidies for Korean ethnic schools have been eliminated as of 2013 from government budgets.

Academic Tessa Morris-Suzuki might agree with the assessment of rising discrimination, as she documents on academic website Japan Focus the protection of xenophobic Rightists and the police harassment of their liberal opponents.  Her conclusion: “But there is no rule of law if the instigators of violence are left to peddle hatred with impunity, while those who pursue historical justice and responsibility are subject to police harassment. There is no respect for human rights where those in power use cyber bullying in an attempt to silence their opponents. And democracy is left impoverished when freedom of hate speech is protected more zealously than freedom of reasoned political debate.”  Have a look.

SITYS.  This is yet but another example of Japan’s clear and dangerous swing to the Right under PM Abe.  And granting an Olympics to this regime despite all of this merely legitimize these tendencies, demonstrating that Japan will be held to a different standard regarding discrimination.  Wake up, IOC.  Arudou Debito

REPORT BEGINS:

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

Date: 2013/3/3Dear Sir/Madam,

I am … an activist against racism. I hope you to know about
racism against resident Koreans, especially  emergent crisis of Korean
ethnic schools by the central and local governments’ oppression in
Japan, even though the governments would invite the Olympic Games 2020
to Tokyo.

I’ve attached a letter to you below.

The International Olympic Committee’s evaluation commission arrived in
Tokyo on last Friday and it is going to inspect Tokyo from 4th to 7th
March.

It would be great honour if you handle this issue.
All the best, [redacted]

Japan Network for the Institutionalization of Schools for
Non-Japanese Nationals and Ethnic Minorities

Email: sangosyo@gmail.com

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

Tokyo – a city which discriminates against Korean children
January 2013

We hope to inform you that Tokyo is not an appropriate city for the
Olympic Games based on the Fundamental Principals of the Olympics,
especially that of anti-discrimination.
The main reason for this is that the central and Tokyo governments
officially discriminate against Korean children who attend Korean
schools, which are key to maintaining the Korean communities in Japan.

Koreans in Japan are an ethnic minority who were forced to come to
Japan under the Japanese colonial rule of Korea and settle there even
after WWII. Throughout their enforced stay here they have faced
various difficulties. After the liberation from the Japanese colonial
rule, Koreans in Japan established their own ethnic schools in various
places in Japan in order to maintain their own language and culture
that had been deprived from them under the Japanese colonial rule.

Although the Japanese government has not recognized Korean schools as
regular and official schools and has been imposing institutional
discrimination upon them such as exclusion from a financial support
scheme of the central government, the Korean community has been
sustaining their schools on their own for more than 60 years. The
total number of Korean schools in Japan is approximately 70, including
kindergarten, primary to high schools, and university. Nearly 10,000
Korean children whose nationality is South Korean, North Korean and
Japan are learning in those schools today, even though 80-90 % of
Korean children attend Japanese schools.

The new Democratic Party administration proposed the plan of a
so-called “Free High School Tuition” system in October 2009 as soon as
it was established. The then plan intended not to collect tuition fees
from students of public high schools in Japan and to supply students
of private schools and minority schools authorized by local
governments as “vocational school” including Korean schools with a
subsidy of the amount equivalent to the tuition fee of public high
schools.

In March 2010, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination expressed concern about the approach of some
politicians who had suggested the exclusion of Korean schools from the
bill of “Free High School Tuition” due to the diplomatic issues
between Japan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The
reason for this concern was the discriminatory effects of such a
policy. However, the policy was instigated in April 2010 and since
then the central government has been discriminating against Korean
school students. They have been excluded from this system for nearly
three years, although students of 37 minority high schools including
International schools, Chinese schools and Brazilian schools have been
supplied with subsidies through this system.

On the other hand, all 27 prefectural governments where Korean schools
are located accepted them as “vocational schools” and have been
providing subsidies to Korean schools for decades, even though the
central government requested prefectural governments to not accept
them as any kind of schools in 1965.

However, the decision of the central government to exclude Korean
schools from “Free High School Tuition” has led to the new
discriminative situation in which five prefectural governments
including Tokyo have stopped their subsidies to Korean schools. Tokyo
had supplied financial aid to Korean schools for at least over 15
years. In 2009, it provided about 27,000,000Yen (190,000 Pound);
however, Tokyo has stopped its subsidies to Korean schools since 2010
without providing a clear rationale.

In addition, the then Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro officially said
that he would reconsider the accreditation of Korean schools in Tokyo
as “vocational schools” in March 2012. If the accreditation of
“vocational school” is revoked, it will cause extensive damages to
Korean schools. For instance, Korean schools will become completely
exempt from the “Free High School Tuition” system and there will be no
possibility to receive any financial support from local governments.
Furthermore, Korean schools will be forced to pay consumption tax for
tuition fee.

In December 2012, as soon as the Liberal Democratic Party won the
General Election and established its new government, it declared it
would revise an ordinance in order to exclude Korean schools due to
political tensions between Japan and North Korea, primarily the
abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea.

In January 2013, Korean schools and school children in Osaka and Aichi
prefecture brought a lawsuit before the court, and Korean school
children in Tokyo are preparing lawsuit concerning these
discrimination.

Racism in Japan is generally increasing, encouraged by the racial
discrimination by the central government. The number of demonstrations
repeating hate speech against Non Japanese nationals, especially
Korean, communities has been increasing in Japan (Annex1). The police
are just gazing at the demos without restricting them because there is
no anti-discrimination law nor hate speech legislation in Japan so
that the demos has been unchecked.

ENDS

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

REFERENCE MATERIALS:

List of Annexs

1, The images of demonstration by anti-Korean racists in Korean Town of Tokyo

2, The Statement of President of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations objecting to exclusion of Korean Schools from applying Free High School tuition policy

3, The Article of The Mainichi Shimbun (23 February, 2013)

4, The situation of the cut of the subsidies to Korean schools from local governments in Japan

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

Annex 1: The Images of Demonstration by Anti-Korean Racists

(February 2013, in Korean Town of Tokyo)

 antikoreandemosShinOhkubo020913

Video URL: http://matome.naver.jp/odai/2136038266418742101

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

Annex2: Statement of President of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations objecting to exclusion of Korean Schools from applying Free High School tuition policy

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) announced a proposed amendment to ministerial ordinance on December 28th, 2012, which amends a part of enforcement regulations regarding free tuition for public high schools and subsidies for private high schools. As for the high schools where foreign students are enrolled such as international schools and ethnic schools, the current enforcement regulations define the subject for the policy as either high schools that are confirmed through its embassy to have curriculum equivalent to that of high schools in its native state, or high schools that are certified by international evaluation body, while the rest of the schools that are evaluated as having curriculum equivalent to that of Japanese high schools can be the recipient of the subsidies, whether or not Japan has diplomatic relations with its native state, after the minister of the MEXT designates each school individually. The proposed amendment is to delete the grounds for the individual designation.

Regarding the purpose of this revision, the minister of MEXT, Hakubun Shimomura, stated at the press conference on December 28th, 2012, that the proposed amendment is aimed at deleting the grounds for designating Korean schools because there is no progress to resolve the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) abduction of Japanese citizens, which makes it clear that this proposed amendment is aimed at excluding Korean Schools from applying the Free High School tuition policy.

As we stated in the “Statement on Subject High Schools of the Free Tuition Bill” on March 5th, 2010, the main purpose of this bill is “to contribute to the creation of equal educational opportunities by alleviating the financial burdens of high school education”, which is also demanded by Article 28 of Convention on the Rights of the Child. Considering the fact that Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as International Bill of Human Rights (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) guarantee the right to receive education with ethnic identity being maintained, the current ministerial ordinance which would include international schools and ethnic schools is in a right direction. Furthermore, it is revealed through the process of the deliberation on the bill that, as the Government’s collective view, the designation of high schools for foreign students should not be judged by diplomatic concern but should be judged objectively through educational perspective.

On contrary to that, this proposed amendment is to refuse to provide subsidies based on the grounds that there being no diplomatic relations between Japan and DPRK or no progress to resolve the DPRK’s abduction issue, either of which has nothing to do with the right of the child to receive education. It is a discriminative treatment which is prohibited by Article 14 of the Constitution of Japan.

Korean Schools in Japan completed applying for the designation based on the current bill legitimately by the end of November, 2011, this upcoming amendment is to extinguish the regulations considered as the grounds for applying and refuse the Korean Schools’ application retroactively after more than two years from the application, which poses serious doubt on its procedure.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations strongly urges that the proposed amendment be withdrawn whilst the review of the application from Korean schools be concluded promptly based on the current law and screening standard.

February 1st, 2013

Kenji Yamagishi, President

Japan Federation of Bar Associations

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

Annex3: The Article of The Mainichi Shimbun

 

Discrimination against Korean Schools need be reconsidered

Hiroshi Tanaka

Honorary Professor at Hitotsubashi University

24 February, 2013 

Since the host city for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics games will be determined in September, the Governor of Tokyo Metropolitan, Naoki Inose, has started Bids for Olympics in earnest. Under such circumstances, would it be right for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Japanese Government to continue discriminating Korean Schools in Japan?

At the time of Nagoya bid for the 1988 Summer Olympics, Nagoya City had “Nationality Clause” for the employment of teachers at public school which has been open to foreigners in Tokyo or Osaka, thus preventing foreigners from applying. A nongovernment human right committee in Nagoya sent an English letter to the International Olympics Committee (IOC), urging IOC to consider the serious issue on human rights of Nagoya City and to be sufficiently concerned about the improvement of moral qualification in the Olympic Movement to determine the host city. It was Seoul that was chosen as the host city in September, 1981. Though it is uncertain whether or not the letter had anything to do with the decision, it must be remembered that discrimination is unforgivable matter in the international community.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government had previously been providing subsidies worth of 15,000 yen per a student to each of 27 schools for foreign students. However, the Metropolitan Government has stopped providing subsidies to Korean Schools alone since 2010 and not on the budget next year either. There has been no illegal act on the Korean Schools side. The education of the child should not be confounded with international affair.

So called “Free High School tuition law” was implemented in the same year 2010, which was applied not only to Japanese high schools but to vocational schools and high schools for foreign students as well. Students from each of 39 high schools, such as Brazilian Schools, Chinese Schools, (South) Korean Schools and International Schools were provided with subsidies equivalent to the tuition for the public high school.

Nevertheless, the decision over whether or not (North) Korean Schools would be applicable to the policy still remains unmade and students at Korean Schools have already graduated without ever receiving subsidies over the last two years.

Following the birth of Abe Cabinet, the Minster of the Ministry of Education, Culture, sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Hakubun Shimomura (aka Hirohumi Shimomura) amended the enforcement regulations of Free High School tuition law with the purpose of excluding Korean Schools alone from the policy because there is no progress to resolve Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea’s abduction of Japanese citizens. The law’s main purpose is “alleviating the financial burdens of high school education” and “to contribute to the creation of equal education opportunities”. Doesn’t this amendment to the enforcement regulations go beyond the limitation of a delegated order?

UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)  expressed its concern about the exclusion of Korean Schools from Free High School tuition policy in the Concluding Observation in March, 2010, after reviewing the report submitted by Japanese Government and recommended Japan to consider acceding to the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education (adopted in 1960, 100 signatories). The concern of CERD became realized by Abe Cabinet.

The report from Japanese Government to the UN Committee on Economics, Social and Cultural Rights is to be reviewed in coming April. List of Issues from the Committee says “Please provide information on the impact of the measures taken to address the persistent discrimination against children belonging to ethnic minorities and migrant families, in particular children of Korean origin”. Female students at Korean Schools used to go to school wearing chima jeogori, the traditional Korean form of dress. It’s been a long time since it became unseen in order to avoid harassment and assaults by heartless Japanese citizens.

Olympic Charter states “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.” Discrimination against Korean School is incompatible with Olympics.

Discrimination against Korean Schools need be reconsidered.

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

Annex4: The situation of the cut of the subsidies to Korean schools from local governments in Japan ( 2009 – 2013 )

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Prefecture

(start date of subsidy)

Total amount of subsidy

Total amount of subsidy

Total amount of subsidy

Total amount of subsidy

Total amount of subsidy

Tokyo

(1995)

23.5 million

0

0

0

Cut from the budget

Saitama

(1982)

9 million

0

0

0

Cut from the budget

Osaka

(1988)

185 million

87 million

0

0

Cut from the budget

Miyagi

(1992)

1.5 million

1.5 million

0

0

Cut from the budget

Chiba

(1985)

5.6 million

5.6 million

0

0

Cut from the budget

Hiroshima

(1992)

13.8

million

10.1

million

9.6

million

0

Cut from the budget

Kanagawa

(1977)

72.5

million

63

million

63

million

63

million

Cut from the budget

Yamaguchi

(1992)

2.4

million

2.4

million

2.3

million

2.2

million

Cut from the budget

Based on a survey by The Association of Korean Human Rights in Japan

All the currency unit is Japanese yen ( 1 euro≒123 yen, 1 dollar≒93 yen [as of 22 Feb 2013] )

ENDS

Sankei Sports etc: J soccer player Nakamura Yuuki quits Slovakian club, feels victimized by “racial discrimination”; my, how ironic!

Books etc. by ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
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
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants

Hi Blog.  We have an interesting case of a Japanese sports player quitting an overseas soccer team claiming “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu).  Nakamura Yuuki, formerly of Slovak football club MSK Rimaska Sobota, has been reported in the Japanese press as returning to Japan last September, blogging about his treatment negatively.  But look closely at this case and some odd thoughts come up.  According to the press (English-language ones first, then Japanese, translated):

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

Japanese soccer player Yuki Nakamura quits Slovakian club due to racial abuse
By Ida Torres / January 31, 2013 /
http://japandailypress.com/japanese-soccer-player-yuki-nakamura-quits-slovakian-club-due-to-racial-abuse-3122445

Japanese soccer striker Yuki Nakamura has quit his Slovakian club Rimavska Sobota saying his club and his teammates did nothing to support or protect him from the racial abuse targeted at him by supporters.

“It’s a real shame but I have come home because I have been subjected to racism at Rimavska Sobota and I can’t carry on living there,” Nakamura posted on his blog. The 25 year old, on loan from Czech side Viktoria Zizkov, said that fans would hurl racial slurs at him before and after games. When he told the club about it, they said there was nothing they could do about it. He decided he couldn’t continue living there and decided to just come home to Japan. He has previously played in Romania and the Czech Republic.

Other Japanese players have also experienced difficulties while playing overseas. Most recently in 2011, Lierse goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima was taunted by opposing fans with chants of “Fukushima, Fukushima” in reference to the nuclear disaster from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Racism in football is still a persistent, serious problem and FIFA president Sepp Blatter believes it is one of the biggest scourges in the sport. He believes points should be deducted from teams in cases of racial abuse. Kevin Prince Boateng of AC Milan, who also plays for the national team of Ghana, walked out of a friendly match against Pro Patria after fans didn’t stop their “monkey” chants, even after being called out by the stadium announcer. United State’s Jozy Altidore is also another recent victim of racist chants, during a Dutch Cup game for his club AZ. The referee wanted to halt the fixture after fans continued hurling abuse at him, but Altidore asked for the game to continue.
ENDS

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

SOCCER

Nakamura quits Slovakian club over racism
JAPAN TODAY, SPORTS JAN. 31, 2013 – 07:00AM JST ( 24 )TOKYO —
http://www.japantoday.com/category/sports/view/nakamura-quits-slovakian-club-over-racism

Japanese striker Yuki Nakamura says he has left Slovakian club Rimavska Sobota because he was a target of racist abuse.

“It’s a real shame but I have come home because I have been subjected to racism at Rimavska Sobota and I can’t carry on living there,” the 25-year-old Nakamura wrote on his blog on Wednesday.

Nakamura, who has also played in Romania and the Czech Republic, says supporters would hurl abuse at him before and after games and that none of his teammates would offer help.

“This is not normal,” said Nakamura, who was on loan from Czech side Viktoria Zizkov. “Some type of threat was made to the club but they said there was nothing they could do about it, so I came home. I doubt there are many players that have experienced this.”

Several Japanese players have encountered difficulties while playing overseas. In 2011, former Lierse goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima was taunted with chants of “Fukushima, Fukushima” by opposing fans in reference to the nuclear disaster following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter recently reiterated his belief in deducting points from teams in cases of racial abuse — which he believes is the one of the biggest scourges in soccer.

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

Nakamura quits club over ‘racism’
Agence France-Presse February 01, 2013
http://gulftoday.ae/portal/79584aa6-ff5b-43e8-9fef-79e360def8ad.aspx

TOKYO: Japanese striker Yuki Nakamura says he returned home over intolerable racism at Slovak club Rimavska Sobota, adding that the side had received threats over his appearances.

The incident is the latest in a string of racially-linked incidents in European football, with Italian giants Lazio fined a total of 140,000 euros ($190,000) by UEFA on Wednesday after their Europa League clashes against Tottenham and Maribor were marred by racist chanting.

In an online blog entry dated Wednesday, Nakamura, 25, said he returned to Japan because of racism that had even involved some of his own teammates.

“Unfortunately, I have come home because I was subjected to racism at the club I belonged to, Rimavska Sobota, and could not live there any more,” the footballer wrote.

Calling out his name before and after matches, some club supporters raised their middle finger to Nakamura “with a look of furious anger”.

“No teammates helped me. There were even some players who joined in (the harassment),” he added.

“It wasn’t normal anymore, and the team even received some sort of threats. They cannot be responsible (for my safety), so I came home,” he said.

Nakamura played in Romania and the Czech Republic before joining Rimavska Sobota on loan in July last year.
ENDS

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

Even more at EIN World News Report.

Compare these with the Japanese-language reports below (my translation, then originals)

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

Japanese Soccer Forward quits club due to severe discrimination

Sankei Sports, January 31, 2013 (translation by Arudou Debito; corrections welcome)

Forward Nakamura Yuuki (25), of Slovak football club MSK Rimavska Sobota, wrote on his own blog on January 30 that “I received racially discriminatory treatment and could no longer live there, so I came back to Japan”, making clear that he had quit his team.

According to his blog, Nakamura had already returned to Japan by last September.  The target of racial discrimination from soccer fans, he also made clear that teammates would side with them.  “Before and after games, soccer fans would say my name with an angry demonic look in their eyes (oni no gyousou de), give me the finger… and none of my teammates would help me.  It also seemed like some of the players would have a hand in it too,” Nakamura wrote in detail.

In addition, Nakamura reported that the club explained to him, “We cannot take responsibility if threats come to the team.”

Nakamura began playing for a Rumanian club after graduating from Kokushikan University.  In 2012 he switched to the Viktoria Zizkov team in the Czech League, and in August he was on loan to MSK Rimavska Sobota.

Regarding incidents of racial discrimination towards Japanese players, in August 2011, Japan Team Goalie Kawashima Eiji, then a member of club Lierse in the Belgian League, was jeered at fans during a game where they said “Kawashima, Fukushima!” in reference to the nuclear accident.  This led to Kawashima protesting to the head referee and interrupting the game.

The soccer world is thick with (habikoru) problems of racial discrimination, FIFA president Sepp Blatter (76) has is considering deducting winning points from any team which engages in racial discrimination.

TRANSLATION ENDS.  ORIGINAL FOLLOWS

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

日本人FW、激しい人種差別を理由に退団
産経スポーツ 2013.1.31
http://www.sanspo.com/soccer/news/20130131/int13013119100002-n1.html, courtesy of HS

サッカーのスロバキアリーグ、MSKリマフスカ・ソバタ所属の日本人FW中村祐輝(25)は30日、自身のブログで「人種差別的なことを受けて生活できなくなり帰国しました」と綴り、チームを退団したことを明かした。

ブログによると、中村は9月にすでに帰国しており、サポーターから人種差別の標的にされ、中には彼らに加勢するチームメートがいたことも明かした。「試合前、後にはサポーターから鬼の形相で自分の名前だけ叫ばれて、中指を立てられ…チームメイトは誰も助けてくれない。そこに加担するかのような選手もいました」と克明に記している。

さらに「チームに脅迫みたいなものが来てしまい責任を持てない」とクラブから説明があったことも語っている。

中村は国士舘大学卒業後にルーマニアのクラブでプレー。12年にチェコリーグ、ビクトリア・ジジュコフに移籍し、同8月からリマフスカ・ソバタにレンタル移籍していた。

日本選手に対する人種差別をめぐっては11年8月、当時ベルギーリーグ、リールス所属だった日本代表GK川島永嗣(29)=現スタンダール・リエージュ=が、ゲルミナル・ベールショット戦で敵サポーターから福島での原発事故を連想させる「カワシマ、フクシマ!」の野次を浴び、川島自ら主審に抗議して試合を一時中断させる騒動があった。

サッカー界では人種差別問題がはびこっており、国際サッカー連盟のゼップ・ブラッター会長(76)は対策の一環として、差別行為があったチームの勝ち点を剥奪するなどの処分を検討している。
ENDS

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

Japanese soccer player in overseas league confesses that “racial discrimination” made him “unable to live there anymore”

RBB Today/Livedoor Sports, February 1, 2013 (translation by Arudou Debito; corrections welcome)

Forward Nakamura Yuuki (25), of second-tier Slovak football club MSK Rimavska Sobota, blogged that he had been subject to racially discriminatory treatment and could no longer carry on living there.

On January 30, in a blog entry entitled “The truth is…”, he wrote “This time I wanted to return to Japan sooner than usual.  So by the end of September I was back,” reporting that he had already come home.  “It’s a shame, but because I received racial discrimination at MSK I couldn’t live there anymore and so came home,” clarifying why he came home earlier than usual.

The treatment that Nakamura called “racial discrimination” was, as reported, “There were many things that made me think ‘Would such a thing happen in this day and age?’  Before and after games, soccer fans would say my name with an angry demonic look in their eyes (oni no gyousou de), give me the finger… and none of my teammates would help me.  It also seemed like some of the players would have a hand in it too.”  Nakamura also added that “things that looked like threats” also happened to the team.  But since the team wouldn’t take responsibility (for Nakamura’s safety), it looks like he made the decision to leave.

On Nakamura’s blog in August before he repatriated, Nakamura reported about recent play and living conditions, “Honestly, I’m tired.  I’m the only gaijin [sic] on this team and there are lots of communication problems;” “Well, it doesn’t matter where you go in this world, there’ll always be problems, right?’  Problems and adverse conditions.  It’s times like those when you really have to think about how to think about them,” showing the difficulties he was having with playing for overseas teams.  On his most recent blog entry, when he revealed how severe the bashing he was getting overseas, he said, “I think few other sportsperson have had this kind of experience,” concluding his blog entry with a positive feeling.

[Last paragraph of the article details his former Japanside career as a soccer player.]

TRANSLATION ENDS.  ORIGINAL ARTICLE FOLLOWS

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

海外リーグ所属の日本人サッカー選手、現地での“人種差別”を告白……「生活できなくなった」

RBB TODAY 2013年01月30日13時23分
http://news.livedoor.com/article/detail/7363415/, courtesy of AS

スロバキア2部リーグのMSKリマフスカ・ソバタに所属していた日本人サッカー選手の中村祐輝選手が、現地で人種差別を受けて生活できなくなったとして、帰国したことを自身のブログで明かしている。

30日に「実は。。。」とのタイトルで更新した公式ブログで、「今回はいつもより早く日本に帰ってきていたんですよね。そう、9月のあたまには日本にいました」と、すでに帰国していたことを報告。「残念ながら、所属していたMSKリマフスカ・ソバタで人種差別的なことを受けて生活できなくなり帰国しました」と、通常よりも早い時期に帰国した理由を明かした。

現地で受けたという“人種差別”について中村選手は、「この時代にそんなことするか?って思うことがたくさんありました。試合前、後にはサポーターから鬼の形相で自分の名前だけ叫ばれて、中指を立てられ。。。チームメイトは誰も助けてくれない。そこに加担するかのような選手もいました。。」と告白。さらに所属チーム宛てに「脅迫みたいなもの」が寄せられる事態になっていたという。チームも「(身の安全に)責任を持てないから」として、帰国するに至ったのだそうだ。

中村選手は帰国前の昨年8月のブログでも、現地でのプレーや近況について報告するとともに、「正直かなり疲れました!外人は自分1人だけなんでコミニュケーションの問題とか色々と」「まあどの世界でもどこでも何かしらの問題はありますよね? 問題であったり逆境であったり。そんな時にどう思えるかって凄く大切だと思います」と、海外チームでプレーする苦労をつづっていた。今回のブログで、現地で猛烈なバッシングを受けていたことを明かしたが、「こんな経験をした選手もなかなかいないんじゃないでしょうか?」と、前向きな気持ちをつづってブログを結んでいる。

中村選手は、清水エスパルスのジュニアユースから静岡県立藤枝東高等学校を経て、国士舘大学卒業後にルーマニア2部リーグのCFRクライオバに入団。2012年にはチェコ・ガンブリヌス・リーガのFKヴィクトリア・ジジュコフに移籍してプレーしていたが、同年7月にMSKリマフスカ・ソバタへレンタル移籍していた。

ENDS

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

As Submitter AS notes:  Reading through the article and the blog quoted in the article, I can’t find anything that clearly shows racial discrimination.  People giving him the finger?  With no context, that could mean anything from racial discrimination to thinking he’s a useless player.

As Submitter HS notes: I find it very interesting how low the bar is for Japanese to scream “racism” overseas. Someone yells “Kawashima Fukushima” during a soccer game and Kawashima stops the game to protest?? And the Japanese media consider this taunt to be “racism”?? Surely the jeer is not appropriate but racism???

Try looking for an apartment – a place to live! – and being told “No!” simply because you are not Japanese. THAT’S racism. But why do I get the feeling that the Japanese media would make excuses, justify, and attempt to convince me that this is not racism but just a big misunderstanding on MY PART?

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: I just find it interesting the difference in treatment in the media and public argument.  Nakamura essentially has a nervous breakdown due to the taunts, and then both the Japanese and overseas media report it as racial discrimination, put it in a larger context, and don’t question Nakamura’s claims.  Yet when we get the same kind of jeering in Japan of NJ (Shimizu S-Pulse’s Coach Ghotbi being accused in 2011 by supporters in a banner of being connected to Iranian nuclear weapons; or official-level jeers:  Japan’s Ekiden running leagues justifying extra hurdles for NJ athletes by claiming that sports are only interesting for Japanese fans if Japanese win them; or claims by Japan’s rugby union not winning because they have “too many foreign players” (including naturalized Japanese); and how about Tokyo Governor Ishihara’s 2012 remarks about NJ judo Olympians being “beasts” spoiling “Japan’s sport”?), nobody calls it “racial discrimination” in the Japanese press (if the foreign press pay any attention to it at all).  Racial discrimination only seems to happen overseas.

Where is FIFA or any other international sports league to decry racism when this sort of thing happens in Japan?  Buried in cultural relativism.  You can see that even more strongly in the comments to the Japan Today article cited above, which are overwhelmingly sympathetic to Nakamura.  I don’t doubt that Nakamura had readjustment problems and decided not to stay because he wasn’t comfortable overseas.  But imagine the reaction if a NJ player in the J-League were to quit, justifying it by saying “fans gave me an angry look” or “people gave me the finger”.  He’d be told by commenters to grow a pair, and would have bloggers both in English and Japanese questioning not only the veracity of his claims (dollars to donuts they would dismiss his claim of “racial discrimination” as cultural misunderstandings or insensitivity) but also his mental stability.

That’s not happening in Nakamura’s case.  Now why?  Are we that programmed to holding Japan to a different standard?  Arudou Debito

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

Nakamura’s blog, cited in the articles above:

第1節?4節とカップ戦。

http://ameblo.jp/yuki-nakamura64/entry-11326750228.html

2012-08-12 18:27:20

7月28日にスロバキアのリーグが開幕して、2週間でカップ戦含め5試合戦いました。

結果は2勝1分2敗。。。

良いとも悪いとも言えず。

個人としては5試合ほぼフルで出ましたが、まだゴールがありません。

上手くいかない時はこんなものなので、とにかくポジティブに準備していくしかないです!

2部になると前泊なんてなかなかなくて、片道3時間バスに乗って試合してまた帰るというのが普通です。

正直かなり疲れました!外人は自分1人だけなんでコミニュケーションの問題とか色々と。

まあ試合に出れていることはいいことなんで、うれしい悩みでもあります。

しっかり疲れをとって来週の土曜日に臨みたいです!

それではまた!

ENDS

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

UPDATE FEB 2, 2013:

Debito here. Let me make a clarification to my post, since some people (off list) aren’t getting it:

Here’s what I am and am not saying:

  • I am NOT saying that Nakamura has no standing to have a complaint about the way he was felt he was treated.
  • I am NOT saying that Nakamura should have stayed on if he felt that way.
  • I am NOT saying that because racial discrimination (RD) also exists in Japan that Nakamura has no standing to claim RD in Europe.
  • I AM saying that the standards for what is called RD in Europe and in Japan seem to be different.
  • I AM saying that it is ironic that unequal treatment towards NJ sportspeople in Japan is not similarly decried as RD.
  • I AM saying that if international sports authorities are willing to acknowledge Nakamura’s treatment in European sports leagues as RD, those same international sports authorities (not to mention pundits and media commentators) should also have something similarly critical to say about the way NJ sportspeople are treated in Japan as well.

Thus, the irony I am pointing out is not that Nakamura claimed RD. The irony is that Japan’s unequal treatment of people by race/nationality/national origin is not held to the same standard as Europe’s unequal treatment of people by race/nationality/national origin.

For Nakamura, the threshold (based upon the standards of proof that he offered) was much lower than what people claim (and find their claims discounted for “cultural reasons”). Again, if any NJ quit his Japanese team due to getting the “stink eye” and “the finger” from the stands, nobody would take him or her at all seriously. It’s sweet that people (both European and Japanese) did in Nakamura’s case. But let’s universalize the thresholds and standards, shall we?

Capisce? Debito

Tokyo Gov Ishihara at it again, calls NJ judo Olympians “beasts” spoiling Japan’s sport

Books etc. by ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
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
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  The Sanitizer-General I referred to in my last Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column is at it again:

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

石原都知事「西洋人の柔道はけだもののけんか」
(読売新聞 2012年8月4日06時03分 スポーツ報知)courtesy of MS
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/topics/news/20120803-OHT1T00324.htm

東京都の石原慎太郎知事(79)は3日の定例会見で、ロンドン五輪で柔道勢の苦戦が続いていることについて「西洋人の柔道ってのは、けだもののけんかみたい。(国際化され)柔道の醍醐(だいご)味ってどっかに行っちゃったね」と話した。「ブラジルでは、のり巻きにチョコレート入れて食うってんだけど、これはすしとは言わない。柔道もそうなっちゃった」と述べた。

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

ENDS

Translation (by Debito):

Yomiuri:  Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro (79) said at his regular press conference on August 3, regarding the difficulties the Japanese judo team is having at the London Olympics, “Watching Westerners do judo is like watching beasts fight.  An internationalized judo has lost its exquisite charm.”  He added, “In Brazil, it’s said that they eat chocolate in their norimaki, but I wouldn’t call that ‘sushi’.  It’s a shame that judo has also gone the same way.”

That’s the entire article.  How sporting of him.  These are the type of people who, for example, seek to keep NJ out of Sumo by limiting stable to one “foreign wrestler”, and they include naturalized citizens as “foreign” as well (unlawful under the Nationality Law; still waiting for the lawsuit).  Judo will be the “Japanese sport that got away” since they “internationalized” it, I guess; but that’s why it’s an Olympic event and Sumo, run by racists (and sexists), will never be.

Anyway, for the record.  This will be my penultimate post before vacationing for the summer.  Arudou Debito

Debito.org Dejima Award to Japan Rugby Football Union, blaming J losses on “too many foreign players”, including naturalized former NJ

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

UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  Allow me to present a very rare and coveted award (this is only the fifth one in Debito.org’s history) that Debito.org only gives out to egregious racists and offenders of the sensibilities.  To people who are basically beyond any sort of appeal to logic or reason regarding treating other humans as equal and dignified human beings:  A Dejima Award.  And once again (this is the third time) it goes to that ever-encouraged admixture of bastion nationalism and Team-Japan-ism:  A Japanese sports league.  One that blames Japan’s apparently poor showing in rugby on the foreigners (apparently even those “foreigners” who are naturalized Japanese citizens). Read the article, then I’ll comment further:

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

RUGBY UNION
Kirwan under fire for using too many foreign-born players
SPORTS OCT. 30, 2011, Courtesy of Yokohama John
http://www.japantoday.com/category/sports/view/kirwan-under-fire-for-using-too-many-foreign-born-players

TOKYO — All Blacks legend John Kirwan, due to quit as Japan coach after the Brave Blossoms’ disappointment at the rugby World Cup, came under fire Saturday for his use of foreign-born players.

The criticism came at a board meeting of the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) which reviewed the World Cup in New Zealand, the union’s chairman Tatsuzo Yabe said.

Japan finished bottom of Pool A with three defeats—by eventual World Cup winners New Zealand, runners-up France and Tonga—and a draw with Canada.

“We talked about how our scrum went or how our breakdown went. We also talked about our mental side,” Yabe said. “Some argued that we had too many foreigners.”

Kirwan picked a record 10 foreign-born players, half of whom have obtained Japanese nationality, for his World Cup squad. The previous highest was seven, also selected by Kirwan for the 2007 World Cup in France.

He used seven of them in the starting line-up against Canada in an effort to break Japan’s World Cup winless streak, which dates back to their 52-8 victory over Zimbabwe 20 years ago. In 2007, Japan also drew with Canada.

Kirwan has insisted Japan must use foreigners to improve their results before 2019 when they host the World Cup.

“Rugby is a world sport, we accept everyone. It’s not political,” he said before the New Zealand tournament.

Earlier this month, the 46-year-old said he would not seek a new contract with Japan when his current five-year deal expires in December.

Former Australia coach Eddie Jones, who led the Wallabies to the 2003 World Cup final, which they lost to England, has been mentioned by some JRFU executives as a candidate to replace Kirwan, according to media reports.

Jones now coaches Japan Top-14 side Suntory Sungoliath.

Yabe said no specific name was named at the board meeting as Kirwan’s successor but they had set up a committee to choose the new coach and staff, hopefully by the end of this year.

“We noted the good things JK (Kirwan) has done. But the results are what matter,” he said. “JK said he would keep watching Japanese rugby beyond December. We will appreciate that.”

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

COMMENT: One comment from the Japan Today site that resonated with me in its succinct truthiness: “They needed a reason that they didn’t reach their highly unlikely expectations for the World Cup. Stating that their sights were set too high wouldn’t work, and neither would saying they just weren’t good enough. But blaming it about people who are not “pure” Japanese in the team… there’s an excuse all the people high up in the hierarchies can agree with.”

Just so. But in any case, savor just how stoneheaded this is. Like a fine wine, the flavor of this incident of clear and public racist scapegoating keeps unfolding on the tongue and in the mind, leading to a lingering despair for the future social dynamic of Japanese society.  No doubt for many people this will become SITYS cannon fodder for justifying a negative disposition towards Japan, and an understanding why it’s in decline. Not for me. I just give the Japan Rugby Football Union a golden razzie in the form of The Debito.org Dejima Award. And create a permanent record for others to set their mental compasses by. Arudou Debito

Tokyo Gov Ishihara bids for 2020 Olympics through earthquake sympathy vote; also calls for Japan to have nukes, military conscription, and military-led government

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
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog. Okay, Tokyo, you asked for this when you revoted in this creep for a fourth term last April. Now not only is racist xenophobe and Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro using the Tohoku Earthquake (which he originally called “divine retribution for Japan’s egoism“) as sympathy fodder for a renewed Olympic bid, but also, according to ANN News, he is calling for Japan to have nuclear weapons (in order to be taken seriously on the world stage, comparing it to a Mah-Jong game), military conscription, and even a military government!

Well, in my view this was only a matter of time, especially since Ishihara, if he’s not just flat-out senile, is of a generation (the Showa Hitoketa) which venerates Japan’s military past without actually serving in the military and experiencing the horrors of the Pacific War. He’s basically a warrior of words. And, again, the Tokyo electorate keeps putting him in a place where he can use those words for great effect and audience.  Including advocating siphoning off funds from disaster reconstruction for the purpose of circus.  Arudou Debito

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

First the YouTube video from ANN News (June 20, 2011, 40 seconds):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcQuZtqyrfk&feature=player_embedded

http://youtu.be/QcQuZtqyrfk

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

Let Olympic torch be lit as proof of recovery
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 20, 2011)
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/editorial/T110619002011.htm

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has expressed his intention to bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

When announcing his plan, Ishihara said he would like the envisioned Tokyo Olympiad to be held to show the world that Japan has recovered from the ravages of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, which would be nine years in the past in 2020.

During a session of the metropolitan assembly Friday, Ishihara stressed the importance of Tokyo hosting the 2020 Games, saying the Olympiad “would be the best return for the friendship and encouragement extended to us from around the world” in the wake of the disaster.

If Tokyo wins the bid, the Games would be certain to serve as a key catalyst for invigorating the nation to rebuild from the disaster.

The venue of the 2020 Olympics is scheduled to be decided at a general assembly of the International Olympic Committee in 2013. We want to invigorate efforts for Tokyo to host the Games, so the flame of the Olympic torch will again be lit in this nation’s capital.

===

Clear-cut message key

Tokyo’s bid for the Games will follow its unsuccessful attempt to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo’s rival in that race, won by obtaining wide-ranging support for its call to have the Olympics held for the first time in South America.

The primary lesson from Tokyo’s failure in its bid for the 2016 Olympics is that the city lacked a clear-cut message about why it wanted to host the Games.

The message that Tokyo wants to host the 2020 Games as proof of Japan’s recovery from the catastrophic earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis–just as the 1964 Tokyo Olympics were symbolic of the nation’s rebuilding from the ashes of World War II–will likely be able to obtain empathy from many countries.

To spur public opinion in favor of hosting the 2020 Olympics–unlike the lukewarm public support for the 2016 bid–it is important to clearly explain to the public the significance and advantages of hosting the Games.

The Tokyo metropolitan government still has a reserve fund of 400 billion yen accumulated in preparation for the 2016 Olympics. Tokyo has superb infrastructure, including high-performance transportation networks and accommodation facilities. In addition, its public order and security are known worldwide.

Such elements will be major selling points in efforts to win the Olympic bid.

Also, there reportedly are plans to hold some Olympic events in disaster-hit areas. We strongly hope this will be realized.

===

Nation must be united

Rome has already declared its candidacy for the 2020 Olympics. To win the race to host the Games, it is indispensable for the entire nation to unite behind the bid.

Ishihara has said, “It is imperative to have public opinion surge in favor of hosting the Games by rallying the entire strength of the country, the strength of all spheres, including the government, the sports world and business communities.”

Incidentally, the Sports Promotion Basic Law, which stipulates encouragement of sports policies as one of Japan’s national strategies, was enacted by the Diet on Friday. The new law says the government should “take special measures” to ensure sources of revenue and other needs for such purposes as hosting and holding the Olympics and other international sports events.

We realize the government must currently place top priority on securing funds to finance restoration and reconstruction projects from the March 11 disaster. But sooner or later the government will need to clarify its stance toward hosting the Olympics in this country.

The government should proactively study the feasibility of hosting the 2020 Games in tandem with such bodies as the Tokyo metropolitan government and Japanese Olympic Committee.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 19, 2011)

ENDS

Kyodo: Soccer S-Pulse coach Ghotbi wants to meet banned fans over racial banner

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
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  We have some proactive treatment against discrimination towards a NJ coach in Japan’s soccer leagues.  Witness the reaction of other fans towards a nasty fan banner singling him out by his nationality, attributing to him behavior that is unrelated and unwarranted:  criticism and the taking of responsibility.  Good.  Regardless of whether one might argue this actually constitutes “racism” or not, it is still indicative of the zero tolerance of discrimination that should be (and is, under FIFA) a hallmark of world sport leagues worldwide, including Japan’s.

I am, however, of two minds about manager Ghotbi meeting the nasty fans to somehow enlighten them.  It on one hand seems a good PR strategy — engage and convince the nasties that their targets are humans with feelings after all.  On the other hand, it may encourage other trolls who want attention (not to mention get a meeting with a famous NJ — just insult them and you get an audience) to do the same thing — and enough of these banners and people may start claiming “cultural misunderstandings” as justification (you get that with nasty slogans against NJ in Japanese baseball, e.g., the racist banners against Warren Cromartie).  In my experience it doesn’t always work to talk to discriminators (sometimes their names exposed to social opprobrium is enough), but sometimes it does, and at least there is social opprobrium and media attention this time.  Let’s keep an eye on this and see how it flies.  Hopefully buds get nipped.  Arudou Debito

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

SOCCER
S-Pulse coach wants to meet banned fans over racial banner
Kyodo News/Japan Today Tuesday 07th June 2011, Courtesy of Dave Spector
http://www.japantoday.com/category/sports/view/s-pulse-coach-wants-to-meet-banned-fans-over-racial-banner

TOKYO — Shimizu S-Pulse manager Afshin Ghotbi has turned the other cheek toward two Jubilo fans who have been indefinitely banished from Iwata games for hoisting a racially motivated banner in the Shizuoka derby two weeks ago, wanting to meet them to try to raise international awareness throughout the J-League.

The two teenage Jubilo supporters were outlawed by their club on Monday after writing a banner that read, ‘‘Ghotbi, stop making nuclear weapons,’’ in the May 28 J-League contest between Shimizu and Iwata at Outsourcing Stadium. The match ended in a 0-0 draw.

Ghotbi, the ex-Iran national coach who is in his first season in Japan at Shimizu, is Iranian-American.

The banner has caught fire not only for its racist undertones, but because of its insensitivity toward the ongoing nuclear power plant crisis in Fukushima Prefecture.

Yet rather than further fry the two fans amid arguably the nastiest controversy between the Shizuoka-based clubs, the former assistant to Guus Hiddink on the South Korean national team wants a clear-the-air meeting with the pair to stamp out racism in the J-League for good.

‘‘I actually suggested a meeting between the two kids, to just sit down and maybe I can inform them that what they did is wrong,’’ Ghotbi told Kyodo News by phone on Monday. ‘‘Maybe that could be a great gesture. And also because they are young, it would give them an opportunity to do some right.

‘‘Iwata could ask them to do some service work on behalf of the J-League and Iwata for the community and charity, and earn them the right to come back to the stadium.

‘‘Nobody has said anything to me, but I would love for that to happen. I think by meeting them, it would be a great gesture that when mistakes are made, you have a chance to correct it, a chance to grow.

‘‘Maybe I can show them that I’m not so different than they are.’‘

The next Shizuoka derby is on Sept. 10 at Ecopa Stadium.

Ghotbi hopes he can face the two Jubilo supporters by then so that the game won’t be one of tension, but one of a carnival atmosphere—as a derby match ought to be in his opinion.

‘‘I know the S-Pulse fans are infuriated and very upset about it and before the next derby, I want to create a situation where our fans and their fans can become closer, make the derby more of a festival and celebration for the community,’’ he said.

For all his positive spin, nevertheless, the 47-year-old Ghotbi did say that he never expected to encounter a case of racism in the J-League, which he has raved about as it being the best championship in Asia.

‘‘I personally feel sad, primarily because I see the world as one,’’ said Ghotbi, who took Iran to the quarterfinals at the Asian Cup in January that was won by Alberto Zaccheroni’s Japan. ‘‘I see all human beings the same, not divided by past or nationality. When I see behavior like that it only makes me sadder.

‘‘I also believe that particular sign by two young people is by no stretch of the imagination the vision or the behavior in Japan. It doesn’t reflect at all the way the Japanese people are and feel.

‘‘So it’s an isolated incident by two young emotional people who are misinformed, uneducated. I hope the J-League officials use this opportunity to help the J-League become even more global.’’

ENDS

Japan Times JBC/ZG Column Jan 4, 2010: “Arudou’s Alien Almanac 2000-2010” (Director’s Cut)

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
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

THE TOP TENS FOR 2010 AND THE DECADE
ZEIT GIST 54 / JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 35 FOR THE JAPAN TIMES

justbecauseicon.jpg

The Japan Times, Tuesday, January 4, 2011
DRAFT NINE, VERSION AS SUBMITTED TO EDITOR (Director’s Cut, including text cut out of published article)
WORD COUNT FOR DECADE COLUMN #5-#2: 988 WORDS
WORD COUNT FOR 2010 COLUMN #5-#2: 820 WORDS

Download Top Ten for 2010 at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110104ad.html
Download Top Ten for 2000-2010 at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2011/01/04/general/arudous-alien-almanac-2000-2010/
Download entire newsprint page as PDF with excellent Chris Mackenzie illustrations (recommended) at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/images/community/0104p13.PDF

It’s that time again, when the JUST BE CAUSE column ranks the notable events of last year that affected Non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan. This time it’s a double feature, also ranking the top events of the past decade.

A TOP TEN FOR THE DECADE 2000-2010

5) THE OTARU ONSENS CASE (1999-2005)

This lawsuit followed the landmark Ana Bortz case of 1999, where a Brazilian plaintiff sued and won against a jewelry store in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, that denied her entry for looking foreign. Since Japan has no national law against racial discrimination, the Bortz case found that United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination (CERD), which Japan signed in 1995, has the force of law instead. The Otaru case (Just Be Cause, Jun. 3, 2008) (in which, full disclosure, your correspondent was one plaintiff) attempted to apply penalties not only to an exclusionary bathhouse in Otaru, Hokkaido, but also to the Otaru city government for negligence. Results: Sapporo’s district and high courts both ruled the bathhouse must pay damages to multiple excluded patrons. The city government, however, was exonerated.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Although our government has repeatedly said to the U.N. that “racial discrimination” does not exist in Japan (“discrimination against foreigners” exists, but bureaucrats insist this is not covered by the CERD (JBC, Jun. 2, 2009)), the Otaru case proved it does, establishing a cornerstone for any counterargument. However, the Supreme Court in 2005 ruled the Otaru case was “not a constitutional issue,” thereby exposing the judiciary’s unwillingness to penalize discrimination expressly forbidden by Japan’s Constitution. Regardless, the case built on the Bortz precedent, setting standards for NJ seeking court redress for discrimination (providing you don’t try to sue the government). It also helped stem a tide of “Japanese Only” signs spreading nationwide, put up by people who felt justified by events like:

4) ISHIHARA’S SANGOKUJIN RANT (April 9, 2000)

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara set the tone this decade with a calamitous diatribe to the Nerima Ground Self Defense Forces (ZG, Dec. 18, 2007), claiming that NJ (including “sangokujin,” a derogatory term for former citizens of the Japanese Empire) were in Japan “repeatedly committing heinous crimes.” Ishihara called on the SDF to round foreigners up during natural disasters in case they rioted (something, incidentally, that has never happened).

WHY THIS MATTERS: A leader of a world city pinned a putative crime wave on NJ (even though most criminal activity in Japan, both numerically and proportionately, has been homegrown (ZG, Feb. 20, 2007)) and even offered discretionary policing power to the military, yet he has kept his office to this day. This speech made it undisputedly clear that Ishihara’s governorship would be a bully pulpit, and Tokyo would be his turf to campaign against crime — meaning against foreigners. This event emboldened other Japanese politicians to vilify NJ for votes, and influenced government policy at the highest levels with the mantra “heinous crimes by bad foreigners.” Case in point:

3) THE SECOND KOIZUMI CABINET (2003-2005)

Once re-elected to his second term, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi got right down to business targeting NJ. No fewer than three Cabinet members in their opening policy statements mentioned foreign crime, one stressing that his goal was “making Japan the world’s safest country again” — meaning, again, safe from foreigners (ZG, Oct. 7, 2003).

WHY THIS MATTERS: Despite being one of Japan’s most acclaimed prime ministers, Koizumi’s record toward NJ residents was dismal. Policies promulgated “for the recovery of public safety” explicitly increased the peace for kokumin (Japanese nationals) at the expense of NJ residents. In 2005, the “Action Plan for Pre-Empting Terrorism” (ZG, May 24, 2005) portrayed tero as an international phenomenon (ignoring homegrown examples), officially upgrading NJ from mere criminals to terrorists. Of course, the biggest beneficiaries of this bunker mentality were the police, who found their powers enhanced thusly:

2) THE POLICE CRACKDOWNS ON NJ (1999- present)

After May 1999, when their “Policy Committee Against Internationalization” (sic) was launched, the National Police Agency found ample funding for policies targeting NJ expressly as criminals, terrorists and “carriers of infectious diseases.” From NPA posters depicting NJ as illegal laborers, members of international criminal organizations and violent, heinous crooks, campaigns soon escalated to ID checks for cycling while foreign (ZG, Jun. 20, 2002), public “snitch sites” (where even today anyone can anonymously rat on any NJ for alleged visa violations (ZG, Mar. 30, 2004)), increased racial profiling on the street and on public transportation, security cameras in “hotbeds of foreign crime” and unscientific “foreigner indexes” applied to forensic crime scene evidence (ZG, Jan. 13, 2004).

Not only were crackdowns on visa overstayers (i.e., on crimes Japanese cannot by definition commit) officially linked to rises in overall crime, but also mandates reserved for the Immigration Bureau were privatized: Hotels were told by police to ignore the actual letter of the law (which required only tourists be checked) and review every NJ’s ID at check-in (ZG, Mar. 8, 2005). Employers were required to check their NJ employees’ visa status and declare their wages to government agencies (ZG, Nov. 13, 2007). SDF members with foreign spouses were “removed from sensitive posts” (ZG, Aug. 28, 2007). Muslims and their friends automatically became al-Qaida suspects, spied on and infiltrated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police (ZG, Nov. 9).

There were also orgiastic spending frenzies in the name of international security, e.g., World Cup 2002 and the 2008 Toyako G-8 Summit (JBC, Jul. 1, 2008). Meanwhile, NJ fingerprinting, abolished by the government in 1999 as a “violation of human rights,” was reinstated with a vengeance at the border in 2007. Ultimately, however, the NPA found itself falsifying its data to keep its budgets justified — claiming increases even when NJ crime and overstaying went down (ZG, Feb. 20, 2007). Hence, power based upon fear of the foreigner had become an addiction for officialdom, and few Japanese were making a fuss because they thought it didn’t affect them. They were wrong.

WHY THIS MATTERS: The NPA already has strong powers of search, seizure, interrogation and incarceration granted them by established practice. However, denying human rights to a segment of the population has a habit of then affecting everyone else (ZG, Jul. 8, 2008). Japanese too are now being stopped for bicycle ID checks and bag searches under the same justifications proffered to NJ. Police security cameras — once limited to Tokyo “foreigner zones” suchas Kabukicho, Ikebukuro and Roppongi — are proliferating nationwide. Policing powers are growing stronger because human rights protections have been undermined by precedents set by anti-foreigner policies. Next up: Laws preventing NJ from owning certain kinds of properties for “security reasons,” further tracking of international money transfers, and IC-chipped “gaijin cards” readable from a distance (ZG, May 19, 2009).

1) THE DROP IN THE REGISTERED NJ POPULATION IN 2009

For the first time in 48 years, the number of foreigners living in Japan went down. This could be a temporary blip due to the Nikkei repatriation bribe of 2009-2010 (ZG, Apr. 7, 2009), when the government offered goodbye money only to foreigners with Japanese blood. Since 1990, more than a million Brazilians and Peruvians of Japanese ancestry have come here on special visas to help keep Japan’s industries humming cheaply. Now tens of thousands are pocketing the bribe and going back, giving up their pensions and becoming somebody else’s unemployment statistic.

WHY THIS MATTERS: NJ numbers will eventually rise again, but the fact that they are going down for the first time in generations is disastrous. For this doesn’t just affect NJ – it affects everyone in Japan. A decade ago, both the U.N. and Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi stated that Japan needs 600,000 NJ a year net influx just to maintain its taxpayer base and current standard of living. Yet a decade later, things are going in exactly the opposite way.

It should be no surprise: Japan has become markedly unfriendly these past ten years. Rampant and unbalanced NJ-bashing have shifted Japanese society’s image of foreigner from “misunderstood guest and outsider” to “social bane and criminal.” Why would anyone want to move here and make a life under these conditions?

Despite this, everyone knows that public debt is rising while the Japanese population is aging and dropping. Japan’s very economic vitality depends on demographics. Yet the only thing that can save Japan – a clear and fair policy towards immigration – is taboo for discussion (JBC, Nov. 3, 2009). Even after two decades of economic doldrums, it is still unclear whether Japan has either the sense or the mettle to pull itself up from its nosedive.

The facts of life: NJ will ultimately come to Japan, even if it means that all they find is an elderly society hanging on by its fingernails, or just an empty island. Let’s hope Japan next decade comes to its senses, figuring out not only how to make life here more attractive for NJ, but also how to make foreigners into Japanese.

ENDS

Bubbling under for the decade: U.N. Rapporteur Doudou Diene’s 2005 and 2006 visits to Japan, where he called discrimination in Japan “deep and profound” (ZG, Jun. 27, 2006); Japan’s unsuccessful 2006 bid for a U.N. Security Council seat—the only leverage the U.N. has over Japan to follow international treaty; the demise of the racist “Gaijin Hanzai” magazine and its publisher thanks to NJ grassroots protests (ZG, Mar. 20, 2007); the “Hamamatsu Sengen” and other statements by local governments calling for nicer policies towards NJ (ZG, Jun. 3, 2008); the domination of NJ wrestlers in sumo; the withering of fundamental employers of NJ, including Japan’s export factories and the eikaiwa industry (ZG, Dec. 11, 2007).

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

A TOP TEN FOR 2010

5) RENHO BECOMES FIRST MULTIETHNIC CABINET MEMBER (June 8 )

Japanese politicians with international roots are few but not unprecedented. But Taiwanese-Japanese Diet member Renho’s ascension to the Cabinet as minister for administrative reforms has been historic. Requiring the bureaucrats to justify their budgets (famously asking last January, “Why must we aim to develop the world’s number one supercomputer? What’s wrong with being number two?”), she has been Japan’s most vocal policy reformer.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Few reformers are brave enough to withstand the national sport of politician-bashing, especially when exceptionally cruel criticism began targeting Renho’s ethnic background. Far-rightist Diet member Takeo Hiranuma questioned her very loyalty by saying, “She’s not originally Japanese.” (Just Be Cause, Feb. 2) Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara expanded the focus by claiming people in the ruling coalition had foreign backgrounds, therefore were selling Japan out as a “duty to their ancestors” (JBC, May 4). Fortunately, it did not matter. In last July’s elections, Renho garnered a record 1.7 million votes in her constituency, and retained her Cabinet post regardless of her beliefs, or roots.

4) P.M. KAN APOLOGIZES TO KOREA FOR 1910 ANNEXATION (August 10)

After all the bad blood between these strikingly similar societies, Japan’s motion to be nice to South Korea was remarkably easy. No exploitable technicalities about the apology being unofficial, or merely the statements of an individual leader (as was seen in Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama’s apologies for war misdeeds, or Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono’s “statement” about “comfort women” – itself a euphemism for war crimes) — just a prime minister using the opportunity of a centennial to formally apologize for Japan’s colonial rule of Korea, backed up by a good-faith return of war spoils.

WHY THIS MATTERS: At a time when crime, terrorism and other social ills in Japan are hastily pinned on the outside world, these honest and earnest reckonings with history are essential for Japan to move on from a fascist past and strengthen ties with the neighbors. Every country has events in its history to be sorry for. Continuous downplaying — if not outright denial by nationalistic elites — of Japan’s conduct within its former empire will not foster improved relations and economic integration. This applies especially as Asia gets richer and needs Japan less, as witnessed through:

3) TOURIST VISAS EASED FOR CHINA (July 1)

Despite a year of bashing Chinese, the government brought in planeloads of them to revitalize our retail economy. Aiming for 10 million visitors this year, Japan lowered visa thresholds for individual Chinese to the point where they came in record numbers, spending, according to the People’s Daily, 160,000 yen per person in August.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Wealthy Chinese gadding about while Japan faced decreasing salaries caused some bellyaching. Our media (displaying amnesia about Bubble Japan’s behavior) kvetched that Chinese were patronizing Chinese businesses in Japan and keeping the money in-house (Yomiuri, May 25), Chinese weren’t spending enough on tourist destinations (Asahi, Jun. 16), Chinese were buying out Japanese companies and creating “Chapan” (Nikkei Business, Jun. 21), or that Chinese were snapping up land and threatening Japan’s security (The Japan Times, Dec. 18). The tone changed this autumn, however, when regional tensions flared, so along with the jingoism we had Japanese politicians and boosters flying to China to smooth things over and keep the consumers coming.

Let’s face it: Japan was once bigger than all the other Asian economies combined. But that was then — 2010 was also the year China surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy. Japan can no longer ignore Asian investment. No nationalistic whining is going to change that. Next up: longer-duration visas for India.

2) NJ PR SUFFRAGE BILL GOES DOWN IN FLAMES (February 27)

The ruling coalition sponsored a bill last year granting suffrage in local elections to NJ with permanent residency (ZG, Feb. 23) — an uncharacteristically xenophilic move for Japan. True to form, however, nationalists came out of the rice paddies to deafen the public with scare tactics (e.g., Japan would be invaded by Chinese, who would migrate to sparsely-populated Japanese islands and vote to secede, etc.). They then linked NJ suffrage with other “fin-de-Japon” pet peeves, such as foreign crime, North Korean abductions of Japanese, dual nationality, separate surnames after marriage, and even sex education.

WHY THIS MATTERS: The campaign resonated. Months after PR suffrage was moribund, xenophobes were still getting city and prefectural governments to pass resolutions in opposition. Far-rightists used it as a political football in election campaigns to attract votes and portray the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) as inept.

They had a point: How could the DPJ sponsor such a controversial bill and not rally behind it as criticisms arose? Where were the potential supporters and spokespeople for the bill, such as naturalized Diet member Marutei Tsurunen? Why were the xenophobes basically the only voice heard during the debate, setting the agenda and talking points? This policy blunder will be a huge setback for future efforts to promote human rights for and integration of NJ residents.

Bubbling under for the year: Oita High Court rules that NJ have no automatic right to welfare benefits; international pressure builds on Japan to sign the Hague Convention on Child Abduction; Tokyo Metropolitan Police spy on Muslims and fumble their secret files to publishers; America’s geopolitical bullying of Japan over Okinawa’s Futenma military base undermines the Hatoyama administration (JBC, Jun. 1); Ibaraki Detention Center hunger strikers, and the Suraj Case of a person dying during deportation, raise questions about Immigration Bureau procedure and accountability.
ENDS

JT’s Philip Brasor analyzes J media claims of bias towards Ichiro’s and Hakuho’s sports records

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
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  Here’s a very interesting and nuanced article about differing treatment of sports figures in the media:  Ichiro in the US vs. Hakuho in Japan.  Excerpt follows.  Worth a read during the holidays.  Debito back in Sapporo

The Japan Times Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010
MEDIA MIX by Philip Brasor
Media racism: How unsportsmanlike

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20101003pb.html

Local favoritism is built into organized sports. At the macro level you have whole countries rooting for national teams at the Olympics or the World Cup. At the micro level you have fans cheering a hometown boy who plays for a team far away. By the same token, nationalistic fans denigrate opposing countries’ players in international tournaments, while athletes from outside a locality may not receive the same level of local enthusiasm as those who grew up there.

In its Sept. 30 issue, Shukan Shincho attempted to build a story on two recent events: Hakuho’s breaking of Chiyonofuji’s record for consecutive sumo victories, and Ichiro Suzuki’s milestone 3,500th hit as a professional baseball player. That these events occurred within 24 hours of each other was irresistible, and Shincho wanted to connect them in a way that was guaranteed to attract attention. The headline of the article was, “Ichiro’s and Hakuho’s racism problem.”

Both athletes are strangers in foreign lands; or, at least, they started that way. Ichiro has been an outfielder for the Seattle Mariners in the United States since he entered the Major Leagues in 2001 after nine years playing in Japan’s Pacific League, and he has consistently been one of the game’s best hitters in both countries. Hakuho was born and raised in Mongolia, and is now the sole yokozuna (grand champion) in what is an ancient and traditional Japanese sport. Shincho’s point is that because both are “foreigners,” they do not receive the same attention and respect from the media and the public in their respective countries as native athletes, despite the enormity of their achievements.

Shincho claims that Ichiro’s 3,500th hit, a landmark that very few players in the history of the major leagues have reached, was virtually ignored by the American press. The reason, according to the magazine, is that Ichiro compiled this record in two countries, and Americans don’t take Japanese baseball seriously. To support this theory, the reporter quotes Japanese sports writers and baseball players who make the case that Ichiro’s talent is superior to that of the vast majority of currently active American baseball players.

As proof that Americans don’t evaluate Japanese players equally, the opinion of retired major leaguer Pete Rose is cited…

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20101003pb.html

Yours is no disgrace, World Cup Japan Team. Otsukare. I hope the J media does not spin this as a loss.

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
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

I just wanted to say before retiring for the night that tonight’s Japan-Paraguay game for the Top Eight was excellent.  Japan played very well (and also quite fairly — I was rather unimpressed with how often Paraguay’s players went for people’s legs instead of the ball), and coming down to a 0-0 draw after two overtimes is testament to how well Japan played.  Penalty kicks (Para 5 Japan 3, with Japan going second so no chance to make it 5-4) are the luck of the draw, in my opinion, and it could have gone either way, the teams were so well matched.

Now I’m worried about how the Japanese media is going to digest this.  We already have Manager Okada apologizing for not having enough power to achieve his “Best Four” goal (but so what — the current team is streets ahead of any other World Cup team Japan has ever fielded; ergo coaching power aplenty).

I’m afraid we’re going to get the loss viewed through the Nihonjinron Lens of the high-pressure Japanese media, with excuses about some sort of innate Japanese superiority/inferiority (as I mentioned last time I blogged on this topic the other day), and how this loss is representative of something.

Look, it’s just a game.  This time a great series of games done by a great team that just lost out thanks to one ball getting through at the very end.

拡大解釈をよして下さい。これ以上我が国の選手にプレッシャーを掛けないで下さい。今回本当に良く出来たので、それでいい、4年後のW杯で頑張ろう、だけを促しましょう。

Again, well done Japan Team, well done Okada.  お疲れさまでした。Arudou Debito in Sapporo

GANBARE NIPPON! On to the World Cup Best Sixteen!

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
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog. It was certainly worth getting up at an ungodly hour this morning to watch the Japan vs. Denmark football match. Defying many people’s expectations (especially the domestic media’s), Japan has played very well in this World Cup, and earned their keep today by beating Denmark (according to FIFA, the 36th ranked, with Japan the 45th) soundly and clearly, 3-1.  Omedetou!!

Now the Japan team is advancing to the quarterfinals Best Sixteen.  I had strong doubts about having Okada on as coach again (given his previous dismal performance, I thought the powers that be hired him essentially because he’s Japanese).  Looks like I was wrong — he does have more than a pretty face.  Good team, good football, good games so far.  Again, well done.  Ganbare!!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UPDATE:  Thought of this while cycling to work this morning:  To put a Debito.org angle on this issue, let’s keep an eye out on how the Japanese media begins to spin this victory.  I’ve found that if a team representing Japan loses, the media looks for an issue of unfairness or unequalness (such as the alleged lack of good food at the Turin (a city hosting a world cuisine!) Olympics affecting Japanese performance).  But if there is a win, the media searches for “Japanese qualities” that gave the J athlete an advantage (winning J swimmers keep having the “yamato damashii” (Japanese Spirit) attributed to them).  I already saw TV commentary this morning referring to the special “cooperativeness” of Japan’s soccer team.  But of course, if they had lost, no doubt we’d hear about the innately small and weaker Japanese bodies going up against the formidable Danish and Dutch tank-built bodies, etc.  It’s never a neutral, “may the best man win on a level playing field”, is it?  There are plenty of examples of how sports rules under Japanese control are tailored to that bias (here, here, and here).  It’s not terribly “sporting”.

Ears open for how this gets spun, everyone?  Thanks.  D

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column March 2, 2010 on Racist Sumo Kyoukai

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
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free
justbecauseicon.jpg

JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 25

Sumo body deserves mawashi wedgie for racist wrestler ruling
The Japan Times: Tuesday, March 2, 2010, version with links to sources

By DEBITO ARUDOU

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100302ad.html

I’ve noticed how highly Japan regards sports. We love investing taxes in games and facilities, hosting international events and Olympics. Sports are even part of a government ministry, the one in charge of Japan’s science, education and culture.

There is a problem, however, with the concept of sportsmanship here. Sports in Japan only seem to be kosher if Japanese win.

For example, national sports festivals (kokutai) have refused noncitizen high school students, erroneously claiming these events are qualifiers for Japan’s Olympic athletes (Zeit Gist, Sept. 30, 2003).

http://www.debito.org/japantimes093003.html

High school ekiden runs similarly bar foreign students from starting relays, claiming that non-Japanese (NJ) have an unfair advantage. NJ creating too much of a lead at the beginning allegedly makes things “dull” for Japanese fans. (Recall that old myth about Japanese legs being too short to run fast? Tell that to marathon gold medalist and world record-holder Naoko “Q-chan” Takahashi.)

http://www.debito.org/?p=417

Even sumo, the national sport (kokugi), has faced charges of racism, most famously from former grappler Konishiki, whom The New York Times in 1992 reported as saying his promotion to the top rank of yokozuna was denied because he isn’t Japanese.

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/22/world/sumo-star-charges-racism-in-japan.html?pagewanted=1

But sumo has enjoyed plausible deniability, having had four foreign-born yokozuna (Akebono, Musashimaru, Asashoryu and Hakuho). After Asashoryu’s retirement, there remain 42 foreign-born rikishi in the top ranks. Ergo sumo is internationalizing, right?

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100216i1.html

Not any more. The Japan Sumo Association announced on Feb. 23 that it would limit sumo stables to one foreign wrestler each — a decrease from two per stable. Since there are only 52 stables, and only about 800 sumo wrestlers in total registered with the JSA, this funnels things down considerably.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6026

http://factsanddetails.com/japan.php?itemid=752&catid=21&subcatid=138

Worse, the JSA will now define “foreign” as “foreign-born” (gaikoku shusshin), meaning even naturalized Japanese citizens will be counted as “foreign.” This, according to the Yomiuri, closes a “loophole” (nukemichi).

http://www.debito.org/?p=6026#comment-191216

http://japantoday.com/category/sports/view/sa-to-change-rule-on-foreign-sumo-wrestlers

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/sumo/news/20100223-OYT1T01095.htm

Sorry folks, but this rule is unlawful under Japan’s Nationality Law, not to mention the Constitution. Neither allows distinctions between foreign-born and Japanese-born citizens. Under the law, a Japanese is a Japanese — otherwise, what is the point of naturalizing?

http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/information/tnl-01.html

So The New York Times was right after all: The JSA is racist. If you are born into a status that you can never escape, “Japaneseness” becomes not a matter legal status, but of birth. Of caste. Of race. Once a foreigner, always a foreigner.

Put another way, if I were to apply to become a sumo wrestler (I certainly am in their weight class), I would have to become a foreigner again, despite being a naturalized Japanese citizen for almost 10 years. Somebody deserves a huge mawashi wedgie.

JSA’s justification? One stable master expressed fears that sumo was being “overrun with foreign wrestlers.” Perhaps they’re afraid of being overrun by talented wrestlers who just happen to be foreign? That’s not supposed to be a concern when a sport has a level playing field.

OK then, how about unleveling the playing field overseas for sports that Japanese are good at? Limit, say, American Major League Baseball teams to one Japanese player — even if they take American citizenship? If you really want to get pernickety, you can say that Americans of Japanese extraction are also “Japanese,” kinda like two governments famously did for Japanese- Americans and Japanese-Canadians during World War II when deciding whom to send to internment camps. No doubt that would occasion outcries of racism by the Japanese media, the watchdogs for how Japanese are treated overseas (yet significantly less so regarding how NJ are treated in Japan).

But that wouldn’t be good for the sport. Talent in athletes spans borders. For example, baseball-reference.com notes (under the category of “frivolities”) that more than a quarter of all active baseball players in the U.S. (28.4 percent) were foreign-born in 2009.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/friv/placeofbirth.cgi?TYPE=active&from=2009&to=0&DIV=countries&submit=Run+Query

That’s a good thing. If you want to have a healthy sport, you get the best of the best competing in it. Everyone given a sporting chance, regardless of nationality or birth.

But hey, that’s not the concern of now-bona-fide certified racist institutions like the JSA. All they want is for Japanese to win.

Some might say the nativists have the right to decide who gets into their “club.” But that’s not how sportsmanship works. And it’s one reason why sumo will lose out to real international sports — like judo, for example, now an Olympic event. Sumo was denied that honor. Now we can see why: It’s run by bigots.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ss20070612mb.html

O Takanohana, superstar yokozuna recently elected to the JSA board with promises to reform this troubled organization, where art thou when we needed you most? How could you let this xenophobia come to pass? Or have you shown your true colors at last?

Somebody take the JSA to court. These racist ignoramuses killing this world-famous sport need to be taught a lesson — that Japanese citizenship is not an inconvenient “loophole.” It is the law, and they too are beholden to it.

Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month
ENDS

Dejima Award for racist Sumo Kyoukai: Decides to count naturalized Japanese as foreigners and limit stables to one “foreigner”

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
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  In one more step to define Japan’s slide into international irrelevance, the national sport (kokugi) has decided to turn not only exclusionary, but also undeniably racist.  The Japan Sumo Association announced this week that it will no longer count naturalized Japanese sumo wrestlers as “real Japanese”.  Then it will limit each stable to one “foreign” wrestler, meaning “foreignness” is a matter of birth, not a legal status.  This is a move, we are told by the media, to stop sumo from being “overrun with foreign wrestlers”.

That means that if I wanted to become a sumo wrestler, I would become a foreigner again.  Even though I’ve spent nearly a quarter of my life (as in close to ten years) as a Japanese citizen in Japan.

Well, fuck you very much, Sumo Kyoukai.  You are the shame of Japan.  And I present you with your special Debito.org Dejima Award (complete with a big loogie on top) reserved only for the most breathtakingly exclusionary moves seen in a society that even the UN says allows “deep and profound” racism.

You’d think with Takanohana’s coup-ascension to the upper echelons of the JSA, that things would be liberalizing.  Nope.  They’re going the other way.  I thought as much.

How about having some international sports leagues limit their Japanese players to one — say, Japanese in Major League Baseball teams? Including those Japanese who have naturalized?  Oh wait, do I hear calls of racism from the Japanese Peanut Galleries?  Yes, the shoe on the other foot would pinch, wouldn’t it?  And the sport as a whole would suffer since innate talent (as we have seen by the number of talented sumo rikishi from overseas) is hardly a nativist issue.  But try telling that to the racist JSA.

Arudou Debito in transit, wondering what kind of a Japan he’s returning home to.

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

SUMO
JSA to change rule on foreign sumo wrestlers
Japan Today Wednesday 24th February 2010, Courtesy lots of people

http://japantoday.com/category/sports/view/sa-to-change-rule-on-foreign-sumo-wrestlers

TOKYO — The Japan Sumo Association decided on Tuesday it will allow only one foreign-born wrestler per stable, meaning the one slot reserved for foreigners, which until now would become vacant when wrestlers took Japanese citizenship, cannot be filled.

For example, if a Mongolian-born wrestler belonging to a stable were to gain Japanese citizenship, other foreign wrestlers would be prohibited from joining the same stable.

JSA Chairman Musashigawa notified stablemasters of the decision made at an extraordinary meeting at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan the same day.

The existing restriction on foreigners will be in effect until newcomers for next month’s spring tournament undergo physicals, after which the new rule will be imposed.

‘‘You get the impression it is a severe measure but if the brakes are not applied somewhere, there will be more and more stables overrun with foreign wrestlers, so it can’t be helped,’’ said one stablemaster.

In recent years, the number of foreign wrestlers has been on the rise, as the existing loophole leaves a vacancy once someone from a respective stable gains Japanese citizenship.

Four Mongolian-born wrestlers and two Chinese-born wrestlers have taken Japanese citizenship since April last year.

The JSA decided in February 2002 to ‘‘limit the number of foreign wrestlers who can be recruited to one per stable.’‘

The latest shakeup in the JSA comes after Mongolian-born former grand champion Asashoryu quit the sport just weeks earlier following allegations he attacked a man outside a Tokyo night club in a drunken rage.

Sumo has been rocked to the core in recent years by a spate of scandals, including charges of drug violations, a death threat and a six-year prison term meted out to a stablemaster over physical abuse leading to the death of a 17-year-old wrestler.

There are nearly 60 foreign wrestlers in sumo today.

ENDS

Olympic Tangent: US-born Reed siblings skate for “Team Japan” despite one being too old to have dual nationality

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
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog. Olympics are the topic du jour, so let’s bring up something that relates to Debito.org.

Debito.org Reader JPS sent me a comment yesterday with some links (thanks, see below) pointing out how once again in Japan, citizenship and dual nationality are political issues, not legal ones. We have dual nationals (in the case below, the Reeds, two Japanese-Americans) skating for Team Japan.

For the record, I’m fine with that. Participate however you can in whatever team you choose as long as you’re doing so properly under Olympic rules. The problem is that under Japan’s rules, legally one of the Reeds should not be a dual national anymore — she had to choose one by age 22 and didn’t.   But for the sake of politics and medals, we’re bending the laws yet again — claiming people as ours only when it suits us.

Let’s just face reality, and allow dual nationality in Japan.  Period.   Then we have fewer identity problems and conflicts of interest.

Arudou Debito in Calgary, finding that Canada is pressuring their athletes almost as much as Japan does (Team Canada has never won a Gold on home soil; oh dear, so what.)

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

COMMENT FROM SUBMITTER JPS:
Hi Debito,

Hope you are enjoying Canada. So I was reading the top stories on Yahoo today and found this gem.

http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/vancouver/blog/fourth_place_medal/post/Three-American-ice-dancing-siblings-won-t-be-ska?urn=oly,218757

So Cathy Reed and her brother are dual nationals (according to the article) and will be representing Japan in the Olympics. The problem here is that Cathy is 22 years old, almost 23.

http://www.ice-dance.com/reeds/profiles.html
http://www.ice-dance.com/reeds/jp/

1987 + 22 = 2009. So the grace period for choosing a nationality has lapsed. So if this is correct, she is in violation of Japanese law, but it seems that it isn’t a problem here. I wonder why? JPS

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

THAT YAHOO ARTICLE FOLLOWS. DEBITO.ORG MAKES NO CLAIMS FOR ACCURACY OR TONE:

Three American ice dancing siblings won’t be skating for Team USA

By Trey Kerby
Yahoo Sports blog, Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:40 am EST

http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/vancouver/blog/fourth_place_medal/post/Three-American-ice-dancing-siblings-won-t-be-ska?urn=oly,218757

A few weeks back we told you about the curious trend of ice skaters finding partners in foreign countries. That was unusual, but not too surprising. Skaters need partners, and if they can find them in other places, why not? But the story of the Reed siblings? Well, that’s weird.

Born to an American father and a Japanese mother in Kalamazoo, Michigan, all three Reed siblings – Cathy, Chris, and Allison – will skate in the Vancouver Olympics. None of them are members of Team USA.

Huh?

Because of their mother’s Japanese citizenship, Chris and Cathy hold dual citizenship in the United States and Japan. They’ll be skating for Japan.

Allison, meanwhile, is taking advantage of the new rules to skate for Georgia’s national team, home of her partner, Otar Japaridze.

Growing up, the Reeds lived in Kalamazoo, Hong Kong, Cincinnati, Australia, and, finally, New Jersey, where Cathy and Chris met up with coaches Nikolai Morozov and Shae-Lynn Bourne. As the duo trained with their new coaches, they quickly flew up the ice dancing ranks. However, due to the depth of the American team, the Reeds began skating for Japan. In a country where ice dancing is not terribly popular, they almost immediately became the team to beat.

Little sister Allison’s story is even more fortuitous. She began the sport because of her siblings’ success but could not find a partner due to her small stature. Then she found Japaridze in – where else? – New Jersey. In their first competition together (Allison’s first international competition ever), the duo nabbed the very last Olympic spot.

Just your typical three-siblings-from-the-United-States-finding-international-success-for-other-countries story that’s pretty amazing. No biggie.
ENDS
///////////////////////////////////

Reuters on skater Yuko Kawaguchi: How Japan’s lack of dual nationality brands her a “traitor”

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  Here’s another case of how Japan’s lack of dual nationality causes unnecessary hardship and sacrifice.  Figure skater Yuko Kawaguchi has to give up her Japanese nationality in order to skate — and she reportedly gets branded a “traitor” for her trouble.

Japan puts enough pressure on its athletes to be world-class (sometimes demanding no less than a gold medal), and this lack of a “personal-best” culture (i.e. Japanese athletes have to become the pride or shame of the entire nation in any international competition) means many Japanese choke and crumble under the stress.  Or in this case, give up their legal ties to Japan entirely.  Silly.  Then again, if Kawaguchi DOES get the Gold, we might claim her all over again (like we did the emigrant “Japanese” who got Nobel Prizes recently).

It’s time to get governments off their 20th-Century war footings (as in, “If we grant dual nationality , what if we go to war with that country?  Which side will you choose?”) and allow individuals more options and identities.  And nationalities.  Because, again, the state of modern international migration warrants that.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

FEATURE-Olympics-Kawaguchi braves taunts to skate for Russia
Reuters, on Yahoo Sports Oct 14, 8:02 am EDT
By Gennady Fyodorov

http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/news?slug=reu-figure_skatingkawaguchi_feature_pix&prov=reuters&type=lgns

MOSCOW, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Yuko Kawaguchi was branded a traitor in her native Japan when she changed nationality to pursue her childhood dream of competing in the Olympics.

Since Japan does not allow dual citizenship, the figure skater was forced to give up her Japanese passport in exchange for a Russian one, enabling her and partner Alexander Smirnov to represent her adopted country at next year’s Winter Games in Vancouver.

“It was a very hard choice for me to make. But since I was a little girl I wanted to compete in the Olympics so in the end I had to make that choice in order for me to fulfil my childhood dream,” the Aichi native told Reuters in an interview.

While competing internationally for Russia required approval only from the sport’s governing body, the International Skating Union (ISU), she had to obtain Russian citizenship in order to take part in the Olympics.

Kawaguchi, who turns 28 next month, made her international debut for Russia at the 2007 world championships in Tokyo, where she and Smirnov finished ninth.

They have steadily improved in each of the last two seasons, coming fourth in the world in 2008 before taking bronze at this year’s world championships in Los Angeles.

While switching countries is common among athletes nowadays, Kawaguchi’s decision met with angry reaction back in Japan.

“I’ve read some nasty comments on the Internet. Those who don’t know how international rules work in sports even called me a traitor but I don’t get angry at them,” she said.

PAIRS SKATING

“People who follow sports understand that I’m not a traitor. I still consider myself Japanese. I chose to compete for Russia because I didn’t have a (good) partner in Japan.”

Japan have regularly produced world-class skaters in individual events for men and women but struggled to find top-level performers for pairs competition.

Russia have dominated Olympic pairs skating for nearly half a century, winning gold at every Winter Games since 1964.

Despite the fact that Kawaguchi and Smirnov represent their best hope for a medal in Vancouver, there was some resentment towards the Japan native among Russian sports officials who felt the country should develop their own skaters.

The pair’s coach, Tamara Moskvina, disagreed.

“Unlike some nations who pay millions to lure top athletes, we didn’t buy Kawaguchi,” the renowned trainer, who has guided three different pairs to Olympic titles, told Reuters.

“It was strictly her own decision and she paid her own way to come to Russia and train here. It was her perseverance and hard work that made her a top skater.”

Kawaguchi’s resilience was the main reason she ended up in Russia in the first place.

Inspired by watching Russia’s Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze compete at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, Kawaguchi wrote to their coach Moskvina, asking if she could also train her.

“I enjoyed watching Yelena skate. She was the most graceful skater; she was also very small, just like myself, but with a very big heart,” said the 1.57-metre tall Kawaguchi, who looks even smaller skating alongside the powerfully-built Smirnov.

DIFFERENT PARTNERS

“She was very persistent, so I finally agreed to take her aboard,” Moskvina recalled. “She also had to come to America as I was working in Hackensack, New Jersey, at the time.”

After spending several years in the United States, Kawaguchi followed Moskvina to St Petersburg when she returned home after leading Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze to the 2002 Olympic gold.

Kawaguchi and Smirnov, 25, each had two different partners before deciding to work together. She first skated with Russian-born Alexander Markuntsov, representing Japan.

“We had a good working relationship,” said Kawaguchi, who became the first pairs skater from Japan to medal at an international competition when she and Markuntsov won silver at the 2001 world junior championships.

“But it was very difficult for Alexander to acquire Japanese citizenship, thus we couldn’t represent Japan in the Olympics so after a while we decided to break up.”

Kawaguchi then teamed up with American Devin Patrick.

“It was a different story with Patrick. We had problems on the ice; we weren’t getting along too well,” she said.

St Petersburg-based Smirnov, who had skated with Alexandra Danilova and Yekaterina Vasilyeva before teaming up with Kawaguchi, was quick to pay compliments to his new partner.

“We often trained at the same rink and I could see how hard she works,” said Smirnov. “I thought I was a hard worker but after watching her I was really amazed by her work level.”

Moskvina said: “The combination of Japanese discipline and work ethic together with Russian artistry and elegance is what makes them unique.”

Asked to asses their Olympic chances, she was cautious, however, saying: “Don’t forget they have only been together for three years.

“Winning any medal in Vancouver would be a great success because time is on their side.” (Editing by Clare Fallon; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

ENDS

Author’s blog at

http://blogs.reuters.com/gennady-fyodorov/

HOKKAIDO NIPPON HAM FIGHTERS TAKE PACIFIC LEAGUE PENNANT AGAIN!

Hi Blog.  Just something quick to say:

CONGRATULATIONS HOKKAIDO NIPPON HAM FIGHTERS!!

PACIFIC LEAGUE CHAMPIONS 2009

I watched as they took the Pacific League Pennant (their third time since moving up here, what was it, six years ago?) in a Fighters sports bar.  Extra innings, they took it 5 to 4 shortly after hearing that Rakuten just lost (giving them the pennant anyway).

We’ve got a marvelous team, fun to watch, cheery and fan-based (they win most of their home games), great last innings every game, and a number of stars.  It’s like the Fish that Saved Pittsburgh — rallies our island no matter how desperate the economics becomes.  Good show, all.

Arudou Debito in Fighters home base Sapporo

Terrie’s Take on Tokyo’s 2016 Olympic bid, decision due Oct 2. Debito.org wa hantai.

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  Something coming up next week of surprising interest to Debito.org:  Guv Ishihara’s pet project to bring the 2016 Olympic Games to Tokyo.  We’ll hear the decision on October 2.  Here’s where Debito.org stands:

While understandable a sentiment (what booster wouldn’t want to bring such a probable economic boon home?), Debito.org has been unflinching in its criticism both of Ishihara (for his xenophobic rantings over the years, start here) and of the Tokyo Police (keishicho), who will no doubt be given charge of the security at the event.  As history has shown repeatedly (G8 Summits, overt and unapologetic racial profiling — even public scapegoating of NJ, border fingerprinting justified on bigoted grounds, deliberate misconstruing of crime data to whip up public fear, even spoiling one of the last Beatles concerts!), you don’t want to hand over matters of public security to a police force without proper checks and balances — because as even Edward Seidensticker noted, Keishicho will convert Tokyo into a police city if the event is big enough.   The Olympics is just that, and it really complicates things by bringing in foreigners, for the police get particularly carrot-arsed when they feel the outside world is watching.  As I wrote for the Japan Times some months ago:

Point is, international events bring out bad habits in Japan. And now we have Tokyo bidding for the 2016 Olympics? Cue yet another orgiastic official fear and crackdown campaign foisted on the Japanese public, with the thick blue line of the nanny state the biggest profiteer.

Conclusion: I don’t think Japan as a polity is mature enough yet to host these events. Japan must develop suitable administrative checks and balances, not to mention a vetting media, to stop people scaring Japanese society about the rest of the world just because it’s coming for a visit. We need to rein in Japan’s mandarins converting Japan into a Police State, cracking down on its already stunted civil society. (Zeit Gist, SUMMIT WICKED THIS WAY COMES, Japan Times April 22, 2008).

Terrie below (understandably) hopes Tokyo gets the Olympics.  I, for the record, hope it doesn’t.  It’s not because I live in Sapporo (I would have mildly supported Fukuoka’s bid, even despite the NPA, simply because Fukuoka never had the chance — unlike Sapporo — to be an Olympic host).  But the fact remains, as Terrie alludes to below, this is just a vanity project for one mean old man, working through Japan’s elite society to get what he wants, who feels as though he’s got one good deed to redeem all his bad works and ill-will over the years.  Other rich elites in their twilight years, such as Andrew Carnegie, have historically felt the same impetus.  But this Olympic bid certainly seems far more half-baked and far less philanthropic than, say, Carnegie’s legacy attempts.

O IOC, don’t fall for Ishihara’s ego.  Spare Tokyo, its tourists, and its ever-more-policed international residents yet another fear and social-control media blitz.  Give the Olympics to somebody else.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E ‘S T A K E * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.
(
http://www.terrie.com)

General Edition Sunday, September 27, 2009 Issue No. 535

+++ WHAT’S NEW

On October 2nd an important overseas decision will be made that will determine the future of Tokyo as a city of international standing. That decision will be made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), whose members will convene in Copenhagen to decide which of Rio de Janeiro, Chicago, Tokyo, or Madrid will get to host the 2016 summer Olympic games. All the big wigs involved with trying to get the Games for Tokyo, from Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara on down, flew out to Copenhagen on Saturday (Sep 26th) for their date with fate.

They won’t have to wait long.

Ishihara is trying his best to swing things Tokyo’s way, and reportedly has even asked newly elected PM Yukio Hatoyama and Seattle Mariners batter Ichiro Suzuki to attend the Copenhagen vote. However, he may have left his final run for the finish line too late. In its report released earlier this month (September), the IOC Evaluation Commission had some criticisms for Tokyo after their visit in April to examine the city’s facilities and planning. They particularly referred to a February poll that the IOC commissioned itself and which found that Tokyoites who “Support Strongly” the Games was just 25.2% — a surprisingly low number compared to any of the other three contenders. Strong support in Madrid, for example was 57.9%.

Indeed, as a result of the poll, the IOC Evaluation Commission specifically noted that Japan’s bid had the strong support of government but correspondingly lacked support by the public. Put another way, we have a classic case of those in charge of the local bid trying hard to get Japan’s “establishment” on board so as to provide sufficient financial support, which was indeed forthcoming, but they somehow forgot to involve the little people — the general public.

When the results of the February poll became public, we don’t know, but the Bid Committee finally “fixed” their PR problem a few days ago (in September, months too late), when a moving, talking 20-meter Gundam character robot was parked in Odaiba to pull in a reported 400,000 people who came to demonstrate their support for the Games bid. As a result, the public support in Tokyo for the Games is now supposed to be around 70%. The only trouble is that few members of the IOC can actually read Japanese newspapers or watch Japanese TV, and so these last minute efforts are unlikely to have much effect.

Indeed, this lack of reach by Japanese media to a world audience is frequently lost on Japanese politicians and governmental organizations, who think that because they can view the media, everyone can. This, in our opinion, is a good reason why Japan fails so frequently in its international bids for just about anything. A good example of this very domestic thinking can be found in the recent “Yokoso Japan” (Visit Japan) campaign. As far as we understand, almost all of the billions of yen allocated by the government to promote tourism were spent in Japan in the Japanese media.

It’s true that domestic tourism was also part of the agenda but foreign tourism was the main target, as proven by setting a high target for increased foreign visitor numbers. As it happened, luckily a short-lived economic boom in China and Korea in 2005-2007 helped pulled in several extra million Asian tourists, but despite some mutual back-patting this was largely accidental, and was certainly not the result of the almost non-existent overseas PR campaign.

Back to the local Bid Committee. In our view, not only did they forget to get buy-in from the man-in-the-street, but they seem have also bypassed 10% of those people who will be paying extra taxes to pay for the extravaganza (Minato-ku, Shibuya-ku, Chiyoda-ku, etc.). We refer, of course, to the invisible foreign community.

Yes, there is an English-language website, which from the dates of the photos and videos we presume was mainly put together for the benefit of the visiting IOC evaluation committee in April to show how cosmopolitan Tokyo is. But frankly it’s embarrassing to look at. Take the the section that carefully provides one and one-only restaurant (well, OK, there are two French establishments) representing 12 different national cuisines. Why couldn’t they make a proper effort to garner support of those hundreds of English-speaking venues that will actually be called upon to look after tens of thousands of non-Japanese speaking guests if we actually win the games?

You can see the Olympic bid English site at http://www.tokyo2016.or.jp/en/. You can see the IOC Evaluation Commission’s report, which includes the Tokyo bid at: http://multimedia.olympic.org/pdf/en_report_1469.pdf

As a further comment to the Bid Committee’s lack of awareness that the Olympics might actually be an international affair, if you go to the site’s organization chart, you will quickly notice that of the 19 officials named on the site, not one is a non-Japanese, and of the 56 “advisors” not one is a non-Japanese either. So we can only assume that foreigners will be asked to keep a low profile while Japan hosts the Games… and to pay their taxes on time.

OK, enough of the sour grapes. It’s not like Tokyo has no chance of winning, although with the Beijing Olympics only just done here in Asia, and there never having been a Games in South America before, the odds are apparently on Rio taking the honors for 2016. You won’t read that fact in the Japanese press, since they’re all saying Tokyo will win.

But it’s not a shoe-in for Rio. In their review, the IOC evaluation commission was concerned about the fact that Rio’s games facilities are spread out over hilly terrain, and the city will need an overhaul of its public transport systems to get guests around. There was also concern about violent crime.

Chicago also has a strong chance according to observers, but it has the problem of whether or not it can really afford the expense of the Games, given the poor shape the local economy after the meltdown of the U.S. auto industry. Also some of the Chicago venues are apparently a long way out of the city and not currently well serviced by public transport.

The other contender, Madrid, got a reasonably negative response that they may not fully appreciate the complexity of management required to host the Games.

Thinking positively, though, if we do win the right to host the Games, it will give the Tokyo metropolitan government a worthy project to focus on, and will cause them to finally do something with those ugly vacant lots built during the bubble era, that they are stuck with out at Odaiba. The venue plan for Tokyo calls for substantial planting of greenery in the area, as well as making the entire athlete’s village ecologically sound — with the latest solar, waste processing, and transport technologies being employed to give Japan a showcase to the world.

To wrap up, we do in fact hope that by some miracle Tokyo wins the 2016 Olympic Games. It would be a blast to be in the middle of all the buzz that will come with such an event. It will also significantly ramp up the world’s awareness of what a great place Tokyo is to live and visit — doing wonders for tourism.

But, in our heart of hearts, we fear that those handling the city’s bid may not have realized that to play a global game, you need to have a world-class team, not just money and government support. We’re not sure that such a team was brought to bear, and so we’re betting that Rio will probably win the hearts of IOC members — especially since South America is long overdue to host what should be a global event.

**************
SUBSCRIBE to, UNSUBSCRIBE from Terrie’s Take at:
http://mailman.japaninc.com/mailman/listinfo/terrie

BACK ISSUES
http://www.japaninc.com/terries_take, or,
http://mailman.japaninc.com/pipermail/terrie/
ENDS

Bumping into Ramos Rui, one of my heroes, by chance in Nagoya

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 JapansourstrawberriesavatarUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  Just a quick blog entry for today.  I was in Nagoya a few days ago finishing up one of my intensive courses on Media Professionalism, and at checkout from my hotel who should I bump into on the elevator but somebody I could have sworn looked just like one of my heroes.

Ramos Rui, a famous soccer player who has done a great deal in my opinion for assimilation of NJ (he even naturalized in 1989), toughing it out in what would become the J-League, then the Japan National Team, was standing right there.  I asked him, he acknowledged, and we had a quick conversation in Japanese about things.

I don’t think he knows as much about me as I do about him (of course — why should he?), but he was very cooperative when I asked if I could take a quick snap with my camera.  Here it is:

ramosruianddebito

Again, Ramos-san is one of my heroes:  I have a poster of him on my office wall from the GOJ, encouraging people to vote IIRC, captioned “nihonjin to shite”.  Bravo.  I think he should be leading the Japan Team, not Okada.  But again, what do I know about sport (and J soccer in particular), except that he’s one of the few who toughed it out — and succeeded in making a name for himself!  Good for him.  Arudou Debito in Yokohama

TheWorldGame.com on why Brazilian footballers in Japan are so footloose

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 JapansourstrawberriesavatarUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  I received this from the author yesterday for its mention of McDonald’s “Mr James”, but hell, I thought the article interesting enough (I know little about the subject) that I thought I’d bring it up here for comment.  Those more in the know, fire away.  Debito in Nagoya

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

Brazilians no mercenaries in dash for cash
By Mike Tuckerman | 6 September 2009 | 17:43

http://www.theworldgame.com.au/brazilians-no-mercenaries-in-dash-for-cash-232312
Courtesy of the author

SUBTITLE:  There was a monumental shift in Japan this week, and it wasn’t Leandro’s decision to up sticks to Al-Sadd.

After a near-unbroken half-century in power, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party was turfed out by an electorate simmering with anger.

The LDP had become synonymous with corruption – its 50-year stronghold leaving the Japanese economy teetering on the brink.

It was time for change, and the citizens of Japan duly delivered one.

Meanwhile, Gamba Osaka striker Leandro followed a well-beaten path when he cashed in his yen to join Qatari club Al-Sadd for a fee in excess of $12 million.

The powerful forward had been at the Kansai side for barely nine months, having joined at the start of the year from local rival Vissel Kobe.

His departure has the potential to unleash catcalls that Brazilian players are only in the J-League for the money.

Well, so what if they are?

In a country where xenophobia is a softly-spoken secret – how’s this for McDonald’s latest Japanese ad campaign?– can anyone really blame Leandro for hopping on the first available flight to Doha?

Brazilian migrants first started arriving in Japan in the early 1900s.

Brazilian footballers have been an ever-present in the J-League since it kicked off in 1993, with Japanese coaches quick to harness the selfishness of Brazilian strikers in front of goal.

But for every Leandro jetting off to the Gulf – or Emerson, or Magno Alves, or Baré – there’s a Zico, a Toninho, or a Fernandinho.

There are plenty of Brazilians in the J-League committed to the cause.

Some, like the high-profile Zico, are afforded star status.

But others toil in relative anonymity, happy to ply their trade far from their homeland, struggling to overcome cultural and language barriers.

Often their contracts are terminated with no fanfare and little regard for their welfare.

When diminutive midfielder Fernandinho requested a transfer from Shimizu S-Pulse in 2008, he was granted an immediate loan move to Kyoto Sanga.

His return to Nihondaira Stadium with Kyoto was greeted by a chorus of jeers from Shimizu fans, clueless as to the reasons for his departure.

Deeply religious, Fernandinho had actually moved back to the Kansai region to be closer to his congregation.

Every year, dozens of Brazilian players are summarily informed by J-League clubs that their services are no longer required.

Often the news means up-rooting home and family to look for a new club overseas.

It’s a draining lifestyle – one I can attest to – and I don’t begrudge a single Brazilian player who chooses to make a living in Japan, or one who departs for pastures anew.

Japan Times columnist Andrew McKirdy’s illuminating insight into the life of Croatian defender Mato Neretljak proves it’s not just Brazilians willing to make a fist of things in Japan.

Leandro will be replaced –Gamba signed Pedro Junior on the day of Leandro’s exit – and there are plenty more Brazilians to try their luck in the J-League.

In an ideal world we would judge them for their exploits on the pitch, and not on their cut of big-money intercontinental transfers.

Follow-up: Sumo Stablemaster gets his for Tokitaizan hazing death

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog. A bit of follow-up on a case that Debito.org took up in 2007 due to the politics of Sumo (and our perceived need for the Association to divert attention from its own excesses by bashing the foreign rikishi). The stablemaster whose orders resulted in the death of Sumo wrestler Tokitaizan two years got his: Seven years in the clink. Good. But it’s now on appeal, and who knows if it’ll be lessened to the degree where it does not become a deterrent for future leaders to order and carry out the bullying and hazing of its underlings. Even Ozeki Kaio has rallied as a defender of the practices, see below. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

—————————–

The Japan Times, Saturday, May 30, 2009
Former stable master gets six years for young wrestler’s hazing death
NAGOYA (Kyodo) The Nagoya District Court sentenced a former sumo stable master Friday to six years in prison for telling wrestlers at his stable to haze and beat a 17-year-old wrestler who died in the 2007 assault.

News photo
Junichi Yamamoto KYODO PHOTO

Presiding Judge Masaharu Ashizawa said that Junichi Yamamoto, 59, with his “immeasurable power” as stable master, ordered the two days of physical abuse that “grossly disrespected the victim’s human dignity.”

Yamamoto immediately appealed the ruling.

Rest of the article at

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090530a3.html

ENDS

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

The Japan Times, Thursday, June 4, 2009
Ozeki Kaio says harsh treatment is integral
By JIM ARMSTRONG
The Associated Press

Sumo veteran Kaio said Tuesday that harsh treatment of wrestlers in training is an integral part of Japan’s ancient sport and is partially responsible for his own success.

Japan’s ancient sport has been rocked by several recent scandals, including one in which a trainer was sentenced to six years in prison for his role in the fatal beating of a young wrestler during training.

Rest of the article at

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ss20090604a1.html

ENDS

NYT: Japanese Fans Mobilize to Keep Valentine as Their Manager

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar

For the sports fans out there (I’m indifferent about baseball except if it’s the Fighters), here’s the NYT on how the fans are battling the management to keep their NJ baseball manager.  Comments?  Debito

====================================
The New York Times
May 21, 2009
Japanese Fans Mobilize to Try to Keep Valentine as Their Manager
By DAVID WALDSTEIN

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/21/sports/baseball/21valentine.html?hpw=&pagewanted=all

CHIBA, Japan — After nine innings of sustained chanting and singing, about 150 of the most loyal fans remained behind in silence with their banners raised over their heads, the Japanese characters on the 70-foot signs shouting out in protest from the right-field bleachers.

“We would rather fight with Bobby, who says we’re the world’s best fans,” one sign read, “than with a front office who calls us worthless.”

“Bobby stands behind us. We stand behind Bobby,” read another.

It was the third consecutive game that the fans had staged this unusual protest, all part of a campaign to force the Chiba Lotte Marines to reverse course and keep Bobby Valentine, a baseball lifer from America, as their manager beyond the current season.

For six weeks, the fans of the Marines have been engaged in a battle with the front office over the fate of Valentine, who was told over the winter that his contract would not be renewed for financial reasons, despite his success with the team.

With over 50,000 signatures on a petition to keep Valentine, this is a struggle, the fans believe, that goes to the heart of Japanese baseball. They see Valentine as a positive influence who is leading the team and the sport toward a more viable future by promoting more access to players and more fan-friendly marketing concepts.

At the same time, they view the current front office, led by the team president, Ryuzo Setoyama, as more interested in the old status quo, when, they contend, fans were treated less as coveted customers and more as people expected to attend games out of a sense of duty. Although the team insists that Valentine simply makes too much money to be retained in 2010, the fans believe other factors may be in play.

“This problem is more than Japanese baseball itself; it’s about the Japanese society,” Kazuhiro Yasuzumi, a 39-year-old Marines fan and leader of the protest, said through an interpreter. He said that people with power and influence in Japan did not necessarily appreciate someone like Valentine, who has never been bashful about offering his opinion.

Valentine is indeed paid a lot of money: $3.9 million per season. When, and if, he goes, he will take with him some significant accomplishments, starting with the championship he won in 2005, the Marines’ first in 31 years. It was after that feat that he became the only foreigner to win the prestigious Shoriki Award for contributions to Japanese baseball.

During his six seasons in Chiba (Valentine also managed here for one season in 1995 before returning to the United States to manage the Mets), membership in the team’s fan club has grown by 600 percent to 140,000 card-carrying members and team revenues have increased by 400 percent. The street where he lives in Chiba has been renamed Valentine’s Way.

Still, Setoyama announced over the winter that the team could no longer afford Valentine and that he would not be retained after the 2009 season, angering some fans and mobilizing others.

In 1995, when Valentine was fired after one season, fans attempted to generate a petition on his behalf, but the effort was too late. This time they vowed to be better organized.

So, when Valentine returned to Japan in January to begin to prepare for the season, the protests began. Two hundred fans greeted him at the airport when he arrived. On opening day in early April, Marines fans unfurled a 200-foot banner that read, “Marines Is My Life,” but then quickly rolled it up to reveal more than a dozen flags, pennants and banners proclaiming support for Valentine.

Some of the banners displayed Valentine’s likeness or the No. 2 he wears on his jersey. Some read, “Bobby 2010”; others stated, “Respect Bobby,” in English.

Valentine said the protest left him in tears. He was not the only one affected.

“I got chills,” said Hiram Bocachica, a former major leaguer now with the Lions. “You don’t expect that for a manager.”

The fans also took their protest beyond the stands, going directly to the acting team owner, Akio Shigemitsu, in the stadium parking lot after one game and asking him to reconsider. Then came a front-office meeting. The minutes of that meeting were leaked to the Japanese press and portrayed Setoyama, the team president, speaking derisively about the team’s fans and discussing the possibility of moving the team out of Chiba.

In response, the team held a news conference in which Shigemitsu declared his support for Valentine through the end of the season and denied the team might be moved. Setoyama disputed the comments attributed to him in the news media reports; he did not respond to a request by The New York Times for an interview.

Meanwhile, Lotte, the team’s multinational parent company, is conducting an internal review of the circumstances surrounding Valentine and the club. And as it does, the protests continue. At every home game fans are greeted by supporters of Valentine asking for more petition signatures. The banners supporting him are unfurled every time a Marine batter reaches base. There are even rumblings of a silent protest in the right-field stands, where the loudest cheering section is traditionally situated.

“It’s an ugly battle taking place, but I think it’s only a blip on the screen,” said Jim Small, Major League Baseball’s top executive in Asia, when asked about the Valentine controversy. “For the most part, I think the trend is toward the new way of thinking, and that started with the Marines.”

And more particularly with Valentine, who took such steps as opening the windows of his office to give out autographs to surprised patrons and having some of the protective netting around the field removed so players could sign for fans. Normally loquacious, he has tried to keep a distance from the protests. But he did salute the fans for their support, and what he termed the magic show, when the banners supporting him appear “out of nowhere.”

Valentine also knows there is talk that he will be back managing in the major leagues before long but says any speculation about next year is insulting to those who have taken up his cause.

“I always talk about passion and commitment, but they have one-upped me,” he said of those fans. “They have committed themselves to the team, and whether it’s 1-1 in the 12th or 19-1 in the ninth, they always have incredible passion for the team. It’s inspiring. It’s a great life lesson for anybody.”

ENDS

Sumo wrestler Wakakirin expelled for smoking pot: Why’d it take so long?

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 Japan
Hi Blog.  I have been avoiding talking about the “puff pieces” about pot smokers in Sumo (I’m sure toking helps with the munchies around chanko-nabe time; we might even get people finding other uses for the hemp-like substance surrounding much of the ceremonial decor), because there was nothing particularly noteworthy or unfair about it.  Three sumo wrestlers who just happened to be Russian got caught inhaling, and they got it in the neck.  Dumb of them to do it.

However, now a Japanese rikishi, Wakakirin, just got caught and expelled.  Funny thing is, he tested positive for the substance (twice) back in August like all the rest.  Why wasn’t the bong lowered on him then?  

More importantly, this becomes Debito.orgable because Kyodo just had to run a bit saying that he got his stash from foreigners in Roppongi.  That’s right, even when it’s a Japanese gone to pot, weasel in some blame for the NJ all over again.  Sheesh.

A couple of articles substantiating this follow, courtesy of JK and The Club.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

===============================
◆Sumo: JSA fires wrestler arrested for marijuana possession
TOKYO, Feb. 2, 2009 KYODO NEWS
http://home.kyodo.co.jp/modules/fstStory/index.php?storyid=421664

The Japan Sumo Association on Monday fired second-division wrestler Wakakirin, who has been arrested for marijuana possession in the latest drug-use scandal to hit Japan’s ancient national sport.
     The JSA executive committee took swift action to impose one of its heaviest punishments on a wrestler three days after police apprehended Wakakirin, 25, whose real name is Shinichi Suzukawa, in Tokyo along with 30-year-old musician Tsutomu Hirano.
     The committee, however, stopped short of expelling Wakakirin. Dismissal is the second heaviest punishment after expulsion.
     Wakakirin is the first Japanese wrestler to be arrested in a marijuana case and the latest grappler to be thrown out of the sumo world after three Russians were dismissed over drug charges during the last six months.
     Top-division Russian grappler Wakanoho was arrested on charges of marijuana possession last August, while compatriots and brothers Roho and Hakurozan both returned positive results for marijuana use in ensuing drug tests conducted by the JSA.
     The series of drug-use scandals came as the sport struggled to restore its reputation, marred also by lingering match-fixing allegations and the fatal hazing last year of a teenage wrestler by his stablemates.
     On Saturday, Wakakirin submitted a written retirement offer to the JSA through his lawyer and stablemaster Oguruma. JSA Chairman Musashigawa left his fate in the hands of the executive committee.
     Wakakirin has admitted to police that he smoked marijuana. He made his sumo debut in 1999 and wrestled in the second-tier juryo division in the last five tournaments after being demoted from the top flight, where he peaked at ninth-ranked maegashira in January 2008.
==Kyodo
===============================

Sumo wrestler says he got marijuana from foreigner in Roppongi

YOKOHAMA —

A second-division Japanese sumo wrestler arrested for possessing marijuana has said he obtained the drug from a foreigner in Tokyo’s Roppongi district and that he had smoked marijuana regularly, before then retracting that claim, police said Saturday.

Wakakirin, 25, whose real name is Shinichi Suzukawa, earlier told Kanagawa prefectural police that he ‘‘had been smoking for some time’’ but later changed his testimony and said, ‘‘I only smoked marijuana twice before my arrest and have not smoked it in the past.’’

Wakakirin said the only two times he had smoked were at the office of a compact disc sales shop in Roppongi where he was arrested Friday after the police found 16 grams of marijuana while investigating another drug-related case.

But because the sumo wrestler tested positive twice in three urine tests conducted by the Japan Sumo Association in September, the police said they will continue investigating where he obtained the drug and the number of times he has smoked in the past.

Police sent the wrestler to prosecutors Sunday on suspicion of violating the cannabis control law. Wakakirin was apprehended along with musician Tsutomu Hirano, 30, at the office of a CD shop in the Roppongi district, according to the Kanagawa prefectural police.

Wakakirin told investigators he hollowed out a cigar, blended the contents with marijuana and put the mixture back into the cigar and smoked it, but a senior prefectural police official queried whether it is normal to inhale cigars in the same way as in smoking marijuana.

The police also sent Hirano to prosecutors Sunday.

ENDS

Robert Whiting on NJ flunkey-cum-baseball hero Oh Sadaharu’s legacy

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 Japan

Hi Blog. Here’s an article which made me conclude something that I have been suspecting all along.

Baseball hero Oh Sadaharu, a Zainichi Taiwanese, is retiring. He has done a lot for baseball and no doubt for the image of NJ in Japan (especially the Sangokujin, Tokyo Gov. Ishihara’s pet NJ to target as potential criminals).

But I am not a fan. As the article rather euphemistically headlines below, Oh’s record was hard to beat. That’s because anyone who came close, particularly a line of foreign baseball players, was stopped because they were gaijin. Even by Oh himself. Now, that’s unsportsmanlike. I will cheer anytime anyone does well as a personal best, especially when they overcome great personal odds (Oh was not allowed to play Korakuen High School baseball tournaments because Japan didn’t, and still doesn’t to some degree, allow foreign players to play in Kokutai leagues where “they might qualify for the Olympics and become national representatives” sort of thing).

But Oh for years now has struck me as a person who earns his laurels and his pedestal, then pulls the ladder up behind him, even for others who face similar obstacles. It’s one thing to discriminate because discrimination is the norm and you’re just playing ball. It’s another to go through the discrimination yourself, then turn around and abet the discrimination against others. It’s hypocritical, and Oh should have known and done better. He chose not to. And now that we have an authority on Japanese baseball, Robert Whiting, coming out and indicating as such in the article below, I’m ready to draw this conclusion:

Oh Sadaharu may be a baseball hero, but he’s an Uncle Tom and a turncoat, and that tarnishes his image as a genuine hero. Shame on you, Sadaharu. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

More on discrimination against NJ in the Kokutai here.

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

Equaling Oh’s HR record proved difficult

Special to The Japan Times, Friday, Oct. 31, 2008

Third in a three-part series

PART I — Devoted to the game: Looking back at Oh’s career
PART II — Oh’s career sparkled with achievements as player, manager

News photo
Back in the day: Sadaharu Oh, Hank Aaron and CBS-TV announcer Brent Musburger are seen at an exhibition home run contest held by the two prodigious sluggers on Nov. 2, 1974, at Tokyo’s Korakuen Stadium. Aaron won 10-9. (C) STARS AND STRIPES

The one big black mark on Sadaharu Oh’s reputation was, of course, the unsportsmanlike behavior of the pitchers on his team whenever foreign batsmen threatened his single season home run record of 55.

The phenomenon had first surfaced in 1985, when American Randy Bass playing for the Hanshin Tigers, who went into the last game of the season — against the Oh-managed Giants at Korakuen Stadium — with 54 home runs.

Bass was walked intentionally four times on four straight pitches and would have been walked a fifth, had he not reached out and poked a pitch far outside the plate into the outfield.

Oh denied ordering his pitchers to walk Bass, but Keith Comstock, an American pitcher for Yomiuri reported afterward that a certain Giants coach imposed a fine of $1,000 for every strike Giants pitchers threw to Bass.

A subsequent investigation by the magazine Takarajima concluded that the instructions had probably originated in the Giants front office, which wanted the home run record kept in the Giants organization.

Except for an editorial in the Yomiuri Shimbun’s archrival, the Asahi, demanding to know why Oh did not run out to the mound and order his pitchers to throw strikes, the media remained silent, as did then-NPB commissioner Takeso Shimoda, who had often stated his belief that the Japanese game would never be considered first class as long as there were former MLB bench-warmers starring on Japanese teams.

Of course, the reality was more complex. There were many imports who were in fact gifted hitters, but were kept out of big league lineups by other shortcomings in their game or by bad luck — simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, Shimoda and like-minded critics failed to see such shades of gray.

A replay of the Bass episode came during the 2001 season. American Tuffy Rhodes, playing for the Kintetsu Buffaloes, threatened Oh’s record.

With several games left in the season, Rhodes hit the 55 mark. But during a late season weekend series in Fukuoka, pitchers on the Hawks refused to throw strikes to Rhodes and catcher Kenji Johjima could be seen grinning during the walks.

Again Oh denied any involvement in their actions and Hawks battery coach Yoshiharu Wakana admitted the pitchers had acted on his orders.

“It would be distasteful to see a foreign player break Oh’s record,” he told reporters.

The NPB commissioner on watch, Hiromori Kawashima, denounced his behavior as “unsportsmanlike,” and there was some outcry from the media.

However, this did not help Rhodes, who went homerless the rest of the way. Rhodes remained convinced that there was a “Code Red” that kicked into action whenever a foreign player did too well.

A second replay occurred in 2002, when Venezuelan Alex Cabrera also hit 55 home runs, tying Oh (and Rhodes) with five games left to play in the season. Oh commanded his pitchers not to repeat their behavior of the previous year, but, not surprisingly, most of them ignored him. There was more condemnation from the public, but, curiously, not from Oh, who simply shrugged and said, “If you’re going to break the record, you should do it by more than one. Do it by a lot.”

Such behavior led an ESPN critic to call Oh’s record “one of the phoniest in baseball.”

In Oh’s defense, there was probably nothing he could have done to prevent his pitchers from acting as they did. Feelings about “gaijin” aside, it was (and still is) common practice for teams to take such action to protect a teammate’s record or title.

In all three assaults on Oh’s record, the respective front offices had a decided interest in the outcome. Oh’s 55 homers was a Yomiuri record, while executives with the Hawks believed Oh’s status as a record-holder brought the organization favorable PR.

No pitcher on any of Oh’s teams wanted to be the one who gave up the homer that cost Oh that particular spot in the record books.

Finally, there was the question of Oh’s own personality. He was a product of his life experiences and his father’s life experiences as a member of a minority group in Japan. He surely knew better than to make waves and to embarrass the executive suits that had so much invested in him.

Still, amid all the fuss about protectionism in baseball, it is noteworthy that no one in the Japanese game ever sees fit to mention the fact that Oh hit most of his home runs using rock hard, custom-made compressed bats.

A batter using a compressed bat, it was said, could propel a ball farther than he can with an ordinary bat. Compressed bats were illegal in the MLB when Oh was playing in Japan, and were outlawed by the NPB in 1982 after Oh retired, but well before Bass, Rhodes and Cabrera had Japan visas stamped into their passports.

Oh’s finest hour as a manager was perhaps his performance in the 2006 inaugural WBC. He had passed his 65th birthday and his age was starting to show. Moreover, he was not in the best of health, and was months away from a bout with cancer that would spare his life but cause a rearrangement of his digestive system.

News photo
Thanks for the memories: Sadaharu Oh has left a lasting impact during his 50 years in baseball. His 868 career home runs is a record that may never be surpassed in Japan. AP PHOT

The NPB owners, after long negotiations, had agreed to participate in the tourney but the NPB Players Association refused to cooperate. They were upset over the March schedule which they felt would interfere with their spring training.

Another thing that bothered them was that they had been completely left out of the loop in the discussions leading up to the WBC, both by the NPB owners and the American organizers of the event.

The NPB owners, with typical arrogance, had not bothered to inform the players of what had been going on, much less seek their consent or consult with them about the terms of participation in the WBC, until long after the tournament was announced.

More important, the players were skeptical of the event itself. They did not particularly think it was a worthy use of their time.

To break the impasse, senior executives from Yomiuri (which had agreed to sponsor the Asian round) prevailed upon Sadaharu Oh to manage the team, hoping that the presence of one of the most revered names in Japanese baseball history could somehow change the dynamic. Their first choice, Shigeo Nagashima (naturally), was not available due to the aftereffects of his stroke.

Oh had his own (secret) misgivings about the event, but true to his agreeable nature, finally agreed to take part. “I’ll do it for the welfare of Japanese baseball,” Oh had said a well-publicized remark, “I’ll do it for the future. For 50 years from now.”

Ichiro Suzuki, among others, was, initially, not impressed.

“What difference does it make if some old guy is going to manage the team?” he reportedly told acquaintances, “That doesn’t make it a real event.”

But the “old guy” was persistent. He threw himself into the job with typical perseverance. His own story was a tale of continued perseverance and triumph over personal tragedy.

Oh began a courtship of Ichiro and Hideki Matsui and he did it with the grace and diplomacy that was typical of him. He worked very hard to persuade them individually how important it was that Japan participate, that they participate.

Japan’s greatest slugger approached them as if they would be doing him a personal favor if they joined the team. In the end, Ichiro agreed to play, although Matsui felt too strong an obligation to the Yankees to leave spring camp.

Oh drove his players hard and the cool, aloof Ichiro somehow magically transformed into a fiery leader, exhorting his team to greater effort in practice and in the actual competition.

Japan went on to win the tourney — despite its three defeats overall — on a succession of steadily improving performances and a managerial strategy which combined caution with aggression.

The final, a 10-6 triumph over Cuba played at Petco Park in San Diego, riveted the nation. It was watched by one out of every two Japanese, a total audience of roughly 60 million people, which made it one of the most watched sporting events in the history of Japan.

It ignited an enormous national cheer back home. It was an ironic ending for a team that had not wanted to participate in the first place.

With the WBC victory, Oh was now more popular than he had ever been and it was a fitting cap to his career. Yet in a survey conducted by Sangyo Noritsu University to determine the “Boss of the Decade” the following year, Oh finished well behind Nagashima in the voting, despite having a higher lifetime winning percentage, at the time.

Somehow the results were not surprising.

Oh had fought against adversity his whole life, it seemed. As a youth, he had been banned from participating in an important national tournament because he was not a Japanese citizen, even though he was the best player on his team.

As a pro, he had to cede the spotlight to the more popular, pure-blooded Nagashima, despite the fact that he was arguably the best player in baseball during the Giants glory years, and as Giants manager had been faced with a team that did not wholeheartedly welcome his leadership.

Oh’s years with the Hawks, successful as they were, were marred by other difficulties. Among them was the premature death, in 2002, of his wife Kyoko, who succumbed to stomach cancer. That was followed by the inexplicable theft of her ashes from the family graveyard, never to be retrieved.

And then came Oh’s own bout with stomach cancer. In the middle of the 2006 season, Oh underwent laparoscopic surgery in which his cancerous stomach was completely removed.

But the thing about Oh is that you never, ever heard him complain — about anything. He just sucked up whatever misfortunes life dealt to him and went on to the next challenge. He always tried to look at the bright side.

When he returned to manage the Hawks in 2007, several kilograms lighter and looking, as one reporter put it, “like an underfed jockey,” he acted as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do.

“Yes, I don’t have a stomach anymore,” he said, the last time I saw him, in the fall of 2007 when he appeared at a Foreign Sportswriters of Japan event to pick up a Lifetime Achievement Award, “but now I can eat as much chocolate as I want.”

However, the Hawks fell further out of contention in that ’07 season and were eliminated in the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

In 2008, the Hawks dropped into last place and Oh announced his resignation and his retirement from field managing. He referenced ill health, but also took responsibility for the team’s failure to win another championship. “Managers should not stay that long in one place,” he said.

The announcement of his retirement prompted a wave of tributes from the prime minister’s office on down, as well as a special newspaper editions and TV reports lauding his accomplishments.

People seemed to sense that with Oh’s retirement they had lost something more than just a baseball hero, that they had lost a connection to an era in Japan where the values of hard work, selflessness, and responsibility mattered a lot more than they do now.

Professor Saito summed it up when he eulogized Oh in an interview with NHK. “We are living in an era of instant gratification,” he said, “People these days want everything now and they give in too easily to adversity. But not Oh. He has shown us what the true meaning of ‘doryoku’ is.”

Johjima had flown back from the States to attend Oh’s farewell game on Oct. 7, 2008.

“Oh was a great human being,” he said when it was all over, “He was special, as a player, as a manager, as a man. He was a baseball father figure to me. It was a huge honor to play for him.”

ENDS

PART I — Devoted to the game: Looking back at Oh’s career
PART II — Oh’s career sparkled with achievements as player, manager

Tangent: In Niseko, playing Cricket!

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 Japan
Morning Blog.  Writing this as I wait for the copious amounts of water to take effect on my compact little hangover…

Have spent the weekend in Niseko (courtesy of RidgeRunner development Inc) getting more insight into just how the Australian-led building and skiing boom here is fundamentally changing this small ski town into an international resort area.  Property values are soaring, very nicely designed buildings are going up, multilingual parties are on tap every night… even the Hilton recently opened a hotel here.  More boosterism at http://www.powderlife.com/.

But the reason I dropped by this time (last time I emceed a forum in July 6, talking about the launch of organic farm Takadai Meadows run, again, mostly by NJ, and with speakers Alex Kerr, Bruce Gutlove, and Honma Yasunori) was to play Cricket!

Yes, Cricket, where you find that Baseball training (I played Little League) gets in the way of knowing how to hold the bat and how to catch that undeservedly hard ball (no gloves allowed; I have very bruised fingernails this morning, and am pleased I can type without broken phalanges).  I actually had fun (fielded, bowled my first over and managed to do it with only three wides, and even got four runs after about twenty minutes at bat).  Our pick-up team still managed to beat two teams, one with its own uniforms even (by ONE run at the last bowl–game couldn’t have been closer), and they take on the very serious Pakistani team today (which I shall give a miss; I need a Sunday at home for the first time since July).

It’s an event with charity auctions and large parties (of course), sponsored by organizations such as Metropolis/Jap@n.Inc/Crisscross, the Hokkaido International School, and various companies and government agencies.  And attended by cricket heroes whose names I’ve never heard of, of course.  More information at

http://www.ezocricketclub.com/international-cricket-competion/

Again, one of the fruits of multiculturalization.  Who would have thunk I’d have gotten to know why people worldwide enjoy playing Cricket in the backwoods of Hokkaido!  Long may a healthy development of Niseko continue.

Arudou Debito in Niseko