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  • Archive for the 'Good News' Category

    We hear enough bad news on this blog. Now cheer up–it’s not all bad. Let’s recognize the good too.

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 21st July 2014

    JIJI: Japan came under pressure at a U.N. meeting Tuesday to do more to help stop hate speech that promotes discrimination by race or nationality. “According to information we received, there have been more than 360 cases of racist demonstrations and speeches in 2013, mainly in Korean neighborhoods in Tokyo,” Yuval Shany from Israel, one of the experts at the U.N. Human Rights Committee, said at the meeting in Geneva. Shany asked Japan whether it is considering adopting legislation to address hate and racist speech. Existing laws in Japan do not allow police to intervene to stop hate speech demonstrations, Shany said at the meeting held to review the civil and political rights situation in Japan. “It seems almost nothing has been done by the government to react to Japanese-only signs which have been posted in a number of places,” Shany said.

    Kyodo: The Osaka High Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that branded as “discriminatory” demonstrations staged near a pro-Pyongyang Korean school by anti-Korean activists who used hate-speech slogans. A three-judge high court panel turned down an appeal by the Zaitokukai group against the Kyoto District Court decision ordering that it pay about ¥12 million in damages to the school operator, Kyoto Chosen Gakuen. The order also banned the group from staging demonstrations near the school in Minami Ward, Kyoto.

    Johnston: The good news is that, finally, more and more people in Osaka and the Kansai region are fighting back against the haters. Counter-demonstrations against Zaitokukai in particular are increasing. At the same time, there is a feeling among many here that, as Osaka and Korea have a deep ties, things will work themselves out. But that’s the problem. What’s needed now is not “historical perspective,” “understanding” or “respect,” but legislation ensuring protection and punishment. This is precisely because perspective, understanding and respect alone will not stop hate speech — especially that directed at new groups or those who have not traditionally been as ostracized as ethnic minorities.

    AFP: A far-right Polish MEP outraged lawmakers gathered in the European Parliament on Wednesday by comparing the continent’s unemployed youth to “niggers” in the U.S. South. [...] Comparing job-seeking youth to black laborers in the American South during the 1960s, Korwin-Mikke said: “Four millions humans lost jobs. Well, it was four million niggers. But now we have 20 millions Europeans who are the Negroes of Europe.

    Grauniad: A former local election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) in France has been sentenced to nine months in prison for comparing the country’s justice minister, who is black, to an ape. [...] On Tuesday, a court in Cayenne, French Guiana’s capital, sentenced her to nine months in jail, banned her from standing for election for five years, and imposed a €50,000 (£39,500) fine. French Guiana is an overseas département of France and is inside the European Union. It also handed the FN a €30,000 fine, putting an end to a case brought by French Guiana’s Walwari political party, founded by Taubira.

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

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Lawsuits, United Nations | 5 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 16th June 2014

    While we’re on the subject of sports, here’s something that I found very positive: A Japanese baseball player for the Toronto Blue Jays named Kawasaki Munenori doing his darnedest to meet the domestic press (video here): I have written in the past about how certain other Japanese athletes overseas do it differently. In fact, my very first newspaper column (in the Asahi Evening News — remember when it was titled that?) way back in 1997 was a grumble (what else? I’m Debito) on how J-baseball pioneer Nomo Hideo (remember him?) was skiving in terms of trying to connect with his adoptive community (article here).

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

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

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

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

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Media, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., Sport | 25 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 2nd June 2014

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

    ASAHI: J.League’s players and team officials will be forced to take mandatory anti-discrimination classes as fallout from a fan’s banner that said “Japanese Only” and was not removed from a stadium during a league game in March. Officials with the Justice Ministry’s legal affairs bureaus and local volunteer human rights advocates commissioned by the agency, in agreement with the league, will visit all 51 teams in the J1, J2 and J3 divisions from June onward to give the classes. [...] The class instructors will expound on what acts constitute discrimination and use specific incidents, such as when a foreigner was denied admission to a “sento” (public bath), to demonstrate discriminatory acts. They will also discuss ways to improve interactions with foreigners, sources said.”

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

    Now witness this:
    KYODO: J3 player handed three-game ban for racist comments…

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Education, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, History, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Sport | 2 Comments »

    Saitama’s Konsho Gakuen school, “Japanese Only” since 1976, repeals rule only after media pressure, despite prefecture knowing about it since 2012

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 23rd May 2014

    Significant news: In addition to the bars, bathhouses, internet cafes, stores, restaurants, apartment rental agencies, schools, and even hospitals, etc. that have “Japanese Only” policies in Japan, the media has now publicized a longstanding case of a tertiary education institution doing the same. A place called Konsho Gakuen in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, offering instruction in cooking, nutrition, and confections, has since it opened in 1976 never accepted NJ into their student body. This exclusion was even written in their recruitment material as a “policy” (houshin): (scan)

    People knew about this. A Peruvian student denied entry complained to the authorities in 2012. But after some perfunctory scolding from Saitama Prefecture, everyone realized that nothing could be done about it. Racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan. Nobody could be penalized, and it was unclear if anyone could lose a license as an educational institution.

    So finally it hits the media. And after some defiance by the school (claiming to NHK below that they don’t want to be responsible for NJ getting jobs in Japan; how conscientious), they caved in after about a week and said that the policy would be reversed (suck on the excuses they offered the media for why they had been doing it up to now — including the standard, “we didn’t know it was wrong” and “it’s no big deal”).

    Debito.org would normally cheer for this. But the school is just taking their sign down. Whether they will actually ALLOW foreigners to join their student body is something that remains to be seen (and the J-media is remarkably untenacious when it comes to following up on stories of racial discrimination). When we see enrollments that are beyond token acceptances (or happen at all, actually) over the course of a few years, then we’ll cheer.

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Education, Exclusionism, Food, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 32 Comments »

    Counterdemos against racist rally by Zaitokukai in Osaka Nanba May 11, 2014: Brief on emerging narratives fighting fire with fire

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 19th May 2014

    For a change (compared to these videos for example here, here, and here), have a look at Japan’s xenophobic public rallies from the perspective of anti-racism protesters. This is from May 11, 2014, a counter-rally against Zaitokukai in Osaka Nanba, drowning out Zaitokukai spokesman Sakurai Makoto. Good stuff: (video)

    A couple of things I’ve noticed within the emerging narratives of Japan’s xenophobic demos:

    1) The use of the word “reishisuto” (racist) both in Japanese and English, and the pat use of “sabetsu”, to get their point across. This way the narrative doesn’t split between the Newcomers and the Oldcomers, as discrimination towards these two groups is very different. But counter-demonstrator DO bear signs that say “jinshu sabetsu”, or racial discrimination. Good. Looks like the Urawa Reds fans’ “Japanese Only” banner last March finally cracked that rhetorical nut.

    2) The use of the word “shame” (haji) once again to express displeasure, but no signs saying how NJ are residents too and such deserve rights. As I’ve argued before, until we make that connection, there’s still a layer of “othering” going on here.

    3) The use of the same rough language and simple drowning out of xenophobic messages through noise and chant. Fighting fire with fire.

    4) The popularization of the “f*ck you finger” (aka “The Bird”, not in common use in Japan in my experience until now).

    Other videos of demos and counter demos are welcome in the Comments Section. No doubt there will be more. I’m just glad that people are finally and firmly speaking out against these issues.

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, 日本語 | 12 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 2nd May 2014

    Big news this week I hadn’t gotten around to blogging was Monday’s front-page story in the Asahi Shinbun, about Japan’s “Japanese Only” signs, with a sizable chunk of the article devoted to the research that Debito.org has done on them.

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

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

    ASAHI: A “Japanese Only” banner at a professional soccer game made international headlines and led to unprecedented penalties. But such signs are not new in Japan, and some have even appeared at tourist hotspots. It is true that some signs like these have been put up by people who genuinely dislike citizens of other countries. But many others say they had no intention to be discriminatory, and that their “Japanese Only” displays stem from the language barrier and problems with foreign customers unaware of Japanese rules and customs. Two apparent reasons why these signs keep showing up is a general sense of apathy among the public and a lack of understanding at how offensive the words can be for foreigners in Japan…

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

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

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

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Good News, Human Rights, Sport, 日本語 | 9 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 21st March 2014

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

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

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

    Posted in Good News, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits | 8 Comments »

    Briefly interviewed by BBC Radio program “BBC Trending”: “Scrubbing anti-foreigner scribbling from Tokyo’s Streets”, March 16, 2014

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 18th March 2014

    Unrelated to the big flap last weekend about the Urawa Reds “Japanese Only” Saitama Stadium Banner issue, I was interviewed by the BBC regarding anti-NJ messages, and the public backlash against the xenophobes. Since I’m not an expert on Zainichi issues, I gave a bit more background on how Visible Minorities are treated in the following segment:

    BBC World Service
    BBC Trending, March 16, 2014
    “Scrubbing anti-foreigner scribbling from Tokyo’s streets”
    Segment duration: 9 minutes
    My bit comes in between 14:45 and 15:53, but please listen to the whole segment; it’s a decent article.

    I’m very happy that people are charting racist graffiti using Google Maps. Kinda like what Debito.org has done for more than a decade with its Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments, complete with map to substantiate visually how widespread the issue has become. Bravo. Make a record, and make it permanent, because the only way we’re going to show that a problem exists (and is getting worse) is by not letting racists become historical deniers.

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Media | 11 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 14th March 2014

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

    Let’s sew this issue up: What happened this week is probably the most dramatic and progressive thing to happen to NJ in Japan, particularly its Visible Minorities, since the Otaru Onsens Case came down with its District Court Decision in November 2002.

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

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

    But in the Urawa “Japanese Only” Soccer Stadium Banner Case, the word jinshu sabetsu reappeared in the terms of debate, and we may in fact have witnessed a watershed moment in Japan’s race relations history. Yet it wouldn’t have happened without the issue leaking outside of Japan, incurring gaiatsu (outside pressure), and a real threat to Japan’s worldwide reputation as a “civilized” society. A full explication follows:

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, History, Human Rights, Media, NJ legacies, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Racist Images in Media, SITYS, Sport, 日本語 | 18 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 11th March 2014

    J.LEAGUE AND MEDIA MUST SHOW RED CARD TO RACISM
    JBC Column 73 for the Japan Times Community Page
    To be published March 13, 2014
    By ARUDOU Debito, Version with links to sources

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

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

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

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Racist Images in Media, Sport | 25 Comments »

    Papa John’s Pizza NY racism case 2012: “Lady chinky eyes” receipt gets employee fired

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 16th February 2014

    Going into my Drafts folder once more, I uncovered this little gem of “Pinprick Protest” from more than two years ago — the Papa John’s “lady chinky eyes case” where an individual took action against another individual (representing a corporation) for a racial slur at a pizza chain, and through the pressure of public outrage and social opprobrium made somebody take responsibility. As in getting that idiot fired for making the slur.

    Not sure this would happen as successfully (or at all) in Japan — where the tendency would be to dismiss this as some kind of cultural/linguistic misunderstanding (or else — shake your head — claim that this differentiation was meant in a positive light; hey, we like chinky lady eyes/big gaijin noses etc., and there was no intention to discriminate).

    The best example I can think of right now where social opprobrium worked was in the Otaru Onsens Case, where media pressure got two racist bathhouses to remove their signs. Eventually. The third bathhouse, of course, left their signs up. And it took a court case to get theirs down. And there are lots more exclusionary signs and rules around Japan, so social opprobrium clearly isn’t enough.

    Anyway, here’s the story. I cite this as a template for nipping discriminatory speech in the bud.

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Food, Good News, Human Rights, Media, Racist Images in Media, Tangents | 4 Comments »

    My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 72: “Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad”, Jan 25, 2014, “Director’s Cut”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 24th January 2014

    Only a few days into the case of racialized advertisement from ANA, I got tapped by the Japan Times to cover it. Debito.org Readers and Facebook Friends certainly gave me plenty of food for thought, so thank you all very much. Here’s my more polished opinion on it, which stayed the number one article on the JT Online for two full days! What follows is the “Director’s Cut” with excised paragraphs and links to sources. Conclusion:

    Look, Japan, if you want to host international events (such as an Olympics), or to have increased contact with the outside world, you’ll face increased international scrutiny of your attitudes under global standards. For one of Japan’s most international companies to reaffirm a narrative that Japanese must change their race to become more “global” is a horrible misstep. ANA showed a distinct disregard for their Non-Japanese customers—those who are “Western,” yes, but especially those who are “Asian.”

    Only when Japan’s business leaders (and feudalistic advertisers) see NJ as a credible customer base they could lose due to inconsiderate behavior, there will be no change in marketing strategies. NJ should vote with their feet and not encourage this with passive silence, or by double-guessing the true intentions behind racially-grounded messages. This is a prime opportunity. Don’t let ANA off the hook on this. Otherwise the narrative of foreigner = “big-nosed blonde that can be made fun of” without turnabout, will ensure that Japan’s racialized commodification will be a perpetual game of “whack-a-mole.”

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Education, Good News, Humor, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Racist Images in Media, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., Tourism | 35 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 19th October 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Lawsuits, Pension System, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 9 Comments »

    Good news: Japan Times Community Pages expanding from two-page Tuesdays to four days a week

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 15th October 2013

    Good news. With an imminent tie-up between The Japan Times and The New York Times, the Community Pages (which I have written for since 2002) will expand from its present two pages on Tuesday to four days a week. The JT explains in more detail below.

    Proud to be part of this writing crew. We are the only English-language newspaper that is covering issues in this degree of depth in ways that matter to the English-reading NJ communities, and now we’re getting even more space. Bravo. Thank you to everyone for reading and encouraging this to happen. — Arudou Debito, JUST BE CAUSE Columnist, The Japan Times

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Media, Practical advice | 5 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 8th October 2013

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

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

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

    Mainichi: The Kyoto District Court ordered anti-Korean activists Monday to pay damages for disrupting classes at a Korean school by staging a demonstration during which they directed hate speech at the ethnic Korean community in Japan, banning them from staging further demonstrations. It is the first court decision in connection with hate speech, which fans discrimination and hatred toward a certain race or minority, lawyers for the school said.

    Posted in Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Lawsuits, United Nations, 日本語 | 22 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 22nd September 2013

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

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Sport, 日本語 | 5 Comments »

    Racist 2013 Toshiba commercial for product APB-R100X, SuiPanDa combination ricecooker/breadmaker

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 27th June 2013

    World-class company Toshiba seems to think that domestic commercials will only be seen within the putatively hermetic Japanese domestic market. And that there are no people in Japan who might take offense at being racially caricatured. The advertised product in question: A rice cooker that can also double as a bread maker — Toshiba SuiPanDa Model APB-R100X. The issue: Gaijinizing the user to promote bread consumption. Some stills from the CM enclosed. Note the accented speech rendered in katakana subtitle for the Gaijinized Japanese actress, complete with blond hair, appended big nose, and overexuberant gestures and speech patterns. Not to mention the dichotomous stereotype that people who eat bread (as opposed to potatoes or some other kind of starch) are automatically “Western” (youfuu).

    Debito.org has added this to its collection of Japanese commercials and product lines that use biological memes of racism to hawk product. Here are some stills of those, some of which were taken off the air when people protested. Of course, you are welcome to protest this as well. Here’s the Toshiba website with the product in question and some links to feedback sites. Many Japanese advertisers just never seem to learn. It’s up to us to tell them.

    UPDATE JUNE 29: Here are two other commercial spots for other Toshiba products, featuring the same businesswomen actresses in the same vein, but without the racialization. As a friend pointed out elsewhere, “Toshiba could have communicated the same message more effectively by interviewing a master baker or some other expert.” Courtesy of Kotaku. Note that in these videos, these people are co-workers who know each other. Gaijinized in the breadmaker commercial, she’s an unknown stranger. Once again, Gaijin are the perpetual “Other” who don’t belong, even with all the NJ working for Japanese corporations.

    UPDATE TWO: Toshiba is clearly aware that this commercial is problematic because they immediately removed it from their website. http://www.toshiba.co.jp/eco/ch/homebakery/index_j.htm
    That’s kinda funny. A world-class electronics company thinking that it can just remove their racist advert without comment, retraction, or apology, and that would be it? Not very media- or tech-savvy, are they? Download your own copy from Debito.org in mp4 format, for posterity. http://www.debito.org/Toshibasuipanda.mp4

    UPDATE THREE: Even funnier, this racist advertisement goes against its own Corporate Standards of Conduct!

    14. Advertising
    1. Toshiba Group Corporate Policy
    Directors and Employees shall: “not make reference to politics or religion in advertising, cause offense or show disrespect by implying discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, physical disability or age.
    http://www.toshiba.co.jp/csr/en/policy/soc.htm#SOC01_14
    14. 広告活動
    2. 東芝グループ役員・従業員の行動基準
    3. 政治、宗教等については広告表現の対象とせず、また、人種差別、心身障害者差別等を想起させ、人間の尊厳を傷つけるような表現を用いません。
    http://www.toshiba.co.jp/csr/jp/policy/soc.htm#SOC01_14

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Good News, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Racist Images in Media, 日本語 | 54 Comments »

    Good news: GOJ signs Hague Child Abductions Treaty. Bad news: GOJ will probably caveat its way out of ever following it

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 24th May 2013

    After years of pressure on the GOJ to act like its fellow advanced societies in terms of divorce and child custody, Japan earlier this week signed the Hague Convention on Child Abductions. Good. Now, I don’t want to dismiss this development out of hand, because Japan doing this is a step in the right direction (after all, if even after this I had nothing good to say, then what would EVER count as good news on Debito.org?) But as I have argued before, I think it’s been signed because enough time has passed for caveats to be put in place — so that the home team will rarely lose a custody case in Japan (furthermore, part of the argument for signing has been that Japanese would have a stronger footing overseas to pursue custody cases in Hague signatory countries — again, benefiting the home team in either case). After all, the normalized portrayal in Japanese media of NJ as violent spouses, and Japanese as victims (particularly wives, even though they are the great minority in international marriages) has expanded Japan’s definition of “Domestic Violence” to even simple heated arguments. Fight with your J-wife anytime and lose your kids. The deck is stacked.

    Let me quote one submitter: “From May 13′s Japan Times. A series of articles hammering home what will evidently be Japan’s final word on the subject, that Japanese fleeing countries abroad are doing so to protect their kids and themselves from angry, violent, abusive foreign husbands. Cue standardized quotes from proclaimed “expert on the issue” Kensuke Onuki as well as lawyer Mikiko “I was for the convention but now I see it conflicts with Japanese culture” Otani and a slew of heart-wrenching stories of Japanese wives fleeing abusive marriages (one claiming that had Japan been party to the Hague Convention at the time of her escape she would have chosen killing her child and herself than risk a return to her husband. Whether these individual stories have merit of not, it’s pure one-sided sensationalism. Where are the Murray Wood stories of wife abuse and neglect?”

    And to quote another anonymous legally-trained friend: “How to address DV is an issue in all Hague countries. In addition to allegations of DV, the Japanese legislation will also allow a judge to consider whether it would be difficult for EITHER the taking parent OR the parent requesting return to raise the child in the country of origin. This sounds awfully close to a full-blown custody determination, which is sort of what courts are NOT supposed to do in Hague cases.”

    As for future prospects, I shall defer to the better-informed judgment of a specialist international lawyer in this field, who wrote the following shortly before the Hague was signed:

    Jeremy D. Morley: “The Japanese public is being told that even if Japan signs the Convention, “The return of a child can be denied if the parent seeking it is believed to abuse the child or have difficulties raising him or her.” Daily Yomiuri, Mar. 16, 2013. If that is the gloss that Japan intends to put on the Hague Convention – even though the Convention is expressly designed to secure the expeditious return of all abducted children except in extremely unusual cases – there is little or no point in Japan’s purported ratification of the treaty. The result of Japan’s ratification of the Convention will likely be to create the appearance of Japan’s compliance with international norms but without any of the substance.”

    CONCLUSION: Same as other treaties that Japan has signed but doesn’t enforce, I think the Hague will wind up as a historical footnote as another treaty Japan chooses to ignore. When we see the highly unlikely prospect of children of international marriages abducted to Japan sent back overseas by a Japanese court (in contrast to other judiciaries that DO repatriate children, see for example here and here) then I’ll think progress has been made. But it’s pretty inconceivable to me, since child abduction happens between Japanese couples too thanks to Japan’s insane marriage system, and it’s hard to imagine foreigners suddenly being granted more rights in Japanese marriages than fellow Japanese.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media | 8 Comments »

    Asahi on arrest of Zaitokukai participant in anti-Korean demo; J-Cast on anti-Korean stuff being sold at Dietmember kaikan; Osaka sign saying “Stop Scrawling Discriminatory Graffiti”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 21st May 2013

    We have some positive movements regarding the treatment of hate speech in Japan, particularly regarding that “Kill all Koreans” hate demo that took place last February (god bless the ensuing gaiatsu of international attention for making the GOJ finally take some action to deal with this deservedly embarrassing incident). First, the Asahi reports that one of the participants in the Zaitokukai hate demo named Akai Hiroshi was arrested by the police, for violent bodily contact with a person protesting Zaitokukai activities.

    It’s a good start, and I’m glad that there are protests regarding the hateful, xenophobic protesters (usually their activities get ignored even if they involve violence against counter-demonstrators).. Except for the fact that this sort of hate speech has by now reached the highest and lowest levels of society, as in anti-Korean stickers being sold in Diet buildings, and anti-Korean graffiti being scrawled on public transportation, according to J-Cast. The good news, however, is that we’re hearing about these events at all (discrimination often goes ignored in the J-media if its against NJ).

    Also good news is that the authorities are taking measures against them, as seen in this sign sent to me yesterday by AP: Taken in Sekime-Seiiku Station in the Osaka area, May 20, 2013. The sign reads: A bright society where people respect each others’ human rights. Let’s stop scrawling discriminatory GRAFFITI that will hurt people’s hearts. If you notice any discriminatory graffiti, let us know (addendum: let a station attendant know). Signed, Osaka City Citizens’ Bureau.

    Submitter AP writes: “I talked to the 駅長 as well. I said I don’t know what lead to posting that message, but as a foreigner in Japan I sometimes face 差別 and understand why this kind of thing is important to address, and thanked him. He seemed appreciative as well.” Good. Then maybe people are realizing that this sort of thing affects everyone in society, not just some guest foreigners whose lives and feelings have no connection with ours. These are positive developments.

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Social Science, Gaiatsu, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, Media, 日本語 | 24 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 13, 2013 PART 2: New eBooks by Debito on sale now

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 14th May 2013

    New information about three new books of mine that are now out in downloadable eBook form:

    1) Debito’s eBook “GUIDEBOOK FOR RELOCATION AND ASSIMILATION INTO JAPAN” now available on Amazon and NOOK for download. USD $19.99

    Following December’s publication of the revised 2nd Edition of long-selling HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS comes a companion eBook for those who want to save paper (and money). A handy reference book for securing stable jobs, visas, and lifestyles in Japan, GUIDEBOOK has been fully revised and is on sale for $19.99 USD (or your currency equivalent, pegged to the USD on Amazons worldwide). See contents, reviews, and links to online purchasing outlets at http://www.debito.org/handbook.html

    2) Debito’s eBook “JAPANESE ONLY: THE OTARU ONSENS CASE AND RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN JAPAN” now available in a 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION on Amazon and NOOK for download. USD $9.99

    It has been more than ten years since bathhouses in Otaru, Hokkaido, put up “NO FOREIGNERS” signs at their front doors, and a full decade since the critically-acclaimed book about the landmark anti-discrimination lawsuit came out. Now with a new Introduction and Postscript updating what has and hasn’t changed in the interim, JAPANESE ONLY remains the definitive work about how discrimination by race remains a part of the Japanese social landscape. See contents, reviews, and links to online purchasing outlets at http://www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html

    3) Debito’s eBook “IN APPROPRIATE: A NOVEL OF CULTURE, KIDNAPPING, AND REVENGE IN MODERN JAPAN” now available on Amazon and NOOK for download. USD $9.99

    My first nonfiction novel that came out two years ago, IN APPROPRIATE is the story of a person who emigrates to Japan, finds his niche during the closing days of the Bubble Years, and realizes that he has married into a locally-prominent family whose interests conflict with his. The story is an amalgam of several true stories of divorce and child abduction in Japan, and has received great praise from Left-Behind Parents for its sincerity and authenticity. See contents, reviews, and links to online purchasing outlets at http://www.debito.org/inappropriate.html

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Child Abductions, Education, Good News, Handbook for Newcomers, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, Media, NJ legacies, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Pension System, Practical advice | No Comments »

    eBook GUIDEBOOK for RELOCATION and ASSIMILATION to JAPAN now on sale, US $19.99 or local currency equivalent

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 11th May 2013

    I’m very pleased to announce the publication of my latest downloadable eBook: Arudou Debito’s GUIDEBOOK for RELOCATION and ASSIMILATION into JAPAN (eBook for Amazon and NOOK, 2013) Price: $19.99 or local currency equivalent at Amazons worldwide (available also from Amazon Japan here currently for JPY 1979). Also at Barnes & Noble for NOOK.

    Book synopsis: Are you interested in living in Japan? Not visiting as a tourist — actually living in Japan with a secure visa and a stable job.

    Would you like to set up your own business and found your own corporation? Or understand how Japan’s salary system or health insurance works? What Japan’s minimum labor standards are, and the legal differences between part-time and full-time employment? How to write a Last Will and Testament in Japan, or hold a culturally-sensitive funeral? Or would you like to give something back to Japan’s civil society by founding your own non-profits or NGOs?

    How about getting some advice on how to deal with some unexpected problems, such as handling workplace disputes, dealing with police, going to court, even going through a divorce?

    Would you like to become a Permanent Resident or even a Japanese citizen?

    GUIDEBOOK will offer information on all this and more. Written by 25-year resident and naturalized Japanese citizen Arudou Debito, GUIDEBOOK’s information has been called “the fullest and consequently the best” by Japan Times Book Reviewer Donald Richie, and garnered praise from other Japan specialists such as John Lie, Jeff Kingston, and Alex Kerr.

    GUIDEBOOK has been newly updated for 2013, to include the 2012 reforms to Japan’s Immigration Laws. Now for the first time in eBook format, GUIDEBOOK is here to help you with nuts-and-bolts advice to establish a good life in this wonderful country, Japan!

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Good News, Handbook for Newcomers, Human Rights, Practical advice | Comments Off

    RocketNews: Automatic PR Status awarded to grads of Kyoto universities? Positive proposal by Kyoto Governor that will come to naught

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 21st April 2013

    Kyoto Shimbun: On April 10, the [Governor] of Kyoto Keiji Yamada made public his intentions to appeal to the government to award overseas students who graduate from Kyoto [universities] with the right to permanent residence. It is a proposal entitled ‘Kyoto University Special Ward’ and also incorporates other supportive measures for foreign students. With a decrease in student intake within Japan in recent years, it is hoped that by providing incentives for academically skilled overseas students, Kyoto will not only be able to compete with other cities like Tokyo but will also be able to add a new lease of life to its cultural city….

    With air of conviction, Kyoto’s [Governor] put his proposition to the panel: “What I’d like to ask you to consider is whether overseas students who graduate from Kyoto [universities] and take part in the city’s job training program can be given permanent resident status. I’d like to work with everyone in producing an effective policy.”

    COMMENT: Interesting and very positive proposal, but it will come to naught, of course. Still, it shows how local governments are much more responsive to the needs of NJ than the central government (which is dominated by the control-the-borders-and-police-foreigners-only mindset of the Ministry of Justice). Although the central government occasionally deigns to listen to the locals (especially when they band together and say, “Our NJ residents need this!” as per the Hamamatsu Sengen of 2001), ultimately the regular blind spots prevail, and I think they will in this case too (as awarding PR is the job of the MOJ, not local governments).

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 18 Comments »

    New book: “Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight” by Hepburn & Simon (Columbia UP, 2013). Includes Japan.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 14th April 2013

    Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight
    By Stephanie Hepburn and Rita J. Simon

    Published by Columbia University Press, this unprecedented study of sex trafficking, forced labor, organ trafficking, and sex tourism across twenty-four nations highlights the experiences of the victims, perpetrators, and anti-traffickers involved in this brutal trade. Combining statistical data with intimate accounts and interviews, journalist Stephanie Hepburn and justice scholar Rita J. Simon create a dynamic volume sure to educate and spur action.

    Among the nations examined is Japan, which has not elaborated a comprehensive anti-trafficking law. Although the government took a strong step forward in its 2009 Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons by acknowledging that sex trafficking is not the only form of human trafficking, forced-labor victims continue to be marginalized. As a result of ethnocentric policies, the government prohibits foreign unskilled laborers from working in Japan. But the disparity between the nation’s immigration posture and its labor needs has created a quandary. With a demand for inexpensive labor but without an adequate low wage labor force, Japan uses the government-run Industrial Training Program and Technical Internship Program to create a temporary and low-cost migrant workforce for employers. The stated purpose of the program is to transfer skill, technology, and knowledge to persons of other nations and thereby play a central role in the economic growth of developing nations, specifically those in East Asia. Instead, it has created opportunities for exploitation and human trafficking.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Education, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 4 Comments »

    New eBook: “JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Onsens Case”, 10th Anniv Edition with new Intro and Postscript, now on Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook $9.99

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 9th April 2013

    I am pleased to announce the eBook release of my book “JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan” Tenth Anniversary Edition, available for immediate download for Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble NOOK.

    The definitive book on one of Japan’s most important public debates and lawsuits on racial discrimination, this new edition has a new Introduction and Postscript that updates the reader on what has happened in the decade since JO’s first publication by Akashi Shoten Inc. A synopsis of the new book is below.

    You can read a sample of the first fifteen or so pages (including the new Introduction), and download the ebook at either link:
    http://www.amazon.com/JAPANESE-ONLY-Springs-Discrimination-ebook/dp/B00C8UB6U8
    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/japanese-only-debito-arudou/1115061298
    Price: $9.99

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, History, Human Rights, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Issho.org/Tony Laszlo, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Media, NJ legacies, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Practical advice, United Nations, 日本語 | 9 Comments »

    Good news: Rightist sentenced to a year in jail for harassing company using Korean actress in their advertising

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 27th December 2012

    A bit of good news. A member of a nasty Rightist group was sentenced to a year in jail for harassing a Japanese company for using a Korean actress in its advertising. That’s hopeful, as we are seeing examples of xenophobia in Japan going beyond internet and political-arena bile (as well as signposted exclusionism) and into the street for race-bating and interpersonal confrontation. Without some kind of brake like this court decision, it’s only a matter of time before somebody goes too far and we have race riots in Japan.

    I would have liked to have seen a little more detail in the article below about the timeline of the harassment. I can speak from personal experience that it can take a year or more between an event and a conclusive court decision in Japan, so how responsive is Japan’s judiciary being here? Also, note that this case is not punishing somebody for hate speech against an ethnic group or a person in Japan — it’s protecting a Japanese company against threatening behavior, a bit different. I will be more reassured when we have a (similarly criminal, not civil) case involving arrest, prosecution, and jail time for an individual threatening an individual on the grounds of his/her ethnicity/national origin. But I don’t think that will happen under the current legal regime, as “the government does not think that Japan is currently in a situation where dissemination of racial discriminatory ideas or incitement of racial discrimination are conducted to the extent that the government must consider taking legislative measures for punishment against dissemination of racial discriminatory idea, etc. at the risk of unjustly atrophying lawful speech…” That assessment was made by the MOFA to the UN more than a decade ago. Given what I see are xenophobic tidings in Japan these days, I think it’s time for an update.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Lawsuits, Media | 14 Comments »

    2nd Edition of HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, & IMMIGRANTS to Japan on sale Dec 2012, updated

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 3rd December 2012

    I’m very happy to announce that at long last (it takes a number of months to get things through the publishing pipeline), the Second Edition of HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS AND IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN goes on sale in December 2012.

    This long-selling bilingual guide to life in Japan, co-authored with legal scrivener Akira Higuchi, has assisted thousands of readers and engendered rave reviews. Its goal has been to assist people to live more stable, secure lives in Japan, and walks the reader through the process of securing a better visa, getting a better job (even start one’s own business), troubleshooting through difficult situations both bureaucratically and interpersonally, establishing one’s finances and arrangements for the next of kin, even giving something back to Japanese society. It is a one-stop guide from arrival in Japan through departure from this mortal coil, and now it has been updated to reflect the changes in the Immigration and registry laws that took place in July 2012. Get ready to get yourself a new copy!

    (Oh, and my Japan Times JBC column has been postponed a week due to a major scoop this week that will fill the Community Page…)

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Good News, Handbook for Newcomers, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, Practical advice, 日本語 | 4 Comments »

    Ishihara resigns Tokyo Governorship, seeks Diet seat as new party head. I say bring it on.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 28th October 2012

    Something very important happened a few days ago when Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro made a surprise announcement that he would resign his governorship, launch a new political party, and run for a Diet seat in the next Lower House election due in two months.

    I say bring it on. This xenophobic old bigot (now 80) has fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the book: self-delusion, brought on by decades of megalomania and ideological sound-chambering within a cadre of sycophants — which Alberto Fujimori (an old friend of Ishihara and his elite ruling circles) similary fell for when the self-deluded demagogue buggered off back to Chile (forfeiting his unextradictable safe haven in Japan) to stand for reelection in Peru. Fujimori, as you know, was then extradited to Peru for trial and is now doing essentially life in prison. But I digress.

    I say bring it on for two reasons. One is that even if elected (which he will be, under Japan’s Proportional Representation system — the main avenue for celebrity schmoes to pad their resume and stroke their egos), Ishihara can do less damage as a Dietmember of a fringe party (analysts already are beginning to doubt the strength of the Rightist alliance between other fringe parties) than as Governor of Tokyo, with an entire Metropolitan Police Force (the strongest and most influential in all of Japan) at his disposal to target people he doesn’t like. One of the reasons he says he resigned his Diet seat in 1995 after 25 years in office is because of his frustration with the powerlessness of the Diet in the face of the pervasive Japanese bureaucracy (which, as he correctly claims, rules the country). Now he’s going right back to that same Diet, and I think he thinks he’ll stop at nothing short of becoming PM (He won’t. He won’t live long enough. Osaka Mayor Hashimoto is the bigger threat at half the age.)

    The other reason is because it’s time to put some cards on the table. The Center-Left in Japan (in the form of the DPJ) tried their liberalizations (with NJ PR local suffrage, etc.) and lost badly due to the hue and cry over how NJ, if given any power in Japan, would automatically abuse it and destroy Japan). The image in Japanese politics nowadays is of a rightward swing. Alright, let’s see just how rightward. Japan’s bureaucrats like things just the way they are (their sole purpose is to keep the status quo as is, even if that means Japan irradiates itself and strangles itself to death demographically). It would take a miracle (something I think not even Ishihara is capable of) to dismantle that system. If Ishihara wins, Japan’s rightward swing is conclusive, and the world will have to stop ignoring a resurgent militarist xenophobic Japan. If Ishihara loses, that will take a lot of wind out of Rightist sails and push the country back towards centrism.

    In this poker game, I believe Ishihara will lose. And NJ in Japan have already won a victory by having that bigot abdicate his throne/bully pulpit as leader of one of the world’s largest cities.

    Posted in Good News, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Tangents | 35 Comments »

    “From the Shadows” documentary on Japan’s child abductions debuts in Philly Film Festival Oct 23 & 27, tickets on sale now

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 2nd October 2012

    From The Shadows, a documentary film about Parental Child abduction in Japan, will premiere at the Philadelphia Film Festival on October 23rd and October 27th. This film follows the lives of 5 “Left Behind Parents” trying desperately to reconnect with their children after having their child-parent relationship cut by the other parent. Through their individual stories we examine why this situation is so common in Japan and hear opinions from an array of experts on the situation. The film has had work-in-progress screenings on Capitol Hill (Nov. 2011) and in Tokyo (Apr. 2012) that was attended by the foreign ministry and several embassy reps.

    The screening venues and times for the Philadelphia Film Festival are:
    1. Tuesday October 23rd, 5:00 pm – Prince Music Theater – 1412 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19102

    2. Saturday October 27th 7:35 pm – Ritz East – 125 South Second Street Philadelphia, PA 19106

    First go to this link: http://filmadelphia.festivalgenius.com/2012/films/fromtheshadows0_mattantell_filmadelphia2012

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese Government, Media, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 5 Comments »

    Success, of a sort, as a “Gaijin Mask” maker amends their racist product to “Gaikokujin Masks”. Same racialized marketing, though.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 23rd September 2012

    Been doing some writing and inserting the definition of “gaijin” in Japan in terms of marketing into my research, and found that the “Gaijin Mask” found at Tokyu Hands in 2009 and featured on Debito.org has recently been changed to “Gaikokujin Mask”, according to Amazon Japan.

    Note the stereotypical racialized characteristics for both “dokkiri” party goods include large a large nose, blue eyes, cleft chin, blond hair, “Hollywood smile,” and grand gesticulations. The default language for the “foreigner” (as seen by the harō and ha-i!) is English (if not katakana Japanese for the desu copula). However, “gaijin” has been adjusted to “gaikokujin” (as if that makes the commodification of racism all better).

    Note also that even though this apparently has been a recent change (information was received by Amazon Japan only last month), it’s suddenly “Currently unavailable” and “can not be shipped outside Japan”. (I wonder if anyone looking at the product with an IP in Japan is also unable to purchase it.) See screen capture here:

    Same thing with the racialized Little Black Sambo dolls I found on Amazon Japan last night (which have been on sale since shortly after unbook Little Black Sambo was resuscitated in Japan, extending racism into the next generation): It’s also “Currently unavailable.” And not for sale anyway outside of Japan. So methinks the producers are well aware that they could get in trouble if marketed to an overseas audience. But no matter — there’s money to be made here — who cares if the product is racialized when the domestic market from childhood thinks racism of this sort is unproblematic?…

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Good News, Issho.org/Tony Laszlo, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 22 Comments »

    Yomiuri: Iwate town sponsors Vietnamese future doctor — and people reportedly react with trepidation

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 23rd July 2012

    In light of how NJ nurses under a national visa program have been treated in the face of a chronic careworkers shortage, here we have a case where even local sponsorship of a NJ doctor is also viewed (according to the Yomiuri, which may indeed in the interest of “balance” be conjuring up a tempest in a teapot) with suspicion because she is a foreigner. After all, she might not stay! Then again, so might not anyone else being trained on that scholarship program regardless of nationality. Ah, but foreigners are different, you see. They always represent a flight risk… Anyhoo, good news tainted with an editorial bias of caution and trepidation just because the subject is NJ.

    Yomiuri: Facing a serious and chronic shortage of doctors, the town of Ichinohe felt it necessary to look overseas to find medical staff willing to live and work in the rural area. The town plans to spend more than 10 million yen on school and living expenses for a Vietnamese woman on the condition that she will practice medicine in the town for at least seven years after obtaining her license.

    The unusual plan raised eyebrows when the town ran it by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, and some residents have questioned why the town is sponsoring a foreigner. However, Ichinohe Mayor Akira Inaba believes the unprecedented plan is just what the town needs. “The scholarship program for Japanese medical students hasn’t attracted enough applicants to meet its quota,” he said. “We have no other choice but to secure our doctors on our own.”

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 13 Comments »

    Hurrah, the separate Alien Registration System is abolished after 60 years. Now let’s consider the GOJ give & take regarding tracking NJ under this policy

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 12th July 2012

    After many years of bureaucratic policy trial balloons and lots of advance warning, July 9, 2012 has finally come to pass, and the longstanding Alien Registration System, promulgated in 1952 to help the GOJ keep track of the pesky aliens (mostly former citizens of the Japanese Empire who were stripped of their Japanese citizenship) who wouldn’t go back to “their country” (staying on in Japan as Zainichi, generational “foreigners” born in Japan to this day), has been abolished sixty years later. In its place, NJ are now registered on Japan’s juuminhyou Residency Certificates — closing up a ludicrous system where only citizens could be registered as “residents” (juumin) despite paying Residents’ Tax (yup, juuminzei), and teeth-grindlingly stupid moves such as local governments giving animals and fictional characters their own honorary “juuminhyou” despite untaxable status. Now NJ can also now be listed with their Japanese (and non-Japanese) families properly as family members and heads of household (no longer excluded even from local population tallies for not being listed in the juumin kihon daicho). Finally, closure to that. Good riddance.

    That said, the new system also includes new Gaijin Cards (Zairyuu Kaado), which are higher-tech versions (I say remotely trackable due to the RFID technology inside, by design; see below) and still required under criminal law to be carried 24-7 under penalty of search, seizure, and possible incarceration for a week or three. That hasn’t changed. In fact I would now argue it’s gotten worse — since Japanese citizens (even if computer chip technology has also been introduced into J driver licenses and passports, which not all Japanese get anyway) are not required by law to carry any ID whatsoever at all times. Some historical links regarding the true intention of the ZRK (tracking and control of untrustworthy NJ, not convenience for them as is generally sold) follow.

    I’ll paste some articles below and let’s see what the media has made of this. Feel free to tell us how the changes have been affecting you as well.

    Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Good News, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 87 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 53 July 3, 2012: “In formulating immigration policy, no seat at the table for NJ”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 4th July 2012

    My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 53 dated July 3, 2012, is on the Japanese Government’s renewed policy debate on creating conditions conducive to immigration (without actually portraying it in any way as “immigration” (imin), just more NJ residents). It’s their attempt to address Japan’s demographic and probable economic nosedive despite their assiduous efforts over the decades to a) exploit NJ as temporary workers on a revolving-door labor visa regime, b) blame NJ for all manner of social ills, including foreign crime and desertion, and in the process c) poison the public debate arena for productive discussion about ever treating NJ well enough that they might want to actually stay (since the past three years have seen the NJ population continuously dropping, after 48 years of unbroken rise). The writing’s on the wall, and the GOJ is finally doing something constructive. But (as usual) the bureaucracy is controlling the agenda, and the typical blind spots are coming into play, so as things stand now I think the policy drive will be ineffective. Have a read and a think.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Good News, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Practical advice, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 13 Comments »

    GOJ Cabinet “Coexistence with NJ” Pt. 2: Critique of June 15, 2012 meeting — a very positive Third Act to this Political Theatre

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 28th June 2012

    Following up on my blog post of June 10: “GOJ embryonic policymaking reboot for ‘co-existence with foreigners’”, here is an evaluation of the GOJ’s third meeting of June 15, 2012. I offer summaries of each presenter’s materials below. My overall comment is that despite some fair-to-middling presentation styles (one a bit limply bureaucratic, another full of irrelevant chaff), all of them have their heart in the right place. Two of them I just wanted to hug the presenter afterwards for getting things right all the way down to the proper semantics (of seeing NJ as fellow “resident” with their own sense of “community”; they even overrode the potentially dichotomous “coexistence” meme for seeing NJ as perpetual outsiders to “handle and administrate”, which Japan’s sweaty-handed bureaucrats can never get beyond). How much of this advice will be taken is another issue, but at least the advice is being given. It’s a good Third Act in this political theatre. It’s just a pity the short-sighted bureaucrats almost always get first dibs on agenda setting, with the people who might offer different opinions thrown in later down the line as an afterthought. And there’s still no mention of that law against racial discrimination…

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Practical advice, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 12 Comments »

    The Govinda (Mainali) miscarriage of justice murder case ruled for retrial after 15 years, so Immigration deports him. But there’s more intrigue.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 13th June 2012

    Making headlines this past week has been the Govinda Mainali Murder Case, a cause celebre I’ve known about for years (thanks to a very active domestic support group with regular mailings in Japanese). It’s come to a head, where DNA evidence has finally cast enough doubt on the evidence behind the conviction (see Yomiuri article immediately below), and it’s come to light (see Japan Times editorial below) that the prosecution withheld (or didn’t bother to have tested) vital evidence from the court (yes, they can do that in Japan) that would have exonerated him. It also put him in double jeopardy, meaning trying him more than once for the same crime (technically illegal, but yes, they can do that in Japan), reversing a not-guilty decision in lower court. As if that wasn’t enough, note the date of the Yomiuri article below stating the negative DNA test (July 2011) — meaning it only took Japan’s criminal justice system about a year for him to finally get his retrial, on top of the 15 years he’s been incarcerated. And after all that, now that it looks like Govinda is going to have his name cleared, Immigration is just going to deport him. The police in Japan are sore losers.

    Now, check out the details in Terrie’s Take below, where the plot really thickens because the murder victim, a prostitute in her off-hours, was an employee with TEPCO (yes, that TEPCO) with names of some high-level clients in her address books…

    As Terrie Lloyd notes below (as have I in the Japan Times), the already prosecutor-heavy criminal justice system in Japan is even more so if the suspect is a NJ. More and more it looks like Govinda Mainali was actually a patsy for the powerful because he was a convenient foreigner for the Japanese police to pin this on. I’ve already discussed in detail before how Japan’s criminal investigation system is fully stacked against NJ victims (start here with the Scott Kang and Matthew Lacey Cases, then progress to the Suraj Case, where the police have still gotten away with murder). The Govinda Case is yet another case study for everyone to remember for when the NJ are potential perps. Can’t win either way once the Japanese police get their hands on you.

    Posted in Good News, Human Rights, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, 日本語 | 35 Comments »

    GOJ embryonic policymaking reboot for “co-existence with foreigners”: Some good stuff, but once again, policy about NJ without any input from them

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 10th June 2012

    John Morris at H-JAPAN: A committee has been set up within the Cabinet Office of Japan, composed of the vice-ministers of the Cabinet Secretariat, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Ministiry of Law, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Education etc, Health etc, Agricutlure etc, Industry etc, Land etc, Police to investigate and recommend policy on “co-existence with foreigners”. Information on the committee can be found at the following URL:
    http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/seisaku/kyousei/index.html
    The documentation provided here gives a very succinct summary of what the government (national level bureaucrats?) of Japan think about “foreigners” here, and how they formulate their perceptions of what the “problems” are, and very vaguely hint at where they see future solutions.

    SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS: This is not the first time the organs of the Japanese government have talked about “coexistence with foreigners” (gaikokujin to no kyousei shakai jitsugen), but more likely than not these happen at the local level (cf. the Hamamatsu Sengen, which happened repeatedly from over a decade ago yet was studiously ignored at the national level). Now that discussion on this is taking place at the national, Cabinet level, this is a positive development. However, these meetings (two so far, the first one was less than an hour) at the outset show the hallmarks of so much Japanese policymaking: a biased agenda (with all the normalized invective of “wagakuni” (our country) semantically offsetting those foreigners (who have to “co-exist” with Japanese, not merge into one polity)) regarding the policy treatment of people without any input from the people being treated. Inevitable blind spots, such as an overemphasis on Nikkei and children’s education, are already latent in the materials below. In any case, this is a very interesting and rare view into the dialogs and mindsets behind the creation of public policy re NJ in Japan. More detailed summaries and analysis follow below.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 20 Comments »

    Commemorating the Japan Times Community Page’s 10th Anniversary, a brief column by Arudou Debito, May 8, 2012

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 13th May 2012

    As the very popular and quite influential Community Page at the Japan Times celebrated its 10th Anniversary this week, I was asked (along with their former editor and best reporter) to say a few words as their featured columnist (now for four years plus). Here’s what I said. There are links to other celebratory articles below that. Enjoy, and congrats Community Page. You’re doing great things. Thanks for being there for our writings, and for us.

    ZG: Having been an infrequent contributor to other publications, I was impressed by the comparative professionalism at The Japan Times: I was never forced to toe any editorial line by the Community Page (unlike, say, the vanity projects that pass for English-language newspapers at the Asahi and Yomiuri, who tend to take criticism of Japan in English by NJ authors as a personal affront). It was also nice that the JT paid its contributors the amount as promised promptly, something relatively rare in this business.

    Honesty has served the Community Page well. Over the past decade, we have had hundreds of contributors writing exposes on subjects few other domestic outlets would touch, including unequal hiring practices due to nationality, the merits of unionization, international divorces from the studiously ignored NJ partner’s perspective, the Japanese judiciary’s systematic discrimination against claimants based on race or social origin, the biased treatment of NJ crime by police and the media, public policies and government statements that latently and blatantly disenfranchise whole peoples in Japan, one’s rights under the law and revised visa regimes, and even new takes on the perennial debate over the epithet “gaijin.”

    Where else in our domestic media could this motley collection of journalists, scholars, pundits, activists and general malcontents consistently splash their views across a page (now two) every Tuesday — and have their presence permanently recorded in this country’s best online archive of English articles on Japan?

    For that matter, where else in Japan’s media does anyone even acknowledge that there is a “community” of NJ in Japan, or offer authoritative information specifically for the benefit of this community? Only here.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Good News, History, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, NJ legacies | 9 Comments »

    USG Asst Sec of State links post-divorce Japan child abductions with DPRK abductions of Japanese

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 10th May 2012

    Some news on the Japan Child Abductions Issue, where Japan has long set itself up as a safe haven for one parent to abscond with their child following separation or divorce (regardless of whether the marriage was international or domestic), what with no joint custody and no guaranteed child visitation in Japan. Thanks to the Koseki Family Registry system, the divorced couple becomes strangers to each other, and children go on only one parent’s koseki (with the other parent losing all legal title and access to their kids unless the custodial parent approves). In cases of international/intercontinental separation or divorce, the Japanese partner can abduct their child to Japan (since Japan is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, and the Japanese embassy does not enforceably require the permission of both parents to issue a Japanese child a Japanese passport), and that’s it — the kids are gone. Japanese courts have always ruled that the absconder has established “habitual residence” in Japan by dint, so who dares wins. Meanwhile, despite international protests about the GOJ not being a signatory to the Hague, Japan has been dragging its feet for years now on signing (and as I have argued in the past, will probably caveat its way out of enforcing it anyway, as it has done with other treaties (like the CERD and the ICCPR)).

    Finally, enough has become enough for sensible people. According to articles below, US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell has once again come out in public making a link between the irony of all the tragedymaking regarding Japanese being kidnapped decades ago by the DPRK (which is indeed a tragedy, yes), yet the lack of tragedy over Japanese still kidnapping international kids. Good. We’ve made that comparison before here on Debito.org, and were roundly condemned by the usual suspects for doing so. (And, as a related tangent, I’ve probably criticized the most by people misquoting me as advocating that foreigners shouldn’t marry Japanese. No, for the record, I’m saying NOBODY, Japanese or NJ, should get married and have children under the insane family law system in Japan; the risks are too great if parents separate).

    As per articles below, the Japanese press is of course rallying the public behind the home team via editorial camouflaged as news (it’s hard to discern even what Campbell actually said). It’s even trying to instruct the Japanese public how English is different than Japanese. You see, if a North Korean kidnaps a Japanese, its “abduction” (rachi). But if a Japanese kidnaps an international child, its “tsuresari” (taking along and disappearing). But you see, the English language is inflexible — it only has one word for this action: “abduction”. So it’s all one big “linguistic misunderstanding”. Even though, in either case, abduction is what it is.

    And if you really want to take this issue to the next level of linkage, consider this comment from a friend:

    “As noted in Wikipedia, “In 1944, the Japanese authorities extended the mobilization of Japanese civilians for labor to the Korean peninsula. Of the 5,400,000 Koreans conscripted, about 670,000 were taken to mainland Japan . . .” And the Japanese have the audacity to complain about 20 or so Japanese abducted to North Korea? The Japanese government should apologize and compensate the 5 million Koreans conscripted 70 years ago before uttering a single word about the actions of North Korea 35 years ago.”

    So underlying all of this is an issue of hypocrisy, and now the GOJ is probably going to have to resort to its only real defense when cornered on an issue: agonistic posturing and outrage — trying to derail the issue in favor of maintaining “The Relationship”. People have fallen for this before (after all, the US wants to keep its military bases and its market to sell inter alia weaponry). But I’m not sure this issue is really big enough (I think Masumoto has an inflated sense of his own power) to do that. Let’s keep our eyes on this one, since it’s a good case study of gaiatsu and GOJ policy in the making.

    Posted in Child Abductions, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, Good News, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, 日本語 | 14 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column May 1, 2012, “Yes, I can use chopsticks: the everyday ‘microaggressions’ that grind us down”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 3rd May 2012

    JBC: Microagressions, particularly those of a racialized nature, are, according to Dr. Derald Wing Sue in Psychology Today (Oct. 5, 2010), “the brief and everyday slights, insults, indignities, and denigrating messages sent to (visible minorities) by well-intentioned (members of an ethnic majority in a society) who are unaware of the hidden messages being communicated.”

    They include, in Japan’s case, verbal cues (such as “You speak such good Japanese!” — after saying only a sentence or two — or “How long will you be in Japan?” regardless of whether a non-Japanese (NJ) might have lived the preponderance of their life here), nonverbal cues (people espying NJ and clutching their purse more tightly, or leaving the only empty train seat next to them), or environmental cues (media caricatures of NJ with exaggerated noses or excessive skin coloration, McDonald’s “Mr. James” mascot (JBC, Sept. 1, 2009)).

    Usually these are unconscious acts grounded in established discourses of interactions. Nobody “means” to make you feel alienated, different, out of place, or stereotyped.

    But microaggressions are also subtle societal self-enforcement mechanisms to put people “in their place.” For NJ, that “place” is usually the submissive status of “visitor” or “guest,” with the Japanese questioner assuming the dominant position of “host” or “cultural representative of all Japan.”

    It’s a powerful analytical tool. Now we have a word to describe why it gets discomfiting when people keep asking if you can use chopsticks (the assumption being that manual dexterity is linked to phenotype), or if you can eat nattō (same with taste buds), or if you’ll be going “home” soon (meaning Japan is just a temporary stop in your life and you don’t belong here). It can even help you realize why it’s so difficult for the NJ long-termer to become a senpai in the workplace (since NJ subordination is so constant and renewed in daily interaction that it becomes normalized).

    Now let’s consider microaggression’s effects. Dr. Sue’s research suggests that subtle “microinsults and microinvalidations are potentially more harmful (than overt, conscious acts of racism) because of their invisibility, which puts (visible minorities) in a psychological bind.”

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Good News | 183 Comments »

    JT Community Page 10th Anniversary: Write a Haiku, win a copy of Debito’s HANDBOOK

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 25th April 2012

    As I wrote last week, next week heralds a celebration of the Tenth Anniversary of the Japan Times’ Tuesday Community Page. As I’ve written about 100 articles and JBC columns for it so far, I’ll be doing double duty next week with two articles, one in commemoration, and one a regular JBC column (more on the topic shortly before publication).

    This week, however, in anticipation, the JT announced that it would be offering FIVE free copies of Akira Higuchi and Arudou Debito’s bilingual HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS (more on it here), which has been a solid and steady seller, what with all the information about getting the right visa, getting a steady job, getting settled for a permanent life in Japan, and dealing with problems and issues that may come up.

    That’s right, five free copies of HANDBOOK, and all you have to do is write a Haiku in English about Japan — “the good, the bad and the ugly”. Some examples by Zeit Gist contributor Colin Jones this week include:

    Random card checking
    Fingerprints at the airport
    Yokoso Japan!

    Non-Japanese folk
    Have constitutional rights
    Except when they don’t

    Barred from the hot springs
    for invisible tattoo
    It says “foreigner”

    Now, those are my kinda Haiku. And no doubt we’ll have some anti-Debito ones too (taste the irony of being rewarded by the very person you’re dissing!). Go for it! Submit via:
    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/community-anniversary.html

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Good News, Handbook for Newcomers, Media | 18 Comments »

    Japan Times Community Page 10th Anniversary: Vote for your favorite article at JT by May 5

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 19th April 2012

    SPECIAL NOTICE: The JT Community Page: A decade serving the community
    JT: On May 8, the Japan Times will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Community pages, which have been providing news, analysis and opinion by, for and about the foreign community in Japan since May 9, 2002. To mark the occasion, we are asking readers to pick their favorite Zeit Gist article of the past decade, be it a memorable scoop, informative feature or scathing critique.

    In return, The Japan Times is offering readers the chance to win a B4-size poster (above) illustrated by longtime Community artist Chris Mackenzie.

    Alternatively, winners can opt for one of 10 copies of “3.11: One Year On,” a 64-page Japan Times Special Report bringing together JT articles from the past year about the triple disasters in Tohoku and their aftermath. Please state your preference on the form below. This offer ends at 5 p.m. JST on Friday, May 5.

    The following are the Community editor’s picks of just some of the standout Zeit Gist articles of the last decade. Some were chosen because they help tell the story of of the last 10 years in Japan, others because the articles proved to be extremely popular – and in some cases simply because they are great reads.

    COMMENT: Short list of the editor’s picks at
    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/community-anniversary.html
    Debito has two of those articles listed, “Punishing foreigners, exonerating Japanese” (on skewed criminal jurisprudence by nationality), and “Demise of crime magazine historic” (on the GAIJIN HANZAI magazine and how we not only got it off the shelves, but also helped drive the slimy publisher bankrupt). Or you can see all the Community Page articles I’ve written, with one-line synopses, at http://www.debito.org/publications.html#JOURNALISTIC

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Good News, Media, NJ legacies | 1 Comment »

    Mainichi: 23 percent of Japan’s top firms eager to employ more NJ. Why this is not newsworthy.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 15th March 2012

    Mainichi: Some 23 percent of Japan’s top 122 companies are considering employing more foreigners starting from next year, citing plans for overseas expansion as their main incentive, a Mainichi survey has revealed. Sixty-two companies, some 50.8 percent of all firms surveyed, further answered that they are likely to hire more foreign employees in the next 10 years as well. Conversely, 45 companies, or 36.9 percent, answered that their foreign employee numbers will remain unchanged. There were no firms that plan to decrease foreign employment from current figures.

    COMMENT: Well, seems that trumpeting that Japanese companies want to hire foreigners is becoming a periodic media thing (the last survey put up on Debito.org was featured in the Asahi back in April 2010). But saying you want something is not news; actually doing it, is. But the lack of job-placement support for NJ graduates of Japanese universities, and the treatment of Michael Woodford (who rose through the ranks to CEO over decades of dedication to the company, only to be sacked for “cultural reasons” in a sea of corruption), do not inspire hope.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Good News, Labor issues, Media, 日本語 | 9 Comments »

    Congratulations Donald Keene on getting Japanese citizenship. Now stop making yourself out to be somehow morally superior to NJ.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 9th March 2012

    Good news. Congratulations to The Don for getting his Japanese citizenship, and on what looks to be an expedited schedule (of course; the guy is in his ninetieth year!). I think it’s good that an old man can realize his twilight dreams, and take advantage of opportunities that he has clearly earned as a contributor to Japan in the world.

    That said, I don’t believe that gives him license to continuously bad-mouth other NJ, whom he yet again essentially accuses of desertion, according to the Asahi article trumpeting the news of his successful application below (translation mine):

    “…[Keene] received Japanese Permanent Residency, but after the Great East Japan Earthquake, knowing about the large numbers of foreigners that distanced themselves from Japan, he said, ‘I came to Japan, where I will always stay. I believe in Japan, is what I wanted to broadcast.’”

    The Yomiuri adds: Worried over the news that an increasing number of foreigners were leaving the country, Keene made up his mind to permanently live in Japan. “I wanted to endure the hardships with the Japanese, who had taken good care of me, at a difficult time like this,” he said… Starting next month, he will travel by ship to India and Africa for vacation.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, NJ legacies, 日本語 | 25 Comments »

    Mainichi: NJ held by immigration sharply down after reviewing rules

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 11th February 2012

    Speaking of incarceration of NJ under unreviewed circumstances (start here), here is what happens when the GOJ suddenly starts, as encouraged by the United Nations and even domestic think tanks such as JIPI, to actually REVIEW its own rules: They discover that not as many NJ need to be incarcerated. Quite a few of not as many. Very high percentages, even.

    Well, how about that. Glad this happened, and got some press too. May it happen more often, so that the NPA and Immigration realize that there are some boundaries to their power of interrogation and incarceration, even if (and especially if) the incarcerated happen to be NJ (who are even, according to here as well as the article below, committing suicide rather than take any more of this inhumane treatment).

    Mainichi/Kyodo: The number of foreign nationals detained one year or longer by Japanese immigration officials dropped significantly after a review of procedural rules for a more flexible approach in response to criticisms about the treatment of long-term detainees, data for last year showed… The Japanese government came under fire for its long-term detentions in 2007 by the United Nations, which recommended that detention periods should be limited…

    Those who were held for at least one year totaled 47, down sharply from 115 at the end of 2009. The Justice Ministry said it has been actively releasing those who are subject to deportation but it sees no need for holding in custody since July 2010… The number of foreign nationals detained one year or longer by Japanese immigration officials dropped significantly after a review of procedural rules for a more flexible approach in response to criticisms about the treatment of long-term detainees, data for last year showed.

    Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, United Nations | 9 Comments »

    My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column #48: “These are a few of my favorite things about Japan”, Feb. 7, 2012

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 8th February 2012

    JT: The Just Be Cause column has been running now for four years (thanks for reading!), and I’ve noticed something peculiar: how commentators are pressured to say “nice” stuff about Japan.

    If you don’t, you get criticized for an apparent “lack of balance.” As if one has to pay homage to the gods of cultural relativism (as an outsider) or tribal commonalities (as an insider).

    This pressure isn’t found in every society. Britain, for example, has a media tradition (as far back as Jonathan Swift, William Hogarth and George Cruikshank) where critics can be unapologetically critical, even savage, towards authority (for example, Private Eye magazine).

    But in Japan, where satire is shallow and sarcasm isn’t a means of social analysis, we are compelled to blunt our critique with pat niceties. Our media spends more time reporting nice, safe things (like how to cook and eat) than encouraging critical thinking.

    Likewise, Just Be Cause gets comments of the “If Debito hates Japan so much, why does the JT keep publishing him?” ilk. As if nobody ever criticizes Japan out of love (if we critics didn’t care about this place, we wouldn’t bother).

    Moreover, why must we say something nice about a place that hasn’t been all that nice to its residents over the past, oh, two stagnant decades (even more so since Fukushima)? Japan, like everywhere else, has problems that warrant attention, and this column is trying to address some of them.

    Still, as thanks to the readership (and my editor, constantly put off his beer defending me in bars), I’ll succumb and say something nice about Japan for a change. In fact, I’ll give not one, but 10 reasons why I like Japan:

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Good News, Humor | 10 Comments »

    Changes to Alien Registration Act July 2012 — NJ to be registered on Juuminhyou Residency Certificates at last

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 7th January 2012

    As the first real post of the new year, I thought we should start with a bit of unexpected good news. Let’s talk about the changes in Immigration’s registration of NJ residents coming up in July.

    It’s been in the news for quite a bit of time now (my thanks to the many people who have notified me), and there is some good news within: NJ will finally be registered on Residency Certificates (juuminhyou) with their families like any other taxpayer. Maximum visa durations will also increase from 3 to 5 years, and it looks like the “Gaijin Tax” (Re-Entry Permits for NJ who dare to leave the country and think they can come back on the same Status of Residence without paying a tariff) is being amended (although it’s unclear below whether tariffs are being completely abolished).

    But where GOJ giveth, GOJ taketh. The requirement for jouji keitai (24/7 carrying of Gaijin Cards) is still the same (and noncompliance I assume is still a criminal, arrestable offense), and I have expressed trepidation at the proposed IC-Chipped Cards due to their remote trackability (and how they could potentially encourage even more racial profiling).

    Anyway, resolving the Juuminhyou Mondai is a big step, especially given the past insults of awarding residence certificates to sea mammals and fictional characters but not live, contributing NJ residents (not to mention omitting said NJ residents from local government population tallies). Positive steps to eliminate an eye-blinkingly stupid and xenophobic GOJ policy. Read on.

    Posted in Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Good News, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 35 Comments »

    UPDATE: Post-divorce J child abductor Inoue Emiko DOES get book thrown at her in Milwaukee court, will return abducted child to custodial NJ father

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 23rd November 2011

    As was reported on Debito.org last October 28 regarding the issue of Japan as safe haven for international child abductions, the US courts looked like they actually might start enforcing their arrest warrants against Japanese child abductors. In this case, against a Japanese woman named Inoue Emiko who reportedly whisked the kid off to Japan despite a US court awarding the father, Moises Garcia, custody. Then Inoue used the time-honored tactic of abducting the kid anyway and getting a Japanese court to award her the kid instead regardless (with a gracious 30-day per year visitation allowed; thanks a heap). Then she presumptuously decided to have her cake and eat it too, coming back to Hawaii last April to renew her Green Card, whereupon the authorities honored the arrest warrant against her and sent her to stand trial in Wisconsin (leaving the kid in limbo with the grandparents in Japan).

    Back in October I said that enough is enough, and that the American judiciary should throw the book at her. Well, guess what — they did, and it looks as though the mother will return the child to the custodial father. Bravo! Read on. Let that be a lesson to you, child abductors, and let that be an incentive for Japan to sign the Hague Convention.

    Journal Sentinel: [Abducted child] Karina Garcia’s mother agreed in court Monday to have the girl home in Fox Point by Christmas. If she makes it, the 9-year-old would be the first of what advocates say are more than 300 children around the U.S. abducted to Japan in violation of American court orders to be returned through legal intervention. She also could become a poster child for how to solve a growing problem as international marriages increase in the global economy.

    The girl’s father, Moises Garcia, was pleased but cautious in talking to reporters after the hearing, where his ex-wife, Emiko Inoue, pleaded no contest to the felony charge of interfering with child custody by other parent. She was found guilty, but a plea agreement could leave her with only a misdemeanor conviction if Karina returns and Inoue completes other conditions.

    UPDATE DEC 25 2011: Convicted felon Inoue Emiko returns the child to the father and gets released from the clink. Bravo. And of course, the Japanese media still refuses to use her name in the domestic press. Or even call what she did a crime. Check out the wording below: “arrested on suspicion of taking her 9-year-old daughter to Japan in violation of the father’s parental rights, the father’s lawyer said”. Those pesky lawyers and their allegations; never mind the conviction and sentencing by a judge. She abducts the kid, tries to game the USG by coming back to renew her Green Card, and after all that still has visitation rights in America. All right for some, isn’t it? Try getting this fair a deal in Japan. But again, fairness is not a highly-prized cultural conceit for Team Japanners. Especially when you consider the bias in reporting. The Japanese article claims the daughter “wanted to live in Japan”, but once told of the situation, “went to America to save her mother” according to the very different headline. What a trooper! Especially after being put in this position by her irresponsible mother in the first place!

    Posted in Child Abductions, Good News, Lawsuits, Media, 日本語 | 50 Comments »

    The tug of war continues: Fukuoka High Court overrules Oita District Court that doubted, then affirmed, Oita Prefectural Govt’s denial of welfare benefits to superannuated NJ Permanent Resident

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 18th November 2011

    Yomiuri: The Fukuoka High Court ruled Tuesday that permanent residents in in Japan with foreign nationalities are eligible to receive public welfare assistance, overturning a lower court ruling. The high court accepted an appeal by a 79-year-old woman who is a permanent resident in Japan with Chinese nationality. She filed the lawsuit, claiming that the Oita city government illegally rejected her request for public welfare assistance.

    Presiding Judge Hiroshi Koga said in the ruling, “Foreign citizens with permanent residency [in Japan] are legally guaranteed the same status as Japanese citizens who receive the same treatment.” The high court overturned the Oita District Court’s ruling and nullified the Oita city government’s decision not to grant the woman public welfare benefits. According to a lawyer for the plaintiff, it is the nation’s first court ruling to present a legal basis for foreign permanent residents in Japan to receive public welfare benefits.

    COMMENT: Okay, that’s good news and a good precedent. Glad they took it away from the denizens of Oita, who as I noted back on Debito.org last November clearly started saying “Chotto…” to the petty bureaucrats, then backtracked within two weeks as the wagons encircled to rule against the alleged foreigner (I would like to hear more about her, i.e., if she is in fact a Zainichi or not — there is a difference between ippan eijuusha and tokubetsu eijuusha, after all, and that will be noted by any legal exceptionalists who want to stop further positive precedent building). But the fact that she’s born here, raised here, speaks Japanese as her native language, and is approaching eighty years of age, yet STILL was denied benefits by heartless bureaucrats, backed up by the judiciary, is more than a bit scary. If this gets appealed to the Supreme Court (after all, the GOJ is a sore loser in court), I hope the judges are in a good mood when they start deliberating. Maybe we should send them sweets.

    Posted in Exclusionism, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Lawsuits, 日本語 | 10 Comments »

    Mainichi & Yomiuri: Japanese ex-wife arrested in Hawaii on suspicion of abducting child from custodial father

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 28th October 2011

    Here’s some good news for Left-Behind Parents. The Americans are (unusually, according to the Mainichi and Yomiuri below) enforcing their arrest warrants against Japanese child abductors. In this case, against a Japanese woman who reportedly absconded with the kid off to Japan and, despite a US court awarding the father custody, then used the time-honored tactic of abducting the kid anyway and getting a Japanese court to award her the kid instead regardless (with a gracious 30-day per year visitation allowed; thanks a heap). Then she carelessly decided to have her cake and eat it too, by coming back to the US to renew her Green Card, whereupon the authorities honored the arrest warrant against her, leaving the kid in limbo with the grandparents in Japan.

    Not an unusual story (especially since the Japanese media once again refuses to use the word “abduction” in conjunction with any of this — just “taking without permission”; sounds much better), except that the Americans are now finally taking action regarding child abductions to Japan, honoring court decisions despite Japan’s vehemently guarding its safe-haven status for international child abduction.

    Let’s see how the Japanese media further spins this; I doubt it’ll run against Team-Japanism. But already the editorial slant in the articles below is that signing the Hague Treaty will (somehow) prevent this, in defiance of all the Japanese safe-haveners that want to either not sign it, or caveat it with DV provisions into meaninglessness. Anyway, throw the book at her. This sort of thing has gone on long enough.

    Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, 日本語 | 11 Comments »

    Reuters on Olympus Japan corruption issue: It takes a NJ whistleblowing CEO to uncover it, yet he gets sacked for “cultural reasons”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 26th October 2011

    This is still a growing issue, and there’s an excellent Reuters article below to hang this blog post on. Consider the case of Michael Woodford, a Brit hired more than thirty years ago by Japanese firm Olympus, with the superhuman tenacity to work his way up to the post of CEO (not hired, as are many of the famous NJ executives in Japanese companies, as an international prestige appointment). The presumption is that his appointment was because Mr Woodford would be different — there are plenty of Japanese corporate drones who would have gladly not rocked the boat for a quiet life and comfortable salary. But when he actually does something different, such as uncover and question possible corporate malfeasance, he gets fired because “his style of management was incompatible with traditional Japanese practices”. This of course, as further investigations finally gather traction, calls into practice the cleanliness of those traditional Japanese corporate practices. And it looks like the only way to get them investigated properly in Japan is to take the issue to overseas regulators (this is, after all, an international company, if only in the sense that it has international holdings, but now beholden to international standards). Not to mention the Japanese media (which, as the article alludes to below, is once again asleep at its watchdog position). None of this is surprising to the Old Japan Hands, especially those let anywhere close to Japanese corporate boardrooms, who see this nest feathering as a normal, nay, an obvious part of Japanese corporate culture the higher and richer you go. But woe betide the NJ whistleblower — perpetually in a vulnerable position for being of the wrong race and for not doing what he’s told like a good little gaijin. After all, there’s peer pressure behind membership in “Team Japan”, and as soon as it’s convenient, the race/culture card gets pulled by the crooks to excuse themselves. I’m just glad Mr. Woodford had the guts to do what he did. I doubt it’ll result in a system-wide cleanup (the rot is too systemic and entrenched, and few watch the watchers in corporatist Japan). But you gotta start somewhere, since exposure of corruption must be seen to be becoming commonplace in post-Fukushima Japan. Bravo Mr. Woodford, and expose away.

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Good News, Ironies & Hypocrisies, NJ legacies, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 36 Comments »

    Tangent: I’ve shed fifty pounds (23 kgs) since April 2011

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 3rd October 2011

    As a complete tangent for today, I just wanted to share what I consider to be very happy news.

    I’ve been dieting with guidance since April 1, 2011. Back then, I tipped the scales at a massive 265.3 pounds (120.6 kgs). It was the product of a steady upcline of maybe 1-2 kgs a year, slow enough over the decades to be barely noticeable save for magically-shrinking belts and the occasional sore back. After all, life was too short (and stressful) to forgo good meals (the norm in Japan just about anytime, anywhere).

    But I had to draw a line somewhere. People simply can’t keep gaining weight until they pop. So from April 1, I went on a supervised diet of 1800 kcal per day (no more or else I won’t lose weight at a decent clip, no less because at my height and body type I will go into starvation mode, meaning my metabolism will drop and I won’t lose weight again). A “decent clip” defined as about two pounds per week, I have manage to lose weight every week since then (except for a month I was travelling, and successfully managed to keep my net weight steady (as in, no gain) for that full month despite all the booze and culinary temptations of eating out).

    So over time this has been a mathematical process. And as of this week I’ve reached one milestone I’m very proud of.

    I’ve shed a total of fifty pounds (22.7 kgs). Actually, as of this morning I weighed in at 213.4 lbs (96.8 kgs), so more than that.

    It’s uncanny how much better I feel. I can get out of cars without feeling extra gravity. I can sleep on my stomach (my preferred pose, thanks to months of outdoor Boy Scout camping in high altitudes) without getting a sore back. I psychologically feel more empowered and in control of my life. And I look significantly different (here are some photos):

    Posted in Good News, Tangents | 18 Comments »