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

mytest

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

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Courtesy of Shingetsu News Agency, Dec 1, 2018:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But it added: “Because the experiences of comfort women in different areas throughout the course of the war varied widely, from today, we will refer to ‘comfort women’ as ‘women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers’.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

That prompted a Cuban complaint.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nikkei: Japanese-Brazilians snub Tokyo’s diaspora residency program, attracting exactly ZERO applications after starting 3 months ago

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s the latest installment of what I like to call “the jig is up” phenomenon affecting Japan’s public policy, specifically the one that is trying to maintain Japan’s exploitative “revolving-door” NJ labor market.

The Nihon Keizai Shinbun has given us an inadvertently amusing article about how the government’s latest policy U-turn towards the Nikkei Brazilian Community (whom they officially bribed to leave Japan a decade ago), and how this wheeze simply isn’t working.  ZERO applicants applied for a special labor program in three months.  Even though the NJ resident population is at an all-time postwar high, some people have learned their lesson:  don’t come to Japan just to be exploited and then summarily sent home.  More comment from Debito.org Reader and Submitter Gulf below the article.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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Japanese-Brazilians snub Tokyo’s diaspora residency program
Effort to bring over young workers attracts zero applications in 3 months
By NAOYUKI TOYAMA, Nikkei staff writer
October 25, 2018, Courtesy of Gulf
https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Japanese-Brazilians-snub-Tokyo-s-diaspora-residency-program

SAO PAULO — Japan’s new residency program for fourth-generation Japanese descendants living overseas did not attract a single Japanese-Brazilian applicant in its first three months.

The program, launched in July, allows descendants ranging in age from 18 to 30 to stay in Japan for up to five years and perform specific types of work. The goal is to ease Japan’s labor shortage, and the Justice Ministry initially expected to accept 4,000 people a year. But the Japanese Embassy and consulates in Brazil had not received any applications as of the end of September.

The South American country is home to the largest ethnic Japanese community abroad.

Potential applicants may be put off by the limited period of stay, as well as restrictions on bringing family members along and required certification of Japanese fluency.

The limitations contrast with the rights granted to second- and third-generation Japanese-Brazilians, who are free to live and work in Japan with residency status granted under a 1990 immigration law revision.

Japanese-Brazilian communities are dotted around Japan. Many residents work in the manufacturing sector. But their numbers are in decline: After surging from 170,000 in 1991 to a peak of 310,000 in 2007, the population dropped to 190,000 at the end of 2017 due to a sluggish economy and other domestic factors.

Despite the need for new sources of labor, Japan’s government has insisted participants in the program would not be considered immigrants. An organization representing Japanese descendants in Brazil blasted Japan for “treating Japanese-Brazilians, who are their compatriots, as unskilled workers for a limited period.”
ENDS

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COMMENT FROM SUBMITTER GULF: I shouldn’t laugh, but in a way it’s a relief that there aren’t any takers. I have relatives in Brazil and I lived there when I was 5 and 6 years old. It’s actually the reason I came to know Japanese culture and decided to study the language.

To be fair I doubt there are many 4th generation Nikkeis that speak Japanese, if any. But of course the poor conditions on offer certainly aren’t an incentive to learn their ancestral language.

Thank you as always for your efforts and for keeping up the site as a 20+ year old archive on human rights in Japan. –Sincerely, GULF.

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Nikkei Asian Review: “In rural Japan, immigrants spark a rebirth”. An optimistic antidote to the regular media Gaijin Bashing

mytest

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Hi Blog.  As an antidote to the program talked about last blog entry, where hunting NJ for public amusement and sport became yet another TV show, here’s a relatively rare article showing the good that NJ do for Japanese society:  revitalizing communities that are dying, as they age and endure an exodus of their young to more prosperous cities.  The article is a bit too optimistic to be realistic (given that all this progress could be undone with a simple mass cancellation of visas and government repatriation bribes; the former has happened multiple times in Japan’s history), but I’d rather have the article than not.  Have a look and tell us what you think.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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In rural Japan, immigrants spark a rebirth
Newcomers fill the labor and tax void as young Japanese bolt to Tokyo
YUSUKE SAKURAI, Nikkei staff writer
March 21, 2018
https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/In-rural-Japan-immigrants-spark-a-rebirth

PHOTO CAPTION:  Nearly half the students at Keiwa Elementary School in Tsu, Mie Prefecture, have at least one parent from another country.

(Courtesy of this Nikkei article)

TOKYO — In roughly three decades, the number of foreign residents in Japan has grown to 2.47 million, from just 980,000 in 1989. So while this period will go down in history as the time the country’s population went into decline, it has also brought an unprecedented influx of newcomers from abroad.

Tagalog, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, Indonesian: The students at Keiwa Elementary School in the southwestern prefecture of Mie speak nine different languages at home. But at school they use Japanese.

“This is how you draw an equilateral pentagon,” one non-Japanese sixth-grader said nonchalantly in February. “Can you pass me a protractor?” asked another. Their fluent Japanese had no detectable accent.

Nearly half the school’s 250 students belong to at least one non-Japanese parent, making the school a microcosm of rural Japan’s new diversity.

The subject of Japanese demographics calls to mind an aging society, a falling birthrate, population decline and rural decay. And yet, under the radar, the increase in immigration has been changing pockets of the country, energizing smaller municipalities that were desperate for labor and tax revenue.

There was a time when Keiwa Elementary’s student body had dwindled to just one-seventh of its peak. But thanks partly to a rise in the number of foreign residents working in the nearby Chukyo industrial area, its classrooms are buzzing again.

Kevin Sahayan, a student from the Philippines, said he started learning Japanese when he enrolled in third grade, upon his arrival in the country. “Now that I have learned Japanese, I have more friends and I have fun playing soccer after school,” the 12-year-old said.

“Guess which nationality I am!” children asked as, one after another, they pulled the sleeve of this puzzled reporter.

“You probably won’t get it so I will tell you. I’m half-Filipina and half-Japanese. That girl over there is Japanese, and that one there …,” explained student Ai Maruyama. Asked whether she feels “different” in the environment, she said, “No, not at all.”

In Mie, overall, the number of non-Japanese newcomers more than offset that of residents who moved to Tokyo last year — 5,999 versus 5,907.

This is no small point, considering that the government is struggling to stop the hollowing out of regional industry. Nationwide, around 120,000 people relocated to the Tokyo area in 2017, mainly for education or work, according to the internal affairs ministry. It was the fourth straight year in which the figure topped 100,000, even though the government aims to reduce it to zero by 2020.

But in Gifu and Shiga prefectures, which are adjacent to Mie, increases in residents from abroad made up for 80% of departures in 2017.

In Gifu, local housing company Sunshow Industry has been helping non-Japanese residents purchase homes for five years. Its office in the city of Kani has a sign at the entrance in Portuguese, inviting passers-by to come in for a consultation. Twenty-percent of its customers are foreign nationals.

One Sunday in February, a Brazilian man came in, looking for a house that would be big enough for his family. “I have kids aged 20 and 18, so I want a house where we can have lots of breathing space,” said the 43-year-old crane operator, who has lived in Japan for about two decades.

Sunshow started catering to international residents, mainly from Latin America, as more and more came to work at a Sony subsidiary’s plant in the city of Minokamo. Unlike the kids at Keiwa Elementary, though, adults are not always so quick to overlook differences.

Five years ago, if a Latin American tried to settle in their neighborhood, there would be many residents who would protest it,” said Toshiyuki Shiraki, who finds land for Sunshow. In some cases, the hostility persisted even after international workers moved in. A major point of contention was seemingly minor: some newcomers’ failure to separate their trash in accordance with the rules.

But Shiraki said the tensions appear to have largely subsided, after a greater effort was made to explain the local ways. Now, Japanese residents seem less averse to sharing their neighborhoods.

Even now, foreign residents make up only about 2% of Japan’s population of 127 million, but in certain places the ratio is quite a bit higher. It exceeds 5% in 31 municipalities; the town of Oizumi, in Gunma Prefecture, had the highest share of 17% as of January.

Three municipalities, including Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward and the northern village of Shimukappu in Hokkaido, had ratios over 10%.

Other communities have taken notice of how foreign residents offer vital manpower for companies and more tax revenue for local governments. Some are actively courting immigrants.

The Hokkaido town of Higashikawa set up a Japanese language school to encourage young foreign residents to come, particularly those from other parts of Asia, like Taiwan. This is the first school of its kind run by a Japanese municipality.

The city of Mimasaka, in the western prefecture of Okayama, plans to open a sister school of Vietnam’s University of Danang.

Foreign nationals tend to gravitate to places where their children are likely to receive better education. Mie — home to Keiwa Elementary — is a testament to this. The prefecture is gaining a reputation for supporting students born to non-Japanese parents. “Mieko san no Nihongo,” a textbook for teaching classroom Japanese developed by the Mie International Exchange Foundation, has proved useful in this regard and is now used in elementary and junior high schools nationwide.

According to the Ministry of Education, the number of students requiring additional instruction in the Japanese language at public elementary and junior high schools topped 30,000 for the first time in the year ended March 2017.

The central government, too, is looking to bring more foreign workers into the country. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month said his government will design a reform plan for this purpose by the summer. Yet Abe is not exactly jumping in with both feet — the policy will not encourage permanent settlement, with a cap to be placed on the maximum stay and restrictions on bringing family members along.

Even so, Japan is far more diverse than it was in 1950, when there were only 600,000 residents from overseas. From large cities to tiny villages, Japanese grow ever more accustomed to mingling with their fellow global citizens. And the newcomers are breathing life into communities that looked destined to fade.
ENDS

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

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

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

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

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

INTRO: Seeking elusive answers to a big question

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This sentiment was echoed by Chris.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
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Hi Blog. “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” has been receiving acclaim.   Prominent Japan Scholar Tessa Morris-Suzuki calls it “important, courageous and challenging“, the Pacific Affairs journal finds it “a timely and important contribution to social and scholarly debates about racial discrimination in Japan“, the Japan Studies Association of Canada says it is “an important contribution to geography, cultural and area studies“, and the Sociology and Ethnic Studies imprint of the American Sociological Association calls it “a brave critique of Japanese society and its failure to look outward in its demographic and economic development, … as it makes an important contribution for those wishing to understand racism in Japan better… The book would easily suit courses that address global conceptions of race and ethnicity and how these are changing in Japan at both the micro and macro levels because of globalization.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks very much as always for reading! Dr. Debito Arudou

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

ENDS

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

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

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

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

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

The poster in higher resolution (click to expand):

========================================
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Hi Blog. The GOJ is starting to take NJ influx more seriously now, with a ministerial upgrade (from Bureau to Agency). When it becomes a full-fledged Ministry that explicitly says “Immigration” in it (as in, Imin-Shou), not a “Bureau/Agency for Processing National Influx” (which is what the Nyuukoku Kanri Kyoku literally is), with an actual Immigration Policy, then Debito.org will be a bit more cheery.  That raises hope that the GOJ will someday actually want NJ to stay and become productive members of society and citizens, not revolving-door visa recipients.  But baby steps for now. What say Debito.org Readers about this? Dr. Debito Arudou

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Japan will overhaul Immigration Bureau to create agency for expected surge of blue-collar workers under new status
BY SAKURA MURAKAMI. THE JAPAN TIMES/KYODO, AUG 28, 2018
Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/08/28/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-set-immigration-agency-cope-influx-blue-collar-ranks-abroad-new-status/

The Justice Ministry will upgrade its Immigration Bureau to an agency from April to deal with an anticipated influx of foreign workers, Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa said at a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

With the government seeking to accept more foreign workers from April and introducing a new status of residence amid a serious labor crunch across industries, the Justice Ministry will be conducting “a fundamental revision of the Immigration Bureau” and is currently finalizing the establishment of a new agency that will oversee immigration, Kamikawa said. […]

Media has reported that the upgrade of the bureau will see an increase of over 500 ministry staff and immigration officers, with the latter expected to help the country boost checks for inbound tourists ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Reports have also said that the ministry will be requesting about ¥3 billion within their fiscal 2019 budget for outlays related to the overhaul. […]

The upgrade of the Immigration Bureau comes as Japan, facing a declining population and shrinking workforce, plans to open the door to blue-collar laborers from abroad, in addition to the currently accepted highly skilled foreigners, by introducing a new resident status.

The new system will allow foreign nationals who are proficient speakers of Japanese to work in agriculture, construction, hospitality, nursing and shipbuilding, and may be expanded to other sectors.

The government has so far confirmed that foreign workers will not be able to bring family members under the new residency status, and that their stay will be limited to five years.

According to figures provided by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, the number of registered foreign workers in the nation hit a record high of 1.28 million in October 2017 — a twofold increase from the 486,398 foreign nationals seen in 2008.

On the other hand, the number of people in Japan aged between 15 to 64 who are capable of working decreased from 86.99 million in 1997 to 76.65 million in 2016, according to data submitted to the Council of Economic Fiscal Policy in February.

Information from Kyodo News added. Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/08/28/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-set-immigration-agency-cope-influx-blue-collar-ranks-abroad-new-status/

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GOJ sets targets for importing even more NJ temp labor, Kyodo editorializes on how badly Japan needs NJ

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. Debito Arudou (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. It’s funny. Debito.org has been charting for decades just how much Japan reflexively distrusts NJ, and wants them in and out of here as soon as possible without settling down (hence no official immigration policy). Yet, in case you wonder why this is still an issue, here’s yet another article demonstrating why Japan NEEDS NJ labor, and intends to import even more (and as ever, temporarily):

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Government sets target for 10,000 Vietnamese caregivers, needs additional 550,000 by 2025
KYODO/Japan Times JUL 25, 2018
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/07/25/national/government-sets-target-10000-vietnamese-caregivers-needs-additional-550000-2025/

The government has set a target of accepting 10,000 Vietnamese caregivers by the summer of 2020 to address a chronic labor shortage in the nursing sector, an official said Wednesday.

Japan first aims to receive 3,000 Vietnamese carers within one year through an existing training program for foreigners, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Due to the country’s rapidly graying population, the labor ministry estimates a need for an additional 550,000 caregivers in fiscal 2025 compared to the fiscal 2016 total… Japan is also considering inviting caregivers from other countries, including Indonesia and Cambodia, the official said.

As of March last year, there were roughly 1.9 million carers in Japan. The labor ministry estimates Japan will need about 2.45 million care workers in fiscal 2025, at which point the people belonging to the baby boomer generation born in the late 1940s will all be 75 years or older, meaning the need for nursing care service will almost certainly increase…

In a related development, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday that Japan aims to accept more foreign workers from April next year by creating a new residency status. To fill labor shortages not just in nursing care but also in other sectors including agriculture and manufacturing, the government has suggested it may begin admitting hundreds of thousands of blue-collar workers from abroad.

Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/07/25/national/government-sets-target-10000-vietnamese-caregivers-needs-additional-550000-2025/

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COMMENT: Oddly enough (or rather, not so oddly), Japan’s corporate sector is again asking for more cheap labor without taking into account that they are importing people, not raw materials. And of course, as argued below in the second Kyodo JT article on the same day, there is at best mumbled support for actual immigration.

This isn’t a sustainable long-term strategy, and everybody knows it. But they go through the kabuki for as long as possible. I daresay someday soon somebody will advocate Middle-Eastern-Oil-Countries’ style labor importation (where foreigners do all the work, and wind up outnumbering the leisured citizen class), since we’ve already had one major Japanese pundit crazily arguing for instituting South-African-style Apartheid in Japan. Except for one problem with ever considering an oil-economy model: Japan is not an oil economy. And again, Japan’s other silly policy balloon — robotizing society — doesn’t work either because robots don’t pay taxes.

In sum, Debito.org advocates that Japan consider a real immigration policy to make NJ migrants into permanent residents and citizens. It’s the only way, as myself and the UN (not to mention the Japanese Government itself!) have argued for decades, to avert Japan’s otherwise unavoidable demographic crisis. Dr. Debito Arudou

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Japan faces challenges as it moves to accept more foreign workers
KYODO/Japan Times JUL 25, 2018
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/07/25/national/japan-faces-challenges-moves-accept-foreign-workers/

Japan’s move toward opening its doors to more foreign workers is widely seen as a must to better cope with an expected shrinkage in the working population.

Potentially broadening the scope of non-Japanese workers accepted into a country that for years has kept a firm grip on immigration would also mark a major policy change.

But the challenges facing an aging Japan are manifold as observers call for a clear-cut rather than makeshift approach, and stress the need to create a society easier for foreign nationals to live and work in.

“It’s a natural turn of events” to accept more foreign workers, said Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives.

“Given the situation Japan is in and its future, we’ve already entered a phase in which we need to seek help not just from highly skilled workers,” Kobayashi said at a news conference Tuesday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed Cabinet ministers the same day to make preparations to accept more foreign workers by offering a new residential status starting next April.

The plan being considered would set a five-year limit on residence under the new status.

That may help conservatives, a major support base for Abe, but observers say the country needs to have a serious immigration debate for its future.

The country had a record 1.28 million foreign workers as of October last year. Chinese workers made up the largest portion, at nearly 30 percent, ahead of workers from Vietnam, the Philippines and Brazil, according to government data.

Currently, there are limited paths offered to work legally. Foreign nationals are given residential status to work in fields such as education, business management, law and health care.

Those coming under a 1993 program designed to impart technical skills can also work in the country but critics see it as encouraging simple and cheap labor.

The government “should have created a system to accept foreign workers seriously in the first place. In this sense, (the envisaged introduction of a new residential status) is a step forward,” said Shoichi Ibusuki, a lawyer well-versed in foreign labor issues.

But he also raises questions about the plan to, in principle, impose a five-year cap on stays and to bar foreign workers from bringing in family members.

“It’s unacceptable from a humanitarian perspective (for foreign workers) to live far from their family members for five years,” Ibusuki said.

The potential policy change may be long overdue.

No time can be spared amid increased tightness in the labor market. In 2017, job availability rose to its highest in 44 years, with 150 jobs available for every 100 job seekers.

Still, one senior labor ministry official expressed concern about the practice of paying unfairly low wages to foreign workers.

“Not only would it not benefit the foreign workers themselves, but it could also take jobs away from Japanese workers,” the official said.

For companies, particularly small- and mid-sized companies being forced to hunt for workers, the prospect of paving the way for more foreign labor is a positive development.

Takashi Yamauchi, who heads the Japan Federation of Construction Contractors, hailed the government move as “timely” as the construction sector is expected to see increased demand in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The number of foreign workers has already been rising in recent years and the uptrend will likely continue if the government’s new plan goes through.

At convenience store operator FamilyMart Co., for instance, non-Japanese workers account for some 5 percent of its roughly 200,000 workers.

But sectoral gaps have yet to be bridged. Sectors such as nursing care that are in desperate need of labor have faced difficulty in securing workers.

With the rapid aging of the population appearing to pick up pace, the government has increased the number of options for foreign nationals to land nursing care jobs.

Labor shortages could also sap economic growth over the longer term — bad news for Abe, who has been trying to revive the world’s third-largest economy with his “Abenomics” policy mix.

The government aims to realize a society in which both Japanese and non-Japanese people can coexist and plans to draw up measures to help foreign nationals learn Japanese and find housing.

As of April this year, 46 percent of local governments had crafted guidelines or plans designed for foreign nationals, with action depending on the percentage of non-Japanese residents.

Meanwhile, proposals have been floated to reorganize the Immigration Bureau and create a Justice Ministry-affiliated agency to handle low-skilled foreign nationals.

“It should go beyond simply enforcing immigration controls. I hope it will play a role in assisting foreign workers living in Japan in a comprehensive manner,” said Toshihiro Menju, a senior official at the Japan Center for International Exchange.
ENDS

============================
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Kyodo/Mainichi: Japan increases “nuclear security” before 2019 Rugby World Cup, 2020 Olympics (again, insinuating NJ are potential terrorists)

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. Debito Arudou (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Entry #715 in the continuing saga of Japan’s “Blame Game”, where Non-Japanese are falsely blamed for all manner of unrelated things.  According to the article below, this time it’s potential “nuclear security” issues, with measures taken to prevent “intruders” from getting their hands on “radioactive materials”, by putting them “in rooms with solid doors” — as recommended by the IAEA back in January 2011.

All sensible precautions.  Yet the GOJ has taken its time to implement them, even in light of the Tohoku Earthquake and Fukushima Disasters in March 2011.  It’s only suddenly seeing the light because of “intruders”, clearly in this case meaning NJ coming to Japan during the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  Clearly?  Yes.  You’re telling me Japan didn’t have issues of “intruders” before this?  It does have “terrorists”, but so far they’ve all been Japanese (i.e., Aum, The Red Army, etc).

As I wrote in my Japan Times column last week, “Japan invites over waves of foreign nationals (be they workers, tourists or diplomats), hate speech and reactionary policies emerge.”  I mentioned there about the weird new minpaku laws stopping AirBnB style homestays with the general public (because NJ might be ISIS terrorists or child molesters!).  This new policy has a similar Embedded Racism, and it’s unproblematized in the article below.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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Japan to beef up nuclear security before Rugby World Cup, Olympics
July 11, 2018 (Mainichi Japan), Courtesy of JDG
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180711/p2g/00m/0dm/106000c

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s nuclear watchdog decided Wednesday to oblige facilities using any of about 200 radioactive materials to introduce antitheft measures to enhance nuclear security ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

As part of the country’s efforts to boost counterterrorism steps before hosting the major sporting events, the government will aim at enforcing related laws in September 2019, in time for the Rugby tourney kicking off on Sept. 20 that year, which would cover some 500 business operators, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said.

Hospitals and companies and the like would be required to install surveillance cameras near their storage sites for radioactive materials. The containers must be kept in rooms with solid doors and manuals and communication equipment must be provided for personnel to deal with intruders, to prevent such materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.

Nuclear power plants have already introduced a personal background investigation system to prevent potential terrorists from being hired as workers.

According to the NRA, the planned regulation would cover radioactive substances including cesium 137 and cobalt 60, which are widely used for medical and industrial purposes, but which could be used in so-called dirty bombs.

Amid the globally mounting threat of terrorism, the International Atomic Energy Agency advised countries in January 2011 to take measures to better manage radioactive materials.

Tokyo, however, has yet to introduce these steps due to its need to deal with the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

In Brazil, instruments for radiation therapy were taken away from the former site of a hospital and then dismantled. But it led to large-scale exposure and the deaths of four people in 1987.
ENDS

【Related】Nuclear watchdog OKs restart of aging nuclear plant hit by tsunami
【Related】Editorial: Time to transform Japan’s nuclear plant inspection system
【Related】Japan drops in Hiroshima Report [an annual evaluation of atomic disarmament efforts among 36 nuclear- and non-nuclear-armed states] rankings due to refusal to sign nuclear ban treaty

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

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Japan lowering age of adulthood to from age 20 to 18 in 2022: Also means Japan’s dual nationals now must declare by age 20, not 22.

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. In mid-April the Japanese Government did something rather landmark: For the first time in more than a century, it passed a bill lowering the age of adulthood by two years; meaning that by April 2022, people fresh out of high school (or some who haven’t graduated yet) can now vote and apply for credit cards/loans (although still they cannot drink, smoke or gamble; that permission stays the same at age 20). It also means that the criminals classified as “juvenile offenders” (with more lenient penalties) can now be tried as adults, and that both men and women can now equally marry at age 18.

More in the Japan Times at
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/13/national/crime-legal/japan-enacts-law-lower-adulthood-age-18/

Where this matters to Debito.org is how Japan’s international citizens are to be treated. Before, legally Japanese with two citizenships (e.g., Japanese children of international marriages) would have to choose one (since Japan does not permit dual nationality) at age twenty, with a two-year grace period. Now that requirement has likewise been shifted down to 18 with a grace period up to age 20.

For those who are facing that choice, Debito.org, in its HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS AND IMMIGRANTS, recommends that dual nationals declare their citizenship as “Japanese” and keep quietly renewing their non-Japanese passport. There is no way for the Japanese Government to force you to surrender your foreign passport (as it is the property of the foreign government), or to get information on your citizenship status from foreign governments.  Be advised. Nothing has changed in this regard except that youths have to make an identity choice at a more youthful age.

Speaking of that quiet option to choose both citizenships, let me steer Debito.org readers to an insightful Japan Times feature that came out a few months ago, including interviews of Japan’s international children and their reactions and strategies.
http://features.japantimes.co.jp/dualcitizenship/

Dr. Debito Arudou

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Reuters/Asahi: New “minpaku” law stifles homesharing with tourists, on grounds insinuating foreigners are “unsafe” for children walking to school! (or ISIS terrorists)

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Here’s a new twist to the “Blame Game” often played whenever there’s a foreigner involved with any economy in Japan.  I started talking about this in earnest in my Japan Times column of August 28, 2007, where I pointed out how NJ were being falsely blamed for crime, SDF security breaches, unfair advantages in sports, education disruptions, shipping disruptions, and even labor shortages (!!).  That soon expanded to false accusations of workplace desertion (remember the fictitious “flyjin” phenomenon of 2011?) and looting, despoiling sumo and fish markets, and even for crime committed by Japanese!  More here.

Now we have recycled claims of disruptive NJ tourism.  But as submitter JDG points out, this time it’s getting mean.  In the same vein of a World Cup 2002 Miyagi Prefectural Assemblyman’s claim that visiting foreigners would rape Japanese women and sire children, we have official insinuations at the local government level that renting your apartment or room out to NJ would be “unsafe” — not only for Japanese in the neighborhood, but for children walking to school in Shibuya!  (Or, according to the JT update below, NJ might be ISIS terrorists.)  At this point, this is hate speech.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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In Japan, new rules may leave Airbnb industry out in the cold
REUTERS/ASAHI SHINBUN, April 23, 2018,  courtesy of JDG, with underlined emphases added
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201804230010.html

Japan’s new home-sharing law was meant to ease a shortage of hotel rooms, bring order to an unregulated market and offer more lodging options for foreign visitors ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Instead, the law is likely to stifle Airbnb Inc. and other home-sharing businesses when it is enacted in June and force many homeowners to stop offering their services, renters and experts say.

The “minpaku,” or private temporary lodging law, the first national legal framework for short-term home rental in Asia, limits home-sharing to 180 days a year, a cap some hosts say makes it difficult to turn a profit.

More important, local governments, which have final authority to regulate services in their areas, are imposing even more severe restrictions, citing security or noise concerns.

For example, Tokyo’s Chuo Ward, home to the tony Ginza shopping district, has banned weekday rentals on grounds that allowing strangers into apartment buildings during the week could be unsafe.

That’s a huge disappointment for Airbnb “superhost” Mika, who asked that her last name not be used because home-renting is now officially allowed only in certain zones.

She has enjoyed hosting international visitors in her spare two-bedroom apartment but will stop because her building management has decided to ban the service ahead of the law’s enactment.

“I was able to meet many different people I would have not met otherwise,” said Mika, 53, who started renting out her apartment after she used a home-sharing service overseas. “I may sell my condo.”

Mika added that if she were to rent the apartment out on a monthly basis, she would only make one-third of what she does from short-term rentals.

The ancient capital of Kyoto, which draws more than 50 million tourists a year, will allow private lodging in residential areas only between Jan. 15 and March 16, avoiding the popular spring and fall tourist seasons.

Similarly, Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya Ward will permit home-sharing services in residential areas only during school holidays, with certain exceptions, so children won’t meet strangers on their way to class.

In short, renters and experts say, the new law is doing more to hurt than help, even as a record 28.7 million tourists flocked to Japan last year, up 19 percent from the year before. Japan aims to host 40 million foreign tourists a year by 2020.

Yasuhiro Inaoka, who manages about 15 properties for Airbnb hosts in Tokyo, says the net effect of the law is “banning individuals from offering home lodging.”

‘STRANGE PRACTICE’

Central government officials say that excessive local limits could defeat the law’s objectives, but that they cannot force local governments to loosen their policies.

Restricting home rental due to vague concerns that foreigners are unsafe or that it is a strange practice goes against the concept of the new law,” said Soichi Taguchi, an official at the government’s Tourism Agency.

The annual cap of 180 days for home sharing and stricter rules set by local governments is a victory for the hotel industry, which opposes private properties being used for tourist accommodation.

“While each city and town is unique, we believe that by following the national recommendations, all Japanese cities and communities will be able to benefit from the growing economic opportunity provided by home sharing and short-term rentals,” said Jake Wilczynski, spokesman for Airbnb in Asia Pacific.

About 62,000 Airbnb listings have sprung up in Japan, far smaller than other major tourist destinations, such as Italy, which has 354,400 listings, or France, with 490,000.

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore allows home sharing, but requires a minimum period of three months. Two Airbnb hosts were fined S$60,000 ($45,800 or 4.9 million yen) each by a local court in April for unauthorized short-term letting.

Hyakusenrenma Inc., a Japanese rival to Airbnb, has 2,000 listings for its “Stay Japan” service, and online travel agency Booking Holdings’s Booking.com and Chinese agents have also entered the Japanese market.

The new law requires home owners to register rental properties for short-term stays with the local government by undergoing fire safety checks and submitting proof that the owner is not mentally disturbed.

San Francisco-based Airbnb said it would obey the new law and remove all the non-compliant listings from its site by June.

But the company is also confident the number of listings will bounce back and eventually exceed the current level because Japan still has a great deal of potential to expand, said country manager Yasuyuki Tanabe.

“We will have clear rules for home lodging, which will encourage more people to list their properties,” Tanabe said.

HOTEL LICENSE

One alternative for home renters is to apply for a hotel license. That process has been simplified to relax requirements for a reception area and no longer mandate a minimum number of rooms.

One 42-year-old man who asked not to be named has gone this route. He stopped renting out Airbnb apartments in Tokyo and instead obtained a license to run a five-room hotel out of a converted traditional wooden “machiya” house in Kyoto.

He still advertises on his property in Kyoto on Airbnb and the hotel license frees him from the 180-day limit.

“With the hotel license I can provide the service all year round,” he said.

But for many, this isn’t an option because their buildings won’t allow home-sharing at all, regardless of licensing.

When the land ministry asked apartment management unions to decide whether to permit short-term rentals, only 0.3 percent of them nationwide said they would, according to the Condominium Management Association.
ENDS
==============================

UPDATE JUN 30:

— Japan Times also reports on the backlash to this policy, with the same undertones, except this time foreigners might be “terrorists”. Excerpt:

Implementation of minpaku laws lambasted
The Japan Times, June 30, 2018
BY MARK SCHREIBER
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/30/national/media-national/implementation-minpaku-laws-lambasted/

[…]
On its morning program on June 15, NHK Radio chimed in with its own justification for the crackdown on minpaku. Citing the Nov. 13, 2015, attacks by ISIS terrorists in Paris in which 130 people were killed and another 413 injured, the broadcast implied that minpaku might serve as a base for terrorists — despite there being no evidence that the attackers in France had availed themselves of online booking services.

Nevertheless, at the urging of the Metropolitan Police Department ahead of the 2020 Olympics, minpaku hosts will be encouraged to report any “suspicious behavior” on the part of guests, including refusing to allow their passport to be photocopied, referring to a memo or other separate document when transcribing their own name or address, or when the actual number of staying guests turns out to vary from what was initially reserved.

“It’s possible terrorists will choose to stay at minpaku, where identification checks are vague,” explained Isao Itabashi, head of the Research Center at the Council for Public Policy, during the broadcast, adding, “So it’s important that along with sharing data on suspicious guests, the minpaku operators liaise closely with the police.”

Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/30/national/media-national/implementation-minpaku-laws-lambasted/
==============================

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NHK World: Japan’s social media “rife” with fake rumors after recent Osaka quake, including foreigner “thefts and burglaries”, “looting convenience stores”. Again.

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. Here’s NHK reporting on the spread of false information on Japan’s social media about foreigners committing crimes in the wake of June 18’s Osaka earthquake. Comment follows the article:

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

Post-quake social media rife with fake news
NHK World, Tuesday, June 18, 2018. Courtesy of JDG.
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180618_31/

Osaka prefectural officials are urging people to keep calm and refrain from sharing unsubstantiated information on social media after Monday’s earthquake.

One widely shared tweet claimed the roof of the Kyocera Dome Osaka stadium is cracked. The operator denies this.

Other cases of false information include a train derailment and a zebra escaping from a zoo.

Messages inciting discrimination against foreigners living in Japan are also spreading.

One post advises people to watch out for thefts and burglaries by foreign residents. Another says foreigners are not accustomed to quakes, so they will start looting convenience stores or rushing to airports.

Social media users are posting messages to counter the discriminatory ones.

One user says people should be aware that racists use major disasters to spread false information.

Another says fake news spreads during disasters, and that people need to improve their media literacy so they can detect false information.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////

COMMENT:  It seems like earthquakes in Japan (although depicted as orderly, stoic affairs in Western media) are for some internet denizens a call to create a live-action version of the movie “The Purge“.  Debito.org has reported numerous times in the past on how false rumors of NJ residents have spread through Japan’s social media — to the point where even the generally “hands-off-because-it’s-free-speech-and-besides-it-only-affects-foreigners” Japanese government has had to intervene to tamp down on it (since, according to a 2017 Mainichi poll, 80% of people surveyed believed the rumors!).  I’m glad to see the Osaka government is intervening here too.

By the way, if you think I’m exaggerating by making a connection to movie “The Purge” in this blog, recall your history:  The massacre of Korean Residents in the wake of the 1923 Kantou Earthquake was precisely “The Purge”.  And what happened in the aftermath of the Fukushima Multiple Disasters of March 11, 2011 (where foreigners were being blamed online for all manner of unconnected events, including the earthquake itself) was similarly redolent (albeit less deadly, thank heavens).  As were mudslides in Hiroshima back in 2014.  And that’s before we get to then-newly-elected racist Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro’s famous call in the year 2000 for a priori roundups of “evil foreigners committing heinous crimes” in the event of a natural disaster.  So much for the stoicism. Dr. Debito Arudou

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

=======================
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JT and Nikkei: Japan to offer longer stays for “Trainees”, but with contract lengths that void qualifying for Permanent Residency

mytest

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Hi Blog. As is within character since the early 1990s, Japan wants NJ workers to make up for labor shortages in Japan’s workforce, but remains unwilling to allow NJ migrant workers to become immigrants: to access the benefits of their labors and years of investment in Japan’s economy and society by allowing them to live in Japan.

No, once again, Japan would rather leach off the best years of NJs’ productive lives and then send them home. Except now GOJ policy explicitly wants them to stick around and be exploited ever longer (without their families, and with a built-in contract cut-off before they can qualify for Permanent Residency), again under the guise of the deadlyTraineeslave-wage labor program. Witness the JT article below. Dr. Debito Arudou

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

Japan looks to offer longer stays for technical interns, with caveats it hopes will limit immigration debate
The Japan Times, April 12, 2018 (excerpt). Courtesy of lots of people.
Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/04/12/national/sidestepping-wider-immigration-debate-japan-eyes-longer-stays-technical-interns/

Japan is weighing the creation of a new status of residence that would allow technical interns from abroad to stay longer in the country, as part of efforts to tackle severe labor shortages, sources said Wednesday.

But interns’ families would not be allowed to enter Japan — a provision meant to prevent the creation of the new status from leading to discussions on the sensitive issue of immigration, the sources said.

The status would allow those who have completed a five-year technical intern training program and meet certain requirements to stay and work for up to five additional years, the sources said. […]

With the technical intern training program intended to transfer skills abroad, interns currently must return to their home countries after a five-year stay. The new residency status would allow interns to stay in Japan to work for a maximum of five more years. The government plans to set requirements to obtain the status, including industry-specific ones, the sources said.

But according to a Nikkei business daily report [see below], trainees will still have to return to their home after their programs end, and then apply for the new residence status that would allow them to work again in Japan for a further five years.

This is apparently aimed at keeping trainees and interns from gaining eligibility to apply for permanent residency, for which one of the prerequisites is to be living in Japan for 10 years or more.

Those who have already completed the trainee program and returned to their home countries can also apply for the new status of residence, the report said.

The report also said that trainees with the new work permit would be able to gain highly-skilled professional status if they pass an examination, which would enable them to bring their families to Japan and to renew their visas.

The new work permit would be given to those working in nursing, agriculture and construction — sectors where labor shortages are most severely felt, the sources said.

Labor shortages are already severe, especially in the service sector. In 2017, there were 150 job openings for every 100 workers — the largest gap in over four decades.

The number of foreign workers has been on the rise in recent years, hitting an all-time high of approximately 1.28 million as of last October. Of that total, the number of technical interns stood at around 250,000, according to government data.

The technical intern program, which was formally created in 1990 for the purpose of transferring skills in the industrial, agricultural and fisheries sectors to developing economies, has become an essential part of Japan’s labor force amid the nation’s demographic woes.

Abe has officially declared that his administration will never adopt “an immigration policy” to make up for the continuing acute labor shortage, despite a rapidly thinning workforce.

The program was designed to support foreign nationals in their acquisition of technical skills, but has been criticized as a cover to exploit cheap labor from abroad. Many cases have been reported of trainees being subjected to illegally long work hours and physical abuse from employers.

In March, it was revealed that a Vietnamese man who came to Japan under the program was allegedly forced to take part in decontamination work in areas hit by the 2011 nuclear disaster. The Justice Ministry has begun investigating the case.

To eliminate violations by companies employing vocational trainees, a new law came into effect in November obliging employers to secure accreditation for their training programs. Under the law, employers found to have physically abused the trainees are subject to imprisonment of up to 10 years or a fine of up to ¥3 million. Other moves, such as denying compensation claims or confiscating passports, are regarded as violation of the Labor Standards Law and are also subject to punishment.

ENDS

外国人、技能実習後も5年就労可能に 本格拡大にカジ
日本経済新聞 2018/4/11, courtesy of JM
https://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXMZO29256530R10C18A4SHA000/

政府は2019年4月にも外国人労働者向けに新たな在留資格をつくる。最長5年間の技能実習を修了した外国人に、さらに最長で5年間、就労できる資格を与える。試験に合格すれば、家族を招いたり、より長く国内で働いたりできる資格に移行できる。5年間が過ぎれば帰国してしまう人材を就労資格で残し、人手不足に対処する。外国人労働の本格拡大にカジを切る。

政府は単純労働者の受け入れを原則、認めていない。一方で働きながら技能を身につける技能実習の範囲拡大や期間延長で事実上、単純労働者の受け皿をつくってきた。幅広く就労の在留資格を与える制度の導入は大きな政策の転換点になる。

政府は今秋の臨時国会にも入国管理法改正案を提出し、来年4月にも新制度を始める方針だ。

新設する資格は「特定技能(仮称)」。17年10月末で25万人いる技能実習生に、さらに最長5年間、就労の道を開く。技能実習は農業や介護などが対象。新設する資格とあわせれば、通算で最長10年間、国内で働き続けることができる。

新資格で就労すれば技能実習より待遇がよくなるため、技能実習から移行を希望する外国人は多いとみられる。政府は少なくとも年間数万人は外国人労働者が増えるとみている。農業、介護、建設など人手不足の業界を対象にする。

そもそも技能実習は学んだ技術を母国に伝えることが前提。経験を積んだ人材も実習後に国外に退去しなければならない。長く働きたい外国人や、実習で経験を積んだ外国人を育てた国内の雇用主からは、改善を求める声があった。

技能実習制度とその本来の目的は維持するため、新資格は一定期間、母国に帰って再来日した後に与える。外国人の永住権取得の要件の一つに「引き続き10年以上の在留」がある。いったん帰国してもらうため、技能実習と新資格で通算10年を過ごしても、直ちに永住権取得の要件にはあたらないようになる。

外国人労働者をさらに増やすため、実習修了者と同程度の技能を持つ人にも新資格を付与する方針だ。既に実習を終えて帰国した人も対象になる見通しで、経験豊かな労働者を確保できる。

新資格の保有者は、より専門性が高い在留資格に変更できるようにする。専門技能を問う試験に合格すれば、海外の家族の受け入れや、在留期間の更新ができる既存の資格に切り替えられる。

国内では25年度に介護職員が約38万人不足する見込み。農業人口はこの10年で約4割減り、人手不足が深刻だ。技能実習生の多くが新資格に移行すれば、長期間、国内労働力に定着させることができる。アジア各国の賃金上昇で外国人労働力の獲得は難しくなっているが、人材獲得競争にもプラスに働くと見ている。

日本の労働力人口は約6600万人。17年10月末時点の外国人労働者数は技能実習生の増加などがけん引し、127万人と過去最高を更新した。労働力の50人に1人は外国人が担う状況だが、政府はさらに増やす方針だ。

ends

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Asahi: Setagaya Ward plans to battle inter alia racial, ethnic discrimination (in specific) in a local ordinance. Progressive steps!

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s something important. Tokyo’s Setagaya-ku tries to do what Tottori Prefecture tried to do in 2005 (which was, pass Japan’s first ordinance specifically against racial discrimination, which is still NOT illegal in Japan; alas, Tottori UNpassed it months later). To be sure, Setagaya-ku’s goals are obscured behind the typical slogans of “discrimination due to differences in culture”, and there isn’t even a mention of “racial discrimination” (rendered as jinshu sabetsu) in this Setagaya-ku pamphlet briefing on the issue from last September.  But baby steps, and the issue of “racial discrimination” (which has long been denied even as existing in Japan) has had domestic media traction as an actual, existing problem because of Setagaya-ku. Let’s hope this serves as a template for other legislative bodies this time. Dr. Debito Arudou

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

Setagaya Ward plans to battle racial, ethnic discrimination
By TAICHIRO YOSHINO, Asahi Shinbun, February 28, 2018, courtesy of GDO

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201802280061.html

Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward has drafted an ordinance designed to protect racial, ethnic and sexual minorities from discriminatory practices, a move hailed by human rights experts as an “advanced measure.”

The ward was one of the first local governments in Japan to recognize same-sex marriages, and the draft ordinance covers sexual minorities.

However, the draft specifically notes that its target also includes discrimination based on nationality and race.

Under the plan, the ward will establish a committee that will handle public complaints about discrimination and advise the mayor on what measures to take.

A standing committee of the Setagaya Ward assembly approved the draft on Feb. 26. The assembly is expected to adopt the ordinance at a plenary session on March 2, and it will likely take effect in April.

“I have never heard of an ordinance that is intended to end discrimination based on nationality and race and will create a system for handling complaints,” said lawyer Kim Chang-ho, a third-generation ethnic Korean and a member of a nongovernmental organization that protects the human rights of foreign residents in Japan.

“The ordinance will be of help in collecting evidence when victims call for action on discriminatory problems. I hope that the measure will spread nationwide,” Kim said.

Other municipalities have complaint management committees, but they mainly handle cases of sexual discrimination.

The Setagaya Ward committee will consist of three members who will act as advisers to the mayor.

Although the draft contained no punitive measures against offenders, it did suggest possible action that could be taken.

The ward, for example, could refuse to allow hate-speech groups to use public spaces and facilities for demonstrations and meetings. The ward also wants to ensure the needs of sexual minorities and other groups are met when they use public facilities.

In addition, the ward could issue “improvement” instructions to landlords who refuse to rent apartments to minorities, as well as those responsible for discriminatory graffiti or online videos.

Shigenori Nakagawa, a lawyer involved in protecting the rights of sexual minorities, praised the ward’s move.

“Amid a society where discrimination and stereotypes about sexual minorities are deeply rooted, it is meaningful to clearly specify basic social rules,” Nakagawa said.

ENDS

===========================
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Kyoto City Govt. subway advert has Visible Minority as poster girl for free AIDS/STDs testing. Wrong on many levels, especially statistically.

mytest

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https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
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Hi Blog.  Here’s a flashback to a time (dating from the mid-1980s, see here and here, for example) when people were saying that “foreigners have AIDS”.  I was there; I remember it well.

The Kyoto Government is offering free AIDS and STD testing.  Good.  But check out what image they’re using for the face of sexually-transmitted diseases:

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

From: XY
Subject: Embedded Racism, AIDS, and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Date: March 8, 2018
To: debito@debito.org
Hello Debito,

Please see the attached photo, snapped on a Kyoto metro yesterday afternoon.  The only non-Japanese face visible in the metro car (other than mine) is on an advert for AIDS and STD testing by Kyoto City Government. 

The poster seems to imply the foreign as the source of danger, illness, social decay. The (dyed? or at least not black) permed, and slightly disheveled hair accord with the stereotype of the western woman of lax morality.

I wonder whether they used a stock image or hired a model and whether the model was aware or consented to the use of her image in this context? While technically she is contributing to a good cause – increasing awareness of AIDS, STDS, and of a useful public health service, she most likely did not realize that her image also contributes to the construction and maintenance of negative bias against non-Japanese women.

I also wonder about the designers. Who decided to use a non-Japanese model and what was their rationale (or rationalization)? Japan as a multi-ethnic society, where non-Japanese can be employed for health service publicity?  Or the purely functional message that the service itself is available for both J and NJ? How does it relate to the actual epidemiology of AIDS and other STDs in Japan? Does the poster reflect any reality in the situation or is it a complete misrepresentation of the epidemiology?

Cheers and keep up the good work.  Sincerely, XY

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

COMMENT:  Now, some might argue (and believe me, pedants, naysayers, and White Samurai will) that this is merely an IStock photo and that there was no association meant.  But that’s not how advertising works.  (Why add an image of a person at all if that were true?)  Others might say that she’s representing a medical professional pleased to see people coming in for testing.  But there is no context grounding that, either.  (No clear nurse’s uniform, nor a background that is clearly a hospital.  It looks more like a government front desk area to me; if you look closely at the poster, that’s in fact where the testing is happening, not at a hospital; she’s a patient, not a government representative.)

Again, why are we targeting a Visible-Minority demographic with this ad?  As XY says, that’s the embedded racism of this campaign.

My suspicion is that they are targeting Japan’s sex workers, and a frequent association is that any foreigner imported for this task has diseases.  This poster merely fortifies that.

And, to answer XY, it’s wrong.  According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, in 2015, non-Japanese people accounted for the minority of 108 (88 male; 20 female) out of 1,006 AIDS cases in Japan (and homosexual men, not women, remain the largest affected demographic). Plus don’t forget that historically, a significant number of AIDS cases in Japan were the result not of sexual contact, but of HIV-tainted blood recklessly given to hemophiliacs by the Japanese government in the late 1980s. That’s why this poster is visually misrepresenting the issue on many levels.

As XY also notes, I wonder what the model herself thinks about being associated with sexually-transmitted diseases?  I wish we could ask.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. This month sees a Japan Times column that I’m particularly proud of, as it ties a lot of things together. My research question was, “Why do people react so viscerally whenever somebody criticizes Japan?” And I think I found the answer: Japan attracts and nurtures White Supremacists.

Here are the opening paragraphs:

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

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

============
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Asahi: Japanese living abroad plan unprecedented lawsuit demanding dual citizenship. Bravo!

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s something interesting and something to support if you are a Japanese living abroad — the maintenance of your legal identity in the form of dual nationality.

The Asahi reports that several Japanese citizens in Europe unprecedentedly plan to sue the government to abolish the law forcing Japanese to pick one nationality if they take another. Some emigres also want to undo the damage and restore their Japanese nationality.

Naturally, Debito.org wholeheartedly supports this effort.  For too long the embedded binary of “you’re either Japanese or you’re not” (an Ichi-ro or a Ze-ro) has done untold social damage to people of multiple ethnicities and identities.  Nobody in power has ever really listened to them, so now it’s time for the monoethnic Japanese abroad, who want inclusivity for their newfound diversity, to take up the charge.

Here’s hoping they get heard.  Because others who have championed this sort of thing (such as MP Kouno Taro nearly a decade ago) got nowhere even in their own ruling political party.  Enough Japanese already have dual.  Let’s have the law reflect reality (and not institutionalize identity policing) at last.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

Japanese abroad plan first lawsuit demanding dual citizenship
By ICHIRO MATSUO/ Correspondent
The Asahi Shinbun, February 26, 2018
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201802260042.html

PHOTO CAPTION: Hitoshi Nogawa, a Japanese-born citizen in Basel, Switzerland, holds his now invalid Japanese passport in Geneva on Feb. 13. The Japanese government refused to renew it in 2015 after he gained Swiss citizenship. (Ichiro Matsuo)

GENEVA–Japanese residing in Europe plan to file a lawsuit demanding the right to dual citizenship, arguing that the Japanese law that forces people to pick only one nationality are outdated, unconstitutional and invalid.

The lawsuit, to be filed against the government at the Tokyo District Court next month, will be the first litigation of its kind, according to the legal team of the eight would-be plaintiffs, who include Japanese living in Switzerland and France.

Six of them have been granted foreign citizenship and want to restore their Japanese nationality.

However, Section 1 in Article 11 of the Nationality Law stipulates that if “a Japanese citizen acquires the nationality of a foreign country at his/her choice, he/she loses Japanese nationality.”

The remaining two want to confirm that they can keep their Japanese citizenship even if they obtain a foreign nationality.

Teruo Naka, a lawyer for the group, says it is unreasonable for Japanese to lose their nationality at a time when they have growing opportunities to live and work regardless of national borders.

“The plaintiffs are hoping to keep their Japanese nationality out of an attachment to Japan and ties with their relatives living in Japan,” he said.

The plaintiffs are expected to argue in court that Section 1 in Article 11 was originally established to prevent the granting of multiple citizenship from the perspective of compulsory military service when the 1890 Constitution of the Empire of Japan was in effect. That clause was automatically passed into the current Nationality Law, which became effective in 1950, after the postwar Constitution took effect in 1947.

Sovereignty rested with the emperor under the previous Constitution, known as the Meiji Constitution. The current Constitution upholds sovereignty of the people.

They will also argue that a wide disparity has grown between the ideal of a single nationality, championed since the Meiji Era (1868-1912), and the current realities of globalization.

The group will also contend that the right to retain Japanese nationality is guaranteed under articles of the current Constitution.

Article 13 of the postwar Constitution, for example, guarantees the right to the pursuit of happiness, they said. Paragraph 2 of Article 22, they noted, states, “Freedom of all persons to move to a foreign country and to divest themselves of their nationality shall be inviolate.”

Unlike in the United States and some European countries, where residents can hold more than one citizenship, the Japanese law still pushes for a single nationality.

Individuals with dual or multiple citizenship, such as children born to Japanese and foreign nationals, are required to select one nationality by the age of 22 under the Nationality Law. Their numbers have increased in recent years with the rise in international marriages in Japan.

If Japanese citizens obtain a foreign nationality through, for example, an international marriage, they are legally obliged to renounce either the foreign or Japanese nationality within two years.

But there is no clause that penalizes those who do not come forward to announce their decision.

“Only those who honestly declare their selection in compliance with the law lose their Japanese nationality,” one of the plaintiffs said.

It is common for Japanese families overseas to acquire the citizenship of their host country for business or employment opportunities.

Hitoshi Nogawa, 74, who leads the plaintiffs and serves as head of the Japanese community in Basel, Switzerland, said he needed Swiss citizenship to enable his company to participate in defense-related public works projects in the country.

Another plaintiff said it is common practice for Japanese expatriates to use their Japanese passports only when they return and leave Japan. Inside their host country, they use the citizenship they have acquired there for business.

It is widely believed that many Japanese with dual citizenship have not declared their status. But not coming forward can lead to problems.

In 2016, questions arose about the nationality of Renho, an Upper House member who then headed the main opposition party. She was born in Japan to a Taiwanese father and Japanese mother, and doubts were raised that she had renounced her Taiwanese citizenship under the Nationality Law. She produced documents showing she did so in 2016.

According to the Foreign Ministry, about 460,000 Japanese with resident status were living overseas as of October 2016. It was not clear how many of them actually held more than one nationality.

Justice Ministry statistics showed that the number of Japanese who renounced their Japanese nationality after selecting a foreign citizenship or for other reasons ranged from 700 to 1,000 annually between 2012 and 2016.
========================
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Kyodo: Official stats on NJ “Trainee” work deaths & accidents; 2x higher than J worker deaths, and likely understated

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Finally, a quarter-century into the horrible government-sponsored NJ “Trainee” program, the GOJ is now releasing actual hard statistics about the people it is killing.  And you can see why it took so long — the numbers are shameful enough to warrant a cover-up:  Between 2014 and 2017, 22 NJ died (almost all due to workplace accidents, but at least one was probably being worked to death).  This is more than twice the on-job fatality rate for J workers.  There were also 475 cases of serious accidents to NJ “Trainees”, and, as activists point out below, this figure is probably understated.

A contrarian might argue that NJ are just accident-prone.  But as the article describes below, working conditions are simply awful, not to mention generally illegal.  And as as Debito.org has pointed out repeatedly over the decades, “the program is rife with abuse: exploitation under sweatshop conditions, restrictions on movement, unsafe workplaces, uncompensated work and work-site injuries, bullying and violence, physical and mental abuse, sexual harassment, death from overwork and suicideeven slavery and murder.

“Things have not improved in recent years. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry announced that about 70 percent of some 5,200 companies that accepted trainees in 2015 violated laws, and in 2016 a record 4,004 employers engaged in illegal activities. The program is so rotten that even the United Nations demanded Japan scrap it.” (From Japan Times, Jan. 3, 2018, Item 4)

Anyway, let’s celebrate that we have some official statistics at last, for without them, it’s easy to see why this program can keep going for a quarter-century with little political traction to improve it.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

Foreign trainee fatality data highlight safety and exploitation issues in Japan
KYODO NEWS/JAPAN TIMES JAN 15, 2018
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/01/14/national/social-issues/foreign-trainee-fatality-data-highlight-safety-exploitation-issues-japan/

Work-related incidents killed 22 foreign trainees over a three-year period from fiscal 2014, according to government data, illustrating the risk that laborers brought to Japan will face dangerous or exploitative conditions.

While most of the 22 deaths are believed to have been caused by accidents, one was the result of karōshi (death by overwork), the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Sunday.

The ministry’s figures are the first government statistics to be released on work-related deaths among foreign trainees in Japan.

During the three-year period, there were on average 475 cases of work-related accidents per year that were subject to compensation via industrial accident insurance and which required four or more days of leave for such workers, the data showed.

The ratio of work-related deaths for foreign trainees was significantly higher than the ratio for all workers.

The government introduced the oft-criticized training program for foreign workers in 1993 with the apparent aim of transferring Japanese know-how to developing countries. But the program, applicable to agriculture and manufacturing among other sectors, has drawn criticism at home and abroad as a cover for importing cheap labor.

Cases of illegally long working hours, unpaid wages, violence and other harsh conditions have also been reported.

According to the Justice Ministry, foreign trainees are on the rise, with 167,641 logged in 2014, 192,655 in 2015 and 228,589 in 2016. Given the 22 deaths over the three-year period, the ratio of work-related deaths works out to roughly 3.7 deaths per 100,000 trainees.

For the nation as a whole, labor ministry data show that the tally for work-related deaths in all industries came to 2,957, or 1.7 deaths per 100,000 workers.

Akira Hatate, director of the Japan Civil Liberties Union and an expert on the trainee system, points out that there could be more cases involving foreign trainees due to the government’s lax reporting standards.

He said work-related accidents are more frequent among non-Japanese because they are “unfamiliar with Japanese workplaces (and) as they are usually working for small and midsize companies that give little consideration to safety and health in the workplace. Trainees (also) cannot communicate fluently in Japanese.”

“There are also cases where trainees, who cannot work due to an injury, are forced to return home. Concealment of work-related accidents is rampant,” Hatate said.

In one case of misconduct, a Vietnamese man who was injured on the job said his employer pocketed his insurance payments. The 23-year-old man came to Japan in July 2015 to work at a construction firm in Tokyo. With no prior experience in carpentry, he worked at residential construction sites and his monthly take-home pay was around ¥120,000.

The trainee said he was injured in May 2016 when his thumb was accidentally nailed by a machine. He was hospitalized for five days and after being discharged rested for only one day. The next day he resumed work with his thumb in a bandage. A year later he injured his palm during unloading work.

Even while he was working, his company filed for workers’ compensation, saying the man took a long-term absence and cited a medical certificate stating he required three months to recover.

Roughly ¥900,000 was transferred to the man’s bank account, but the employer told him the money was not his and demanded that he hand it over. The Vietnamese trainee said he was robbed of ¥220,000 in total.

Due to his lack of experience in the field and poor Japanese skills, the man often made mistakes. The president would yell at him to return to his country, and at one point, forced him to kneel and bow in dogeza fashion, an extreme way of apologizing by bowing deeply until the forehead touches the floor.

The man said he endured the mistreatment because he was about ¥1.4 million in debt to various entities, including the agency in Vietnam that got him into the program. He returned to Vietnam last month.

“I wanted to continue working, but I cannot do that under that president,” the man said. Until the end, the president offered no apology, he said.

Shiro Sasaki, secretary-general of the Zentoitsu Workers Union and well-versed on trainee issues, said, “Foreign nationals do not know about the workers’ compensation system, and there are many firms which think that things could just be settled by having the trainees return to their homeland.”

According to Sasaki, the way these firms treat their foreign trainees would never be acceptable to Japanese workers.

The latest data came to light as the government moves to expand the scope of the system amid a nationwide labor shortage and political resistance to boosting immigration.

Under a new law that took effect in November, nursing care was added to the list of fields in which foreign trainees can work. The change was made as firms struggle to overcome an acute shortage of care workers in an industry that is becoming all the more important amid the rapid graying of the population.
ENDS
=======================

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JT: “Japan’s NJ workers reach record 1.28 million with labor crunch”; more grist for the grinder

mytest

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Hi Blog.  It’s that time of year again, when the GOJ releases the annual stats for NJ residents (i.e., 2.3 million); in this case, as per the article below, the annual stats for NJ laborers, since not all NJ can work).  So let’s get to them:

Kyodo reports that there are more NJ laborers in Japan (1.28 million) than ever in Japan’s modern measured history, and this is largely due to the temporary NJ “Trainees” being brought in under Japan’s “no unskilled labor” unskilled-labor visa policy.

The big news is that Chinese and now Vietnamese are the two biggest foreign worker nationalities in Japan (I assume the 338,950 Zainichi Korean Special Permanent Residents were not counted as “foreign workers” here), followed by Filipinos and Brazilians (yes, they’re coming again) and Nepalese.

So all the official transgressions against NJ laborers a decade ago are forgotten, and ever more victims of Japan’s revolving-door visa market are arriving to be exploited and sent home.  Seems NJ never learn, but this new crop will find out soon enough.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

Japan sees foreign workers climb to record 1.28 million as labor crunch continues
JAPAN TIMES/KYODO NEWS, JAN 27, 2018
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/01/27/national/japan-sees-foreign-workers-climb-record-1-28-million-labor-crunch-continues/

The population of foreign workers set a record of about 1.28 million in late October as rapidly graying Japan continued to rely on foreign trainees and students to make up for its labor shortage, the labor ministry said Friday.

The total of 1,278,670 is 18 percent higher than last year and the highest since comparable data became available in 2008, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

Chinese led the way with 372,263 workers, up 8 percent on year, followed by the Vietnamese, whose numbers soared 40 percent to 240,259, accounting for 35 percent of the increase.

Filipinos came in third at 146,798, up 15.1 percent, followed by Brazilians at 117,299, up 10.0 percent, and Nepalese at 69,111, up 31.0 percent.

By residential status, permanent residents and spouses of Japanese climbed 11 percent to reach 459,132, while students with part-time jobs rose 24 percent to 259,604 from a year ago. The number of technical interns meanwhile grew 22 percent to 257,788.

Due to the tight labor market, Japan’s recovering economy and shrinking population, many of the technical interns and students are being hired to perform unskilled labor for low wages to fill serious manpower shortages.

While the government has opened its doors to professionals specializing in information technology and other specific fields, it does not officially welcome unskilled laborers to avoid public debates on immigration, which has long been a sensitive issue.

Foreign specialists comprise a small portion of the incoming workers, and many are hired by small firms with fewer than 30 employees, according to the ministry.

In the manufacturing industry, 40 percent of them were trainees brought in under the state-sponsored technical intern training program. In the service sector, which includes the hotel and restaurant industries, 60 percent were students.

As many foreigners seeking to gain skills or education are treated as laborers, the situation has raised concerns about corporate exploitation and the abuse of student visas for working purposes.

Japan relies heavily on foreign labor, and experts and scholars have been urging more public debate on immigration policy as Japan’s society continues to gray and shrink.

ENDS

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

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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

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

(Version with links to sources.)

In ascending order:

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

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

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

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

9) ‘Hair police’ issue attracts attention with lawsuit

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

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

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

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

8) Five-year limit on contract employment backfires

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

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

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

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

7) Hate-speech law has concrete effects

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

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

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

Not so much anymore.

6) Pension system qualification lowered to 10 years

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

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

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

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

5) Renho resigns, Democratic Party withers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) North Korean missile tests and the fallout

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

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

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

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

2) Abe glides to fifth electoral victory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) Government human rights survey of foreign residents

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

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

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

Bubbling under:

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

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

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

Record numbers of foreign tourists come to Japan and spend.

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

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

ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s an article in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post on racism in Japan.  And while I’m not entirely satisfied with how some of my quotes came out, it’s still an article that tries to get to the heart of a complex issue within 800 words.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

WHY IS RACISM SO BIG IN JAPAN?
It’s not just some Japanese shops that try to bar foreigners – schools and landlords can be equally unwelcoming. So maybe it’s not surprising a government adviser has called for apartheid, South Africa style

BY JULIAN RYALL, SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, 9 DEC 2017
http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2123539/no-chinese-why-anti-china-racism-so-big-japan

The hand-written sign in the entrance of a cosmetics shop in Japan might have been shocking to many Chinese, but to some observers its message was all too familiar.

The sign, which said Chinese people were not allowed to enter, caused outrage when images of it were posted on Chinese websites last month.

Within 24 hours, the store’s owner Pola Inc ordered the sign to be removed and vowed to suspend operations at the outlet. Pola acknowledged the notice had caused “unpleasant feelings and inconvenience to many people” and said it would deal with the situation “gravely”.

In contrast with the anger in China, the incident attracted little coverage in Japan and received only brief mention in the few media outlets that covered it at all.

That seeming lack of interest doesn’t surprise Debito Arudou, a human-rights activist who was born David Schofill in California and became a naturalised Japanese citizen in 2000. Discrimination is a sad fact of life in Japan, according to Arudou, and if anything, it is becoming more frequent – and more blatant.

“Back in the 1980s, there was a lot of talk about how Japan was going to internationalise and that diversity was positive, but that has largely fizzled out,” Arudou, 52, says.

For Arudou, the most significant nail in the coffin of internationalisation was hammered in by Shintaro Ishihara, soon after he was elected governor of Tokyo in 1999. In a speech to members of Japan’s Self-Defence Forces on April 9, 2000, Ishihara said “atrocious crimes” had been repeatedly committed by illegal residents that he referred to as sangokujin, a derogatory term that literally means third-country nationals. Ishihara said if a natural disaster struck Tokyo, foreigners would cause civil disorder.

Despite an outcry, Ishihara brushed off demands to apologise. He even won re-election three times before stepping down in October 2012.

“There were problems before then, but I would have to say that speech made Japanese people look at foreigners as a threat to Japanese society, and I do not think that has gone away,” Arudou says.

And there are plenty of other examples of people in positions of responsibility expressing similar attitudes.

Ayako Sono, an author who has advised the government on education, wrote an opinion piece for the conservative newspaper Sankei Shimbun in 2015 in which she said that while Japan needed immigrants to solve its labour shortage, foreigners should be kept apart from Japanese people.

The best solution, she suggested, was the apartheid system employed by South Africa between 1948 and 1994. “It is next to impossible to attain an understanding of foreigners by living alongside them,” wrote Sono, 83. “Ever since I learned of the situation in South Africa some 20 or 30 years ago, I have been convinced that it is best for the races to live apart from each other, as was the case for whites, Asians and blacks in that country.”

Similarly, Tomomi Inada was revealed to have accepted donations from Zaitokukai, an anti-Korean group designated by police as a hate-speech organisation before she was appointed defence minister in 2016. She was also pictured meeting Kazunari Yamada, the leader of the National Socialist Japanese Labour Party and a fan of Adolf Hitler.

For many foreign nationals living in Japan, life has become significantly more difficult under a succession of Liberal Democratic Party governments, according to Arudou.

There are countless reports of Japanese property owners refusing to lease their flats to foreigners and, because there is no law that explicitly forbids discrimination based on nationality or race, there is little to stop them. Similarly, foreigners who approach government-run agencies for jobs are often refused based on their nationality or because they “look foreign”, according to Arudou, who in 2015 published book Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination.

Arguably the worst demonstration of Japan’s attitudes towards outsiders is visible in education. Schools are permitted to refuse foreign children if they lack the ability to teach them or that doing so would be too difficult for teachers. “This means there is an undereducated underclass of around 20,000 non-citizen children who cannot even read because they have not had the opportunity to learn,” Arudou says. [Source:  Embedded Racism, p. 130]

As many as 40 per cent of those children are second- or third-generation Japanese whose ancestors had been living in Brazil but were encouraged to apply for jobs with companies looking for relatively cheap labour. Having moved to Japan, however, their children miss out on an education.

“For Japanese people, racial discrimination is an inconvenient truth and most Japanese do not want to believe it exists in their society because they have been told there is only one race in Japan,” Arudou says.

And when the domestic media plays up violent incidents involving immigrants in France, Germany and Britain, it comes as no surprise that Japanese resist the idea of permitting foreigners to settle permanently in Japan, even when they are refugees seeking sanctuary from violence in their homelands.

“It is well known that Japan accepts a minuscule number of refugees each year and yes, the media here and the public at large look at the problems that have occurred in Europe and say those problems could never happen here because there are no immigrants,” Arudou says. “They say this is a mono-culture where everyone understands each other. And while that is nationalist claptrap that completely ignores any crimes committed by Japanese, it is how they think. It’s the narrative they tell themselves to reassure each other. But it’s not an honest narrative.”

And while the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympic Games the following year are being promoted as demonstrations of Japan as a nation open to outsiders, the changes may be only skin deep.

“I see these as ways of attracting more tourists and, therefore, more money,” he says.

“The people who come will be tourists and they will be shown great hospitality, but when it is over, Japan will wave them goodbye with a sigh of relief.” ■ ENDS

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October 2017 Lower House Election Briefing: LDP wins big again, routs Japan’s left wing, but some silver linings to be had

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Hi Blog. As is tradition on Debito.org (see previous writings herehere, here, here, here, here, and here), after a Japanese election we analyze the results.

I waited until today, when all seats had been awarded (four were decided nearly a day after polls closed). So here goes:

OCTOBER 2017 LOWER HOUSE ELECTION RESULTS

As Japan politics watchers know, Japan is a parliamentary system where the party or coalition with the majority of seats in a legislature forms the governing Cabinet. In Japan’s case, the Lower House is the more powerful one in terms of actual policymaking (even though Japan’s Upper House is already in the hands of Japan’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party, or LDP), so this snap election, called by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo basically on a whim (there wasn’t one due for another two years), was essentially a referendum on whether Japan’s electorate wanted to continue on Abe’s course of probable Constitutional amendment and remilitarization.

The conclusion: Japan’s electorate is basically just fine with Abe’s rightist agenda.

Granted, there was a typhoon getting in the way on election day (although there is no indication that inclement weather affects leftists more than rightists). And there was no real viable opposition to Abe, either. Japan’s left is in complete disarray (given fickle Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko’s “Hope Party” offering little more than re-warmed Abe; Koike wasn’t even in Japan for the election!), with the Democratic Party of Japan completely dissolving from ruling party in 2011 into nonexistence (with right-leaning DPJers being absorbed into the Hope Party, and left-leaning DPJers forming a new “Constitutional Democratic Party” (Rikken Minshutou, or CDP) in clear opposition to Abe’s Constitutional reforms).  And the DPRK repeatedly sending missiles over Japanese waters and land certainly isn’t helping the pacifist point-of-view much.

The point is that Japan’s electorate, which doesn’t generally support underdogs (Why waste your vote on a losing party?, is more the logic), went for Abe and the LDP in general out of habit, default, or tribalism.

Let’s take a look at the numbers, according to Asahi.com (Japanese; click to expand in browser):

HEADLINE RESULTS:
As you can see, the ruling LDP (in red) retained its absolute 2/3 majority beyond 310 seats in the assembly. Its coalition with Sokka Gakkai religious party Komeito (KMT) remains firmly in power, with 284 plus 29 seats for LDP and KMT respectively.

WINNERS AND LOSERS:
The LDP, as mentioned above, won big. But it wasn’t an unqualified win. It retained exactly the same number as last time. However, KMT lost five seats from the 34 it had pre-election.

However, the protest vote by people who wanted a party to keep Japan’s Constitution as it is (the CDP), won bigger, going from 15 seats from its former DPJ/DP politicians to a full 55. Message: The DPJ is dead, long live its spirit in the CDP.

The losers were just about everyone else. Koike’s Hope Party dropped from 57 to 50 seats, the far-right Japan Restoration Party (Nihon Ishin no Kai) from 14 to 11, the far-left Communist Party from 21 to 12, and the tiny socialist Social Democratic Party (Shamintou) unchanged at two seats.

The biggest losers were the party-unaffiliated politicians (mushozoku) on both sides. The ones leaning left went from 27 seats to 21, while the ones leaning right went from eleven to one! Part of this is that due to the Proportional Representation vote (which only applies to official parties), these independents had to win in single-seat constituencies. But the bigger reason seems to be that brand recognition these days sells well: Either you stampeded with the herd under the LDP’s umbrella, or you went for a party flavor du jour (which quickly soured under Koike’s Hope, but clearly flowered under the CDP).

WHAT DISTRICTS WENT FOR WHOM

One thing I love about Japanese elections (and there are quite a few things I love) is the clarity of the visuals. You can see how people voted in this map of all the single-seat constituencies in the prefectures. Red is ruling coalition, Blue opposition, and Grey independent:

Based upon this, you can see that Western Honshu essentially all went LDP/KMT, big cities Osaka and Fukuoka were solid LDP/KMT with even far-right Restoration making seats. The Kanto conurbation of Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa were somewhat mixed, but mostly Red again. And the only places there was a true mix were Hokkaido (traditionally left-leaning) and Okinawa (which elected one of everything except the CDP and KMT).

OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST WITH THIS ELECTION

1) Horrible, horrible Hokkaido politician Suzuki Muneo finally lost his seat under the PR system. This isn’t the first time this former LDP ideologue has been down and out, but here’s hoping it’s his last.

2) The political dynasty of Hatoyama did not succeed in getting LDP Hatoyama Kunio’s eldest son elected this time. However, the dynasty of racist former Governor Ishihara Shintaro was maintained with the reelection of his sons. Also, the daughter of former PM Obuchi was reelected, further demonstrating the power of generational branding (seshuu seijika) in Japan.

3) Former PM Kan Naoto was reelected in Tokyo. As was firebrand Tsujimoto Kiyomi in Osaka.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS:

This has been the third time (more than that if you also add in Upper House elections) Japan’s has given a sweeping mandate to PM Abe and his Constitution-revising stance.  I guess they’re pretty much okay with it.  There’s still a national referendum to be run on this.  But I reckon it’ll get through, especially if North Korea keeps scaring the Japanese public with missile tests.  And of course, not making any blip whatsoever in the election (aside from Koike requiring new entrants to sign an oath to disenfranchise foreign resident voters) were issues of immigration and internationalization in Japan.

Comments?  Dr. Debito Arudou

PS:  Other writings on Japanese politics:

My Japan Times JBC column 102, Oct 31, 2016: “U.S. and Japan elections: Scary in their own ways

My Japan Times JBC column 101: “US and Japan votes: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Oct 3, 2016)

My Japan Times JBC column 99, For Abe, it will always be about the Constitution, Aug 1, 2016

My Japan Times JBC 92 Oct. 5, 2015: “Conveyor belt of death shudders back to life”, on how Abe’s new security policy will revive Prewar martial Japan

My Japan Times JBC 91 Sept 7, 2015: Why Japan’s Right keeps leaving the Left in the dust

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 88: U.S. green-lights Japan’s march back to militarism”, on America’s historical amnesia in US-Japan Relations, June 1, 2015

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 70, “Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S., on how an October 2013 speech in Hawaii by the Abe Administration’s Kitaoka Shin’ichi is a classic case of charm offensive by a Gaijin Handler, floating a constitutional reinterpretation to allow for a standing Japanese military before the American military. (November 7, 2013)

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 66: “Ol’ blue eyes isn’t back: Tsurunen’s tale offers lessons in microcosm for DPJ”, Aug 5, 2013

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 61, “Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan will suffer,” a recounting of how ill a rerun of an Abe Shinzou Prime Ministership portends to be for Japan as a liberal democracy. (February 4, 2013)

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 57, “Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place,” on how the Senkakus and Takeshima Disputes are more than just an official distraction for domestic problems – they are a means to stop crucial liberalizations from taking place within Japanese society. (October 2, 2012)

Japan Focus: “Japan’s Democracy at Risk: LDP’s 10 Most Dangerous Proposals for Constitutional Change” by Lawrence Repeta (UPDATED with Aso’s Nazi admiration gaffe).

============================
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Japan Times JBC 109: “‘Attach the evidence and wait for your day in court,’ says Turkish plaintiff after Osaka victory”

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Hi Blog. More on the Yener Case, featured prominently on Debito.org in the past, in my latest JBC column.  Dr. Debito Arudou

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

‘Attach the evidence and wait for your day in court,’ says Turkish plaintiff after Osaka victory
By Debito Arudou
Just Be Cause column 109 for the Japan Times Community Page, October 12, 2017
Courtesy https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/10/11/issues/attach-evidence-wait-day-court-says-turkish-plaintiff-osaka-victory/

On Aug. 25, the Osaka District Court handed down a landmark ruling in a discrimination lawsuit.

Ibrahim Yener, a Turkish national and 14-year resident of Japan, was refused service last October by an Osaka used car dealer, which stated in an email (text at www.debito.org/?p=14743) that they would not serve foreign customers. The car company also stipulated that even if the customer legally holds Japanese citizenship, they would only sell to people who could “hold their own (sonshoku ga nai) against native speakers” in terms of Japanese language ability (as determined solely by the car company).

Yener felt this was discriminatory, filed suit and won. The presiding judge said that it “was based on prejudice that a foreigner would cause trouble and does not justify the discriminatory treatment.”

But what made this case particularly noteworthy is that Yener navigated Japan’s legal system all by himself — without a lawyer.

Thus this case offers potential lessons for other non-Japanese or international Japanese who face similar discrimination. JBC contacted Yener last week to find out more about the thinking behind bringing the case.

What motivated you to file the lawsuit? Were you trying to show the public that it could be done without a lawyer? Or were you just angry after all the other cases of discrimination you say you faced? What made you say “Enough is enough!”?

I faced so many discrimination issues during my 14 years in Japan. I will give you two examples: […]

Read the rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/10/11/issues/attach-evidence-wait-day-court-says-turkish-plaintiff-osaka-victory/

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

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Nikkei: Japan’s “Japanese Only” apartment rental market may adversely affect NJ worker retention during labor shortage

mytest

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Hi Blog. Earlier this year the GOJ released a nationwide survey of discrimination toward NJ in Japan (details on Debito.org here and here). Debito.org predicted that the results of this could be (and would be) something the media would cite, now that they had tangible statistics.   (Even though, as reported previously on Debito.org, in the Nikkei Asian Review’s case, they would periodically still try to explain them away. But it would still be cited nonetheless.)  Here’s the latest example, again from the Nikkei Asian Review, with the shocking statistic, “Almost nine of 10 private housing units in Tokyo do not allow foreign tenants”.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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As Japan looks for river of foreign talent, landlords erect a dam
Discrimination could hinder companies hiring more from overseas
Nikkei Asian Review, August 23, 2017
By TSUBASA SURUGA, Nikkei staff writer
https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/As-Japan-looks-for-river-of-foreign-talent-landlords-erect-a-dam

TOKYOSamith Hilmy, a 26-year-old student from Sri Lanka, was waiting anxiously at a real estate office in Tokyo as an agent went through the procedure of ringing the Japanese landlord of an apartment the student was interested in renting.

Following a brief exchange, which lasted no more than 10 seconds, Hilmy said, the agent hung up the phone and uttered the same three-word phrase he had heard from a dozen or so agents over a month of home hunting: “Sorry, no foreigners.”

When Hilmy first arrived in Japan in April, his Japanese language school set him up in an apartment for six months in Shin-Okubo, a district in the capital’s Shinjuku Ward. But he has to leave the place soon, and time is short.

He said he has also encountered some real estate agents that demanded four to five months’ worth of rent up front — some want a year’s worth — as “insurance” in case he leaves the apartment or the country without notice.

“I felt,” he said, “like I was being treated like a criminal.”

Hilmy’s odyssey is not unlike the reality faced by many foreigners living in Japan. This year, the country released a first of its kind national survey that highlighted the extent of housing discrimination foreigners face.

According to the study, released by the Ministry of Justice in March, out of 2,044 foreign residents who had sought housing within the past five years, 39.3% reported being turned down because they were not Japanese.

The impact is now being felt by employers. In recent years, numerous Japanese manufacturers and services have been trying to make up for the country’s shrinking labor force by looking elsewhere for workers. They want to create an inflow of talent, but housing discrimination could become a dam.

As of last October, Japan had 1.08 million foreign workers, up 58% from five years earlier, accounting for around 2% of the total workforce, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

They have to endure the humiliating phone call that often ends with a “sorry, no foreigners” because some landlords worry about tenants from other countries flying the coop, so to speak.

A few years ago, a 63-year-old landlord from Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district who asked not to be named rented an apartment to a male Chinese student. After six months or so, he said, neighbors began reporting that two other men had moved into the same flat, “often making a racket late at night.”

When the neighbors confronted the student, the tenant pretended not to understand Japanese. “It made me more hesitant [to rent to foreigners],” the landlord said. “I just don’t want any more trouble.”

Hiroyuki Goto, CEO of Global Trust Networks, a Tokyo-based guarantor service provider for foreign tenants, said not many landlords have actually had these kinds of experiences but the stories “have spread across the country, causing fear among landlords.”

Other reasons include landlords who assume foreign tenants would trouble neighbors — from Brazilians throwing large home parties and firing up the barbecue to American college students who like partying into the night in their apartments.

Goto said even if prospective tenants are skilled workers with stable jobs at big-name Japanese companies, many housing units remain out of reach.

Total OA Systems — a Tokyo-based IT consultancy with 200 or so employees, including those in China and the Philippines — plans to expand the number of its foreign engineers working in Japan. It currently has only a handful.

The IT industry is suffering from a significant labor shortage, and the consultancy was acutely aware of the discrimination problem last year when it welcomed a systems engineer from the Philippines. To dodge any hassles, the company consulted a property agent that caters to foreigners, whom industry players describe as an “underwhelming minority” in Tokyo.

Even real estate agencies with experience helping foreigners run into the same problem: “Almost nine of 10 private housing units in Tokyo do not allow foreign tenants,” according to Masao Ogino, CEO of the Ichii Group. “It is still an extremely exclusive market.”

Tsuyoshi Yamada, a human resources manager at Total OA Systems, said a lack of sufficient support for non-Japanese employees, including in regard to housing, could throw a hurdle up in front of the company’s plan to bring in overseas talent.

This concern is particularly strong for smaller IT companies like Yamada’s. “Even if we finally find a promising engineer,” he said, “retention could become a problem.”

Some companies are taking the matter into their own hands. YKK recently opened a small serviced apartment complex for its foreign-born employees in Kurobe, Toyama Prefecture, central Japan. Its flagship plant is a 10-minute drive away.

The world’s leading zipper maker is getting ready to expand into the low-end segments in China and other parts of Asia. To get a head start, it is training more foreign employees who could go on to become managers at these plants and elsewhere. These trainees work stints of up to three years in Kurobe.

The 10 apartments are close to full with engineers from Indonesia and other countries, and YKK is already considering whether it needs more housing for the more than 30 overseas engineers it plans to welcome every year.

YKK’s foreign employees used to live in other company dormitories or in private housing rented by the company. YKK said it has not experienced landlords rejecting its foreign-born employees but feels its serviced apartments help these workers avoid cultural quibbles with would-be neighbors.

More serviced apartment units would “allow [the foreign employees] to concentrate on their training from the day after they arrive to Japan,” a representative said.

Japan has no law prohibiting landlords from refusing applicants based on ethnicity or nationality.

“Judicially, the only way to resolve such a rejection is through civil lawsuits, which is an extremely high hurdle for foreigners,” said Yumi Itakura, an attorney with the Tokyo Public Law Office, citing costly trial fees and a lack of law firms with enough capacity to help non-Japanese clients.

But there have been efforts by industry players to tackle the issue. The Japan Property Management Association, a group of over 1,300 companies handling some 5 million properties, in 2003 created guidelines that include advice for landlords and real estate agencies in dealing with prospective foreign tenants.

“In some countries, a rental contract doesn’t require a guarantor [which is common in Japan],” one piece of advice says. “Housing rules differ by country and region, therefore you should carefully explain the values and customs that are behind Japan’s housing rules.”

For foreign tenants, the association created an “Apartment Search Guidebook,” which describes the country’s common housing rules in six languages. An example: “Living with people other than those stated in the rental agreement or sub-leasing the property are violations of the rental agreement.”

At the local government level, Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward is a forerunner in trying to tackle housing rental rejections. In 1991, the ward specifically stated in an ordinance that it will “strive to resolve [tenant] discrimination” based on nationality.

The issue is particularly important for Shinjuku, which has the highest proportion of foreign residents in Tokyo. As of Aug. 1, of 341,979 residents, 42,613 were not Japanese, more than 12% of the total. People from 130 or so countries live in the ward.

The ward office provides a weekly consultation session on real estate transactions for foreign residents who are having trouble finding a place to stay. In addition, it has set up a mechanism that offers help to residents in Chinese, Korean, English, Thai, Nepalese and Burmese.

Shinjuku periodically holds liaisons with property agents for better collaboration and smoother information exchanges, according to Shinjuku’s housing division. The effort is, in part, to support the elderly, disabled and foreigners, “who tend to be the most vulnerable when it comes to securing housing,” said Osamu Kaneko, the division’s manager.

According to a survey that Shinjuku conducted in 2015, separate from the justice ministry’s study, of 1,275 foreign residents, 42.3% said they had experienced discrimination in Japan. Of those, 51.9% felt discriminated against when looking for housing.

The justice ministry study underscores just how widespread discrimination is in Japan’s housing market. But the problem could be about to swell. At least the number of foreign residents in the country is trending up. At the end of 2016, it reached an all-time high, 2.38 million, 77% more than 20 years earlier.

Experts say access to housing in Japan is becoming ever more important as the third largest economy takes steps — though small ones — to open its door to more foreigners.

Chizuko Kawamura, a professor emeritus at Tokyo’s Daito Bunka University and an immigration policy expert, has proposed that the government set up a specialized body on multicultural initiatives that would make way for foreign resident support systems — from housing, education, medical access and fair employment.

This is “not limited to housing,” Kawamura said. “If our government cannot address the social needs of [foreigners] already living in Japan, we won’t be able to support those coming into the country in the future.”
ENDS
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Positive book review of “Embedded Racism” in “Sociology of Race and Ethnicity” journal (American Sociological Association)

mytest

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Book Review: “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination“, By Debito Arudou (Lexington Books, 2015)
Reviewed by Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain
Citation: King-O’Riain, R. C. Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, 0(0), 2332649217723003.
http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2332649217723003
DOI:10.1177/2332649217723003
First Published August 11, 2017

(Excerpt)

[…] It is a brave critique of Japanese society and its failure to look outward in its demographic and economic development. The book will, no doubt, add to a lively discussion already afoot in Japanese studies, critical race studies, and critical mixed race studies of racism in Japan.

[…] The strongest part of the book, in my view, is chapter 5, which illustrates how “Japaneseness” is enforced through legal and extralegal means. The examples of visa regimes and even exclusion from sports and other contests through educational institutions show how everyday racism leaks into larger organizational practices, often without challenge.

[…] The book is clearly written and seems to be aimed primarily at undergraduate students, as it makes an important contribution for those wishing to understand racism in Japan better, and it compiles interesting documentary legal data about the history of cases of discrimination in Japan. The book would easily suit courses that address global conceptions of race and ethnicity and how these are changing in Japan at both the micro and macro levels because of globalization. ENDS

See other reviews at http://www.debito.org/embeddedracism.html

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“Japanese Only” signs come down in Monbetsu, Hokkaido. Finally. It only took 22 years.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Good news. A couple of weeks ago, friends Olaf and James wrote in to say that they went down Hamanasu Doori in Monbetsu, a seaport town in Eastern Outback Hokkaido. Here’s what book “Embedded Racism” Ch. 3 has to say about this case (expanded from the original entry on the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments on Debito.org):

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Monbetsu, Hokkaidō

Place: Miscellaneous places around Monbetsu City (Hokkaidō) (two public/private sector bathhouses, a ramen shop, a restaurant, a karaoke parlor, and more than 100 bars).

Background: According to newspaper articles, plus several visits and interviews between 2000 and 2009 by the author and other activists, since 1995 Monbetsu’s local restaurateurs’ association (inshokuten kumiai) created and sold standardized signs in Cyrillic saying “Japanese Only Store” (Nihonjin sen’yō ten) that went up on over 100 bars and restaurants in the Hamanasu Dōri nightlife district. Interviews with bars displaying the signs revealed fears of Russian sailors’ custom, including the language barrier, drunken unruliness, nonpayment of bills, rumors of rape, surrounding Japanese customer dissatisfaction, and ties to Russian organized crime (although many interviewees said they had no actual experience with any of these issues – the sign was a preventive measure); some refused the author’s business even though he is not Russian and was accompanied by other Japanese. Three restaurants and a karaoke parlor expressed similar sentiments, and said they would have refused the author had he not been a fluent Japanese speaker. Two bathhouses (one private-sector, one public/private (dai-san sekutā)) claimed drunk and unruly Russian bathers were driving away Japanese customers).

Action taken by observers/activists: In July 2000, the Japanese Ministry of Justice, Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yōgobu) Asahikawa Branch wrote a letter (see ER Chapter Eight) to the restaurateurs’ association calling their activities “clear racial discrimination against foreigners,” demanding they remove their exclusionary signs. In an interview with the author in April 2001, the kumiai head claimed that these signs were now the property of their respective purchasers, and what they did with them was not their concern. After extensive media exposure of the situation in local newspapers and national TV between 2000 and 2005, signs began coming down, and further interviews and media exposure of the restaurants, karaoke parlor, and the bathhouses resulted in exclusionary rules being rescinded in the karaoke parlor, one restaurant and the public/private-sector bathhouse. In 2006, an interview with another restaurant enabled the author to personally take down one of the Cyrillic signs with permission. In 2004, the author and one other activist submitted a petition (chinjō) to pass a local anti-discrimination ordinance (jōrei), which subsequently died in committee.

Current status (as of end-2014): Confirmed in January 2010, at least sixteen of the original mass-produced Cyrillic signs are confirmed as remaining on the storefronts of Hamanasu Dōri bars and one restaurant. The private-sector bathhouse still has an exclusionary sign, but will let in “foreign” clientele if they speak a level of Japanese that satisfies the manager on duty. One of the former exclusionary restaurants went bankrupt in 2007. Monbetsu still has no anti-discrimination ordinance.

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So the update is:  The exclusionary signs are down in Hamanasu Doori.  Pity it only took 22 years for it to happen, apparently by attrition.  No thanks to the Monbetsu City Government, natch.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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My Japan Times JBC 108: “In wake of Charlottesville, U.S. should follow Japan and outlaw hate speech”, Aug 24, 2017

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

In wake of Charlottesville, U.S. should follow Japan and outlaw hate speech
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
THE JAPAN TIMES AUG 23, 2017

Let’s talk about Charlottesville.

As you probably heard, two weeks ago there was a protest in a small Virginia town against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general who defended slavery in the American South. Various hate groups, including white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, assembled there with shields, weapons, fascist flags and anti-Semitic slogans. They were met with counterprotest, and things got violent. A supremacist slammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19.

Charlottesville has shaken hope for a post-racial America to the core. But before readers in Japan breathe a sigh of relief and think, “It couldn’t happen here, not in peaceful Japan,” remember this:

Japan has also had plenty of hate rallies — there was about one per day on average in 2013 and 2014, according to the Justice Ministry. Rightist xenophobes and government-designated hate groups have assembled and held demos nationwide. Bearing signs calling foreign residents “cockroaches,” calling for a Nanking-style massacre of Koreans in an Osaka Koreatown, even advocating the extermination of “all Koreans, good or bad,” Japan’s haters have also used violence (some lethal) against the country’s minorities.

As JBC has argued before (“Osaka’s move on hate speech should be just the first step,” Jan. 31, 2016), freedom of speech is not an absolute. And hate speech is special: It ultimately and necessarily leads to violence, due to the volatile mix of dehumanization with flared tempers.

That’s why Japan decided to do something about it. In 2016 the Diet passed a law against hate speech (albeit limiting it to specifically protect foreign residents). And it has had an effect: Japanese media reports fewer rallies and softer invective.

America, however, hasn’t gotten serious about this. It has no explicit law against hate speech, due to fears about government censorship of freedom of speech. Opponents argue that the only cure is freer speech — that somehow hate will be balanced out by reasonable and rational counter-hate. That persuasion will win out.

But in 2016, it didn’t. Hate speech is precisely how Donald J. Trump got elected president…

Read the rest at: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/08/23/issues/wake-charlottesville-u-s-follow-japan-outlaw-hate-speech/

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Asahi: Japan treats 1 million foreign workers as ‘non-existent’, and shouldn’t. Another recycled hopeful article.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  In the wake of my previous blog entry about a new exploitative visa system for the next generation of Nikkei workers, here’s a hand-wringing article from the Asahi about how people don’t (but really should) accept NJ as part of Japanese society.

It seems like these articles are cyclical — I remember them from a good ten years ago (for example here and here and here and here).  But papers gotta sell, even if magazines anywhere gotta hawk the same weight-loss and exercise regimens to the reading public.  Fortunately, the Asahi draws the same conclusions I would. Alas, next serious economic downturn, all this will be out of the window and foreigners will be unaccepted again.

Maybe I’m getting too old to hope for much change anymore.  Where’s the tipping point?  Dr. Debito Arudou

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Japan treats 1 million foreign workers as ‘non-existent’
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
July 27, 2017 
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201707270006.html
PHOTO:  A foreign student from Vietnam, right, is taught how to deal with customers at a convenience store in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward. Foreigners are often seen at convenience stores in urban areas of Japan. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Foreign workers in Japan are increasingly being seen as a valuable resource amid Japan’s declining birthrate and growing elderly population.

However, recent headlines in the media express concern about the influx of immigrants.

“Should we accept immigrants?” one publication asked.

Another worried that, “What will happen if foreigners become our bosses?”

The reality is that the number of foreign workers now totals more than 1 million. Japanese are increasingly coming in contact with foreigners in their daily lives, so they are no longer an “invisible presence.”

ACCEPTANCE IS UNAVOIDABLE

The Justice Ministry announced in January that foreigners working in Japan totaled 1,083,769 as of the end of October 2016.

Economic magazines such as Nikkei Business or Weekly Toyo Keizai have published articles related to immigration and foreign workers.

One contentious point among those articles is the existence of foreign workers working under a status akin to “unskilled labor,” which is not permitted, in principle, in Japan.

The Justice Ministry says that there are no rules and definitions concerning immigration in domestic law. So, Japan accepts immigrants under the title of “technical intern trainees,” who are expected to disseminate technology upon their return home, or “foreign students,” instead of accepting them as unskilled workers.

An article in the June edition of the monthly business magazine Wedge was titled, “Before we realized it, Japan has become a nation of immigrants.”

The article analyzed the situation where foreign students are employed in physical labor, working on farms and in factories and in the service industry, such as at hotels as cleaning staff, while introducing local communities that accepted immigrants as a measure to halt declining populations.

“When we are in Tokyo, it is hard for us to notice, but a work force shortage in local areas is so serious that those areas have no choice but to accept immigrants,” said Shinya Shiokawa, editor in chief of Wedge. “No one can be apathetic to them.”

While accepting immigrants has been discussed, foreign workers are more likely to be employed at restaurants or convenience stores in urban areas.

“Foreigners or people who have roots in overseas countries are talked of as if they do not exist, although they are already present in Japan’s society,” said Hiroshi Komai, professor emeritus of Hitotsubashi University, specializing in international sociology.

Until the 1950s, Japan was a nation that was dispatching immigrants to South America and other countries. In the 1980s amid a rising yen and the nation’s economic bubble, Japan was attracting an influx of foreigners.

In 2006, the internal affairs ministry drafted a plan to facilitate diversity in local communities.

While the central government banned immigrants from employment in low-skilled jobs, it allowed them to work under the name of trainees or on-the-job training. Komai said that local governments and nonprofit organizations have taken the lead in accepting immigrants and encouraging multiculturism in society.

“The central government has consistently treated immigrant workers as ‘they are present but non-existent,’ but the measure has already met limitations,” Komai said.

LITTLE FOREIGN PRESENCE IN LITERATURE

In the literature world, immigrants figure prominently in many stories in other countries. In Japan, however, the presence of immigrants in literature is not as common.

In Japan, there are many books on ethnic Koreans who were born and grew up in the country. One is “Geni’s Puzzle,” written in 2016 by Che Sil, a third-generation Korean, who was awarded the prestigious Oda Sakunosuke Prize. On the other hand, novels themed on “immigrants who come to Japan” are extremely rare.

“There are many overseas mystery novels that deal with immigration issues,” said Fuyuki Ikegami, a literary critic. “But in Japan, perhaps because Japan hasn’t accepted immigrants politically and socially, the theme can’t be as easily utilized and matured in a story.”

However, there are signs of change. Novels such as “i,” written by Kanako Nishi in 2016, and Yuzaburo Otokawa’s “R.S. Villasenor,” in 2017, describe immigrants coming from other countries.

The latter is the story of the daughter of a man from the Philippines who brings traditional Filipino craftwork to the traditional Japanese art of dyeing.

“While describing cultural integration, it tactfully addresses the immigration issue as a theme in a natural way,” Ikegami said.

Hiroshi Tanaka, a professor emeritus of Hitotsubashi University who specializes in Japan-Asia relations, said the existence of a “nationality dogma” in Japanese society is a barrier.

“Japanese people have a strong sense that Japanese society exists for people who have Japanese citizenship,” he said. “The length of residing in Japan doesn’t matter, and people other than Japanese can’t be admitted as a member of society.”

Tanaka said that the most important thing now is to operate on a standpoint of “for whom society exists.”

“Society exists particularly for people living there. If residing there, people should be treated the same whether they come from other countries or they don’t have roots in Japan. But that sense is still weak in Japan, and we have to change that,” he said.
ENDS

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Yomiuri: 4th generation Nikkei to get new visa status. Come back, all is forgiven! Just don’t read the fine print.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Guess what. Ten years after bribing and booting out its Nikkei “Returnee” workers from South America (who had been given sweetheart visas of de facto Permanent Residency, higher-paying jobs than the “Trainee” slaves from places like China (but still lower than real Japanese, natch)), and four years after lifting a ban on their return, the government has officially decided to introduce a new residency status to exploit the next (4th) generation of Nikkei. As long as they a) speak Japanese, b) are young enough to devote their best working years here, c) come alone, and d) only stay three years. Those are some tweaks that makes things less advantageous for the foreigner, so I guess the previous racist policy favoring Wajin foreigners has been improved (as far as the government is concerned) to keep them disposable, and less likely to need a bribe to go home when the next economic downturn happens. That’s how the Japanese government learns from its mistakes — by making the visa status more exclusionary and exploitative.

As Submitter JK says, “This smells to me like a scheme to recruit more laborers.” Nice how the Yomiuri, as usual, decides to conveniently forget that historical context in its article. Dr. Debito Arudou

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4th generation to get new status
July 31, 2017, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Courtesy of JK
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003851875

The Justice Ministry plans to introduce a new residency status for fourth-generation Japanese descendants living abroad that will enable them to work in Japan under certain conditions, such as acquiring a set level of Japanese language skills.

About 1,000 people will be accepted each year in the early stages, sources said. The ministry will solicit comments from the public soon, and then decide when to roll out the program.

The aim of the new system is to help fourth-generation Japanese descendants deepen their interest in and knowledge about Japan, and nurture people who would be a bridge between Japan and the communities of Japanese descendants abroad in the future.

Those who are accepted will be aged 18 to 30 and given “designated activities” status, which will allow them to work during their stay in Japan, according to the ministry’s plan.

Participants will be required to have Japanese skills equivalent to the N4 level of the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test — able to conduct basic everyday conversations — at the time of their arrival. When they renew their residency status, they will be required to have skills equivalent to the N3 level — understanding complex sentences. They will not be allowed to bring family members.

The residency status will need to be renewed each year, with the maximum stay set at three years. It will be possible to stay longer if they are allowed to change their residency status due to marriage, employment or other reasons.

The ministry envisages accepting fourth-generation Japanese descendants from countries — such as Brazil, Peru and the United States — where a number of ethnic Japanese communities were formed and took root as a result of Japanese migration before and after World War II. A ceiling for the number of accepted applicants will be set for each country or region, sources said.

Under the current system, second- and third-generation Japanese descendants can obtain a status such as “long-term resident” and are eligible for long-term stays and employment. However, there has been no preferential treatment for fourth-generation descendants except for underage biological children — who are unmarried and dependent — of the third-generation parents who are long-term residents.

ENDS

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

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Good news: Japan’s National Pension scheme lowers minimum qualification time from 25 years to 10!

mytest

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Hi Blog. Good news. Until now, if you wanted to qualify for any retirement payout under the Japanese National Pension System (Nenkin), you had to contribute 300 months, or 25 years, of your salary in Japan.

This was an enormously high hurdle for many NJ residents, who would pay in but not always elect to stay the bulk of their working life in Japan. That meant that aside from getting back a maximum of three years’ worth of contributions upon request (see also here), you’d effectively lose your retirement investment as an enormous exit tax.  (Incidentally, that was one of the quiet incentives for the racist Nikkei South American Returnee Worker “repatriation bribes” from the government back in 2009 — take the airplane fare home, leave behind your accrued pension.  Big win for Japan’s government coffers.)

It made it so that the longer you stayed in Japan, the more of a pension prisoner you became, since if you left the country to work elsewhere, you’d lose, because you hadn’t paid into pension schemes in other countries and wouldn’t qualify.

Totalization Agreements (where countries agree that years worked in Country B count towards working in Country A as well) have eased that burden somewhat. But now the threshold for qualifying at all in Japan has fortunately been reduced.  From 25 to 10 years, as of August 2017. Hurrah.

Now still remaining is the issue that the number of Japanese pensioners is increasing due to Japan’s demographically aging society, meaning that by the time you retire you’ll be receiving a smaller piece of the overall pension pie (to the levels where pensioners will live in penury; Japan is already above the OECD average poverty rate (pg. 75). And the minimum retirement age will likely be further increased to make it harder to retire younger. But at least you don’t have to invest most of your working life in Japan just to get something back.  Thus, Japan is becoming more aligned with international norms.  Good.

Much more information from the OECD on this issue at http://www.oecd.org/pensions/public-pensions/OECDPensionsAtAGlance2013.pdf. Dr. Debito Arudou

===========================
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Book Review in SSJJ journal calls “Embedded Racism” a “must-read text”, “highly recommended reading to anyone interested in Japan’s future”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Social Science Journal Japan (SSJJ) has just released its review of book “Embedded Racism“.  Excerpt follows. Full review at https://academic.oup.com/ssjj/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/ssjj/jyx012

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

Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination, by Debito Arudou. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015, 404 pp., $110.00 (ISBN 978-1-4985-1390-6)
Robert W. ASPINALL
Social Science Journal Japan jyx012. DOI: https://academic.oup.com/ssjj/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/ssjj/jyx012
Published: 15 July 2017

Excerpt of the first and last paragraphs:

Why are there so few academic books or articles on Japan with the word ‘Racism’ in the title? It would be odd, to say the least, if Japan were the only inhabited place on earth where racism did not exist. Could it be that racial minorities in Japan are made up of groups that are too small, too transitory or too lacking in visibility to be worth the effort of close study? A more plausible explanation is offered by those who, like anthropologist John Russell, argue that powerful groups have disseminated the ‘national myth of Japan as a racism-free society that always manages to retain uncorrupted its essentialistic character, despite cultural borrowings’ (Russell 2010: 110). Given this highly successful effort to hush up discussions of racism in Japan, Debito Arudou’s new book on ‘Embedded Racism’ is very welcome.

[…]

In an anti-globalist era of Trump and ‘Brexit’ there will be many who argue that Japan is right to severely restrict immigration and preserve as much as possible that is unique about its national character. If those who do not ‘look Japanese’ have to suffer some discrimination, then that is just the price that has to be paid. There are also many who believe that the best antidote to racism is to have a nation state where as few people as possible look out of place. Arudou’s reply to this point of view, which acts simultaneously as a challenge to Japan’s leaders, is that if this national narrative is allowed to prevail, it will not only condemn Japan’s aging population to an ever-worsening demographic crisis, it will also have a ‘suffocating and self-strangulating’ effect on society (p. 303).

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

========================================
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Mainichi Editorial on 1-yr anniv. of Hate Speech Law: “To end hate speech, Japan must face its deep-rooted discriminatory thinking”, offers moral support but few concrete proposals

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Hi Blog. We’ve talked before about unsophisticated columns in Japanese media regarding human rights. This one joins them. It wags a few fingers and applauds some local moves to eliminate hate speech, but it still has trouble going beyond vague urgings to actually advocate for the root solution: passing a law with criminal penalties against racial discrimination. Until this law in specific is part of the media’s steady drumbeat of finger-wagging, advocating a mere patchwork of local-level patches is again, a half-measure.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

Editorial: To end hate speech, Japan must face its deep-rooted discriminatory thinking
June 8, 2017 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of AK and JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170608/p2a/00m/0na/019000c

It has been a year since Japan’s anti-hate speech law took effect. And over that year, the number of demonstrations targeting specific races or ethnicities has apparently declined.

Public institutions have been doing their part. Courts have issued provisional injunctions against holding hate speech demonstrations in certain places, while police forces have been boosting supervision and control of such demonstrations, and these measures seem to be having a real impact.

Nevertheless, we still see an endless stream of hateful language in Japan, starting, but by no means ending, with “go home!” and “kick them out!”

Hate speech is a social disease. It is extremely important for the idea that hate speech is unforgiveable to permeate society as a whole.

The hate speech law commits local administrations to work with the central government on eliminating discrimination. We call on these bodies to tackle the problem proactively.

According to a recent announcement, the municipal government of Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, will draw up guidelines as early as this autumn that would allow city officials to issue warnings or refuse applications to use public facilities if they suspect the applicant will engage in discriminatory speech or conduct. In other words, the guidelines set out measures to halt hate speech gatherings before they happen, and the city will call for the opinions of third-party observers to make sure the guidelines are applied fairly.

It is perfectly natural to make sure that countermeasures against hate speech demonstrations do not lead to curbs on freedom of expression, but hate speech clearly violates human rights. We would like to see local governments across the country consider hate speech regulations in line with local conditions.

While street demonstrations have declined over the past year, online hate speech appears to have been reinvigorated. Dealing with this is an urgent task.

The Osaka Municipal Government recently announced the online handles of three users confirmed to have posted hate speech videos on the internet, as well as the content of the images. The move was based on a municipal ordinance passed last July, the first of its kind in Japan.

Meanwhile, it should be remembered that even primary school children use computers and smartphones. Educating school children about online hate ought to be a national project.

There is some disturbing data on the prevalence of hate speech in Japan.

In March this year, the Justice Ministry released its first-ever survey of racial and ethnic discrimination in Japan. The survey, which was conducted late last year, covered about 4,200 medium- and long-term foreign residents of this country including Koreans. It found that some 30 percent of respondents had been the target of “discriminatory speech.” Forty percent said they had been refused a home rental contract.

Japanese people’s coexistence with foreigners and people from different cultural backgrounds is indispensable to Japan. It is a must for us to face up to the discriminatory thinking deeply rooted in our society in an effort to eradicate hate speech in Japan.
ENDS

【Related】Kawasaki looks at guidelines for regulating hate speech
【Related】Ex-hate speech group core member regretful on anniv. of clampdown law
【Related】Osaka city releases online user names of people behind hate speech videos

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

PS:  Compare the Mainichi with the Japan Times Editorial on the same anniversary of the Hate Speech Law. At least it’s more specific: “Local officials need to secure enough manpower and funding to effectively assist citizens suffering from hate speech and behavior. Citizens’ groups can set up funds to help victims sue for damages. Since the law covers only hate speech against foreign residents, there are calls for expanding its scope to fight offensive language against other minorities, including people with disabilities, indigenous peoples like the Ainu and descendants of historically segregated communities.”

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

Japanese version

社説
ヘイト対策法施行から1年 社会の病理を克服したか
毎日新聞2017年6月8日 東京朝刊
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20170608/ddm/005/070/094000c

「ヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)対策法」の施行から1年がたった。侮辱的な言葉で特定の人種や民族への差別をあおるデモは、減少傾向にあるという。

裁判所が特定の地域でのデモ実施を禁じる仮処分決定を出したり、警察が取り締まりを強化したりするなど、公的機関の対応が一定の抑止効果を生んでいるのは確かだろう。

それでも、「帰れ」「たたき出せ」といった乱暴な言葉を使うヘイトスピーチはなお後を絶たない。

ヘイトスピーチは社会の病理だ。それを許さない当たり前の社会規範が浸透することが大切である。

地方自治体は、国とともに差別解消に必要な措置を講じる責務を対策法で課せられている。積極的な対応が求められる。

川崎市は、施設の利用申請者が差別的な言動を行う可能性がある場合、警告や利用不許可の措置が取れるように、今秋にもガイドラインを作成し公表する予定だ。事前規制につながる内容のため、市は第三者の意見を求め公平な運用を目指す。

「表現の自由」に留意することは当然だが、ヘイトスピーチは明確な人権侵害だ。各自治体は地域の実態に沿った規制策を検討してほしい。

街頭デモが減少する一方で、インターネット空間でのヘイトスピーチは、むしろ活性化しているように見える。その対策は喫緊の課題だ。

大阪市はこのほど、ヘイトスピーチと認定したネット上の動画3件の内容や投稿者名(ユーザー名)を公表した。昨年7月、全国で初めて制定した条例に基づく措置という。

小学生でもパソコンやスマートフォンを利用する。教育現場での啓発に国全体で取り組むべきだろう。

残念なデータがある。

法務省は3月、在日韓国・朝鮮人を含む約4200人の中長期滞在外国人を対象にした差別に関する調査結果を公表した。昨年末に初めて行われたものだ。

3割の人が差別的発言を「受けた」とし、4割の人がアパートなどの入居を「断られた」と回答した。

外国人や文化が異なる人との共生は、日本社会にとって欠かせない。社会に根を張る差別意識と向き合うことが必要だ。それをヘイトスピーチの根絶につなげたい。

ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Cannataci’s letter:

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

From Kaye’s introduction:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now for the New York Times article:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

NORIO MARUYAMA, TOKYO

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

ENDS

===================================
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Kyodo: “A year after enactment of hate speech law, xenophobic rallies down by nearly half”, but hateful language continues, mutates

mytest

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Hi Blog. Good news, according to Kyodo below, is that the number of hate-speech rallies in Japan has gone down significantly. Some mixed news, however, is that haters have found ways to temper their hate speech so that it avoids extreme invective (such as advocating death and destruction), but continues nonetheless with the public denigration of minorities and outsiders. Hence the new law is working, but it’s causing sophistication and subtlety in message. Sort of like replacing “Japanese Only” signs with “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”, and in practice only applying the rule to foreign-looking people.

Hence the need for something more comprehensive. Stage Two of anti-racism legislation, as Ryang Yong Song of the Anti Racism Information Center says in the article, would be this: “For the last year, discussions only focused on what is hate speech and the scope of freedom of expression, but that is not enough. A law is needed to ban all kinds of discrimination including ethnicity, birth and disability.”

As Debito.org has been advocating for decades, let’s have that law against racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu teppai hou).  A law against hate speech is good, but it’s a half-measure. Dr. Debito Arudou

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

A year after enactment of hate speech law, xenophobic rallies down by nearly half
KYODO/JAPAN TIMES MAY 22, 2017
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/22/national/social-issues/year-enactment-hate-speech-law-xenophobic-rallies-nearly-half/

The number of xenophobic rallies in which ultra-right-wing groups use discriminatory language has dropped by nearly half in the 11 months since the Diet enacted a law to deter hate speech, the National Police Agency said.

While statistics show some positive impact from the law, legal experts are starting to point out its limitations because groups are finding ways to circumvent it by modifying their language at rallies to avoid obvious epithets but still express the same kind of bigotry.

From June 3, 2016, through the end of April, police nationwide tallied 35 demonstrations involving hate speech versus 61 in the same period a year earlier.

[…]

Designed to curb hate speech, the law urges the central and municipal governments to take measures to eliminate discrimination. However, it stops short of prohibiting or penalizing such speech for fear that doing so would violate the constitutional right to freedom of expression.

The Justice Ministry has shown municipal governments examples of hate speech, including phrases that urge others to “kill people” of a certain nationality, “throw them into the ocean,” tell them to “return to their homeland” or describe them as “cockroaches.”

But Satoko Kitamura, a lawyer investigating hate speech rallies, told the Diet earlier this month that organizers have been “contriving ways so that (their demonstrations) will not be recognized as adopting hate speech.”

She said participants in demonstrations in Tokyo, Saitama and Fukuoka raised signs that said “Die Korea” or chanted a slogan that said, “Please enter the Sea of Japan.”

“The Justice Ministry is calling on municipal governments to take into consideration the contexts and meaning of the expressions. As long as there are people who feel they are targeted and offended, such language must also be considered hate speech,” Kitamura said.

Iruson Nakamura, a 47-year-old journalist whose mother is a Korean resident of Japan, said, “(Hate-motivated) demonstrations have continued and online speech that incites discrimination is uncontrolled. Prohibitive measures must be sought by amending the law or enacting ordinances.”

Read whole article at:
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/22/national/social-issues/year-enactment-hate-speech-law-xenophobic-rallies-nearly-half/
////////////////////////////////////

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Japan’s High School Hair Police: Asahi on “Survey: 57% of Tokyo HSs demand hair-color proof”. Still.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Ten years ago I wrote a JT column on Japan’s “Hair Police”, i.e., how Japanese schools force their kids of diverse backgrounds to conform to a Wajin ideal of “black straight hair” imposed by inflexible school rules, and dye their hair black.  It’s recently been revisited by the Asahi and Business Insider.com.

As I wrote back then, the damage to children is both physiological (Google “hair coloring” and “organ damage” and see what reputable sources, such as the American Journal of Epidemiology and the National Institutes of Health, have to say about side effects: lymphatic cancer, cataracts, toxins, burns from ammonium persulfate), and psychological.  And yet it persists.

And not as a fringe-element trend — the majority of Tokyo high schools (the most possibly cosmopolitan of the lot) police hair color.  In any case, woe betide Japan’s Visible Minorities for daring to not “look Japanese” enough.  Here are the two articles, the second of which actually references my old JT column.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

Survey: 57% of Tokyo high schools demand hair-color proof
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN May 1, 2017, courtesy of AT
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201705010035.html

Photo: Some Tokyo-run high schools ask guardians to sign and seal a form to verify students’ claims of having naturally light-colored or curly hair. (Ippei Minetoshi)

Nearly 60 percent of public high schools in Tokyo ask students with light-colored hair for proof, such as childhood photos, that these locks are their “real hair,” an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.

Many schools run by the Tokyo metropolitan government prohibit their students from dyeing or perming their hair as part of the dress code. The system of asking for “proof of real hair” was introduced to prevent schools from scolding or humiliating students whose hair is not naturally black.

The Asahi Shimbun interviewed all 173 full-time high schools run by the Tokyo metropolitan government on whether they ask students to submit forms of “proof of real hair.”

Ninety-eight of the 170 schools that responded to the survey answered “yes,” representing 57 percent of all schools contacted.

At least 19 schools ask their students to submit pictures of themselves as infants or junior high school students to prove the true color of their hair, the survey showed.

“Some students insist that their hair is natural even though it is dyed,” said a teacher at a metropolitan-run school in Setagaya Ward. “We ask their parents to confirm these claims as their responsibility.”

The style of the form varies from school to school. Most schools ask guardians to describe their children’s hair, such as, “My child’s hair is brown,” on the forms. The guardians’ seals are required to validate the information.

The number of students who submit the forms ranges from a few to a few dozen every year at each school.

Many schools hand out forms to new students who appear to have dyed or permed hair at a school information session attended by their guardians before the beginning of the academic year.

The school said the forms are intended to avoid unnecessary problems with the students if they are admitted. But the forms also show that the school is making efforts in providing “non-academic guidance.”

As the nation’s birthrate declines, competition between public schools and private schools to secure enrollees has intensified. Strict discipline can be a strong selling point.

Katsufumi Horikawa, chief of the guidance department at Tokyo’s board of education, said asking for proof of natural hair “is a valid process to prevent mistaken warnings to students (with naturally non-black or curly hair) and making them feel bad.”

However, he expressed concerns that some schools are going too far.

“Photographs are private documents, and extra consideration to protect personal rights is needed,” Horikawa said.

The education board of Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, said it is “aware of the practice at several high schools.” Also in the Tokyo metropolitan area, Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures said they do not have information about the practice.
ENDS

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

Most Tokyo high schools demand students prove their real hair color, study finds
Business Insider.com, by Chris Weller
May 4, 2017, courtesy of BS
http://www.businessinsider.com/japanese-students-hair-color-2017-5

In the US, dress-code violations might include an offensive t-shirt or a mini skirt. In Japan, a dye job can do you in.

According to a new survey published by Tokyo news outlet The Asahi Shimbun, 57% of public high schools in the city require students to prove that their hair color is natural.

The measure is designed to uphold strict Japanese standards regarding physical appearance: In addition to prohibiting students from perming or dyeing their hair, many Japanese schools mandate crisp, respectable dress and don’t allow overly long or unkempt hair.

According to Asahi Shimbun, 98 of the 170 schools surveyed by the paper had such a policy in place. The number of children who’d been made to prove their hair color was real ranged from a few to a few dozen during the most recent school year.

“Some students insist that their hair is natural even though it is dyed,” one teacher told Asahi Simbun. “We ask their parents to confirm these claims as their responsibility.”

Unlike the US, Japan’s population is fairly homogeneous. As a result, the culture often places a premium on uniformity — even slight deviations from the norm tend to stand out, and provoke criticism in more conservative circles.

Natsuko Fujimaki, a Tokyo-based entrepreneur, says this is where the Japanese concept of majime comes into play. The term refers to a preference for order, tidiness, and often perfectionism. It tracks closely with a desire to stay reserved and sensible in comportment.

“They try to follow the rules for everything,” Fujimkai [sic] tells Business Insider.

In order to prove that a student’s hair is natural, schools will often ask parents to submit childhood photos depicting the kid’s hair color. In less extreme cases, parents only need to verify in writing (with a signature) that their child’s hair hasn’t been treated in any way.

The practice is not new. Even a decade ago, some schools required students to prove they hadn’t dyed or curled their hair. In extreme cases, schools would even require foreign-born students to dye their hair to conform to the rest of the student body as part of a forced assimilation process.

“Every week teachers would check if Nicola was dyeing her hair brown,” a Brazilian-born student named Maria told Japan Times of her sister, Nicola, in 2007. “Even though she said this is her natural color, she was instructed to straighten and dye it black. She did so once a week. But the ordeal traumatized her. She still has a complex about her appearance.”

Hair dye and perms aren’t the only beauty choices subject to Japanese dress-code standards. Many male students can’t wear spiky or messy hairstyles, allow their hair to cover their eyes, or let it grow past their collars. Some schools require female students to pin their hair back “in a way that does not interfere with classroom instruction,” as one school’s code put it.

According to Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s falling birth rate plays a role in these rules. With fewer students to fill the schools, public and private schools have started competing for parents’ attention. One strategy they’ve adopted: Highlight their strict hair policies to show how majime they are about education, in hopes parents will be impressed by the rigor.

Some critics say the requirement that students prove their hair is natural violates their privacy.

Meanwhile, advocates allege it does the students a favor, since one verification process can prevent headmasters from constantly asking whether a child’s hair is real. They say asking for initial proof ends up sparing kids even greater psychological harm.
ENDS

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PDF versions here (click on link):
Kurosu2
KurosuArticleJP

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

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

=============================
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Reader StrepThroat: Medical prescriptions for foreign patients gauged to ineffectual children’s doses, regardless of patient size considerations

mytest

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Hi Blog.  We’ve dealt with cases of hospitals refusing to treat NJ patients before (see some cases here).  Here’s something that’s never come up on Debito.org before:  How even when NJ receive treatment, medicines may be ineffectual due to low dosages.  Check this out.  I’m not a doctor (well, not one that can write prescriptions), so I hope members of the medical community can weigh in on this one.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

From: StrepThroat
Subject: Fwd: Indirect discrimination in prescriptions?
Date: May 6, 2017
To: debito@debito.org

Dear Debito,

I don’t tend to get sick often but just my luck, I was hit with some evil form of strep throat just as Golden Week started. After hours of hunting down an open hospital, and then another hour or so to hunt down an open pharmacist, I had my prescription antibiotic cut down to 2/3rds the prescription at the pharmacy. Apparently the doctor had taken my size into consideration when writing the prescription…but the pharmacists called him out on it exceeding the maximum daily dosage. I protested but was ultimately left with what the rest of the world considers a children’s dosage. After speaking with the pharmacist, doctor, and other pharmacists, what I found was the maximum dosage of certain medications is regulated by law and the maximum dosages for sales within Japan are determined by trials done exclusively on ethnic Japanese. I’m hardly a huge guy but at 75kg, I’m surely larger than the average Japanese. so this results in less than ideal dosages for nearly everything. For example, this time I was given:

acetaminophen:

Extra Strength Tylenol is 1000mg every 6 hours.
Normal Tylenol is 650mg every 6 hours.
Childrens Tylenol is 500mg every 6 hours.
Japanese Calonol is 400mg every 6 hours.

clarithromycin:

Overseas recommended dosage is 250-500mg twice a day.
Japanese dosage is 200mg twice a day.

Huscode 741 combo pills

Overseas adult dosage is 3 pills, 3 times a day.
Overseas children’s dosage is 2 pills 3 times a day.
Japan dosage is 2 pills, 3 times a day.

Basically, strict regulation of dosage size, based on the average ethnic Japanese rather than a more reasonable system based on body weight or age like in other countries. The end result is ineffective, children’s dosing or less for those of us who don’t fit the garigari average Japanese body size standard.

Probably not intentional racism but the narrow-minded mindset to use only locals for domestic Japanese consumptions means at the end of the day, it is likely to affect most NJ patients as well as any Japanese that are larger than the average Japanese. Every doc and pharmacist agreed the dosages were too small but gave the usual shogainai/gamanshikadekinai answers.

Sincerely yours, StrepThroat

========================
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UPDATE:  Asahi: Joe Kurosu MD on ineffectually low doses of prescription medicine for NJ patients and bureaucratic intransigence, in the Asahi Shinbun http://www.debito.org/?p=14616

Nikkei: ‘No foreigners allowed’: Survey shows heavy discrimination in Japan (which editorializing Nikkei Asian Review tries to excuse and dismiss)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Following my most recent JBC column on the MOJ Foreign Residents Survey (which showed significant and substantial rates of “foreigner discrimination” in Japan, particularly in housing), we have the right-of-center Nihon Keizai Shinbun (roughly equivalent to the Wall Street Journal in stature and tone) offering their interpretation of the Survey.  Note the editorializing (which I will point out within the article below [in square brackets]) to try to be discounting or dismissive of the report — trying to pass it off as somehow “worries” about mere cultural misunderstandings, or issues not serious enough to seek help for.

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

‘No foreigners allowed’: Survey shows heavy discrimination in Japan
40% are refused housing because they are not Japanese
NIKKEI ASIAN REVIEW, April 6, 2017, Courtesy of JH
By TSUBASA SURUGA, Nikkei staff writer
http://asia.nikkei.com/Japan-Update/No-foreigners-allowed-Survey-shows-heavy-discrimination-in-Japan

TOKYO — Nearly 40% of foreign residents seeking housing in Japan are turned down because they are not Japanese, according to a new government survey. Roughly the same percentage also report being refused housing due to the lack of a Japanese guarantor.

[Aha.  So let’s immediately mitigate the problem by saying it’s a systemic issue, one that applies to Japanese too.  Even though it’s a lot tougher for NJ to get guarantors because they don’t have family or other “credible” connections in Japan, meaning it’s still slanted against the NJ renter regardless.]

Nearly 27% of the 2,044 foreign respondents who had sought new housing within the past five years reported giving up on a potential residence after discovering a notice saying “no foreigners allowed.”

“The landlord told [me and my husband] that the house is not for foreigners,” a Filipino woman in her forties was quoted as saying in the survey, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Justice.

“We visited a different real estate agent, but they said a Japanese guarantor was required,” she said. “We explained that we were both permanent residents, only to be declined because we did not meet the conditions.”

These rejections, however, are not necessarily motivated by racism.

[But that’s not what the survey says.  This is the Nikkei offering their interpretation.  And look at their reasoning:]

Many landlords fear they may not be able to communicate easily with foreign tenants. Other reasons for refusal to rent include worries that foreign tenants will not follow Japanese customs, such as taking off their shoes inside the house.

[And that’s not racism?  Presuming that foreign tenants cannot communicate?  And justifying the denial of housing due to unfounded “worries” that people allegedly WON’T TAKE OFF THEIR SHOES!?  How would Nikkei editors feel if they were stationed overseas, but were refused apartments because of landlord “worries” that Japanese eat too much rice and might clog the toilets with their BMs?  (We already get enough Japanese grousing about racism when they get seated in an overseas restaurant too close to the toilet.)  On what planet would this not be interpreted as a normalization of prejudice expressed performatively as racism?  I guess Planet Nikkei.]

The survey, the first of its kind conducted by the government, was aimed at obtaining a detailed understanding of human-rights abuses faced by foreigners as Japan at a time when the country is preparing from a dramatic influx in foreign visitors due to the coming of 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The number of foreign residents reached an all-time high of 2.38 million at the end of 2016, up 6.7% on the year, according to the ministry.

The survey was conducted by the Center for Human Rights Education and Training across 37 areas nationwide between November and December last year. The organization mailed surveys to 18,500 foreign residents and received 4,252 responses.

Chinese and South Koreans combined accounted for over half of the adult respondents, followed by Filipinos, at 6.7%, Brazilians, 5.2%, and Vietnamese, 4.8%.

Of the 2,788 respondents who either worked in Japan or were looking for work here, 25% said they were denied employment because they were not Japanese. The report suggested that language ability did not appear to be the problem, as nearly 95% of those respondents said they spoke conversational, professional-level or fluent Japanese.

About 20% of those working in Japan said they received lower pay than their Japanese counterparts in the same job.

Nearly 30% of all respondents said they had been the target of derogatory remarks or insults due to their ethnic background in the past five years. Of those respondents, about 80% called the experience “unpleasant” or “unacceptable.” However, only 11% had sought help or consultation in response.

[And what’s the point of pointing out like this that they hadn’t sought help or consultation?  That it’s their fault for not seeking help, or that it wasn’t serious enough an issue to bother?  Perhaps they know by now that seeking official assistance in Japan is generally meaningless (see for example here, here, and here)]
ENDS

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

So many little needles, Nikkei, so little tolerance for news that reflects badly on Japan.  That’s why getting rid of Japan’s embedded racism is so difficult — it’s embedded in even the most mainstream of publications and discounted for whatever reasons plausible.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

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Japan Times JBC column 107: “Time to act on insights from landmark survey of Japan’s foreign residents” Apr 26, 2017

mytest

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Hi Blog. My next Japan Times Just Be Cause column has just come out. Here’s the opening:

===================================
TIME TO ACT ON INSIGHTS FROM LANDMARK SURVEY OF JAPAN’S FOREIGN RESIDENTS

The Japan Times, JUST BE CAUSE Column 107, Thursday April 27, 2017, by Debito Arudou

As promised, in March the Justice Ministry released the results of a survey on Japan’s foreign residents (gaikokujin juumin chousa), conducted last year (see “Government, Survey Thyself,” JBC Mar. 5). Compiled by the “Center for Human Rights Education and Training” public-interest foundation (www.jinken.or.jp), it surveyed the types and degrees of discrimination that foreigners face here. (The report in Japanese is at http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001221782.pdf.)

And as promised, here’s JBC’s synopsis of those results:

The report opens with a statement of purpose, talking about the pressures to “live together” (kyousei) with foreigners due to internationalization and globalization, not to mention the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Record numbers of foreigners are crossing Japan’s borders, bringing with them different languages and customs, and “so-called” hate speech demos are also causing “numerous human rights problems.” So to lay the groundwork for human rights protections for foreigners, this survey would grasp the issues directly facing foreigners “staying” (zairyuu) in Japan…
===================================

Read the rest in the Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/04/26/issues/time-act-insights-landmark-survey-japans-foreign-residents/.

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

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

mytest

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

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

It reads:

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

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

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

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

ILLUSTRATIONS:  WHAT IS THIS PERSON UP TO?

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

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

PLEASE COOPERATE IN UNCOVERING FOREIGN ILLEGAL OVERSTAYS AND ILLEGAL WORKERS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————–

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Yomiuri on “Sharp decline in tourist spending”, with GOJ measures to certify NJ in “Cool Japan” for preferential visas

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader JK sends articles that indicate that the Japanese Government wants tourists to come in and spend more money (without doing the legal groundwork necessary to stop them being discriminated against), and is willing to bribe the NJ already here with preferential visas if they get certified in “Cool Japan”, i.e., become shills. Kinda smart in terms of incentive systems, but very cynical — and those critical of Japan, of course, need not apply. The pressure to unquestionably “like” Japan is already omnipresent, and now reinforced as public policy. Dr. Debito Arudou

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

From:  JK
Hi Debito:

From the article: “What’s needed are initiatives that introduce [tourists to] things that are great about Japan, like hot springs, Japanese cuisine, and local history and culture.”

Well, that and no ‘Japanese only’ signs at hot springs, restaurants, etc…

Sharp decline in tourists’ spending
The Yomiuri Shimbun Courtesy of JK
7:49 pm, January 18, 2017
By Toru Ando and Yuto Yoshida / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003466816

While a record 24 million-plus foreign tourists came to Japan last year, spending per person dropped sharply in 2016, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

Fewer foreign visitors are engaging in extravagant shopping sprees, so figuring out how to use Japan’s charms to increase tourism outside major metropolitan areas and encourage longer stays is becoming an issue. A total of 24,039,000 foreign tourists visited Japan in 2016.

The agency on Tuesday released the results of a survey on foreign tourists’ consumption in 2016. The increase in the number of tourists pushed overall spending to a record ¥3.75 trillion, but per-person spending was down 11.5 percent from the previous year to ¥155,896, the largest drop ever recorded.

Behind the decline was the yen’s appreciation from the previous year, as well as a change in the purpose of travel from “consumption” through shopping and other means, to trips aimed at “experiencing things” such as nature and culture.

The government hopes to raise per-person spending to ¥200,000 by 2020. But Takeshi Okano, a senior researcher at Daiwa Institute of Research Holdings Ltd., was skeptical.

“There’s a limit to widening the scope of tourism if only consumption is focused on. What’s needed are initiatives that introduce [tourists to] things that are great about Japan, like hot springs, Japanese cuisine, and local history and culture. These efforts should be aimed at getting people to make repeat visits,” he said.

However, tourists tend to concentrate in major cities.

On Monday, a 19-year-old university student from Shanghai was in the Akihabara district of Tokyo. “I bought some figurines from anime I like,” he said, looking satisfied with his first trip to Japan.

Robert Macolino, a 56-year-old Australian, was shopping in the Ginza district of Tokyo. Macolino said he had also visited Kyoto and Nara, and appreciated the different charms of each city.

The main tourist destinations are concentrated in the so-called golden route that connects Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and other major cities. First-time visitors to Japan are even more likely to stick to these areas. Figuring out how to buck this trend and get tourists to visit other regions is a major challenge.

Starting this fiscal year, the Japan Tourism Agency is helping local regions that share tourism resources — such as modern architecture, sake brewing, or shrines and temples — create themed tours. For instance, Shizuoka, Aichi, Saitama, Tochigi and Miyagi prefectures are receiving state funds to plan and promote tours of their shrines and temples with strong connections to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun in the Edo period.

“Areas outside the major cities have many great tourism resources. Visitors to these areas will increase if we make them better known and get the information out there,” an official at the agency said.
ENDS

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

Hi Debito.  Here’s another.  My gut reaction is that the GOJ is trying to exploit NJ possessing a certain degree of acculturation for their labor, what do you think? Regards -JK

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

‘Cool Japan’ smarts may give foreigners a residence edge
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003452588
8:44 pm, January 18, 2017
The Yomiuri Shimbun

The government is considering establishing a certification test for assessing the competency and know-how of foreigners engaged in activities related to the “Cool Japan” initiative, such as anime and fashion. The aim is to accept more of these foreigners into National Strategic Special Zones, according to sources.

The government intends to relax the requirements for obtaining resident status for candidates who meet certain competency criteria and conditions. The plan is aimed at foreign students graduating from Japanese vocational schools, the sources said.

By creating a friendly working environment for foreigners with strong interests in Japanese culture, the government aims to increase the number of foreigners with an intimate familiarity with Japan. They could then serve as informal bridges for future exchanges between Japan and their home countries.

A working group of the government’s National Strategic Special Zones initiative is currently discussing the matter. It plans to grant resident status to foreigners after confirming their competency via certification tests and other methods. The government aims make relevant revisions to the National Strategic Special Zones Law in fiscal 2017.

Under the current residency status system, which is based on the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, foreigners who have graduated from Japanese vocational schools are not eligible for resident status due to a lack of work experience. Consequently, they cannot work in Japan despite a desire to do so. This has been recognized as a problem.

Japanese language proficiency would also be assessed in the envisaged certification test, in addition to relevant professional skills.

“More foreigners will obtain resident status,” a government source said.

The working group is considering allowing foreigners to obtain certification to stay in Japan for several years, the sources said.
ENDS
===========================

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NHK repeatedly racially profiles prototypical criminal (the only NJ person in a crowd) on TV program Close-Up Gendai, Apr 5, 2017

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader JF has this to report:

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

Date: April 5, 2017
From: JF
Re: Close Up Gendai 4/5 – Bad stereotyping
Hi Debito,

Just watched today’s Close Up Gendai on NHK, [“Can smartphones steal fingerprints? The over-transceiving society has arrived“]. Topic was how biometric data from pictures and security cameras can be used and abused.

While the experts were taking, during the entire program, they kept on showing relevant clips in the background. One of the clips shows how a face recognition system picks a criminal from a group of faces in a public place. Sure enough, among the group of Asian faces, there is one Western-looking foreigner, who happens to be “blacklisted”….

Please see attached picture taken from my TV. As reinforcement of the image linking foreigners to crime, I counted our “blacklisted” gaikokujin friend reappearing on continuous loop 6x, but I may have missed some as I just skimmed it. One in the beginning, two more in-between and the rest in the last 5 minutes when they had the discussion in the studio, including one at the very end.

What does this, on a subconscious level, suggest to the Japanese audience? Not sure if you know somebody at NHK, they should be more sensitive about these things!

When they briefly explained the face recognition system it also picked Japanese faces, but the clip that kept on running in the background only showed the foreigner being selected every single time.
Regards, JF

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

Here’s a link to the program (which even includes the foreign blacklisted person in its signature image:
http://www.nhk.or.jp/gendai/articles/3955/

View the entire program at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zx43rQql6-8

COMMENT:  It’s an interesting program in terms of content and execution, but how far the mighty have fallen.  Close-Up Gendai was one of those programs you could count on for at least trying to strike a reasonable balance.  Clearly not anymore.  Especially after the purges of the show to reflect NHK’s hostile takeover by political leaders who explicitly (as a matter of officially-stated policy) can only act as the government’s mouthpiece.

Okay then, if that’s the way you want it.  Here again we have more evidence of latent racial profiling as probable representations of government policy  — NJ are more likely to be criminals (if not terrorists — watch from minute 18:30), all over again.  Beware of them in a crowd!  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

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Unprecedented Ministry of Justice survey of NJ discrimination results out, officially quantifies significantly high rates of unequal treatment

mytest

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Hi Blog. As promised, the Ministry of Justice’s official survey on discrimination against foreigners (alas, not “racial discrimination”) came out late last month. Debito.org first reported on this survey some months ago, received primary-source information on it from a Debito.org Reader, and then did a Japan Times column on it. Now the results are out, and they have officialized the levels of discrimination against NJ residents nationwide. I’ll refrain from comment at the moment (Debito.org Readers, please feel free to take up the slack), but for the record, the entire report from the MOJ is here (courtesy of TH). Thanks everyone for all the articles, and for your patience in my getting to this. Dr. Debito Arudou

REFERENTIAL ARTICLES:
////////////////////////////////////////
30% of foreigners living in Japan claim discrimination: gov’t survey
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170331/p2a/00m/0na/016000c
March 31, 2017 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK

Some 29.8 percent of foreign residents of Japan have experienced discrimination in the past five years, according to Justice Ministry survey results released on March 31.

The survey was conducted in November and December last year on 18,500 mid-to-long-term foreign residents aged 18 or over, including ethnic Koreans with special permanent resident status. Responses were received from 4,252 people.

The survey was carried out with the cooperation of 37 municipal governments, including those of Tokyo’s Minato Ward and the cities of Sapporo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka. By nation of origin, the greatest number of respondents was from China, at 1,382 people, or 32.5 percent, followed by South Korea at 941 people, or 22.1 percent, and the Philippines, at 285 people, or 6.7 percent.

Of the respondents, 1,269 said they had been the target of discriminatory language. Some 53.3 percent of these respondents, or 676 people, said the offender had been “a stranger.”

In the last five years, 2,044 of the respondents, or 48.1 percent, had looked for a home, and 804, or 39.3 percent, had the experience of being denied a lease because they were a foreigner.

Regarding their exposure to hate speech, 1,826 people, or 42.9 percent of the respondents, said they had seen or heard reports about hate speech demonstrations targeting particular races or ethnic groups through media such as television, newspaper or magazines. Some 1,416, or 33.3 percent, said they had seen reports on hate speech on the internet.

Legal affairs bureaus around the nation have sections where people can seek help regarding human rights issues, but at least 80 percent of survey respondents did not know this. A Justice Ministry representative said, “We want to consider methods to spread awareness of help centers and make them easy for foreign residents to use.”

The survey was the central government’s first ever into discrimination against foreigners. The Justice Ministry plans to examine the results and apply them to its human rights policies.

Japanese version

国内居住外国人
差別発言「受けた」3割 入居拒否も4割 法務省調査
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20170331/dde/041/040/067000c?ck=1
毎日新聞 2017年3月31日 東京夕刊

法務省は31日、国内に住む外国人を対象にした差別に関する実態調査の結果を公表した。過去5年間に日本で外国人を理由に侮辱されるなどの差別的な発言を受けた経験のある人は全体の29・8%。また、日本で住居を探した経験のある人のうち、外国人を理由に入居を断られた経験がある人は39・3%だった。外国人差別の国の実態調査は初めて。同省は結果を分析し、人権政策に反映させる。【鈴木一生】

調査は昨年11~12月、18歳以上の中長期の在留資格を持つ外国人や在日韓国・朝鮮人などの特別永住者ら1万8500人を対象とし、4252人が回答した。

東京都港区、札幌市、横浜市、名古屋市、大阪市、福岡市など全国37自治体と協力して実施。回答者の国籍・出身地域別は最多が中国32・5%(1382人)で、韓国22・1%(941人)、フィリピン6・7%(285人)と続いた。

差別的な発言を受けたと回答した外国人は1269人。「誰から言われたか」(複数回答)では「見知らぬ人」が53・3%(676人)で最も多かった。過去5年間に日本で住む家を探した経験のある人は全体の48・1%(2044人)で、外国人を理由に入居を断られた経験のある人は804人だった。

特定の人種や民族などへの憎悪をあおるヘイトスピーチを伴うデモを見聞きした経験については「テレビ、新聞、雑誌などのメディアを通じて見聞きした」と回答した人が42・9%(1826人)、「インターネットで見た」とした人が33・3%(1416人)だった。

全国の法務局・地方法務局には人権に関する相談窓口が設けられているが、知らない人が全体の8割以上を占めていた。法務省の担当者は「身近にある相談窓口の周知や、外国人の住民に気軽に利用してもらう方法を検討したい」と話している。
ENDS
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外国人の4割が入居拒否を経験 法務省調査
東京新聞 2017年3月31日 夕刊 courtesy of TH
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/politics/list/201703/CK2017033102000259.html

法務省は三十一日、日本に住む外国人を対象に初めて実施した差別や偏見に関する調査の結果を公表した。過去五年間に日本で住居を探した二千四十四人のうち、外国人であることや、日本人の保証人がいないことを理由に入居を断られた経験がある人は、それぞれ約四割だった。物件に「外国人お断り」と書かれているのを見て諦めた人も約27%いた。
日本で仕事を探したり働いたりしたことがある二千七百八十八人のうち、外国人であることを理由に就職を断られた経験がある人は25%。このうち日本語での会話ができない人はほとんどいなかった。同じ仕事をしているのに日本人より賃金が低かったと回答した人は約20%だった。
調査対象は十八歳以上の一万八千五百人で、四千二百五十二人が回答した。
全体の約30%が差別的なことを言われた経験があり、ヘイトスピーチを見たり聞いたりした四千八十五人のうち約80%は「不快」「許せない」など否定的な感情を持った。
一方、差別を受けたときにどこかに相談したことがある人は全体の約11%。法務局の人権相談窓口を知っている人も約12%にとどまった。
法務省は二〇二〇年東京五輪・パラリンピックを控えて日本に入国する外国人が増える中、人権侵害などの実態を把握する必要があると判断。公益財団法人「人権教育啓発推進センター」に調査を委託した。
調査は一六年十一月十四日~十二月五日、全国の三十七市区を対象に一市区当たり五百人を無作為に抽出して実施。国籍・出身地域別では中国と韓国で過半数を占め、フィリピン、ブラジル、ベトナムと続いた。
ENDS
////////////////////////////////////////

About 40% of foreigners seeking housing in Japan turned away: survey
TOKYO, March 31, 2017, Kyodo News, courtesy of TH
http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2017/03/466425.html

About 40 percent of foreigners have experienced being turned down when looking for a place to live in Japan because they were not Japanese, the results of a Justice Ministry survey showed Friday.

Of the 2,044 respondents who said they had tried to find residential accommodation in Japan in the past five years, 40 percent said they had been rebuffed in their efforts because they were foreigners.

Around 27 percent said they had given up on a property after seeing a notice saying foreigners are not accepted.

The ministry conducted its first-ever survey to identify the forms of discrimination faced by foreigners in Japan in the run-up to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. It randomly selected 500 foreigners aged 18 and older in each of 37 municipalities across Japan and 4,252 responded from among the 18,500 people surveyed. Multiple answers were allowed in the survey.

Chinese and South Korean nationals comprised more than half the survey participants, followed by Filipinos, Brazilians and Vietnamese.

Among 2,788 people who have either job-hunted or have worked in Japan, 25 percent said they were refused work for being a foreign national and about 20 percent said their wages were lower than Japanese employees engaged in the same work, even though most of the respondents were able to have a conversation in Japanese, the survey added.

In the survey, conducted between mid-November and early December last year, around 30 percent of all the respondents said they had been subjected to discriminatory remarks, while around 80 percent of 4,085 people who said they have either witnessed or heard hate speech developed negative feelings such as “discomfort” or “intolerance.”

Meanwhile, only around 11 percent of the total respondents said they had sought advice from an institution when faced with discrimination while only about 12 percent said they knew of consultation services offered at the Justice Ministry’s legal affairs bureaus across Japan.
ENDS

And finally, The Japan Times’s take, complete with self-hating foreigner comments beneath, as usual:

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Japan’s foreign residents offer up insights in unprecedented survey on discrimination
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, STAFF WRITER, THE JAPAN TIMES, MAR 31, 2017
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/31/national/japans-foreign-residents-sound-off-in-unprecedented-survey-on-discrimination/

Rent application denials, Japanese-only recruitment and racist taunts are among the most rampant forms of discrimination faced by foreign residents in Japan, according to the results of the country’s first nationwide survey on the issue, released Friday.

The unprecedented survey of 18,500 expats of varying nationalities at the end of last year paints a comprehensive picture of deeply rooted discrimination in Japan as the nation struggles to acclimate to a recent surge in foreign residents and braces for an even greater surge in tourists in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

It also represents the latest in a series of fledgling steps taken by Japan to curb racism, following last year’s first-ever video analysis by the Justice Ministry of anti-Korea demonstrations and the enactment of a law to eradicate hate speech.

In carrying out the survey, the Justice Ministry commissioned the Center for Human Rights Education and Training, a public foundation, to mail questionnaires to non-Japanese residents in 37 municipalities nationwide. Of the 18,500, 4,252 men and women, or 23.0 percent, provided valid responses. Nationalities included Chinese, South Koreans, Filipinos, Brazilians, Vietnamese and Americans.

The study found that 39.3 percent of 2,044 respondents who applied to rent apartments over the past five years got dismissed because they are not Japanese.

In addition, 41.2 percent said they were turned down because they couldn’t secure a Japanese guarantor, while 26.8 percent said they quit their pursuit of a new domicile after being discouraged by a “Japanese-only” prerequisite.

Workplace discrimination appears rife, too.

Of the 4,252 respondents, 2,788 said they had either worked or sought employment in Japan over the past five years. Of them, 25.0 percent said they had experienced being brushed off by potential employers because they are non-Japanese, while 19.6 percent said they were paid lower than their Japanese co-workers.

In a separate question, 29.8 percent of those who responded to the survey said they either “frequently” or “occasionally” heard race-based insults being hurled at them, mostly from strangers (53.3 percent), bosses, co-workers and business partners (38.0 percent) and neighbors (19.3 percent).

Among other examples of unpleasantness mentioned by respondents were “getting weird stares from strangers (31.7 percent),” “being harassed because of poor Japanese-language proficiency (25.1 percent)” and “being avoided in public spaces such as buses, trains and shopping malls (14.9 percent).”

“We believe this survey will serve as key basic data for us to implement policies to protect human rights of foreign nationals in the future,” Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda told reporters Friday.

The implementation of the survey is the latest sign that Japan, after years of inaction, is inching toward tackling the problem of racism as the nation becomes increasingly diverse.

A Justice Ministry statistic released last September showed that the number of permanent as well as middle- and long-term foreign residents in the country hit a record 2.307 million in June, up about 135,000 from a year earlier.

Adding to this is the advent in recent years of jingoistic rallies staged by ultraconservative civic groups on the streets of ethnic Korean neighborhoods, such as Shin-Okubo in Tokyo and Kawasaki, calling for the “massacre” of Koreans they branded as “cockroaches.”

The Justice Ministry’s first probe into hate speech concluded in March last year that 1,152 such demonstrations took place from April 2012 to September 2015 across the nation.

In a related move, an unprecedented hate speech law was enacted last year, highlighting efforts by the central government and municipalities to take steps to eliminate such vitriolic language.

Still, despite being a signatory to the U.N.-designated International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Japan has for years shied away from enacting a comprehensive law banning racism, based on the position that discrimination here is “not serious enough to legalize punitive measures against the dissemination of racist ideology and risk having a chilling effect on proper speech,” as stated by the Foreign Ministry.

Kim Myungsoo, a professor of sociology at Kwansei Gakuin University, hailed the ministry’s latest survey, saying it shed light on the reality of racism inherent to Japan that effectively discredits this government stance.

“The survey publicly confirmed the reality of victimization caused by racism in Japan, which would prevent the government from sticking to its conventional assertion,” said Kim, who himself is an ethnic Korean resident. “I believe the government is ready to change its position.”

Hiroshi Tanaka, a professor emeritus at Hitotsubashi University, said the government has much to learn from the results of this survey, noting an overwhelming 85.3 percent of the respondents said they were not aware of human rights consultation services made available by regional branches of the Justice Ministry.

But a sad irony, he pointed out, plagues these services in the first place, with foreign nationals effectively disqualified from becoming counselors there due to a law that makes having Japanese nationality a prerequisite for the post.
ENDS

=================================
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Reuters: Japan’s foreign asylum seekers tricked into Fukushima radiation clean-up

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s a scoop involving several layers of odious. It’s not just a matter of Japan’s poor or homeless (or other foreigners) being exploited for dangerous and life-threatening jobs cleaning up the radioactive mess in Fukushima.  Now Japan’s government is quite possibly complicit in tricking foreign ASYLUM SEEKERS into doing the dirty work for the sake of being granted extensions to their visa (which in the end turned out to be “a false promise”). All this under conditions where, according to the Reuters article below, “more than half of the 1,020 companies involved in decontamination violated labor and safety laws”. Further, as submitter JDG notes, “Asylum seekers in Japan tricked into doing nuclear decontamination work in Fukushima because when they get over-dosed on radiation and contaminated, the J-gov can always reject their asylum applications and deport them after all, right?”

As Debito.org has noted before, there is a metaphorical radioactivity to Fukushima that overwhelms law and order and corrodes all sense, bringing out the corrupt criminal underbelly of Japan’s bureaucratic and political worlds. Fukushima’s running-sore of an issue has undermined all integrity at the eventual expense of lives, particularly those of the most powerless in society. Six years after the event, the whitewashing of the issue continues. Dr. Debito Arudou

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Bangladeshi asylum seekers tricked into radiation clean-up: media
Reuters India, March 8, 2017, courtesy of JDG
By Minami Funakoshi and Thomas Wilson | TOKYO
http://in.reuters.com/article/us-japan-fukushima-asylumseeker-idINKBN16F0YN

FILE PHOTO – Big black plastic bags containing radiated soil, leaves and debris from the decontamination operation are dumped at a seaside, devastated by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Tomioka town, Fukushima prefecture, near Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant February 22, 2015. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

Two Bangladeshi asylum seekers in Japan cleared up radioactive contamination from one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters on the false promise doing so would win them permission to stay in the country longer, media reported on Wednesday.

The Fukushima nuclear plant suffered multiple meltdowns after being hit by a tsunami triggered by a big earthquake on March 11, 2011. Companies decontaminating areas around the plant, which usually involves removing radioactive top soil, have struggled to find workers willing to do the job.

The two men, who arrived in Japan in 2013 saying they were escaping political persecution, said they were told by brokers and construction companies that their visas would be extended if they did decontamination work, the Chunichi newspaper reported.

“We believed the visa story because they said it’s a job Japanese people don’t want to do,” Chunichi quoted one of the men, Monir Hossain, as saying.

Reuters was not able to reach the two men.

The men did the decontamination work in Iitate village, about 50 km (30 miles) south of the plant, from January to March 2015, Chunichi said.

Japan maintains tight controls on the entry of foreign workers but asylum seekers are allowed to work while their applications are reviewed. Many have permits allowing them to stay and work that have to be renewed every six months.

Mitsushi Uragami, a justice ministry official who oversees refugee recognition, said there were no residence permits on offer for people doing decontamination.

“The length of asylum seekers’ residence permits and them doing decontamination work are unrelated. If anyone is giving inaccurate explanations about this, it’s problematic,” Uragami told Reuters.

The department was investigating the case, he said.

Takuya Nomoto, an environment ministry official overseeing decontamination, said the Chunichi report did not give the names of the companies or labor brokers involved, and as such the ministry was not able to confirm it.

The Fukushima Labour Bureau said this month more than half of the 1,020 companies involved in decontamination violated labor and safety laws last year.

Reuters revealed in 2013 that homeless men were put to work clearing radioactive soil and debris in Fukushima for less than the minimum wage.

Reuters also found the clean-up depended on a little scrutinized network of subcontractors – many of them inexperienced with nuclear work and some with ties to organized crime.

(Reporting by Minami Funakoshi; Editing by Robert Birsel)
ENDS

=======================
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Japan Times JBC 106: “Government, survey thyself”, on unprecedented nationwide poll of NJ on discrimination, with one big blind spot (March 5, 2017)

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
Government of Japan, survey thyself
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
JBC 106, SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES, MAR 5, 2017

Something landmark happened late last year. Japan’s government undertook a nationwide survey of discrimination toward Japan’s long-term non-Japanese (NJ) residents.

The Foreign Residents Survey (FRS), drawn up in 13 languages, was randomly mailed last November to 18,500 NJ residents. It was widely dispersed — to about 500 names per local government.

Good. We need hard data about the breadth and depth of discrimination to deal with it. However, previous government surveys analyzed in this column (e.g., “Human rights survey stinks,” Zeit Gist, Oct. 23, 2007) had serious methodological problems. And afterwards, thanks to attention in The Japan Times, they were amended (Source: Embedded Racism p 243 fn 140). Many thanks.

So how is the survey this time? Much better. But it still needs work due to an enormous blind spot…

Read the rest at The Japan times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/03/05/issues/government-japan-survey-thyself/

Version with links to sources up shortly.
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