Meeting with US Embassy Tokyo Sept. 9, 2010 regarding State Dept. Country Reports on Human Rights

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Hello Blog. Yesterday three friends and I visited the US Embassy in Tokyo to discuss employment and other issues of discrimination in Japan. The consular official who received us, a Mr Thomas Whitney, kindly gave us 90 minutes to give as much information as we liked for consideration in the US State Department Country Reports on Human Rights, an annual report given by the USG on individual countries that has in past years included information on even the Otaru Onsens Case (thanks). What follows are the summaries provided in advance of what we would say:

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Workplace Apartheid in Japan
by Louis Carlet
Executive President
Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union (“Tozen”)

www.tokyogeneralunion.org
See also Wikipedia article for Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union

Segregation of the workplace is standard practice in Japan, with open discrimination against foreigners. The following focuses on the conditions of foreign teachers, including US citizens.

Three types of foreign teachers predominate: English conversation, public and private school teachers and university teachers. All three groups are regularly kept out of Japan’s public health and pension system (“shakai hoken”) despite clear laws requiring enrollment.

This leads to serious problems in the event of sickness, injury or retirement. Hospitals provide inferior or no care to patients outside the system. Employees are deprived of sick pay guaranteed by the government Retirees find themselves with no pension benefits after decades of service.

Under pressure from unions and human rights groups to address the non-enrollment crisis in conversation schools, the Social Insurance Agence issued an openly discriminatory directive on May 19, 2005 targeting “foreign teachers.” By making it more difficult to enroll in shakai hoken, the SIA encouraged illegal non-enrollment of foreign teachers.

ALTs meanwhile are caught up in a system of fake-outsourcing (giso ukeoi). Schools outsource teaching of English to private firms offering the lowest bid. This results in a race to the bottom as well as non-enrollment in shakai hoken and unemployment insurance. Schools then shirk all employment responsibilty in the event problems arise.

ALT morale is extremely low as they are treated far worse than Japanese teachers literally standing next to them at the podium.

Finally, university teachers are openly given contracts “for foreigners” that lack all benefits that most teachers have. They receive a high per-class wage but nothing for work outside of class. Further, many foreign teachers are told they must leave after three, five or nine years, apparently because foreigners tend to lose their just-off-the-boat freshness.

Americans and other foreigners who teach in Japan find it nearly impossible to procure a steady job with normal benefits that Japanese teachers enjoy. The government refuses to take the action needed to move toward equality.

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Summary

In 1992 I was hired by the University of Tokyo, the premier university of Japan, as the sole American lecturer. My contract specified exactly that I was hired as a citizen of the USA. My contract was a yearly one which was renewed 17 times.

I inquired about the pension situation, as was informed that at the end of 17 years of service, I would be eligible for an annuity funded by the government of Japan.

During 17 years I carried out my duties, taught pro bono several graduate courses, and represented the university in over ten publications and 8 international conferences as well as teaching courses with specific American content.

In 2005 I was informed that I would not be getting the annuity. It was allocated in a random fashion to five other nationals, myself and my Austrian colleague not being deemed eligible for the annuity. There were no clear criteria on why certain nationals received the annuity and certain other nationals did not. This in itself constituted a clear discrimination based on the Japanese Labor Standards.

I continued working until 2010 at the university and completed the required 17 years.

My main issue is not a specific labor issue (this is being addressed through a union), but the completely discriminatory manner in which certain nationals were arbitrarily excluded from the annuity due to them. The exclusion by nationality constitutes a grave human rights violation based on both international law and Japanese law. Of course, it was discriminataion in that as a foreigner I was not placed in an obligatory national pension scheme to start with.

This is a very brief summary.
Frances Fister-Stoga

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Summary:

The Japanese Government (GOJ) has a history of not abiding by its treaty obligations. With “Japanese Only” signs and rules in businesses nationwide (despite unlawfulness under both the Japanese Constitution and the UN CERD) and clear and present inequality towards non-Japanese in both the workplace and in protections under the law, Japan still has no national law with penalties against racial discrimination. The GOJ continues to make arguments to the UN against adopting one (i.e., freedom of speech and the efficacy of the Japanese judiciary for redress), while abuses towards non-Japanese and ethnically-diverse Japanese worsen (e.g., new and overt examples of hate speech and xenophobia, racist statements by politicians and media, even targeting of naturalized citizens for suspicion and exclusion). The GOJ has had more than a decade (having effected the CERD in 1996) to make legislative attempts to rectify this system, and its negligence presents ill precedent for abiding under future treaty signings (such as the Hague Convention on Child Abductions). Friends must help friends break bad habits, and gentle international pressure to assist the GOJ under a new reformist administration move in the right direction is a good thing for all concerned.

Arudou Debito

NB: Since our focus was on employment issues, I cited my experiences with TADD and Ambassador Mondale back in 1995 (See Ivan Hall CARTELS OF THE MIND), and the systematic full-time contracting of NJ in academia as witnessed through the Blacklist of Japanese Universities. I also mentioned that the GOJ has constantly refused attempts to release hard numbers on how many NJ academics in Japan have contracts vs tenure compared to Japanese academics getting contracts vs tenure (see more on this Academic Apartheid here). I also tied everyone’s presentations at the end with a request for USG visits to the Ministries of Education and Labor (following on Mondale’s precedent), to express awareness of the problem and the desire for proper enforcement of existing labor laws (if not the creation of a law against racial discrimination).  Finally, I gave Mr Whitney the FRANCA handouts I gave the United Nations last March regarding general issues of discrimination in Japan (here and here).

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Our fourth friend, Tokyo CalBear, talked about his experiences with arbitrary dismissals at the workplace and child abductions. I have no provided summary.

We’ll see how this comes out in next year’s State Department Country Report. Our thanks to the US Embassy Japan for hearing us out. Arudou Debito in Tokyo

March 29, 2010 JIPI speech on why Japan needs immigration: Download my powerpoint presentation here (Japanese)

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Hi Blog.  My FRANCA speech yesterday for JIPI went very well, with me reading my slides in Japanese probably the most comfortably ever (I felt I was really “in the zone”).  This blog entry is to make my powerpoint presentation public for download:

http://www.debito.org/JIPI032910.ppt

About 120 slides in Japanese (not all are visible, I hid about a third), making the case that Japan needs immigration, and presenting things in terms of “give and take” — what the GOJ must offer immigrants to make them come and stay, and what immigrants must do to make themselves assimilatable and contributing to this society.

Photos from the event:

Mr Sakanaka tells a joke about Debito.  Can’t remember what.

One of many, many slides, presenting irrefutable arguments…

Not a full house, but plenty of very attentive, earnest people.

I’ll also be at JIPI most of the time every day until Saturday.  If you’d like to have a chat with Mr Sakanaka with an introduction from me, do be in touch (debito@debito.org) and drop by.

Arudou Debito in Tokyo

Mar 27 2010 NGO FRANCA Tokyo meeting minutes

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Hi Blog.  Here is an abridged version of the NGO FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association) minutes I sent out today, regarding our exceptional Tokyo meeting last night in International House, Roppongi.  It was a full house, with fifteen attendees, four of whom became dues-paying members.  People attending were from a variety of backgrounds, from corporate to techie to journalist to academic to relative newcomer.

We got a lot discussed.  We had so many voices describing their experiences in Japan (from employment issues to bike and passport checks to child abductions to domestic politics) that it was difficult to get through my powerpoint!  (I did, and you can download it revised at http://www.debito.org/FRANCA.ppt.

We added to the list of proposed projects.  In addition to the ones put up at Sendai FRANCA:

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POSSIBLE PROJECTS FOR NGO FRANCA:
— Having all family members of household listed on jūminhyō Residency Certificate regardless of nationality (currently under GOJ revision, proposed changes by July 2012).
— Having koseki Family Registry forms include NJ under spouse column.
— Eliminating requirements for jōji keitai, 24/7 carrying of the “Gaijin Card”, must present to authorities within set time period (3 days?).
— Other letter writing campaigns (e.g. Sumo Association) as issues come up.
— Allow for flexibility in registration and naming systems to reflect ethnic diversity (spellings, order, middle names for Double children).  Let us decide our official identity.
— Include optional question about ethnicity (not just nationality) in National Census.
— Law against Racial Discrimination.
— Survey on rental refusals (us or GOJ?)
— List of small issues you can say in passing to GOJ bureaucrats, as “pinprick protests”?
— Stop border fingerprinting discrimination for all visa holders, esp. Permanent Residents (make universal for Japanese citizens too?)
— Allow dual nationality even after naturalization.
— Stop arbitrary street “Gaijin Card” checkpoints by police, bring into line with Police Execution of Duties Law for questioning J citizens.
— Send positive stories of Non Native Japanese doing community activities to media (local papers), hope they take the story (we need more positive engagement with J society, not just “whining”)

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We added:
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— Push for more accountability from police (keisatsu techō), provide cop names, record of stoppage.  Website survey of people stopped?
— Suffrage for NJ PR in local elections.
— Public statement on international child abduction and joint custody after divorces.
— Cooperation with unions on labor issues.
— List of FRANCA positions on social issues E&J

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We obviously have a lot of ideas out there.  There is no order of priority.  Just who’s motivated enough to lead the project and take something up.  Others that see something they think also ought to be on the drawing board, join our group and offer input!

We then repaired for drinks in Roppongi.  I got home at 3AM last night.  One of our group is a former bartender, and knew how to keep us drinking (thanks, I think!?!).

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

Again, if you need to know more about FRANCA, or would like to tell others about it, see our websites and download our powerpoint. http://www.debito.org/FRANCA.ppt

This powerpoint makes all the arguments I would if you met me face to face and needed convincing. Have a look. There are lots of hidden slides.

Bring me down for a speech sometime (I’ll probably be on the road again around August, so you don’t need to pay travel expenses), and I’ll try to convince you and your friends too that we need FRANCA and that we need you to be a part of it.

Anyway, thanks for reading! Arudou Debito, NGO FRANCA Chair

Two upcoming speeches, Sat eve FRANCA, Mon eve JIPI, both Tokyo

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Hi Blog.  Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet recently (but I gave fair warning).  Spent five hours on the shinkansen yesterday getting to and from my annual guest lecture at Shiga Daigaku on Japan’s internationalization etc.  Nice young folks, had a good day, and a nice cheese fondue with Belgian beer in the evening.

Anyway, today’s entry is to invite you to two more speeches, one Saturday evening, one Monday evening, both in Tokyo.

The Saturday evening one will be a FRANCA meeting in the newly-refurbished International House in Roppongi.  Details as follows:

FRANCA Tokyo Meeting Saturday March 27, 2010; 6PM-9PM International House of Japan 5-11-16 Roppongi Minato-ku, Tokyo Meeting Name – FRANCA How to get there at http://www.i-house.or.jp/en/ihj/access.html

Topics: Membership, Why FRANCA?, and perhaps what to do about the recent Sumo Association rules that say that naturalized sumo wrestlers are also to be counted as the one “foreign” wrestler allowed in sumo stables. More on that here: http://www.debito.org/?p=6085

Also, we’ll be asking for more input on topics discussed at the March 21, 2010 Sendai FRANCA meeting, which are outlined at http://www.debito.org/?p=6249

http://www.francajapan.org/index.php/Main_Page#Upcoming_Meetings

The Monday evening one will be me speaking for the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, headed by Sakanaka Hidenori, where I am currently interning.  I will be speaking to whomever will listen on why we need immigration to Japan.  It’s a brand new speech (I’m still writing up the powerpoint), and details on that follow in Japanese.

MON MAR 29 JIPI SPEECH IN JAPANESE

■日時: 2010年3月29日(月)19時~21時(予定)

■会場: 港区勤労福祉会館 第一集会室

■講師: 有道出人 (あるどう でびと)

■テーマ: 「移民の必要性―あるべき姿」

■アクセス: 都営地下鉄A7出口より徒歩1分/JR田町駅西口(三田口)より徒歩5分

主催:一般社団法人移民政策研究所所長(JIPI)

That’s from 7PM at the Minato-ku Roudou Fukushi Kaikan, five minutes from JR Tamachi Mita Guchi Station.  Don’t be deterred by the fact I’ll be speaking in Japanese.  Please come on by and have a listen.  There will of course be lots of visuals too with the powerpoint.

Hope to see you there!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

FRANCA meeting with UN Rep Bustamante yesterday: How it went, with photos

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  As you know, as representative of NGO FRANCA I met with Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Dr Jorge A. Bustamante on March 23, 2010. Here’s a briefing:

Starting from 9AM at one of the Diet Lower House meeting rooms, I sat in as Amnesty International Japan and Solidarity with Migrants Japan made their cases about how NJ are being treated badly by the media, the government, and labor policy. Dr Bustamante asked a lot of questions and wanted statistics, particularly about the death rates for migrant workers (we were all surprised; he said that in other developed countries those statistics were available at the government level, something inconceivable to us). After 45 minutes, he went off to meetings with GOJ officials.

We were supposed to meet again for another 45 minutes from 1PM, but Dr Bustamante arrived more than twenty minutes late. (This is a typical GOJ trick so the NGOs get less time; if NGOs go overtime, they become the object of criticism, but if the GOJ goes overtime, nobody complains but the NGOs.) A representative from the Zainichi Koreans, an academic from Korea University (Kodaira, Tokyo) named Mr RYOM Munsong, kept his speech to 12 minutes, I kept mine to twelve as well (we had timers), and mixed our powerpoint with movie and speech.

As far as I went, I was able to squeeze in my full introduction and two of my five bullet issues, then had to skip to the end with the entreaty to not see NJ as “temporary migrant workers” but “immigrants” (read entire speech here). But I was very disappointed that we had virtually no time for Q&A (Dr Bustamante looked tired), and that all that preparation was cut short because we were keeping our promises with the scheduling and the GOJ was not.

Some photos from the proceedings:

Morning session with Dr. Bustamante [removed by request]:

Afternoon session:

Mr RYOM Munsong from Korea University gives his powerpoint.  I sit back and get out of the way so the media could film him.  Note fat blue folder on table just itching to be given to Dr. Bustamante.

Then I’m on:

Second from right is Dr Bustamante, with Ms Valentina Milano, Human Rights Officer, OHCHR.

I have to barnstorm through; I finish in 12 minutes 58.9 seconds.  Note mp3 recorder and iPod timer.  I’ll have a recording of my speech as my next DEBITO.ORG PODCAST up in a couple of weeks.  If you want to see the powerpoint for yourselves, click http://www.debito.org/FRANCABustamantepresentation032310.ppt.  Table of contents with links to all articles at http://www.debito.org/?p=6201.

The good news is that everything I wanted to say, even if i did not say it, is on paper or online.  Everything, including that fat folder, is now in Dr Bustamante’s hands.

It’s heavy schlepping this around Japan.

Genuine Monbetsu “Japanese Only” sign enclosed as a souvenir.

Everything completely indexed and categorized for ease of reading.

This is FRANCA at work.  Join us for our meeting this coming Saturday in Tokyo.

I was a bit dejected, so to make sure the day wasn’t a total wipeout, I went to the Diet building (they’ve only recently opened up tours of the Lower House) and took a free hourlong tour.

It wasn’t much (the Upper House, which I’ve done three times, is much better, and much friendlier), as the cop who acted as our tour guide was practically inaudible, and the attitude was “let’s get this crowd out of here as quickly as possible” (I happened to join three tour busses; the Hato Bus tour guide also agreed the Upper House is much better).  Then I came back to Gotanda, had authentic Chinese takeout, and retired to write this all up.

I’ll probably be attending more meetings with NGOs tomorrow as an observer.  If there is anything of note, or any statements from the NGOs they want made public here, I’ll have them up soon.

Thanks to everyone for your input!

Arudou Debito in Tokyo

FRANCA Sendai Meeting Proceedings, Photos and Project Ideas

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Hi Blog.  We had a NGO FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association) meeting last Sunday in Sendai.  We’ll be having another one this coming Saturday evening in Tokyo, so if you like what you read below, please consider coming to our meeting and joining our group.

FRANCA Chair Arudou Debito gave a presentation on what FRANCA is and what it’s doing.  (You can download that presentation at http://www.debito.org/FRANCA.ppt)

Attendees were
FRANCA Sendai Chair Ben Shearon
Riji Ryan Hagglund
Guest and new FRANCA Member Shaun Dyer
and Chair Arudou Debito

We had a very productive meeting, talking for more than three hours on various aspects of making life better in Japan for NJ and NNJ (Non Native Japanese — an abbreviation I doubt will catch on).  We came up with the following ideas for projects:

PROPOSED FRANCA PROJECTS

  • Having all family members of household listed on jūminhyō Residency Certificate regardless of nationality (currently under GOJ revision, proposed changes by July 2012).
  • Having koseki Family Registry forms include NJ under spouse column.
  • Eliminating requirements for jōji keitai, 24/7 carrying of the “Gaijin Card”, must present to authorities within set time period (3 days?).
  • Other letter writing campaigns (e.g. Sumo Association) as issues come up.
  • Stop border fingerprinting for all visa holders, esp. Permanent Residents.
  • Allow dual nationality even after naturalization.
  • Stop street “Gaijin Card” checkpoints by police, bring into line with Police Execution of Duties Law for questioning J citizens.
  • Send positive stories of NNJ doing community activities to media (local papers), hope they take the story (we need more positive engagement with J society, not just “whining”).
  • Allow for flexibility in registration and naming systems to reflect ethnic diversity (spellings, order, middle names for Double children).  Let us decide our official identity.
  • Include optional question about ethnicity (not just nationality) in National Census.
  • A Law against Racial Discrimination.
  • Survey on rental refusals (us or GOJ?)
  • List of small issues you can say in passing to GOJ bureaucrats, as “pinprick protests”?

The last item, “pinprick protests”, was the most inspiring to me.  It’s a list of little ways that we all can just register small protests orally and/or in writing, on the spot when we encounter an inconvenience or a targeting.  For example, when you get border fingerprinted, say a little something, or hand over a small piece of paper in Japanese, registering your displeasure with the process.  Or when a bank calls you for ask what your most recent overseas money transfer is for (because the presumption is that NJ bank accounts receiving money from overseas must be doing money laundering), say this or that in Japanese.  Or police racial profiling, or Gaijin Card checks by hotels or video stores, or anything else that systematically treats us as somehow less trustworthy or equal compared with the rest of the Japanese population.  We can register a little “I don’t really like this treatment” in comfortable Japanese.

Enough of these little “pinprick” protests and it becomes mendoukusai for the enforcers to have to deal with us.  It’s already showing when you see apologetic border control bureaucrats (yes!), and hotel clerks who check us less and less frequently.  We should stand up for ourselves more, and encourage others to do so.  I will create an artery site a la debito.org/whattodoif.html called debito.org/pinprickprotests.html, offer downloadable bilingual text, and devote a blog entry to each category, linking them all together over time.  Contributions welcome.

As for the suggestions for projects above, please come and comment at this coming Saturday’s Tokyo FRANCA meeting, and let’s get a good lot of ideas circulating.

Thanks for reading!  Arudou Debito, FRANCA Chair, in Tokyo, speaking to the UN today.

Rough draft text of my speech to UN Rep Bustamante Mar 23 in Tokyo

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Hi Blog. What follows is a rough draft of the text of the speech I’ll be giving on Tues, March 23, before a United Nations rep. I have twenty minutes tops. I read this at a normal pace aloud today and it came about sixteen minutes. Eight pages, 2500 words, written in a conversational style. FYI. Thanks for your support, and see you at the upcoming FRANCA meetings this Sunday and next Saturday. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Statements to Mr Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, in Tokyo, March 23, 2010, by ARUDOU Debito, Chair, Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (FRANCA, www.francajapan.org), regarding racial discrimination in Japan.

This document may be downloaded at http://www.debito.org/ArudouBustamantestatement032310.doc

The powerpoint accompanying this presentation may be downloaded at http://www.debito.org/FRANCABustamantepresentation032310.ppt

Table of contents for the belowmentioned “blue folder” with links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=6201


First, let me thank Mr. Bustamante and the United Nations for their attention to the situation of minorities and disenfranchised peoples in Japan.  There are very few effective forums in Japan for us to take our grievances, and we all very much appreciate the Special Rapporteur hearing as many sides of the story as possible.

I wish to focus on the situation of peoples of “foreign” origin and appearance, such as White and non-Asian peoples like me, and how we tend to be treated in Japanese society.  Put simply, we are not officially registered or even counted sometimes as genuine residents.  We are not treated as taxpayers, not protected as consumers, not seen as ethnicities even in the national census.  We not even regarded as deserving of the same human rights as Japanese, according to government-sponsored opinion polls and human rights surveys (blue folder items I-1, I-6 and III-6).  This view of “foreigner” as “only temporary in Japan” is a blind spot even the United Nations seems to share, but I’ll get that later.

Here is a blue 500-page information folder I will give you after my talk, with primary source materials, articles, reference papers, and testimonials from other people in Japan who would like their voice heard.  It will substantiate what I will be saying in summary below.

To start off, here is an overview of our presence in Japan.  According to official figures, the number of Non-Japanese on 3-month visas and up in Japan has grown since 1990 from about one million to over two million.  The number of Permanent Residents has reached record numbers, of over one million.  In other words, about half of all registered Non-Japanese in Japan can stay here permanently.  I would like to point out here how difficult it is to receive Permanent Residency in Japan.  It takes about five years if you are married to a Japanese, ten years if you are not.  The point is, a million Non-Japanese Permanent Residents are not a “temporary” segment of Japanese society.

Moreover, this does not count the estimated 300,000 to 500,000 naturalized Japanese citizens since the 1960’s.  I am one of those naturalized Japanese citizens.  Nor does this count the international families from Non-Japanese marrying Japanese.  We have about 40,000 international marriages every year, a significant increase from the 30,000 per year a decade ago.  If each couple has two children over their lifetime, which is not an unreasonable assumption, eventually that means 80,000 ethnically-diverse Japanese children.  Over ten years, that adds up to 800,000 – almost a million again.  However, not all of these children will “look Japanese”.

Sadly, we don’t know how many children, or people, of diverse backgrounds with Japanese citizenship are out there, because the Japanese Census does not survey for ethnicity.  The Japanese Census only surveys for nationality, despite our repeated requests for the census to reflect Japan’s diversity.  Meaning, when I fill out the Census, I write down “Japanese” for my nationality, but there is no way for me to indicate that I am a “Caucasian Japanese”, or an “Japanese of American extraction” (amerika kei nihonjin).  I believe this is by design, because the politics of identity in Japan are “monoculturality and monoethnicity”.  This is simply a fiction.  It wasn’t true in the past, and with modern Japan’s emerging immigration, assimilation, and ethnic diversity, it’s even less true now.  The official conflation of Japanese nationality and ethnicity is incorrect, and our government is willfully refusing to collect any data that would correct that.

The point is, the lines have blurred to the point where we cannot tell who is “Japanese” any more just by looking at them.  This means any time we have any distinctions made between “foreigner” and “Japanese”, be it police racial profiling or “Japanese Only” signs, it will also affect some Japanese citizens too.  This is why we need a law against racial discrimination in Japan – not only because it will help non-citizens assimilate into Japan, but also it will protect Japanese against xenophobia, bigotry, and exclusionism.  Discrimination that is “deep and profound”, and “practiced undisturbed in Japan”, according to UN Rapporteur Doudou Diene in 2005 and 2006[1].

At this point, I would like to show some differences in standpoint, between my esteemed colleagues and minorities being represented today, and the people I am trying to speak for.  The minorities in Japan as defined under the CERD, including the Ainu, the Ryūkyūans, the Zainichi Special Permanent Resident ethnic Koreans and Chinese, and the Burakumin, will be speaking to you this week and next as people who have been here for a long time, much longer than people like me, of course.  They make their claims based upon time-honored and genuine grievances that have never been properly redressed.  For ease of understanding, I will call some of them the “Oldcomers”.  I am here on behalf of what I will call the “Newcomers”, people who have come here from other countries relatively recently, to make a life in Japan.  Both “Oldcomers” and “Newcomers” contribute to Japanese society, including taxes, service, and culture.  But it is we “Newcomers” who really need the protections of a Japanese law against racial discrimination, because we, the people who are seen because of our skin color as “foreigners” in Japan, are often singled out and targeted for our own special variety of discriminatory treatment.

Here are examples I will talk briefly about now:

1) Discrimination in housing and accommodation

2) Racial Profiling by Japanese Police, through policies officially depicting Non-Japanese as criminals, terrorists, and carriers of infectious disease

3) Refusal to be registered or counted as residents by the Japanese Government

4) “Japanese Only” exclusions in businesses open to the public

5) Objects of unfettered hate speech

All of these examples are substantiated in the blue information folder, but again, words in brief about each item.

1) Discrimination in housing and accommodation

One of the first barriers many Newcomers face in Japan is the daunting prospect of finding an apartment.  According to the Mainichi Shimbun (Jan 8 2010[2]), on average in Tokyo it takes 15 visits to realtors for a Non-Japanese to find an apartment.   Common experience — and this is all we have because there is no government study of this problem — dictates that the agent generally phrases the issue to landlords as, “The renter is a foreigner, but is that okay?”  This overt discrimination happens with complete impunity in Japan.  One Osaka realtor[3] even advertises apartments as “gaijin allowed”, thus an option at odds with the status quo.  Again, there is no national government body collecting information on this problem, or hearing grievances.  The people who face discriminatory landlords can only take them to court.  This means years, money for lawyers and court fees, and an uncertain outcome, when all you need is a place to live, now.

Another issue is hotels.  They are expressly forbidden by the Hotel Management Law Article 5 to refuse customers unless rooms are full, there is a clear threat of contagious disease, or a clear threat to “public morals” (as in pornography).  However, government surveys, according to CNN et.al, (Oct 9, 2008[4]), indicate that 27% of all Japanese hotels don’t want foreign guests.  Not to be outdone, the Fukushima Prefecture Tourist Information website until last January advertised, as per their own preset options, that 318 of their member hotels were all refusing Non-Japanese[5], even though this is clearly illegal.  Thus even when a law technically forbids exclusionism, it is not enforced.  Excluders even get promoted by the authorities.

2) Racial Profiling by Japanese Police

Another rude awakening happens when you walk down the street.  Japanese police will stop you in public, sometimes rudely demand your ID card (which all foreigners – only — must carry at all times or face incarceration and criminal prosecution), and record your personal details.  This can be for walking while White, cycling while foreign-looking, using public transportation while multiethnic, or standing waiting for arrivals at airports while colored.  In one person’s case, he has been “carded”, sometimes through physical force, more than 50 times in one year, as of today exactly 125 times over ten years (blue folder item I-2).

The police claim they are hunting for foreign criminals and visa overstayers, or there are special security measures or campaigns in place, etc.  However, you can see in the blue folder, this is an extension of the depiction of Non-Japanese in official government policies as “terrorists, criminals, and carriers of infectious diseases” (items II-9 through 11).  None of these things are contingent on nationality.  Consequently, after 2007 all non-citizens must be fingerprinted every time they re-enter Japan.  This includes the “Newcomer” Permanent Residents, which goes farther than its model, the US-VISIT program this, which does not refingerprint Green Card holders.  The epitome of bad physical and social science must be the National Research Institute of Police Science, which has received years of government grants to research “foreign DNA”, for more effective racial profiling at crime scenes (see blue folder item II-2).

In sum, thanks to national policy justifying racial profiling, the Japanese police are seeing non-Japanese as “foreign agents” in both senses of the word.  They are systematically taking measures to deal with them as a social problem, not a fellow resident or immigrant.  Furthermore, it goes without saying that enforcement depends upon personal appearance, as I too have been racially profiled on several occasions by police in public.

3) Refusal to be counted as residents by the Japanese Government

It is too complicated to talk about fully here (see blue folder, item III-1), but Japan’s registration system, meaning the current Koseki Family Registry and the Jūminhyō Residency Certificate systems, refuse to list Non-Japanese as “spouse” — or even “family member”.  Because they are not citizens.  In sum, officially Non-Japanese residents are not “residents” (jūmin), even though they pay Residency Taxes (jūminzei) like anyone else.  Worse, some local governments (such as Tokyo Nerima Ward[6]) do not even count Non-Japanese in their population tallies.  This is the ultimate in invisibility, and it is government-sanctioned.

4) “Japanese Only” exclusions in businesses open to the public

Since Japan has no law against racial discrimination, there have been signs up nationwide at places open to the general public, saying “Japanese Only”, “No Foreigners allowed”, etc. (blue folder item III-1).  Places enforcing exclusionary rules include stores, restaurants, hotels, family public bathhouses, bars, discos, an eyeglass outlet, a ballet school, an internet café, a billiards hall, a women’s boutique, and a newspaper subscription service.  Nevertheless, the government has said repeatedly to the UN that we don’t a racial discrimination law because we have an effective judicial system.  That is untrue.  In the Otaru Onsens Case (1999-2005, blue folder items III-1 and III-7), where two Non-Japanese and one naturalized Japanese were excluded from a public bathhouse, judges refused to rule that this activity was illegal due to racial discrimination.  They called it “unrational discrimination”.  Moreover, they refused to enforce the CERD as law, or sanction the negligent Otaru City government for not taking effective measures against racial discrimination.  The Supreme Court even refused to hear the case.  Furthermore, in 2006, an African-American was refused entry into an eyeglass store by an openly racist owner, yet the Osaka District Court ruled in favor of the owner!   We need a criminal law, with enforceable punishments, because the present judicial system will not fix this.

5) Objects of unfettered hate speech

The blue folder talks more about cyberbullying of minorities and prejudiced statements made by our politicians over the years.  Other NGOs will talk more about the anti-Korean and anti-Chinese hate speech during the current debate about granting local suffrage rights to Permanent Residents.  I would instead like to briefly mention some media, such as magazine “Underground Files of Crimes by Gaijin [sic]” (Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu (2007), blue folder item III-2), or “PR Suffrage will make Japan Disappear” (Gaikokujin Sanseiken de Nihon ga Nakunaru Hi) (2010[7]).  Both of these books stretch their case to talk about an innate criminality or deviousness in the foreign element, and “Underground Files of  Crimes” even includes things that are not crimes, such as dating Japanese women.  It even includes epithets like “nigger”, racist caricatures, and ponderings on whether Korean pudenda smell like kimchi.  This is hate speech.  And it is not illegal in Japan.

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

To summarize, the Japanese government’s stance towards the CERD is simple (blue folder item VI-1).  The Ainu, Ryūkūans, and Burakumin are citizens, therefore they don’t need CERD protection because they are protected by the Japanese Constitution.  However, the Zainichis and “Newcomers” are not citizens, therefore they don’t get protection from the CERD.  Therefore, our government effectively argues, the CERD does not cover anyone in Japan.

Yeah, well what about me?  Or our children?  Are there really no ethnic minorities with Japanese citizenship in Japan?

In conclusion, I would like to thank the United Nations and their Rapporteurs for investigating our cases.  The CERD Committee on March 16, 2010 (CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6), issued some very welcome recommendations.  However, and I would like to go back to something I said in the beginning, that the UN has a blind spot in these negotiations.

In the CERD Committee’s discussions with the Japanese government in Geneva on February 24 and 25, 2010, very little mention was made of the CERD’s non-enforcement in Japan’s judiciary and criminal code.   Almost no mention was made of Japan’s “Japanese Only” signs.  These are the most indefensible violation of the CERD.

The problem is, both sides, both Japan and the UN, have a blind spot in how they perceive Japan’s “minorities”.  Non-Japanese were never couched as residents of or immigrants to Japan, but rather as “foreign migrants”.  The unconscious assumption seems to be that 1) “foreign migrants” have a “temporary status” in Japan (particularly when Japan’s reps portrayed ethnic schools for Non-Japanese as for “foreign children in Japan only for the short stay”), and 2) Japan has few “ethnically diverse Japanese citizens”.

Look, it’s time for an update.  Look at me.  I am a Japanese.  Like any other.  Because the government put me through a very rigorous and arbitrary test for naturalization and I passed it.  People like me are part of Japan’s future.  Please, when you make your recommendations, have them reflect how Japan has changed, and how Japan must face up to its multicultural society already in place.  Please, recognize us “Newcomers” as a permanent part of the debate.  The Japanese government still will not.  They say little that is positive about us.  And they allow very nasty things to be said by our politicians, policymakers, and police.

It’s about time we all recognized the good things that we “Newcomers” too are doing for our home, Japan.  Please help us.

ENDS


[1] www.debito.org/rapporteur.html

[2] www.debito.org/?p=5703

[3] www.debito.org/?p=723

[4] www.debito.org/?p=1940

[5] www.debito.org/?p=5619

[6] www.debito.org/?p=1972

[7] www.debito.org/?p=6182

ENDS

Table of Contents of FRANCA information folder to UN Spec. Rapporteur Bustamante, Mar 23. Last call for submissions from Debito.org Readers.

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  What follows is the Table of Contents for an information packet I will be presenting Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Jorge A. Bustamante, who will be visiting Japan and holding hearings on the state of discrimination in Japan.  Presented on behalf of our NGO FRANCA (Sendai and Tokyo meetings on Sun Mar 21 and Sat Mar 27 respectively).

It’s a hefty packet of about 500 pages printed off or so, but I will keep a couple of pockets at the back for Debito.org Readers who would like to submit something about discrimination in Japan they think the UN should hear.  It can be anonymous, but better would be people who provide contact details about themselves.

Last call for that.  Two pages A4 front and back, max (play with the fonts and margins if you like).  Please send to debito@debito.org by NOON JST Thursday March 18, so I can print it on my laser printer and slip it in the back.

Here’s what I’ll be giving as part of an information pack.  I haven’t written my 20-minute presentation for March 23 yet, but thanks for all your feedback on that last week, everyone.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

(FRANCA LETTERHEAD)

To Mr. Jorge Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants:

Date: March 23, 2010  Tokyo, Japan

Thank you for coming to Japan and hearing our side of the story.  We have a lot to say and few domestic forums that will listen to us.  –ARUDOU Debito, Chair, FRANCA Japan (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)

ANNOTATED CONTENTS OF THIS FOLDER:

Referential documents and articles appear in the following order:

I. On Government-sponsored Xenophobia and Official-level Resistance to Immigration

This section will seek to demonstrate that discrimination is not just a societal issue.  It is something promoted by the Japanese government as part of official policy.

  1. OVERVIEW:  Japan Times article:  “THE MYOPIC STATE WE’RE IN:  Fingerprint scheme exposes xenophobic, short-sighted trend in government” (December 18, 2007).  Point:  How government policy is hard-wiring the Japanese public into fearing and blaming Non-Japanese for Japan’s social ills. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20071218zg.html
  2. Japan Times article, “Beware the Foreigner as Guinea Pig“, on how denying rights to one segment of the population (NJ) affects everyone badly, as policies that damage civil liberties, once tested on Non-Japanese residents, eventually get applied to citizens too (July 8, 2008). http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20080708zg.html
  3. Japan Times article:  “THE BLAME GAME:  Convenience, creativity seen in efforts to scapegoat Japan’s foreign community” (August 28, 2007), depicting foreigners as criminal invaders, and thwarting their ability to assimilate properly. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20070828zg.html
  4. Japan Times article: “VISA VILLAINS: Japan’s new Immigration law overdoes enforcement and penalties” (June 29, 2004) http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20040629zg.html
  5. Japan Times article, “Demography vs. Demagoguery“, on how politics has pervaded Japanese demographic science, making “immigration” a taboo for discussion as a possible solution to Japan’s aging society. (November 3, 2009) http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20091103ad.html
  6. Japan Times article: “HUMAN RIGHTS SURVEY STINKS:  Government effort riddled with bias, bad science” (October 23, 2007), talking about how official government surveys render human rights “optional” for Non-Japanese, and downplays the discrimination against them. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20071023zg.html
  7. Japan Times article: “WATCHING THE DETECTIVES: Japan’s human rights bureau falls woefully short of meeting its own job specifications” (July 8, 2003), on how the oft-touted Ministry of Justice’s “Jinken Yōgobu” is in fact a Potemkin System, doing little to assist those with human rights issues in Japan. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20030708zg.html
  8. Japan Times article, “Unlike Humans, Swine Flu is Indiscriminate“, on the lessons to be learned from Japan’s public panic from the Swine Flu Pandemic, and how to avoid discrimination once again from arising (August 4, 2009). http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20090804ad.html
  9. Japan Times article, “Golden parachutes for Nikkei only mark failure of race-based policy“, on the downfall of Japan’s labor visa policies, e.g., the “April 2009 repatriation bribe” for the Nikkei Brazilians and Peruvians, sending them “home” with a pittance instead of treating them like laborers who made investments and contributions to Japan’s welfare and pension systems. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090407ad.html

II. On Abuses of Police Power and Racial Profiling vis-à-vis Non-Japanese

This section will seek to demonstrate that one arm of the government, the National Police Agency, has had a free hand in generating a fictitious “Foreign Crime Wave of the 2000s”, by characterizing Non-Japanese in the media as criminals, exaggerating or falsifying foreign crime reportage, bending laws to target them, engaging in flagrant racial profiling of minorities, and otherwise “making Japan the world’s safest country again” by portraying the foreign element as unsafe.

  1. Japan Times article: “DOWNLOADABLE DISCRIMINATION: The Immigration Bureau’s new “snitching” Web site is both short-sighted and wide open to all manner of abuses.” (March 30, 2004), on how online submission sites (which still exist) run by the government are open to the general public, for anonymous reporting of anyone who “looks foreign and suspicious” to the police. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20040330zg.html
  2. Japan Times article: “FORENSIC SCIENCE FICTION: Bad science and racism underpin police policy” (January 13, 2004), how the National Research Institute for Police Science has received government grants to study “foreign DNA” (somehow seen as genetically different from all Japanese DNA) for crime scene investigation.   http://search.japantimes.co.jp/member/member.html?fl20040113zg.htm
  3. 3. Japan Times article:  “FOREIGN CRIME STATS COVER UP A REAL COP OUT:  Published figures are half the story” (Oct 4, 2002), indicating how the National Police Agency is falsifying and exaggerating foreign crime statistics to create the image of Non-Japanese residents as criminals. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20021004zg.html
  4. Japan Times article: “HERE COMES THE FEAR: Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents” (May 24, 2005), showing nascent anti-terrorist policy introduced by the Koizumi Administration specifically targeting Non-Japanese as terrorists. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20050524zg.html
  5. Debito.org Website:  “Ibaraki Prefectural Police put up new and improved public posters portraying Non-Japanese as coastal invaders” (November 20, 2008), and “Ibaraki Police’s third new NJ-scare poster” (July 29, 2009), showing how the Japanese police are putting up public posters portraying the issue as defending Japanese shores from foreign invasion, complete with images of beach storming, riot gear and machine guns.  www.debito.org/?p=2057 and www.debito.org/?p=3996
  6. Japan Times article: “UPPING THE FEAR FACTOR:  There is a disturbing gap between actual crime in Japan and public worry over it” (February 20, 2007), showing the Koizumi policy in full bloom, plus the media’s complicity in abetting the National Police Agency’s generation of a “foreign crime wave”. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20070220zg.html
  7. Japan Times article: “MINISTRY MISSIVE WRECKS RECEPTION: MHLW asks hotels to enforce nonexistent law” (October 18, 2005), http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20051018zg.html and
  8. Japan Times article: “CREATING LAWS OUT OF THIN AIR: Revisions to hotel laws stretched by police to target foreigners” (March 8, 2005), both articles showing how the Japanese police use legal sleight-of-hand to convince hotels to target foreigners for visa and ID checks. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20050308zg.html
  9. Japan Times article: “‘GAIJIN CARD’ CHECKS SPREAD AS POLICE DEPUTIZE THE NATION” (November 13, 2007), showing how extralegal means are being used to expand the “visa dragnets” to people who are not Immigration Officers, or even police officers. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20071113zg.html
  10. Japan Times article, “IC You:  Bugging the Alien“, on the new IC Chip Gaijin Cards and national protests (May 19, 2009), how RFID-chipped ID cards (of which 24/7 carrying for Non-Japanese only is mandatory under criminal law) can be converted into remote tracking devices, for even better racial profiling as technology improves. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20090519zg.html
  11. Japan Times article, “Summit Wicked This Way Comes“, on the Japanese Government’s bad habits brought out by the Hokkaido Toyako 2008 G8 Summit (April 22, 2008) – namely, a clampdown on the peaceful activities of Japan’s civil society, with a focus on targeting people who “look foreign”. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20080422zg.html
  12. Japan Times article, “Forecast:  Rough with ID checks mainly to the north“, focusing on a protest against Hokkaido Police’s egregious racial profiling during the G8 Summit, and how the police dodged media scrutiny and public accountability (July 1, 2008). http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20080701ad.html
  13. Japan Times article, “Cops Crack Down with ‘I Pee’ Checks“, on the Japanese police stretching their authority to demand urine samples from Non-Japanese on the street without warrants (July 7, 2009). http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20090707ad.html
  14. Japan Times article, “PEDAL PUSHERS COP A LOAD ON YASUKUNI DORI: Japan’s low crime rate has many advantages, although harassment by bored cops certainly isn’t one of them” (June 20, 2002), demonstrating how arbitrarily Tokyo police will nab people at night ostensibly for “bicycle ownership checks”, but really for visa checks – if they are riding while “looking foreign”.

III. On Racism and Hate Speech in Japan

This section talks about other activities that are not state-sponsored or encouraged, but tolerated in society as “rational” or “reasonable” discrimination, or natural ascriptive social ordering.  These unfettered acts of discrimination towards minorities, decried by previous Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene as “deep and profound”, are examples of why we need a law against racial discrimination and hate speech in Japan.

1. OVERVIEWNGO Report Regarding the Rights of Non-Japanese Nationals, Minorities of Foreign Origins, and Refugees in Japan (33 pages).  Prepared for the 76th United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Japan, submitted to UNCERD February 2010.  Compiled by Solidarity with Migrants Japan.  Particularly germane to this information packet is Chapter 2 by Arudou Debito, entitled “Race and Nationality-Based Entrance Refusals at Private and Quasi-Public Establishments” (3 pages). http://www.debito.org/?p=6000

2. Japan Focus paper (14 pages):  “GAIJIN HANZAI MAGAZINE AND HATE SPEECH IN JAPAN:  The newfound power of Japan’s international residents” (March 20, 2007).  This academic paper talks about how a “Foreign Crime Magazine” deliberately distorted data (to the point of accusing Non-Japanese of criminal acts that were not actually crimes), and portrayed Chinese and other minorities as having criminality as part of their innate nature. http://www.japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito/2386

3. Japan Times article, “NJ Suffrage and the Racist Element” (February 2, 2010), on xenophobic Japan Dietmember Hiranuma’s racist statements towards fellow Dietmember Renho (who has Taiwanese roots), and how it lays bare the lie of the xenophobic Rightists demanding people take Japanese citizenship if they want the right to vote in local elections – when it clearly makes no difference to them if they do. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100202ad.html

4. Japan Times article, “The Issue that dares not speak its name“, on the suppressed debate on racial discrimination in Japan (June 2, 2009), where the term “racial discrimination” itself is not part of the Japanese media’s vocabulary to describe even situations adjudged “racial discrimination” by Japanese courts. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20090602ad.html

5. Japan Times article:  “HOW TO KILL A BILL:  Tottori’s Human Rights Ordinance is a case study in alarmism” (May 2, 2006), on how Japan’s first prefectural-level ordinance against discrimination was actually unpassed months later, due to a hue and cry over the apparent dangers of giving foreigners too many rights. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20060502zg.html

6. Academic Paper (Linguapax Asia, forthcoming) (14 pages):  “Propaganda in Japan’s Media:  Manufacturing Consent for National Goals at the Expense of Non-Japanese Residents”, on how government policy, political opportunism, and the Japanese media fomented a fictitious “Foreign Crime Wave” in the 2000s, and how that caused quantifiable social damage to Non-Japanese residents.

7. Japan Focus paper (2 pages): “JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hotspring Case and Discrimination Against ‘Foreigners’ in Japan” (November 2005), a very brief summary explaining Japan’s first case of racial discrimination that made to the Supreme Court (where it was rejected for consideration), and what it means in terms of Japan’s blind-eying of discrimination. http://japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito/1743

8. Debito.org Website:  “Tokyo Edogawa-ku Liberal Democratic Party flyer, likens granting Permanent Residents the right to vote in local elections to an alien invasion”.  (February 24, 2010)  Seventeen local politicians of the formerly-ruling LDP lend their names against the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s liberalizing policy, illustrated with a UFO targeting the Japanese archipelago. http://www.debito.org/?p=6182

9. Debito.org Website:  “More anti-foreigner scare posters and publications, linking Permanent Resident suffrage bill to foreign crime and Chinese invasion”. (March 15, 2010)  Anonymous internet billeters are putting propaganda in home post boxes in Nagoya and Narita, and bookstores are selling books capitalizing on the fear by saying that granting NJ the vote will make Japan “disappear” by turning into a foreign country. http://www.debito.org/?p=6182

10. Debito.org Website:  Anti-foreign suffrage protests in Shibuya Nov 28 2009. The invective in flyers and banners: “Japan is in danger!” (December 4, 2009).  An overview and summary translation of the invective and arguments being put forth by the xenophobic Far-Right in public demonstrations. http://www.debito.org/?p=5353

IV. On the Disenfranchisement of the Non-Japanese communities in Japan

This section touches upon how Non-Japanese minorities are shut out of Japan’s debate arenas, public events, even court rooms, making them largely unable to stand up for themselves and assimilate on their own terms.

1. Trans Pacific Radio:  “RUMBLE AT THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS – A hearing on human rights is disrupted by right wingers” (September 10, 2007), demonstrating how the government will not stop hate speech from Right-wingers even when it willfully disrupts their official fact-finding meetings. http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/09/10/debito-rumble-at-moj/

2. Japan Times article, McDonald’s Japan’s “Mr James” campaign:  Why these stereotyping advertisements should be discontinued. (September 1, 2009), showing how McDonald’s, an otherwise racially-tolerant multinational corporation overseas, is able thanks to lax attitudes in Japan to stoop to racial stereotyping to sell product, moreover not engage in constructive public debate about the issues. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20090901ad.html

3. Japan Times article: “ABUSE, RACISM, LOST EVIDENCE DENY JUSTICE IN VALENTINE CASE: Nigerian’s ordeal shows that different judicial standards apply for foreigners in court” (August 14, 2007), where even foreigners’ testimony is overtly dismissed in court expressly because it is foreign. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20070814zg.html

4. Japan Times article: “TWISTED LEGAL LOGIC DEALS RIGHTS BLOW TO FOREIGNERS:  McGowan ruling has set a very dangerous precedent” (February 7, 2006), in that a store manager who barred an African-American customer entry, expressly because he dislikes black people, was exonerated in court on a semantic technicality. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20060207zg.html

5. Japan Times article: “SCHOOLS SINGLE OUT FOREIGN ROOTS: International kids suffer under archaic rules” (July 17, 2007). An article about the “Hair Police” in Japan’s schools, who force Non-Japanese and ethnically-diverse Japanese to dye their natural hair color black. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070717zg.html

6. Japan Times article: “A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD?: National Sports Festival bars gaijin, and amateur leagues follow suit” (Sept 30, 2003), on Japan’s National Sports Meets (kokutai), and how Japan’s amateur sports leagues refuse Non-Japanese residents’ participation: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20030930zg.html

7. Asahi Shimbun English-language POINT OF VIEW column, “IF CARTOON KIDS HAVE IT, WHY NOT FOREIGNERS?” (Dec 29, 2003).  A translation of my Nov 8 2003 Asahi Watashi no Shiten column, wondering why cartoon characters and wild sealions (see #9 below) are allowed to be registered as “residents” in Japan under the government’s jūminhyō Residency Certificate system, but not Non-Japanese. http://www.debito.org/asahi122903.jpg

8. Japan Times article, “FREEDOM OF SPEECH: ‘Tainted blood’ sees ‘foreign’ students barred from English contests” (Jan 6, 2004), with several odd, blood-based rules indicating a belief that foreign ancestry gives people an advantage in terms of language ability – even if the foreign ethnicity is not Anglophone! http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20040106zg.html

9. Japan Times article on “SEALING THE DEAL ON PUBLIC MEETINGS: Outdoor gatherings are wrapped in red tape.” (March 4, 2003), on the sealion “Tama-chan” issue and demonstrations over the issue of family registry exclusionism (see #7 above).  Why is it so difficult to raise public awareness about minority issues in Japan?  Because police grant permission to public gatherings. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20030304zg.html

V. On What Japan should do to face its multicultural future

This section offers suggestions on what Japan ought to be doing:  Engaging immigration, instead of retreating further into a fortress mentality and defaming those who wish to emigrate here.

1. Japan Focus paper:  “JAPAN’S COMING INTERNATIONALIZATION:  Can Japan assimilate its immigrants?” (January 12, 2006) http://www.japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito/2078

2. Japan Times article, “A Level Playing Field for Immigrants” (December 1, 2009), offering policy proposals to the new DPJ ruling party on how to make Japan a more attractive place for immigration. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20091201ad.html

3. Japan Focus paper:  “JAPAN’S FUTURE AS AN INTERNATIONAL, MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY: From Migrants to Immigrants” (October 29, 2007) http://www.japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito/2559

4. “Medical Care for Non-Japanese Residents of Japan: Let’s look at Japanese Society’s General ‘Bedside Manner’ First“, Journal of International Health Vol.23, No.1 2008, pgs 19-21. http://www.debito.org/journalintlhealth2008.pdf

VI. Japan and the United Nations

1. Academic paper (forthcoming, draft, 21 pages):  “Racial Discrimination in Japan:  Arguments made by the Japanese government to justify the status quo in defiance of United Nations Treaty”.  This paper points out the blind spot in both United Nations and the Japanese government, which continues to overlook the plight of immigrants (viewing them more as temporary migrant workers), and their ethnically-diverse Japanese children, even in their February 2010 UNCERD Review of Japan (please skip to pages 18-19 in the paper).

2. Japan Times article: “PULLING THE WOOL:  Japan’s pitch for the UN Human Rights Council was disingenuous at best” (November 7, 2006), talking about the disinformation the government was giving the UN in its successful bid to have a leadership post on the newfound HRC. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20061107zg.html

3. Japan Times article: “RIGHTING A WRONG: United Nations representative Doudou Diene’s trip to Japan has caused a stir” (June 27, 2006). http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20060627zg.html

VII. OTHER REPORTS FROM CONCERNED PARTIES (emails)

Topics:  Daycare center teaching “Little Black Sambo” to preschoolers despite requests from international parents to desist, Anonymous statement regarding professional working conditions in Japan for professional and expatriate women (issues of CEDAW), Discriminatory hiring practices at English-language schools (2 cases), Racial profiling at Narita Airport, Harassment of foreign customers by Japanese credit agencies, Hunger strikers at Ibaraki Detention Center, Politician scaremongering regarding a hypothetical  “foreign Arab prince with 50 kids claiming child tax allowance”

ENDS

FRANCA MEETINGS SENDAI Sun Mar 21, TOKYO Sat Mar 27

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association), an NGO founded last year and registered with the Japanese government to look out for the interests of long-term NJ and naturalized Japanese, will be having two meetings this month.

FRANCA Sendai Meeting Sunday, March 21, 2010, 1:30-4:30PM. Place: AER Building next to Sendai station (El Solar Meeting Room 1, 28F), from 13:30 to 16:30. Please attend and bring a friend or the family! More details and contacts at FRANCA Sendai

FRANCA Tokyo Meeting Saturday March 27, 2010; 6PM-9PM International House of Japan 5-11-16 Roppongi Minato-ku, Tokyo Meeting Name – FRANCA How to get there at http://www.i-house.or.jp/en/ihj/access.html

Please consider attending and finding out more about what we can do for each other.  I’ll be giving a presentation on what FRANCA is, what it’s done so far, and what we could have it do in future with your help.

Things are not necessarily getting better for Japan’s residents of ethnicity, color, and multiculture.  And they won’t unless somebody pushes for improvements.  That’s what we want to do.

See our goals and contact details at www.francajapan.org.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Just heard: NGO FRANCA and I will be meeting with UN Special Rapporteur Jorge Bustamante March 23, Tokyo. Anything you want me to say or give him?

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  Short entry for today.  I just heard yesterday from NGOs concerned with human rights in Japan that I will be part of a group meeting with Mr Jorge Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, on March 23 in Tokyo.

I will have twenty minutes to make a presentation regarding exclusions of NJ in Japan in violation of UN CERD treaty.

Is there anything you’d like me to say?  I already have some ideas here (see Chapter 2).  But I’m open to suggestions and feedback.  If there is anything you would like me to present him, please send me at debito@debito.org.  Please keep submissions concise, under 2 sides of A4 paper (meaning one sheet front and back) when formatted and printed.

To give you some idea of format, I’ve given presentations to UN Rapporteurs before, particularly Dr Doudou Diene back in 2005 and 2006.  The archive on that here.

I will of course make the case that the GOJ is being intransigent and unreflective of reality when asserts, again and again, that Japan does not need a law against racial discrimination.  And in violation of its international treaty promises.

The floor is open, everyone.  Thanks very much for your assistance.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Chair, NGO Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (FRANCA)

ENDS

FRANCA protest letter to McDonald’s USA HQ re “Mr James” Campaign

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatarUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  Please feel free to adapt this letter to your needs and send it to any corporate outlets of McDonald’s you feel are appropriate.  Please continue to express your disgruntlement where it can be heard (there is even the suggestion that people walk in to restaurants with indelible ink pens and wrote “racist” across the face of the “Mr James'” full-size display figure).  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGONPO Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association

(一般社団法人)日本永住帰化移民住民協会

[…], Sapporo, Japan

FRANCA is registered with the Japanese government as an NPO.

Registration number 4300-05-005413

McDonald’s Corporation Headquarters

2111 McDonald’s Dr, Oak Brook, IL 60523 USA

cc:
Walt Riker
Vice President, Corporate Media Relations
walt.riker@us.mcd.com
Heidi Barker
Sr. Director, Corporate Media Relations
heidi.barker@us.mcd.com
Louise Marcotte-Jervoe
Director, Corporate Media Relations
louise.marcotte@us.mcd.com
Tara Handy
Sr. Manager, Corporate Media Relations
tara.handy@us.mcd.com
Lisa McComb
Sr. Manager, Corporate Media Relations
lisa.mccomb@us.mcd.com
Lizzie Roscoe
Supervisor, Corporate Media Relations
lizzie.roscoe@us.mcd.com
Theresa Riley
Administrative Coordinator, Corporate Media Relations
theresa.riley@us.mcd.com
Sue Atzhorn
Administrative Coordinator, Corporate Media Relations
sue.atzhorn@us.mcd.com

To Whom It May Concern:

We write to you on behalf of FRANCA, a human rights group concerned with the rights of non-Japanese residents in Japan.  Our goals are:  1) To eliminate negative public images and stereotypes of non-Japanese and multi-cultural Japanese; 2) To eliminate discrimination by race, nationality, ethnicity, and national origin; 3) To highlight the benefits of immigration and a multi-cultural society.  FRANCA works to achieve these goals through sustainable and effective lobbying, networking and public relations campaigns aimed at educating the public.  More about us at www.francajapan.org.

We wish to bring to your attention a sales campaign launched this month by McDonald’s Japan that we find extremely problematic.

The “Mr. James” character, representing the “Nippon All Stars” hamburger campaign, features a spectacled Caucasian narrating his love for Japan and Japan’s version of McDonald’s’ hamburgers.  Our association finds the following things problematic:

  • 1) The character speaks broken accented Japanese (using the katakana script, one used for foreign loanwords).  The impression given is that Caucasians cannot speak Japanese properly, which is simply not true for the vast numbers of non-native (and Japanese-native) foreigners in Japan.
  • 2) The character is called “Mr. James” (again, in katakana), promoting the stereotype that foreigners must be called by their first names only (standard Japanese etiquette demands that adults be called “last name plus -san”), undoing progress we have made for equal treatment under Japanese societal rules.
  • 3) The image used, of a clumsy sycophantic “nerd” for this Caucasian customer, is embarrassing to Caucasians who will have to live in Japan under this image.

To illustrate the issue more clearly, would McDonald’s USA (or McDonald’s in any other country, for that matter) choose to promote, for example, a new rice dish with a “ching-chong Chinaman” saying, “Me likee McFlied Lice!”?  Of course not.

Likewise, we do not think these attitudes perpetuating stereotypes of ethnic minorities within their respective societies should be promoted anywhere by a multinational corporation with the influence of McDonald’s.  We ask that McDonald’s Headquarters review McDonald’s Japan’s “Mr James” Campaign and have it discontinued immediately.

We look forward to your favorable reply.

Sincerely yours,

ARUDOU Debito (Mr.)

Chair, FRANCA Japan.  debito@debito.org

Enclosures:  copies of relevant media materials regarding “Mr. James”

From the food tray inserts:

mcdonaldsmrjames001

From stickers on every table:

mcdonaldsmrjames002

At every restaurant, a full-size cutout of “Mr James”:

090813mrjamesfull

Close up of the cutout:

090813mrjamescloseup

Outdoors in Sapporo, so you don’t even have to go into the restaurant itself to see the image perpetuated (photo taken August 15, 2009, Sapporo Nakanosawa Branch):

mrjamesoutdoorssmall

ends