United Nations human rights experts say Japan was wrong to detain former Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn; owes him compensation

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I wrote back in January in my Shingetsu News Agency column that Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan’s gaijin gulag was the right move — not least because Japan’s heavy-handed prosecutorial powers and treatment of criminal suspects is in itself a violation of human rights.  Now it turns out the United Nations would agree.  An AP article follows, courtesy of lots of people.  As Debito.org Reader JDG points out, “How’s that effort to turn Tokyo into an international financial hub going, BTW? Attracting much elite foreign talent? I guess Japan will be back in touch with the U.N. when it wants some more UNESCO listings…”

Given that Japan has been shamed for decades over its human rights record, and still has not passed a criminal law against racial discrimination as promised under international treaty it signed a quarter century ago (yes, way back in 1995!), I doubt this will mean much. But at least it’s a delicious vindication for our advocacy camp. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Crime
Human rights panel: Japan was wrong to detain Carlos Ghosn; owes him compensation
Associated Press/Japan Today, Nov. 24, 2020
By JAMEY KEATEN
Courtesy https://japantoday.com/category/crime/Human-rights-panel-Japan-was-wrong-to-detain-Carlos-Ghosn-owes-him-compensation

GENEVA — A panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations said Monday that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan and has urged “compensation” for him from the Japanese government.

The Japanese government denounced the report as a “totally unacceptable” viewpoint that will change nothing in the country’s legal process.

In its opinion published Monday, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 and early 2019 was “arbitrary” and called on Japan’s government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr Ghosn without delay.” A determination of whether detention is arbitrary is based on various criteria, including international norms of justice.

While Ghosn is no longer in Japan, having fled in a dramatic operation that drew headlines worldwide, the opinion could weigh on minds in courtrooms in the country and beyond. It could affect, for example, the possible extradition of two Americans, Michael Taylor and his son Peter, whom Japanese prosecutors say helped the executive sneak out of Japan.

Ghosn, a 66-year-old with French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades, rescuing it from near-bankruptcy. He was arrested in November 2018 on charges of breach of trust, in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation. He denies wrongdoing.

In December, he fled Japan to Lebanon while out on bail awaiting trial, meaning his case will not go on in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely.

The five-member working group, which is made up of independent experts, called on Japan to ensure a “full and independent investigation” of Ghosn’s detention, and asked the government “to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.”

The working group said that “the appropriate remedy would be to accord Mr Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations.”

The opinions of the working group are not binding on countries but aim to hold them up to their own human rights commitments. Among its past rulings involved the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was likewise deemed to have had his human rights violated.

The panel, which is independent from the United Nations, noted a string of allegations from Ghosn and his representatives, such as that he was subjected to solitary confinement and long interrogations at day or night, and denied access to court pleadings. His team claimed that interrogations of Ghosn were aimed to extract a confession.

Japan’s system has been repeatedly criticized by human rights advocates. The panel cited previous concerns about Japan’s so-called daiyo kangoku system of detention and interrogation that relies heavily on confessions and could expose detainees to torture, ill-treatment and coercion.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the government had applied “appropriate procedures” in the case, and it could not provide full information to the working group before a trial had begun. For that reason, the ministry added, it would be inappropriate for the working group to make a decision on the Ghosn case “based on limited information and biased allegations” from him and his team.

“The opinion is totally unacceptable, and is not legally binding,” the ministry statement said. It also warned that the opinion could set a dangerous precedent, and “encourage those who would stand criminal trial to entertain the idea that flight can be justified and prevent the realization of justice and the proper functioning of the criminal justice system in each country.”

“Japan can by no means accept the opinion of the Working Group regarding the case of the defendant Carlos Ghosn,” it added.

Ghosn lawyer Jessica Finelle welcomed the “brave” decision by the panel and said its members had been “hard on the Japanese legal system” and the way that Japanese authorities treated Mr Ghosn, “specifically, violating numerous times his presumption of innocence, presenting him as guilty, orchestrating two of his arrests with the media…”

Ghosn was “very happy” and “relieved” about the opinion, she said.

“He is somehow is getting back his dignity because he’s been humiliated during this time that he was held in Japan,” she said.

Ghosn has accused Nissan and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block a fuller integration of Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA of France.

Ghosn’s lawyers filed a petition with the working group in March last year, appealing to its role to look into cases in which governments are alleged to have wrongly detained individuals under agreed international human rights conventions.

Its members declined to speak to reporters about the opinion, the U.N. human rights office said.
ENDS

======================
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My latest SNA VM column 16: “US Elections Repudiate Trump’s Japan-Style Ethnostate”, suggesting that the US might be taking real steps towards a post-racial society

mytest

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Visible Minorities 16: US Elections Repudiate Trump’s Japan-Style Ethnostate
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, November 16, 2020

SNA (Tokyo) — The US elections captured the world’s attention. No wonder. Given America’s hegemony as an economic, political, cultural, and military power, the results underpin the future of geopolitics and world order.

But here’s another angle: This election offers the world some insights into how countries painfully evolve into multiethnic, post-racial societies. It even demonstrated how enfranchised people would rather destroy their governing system than relinquish power.

Fortunately, they didn’t win. Let’s recount some important facts.

The contest between incumbent Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was indeed, as depicted in campaign slogans, a battle for the “soul of America.”

At stake was whether Trump’s nepotistic, corrupt administration—one that shamelessly used whatever means they could to perpetuate their power, punish political enemies, and undermine democracy both domestic and worldwide—would get four more years; or whether America’s place as a world leader, for better or worse, would be restored to less capricious leadership, with policymaking sane enough to keep its own citizens alive in a self-inflicted pandemic.

Clearly American voters chose the latter course; Biden won. He got five million more votes in an election where more people voted for a president than ever before, with voting rates on track to be among the highest in modern US history. […]

[There are of course some caveats, and] given the current status of Trump refusing to concede the election, and his lackeys interfering with a transition to the presumptive winner, it’s clear that no matter who wins, Republicans feel they are the only ones entitled to run the country. They view cheating, sabotage, soliciting foreign interference, and spreading unscientific conspiracy theories as fair play. The United States’ 233-year experiment in democracy be damned; 73 million voters in this election agreed with Trump’s authoritarianism. The intractable polarization of American politics is complete.

Still, the fact remains that this election was a repudiation of Trump, and, in retrospect, it’s a textbook example of democracy in action. […]

Ultimately, the history books will remember this about the past four years: Trump was the worst president in American history—the only one who was impeached, served only one term, and lost the popular vote. Twice.

Well, good for the United States. But there are also lessons here for Japan, particularly its minorities: how countries make slow and painful transitions to a post-racial society…

Read the rest on SNA at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/11/16/visible-minorities-us-elections-repudiate-trumps-japan-style-ethnostate/

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities 15: “New Covid Foreign Resident Re-Entry Rules Still Racist”, on how they are actually a natural outcome of Japan’s bullying bureaucracy (Oct. 19, 2020)

mytest

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

Hi Blog.  Here’s my latest Shingetsu News Agency “Visible Minorities” column 15.  Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

=========================
Visible Minorities: New Covid Foreign Resident Re-Entry Rules Still Racist
OCT 19, 2020 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/10/19/visible-minorities-new-covid-foreign-resident-re-entry-rules-still-racist/

SNA (Tokyo) — Sometime during your life in Japan, you will probably feel a chilling attitude in Japan’s bureaucracy: as a foreign resident, you don’t really matter. To Japan’s policymakers, you’re at best an existence to be tolerated, at worst an unpredictable element that needs constant policing.

You’ll see it in things like Japan’s special foreign registry systems, or the “Gaijin Cards” that must be carried 24-7 and leave you vulnerable to random street ID checks by racist cops.

But you might not have realized until recently the most dehumanizing tenet of all: That foreigners should have no legal expectation to belong here.

Japan’s Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that Japan’s foreign residents have no “right of sojourn,” i.e., to leave Japan temporarily and expect to return. (Japan Times columnist Colin Jones called it a “reverse Hotel California”–you can leave any time you like, but can never check back in.)

That means that even if you invested your entire life in Japan, married a Japanese, had children, paid taxes, bought property, started a business, and even achieved Permanent Residency (which by definition should be a legitimate claim to reside here forever), nothing you did matters. You cross the border, you’re out.

Hypothetically, if push comes to shove, a Permanent Resident will have the same status as any foreign tourist at the border.

Well, that hypothetical came true last April when, due to Covid, Japan decided to bar all foreigners from re-entering Japan–even though Japanese could still return and merely quarantine. No other developed country does this, and there is no science indicating that Japanese passports offer enhanced epidemiological protection. It was purely arbitrary.

So foreign residents found themselves stranded overseas apart from their Japanese families, or watched helplessly from Japan as their overseas kith and kin died. This heartless and explicit racism attracted significant international attention, so from October 1, Japan announced it would open its borders to foreign residents under certain conditions.

But it turns out that, realistically, these conditions are still a ban…. By arbitrarily creating a tight 72-hour hour window requiring special paperwork unattuned to the realities of Covid testing overseas (especially when the test is meaningless if you get infected on the plane), Japan’s bureaucrats merely deflected international criticism from its regular racism by replacing it with new, improved racism.

Read the entire article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/10/19/visible-minorities-new-covid-foreign-resident-re-entry-rules-still-racist/

======================
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Updated petition against Japan Foreign Resident Re-Entry Ban: Still discriminatory: Requires extra hurdles for all NJ only, including extra GOJ permissions and overseas Covid tests

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader Sven Kramer sends this update to a petition he launched against the Japanese Government’s Re-Entry Ban on visa-carrying NJ Residents, who were barred (unlike Japanese citizens) on an unscientific supposition that foreigners are more likely to carry Covid.  And this racist policy caused great hardship to many.

As of September 1, 2020, thanks in part to some impressive international and domestic protests, the Japanese Government as amended this ban. Now it’s no longer a blanket ban. Instead, there are extra hoops, including an exit permission and an unreasonable expectation of test results abroad (when domestic tests can reveal the same symptoms) that are only applied to foreigners, same as before.

Moreover, Japanese citizens are still treated as less likely to have disease, in spite of all the science that shows that Covid does not recognize differences in nationality. Consider this new report from the Japan Times, excerpting (courtesy of W):

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[…] Even so, entry procedures will differ for those abroad who are seeking re-entry and residents in Japan who are planning to leave… [sparking concerns that even legal residents may face deportation due to unclear and strict requirements that differ from those applied to residents with Japanese passports].

Non-Japanese who left Japan by the end of August will need to contact the nearest Japanese Embassy or diplomatic office to acquire a letter confirming they have valid visas and are allowed to return. Those who left as early as April 3 or after travel restrictions were imposed on their destinations, and were denied the right to return as their circumstances did not qualify for exceptional treatment, will also be able to obtain such certificates.

People who are planning to leave Japan after Sept.1 are required to give the Immigration Services Agency detailed plans on their itinerary and will be allowed to travel as soon as they receive a document confirming the request has been accepted. They will not need to apply for additional documents from an embassy or consular office.

The ISA has warned, however, that they may suspend document issuance for applicants seeking re-entry if testing capacity at airports is insufficient to handle all foreign travelers. Japan was planning to boost its testing capacity to 10,000 per day at the major international airports ー Haneda, Narita and Kansai.

The ISA is set to disclose an email address where requests for re-entry can be sent on its website at noon on Tuesday. Travelers will need to input their residence card number, nationality, and other details as stated on their passport, as well as details of the trip, including destination, planned departure and re-entry dates and information on which airports the traveler will use.

Residents planning to leave between Tuesday and Sunday are requested to share the date of their return during the departure procedure at the airport.

However, starting from September, all non-Japanese, including permanent residents, will be required to undergo specific tests for COVID-19 in accordance with Japan’s guidelines prior to their leaving for Japan. The government has warned that not complying may result in denied entry.

The Immigration Services Agency has claimed the strict conditions are aimed at limiting the spread of the virus in Japan. In contrast, however, Japanese nationals coming from abroad are not required to undergo pre-entry tests for COVID-19…

Full article at:https://www.japantimes.co.jp/?post_type=news&p=2739610
===============================

Sven’s amended petition is below, forwarding with permission. Feel free to sign it. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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https://www.change.org/p/stop-the-entry-ban-on-legal-foreign-residents-of-japan/u/27637556

About the lifting of the reentry ban against legal non-Japanese residents of Japan since September 1

クラーマー スベン

Japan

SEP 1, 2020 — 

About the lifting of the reentry ban against legal non-Japanese residents of Japan since September 1, 2020, and the future of this petition

Since September 1, 2020, all legal non-Japanese residents of Japan can leave and reenter the country. This is a very important and uplifting development. With this most recent easing of restrictions, almost all points of this petition were met.

However, one vital point of this petition (equal treatment of all legal residents at the border regardless of nationality) is still not fulfilled. Only non-Japanese residents have to apply for a Receipt for Request of Re-entry at the Immigration Services Agency before departing from Japan. No explanation in given why this is necessary and why a valid residence card and the normal reentry permit is not enough. Furthermore, only non-Japanese residents (except for diplomats and special permanent residents) have to take a PCR test abroad within 72 hours before the departure for Japan. However, this requirement can nobody meet who stays in a country which does not test people without symptoms or does not deliver the results on time. And anyway, the PCR test at the Japanese port of entry should suffice. Residents of Japan have Japanese health insurance. This is why they are entitled to treatment in Japan if the PCR test at the Japanese airport should turn out to be positive.

Requesting negative PCR tests before going to Japan should be limited to non-Japanese who want to newly enter Japan. This requirement should not be bestowed upon legal residents, who have their livelihoods already in Japan. Therefore, this petition is going to continue until the requirement of PCR tests abroad is abolished for all legal residents of Japan regardless of nationality.

The official documents in question by the Ministry of Justice of Japan:
“Regarding denial of landing to prevent the spread of COVID-19”: http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327574.pdf
“Additional Epidemic Prevention and Control Measures for the Entry of Re-entry of Foreign Nationals”: http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327575.pdf

Japanese Version:

令和2年9月1日開始の再入国拒否政策の緩和と今後の対応について

日本の中長期在留資格を有する外国人(外国籍の住民)は令和2年9月1日から水際対策が大幅緩和され、海外旅行の後で再入国できるようになりました。これは嬉しいこととして評価します。これで本陳情書の請願がほとんど叶いました。

しかし、本陳情書の重要な請願の一つ(外国籍住民と日本国籍保持者ならびに特別永住者との同等な待遇)にまだ適合していません。具体的には、外国籍住民だけ海外へ出国前に出入国在留管理庁に届け出なければなりません。なぜ有効な在留カードと通常の再入国許可だけで足りないのか、どこにも説明されていません。そして、8月5日からのルールと同じように、日本に帰る前に渡航先で出発前72時間以内に陰性のPCR検査の証明書を手に入れなければなりません(「外交」、「公務」、「特別永住者」という在留資格・身分を除く)。ただ、これは渡航先によってクリアできない条件です。症状がないと検査が受けられない国または検査結果が72時間以内に出ない国からの出発だったら、クリアできません。しかし、日本の空港でのPCR検査だけで十分のはずです。なぜかというと、住民は日本の健康保険に加入しており、仮に再入国時のPCR検査を陽性であっても、日本の健康保険を使った上日本の医療機関で治療を受ける権利があるはずです。

海外で出発前のPCR検査は新規に入国しようとする外国人に対して求めるべきだと考えております。すでに生活基盤を日本に築いたものに対する待遇であるべきではありません。よって、国籍を問わず日本の全住民に対して海外でのPCR検査を受ける義務が撤廃されるまで本陳情活動を続けます。

法務省HPからの史料:
新型コロナウイルス感染症の拡大防止に係る上陸拒否について(令和2年8月28日現在): http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327502.pdf
外国人の入国・再入国に係る追加的な防疫措置について(令和2年8月28日現在): http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327504.pdf

======================
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SIM on the text of the Ministry of Justice’s “Foreigner Re-Entry Ban”, on paper. Debito.org Readers are invited to offer their experiences in practice.

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Hi Blog. Let me reproduce here some a comment that Debito.org Reader SIM made elsewhere:

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SIM: I haven’t posted here in quite some time, but with the abhorrent situation as it is I must say something. The reprehensible circumstances for Chris above are something that nobody should face at any time in their life. The manner in which the government has taken this policy of banishing any legal resident with a foreign passport from returning to their livelihood, their family and any assets that they hold if they set one foot outside Japan because of a virus that cannot see the color of said passport is underhand to say the least.

Adding insult to injury is the law on which the MoJ is basing this discriminatory treatment. From a document called “Regarding refusal of landing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (novel Coronavirus)” on the MoJ website, I have found that the legislation relied upon is Article 5 of Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act which reads as follows:

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

“Article 5 (1) A foreign national who falls under any of the following items is denied permission to land in Japan:
“Paragraphs (i) to (xiii) (abbrev.)
“(xiv) Beyond those persons listed in items (i) through (xiii), a person whom the Minister of Justice has reasonable grounds to believe is likely to commit an act which could be detrimental to the interests or public security of Japan.
“(2) (abbrev.)”

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

Basically, this shows that the government of Japan believes that, with the outbreak of COVID-19, notwithstanding the fact that we may be legal residents and taxpayers, anybody with a foreign passport is a ‘danger’ to the nation and should be banished if they dare to venture outside of its borders.

This is literally the Government of Japan sticking their middle finger at us who have contributed so much to the nation. With one 3 page notice, the MoJ has arbitrarily revoked both our legal status here and the basic human rights to free movement and to domicile, not to mention the human rights of our spouses and children.

Frankly, with the government’s complete lack of abilities and policies for the current pandemic, and now this, the latest instance of their complete disregard for legal residents, I’ve had enough. After 36 years here, with nearly 30 years as a law abiding taxpayer, I’ve decided to get out while I still can. I am in the process of tying up all loose ends and returning to my country of birth, which I might add has not had any community trasmission of COVID-19 for over two and a half months.  Regards, SIM.

(The MOJ documentation of border re-entry rules for non-citizens, as of July 1, 2020, is at the bottom of this blog post.)

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

COMMENT:  Debito.org invites Readers to comment on their experiences with the Ministry of Justice at the border.  Whether it’s a) you left and re-entered without incident, b) you inquired about leaving in advance and received information that inspired or dispelled confidence in the process, c) you received an unexpected surprise at the border despite all the information you had, or d) you wound up in exile, etc., please let us know. Please use a pseudonym.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

What follows are some excerpts of some of what I’ve heard so far.  Click on the names to read the full comment.

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

Chris:  “I had to go to a separate counter and forced to sign documentation barring me from re-entry which I reluctantly signed because had I not signed, immigration officials probably wouldn’t have let me proceed or questioned me. Had I known that I was essentially forced to sign documentation barring me from re-entry, I would’ve considered not leaving. Now, I can no longer see my wife and children.”

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

Japan Times courtesy Rochelle Kopp:

“Japan was been unique among the G7 nations in treating its foreign residents differently from its citizens, who are allowed to enter the country as long as they submit to a PCR test at their port of entry and agree to isolate themselves for two weeks afterward… The government permits exceptions to the re-entry ban on humanitarian grounds, such as when someone needs to visit a critically ill relative or attend a funeral. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, however, which doesn’t allow for certainty or reliability… A recent survey conducted by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan of its members showed that 78 percent of them regard the entry ban as a significant burden to their businesses. In addition, 79 percent of the affected companies say their turnover is endangered because ongoing projects cannot be completed and new projects cannot be initiated.”

Amelie Le Boeuf: “I resent having all the obligations of a Japanese citizen when it comes to paying tax etc., but not the same protection. Seeing how my fellow foreign residents are being treated makes me feel like we’ll always just be ‘pawns,’ second-class residents, that can be discarded whenever Japan enters into a crisis period.”

Joe Van Alstyne:  “Many of us are committed to living here and do everything we can to positively contribute to Japanese society. But this situation feels like we’re being treated no differently than basic tourists, despite the work we’ve put in to live here.”

Law Professor Colin P.A. Jones: “The courts have always been clear that non-Japanese people have no constitutionally protected ‘right of sojourn’ to leave the country temporarily and freely return. What we are now seeing is just a manifestation of a basic legal question that has always been there for non-Japanese residents: How safe is it to invest in Japan — time, energy, capital — if you suddenly may be unable to enter (or re-enter) the country?”

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

Chottomat: “I’m going to leave Japan on 7th August for the UK for ‘medical reasons’ with my spouse visa. I phoned the immigration and they said it was a case of “on the day you return, you state your reason for leaving to the immigration clerk, and they decide on the spot whether to let you back in or not. Supporting documentation would help, he said. Still doesn’t get around the blatant racism, though.”

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

Realitycheck:  “A Japanese person I know had the audacity to shrug off members of his international company being refused entry to Japan. He said it wasn’t discrimination but I put him right about that. I also told him he had benefited greatly from the non Japanese system in his company and had he been a foreigner in a Japanese company, he would never have reached his current position of privilege. He probably won’t speak to me again but that’s fine. This and other attitudes from a Japanese who has lived abroad and been given equal treatment in non-Japanese societies and companies, are pretty normal.”

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

Ben:  “Australia ensured that its permanent residents could return, particular if they had immediate family in Australia. Why should Japan bar me from returning? It’s simply unfair!”

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

NiklasDid anyone see the press conference with the Minister of Foreign Affairs? Basically this guy doesn‘t care at all that all foreign residents are barred from entering the country. Japan isn‘t even hiding it anymore, they just don‘t give a damn about foreign residents.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qx-0he_oj20

Because of that Germany decided to ban Japanese travelers as long as German residents are not allowed in to Japan.
https://japan.diplo.de/ja-ja/service/-/2321032

Note how this only applies to travelers, since banning legal non German residents would be illegal according to German law of course.

出入国制限

ドイツへの渡航

疫学的状況が一部改善したことを受け、EU理事会は2020年6月30日にEU委員会による入国制限緩和に関する草案に基づく勧告を採択しました。この勧告に従って、加盟国では段階的に制限が緩和されていきます。理事会勧告では、制限緩和にあたって相互性も考慮されるべきであるとしています。

日本の長期滞在資格を持ったドイツ人が日本からドイツに渡航する場合、管理された枠組みの中で日本に再入国できる見通しが持てるようになることが、ドイツ連邦共和国にとって特に重要な懸案となっています。また、それ以外のドイツ人に関しても、特段の理由がある場合は管理された枠組みの中で日本への入国が認められるべきです。そのため、ドイツから日本への渡航者への入国制限緩和が合意に至るまで、当面、日本からドイツへの渡航者の入国制限は継続されます。

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

Jaocnanoni: “There are no regular direct connections between Japan and a country not on the ban list, and just changing planes at an airport in a country on the list makes you eligible for the ban. Under this circumstances it’s boiling down to a de facto blanket ban, and the few exceptions in place aren’t applicable for the vast majority of NJ residents.”

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

Sven Kramer: “– The number of foreign long-term residents, permanent residents and foreigners who live as relatives of Japanese citizens, is more than 2 million people.
– They are equal to Japanese citizens in regard of being part of Japanese society, and contributing daily to Japan as employees, teachers, business owners, or tax payers, to name a few of their contributions.
– Because of this, if they have to travel abroad for a very good or unavoidable reason, they must not be subject to the generic entry ban like short-term visitors and should be granted reentry into Japan under the same conditions that apply to Japanese citizens and special permanent residents immediately.
– One part of Japanese society must not be treated like random visitors even under the intention to prevent the international spread of COVID-19.
– Especially the reentry ban on foreign relatives of Japanese citizens is a huge problem, which is not only a human rights violation, but probably a violation of Japan’s constitution, too.”

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

John:  Latest iteration, courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as of July 22, 2020:

https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/fna/page4e_001053.html

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

The MOJ documentation as of July 1, 2020, courtesy of SIM (click on image to expand):

(Originals on MOJ site here)

ENDS

======================
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“A Despotic Bridge Too Far”, Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 12 on Japan’s racist blanket ban on Foreign Resident re-entry

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Visible Minorities Column 12: A Despotic Bridge Too Far
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, July 20, 2020

http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/07/20/visible-minorities-a-despotic-bridge-too-far/

SNA (Tokyo) — How bad does it have to get? I’m talking about Japan’s cruelty and meanness towards its Non-Japanese residents. How bad before people think to step in and stop it?

I think we now have an answer to that due to Japan’s recent policy excluding only foreigners from re-entry at its border, even if they’ve lived here for decades, as a by-product of the Covid-19 pandemic. Japanese re-entrants get let in after testing and quarantine; no other G7 country excludes all foreigners only.

Consequently, many Non-Japanese residents found themselves stranded overseas, separated from their Japanese families, lives and livelihoods, watching their investments dry up and visa clocks run out without recourse. Or perhaps found themselves stranded within Japan, as family members abroad died, and the prospect of attending their funeral or taking care of personal matters in person would mean exile.

However, protests against this policy have been unusually mainstream, including institutions who have been for generations largely silent regarding other forms of discrimination towards foreigners in Japan. Consider these examples of how institutionalized and embedded racism is in Japan:

You’re probably aware that Japan has long advertised itself as a “monocultural, homogeneous society,” denying that minorities, racial or ethnic, exist within it. But did you know that Japan still refuses to include Non-Japanese residents as “people” in its official population tallies? Or to list them on official family registries as “spouses” of Japanese? Or that Japan’s constitution expressly reserves equality under the law for Japanese citizens (kokumin) in its Japanese translation? This complicates things for all Non-Japanese residents to this day…

Read the entire article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/07/20/visible-minorities-a-despotic-bridge-too-far/

======================
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American Chamber of Commerce in Japan calls on J govt to cease “double standard restricting [Foreign Japan Residents’] travel, economic, and familial opportunities based on nationality” in Coronavirus policy

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Hi Blog.  Now the ACCJ has spoken out against the Japanese government’s coronavirus policy treatment of NJ Residents that you see nowhere else in fellow developed countries.

As Debito.org concurs with a resounding cheer (as it’s what we’ve been saying all along), the ACCJ notes in its second statement:

“Such individuals, especially those with permanent residency (eijuken) and their accompanying family members or those who are immediate family members of Japanese nationals, and those with long-term working visas and their accompanying family members, need to be allowed to enter Japan under the same conditions as Japanese citizens to continue living and working in this country. Such foreign nationals are actively and positively contributing to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan… At minimum, Japan should adopt the approach of other G7 countries to allow foreigners with established residency status and their immediate family members to depart and enter the country on the same basis as Japanese nationals.”

Bravo.  This is in addition to the recent Japan Association of National Universities’ similar call on behalf of international students.  Courtesy of TJL.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

THE AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN JAPAN CALLS ON GOVERNMENT OF JAPAN FOR EQUAL TREATMENT OF ALL RESIDENTS

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5eb491d611335c743fef24ce/t/5f0c1ed4aee1c9281ab07fc0/1594629845288/200713+PR_English.pdf

JULY 13, 2020 [TOKYO] – The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) today issued a second statement [included below] in response to re-entry travel restrictions placed on residents of Japan who are not Japanese citizens and called on the Government of Japan to provide fair and equal treatment for all residents regardless of nationality.

“Foreign residents of Japan who have made a decision to build a life here and contribute to the Japanese economy should not be subject to a double standard restricting their travel, economic, and familial opportunities based on nationality,” said Christopher J. LaFleur, ACCJ Chairman. “While we applaud and support the Japanese government’s efforts to manage the COVID-19 crisis, a resident’s nationality provides no basis on which to assess risk or assign travel privilege in relation to COVID-19.”

Foreign nationals actively and positively contribute to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan.

The ACCJ statement expresses concern among our international business community that the prohibition currently in place is detrimental to Japan’s long-term interests, in particular as to Japan’s attractiveness as a place to invest and station managerial employees with regional responsibility.

The ACCJ requests that the Japanese Government establish a re-entry permit or process whereby travelers entering Japan under the ‘humanitarian’ exception can receive an assurance that they will be admitted to Japan before they board flights outside of Japan.

The ACCJ also requests that any measures taken to permit Japanese nationals to travel for business, or, in the future, travel for other purposes, also apply equally to foreign nationals with proper permanent residency as well as their spouses and children, foreign nationals who are spouses or children of Japanese nationals, long- term visa holders and their accompanying family members, and foreign nationals residing in Japan under a Japanese working visa.

Finally, the ACCJ would like to see the Japanese government announce clear timelines for the resumption of travel and implement clear policies with the minimum documentation necessary. This will enable those properly desiring to return to Japan to make plans free of anxiety and continue their contributions to Japan’s economy, society, and international relations.  ENDS

About ACCJ

page2image3443582304

The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) was established in 1948 by representatives of 40 American companies. Over its 72-year history, the ACCJ has positioned itself as one of the most influential business organizations in Japan. The ACCJ has approximately 3,000 members who together represent over 600 globally minded companies with offices in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. Working closely with the U.S. and Japanese governments, business organizations and others, the ACCJ engages in activities that advance its mission of further developing commerce between the U.S. and Japan, promoting the interests of U.S. companies and members, and improving the international business environment in Japan including the commitment to demonstrating responsible corporate citizenship. The ACCJ’s more than 60 committees represent a variety of industries and make policy recommendations through advocacy tools such as viewpoints, public comments, and white papers. The ACCJ holds on average 500 events and seminars a year, many of which focus on government policy and economic trends. The ACCJ is also committed to promoting charitable and CSR activities.

PRESS CONTACT: ACCJ Communications (comms@accj.or.jp)

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

FULL ACCJ STATEMENT

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5eb491d611335c743fef24ce/t/5f0433e6e9c21e3821625bca/1594110951359/200707+Second+Statement+on+re-entry+travel+restrictions.pdf

July 7, 2020

Second Statement on Re-entry Restrictions Placed on Permanent Resident and Visa Holders

The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) expresses our concerns regarding Japan’s immigration authorities’ limitations on the entry of non-Japanese nationals residing in Japan during the COVID-19 crisis.

The ACCJ understands and supports Japan’s efforts to protect itself from further spread of the virus, including Japan’s decision to enforce a mandatory 14-day quarantine on those returning to Japan from countries where the risk is greatest. We also recognize the progress in clarifying the conditions and criteria for, and the process under which, foreign residents of Japan may receive permission to re-enter Japan for humanitarian reasons.

We are concerned, however, that the prohibition currently in place on the entry into Japan of foreign nationals who have a permanent abode, family, and work base in Japan is detrimental to Japan’s long-term interests, in particular as to Japan’s attractiveness as a place to invest and station managerial employees with regional responsibility.

Such individuals, especially those with permanent residency (eijuken) and their accompanying family members or those who are immediate family members of Japanese nationals, and those with long-term working visas and their accompanying family members, need to be allowed to enter Japan under the same conditions as Japanese citizens to continue living and working in this country. Such foreign nationals are actively and positively contributing to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan.

We would also note that through the payment of local and national taxes, the consumption of goods and services from the local economy, and the support for companies both local and international, Japan’s foreign residents and workers play an important role in ensuring Japan’s economic growth and good relations with global partners. Their contributions will be all the more important as Japan looks to recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful that the Government of Japan treated the foreign community in Japan on an equal basis by designating duly registered foreign residents as eligible for the recent COVID-19 stimulus payment.

More immediately, we respectfully request that the Japanese Government establish a process whereby travelers entering Japan under the ‘humanitarian’ exception can receive an assurance that they will be admitted to Japan before they board flights outside of Japan. This is because airlines are generally obligated to return, at their own expense, travelers rejected entry to a country. For this reason, we understand that many airlines are refusing to board any non-Japanese nationals on flights to Japan because of the regulatory uncertainty. This process could be notionally similar to the current re-entry permit application system, and it could be thought of as a “coronavirus re-entry permit” granted at the time the traveler leaves Japan or by special application to a designated Japanese Embassy, Consulate or other designated entity.

We respectfully request that, as the government’s Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters considers which further steps it might take to ease restrictions on travel and measures taken to permit Japanese nationals to travel for business, or, in the future, travel for other purposes, any decisions also apply equally to foreign nationals with proper permanent residency as well as their spouses and children, foreign nationals who are spouses or children of Japanese nationals, long-term visa holders and their accompanying family members, and foreign nationals residing in Japan under a Japanese working visa. At minimum, Japan should adopt the approach of other G7 countries to allow foreigners with established residency status and their immediate family members to depart and enter the country on the same basis as Japanese nationals. In the event that is not done, any guidance provided should be based on objective standards and any advance clearance provided should be in writing and should be recognized as an official approval at the point of entry into Japan.

We hope that the Japanese government will announce clear timelines for the resumption of travel and implement clear policies with the minimum documentation necessary. This will enable those properly desiring to return to Japan to make plans free of anxiety and continue contributing to Japan’s economy, society, and international relations.

We respectfully request that the Japanese government considers these concerns and suggestions as critical work continues to protect Japan from the effects of the pandemic and encourage its recovery. ENDS

======================
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NHK TV’s racist video explaining Black Lives Matter for a children’s news program: Why their excuse of “not enough consideration made at broadcast” is BS

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Hi Blog.  A couple of weeks ago, we covered on Debito.org a flap about TV network NHK (“the BBC of Japan“) broadcasting a racialized anime to Japanese kids explaining the Black Lives Matter movement in America.  It portrayed African-Americans as scary, angry, thieving, sinewy stomping and guitar-strumming urban folk.  With a few more stereotypes thrown in.  (And note that there wasn’t even a mention of George Floyd.)

Here is the video in question, with translation version afterwards:

With translation:

According to the Mainichi,

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

On June 9, NHK apologized for the video, saying, “There was not enough consideration made at broadcast, and we apologize to those who have been offended by it.” The program was removed from its online streaming services, and the tweet sharing the video also deleted.

Regarding its response, [a letter submitted by academics in Japan and the United States to NHK on June 12] says NHK has not clearly elucidated what was problematic about the program, and criticized the broadcaster strongly for “trivializing the matter as a case of viewer interpretation.” It went on to ask that NHK clarify both its understanding on the issue and the events that led to the problematic content being broadcast and tweeted.

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

The reason why NHK hasn’t made that clear is because they’re lying about “not giving enough consideration made at broadcast”.  In fact, NHK hired this production crew BECAUSE they are famous for creating these outlandish videos.

They’re the same people who did sequences for legendary TV show “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo Nihonjin” some decades ago.  (More on this here, page down.)

Consider the similarity in style between the above NHK sequence and this segment, as analyzed by Kirk Masden (in Japanese, but you’ll get the point from the visuals).  Courtesy of Kirk Masden:

Also witness the tone of this “Koko Ga Hen” segment from February 28, 2001.

Given that “Koko Ga Hen” routinely racialized and othered its foreign panelists for the purposes of entertainment and maintaining the constant Japanese media narrative of foreigners as scary outsiders, I aver that NHK knew exactly what it was doing when it subcontracted out to “Koko Ga Hen’s” producers.  NHK just didn’t expect to be called out on it.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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German journalism on Japan Govt’s COVID policy: Tohoku’s Dr. Oshitani: Foreigners (not Japanese) brought it in. And that’s why govt policies specifically exclude only foreigners, even NJ Permanent Residents.

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Hi Blog.  Debito.org has reported on Japan’s policies from April of excluding all “foreigners” from reentry, including residents of Japan with valid visas and Permanent Residents with lives and families in Japan, barring them even from the regular two-week quarantine that Japanese reentrants get.  That hasn’t been the scandal it should have been.  So when the Japanese media observes omertà on how Japan’s policymakers engage in racist politics, it’s sometimes up to overseas media to expose it.

Debito.org Reader Maximilian Doe offers a full report from German media:  How even Japan’s scientists (particularly a Dr. Oshitani at Tohoku University) couched COVID as an overseas contagion, not something also brought into Japan by Japanese (such as the cruise ship Diamond Princess).  However, there is a pattern here.  Foreigners, as we’ve seen from the days of AIDS, SARS, and even the Otaru Onsens Case, are more likely to be seen as riddled with contagion, and treated as such by policymakers either with benign neglect or these overt reactionary policies.  However, instead of having governments and civil society that rightfully point out that associating disease with citizenship leads to racism, in Japan we get blanket exclusion, unlike any other G7 country.

And it’s even backed up by Japan’s scientists.  Let me now turn the keyboard over to Maximilian Doe for the report.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

From: Maximilian Doe
Subject: Two interesting German news articles about how virologist and government advisor Prof Dr Oshitani Hitoshi is involved in the entry restrictions
Date: June 28, 2020
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Hi Debito,

This is Maximilian Doe. I’m contacting you because I’ve found something interesting related to Japan’s strict entry restrictions against non-Japanese. It’s two German news articles that point at a certain Dr. Oshitani Hitoshi, professor of virology at Tohoku University and leader of the health advisors to the Japanese government.

Especially the first of the two I’m posting below explicitly states how the government closed the border based on reports by Prof Oshitani’s team. There are also multiple articles in English and Japanese on the website of his institute (http://www.virology.med.tohoku.ac.jp/). Here is a recent interview – an English translation of a Japanese interview – with him, which is also linked at his institute’s website: https://www.japanpolicyforum.jp/diplomacy/pt20200605162619.html

[NB:  In this interview, Oshitani couches the contagion as an exogenous force, transmitted by foreigners, not by Japanese travelers who weren’t subject to quarantine. Excerpt:

Oshitani:  Spread of COVID-19 in Japan had two major waves so far. The first wave was originated by people with travel history to Wuhan and other places in China. From January to early February, the number of cases from China found in Japan was 11. Of course, there were considered to be more imported cases from China in reality, but it was likely somewhere around several tens to about a hundred. These people traveled to Japan for sightseeing or other purposes, and later, through places where people congregate, such as sports gyms and small concert houses, transmissions spread across the country including Hokkaido, Tokyo, Aichi, and Osaka. This first wave had come under control by mid March with number of cases relatively low, but the second wave came as the first wave was calming down.

Second wave was originated by infected people from a wide range of countries, such as Europe, US, Southeast Asia, and Egypt. We confirmed about 300 cases who had entered Japan from such countries, so the actual number of cases who entered Japan is estimated to be around 1,000 ~ 2,000. Although local transmissions of the second wave in Japan began in early February, infected people from abroad were coming to Japan and able to move around the country almost without any restriction, until the government put restrictions on travel at the end of March. This resulted in a large outbreak. The delay in action during that time is regrettable.]

Doe:  In the following I’m posting English translations of the two German articles mentioned above. The translations are by me, so the English may be slightly off because it’s a from native to foreign translation. I’ve linked Wikipedia articles about the newspapers in question, as well as the links to the original articles. (The first article is freely readable if you have no ad blockers turned on. The second one is behind a paywall. The 0 Euros button there leads to a free one month test subscription that will turn into a regular one if you don’t opt-out in time, so don’t click if you can’t read German. I can provide you with the original text later if requested.)  The first one is from “Zeit Online”, the web portal of the famous weekly newspaper “Die Zeit”.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Zeit).

[NB:  The text in question that readers should focus upon is underlined.]

/////////////////////////////////////////////////
Role Model or Problem Child
Japan does little virus testing; the number of infections is low. However, the fear that the official numbers do not match reality is growing stronger.
By Felix Lill
June 9, 2020, 16:49 / edited June 12, 2020, 8:12 / Die Zeit
No. 25/2020, June 10, 2020 / 193 comments [at the time of translation]
https://www.zeit.de/2020/25/japan-coronavirus-tests-infektionen/komplettansicht

“The Europeans misunderstand this virus”, says Hitoshi Oshitani. If you hear the voice of that professor of virology on the phone, you also can imagine him shaking his head. He claims he had explained it many times. “The attempt of finding every infected person is futile, a mission impossible.” Broad testing of everybody is just a waste of money and personnel. “Many infected persons only have just mild or no symptoms and don’t see a doctor. In order to find every infected person, as it is tried in Europe, you’d have to test almost the entire population.”

In his home country of Japan, the 61 years old Oshitani became famous. In order to reach the office of the Prime Minister fast, the virologist of Tohoku University in the northeastern Japanese city of Sendai moved into a hotel in central Tokyo. Oshitani is the leading health expert in the crisis management group of the Japanese government. He says: “Japan is pursuing a completely different strategy than Europe. We conduct intensive testing only at places, where an outbreak was already confirmed.” This is the smartest [method, according to him].

Is Oshitani right? Experts of multiple disciplines are arguing whether the East Asian country is a role model or a problem child. In February, when the virus was spreading broadly, Japan was the second most affected country of the world after China. However, when the virus quickly spread inside multiple European countries, the number of confirmed cases in Japan stayed low. The number of registered sick doubled per week between the end of March and the middle of April, but it reached only about 10,000.

Until now about 18,000 sick were registered – a tenth of the number of Germany, which population is smaller by one third. To Hitoshi Oshitani, this success is not because of strict rules of hygiene or the wearing of masks which is widespread in the country, but because of the crisis management. “We have started early to find contacts of infected persons with questionnaires, in order to test them and send them into quarantine. In case of the northern island of Hokkaido we could find out most routes of transmission and infection clusters this way.”

With this so-called theory of cluster infections Oshitani’s team found out that the fast growth of cases since the end of March were imported by persons who entered the country from abroad. The government swiftly ordered entry bans towards multiple countries.

Currently the crisis manager in charge thinks that they have control over the situation. In the middle of May Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency for 39 of the 47 prefectures that was implemented one month earlier. By now the easing of measures is applied to the entire country. Shinzo Abe announced that now it is the time to get used to a “new normality”.

In the meantime, there is also much encouragement from Germany. Virologist Cristian Drosten recommended during an interview, that the “Japanese way” should serve as the model. That includes Japan’s current start of concentrating on superspreading events. In such a case, contact persons get send into quarantine immediately without waiting for tests. The curve of infections flattens. About 30 new infections per day were registered during the last weeks.

Despite all this: The population of Japan does not trust the peace. A survey by news agency Kyodo in mid-April found out: 80 per cent of asked people think that the government reacted to the crisis too late and thus delayed it. A comparative study among 23 countries conducted by the Singapore based institute Blackbox Research found out, that the Japanese are the least satisfied with the crisis management of their government.

“In Japan we are cruising through this crisis blindly”

One of the most prominent critics is Kenji Shibuya. To the virologist and director of the School of Population Health & Environmental Sciences at King’s College London, the officially low number of cases is no wonder. “If we hardly test, we of course can’t know our true status”, says Shibuya on the phone. “In Japan we’re cruising through this crisis blindly.”

Japan really has only conducted about 200,000 quick tests with samples from mouth and throat between mid-March and mid-April. Government advisor Oshitani, who is, among others, responsible for that low number, claims that most of the infected would not transmit the virus anyway. That is one more reason why less testing is okay, because many infections end without much consequences.

Furthermore, Oshitani is convinced that the low number of tests does not lead to overlooking an especially large number of sick people. He says: “If the number of sick people would be significantly higher than detected, our rate of fatalities must have been significantly higher, too.” However, this rate is very low when compared internationally. Around 900 of the detected 18,000 infected people fell victim to the virus in Japan.

Nonetheless, during the last weeks more and more health experts demanded that Japan significantly increases the number of tests. “The claim made by the crisis management group that most sick people do not transmit the virus does not convince me,” says Kenji Shibuya. “To know that we must test more.” Shibuya also does not agree to the argument of the low fatality rate. “If we don’t know how many people are sick, we can’t say if their deaths are caused by Covid-19 or not.” Japan’s crisis management group does not only overlook the sick, but also the dead.

Based on a comparison with other countries, Shibuya estimates that the true infection rate could be higher by a factor of 10 or 20. The reason why this is not verifiable is not just the lack of data, but also lack of transparency: “I’ve contacted the national center for infectious diseases and asked for their calculation method, but the answer was: we can’t explain it. Isn’t that curious?” said Shibuya. An inquiry by us to the institute about this stays unanswered.

Do Japanese institutions want to hide something? Kenji Shibuya assures that he does not want to do such accusations, but he adds, that in crisis management political interests are also always on the table. Those [political interests] are questioned by a critical populous in Japan. Since the nuclear disaster of Fukushima in spring 2011, during which officialdom and companies were trying to play down the danger, the trust in the institutions is damaged, when a crisis exceeds the scale of the familiar earthquakes and typhoons.

Koichi Nakano also looks skeptical at the government’s Corona strategy. The political scientist of renowned Sophia University in Tokyo believes that the health of the population is just not top priority to the government. “Prime Minister Abe was elected into office because he had promised economic growth to the people”, says Nakano on the phone. “Until now that hasn’t really taken off. That’s why it’s so important that the economy doesn’t stop entirely amidst this crisis.” The handling of the Olympic Games also shows that. They should have taken place in Tokyo this summer and were expected to bring multiple millions of tourists to Japan. For a long time, the organizers and the Prime Minister insisted that “Tokyo 2020” would start as scheduled in July. After national committees of multiple countries had declared at the end of March that they would not send athletes to the Games this year, Abe decided to delay them by one year.

The crisis management group continues to keep its strategy. “They probably don’t want to admit that they failed,” said Nakano. Virologist Kenji Shibuya says that it is actually a must to shift the strategy to broad testing. If he is right with his assessment that the fatality rate is also significantly higher? Death statistics will answer that. A large increase compared to previous years would indicate that many people died from Covid-19. Initial numbers for Tokyo during the first three months of 2020 do not show such a trend. Data for April, the month an exponential growth of cases, can only be expected this summer.

About the author: https://www.zeit.de/autoren/L/Felix_Lill
Felix Lill is a journalist and writer. For over ten years he is reporting from more than 40 countries with a focus on Japan and East Asia since the end of 2012. He has published articles in “Die Presse”, “NZZ am Sonntag”, “Tagesspiegel”, and “Spiegel” as well as for English and Spanish publications like “Al Jazeera”, “Narratively”, “El País”, or “Vice España”.
ENDS
/////////////////////////////////////////////

Doe:  The second article is from “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, abbreviated “SZ” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%BCddeutsche_Zeitung), one of Germany’s daily newspapers most widely read among academics. There is only one paragraph about Oshitani in it. The main topic is the stance of the German Chamber of Commerce in Japan towards this entry ban.  Again, the section of interest has underlined text.

/////////////////////////////////////////////
Süddeutsche Zeitung, June 15, 2020, 18:35    Japan
The country stays closed
Since weeks foreigners are not allowed to enter Japan. This is going to become an endurance test for the economy.
By Thomas Hahn, Tokyo

http://sz.de/1.4936421

Marcus Schürmann apologizes. This is because before the director of the German Chamber of Commerce in Japan (AHK Japan) starts to talk about the consequences of the entry ban, he has to haul off a little bit. A clear summer day has dawned over the hills of Roppongi, and the scenery of commerce surrounding the Hyatt Hotel looks as rich and polished as if the pandemic couldn’t do anything to the metropolis that is Tokyo. Schürmann starts with praising the place. 2019 was a good year for German companies and their Japanese branches. 94 per cent of them reported profits before tax according to a survey by the AHK Japan and “KPMG Deutschland”, an auditing company. 63 per cent of them were involved in projects with Japanese partners in third party markets. 99 per cent of them praised the reliability of the Japanese business world. “The German economy is seeing Japan as an anchor of stability more than ever”, says Schürmann. This is something to value in an otherwise unsafe global situation.

Until he says at some point: “And now to the topic of entry restrictions.” His face darkens. “That is a different story.”

This is because the entry ban, that Japan inflicted upon 110 countries because of the Coronavirus, has turned into an endurance test for the diplomatic and economic relationships. Even EU citizens who live in and pay taxes to Japan are not allowed to enter the island nation since April 3, when they previously were in their home countries. No other G7 member introduced such a strict border closure. For example, Japanese with a visa are allowed to enter Germany – and also return to Japan, because the entry ban is only bestowed upon foreigners, as the Ministry of Justice in Tokyo confirms.

At least on Friday the government of Japan finally explained, under what circumstances it is ready to grant exceptions: For example, when families are separated, children would miss school, or because someone had to leave for the death of a relative. However, in principle nothing has changed for citizens of the affected countries: Japan is closed. The German embassy in Tokyo announced that they “are talking with our Japanese partners”. An EU spokesperson said that after an EU-Japan-Online-Summit at the end of May they have “stressed once more the importance of a fast solution of the problem”. Without success.

Wolfram Schimpf, principal of the German School in Yokohama, is worrying whether new teaching staff can enter Japan as scheduled with the beginning of the new [German] school year in August. “At the high school we have a staff fluctuation of about 20 per cent, so that we would miss a fifth of our teaching staff, unfortunately some subjects could not be taught [under these circumstances].” The Goethe Institute in Tokyo has cancelled all cultural events with German guests. Finally, Marcus Schürmann has to talk about the consequences for the economy. Schürmann is a friendly man with a Japan pin on his lapel, but when he talks, the German economy is talking and that is Japan’s most important EU partner. According to Schürmann ten of the 100 largest investors to Japan are from Germany and those are creating 35,000 jobs. His dissatisfaction has to do with hard economic realities. To show that he has the most recent AHK-Japan survey in his hands: “78 per cent of businesses state that they are massively affected by the entry ban and that this severely damages their activities.”

A plan for the globalized economy with the Coronavirus is necessary

Among the 450 German companies with business in Japan many are engineering companies. They have to postpone projects because the parent company cannot send specialists for commissioning new machines. Other companies cannot fill in gaps in their staff as planned. At the same time, they have to continue to pay taxes and social security for their employees who are stuck in Germany. “A third of these businesses are expecting tax reduction to compensate for this situation that the Japanese government has forced upon them”, says Schürmann.

From the beginning, the fight against the Coronavirus was special in Japan. Instead of tracing the virus with as many tests as possible like in most other countries, Japanese bureaucracy concentrated on controlling cases of so-called clusters of infections of the respiratory disease Covid-19. Only people with severe symptoms and their close contact persons were tested – based on the finding that only certain infected people were posing a severe threat for transmissions. Virologist and government advisor Hitoshi Oshitani says: “The data clearly shows that Japan’s measures were more effective than those of Western countries.” No G7 country has so few Covid-19 fatalities as Japan. The high standard of hygiene of the Japanese is also claimed as an additional reason for this. Now the government of the right-wing conservative Prime Minister Shinzō Abe wants to make sure that foreigners will not cause the next wave.

Schürmann understands that. However, the world continues to spin, and the pandemic is here to stay. A plan for the globalized economy with the Coronavirus is necessary. Schürmann sees solutions by the state with chartered flights and hygiene measures for “a minimal amount of business travel” in China and South Korea. Not so much in Japan. Schürmann has stayed in Japan for 31 years. He can lead the negotiations in Japanese on his own with those Japanese bureaucrats in charge of the economy. The reactions? “Talks with Japanese officials are always very nice, but nothing happens afterwards.”

The Germans are so frustrated that they are asking the question about the future. Among entrepreneurs, Abe’s Japan has lifted the image of the slightly weird island nation that fights with itself. Japan has involved itself in world trade more than never before and showed signs of openness with hosting events like the Rugby World Championship and the Olympic Games. “Regarding the many global challenges, the time for engaging with Japan is actually very good”, thinks Schürmann. But now? “In principle Japan threatens regained trust and its position as a global key player.” He does not see German companies leaving the world’s third largest economy. “But if this inflexibility continues, Japan will become less interesting for them. Because they say: If Japan doesn’t react now, what will happen next, when the second or third Corona-wave comes?” They could relocate some of their business to neighboring countries like South Korea.

The opposite side of Japanese reliability is clearly visible now: Necessary changes in policy are not Nippon’s strength. Someday ways will lead to Japan once more, but no one knows when.

Thomas Hahn [about the author]
After high school in 1991 he did an internship at the SZ local editorial department of Starnberg. Civilian service at the municipal hospital of Fürth as male nurse at the department of internal medicine. Study of theater science in Munich and Canterbury. Internship at the SZ editorial office for sports news in 1995. After that working as freelance journalist, especially for the SZ. Regular SZ editor since January 1, 1999. He was at the sports news department in Munich for more than 15 years, after that correspondent for northern Germany in Hamburg. Since September 1, 2019, he is correspondent for Japan and South Korea.
ENDS
/////////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT FROM DOE:  It’s no hard proof, whether Dr. Oshitani is actively okay with shutting out even legal residents or not, but in combination with the Japanese and English articles published on the website of Oshitani’s lab I get the impression that he and his team of other advisors had a very strong influence, if not the most critical influence, on the government implementing this current entry ban. I also think that it’s enough evidence that he at least doesn’t care about the problem for stranded NJ residents. A curious behavior for an academic or one of Japan’s national apex universities, since universities are those “businesses” disproportionately affected by this. Besides this he’s clearly responsible for the – let’s say – special testing policy Japan has implemented. I’d like to hear your thoughts about this.

Best regards,
Maximilian Doe

ENDS

======================
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SNA Visible Minorities Column 11: Advice to Activists in Japan in general (in the wake of the emergence of the Black Lives Matter Japan Movement), June 22, 2020.

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Visible Minorities: Advice to Activists in Japan
Shingetsu News Agency, Visible Minorities Column 11, June 22, 2020
By Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/06/22/visible-minorities-advice-to-activists-in-japan/.

SNA (Tokyo) — Sparked by the George Floyd murder by police in America last month, street protests against official violence towards minorities and disenfranchised peoples have sprung up worldwide.

Japan has been no exception. Within recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations, a wider range of people are finally decrying, for example, the Japanese police’s racial profiling and violence towards visible minorities.

I’ve talked about these and other issues for years, devoting significant space both on Debito.org and in my book Embedded Racism: Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination. That said, it should be noted that my position in Japan as a white male with naturalized Japanese citizenship has provided me significant privilege; in all humility I am not in the best position to offer advice to people who have the right (nay, obligation) to create their own identities, narratives, and agendas as they see best.

Nevertheless, this column would like to point out some of the pitfalls that activists may face in Japanese society, based upon my experience fighting against racial discrimination here for nearly thirty years. Please read them in the helpful spirit they are intended:

1) Remember that, in Japan, activists are seen as extremists

Japan has a long history of activism and protest. However, the historical narrative generally portrays activists (katsudouka) as radical, destructive elements (kagekiha), most famously the Japanese Red Army; the Revolutionary Communist League, National Committee (Chukakuha); the Japan Revolutionary Communist League, Revolutionary Marxist Faction (Kakumaruha); or even just labor unions like the Japan Teachers’ Union (Nikkyoso). If you’re out there protesting, you’re automatically seen by many Japanese as angry, unapproachable, and unable to be reasoned with.

Furthermore, public demonstrations are treated with undue alarm. They’re not, for example, normalized as a phase college kids go through and grow out of. In fact, youth might become unemployable if they carry on beyond college. That’s why high-profile student group Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs) disbanded as soon as their leaders approached the job market.

Additionally, the government has a long history of suppressing voices from the left more than the racket from rightwing conservatives and reactionaries, as seen in their regular rounds of unfettered sound trucks. It’s not an even playing field for human-rights advocates. That’s why there arguably isn’t a successful example of leftist protests ever decisively changing the course of government in Japan. (Contrast that with, say, the anti-Vietnam protests of the 1960s, so romanticized in Western media, which even undermined presidents overseas.)

The result is that the average person in Japan, especially your employer, will need to be convinced that what you’re doing is at all necessary, not to mention has a snowball’s chance of succeeding. Be prepared to do that.

2) Keep the debate focused on how discrimination affects everyone in Japan

One problem with protests for equal rights for “foreigners” is an assumption that the problem must be exogenous. It runs deeper than the sentiments of a) “foreigners are only ‘guests’ here, so they shouldn’t be rude to their ‘hosts’ by protesting,” or b) “if only you weren’t here disrupting our homogeneous society, your problem would just go away.” It’s again a problem with narrative.

Discrimination, particularly “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu), is generally taught in Japanese schools as something other countries do towards people with different skin color, notably US Segregation and South African Apartheid. Thanks to the daily mantras about our alleged monocultural, monoethnic “island society” closed off from the world for a zillion years, Japan generally doesn’t see how “race” could be a factor here. The logic is that homogeneous Japan has no races, therefore no “race relations” problems like other countries. The Japanese government has made precisely this argument to the United Nations.

That’s one reason why Japanese media reflexively deflects the issue into terms like “foreigner discrimination” (gaikokujin sabetsu), “ethnic discrimination” (minzoku sabetsu), or merely “cultural differences” (ibunka no chigai). All of these concepts miss the point that racial discrimination is in fact a longstanding domestic issue.

So refocus the issue back on the process of racialization. Reiterate at every opportunity that this is “racial discrimination,” and stress how, thanks to generations of naturalization and international marriage, there are plenty of Japanese citizens with diverse roots. Thus discrimination against “foreigners” also affects hundreds of thousands of Japanese people.

After all, Japanese society gloms onto “racial discrimination” against Japanese citizens abroad with a surprising amount of passion. So point out that it’s happening here too. And you’ll have to do it again and again, because you will have to convince a surprising number of people who refuse to believe that racism even exists in Japan.

3) Be wary of being fetishized

Remember that a certain degree of social resonance you may be feeling in your crowd is likely not the feeling of acceptance you might want; it is not equal footing with Japanese citizens. People often join in since protesting is “cool” because “foreigners are cool” or “pitiable” (kawaisou).

There is plenty of scholarly research (read Marvin D. Sterling’s Babylon East, for example) on how Japanese adopt “foreign cultures” only on a topical level, meaning without much interest in the actual mindset or experience of being a visible minority in Japan.

Collaborate with whoever shows up, of course. Just don’t get your hopes up too far. Some people who seem like supporters might only be fair-weather groupies. So don’t rely on them too much when it comes time for them to commit their names or faces in public.

4) Be ready for the long haul

Success, of course, requires not only widespread support in Japan, but also assistance from fellow Japanese human-rights activists. They are very practiced and determined, having done this sort of thing for decades. But remember: Activist groups in Japan are very cliquey. Often the barriers for entry and being accepted as “one of us” are pretty high.

Even though, at first, being seen as “pitiable” works in your favor, remember that the default attitude towards people seen as “foreigners” is “someone here only for the short-term.”

What I mean is “foreigners” are often treated like exotic birds, as something to study because you alighted on their balcony and have interesting plumage to look at. So they give you their attention for as long as you’re around. But once it seems you’ve flitted off, you’re quickly forgotten as merely a phase or a pastime. Then things reset back to the ingrained narratives of Japan as homogeneous and foreigners as temporary.

The only way you can defy that is by showing how deeply you’ve committed yourself to this issue for as long as possible, as people in those activist groups have. They’ve made this rallying cause a life mission, and they’ll expect you to as well. Otherwise, you’re just a fickle foreign hobbyist and doors slam.

Moreover, be careful of the “get in line” attitude that one (rightly) receives from other minorities in Japan (such as the Zainichi Koreans). They have been here much longer, fought much harder, and sacrificed more simply to exist in Japan. Avoid the one-upmanships over “who’s the bigger victim here?”

Instead, focus on what you all have in common: perpetual disenfranchisement, and how you have to work together to overcome that to make Japan a better place for everyone. Remember that power surrenders nothing without a fight, so dissolving into disagreeing leftist factions is precisely what the powerful want. The status quo wins by default that way.

5) Control your own narrative

Finally, don’t rely on people who aren’t in your position to understand or promote your narrative. Do it yourselves. Organize your own press conferences. Make sure that everything you release to the public and media is also in Japanese, and have some prominent public spokespeople who are minorities. It’s your voice. Don’t let even the best-intentioned interpreters and interlocutors inadvertently dilute it.

For example, last month, the people of diverse roots who spoke out fluently against the Shibuya police roughing up a Kurdish person were excellent examples of how to do it right. They were very effective in getting the message out both to print and broadcast media. More of that, please.

There you go: five pitfalls I might suggest you avoid. I hope you find them useful, even if I have a very limited understanding of what you’re going through. In any case, it’s your time and your social movement. I wish you success, and thanks for reading.  ENDS

For breaking news, follow on Twitter @ShingetsuNews

======================
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Mainichi: Japan, US academics demand NHK explain offensive BLM anime. And how about all the others (including NHK) in the past?

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Hi Blog.  Japanese TV has once again put their foot in it for racist stereotyping.  We’ve already covered here on Debito.org:

Now we see NHK (“the BBC of Japan“) commenting on Black Lives Matter in perhaps the most insensitive way possible. Submitter JK comments, then I comment:

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

JK:  Hi Debito.  Looks like NHK is actually getting heat for their understanding (or lack thereof) of the world now:

Japan, US academics demand NHK explain editorial choices behind offensive BLM anime
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200613/p2a/00m/0na/011000c

June 13, 2020 (Mainichi Japan) Japanese version follows.

PHOTO CAPTION: An NHK animated explainer on Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. which was widely condemned as racist and subsequently removed by the broadcaster, is seen in this screen capture. (Mainichi)

With translation:

TOKYO — Academics in Japan and the United States submitted a letter to NHK on June 12 demanding the Japanese public broadcaster clarify why it broadcast an anime explainer of Black Lives Matter protests that was subsequently condemned as racist, and that it also outline its views on the matter and possible preventive measures.

【Related】Japan’s NHK apologizes for clip on US BLM protests after racism accusations
【Related】Black Lives Matter goes mainstream after Floyd’s death
【Related】Tennis star Naomi Osaka all-in on Black Lives Matter movement: Reuters

In their five-page letter to the NHK, the experts in U.S. studies describe the video as “including content that cannot be overlooked.” Among its 13 signatories are professor Fumiko Sakashita of Ritsumeikan University in Tokyo and professor Yasumasa Fujinaga of Japan Women’s University, also in the capital. The letter is addressed to the NHK president, as well as the heads of the international news division and the News Department. The writers say they will recruit supporters in both the U.S. and Japan.

The around 1-minute-20-second animated video that the letter discusses was originally shown on NHK news program “Kore de Wakatta! Sekai no Ima” (Now I Understand! The World Now) and shared on the broadcaster’s official Twitter account on June 7. It was intended as an explanation for the demonstrations that began in the U.S. after George Floyd, a black man, was killed by a white police officer kneeling on his neck. It features a muscular, vested black man shouting about economic inequality in the U.S., and makes no reference to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.

The letter to NHK described the depiction of the man as stereotypical, saying, “He is given an excessively muscular appearance, and speaks in an emphatically coarse and violent way.” It added that in the U.S., “This stereotype has a history of being used to legitimize lynching of black people and the loss of their lives from police brutality.”

It also criticized the program itself for suggesting that one cause of violence by police toward black people is “a fear of black people,” and for offering a “completely insufficient” explanation of issues around “the historic background of police brutality, from slavery to the modern prison industrial complex.”

It then mentioned that by the time the NHK show was aired on June 7, rioting and looting had already waned, and that the mostly peaceful protests were also being joined by many white people. Referring to this, the writers said the content of both the program and the animated explainer were “not an accurate reflection of the current state of protests.”

The letter also says the program didn’t give enough consideration to anger toward systemic racism as one of the causes of the protests. It also puts forward questions as to why the content wasn’t checked internally and corrected.

On June 9, NHK apologized for the video, saying, “There was not enough consideration made at broadcast, and we apologize to those who have been offended by it.” The program was removed from its online streaming services, and the tweet sharing the video also deleted.

Regarding its response, the letter says NHK has not clearly elucidated what was problematic about the program, and criticized the broadcaster strongly for “trivializing the matter as a case of viewer interpretation.” It went on to ask that NHK clarify both its understanding on the issue and the events that led to the problematic content being broadcast and tweeted.

(Japanese original by Sumire Kunieda, Integrated Digital News Center)

黒人差別の解説動画「看過できない内容」 NHKに米国研究の学者らが検証求め る要望書
https://mainichi.jp/articles/20200612/k00/00m/040/247000c

黒人差別の解説動画「看過できない内容」 NHKに米国研究の学者らが検証求める要望書

NHKがニュース番組「これでわかった!世界のいま」などで発信した米国の抗議デモに関する解説について、日米の米国研究者が12日、「看過できない内容が含まれている」として、問題認識や経緯、再発防止策を明らかにするよう求める要望書をNHKに送付した。【國枝すみれ/統合デジタル取材センター】

要望書は全5ページ。坂下史子・立命館大教授や藤永康政・日本女子大教授ら日米の大学に所属する研究者13人が呼びかけ人となり、NHKの会長、国際部部長、報道局長宛てに送付した。今後、日米で賛同者を募るという。

要望書が問題としたのは、白人警官による黒人男性暴行死事件への米国の抗議デモについてNHKが解説した6月7日の放送内容と、公式ツイッターの発信内容。番組は、デモの背景を解説するアニメ動画を放映し、ツイッターにも同じ動画を投稿していた。

要望書はこの動画について、黒人が「過度に筋肉質な外見で、乱暴で粗野な言葉づかいが強調された男性」というステレオタイプで描かれているとし、米国では「これ…

(rest behind paywall).

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

NHK responded (full text available here in Japanese and here in Tokyo Weekender translation):

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

“We at NHK would like to sincerely apologize for a computer animation clip posted on our Twitter account. The clip was part of a segment in the program “Kore-de-wakatta Sekai-no-ima” broadcast on Sunday, June 7th. The 26-minute segment reported that the protests in the US were triggered by the death of George Floyd after he was pinned to the ground by a white police officer. It also reported the background on how many people are angered by the case, handling of the matter by the Trump administration and criticism against it, as well as division in American society. The one-minute-21-second clip aimed to show the hardships, such as economic disparity, that many African Americans in the US suffer. However, we have decided to take the clip offline after receiving criticism from viewers that it did not correctly express the realities of the problem. We regret lacking proper consideration in carrying the clip, and apologize to everyone who was offended.” 

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

DEBITO COMMENTS:  Apology not accepted.  As I said, this is well within history and character for Japanese media, and the fact that it appeared on NHK (on a children’s program, no less) makes it all the more mainstream.  It’s not even Embedded Racism.

I will note that the people that produced this anime are the same ones (in terms of inflammatory style, caricature, and even voice talent) that produced the racialized imagery used in landmark TV show “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo Nihonjin” some decades ago (which we also appeared in during the Otaru Onsens Case).  Witness this segment from February 28, 2001.

So in my view, for all NHK’s claims that it “lacked proper consideration”, I call BS.  They knew full well what these subcontracted segments are like.  That’s what that subcontractor has done for years.  They just expected that this would be for “domestic consumption only” and the Gaijin wouldn’t see it (because after all, “foreigners” don’t watch Japanese TV because Japanese is too hard a language for them to understand).  That’s also BS.  NHK (not to mention most of Japan’s other media) still hasn’t learned their lesson after all these decades.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
======================
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Info on Black Lives Matter demos in Japan in response to excessive police force towards a Kurdish Resident; also the backlash of right-wing Tokyo Katsushika-ku Assemblyman Suzuki Nobuyuki: “expel any foreign demonstrators”.

mytest

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

Hi Blog.  As you know, following the George Floyd et al. killings by police in America, there is an international wave of condemnation towards institutionalized racism and brutality in law enforcement.  Japan is not exempt from this (in fact, institutionalized embedded racism is one of the reasons Debito.org exists, and the Japanese police are notorious for their normalized racial profiling), and a recent case (see Reuters article below) of a Kurdish man being assaulted by police during a traffic stop has made news.  Given this flashpoint, a Black Lives Matter movement of protecting minorities against state-sponsored unchecked violence has taken wing around Japan.  Please join in if you’re interested.  Information website here:

https://blacklivesmattertokyo.carrd.co/

More on what BLM Kansai has been doing is also at SNA here:

 

Bravo. Meanwhile, as SNA has pointed out, certain elements within Japan have a problem with any Non-Japanese trying claiming their rights in Japan even through peaceful public protest:  Veteran anti-foreign rightwinger Nobuyuki Suzuki, currently a Katsushika Ward assemblyman, demands that any foreigner who engages in a street protest should be tracked down by the police and expelled from the country. (MP)”

 

After all, according to the Suzukis of Japan, foreigners don’t belong here.  They aren’t kokumin, and because they are only here by permission of the government, by definition they should not protest; they should be just good little Guests or get out.  Japan for the Japanese.  You know the mantra.  Even though public demonstrations (for example, by NJ workers in labor unions) are perfectly legal, and have been going on for decades.

That’s why social movements should crest and clean these exclusionary bigots out of government.  And Debito.org will at least add its voice in support.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

Reuters article:

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REUTERS WORLD NEWS, JUNE 6, 2020
Kurdish case becomes rallying cry for Japan protest against police
By Mari Saito
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-minneapolis-police-protests-japan/kurdish-case-becomes-rallying-cry-for-japan-protest-against-police-idUSKBN23D0JG

PHOTO CAPTION: A demonstrator wearing a mask holds an ”Antifaschistische Aktion” flag during a protest march over the alleged police abuse of a Turkish man, in echoes of a Black Lives Matter protest, following the death of George Floyd who died in police custody in Minneapolis, in Tokyo, Japan June 6, 2020. 

TOKYO (Reuters) – The case of a Kurdish man who says he was stopped and shoved to the ground by Tokyo police became a rallying cry for protesters marching in solidarity with Black Lives Matter on Saturday.

Several hundred people chanting “I can’t breathe” to invoke the death of George Floyd in the United States marched through the trendy Shibuya district on a sultry afternoon, saying that police abuse – particularly against foreigners – was a problem at home as well.

“I feel very sad,” said Tomohiko Tsurumi, 43, who joined the march with his wife. “I always thought of this country as very safe and I realized that there is so much (police action) we cannot see.”

The 33-year-old Turkish man of Kurdish origin, who asked not to be named, told Reuters this week that he was stopped by police driving in downtown Tokyo on May 22 – three days before George Floyd died in Minneapolis when a police office knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

When the man would not allow police to search his car, two officers shouted at him and shoved him to the ground, the man said. A friend in his car filmed part of the incident.

Police declined to comment, saying they have not made anything public about the incident.

The video, seen by Reuters, includes the officers yelling at him to sit and not make trouble. One of the officers can be seen kicking the man in the leg before making him crouch on the ground.

That officer can be seen with his arms around the man’s neck, telling him to be quiet.

“I couldn’t breathe. If my friend hadn’t been filming I don’t know what would have happened,” the man said, adding the encounter left him with bruises on his neck and back.

“This was in the middle of the day and I was on the way to my dentist,” said the man, who said he has lived in Japan for 15 years and was not at Saturday’s protest due to what organizers said was fear of being arrested. “That’s what’s so upsetting.”

The man filed an assault suit against the two officers with Tokyo prosecutors on May 27, said his lawyer, Yasuaki Nara.

An African man at the demonstration with a friend said their appearance got them more scrutiny from Japanese police.

“I feel what George Floyd was feeling,” he said, declining to give his name or his country of origin. “We feel what his family is feeling.”
ENDS

======================
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Online petition: Oppose Japan’s generic reentry ban on Foreign Residents even after essential travels since April 3, 2020

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Hi Blog.  I mentioned this petition in my previous post, but it was subsumed under the Dejima Award headline.  It deserves its own blog entry, so here it is.  Sign the petition.  I did.  Courtesy of TG.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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From: Sven Kramer 
Date: June 3, 2020 
To: eajs-l@listserv.shuttle.de
Subject: EAJS-L: Online petition against Japan’s generic reentry ban on foreigners living in Japan even after essential travels that is in effect since April 3, 2020

Dear fellow EAJS members,

I hope this finds you well, and that you are getting through the current public health crisis well and healthy. I am Sven Kramer, a scholar of Japanese studies based in Japan. Today, I would like to focus your attention on a private initiative I have started: a Japanese-English bilingual online petition against the de facto complete generic denial of reentry to foreign residents of Japan (including permanent residents and eminent relatives of Japanese citizens). On April 3, 2020, the government of Japan has implemented an almost complete closure of her borders to foreign residents on valid long-term visas (only the “special permanent residents” are exempt), while every Japanese citizen regardless of actual residency is allowed in.

This regulation affects more than 2,000,000 foreign residents of Japan, who cannot reenter Japan for the foreseeable future even after traveling abroad for a very good reason (e.g. the death of a family member in the country of origin), and are thus in danger of using their livelihoods here. I anticipate that among those affected, a significant number should be scholars based at Japanese universities receiving this mailing list. According to my current knowledge, Japan is the only country on Earth with a liberal democratic constitution, that has implemented such a nonsensically discriminatory reentry restriction, which in my opinion cannot be justified even with the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a significant difference to the policy of India, which reportedly has implemented an entry ban on all people regardless of citizenship/nationality. Furthermore, we don’t need to get into deflections of about how dictatorial countries currently behave in this crisis.

I have watched the situation silently but with an uneasy feeling for almost two months, but after reading this article by „Tōyō Keizai Online“ that quotes some of the outrageous things going on behind the scenes without leading to any progress, I had enough. As a long-term foreign resident of Japan I could not keep silent any longer, so on May 28 I have started the following online petition at “change.org”: http://chng.it/GN9Wp2Sj

Why an open online petition? Because the Japanese government, and also other officialdom at other levels, just show ignorance when addressed directly.

I sincerely want to ask you for your support of this petition for the reasons stated in the bilingual text of the petition, especially if you are a Japanese citizen or an expat with his/her livelihood in Japan.

This is – as mentioned above – an entirely private initiative on my behalf as a long-term foreign resident of Japan with Japanese family. This is the reason why I did not do any statements referring to my current professional situation, neither in this letter, nor in the petition. Please understand. If you want to know more about my background, please feel free to ask me directly.

Here is a short summary of my request:
– Please sign, if you share my opinion that the government of Japan immediately should allow reentry of returning foreign residents of Japan under the same quarantine regulations that are applied to Japanese citizens.
– Please help me spreading the word, if you agree with me on this.

If a significant number of people sign (ideally at least some tens of thousands) I will try to get the petition to the Government of Japan.

Thank you very much!

Best regards,
Sven Kramer, PhD

P.S.: Further articles in English dealing with this topic:
Japan Times: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/05/19/national/social-issues/japan-foreign-residents-stranded-abroad-coronavirus/ 
Japan Today: https://japantoday.com/category/quote-of-the-day/the-line-should-be-drawn-between-foreigners-on-short-stay-visas-and-those-who-stay-in-japan-based-on-other-statuses-of-residence.-those-whose-lives-are-based-in-japan-need-to-be-able-to-return

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Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 8: “No Free Pass for Japan’s Shirking Responsibility”, Mar 16, 2020

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Hi Blog. I know everyone’s talking about the Coronavirus (and I do here too, for a bit). But my latest column backs the lens up to see this all in a larger context of Japan’s perpetual bad habits, and how they get a “free pass” even when those habits have adverse effects on the rest of the world. Especially when Japan is being held up as a model by many as a system that helps the powerful evade responsibility and transfer blame. Have a read.

One more note: Nowhere else in Japan but an independent news press like the Shingetsu News Agency would publish an article like this. This article will be behind a paywall in a few days, so please chip in $5 a month (I pay more) at the venue for access.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities: No Free Pass for Shirking Responsibility
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, VISIBLE MINORITIES COLUMN 8
MARCH 16, 2020 by DEBITO ARUDOU
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/03/16/visible-minorities-no-free-pass-for-shirking-responsibility/

SNA (Tokyo) — There’s an oft-used expression in Japanese: sekinin tenka. Best translated as “passing the buck,” it’s a reflex of dodging blame for one’s own actions by transferring responsibility to others. For too long, Japan has done so on the world stage with impunity—even when it affects the world adversely.

Let’s start with, since it’s timely, the 3.11 Fukushima nuclear meltdown that took place nine years ago this month. While the earthquake and tsunami are not Japan’s fault, situating a nuclear power plant so perilously close to the coastline is; as is the perpetually-botched response of containment and leakage (even the willful dumping) of irradiated water into the Pacific Ocean.

Contrast that with the attention and criticism (and even a TV series) Russia got for Chernobyl, where the situation has finally been contained in a sarcophagus. In Japan, officials instead blamed world standards of safe radiation levels for being alarmist (adjusting them upwards for domestic political purposes) and declared Fukushima produce safe for consumption.

Even more timely is how sekinin tenka influenced Japan’s Covid-19 response…

Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/03/16/visible-minorities-no-free-pass-for-shirking-responsibility/

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My SNA Visible Minorities column 7: “Japan’s Botched Response to the Diamond Princess Coronavirus isn’t Racism; it’s Stupidity”, Feb 17, 2020

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Hi Blog. The Diamond Princess cruise ship case (which has been discussed extensively on Debito.org this past week) fell within my SNA monthly column window this time, so here’s my take on it. Enjoy. Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities: Japan’s Botched Response to the Coronavirus
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, Feb 17, 2020

SNA (Tokyo) — The drama of cruise ship Diamond Princess, currently moored at Yokohama and quarantined by Japan’s Health Ministry due to some of the 3,700 passengers and crew testing positive for the coronavirus, is a human rights crisis.

The Covid-19 outbreak that originated in China has killed more than 1700 people and sickened tens of thousands.

Here’s my take: Surprise! I’m not going to argue that the prison-ship conditions are due to racism, but more a matter of official stupidity…
///////////////////////////////////////

Read the rest at the Shingetsu News Agency website:

Visible Minorities: Japan’s Botched Response to the Coronavirus

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SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020 (UPDATED with full text)

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Hi Blog.  Here’s my latest column from the Shingetsu News Agency.  Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Visible Minorities: Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move

http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/01/20/visible-minorities-carlos-ghosns-escape-from-japan-was-the-right-move/

SNA (Tokyo) — I have to admit more than a twinge of sympathy for Carlos Ghosn’s Great Escape.

Ghosn, the former CEO of Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault, was arrested in November 2018 on the initial suspicion of falsifying his compensation levels, and subjected to more than a year of Japan’s “hostage justice.” That is, he was held hostage to a judicial system that detains you until you confess to a crime, and subjects you to days, weeks, months, or conceivably even years of interrogation and tortuous conditions until you crack. Understandably, most do crack, and Japan’s conviction rate after indictment is famously more than 99%.

But as you have probably heard, at the end of December Ghosn suddenly turned up in Lebanon, one of three places he has citizenship. Out on bail in Japan, he made a daring escape that people are still trying to piece together, including man-sized musical instrument cases, an uncharacteristic lack of Japanese border security, and a mysterious visit to Lebanon’s president by Japan’s state minister for foreign affairs mere days before Ghosn jumped bail.

Ghosn is now making good on his threat to expose everything that happened to him while in custody. His multilingual press conference in Beirut two weeks ago was breathtaking to watch, full of documentation, pointed fingers, and hot-tongued accusations of the human rights denied to Japan’s incarcerated.

This has been covered exhaustively worldwide, so what more is there to say? My perspective comes as a person who also tried to change Japanese rules and practices, and found that The System similarly fought back dirty.

I’m talking about the Otaru Hot Springs Case.  In 1999, some friends and I challenged Japan’s lack of a law against racial discrimination, as manifest in signs up on businesses nationwide saying “Japanese Only.” Places with these “no foreigners allowed” rules included public bathhouses, restaurants, shops, bars, public facilities, and even hotels, schools, hospitals, realtors, and other public services essential to life in Japan.  People were (and still are) arbitrarily being refused service because they “look foreign” to proprietors, and that includes allegedly “foreign-looking” Japanese citizens.

We first took several exclusionary cases to the court of public opinion, where we had some initial victories (signs coming down and the rules changed).  But soon Japanese media began putting up resistance (similar to what Ghosn noted in his press conference) to reasoned, informed, and factual public debate.

It’s all described in detail in my book “Japanese Only” (ebook available for a buck on Amazon), but some of the media strategies we faced were similar, including:

  1. Media quoting the proponents of the exclusionary status quo at length, less so the arguments of the critics;
  2. Media portraying the proponents as somehow pitiable, as “keepers of the faith” in “traditional Japan.”  Exclusions by physical appearance were soon construed as essentially normal, regular, or even necessary practices that keep Japanese in business;
  3. Media portraying the critics as “Japan bashers,” “Japan haters”, and generally “anti-Japan.”  Moreover, since foreigners were involved in the issue:
  4. Media portraying the issue of as a matter of “cultural misunderstandings by foreigners who don’t understand Japan” and “outsiders and guests disrespectfully telling poor old Japan what to do.”

After that, public debate almost completely elided the issue of racism.  The consequences were that issues of fair and equal treatment under the law were mooted, which affected the judicial outcome when we eventually took this case to court.

This enabling of exclusionism also empowered the militant “netto-uyo” (internet right-wing trolls) to inject anger, fear and loathing into the debate.  Then came the hate mail and death threats (which I still get to this day) to our homes, neighborhoods and workplaces.  With this came the hairy eyeballs from our neighbors and colleagues, meaning it was now somehow our fault for causing all this trouble.  Thus by standing up for our rights, we had brought all this upon ourselves.

Point is, I think Ghosn and I would have a lot to talk about.

Granted, there are caveats to this comparison.  Ghosn’s is a criminal case and ours was civil.  We were not arrested, fired from our jobs (luckily), or put in jail for months.

But I really get Ghosn.  I understand why he decided to do a runner.  It wasn’t just because he was denied access to his wife for months as a means to break him down psychologically.  It wasn’t just because prosecutors have decisive power over the evidence (even exculpatory evidence) submitted to court.  It wasn’t just because they decided to have separate trials for each charge, and the first trial would probably begin in 2021 and then take years.  And it wasn’t just because there is a separate and unequal jurisprudential track for foreigners than for Japanese (as detailed in my book “Embedded Racism”, Chapter 6).

It was that given this level of legalized bullying over the accused in Japan, Ghosn knew he wouldn’t get a fair trial with the presumption of innocence—neither in the courtroom nor in the court of public opinion.  And he was exactly right.

Even Japan’s Justice Minister demanded Ghosn return and “prove his innocence.”  That was not a gaffe.  That’s exactly the system in Japan.  And he would never be able to prove it when the courts and media follow the same presumption:  you got arrested, so you must have done something wrong to bring The System down upon yourself.  You’ll never get a fair hearing because your side will not be heard.  Not within Japan, anyway.  Especially as a foreigner.

I am aware that Ghosn’s skipping bail like this means foreigners will probably never be granted bail again.  (Then again, almost no foreigners are anyway.)   I am also aware that becoming a fugitive from justice just makes you look guiltier.  Moreover, the fact that Ghosn could actually escape is testament to his level of privilege, unlike the multitudes of suspects, foreign and Japanese, caught in the wringer without the wherewithal and connections to flee.

But there is no other way but Ghosn for Japan’s judicial excesses to finally be brought to light in the international arena.  I care less about one rich man’s escaping justice for possible white-collar crimes than about all the innocent people taken hostage by Japan’s unfettered police and sadistic prosecutors, who are less interested in finding the truth than in losing face by losing a case.

For too long now, Japan has gotten a free pass for its human rights abuses and torture of suspects.  Ghosn is in the best position possible to blow the lid off this system and bring international pressure for reforms.

Ghosn can clear his name for his personal benefit if he likes.  But as long as he winds up improving conditions for others incarcerated in Japan, I say support him in this quest.  Let’s see if he can reform Japan’s vicious criminal justice system when we couldn’t reform Japan’s racist social justice system.

ENDS

======================
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My Japan Times JBC column 117: The annual Top Ten for 2019 of human rights issues as they affected NJ residents in Japan, Jan 6, 2020

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Hi Blog and Happy New Year. Here’s my Annual Top Ten for The Japan Times.  Thanks for putting this column in the Japan Times Top Five for several days running!

Let’s start with some Bubbling Unders/Notable Obits with didn’t make the cut for space concerns, and excerpt the rest. Debito Arudou Ph.D.

justbecauseicon.jpg

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
‘Low IQ’ kids, parental rights and problematic terminology dogged Japan’s international community in 2019
BY DEBITO ARUDOU, Column 117 for the Japan Times Community Page, January 6, 2020
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/01/06/issues/japan-international-community-2019/

For over a decade, Just Be Cause has recapped the previous year’s biggest human rights and human rights-related issues that have affected the non-Japanese community in Japan.

With the start of a new decade upon us, I thought it would be appropriate to mix a little of what was going on in 2019 and connect it to the broader topics that came up during the 2010s. Some are victories, some are losses — some are dangerous losses — but all of the entries below (in ascending order) are at the very least highly relevant to all of us.

Bubbling under:
The Ainu Recognition Law passes last February, meaning Japan is officially multiethnic.
Donald Keene, scholar who opened Japanese literature to the world but senselessly portrayed fellow NJ residents as criminals and cowards, dies aged 96.
Sadako Ogata, UN superstar for refugees who did surprisingly little for refugees in Japan, dies aged 92.
Yasuhiro Nakasone, assertive former Prime Minister with a history of claiming Japan’s superior intelligence due to a lack of ethnic minorities, and of operating wartime “comfort women” stations, dies aged 101.
Shinzo Abe becomes Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister.

10) Otaru onsen, 20 years on

In September 1999, several international couples (including myself) tried to take a public bath at an onsen (hot-spring bath) in Otaru, Hokkaido, but were met with a “Japanese Only” sign rather than friendly customer service. The people who looked insufficiently “Japanese” (including myself and one of my daughters) were refused entry, while those who did (including a Chinese foreign resident) were allowed in.

The same onsen refused me entry again even after I became a Japanese citizen, and a group of us took them to court. The case, which went all the way to Japan’s Supreme Court, found the onsen guilty of “discriminating too much,” while the city of Otaru — which was also sued for not enforcing the United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination that Japan had ratified in 1996 — was found not liable.

Twenty years later, “Japanese Only” signs are still posted in places and Japan is still not living up to its international treaty commitments, with no national law protecting non-Japanese communities from racial discrimination.

9) Diversity in sports…

See if your favorite issue made the Top Ten (yes, Ghosn did, again).  Read the rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/01/06/issues/japan-international-community-2019/

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Debito.org’s stance on the Carlos Ghosn Case, at last: A boardroom coup making “thin legal soup” that might shame Japan’s “hostage justice” judicial system into reform

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ED’S NOTE DEC 31, 2019:  UPDATING THIS POST FROM FEB 2019 BECAUSE OF CARLOS GHOSN’S REEMERGENCE IN BEIRUT, HAVING SOMEHOW ESCAPED FROM THE CLUTCHES OF THE JAPANESE JUDICIARY.  THE BEST ARTICLE I’VE FOUND ON THIS EVENT IS ON THE DAILY BEAST HERE.  

DEBITO.ORG HAS COME DOWN DECISIVELY IN FAVOR OF GHOSN’S ESCAPE, AS CH 6 OF BOOK “EMBEDDED RACISM” DEPICTS JAPAN’S JUDICIARY AS DECIDEDLY AGAINST JUSTICE FOR NJ CAUGHT IN THEIR “HOSTAGE JUSTICE” SYSTEM.  FACT IS, GHOSN NEVER STOOD A CHANCE OF A FAIR TRIAL, ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF ALLEGATIONS THAT HAVE SURFACED LATER THAT INDICATE NISSAN’S OWN (JAPANESE) CEO IS JUST AS GUILTY OF SIMILAR “CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR” THAT DID NOT RESULT IN ARRESTS.  

READ ON FOR THE REASON WHY DEBITO.ORG BELIEVES THE GHOSN CASE WAS A FLIMSY ONE FROM THE START.  AND HAPPY NEW YEAR.  — Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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Hi Blog. Debito.org has been holding back on commenting on the Carlos Ghosn arrest.  A former president of Nissan and Mitsubishi, Ghosn was a hero in many circles for saving the formerly struggling Japanese automakers and making them world players again.  (Disclosure:  I’ve owned a number of Nissans, and found their quality improved over the years.)  So imagine everyone’s surprise (not the least his) when he’s returning from an overseas meeting last November and suddenly gets arrested at Haneda Airport (along with a fellow NJ associate), and thrown in the clink without trace for the standard 48 hours without charge, then a couple of ten-day periods before re-arrest and repeat.

The reason Debito.org has been holding back is because, well, actually, what happened to Ghosn after arrest is not all that surprising from a jurisprudential perspective.  This could happen to anyone regardless of nationality (excepting the general denial of bail for NJ).  And I personally have to admit feeling just a shade of schadenfreude for a filthy-rich one-percenter getting taken down a peg.

Truth is, I wanted to see if he’d get the standard treatment afforded most perps in Japan — a few weeks, months, or even more than a year of disappearing while being put under constant duress until you sign a confession (aka “hostage justice“).  Plus the standard treatment given NJ under arrest — an additional presumption of a lack of human rights for foreigners.  More on all that in my book Embedded Racism, Ch. 6, “A Chinaman’s Chance in Japanese Court”. I did comment on Ghosn for The Japan Times in my annual year-end round-up Just Be Cause column (published version here, “Director’s Cut” here).

Well, Ghosn has gotten the treatment.  Except for the fact he’s been able to communicate with the media in high-profile interviews.  More on that below.  So here’s Debito.org’s long-awaited comment about the Ghosn Case (from that “Director’s Cut”):

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DEBITO.ORG COMMENTS:  The former CEO of Nissan and Mitsubishi motors (but remaining as CEO at Renault), Ghosn was arrested last November and indicted in December for inter alia allegedly underreporting his income for tax purposes. As of this writing, he remains in police custody for the 23-day cycles of interrogations and re-arrests, until he confesses to a crime.

This event has been well-reported elsewhere, so let’s focus on the JBC issues: Ghosn’s arrest shows how far you can fall if you’re foreign. Especially if you’re foreign.

One red flag was that the only two people arrested in this fiasco have been foreign: Ghosn and his associate, Greg Kelly. Kelly is now out on bail due to health concerns. But where are the others doing similar malfeasances? According to Reuters, Kobe Steel underreported income in 2008, 2011, and 2013, and committed data fraud for “nearly five decades.” Same with Toray and Ube Industries, Olympus, Takata, Mitsubishi Materials, Nissan, and Subaru.

Who’s been arrested? Nobody but those two foreigners.

And Japan’s judicial system has a separate track for NJ suspects, including harsher jurisprudence for NJs accused of crimes, lax jurisprudence for NJ victims of crimes, uneven language translation services, general denial of bail for NJ, an extra incarceration system for subsequent visa violations while in jail, and incarceration rates for NJs four times that for citizens. (See my book Embedded Racism, Ch. 6.)

Most indicative of separate and unequal treatment is that some of the accusations, which fall under a statute of limitations of seven years under the Companies Act, are still applicable. Prosecutors have argued that statutes do not apply to Ghosn because he spent time overseas. Apparently even the passage of time is different for foreigners, because the clock stops if they ever leave Japan!

It’s Debito.org’s view that this is a boardroom coup. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Ghosn was planning to oust a rival, Hiroto Saikawa, who has since taken Ghosn’s place as CEO. A similar thing happened to at Olympus in 2011, when CEO Michael Woodford broke ranks and came clean on boardroom grift. He was fired for not understanding “Japanese culture,” since that’s the easiest thing to pin on any foreigner.

But in Woodford’s case, he was fired, not arrested and subjected to Japan’s peculiar system of “hostage justice” police detention, where detainees are denied access to basic amenities (including sleep or lawyers) for weeks at a time, and interrogated until they crack and confess, with more than 99% conviction rates.

The good news is that finally overseas media is waking up to what Japan’s Federation of Bar Associations and the UN Committee Against Torture have respectively called “a breeding ground for false charges” and “tantamount to torture.” Funny thing is, if this had happened in China, we’d have had howls much sooner about the gross violations of Ghosn’s human rights.

(Source on “statute of limitations does not apply:” “Japan’s Companies Act has a statute of limitations of seven years. Prosecutors argue this does not apply due to the amount of time Ghosn has spent outside the country.”
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Nissan-s-Ghosn-crisis/Ghosn-rearrested-for-alleged-aggravated-breach-of-trust
Other irregularities noted in the JT by Glen Fukushima: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2018/12/20/commentary/japan-commentary/seven-questions-ghosn-nissan/)

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Well, the news is now Ghosn’s case has been picked over by the media (the charges are being called “thin soup” below).  And Ghosn’s high-profile status has enabled him to get a high-profile interview with the Nikkei newspaper below (for fifteen minutes, with a five-minute extension).  Few if any other people incarcerated in this system have this much ability to draw attention and make their case to the public.

Moreover, since Ghosn’s Japanese language abilities are probably not at the level of the language in his interview, it’s reasonable to assume  the interview was in English.  In my direct experience in dealing with other incarcerated foreigners, if they talk with anyone they must do it with a guard present, and they must speak in Japanese at all times so the guard can understand what’s being said.  Ghosn’s ability to get around that rule seems to be another trapping of his privilege.

That’s a bit annoying.  But if it eventually shines light on an abuse of the Japanese judicial system in specific (i.e., uneven enforcement of the law), and shames Japan into reforming its “hostage justice” interrogation system in general, then some good may come of it.

In the end, the Ghosn Case, on top of the the Woodford Case, remain excellent reasons why foreigners shouldn’t hope to become executives in Japanese companies.  One boardroom coup later by the nativists, you could be in jail for being CEO while foreign. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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NISSAN’S GHOSN CRISIS
Exclusive interview: Ghosn says ‘plot and treason’ led to arrest
Ex-Nissan chief claims rivals wanted to ‘get rid’ of him
Nikkei Asian Review, Nikkei staff writers, January 30, 2019
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Nissan-s-Ghosn-crisis/Exclusive-interview-Ghosn-says-plot-and-treason-led-to-arrest

In his first interview since being detained on Nov.19, ousted Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn claimed that certain people had “distorted reality” for the purpose of “getting rid of him.”

TOKYO — Former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn told Nikkei in an exclusive interview Wednesday that he had “no doubt” that the charges against him were the result of “plot and treason” by Nissan executives opposed to his plan for deeper integration between Renault and its two Japanese alliance partners.

Speaking on the 10th floor of the Tokyo Detention House, dressed in a black fleece jacket and gray sweatpants, Ghosn acknowledged that “there was a plan to integrate” Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors. The plans had been discussed with Nissan President Hiroto Saikawa in September, he added.

In his first interview since being detained on Nov. 19, Ghosn claimed that he had wanted to include Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko in the talks, but “Saikawa wanted it one-on-one.”

Once the three automakers were more closely integrated, Ghosn wanted to ensure there would be “autonomy under one holding company,” he said, adding that this plan was in line with how he had operated the alliance in past years.

Allies of Ghosn’s have argued that some Nissan executives feared a further concentration of power under his leadership, prompting them to cooperate with Tokyo prosecutors.

Nikkei had been requesting a one-on-one interview with Ghosn since his arrest last year. The approval was granted this week.

Ghosn was allowed by the Tokyo District Court to speak with Nikkei. Media interviews with prominent business leaders in detention are extremely rare in Japan.

“We don’t have much time. Let’s get started,” Ghosn said at the beginning of the interview from behind the acrylic glass partition. As the end of the allotted 15 minutes approached, he asked the officer for “a little more” time, and was granted a five-minute extension.

The Brazilian-born tycoon has dismissed accusations that his 19-year reign at Nissan was a “dictatorship,” saying this was a narrative created by rivals who wanted to remove him. “People translated strong leadership to dictator, to distort reality” for the “purpose of getting rid of me,” he added.

Ghosn has been held without bail for more than 70 days since Tokyo prosecutors arrested him on allegations of financial misconduct.

He was charged with underreporting his salary over several years, and aggravated breach of trust for allegedly transferring to Nissan personal trading losses from foreign exchange contracts.

The breach-of-trust charges center on $14.7 million in payments to a company run by Saudi businessman Khaled al-Juffali.

He denied the accusations and claimed “the executive in charge of the region signed [the approval].”

The payment was made from Ghosn’s “CEO reserve,” a pot of money that he was free to decide how to spend. He said the “CEO reserve is not a black box” and “four officers signed” for the payment to al-Juffali.

Ghosn is also accused of receiving 7.82 million euros ($8.9 million) in improper payments through Nissan-Mitsubishi B.V., a Netherlands-based joint venture between the two Japanese companies. He said the venture was established for “synergy and not for payment,” adding that the claims of improper payments were a “distortion of reality.”

Ghosn said his purchase of luxury properties in Rio de Janeiro and Beirut — which Nissan alleges were paid for improperly through a subsidiary — were approved by the legal department. Pointing to a former loyalist and long-time executive in the legal department, Ghosn said: “Hari Nada has done all this.”

He justified the houses on the grounds that he “needed a safe place where [he] can work and receive people in both Brazil and Lebanon.”

“[Have I] done [something] inappropriate? I am not a lawyer, I don’t know the interpretation of [such] facts,” Ghosn said, showing his frustration over Nissan’s internal investigation.

“These are known by everybody, why didn’t they tell me?”

Ghosn, whose second bail request was rejected Jan. 22, insisted that he was not a flight risk and he would not destroy evidence.

“I won’t flee, I will defend [myself],” he added. “All the evidence is with Nissan, and Nissan forbids all employees to talk to me.”

When asked about life in the detention center, Ghosn said “there is up and down.” As for his health, he simply said he was “doing fine.”

After his arrest, Ghosn appeared to have envisioned attending a Renault board meeting in Paris, explaining his position, and holding a news conference. But his prolonged detention in a Tokyo jail frustrated those plans.

Nissan dismissed Ghosn from his position as chairman in November. An extraordinary general meeting of shareholders scheduled in mid-April is expected to remove Ghosn as a director.

Ghosn resigned as chairman and CEO of Renault, and former Michelin chief Jean-Dominique Senard was appointed as the chairman.

The three members of the alliance are expected to revisit how it is operated in the absence of Ghosn’s leadership. “I cannot speculate about the future of the alliance,” Ghosn said.

The French government, Renault’s largest shareholder, has previously requested Ghosn make the relationship between the two automakers “irreversible.”

Following Ghosn’s arrest, France also informed Tokyo of an intention to press ahead with integration. Saikawa, in contrast, has insisted there is “no need for now to discuss [it].”

Interviewed by Nikkei commentator Atsushi Nakayama and Nikkei staff writers Akito Tanaka and Yosuke Kurabe.

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OPINION
Ghosn charges are thin soup — case for ex-Nissan boss
Prosecutors fail to make a strong case against car maker’s former chief
By Stephen Givens, Nikkei Asian Review, January 29, 2019
https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Ghosn-charges-are-thin-soup-case-for-ex-Nissan-boss

Two months after his arrest at Haneda Airport and confinement at Kosuge detention center, we now have a good picture of the criminal case against Carlos Ghosn-and it looks like pretty thin soup.

As reported in the media, the evidence shows not criminal malfeasance, but at most lapses in judgment and corporate protocol that ultimately did not result in any actual harm to Nissan Motor or its shareholders or personal enrichment of Ghosn.

The criminal case turns on a series of technical and subjective judgments about whether the words of the relevant statutes and regulations apply to the transactions in question.

By any objective measure, the misconduct alleged was less serious than the corporate misfeasance that is routinely overlooked in Japan or handled by noncriminal administrative wrist-slapping.

The first, and for many weeks the only, criminal charge brought against Ghosn was that Nissan’s periodic securities filings disclosed just the currently payable portion of his compensation. They failed to report the portion deferred until after his retirement.

Ghosn’s motive for not wanting to report his full compensation currently-that it was embarrassingly large in relation to that of other Japanese CEOs and Ghosn’s Nissan colleagues — does not constitute serious criminal intent.

Further, the evidence indicates that Ghosn tried in good faith to structure the deferred compensation in a way that would permit him legally not to report it currently under the rules, which require current reporting of director-level compensation only to the extent the right to receive it has become “clear.”

Though the documentation has not been made public, it appears that it was structured as some kind of post-retirement consulting arrangement that would, at a minimum, require Ghosn to provide Nissan with services after retirement to collect the compensation.

It is hard to imagine that Nissan would have failed to report Ghosn’s deferred compensation over many years without professional legal advice that it did not need to be currently reported because Ghosn’s right to receive it was conditional.

It is equally hard to understand why Nissan’s Japanese management, having condoned the deferred compensation arrangement and its nonreporting for years, is now using it as the lead card in the criminal case.

Beyond this, criminal liability under the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act for false disclosure is explicitly predicated on the requirement that it be “material”- that is, it would have a significant impact on an investor’s decision to sell or buy Nissan shares.

For investors, the amount of Ghosn’s unreported deferred compensation, about $10 million per year, is clearly very small compared to Nissan’s $90 billion in annual revenues.

Meanwhile, Japan’s weak securities disclosure standards permit Nissan not to reveal information that would be much more relevant to investors, such as the terms of the “alliance” contracts between Renault, Nissan’s major shareholder, and Nissan.

It does not inspire confidence in Japan’s justice system that Ghosn’s guilt or innocence on the this charge will hinge on semantic distinctions over the meanings of “clear” and “material.”

The second criminal charge against Ghosn is for two, related claims of “aggravated breach of trust” under the Companies Act. This vaguely-worded statute imposes criminal liability on directors of a company who for personal gain “commit an act in breach of such person’s duties and causes financial damages” to the company. Typically this statute is applied to cases of embezzlement-executives taking company assets.

The first prong of the breach of trust charge has been loosely characterized in the press as “the shifting of Ghosn’s personal foreign exchange losses to Nissan” but details of the transactions disclosed by Ghosn’s lawyers show it to be less pernicious than advertised.

Ghosn entered into a foreign exchange hedging transaction with Shinsei Bank to protect his yen-denominated Nissan compensation against the risk of depreciation. Like many others he failed to anticipate the financial crisis of 2008, which sent the yen soaring and reduced the value of the Nissan securities he had offered Shinsei Bank as collateral.

Shinsei Bank asked Ghosn for additional security. Ghosn considered offering the value of his uncashed Nissan retirement allowance-but doing so would have required him actually to leave Nissan at a time he was a vital part of the management. Instead, he asked Nissan to guarantee his downside risk on the hedge, but pledged to fully cover the liability.

Critically, Ghosn’s request for help with his unexpected difficulty received formal approval by the Nissan board. Admittedly the Securities Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC), deemed the transaction improper a few months later and ordered Nissan to get rid of the hedging contract.

So, Nissan carried a contingent liability — fully guaranteed by Ghosn — as an accommodation to its CEO for approximately four months. Nissan suffered no actual loss and was never at risk because it was fully covered by Ghosn’s retirement allowance. The transaction was not concealed; it was approved by the Nissan board and reported to the SESC, which saw no reason to request a criminal probe a decade ago.

So, you may ask, where is the crime? According to news reports, it turns out the prosecutors are not satisfied with the drafting of the board resolution. They are quibbling that the board resolution did not mention Ghosn by name and only referred generically to “foreign board members” as beneficiaries of the transaction. Moreover, the prosecutors are claiming the resolution was not specific on how Nissan was to be protected with 100% certainty against possible loss. Ghosn’s criminal liability turns almost entirely on the wording of a board resolution that Ghosn himself surely did not draft.

The second prong of the breach of trust charge relates to the subsequent transfer, in compliance with the SESC’s order, of the Shinsei Bank contract from Nissan to companies controlled by Saudi national Khaled Juffali. Nissan affiliates in the Middle East paid Juffali’s companies $14.7 million over four years for variety of “support activities” in the region. The prosecutors claim that Nissan’s money was paid for Juffali’s guarantee of Ghosn’s personal contingent liability.

It seems unrealistic, however, that anyone would pay $14.7 million of Nissan money for a guarantee of a contingent liability worth at most $16.7 million-a huge overpayment.

This strongly suggests that Juffali’s companies were being paid for doing more than simply backing Ghosn’s Shinsei liability. The more commercially-likely scenario is more innocuous, one in which Ghosn asked a friendly business counterparty to assume an essentially riskless contingent liability as a favor in the context of a long-term business relationship. This represents the kind of mutual exchange between companies with long-term relationships practiced daily by the Japanese corporate establishment.

No question, a more scrupulous and careful executive would have avoided pushing the gray boundaries of the law. But nothing we know that Ghosn allegedly did smells like a serious crime deserving prison. That he remains in confinement while the prosecutors argue semantics to deprive him of his freedom places Japan’s criminal justice system in an awkward light.

Stephen Givens is a corporate lawyer based in Tokyo.

ENDS

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My Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities col 3: “Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins”, October 23, 2019

mytest

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Hi Blog. My latest SNA column 3 is now up. Here’s an excerpt. And here is a link to sources for claims within the article. Enjoy. Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities Column 3
Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins
Shingetsu News Agency OCT 23, 2019, by DEBITO ARUDOU
Courtesy http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/10/23/racial-profiling-at-japanese-hotel-check-ins/

SNA (Tokyo) — It’s dehumanizing to be denied service somewhere, not for what you did, but for who you are, and to realize that discrimination is real.

In Japan, your first experience might be with your apartment search—realtors may deny you a home simply because “the landlord doesn’t like foreigners.”

Sadly, there’s little you can do: racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan, even in 2019. You could report what happened to the Ministry of Justice’s Human Rights Bureau (which will generally do nothing), or take them to court where you’re at the mercy of a judge susceptible to narratives of “foreigners are different/difficult, so refusing them is okay,” which is known legally as “rational discrimination.” Still, you will need a place right away to call home.

Eventually, after getting an interlocutor to negotiate or an employer to vouch for you, you find one. You’ll forget about what happened. Something like this doesn’t happen every day, right?

But it may occur the next time you want a hotel room. Given the tourism boom and hosted international sports events, racial profiling and discrimination have become widespread in Japan’s hoteling industry. This is particularly insidious because it’s not just the occasional bigoted landlord calling the shots; this time it’s the Japanese police…

Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/10/23/racial-profiling-at-japanese-hotel-check-ins/

And if you want to do something to stop this happening to you, download a file substantiating that you don’t have to show any ID as a resident of Japan here: http://www.debito.org/newhotelpassportlaw.jpg

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Reuters: Japanese police urged to take “light-touch” towards NJ during Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup. Yeah, sure.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  It turns out Japan has earned a reputation from past experiences hosting international events.

The racism-riddled debacles that were the soccer World Cup 2002 and the G8 Summits (here and here) made me question whether Japan as a society (let alone its politicians and police) was mature enough to handle any temporary influx of NJ, let alone as visa-legal NJ workers and residents of Japan.

But it seems it wasn’t just me. Some months ago, the Rugby World Cup and staff from two embassies actually cautioned the Japanese police to ease up on their overzealousness towards NJ.  As previous blog entries have shown, it’s questionable whether they are actually doing that (as they are bending the law to encourage racial profiling at hotels etc.).

But the following article deserves to be recorded on Debito.org because it shows at least somebody out there is taking notice, despite all the official “omotenashi” wallpapering over Japan’s latent exclusionism that goes ignored, if not encouraged, by Japanese authorities.  I look forward to seeing what the International Olympic Committee has to say in Tokyo in a year.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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Rugby – Japan police urged to take ‘light-touch’ approach at World Cup
REUTERS APRIL 18, 2019, By Jack Tarrant, courtesy of JDG
https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-rugby-union-worldcup-police-interview-idUKKCN1RV079

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese police have been encouraged to take a “light-touch approach” during the Rugby World Cup, with organisers telling Reuters they had visited host cities to emphasise that while fans will be boisterous they are unlikely to cause trouble.

More than 400,000 foreign fans are expected to descend on Japan for the Sept. 20 to Nov. 2 tournament and concerns have been raised that police might not have enough experience to deal with the influx.

Staff from two embassies have expressed concern to Reuters that police may overreact to perceived intimidation from fans.

Mick Wright, 2019 executive director for operations, said host cities had received briefings on what to expect and that organisers had downplayed concerns about unruly fans.

“We have been on a bit of a mission, we have had a roadshow going around all the cities talking about … rugby fans and what they expect from their behaviour,” Wright told Reuters.

Wright, who also works as a technical advisor to the International Olympic Committee, said host cities would be swamped by large numbers of fans drinking huge quantities of alcohol but that the mood would be a positive one.

“We have been explaining to all the cities that they better stock up on beer because we know from history that rugby fans will drink a lot,” he said.

“It is part and parcel of rugby’s ethos and culture.

“The way the fans behave, it might be loud and it might be raucous but it won’t be intimidating.

“With the police, I think we have been really successful in explaining to them that the light-touch approach is going to be better,” added Wright.

Yoshiya Takesako, Japan 2019 director of security, said the police had been told what to expect from fans and how to react.

“Rugby fans may seem scary but they are not,” said Takesako, who has been seconded from the Japanese police.

“This has been explained to the police so they have been educated that fans will drink a lot and may sing or be loud but it is not like they will hurt anybody.

“I have told the police forces many, many times to respond to fans in a reasonable way.”
ENDS

================================
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Kyodo: Japan celebrates its South American Japanese diaspora. Praising them for doing what it complains NJ immigrants to Japan do. (Like take Nippon Foundation money to sterilize Peruvian indigenous peoples?)

mytest

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Hi Blog. Check out this article that appeared recently in The Japan Times, courtesy of the wire services:

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Princess Mako meets with Peruvian president, expresses gratitude for acceptance of Japanese immigrants
KYODO, JIJI JUL 12, 2019 (excerpt), courtesy of Andrew in Saitama
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/07/12/national/princess-mako-meets-peruvian-president-expresses-gratitude-acceptance-japanese-immigrants/

LIMA – Princess Mako paid a visit to Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra on Thursday in Lima during her trip to mark the 120th anniversary of the start of Japanese immigration to the South American country.

“I feel Japanese Peruvians are treated very well in Peru. I’m grateful that Peru accepted Japanese immigrants,” the 27-year-old princess, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Akishino, said during the meeting at the president’s office.

Vizcarra said he is glad that Japanese Peruvians are actively involved in various fields.

The president also showed his gratitude to Japan’s contribution to Peru in the areas of technological and economic cooperation and archaeology. […]

She later met at a hotel in Lima with representatives of Japanese people living in Peru and Japanese volunteers dispatched by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, thanking them for their efforts in the country. […] On Wednesday, she attended a ceremony marking the immigration anniversary and met with Peruvians of Japanese descent. She is scheduled to travel to Bolivia on Monday to mark the 120th anniversary of the start of Japanese immigration to that country, and return home on July 22.
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Full article at
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/07/12/national/princess-mako-meets-peruvian-president-expresses-gratitude-acceptance-japanese-immigrants/

As Debito.org Reader Andrew in Saitama recently commented:

“Team Japan celebrates its emigrants for their contributions (i.e. being Japanese) – essentially praising them for doing what it complains its immigrants do.”

But Reader JDG went even further:

“Notice they don’t talk about LDP members funding Peruvian government forced sterilization of ethnic minorities. That’s some Japanese contribution to Peruvian society!”

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Mass sterilisation scandal shocks Peru
BBC News, Wednesday, 24 July, 2002, courtesy of JDG
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2148793.stm

More than 200,000 people in rural Peru were pressured into being sterilised by the government of former President Alberto Fujimori, an official report has revealed.

The Health Minister, Fernando Carbone, said the government gave misleading information, offered food incentives and threatened to fine men and women if they had more children.

Poor indigenous people in rural areas were the main targets of the compulsive family planning programme until 2000, when Mr Fujimori left for Japan amid mounting corruption allegations against him.

Mr Carbone said there was evidence that Mr Fujimori and a number of high-ranking ministers could be held responsible for “incorrect procedures” and “human rights violations”.

He called for a deeper investigation and promised that action would be taken against those found responsible for the forced sterilisations.

‘Deceitful’ campaign

Figures show that between 1996 and 2000, surgeons carried out 215,227 sterilising operations on women and 16,547 male vasectomies.

This compared to 80,385 sterilisations and 2,795 vasectomies over the previous three years.

The result has been a demographical drop in certain areas, leaving an older population and the economic disadvantages which will result from fewer people able to earn a living.

The report, by the commission investigating “voluntary contraceptive surgery” activities, concluded that there had been numerous programmes during the Fujimori regime which threatened poor women in Peru.

The operations were promoted in a “deceitful” publicity campaign of leaflets, posters and radio advertisements promising “happiness and well-being,” the report said.

Investigations found that there was inadequate evaluation before surgery and little after-care.

The procedures were also found to have been negligent, with less than half being carried out with a proper anaesthetist.

The commission’s report said the inadequate family planning policy had a psychological and moral impact and harmed the dignity and physical integrity of men as well as women.

Threats

Five hundred and seven people, from rural areas such as Cuzco and Ancash, gave testimonies to the commission.

Only 10% of these admitted having voluntarily agreed to the sterilisation procedure after promises of economic and health incentives such as food, operations and medicines.

Others said that if they refused they were told they would have to pay a fine and would not be able to seek medical help for their children.

The report added that most of the women interviewed said they were scared of talking because of threats made against anyone who spoke out.

The programme was found to have been designed, encouraged and monitored at the highest levels in Fujimori’s government, including the president’s office.

The number of operations, and pressure from government, started to fall after increasing concerns from human rights organisations within Peru and the international community.

ENDS

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Now, before anyone writes in and says, “You’re being racist.  Alberto Fujimori didn’t do this BECAUSE he is Japanese.  He just happened to be of Japanese descent.” (And self-claimed citizenship.) While doing monstrous things.

However, remember that Fujimori WAS being funded by the right-wing Nippon Foundation (founded by war criminal Sasakawa Ryouichi), especially when it was being headed by self-proclaimed South African Apartheid supporter (and apparently personal friend of Fujimori’s) Sono Ayako.

Meaning Fujimori, with the help of Japanese eugenicists, was cleansing Peru’s countryside of Peruvian indigenous peoples without proper medical procedure or oversight.

We’ve covered Sono Ayako’s ideological hijinks and Alberto Fujimori’s international criminal activity (which is why he is in prison now) on Debito.org before.  What’s missing from this celebration of Japanese history in South America, as JDG notes, is Japan’s hand in modern human rights atrocities overseas.  Thanks to Debito.org Readers for keeping this information alive.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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US State Dept. 2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Japan: Highlights for Debito.org Readers

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Hi Blog.  Every year, the US State Department issues its “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices”.  As highlighted by the Shingetsu News Agency, the 2018 Report on Japan came out last March.  Now while it’s quite rich for the US to be reporting on other countries (but not, notably, itself) while it has an ongoing human-rights debacle for detained foreign entrants and asylum seekers (and their children) around its southern border, this Report has been cited over the years as authoritative (and it has also included the work of Debito.org and others).

So here are the highlights on issues pertaining to Debito.org.  As you can see, a lot of information is glossed over.  Read the Report on Japan in its entirety here.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Japan

MARCH 13, 2019

Courtesy https://www.state.gov/reports/2018-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/japan/

Highlights:

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person

Prison and Detention Center Conditions:
Prison management regulations stipulate that independent committees inspect prisons and detention centers operated by the Ministry of Justice and detention facilities operated by police. Authorities permitted the committees, which include physicians, lawyers, local municipal officials, and local citizens, to interview detainees without the presence of prison officers.

By law third-party inspection committees also inspected immigration detention facilities, and their recommendations generally received serious consideration.

Domestic and international NGOs and international organizations continued to note that this process failed to meet international prison inspection standards. As evidence, they cited the Justice Ministry’s control of all logistical support for the inspection committees, the use of ministry interpreters during interviews with detainees, and a lack of transparency about the composition of the committees.

[More on what’s been glossed over about detention centers etc. here.]

D. ARBITRARY ARREST OR DETENTION

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention. Civil society organizations reported on ethnic profiling and surveillance of foreign Muslims by the police, according to the August report by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS

The National Public Safety Commission, a cabinet-level entity, oversees the National Police Agency (NPA), and prefectural public safety commissions have responsibility for local police forces. The government had effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year. Some NGOs criticized local public safety commissions for lacking independence from or sufficient authority over police agencies. […]

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations continued to allege that suspects confessed under duress, mainly during unrecorded interrogations, calling for recording entire interrogations for all cases. Prosecutors’ offices and police increasingly recorded entire interrogations for heinous criminal cases, cases involving suspects with intellectual or mental disabilities, and other cases on a trial basis; however, recording was not mandatory, and there was no independent oversight of this practice.

Police inspection offices imposed disciplinary actions against some violators of interrogation guidelines, although the NPA did not release related statistics. […]

[More on what’s been glossed over about police interrogation tactics here.]

ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
Pretrial Detention
Because judges customarily granted prosecutors’ requests for extensions, pretrial detention, known as daiyou kangoku (substitute prison), usually continued for 23 days. NGOs reported the practice of detaining suspects in daiyou kangoku continued. NGOs and foreign observers continued to report that access to persons other than their attorneys and, in the case of foreign arrestees, consular personnel, was denied to some persons in daiyou kangoku. Nearly all persons detained during the year were held in daiyou kangoku. Beyond daiyou kangoku, extended pretrial detention of foreign detainees was a problem; examples included one person held more than 27 months (as of September) and several held for more than a year without trial. In these cases, prosecutors changed multiple times, trial dates were rescheduled and delayed, and prosecutors continued to request “additional time” to investigate matters that, according to the defendant’s counsel, did not warrant the trial’s further delay or additional preparatory pretrial meetings, which are common for jury system cases. […]

Each charged individual has the right to a trial without undue delay (although foreign observers noted trials may be delayed indefinitely for mentally ill prisoners, and extended pretrial detention of foreign detainees was a problem); to access to defense counsel, including an attorney provided at public expense if indigent; and, to cross-examine witnesses. There is a lay-judge (jury) system for serious criminal cases, and defendants may not be compelled to testify against themselves. Authorities provided free interpretation services to foreign defendants in criminal cases. Foreign defendants in civil cases must pay for interpretation, although a judge may order the plaintiff to pay the charges in accordance with a court’s final decision.

[More on what’s been glossed over about police pretrial detention here.]

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties
A. FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND PRESS

Freedom of Expression:
According to media and NGO reports, incidents of hate speech against minorities and their defenders, in particular, on the internet, grew. The national law on hate speech applies only to discriminatory speech and behavior directed at those who are not of Japanese heritage and is limited to educating and raising public awareness among the general public against hate speech; it does not carry penalties. Prosecutors have instead used another law on libel to prosecute an extremist group for hate speech, as discussed below. Additionally, on the local-government level, Osaka City and Kyoto Prefecture, where nationalist groups have frequently staged public anti-Korea events near “Korea Town” neighborhoods, as well as Kawasaki City and Tokyo Prefecture, have passed their own ordinances or guidelines to regulate hate speech.

[More on hate speech laws and issues here.]

In April the Kyoto Prefectural Prosecutors’ Office indicted a former Zaitokukai (an ultranationalist organization) senior official, Hitoshi Nishimura, on libel charges for making derogatory online and public statements about the North Korea-affiliated Chosen School in Kyoto. Attorneys for the school’s owner welcomed the prosecutors’ decision to pursue a defamation charge under the Penal Code, which carries a heavier sentence than civil charges levied against other Zaitokukai members following similar incidents in 2009.

[More on the Zaitokukai and their antics here.]

D. FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT, INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS, PROTECTION OF REFUGEES, AND STATELESS PERSONS

Access to Asylum:
The law provides for granting asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. The Ministry of Justice introduced revised screening procedures for refugee applications on January 15 to promote granting refugee status to genuine applicants promptly while also curbing abuse of the application process. As a result, the number of approved applications from January through June, including the approval of two previously denied applications, exceeded the number of approvals granted during all of 2017. In 2017 there were 19,629 applications, 20 of which were approved (0.1 percent). From January through June 2018, the government received 5,586 applications, 22 of which were approved (0.4 percent).

Access to Basic Services:
Refugees continued to face the same discrimination patterns sometimes seen by other foreigners: reduced access to housing, education, and employment. Except for those who met right-to-work conditions, individuals whose refugee applications were pending or on appeal did not have the right to receive social welfare. This status rendered them completely dependent on overcrowded government shelters, illegal employment, or NGO assistance.

[More on issues facing Refugees in Japan here.]

Elections and Political Participation:
Participation of Women and Minorities:
Because some ethnic minority group members are of mixed heritage and did not self-identify, it was difficult to determine their numbers in the Diet, but a number were represented.

[Well, that’s short and under-researched.  Try here, here, and here, for a few more insights.]

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

A number of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials were usually cooperative and responsive to their views.

Government Human Rights Bodies:
The Justice Ministry’s Human Rights Counseling Office had 311 offices across the country. Approximately 14,000 volunteers fielded questions in person, by telephone, or on the internet and provided confidential consultations. Counselling in any of six foreign languages was available in 50 offices. These consultative offices fielded queries, but they do not have authority to investigate human rights violations by individuals or public organizations, provide counsel, or mediate. Municipal governments had human rights offices that dealt with a range of human rights problems.

[That too is under-researched.  These “human rights offices” hardly “deal” with problems effectively at all.]

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

International Child Abductions:
The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data.html.

[Seriously, that’s all they say.  Rubbish.]

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities:
Minorities experienced varying degrees of societal discrimination.

Despite legal safeguards against discrimination, foreign permanent residents in the country and nonethnically Japanese citizens, including many who were born, raised, and educated in the country, were subjected to various forms of entrenched societal discrimination, including restricted access to housing, education, health care, and employment opportunities. Foreign nationals as well as “foreign looking” citizens reported they were prohibited entry, sometimes by signs reading “Japanese Only,” to privately owned facilities serving the public, including hotels and restaurants. Although such discrimination was usually open and direct, NGOs complained of government failure to enforce laws prohibiting such restrictions.

Representatives of the ethnic Korean community said hate speech against them in public and on social networking sites continued. Additionally, there was no indication of increased societal acceptance of ethnic Koreans. Although authorities approved most naturalization applications, advocacy groups continued to complain about excessive bureaucratic hurdles that complicated the naturalization process and a lack of transparent criteria for approval. Ethnic Koreans who chose not to naturalize faced difficulties in terms of civil and political rights and regularly encountered discrimination in job promotions as well as access to housing, education, and other benefits.

Senior government officials publicly repudiated the harassment of ethnic groups as inciting discrimination and reaffirmed the protection of individual rights for everyone in the country.

[These reporters owe it to themselves to read book “Embedded Racism“.  It’s not just “societal discrimination” when racialized discrimination is embedded in the very writing of the laws.  Start here at Chapter 4.]

Section 7. Worker Rights

B. PROHIBITION OF FORCED OR COMPULSORY LABOR

The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor.

Violations persisted and enforcement was lacking in some segments of the labor market, for example, in sectors where foreign workers were employed; however, in general the government effectively enforced the law. Legal penalties for forced labor varied depending on its form, the victim(s), and the law that prosecutors used to prosecute such offenses. Not all forms of forced or compulsory labor were clearly defined by law, nor did they all carry penalties sufficient to deter violations. For example, the law criminalizes forced labor and prescribes penalties of up to 10 years’ imprisonment, but it also allows for fines in lieu of incarceration. NGOs argued that reliance on multiple and overlapping statutes hindered the government’s ability to identify and prosecute trafficking crimes, especially for cases involving forced labor with elements of psychological coercion.

Reports of forced labor continued in the manufacturing, construction, and shipbuilding sectors, largely in small- and medium-size enterprises employing foreign nationals through the Technical Intern Training Program (TITP). This program allows foreign workers to enter the country and work for up to five years in a de facto guest worker program that many observers assessed to be rife with vulnerabilities to trafficking and other labor abuses.

Workers in these jobs experienced restrictions on freedom of movement and communication with persons outside the program, nonpayment of wages, excessive working hours, high debts to brokers in countries of origin, and retention of identity documents. For example, women from Cambodia and China recounted long hours, poor living conditions, restricted freedom of movement, and nonpayment of wages while they were working in a Gifu textile factory. Workers were also sometimes subjected to “forced savings” that they forfeited by leaving early or being forcibly repatriated. For example, some technical interns reportedly paid up to one million yen ($8,900) in their home countries for jobs and were reportedly employed under contracts that mandated forfeiture of those funds to agents in their home country if workers attempted to leave, both of which are illegal under the TITP. In 2017 the government established an oversight body, the Organization for Technical Intern Training (OTIT), which conducted on-site inspections of TITP workplaces. There is concern that the OTIT is understaffed, insufficiently accessible to persons who do not speak Japanese, and ineffective at prosecuting labor abuse cases.

Workers who entered the country illegally or who overstayed their visas were particularly vulnerable. NGOs maintained government oversight was insufficient.

Despite the prevalence of forced labor within the TITP, no case has ever led to a labor trafficking prosecution.

On December 8, the country enacted legislation that creates new categories of working visas to bring in more skilled and blue-collar workers and upgrades the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau to an agency that will oversee companies that accept foreign workers. NGOs expressed concern that the new law does not adequately safeguard against the potential for continued labor abuses, such as those that have been present in the TITP.

[…] Reports of employers forcing pregnant women to leave their jobs continued, although there are no recent data on this problem. In December media reported the case of a Vietnamese technical trainee who was told to have an abortion or quit her job.

[More on the issues involving “Trainees” etc. here.]

E. ACCEPTABLE CONDITIONS OF WORK

The minimum wage ranged from 737 to 958 yen ($6.50 to $8.50) per hour, depending on the prefecture. The poverty line was 1.22 million yen ($10,900) per year. […] Nonregular workers (which include part-time workers, fixed-term contract workers, and dispatch workers) made up approximately 37 percent of the labor force in 2017. […]

Reports of abuses in the TITP were common, including injuries due to unsafe equipment and insufficient training, nonpayment of wages and overtime compensation, excessive and often spurious salary deductions, forced repatriation, and substandard living conditions (also see section 7.b.). In addition, observers alleged that a conflict of interest existed, since the inspectors who oversee the TITP working conditions were employed by two ministries that are members of the interagency group administering the TITP. Some inspectors appeared reluctant to conduct investigations that could cast a negative light on a government program that business owners favored.

There were also reports of informal employment of foreign asylum seekers on provisional release from detention who did not have work permits. Such workers were vulnerable to mistreatment and did not have access to standard labor protections or oversight.

EXCERPT ENDS

========================
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Foreign Minister Kouno Taro asks world media to use Japanese ordering of names (Abe Shinzo, not Shinzo Abe) in overseas reportage. Actually, I agree.

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Hi Blog. Foreign Minister Kouno Taro (whom I have met, for the record, and can attest is one of the more liberal, open-minded people I’ve ever negotiated with in the LDP) came out last week to say that Japanese names should be rendered in Japanese order (last name, then first) in overseas media. This debate has gained significant traction in the past couple of weeks (not to mention quite a few scoffs). But I will defy the scoffs, make the case for why it matters, and why I agree with Kouno (after the WaPo article below):

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Asia
Japan to the world: Call him Abe Shinzo, not Shinzo Abe
By Adam Taylor, The Washington Post, May 21, 2019
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/05/21/japan-english-speaking-world-call-him-abe-shinzo-not-shinzo-abe/

Ahead of a series of important international events in Japan, including a visit from President Trump this weekend, Japan’s foreign minister has said he will issued a request to foreign media: Call our prime minister Abe Shinzo, not Shinzo Abe.

“The new Reiwa era was ushered in, and we are hosting the Group of 20 summit. As many news organizations write Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, it is desirable for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s name to be written in a similar manner,” said foreign minister Taro Kono at a news conference Tuesday, according to the Mainichi Shimbun.

Or perhaps we should say, Kono Taro said that? Kono is the foreign minister’s family name, just as Abe is the Japanese prime minister’s family name. The Japanese diplomat says the family name should be first when referred to in English, as it is when it is written or spoken in Japanese.

Chinese and Korean names have their family names first in English — for example, in the cases of Xi and Moon, as Kono noted.

The convention for English-language transliterations of Japanese names, however, has long put the family name second. The custom is believed to date back to the 19th century, during a period when the Meiji dynasty reformed Japan’s complicated naming culture — and encouraged both foreigners and Japanese people themselves to write their family name second when writing in English, part of a broader attempt to conform to international standards.

But this system has long been used inconsistently. As far back as 1986, the government-funded Japan Foundation had decided to use the family-name-first format in its English-language publications and historical works or academic papers often did too.

In his remarks Tuesday, Kono referred to a 2000 report by the education ministry’s National Language Council that had recommended the use of the Japanese format. That report did not change things at the time, but as the foreign minister noted, it is now a new era.

The arrival of a new emperor has resulted in a new era, named “Reiwa” for two characters that symbolize auspiciousness and harmony. Japan is hosting a number of major events at the start of this period, including the G-20 summit of world leaders next month and the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Trump is arriving in Japan on Saturday for a state visit, where he will be the first foreign leader to meet with Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito. The U.S. leader has formed an unusually close bond to Abe — even referring to him as “Prime Minister Shinzo” in 2017.

It is unclear whether the U.S. government will conform to Kono’s request. It also remains unclear whether the entire Japanese government is behind the idea.

Last month, Kono told a parliamentary committee on diplomacy and defense that he writes his name in the Japanese order on his English-language business card, and that this issue should be discussed by the government as a whole.

But Japan Sports Agency Commissioner Daichi Suzuki has said the public should be consulted before the move.

“We should be deciding after spending some more time examining how discussions among the public are,” Suzuki said, according to the Mainichi Shimbun.
ENDS

=====================================
Japan Times article covering similar content (including some silly comments) at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/05/22/national/politics-diplomacy/foreign-minister-taro-kono-ask-media-switch-order-japanese-names/

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COMMENT FROM DEBITO:

  • Why does this debate matter?

Let’s start off by articulating the obvious: Names matter. And the public depiction of names is fundamental to any sense of identity.

There is no greater instant essence to a person’s public identity than a name. Both as a gift from others (e.g., “family name”) and as a name you can select for yourself (e.g., if you don’t like the first name you were given, you can even choose your own nickname and insist it catch on).

I know this personally because I have had several name changes in my life, both through adoption as child and naturalization into another society.  And through those experiences I’ve realized that names are something you should be allowed to control.

What name I had at whatever stage in my life profoundly shaped how I was treated by others — from being respected as a distinct human being (e.g., I get significantly more respect and cooperation from bureaucrats for having a kanji name than a katakana name), to being an object of mockery and even racialized scorn. (Enough online trolls had virtual hernias for my audacity to insist I be rendered as ARUDOU, Debito — because, how dare I?  What do I think I am, Japanese?!?)

Because you can’t please everybody (and when it’s a matter of your own name, you’re the only person you should have to please), choose the outcome you’re more comfortable with.  Which means:  if you don’t like to be called something, then demand something different. And hold fast to what you want, no matter what people say.

Case in point:  North Korea (for want of a better example) has done this successfully.  In contrast to how Japan renders Chinese leaders’ names (Deng Xiaoping is “Tou Shouhei” due to Japanized “Chinese readings” (on-yomi) of the Chinese kanji), Japan’s media and government officially calls Kim Il-Sung et al. “Kimu Iru-Son” in katakana as per Korean readings, not “Kin Nissei” as per on-yomi.  Because that is the rendering the DPRK demanded until it stuck.  Similarly, as Foreign Minister representing Japan, Kouno Taro is within his mandate to demand a Japanized rendering.

  • Now, does this order of names matter?

Yes. It goes beyond the confusion of not being to tell “Which name is the surname?” when names don’t match what other societies are accustomed to.

It’s a matter of being consistent.

Western media already renders Chinese and Korean names in the native order (Last name, then first, as in Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-Un). Eventually overseas readers adjusted.  They’ve even cottoned on to changes in rendering, regardless of order: Mao Zedong has also been called Mao Tse-tung, and the sky hasn’t fallen.

Moreover, there’s some responsibility on the part of the reader in the foreign language to adjust.  For example, when Westerners make gaffes (such as hayseed US Senator Jesse Helms repeatedly referring to Kim Jong-il as “Kim Jong The Second”), the fault generally falls on the uninformed commentator, not on the fact it was rendered in “East-Asian-style”.  It’s called becoming more informed about the outside world.

There’s another reason I’ve long supported the Japanese rendering of surname first in overseas media, and not only because it’s accurate.  (After all, Western academia has already long rendered Japanese names as surname first, because international studies by definition requires study.)  It’s also because the present system of surname last in overseas media is in fact built upon a flawed, racialized premise.

Think about it.  Why does Japan get different treatment from other Asian countries with the same system?

Because, as the WaPo article above alludes, the names were switched to “Western order” because of an artificial push (demanded, again, until it stuck) to make Japan appear more “Western”, an “Honorary White” status in Asia.  This was part of a larger historical pattern of Japan trying to present itself as non-Asian, pro-Western, and “modern”.  Even if subconsciously, Kouno Taro is trying to redress this misleading 19th-Century concept of “modernism by pandering to Western styles”.

Conversely, it’s also annoying to have to deal with the phenomenon of assuming “Western order” for “Western contexts”:  people in Japan assuming that “foreign names must also go in Western order in Japanese”, not to mention the “we must deal with foreigners on a first-hame basis” (calling somebody Jon-san instead of Sumisu-san — if you’re lucky enough to get even the damned –san attached).  Having this mixed-up system just encourages people to further alienate each other.

This brings me to something that further thickens the debate:

  • Caveats

The primary assumption behind all of this is mutual respect and reciprocity, i.e., “We’ll respect your styles if you respect ours.  However, as pointed out on Debito.org for many years, Japan has not been respectful of the rendering of foreign names within its own registry systems.

As long-time resident Kirk Masden in Kumamoto pointed out on Facebook:

===========================
https://www.facebook.com/Kumamotoi/photos/a.129499733790134/2639886286084787/?type=3&theater

Hi! Masden Kirk Steward here with some thoughts on the cultural integrity of names.

As you can see from the images of my Japanese IDs, the Japanese government has determined that the correct, official way to write our names is in Japanese order (family name followed by given names), without a comma to show a change in order. I have been told that I must “sign” my name in this order, in English, in order to complete a cell phone agreement. I protested but ultimately complied because I wanted the phone.

As you can imagine, I felt a bit irritated but had forgotten about the issue until I saw today’s news:

Kono to ask foreign media to switch order of Japanese names
https://japantoday.com/category/politics/foreign-minister-to-ask-media-to-switch-order-of-japanese-names

“As an example, Kono said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s name should be written as ‘Abe Shinzo,’ in line with other Asian leaders such as Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae In.”

As one who would like have the cultural integrity of my own name respected, I’m sympathetic to this position. OK, Mr. Kono, have it your way. But first, please do the following:

* Formally sign your request 太郎河野 in Japanese — the cultural equivalent of what Japanese policy has forced me to do
* Apologize, on behalf of the Japanese government, for not respecting the cultural integrity of non-Japanese names
* Make an adjustment to current practice

If for example, individuals could choose to place a comma after a family name on an ID, that would be an improvement in my view. Or, IDs could have separate boxes for “Family name” and “Given names”. It would also be nice to publish something on an official Japanese website about not forcing people to sign names in the order they appear on a Japanese ID.

Yours truly, Masden Kirk Steward — NOT!!!

P.S. One more point: The Japanese government forces us to opt in if we want our names written In Japanese. That may be OK but after going to the trouble of opting in once, I forgot to opt in again when I got my next card — even though the new card was a new version of the old card and I was required to submit the old one at the same time I submitted the new one. So, now I have no official indication of how to write my name in Japanese — which I had specifically requested earlier. 🙁 End of rant

P.P.S. I would just like cultural and linguistic integrity of non-Japanese names to get a little more respect and understanding. Pretty much the same thing that Kono is asking for. The gap between “This is Japan and we will mangle your names as we see fit” on the one hand and “Respect Japanese culture and present our names in the correct order” on the other bugs me.

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

DEBITO:  This is before, of course, we get to how names of children of international marriages get rendered, where the koseki has no extra slot for a middle name, meaning the first and last names can get mashed together into an unwieldy polyglot. As Facebook commenter ID pointed out:

===========================
ID: I’m with Kirk. When I went to register my daughter at the city office, they tried to tell me that her name couldn’t be Christine. She could be “Kurisuten” or “Kurisucheen”. He didn’t get long shrift… A friend of mine has a son whom they insisted was called “Ando-ryu”.

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

To which Kirk answered:

===========================
Masden Kirk Steward:  In my case, the disagreement was with the people who had the power to approve or disapprove how their names would be listed on their Japanese passports. With our son, whose name in English is Leon and 理恩 in Japanese, the spelling “Leon” was approved. Reason: They determine from looking at the names that “Leon” had come first and that “理恩” was ateji. With our daughter whose name in English is Mia and 美弥 in Japanese, the spelling “Mia” was not approved — it had to be Miya. Reason: They determined (in their infinite wisdom) that we had started 美弥 (a “real” Japanese name) and therefore a “deviant” spelling could not be approved — even though her U.S. passport is “Mia.” The best we could do was to get them to add “(Mia)” in parentheses.

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

DEBITO:  Ditto on my account.  I’ve had two passport renewals (and a Japan Times column) haggling over whether I could spell my own name Arudou or ArudoH (Hepburn Style, which MOFA, in their infinite wisdom, requires, even if that means names like Honma and Monma being spelled misleadingly as “Homma”and “Momma”).

So point taken.  Let’s have rendering conventions respect the original renderings of names as accurately as possible in the target language.  And let’s have some reciprocity when it comes to allowing individuals to control their identities through their names.

Opening the floor now to discussion…

David Christopher Schofill / Aldwinckle / Sugawara Arudoudebito / ARUDOU, Debito / Debito Arudou Ph.D.

Fox on getting interrogated at Sumitomo Prestia Bank in Kobe. Thanks to new FSA regulations that encourage even more racial profiling.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  My old friend Fox in Japan writes in with a tale of being, as he puts it, “interrogated” at the bank for trying to send $500 overseas while foreign.  And if you think the claim “while foreign” is a bit of an exaggeration, Debito.org has numerous records of racial profiling by Japanese banks for sending or receiving funds (or exchanging money) of even minuscule amounts (such as 500 yen).

New regulations, however, require a “risk-based approach” (which is, according to the Nikkei, recommended but not required), meaning the scale of “risk” depends on how much money the sender/receiver has in that bank.  Or as the Nikkei puts it, “Consider a customer with a direct payroll deposit of 300,000 yen ($2,660) a month who receives 200 million yen from an overseas bank. The government would require that the bank not only follow up confirming the identity of the person withdrawing the funds, but also check the deposit history and what the cash will be used for.”  Meaning that this is no longer a matter of transfer amount — i.e., a large transfer of 5,000,000 yen (later 2,000,000 yen) used to raise flags while smaller transfers didn’t.  (Japan’s FSA Guidelines of 2018 mention no money amount whatsoever.)

The problem now becomes, without an objective minimum transfer amount to be flagged, that any “foreigner” can be arbitrarily deemed “risky” at any time simply by dint.  It encourages racial profiling even further, in addition to what you already have at Japan’s hotels and other public accommodation, police instant ID checkpoints, and tax agencies.  (See here too).  More Embedded Racism.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

Interrogation at the Bank
By Fox in Japan, March 14, 2019

Dropped into Sumitomo Prestia in Kobe to send a telegraphic transfer to a friend in Africa. Completed the form two days ago, but the IBAN number was incorrect. Brought the corrected form in today. Under the category of “purpose,” I have written in “education fees.” The amount is $500. The following dialogue ensued. We are speaking in Japanese.

T= teller
M=me

T: So this if for “gakuhi” (tuition)?
M: Yes.
T: And who is the person receiving the transfer?
M: A friend.
T: Is this money for your own child’s education expenses?
M: No.
T: Who is it for?
M: My friend’s child.

The bank teller’s face becomes pained. This the stereotypical expression indicating that a request will be rejected. My blood slowly starts to boil.

T: Have you ever sent money to this person before?
M: Yes, during the days of Citibank.

(Note: Prestia took over Citibank some years ago).

T: Well, things have changed since then.

M: Is that right?

T: Hmm, so you are not sending this for your own child?
M: No.

T: Well, what is your relationship with this person.
M: He is a friend.

(More pained looks)

T: So, you are sending this to someone you know?

M: Yes, that’s what I just told you.

T: Is this a gift?
M: It might be.

T: Well, is it, or is it not?

M: What is the purpose of the question?

T: We have strict rules now about money being sent overseas.

M: Look, this is only $500, not five hundred man ($45,000). Listen. (My voice rises to crescendo, and the bank is extraordinarily quiet.) I was in your Osaka branch two days ago and they did not ask me any of these questions.

T: They didn’t?

M: No. I am not going to answer any more questions. Please call the branch manager!

A woman who has overheard this heated exchange conversation sneaks out of the office and the two begin to chat.

T: Please be seated.

The women exchange words and the original teller is on the phone.

Some ten minutes later, I am called back to the counter.

T: We just phoned the Osaka branch and they admit that they did not question the purpose of the transaction.

M: Is that right? (Ah soo desu ka)

T: The branch in Osaka said that you looked up some information on your computer when at the counter.

M: Uh-huh.

T: Well, we have very stringent rules now. If it is not for your own child, then….do you have an invoice “seikyusho” for the school expenses?

M: I certainly do not.

T: For your own children, sending money is OK, but for other’s children, it is …

M: Should I change the purpose to “living expenses then?”

(Note- I have frequently sent money overseas for this purpose-without any hassle.)

The teller looks bewildered.

T: Is it for living expenses, you said it was for educational expenses.

M: Yeah, that’s right.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In the end I succeeded and the money was sent.

I looked around at other customers in the bank, all Japanese, all of whom look very sunao. I wonder how they would react to the teller’s questions? Would they just say “shigata ga nai,” and walk away? And then forget that a bright young promising social science student in Malawi will soon be tossed out of college?

On the other hand, who knows if Japanese countrymen are even being interrogated like this? Has a directive been issued to hassle foreigners-all of whom are likely prone to money laundering?

But in fact, harassment it is. Financial transactions, both local and international, are regulated by strict laws. Not policies, but laws. My transaction was completed, and this means that it was perfectly legal. Apparently, Prestia has a policy of harassing customers (certainly foreign customers) who wish to send even even low amounts of money overseas.

Are all foreign clients of the bank potential money launderers? I urge all good people to stand up and question authority.  

Sincerely, Fox in Japan

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

The referenced Nikkei articles, for the record:

BANKING & FINANCE
Japan to strengthen money-laundering guidelines
Banks adopting a risk-based approach to flag suspicious actions
NIKKEI ASIAN REVIEW, DECEMBER 08, 2017
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Banking-Finance/Japan-to-strengthen-money-laundering-guidelines

TOKYO — Japan will issue new guidelines against money laundering in an effort to prevent funds from getting into the hands of terrorist and criminal organizations and to shake its reputation as weak on dirty money.

The Financial Services Agency is expected to announce the rules soon and implement them as early as January. Currently, Japan’s law preventing the transfer of criminal proceeds only says that suspicious transactions should be reported to authorities after the fact. Risk-based approaches are recommended but not required.

But the agency will now demand that financial institutions use a risk-based approach. Consider a customer with a direct payroll deposit of 300,000 yen ($2,660) a month who receives 200 million yen from an overseas bank. The government would require that the bank not only follow up confirming the identity of the person withdrawing the funds, but also check the deposit history and what the cash will be used for.

Although it is difficult to tell whether an account is related to criminal activity when first opened, this proactive approach identifies high-risk transactions early so that they can be continuously monitored.

The agency will verify that financial institutions are following the guidelines through questioning and on-site inspections. It will also order operational improvements to be made if it catches lax compliance that could invite money laundering.

The Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental body that combats money laundering, plans to examine Japan’s financial sector in 2019, the year before the Tokyo Olympics. Public and private institutions are cooperating to strengthen their prevention systems.
ENDS

////////////////////////////////////
ECONOMY
Japan’s FSA beefs up anti-money laundering measures
Financial regulator highlights steps taken ahead of visit by international watchdog
TAKERO MINAMI, Nikkei staff writer
NIKKEI ASIAN REVIEW, SEPTEMBER 28, 2018
https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Japan-s-FSA-beefs-up-anti-money-laundering-measures

TOKYO — The Financial Services Agency has made anti-money laundering measures a top priority in its annual policy report as it braces for inspections by an intergovernmental watchdog next spring.

The latest guidelines, which outline steps the regulator is taking over the next 12 months, highlight measures against money laundering and terrorism funding, including on-site inspections of financial institutions.

The Financial Action Task Force has previously criticized Japan for insufficient legal safeguards against money laundering. The government hopes to clean up its tarnished image, particularly as it will host the Group of 20 summit next year.

Financial authorities around the world are taking steps to prevent countries under United Nations sanctions, such as North Korea, from conducting prohibited transactions. Japan wants to avoid becoming a target for international criticism again.

The report urges financial institutions to take steps to halt money laundering, requiring them to identify and analyze the risks associated with certain types of transactions, such as the stated purpose of cross-border cash transfers, customer attributes and countries of origin or destination.

In February, the FSA issued anti-money laundering guidelines and directed smaller financial institutions such as regional banks and shinkin banks to conduct emergency inspections. To close the loopholes on overseas remittances, the policy requires institutions to come up with plans to train staff.

“Our inspections have shown that many financial institutions still fall short of requirements,” said an FSA official. “Stopgap measures will not be enough, and regional banks should put anti-money laundering measures at the top of their agenda,” said another senior FSA official.

Japan is not the only country to have run into problems over money laundering. Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest bank, faces allegations that its Estonian unit illegally remitted as much as $230 billion, forcing CEO Thomas Borgen to resign.
ENDS

=======================================
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Japan Times JBC 114 DIRECTOR’S CUT of “Top Ten for 2018” column, with links to sources

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Now that the clicks have died down on my latest Japan Times JBC column of January 28, 2019 (thanks for putting it in the Top Ten trending articles once again), what follows is the first final draft I submitted to the Japan Times for editing on December 29, 2018.  I blog this version because a lot of information is lost (inevitably) as we cut the word count from 2800 to 1600 words. (I generally put everything in the first final draft, then cut it down to fit the page; that way we don’t overlook anything and have to backtrack.)

People have been asking what got cut (and yes, the original version mentions Michael Woodford and Jeff Kingston), so the piece below is quite a bit different from what appeared in the Japan Times here (meaning it shouldn’t draw away any readers from the JT version; in fact, it will probably spur more views from readers wanting to compare). Also, having links to sources matter, so here it all is, including my regular acerbic tone.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

A TOP TEN FOR 2018
By Debito Arudou, Japan Times Just Be Cause Column 114
To be published January 3, 2019
DRAFT SIX: VERSION WITH LINKS TO SOURCES INCLUDED

Welcome to JBC’s annual countdown of human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan. Ranked in ascending order, these issues are bellwethers for how NJ in Japan may be treated in 2019 and beyond:

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

10) Fourth-Generation Japanese Brazilians snub new visa program

Last March, the Justice Ministry announced a new diaspora visa regime to attract back children of Brazilian-Japanese who had previously worked in Japan. The latter had been brought in from 1990 under a former preferential “Returnee Visa” regime, which essentially granted a form of permanent residency to NJ with Japanese bloodlines.

The Returnee program was so successful that by 2007, Brazilians had swelled to more than 300,000 residents, the third-largest NJ minority in Japan. Unfortunately, there was a big economic downturn in 2008. As Returnees lost their jobs, the government declined to assist them, even bribing them to “go home” (JBC Apr 7, 2009) and forfeit their visa, unemployment insurance, pensions, and other investments in Japan over a generation. They left in droves.

Fast forward ten years, and an unabashed government (facing a labor shortage exacerbated by the 2020 Olympics) now offers this reboot: Fourth-gen Nikkei, with sufficient Japanese language abilities, plus a secure job offer and family support already in Japan, can stay up to five years.

They expected a quota of 4000 workers would soon be filled. Except for one problem: This time they stayed away in droves. By the end of October, three months into the program, the Nikkei Shimbun reported there were exactly zero applicants.

So much for bloodlines. The word is out and the jig is up.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/03/30/national/preferential-visa-system-extended-foreign-fourth-generation-japanese/
Nikkei: http://www.debito.org/?p=15191
JBC Apr 7 2009 http://www.debito.org/?p=2930

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

9) Naomi Osaka’s victory at US Open Tennis.

Speaking of bloodlines, JBC wrote about American-Haitian-Japanese Naomi Osaka’s win last year (“Warning to Naomi Osaka: Playing for Japan can seriously shorten your career,” Sep. 19) as a cautionary tale for anyone representing this country as an international athlete. However, as far as the Top Ten goes, her victory matters because it inspires discussion on a fundamental question: “What is a Japanese?”

Japanese society relentlessly polices a narrative of purity of identity. That means that some Japanese citizens, despite spending their lives in Japan, often get shunted to the “half” category if they don’t “look Japanese,” or relegated to “returnee children” status because their dispositions don’t “fit in” with the putative norm due to living overseas. Uniformity is a virtue and a requirement for equal treatment here. The “nail sticking up” and all that, you know.

Yet what happens to Japanese citizens who spend most of their life overseas, even take foreign citizenships, and publicly grumble about how they wouldn’t have been successful if they’d remained in Japan (as some Nobel laureates with Japanese roots have)? They’d get hammered down, right?

Not if they win big internationally. Suddenly, they’re “Japanese” with few or any asterisks. It’s a common phenomenon in racialized societies: “They’ll claim us if we’re famous.”

Naomi Osaka won big. May she continue to do so. But let’s see if she can follow in the footsteps of other diverse Japanese chosen to represent Japan, such as former Miss Japan beauty queens Ariana Miyamoto and Priyanka Yoshikawa (who as “halfs” also spoke out against racial discrimination in Japan; alas, their impact was minimized because they didn’t win big internationally).

In any case, the more successful diverse Japanese who can highlight the fallacies of Japan’s pure-blood narrative, the better.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=15160
http://www.debito.org/?p=15156
http://www.debito.org/?p=15145

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

8) Zainichi Korean wins hate speech lawsuit on grounds of “racial discrimination”.

The wheels of justice turn slowly in Japan, but sometimes in the right direction. Ms. Lee Sin Hae, a “Zainichi Special Permanent Resident” generational foreigner, was frequently defamed in public hate rallies by Zaitokukai, an anti-Korean hate group. She sued them in 2014 for hate speech, racial discrimination, and gender discrimination. She won in the District Court in 2016, the High Court in 2017, and shortly afterwards in the Supreme Court when they declined to review the case.

Ms. Lee’s case stands as yet another example of how Japan’s new hate speech laws have legally-actionable consequences. Others similarly defamed can now cite Lee’s precedent and (mildly) punish offenders. It’s also another case of discrimination against Japan’s minorities being classified as “racial,” not “ethnic” etc.

This matters because Japan is the only major developed country without a national law criminalizing racial discrimination. And it has officially argued to the United Nations that racism doesn’t happen enough here to justify having one. Lee’s case defies that lie.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=14973 “Officially argued”: http://www.debito.org/japanvsun.html (For context, do a word search for the following paragraph: “We do not recognize that the present situation of Japan is one in which discriminative acts cannot be effectively restrained by the existing legal system and in which explicit racial discriminative acts, which cannot be restrained by measures other than legislation, are conducted. Therefore, penalization of these acts is not considered necessary.”)

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

7) Setagaya-ku passes Anti-Discrimination Ordinance specifically against racial discrimination etc.

On that note, movements at the local level against racial discrimination are afoot. Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, one of Japan’s first municipalities to recognize same-sex marriages, passed an ordinance last March that will protect (after a fashion) racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities from discrimination and hate speech.

I say “after a fashion” because it, as usual, has no punishments for offenders. The best it can do is investigate claims from aggrieved residents, inform the mayor, and offer official evidence for future lawsuits.

But it’s a positive step because 1) we’ve had city governments (such as Tsukuba in 2010, home of a major international university) go in exactly the opposite direction, passing alarmist resolutions against suffrage for NJ permanent residents; and 2) we had a prefectural government (Tottori) pass an anti-discrimination ordinance in 2005, only to have it unpass it mere weeks later due to bigoted backlash.

That didn’t happen this time in Setagaya-ku. The ordinance stands. Baby steps in the right direction.

Sources: http://www.kanaloco.jp/article/314740
http://www.city.setagaya.lg.jp/static/oshirase20170920/pdf/p02.pdf
http://www.city.setagaya.lg.jp/kurashi/101/167/321/d00158583_d/fil/tekisuto2.txt
http://www.debito.org/?p=14902
Tottori: http://www.debito.org/japantimes050206.html
Tsukuba: http://www.debito.org/?p=8459

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

6) Immigration Bureau to be upgraded into Immigration Agency.

Last August, the government said that to deal with the record influx of foreign tourists and workers (more below), more manpower would be needed to administrate them. So as of April this year, the Nyukyoku Kanri Kyoku (“Country-Entrant Management Bureau”) is scheduled to become the Nyukoku Zairyu Kanri Cho (“Country-Entering Residency Management Agency”), with an extra 500 staff and an expanded budget.

Critics may (rightly) deride this move as merely a measure to tighten control over NJ, as the “Immigration Bureau” was a mistranslation in the first place. Japan has no official “immigration” policy to help newcomers become permanent residents or citizens, and the Bureau’s main role, as an extension of Japan’s law enforcement, has been to police NJ, not assist them. (After all, according to the Justice Ministry, 125 NJ workers have died under work-related conditions since 2010; where was the Bureau to prevent this?)

However, the fact remains that if Japan will ever get serious about its looming demographic disaster (where an aging society with record-low birthrates is shrinking its taxpaying workforce to the point of insolvency), it has to deal with the issue of importing workers to fill perpetual labor shortages. It has to come up with an immigration policy to make foreigners into permanent residents and citizens.

The only way that will happen is if the government establishes an organization to do so. An upgrade from a Bureau to an Agency is one step away from becoming an actual Ministry, separate from the mere policing mandate of the Justice Ministry.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/08/28/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-set-immigration-agency-cope-influx-blue-collar-ranks-abroad-new-status/
http://www.debito.org/?p=15129
Agency name change: https://www.sankei.com/politics/news/180828/plt1808280006-n1.html
125 NJ workers died: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/12/13/national/justice-ministry-reveals-174-foreign-technical-interns-japan-died-2010-2017/

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

5) Govt. to further centralize surveillance system of NJ.

Now, to acknowledge the naysayers, last year the government gave more power to the Justice Ministry to track NJ, in an effort to stop “visa overstayers” and keep an eye on tourists and temporary workers. This is on top of the other measures this decade, including the remotely-readable RFID-chipped Gaijin Card in 2012, proposing using NJ fingerprinting as currency in 2016 (in order to “enable the government to analyze the spending habits and patterns of foreign tourists;” yeah, sure), and facial recognition devices specifically targeting “foreigners” at the border from 2014.

This is the negative side of inviting NJ to visit as tourists or stay awhile as workers: Japan’s police forces get antsy about a perceived lack of control, and get increased budgets to curtail civil liberties.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/18/national/counter-illegal-overstayers-government-plans-system-centrally-manage-information-foreign-residents/
RFID: http://www.debito.org/?p=10750
Fingerprinting: http://www.debito.org/?p=13926
Facial recognition: http://www.debito.org/?p=12306 and http://www.debito.org/?p=14539

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

On the positive side, however:

4) Tourism to Japan reaches record 30 million in 2018.

Admittedly, when the government launched its “Visit Japan” campaign in 2010, and cheerily projected a huge expansion of NJ tourism from single-digit millions to double- a decade ago, JBC was skeptical. Government surveys in 2008 indicated that 70% of hotels that had never had NJ guests didn’t want them anyway. And of the 400+ “Japanese Only” places I surveyed for my doctoral fieldwork, the vast majority were hotels—some even encouraged by government organs to refuse NJ entry (JBC, “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry,” Jul 6, 2010)!

Times change, and now NJ tourism (mostly from Asia, chiefly China, South Korea, and Taiwan) has become a major economic driver. Local and national business sectors once pessimistic about the future are flush with cash. And by the 2020 Olympics, the tourist influx is projected to skyrocket to 40 million.

Naturally, this much flux has occasioned grumbling and ill-considered quick-fixes. We’ve had media gripes about Chinese spending and littering habits, a “Chinese Only” hotel in Sapporo, separate “foreigner” taxi stands at JR Kyoto Station (enforced by busybodies disregarding NJ language abilities), and even a “Japanese Only” tourist information booth in JR Beppu Station.

The worst fallout, however, is the new “Minpaku Law” passed last June. It adds bureaucratic layers to Airbnb home-sharing, and shores up the already stretched-thin hotel industry’s power over accommodation alternatives.

The government also resorted to coded xenophobia to promote the law. Citing “security” and “noise concerns,” Tokyo’s Chuo Ward indicated that letting “strangers” into apartments could be “unsafe.” Shibuya Ward only permitted Minpaku during school holidays, so “children won’t meet strangers” on the way to school. Not to be outdone, NHK Radio implied that ISIS terrorists might use home lodging as a base for terrorist attacks.

It’s one thing to be ungrateful for all the tourist money. It’s quite another to treat visitors as a threat after inviting them over. If not handled properly, the influx from the 2020 Olympics has the potential to empower Japan’s knee-jerk xenophobes even further.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/12/18/national/japan-marks-new-record-foreign-visitors-top-30-million-2018/
2008 hotel survey: http://www.debito.org/?p=12306
“Visit Japan” and “new economic driver” stats: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/08/25/reference/tourism-emerges-new-economic-driver-japan/
Exclusionary hotels encouraged by govt. organs: http://www.debito.org/?p=1941 and JBC http://www.debito.org/?p=7145
Tourism Stats: https://www.tourism.jp/en/tourism-database/stats/inbound/#annual
Grumbling about tourist manners: http://www.debito.org/?s=Chinese+tourist and http://www.debito.org/?p=2301
Chinese Only hotel: http://www.debito.org/?p=6864
Beppu: http://www.debito.org/?p=14954
Minpaku xenophobia and ISIS: http://www.debito.org/?p=15051

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

3) Japan Times changes wording on controversial historical terms and topics.

Previously, JBC (July 6, 2015) noted how the Fuji-Sankei acquisition of news outlet Japan Today had shifted the English-language media landscape rightward politically, with articles becoming more assiduous in pointing out NJ misbehavior, yet muted in their criticism of Japan.

This was after the English-language arms of Japan’s major newspapers, including the Daily Yomiuri (now The Japan News), the Daily Mainichi, and the Asahi Evening News, had relegated their foreign staff away from investigative journalism into mere translation duties. Not to mention the chair of NHK, Katsuto Momii, stated publicly in 2016 that his TV network would not report on contentious subjects until the government has “an official stance” (effectively making NHK a government mouthpiece).

These “contentious subjects” included portrayals of historical events, like NJ forced into labor for wartime Japanese companies, and “Comfort Women” forced sexual services under Japanese military occupation.

Back then, JBC concluded that the JT is “the only sustainable venue left with investigative NJ journalists, NJ editors and independently-thinking Japanese writers, bravely critiquing current government policy without fretting about patriotism or positively promoting Japan’s image abroad.”

But last November, the JT, under new ownership since 2017, came out with a new editorial stance.

Stating that “Comfort Women” (already a direct translation of the official euphemism of ianfu) was potentially misleading, because their experiences “in different areas throughout the course of the war varied widely,” the JT would henceforth “refer to ‘comfort women’ as ‘women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers’”. Likewise with the term “forced laborers,” which would now be rendered as “wartime laborers” because of varying recruiting patterns.

Aside from journalistic concerns about rendering these wordy terms in concise articles, it wasn’t hard for media pundits to portray this as a response to government pressure, already seen on Japanese media and overseas world history textbooks, to portray Japan’s past in a more exculpatory light. And with at least one government-critical columnist (Jeff Kingston) no longer writing for us, JBC now wonders if the JT remains the last one standing.

Sources: Govt. pressure on Japanese media: https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/05/27/the-silencing-of-japans-free-press-shinzo-abe-media/ and plenty more.
Govt. pressure on overseas history textbooks: http://www.debito.org/?s=history+textbook

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

2) Carlos Ghosn’s arrest.

The former CEO of Nissan and Mitsubishi motors (but remaining as CEO at Renault), Ghosn was arrested last November and indicted in December for inter alia allegedly underreporting his income for tax purposes. As of this writing, he remains in police custody for the 23-day cycles of interrogations and re-arrests, until he confesses to a crime.

This event has been well-reported elsewhere, so let’s focus on the JBC issues: Ghosn’s arrest shows how far you can fall if you’re foreign. Especially if you’re foreign.

One red flag was that the only two people arrested in this fiasco have been foreign: Ghosn and his associate, Greg Kelly. Kelly is now out on bail due to health concerns. But where are the others doing similar malfeasances? According to Reuters, Kobe Steel underreported income in 2008, 2011, and 2013, and committed data fraud for “nearly five decades.” Same with Toray and Ube Industries, Olympus, Takata, Mitsubishi Materials, Nissan, and Subaru.

Who’s been arrested? Nobody but those two foreigners.

And Japan’s judicial system has a separate track for NJ suspects, including harsher jurisprudence for NJs accused of crimes, lax jurisprudence for NJ victims of crimes, uneven language translation services, general denial of bail for NJ, an extra incarceration system for subsequent visa violations while in jail, and incarceration rates for NJs four times that for citizens. (See my book Embedded Racism, Ch. 6.)

Most indicative of separate and unequal treatment is that some of the accusations, which fall under a statute of limitations of seven years under the Companies Act, are still applicable. Prosecutors have argued that statutes do not apply to Ghosn because he spent time overseas. Apparently even the passage of time is different for foreigners, because the clock stops if they ever leave Japan!

It’s JBC’s view that this is a boardroom coup. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Ghosn was planning to oust a rival, Hiroto Saikawa, who has since taken Ghosn’s place as CEO. A similar thing happened to at Olympus in 2011, when CEO Michael Woodford broke ranks and came clean on boardroom grift. He was fired for not understanding “Japanese culture,” since that’s the easiest thing to pin on any foreigner.

But in Woodford’s case, he was fired, not arrested and subjected to Japan’s peculiar system of “hostage justice” police detention, where detainees are denied access to basic amenities (including sleep or lawyers) for weeks at a time, and interrogated until they crack and confess, with more than 99.9% conviction rates.

The good news is that finally overseas media is waking up to what Japan’s Federation of Bar Associations and the UN Committee Against Torture have respectively called “a breeding ground for false charges” and “tantamount to torture.” Funny thing is, if this had happened in China, we’d have had howls much sooner about the gross violations of Ghosn’s human rights.

Sources: Kelly health concerns: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/12/26/business/corporate-business/greg-kelly-close-aide-carlos-ghosn-denies-allegations-release-bail/
Kobe Steel Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-kobe-steel-scandal-ceo/kobe-steel-admits-data-fraud-went-on-nearly-five-decades-ceo-to-quit-idUSKBN1GH2SM
Ghosn planned to replace CEO Saikawa https://www.wsj.com/articles/carlos-ghosn-planned-to-replace-nissan-ceo-before-his-arrest-1544348502
Olympus and Takata other issues https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-12-06/carlos-ghosn-s-arrest-and-the-backlash-to-japan-nissan
Statute of limitations does not apply. “Japan’s Companies Act has a statute of limitations of seven years. Prosecutors argue this does not apply due to the amount of time Ghosn has spent outside the country.”
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Nissan-s-Ghosn-crisis/Ghosn-rearrested-for-alleged-aggravated-breach-of-trust
Woodford Olympus: http://www.debito.org/?p=9576
World waking up: https://www.standard.co.uk/business/jim-armitage-carlos-ghosn-treatment-shines-harsh-light-on-justice-in-japan-a3998291.html
JFBA: https://www.nichibenren.or.jp/library/en/document/data/daiyo_kangoku.pdf
Tantamount to torture: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=2ahUKEwjW_7Pcp8XfAhV1GDQIHcSIDTEQFjAAegQICRAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdocstore.ohchr.org%2FSelfServices%2FFilesHandler.ashx%3Fenc%3D6QkG1d%252FPPRiCAqhKb7yhsmoIqL9rS46HZROnmdQS5bNEx%252FmMJfuTuMXK%252BwvAEjf9L%252FVjLz4qKQaJzXzwO5L9HgK1Q6dtH8fP8MDfu52LvR5McDW%252FSsgyo8lMOU8RgptX&usg=AOvVaw22H5dQMWcKYHizy8NNIuqY
Other irregularities noted in the JT by Glen Fukushima: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2018/12/20/commentary/japan-commentary/seven-questions-ghosn-nissan/

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

1) New immigration visa regime to expand nonskilled labor in Japan.

The event with the largest potential for impact on NJ residents in Japan would have to be the government’s passing of a new visa regime to officially allow unskilled workers (a departure from decades of policy) to make up for labor shortfalls in targeted industries, including nursing, food service, construction and maintenance, agriculture, and hotels.

It would allow people to stay for longer (up to five years), and even beyond that, if they qualify with secure job offers and language abilities, to the point of permanent residency. In theory, at least.

Disclaimers have been typical: Officials have denied that this is an “immigration policy,” sluicing off concerns that Japan will be overrun and undermined by hordes of NJ.

But this new visa regime matters because the government is clearly taking the inevitable measures to shore up its labor force against the abovementioned demographic crisis. To the tune of about 345,000 new workers. It’s an official step towards what we are seeing already in certain industries (like convenience stores in big cities), where NJ workers are no longer unusual.

Yes, the government may at any time decide to do a housecleaning by revoking these visas whenever NJ might reach a critical mass (as happened many times in the past). And it also has insufficiently addressed longstanding and widespread labor abuses in its Technical Trainee and Interns market. But the fact remains that bringing in proportionally more NJ, as the Japanese population shrinks, will make them less anomalous.

One way that minorities make themselves less threatening to a society is by normalizing themselves. Making people see NJ as co-workers, indispensable helpers, neighbors, maybe even friends. The cynical side of JBC thinks this is unlikely to happen. But it’s not going to happen without numbers, and that’s what this new visa regime is encouraging.

As evidence of change, the rigorous Pew Research Center last year surveyed several countries between about their attitudes towards international migration. One question, “In your opinion, should we allow more immigrants to move to our country, fewer immigrants, or about the same as we do now?” had positive responses from Japan that were the highest of any country surveyed—81% saying “more” or “the same.”

I was incredulous, especially since the word “immigration” (imin) has been a taboo term in Japan’s policy circles (JBC Nov 3, 2009). So I contacted Pew directly to ask how the question was rendered in Japanese. Sure enough, the question included “imin no suu” (immigration numbers).

This is something I had never seen before. And as such, changing policies as well as changing attitudes may result in sea changes towards NJ residents within our lifetimes.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/02/national/major-policy-shift-japan-oks-bill-let-foreign-manual-workers-stay-permanently/
345,000: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/14/national/politics-diplomacy/345000-foreign-workers-predicted-come-japan-new-visas-government/
Pew: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/12/10/many-worldwide-oppose-more-migration-both-into-and-out-of-their-countries/#more-309372 and https://www.axios.com/newsletters/axios-am-aca76f69-2982-4b0e-a36c-512c21841dc2.html?chunk=4&utm_term=emshare#story4
JBC Nov 3: http://www.debito.org/?p=4944
See also forwarded email from Pew below.

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

Bubbling under: Registered Foreign Residents reach new postwar record of 2.5 million. Alarmist government probe into “foreigner fraud” of Japan’s Health Insurance system reveals no wrongdoing (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/09/12/national/probe-abuse-health-insurance-foreigners-japan-stirs-claims-prejudice/). Fake rumors about NJ criminal behavior during Osaka quake officially dispelled by government (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/19/national/different-disaster-story-osaka-quake-prompts-online-hate-speech-targeting-foreigners/).
Former British Ambassador and Japan Times columnist Sir Hugh Cortazzi dies.
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2018/08/23/commentary/japan-commentary/bidding-sir-hugh-cortazzi-farewell/

ENDS

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

Source on Pew Question in original Japanese. Forwarding email exchange from Pew Research Center itself:

Begin forwarded message:

From: Pew Research Center <info@pewresearch.org>
Subject: RE: Question about your recent Global Attitudes survey
Date: December 11, 2018
To: ” Debito A”

Hi Debito,

Thank you for reaching out. The original Japanese text is below:

Q52 In your opinion, should we allow more immigrants to move to our country, fewer immigrants, or about the same as we do now? Q52 日本に受け入れる移民の数を増やすべき、移民の数を減らすべき、または現状を維持すべき、のどれだと思われますか?

1 More 1.増やすべき
2 Fewer 2.減らすべき
3 About the same 3.現状を維持すべき
4 No immigrants at all (DO NOT READ) 4. 移民はまったくいない(読み上げない)
8 Don’t know (DO NOT READ) 8.わからない(読み上げない)
9 Refused (DO NOT READ) 9. 回答拒否(読み上げない)

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Best, [HT], Pew Research Center

ENDS

=================================
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“Nippon Claimed” multiethnic tennis star Osaka Naomi gets “whitewashed” by her sponsor. Without consulting her. Compare with singer Crystal Kay.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Multiethnic tennis star Osaka Naomi, whom we’ve talked about on Debito.org before in the context of Japan’s “Nippon Claiming” (where a mudblood is “claimed” to be a “Japanese”, full stop, as long as she’s at the top of her game; otherwise her mixed-ethnicity becomes a millstone), has now been claimed to the point of “whitewashing”. Yes, her Haitian-American heritage has been washed away in the Japanese media. By one of her main sponsors, no less.  And they did it without clearing it with her first.

Witness these articles, sent in by many people (h/t to JK in particular):

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

Ad Showing Naomi Osaka With Light Skin Prompts Backlash and an Apology
The New York Times, Jan 22, 2019
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/22/world/asia/naomi-osaka-anime-ad.html?smtyp=cur&smid=tw-nytimesworld

Naomi Osaka, the half-Haitian, half-Japanese tennis champion, is the star of a new Japanese anime-style advertisement.

The problem? The cartoon Ms. Osaka bears little resemblance to her real, biracial self.

Her skin was unmistakably lightened, and her hair style changed — a depiction that has prompted criticism in Japan, where she has challenged a longstanding sense of cultural and racial homogeneity.

The ad — unveiled this month by Nissin, one of the world’s largest instant-noodle brands — features Ms. Osaka and Kei Nishikori, Japan’s top-ranked male tennis player, in a cartoon drawn by Takeshi Konomi, a well-known manga artist whose series “The Prince of Tennis” is popular in Japan.

Mr. Konomi and Ms. Osaka, who faces Elina Svitolina in an Australian Open quarterfinal match on Wednesday, have not publicly commented on the reactions to the ad.

But a Nissin spokesman apologized in an email on Tuesday for “the confusion and discomfort.”

The spokesman, Daisuke Okabayashi, said that the characters had been developed in line with Mr. Konomi’s anime series and that the company had communicated with Ms. Osaka’s representatives.

“There is no intention of whitewashing,” he said. “We accept that we are not sensitive enough and will pay more attention to diversity issue in the future.”

After the ad was first published online, people on social media, including many fans of Ms. Osaka’s, said they were deeply disappointed.

Baye McNeil, an author who has lived in Japan for 15 years, said he didn’t understand why the ad would “erase her black features and project this image of pretty much the prototypical anime girl-next-door character.”

Ms. Osaka’s rise into a beloved national figure has been particularly exciting for biracial people in Japan, known as hafus, who have long battled for acceptance, he said.

“Making her look white just tells these people that what they are isn’t good enough,” Mr. McNeil said.
Ms. Osaka was born in Japan to a Haitian-American father and a Japanese mother, and moved to the United States when she was 3. Although she isn’t fluent in Japanese, often responding to questions from Japanese reporters in English, she has tweeted about her love of manga and Japanese movies.

Ranked fourth in the world at just 21, she’s already among Japan’s most accomplished tennis players ever. She became the first Japanese-born tennis player to win a Grand Slam singles championship in September when she defeated Serena Williams in the U.S. Open, a victory that supercharged her celebrity ascent.

That win prompted a cartoon in an Australian newspaper that was criticized for its depiction of Ms. Williams, which many saw as a racist caricature. While most of the condemnation focused on how the Australian cartoonist drew Ms. Williams, critics also noted that Ms. Osaka was depicted with blond hair and light skin.

Black characters aren’t frequently found in anime, but artists in the medium have successfully depicted their skin tones before.

“When there is a black character, it’s clearly a black character,” Mr. McNeil said.

The discussion of biracial identity in Japan got a boost in 2015 when Ariana Miyamoto, who is half-Japanese, half-African-American, won the Miss Universe Japan pageant. She used her fame to discuss the plight of “hafus,” but some in Japan were unwilling to accept her as a model of Japanese beauty.

In interviews, Ms. Osaka has embraced her multicultural background.

“Maybe it’s because they can’t really pinpoint what I am,” she said in 2016, “so it’s like anybody can cheer for me.”

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

Baye, mentioned above, commented as follows:

/////////////////////////////////////////////
Someone lost their noodle making this new Nissin ad featuring Naomi Osaka
BY BAYE MCNEIL
The Japan Times, JAN 19, 2019

This month, cup noodle maker Nissin served up its animated “Hungry to win” ad campaign, drawn by “Prince of Tennis” artist Takeshi Konomi and featuring actual tennis prince Kei Nishikori and our newest bona fide global star, Naomi Osaka.

I’d been anticipating Osaka’s appearance since it isn’t often that a high-profile woman of color is featured in a major Japanese ad campaign. So when I cued it up on YouTube I was truly disappointed to see that there was no woman of color to speak of in the commercial. Instead, I found a white-washed representation of Osaka that could’ve easily been based off a TV personality like Becky or Rola. Everything that distinguishes Osaka from your typical Japanese anime character was gone, and what was left? Your typical Japanese anime character.

Come on, Nissin. Was this a business decision? Did you have concerns that your customers might be forced to uncomfortably ponder issues of race or ethnicity while slurping down a bowl of U.F.O. Yakisoba?

Sure, anime fans aren’t used to seeing women of color in the genre so … a few shades lighter on the skin here … a debroadening of the nose there … the de-exoticization of her hair … and, voila! The perfectly palatable girl next door. Not for this fan, though. Osaka’s de-blackening is as problematic to me as a Bobby Riggs tirade against female tennis players…

Rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2019/01/19/our-lives/someone-lost-noodle-making-new-nissin-ad-featuring-naomi-osaka/

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

Nissin apologizes for skin color of Osaka in ad
The Japan News/Jiji Press January 23, 2019
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005497740

NEW YORK (Jiji Press) — Nissin Food Products Co. has apologized in an email for depicting the skin color of tennis player Naomi Osaka in an anime-style advertisement as lighter than her actual pigmentation, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The online edition of the U.S. newspaper said that the ad depicting Osaka, born to a Haitian-American father and a Japanese mother, has been criticized in Japan for whitewashing.

“We accept that we are not sensitive enough,” a spokesman for the Nissin Foods Holdings Co. unit was quoted as saying.

The Osaka character used in the anime ad for the company’s Cup Noodles was designed by manga artist Takeshi Konomi, known for his comic series “The Prince of Tennis.”

The ad also features Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori, who, like Osaka, is sponsored by Nissin.

The New York Times reported that the Osaka figure depicted in the ad “bears little resemblance to her real, biracial self,” adding, “Her skin was unmistakably lightened.”
ENDS

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

Sponsor of Naomi Osaka retracts ad videos over skin color dispute
January 24, 2019 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190124/p2g/00m/0bu/009000c

TOKYO (Kyodo) — A Japanese food company which is a sponsor of 2018 U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka removed video advertisements from YouTube on Wednesday following a dispute over the skin color of a character featuring the tennis star.

Nissin Foods Holdings Co. created two pieces of animated video aimed at promoting its signature product Cup Noodle featuring characters of Osaka as well as Kei Nishikori, another Japanese tennis player the Tokyo company supports.

But Nissin chose to stop running them at the request of Osaka’s management agency in the United States following controversy in which some questioned Nissin’s creations, saying the color of Osaka’s character was lightened.

Nissin denied it had intended to make the skin color white and apologized for having caused confusion.

“We will be more mindful of the issue of diversity,” an official of the company said.

The dispute emerged as Osaka, a U.S.-based 21-year-old athlete whose father is Haitian and mother is Japanese, advanced to the semifinals of the Australian Open.

According to the official, Nissin consulted with the Japanese arm of Osaka’s agency in making the anime pieces but failed to communicate properly with its U.S. parent.
ENDS

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

COMMENT:  And, as the Guardian reported from an interview with Osaka:

Osaka:  “I don’t think they did it on purpose to be, like, whitewashing or anything, but I definitely think that the next time they try to portray me or something, I feel like they should talk to me about it.”

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

Not on purpose?  Really?  This was what I was alluding to back in my Japan Times column on this last year:

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

It is a well-established phenomenon that Japanese children overseas, if absent from Japanese primary or secondary schooling for even a short time, can face ethnic and cultural displacement when they return. There’s even a special word — kikoku-shijo — for “repatriated children.” And this crisis of identity happens even to native Japanese speakers.

Osaka is not. Nikkan Sports on Sept. 10 reported her language abilities to be what I call “kitchen Japanese,” i.e., “somewhat able to audibly understand, but speaking is not her thing” (nigate). Yes, the media has dutifully noted her love for Japanese anime, manga, unagi (eel) and sushi. But “liking things” does not make up for lacking an important skill set.

Even with a Japanese mother, without standalone abilities to communicate and control her own fate, Osaka will expend a lot of energy navigating adult Japanese society, with all of its tripwires of courtesy and protocol.

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

So, the Nissin ad is the first clear tripwire — she didn’t even get consulted on her own image.  And she got Whitewashed like a number of other celebrities in Japan of mixed heritage who can’t be accepted as “Japanese” unless they “look like Japanese”.

Consider what happened to singer Crystal Kay (who is Afro-Zainichi Korean, but it’s the same phenomenon).  Excerpted from a chapter I wrote for book The Melanin Millennium (2013):

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

A more subtle example of the marketing of skin color can be witnessed in the evolution of Japanese pop idol Crystal Kay (1986- ).  The child of an African-American military serviceman and a Japan special permanent resident (zainichi) South Korean mother, Kay was raised as an English-Japanese bilingual in Japan (Poole 2009).  Beginning her career from age thirteen, Kay as of this writing has released nine studio albums, with an appreciable lightening of her skin on her album covers as her popularity in Japan increased.  A sample from earliest to latest:

C.L.L. Crystal Lover Light (2000), her debut album.

Almost Seventeen (2002)

4Real (2003)

Natural (2003), despite the similarities, is a separate album from 4Realwith different tracks, remixes, and English covers.

Call me Miss… (2006)

All Yours (2007)

Color Change! (2008)

Spin the Music (2010)

Best of Crystal Kay (2009)

ONE (Single, from Color Change!, alternative Pokemon edition) (2008)

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

So, you think Ms. Osaka is going to be immune from this Whitewashing?  She already isn’t.  If she’s not happy about this sort of thing, she’s going to have to take active measures to prevent it.  Or not.  But the default visual standard of “Japaneseness” is already out there.  And it’s not (yet) her skin color.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That prompted a Cuban complaint.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

============================
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Trevor Noah controversy on French World Cup team: “Africa won the World Cup”. Debito.org disagrees with French Ambassador’s protest letter.

mytest

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Hi Blog. A recent storm in a teacup that happens to be germane to Debito.org is a recent “Behind the Scenes” vlog starring Trevor Noah, where he talks to his audience between takes of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”.

In a previous segment, he pointed out how the diverse French Soccer Team won the 2018 World Cup, what with a significant number of their players being of African origin.  But he summarized it as a joke:  “Africa won the World Cup!”  “Africa won the World Cup!”

This occasioned a letter of protest from Gerard Araud, Ambassador of France to the U.S., which Trevor read out to his studio audience. Here is the segment, followed by my commentary:

If you cannot watch the segment, it runs as follows:  First, Noah read the text of Araud’s letter (with a French accent, which was a bit corny, but that’s one of the licenses of a comedy show):

SIR– I watched with great attention your July 17 show when you spoke of the victory of the French team at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Final which took place last Sunday. I heard your words about an “African” victory. Nothing could be less true.

(Interjected Noah: “I could have said they were Scandinavian. That would have been less true.”)

As many of the players have already stated themselves, their parents may have come from another country, but the great majority of them, all but two out of 23 were born in France. They were educated in France. They learned to play soccer in France. They are French citizens. They’re proud of their country, France. The rich and various backgrounds of these players are a reflection of France’s diversity.

(Interjected Noah: “I’m not trying to be an asshole, but I think it’s more a reflection of France’s colonialism.”)

France is indeed a cosmopolitan country. But every citizen is part of the French identity. Together they belong to the nation of France. Unlike in the United States of America, France does not refer to its citizens based on their race, religion, or origin. To us, there is no hyphenated identity. Roots are an individual reality. By calling them an African team, it seems like you’re denying their French-ness. This, even in jest, legitimizes the ideology which claims whiteness is the only definition of being French.”

There is one more paragraph to the letter, but that’s as far as Noah read.  Noah acknowledged how having dual identities is used against people to “other” them from other French. “In France, a lot of Nazis in that country use the fact that these players are of African descent to shit on their French-ness. They say, ‘You’re not French. You’re African. Go back to where you came from.’ They use that as a line of attack.”

But then he counterargued: “My opinion is, coming from South Africa, coming from Africa, and even watching the World Cup in the United States of America, black people all over the world were celebrating the African-ness of the French players. Not in a negative way, but in a positive way. They look at this Africans who CAN become French. It’s a celebration of that achievement.

“Now this is what I find weird in these arguments, when people say, ‘They’re not African. They’re French.’ And I’m like, ‘Why can’t they be both?’ Why is that duality only afforded a select group of people? Why can’t they not be African? What they’re arguing here is, ‘In order to be French, you have to erase everything that is African…?” So what are they saying when they say, ‘our culture’? So you cannot be French and African at the same time, which I vehemently disagree with… I love how African they are, and how French they are. I don’t take their French-ness away, but I also don’t think you have to take their their African-ness away.”

He concluded, “And that is what I love about America. America is not a perfect country, but what I love about this place is that people can still celebrate their identity in their American-ness. You can go to a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in America, celebrating that you are Irish. You can go to a Puerto Rican Day Parade in American and celebrate the fact that you are Puerto Rican and American at the same time. You can celebrate Juneteenth as a Black person and still go, ‘Yo, I’m AFRICAN-American,’ which is the duality of the two worlds.”

Noah cited the case of Mamoudou Gassama, a Malinese immigrant to France, who famously scaled a building to save a child that was dangling from a balcony, and used it to demonstrate how far immigrants have to go to “become French”. Gassama got to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, got French citizenship and a job.  Noah highlighted this dynamic in his own version of  the phenomenon of “They’ll claim us if we’re famous:”  “When they are unemployed, when they may commit a crime or when they are considered unsavory it’s the ‘African immigrant’. When their children go on to provide a World Cup victory for France, we should only refer to them as ‘France.’”

Noah reiterated that he will nonetheless celebrate his claim that “Africans” won the World Cup. “So, I will continue to praise them for being African because I believe that they are of Africa, their parents are from Africa and they can be French at the same time.  And if French people are saying they can’t be both, then I think that they have a problem and not me.”

@GeraldAraud responded on Twitter:

End of the argument with @Trevornoah He didn’t refer to a double identity. He said »they are African. They couldn’t get this suntan in the south of France ». i.e They can’t be French because they are black. The argument of the white supremacist. 6:02 AM – Jul 19, 2018

Which, as The Atlantic commented: “is a misreading of Noah’s argument, and of his original joke. It also cuts to the core of one of the biggest questions in Europe today: Who is allowed to define national identity — the state, or the citizens?”

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

COMMENT: Debito.org’s take on this is probably not hard to guess. We agree with Noah’s argument that hyphenated identities can, should, and in fact must exist.  Because a) hyphenated identities are a reality (people are diverse, and they shouldn’t have to suppress them for national goals of putative homogeneity); b) they are a personal choice, to include as one’s self-determined identity, and not the business of The State to police; and c) the alternative incurs too many abuses.

Here’s what I mean:  Legal statuses (such as French citizenship) are supposed to be something that one can earn unarbitrarily (i.e., with qualifications that apply to all applicants), and afterwards are enforced in a way that does not require one to subsume or sacrifice one’s identity in perpetuity as a “citizen-with-an-asterisk”, forever currying favor with a society’s dominant majority.  That is to say, currying favor with people who aren’t diverse themselves, and who often abuse identity politics to criticize diverse people as not being, say, “French” etc. enough.  A lack of hyphenation becomes a power game, and the immigrant who has to “hide” something is at a perpetual disadvantage, as a permanent part of her or him is effectively perceived as a negative thing.

This is something I have studied in other societies that do not accept hyphenated identities (such as Japan, where I am a naturalized citizen myself, and often accused of “not being Japanese enough” if I do anything that causes disagreement or debate — even though I am behaving just like some other “Japanese” would in the same situation). And it leads to the deracinated person expending a lifetime of energy dealing with microaggressions, and trying to please unempathetic others who never had to question, self-determine, or fight for their own identities. All of that is outlined in my book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination“. (More here.)

Returning to this debate:  The abovementioned Atlantic article gives the French side of this issue I think quite well (i.e., how it is “an affront to the French ideal that all citizens are equal in the eyes of the state”), for there will always be a tension within national goals for assimilating outsiders (melting pot? salad bowl? mosaic? kaleidoscope? or no immigration policy at all, as in Japan’s case?).

But I salute Trevor Noah for dealing with this issue in a thoughtful and measured manner, and for coming out on the side that, in the long run, works out much better for all involved. Dr. Debito Arudou

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

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

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. We had an important Supreme Court ruling come down earlier this month, where an international custody dispute between two Japanese divorcees living in different countries resulted in the custodial parent overseas being awarded custody of the child, as per the Hague Convention on International Child Abductions. (See Japan Times article excerpt below.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

Here are the opening paragraphs:

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

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justice Ministry statistics showed that the number of Japanese who renounced their Japanese nationality after selecting a foreign citizenship or for other reasons ranged from 700 to 1,000 annually between 2012 and 2016.
========================
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Wash Post: “NBC apologizes to Koreans for Olympics coverage praising Japan’s brutal occupation”, rightly so

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. PyeongChang.  It’s Olympics time again, and, as long-time readers know, I’m a fan of the athleticism but not the nationalism (and inevitable comparisons of strengths and weaknesses along national lines) that is endemic to bordered sports. Too many people compete for glory as representatives of whole societies, not for individual bests, and that particularly takes a toll on Japan’s athletes.

I’ve been a relentless critic of Japan’s sports commentary, but now that I’m watching it in the US, fair game. I was quite incandescent with rage at times listening to NBC’s stupid, overgeneralizing, and often borderline racist commentary of the Opening Ceremonies. (One of the most annoying was when Katie Couric noted how internet addiction is allegedly a problem in South Korea, and used it as a segue into a shameless plug of her upcoming show on internet addiction in America; and this relates to the Olympics how!?)

Fortunately, I was not alone, and Korea protested not only the overgeneralizations, but also the ahistorical comments that were ill-considered. Fortunately, NBC apologized (and told the press that the offending commentator’s “assignment is over”), which is better than I’ve ever seen NHK do for its nasty coverage. Here’s the Washington Post on the issue. Dr. Debito Arudou

////////////////////////////////////////////
NBC apologizes to Koreans for Olympics coverage that praised Japan’s brutal occupation
By Avi Selk February 11, 2017
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2018/02/11/nbc-apologizes-to-koreans-for-olympics-coverage-that-praised-japans-brutal-occupation/

Friday’s Opening Ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in South Korea were, by most accounts, spectacular. NBC’s coverage of the spectacle, on the other hand, was considered hit and miss. Occasionally disastrous.

It wasn’t so much the hosts, Katie Couric and Mike Tirico, who annoyed critics, but rather the network’s analyst, Joshua Cooper Ramo.

Slate wrote that Ramo’s commentary amounted to bland trivia about Asia “seemingly plucked from hastily written social studies reports” — such as his observation that white and blue flags stood for North and South Korean unity. Variety compared his commentary to a Wikipedia article.

But Ramo’s big misstep came when he noticed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan in the crowd and offered what he knew about the country’s history with Korea.

Japan was “a country which occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945,” Ramo said, correctly (though he did not mention that historians say the Japanese army forced tens of thousands of Koreans into sex slavery.)

“But,” Ramo continued, “every Korean will tell you that Japan as a cultural and technological and economic example has been so important to their own transformation.”

This was definitely not correct. Every Korean did not agree that Japanese colonialism had its upside. In fact, thousands signed a petition demanding that NBC apologize for Ramo’s statement.

“His incorrect and insensitive comment about Korea’s history has enraged many of its people,” the Korea Times observed.

“Some say it’s questionable whether Ramo has been even following the news leading up to the current Olympics, as some of the disputes between South Korea and Japan erupted even during the preparation phase of the games,” the Korea Herald added, mentioning as an example the unified Korean flag that Ramo liked so much.

In fact, the Herald reported, an earlier flag design had outraged Japan because it included a group of islets still claimed by both countries.

Japan and South Korea have not even fully reconciled over atrocities committed during the occupation. While the Japanese government has expressed remorse and set up a fund in the 1990s to help victims it once referred to as “comfort women,” some politicians and academics claim estimates of 200,000 sex slaves are exaggerated. Many South Koreans, in turns, compare those skeptics to Holocaust deniers.

The morning after the Opening Ceremonies, NBC apologized for Ramo’s remarks. “We understand the Korean people were insulted by these comments,” an anchor said during a Saturday broadcast, according to MSN.

In a statement to The Washington Post, NBC Sports said that the network also apologized in writing and that “we’re very gratified that [the PyeongChang Olympics] has accepted that apology.”

Yahoo Sports reported this was the second time that Ramo, who co-directs a think tank founded by former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, has appeared as an Olympics analyst for NBC. He shared an Emmy Award for his commentary during Beijing’s Summer Games in 2008.

Ramo could not be immediately reached for comment. An NBC official told The Post that his assignment is over.
ENDS
==============================================

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New Years Eve 2017 TV Blackface Debate in Japan (again): Referential Links

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Hi Blog. With the recent broadcast of an “Eddie Murphy homage” (with Japanese tarento Hamada Masatoshi doing blackface) on one of the most-watched shows in Japan all year, Debito.org feels a need at least to mention that there is a hot debate going on about whether Blackface is appropriate in other societies (such as Japan) with a different history of race relations.


(Courtesy of The Japan Times)

My opinion is that doing Blackface is almost always a bad thing, due to its historical connotation regardless of context. And I add the caveat of “almost always” while struggling to think of any exception, except for purposes of historical grounding behind the issue. (And it’s not limited to blackface: Debito.org has covered racialized media in Japan, broadcast without input from the minorities affected, many times in the past, including here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)  And the fact that this is happening again despite a similar Blackface incident not two years ago (which ended up with the broadcast being cancelled a priori) is merely willful ignorance on the part of Japan’s media outlets.

But that’s all I’ll say. I think Baye McNeil has a lock on the issue, and I’ll just refer Debito.org Readers to his most recent Japan Times column, at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/01/10/our-lives/time-japan-scrub-off-blackface-good/

Even better is a YouTube panel discussion sponsored by The Japan Times that involves McNeil, Anthropologist Dr. John G. Russell of Gifudai, and YouTuber Aoki Yuta.

Dr. Russell’s comments about Japan’s history with Blackface (there is in fact a history, despite the narrative that Japan is ignorant therefore innocent) are particularly salient. Watch if you want a definitive conclusion to the issue of Blackface in Japan for yourself. Dr. Debito Arudou

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

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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

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

(Version with links to sources.)

In ascending order:

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

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

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

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

9) ‘Hair police’ issue attracts attention with lawsuit

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

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

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

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

8) Five-year limit on contract employment backfires

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

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

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

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

7) Hate-speech law has concrete effects

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

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

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

Not so much anymore.

6) Pension system qualification lowered to 10 years

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

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

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

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

5) Renho resigns, Democratic Party withers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) North Korean missile tests and the fallout

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

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

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

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

2) Abe glides to fifth electoral victory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) Government human rights survey of foreign residents

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

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

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

Bubbling under:

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

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

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

Record numbers of foreign tourists come to Japan and spend.

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

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

ENDS

=======================================
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Reuters: “Who is Kazuo Ishiguro?” Japan asks, but celebrates Nobel author as its own. Very symptomatic of Japan’s ethnostate.

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  About a month ago, Briton Kazuo Ishiguro, who writes exclusively in English, won the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Predictably, Japan’s media boasted that a third Japanese writer (with the caveat that he was Japan-born) had won a Nobel.

Well, not really.  Imagine, say, Germany claiming as their own all the Nobel-laureate scientists of the Deutsch diaspora living abroad, even those without actual German citizenship, for however many generations?

In Japan, this highly-questionable social science is hardly problematized.  As noted below by Reuters, a similar claim was laid to Shuji “Slave” Nakamura, inventor of the LED, who due to his foul treatment by Japan’s scientific and academic communities quite actively disavows his connections to Japan (in fact, he urges them to escape for their own good).  Same with Yoichiro Nambu, who got Nobelled as a team in 2008 for Physics, yet had been living in the US since the 1960s, was a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, and had even relinquished Japanese citizenship and taken American.

I suspect these odd claims massage a rather insecure national pride.  Also because they are largely unquestioned under the concept of Japan as an ethnostate, where nationality/citizenship is directly linked to blood ties.  That is to say, anyone who is of Japanese blood can be claimed as a member of the Japanese societal power structure (i.e., a Wajin).  And the converse is indeed true:  Even people who take Japanese citizenship but lack the requisite Wajin blood are treated as foreign:  Just ask Japan’s “naturalized-but-still-foreign” athletes in, say, the sumo wrestling or rugby communities.

It’s a pretty racist state of affairs.  One I discuss in depth in acclaimed book “Embedded Racism” (Lexington Books, 2015).  And, as I argue in its closing chapter, one that will ultimately lead to the downfall of a senescent Japan.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

“Who’s Kazuo Ishiguro?” Japan asks, but celebrates Nobel author as its own
Chang-Ran Kim. Reuters, October 5, 2017, courtesy lots of people
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nobel-prize-literature-japan/whos-kazuo-ishiguro-japan-asks-but-celebrates-nobel-author-as-its-own-idUSKBN1CB0FZ

TOKYO (Reuters) – Minutes after Japanese-born Briton Kazuo Ishiguro was announced as the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature, Japanese took to Twitter to ask: “Who (the heck) is Kazuo Ishiguro?”

For those who had never heard of the author of “The Remains of the Day” and other award-winning novels, the name that flashed across smartphones and TV screens was puzzling – it was undoubtedly Japanese-sounding, but written in the local script reserved for foreign names and words.

Far from the super-star status that his erstwhile compatriot – and perpetual Nobel favorite – Haruki Murakami enjoys, Ishiguro is not a household name in Japan.

But by Friday morning, the nation was celebrating the 62-year-old British transplant, who writes exclusively in English, as one of its own, seizing on his own declaration of an emotional and cultural connection to Japan, which he left at age five.

“I’ve always said throughout my career that although I’ve grown up in this country (Britain) … that a large part of my way of looking at the world, my artistic approach, is Japanese, because I was brought up by Japanese parents, speaking in Japanese,” Ishiguro said on Thursday.

Japanese newspapers carried his Nobel win as front-page news, describing him as a Nagasaki native who had obtained British citizenship as an adult.

“On behalf of the government, I would like to express our happiness that an ethnic Japanese … has received the Nobel Prize for Literature,” Japan’s chief government spokesman said.

The Sankei daily boasted: “(Ishiguro) follows Yasunari Kawabata and Kenzaburo Oe as the third Japanese-born writer” to win the prize.

The country similarly celebrated with gusto the 2014 Nobel Prize co-winner in physics, American Shuji Nakamura, despite his having abandoned his Japanese nationality years ago. Japan does not recognize dual citizenship for adults.

Many Japanese are familiar with Ishiguro’s 2005 dystopian novel “Never Let Me Go” through its dramatisation in a local TV series last year, though the fact that Ishiguro wrote the work was less known. In the last 16 years, Hayakawa Publishing, which holds exclusive rights to translate Ishiguro’s works into Japanese, sold less than a million of his eight titles.

Japanese may yet yearn for an elusive Nobel for Murakami, but for now, Ishiguro is their man of the hour.

“Since last night, we’ve received orders for 200,000 copies,” Hiroyuki Chida at Hayakawa Publishing said. “That’s unthinkable in this day and age.” ENDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is “not limited to housing,” Kawamura said. “If our government cannot address the social needs of [foreigners] already living in Japan, we won’t be able to support those coming into the country in the future.”
ENDS
============================

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

mytest

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

Let’s talk about Charlottesville.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

===================
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Daily Show on overseas media interpreters’ self-censorship of Trump’s language: Japanese interpreter plays dumb, claims no way to express “grab ’em by the pu**y”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I’m trying to maintain my summer vacation (and a dry-out from the Internet for a little while), but every now and again I stumble across something interesting (what with this golden age of political comedy in the US), and here’s something indirectly Japan-related.

Trevor Noah and company on the Daily Show make an interesting case about how Trump’s language, both in terms of content and syntax, is challenging for translators in other languages to render.  They make the point that the impact and nuance is often softened by translator self-censorship (or filling in the gaps with personal interpretations).  I understand well, having been in their situations more than once.  (And let me say here for the record:  I am not a trained interpreter, and I have had numerous debates with interpreters with accuracy versus diplomatic rendering of the language.  I fall on the side of total accuracy warts and all.)  Worth a watch:

But at minute 4:00 of the segment, the Japanese interpreter claims that there is no accurate way to translate Trump’s infamous “grab ’em by the pu**y” remark.  She even claims that there is no word “in the exact sense” for “pu**y” in Japanese.

Rubbish.  I can think of quite a few words that would do the trick, in content and especially in nuance.  The two easiest, of course, are om*nko or om*nta, as in “om*nta o tsukandari shite“,  and in Trump’s case I would even remove their honorific prefixes.

Of course, that would require bleeping out the syllable after “man”, but it’s been done on Japanese TV before.  I’ve seen it.

But I dislike it when people, especially in this case a professional interpreter, play dumb and deny.  Repeating that old lie that we heard as beginning Japanese students that “there are no bad words in Japanese”.

Like it or not, “om*nta” what 45 said.  Portray it accurately.  Or, as the segment argued well, the awfulness of 45’s speech is bleached out simply because the interpreter is being too diplomatic, cultured, or prudish.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

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Japan Times JBC 106: “Government, survey thyself”, on unprecedented nationwide poll of NJ on discrimination, with one big blind spot (March 5, 2017)

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
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ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
Government of Japan, survey thyself
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
JBC 106, SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES, MAR 5, 2017

Something landmark happened late last year. Japan’s government undertook a nationwide survey of discrimination toward Japan’s long-term non-Japanese (NJ) residents.

The Foreign Residents Survey (FRS), drawn up in 13 languages, was randomly mailed last November to 18,500 NJ residents. It was widely dispersed — to about 500 names per local government.

Good. We need hard data about the breadth and depth of discrimination to deal with it. However, previous government surveys analyzed in this column (e.g., “Human rights survey stinks,” Zeit Gist, Oct. 23, 2007) had serious methodological problems. And afterwards, thanks to attention in The Japan Times, they were amended (Source: Embedded Racism p 243 fn 140). Many thanks.

So how is the survey this time? Much better. But it still needs work due to an enormous blind spot…

Read the rest at The Japan times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/03/05/issues/government-japan-survey-thyself/

Version with links to sources up shortly.
=========================

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Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 105: “Media, stop normalizing sumo as an ethno-sport”, Monday, Feb 20, 2017

mytest

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Thanks to readers for putting this in the Top Ten most-read JT articles for two days in a row!  — Debito

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

STOP NORMALIZING SUMO AS AN ETHNO-SPORT
Foreign coverage of the new Yokozuna Kisenosato is embedding racism
By Debito Arudou
Just Be Cause Column 105 for the Japan Times Community Page
Monday, February 20, 2017

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/02/19/issues/media-outside-japan-must-stop-normalizing-sumo-ethno-sport/

I know that by now this is old news (blame press holidays and timely Trump articles), but congratulations to Kisenosato last month for ascending to yokozuna, sumo wrestling’s highest rank. After all your efforts, well done.

So what does JBC have to say about it? Nothing to diminish that achievement, of course. But let’s consider how the event echoed overseas. Here are some headlines from prominent news outlets:

BBC: “Japan gets first sumo champion in 19 years”
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38721106

Washington Post: “After 19 long years, Japan has a grand champion of sumo once again.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/after-19-long-years-japan-has-a-grand-champion-of-sumo-once-more/2017/01/25/

New York Times: “For the first time in years, Japan boasts a sumo grand champion.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/25/world/asia/japan-sumo-champion-kisenosato.html

The Guardian: “Kisenosato becomes Japan’s first homegrown sumo champion in 19 years.”
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/video/2017/jan/25/kisenosato-becomes-japans-first-homegrown-sumo-champion-in-19-years-video

Even our own JT: “Kisenosato becomes first Japanese-born yokozuna in almost two decades.”
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2017/01/25/sumo/kisenosato-becomes-first-japanese-born-yokozuna-almost-two-decades/

Hmm. At least three of those headlines make it seem like Japan hasn’t had a Japanese yokozuna – or any yokozuna – for nearly two decades.

That’s false. We’ve had five yokozuna (Musashimaru, Asashoryu, Hakuho, Harumafuji, and Kakuryu) since 1998.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_yokozuna

Unless they’re referring to the fact that the last four champions have been Mongolian, not Japanese. But that means they don’t count?

Then what about Musashimaru? He’s a naturalized Japanese, and was one (as the Japan Times duly noted) when he became yokozuna in 1999.

So he’s not counted because he’s not a “real” Japanese? Apparently. That’s why the JT and Guardian slipped in qualifiers like “homegrown” and “Japan-born”. As if that matters.

It shouldn’t. Except to racists.

And it matters in Japan because of the embedded racism of the sport…

Read the rest at

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/02/19/issues/media-outside-japan-must-stop-normalizing-sumo-ethno-sport/

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

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Other progress in 2016: Actions against wasabi bombs in sushi for NJ customers, conductor officially chided for apologizing re “many foreign passengers” crowding trains

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Hi Blog, and welcome to 2017. And to start this year (which I am not at all optimistic about), let’s try to talk about two bright sides to 2016.

First up, this piece of good news that shows that targeting of foreign passengers (on an airport train, no less) is officially not cool — either from the passengers’ point of view or from the train company’s:

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

Train conductor warned after apologizing for crowding due to ‘many foreign passengers’
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161011/p2a/00m/0na/003000c
October 11, 2016 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK

OSAKA — A Nankai Electric Railway Co. conductor was dealt a verbal warning after apologizing to Japanese passengers for crowding on a train heading to Kansai International Airport with a large number of foreigners, it has been learned.

The company said the male conductor, who is in his 40s, made the announcement on an express train bound for Kansai International Airport at around 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 10, a public holiday, after the train left Tengachaya Station.

“Today there are many foreign passengers aboard and it is very crowded, so we are inconveniencing Japanese passengers,” the conductor was quoted as stating in the announcement.

After the train arrived at Kansai-Airport Station, a Japanese woman questioned a station attendant about the announcement, asking whether it was within the bounds of company rules.

When questioned by the company, the conductor was quoted as replying, “I heard a male Japanese passenger at Namba Station yelling, ‘All these foreigners are a nuisance,’ so I made the announcement to avert trouble. I had no intention of discriminating.”

The company says it has received complaints in the past about the large pieces of luggage carried by foreign visitors, but the announcement made by the conductor was the first of its kind.

“Whether people are Japanese or non-Japanese, the fact remains that they are our passengers. Language that sets them apart is inappropriate,” a company representative said.

Japanese version:

車掌「多くの外国人で、ご不便を」
毎日新聞2016年10月11日 00時06分(最終更新 10月11日 12時32分)
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20161011/k00/00m/040/058000c

車内アナウンスして口頭注意 「差別の意図ない」と釈明
南海電鉄の40代男性車掌が10日、車内で「本日は多数の外国人のお客さまが乗車されており、大変混雑しておりますので、日本人のお客さまにはご不便をおかけしております」という内容のアナウンスを行い、口頭注意を受けていたことが同社への取材で分かった。

車掌は同社の聞き取りに「難波駅で車内の日本人男性客が『外国人が多くて邪魔』という内容を大声で叫んだのを聞き、トラブルを避けるために放送した。差別の意図はない」と説明したという。同社によると、これまでにも、車内の外国人観光客の大きな荷物に対する苦情が他の乗客から寄せられたことはあったが、この車掌が同様のアナウンスをしたのは今回が初めてという。

同社は「日本人でも外国人でも、お客さまに変わりはない。区別するような言葉はふさわしくない」としている。【井川加菜美】
ENDS
///////////////////////////////////////////////

Next up an article from the Grauniad, which coupled the above story with another one about some sushi itamae-san who took it upon themselves to wasabi-bomb some NJ sushi. Full article follows below, but pertinent excerpt:

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

The incident follows an accusation by South Korean tourists that a sushi restaurant in Osaka deliberately smeared their orders with eye-watering quantities of wasabi, a pungent condiment that should be used sparingly.

The restaurant chain Ichibazushi apologised but denied accusations of racism, saying its chefs had decided to use excessive amounts of wasabi after other foreign diners had previously requested larger dollops for added piquancy.

“Because many of our overseas customers frequently order extra amounts of pickled ginger and wasabi, we gave them more without checking first,” the chain’s management said. “The result was unpleasant for some guests who aren’t fans of wasabi.”

It was not clear how many such incidents – labelled “wasabi terrorism” on social media – had occurred, but some disgruntled diners posted photos of sushi containing twice as much wasabi as usual.

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

Again, the fact that this incident made news, and (Japanese) social media thought this was worth criticizing is a good thing. The restaurant acknowledged and apologized.

There is lots to bellyache about when it comes to how NJ are seen and treated in Japan, but when people (especially Japanese people, who are often not all that quick to leap to the defense of NJ, since what happens to NJ does not affect them) stand up against this, this is progress. Credit where credit is due. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Full Grauniad article:
//////////////////////////////////////

Japanese train conductor blames foreign tourists for overcrowding
Rail company reprimands conductor who made announcement blaming foreigners for inconveniencing Japanese passengers
Justin McCurry in Tokyo Tuesday 11 October 2016
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/11/japanese-train-conductor-blames-foreign-tourists-for-overcrowding

A railway company in Japan has reprimanded a conductor who blamed the large number of foreign tourists on a crowded train for inconveniencing Japanese passengers.

The outburst will have done little to help Japan’s attempts to become a more welcoming destination for foreign visitors as it prepares to host the 2019 rugby World Cup and the Tokyo Olympics a year later.

Japan’s successful pitch for the 2020 Games made much of the country’s reputation for omotenashi– traditional hospitality and service.

But there was precious little omotenashi on display when the conductor addressed passengers on a Nankai Electric Railway express train bound for Kansai international airport near Osaka on Monday morning.

“There are many foreign passengers on board today … this has caused serious congestion and is causing inconvenience to Japanese passengers,” said the conductor, a man in his 40s.

A Japanese passenger reported the incident to a station attendant at the airport, questioning whether the conductor’s wording was acceptable.

The conductor, who has not been named, later defended his choice of words: “I heard a male Japanese passenger at [another station] yelling: ‘All these foreigners are a nuisance,’” the Mainichi Shimbun quoted him as saying.

“I made the announcement to avert trouble and had no intention of discriminating [against foreign passengers],” he said.

A Nankai Electric spokesman told the newspaper that the firm had previously received complaints about foreign visitors with large suitcases, but added: “Whether people are Japanese or non-Japanese, the fact remains that they are our passengers. Language that sets them apart [from other passengers] is inappropriate.”

The incident follows an accusation by South Korean tourists that a sushi restaurant in Osaka deliberately smeared their orders with eye-watering quantities of wasabi, a pungent condiment that should be used sparingly.

The restaurant chain Ichibazushi apologised but denied accusations of racism, saying its chefs had decided to use excessive amounts of wasabi after other foreign diners had previously requested larger dollops for added piquancy.

“Because many of our overseas customers frequently order extra amounts of pickled ginger and wasabi, we gave them more without checking first,” the chain’s management said. “The result was unpleasant for some guests who aren’t fans of wasabi.”

It was not clear how many such incidents – labelled “wasabi terrorism” on social media – had occurred, but some disgruntled diners posted photos of sushi containing twice as much wasabi as usual.

Whether or not the incidents resulted from misunderstandings, the potential for friction between visitors and local people is likely to increase as Japan gains popularity as a tourist destination.

A record 2.05 million people visited the country in August, according to the Japan Tourism Agency, including 677,000 from China, 458,900 from South Korea and 333,200 from Taiwan.

Japan’s government hopes to double the number of foreign visitors to 40 million in 2020, and expects a tourism windfall of 8tn yen (£63bn).
ENDS
=====================================

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

重要なのは、訪日客を単に外から来る消費者と見ないことだろう。

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Article first, then comment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMENTS:

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

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

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One reason why human rights are not taken seriously in Japan: Childish essays like these in the Mainichi.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  The discussion about Japan’s recent passage of a hate-speech law continues.  An article recently appeared in the Mainichi, about which Debito.org Reader JK said when submitting, “I don’t recall ever seeing anything this cut-and-dry; it’s a nice change.”

Have a read, then I’ll comment:

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

Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Discrimination has no place in Japan
June 12, 2016 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
By Rika Kayama, Psychiatrist
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160612/p2a/00m/0na/003000c

The so-called anti-hate speech law has come into force.

When I first saw a hate speech demonstration, with marchers barking vicious slogans aimed primarily at Japan’s Korean residents, I could barely believe my eyes. On the internet, too, people toss out discriminatory comments against other foreign citizens, against Japan’s Ainu and Okinawan peoples, against those receiving welfare benefits and the disabled. There are those who spread false rumors that these people are getting unfair financial aid.

The new hate speech law is what you might call a “principle law,” as it has no provisions for punishing violators. Furthermore, it only protects “those originally from nations outside this country” who are “living legally in Japan.” As such, it does not outlaw discrimination against Japanese citizens or foreigners applying for refugee status, among other groups. However, the supplementary resolution that accompanied passage of the law states, “It would be a mistake to believe that discrimination against groups not specifically mentioned in the law is forgivable.” I suppose we can say that the Diet essentially stated, “Discrimination is unforgiveable in Japan.”

In fact, I have a lot of people struggling with discrimination come to my practice; people discriminated against because they are foreigners, because they are ill, because they are single mothers. Some are treated unfairly at work or in the areas where they live, are looked upon with frigid eyes that seem to say, “You are not like us,” all for some aspect of themselves that they cannot change.

What’s more, the reasons given for this prejudice are usually untrue. For example, the romantic partner of one of my patients didn’t want to get married “because depression is inherited.” This is simply not true, and in the end I had the couple come in together to explain things. When the session was done, the reluctant party was reluctant no more, leaving with a smile and promising to “explain this to my parents as well.” Arbitrary “those people are all so-and-so” labels are very often founded on basic errors of fact.

I have read a paper based on research conducted outside Japan that showed that ethnically diverse workplaces produce more creative ideas than those dominated by a single race or nationality. In contrast to working with people who understand one another from the get-go, getting people with wildly varying perspectives and ways of thinking together in one place apparently sparks the easy flow of groundbreaking ideas.

So, talk to someone different than yourself. Even if that’s impossible right away, you will come to understand one another somehow. It’s time to put an end to knee-jerk hatreds, to discrimination and pushing away our fellow human beings. With the new hate speech law, Japan has finally become a country where we can say, “We will not tolerate discrimination.” (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)  ENDS

Japanese version

香山リカのココロの万華鏡
脱差別 日本も仲間入り /東京
毎日新聞2016年6月7日 地方版
東京都
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20160607/ddl/k13/070/107000c

いわゆるヘイトスピーチ対策法が施行された。

主に在日韓国・朝鮮人の方に対して差別的言動を大声で叫びながら集団で道路を歩くヘイトスピーチデモを最初に目にしたときは「まさかこれが現実とは」を目を疑った。さらにネットには、ほかの国の人たち、日本人であるアイヌ民族や沖縄の人たち、生活保護を受給していたり障害を持っていたりする人たちに対しても、平気で差別の言葉を投げかけたり「不当に手当をもらっている」といったデマを拡散したりする人たちがいる。

今回の法律は理念法と呼ばれ、実際にそれを破った人に罰則を与えるものではない。また、その対象が「本邦外出身者」「適法に日本に居住する人」となっているので、日本人で差別を受けている人や難民申請をしている人などは該当しないことになっている。ただ、法律とともに出された「付帯決議」には「定義以外のものであれば差別は許されるというのは誤り」とあり、国会が「日本では差別は許さない」と認めたと考えてよいだろう。

診察室にも差別で苦しむ人は大勢やって来る。外国人だから、病気を持っているから、シングルマザーだから。本人にはどうしようもないことで「あなたは私たちとは違う」と白い目で見られ、職場や地域で不利な扱いを受けることもある。

しかもたいていの場合、差別の理由として考えられていることは間違いだ。たとえば、「うつ病は遺伝するから」と結婚に反対された患者さんがいたが、婚約者にも来てもらってそれは誤りであることを丁寧に説明したら、「わかりました。両親にも説明します」と明るい顔でこたえてくれた。「あの人はこれこれだから」という決めつけのほとんどは、こういう単純な間違いに基づいている。

海外の研究で「ある会社で、同じ国籍、民族の人ばかりの部署より、多様な人々が集まった部署のほうが創造的なアイデアが多く出た」という論文を読んだことがある。いろいろな考え、立場の人たちと一生懸命コミュニケーションするほうが、最初からわかり合っている関係で仕事をするよりも、刺激が多く画期的な意見が出やすいというのだ。

自分と違う人と話そう。すぐには無理だとしても、なんとかわかり合おう。最初から毛ぎらいしたり差別して追い出したりするのは、もうやめよう。法律ができたことで、ようやく日本も「私たちは差別を許さない」と宣言する国の仲間入りができた。(精神科医)ENDS

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

COMMENT:  While this article is well-intentioned, and says most of the things that ought to be said, the tone is pretty unsophisticated (especially if you read the Japanese version — the English version has been leveled-up somewhat).  I have always found it annoying how discussions of human rights in Japan generally drop down to the kindergarten level, where motherly homilies of “we’re all human beings”, “let’s just get along” and “talking to somebody different will solve everything” are so simplistic as to invite scoffing from bigots who simply won’t do that.

I know this comment sounds unkind towards an author who is trying to promote kindness, but this article is not much of a public policy statement for suggestion of enforcement.  And based upon this, I doubt that if the author had ever been part of a government shingikai on this issue that she would have come up with anything more than slogans, bon mots, patient anecdotes, and vague guidelines instead of actual legal and sociological arguments (strong enough to convince even the bigots) for why discrimination is a bad thing for a society and how it can be stopped.

For example, you simply cannot cite a (unknown) paper without more detail and expect it to stand without contrarians easily saying, “Well, that’s overseas, and we’re unique, special Japan, and that doesn’t apply here when foreigners aren’t real minorities or residents anyway.”  While I’m glad that Japan, through this non-punitive hate-speech law, now has a statement of intolerance towards intolerance, this essay doesn’t really build upon it.  Let’s not get all motherly in tone.  Let’s get serious and write about how people who express public hatred towards entire peoples should be publicly punished for it.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE 98, “Ibaraki Police still unfettered by the law, or the truth”, June 6, 2016 (UPDATED with links to sources)

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Police still unfettered by the law, or the truth
Repeat-offender Ibaraki force called to account for backsliding on the issue of hotel snooping
By Debito Arudou.  Column 98 for The Japan Times Community Page, June 6, 2016 Version updated with links to sources.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/06/05/issues/japans-police-still-unfettered-law-truth/

Japan’s police are at it again: Lying about the law.

A reader with the pseudonym Onur recently wrote to me about his experience in the city of Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, when he checked into a hotel. Even though Onur clearly indicated he was a legal resident of Japan with a domestic address, clerks demanded he present his passport for photocopying. They pointed to a sign issued by the Ibaraki Prefectural Police.

IbarakipolicehotelposterApr2016
But that poster has three great big stripy lies: 1) “Every foreign guest must present their passport” 2) “which must be photocopied” 3) “under the Hotel Business Law” — which states none of these things. Not to mention that Japan’s registered foreign residents are not required to carry around passports anyway.

What’s particularly egregious about this sign is that the Japanese police know better — because we told them so a decade ago.

The Japan Times first exposed how police were stretching their mandate in “Creating laws out of thin air,” Zeit Gist, March 8, 2005, and, later, two updates: “Ministry missive wrecks reception,” ZG, Oct. 18, 2005, and “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry,” Just Be Cause, July 6,2010.

It made an impact. Even the usually noncommittal U.S. Embassy took action, posting in their American Community Update of May 2005:

“After we sought clarification, according to the Environmental Health Division, Health Service Bureau, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the new registration procedure at lodging facilities does not apply to foreigners who are residents of Japan but only to tourists and temporary visitors. If you write a Japanese address on the check-in sheet, hotels are not supposed to ask for your passport.”

Right. So why do the Ibaraki police still feel they can lie about the laws they are entrusted to uphold?

Because … Ibaraki. I’ll get to that shortly…

But back to Onur, who also took action. He stayed an extra day in Mito and raised the issue with local authorities:

“I went to Mito City Public Health Department (Hokensho), who were very helpful, and confirmed that as a resident I need not show ID at hotels. Then I showed them the poster from the Ibaraki police department. Surprised, they said they had never seen this poster before, and the police had not contacted them about it. They said it is clearly different from the real law, especially the bit about ‘every foreign guest.’

“The Hokensho added that the police have become stricter because of the G-7 (Ise-Shima) summit and 2020 Tokyo Olympics. They said they would check the hotel and inform me of the result.”

But Onur wasn’t done yet: “Then I talked with two officers at the Mito City Police Department’s Security Division. They listened without making any comments. I showed them an official announcement from the Health Ministry and said that their poster is clearly different.

“The police read the ministry announcement and took notes like they were unaware of the law, asking questions like ‘Do the other hotels in other parts of Japan ask for your ID card?’ and ‘Isn’t checking the ID card necessary to confirm that a foreigner really has an address in Japan?’ I offered the contact number at Health Ministry for more information, but they said it wasn’t necessary. Finally, I asked them to fix their poster. They said they would check the law and behave accordingly.”

Shortly afterwards, Onur got a call from the Hokensho: “They checked my hotel and saw the poster was now changed. It seems the Ibaraki police had printed a new one and distributed it to all hotels within a few hours! The Hokensho said the new poster clearly states ‘foreign nationals who do not possess an address in Japan,’ which follows regulations. They said the police warned the hotel not to make the same mistake again. Finally, they thanked me for informing them about this problem.”

Well done. It’s satisfying to have others retrace our steps and get even better results. It’s just a shame that he should have to.

However, two issues still niggle. One is that photocopying requirement, which, according to The Japan Times’ own legal columnist, Colin P. A. Jones, may also be questionable:

“According to the Personal Information Protection Act (Kojin Joho Hogo Ho), the hotel should explain to you why they are collecting personal information from you, which is what they are doing if they take a copy of your passport,” Jones said in an email. “So if they can confirm that you are a resident of Japan by looking at your residence card or driver’s license, they do not need to take a copy because they have confirmed that the Hotel Act no longer applies. If they take a copy they are collecting personal information beyond what is necessary for the expressed purpose. In my experience, once you point this out, hotel staff then start mumbling about ‘their policies,’ but of course those don’t trump the law.”

Second issue: Ibaraki.

Ibaraki is where cops take local grumps seriously when they report a “suspicious foreigner” standing near JR Ushiku Station — seriously enough to arrest him on Aug. 13, 2014, for not carrying his “gaijin card.” Well, that “foreigner” turned out to be a Japanese, and Japanese are not required to carry ID. Whoops.

Ibaraki is also the site of a mysterious and under-reported knife attack on Chinese “trainee” laborers (the Japan Times, Feb. 23, 2015), which resulted in an as-yet-unresolved[*] murder. (Funny that. Imagine the media outcry if foreigners had knifed Japanese!)

Do Ibaraki police have anything to do with this? Actually, yes.

Ibaraki police have posted in public places some of Japan’s most militantly anti-foreign posters. I mean this literally: Since 2008, at least three different versions have depicted cops, bedecked in paramilitary weaponry, physically subduing foreigners. The slogan: “Protect (Japan) by heading (foreigners) off at the shores.”

Ibaraki police have also offered the public online information about “foreign crime infrastructure,” as if it’s somehow separate from or more ominous than the yakuza. They claim that foreigners are responsible for drugs, illegal medical activities, underground taxis, false IDs — and paternity scams to get Japanese citizenship. And, conveniently, the National Police Agency argued within its 2010 white paper that foreign crime infrastructure “cannot be grasped through statistics” (see “Police ‘foreign crime wave’ falsehoods fuel racism,” JBC, July 8, 2013). It’s enough to make the public paranoid.

And Ibaraki is a strange place for such militancy. It does not have a particularly high concentration of foreigners. Except for, of course, those behind bars at Ibaraki’s Ushiku Detention Center.

Japan’s infamous immigration detention centers, or “gaijin tanks,” are where foreign visa overstayers and asylum seekers are left to rot indefinitely in what Amnesty International in 2002 called “secret detention facilities.” Gaijin tanks don’t get the oversight governing Japan’s prisons because the former do not officially qualify as “prisons.” They’re pretty bad places to be.

And Ushiku’s gaijin tank is notoriously bad. It has made headlines over the past decade for drugging and subjecting detainees to conditions so horrendous that they have gone on hunger strikes, committed suicide or died having received improper medical care and under other mysterious circumstances.

Therein lies the point I keep banging on about in this column: What happens when racial discrimination is left unrestrained by laws? It just gets normalized and embedded.

Treating people badly without official checks and balances eventually makes abuse tolerated and ignored — like background radiation. And, fueled by the innate fear of The Outsider, the abuses just get worse and worse. Because they can.

In this case, the unfettered xenophobia radiating from the Ushiku Detention Center, Ibaraki’s fast-breeder reactor of foreigner dehumanization and abuse, has clearly corroded Ibaraki police’s judgment — to the point where they feel they can outright lie about the laws they are supposed to enforce, and have their propaganda irradiate hotels, street-corner busybodies and the general public.

It’s time for people to realize that Japanese police’s free rein to maintain our allegedly “safe society” has limits. For officially treating an entire people as potentially “unsafe” is dangerous in itself.

Ibaraki Prefecture thus offers a fascinating case study. Of what happens to a neighborhood when xenophobia goes beyond the occasional international summit or sports event, and becomes regularized into official extralegal standard operating procedure.

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

Debito’s latest project is the mockumentary film “Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin,” which is now being funded on Kickstarter. Twitter @arudoudebito. Send all your comments and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.

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

[*]  Correction:  According to Chinese media translated into Japanese, the abovementioned knife attack and murder of Chinese “Trainees” has resulted in the arrest of 5 Vietnamese nationals:

日本の中国人技能実習生、ベトナム人5人に包丁で襲われ1人死亡1人負傷=茨城県警察は殺人と殺人未遂容疑で逮捕―中国紙
http://www.recordchina.co.jp/a114724.html

2015年7月23日、人民日報(電子版)は日本の報道を引用し、中国人技能実習生を殺害したとして、茨城県警察が殺人と殺人未遂の容疑でベトナム人5人を逮捕したと伝えた。

警察によると、今年2月22日午後9時40分ごろ、当時農業技能実習生だった中国人の孫文君(スン・ウェンジュン)さん(33)は茨城県鉾田市の路上を同僚と歩いていた際、包丁を持ったベトナム人の男女5人に襲われた。

これにより孫さんは死亡し、もう1人の中国人技能実習生も負傷した。その後の調査で、ベトナム人男女らの中には元農業技能実習生もおり、警察は動機などについて調べを進めている。(翻訳・編集/内山)ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Critics, however, have decried the legislation as ineffective.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Economist: United Nations fails to stick up for the rights of Imperial female succession, drops issue as a “distraction” from report

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Off on a tangent this time, as Debito.org is not in the habit of talking about the Japanese Imperial System (unless it has an impact on how NJ are treated in Japan, such as here or here).  But this time, check this article out from The Economist.  I will tie it into Debito.org’s themes in commentary below.

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

Japan’s male-only emperor system
Imperial lather
The United Nations fails to stick up for the rights of empresses
Mar 19th 2016 | TOKYO | From the print edition, courtesy of the author
http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21695073-united-nations-fails-stick-up-rights-empresses-imperial-lather

THE progenitor of Japan’s imperial line, supposedly 2,600 years ago, was female: Amaterasu, goddess of the sun. But for most of the time since, all emperors have been male. This has exercised the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Recently it concluded that Japan should let women inherit the Chrysanthemum throne, too.

It is not clear what Emperor Akihito, who is 82 (and has a hugely popular wife), thinks about this. But the Japanese prime minister blew his top. Shinzo Abe leapt to the defence of a male-only line, saying it was rooted in Japanese history. The panel’s meddling, he said, was “totally inappropriate”. Cowed, it withdrew its recommendation that the law of succession be changed.

Polls suggest that most Japanese would welcome a female monarch. A decade ago a looming succession crisis triggered a robust discussion, led by Junichiro Koizumi, then prime minister and Mr Abe’s political mentor, on whether to allow a woman to ascend the throne. But the birth of Hisahito, a boy prince, ended the debate. A draft law was quietly shelved.

Mr Abe does not share Mr Koizumi’s iconoclasm. An arch-traditionalist, he wants the male-only system preserved to protect the imperial bloodline. But in other ways he has been an unlikely champion of diversity since he came to power (for the second time) in 2012. He has cajoled Japanese firms into promoting more women and urged them to make it easier for them to come back to work after having children.

There is a long way to go. Japan is bottom of the rich world in most rankings of sexual equality. For the past month Mr Abe has struggled with the political fallout from a much-read blog post by a working mother angry at a chronic shortage of day-care places. Still, Mr Abe’s efforts appear to be getting somewhere. From April big companies will have to declare their plans for promoting women. The hope is that this will shame firms that overlook female talent. As for the proportion of board members who are women, it has inched up by a percentage point in the past year—to 2.7%.

The UN committee notes this progress but laments foot-dragging on other issues. Japanese women are still meant to need spousal consent for abortions, it says, even in cases of rape. Divorced women must wait months before remarrying thanks to an archaic rule designed to remove uncertainty over the paternity of unborn children. For most Japanese women, the question of whether or not some future princess can become empress is hardly pressing. But Yoko Shida, a constitutional scholar, says it matters nonetheless. It is, she says, a symbol of discrimination.

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  What’s interesting here is not that Japan protested outside comment about their emperor system (that happens with some frequency), but that the United Nations took it seriously enough to drop the issue.  Pretty remarkable that the UN, which faces criticism for many of its human-rights stances, would be cowed by this. It only encourages Japan’s rabid right to become more reactionary in regards to international criticism — because oversight bodies will possibly retreat if the Abe Admin kicks up a fuss.

When I asked the author a bit more about the reasoning of the UN committee members, he said that nobody on the committee would discuss it with him.  He said he was told that it became a distraction from the report, so they dropped it. Supposedly they felt this was an issue for Japan, not the UN.

Wow, that’s awfully generous. I can imagine numerous countries making the same argument — this contentious point is merely a “distraction” so drop it. Once again, Japan gets geopolitically kid-gloved.  What’s next:  Japan protests UN criticism of its “Japanese Only” practices as “totally inappropriate”?  Actually, Japan essentially has (see also book “Embedded Racism” Ch. 8), but not to the point of the UN withdrawing its criticism.  Yet.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

===================================
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Roger Schreffler: Fukushima Official Disaster Report E/J translation differences: Blaming “Japanese culture” an “invention” of PR manager Kurokawa Kiyoshi, not in Japanese version (which references TEPCO’s corporate culture) (UPDATED)

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Hi Blog.  Just before the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima Disasters, let’s revisit a topic Debito.org covered some years ago in this blog post:

Parliamentary Independent Investigation Commission Report on Fukushima Disaster “Made in Japan”: ironies of different Japanese and English versions (Debito.org, July 16, 2012).

Veteran journalist Roger Schreffler has contacted Debito.org to release the following information about the snow job that the person heading up the investigation, a Mr. Kurokawa Kiyoshi, carried out when this report was released in English blaming “Japanese culture” for the disasters (he also blamed foreign inspectors, believe it or not).  It’s a supreme example of successful Gaijin Handling, and most of the overseas media bought into it.  But not everyone, as Roger exposes below.  Read on.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

DISCLAIMER appended March 12, 2016 JST:  Debito.org has given this issue space because 1) one of our missions is to provide a voice to underrepresented views, 2) we have reported in the past that having two different versions of the Fukushima Report based on language was odd, and 3) Roger has made his claims under his name and is thus taking responsibility for the contents.  The reportage culture of the FCCJ is also coming under scrutiny in this post, and as a former member of the FCCJ myself I have been a target of bullying and censorship, so it is possible there may be a “there” there in this case.  That said, the views below are Roger’s, and not necessarily those of Debito.org as a whole.  Moreover, again, Roger has put his name to his views to take responsibility, and those who do not comment under their actual names will not have their comments approved IF they direct their criticisms at people by name.  Thus commenters’ names and their claims will be subject to the same level of scrutiny as the names they mention.  (That means in the comments section, “War Dog” has had his posts edited or deleted for engaging in personal attacks.)

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
March 8, 2016
Dear Debito,

I don’t think we’ve met, but I am aware of who you are because I authorized an invitation for you to speak at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan between 2000 and 2005.

I believe the following information may be of interest to you. The Fukushima commission never concluded that Japanese culture caused the Daiichi plant meltdown.

Kiyoshi Kurokawa worked with a PR consultant, Carlos Ghosn’s former speechwriter, and altered the preface to the overseas edition of the report.

More than 100 media organizations, mostly unwittingly, quoted Kurokawa’s introduction as if it were part of the official report. It was not, of course.

I pitched my article to the press club’s Board of Directors. No response. So now I’m doing it the old-fashioned way – contacting everyone who erroneously reported individually.

Kiyoshi Kurokawa will speak at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on Thursday, March 10, the day before the fifth anniversary of the 3/11 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear accident.

Kurokawa spoke at the club in July 2012 as chair of a parliamentary commission set up to investigate the causes of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. More than 150 foreign news organizations, government agencies and NGOs attributed blame to ‘Japanese culture’.

It was an invention.

Nowhere in the 641-page main report and 86-page executive summary can one find the widely quoted expressions “Made in Japan disaster” and “ingrained conventions of Japanese culture (including) reflexive obedience, groupism and insularity.”

In fact, all references to culture (文化) involve TEPCO – TEPCO’s corporate culture, TEPCO’s organizational culture, and TEPCO’s safety culture.

It turns out that Kurokawa retained a PR consultant to hype the report’s English edition for overseas distribution including to foreign media organizations such as AFP, BBC, CNN, Fox News and more than 100 others (see attached list).

I have reported this matter to the Board of Directors of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan because the consultant, a former speechwriter for Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, was working as publisher and editor of the club’s magazine at the time of the news conference; in fact, on the day of the news conference.

It may be true that Japanese culture is to blame for the Fukushima disaster. But it isn’t what the commission concluded and submitted formally (in Japanese) to the Diet on July 5, 2012.

Attached are records showing the commission’s hiring and financial relationship with the consultant (click on links to pdf files):
1. Attachments for report

2. Kurokawa statements in Fukushima commission report

3. media outlets fukushima

4. Attachment 1..

I have downplayed the FCCJ’s involvement because it is my hope that the club’s Board of Directors will address this matter in an open and transparent way. Unfortunately, the current BOD is under attack because they settled three litigations last December (two by staff and one by members) over the firing of 50 employees.

I proposed an article to the club’s magazine in August 2013 in which I summarized evidence that had been submitted to the courts. I was refused. But had the magazine published my article, there is a good chance that the lawsuits could have been settled then, saving the club nearly ¥25 million in legal fees. That’s nearly $200,000.

This time again, I have asked for space in the magazine. No response.

If you read the club’s notice, you won’t find a single reference to the fact that Kurokawa hired a club fiduciary to help alter an official, taxpayer-funded report. Or that there was controversy over the translation.

http://www.fccj.or.jp/events-calendar/press-events/icalrepeat.detail/2016/03/10/3955/-/press-conference-kiyoshi-kurokawa-author-of-capture-of-regulatory.html

Mure Dickie of the Financial Times is the only reporter who reported the translation discrepancies on the day of the FCCJ news conference: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/94fba34a-c8ee-11e1-a768-00144feabdc0.html

Dickie, of course, didn’t know that these weren’t ‘translation’ mistakes.

It is not uncommon for newsmakers to hire PR consultants to help with their messaging. What is uncommon – and almost without precedent – is for the consultant to be an editor of a publication that has an interest in the news event in question – and that publishes a report about that event.

As you are aware, Asahi Shimbun took a brutal beating for altering the testimony of the late Masao Yoshida, the Fukushima Daiichi plant manager.

How is this different?

Kurokawa signed off on the rewrite; it wasn’t a translation. But the commission didn’t approve. I contacted the commission two weeks after the news conference. They said: “Refer to the Japanese, the official.”

The club’s magazine was founded by two AP legends – Max Desfor (pictured on the lobby wall with his Pulitzer Prize winning Korean War photograph) and John Roderick (pictured with Mao Zedong).

I shudder to think of what they would say if they knew that the magazine was now in the hands of a PR specialist and a one-time tabloid magazine editor who, by extension, now decide what constitutes ‘news’.

For your reference: I am a 30-year veteran journalist, have never worked for a major news organization though did plenty of freelance work. I also served as FCCJ president (once), vice president (twice) and BOD director (twice). I chaired the club’s speaker program for five years and signed off on 800 press luncheons including the last sitting Japanese prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, on Sept. 14, 2001.

Sincerely, Roger Schreffler, Providence RI & Tokyo

ENDS

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

FCCJ Writeup on Kurokawa Kiyoshi Presser on March 10, 2016:

Thursday, March 10, 2016, 12:00 – 13:00

5th Anniversary Series for 3.11 Disaster 

FCCJKurokawaKiyoshi031016
Kiyoshi Kurokawa
Author of “Regulatory Capture”
Language: The speech and Q & A will be in English.

http://www.fccj.or.jp/events-calendar/press-events/icalrepeat.detail/2016/03/10/3955/-/press-conference-kiyoshi-kurokawa-author-of-capture-of-regulatory.html

 Five years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan is in the process of restarting more reactors and has made some progress in the cleanup and decommissioning of the wrecked plant. Meanwhile, there are still some 100,000 evacuees from around the Fukushima site.

 A new independent nuclear watchdog has also been set up along with new regulations prompted by Fukushima. But the Nuclear Regulatory Authority is under pressure from politicians and utilities to process restart applications more quickly and to be less strict on seismic issues and other matters. Equally important are the questions as to what lessons plant operators have learned from the unprecedented triple meltdown. Recent problems with restarts and disclosure by the utilities, among other issues, aren’t reassuring.

 At this critical juncture, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, the former chairman of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, will come to the Club to talk about his new book “Regulatory Capture,” and answer questions about what has happened since the Fukushima accident. In the introduction to his 2012 Diet report, Kurokawa was scathing in his criticism of regulators and utilities, saying, “It was a profoundly man‐made disaster – that could and should have been foreseen and prevented.”

 In his new book, in addition to describing the set up of the commission and its investigation of the Fukushima accident, he talks about Japan not learning the necessary lessons from it and applying them to prevent accidents in the future.”

 “If there are major accidents or problems in areas other than nuclear power, Japan will make the same mistakes again, become isolated and lose the trust of the international community. The Fukushima nuclear accident is not over yet. Japan must seize the opportunity to change itself, or else its future will be in danger,” he says.

 Dr. Kurokawa, MD and MACP, is an adjunct professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, chairman of the Health and Global Policy Institute, chairman of the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund and professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo.Please reserve in advance, 3211-3161 or on the website (still & TV cameras inclusive). Reservations and cancellations are not complete without confirmation.

Professional Activities Committee

ENDS

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

UPDATE MARCH 11, 2016 JST, FOLLOWING FCCJ PRESS CONFERENCE, FROM ROGER SCHREFFLER: 

Debito,

As a followup: The moderator asked Kurokawa [at the FCCJ on March 10, 2016) about the differences in the English and Japanese version of the report’s executive summary. Kurokawa admitted that the ‘content’ was different. What this means is that the content turned over to the Diet on July 5, 2012 (both houses) was different than what he reported to the nonJapanese-speaking world.

Listen for yourself to his answer [to a question from the AP, who moderated the meeting, available on the FCCJ website for members only.  Here’s an audio file of the question (an excerpt from minute 34 on the recording, for 3:26, in WMA format. Kurokawa press conference and .mp3 format:

where he now blames other factors on the outcome, such as a lack of time, him summarizing his own personal opinion for the report, and the lack of concision in the Japanese language.] 

Later on, Kurokawa equated his Japanese cultural references to Ruth Benedict, Samuel Huntington, Karel van Wolferen and John Dower.

Which leaves one unanswered question: Who wrote it?

The Associated Press followed up with a question about the translation team. Kurokawa mentioned an acquaintance of his, Sakon Uda, who was ‘managing director’ of the project and currently works for Keniichi Ohmae at Ohmae’s graduate school of business.

I don’t know if the AP will follow up. But the AP was one of only three media organizations, the other being the Financial Times and The New York Times, that pointed out discrepancies in the Japanese and English reports in summer 2012.

The rest – even those who attended Kurokawa’s July 6, 2012 news conference where he admitted to there being differences in the ‘translation’, but not ‘content’ – followed like a herd and didn’t report that there was a discrepancy between the ‘official’ and the one for ‘gaijin’.

Following is the translation of the official Japanese introduction. Kurokawa talks about ‘mindset’ (思いこみ and マインドセット) but not ‘culture’.

Best, Roger Schreffler

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

Preface of Kurokawa Kiyoshi’s Statements (from the full text)

THE FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI NUCLEAR POWER PLANT ACCIDENT IS NOT OVER.

This large-scale accident will forever remain part of the world’s history of nuclear power. The world was astounded at the fact that such an accident could occur in Japan, a scientifically and technologically advanced country. Caught in the focus of the world’s attention, the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) revealed, in their response to the disaster, some fundamental problems underlying Japanese society.

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was the third nuclear power plant to start commercial operation in Japan. Japan began to study the commercial use of nuclear power in the 1950s. Following the oil crisis of the 1970s, nuclear power generation became part of Japan’s national policy, unifying the political, bureaucratic, and business circles into one entity promoting its use.

Nuclear power is not only the most incredibly powerful energy ever acquired by the human race, but a colossally complicated system that requires extremely-high levels of expertise as well as operational and management competence. Advanced countries have learned lessons through experience and from many tragic events, including the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents. Authorities in charge of the world’s nuclear power have maintained a basic stance of protecting people and the environment from all sorts of accidents and disasters, while nuclear operators have evolved in sustaining and enhancing the safety of equipment and operations.

Japan has itself dealt with a number of nuclear power plant accidents, small and large. Most of these were responded to, but without sufficient transparency; sometimes they were concealed by the organizations concerned. The government, together with TEPCO, the largest of the country’s ten utilities, promoted nuclear power by advocating its use as a safe energy source, while maintaining that accidents could not occur in Japan.

Consequently, the Japanese nuclear power plants were to face the March 11 earthquake totally unprepared.

Why did this accident, which should have been foreseeable, actually occur? The answer to this question dates to the time of Japan’s high economic growth. As Japan pushed nuclear power generation as national policy with the political, bureaucratic, and business circles in perfect coordination, an intricate form of “Regulatory Capture” was created.

The factors that contributed to this include: the political dominance by a single party for nearly half a century; the distinct organizational structure of both the bureaucratic and business sectors, characterized by the hiring of new university graduates as a group; the seniority-based promotion system; the lifetime employment system; and the “mindset” of the Japanese people that took these for granted. As the economy developed, Japan’s “self- confidence” started to develop into “arrogance and conceit.”

The “single-track elites”—who make their way to the top of their organization according to the year of their entry into the company or the ministry—pursued the critical mission of abiding by precedent and defending the interests of their organization. They assigned a higher priority to this mission over that of protecting the lives of the people. Hence, while being aware of the global trends in safety control, Japan buried its head in the sand and put off implementing necessary safety measures.

We do not question the exceptional challenge entailed in the response to the vast scale of the disaster created by the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear accident on March 11, 2012. Furthermore, we understand that the accident occurred a mere eighteen months after the historical change in power, the birth of a new (non-Liberal Democratic Party) government for the first time in some fifty years.

Were the government, regulators and the operator prepared to respond to a severe nuclear accident? Did they truly understand the weight of responsibility they bore in their respective positions? And were they fully committed to fulfill those responsibilities? To the contrary, they showed questionable risk management capabilities by repeatedly saying that circumstances were “beyond assumptions” and “not confirmed yet.” This attitude actually exacerbated the damage that eventually impacted not only Japan, but the world at large. Undeniably, this accident was a “manmade disaster” that stemmed from the lack of a sense of responsibility in protecting the lives of the people and the society by present and past government administrations, regulators and TEPCO.

Nine months after this massive accident, the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission was established by a unanimous resolution of both the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors of the National Diet, which represent the people of Japan. It is the first investigation commission in Japan’s history of constitutional government, and is independent both from the government and from the operator, as set up under the National Diet of Japan.

To investigate what was at the center of this accident, we could not but touch upon the root of the problems of the former regulators and their relationship structure with the operators. The Commission chose three keywords as the bases of our investigative activities: the people, the future and the world. We defined our mission with phrases such as “conducting an investigation on the accident by the people for the people,” and “to submit recommendations for the future based on the lessons learned from the mistakes,” and “to investigate from the standpoint of Japan’s status as a member of international society (Japan’s responsibility to the world.)” This report is the fruit of six months of investigative activities carried through with a few constraints.

About a century ago, Kanichi Aasakawa, a great historian born and raised in Fukushima, blew the whistle in a book titled Nihon no kaki (“Crisis for Japan”). It was a wake-up call concerning the state model of Japan after the victory in the Japanese-Russo War. In his book, he accurately predicted the path that Japan, with its “inability to change,” would take after the war’s end.

How now will Japan deal with the aftermath of this catastrophe, which occurred as a result of Japan’s “inability to change”? And how will the country, in fact, change subsequently? The world is closely watching Japan, and we, the Japanese people, must not throw this experience away. It is an opportunity, in turn, to drastically reform the government that failed to protect the livelihood of its people, the nuclear organizations, the social structure, and the “mindset” of the Japanese—thereby regaining confidence in the country. We hope this report serves as the first step for all Japanese to evaluate and transform ourselves in terms of the state model that Japan should pursue.

Last but not least, I strongly hope from the bottom of my heart that the people of Fukushima—particularly the children upon whose shoulders rest the future of Japan—will be able to resume their lives of peace as soon as possible. I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to the people all over of the world who extended their warm assistance and encouragement in the wake of this devastating accident. My sincere thanks also go to the many people who kindly cooperated and supported our investigation, the members of the Diet who unswervingly strove to make this National Diet’s investigation commission a reality, and all the staff of the commission office for their many days and nights of work.

Kiyoshi Kurokawa
ENDS

JT: Japan’s public baths hope foreign tourists and residents will keep taps running; oh, the irony!

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s another quick one that’s just dying for a shout-out specially on Debito.org for its delightful irony:

In yet another example of how Japan’s economy is not going to save itself unless it allows in and unlocks the potential of its foreign residents, here we have the flashpoint issue for “Japanese Only” signposted exclusionism: public baths (sento or onsen).  As per the Otaru Onsens Case (which has inspired two books), we had people who did not “look Japanese” (including native-born and naturalized Japanese citizens) being refused by xenophobic and racist bathhouse managers just because they could (there is no law against it in Japan).

Now, according to the Japan Times below (in a woefully under-researched article), the bathhouse industry is reporting that they are in serious financial trouble (examples of this were apparent long ago:  here’s one in Wakkanai, Hokkaido that refused “foreigners” until the day it went bankrupt).  And now they want to attract foreign tourists.  It’s a great metaphor for Japan’s lack of an immigration policy in general:  Take their money (as tourists or temporary laborers), but don’t change the rules so that they are protected against wanton discrimination from the locals.  It’s acceptance with a big, big asterisk.

Admittedly, this is another step in the right direction.  But it’s one that should have been done decades ago (when we suggested that bathhouse rules simply be explained with multilingual signs; duh).  But alas, there’s no outlawing the racists in Japan, so this is one consequence.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan’s public baths hope foreign tourists will help keep the taps running
BY SATOKO KAWASAKI, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
THE JAPAN TIMES, JANUARY 5, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/01/05/national/japans-public-baths-hope-foreign-tourists-will-help-keep-the-taps-running/

Japan’s public baths, known as sento, represent an institution with hundreds of years of history. They provided an important public service in the days before homes had their own hot-water bathtubs.

Sento can range in style from simple hot springs piped into a large tub to modern facilities resembling theme parks and offering a range of therapies.

In the Edo Period (1603-1868), sento were so popular that every town had on. They were important centers of the community.

Sento are on the decline both because homes now have fully fledged bathrooms and because retiring operators find it hard to find successors to take on their businesses. There are now around 630 establishments in Tokyo, down from 2,700 in 1968, a peak year for sento.

Faced with this trend, the Tokyo Sento Association is trying to tap demand from non-Japanese residents and tourists.

It has installed explanatory signs at each facility showing non-Japanese speakers how to use a sento in five languages. It also plans to create an app for people to search for sento in English.

ENDS