DEBITO.ORG POLL: “For Readers married to a Japanese, how often on average do you have sex with your spouse?”

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog. At the suggestion of one of our Debito.org Readers, following my most recent Japan Times column on the subject of sexuality in Japan, I have created a DEBITO.ORG POLL (see right hand column under my book illustration) asking:

“For Readers married to a Japanese, how often on average do you have sex?” (with your spouse, you wiseacres!)

The options are:

  • More than once a week.
  •  About once a week.
  •  Less than once a week but more than once a month.
  •  About once a month.
  •  Less than once a month.

If this poll applies to you, please vote.  See right hand column on this blog page under my IN APPROPRIATE book illustration.  Your answers strictly confidential, of course.  Arudou Debito

DEBITO.ORG END-YEAR POLL: “What do you think are the top issues in 2010 that affected NJ in Japan?”

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. As part of the end-year roundup, here are a few issues I thought would be interesting for discussion. Looking back, what do you think are the most influential events that affected NJ in Japan? Here are some of ones I thought were noteworthy, in no particular order:

What do you think are the top issues in 2010 that affected NJ in Japan?

  • Far-rightists question credentials of DPJ reformists by claiming they have NJ roots
  • Suraj Case of death during deportation
  • Long-dead Centenarians still registered as alive (yet NJ remain unregistered)
  • Nursing program only passes three NJ after two years
  • Hunger strike at Ibaraki Prison
  • GOJ apologizes to Korea for prewar annexation
  • “My Darling is a Foreigner” becomes a movie
  • Sumo Association decides to count naturalized wrestlers as still foreign
  • UN Rapporteur Jorge Bustamante’s critical Japan visit
  • NJ PR Suffrage Bill goes down in flames
  • Zaitokukai far-rightists get arrested for property damage to Zainichis
  • Child Abductions issue gathers steam with governments abroad, GOJ eyes Hague
  • The Cove engenders protests, get limited screenings anyway
  • Japan’s Kokusei Chousa pentennial census goes multilingual
  • Tokyo Police spying on Muslims
  • Futenma issue, with USG jerking GOJ’s chain
  • Renho becomes first multiethnic Cabinet member
  • Toyota’s mishandling of their runaway car recall, blaming foreign components and culture
  • Oita court ultimately rules that NJ have no rights to J pensions
  • Tourist visas eased for Chinese and Indians
  • Health insurance requirement removed from visa renewals

and/or

  • Something else

(Please tell us what you think got left out in the Comments Section below)

Please vote for three (we’ll get a decent average that way through the overlap) in the Polls section on the right-hand column of this blog.  Thanks.

If you’re celebrating, Merry Christmas Eve and Day, Debito.org Readers!  Arudou Debito

The Independent (UK) on Japan’s rising nationalism as Japan slips in world rankings

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s another article from David McNeill on how the power shift in Asia is fueling domestic xenophobic jingoism.  Although we’ve seen far too much coverage of this raving right-wingnut Sakurai in recent months, the point is still valid that people here are feeling (or at least the domestic media is promoting the feeling) that Japan is being squeezed by emerging neighboring economic powers.  How that will affect Japan’s treatment of its NJ residents is something Debito.org and journalist contributors should keep an eye on.  (A recent Debito.org Poll, currently fifth from the top, indicates that Readers don’t think it will matter much. Hope so.)  Arudou Debito on his way to JALT Nagoya

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

The Independent, November 5, 2010
Japan: The land of the rising nationalism
By David McNeill
The emergence of China as an economic superpower is bringing out the jingoism in the Japanese

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/japan-the-land-of-the-rising-nationalism-2125690.html

Most Tokyo districts will fortunately never experience Makoto Sakurai and his noisy flag-waving mob. But the city’s normally quiet Moto-Azabu area is home to the Chinese embassy and there are few countries Sakurai hates more than China. His group’s favourite insult – directed at the embassy via megaphone – is shina-jin roughly equivalent to “chink”.

“The Chinese are making fools of us,” said Sakurai, a baby-faced 30-something and the unlikely ringleader of what one academic calls: “Japan’s fiercest and most dangerous hate group today.” Like many nationalists, he is infuriated by what he sees as Chinese expansionism.

“If Japan had any guts, it would stand up to them,” he said.

Two decades ago, Japan was the rising Asian upstart that was barging its way on to the world’s front pages. “We are virtually at the mercy of the Japanese,” The LA Times famously blared in 1989, after a slew of high-profile takeovers by Japanese companies. Now it’s faltering Japan’s turn to tremble at the power of foreign capital; Chinese capital.

Japan’s conservative media have been sounding alarm bells all year as the rumblings from China’s economic juggernaut grow louder. In a 24-page feature in March, the right-wing Sapio magazine warned that China is set to “buy up Japan”, noting how Chinese conglomerates are gobbling up real estate and forests and even eyeing uninhabited islands around Japan’s coast. Another magazine ran a front-page story titled “Your next boss could be Chinese”.

Japan’s insecurity at its reduced status has been hammered home this week in a dispute with another neighbour. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s decision to visit one of four islands off northern Japan, seized by Moscow after the Second World War, was called “regrettable” by Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Sakurai’s followers were more blunt – and bitter. “Russia and China are both taking advantage of Japan’s weakness,” said one. “China has a dagger pointed at Japan’s heart – what are we going to do about it?”

The disputes could not have come at a worse time. The summer news that China overtook Japan as the world’s No 2 economy – a position Japan had held for four decades – has sparked painful soul-searching in a country that was once seen as a serious economic rival to America. Indications of Japan’s decline are all around. Per capita GDP fell from fourth in the world in 2001 to 22nd last year. Its share of global production has fallen below 10 per cent for the first time since 1982; its economy grew by a pallid 0.8 per cent in the decade till 2009. After years of government pump priming, public debt approaches 200 per cent of GDP – the worst in the developed world.

Blue-chip firms like Sony and Hitachi have lost their lustre. Last year’s decision by Toyota, once the gold standard of manufacturing, to eventually recall 14 million cars seemed symbolic of a faltering global brand – Japan Inc. Yasuchika Hasegawa, president of Takeda Chemicals, summed up Japan’s sense of crisis this year when he said: “We need a new vision or we face the decline of our nation.”

Japan is still struggling to deal with the fallout from a separate territorial dispute with Beijing over the Senkaku (as they are known in Japan) or Daiyou (as they are known in China) islands. China pressured Tokyo into releasing the captain of a fishing boat that had collided with a coastguard vessel in waters claimed by Japan, in part by choking off supplies of rare earth minerals – vital for the electronics industry. The timing of the maritime spat confirmed some fears that China’s expanding economic clout is increasingly matched by political and military muscle.

“Lots of nations disagree, but it doesn’t get down to an eyeball-to-eyeball game of chicken,” says Jeff Kingston, a China expert in Temple University Japan. “It’s about the huge shift of power from Japan toward China over the last 15 years.

“It’s about who gets to call the shots in Asia – the US or China and China is saying it wants a bigger say and the key issue is for the US to decide if it wants to cede more space to them – and history is not littered with good examples of that.”

All of which could be used to paint a very bleak picture of one of the planet’s most important bilateral relationships, were it not for cold economic facts. China gobbled up a record 19 per cent of Japan’s total exports last year, while Japan in turn bought 22 per cent of its imports from China. Two decades of often bit

ter disputes over history, territory and politics have failed to knock the onward march of economic progress off course: China last year overtook the US to become Japan’s most important trading partner.

In Tokyo’s upscale Matsuzakaya department store, a couple of miles from where Sakurai and his supporters shout racist-tinged invective at the Chinese embassy, a very different picture of Sino-Japan relations is on show. Like thousands of Japanese businesses struggling with inert domestic demand, this crusty shopping landmark is turning its gaze to an alluring new customer and as such has had to hire Mandarin-speaking staff to deal with the influx of Chinese customers. “They turn their noses up at Chinese-made goods,” explains Le Hui, one of the new assistants. “They want Japanese and European brands.”

Long seen by Japanese companies as a source of cheap labour, China is increasingly now a market for tourism and finished Japanese products. For China, meanwhile, Japan is not only an important market but a source of advanced technologies and investment. “For China to continue along its path of development, it needs a peaceful environment and a good relationship with Japan,” says Zhu Jianrong, a professor of international relations at Tokyo’s Toyo Gakuen University, who is optimistic the current tension can be overcome.

Still, the political impact of Japan’s growing despondency is unpredictable as it adapts, sometimes uncomfortably, to the growing Chinese bulk. One ominous route for frustrations was on display after the freeing of the Chinese captain, which was greeted with fury by Sakurai and some 3,000 other nationalists, who protested at the Chinese embassy.

The Yukan Fuji tabloid newspaper branded the release dogeza gaiko – appeasement diplomacy; Tokyo’s right-wing governor Shintaro Ishihara said the Chinese were acting like “gangsters” and that it was time for Japan to seriously consider developing nuclear weapons. One hero of the neo-nationalist movement, Toshio Tamogami – a sacked former air force general – even floated the possibility of war. The end result was to “increase Japanese insecurity on the one hand and greater dependency on the US on the other,” points out Mark Selden, a veteran Japan-watcher based at Cornell University in the US. That twin-punch deals a serious blow to what was once seen as a potentially promising initiative of the centre-left Democrat (DPJ) government.

The previous prime minister Yukio Hatoyama flirted with what he dubbed Yuai – a fraternal relationship with old enemy China that could have brought both sides closer: more political and cultural exchanges, an EU-style Asian market, even a military alliance were discussed.

With Hatoyama gone and both sides again in the political trenches, that initiative seems for now to be dead in the water. Prime Minister Kan, under fire for his handling of both the Chinese and Russian disputes, is suffering the consequences with approval ratings now below 40 per cent. Old rivals like former prime Minister Shinzo Abe are making political hay, advocating a much tougher diplomatic line in street protests and editorials.

Even mainstream publications like the Nikkei business daily are fuelling anti-Chinese sentiment, airing speculation – unproven – that Chinese cash is buying up Japanese land as a hedge against future food shortages at home. Conservative publications have honed in on the scenic area around Lake Kawaguchi, close to national icon Mt Fuji, where Chinese investors this year snapped up 17 luxury houses. Sakurai’s group, the Citizens League to Deny Resident Foreigners Special Rights, is far to the right of the mainstream press advocating, among other things, the expulsion of long-term Chinese residents and a beefed-up military.

But he believes the political tide is turning his way. “Japan has been asleep for a long time,” he says. “It’s time we woke up.”
ENDS

“The Cove” Taiji Dolphin protesters cancel local demo due to potential Rightist violence

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. I got the following from the organizers of demonstrations against dolphin slaughters in Taiji, Wakayama (subject of documentary “The Cove”). Comment follows:

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

Posted By: Fonda Berosini
To: Members in “The Cove” – Save Japan Dolphins
UPDATE: Sept.1 Taiji events cancelled
Received August 20, 2010

For several important reasons, we have decided to cancel our plans in Taiji, Japan for Sept. 1st (the first day of the annual dolphin slaughter.)

Most importantly, we received word that an extreme nationalist group known to be violent is set to confront us in Taiji. Our work in Japan has never been about physical confrontation. Since “The Cove” premiered in theaters earlier this Summer, we believe we are making progress by bringing the truth to the people of Japan about the dolphin slaughter and about mercury-poisoned dolphin meat in markets. We will not play the game that the nationalist groups want us to play – we will not have it become “us versus them.”

“We” are now more than 1.6 million people from 153 countries, including Japan. The militant nationalist groups may gather as they like in Taiji; we will be elsewhere in Japan, talking to the media, explaining the problem, and making sure the public understands that we are not there to fight, but to work together.

I know some will be disappointed, but I really think we can do better elsewhere at this time. Please know that I’m not concerned about my own safety, however many supporters – some from this Cause – are planning to join us, and I won’t risk their well being.

We will not abandon the dolphins in trouble in Taiji and other fishing villages. In fact, moving the event will allow us to show the full scope of the problem. Several other communities along the coast of Japan have dolphin kills, although most have abandoned the drive fishery that was depicted in The Cove. And there is also the broader issue of captivity. We would like to discuss these issues in a neutral, conflict-free environment.

Thanks for your understanding. To follow our next steps in Japan, I invite you to check my blog:

http://www.savejapandolphins.org/blog.html

Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT: Debito.org is following this case with interest because it offers one template for activism in Japan (a society that in my view eschews activism of this sort because historically it has been associated with extremism).  The outcome of this case, with so much time, effort, and publicity invested, will of course affect the efficacy of future grassroots protests in Japan.

The development above has stirred mixed feelings in me because:

1) The decision to cancel and move elsewhere the demonstration is understandable because we don’t want violence to mar the demos (and I think some of the groups will make good on their threat of violence — the Japanese police have a habit of not stopping public violence if it’s inflicted by the Right Wing: examples herehere, here, and within the movie Yasukuni).  Only a violence-free demo will reassure an already tetchy Japanese public that not all demonstrators are extremists.  One would need the non-violence discipline and training of MLK’s followers in places like Birmingham and Selma; when faced with biting police dogs and fire hoses, they managed to keep cool heads and evoke public sympathy.  Thanks to the media, of course, who published photographs showing who the one-sided perpetrators of violence were.  There is no guarantee of that in the Japanese media (no doubt there would be plenty of domestic outlets either trying to create faux balance by finding fault with both sides, or just saying that the intruders were there making trouble).

but

2) In principle, giving in to bullies only makes them stronger, and if the Rightists are able to deter demos in Taiji by threatening violence, then what’s to stop them from threatening the same elsewhere, especially given the anti-Leftist/anti-intruder police and media sympathies I mentioned above?  Whenever any group is able to successfully hold public safety hostage, violence (or the threat of it) will in fact be more encouraged.  Where the demo lines can be drawn, especially in a society that needs police and community permission to even hold a public rally outdoors, will be perpetually gray.  So why not draw them in Taiji?

This is just an internal debate I have going on inside of me.  What do others think?  It’s been one hot summer this year, let’s hope cooler heads prevail and nobody gets hurt.  Arudou Debito on vacation.

PS:  I’ve put this question up as a blog poll, in the right-hand column of any blog page.  Let us know what you think.

Debito.org Blog Poll: What do you consider the TOP THREE NJ human rights events of 2009 in Japan? (More in Japan Times Jan 5)

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Happy New Year, Blog.  As a smaller post to start off 2010, let me ask readers what they think the most important NJ human rights events (I won’t say “advances”, as I consider 2009 to be pretty mixed) were last year?  I’ve put them as a blog poll on the right so you can vote (choose three), but below are the ones that come to my mind, in no particular order (if you think I’ve missed any, Comments Section).

I’ll be ranking them myself in my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out January 5, so have a read!  Thanks for reading and supporting Debito.org, everyone.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

  1. The Nikkei “Repatriation Bribe”
  2. The election of the DPJ and concomitant hopes
  3. The Savoie Child Abduction Case
  4. The forthcoming IC Chips in Gaijin Cards
  5. “Newcomer” Permanent Residents outnumbering “Oldcomer” Zainichi PRs
  6. The Calderon Noriko Case
  7. Police arresting a 74-yr-old US tourist for carrying a pocket knife
  8. Ichihashi Tatsuya’s arrest for the Hawker Murder
  9. “The Cove” documentary exposing Wakayama dolphin slaughters
  10. NJ also to be listed on Juuminhyou Residency Certificates
  11. McDonald’s Japan’s gaijin shill “Mr James”
  12. Sakanaka’s proposals for an Immigration Ministry et al
  13. NOVA boss Saruhashi getting 3.5 years for embezzlement
  14. Roppongi police street testing NJ urine for drugs
  15. Sakai Noriko pinning her drug issues on NJ dealers
  16. Pothead Sumo wrestlers
  17. Something else
  18. Don’t know / Can’t say / Don’t care etc.

ENDS

New Debito.org Poll: “What are the TOP THREE things you think the DPJ should do policywise for NJ in Japan? (choose up to 3)”

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  In part two of a series polling what the new DPJ Administration should do regarding making life in Japan better for NJ residents, I have offered a second Debito.org poll at top right column, “What are the TOP THREE things you think the DPJ should do policywise for NJ in Japan? (choose up to 3)”, with some choices you might find delectable.

It offers the same options in the same order as the previous poll (archived here, and you can still vote on that, too), except that one only wanted the polled to chose ONE option (since politicians have trouble working on more than one than one track at a time).  Now with THREE choices, we should be able to see better overlaps and midpoints, and perhaps get a better sense of what concerned readers of Debito.org think the GOJ should do for us.  G’wan, let us know what you think!  Thanks.  Debito in Sapporo

Terrie’s Take on Golden Week (2008 and 2009)

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog and Happy Start of Golden Week.  I have a new blog poll up on the right-hand side of every blog page, and here’s some background information on the issue.  Two Terrie’s Takes, one from last week, one from last year (which is a bit of a time capsule as it’s pre-economic crisis).  Enjoy.  Debito in Sapporo, who is not traveling.

* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E ‘S T A K E * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.

(http://www.terrie.com)

General Edition Sunday, Apr 26, 2009 Issue No. 515
-> Possible holiday reform

The central government is reportedly looking at modifying
the dates of some public holidays, so as to ensure that
they fall on days that allow 3-day weekends and thus
encourage employees to take time off work and travel with
their families. To ensure that Dads actually do take off
their extra days of leave — which currently they don’t 50%
of the time, the government is also considering changing
accounting rules so that any unused employee leave will
have to be accounted for as a liability, and be financially
provisioned for in company accounts. ***Ed: This is a great
idea, and will certainly make companies more interested in
having their staff actually take time off.** (Source: TT
commentary from nikkei.co.jp, Apr 21, 2009)

http://www.nni.nikkei.co.jp/e/fr/tnks/Nni20090421DA1J4211.htm

* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E ‘S T A K E * * * * * * *

General Edition Sunday, April 27, 2008 Issue No. 467
www.terrie.com

Here we are at the start of what normally for many is one of their longest holiday breaks — Golden Week (“Renkyu”). But not this year — as neither of the two weeks that the holidays occur in provides workers more than 2 days off. Normally, the 4 days: Showa Day, Constitution Day, Greenery Day, and Children’s Day would generate a string of holidays up to 7 or 8 days long, but because this year two of the days fall on the weekend, we only get a single compensation day on Tuesday, May 6th. Next year is better, we get 5 consecutive days.

This hasn’t deterred a number of traditional companies from going ahead and giving their employees some extra time off — so next week it will be hard to order anything from factories or service companies. We know because we just tried to get a new TV installed. No way Jose, we’ll have to wait until at least May 7th or 8th — ten days from now.

But while some lucky workers are getting a couple of bonus days off, most are not. This is apparently the main reason why the number of tourists expected to travel overseas this Golden Week is likely to fall almost 15% from last year, to 458,000 people. This is the biggest drop since 2003, when SARs scared everyone into staying home. SARs of course is just a faded memory (other than the government which has a stock pile of 35m doses of Tamiflu), and this year, 269,000 people will still make the pilgramage to Hong Kong, South Korea, and/or China.

But it seems that there are other factors besides the scattered nature of the holidays which are keeping the Japanese at home during Golden Week, 2008.

As far as Asia is concerned, the Japanese are a relatively peripatetic nation, with around 17m people making overseas trips and 22m taking domestic holidays in 2007. This is equivalent to 32% of all its citizens taking a holiday away from home at least once a year. Golden Week is a particularly important travel period economically. Destinations like Hawaii receive about 458,000 Japanese tourists a year, and about 1/3 of them travel during Golden Week, spending an average US$269 a day, almost double the US$169 Americans from the mainland spend.

Those who don’t go overseas instead journey to Tokyo and other major centers to shop. Last year 1.5m people visited the then-new Mitsui Midtown shopping/office complex in Roppongi. Department stores such as Daimaru saw shopper numbers rise by around 12%. Taxi company Nihon Kotsu had its fare earnings increase by JPY1,300 per cab, due to customers making round trips to Haneda airport and the city. In Osaka, sales at the Namba Parks entertainment complex soared 170%.

Some of the reasons that JTB, Japan’s largest travel agency, is giving for the international tourist drop-off this year include the higher fuel surcharges, adding up to 10% to ticket prices; the Chinese gyoza food scare; and just the simple lack of holiday budget by families and younger people who have historically flocked to Hawaii and other international destinations.

This last point is in our minds probably the biggest factor affecting travel statistics in general — not just international travel. Although one would think that the 13% revaluation of the yen versus the dollar would make Hawaii and similar dollar-tied destinations a lot more attractive, it seems that the cloud of pessimism which has been hanging over the Japanese economy since the subprime news started breaking last summer, is still very much affecting the moods of both employers and workers alike.

As polls are showing, the average Japanese appears to be very concerned about their overall future — the Cabinet Office’s March consumer confidence poll showed that just 36.5% of households in the period January-March were confident about the future, the lowest level of confidence since June 2003, when it was 36.1%. A reading of less than 50% indicates a general mood of pessimism in the nation. So, perhaps it is natural that people are less likely than ever to want to lay out thousands of dollars on a trip when doing so might create a shortfall in their budget if the prices continue to rise.

And this is not a new trend. Overseas travel has dropped each year over the last two years, and has only just barely retraced the levels of pre-SARs 2002. However, whereas in previous years falling international travel was offset by local visits to onsen and tourist spots around the country, this year JTB is also forecasting a slight drop in domestic tourists, to 21.44m people. Gunma reckons its visitor numbers to onsen this year will be down around 5%.

The feeling of pessimism (or realism?) is nowhere more pronounced than amongst young adults in their 20’s. While in 1996, around 4.63m people in this age group traveled overseas, in 2006, only 2.98m did — a fall of 35.7%. This huge drop can be explained by simple economics. Although the job market is tight, companies are not opening their purse strings to employees — they’re scared too, and thus real income for workers in their 20’s has dropped almost yearly since 2001. Recent inflation is speeding up this deficit. JTB says the average Japanese tourist spends about JPY214,000 on an overseas trip, and that is several thousand dollars more than a worried single is prepared to pay. Indeed, the Statistics Bureau gives the average 2006 disposable income of under-34’s, who have their own apartment as being just barely more than JPY20,000 (US$200) per month — hardly enough to do any travel on.

As a result, not just travel, but other forms of youth spending such as autos and alcohol have also dropped. According to a recent Nikkei article, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association says that the ratio of cars owned by young men in their 20s dropped from 81% in 1995 to 74% in 2005. Another survey found that single males 34 years or younger were last year spending 26% less on alcohol then they did in 2002.

So is there a silver lining to a slow golden holiday period? It seems there is. In 2002, the number of people killed in Golden Week accidents was 224, while last year, just five years later, 119 died this way. More notable was the fact that only 12 people died through drunk-driving accidents versus 29 in 2007.

Japan’s youth appear to becoming a generation of worried, sober bicycle and train riders, who stay at home or meet friends during Golden Week…
ENDS

Debito.org Poll on most important human rights advancement in 2008

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog.  Here is a good poll to round out the end of the year.  

What do you think is the most significant human rights advancement in Japan in 2008? (all issues on this blog)

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Vote at the blue right-hand corner of this blog page (i.e. not directly above–the click bubbles are purely cosmetic).  Do a keyword search within the Debito.org Blog if you want to know more about each issue (they’re all discussed).  

    If you think I’ve left something out, please add something in the Comments Section below…

    Finally, check out my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column due out January 6 (Jan 7 outside the metropolises) when I rank them in order of importance.  

    Yoi otoshi o, everyone, and thanks for reading and supporting Debito.org in 2008.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    Quick commentary on Oct 1-10 08 Debito.org poll on discriminatory language

    mytest

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

    Terms describing people in any language can be controversial. In your opinion, which ones, if any, of these words still in common use do you think are offensive and should be obsolesced over time?

    • Gaijin (62%, 143 Votes)
    • Haafu (44%, 101 Votes)
    • Sangokukjin (34%, 78 Votes)
    • Gaikokujin (25%, 58 Votes)
    • Shina (24%, 56 Votes)
    • I don't find any of the above words offensive. (18%, 42 Votes)
    • Shintai shougaisha (13%, 31 Votes)
    • Can't answer. (5%, 11 Votes)

    Total Voters: 230

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    BRIEF COMMENT:  I caution readers not to read too much into this poll.  It’s a select group of words to a (pretty) select readership.  But a point of clarification:

    People were allowed multiple entries, and the total number of voters was at poll closing 230 people.  This means that one person voting for, say, four responses, would give you four responses but still one voter.  (I tested it myself:  I put in four votes, and all four responses read 100%, but the total voters were only one.)  Which means that any percent you see by a response means total number of responses divided by the total number of voters.  This means, for example, 62% of all people who voted in this poll at all voted that they thought “gaijin” was an offensive word.

    With that in mind, a couple of possible interpretations:  

    Only one word was found by an absolute majority to be offensive, and that was “gaijin”.  The far second was “haafu” and then “sangokujin”.  More people thought “gaikokujin” was worse than “shina”, it seems.  

    There may have been some shortage of responses due to confusion over whether people could have voted for multiple options (I tried to put in “you can vote for more than one choice”, but it wouldn’t fit in the question’s word limit.)  But one response wouldn’t have that problem — people choosing “none of the above” (i.e. “I don’t find any of the above words offensive.”).  Surprisingly (given the very vocal protest over the arguments regarding my recent Japan Times essays on “gaijin”), a very small number (barely a fifth of the voters) chose that.

    Anyway, I will try to make it clear when you can vote for more than one option (please feel free to suggest improvements in the polling — that’s why this is a separate blog entry commentary), but do understand that the percents being represented take into account individual responses as a proportion of total voters, in any case.  FYI.  Thanks for participating.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    Query to Debito.org readers: Items for next Poll (Oct 1)

    mytest

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
    Hi Blog.  I have a query for you.  

    I’m designing our next Debito.org poll (due out Oct 1), thanks to a suggestion this afternoon from a commenter.  Regarding problematic words…

    Here’s how I’ve phrased the question so far:

    “Terms describing people in any language can be controversial. In your opinion, which one, if any, of these words still in common use do you think are offensive and should be obsolesced out over time?”

    It’ll be a poll where people can choose multiple answers, and the answers so far I’ve come up with are:

    • Gaijin,
    • Gaikokujin
    • Haafu
    • Shina
    • Sankokujin
    • Shintai Shougaisha
    • I don’t find any of these words offensive
    • Can’t answer

     

    Any other options people feel I should include? Please leave a suggestion in the comments section below.  We have six days. Thanks very much for your assistance!  Debito

    Results of our fourth poll: Do you think the word “gaijin” should be avoided (in favor of other words, like, say, gaikokujin)?

    mytest

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

    Do you think the word "gaijin" should be avoided (in favor of other words, like, say, gaikokujin)?

    • Yes. "Gaijin" has undesirable connotations. Period. (42%, 149 Votes)
    • Maybe, but it depends on whether the speaker is being derisive. (26%, 92 Votes)
    • No. The word "gaijin" is harmless. (25%, 90 Votes)
    • Maybe, but it depends on whether the listener finds it distasteful. (6%, 21 Votes)
    • Not sure/Can't answer/Wot's "gaijin"? (2%, 6 Votes)

    Total Voters: 358

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    COMMENT: I followed this poll in particular with interest, given my August 5, 2008 Japan Times column on this issue and the heavy debate in August over it.

    One thing I tried to do in this poll was 1) make options that everyone could answer, no exception, and 2) make them “bounded”, i.e. mutually exclusive so that people could only vote for one.

    (What I mean:  A Japan Times poll on the subject, in contrast, doesn’t do that as well:

    Poll results
    The results of a Japan Times Online poll conducted August 6-12.

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20080819zg.html

    For example, you could choose all of questions one, two, and three if you felt, “Yes, I am offended, I prefer ‘gaikokujin’, but it depends on who is saying it and how.”  Not mutually exclusive.)

    I also tried to show a clearer spectrum from top to bottom–avoid under all circumstances, it depends, don’t avoid, not sure.

    The result was still that most people (but not an absolute majority) thought the word “gaijin” should be avoided, due to unwelcome connotations.  Perhaps par for the course for Debito.org types of readers.

    It was an interesting poll to follow in real time.  For the first few days, the first choice, “Yes”, had an absolute majority of over 50%.  But as more voted, the “maybe, if derisive” and “no” responses whittled that down.  I was surprised at how few chose “maybe, depends on listener”.  Also interesting was how almost everyone had a clear opinion–almost nobody was neutral or unknowledgeable about the subject. 

    Again, as disclaimers keep pointing out, this is hardly anything scientifically “significant”–just a survey of readers who wished to vote.  Still, ten days and 358 respondents later, it’s a pretty good number.  Let’s see if we can keep the numbers growing in future polls with interesting questions.

    Next poll: Let’s try something less controversial.  Just got back from the US (coastal California), where the sun sets around 8PM or later most summer days.  Loved it.  And wish Japan would do the same (especially since Hokkaido is on the far east of our time zone, and we get sunrises at 4AM or so in June).  So what do you think about instituting Summer Time (DST) in Japan?  

    Arudou Debito

    Results of our third poll: Would you choose Japan as your permanent residence?

    mytest

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

    Would you choose Japan as your permanent residence?

    • Probably. I like it here in general. (31%, 79 Votes)
    • Probably not. For me, this place has more downs than ups. (20%, 52 Votes)
    • Absolutely. I would choose no other society. (14%, 37 Votes)
    • Indifferent. There are plenty of other countries out there. (13%, 34 Votes)
    • Absolutely not. This is not the place for me. (12%, 31 Votes)
    • Can't say yet. I haven't been here long enough. (5%, 14 Votes)
    • Huh? I haven't even been outside my home country yet! (4%, 9 Votes)

    Total Voters: 256

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    COMMENT:  Completing the trilogy of “life in Japan” polls, our first talked how easy Japan is as a place to live; the second how easy a place Japan is to work.  Regarding living in Japan, a clear majority–62%–indicated Japan is an easy place.  However, asking the question about Japan as a workplace elicited responses that were less clear.  Total 49% of 227 respondents leaned towards “difficult” or “very difficult”, whereas 31% leaned towards “easy” or “very easy”.  Of course, there are more factors at play (and less under the control of the individual) when it comes to workplace versus lifestyle.  So to me it is quite understandable that opinions would be more mixed.  See polls archive here.

    Now, putting the two together, how about making Japan your permanent residence?  The largest number of respondents, 45%, said they were rather or very inclined to live here.  That outnumbered those who were disinclined, which totaled 32%.  So on balance (but not a clear majority), given work/life parameters in Japan, Debito.org blog readers were prepared to stay.  Good.

    Again, as disclaimers keep pointing out, this is hardly anything scientifically “significant”–just a survey of readers who wished to vote.  

    Next poll:  Let’s deal with the recent firestorm about the word “Gaijin”, and see if readers think it is a word one should avoid using.

    Results of our second poll: In your opinion, is Japan an easy place to work?

    mytest

    In your opinion, is Japan an easy place to work?

    • On balance, Japan is a difficult place to work. (25%, 56 Votes)
    • No, Japan is a very difficult place to work. (24%, 55 Votes)
    • On balance, Japan is an easy place to work. (20%, 46 Votes)
    • I can't say either way. (12%, 27 Votes)
    • Yes, Japan is a very easy place to work. (11%, 24 Votes)
    • I've never worked in Japan. (8%, 19 Votes)

    Total Voters: 227

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    COMMENT:  As opposed to the previous poll, whether or not Japan is an easy place to live (a clear majority–62%–indicated it was), asking the question about Japan as a workplace elicited responses that were less clear.  Total 49% of 227 respondents leaned towards “difficult” or “very difficult”, whereas 31% leaned towards “easy” or “very easy”.  Of course, there are more factors at play (and less under the control of the individual) when it comes to workplace versus lifestyle.  So to me it is quite understandable that opinions would be more mixed.

    Again, as disclaimers keep pointing out, this is hardly anything scientifically “significant”–just a survey of readers who wished to vote.  

    Next poll:  Would you choose Japan as your permanent residence?  Let’s group the two previous questions together and draw a conclusion.  Debito

    Results of our first poll: In your opinion, is Japan an easy place to live?

    mytest

    In your opinion, is Japan an easy place to live?

    • On balance, Japan is an easy place to live. (48%, 71 Votes)
    • On balance, Japan is a difficult place to live. (16%, 23 Votes)
    • Japan is a very easy place to live. (13%, 19 Votes)
    • Japan is a very difficult place to live. (10%, 15 Votes)
    • I'm indifferent either way. (10%, 14 Votes)
    • I don't live in Japan. (3%, 5 Votes)

    Total Voters: 147

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    COMMENT:  Clearly, the majority (62%) felt that Japan was an easy or very easy place to live.  Well and good.

    Next poll:  Is Japan an easy place to WORK?  Vote early, vote often!  Debito