Pacific Affairs journal book review of “Embedded Racism”: “a timely and important contribution to social and scholarly debates about racial discrimination in Japan”

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Book Review in Pacific Affairs Journal
http://www.pacificaffairs.ubc.ca/book-reviews/book-reviews-2/forthcoming-book-reviews/ (page down)

EMBEDDED RACISM: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination. By Debito Arudou. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2015. xxvi, 349 pp. (Tables, figures.) US$110.00, cloth. ISBN 978-1-4985-1390-6.

Arudou’s book is a timely and important contribution to social and scholarly debates about racial discrimination in Japan. It comes on the heels of both the Japanese government’s 2014 official claim that an anti-racial discrimination law is not necessary (third combined report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination [CERD]), and recent developments in Japan that have politicized the issues of dual nationality and hate speech, and even the Miss Universe Japan pageant.

Arudou draws on a quarter-century of research involving personal interviews, action research, and cataloguing, to highlight micro-level observations that illuminate the broader macro-level structural workings of the racialized dimensions of what it means to be “Japanese” in Japan. The contribution of this book is not only in its richness of information, but also in Arudou’s focus on a paradoxical blind spot in both the quotidian status quo understandings of and academic discourses on racialized social dynamics in Japan: the invisibility of visible minorities. Borrowing from Critical Race Theory (CRT), and applying its analytical paradigms present in Whiteness Studies to the case of Japan, Arudou argues that “the same dynamics can be seen in the Japanese example, by substituting ‘White’ with ‘Japanese’” (322-323). He introduces the concept of embedded racism to describe the deeply internalized understandings of “Japaneseness” that structurally permeate the psyche and sociolegal elements of Japanese society, resulting in systemic discriminatory treatments of individuals based on visible differences.

Instead of defining the Self/Other binary in oft-conceptualized terms of citizenship, he uses an original Wajin/non-Wajin heuristic. By original Wajin, he refers to visually identifiable “Japanese” who are members of Japan’s dominant and privileged majority, and for non-Wajin he refers to both invisible (e.g., ethnic minorities who can pass as “Japanese”) and visible (Gaijin, foreigners and naturalized Japanese citizens who do not “look Japanese”) minorities who are not members of Japan’s dominant and privileged majority. He uses this heuristic to parse out the nuanced sociolegal-structural logics that differentiate between not only citizens and non-citizens, but also non-citizens who can phenotypically pass as “Japanese” and citizens who cannot, in which the former is often given preferential sociolegal treatment, and the latter is often subject to overt racial discrimination.

More specifically, the book opens with a theoretical primer on race and the universal processes of racialization and nation-state formation. The author then critiques how studies on Japan often suffer from flawed conceptualizations of foreignness, viewing it as a function of either ethnic differences within the Asian-phenotype community or legal membership status, thereby overlooking overt discrimination against visible minorities that are racial in nature.

The first chapter contextualizes racial discrimination in Japan and explicates Arudou’s usage of the concept of visible minority and his theory of embedded racism in the context of Japan. The second chapter then addresses the historical roots of extant racialized understandings of “Japaneseness” by tracing national self-image narratives that Arudou argues undergird the dynamics of present-day treatments of foreigners in Japan. The next chapter surveys approximately 470 cases of establishments that have engaged in racialized refusals of entry and services and three civil court lawsuits, to demonstrate that “Japaneseness” is determined by racialized paradigms such as physical appearances (37–38).

In chapter 4, Arudou explains how Japanese nationality laws, family and resident registries, and policing regulations/practices constitute the legal underpinnings of the racialized “Japanese” identity, and asserts that Japan’s legal definition of a “Japanese citizen” is closely intertwined with “Japanese bloodlines” (11). The following chapter shifts the focus to how “Japaneseness” is enforced through exclusionary education laws, visa (residence status) regimes, and racial profiling in security policing. This chapter is supplemented with chapter 6, which highlights differential judicial treatments of those who are seen as “Japanese,” and those who are not. Chapter 7 details how media representations of “foreigners” and “Japanese” as well as the criminalization of “foreigners” popularize the racialized narratives of “Japaneseness” established by the processes discussed in chapters 4 to 6.

Chapter 8 shifts gears as Arudou turns his attention to domestic civil society and international criticisms of Japan’s embedded racism, and discusses the government’s passive reactions. Arudou traces the correspondence between the government and the (CERD) before and during its first two CERD report reviews in 2001 and 2010 (but not the most recent CERD review in 2014). Chapter 9 then takes two binaries that can be used to understand how sociolegal distinctions of “Japaneseness” are often made—by nationality (citizen/non-citizen) and by visual identification (Wajin/Gaijin)—and superimposes them to form a heuristic matrix of eleven categories of “Japanese” and “foreigner.” The author thus drives his point across that social privilege and power in Japan are drawn along lines that straddle conceptual understandings of and assumptions about both legal and phenotypical memberships. The book concludes with a final chapter on the implications of embedded racism for Japan’s future as an ageing society, and argues that Japan’s demographic predicament could be mitigated if Japan can begin eliminating its racism to create a more inclusive society for all.

The book does not touch on the voices and local/community advocacy initiatives among and on behalf of visible minorities, and stops short of systematically testing how the proposed heuristic matrix and its combinations of characteristics empirically lead to differential treatment. However, it does cover a lot of ground, and would be of interest to a wide audience, from the casual reader interested in learning about the racial dynamics in Japan, to researchers with area studies interests in Japan and/or substantive field interests in international migration, ethnic and race studies, citizenship and human rights, and advocacy politics at both the domestic and international levels. Arudou argues that Japan’s passive stance to addressing racial discrimination is “the canary in the coal mine” regarding its openness to “outsiders” (xxiii), and by starting this conversation, he addresses “the elephant in the room” that needs to be reckoned with for Japan to navigate its way through its impending demographic challenges.

— Ralph Ittonen Hosoki, University of California, Irvine, USA

Ends


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

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

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

Version with links to sources

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

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

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

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

9 Priyanka Yoshikawa wins Miss World Japan

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

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

8 Japan’s multiethnic citizens score at 2016 Olympics

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

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

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

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

7 Renho Murata takes helm of the Democratic Party

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

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

6 Abubakar Awudu Suraj case loses once and for all

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

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

5 2016 Upper house elections seal Shinzo Abe’s mandate

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

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

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

4 Next generation of “Great Gaijin Massacres” loom

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

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

3 The government surveys NJ discrimination

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

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

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

2 Blowback involving NJ tourism and labor

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

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

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

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

1 Hate speech law gets passed — and enforced

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

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

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

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

Bubbling under the top 10

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

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

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

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

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

——————–
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Kyodo: Japan enacts law to prevent abuse of foreign “Trainees”. Unclear how it’ll be enforced.

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Hi Blog. Here’s a little something that may or may not matter in future. As the Abe Administration seeks to expand the NJ “Trainee” sweatshop and slave-labor program out of the construction, manufacturing, agriculture and fishery industries and into nursing (not to mention the “special economic zones” so that foreigners with college degrees and Japanese language ability will have the privilege of tilling land and weeding crops on Japanese farms; seriously), we finally have a law to prevent the widespread abuses of NJ not covered by labor laws.  Abuses so widespread, as the article says below, that “about 70 percent of some 5,200 companies and organizations that accepted trainees last year were found to have violated laws,” according to the GOJ.  That’s quite a stat.

Now will this law be enforced? Remains to be seen.  I’m not sure how this governmental “body to carry out on-site inspections at companies and organizations using the program and offer counseling services for participating workers” will work in practice.  We’ve already seen how ineffectual other human-rights organs for “counseling” (such as the Ministry of Justice’s Potemkin Bureau of Human Rights) are in Japan.  And there are all manner of institutionalized incentives (and decades of established practice) for people to turn blind eyes.  After all, the only ones being hurt by this slavery program are foreigners, and they can just go back home if they don’t like it.  (Except that they can’t.)  Debito.org will keep you posted on developments. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

////////////////////////////////////////
Japan enacts law to prevent abuse of foreign trainees
KYODO/JAPAN TIMES
NOV 18, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/11/18/national/japan-enacts-law-prevent-abuse-foreign-trainees/

In an effort to prevent human rights abuses in the workplace, a law was enacted Friday to improve supervision of companies that accept foreign workers under a government program.

The move comes after the government decided recently to include nursing care in the list of industries in which foreign trainees can work under the Technical Intern Training Program, following the related legislation’s passage through the Upper House.

The change is expected to lead to an increase in the number of foreigners working as nursing caregivers in Japan, where demand for such services is expected to grow as the population grays.

Japan introduced the training program for foreign nationals in 1993 with the aim of transferring skills to developing countries. It currently covers 74 job categories chiefly in construction, manufacturing, agriculture and fishery industries.

But the scheme has faced charges both within and outside Japan that it is a cover for importing cheap labor. There have been reports of harsh working conditions, including illegally long work hours and nonpayment of wages.

To tackle such illicit handling of foreign trainees, Japan will establish a body to carry out on-site inspections at companies and organizations using the program and offer counseling services for participating workers.

Since August, the Justice Ministry has instructed more than 200 mediator groups to stop using phrases such as “securing labor” in their advertisements calling on companies to accept foreign trainees. The government says the mediator groups bear the task of making sure the firms are accepting the trainees to transfer technical skills and make international contributions.

According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, about 70 percent of some 5,200 companies and organizations that accepted trainees last year were found to have violated laws, with offenses including having trainees work illegally long hours.

A 26-year-old Vietnamese man who is trained for machinery use in Gifu Prefecture said some of his friends left companies after suffering violence from Japanese employees.

Under the new law, penalties will be imposed to ban employers from confiscating foreign trainees’ passports against their will and restricting their movements.

Companies that are judged as treating foreign trainees fairly will be allowed to have them work for up to five years, instead of the currently allowed three-year maximum.

When nursing care services are encompassed by the training program, it will be the first time that foreign trainees will be engaged in offering services directly to other people.

The government is planning to require the trainees to have a certain level of Japanese language skills to prevent communication problems when dealing with co-workers and people in their care.
ENDS

==============================
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JT: The flip side of coveted public-sector jobs in Japan: fewer rights, by being excepted from labor laws

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Hi Blog.  Once again, the JT comes out with an insightful article about the difference between appearance and reality, especially in Japan’s labor market.  Okunuki Hifumi tells us about how Japan’s most-coveted job — civil servant (!) — actually comes with at a price of fewer rights under Japan’s labor laws.  Depending on your status, bureaucrats lack the right to strike, collectively bargain, or unionize (not to mention, as it wasn’t in this article, engage in “political activities”).  And that can severely weaken their ability to fight back when labor abuses occur (see in particular footnote 6) or, as schoolteachers, to educate students about politics.  Read on.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito.

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

(Photo Caption) Pop quiz: Which of these types of government worker has the right to strike — tax inspectors, schoolteachers, firefighters or public health workers? Answer: None of the above, thanks to an Occupation-era law designed to tamp down the influence of communism. | KYODO PHOTO

The flip side of coveted public-sector jobs in Japan: fewer rights
BY HIFUMI OKUNUKI, SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES, AUG 21, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/08/21/issues/flip-side-coveted-public-sector-jobs-japan-less-rights/

I research labor law and teach it to university students. In the first class, I break up the two groups of labor laws — those related to individual and collective labor relations — for my students. Individual labor relations law begins and ends with the 1947 Labor Standards Act (rōdō kijun hō); its collective counterpart is surely the 1950 Trade Union Act (rōdō kumiai hō).

About 99.9 percent of my 18-20-year-olds look blank the first time they hear the word “rōdō kumiai,” or labor union. Some of them have arubaito (part-time jobs) and thus already have become rōdōsha (workers) protected by labor laws, but they have not heard of labor unions and have no idea what such a creature looks like. I have my work cut out trying to explain to them the concepts of labor unions, collective bargaining and striking.

A popular professional aspiration among university students today is to join the ranks of kōmuin, or government employees. Civil servants have stable employment, meaning they don’t have to worry about the possibility of being laid off. Their work hours and days off are usually quite favorable compared with those at private-sector firms. (At least that is what is said — that is the reputation. The reality is not so straightforward.)

Once, the hot jobs were high-income positions with finance firms or trading houses, but today’s youth are more sober, preferring a steady, grounded career path. A 2015 poll by Adecco Group asked children between 6 and 15 years old in seven Asian countries and regions what they wanted to be when they grow up. Children in Japan answered in the following order of popularity: 1) company worker; 2) soccer player; 3) civil servant; 4) baseball player. Note the perhaps unexpected answers ranking 1) and 3). “Government employee” made the top 10 only in Japan. […]

Amazingly, each type of civil servant has different labor rights in Japan. I ordinarily teach labor law that protects private-sector employees, so when I tell my students that the labor laws for civil servants differ by type of job, they express shock, particularly when they find out that civil servants have fewer rights than other workers…

Read the rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/08/21/issues/flip-side-coveted-public-sector-jobs-japan-less-rights/

============================
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Japan Times: “Five-year rule” triggers “Tohoku college massacre” of jobs; harbinger of a larger looming purge, sez Debito.org

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Hi Blog. Debito.org has talked at length about the “Great Gaijin Massacre of 1992-4,” where National and Public Universities decided to terminate en masse (at the urging of the Ministry of Education) their foreign faculty who were over 35 years old 1) as a cost-cutting measure, and 2) because they could — since most NJ were on contract employment (meaning one could be “fired” through a simple contract non-renewal), while full-time J faculty were almost always employed on permanent non-contracted tenure from day one. “Academic Apartheid” is what respected scholars such as Ivan Hall called it. And conditions have not really gotten better, as (again through government design) more full-time Japanese faculty are being put on contract employment themselves, while far fewer full-time NJ are being granted permanent tenure.

Now we have a new looming massacre. The labor laws changed again in 2013 to require employers to stop keeping people on perpetual renewable contract status. After five years of employment, employers must switch them to permanent noncontracted status. Well, the five-year mark is April 1, 2018, meaning there is an incentive for employers to fire people before they hit a half-decade of employment. Debito.org said before that that would happen, and there were some doubters. But here’s the first published evidence of that happening, at Tohoku University, courtesy of our labor law expert at the Japan Times.  After all these years of service, even less job security awaits. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

‘Five-year rule’ triggers ‘Tohoku college massacre’ of jobs
by Hifumi Okunuki
The Japan Times, Nov 27, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/11/27/issues/five-year-rule-triggers-tohoku-college-massacre-jobs/

I have discussed the “five-year rule” several times before in this column — the revision of the Labor Contract Law (Rodo Keiyaku Ho) enacted in 2013. Under the amendment, any worker employed on serial fixed-term contracts (yūki koyō) for more than five years can give themselves permanent status. See my earlier stories for more details, particularly my March 2013 column, “Labor law reform raises rather than relieves workers’ worries.”

The amendment was supposed to give workers more job security. Or at least that is what lawmakers claimed the purpose was. From the start I had my doubts — doubts that are now being borne out.

The fact is, employers are using the amendment as an excuse to fire their workers or change their working conditions before April 2018. When the law was enacted, it was not grandfathered to entitle those who had already worked more than five years. That meant the clock started on April Fools’ Day, 2013, and that the first time it will be possible to use this purported job-security measure will be April 1, 2018.

After enactment, some employers put new hires on one-year contracts with a three-renewal limit, or a five-year maximum with no renewal possible afterwards. It seems obvious this was to avoid being restricted by the five-year rule, which is really a “more-than-five-year rule.” Other employers are planning to either change their employees’ working conditions or fire or nonrenew their employees over the coming year, 2017. Again, it seems obvious that their intention is to avoid the new law and thereby violate its job-security spirit.

And this month I’ll name names — or a name in this case. This month’s installment delves into the “Tohoku University massacre.” This prestigious, famous and respected college with a long history and tradition has revealed that it plans not to renew the fixed-term contracts of up to 3,200 employees when they next come up for renewal. This kind of move — effectively a mass firing — is rare in Japan, and the plan has already had a huge impact in education and labor-law circles.

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/11/27/issues/five-year-rule-triggers-tohoku-college-massacre-jobs/

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

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MOJ Bureau of Human Rights Survey of NJ Residents and discrimination (J&E full text)

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

From: XY
Subject: MOJ NJ Survey
Date: November 14, 2016
To: debito@debito.org

Dear Debito,

I am XY, a long year NJ resident. First I want to thank you for the great work you do to enhance human rights in Japan. I learned most of the discrepancies between law and practice (especially Hotels *cough*) from your blog. Great work.

Now to the actual reason of my mail. I have recently read on debito.org about that human rights survey the ministry of justice is conducting right now, and today I got the survey documents in Japanese and English. In your blog you ask for scans of these documents to check the nature of this survey. Here they are (downloadable PDFs):

外国人人権アンケート(Cover Letter)
外国人人権アンケート(英語)
外国人人権アンケート(日本語)

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:

Debito.org has focused on the GOJ’s biased surveys regarding human rights and NJ in the past, and found the science to be very bad. This poor science has even been found in surveys of NJ residents at the national (here, here, and here) and local levels (Tokyo and Urayasu, for example). It’s amazing how quickly common human decency and equal treatment evaporates from Japan’s social science just as soon as “foreigners” are brought into the equation.

So that’s why I approached these new surveys for “Foreigners Living in Japan” (as opposed to “Non-Citizen Residents of Japan”) from the Ministry of Justice Human of Human Rights (BOHR), Center for Human Rights Education and Training, with some trepidation.  Especially given the BOHR’s longstanding record of unhelpfulness and abdication of responsibility (see also book “Embedded Racism“, pp. 224-231).  But let’s take a look at it and assess.  Here is a sampling of pages from the English version in jpg format (the full text in Japanese and English is at the above pdf links).

First, two pages from the statement of purpose from the Cover Letter, so you get the tone:

Document-page-001

Document-page-002

Next, here’s the odd very first question.  It inquires whether the foreigner being surveyed actually interacts with Japanese, or lives as a hikikomori hermit inside a terrarium.  (It’s a bit hard to envision this kind of question coming from other governments.  In a question about discrimination towards NJ, why is this the first question?  Is it a means to discount future responses with, “Well, it’s the foreigner’s own fault he’s discriminated against — he should get out more”?).  Anyway:

Document-page-006

Skipping down to the next section, we see that they get to the discrimination issues (housing first, and that’s a major one) pretty systematically, and with the possibility of open-ended answers.  Good.

Document-page-008

Same with discrimination in employment:

Document-page-009

And then discrimination in access to services and in daily interactions:

Document-page-010

And then we get to a decent list of miscellany.  Note that there is no mention of any discrimination by officialdom, such as police harassment, racial profiling, or Gaijin Card Instant Checkpoints on the street or in hotels.  (Naturally:  The BOHR is part of the Ministry of Justice, as are the Japanese police forces — and their bunker mentalities are but an inevitable part of managing Japan’s security and erstwhile “world’s safest society” against outside threats).  According to this list, discrimination only seems to happen because of nasty “Japanese people” as individuals, not because of something more systemic and embedded, such as Japan’s laws, enforcement of laws, or judiciary.

Document-page-011

Then we get to issues of hate speech:

Document-page-012

Document-page-013

Then we get to the subject of what to do about it.  The survey starts off with the typical boilerplate about “cultural differences” (the regular way of blaming foreigners for “being different”, thereby deserving differential treatment), but then by item 6 we get a mention of a law against preventing “discrimination against foreigners” (as opposed to racial discrimination, which is what it is).  So at least a legislative solution is mentioned as an option.  Good.

Document-page-014

The rest talks about what measures the surveyed person has taken against discrimination using existing GOJ structures (the BOHR).  Then it concludes some background about the surveyed person’s age, nationality, visa status, home language, etc. (which is where that funny first question about “how much contact do you have with Japanese?” should have come; putting it first is, again, indicative.)

CONCLUSION:  In terms of a survey, this is an earnest attempt to get an official handle on the shape and scope of discriminatory activities in Japan, and even mentions the establishment of anti-discrimination laws as an option.  Good.  It also includes the first real national-level question about discrimination in housing in Japan, which hitherto has never been surveyed beyond the local level.  I will be very interested to see the results.

That said, the survey still has the shortcoming of the GOJ not accepting any culpability for discrimination as created and promoted by officials, including Japan’s police forces, laws, law enforcement, or legislative or judicial processes.  It still seems to want to portray discrimination as something that misinformed or malicious individuals do toward “foreigners”, without getting to the root of the problem:  That the real issue is racial discrimination embedded within Japan’s very identity as a nation-state (as I uncover and outline in book “Embedded Racism”).  Here’s hoping that research helps inform their next survey (as my research informed the Cabinet’s previously biased survey questions back in 2012 (page down)).  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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Onur on Fukuoka hotel check-ins in: Police creating unlawful “foreign passport check” signs in the name of (and without the knowledge of) local govt. authorities!

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Hi Blog.  Onur, our local watchdog on Japan’s hotel policies towards “foreign guests”, has submitted another report, this time on hotels in Fukuoka.  The last case he submitted exposed how police in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, were deliberately lying about the law to create notices requiring the racial profiling of all “foreigners” at hotel check ins.  Now in Fukuoka the same thing is happening, only worse:  Fukuoka Prefectural Police are creating erroneous signs in the name of local government authorities without the knowledge of those local authorities!

This is odious.  Given the recent Debito.org report about racist check-ins at Sakura Hotel in Jimbocho, Tokyo (done according to the hotel itself “to provide safety for our guests“, whatever that means), and the fact that I uncovered this unlawful practice more than ten years ago in my Japan Times columns (“Creating laws out of thin air,” Zeit Gist, March 8, 2005; “Ministry missive wrecks reception,” ZG, Oct. 18, 2005, and “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry,” JBC, July 6,2010), it seems the problem is nationwide and systemic.  Our police forces continue to enlist the public in their racial profiling of “foreigners” (whether or not they are tourists or residents of Japan), whether or not the law or the local authorities permit them to. (It doesn’t.)

Read on for Onur’s latest.  Well done.   Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Date: Nov. 17, 2016
From: Onur
Hello Dr. Debito,

I am Onur, who sent the poster that Ibaraki Police distributed to the Hotels. I had a similar experience in Fukuoka. I stayed in S.B Hotel Hamanomachi. I saw the attached poster on the reception desk. I asked permission and took a photo it. It clearly says that they ask every foreigner to present his/her passport.

20161030_175006b

However, I just wrote my Japanese address to guest registration form during check-in and the reception did not ask me to show a passport or a card. The check-in was smooth.

Later I stayed in Hotel New Gaea Hakata-Eki Minami. The reception asked my passport. I said I don’t carry it. Then they asked my residence card. I don’t have to show it but I showed my residence card to reassure them. Then the receptionist took my card and went to another room without saying anything. I was shocked. I asked what are you doing? He said he is copying my residence card. I said no. According to the law as I am a foreigner with an address in Japan, no copying is necessary. Then the receptionist was shocked when I said no. He did not say anything and gave my card back to me.

I decided to solve this problem by contacting the people in charge. At the bottom of the poster, it is written “Health Center in Fukuoka Prefecture and Fukuoka Prefectural Police”. Therefore, first, I went to Central Health Center (中央保健所) in Fukuoka City. I talked with the person in charge for the hotels. He was very friendly and helpful. I showed the poster in the first hotel and told the incident in the second hotel. He said that even though the poster says “Health Center in Fukuoka Prefecture” at the bottom of the poster, the poster is not prepared by the health center and he has never seen this poster before. He said the information in the poster is definitely wrong and the poster may have been prepared by the hotel. He said they will contact to those two hotels and warn them.

Then I went to Fukuoka Prefectural Police Headquarters. I showed the poster and asked to talk with the officer in charge. As the prefectural headquarters is very big, it took a long time to find out the officer in charge. Three officers came. They were friendly and willing to solve the problem. First I showed the poster. They accepted that the police printed the poster and distributed to the all hotels in Fukuoka prefecture. I showed the official announcement of the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry at https://www.city.shinjuku.lg.jp/content/000062471.pdf and said that their poster is clearly different. They were very surprised. It seems that they did not know the details of the hotel law and regulations well. They could not understand what is wrong in their poster. I gave a long speech about the law and the guidelines of the ministry. They finally understood the problem and apologized. They said they will check it in detail and fix the poster.

A few days later I got a phone call from the police. They apologized again. They said they will print a new poster, but it may take a long time to replace all the posters in the prefecture. They said they will ask the hotels to check only the residence card without copying it to verify the address, if the foreigner guest says he has an address in Japan. I said it is wrong again. I said “I called the ministry and they told me that there is no need to check the residence card or passport if a foreigner says he is living in Japan and writes the Japanese address to check-in form. Please call the ministry for the details and follow their guidelines exactly”. Later the Central Health Center in Fukuoka called me. They said they talked with those two hotels and also the police headquarters and warned them about following the rules. They said please call us if you experience such a problem again.

In short, if you experience such a problem in a hotel, I think the best way to solve is to contact the local Health Center, which is the local authority over the hotels, and also the police headquarters if they are involved.

Best Regards,
Onur
ENDS

===========

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Mainichi Editorial: Cultivating ‘Japan fans’ key to attracting repeat foreign visitors. Good luck with that without an anti racial discrimination law

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JK:  Hi Debito:  The GOJ wants foreign visitors spend a couple trillion yen the year the Olympics comes to town, so why not strike while the iron is hot and use this as leverage against xenophobic establishments by calling them out on their behavior (i.e. “there’s this shop down the way that excludes anyone foreign-looking — surely that reflects poorly on Japan and hurts the government’s numbers.”)?

Debito:  Agreed.  And that’s the big blind spot in this editorial.  It talks about the shortcomings of tourism policy focusing only on infrastructure and profit, but neglects to mention the issues of how a police force dedicated to racial profiling (especially at hotels), or how being refused service somewhere just because the proprietor has a “thing” about foreigners (and can get away with it because Japan has no law against racial discrimination), can really ruin a visit.  “Cultivating Japan fans” is one way of putting it, “stopping xenophobes” is another.  And that should be part of formal GOJ policy as well.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Editorial: Cultivating ‘Japan fans’ key to attracting repeat foreign visitors
November 1, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161101/p2a/00m/0na/016000c

In just 10 months, the number of foreign visitors to Japan has already smashed through the 20 million mark for the year, surpassing the previous annual record of about 19.74 million arrivals set in 2015.

The first time foreign visitors topped 10 million was in 2013. At the time, the government set a target of “20 million people by 2020,” but visitor numbers expanded far faster than expected. Now the government is shooting for 40 million in 2020, the year of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The wave of people coming to see Japan is a welcome development on many fronts, especially as our country’s population ages and begins to decline, particularly in the countryside. There are, of course, direct and obvious economic benefits from so many visitors shopping, eating and filling Japan’s hotel rooms. However, the tourism boom has also made companies and regional communities more outward-looking in their thinking, and that’s deeply significant.

However, while 20 million visitors is nothing to sneeze at, it doesn’t come anywhere close to the world champion of foreign tourism, France, which attracted more than 80 million visitors in 2014. And France isn’t the only country beating Japan by a wide margin. To put it another way, Japan has a lot of tourism growth potential.

What’s important is to avoid viewing visitors to our shores as mere consumers.

The government has declared it wants to see foreign visitors drop 8 trillion yen in Japan in 2020. There’s nothing wrong with setting a numerical target in and of itself, but focusing solely on visitor spending could lead to a nasty trip-up.

This is, simply put, because conditions can change. A rising yen may make Japan a less attractive destination, while economic events abroad could also bring down visitor numbers. And those considering visiting Japan to shop for Japanese products may think twice if they find they can buy the same stuff online.

If a small town in regional Japan brought in a big-box retail outlet to attract foreign shoppers, it may see a short-term rise in visitors from abroad. However, most of the benefits might end up in the pockets of the retailer and the companies supplying it … and not the host community.

The conclusion that sparkly tourist-oriented facilities are needed to bring in visitors is wrong. There are attractions and ways to welcome foreign tourists that are close to hand and just waiting to be uncovered. Take farm stays, for example. Visitors don’t just stay the night and chow down on fresh produce; they help harvest it as well. Then there are tours of recycling centers that get visitors to think about how to tackle environmental issues. These sorts of “hands-on” experiences are likely to have a good chance of attracting more people back to Japan for repeat visits.

Also, while earthquakes are a major risk in Japan, disaster prevention can also become a resource for attracting visitors. For example, the Tokyo Fire Department has facilities called Life Safety Learning centers where visitors can feel what it’s like to be in an earthquake, among other hands-on activities. These centers have never been marketed outside Japan, and yet they are seeing more foreign visitors.

If Japan spends all its time chasing visitor numbers and tourist spending figures, it will eventually hit a wall. It should instead introduce people to the many faces of Japan, give them the chance to actually do things with Japanese people, and generally provide a diverse and substantive experience, looking to cultivate long-term “Japan fans.”

Original Japanese
訪日客2千万人 息の長いファン作りを
毎日新聞2016年11月1日 東京朝刊
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20161101/ddm/005/070/169000c

今年、日本を訪れた外国人旅行者が2000万人を突破した。昨年は1年間で過去最多となる1974万人を記録したが、今年は10カ月で2000万人に達した。

訪日外国人数が初めて1000万の大台に乗ったのは2013年のことだ。当時は「20年に2000万人」の達成を目指していた。外国人の日本訪問は予想以上の速さで増加し、政府は今や、「20年に4000万人」を目標としている。

国内の人口が減少に転じ、特に地方の過疎、高齢化が進む中、世界から人がやって来ることは多くの意味で歓迎できる。買い物や宿泊といった直接的な経済効果はもちろんだが、企業や地域社会が、外向きの思考へ意識転換するきっかけを得る意義は大きい。

ただ、2000万人を突破したとはいえ、世界には年間8000万人超(14年)のフランスを筆頭に、外国人客の受け入れ数で日本をしのぐ国が少なくない。まだまだ成長の潜在性があるということだ。

重要なのは、訪日客を単に外から来る消費者と見ないことだろう。

政府は20年に訪日客の消費額を8兆円とする目標を掲げる。目標設定自体、悪いことではないが、消費額ばかりにこだわると足をすくわれかねない。

訪日に不利な円高や、海外の経済情勢の悪化などに左右される恐れがあるからだ。さらに、インターネットなどで簡単に日本製品が買えるようになれば、「わざわざ日本まで行かなくても」となるかもしれない。

例えば地方の町が外国人客を増やそうと量販店を誘致したとする。一時的な集客効果があるかもしれないが、恩恵を受けるのは主に量販店やそこで売られる製品の企業であって、地元の経済では必ずしもない。

では、観光の目玉となる施設が不可欠かというと、それも違う。魅力や招致の手法は案外身近に埋もれているものである。

農家に泊まって、土地の食を味わうだけでなく収穫など農作業を体験する企画や、ごみのリサイクル施設を訪れ環境問題を考えるツアーなど、体験型の観光は、今後リピーターの訪日客を増やすうえで可能性がありそうだ。

地震は日本にとってリスクでも、防災は観光資源に変わり得る。地震の揺れなどを体験できる東京消防庁の災害教育施設には、海外向けの宣伝をしているわけでもないのに、外国人の来館が増えている。

数字を追うばかりでは無理が来る。世界の人々が日本のさまざまな顔を発見したり、日本人と共に何かを体験したりするような多様な品ぞろえで、息の長いファン作りにチャレンジしたい。

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

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AFP: Justice Ministry to conduct first major survey on racism in Japan. Bravo.

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Hi Blog. Interesting development here. Given that most surveys on foreigners and government policy on foreigners don’t ask foreign residents for their input (this is a society that even excludes foreign residents from official population tallies; see here and here), this is a positive development. If any Debito.org Readers get this survey, please scan it before you fill it out and send it to debito@debito.org, and let’s see how the survey has been written up. Too many questions posed by the GOJ re foreigners slant them to produce negative outcomesincluding even questioning that racism exists. It’d be nice (not to mention more scientific) if that didn’t happen this time. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Justice Ministry to conduct first major survey on racism in Japan
AFP-JIJI/Japan Times OCT 30, 2016
Courtesy of OK
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/30/national/social-issues/justice-ministry-conduct-first-major-survey-racism-japan/

The Justice Ministry will conduct its first large-scale survey on racism in Japan as discrimination becomes a growing social concern, a report said Sunday.

The survey will cover 18,500 foreign residents 18 or older, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said, adding that the results will be released by the end of March and reflected in new policies.

The poll will be conducted in 13 languages ranging from Japanese and English to Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Portuguese, the vernacular daily said.

The questions will ask whether respondents have experienced or seen racial discrimination in daily life or in the workplace, and what action they want the government to take to eliminate it, the report said.

The number of foreign residents has grown in recent years, but their ratio to the total population still stands at less than 2 percent, according to ministry data.

No comment on the report was available from the ministry Sunday.

Incidents of hate speech directed against specific ethnic groups on the streets or online have broken out in recent years. Most are directed at ethnic Koreans who ended up in Japan when the Korean Peninsula was under Japanese colonial rule between 1910 and 1945, and their offspring.

In a rare court ruling against racial discrimination, a vocal anti-Korean group was ordered in 2013 to stop its hate speech campaign against a Pyongyang-linked school and pay some ¥12 million in damages.

The Diet in June brought in legislation promoting efforts to eliminate discriminatory speech and behavior against non-Japanese people.
ENDS

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

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

U.S. and Japan elections: scary in their own ways
Subtitle:  American political campaigns can be frighteningly tribal while fear of the foreign permeates polls here
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito, October 31, 2016
Column 102 for the Japan Times Community Page

Happy Halloween. Let’s talk about something really scary: elections in the United States and Japan.

I say scary because these countries are the No. 1 and No. 3 largest economies in the world, not to mention representative democracies considered too big to fail. Yet the way things are going is truly frightening.

Let start with election campaigns in the U.S., since they are probably very familiar and fresh to readers:

The U.S.: two tribes go to war […]

Read the rest in The Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/10/30/issues/u-s-japan-elections-scary-ways/

======================
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Mainichi Editorial: Japan needs effective hate speech law to stamp out racist marches

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Hi Blog.  To cap off this month of discussion on Debito.org about Japan’s new hate speech laws, check out what the Mainichi (clearly a supporter, given their generous coverage of the issue, particularly regarding enforcement) said about a bill at the national level back in April.  It passed in June.  This article offers a good accounting of just how much work went into getting the local governments to take a stand on the issue, and how grassroots movements do indeed influence national policy in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Editorial: Japan needs effective hate speech law to stamp out racist marches
April 11, 2016 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160411/p2a/00m/0na/022000c

A bill intended to put a stop to hate speech campaigns directed at people of particular races or ethnicities looks set to be deliberated by the Diet during the current session.

Hate speech, with its heavy doses of terms like “Kill them!” and “Get out of Japan,” is abusive and libelous, and can stir up racist sentiments. It is, in short, an offense against basic human rights, and it cannot be tolerated. Nevertheless, there is presently nothing stopping the groups that promote this violent rhetoric from spreading their toxic message.

There were 1,152 confirmed cases of hate speech across the country during the 3 1/2 years ending in September 2015, according to the recently released results of the Justice Ministry’s first-ever investigation into the problem in Japan. That is nearly one incident a day, and it is an absolute embarrassment for a democratic nation such as ours.

The opposition-sponsored anti-racism bill was followed by one with the backing of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito. The ruling and opposition parties should put their heads together to get a law passed halting hate speech as soon as possible.

Hate speech marches through areas of Tokyo and Osaka that are home to many Korean residents of Japan have been intensifying in recent years, and have been spreading all over the country. Under current law, authorities have only been able to restrict hate speech actions when the perpetrators have committed an illegal act. The Justice Ministry officially labeled hate speech a human rights violation only in December of last year, and warned a former hate group leader to stop the organization’s activities. Although this is certainly a positive step, a warning has no legal power.

Behind the relatively tame official response to such racist polemics is the fact that hate speech is not in itself illegal. The government, meanwhile, has approached the problem by carefully balancing the principle of freedom of expression with direct regulation.

In 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination advised the Japanese government to take resolute action against hate speech, and to enact anti-hate speech legislation.

There are also strong domestic calls for a government response to hate speech. In January of this year, the city of Osaka enacted the country’s first anti-hate speech ordinance. In addition, more than 300 local government assemblies across Japan have adopted a written statement calling on the central government to take appropriate legal action against hate speech, while staying within the Constitutional right to freedom of expression. In these acts, we can see a definite fear that Japan will lose the trust of the international community if hate groups continue to peddle their poisonous polemics unhindered.

Hate speech doesn’t just damage the dignity of the individual. It can also create a deep well of dread in those subjected to it, including children. Freedom of expression is a very important right — but hate speech is an obvious abuse of that right.

The LDP-Komeito bill defines hate speech as unjust discrimination. The bill differs greatly from the opposition’s version, which seeks to regulate a wider range of discriminatory acts and calls for the outright ban on hate speech. Neither bill, however, lists a punishment for hate speech violations.

To the contrary, we believe that Japan needs a law that clearly defines hate speech, preventing broad interpretations that could be warped into threats to the freedom of expression. The law should also include provisions that will have some practical effect, such as giving authorities the power to deny hate groups the use of public facilities and roads for demonstrations.

It’s time for a show of political strength.
ENDS

Japanese version

社説
ヘイトスピーチ 根絶へ政治の意思示せ
毎日新聞2016年4月10日 東京朝刊
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20160410/ddm/005/070/030000c

特定の人種や民族に対する差別的言動を街頭で繰り返す「ヘイトスピーチ」を止めようとする法案が、今国会で審議される見通しになった。

ヘイトスピーチは、「殺せ」「出て行け」といった乱暴な言葉で罵倒や中傷し、差別感情をあおり立てる。人権侵害であり、到底許されないが、ヘイトスピーチを繰り広げる団体の活動は抑え込めていない。

法務省が初めて行った実態調査では、昨年9月までの3年半で全国で1152件のヘイトスピーチが確認された。1日1件に近い数字で、民主主義の国として恥ずべきことだ。

民主党(現民進党)などが国会に提出した人種差別撤廃施策推進法案に続き、自民、公明両党はヘイトスピーチ解消に向け法案を出した。ヘイトスピーチを止めるため、与野党で法制化の協議を急ぐべきだ。

東京や大阪など在日韓国・朝鮮人が多く住む地域でヘイトスピーチと呼ばれるデモが数年前から激化し、全国に広がった。

捜査当局などは、現行法の範囲で違法行為があれば取り締まってきたが、ヘイトスピーチは沈静化していない。法務省がヘイトスピーチを人権侵害と位置づけ、団体の元代表にやめるよう勧告したのは昨年12月だ。それでも強制力はない。

厳格な対応ができない背景には、現行の法制度では、ヘイトスピーチそのものを違法行為と認定できないことがある。一方、政府は、「表現の自由」との兼ね合いで直接的な法規制に慎重な姿勢を示してきた。

国連人種差別撤廃委員会は2014年、日本政府に対し、ヘイトスピーチ問題に毅然(きぜん)と対処し、法律で規制するよう勧告した。

国内からも政府の対応を促す声が強い。大阪市は今年1月、ヘイトスピーチの抑止を目指す全国初の条例を成立させた。国に対し、表現の自由に配慮しながらも、法規制など適切なヘイトスピーチ対策を求める意見書を採択する地方議会は300を超えた。国際社会の信頼を失いかねないとの危機感がそこにはある。

ヘイトスピーチは、個人の尊厳を大きく侵害するだけではない。子供などは強い恐怖感を抱く。表現の自由は大切な権利だが、ヘイトスピーチは明らかな権利の乱用だ。

与党案は、ヘイトスピーチを不当な差別と位置づけた。より広範な差別を規制対象とし、「禁止」を明確にした野党案と開きはあるが、罰則を伴わない点は共通する。拡大解釈で表現の自由が脅かされることのないようヘイトスピーチの定義を明確にしたうえで、道路でのデモや公共施設の使用を止められるような実効性のある法律にすべきではないか。政治の強い意思を示すべきだ。
ENDS

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

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Mainichi: Effect of new anti-hate speech law spreads to executive, judicial branches

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When Japan’s first actual law against hate speech was passed in January this year, critics (naturally) decried it as a means to stifle freedom of speech. I took exception to that, saying that it was a step in the right direction, at least. Recent articles in the Mainichi Shinbun seem to bear that out. Here is is the second of three (the first is here), talking about the positive effects of the law, where once-daily hate rallies are down, xenophobic language is softened and made less normalized, administrative organs now have means of enforcement, and even court cases are ruling in favor of targeted victims. Good. Read on.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Effect of new anti-hate speech law spreads to executive, judicial branches

June 6, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160606/p2a/00m/0na/012000c

Bulletin boards at the Ministry of Justice in Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki district are filled with 49 posters calling against hate speech campaigns, in this picture taken on June 3, 2016. The anti-hate speech law went into force that day. (Mainichi)

A new law aimed at eliminating hate speech campaigns, which instigate rejection of specific racial or ethnic groups from local communities, came into force on June 3. While the legislation has proven effective in some parts of the country, such as in Kawasaki where the court handed down a provisional injunction banning a hate speech rally in an area home to many Korean residents, there remain challenges that need to be addressed.

【Related】NPA to crack down on hate speech demonstrators through existing legislation
【Related】Court bans planned anti-Korean hate speech rally in Kawasaki
On June 5, a hate speech demonstration in Kawasaki was called off after participants were surrounded by hundreds of citizens protesting against the rally and police urged them to discontinue the event. The organizers terminated the rally after demonstrators paraded only about 10 meters down the road, in what was going to be the country’s first such demonstration since the anti-hate speech law came into effect.

The incident came three days after the Kawasaki branch of the Yokohama District Court issued a provisional injunction prohibiting a hate speech demonstration within a 500-meter radius of the office of a social welfare organization supporting Korean residents in the city. The decision forced organizers of the June 5 rally to change their plans, including the location for the event.

In October 2013, the Kyoto District Court handed down a ruling banning the Zaitokukai (Citizens against the special privileges of Korean residents in Japan) from staging hate speech demonstrations near the then Kyoto No. 1 Korean Elementary School and ordered the group to pay compensation. The ruling accused those demonstrations of “racial discrimination” in light of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The ruling was later finalized by the Supreme Court.

The June 2 provisional injunction issued by the Yokohama District Court’s Kawasaki branch also quoted the same international treaty, as well as the anti-hate speech law that had just been enacted in May. The ruling called hate speech rallies “illegal actions that infringe upon the personal rights for leading a peaceful life” and pointed out that grossly illegal hate speech campaigns, such as repeating loud chants with bullhorns, lie “outside the bounds of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression guaranteed under the Constitution.”

“The ruling conveys the court’s indignation over hate speech,” said a senior official at the Ministry of Justice about the provisional injunction going as far as to ban a planned hate speech demonstration in advance. The ministry was behind the submission of the anti-hate speech bill to the Diet.

Signs of change are also emerging in police responses over the issue. In step with the anti-hate speech law coming into effect, the National Police Agency issued a notice to prefectural police departments across the country asking them to strictly respond to hate speech demonstrations by making full use of existing legislation such as that against defamation and contempt.

Because the anti-hate speech legislation does not have any punitive provision or clause prohibiting such activities, it is impossible to crack down on hate speech with the law alone. It is said the use of roads for any demonstration must be granted in principle. Nonetheless, hundreds of riot police and other officers from Kanagawa Prefectural Police were mobilized at the site of the June 5 rally to prepare for any emergencies.

Yasuko Morooka, a lawyer who authored a book titled “Hate Speech towa nanika” (What is hate speech?), hails the anti-hate speech legislation, saying, “The law provides support for courts, local bodies and police in making a decision on their strict responses to hate speech.”

The new law, however, has its own limits. In order to provide relief to victims who suffered damage from hate speech, they still need to prove in detail violations of their personal rights and defamation, just as they needed to before the law came into effect. The June 2 provisional injunction banning a hate speech rally became viable as there existed crystal-clear damage in Kawasaki, where the organizers of the planned rally had repeatedly staged similar demonstrations on about a dozen occasions.

A senior Justice Ministry official said, “The court decision could be different if the expression used in the announcement for a hate speech demonstration was different. I’m not sure if the courts would issue a similar provisional injunction in other cases.”

ENDS

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Original Japanese:
クローズアップ2016
ヘイトスピーチ 新法効果、行政・司法に
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20160606/ddm/003/040/070000c
毎日新聞2016年6月6日 東京朝刊

特定の人種や民族を地域社会から排斥することを扇動するヘイトスピーチの解消をうたった対策法が3日、施行された。ヘイトスピーチを伴う街宣活動(ヘイトデモ)について、川崎市内の在日コリアン集住地域での実施を禁じる司法判断が出るなど早くも新法の波及効果が出ているが、なお課題も残る。

厳しい対応、後押し
対策法施行後、最初とみられるヘイトデモが5日に予定されていた川崎市。主催者側は道路で行進しようとしたが、デモに反対する数百人の市民らが取り囲むなど騒然とした雰囲気に包まれ、約10メートル進んだところで警察の説得を受け入れて中止となった。

今回のデモを巡っては、横浜地裁川崎支部が2日、在日コリアンが多いエリアにある事務所から半径500メートル以内での実施を禁じる仮処分を決定。主催者側は場所などの計画の変更を迫られた。

こうした司法判断の先例としては、京都朝鮮初級学校(京都市)前での街宣活動を巡る京都地裁判決(2013年10月)がある。国連の人種差別撤廃条約を根拠に街宣を「人種差別」と指摘し、周辺での街宣禁止と損害賠償を「在日特権を許さない市民の会」側に命じた(最高裁で確定)。

2日の仮処分決定の特徴は、同条約に加えて先月成立したばかりの対策法を引用した点にある。対策法が定義するヘイトスピーチを「平穏に生活する人格権に対する違法な侵害行為」ととらえた上で、拡声機を使って大音量で繰り返すなどヘイトデモの違法性が著しいケースは「憲法が定める集会や表現の自由の保障の範囲外」と指摘した。デモを事前に差し止めるという踏み込んだ判断に、法務省のある幹部は「ヘイトスピーチに対する裁判所の憤りを感じる」との感想を漏らした。

警察の対応にも変化の兆しがみられる。警察庁は施行に合わせて、(名誉毀損(きそん)罪や侮辱罪などの)現行法を駆使してヘイトデモに厳しく対処するよう各都道府県警に通達。対策法は禁止や罰則がない「理念法」で、ヘイトスピーチ自体を取り締まることはできない。デモの前提となる道路使用も原則許可しなければならないとされる。それでも、5日の現場には、神奈川県警の機動隊員など数百人を動員し、不測の事態に備えた。

「ヘイト・スピーチとは何か」の著書がある師岡康子弁護士は対策法の意義について「裁判所や自治体、警察がヘイトスピーチに厳格に対処する判断の後押しになってきている」と語る。

もちろん、効果には限界もある。ヘイトスピーチの被害救済についても、被害者側が人格権侵害や名誉毀損などを具体的に証明する必要があるという状況は施行前と変わらない。2日の仮処分決定は、主催者側が過去十数回、市内で同種デモを繰り返しており、被害が明白だったことが差し止めを可能とした。

法務省幹部は「例えば、デモを呼びかける告知の表現が一つ違えば司法判断は変わりうる。他のケースで差し止めが認められるかは分からない」と言う。【鈴木一生、川上晃弘】

各自治体、試行錯誤 努力義務に温度差
法務省が3月公表した実態調査(2012年4月〜15年9月)によると、ヘイトデモの発生のピークは13、14年だが、「沈静化したとは言えない状況」にある。こうした中、スタートした対策法は国にヘイトスピーチ解消の責務を、自治体には努力義務を課しているが、その「努力」には温度差がある。

5日に中止となった川崎市内のデモでは、市は事前に、主催者側が集合場所として申請した公園2カ所の使用を許可しなかった。対策法が定義する「差別的言動」に当たると判断したためだ。市人権・男女共同参画室は「難しい判断だった。新法なしに不許可は出せなかった」。仮処分決定と同様、市が対策法の趣旨を最大限生かそうとしたことがうかがえる。

逆に、名古屋市では先月29日、同市中区の公園を出発点にヘイトデモが行われた。「(利用申請の)書類に不備がない」ことが許可の理由だった。河村たかし市長は翌日の記者会見で「何をしてもいいというわけではないが、表現の自由も大事」と述べた。

独自の取り組みを進める自治体もある。大阪市では7月1日、ヘイトスピーチ抑止に向けた全国初の条例が施行される。市に被害の申し立てがあれば、国際法学者や弁護士らでつくる審査会が「ヘイトスピーチに該当するか」を調査。答申を受けた市長が「該当する」と判断した場合、その内容と団体・個人名を市のホームページで公表する。ネット上の差別的な書き込みも施行日以降に残っていれば対象になる。吉村洋文市長は「法律は(被害者救済のための)具体的な措置がなく不十分。市条例には盛り込まれており、抑止になる」と強調する。【太田圭介、三上剛輝、岡崎大輔】

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

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Scholar Tessa Morris-Suzuki reviews book “Embedded Racism” in journal Japanese Studies, calls it “important, courageous and challenging”

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Japanese Studies
ISSN: 1037-1397 (Print) 1469-9338 (Online)

Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cjst20

BOOK REVIEW
Debito Arudou, Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination
By Tessa Morris-Suzuki.  Reproduced with kind permission of the author.
To cite this article: Tessa Morris-Suzuki (2016) Debito Arudou, Embedded Racism:
Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination, Japanese Studies, 36:2, 277-279,

DOI:10.1080/10371397.2016.1224446
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10371397.2016.1224446
Published online: 04 Oct 2016.

Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

Debito Arudou, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015, xxvi, 323 pp. + notes, bibliography, index, ISBN 978-1-4985-1390-6 https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781498513913

Japan is somewhat usual amongst developed countries in not having a law prohibiting racial discrimination. The postwar constitution states that ‘all of the people are equal under the law’, but, as Debito Arudou points out in this book, in the Japanese-language version of the text, ‘people’ is rendered as kokumin (nationals), thus excluding foreign residents. It is also true that in May 2016 the Japanese parliament passed a ‘Law on Measures against Hate Speech’ (Hētosupīchi Taisaku Hō) to combat the inflammatory expressions of hostility towards ethnic minorities: a hostility which has become an all-too-familiar feature of far right political discourse in recent years. But this law makes no provision for legal sanctions against perpetrators of ‘hate speech’, instead merely encouraging educational measures by the government and other public bodies; and since the law focuses on overt expressions of ‘hate’, it will presumably be powerless to discourage quieter forms of discrimination, such as the continuing practice by some landlords of refusing to rent properties to foreigners.

Embedded Racism confronts these ongoing issues of racial prejudice in Japanese society, focusing particularly on discrimination against people assumed to be foreign because they are visibly different from the standard phenotypical image of ‘Japanese’. The author, a naturalised Japanese citizen of American origin, has been engaged for years in campaigns to combat these forms of discrimination, and draws on his experience as a campaigner and as a long-term resident in Japan to create a persuasive and alarming dossier on the widespread existence of racial discrimination in Japanese society. A central issue which recurs throughout the book is the deep-seated assumption that race, ethnicity and nationality must coincide, and therefore that those who do not ‘look Japanese’ must therefore be foreign nationals. Particularly telling anecdotes include an instance where the author and one of his children (who is of relatively ‘Caucasian’ appearance) were refused entry to a hot spring bath while his wife and another child (who happens to be of more ‘Japanese’ appearance) were accepted, despite all being equally Japanese citizens.

This book, though, is more than a narrative of instances of discrimination and campaigns for redress. The author also seeks to explore the roots of the problem, which he locates in the legal apparatus of nationality, the workings of the court system, the lack of serious official mechanisms to combat discrimination, and stereotypes perpetuated by the mass media. Like other scholars of discrimination in Japanese society, Arudou identifies key problems as arising from Japan’s ius sanguinis (bloodline) nationality laws, which bestow Japanese nationality only on those descended from Japanese citizens. He also highlights the impact of the koseki (family registration) system, which relegates foreigners who marry into Japanese families to a marginal and subordinate status. These problems were compounded by the jūminhyō (resident registration) system, which excluded foreigners and rendered them statistically invisible, and by the alien registration system, under which foreign residents in Japan are required to carry their registration cards at all times and show them to the police on request. As Arudou notes, important changes to these systems were introduced in 2012, with foreigners being incorporated into the jūminhyō system, and visa and registration processes being overhauled. Yet these reforms have gone only a small way towards addressing the complex systems of exclusion affecting members of Japan’s ‘visible minorities’, while rising fears of crime and terrorism have if anything increased official scrutiny and suspicion of foreign residents and border-crossers.

Particularly powerful sections of the book detail the way in which racial profiling by the police, embodied in repeated reports on the problems of ‘foreigner crime’, have helped to embed exclusionary attitudes in Japanese society. Such reports, which often convey a misleading impression of trends in crime rates and of the proportion of offences committed by ‘foreigners’, feed into sensationalised media headlines and into the rhetoric of far right politicians. Though victims of discrimination theoretically have avenues of redress both through the courts and through the Ministry of Justice’s Bureau of Human Rights (BOHR), Arudou argues persuasively that neither has proved an effective source of protection for the rights of visible minorities. The courts have a very mixed record of upholding claims for equal treatment, while the BOHR has only very limited advisory powers, and often seems extremely cautious in exercising such powers as it does possess.

The picture is not wholly negative. Arudou notes the good work performed by Japanese NGOs and legal networks, and by some trade unions and local governments, which have made efforts to reduce barriers to the inclusion of foreign residents and have worked to combat prejudice and discrimination. All the same, he concludes that Japan remains a complex patchwork of overlapping categories of exclusion, where formal nationality and visible difference combine to create multiple dimensions of embedded racism.

This book is an important addition to the literature on problems of citizenship and minorities in Japan, particularly because it highlights the distinctive problems of visible minorities, rather than focusing on the large ‘invisible minorities’ (Zainichi Koreans and Chinese, etc.) who have been the subject of much existing research; but this focus does open up some problems which could be explored further. A particularly complex set of issues surround the marginalisation of Ainu and Okinawans – indigenous minority groups who exist on the borderline between visibility and invisibility. Most Ainu and Okinawans are not identifiable as ‘different’ in terms of physical appearance, and yet stereotypical images of the physical difference of these groups survive and sometimes play into the language of prejudice and the practice of discrimination. Although these issues are alluded to in Embedded Racism, they are not drawn out in any detail. Further discussion of the problem of these invisible/visible indigenous minorities might help give further depth to the notion of ‘visibility’: a phenomenon which is constantly created and re-created, not just by external realities, but also by images in the eye of the beholder.

Another area where there is scope for further discussion is the relationship between Japan’s embedded racism and that of other countries. As Arudou points out, for example, Japan’s former colonies Korea and Taiwan have inherited family registration and nationality systems that in part resemble Japan’s (though with some significant variations). Korea too, like Japan, has long-cherished myths of ethnic homogeneity. How are countries like South Korea and Taiwan dealing with the challenges of dis-embedding racism from their twenty-first century societies? Answers to this question might help to clarify the peculiarities of the problems faced by Japan, and open up ways for East Asian countries to share proposals for undoing the legal and conceptual barriers to the creation of more ethnically and racially inclusive societies.

In the final sections of Embedded Racism, the author looks to the future, without great optimism, but with some clear and cogent suggestions for steps that the Japanese government should take if it truly wishes to make Japan a more open society. These include passing strong and effective laws against discrimination, strengthening the powers of the Bureau of Human Rights, reforming the citizenship and family registration systems, and legalising dual nationality. Arudou also argues for the involvement of non-citizens in the processes of creating new policies affecting foreign residents. He expresses little confidence that the Japanese authorities will respond to such ideas, but his critique of Japan’s embedded racism and his proposals for change certainly deserve to be read by policy makers, as well as by scholars of Japan. This is an important, courageous and challenging book, and it casts a sharp light on problems which are often ignored or veiled, but which have profound consequences for the present and future of Japanese society.

Tessa Morris-Suzuki
Australian National University
© 2016 Tessa Morris-Suzuki, reproduced with permission of the author
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10371397.2016.1224446

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

Embedded Racism” has been discounted 30% for a limited time to $34.99 in paperback and Kindle if bought through 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.

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

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

Nearly 100 of the world’s major research libraries (including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, Columbia…) have made “Embedded Racism” part of their collections (according to WorldCat).

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

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Mainichi: After Osaka hate speech ordinance adopted, daily xenophobic marches decrease, hateful language softened

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Hi Blog. When Japan’s first actual law against hate speech was passed in January this year, critics (naturally) decried it as a means to stifle freedom of speech. I took exception to that, saying that it was a step in the right direction, at least. Recent articles in the Mainichi Shinbun seem to bear that out. Here is one of three, talking about the positive effects of the law, where once-daily hate rallies are down, xenophobic language is softened and made less normalized, administrative organs now have means of enforcement, and even court cases are ruling in favor of targeted victims. Good. Read on. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

From:  JK
Hi Debito. Have a look here:

1 month after anti-hate speech law adopted, marches down, language softened
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160724/p2a/00m/0na/003000c

“The thinking of those putting out hate speech and the (essential) content of what they say may not change, but at least on the surface we can see the effects of the countermeasures. It seems (for example) that the organizers are not allowing demonstrators who often say extremist things to have bullhorns.”

“Preventing hate marches through the law thus depends not on cracking down on such actions, but on government policies that put a stop to discrimination.”

Seems like the law is doing a decent job of treating the symptoms, but is obviously unable to deal with the underlying problem due to the absence of an anti-racial discrimination law on the books.

In other news, the German Justice Minister wants harsher action against hate speech online:
http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/07/19/german-justice-minister-harsher-action-hate-speech/

Regards, JK

Full article:

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

1 month after anti-hate speech law adopted, marches down, language softened
July 24, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160724/p2a/00m/0na/003000c

A protest banner reading “sever Japan and South Korean relations” and a counter “anti-racism” protest’s banner written in English are seen in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, on June 19, 2016. (Photo credit: Mainichi)

One month after a new anti-hate speech law was put into effect, and following the introduction of the nation’s first local anti-hate speech ordinance in the city of Osaka on July 1, the Mainichi Shimbun investigated how much effect these new measures have had in putting an end to hate-speech protests.

A citizen’s group that accuses the Osaka ordinance of “discriminating against Japanese” and was planning a demonstration in front of the Osaka Municipal Office on July 12 listed the following among its notices for its demonstrators: “Please don’t use placards with extreme content,” and “No flags with swastikas or other things that will invite misunderstanding.”

The demonstration was canceled due to rain, so what exactly was meant by “extreme content” is unknown, but it seems likely the group was trying to limit language that insults and rejects ethnic Koreans in Japan.

Mun Gong Hwi, an ethnic Korean, is head of the secretariat of “Hate Speech o Yurusanai! Osaka no Kai” (don’t allow hate speech! Osaka group), which has applied based on the Osaka ordinance for recognition as a target of hate speech. Mun says, “In a street demonstration by a hate group in April, there was a moment when one participant started to use blatantly offensive language to attack Koreans, and the organizers hurried to stop them. The number of hate demonstrations has also fallen greatly since around the time of the ordinance taking effect.”

Under the Osaka ordinance, if the mayor authorizes it, individuals or groups that have conducted hateful behavior toward others can have their names publicized, but so far this aspect of the ordinance has not been used. Mun adds, “The drop in (hate) demonstrations may just be because they are watching to see how things develop.”

In Ginza, Tokyo, where since around last year there has been a marked increase in hate demonstrations, there have also been changes since the new legal measures. During a demonstration on June 19, instead of banners insulting Koreans, protesters carried banners calling for severing relations between Japan and South Korea, apparently having chosen to avoid ethnically-charged language and instead place emphasis on their political argument.

Masayuki Watanabe, associate professor at Daito Bunka University, who has been urging Ginza commerce and industry associations and the ward assembly to take action against hate speech, says, “The thinking of those putting out hate speech and the (essential) content of what they say may not change, but at least on the surface we can see the effects of the countermeasures. It seems (for example) that the organizers are not allowing demonstrators who often say extremist things to have bullhorns.”

The response of police and the government administrations to hate marches has also changed. On June 5, just after the execution of the new law, the Kawasaki Municipal Government refused to give permission for a park to be used for a protest targeting the social welfare corporation “Seikyu-sha,” which gives support to the many ethnic Koreans living in the city’s Sakuramoto district. Additionally, the Kawasaki branch of the Yokohama District Court called the hate speech demonstrations “an illegal violation of human rights” and prohibited them from being held near the Seikyu-sha building.

Kanagawa Prefectural Police gave permission for the demonstration to be held in a different street location, but protesters staged a sit-in. The police urged the organizers to call off the demonstration for safety reasons, and it was canceled.

Tomohito Miura, the head of Seikyu-sha’s secretariat, says, “Before the anti-hate speech law was created, the police wouldn’t even tell us the routes planned for the demonstrations, and it was we who were treated like an illegal group. The police wouldn’t protect us from hate demonstrations in our neighborhoods, and government services would say, ‘There is only so much we can do under the current law.’ We were on the receiving end of these three layers of damage.” He was complimentary, however, toward the efforts of government organs, the judiciary, police and citizens since the passage of the law, saying, “It is a definite step forward that we were able to stop the demonstration.”

While vulgar insults from these hate marches may be disappearing from the streets, the question remains whether the new law will be effective in combatting discrimination. In deference to the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech, the law does not forbid anything or include any punishments, but it makes it the national government’s responsibility to set up help for victims of hate speech and to work to educate and provide awareness to the public to stop the speech from occurring. It also calls on municipal governments to work toward these goals. Preventing hate marches through the law thus depends not on cracking down on such actions, but on government policies that put a stop to discrimination.

The Ministry of Justice’s Human Rights Bureau dispatched employees not only for the planned Kawasaki demonstration, but also for ones in the cities of Fukuoka and Osaka after the new law went into effect. Using tools such as videos and posters, they are trying to educate people about hate speech. However, the bureau emphasizes, “The law does not involve applying any kind of legal effect when there is a case of hate speech.”

Following the implementation of the new law, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology instructed prefectural boards of education to take “appropriate responses.” When asked what kind of education is an appropriate response to the law, the ministry’s Social Education Division said, “Efforts that are adapted to the circumstances, such as whether there are many foreigners in an area, are needed. However, we mustn’t stir up settled problems through this education.” While there is some truth to what the division says, it does seem they are still trying to find their footing on how to proceed.

Will other parts of Japan do the same as the Osaka Municipal Government and establish local ordinances against hate speech? When asked about specific future policies on hate speech, the human rights and gender-equality section of the Kawasaki Municipal Government was tight-lipped, saying its policy was being carried out “at the discretion of the mayor.” When pressed, a representative said, “Regarding things like refusing permission to allow use of the park (for the hate demonstration), I hear there is a movement to sue the municipal government for discriminating against Japanese people. We don’t want to reveal our plans.” Apparently, like the demonstrators, the government side is watching to see what the other does.

If another hate demonstration is planned in Kawasaki, will the citizens have no choice but to stage a sit-in and wait for police intervention? Miura says, “The fact that police gave permission for the June demonstration to be held in the street shows the current limits (of the law). We can’t ask the police and government services to do everything. Next time, we will have to stop the demonstration in a different way. The work to overcome the limits of the law has just begun.”

Not limited to just fighting against hate speech, Miura says Seikyu-sha will work with the municipal government to advance effective ordinances and guidelines that promote the coexistence of different cultures.

Regarding the city of Osaka, which has its own anti-hate ordinance, Mun says, “We don’t yet know the extent of the effects of the anti-hate law or the ordinance. This is why we want to use the ordinance as much as possible and discover exactly what it can do and what it can’t. Based on that, if necessary, we want to pursue revision of the ordinance to restrict hate speech itself.” This position of wanting to observe what happens and then compensate for any deficiencies in the anti-hate legislation is one shared by Miura and the others at Seikyu-sha.

Always accompanying the hostile feelings of the hate demonstrations is the shadow of war. The targeting of the Sakuramoto area was triggered by a protest in September last year by elderly ethnic Koreans against the bills for the new security laws. Wearing traditional Korean garb, the protesters were based out of the “Fureai-kan,” a facility managed by Seikyu-sha.

“The hate demonstration was clearly in revenge for that,” says Miura.

One of the participants in the anti-security laws protest, first-generation Korean immigrant Kim Bang Ja, 85, is also a student of literacy at the Fureai-kan. She was about 5 when she came to Japan, following her father who worked in a coal mine in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Busy with looking after her younger sister and doing household chores, she says she was only able to go to school for about one year. When the anti-hate law was passed in May this year, she was sitting as an observer in the Diet. She wrote her impressions about the law in a composition in her literacy class.

After describing how she disliked being insulted with foul language, she wrote, “Let’s stop doing that kind of thing and get along.” Although overall the writing was inconsistent, for this part alone it was particularly large and strong.

“My hand was shaking because I was writing in ink,” says Kim, adding, “If people talk they can come to an understanding. We have to get along with each other and not hate others.”

Will these words get through to those who participate in the hate demonstrations? The first step to realizing the ideals put forward in the anti-hate law is surely having communication between the two sides.

ENDS
Japanese version:
==============================
特集ワイド
ヘイト対策法施行1カ月の現場を見る 差別許さぬ包囲網 デモ隊は規制警戒、侮蔑・排外的表現控え
毎日新聞2016年7月15日 東京夕刊
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20160715/dde/012/040/015000c

6月19日、銀座で行われたデモでは、「日韓断交」という標語が目立った。手前の沿道からは市民が「反レイシズム」と英語で書かれたプラカードを掲げ抗議した=東京都中央区で2016年6月19日、井田純撮影

特定の人種や民族に対しての差別的な言動解消を目指すヘイトスピーチ対策法施行から1カ月が過ぎた。1日には大阪市で全国初のヘイトスピーチ抑止条例が施行された。法律や条例といった規制で、差別はどこまでなくなるのか。ヘイトデモの現場を歩きながら考えた。【井田純】

「過激な内容のプラカードはご遠慮ください」「ハーケンクロイツ(ナチス・ドイツが用いたシンボルマーク)など、誤解を招くような旗は禁止」

大阪市ヘイトスピーチ抑止条例は「日本人差別法だ」と主張する市民団体が12日に市役所前で予定していた街頭宣伝活動の案内文には、こんな注意事項があった。活動は雨で中止になったため、「過激な内容」が何を意味するかは分からないが、在日コリアンを侮辱したり、排斥したりといった言動は控えようという姿勢がうかがえる。

「4月に市中心部で行われたヘイトグループの街宣で、参加者の一人が『朝鮮人が』と露骨な表現で攻撃を始めると主催者があわてて制止する場面があった。デモの回数も条例施行前後からめっきり減っています」

こう話すのは、抑止条例に基づき被害申し立てを行った「ヘイトスピーチを許さない!大阪の会」の事務局長で在日コリアンの文公輝(ムンゴンフィ)さんだ。条例は市長が認定すればヘイト行為をした個人名や団体名などが公表されるが、まだその条例適用事例はない。「デモが減ったのも、ただ単に様子を見ているだけかもしれません」

昨年あたりから、ヘイトデモが目立つようになった東京・銀座でも、変化が見られる。先月19日に行われたデモでは、在日コリアン罵倒のプラカードでなく、複数の「日韓断交」ののぼりが目立った。民族を排斥する表現を避けて、政治的主張に力点を置いたものと見られる。

銀座の商店会や区議にヘイト対策を働きかけている渡辺雅之・大東文化大准教授は「ヘイト側の考え方、中身は変わらないかもしれないが、少なくとも表面的には対策法の影響がうかがえる。主催者も、特に過激な発言が多い参加者には拡声機を持たせないようにしているようだ」と分析する。

警察や行政の対応も変わった。対策法施行直後の6月5日、在日コリアンが多く住む川崎市・桜本地区で、彼らの支援を続ける社会福祉法人「青丘社」をターゲットにしたヘイトデモ計画に対し、市は同所近くの公園利用の不許可を決定。横浜地裁川崎支部はヘイトデモを「人格権に対する違法な侵害行為」と認定し、法人近くでのデモを禁止した。神奈川県警は市内の別の地区で道路使用を許可したが、抗議する市民が座り込みを行い、安全上の理由から中止するよう県警が主催者に働きかけ、デモは中止になった。

「対策法ができる前は、警察からデモコースも教えてもらえず、こちらが不法集団のように扱われてきた。自分たちの生活圏で行われるヘイトスピーチ、人権被害から守ってくれない警察、『現行法でできることに限界がある』という行政。この『三重の被害』を受けてきたんです」。青丘社の三浦知人事務局長はこう振り返りながらも、法施行後の行政、司法、警察、市民による手探りの努力について「結果としてデモを阻止できたのは、確実な一歩です」と評価した。

口汚い罵倒は街頭から消えつつある。法で差別解消が実現されるのだろうか。

行政の限界、市民が埋める取り組み
対策法は、憲法が保障する「表現の自由」を尊重し、禁止規定や罰則のない理念法だ。運用については、相談体制整備や教育、啓発活動を国の責務とし、自治体にも同様の努力を求めている。抑止効果は、行為への取り締まりではなく、差別をなくす行政の政策にかかっているのだ。

法務省人権擁護局は、川崎のほか施行後に行われた福岡、大阪でのヘイトデモの現場周辺にも職員を派遣。映像やポスターなどを使った啓発活動を実施している。だが「具体的にヘイトスピーチにあたる行為があった場合、それに対して何らかの法律効果を生じさせる、という構成の法律ではない」と強調する。

対策法施行を受け、都道府県の教育委員会に「適切な対応」を求める通達を出した文部科学省。同省社会教育課に、どんな啓発教育が適切なのか聞くと、「外国人が多い地域かどうかなど、事情に応じた取り組みが必要。教育を通じて『寝た子を起こす』ことになってもいけない」との回答。一理あるが、まだ手探りの感は否めない。

大阪市のような条例制定の動きが、各地に広まっていくのだろうか。川崎市の人権・男女共同参画室に今後の具体的な施策を尋ねると、「市長判断で行われていることなので」と口が重い。食い下がると、「公園使用不許可などに関して、日本人を差別した、と市を相手取った訴訟を起こす動きもあると聞く。手の内を明かすようなことは……」と警戒心をあらわにした。相手の出方をうかがっているのは行政も同じようだ。

川崎市で再びヘイトデモが計画されたら、また、市民が道路に座り込み、県警の仲介を待つしかないのだろうか。前出の三浦さんは「6月のデモで、警察が道路使用を許可したことが今の限界を示している。何でも警察や行政に求めることはできない。今度は別の形で止めなければ。限界を埋める作業は始まったばかり」と話す。ヘイトスピーチ規制に限らず、多文化共生に向けた条例やガイドラインなど実効性のある取り組みを行政と連携しながら模索するという。

一方、独自に条例を持つ大阪市の今後について文さんは「どこまでが対策法の効果か、条例の影響かまだ分からない。だからこそ、我々は条例をできるだけ活用し、具体的にどんな効力を持つのか、どういう点で無力なのかを見極めていきたい。その上で、必要ならヘイトスピーチ自体を規制する条例改正も求めたい」と語る。実例を見ながら、対策法の不十分な領域を補っていこうという方向性は三浦さんたちと共通する。

在日1世「なかよくしよう」
ヘイトデモが起きる敵対感情には、戦争の影がつきまとう。桜本地区が標的になったのは、青丘社が運営する「ふれあい館」を活動拠点とする在日コリアンの高齢者が昨年9月、安全保障関連法案反対デモをチマ・チョゴリ姿で行ったのがきっかけだ。「ヘイトデモは明らかにその仕返しだった」と三浦さんは言う。

安保法案反対デモに参加した一人で、在日コリアン1世の金芳子(キムバンジャ)さん(85)は、ふれあい館の識字学級に通う生徒でもある。山口県の炭鉱労働者だった父を追って日本に渡ったのは5歳のころ。妹の子守りや家事で忙しく、学校には1年程度しか通えなかったという。対策法が成立した5月、国会で傍聴した時の思いを教室で書いた作文を見せてくれた。

汚い言葉でののしられるのは嫌だという気持ちの後に、「もうそろそろそんなことはやめにして、なかよくしましょうよ」とある。不ぞろいの文字は、ここだけひときわ大きく力強い。「墨で書いたから手が震えたよ」と恥ずかしがりながら、金さんは言った。「やっぱし人間は話せばわかる。人を憎まないで仲ようするしかない」

ヘイトデモに加わった人たちに、この言葉が届く日が来ると信じたい。対策法の理念を現実にしていく過程はきっと対話から始まる。
ENDS
///////////////////////////////////

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

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

US and Japan votes: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito. The Japan Times, Just Be Cause column 101
To be published Oct 3, 2016

I love elections. Anywhere. It’s fascinating to see how politicians craft public appeals. No matter how flawed the process, it’s how nation-states recharge their legitimacy and publicly reaffirm their mandate to govern.

During this season of the world’s most-watched presidential campaign, JBC will assess “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of how the United States and Japan run their elections. […] I want to talk about the expression of political culture and momentum that has grown from generations of campaigning, and how it brings out the “good” (things that are healthy for a representative democracy), the “bad” (things that aren’t), and the “ugly” (the just plain ludicrous)…

Read the rest in the Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/10/02/issues/comparing-elections-u-s-japan-good-bad-ugly/

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

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JT: Renho nationality furor exposes Japan’s deeply embedded gender bias

Hi Blog. Colin Jones has come up with another insightful column, with a legalistic spine, in regards to how Japanese nationality has historically been awarded (until 1985, through fathers only, not mothers) until it was challenged. And, true to their nature in Japanese jurisprudence, Tokyo courts sided with the status quo (of discriminating against international children with Japanese mothers), and it wasn’t until the Diet amended the laws before they changed their tune. Yet, as Colin points out, the stigma still remains, especially in light of the debate regarding DP leader Renho’s true “Japaneseness”, a dual-nationality flap that never should have been an issue in the first place, –regardless of whether you are proponent of single nationality or double (I fall in the latter camp). Read the article for a breathtaking tour through Japan’s convoluted legal logic. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Renho nationality furor exposes Japan’s deeply embedded gender bias
by Colin P.A. Jones, The Japan Times, Sept. 28, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/09/28/issues/renho-nationality-furor-exposes-japans-deeply-embedded-gender-bias/

Excerpts germane to Debito.org:

In short, decades after her birth, Renho is still being punished for having a Japanese parent who was female rather than male. Renho’s case thus offers a stark illustration of the deeply rooted structural impediments faced by women in Japan even today.

It also demonstrates the Japanese establishment’s general inability to acknowledge the past. The fact that such blatant government-sanctioned discrimination existed until the 1980s simply disappears into the memory hole, a hole that probably exists because the people who ran Japan back then are essentially the same as those who run it today.

[…]

Grossly oversimplified, the [Tokyo] high court found that the Nationality Act provision granting citizenship to children of Japanese fathers but not mothers was constitutional because that is all it says. It doesn’t go on to actively declare that children born to a Japanese mother may not obtain Japanese nationality — that would be constitutionality problematic! In fact, the act specifies the special circumstances in which nationality could be obtained through a Japanese mother (such as when the father was unknown).

The ruling goes on to note that the Diet had a choice of a general rule recognizing birth nationality to children of a) Japanese fathers, b) Japanese mothers or c) Japanese mothers or fathers, and it chose option a). It could have chosen b) too, which would also have been constitutional (though the notion that the male-dominated Diet would have done so is laughable, of course).

Finally, the court turned to its own inadequacies: Even if it found the Nationality Act unconstitutional, it would not result in the plaintiff obtaining Japanese nationality. The law would just be void rather than construed the way the plaintiff desired.

As is so often the case with decisions like these, the courts were at pains to show that there was a layer of kindness and sensitivity between their staid, heartless exterior and staid, heartless center. The high court makes all sorts of comforting statements about how the gender preferences expressed in the Nationality Act may no longer be appropriate. The court also addressed the possibility that the child plaintiff might be left stateless (but did not bother to mention the real-life impact the Nationality Act had on stateless children fathered by U.S. military personnel, particularly in Okinawa). Specifically, it noted that the situation was “makoto ni ki no doku na koto de aru” — truly a regrettable thing. “But,” it continues, “tough luck.” (I am paraphrasing.)

The more decisions I read like this, the harder it is to avoid concluding that Japanese courts at the time didn’t care about people in general, children in particular, equal protection or possibly even the Constitution — at least not enough to actually do anything beyond stringing really complex sentences together. It would have been interesting to see how the Supreme Court ruled on the matter, but that appeal was rendered moot in 1984 when the Diet amended the Nationality Act to allow Japanese nationality to be obtained from a Japanese mother also.

Renho nationality furor exposes Japan’s deeply embedded gender bias

ENDS

Deep in Japan Podcast, Debito Interview Pt. 3 of 3 on book “Embedded Racism” and issues of racial discrimination etc. in Japan

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Hi Blog.  Jeff Krueger’s Deep in Japan Podcast features the last interview of three (the first is here, the second here) with me about the issues of racism and discrimination in Japan, covered in book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination“.

Available at iTunes and Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/deep-in-japan/dr-debito-iii-racism-and-discrimination-in-japan

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Deep in Japan Podcast, Debito Interview Pt. 2 on book “Embedded Racism” and issues of racial discrimination etc. in Japan

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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.  Jeff Krueger’s insightful Deep in Japan Podcast features the second interview of three (the first is here) with me about the issues of racism and discrimination in Japan, covered in book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

Available at iTunes and Soundcloud:  https://soundcloud.com/deep-in-japan/debito-13-embedded-racism

JT: Democratic Party Leader Renho and the “pure blood” mythos (covered in detail in book “Embedded Racism”)

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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. Phil Brasor at the Japan Times offers us an excellent article on the recent politician Murata Renho flap, as people make an issue of her apparent dual nationality (Japan and Taiwan) and question her loyalties simply because of her apparent “mixed blood” (as if the bloodlines were ever that distinct in the first place in Asia).  No matter.  She still got elected head of the main opposition Democratic Party.  May she put some zing into Japan’s lackluster left-wing.

Some gems from the article that are of note to Debito.org:

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

“The government itself estimates there are 680,000 Japanese with dual nationality.” […]

“It’s no coincidence that Renho’s detractors are the same people who are against allowing a female emperor. “Pure blood” ideology is at the root of Yawata’s philosophy — the “scoop” about Renho’s dual nationality was merely a delivery device. The law means nothing to them because their faith is invested in an occult mythos about the unbroken Imperial line. [Journalist] Kosugi Misuzu insists these beliefs amount to “racism,” since they limit the rights of some people born and raised in Japan due to genetics. Asahi reported on July 6, 2014 — well before the Renho controversy — that the pure blood faction wants to kick out permanent Korean residents as well as anyone with dual citizenship by making all Japanese sign a loyalty oath. They are not just rightists, said the paper, they are “anachronisms.”

“[Former bureaucrat] Yawata Kazuro says Renho can’t be trusted because she doesn’t use her Japanese married name and gave her children names that “sound Chinese.” These value judgments should mean nothing in a democracy. Zakzak, another Sankei organ, adds to the din by saying that Japanese people do not like the idea of someone with dual citizenship “rising to the top.” What about best-selling Japanese-American singer Hikaru Utada and all those bicultural athletes at the Rio Olympics? For that matter, what about former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, who was allowed to settle here and escape prosecution in his native country by asserting his Japanese nationality?”

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

All of these issues, particularly the “pure blood” conceit, have been brought up passim in book “Embedded Racism:  Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination in Japan“.  Renho herself features prominently in the book (Chapter Seven), given that Japan’s racist politicians have questioned her loyalty many times before — for example when she was a Cabinet member in the previous DPJ government — simply because she’s to them a mudblood.  And they can get away with it because the “pure blood” narrative is so strong.

Please read the full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/09/17/national/media-national/renho-pure-blood-mythos/. Courtesy of JDG. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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

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

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

Japan begins clearing path for foreign workers

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

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

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

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

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

English-friendly hospitals

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

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

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

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

COMMENT:  Nice, but obviously porkbarrel.

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

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

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

Talent search

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Japan Center for Michigan Universities: Report and video interview of Muslim Lawyer Hayashi Junko on issues faced by Muslims in Japan (surveillance by police, including of Japanese kith and kin)

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JCMU Resident Director Benjamin McCracken says:

Dear Debito, Thank you so much for your promotion of this lecture a few weeks back. We had some people come all the way from Tokyo to see it. Amazing! This is a link to an interview I did with Junko before her lecture. We focused on her recent court case finding no constitutional violation for the surveillance of Muslims in Japan. Scary stuff indeed. https://jcmuofficialblog.com/2016/08/08/issues-faced-by-muslims-in-japan/
Please feel free to post the link to Debito.org along with any of the commentary from article on the blog.

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

Excerpt: On July 23, 2016 the Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) in Hikone welcomed Junko Hayashi, Japan’s first female Muslim attorney, to speak about Islam and the issues faced by Muslims in Japan. In a recent court battle, Mrs. Hayashi represented Japanese Muslims that were being observed by the Japanese government for no reason other than the fact that they were Muslims. Their surveillance came to light after information gathered by police was accidentally leaked to the public on the internet. Despite this, Japanese courts ruled that there was no constitutional violation and that the threat of international terrorism outweighed any right to privacy held by the plaintiffs. […]

In the interview, Mrs. Hayashi lamented that “all Muslims are equal to criminal suspects” in Japan. She noted that because of prejudice against practitioners of Islam, she and the rest of the Japanese Muslim community are denied personal and privacy rights enjoyed by most other citizens. “Their rights are violated and they can’t do anything about it,” Mrs. Hayashi explained. The stereotypes of Muslims have little factual support, as no acts of terrorism have been carried out by Muslims in Japan to Mrs. Hayashi’s knowledge. To redress this discrimination and support those affected by the government’s continued surveillance, she hopes to start a human rights organization.

Rest at https://jcmuofficialblog.com/2016/08/08/issues-faced-by-muslims-in-japan/

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

COMMENT: And from this, it’s but a few steps until approving surveillance of Non-Japanese residents as “criminal suspects“. And from that their kith and kin. Japan’s Police State is returning. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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Nikkei Asian Review wrongly reports “Japanese law requires hotels to check and keep copies of foreigners’ passports”. Corrected after protest, but misreported text still proliferates

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Hi Blog. Check this article out, put out by the Nihon Keitai Shinbun (Japan’s WSJ):

/////////////////////////////////////////
Japan to allow fingerprint authorization for visitors
Nikkei Asian Review, July 24, 2016
http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Japan-to-allow-fingerprint-authorization-for-visitors
(Original text below courtesy of http://www.anirudhsethireport.com/japan-allow-fingerprint-authorization-visitors/, and numerous other websites found by Googling the article title, demonstrating how reported misinformation proliferates across the media and becomes the narrative.)

Visitors to Japan will be able to use their fingerprints instead of passports to identify themselves at some hotels thanks to technology introduced by a Tokyo venture.

With financial help from the economy and industry ministry, Liquid will start offering a fingerprint-based authorization system by March in a bid to increase travel convenience. Some 80 hotels and Japanese-style inns in major tourist spots like Hakone and Atami, two hot spring resort areas not far from Tokyo, will be among the first to install the system. More inns and hotels will follow.

The ministry will cover part of the installation costs.

Visitors to Japan can register their fingerprints along with their passport information in their home countries or at registration spots at airports or elsewhere in Japan. Foreign travelers can then identify themselves at a hotel’s front desk by waving their fingers over a contactless device.

Japanese law requires hotels to check and keep copies of foreigners’ passports. But the economy ministry and the ministry of labor have decided to treat “digital passports” as legitimate alternatives.
/////////////////////////////////////////
ENDS

Debito.org Reader XY found this article and wrote to the Nikkei for a correction. Their response, and his original post, follow:

==================================
From: NAR Customer Support <nar-inquiry@nex.nikkei.co.jp>
Subject: 00004389 – Editorial
Date: August 4, 2016 at 15:23:58 GMT+9
To: XY, XXXX University

Dear Customer,

Thank you for your inquiry. This is Nikkei Asian Review (NAR) Customer Support.

Please find our editorial team’s answer as follows.
Thank you.

Best regards,

Nikkei Asian Review
Customer Support

————————————————————–
Thank you so much. We will check the Ryokan Law and see if we need to change the sentence.
—————————————————————

Your inquiry:
—————————————————————
This article contains an incorrect statement: “Japanese law requires hotels to check and keep copies of foreigners’ passports.” In fact, Japanese law requires hotels to check the passports of foreigners who don’t have an address in Japan:

For details, including a quote of the relevant Japanese law go to

https://www.facebook.com/Kumamotoi/posts/1091156614291103

The most important point is that the law does not apply to all foreigners but to foreign tourists who do not have an address in Japan. This is a matter of concern to many who live in Japan and occasionally are asked for passports based on a misunderstanding of the law. A second point is that keeping copies of passports is not mentioned in the law — it is a directive from the police. The law only calls for keeping records.

Would you consider correcting the article?

XY, XXXX University
==================================

COMMENT: As you can see by following this link to the new article, Nikkei corrected it to remove the last paragraph entirely — and that’s about as close as we’ll ever get to them admitting they made a mistake. But as we’ve written here many times before, the National Police Agency and its branches keep lying about their lawgiven powers regarding tracking foreign guests at Japanese hotels. XY wonders if somebody at the NPA wasn’t involved in creating this misinformed article. It wouldn’t be the first time, and a recent (and very funny) article came out over the weekend describing how the Japanese Police have historically stretched laws to outlaw public behavior they basically just personally disliked. Just another example of how Japan is actually a mild (or sometimes not) police state.  And that’s even before we get to the whole issue of re-fingerprinting NJ and the flawed reasoning behind it.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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

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Hi Blog. Article first, then comment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMENTS:

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

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

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

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

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

For Abe, it will always be about the Constitution
By Debito Arudou
The Japan Times, JUST BE CAUSE column 99, August 1, 2016

Nobody here on the Community page has weighed in on Japan’s Upper House election last July 10, so JBC will have a go.

The conclusion first: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scored a hat trick this election, and it reaffirmed his mandate to do whatever he likes. And you’re probably not going to like what that is.

Of those three victories, the first election in December 2012 was a rout of the leftist Democratic Party of Japan and it thrust the more powerful Lower House of Parliament firmly into the hands of the long-incumbent Liberal Democratic Party under Abe. The second election in December 2014 further normalized Japan’s lurch to the far right, giving the ruling coalition a supermajority of 2/3 of the seats in the Lower House.

July’s election delivered the Upper House to Abe. And how. Although a few protest votes found their way to small fringe leftist parties, the LDP and parties simpatico with Abe’s policies picked up even more seats. And with the recent defection of Diet member Tatsuo Hirano from the opposition, the LDP alone has a parliamentary majority for the first time in 27 years, and a supermajority of simpaticos. Once again the biggest loser was the leftist Democratic Party, whose fall from power three years ago has even accelerated.

So that’s it then: Abe has achieved his goals. And with that momentum he’s going to change the Japanese Constitution.

Amazingly, this isn’t obvious to some observers. The Wall Street Journal, The Economist (London), and Abe insiders still cheerfully opined that Abe’s primary concern remains the economy — that constitutional reform will remain on the backburner. But some media made similar optimistic predictions after Abe’s past electoral victories…

Read the rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/07/31/issues/abe-will-always-constitution/

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

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Book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Press 2016) now out early in paperback: $49.99

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Hi Blog. Sales of book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books, November 2015) in hardcover have been outstanding.

embeddedracismcover

In less than a year after being published, WorldCat says as of this writing that 83 of the world’s major academic libraries worldwide (including Stanford, Cornell, UC Berkeley, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton) already have it in their collections.

Now my publisher has brought it out in paperback early for classroom use (it usually takes a year or two before that happens). Price: Less than half the hardcover price, at $49.99.  It currently occupies the first spot of Lexington’s Sociology Catalog this year under Regional Studies:  Asia (page 33).

Now’s your chance to get a copy, either from the publisher directly or from outlets such as Amazon.com. Read the research I spent nearly two decades on, which earned a Ph.D., and has for the first time 1) generated talk within Japanese Studies of a new way of analyzing racism in Japan (with a new unstudied minority called “Visible Minorities“), and 2) applied Critical Race Theory to Japan and found that the lessons of racialization processes (and White Privilege) still apply to a non-White society (in terms of Wajin Privilege).

Get the book that finally exposes the discrimination in Japan by physical appearance as a racialization process, and how the people who claim that “Japan has only one race, therefore no racism” are quite simply wrong.  Further, as the book argues in the last chapter, if this situation is not resolved, demographically-shrinking Japanese society faces a bleak future.

Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination.” Now out in paperback on Amazon and at Lexington Books. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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CG on increased exit taxes on health insurance and residency when you change jobs and domiciles in Japan

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Hi Blog.  I just wanted to put this one out there as a general query.  Anyone else experienced this and gotten an explanation why?  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

======================
June 17, 2016
From: CG
Hello Dr. Arudou:

First, I just wanted to say “Thank You” for all the writing you’ve done. I purchased your handbook a while ago and it was a big help when applying for permanent residency here (successfully!)

I was hoping to ask you a question. I’ve done a fair amount of searching online and haven’t found an answer, and the people directly involved in the issue can’t (or won’t) give a plausible answer either. Recently I switched jobs and moved to a new town here after over ten years working for the previous town’s 教育委員会 [BOE]. When I received my final paycheck, they deducted twice the normal tax amount for 社会保険 [shakai hoken; health and pension insurance] and three times the normal amount for 住民税 [juuminzei; local residency taxes]、helping themselves to an extra over 8万円 [80,000 yen]。 Have you heard of such a situation before? The fact that I can’t find any information about such a “moving tax” or get clear answers strikes me as very strange.

If you have a moment, I’d be very glad to know your thoughts. Best, CG
======================
MY THOUGHTS: Not sure. Anyone out there with this experience who figured out what was going on? Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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Hi Blog. Buzzfeed News’s Hatachi Kouta wrote up a report dated June 26, 2016, where he found the following Shibuya Police poster in a residential area:

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

The poster reads:

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

WE ARE ASKING FOR INFORMATION FROM MINPAKU HOSTELERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the article for yourself here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And guess where? Chiba and IBARAKI!

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

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

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

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

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

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

See? It all makes sense now.

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

ENDS

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Telegraph: Tourists in Japan to use fingerprints as ‘currency’ instead of cash; another case of Gaijin as Guinea Pig

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Hi Blog. First the article, then some commentary:

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Tourists in Japan to use fingerprints as ‘currency’ instead of cash
The system aims to make shopping and checking into hotels more convenient for overseas visitors
The Telegraph, by Danielle Demetriou, Tokyo 11 APRIL 2016 • 9:20AM Courtesy of JK and BB
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/11/tourists-in-japan-to-use-fingerprints-as-currency/

Visitors to Japan may soon be able to forget the hassle of having to change money – with the launch of a new system enabling fingerprints to be used as currency.

The system, which will launch this summer, aims to make shopping and checking into hotels faster and more convenient for overseas visitors, according to the Yomiuri newspaper.

It will involve foreign visitors first registering their details, including fingerprints and credit card information, in airports or other convenient public locations.

The new system will also enable the government to analyse the spending habits and patterns of foreign tourists.

Registered tourists will then be able to buy products, with taxes automatically deducted, from select stores by placing two fingers on a small fingerprint-reading device.

The fingerprint system will also be used as a speedy substitute for presenting passports when checking into hotels, which is currently a legal obligation for overseas tourists, according to reports.

In its first test phase, the project will involve 300 souvenir shops, restaurants, hotels and other establishments frequented by tourists in popular destinations including the mountainous hot spring resort area Hakone and the coastal town Kamakura.

The fingerprint experiment is part of a wider effort by the Japanese government to encourage visitors from overseas to visit the capital in the run up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Officials are hoping to launch the system throughout the country – including Tokyo – by 2020, with as many as 40 million overseas annual visitors expected by that year.

The new system will also enable the government to analyse the spending habits and patterns of foreign tourists, with anonymous data to be managed by a government-led consultative body.

The data obtained from the project will be used to help government officials create effective tourism management policies, according to Yomiuri.

One concern among officials, however, is that some tourists may be reluctant to provide fingerprint information voluntarily due to fears relating to privacy issues.

Fingerprint as payment

Biometrics – using your body to as an alternative to passwords – are on the rise. In February, Mastercard confirmed it would accept selfies and fingerprints instead of account passwords in the UK.

Several mobile wallets already use fingerprints as a way to authenticate payment. Registering debit or credit cards to an Apple Pay-compatible iPhone allows users to make payments or transactions by pressing a thumb or finger to the Touch ID fingerprint scanner in the home button to verify their identity.

Customers can also use it to travel around London’s TfL networks.

Samsung Pay and Android Pay have also started to let consumers pay for things using the fingerprint scanner.

How secure are fingerprints?

In the case of mobile payments, the smartphone maker, such as Apple, does not store your card numbers on the device you’re using for Apple Pay, nor on their servers. Instead, when a card is added, a unique Device Account Number is created and encrypted. This number is stored in a chip within your device called the secure Element.

When you go to make a transaction, the Device Account Number is matched with a dynamic security code unique to that specific payment, which is then processed.

If your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch is lost or stolen, you can suspend Apple Pay remotely or wipe it fully using Find My iPhone.

Fingerprints, like any other security measure, can be spoofed. In fact, researchers have claimed they have hacked a Samsung Galaxy S6 and a Huawei Honor 7 phone by taking a photo of someone’s finger and printing it out with special ink. The other problem is you have only 10 fingerprints – and they can never be changed. [Really? — Ed.]

However it is still considerably more difficult to steal and reproduce a fingerprint than to brute-force guess a password or a pin. Perhaps the most secure approach is to have a two-step authentication system that includes both a password and a fingerprint.

ENDS

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

COMMENT:  This article seems a bit too much in thrall to the possibilities of the new technology to pay sufficient attention to the possible abuses of fingerprinting (and no attention to the history of fingerprinting in Japan in particular).  Culturally speaking, fingerprinting in Japan is associated with criminal activity, which is why so many Japanese (and let alone other NJ and Zainichi Korean minorities) are reluctant to have their fingerprints taken (let alone be forced to carry ID) and stored in a leaky government database.  That’s why once again, the Gaijin as Guinea Pig phenomenon is kicking in — where it’s the powerless people in a society who are having government designs for social control being foisted upon them first, before it gets suggested as policy for the rest of the population.

The point is that Japan has long been trying to find ways to track their Gaijin population best (and has managed it with new remotely-trackable RFID-chipped Gaijin Cards).  It is merely expanding upon their reinstitution of border fingerprinting for foreigners only in 2007 that was once seen as a “violation of human rights” barely ten years earlier.  They’ve got all these Gaijin fingerprints from the border.  Why not use them and not only track their whereabouts but also what they do with their money and time?  Once there is enough data for the government to claim, “It’s convenient.  It’s precedented.  It’s safely stored.  And it’s going to make us No. 1 again in something technological,” then watch as public policy switches to suggest it for everyone else in Japan.  Japan’s control-freak bureaucracy will settle for nothing less than as much information and control over its people as possible.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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Mainichi: LDP new Constitution draft differentiates between ‘big’ and ‘small’ human rights, the latter to be subordinated “in times of emergency”. Yeah, sure.

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Hi Blog.  Here we have another example of “Japan power elite” logic at work as the ruling party seeks to amend Japan’s Constitution away from values it considers “Western”.  Including the concept of human rights, which it has somehow decided to arbitrarily divide into “big” and “small”.  “Small” would be limited in times of emergency, but the problem is that there is no indication of what the LDP intends to classify as “small human rights” to be subordinated.  A good critical thinker at the Mainichi takes on and exposes the idiocracy at work here.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

LDP draft Constitution differentiates between ‘big’ and ‘small’ human rights
May 26, 2016 (Mainichi Japan), Courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160526/p2a/00m/0na/025000c

How puzzling. A question-and-answer booklet that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has created to explain its draft revision of the Constitution claims there are two types of human rights: the big ones and the little ones.

The concept of “big human rights” and “small human rights” appears in the booklet’s section on the LDP draft Constitution’s controversial “state of emergency” provision, which allows for temporary restrictions on human rights and concentration of authority in the Cabinet in the case of an emergency such as an armed attack from external forces, disturbances in social order due to domestic turmoil, or major disasters. Following the massive earthquakes in Kumamoto and its surrounding areas in mid-April, the government and the LDP have ramped up their argument that such a provision is necessary to carry out rescue and recovery efforts as smoothly as possible.

The Q&A booklet states that protecting the lives, bodies and properties of the people is the state’s utmost priority not only in times of peace but also in times of emergency. So far, so good. But it’s what follows that throws me for a loop.

“Some are of the opinion that fundamental human rights should not be restricted even in times of emergency,” the booklet reads. “But we believe that it is possible that in order to protect big human rights such as people’s lives, bodies and properties, we could be forced to place restrictions on smaller human rights.”

It’s pretty clear what the LDP means by “big human rights.” But what are the “smaller human rights” that the party refers to?

I contacted the LDP Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution. The person who responded, however, simply kept repeating that “it would be helpful if you could read it as it is written.” That was precisely the problem, though. I couldn’t understand what had been written.

Yosuke Isozaki, the deputy chief of the LDP constitutional revision promotion headquarters, who was a central figure in the compilation of the party’s draft revision, told the Mainichi Shimbun during an interview carried in its April 29 morning edition, “One of the state’s loftiest and most significant roles is to protect the people’s lives, bodies and properties. There may be cases in which small human rights are violated, but if we cannot protect the people, there can be no constitutionalism.”

Shojiro Sakaguchi, a professor at Hitotsubashi University and an expert on constitutional law, objects head-on to such reasoning, declaring, “There is no differentiation in human rights between big and small.”

The current Japanese Constitution guarantees a diverse range of rights, including freedom of thought and conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of expression and economic freedom, including property rights. Says Sakaguchi, “Freedom of expression is indispensable in upholding a democracy, and there exists the argument that freedom of expression should be more heavily protected than property rights, which can be recovered through political processes even in the off chance that it is restricted as long as the democracy is functioning. But I have never heard of there being big and small human rights.”

Sakaguchi is particularly worried about the possibility that freedom of expression will be restricted as a “small human right” in times of emergency. “To position property rights as a ‘big human right’ and allow limitations to freedom of expression in the name of ‘protecting a big human right,’ such as property rights, is the complete opposite of the way it should be,” he says.

And where do Sakaguchi’s concerns come from? “It’s written in the LDP’s Q&A booklet that rules based on the Western notion of ‘natural rights’ must be amended, and that the people have a duty to respect the Constitution. One gets the impression that the draft revision puts the state in a position superior to human rights,” Sakaguchi says. “If you switch the part that reads, ‘To protect the big human rights, such as the lives, bodies and properties of the people’ to say ‘To protect the state,’ the actual intent of the draft constitutional revisions becomes very clear.”

He continues, “The purpose of the provision on emergencies is to protect the state. Such a provision can lead to thinking that ‘to protect the state, which is in danger, the public must refrain from making statements or taking actions that are critical of the state,’ thereby restricting freedom of expression and other human rights. I think the LDP’s true intention is to push things along with priority on the state’s will, rather than the human rights of the individual.”

This is along the lines of the idea that human rights depend on the existence of a state, Sakaguchi says. He characterizes this as “a sharp break from the idea of human rights, which should be a universal principle of humanity.”

Makoto Ito, an attorney who has been involved in numerous lawsuits on constitutionality, including ones regarding vote weight disparity, suggests that the categorization of human rights into big and small exemplify the LDP’s view toward human rights.

“The notion that small human rights can be sacrificed for big human rights is not limited to times of emergency. If we allow such thinking to prevail, there is a possibility that some human rights will not be considered important enough to be protected even in times of peace.” In other words, Ito is saying that we could find ourselves in a society in which disregard for human rights is the norm.

Other parts of the LDP’s draft Constitution must not be overlooked, Ito adds. Article 13 of the current Constitution states, “All of the people shall be respected as individuals,” while Article 97 says, “The fundamental human rights by this Constitution guaranteed to the people of Japan are fruits of the age-old struggle of man to be free.” The LDP draft modifies Article 13 and deletes Article 97.

“In the LDP draft, the word ‘individuals’ in Article 13, has been changed to ‘persons.’ This completely dismisses individualism and the independent individuals presupposed by the Constitution,” Ito says. “The deletion of Article 97 is the equivalent of denying the universality of human rights. And then to bring in the notion of ‘big’ and ‘small’ human rights is an act of turning one’s back against the principle of respect for human rights.”

As is evident thus far, alarm over human rights restrictions are expected to rise if the LDP’s draft Constitution is to become a reality. Meanwhile, however, human rights are already coming under restrictions ahead of any constitutional changes, some say.

According to Tsuyoshi Inaba, the founder and a board member of Moyai, a nonprofit organization that supports those in poverty, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has gradually lowered the sums of money people are able to receive as public assistance. “With the 2013 revision of the Public Assistance Act, welfare offices were given the authority to demand that those who are applying for welfare report why they are unable to receive assistance from family members. This can cause people to hesitate to apply for public assistance,” he says. “The current state of affairs is already threatening Article 25 of the Constitution, which states that ‘all people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living.'”

Inaba is also worried about the fact that the LDP draft Constitution is trying to dictate what and how a family should be. In the LDP’s version, Article 24 states, “Family members must support each other.” To Inaba, he says, this seems like an attempt by the LDP to avert its eyes from the reality that family support is no longer enough to provide relief to those in poverty, and instead force upon the public the party’s image of an ideal family. “Even though the state has a duty to guarantee that people can maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living, there appears to be the intent to shift that responsibility onto families,” Inaba says.

If we accept that there are “small human rights,” the rights of those in vulnerable positions in society may come to be regarded as “small.”

There is always a possibility that one’s human rights will be threatened. Already, there have been cases in which local governments have shown reluctance toward renting out public facilities — in the name of “political neutrality” and for other reasons — to citizens’ groups wanting to hold events in opposition of constitutional revisions or for the abolition of nuclear power. It’s frightening to imagine what might happen if freedom of expression and freedom of assembly were designated as “small human rights.”

The LDP’s Q&A booklet notes that the LDP draft Constitution does not deviate from the party’s understanding that fundamental human rights are inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being. If that is actually the case, however, the concept of a “big” or “small” human right should not even come up. (By Yoshiaki Ebata, Evening Edition Department)
ENDS

特集ワイド
自民党「憲法改正草案Q&A」への疑問 「小さな人権」とは 緊急時なら制限されてもいい…?
毎日新聞2016年5月23日 東京夕刊
自民党の日本国憲法改正草案Q&Aに記載された「大きな人権」と「小さな人権」
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20160523/dde/012/010/006000c

思わず首をかしげてしまった。「大きな人権」と「小さな人権」が存在するというのである。この表現は、自民党が憲法改正草案を解説するために作成した冊子「改正草案Q&A」の中で見つけた。大災害などの緊急時には「生命、身体、財産という大きな人権を守るため、小さな人権がやむなく制限されることもあり得る」というのだ。そもそも人権は大小に分けることができるのだろうか。【江畑佳明】

脅かされる「表現の自由」「個の尊重」/平常時にも制約受ける恐れ
まずは「改正草案Q&A」を見てみよう。「大きな人権」と「小さな人権」が記されているのは、外部からの武力攻撃、内乱などの社会秩序の混乱、大災害などの際、一時的に人権を制限し、内閣に権限を集中させる緊急事態条項を説明する項目だ。政府・自民党は熊本地震後、円滑に人命救助や復興作業を進めるために必要な条文だとの訴えを強めている。

Q&Aでは「国民の生命、身体、財産の保護は、平常時のみならず、緊急時においても国家の最も重要な役割です」と説明している。ここまでは疑問なく読めるのだが、次の説明がひっかかる。

「『緊急事態であっても、基本的人権は制限すべきではない』との意見もありますが、国民の生命、身体及び財産という大きな人権を守るために、そのため必要な範囲でより小さな人権がやむなく制限されることもあり得るものと考えます」

自民党が考える「大きな人権」は分かったが、「小さな人権」は不明だ。

そこで自民党の憲法改正推進本部に問い合わせた。でも、担当者は「書いてある通りにご理解いただければ、大変助かります」と繰り返すばかり。Q&Aを読んでも理解できないから質問したのに……。

人権を分ける考えについて、改憲草案の作成に深く携わった礒崎陽輔・党憲法改正推進本部副本部長は、緊急事態条項に関する毎日新聞のインタビュー(4月29日朝刊)でこう答えている。「国家の崇高で重い役割の一つは、国民の生命、身体、財産を守ることにある。小さな人権が侵害されることはあるかもしれないが、国民を守れなければ、立憲主義も何もない」

この考え方に真っ向から反対するのが、一橋大教授の阪口正二郎さん(憲法学)。「人権に大小の区別はありません」と断定する。

現行憲法は、思想・良心の自由▽信教の自由▽表現の自由▽財産権を含む経済的自由−−など多様な権利を保障している。阪口さんは「表現の自由は民主主義を支えるために不可欠であり、万一制約されても民主主義さえ機能していれば政治過程で回復可能な財産権よりも、手厚く保護すべきだという議論はあります。ですが、人権に大小があるという話は聞いたことがない」と説明する。

阪口さんが特に危惧するのが、緊急時に表現の自由が「小さな人権だ」として制限される可能性があることだ。「財産権を『大きな人権』に位置付け、『財産権という大きな人権を守るため』と表現の自由が制限されていいというのは、全く逆です」

重要な人権が制限されかねないと、なぜ阪口さんは考えるのか。「この『Q&A』では『(人権は生まれながらに誰もが持っているという)西欧の天賦人権説に基づく規定は改める必要がある』と書いており、国民に憲法尊重義務を新たに課すと主張するなど、人権より国家が優位だと考えている印象を受けます。そこで『国民の生命、身体及び財産という大きな人権を守るため』という部分を、『国家を守るため』と読み替えてみると、その意図がはっきりします」

そしてこう続けた。「緊急事態条項の目的は国家を守ること。『危機にある国家を守らねばならないから、国家を批判する言動は控えろ』と、表現の自由などの人権を制限しかねない。個人の人権よりも国家の意思を優先させ、物事を進めたいのが本音ではないでしょうか」

「国あっての人権」。阪口さんはそれを「人類普遍の原理であるはずの人権思想からの決別」と呼んだ。

「人権に大小をつける考え方には、自民党の人権観が表れている」と、1票の格差問題などの違憲訴訟に数多く携わってきた伊藤真弁護士は指摘する。「『大きな人権のために小さな人権は制限されてもいい』という発想は、緊急時だけにとどまるものではありません。この考え方を認めてしまえば、平常時においても『これは小さな人権だから尊重しなくてもいい』という考えにつながりかねない」。人権軽視が横行する世の中になりかねないというのだ。

改憲草案で見逃せない点は他にもある。「すべて国民は、個人として尊重される」と定めた13条の改変と、「基本的人権は、人類の多年にわたる自由獲得の努力の成果」とした97条の削除だ。

伊藤さんは「13条について、改憲草案では『個』を外して『人』に変更しました。憲法が想定する『自立した個人』の存在をなくす考え方で、個人主義を否定しています。さらに97条を削除したことは、人権の普遍性を否定したも同じ。その上で『人権の大小』を設けるというのは、人権尊重の思想に背を向ける行為です」と語る。

ここまで論じたように、万一、改憲草案が現実化したら、人権が制限される懸念は高まりそうだ。その一方で「改憲を先取りするかのように、人権の制限は既に進められている」との声も出ている。

貧困に苦しむ人たちを支援するNPO法人「自立生活サポートセンター・もやい」理事の稲葉剛(つよし)さんは「安倍晋三政権は生活保護の支給額を段階的に引き下げています。さらに2013年の改正生活保護法で、親族の援助が受けられない時は、福祉事務所がその理由の報告を求めることができるようになりました。これでは生活保護の申請をためらう事態になりかねない。憲法25条の生存権、『健康で文化的な最低限度の生活を営む権利』が脅かされつつあるのです」と実情を訴える。

稲葉さんは改憲草案が「家族のあり方」に手をつけることにも危機感を抱く。改憲草案では24条で「家族は互いに助け合わねばならない」とする。この狙いを「貧困により家族の支えが限界に来ているという現実を直視せず、自らが理想とする家族像を押し付けようとしているのではないでしょうか。国には尊厳ある個人の生存権を保障するよう努める義務があるにもかかわらず、『家族なんだから助け合いなさい』とその責任を家族に転嫁したい意図を感じます」とみる。

「小さな人権」を認めれば、社会的に弱い立場の人たちの人権が「小さい」と判断されてしまうかもしれない。

人権は常に制約される可能性がある。改憲反対や脱原発をテーマにした市民集会を巡り、自治体が「政治的中立」などの理由で公的施設の利用に難色を示すケースが出ている。表現の自由や集会の自由が「小さな人権」と制約を受け続けたら……。

Q&Aでは「人権は、人間であることによって当然に有するもの」と基本的人権を尊重する姿勢は変わらないと記している。であれば、「人権の大小」という発想自体、生まれてこないのではないか。
ENDS

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JT: Diet passes Japan’s first law to curb hate speech. Hurrah, but.

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Hi Blog.  A first step towards Debito.org’s overarching goal — a law against racial discrimination in Japan — happened yesterday:  Some kind of legislation to curb public expression of racism, in the form of a law against hate speech.

Now, Debito.org cannot wholeheartedly support this law for the reasons noted in the article below:  It defines “hate speech” only narrow-band (only covering legal residents of Japan), it doesn’t actually encode punishments or penalties, and it joins all of Japan’s other laws that ineffectually ban things only in principle and get ignored in practice (such as Japan’s Equal Employment Opportunity Law, which has not curbed male-female wage and promotion differentials one whit outside of a lengthy and risky Japanese court process).  It is, as critics say below, mere window-dressing to make Japan look like a “civilized” country to its neighbors.  That said, I’m going to opt that it’s better to have some law that acknowledges the existence of a problem (as opposed to what’s been going on before; even the article indicates below there was a hate rally on average more than once a day somewhere in Japan).  Let it potentially chasten xenophobes and indicate that minorities in Japan are here to stay and deserve dignity, respect, and the right to be unstigmatized.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Diet passes Japan’s first law to curb hate speech
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI
STAFF WRITER
The Japan Times, May 24, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/05/24/national/social-issues/diet-passes-japans-first-law-curb-hate-speech/

Japan’s first anti-hate speech law passed the Diet on Tuesday, marking a step forward in the nation’s long-stalled efforts to curb racial discrimination.

But the legislation has been dogged by skepticism, with critics slamming it as philosophical at best and toothless window dressing at worst.

The ruling coalition-backed law seeks to eliminate hate speech, which exploded onto the scene around 2013 amid Japan’s deteriorating relationship with South Korea.

It is the first such law in a country that has long failed to tackle the issue of racism despite its membership in the U.N.-designated International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Critics, however, have decried the legislation as ineffective.

While it condemns unjustly discriminatory language as “unforgivable,” it doesn’t legally ban hate speech and sets no penalty.

How effective the law will be in helping prevent the rallies frequently organized by ultraconservative groups calling for the banishment or even massacre of ethnic Korean residents remains to be seen.

Critics including the Japan Lawyers Network for Refugees have also pointed out the law is only intended to cover people of overseas origin and their descendants “who live legally in Japan.”

The law’s mention of legality, they say, will exclude many foreign residents without valid visas, such as asylum seekers and overstayers.

Submitted by lawmakers from the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, the bill initially limited its definition of hate speech to threats to bodies, lives and freedom of non-Japanese as well as other incendiary language aimed at excluding them.

But at the urging of the Democratic Party, the scope of the legislation was expanded to cover “egregious insults” against foreign residents.

The law defines the responsibility of the state and municipalities in taking measures against hate speech, such as setting up consultation systems and better educating the public on the need to eradicate such language.

The Justice Ministry’s first comprehensive probe into hate speech found in March that demonstrations organized by the anti-Korean activist group Zaitokukai and other conservative organizations still occur on a regular basis, although not all involve invectives against ethnic minorities.

A total of 347 such rallies took place in 2013, while 378 were held in 2014 and 190 from January through September last year, the Justice Ministry said.  ENDS

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The 2nd Great Gaijin Massacre in Japan’s education system, with 5-year contracts coming due in 2018 (2023 for uni profs).

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Hi Blog. This is an update to the Ninkisei Issue within Japan’s Academic Apartheid Education System, where foreign educators are given perpetual contracts. A contracted position may not sound bad to Western ears, but Japan’s tertiary education system (the second largest in the world) generally does not contract full-time Japanese educators. Since most full-time Japanese enjoy permanent tenure from day one of hiring, a contract becomes a term limit only for foreigners. Abuses of the system include “The Great Gaijin Massacre” of 1992-1994, where most foreign faculty above the age of 35 in National Universities (kokuritsu daigaku) found their contracts were not being renewed — in a successful attempt by the Ministry of Education to bring in younger, cheaper foreigners. Since these veteran teachers had not paid into overseas pension plans (and decades of Japanese pension payments are nonrefundable), they could not simply “go home”. They got stuck with part-time work with no benefits to pay house loans, fund kids’ college tuition, or fulfill pension plans.

According to Ivan Hall’s CARTELS OF THE MIND (WW Norton, 1998), there are more full-time foreign faculty with permanent tenure in one American university than in all of Japan! Not to mention a systemwide disdain (“academic apartheid”) towards foreign educators regardless of qualification, seeing them merely as cheap disposable labor. See the Blacklist of Japanese Universities, a list of institutions with breathtakingly unequal employment policies, at www.debito.org/blacklist.html

Now for the update.  Let’s see what happened to the survivors a quarter century on. The upshot is that their turn to be fired is now coming. According to labor union expert CF:

================================
“I have given it a nickname – the “2018 Cliff” If you have been working from (April) 2013 continually on renewable contracts, then (March) 2018 will be 5 years of employment, therefore on April 1 2018, if you demand permanent employment, the company must keep you on as permanent – until retirement (albeit on the pre-2018 conditions) from April 2019. To avoid this, companies will be dumping staff before the end of March 2018 to avoid the transfer to permanent status (無期転換). For better or worse, universities and research facilities deadline is 2023, so employees have an extra 5 years’ grace. The Cliff is coming, and many will be pushed off.
================================

COMMENT: So this is what NJ who persevered and contributed the bulk of their working lives to Japanese society, get at the end: An unceremonious dumping onto the job market, with no new place to go, and skills that will not easily transfer to their country of origin. And often before their MINIMUM 25 years (yes!) of required Japan-pension contributions are fulfilled.

People seeking to make a life in Japan: Beware! Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

What follows is a discussion that transpired on a labor-rights listserv I subscribe to. Posts are used and redacted with permission:

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

Date: April 4, 2016
From: AB

Now going on three years, I was forced to resign in protest from a ’tenured’ position as an Associate Professor at [Honey Badger Japan] Jr. College. Going on 32 years, over half my life, living continuously in Japan – most of which was spent running from college to college as a hijokin adjunct, a graduate degree in T.E.S.O.L., research and publications, community out-reach work and international volunteer activities … phht … all gone.

How did HB Jr. College. do it? Or more importantly for fellow readers of this listserv, Easy. Here’s how it went down in my case.

Even after 11 years as a tenured full time member of the faculty, my department (only 8 full-timers at most) pretty much excluded me from any decision making processes at the required weekly meetings — and unlike my ethnic Japanese colleagues behavior towards each other, presumed to have the right to micro-manage my classes down to what language I should use in the classroom or in open campus activities, what materials are too easy, too difficult, or too unconventional for ‘my’ classes, and what pedagogic approaches I should use. A colleague (same age, became full-time when I did) opined that even on my weekends, I should first get departmental permission to use my English for volunteer activities … even in support of other departments at HBJC. I had no idea what they did on their weekends, could have been pachinko or Kabukicho for all I knew.

After some years of just shucking and jiving while bearing it all, I finally complained to the Gakucho (Dean), who reassured me that I was hired under the same conditions, rights, and obligations as ethnic Japanese members of the kyoujukai. Of course, how could he have said anything other?

I reported this back to my gakka’s shunin (Head of Department) who said:

1 – The current Dean of the school is wrong.
2 – I was hired while under the administration of a previous Dean with different policies, and those unstated policies were still in effect.
3 – The Department will not include volunteer activities in its curricula this year, so I am forbidden to use my office or resources for community outreach activities with the local city government (I was on the board of directors of XXXXX City government’s Kokusai Koryu Kyoukai) and other volunteer activities … four trips (at my own expense) to [an impoverished Asian country] with students from my own school as well as students from other Tokyo colleges, accompanying my students to a local kindergarten to teach English … as well as XXXXX in-house high school, working with Soup no Kai supporting the homeless in Shinjuku, collaborating with an NGO supporting the severely handicapped, and so on. Things that I thought would have been expected for promotion in U.S. universities were expressly forbidden by two successive department chairmen.

I reported the Department Chairman’s opinion to the Dean, particularly comment 3 which seemed contradictory to the school’s raison d’être as stated on their glossy homepage. The Dean disagreed with the department opinion, and once again, reassured me that I am an equal among equals, and it is up to me to just ‘try harder’ to communicate with my colleagues.

I requested a meeting between the Dean and my Department Chairman to decide my status … whatever that might be … along with its attendant rights and obligations. No such meeting was forthcoming, and neither did either indicate any willingness to discuss, much less settle, the issue.

Informed by the Gakubucho (Dean of the Jr. College and also a member of my department) that I was entitled and eligible to take my one year research sabbatical, I parlayed my volunteer activities in [the impoverished Asian country] with [a local institute] to serve as my sponsor, I quit my one part-time job at XXXXXXX University, and just prior to preparing for a year abroad, was presented by the Dean with a one page document, in Japanese, drawn up specifically for me. No other teachers who had taken sabbaticals in HBJC’s over 120 year history had ever been required to sign such a document requiring me to obey ALL school wide rules and attendant obligations, as well as ALL departmental rules and attendant obligations.

I pointed out that those rules and obligations were contradictory and problematic … and that they, themselves, have as yet to have agreed upon my status and obligations. In that meeting with the Gakucho and Gakubucho, I told them that if I sign such a document, according to department rules, I was explicitly forbidden by my department to voluntarily help even my own seminar student prepare for the XXXXXXXXX Speech Contest.  I had been the only one in the school since even before becoming tenured who took personal responsibility for speech contestant preparation.  Her speech was about her first hand experience at a seaside community during the Great Tohoku Earthquake. I asked the Gakucho and the Gakubucho that if I signed the document forbidding me from helping that student, if they would take personal responsibility for that student’s still embryonic speech. I still have a digital recording of that meeting, and the only response you will hear is an awkward silence.

Pressed again to either sign, or not sign, at the risk of losing my sabbatical … I had to make a choice on the spot, either support the student, or support my ‘career’. With no family depending on me to bring home the bacon, I had the luxury of choice, so I refused to sign. Meeting ended. Research sabbatical immediately revoked.

A day or so later, I made a phone call to XXXXXX University explaining my sabbatical had been canceled and inquired whether I might retain my 3 koma one-day a week schedule. ‘Sorry, that position has already been filled’ was the courteous reply.

Later I received a letter from the head of the Board of Directors of HBJC Inc. telling me that as I have demonstrated no willingness or capacity to follow BOTH the school and the department rules, as of the following academic year, I was to be relieved of all rights to teach classes, and report to my office and await forthcoming orders to be later more clearly specified.

In the meantime, I joined a local union, showed up to a few larger union meetings, and talked with a lawyer — who said I would likely win a case against the school, but it would be a long, emotionally costly, pyrrhic victory at best. A year and a half later, a couple of meetings between the school lawyer and my labor union reps, and my allotted medical leave of absence had expired, leaving me with no choice but to either return to the school under the same conditions (no classes, no research sabbatical) … or resign.

In effect, fellow listserv readers, ignore this cautionary tale at your own peril. When push comes to shove, your ‘contract’ is not worth the paper it’s written on.  Thinking that at age 60, with half a life-time experience, I could just start all over again and go back to life as an itinerant hijokin, living year by year. Ha. Can not even get beyond the faceless intercom voice at the new pre-school next door to my apartment to offer my services as an English volunteer (and here I am being led by mass media to believe the day care centers are in crisis mode) — much less even get a single koma of part-time work in Japan.

I will end this post with [this thought]: Earlier tonight, I saw on NHK 7 pm news that Tokyo Institute of Technology’s Dean gave the opening ceremony speech in English … ‘Be positive. Take chances’. What a crock. A goddamn Kabuki show. And followed at 7:30 pm by more Olympics-inspired panem et circenses in place of my beloved Hiroko Kuniya in prime-time ’Close Up Gendai’ … as if a bevy of ambitious cute young things in the late night CUG ‘plus’ will make up for her once or twice in a generation journalistic integrity. Sincerely, AB.

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

Date: April 14, 2016
From: CD

AB, it sounds like you were put through hell and back. I’m really sorry to hear it!

I’ve advised a number of people in labor situations over the years, including six people over the last twelve months. To be honest, there seems to be a recent upswing in these kinds of cases, almost to the extent of the great “gaikokujin kyoushi” purge of the 90s. While I have my own theories, I’d be interested in reading other opinions about whether and why this may be happening.

I have a pretty good track record with labor cases, not to mention negotiating experience on both sides of the table. From this perspective, let me offer some general advice:

1) Regardless of the provocation, don’t ever quit (unless of course you have a great new job lined up). Let them fire you instead–being terminated gives you advantages later.

2) While certain things can be required of joukin (aka “tenured”) university faculty–to include both the submission of syllabi and the wording used in said syllabi–many of the things listed in AB’s post (e.g., language of instruction, specific pedagogical approaches and materials) usually cannot be demanded of university joukin. (Part-timers can have less protection.) The only exceptions to this that I know of would be where the language and pedagogical requirements were either known to the applicant before hire or represent standards developed and agreed to by all (to include AB) the joukin faculty responsible for these classes–situations seen mostly with intensive language programs or English-medium instruction (EMI) departments/institutions.

3) Given #2, and assuming that AB really was joukin (hired under the same conditions, rights, and obligations as ethnic Japanese members of the kyoujukai), many of the issues described at his workplace fit the government’s definition of Power Harassment (パワハラ).

4) There are several legal remedies available to people in such situations, some expensive and some not so expensive. Regarding the latter, on February 13 in a post to this listserv, I described in detail a FREE (albeit slow) process where the city will fight your employer to stop the Power Harassment (to include even unlawful termination). Again, this process is SLOW–typically, it takes four months to a year to conclude a case. However, I have found it reasonably effective (they usually can negotiate better treatment/employment terms and/or buyouts)… and again it’s free.

5) As alluded to in #2, #3 and #4, the laws here are, to a surprising extent, designed to protect the employee. Moreover, even as a foreign contract worker, you sometimes (e.g., occasionally even in the case of contract non-renewal) have legal protections/recourses available to you that are not available in your home country. Failing to utilize them when wronged is… silly.

6) That said, join a union and try to prepare BEFORE trouble starts. Unions tend not to look favorably upon those who join only after something bad happens. Some will refuse outright to help, while others may be lukewarm in their support. In addition to joining a union, always keep everything (including the advertised copy of your job description and all pertinent emails) and document everything related to your job duties and work performance. While most likely you will never need them, the sad reality in this country is that you never really know. I personally have known foreigners who have had no problems for YEARS–sometimes over twenty years–only to come to work one day and suddenly find that they are no longer wanted.

7) If you need action/results quickly, use a lawyer–preferably one either contacted through your union or specializing in labor issues–and prepare to go to court. Remember that Japanese people DO sue their employers, and such lawsuits are not so rare. At my current university (and department…), there have been three (!) such lawsuits over the last eight years.

8) Know that, regardless of the strength of your case, your lawyer will never promise victory. (Typically, the best they’ll give you is a 50-50 chance if it goes to court.) That said, as I’ve posted numerous times before, your employer almost always does NOT want to go to court–because of the stigma involved in such cases, even winning represents bad publicity. Given this, employers in my experience will almost invariably seek to settle before going to trial.

9) Your employer will most likely lowball you with their first settlement offer and/or try to intimidate you into taking nothing. Now, the amount of settlement you can (should?) receive depends on many factors, including your hiring status (e.g., “joukin” or “ninki-tsuki”), years employed, the strength of your case and employer perception of your ability/willingness to fight. (I have personally found the last to be the most important factor.) That said, with regards to termination and contract nonrenewal cases, while every situation is different (and assuming you are not simply reinstated to your position), I’ve generally seen settlement ranges from four months to twelve months of salary.

Hope this helps! Sincerely, CD

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Date: April 14, 2016
From: EF

At this point I would advise against teachers to stay here after age 50 or even after 45, unless you have tenure. I met a teacher who is 57 and lost his job at [a National University] after 8 years. Seven other teachers were gotten rid of too. He has a Ph.D. in education but can only get part-time work now. I know another teacher in [a city near Tokyo] who has no job and he must be about 58 or 59 now.

At my new job in XXXXX City the form asked whether I want to get paid or even be paid for commuting.  I guess they hope I will work for free. What do they want, retired teachers to just volunteer.  This could be because of money problems. At a national university in Tokyo, with a deficit of 400 million yen, the university decides that the tea machine in the part-time teachers’ room has got to go. This is in Chofu. Sincerely, EF

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Date: April 15, 2016
From: GH

I would be wary of the idea that universities have an exemption to the five-year rule. There was a big discussion at my university about this last year, and the head of HR and one of the rijis told me that the wording of the exemption is not very clear (surprise surprise!) and that even among national universities, there was disagreement about what it actually means. Apparently, some universities are now taking the limit to be ten years whereas others are playing it safe and assuming it to be five. Wherever you work, it might be a good idea to find out how they are interpreting it.

My grasp of the legislation is not at the level of some of the posters here, but as I understand it, this new law comes with a number of loopholes anyway. For example, universities will still be able to cut part-timers if they are no longer needed because of “changes to the curriculum” regardless of how long they have worked there. A change to the curriculum could be something as minor as a tiny alteration to the name of a class (“the class that teacher taught is no longer offered at our university, so his/her services are no longer required”) so it seems to me that universities could still get rid of someone quite easily if they wanted to.

I think that in a perverse way, the situation will only become clear when the first person takes their institution to court. If / when that happens, all the other institutions will panic and there will be a huge cull. If it never happens, I guess universities will gradually forget about it. As I say, I am most certainly not an expert on this, but this is the situation as it was explained to me by the people in charge at my university. Sincerely, GH

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Date: April 15, 2016
From: AB

To: ARUDOU, Debito

Hello Debito san,

Maybe you remember our recent exchange in an e-mail saying I was working on my own writing chops to add to the ‘Great Dialog’ of culture … what it means to be a human, what do we mean by ‘education’, and so on. I have been doing so on Quora, and many times, have posted links to your web page to substantiate my more anecdotal arguments. I am grateful for your critical eye and sheer doggedness in providing a much needed source of information that deserves a wider audience.

I am now 60, and apparently locked out of a career track in academia … failing to gain even one koma of part-time work after two years of submitting resumes and showing up for interviews, failing to gain permission to resume doctoral studies at XXXX Japan, and even failing to gain admission to an on-line Master’s Degree course at XXXXXXXX University in the US. As such, I do not have the financial safety-net of any institution at my disposal, and neither do I have the presumption that I will some day regain such institutional protection. And being kanji illiterate, I don’t even know how much I don’t know about Japanese law and what obligations and rights to which I am entitled (similar to my being kept running circles in the dark at HBJC Inc.). Feeling the full force of the Dunning-Kruger effect here.

Despite an abundance of information from your website (and book – bought, but not yet read), and some well-considered and well-meant advice from listserv members, Facebook ‘buddies’, Quora, and even family back in the states … my day to day survival, even my sanity, is sustained by only three things:

1 – A small community made up primarily of a close circle of friends, mostly Japanese — and mostly here in Japan. I think the constraints of Dunbar’s Number has more than a little to do with this.

2 – The new found leisure to read from the great works of the liberal arts tradition as well as more recent STEM oriented material … and write — as therapy. It helps to have at my disposal more than a lifetime’s worth of books, music, movies, and a wall full of video lectures from The Great Courses series.

3 – A stubborn tenacity to stand by the values and beliefs I have gained from the above two.

Kind regards, Debito san. And keep up the good fight.  Sincerely, AB.

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

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GOJ busybodies hard at work alienating: Shinjuku Foreign Residents Manual assumes NJ criminal tendencies; Kyoto public notices “cultivate foreign tourist manners”

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. Despite all the campaigns to increase foreign tourism and “prepare” Japanese society for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, sometimes Debito.org feels like suggesting people just avoid Japan’s sweaty-headed public-servant busybodies, who spend our tax monies to further alienate NJ residents and tourists from the rest of Japanese society. Check these out:

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March 17, 2016
From: “Concerned Long-Time NJ Resident”
Dear Dr. Arudou,

Here is the full “Shinjuku Foreign Residents” guide available online.

In English: http://www.seisyounen-chian.metro.tokyo.jp/about/pdf/poster-leafret/frm-english.pdf

In case it disappears: ShinjukuForeignResidentManual2016

In Japanese (which was not available at the kuyakusho office, only foreign language versions were there): http://www.seisyounen-chian.metro.tokyo.jp/about/pdf/poster-leafret/frm-japanese.pdf

In case it disappears:ShinjukuForeignResidentManualJ2016

Some screen captures follow.  Here is the cover and back cover:

ShinjukuForeignResidentManual20161

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Note how this is a guide designed to “avoid getting caught up in criminal activity” (yes, hanzai in the original Japanese).  Yet look at the first four pages within.  Find the crimes:

ShinjukuForeignResidents20162

Right.  That age-old canard about foreign residents being mentally incapable of throwing away their garbage correctly.  I can think of plenty of Japanese I’ve seen having the same trouble, only without being accused of “criminal” activity.  And it’s not a crime anyway.  Nor are these activities:

ShinjukuForeignResidents20163

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  I’m quite sure the police will respond.  But not because they received a complaint about the Japanese in my neighborhood I’ve experienced that hoard, are untidy, or are noisy at inopportune times.  Rather, police will respond because they got tipped off by some busybody claiming a foreigner was “suspicious” (grounds for arrest in Japan if you’re suspicious while foreign-looking), which is something this manual can’t caution against.

And how about this one:

ShinjukuForeignResidents20164

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Crikey.  This manual should be distributed to Japanese!  Flagrant rule-breakers on a regular basis there! But Japanese, not foreigners, aren’t assumed to be criminal, because Japan, runs the narrative, is a peaceful, safe, law-abiding society, whereas foreign countries, and their foreigners, by definition, are not, because we Japanese are different and unique and… oh, you get the idea.

Anyway, here’s what submitter “Concerned Long-Time NJ Resident” had to say about this manual:

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

This guide still has me angry that this sort of view of “foreigners” is still persisting—maybe even growing—as the Olympics approach; worse, it is being promoted by a government agency. I have been stopped by the Japanese police many times (for no reason other than being “foreign-looking”) and treated like a criminal when I simply pass through the train station, and I’ve seen similar treatment at the station of other “foreigners.” So after those experiences, pamphlets like this that further the view of non-Japanese in Japan as criminal-prone imbeciles really rub me the wrong way. There are plenty of guides for residents of Japan that do NOT take this approach with non-Japanese residents when explaining laws and helpful services that have been translated to other languages.

I have already called and complained to the organization that put this guide out and the kuyakusho office as well. Thank you for giving a voice against such issues when so few in Japan even speak up for the rights of non-Japanese residents (and Japanese too) in Japan. It is greatly appreciated. As for credit, just leave out my name and say it was from “a concerned long-time non-Japanese resident” of Japan. I’m most concerned about the issue rather than any credit, plus I don’t need to be harassed by any rightwing nuts.

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Meanwhile, it’s not just Shinjuku.  The Yomiuri reports on NJ-targeting busybodies elsewhere:

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

From:  JK
Date:  May 12, 2016
Hi Debito: This was a new one for me:

Picture signboards to cultivate manners of foreign tourists
The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 11, 2016
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002901542

TokyoMannersSign2016

A signboard set up until early April on a path along the Chidorigafuchi moat in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

With breaches of etiquette by foreign tourists becoming a problem in tourist spots nationwide, local communities are using signboards featuring illustrations, pictograms and manga to inform visitors of how best to behave.

These moves are aimed at helping foreign tourists understand Japanese etiquette and rules, in order to prevent such trouble, but some are concerned that the signs could spoil the scenery at tourist spots.

In three locations that are good for viewing cherry blossoms in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, including the Chidorigafuchi moat, signboards were set up this spring for the first time, urging visitors not to break cherry tree branches. Explanations were written in English, Chinese and Korean with a pictogram of a hand trying to hold a tree branch and a line through it.

According to the Chiyoda City Tourism Association, which set up the signboards, it had received complaints from a large number of nearby local residents and Japanese tourists that foreign tourists were breaking the branches of cherry trees. To inform them in an easy-to-understand way that this is a breach of local mores, the association decided to include the illustration on the warning signboards.

Some signboards explain etiquette using manga. Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, set them up in February in a parking area for large buses near the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine.

Sets of four-frame cartoons warn visitors not to enter the premises to take memorial photos and explain how to use Japanese-style toilets. About 2,000 tourists arrive daily at the parking area. Many of them are with group tours from Asian countries, Europe and the United States.

An official of the ward office expects the signboards to be effective, saying, “We hope visitors will understand the proper etiquette while they’re in the parking area and then go on to enjoy their visit.”

In 2015, the number of foreign tourists to Japan hit a record high of 19.73 million.
The Cabinet Office conducted a survey of 3,000 Japanese nationals nationwide in August last year about the situation involving foreign tourists.

With multiple answers allowed regarding things people are worried about as the number of foreign tourists increases, 26 percent of respondents cited growing trouble due to differences in etiquette, cultures and customs. This figure was the second highest after the 30 percent who mentioned security issues.

Match signs to surroundings

Signboards were set up to avoid such trouble, but the signs themselves have also caused concern.

Kyoto’s Gion district is lined by many ochaya tea houses and ryotei Japanese restaurants, and Gionmachi Minamigawa Chiku Kyogikai, an association of local residents in the southern part of the Gion district, set up wooden signboards about two meters tall at four locations there in December last year.

KyotoMannersSignboard2016

Pictograms and X marks are used instead of letters. They warn against six kinds of prohibited actions, including pulling on the kimono sleeves of maiko and leaning against or sitting on fences.

However, the district is designated by the Kyoto city government as a zone for the maintenance and improvement of historical scenic beauty.

A senior member of the local association said, “We didn’t want to set up the signboards because they impair the scenic beauty, but we could not overlook the breaches of etiquette.”

Seiko Ikeda, a specially assigned professor at St. Agnes’ University, who is studying relations between scenic beauty and signboards in tourist spots, said, “Although I understand the feelings of local residents, I feel uncomfortable about such signboards.”

She added: “Also, in the context of hospitality for foreign tourists, more comprehensive consideration is necessary. For example, such signboards should not bear pictures or designs with aggressive images, and they should harmonize with the surrounding scenery.”

Nobuko Akashi, president of the Japan Manner and Protocol Association, a nonprofit organization that recommends other measures than signboards, said, “Steady efforts are essential, such as thoroughly notifying visitors about etiquette and rules before they come to Japan via information websites for overseas.”

ENDS

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SUBMITTER JK COMMENTS: All these foreigners keep causing meiwaku because they don’t have proper manners or etiquette,  so while we didn’t want to spoil the view, we couldn’t gaman anymore and put up signboards telling them what not to do. Perhaps if we nix the pictures and blend the signboards into the surrounding scenery, the view wouldn’t be so spoilt.

My problem with “helping foreign tourists understand Japanese etiquette and rules” is two-fold.

First, it knows no bounds (e.g. Don’t break the branches, and while you’re at it, don’t pull on the kimono sleeves of maiko or lean against or sit on fences).

Second, it’s decidedly one-sided mindset (e.g. Do the local residents understand why the cherry tree branches are being broken? Is it unintentional or unintentional? Do foreign tourists dislike cherry tree branches?).  Regards, JK

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CONCLUDING WORD FROM DEBITO:  I understand full well the need for cautioning people when tourists, or anyone, are disrespectful towards local sights and environments.  But creating reactionary media that stigmatizes foreigners as if they are natural-born criminals or incorrigible rule-breakers (i.e., naturally unable to follow rules because they are foreigners) is equally disrespectful.  Care must be taken and tact used to avoid belittling guests, not to mention alienating NJ residents, and busybodies who get paranoid about any strangers darkening their doorsteps must not have free rein to overthink countermeasures (for it soon becomes an invitation to xenophobia).

How about the government or these self-appointed local “manner and protocol associations” quietly advising tour agencies to rein in their patrons, and make the rules clear, as Japanese tour agencies do for Japanese abroad?  It worked in the Otaru Onsens Case.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Reuters: Japan eyes more foreign workers, stealthily challenging immigration taboo

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Hi Blog.  Here’s an article talking about policy shift towards Japan’s immigration policy in all but name.  It’s still something in the pipeline with policy trial balloons (and the obligatory caution about how foreigners pose a “public safety” risk), so Debito.org is not heralding any sea changes.  Plus the reporters severely undermine the credibility of their article by citing their hairdresser as a source!  Ignore that bad science and let’s focus upon the current debate in stasis.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Japan eyes more foreign workers, stealthily challenging immigration taboo
By Linda Sieg and Ami Miyazaki
Reuters, April 25, 2016, Courtesy of MS
https://www.yahoo.com/news/japan-eyes-more-foreign-workers-stealthily-challenging-immigration-032238719–business.html?nhp=1

TOKYO (Reuters) – Desperately seeking an antidote to a rapidly aging population, Japanese policymakers are exploring ways to bring in more foreign workers without calling it an “immigration policy”.

Immigration is a touchy subject in a land where conservatives prize cultural homogeneity and politicians fear losing votes from workers worried about losing jobs.

But a tight labor market and ever-shrinking work force are making Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policy team and lawmakers consider the politically controversial option.

Signaling the shift, leading members of a ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) panel on Tuesday proposed expanding the types of jobs open to foreign workers, and double their numbers from current levels of close to 1 million.

“Domestically, there is a big allergy. As a politician, one must be aware of that,” Takeshi Noda, an adviser to the LDP panel, told Reuters in an interview.

Unlike the United States, where Donald Trump has made immigration an election issue, Japan has little history of immigration. But, that makes ethnic and cultural diversity seem more of a threat in Japan than it may seem elsewhere.

And while Japan is not caught up in the mass migration crisis afflicting Europe, the controversies in other regions do color the way Japanese think about immigration.

LDP lawmakers floated immigration proposals almost a decade ago, but those came to naught. Since then, however, labor shortages have worsened and demographic forecasts have become more dire.

BY ANY OTHER NAME

An economic uptick since Abe took office in December 2012, rebuilding after the 2011 tsunami and a construction boom ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have pushed labor demand to its highest in 24 years.

That has helped boost foreign worker numbers by 40 percent since 2013, with Chinese accounting for more than one-third followed by Vietnamese, Filipinos and Brazilians.

But visa conditions largely barring unskilled workers mean foreigners still make up only about 1.4 percent of the workforce, compared with the 5 percent or more found – according to IMF estimates – in most advanced economies.

So far, measures to attract more foreign workers have focused on easing entry for highly skilled professionals and expanding a “trainee” system that was designed to share technology with developing countries, but which critics say has become a backdoor source of cheap labor.

This time, the LDP panel leaders’ proposal went further, suggesting foreigners be accepted in other sectors facing shortages, such as nursing and farming – initially for five years with visa renewal possible.

They also proposed creating a framework whereby the number of foreign workers would be doubled from around 908,000 currently, and the term “unskilled labor” would be abandoned.

In a sign of the sensitivies, however – especially ahead of a July upper house election – panel chief Yoshio Kimura stressed the proposal should not be misconstrued as an “immigration policy” and said steps were needed to offset any negative impact on jobs and public safety.

After a heated debate in which one lawmaker said the plan would “leave Japan in tatters”, members agreed to let the panel organizers decide whether to make any revisions to the proposal.

Experts, however, say changes are afoot regardless of the semantics.

“The government insists it is not adopting an immigration policy, but whatever the word, faced with a shrinking population, it is changing its former stance and has begun to move toward a real immigration policy,” said Hidenori Sakanaka, a former Tokyo Immigration Bureau chief.

Two cabinet members have already advocated adopting an immigration policy, as have some LDP panel members.

“The fundamental problem of the Japanese economy is that the potential growth rate is low,” LDP panel adviser Seiichiro Murakami told Reuters. “To raise that, big structural reforms including … immigration policy are necessary.”

The influential Nikkei Business weekly has dubbed a foreign worker-driven growth strategy “imin-omics”, a pun on the premier’s “Abenomics” revival plan and “imin”, the Japanese word for “immigrants”.

Abe, however, has made drawing more women and elderly into the work force while boosting the birth rate priorities, and publicly the government rules out any “immigration policy”.

Still, Abe’s right-hand man, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said debate on more foreign workers lay ahead.

“We are seeking to mobilize the power of women and the elderly as much as possible, but at the same time we recognize that the acceptance of foreigners is a major issue,” Suga told Reuters.

He said the future debate would also consider the longer term issue of permanent residence for less skilled foreigners, but added caution was needed.

Conservatives are likely to resist major change.

For example, an ex-labor minister commenting at the LDP panel earlier on a proposal to let in foreign beauticians said the idea was fine, as long as their customers were foreign, too.

But hairdresser Mitsuo Igarashi, who has four barber chairs in his downtown Tokyo barbershop but only himself to clip and shave, wants to hire other barbers and doesn’t care where they come from. “We’ve got to let in more foreigners,” said Igarashi.
ENDS

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

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Nate Nossal essay on how free enterprise and small-business establishment in Japan is stifled

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Hi Blog.  As Debito.org is a forum for voices that might not otherwise be heard, let me turn the keyboard to Debito.org Reader Nate Nossal, who shares his experiences at being an entrepreneur in Japan.  As somebody who has also done the arduous task of founding his own company in Japan, I am simpatico.  Over to Nate.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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JAPAN: A COUNTRY LARGELY OPPOSED TO FREE ENTERPRISE
By Nate Dossal Ph.D., Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan
Exclusive to Debito.org, March 25, 2016

Japan is a country which is largely opposed to free enterprise. As one who has studied economics and subscribes to the notion that the ability for individuals to do business is integral to a society’s wealth and commerce, as well as that society’s ability to solve problems generally, I find this condition amusingly shortsighted. As one who is living in and attempting to do business in Japan I find this condition depressing. After all, what is it that individuals can do best as entrepreneurs? We stand to make money by solving problems for other people. I will discuss some extraordinary barriers to business created by just a few layers of legal or bureaucratic excess which discourage or disable free enterprise in two examples of personal experience. It is assumed that there is some reason that people have gone through such troubles to erect these legal barriers, and I can only speculate what some of those possible reasons might be. On the microeconomic level, the effects of the clearly anti-business atmosphere created by those specific barriers are devastating. Businesses which could and should be thriving, multiplying, growing, and revolving multiples of yen back out into the local economy are stopped dead. Theoretically, all money gets spent somewhere, but inevitably some of that money which would have been spent in the local Ishikawa ken economy (where these stories take place) gets saved, sent away, or spent elsewhere and the greater Ishikawa ken economy suffers for this.

Case 1: Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) Souvenir Goods classic failure of lost opportunities on several levels… This writer did soon after beginning his graduate studies in a national Japanese university discover that something was missing. Despite searching high and low throughout the dingy offices and one store on campus, there was a peculiar, complete absence of any commercially available souvenir goods from that university. Not a shirt, not a cap, a notebook or a pencil with “JAIST” written on it was for sale. It was especially noticeable just for one very personal reason: I wanted to be able to send my dad in the U.S. a t-shirt. I always sent him a t-shirt from the companies or the universities of which I became a member. Indeed, this may seem very peculiar to any person who may have ever worked in the marketing office of any-sized university. The sale of such school “pride” items can be profitable in itself, but at any rate is costless to the university, even after taking into account the price of design and production, maintaining stock and administration for the sale of goods. Even a small market makes up for all of this since the target market is highly invested in the product, the supplier is decidedly monopolistic by nature, and the turnover from new staff and students assures some consistent demand for the products. All of that is of course aside from the main point–schools need name recognition and the sale of pride products is a major source of free advertising in this aspect.

As a graduate student I mistakenly saw this as a great opportunity to accomplish three related good deeds, and get a JAIST golf shirt made for my dad too: I would design and have produced several items that would surely be of interest to students and staff of the university, market and sell them–which would satisfy that same demand which I myself sensed. With no commitment from or involvement of the university required at all, except for their permission to do so, I could single-handedly increase my university’s name recognition in the community, and presumably around the world to some small degree. Finally, I could make some small profit as a reward for my efforts, which I would surely need to help support my research and living expenses. This was to be a slam-dunk. A no-brainer. BANG! What a bonanza, I thought. I engaged the staff I knew in this conversation, and a meeting was arranged for me to discuss this radical new idea being offered to them free of charge. I spent a couple of days researching suppliers for this kind of goods, and had some mock-ups of the proposed goods made, which I included with a bi-lingual proposal for a license to use the university’s existing logo and images. Six men and women came to hear my awkwardly foreign Japanese presentation, but they were all visibly impressed. At the end I was told that although no firm decision could be made by such a group of self-described office functionaries, they assumed that the benefits I was offering, and the price I was asking (zero) would make it a good idea for the university. Mere days later, I received an email from one of the lowest level office workers that the vice president of the university said “no.” I would be better off focusing my energies on my research rather than trying to help them solve the problems of the university.

After also having noticed that no student council had existed, three years later, I established one with the political assistance of my professor. Among the many reasons for establishing a student council, one of them would be to re-assess this weird lack of JAIST shirts and coffee mugs. The road to market was a barrage of nay-naying from surprising sources: a very provincial type woman belonging to the management of the single university store deigned to meet with me to discuss the possible placement of our Student Council brand official JAIST Goods in the store. I was expecting some discussion of division of profits and liabilities, a contract, some discussion of their standard business practices and process, maybe the need for some assurances or money. The first thing this lady said to me though was, irrelevantly enough, that she didn’t think Japanese students would buy those goods. In fact they did buy, and large quantities of goods were requested. Orders from Japanese professors and administrators of 20 and 100 came. The university president (Japanese, of course) wanted a golf shirt, a cap and a mug. But none of this would be made available with any help or assistance from the university store, or the university itself whatsoever. In fact, the Council received a threatening email from someone in the “labor management section” about infringing on the JAIST copyright. That person had been alerted to our proposed activities by none other than the anti-business store manager! Is it possible? That people would be so steadfastly in opposition to me making a few hundred yen while serving their own needs? Anyway, we enlisted the student body in a competition to design our own logo, to avoid any trouble with the now rabidly anti-business office staff. Even still, we received truly unending innocuous-seeming requests for increasingly invasive information (including financial information of the proposed private business, the names, contact information and prices of my suppliers, and my own personal financial information) from the office of student affairs apparently aimed at infringing upon or discouraging our entrepreneurship. It seems the university office workers were quite keen on ensuring that no student ever makes any kind of profit from any kind of sales of any kind of product on any national university grounds…Like, it was more abhorrent to them than the thought of consuming cherry vodka fanny bangers at a faculty disciplinary hearing. In the end, even our advisor and protector, the Dean of the school was disparaged, and we were kindly requested NOT to attempt to address this problem of no-JAIST-goods for them anymore. It was a mixed success: We managed to design, produce, market and distribute exactly one cycle of a much desired product, and I broke even on the venture. It would be the last time ever for this want-to-be capitalist at that institution, however. That was fine, anyway I would graduate soon and had bigger ideas to entertain.

Case 2: A friend of mine, a German pilot and safety officer for EU pilots would fly into Komatsu International Airport a couple times of year and stay for two or four days while his plane was prepared to fly again. During those days, he complained, he would have nothing much to do except hang around his hotel room, roam the streets in search of any intelligible (English) communication and inevitably drink copious quantities of hotel bar alcohol. What he and his company needed was some local person who could provide the kind of guidance I could give, and take the pilots to the beach or the mountains, maybe offer a bicycle rental. In fact though, it wasn’t just the pilots flying in and out of Komatsu. Since Kanazawa opened up its first Shinkansen train line last year, literally thousands of foreign, mostly non-Japanese speaking, illiterate and largely lost and out-of-place tourists have been wandering through the well-preserved feudal-era narrow streets of this place. I know this is true because I routinely hear the laments of my Kanazawa Hotel and Inn Association English students–they are so busy now; their rooms are always full; they need more staff; they need to hurry up and try to learn more English to cope with the many language problems that have resulted. The real test though is the Starbucks test. Not the economic barometer of disposable income, but this: ten years ago, it was often possible, but not at all guaranteed to encounter even one other foreigner at Starbucks. This year, Kanazawa Station Starbucks and M-za Starbucks are packed almost exclusively with foreign clientele of European descent. I am sure that none of these people live here, either. They’re all carrying cameras and backpacks, and most are of retirement age. These people desperately need no-nonsense, English speaking tour guides, and I am willing to bet that many of them would be happy to pay money for that privilege.

Over the last several months, I carefully developed a website to address this need and to help to those tourists who may want a little more help to navigate this unforgivingly non-English speaking corner of the north. They could also use my help parting with some of their much-needed money while they are temporary participants in this local economy. To do that, I need only impart a sliver of the bounty of knowledge of this place which I have amassed in 13 years of research, learning and teaching. They also need transportation, some equipment in case of going kayaking, skiing, or mountain climbing, for example, and of course oodles of accident and life insurance. I expected that much. What I didn’t expect was this: about the time I was really feeling ready, in fact overdue to launch that exact business, I was sternly warned by my wife who informed me of recent news reports of Chinese nationals in the Tokyo area who were arrested for operating a similar-type business without a license. While living in a country where I am aware that a license for serving tea exists, it quite honestly never for a moment occurred to me (or maybe to those Chinese business operators) that I could need a license to show people around my hometown. After being juggled around on the phone between several Japan legalese-only speaking tourism offices, I dutifully arranged an in-person meeting with my prefectural travel and tourism bureau.

I was welcomed by the panel of three officers–two from tourism and one from legal. The three were not personally difficult or offensive in any way. They even apologized for the fact that none of the the three of them, and no one in the national tourism offices ANTA and JATA could speak English. Pretty soon though, the air sucking through teeth began. “Mmmm, muzukashii…” That is the beginning of almost every un-scripted conversation foreigners have with Japanese standing behind a service counter. It is the calm but firm discouragement I suffer at every mention of trying to improve my station, assume a level-appropriate role in almost anything, or help to fix even the most obvious of problems. “It would be easier if you had a Japanese partner,” one said bluntly. I told him that while I appreciated his suggestion, I came to get the information on doing it myself, or with my wife. “Umm…” he stammered until the lawyer could help out “Well your wife has a job,” the lawyer said, “so it would be against her working conditions to engage in any outside business activity.” Which although it is true enough, if completely aside from the point. Let me tell this to you straight: after 13 years of working in Japanese schools and companies, there is no possibility of me having an equal partner. No matter what I do or how good I may be, I will always be held in lower regard than, and held back by my Japanese counterpart. They nodded in apparent understanding without need for example, and bit by bit laid out the separate processes as best as they themselves understood them. If I could do it, they said, I would be a pioneer.

The news they had for me was not good: I need not merely to prove my financial worthiness to the state and present insurance certificates. I need to pass a national test for a travel agency. It’s only offered in Japanese of course, and full of Japanese legal jargon. Maybe I can get some help for this, but the test is offered only once per year! Once. That’s pretty bad. On top of that, if I am actually thinking of transporting people in my car (um, I thought that was what cars were FOR) then I can’t do that with just a regular passenger car license. I need a taxi driver’s license, which the tourism agency told me would be practically impossible for (a foreigner) to accomplish. “Oh, so all of those hotel van drivers have taxi licenses?” I asked. The panel of three gave each other those uncomfortable Japanese glances and the lawyer said no, that was different. Be that as it may, I thought how this touches directly on another issue, Japan’s reinterpretation of the Geneva Convention covering international driving privileges. I had a commercial 10 ton license with air brakes certification, and the chauffeur and taxi license when I came here, but I just didn’t have the extraordinary resources of time required for transferring all those licenses and testing and re-testing individually for each one of them after all I went through just to get my regular car and motorcycle licenses back. OK, so in order to take foreign people to the beach and get paid for it, I need a travel agent’s license and a taxi driver’s license, and I need to register my business (no kidding, a 14 part process) which includes depositing no less than 100,000 yen (about $9,000) cash with the Japanese government, presumably interest free, or maybe with negative interest. I also need to show and maintain a similar balance in my company account. No doubt, this is an extraordinary, if not cock-blockingly prohibitive set of artificial barriers to free enterprise. Some of this is understandable, as I said. Companies need insurance. If I were in a position to do harm to the environment or local population, some financial assurances (though probably not a “deposit” like as with some shyster landlord) would be expected. On top of all this, though, and I really don’t think I could ever invest 200,000 yen in licensure before ever even getting a company started to be honest, but on top of all this, at the end of my meeting in the Ishikawa ken cho I was asked in all seriousness where my office would be located. This is significant, the lawyer said, because for the lowest level of licensure (the 200,000 yen one) I could only do business within one municipality’s distance from my home office. After going the processes outlined already, and they are extreme, I would get a license that wouldn’t even include Kanazawa. The license for the type of small business I envisioned requires an 18 million yen commitment.

I go deadpan. I search in vain for the hidden cameras, wait hopelessly for the comedian in the yellow suit and giant bow tie to jump out laughing. This is real though. This is the anti-business environment they have created. It kills any small businesses before they could ever get started, and for what? What does all this process and licensure get for Japan? A few badly-needed interest-free loans? Probably that is an emergency of their own making. Is it enough to make up for the multiplied effects of dampening the business spirit? John Maynard Keynes wouldn’t say so. Does it prevent ill-intentioned or unqualified players from entering the market? Surely it must, since this condition would seem to prevent MOST players, qualified or not from entering the economy. With my PhD, my Global Human Resources doctoral certificate, and my advanced Japanese credential from a national university, as well as years of volunteer and professional service in the field which I would like to work independently, probably no one would say I am at all unqualified to take foreigners on local side trips, even for money.

I am not saying I was singled-out or unfairly discriminated against for being a foreigner necessarily. While this is a positively horrible set of conditions, and terrible treatment of a prospective entrepreneur who should be met with open arms, Japanese law and government treats its own citizens just as badly. The outright hostility of the Japanese government towards small businesses like these assure larger market share to larger entities–or else they just assure that some markets will simply never be, for lack of active, qualified and viable suppliers. The people at my former university will continue to want, and not get university logo-emblazoned items to send back home. The local citizens will continue not knowing what JAIST is, or even that it exists at all–possibly the most hilarious marketing failure in the country. And foreign tourists will sip a few coffees and walk themselves around downtown for a day or two and go on to Kyoto or home. Many of them will say how wonderful and enigmatic that dusty old Kanazawa town was, but it might be better. If they could have had a locally-educated English speaking guide to show them the most beautiful and meaningful places in the Ishikawa countryside, I would at a minimum explain the history of the Farmers’ Rebellion, the importance of the Shirayama Hime Jinja, Bassho’s passage, or the City of Temples. They also would be sure to spend more money while they were here, and that money could support not only me and my family, but the people I would have employed in the company that I fear now will never be.

-Nate Nossal Ph.D., Ishikawa Prefecture

ENDS

Stigmatization thru “foreign driver stickers”: First Okinawa, now Hokkaido (Mainichi Shinbun)

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Hi Blog.  Check this out:
Hokkaido creates car stickers for foreign rent-a-car drivers
April 16, 2016 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160416/p2a/00m/0na/005000c

HokkaidoForeignDriverSticker2016
A sticker for foreign people using rent-a-cars, created by the Hokkaido Prefectural Government. (Mainichi)

The Hokkaido Prefectural Government has prepared 2,500 stickers for use by foreigners driving rent-a-cars, in order to identify them to other drivers and prepare against on-the-road trouble.

The stickers, which read “A person from a foreign country is driving,” were distributed to rent-a-car companies in Hokkaido. In fiscal 2014, around 24,000 rent-a-cars were used by foreign tourists, around 14,000 more than in fiscal 2012. Accidents and driver arguments are expected, so the stickers were created to warn other drivers, similar to stickers for new drivers.

The magnetic stickers are 14.5 centimeters square and carry Hokkaido’s tourism character “Kyun-chan,” a Japanese pika. A prefectural government official says, “When people see (a car with the sticker), we want them to act kindly.”
ENDS

Japanese version
外国人観光客
レンタカー利用でステッカー 北海道
毎日新聞2016年4月7日 20時01分(最終更新 4月7日 22時35分)
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20160408/k00/00m/040/051000c

外国人運転の車に配慮してもらおうと、北海道は、「外国の方が運転しています」とメッセージを記載したマグネット式ステッカー2500枚を作製し、道内レンタカー会社に配布した。

外国人観光客のレンタカー利用は2014年度で約2万4000台に上り、12年度より約1万4000台増。事故やトラブルも予想され、初心運転者向けの「若葉マーク」のようにアピールすることにした。

ステッカーは14.5センチ四方で、北海道観光のPRキャラクター「キュンちゃん」(エゾナキウサギ)のイラスト入り。担当者は「うさぎを見たら、温かく見守ってほしい」。【一條優太】
ENDS

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

SUBMITTER JK COMMENTS:  Hi Debito.  “Friendly Driving”…um…right…more like 注意:外人の運転手だよ!

I wonder how MOFA would react if, oh I dunno, rent-a-car companies in Hawaii started issuing stickers for Japanese drivers stating “A person from Japan is driving”, in order to “identify them to other drivers and prepare against on-the-road trouble” because after all, “accidents and driver arguments are expected”.

DEBITO COMMENTS:  It would seem that the Japanese reflex of pointing out differences over similarities (a byproduct of the quest to keep Japan “unique” in the world narrative) has created perennial blind spots towards the effects of “stigmatization”.  That is to say, if you keep pointing out how different a group of people is (in this case, “foreign drivers”, even if you say you are doing it “out of kindness”), it still differentiates and “others” people — with the inevitable subordinating presumption that foreign drivers are somehow more prone to accidents, need to be taken notice of, or treated with special care.  Why else would the public be notified (if not warned) that a foreign driver is present?

Shoe on the other foot:  How would people like it if females behind the wheel had to bear a “women driver” sticker?  What if the “foreign driver” (for example, somebody who has been driving in Japan not as a tourist for years, or on the British side of the road the same as Japan?) would rather opt out of all the special attention?  And what of the Japanese tourists from the metropolises who are “paper drivers” and probably have much less road experience than average compared to any motorized society in the world?  Let’s see how a “tourist driver” sticker (slapped on Japanese drivers too) would fare.

This sticker is, to put it bluntly in Japanese, 有り難迷惑 (arigata meiwaku), or “kindness” to the point of being a nuisance.   And it is not even the first “foreign driver” sticker Debito.org has heard of — last October we reported on similar stickers in Okinawa with the same purpose:

OkinawaGaikokujinDriverstickerOct2015

For more on Japan’s poor history of stigmatization of “foreigners” in the name of “kindness”, see Embedded Racism pp. 21-8, 94, and 281-282.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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Out in Paperback: Textbook “Embedded Racism” (Lexington Books) July 2016 in time for Fall Semester classes: $49.99

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embeddedracismcover
Hi Blog. I just received word from my publisher that “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books / Rowman & Littlefield 2016) will also be released as a paperback version in July/August 2016.

This is good news. Usually when an academic book comes out in hardcover, the paperback version is not released for a year or two in order not to affect sales of the hardcover. (The hardcover is, generally, intended for libraries and must-have buyers).

However, sales of the hardcover have been so strong that the publisher anticipates this book will continue to sell well in both versions.

So, just in time for Fall Semester 2016, “Embedded Racism” will be coming out over the summer for university classes, with an affordable price of $49.99 (a competitive price for a 378-page textbook, less than half the price of the hardcover).

Please consider getting the book for your class and/or adding the book to your library! Academics may inquire via https://rowman.com/Page/Professors about the availability of review copies and ebooks.

Full details of the book, including summary, Table of Contents, and reviews here.

Hardcover version: November 2015 (North America, Latin America, Australia, and Japan), January 2016 (UK, Europe, rest of Asia, South America, and Africa), 378 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4985-1390-6
eBook: 978-1-4985-1391-3
Subjects: Social Science / Discrimination & Race Relations, Social Science / Ethnic Studies / General, Social Science / Minority Studies, Social Science / Sociology / General

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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

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Hi Blog. Once again hosting an international event brings out the worst excesses of Japan’s attitudes towards the outside world. Mutou Toshio, CEO of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and a former deputy governor of the Bank of Japan, talked to The Japan Times about Japan’s superiority to Rio 2016 in broad, arrogant strokes.

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

Some highlights:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tangent: Terrie Lloyd on why Abenomics is a “failure”: lack of essential structural reforms

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(If you’re looking for an April Fools entry on Debito.org, check out this one from six years ago.)

Hi Blog. Terrie Lloyd offers his perspective on why Abenomics is faltering: Pandering (as the LDP has always done) to special interests, and ignoring the necessary structural reforms (including, he rightfully mentions, a proper immigration policy). Although talking about economies and effective economic policy is a very inexact science, this article is good food for thought and rings true, especially the conclusion about the incentives towards military adventurism. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

* * * * * * * * TERRIE’S TAKE – BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd, a long-term technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan. (http://www.terrielloyd.com)

General Edition Sunday, March 20, 2016, Issue No. 843

– What’s New — How the Failure of Abenomics Leads to the Record Sales of Safes

SUBSCRIBE to, UNSUBSCRIBE from Terrie’s Take at: http://mailman.japaninc.com/mailman/listinfo/terrie

BACK ISSUES
http://www.japaninc.com/terries_take, or, http://mailman.japaninc.com/pipermail/terrie/

+++ WHAT’S NEW

After a strong start last year, the ruling LDP government seemed genuinely perplexed when at the end of the year the nation’s annual Real GDP was found to be just 0.5% and for the last quarter a problematic -0.3%. The government’s leadership continue have their collective heads buried in the sand by blaming an unusually warm winter and other external factors for the anemic performance. You kind of feel sorry for them. After all, they have done everything by the textbook (well, the Keynesian textbook, anyway), by expanding the nation’s money supply aggressively, and by implementing various stimulus packages.

But unfortunately Mr. Abe’s crew seem to have forgotten one small thing, they need the public to respond to their pump-priming (the whole point of Keynesian policies), and this means being seen to be making real regulatory reforms for the future, not just recirculating cash among vested interests. Abe needs to make good on his promised third arrow – slashing business regulations and encouraging innovation, liberalizing the labor market, getting tough with the agricultural sector, cutting corporate taxes, and increasing workforce diversity through immigration and improved support of working mothers.

But instead the reverse is happening. For example, if you look at the 2015 statistics for Japan, the allocation of funds for development/promotion of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), the drivers of employment and economic growth in any country, fell from JPY825bn in 2012 to just JPY186bn last year. At the same time, the government spent JPY1.042trn (six times as much) on “stable food supply”, a code for rice farmer subsidies. In other words, it’s business for the vested interests as usual.

And now with the Bank of Japan moving to impose negative interest rates on retail banks so as to force them to start investing their cash instead of parking it, we can all see that the Bank of Japan’s policy makers are running out of ammunition. This means that Abe’s politicians either need to do their share of heavy lifting by implementing reforms or the economy will be pretty much driven by external influences. Right now, those influences are driving the yen back to 100 to the US dollar, and will undo any of the benefits achieved over the last 3 years.

For the rest of us, this means that sectors that have been enjoying increased business because of the cheap yen will see a reversal of fortunes, including the exports, international recruiting, inbound tourism, and banking/investment (i.e., a slow down in the repatriation of overseas earnings by Japan-based parent companies). At least overseas trips and food imports will get cheaper, though… 😉

The media is full of articles speculating as to why Abenomics is not working, and certainly international pressures are one cause. But we don’t think they are the root cause. For that, you need to look at WHY the Japanese public and its corporations are so reluctant to take a risk and spend some of their hoarded cash. Our take is that the malaise is caused by one simple thing: a lack of trust in the government and its policies.

Without trust that there will be innovation and growth, the leadership of big companies see their current record earnings as temporary and don’t want to share them with employees. The employees themselves hold off on spending, thus strangling the birthrate, car ownership, stock market shares, travel, and advanced education. As an end-game the public starts pulling cash out of the system and stashes it literally under the mattress or in safes at home.

This is no joke and the situation is prompting all kinds of abnormal (but perfectly logical) behavior by the public. For example, there has been a surge in cash hoardings, with an extra 6.2% ten thousand yen bills going into circulation last year, the highest jump in demand since 2002. This means that there is now totally about JPY100trn (US$890bn) of cash in circulation, around 20% of the total economy. And to hold all that cash, there has also been a run on home safes, with sales soaring 60% to 70% above last year.

It’s ironic that even as consumers distrust the government, they still trust it to honor the bills it issues.

Well, not everyone trusts the government to honor its paper and as the Japanese are generally well educated there is a growing segment of the community that is starting to buy gold. The price of gold bars has risen to JPY5,027/gram and demand in 2015 was up a whopping 70%, from 17.9 metric tons in 2014 to 32.8 tons in 2015. This makes Japan the seventh largest consumer of gold in Asia, even though as a nation they don’t really have a recent gold culture like the Chinese and Indians do. At this rate, Japanese consumers will spend about JPY300bn in 2016 just on gold.

So what is the government to do with this seemingly intractable situation? There are really only two ways forward for Abe’s government: either confront their personal demons and attack and reform vested interests while funding SMEs who are the real growth engines for the country, OR, devalue all that cash hidden under mattresses through more inflationary policies and distract the public’s attention with a little military adventure.

And what better than a little military adventure against the Chinese bogeyman through a SE Asian proxy such as the Philippines?

ENDS

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

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JT: Abe Cabinet says JCP promoting ‘violent revolution,’ subject to Anti-Subversive Activities Law; now, how about violent Rightists?

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Hi Blog.  As PM Abe becomes further emboldened by a lack of organized political opposition, his administration is becoming more reactionary towards Japan’s Left.  According to the Japan Times, it will subject the Japan Communist Party to the Anti-Subversive Activities Law (Hakai Katsudou Boushi Hou), reserved for subversives who resort to violence.  Of course, the JCP is a legitimate party (in fact, Japan’s oldest political party) with a (declining) number of seats in the Diet, and it is allowed to agitate for reforms and even non-violent revolution, as it has for decades now.  But Abe seems bent on a return to Japan’s old form, when Leftists were incarcerated, tortured, and killed in custody in Wartime Showa Japan.

Looking forward to him similarly cracking down on Japan’s violent rightists as well, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.  I presume violent rightists wouldn’t be considered “revolutionaries” by the Abe Administration in the same sense — their form of revolution would take Japan back to a status quo of inter alia Emperor worship, unaccountable elite rule, and military adventurism.  To Abe’s clique that is also part of Japan’s history, even if that would “subvert” Japan’s current democratic institutions.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

NATIONAL / POLITICS
Abe Cabinet says JCP promoting ‘violent revolution,’ subject to anti-subversive law
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, THE JAPAN TIMES, MAR 23, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/23/national/politics-diplomacy/abe-cabinet-says-jcp-promoting-violent-revolution-subject-anti-subversive-law/

The Japanese Communist Party remains a “violent revolutionary” group subject to the scrutiny of a law restricting the activities of subversive organizations, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has declared.

A statement approved by Abe’s Cabinet on Tuesday highlighted the government’s stance that the leftist JCP continues to uphold its longtime policy of promoting what the National Police Agency calls “violent revolution.”

The statement, issued in response to a question by former Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Takako Suzuki, went on to declare the JCP as being among the organizations targeted by what is known as the anti-subversive activities law.

Yoshiki Yamashita, the high-ranking secretariat chief of the party, responded Tuesday by expressing his strong displeasure over the statement. The party will “lodge a strong protest” with the government and demand that it be retracted, he said.

Originally founded in 1922 as an underground organization, the JCP insists that Japan undergo revolution to transform into a socialist country.

It rocketed into notoriety in the 1950s when it masterminded what the NPA calls a litany of “violent, destructive activities” nationwide — including assaults against police.

Such extremist activities, the NPA says, stemmed largely from a controversial platform the JCP adopted in 1951, in which the party declared it is “wrong” to try to achieve Japan’s democratic revolution through peaceful measures.

In the economic field, the JCP has traditionally championed the goal of wrestling power from capitalists and improving the life of the working class. In recent years, the policy has led to its objections to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement as well as the planned consumption tax hike.
ENDS

=========================
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Economist: United Nations fails to stick up for the rights of Imperial female succession, drops issue as a “distraction” from report

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Hi Blog.  Off on a tangent this time, as Debito.org is not in the habit of talking about the Japanese Imperial System (unless it has an impact on how NJ are treated in Japan, such as here or here).  But this time, check this article out from The Economist.  I will tie it into Debito.org’s themes in commentary below.

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

Japan’s male-only emperor system
Imperial lather
The United Nations fails to stick up for the rights of empresses
Mar 19th 2016 | TOKYO | From the print edition, courtesy of the author
http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21695073-united-nations-fails-stick-up-rights-empresses-imperial-lather

THE progenitor of Japan’s imperial line, supposedly 2,600 years ago, was female: Amaterasu, goddess of the sun. But for most of the time since, all emperors have been male. This has exercised the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Recently it concluded that Japan should let women inherit the Chrysanthemum throne, too.

It is not clear what Emperor Akihito, who is 82 (and has a hugely popular wife), thinks about this. But the Japanese prime minister blew his top. Shinzo Abe leapt to the defence of a male-only line, saying it was rooted in Japanese history. The panel’s meddling, he said, was “totally inappropriate”. Cowed, it withdrew its recommendation that the law of succession be changed.

Polls suggest that most Japanese would welcome a female monarch. A decade ago a looming succession crisis triggered a robust discussion, led by Junichiro Koizumi, then prime minister and Mr Abe’s political mentor, on whether to allow a woman to ascend the throne. But the birth of Hisahito, a boy prince, ended the debate. A draft law was quietly shelved.

Mr Abe does not share Mr Koizumi’s iconoclasm. An arch-traditionalist, he wants the male-only system preserved to protect the imperial bloodline. But in other ways he has been an unlikely champion of diversity since he came to power (for the second time) in 2012. He has cajoled Japanese firms into promoting more women and urged them to make it easier for them to come back to work after having children.

There is a long way to go. Japan is bottom of the rich world in most rankings of sexual equality. For the past month Mr Abe has struggled with the political fallout from a much-read blog post by a working mother angry at a chronic shortage of day-care places. Still, Mr Abe’s efforts appear to be getting somewhere. From April big companies will have to declare their plans for promoting women. The hope is that this will shame firms that overlook female talent. As for the proportion of board members who are women, it has inched up by a percentage point in the past year—to 2.7%.

The UN committee notes this progress but laments foot-dragging on other issues. Japanese women are still meant to need spousal consent for abortions, it says, even in cases of rape. Divorced women must wait months before remarrying thanks to an archaic rule designed to remove uncertainty over the paternity of unborn children. For most Japanese women, the question of whether or not some future princess can become empress is hardly pressing. But Yoko Shida, a constitutional scholar, says it matters nonetheless. It is, she says, a symbol of discrimination.

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  What’s interesting here is not that Japan protested outside comment about their emperor system (that happens with some frequency), but that the United Nations took it seriously enough to drop the issue.  Pretty remarkable that the UN, which faces criticism for many of its human-rights stances, would be cowed by this. It only encourages Japan’s rabid right to become more reactionary in regards to international criticism — because oversight bodies will possibly retreat if the Abe Admin kicks up a fuss.

When I asked the author a bit more about the reasoning of the UN committee members, he said that nobody on the committee would discuss it with him.  He said he was told that it became a distraction from the report, so they dropped it. Supposedly they felt this was an issue for Japan, not the UN.

Wow, that’s awfully generous. I can imagine numerous countries making the same argument — this contentious point is merely a “distraction” so drop it. Once again, Japan gets geopolitically kid-gloved.  What’s next:  Japan protests UN criticism of its “Japanese Only” practices as “totally inappropriate”?  Actually, Japan essentially has (see also book “Embedded Racism” Ch. 8), but not to the point of the UN withdrawing its criticism.  Yet.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

===================================
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Reuters: Death toll mounts in Japanese Detention Centers (aka “Gaijin Tanks”) as NJ seek asylum and are indefinitely detained and drugged

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Hi Blog.  Here’s another one of Reuters’ in-depth reports (I say “another” because they did an excellent on Japan’s “Trainee” Visa system as “sweatshops in disguise” back in 2014) on Japan’s deadly Detention Centers, aka Gaijin Tanks, where people wait indefinitely for refugee status or deportation (and, according to Amnesty International, are subjected to extortion and physical abuse, because Gaijin Tanks are not officially “prisons”, and are not subject to the same incarceration oversight that actual Japanese prisons get).  So what happens?  People die.  Reuters below has done some investigative journalism that more news agencies should be doing.  Be sure to visit the link to the Reuters site as well in order to see some good stats in graphic form, not to mention related articles.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Death in Detention
Grim toll mounts in Japanese detention centers as foreigners seek asylum
By Thomas Wilson, Mari Saito, Minami Funakoshi and Ami Miyazaki

Reuters, Filed March 8, 2016, 2:45 p.m. GMT  Courtesy of JH.

http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/japan-detention/
Photo Caption:  Niculas Fernando was in Tokyo to see his son and sit out potentially violent elections at home. The Sri Lankan’s death, in a cell monitored around the clock, reveals fatal flaws in a system stretched by record numbers of asylum seekers.

日本語版 (Read in Japanese)

TOKYO – Niculas Fernando died at a Tokyo immigration detention center sometime between 9:33 a.m. and 10:44 a.m. on November 22, 2014, according to the coroner.

But it wasn’t until shortly after 1 p.m. that day that guards realized something was badly wrong – even though Fernando had been moved to an observation cell monitored via closed-circuit television after complaining of sharp chest pain.

An inmate had to alert the guards before they rushed into Fernando’s cell and tried to revive him. They found him lying face down on a mattress stained with his urine. He was lifeless.

A devout Catholic from Sri Lanka, Fernando had come to visit his son, who lives in a Tokyo suburb where he works in a restaurant kitchen. He was the fourth person to die in Japan’s immigration detention system in 13 months. In total, 12 people have died in immigration detention since 2006, including four suicides. In 2015, 14 detainees tried to kill or harm themselves at the detention center where Fernando died, according to data from the facility.

A Reuters investigation into the circumstances surrounding Fernando’s death, including dozens of interviews with detainees, immigration officials and doctors, revealed serious deficiencies in the medical treatment and monitoring of Japan’s immigration detention centers. Guards with scant medical training make critical decisions about detainees’ health. Doctors visit some of the country’s main detention centers as infrequently as twice a week. And on weekends there are no medical professionals on duty at any of the immigration detention facilities, which held more than 13,600 people in 2014.

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Three of the four deaths in detention between October 2013 and November 2014, including Fernando’s, occurred when there were no doctors on duty. Like Fernando, another one of the detainees died while in an observation cell.

Japan’s immigration system is under increasing strain. As a torrent of refugees pours into Europe, Japan also has record numbers of people landing on its shores in search of refuge. As of June last year, it had 10,830 asylum applications under review – small by Europe’s standards, but a new high for Japan, a nation that has long been reluctant to take in outsiders.

In February, more than 40 detainees went on hunger strike at a facility in Osaka to protest their conditions [As they did in 2010, to little change — Ed.]. Their main complaint: Poor medical care.

The system’s oversight, too, is limited. Members of the watchdog body tasked with monitoring Japan’s 17 detention centers are appointed by the justice minister, who oversees the detention system. The findings of the watchdog are edited by the Justice Ministry before being made public, and the ministry has failed to act on repeated recommendations for improving medical care, say its members.

“I wanted to shout at them when I heard that guards left him alone for such a long time,” said Tooru Tsunoda, a doctor and vice chairman of the watchdog body that monitors the center where Fernando died. A report by the oversight group said guards “misjudged the seriousness” of Fernando’s condition. By not sending him to hospital immediately, the report found, they “missed opportunities to avoid his death.”

Report by immigration detention watchdog body on Niculas Fernando’s death
Justice Minister Mitsuhide Iwaki said the reports he received showed that in all four deaths, “appropriate medical steps” had been taken. “I do not acknowledge there were problems in the responses or the medical care provided.”

Fernando, who ran a travel agency back in Sri Lanka specializing in pilgrimages, hadn’t seen his son George for eight months when he reached Japan. Before he left home, he visited the many churches in his coastal hometown of Chilaw and “prayed for 24 hours,” said his wife, Magret.

A framed picture of Fernando sits on a table in the home where he and Magret lived from the time they wed in 1983. They had fallen in love and married within a month, even though Fernando’s family had initially opposed the union because Magret was nine years his elder.

The day before he died, Fernando called Magret from a payphone for inmates in the detention center. “He was not ill,” she said.

Sitting on a sofa and weeping quietly, she recalled Fernando’s last words before boarding the plane for Japan: “I’ll come back. Look after the children.”

He never returned. In fact, Fernando never made it through immigration at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

George and his wife waited in the arrival hall for Fernando after his plane landed at around 11 p.m. on Nov. 12. At 2 a.m. they learned Fernando had been detained by immigration officials who did not believe he was a genuine tourist.

“We would have loved to hear our father’s voice, but they didn’t give him the chance to talk to us,” said George, 27, speaking in Sinhalese through an interpreter at his apartment.

Two days later, George got to see his father. They met in a small room at Haneda Airport, separated by a glass partition.

“We couldn’t touch or hug,” said George.

George and his two brothers portray their father as a devoted family man who prayed daily, never drank and often took his family with him on work trips around Sri Lanka and India.

“He’d pray for at least an hour every morning, bowing down,” said his eldest son, Jerad, standing outside the home of a relative in a village near Chilaw. “His knees were black from the marks made from praying.”

One family photo shows Fernando playing a guitar as Catholic pilgrims dance behind him during a 2012 tour of churches in the north of Sri Lanka. George recalls his father joining a peace mission to a Tamil Tiger-controlled area in the late 1990s led by Bishop Malcolm Ranjith during Sri Lanka’s civil war.

Fernando “voluntarily joined our group and went as part of our pilgrimage,” Ranjith, who is now archbishop of Colombo, told Reuters. He described Fernando as “a very pious person.”

Fernando also was active in one of Sri Lanka’s main political parties, and that background may be key to understanding a surprising decision he made during his detention – to ask for asylum.

George said his father was a supporter of the United National Party (UNP), which now heads the ruling coalition in Sri Lanka, and had been the target of political violence in the past. With speculation growing that national elections were imminent, Fernando timed his visit to Japan so he could sit out the vote and escape any potential violence, George said.

But facing deportation after his arrest at Haneda Airport, Fernando decided to seek asylum, which would have allowed him to stay in Japan while his request was processed. He was going to return home once any election-related violence had subsided, his son said.

Elections in Sri Lanka were formally announced on Nov. 20. Fernando died two days later, before he could file the asylum papers, George said.

George and his Sri Lankan wife have been seeking asylum themselves in Japan for almost two years. A copy of his application says George faced death threats from political rivals when he worked for the UNP, which was in opposition at the time he sought asylum.

Asylum applications have jumped more than six-fold since Japan altered its immigration rules in 2010. The change allowed asylum seekers to obtain six-month renewable work permits while their applications are reviewed. But Japan is sparing when it comes to granting asylum: Only 27 people were approved in 2015.

The rule change, combined with Japan’s chronic labor shortage and strict immigration policy, has spawned a system of backdoor immigration, as Reuters illustrated last year in an article detailing Subaru’s heavy reliance on asylum seekers who toil in the factories that supply it with car parts.

Five days after arriving, Fernando was transported from a lock-up at the airport to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, a tower block overlooking the docks and a waste-incineration plant. A one-stop shop for visa renewals, asylum interviews and deportation orders, the complex also serves as a detention center for up to 800 people.

Fernando was placed in a cell in G-Block with two other detainees, from China and Peru. Fellow detainees described him as a serious man obsessed with cleanliness.

On the Saturday morning Fernando died, James Burke, a Canadian in the adjacent cell, was awakened by the Sri Lankan’s cries. It was around 7 a.m. Noise travels easily on the block and Fernando was in obvious pain, Burke said. “He was moaning and moaning and moaning.”

Fernando’s Peruvian cellmate called the guards and told them the Sri Lankan wanted to go to the hospital because his chest was hurting. The guards refused, saying the hospitals were closed on Saturdays, according to Burke and two other detainees who witnessed the events and asked not to be named.

At least two hospitals within a few miles of the detention center are open around the clock on weekends, including Saiseikai Central Hospital, where Fernando’s body would be taken later that day. Naoaki Torisu, a senior Justice Ministry official who oversees immigration detention, declined to comment on what specifically the guards told Fernando.

“His symptoms didn’t seem that serious,” Torisu said. “If his condition had worsened, we would have called an ambulance or taken him to hospital without hesitation.”

At 7:30 a.m., guards measured Fernando’s pulse and blood pressure, according to an internal report by the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau that was reviewed by Reuters. They found no abnormality, Torisu said.

But Fernando soon called for the guards again, this time more loudly. “He’s in real discomfort,” recalled Burke, who was being held at the time for overstaying his visa and is now on provisional release from immigration detention. “He was begging them, ‘I’m a Christian and I wouldn’t lie. I need to go to hospital or I’m going to die.’”

Just before 8 a.m., guards led Fernando to a room to check his condition. A report by the national Immigration Bureau, which is part of the Justice Ministry, said the guards “could not grasp the seriousness” of the situation because another Sri Lankan detainee who was acting as an interpreter did not translate Fernando’s words accurately. But the Justice Ministry’s Torisu told Reuters the guards did understand what Fernando was saying.

When the Sri Lankan returned to his cell a short while later, he looked relieved, said Burke. He gathered his Bible and clothes. “You could see it in his face – he was getting his stuff, thinking he would get help.”

But Fernando wasn’t taken to hospital. At 8:16 a.m., guards moved him to an observation cell fitted with closed-circuit television for around-the-clock surveillance of detainees who are ill, unruly or have tried to harm themselves.

Around 9 a.m. Fernando again called the guards from the cell. They told him to wait until the morning roll call was over, said Burke and two other detainees.

At 9:22 a.m., Fernando washed his hands and appeared to vomit. He then lay face down on a futon, according to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau report on his death. At 9:33 a.m., he stopped moving.

A few minutes later, a guard brought a television to Fernando’s cell. He called out but Fernando didn’t respond. Thinking the Sri Lankan was asleep, the guard didn’t check to see if he was all right, the report said. For the same reason, guards did not check Fernando for the next several hours.

Immediately after cell doors opened at 1 p.m. to allow detainees out for the afternoon break, the Sri Lankan who had interpreted for Fernando hurried to the observation cell. Fernando’s breakfast – the standard white bread, jam and boiled egg – lay untouched. Fernando wasn’t moving. His body was cold.

Alerted by the detainees, guards rushed into the observation cell. It was 1:03 p.m. – three and a half hours since Fernando had last shown any signs of life.

A guard performed CPR on Fernando, but it was too late.

An ambulance was called and his body was carried out of G-Block on a stretcher, his face uncovered, two detainees said. Two hours later, he was pronounced dead. He was 57 years old.

Koichi Uemura, a coroner asked by the national Immigration Bureau to write an in-depth autopsy report on Fernando’s death, told Reuters he was allowed to view the video footage of the Sri Lankan in the observation cell. He said it was possible to tell from the images that Fernando was struggling and moaning before he lay down in the cell.

Uemura said he was asked to compile a report after the Immigration Bureau had investigated Fernando’s death and found that “there was quite a high possibility that (the detention center) did not provide adequate medical care, and that his illness got worse because he was left unattended.” A doctor at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University who performs autopsies for the police and courts, Uemura stopped short of saying that Fernando’s death could have been avoided if guards had taken him to hospital.

The Justice Ministry rejected a public disclosure request by Reuters to view the video footage of the observation cell, citing privacy reasons.

Since 2010, the Immigration Detention Facilities Visiting Committee – the watchdog body – has repeatedly called for improvements to medical care at detention facilities. Six current and former members of the 20-person oversight body told Reuters that key recommendations have not been implemented.

Inmates voice a similar grievance. In two handwritten letters, the hunger strikers at the detention center in Osaka complained about limited access to doctors and said guards without medical training were making judgment calls about the health of detainees.

Their protest didn’t impress the authorities. Tomohisa Takayama, a spokesman for the Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau, said there was no “rational reason” for the complaints, and that the hunger strike ended after five days.

In May, a former member of the watchdog wrote to then-Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa calling for full-time doctors at detention facilities, better monitoring of detainees who are unwell and improved psychiatric care.

But the watchdog lacks teeth. It doesn’t perform surprise inspections. Its visits to detention centers are pre-arranged, and its members are escorted by immigration officials.

There has been little change since the deaths. Guards have been given “fresh instructions to call ambulances” in situations where they are having trouble “making judgments,” said the Justice Ministry’s Torisu. And two guards are being trained as assistant nurses in the entire detention system, which on Nov. 1 last year was holding 1,070 inmates.

It is “probably insufficient” that there are no doctors on duty at weekends, but that doesn’t mean medical care is lax, said Torisu.

On Nov. 22, the day Fernando died, George got a call from a family friend. “He asked me to calm down, to sit down,” George recalled, his eyes filling with tears. “He told us my father had passed away… I asked God why he took my father.”

The next day, George tracked Fernando’s body to a police station near the detention center. Officers there tried to stop him from opening the white body bag that contained his father’s body.

OBSCURED: Large sections of an official report on Niculas Fernando’s death that was released to Reuters were redacted. Click here to view the report. Source: Justice Ministry, Japan

“But I opened the bag,” he said. “I asked them if they were investigating my father’s death. They said they were, and when they had the report they’d tell me.”

George has never received any of the reports on his father’s death. On Dec. 19, almost a month after he lost his father, George received the death certificate. It didn’t contain the answer he’d been seeking: Cause “unknown,” it said.

That same day, Fernando was cremated about three miles from the detention center where he died. His family had hoped for a Catholic burial in Chilaw, but could not afford to fly his body home. His third son, Jude, who traveled to Japan for the funeral, is also now seeking asylum.

It would be another three months before Fernando’s family learned from Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry that he had died of a heart attack.

“I can’t believe that I lost my father,” said George. “Japan’s immigration authorities must take responsibility for my father’s death.”

The Justice Ministry has not made public the findings of the investigation into the case nor released them to Fernando’s family.

In response to a public disclosure request, Reuters received a copy of the national Immigration Bureau’s report from March last year. It was heavily redacted. Under a section titled “Problems,” every line had been blacked out.

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

SUB-ARTICLE

Death, drugs and detention

By Minami Funakoshi, Thomas Wilson, Ami Miyazaki and Mari Saito
In the 13 months before Niculas Fernando died in a Japanese immigration detention center in 2014, three other men suffered the same fate.

• Anwar Hussin, 57, a Rohingya from Myanmar, died on Oct. 14, 2013, after suffering a stroke while being held at the same detention center as Fernando.

• Saeid Ghadimi, a 33-year-old Iranian, choked on food and died on March 29, 2014, at the East Japan Immigration Center in Ibaraki prefecture, a sprawling complex set among rice paddies northeast of Tokyo.

• Flaubert Lea Wandji, a 43-year-old Cameroonian, died at the same center the next day, most likely due to acute heart failure.

The names of Ghadimi and Wandji, and many of the details of their deaths, have not been previously reported.

Like Fernando, Wandji died after being moved to an observation cell so his condition could be monitored. But the guards failed to grasp the need to take Wandji to hospital, the watchdog committee that monitors Japan’s detention centers said in a report last March to the national Immigration Bureau, which is part of the Justice Ministry. The report was reviewed by Reuters.

NO PROBLEMS: Justice Minister Mitsuhide Iwaki said ‘appropriate medical steps’ were taken in the case of all four men who died in immigration detention in the space of 13 months. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Files

The watchdog report drew attention to what it said was the heavy prescription of drugs to detainees. At the time he died, Ghadimi had been prescribed 15 different drugs, including four painkillers, five sedatives – one a Japanese version of the tranquilizer Xanax – and two kinds of sleeping pills, the report said. At one point during his incarceration, he was on a cocktail of 25 different pills.

“It is not an exaggeration to say he was in a so-called ‘drugged-up state,’” Teruichi Shimomitsu, a doctor and retired member of the watchdog body, wrote in a letter last May to then-Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa.

Naoaki Torisu, a senior Justice Ministry official responsible for overseeing immigration detention centers, said parts of the committee’s report were “unclear.”

“Detainees take pills prescribed according to their medical needs,” he told Reuters. “I cannot grasp the exact intent behind the committee’s statement.”

Two psychiatrists cited in a November 2014 national Immigration Bureau report said the Iranian’s medications did not cause him to choke.

The prescription of sedatives and antidepressants is common in Japan’s detention centers, say doctors and detainees. Some inmates told Reuters they were given sedatives after arguing with guards or other detainees. Others said they became dependent on the drugs as they faced indefinite detention.

Checks are needed to ensure doctors do not prescribe “massive amounts” of sedatives to keep “rebellious” detainees quiet, Shimomitsu wrote in his letter to then-Justice Minister Kamikawa.

The Justice Ministry’s Torisu disputed that sedatives were used to pacify troublesome detainees. “Psychiatrists prescribe them because they are deemed medically necessary,” he said.

—————

ENDS

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

Onur on continued racial profiling at Japanese hotel check-ins: Discrimination is even coin-operated!

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. Another letter below from a Debito.org Reader talking about how Japanese hotels are continuing to racially profile their customers at the behest of the police, and in a way actually against the law. More on this here. Reprinted with permission of the author.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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March 3, 2016
Hello Dr. Debito,

I am a foreigner living in Japan. Your “WHAT TO DO IF” page has a column about “…you are asked for your passport number at a hotel, despite having an address in Japan.” and “…you are refused service at a hotel.”, which is very informative. I would like to share my experience.

I travel often, so I stay in many business hotels in Japan. Not all but many of them caused many problems due to the passport copy rule. Of course I carry only my residence card, not my passport. In the past I used to allow them when the hotel wants to copy my residence card. I remember that a hotel in Asakusa ward of Tokyo even asked me to copy my residence card by myself! The woman at the reception pointed the coin operated photocopier in the hall and told me to copy my residence card and bring it to the reception. I said it is coin operated, not free and she said pay the money to the machine. I paid the money, copied my residence card by myself and gave the copy to the reception. Even though it was hotel’s photocopier, they did not pay the money back!

Later I learned that as I have an address in Japan, hotels do not have the authority to ask my residence card and started to reject them when they asked to copy it. Still I was showing the card when they asked. Two years ago I had a bad experience at Inuyama Central Hotel in Aichi Prefecture. I wrote my Japanese address to the guest registration form, but two old male receptionists asked my passport. As I don’t carry it, I showed them my residence card and my address on it. They wanted to copy it, but I said no. They said that they must copy my residence card according to the law of Japan. I said copying is not necessary and they did not allow me to check-in! We had a long argument, but they refused me service. I was extremely tired and exhausted, it was late at night and it would be hard to find a place stay at that time, so I decided to resolve it the next day and allowed them to copy my residence card.

The next day I checked out and tried to find some help. Unfortunately it was Sunday and public offices were closed. I went to the the police center but they were not knowledgeable about the law. Then I went to the local Tourism Association. They called the hotel but the hotel said they are sure that the IDs of all foreigners must be copied. The association called other hotels to confirm and other hotels said that that law applies only to the tourists.

The association called again the Inuyama Central Hotel to inform, but the hotel said that they also checked it and learned that only the passports of tourists must be copied! I said I want to get the copy of my residence card back and went to the hotel. In the hotel I saw only a young female receptionist. She gave the copy and just said sorry (moushiwakegozaimasen). I said “I lost half a day and had many problems because of your hotel’s fault and is that all you say?”. She said moushiwakegozaimasen only and got rid of me. You can read my review and their reply on Rakuten travel at
http://review.travel.rakuten.co.jp/hotel/voice/108717/10869996?f_time=&f_keyword=&f_age=0&f_sex=0&f_mem1=0&f_mem2=0&f_mem3=0&f_mem4=0&f_mem5=0&f_cat1=1&f_cat3=1&f_teikei=&f_static=1&f_point=1&f_sort=0&f_next=0&f_offset=1

This problem is widespread in Japan, not limited hotels in the rural places, which are not familiar with foreign guests. Even Hotel Sunlite Shinjuku in Tokyo, which is a big hotel full of foreigner guests wanted to copy my residence card. My review is at
http://review.travel.rakuten.co.jp/hotel/voice/1026/11413873?f_time=&f_keyword=&f_age=0&f_sex=0&f_mem1=0&f_mem2=0&f_mem3=0&f_mem4=0&f_mem5=0&f_cat1=1&f_cat3=1&f_teikei=&f_static=1&f_point=1&f_sort=0&f_next=0&f_offset=4

Later I called the department related to the hotel law at Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) by phone 03-5253-1111(ext: 2437)and asked the law. They said “The foreigners living and having an address in Japan do not have to show their ID to hotels. It is enough to write the address in Japan to the guest registration form. If the guest is living in Japan, the hotels do not have to copy IDs, or ask to see the IDs or check whether the address written to the guest registration form is correct”.

It seems like copying IDs of all foreigners is being enforced by the police. Recently I reviewed another hotel which asked to copy my residence card and as a reply they said that copying the residence cards is requested by the police. My review and their reply is on the page http://review.travel.rakuten.co.jp/hotel/voice/15873/13252581?f_time=&f_keyword=&f_age=0&f_sex=0&f_mem1=0&f_mem2=0&f_mem3=0&f_mem4=0&f_mem5=0&f_cat1=1&f_cat3=1&f_teikei=&f_static=1&f_point=1&f_sort=0&f_next=0&f_offset=1

I did a search on the Internet and saw that a Zainichi Korean had the same problem at Yonaga City in Tottori Prefecture and called the police station to clarify the rules. It is written in detail on the page http://blog.goo.ne.jp/gekkan-io/e/01e22b16aecd84285992755fc96f46b4. In short, the police accepted that they are forcing the hotels to check and copy the IDs of all foreigners! Police is even asking the hotel to call the police if a foreigner does not show his ID! At the same time they say that showing the ID is voluntary and a foreigner has the right to refuse showing it. A big dilemma!

Arguing with the hotels on this residence card check and copying is very annoying. Refusing to allow copying the card may not be enough as the hotel may continue asking it to other foreigners. Recently, when I stay in a hotel that asked to copy residence card, I am writing a review on Rakuten hoping that the hotel and checks and learns the real law. I also give a low rating to those hotels in the review. Average rating in on-line reservation sites is somewhat important in Japan, so probably many hotels would take it into account. If many foreigners people do the same thing, more hotels may abide the law.

Regards, Onur

Roger Schreffler: Fukushima Official Disaster Report E/J translation differences: Blaming “Japanese culture” an “invention” of PR manager Kurokawa Kiyoshi, not in Japanese version (which references TEPCO’s corporate culture) (UPDATED)

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Hi Blog.  Just before the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima Disasters, let’s revisit a topic Debito.org covered some years ago in this blog post:

Parliamentary Independent Investigation Commission Report on Fukushima Disaster “Made in Japan”: ironies of different Japanese and English versions (Debito.org, July 16, 2012).

Veteran journalist Roger Schreffler has contacted Debito.org to release the following information about the snow job that the person heading up the investigation, a Mr. Kurokawa Kiyoshi, carried out when this report was released in English blaming “Japanese culture” for the disasters (he also blamed foreign inspectors, believe it or not).  It’s a supreme example of successful Gaijin Handling, and most of the overseas media bought into it.  But not everyone, as Roger exposes below.  Read on.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

DISCLAIMER appended March 12, 2016 JST:  Debito.org has given this issue space because 1) one of our missions is to provide a voice to underrepresented views, 2) we have reported in the past that having two different versions of the Fukushima Report based on language was odd, and 3) Roger has made his claims under his name and is thus taking responsibility for the contents.  The reportage culture of the FCCJ is also coming under scrutiny in this post, and as a former member of the FCCJ myself I have been a target of bullying and censorship, so it is possible there may be a “there” there in this case.  That said, the views below are Roger’s, and not necessarily those of Debito.org as a whole.  Moreover, again, Roger has put his name to his views to take responsibility, and those who do not comment under their actual names will not have their comments approved IF they direct their criticisms at people by name.  Thus commenters’ names and their claims will be subject to the same level of scrutiny as the names they mention.  (That means in the comments section, “War Dog” has had his posts edited or deleted for engaging in personal attacks.)

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
March 8, 2016
Dear Debito,

I don’t think we’ve met, but I am aware of who you are because I authorized an invitation for you to speak at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan between 2000 and 2005.

I believe the following information may be of interest to you. The Fukushima commission never concluded that Japanese culture caused the Daiichi plant meltdown.

Kiyoshi Kurokawa worked with a PR consultant, Carlos Ghosn’s former speechwriter, and altered the preface to the overseas edition of the report.

More than 100 media organizations, mostly unwittingly, quoted Kurokawa’s introduction as if it were part of the official report. It was not, of course.

I pitched my article to the press club’s Board of Directors. No response. So now I’m doing it the old-fashioned way – contacting everyone who erroneously reported individually.

Kiyoshi Kurokawa will speak at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on Thursday, March 10, the day before the fifth anniversary of the 3/11 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear accident.

Kurokawa spoke at the club in July 2012 as chair of a parliamentary commission set up to investigate the causes of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. More than 150 foreign news organizations, government agencies and NGOs attributed blame to ‘Japanese culture’.

It was an invention.

Nowhere in the 641-page main report and 86-page executive summary can one find the widely quoted expressions “Made in Japan disaster” and “ingrained conventions of Japanese culture (including) reflexive obedience, groupism and insularity.”

In fact, all references to culture (文化) involve TEPCO – TEPCO’s corporate culture, TEPCO’s organizational culture, and TEPCO’s safety culture.

It turns out that Kurokawa retained a PR consultant to hype the report’s English edition for overseas distribution including to foreign media organizations such as AFP, BBC, CNN, Fox News and more than 100 others (see attached list).

I have reported this matter to the Board of Directors of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan because the consultant, a former speechwriter for Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, was working as publisher and editor of the club’s magazine at the time of the news conference; in fact, on the day of the news conference.

It may be true that Japanese culture is to blame for the Fukushima disaster. But it isn’t what the commission concluded and submitted formally (in Japanese) to the Diet on July 5, 2012.

Attached are records showing the commission’s hiring and financial relationship with the consultant (click on links to pdf files):
1. Attachments for report

2. Kurokawa statements in Fukushima commission report

3. media outlets fukushima

4. Attachment 1..

I have downplayed the FCCJ’s involvement because it is my hope that the club’s Board of Directors will address this matter in an open and transparent way. Unfortunately, the current BOD is under attack because they settled three litigations last December (two by staff and one by members) over the firing of 50 employees.

I proposed an article to the club’s magazine in August 2013 in which I summarized evidence that had been submitted to the courts. I was refused. But had the magazine published my article, there is a good chance that the lawsuits could have been settled then, saving the club nearly ¥25 million in legal fees. That’s nearly $200,000.

This time again, I have asked for space in the magazine. No response.

If you read the club’s notice, you won’t find a single reference to the fact that Kurokawa hired a club fiduciary to help alter an official, taxpayer-funded report. Or that there was controversy over the translation.

http://www.fccj.or.jp/events-calendar/press-events/icalrepeat.detail/2016/03/10/3955/-/press-conference-kiyoshi-kurokawa-author-of-capture-of-regulatory.html

Mure Dickie of the Financial Times is the only reporter who reported the translation discrepancies on the day of the FCCJ news conference: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/94fba34a-c8ee-11e1-a768-00144feabdc0.html

Dickie, of course, didn’t know that these weren’t ‘translation’ mistakes.

It is not uncommon for newsmakers to hire PR consultants to help with their messaging. What is uncommon – and almost without precedent – is for the consultant to be an editor of a publication that has an interest in the news event in question – and that publishes a report about that event.

As you are aware, Asahi Shimbun took a brutal beating for altering the testimony of the late Masao Yoshida, the Fukushima Daiichi plant manager.

How is this different?

Kurokawa signed off on the rewrite; it wasn’t a translation. But the commission didn’t approve. I contacted the commission two weeks after the news conference. They said: “Refer to the Japanese, the official.”

The club’s magazine was founded by two AP legends – Max Desfor (pictured on the lobby wall with his Pulitzer Prize winning Korean War photograph) and John Roderick (pictured with Mao Zedong).

I shudder to think of what they would say if they knew that the magazine was now in the hands of a PR specialist and a one-time tabloid magazine editor who, by extension, now decide what constitutes ‘news’.

For your reference: I am a 30-year veteran journalist, have never worked for a major news organization though did plenty of freelance work. I also served as FCCJ president (once), vice president (twice) and BOD director (twice). I chaired the club’s speaker program for five years and signed off on 800 press luncheons including the last sitting Japanese prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, on Sept. 14, 2001.

Sincerely, Roger Schreffler, Providence RI & Tokyo

ENDS

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

FCCJ Writeup on Kurokawa Kiyoshi Presser on March 10, 2016:

Thursday, March 10, 2016, 12:00 – 13:00

5th Anniversary Series for 3.11 Disaster 

FCCJKurokawaKiyoshi031016
Kiyoshi Kurokawa
Author of “Regulatory Capture”
Language: The speech and Q & A will be in English.

http://www.fccj.or.jp/events-calendar/press-events/icalrepeat.detail/2016/03/10/3955/-/press-conference-kiyoshi-kurokawa-author-of-capture-of-regulatory.html

 Five years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan is in the process of restarting more reactors and has made some progress in the cleanup and decommissioning of the wrecked plant. Meanwhile, there are still some 100,000 evacuees from around the Fukushima site.

 A new independent nuclear watchdog has also been set up along with new regulations prompted by Fukushima. But the Nuclear Regulatory Authority is under pressure from politicians and utilities to process restart applications more quickly and to be less strict on seismic issues and other matters. Equally important are the questions as to what lessons plant operators have learned from the unprecedented triple meltdown. Recent problems with restarts and disclosure by the utilities, among other issues, aren’t reassuring.

 At this critical juncture, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, the former chairman of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, will come to the Club to talk about his new book “Regulatory Capture,” and answer questions about what has happened since the Fukushima accident. In the introduction to his 2012 Diet report, Kurokawa was scathing in his criticism of regulators and utilities, saying, “It was a profoundly man‐made disaster – that could and should have been foreseen and prevented.”

 In his new book, in addition to describing the set up of the commission and its investigation of the Fukushima accident, he talks about Japan not learning the necessary lessons from it and applying them to prevent accidents in the future.”

 “If there are major accidents or problems in areas other than nuclear power, Japan will make the same mistakes again, become isolated and lose the trust of the international community. The Fukushima nuclear accident is not over yet. Japan must seize the opportunity to change itself, or else its future will be in danger,” he says.

 Dr. Kurokawa, MD and MACP, is an adjunct professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, chairman of the Health and Global Policy Institute, chairman of the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund and professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo.Please reserve in advance, 3211-3161 or on the website (still & TV cameras inclusive). Reservations and cancellations are not complete without confirmation.

Professional Activities Committee

ENDS

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

UPDATE MARCH 11, 2016 JST, FOLLOWING FCCJ PRESS CONFERENCE, FROM ROGER SCHREFFLER: 

Debito,

As a followup: The moderator asked Kurokawa [at the FCCJ on March 10, 2016) about the differences in the English and Japanese version of the report’s executive summary. Kurokawa admitted that the ‘content’ was different. What this means is that the content turned over to the Diet on July 5, 2012 (both houses) was different than what he reported to the nonJapanese-speaking world.

Listen for yourself to his answer [to a question from the AP, who moderated the meeting, available on the FCCJ website for members only.  Here’s an audio file of the question (an excerpt from minute 34 on the recording, for 3:26, in WMA format. Kurokawa press conference and .mp3 format:

where he now blames other factors on the outcome, such as a lack of time, him summarizing his own personal opinion for the report, and the lack of concision in the Japanese language.] 

Later on, Kurokawa equated his Japanese cultural references to Ruth Benedict, Samuel Huntington, Karel van Wolferen and John Dower.

Which leaves one unanswered question: Who wrote it?

The Associated Press followed up with a question about the translation team. Kurokawa mentioned an acquaintance of his, Sakon Uda, who was ‘managing director’ of the project and currently works for Keniichi Ohmae at Ohmae’s graduate school of business.

I don’t know if the AP will follow up. But the AP was one of only three media organizations, the other being the Financial Times and The New York Times, that pointed out discrepancies in the Japanese and English reports in summer 2012.

The rest – even those who attended Kurokawa’s July 6, 2012 news conference where he admitted to there being differences in the ‘translation’, but not ‘content’ – followed like a herd and didn’t report that there was a discrepancy between the ‘official’ and the one for ‘gaijin’.

Following is the translation of the official Japanese introduction. Kurokawa talks about ‘mindset’ (思いこみ and マインドセット) but not ‘culture’.

Best, Roger Schreffler

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

Preface of Kurokawa Kiyoshi’s Statements (from the full text)

THE FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI NUCLEAR POWER PLANT ACCIDENT IS NOT OVER.

This large-scale accident will forever remain part of the world’s history of nuclear power. The world was astounded at the fact that such an accident could occur in Japan, a scientifically and technologically advanced country. Caught in the focus of the world’s attention, the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) revealed, in their response to the disaster, some fundamental problems underlying Japanese society.

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was the third nuclear power plant to start commercial operation in Japan. Japan began to study the commercial use of nuclear power in the 1950s. Following the oil crisis of the 1970s, nuclear power generation became part of Japan’s national policy, unifying the political, bureaucratic, and business circles into one entity promoting its use.

Nuclear power is not only the most incredibly powerful energy ever acquired by the human race, but a colossally complicated system that requires extremely-high levels of expertise as well as operational and management competence. Advanced countries have learned lessons through experience and from many tragic events, including the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents. Authorities in charge of the world’s nuclear power have maintained a basic stance of protecting people and the environment from all sorts of accidents and disasters, while nuclear operators have evolved in sustaining and enhancing the safety of equipment and operations.

Japan has itself dealt with a number of nuclear power plant accidents, small and large. Most of these were responded to, but without sufficient transparency; sometimes they were concealed by the organizations concerned. The government, together with TEPCO, the largest of the country’s ten utilities, promoted nuclear power by advocating its use as a safe energy source, while maintaining that accidents could not occur in Japan.

Consequently, the Japanese nuclear power plants were to face the March 11 earthquake totally unprepared.

Why did this accident, which should have been foreseeable, actually occur? The answer to this question dates to the time of Japan’s high economic growth. As Japan pushed nuclear power generation as national policy with the political, bureaucratic, and business circles in perfect coordination, an intricate form of “Regulatory Capture” was created.

The factors that contributed to this include: the political dominance by a single party for nearly half a century; the distinct organizational structure of both the bureaucratic and business sectors, characterized by the hiring of new university graduates as a group; the seniority-based promotion system; the lifetime employment system; and the “mindset” of the Japanese people that took these for granted. As the economy developed, Japan’s “self- confidence” started to develop into “arrogance and conceit.”

The “single-track elites”—who make their way to the top of their organization according to the year of their entry into the company or the ministry—pursued the critical mission of abiding by precedent and defending the interests of their organization. They assigned a higher priority to this mission over that of protecting the lives of the people. Hence, while being aware of the global trends in safety control, Japan buried its head in the sand and put off implementing necessary safety measures.

We do not question the exceptional challenge entailed in the response to the vast scale of the disaster created by the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear accident on March 11, 2012. Furthermore, we understand that the accident occurred a mere eighteen months after the historical change in power, the birth of a new (non-Liberal Democratic Party) government for the first time in some fifty years.

Were the government, regulators and the operator prepared to respond to a severe nuclear accident? Did they truly understand the weight of responsibility they bore in their respective positions? And were they fully committed to fulfill those responsibilities? To the contrary, they showed questionable risk management capabilities by repeatedly saying that circumstances were “beyond assumptions” and “not confirmed yet.” This attitude actually exacerbated the damage that eventually impacted not only Japan, but the world at large. Undeniably, this accident was a “manmade disaster” that stemmed from the lack of a sense of responsibility in protecting the lives of the people and the society by present and past government administrations, regulators and TEPCO.

Nine months after this massive accident, the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission was established by a unanimous resolution of both the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors of the National Diet, which represent the people of Japan. It is the first investigation commission in Japan’s history of constitutional government, and is independent both from the government and from the operator, as set up under the National Diet of Japan.

To investigate what was at the center of this accident, we could not but touch upon the root of the problems of the former regulators and their relationship structure with the operators. The Commission chose three keywords as the bases of our investigative activities: the people, the future and the world. We defined our mission with phrases such as “conducting an investigation on the accident by the people for the people,” and “to submit recommendations for the future based on the lessons learned from the mistakes,” and “to investigate from the standpoint of Japan’s status as a member of international society (Japan’s responsibility to the world.)” This report is the fruit of six months of investigative activities carried through with a few constraints.

About a century ago, Kanichi Aasakawa, a great historian born and raised in Fukushima, blew the whistle in a book titled Nihon no kaki (“Crisis for Japan”). It was a wake-up call concerning the state model of Japan after the victory in the Japanese-Russo War. In his book, he accurately predicted the path that Japan, with its “inability to change,” would take after the war’s end.

How now will Japan deal with the aftermath of this catastrophe, which occurred as a result of Japan’s “inability to change”? And how will the country, in fact, change subsequently? The world is closely watching Japan, and we, the Japanese people, must not throw this experience away. It is an opportunity, in turn, to drastically reform the government that failed to protect the livelihood of its people, the nuclear organizations, the social structure, and the “mindset” of the Japanese—thereby regaining confidence in the country. We hope this report serves as the first step for all Japanese to evaluate and transform ourselves in terms of the state model that Japan should pursue.

Last but not least, I strongly hope from the bottom of my heart that the people of Fukushima—particularly the children upon whose shoulders rest the future of Japan—will be able to resume their lives of peace as soon as possible. I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to the people all over of the world who extended their warm assistance and encouragement in the wake of this devastating accident. My sincere thanks also go to the many people who kindly cooperated and supported our investigation, the members of the Diet who unswervingly strove to make this National Diet’s investigation commission a reality, and all the staff of the commission office for their many days and nights of work.

Kiyoshi Kurokawa
ENDS

Kyodo: Kyoto taxis specializing in foreign tourists begin one-year trial. Separate taxi stands? What’s next: separate hotels?

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Hi Blog.  Here’s something that feels more problematic the more I think about it:  “Foreigner-friendly” taxicabs being introduced in Kyoto.  As noted below, they are government-sponsored vehicles with multilingual drivers and more space for tourist luggage.  Sounds good so far.  Until you get to the fact that they have a separate alighting point at one station in Kyoto.  Already, we are getting into shades of “separate but equal” (as opposed to equal and undifferentiated), which we are seeing in a number of venues dealing with foreign tourism (for example, here).

While I applaud the effort to improve service, it doesn’t resolve the root problem (mentioned within the Kyodo article below) — that taxi cabs are refusing NJ passengers.  So instead of going after miscreant taxis, they’re creating a separate taxi system to equalize things.  Except that it won’t.  Think about it.  Now we’ll have busybody train station ojisan waving  “foreign-looking” people over to the foreign taxi stand even when they’re not tourists.  Or we’ll have people being told that they have to go to that solitary Kyoto Station stand, regardless of where they are, if they want to get a “foreigner-friendly” cab.  And, with the law of unintended consequences, we’ll have even more taxi drivers refusing to pick up foreign-looking people — after all, their logic will go, “There’s already a taxi designated for them, so I don’t have to bother picking them up — they can wait for one.”  As if foreign-friendly taxis could ever have the same coverage as regular taxis.  See, “separate but equal” essentially never works because, as history demonstrates, it’s too hard to achieve.

If they really want to improve service, have the city assign somebody “foreign-looking” to hail taxis in Kyoto, and have him or her officially report misbehaving taxis to the Kyoto Tourist Agency (there is one, and I’ve done this very thing for at least one exclusionary Kyoto hotel; there were repercussions).  And tell those taxis (like restaurants hear that they’re being reviewed by reviewers posing as regular customers) that there will be person(s) posing as an evaluator so you better not avoid picking up customers.  Monitoring for consumer quality is quite normal, and if Japan is serious about omotenashi, it had better avoid making historical mistakes.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

(Further comment by submitter JDG here.)

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

Kyoto taxis specializing in foreign tourists begin one-year trial
KYODO/JAPAN TIMES MAR 1, 2016, Courtesy of JDG
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/01/national/kyoto-taxis-specializing-foreign-tourists-begin-one-year-trial/

KYOTO – A one-year trial run for taxis aimed at non-Japanese tourists started Tuesday in the city of Kyoto, the first such service in Japan aimed at enhancing the experience for overseas visitors.

The “foreigner-friendly taxis” accept credit cards, have space for two large suitcases and drivers who are able to communicate in a variety of languages such as English and Chinese, project officials said.

The trial is being jointly organized by the city, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and other bodies.

A taxi stand for the cabs has been set up in front of JR Kyoto Station in Shimogyo Ward. A total of 69 taxis and 87 drivers from 23 cab operators will operate the service through next March.

According to city officials, some taxi drivers have tended to refuse to pick up foreign tourists because of communication difficulties, and the new project is aimed at resolving this.

A ceremony to mark the start of the service was held Tuesday in front of the taxi stand.

Mireia Daroca, a 30-year-old language teacher from Spain who lives in the city, said she has sometimes been asked by drivers in the past to write down her destination in Japanese, but with this service that will not be necessary.

ENDS

ABC News Australia: Video on PM Abe’s secretive and ultra-conservative organization “Nippon Kaigi”

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Hi Blog.  Here is an excellent bit of investigative journalism done by the Australians on an organization that the USG would do well to do their own research on (and the US media pay due attention to):  PM Abe’s Nippon Kaigi, which threatens to undo just about everything The American Occupation did to demilitarize Postwar Japan and defang its self-destructive ultranationalism.  Why hasn’t anyone else done a good in-depth report on them, even after this came out over a year ago?  Because it’s probably not something people want to believe–that the belligerent elements of Prewar Japan are not only ascendant, they are already well-organized within Japan’s highest echelons of government.  A transcript follows, but I strongly recommend people click on the link and watch the video at the ABC News Australia Lateline program to get the full effect.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2015/s4364818.htm

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

Lifting the lid on one of the most influential, and secretive, political organisations in Japan

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 02/12/2015

Reporter: Matthew Carney

Nippon Kaigi, or ‘Japan Conference’, has an impressive list of members and aims to reshape Japanese politics and policies, and Lateline gains rare access to this secretive and ultra-conservative organisation.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: It’s been described as one of the most influential political organisations in Japan. Nippon Kaigi, or Japan Conference, has an impressive list of members and advisors, including the Prime Minister and much of his cabinet. But very little is known about this right-wing nationalist lobby group which aims to reshape Japanese politics and policies and even change the Constitution. It operates mostly out of the public eye, but North Asia correspondent Matthew Carney gained rare access to file this exclusive story for Lateline.

MATTHEW CARNEY, REPORTER: A call has gone out and people from all over Japan have responded. To hear a vision from one of Japan’s most powerful political organisations, the Nippon Kaigi. And it’s back to the future. Nippon Kaigi want to restore the status of the Emperor, keep women in the home to nurture family and rebuild the might of the armed forces.

To do that, they have to scrap the pacifist constitution that was imposed by the Americans. This is the first step, they say, to shake off the shame of the defeat in World War II and restore pride.

YOSHIKO SAKURAI, JOURNALIST (voiceover translation): We need to ask ourselves: will the current constitution of Japan protect Japan and its people? The answer is no. We need a constitution that reflects the true Japanese identity.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The biggest champion to the cause and the group’s specialist advisor is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself.

SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (voiceover translation): To create a constitution suitable for the 21st Century, that’s where it needs to be spread throughout Japan. I seek your continued support on this. Let’s move forward towards changing the Constitution.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The Nippon Kaigi has serious clout. The Deputy Prime Minister is also a member, as well as 80 per cent of the cabinet, as are almost half of all parliamentarians. It’s a kind of uber lobby group that uses its 38,000 members to mobilise support.

The Nippon Kaigi has pledged to collect 10 million signatures by next April to change the Constitution. Some say it’s a cult-like organisation.

KOICHI NAKANO, SOPHIA UNIVERSITY: I think it is, you know, cultish, in the sense that it’s very sectarian. They have a very strong view of us and them. They have a sense of the inner group because they feel victimised, marginalised and they have been subjected to severe injustice, that they need to take back Japan.

MATTHEW CARNEY: But their spokesperson says they are only trying to normalise Japan.

AKIRA MOMOCHI, NIPPON KAIGI, STRATEGIC COMMITTEE (voiceover translation): It is proper for an independent sovereign nation to have an army. There are no sovereign nations without one. Armies are deterrents. They exist to prevent war. We’ll keep our pacifist traditions, but we need to respond to the rising threat of China.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The fundamental vision for many in the group is to go back to a time when they say Japan was pure and free from foreign influence, like the Edo Period in the 16th to 18th centuries when outsiders were strictly forbidden and Japanese culture flourished. They believe this beautiful Japan has been lost.

HIDEAKI KASE, NIPPON KAIGI, TOKYO BRANCH: There are two Japans. One is traditional Japan and one is Westernised Japan. And we wish to revert to the traditional Japan.

KOICHI NAKANO: They are romantic, they are irrational, they live in their own world. So they lack strategic thinking in terms of what they are going for and for what reason and how does that serve national interest in realistic terms?

MATTHEW CARNEY: The darker side to the organisation is to deny any wrongdoing in Japan’s war-time past. They assert World War II was one of defence, not aggression. They say comfort women were not sex slaves, but well-paid prostitutes and the rape and pillage of Nanjing in China that historians say killed up to 200,000 was a fiction.

HIDEAKI KASE: There was no massacre at all. That is an utterly false accusation.

KOICHI NAKANO: They try to rewrite history in order – and they think that this is fundamental to what they see as Japan’s need to restore pride. They think that because the kids and the – you know, the adults of Japan are being brainwashed by self-blame and a sense of shame in their history.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Many in Japan think Nippon Kaigi’s ideas are dangerous and have to be countered. Professor Setsu Kobayashi is one of the country’s top constitutional experts.

SETSU KOBAYASHI, CONSTITUTIONAL EXPERT (voiceover translation): They’re thinking about Asia before the war when Japan was the leader of Asia. They want to repeat that. They openly say that.

MATTHEW CARNEY: On his Friday lunchtime radio spot, he warns against reform of the Constitution, arguing it could lead Japan down the warpath. So far, Prime Minister Abe and Nippon Kaigi have succeeded in passing security bills that let the armed forces fight overseas again. Kobayashi says the move is unconstitutional.

SETSU KOBAYASHI (voiceover translation): The majority of people are not convinced. We have to fight and not give up, otherwise we’ll live under a dictatorship. Freedom and democracy will not exist.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Professor Kobayashi was once a member of Nippon Kaigi, but is now one of its biggest critics. He tried to change them from the inside, but couldn’t. As a self-described commoner, he says the organisation is one of elites, out of touch with the people. Polls consistently show that the majority of Japanese don’t want the country’s pacifist constitution to change.

SETSU KOBAYASHI (voiceover translation): They want to achieve the dream that Japan pursued pre-war to be one of the top five military powers in the world. To enable this, our country will go around the world fighting wars alongside the Americans. Mr Abe went to the United Nations and said that Japan will seek aggressive peace; militarism is another name.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Professor Kobayashi now devotes much of his time fighting the Nippon Kaigi and the reform of the Constitution. He believes it’s a battle for the very hearts and minds of the Japanese and the outcome will decide the country’s future. The Nippon Kaigi say their ambition is to simply protect Japan and its identity.

AKIRA MOMOCHI (voiceover translation): It is a difference of opinion. We want to retain the Japanese traditions, to make Japan as it should be. We have the power to do it.

ENDS

Asahi: Survey: Discrimination encountered by 42% of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward; Asahi wants NJ resident opinions

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Hi Blog.  The Asahi Shinbun recently has been doing specials on NJ as residents of Japan (another positive step towards situating them in Japan and humanizing them properly).  First, they do some assessments of the problems of discrimination, then they ask for feedback from NJ readers (“The Asahi Shimbun is also seeking opinions from foreign residents about life in Japanese communities at the AJW website. Please send in your contributions in English to asahi_forum@asahi.com”) and give it in follow-up articles (such as the fluff piece on “Do as the Romans do” also included below).  At least somebody is broaching the possibilities of immigration and assimilation.

Debito.org Readers, please feel free to take up the Asahi’s invitation.  Many of you are already, like it or not, Visible Minorities.  Now be Visible Residents.  And I hope that the GOJ expands its discrimination surveys beyond Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, nationwide.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Survey: Discrimination encountered by 42% of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward
Asahi Shinbun, January 25, 2016, courtesy of JK
By YURI IMAMURA/ Staff Writer
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201601250038

Around 42.3 percent of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward “often” or “sometimes” feel discriminated against by Japanese people, particularly during searches for a home, a survey showed.

In comparison, 47.2 percent of non-Japanese in the ward said they “never” or “not too often” experience such discrimination, according to the survey by the Shinjuku Ward government.

The situation most cited for prejudice or discrimination against foreign residents was “when they were searching for a place to live,” at 51.9 percent, followed by “when they were working,” at 33.2 percent, and “when they were going through procedures at a public agency,” at 25.6 percent.

Around 38,000 foreign residents make up 11 percent of Shinjuku Ward’s population.

The ward sent questionnaires to 7,000 randomly selected foreign and Japanese residents listed in the Basic Resident Register last summer for the Survey on Multicultural Living in Shinjuku Ward. It received responses from about 2,000 residents through autumn.

A total of 22.1 percent of the Japanese residents said that having foreign neighbors is “favorable” or “relatively favorable,” surpassing the 16.9 percent who said it is “unfavorable” or “relatively unfavorable.”

The Japanese respondents, however, cited various concerns about having foreign neighbors.

Some 47.6 percent of the Japanese said, “I am worried about how they would take out the garbage,” followed by 35.4 percent who said, “I am worried about loud voices and other noises from their rooms.”

On the positive side, 28.1 percent of the Japanese respondents said having foreign neighbors “would help me take an interest in foreign countries,” while 26.7 percent said it “would help increase my chances to experience foreign cultures.”

Asked what is most needed to eliminate prejudice and discrimination, 50.7 percent of the Japanese said “accepting the different lifestyles of each other.”

AJW is also seeking views from foreign residents about life in Japanese communities.

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TO OUR READERS: AJW seeks views from foreign residents about life in Japanese communities
January 08, 2016, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201601080088

Opening up Japan to more immigrants has been proposed to deal with demographic problems facing Japan, including a declining and graying population.

But that option raises the question of whether Japanese communities are prepared to allow more foreign residents into their neighborhoods.

That is why the AJW site wants to hear from foreign residents of Japan as part of a project being organized by The Asahi Shimbun.

The vernacular Asahi is planning a weekly series of special pages on the theme of Japanese and foreigners living in the same community. The series is scheduled to begin in late January and will run in the weekend issues of the Asahi.

A main objective of the special pages will be to determine what factors help or stand in the way of Japanese who live in neighborhoods with an increasing number of foreign residents.

Special pages in the past have dealt with various themes, and the views sent in by readers were the main material used in putting together the pages.

For the new theme that will begin in January, the pages will again consist mainly of the views and opinions sent in by Japanese readers.

But to provide a different perspective on the issue, we are also interested in hearing from foreign residents to get their side of the story.

We would like to hear about your experiences in living in Japanese communities, your interactions with your neighbors as well as comparisons with life in your native land or in other nations where you may have once lived.

The contributions sent in by foreign residents will be used to shed a different light on interactions between Japanese and foreign residents in various communities.

Please send in your contributions in English to asahi_forum@asahi.com

We ask that you also include your name and a contact number in case reporters at the Asahi wish to make further contact to ask you questions.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
ENDS

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Asahi readers weigh in on ‘do as the Romans do’ in Japan for foreign residents
January 26, 2016
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201601260001

Asahi Shimbun readers are divided over whether foreign nationals living in Japan should “do as the Romans do” to assimilate in this multicultural age.

With the number of foreign residents hitting a record high of 2.17 million as of June 2015, many readers referred to the positive contributions that non-Japanese can make to their communities, while others were concerned about cultural friction and deteriorating public safety.

A central issue was whether foreign nationals need to embrace the “do as the Romans do” approach to become fully functioning members of their communities.

Younger generations, citing growing globalization, said such a mentality was counterproductive.

Of 699 people who responded to an online questionnaire posted in early January, 495 said as of Jan. 21 that a society with a sizable foreign community will inevitably be multicultural where people with diverse cultural backgrounds and values live harmoniously.

Respondents are allowed to pick multiple answers.

In 465 cases, respondents said such a multicultural society will provide greater opportunities for members to learn and experience different languages and cultures.

However, 371 agreed that a multicultural society could create cultural friction over language and lifestyle differences, while 275 voiced concern that accepting a huge influx of immigrants could have a major impact on public safety.

Of the 699 respondents, 335 said they feel very familiar brushing shoulders with foreign residents and 197 said they are somewhat familiar with foreigners, while 124 said they are not very familiar, followed by 43 people who said they are not at all familiar with foreigners.

The survey also collected opinion letters, and readers turned out to be divided over what attitude foreign nationals should adopt in order to become fully functioning members of Japanese society.

A woman in her 50s from Osaka Prefecture said foreign nationals should adopt the “do as the Romans do” mentality and respect Japanese laws, culture and customs if they want to create symbiotic relations with Japanese.

“I believe the ‘do as the Romans do’ attitude is essential for anyone to live in a foreign country, and I would like to ask how many foreigners came to Japan with the idea of respecting Japanese culture in such a manner,” the woman wrote.

A respondent from Tokyo in her 40s said that “if a foreigner chooses to live in Japan, he or she must at least have respect for Japanese culture and manners.”

However, she added that “I think the time is ripe for Japanese people to reform their island-nation mentality, which tends to exclude outsiders.”

“I myself need to keep an open mind to build friendly relations with foreign residents,” she wrote.

A man from Kyoto in his 20s also argued that requiring all members in society to adopt a “do as the Romans do” attitude is obsolete in this era of globalization.

“Culture is a transient thing by nature, and globalization has made us live in a highly diversified world,” he said. “What we need to do is find ways for different cultures and value systems to coexist in harmony.”

Sam Teckenbrock, a 58-year-old U.S.-born resident of Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, who has served as chairman of the local neighborhood association for the past seven years, said foreigners certainly need to develop the “do as the Romans do,” although he concede it was very frustrating for him trying to become accustomed to Japanese culture at first.

“Japanese are tactful as to what they say on the surface and what they truly mean, and it confused me a lot, but I eventually learned that speaking this way is partly meant to avoid hurting another person’s feelings,” he said.

“I don’t think it is difficult at all for Japanese and foreigners to live together in harmony when they candidly tell each other things they could not comprehend and try to understand each other in person.”

* * *

The Asahi Shimbun is also seeking opinions from foreign residents about life in Japanese communities at the AJW website. Please send in your contributions in English to asahi_forum@asahi.com

My Japan Times JBC 95, “Osaka’s move on hate speech should be just the first step” Feb. 1, 2016

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Hi Blog. Here is my Japan Times Just Be Cause column 95 on hate speech legislation in Japan. Thanks once again for sending it to #1 again on the Japan Times Online! Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

“Osaka’s move on hate speech should be just the first step”
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito, Just Be Cause column 95 for the Japan Times Community Page
The Japan Times, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016

On Jan. 15, the Osaka Prefectural Assembly passed the first local ordinance against hate speech in Japan. JBC sees this as a step in the right direction.

Until now, there was no way to define what “hate speech” was, let alone take any measures against it. Defining a problem is fundamental to finding a solution.

Moreover, passing an ordinance makes a general statement to society that the existence of hate speech is not only undeniable but also impermissible. This matters, given Japan’s high tolerance for racist outbursts from public officials, and clear cases of bullying and intimidation that have otherwise been protected under “freedom of speech” (genron no jiyuu). Osaka has made it clearer that there is a limit to what you can say about groups of people in public.

However, this still isn’t quite at the stage where Osaka can kvell. There are no criminal or financial penalties for haters. An earlier version of the ordinance offered victims financial assistance to take their case to court, but that was cut to get it passed. Also, an adjudicating committee (shinsa-kai) can basically only “name and shame” haters by warning and publicizing them on a government website — in other words, it can officially frown upon them.

Even the act of creating a law against hate speech has invited criticism for opening up potential avenues to policymaker abuse. They have a point: tampering with freedom of speech invites fears, quite reasonably, about slippery slopes to censorship. So let’s address the niggling question right now: Should there ever be limits put on what you can say?

JBC argues yes…

Read the rest in the Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/01/31/issues/osakas-move-hate-speech-just-first-step/

JT on corporate threats to student activists’ futures (SEALDs in particular); this is probably why they suddenly turned craven

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Hi Blog. One particular topic Debito.org has not touched upon enough is activism in general by liberal-minded students, in particular the group attracting much attention called Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs). I have only mentioned them here and in my year-end round up of the Top Ten Human Rights Issues for 2015 for the Japan Times (I placed them at #6), where I wrote:

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“On the other hand, the most high-profile youth group against the Abe Cabinet’s right-wing push (and darling of the international media), the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs), decided to flame out with flair. At an news conference in October at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, SEALDs leaders announced that with their impending graduation from college, they wouldn’t just be stepping down in 2016 as organizers — they would disband the group without a transition to a younger generation.

“Coming off as more concerned with their own short-term individual interests than the larger movements within Japanese society, SEALDs seemed to show that even Japan’s most vibrant, cosmopolitan and appealing young activists (which matters, as this year the voting age will drop from 20 to 18) are nonetheless intimidated by power, and treat human rights advocacy as a temporary hobby.”
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While I am not changing my position regarding the cravenness of SEALDs organizers, let’s be fair. They have been overtly threatened by authority. Check out this article from last August. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Should SEALDs student activists worry about not getting hired?
BY HIFUMI OKUNUKI
THE JAPAN TIMES, AUG 30, 2015

Summer 2015 — 70 years since Japan’s defeat in World War II. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling coalition have rammed two security bills through the Lower House that overturn decades of interpretation of the Constitution by enabling Japan to engage in collective self-defense. Now he hopes to do the same in the Upper House.

Opposition to the government’s aggressive push to loosen restrictions on the use of military force is being heard from many corners. The beacon for students opposing the bills has been the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy, or SEALDs. Under the slogan of protecting “freedom, peace and democracy,” these students have loudly voiced their opposition to the government’s push for militarization at protests around the country.

SEALDs have put paid to two tired tropes that have been regularly trotted out over the years about Japan’s students: first, that they have no interest in politics, and second, that student social movements here are a thing of the past. Inspired by SEALDs, even high schoolers and mothers who had never before engaged in social activism have taken to the streets to demand that our country commit to never again waging war, and that our youths are never asked to kill those of other countries. Jumping on the bandwagon have been the elderly, under the collective banner of OLDs, and even the middle-aged, or MIDDLEs.

This resolute, relentless movement has already begun to have a clear impact on our society. The recent drop in support for the Abe government is at least in part a result of grass-roots movements such as SEALDs. One Liberal Democratic Party member of the Lower House tweeted: “SEALDs members just don’t want to go off to war, i.e., their actions are based on extreme selfishness.”

But if these youths were only thinking of themselves, would they really be engaged in a collective social movement like SEALDs? Also, the idea that not wanting to go off to war is “selfish” is itself a serious attack on individual thought and freedom of conscience. It reminds me of the totalitarianism that prevailed before the war, and I was shocked to hear a modern-day politician utter such a comment. I assumed he must be some old fogey, so when I discovered it was 36-year-old Takaya Muto, I was flabbergasted.

The fact that a lawmaker would use such extremist language perhaps offers some insight into the extent of panic within the LDP at SEALDs’ growing strength. The comment caused quite a stir. That and some alleged financial shenanigans led to Muto’s resignation from the LDP on Aug. 19.

For politicians chomping at the bit to deploy Japan’s forces overseas, SEALDs are apparently quite an irritant. An independent member of the Yukuhashi city assembly in Fukuoka Prefecture also stuck his foot firmly in his mouth when he riffed on a comment by one SEALDs member that “we tremble at the thought of going to war.” Shinya Kotsubo parodied it on his blog on July 26, titling his article “SEALDs members should tremble at the thought that they’ll never get a job.” He explained further, writing, “You are demonstrating now while you’re students, so don’t come crying when no one will hire you later on.”

“When companies scout for students,” he elaborated, “they look at the name of the university. They don’t look at the students themselves. All the power lies in the side that selects. … Since the corporation is the one that selects, everything must follow the company’s rules and interests. This is reality.

“To give a specific example, say a sports club becomes involved in a rape scandal. The university’s reputation is damaged and it affects all students. The rapists’ reputations are of course damaged, but the university is also seen as ‘that kind of university.’ The fellow students who were unable to prevent such a scandal become tainted as people who would be likewise unable or unwilling to protect the reputation of the company. So there would be no reason to hire such a student.

“The university’s reputation was not built by the current student body. Since it was not acquired by current students, they have no right to protest. … This reputation was a gift given to current students from their seniors who have already graduated and gone out into the world, making a name for the university. If they damage the reputation of the university to which they belong, it’s obvious how things are going to play out. We should do everything possible to eliminate the risk of this. A corporation should not be asked to shoulder such a risk to its reputation.

“Careers begin with an offer from a corporation, but it’s already too late for that. The result is that they will all be shot down. Some students are at prestigious schools such as Waseda or Keio University. These students are probably OK since many famous politicians, police and bureaucrats are from there. Selection takes precedence in all cases, so the impact on these students will only be slight. However, students at universities with little power, history or tradition won’t be so lucky. They will not be selected and as a result, all will be eliminated. I have even heard of cases where the professors join the demos and egg on their students.”

To sum up, Kotsubo says: 1) Corporations have all the power over whether to hire; 2) when hiring, corporations place great weight on the reputation of an applicant’s university and don’t really look at the students themselves; 3) if the university’s brand name is hurt, all students attending that university lose credibility; 4) students engaged in social movements are damaging the brand value of their universities; 5) the risk for students at prestigious colleges like Waseda and Keio is slight, but students at less prestigious schools are a write-off (i.e., They will never get a job); and 6) I am saying all this for the benefit of students, but the most guilty are the professors who encourage students to protest without warning them of the risks.

Let’s examine Kotsubo’s rant from the perspective of labor law…

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/08/30/issues/sealds-student-activists-worry-not-getting-hired/