Archive for the 'Gaiatsu' Category
These are examples of how pressure from overseas (gaiatsu) is brought to bear upon Japan, with very mixed results.
Posted by debito on 17th January 2013
Here’s a couple of interesting lawsuits in the pipeline: A French woman being fired from NHK (despite 20 years working there) apparently for leaving Japan during the Fukushima crisis, and eight US Navy sailors suing TEPCO (from overseas) for lying about nuclear fallout dangers and exposing them to radiation.
No matter what you think about the act of litigation (and there are always those, such as House Gaijin Gregory Clark or tarento Daniel Kahl (see Komisarof, “At Home Abroad”, p. 100) who decry anything a NJ does in court, saying “they’re suing at the drop of a hat like the litigious Westerners they are” — even though millions of Japanese in Japan sue every year), these cases have the potential to reveal something interesting: 1) Blowing the lid off the Flyjin Myth of “fickle NJ leaving their work stations” once again, this time in the Japanese judiciary; and 2) showing whether international effects of GOJ negligence (and irradiating the food chain both domestically and internationally counts as such) is something that can be legally actionable from afar.
Kyodo: A French woman on Tuesday sued public broadcaster Japan Broadcasting Corp., or NHK, for dismissing her after she left Japan in response to a French government warning issued during the Fukushima nuclear crisis. Emmanuelle Bodin, 55, who had engaged in translation and radio work, said in a complaint filed with the Tokyo District Court that she had told her boss that she would return to work on March 30, 2011, but received a termination letter on March 22. Two days after the earthquake-tsunami disaster triggered the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant on March 11 that year, the French government advised its citizens to leave the Tokyo area.
Bloomberg: Tokyo Electric Power Co. is being sued for tens of millions of dollars by eight U.S. Navy sailors who claim that they were unwittingly exposed to radiation from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant meltdowns and that Tepco lied about the dangers. The sailors aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan were involved in the Operation Tomodachi disaster relief operations following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Tohoku region and led to the nuclear catastrophe, according to their complaint filed in U.S. federal court in San Diego on Dec. 21.
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Gaiatsu, Labor issues, Lawsuits, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 22 Comments »
Posted by debito on 2nd January 2013
Debito’s Top Ten human rights issues in Japan for NJ residents in 2012:
10. DONALD KEENE’S NATURALIZATION
9. OSAKA CITY DEFUNDS LIBERTY OSAKA
8. COURTS RULE THAT MIXED-BLOOD CHILDREN MAY NOT BE “JAPANESE”
7. DIET DOES NOT PASS HAGUE CONVENTION
6. GOVERNMENT CONVENES MEETINGS ON IMMIGRATION
5. MAINALI CASE VICTORY, SURAJ CASE DEFEAT
4. JAPAN’S VISA REGIMES CLOSE THEIR LOOP
3. NEW NJ REGISTRY SYSTEM
2. POST-FUKUSHIMA JAPAN IS IRREDEEMABLY BROKEN
1. JAPAN’S RIGHTWARD SWING
Links to sources included
Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Child Abductions, Cultural Issue, Education, Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Gaiatsu, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Lawsuits, Media, NJ legacies, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 12 Comments »
Posted by debito on 29th December 2012
In this time of unprecedented migration of labor across borders (click to see some international labor migration stats from the ILO and the OECD), I think increasingly one can make a strong case that Japan is being seen as a place to avoid. As I will be mentioning in my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column (out January 1, 2013), as part of my annual countdown of the Top Ten most influential human rights issues in 2012 affecting NJ in Japan, Japan’s “revolving-door” visa regimes (which suck the most productive work years out of NJ while giving them fewer (or no) labor law protections, and no stake in Japanese society — see here and here), people who are even guaranteed a slot in Japan’s most difficult visa status — refugees (see also here) — are turning the GOJ down! They’d rather stay in a Thai refugee camp than emigrate to Japan. And for reasons that are based upon word-of-mouth.
That’s what I mean — word is getting around, and no amount of faffing about with meetings on “let’s figure out how We Japanese should ‘co-exist’ with foreigners” at the Cabinet level is going to quickly undo that reputation.
Immediately below is the article I’m referring to. Below that I offer a tangent, as to why Burmese in particular get such a sweetheart deal of guaranteed GOJ refugee slots. According to media, “From 1982 to 2004, Japan accepted only 313 refugees, less than 10 per cent of those who applied. Even after its rules were slightly liberalized in 2004, it allowed only 46 refugees in the following year. Last year it accepted only 34 of the 954 applicants. Those numbers are tiny in comparison with Canada, which accepted more than 42,000 refugees last year, despite having a much smaller population than Japan. But they are also tiny in comparison to European countries such as France and Italy. On a per capita basis, Japan’s rate of accepting refugees is 139th in the world, according to the United Nations.” This means that Burmese make up between a third to a half of all refugees accepted! Why? As a holiday tangent, consider the elite-level intrigue of a wartime connection between the Japanese Imperial Army and SLORC…
Posted in Gaiatsu, History, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Tangents, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 61 Comments »
Posted by debito on 26th November 2012
The UN Human Rights Council has once again prodded Japan to do something to improve its record on human rights (and this time the GOJ, which must submit a report every two years, actually submitted something on time, not eight years overdue as a combined “Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Combined Report”). Here’s how the media reported on their interplay:
Kyodo: A panel under the U.N. Human Rights Council has endorsed some 170 recommendations for Japan to improve its human rights record, including Tokyo’s handling of the so-called comfort women issue, the euphemism for the Imperial army’s wartime sex slaves…
Other recommendations include the safeguarding of Japanese citizens’ right to lead a healthy life, in light of the enormous amount of radioactive fallout spewed over a vast area by the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. The town of Futaba, which found itself in the center of the nuclear storm since it cohosts the wrecked plant, had actively campaigned for the inclusion of this right. The report also called on Japan to abolish the death penalty after more than 20 countries, including prominent EU member states, objected to its continued use of capital punishment.
COMMENT: As you can see in the HRC’s press brief enclosed in this blog entry, once again the GOJ is avoiding the topic of creating a legal framework to protect people against racial discrimination — claiming it’s already forbidden by the Japanese Constitution (but as we’ve stressed here umpteen times, no explicit law in the Civil or Criminal Code means no enforcement of the Constitution). But all the UN HRC seems to be able to do is frown a lot and continue the talk shop. Further, the UN still chooses the word “migrants” over “immigrants”, which makes NJ (and their J children) who need these rights look like they’re only temporary workers — the “blind spot” continues. Meanwhile, Fukushima and the death penalty seem to have sucked all the oxygen out of the debate arena regarding other human rights issues. In this blog entry is an excerpt of what Japan submitted to the HRC for consideration, and a media brief of the HRC’ s recommendations. It’s basically cosmetic changes, open to plenty of bureaucratic case-by-case “discretion”, and amounting to little promise of fundamental systemic or structural changes.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, United Nations | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 8th November 2012
JT JBC: On Oct. 25, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara announced his resignation from office. He now plans to stand for election to the Diet as head of a new conservative party. He suggested political alliances with other conservative reactionaries and xenophobes, including Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan) chief Takeo Hiranuma (Just Be Cause, Feb. 2, 2010). And all before a Lower House election that must be held within two months.
I say: Bring it on. Because it’s time for somebody to make clear which way Japan is heading.
The world’s media has largely misunderstood — or misrepresented — what kind of an elected official Ishihara is, often portraying him as a “nationalist” (which sounds like a patriot). He is in fact a hate-mongering racist bigot.
This is the man, remember, who began his governorship by calling for foreigners to be rounded up on sight in the event of a natural disaster — for they might (unprecedentedly) riot! Cue one natural disaster in 2011: No riots. Yet no retraction. Thus he got a free pass.
This is also a man who goes beyond the standard right-wing denials of the dark side of Japanese history, such as the Nanjing Massacre and the “comfort women.” He has called the 2011 tsunami “divine retribution” for Japan’s sins, insinuated that Africans in Japan are unintelligent, said commentators on Japan “don’t matter” if they’re foreign, likened foreign judo practitioners to “beasts,” claimed Chinese are criminals due to their “ethnic DNA,” called parts of Tokyo with higher foreign populations “hotbeds of crime” too scary for even Japanese crooks to enter, and stigmatized Japanese politicians who support more rights for foreigners by saying they must have foreign roots themselves (as if Japanese with tainted bloodlines are somehow unpatriotic).
He has also stated that old women are “useless” and “toxic” to civilization, gays “gadding about” are “pitiable,” French is unqualified as an international language because of its counting system — and so on ad nauseam, painting grotesque caricatures of foreigners and minorities in broad, bigoted strokes. Just listing them all would take up my entire column.
Yet, instead of pillorying this piece of work out of office, the media has generally dismissed his statements as “gaffes.” But a gaffe is technically an error or an unintended misstatement — and Ishihara’s are too frequent to be anything but deliberate.
Sadly, due to the limited attention span inherent in media cycles, Ishihara managed to out-stare the press. They then excused their own lack of tenacity by treating his outrageous comments like a personality quirk, as if he suffers from a particularly offensive form of Tourette’s — effectively handing him a free pass. Passes got freer after one re-election. Then another…
Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Gaiatsu, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 36 Comments »
Posted by debito on 3rd November 2012
For all the talk we have had in the past of Japan’s efficient government and incorruptible bureaucracy (dating from, oh, perhaps Chalmers’ MITI AND THE JAPANESE MIRACLE — even Transparency International still ranks Japan higher than say, oh, the US, France, or Spain in its “Corruption Perceptions Index 2011″), one major factor that not only despirits a nation but also steals its wherewithal is an unaccountable administrative branch robbing the public coffers blind. In this case, the GOJ is reportedly siphoning off disaster funds that had been earmarked to save people’s lives and livelihoods and diverted to support completely unrelated projects. The news below goes beyond the fact that TEPCO and the GOJ have finally admitted their collusion to cover up their malfeasance in preventing the nuclear meltdown (article archived below — note that the investigative committee was led by a NJ). It shows, as Debito.org first mentioned back in December 2011 (and repeated in a different incarnation last July) that our first “see I told you so” moment (where even our critics would not capitulate for being wrong about corruption and coverup) stating that Japan’s control-freak governance system in Japan is irredeemably broken, was ever more right all along.
AP: About a quarter of the US$148 billion budget for reconstruction after Japan’s March 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster has been spent on unrelated projects, including subsidies for a contact lens factory and research whaling. The findings of a government audit buttress complaints over shortcomings and delays in the reconstruction effort. More than half the budget is yet to be disbursed, stalled by indecision and bureaucracy, while nearly all of the 340,000 people evacuated from the disaster zone remain uncertain whether, when and how they will ever resettle… Among the unrelated projects benefiting from the reconstruction budgets are: road building in distant Okinawa; prison vocational training in other parts of Japan; subsidies for a contact lens factory in central Japan; renovations of government offices in Tokyo; aircraft and fighter pilot training, research and production of rare earths minerals, a semiconductor research project and even funding to support whaling, ostensibly for research, according to data from the government audit released last week. A list of budget items and spending shows some 30 million yen went to promoting the Tokyo Sky Tree, a transmission tower that is the world’s tallest freestanding broadcast structure. Another 2.8 billion yen was requested by the Justice Ministry for a publicity campaign to “reassure the public” about the risks of big disasters.
AP: The utility behind Japan’s nuclear disaster acknowledged for the first time Friday that it could have avoided the crisis. Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said in a statement that it had known safety improvements were needed before last year’s tsunami triggered three meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, but it had feared the political, economic and legal consequences of implementing them. “When looking back on the accident, the problem was that preparations were not made in advance,” TEPCO’s internal reform task force, led by company President Naomi Hirose, said in the statement. “Could necessary measures have been taken with previous tsunami evaluations? It was possible to take action” by adopting more extensive safety measures, the task force said… Investigative reports compiled by the government and the parliament panels said collusion between the company and government regulators allowed lax supervision and allowed TEPCO to continue lagging behind in safety steps.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Gaiatsu, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, SITYS, Tangents, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 28 Comments »
Posted by debito on 10th October 2012
Before I wrote my monthly Japan Times column on the Senkakus/Takeshima Disputes published on Oct 2, I wrote a completely different column that approached the issue from the back door: How Japan’s enormous focus on “genuine” and “legitimate” leads to diversity getting subsumed. And when it leads to diversity in opinion being subsumed, you get a society that is particularly susceptible to top-down control of not only the dominant social discourse, but also the very perception of reality within a society. And that leads us to crazy ideas such as a few far offshore rocks being worth all this fuss.
Heavy stuff. Unfortunately, the people who approve columns at The Japan Times didn’t “get” it, even after two major rewrites and sixteen drafts. (Actually, in all fairness it wasn’t only them — two other friends of mine didn’t “get” it either. But two of my friends in academia did. And we suspect that it was just too “Ivory Tower” for a journalistic audience.) So eight hours before deadline, I rewrote the damn thing entirely, and what you saw published is the result.
But The Japan Times suggested that I blog it and see what others think. So here it is: The column on the Senkakus/Takeshima Disputes that I wanted to run. I think there are plenty of ideas in there that are still worth salvaging. But let me ask you, Debito.org Readers: Do you “get” it?
Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Gaiatsu, History, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media | 40 Comments »
Posted by debito on 2nd October 2012
From The Shadows, a documentary film about Parental Child abduction in Japan, will premiere at the Philadelphia Film Festival on October 23rd and October 27th. This film follows the lives of 5 “Left Behind Parents” trying desperately to reconnect with their children after having their child-parent relationship cut by the other parent. Through their individual stories we examine why this situation is so common in Japan and hear opinions from an array of experts on the situation. The film has had work-in-progress screenings on Capitol Hill (Nov. 2011) and in Tokyo (Apr. 2012) that was attended by the foreign ministry and several embassy reps.
The screening venues and times for the Philadelphia Film Festival are:
1. Tuesday October 23rd, 5:00 pm – Prince Music Theater – 1412 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19102
2. Saturday October 27th 7:35 pm – Ritz East – 125 South Second Street Philadelphia, PA 19106
First go to this link: http://filmadelphia.festivalgenius.com/2012/films/fromtheshadows0_mattantell_filmadelphia2012
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese Government, Media, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 1st August 2012
As a tangent, here’s an article looking at issues of race and ethnicity in China through a veil of vignettes. A lot of the issues raised can be (and have been) applied to Japan. Just not as harshly. I’ve made the point before about how the Western media seems to give Japan a free pass regarding racism as a “friendly” state. Yet, as per the Newsweek article below, Western media couches racism more as representative of the spectre of Chinese nationalism and bad treatment of expats. Compare: When we had the ultimate example of racism in Japan during the Otaru Onsens Case (1999-2005), the overseas press took it up handily, but we also had oodles of apologists rise up en masse to dismiss or defend it. Including Western toadies like Gregory Clark (see how clumsily Clark took up this USA Today article of March 8, 2000 by Peter Hadfield on racism in Japan back in the day), who defended it as Japanese cultural uniqueness and exceptionalism to “global standards” (said pundit even went so far as to claim “antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people” — while in the process getting even the exclusionary onsen’s name wrong). But I digress.
Again, I’m not sure why Japan is so seductive to the Western media (Dower would perhaps claim it’s part of the GOJ’s media savviness, starting with the Imperial duck hunt charm offensive of SCAP that saved the Imperial system (Embracing Defeat, p. 299-301)), while China keeps getting treated as devious. The only theory I can come up is geopolitics (and the fear that the future of democracy and economic growth will have Chinese uniparty characteristics). What say you, Readers?
Newsweek: In recent months, tensions over the unsavory behavior of some of Beijing’s foreign residents have come to the fore. In May there was a furious public reaction after footage was posted online showing the aftermath of an alleged attempted sexual assault on a young Beijing woman by a drunken British man. The pictures showed angry locals beating up the supposed perpetrator. This was soon followed by film of an incident on a train in which a Russian cellist from the Beijing Symphony Orchestra insulted a Chinese passenger who asked him to take his feet off the back of her chair. The cellist eventually made a public apology, but still had to resign his post.
Amid a mood of public anger, at least in online forums, the Beijing police announced a three-month campaign to crack down on “foreigners illegally staying in the capital”—including those who had jobs but no work permit or who had overstayed their visas. They also set up a hotline and encouraged locals to “report such violations,” according to Chinese media. Several other cities, including Shanghai, also stepped up spot-checks on the documents of foreigners, in the most visible campaign of its type since the run-up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Posted in Discussions, Gaiatsu, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tangents | 24 Comments »
Posted by debito on 10th May 2012
Some news on the Japan Child Abductions Issue, where Japan has long set itself up as a safe haven for one parent to abscond with their child following separation or divorce (regardless of whether the marriage was international or domestic), what with no joint custody and no guaranteed child visitation in Japan. Thanks to the Koseki Family Registry system, the divorced couple becomes strangers to each other, and children go on only one parent’s koseki (with the other parent losing all legal title and access to their kids unless the custodial parent approves). In cases of international/intercontinental separation or divorce, the Japanese partner can abduct their child to Japan (since Japan is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, and the Japanese embassy does not enforceably require the permission of both parents to issue a Japanese child a Japanese passport), and that’s it — the kids are gone. Japanese courts have always ruled that the absconder has established “habitual residence” in Japan by dint, so who dares wins. Meanwhile, despite international protests about the GOJ not being a signatory to the Hague, Japan has been dragging its feet for years now on signing (and as I have argued in the past, will probably caveat its way out of enforcing it anyway, as it has done with other treaties (like the CERD and the ICCPR)).
Finally, enough has become enough for sensible people. According to articles below, US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell has once again come out in public making a link between the irony of all the tragedymaking regarding Japanese being kidnapped decades ago by the DPRK (which is indeed a tragedy, yes), yet the lack of tragedy over Japanese still kidnapping international kids. Good. We’ve made that comparison before here on Debito.org, and were roundly condemned by the usual suspects for doing so. (And, as a related tangent, I’ve probably criticized the most by people misquoting me as advocating that foreigners shouldn’t marry Japanese. No, for the record, I’m saying NOBODY, Japanese or NJ, should get married and have children under the insane family law system in Japan; the risks are too great if parents separate).
As per articles below, the Japanese press is of course rallying the public behind the home team via editorial camouflaged as news (it’s hard to discern even what Campbell actually said). It’s even trying to instruct the Japanese public how English is different than Japanese. You see, if a North Korean kidnaps a Japanese, its “abduction” (rachi). But if a Japanese kidnaps an international child, its “tsuresari” (taking along and disappearing). But you see, the English language is inflexible — it only has one word for this action: “abduction”. So it’s all one big “linguistic misunderstanding”. Even though, in either case, abduction is what it is.
And if you really want to take this issue to the next level of linkage, consider this comment from a friend:
“As noted in Wikipedia, “In 1944, the Japanese authorities extended the mobilization of Japanese civilians for labor to the Korean peninsula. Of the 5,400,000 Koreans conscripted, about 670,000 were taken to mainland Japan . . .” And the Japanese have the audacity to complain about 20 or so Japanese abducted to North Korea? The Japanese government should apologize and compensate the 5 million Koreans conscripted 70 years ago before uttering a single word about the actions of North Korea 35 years ago.”
So underlying all of this is an issue of hypocrisy, and now the GOJ is probably going to have to resort to its only real defense when cornered on an issue: agonistic posturing and outrage — trying to derail the issue in favor of maintaining “The Relationship”. People have fallen for this before (after all, the US wants to keep its military bases and its market to sell inter alia weaponry). But I’m not sure this issue is really big enough (I think Masumoto has an inflated sense of his own power) to do that. Let’s keep our eyes on this one, since it’s a good case study of gaiatsu and GOJ policy in the making.
Posted in Child Abductions, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, Good News, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, 日本語 | 14 Comments »
Posted by debito on 16th April 2012
As Japan switches its economic clout into more “soft power” issues (i.e., selling its culture instead of its hardware; cf. METI’s promotion of “Cool Japan”), we are seeing instances of where Japan’s conceits and “blind spots” (i.e., a lack of cultural sensitivity towards, for example, minorities both in Japanese society and in other societies) have seeped into its output, with imperfect filters in place.
Take for example one of my favorite sites for procrastination and indulging in hilarious writing: Cracked.com. They have a pretty good research staff, and have dug up several instances of Japanese video games (since Japan dominates the industry) that are, as they put it, “politically incorrect” (today’s word for “racist”, since you can still be “politically incorrect” yet use it as a source of, say, humor; but it’s still the same “othering”, racializing, and subordinating process). We have examples of:
Gay characters in the Sega’s VENDETTA street-fighting game the dry-hump everything as a weapon, and in BARE KNUCKLE 3 that mince about flamingly etc. (these were left in the Japanese version but removed from the overseas versions and in subsequent versions).
Blackface and n*gger-lipped characters in Nintendo’s SQUARE NO TOM SAWYER game (which never got released in the US; wonder why).
GEKISHA BOY, where street-animal African-Americans come in three types: “street pimp, prostitute, and Michael Jackson”.
Sega’s DJ BOY, which features a stereotypical Big Black Mama shooting fireballs out of her anus.
And plenty more. As Cracked.com demonstrates, the Japanese market generally keeps these (and other) stereotypes and conceits alive and well (as if Japan doesn’t need to worry about how they affect public perceptions of minorities in Japan), while for overseas markets things get sanitized (or not, occasioning protests and backpedaling) when Japanese sellers suddenly develop a “sensitivity”.
If Japan really wants to keep its cultural exports viable, maybe it should attempt understand how other people anywhere, including within Japan, might feel about being represented in such a fashion. Or, if stereotyping is used as a source of humor, allow for everyone to be “fair game” (which, I have argued before, doesn’t happen enough in Japan; there is certainly ample Japanese protest when Japanese get similarly stereotyped).
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 15 Comments »
Posted by debito on 12th March 2012
AFP: Japan’s government on Friday approved a bill to join a pact on settling cross-border child custody rows, opening the way for its adoption after years of foreign pressure.
Asahi: In an outline of procedures for the Hague Convention on international child-custody disputes, a government panel has proposed allowing court officials to forcibly remove a child from a Japanese parent to return him or her to the country of habitual residence… The subcommittee proposed that factors, such as the risk that the child will face violence back in the country of habitual residence and a situation in which it is difficult for the parents to take custody of the child, be considered.
Specific cases cited include: the parent demanding custody of the child commits acts of violence against the other parent in front of the child; the parent in a foreign country is addicted to drugs or alcohol; and the Japanese parent who returns with the child may be arrested.
COMMENT: Love the invective that one sees time and again in the Japanese media and GOJ debates, where we have the appearance of victimized Japanese females being harassed by NJ males (including even the threat of domestic violence), when in fact child abduction and parental alienation happens between Japanese too, given that there is no joint custody or guaranteed visitation rights in Japan. Check out this article below from the Asahi last January. Bonus: The newspaper’s pictorially racist portrayal of the non-Distaff Side of the international couple. And that’s before you even get to the unlikely prospect of Japan actually ever enforcing the Hague (see here also), just like it never enforces the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination. The discourse will continue as such.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Japanese Government, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 21 Comments »
Posted by debito on 26th February 2012
This is hot news (or has been recently), so let me cut in with this issue and break the arc of immigration/labor issues. Here’s another Japanese politician, Nagoya Mayor Kawamura Takashi, playing to type (as in, playing to a Rightist historical revisionist base) by reportedly denying that the Nanjing Massacre in WWII China ever took place. He’s not alone. The Japan Times article below is particularly good, as it includes other deniers and their dates in Japan’s political discourse, showing there is a longstanding arc to this discourse.
There may be a political dimension. As a commenter mailed me, “Because I have lived in Nagoya for over 20 years, Mayor Kawamura’s atrocious lack of tact really makes me cringe. We’ve seen it before with these old boys. They reach a certain age and feel they can afford to throw caution to the wind. However, there may be some background here that isn’t being aired. The Chinese apparently had their sites on a prime piece of land near Nagoya Castle and wanted to build a consulate or trade related facility of some kind. There is local opposition. So it’s possible that the Mayor deliberately wanted to piss them off.” Interesting if true. Let’s have that investigated.
A little academic expostulating, if I may: One of the things that Japan has never undergone (as opposed to, say, Germany) is a postwar examination of its colonialist/imperialist past, as Postcolonialism as an analytical paradigm seems to have passed Japanese academia by (as have many rigorous intellectual disciplines, in favor of, say, the unscientific pseudo-religion that is Nihonjinron). Even proponent Edward Said was blind to it, by binding us to an East-West divide when encapsulating his theory of lack of minority voices in the world’s historical discourse as “Orientalism”, meaning Japan became an “Oriental” country (as opposed to a fellow colonial empire builder) and thus immune to the analysis. Partially because of this, Japan lacks the historical conversation (and is ignored overseas for not undertaking it) that would include and incorporate the minority voices of “sangokujin” (i.e., the former peoples of empire) et.al as part of the domestic discourse.
And this is one reason why fatheads like Kawamura are able to keep on reopening old wounds and refuse to face the dark side of Japan’s history — a history which, if an honest accounting of history is done everywhere, every country has.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Gaiatsu, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, History, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics | 22 Comments »
Posted by debito on 11th February 2012
Speaking of incarceration of NJ under unreviewed circumstances (start here), here is what happens when the GOJ suddenly starts, as encouraged by the United Nations and even domestic think tanks such as JIPI, to actually REVIEW its own rules: They discover that not as many NJ need to be incarcerated. Quite a few of not as many. Very high percentages, even.
Well, how about that. Glad this happened, and got some press too. May it happen more often, so that the NPA and Immigration realize that there are some boundaries to their power of interrogation and incarceration, even if (and especially if) the incarcerated happen to be NJ (who are even, according to here as well as the article below, committing suicide rather than take any more of this inhumane treatment).
Mainichi/Kyodo: The number of foreign nationals detained one year or longer by Japanese immigration officials dropped significantly after a review of procedural rules for a more flexible approach in response to criticisms about the treatment of long-term detainees, data for last year showed… The Japanese government came under fire for its long-term detentions in 2007 by the United Nations, which recommended that detention periods should be limited…
Those who were held for at least one year totaled 47, down sharply from 115 at the end of 2009. The Justice Ministry said it has been actively releasing those who are subject to deportation but it sees no need for holding in custody since July 2010… The number of foreign nationals detained one year or longer by Japanese immigration officials dropped significantly after a review of procedural rules for a more flexible approach in response to criticisms about the treatment of long-term detainees, data for last year showed.
Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, United Nations | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 12th January 2012
Last blog entry I talked about Amnesty International’s 2002 report on horrendous treatment and conditions of NJ detainees in Narita Airport. As a complement, here is Chris Johnson, photojournalist at venues such as CNNGo and The Japan Times, offering his unexpurgated experiences there last December. Despite having a valid visa, he was denied entry, he believes, due to his critical press coverage of TEPCO and government responses to the Fukushima disasters. He spent 30 hours in the Narita Airport “Gaijin Tank” (which he calls a gulag) before being forced to buy an overpriced one-way ticket and deported, and it changed his views dramatically on Japan’s legal and policing system.
This issue deserves more attention. Extralegality may be the norm in Customs and Immigration Zones around the world, but extreme treatment is exactly what happens when policing is unfettered and unmonitored. It is, to put it mildly, unbefitting a society such as Japan’s, with official pretensions towards respecting the rule of law. Especially when you read about Chris’s experience with the private security goons, who seem to have gone beyond any plausible mitigation (“just following orders”) by Milgram. Were these the people who killed Abubakar Awadu Suraj in 2010 while deporting him, and to this day have not been charged with any crime?
CJ: When you line up to get your passport stamped at Narita international airport outside Tokyo, look to your right toward a set of “special examination rooms.” That is where the trap door into Japan’s secretive gulag begins.
Most travellers, who regard Japan as a safe country of civilized people, have no idea that thousands of foreign arrivals — just like them — have fallen down that trap door into windowless dungeons in the bowels of the airport. From there, foreigners of all nationalities — seeking a pleasant vacation or a better life in Japan — have vanished into a horrific network of “detention centres” imprisoning thousands of innocent foreigners in appalling conditions.
Most red-eyed foreign arrivals also don’t realize that the immigration officers taking their fingerprints and scanning their passports are working with xenophobic colleagues who have deported on average about 20,000 foreigners every year since 2005, and who have been on trial for themurder of a longtime foreign resident of Japan last year at Narita.
They also don’t realize that airlines, according to the Immigration Bureau, are technically responsible for providing nightmarish dungeons and hiring “security guards” accused of human rights abuses — everything from extortion to theft, torture and denial of rights to call embassies, lawyers or family…
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 91 Comments »
Posted by debito on 30th December 2011
As the sands in the 2011 hourglass trickle away, here are a couple of posts to be filed away under Ironies. Today’s deals with how the GOJ sees “Tohoku disasters relief measures” — both in terms of funding foreign tourists and in funding ships killing whales.
Looks like one ministry is more prone to feeling public shame than the other, so, according to the announcements below, the suddenly “insensitive” proposal to give free plane tickets to foreign visitors to visit Japan has been cancelled. The Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Ministry, however, is singularly shameless, so I doubt that will happen to whaling. Now, sooner or later, we’ll have to show sensitivity somehow to those afflicted by the Tohoku disasters. I wonder which ministry that falls under. Probably a lot of it under the former Construction Ministry arm of MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism), which has a long history of being even more shameless in ripping off the Japanese public than MAFF. Once again, evidence of just how out of touch Japanese bureaucrats are with the public they purportedly serve. I guess the next disaster, sadly, will have to happen in Tokyo.
JNTO: This autumn there were many reports about the Japan Tourism Agency proposing to give away 10,000 free flights to Japan in 2012. After the proposal was reported, people from around the world sent messages to Japan National Tourism Organization saying they would like to participate in the programme to visit Japan and to help revitalize Japan’s tourism industry following the March 2011 earthquake. So it is with regret that the Japanese Government announced the budget for this proposal has been declined, so the flight give away will not be going ahead.
Thanks to the support of the international community, Japan is making vigorous progress towards reconstruction in the earthquake and tsunami affected northeast of Japan, but recovery from the earthquake continues to be a pressing issue.
“We realise that this announcement is going to disappoint thousands of people around the world, but we hope people will understand how insensitive it would appear for the Japanese Government to give people free flights to Japan when the cities, towns and villages devastated by the tsunami are still in desperate need of funding for reconstruction. We also would not want people thinking that the generous donations given from around the world to aide [sic] those affected by the disaster was being spent on giving people free flights,” said Kylie Clark, Head of PR & Marketing, Japan National Tourism Organization.
Posted in Gaiatsu, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Tangents, Tourism | 2 Comments »
Posted by debito on 7th November 2011
Speaking of odd Japanese police behavior towards NJ in criminal cases: We’ve talked about the Scott Kang and Matthew Lacey Cases here on Debito.org before. Fortunately, these cases have gathered traction thanks to caring family members, and tenacious reporters who don’t accept the NPA’s line that both of these deaths of NJ were mere accidents (while refusing to cooperate promptly and clearly on autopsy reports). I have argued before that Japanese justice operates on a different (and subordinate) track for NJ victims of Japanese crime (i.e., Japanese perps get off the hook, foreign perps get thrown the book). These articles in the Japan Times help to fortify that case (not to mention further illustrate how the USG’s missions abroad are woefully inadequate in providing service and protections to their own citizens).
JT: Nineteen-year-old Scott Kang was found lying unconscious in a pool of his own blood in the early hours of Aug. 26, 2010, in the sixth-floor stairwell of Collins Building 15, an eight-story high-rise of small hostess bars and clubs located near Shinjuku City Hall in Kabuki-cho. He remained in a coma for five days before dying of his injuries, his mother by his side, at the Kokuritsu Kokusai Iryo Kenkyu Center in Shinjuku…
The Kangs and their supporters strongly reject the police finding of accidental death and want to see the case re-opened. They are also deeply unhappy with the way the Japanese police carried out the investigation and their failure to inform the family when they closed the case [in February]… But according to Mr. Kang, he received no communication from the U.S. authorities about the investigation’s closure until early July when an officer from the U.S. State Department telephoned.
Kang says that the failure of the embassy to pass on such critical information in a timely fashion shows the embassy is not taking the case seriously. “I feel the U.S. Embassy acted as if Scott was not a U.S. citizen.”…
JT: Charles Lacey’s brother died mysteriously [in 2004] in Fukuoka and he’s still trying to learn the cause. He believes police bungled the investigation, wrongly concluded the death was due to an accident and are, like prosecutors, purposely withholding key information that could suggest foul play…
The English translation of the postmortem, which was prepared by Fukuoka police and not by the doctor who performed the exam, attributed the death to an “unknown external cause” and “it is suspected the subject was hit on the head.” To the family’s surprise, foul play was ruled out.
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Social Science, Gaiatsu, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 21 Comments »
Posted by debito on 28th October 2011
Here’s some good news for Left-Behind Parents. The Americans are (unusually, according to the Mainichi and Yomiuri below) enforcing their arrest warrants against Japanese child abductors. In this case, against a Japanese woman who reportedly absconded with the kid off to Japan and, despite a US court awarding the father custody, then used the time-honored tactic of abducting the kid anyway and getting a Japanese court to award her the kid instead regardless (with a gracious 30-day per year visitation allowed; thanks a heap). Then she carelessly decided to have her cake and eat it too, by coming back to the US to renew her Green Card, whereupon the authorities honored the arrest warrant against her, leaving the kid in limbo with the grandparents in Japan.
Not an unusual story (especially since the Japanese media once again refuses to use the word “abduction” in conjunction with any of this — just “taking without permission”; sounds much better), except that the Americans are now finally taking action regarding child abductions to Japan, honoring court decisions despite Japan’s vehemently guarding its safe-haven status for international child abduction.
Let’s see how the Japanese media further spins this; I doubt it’ll run against Team-Japanism. But already the editorial slant in the articles below is that signing the Hague Treaty will (somehow) prevent this, in defiance of all the Japanese safe-haveners that want to either not sign it, or caveat it with DV provisions into meaninglessness. Anyway, throw the book at her. This sort of thing has gone on long enough.
Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, 日本語 | 11 Comments »
Posted by debito on 26th October 2011
This is still a growing issue, and there’s an excellent Reuters article below to hang this blog post on. Consider the case of Michael Woodford, a Brit hired more than thirty years ago by Japanese firm Olympus, with the superhuman tenacity to work his way up to the post of CEO (not hired, as are many of the famous NJ executives in Japanese companies, as an international prestige appointment). The presumption is that his appointment was because Mr Woodford would be different — there are plenty of Japanese corporate drones who would have gladly not rocked the boat for a quiet life and comfortable salary. But when he actually does something different, such as uncover and question possible corporate malfeasance, he gets fired because “his style of management was incompatible with traditional Japanese practices”. This of course, as further investigations finally gather traction, calls into practice the cleanliness of those traditional Japanese corporate practices. And it looks like the only way to get them investigated properly in Japan is to take the issue to overseas regulators (this is, after all, an international company, if only in the sense that it has international holdings, but now beholden to international standards). Not to mention the Japanese media (which, as the article alludes to below, is once again asleep at its watchdog position). None of this is surprising to the Old Japan Hands, especially those let anywhere close to Japanese corporate boardrooms, who see this nest feathering as a normal, nay, an obvious part of Japanese corporate culture the higher and richer you go. But woe betide the NJ whistleblower — perpetually in a vulnerable position for being of the wrong race and for not doing what he’s told like a good little gaijin. After all, there’s peer pressure behind membership in “Team Japan”, and as soon as it’s convenient, the race/culture card gets pulled by the crooks to excuse themselves. I’m just glad Mr. Woodford had the guts to do what he did. I doubt it’ll result in a system-wide cleanup (the rot is too systemic and entrenched, and few watch the watchers in corporatist Japan). But you gotta start somewhere, since exposure of corruption must be seen to be becoming commonplace in post-Fukushima Japan. Bravo Mr. Woodford, and expose away.
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Good News, Ironies & Hypocrisies, NJ legacies, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 30 Comments »
Posted by debito on 25th October 2011
I have just spent the past six months getting through one of perhaps the more weighty tomes in the English language: William L. Shirer’s THE RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD REICH — about Nazi Germany and Hitler’s campaigns before and during WWII. This 1150-page tombstone/doorstop of a book will sit proudly on my shelf as something read cover-to-cover with as much information absorbed from it as possible. I of course wrote a book review in the back cover (if you’re interested in hearing it, readers, let me know, and I’ll append it to the Comments Section), but the thing that I’d like to focus this blog entry upon today is Japan’s historical actions and negotiating tactics (including the Japanese government’s penchant for vagueness, obfuscation, and completely masked intentions) mentioned within the book, and how remarkably similar they remain today.
Conclusion: I’ve dealt with and witnessed the actions of the GOJ for decades now. Although now more than seventy years later, none of this seems out of sync with the way Japanese bureaucrats or politicians talk or act today. And once anyone overseas thinks they have a handle on and an avenue into the political situation, the cabinet changes and then you have to start again. Someday people are going to have to learn how the GOJ works internationally.
Posted in Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, History, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics | 12 Comments »
Posted by debito on 25th September 2011
McPike: Based on research done by both Law Professors in Japan and by Left-Behind Parents, we know that these cases [of abducted children in Japan with American citizenship] number into the thousands.
In the english translation (Translation by Matthew J. McCauley of University of Washington’s Law School) of a paper written by Professor Tanase in 2009 (who has also been used as a consultant by DoS) he states, using statistics provided by various Japanese sources, that:
“ Over 251,000 married couples separated in 2008, and if this number is divided by the 726,000 marriages in the same year, roughly one out of every 2.9 marriages will end in divorce. Out of all divorcing couples, 144,000 have children, equaling about 245,000 children in all. Seeing as roughly 1.09 million children were born this year, about one out of every 4.5 children will experience divorce before reaching adulthood. Even with the increase in visitation awards, only about 2.6% of the 245,000 children affected by divorce [in Japan] will be allowed visitation. “
To simplify it: Out of 245,000 children who’s parent’s are divorced in Japan ONLYabout 6300 children will be allowed to maintain some level of contact with their “non-custodial parent” (We’ll get back to how custody is determined). The remaining 238,700 children have one parent ceremoniously cut completely and suddenly from their life – often being punished, either emotionally or physically, by the “custodial parent” if they ask to continue to see the removed parent.
In addition, based on statistics provided by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (and gathered by Left-Behind Parent: John Gomez):
From 1992 to 2009, there have been 7,449 divorces between an American and a Japanese in Japan.
Of those Americans, 6,208 were men, and 1,241 were women.
According to the statistics, there is, on average, one child per divorce in Japan
So when you take 7,449 divorces (each with an average of 1 child based on the above statistics) and use Professor Tanase’s 2.6% estimate (which should be expected to be higher than would actually apply to foreign parents), that leaves you with approximately 7,255 children of US citizens (just counting data up to 2009) that are being denied access to their US parent….
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Social Science, Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Human Rights | 7 Comments »
Posted by debito on 24th September 2011
BAChome: Yesterday was an historic day. For the first time ever, the Japan Child Abduction issue reached the highest levels of our government. President Obama addressed the issue, to include both the Hague Convention and resolution of existing cases, in his meeting with Prime Minister Noda in New York yesterday…
AS Campbell: “The President also very strongly affirmed the Japanese decision to enter into The Hague Convention – asked that this – on Child Abduction – asked that these steps be taken clearly and that the necessary implementing legislation would be addressed. He also indicated that while that was an important milestone for Japan, that – he also asked the Japanese prime minister and the government to focus on the preexisting cases, the cases that have come before. The prime minister indicated that very clearly, he knew about the number of cases. He mentioned 123. He said that he would take special care to focus on these particular issues as we – as Japan also works to implement the joining of The Hague Convention, which the United States appreciates greatly.”
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Government | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 22nd September 2011
BAChome writes to Beth Payne, Director Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State:
Ms. Payne, Mr. Lake has indicated that he is willing to provide a sworn affidavit that Ms. Vause told him his daughter Mary appeared in person at the Osaka consulate. However, even taking you at your word that Mary Lake called the consulate, we are simply distraught that the consulate employees did not do more to facilitate her rescue and return to her lawful parent…
The State Department’s failure to act during the brief window of time available to rescue Mary allowed her to disappear again into the black hole abyss of Japan, to join the other 374 children abducted to Japan since 1994, none of whom has ever been returned.
We ask you to answer one simple question…if Mary Lake were kidnapped by a STRANGER and held in Japan for six years, and then contacted the US Consulate asking them to “fly her home”, would the consulate actions have been any different, and if so, why? The State Department’s DUTY to Mary Victoria Lake is no different than to any other victim of a felony crime, and for you to treat it otherwise is simply a flagrant disregard for the law…
The State Department has conducted years of meetings, talks, meetings, talks, meetings and talks, but not a single parent has been able to even see their child as a result. This latest incident with William Lake’s daughter only further exacerbates the left-behind parent community’s total and complete loss of confidence in the State Department’s ability to protect our children. What happened to Mary Victoria Lake could have happened to any of our children, and this incident fills us with fear and anxiety that if a window of opportunity someday opens for the rescue of our children, State Department will simply shut that window, as they did with Mary Lake, rather than actually try to return our children.
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Child Abductions, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies | 6 Comments »
Posted by debito on 9th August 2011
Colin Jones: Those focused on the government’s stumbling efforts to protect the children of Fukushima from radioactive contamination may find this hard to believe, but Japanese family law just got more child-friendly — maybe. If Japan finally signs the Hague Convention on child abduction, as it appears it will, it could become even more so. There is a big “maybe” here too, so it remains to be seen whether these two steps taken by the Diet will steer the country away from its status as a black hole for parental abduction or leave it treading the same sorry path.
On May 27 a law was passed amending a number of provisions in the Civil Code relating to children and their parents. First, Article 766 of the code was revised to require parents seeking a cooperative (i.e., nonlitigated) divorce to decide upon visitation, child support payments and other matters relevant to their children’s upbringing after divorce. Furthermore, the new provision says that the welfare of the children must be the primary consideration when these matters are decided….
Meanwhile, on the Hague Convention front, a legislative committee appears to be considering domestic legislation that will ensure no abducted child ever has to be returned after Japan signs it. A basic premise of the convention is that judicial determinations about children after their parents separate should be made in the country where the children have been living. Children who are unilaterally removed to another country should thus promptly be located and returned to their country of habitual residence…
Based on current proposals that I have seen, Japanese authorities may be allowed to refuse to return a child if (a) either the child or taking parent have been subject to abuse (including “violent words”), (b) the taking parent cannot return to the child’s home country because of fear of criminal prosecution upon return, (c) the taking parent is the primary caregiver but cannot raise the child in the home country for financial or other reasons, or (d) the helpfully vague “there are other circumstances” making return potentially harmful to the child.
Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Japanese Government | 8 Comments »
Posted by debito on 17th July 2011
To take us through the holiday weekend (and shortly before I vacation this blog for the summer), let’s have a discussion about this article by Peter Tasker which achieved a prominent spot in a prominent policymakers’ magazine.
The article offers hope that Japan will rebuild. But it also cherry-picks economic statistics to show that Japan isn’t as bad economically as all that (he even dismisses the “Lost Decade(s)”; does Mr. Tasker get out of Tokyo much?). And, more oddly, he takes the opportunity of Japan’s worst postwar disaster to swipe at the “Revisionists” (the contrapose to the “Chrysanthemum Club”), particularly the late Chalmers Johnson. The C-Club, a group of scholars with great sway in US-Japan Relations for just about the entire Postwar Era, generally tends to explain away most of Japan’s disinclination to follow international rules and norms by citing their own conjured-up sacerdotal cultural oddities and esoterica (or, less charitably, “intellectual chicanery” and “uncritical apolog[ism] for Japan”). It preys on the fact that it knows more Japanese words and concepts than most Western readers do, and cites them even if they aren’t grounded in much. And woe betide any competing point of view to come in and spoil the US-Japan Relationship love-in.
True to form, in the best rewarmed Reishauer, Mr. Tasker acclaims the country’s “extraordinary social cohesion and stoicism” in the name of “social stability” and “national self-respect”, thanks to “mutual respect, not victory in competition”, and of course, “gaman” and “shimaguni konjo”. This overseas school of thought once again portrays poor, poor Japan as perpetually misunderstood by the West, not as a corporatist state that serves its citizenry at times pretty poorly and seeks little consent from its governed. As Japan’s per capita incomes keep dropping, people (particularly new employment market entrants) find themselves less able to advance or improve their lives, while the flaws of the state have come ever more into stark relief thanks to Fukushima.
For this time, Fukushima’s increasing radiation exposure is not something that can wait like a regular disaster (such as the slow recovery efforts after the Kobe Earthquake of 1995). Meanwhile, the ineffectual state keeps covering up information, shifting safety standards for radioactivity, and exposing more people and the international food chain to accumulating toxin. Yet it’s this much-vaunted public “stoicism” (as opposed to feelings of powerlessness and futility) that is precisely what will do people in. Mr. Tasker’s citing of the alleged common belief that “the janitor in your apartment building is not a representative of ‘the other’. He is you.” may be something the Japanese are being told to tell themselves (although I can’t find any sources for that), but I don’t believe this attitude is going to be a constructive source for recovery this time. Fukushima will, however, eventually become a source of “grand-mal victimization”, as a substitute for solution and revolution, as the malcontents who might do something will give up and/or just flee. We will quite possibly see an exodus (if there isn’t an unreported one going on already) of Japanese (which has happened periodically before during the other times Japan’s economic system broke down; hence the immigrant Japanese communities in places like South America, Hawaii, and California) from this system which quite simply cannot fix itself, and the people feel powerless to demand better even as they get slowly poisoned.
The difference this time is that the breakdown in the state is spreading toxins beyond its own borders, unabated four months later, with no end in sight. I wonder if Mr. Tasker would offer any revisions to his article now. But I doubt it. His politics come through pretty clearly below.
Finally, in contrapose to the media’s much vaunted “Japanese earthquake without looting” canard, I enclose at the very bottom two articles for the record substantiating ATM machine and convenience store theft in the earthquake areas. A friend also noted a Kyodo wire entitled “684 million yen stolen from ATMs in hardest-hit prefectures” that made the July 16 Japan Times but he says can’t be found archived anywhere. “Stoicism and social cohesion”? People are people. Shit happens and people react. Let’s not obfuscate this with cultural canards aiming at advancing the outdated politics and analytical rubric of the Chrysanthemum Club.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Gaiatsu, History, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 2nd July 2011
Yomiuri: Regarding conditions for foreign trainees in Japan, the [US State Department] noted “the media and NGOs continued to report abuses including debt bondage, restrictions on movement, unpaid wages, overtime, fraud and contracting workers out to different employers–elements which contribute to situations of trafficking.” The Japanese government has not officially recognized the existence of such problems, the report said. It also said Japan “did not identify or provide protection to any victims of forced labor.”
Asahi: The report said, “Japan is a destination, source, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking… The State Department recommended the Japanese government strengthen efforts to investigate, prosecute and punish acts of forced labor, including those that fall within the foreign trainee program.
COMMENT: The U.S. State Department report text in full included in this blog entry.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 12 Comments »
Posted by debito on 21st June 2011
Supplementing yesterday’s report from Terrie Lloyd, concerning the aberrations from Japan’s addiction to underpaid NJ labor, Adidas (yes, the sports goods maker) suggests, as submitter Crustpunker says, “It is more or less common knowledge what goes on here regarding migrant workers I mean, ‘trainees’.”
Talk about an open secret. It only took about two decades for the GOJ to amend the laws, of course so Japan’s industry (not to mention overseas sourcers) got away with plenty while the going was good. Nevertheless, no doubt we’ll soon have laments in the Japanese media about how our industry must now suffer since either a) Japanese are underemployed, or b) Japanese industry is being hurt by NJ labor refusing to be exploited anymore. Sob away.
Adidas concludes: There is, regrettably, a history of poor treatment of migrant workers in Japan and it is not a situation which will change overnight, even with this new legislation. So we recognise that we have a role to play in improving the system for migrant workers. In collaboration with several other brands including Nike, Gap and Disney, the adidas Group has set up quarterly meetings with Japanese vendors, suppliers, government representatives and JITCO. Working together the brands are helping to bring more transparency to the Intern Training Programme and establish a standard for acceptable recruitment fees as well as offer capacity building and training on applying the immigration and labour laws.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 30th May 2011
The government will seek to introduce a system to enable people who claim to be victims of human rights violations to file complaints with the United Nations and other international organizations based on global treaties, sources said Thursday.
Details will be worked out among officials from relevant government bodies, mainly the Justice Ministry and the Foreign Ministry, and the government intends to obtain Cabinet consent on the matter by the end of the year, the sources said.
The individual complaint system is based on international treaties governing the protection of human rights. Under the system, when perceived rights violations are not addressed after an individual has exhausted all possible means under a country’s legal system, the person can file a complaint with certain international organizations. The relevant organization then issues warnings or advisories to the nation if it recognizes the individual’s case as a human rights violation.
After an international organization gives its opinion or recommendation to a signatory nation of the relevant international treaty, the country is asked to investigate the cases based on the international organization’s views and report back to it…
The government is considering accepting the system via Cabinet consent on the following treaties: the
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 13th May 2011
Here’s some news dovetailing with Japan’s unwillingness to abide by international treaty.
Japan, one of the United Nations’ largest financial contributors, has been pushing hard for decades now for a seat on the U.N. Security Council (last time in 2006), effectively to have a place at the table and more powerful voting rights with fellow big, rich, powerful nations. The GOJ has even signed treaties and created domestic laws, according to scholar John M. Peek (see below), just to make it look better internationally, i.e., more like a modern, responsible nation in the international arena. However, after signing these treaties, Japan has been quite constant in its unwillingness to actually create domestic laws to enforce international agreements (cf. the CERD), or when laws are created, they have little to no enforcement power (cf. the Equal Employment Opportunity Law, which has done little after more than a quarter century to ameliorate the wide disparity in wages between men and women in Japan).
The fact is, the GOJ does this stuff for window dressing. Now once it accomplishes its goal of getting an UNSC Seat, it will have no further incentive to sign, abide by, or obey international treaties at all. We have stated this to the United Nations at every opportunity.
Which is why Britain’s sudden turnaround to support Japan’s bid is so eye-blinkingly blind. It seems we are milking our disasters (partially caused by our government’s malfeasance in the first place) to get an international sympathy vote now. How cynical and opportunistic.
Read on for an excerpt of a research paper I wrote citing Dr. Peek above, regarding the GOJ’s history of insincere negotiations vis-a-vis international human-rights agreements. I believe Japan will similarly ratify yet unfollow the Hague Convention on Child Abductions as well. And not even bother to ratify much else once it gets on the UNSC.
Posted in Child Abductions, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, United Nations | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 12th May 2011
In light of Chris Savoie’s U.S. court victory the other day, where his ex-wife was ruled guilty of inter alia false imprisonment of their kids in Japan, let’s look at the bigger picture — whether or not there will be official measures taken to stop this sort of thing happening again. One means is the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, to which Japan is not a signatory, and it shows.
Japan has once again made intimations (see JT article below) that it has plans to not only consider but even perhaps join the Convention, with a schedule of when it will perhaps join being announced this month.
This should be good news, but I’m not hopeful. Japan made similar intimations about joining this Convention more than three years ago (see Asahi article below that), so has clearly been less than keen. Moreover, during the domestic debates since then, lots of other intimations have been made that Japan will sign but will then create domestic laws and other loopholes so it doesn’t have to follow it.
This is within character. Japan has done precisely the same thing with other international agreements, including the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (signed by Japan all the way back in 1995), which has similarly been exceptionalized to the point where we have no national law in the criminal code outlawing or forbidding racial discrimination and hate speech.
The point is, I’m not hopeful. And I’ll say it again: Nobody, Japanese or NJ, should get married to a Japanese and have children under the current system in Japan. Divorce in Japan generally means one parent loses the kids. And I believe that will continue regardless of Japan’s agreeing to the Hague.
Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | 13 Comments »
Posted by debito on 11th May 2011
Congratulations to Chris Savoie on his massive U.S. court victory against his ex-wife for, inter alia, false imprisonment of his children in Japan.
Debito.org has talked about the Savoie Case for quite some time now (do a search), but I devoted a Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column to it back in October 2009. I’m personally glad he’s staying the course, and seeking judicial recourse that is amounting to legally-binding agreement. This is setting an important precedent regarding the issue of international child abduction, and drawing attention to a long-neglected problem. Arudou Debito
PS: Note the lame (if not just plain inaccurate) headline by the Japan Times/Kyodo News on this, “Wife fined for taking children to Japan”; makes it sound like she got punished for being a tourist. Get on the ball. Call it what it is: Child abduction.
Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Lawsuits | 25 Comments »
Posted by debito on 4th May 2011
JBC: The past two months have been uncomfortable for Japan, and for the country’s foreign residents. Non-Japanese (NJ) have been bashed in the media, unreservedly and undeservedly, as deserters in the face of disaster.
Consider the birth of the epithet “fly-jin.” A corruption of the racist word gaijin for foreigners, it appeared in English-language media as a label for NJ who apparently flew the coop in Japan’s time of need. The Japanese media soon developed its own variants (e.g., Nihon o saru gaikokujin), and suddenly it was open season for denigrating NJ…
I saw no articles putting things into perspective, comparing numbers of AWOL NJ with AWOL Japanese. Cowardice and desertion were linked with extranationality.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t doubt that many NJ did move due to the Tohoku disasters. But my question is: So what if they did?… Why should Japan care if NJ are leaving? Japan hasn’t exactly encouraged them to stay…
Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Labor issues, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 35 Comments »
Posted by debito on 28th April 2011
The Ekonomisuto Weekly of March 26, 2011, devotes three pages to the effects of the Fukushima Disasters on both Japan’s tourism/export and NJ labor markets. In the vein of how Japanese media coverage has been unsympathetic, even critical, of NJ leaving Japan, page three is of particular note. It offers harder numbers of NJ departures (although again with no comparison with Japanese movement), does not stoop to a tone of blame, and even accepts that NJ have a choice to work in other countries, so Japan had better take some measures to make itself more attractive to NJ labor or else. That’s more like it.
I have long found the policymaking attitude of “working in Japan should be its own reward, so we needn’t try to make things more hospitable for foreign labor” puzzling, so this article is refreshing. I’ll be dealing with that attitude in part in my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column, to be published in the Tuesday, May 3 edition of the JT. Enjoy.
Posted in Gaiatsu, Labor issues, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 6th April 2011
One lingering afterglow [of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster] will be a feeling of betrayal of the public trust. We were told that nuclear power was safe. One assumes, not unreasonably, that this means no leaks. Zero emissions. Hence, the public should have zero tolerance for any man-made radiation. We should reject ex post facto reassurances that this amount of millisieverts is insignificant, the same as an X-ray, an airplane flight, etc. Sometimes the government’s advice was so unscientific that it tried the patience of an educated society. (In a land of poorly insulated housing, being told to “just stay indoors” is clearly stopgap.)
My point is that the public has been kept in the dark for generations about the risks of nuclear power, settling for cute cartoon characters that deliberately and persistently underinform us. Yet when the industry screws up, who takes the fallout?
Not Japan’s nuclear firms. Tepco, remember, similarly botched things after radiation leaks at Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, in 1999 and the Kashiwazaki- Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture in 2007. Yet these Homer Simpsons remain in charge, despite, according to Wikileaks, repeated warnings from overseas specialists about their outmoded and lackluster safety standards (in a land of extreme seismic activity, no less). In a society that, if anything, overcompensates in the name of safety, why is nuclear energy such a glowing exception?…
Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 10 Comments »
Posted by debito on 17th March 2011
John Harris writes: Across eastern Japan we are experiencing rolling power cuts and train service cuts to compensate for the nuclear plant outages. This interruption of normal life hugely ramps up public anxiety.
In the midst of all this, the 5,510,000 vending machines across Japan* are still operating. According to a report I read years ago, these machines require electricity equivalent to the output of an entire nuclear power plant.
The most power-hungry are the soft-drink machines that have both refrigeration and heating (for hot canned coffee). Coca-Cola has perhaps the largest network of beverage machines across Japan. Unlike domestic rivals, as a global company Coca-Cola must listen to consumers around the world. So if concerned Americans, Canadians, Europeans and everyone else speak up forcefully, Coke must act. And Japanese domestic operators will be forced to follow suit.
So, please, spread this message via email, Twitter and Facebook to everyone you know. And please email Coca-Cola’s CEO asking him to pull the plug on his vending machines in Japan.
Coca-Cola knows they have a problem, as you can tell by the message on their corporate website:
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Food, Gaiatsu, Media, Practical advice | 14 Comments »
Posted by debito on 21st January 2011
GOJ NY Consulate director Kawamura: “Despite Shortage, Japan Keeps a High Wall for Foreign Labor” (“The Great Deflation” series, front page, Jan. 3) oversimplifies a complex situation and seems to present foreign labor as a cure-all for Japan’s aging and declining population.
The article also appears to embrace clichés about Japanese homogeneity without pointing out recent policy changes. Japan is not walling itself off; quite the opposite is true.
In its new growth strategy, the Japanese government recognized the value of skilled foreign workers and their contributions to economic growth. Japan aims to double its skilled foreign work force by 2020 and to double the number of students from abroad that it welcomes, up to 300,000.
This policy reinforces the encouraging growth in the number of registered foreign residents. Despite a recent drop noted in your article, over the past 10 years registered foreigners in Japan have increased by almost 40 percent (from 1.6 million to 2.2 million). Japan faces tough economic and demographic challenges. But Japan will continue to find the policy mix that works best for our society and our economy.
COMMENT: Have a beer, Mr. Kawamura. You’ve discharged your duty well. As is good gaiatsu media policy, when we have somebody saying something discomfiting about Japan in overseas media, the GOJ’s Gaijin Handlers will step in to present the “Official View” (would be interesting if, say, the USG did more of that in Japan’s media). Here’s the Japan Consulate in New York doing just that…
Posted in Bad Social Science, Gaiatsu, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 25th November 2010
Here’s another entry for the “shoe on the other foot” department — how Japan businesses squeal “foul!” when they face visa restrictions on their Japanese hires within Britain, and threaten sanctions and pullouts. Imagine if a foreign government were to try to do that to Japan for its visa programs, which are technically designed to give backdoor preferential treatment to unskilled workers? I’m pretty sure people would comment that the GOJ has the right to regulate its borders as it sees fit. Never mind comity, I guess.
Japan Times: “The JCCI has communicated to U.K. ministers and officials in September its strong concerns about the introduction of further limits on non-EU immigration and the possible impact on the existing operations and future investment of Japanese companies in the U.K.,” said Patrick Macartney, manager at the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry…
Katsuji Jibiki, a human-resources manager at Mitsubishi Electric Europe, revealed at a recent business seminar that his firm has been denied work permits to recruit about 30 engineers from outside the European Union.
He said, “These days we have big difficulties with work permits. Every year the government changes the policy and it is a big headache for us.”
Jibiki added that if the problems persist “there is a possibility of transferring our regional headquarters from the U.K. to continental Europe. We are thinking about such contingency plans.”
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Gaiatsu, Labor issues, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept. | 24 Comments »
Posted by debito on 19th November 2010
Independent: 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…
Posted in Blog Polls, Gaiatsu, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 24 Comments »
Posted by debito on 11th November 2010
In line with yesterday’s theme of foreign crime (in this case, crimes perpetrated against the foreign), has anyone heard of this case of a questionable death (ruled by police as an accident) of an American in Shinjuku last August in the domestic media? If the reverse were true (a US tourist killing a Japanese), you bet we’d hear about it, and have all manner of people screaming about how tourists are now part of the alleged foreign crime wave we must protect Japanese from.
I hope I don’t have to make the argument again that there is a double standard of justice and attention depending on whether the perp or the victim is Japanese or not, like I did in the Japan Times March 2009.
Posted in Gaiatsu, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tourism | 12 Comments »
Posted by debito on 24th October 2010
CJFF: Afternoon of October 13, 2010 immigration officers questioned Victor de la Cruz in his work site at Gako Ishikaya located at the basement of Tokyo’s Shimbashi station of JR line. The immigration officer is asking if he and his wife, Susan Lubos de la Cruz who is an employee of an African embassy and Victor as her dependent are real husband and wife. There is no established case and Victor went home afterwards.
Today, October 20, 2010 at around 11:30 a.m. the immigration officers went to the home of Mr. and Mrs. de la Cruz in Meguro-ku and Victor was alone in the house. Later an immigration officer who gave his name as Mr. Kato of Shinjuku immigration with telephone number 03 5155 0496 called Susan, the wife of Victor, informing that they, the immigration officers, sent Victor to the National Organization Tokyo Medical Center at around 1:00 p.m. Victor suffered heart attack and in comatose given a 10-20 % chance to live by the doctor as of this writing (October 20, 2010, 11:50 pm).
Susan learned that her husband heart have stopped beating for an hour before Victor was sent to the hospital. Upon arriving home, Susan found all of their things and belonging are scattered and she also learned from the immigration officers that they went to their house to look for evidence if their marriage is real or not…
Susan, a member of Gabriela-Japan, a chapter of the Philippine national women organization Gabriela with 2 seats in the Philippine House of Representatives, is asking her organization for legal assistance and possibly to question the Immigration Bureau about the legality of their actions. Nobody knows what transpired and what kind of treatment, pressure, or intimidation or whatever the immigration officer employed to make Victor to suffer from heart attack. Susan is also doubtful about the legality of the immigration officers’ action in raiding her house…
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Gaiatsu, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 10 Comments »
Posted by debito on 23rd October 2010
My, my, how the worm turns. Check out how the International Terminal at Haneda Airport has gotten Tokyo bathhouses all abuzz about profit. All those customary fears about foreigners and their troublemaking ways (cf. the Otaru Onsens Case) simply evaporate when there’s the whiff of a tidal wave of tourist money to be had.
Come back foreigners, all is forgiven! Never mind about all the hand-wringing ten plus years ago, or about actually protecting them with any laws against potential refusals nationwide. This at places with owners who aren’t quite so magnanimous (or open-minded) at restaurants, hotels, etc. No doubt if there are any problems or outright xenophobia, it’ll be depicted as the foreigners’ fault all over again.
Tokyo bathhouses scrub up to lure visitors
Yomiuri Shinbun, Oct. 22, 2010
Public bathhouses in Ota Ward, Tokyo, are bubbling with excitement at the prospect of a flood of foreign visitors the new-look Haneda Airport will bring.
Thursday’s opening of a new runway and terminal at Haneda make the airport an international hub, an opportunity the bathhouses hope will stop their business going down the drain.
The Ota public bathhouse association has made posters in four foreign languages, which explain local bathing manners, such as entering the bathtub after washing your body. It also plans to visit local public baths with foreign residents on Oct. 31–the day when regular international flights go operational at Haneda…
Posted in Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Good News, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, 日本語 | 8 Comments »
Posted by debito on 30th September 2010
Media: The U.S. House of Representatives turned up the pressure Wednesday on Japan, strongly urging Tokyo to return immediately half-Japanese children that lawmakers say have been kidnapped from their American parents.
The House voted overwhelmingly for a nonbinding resolution that “condemns the abduction and retention” of children held in Japan “in violation of their human rights and United States and international law.”
The resolution, which passed 416 to 1, also calls for Japan to allow Americans to visit their children and for Tokyo to join a 1980 international convention on child abduction that would allow for the quick return of the children to America.
Democratic Rep Jim Moran told reporters that the resolution sends a strong signal to Japan that the U.S. Congress “is watching and expecting action.”
Republican Rep. Chris Smith said, “Americans are fed up with our friend and ally Japan and their pattern of noncooperation.”
The Japanese Embassy said in a statement that Japan is sympathetic to the plight of children caught in custody battles between Japanese and American citizens and “is continuing to make sincere efforts to deal with this issue from the standpoint that the welfare of the child should be of the utmost importance.”
Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Good News, Japanese Government, Media | 21 Comments »
Posted by debito on 10th September 2010
Yesterday three friends and I visited the US Embassy in Tokyo to discuss employment and other issues of discrimination in Japan. The consular official who received us, a Mr Thomas Whitney, kindly gave us 90 minutes to give as much information as we liked for consideration in the US State Department Country Reports on Human Rights, an annual report given by the USG on individual countries that has in past years included information on even the Otaru Onsens Case (thanks). What follows are the summaries provided in advance of what we would say. Here’s mine, since it’s shortest:
The Japanese Government (GOJ) has a history of not abiding by its treaty obligations. With “Japanese Only” signs and rules in businesses nationwide (despite unlawfulness under both the Japanese Constitution and the UN CERD) and clear and present inequality towards non-Japanese in both the workplace and in protections under the law, Japan still has no national law with penalties against racial discrimination. The GOJ continues to make arguments to the UN against adopting one (i.e., freedom of speech and the efficacy of the Japanese judiciary for redress), while abuses towards non-Japanese and ethnically-diverse Japanese worsen (e.g., new and overt examples of hate speech and xenophobia, racist statements by politicians and media, even targeting of naturalized citizens for suspicion and exclusion). The GOJ has had more than a decade (having effected the CERD in 1996) to make legislative attempts to rectify this system, and its negligence presents ill precedent for abiding under future treaty signings (such as the Hague Convention on Child Abductions). Friends must help friends break bad habits, and gentle international pressure to assist the GOJ under a new reformist administration move in the right direction is a good thing for all concerned.
NB: Since our focus was on employment issues, I cited my experiences with TADD and Ambassador Mondale back in 1995 (See Ivan Hall CARTELS OF THE MIND), and the systematic full-time contracting of NJ in academia as witnessed through the Blacklist of Japanese Universities. I also mentioned that the GOJ has constantly refused attempts to release hard numbers on how many NJ academics in Japan have contracts vs tenure compared to Japanese academics getting contracts vs tenure (see more on this Academic Apartheid here). I also tied everyone’s presentations at the end with a request for USG visits to the Ministries of Education and Labor (following on Mondale’s precedent), to express awareness of the problem and the desire for proper enforcement of existing labor laws (if not the creation of a law against racial discrimination). Finally, I gave Mr Whitney the FRANCA handouts I gave the United Nations last March regarding general issues of discrimination in Japan (here and here).
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, FRANCA, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 15th August 2010
The GOJ just said it will join the Hague Convention (on Child Abductions, not child custody, as entitled below; guess that’s more palatable to readers), something sorely needed in in a society which acts as a haven for international child kidnapping after divorce. It’s an important announcement, with a couple of caveats: 1) It hasn’t happened yet (or it’s uncertain when it will happen, so it’s not quite news), and 2) it’s unclear, as the article notes (and many Debito.org Readers believe, according to a recent poll here) that Japan will properly enforce it if it does ratify (as it has done in the past with, say, the Convention on Racial Discrimination) with laws guaranteeing joint custody and/or visitation rights. Good news, kinda. Wait and see.
Kyodo: Japan has decided to become a party to a global treaty on child custody as early as next year amid growing calls abroad for the country to join it to help resolve custody problems resulting from failed international marriages, government sources said Saturday.
The government will develop domestic laws in line with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which provides a procedure for the prompt return of ‘‘abducted’’ children to their habitual country of residence and protects parental access rights, the sources said.
Complaints have been growing over cases in which a Japanese parent, often a mother, brings a child to Japan without the consent of the foreign parent, or regardless of custody determination in other countries, and denies the other parent access to the child…
However, the government has yet to determine when to ratify the treaty, as it is expected to take time to develop related domestic laws because of differences in the legal systems of Japan and other signatory nations.
Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Good News, Japanese Government | 11 Comments »
Posted by debito on 31st July 2010
Here are two articles talking about what I brought up yesterday, Japan’s “soft power”, and how the JET Programme is an example of that. First one delves into the history and goals, the other making the case for and against it, with input from former students under JETs’ tutelage.
We’ve talked extensively about JET cuts/possible abolition here already on Debito.org (archives here), and raised doubts about the efficacy of the program as a means to teach Japanese people a foreign language and “get people used to NJ” (which I agree based upon personal experience has been effective, as Anthony says below). I guess the angle to talk about this time, what with all the international networking and alumni associations, is the efficacy of the program as a means of projecting Japan’s “soft power”, if not “cool”, abroad.
I have already said that I am a fan of JET not for the projection of power abroad, but rather because the alternative, no JET, would not be less desirable. Otherwise, in this discussion, I haven’t any real angle to push (for a change), so let’s have a discussion. Give us some good arguments on how effective JET is abroad.
AP: Of the more than 52,000 people who have taken part, many are moving into leadership at companies, government offices and non-profits that make decisions affecting Japan, said David McConnell, an anthropology professor at The College of Wooster in Ohio and author of a book about JET.
“The JET Program is, simply put, very smart foreign policy,” he said.
James Gannon, executive director for the nonprofit Japan Center for International Exchange in New York, describes JET as a pillar of the U.S.-Japan relationship and the “best public diplomacy program that any country has run” in recent decades.
JT: Upon return to their home countries, they act as unofficial goodwill ambassadors for Japan, and their experience as a JET is looked upon favorably by employers such as the U.S. State Department. For a relatively small investment on the part of taxpayers, the JET program has created huge returns, welcoming generations of non-Japanese who have, and will, go on to promote better relations between Japan and their own country and expose Japanese to the outside world in unprecedented ways.
Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Education, Gaiatsu, Japanese Government | 7 Comments »
Posted by debito on 23rd July 2010
As an update to the whole Toyota and safety issues (with people blaming them on cultural differences), now we have news that Toyota is actually going to “review defect measures” and “beef up quality controls” using “outsiders” for “independent scrutiny”.
I myself am not all that optimistic. Toyota is, as the article says below, essentially “keeping it in the family”. After previously penalizing an American QC expert for his scrutiny, they’ve anointed a blue-ribbon panel of experts who are Japanese only. Yeah, that’ll learn ‘em about “cultural differences”, all right. Especially since the article below once again quotes Toyota as still trying to “bridge a cultural gap”. As if culture is any factor here in making unsafe cars safe. Enforced cluelessness.
Meanwhile, a US federal grand jury is subpoenaing Toyota to make sure the documentation doesn’t also continue to “stay in the family”. That article and video below too.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, Ironies & Hypocrisies | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 18th July 2010
As another angle to the subject of the documentary The Cove, here we have Japan Times naturalist columnist (and fellow naturalized citizen) C.W. Nicol offering his view on what’s going on in Taiji. What’s interesting is his take on the matter of animal cruelty. Although he supports whaling as an issue and has no truck with tradition involving hunting of wild animals, what gets him is what the hunt does to the people in the neighborhood. I’m reminded of what goes on at Pitcairn Island (you get a society removed enough long enough from the authorities, they’ll invent their own rules, even if at variance with permissible conduct in society at large, and claim it as tradition). It was another reason for me personally to feel the conduct at Taiji is reprehensible.
The problem is that although Taiji is a small community, once it’s claimed to be “Japanese tradition”, you get one of the world’s most powerful economies behind it. Then all manner of issues (Japan bashing, economics, a general dislike at the national level of having outsiders telling Japan what to do, fear of right-wing repercussions, and corruption of culturally-tolerant debate arenas overseas) adhere and make the debate murky.
Nicol: What horrified me in Taiji was that the dolphins were not harpooned, and thus secured to be quickly dispatched. Instead, the hunters were simply throwing spears into a melee of the animals swimming in a small inlet they had sealed off from the sea, hitting them here and there. Then they’d retrieve the spear by hauling in a rope tied to it and hurl it again or use it close up to stab with. This was a far cry from the efficiency — and respect for life, and death — of an Inuit hunter or a whaler at sea.
That first time I witnessed the Taiji killings, I saw a dolphin take 25 minutes to die, while on another hunt I saw one that thrashed and bled for a horrible 45 minutes before it succumbed to its wounds. Killing, if justified and necessary, should surely be merciful and quick — yet I even saw an old grandmother laughing at a dolphin’s death throes and pointing out the animal to the small child with her as if it was some kind of joke. That really hurt and shook my belief in people.
In addition to this catalog of horrors, though, as a former marine mammal research technician in Canada, it shocked me that all those dolphins were being captured and killed with no government inspector or fisheries biologist on hand to take data and monitor the kill. I protested about what was going on to the fishermen, and to Town Hall officials in Taiji. I even went to Tokyo and protested to a senior official in the Fisheries Agency, but he just sneered and said, “What does it matter, they die anyway.”…
Posted in Cultural Issue, Food, Gaiatsu, Japanese Government, Tangents | 18 Comments »
Posted by debito on 4th July 2010
For a Sunday Tangent, here is a hard-hitting article (thanks CNN) showing how activism against a corrupt but entrenched system gets treated: Detention and interrogation of activists, possible sentencing under criminal law, and international bodies turning a blind eye to their own mandate. Lucky for the author (and us) he is out on bail so he could write this. He wouldn’t be bailed if he were NJ. More on the IWC’s corruption in documentary The Cove — yet another reason why the bully boys who target people’s families (yet don’t get arrested for their “activism”) don’t want you to see it.
Sato opens with: After just two days of closed-door negotiations, the leaders who had gathered at the International Whaling Commission in Agadir, Morocco, announced no agreement was reached on the IWC chair’s proposal to improve whale conservation.
Greenpeace did not support the proposal, but we had hoped governments would change it to become an agreement to end whaling, not a recipe for continuing it.
It is particularly disappointing to me, because my professional commitment to end the whale hunt in my country of Japan — which led to the exposure of an embezzlement scandal at the heart of the whaling industry — has come at significant personal cost.
The investigation I conducted with my colleague, Toru Suzuki, led to our arrests in front of banks of media outlets who had been told about it in advance.
The homes of Greenpeace office and staff members were raided. Seventy-five police officers were deployed to handcuff two peaceful activists. We were held without charge for 23 days; questioned for up to 10 hours a day while tied to chairs and without a lawyer present. We are now out on bail awaiting verdict and sentencing, expected in early September.
If I can risk my future to bring the fraudulent Japanese hunt to an end, if whaling whistle-blowers are prepared to risk their lives to expose the corruption, how can it be that the IWC has yet again failed to take the political risk to pressure my government to end the scientific whaling sham?…
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Tangents, United Nations | 18 Comments »
Posted by debito on 3rd June 2010
Mark in Yayoi on Okinawa Futenma Issue: Debito, when reading your essay, I was surprised to find that I agreed with you, but for almost totally opposite reasons…
The American occupation of Okinawa, unjust as it might be, is a net benefit to the mainland Tokyo government, which gets protection while simultaneously pretending that it’s “Japan” bearing the burden when in fact it’s Okinawa that suffers — they’re the people putting up with the loud airplanes and unruly soldiers. And these people bearing the cost of the protection were never seen as equals by Tokyo — they were used as human shields in a hopeless defense of Japan in 1945, and used as tax-paying slaves in the decades before that.
The US bases need to leave, and Okinawa needs to be free. Not free from the US, and not free to be Japan’s 47th prefecture (both chronologically and on the status totem pole), but free to be *its own independent nation.*
Exactly what “sovereignty” can the Tokyo government legitimately claim over the people of Okinawa, if we’re trying to redress past wrongs?…
Posted in Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government | 18 Comments »
Posted by debito on 2nd June 2010
As the momentum ebbs from his administration, Hatoyama is in a no-win situation. But remember who put him there. If America really is the world’s leading promoter of democracy, it should consider how it is undermining Japan’s political development. After nearly 60 years of corrupt one-party rule, Japan finally has a fledgling two-party system. Yet that is withering on the vine thanks to American geopolitical manipulation.
We keep hearing how Japan’s noncooperation will weaken precious U.S.-Japan ties. But those ties have long been a leash — one the U.S., aware of how susceptible risk-averse Japan is to “separation anxiety,” yanks at whim. The “threatened bilateral relationship” claim is disingenuous — the U.S. is more concerned with bolstering its military-industrial complex than with Asia’s regional stability…
That’s why this columnist says: Never mind Futenma. All U.S. bases should be withdrawn from Japanese soil, period. Anachronisms, the bases have not only created conflicts of interest and interfered with Japan’s sovereignty, they are now incapacitating our government. Japan should slip the collar of U.S. encampments and consider a future under a less dependent, more equal relationship with the U.S.
Posted in Articles & Publications, Gaiatsu, History, Japanese Politics | 44 Comments »