My SNA Visible Minorities 25: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postmortem, where I argue the Games failed its goals of “Diversity and Inclusion” predictably and by design

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Books, eBooks, and more from Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Visible Minorities: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postmortem
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, AUG 16, 2021 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN (excerpt)
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/08/16/visible-minorities-tokyo-2020-olympics-postmortem/

SNA (Tokyo) — The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are now past. This is a postmortem.

Last month’s column talked about the “evil” of the Japanese government and International Olympic Committee (IOC) in forcing an unpopular Olympics upon Japan’s residents, all the while as Tokyo’s cases spiked during a global pandemic. But I also argued how host Japan in particular is trained by national narratives to see “outsiders” (including residents who don’t “look Japanese”—our Visible Minorities) specifically as terrorists, hooligans, criminals, and vectors of disease.

These fault lines have predictably exacerbated the endemic social disease of racial discrimination. International events just give people more excuses to create “Japanese Only” signs and rules.

That’s not to say that I boycotted the Olympics. In fact, given my background, I should be a superfan. […] But thanks to my background in political science, I’m trained to view nationalism with a critical eye: How governments convince people to live, fight, and even sacrifice their lives for their country. The Olympics are rooted precisely in these attitudes, and forever filter athleticism through the lens of national representation and superiority.

So despite all their promises to showcase “Diversity and Inclusion,” the Tokyo 2020 Olympics shirked that opportunity — predictably and by design…

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Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/08/16/visible-minorities-tokyo-2020-olympics-postmortem/. Go read it before it goes behind paywall. Or better yet, support independent progressive journalism and subscribe to SNA for as little as a dollar a week!  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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My SNA Visible Minorities 24: “The Tokyo Olympics Trap”, on how these Games are harming Japan’s minorities, and how the IOC is harming Japan

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Books, eBooks, and more from Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (click on icon):
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Hi Blog. My latest SNA column 24 is about the fiasco the Tokyo 2020 Olympiad has become. Introduction:

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Visible Minorities: The Tokyo Olympics Trap
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, July 19, 2021

SNA (Tokyo) — On the eve of the Tokyo Olympics, let’s talk about the mess.

Much space has been devoted to the idiocracy behind spending record amounts of money on infrastructure that is not built to last, or even if it is, it often winds up abandoned. Further, holding a superspreader sports meet during a global pandemic is a surefire path to social discord and preventable death.

But it matters that Japan is hosting this mess. This column as usual will first focus on the Olympics’ impact on our minorities, and then talk about the IOC’s responsibility for scamming Japan…
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Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/07/19/visible-minorities-the-tokyo-olympics-trap/

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My SNA VM Column 23: “Gaijin Card Reader App Obliterates Privacy,” June 21, 2021, on how NJ privacy is of so little concern that the Govt. has enabled anyone to swipe Gaijin Cards

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Books, eBooks, and more from Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Poster Title: “When you employ a foreigner, check their Zairyuu Card!  Employers will also be punished for employing illegal workers!!” Ministry of Justice, Tokyo Regional Immigration Services Bureau. Photo from Hiroo Subway Station, June 16, 2021, courtesy of K on Twitter.

Hi Blog. As you may have heard, the Justice Ministry has enabled the general public to collect your personal data from your “Gaijin Cards” via downloadable app. That’s the subject of my most recent SNA column, out today. Opening:

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Visible Minorities: Gaijin Card Reader App Obliterates Privacy
By Debito Arudou
Shingetsu News Agency, June 21, 2021

“Privacy in Japan… is not being seen.”

This quote, usually attributed to former US Ambassador to Japan Edwin O. Reischauer, was made in the context of an overcrowded Japan in his day, used to explain the stark difference between public and private behaviors of Japanese (sneaking off, for example, to love hotels for a bit of private time).

But privacy is taken quite seriously in Japan, especially if it will damage a reputation. Television broadcasts of criminal suspects on perp walks often have their handcuffs blurred, since the person hasn’t been convicted yet. Media reporting on businesses accused of unsavory activities (such as food poisoning or putting up “Japanese Only” signs) often refuse to report their company names so it doesn’t adversely affect their sales. Even people who park their cars in those love hotels may find themselves in a parking garage with curtains, or with their license plates covered up by pieces of plywood provided by the establishment.

So why doesn’t this concern for privacy apply to foreign residents? (Examples of egregious violations of privacy by nationality, contrasted with all the legal protections for citizens, follow. Then we get to the new Gaijin Card Reader App…)
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Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/06/21/visible-minorities-gaijin-card-reader-app-obliterates-privacy/

Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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My SNA Visible Minorities column 22: “Interrogating the Discriminatory Covid Self-Quarantine Scandal”, May 17, 2021

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Hi Blog. Hello Debito.org Newsletter Readers. This month’s SNA Visible Minorities column 22 updates us on how Japan’s discriminatory border policies disproportionately punish Non-Japanese residents, even when things that are going wrong are due to government mismanagement. Paraphrased excerpt:

==============================
Visible Minorities: Interrogating the Discriminatory Covid Self-Quarantine Scandal
By Debito Arudou, May 17, 2021 (condensed intro)

SNA (Tokyo) — Sometimes government-designed policies lack sense. Or, in places where the government is as unaccountable as Japan’s, policymakers ignore cautions—-or don’t get cautioned at all because a docile mass media is mobilized behind a national goal. So when things go wrong, very bad things can happen, especially when punishments for noncompliance only go one way and hurt innocent people.

That is what’s in the cards yet again with Japan’s Covid border controls. The current policy is that if you are a resident of Japan returning from overseas, you face a mandatory self-quarantine system. Everyone, regardless of nationality, signs must notify the authorities of their current location each day. If not, authorities will contact them via Skype, WhatsApp video call, or by voice cell phone number.

If you are found to be breaking quarantine as a Japanese, you get your name exposed to the public. However, foreign residents will lose everything—their lives, livelihoods, and anything they ever invested in Japan—by getting deported. So with punishments this disproportionate, the government had better make sure nothing goes wrong. Guess what? Things are going wrong, and it’s the government’s fault…
==============================

Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/05/17/visible-minorities-interrogating-the-discriminatory-quarantine-scandal/

Links to sources cited in the full article:  Kyodo News May 1, Japan Times May 12, MOFA self-quarantine pledge.

Enjoy! Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
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SNA Visible Minorities 21: “A Retrospective on 25 Years of Activism”, April 19, 2021

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Books, eBooks, and more from Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (click on icon):
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SNA — I’ve been involved in activism in Japan for many years. Indeed so many that my online archive of work, Debito.org, just turned 25 years old last week. With that in mind, I’d like to devote this column to a retrospective of the past quarter century: What, if anything, has Debito.org contributed to help make conditions for Non-Japanese residents and Visible Minorities better?

Debito.org first went live on April 15, 1996, during the earlier days of the World Wide Web, as a means to respond to online bulletin board critics. When topics came up over and again, I’d just archive a previous essay on Debito.org and send a link. After a couple hundred essays were organized into general information sites, Debito.org became a platform for issues involving foreign residents of Japan.

The first major issue I took up was “Academic Apartheid” in Japan’s universities. This is where all Japanese full-time faculty were granted contract-free tenure from day one of employment, while all foreign academics, despite many being better qualified than their Japanese counterparts, got perpetual ninkisei contracts (some of them term-limited) without the opportunity for tenure.

I discovered a “smoking gun” one day in my university mailbox: A paper directive from the Ministry of Education encouraging national and public universities to fire their older foreign professors by not renewing their contracts. I scanned it, archived it, and sent a link to prominent advocates like Ivan P. Hall (author of Cartels of the Mind) for further exposure. It turns out that a government demanding their universities axe all their foreigners over forty is state-sponsored discrimination, and it blew up into an international issue that even then-US Ambassador Walter Mondale took up.

All of that information is still up on Debito.org today, and it turns out that a permanent archive that is searchable, citable, with context and without paywall, is a valuable resource, especially as many unscrupulous people would rather have a history of their actions and policies disappear into the ether. Once archived on Debito.org, it didn’t. Soon other issues on Debito.org garnered national and international attention, even generating public policy movements…

Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/04/19/visible-minorities-retrospective-on-25-years-of-activism/

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My SNA VM column 20: “The World’s First ‘Japanese Only’ Olympics?”, on how Japan’s new ban on “overseas spectators” may lead to banning all foreigners (out of linguistics and force of habit) (UPDATED)

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Hi Blog.  Here’s an excerpt of my latest Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities column 20. Have a read before it goes behind paywall, and please subscribe if you want to see the rest of their articles — it’s but a dollar a week, and it supports progressive journalism. Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities: The World’s First “Japanese Only” Olympics?
Shingetsu News Agency, March 15, 2021, By Debito Arudou

SNA (Tokyo) — Reuters and Kyodo recently reported that Japan is banning “foreign spectators” (or “overseas spectators”) from the Tokyo Olympics: “The government has concluded that welcoming fans from abroad is not possible given concerns among the Japanese public over the coronavirus and the fact that more contagious variants have been detected in many countries.”

Blogging about this at Debito.org, I worried aloud that excluding all “foreign spectators” would be interpreted to mean all foreigners, including Non-Japanese living in Japan. But commenters (some of whom already have tickets or will be volunteering to help) were quick to stress that the “overseas” wording meant only foreign tourists, not them.

But I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

Granted, the original wording in Japanese is kaigai kara no ippan kankyaku (regular spectators from overseas), not “foreigners” (gaikokujin). But words matter, especially when you’re categorizing people, and doing it wrong will lead to discrimination.

I think Japan will do it wrong, due to linguistics and force of habit…

Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/03/15/the-worlds-first-japanese-only-olympics/

(Read a rough draft of the contents of this article before it became my SNA column at http://www.debito.org/?p=16480)

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UPDATE MARCH 20, 2021: The NYT reports that it’s a done deal now. The IOC has approved the exclusion of all “spectators from overseas”. And it’s just being passed off as a “concession to the realities of the pandemic”. Its possibly problematic enforcement in terms of NJ Residents is not touched upon — more focus is on the plight of overseas ticket holders. — Debito

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Spectators From Overseas Are Barred From Tokyo Olympics
The move, announced Saturday, is a significant concession to the realities of the pandemic, even as organizers remain determined to hold the Games this summer.

By Motoko Rich and Ben Dooley
New York Times, March 20, 2021
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/20/world/asia/tokyo-olympics-spectators.html

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

JOC’s official statement on this:

ABOUT THE GAMES
Statement on Overseas Spectators for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020
Japan Olympic Committee 20 MAR 2021, courtesy of BM
https://tokyo2020.org/en/news/statement-on-overseas-spectators-for-the-olympic-and-paralympic-games-tokyo-2020

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SNA VM 19: “Yoshiro Mori’s Overdue Comeuppance”, Feb 15, 2021, on how the former Japan Olympics Chair melded misogyny with racism — for decades!

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Hi Blog. My latest Shingetsu News Agency column recounts former Prime Minister and professional bigot Mori Yoshiro’s tenure as Japan representative, and the mystery behind Japan’s consistent waste of talent in favor of hopelessly incompetent and elitist old men. Enjoy. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities 19: Yoshiro Mori’s Overdue Comeuppance
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, February 15, 2021
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/02/15/visible-minorities-yoshiro-moris-overdue-comeuppance/

SNA (Tokyo) — When I started writing this month’s column, Yoshiro Mori, an 83-year-old fossil of Japanese politics, was still president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organising Committee, where he had come under fire for comments claiming that women in leadership positions “talk too much,” cluttering meetings with competitive chatter. He has since resigned, but in the wake has come much media commentary about Japan’s sexism and women’s disenfranchisement.

Photos appeared showing meetings of top-level Japan business organizations (such as Keidanren) that look like old-boy clubs. Pundits noted that Japan has slipped in the World Economic Forum’s gender-empowerment index to 121st place out of 153 countries measured (the lowest amongst the developed countries, behind China, Zimbabwe, Brunei, and Myanmar). And my favorite: Japan idiotically sending a man (Kono Taro) to the world’s first meeting of women foreign ministers in 2018.

All this has occurred despite former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s much-touted policy of unlocking the women workforce as the “greatest potential for the growth of the Japanese economy.” He would create “a society in which women can shine.” Mori’s sexist comments make clear that hasn’t happened.

So let’s focus on what Mori himself represented: the worst of Japan’s politics, melding misogyny with racism…
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Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/02/15/visible-minorities-yoshiro-moris-overdue-comeuppance/

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities column 18: “Latest visa rules could purge any foreigner” (Jan 18, 2021), on how Covid countermeasures disproportionately target Non-Japanese against all science or logic

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Books, eBooks, and more from Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (click on icon):
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Hi Blog. My latest SNA column’s point is this: Even after political leadership has finally shed Shinzo Abe, the Japanese government has found new ways to discriminate against foreign residents of Japan. This is no accident, as NJ were in no way protected, considered, or involved in this policymaking that profoundly affects them.  Soon, any foreign resident of Japan may be under threat of immediate deportation. Excerpt follows, full article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/01/18/visible-minorities-latest-visa-rules-could-purge-any-foreigner/  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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“Latest visa rules could purge any foreigner”

Shingetsu News Agency, Visible Minorities column 18, January 18, 2021

[…] New year, new salvo of foreigner bashing: Last week, the Suga administration unveiled re-entry rules that permit non-Japanese residents to re-enter the same as Japanese, as long as they completed the same paperwork and fourteen-day quarantine.

Good, but here’s the wrinkle: If you are found in violation of any quarantine regulations, you don’t just get in trouble like Japanese by, err, having your name made public. You may lose your visa status and get deported from the country. You read that right.

This policy was in reaction to the discovery of the United Kingdom mutation of Covid within Japan this month. But like most policy created in times of shock, it has hasty assumptions: that a foreign variant meant that foreigners were somehow responsible. In fact, the Patient Zeroes who came back from England and went out partying instead of quarantining were Japanese.

This new policy is ironic. In addition to the past year of Japanese media blaming foreigners for creating “foreign clusters,” it also ignores the lazy government response to Covid. Nobody at the national level wanted to take the responsibility for declaring a blanket state of emergency. But since infections have now reached record numbers, here comes the crackdown—and once again foreigners are being disproportionately targeted.

Granted, the government is now threatening to mete out jail time and fines for Japanese who don’t cooperate with measures to reduce Covid’s spread. This has occasioned the perfunctory hand-wringing about the effectiveness of punishment in curbing infections and “infringing too much on personal freedoms” for Japanese. I see that as part of the healthy give-and-take of political debate, to make sure things don’t go too far. But where is the parallel debate about the “freedoms” of non-Japanese residents who are receiving unequal treatment under the law?

A Japanese getting a fine or a spell in the clink is one thing, but it’s incomparable to a foreigner losing their legal status gleaned after years or decades of residency, followed by deportation and permanent separation from their lives, livelihoods, and families in Japan.

We know that one of the reasons Covid became a pandemic is because of asymptomatic transmission. So what if a person who doesn’t know they’re sick and hasn’t left the country gets linked to a cluster by contact tracing? If that somebody happens to be a foreigner, his or her life in Japan may well be over…

Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/01/18/visible-minorities-latest-visa-rules-could-purge-any-foreigner/
======================
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My Japan Times JBC 119: Top 5 Human Rights Issues of 2020: “A Watershed Year for Japan’s Foreign Residents” (Dec. 31, 2020)

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======================
Hi Blog.  Happy New Year!  As has happened at the Japan Times for more than a decade, here is my annual countdown of the top human rights issues for the past year in terms of their impact on NJ Residents in Japan.

I usually do a Top Ten, but since I only had 1000 words this year, it became a Top Five with a few “bubble unders” snuck in.  Enjoy!  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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justbecauseicon.jpg

2020 was a watershed year for Japan’s foreign residents
By Debito Arudou, The Japan Times, Just Be Cause, Dec 31, 2020

“May you live in interesting times,” goes the famous curse. By that standard, 2020 was captivating. One thing affected everyone worldwide: COVID-19. And in Japan, our international community was hit particularly hard by public policy regarding its containment.

There were many other issues worth mentioning, however. For example, the Education Ministry announced an increased budget for language support in schools for non-Japanese children next year — a promising sign. However, Japan’s continued mistreatment of those kept in immigration detention centers, and an officially acknowledged incident of “hate speech” in Kitakyushu that went unpunished, were also steps backward from the goal of an inclusionary society.

We don’t have space for them all, so below are the top five issues I feel were of greatest impact to Japan’s non-Japanese residents in 2020, in ascending order.

5) Black Lives Matter in Japan…

Read the rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/12/31/issues/japan-2020-foreign-resident-issues/

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The issues that bubbled under (with links to sources):

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities 17: NIKE JAPAN Advertisement on Japan’s Visible Minorities does some good (Dec 21, 2020)

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Books, eBooks, and more from Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (click on icon):
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Hi Blog. As promised in a previous blog entry, I would be giving my opinion on a recent advertisement from Nike Japan that got a lot of attention. We’ve already debated the ad itself on Debito.org here. Thanks for your feedback. Now here’s my take, as part of my latest Shingetsu News Agency column. Enjoy. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities: Nike Japan Does Some Good
Shingetsu News Agency, DEC 21, 2020 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/12/21/visible-minorities-nike-japan-does-some-good/

SNA (Tokyo) — Nike’s television advertisement depicting a multiethnic Japan stands out as a bright spot to close out the dreadful year of 2020.

Entitled “We Will Continue Moving: Myself and the Future,” the two-minute ad depicts a series of diverse Asian youths pensive about their lives in Japan.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G02u6sN_sRc

Some are running about and kicking soccer balls while musing about their identity and their abilities. A voiceover has them wondering if they’re “normal,” or living up to expectations. One girl, shown in closeup in a school uniform, is clearly a Japanese with African roots. Another boy, after eating a Korean meal with his family, looks up the Zainichi issue late at night on his cellphone. Tennis champ Naomi Osaka’s photo makes a fleeting appearance, with a question about whether she’s American or Japanese. A girl finds Japan’s culture of cuteness doesn’t resonate with her, and wishes she could just ignore it all. Another girl gets glares for going out in public in her Korean school uniform. After more cuts to kids practicing their sports skills, scenes follow of school crowds staring and group-bullying minorities. One lad, drawn attention to by the teacher in class as a new transfer student, feels pressure to be liked by everyone. Another isolated kid feels pressure to tolerate her ostracisation, and then the African-Japanese girl reappears, trying to ignore the other kids who are making a fuss about her kinky hair in a school bathroom. As the music swells, these kids then seek solace in sports, becoming appreciated by their peers for their talents as star athletes—to the point where one girl tapes “KIM” over her Japanese name on the back of her jersey.

The takeaway message in a final montage of voices is the treatment they’re getting is not something they should have to tolerate. They shouldn’t have to wait for a world where they can live “as is,” without concealing themselves.

Now, before I say why this advertisement is important, let’s acknowledge some caveats. One is that this is from Nike Japan, and like all corporations their motivation is to make money. It is a stunt to attract attention and sell products.

Moreover, Nike taking a high road with social justice issues is a bit ironic, given their history of child labor and sweatshops. Above all, human rights and business do not always mix well, and businesspeople are essentially opportunists. So let’s first not delude ourselves to think Nike is primarily motivated by altruism.

The other point worth mentioning is the attention that the ad got: 11 million views so far on YouTube. Naturally, internet trolls, xenophobes, and haters got triggered. Unfortunately, even responsible media (such as the AFP and BBC) gave them oxygen by reporting their overblown calls for a boycott, then fumbled the issue by getting soundbites from unqualified “experts” with no real training in Japan’s history of civil rights, social movements, or race relations issues. These rubes missed the mark by denouncing Nike Japan as a “foreign brand,” or dismissing these kids as “outside voices.”

This is worse than just lazy journalist hackery. This fumble was a missed opportunity to highlight issues that have long been ignored in Japan’s media—the existence of a growing number of visible minorities. So let’s make up for that in this column by acknowledging that Nike Japan’s ad was a big step in the right direction.

First, let’s recap how big 2020 was for minorities in Japan sports:

Rest of the article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/12/21/visible-minorities-nike-japan-does-some-good/

Read it before it goes behind a paywall on Friday.

======================
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My latest SNA VM column 16: “US Elections Repudiate Trump’s Japan-Style Ethnostate”, suggesting that the US might be taking real steps towards a post-racial society, Nov. 16, 2020

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Visible Minorities 16: US Elections Repudiate Trump’s Japan-Style Ethnostate
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, November 16, 2020

SNA (Tokyo) — The US elections captured the world’s attention. No wonder. Given America’s hegemony as an economic, political, cultural, and military power, the results underpin the future of geopolitics and world order.

But here’s another angle: This election offers the world some insights into how countries painfully evolve into multiethnic, post-racial societies. It even demonstrated how enfranchised people would rather destroy their governing system than relinquish power.

Fortunately, they didn’t win. Let’s recount some important facts.

The contest between incumbent Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was indeed, as depicted in campaign slogans, a battle for the “soul of America.”

At stake was whether Trump’s nepotistic, corrupt administration—one that shamelessly used whatever means they could to perpetuate their power, punish political enemies, and undermine democracy both domestic and worldwide—would get four more years; or whether America’s place as a world leader, for better or worse, would be restored to less capricious leadership, with policymaking sane enough to keep its own citizens alive in a self-inflicted pandemic.

Clearly American voters chose the latter course; Biden won. He got five million more votes in an election where more people voted for a president than ever before, with voting rates on track to be among the highest in modern US history. […]

[There are of course some caveats, and] given the current status of Trump refusing to concede the election, and his lackeys interfering with a transition to the presumptive winner, it’s clear that no matter who wins, Republicans feel they are the only ones entitled to run the country. They view cheating, sabotage, soliciting foreign interference, and spreading unscientific conspiracy theories as fair play. The United States’ 233-year experiment in democracy be damned; 73 million voters in this election agreed with Trump’s authoritarianism. The intractable polarization of American politics is complete.

Still, the fact remains that this election was a repudiation of Trump, and, in retrospect, it’s a textbook example of democracy in action. […]

Ultimately, the history books will remember this about the past four years: Trump was the worst president in American history—the only one who was impeached, served only one term, and lost the popular vote. Twice.

Well, good for the United States. But there are also lessons here for Japan, particularly its minorities: how countries make slow and painful transitions to a post-racial society…

Read the rest on SNA at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/11/16/visible-minorities-us-elections-repudiate-trumps-japan-style-ethnostate/

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My SNA Visible Minorities 15: “New Covid Foreign Resident Re-Entry Rules Still Racist”, on how they are actually a natural outcome of Japan’s bullying bureaucracy (Oct. 19, 2020)

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

Hi Blog.  Here’s my latest Shingetsu News Agency “Visible Minorities” column 15.  Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

=========================
Visible Minorities: New Covid Foreign Resident Re-Entry Rules Still Racist
OCT 19, 2020 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/10/19/visible-minorities-new-covid-foreign-resident-re-entry-rules-still-racist/

SNA (Tokyo) — Sometime during your life in Japan, you will probably feel a chilling attitude in Japan’s bureaucracy: as a foreign resident, you don’t really matter. To Japan’s policymakers, you’re at best an existence to be tolerated, at worst an unpredictable element that needs constant policing.

You’ll see it in things like Japan’s special foreign registry systems, or the “Gaijin Cards” that must be carried 24-7 and leave you vulnerable to random street ID checks by racist cops.

But you might not have realized until recently the most dehumanizing tenet of all: That foreigners should have no legal expectation to belong here.

Japan’s Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that Japan’s foreign residents have no “right of sojourn,” i.e., to leave Japan temporarily and expect to return. (Japan Times columnist Colin Jones called it a “reverse Hotel California”–you can leave any time you like, but can never check back in.)

That means that even if you invested your entire life in Japan, married a Japanese, had children, paid taxes, bought property, started a business, and even achieved Permanent Residency (which by definition should be a legitimate claim to reside here forever), nothing you did matters. You cross the border, you’re out.

Hypothetically, if push comes to shove, a Permanent Resident will have the same status as any foreign tourist at the border.

Well, that hypothetical came true last April when, due to Covid, Japan decided to bar all foreigners from re-entering Japan–even though Japanese could still return and merely quarantine. No other developed country does this, and there is no science indicating that Japanese passports offer enhanced epidemiological protection. It was purely arbitrary.

So foreign residents found themselves stranded overseas apart from their Japanese families, or watched helplessly from Japan as their overseas kith and kin died. This heartless and explicit racism attracted significant international attention, so from October 1, Japan announced it would open its borders to foreign residents under certain conditions.

But it turns out that, realistically, these conditions are still a ban…. By arbitrarily creating a tight 72-hour hour window requiring special paperwork unattuned to the realities of Covid testing overseas (especially when the test is meaningless if you get infected on the plane), Japan’s bureaucrats merely deflected international criticism from its regular racism by replacing it with new, improved racism.

Read the entire article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/10/19/visible-minorities-new-covid-foreign-resident-re-entry-rules-still-racist/

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My latest SNA VM column 14: “Visible Minorities: Weaponizing the Japanese Language”, on how Foreign Minister Motegi’s discriminatory treatment of Japan Times reporter Magdalena Osumi is part of a bigger phenomenon, Sept 21, 2020

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Hi Blog. My latest Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities column 14 discusses how Japan weaponizes its language to require “perfect Japanese” from non-native speakers only, and when they can’t speak it perfectly, they get discriminated against. Consider this:

===================================
Visible Minorities: Weaponizing the Japanese Language
Shingetsu News Agency, SEP 21, 2020 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN

http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/09/21/visible-minorities-weaponizing-the-japanese-language/

On August 28, Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s foreign minister, was giving an official press conference to reporters in Japanese. A foreign reporter for Japan Times, Magdalena Osumi, asked some questions in Japanese. When Osumi followed up on a point he left unclear, Motegi responded to her in English.

Osumi then retorted in Japanese, “You needn’t treat me like I’m stupid. If we’re talking in Japanese, please answer in Japanese.” Damn right.

How many times has this happened to you? You ask a question in Japanese of a shop keep, clerk, passerby, or somebody on the other end of a telephone, and they flake out because you got some words in the wrong order, had an accent, or just have a foreign face? Many automatically assume that because you’re foreign-looking or -sounding, you must be able to speak English. So they reply in English.

Or how many times, as a budding Japanese language learner, were you told that what you just said “is not Japanese,” not “it’s not correct Japanese”? Just a flat-out denial, as if your attempt is in some alien tongue, like Klingon.

This phenomenon, where it’s either “perfect Japanese” or you get linguistically gaijinized, is odd. It’s also based upon a myth…
===================================

Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/09/21/visible-minorities-weaponizing-the-japanese-language/

The video of that Motegi press conference is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdlt9n5FDUU (watch from around minute 2 onwards)

Other sources within the SNA article:

Japan Times: In case you missed it: Trump’s awkward response to a Japanese reporter:
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/08/world/politics-diplomacy-world/in-case-you-missed-it-trumps-awkward-response-to-a-japanese-reporter/ 

Mainichi: Minister under fire for questioning foreign journalist’s Japanese at press conf.
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200902/p2a/00m/0na/009000c

======================
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Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities 13: “Japan’s Cult of Miserable Happy”, Aug 24, 2020, questioning whether “omotenashi” Japan is actually all that hospitable to anyone, what with such a strong “culture of no”

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (click on icon):
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Hi Blog. Here’s my latest column. Enjoy the rest of your summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

/////////////////////////////////////
Visible Minorities: Japan’s Cult of Miserable Happy
Shingetsu News Agency, Column 13, AUG 24, 2020
By DEBITO ARUDOU
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/08/24/visible-minorities-japans-cult-of-miserable-happy/

…These are sobering times for Japan fans. Thanks to the pandemic, even the most starry-eyed and enfranchised foreigners are having their bubbles burst, realizing that their status in Japan, no matter how hard-earned, matters not one whit to Japan’s policymakers.

As covered elsewhere, current immigration policy dictates that Japanese citizens can leave and re-enter the country at will, as long as they subject themselves to testing and quarantine upon return. But that doesn’t apply to Japan’s resident non-citizens.

Despite widespread protest (and some token revisions), they still generally get barred from re-entry, meaning thousands of foreign workers, spouses, and students are either stranded overseas, watching helplessly as their Japan livelihoods and investments dry up, or stranded in Japan unable to attend to family business or personal tragedy, at a time when thousands of people worldwide die of Covid daily.

Targeting all foreigners only as vessels of virus makes it clearer than ever that Japan’s requirements for membership are racist. It strips yet another layer of credibility from the “Cool Japan” trope, such as the overhyped “culture of hospitality” (omotenashi) during Japan’s buildup to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Since this is an opportune time to remove layers of lies from Japan’s narrative, let’s address another one: That Japan is an unusually hospitable place…

Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/08/24/visible-minorities-japans-cult-of-miserable-happy/

======================
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“A Despotic Bridge Too Far”, Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 12 on Japan’s racist blanket ban on Foreign Resident re-entry, July 20, 2020

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Visible Minorities Column 12: A Despotic Bridge Too Far
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, July 20, 2020

http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/07/20/visible-minorities-a-despotic-bridge-too-far/

SNA (Tokyo) — How bad does it have to get? I’m talking about Japan’s cruelty and meanness towards its Non-Japanese residents. How bad before people think to step in and stop it?

I think we now have an answer to that due to Japan’s recent policy excluding only foreigners from re-entry at its border, even if they’ve lived here for decades, as a by-product of the Covid-19 pandemic. Japanese re-entrants get let in after testing and quarantine; no other G7 country excludes all foreigners only.

Consequently, many Non-Japanese residents found themselves stranded overseas, separated from their Japanese families, lives and livelihoods, watching their investments dry up and visa clocks run out without recourse. Or perhaps found themselves stranded within Japan, as family members abroad died, and the prospect of attending their funeral or taking care of personal matters in person would mean exile.

However, protests against this policy have been unusually mainstream, including institutions who have been for generations largely silent regarding other forms of discrimination towards foreigners in Japan. Consider these examples of how institutionalized and embedded racism is in Japan:

You’re probably aware that Japan has long advertised itself as a “monocultural, homogeneous society,” denying that minorities, racial or ethnic, exist within it. But did you know that Japan still refuses to include Non-Japanese residents as “people” in its official population tallies? Or to list them on official family registries as “spouses” of Japanese? Or that Japan’s constitution expressly reserves equality under the law for Japanese citizens (kokumin) in its Japanese translation? This complicates things for all Non-Japanese residents to this day…

Read the entire article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/07/20/visible-minorities-a-despotic-bridge-too-far/

======================
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SNA Visible Minorities Column 11: Advice to Activists in Japan in general (in the wake of the emergence of the Black Lives Matter Japan Movement), June 22, 2020.

mytest

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Visible Minorities: Advice to Activists in Japan
Shingetsu News Agency, Visible Minorities Column 11, June 22, 2020
By Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/06/22/visible-minorities-advice-to-activists-in-japan/.

SNA (Tokyo) — Sparked by the George Floyd murder by police in America last month, street protests against official violence towards minorities and disenfranchised peoples have sprung up worldwide.

Japan has been no exception. Within recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations, a wider range of people are finally decrying, for example, the Japanese police’s racial profiling and violence towards visible minorities.

I’ve talked about these and other issues for years, devoting significant space both on Debito.org and in my book Embedded Racism: Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination. That said, it should be noted that my position in Japan as a white male with naturalized Japanese citizenship has provided me significant privilege; in all humility I am not in the best position to offer advice to people who have the right (nay, obligation) to create their own identities, narratives, and agendas as they see best.

Nevertheless, this column would like to point out some of the pitfalls that activists may face in Japanese society, based upon my experience fighting against racial discrimination here for nearly thirty years. Please read them in the helpful spirit they are intended:

1) Remember that, in Japan, activists are seen as extremists

Japan has a long history of activism and protest. However, the historical narrative generally portrays activists (katsudouka) as radical, destructive elements (kagekiha), most famously the Japanese Red Army; the Revolutionary Communist League, National Committee (Chukakuha); the Japan Revolutionary Communist League, Revolutionary Marxist Faction (Kakumaruha); or even just labor unions like the Japan Teachers’ Union (Nikkyoso). If you’re out there protesting, you’re automatically seen by many Japanese as angry, unapproachable, and unable to be reasoned with.

Furthermore, public demonstrations are treated with undue alarm. They’re not, for example, normalized as a phase college kids go through and grow out of. In fact, youth might become unemployable if they carry on beyond college. That’s why high-profile student group Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs) disbanded as soon as their leaders approached the job market.

Additionally, the government has a long history of suppressing voices from the left more than the racket from rightwing conservatives and reactionaries, as seen in their regular rounds of unfettered sound trucks. It’s not an even playing field for human-rights advocates. That’s why there arguably isn’t a successful example of leftist protests ever decisively changing the course of government in Japan. (Contrast that with, say, the anti-Vietnam protests of the 1960s, so romanticized in Western media, which even undermined presidents overseas.)

The result is that the average person in Japan, especially your employer, will need to be convinced that what you’re doing is at all necessary, not to mention has a snowball’s chance of succeeding. Be prepared to do that.

2) Keep the debate focused on how discrimination affects everyone in Japan

One problem with protests for equal rights for “foreigners” is an assumption that the problem must be exogenous. It runs deeper than the sentiments of a) “foreigners are only ‘guests’ here, so they shouldn’t be rude to their ‘hosts’ by protesting,” or b) “if only you weren’t here disrupting our homogeneous society, your problem would just go away.” It’s again a problem with narrative.

Discrimination, particularly “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu), is generally taught in Japanese schools as something other countries do towards people with different skin color, notably US Segregation and South African Apartheid. Thanks to the daily mantras about our alleged monocultural, monoethnic “island society” closed off from the world for a zillion years, Japan generally doesn’t see how “race” could be a factor here. The logic is that homogeneous Japan has no races, therefore no “race relations” problems like other countries. The Japanese government has made precisely this argument to the United Nations.

That’s one reason why Japanese media reflexively deflects the issue into terms like “foreigner discrimination” (gaikokujin sabetsu), “ethnic discrimination” (minzoku sabetsu), or merely “cultural differences” (ibunka no chigai). All of these concepts miss the point that racial discrimination is in fact a longstanding domestic issue.

So refocus the issue back on the process of racialization. Reiterate at every opportunity that this is “racial discrimination,” and stress how, thanks to generations of naturalization and international marriage, there are plenty of Japanese citizens with diverse roots. Thus discrimination against “foreigners” also affects hundreds of thousands of Japanese people.

After all, Japanese society gloms onto “racial discrimination” against Japanese citizens abroad with a surprising amount of passion. So point out that it’s happening here too. And you’ll have to do it again and again, because you will have to convince a surprising number of people who refuse to believe that racism even exists in Japan.

3) Be wary of being fetishized

Remember that a certain degree of social resonance you may be feeling in your crowd is likely not the feeling of acceptance you might want; it is not equal footing with Japanese citizens. People often join in since protesting is “cool” because “foreigners are cool” or “pitiable” (kawaisou).

There is plenty of scholarly research (read Marvin D. Sterling’s Babylon East, for example) on how Japanese adopt “foreign cultures” only on a topical level, meaning without much interest in the actual mindset or experience of being a visible minority in Japan.

Collaborate with whoever shows up, of course. Just don’t get your hopes up too far. Some people who seem like supporters might only be fair-weather groupies. So don’t rely on them too much when it comes time for them to commit their names or faces in public.

4) Be ready for the long haul

Success, of course, requires not only widespread support in Japan, but also assistance from fellow Japanese human-rights activists. They are very practiced and determined, having done this sort of thing for decades. But remember: Activist groups in Japan are very cliquey. Often the barriers for entry and being accepted as “one of us” are pretty high.

Even though, at first, being seen as “pitiable” works in your favor, remember that the default attitude towards people seen as “foreigners” is “someone here only for the short-term.”

What I mean is “foreigners” are often treated like exotic birds, as something to study because you alighted on their balcony and have interesting plumage to look at. So they give you their attention for as long as you’re around. But once it seems you’ve flitted off, you’re quickly forgotten as merely a phase or a pastime. Then things reset back to the ingrained narratives of Japan as homogeneous and foreigners as temporary.

The only way you can defy that is by showing how deeply you’ve committed yourself to this issue for as long as possible, as people in those activist groups have. They’ve made this rallying cause a life mission, and they’ll expect you to as well. Otherwise, you’re just a fickle foreign hobbyist and doors slam.

Moreover, be careful of the “get in line” attitude that one (rightly) receives from other minorities in Japan (such as the Zainichi Koreans). They have been here much longer, fought much harder, and sacrificed more simply to exist in Japan. Avoid the one-upmanships over “who’s the bigger victim here?”

Instead, focus on what you all have in common: perpetual disenfranchisement, and how you have to work together to overcome that to make Japan a better place for everyone. Remember that power surrenders nothing without a fight, so dissolving into disagreeing leftist factions is precisely what the powerful want. The status quo wins by default that way.

5) Control your own narrative

Finally, don’t rely on people who aren’t in your position to understand or promote your narrative. Do it yourselves. Organize your own press conferences. Make sure that everything you release to the public and media is also in Japanese, and have some prominent public spokespeople who are minorities. It’s your voice. Don’t let even the best-intentioned interpreters and interlocutors inadvertently dilute it.

For example, last month, the people of diverse roots who spoke out fluently against the Shibuya police roughing up a Kurdish person were excellent examples of how to do it right. They were very effective in getting the message out both to print and broadcast media. More of that, please.

There you go: five pitfalls I might suggest you avoid. I hope you find them useful, even if I have a very limited understanding of what you’re going through. In any case, it’s your time and your social movement. I wish you success, and thanks for reading.  ENDS

For breaking news, follow on Twitter @ShingetsuNews

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities col 10: “The Guestists and the Collaborators”, May 18, 2020, on how long-term NJ leverage their newfound privilege against other NJ Residents (e.g., Donald Keene, Tsurunen Marutei, and Oussouby Sacko)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s my latest Shingetsu News Agency monthly “Visible Minorities” column 10, talking about how some minorities in Japan sell out to authority as soon as they are granted any privilege.  I mention former Diet Member Tsurunen Marutei, Japan scholar Donald Keene, and Kyoto Seika University President Oussouby Sacko, and how they are now ironically perpetuating problems they once faced.  Here are the opening paragraphs. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

(And if you haven’t subscribed for Japan’s last bastion of independent journalism in English at SNA, I strongly suggest you do.  In any case, check out this article before it goes behind a paywall in a few days.)  

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Visible Minorities: The Guestists and the Collaborators

SNA (Tokyo) — In a recent SNA Speakeasy on “Foreign Residents in the Coronavirus Era,” I argued that Non-Japanese (NJ) must band together and be vocal about claiming what’s due them as taxpayers. We shouldn’t wait for the government to deign to divvy out what it thinks foreigners want, as if it’s the omotenashi (hospitality) Japan offers any guest. Instead, NJ residents should be telling the government what they want, on their terms; trying to influence policy agendas that affect them by, for example, participating in local government forums and policy deliberation councils (shingikai).

People have been advocating this for years. Why isn’t it happening as often as it should? Because NJ (especially those in the English-language communities) collectively suffer from something I call “guestism”: falling for the fiction that they are merely “guests” in Japan subject to the whims of the Japanese “hosts.” Their mantra is “It’s their country, not mine. Who am I to tell them what to do?

Still, eventually some NJ live here long enough, develop deep connections and language abilities, and even become Japanese citizens. Some transform into community leaders, prominent business owners and spokespeople, media mavens, and elected officials. They are definitely no longer “guests.”

But once they earn due respect and authority, another problem comes up: Many squander their position by becoming “collaborators.”

Instead of using their power for good, such as showing other NJ how to follow in their footsteps and to assimilate and enfranchise themselves, collaborators pull the ladder up behind them. They actively consort with the powers-that-be to preserve their privilege and to undermine other NJ Residents.

For example, consider Marutei Tsurunen, Donald Keene, and Oussouby Sacko…

Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/05/18/visible-minorities-the-guestists-and-the-collaborators/

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Debito interviewed by Shingetsu News Agency’s “Speakeasy” forum: “Japan’s Foreign Residents in the Coronavirus”, Apr 27, 2020

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

Hi Blog.  In lieu of a longer blog entry, here’s an interview I had with the Shingetsu News Agency, in one of their “Speakeasys” (25 minutes):

I’m making the case that the GOJ could be doing a much worse job taking care of their NJ Residents, but that’s because people have been vigilant about potential human rights abuses. It could very easily revert to racist and exclusionary habits if systems get overloaded or panic hits. Also, I argue that it’s also incumbent upon NJ Residents themselves to step out of their “Guestism” mentalities and claim their due as taxpayers and residents.

(If you haven’t become a supporter of this important (and solitary) venue for independent journalism in Japan, please do. $2 a month gets you access to all articles, including my “Visible Minorities” columns. It’s a worthy venture.)  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Debito’s SNA column: “Pandemic Releases Antibodies toward Non-Japanese”, Visible Minorities col 9, April 20, 2020

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Hi Blog. My regular monthly Visible Minorities column is out at the Shingetsu News Agency, where I talk about how Japan is reverting to exclusionary type (egged on by an unaccountable ruling elite) when dealing with minorities in pandemic times. People in Japan are generally “live and let live” and “keep calm and carry on” when it comes to treating each other. It’s Japan’s incompetent leaders (notably a self-hating haafu American-Japanese politician named Onoda Kimi) who normalize discrimination in the name of shifting blame, I’m arguing. Here’s the column’s opening:

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Pandemic Releases Antibodies toward Non-Japanese
By Debito Arudou
Shingetsu News Agency, Visible Minorities column, April 20, 2020

SNA (Tokyo) — Pandemics can bring out the best in people. Newton came up with theories on calculus, optics, and gravity while in quarantine. Shakespeare wrote some of his best plays, and Edvard Munch created iconic paintings in isolation. Even today, we’re seeing heroes in the health care industry, volunteers sewing and distributing basic personal protective equipment, neighbors checking up on each other, and leaders stepping up their organizational skills. When the daily normal becomes a struggle between life and death, we see what people are really made of.

In Japan, we’re seeing much of the “keep calm and carry on” mettle found in a society girded for frequent natural disasters. But that grit hasn’t trickled upward to Japan’s political elite, which has ruled largely without accountability for generations, and at times like these appears particularly out of touch.

More concerned about the economics of cancelling the Tokyo Olympics than about the safety of the general public, Japan’s policymakers haven’t conducted adequate Covid-19 testing, exercised timely or sufficient social distancing, or even tallied accurate infection statistics.

As happened in prior outbreaks, such as SARS and AIDS, leaders have deflected blame onto foreigners. First China, then outsiders in general, starting with the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship (which, despite a third of its passengers being Japanese citizens, was even excluded from Japan’s coronavirus patient tallies).

But treating outsiders like contagion has consequences: Society develops antibodies, and Japan’s already-normalized discrimination intensifies.

Consider the case of Mio Sugita, a Liberal Democratic Party Lower House Diet Member from Tottori…

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Read the rest here: http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/04/20/visible-minorities-pandemic-releases-antibodies-toward-non-japanese/

Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 8: “No Free Pass for Japan’s Shirking Responsibility”, Mar 16, 2020

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Hi Blog. I know everyone’s talking about the Coronavirus (and I do here too, for a bit). But my latest column backs the lens up to see this all in a larger context of Japan’s perpetual bad habits, and how they get a “free pass” even when those habits have adverse effects on the rest of the world. Especially when Japan is being held up as a model by many as a system that helps the powerful evade responsibility and transfer blame. Have a read.

One more note: Nowhere else in Japan but an independent news press like the Shingetsu News Agency would publish an article like this. This article will be behind a paywall in a few days, so please chip in $5 a month (I pay more) at the venue for access.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities: No Free Pass for Shirking Responsibility
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, VISIBLE MINORITIES COLUMN 8
MARCH 16, 2020 by DEBITO ARUDOU
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/03/16/visible-minorities-no-free-pass-for-shirking-responsibility/

SNA (Tokyo) — There’s an oft-used expression in Japanese: sekinin tenka. Best translated as “passing the buck,” it’s a reflex of dodging blame for one’s own actions by transferring responsibility to others. For too long, Japan has done so on the world stage with impunity—even when it affects the world adversely.

Let’s start with, since it’s timely, the 3.11 Fukushima nuclear meltdown that took place nine years ago this month. While the earthquake and tsunami are not Japan’s fault, situating a nuclear power plant so perilously close to the coastline is; as is the perpetually-botched response of containment and leakage (even the willful dumping) of irradiated water into the Pacific Ocean.

Contrast that with the attention and criticism (and even a TV series) Russia got for Chernobyl, where the situation has finally been contained in a sarcophagus. In Japan, officials instead blamed world standards of safe radiation levels for being alarmist (adjusting them upwards for domestic political purposes) and declared Fukushima produce safe for consumption.

Even more timely is how sekinin tenka influenced Japan’s Covid-19 response…

Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/03/16/visible-minorities-no-free-pass-for-shirking-responsibility/

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities column 7: “Japan’s Botched Response to the Diamond Princess Coronavirus isn’t Racism; it’s Stupidity”, Feb 17, 2020

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Hi Blog. The Diamond Princess cruise ship case (which has been discussed extensively on Debito.org this past week) fell within my SNA monthly column window this time, so here’s my take on it. Enjoy. Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities: Japan’s Botched Response to the Coronavirus
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, Feb 17, 2020

SNA (Tokyo) — The drama of cruise ship Diamond Princess, currently moored at Yokohama and quarantined by Japan’s Health Ministry due to some of the 3,700 passengers and crew testing positive for the coronavirus, is a human rights crisis.

The Covid-19 outbreak that originated in China has killed more than 1700 people and sickened tens of thousands.

Here’s my take: Surprise! I’m not going to argue that the prison-ship conditions are due to racism, but more a matter of official stupidity…
///////////////////////////////////////

Read the rest at the Shingetsu News Agency website:

Visible Minorities: Japan’s Botched Response to the Coronavirus

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My Japan Times JBC 118: “Remain calm when stopped by the police”, on what to do if stopped by Japanese police for an Instant ID Checkpoint, Jan 20, 2020

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Hi Blog.  I’ve written about this many times before, but the JT commissioned me to write up this quick sidebar to a separate article about Japan police racial profiling on a NJ student of color (who has been cited on Debito.org before).

I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no failsafe method that will work in all situations, given the enormous power of policing agencies in Japan.  However, submitting to unlawful and racialized enforcement of the law is not something Debito.org can abide.  So here goes.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
Remain calm when stopped by the police in Japan
BY DEBITO ARUDOU, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, JAN 20, 2020
Courtesy https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/01/20/issues/remain-calm-when-stopped-police-japan/
justbecauseicon.jpg

Visible minorities in Japan are in a tough spot in a country where the police have a lot of arbitrary power and few enforceable checks (as we’ve been witnessing recently with the Carlos Ghosn case). As a result, we are facing two decades of police-promoted narratives of “the foreigner” as a visa overstayer and criminal.

What follows is my advice on what to do if you face a sudden ID check on the street — that is, assuming you don’t want to simply surrender your zairyū kādo (residence card) and eventually get on with your day. This is just a brief outline, you can find more details online at debito.org/whattodoif.html.

  1. Ask why you are being stopped: Ask if this is a “shokumu shitsumon” (police questioning of personal details). If yes, the law requires probable cause that a crime has been or is about to be committed, and the display of POLICE ID upon your request. If it is not, ask if you may leave.
  2. Ask to see their ID: “Sumimasen. Keisatsu techō o misete kudasai” will do. Write it down and/or take a picture of it. This will no doubt agitate, but without this record there is no personal accountability.
  3. Use your phone (or ask a friend) to start recording: You do not need consent and, even if done surreptitiously, a recording is admissible in court. They will tell you to put the phone away, but at least leave the audio on. No recording may result in a “he-said, she-said” outcome and nobody is likely to believe your side. It may also preemptively temper the cops’ behavior somewhat, but there’s no guarantee it won’t go the other way.
  4. Ask if compliance is optional (nin’i desu ka): If they ask to go through your backpack, pockets and wallet, you have the option to refuse the search without a warrant (reijō). Try: “Reijō ga nakereba, kekkō desu.” (“Without a warrant, no thank you.”)
  5. Above all, remain calm and polite, and never raise your voice: That can be difficult when surrounded by a phalanx of suspicious cops. But, as in other societies, the threshold of “resisting arrest” in Japan is arbitrary, and a judge will take the police officer’s word over yours in custody.

Arm yourself with the requisite vocabulary. Demonstrating some fluency with your statutory rights will also act as a natural check on abuses. Cops around the world take advantage of the ignorance of their targets, so if you come off as informed and confident, things might go smoother.

There’s no surefire means of getting out of an ID check (except perhaps getting your own personal chief of police to vouch for you except perhaps getting your own personal chief of police to vouch for you), but doing a few of these things might help you feel less powerless afterward. Good luck.

ENDS

======================
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SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020 (UPDATED with full text)

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Hi Blog.  Here’s my latest column from the Shingetsu News Agency.  Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Visible Minorities: Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move

http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/01/20/visible-minorities-carlos-ghosns-escape-from-japan-was-the-right-move/

SNA (Tokyo) — I have to admit more than a twinge of sympathy for Carlos Ghosn’s Great Escape.

Ghosn, the former CEO of Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault, was arrested in November 2018 on the initial suspicion of falsifying his compensation levels, and subjected to more than a year of Japan’s “hostage justice.” That is, he was held hostage to a judicial system that detains you until you confess to a crime, and subjects you to days, weeks, months, or conceivably even years of interrogation and tortuous conditions until you crack. Understandably, most do crack, and Japan’s conviction rate after indictment is famously more than 99%.

But as you have probably heard, at the end of December Ghosn suddenly turned up in Lebanon, one of three places he has citizenship. Out on bail in Japan, he made a daring escape that people are still trying to piece together, including man-sized musical instrument cases, an uncharacteristic lack of Japanese border security, and a mysterious visit to Lebanon’s president by Japan’s state minister for foreign affairs mere days before Ghosn jumped bail.

Ghosn is now making good on his threat to expose everything that happened to him while in custody. His multilingual press conference in Beirut two weeks ago was breathtaking to watch, full of documentation, pointed fingers, and hot-tongued accusations of the human rights denied to Japan’s incarcerated.

This has been covered exhaustively worldwide, so what more is there to say? My perspective comes as a person who also tried to change Japanese rules and practices, and found that The System similarly fought back dirty.

I’m talking about the Otaru Hot Springs Case.  In 1999, some friends and I challenged Japan’s lack of a law against racial discrimination, as manifest in signs up on businesses nationwide saying “Japanese Only.” Places with these “no foreigners allowed” rules included public bathhouses, restaurants, shops, bars, public facilities, and even hotels, schools, hospitals, realtors, and other public services essential to life in Japan.  People were (and still are) arbitrarily being refused service because they “look foreign” to proprietors, and that includes allegedly “foreign-looking” Japanese citizens.

We first took several exclusionary cases to the court of public opinion, where we had some initial victories (signs coming down and the rules changed).  But soon Japanese media began putting up resistance (similar to what Ghosn noted in his press conference) to reasoned, informed, and factual public debate.

It’s all described in detail in my book “Japanese Only” (ebook available for a buck on Amazon), but some of the media strategies we faced were similar, including:

  1. Media quoting the proponents of the exclusionary status quo at length, less so the arguments of the critics;
  2. Media portraying the proponents as somehow pitiable, as “keepers of the faith” in “traditional Japan.”  Exclusions by physical appearance were soon construed as essentially normal, regular, or even necessary practices that keep Japanese in business;
  3. Media portraying the critics as “Japan bashers,” “Japan haters”, and generally “anti-Japan.”  Moreover, since foreigners were involved in the issue:
  4. Media portraying the issue of as a matter of “cultural misunderstandings by foreigners who don’t understand Japan” and “outsiders and guests disrespectfully telling poor old Japan what to do.”

After that, public debate almost completely elided the issue of racism.  The consequences were that issues of fair and equal treatment under the law were mooted, which affected the judicial outcome when we eventually took this case to court.

This enabling of exclusionism also empowered the militant “netto-uyo” (internet right-wing trolls) to inject anger, fear and loathing into the debate.  Then came the hate mail and death threats (which I still get to this day) to our homes, neighborhoods and workplaces.  With this came the hairy eyeballs from our neighbors and colleagues, meaning it was now somehow our fault for causing all this trouble.  Thus by standing up for our rights, we had brought all this upon ourselves.

Point is, I think Ghosn and I would have a lot to talk about.

Granted, there are caveats to this comparison.  Ghosn’s is a criminal case and ours was civil.  We were not arrested, fired from our jobs (luckily), or put in jail for months.

But I really get Ghosn.  I understand why he decided to do a runner.  It wasn’t just because he was denied access to his wife for months as a means to break him down psychologically.  It wasn’t just because prosecutors have decisive power over the evidence (even exculpatory evidence) submitted to court.  It wasn’t just because they decided to have separate trials for each charge, and the first trial would probably begin in 2021 and then take years.  And it wasn’t just because there is a separate and unequal jurisprudential track for foreigners than for Japanese (as detailed in my book “Embedded Racism”, Chapter 6).

It was that given this level of legalized bullying over the accused in Japan, Ghosn knew he wouldn’t get a fair trial with the presumption of innocence—neither in the courtroom nor in the court of public opinion.  And he was exactly right.

Even Japan’s Justice Minister demanded Ghosn return and “prove his innocence.”  That was not a gaffe.  That’s exactly the system in Japan.  And he would never be able to prove it when the courts and media follow the same presumption:  you got arrested, so you must have done something wrong to bring The System down upon yourself.  You’ll never get a fair hearing because your side will not be heard.  Not within Japan, anyway.  Especially as a foreigner.

I am aware that Ghosn’s skipping bail like this means foreigners will probably never be granted bail again.  (Then again, almost no foreigners are anyway.)   I am also aware that becoming a fugitive from justice just makes you look guiltier.  Moreover, the fact that Ghosn could actually escape is testament to his level of privilege, unlike the multitudes of suspects, foreign and Japanese, caught in the wringer without the wherewithal and connections to flee.

But there is no other way but Ghosn for Japan’s judicial excesses to finally be brought to light in the international arena.  I care less about one rich man’s escaping justice for possible white-collar crimes than about all the innocent people taken hostage by Japan’s unfettered police and sadistic prosecutors, who are less interested in finding the truth than in losing face by losing a case.

For too long now, Japan has gotten a free pass for its human rights abuses and torture of suspects.  Ghosn is in the best position possible to blow the lid off this system and bring international pressure for reforms.

Ghosn can clear his name for his personal benefit if he likes.  But as long as he winds up improving conditions for others incarcerated in Japan, I say support him in this quest.  Let’s see if he can reform Japan’s vicious criminal justice system when we couldn’t reform Japan’s racist social justice system.

ENDS

======================
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My Japan Times JBC column 117: The annual Top Ten for 2019 of human rights issues as they affected NJ residents in Japan, Jan 6, 2020

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Hi Blog and Happy New Year. Here’s my Annual Top Ten for The Japan Times.  Thanks for putting this column in the Japan Times Top Five for several days running!

Let’s start with some Bubbling Unders/Notable Obits with didn’t make the cut for space concerns, and excerpt the rest. Debito Arudou Ph.D.

justbecauseicon.jpg

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
‘Low IQ’ kids, parental rights and problematic terminology dogged Japan’s international community in 2019
BY DEBITO ARUDOU, Column 117 for the Japan Times Community Page, January 6, 2020
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/01/06/issues/japan-international-community-2019/

For over a decade, Just Be Cause has recapped the previous year’s biggest human rights and human rights-related issues that have affected the non-Japanese community in Japan.

With the start of a new decade upon us, I thought it would be appropriate to mix a little of what was going on in 2019 and connect it to the broader topics that came up during the 2010s. Some are victories, some are losses — some are dangerous losses — but all of the entries below (in ascending order) are at the very least highly relevant to all of us.

Bubbling under:
The Ainu Recognition Law passes last February, meaning Japan is officially multiethnic.
Donald Keene, scholar who opened Japanese literature to the world but senselessly portrayed fellow NJ residents as criminals and cowards, dies aged 96.
Sadako Ogata, UN superstar for refugees who did surprisingly little for refugees in Japan, dies aged 92.
Yasuhiro Nakasone, assertive former Prime Minister with a history of claiming Japan’s superior intelligence due to a lack of ethnic minorities, and of operating wartime “comfort women” stations, dies aged 101.
Shinzo Abe becomes Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister.

10) Otaru onsen, 20 years on

In September 1999, several international couples (including myself) tried to take a public bath at an onsen (hot-spring bath) in Otaru, Hokkaido, but were met with a “Japanese Only” sign rather than friendly customer service. The people who looked insufficiently “Japanese” (including myself and one of my daughters) were refused entry, while those who did (including a Chinese foreign resident) were allowed in.

The same onsen refused me entry again even after I became a Japanese citizen, and a group of us took them to court. The case, which went all the way to Japan’s Supreme Court, found the onsen guilty of “discriminating too much,” while the city of Otaru — which was also sued for not enforcing the United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination that Japan had ratified in 1996 — was found not liable.

Twenty years later, “Japanese Only” signs are still posted in places and Japan is still not living up to its international treaty commitments, with no national law protecting non-Japanese communities from racial discrimination.

9) Diversity in sports…

See if your favorite issue made the Top Ten (yes, Ghosn did, again).  Read the rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/01/06/issues/japan-international-community-2019/

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My SNA Visible Minorities column 5: “Local Governments Classifying Japanese Citizens as Foreigners”, Dec. 16, 2019 (full text)

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Visible Minorities: Local Governments Classifying Japanese Citizens as Foreigners
Shingetsu News Agency, Dec 16, 2019. By Debito Arudou 
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/12/16/visible-minorities-local-governments-classifying-japanese-citizens-as-foreigners/

SNA (Tokyo) — According to the Japanese government, our resident Non-Japanese (NJ) population reached yet another new record, at 2.8 million last June. Last April, Japan started offering new visa regimes to greatly expand the NJ labor force, in response to Japan’s aging society and shrinking population. This, plus steady numbers of permanent residents, international marriages, and naturalizing citizens, are expanding our multicultural and multiethnic communities.

In response, local governments have been trying to accommodate the diversity through new concepts and policies. It started in earnest as far back as 2001 with the Hamamatsu Declaration, where multiple cities and towns near Shizuoka Prefecture called upon the national government to assist them in providing their NJ residents with education, welfare benefits, and streamlined administration. Since then, local governments have generally made positive proposals in good faith.

But sometimes they get it wrong. Last month, Debito.org reported how the city of Nagoya uses a very problematic term in their documents: Gaikokujin Shimin.

The closest translation would be a “foreigner city resident/citizen” (as opposed to, er, a gaikokujin kokumin, the contradictory “foreigner Japanese citizen”?). But the point is that people covered by this term officially belong in the city as dwellers and participants.

The concept sounds inclusive until you see how it’s officially being defined. According to one of Nagoya city’s “General Plans,” dated August 2018, a Gaikokujin Shimin is, as I translate it from the text:

“In addition to people with foreign nationalities with an address within Nagoya city, people like those who obtained Japanese citizenship, children born from international marriages, people with foreign cultures in their backgrounds, and people who have foreign roots.”

(Original Japanese: 名古屋市内に住所を有する外国籍の人のほか、日本国籍を取得した人や国際結婚によって生まれた子どもなど外国の文化を背景に持つ人など、外国にルーツを持つ人。)

Let’s mull that over: This definition stretches “foreigner” far beyond the basic legal definition of someone with foreign citizenship. It also means Japanese citizens are foreigners.

As explicitly stated in Nagoya’s definition, even if you naturalize you’re still a gaikokujin, regardless of Japan’s Nationality Law. You can’t escape.

How about if you’re born in Japan to a Japanese but have one foreign parent? A “one-drop rule” seems to apply. You’re still a gaikokujin. It’s the same for all your descendants in perpetuity, what with “roots in a foreign country.”

What if you have any foreign cultures in your background? Such as a stint living overseas as an exchange student or as a kikoku shijo (returnee child)? Gaikokujin, now and forever.

Further, couldn’t you stretch “background” into “experience,” e.g., being acculturated through foreign friends with or having a romantic relationship with a foreigner? This is what you get when you stray from The Tribe: You get officially gaikokujin-ized.

But Nagoya city isn’t alone in this careless alienation. Google “Gaikokujin Shimin” in Japanese and you’ll find oodles of others: Tokyo Hachioji, Saitama, Kawasaki, Hiroshima, Kitakyushu, Toyohashi, Kofu, Sakai… Even Aichi Prefecture has tweaked the term into Gaikokujin Kenmin (foreign prefectural citizen).

That degree of legitimacy means the term was probably handed down from the national government, and that further explains its shortsightedness. I’ve written extensively elsewhere how national committees making policies for “foreigners” generally don’t include any, or any member who knows much about Japan’s diversity. So that’s what you get: official terms so staggeringly oblivious to reality they become exclusionary epithets.

If policymakers wanted to be inclusive, how about a term that doesn’t allude to legal status? For example, how about “multicultural citizen/resident” (tabunka shimin/jumin)? Or “international citizen/resident” (kokusai shimin/jumin)? These terms have been circulating for decades, and they allow you to belong to a place while being simultaneously diverse and Japanese.

Instead, by reinforcing a binary of “anything not 100% Japanese must be foreign,” Gaikokujin Shimin goes beyond issues of nationality and into eugenics.

Have we learned nothing from history? By making “foreigner” status inescapable even across generations, Gaikokujin Shimin toes the same path that ultimately led to officials forcing people to wear a Star of David. It is a profound step backwards in the face of Japan’s inevitable multiethnicization. Its use should be immediately abolished.

ENDS

More information and sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=15820.

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

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My SNA Visible Minorities Col 4: “The Xeno-Scapegoating of Japanese Halloween”, Nov 18, 2019 (full text)

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Hi Blog.  My latest Shingetsu News Agency column is a variation on the Gaijin Blame Game that goes on in Japan whenever Japanese authorities want to tighten their control over society further.  Here’s the full text:

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Visible Minorities: The Xeno-Scapegoating of Japanese Halloween
Column 4, Shingetsu News Agency, Nov 18, 2019, by Debito Arudou
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/11/18/visible-minorities-the-xeno-scapegoating-of-japanese-halloween/

SNA (Tokyo) — “Madness.” “Mayhem.” “Chaos unfolded.” “Anarchic behavior.” “Police try to subdue massive crowds running amok.”

That was how one single article in the Japan Times depicted the big party at Shibuya Crossing last Halloween Night. Other media echoed similarly riotous language, noting the heavy police presence and suspended alcohol sales. Sheer anarchy!

Reading all that, you could be forgiven for thinking Shibuya was set aflame and Hachiko knocked off his plinth. But drop by sometime; everything is still there just fine.

Why the alarmist attitude towards Halloween? We don’t see it for the revelry at, say, Japanese sporting events, where Hanshin Tigers fans take over Shinkansens and leap into Osaka rivers; or for annual Seijinshiki Coming of Age Days, where binge drinking and youthful hijinks disrupt boring official ceremonies; or any time of the year in entertainment districts nationwide, with public urination, people passed out on sidewalks or subways, and drunk chinpira picking fights.

Why not? Because those things are normalized. After all, it’s often hard for adults in Japan to have fun without alcohol, and excesses are tolerated as anzen-ben, a “safety valve” for letting off steam given the stresses of life.

Why isn’t Halloween treated the same? Some might say that the difference is crowd size and mob rule. After all, last year the Shibuya Halloween crowd overturned a light truck, and a handful of people, all Japanese, were arrested for disorderly conduct this year.

But this column argues the real reason for all the police and media-manufactured alarmism is a matter of xeno-convenience: Halloween is seen as something foreign.

Even though Halloween isn’t celebrated in all other societies, officials frame it like it’s a foreigner magnet. A Shibuya representative reportedly claimed that foreign tourists travel to Japan especially for Shibuya Halloween, pointing out that “the people who gather are mostly from outside the ward” (as are, ahem, most people who venture to Shibuya Crossing every day). Yet most people who came to party at Shibuya Crossing were Japanese.

Halloween as an adult event in Japan is relatively new. During the 1990s, after a group of American revelers made an annual tradition of partying on the Yamanote Line, the tipping point came when Tokyo Disneyland held its first successful Halloween event in 2000. It’s since grown to the point where even Japan Rail Pass.com advertises (in English) BYOB Halloween street events in Roppongi Hills and Shibuya, and organized train parties you can sign up for.

Regardless, wherever foreigners go, Japan’s xenophobes follow, and they have decried Halloween as a corrupting influence for at least a decade. In 2009, the Yamanote foreign drinkfest got taken up by 2chan online trolls, who came out in force at train stations to shout abuse at anyone in costume. They, and flag-waving ultrarightists flanked by multitudes of cops deployed to keep order, wound up disrupting things far more than any foreign partiers.

Indicatively, the xenophobes bore signs like “Motherf*ck-foreigners” to “Go to Hell!” because “This is not a white country!” and “We Japanese don’t need Halloween.”

Au contraire, I say. If anything, Halloween has been culturally appropriated by Japan. Like a meal being an excuse for Italy to make pasta or for South Korea to eat garlic, Halloween is an excuse for Japanese to indulge their fantasies and dress up in costume. Japan gave the world the word “cosplay,” remember.

The Japanese police and media portraying Halloween as an opportunity for foreigners to swarm and disturb the wa isn’t supported sociologically or statistically.

What’s in fact going on is simple: Japan’s control-freak authorities don’t trust a crowd. To them, there’s a feeling of unpredictability and a frisson of revolt. However, you can’t easily stop Japanese having their anzen-ben, even in large numbers, and even if they decide to dress up and drink on the street or train. However, Halloween means you can: Just blame the event on foreigners and, hey, presto! alcohol bans passed and police budgets justified. In the end, it’s merely a convenient ruse to spoil everyone’s fun.

Advice for next year: Sure, control the crowds, litter, and disruption. Keep the peace. But don’t bring foreigners into it. Don’t mask Japan’s primal urges with foreign scapegoats.

ENDS

======================
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My Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities col 3: “Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins”, October 23, 2019 (full text)

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Hi Blog. My latest SNA column 3 is now up. And here is a link to sources for claims within the article. Enjoy. Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities Column 3
Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins
Shingetsu News Agency OCT 23, 2019, by DEBITO ARUDOU
Courtesy http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/10/23/racial-profiling-at-japanese-hotel-check-ins/

SNA (Tokyo) — It’s dehumanizing to be denied service somewhere, not for what you did, but for who you are, and to realize that discrimination is real.

In Japan, your first experience might be with your apartment search—realtors may deny you a home simply because “the landlord doesn’t like foreigners.”

Sadly, there’s little you can do: racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan, even in 2019. You could report what happened to the Ministry of Justice’s Human Rights Bureau (which will generally do nothing), or take them to court where you’re at the mercy of a judge susceptible to narratives of “foreigners are different/difficult, so refusing them is okay,” which is known legally as “rational discrimination.” Still, you will need a place right away to call home.

Eventually, after getting an interlocutor to negotiate or an employer to vouch for you, you find one. You’ll forget about what happened. Something like this doesn’t happen every day, right?

But it may occur the next time you want a hotel room. Given the tourism boom and hosted international sports events, racial profiling and discrimination have become widespread in Japan’s hoteling industry. This is particularly insidious because it’s not just the occasional bigoted landlord calling the shots; this time it’s the Japanese police.

It begins when you arrive at a hotel and try to check in. Clerks are trained to demand a passport from any customer who “looks foreign” as a precondition for service. This includes Non-Japanese Residents of Japan, even though Non-Japanese Residents are not required to carry their passport, and even though the law says hotels cannot do it.

Explicitly stated in laws related to hotel management is that if you are a Japanese or a Non-Japanese with an address in Japan, you merely enter your name, address, contact details, and occupation into the guest book. No ID is necessary.

If you are a tourist with no address in Japan, however, the law is different. In that case, you must display your passport to the hotel clerk, have your passport number taken down, and (under some prefectural ordinances) have your passport photocopied in case the local police want to see it.

Overseas governments discourage such practices. The Canadian government, for example, makes it clear: “Never give out personal information from your passport or your passport application unless you’re sure it is for a trusted organization or individual. This includes photocopies. You take all responsibility for giving information in your passport to a third party.” So if you check in and become a victim of identity theft, that’s your own responsibility.

But here’s where hotel practices get racialized: Some require “all foreign guests,” regardless of residency, to display ID.

People who refuse to comply can be, under some prefectural ordinances, denied entry into the hotel, and sometimes the police are to be called. And how do clerks tell who a “foreign guest” is? If they have a foreign-looking face or name, of course. Hence the racial profiling at check-in.

But what happens to residents, Japanese children of international marriages, and foreign-looking citizens, such as myself, who brave the harassment and inform them of the actual letter of the law? Clerks will then claim the local police are demanding all foreign guests produce ID. Sometimes they even pull out a handy-dandy multilingual poster produced by those police saying as much. Nevertheless, that’s not what the law says.

I’ve been following this issue since 2005, when I encountered my first hotel ID checkpoint while attending a conference. After more than a decade of these shenanigans (and official confirmations from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, local police agencies retracting erroneous posters, and even the US Embassy that ID checks only apply to overseas tourists), it’s clear that the Japanese police are deliberately making up law to enlist hotels in their racial profiling.

Why do the police keep lying? Because, according to their posters, they’re looking for terrorists. (Naturally, Japanese cannot be terrorists, never mind Aum Shinrikyo or the Japanese Red Army.)

So here’s the bottom line: If you live in Japan with a Japanese address, you check in like any other Japanese citizen. You should only need to write your name and contact details in the guest book and get your key. No ID is necessary.

But since the Japanese police prioritize their power over actually following the law, it’s likely your protest about being treated like a terrorist will fall on deaf ears.

In fact, the cops have doubled-down. For example, the Shizuoka police recently issued yet another poster making up a rule that everyone must show their passport. (As if that’s going to apply to Japanese guests?)

Most people, tired at the end of a day, are probably not in the mood to fight the casual racial profiling at the hotel counter, or deal with a phalanx of paranoid cops. Claiming your legal rights might mean that you lose your room for the night, or at worst mean you enjoy a couple of weeks of hospitality at the local police detention center.

The ultimate solution is for some brave soul to suffer these indignities and to sue the hotel and police for damages, and to make it clear that this practice is not grounded in statute.

This is what happens when you encourage multitudes of overseas tourists come to a place like Japan, a society hobbled by strong xenophobic narratives and a weak system of checks on police power, without preparing the legal and social groundwork. Even after all these years, Japan’s officials and law enforcement still haven’t cottoned on to the fact that some people who look like tourists actually live here. Once again, Japan’s Visible Minorities get snagged in the dragnet. Unlawfully.

ENDS

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NB: If you want to do something to stop this happening to you, download a file substantiating that you don’t have to show any ID as a resident of Japan here: http://www.debito.org/newhotelpassportlaw.jpg

=====================
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Fujisankei-owned Japan Today posts article on “What to do if stopped by J police” for Rugby World Cup visitors, after consulting with Debito.org. Then does not acknowledge Debito.org and leaves out valuable advice

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Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. Debito Arudou (click on icon):
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Hi Blog.  Debito.org Reader JDG had this to say about a recent article in Japan Today:

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

JDG:  Right wing Sankei owned Japan Today put out this ‘what to do if you get stopped by the police in Japan’ article for the Rugby World Cup.

https://japantoday.com/category/features/lifestyle/What-to-do-if-you-are-stopped-by-the-police-in-Japan

Half the article about having fun and getting travel insurance, the other half about complying with all police requests because, y’know, cultural differences.

Failure to blindly comply with police stop requests will be ‘escalating the situation’ and grounds for arrest because, y’know, cultural differences.

What about police discrimination and your rights? ‘Don’t believe all the hoopla you read online’.

Basically article’s advice is;
If stopped by Japanese police, do as you are told.

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

For the record, the article is archived below.

COMMENT:  Well, interestingly enough, Japan Today consulted with Debito.org before doing the article.  And then it made no mention of Debito.org or its advice therein.  Here’s the exchange:

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

From: Jeff Richards <jeff@japantoday.com>
Subject: Journalist Asking about Any Updates on “What to Do if Stopped by Police in Japan”
Date: September 8, 2019 at 11:08:36 PM
To: debito@debito.org
Hello Dr. Arudou,
My name is Jeff Richards and I’m an editor for Japan Today.
I’m currently putting together a piece on “What to Do if Stopped by the Police in Japan” as primer for both residents and tourists alike visiting for the upcoming Rugby World Cup (and by extension the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and other large-scale sporting and entertainment events).
I have been using your website as a resource in this regard (and have since I arrived in Japan over a decade ago… ). I was wondering if you had done any updates on this topic (on your website either as a post or in one of your many news columns):
I realize that most of the posts on your site dealing with the police, unwarranted checkpoints, unlawful ID checks by hotel/train staff etc. seem to relate to the former “Gaikokijin Torokushou” but I was wondering if there have been any significant changes to the law with the advent of the Residence Card? Or would these same laws still apply with just a terminology change?
My goal with the article is purely to provide facts to readers about what they are required to have on them (passport or residence card), what they are legally bound to do and what they are entitled to ask before submitting to a check and their rights. It is really a “just the facts, ma’am” type of piece. I wold like to have readers informed of what they should know about these types of situations — especially since more people are a little more reticent about Japanese police and due process since the recent Carlos Ghosn detention shining a spotlight on how the justice system here is stacked against them.
Any insight or updates from you would be appreciated and if you have any other outside sources I might contact or read that would be very welcome, too.
I hope all is well and I look forward to reading any upcoming articles for the Shingetsu News Agency.
Kindest regards,
~Jeff Richards
Jeff W, Richards
Editor
4F 1-8-1 Higashi Azabu IS Bldg.,
1-8-1 Higashi Azabu, Minato-ku, Japan 106-0044

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

Well, I was happy to oblige, so here was my response:

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

From: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>
Subject: Re: Journalist Asking about Any Updates on “What to Do if Stopped by Police in Japan”
Date: September 11, 2019 at 7:38:42 PM
To: Jeff Richards <jeff@japantoday.com>

Dear Mr. Richards,

Thank you for your email, and I apologize for my late response.  Please find my answers below in your text:

 

On Sep 8, 2019, at 11:08 PM, Jeff Richards <jeff@japantoday.com> wrote:
Hello Dr. Arudou,
My name is Jeff Richards and I’m an editor for Japan Today.
I’m currently putting together a piece on “What to Do if Stopped by the Police in Japan” as primer for both residents and tourists alike visiting for the upcoming Rugby World Cup (and by extension the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and other large-scale sporting and entertainment events).

Excellent.  This sounds very helpful.  I will be happy to point to it on Debito.org when it comes out.

 

I have been using your website as a resource in this regard (and have since I arrived in Japan over a decade ago… ). I was wondering if you had done any updates on this topic (on your website either as a post or in one of your many news columns):
I realize that most of the posts on your site dealing with the police, unwarranted checkpoints, unlawful ID checks by hotel/train staff etc. seem to relate to the former “Gaikokijin Torokushou” but I was wondering if there have been any significant changes to the law with the advent of the Residence Card? Or would these same laws still apply with just a terminology change?

I haven’t updated the site in a while, as you know, but I have found that the systems in place are largely unchanged.

As for the Gaikokujin Tourokushou issue, there have NOT been any significant changes with the advent of the Zairyuu Card.  In fact, things have gotten a bit worse, as police don’t always believe the new Gaijin Card will suffice for visa kakunin purposes, and instead ask for passports more often on street ID checkpoints (which is what the Zairyuu Card is supposed to act as a substitute for).  In any case, the Zairyuu Card is basically the Gaijin Card Part Deux.  Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.  As you put it, it’s just a terminology change as far as police enforcement and racial profiling is concerned.

 

My goal with the article is purely to provide facts to readers about what they are required to have on them (passport or residence card), what they are legally bound to do and what they are entitled to ask before submitting to a check and their rights. It is really a “just the facts, ma’am” type of piece. I wold like to have readers informed of what they should know about these types of situations — especially since more people are a little more reticent about Japanese police and due process since the recent Carlos Ghosn detention shining a spotlight on how the justice system here is stacked against them.

That sounds good.  And people are surely right to feel targeted after the Ghosn Case.  Because they are.  As you saw from recent articles, Ghosn’s peers just got the axe for similar misdeeds but Ghosn got sent to jail.

 

Any insight or updates from you would be appreciated and if you have any other outside sources I might contact or read that would be very welcome, too.

How about these?

Scroll through these and see what catches your eye.

 

I hope all is well and I look forward to reading any upcoming articles for the Shingetsu News Agency.

My next one comes out in a few days.  Enjoy.

Sincerely, Debito

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

I then received no response, acknowledgment, or thanks for this email, so I refowarded the mail with a message:

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

From: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>
Subject: Fwd: Journalist Asking about Any Updates on “What to Do if Stopped by Police in Japan”
Date: September 17, 2019 at 2:30:12 PM
To: Jeff Richards <jeff@japantoday.com>
Hi Mr Richards.  Just checking to see if you got this.  Sincerely, Debito

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

Then Mr. Richards responded:

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

From: Jeff Richards <jeff@japantoday.com>
Subject: Re: Journalist Asking about Any Updates on “What to Do if Stopped by Police in Japan”
Date: September 18, 2019 at 12:50:42 AM
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Hi Debito,

Yes, thank you so much for getting back to me and sorry for not doing the same. Apologies.
Your information has been very useful. It’s seems pretty cut-and-dried (regardless of personal opinions on the police’s reasoning or racial bias) but I did just want to give people a very good idea of what will indeed happen if you are stopped by the keisatsu (either just letting you continue on or taking you “downtown” depending on how important it is for people to be outraged).
I ended up taking all of my “opinion” out of it and just presented what will happen and your rights — and how to just make it go smoothly so you can get on to enjoying the rugby. If people really are incensed, probably best to make a complaint later — unless it’s truly egregious. Our readers can discuss it in the comments.
I believe we’ll be publishing the story tomorrow night ahead of the first Rugby World Cup game on Friday.
Thanks again for getting back to me. I’d love to be able to contact you again on other matters involving foreigners in Japan for future stories (I’m planning to one on if you happen to get injured or have an accident and a follow up on if you are unfortunate enough to be detained by the police in Japan).
Regards,
~Jeff
Jeff W, Richards
Editor
4F 1-8-1 Higashi Azabu IS Bldg.,
1-8-1 Higashi Azabu, Minato-ku, Japan 106-0044
Tel: +81 3-5561-7755

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

Then the article came out, and as noted, there was no mention of Debito.org or any of the information therein. So I asked about it.

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

From: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>
Subject: Re: Journalist Asking about Any Updates on “What to Do if Stopped by Police in Japan”
Date: September 22, 2019 at 10:29:47 AM
To: Jeff Richards <jeff@japantoday.com>

Hello Jeff,

Thanks for the article.  But if the information on Debito.org was so useful, why wasn’t it cited anywhere in the article, even as a potential information site like the others?  Please explain.  Thank you.
Sincerely, Debito

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

I received no response from Mr. Richards for three days. So I drew some conclusions, and told him so:

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

From: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>
Subject: Please respond within 48 hours. Re: Journalist Asking about Any Updates on “What to Do if Stopped by Police in Japan”
Date: September 25, 2019 at 10:02:44 AM 
To: Jeff Richards <jeff@japantoday.com>

Hello Jeff again.  I didn’t receive a response from you, so here’s my interpretation of what happened:

1) You wrote up an article that had your “opinions” in it, and some of them were based upon information you found on Debito.org.
2) As you are owned by Fujisankei, you were told by your bosses to remove that information, and all references to Debito.org.  (We can’t have foreigners in Japan knowing their rights, after all.)
If so, I find this overall trend in media complicity in disempowering NJ to be most distressing, as I noted in my Shingetsu News Agency articles that you say below you have seen.
That is precisely a Debito.org issue, which I will be going public with (including our correspondence, since it was not private, and you were writing expressly in your public capacity as an Editor at Japan Today) in 48 hours from this time stamp.
If you would like to clarify the record or my interpretation beforehand, I am inviting you to respond within that 48 hours.
Sincerely, Debito

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

Mr. Richards responded soon afterwards:

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

From: Jeff Richards <jeff@gplusmedia.com>
Subject: Re: Please respond within 48 hours. Re: Journalist Asking about Any Updates on “What to Do if Stopped by Police in Japan”
Date: September 26, 2019 at 1:09:53 AM PDT
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Hi Debito,

Wow. Well, those are some rather unexpected and confrontational email replies.
I’m not sure what I did to warrant that type of reaction or what in fact you were expecting from me.
The article I wrote is for the benefit of people visiting Japan for the RWC (and residents who might be interested). There is no sway over my editorial by higher ups at Fuji at all.
My article steers clear of my “opinions” to keep it as objective as possible without editorializing on the matter since it is not an opinion piece, per se.
While your website has information on it that can be useful, so, too, do the official sites for Japan Customs, the National Police Agency, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the Immigration Services Agency of Japan as well the information I received from embassy officials that I interviewed.
One of the reasons I originally reached out was to find out if you had any actual new content on debito.org that updated some of the older stuff (the links in your original reply direct to articles well over 10 years old). To be fair, some other official Japanese sites (mostly ward and prefectural) contain info that isn’t that much more up-to-date, so I didn’t use those links, either.
Is there a personal quote from you or reference to your website content that perhaps I didn’t attribute? If so, please let me know and I’m more than happy to rectify.
Regards,
~Jeff

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

FINAL COMMENT:  I didn’t respond further to Mr. Richards.  I acknowledge his courteous inquiries at the beginning, and appreciate his efforts to find out the most current information; I also acknowledge that his article is very helpful for the most part.

However, I felt things were certainly different when it came down to reporting any information that might let people know their rights in Japan.  Because, after all, foreigners aren’t supposed to have any rights, according to the Japanese Police, and that’s generally the line that much of the “foreigner-friendly” media basically maintains — just do as you’re told like a good “guest” and all will go well.  Until it doesn’t, of course.

Racial profiling in Japan is Standard Operating Procedure for the Japanese police, and that should be acknowledged somewhere, not simply worked around or removed as a matter of “opinion”.

I remain unswayed in my belief that the inconvenient truths that Debito.org has always offered were not something a media outlet like this was keen on publishing.  And I believe that this is because it is owned by the right-wing Fujisankei group, which has substantially changed the tone of the once foreigner-owned Japan Today.

For the record, shortly after its founding two decades ago, Japan Today’s NJ editors invited me to write columns for them.  I did in fact write eighteen over the course of two years (until they stopped paying me as promised, which is why I quit and went to The Japan Times).  That was then.  Now, I strongly doubt Japan Today would ever publish information found in my columns again.  What I’m saying is simply not what “gaijin-handling” (i.e., putting forth a positive image of Japan under all circumstances) Japan-owned and -managed outlets want published.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

The current text of the Japan Today article, for the record:

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

Lifestyle

What to do if you are stopped by the police in Japan

148 Comments

By Jeff W Richards

This year — for the first time in its 32-year history — the Rugby World Cup will be held in Asia. On Nov 2, 2019, the International Stadium Yokohama in Japan will become just the seventh stadium ever to host the final of the world’s third-largest sporting event.

While a fantastic time is expected to be had by all involved: hosts, teams and fans; that’s not to say some cultural scrums won’t form. The arrest and detention of Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn last year has shone an international spotlight on Japan’s justice system. This could have some people worried.

Japan is — for the most part — a forward-thinking, modern democracy. It’s justice system, however, still relies on solitary confinement, forced confessions and apologies (with financial compensation to “victims”) for its verdicts. The most worrying aspect of criminal justice in Japan is its detention system (suspects can be held for up to 23 days without being charged) and its bias against non-Japanese detainees.

Stating this is not meant to scare people. Your experience at the World Cup and other events will probably be as fun and enjoyable as you expect, or even more so — whether in Tokyo, Yokohama or farther-flung Kyushu. The locals want you to come and to enjoy yourself at the matches as well as learn and experience the delights of their city and region — police included

But differences in culture and behavior exist. For example, it may be completely normal in your home country — fellas! — to relieve yourself outside, in an alley or on the side of building, whereas here the keisatsu (police) may stop you for defacing private property or indecent exposure. From even minor encounters, major troubles can occur.

This is a no-nonsense guide to what you should do if you are stopped by the police in Japan, prefaced with some common-sense advice to prevent any problems before they might occur.

Before you come

A word to those arriving from overseas: before you leave for Japan, do your research.

Read up online. Visit the website of your embassy in Japan and read its travel advisories. Here they will post relevant information and updates on everything from extreme weather forecasts, natural disasters, pertinent crime reports and lists of prohibited goods you might inadvertently pack.

Websites and resources to check out before you leave:

Purchase travel insurance. When I asked representatives at the British Embassy in Tokyo about their recommendations for Brits coming to Japan, this was No. 1 on their list — and it applies to visitors from all countries. If an accident should occur, Japanese hospitals and clinics do not accept foreign medical insurance. We will have more on this in a second installment of this series for visitors to Japan.

To avoid any hassles before you pass Japanese customs at the airport, find out what medications (if any) from your home country might be illegal in Japan. You could encounter problems with pharmaceuticals as mundane as over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief (anything with codeine is prohibited) or certain allergy medications (pseudoephedrine is also illegal). If you do find an OTC medication you use is listed — don’t bring it. There will be a suitable alternative readily available here — and it won’t cause you grief should be stopped by the police and searched.

If you do require specific medication, make sure to bring the prescription with you and don’t bring more than a 30-day supply. And even if you do have a prescription, Jiminy Christmas, do not bring any medicine containing opium, cannabis, amphetamines, methamphetamines and certain medicines for treating attention deficit disorders (such as Adderall, Vyvanse and Dexedrine) as these are strictly prohibited.

If you’re already concerned about what might happen if you’re stopped by the police in Japan — do yourself a favor: Don’t get detained before you even clear customs.

Before you go out to an event

Make sure you have the proper identification on you when you go out for the day. You will be asked for it if you are stopped by authorities.

For tourists, this means that you must carry your passport with you at all times. Failure to do so could result in more than embarrassment — it could mean detention by the police (as proper ID will be the first thing they ask for) and a fine of up to ¥200,000 (U.S.$1,850) may ensue. “Proper ID” in this case does not constitute your driver’s license from back home.

Also, carry the name and contact info for your accommodations. If you’re staying at a hotel, grab a business card (with Japanese and English on it) from the front desk. This is not just to give to peace officers, but it can help you return safely as cab drivers or people you stop to ask for directions may not speak English.

If you’re a resident of Japan — and you should know this — you need to carry your zairyu, or Japanese Residence Card, with you at all times. Any immigration or law enforcement officers in the course of their uniformed duties can ask for it and — by law — you need to have it on your person at all times. Not doing so carries a fine of ¥200,000.

If you get stopped

During the Rugby World Cup, understand that there will be an increased police presence across the country, especially around match venues and fan zones.

“During the rugby, we are expecting people to be stopped or arrested for boisterous behavior considered minor in the UK or at least in [other] rugby countries,” says Marion Auclair, consular sporting liaison officer for the British Embassy in Tokyo. “That can get you detained for up to 23 days in Japan.” Nudity — like we mentioned above about answering “when nature calls” — is one of those behaviors.

Is it possible you may be stopped simply because you’re a foreigner? Absolutely.

Is there any reason for you to be unduly worried about it? I would say no.

By and large — especially at an international sporting event — police are deployed to assist the public, keep the peace and look for anything suspicious or unfamiliar. Foreigners quite often tick the “unfamiliar” box. They’ll ask you some questions about where you’re from, what you’re doing in Japan and where you might be coming from (or going to). I mean, it depends on how morally outraged you’d like to be about the situation. Contrary to the discussion board hoopla you’ll find online, there is no need to get your back up. This is not #blacklivesmatter. Nobody is going to shoot you because of the color of your skin. In fact, the police in Japan rarely use their firearms.

You are, however, in danger of causing yourself and your companions more trouble than it’s worth should you decide to escalate the situation — and the perception of “escalation” in Japan is quite different than it might be in the West. Here, even raising your voice can be interpreted by Japanese police as noncompliance or obstruction. It’s why you’ll often see Japanese citizens stopped by law enforcement stand perfectly still during an encounter all the while speaking in a non-hysterical voice. The cops as well. No sudden moves. No surprises. Nobody goes to jail.

Raise your voice indignantly, though, and you risk being seen as obstructing police duties. Reason enough for them to ask for your identification, search your person and even ask if you’d like to come “downtown” to the koban (police box). You do not want to do this.

The police in Japan have every legal right to stop you and ask to see your ID. You, in turn, have the right ask them why you’re being stopped. Best to politely pose the question and then submit to their request when they tell you the reason. They’ll note your registration card or passport information, ask you a few more questions and — most likely — you’ll be on your way.

A quick note if the situation does escalate and you find yourself being detained. It’s important to know that in Japan you do not get to make a phone call. By international convention — assuming your country has signed this bilateral agreement (not all have) — if you are held by the police in Japan, they will inform the consular department of your embassy about your arrest.

The British Embassy, for example, would then send the detainee a prisoner pack with a list of lawyers and check if they want a consular visit.

“If so, we automatically visit,” says Auclair. “Then we assess together what kind of assistance [the embassy] can provide to them.”

To avoid this in the first place — use your common sense.

“Because I think fundamentally everybody knows the things that are illegal, right?” says Emma Hickinbotham, the British Embassy’s head of media, communications and marketing. “That you shouldn’t smuggle drugs. That you shouldn’t steal things. Those things — they’re universal. It’s more the nuances of the cultural differences. That is, you might not get arrested but [the situation] could potentially escalate and if you don’t speak the language — maybe in Tokyo it’s different — but out in some of the regions where the rugby is being played, if the local police don’t speak English and they are asking you nicely to put your clothes back on or whatever, it might be [a good idea]. If you don’t understand anything they’re saying, then you might respond and if you’re being too loud, they might misunderstand that as aggression. So, it’s really trying to stop any of those kinds of misunderstandings happening where people may end up getting in trouble for very minor things that are just avoidable.”

To put it in perspective, while many people of all nationalities are stopped daily in Japan, the number of foreigners arrested is significantly small.

So how many UK citizens are arrested or detained in Japan in a year? “I would say about 50,” says Auclair.

Auclair adds something all embassy staff and Japanese people are likely thinking. “We want people to have fun, in the end. We actually want them to enjoy the rugby because we also are very excited about the rugby. [Laughs] You know, we are rugby fans ourselves, so it’s more about: ‘Yeah, just pay attention.’ Have some common sense. Maybe don’t moon in public, that might not be as well received as in the UK.”

For more information on being culturally aware, Auclair and Hickinbotham suggest visiting the UK government’s advisory page with tips for fans traveling to the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

The more you know before you head out to enjoy a match — whether live at a stadium, in a fan zone with friends or gathered in a bar with strangers — the better time you will have and the less chance of having a bad experience with the police.

Most of it, though, is just common sense — like not urinating on private property or mooning people in public.

ENDS

=====================
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Sept. 19, 1999: 20th Anniversary of the Otaru Onsens Case today: Kindle eBooks “Japanese Only” and “Guidebook” are now downloadable for (almost) free

mytest

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Hi Blog.  September 19, 1999 was a watershed day in my life, when my family, friends, and I visited the “Japanese Only” Otaru public baths and exposed discrimination in Japan incontrovertibly as racial in nature.

It has been exactly twenty years to the day since then, and not enough has changed.  People (including Japanese citizens) are still being refused services in Japan based upon whether they “look foreign”.  The police still engage in racial profiling as standard operating procedure to ferret out “illegal foreigners”.  There still is no law against racial discrimination in Japan’s Civil or Criminal Code.

Japan remains a signatory to the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination, where it promised (since 1995) to “undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms“. Nearly a quarter-century later, this clearly has not happened.

All of this has been charted and cataloged in great detail in my book “Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan“.

To commemorate twenty years of GOJ negligence following a case that changed the dialog on discrimination in Japan, my “Japanese Only” Kindle eBook is now free to download on Amazon.com.

Well, nearly free. Amazon requires that I charge something, unfortunately. The minimum price is 99 cents US. So I’ve set that price for the book in all countries effective immediately.

Similarly, my book for how to cope with life in Japan and make a good living here, “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan”, is now also nearly free. 99 cents.

Go download and enjoy both. And may the lessons of the Otaru Onsens Case reverberate and help everyone in Japan have equal access to public goods and facilities. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

=====================
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“Educating the Non-Japanese Underclass”, my Shingetsu News Agency “Visible Minorities” Col 2, Sept 17, 2019 (FULL TEXT)

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Hi Blog. Here’s my latest for the Shingetsu News Agency. Enjoy. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

Visible Minorities Column 2: Educating the Non-Japanese Underclass
Shingetsu News Agency, SEP 17, 2019 by DEBITO ARUDOU
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/09/17/visible-minorities-educating-the-non-japanese-underclass/

SNA (Tokyo) — In a shocking series of exposés at the beginning of this month, the Mainichi Shinbun reported that minority children of workers in Japanese schools were being segregated from their Japanese peers, put in classes for the mentally disabled, and systematically denied an education.

For years now, according to Ministry of Education surveys, schools have subjected their non-native foreign minority students to IQ tests. The results were striking: Non-Japanese children were found to have “developmental disorders” at more than double the rate of the general Japanese student population.

Striking, but not all that surprising—since these tests assessed IQ via culturally-grounded questions, on things like Japanese shogunates and tanabata festivals. They also considered a lack of Japanese language skills an “intellectual” disability.

Let that sink in. Try claiming that your Japanese students are dim because they aren’t proficient in English, and then watch how long you remain an educator.

But here’s where the bad science turns evil. The “special education” Non-Japanese students were receiving tended to put them permanently behind their peers. In one cited example, instead of learning multiplication in school, a 14-year-old was pressed into child labor, digging potatoes.

Why weren’t these students simply put into regular classes, with additional after-school language instruction until they come up to speed? Because that would be unfair, said the administration. The Mainichi Shinbun cited an unnamed vice-principal as saying, “When foreigners increase in number, the learning progress of Japanese students is delayed. As far as is possible, foreign students should go to classes to be taught one on one”; meaning this “educator” believes that non-native speakers hobble their Japanese classmates.

I’m not a developmental psychologist, but I strongly doubt that this is supported by science. It’s certainly not supported by my experience. Having classmates learning English as a second language during my primary schooling in North America certainly didn’t slow down my classes or my own learning (and the non-native classmates came up to speed eventually). I especially doubt they would slow things down in a Japanese classroom, where in secondary education most students just keep silent anyway.

But the most shocking thing about this news story is that is it isn’t news. This has been going on for decades, notably since Japan started importing Non-Japanese from South America and Asia as cheap factory labor in the early 1990s.

In fact, disadvantaging Non-Japanese children is official government policy. Consider the Basic Act on Education; it is designed to guarantee compulsory education to everyone. However, as rendered in Japanese, “everyone” means kokumin, or citizens. The law thus enables educators to exclude foreigners.

That’s how it’s worked out in practice too; a number of schools have reportedly refused enrollment to Non-Japanese children with excuses of “a lack of facilities” or “too much work for teachers” or the alleged barriers of language and culture.

That’s one reason why alternative ethnic schools exist in Japan. However, those schools are almost never certified by the Ministry of Education, meaning that they aren’t “real schools” teaching the official curriculum, and don’t, for example, qualify for government educational subsidies or student discounts on public amenities and transportation. Further, their diplomas are not considered legitimate by many Japanese high schools and colleges. So if you want an education that avails you of equal opportunities as an adult in Japan, you had better get into a Japanese school, where they may still find ways to deem you disabled and throw you in a class digging potatoes.

The cruel results of this system were clear more than a decade ago: In 2007, the Yomiuri Shinbun reported that 20,000 Non-Japanese children lacked language abilities to follow classroom instruction. That same year, the Asahi Shinbun reported that an estimated 20-40% of all Brazilian-Japanese children were not attending, or had never attended, school in Japan.

This was reported in mainstream media outlets, yet more than ten years later, the government clearly felt no urgency to remedy the situation. On the contrary, they’re standing by as schools classify minority kids as retarded.

This is just how minorities are often treated in Japan—as invisible, as people who aren’t really here permanently, so they don’t need access to the essential social services, including a proper education for their children. This isn’t just cruel, it’s a fundamental and deliberate abrogation of human rights, potentially disadvantaging these kids their entire lives. Essentially, Japan has willfully created a functionally-illiterate day-laboring ethnic minority underclass.

So take heed: If you have a minority child in Japanese education, bear in mind that the system is not looking out for you.

Courtesyt http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/09/17/visible-minorities-educating-the-non-japanese-underclass/

=====================
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“Visible Minorities”: My first monthly column for the Shingetsu News Agency, Aug 19, 2019 (FULL TEXT)

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Hi Blog. Welcome back from a Summer Break. I’m pleased to announce that I have a new monthly column at the progressive Shingetsu News Agency, the only place left (following the rightward editorial shift at The Japan Times) offering independent journalism on Japan in Japan.

Here’s an excerpt, where I stake out what the column space will be about:

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

Visible Minorities: Debito’s New Column for the Shingetsu News Agency

SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, AUG 19, 2019 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMNS
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/08/19/visible-minorities-debitos-new-column-for-the-shingetsu-news-agency/

My name is Debito Arudou (or Arudou Debito, if you prefer), that guy from Sapporo who started writing about Japan from the early 1990s on a long-dead mailing list called the Dead Fukuzawa Society. I wrote so much there that I decided to archive my writings on a webpage. Debito.org soon blossomed into an award-winning reference site on life and human rights in Japan, and later a platform for newspaper articles and fieldwork research on racial discrimination.

After moonlighting at places like the now-defunct Asahi Evening News and Japan Today, I began writing in 2002 a column for Japan Times, first under Zeit Gist and then Just Be Cause.

Decades later, here we are with a new monthly column at the Shingetsu News Agency, under the title Visible Minorities.

I chose this title for two reasons.

The first is because my doctoral research, and most recent book, was on “visible minorities,” a term used by academics, and even the Canadian government, to discuss a more subtle form of discrimination. It is used when a minority is treated differently by a society, even if they formally have the same legal rights as fellow residents and citizens, because they don’t look physically the same as the majority group in that society.

In Japan, this term is especially useful because our hegemonic national narrative claims that Japan is monocultural, monoethnic, and homogeneous. In other words, Japan allegedly has no minorities. But, of course, it does: the Ainu, the Uchinanchu, the “Zainichi” ethnic Koreans and Chinese, the Burakumin, foreign residents, and naturalized citizens.

Naturally, academia and the Japanese government have habitually promoted the fiction that Japan has no racial discrimination because Japan has no “races.” After all, Japan’s minorities are supposedly indistinguishable from the Japanese majority.

In other words, since everyone allegedly “looks Japanese,” Japanese racism is somehow different—it’s not a matter of skin color, so therefore it’s not the real racism found in other countries.

But what about those foreigners and naturalized Japanese citizens like myself who do have a different skin color? They are ignored because they’re apparently too small a number to really count, or they’re here by choice and therefore somehow aren’t really part of Japan.

Nowadays, Non-Japanese residents make up about 2.1% of the total population of these islands, and the demographic trends reveal clearly, as the Japanese population ages and decreases, that this proportion will continue to rise in the decades ahead.

And yet, still overlooked are the people—including the Japanese born from the hundreds of thousands of international couples—who are sometimes refused entry to bathhouses, shops, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, schools, colleges, or other places offering licensed services to the public.

That’s why the term “visible minorities” matters. All you need to be treated unequally in many cases is to look foreign, and this is an issue that Japan needs to better grapple with at both the social and political level.

A second, related reason why I chose this term as the column’s title is because minorities in Japan, as noted above, have in fact been made invisible for quite some time.

This wasn’t always the case. Prewar Japan once prided itself on how ethnically diverse it was. Interbellum Japan had a sizable foreign-born population, and offered imperial citizenship to the peoples it colonized. Indeed, the Japanese government even claimed it was unique in colonizing peoples without the trappings of racial discrimination. Japan’s Pan-Asianism was better than the yoke of White Imperialism, they argued, because everyone being liberated was of the same Asian “race.”

Of course, a colonizer is still a colonizer, and minorities in Japan back then, as anywhere, not only endured exploitation, but also faced extra hurdles as Pan-Asians to “prove” themselves loyal subjects of Japan. This included conscription into the Japanese military and collaboration in the often brutal subjugation of their homelands.

When the Japanese Empire disappeared after the Pacific War, so allegedly did all the minorities in Japan. The subjects of empire were stripped of their Japanese citizenship and given marching orders to go back overseas. They could only remain in Japan with their investments if they took jobs on Japan’s economic peripheries (such as pachinko parlors or the criminal underworld), or if they registered as potentially subversive elements to the state (with criminal penalties for not carrying fingerprinted identification at all times). Putting them on a separate “foreign registry” system also enabled the government to exclude “foreigners” from Japan’s official population tallies—making them statistically invisible. The homogeneous Japanese ethnostate was a postwar invention.

But in this increasingly globalized world, Japan’s minorities need to become visible again. This column will highlight the underrepresented minorities, unpacking what keeps them disenfranchised from “mainstream” debate and dialog.

In the English-language news media, where foreign residents had a voice going back to the late 19th century, the trend has actually been in the direction of increased marginalization. Hardly ever do Non-Japanese get to create their own public image.

First you have the vanity-press English versions of the major newspapers: Asahi, Yomiuri, and Mainichi, which have long ago purged their ranks of actual foreign reporters doing original reporting.

Then there is the rightwing Fujisankei Communications Group, which bought up the foreigner-founded Japan Today and shifted its editorial bent away from foreign voices and toward Japan boosterism. That doesn’t even touch on the content of the unspeakable Japan Forward.

The once last-man-standing Japan Times has famously changed its tone under the new ownership that arrived in 2017, firing several of its major columnists who were critical of the government, and adopting officially-sanctioned terminology about historical events that adhere to an ahistorical line.

Other media run by minorities and Non-Japanese, including ethnic newspapers, newsletters, and websites, sadly have little reach and minimal impact on Japanese society.

Let’s try to change that. I look forward to writing for a Shingetsu News Agency that challenges the stale conventions and speaks truth to power. The point is to increase the visibility of minorities, and to assist Japanese of goodwill in dismantling the systems that keep them disenfranchised.

Thank you for reading me over the years. Let’s do some more good work.

ENDS

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

Read the full text also at
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/08/19/visible-minorities-debitos-new-column-for-the-shingetsu-news-agency/

Enjoy.  Let’s hit the last three months of this year running, and help reverse the tide of xenophobia that has swept liberal democracies worldwide.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

======================
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Book “Embedded Racism in Japan”, acclaimed as “important, courageous and challenging” and “a must-read” by prominent academic journals, now discounted to $34.99 if bought through publisher directly, using promo code LEX30AUTH16

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Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. Debito Arudou (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” has been receiving acclaim.   Prominent Japan Scholar Tessa Morris-Suzuki calls it “important, courageous and challenging“, the Pacific Affairs journal finds it “a timely and important contribution to social and scholarly debates about racial discrimination in Japan“, the Japan Studies Association of Canada says it is “an important contribution to geography, cultural and area studies“, and the Sociology and Ethnic Studies imprint of the American Sociological Association calls it “a brave critique of Japanese society and its failure to look outward in its demographic and economic development, … as it makes an important contribution for those wishing to understand racism in Japan better… The book would easily suit courses that address global conceptions of race and ethnicity and how these are changing in Japan at both the micro and macro levels because of globalization.”

Dr. Robert Aspinall in a review in Social Science Journal Japan concludes:

“There are important academic contributions to the study of racism in Japan in this book, but it is as a must-read text on the crisis facing the shrinking Japanese population and its leaders that it really leaves its mark. Embedded Racism is highly recommended reading to anyone—whether they self-identify as Japanese or foreign or both—who is interested in Japan’s future.” (read more)

“Embedded Racism” has been discounted 30% for a limited time to $34.99 in paperback and Kindle if bought through my publisher (Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield) directly.

Go to https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781498513906/Embedded-Racism-Japan’s-Visible-Minorities-and-Racial-Discrimination and use promo code LEX30AUTH16. (Japan residents have reported getting the book in about a week for $40 including quick shipping.)

More information and reviews on the book at http://www.debito.org/embeddedracism.html.

Download a book flyer and order form at http://www.debito.org/EmbeddedRacismPaperbackflyer.pdf

More than 130 of the world’s major research libraries (including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, Columbia…) have in its first year of publication made “Embedded Racism” part of their collections (according to WorldCat).  Add it to yours!

Thanks very much as always for reading!  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

======================
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Japan Times JBC 116: “‘Love it or leave it’ is not a real choice” (on how Trump’s alienation of critics of color is standard procedure in Japan), July 24, 2019

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Hi Blog. My latest Japan Times column, talking about how Trump’s recent use of a racist trope, denying people of color the right to belong in a society simply because they disagree with the dominant majority’s ideology, is taking a page from Japanese society’s standard tactics of forcing NJ and Visible Minorities to “love Japan or go home”. Excerpt follows below. Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg
‘Love it or leave it’ is not a real choice
BY DEBITO ARUDOU, THE JAPAN TIMES, JUL 24, 2019

Roiling American politics last week was a retort by President Donald Trump toward congresswomen of color critical of his policies.

First he questioned their standing (as lawmakers) to tell Americans how to run the government. Then he said they should “go back” to the places they came from and fix them first.

For good measure, he later tweeted, “If you are not happy here, you can leave!

The backlash was forceful. CNN, NPR, The New York Times, Washington Post and other media called it “racist.” Others called it “un-American,” pointing out that telling people to go back to other countries might violate federal antidiscrimination laws.

The Atlantic was even apocalyptic, arguing that “what Americans do now (in response) will define us forever” as the world’s last great bastion of multiracial democracy.

Why is this an issue for this column? Because it’s hard to imagine a similar backlash happening in Japan, even though this kind of alienation happens here often. [In fact, in Japan it’s old hat…]

Rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2019/07/24/issues/love-leave-not-real-choice/

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

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SCMP: “Japan: now open to foreign workers, but still just as racist?” Quotes Debito.

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Hi Blog.  As a follow-up to what I wrote for the Japan Times in my end-year column last January (see item #1), here’s the SCMP offering more insights into the issue of Japan’s new visa regimes and the feeling of plus ca change.  My comment about the article is within the article.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

Japan: now open to foreign workers, but still just as racist?

Japan is opening its doors to blue-collar workers from overseas to fill the gaps left by an ageing population
Resident ‘gaijin’ warn that the new recruits – whom the government refuses to call ‘immigrants’ – might not feel so welcome in Japan
By Julian Ryall, South China Morning Post, 11 May, 2019
https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3009800/japan-now-open-foreign-workers-still-just-racist

Japan’s reluctance to allow foreigners to fill the gaps in its labour market has finally crumbled, as the country begins issuing the first of its new visas for blue-collar workers from overseas.

The first exams for applicants are being held in locations across Japan and also in Manila, following the introduction last month of new visa classifications that the government expects will lead to the admittance of more than 345,000 foreigners over the next five years.

Teething problems appear all but inevitable given the nation is famously insular, is not experienced with large-scale immigration and has a deep distrust of change.

Companies struggling to find enough employees as the population ages and fewer young people enter the workforce have broadly welcomed the new immigration rules – though there are still many who insist that the government has made a mistake and that local people’s jobs and social harmony are at risk. Ultra-conservatives, meanwhile, are railing at the potential impact on the racial purity of their island nation.

And there are foreign residents of Japan who fear the new rules may encourage even more overt discrimination against “gaijin”, or foreigners, than already exists. According to government statistics, there are 2.217 million foreign residents of Japan, with Koreans, Chinese and Brazilians making up the largest national contingents.

The new visa has two versions, both requiring a company to sponsor the foreign worker and provide evidence that he or she has passed various tests, including on Japanese language ability.

Fourteen industries – including food services, cleaning, construction, agriculture, fishing, vehicle repair and machine operations – are covered by the first visa, aimed at those with limited work skills. The worker’s stay is limited to five years, with the option of visa renewals, but they are not permitted to bring their family members to Japan.

The second type of visa does permit skilled workers to bring their families to Japan when they meet certain criteria, although this has led to domestic criticism that the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has opened the door to enabling immigrants to settle permanently in Japan, despite the government’s insistence they are only in the country temporarily and are not immigrants.

Industry analysts say the issue needs to be addressed urgently, although they also warn that the 47,550 visas that are expected to be issued in the first year of the new scheme, and the total of 345,000 over the initial five years, will still fall well short of what domestic industries require.

Japan’s open to foreign workers. Just don’t call them immigrants

“Government statistics and industry are both telling us that the labour market is completely empty,” said Martin Schulz, senior economist for the Fujitsu Research Institute in Tokyo.

“With the boom in the construction sector ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, companies are becoming desperate,” he said. “They are finding it very hard to fulfil their current project requirements and they are refusing to take on new projects.

“But in truth, Japan has no choice but to open up to foreign workers,” Schulz said. “Even with more automation and robots, there are simply not enough people.”

Yet there has been significant resistance among those who fear their jobs will be taken by foreigners who will work longer hours for lower wages, those who say outsiders will cause problems because they will be unable to assimilate into Japanese society or struggle with the language barrier.

The concerns about foreigners settling in Japan cut both ways, however.

Very often, according to French expat Eric Fior, it’s the relatively minor but persistent incidents of discrimination in Japan that get under his skin. Such as the time it snowed heavily one winter and the janitor of the building in Yokohama where he had his office shovelled the snow away from every door in the building. Except his.

Or the time he confirmed with the management of the property that he could have some flower boxes outside his office door, just like the other tenants, and he was given permission to do so. Three days after he positioned the flower boxes, the nearby tap he used to water them was disconnected.

He asked the janitor where it had gone and got a shrug in reply. As the man turned away, Fior could see the tap in his pocket.

“What can you do?” said Fior, 47. “Japan is such a polite country on the surface and everyone smiles and bows, but there are a lot of times when you get the sense that not far below the surface is the wish that us foreigners were just not here.

“But there really is little point in confronting them as nothing will get done and we just end up with the reputation of ‘foreigners who cause problems’,” he shrugged.

Reports of discrimination against the foreign community in Japan are countless and varied – from landlords who refuse to rent to non-Japanese for no apparent reason other than their nationality, commuters who refuse to sit next to a foreigner on a packed train or signs at the entrances to bars or restaurants baldly stating “No foreigners” – but a new study indicates the scale of the problem.

Conducted by the Anti-Racism Information Centre, a group set up by activists and scholars, 167 of the 340 foreign nationals who took part in the study said they had experienced discriminatory treatment at the hands of Japanese.

Replying to the study, a foreign part-time shop employee recalled a Japanese customer who did not like seeing foreigners working as cashiers, refused to be served by them and demanded Japanese staff. Another response to the study noted the case of a Chinese employee of a 24-hour store who was reprimanded after speaking with a Chinese customer in Chinese and ordered to only speak in Japanese.

Others reported being refused rental accommodation or denied access to shops.

Activists point out, however, that the Japanese government’s new regulations that relax visa requirements for workers from abroad mean that there will soon be tens of thousands of additional foreigners living in Japanese communities.

“It’s a net positive that Japan is bringing over more people, since that may help normalise the fact that non-Japanese are contributing to Japanese society,” said Debito Arudou, author of Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination.

“But it is disappointing that Japan still is not doing the groundwork necessary to make these newcomers want to stay and contribute permanently,” he said. “The new visa regime still treats these non-Japanese entrants as ‘revolving-door’ workers, with no clear path to permanent residency or citizenship.

“And – as the surveys seem to indicate – one fundamental flaw in these plans is that non-Japanese are insufficiently protected from the bigotry found in all societies,” Arudou said.

“Japan still has no national law against racial discrimination, remaining the only major industrialised society without one. Even government mechanisms ostensibly charged with redressing discrimination have no enforcement power.”

Tokyo needs to pass the laws that make racial discrimination illegal, empower oversight organisations and create an actual immigration policy instead of a “stop-gap labour shortage visa regime”, he said.

“At the very least, tell the public that non-Japanese workers are workers like everyone else, filling a valuable role, contributing to Japanese society and are residents, taxpayers, neighbours and potential future Japanese citizens,” he added.

Discrimination is arguably felt more by people from other Asian nations than Westerners, while even Japanese women are often described as second-class citizens purely as a result of their gender.

“I first came to Japan in the 1970s to attend university and, being from a third-world country, the Philippines, I encountered a few obstacles when I was looking for apartments,” said Joy Saison, who today has her own business and is a consultant to a French start-up company.

“Despite fulfilling the requirements for a Japanese guarantor and having bank statements, there were many occasions when I was refused,” she said. “Back then, going to an ‘onsen’ or restaurant with ‘gaijin’ friends was a pain, too. If none of us looked Japanese enough, we were refused entry right at the door.”

But Saison has a theory about racism in Japan.

“Japan has always been a homogenous society and so the default mindset here is that anything alien to them gets scrutinised and is not trusted,” she said. “But having a win-win attitude will get you on their good side.”
ENDS

===================
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My Japan Times JBC 115: “Know your rights when checking in at an Airbnb” (Apr 17, 2019)

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Hi Blog.  Here’s and excerpt of my latest Japan Times Just Be Cause Column 115, on NJ check in at hotels and Airbnb.  Reports to Debito.org are already coming in that police are willfully misinterpreting the law, so be prepared if necessary to produce the law and stand your ground.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE

Know your rights when checking in at an Airbnb
BY DEBITO ARUDOU, 
THE JAPAN TIMES, APR 17, 2019

Last year, the government passed a law covering minpaku, which is when people rent out space on their properties to travelers (a la Airbnb). The law is part of an effort to regulate accommodations amid a tourism boom ahead of the 2020 Olympics.

One issue for non-Japanese travelers, though, has been whether they must show ID such as a passports at check-in.

For hotels, which fall under the Hotel Business Law, the regulation has always been this: For any adult, Japanese or non-Japanese, who has an address in Japan, ID is not required. You just write your contact details in the guest registry. However, for guests who don’t reside in this country, displaying ID (i.e., your passport) is required.

Seems straightforward so far, right? But as has been reported several times over more than 10 years of this column, the police (and occasionally the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare) have confused things. Some hotels have been instructed that all “foreign guests” must show ID, specifically their passports…

Rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2019/04/17/issues/know-rights-checking-airbnb/

More information at http://www.debito.org/?p=15559.

=============================
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Debito’s first article in Shingetsu News Agency: “The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite” (Feb 2, 2019) (FULL TEXT)

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Hi Blog.  A couple of days ago I commented on an article in the Japan Times by a former Ministry of Foreign Affairs diplomat and TV pundit Miyake Kunihiko (or “Kuni”, for gaijin ingratiation) who has a weekly JT space for his musings.  A pedigreed elite trained in international “Gaijin Handling”, Miyake clumsily talks about Japan’s race relations and multiethnic future by critiquing tennis champ Osaka Naomi’s “Japaneseness”.

My JT comment helped draw readers to the article, and I’ve just written my first feature piece for the Shingetsu News Agency (the only independent English-language media left in Japan not toeing a Japanese government line) about what Miyake’s article indicates in terms of the decline in the JT’s analytical abilities, as it swings rightward to knuckle under to revisionist pressure on Japanese media and curry favor with Japan’s elites.  It also cites other research from Reuters and the Asia-Pacific Journal (Japan Focus).  Full text follows for the record.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite
By Debito Arudou

Shingetsu News Agency, February 2, 2019

Courtesy http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/02/02/the-japan-times-becomes-servant-to-the-elite/ (full text reproduced with permission)

SNA (Honolulu) — On January 28, the Japan Times published an opinion piece titled, “How Japanese is Naomi Osaka?” Author Kunihiko Miyake “felt something odd” about how the multiethnic tennis champ could ever “represent Japan.” Miyake’s article is indicative of how the quality of analysis has slipped under the Japan Times’ new ownership, and suggests how the purposes of the organization have changed…

To start with Miyake and his most recent article, he questions just how “Japanese” Naomi Osaka is: “Yes, she is [the first Japanese to be ranked World No. 1 in tennis]. But not quite so, is she?” He goes on to pick over her Haitian-American-Japanese background, noting that she “calls America home” and plays for Japan because of “more financial support.”

His insinuation is that foreigners such as Osaka are motivated to come to Japan for the money, not because they actually like the place and want to contribute.

Miyake’s column then veers off topic to snipe at “stereotypical comments on Osaka’s victory” made by “expat pundits living in Japan” who “criticize xenophobia and discrimination in Japanese society.” He is suffused with righteous indignation after his own not-entirely-logical detour.

He concludes that discrimination and xenophobia are “quite common everywhere.” He asks: What about discrimination in the Middle East, Europe, and even the United States? The “whataboutism” is indeed strong in this one, as well as the “foreigners can’t criticize Japan” sentiment.

Miyake then declares that “Japan is learning lessons as well,” noting how it is becoming a multiracial and multicultural society—to the point where sometimes “Japanese nationals are minorities.” But he still can’t help adding that tinge of fear of being outnumbered.

Miyake’s heart does seem to be in the right place when he opines that foreigners and biracial Japanese “are not rare anymore” and that Japan will have to learn “how to get along well with foreign newcomers.” But again, he’s implying, even after generations of international marriages and children born here, that Japan’s multiculturality and multiethnicity is a recent development.

The only thing that is new is the fact that one of Japan’s multiethnic citizens has become a world champion. So now it matters.

Miyake returns to Naomi Osaka to graciously pronounce her as “very Japanese,” citing her behavior, such as having the “Japanese characteristics” of “modesty, politeness, honesty, and humility.” (Never mind that her opponent in the champion match, Petra Kvitova, was similarly polite and gracious in defeat. Does it logically follow that Kvitova and anyone else who is polite must be Japanese as well?)

Miyake makes a good point towards the end, where he rightly asserts that, “It’s time for Japan to allow dual citizenship.”

His reasoning, however, is askew. It’s not because dual passports would save Naomi Osaka (and thousands of other multiethnic Japanese children) the emotional pain of sacrificing part of their identity to fit into an artificial binary, but rather because “Japan will lose one of their greatest tennis players.” In other words, it’s for the good of the nation, the kokutai, through which Japanese can feel communal superiority.

The Broader Picture of Japan Times Changes

This half-baked column is indicative of something much larger—a decline in analytical prowess due to the editorial changes at the Japan Times in recent years.

The Japan Times came under new ownership in June 2017 by the media group News2u Holdings, a PR company. In an unexpected editorial shift, last November the Japan Times announced that it would henceforth be rewording the “potentially misleading” (and internationally-recognized) terms “Comfort Women”—which is already a direct translation of the official euphemism of ianfu—as “women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.” Likewise, the term “forced laborers” would now be rendered merely as “wartime laborers,” following the new government policy.

Aside from journalistic concerns about cramming a wordy term into concise articles, it wasn’t hard for media observers to understand this as a response to government pressure, already manifest in Japanese media and world history textbooks, to portray Japan’s past in a more exculpatory light.

Reuters has since reported that the executive editor of the Japan Times, Hiroyasu Mizuno, was recorded at a meeting with staff as saying, “I want to get rid of criticism that Japan Times is anti-Japanese.” Another executive added that this would increase advertising revenues from Japanese companies and institutions.

Reuters added that the Japan Times “had already increased government ad sales and scored an exclusive interview with [Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe after dropping a column by Jeff Kingston, director of Asia studies at Temple University Japan, who had been writing weekly on what he saw as the Abe administration’s historical revisionism.”

Symbolizing this shift, Shingetsu News Agency last December drew attention to a photo of News2u Publisher and Chair Minako Kambara Suematsu literally cozying up to Prime Minister Abe at a public event.

Reuters concluded by pointing out a remarkable coincidence: Late last year, the ultraconservative think tank Japan Institute for National Fundamentals zeroed in on the Japan Times, demanding they refer to plaintiffs in a controversial Korean court ruling on the Comfort Women as “wartime Korean workers,” thereby leaving out the nuance of forced labor or sexual slavery. Two weeks later, the Japan Times changed its wording.

The academic venue Asia-Pacific Journal (Japan Focus) has also published a detailed article by David McNeill and Justin McCurry depicting internal tensions within the Japan Times, with petitions for change, staff being yanked from their beat, editorial refusals to cover certain news stories, and connections to far-right groups decrying the “poor quality of Japan’s English-language media, the gateway through which foreign nationals access information about the country.”

Fear and Favor

In sum, the Japan Times is clearly bowing to the years of pressure from the Abe administration, the longest-lasting and furthest-right political administration in Japan’s postwar era. As a media outlet, the Japan Times has long been seen as means of “communicating Japan to the world” (i.e. not a forum for discussion about Japan’s domestic problems), and those in charge want that message to be favorable.

I myself have been a contributing writer for the Japan Times since 2002, writing as the “Just Be Cause” column since 2008. My specialty is human rights issues towards non-Japanese residents. In other words, I cover domestic problems.

Since 2017 and the arrival of the new team, I have felt a palpable editorial chill come over my submissions, and my column went from a monthly to a “pitch-an-idea-for-us-to-approve” status. Now I’m lucky if I get an article published every few months.

In fairness, the Japan Times did recently publish my annual top ten list of human rights issues, where I put the Japan Times editorial issues as the #3 concern of 2018, but clearly my writing used to be published at this newspaper in a much more hard-hitting fashion.

For example, my column of July 6, 2015, noted how the Fujisankei Communications Group acquisition of news outlet Japan Today had shifted the English-language media landscape rightward politically, with articles becoming more assiduous in pointing out non-Japanese misbehavior, yet muted in its criticism of Japan.

This was after the English-language arms of Japan’s major newspapers, including the Daily Yomiuri (eventually relaunched as The Japan News), the Daily Mainichi, and the Asahi Evening News, had relegated their foreign staff away from investigative journalism into mere translation duties.

The chair of NHK, Katsuto Momii, even went so far as to state publicly in 2016 that his network would not report on contentious subjects until the government has “an official stance” on them—meaning that NHK is willfully acting as a government mouthpiece.

Back then, I had concluded that the Japan Times is “the only sustainable venue left” with investigative non-Japanese and independently-thinking Japanese writers who are “bravely critiquing current government policy without fretting about patriotism or positively promoting Japan’s image abroad.” I’m not confident anymore that this remains the case.

So how does one become a regular Japan Times columnist nowadays? Let’s check back in with Kunihiko Miyake.

Since April 16, 2018, Miyake’s musings have been appearing weekly. No doubt his solid pedigree got his foot in the door. A prominent television pundit, Miyake’s tagline indicates he is “President of the Foreign Policy Institute and Researcher at the Canon Institute for Global Studies.” He is also a former diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a Tokyo University Law graduate.

This fulfills the Japan Times’ apparent need at the current juncture to cozy up to Japan’s elites.

The downside is that Miyake’s column is evidence of the blindness of Japan’s brahmins. He is essentially a person trained in international “gaijin handling” trying to make insightful comments on Japan’s current race relations and multiethnic future. Bring back Jeff Kingston!

The Japan Times is clearly trading quality journalistic insight for elite access, privilege, and funding. By hewing to a government-approved line, its quality as a news and analytical source will therefore continue to decline.

ENDS

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

As Michael Penn at SNA notes, “I’m pleased to note that Debito Arudou has contributed his first article to the Shingetsu News Agency. Aside from being a strong article, it’s another step toward getting a wider range of writers taking advantage of our progressive news media platform.”  Other writers and investigators, please feel free to pitch something to SNA as well.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

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Japan Times JBC 114 DIRECTOR’S CUT of “Top Ten for 2018” column, with links to sources

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Hi Blog.  Now that the clicks have died down on my latest Japan Times JBC column of January 28, 2019 (thanks for putting it in the Top Ten trending articles once again), what follows is the first final draft I submitted to the Japan Times for editing on December 29, 2018.  I blog this version because a lot of information is lost (inevitably) as we cut the word count from 2800 to 1600 words. (I generally put everything in the first final draft, then cut it down to fit the page; that way we don’t overlook anything and have to backtrack.)

People have been asking what got cut (and yes, the original version mentions Michael Woodford and Jeff Kingston), so the piece below is quite a bit different from what appeared in the Japan Times here (meaning it shouldn’t draw away any readers from the JT version; in fact, it will probably spur more views from readers wanting to compare). Also, having links to sources matter, so here it all is, including my regular acerbic tone.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

A TOP TEN FOR 2018
By Debito Arudou, Japan Times Just Be Cause Column 114
To be published January 3, 2019
DRAFT SIX: VERSION WITH LINKS TO SOURCES INCLUDED

Welcome to JBC’s annual countdown of human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan. Ranked in ascending order, these issues are bellwethers for how NJ in Japan may be treated in 2019 and beyond:

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

10) Fourth-Generation Japanese Brazilians snub new visa program

Last March, the Justice Ministry announced a new diaspora visa regime to attract back children of Brazilian-Japanese who had previously worked in Japan. The latter had been brought in from 1990 under a former preferential “Returnee Visa” regime, which essentially granted a form of permanent residency to NJ with Japanese bloodlines.

The Returnee program was so successful that by 2007, Brazilians had swelled to more than 300,000 residents, the third-largest NJ minority in Japan. Unfortunately, there was a big economic downturn in 2008. As Returnees lost their jobs, the government declined to assist them, even bribing them to “go home” (JBC Apr 7, 2009) and forfeit their visa, unemployment insurance, pensions, and other investments in Japan over a generation. They left in droves.

Fast forward ten years, and an unabashed government (facing a labor shortage exacerbated by the 2020 Olympics) now offers this reboot: Fourth-gen Nikkei, with sufficient Japanese language abilities, plus a secure job offer and family support already in Japan, can stay up to five years.

They expected a quota of 4000 workers would soon be filled. Except for one problem: This time they stayed away in droves. By the end of October, three months into the program, the Nikkei Shimbun reported there were exactly zero applicants.

So much for bloodlines. The word is out and the jig is up.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/03/30/national/preferential-visa-system-extended-foreign-fourth-generation-japanese/
Nikkei: http://www.debito.org/?p=15191
JBC Apr 7 2009 http://www.debito.org/?p=2930

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

9) Naomi Osaka’s victory at US Open Tennis.

Speaking of bloodlines, JBC wrote about American-Haitian-Japanese Naomi Osaka’s win last year (“Warning to Naomi Osaka: Playing for Japan can seriously shorten your career,” Sep. 19) as a cautionary tale for anyone representing this country as an international athlete. However, as far as the Top Ten goes, her victory matters because it inspires discussion on a fundamental question: “What is a Japanese?”

Japanese society relentlessly polices a narrative of purity of identity. That means that some Japanese citizens, despite spending their lives in Japan, often get shunted to the “half” category if they don’t “look Japanese,” or relegated to “returnee children” status because their dispositions don’t “fit in” with the putative norm due to living overseas. Uniformity is a virtue and a requirement for equal treatment here. The “nail sticking up” and all that, you know.

Yet what happens to Japanese citizens who spend most of their life overseas, even take foreign citizenships, and publicly grumble about how they wouldn’t have been successful if they’d remained in Japan (as some Nobel laureates with Japanese roots have)? They’d get hammered down, right?

Not if they win big internationally. Suddenly, they’re “Japanese” with few or any asterisks. It’s a common phenomenon in racialized societies: “They’ll claim us if we’re famous.”

Naomi Osaka won big. May she continue to do so. But let’s see if she can follow in the footsteps of other diverse Japanese chosen to represent Japan, such as former Miss Japan beauty queens Ariana Miyamoto and Priyanka Yoshikawa (who as “halfs” also spoke out against racial discrimination in Japan; alas, their impact was minimized because they didn’t win big internationally).

In any case, the more successful diverse Japanese who can highlight the fallacies of Japan’s pure-blood narrative, the better.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=15160
http://www.debito.org/?p=15156
http://www.debito.org/?p=15145

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

8) Zainichi Korean wins hate speech lawsuit on grounds of “racial discrimination”.

The wheels of justice turn slowly in Japan, but sometimes in the right direction. Ms. Lee Sin Hae, a “Zainichi Special Permanent Resident” generational foreigner, was frequently defamed in public hate rallies by Zaitokukai, an anti-Korean hate group. She sued them in 2014 for hate speech, racial discrimination, and gender discrimination. She won in the District Court in 2016, the High Court in 2017, and shortly afterwards in the Supreme Court when they declined to review the case.

Ms. Lee’s case stands as yet another example of how Japan’s new hate speech laws have legally-actionable consequences. Others similarly defamed can now cite Lee’s precedent and (mildly) punish offenders. It’s also another case of discrimination against Japan’s minorities being classified as “racial,” not “ethnic” etc.

This matters because Japan is the only major developed country without a national law criminalizing racial discrimination. And it has officially argued to the United Nations that racism doesn’t happen enough here to justify having one. Lee’s case defies that lie.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=14973 “Officially argued”: http://www.debito.org/japanvsun.html (For context, do a word search for the following paragraph: “We do not recognize that the present situation of Japan is one in which discriminative acts cannot be effectively restrained by the existing legal system and in which explicit racial discriminative acts, which cannot be restrained by measures other than legislation, are conducted. Therefore, penalization of these acts is not considered necessary.”)

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

7) Setagaya-ku passes Anti-Discrimination Ordinance specifically against racial discrimination etc.

On that note, movements at the local level against racial discrimination are afoot. Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, one of Japan’s first municipalities to recognize same-sex marriages, passed an ordinance last March that will protect (after a fashion) racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities from discrimination and hate speech.

I say “after a fashion” because it, as usual, has no punishments for offenders. The best it can do is investigate claims from aggrieved residents, inform the mayor, and offer official evidence for future lawsuits.

But it’s a positive step because 1) we’ve had city governments (such as Tsukuba in 2010, home of a major international university) go in exactly the opposite direction, passing alarmist resolutions against suffrage for NJ permanent residents; and 2) we had a prefectural government (Tottori) pass an anti-discrimination ordinance in 2005, only to have it unpass it mere weeks later due to bigoted backlash.

That didn’t happen this time in Setagaya-ku. The ordinance stands. Baby steps in the right direction.

Sources: http://www.kanaloco.jp/article/314740
http://www.city.setagaya.lg.jp/static/oshirase20170920/pdf/p02.pdf
http://www.city.setagaya.lg.jp/kurashi/101/167/321/d00158583_d/fil/tekisuto2.txt
http://www.debito.org/?p=14902
Tottori: http://www.debito.org/japantimes050206.html
Tsukuba: http://www.debito.org/?p=8459

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

6) Immigration Bureau to be upgraded into Immigration Agency.

Last August, the government said that to deal with the record influx of foreign tourists and workers (more below), more manpower would be needed to administrate them. So as of April this year, the Nyukyoku Kanri Kyoku (“Country-Entrant Management Bureau”) is scheduled to become the Nyukoku Zairyu Kanri Cho (“Country-Entering Residency Management Agency”), with an extra 500 staff and an expanded budget.

Critics may (rightly) deride this move as merely a measure to tighten control over NJ, as the “Immigration Bureau” was a mistranslation in the first place. Japan has no official “immigration” policy to help newcomers become permanent residents or citizens, and the Bureau’s main role, as an extension of Japan’s law enforcement, has been to police NJ, not assist them. (After all, according to the Justice Ministry, 125 NJ workers have died under work-related conditions since 2010; where was the Bureau to prevent this?)

However, the fact remains that if Japan will ever get serious about its looming demographic disaster (where an aging society with record-low birthrates is shrinking its taxpaying workforce to the point of insolvency), it has to deal with the issue of importing workers to fill perpetual labor shortages. It has to come up with an immigration policy to make foreigners into permanent residents and citizens.

The only way that will happen is if the government establishes an organization to do so. An upgrade from a Bureau to an Agency is one step away from becoming an actual Ministry, separate from the mere policing mandate of the Justice Ministry.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/08/28/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-set-immigration-agency-cope-influx-blue-collar-ranks-abroad-new-status/
http://www.debito.org/?p=15129
Agency name change: https://www.sankei.com/politics/news/180828/plt1808280006-n1.html
125 NJ workers died: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/12/13/national/justice-ministry-reveals-174-foreign-technical-interns-japan-died-2010-2017/

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

5) Govt. to further centralize surveillance system of NJ.

Now, to acknowledge the naysayers, last year the government gave more power to the Justice Ministry to track NJ, in an effort to stop “visa overstayers” and keep an eye on tourists and temporary workers. This is on top of the other measures this decade, including the remotely-readable RFID-chipped Gaijin Card in 2012, proposing using NJ fingerprinting as currency in 2016 (in order to “enable the government to analyze the spending habits and patterns of foreign tourists;” yeah, sure), and facial recognition devices specifically targeting “foreigners” at the border from 2014.

This is the negative side of inviting NJ to visit as tourists or stay awhile as workers: Japan’s police forces get antsy about a perceived lack of control, and get increased budgets to curtail civil liberties.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/18/national/counter-illegal-overstayers-government-plans-system-centrally-manage-information-foreign-residents/
RFID: http://www.debito.org/?p=10750
Fingerprinting: http://www.debito.org/?p=13926
Facial recognition: http://www.debito.org/?p=12306 and http://www.debito.org/?p=14539

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

On the positive side, however:

4) Tourism to Japan reaches record 30 million in 2018.

Admittedly, when the government launched its “Visit Japan” campaign in 2010, and cheerily projected a huge expansion of NJ tourism from single-digit millions to double- a decade ago, JBC was skeptical. Government surveys in 2008 indicated that 70% of hotels that had never had NJ guests didn’t want them anyway. And of the 400+ “Japanese Only” places I surveyed for my doctoral fieldwork, the vast majority were hotels—some even encouraged by government organs to refuse NJ entry (JBC, “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry,” Jul 6, 2010)!

Times change, and now NJ tourism (mostly from Asia, chiefly China, South Korea, and Taiwan) has become a major economic driver. Local and national business sectors once pessimistic about the future are flush with cash. And by the 2020 Olympics, the tourist influx is projected to skyrocket to 40 million.

Naturally, this much flux has occasioned grumbling and ill-considered quick-fixes. We’ve had media gripes about Chinese spending and littering habits, a “Chinese Only” hotel in Sapporo, separate “foreigner” taxi stands at JR Kyoto Station (enforced by busybodies disregarding NJ language abilities), and even a “Japanese Only” tourist information booth in JR Beppu Station.

The worst fallout, however, is the new “Minpaku Law” passed last June. It adds bureaucratic layers to Airbnb home-sharing, and shores up the already stretched-thin hotel industry’s power over accommodation alternatives.

The government also resorted to coded xenophobia to promote the law. Citing “security” and “noise concerns,” Tokyo’s Chuo Ward indicated that letting “strangers” into apartments could be “unsafe.” Shibuya Ward only permitted Minpaku during school holidays, so “children won’t meet strangers” on the way to school. Not to be outdone, NHK Radio implied that ISIS terrorists might use home lodging as a base for terrorist attacks.

It’s one thing to be ungrateful for all the tourist money. It’s quite another to treat visitors as a threat after inviting them over. If not handled properly, the influx from the 2020 Olympics has the potential to empower Japan’s knee-jerk xenophobes even further.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/12/18/national/japan-marks-new-record-foreign-visitors-top-30-million-2018/
2008 hotel survey: http://www.debito.org/?p=12306
“Visit Japan” and “new economic driver” stats: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/08/25/reference/tourism-emerges-new-economic-driver-japan/
Exclusionary hotels encouraged by govt. organs: http://www.debito.org/?p=1941 and JBC http://www.debito.org/?p=7145
Tourism Stats: https://www.tourism.jp/en/tourism-database/stats/inbound/#annual
Grumbling about tourist manners: http://www.debito.org/?s=Chinese+tourist and http://www.debito.org/?p=2301
Chinese Only hotel: http://www.debito.org/?p=6864
Beppu: http://www.debito.org/?p=14954
Minpaku xenophobia and ISIS: http://www.debito.org/?p=15051

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

3) Japan Times changes wording on controversial historical terms and topics.

Previously, JBC (July 6, 2015) noted how the Fuji-Sankei acquisition of news outlet Japan Today had shifted the English-language media landscape rightward politically, with articles becoming more assiduous in pointing out NJ misbehavior, yet muted in their criticism of Japan.

This was after the English-language arms of Japan’s major newspapers, including the Daily Yomiuri (now The Japan News), the Daily Mainichi, and the Asahi Evening News, had relegated their foreign staff away from investigative journalism into mere translation duties. Not to mention the chair of NHK, Katsuto Momii, stated publicly in 2016 that his TV network would not report on contentious subjects until the government has “an official stance” (effectively making NHK a government mouthpiece).

These “contentious subjects” included portrayals of historical events, like NJ forced into labor for wartime Japanese companies, and “Comfort Women” forced sexual services under Japanese military occupation.

Back then, JBC concluded that the JT is “the only sustainable venue left with investigative NJ journalists, NJ editors and independently-thinking Japanese writers, bravely critiquing current government policy without fretting about patriotism or positively promoting Japan’s image abroad.”

But last November, the JT, under new ownership since 2017, came out with a new editorial stance.

Stating that “Comfort Women” (already a direct translation of the official euphemism of ianfu) was potentially misleading, because their experiences “in different areas throughout the course of the war varied widely,” the JT would henceforth “refer to ‘comfort women’ as ‘women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers’”. Likewise with the term “forced laborers,” which would now be rendered as “wartime laborers” because of varying recruiting patterns.

Aside from journalistic concerns about rendering these wordy terms in concise articles, it wasn’t hard for media pundits to portray this as a response to government pressure, already seen on Japanese media and overseas world history textbooks, to portray Japan’s past in a more exculpatory light. And with at least one government-critical columnist (Jeff Kingston) no longer writing for us, JBC now wonders if the JT remains the last one standing.

Sources: Govt. pressure on Japanese media: https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/05/27/the-silencing-of-japans-free-press-shinzo-abe-media/ and plenty more.
Govt. pressure on overseas history textbooks: http://www.debito.org/?s=history+textbook

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

2) Carlos Ghosn’s arrest.

The former CEO of Nissan and Mitsubishi motors (but remaining as CEO at Renault), Ghosn was arrested last November and indicted in December for inter alia allegedly underreporting his income for tax purposes. As of this writing, he remains in police custody for the 23-day cycles of interrogations and re-arrests, until he confesses to a crime.

This event has been well-reported elsewhere, so let’s focus on the JBC issues: Ghosn’s arrest shows how far you can fall if you’re foreign. Especially if you’re foreign.

One red flag was that the only two people arrested in this fiasco have been foreign: Ghosn and his associate, Greg Kelly. Kelly is now out on bail due to health concerns. But where are the others doing similar malfeasances? According to Reuters, Kobe Steel underreported income in 2008, 2011, and 2013, and committed data fraud for “nearly five decades.” Same with Toray and Ube Industries, Olympus, Takata, Mitsubishi Materials, Nissan, and Subaru.

Who’s been arrested? Nobody but those two foreigners.

And Japan’s judicial system has a separate track for NJ suspects, including harsher jurisprudence for NJs accused of crimes, lax jurisprudence for NJ victims of crimes, uneven language translation services, general denial of bail for NJ, an extra incarceration system for subsequent visa violations while in jail, and incarceration rates for NJs four times that for citizens. (See my book Embedded Racism, Ch. 6.)

Most indicative of separate and unequal treatment is that some of the accusations, which fall under a statute of limitations of seven years under the Companies Act, are still applicable. Prosecutors have argued that statutes do not apply to Ghosn because he spent time overseas. Apparently even the passage of time is different for foreigners, because the clock stops if they ever leave Japan!

It’s JBC’s view that this is a boardroom coup. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Ghosn was planning to oust a rival, Hiroto Saikawa, who has since taken Ghosn’s place as CEO. A similar thing happened to at Olympus in 2011, when CEO Michael Woodford broke ranks and came clean on boardroom grift. He was fired for not understanding “Japanese culture,” since that’s the easiest thing to pin on any foreigner.

But in Woodford’s case, he was fired, not arrested and subjected to Japan’s peculiar system of “hostage justice” police detention, where detainees are denied access to basic amenities (including sleep or lawyers) for weeks at a time, and interrogated until they crack and confess, with more than 99.9% conviction rates.

The good news is that finally overseas media is waking up to what Japan’s Federation of Bar Associations and the UN Committee Against Torture have respectively called “a breeding ground for false charges” and “tantamount to torture.” Funny thing is, if this had happened in China, we’d have had howls much sooner about the gross violations of Ghosn’s human rights.

Sources: Kelly health concerns: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/12/26/business/corporate-business/greg-kelly-close-aide-carlos-ghosn-denies-allegations-release-bail/
Kobe Steel Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-kobe-steel-scandal-ceo/kobe-steel-admits-data-fraud-went-on-nearly-five-decades-ceo-to-quit-idUSKBN1GH2SM
Ghosn planned to replace CEO Saikawa https://www.wsj.com/articles/carlos-ghosn-planned-to-replace-nissan-ceo-before-his-arrest-1544348502
Olympus and Takata other issues https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-12-06/carlos-ghosn-s-arrest-and-the-backlash-to-japan-nissan
Statute of limitations does not apply. “Japan’s Companies Act has a statute of limitations of seven years. Prosecutors argue this does not apply due to the amount of time Ghosn has spent outside the country.”
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Nissan-s-Ghosn-crisis/Ghosn-rearrested-for-alleged-aggravated-breach-of-trust
Woodford Olympus: http://www.debito.org/?p=9576
World waking up: https://www.standard.co.uk/business/jim-armitage-carlos-ghosn-treatment-shines-harsh-light-on-justice-in-japan-a3998291.html
JFBA: https://www.nichibenren.or.jp/library/en/document/data/daiyo_kangoku.pdf
Tantamount to torture: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=2ahUKEwjW_7Pcp8XfAhV1GDQIHcSIDTEQFjAAegQICRAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdocstore.ohchr.org%2FSelfServices%2FFilesHandler.ashx%3Fenc%3D6QkG1d%252FPPRiCAqhKb7yhsmoIqL9rS46HZROnmdQS5bNEx%252FmMJfuTuMXK%252BwvAEjf9L%252FVjLz4qKQaJzXzwO5L9HgK1Q6dtH8fP8MDfu52LvR5McDW%252FSsgyo8lMOU8RgptX&usg=AOvVaw22H5dQMWcKYHizy8NNIuqY
Other irregularities noted in the JT by Glen Fukushima: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2018/12/20/commentary/japan-commentary/seven-questions-ghosn-nissan/

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

1) New immigration visa regime to expand nonskilled labor in Japan.

The event with the largest potential for impact on NJ residents in Japan would have to be the government’s passing of a new visa regime to officially allow unskilled workers (a departure from decades of policy) to make up for labor shortfalls in targeted industries, including nursing, food service, construction and maintenance, agriculture, and hotels.

It would allow people to stay for longer (up to five years), and even beyond that, if they qualify with secure job offers and language abilities, to the point of permanent residency. In theory, at least.

Disclaimers have been typical: Officials have denied that this is an “immigration policy,” sluicing off concerns that Japan will be overrun and undermined by hordes of NJ.

But this new visa regime matters because the government is clearly taking the inevitable measures to shore up its labor force against the abovementioned demographic crisis. To the tune of about 345,000 new workers. It’s an official step towards what we are seeing already in certain industries (like convenience stores in big cities), where NJ workers are no longer unusual.

Yes, the government may at any time decide to do a housecleaning by revoking these visas whenever NJ might reach a critical mass (as happened many times in the past). And it also has insufficiently addressed longstanding and widespread labor abuses in its Technical Trainee and Interns market. But the fact remains that bringing in proportionally more NJ, as the Japanese population shrinks, will make them less anomalous.

One way that minorities make themselves less threatening to a society is by normalizing themselves. Making people see NJ as co-workers, indispensable helpers, neighbors, maybe even friends. The cynical side of JBC thinks this is unlikely to happen. But it’s not going to happen without numbers, and that’s what this new visa regime is encouraging.

As evidence of change, the rigorous Pew Research Center last year surveyed several countries between about their attitudes towards international migration. One question, “In your opinion, should we allow more immigrants to move to our country, fewer immigrants, or about the same as we do now?” had positive responses from Japan that were the highest of any country surveyed—81% saying “more” or “the same.”

I was incredulous, especially since the word “immigration” (imin) has been a taboo term in Japan’s policy circles (JBC Nov 3, 2009). So I contacted Pew directly to ask how the question was rendered in Japanese. Sure enough, the question included “imin no suu” (immigration numbers).

This is something I had never seen before. And as such, changing policies as well as changing attitudes may result in sea changes towards NJ residents within our lifetimes.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/02/national/major-policy-shift-japan-oks-bill-let-foreign-manual-workers-stay-permanently/
345,000: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/14/national/politics-diplomacy/345000-foreign-workers-predicted-come-japan-new-visas-government/
Pew: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/12/10/many-worldwide-oppose-more-migration-both-into-and-out-of-their-countries/#more-309372 and https://www.axios.com/newsletters/axios-am-aca76f69-2982-4b0e-a36c-512c21841dc2.html?chunk=4&utm_term=emshare#story4
JBC Nov 3: http://www.debito.org/?p=4944
See also forwarded email from Pew below.

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

Bubbling under: Registered Foreign Residents reach new postwar record of 2.5 million. Alarmist government probe into “foreigner fraud” of Japan’s Health Insurance system reveals no wrongdoing (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/09/12/national/probe-abuse-health-insurance-foreigners-japan-stirs-claims-prejudice/). Fake rumors about NJ criminal behavior during Osaka quake officially dispelled by government (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/19/national/different-disaster-story-osaka-quake-prompts-online-hate-speech-targeting-foreigners/).
Former British Ambassador and Japan Times columnist Sir Hugh Cortazzi dies.
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2018/08/23/commentary/japan-commentary/bidding-sir-hugh-cortazzi-farewell/

ENDS

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

Source on Pew Question in original Japanese. Forwarding email exchange from Pew Research Center itself:

Begin forwarded message:

From: Pew Research Center <info@pewresearch.org>
Subject: RE: Question about your recent Global Attitudes survey
Date: December 11, 2018
To: ” Debito A”

Hi Debito,

Thank you for reaching out. The original Japanese text is below:

Q52 In your opinion, should we allow more immigrants to move to our country, fewer immigrants, or about the same as we do now? Q52 日本に受け入れる移民の数を増やすべき、移民の数を減らすべき、または現状を維持すべき、のどれだと思われますか?

1 More 1.増やすべき
2 Fewer 2.減らすべき
3 About the same 3.現状を維持すべき
4 No immigrants at all (DO NOT READ) 4. 移民はまったくいない(読み上げない)
8 Don’t know (DO NOT READ) 8.わからない(読み上げない)
9 Refused (DO NOT READ) 9. 回答拒否(読み上げない)

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Best, [HT], Pew Research Center

ENDS

=================================
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Hi Blog.  Here’s a link to my latest Japan Times JBC column:

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

From new visas to a tourism backlash, the Top 10 issues that affected us in 2018 may forecast our future treatment

BY DEBITO ARUDOU, THE JAPAN TIMES, JANUARY 28, 2018

Every January, Just Be Cause takes a look at how things went for the non-Japanese residents of Japan (NJ) in the previous year.

While not everything made this year’s list — there were the false claims of “foreigner fraud” of the national health insurance system, and fake news of NJ crime in the wake of the Osaka quake in June — the issues that did, ranked in ascending order, may portend how our community is treated in 2019 and beyond.

10) Brazilians snub new visa

Rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2019/01/27/issues/new-visas-tourism-backlash-top-10-issues-affected-us-2018-may-forecast-future-treatment/

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

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Pop Matters.com: Foreigners’ Rights in Japan: Interview with Activist and Writer Debito Arudou

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

Hi Blog. A website called Pop Matters.com recently interviewed me regarding NJ rights and life in general in Japan. Have a look. Here’s an excerpt:

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

Q: A recent immigration issue in Japan is controversy over the new immigration law due to take effect in April, which will bring in 345,000 foreigners over five years to work in certain occupations such as construction, food service, and home-visit care for the elderly. What do you see as the pros and cons of the law?

Debito:  I’m going to take a wait-and-see attitude on it. The government of Prime Minister Abe, by introducing the new law, is acknowledging the fact that Japan needs to bring in foreign labor. There’s no other way to get around the current demographic crisis; the ageing population plus low birth rate means there aren’t enough people to pay the taxes and do the “dirty work” that most Japanese don’t want to do. But, as usual, it’s arranged so as not to allow these people to settle and invest in Japanese society. Over time, many entrants will surely gain a better understanding and appreciation of Japan, so they should be allowed to make a real contribution to Japanese society for their entire lives if they so choose.

Depriving them of that opportunity because they are essentially seen as temporary labor on revolving-door visas (if longer-term, this time) is basically the same mistake that has been made with the trainee / intern visa system Japan has had for more than two decades now. One wonders if Japan’s ruling elite is ever going to learn its lesson about giving quid pro quo to people who have made their investments into this society. If you stay here, learn the language, pay your taxes, and contribute to the workforce, sooner or later you should be allowed to stay permanently. But that’s not implicitly promised even in these new visas.

There has really never been a true “immigration policy”, one of making foreigners into Japanese, in Japan to this day. We don’t just need a temporary migrant labor policy. Bringing in more people in and of itself is not a viable solution to the demographic crisis. The solution is incentivizing them to stay and to become Japanese.

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

Entire interview at
https://www.popmatters.com/debito-arudou-interview-2625576904.html

Enjoy.  Debito

Happy New Year 2019! Annual Top Ten Human Rights list forthcoming

mytest

Hi Blog. Happy New Year 2019 to everyone! May you accomplish your goals and do what makes you happy.

Speaking of, my annual Top Ten Human Rights Issues that affected NJ residents of Japan is forthcoming. Any ideas from Debito.org Readers about what should have made the list? –Debito

UPDATE JANUARY 27:  Here it is: http://www.debito.org/?p=15528

My Japan Times JBC Col 113: “Warning to Naomi Osaka: Playing for Japan can seriously shorten your career” (Sep. 19, 2018)

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. Debito Arudou (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. Developed from an earlier post on Debito.org, here is my 113th JUST BE CAUSE column for The Japan Times Community page.  Here’s a teaser opening with a link to the rest of the article.  Dr. Debito Arudou

==========================================
Warning to Naomi Osaka: Playing for Japan can seriously shorten your career
JBC 113 for the Japan Times Community page
By Debito Arudou, September 19, 2018

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

First, Just Be Cause congratulates Naomi Osaka on her outstanding win over tennis legend Serena Williams in the U.S. Open. Osaka’s grace under fire was world-class, and she deserves all the plaudits she can get.

And let’s just get this out of the way: I also agree that Williams had every right to protest her treatment by a heavy-handed umpire. The ump made the game about his ability to punish instead of defuse a situation, and penalized a woman more severely than men for similar infractions.

But that commentary is for the Sports pages. Here’s the JBC issue:

Ms. Osaka, I don’t think you understand what you’ve gotten yourself into by choosing to play for Japan.

Rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/09/19/issues/warning-naomi-osaka-playing-japan-can-seriously-shorten-career/

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE 112: “What about we stop it with the ‘whataboutism’?” (July 16, 2018)

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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JAPAN TIMES JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 112
justbecauseicon.jpg

THE JAPAN TIMES JUL 15, 2018
ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
What about we stop it with the ‘whataboutism’?
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/07/15/issues/what-about-we-stop-it-with-the-whataboutism/

These are troubling times for human rights activists.

For 27 years I’ve been writing about civil, political and human rights for non-Japanese (NJ) and other minorities in Japan. And I’ve never been more confused.

Not least because the United States, the putative paragon of human rights, has been flouting them.

Remember, this is a country so cocksure about its own record that its State Department offers annual “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” for each United Nations member.

Yet President Donald Trump has been undermining international norms of law, justice and society — and with the glee of a super-villain.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, recently we’ve seen U.S. leadership abrogate numerous treaties, erode well-established security and trade regimes (such as NATO and the G7), cozy up to the world’s most authoritarian regimes and mimic their tactics, invoke the language of white nationalism to dehumanize minorities, and foment a culture of fear, loathing and vindictive reprisal towards anyone not in their ideological camp.

Speaking of camps, who would have ever imagined that the U.S. would put foreign children in cages? Create “tender-age” internment centers for toddlers separated from their families at the border? Force 3-year-olds to represent themselves in American immigration courts?

Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy for undocumented migration and asylum seekers is so cruel that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights denounced it as “unconscionable” and “illegal” under international law.

Hours later, the U.S. petulantly withdrew from the Human Rights Council, of which it had been a charter member since 1947.

In Just Be Cause’s view, the worst thing about these rapid-fire shocks to the system is not the confusion but the distraction. Presidential historian Jon Meacham, author of “The Soul of America,” pointed out how Trump “owns our mind space” in what he calls “the world’s longest hostage siege.” We are prisoners of a self-promoting celebrity so adept at managing news cycles that he sucks the oxygen from other issues.

So this is where we arrive at the big question of this column: How can JBC focus on human rights in Japan given the distractions in America?…

Read the rest of the column at:
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/07/15/issues/what-about-we-stop-it-with-the-whataboutism/

================================
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My Japan Times column JBC 111: “White Supremacists and Japan: A Love Story” (March 8, 2018)

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. Debito Arudou (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. This month sees a Japan Times column that I’m particularly proud of, as it ties a lot of things together. My research question was, “Why do people react so viscerally whenever somebody criticizes Japan?” And I think I found the answer: Japan attracts and nurtures White Supremacists.

Here are the opening paragraphs:

==========================================
WHITE SUPREMACISTS AND JAPAN: A LOVE STORY
JBC 111 for the Japan Times Community page
By Debito Arudou, Thursday, March 8, 2018

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

The Washington Post reported something interesting on Feb. 14: A farm put up a sign saying “Resist White Supremacy.” And it incurred a surprising amount of online backlash.

Calls for boycotts. Accusations and recriminations. One-star Facebook reviews that had nothing to do with their products.

The article pondered: Who, other than a White Supremacist, would object to a message rejecting white supremacy?

But if you’ve ever protested racism in Japan, or read comments sections in Japanese media, you’ll know these reactions have been old hat for nearly two decades.

In fact, this column will argue that online intolerance and attack have been Japan exports…

Read the rest in the JT at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/03/07/issues/white-supremacists-japan-love-story/
==========================================

This will be the anchor site for discussion about the article on Debito.org. Thanks for reading, everyone. Dr. Debito Arudou

PS:  If trolls show up here, as they probably will, as per Commenting Guidelines, Debito.org reserves the right to make public their IP addresses.

============
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A Top Ten for 2017: Debito’s Japan Times JBC 110: “In 2017, Japan woke up to the issue of discrimination”

mytest

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

Hi Blog. As is tradition, here is JBC’s annual countdown of the top 10 human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan over the past year, as published in The Japan Times.

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
In 2017, Japan woke up to the issue of discrimination [NB: I didn’t write the headline.]
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
THE JAPAN TIMES, JAN 3, 2018

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/01/03/issues/2017-japan-woke-issue-discrimination/

(Version with links to sources.)

In ascending order:

10) As Japan’s population falls, NJ residents hit record

Figures released in 2017 indicated that Japan’s society is not just continuing to age and depopulate, but that the trends are accelerating. Annual births fell under 1 million — a record low — while deaths reached a record high. The segment of the population aged 65 or older also accounted for a record 27 percent of the total.

In contrast, after four years (2010-2013) of net outflow, the NJ resident influx set new records. A registered 2.38 million now make up 1.86 percent of Japan’s total population, somewhat offsetting the overall decline.

Alas, that didn’t matter. Japanese media as usual tended to report “Japan’s population” not in terms of people living in Japan, but rather Nihonjin (Japanese citizens), indicating once again that NJ residents simply don’t count.

9) ‘Hair police’ issue attracts attention with lawsuit

Japan’s secondary schools have a degree of uniformity that stifles diversity. And this trend reached its logical conclusion with the news that one school was forcing children with natural hair color that’s anything but black to dye and straighten their locks.

We talked about dyeing a decade ago (“Schools single out foreign roots,” July 17, 2007), noting its adverse effects on children’s physical and mental health. Yet the Asahi Shimbun reported in May that 57 percent of surveyed Tokyo metropolitan high schools still require “proof of real hair color.” In Osaka, it’s more like 80 percent.

Last October a student filed suit against Osaka Prefecture for mental anguish. Kaifukan High School in the city of Habikino had forced her to dye her naturally brown hair every four days, regardless of the rashes and scalp irritation. When even that proved insufficiently black, she was barred from a school festival and deleted from the school register.

The tone-deaf school justified this by saying, “Even a blond-haired foreign exchange student dyed her hair black.” This lawsuit’s outcome will signal whether Japan’s increasingly diverse student population can ever escape this kind of institutionalized harassment. But at least one student is standing up for herself.

8) Five-year limit on contract employment backfires

As reported in the JT by Hifumi Okunuki (“‘Five-year rule’ triggers ‘Tohoku college massacre’ of jobs,” Nov. 27, 2016), Japan’s Labor Contract Law was revised in 2013 to increase worker job security. To put an end to perennial full-time contracted employment, anyone working more than five years on serial fixed-term contracts will now be able to switch to normalized full-time noncontracted (seishain) status if they wish.

However, the law was not retroactive and the clock started ticking on April 1, 2013, so as the five-year deadline approaches this coming April, employers are now terminating contracts en masse: Last April, Tohoku University told 3,200 employees their current contracts would be their last.

But contract law has a special impact on NJ workers, as many endure perpetual contracted status (especially educators in Japan’s university system). The five-year rule has now normalized the practice of periodically “vacationing” and “rehiring” NJ to avoid continuous contracts, while encouraging major companies to finagle NJ employees’ working conditions by offering them “special temp status” (for example, explicitly capping contracts at less than five years).

Hence the bamboo ceiling remains alive and well, except it’s been expanded from just filtering out foreign nationals to affecting anyone.

7) Hate-speech law has concrete effects

Despite concerns about potential infringement of freedom of speech, a hate speech law was enacted in 2016 to, among other things, specifically protect foreign nationals from public defamation. It worked: Kyodo reported last year that xenophobic rallies, once averaging about one a day somewhere in Japan, were down by nearly half. Racialized invective has been softened, and official permission for hate groups to use public venues denied.

Of course, this hate speech law is not legislation with criminal penalties against, for example, racial discrimination. And it still assumes that noncitizens (rather than, for example, members of “visible minorities” who happen to be citizens) need special protection, incurring accusations of favoritism and “reverse discrimination.”

Nevertheless, according to the Mainichi, haters have been chastened. A report quotes one hate rally attendee as saying that before the law change, “I felt like anything I said was protected by the shield of ‘freedom of speech’… I felt safe because I knew the police officers would protect us. It felt like we had the upper hand.”

Not so much anymore.

6) Pension system qualification lowered to 10 years

Last year saw an important amendment to Japan’s state pension (nenkin) rules. Until last August, you had to invest a minimum of 300 months, or 25 years, in the various schemes to qualify for payouts after reaching retirement age.

Japan thus turned workers into “pension prisoners” — if you ever took your career elsewhere, you would get at most a small lump-sum payout from Japan, and possibly zero from your new country of residence for not paying in enough. (It was especially punitive toward Japan’s South American workers, who forfeited pensions when bribed by the government to “return home” during 2009’s economic downturn.)

Although things have improved under bilateral totalization agreements (where pension payments in designated countries get counted toward Japan’s 25-year minimum), this year Japan lowered the bar to the more reasonable 10 years. (More on this at www.debito.org/?p=14704.)

Of course, this does not resolve the fact that Japan will have the highest proportion of pensioners anywhere on Earth. Payouts and minimum retirement ages will be revised accordingly to make the pension worth little. But still, it will not be zero, and payments can be claimed anywhere in the world when you’re ready.

5) Renho resigns, Democratic Party withers

In 2016, in an unprecedented move, a member of an ethnic minority became the leader of a major Japanese political party. Alas, that party was the Democratic Party (formerly the Democratic Party of Japan), which in 2017 crumbled into nothing.

Renho, a Taiwanese-Japanese who served in Cabinets under two DPJ prime ministers, was a popular reformer. (She was re-elected in 2010 with a record number of votes for her district.) However, last year her integrity was questioned when it emerged that she had technically retained dual citizenship by not formally renouncing her Taiwanese nationality. That was rectified in July, but weeks later Renho resigned, ostensibly to “take responsibility” for a poor DP showing in the Tokyo prefectural election. From there, the DP downward-spiraled into virtual oblivion.

Many Japanese politicians have been tainted by scandal merely for associating with foreign types (for example, former DPJ Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara in 2011). Renho, alas, could not escape the stigma of her own putative “foreignness” — a huge setback for Japan’s politically invested ethnic minorities.

4) ‘Trainee’ program expanded, with ‘reforms’

Since 1993, to offset a labor shortage in Japan’s rusting small-firm industries, the government has been providing unskilled labor under an ostensible training program for foreign workers.

However, because “trainees” were not legally “workers” protected by labor laws, the program was rife with abuse: exploitation under sweatshop conditions, restrictions on movement, unsafe workplaces, uncompensated work and work-site injuries, bullying and violence, physical and mental abuse, sexual harassment, death from overwork and suicideeven slavery and murder.

Things have not improved in recent years. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry announced that about 70 percent of some 5,200 companies that accepted trainees in 2015 violated laws, and in 2016 a record 4,004 employers engaged in illegal activities. The program is so rotten that even the United Nations demanded Japan scrap it.

So guess what: In 2014, Prime Minster Shinzo Abe announced it would be expanded. Once restricted to the construction, manufacturing, agricultural and fishery industries, as of November it also includes nursing and caregiving. New opportunities were also proposed in “special economic zones” (so that foreign college graduates with Japanese language skills can pull weeds and till farmland — seriously). Furthermore, visas will be longer-term (up to five years).

To counter the abuses, the government also launched an official watchdog agency in November to do on-site inspections, offer counseling services to workers and penalize miscreant employers. But labor rights groups remain skeptical. The program’s fundamental incentives remain unchanged — not to actually “train” foreign laborers (or even provide Japanese language instruction), but rather to exploit them as cheap unskilled labor.

So expect more of the same. Except that now the program will ingest even more foreign workers for longer. After all, uncompetitive factories will continue to use cheap labor to avoid bankruptcy, construction will expand due to the Olympics, and more elderly Japanese will require caregivers.

3) North Korean missile tests and the fallout

Last year North Korea, the perpetual destabilizer of East Asia, commanded even more worldwide attention than usual (even popularizing the obscure word “dotard” among native English speakers). Flexing its muscles as a probable nuclear power, it test-fired missiles over Japan. The Japanese government responded by calling 2017 “the most severe security environment since the end of World War II” and warned regions of launches via the J-Alert system, while local authorities ran duck-and-cover-style nuclear attack drills.

This is but the most recent episode in a long history of Japan-North Korea reactionary antagonism. However, Japan is particularly wary of the possibility of infiltration. Members of the North Korean diaspora live in Japan (attending ethnic schools with photos of the Kim dynasty on their walls), with established networks for smuggling, money laundering and kidnapping of Japanese.

Essentially, North Korea’s international recklessness and habitual stupidity empower Japan’s warmongers and xenophobes to reinforce Japan’s bunker mentalities. They’ve successfully created domestic policies (such as the new “anti-conspiracy law”) that curtail civil, political and human rights for foreign and Japanese nationals alike — all legitimized based on the fear of North Koreans gaining even an iota of power in Japan.

Thus, North Korea’s antics ruin Japan’s liberal society for everyone. And last year Kim Jong Un upped the ante.

2) Abe glides to fifth electoral victory

In October, PM Abe won his fifth straight election (Lower House 2012, Upper House 2013, Lower House 2014, Upper House 2016, and this time Lower House 2017). No Japanese leader has ever enjoyed such a winning streak. But why?

Abe’s success is partly down to an aging society being predictably more conservative. No political party in the democratic world has held on to power as long as Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party. Voting LDP, particularly in rural Japan, where votes count more than urban ones do, is often generational habit.

It’s also partly due to an opposition in disarray: After the DP stumbled and fell, the newly formed Kibo no To (Party of Hope) (whose policies weren’t all that different from the LDP’s) soured under the leadership of mercurial Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike — who resigned as party head, effectively abandoning her baby, in November.

And, to give due credit, it’s partly because Abe offers reassuring policies that, as usual for the LDP, sloganize stability and preservation of the status quo over concrete results or necessary reforms.

As far as Japan’s NJ residents are concerned, this election offered no good news. No party offered any policy improvements whatsoever for Japan’s international residents. (As noted above, how could they, what with North Korea’s missiles flying overhead?)

But xenophobia in fact had political traction: A prerequisite for DP politicians to defect to Kibo no To was a pledge to oppose suffrage rights for NJ permanent residents — for fear, they openly argued, that NJ would swarm into a voting bloc and take control over regions of Japan!

In sum, 2017’s election was not a rout of the opposition as has been seen before; the ruling coalition even lost a few seats. Moreover, the biggest victors, a new Constitutional Democratic Party streamlined of wishy-washy former DP members, offered a clear voice to the strong opposition among Japanese to changing the Constitution.

That said, JBC believes those changes will probably happen anyway, because despite this year’s scandals (e.g., the Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Gakuen school debacles), five wins at the ballot box have made it clear that voters are just fine with Abe in power, whatever he does.

1) Government human rights survey of foreign residents

In March, the Justice Ministry released the results of a nationwide survey of NJ about the discrimination they face. It offered valuable insights: Nearly 40 percent of respondents looking for a place to live in the past five years had been refused for being foreign (and this did not include multiple rejections); more than a quarter gave up on a place after seeing a “no foreigners” clause.

Twenty-five percent of respondents looking for work said they had been rejected for being foreign, and nearly a fifth said they had received a lower salary for the same reason. Nearly 30 percent said they were targeted by race-based insults. More than 37 percent said they supported a law against “foreigner discrimination” (sic).

There’s lots more (see “Time to act on insights on landmark survey,” JBC, April 26), and even with all the caveats (e.g., excluding Japan’s visible-minority citizens, who tend to be treated as foreigners, and offering no questions about discrimination by officialdom, such as police street ID checks or the manufacturing of fictitious foreign crime waves), it’s an unimpeachable set of official stats that may, despite the xenophobic political climate, result in future antidiscrimination policies.

Bubbling under:

Osaka cuts sister-city ties with San Francisco as “comfort women” wartime sex slavery issue heats up.

Turkish resident Ibrahim Yener wins discrimination lawsuit against Osaka car agency — without using a lawyer.

In an international child custody dispute, Japan’s Supreme Court OKs defying a Hague Convention return order from a U.S. court, enabling future child abductions to Japan regardless of the treaty.

Record numbers of foreign tourists come to Japan and spend.

More NJ deaths in official custody, including those incarcerated at immigration detention centers and a New Zealander who died while strapped to a bed at a psychiatric hospital.

Charles Jenkins, U.S. Army deserter to North Korea and husband of a Japanese woman abducted to the same country, dies in Niigata Prefecture at age 77.

ENDS

=======================================
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.

Working on 2017’s Top 10 Human Rights Events that affected NJ residents of Japan. What do you think should be included?

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. Debito Arudou (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. I’m working on my annual Top 10 Human Rights Events of 2017 that affected NJ residents of Japan. (Here’s the list for 2016.)  Do Debito.org Readers have any suggestions about what should make the list?

Remember a) these must be events, not just ongoing issues (although they could be events that punctuate or illustrate the larger issue), b) these events must have occurred in 2017, and c) they must have a distinct effect on NJ residents in Japan.

Based upon that, what do you think mattered last year? Please let us know in the Comments Section below. Thanks, and happy holidays. I’ll put Debito.org on Holiday Tangent mode shortly. Dr. Debito Arudou

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Quoted in South China Morning Post article: “Why is racism so big in Japan?”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s an article in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post on racism in Japan.  And while I’m not entirely satisfied with how some of my quotes came out, it’s still an article that tries to get to the heart of a complex issue within 800 words.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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WHY IS RACISM SO BIG IN JAPAN?
It’s not just some Japanese shops that try to bar foreigners – schools and landlords can be equally unwelcoming. So maybe it’s not surprising a government adviser has called for apartheid, South Africa style

BY JULIAN RYALL, SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, 9 DEC 2017
http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2123539/no-chinese-why-anti-china-racism-so-big-japan

The hand-written sign in the entrance of a cosmetics shop in Japan might have been shocking to many Chinese, but to some observers its message was all too familiar.

The sign, which said Chinese people were not allowed to enter, caused outrage when images of it were posted on Chinese websites last month.

Within 24 hours, the store’s owner Pola Inc ordered the sign to be removed and vowed to suspend operations at the outlet. Pola acknowledged the notice had caused “unpleasant feelings and inconvenience to many people” and said it would deal with the situation “gravely”.

In contrast with the anger in China, the incident attracted little coverage in Japan and received only brief mention in the few media outlets that covered it at all.

That seeming lack of interest doesn’t surprise Debito Arudou, a human-rights activist who was born David Schofill in California and became a naturalised Japanese citizen in 2000. Discrimination is a sad fact of life in Japan, according to Arudou, and if anything, it is becoming more frequent – and more blatant.

“Back in the 1980s, there was a lot of talk about how Japan was going to internationalise and that diversity was positive, but that has largely fizzled out,” Arudou, 52, says.

For Arudou, the most significant nail in the coffin of internationalisation was hammered in by Shintaro Ishihara, soon after he was elected governor of Tokyo in 1999. In a speech to members of Japan’s Self-Defence Forces on April 9, 2000, Ishihara said “atrocious crimes” had been repeatedly committed by illegal residents that he referred to as sangokujin, a derogatory term that literally means third-country nationals. Ishihara said if a natural disaster struck Tokyo, foreigners would cause civil disorder.

Despite an outcry, Ishihara brushed off demands to apologise. He even won re-election three times before stepping down in October 2012.

“There were problems before then, but I would have to say that speech made Japanese people look at foreigners as a threat to Japanese society, and I do not think that has gone away,” Arudou says.

And there are plenty of other examples of people in positions of responsibility expressing similar attitudes.

Ayako Sono, an author who has advised the government on education, wrote an opinion piece for the conservative newspaper Sankei Shimbun in 2015 in which she said that while Japan needed immigrants to solve its labour shortage, foreigners should be kept apart from Japanese people.

The best solution, she suggested, was the apartheid system employed by South Africa between 1948 and 1994. “It is next to impossible to attain an understanding of foreigners by living alongside them,” wrote Sono, 83. “Ever since I learned of the situation in South Africa some 20 or 30 years ago, I have been convinced that it is best for the races to live apart from each other, as was the case for whites, Asians and blacks in that country.”

Similarly, Tomomi Inada was revealed to have accepted donations from Zaitokukai, an anti-Korean group designated by police as a hate-speech organisation before she was appointed defence minister in 2016. She was also pictured meeting Kazunari Yamada, the leader of the National Socialist Japanese Labour Party and a fan of Adolf Hitler.

For many foreign nationals living in Japan, life has become significantly more difficult under a succession of Liberal Democratic Party governments, according to Arudou.

There are countless reports of Japanese property owners refusing to lease their flats to foreigners and, because there is no law that explicitly forbids discrimination based on nationality or race, there is little to stop them. Similarly, foreigners who approach government-run agencies for jobs are often refused based on their nationality or because they “look foreign”, according to Arudou, who in 2015 published book Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination.

Arguably the worst demonstration of Japan’s attitudes towards outsiders is visible in education. Schools are permitted to refuse foreign children if they lack the ability to teach them or that doing so would be too difficult for teachers. “This means there is an undereducated underclass of around 20,000 non-citizen children who cannot even read because they have not had the opportunity to learn,” Arudou says. [Source:  Embedded Racism, p. 130]

As many as 40 per cent of those children are second- or third-generation Japanese whose ancestors had been living in Brazil but were encouraged to apply for jobs with companies looking for relatively cheap labour. Having moved to Japan, however, their children miss out on an education.

“For Japanese people, racial discrimination is an inconvenient truth and most Japanese do not want to believe it exists in their society because they have been told there is only one race in Japan,” Arudou says.

And when the domestic media plays up violent incidents involving immigrants in France, Germany and Britain, it comes as no surprise that Japanese resist the idea of permitting foreigners to settle permanently in Japan, even when they are refugees seeking sanctuary from violence in their homelands.

“It is well known that Japan accepts a minuscule number of refugees each year and yes, the media here and the public at large look at the problems that have occurred in Europe and say those problems could never happen here because there are no immigrants,” Arudou says. “They say this is a mono-culture where everyone understands each other. And while that is nationalist claptrap that completely ignores any crimes committed by Japanese, it is how they think. It’s the narrative they tell themselves to reassure each other. But it’s not an honest narrative.”

And while the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympic Games the following year are being promoted as demonstrations of Japan as a nation open to outsiders, the changes may be only skin deep.

“I see these as ways of attracting more tourists and, therefore, more money,” he says.

“The people who come will be tourists and they will be shown great hospitality, but when it is over, Japan will wave them goodbye with a sigh of relief.” ■ ENDS

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Flawed academic article on Otaru Onsens Case et al.: “Discrimination Against Foreigners in Japan”, in Journal of Law and Policy Transformation

mytest

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Hi Blog. The Otaru Onsens Case (1993-2005), one of the most prominent lawsuits against racial discrimination in Japan’s history, continues to live on both in law and social-science academic journals.

The most recent, citing a lot of online sources (but not the definitive book on the case, “Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan“), came out last July in the “Journal of Law and Policy Transformation” (Editorial Board here).

However, if this paper was from a student in my Research Methods class, I would dock points for a number of things here, not least the lack of peer-reviewed sources cited.  It’s essentially taking all the work from Debito.org (particularly from here) and rehashing it as a show-and-tell for academic credit, moreover without reading the most recent books and analyses on cases since then; plus it has a number of typos, and a rather glib final conclusion that:

[A]s it correctly noted [sic] by Yoshio Sugimoto[,] “contemporary Japanese society is caught between the contradictory forces of narrow ethnocentrism and open internalization [sic]“. This proves the fact [sic] that passing laws at all levels of government outlawing discrimination in Japan is just a matter of time.

As written, I don’t logically follow.

(I have the feeling even the article title was readjusted by the gatekeepers to revert the issue back to “foreigner discrimination”, making it once again an issue of nationality, and glossing over the fact that one of the excluded plaintiffs in the Otaru Onsens Case was in fact NOT foreign.  Moreover, reading the Abstract below, I note how even the summary must include a disclaimer that the “foreigners” are partially to blame for their being discriminated against “due to differences in language, religion, custom and appearance as well”.)

Anyway, congrats I guess on keeping the issue and the information in circulation, and for getting this into the research canon past the academic gatekeepers who would rather not see discrimination in Japan as racial in nature.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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Citation:
EKATERINA, Kostina. Discrimination Against Foreigners in Japan. Journal of Law and Policy Transformation, [S.l.], v. 2, n. 1, p. 183-203, july 2017. ISSN 2541-3139. Available at: <http://ejournal.uib.ac.id/index.php/jlpt/article/view/80>.

Abstract
The notion of Japan as a homogeneous society has been challenged by many recent studies. In fact, Japan is a home to different minority groups, ethnic and non-ethnic. Although the percentage of resident foreigners is relatively low comparing to other countries, acts of racial discrimination against them occur in everyday life in Japan. Thus, this study discusses how the foreigners are treated in Japan, and therefore tends to answer the question whether the legislation exists in order to protect their rights and penalize discriminatory activities committed by citizens or organizations. The study reveals that although Japan signed the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the problem of racial discrimination against foreign nationals still remains considerable. There are many reported incidents of human rights violation and discrimination practice against foreigners among individuals due to differences in language, religion, custom and appearance as well. Some of the cases handled by the human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice include the refusals of apartment rental or entrance to a public swimming pool on the grounds of being a foreigner. The study suggests that Japan should introduce new legislation to combat discrimination.

http://ojs.uib.ac.id/index.php/jlpt/article/view/80/52

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Japan Times JBC 109: “‘Attach the evidence and wait for your day in court,’ says Turkish plaintiff after Osaka victory”

mytest

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Hi Blog. More on the Yener Case, featured prominently on Debito.org in the past, in my latest JBC column.  Dr. Debito Arudou

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

‘Attach the evidence and wait for your day in court,’ says Turkish plaintiff after Osaka victory
By Debito Arudou
Just Be Cause column 109 for the Japan Times Community Page, October 12, 2017
Courtesy https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/10/11/issues/attach-evidence-wait-day-court-says-turkish-plaintiff-osaka-victory/

On Aug. 25, the Osaka District Court handed down a landmark ruling in a discrimination lawsuit.

Ibrahim Yener, a Turkish national and 14-year resident of Japan, was refused service last October by an Osaka used car dealer, which stated in an email (text at www.debito.org/?p=14743) that they would not serve foreign customers. The car company also stipulated that even if the customer legally holds Japanese citizenship, they would only sell to people who could “hold their own (sonshoku ga nai) against native speakers” in terms of Japanese language ability (as determined solely by the car company).

Yener felt this was discriminatory, filed suit and won. The presiding judge said that it “was based on prejudice that a foreigner would cause trouble and does not justify the discriminatory treatment.”

But what made this case particularly noteworthy is that Yener navigated Japan’s legal system all by himself — without a lawyer.

Thus this case offers potential lessons for other non-Japanese or international Japanese who face similar discrimination. JBC contacted Yener last week to find out more about the thinking behind bringing the case.

What motivated you to file the lawsuit? Were you trying to show the public that it could be done without a lawyer? Or were you just angry after all the other cases of discrimination you say you faced? What made you say “Enough is enough!”?

I faced so many discrimination issues during my 14 years in Japan. I will give you two examples: […]

Read the rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/10/11/issues/attach-evidence-wait-day-court-says-turkish-plaintiff-osaka-victory/

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

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

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

Let’s talk about Charlottesville.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Review in SSJJ journal calls “Embedded Racism” a “must-read text”, “highly recommended reading to anyone interested in Japan’s future”

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. Social Science Journal Japan (SSJJ) has just released its review of book “Embedded Racism“.  Excerpt follows. Full review at https://academic.oup.com/ssjj/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/ssjj/jyx012

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Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination, by Debito Arudou. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015, 404 pp., $110.00 (ISBN 978-1-4985-1390-6)
Robert W. ASPINALL
Social Science Journal Japan jyx012. DOI: https://academic.oup.com/ssjj/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/ssjj/jyx012
Published: 15 July 2017

Excerpt of the first and last paragraphs:

Why are there so few academic books or articles on Japan with the word ‘Racism’ in the title? It would be odd, to say the least, if Japan were the only inhabited place on earth where racism did not exist. Could it be that racial minorities in Japan are made up of groups that are too small, too transitory or too lacking in visibility to be worth the effort of close study? A more plausible explanation is offered by those who, like anthropologist John Russell, argue that powerful groups have disseminated the ‘national myth of Japan as a racism-free society that always manages to retain uncorrupted its essentialistic character, despite cultural borrowings’ (Russell 2010: 110). Given this highly successful effort to hush up discussions of racism in Japan, Debito Arudou’s new book on ‘Embedded Racism’ is very welcome.

[…]

In an anti-globalist era of Trump and ‘Brexit’ there will be many who argue that Japan is right to severely restrict immigration and preserve as much as possible that is unique about its national character. If those who do not ‘look Japanese’ have to suffer some discrimination, then that is just the price that has to be paid. There are also many who believe that the best antidote to racism is to have a nation state where as few people as possible look out of place. Arudou’s reply to this point of view, which acts simultaneously as a challenge to Japan’s leaders, is that if this national narrative is allowed to prevail, it will not only condemn Japan’s aging population to an ever-worsening demographic crisis, it will also have a ‘suffocating and self-strangulating’ effect on society (p. 303).

There are important academic contributions to the study of racism in Japan in this book, but it is as a must-read text on the crisis facing the shrinking Japanese population and its leaders that it really leaves its mark. Embedded Racism is highly recommended reading to anyone—whether they self-identify as Japanese or foreign or both—who is interested in Japan’s future.

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