Japan Times officially sanitizes WWII “comfort women” and “forced laborers”. Pressure on my JT Just Be Cause column too.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  The Japan Times, under new ownership since 2017, has just released information about their new wording policy, in line with tendencies in other right-leaning Japanese media towards revising Japan’s contentious history through revisionist terminology.  Make sure you read down to my comment for a little plot thickening:

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Courtesy of Shingetsu News Agency, Dec 1, 2018:


(Photo courtesy DM, from The Japan Times physical copy pg 2, Nov. 30, 2018.)

‘Comfort women’: anger as Japan paper alters description of WWII terms
Change prompts concern that country’s media is trying to rewrite wartime history under rightwing pressure
Justin McCurry in Tokyo
The Guardian, Fri 30 Nov 2018 (excerpt), courtesy of the author
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/30/japanese-paper-sparks-anger-as-it-ditches-ww2-forced-labour-term

Japan’s oldest English-language newspaper has sparked anger among staff and readers after revising its description of wartime sex slaves and forced labourers from the Korean peninsula.

In a decision that critics said aligned it with the conservative agenda of the prime minister, Shinzō Abe, the Japan Times said it had used terms “that could have been potentially misleading” when reporting on the contentious subjects.

It was the latest media row about how to define notorious parts of the country’s wartime record.

The Japan Times, which marked its 120th anniversary last year, said in an editor’s note in Friday’s edition that it would ditch the commonly used term “forced labour” to describe Koreans who were made to work in Japanese mines and factories during its 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.

South Korea says there were nearly 150,000 victims of wartime forced labour, 5,000 of whom are alive.

The Japan Times said: “The term ‘forced labour’ has been used to refer to labourers who were recruited before and during world war two to work for Japanese companies. However, because the conditions they worked under or how these workers were recruited varied, we will henceforth refer to them as ‘wartime labourers.’”

The explanation appeared at the foot of an article about the South Korean supreme court’s decision this week to order Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to compensate 10 former forced labourers. The ruling, and a similar decision last month, have soured ties between Tokyo and Seoul, with Japan’s foreign minister, Tarō Kōno, calling them “totally unacceptable”.

The Japan Times, whose motto is ‘all the news without fear or favour,’ said it would also alter its description of the comfort women – a euphemism for tens of thousands of girls and women, mainly from the Korean peninsula, who were forced to work in Japanese military brothels before and during the war.

The newspaper noted that it had previously described the victims as “women who were forced to provide sex for Japanese troops before and during world war two”.

But it added: “Because the experiences of comfort women in different areas throughout the course of the war varied widely, from today, we will 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’.”

Reporters and editors at the paper’s Tokyo headquarters greeted the decision with a mixture of anger and consternation. “People are pretty angry about the change and the fact that we were not consulted,” a Japan Times employee told the Guardian.

The revision has added to concern that sections of the media are bowing to pressure from rightwing politicians and activists to rewrite Japan’s wartime history and portray its actions on the Asian mainland in a more favourable light.

Rest of the article at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/30/japanese-paper-sparks-anger-as-it-ditches-ww2-forced-labour-term

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COMMENT:  Now for that plot thickening:  I have been writing for the Japan Times Community Page since 2002, and under their Just Be Cause column since 2008.  I felt little editorial interference in my writing until 2017, when I found my opinions facing increased demands for substantiation (which I could provide, of course — sometimes by pointing at old JT columns that had passed editorial muster before).  But there was a decided editorial chill in the air.

Now with my ninth annual Top Ten Japan Human Rights Issues of the year as they affected NJ residents of Japan approaching, my new editor has told me to revamp my column format so that it’s not a Top Ten anymore.  Quote from a recent email dated Nov. 24, 2018:

“I wonder if it might read better to take it out of the Top 10 format and write in detail on certain cases. I would like to see something along the lines of: What did Japan do right this year, What has the potential to move forward next year, and Which area is cause for concern.” 

That’s quite a different tack.  And it seems symptomatic of a “let’s focus on the good stuff”, then add more likely “future good stuff”, and maybe mention the, er, “causes for concern” as an afterthought.

I think I’ll write up a Top Ten as usual and submit it to see what happens.  These aren’t the “good news” pages anyway, as writing about human rights is generally a dismal science (because human rights issues tend to focus on what people are doing wrong to each other, rather than what they should have been doing right in the first place).  Moreover this is not something we newspaper columnists have to be diplomatic about (i.e., those “causes for concern”) — that’s something United Nations Special Rapporteurs do when cajoling governments to be nice to people (yet even they can be pretty harsh in their criticism at times, and rightly so).

Anyway, it’s sad that the JT, the last bastion of independent mainstream journalism in English in Japan, has knuckled under — the death of honest-history-based journalism due to PM Abe’s revisionist government pressure.  I wonder what JT’s partner, the New York Times, would think of this development.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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BBC: Fukuoka Hilton Hotel refuses entry to Cuban Ambassador due to “US sanctions”. J authorities call action “illegal”. How quaint.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  The BBC and Japan Times report below that the Cuban Ambassador to Japan was denied entry to a US-based hotel chain in Japan, the Hilton, in Fukuoka.  The Japanese Government quickly stepped in to say that this activity is illegal under Japanese law.

Well, well, well.  I guess it’s helpful to be foreign and connected in high places.  As has been reported for decades on Debito.org, Japan’s hotel refusals by nationality are so normalized that hotels routinely ignore the law being cited, refusing “foreigners” entry due to “lack of facilities“, “discomfort on the part of the management or Japanese customers“, or just for being “customers while foreign” (or even the “wrong foreign customers“).  Sometimes these refusals have the backing and encouragement of local police agencies and other authorities in their overzealous “anti-terrorism“/”anti-crime“/”anti-infectious disease” campaigns (because after all, only “foreigners” do all that in Japan).

So the Cuban Ambassador gets refused.  And now the law gets applied.  Good.  Now let’s apply it everywhere, for a change.  That’s what laws are for.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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US hotel in Japan refuses Cuba ambassador
BBC/Reuters 14 November 2018, courtesy of JDG
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-46207147

A US-owned hotel in Japan has been criticised by Japanese authorities after it denied the Cuban ambassador a room over fears it would violate US sanctions on Cuba.

The Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk told Ambassador Carlos Pereria he could not stay last month because it could not accommodate Cuban government guests.

That prompted a Cuban complaint.

Japanese officials in the city have since told the hotel it was illegal to refuse rooms based on nationality.

The Cuban embassy booked the room through a travel agency, which informed the hotel of the guests’ identity, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported.

However when Mr Pereira arrived in the south-western city on a trip to visit Cubans playing for the city’s baseball team he was told he could not stay.

In its subsequent complaint, the Cuban argued that applying US law in Japan encroached on Japan’s sovereignty, the Asahi Shimbun said.

But a Hilton representative in the Japanese capital Tokyo told the Kyodo news agency that the firm had to comply with US law because it was based in the US.

In 2006, the Mexican authorities fined a US-owned Sheraton hotel for expelling a 16-person Cuban delegation from a hotel in Mexico City.

In 2007 a Norwegian hotel, the Scandic Edderkoppen, refused to let a delegation of 14 Cuban officials stay as it was part of a chain that had been bought by Hilton since the Cubans last visited.

Then Norwegian deputy foreign minister Raymond Johansen told Reuters that it was “totally unacceptable”.

In 2016, under a thaw in relations between the US and Cuba during the Obama administration, the US hotel firm Starwood signed a deal to manage two hotels in Cuba. The two hotels were owned by Cuban state enterprises, the New York Times reported.

However the following year President Trump tightened US policy towards Cuba, banning US visitors to the island from spending money in state-run hotels or restaurants linked to Cuba’s military.
ENDS

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The Japan Times adds:
According to the Cuban Embassy, the diplomats were visiting Fukuoka to meet Cuban baseball players who are members the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.

Japan’s law regulating hotel operations states that guests cannot be refused unless they carry an infectious disease or are suspected of committing illegal activities. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry pointed out that denying accommodation based on nationality is against the law.

“The hotels operating domestically must comply with the law,” the ministry said.

“We refuse to provide service to officials of the government or state-owned enterprises of countries under U.S. economic sanctions such as North Korea, Iran and Syria,” a Hilton spokesperson said. “We would like to discuss about the matter internally in response to the guidance.”

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JT: GOJ Cabinet approves new NJ worker visa categories. Small print: Don’t bring your families. Or try to escape.

mytest

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Hi Blog. As per the JT article below, the next wave of NJ temp labor has been officially approved by the Abe Cabinet. The new statuses mostly still have the caveat of being temp, unrooted labor (bringing over families is expressly verboten).  And you can qualify for something better if you manage to last, oh, ten years — around one-fifth of a person’s total productive working life.  Because, as the JT reported in a follow-up article days later, time spent working under these visa statuses in particular does NOT count towards their required “working period” when applying for Permanent Residency.

Another interesting part of this article is the bit about how many Indentured “Trainee” NJ workers had “gone missing” from their generally harsh modern-slavery working conditions (4,279) so far this year, and how it might even exceed last year’s record total of 7,089.  Anyway, with the news below, the GOJ looks set to invite in even more people, in even more work sectors, and with the regular “revolving-door” work status (i.e., not make immigrants out of them).

Some people have gotten wise to this practice and are staying away from Japan, but I bet many won’t.  Unless we let them know in venues like Debito.org.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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Japan’s Cabinet approves bill to introduce new visa categories for foreign workers, to address shrinking workforce
BY SAKURA MURAKAMI AND TOMOHIRO OSAKI STAFF WRITERS
The Japan Times, Nov 2, 2018, courtesy of JDG (excerpt)
Courtesy https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/02/national/major-policy-shift-japan-oks-bill-let-foreign-manual-workers-stay-permanently/

The Cabinet approved a bill Friday that would overhaul the nation’s immigration control law by introducing new visa categories for foreign workers, in an attempt to address the graying population and shrinking workforce.

“Creating a new residence status to accept foreign workers is of utmost importance as the nation’s population declines and businesses suffer from lack of personnel,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference on the day.

Although details remain hazy, the new bill marks a departure from previous policy in allowing foreign individuals to work in blue-collar industries for a potentially indefinite amount of time if certain conditions, such as holding a valid employment contract, are met.

Yet amid concerns over whether the nation has the infrastructure and environment to accommodate an inflow of foreign workers, the government has categorically denied that the overhaul will open the doors to immigrants.

“We are not adopting a policy on people who will settle permanently in the country, or so-called immigrants,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the Lower House Budget Committee on Thursday. “The new system we are creating is based on the premise that the workers will work in sectors suffering labor shortages, for a limited time, in certain cases without bringing their families.”…

The overhaul, which would come into effect in April if passed during the current extraordinary Diet session, would create two new residence status types for foreign individuals working in sectors suffering labor shortages.

The first category would be renewable for up to five years and would require applicants to have a certain level of skill and experience in their fields. As a general rule, workers in this category would not be allowed to bring family members into the country.

The second category would be renewable indefinitely for workers with valid employment contracts. This category would require a higher level of skills than the first category and would allow workers to bring along spouses and children.

Regardless of the category, the foreign workers would be required to work in designated sectors that face labor shortages. Some 14 sectors are being considered for designation in the first category, whereas five are being considered for the second, media reports have said. Those sectors include the construction, agriculture and hotel industries.

Opposition lawmakers have slammed the apparent haste with which the government is trying to pass the amendment, proposing that it prioritize rectifying the current Technical Intern Training Program — which is rife with allegations of human rights violations and abuse — before further expanding avenues for foreign labor.

Speaking to the same Lower House Budget Committee on Thursday, Justice Minister Yamashita revealed that a total 4,279 trainees under the program had gone missing in the January-July period this year.

“This is an extraordinary figure,” said lawmaker Akira Nagatsuma of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, adding that the pace suggests the number of missing interns in 2018 could exceed last year’s record — 7,089 — by year-end.

Nagatsuma also said that the whereabouts of many of these trainees who disappeared from work remain unknown, with Justice Ministry data showing that there were 6,914 such individuals staying somewhere in the country, under the radar, as of January this year. “I believe that this year will also see a substantial number of missing trainees in total, but I don’t think we should blame the foreign nationals who ran away in all of these cases. I’m sure there are lots of cases where the trainees felt they had to get away, or even thought they might die if they stayed,” Nagatsuma said, citing examples of trainees being harassed or bullied, cooped up in a cramped apartment and consigned to menial jobs that require no technical skills.

“I think it’s very irresponsible of the government to try to open more doors for foreign workers while turning a blind eye to these existing problems under the trainee program,” he said.

Opposition lawmakers also say the government’s claim that it will set rigid, high-bar criteria for transition from the first visa type to the second — lest the system be misconstrued as Japan shifting toward accepting immigrants — might not sit well with the nation’s business community.

In a hearing with multiple ministries earlier this week, Kazunori Yamanoi, a lawmaker for the opposition Democratic Party For the People (DPFP), raised a hypothetical, but highly likely, situation in which trainees recruited under the existing internship program switch to the new visa framework after up to five years of their apprenticeships.

Under this scenario, these foreign workers will have stayed in Japan for a total 10 years by the time their visa expires after another five years. “By then, those foreign workers with 10 years of experience in Japan will have developed such seasoned skills that they may even hold critical positions in their companies … and I would imagine company employers wanting them to transition to the second-category visa so they can stay on,” Yamanoi said.

A Justice Ministry official, when contacted by The Japan Times, said it is “theoretically possible” that these workers with 10 years of experience in Japan would qualify for permanent residency, but how the reality will play out is still uncertain…

Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/02/national/major-policy-shift-japan-oks-bill-let-foreign-manual-workers-stay-permanently/

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Excellent Japan Times feature on dual citizenship in Japan: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy leaves many in the dark

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. This lengthy feature from The Japan Times conducts original research on dual nationality in Japan, and gives vital insights into the game of legal chicken played by the Japanese Government to get people to forfeit their dual nationality (and by extension, part of their identity), all for mere allegiance to the fiction that Japan is monocultural and homogeneous. This suppression of diversity must stop, but few are taking notice. That is, until recently, when it’s become clear that “Japan-Claiming” of diverse Japanese such as Osaka Naomi helps with the other thing the insecure Japanese Government craves: respect and recognition for excellence on the world stage.

That’s why it’s worth revisiting this older JT article below.  The takeaway is this: As the JT has also recently reported, there is no real penalty from the Japanese Government for not surrendering your non-Japanese nationality:  “There have been no reported instances of dual nationals by birth having their citizenship revoked.” So as Debito.org has always advised: Declare Japanese nationality and quietly keep renewing your foreign passport. The foreign government will not tell the Japanese authorities (it’s none of their business), and the Japanese authorities cannot strip you of a foreign nationality (or even confiscate a foreign passport–it’s the property of the foreign government). Only you can give one up. So don’t. Dr. Debito Arudou

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Dual citizenship in Japan
A “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy leaves many in the dark
By Sakura Murakami and Cory Baird
The Japan Times, Feature, Undated, Mid-2018
Start from http://features.japantimes.co.jp/dualcitizenship/

INTRO: Seeking elusive answers to a big question

Forfeiting your citizenship might seem like a strange way to better connect with your country, but Hana Dethlefsen was compelled to make such a decision after getting caught up in the complicated legal web of Japan’s Nationality Act.

“I had to give up my Japanese nationality in order to qualify for the JET Programme, which I did at age 21. My understanding was that I would have to give it up at age 22 anyway, so giving it up one year earlier wouldn’t have made a difference,” Dethlefsen said. JET is a state-sponsored program that invites non-Japanese college graduates to work mainly as language teachers at local schools.

“(But) in my discussions with other half-Japanese friends, I’ve come to understand that we all have different understandings of what is acceptable,” said Dethlefsen, who now has German and Canadian citizenship.

Confusion about the legality of holding dual nationalities stems from the opaqueness of the law and the difficulties surrounding its enforcement, causing some to forfeit one of their nationalities while others live in fear of a day when they are forced to choose between their citizenship, identity and family ties.

The nationality law officially obliges those who have multiple citizenships by birthright to choose one by the age of 22.

But in fact, possibly hundreds of thousands have maintained multiple nationalities and to date the government has never cracked down on any of them.

In response to questions over the number of dual nationals, the Justice Ministry confirmed to The Japan Times that some 890,000 people were or are in a position to have dual nationality. This figure is based on official family registries maintained by local municipalities between 1985 and 2016, and includes people who have declared or forfeited Japanese citizenship, as well as people assumed to have multiple nationalities based on their birthright.

“If I were forced to decide which citizenship to retain and which citizenship to relinquish, I would view it as which culture and which nation am I to abandon.”

According to a survey conducted by The Japan Times of 1,449 people with dual nationalities, 76.8 percent maintain dual citizenship while 23.2 percent decided to forfeit one of their passports.

The same survey showed that 39.5 percent of multiple passport holders “always” switch passports depending on the country they enter, while 37.3 percent “sometimes” switch passports.

With the government’s official position becoming more divorced from a globalizing society where a large number of people maintain dual nationalities, many have to rely on word-of-mouth for information on what they see as an important, life-changing decision regarding their citizenship.

“We had received different information about what is and isn’t acceptable, and therefore, some of us had dual nationality and some of us had given up our Japanese citizenship when we came of age,” Dethlefsen said.

May, who declined to give her real name for this article, citing privacy concerns, has both Japanese and Australian citizenship. She told The Japan Times that years ago when she was unsure about what to do with her dual nationalities, she often relied on internet forums and social media websites such as Mixi to connect with others in similar situations.

“We would talk about what we would do with our dual citizenship, we would try to give each other anecdotal advice. This is still the same now. These topics come up all the time and nobody knows the answer,” she said.

“When I renewed my passport most recently — two years ago — I had a massive meltdown because there was a new section where I had to report whether I had dual nationality. I bawled my eyes out. … I was worried I would have to give up one of my citizenships,” she continued.

“We had received different information about what is and isn’t acceptable, and therefore, some of us had dual nationality and some of us had given up our Japanese citizenship when we came of age.”
Like May, many dual citizens are surprised to see that passport renewal forms include a section regarding dual nationality. This is in order to confirm whether the applicant has naturalized as a citizen of another country, which under the law would automatically mean the revocation of their Japanese passport, according to a Foreign Ministry official.

But having multiple passports does not mean that the ministry won’t issue a Japanese passport, the official added, since the Foreign Ministry does not track dual citizens.

While the murkiness over the law has left those with multiple nationalities anxious about their status and has prompted many to take steps to hide it, many dual nationals spoke of experiences that seem to indicate the government has been quick to look the other way when it comes to enforcing the law.

“I remember I once stupidly handed in the wrong passport — my American one instead of my Japanese one — at the immigration desk for Japanese passports,” Chris, who also requested anonymity when talking to The Japan Times, said of an experience when entering Japan.

“There was a moment of panic but the Japanese immigration agent just said, ‘No sir, the other passport.’ I handed in my Japanese passport and he took it, stamped it, and let me pass. … It was as if he had experienced this kind of situation multiple times, and saw this particular episode as a nonissue,” he said.

Yet, there appear to be some cases where dual nationals have experienced pressure from local government officials to choose between one of their nationalities.

That was the case for James, who requested he be identified by his first name only. During a visit to his local government office, he was informed, much to his surprise, that he also was a Japanese national. Since James had already registered as a foreign resident at the same local government office, it was obvious to the local officials that he, in fact, possessed multiple nationalities.

When he decided to register as a Japanese citizen, the local city officials appeared to be agitated by the decision.

“Because I was already registered as a foreigner, it caused quite a stir at the city office. … An employee told me that I needed to turn in my American passport to the city office and sign a document saying that I give up my American citizenship,” James recalled.

“I said that I’m not comfortable doing that (giving up my American citizenship), and that I’d like to consult a lawyer familiar with this type of issue. … (The official) said that I was just unwilling to do things that were inconvenient. I left after that, feeling pretty bad about the experience.”

“I strongly connect with my Japanese heritage, but I don’t feel welcomed by Japan. Having to choose a nationality at age 22 was the first formal instance of feeling as though I was ‘not Japanese enough.’ ”

One factor behind the confusion over the law is that it fails to specify any penalties against dual nationals who do not pick a nationality. It instead only states that the justice minister reserves the right to “warn” them to choose a nationality. If a dual national does not make a choice within a month of receiving the warning, their Japanese nationality is automatically revoked.

However, this right to warn such nationals under the 1985 revision of the nationality law has never been exercised, a Justice Ministry official confirmed earlier this month, partly because the act of tracking down citizens with multiple nationalities and encouraging them to make a choice would be a bureaucratic nightmare.

“We actually cannot be sure about who has multiple nationalities,” Kei Kurayoshi, then the ministry official in charge of nationality issues, told a parliamentary session in 2008.

“Given that uncertainty, sending reminders to those we just happen to know have multiple nationalities by chance is a questionable practice,” Kurayoshi said. “There are a lot of opinions about this, but we have not sent out any reminders due to such reasons.”

That is not to say that the law itself is completely ineffective, because in theory Japanese citizenship could be revoked if a dual national does not make a choice. Its very existence serves as a threat, said Yasuhiro Okuda, a law professor at Chuo University who specializes in the Nationality Act.

Even if it may be only on paper and not in practice, the official stance that one can have just a single citizenship sends a powerful message to those with multiple nationalities.

“I strongly connect with my Japanese heritage, but I don’t feel welcomed by Japan. Having to choose a nationality at age 22 was the first formal instance of feeling as though I was ‘not Japanese enough,’ ” Dethlefsen said.

This sentiment was echoed by Chris.

“If I were forced to decide which citizenship to retain and which citizenship to relinquish, I would view it as which culture and which nation am I to abandon,” he said. “I think of that decision as emotionally charged.”

Michiko, who asked to be identified only by her first name, was born to a Japanese mother and a German father but never lived here and only received her Japanese passport at the age of 22 on a visit to Japan. She was unaware of the intricacies of having dual nationalities in Japan, yet she could tell that something didn’t feel quite right when her mother took her to the local municipality to get her first Japanese passport.

“When we got the passport in Japan at the local city hall, it didn’t feel legal to me,” she said. “It felt a little weird. I never researched it or anything … but I just had this feeling that it was illegal to have a second passport.

This climate of fear is creating a vicious cycle of negativity, said Teru Sasaki, professor of sociology at Aomori Public University.

“For some, nationality is the final stronghold of the Japanese identity. The very notion of dual nationality challenges that and creates fear for those who are unfamiliar with the concept,” said Sasaki.

Regardless of whether dual nationality is tacitly approved or not, “the idea of single nationality also tied in with, and reinforced, the Japanese postwar belief in a pure, homogeneous nation-state,” said Atsushi Kondo, a professor at Meijo University in Nagoya. “The wording of the current law shows a very strong hope in maintaining that ideal.”

“For some, nationality is the final stronghold of the Japanese identity. The very notion of dual nationality challenges that and creates fear for those who are unfamiliar with the concept.”
Sasaki noted that this climate of fear became especially prominent during last year’s media frenzy over whether Renho, who at the time was leader of the Democratic Party, held both Japanese and Taiwanese citizenship.

“The recent public backlash over whether Renho had dual nationality created an atmosphere of fear for the individual,” he said.

As multiple citizens languish under this cloud of uncertainty, any hopes of spurring momentum on the issue within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has been lost in the wake of the Renho furor. In addition to the already entrenched beliefs about identity, this lack of political momentum has contributed to the inertia surrounding the law.

“The question of nationality is an issue of great significance to nationalists, as well as some politicians,” said Kondo, who expressed his skepticism that any changes to the nationality law would come about.

He added that Renho’s case is an example of the reluctance to change the political climate, saying that “Some politicians made a big fuss about the possibility that she was a dual national, despite the fact that none of the facts were confirmed.”

Even politicians once in favor of changing the law appear to be avoiding commenting on what has become a politically charged issue.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono — who was once a vocal champion of changing the law and even published a proposal that allowed dual citizenship under certain conditions — has taken a noticeably softer stance on the issue.

When asked earlier this month by The Japan Times whether the Nationality Act was outdated, Kono was curt in his answer, refusing to champion a cause he once served.

“You should ask the Justice Ministry,” he said.

Rest at http://features.japantimes.co.jp/dualcitizenship/

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

mytest

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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/

Naomi Osaka’s US Open victory over Serena Williams: Congratulations, but I don’t think you know what you’re getting yourself into.

mytest

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Hi Blog. First off, I want to say congratulations to Naomi Osaka, for winning the US Open last weekend, soundly defeating her hero and template, tennis legend Serena Williams.

And I say this with all the commensurate respect to her and Ms. Williams, whom I also believe had every right to protest her treatment at the hands of a heavy-handed tennis umpire, who made the game about him and his punitive powers, and not about keeping the match civil, orderly, or fair in terms of gender-parity of rules enforcement. There, that’s where I stand on that.

But Ms. Osaka, I don’t think you have any idea what you’ve gotten yourself into by deciding to play tennis for Japan.

Now, another first off: this blog entry is NOT to dispute whether Ms. Osaka is “Japanese” or not. She has Japanese and American citizenships, so of course legally she is Japanese. Further, if she wishes to self-identify as a Japanese, that is her right as an individual. Debito.org has always supported the right of individuals to decide their identity for themselves, and not suffer identity policing from others. Ms. Osaka is a Japanese. And an American. And a Haitian, her father’s background. Bravo for this confluence of diverse influences to produce a world-class athlete.

But where I think a problem arises, in terms of self-awareness as a Japanese sports champion representing Japan, is illustrated by the following video:


Courtesy http://www.haitianinternet.com/photos/naomi-osaka-answers-how-haitian-and-japanese-culture-made-he.html

Text: “I was born in Osaka. I came to New York when I was three. I moved from New York to Florida when I was about eight or nine. And then I’ve been training in Florida since… My dad’s Haitian, so I grew up in a Haitian household in New York. I lived with my Grandma. And my mom’s Japanese, and I grew up with the Japanese culture too. And if you’re saying American, I guess because I lived in America I have that too.”

I can see how living in America for just about all of your life (the past seventeen of your twenty years) could make you “American”. I could also see how growing up in a Haitian household could deepen that ethnic tie to Haiti. But I don’t think she’s thought this through well:

It seems a bit dangerous to assume that just because your mother is Japanese, that makes you representatively “Japanese” (especially in a society where the very real phenomenon of kikoku shijou, “Returnee Japanese Students”, suffer ethnic and cultural displacement after only a year or less of being educated abroad during primary and secondary school years).

Compound that with the fact that you don’t read, write, or speak much Japanese beyond the “Kitchen Japanese” level (or as Nikkan Sports renders her abilities, “kikitori wa aru teido rikai suru ga, hanasu no wa nigate“, or “can understand Japanese somewhat when it’s being spoken to her, but speaking isn’t her thing”). But she likes Japanese Anime and Manga, eats unagi and sushi (as the Japanese media has dutifully reported). Somehow that’ll… do?

Again, Ms. Osaka can claim her “Japaneseness”, but it will be a hard road ahead for her given Japan’s unreal expectations of Japanese athletes.

Debito.org has talked extensively in the past how Japan puts undue pressure on its athletes (especially in international competitions, since national pride and issues of superiority-inferiority come into play very quickly), sometimes with fatal results.

Doubly so for “haafu” Japanese, since questions about their identity and loyalties seep in to complicate things further. There are plenty of examples of Japanese with diverse backgrounds being discounted or disqualified from being “true” Japanese when they don’t win something (such as international beauty pageants). But when they do win (as seen numerous times with Japan’s Nobel Laureates, many of whom have long left Japan, taken foreign citizenships, and even said that they wouldn’t have gotten their achievements if they had remained in Japan), it’s suddenly because they are “Japanese”.

Let’s call it “Nippon-Claiming“. It’s a common phenomenon in radicalized societies where “They’ll Claim Us If We’re Famous”. And now with this landmark victory at the US Open, Ms. Osaka has been claimed. (She’s even had the rare honor of having her name rendered all in Kanji and Hiragana, not Katakana, in the Japanese press.)

But most of that will only continue if she continues to win. Otherwise, given Japan’s constant self-conception of “Japanese” as radicalized entities, she’d be losing tournaments because of her mixed-ness (as has been claimed about Japan’s rugby teams and figure skaters). She’s not pure enough as a haafu to measure up.

So why did she choose to represent Japan?  It wasn’t exactly because of deep emotional ties.  The New York Times discussed it in a feature on her dated August 23, 2018:

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

“Though born in Japan, Osaka has lived in the United States since she was 3. She is not fully fluent in Japanese. Yet nearly a decade ago, her father decided that his two daughters would represent Japan, not America. It was a prescient move.

“…The United States Tennis Association showed little interest in helping [Naomi Osaka and her sister Mari] develop. Rather than vie for support with hundreds of other talented young players in America, [Naomi’s father] Francois made a pivotal decision: His daughters, from age 13, would play for Japan, the nation they left behind nearly a decade earlier…

“The decision to play for Japan has had major repercussions in Osaka’s life, from the way she is perceived in Japan and the United States to the size of the endorsement contracts she can now command as a top Japanese athlete ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics… The Japan Tennis Association, facing a drought of top female players, offered them an opportunity. But for Tamaki and Francois, who spent many years in Japan himself, it was natural for the girls to play in the country where they were born, even if the parent’s own memories of the place were tinged with anger and regret.

“…[Ms.] Osaka has been embraced by Japanese media, companies and fans hungering for a female tennis star. Nissin, one of the world’s largest instant-noodle companies, has already signed her to a lucrative deal, as has Wowow, the tennis channel that broadcasts her matches in Japan. The Osaka camp plans to announce a large new endorsement deal before the U.S. Open, and other Japanese multinationals are circling. Osaka’s biggest payday may come at the end of the year, when her Adidas shoe-and-apparel contract expires — just in time for the prelude to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“If Osaka played under the American flag, it’s very unlikely that these opportunities would exist. Japanese companies would have no reason to court her and U.S. brands would have other higher-ranked young guns to consider, like Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens. But as Japan’s top-ranked player, Osaka has the full attention of the country’s top brands, whose sponsorship fees can run far higher than those of their Western counterparts.”

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

That NYT feature also concludes presciently:

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

“In Japan, sports fans already know who Osaka is: She’s the rising star playing for the land of the rising sun. Her Japanese might not be perfect, her appearance not traditional. But the barriers may ultimately be no match for success. ‘If Naomi wins a Grand Slam, the other things won’t matter as much,’ Fukuhara says. ‘All of Japan would embrace her.’”

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

True. But the problem is the converse will also be true: if she doesn’t continue to win, that support evaporates.

And all Ms. Osaka’s talent and youthful energy may wind up being frittered away dealing with the limitless pressure put upon representatives of Japanese society — a pressure of perfectionism that expects Japanese champions to remain champions no matter what.

In essence, this approach, decided by Ms. Osaka’s father, to make her a bigger-fish-in-a-smaller-pond may backfire, becoming the millstone around her neck:  a drag that could shorten her overall career if not her life.

Again, I congratulate Ms. Osaka on her success, and wish her the best of luck. But I really don’t think she knows what she’s gotten herself into. Dr. Debito Arudou

========================================
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Farrah on Hamamatsu’s city-sponsored “Gaijin Day” event: Problematic wording and execution, esp. given the history of Hamamatsu, and who attended.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I didn’t want to bring this up until after the event was over, but check out this poster for “Gaijin Day”, sponsored by enough people (including the City of Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture) to make it normal and unproblematized.

Source:  https://www.hamamatsucastle.com/がいじんの日-the-gaijin-day-2018/ (bigger scanned reproduction below)

Some people did see a problem, and one, Farrah, reported what happened there to Debito.org.  My comment follows hers.

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

From: Farrah
Subject: Comments – Gaijin Festival
Date: September 2, 2018
To: debito@debito.org

In late-August, an ALT friend of mine from Kansai told me about this event that was happening in Hamamatsu, called, “Gaijin Day”. Amused and slightly offended by the wording, she was actually interested in coming all the way down to my neck of the woods to attend it. The flyer for the event went viral in many expat groups on social media, and posts were flooded with comments about the title of the event. I figured that the organizers chose to call this event “Gaijin Day” to get lots of attention, and they did.

At first I thought that it would merely be a spectacle of foreigners flying into Japan to perform. But when I looked at the list, it was a bunch of people who were sansei/yonsei, Japanese people of mixed-heritage who lived in the Tokai region. I was immediately offended by the name of the event at that point. This is my fifth year living in Hamamatsu, and I’ve done extensive ethnographic research on Brazilian and Peruvian immigrant communities since November of last year. I know that referring to such an established part of the Japanese diaspora as merely “gaijin” was inaccurate and disrespectful. The worst part of all was that the Hamamatsu City Government and HICE Center (Hamamatsu Foundation for International Communication and Exchange) were the main sponsors for the event.

Hamamatsu has the highest immigrant population in Japan (22,260 immigrant residents as of July 2017), with the highest Brazilian population in the entire country. Actually, the population was almost double in Japan before 2007, but the Japanese government offered cash payments to nikkeijin to leave Japan permanently to reduce the immigrant population. From 2009-2010, they were offered around ¥300,000 per worker and ¥200,000 per dependent willing to leave Japan. About 20,000 nikkeijin took the offer, with the amount of Brazilian and Peruvian immigrants shrinking by more than 87,000 combined. The permanent leave requirement was reduced to three years, with many former residents coming back for employment in Hamamatsu and the Tokai region. This change in the permanent leave policy may be in response to the fact that Japan’s population is declining (with the elderly population increasing), leaving the country dependent on immigrant workers.

“To serve as a viable solution for Japan’s aging, immigrants would need to make up at least 10 percent of the overall population by some estimates—an unfeasibly large number by most accounts given the strong preference that remains for ethnic and cultural homogeneity and the public backlash that would likely ensue.” (Council of Europe)

This city should be an example of what living in a diverse and multicultural society would look like for the rest of Japan. However, there is little intercultural inclusion or integration between these communities. Most of these immigrants are not ALTs or eikaiwa teachers. They are Brazilian, Peruvian, Filipino, Indonesian, and Chinese people with mixed Japanese heritage. Many of them work in factories for car/train parts and in tea-picking farms. To call these long-term residents with Japanese grandparents (at least) “gaijin” is incredibly disturbing.

When I would read comments that supported the idea of referring to the performers as “gaijin”, I realized that majority of these people, Japanese and non-Japanese, were unaware about the legacy and the history of immigrant Japanese communities. Many of these people were born and raised in Japan, and many of them speak Japanese. I teach at a public high school with a lot of students from these communities, and majority of them speak Japanese as native speakers and have never went to their parents’/grandparents’ “home” countries. Their main cultural identity and mentality is Japanese, and yet they’re labeled as “gaijin” simply because they have a multicultural and multiethnic background. Why does having another culture to be proud of cancel their eligibility to be “Japanese”?

When I shared the flyer with my own comments on Facebook, I received over 100 responses from friends and acquaintances alike. I noticed that the non-Japanese people who disagreed with the idea of sansei/yonsei being labeled as “gaijin” as harmful were white Americans, Canadians, and Australians. They’re not minorities in their own countries, and in the end, they can always be reassured that they belong to their home countries without such backlash. They are completely desensitized and inexperienced with the concept of carrying a politicized multicultural identity because they never had to experience it in their home countries. I am first-generation American, and my parents are also immigrants. I have more personal experience being a minority in my own home country. I am constantly questioned about my identity by white Americans (and even by Japanese people at times), despite the fact that I was born and raised in the US and speak in English as a native speaker. When you’re a person of color or a minority in the place where you were born and raised, you face lots of scrutiny and oppression on your identity.

After holding many interviews with families and talking to my students about these issues in my research (as well as casual conversations), I have learned that being labeled as a “gaijin” as a mixed-race Japanese resident in Japan can be harmful to their self-image and identity. Majority of them have told me that even in Brazil and Peru, locals perceive them as “Japanese”, so they feel that they cannot fit into either country. The US may have their problems with racism, prejudice, and discrimination, but at least there are many support systems and articles out there that can reassure that minorities do belong. Japan does not have the same kind of representation or support for sansei/yonsei members in their society.

I actually attended the “Gaijin Day” event later on. It was located next to Hamamatsu Station, so it was inevitable to attend it anyways. As I thought, the vendors were all Brazilian and Peruvian, and they spoke to me in Japanese with little hesitation. There were also cell phone companies targeting Brazilian and Peruvian residents, holding up signs in Japanese, Portuguese, and English. Two individuals hosted the event: A full-Japanese radio host from Hamamatsu, and a Brazilian-Japanese performer who lived in Nagoya. Majority of the people in the audience were also Brazilian, but did not live in Hamamatsu. Some of what the hosts said irked me at times. “Today, we are all gaijin!” “Why do you have all these signs in Japanese? The Brazilians can’t read them!” I felt that the way the event was commenced also re-enforced stereotypes and constantly misused/over-used the term, “gaijin”. Most of my Filipino, Brazilian, and Peruvian friends refused to attend because of the naming of the event. “If I go there, I’m saying it’s okay to call me ‘gaijin’ even though I pay the same taxes and have a Japanese last name.”

The event was coordinated by two Brazilian men in their 40s, who came to Japan later in their adulthood. I tried to politely ask them about why they decided to call this event, “Gaijin Day”, but they immediately asked me about my heritage and said that it was not an issue to them because they identify themselves as “gaijin”. My yonsei and Japanese friends also received the same harsh responses when they tried to discuss the issue over the phone; it was as if the decision to label their community as “gaijin” was an autocratic decision with the concept of the sansei/yonsei population as a monolith. There was not a survey available to express my opinion at the event, either.

While I do understand that some residents from these communities, especially nikkei residents, mainly identify as “gaijin”, many of them also refuse to adhere to the label, especially newer generations of yonsei residents in Japan. Unlike the organizers of this event, many of them were born and raised in Japan, and plan to live here for the rest of their life. And yet, they are being labeled as “gaijin” by other people, not by choice. The idea behind language reclamation (taking back a slur/derogatory term and using it positively) does not function with this event because there is little to reclaim. The idea that mixed-race sansei/yonsei are legitimate Japanese people isn’t even established in the mainstream, and it’s under the assumption that every single person in the diaspora views themselves as non-Japanese, which is far from the truth.

Here is the main problem: when you decide to publicize a huge event that profits off of how diverse and multicultural your city is, the last thing you should do is use language that excludes the community that makes it special. Brazilian and Peruvian residents are already discriminated against a lot by Japanese locals in Hamamatsu. Japanese peers, teachers, and authority figures constantly tell them that they are “gaijin”. The reason why some older Brazilian and Peruvian residents especially have a hard time learning Japanese is because they are not really given much government support, and because the Japanese community does not welcome them as equals. The city government only recently created programs to help mixed-race residents learn Japanese a few years ago.

Imagine being a yonsei child who was born and raised in Japan, mainly speaks Japanese, and attends a Japanese public school (where students might call you “gaijin” if you can’t pass as Japanese or if you have a non-Japanese name). You come to a huge event that refers to you and everyone in your community as a “gaijin”. How are you supposed to feel?

Some may argue that this is a sign of progress; you’re supporting local businesses and performers who are sansei/yonsei. However, I see it as very regressive and problematic to a huge degree. They are remotely far from being “gaijin”, and you’re promoting the multicultural communities here at their own expense by reminding them that they’re not fully Japanese. They are a legitimate part of the Japanese diaspora and Japan itself. I think the Japanese diaspora seems to be the only one in the world where many people claim that possessing any other heritage/culture automatically makes you not Japanese at all.

On the signs of the event, the slogan is, “The Gaijin Day: We live in Japan together!”

Yes, you can live in Japan together, but you will always be separate. You will always be classed as non-Japanese. Having any heritage or culture mixed in will cancel out your Japanese identity. That’s the message that you are sending to the mixed-race residents here, especially to the younger generations. And that’s a very toxic message to send.  Farrah.

Sources:

http://www.hi-hice.jp/index.php
https://rm.coe.int/city-of-hamamatsu-intercultural-profile/168076dee5

ENDS

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  First, it is disappointing that the site of Gaijin no Hi is Hamamatsu.  Given Hamamatsu’s special history with NJ residents (particularly its very progressive Hamamatsu Sengen of 2001), using exclusionary language such as “Gaijin” (given its history as an epithet as well; see below) feels truly, as Farrah put it, regressive.

Have they also learned nothing from the Toyoda Sengen of 2004 and Yokkaichi Sengen of 2006?  (I guess not; but surely the Japanese officials behind this weren’t similarly bribed to leave Japan in 2009?!)

Second, about that word Gaijin.  As I’ve argued before, it’s essentially a radicalized epithet with “othering” dynamics similar to “nigger”.  My arguments for that are in my Japan Times columns here, here, and here.

Bad form, Hamamatsu.  You should know better by now.  And if not by now, how much will it take?  That’s the power of Embedded Racism:  It even overcomes history.  Dr. Debito Arudou

The poster in higher resolution (click to expand):

========================================
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NYT: Dr. Sacko, Kyoto Seika University’s African-Born President, claims no experience of racism in Japan. Just of “being treated differently because he doesn’t look Japanese”. Huh?

mytest

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Hi Blog. We’ve talked about this in passing before, but let me highlight it as a separate blog entry: People in Japan are still accepting the antiquated notion of “race” as an abstract, biological concept. As opposed to a socially-constructed one that differs from society to society in its definitions and enforcement, or as a performative one that is created through the process of “differentiation”, “othering”, and subordination.

So strong is this centuries-old belief that even Mali-born naturalized Japanese Dr. Oussouby Sacko, recently-elected president of Kyoto Seika University (congratulations!), made the bold statement in the New York Times that his differential treatment in Japan is not due to racism:

“Dr. Sacko, a citizen of Japan for 16 years, says he is treated differently because he does not look Japanese. But he distinguished that from racism. ‘It’s not because you’re black,’ he said.”

Sorry, that’s not now modern definitions of racism work anymore, Dr. Sacko. Differential treatment of Visible Minorities in Japan is still a racialization process.  But I guess anyone can succumb to the predominant “Japan is not racist” groupthink if it is that strong.  Read the NYT article below for fuller context.

But the questions remain:  Is this a form of Stockholm Syndrome?  A cynical attempt to parrot the narrative for the sake of professional advancement?  A lack of awareness and social-science training on the part of a person, despite fluency in several languages, with a doctorate in a non-social science (engineering/architecture)?  I’m open to suggestion.  Especially from Dr. Sacko himself, if he’s reading.

Anyway, much better articles than the NYT’s about Dr. Sacko’s background and training are available from Baye McNeil in the Japan Times here and here.

In any case, congratulations, Dr. Sacko.  But I would suggest you utilize your position also to raise awareness about the very real issues of racism in Japan, not attempt a mitigating or denialist approach.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

In Homogeneous Japan, an African-Born University President
New York Times, April 13, 2018, courtesy of DTJ
https://nytimes.com/2018/04/13/world/asia/japan-african-university-president-sacko.html

KYOTO, Japan — On a beautiful spring Sunday during cherry blossom season, the new president of Kyoto Seika University welcomed students for the start of the Japanese school year. “You have left your home,” he told the 770 first-year and graduate students gathered in a gym on the hilly campus. “But this is also your home.”

In Bamanankan — the lingua franca of his native Mali.

And so Oussouby Sacko, 51, quickly dispensed with the elephant in the room: He is a black man in a homogeneous country that has long had an ambivalent relationship with outsiders.

Dr. Sacko, who is believed to be the first African-born president of a Japanese university, segued elegantly into fluent Japanese, invoking Hannah Arendt, Edward Said, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Malian writer Amadou Hampâté Bâ. The university, Dr. Sacko said, was “diversifying and internationalizing,” and he wanted the students to “recognize your difference from others.”

In this island country that is sometimes less than welcoming to immigrants, Mr. Sacko is an outlier. A resident for 27 years, he obtained Japanese citizenship 16 years ago and worked his way up through the ranks of a Japanese institution.

With a declining population, Japan is being forced to confront its traditional resistance to taking in foreigners. Last year, according to government figures, the number of foreign nationals living in Japan hit a record high of more than 2.5 million, with about 15,140 of them from African countries.

Yet that total number of foreign nationals makes up less than 2 percent of Japan’s population of 127 million, a lower proportion than in South Korea, for example, where foreigners make up about 3.4 percent of the population. The share is much higher in the United States, at 14 percent, and it is close to 40 percent in Hong Kong, according to data from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Obtaining Japanese citizenship is extremely difficult. Since 1952, just over 550,000 people have managed to naturalize as Japanese citizens, most of them ethnic Koreans whose families have lived in Japan for several generations since the colonial occupation of Korea.

And despite recent efforts to allow highly skilled foreigners to obtain permanent residency more quickly, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has declared that he will not relax immigration policy to address the country’s falling population.

Dr. Sacko says he believes Japan needs to allow in more outsiders, simply as an act of self-preservation.

“Japanese people think they have to protect something,” he said during an interview in English before a reception recently to celebrate his appointment. But, “someone who has a broad view from outside on your culture can maybe help you objectively improve your goals,” he said, occasionally interrupting the interview to greet his guests, switching effortlessly between English, French and Japanese.

Dr. Sacko, the eldest son of a customs officer and homemaker, grew up in Bamako, the capital city of Mali. A strong student, he won a scholarship from the Malian government to attend college abroad.

He had never been anywhere other than the neighboring country of Senegal. With 13 other students from Mali, he was assigned to study in China and landed in Beijing in 1985 to study Mandarin before embarking on a degree in engineering and architecture at Southeast University in Nanjing.

On a vacation to Japan after obtaining his undergraduate degree in 1990, Dr. Sacko found himself enchanted by what he observed as strong community ties and the hospitality toward guests. Although he had begun graduate studies in China, he was frustrated that a government minder always shadowed him when he conducted field research in local villages.

He had also met and started to date a Japanese woman, Chikako Tanaka, whom he later married and with whom he has two sons.

Dr. Sacko moved to Osaka, Japan, for six months of language lessons before enrolling in a master’s degree program at Kyoto University. In meetings with colleagues, he was often asked to take minutes, which helped him improve his listening comprehension and writing ability. At night, he watched Japanese television shows and socialized with Japanese classmates.

Twenty percent of Kyoto Seika’s student body comes from abroad, much higher than the 4 percent overall ratio in Japanese higher education. Dr. Sacko hopes to raise Kyoto Seika’s figure to 40 percent within a decade.Kosuke Okahara for The New York Times
His dedication to becoming fluent distinguished him from other foreigners. “They said, ‘If you speak Japanese, they will put you in meetings and on committees and that’s not interesting,’ ” he said. Many foreigners, he added, “spend too much time among ourselves.”

Dr. Sacko said he had hoped to return to Mali someday, but after a military coup in 1991, his employment options were limited. As he pursued a doctorate in Japan, he worked to understand a culture where people can say the exact opposite of what they mean. “You don’t always catch things from the meanings of the words,” he said. “You have to go deeper.”

Along the way, there were some misunderstandings.

After hosting a few parties at his apartment, his neighbors remarked that he and his friends always seemed happy and that they were envious. Dr. Sacko urged them to join his next party.

Instead, they called the police.

“The police said, ‘You are too noisy,’ ” Dr. Sacko recalled. “And I said ‘But my neighbors like that!’ ”

He applied for a job at Kyoto Seika, which specializes in the arts, and started as a lecturer in 2001. Colleagues say that over the years he has worked very hard to adapt to Japanese social codes while also retaining his own sensibility.

“He deeply understands Japanese culture and the way of thinking,” said Emiko Yoshioka, a professor of art theory whom Dr. Sacko appointed as vice president at Kyoto Seika. “But he also is able to poke fun at the fact that he is a foreigner.”

The faculty vote for president was extremely close, with Dr. Sacko winning by just one vote. At his inaugural reception, a group of musicians played Malian music on a patio, and Dr. Sacko stood quietly on a small stage during a parade of speeches from the mayor of Kyoto; the Malian ambassador to Japan; and various academic colleagues, including a professor from Kyoto University who repeatedly slipped up and called him “Professor Mali.”

Ryo Ishida, chairman of Kyoto Seika’s board, noted that the university had recently started a campaign to embrace diversity.

“But I don’t think his election was much to do with the university’s promotion of diversity,” Mr. Ishida said. “He was elected as the best leader of the university among his colleagues.”

In a practical sense, Dr. Sacko’s appointment could help Kyoto Seika appeal to more foreign students at a time when many universities across Japan are struggling to maintain enrollment.

Already, 20 percent of its student body comes from abroad, much higher than the 4 percent overall ratio of foreign students in Japanese higher education. Dr. Sacko said he hoped to raise Kyoto Seika’s level to 40 percent within a decade.

“I think he will help shrink the distance between Japanese and foreigners,” said Chihiro Morita, 18, an illustration major from Hyogo Prefecture.

Other black residents of Japan said that Dr. Sacko could help improve race relations in a country where performers still appear on television in blackface.

“The fact that he has been placed in such a prominent position will have a significant impact on how we’re perceived,” said Baye McNeil, a Brooklyn-born black columnist for the English-language Japan Times who has lived in Japan for 13 years.

Dr. Sacko said he had not experienced racism in Japan but said he was treated differently simply because he does not look Japanese. Despite his Japanese citizenship, for example, he says he is automatically routed to lines for foreigners at the airport when he returns from trips abroad. “It’s not because you’re black,” he said. “It’s because you’re different.”

He said he considered it his mission to foster differences beyond race. When recruiting Ms. Yoshioka as vice president, he told her he wanted her for the job because she was a woman and a single mother.

“If we don’t have a person like you in the top administration of the university, the board will just be filled with men,” he told her when she first hesitated to take the job. “And that doesn’t fit my vision.”
ENDS

=============================
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JT/JIJI: Japan plans new surveillance system to centralize NJ residents’ data. (Actually, it’s to justify police budgets as crime overall continues to drop.)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s yet another example of your tax dollars at work:  Further tightening surveillance on foreign residents:

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

To counter overstayers, Japan plans new surveillance system to manage foreign residents’ data
JIJI/JAPAN TIMES JUN 18, 2018
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/17/national/counter-illegal-overstayers-government-plans-system-centrally-manage-information-foreign-residents/
Japan plans to set up a system to centrally manage information on foreign residents to prevent overstayers from growing as the national labor crunch worsens, officials said.

The Justice Ministry will play a key role in handling the information, which will include records on employment, tax payments and marriage that is currently being separately managed by central and local government agencies.

The system is intended to strengthen government surveillance of overstayers as the nation imports more foreign labor to ease a severe nationwide labor shortage.

As part of the effort, a new organization might be set up within the ministry to collect and analyze information on foreign residents.

Japan had about 1.28 million foreign workers as of October last year, but the construction industry alone is expected to need as many as 900,000 extra workers by fiscal 2025.

On Friday, the government unveiled plans to create a new resident status to let foreign people with certain levels of expertise and Japanese ability work in Japan. The new status is expected to cover the nursing care, lodging, agriculture, construction and shipbuilding sectors.

The government also plans to cooperate with companies to give livelihood support to foreign workers, including multilingual guidance, Japanese-language education and housing.

ENDS

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

We’ve talked about this centralization of this policing of NJ residents before on Debito.org (including arrest quotas to entrap NJs), and what motivates it (the need to justify increased police budgets, rather than to provide services for NJ — which like above is thrown in as an afterthought).  But for a new angle, let’s turn the keyboard to Debito.org Reader JDG, who submitted this article with the following comment. Dr. Debito Arudou

JDG: Government plans to take responsibility for ‘managing’ NJ away from city halls and ‘centralize’ the management of all NJ by the Justice Ministry in order to ‘increase surveillance’. To this end, the police will have access to all NJ info; addresses, employment, tax, marital status, visa information, etc.

Imagine that the police will now demand to see your residence card so that they can radio the office and check all your details.  ‘Increased surveillance’? Why are NJ being surveilled at all to start with? Here’s a top tip for the police; detect crime, and then investigate it.

Strangely, it reminded me of this article:

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

Japan’s crime problem? Too many police, not enough criminals
Tokyo Letter: As they run out of things to do, officers are becoming more inventive

The Irish Times, Fri, Apr 6, 2018, 01:00
David McNeill in Tokyo (excerpt)

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/asia-pacific/japan-s-crime-problem-too-many-police-not-enough-criminals-1.3451997?mode=am

It was a crime that once would have attracted little attention in Tokyo’s lurid undertow: police are this week hunting a man who used his smartphone to film under a woman’s skirt. The suspect fled across the tracks of Ikebukuro Station after the woman cried for help.

Women subjected to sexual assault on Tokyo’s crowded transport system were once as likely to ignore it: Chikan (groping) was not widely dealt with as a crime until the mid-1990s. Now the police spend considerable energy trying to catch offenders.

One reason is that the police have more time. Crime rates have been falling for 14 years. In the last six months of 2017 they set a new low after falling the previous year below the one million mark for the first time since the second World War.

The murder rate of 0.3 per 100,000 people is among the lowest in the world, and roughly half Ireland’s rate. (In America, where violent crime is rising at its fastest pace since the 1970s, it is more than 5). Gun-deaths rarely rise above 10 a year.

Virtually the one rising criminal fraternity is the elderly. Senior citizens now account for about 20 per cent of arrests and detentions. As the population ages the over 65s commit nearly four times more crimes than they did two decades ago.

One result is that Japan’s jails are filling up with the infirm: more inmates need help with walking, bathing and even using the toilet. The government recently allocated a budget to send care workers to about half of the nation’s prisons.

Yet, Japan has more than 15,000 more police personnel than it had a decade ago, when crime rates were far higher. The density of officers per population is particularly marked in Tokyo, home to the world’s biggest metropolitan police force.

Forensic rigour
In practice, this means lots of police attention. Petty drugs offences are treated with forensic rigour. Police have arrested athletes, rock stars and university students for smoking pot. One woman recalls five officers crowding into her cramped apartment after she reported her knickers being swiped from a clothesline.

As they run out of things to do, however, police are becoming more inventive about what constitutes a crime, says Kanako Takayama, a professor of criminal law at Kyoto University. In one recent case, she says, they arrested a group of people who had shared the fees for a rented car because they judged it was an illegal taxi.

Critics who fret about over-enthusiastic police cite a week-long stakeout in 2016, in Kyushu, southwest Japan. Five officers watched over a case of beer in an unlocked car outside a supermarket in Kagoshima, scene of a series of car robberies, before pouncing on the hapless middle-aged man who eventually helped himself.

A judge dismissed the case, which he called an unnecessary and expensive sting operation.

In another incident reported by the liberal Asahi newspaper, police in rural Gifu Prefecture spied on local citizens who opposed a wind power project, then repeatedly called executives from the power company in 2013 and 2014 with detailed reports on the activists, including ages, academic background and medical records.

Oddly, the police increasingly struggle to solve crimes. The rate of detection for total offences fell to a post-war low of less than 30 per cent in 2013, which suggests that while crimes happen increasingly rarely, the police are not very good at solving them.

The latest annual White Paper published by the National Police Agency cites weakening community ties as well as widespread use of mobile phones, the internet and other technological advances as factors for falling detection rates.

People police themselves
Confessions, often made under duress, form the basis of nearly 90 per cent of criminal prosecutions. The reason why Japan looks so good is that people police themselves, says Yoshihiro Yasuda, a campaigning lawyer.

Japan’s justice system gets a lot right. Rates of recidivism (reoffending) are low and much effort is made to keep young offenders out of prison. Adults are incarcerated at a far lower rate than in most developed countries – 45 per 100,000 compared with 666 the United States.

Precisely because it is so safe, however, some fear the system is ripe for abuse. With little else to do, police may start finding new things to enforce, says Colin Jones, a legal expert at Doshisha University.

In 2015, a man was arrested for scribbling Adolf Hitler moustaches on to posters of prime minister Shinzo Abe. Leaked internal police documents in 2010 described intensive surveillance of Tokyo’s largely trouble-free Muslim community. A “mosque squad” made up of dozens of officers monitored Muslims and cultivated informants.

Last year the government gave the police even more powers with a new “conspiracy” law that allows them to investigate and arrest people who plan to commit crimes.

Whereas in some parts of the world, you can never find a cop when you need one, Japan may have too many.
ENDS

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

JDG:  With fewer crimes, and more police than ever before, Japanese police are getting ‘inventive’ in order to look busy; investigating crimes way beyond the level of resources that the crime warrants, and setting up intensive sting operations for minor offenses.

The police are looking to criminalize people in order to defend their budgets. I guess the japanese won’t mind hundreds of officers and millions of ¥ being squandered in operations that end up with NJ being harassed until the police can charge them with any petty crimes.

Given Japan’s huge national debt, not enough crime, too many police, should equal some lay offs. But TIJ!

Also, if they’re so overstaffed, how come it takes them six months to raid big companies like Kobe steel who admitted defrauding their customers for years with sub-standard product data manipulation? How come they didn’t send a truck load of cops straight round to the finance ministry to investigate dodgy land sales and public document falsification?

Nah, got to collar that guy who overstayed his visa!  RegardsJDG

===============================
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Japan Times: Preferential visa system extended to foreign 4th-generation Japanese [sic]: Allowing even NJ minors to build Olympic facilities!

mytest

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Hi Blog. Leaving aside the unproblematized JT headline below about “foreign Japanese”, we have the five-year work visa we talked about last blog entry (the one that exploits “Trainees”, sometimes to the point of death) now being offered to “fourth-generation Japanese”. (Y’know, the “foreign” ones; yonsei is the word in the vernacular, and we’d better develop similar linguistic flexibility in English too for accuracy’s sake).

As noted in the article below, these are the children of the Nikkei South Americans who got sweetheart “Returnee Visas” due to racialized blood conceits (being Wajin, i.e., with Japanese roots) back in the day.  However, Wajin status only counted as long as the economy was good. As soon as it wasn’t, they were bribed to return “home” no matter how many years or decades they’d contributed, and forfeit their pension contributions. While this is nice on the surface for reuniting Nikkei families (now that Japan has been courting the Nikkei to come back for renewed exploitation and disrespect), now they want these children, many of whom grew up as an illiterate underclass in Japan with no right (as foreigners) to compulsory education in Japan, to come back and work again starting July 1. Even work as minors!

The article below rightly gets at the caveats and policy subterfuge (such as merely using these kids as temporary Tokyo Olympics construction fodder), so read the whole thing at the Japan Times website. But the big picture is this:

The GOJ will simply never learn that having a racialized labor policy (where Japanese bloodlines were theoretically a way to bring in low-impact “foreigners”, while Non-Wajin were expendable no matter what — in theory; turns out all foreigners are expendable) simply doesn’t work. It doesn’t keep a labor market young and vibrant, and in fact winds up exacerbating ethnic tensions because migrants who assimilate are not rewarded with immigrant status, with equal residency or civil/human rights. If there’s no incentive to learn about Japan well enough to “become Japanese”, then NJ will either leave exasperated (or rather, be booted out due to expired visas), and Japan demographically will simply continue to age. And as my book “Embedded Racism” concludes, that means, quite simply, Japan’s ultimate downfall as a society as we know it. Dr. Debito Arudou

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

Preferential visa system to be extended to foreign fourth-generation Japanese [sic]
BY MIZUHO AOKI, STAFF WRITER
THE JAPAN TIMES, MAR 30, 2018
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/03/30/national/preferential-visa-system-extended-foreign-fourth-generation-japanese/

Foreign fourth-generation descendants of Japanese will be able to work in Japan for up to five years under a preferential visa program to be introduced this summer, the Justice Ministry said Friday.

The new program applies to ethnic Japanese between 18 and 30 who have basic Japanese skills equivalent to the N4 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Applicants will also be required to have support from residents they know in Japan, such as family members or employers, who can get in touch with them at least once a month.

Among those planning to apply are people who spent their childhoods in Japan with their parents before losing their jobs during the 2008 global financial crisis. Some of their parents later returned to Japan, but their grown-up fourth-generation offspring could not because the visa system only grants preferential full-time working rights and semi-permanent status to second- and third-generation descendants.

“The door has been closed for fourth-generation people. So there are definitely people who really need the new program,” said Angelo Ishi, a third-generation Japanese-Brazilian professor in the sociology department of Musashi University.

At present, fourth-generation ethnic Japanese are required to meet certain conditions to get a visa, such as being single minors who live with their parents, but can’t work full-time.

Under the new system, minors will be able to work. The new program begins on July 1, and the Justice Ministry expects around 4,000 descendants of Japanese emigrants from such places as Brazil and Peru to enter Japan each year. But the ministry said the new system is not aimed at alleviating the national labor shortage, but at nurturing people who can “bridge Japan and the Japanese-descendant communities abroad”.

Critics are skeptical. They say the new immigrants could be used as cheap labor at factories or construction sites in dire need of labor, especially ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I believe one of the reasons behind the change has to do with the Olympics,” said Kiyoto Tanno, a professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University who is an expert on foreign labor issues. “But such demand could disappear. That’s why, I guess, the ministry placed a cap on the number of years.”

Read the rest of the article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/03/30/national/preferential-visa-system-extended-foreign-fourth-generation-japanese/

=======================
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Japan Supreme Court enforces Hague Convention on Int’l Child Abductions (for Japanese claimants). Yet Sakura TV claims Hague is for “selfish White men” trying to entrap women from “uncivilized countries” as “babysitters”

mytest

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Hi Blog. We had an important Supreme Court ruling come down earlier this month, where an international custody dispute between two Japanese divorcees living in different countries resulted in the custodial parent overseas being awarded custody of the child, as per the Hague Convention on International Child Abductions. (See Japan Times article excerpt below.)

Debito.org has commented at length on this issue (and I have even written a novel based upon true stories of Japan’s safe haven for international child abductions). Part of the issue is that due to the insanity of Japan’s Family Registry (koseki) System, after a divorce only ONE parent (as in, one family) gets total custody of the child, with no joint custody or legally-guaranteed visitation rights. This happens to EVERYONE who marries, has children, and divorces in Japan (regardless of nationality).

But what makes this Supreme Court decision somewhat inapplicable to anyone but Wajin Japanese is the fact that other custody issues under the Hague (which Japan only signed kicking and screaming, and with enough caveats to lead to probable nonenforcement), which involved NON-Japanese parents, faced a great deal of racism and propaganda, even from the Japanese government.

As evidence, consider this TV segment (with English subtitles) on Japan’s ultraconservative (PM Abe Shinzo is a frequent contributor) Sakura Channel TV network (firmly established with the “present Japan positively no matter what” NHK World network).  It contains enough bald-facedly anti-foreign hypotheticals (including the requisite stereotype that foreign men are violent, and Japanese women are trying to escape DV) to inspire entire sociological articles, and the incredible claim that Japan’s court system is just appeasing White people and forcing a “selfish” alien system upon Japan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmbuabX9_S0&feature=share

The best bits were when banner commentator Takayama Masayuki claimed a) White men just marry women from “uncivilized” countries until they find better women (such as ex-girlfriends from high school) and then divorce them, capturing the former as “babysitters” for once-a-week meet-ups with their kids (which Takayama overtly claims is the “premise” of the Hague Convention in the first place); and b) (which was not translated properly in the subtitles) where Takayama at the very end cites Mori Ohgai (poet, soldier, medical doctor and translator who wrote sexualized fiction about a liaison between a Japanese man and a German woman) to say, “play around with White WOMEN and then escape back home.” (Who’s being selfish, not to mention hypocritical, now?)

Take yet another plunge into this racialized sexpit of debate, where the racism doesn’t even bother to embed itself.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

Supreme Court breaks new ground, ruling in favor of U.S.-based Japanese father in international custody battle
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, THE JAPAN TIMES, MAR 15, 2018, Courtesy of lots of people.
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/03/15/national/crime-legal/supreme-court-breaks-new-ground-ruling-favor-u-s-based-japanese-father-international-custody-battle/

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday in favor of a U.S.-based Japanese father seeking to reunite with his teenage son, who was taken by his estranged wife to Japan in 2016, concluding that the wife’s dogged refusal to abide by an earlier court order mandating the minor’s repatriation amounts to her “illegally confining” him.

The ruling is believed to be the first by the Supreme Court on cases where return orders by courts have been refused. It is likely to send a strong message regarding domestic legislation that is often slammed as impotent on cross-border child abductions, despite Japan’s commitments under the Hague Convention, following mounting criticism that return orders issued by courts have been ignored.

The Supreme Court sent the case back to the Nagoya High Court.

This latest case involved a formerly U.S.-based Japanese couple whose marital relationship began to deteriorate in 2008. According to the ruling, the wife unilaterally took away one of her children, then aged 11, in January 2016 and brought him to Japan where the two have since lived together.

Upon a complaint by the husband, a Tokyo court issued in September the same year a “return order” for the child under the Hague Convention, but the wife didn’t comply. When a court-appointed officer intervened to recover the child the following year the wife “refused to unlock the door,” prompting the officer to enter her residence via a second-story window, the ruling said. The mother then put up a fierce fight to retain the child, who also articulated his wish to stay in Japan.

On Thursday the top court overturned a Nagoya High Court ruling that acknowledged the child’s desire to stay in Japan. The latest ruling judged the minor was “in a difficult position to make a multifaceted, objective judgment about whether to remain under control of his mother,” citing his “heavy reliance” on her and the “undue psychological influence” she was likely exerting upon him in his life in Japan. The apparent lack of his free will, the ruling said, meant the mother’s attempt to keep the child equated to detention…

Rest of the article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/03/15/national/crime-legal/supreme-court-breaks-new-ground-ruling-favor-u-s-based-japanese-father-international-custody-battle/

ENDS
===================================

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

mytest

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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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Reuters: “Who is Kazuo Ishiguro?” Japan asks, but celebrates Nobel author as its own. Very symptomatic of Japan’s ethnostate.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  About a month ago, Briton Kazuo Ishiguro, who writes exclusively in English, won the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Predictably, Japan’s media boasted that a third Japanese writer (with the caveat that he was Japan-born) had won a Nobel.

Well, not really.  Imagine, say, Germany claiming as their own all the Nobel-laureate scientists of the Deutsch diaspora living abroad, even those without actual German citizenship, for however many generations?

In Japan, this highly-questionable social science is hardly problematized.  As noted below by Reuters, a similar claim was laid to Shuji “Slave” Nakamura, inventor of the LED, who due to his foul treatment by Japan’s scientific and academic communities quite actively disavows his connections to Japan (in fact, he urges them to escape for their own good).  Same with Yoichiro Nambu, who got Nobelled as a team in 2008 for Physics, yet had been living in the US since the 1960s, was a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, and had even relinquished Japanese citizenship and taken American.

I suspect these odd claims massage a rather insecure national pride.  Also because they are largely unquestioned under the concept of Japan as an ethnostate, where nationality/citizenship is directly linked to blood ties.  That is to say, anyone who is of Japanese blood can be claimed as a member of the Japanese societal power structure (i.e., a Wajin).  And the converse is indeed true:  Even people who take Japanese citizenship but lack the requisite Wajin blood are treated as foreign:  Just ask Japan’s “naturalized-but-still-foreign” athletes in, say, the sumo wrestling or rugby communities.

It’s a pretty racist state of affairs.  One I discuss in depth in acclaimed book “Embedded Racism” (Lexington Books, 2015).  And, as I argue in its closing chapter, one that will ultimately lead to the downfall of a senescent Japan.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

“Who’s Kazuo Ishiguro?” Japan asks, but celebrates Nobel author as its own
Chang-Ran Kim. Reuters, October 5, 2017, courtesy lots of people
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nobel-prize-literature-japan/whos-kazuo-ishiguro-japan-asks-but-celebrates-nobel-author-as-its-own-idUSKBN1CB0FZ

TOKYO (Reuters) – Minutes after Japanese-born Briton Kazuo Ishiguro was announced as the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature, Japanese took to Twitter to ask: “Who (the heck) is Kazuo Ishiguro?”

For those who had never heard of the author of “The Remains of the Day” and other award-winning novels, the name that flashed across smartphones and TV screens was puzzling – it was undoubtedly Japanese-sounding, but written in the local script reserved for foreign names and words.

Far from the super-star status that his erstwhile compatriot – and perpetual Nobel favorite – Haruki Murakami enjoys, Ishiguro is not a household name in Japan.

But by Friday morning, the nation was celebrating the 62-year-old British transplant, who writes exclusively in English, as one of its own, seizing on his own declaration of an emotional and cultural connection to Japan, which he left at age five.

“I’ve always said throughout my career that although I’ve grown up in this country (Britain) … that a large part of my way of looking at the world, my artistic approach, is Japanese, because I was brought up by Japanese parents, speaking in Japanese,” Ishiguro said on Thursday.

Japanese newspapers carried his Nobel win as front-page news, describing him as a Nagasaki native who had obtained British citizenship as an adult.

“On behalf of the government, I would like to express our happiness that an ethnic Japanese … has received the Nobel Prize for Literature,” Japan’s chief government spokesman said.

The Sankei daily boasted: “(Ishiguro) follows Yasunari Kawabata and Kenzaburo Oe as the third Japanese-born writer” to win the prize.

The country similarly celebrated with gusto the 2014 Nobel Prize co-winner in physics, American Shuji Nakamura, despite his having abandoned his Japanese nationality years ago. Japan does not recognize dual citizenship for adults.

Many Japanese are familiar with Ishiguro’s 2005 dystopian novel “Never Let Me Go” through its dramatisation in a local TV series last year, though the fact that Ishiguro wrote the work was less known. In the last 16 years, Hayakawa Publishing, which holds exclusive rights to translate Ishiguro’s works into Japanese, sold less than a million of his eight titles.

Japanese may yet yearn for an elusive Nobel for Murakami, but for now, Ishiguro is their man of the hour.

“Since last night, we’ve received orders for 200,000 copies,” Hiroyuki Chida at Hayakawa Publishing said. “That’s unthinkable in this day and age.” ENDS

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

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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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Daily Show on overseas media interpreters’ self-censorship of Trump’s language: Japanese interpreter plays dumb, claims no way to express “grab ’em by the pu**y”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I’m trying to maintain my summer vacation (and a dry-out from the Internet for a little while), but every now and again I stumble across something interesting (what with this golden age of political comedy in the US), and here’s something indirectly Japan-related.

Trevor Noah and company on the Daily Show make an interesting case about how Trump’s language, both in terms of content and syntax, is challenging for translators in other languages to render.  They make the point that the impact and nuance is often softened by translator self-censorship (or filling in the gaps with personal interpretations).  I understand well, having been in their situations more than once.  (And let me say here for the record:  I am not a trained interpreter, and I have had numerous debates with interpreters with accuracy versus diplomatic rendering of the language.  I fall on the side of total accuracy warts and all.)  Worth a watch:

But at minute 4:00 of the segment, the Japanese interpreter claims that there is no accurate way to translate Trump’s infamous “grab ’em by the pu**y” remark.  She even claims that there is no word “in the exact sense” for “pu**y” in Japanese.

Rubbish.  I can think of quite a few words that would do the trick, in content and especially in nuance.  The two easiest, of course, are om*nko or om*nta, as in “om*nta o tsukandari shite“,  and in Trump’s case I would even remove their honorific prefixes.

Of course, that would require bleeping out the syllable after “man”, but it’s been done on Japanese TV before.  I’ve seen it.

But I dislike it when people, especially in this case a professional interpreter, play dumb and deny.  Repeating that old lie that we heard as beginning Japanese students that “there are no bad words in Japanese”.

Like it or not, “om*nta” what 45 said.  Portray it accurately.  Or, as the segment argued well, the awfulness of 45’s speech is bleached out simply because the interpreter is being too diplomatic, cultured, or prudish.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

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Amy Chavez JT obit on “Japan writing giant” Boye De Mente: Let’s not whitewash his devaluation of Japan Studies

mytest

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Hi Blog. I hope everyone in the Northern Hemisphere is having a pleasant summer (and as for you lot Down Under, a much pleasanter winter than can be had up north!).

While on vacation I saw this review-cum-obituary of the late Boye Lafayette De Mente in the Japan Times. Written by Amy Chavez, it headlines him as “a giant of writing on Japan”:

////////////////////////////////////////
Remembering the life and works of Boye De Mente, a giant of writing on Japan
BY AMY CHAVEZ, SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES
JUN 25, 2017

Any Japanophile will have at least one of the 30 or so books authored by Boye Lafayette De Mente during his long and prolific writing career in Japan.

His works are read by travelers, businesspeople and scholars alike, with offerings ranging from “The Pocket Tokyo Subway Guide” to the “Tuttle Japanese Business Dictionary,” and my personal favorite, “Kata: The Key to Understanding and Dealing with the Japanese.” Several of his books have become classics…
////////////////////////////////////////

Full article at:
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/06/25/our-lives/remembering-life-works-boye-de-mente-giant-writing-japan/

I would respectfully disagree. As I wrote in the Comments Section of that article:

=============================================
One the last of the truly old-school postwar “Japan analysts”, who helped set the tone of Japanology as a pseudoscience fueled by stereotype. Check out his list of titles on Wikipedia and you’ll see the undermining of Tuttle as a reliable-source publisher. “Women of the Orient: Intimate Profiles of the World’s Most Feminine Women”, dated 1992, where he boasts of his sexual escapades, and draws broad conclusions about how Asian women please White men like him, anyone? Or if you want something approaching a different kind of lingus, try “The Japanese Have a Word for It: The Complete Guide to Japanese Thought and Culture.” (“Complete”?). Plenty more that anybody actually trained in modern Humanities or Social Sciences would find highly problematic.

Eulogies are one thing. But let’s not whitewash this person’s publishing record. “Classic” does mean “influential”, but it should not in this case necessarily imply “good”.
=============================================

Now, I am aware of the old adage of “Of the dead, nothing but good is to be said”, and I’m saying nothing about De Mente as a person.  I am assessing his work, as I hope someone would after I pass.  What I am critical of is the effects of his works, which are whitewashed in Chavez’s piece. (Disclaimer: I am not a fan of Chavez’s lousy social science in her writings to begin with: See for example her “How about a gaijin circus in gazelle land?” from the JT in 2010.)

As I allude in my comment above, De Mente is of a genre of writers who paint Japan in immensely broad and often sloppy strokes.  He expands upon a narrow amount of personal experience to make sweeping (and generally outdated) judgments about a society, and then replicates this across societies often with ribald results (and titles). De Mente not only portrayed Japan as a playground for rapacious White Men and “feminine” “Oriental Girls” (seriously, that’s one of his book titles in 2009), but also positioned himself as an oracle on how to use “samurai practices” and “code words” to triumph in careers, understand “thought and culture”, and even understand “the lively art of mistress-keeping“. And the fact that this was taken seriously–because there were so few analytical books on Japan when De Mente started out–is one reason why Japanology is such a mixed bag in terms of actual in-depth analysis. To this day, sweetmeat books on manga and anime are more likely to get book deals and sell better than anything, say, some powerful analysis Chalmers Johnson or Tessa Morris-Suzuki would write.

In sum, after reading a couple of De Mente’s books (as well as Jack Seward‘s, another profiteer of this Orientalist genre), I vowed never to read pseudoscientific books with analytical paradigms built on sand until I came up with my own paradigms — informed by facts, statistics, long experience full of trial-and-error, and full immersion making a life in Japan for decades like anyone else (including buying a house and taking out citizenship). Accomplishing that took some time, of course, and not all of my past writing goes beyond even De Mente. But I kept at it, and improved over the years; and now “Embedded Racism” has been reviewed very favorably by fellow scholars, thanks.

Will “Embedded Racism” have an influence within Japanese Studies, enough to be labelled a “classic” someday? Here’s hoping, but people more likely want to read about “Weird Japan”, Geisha, and how to bed Japanese women. And I challenge anyone to find a country written more about in the English language basically in terms of exotica and erotica.  We don’t take Japan, or scholarship on Japan, seriously enough partially because of that. That’s De Mente et al.’s legacy. RIP to the man, and someday RIP to his genre. Dr. Debito Arudou

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

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Japan Times cites Debito on “Tackling [anti-foreigner] signs in Japan that you’re not welcome”, including Tokyo Harajuku Takeshita Doori

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s an earnest Japan Times journalist trying to take on some nasty anti-foreign signs up in a prominent Tokyo shopping area. The article cites me at the end, thanks. Read on for another comment from me that didn’t make the cut. Dr. Debito Arudou

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

Tackling signs in Japan that you’re not welcome
BY DAISUKE KIKUCHI
The Japan Times, June 4, 2017

Entire article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/04/national/tackling-signs-japan-youre-not-welcome/

“MOTHER F——- KISS MY ANUS. F—- OFF Mother F——-… foreigner. Sneaking PHOTO.”

A hand-written sign bearing these words is among several decorated with similar insults that greet shoppers outside a fashion store that sells rock-style clothing in Tokyo. The sign sits among shirts emblazoned with designs featuring overseas rock bands such as Iron Maiden, Children Of Bodom and Marilyn Manson in the fashion and kawaii culture mecca of Harajuku’s Takeshita Street in Shibuya Ward.

The Japan Times visited the shop after being approached by a foreign resident who was disgusted to see the signs while he was with his young daughter.

“The shop is absolutely covered in these messages,” wrote the reader. “I walk past this place from time to time. The thing that annoys me most is that Harajuku is such an anything-goes area full of all kinds of subcultures and minorities, not least of all foreigners, so this place is like a nasty little pit of intolerance inside an oasis of colour and joy.”

Asked about the thinking behind the signs, a staff member at the store explained that the shop put them up after becoming frustrated by the terrible manners of foreign shoppers.

“They usually take pictures, without permission,” said the staff member. The shop is concerned about images of its products being uploaded to the internet, she said. As to whether they would consider taking down the sign, she added: “I’m not so sure. If (they) had good manners, we wouldn’t do this, but there are so many that have really bad manners.”

[…]

In 2002 the Sapporo District Court ordered a bathhouse in Otaru, Hokkaido, to pay ¥1 million each in damages to three plaintiffs refused entry because they did not look Japanese. This ruling was based on articles of the civil code protecting individual rights and authorizing damages when these rights are violated, Article 14 of the Constitution — which forbids discrimination — and international conventions on racial discrimination and civil rights. However, the court did not uphold the plaintiffs’ claim against the city for its failure to implement an ordinance against racial discrimination based on the international pact cited in the Bortz case. That verdict was confirmed by the Sapporo High Court.

Debito Arudou, a plaintiff in the Otaru case and a columnist for The Japan Times who writes about human rights, hosted a “Rogues Gallery” of “Japanese only” and other discriminatory signs found across the country on his website, Debito.org, in the years after the Otaru case. There, readers could post photos of signs they found locally or on their travels, as well as any measures taken to get those signs removed, some of which proved successful.

“After the Otaru onsens case, bigoted shopkeeps realized they could put up ‘Japanese only’ signs with impunity, and they proliferated around Japan,” explains Arudou. “I dropped by those places, asked ‘Why this sign?’ and what could we do about it.

“Most managers adamantly denied any racism on their part, until I asked if someone like I, a Caucasian with a Japanese passport, could come in. When they said no, I pointed out the racism, to which they just shifted tack and blamed their racist customers. When they said yes, I often came inside and got more information about what was necessary to get the signs down. When they said they’ll think about it and I should come back later, I did and was usually denied entry again. I’d say each situation happened about a third of the time.

“We did get several signs down,” Arudou says. “Part of it was by calm persuasion about what how unenforceable the policy was: How were they to decide who was Japanese, especially when I was proving it was possible to be one without looking like one — and what about Japan’s international children? Part of it was the need to make the rules clear despite a language barrier. I listened to their rules, wrote up a bilingual sign for them to display, and received their exclusionary sign in trade. And part of it was quietly pulling signs down in the middle of the night. They didn’t go back up.”

Based on his experiences, Arudou advises engaging with business owners displaying discriminatory signs.

“If you have the language ability, or a friend or native speaker who is so inclined, ask the manager why the sign is up, and what it would take to get it down,” Arudou says. “After all, we shouldn’t allow racist behavior to be normalized through public signage. And if that doesn’t work, of course, I would never advocate that people pull the signs down quietly in the middle of the night. Never ever.”
ENDS

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

NB: I also commented directly about the signs that open this article, which didn’t make the cut:

=====================================
The authorities are right. This isn’t a “Japanese Only” sign. It’s just a rude anti-foreigner sign, painstakingly rendered by shop staff too angry to say “No photos, please.” Kinda ironic, given the penchant for Japanese tourists here in Hawaii to take snapshots of anything they find exotic. At least merchants here word their notices more politely.

You could make the case that this is hate speech, but it might not convince enough people who can’t be bothered with signs that don’t affect them. It’s better to contact tourist associations, and do some name-and-shame as the 2020 Olympics loom.

Or better yet, create unintended consequences. Tell people where the sign is, and go take pictures of it. Add to the irony with photos of “no photos”.

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

mytest

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

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

From Cannataci’s letter:

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

From Kaye’s introduction:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now for the New York Times article:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

NORIO MARUYAMA, TOKYO

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

ENDS

===================================
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Asahi: Joe Kurosu MD on ineffectually low doses of medicine for NJ patients and bureaucratic intransigence

mytest

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Hi Blog. In our previous blog entry, Debito.org Reader StrepThroat brought up the issue of Japanese medical prescription doses being too low to be effectual for some larger patients, particularly larger NJ patients used to larger doses overseas. Some respondents recommended taking double the dose and going to the doctor again for refill of the prescription, while others self-medicated with overseas supplements, and still others mentioned falling through the system entirely (particularly when it came to painkillers).

Joe Kurosu MD, who runs a clinic in Shimokitazawa, adds to this discussion in a January 2010 series of opinion pieces in the Asahi Shinbun, by saying:

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

Asahi:  “For reasons that are unclear, however, the indicated maximum dose is often significantly lower than that which is standard in other parts of the world. Difference in physical frame and incidents of side effects are some of the purported reasons, but a scientifically convincing basis is lacking.

“A significant number of resident foreign nationals currently receive health care through the Japanese national health insurance system, but are ill-served because of these dosage standards.

“The maximum daily doses indicated on package inserts of standard medications for high blood pressure, diabetes and depression, for example, are one-quarter to one-half of the standard doses in other countries for the identical drug. […]

“In any case, if the government requires foreign nationals to join the [National Health Insurance] system, it must be willing to provide services appropriate to that population. If this is not possible, then buying in the system should be voluntary […] I urge the government and relevant authorities to return autonomy to the physicians so the medications can be prescribed appropriately for the patient, whether or foreign or Japanese, based on science and clinical judgment, rather than [mechanically applying the dosage levels indicated on the package inserts].”
//////////////////////////////////////////

Here are scans of Dr. Kurosu’s articles in English and Japanese, courtesy of Dr. Kurosu himself (pctclinic.com) and RJ.

PDF versions here (click on link):
Kurosu2
KurosuArticleJP

There was another question as to whether Japanese medical testers screen for Japanese as an ethnicity (or “race”) when it comes to clinical trials.  Well, yes they do — as demonstrated here in Hawaii when I saw an ad in our campus newspaper back in 2012 calling for “Japanese” people to volunteer for a series of clinical trials “to help Japanese people”, sponsored by Covance.  I inquired (as a Japanese citizen), but was told that they were only interested in “ethnic Japanese” (including those who didn’t have Japanese citizenship, but had “Japanese blood”).  Oh well.  Missed out on my body mass.

Many thanks to everyone for helping make Debito.org a valuable resource and forum. Dr. Debito Arudou

=============================
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Fukushima Pref Police HQ online poster asking for public vigilantism against “illegal foreign workers, overstayers”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Check this notice out, from the Fukushima Prefectural Police HQ:

Courtesy http://www.police.pref.fukushima.jp/i/onegai/jyouhou/gaijin.html
(Love how the link is simply “gaijin.html”.  Nice non-racist computer programmers you got there.)

It reads:

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

PLEASE COOPERATE IN INVESTIGATIONS OF CRIME BY FOREIGNERS COMING TO JAPAN.

Nationwide, there are many cases of things like theft and heinous crimes by foreign muggers coming to Japan. In Fukushima Prefecture as well, the following have occurred:

  • Widespread cases of burglaries targeting [including grammatical error of wo tou wo] precious metal shops.
  • Burglaries at pachinko parlors using body-sensitive machines (taikanki) [whatever those are].
  • Cases of auto break-ins.

ILLUSTRATIONS:  WHAT IS THIS PERSON UP TO?

  • Illustration caption one:  Skulking around vending machines.
  • Illustration caption two:  Looking for anti-theft devices.
  • Illustration caption three:  Peeping around other people’s cars.

If you see or hear about a suspicious person such as this, contact your nearest police station or police box, or call 110 if an emergency.

PLEASE COOPERATE IN UNCOVERING FOREIGN ILLEGAL OVERSTAYS AND ILLEGAL WORKERS.

Illegal entrance to the country of course applies to foreigners who enter the country legally and stay beyond their legal residency period, and if they work under the wrong visa laws.

Employers who also employ foreigners illegally are punishable under the laws.  We ask that employers who employ foreigners follow the laws strictly.

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR NEAREST POLICE BOX OR STATION IF YOU DISCOVER ANY FOREIGNER ENTERING THE COUNTRY OR WORKING ILLEGALLY.

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

As submitter XY says, “Not only are they perpetuating the stereotype of NJ being criminals, they’re basically asking the public to act as vigilante immigration officers.”

And there’s a bit more.  Look at the tab for the website above all this:

「ヤミ金融業者に注意!!福島警察本部」, or “Beware of Black Market Financiers!” What’s this got to do with “gaijin”?  Oh, I guess if falls under the “Anti Group-Crimes Policy Section” (soshiki hanzai taisaku ka, see very top of poster), which, according to the National Police Agency, foreigners are allegedly more likely to commit even in “group-oriented Japanese society”.  So I guess the gaijin are somehow also involved in Black Finance as well.

COMMENTS:  Well, let’s put this into context with all the other police posters we’ve been cataloging here at Debito.org for many years.  We’ve had the local police claiming that many crimes have been committed by foreigners in their area (while we’ve found that at in at least one case, despite police claims of “many cases”, crimes committed by foreigners were actually ZERO), and once again demonstrating how enlisting the public in racial profiling is their modus operandi.

In Fukushima Prefecture itself, according to the prefectural government, crime has been going steadily down without fail since 2002 (with no mention of foreign crime in the stats; you can bet that it would have been mentioned if it was significant).  Foreign crime in Fukushima doesn’t even make the top 80% of all foreign crime committed by prefecture in 2011, the year everything went pear-shaped, according to the Ministry of Justice (see page 58).  In the general NPA foreign crime report dated April 2015, Fukushima is only mentioned twice (talking about two individual crimes as case studies illustrative of “what foreign criminals do”), without overall crime breakdown by prefecture. And after a fairly exhaustive search, I can’t find ANY recent official stats on foreign crime in Fukushima, either in terms of numbers or rate of change.  So I think this is probably just another example of the Japanese police manufacturing a fictitious foreign crime wave.

Another comment I’d like to make is about the irony here.  Fukushima has grumbled about how its exiled citizens are being treated as radioactively contaminated pariahs across the country and refused service.  How sad that, despite this experience, the Fukushima Police haven’t learned that you shouldn’t target people this way.  Oh, but then again, they’re only talking about foreigners, and they don’t count:  foreigners shouldn’t be here in our peaceful society anyway if they’re just going to commit crime (or are, incorrectly, rumored to commit crime).  And here is just another example to see how racism is embedded in Japan all over again.  Dr. Debito Arudou

————————–

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Kyodo: “Russian’s conviction for handgun possession dismissed”, due to bent J-cops’ “arrest quotas” that illegally entrap NJ

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s another case of bent cops in Japan targeting NJ (Want more?  Click here.) even if it means resorting to illegal activities.  Comment follows article:

//////////////////////////
Russian’s conviction for handgun possession thrown out
JAPAN TIMES/KYODO, MAR 7, 2017, courtesy of JDG
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/07/national/crime-legal/russians-conviction-handgun-possession-thrown/

SAPPORO – Following new testimony from a former police inspector about a Russian man who was caught in an illegal police sting operation, a court Tuesday overturned his 1998 conviction for handgun possession.

The Sapporo District Court acquitted former seaman Andrei Novosyolov, 47, who served two years in prison, but did not rule on the legality of the police operation.

Novosyolov was arrested in November 1997 at the port of Otaru in western Hokkaido for possessing a handgun and was found guilty of violating the firearms control law by the district court in August 1998. He had been seeking a retrial, claiming he was the victim of an illegal operation by the Hokkaido police.

Novosyolov’s defense counsel filed for a retrial in September 2013 following new testimony from a former police inspector stating the person who approached Novosyolov about exchanging a used car for a handgun was in fact working for police investigators.

The defense council claimed that Novosyolov was the victim of an “illegal sting operation” by the police and asked the court to make a “bold judgment” on the illegality of the operation in the retrial. Prosecutors had also sought Novosyolov’s acquittal.

The district court approved holding a retrial in March last year, recognizing that the sting operation in Novosyolov’s case was illegal, prompting prosecutors to file an immediate appeal with the Sapporo High Court.

The high court in October rejected the prosecutors’ appeal and called for the retrial to be held on the grounds that police officials at the time made false statements in investigative documents, but it did not rule on the legality of the police operation.

Yoshiaki Inaba, the 63-year-old former police inspector who worked in the Hokkaido police’s firearms control division at the time of his arrest, was arrested in 2002 on suspicion of stimulant drug use, and admitted during his trial that the Hokkaido police had engaged in a sting operation.

“It was a sting operation conducted to aid the police,” Inaba said in a recent interview. “He must have gone through a lot of hardships in prison in a foreign country. I want to apologize to him.”

“His acquittal would lift a great weight from my shoulders,” Inaba added.

At the time of Novosyolov’s arrest, police officers had been assigned a quota to confiscate illegal guns following a series of sniper shootings targeting key figures in Japan.

Police officers instructed an informant to encourage foreigners to bring firearms to Japan as part of efforts to meet the quota. Novosyolov was arrested in the process of exchanging the handgun.

“Me and the organization jumped to grab the opportunity to get the credit,” Inaba said, recalling Novosyolov’s arrest. “I still remember his frightened face at the arrest scene.”

“(My superiors) must have acknowledged that it was an illegal operation. I thought this method was wrong but couldn’t fight back,” Inaba said. “We did many other dirty things and I thought we would have to pay for them someday,” he added.

Inaba said he testified about the police’s sting operation out of his desire to reveal the truth.

Hokkaido police officials declined to comment on the legality of its investigatory method concerning the case. ENDS

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

As submitter JDG put it:

—————————————-

JDG:  It’s NOT the fact that this guy was framed in an illegal entrapment by police and wrongly served 2 years.

No, what is BLOWING MY MIND is that the J-cops;
1. Set quotas for gun related arrests…in ‘safety Japan’, because they claim…
2. There were a series of high profile incidents of sniping at ‘key’ figures! (I never saw ANYTHING about that in the news!). And therefore, to meet the quota…
3. J-police instructed informants to tell NJ to bring guns into Japan, so they could be arrested! Because…
4. Y’know, ‘quotas’ and stuff…err…

Oh, and yeah, let’s not forget;
5. Wrongly imprisoned NJ gets released, BUT why are all these corrupt cops not being prosecuted? Where is the government mandated review of the NPA to stop a BS quota system that engenders abuse?

—————————————-

Let me add a couple of things:

1) As the article alludes, entrapment is illegal in Japan.  Japanese police are not allowed to catch criminals by engaging in criminal activity themselves.  Which is why Japanese doing illegal things overseas act rather indignant (as opposed to penitent) when being caught by, for example, American sting operations.  That’s why this case should have been thrown out of court, at least in Japanese jurisprudence — the ill-gotten evidence was inadmissible.  And doubly so when the cops are pressuring themselves to nail NJ just to fulfill a “quota”.  Triply so when the cop who trapped him and later came clean, Inaba Yoshiaki, was himself a druggie.  (Hokkaido cops are actually pretty famous for being bent, see here and here; and as I discovered for myself here and here.)

2) One detail not properly outlined was the timeline. Novosyolov was arrested in 1997 — nearly twenty years ago — and convicted in 1998.  He served two years in prison.  Yet druggie cop Inaba comes clean in sometime around 2013 and… it takes three more years to spring Novosyolov?  Since he was surely not allowed to leave Japan, where was he for the nearly twenty years?  Languishing in a Gaijin Tank between the ages of 28 and 47?  Bang went the best twenty years of his young life.

And something closer to my heart:

3) This took place in Otaru, my old stomping ground, and the site of the “Japanese Only” racist bathhouses that resulted in the landmark Otaru Onsens Case.  Otaru cops are also rather famous for their arrogance, conducting spot Gaijin Card checks just to alleviate their own boredom (my first one happened there in 1987, shortly after I first arrived), so to me this is all within character.

Congrats to Novosyolov for getting sprung.  But I doubt this will result in any reforms to the system that illegally entraps NJ for sport.  Dr. Debito Arudou
——————————

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Ueno Chizuko, fabled feminist Sociology Prof. Emeritus at Tokyo U, argues in newspaper column that Japan will never accept foreigners, and Japanese should just decline into poverty together. Geriatrically rigid rigor.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  On Japan’s National Foundation Day, a time where Japan’s patriots often come out and make statements on what it means to be a “Japanese”, fabled feminist Sociology Professor at Tokyo University Ueno Chizuko wrote something for the Chuunichi Shinbun. As the headline proclaims, “Let’s become equally poor together”.

Here’s a bit more about her in an interview with the Japan Times (2006).

As TG, the person who tipped me off to this article writes, “Chizuko Ueno, Japan’s most famous academic feminist, says there is no chance of reversing the decline in the birthrate; that at the same time Japanese society is inherently incapable of inter-cultural understanding; that therefore she opposes any move to liberalize immigration policy; and that the Japanese people should accept that they are going to gradually decline into poverty over the years to come.

“Hmm. I wonder what Hidenori Sakanaka, Arudou Debito and other FB friends think about this. She is a gadfly who likes to provoke, and you could read this as an attempt at satirical pessimism possibly. Or has she just lost the plot?”

Provoke indeed.  It’s caused a stir on Japanese debate fora (it took more time than usual to find where this article appeared — people were too busy debating this on online fora to even disclose that). And on FB, where I was fortunately tagged, we had some interesting comments:

AB: “I read this yesterday and wondered about 平等に貧しくなろう。She also talks about a soft crash landing, if I recall correctly. Resigned pessimism of the wartime 「まだ焼き出されていないのか」type was my interpretation, but I don’t suppose I’m right.”

CD: >こういう「もう経済成長しなくていい」「一緒に衰退していこう」みたいなことを言う似非リベジジババ結構いるんだけど「アンタの人生の終焉に国を巻き込むな」と言いたい。老いて衰退してくのはアンタ自身だ、若い子には「アンタらにはない」可能性がある。世の中の若いヒト全てに対して失礼だ。
“Boom. Couldn’t say it better myself in either language. The myopic narcissistic “L’etat, c’est moi” conflation of self and cultural space in this woman’s train of thought are simply staggering in someone who dares to parade her ideas in the media as a purported “public intellectual”.”

CD(2): “Note that while I am suspicious of her psychological motivations for framing the situation thusly, that does NOT mean that I don’t think it may very well go down the way she lays it out. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people this age and older whose symbolic immortality is so tied up with the idea of “Japan for Japanese only and only the kind of Japan I’ve known” that they would rather “die than switch”, so to speak. Young people had better light a political fire under their butts here, or the whole shebang will slide down in a long, slow geriatric national/cultural kamikaze dive. The event horizon for this is coming up fast.”

EF: “Setting aside the point about having children, many of our students counter her comments regarding the inability of Japanese to gain multi-cultural understandings.”

GH: “I still remember her ‘feminist’ paper given years ago at SOAS, it was premised on two points: western feminism was not a perfect fit to Japan (fair enough, other non-white feminists make similar points), but then everything she said about being a feminist in Japan seemed to contradict her own very existence as a single female academic: it seemed to be about being a better housewife or being happy with different work conditions because of the fragility of the female body (menstrual leave days for example). It only made some sense to me years later, when I saw her speak at a big feminist history conference in Tokyo: her position is against the old hardcore Marxist feminist ideology of the generation just before her (and dating back to before the war). So she’s fighting an ideological battle that pushes her to say the most incredibly bizarre things sometimes: we are not all equal, but equivalent, this was her mantra. Of course equivalences can be very arbitrary…”

And GH is where I came in:

DEBITO: I very much agree with [GH’s] insight, and I think it sheds light into the mentality behind this article. I have often noticed that feminism in Japan is not “equality between the sexes” but “separate but equal” status between the sexes, inherently accepting that inequality is inevitable due to purported physical and emotional differences between men and women. Some things are “women’s work”, for example, and some things are men’s, and you’d better respect that order or else woe betide you for intruding.

Once you accept this kind of natural status quo, it becomes just as easy to accept that there should be “separate for foreigners in Japan” too, however “a foreigner” is defined. The problem is that most people accept without much question the “necessarily separate but unequal” mantra as well, since foreigners are not Japanese, by definition, and Japanese are told on a daily basis (no exaggeration) about the inherent differences between them. And therein lies the slow-drip mindset that over the years will eventually affect even the most intellectually-rigorous, as they get older and fossilized in their beliefs.

You even find it in many very long-term foreigners in Japan, who will even argue that they deserve their own unequal status. Rigor becomes rigid.

So to me, Ueno’s pontificating on the natural order of separation is a natural outcome of living in a society as hierarchical and segregated as Japan’s.  I think with this article, she’d have a more comfortable cup of tea with the likes of Sankei columnist Sono Ayako, who on National Foundation Day exactly two years ago expressly praised South African Apartheid and advocated a similar system for Japan’s foreigners.  –Dr. Debito Arudou

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

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Wash Post & BBC: “Japan gets first sumo champion in 19 years”. Really? What oddly racist triumphalism from foreign press!

mytest

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Hi Blog.  We have a really weird conceit going on in the foreign press (see Washington Post and BBC below) regarding sumo wrestler Kisenosato’s rise to yokozuna, the highest rank.  (Congratulations, and well done, by the way.)  They are portraying it as “Japan’s first sumo champion of 19 years.”

Well, guess what, guys.  Wrong.  Japan has had other sumo champions in the 19 years, as you mention.  Hakuho, Harumafuji and Kakuryu.  There as also (oddly disgraced and scapegoatedAsashoryu as well.  Yes, they were born in Mongolia.  But guess what.  Who cares?

If you do care, does that mean you are subscribing to the racist theory (widely held in Japan, anyway, dating from the days of Akebono and Musashimaru) that because they aren’t Japanese, they don’t count as “real” sumo champions?  (Both Akebono and Musashimaru are naturalized Japanese, by the way, and were when they were yokozuna less than 19 years ago.  How ignorant of you not to mention that.)

Or are you subscribing to the tenet, as the Sumo Association does, that even naturalized Japanese sumo wrestlers don’t count as Japanese?

Or are you subscribing to the tenets, as expressed by racist fans below, that sumo has somehow “lost something” because foreign-born wrestlers rose to the top?  Is sumo an ethno-sport?  The Sumo Association tried to make it into into an Olympic event, by the way.  And would that mean if Japanese do not medal, as happens in Japan-originated events such as Judo, that the event has “lost something”?

Foreign reporters, kindly don’t racialize the sport with these types of headlines and reports.  Herald the athletes for their physical prowess regardless of origin.  Because you know better.  Articles like these wouldn’t fly if you were writing about a sport in your home country.  Imagine England claiming (and you reporting as such) that soccer has no real champion every time it doesn’t win a World Cup!  Don’t succumb to a racist narrative just because it comes from Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

After 19 long years, Japan has a grand champion of sumo once more
By Anna Fifield. The Washington Post, January 25, 2017
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/after-19-long-years-japan-has-a-grand-champion-of-sumo-once-more/2017/01/25/

TOKYO — After decades of scandals and humiliation at the hands of Mongolian wrestlers, sumo finally has Japanese grand champion again.

Kisenosato, a 30-year-old, 385-pound wrestler, was promoted Wednesday to the rank of yokozuna, the first time a Japanese competitor has been elevated to the highest tier in sumo in 19 years.

“The position of yokozuna is proof of much hard work and he’ll need to continue to work hard and protect the position like hell,” Nobuyoshi Hakkaku, chairman of the Japan Sumo Association, told reporters when announcing the promotion.

Japan’s national sport has been in decline in recent years, partly the result of a generational shift towards sports like baseball, partly because of the health issues associated with the heft needed to wrestle, and partly because of the increasing dominance of foreigners.

All three of the current yokozuna, whose ranks Kisenosato now joins, come from Mongolia. Competitors from Brazil, Russia, China and even Hawaii have also been doing well in past years.

So Kisenosato electrified Japan at the weekend when he won the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, recording 14 wins and only one loss.

Usually, a wrestler is promoted to yokozuna after winning two tournaments, but the Yokozuna Deliberation Council Monday recommended that Kisenosato be elevated to the top rank after only one victory.

The Japan Sumo Association concurred Wednesday, making Kisenosato the first Japanese wrestler to be promoted to grand champion since Wakanohana in 1998.

“Kisenosato to end long drought of Japan-born yokozuna,” a headline in the Asahi newspaper declared. “Hopes are rising that this new Japanese yokozuna will reinvigorate the world of sumo,” a writer said in the Nikkei Asian Review.

Kisenosato had something of a reputation for fragility, failing to come through high-pressure matches on many occasions. But at the tournament on Sunday, something felt different, he said.

“I was not excessively tense and was able to fight while keeping my calm,” he told Japanese reporters. “In addition to my own power, I felt that some different power was working.”

Indeed, Kisenosato has set another record: It took him 89 rounds of tournaments to become yokozuna, the slowest record in modern sumo history. And his victory Sunday came only after two Mongolian yokozuna pulled out of the tournament.

Some worry that Kisenosato has been promoted too quickly or that rules were bent to allow him to reach grand champion status.

“I like Kisenosato. Of course I want to see a Japanese yokozuna! And I believe his stable results in the past six tournaments were wonderful,” Ebizo, a renowned and outspoken kabuki actor, wrote on his blog this week. “But he became yokozuna with only one tournament win. I wonder if this could be an attempt to produce a Japanese yokozuna after such a long time.”

Yuki Oda contributed to this report.

ENDS

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

Japan gets first sumo champion in 19 years
BBC, 25 January 2017, courtesy of JDG
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38721106

Japan has formally named its first home-grown sumo grand champion in almost two decades, in a boost to the traditional wrestling sport.

Kisenosato, 30, was promoted to the top-most yokozuna rank after his win in the first tournament of the year.

He is the first Japanese-born wrestler to make it since Wakanohana in 1998. Five wrestlers from American Samoa and Mongolia have made it in the interim.

Foreign wrestlers have come to dominate sumo, amid a lack of local recruits.

Kisenosato, who comes from Ibaraki to the north of Tokyo and weighs 178kg (392 pounds), has been an ozeki – the second-highest rank – since 2012.

After being runner-up on multiple occasions, he finally clinched his first tournament victory – and thereby his promotion to yokozuna – in the first competition of 2017.

“I accept with all humility,” Kisenosato said in a press conference after the Japan Sumo Association formally approved him.

“I will devote myself to the role and try not to disgrace the title of yokozuna.”

What is sumo?
PHOTO: Wakanohana (R) competes against Akebono (L) at the Sumo Basho in Vancouver (file image)Image copyrightAFP
PHOTO: Wakanohana (R), seen here fighting Hawaiian Akebono, was the last Japanese wrestler to be promoted to yokozuna

Japan’s much-loved traditional sport dates back hundreds of years.

Two wrestlers face off in an elevated circular ring and try to push each other to the ground or out of the ring.

There are six tournaments each year in which each wrestler fights 15 bouts.

Wrestlers, who traditionally go by one fighting name, are ranked and the ultimate goal is to become a yokozuna.

Many Japanese fans will be pleased to see a local wrestler back at the top of a sport regarded as a cultural icon.

As yokuzuna, Kisenosato, whose real name is Yutaka Hagiwara, joins three other wrestlers in sumo’s ultimate rank – Hakuho, Harumafuji and Kakuryu.

The trio all come from Mongolia, following a path forged by sumo bad-boy Asashoryu, who was Mongolia’s first yokozuna in 2003.

The last Japanese-born wrestlers to reach the top were brothers Takanohana and Wakanohana, who made it to yokozuna in 1994 and 1998 respectively.

In recent years, sumo has been hit by falling numbers of Japanese recruits, partly because it is seen as a tough, highly regimented life.

Young sumo wrestlers train in tightly-knit “stables” where they eat, sleep and practise together and are sometimes subjected to harsh treatment in the belief that it will toughen them up.

In 2009, a leading coach was jailed for six years for ordering wrestlers to beat a young trainee who later died, in a case that shocked the nation.

Those at the top of the sport are also expected to be role models, showing honour and humility – and can be criticised if they get it wrong.

Mongolian wrestler Asashoryu led the sport for many years, but sumo elders were troubled by some of his behaviour

Sumo must also compete with the rising popularity of football and baseball, which have vibrant leagues that draw crowds of young Japanese fans.

But the sport is attractive to wrestlers from other nations, who can earn a good living. Wrestlers have come from Estonia, Bulgaria, Georgia, China, Hawaii and Egypt, as well as Mongolia and American Samoa.

As a child, Kisenosato was a pitcher in his school’s baseball club before he chose to train as a wrestler at a stable in Tokyo.

He made his debut in 2002 and, reported Japan’s Mainichi newspaper, the 73 tournaments he took to become a yokozuna are the most by any wrestler since 1926.

Speaking to reporters after the tournament victory on Monday that sealed his elevation, Kisenosato said he was pleased to be holding the Emperor’s Cup trophy at last.

“I’ve finally got my hands on it and the sense of pleasure hasn’t changed,” he said. “It’s hard to put into words but it has a nice weight to it.”

ENDS

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

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Problematic Fukuoka Pref. Police sign warning against “Foreign Travelers in Rental Cars”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Following the “foreign driver” stickers put on cars to stigmatize the NJ tourists (and NJ residents renting cars) in Okinawa and Hokkaido, now we have the Fukuoka Prefectural Police taking it upon themselves to associate bad driving with foreigners.  Based upon one cited accident (Japanese drivers, after all, never have accidents, right?), the police put up a multilingual sign to caution everyone, and apparently teach NJ how to drive all over again.  How presumptuous.  Let’s see what submitter XY has to say:

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

Date: August 22, 2016
From: XY

Hi Dr. Debito,
I am a long-time reader – and very occasional commenter – on your blog. However, this Obon I encountered a sign at a rental car office at Fukuoka Airport that was hard to ignore. The sign is attached.

The multilingual translations of everything BUT the warning up top [which specifically mentions “foreign tourists driving rental cars” (gaikokujin ryokousha no unten suru renta-ka-)] seem quite disengenuous to me, almost as if the intention of the author was to create a literal honne/tatemae on the page:

Tatemae: we want everyone to be safe on the road so we have put these reminders out for everyone’s good, even our foreign guests.

Honne: beware, there are dangerous foreigners on the roads of Kyushu. We are doing our omotenashi to remind them of the “common sense” of driving as you can see below, but you need to be extra alert because there is only so much we can do to control their foreign ways of driving

Not the best vibe to be giving off exactly 4 years before the Tokyo Olympics if you ask me.

By the way, a very cursory web search brought up this article, which I am pretty sure reports on the same accident that the poster describes:
http://qbiz.jp/sp/article/84684/1/

I cannot read to the end without an account, but my initial thoughts are:

– There are assumptions galore. The article mentions police making a poster to warn people of the “prohibited” act of dozing off behind the wheel, imploring them to take rests, etc. Incredibly, it implies that these practices are not common sense for people who are not experienced driving in Japan. This argument might hold a sliver of credibility if there was testimony from the driver proving that one of these factors was a cause of his accident. But the article gives no such proof.

– The article offers many statistics to show that the number of foreigners renting cars has indeed increased. Unfortunately, it does not bother to provide statistics proving that this has resulted in an increase in accidents (above and beyond the normal expected increase with more drivers on the road). Even if they did provide evidence showing an increase in accidents, they would still need to go a step further to show how this is directly related to foreign drivers and not something else (the rapid aging of licensed Japanese drivers, perhaps??).

When you take away the need to consider your foreign audience — this article being designed for domestic consumption only — it seems to me that this is another classic case of the Japanese authorities using foreigners as a punching bag for societal angst.

Cheers, XY

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

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JT: “Japan’s shared dwellings are evolving to meet diverse needs of tenants”: Basically NJ tenants on same level as pets

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I’ve heard that people are worried I’m getting more easygoing in my old age (just turned 52), and that I’m settling for less (cheering on the baby steps) while not spading the spades enough.  Well, in my defense, I’m generally doing more big-picture stuff these days — signs of the times that indicate future trends and policy directions.  But this time, let’s do some Classic Debito, where I’m taking an isolated incident (such as a single article by a journalist lacking in self-awareness) and parse the text to find hidden subtextual meanings.  I’d generally do this for government documents (since they more likely express official attitudes of a committee), but let’s have fun with the article below.  Maybe you will see that I haven’t lost the verve, and that even Bowie could rock well into his fifties.  Here goes.  Article follows, with my comments in nonboldface:

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

NATIONAL
Japan’s shared dwellings are evolving to meet diverse needs of tenants
BY ANNA MASUI, KYODO NEWS/JAPAN TIMES
JAN 17, 2017, courtesy of JDG
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/01/17/national/japans-shared-dwellings-evolving-meet-diverse-needs-tenants/

PHOTO: Residents dine together at a Tokyo share house run by Borderless Japan, which ensures an equal number of Japanese and non-Japanese tenants. | KYODO

The face of share house living is changing in Japan as operators are stepping up efforts to meet a variety of needs among residents.

COMMENT:  From the opening line, we’re set up to see that we’re diversifying qualifications to rent an apartment, which is very welcome given how strict some landlords in Japan can be.  Fine, but… look how it’s contextualized in the very next sentence.

A two-story share house in a residential area in the western Tokyo city of Chofu allows residents to keep pets.

COMMENT:  Oh, pets.  Okay, so this is an article about allowing pets in with the paying humans?  The next paragraphs remain in that groove:

In late November, residents gathered in the 23-sq.-meter living area to share nabe hot pot fare, with their small pet dogs playing around them.

The home costs much less than other share houses for residents with pets, said Natsumi Yamada, 37, who moved there with her dog in March.

Yurina Wakatsuki, 25, began to live in the house in July to “interact with someone else because I used to only commute between my home and company.”

“I now enjoy going to a nearby cafe with my dog,” she said.

COMMENT:  Okay, but wait for the pivot:

The house is owned by House-Zoo, which was founded in 2016. The Tokyo-based company currently operates 12 share houses in the capital and Saitama Prefecture, allowing residents to keep up to two small pets, including dogs, cats, birds and rabbits, each.

COMMENT:  “House-Zoo”, eh?  So we’re talking about inter-species relationships, eh? Go on.

While share houses that permit residents to keep pets usually charge lease deposits equivalent to several months’ rent, House-Zoo demands a deposit of only ¥30,000. Some 70 people have lived in its share houses.

“It is costly to live in cities with pets,” said Muneki Tanaka, president of the company. “Share houses can lower costs and we will continue to provide environments where people can live with animals around them.”

COMMENT:  So far, so good.  About half the article has contextualized Japanese living with their pets.  But suddenly, the pivot:

Borderless Japan Corp. in Tokyo operates share houses where Japanese and foreign nationals live roughly on a 50-50 basis, accepting residents between 18 and 35 years of age.

COMMENT:  Huh?  We’ve gone from living with dogs and other pets to living with foreigners?  (And note the age cap.)

The operation began in 2008 as a spinoff from support services for foreign nationals unable to lease rooms partly due to the absence of guarantors.

COMMENT:  And also partly due to the issue of racist landlords simply unwilling to rent to a foreigner.  Because it’s not illegal to refuse accommodations (or entry in general) to foreigners on the basis of nationality or race in Japan.  According to the Asahi, 42% of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward alone encountered some form of discrimination, and nearly 52% of that was in finding apartments.  Racism, not a lack of guarantor, is generally the first slammed door a newcomer NJ faces.  How nice of this to be glossed over in the article.

The company has 70 “borderless houses” in Tokyo, Saitama, Osaka and Kyoto, having some 5,000 residents. People from the United States, France, Sweden and other Western countries account for a large portion of the residents.

COMMENT:  This should not be news.  “Borderless” houses should be the norm.  The fact that they are not the norm should be one focus of this article.

Despite residents keeping the houses in order by rotating cleaning duties, problems occasionally occur due to differences in living practices and cultures.

COMMENT:  Ah yes, another box checked off on my “Japanese media BINGO card”:  No article or discussion on foreigners in Japan (including even those on business, corporate safety, immigration, and of course garbage sorting) is complete without mentioning intrinsic and allegedly inevitable J/NJ problems due to “cultural differences”.  Not because certain people as individuals are untidy or aren’t used to their mommies not doing their laundry for them…

Ah the joys of dorm life.  Except in many societies, dorm residents don’t put conflicts down to “culture”, and just accept that some individuals are dicks.

Nevertheless, non-Japanese residents said they feel welcome thanks to the presence of Japanese friends, while Japanese welcome opportunities to learn differences in values and to improve their foreign language ability.

COMMENT:  As written that sounds like quite a nice trade off.  NJ get put to work enlightening them about their “differences” and teaching them gaikokugo, while Japanese just honor them with their presence.  Sounds like a better deal for the Japanese resident.

Meanwhile, real estate company Oakhouse manages Social Residence share houses, promoting interaction among residents who offer skills and information in their specialty to other residents through regular events such as cooking lessons.

Oakhouse now owns 17 share houses in Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama, some of which are equipped with studios for yoga, dance and music.

COMMENT:  Sounds like a lot of work just to be a resident.  Remember the age cap of 18-35 mentioned above?  Well, this is clearly not a place where people, especially middle-aged professionals, can just live and be left alone.  Come back home from a hard day’s work, and there’s still more work to be done?

Well, you might say, if you don’t like communal living, then don’t choose to live there.  But remember, Japanese have a lot more choice.  NJ don’t, in Japan.  So it sounds like NJ are being forced to be social in order to live there.  Kinda like camp counselors, in charge of keeping the camp kids entertained, except without the power to set the camp agenda.

“I have come to enjoy communal life through my experience of traveling abroad,” said Ikuya Yoshizawa, 23, who lives in Oakhouse’s residence in Kodaira, Tokyo.

“Events are enjoyable and opportunities to learn what I don’t know are stimulating,” he added. ENDS

COMMENT:  I wonder how a NJ resident feels.  Oh, we didn’t get a quote from them. The only residents who count, by the grace of their presence, are the Japanese who need to be stimulated.  An article written by a J reporter for a J audience, clearly, with NJ being treated as exotic animals being studied in their imported-native habitat.

CONCLUSION:  While I think we can assume that these places are run by well-meaning people just trying to put a roof over people’s heads, this article is written without much self-awareness.  Especially by couching NJ-friendly housing in the context of pet-friendly housing (“House-Zoo” is a dead giveaway), I think we can infer that the subconscious attitude of the reporter is that foreigners are entertainers there for the pleasure of the Japanese residents.  Like a pet cat or a dog.

But that’s, again, indicative of a bigger-picture trend.  Consider all the tokenism found in Japanese companies (especially during the Kokusaika Era, which I experienced first-hand) in hiring young, genki gaijin to “internationalize” their company, and then putting them to work in temporary, trite, and expendable jobs so that they could give the company smiles but never get promoted to a post with any power.

All this, and the reporter ignoring the fact that racist landlords (not the lack of a guarantor) are the primary reason why “no pets, no foreigners” apartments exist.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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

Version with links to sources follows

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

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

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

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

9 Priyanka Yoshikawa wins Miss World Japan

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

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

8 Japan’s multiethnic citizens score at 2016 Olympics

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

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

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

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

7 Renho Murata takes helm of the Democratic Party

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

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

6 Abubakar Awudu Suraj case loses once and for all

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

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

5 2016 Upper house elections seal Shinzo Abe’s mandate

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

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

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

4 Next generation of “Great Gaijin Massacres” loom

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

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

3 The government surveys NJ discrimination

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

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

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

2 Blowback involving NJ tourism and labor

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

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

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

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

1 Hate speech law gets passed — and enforced

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

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

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

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

Bubbling under the top 10

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

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

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

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

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

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Japan Times: “Riding while foreign on JR Kyushu can be a costly business” (re train ticket discounts in Japanese only)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  First have a read of this article, and then I’ll comment:

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Riding while foreign on JR Kyushu can be a costly business
BY LOUISE GEORGE KITTAKA
The Japan Times Community Page, DEC 4, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/12/04/how-tos/riding-foreign-jr-kyushu-can-costly-business/

The last column of the year starts off with a problem regarding buying JR train tickets in Kyushu. Reader A writes:

I thought you might be interested in this issue that I encountered when using an automatic ticket machine in Hakata Station, Fukuoka.

Because I don’t read Japanese so well, I changed the machine to English language. As I went through the menu I could not select the “nimai-kippu” (two tickets of the same type) option, which offers a discount. The only options I had were two individual tickets — if I recall correctly the price difference was ¥2,000. I canceled the sale and went to the counter and had a conversation with the clerk, who confirmed that once English is selected, the cheaper two-ticket option wouldn’t be offered.

I was thinking how many hundreds of thousands of yen have been taken from people simply because they select English and don’t happen to know about the cheaper ticket options. My wife actually emailed JR Kyushu, but just got back a standard, “Thank you for your email.”

I spoke to a representative in JR Kyushu’s PR department. After some investigation, he confirmed that this situation still exists with some of the ticket machines once the foreign language option button (for English, Korean and Chinese) is pressed. It seems that there are two types of ticket machines, and while it isn’t a problem for the “two-ticket option” for shorter distances (kin-kyori), it does affect those for machines for longer distances (shitei kenbai). As our reader pointed out, this could result in non-Japanese customers paying quite a bit more if they purchase tickets through the machine.

“While JR Kyushu isn’t in a position to change the machines immediately, we will take this opportunity to discuss the situation and see how we can improve things for our foreign customers,” said the rep. He thanked the reader and Lifelines for bringing the problem to the department’s attention.

Has anyone encountered a similar problem with JR tickets in other parts of Japan? JR Kyushu’s spokesperson said it is possible the same situation could be happening in other areas, too.

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

COMMENT:  Two things:  One is that we have proof positive in a national newspaper of separate pricing schemes based upon language.  And this at one of Japan’s flagship companies (Japan Railways), no less.  Consider the parallels:  A restaurant with menus with cheaper prices for customers if they can read Chinese (something frowned upon as discrimination elsewhere).  Or travel agencies that reserve cheaper plane tickets for Japanese citizens only (see here too). Japan’s train network in Kyushu is filtering customers by language ability and charging Japanese-illiterates a premium.  This must stop, obviously, because it’s discriminatory.

And this is a great example to bring up point two:  How people still defend the practice, no matter what.  I waited a few days to post this, and sure enough, the Japan Times article predictably collected a few comments from guestists and denialists.  They decried anyone calling this practice “racist” (even though it is, under modern definitions of racial discrimination being a process of differentiation, othering, and subordination).  They instead went to the extreme of calling the decriers “racist”, or conversely the practice of selling discounted train fares to foreign tourists “racist” (actually, they can be sold to Japanese-citizen tourists as well as long as they don’t live in Japan), despite all the government campaigns to promote foreign tourism these days.

The point to stress is Japan’s subtle racism is particularly devious because of its plausible deniability.  People will seize on any excuse to justify discriminatory treatment.  Want equal rights or treatment in Japan?  Become a Japanese citizen.  Want equal access to cheaper train fares?  Learn Japanese.  You see, discrimination is the fault of those being discriminated against — because they didn’t take every measure to evade the discrimination.  Its an acceptance of a differentiated and othered status, used to justify the subordination — which deflects discussion of why this discriminatory system exists in the first place.

Why can’t customers just be treated as customers, and their money for access be valued the same way, regardless of their language ability? Well, I’ll tell you why.  Because to JR, it’s not a matter of fairness or equality.  It’s a combination of setsuyaku and mendokusai.  Making discounts multilingual would be costly, and then there’s the factor of profiteering from the extra fares.  The incentive system is clear:  Why pay more for a system that brings in less revenue?  And besides, the foreigners won’t realize it (because foreigners obviously don’t read Japanese), won’t complain (because they’re so powerless, with no voice in Japan except, ahem, the Japan Times), or they aren’t organized in numbers big enough for a meaningful boycott (plus, as seen above, anyone calling for organized action will be called racist even by their own side).

This is one reason why discrimination is so hard to get rid of in Japan.  It’s subtle enough at times for people to naysay it.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

mytest

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

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————— break ——————-

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

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

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

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Nikkei: Japan begins clearing path for foreign workers. Really? Let’s analyze the proposals.

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
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Hi Blog.  The Economist (London) recently has had a couple of articles on immigration to and even naturalization into Japan (here and here), so it looks like PM Abe’s alleged pushes to liberalize Japan’s NJ labor market (despite these other countering trends herehere, here, herehereherehere, and here) are gaining traction in the overseas media.  Let’s take a representative sample of the narrative being spun by the Japanese media for overseas consumption (in this case the Nikkei, Japan’s WSJ, which recently published an incorrect article about NJ issues and refused to acknowledge its mistake), and see how it holds up to scrutiny.  Original article text in bold italic, my comments interspliced in this regular text:

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Japan begins clearing path for foreign workers

Nikkei Asian Review, August 11, 2016, Courtesy of JK
http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Japan-begins-clearing-path-for-foreign-workers

TOKYO — The Japanese government is set to take steps to smooth the way for foreigners to enter and thrive in the domestic labor market, with the reforms targeting hospitalization, taxes and residency requirements.

The economic growth strategy devised by the central government in June highlights the need to aggressively attract foreign talent. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and others are hearing opinions from companies worldwide regarding bringing information technology specialists into Japan.

COMMENT:  This focus on “foreign talent” is basically policy wonk speak for “we’re not importing unskilled labor”.  Even though we are.  And have been doing so through a government-sponsored NJ slave labor program (this is not an exaggeration) for more than a quarter century.  And if we talk about this push for “specialists”, they’ve already tried that with the “Points System” visa regime, and, as we predicted, it failed miserably.  Understandably.  Read on to see why it’s going to fail again.

The trade ministry aims to amend related legislation and tax rules during the regular Diet session in 2017.

English-friendly hospitals

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare seeks to allay concerns among foreigners living in Japan about going to hospitals. Only about 20 hospitals nationwide are equipped to handle emergency cases involving foreigners. The goal is to double that number by March and raise it to 100 before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

COMMENT:  Nice, but up to 100 in four years?  That’s helpful for the tourists coming for the Olympics, but that’s not exactly a huge help for NJ who actually live in Japan, moreover outside of the Kantou conurb (where I anticipate the majority of these hospitals will be situated).  Moreover, 100 hospitals in a country where there are apparently, as of 1990, “8,700 general hospitals, and 1,000 comprehensive hospitals with a total capacity of 1.5 million beds” is minuscule (a little over one percent) and presumably not well spread out.

Given that the problem is not a matter of providing medical treatment in English (if a patient is, for example, unconscious or unresponsive, language is not an issue) but rather hospitals actually ACCEPTING or TREATING NJ patients (a big problem for Japanese patients too), merely ameliorating a language barrier (assuming all NJ speak English, too) is more of a salve than an actual cure of the larger problem.

The government will help cover costs arising from hiring interpreters and offering documents in English. Multilingual versions of questionnaires and hospital signs cost an average of 3 million yen ($29,619), according to estimates, and the government generally will pay half the expense. For medical interpreters and similar services, the state will subsidize a hospital to the tune of roughly 9 million yen.

COMMENT:  Nice, but obviously porkbarrel.

Officials also seek to help foreigners on the tax front. If a foreign worker dies in Japan due to unforeseen circumstances such as an accident, the inheritance tax applies to assets held in all jurisdictions. This discourages foreign talent with sizable assets from taking management positions in Japanese companies. Many are urging reform, and METI intends to coordinate with the Finance Ministry and ruling parties to apply the inheritance tax only to Japanese assets starting in fiscal 2017.

COMMENT:  Yes, that is, if you die and leave Japanese assets valued at more than US $88,000 (and there are ways of getting around this too — gifting it to your kin before you die, for example).  Clearly this is a concession the rich expats hanging around Roppongi Hills have lobbied for.  I doubt that this will affect most NJ residents (and not least the “foreign talent taking management positions in Japanese companies”, wherever they apparently are).

And (microaggression alert:) I love how NJ die of “accidents”, not of old age in Japan.  Because implicitly they are temporary and don’t live in Japan forever, right?  Nice, Nikkei.

Talent search

The government looks to ease residency requirements for guest workers. The Justice Ministry will recognize certified foreign care workers as specialists worthy of the corresponding visa status.

Japan currently admits care workers through economic partnership agreements, but those are limited to countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines. The number of guest workers is expected to increase by allowing care givers who learn Japanese or professional skill sets at educational institutions to work in Japan. Necessary legislation is to be enacted during the extraordinary Diet session this fall, with the measures taking effect next fiscal year.

COMMENT:  Yep, they tried that too before.  Until the Indonesians and Filipinas realized they were being exploited by a revolving-door visa system that deliberately set the bar too high for passing, and decided to pass on Japan altogether. So Japan’s policymakers are moving on to the next exploitable societies:  Cambodia and Vietnam.  Which, note, are also not kanji-literate societies; if the GOJ really wanted to get people to pass the nurse literacy test (full of medical kanji), they would get nurses from China or Chinese-diaspora countries.  The fact that they won’t speaks volumes about their true policy intentions.  As does the next paragraph:

The government also seeks quick passage of legislation to add the care worker category to Japan’s Technical Intern Training Program, which provides support to developing nations.

COMMENT:  Meaning they’re going to bring them in too as “Trainee” slaves exempt from Japan’s labor laws.

Researchers and other highly skilled foreign professionals likely will find it easier to obtain permanent resident status. Currently, a foreign national needs to reside in Japan for five years before gaining that status. Government agencies are debating lowering the bar to less than three years, with a decision expected this year at the earliest. South Korea allows those with PhDs in high-tech fields to apply for permanent residency after a one-year stay.

Japan also aims to cut red tape surrounding investment and establishing new enterprises in order to help foreign corporations do business. Surveys examining barriers to foreign businesses and professionals have begun, and they will inform initial reforms to be decided by year’s end at the soonest. (Nikkei)

COMMENT:  These are proposals are still in the embryonic stage.  When that actually happens, that will be news and we’ll talk about it then.  Reporting on it now is still policy trial-ballooning on the Nikkei’s part.

FINAL COMMENT:  There is nothing here that constitutes actual immigration, i.e., bringing in people and making them into Japanese citizens with equal protection guaranteed under the law.  Until that happens, there is no discussion here worthy of headlining this as a “cleared path” for foreign workers.  It’s merely more of the same exploitation of imported laborers in a weakened position by government design.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Article first, then comment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMENTS:

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

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

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

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TV “Economist” Mitsuhashi Takaaki on foreign labor in Japan: “80% of Chinese in Japan are spies”: “foreigners will destroy Japanese culture”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Let’s get right to it with a post from Debito.org Reader AG:
=========================
Date: June 12, 2016
From: AG
Dear Debito:

There is a lot of discussion about immigration and work in Japan. There is a video showing a so called economist ranting and spreading FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) about why allowing immigration into Japan is a bad idea. Perhaps you would like to see into it and share it with your community at Debito.org. I support your site in many ways and I appreciate your insight and many matters that are wrong in Japan. I understand that your bottom line is to try to make a positive change in life.

Here’s the video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C18_G6wIh-Y

Sincerely, AG
=========================

COMMENT: The above video about Mitsuhashi Takaaki, a commentator, writer, TV personality, seminarist (juku), failed LDP candidate, and blogger about things he considers to be politics and economics, shows how normalized bigotry is in Japan — to the point of silliness.

Once you get past the stupid tic he has with pushing up his eyeglasses (redolent of aspiring Hollywood wannabes of the 1910s-1930s who thought their cute catchphrase, gesture, or sneeze would fuel an entire career), you realize what he’s enabling: Japanese media to espouse xenophobia.

In the video, where he’s critical of PM Abe’s policies (ignorantly portraying Abe as a proponent of importing foreign labor in order to undercut Japanese workers’ salaries), he goes beyond economics and into bigotry:  about Chinese (depicted as invading hordes with queue hairstyles, where he claims that “80% are spies” [source, please?]) and foreigners in general (they will “destroy Japanese culture”).  The research gets so sloppy that it reaches the point of silliness (at minute 0:30 they even misspelled TPP as “Trance Pacific Partnership”).  Watch the video yourself, but not as a lunch digestion aid.

In the end, Mitsuhashi is just an IT dork relishing his time in the sun, riding a patriotic wave while dividing, “othering”, and bullying minorities for his own financial gain.

Again, it’s one more indication that the long-awaited next generation of “more liberal Japanese” will be just as narrow-minded as the previous one (if not even more so, since they have no memory of the wartime excesses their embedded racism led to generations ago).  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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Kyodo: Foreign laborers illegally working on farms in Japan increases sharply [sic]. How about the J employers who employ illegally?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here we go again with some media bias focusing on the evils “illegal foreign laborers” do, overlooking the fact that it’s Japanese who hire them illegally.  (One segment even justifies these illegal hiring practices under the guise of economics.)

Two other submitters below make some more arguments, with a focus on the recent smoke out of illegal police activities in Ibaraki Prefecture.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Foreign laborers illegally working on farms in Japan increases sharply
Japan Times / Kyodo News, June 12, 2016, courtesy of JDG and BGIO
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/11/national/social-issues/foreigners-illegally-working-on-farms-in-japan-increases-sharply/

The number of foreign laborers working illegally on farms across the nation rose threefold over the three year period ending in 2015, according to government data.

The findings highlight the difficulties facing Japan’s agricultural sector, including labor shortages and the advanced age of many of the country’s farmers.

Among all the illegal foreign workers subject to deportation in 2015, the greatest number — 1,744 or 21.9 percent — had worked in the farming sector. That was up from 946 in 2014, 695 in 2013, and 592 in 2012, according to the Justice Ministry.

The ministry also found illegal farm workers were “concentrated on farms in Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures, which are easily accessible from Tokyo.”

The average age of the nation’s farmers is now 66.4 years old, and the fact so many have no one to succeed them has become a serious social issue.

“I just cannot keep my business afloat unless I hire (illegal laborers), even if it means breaking the law,” said a 62-year-old farmer in Ibaraki.

The government does operate schemes under which farmers can legally employ foreign workers, including a technical internship program for people from developing countries. Some 24,000 foreign laborers were working on Japanese farms as of fiscal 2014 under that on-the-job training program, according to an estimate by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Since the government began compiling such data in 1991, Tokyo had regularly topped the list of 47 prefectures for the number of foreign laborers working illegally. But last year, the capital ranked third behind Ibaraki with 1,714 illegal workers and Chiba second with 1,238.

An immigration official said it is believed that around 5,000 undocumented workers are currently working in Ibaraki.

By nationalities, the greatest numbers of illegal workers came from China, Thailand and Vietnam.

The number of foreign workers who overstayed their visas rose in 2015. The increase came after the government relaxed visa requirements for visitors from Asian countries.
ENDS

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

Submitter BlondeGuy InOz comments: I love the way that the headline is “Foreign laborers illegally working on farms in Japan increases sharply” when in reality it should have been more along the lines of “Japanese agricultural employers continue to flout trainee laws and illegally exploit foreign workers from developing countries”, or alternatively “percentage of foreign workers from developing countries exploited by Japanese agriculture sector worker rises to 7% (1,744 of 24,000) of those employed in ‘trainee’ scheme”. But then such headlines would require the type of objective and balanced media coverage than has long been missing in what has the temerity to call itself ‘journalism’ in this country.

I let a lot of things go but I just couldn’t bring myself to let this one pass by without at least commenting. Note: that one of the main offending prefectures is Ibaraki prefecture. I experienced my fair share of racism and exclusion (e.g. denied entry to restaurants, denied the right to apply for a credit card, etc…) when living there during a previous stay in the prefecture between 1996 and 2001 (was resident in Japan from 1996 – 2010 before returning to my home country for what has been a better life).

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

Submitter JDG comments: Well, well, well! What have we here? The people benefitting from the anti-constitutional voter weighting disparity, the people receiving the most is government subsidies (including a special bonus to help them restructure for the now never to be implemented TPP), the people who have voted LDP over and over again. Rural farmers are the exact same people breaking the law by employing the greatest number of NJ illegally!

And guess where? Chiba and IBARAKI!

It makes a laughing stock and a sham of the legal system, the JA, the LDP, and the stupid notion that Japanese Shinto mumbo-jumbo rice farming culture is a corner-stone of Japanese identity! If it wasn’t for the LDP letting it’s voters illegally employ NJ, those voters and their farming culture would be over! No wonder Ibaraki police are so crazy; they are being told one thing by the government and then expected to turn a blind eye to the NJ underpinning the local economy! That conflict of interest must be causing them trauma!

In addition, I would put forward the following supposition to explain the behavior of the Ibaraki Police:

Local people, believing NPA statements that the vast majority of crime is caused by NJ, are alarmed by all the ‘shady’ NJ in Ibaraki.

The local police have to been seen to act tough on this issue to make the citizens feel safe, and to ensure that they don’t voice their dissatisfaction by throwing out the local LDP incumbent at the next election.

Therefore the PD put up posters of a militarized police, and hassle law abiding NJ whenever the locals phone them, since this means that they can be seen to be acting, when in fact they are choosing to overlook the huge numbers of NJ illegally employed by LDP supporting farmers, and under-pinning the local economy.

It’s all a dog-and-pony-show designed to distract the citizenry from politicians in league with law breaking Japanese farmers, so that they can keep their sticky fingers on the levers of power.

See? It all makes sense now.

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

ENDS

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Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE 98, “Ibaraki Police still unfettered by the law, or the truth”, June 6, 2016 (UPDATED with links to sources)

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Police still unfettered by the law, or the truth
Repeat-offender Ibaraki force called to account for backsliding on the issue of hotel snooping
By Debito Arudou.  Column 98 for The Japan Times Community Page, June 6, 2016 Version updated with links to sources.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/06/05/issues/japans-police-still-unfettered-law-truth/

Japan’s police are at it again: Lying about the law.

A reader with the pseudonym Onur recently wrote to me about his experience in the city of Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, when he checked into a hotel. Even though Onur clearly indicated he was a legal resident of Japan with a domestic address, clerks demanded he present his passport for photocopying. They pointed to a sign issued by the Ibaraki Prefectural Police.

IbarakipolicehotelposterApr2016
But that poster has three great big stripy lies: 1) “Every foreign guest must present their passport” 2) “which must be photocopied” 3) “under the Hotel Business Law” — which states none of these things. Not to mention that Japan’s registered foreign residents are not required to carry around passports anyway.

What’s particularly egregious about this sign is that the Japanese police know better — because we told them so a decade ago.

The Japan Times first exposed how police were stretching their mandate in “Creating laws out of thin air,” Zeit Gist, March 8, 2005, and, later, two updates: “Ministry missive wrecks reception,” ZG, Oct. 18, 2005, and “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry,” Just Be Cause, July 6,2010.

It made an impact. Even the usually noncommittal U.S. Embassy took action, posting in their American Community Update of May 2005:

“After we sought clarification, according to the Environmental Health Division, Health Service Bureau, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the new registration procedure at lodging facilities does not apply to foreigners who are residents of Japan but only to tourists and temporary visitors. If you write a Japanese address on the check-in sheet, hotels are not supposed to ask for your passport.”

Right. So why do the Ibaraki police still feel they can lie about the laws they are entrusted to uphold?

Because … Ibaraki. I’ll get to that shortly…

But back to Onur, who also took action. He stayed an extra day in Mito and raised the issue with local authorities:

“I went to Mito City Public Health Department (Hokensho), who were very helpful, and confirmed that as a resident I need not show ID at hotels. Then I showed them the poster from the Ibaraki police department. Surprised, they said they had never seen this poster before, and the police had not contacted them about it. They said it is clearly different from the real law, especially the bit about ‘every foreign guest.’

“The Hokensho added that the police have become stricter because of the G-7 (Ise-Shima) summit and 2020 Tokyo Olympics. They said they would check the hotel and inform me of the result.”

But Onur wasn’t done yet: “Then I talked with two officers at the Mito City Police Department’s Security Division. They listened without making any comments. I showed them an official announcement from the Health Ministry and said that their poster is clearly different.

“The police read the ministry announcement and took notes like they were unaware of the law, asking questions like ‘Do the other hotels in other parts of Japan ask for your ID card?’ and ‘Isn’t checking the ID card necessary to confirm that a foreigner really has an address in Japan?’ I offered the contact number at Health Ministry for more information, but they said it wasn’t necessary. Finally, I asked them to fix their poster. They said they would check the law and behave accordingly.”

Shortly afterwards, Onur got a call from the Hokensho: “They checked my hotel and saw the poster was now changed. It seems the Ibaraki police had printed a new one and distributed it to all hotels within a few hours! The Hokensho said the new poster clearly states ‘foreign nationals who do not possess an address in Japan,’ which follows regulations. They said the police warned the hotel not to make the same mistake again. Finally, they thanked me for informing them about this problem.”

Well done. It’s satisfying to have others retrace our steps and get even better results. It’s just a shame that he should have to.

However, two issues still niggle. One is that photocopying requirement, which, according to The Japan Times’ own legal columnist, Colin P. A. Jones, may also be questionable:

“According to the Personal Information Protection Act (Kojin Joho Hogo Ho), the hotel should explain to you why they are collecting personal information from you, which is what they are doing if they take a copy of your passport,” Jones said in an email. “So if they can confirm that you are a resident of Japan by looking at your residence card or driver’s license, they do not need to take a copy because they have confirmed that the Hotel Act no longer applies. If they take a copy they are collecting personal information beyond what is necessary for the expressed purpose. In my experience, once you point this out, hotel staff then start mumbling about ‘their policies,’ but of course those don’t trump the law.”

Second issue: Ibaraki.

Ibaraki is where cops take local grumps seriously when they report a “suspicious foreigner” standing near JR Ushiku Station — seriously enough to arrest him on Aug. 13, 2014, for not carrying his “gaijin card.” Well, that “foreigner” turned out to be a Japanese, and Japanese are not required to carry ID. Whoops.

Ibaraki is also the site of a mysterious and under-reported knife attack on Chinese “trainee” laborers (the Japan Times, Feb. 23, 2015), which resulted in an as-yet-unresolved[*] murder. (Funny that. Imagine the media outcry if foreigners had knifed Japanese!)

Do Ibaraki police have anything to do with this? Actually, yes.

Ibaraki police have posted in public places some of Japan’s most militantly anti-foreign posters. I mean this literally: Since 2008, at least three different versions have depicted cops, bedecked in paramilitary weaponry, physically subduing foreigners. The slogan: “Protect (Japan) by heading (foreigners) off at the shores.”

Ibaraki police have also offered the public online information about “foreign crime infrastructure,” as if it’s somehow separate from or more ominous than the yakuza. They claim that foreigners are responsible for drugs, illegal medical activities, underground taxis, false IDs — and paternity scams to get Japanese citizenship. And, conveniently, the National Police Agency argued within its 2010 white paper that foreign crime infrastructure “cannot be grasped through statistics” (see “Police ‘foreign crime wave’ falsehoods fuel racism,” JBC, July 8, 2013). It’s enough to make the public paranoid.

And Ibaraki is a strange place for such militancy. It does not have a particularly high concentration of foreigners. Except for, of course, those behind bars at Ibaraki’s Ushiku Detention Center.

Japan’s infamous immigration detention centers, or “gaijin tanks,” are where foreign visa overstayers and asylum seekers are left to rot indefinitely in what Amnesty International in 2002 called “secret detention facilities.” Gaijin tanks don’t get the oversight governing Japan’s prisons because the former do not officially qualify as “prisons.” They’re pretty bad places to be.

And Ushiku’s gaijin tank is notoriously bad. It has made headlines over the past decade for drugging and subjecting detainees to conditions so horrendous that they have gone on hunger strikes, committed suicide or died having received improper medical care and under other mysterious circumstances.

Therein lies the point I keep banging on about in this column: What happens when racial discrimination is left unrestrained by laws? It just gets normalized and embedded.

Treating people badly without official checks and balances eventually makes abuse tolerated and ignored — like background radiation. And, fueled by the innate fear of The Outsider, the abuses just get worse and worse. Because they can.

In this case, the unfettered xenophobia radiating from the Ushiku Detention Center, Ibaraki’s fast-breeder reactor of foreigner dehumanization and abuse, has clearly corroded Ibaraki police’s judgment — to the point where they feel they can outright lie about the laws they are supposed to enforce, and have their propaganda irradiate hotels, street-corner busybodies and the general public.

It’s time for people to realize that Japanese police’s free rein to maintain our allegedly “safe society” has limits. For officially treating an entire people as potentially “unsafe” is dangerous in itself.

Ibaraki Prefecture thus offers a fascinating case study. Of what happens to a neighborhood when xenophobia goes beyond the occasional international summit or sports event, and becomes regularized into official extralegal standard operating procedure.

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

Debito’s latest project is the mockumentary film “Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin,” which is now being funded on Kickstarter. Twitter @arudoudebito. Send all your comments and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.

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

[*]  Correction:  According to Chinese media translated into Japanese, the abovementioned knife attack and murder of Chinese “Trainees” has resulted in the arrest of 5 Vietnamese nationals:

日本の中国人技能実習生、ベトナム人5人に包丁で襲われ1人死亡1人負傷=茨城県警察は殺人と殺人未遂容疑で逮捕―中国紙
http://www.recordchina.co.jp/a114724.html

2015年7月23日、人民日報(電子版)は日本の報道を引用し、中国人技能実習生を殺害したとして、茨城県警察が殺人と殺人未遂の容疑でベトナム人5人を逮捕したと伝えた。

警察によると、今年2月22日午後9時40分ごろ、当時農業技能実習生だった中国人の孫文君(スン・ウェンジュン)さん(33)は茨城県鉾田市の路上を同僚と歩いていた際、包丁を持ったベトナム人の男女5人に襲われた。

これにより孫さんは死亡し、もう1人の中国人技能実習生も負傷した。その後の調査で、ベトナム人男女らの中には元農業技能実習生もおり、警察は動機などについて調べを進めている。(翻訳・編集/内山)ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here we have another example of “Japan power elite” logic at work as the ruling party seeks to amend Japan’s Constitution away from values it considers “Western”.  Including the concept of human rights, which it has somehow decided to arbitrarily divide into “big” and “small”.  “Small” would be limited in times of emergency, but the problem is that there is no indication of what the LDP intends to classify as “small human rights” to be subordinated.  A good critical thinker at the Mainichi takes on and exposes the idiocracy at work here.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

自民党が考える「大きな人権」は分かったが、「小さな人権」は不明だ。

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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GOJ busybodies hard at work alienating: Shinjuku Foreign Residents Manual assumes NJ criminal tendencies; Kyoto public notices “cultivate foreign tourist manners”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Despite all the campaigns to increase foreign tourism and “prepare” Japanese society for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, sometimes Debito.org feels like suggesting people just avoid Japan’s sweaty-headed public-servant busybodies, who spend our tax monies to further alienate NJ residents and tourists from the rest of Japanese society. Check these out:

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March 17, 2016
From: “Concerned Long-Time NJ Resident”
Dear Dr. Arudou,

Here is the full “Shinjuku Foreign Residents” guide available online.

In English: http://www.seisyounen-chian.metro.tokyo.jp/about/pdf/poster-leafret/frm-english.pdf

In case it disappears: ShinjukuForeignResidentManual2016

In Japanese (which was not available at the kuyakusho office, only foreign language versions were there): http://www.seisyounen-chian.metro.tokyo.jp/about/pdf/poster-leafret/frm-japanese.pdf

In case it disappears:ShinjukuForeignResidentManualJ2016

Some screen captures follow.  Here is the cover and back cover:

ShinjukuForeignResidentManual20161

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Note how this is a guide designed to “avoid getting caught up in criminal activity” (yes, hanzai in the original Japanese).  Yet look at the first four pages within.  Find the crimes:

ShinjukuForeignResidents20162

Right.  That age-old canard about foreign residents being mentally incapable of throwing away their garbage correctly.  I can think of plenty of Japanese I’ve seen having the same trouble, only without being accused of “criminal” activity.  And it’s not a crime anyway.  Nor are these activities:

ShinjukuForeignResidents20163

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  I’m quite sure the police will respond.  But not because they received a complaint about the Japanese in my neighborhood I’ve experienced that hoard, are untidy, or are noisy at inopportune times.  Rather, police will respond because they got tipped off by some busybody claiming a foreigner was “suspicious” (grounds for arrest in Japan if you’re suspicious while foreign-looking), which is something this manual can’t caution against.

And how about this one:

ShinjukuForeignResidents20164

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Crikey.  This manual should be distributed to Japanese!  Flagrant rule-breakers on a regular basis there! But Japanese, not foreigners, aren’t assumed to be criminal, because Japan, runs the narrative, is a peaceful, safe, law-abiding society, whereas foreign countries, and their foreigners, by definition, are not, because we Japanese are different and unique and… oh, you get the idea.

Anyway, here’s what submitter “Concerned Long-Time NJ Resident” had to say about this manual:

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This guide still has me angry that this sort of view of “foreigners” is still persisting—maybe even growing—as the Olympics approach; worse, it is being promoted by a government agency. I have been stopped by the Japanese police many times (for no reason other than being “foreign-looking”) and treated like a criminal when I simply pass through the train station, and I’ve seen similar treatment at the station of other “foreigners.” So after those experiences, pamphlets like this that further the view of non-Japanese in Japan as criminal-prone imbeciles really rub me the wrong way. There are plenty of guides for residents of Japan that do NOT take this approach with non-Japanese residents when explaining laws and helpful services that have been translated to other languages.

I have already called and complained to the organization that put this guide out and the kuyakusho office as well. Thank you for giving a voice against such issues when so few in Japan even speak up for the rights of non-Japanese residents (and Japanese too) in Japan. It is greatly appreciated. As for credit, just leave out my name and say it was from “a concerned long-time non-Japanese resident” of Japan. I’m most concerned about the issue rather than any credit, plus I don’t need to be harassed by any rightwing nuts.

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Meanwhile, it’s not just Shinjuku.  The Yomiuri reports on NJ-targeting busybodies elsewhere:

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From:  JK
Date:  May 12, 2016
Hi Debito: This was a new one for me:

Picture signboards to cultivate manners of foreign tourists
The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 11, 2016
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002901542

TokyoMannersSign2016

A signboard set up until early April on a path along the Chidorigafuchi moat in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

With breaches of etiquette by foreign tourists becoming a problem in tourist spots nationwide, local communities are using signboards featuring illustrations, pictograms and manga to inform visitors of how best to behave.

These moves are aimed at helping foreign tourists understand Japanese etiquette and rules, in order to prevent such trouble, but some are concerned that the signs could spoil the scenery at tourist spots.

In three locations that are good for viewing cherry blossoms in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, including the Chidorigafuchi moat, signboards were set up this spring for the first time, urging visitors not to break cherry tree branches. Explanations were written in English, Chinese and Korean with a pictogram of a hand trying to hold a tree branch and a line through it.

According to the Chiyoda City Tourism Association, which set up the signboards, it had received complaints from a large number of nearby local residents and Japanese tourists that foreign tourists were breaking the branches of cherry trees. To inform them in an easy-to-understand way that this is a breach of local mores, the association decided to include the illustration on the warning signboards.

Some signboards explain etiquette using manga. Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, set them up in February in a parking area for large buses near the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine.

Sets of four-frame cartoons warn visitors not to enter the premises to take memorial photos and explain how to use Japanese-style toilets. About 2,000 tourists arrive daily at the parking area. Many of them are with group tours from Asian countries, Europe and the United States.

An official of the ward office expects the signboards to be effective, saying, “We hope visitors will understand the proper etiquette while they’re in the parking area and then go on to enjoy their visit.”

In 2015, the number of foreign tourists to Japan hit a record high of 19.73 million.
The Cabinet Office conducted a survey of 3,000 Japanese nationals nationwide in August last year about the situation involving foreign tourists.

With multiple answers allowed regarding things people are worried about as the number of foreign tourists increases, 26 percent of respondents cited growing trouble due to differences in etiquette, cultures and customs. This figure was the second highest after the 30 percent who mentioned security issues.

Match signs to surroundings

Signboards were set up to avoid such trouble, but the signs themselves have also caused concern.

Kyoto’s Gion district is lined by many ochaya tea houses and ryotei Japanese restaurants, and Gionmachi Minamigawa Chiku Kyogikai, an association of local residents in the southern part of the Gion district, set up wooden signboards about two meters tall at four locations there in December last year.

KyotoMannersSignboard2016

Pictograms and X marks are used instead of letters. They warn against six kinds of prohibited actions, including pulling on the kimono sleeves of maiko and leaning against or sitting on fences.

However, the district is designated by the Kyoto city government as a zone for the maintenance and improvement of historical scenic beauty.

A senior member of the local association said, “We didn’t want to set up the signboards because they impair the scenic beauty, but we could not overlook the breaches of etiquette.”

Seiko Ikeda, a specially assigned professor at St. Agnes’ University, who is studying relations between scenic beauty and signboards in tourist spots, said, “Although I understand the feelings of local residents, I feel uncomfortable about such signboards.”

She added: “Also, in the context of hospitality for foreign tourists, more comprehensive consideration is necessary. For example, such signboards should not bear pictures or designs with aggressive images, and they should harmonize with the surrounding scenery.”

Nobuko Akashi, president of the Japan Manner and Protocol Association, a nonprofit organization that recommends other measures than signboards, said, “Steady efforts are essential, such as thoroughly notifying visitors about etiquette and rules before they come to Japan via information websites for overseas.”

ENDS

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

SUBMITTER JK COMMENTS: All these foreigners keep causing meiwaku because they don’t have proper manners or etiquette,  so while we didn’t want to spoil the view, we couldn’t gaman anymore and put up signboards telling them what not to do. Perhaps if we nix the pictures and blend the signboards into the surrounding scenery, the view wouldn’t be so spoilt.

My problem with “helping foreign tourists understand Japanese etiquette and rules” is two-fold.

First, it knows no bounds (e.g. Don’t break the branches, and while you’re at it, don’t pull on the kimono sleeves of maiko or lean against or sit on fences).

Second, it’s decidedly one-sided mindset (e.g. Do the local residents understand why the cherry tree branches are being broken? Is it unintentional or unintentional? Do foreign tourists dislike cherry tree branches?).  Regards, JK

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

CONCLUDING WORD FROM DEBITO:  I understand full well the need for cautioning people when tourists, or anyone, are disrespectful towards local sights and environments.  But creating reactionary media that stigmatizes foreigners as if they are natural-born criminals or incorrigible rule-breakers (i.e., naturally unable to follow rules because they are foreigners) is equally disrespectful.  Care must be taken and tact used to avoid belittling guests, not to mention alienating NJ residents, and busybodies who get paranoid about any strangers darkening their doorsteps must not have free rein to overthink countermeasures (for it soon becomes an invitation to xenophobia).

How about the government or these self-appointed local “manner and protocol associations” quietly advising tour agencies to rein in their patrons, and make the rules clear, as Japanese tour agencies do for Japanese abroad?  It worked in the Otaru Onsens Case.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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“Japan’s Under-Researched Visible Minorities: Applying Critical Race Theory to Racialization Dynamics in a Non-White Society”. Journal article in Washington University Global Studies Law Review 14(4) 2015

mytest

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Debito’s latest publication is in in the Washington University Global Studies Law Review (Vol.14, No.4):

Japan’s Under-Researched Visible Minorities: Applying Critical Race Theory to Racialization Dynamics in a Non-White Society
Dr. Debito Arudou
Washington University Global Studies Law Review

Abstract
Critical Race Theory (CRT), an analytical framework grounded in American legal academia, uncovers power relationships between a racialized enfranchised majority and a disenfranchised minority. Although applied primarily to countries and societies with Caucasian majorities to analyze White Privilege this Article applies CRT to Japan, a non-White majority society. After discussing how scholarship on Japan has hitherto ignored a fundamental factor within racialization studies—the effects of skin color on the concept of “Japaneseness”—this Article examines an example of published research on the Post-WWII “konketsuji problem.” This research finds blind spots in the analysis, and re-examines it through CRT to uncover more nuanced power dynamics. This exercise attempts to illustrate the universality of nation-state racialization processes, and advocates the expansion of Whiteness Studies beyond Caucasian-majority societies into worldwide Colorism dynamics in general.

Recommended Citation
Dr. Debito Arudou, Japan’s Under-Researched Visible Minorities: Applying Critical Race Theory to Racialization Dynamics in a Non-White Society, 14 Wash. U. Global Stud. L. Rev. 695 (2015),
http://openscholarship.wustl.edu/law_globalstudies/vol14/iss4/13

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

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Nate Nossal essay on how free enterprise and small-business establishment in Japan is stifled

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
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Hi Blog.  As Debito.org is a forum for voices that might not otherwise be heard, let me turn the keyboard to Debito.org Reader Nate Nossal, who shares his experiences at being an entrepreneur in Japan.  As somebody who has also done the arduous task of founding his own company in Japan, I am simpatico.  Over to Nate.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

JAPAN: A COUNTRY LARGELY OPPOSED TO FREE ENTERPRISE
By Nate Dossal Ph.D., Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan
Exclusive to Debito.org, March 25, 2016

Japan is a country which is largely opposed to free enterprise. As one who has studied economics and subscribes to the notion that the ability for individuals to do business is integral to a society’s wealth and commerce, as well as that society’s ability to solve problems generally, I find this condition amusingly shortsighted. As one who is living in and attempting to do business in Japan I find this condition depressing. After all, what is it that individuals can do best as entrepreneurs? We stand to make money by solving problems for other people. I will discuss some extraordinary barriers to business created by just a few layers of legal or bureaucratic excess which discourage or disable free enterprise in two examples of personal experience. It is assumed that there is some reason that people have gone through such troubles to erect these legal barriers, and I can only speculate what some of those possible reasons might be. On the microeconomic level, the effects of the clearly anti-business atmosphere created by those specific barriers are devastating. Businesses which could and should be thriving, multiplying, growing, and revolving multiples of yen back out into the local economy are stopped dead. Theoretically, all money gets spent somewhere, but inevitably some of that money which would have been spent in the local Ishikawa ken economy (where these stories take place) gets saved, sent away, or spent elsewhere and the greater Ishikawa ken economy suffers for this.

Case 1: Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) Souvenir Goods classic failure of lost opportunities on several levels… This writer did soon after beginning his graduate studies in a national Japanese university discover that something was missing. Despite searching high and low throughout the dingy offices and one store on campus, there was a peculiar, complete absence of any commercially available souvenir goods from that university. Not a shirt, not a cap, a notebook or a pencil with “JAIST” written on it was for sale. It was especially noticeable just for one very personal reason: I wanted to be able to send my dad in the U.S. a t-shirt. I always sent him a t-shirt from the companies or the universities of which I became a member. Indeed, this may seem very peculiar to any person who may have ever worked in the marketing office of any-sized university. The sale of such school “pride” items can be profitable in itself, but at any rate is costless to the university, even after taking into account the price of design and production, maintaining stock and administration for the sale of goods. Even a small market makes up for all of this since the target market is highly invested in the product, the supplier is decidedly monopolistic by nature, and the turnover from new staff and students assures some consistent demand for the products. All of that is of course aside from the main point–schools need name recognition and the sale of pride products is a major source of free advertising in this aspect.

As a graduate student I mistakenly saw this as a great opportunity to accomplish three related good deeds, and get a JAIST golf shirt made for my dad too: I would design and have produced several items that would surely be of interest to students and staff of the university, market and sell them–which would satisfy that same demand which I myself sensed. With no commitment from or involvement of the university required at all, except for their permission to do so, I could single-handedly increase my university’s name recognition in the community, and presumably around the world to some small degree. Finally, I could make some small profit as a reward for my efforts, which I would surely need to help support my research and living expenses. This was to be a slam-dunk. A no-brainer. BANG! What a bonanza, I thought. I engaged the staff I knew in this conversation, and a meeting was arranged for me to discuss this radical new idea being offered to them free of charge. I spent a couple of days researching suppliers for this kind of goods, and had some mock-ups of the proposed goods made, which I included with a bi-lingual proposal for a license to use the university’s existing logo and images. Six men and women came to hear my awkwardly foreign Japanese presentation, but they were all visibly impressed. At the end I was told that although no firm decision could be made by such a group of self-described office functionaries, they assumed that the benefits I was offering, and the price I was asking (zero) would make it a good idea for the university. Mere days later, I received an email from one of the lowest level office workers that the vice president of the university said “no.” I would be better off focusing my energies on my research rather than trying to help them solve the problems of the university.

After also having noticed that no student council had existed, three years later, I established one with the political assistance of my professor. Among the many reasons for establishing a student council, one of them would be to re-assess this weird lack of JAIST shirts and coffee mugs. The road to market was a barrage of nay-naying from surprising sources: a very provincial type woman belonging to the management of the single university store deigned to meet with me to discuss the possible placement of our Student Council brand official JAIST Goods in the store. I was expecting some discussion of division of profits and liabilities, a contract, some discussion of their standard business practices and process, maybe the need for some assurances or money. The first thing this lady said to me though was, irrelevantly enough, that she didn’t think Japanese students would buy those goods. In fact they did buy, and large quantities of goods were requested. Orders from Japanese professors and administrators of 20 and 100 came. The university president (Japanese, of course) wanted a golf shirt, a cap and a mug. But none of this would be made available with any help or assistance from the university store, or the university itself whatsoever. In fact, the Council received a threatening email from someone in the “labor management section” about infringing on the JAIST copyright. That person had been alerted to our proposed activities by none other than the anti-business store manager! Is it possible? That people would be so steadfastly in opposition to me making a few hundred yen while serving their own needs? Anyway, we enlisted the student body in a competition to design our own logo, to avoid any trouble with the now rabidly anti-business office staff. Even still, we received truly unending innocuous-seeming requests for increasingly invasive information (including financial information of the proposed private business, the names, contact information and prices of my suppliers, and my own personal financial information) from the office of student affairs apparently aimed at infringing upon or discouraging our entrepreneurship. It seems the university office workers were quite keen on ensuring that no student ever makes any kind of profit from any kind of sales of any kind of product on any national university grounds…Like, it was more abhorrent to them than the thought of consuming cherry vodka fanny bangers at a faculty disciplinary hearing. In the end, even our advisor and protector, the Dean of the school was disparaged, and we were kindly requested NOT to attempt to address this problem of no-JAIST-goods for them anymore. It was a mixed success: We managed to design, produce, market and distribute exactly one cycle of a much desired product, and I broke even on the venture. It would be the last time ever for this want-to-be capitalist at that institution, however. That was fine, anyway I would graduate soon and had bigger ideas to entertain.

Case 2: A friend of mine, a German pilot and safety officer for EU pilots would fly into Komatsu International Airport a couple times of year and stay for two or four days while his plane was prepared to fly again. During those days, he complained, he would have nothing much to do except hang around his hotel room, roam the streets in search of any intelligible (English) communication and inevitably drink copious quantities of hotel bar alcohol. What he and his company needed was some local person who could provide the kind of guidance I could give, and take the pilots to the beach or the mountains, maybe offer a bicycle rental. In fact though, it wasn’t just the pilots flying in and out of Komatsu. Since Kanazawa opened up its first Shinkansen train line last year, literally thousands of foreign, mostly non-Japanese speaking, illiterate and largely lost and out-of-place tourists have been wandering through the well-preserved feudal-era narrow streets of this place. I know this is true because I routinely hear the laments of my Kanazawa Hotel and Inn Association English students–they are so busy now; their rooms are always full; they need more staff; they need to hurry up and try to learn more English to cope with the many language problems that have resulted. The real test though is the Starbucks test. Not the economic barometer of disposable income, but this: ten years ago, it was often possible, but not at all guaranteed to encounter even one other foreigner at Starbucks. This year, Kanazawa Station Starbucks and M-za Starbucks are packed almost exclusively with foreign clientele of European descent. I am sure that none of these people live here, either. They’re all carrying cameras and backpacks, and most are of retirement age. These people desperately need no-nonsense, English speaking tour guides, and I am willing to bet that many of them would be happy to pay money for that privilege.

Over the last several months, I carefully developed a website to address this need and to help to those tourists who may want a little more help to navigate this unforgivingly non-English speaking corner of the north. They could also use my help parting with some of their much-needed money while they are temporary participants in this local economy. To do that, I need only impart a sliver of the bounty of knowledge of this place which I have amassed in 13 years of research, learning and teaching. They also need transportation, some equipment in case of going kayaking, skiing, or mountain climbing, for example, and of course oodles of accident and life insurance. I expected that much. What I didn’t expect was this: about the time I was really feeling ready, in fact overdue to launch that exact business, I was sternly warned by my wife who informed me of recent news reports of Chinese nationals in the Tokyo area who were arrested for operating a similar-type business without a license. While living in a country where I am aware that a license for serving tea exists, it quite honestly never for a moment occurred to me (or maybe to those Chinese business operators) that I could need a license to show people around my hometown. After being juggled around on the phone between several Japan legalese-only speaking tourism offices, I dutifully arranged an in-person meeting with my prefectural travel and tourism bureau.

I was welcomed by the panel of three officers–two from tourism and one from legal. The three were not personally difficult or offensive in any way. They even apologized for the fact that none of the the three of them, and no one in the national tourism offices ANTA and JATA could speak English. Pretty soon though, the air sucking through teeth began. “Mmmm, muzukashii…” That is the beginning of almost every un-scripted conversation foreigners have with Japanese standing behind a service counter. It is the calm but firm discouragement I suffer at every mention of trying to improve my station, assume a level-appropriate role in almost anything, or help to fix even the most obvious of problems. “It would be easier if you had a Japanese partner,” one said bluntly. I told him that while I appreciated his suggestion, I came to get the information on doing it myself, or with my wife. “Umm…” he stammered until the lawyer could help out “Well your wife has a job,” the lawyer said, “so it would be against her working conditions to engage in any outside business activity.” Which although it is true enough, if completely aside from the point. Let me tell this to you straight: after 13 years of working in Japanese schools and companies, there is no possibility of me having an equal partner. No matter what I do or how good I may be, I will always be held in lower regard than, and held back by my Japanese counterpart. They nodded in apparent understanding without need for example, and bit by bit laid out the separate processes as best as they themselves understood them. If I could do it, they said, I would be a pioneer.

The news they had for me was not good: I need not merely to prove my financial worthiness to the state and present insurance certificates. I need to pass a national test for a travel agency. It’s only offered in Japanese of course, and full of Japanese legal jargon. Maybe I can get some help for this, but the test is offered only once per year! Once. That’s pretty bad. On top of that, if I am actually thinking of transporting people in my car (um, I thought that was what cars were FOR) then I can’t do that with just a regular passenger car license. I need a taxi driver’s license, which the tourism agency told me would be practically impossible for (a foreigner) to accomplish. “Oh, so all of those hotel van drivers have taxi licenses?” I asked. The panel of three gave each other those uncomfortable Japanese glances and the lawyer said no, that was different. Be that as it may, I thought how this touches directly on another issue, Japan’s reinterpretation of the Geneva Convention covering international driving privileges. I had a commercial 10 ton license with air brakes certification, and the chauffeur and taxi license when I came here, but I just didn’t have the extraordinary resources of time required for transferring all those licenses and testing and re-testing individually for each one of them after all I went through just to get my regular car and motorcycle licenses back. OK, so in order to take foreign people to the beach and get paid for it, I need a travel agent’s license and a taxi driver’s license, and I need to register my business (no kidding, a 14 part process) which includes depositing no less than 100,000 yen (about $9,000) cash with the Japanese government, presumably interest free, or maybe with negative interest. I also need to show and maintain a similar balance in my company account. No doubt, this is an extraordinary, if not cock-blockingly prohibitive set of artificial barriers to free enterprise. Some of this is understandable, as I said. Companies need insurance. If I were in a position to do harm to the environment or local population, some financial assurances (though probably not a “deposit” like as with some shyster landlord) would be expected. On top of all this, though, and I really don’t think I could ever invest 200,000 yen in licensure before ever even getting a company started to be honest, but on top of all this, at the end of my meeting in the Ishikawa ken cho I was asked in all seriousness where my office would be located. This is significant, the lawyer said, because for the lowest level of licensure (the 200,000 yen one) I could only do business within one municipality’s distance from my home office. After going the processes outlined already, and they are extreme, I would get a license that wouldn’t even include Kanazawa. The license for the type of small business I envisioned requires an 18 million yen commitment.

I go deadpan. I search in vain for the hidden cameras, wait hopelessly for the comedian in the yellow suit and giant bow tie to jump out laughing. This is real though. This is the anti-business environment they have created. It kills any small businesses before they could ever get started, and for what? What does all this process and licensure get for Japan? A few badly-needed interest-free loans? Probably that is an emergency of their own making. Is it enough to make up for the multiplied effects of dampening the business spirit? John Maynard Keynes wouldn’t say so. Does it prevent ill-intentioned or unqualified players from entering the market? Surely it must, since this condition would seem to prevent MOST players, qualified or not from entering the economy. With my PhD, my Global Human Resources doctoral certificate, and my advanced Japanese credential from a national university, as well as years of volunteer and professional service in the field which I would like to work independently, probably no one would say I am at all unqualified to take foreigners on local side trips, even for money.

I am not saying I was singled-out or unfairly discriminated against for being a foreigner necessarily. While this is a positively horrible set of conditions, and terrible treatment of a prospective entrepreneur who should be met with open arms, Japanese law and government treats its own citizens just as badly. The outright hostility of the Japanese government towards small businesses like these assure larger market share to larger entities–or else they just assure that some markets will simply never be, for lack of active, qualified and viable suppliers. The people at my former university will continue to want, and not get university logo-emblazoned items to send back home. The local citizens will continue not knowing what JAIST is, or even that it exists at all–possibly the most hilarious marketing failure in the country. And foreign tourists will sip a few coffees and walk themselves around downtown for a day or two and go on to Kyoto or home. Many of them will say how wonderful and enigmatic that dusty old Kanazawa town was, but it might be better. If they could have had a locally-educated English speaking guide to show them the most beautiful and meaningful places in the Ishikawa countryside, I would at a minimum explain the history of the Farmers’ Rebellion, the importance of the Shirayama Hime Jinja, Bassho’s passage, or the City of Temples. They also would be sure to spend more money while they were here, and that money could support not only me and my family, but the people I would have employed in the company that I fear now will never be.

-Nate Nossal Ph.D., Ishikawa Prefecture

ENDS

Stigmatization thru “foreign driver stickers”: First Okinawa, now Hokkaido (Mainichi Shinbun)

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Check this out:
Hokkaido creates car stickers for foreign rent-a-car drivers
April 16, 2016 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160416/p2a/00m/0na/005000c

HokkaidoForeignDriverSticker2016
A sticker for foreign people using rent-a-cars, created by the Hokkaido Prefectural Government. (Mainichi)

The Hokkaido Prefectural Government has prepared 2,500 stickers for use by foreigners driving rent-a-cars, in order to identify them to other drivers and prepare against on-the-road trouble.

The stickers, which read “A person from a foreign country is driving,” were distributed to rent-a-car companies in Hokkaido. In fiscal 2014, around 24,000 rent-a-cars were used by foreign tourists, around 14,000 more than in fiscal 2012. Accidents and driver arguments are expected, so the stickers were created to warn other drivers, similar to stickers for new drivers.

The magnetic stickers are 14.5 centimeters square and carry Hokkaido’s tourism character “Kyun-chan,” a Japanese pika. A prefectural government official says, “When people see (a car with the sticker), we want them to act kindly.”
ENDS

Japanese version
外国人観光客
レンタカー利用でステッカー 北海道
毎日新聞2016年4月7日 20時01分(最終更新 4月7日 22時35分)
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20160408/k00/00m/040/051000c

外国人運転の車に配慮してもらおうと、北海道は、「外国の方が運転しています」とメッセージを記載したマグネット式ステッカー2500枚を作製し、道内レンタカー会社に配布した。

外国人観光客のレンタカー利用は2014年度で約2万4000台に上り、12年度より約1万4000台増。事故やトラブルも予想され、初心運転者向けの「若葉マーク」のようにアピールすることにした。

ステッカーは14.5センチ四方で、北海道観光のPRキャラクター「キュンちゃん」(エゾナキウサギ)のイラスト入り。担当者は「うさぎを見たら、温かく見守ってほしい」。【一條優太】
ENDS

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

SUBMITTER JK COMMENTS:  Hi Debito.  “Friendly Driving”…um…right…more like 注意:外人の運転手だよ!

I wonder how MOFA would react if, oh I dunno, rent-a-car companies in Hawaii started issuing stickers for Japanese drivers stating “A person from Japan is driving”, in order to “identify them to other drivers and prepare against on-the-road trouble” because after all, “accidents and driver arguments are expected”.

DEBITO COMMENTS:  It would seem that the Japanese reflex of pointing out differences over similarities (a byproduct of the quest to keep Japan “unique” in the world narrative) has created perennial blind spots towards the effects of “stigmatization”.  That is to say, if you keep pointing out how different a group of people is (in this case, “foreign drivers”, even if you say you are doing it “out of kindness”), it still differentiates and “others” people — with the inevitable subordinating presumption that foreign drivers are somehow more prone to accidents, need to be taken notice of, or treated with special care.  Why else would the public be notified (if not warned) that a foreign driver is present?

Shoe on the other foot:  How would people like it if females behind the wheel had to bear a “women driver” sticker?  What if the “foreign driver” (for example, somebody who has been driving in Japan not as a tourist for years, or on the British side of the road the same as Japan?) would rather opt out of all the special attention?  And what of the Japanese tourists from the metropolises who are “paper drivers” and probably have much less road experience than average compared to any motorized society in the world?  Let’s see how a “tourist driver” sticker (slapped on Japanese drivers too) would fare.

This sticker is, to put it bluntly in Japanese, 有り難迷惑 (arigata meiwaku), or “kindness” to the point of being a nuisance.   And it is not even the first “foreign driver” sticker Debito.org has heard of — last October we reported on similar stickers in Okinawa with the same purpose:

OkinawaGaikokujinDriverstickerOct2015

For more on Japan’s poor history of stigmatization of “foreigners” in the name of “kindness”, see Embedded Racism pp. 21-8, 94, and 281-282.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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embeddedracismcover
Hi Blog. I just received word from my publisher that “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books / Rowman & Littlefield 2016) will also be released as a paperback version in July/August 2016.

This is good news. Usually when an academic book comes out in hardcover, the paperback version is not released for a year or two in order not to affect sales of the hardcover. (The hardcover is, generally, intended for libraries and must-have buyers).

However, sales of the hardcover have been so strong that the publisher anticipates this book will continue to sell well in both versions.

So, just in time for Fall Semester 2016, “Embedded Racism” will be coming out over the summer for university classes, with an affordable price of $49.99 (a competitive price for a 378-page textbook, less than half the price of the hardcover).

Please consider getting the book for your class and/or adding the book to your library! Academics may inquire via https://rowman.com/Page/Professors about the availability of review copies and ebooks.

Full details of the book, including summary, Table of Contents, and reviews here.

Hardcover version: November 2015 (North America, Latin America, Australia, and Japan), January 2016 (UK, Europe, rest of Asia, South America, and Africa), 378 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4985-1390-6
eBook: 978-1-4985-1391-3
Subjects: Social Science / Discrimination & Race Relations, Social Science / Ethnic Studies / General, Social Science / Minority Studies, Social Science / Sociology / General

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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NHK: NJ arrested by Saitama Police for “not having passport”, despite being underage and, uh, not actually legally required to carry a passport

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Here’s a short interesting article, with translation immediately following:

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

埼玉県警が外国人少年誤認逮捕
NHK News 03月06日 12時10分
http://www.nhk.or.jp/shutoken-news/20160306/3459061.html Courtesy of CJ
5日、埼玉県川口市でパスポートなどを持っていなかったとして逮捕された外国人がその後の調べでパスポートなどを携帯する義務のない16歳未満だったことが分かり、警察は謝罪したうえで釈放しました。

警察によりますと5日午後、川口市内の電気店から「不審な外国人が来店した」という通報があり、駆けつけた警察官が近くの路上で外国人の男性を見つけました。
男性は東南アジア系の外国人で、警察はパスポートなどを持っていなかったことから出入国管理法違反の疑いでその場で逮捕しました。
しかし、その後の調べでパスポートなどを携帯する義務のない16歳未満だったことが分かり、警察は謝罪したうえで逮捕からおよそ6時間後に釈放しました。
警察によりますと、男性は当初から「16歳未満だ」と話していましたが、年齢を確認できるものを持っていなかったうえ16歳以上に見えたとして逮捕したということす。
埼玉県警察本部外事課の小川実次席は「関係者に深くおわびします。もっと慎重に確認すべきだった」と話しています。

Saitama Police mistakenly arrest foreign youth
NHK News, March 6, 2016 (Translation by Debito)

According to  police, on the afternoon of March 5, police were contacted that “a suspicious foreigner had come in” from an electronics shop in Kawaguchi City. Police arriving on the scene found a foreign male at a nearby street.

The male was a foreigner of Southeastern Asian descent. As he was not carrying his passport, police arrested him on the spot under suspicion of violating the Immigration Control Act.

However, after further investigation, police realized that as he was less than 16 years old and under no obligation to carry his passport, so they released him from arrest about six hours later after apologizing.

According to the police, the male said, “I’m less than 16 years old” from the start, but since he was holding no ID to confirm his age and looked older than 16, it resulted in his arrest.

The local officer in charge of foreign issues at the Saitama Police HQ, Ogawa Minoru, said, “The people involved deeply apologize. We should have confirmed things more prudently.”  ENDS

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

COMMENT: I’ll say. Yet another instance of police overstepping their authority, and arresting someone due to a panicky shopkeep siccing cops on a youth just because the latter looked “foreign”. Last time we had an arrest like this this wasn’t the case — the person even turned out to be Japanese, but it’s hard to believe that police would necessarily come running and arrest someone just because they were acting “suspiciously”. Because there are laws against that — you have to have adequate suspicion that crime has been committed, or is likely to be committed. It’s the “foreign” thing that became the grounds for arrest. Pity it took six hours out of this kid’s life in police custody (something you don’t want to happen to you — you essentially have few rights as a suspect in Japan).  Even though as a foreign resident in Japan (as opposed to a tourist), you still are not required to carry a PASSPORT.  So that’s the second unlawful misinterpretation of the law by Saitama’s finest.

The real thing that’s hard to swallow is that shopkeeps are panicky precisely BECAUSE the Japanese police are encouraging them to see foreigners as criminals and racially profile. So thanks for the apology, Saitama Police, but how about training your cops better, so Japan’s Visible Minorities (particularly impressionable kids) don’t become targets of arbitrary (and traumatizing) arrests? I shudder to think what this officially-alienated kid thinks about life in Japan now.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito.

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Once again hosting an international event brings out the worst excesses of Japan’s attitudes towards the outside world. Mutou Toshio, CEO of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and a former deputy governor of the Bank of Japan, talked to The Japan Times about Japan’s superiority to Rio 2016 in broad, arrogant strokes.

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

Some highlights:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  As PM Abe becomes further emboldened by a lack of organized political opposition, his administration is becoming more reactionary towards Japan’s Left.  According to the Japan Times, it will subject the Japan Communist Party to the Anti-Subversive Activities Law (Hakai Katsudou Boushi Hou), reserved for subversives who resort to violence.  Of course, the JCP is a legitimate party (in fact, Japan’s oldest political party) with a (declining) number of seats in the Diet, and it is allowed to agitate for reforms and even non-violent revolution, as it has for decades now.  But Abe seems bent on a return to Japan’s old form, when Leftists were incarcerated, tortured, and killed in custody in Wartime Showa Japan.

Looking forward to him similarly cracking down on Japan’s violent rightists as well, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.  I presume violent rightists wouldn’t be considered “revolutionaries” by the Abe Administration in the same sense — their form of revolution would take Japan back to a status quo of inter alia Emperor worship, unaccountable elite rule, and military adventurism.  To Abe’s clique that is also part of Japan’s history, even if that would “subvert” Japan’s current democratic institutions.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

=========================
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Economist: United Nations fails to stick up for the rights of Imperial female succession, drops issue as a “distraction” from report

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Off on a tangent this time, as Debito.org is not in the habit of talking about the Japanese Imperial System (unless it has an impact on how NJ are treated in Japan, such as here or here).  But this time, check this article out from The Economist.  I will tie it into Debito.org’s themes in commentary below.

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

Japan’s male-only emperor system
Imperial lather
The United Nations fails to stick up for the rights of empresses
Mar 19th 2016 | TOKYO | From the print edition, courtesy of the author
http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21695073-united-nations-fails-stick-up-rights-empresses-imperial-lather

THE progenitor of Japan’s imperial line, supposedly 2,600 years ago, was female: Amaterasu, goddess of the sun. But for most of the time since, all emperors have been male. This has exercised the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Recently it concluded that Japan should let women inherit the Chrysanthemum throne, too.

It is not clear what Emperor Akihito, who is 82 (and has a hugely popular wife), thinks about this. But the Japanese prime minister blew his top. Shinzo Abe leapt to the defence of a male-only line, saying it was rooted in Japanese history. The panel’s meddling, he said, was “totally inappropriate”. Cowed, it withdrew its recommendation that the law of succession be changed.

Polls suggest that most Japanese would welcome a female monarch. A decade ago a looming succession crisis triggered a robust discussion, led by Junichiro Koizumi, then prime minister and Mr Abe’s political mentor, on whether to allow a woman to ascend the throne. But the birth of Hisahito, a boy prince, ended the debate. A draft law was quietly shelved.

Mr Abe does not share Mr Koizumi’s iconoclasm. An arch-traditionalist, he wants the male-only system preserved to protect the imperial bloodline. But in other ways he has been an unlikely champion of diversity since he came to power (for the second time) in 2012. He has cajoled Japanese firms into promoting more women and urged them to make it easier for them to come back to work after having children.

There is a long way to go. Japan is bottom of the rich world in most rankings of sexual equality. For the past month Mr Abe has struggled with the political fallout from a much-read blog post by a working mother angry at a chronic shortage of day-care places. Still, Mr Abe’s efforts appear to be getting somewhere. From April big companies will have to declare their plans for promoting women. The hope is that this will shame firms that overlook female talent. As for the proportion of board members who are women, it has inched up by a percentage point in the past year—to 2.7%.

The UN committee notes this progress but laments foot-dragging on other issues. Japanese women are still meant to need spousal consent for abortions, it says, even in cases of rape. Divorced women must wait months before remarrying thanks to an archaic rule designed to remove uncertainty over the paternity of unborn children. For most Japanese women, the question of whether or not some future princess can become empress is hardly pressing. But Yoko Shida, a constitutional scholar, says it matters nonetheless. It is, she says, a symbol of discrimination.

ENDS
============================

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  What’s interesting here is not that Japan protested outside comment about their emperor system (that happens with some frequency), but that the United Nations took it seriously enough to drop the issue.  Pretty remarkable that the UN, which faces criticism for many of its human-rights stances, would be cowed by this. It only encourages Japan’s rabid right to become more reactionary in regards to international criticism — because oversight bodies will possibly retreat if the Abe Admin kicks up a fuss.

When I asked the author a bit more about the reasoning of the UN committee members, he said that nobody on the committee would discuss it with him.  He said he was told that it became a distraction from the report, so they dropped it. Supposedly they felt this was an issue for Japan, not the UN.

Wow, that’s awfully generous. I can imagine numerous countries making the same argument — this contentious point is merely a “distraction” so drop it. Once again, Japan gets geopolitically kid-gloved.  What’s next:  Japan protests UN criticism of its “Japanese Only” practices as “totally inappropriate”?  Actually, Japan essentially has (see also book “Embedded Racism” Ch. 8), but not to the point of the UN withdrawing its criticism.  Yet.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

===================================
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Roger Schreffler: Fukushima Official Disaster Report E/J translation differences: Blaming “Japanese culture” an “invention” of PR manager Kurokawa Kiyoshi, not in Japanese version (which references TEPCO’s corporate culture) (UPDATED)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Just before the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima Disasters, let’s revisit a topic Debito.org covered some years ago in this blog post:

Parliamentary Independent Investigation Commission Report on Fukushima Disaster “Made in Japan”: ironies of different Japanese and English versions (Debito.org, July 16, 2012).

Veteran journalist Roger Schreffler has contacted Debito.org to release the following information about the snow job that the person heading up the investigation, a Mr. Kurokawa Kiyoshi, carried out when this report was released in English blaming “Japanese culture” for the disasters (he also blamed foreign inspectors, believe it or not).  It’s a supreme example of successful Gaijin Handling, and most of the overseas media bought into it.  But not everyone, as Roger exposes below.  Read on.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

DISCLAIMER appended March 12, 2016 JST:  Debito.org has given this issue space because 1) one of our missions is to provide a voice to underrepresented views, 2) we have reported in the past that having two different versions of the Fukushima Report based on language was odd, and 3) Roger has made his claims under his name and is thus taking responsibility for the contents.  The reportage culture of the FCCJ is also coming under scrutiny in this post, and as a former member of the FCCJ myself I have been a target of bullying and censorship, so it is possible there may be a “there” there in this case.  That said, the views below are Roger’s, and not necessarily those of Debito.org as a whole.  Moreover, again, Roger has put his name to his views to take responsibility, and those who do not comment under their actual names will not have their comments approved IF they direct their criticisms at people by name.  Thus commenters’ names and their claims will be subject to the same level of scrutiny as the names they mention.  (That means in the comments section, “War Dog” has had his posts edited or deleted for engaging in personal attacks.)

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
March 8, 2016
Dear Debito,

I don’t think we’ve met, but I am aware of who you are because I authorized an invitation for you to speak at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan between 2000 and 2005.

I believe the following information may be of interest to you. The Fukushima commission never concluded that Japanese culture caused the Daiichi plant meltdown.

Kiyoshi Kurokawa worked with a PR consultant, Carlos Ghosn’s former speechwriter, and altered the preface to the overseas edition of the report.

More than 100 media organizations, mostly unwittingly, quoted Kurokawa’s introduction as if it were part of the official report. It was not, of course.

I pitched my article to the press club’s Board of Directors. No response. So now I’m doing it the old-fashioned way – contacting everyone who erroneously reported individually.

Kiyoshi Kurokawa will speak at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on Thursday, March 10, the day before the fifth anniversary of the 3/11 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear accident.

Kurokawa spoke at the club in July 2012 as chair of a parliamentary commission set up to investigate the causes of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. More than 150 foreign news organizations, government agencies and NGOs attributed blame to ‘Japanese culture’.

It was an invention.

Nowhere in the 641-page main report and 86-page executive summary can one find the widely quoted expressions “Made in Japan disaster” and “ingrained conventions of Japanese culture (including) reflexive obedience, groupism and insularity.”

In fact, all references to culture (文化) involve TEPCO – TEPCO’s corporate culture, TEPCO’s organizational culture, and TEPCO’s safety culture.

It turns out that Kurokawa retained a PR consultant to hype the report’s English edition for overseas distribution including to foreign media organizations such as AFP, BBC, CNN, Fox News and more than 100 others (see attached list).

I have reported this matter to the Board of Directors of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan because the consultant, a former speechwriter for Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, was working as publisher and editor of the club’s magazine at the time of the news conference; in fact, on the day of the news conference.

It may be true that Japanese culture is to blame for the Fukushima disaster. But it isn’t what the commission concluded and submitted formally (in Japanese) to the Diet on July 5, 2012.

Attached are records showing the commission’s hiring and financial relationship with the consultant (click on links to pdf files):
1. Attachments for report

2. Kurokawa statements in Fukushima commission report

3. media outlets fukushima

4. Attachment 1..

I have downplayed the FCCJ’s involvement because it is my hope that the club’s Board of Directors will address this matter in an open and transparent way. Unfortunately, the current BOD is under attack because they settled three litigations last December (two by staff and one by members) over the firing of 50 employees.

I proposed an article to the club’s magazine in August 2013 in which I summarized evidence that had been submitted to the courts. I was refused. But had the magazine published my article, there is a good chance that the lawsuits could have been settled then, saving the club nearly ¥25 million in legal fees. That’s nearly $200,000.

This time again, I have asked for space in the magazine. No response.

If you read the club’s notice, you won’t find a single reference to the fact that Kurokawa hired a club fiduciary to help alter an official, taxpayer-funded report. Or that there was controversy over the translation.

http://www.fccj.or.jp/events-calendar/press-events/icalrepeat.detail/2016/03/10/3955/-/press-conference-kiyoshi-kurokawa-author-of-capture-of-regulatory.html

Mure Dickie of the Financial Times is the only reporter who reported the translation discrepancies on the day of the FCCJ news conference: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/94fba34a-c8ee-11e1-a768-00144feabdc0.html

Dickie, of course, didn’t know that these weren’t ‘translation’ mistakes.

It is not uncommon for newsmakers to hire PR consultants to help with their messaging. What is uncommon – and almost without precedent – is for the consultant to be an editor of a publication that has an interest in the news event in question – and that publishes a report about that event.

As you are aware, Asahi Shimbun took a brutal beating for altering the testimony of the late Masao Yoshida, the Fukushima Daiichi plant manager.

How is this different?

Kurokawa signed off on the rewrite; it wasn’t a translation. But the commission didn’t approve. I contacted the commission two weeks after the news conference. They said: “Refer to the Japanese, the official.”

The club’s magazine was founded by two AP legends – Max Desfor (pictured on the lobby wall with his Pulitzer Prize winning Korean War photograph) and John Roderick (pictured with Mao Zedong).

I shudder to think of what they would say if they knew that the magazine was now in the hands of a PR specialist and a one-time tabloid magazine editor who, by extension, now decide what constitutes ‘news’.

For your reference: I am a 30-year veteran journalist, have never worked for a major news organization though did plenty of freelance work. I also served as FCCJ president (once), vice president (twice) and BOD director (twice). I chaired the club’s speaker program for five years and signed off on 800 press luncheons including the last sitting Japanese prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, on Sept. 14, 2001.

Sincerely, Roger Schreffler, Providence RI & Tokyo

ENDS

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

FCCJ Writeup on Kurokawa Kiyoshi Presser on March 10, 2016:

Thursday, March 10, 2016, 12:00 – 13:00

5th Anniversary Series for 3.11 Disaster 

FCCJKurokawaKiyoshi031016
Kiyoshi Kurokawa
Author of “Regulatory Capture”
Language: The speech and Q & A will be in English.

http://www.fccj.or.jp/events-calendar/press-events/icalrepeat.detail/2016/03/10/3955/-/press-conference-kiyoshi-kurokawa-author-of-capture-of-regulatory.html

 Five years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan is in the process of restarting more reactors and has made some progress in the cleanup and decommissioning of the wrecked plant. Meanwhile, there are still some 100,000 evacuees from around the Fukushima site.

 A new independent nuclear watchdog has also been set up along with new regulations prompted by Fukushima. But the Nuclear Regulatory Authority is under pressure from politicians and utilities to process restart applications more quickly and to be less strict on seismic issues and other matters. Equally important are the questions as to what lessons plant operators have learned from the unprecedented triple meltdown. Recent problems with restarts and disclosure by the utilities, among other issues, aren’t reassuring.

 At this critical juncture, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, the former chairman of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, will come to the Club to talk about his new book “Regulatory Capture,” and answer questions about what has happened since the Fukushima accident. In the introduction to his 2012 Diet report, Kurokawa was scathing in his criticism of regulators and utilities, saying, “It was a profoundly man‐made disaster – that could and should have been foreseen and prevented.”

 In his new book, in addition to describing the set up of the commission and its investigation of the Fukushima accident, he talks about Japan not learning the necessary lessons from it and applying them to prevent accidents in the future.”

 “If there are major accidents or problems in areas other than nuclear power, Japan will make the same mistakes again, become isolated and lose the trust of the international community. The Fukushima nuclear accident is not over yet. Japan must seize the opportunity to change itself, or else its future will be in danger,” he says.

 Dr. Kurokawa, MD and MACP, is an adjunct professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, chairman of the Health and Global Policy Institute, chairman of the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund and professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo.Please reserve in advance, 3211-3161 or on the website (still & TV cameras inclusive). Reservations and cancellations are not complete without confirmation.

Professional Activities Committee

ENDS

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

UPDATE MARCH 11, 2016 JST, FOLLOWING FCCJ PRESS CONFERENCE, FROM ROGER SCHREFFLER: 

Debito,

As a followup: The moderator asked Kurokawa [at the FCCJ on March 10, 2016) about the differences in the English and Japanese version of the report’s executive summary. Kurokawa admitted that the ‘content’ was different. What this means is that the content turned over to the Diet on July 5, 2012 (both houses) was different than what he reported to the nonJapanese-speaking world.

Listen for yourself to his answer [to a question from the AP, who moderated the meeting, available on the FCCJ website for members only.  Here’s an audio file of the question (an excerpt from minute 34 on the recording, for 3:26, in WMA format. Kurokawa press conference and .mp3 format:

where he now blames other factors on the outcome, such as a lack of time, him summarizing his own personal opinion for the report, and the lack of concision in the Japanese language.] 

Later on, Kurokawa equated his Japanese cultural references to Ruth Benedict, Samuel Huntington, Karel van Wolferen and John Dower.

Which leaves one unanswered question: Who wrote it?

The Associated Press followed up with a question about the translation team. Kurokawa mentioned an acquaintance of his, Sakon Uda, who was ‘managing director’ of the project and currently works for Keniichi Ohmae at Ohmae’s graduate school of business.

I don’t know if the AP will follow up. But the AP was one of only three media organizations, the other being the Financial Times and The New York Times, that pointed out discrepancies in the Japanese and English reports in summer 2012.

The rest – even those who attended Kurokawa’s July 6, 2012 news conference where he admitted to there being differences in the ‘translation’, but not ‘content’ – followed like a herd and didn’t report that there was a discrepancy between the ‘official’ and the one for ‘gaijin’.

Following is the translation of the official Japanese introduction. Kurokawa talks about ‘mindset’ (思いこみ and マインドセット) but not ‘culture’.

Best, Roger Schreffler

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

Preface of Kurokawa Kiyoshi’s Statements (from the full text)

THE FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI NUCLEAR POWER PLANT ACCIDENT IS NOT OVER.

This large-scale accident will forever remain part of the world’s history of nuclear power. The world was astounded at the fact that such an accident could occur in Japan, a scientifically and technologically advanced country. Caught in the focus of the world’s attention, the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) revealed, in their response to the disaster, some fundamental problems underlying Japanese society.

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was the third nuclear power plant to start commercial operation in Japan. Japan began to study the commercial use of nuclear power in the 1950s. Following the oil crisis of the 1970s, nuclear power generation became part of Japan’s national policy, unifying the political, bureaucratic, and business circles into one entity promoting its use.

Nuclear power is not only the most incredibly powerful energy ever acquired by the human race, but a colossally complicated system that requires extremely-high levels of expertise as well as operational and management competence. Advanced countries have learned lessons through experience and from many tragic events, including the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents. Authorities in charge of the world’s nuclear power have maintained a basic stance of protecting people and the environment from all sorts of accidents and disasters, while nuclear operators have evolved in sustaining and enhancing the safety of equipment and operations.

Japan has itself dealt with a number of nuclear power plant accidents, small and large. Most of these were responded to, but without sufficient transparency; sometimes they were concealed by the organizations concerned. The government, together with TEPCO, the largest of the country’s ten utilities, promoted nuclear power by advocating its use as a safe energy source, while maintaining that accidents could not occur in Japan.

Consequently, the Japanese nuclear power plants were to face the March 11 earthquake totally unprepared.

Why did this accident, which should have been foreseeable, actually occur? The answer to this question dates to the time of Japan’s high economic growth. As Japan pushed nuclear power generation as national policy with the political, bureaucratic, and business circles in perfect coordination, an intricate form of “Regulatory Capture” was created.

The factors that contributed to this include: the political dominance by a single party for nearly half a century; the distinct organizational structure of both the bureaucratic and business sectors, characterized by the hiring of new university graduates as a group; the seniority-based promotion system; the lifetime employment system; and the “mindset” of the Japanese people that took these for granted. As the economy developed, Japan’s “self- confidence” started to develop into “arrogance and conceit.”

The “single-track elites”—who make their way to the top of their organization according to the year of their entry into the company or the ministry—pursued the critical mission of abiding by precedent and defending the interests of their organization. They assigned a higher priority to this mission over that of protecting the lives of the people. Hence, while being aware of the global trends in safety control, Japan buried its head in the sand and put off implementing necessary safety measures.

We do not question the exceptional challenge entailed in the response to the vast scale of the disaster created by the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear accident on March 11, 2012. Furthermore, we understand that the accident occurred a mere eighteen months after the historical change in power, the birth of a new (non-Liberal Democratic Party) government for the first time in some fifty years.

Were the government, regulators and the operator prepared to respond to a severe nuclear accident? Did they truly understand the weight of responsibility they bore in their respective positions? And were they fully committed to fulfill those responsibilities? To the contrary, they showed questionable risk management capabilities by repeatedly saying that circumstances were “beyond assumptions” and “not confirmed yet.” This attitude actually exacerbated the damage that eventually impacted not only Japan, but the world at large. Undeniably, this accident was a “manmade disaster” that stemmed from the lack of a sense of responsibility in protecting the lives of the people and the society by present and past government administrations, regulators and TEPCO.

Nine months after this massive accident, the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission was established by a unanimous resolution of both the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors of the National Diet, which represent the people of Japan. It is the first investigation commission in Japan’s history of constitutional government, and is independent both from the government and from the operator, as set up under the National Diet of Japan.

To investigate what was at the center of this accident, we could not but touch upon the root of the problems of the former regulators and their relationship structure with the operators. The Commission chose three keywords as the bases of our investigative activities: the people, the future and the world. We defined our mission with phrases such as “conducting an investigation on the accident by the people for the people,” and “to submit recommendations for the future based on the lessons learned from the mistakes,” and “to investigate from the standpoint of Japan’s status as a member of international society (Japan’s responsibility to the world.)” This report is the fruit of six months of investigative activities carried through with a few constraints.

About a century ago, Kanichi Aasakawa, a great historian born and raised in Fukushima, blew the whistle in a book titled Nihon no kaki (“Crisis for Japan”). It was a wake-up call concerning the state model of Japan after the victory in the Japanese-Russo War. In his book, he accurately predicted the path that Japan, with its “inability to change,” would take after the war’s end.

How now will Japan deal with the aftermath of this catastrophe, which occurred as a result of Japan’s “inability to change”? And how will the country, in fact, change subsequently? The world is closely watching Japan, and we, the Japanese people, must not throw this experience away. It is an opportunity, in turn, to drastically reform the government that failed to protect the livelihood of its people, the nuclear organizations, the social structure, and the “mindset” of the Japanese—thereby regaining confidence in the country. We hope this report serves as the first step for all Japanese to evaluate and transform ourselves in terms of the state model that Japan should pursue.

Last but not least, I strongly hope from the bottom of my heart that the people of Fukushima—particularly the children upon whose shoulders rest the future of Japan—will be able to resume their lives of peace as soon as possible. I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to the people all over of the world who extended their warm assistance and encouragement in the wake of this devastating accident. My sincere thanks also go to the many people who kindly cooperated and supported our investigation, the members of the Diet who unswervingly strove to make this National Diet’s investigation commission a reality, and all the staff of the commission office for their many days and nights of work.

Kiyoshi Kurokawa
ENDS

Sankei column by Okabe Noburu suggesting Japanese language tests for foreign correspondent visas, to weed out their “anti-Japan” biases

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s an interesting column by one of our favorite newspapers, the Sankei Shinbun, famous for its anti-foreigner slants.  Their columnist, Okabe Noburu, Senior Reporter for Diplomatic Issues, links a lack of language ability in foreign reporters to their tendency to hold “anti-Japan” biases.  In a meandering column that brings in all sorts of anti-immigration slants itself, Okabe finally reaches the conclusion that maybe Japan might make language tests a condition for visas for foreign correspondents.  That way they’ll have a “correct” view of Japan.  Without any intended irony, it seems that Okabe, who seems to claim competency in English (enough to pick on ethnic accents in English), holds biased views himself despite.  Have a read.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Give Japanese language tests to foreign reporters with “anti-Japan” slants

Okabe Noburu, Sankei Shinbun, December 15, 2015, translation by Debito

It’s a scene I’ve seen before somewhere.  After one day being posted to London, I remembered New York City, where like a “salad bowl” with many colors of vegetables, a variety of races and ethnicities that do not mix (majiri awazu) dot the city.  

At this time 80% of London’s population is made up of people coming from overseas, and according to the national census, it seems that of the entire population only 44.9% are of white people born in England.  

After the war, because English people don’t like manual labor, they brought in immigrants from former colonies, such as Asia, Africa, and the West Indies, but recently there has been a huge influx of people from Eastern Europe and the Middle East, so British society’s multiculturalization and multiethnicification has been proceeding.  The immigrant problem is one of a history of empire.  The English spoken by this variety of races has several “country accents” mixed in, so it’s hard to understand.  Even English has been hybridized.

When I applied for my visa I had to take an English test.  As language ability had not been demanded of me as an exchange student in the 1990s or during my half-year posting in Russia in the 1990s, this struck me as odd.  However, after being dispatched, I came to the painful realization that understanding England meant first acquiring the language.

Before being posted, I was a member of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan.  I was pained to see foreign reporters who couldn’t function in Japanese broadcasting their “anti-Japan” slants to the world.  How about Japan making Japanese language ability a condition for foreign correspondents getting a visa?  It might lead to a correct understanding of Japan.

ENDS.  Original article follows:

偏向「反日」外国人記者に語学試験を
産経新聞 2015.12.15 07:28
http://www.sankei.com/column/news/151215/clm1512150004-n1.html

どこかで見た光景だ。1日にロンドンに赴任して思い出したのは、色々な野菜が入った「サラダボウル」のように、多彩な人種や民族が混じり合わずに点在する街ニューヨークだった。

現在ロンドンの人口の8割は海外から来た人で占められ、国勢調査では、英国生まれの白人は全人口の44・9%に過ぎないらしい。

戦後、英国人は肉体労働を嫌い、アジア、アフリカ、西インド諸島の旧植民地の移民を受け入れ、最近は中東や東欧から大量に流入し、英国社会は多民族、多文化が進んだ。移民問題は大英帝国の歴史そのものだ。多様な人種が話す英語もそれぞれの「お国なまり」が混じって聞き取りにくい。英語も多種多様なのだ。

赴任のビザ(査証)取得の際に英語の試験を課せられた。1990年代初めに留学した米国や90年代後半に駐在したロシアでは語学力を要求されなかったため異様に思えた。しかし赴任してみると、英国理解には、まず言語を習得すべきだと痛感した。

赴任前、入会していた日本外国特派員協会で、日本語ができない外国人記者たちが偏向した「反日」記事を世界に発信しているのを苦々しく感じた。日本も日本語能力を外国人特派員へのビザ発給の条件にしたらどうだろうか。正しい日本理解につながるかもしれない。(岡部伸)

Tangent: McNeill in No.1 Shimbun: “Into the Valley of the Trolls”: Is ignoring them really an effective strategy?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Excellent potential for discussion being broached with the following article, long overdue.  Excerpt and my comment follows.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Into the Valley of the Trolls
Is growing online harassment just part of the job or should it be confronted? And when does it cross the line?
by David McNeill
No. 1 Shimbun, Sunday, December 27, 2015
http://www.fccj.or.jp/number-1-shimbun/item/724-into-the-valley-of-the-trolls/724-into-the-valley-of-the-trolls.html

For most correspondents, it has become an unpleasant morning ritual: opening the laptop and wading through abusive tweets and mail. One of my recent articles, on Japan’s plunging press-freedom rankings provoked this response: “You’re anti-Japanese scum. Japan grows weaker because left-wing traitors here mix with the likes of you. Get out, moron.”

That’s mild compared to the slurs that percolate on the Twitter feeds of star reporters. Hiroko Tabuchi, former Tokyo correspondent for the New York Times, recalls a stream of invective laced with sexual and ethnic smears (see sidebar).Justin McCurry, Tokyo correspondent for the Guardian has been branded an “ultra-leftist North Korean spy” and repeatedly invited to “Fack off.”

Many reporters trudge the path taken by McCurry, from engagement to frustration, and resignation. “I have tried several different ways to deal with trolls, from snapping back to taking the time to dream up what, in my mind at least, is a rejoinder so withering that it will surely be the final word on the matter. It never is, of course.” Increasingly, he says, he reaches for the Twitter mute button: When trolls send an abusive message now “they are simply pissing into cyberspace.”

But McCurry says it’s important to understand the difference between legitimate criticism and trolling. “I’ve had my share of critical emails, tweets and Facebook postings,” he says. “When the point is made in a temperate manner and, more importantly, with a real name attached, I take in what has been said and, if necessary, respond. But I regard this as reader feedback, not trolling.”

Cyber abuse is a serious issue, notes a recent article in the Columbia Journalism Review. “There’s far from any kind of consensus on how to deal with it and what journalists’ roles are,” says author Lene Bech Sillesen. Law enforcement struggles to deal with the proliferation of anonymous online harassment. Platform providers often “suck” at dealing with trolls, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo memorably admitted this year.

Increasingly, the consensus seems to be shifting toward confrontation. The Review cites a growing genre of stories about unmasking trolls. In the Swedish TV show Troll Hunters, journalist Robert Aschberg tracks down and confronts offenders on camera. “It’s a huge problem,” says Aschberg, “and it’s no different from exposing, let’s say, corrupt politicians, or thieves.”

THE RISE OF THE troll, and the shifting terrain it represents in our networked society, is a particular dilemma for journalists. For decades, virtually the only rejoinder available to print readers was the carefully moderated letters page, but the internet has opened up multiple channels of feedback. Many bloggers view journalists as fair game because they are public figures.

Inevitably, the result is a steady river of bile, but most journalists are understandably wary of trying to block it. As Martin Fackler, a former Tokyo bureau chief of the New York Times notes: “You’re walking a fine line. Journalists dish out criticism, and need to take it with the same grace. Otherwise, we look hypocritical. And we need to support freedom of speech, even for our critics.”

In practice, most journalists follow Fackler in not feeding the trolls, and many don’t even block them to avoid the providing the veneer of cyber-street cred. Fackler, who says he has yet to block any troll accounts, advocates only shutting down those that cross boundaries of decency. “Short of that, I think everyone deserves the same freedom of speech that we demand in our own work.”

Where, however, do these boundaries lie? Perhaps the only line everyone agrees on is the one dividing incivility from threats of violence….

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

The rest is at http://www.fccj.or.jp/number-1-shimbun/item/724-into-the-valley-of-the-trolls/724-into-the-valley-of-the-trolls.html

I did leave a comment at the article:

=======================================
January 29, 2016
Thanks for the article. One thing I might add, as a longtime veteran of being targeted by trolls, is that it’s worse for some of us than you mentioned above. For example, I have numerous online stalkers, who dedicate many electrons on cyberspace (even devote whole websites and hijack Biographies of Living People on Wikipedia) not only to misrepresent my arguments, but also to track my personal life and advocate that I come to harm. I’ve endured death treats for decades, and I can’t conclude that merely ignoring trolls and hoping they’ll go away is an effective answer either. After all, as propaganda masters know, if enough people claim something is true, it becomes true, as long as through constant repetition they gain control over the narrative.

I for one never visit these stalker sites, but lots of people who should know better do look at them without sufficient critique, and (as you noted above) assume that my not commenting about their false allegations is some kind of admission in their favor. What the stalkers actually get out of all this wasted energy truly escapes me.

So after realizing that being ignored still works in their favor, now they are going after journalists, which brings into the debate issues of freedom of the press. Plus journalists have a more amplified public soapbox and credibility to advocate for change than we activist-types do. I hope you will continue to research and speak out against this, and not fall into the mindset that anonymous threats and stalking are simply part of being a public figure.

Thanks again for broaching the subject. Arudou Debito

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

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

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.  Here is an excellent bit of investigative journalism done by the Australians on an organization that the USG would do well to do their own research on (and the US media pay due attention to):  PM Abe’s Nippon Kaigi, which threatens to undo just about everything The American Occupation did to demilitarize Postwar Japan and defang its self-destructive ultranationalism.  Why hasn’t anyone else done a good in-depth report on them, even after this came out over a year ago?  Because it’s probably not something people want to believe–that the belligerent elements of Prewar Japan are not only ascendant, they are already well-organized within Japan’s highest echelons of government.  A transcript follows, but I strongly recommend people click on the link and watch the video at the ABC News Australia Lateline program to get the full effect.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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

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

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 02/12/2015

Reporter: Matthew Carney

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

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: It’s been described as one of the most influential political organisations in Japan. Nippon Kaigi, or Japan Conference, has an impressive list of members and advisors, including the Prime Minister and much of his cabinet. But very little is known about this right-wing nationalist lobby group which aims to reshape Japanese politics and policies and even change the Constitution. It operates mostly out of the public eye, but North Asia correspondent Matthew Carney gained rare access to file this exclusive story for Lateline.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

ALTs (“outsourced” English teachers) earning slave wages (or less) working for Japanese public schools (plus an aside on odd Japan Times editorial bias)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  This post deals with Government-sponsored slave wages (or worse) for NJ educators within the Japanese public school system through the cost-cutting “Assistant Language Teachers” (ALTs) “outsourcing” system–a backdoor way for local governments to get cheaper JETs than having to go through the national government’s JET Programme (where wages and work conditions are more fixed at a higher standard).  The cost-cutting for the ALTs has gotten to the point (inevitably) where the ALTs are no longer being paid a living wage.  Here’s the math, courtesy of the Fukuoka General Union:


Courtesy of Fukuoka General Union and Chris Flynn
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G95K0vjB3A
Caption: Uploaded on Feb 10, 2016
This is an actual example on how impossible it is to live on the salary of a dispatched ALT working at a Kitakyushu City Board of Education public school. Though they are full time teachers they only have 1000 yen a day to spend on food and nothing else. They just can’t survive on this low wage.
北九州市の市立中学校で働く派遣の語学指導助手の給料の実態。可処分収入は月3万円、­それはすべて食費に使うと1日1000円ぐらい。フルタイムの先生なのに貧困層。現実­です。

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

As further background to the ALT issue, here is a Japan Times Letter to the Editor by Chris Clancy:

Purging the nation of racism
The Japan Times JAN 30, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2016/01/30/reader-mail/purging-nation-racism/

Chulbom Lee, in his Letter to the Editor in the Jan. 17 issue titled “Move forward by protecting foreign residents,” reminds readers that not even two years ago the U.N. Committee of Racial Discrimination called on Japan to take action against incidents of racism that continue to plague the country. Lee insinuates that increased legal protection against harassment or job discrimination for Japan’s foreign residents would prove the nation is not still steeped in past militaristic nationalism.

One could make a case for the continuing plight of the assistant language teacher (ALT). Team teaching in which ALTs assist Japanese teachers of English (JTE) in classrooms for the betterment of students’ communicative abilities was introduced in Japan some 30 years ago. The progress that has been made over that time — however minimal — is a direct result of the individual efforts of countless foreign ALTs. How is this success rewarded? Those ALTs fortunate enough to be either participants of the Japan Exchange Programme (JET) or directly hired by educational offices earn similar standards of remuneration and remain employed under virtually the same limited term contract stipulations as their predecessors. Those staffed by outside agencies contracted by the education offices are even worse off. The government has in effect created a transient population of anonymous, expendable individuals that reeks of slavery.

The fact that ALTs are all non-Japanese makes the discriminatory practice racial. Any governmental administer who fails to take this matter seriously — ignoring the issue altogether or claiming budgetary constraints as a reason improvements cannot be made — is guilty of perpetuating racial discrimination. How is this crime punished? Bonuses twice a year and annual salary increases for perpetrators.

Time is past due for Japanese government at all levels to take a stand for tax-paying foreign nationals! We can only hope that such monkey business will not last too far into the new year.

CHRIS CLANCY
NAGANO
////////////////////////////////////////////////////

As an interesting aside, Chris Clancy kindly sent me the original letter he submitted to the editor.  Note what it originally sourced:

////////////////////////////////////////////////////
ORIGINAL TEXT FOLLOWS, COURTESY OF CHRIS CLANCY:

Arudou Debito gives a fair assessment of the good, the bad and impeded progress regarding human rights issues in Japan in his most recent “Just Be Cause” column (“Battles over history, the media and the message scar 2015,” January 3). One issue he could also have included is the continuing plight of the Assistant Language Teacher (ALT).

Team teaching in which ALTs assist Japanese teachers of English (JTE) in classrooms for the betterment of students’ communicative abilities was introduced in Japan some 30 years ago. The progress that has been made over that time — however minimal – is a direct result of the individual efforts of countless foreign ALTs. How is this success rewarded? Those ALTs fortunate enough to be either participants of the Japan Exchange Programme (JET) or directly hired by educational offices earn similar standards of remuneration and remain employed under virtually the same limited term contract stipulations as their predecessors. Those staffed by outside agencies contracted by the education offices are even worse off. The government has in effect created a transient population of anonymous, expendable individuals that reeks of slavery.

Arudou-san points out that Japan did sign the United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination in December 1995, but the fact that ALTs are all non-Japanese makes the discriminatory practice racial. Any governmental administer who fails to take this matter seriously – ignoring the issue altogether or claiming budgetary constraints as a reason improvements cannot be made – is guilty of perpetuating racial discrimination. How is this crime punished? Bonuses twice a year and annual salary increases for perpetrators.

We can only hope that such monkey business will not continue too far into the new year. Perhaps improved conditions for foreign educators will be one of the positive stories in Arudou-san’s top 10 for 2016.

Chris Clancy, MSEd (educator, USA)
////////////////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT:  Receiving no response, and wanting to make sure that this issue got the exposure it deserved, Chris submitted two more versions of this letter to the JT editors (I reproduce the one above with his permission).  Editors took the one that avoided sourcing my article.

So it’s interesting how certain elements within the Japan Times are that unfriendly. Not only do they sometimes not put up links to my columns on the Japan Times Facebook feed when they come out (is avoiding increasing their readership something they’re professionally entitled to do?), they’ve also refused to review my book “Embedded Racism“, claiming that they don’t review individual monographs anymore. Except when they’re 20-year-old monographs by Alex Kerr (last January). Or “Essential Reading for Japanophiles” [sic].  Odd bias, that. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

JT: Japan’s public baths hope foreign tourists and residents will keep taps running; oh, the irony!

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s another quick one that’s just dying for a shout-out specially on Debito.org for its delightful irony:

In yet another example of how Japan’s economy is not going to save itself unless it allows in and unlocks the potential of its foreign residents, here we have the flashpoint issue for “Japanese Only” signposted exclusionism: public baths (sento or onsen).  As per the Otaru Onsens Case (which has inspired two books), we had people who did not “look Japanese” (including native-born and naturalized Japanese citizens) being refused by xenophobic and racist bathhouse managers just because they could (there is no law against it in Japan).

Now, according to the Japan Times below (in a woefully under-researched article), the bathhouse industry is reporting that they are in serious financial trouble (examples of this were apparent long ago:  here’s one in Wakkanai, Hokkaido that refused “foreigners” until the day it went bankrupt).  And now they want to attract foreign tourists.  It’s a great metaphor for Japan’s lack of an immigration policy in general:  Take their money (as tourists or temporary laborers), but don’t change the rules so that they are protected against wanton discrimination from the locals.  It’s acceptance with a big, big asterisk.

Admittedly, this is another step in the right direction.  But it’s one that should have been done decades ago (when we suggested that bathhouse rules simply be explained with multilingual signs; duh).  But alas, there’s no outlawing the racists in Japan, so this is one consequence.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan’s public baths hope foreign tourists will help keep the taps running
BY SATOKO KAWASAKI, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
THE JAPAN TIMES, JANUARY 5, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/01/05/national/japans-public-baths-hope-foreign-tourists-will-help-keep-the-taps-running/

Japan’s public baths, known as sento, represent an institution with hundreds of years of history. They provided an important public service in the days before homes had their own hot-water bathtubs.

Sento can range in style from simple hot springs piped into a large tub to modern facilities resembling theme parks and offering a range of therapies.

In the Edo Period (1603-1868), sento were so popular that every town had on. They were important centers of the community.

Sento are on the decline both because homes now have fully fledged bathrooms and because retiring operators find it hard to find successors to take on their businesses. There are now around 630 establishments in Tokyo, down from 2,700 in 1968, a peak year for sento.

Faced with this trend, the Tokyo Sento Association is trying to tap demand from non-Japanese residents and tourists.

It has installed explanatory signs at each facility showing non-Japanese speakers how to use a sento in five languages. It also plans to create an app for people to search for sento in English.

ENDS

HJ on Mainichi article on “Preventing Illegal Hires of Foreigners”; what about campaigns to prevent illegal ABUSES of foreign workers?

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. Turning the keyboard over to Debito.org Reader HJ, who translates and comments:

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

Found this rubbish on Mainichi:

外国人不法就労
ビラで防止訴え 赤羽署など /東京
毎日新聞2015年12月8日 地方版
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20151208/ddl/k13/040/192000c

外国人の不法就労や不法滞在を防ごうと、赤羽署などは7日、JR赤羽駅(北区)周辺で、外国人の適正な雇用を求めるビラを飲食店経営者や地域住民らに配るキャンペーンを行った。

同署員のほか、都や東京入国管理局などの職員ら約20人が参加。都が作成した「外国人労働者雇用マニュアル」も配布し、不法就労を知りながら外国人を雇用した事業主への罰則規定があることなどを紹介した。

東京オリンピック・パラリンピックに向けて多数の外国人の来日が予想されており、同署は「今後も定期的に注意喚起していきたい」としている。【神保圭作】

〔都内版〕

Translation (my own):
===================================
ILLEGAL EMPLOYMENT OF FOREIGNERS
Demanding Prevention with Handbills
Mainichi Shinbun, December 8, 2015

Hoping to prevent illegal employment of foreigners and illegal foreign residency, on December 7th the Akabane police department held a flyer-distribution campaign around JR Akabane station, distributing handbills, which urge the proper hiring of foreigners, to restaurant owners and area residents.

Other than police officials, city officials and Tokyo immigration bureau officals also participated, for a total of about 20 participants. They also distributed a ‘Foreign Laborers’ Employment Manual,’ created by the city, and introduced the penal regulations for business owners who knowingly employed illegal foreign laborers.

A police official stated that in light of the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, more foreigners are expected to be visiting Japan, so ‘from here on out we want to regularly urge caution’ [in regards to illegal foreign residency/employment].
==================================

What I noticed particularly is the lack of any effort to cite any statistics that might justify this blatantly fear-mongering use of taxpayer money. No citation of illegal foreign employment statistics, or what harm such infractions might meaningfully bring on society, or really any attempt to establish any reason for this “campaign” at all. It’s as if there’s no need at all to demonstrate why this behavior is necessary or what occasioned it in the first place.

We want to urge caution about illegal employment practices…because why? They’re on the rise? They cost taxpayers lots of money last year? There’s a lack of procedural knowledge? Where’s the handbilling to remind employers not to abuse their foreign employees? Haven’t we already seen many instances where that factually does occur? Where’s the “regular cautioning” about that? The whole thing is just completely disgusting.

Moreover, why the need to distribute handbills related to employment law to area residents? How does that have any effect on them at all, over then to instill in them a sense of mistrust of non-Japanese residents, which itself has no basis in reality, and which furthermore has nothing to do with the average resident at all?

The more I’ve started reading Japanese newspapers, the more I’m starting to feel like all you have to do to find this sort of incendiary, blatantly racist behavior is due a keyword search for “外国人.” It’s like they’re just incapable of discussing foreigners without blatantly exposing their ignorant prejudice.  HJ