Positive book review of “Embedded Racism” in “Sociology of Race and Ethnicity” journal (American Sociological Association)

mytest

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Book Review: “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination“, By Debito Arudou (Lexington Books, 2015)
Reviewed by Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain
Citation: King-O’Riain, R. C. Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, 0(0), 2332649217723003.
http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2332649217723003
DOI:10.1177/2332649217723003
First Published August 11, 2017

(Excerpt)

[…] It is a brave critique of Japanese society and its failure to look outward in its demographic and economic development. The book will, no doubt, add to a lively discussion already afoot in Japanese studies, critical race studies, and critical mixed race studies of racism in Japan.

[…] The strongest part of the book, in my view, is chapter 5, which illustrates how “Japaneseness” is enforced through legal and extralegal means. The examples of visa regimes and even exclusion from sports and other contests through educational institutions show how everyday racism leaks into larger organizational practices, often without challenge.

[…] The book is clearly written and seems to be aimed primarily at undergraduate students, as it makes an important contribution for those wishing to understand racism in Japan better, and it compiles interesting documentary legal data about the history of cases of discrimination in Japan. The book would easily suit courses that address global conceptions of race and ethnicity and how these are changing in Japan at both the micro and macro levels because of globalization. ENDS

See other reviews at http://www.debito.org/embeddedracism.html

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Asahi: Japan treats 1 million foreign workers as ‘non-existent’, and shouldn’t. Another recycled hopeful article.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  In the wake of my previous blog entry about a new exploitative visa system for the next generation of Nikkei workers, here’s a hand-wringing article from the Asahi about how people don’t (but really should) accept NJ as part of Japanese society.

It seems like these articles are cyclical — I remember them from a good ten years ago (for example here and here and here and here).  But papers gotta sell, even if magazines anywhere gotta hawk the same weight-loss and exercise regimens to the reading public.  Fortunately, the Asahi draws the same conclusions I would. Alas, next serious economic downturn, all this will be out of the window and foreigners will be unaccepted again.

Maybe I’m getting too old to hope for much change anymore.  Where’s the tipping point?  Dr. Debito Arudou

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Japan treats 1 million foreign workers as ‘non-existent’
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
July 27, 2017 
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201707270006.html
PHOTO:  A foreign student from Vietnam, right, is taught how to deal with customers at a convenience store in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward. Foreigners are often seen at convenience stores in urban areas of Japan. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Foreign workers in Japan are increasingly being seen as a valuable resource amid Japan’s declining birthrate and growing elderly population.

However, recent headlines in the media express concern about the influx of immigrants.

“Should we accept immigrants?” one publication asked.

Another worried that, “What will happen if foreigners become our bosses?”

The reality is that the number of foreign workers now totals more than 1 million. Japanese are increasingly coming in contact with foreigners in their daily lives, so they are no longer an “invisible presence.”

ACCEPTANCE IS UNAVOIDABLE

The Justice Ministry announced in January that foreigners working in Japan totaled 1,083,769 as of the end of October 2016.

Economic magazines such as Nikkei Business or Weekly Toyo Keizai have published articles related to immigration and foreign workers.

One contentious point among those articles is the existence of foreign workers working under a status akin to “unskilled labor,” which is not permitted, in principle, in Japan.

The Justice Ministry says that there are no rules and definitions concerning immigration in domestic law. So, Japan accepts immigrants under the title of “technical intern trainees,” who are expected to disseminate technology upon their return home, or “foreign students,” instead of accepting them as unskilled workers.

An article in the June edition of the monthly business magazine Wedge was titled, “Before we realized it, Japan has become a nation of immigrants.”

The article analyzed the situation where foreign students are employed in physical labor, working on farms and in factories and in the service industry, such as at hotels as cleaning staff, while introducing local communities that accepted immigrants as a measure to halt declining populations.

“When we are in Tokyo, it is hard for us to notice, but a work force shortage in local areas is so serious that those areas have no choice but to accept immigrants,” said Shinya Shiokawa, editor in chief of Wedge. “No one can be apathetic to them.”

While accepting immigrants has been discussed, foreign workers are more likely to be employed at restaurants or convenience stores in urban areas.

“Foreigners or people who have roots in overseas countries are talked of as if they do not exist, although they are already present in Japan’s society,” said Hiroshi Komai, professor emeritus of Hitotsubashi University, specializing in international sociology.

Until the 1950s, Japan was a nation that was dispatching immigrants to South America and other countries. In the 1980s amid a rising yen and the nation’s economic bubble, Japan was attracting an influx of foreigners.

In 2006, the internal affairs ministry drafted a plan to facilitate diversity in local communities.

While the central government banned immigrants from employment in low-skilled jobs, it allowed them to work under the name of trainees or on-the-job training. Komai said that local governments and nonprofit organizations have taken the lead in accepting immigrants and encouraging multiculturism in society.

“The central government has consistently treated immigrant workers as ‘they are present but non-existent,’ but the measure has already met limitations,” Komai said.

LITTLE FOREIGN PRESENCE IN LITERATURE

In the literature world, immigrants figure prominently in many stories in other countries. In Japan, however, the presence of immigrants in literature is not as common.

In Japan, there are many books on ethnic Koreans who were born and grew up in the country. One is “Geni’s Puzzle,” written in 2016 by Che Sil, a third-generation Korean, who was awarded the prestigious Oda Sakunosuke Prize. On the other hand, novels themed on “immigrants who come to Japan” are extremely rare.

“There are many overseas mystery novels that deal with immigration issues,” said Fuyuki Ikegami, a literary critic. “But in Japan, perhaps because Japan hasn’t accepted immigrants politically and socially, the theme can’t be as easily utilized and matured in a story.”

However, there are signs of change. Novels such as “i,” written by Kanako Nishi in 2016, and Yuzaburo Otokawa’s “R.S. Villasenor,” in 2017, describe immigrants coming from other countries.

The latter is the story of the daughter of a man from the Philippines who brings traditional Filipino craftwork to the traditional Japanese art of dyeing.

“While describing cultural integration, it tactfully addresses the immigration issue as a theme in a natural way,” Ikegami said.

Hiroshi Tanaka, a professor emeritus of Hitotsubashi University who specializes in Japan-Asia relations, said the existence of a “nationality dogma” in Japanese society is a barrier.

“Japanese people have a strong sense that Japanese society exists for people who have Japanese citizenship,” he said. “The length of residing in Japan doesn’t matter, and people other than Japanese can’t be admitted as a member of society.”

Tanaka said that the most important thing now is to operate on a standpoint of “for whom society exists.”

“Society exists particularly for people living there. If residing there, people should be treated the same whether they come from other countries or they don’t have roots in Japan. But that sense is still weak in Japan, and we have to change that,” he said.
ENDS

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Yomiuri: 4th generation Nikkei to get new visa status. Come back, all is forgiven! Just don’t read the fine print.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Guess what. Ten years after bribing and booting out its Nikkei “Returnee” workers from South America (who had been given sweetheart visas of de facto Permanent Residency, higher-paying jobs than the “Trainee” slaves from places like China (but still lower than real Japanese, natch)), and four years after lifting a ban on their return, the government has officially decided to introduce a new residency status to exploit the next (4th) generation of Nikkei. As long as they a) speak Japanese, b) are young enough to devote their best working years here, c) come alone, and d) only stay three years. Those are some tweaks that makes things less advantageous for the foreigner, so I guess the previous racist policy favoring Wajin foreigners has been improved (as far as the government is concerned) to keep them disposable, and less likely to need a bribe to go home when the next economic downturn happens. That’s how the Japanese government learns from its mistakes — by making the visa status more exclusionary and exploitative.

As Submitter JK says, “This smells to me like a scheme to recruit more laborers.” Nice how the Yomiuri, as usual, decides to conveniently forget that historical context in its article. Dr. Debito Arudou

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4th generation to get new status
July 31, 2017, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Courtesy of JK
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003851875

The Justice Ministry plans to introduce a new residency status for fourth-generation Japanese descendants living abroad that will enable them to work in Japan under certain conditions, such as acquiring a set level of Japanese language skills.

About 1,000 people will be accepted each year in the early stages, sources said. The ministry will solicit comments from the public soon, and then decide when to roll out the program.

The aim of the new system is to help fourth-generation Japanese descendants deepen their interest in and knowledge about Japan, and nurture people who would be a bridge between Japan and the communities of Japanese descendants abroad in the future.

Those who are accepted will be aged 18 to 30 and given “designated activities” status, which will allow them to work during their stay in Japan, according to the ministry’s plan.

Participants will be required to have Japanese skills equivalent to the N4 level of the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test — able to conduct basic everyday conversations — at the time of their arrival. When they renew their residency status, they will be required to have skills equivalent to the N3 level — understanding complex sentences. They will not be allowed to bring family members.

The residency status will need to be renewed each year, with the maximum stay set at three years. It will be possible to stay longer if they are allowed to change their residency status due to marriage, employment or other reasons.

The ministry envisages accepting fourth-generation Japanese descendants from countries — such as Brazil, Peru and the United States — where a number of ethnic Japanese communities were formed and took root as a result of Japanese migration before and after World War II. A ceiling for the number of accepted applicants will be set for each country or region, sources said.

Under the current system, second- and third-generation Japanese descendants can obtain a status such as “long-term resident” and are eligible for long-term stays and employment. However, there has been no preferential treatment for fourth-generation descendants except for underage biological children — who are unmarried and dependent — of the third-generation parents who are long-term residents.

ENDS

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Good news: Japan’s National Pension scheme lowers minimum qualification time from 25 years to 10!

mytest

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Hi Blog. Good news. Until now, if you wanted to qualify for any retirement payout under the Japanese National Pension System (Nenkin), you had to contribute 300 months, or 25 years, of your salary in Japan.

This was an enormously high hurdle for many NJ residents, who would pay in but not always elect to stay the bulk of their working life in Japan. That meant that aside from getting back a maximum of three years’ worth of contributions upon request (see also here), you’d effectively lose your retirement investment as an enormous exit tax.  (Incidentally, that was one of the quiet incentives for the racist Nikkei South American Returnee Worker “repatriation bribes” from the government back in 2009 — take the airplane fare home, leave behind your accrued pension.  Big win for Japan’s government coffers.)

It made it so that the longer you stayed in Japan, the more of a pension prisoner you became, since if you left the country to work elsewhere, you’d lose, because you hadn’t paid into pension schemes in other countries and wouldn’t qualify.

Totalization Agreements (where countries agree that years worked in Country B count towards working in Country A as well) have eased that burden somewhat. But now the threshold for qualifying at all in Japan has fortunately been reduced.  From 25 to 10 years, as of August 2017. Hurrah.

Now still remaining is the issue that the number of Japanese pensioners is increasing due to Japan’s demographically aging society, meaning that by the time you retire you’ll be receiving a smaller piece of the overall pension pie (to the levels where pensioners will live in penury; Japan is already above the OECD average poverty rate (pg. 75). And the minimum retirement age will likely be further increased to make it harder to retire younger. But at least you don’t have to invest most of your working life in Japan just to get something back.  Thus, Japan is becoming more aligned with international norms.  Good.

Much more information from the OECD on this issue at http://www.oecd.org/pensions/public-pensions/OECDPensionsAtAGlance2013.pdf. Dr. Debito Arudou

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Book Review in SSJJ journal calls “Embedded Racism” a “must-read text”, “highly recommended reading to anyone interested in Japan’s future”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Social Science Journal Japan (SSJJ) has just released its review of book “Embedded Racism“.  Excerpt follows. Full review at https://academic.oup.com/ssjj/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/ssjj/jyx012

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Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination, by Debito Arudou. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015, 404 pp., $110.00 (ISBN 978-1-4985-1390-6)
Robert W. ASPINALL
Social Science Journal Japan jyx012. DOI: https://academic.oup.com/ssjj/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/ssjj/jyx012
Published: 15 July 2017

Excerpt of the first and last paragraphs:

Why are there so few academic books or articles on Japan with the word ‘Racism’ in the title? It would be odd, to say the least, if Japan were the only inhabited place on earth where racism did not exist. Could it be that racial minorities in Japan are made up of groups that are too small, too transitory or too lacking in visibility to be worth the effort of close study? A more plausible explanation is offered by those who, like anthropologist John Russell, argue that powerful groups have disseminated the ‘national myth of Japan as a racism-free society that always manages to retain uncorrupted its essentialistic character, despite cultural borrowings’ (Russell 2010: 110). Given this highly successful effort to hush up discussions of racism in Japan, Debito Arudou’s new book on ‘Embedded Racism’ is very welcome.

[…]

In an anti-globalist era of Trump and ‘Brexit’ there will be many who argue that Japan is right to severely restrict immigration and preserve as much as possible that is unique about its national character. If those who do not ‘look Japanese’ have to suffer some discrimination, then that is just the price that has to be paid. There are also many who believe that the best antidote to racism is to have a nation state where as few people as possible look out of place. Arudou’s reply to this point of view, which acts simultaneously as a challenge to Japan’s leaders, is that if this national narrative is allowed to prevail, it will not only condemn Japan’s aging population to an ever-worsening demographic crisis, it will also have a ‘suffocating and self-strangulating’ effect on society (p. 303).

There are important academic contributions to the study of racism in Japan in this book, but it is as a must-read text on the crisis facing the shrinking Japanese population and its leaders that it really leaves its mark. Embedded Racism is highly recommended reading to anyone—whether they self-identify as Japanese or foreign or both—who is interested in Japan’s future.

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Kyodo: Trainee program, small firms drive rise in Japan’s foreign worker numbers. More data, same misleading gloss.

mytest

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Hi Blog. I’ve said plenty about this issue in my previous post. Here’s more information and gloss from Kyodo, which once again erroneously conflates “Trainees” with “workers”. Perhaps a new word is necessary to distinguish them. Oh, but they already have one:  how about “foreign trainees and workers”? Because they are simply not the same.

And what woe looms for these bright-eyed young workers who “want to stay on in Japan”. Not likely, at this writing. Especially since even the labor unions (as noted below) aren’t going to defend them. And I saw essentially the same bent to articles on foreign workers (for real, before the grey zone of “Trainees”) during Japan’s “kokusaika” period in the late 1980s (when I first arrived). Look how that turned out. Dr. Debito Arudou

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Trainee program, small firms drive rise in Japan’s foreign worker numbers
KYODO/JAPAN TIMES FEB 7, 2017
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/02/07/national/trainee-program-small-firms-drive-rise-japans-foreign-worker-numbers/

The official number of foreign workers in Japan has surpassed 1 million for the first time, thanks in part to aggressive employment by regional companies and small businesses to cope with the labor shortage.

While these firms, though few and far between, are breaking new ground with their hiring, it remains unclear how the government wants to go about allowing in more foreign workers as it works out a new policy.

Juroku Bank, Ltd., based in Gifu Prefecture, last April hired two Chinese who had been studying at a university in Nagoya.

It was the first time for the company to hire foreign bank clerks, and came as part of a new personnel strategy to deal with the growing number of visitors to Japan.

Zhang Yijun, 26, has been assigned to handling remittances and other duties related to foreign exchange matters at one of the regional bank’s Nagoya branches. Zhang can get by in everyday Japanese-language conversations but is still learning from co-workers about banking and handling customers.

Zhong Shouzhen, 29, meanwhile handles foreign exchange matters at the bank’s head office in the city of Gifu. She struggles with polite Japanese expressions but hopes to get involved in business mergers and acquisitions in the future.

“I want to be an intermediary for Chinese and Japanese companies,” Zhong said.

A manager in the bank’s personnel section said: “The two of them had the power to carve out a life in Japan from scratch, and we have expectations that they will prosper in various ways.”

Tran Hong Kien, 28, from Vietnam, has been working for Yoshimoto Factory, a metal-processing firm in Ome, western Tokyo, since last March. He studied mechanical engineering at a top university in Vietnam.

“I was impressed by the high technical competence in Japan,” said Kien, who is tasked with running a lathe under instructions from senior workers at the company, which employs 25. “If possible, I would like to remain living in Japan.”

“It is difficult for a company of our size to employ Japanese students in science and technology, and recently it has been especially tough,” said the company’s president, Makoto Yoshimoto, adding that it’s hard to compete against larger companies for the most talented graduates from Japanese universities.

Yoshimoto noticed many diligent and outstanding students when the company started conducting business in Vietnam several years ago. Twenty applicants responded to the company’s job listings, but only two, including Kien, were hired.

Many foreign workers have also been working at small businesses but for low wages, brought to Japan under the government’s skills acquisition program that critics say is a cover for hiring cheap labor. These workers often return home just when they get used to their jobs, which are usually based on three-year contracts.

Yoshimoto said: “For the two Vietnamese this is regular employment with the same salary as for Japanese. I won’t mind if they work here until they retire.”

According to a survey by employment information company Disco that covered 630 firms nationwide, 38.1 percent employed or planned to employ foreign students in fiscal 2016, while more than half — 59.8 percent — expect to hire such workers in fiscal 2017.

The percentage of foreign workers who were recruited after graduating from overseas universities is expected to rise from 18.9 percent in fiscal 2016 to 32 percent in fiscal 2017. Disco said small and medium-size domestic companies that are little known to students are starting to recruit college graduates from abroad.

There were 1.08 million foreign workers on the official books at the end of October, up 19.4 percent from a year earlier, according to a survey by the labor ministry.

This was the first time the 1 million milestone was passed since 2008, when the ministry first started collecting statistics based on hiring reports by businesses.

The government has been promoting employment of foreign nationals with advanced skills and knowledge, but in reality, trainees under the skills acquisition program have been fueling the growth.

The latest ministry data show that program trainees grew by 25.4 percent to 211,108, outstripping specialized professionals, who increased 20.1 percent to 200,994. The number of students working as part-timers jumped by a robust 25 percent to 209,657.

The government, faced with a declining and graying population, is exploring the ramifications of accepting more foreign workers.

A debate is underway among lawmakers and bureaucrats over whether to expand the scope of businesses that can hire foreign nationals as regular workers to cover glaring shortfalls in the agricultural and construction industries, not just highly skilled professions.

But many in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition have expressed concern that throwing the doors open further for foreign workers would lift the lid on a Pandora’s box of immigration troubles.

Even labor unions, despite a desire to defend the rights of foreign workers, are wary of their influence on domestic employment and are against their easy acceptance into the workforce.
ENDS
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Reuters: Japan’s NJ workers reach record 1 million; but fine print overlooked, e.g., conflating “Trainees” with “Workers”

mytest

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Hi Blog. The resurgence of Japan’s import labor regime has resumed in earnest, reaching a record at least in the Postwar Era. (Remember that during WWII, Japan’s internal colonial population, as in workers imported from its colonies, was very high; people from the Korean peninsula alone in 1945 were more than two million.)  Now as of 2016, the NJ worker total has hit 1 million, according to Reuters below.

There is some fine print this article should have noted. This “record one million” is of workers, not registered residents alone (which is in fact more than twice the number, at 2.23 million as of 2015), since they have dependents (i.e., spouses with non-work visas and children). But within this one million are people who are not technically “workers” (roudousha), but “Trainees” (kenkyuusei or jisshuusei), who aren’t officially protected by Japan labor laws and are exposed to all manner of abuses, including slavery.

So calling them all “workers” is misleading both in terms of terminology and legal status. Especially since, as the article does rightly note, they are making up 20% of the total, or around 200,000 unprotected NJ laborers.  Now that their numbers have shot up by 25% over one year alone, we can expect that 70% of all their employers will likely expose them to labor abuses.

These are not happy statistics, and for the article to lack this degree of nuance (especially since Reuters itself has done marvelous exposes in the past, even calling “Trainee” employers “sweatshops in disguise”) is at this point an institutional memory problem.

Another problem is the article implying that there is any actual attempt to, quote, “open gates to immigrants”.  Immigration (imin) has never been part of Japan’s policy calculations (and I challenge the journalists researching this article to find that exact word in any of the cited policy directives; their citing a construction company manager, in the unlikely event that he actually used the word imin, is still indicative of nothing) — only temporary stopgap laborers who will give their best working lives and then be sent home at the first economic downturn.  As has happened before, most cruelly.

As much as the article might be trying to attract eyeballs by putting a superlative “record number of” in the headline (and once again sneaking in an angle of hope of actual “immigration” happening), the only change that has happened here is that more NJ are being processed by an exploitative system — one that has by design remained relatively unchanged for nearly three decades, and moreover has been expanded to exploit even more.  So many misdirected angles here.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito.

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

NATIONAL
Foreign workers in Japan hit the 1 million mark for the first time last autumn: ministry
REUTERS/Japan Times JAN 27, 2017
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/01/27/national/foreign-workers-japan-hit-1-million-mark-first-time-last-autumn-ministry/

The number of foreign workers in Japan surpassed 1 million for the first time last year, as the labor-strapped country struggles to find enough Japanese workers.

Slightly over a million foreigners from countries such as China and Vietnam were working here as of October, labor ministry data showed Friday.

That was up nearly 20 percent from the previous year and a new record for the fourth straight year.

The figures suggest Japan is increasingly turning to overseas workers to plug its labor shortages despite its reluctance to accept them.

The country is facing its worst labor crunch since 1991 amid a shrinking and aging population, which has prompted calls from the International Monetary Fund for it to accept more overseas workers to boost economic growth.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the country should put more Japanese women and the elderly to work first before accepting immigrants, but policymakers are exploring ways to bring in more foreign workers without calling it “immigration.”

In December, the government expanded the scope of a system for accepting trainee workers from developing countries, while also creating a new visa status for nurses and domestic helpers.

It also aims to court highly skilled workers from overseas, such as academic researchers, by easing the path to permanent residency.

The labor shortage is especially severe in the construction sector, where demand has spiked ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and for rebuilding following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

Over 41,000 laborers from abroad powered the construction industry as of last October, up from around 29,000 the previous year.

In November, there were over eight times as many job offers for putting together steel construction frames as there were workers, separate government data showed.

“We have on-site managers through our company, but the people who actually do the work, that’s where we lack skilled labor,” said a manager at a major construction company. “That’s where we have to find the people, and why we are trying to open gates to immigrants.”

Workers from China made up over 30 percent of the foreign labor force, rising 6.9 percent from the previous year.

Vietnamese workers were in second place, accounting for around 16 percent of the total foreign workers but up over 50 percent compared to the previous year.

A Reuters investigation last year showed how asylum seekers, some of whom are banned from working, are working on public works projects amid a shortage of Japanese construction workers.

The trainee system, whose aim is to train foreign workers so they can bring skills back to their home country, is often used by labor-strapped companies to secure workers. The program has been long dogged by cases of labor abuse including illegal overtime and unpaid wages, prompting criticism from Human Rights Watch and the U.S. State Department.

Nearly 20 percent of foreign workers were trainees as of last October, labor ministry data showed, rising by over 25 percent from the previous year.
ENDS

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ends


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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

==============================
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CR on how Japan’s blue-chip companies (Canon) get around new Labor Contract Law: Special temp job statuses and capped contracts for NJ

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s a submission from Debito.org Reader CR, about the application of the “five year rule” of Japanese Labor Contract Law in Japan’s blue-chip companies. Although the 2003 revision in the law was meant to say, “five years of contract renewals means you must rehire the person as a regular employee (sei sha-in) without a contract” (which would end the exploitative system of unstable employment through perpetual contracting), it’s had the opposite effect:  encouraging employers to cap the contracts at five years.  Meaning that starting from April 1, 2018, five years since the revised Labor Contract Law took effect, we’re expecting to see a mass firing of Japan’s contract laborers.

This is precisely what has been happening to Japan’s non-tenured foreign academics for generations in Japan’s Academic Apartheid System, with the occasional “massacre” of older Japanese contracted academics just to save money, but now it’s being expanded systemwide to the non-academic private sector.  We’ve seen rumblings of its application at Tohoku University for everyone.  But of course we have to make it even worse for foreign workers:  At Canon, one of Japan’s flagship companies, NJ are being given special “temp” employment categories with contracts explicitly capped at five years from the outset.  One more reason to read your employment contracts carefully, if not avoid entirely the increasingly unstable and segregated jobs in Japanese companies.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

——————————————–

From: CR
Date: December 8, 2016
Hi Debito,

Long-time reader, few-times commenter. I’m contacting you because I think this would be a good follow-up to your post about the 5-year massacre issue.

I work as a translator for Canon. Although I don’t work at the 本社 (HQ), I am a Canon Inc. employee.

First, let’s just get this out of the way: you are welcome to use any information I provide here in your blog (and I am willing to get additional information as far as I am able), but I would prefer to remain anonymous.

At Canon, NJ are hired as “プロ社員” (pro sha-in), which basically means “contract employee”. Note that there is also a “Jプロ社員” (J-pro sha-in) category, as Japanese can also be hired as contract employees (my understanding is Japanese who are 中途採用 (chuuto saiyou, or halfway hires) start as contract employees, but can move to 正社員 (sei sha-in, or regular non-contract workers) within a year or two; I don’t know the conditions for this, however).

The contracts are typical one-year contracts with the option of renewal, provided renewal is the desire of both parties; basically the standard you would expect. As you know, in 2013 the revision to the Labor Contract Act came into effect, essentially giving contract employees an avenue to become 正社員 regular non-contract workers after five years of continuous, contract-based employment (the earliest this could happen for an employee is then April 1, 2018). This, presumably, was designed to help people like myself achieve greater employment security.

Here’s the thing. Apparently, after the revision to the law, and I’m not sure of the exact date that they started doing this because to my knowledge there are not really frequent hirings of NJ and nobody I’ve spoken with seems to know, NJ hires have a clause in their contract stipulating that there will be no further renewal after their period of employment reaches the 5-year mark. Potential hires are informed of this before or during the interview process, apparently, so those in the know can make an informed decision. However, it is also my understanding that there are people who were hired before this change took place and are being grandfathered in; in other words, the 5-year limit clause is not being added to their contracts, and presumably they will be able to become 正社員 when the time comes, but newer NJ hired will not.

Obviously I’m pretty incensed about this, it’s difficult to work in an environment where there are clear discriminations such as this. Note that while I believe the discriminations are racially-based, the only thing that is visible is based off nationality. I don’t know how the company handles NJ who have naturalized, or even if any naturalized Japanese citizens are among the employee ranks. It rankles even more because there are always various “Compliance”-related initiatives, announcements, and activities, to show employees how important it is to play fair, not discriminate, follow the rules and the law, etc.

So, big, established, famous, international Japanese companies are already putting discriminatory clauses that violate the spirit, if not exactly the letter, of the law into the contracts of NJ. Also, this effectively puts the kibosh on any potential promotions of NJ; you cannot be promoted as a contract employee. The glass ceiling is alive and well.

It would be nice to this get some attention and change as a result, but I won’t hold my breath about changes, at least.

All the best, CR

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

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

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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

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

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

The U.S.: two tribes go to war […]

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Embedded Racism” has been discounted 30% for a limited time to $34.99 in paperback and Kindle if bought through publisher Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield directly.

Go to https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781498513906/Embedded-Racism-Japan’s-Visible-Minorities-and-Racial-Discrimination and use promo code LEX30AUTH16.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Discussion: Should I stay or should I go? What’s your personal threshold for staying in or leaving Japan?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Some weeks ago a Debito.org Reader posed an interesting question to the Comments Section. Let me rephrase it like this:

  • What is your threshold for remaining in a society? Are there any conditions which will occasion you to consider an exit strategy?

Caveats: Of course, this can apply to anyone anywhere. But a) since this is a blog about Japan, and b) people who have chosen to live in another society for whatever reason have the experience of moving from one place to another (hence “hometown inertia” is not a factor), let’s make this specific to people who are living (or have lived) in Japan.

What would have to happen (or did happen) for you to have to decide to move out of Japan?

It’s an interesting hypothetical. For some expats/residents/immigrants in history, even a war was not enough (see the interesting case of William Gorham). So it’s all a matter of personal preference. What’s yours? Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

embeddedracismcover

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And guess where? Chiba and IBARAKI!

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

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

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

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

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

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

See? It all makes sense now.

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

ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date: April 4, 2016
From: AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date: April 14, 2016
From: CD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope this helps! Sincerely, CD

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

Date: April 14, 2016
From: EF

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

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

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

Date: April 15, 2016
From: GH

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

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

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

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

Date: April 15, 2016
From: AB

To: ARUDOU, Debito

Hello Debito san,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Here’s an article talking about policy shift towards Japan’s immigration policy in all but name.  It’s still something in the pipeline with policy trial balloons (and the obligatory caution about how foreigners pose a “public safety” risk), so Debito.org is not heralding any sea changes.  Plus the reporters severely undermine the credibility of their article by citing their hairdresser as a source!  Ignore that bad science and let’s focus upon the current debate in stasis.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BY ANY OTHER NAME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conservatives are likely to resist major change.

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

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

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

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

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
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If you like what you read and discuss on Debito.org, please consider helping us stop hackers and defray maintenance costs with a little donation via my webhoster:
Donate towards my web hosting bill!
All donations go towards website costs only. Thanks for your support!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Nate Nossal Ph.D., Ishikawa Prefecture

ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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

mytest

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

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

Some highlights:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+++ WHAT’S NEW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is no joke and the situation is prompting all kinds of abnormal (but perfectly logical) behavior by the public. For example, there has been a surge in cash hoardings, with an extra 6.2% ten thousand yen bills going into circulation last year, the highest jump in demand since 2002. This means that there is now totally about JPY100trn (US$890bn) of cash in circulation, around 20% of the total economy. And to hold all that cash, there has also been a run on home safes, with sales soaring 60% to 70% above last year.

It’s ironic that even as consumers distrust the government, they still trust it to honor the bills it issues.

Well, not everyone trusts the government to honor its paper and as the Japanese are generally well educated there is a growing segment of the community that is starting to buy gold. The price of gold bars has risen to JPY5,027/gram and demand in 2015 was up a whopping 70%, from 17.9 metric tons in 2014 to 32.8 tons in 2015. This makes Japan the seventh largest consumer of gold in Asia, even though as a nation they don’t really have a recent gold culture like the Chinese and Indians do. At this rate, Japanese consumers will spend about JPY300bn in 2016 just on gold.

So what is the government to do with this seemingly intractable situation? There are really only two ways forward for Abe’s government: either confront their personal demons and attack and reform vested interests while funding SMEs who are the real growth engines for the country, OR, devalue all that cash hidden under mattresses through more inflationary policies and distract the public’s attention with a little military adventure.

And what better than a little military adventure against the Chinese bogeyman through a SE Asian proxy such as the Philippines?

ENDS

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

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ABC News Australia: Video on PM Abe’s secretive and ultra-conservative organization “Nippon Kaigi”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here is an excellent bit of investigative journalism done by the Australians on an organization that the USG would do well to do their own research on (and the US media pay due attention to):  PM Abe’s Nippon Kaigi, which threatens to undo just about everything The American Occupation did to demilitarize Postwar Japan and defang its self-destructive ultranationalism.  Why hasn’t anyone else done a good in-depth report on them, even after this came out over a year ago?  Because it’s probably not something people want to believe–that the belligerent elements of Prewar Japan are not only ascendant, they are already well-organized within Japan’s highest echelons of government.  A transcript follows, but I strongly recommend people click on the link and watch the video at the ABC News Australia Lateline program to get the full effect.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2015/s4364818.htm

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

Lifting the lid on one of the most influential, and secretive, political organisations in Japan

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 02/12/2015

Reporter: Matthew Carney

Nippon Kaigi, or ‘Japan Conference’, has an impressive list of members and aims to reshape Japanese politics and policies, and Lateline gains rare access to this secretive and ultra-conservative organisation.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: It’s been described as one of the most influential political organisations in Japan. Nippon Kaigi, or Japan Conference, has an impressive list of members and advisors, including the Prime Minister and much of his cabinet. But very little is known about this right-wing nationalist lobby group which aims to reshape Japanese politics and policies and even change the Constitution. It operates mostly out of the public eye, but North Asia correspondent Matthew Carney gained rare access to file this exclusive story for Lateline.

MATTHEW CARNEY, REPORTER: A call has gone out and people from all over Japan have responded. To hear a vision from one of Japan’s most powerful political organisations, the Nippon Kaigi. And it’s back to the future. Nippon Kaigi want to restore the status of the Emperor, keep women in the home to nurture family and rebuild the might of the armed forces.

To do that, they have to scrap the pacifist constitution that was imposed by the Americans. This is the first step, they say, to shake off the shame of the defeat in World War II and restore pride.

YOSHIKO SAKURAI, JOURNALIST (voiceover translation): We need to ask ourselves: will the current constitution of Japan protect Japan and its people? The answer is no. We need a constitution that reflects the true Japanese identity.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The biggest champion to the cause and the group’s specialist advisor is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself.

SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (voiceover translation): To create a constitution suitable for the 21st Century, that’s where it needs to be spread throughout Japan. I seek your continued support on this. Let’s move forward towards changing the Constitution.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The Nippon Kaigi has serious clout. The Deputy Prime Minister is also a member, as well as 80 per cent of the cabinet, as are almost half of all parliamentarians. It’s a kind of uber lobby group that uses its 38,000 members to mobilise support.

The Nippon Kaigi has pledged to collect 10 million signatures by next April to change the Constitution. Some say it’s a cult-like organisation.

KOICHI NAKANO, SOPHIA UNIVERSITY: I think it is, you know, cultish, in the sense that it’s very sectarian. They have a very strong view of us and them. They have a sense of the inner group because they feel victimised, marginalised and they have been subjected to severe injustice, that they need to take back Japan.

MATTHEW CARNEY: But their spokesperson says they are only trying to normalise Japan.

AKIRA MOMOCHI, NIPPON KAIGI, STRATEGIC COMMITTEE (voiceover translation): It is proper for an independent sovereign nation to have an army. There are no sovereign nations without one. Armies are deterrents. They exist to prevent war. We’ll keep our pacifist traditions, but we need to respond to the rising threat of China.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The fundamental vision for many in the group is to go back to a time when they say Japan was pure and free from foreign influence, like the Edo Period in the 16th to 18th centuries when outsiders were strictly forbidden and Japanese culture flourished. They believe this beautiful Japan has been lost.

HIDEAKI KASE, NIPPON KAIGI, TOKYO BRANCH: There are two Japans. One is traditional Japan and one is Westernised Japan. And we wish to revert to the traditional Japan.

KOICHI NAKANO: They are romantic, they are irrational, they live in their own world. So they lack strategic thinking in terms of what they are going for and for what reason and how does that serve national interest in realistic terms?

MATTHEW CARNEY: The darker side to the organisation is to deny any wrongdoing in Japan’s war-time past. They assert World War II was one of defence, not aggression. They say comfort women were not sex slaves, but well-paid prostitutes and the rape and pillage of Nanjing in China that historians say killed up to 200,000 was a fiction.

HIDEAKI KASE: There was no massacre at all. That is an utterly false accusation.

KOICHI NAKANO: They try to rewrite history in order – and they think that this is fundamental to what they see as Japan’s need to restore pride. They think that because the kids and the – you know, the adults of Japan are being brainwashed by self-blame and a sense of shame in their history.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Many in Japan think Nippon Kaigi’s ideas are dangerous and have to be countered. Professor Setsu Kobayashi is one of the country’s top constitutional experts.

SETSU KOBAYASHI, CONSTITUTIONAL EXPERT (voiceover translation): They’re thinking about Asia before the war when Japan was the leader of Asia. They want to repeat that. They openly say that.

MATTHEW CARNEY: On his Friday lunchtime radio spot, he warns against reform of the Constitution, arguing it could lead Japan down the warpath. So far, Prime Minister Abe and Nippon Kaigi have succeeded in passing security bills that let the armed forces fight overseas again. Kobayashi says the move is unconstitutional.

SETSU KOBAYASHI (voiceover translation): The majority of people are not convinced. We have to fight and not give up, otherwise we’ll live under a dictatorship. Freedom and democracy will not exist.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Professor Kobayashi was once a member of Nippon Kaigi, but is now one of its biggest critics. He tried to change them from the inside, but couldn’t. As a self-described commoner, he says the organisation is one of elites, out of touch with the people. Polls consistently show that the majority of Japanese don’t want the country’s pacifist constitution to change.

SETSU KOBAYASHI (voiceover translation): They want to achieve the dream that Japan pursued pre-war to be one of the top five military powers in the world. To enable this, our country will go around the world fighting wars alongside the Americans. Mr Abe went to the United Nations and said that Japan will seek aggressive peace; militarism is another name.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Professor Kobayashi now devotes much of his time fighting the Nippon Kaigi and the reform of the Constitution. He believes it’s a battle for the very hearts and minds of the Japanese and the outcome will decide the country’s future. The Nippon Kaigi say their ambition is to simply protect Japan and its identity.

AKIRA MOMOCHI (voiceover translation): It is a difference of opinion. We want to retain the Japanese traditions, to make Japan as it should be. We have the power to do it.

ENDS

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

Asahi: Survey: Discrimination encountered by 42% of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward; Asahi wants NJ resident opinions

mytest

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Hi Blog.  The Asahi Shinbun recently has been doing specials on NJ as residents of Japan (another positive step towards situating them in Japan and humanizing them properly).  First, they do some assessments of the problems of discrimination, then they ask for feedback from NJ readers (“The Asahi Shimbun is also seeking opinions from foreign residents about life in Japanese communities at the AJW website. Please send in your contributions in English to asahi_forum@asahi.com”) and give it in follow-up articles (such as the fluff piece on “Do as the Romans do” also included below).  At least somebody is broaching the possibilities of immigration and assimilation.

Debito.org Readers, please feel free to take up the Asahi’s invitation.  Many of you are already, like it or not, Visible Minorities.  Now be Visible Residents.  And I hope that the GOJ expands its discrimination surveys beyond Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, nationwide.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Survey: Discrimination encountered by 42% of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward
Asahi Shinbun, January 25, 2016, courtesy of JK
By YURI IMAMURA/ Staff Writer
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201601250038

Around 42.3 percent of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward “often” or “sometimes” feel discriminated against by Japanese people, particularly during searches for a home, a survey showed.

In comparison, 47.2 percent of non-Japanese in the ward said they “never” or “not too often” experience such discrimination, according to the survey by the Shinjuku Ward government.

The situation most cited for prejudice or discrimination against foreign residents was “when they were searching for a place to live,” at 51.9 percent, followed by “when they were working,” at 33.2 percent, and “when they were going through procedures at a public agency,” at 25.6 percent.

Around 38,000 foreign residents make up 11 percent of Shinjuku Ward’s population.

The ward sent questionnaires to 7,000 randomly selected foreign and Japanese residents listed in the Basic Resident Register last summer for the Survey on Multicultural Living in Shinjuku Ward. It received responses from about 2,000 residents through autumn.

A total of 22.1 percent of the Japanese residents said that having foreign neighbors is “favorable” or “relatively favorable,” surpassing the 16.9 percent who said it is “unfavorable” or “relatively unfavorable.”

The Japanese respondents, however, cited various concerns about having foreign neighbors.

Some 47.6 percent of the Japanese said, “I am worried about how they would take out the garbage,” followed by 35.4 percent who said, “I am worried about loud voices and other noises from their rooms.”

On the positive side, 28.1 percent of the Japanese respondents said having foreign neighbors “would help me take an interest in foreign countries,” while 26.7 percent said it “would help increase my chances to experience foreign cultures.”

Asked what is most needed to eliminate prejudice and discrimination, 50.7 percent of the Japanese said “accepting the different lifestyles of each other.”

AJW is also seeking views from foreign residents about life in Japanese communities.

////////////////////////
TO OUR READERS: AJW seeks views from foreign residents about life in Japanese communities
January 08, 2016, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201601080088

Opening up Japan to more immigrants has been proposed to deal with demographic problems facing Japan, including a declining and graying population.

But that option raises the question of whether Japanese communities are prepared to allow more foreign residents into their neighborhoods.

That is why the AJW site wants to hear from foreign residents of Japan as part of a project being organized by The Asahi Shimbun.

The vernacular Asahi is planning a weekly series of special pages on the theme of Japanese and foreigners living in the same community. The series is scheduled to begin in late January and will run in the weekend issues of the Asahi.

A main objective of the special pages will be to determine what factors help or stand in the way of Japanese who live in neighborhoods with an increasing number of foreign residents.

Special pages in the past have dealt with various themes, and the views sent in by readers were the main material used in putting together the pages.

For the new theme that will begin in January, the pages will again consist mainly of the views and opinions sent in by Japanese readers.

But to provide a different perspective on the issue, we are also interested in hearing from foreign residents to get their side of the story.

We would like to hear about your experiences in living in Japanese communities, your interactions with your neighbors as well as comparisons with life in your native land or in other nations where you may have once lived.

The contributions sent in by foreign residents will be used to shed a different light on interactions between Japanese and foreign residents in various communities.

Please send in your contributions in English to asahi_forum@asahi.com

We ask that you also include your name and a contact number in case reporters at the Asahi wish to make further contact to ask you questions.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
ENDS

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

Asahi readers weigh in on ‘do as the Romans do’ in Japan for foreign residents
January 26, 2016
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201601260001

Asahi Shimbun readers are divided over whether foreign nationals living in Japan should “do as the Romans do” to assimilate in this multicultural age.

With the number of foreign residents hitting a record high of 2.17 million as of June 2015, many readers referred to the positive contributions that non-Japanese can make to their communities, while others were concerned about cultural friction and deteriorating public safety.

A central issue was whether foreign nationals need to embrace the “do as the Romans do” approach to become fully functioning members of their communities.

Younger generations, citing growing globalization, said such a mentality was counterproductive.

Of 699 people who responded to an online questionnaire posted in early January, 495 said as of Jan. 21 that a society with a sizable foreign community will inevitably be multicultural where people with diverse cultural backgrounds and values live harmoniously.

Respondents are allowed to pick multiple answers.

In 465 cases, respondents said such a multicultural society will provide greater opportunities for members to learn and experience different languages and cultures.

However, 371 agreed that a multicultural society could create cultural friction over language and lifestyle differences, while 275 voiced concern that accepting a huge influx of immigrants could have a major impact on public safety.

Of the 699 respondents, 335 said they feel very familiar brushing shoulders with foreign residents and 197 said they are somewhat familiar with foreigners, while 124 said they are not very familiar, followed by 43 people who said they are not at all familiar with foreigners.

The survey also collected opinion letters, and readers turned out to be divided over what attitude foreign nationals should adopt in order to become fully functioning members of Japanese society.

A woman in her 50s from Osaka Prefecture said foreign nationals should adopt the “do as the Romans do” mentality and respect Japanese laws, culture and customs if they want to create symbiotic relations with Japanese.

“I believe the ‘do as the Romans do’ attitude is essential for anyone to live in a foreign country, and I would like to ask how many foreigners came to Japan with the idea of respecting Japanese culture in such a manner,” the woman wrote.

A respondent from Tokyo in her 40s said that “if a foreigner chooses to live in Japan, he or she must at least have respect for Japanese culture and manners.”

However, she added that “I think the time is ripe for Japanese people to reform their island-nation mentality, which tends to exclude outsiders.”

“I myself need to keep an open mind to build friendly relations with foreign residents,” she wrote.

A man from Kyoto in his 20s also argued that requiring all members in society to adopt a “do as the Romans do” attitude is obsolete in this era of globalization.

“Culture is a transient thing by nature, and globalization has made us live in a highly diversified world,” he said. “What we need to do is find ways for different cultures and value systems to coexist in harmony.”

Sam Teckenbrock, a 58-year-old U.S.-born resident of Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, who has served as chairman of the local neighborhood association for the past seven years, said foreigners certainly need to develop the “do as the Romans do,” although he concede it was very frustrating for him trying to become accustomed to Japanese culture at first.

“Japanese are tactful as to what they say on the surface and what they truly mean, and it confused me a lot, but I eventually learned that speaking this way is partly meant to avoid hurting another person’s feelings,” he said.

“I don’t think it is difficult at all for Japanese and foreigners to live together in harmony when they candidly tell each other things they could not comprehend and try to understand each other in person.”

* * *

The Asahi Shimbun is also seeking opinions from foreign residents about life in Japanese communities at the AJW website. Please send in your contributions in English to asahi_forum@asahi.com

JT: Sakanaka argues success of ‘Abenomics’ hinges on immigration policy (old article from May 2014; not much has changed)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s an article that is about a year and a half old, but it’s remarkable how much the landscape of the debate on immigration into Japan has not changed since.  We have immigration proponent Sakanaka Hidenori (of whom I am a fan:  I cite him extensively in book “Embedded Racism“, and deal with the arguments below in Ch. 10) meeting with people who are only concerned about money, and arguing that immigration is also important for them to keep their fix.  Meanwhile, from a political standpoint, it is clear in the article below that Abe and his power elite aren’t really going to budge on the issue either:  To them, foreign residents are merely temporary workers, who should come here and contribute but not expect a stake in their investments into this society.  Not really news, I guess, but the issue is laid out so nakedly clear here, especially in the last half of the article.  Have a read.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Success of ‘Abenomics’ hinges on immigration policy
BY REIJI YESHIVA, THE JAPAN TIMES MAY 18, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/05/18/national/success-abenomics-hinges-immigration-policy/

In March, Hidenori Sakanaka, a former director of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, was contacted by — and met with — a group of people he had never dreamed of crossing paths with: asset managers from global investment firms.

Sakanaka, who now heads the Japan Immigration Policy Institute in Tokyo, was asked to explain Japan’s notoriously tight immigration policies and his proposal to drastically ease them to save Japan from the severe consequences of its rapidly aging and shrinking population.

Sakanaka said the asset managers showed strong interest in a remark made the previous month by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and that they were wondering if they should buy Japanese assets, such as stocks and real estate.

In February, Abe indicated he is considering easing Japan’s immigration policies to accept more migrant workers to drive long-term economic growth.

The asset managers reportedly included representatives from investment giants BlackRock Inc. and Capital Group.

“Global investors have a consistent policy of not investing in a country with a shrinking working and consumer population,” Sakanaka told The Japan Times.

“If the working population keeps shrinking, it will keep pushing down consumption and the country will be unable to maintain economic growth. In short, this means the growth strategies of ‘Abenomics’ can’t be successful without accepting immigrants,” Sakanaka said.

Abe is set to revamp in June the elusive “third arrow” of his economic program — structural reforms and subsidies that could boost Japan’s potential for mid- to long-term growth.

Whether drastic deregulation of immigration is part of the third arrow is something that both the public and the foreign investment firms want to know.

Japan’s population will dramatically shrink over the next five decades, from 117.52 million in 2012 to 87 million in 2060 — if the fertility rate doesn’t climb. The rate is expected to hover at 1.39 this year before dipping to 1.33 through 2024 and edging up to 1.35 for the foreseeable future.

Gross domestic product is expected to shrink accordingly, which could reduce the world’s third-largest economy to a minor player both economically and politically, many fear.

“Whether to accept (more) immigrants or not is an issue relevant to the future of our country and the overall life of the people. I understand that (the government) should study it from various angles after undergoing national-level discussions,” Abe told the Lower House Budget Committee on Feb. 13.

On May 12, members of a special government advisory panel on deregulation proposed creating six special regions where visa regulations would be eased to attract more foreign professionals and domestic helpers and baby sitters to assist them.

The daily Nikkei reported the government is likely to insert visa deregulation for certain types of foreigners in the Abenomics revamp due in June, but how many he is willing to let in remains unclear.

The conservative politician has so far appeared reluctant to promote heavy immigration and risk transforming Japan’s stable but rather rigid and exclusive society.

Abe has argued Japan should give more foreigners three- to five-year visas rather than let a massive number of immigrants permanently settle in Japan.

“What are immigrants? The U.S. is a country of immigrants who came from all around the world and formed the (United States). Many people have come to the country and become part of it. We won’t adopt a policy like that,” Abe said on a TV program aired April 20.

“On the other hand, it is definitely true that Japan’s population will keep shrinking and Japan will see a labor shortage in various production fields,” Abe said, adding he will consider easing regulations on issuing three- to five-year visas.

“It’s not an immigrant policy. We’d like them to work and raise incomes for a limited period of time, and then return home,” Abe said.

Among the core supporters of LDP lawmakers, including Abe himself, are nationalistic voters opposed to welcoming large numbers of unskilled foreign laborers, who are now barred from Japan. They fear that bringing in such people would increase the crime rate and deprive Japanese of job opportunities in the still-sluggish economy. This concern seems to be shared by a majority of Japanese. According to a poll by the daily Yomiuri Shimbun in April, while 74 percent of the 1,512 polled said they believe population decline will hurt Japan’s economy and contribute to its decline, 54 percent said they opposed bringing in more foreigners versus 37 percent who backed the idea.

Two high-ranking officials close to Abe, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said they are aware that foreign investors are interested in potential changes in Japanese immigration policy.

But their main interest appears to be to keep foreign investors interested in Japan, and trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, rather than transform Japan into a multicultural society by accepting more immigrants.

One of the two officials has repeatedly suggested he is paying close attention to foreign investors, pointing out that it is they, not Japanese investors, who have been pushing up stock prices since Abe took office in December 2012.

“We won’t call it an immigration policy, but I think we should accept more foreign workers,” the official said in February.

Hiking immigration is a sensitive issue for the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, the official said. But the idea of using them to fill shortages in medical, nursing, child care, for example, would be more palatable to such politicians, the official added.

Abe’s call for more short- to midterm migrant workers might help the short-handed construction, medical and nursing industries, among others. But it is unlikely to solve Japan’s long-term population crisis.

Junichi Goto, professor of economics at Keio University and an expert on immigration issues, said few people are opposed to bringing in more foreign professionals to reinvigorate the economy and that deregulation is urgently needed.

When it comes to unskilled workers, however, Goto is opposed to flooding Japan with cheap labor and says that a national consensus on the issue hasn’t been formed yet.

According to Goto’s studies and simulations, bringing in low-wage, unskilled foreigners would benefit consumers by pushing down domestic labor costs and thus prices for goods and services, thereby boosting consumption. On the other hand, he says the cost of domestic education, medical and other public services would rise.

The benefits of bringing in foreigners will far outweigh the demerits, unless Japan ships them in by the millions, Goto’s study says.

“If the Japanese people wish to accept millions of foreign workers, that would be OK. But I don’t think they are ready for such a big social change yet,” Goto said.

Instead, Goto argued that Japan should first encourage more women and elderly to work to offset the predicted shrinkage. It should then ease regulations to lure foreign professionals rather than unskilled laborers, and reform the rigid seniority-based wage system to make it easier for midcareer foreigners to enter the labor market, Goto said.

At any rate, the rapid demographic changes now hitting Japan are unlikely to leave much time for the people to make a decision.

The proportion of seniors 65 or older will surge from 24 percent to as much as 39.9 percent in 2060, raising the burden on younger generations to support social security.

The Japan Policy Council, a study group of intellectuals from various fields, estimates that in 2040, 896 of Japan’s municipalities, or virtually half, will see the number of women in their 20s and 30s decline by more than half from 2010 as they flock to big cities.

Such municipalities “could eventually vanish” even if the birthrate recovers, the group warned in a report May 8.

Sakanaka praised Abe’s February remarks, saying it is a significant change from Japan’s long-standing reluctance to accept foreign workers.

But if Abe decides to open Japan only to short-term migrants, rather than permanent immigrants, Abenomics will end in failure, Sakanaka warned.
ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE 94 Annual Top Ten: “Battles over history, the media and the message scar 2015”, Jan. 3, 2016

mytest

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Hi Blog. My latest Just Be Cause column 94 for the Japan Times Community Page:

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg
Battles over history, the media and the message scar 2015
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
THE JAPAN TIMES, JAN 3, 2016

2015 was another year of a few steps forward but many steps back in terms of human rights in Japan. The progressive grass roots consolidated their base and found more of a voice in public, while conservatives at the top pressed on with their agenda of turning the clock back to a past they continue to misrepresent. Here are the top 10 human rights issues of the year as they affected non-Japanese residents:

10) NHK ruling swats ‘flyjin’ myth

In November, the Tokyo District Court ordered NHK to pay ¥5.14 million to staffer Emmanuelle Bodin, voiding the public broadcaster’s decision to terminate her contract for fleeing Japan in March 2011. The court stated: “Given the circumstances under which the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima No. 1 plant’s nuclear accident took place, it is absolutely impossible to criticize as irresponsible her decision to evacuate abroad to protect her life,” and that NHK “cannot contractually obligate people to show such excessive allegiance” to the company.

This ruling legally reaffirmed the right of employees to flee if they feel the need to protect themselves. So much for the “flyjin” myth and all the opprobrium heaped upon non-Japanese specifically for allegedly deserting their posts…

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/01/03/issues/battles-history-media-message-scar-2015/

JT: Anti-war student organization SEALDs to disband after Upper House poll in 2016

mytest

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Hi Blog. Now here’s something I find profoundly disappointing. One bright outcome of Japan’s Right-Wing Swing was the reenergizing of the Grassroots Left, with regular public demonstrations promoting anti-racism and tolerance. However, one group that attracted a lot of attention for opposing PM Abe’s policies, the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs), made an announcement (at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, no less) last October that their leadership wasn’t just stepping down due to graduation from university — they were disbanding the entire group within a year.

That makes the leadership comes off as human-rights hobbyists. There is no need to make what should be a handing over of the reins to the next generation into a public spectacle of disbandment. Alas, they’re quitting, and taking the brand name with them. Abe must be grinning in great satisfaction. From eroding Japan’s democratic institutions to making investigation of government chicanery illegal to marching Japan back to its martial past (while decimating Japan’s Left in formal Japanese politics), Abe is truly winning this fight. He’s even got these brave kids running scared.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Anti-war student organization to close shop after Upper House poll
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, THE JAPAN TIMES, OCT 28, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/10/28/national/politics-diplomacy/anti-war-student-organization-close-shop-upper-house-poll/

A pro-democracy student group behind this summer’s massive youth protest against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s security legislation plans to dissolve after next year’s Upper House election, members said Wednesday.

Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs) gained widespread attention over the summer for a series of anti-war rallies held near the Diet building to protest the administration’s push to allow the nation’s military to fight abroad for the first time since the end of World War II.

Known for its unconventional demonstrations, which included rap-influenced music and stylish placards, the group was hailed for leading a resurgence in youth activism that sparked hopes in society that the nation’s politically apathetic youngsters may be changing.

“Since we started our activities as an ‘emergency action,’ and many of our members are slated to graduate from universities soon, SEALDs will dissolve after next summer’s Upper House election,” group member Mana Shibata, 22, revealed during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

“After that, if individual persons want to take action or create another movement, they are free to do so.”

Before their movement became SEALDs, many members protested the state secrecy law — contentious legislation championed by Abe that many said would impinge on people’s right to know or discover crucial government information. That group called itself SASPL, or Students Against Secret Protection Law.

After the security bills were rammed through the Diet last month, SEALDs will now focus its activities on gearing up for next summer’s Upper House election, members said. Its newest mission: to call on opposition parties to form a united front against the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Noting that the passage of the bills signals Japan’s democracy is “on the verge of collapse,” member Takeshi Suwahara, 22, said: “What is happening is a crisis. I know opposition parties have their own conflicting interests. But they must listen to voices of the public and cooperate with each other.”

Dismayed at an ever-decreasing voter turnout among the young, SEALDs will also ramp up efforts to encourage younger people to vote in elections.

The nation’s 18- and 19-year-olds will now for the first time be allowed to cast ballots in accordance with a legal revision in June.

Aside from making continued efforts to organize related rallies and symposiums, members will try to establish voting booths in places such as train stations, shopping malls and universities, they said.

“Demographically speaking, young people in Japan are underrepresented and as a result it’s difficult for their voices to be reflected in politics and fulfill their needs for education and social welfare. I believe this election is a chance to change such a trend,” Suwahara said.

ENDS

WSJ: PM Abe Shinzo First Non-American to Win Conservative Hudson Institute Award — and other American neocons egging on Japan’s remilitarization

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Now here’s something interesting (and geopolitical, but positive overseas recognition like this helps keep Abe’s popularity ratings up (and the money to the LDP rolling in, and Japan’s right-wing swing swinging, etc.):

According to the article below, less than a year after being returned to power and decimating Japan’s Leftists, PM Abe received this award from an American conservative think-tank.  It’s clear that conservative elements in the hegemon wish Japan to have a leader like Abe honored and in power.  I’m not quite sure why.  It would be facile to think it’s merely because the US wants to maintain bases and a weapons market, or even contain China.  No, think tanks like these are also grounded in morals and values that transcend economics and politics (such as, in this case, Abe’s alleged dedication to “democratic ideals”).  The funny thing is, these people seem to think Abe shares their values.  He really doesn’t, unless these people are fundamentally positive towards a racialized reorientation of Asia, where Japanese bigots settle old historical scores, pick fights, destabilize the region, and return Asia back on the course of an arms race.  I’m probably missing something (again, this isn’t quite my field), but I’m aghast at the short-sightedness of American neocons (especially, as noted below, the Heritage Foundation egging on the Ishiharas to purchase the disputed Senkaku rocks and inflame Sino-Japanese tensions).  As I was the similar short-sightedness of the Obama Administration honoring Abe years later (see also here).  I don’t think they understand what Frankenstein they’re creating.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Abe First Non-American to Win Conservative Hudson Institute Award
Wall Street Journal Sep 23, 2013
http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2013/09/23/abe-first-non-american-to-win-conservative-hudson-institute-award/

European Pressphoto Agency: The Hudson Institute says it’s honoring Shinzo Abe ‘as a transformative leader.’

On Sept. 25, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will join an elite group of right-leaning leaders like Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger and Dick Cheney, as the recipient of an award from conservative Washington D.C.-based think tank, Hudson Institute.

The award, named after Hudson Institute’s founder, the physicist-turned-geopolitical thinker Herman Kahn, is given every year to honor creative and visionary leaders with a Kahn-style dedication to national security–traditionally in the U.S. Mr. Abe will be the first non-American honoree to receive the Herman Kahn Award.

“Abe is being honored as a transformative leader seeking to advance the kind of reform necessary to restore Japan to full economic vitality,” the institute said in its news release. At the award ceremony to be held in New York on Wednesday, Mr. Abe is expected to deliver “a major speech” on economic reform in Japan and the continuing importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance, according to the release.

The Hudson Institute–as well as Mr. Kahn–has long had close ties with conservative leaders in Japan. Though Mr. Kahn started off his career as a physicist at the Rand Corporation in the 1940s, he moved on to writing about nuclear strategy with the publication of “On Thermonuclear War,” and then to the study of geopolitical trends, including the rise of Japan.

Mr. Kahn is known for predicting Japan’s ascendance as early as 1962, and in 1970 wrote “The Emerging Japanese Superstate,” in which he said that the country would “almost inevitably” become a great economic, technological and financial power–and would likely achieve global military and political clout as well. Mr. Kahn was a “confidante of every Japanese prime minister from Hayato Ikeda on,” until his death in 1983, the institute press release on the award to Mr. Abe said.

Mr. Abe too “is a longtime friend of Hudson Institute, someone who knows the critical importance of ideas to effective governance,” Hudson Institute Chief Executive Kenneth Weinstein said, in the release. “Given Herman Kahn’s legacy of research on Japan, it is altogether appropriate to honor Abe-san.”

Mr. Abe won’t be the first Japanese politician to speak at a Hudson Institute event, though. In December 2011, Nobuteru Ishihara, then secretary-general of Mr. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, also gave a speech, calling for swift nationalization of disputed islands in the East China Sea and deployment of Japanese troops there. The islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, have been a major source of diplomatic strain between the two countries.

“The importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance is increasing as a means to deter any attempt by a country to forcefully change the national borders,” Mr. Ishihara was quoted as saying by the Japanese press at the time.

Mr. Ishihara’s speech was quickly followed by one at the Heritage Foundation, another conservative U.S. think tank, given by his more famous–and controversial–father, Shintaro Ishihara. At that April 2012 speech, the elder Ishihara, who was then governor of Tokyo, unveiled a plan for the Tokyo government to purchase the disputed islands. Japan’s national government headed off that purchase by nationalizing the islands itself later in the year, sparking massive anti-Japanese protests in China.

Mr. Abe has made no secret of his own nationalist leanings. He’s pushing to strengthen Japan’s national security, as the nation feels growing pressure from China’s rising economic–and military–power. China’s annual military spending has grown rapidly in recent years, reaching $166 billion in 2012, nearly triple Japan’s $59 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

But Mr. Abe needs to walk a fine line. He can’t pursue his pet issue of national security unless he first addresses Japan’s economic and fiscal problems–major challenges on their own. Wednesday’s Hudson Institute speech will offer the latest clues on how Mr. Abe hopes to proceed. ENDS

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What the Hudson Institute itself says about the event:

2013 Herman Kahn Award Luncheon Honoring Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Hudson Institute, Sept. 25, 2013, courtesy of VF
http://www.hudson.org/events/1105-2013-herman-kahn-award-luncheon-honoring-japanese-prime-minister-shinzo-abe92013

(Video)
At a gala luncheon in New York on September 25, 2013, Hudson presented its annual Herman Kahn Award to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in recognition of his extraordinary career on the world stage—and his vigorous, principled promotion free markets, global security, and democratic ideals.

The Prime Minister was introduced at the event by his long-time friend and Hudson Senior Vice President Lewis Libby. Abe then took the stage himself to accept the Kahn Award, offering kind and generous remarks about Hudson before delivering a substantial and serious talk about his plans to reform the Japanese economy—and his determination “to make my beloved country a proactive contributor to peace.”

“Japan should not be a weak link in the regional and global security framework where the U.S. plays a leading role,” the Prime Minister said. “Japan is one of the world’s most mature democracies. Thus, we must be a net contributor to the provision of the world’s welfare and security. And we will. Japan will contribute to the peace and stability of the region and the world even more proactively than before.”

Hudson Institute Board Chair Sarah May Stern and Hudson President & CEO Kenneth R. Weinstein also made remarks during the ceremony, with Weinstein adding a special additional tribute to Hudson trustee Yoji Ohashi, Chairman of ANA Holdings Inc., for his visionary contributions to commercial aviation and dedication to a strong bilateral relationship between the United States and Japan.

ENDS

Interview with ABC News Radio Australia on my book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  ABC NewsRadio in Australia recently interviewed me about my latest book, “Embedded Racism:  Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination”, out now in hardback and eBook.  Enjoy.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Japan in Focus: A former Fukushima nuclear plant worker gets compensation, a new book explores racism in Japan, and why most married women give up their surnames.

ABC NewsRadio’s Eleni Psaltis presents Japan in Focus, a new program that takes a close look at significant political and cultural developments in Japan.

This week: A former Fukushima nuclear plant worker has become the first person to be awarded worker’s compensation by the Japanese government after being diagnosed with leukemia, Dr Arudou Debito from the University of Hawaii launches a new book on racism in Japan and how it has become embedded in laws and various social structures and the Japanese Supreme Court is considering whether it’s unconstitutional to force people to give up their surnames upon marriage.

Eleni Psaltis speaks to Komei Hosokawa from the Citizens’ Commission of Nuclear Energy, Dr Arudou Debito from the University of Hawaii and Japan Times journalist Masami Ito.
Duration: 15:08
First posted 26/10/2015 12:52:18

http://www.abc.net.au/newsradio/content/s4338971.htm

ENDS

My latest Japan Times JBC Col 93: “Tackle embedded racism before it chokes Japan”, summarizing my new book “Embedded Racism”

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Tackle embedded racism before it chokes Japan
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times, NOV 1, 2015

Japan has a dire problem it must address immediately: its embedded racism.

The country’s society and government are permeated by a narrative that says people must “look Japanese” before they can expect equal treatment in society.

That must stop. It’s a matter of Japan’s very survival.

We’ve talked about Japan’s overt racism in previous Just Be Cause columns: the “Japanese only” signs and rules that refuse entry and service to “foreigners” on sight (also excluding Japanese citizens who don’t “look Japanese”); the employers and landlords who refuse employment and apartments — necessities of life — to people they see as “foreign”; the legislators, administrators, police forces and other authorities and prominent figures that portray “foreigners” as a national security threat and call for their monitoring, segregation or expulsion.

But this exclusionism goes beyond a few isolated bigots in positions of power, who can be found in every society. It is so embedded that it becomes an indictment of the entire system.

In fact, embedded racism is key to how the system “works.” Or rather, as we shall see below, how it doesn’t…

Read the rest at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/11/01/issues/tackle-embedded-racism-chokes-japan/

Please comment below, and thanks for reading!

Japan Times: Japan sanctioning mass ‘slave labor’ by duping foreign trainees, observers say

mytest

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Hi Blog. This article is nearly a year old, but it is still worth a read, if only to remind everyone of how things have not changed in Japan’s exploitative visa regimes. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Japan sanctioning mass ‘slave labor’ by duping foreign trainees, observers say
By Harumi Ozawa, The Japan Times, November 23, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/11/23/national/japan-sanctioning-mass-slave-labor-via-foreign-trainee-program/

The first word En learned when he began working at a construction site in Japan after moving from China was “baka,” Japanese for “idiot.”

The 31-year-old farmer is one of 50,000 Chinese who signed up for a government-run program that promises foreigners the chance to earn money while acquiring valuable on-the-job training. Like many of his compatriots, he hoped to leave Japan with cash in his pocket and a new set of skills that would give him a better shot at work at home.

“My Japanese colleagues would always say baka to me,” said En, who spoke only on condition that his full name not be revealed. “I am exhausted physically and mentally.”

His problem is not the bullying by Japanese colleagues, nor the two-hour commute each-way or the mind-numbing work that largely consists of breaking apart old buildings. It is the ¥1 million he borrowed to take part in the Industrial Trainee and Technical Internship Program, ostensibly to cover traveling expenses and other “fees” charged by middlemen.

The loan has left him a virtual slave to Japan’s labor-hungry construction industry. “I cannot go back before I make enough money to repay the debt,” he said.

Japan is desperately short of workers to pay taxes to fund pensions and health care for its rapidly graying population, but it is almost constitutionally allergic to immigration. Less than 2 percent of the populace is classified as “non-Japanese” by the government; by comparison, around 13 percent of British residents are foreign-born.

This results, critics say, in ranks of poorly protected employees brought in through a government-sanctioned back door that is ripe for abuse and exploitation.

“This trainee program is a system of slave labor. You cannot just quit and leave. It’s a system of human trafficking, forced labor,” said Ippei Torii, director of Solidarity Network With Migrants Japan, a nongovernmental group that supports foreign workers.

Around a quarter of Japan’s population of 127 million is 65 or older, and this proportion is expected to jump to 40 percent in the coming decades. The heavily indebted government, which owes creditors more than twice what the economy generates annually, is scrambling to find the money to cover the welfare and health costs associated with the burgeoning ranks of the elderly even as the taxpayer base shrinks.

Japan’s average birthrate of around 1.4 children per woman, far below the level necessary to replenish the national workforce, is ratcheting up the pressure.

In most developed nations, this kind of shortfall is plugged by immigration, but Japan allows no unskilled workers into the country amid fears by some they would threaten the nation’s culture of consensus, an argument others view as mere cover for xenophobia.

But in 1993, as the economy was on the way down from its bubbly 1980s zenith, the government began the foreign trainee program, which allows tens of thousands of workers, mostly from China, Vietnam and Indonesia, to come to Japan and supply labor for industries including textiles, construction, farming and manufacturing.

The program, however, has not been without its critics. Japan’s top ally, the U.S., has even singled it out, with the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report for years slamming the program’s “deceptive recruitment practices.”

“The (Japanese) government did not prosecute or convict forced labor perpetrators despite allegations of labor trafficking in the TTIP,” it said this year, using the program’s acronym.

Past allegations include unpaid overtime work, karoshi (death from overwork), and all kinds of harassment, including company managers restricting the use of toilets or demanding sexual services.

The government rejects claims the program is abusive, yet acknowledges there have been some upstream problems. “It is true that some involved in the system have exploited it, but the government has acted against that,” an immigration official said. “It is not a system of slave labor.”

The official insisted it was not in authorities’ power to control the behavior of middlemen but insisted they were not allowed to charge deposit fees. “It is also banned for employers to take away trainees’ passports,” he added.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has unveiled a plan to expand the program that would allow foreign trainees to stay in Japan for five years instead of three, and says such labor will increasingly be needed, particularly in the construction boom ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Abe is also aware that the nation’s health care sector must increasingly look abroad to fill the shortage of workers.

“It has been said that we will need 1 million caregivers for the elderly by 2025, which would be impossible to handle only with the Japanese population,” said Tatsumi Kenmochi, a manager at a care home near Tokyo that employs Indonesian nurses.

For Kenmochi, foreign staff are a precious commodity and the sector must do as much as it can to make them feel welcome. “It must be hard to leave home and work overseas,” he said. “We make sure that they don’t get homesick, listening to them and sometimes going out to have a warm bowl of noodles with them.”

Torii of Solidarity Network With Migrants Japan said this is just the kind of attitude Japan needs to learn: “The issue is not whether we accept immigrants or not. They are already here, playing a vital role in our society.”

ENDS

My next Japan Times JBC 92 Oct. 5, 2015: “Conveyor belt of death shudders back to live”, on how Abe’s new security policy will revive Prewar martial Japan

mytest

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Hi Blog. My next Japan Times JBC 92 crystal balls again about Japan’s future based upon the landmark security legislation passed last month. JBC has been quite right about a lot of future developments these past few years. Let’s see how we do with this one. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Conveyor belt of death shudders back to live
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
Column 92 for The Japan Times Community Page
Monday, October 5, 2015

He’s done it.

As past JBCs predicted he would, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has gotten his way. Last month he closed a chapter on “pacifist Japan,” ramming through unpopular new security legislation that now allows Japanese military engagement in offensive maneuvers abroad.

That’s it then. The circle is complete. Japan is primed to march back to its pre-World War II systems of governance.

Now just to be clear: I don’t think there will be another world war based on this. However, I think in a generation or two (Japan’s militarists are patient – they’ve already waited two generations for this comeback), a re-armed (even quietly nuclear) Japan selling weapons and saber-rattling at neighbors will be quite normalized.

Alarmism? Won’t Japan’s affection for Article 9 forestall this? Or won’t the eventual failure of Abenomics lead to the end of his administration, perhaps a resurgence of the opposition left? I say probably not. We still have a couple more years of Prime Minister Abe himself (he regained the LDP leadership last month unopposed). But more importantly, he changed the laws.

So this is not a temporary aberration. This is legal interpretation and precedent, and it’s pretty hard to undo that (especially since the opposition left is even negotiating with the far-right these days). Moreover, Japan has never had a leftist government with as much power as this precedent-setting rightist government does. And it probably never will (not just because the US government would undermine it, a la the Hosokawa and Hatoyama Administrations).

But there’s something deeper at work beyond the Abe aberration. I believe that social dynamics encouraging a reverse course to remilitarization have always lain latent in Japanese society…

Read the rest in The Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/10/04/issues/japan-rightists-patient-wait-conveyor-belt-death-shudders-back-life/.

JK on emerging GOJ policies towards refugees & immigration, still not allowing them to stay in Japan: “tourists yes, refugees & immigrants no”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader JK keeps sending me intriguing tacks on recent articles (thanks), and here’s another bunch:

Debito.org hasn’t talked as much as other topics about the Government of Japan (GOJ)’s attitude towards refugees (in that, the acceptance of refugees is one measure of international contributions by the club of rich, developed countries and UN treaty signatories). But it is safe to say that the GOJ has not been cooperative, accepting fewer people in total over the past sixty years than some countries do in a single year — as the United Nations is aware.

So now the Abe Administration is trying a different tack:  Accepting refugees as temporary students, and then sending them “home” someday.  JK parses that to bits below.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

From:  JK

Hi Debito:

From articles cited at the very bottom:

“The idea is that by accepting refugees as students, Japan could aid in training personnel for the later reconstruction of Syria.”

「留学生の受け入れで、将来的にシリアの再建に関わる人材の育成に寄与したい 考え。」

…and…

“The plan represents the government’s efforts to think of a way to contribute to solving the Syria issue, without influencing the current refugee authorization system.”

「政府としては、現状の難民認定制度の枠組みや基準に影響を与えない形で、実 質的にシリア問題に貢献できる方法を探った形だ。」

Translation: GOJ doesn’t want to look bad at the UN in front of the other nations who are actually doing something to help refugees, so what to do?…Ah! Accept refugees as students to make it look like Japan is making a difference — Japan trains the Syrians so that one day they can go ‘home’ and fix everything up, and as students, they’re not in a position to stay for good as would be the case if they were accepted as refugees. It’s a win-win!

My armchair social theory is that the GOJ’s view of NJ is strictly monetary (i.e. get money from NJ tourists, give money to NJ refugees; NJ trainees / NJ bribes, etc.).

Abe speaks to boost Japan tourism at New York event
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002455922

Japan will do more to be well prepared to host foreign guests going into the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, he said at the seminar also joined by former New York Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui and U.S. actress Charlotte Kate Fox.

Abe: Japan ready to help refugees, but not take them in
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150930p2g00m0in032000c.html

“As an issue of demography, I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees we need to have more activities by women, by elderly people and we must raise (the) birth rate. There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants,” Abe told a news conference, according to the official translation of his comments.

Translation: Accepting immigrants is the last thing we should do.  Sincerely, JK

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

Sources:

難民:「受け入れ」検討…政府、シリアから留学生として
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20150925k0000m010107000c.html

毎日新聞 2015年09月25日 09時00分

シリアなどから欧州に難民が押し寄せている問題を受け、日本政府はシリアから留学生として難民を受け入れる方向で検討に入った。欧州連合(EU)はギリシャなどに着いた12万人の難民受け入れで合意。米国も人数を年々増やし、2017会計年度には10万人を受け入れる方針を表明した。28日からニューヨークの国連総会で行われる各国首脳らの一般討論演説では、難民問題も議題になる見通しで、日本としてシリア問題に貢献する姿勢を国際社会に表明する狙いがある。

関係者によると、難民問題の解決に向けた資金拠出に加え、人的な面でも貢献できないか検討。留学生の受け入れで、将来的にシリアの再建に関わる人材の育成に寄与したい考え。

法務省によると、昨年の難民認定者数は5000人の申請者に対し11人。シリアからの難民申請者も、ほとんどが人道的配慮による在留許可にとどまる。留学生としての受け入れは、通常の難民認定とは異なるが、正規の資格で日本に滞在できる。政府としては、現状の難民認定制度の枠組みや基準に影響を与えない形で、実質的にシリア問題に貢献できる方法を探った形だ。【三木幸治、隅俊之】
【毎日新聞】
//////////////////////////////////////////////

Japanese gov’t considers accepting Syrian refugees as students
September 25, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150925p2a00m0na002000c.html

Japanese gov’t considers accepting Syrian refugees as students

As refugees from Syria and other countries pour into Europe, the Japanese government has begun to ponder accepting Syrian refugees in the form of students.

The European Union has agreed to accept 120,000 refugees that have arrived in countries including Greece, while the United States has announced its intention to accept an increasing number of refugees over the years, with 100,000 to be accepted in fiscal 2017. During speeches by member nations’ heads of state at the general debate of the United Nations General Assembly in New York starting Sept. 28, the refugee problem is expected to be discussed, and Japan aims to display to the international community its contributory stance in trying to solve the Syria problem.

According to an insider source, in addition to helping fund the solving of the refugee problem, considerations are also being made over whether Japan can contribute on the human side of the issue. The idea is that by accepting refugees as students, Japan could aid in training personnel for the later reconstruction of Syria.

The Ministry of Justice says that last year out of 5,000 refugee applicants, Japan approved 11. Most of the refugee applicants from Syria are only being allowed to stay out of humanitarian consideration. Acceptance as students, while different from the normal system of accommodating refugees, would allow refugees to be in Japan with official authorization. The plan represents the government’s efforts to think of a way to contribute to solving the Syria issue, without influencing the current refugee authorization system.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////////

Abe speaks to boost Japan tourism at New York event
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002455922
8:05 pm, September 29, 2015 Jiji Press

NEW YORK (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that he wants people to know more about Japan and have more exchanges with Japanese people.

Abe made the comments at a seminar organized at a New York hotel by the Japan National Tourism Organization to promote visits to Japan.

Japan will do more to be well prepared to host foreign guests going into the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, he said at the seminar also joined by former New York Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui and U.S. actress Charlotte Kate Fox.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////////

Abe: Japan ready to help refugees, but not take them in
September 30, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150930p2g00m0in032000c.html

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Japan’s prime minister said Tuesday that his nation needs to attend to its own demographic challenges posed by falling birth rates and an aging population before opening its doors to refugees.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced at the U.N. General Assembly that Japan is ramping up assistance in response to the exodus of refugees to Europe from the Middle East and Africa.

He said Japan will provide $1.5 billion in emergency aid for refugees and for stabilization of communities facing upheaval.

But speaking to reporters later Tuesday he poured cold water on the idea of Japan opening its doors to those fleeing.

He said Japan first needed to attend to domestic challenges which he proposes to tackle under a revamped economic policy that aims to boost GDP to a post-war record level, while bolstering the social security system to support families.

“As an issue of demography, I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees we need to have more activities by women, by elderly people and we must raise (the) birth rate. There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants,” Abe told a news conference, according to the official translation of his comments.

He added that Japan would “discharge our own responsibility” in addressing the refugee crisis, which he described as helping to improve conditions that cause the exodus.

Abe earlier told the world body that Japan would provide $810 million this year for emergency assistance of refugees and internally displaced persons from Syria and Iraq, triple what it gave last year. Abe said Japan is also preparing about $750 million for stabilization efforts in the Middle East and Africa.

Japan prides itself on being a good global citizen. It is one of the largest aid donors in the world. Last year Japan gave $181.6 million to the UNHCR, the United Nations’ refugee agency, making it second only to the United States in generosity.

But it has offered very few if any resettlement places for refugees from the civil war in Syria.

According to Ministry of Justice data, it accepted just 11 asylum seekers out of a record 5,000 applications last year, although Japanese officials say most of the asylum applicants were from other Asian countries and were already living in Japan.

Some argue that increased immigration could help arrest a shrinking population, which is currently 126 million. Abe says he is determined to ensure that in 50 years the Japanese population has stabilized at 100 million.

ENDS

Asahi: Supreme Court backs stripping children of Japanese nationality if parents lapse in registering their births abroad

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I just found this in my “drafts” folder, and I apologize for not getting to it sooner.

Debito.org has mentioned before how creative judicial interpretations of Japan’s Nationality Law Article 12

(which states, in toto: “A Japanese national who was born in a foreign country and has acquired a foreign nationality by birth shall lose Japanese nationality retroactively as from the time of birth, unless the Japanese national clearly indicates his or her volition to reserve Japanese nationality according to the provisions of the Family Registration Law (Law No.224 of 1947))

are a) systematically stripping children born to mixed-nationality couples of their Japanese citizenship simply for bureaucratic expedience (for if both parents were Japanese nationals, Article 12 did not apply); and b) effectively absolving Japanese men from taking responsibility for sowing their wild oats abroad (item 8).

Now according to the ruling reported to below, it looks like Article 12 now does apply even if both parents are Japanese nationals — you have three whole months to get registered, otherwise you clearly aren’t a real Japanese.  Except that in the case cited, the exclusionism is again being enforced on mudblood kids simply because their parents slipped up with proper procedure.

It remains unclear if a Japanese mother who gives birth overseas (and would hitherto automatically retain Japanese nationality for her child) and does not register her child would void the Japanese citizenship, but the intent of the interpretation below is basically to prevent dual nationality, not honor jus sanguinis ties under the law.  So this looks to be an affirmation and expansion of the 2012 Tokyo District Court case, a reversal of the 2008 Supreme Court case, moreover expanded to both parents regardless of nationality.

This is what can happen if you dare give birth outside of the motherland and legally acquire a suspicious second passport.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Top court backs repeal of Japanese nationality due to parents’ lapse abroad
Asahi Shinbun March 11, 2015 By TAKAAKI NISHIYAMA/ Staff Writer
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201503110080

The Supreme Court confirmed that authorities can revoke the Japanese nationality of children born outside Japan whose parents fail to submit the proper paperwork within three months of their babies’ births.

The top court’s ruling on March 10 said Article 12 of the Nationality Law, which defines the procedures to maintain Japanese nationality, does not violate the Constitution.

As a result of the ruling, 15 female and male children born in the Philippines to Japanese fathers married to Filipino mothers have lost their Japanese nationality. They had argued that the article was irrational and discriminatory against Japanese born abroad.

The Nationality Law stipulates that if either parent of a baby born outside Japan is a Japanese national, the child will automatically acquire Japanese nationality and can also obtain the nationality of the country of birth.

But the parents must submit a notification to a Japanese administrative institution within three months of the baby’s birth to maintain the Japanese nationality, according to Article 12 of the law.

In the top court’s first ruling on the constitutionality of the provision, Takehiko Otani, presiding justice of the court’s Third Petty Bench, said, “The legislative purpose (of Article 12) designed to avoid dual nationality is rational and constitutional.”

According to the plaintiffs, their Japanese nationality was revoked because their parents did not know about the provision and failed to submit the documents to Japanese authorities within the designated three-month period.

The Supreme Court said Article 12 is “not irrational nor discriminatory against people born overseas” because it gives the parents three months to submit the notification.

The top court also noted another provision in the law, which allows such children to obtain Japanese nationality before they reach 20 years old if they notify authorities that have a permanent address in Japan.

ENDS

More public-policy bullying of NJ: LDP Bill to fine, imprison, and deport NJ for “fraud visas” (gizou taizai), e.g., visa “irregularities” from job changes or divorces

mytest

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Hi Blog. Some more wicked policy is in the pipeline, giving the government (and the general public) even more discretion to target NJ for criminal penalty.

Consider the policy below in the Japan Times article, creating a new form of criminal called “gizou taizaisha” (“bogus visa holder” in the translation, but more in the spirit would be “fraudulent visa holder”).  This has been discussed on Debito.org before in the context of fabricating a foreign crime wave (where despite statistically plummeting for many years now, the police can still claim foreign crime is rising because in Japan it allegedly “cannot be grasped through statistics”).

Naturally, this issue only applies to NJ, and this means more racial profiling.  But for those of you who think you’re somehow exempt because you’re engaged in white-collar professions, think again.

Immigration and the NPA are going beyond ways to merely “reset your visa clock” and make your visa more temporary based on mere bureaucratic technicalities.  This time they’re going to criminalize your mistakes, and even your lifestyle choices.

Read the article below and consider the permutations that are not fully covered within it:

Which means you’re more likely stuck in whatever dead-end profession or relationship (and at their whim and mercy).  For if you dare change something, under this new Bill you might wind up arrested, interrogated in a police cell for weeks, convicted, fined, thrown in jail, and then deported in the end (because you can’t renew your visa while in jail).  Overnight, your life can change and all your investments lost in Japan — simply because of an oversight or subterfuge.

Source for these issues at Higuchi & Arudou’s bilingual HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN.  NJ in Japan already have very few protected human or constitutional rights as it is.  This law proposes taking away even more of them, and empowering the Japanese police and general public to target and bully them even further.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Immigration crackdown seen as paving the way for state to expel valid visa-holders
The Japan Times, August 19, 2015 (excerpt), courtesy lots of people

[…] Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has submitted a bill to revise the immigration control law that will stiffen the crackdown on individuals it views as an emerging threat to public safety.

While it is unclear whether the bill will be passed during the current Diet session that ends in late September, lawyers and activists warn it is intended to give authorities leeway to weed out foreigners they consider “undesirable.”

Not only that, the envisaged law is so broadly defined that its impact could in reality extend to any foreigners who have mishandled their paperwork in applying for visas, they said, adding it even risks stoking xenophobia among the Japanese public.

The revision takes aim at what the government tentatively calls bogus visa holders, or giso taizai-sha (those staying under false visa status). The government has no official definition for them, but the term typically refers to foreigners whose activity is out of keeping with their visa status.

“The tricky thing about them is that they are outwardly legal,” immigration official Tomoatsu Koarai said, adding they possess a legitimate visa status and therefore are registered on a government database as legal non-Japanese residents.

Examples include “spouses” of Japanese nationals married under sham marriages, “engineers” whose job has nothing to do with engineering, and “exchange students” who no longer engage in academic activities after facing expulsion, the Justice Ministry said. Unlike visa overstayers, whose illegal status is clear-cut, these bogus visa holders theoretically remain legal until they are apprehended and have their visas revoked.[…]

Under the current framework, bogus immigrants are stripped of their visa if apprehended, but they face no criminal penalty, although they will either be deported immediately or instructed to return home within a month, depending on the circumstances.

The law, if enacted, will subject those who obtained or renewed visas through “forgery and other unjust measures” to criminal penalties, including up to three years’ imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of ¥3 million. The ministry believes imposing criminal penalties will serve as a deterrent.

The envisaged law will also expand the scope of foreigners subject to visa revocation.

Currently, foreign residents are allowed to retain their visa for three months after stopping their permitted activities. The bill calls for scrapping this three-month rule and ensuring that foreigners who discontinue their activities forfeit their residency status the instant they are caught engaging in something different or “planning to do so.” […]

Lawyer Koji Yamawaki, for one, pointed out that requirements for criminal penalties were too broad.

Similar court rulings in the past suggest the phrase “forgery and other unjust measures” does not just refer to cases involving obvious deception and mendacity, he said. It could also include simple missteps on the part of foreigners in filling out application forms, such as failing to notify immigration beforehand of some minor facts concerning their life in Japan, he said.

“For example, it’s often the case foreigners applying for a working visa don’t inform immigration of the fact they live together with someone they are not legally married to, because they thought the information was not relevant. But the reality is many of these omissions have been deemed by immigration serious enough to revoke one’s visa,” Yamawaki said.

What’s worse, after the law’s enactment, these minor lapses could not only cost foreigners their residency status, but hold them criminally liable.

“The point is, under the intended law, even if you’re not being actively deceitful, you could still be prosecuted for simply not mentioning facts that immigration wanted to be aware of — no matter how irrelevant and trivial they may be. The law is that broad,” the lawyer said. […]

One such example is technical interns who work under a state-backed foreign traineeship program called the Technical Intern Training Program.

Under the discredited initiative, allegations are rife that interns have been underpaid, forcedly overworked and abused sexually and verbally by unscrupulous employers. Fed up with subpar wage standards, a record 4,851 interns fled their workplaces in 2014, according to Justice Ministry data.

As the ministry acknowledges, these “runaways” will be considered in violation of the envisaged law once it takes effect, too, because — technically speaking — they no longer are fulfilling their duties as “technical interns” as per their visas.

Full article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/08/19/national/crime-legal/immigration-crackdown-seen-paving-way-state-expel-valid-visa-holders/
ENDS

Thoughts: How does a society eliminate bigotry? Through courts and media, for example. Not waiting for it to “happen naturally”. Two case studies.

mytest

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Hi Blog. One of the age-old debates about how to eliminate racial discrimination in Japan is a matter of process. Do you wait for society to soften up to the idea of people who are (and/or look) “foreign” being “Japanese”, or do you legislate and force people to stop being discriminatory? Critics of anti-discrimination activists often recommend that the latter apply the brakes on their social movement and wait for society in general to catch up — as in, “You can’t force people by law to be tolerant.”

Well, yes you can. History has shown that without a law (be it a US Civil Rights Act, a UK Race Relations Act, etc.)  and active media campaigns to force and foment tolerance, it doesn’t necessarily occur naturally. As we have seen in the Japanese example, which is approaching the 20th Anniversary of its signing the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination without keeping its promise to pass a law against racial discrimination.

I submit to Debito.org Readers two interesting case studies of how tolerance towards a) same-sex marriage, and b) transgender issues have been promoted in the American example. The speed at which LGBT tolerance and legal equality in many areas of American society has been breathtaking. Why have walls come tumbling down so fast? One case is with the US Supreme Court, which earlier this year found itself in a position to rule same-sex marriage constitutional because any other position would have been bigotry. Excerpt from a National Public Radio interview, dated July 2, 2015, on Fresh Air with Terry Gross:

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

Was This Past Supreme Court Session ‘A Liberal Term For The Ages’?
NPR Fresh Air July 02, 2015

Full transcript at http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=419468563
[…]
GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. And if you’re just joining us, my guest is Adam Liptak, the Supreme Court correspondent for The New York Times. And we’re talking about the term that just wrapped up. Now, we’ve been talking about the marriage equality decision. And something that you wrote I found so interesting about this, which is that a lot of law firms wouldn’t touch the anti-marriage equality side. Why not?

LIPTAK: Among a large number of Americans, and certainly Americans on the coast and certainly Americans who come from, call it elite backgrounds – you know, from the fancy colleges and law schools – and certainly what Justice Scalia in a memorable phrase called lawyers who work in high-rise buildings, this issue is done. There’s only one side to it, and the other side is pure bigotry. So that told you something about where at least the legal culture – the mainstream legal culture – was on this question. And, you know, that’s a contrast to, say, Brown V Board of Education, where the leading appellate lawyer of his day, John Davis, one of the founders of the prominent New York firm Davis Polk, argued in favor of segregated schools – or at least that the court should not stop them. So that was a change in the culture that was yet another indication that the court was going to come out the way it did.

GROSS: And it sounds like it was a business decision too – because you write that a lot of law firms were afraid if they took the position against marriage equality that they would lose clients, and they would have a difficult time attracting good lawyers to their firm. Those are business decisions.

LIPTAK: So that is absolutely true as a factual matter. The firms would say this is a matter of principle for them, and they didn’t take account of business realities. But we do have, you know, one example from just a few years ago, where quite possibly the best Supreme Court advocate of our day, Paul Clement, agreed to represent Congress – shouldn’t be a particularly controversial client – in defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to married same-sex couples. His firm essentially fired him for agreeing to represent Congress in trying to persuade the court to uphold a duly enacted law signed by President Clinton. So that tells you that this is – this is something where the firms were not inclined to take these cases.

GROSS: So do you think that the marriage equality decision lays the groundwork to opening up gay rights in other areas where it is still in question?

LIPTAK: It’s a huge and important and transformative victory. But in some ways, it’s symbolic and partial because much of the nation still doesn’t have laws against discriminating against gay and lesbian people. So in much of the nation, you can get married in the morning and fired in the afternoon from your job for being gay – and then denied housing because you’re gay. So the court decision only does so much and is limited to marriage. And unless legislatures act to impose general laws against sexual orientation discrimination, the work of the gay rights movement is not yet done. It’s a funny thing, that you get to marriage first and job discrimination later. […]

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

COMMENT: The point is that the proponents of marriage equality (sic — note the terminology) managed to frame the debate in such a way that eventually there was no choice but to support one side (people arguing formerly-normal positions even lost their job), and nobody COULD support the other side without looking bigoted. And that came through in the formal interpretation of the law.  In Japan, however, as proven time and time again by the bigots who cloak their bigotry in nationalism and “culture” (see here and here for example), bigotry is still a tenable position.

The other item of interest is from Entertainment Weekly (which may seem to some a laughable source, but they write very good articles on the power and flow of media). Consider the process they describe in their special LGBT issue that came out last June:

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

The transition will be televised
Subtitle: In an era of increasing inclusiveness, TV proves once again to be media’s most effective agent of social change, this time by sharing rich stories about the transgender community
By Mark Harris
Entertainment Weekly Magazine, June 12 2015 (excerpt)
Full article at http://www.ew.com/article/2015/06/12/transition-will-be-televised

A sports figure comes out as transgender, and the general public is riveted by her story, which is met with everything from bigotry to curiosity to empathy. All at once, the subject seems to be everywhere from op-ed pages to dinner-table conversations. Transgender stories – this time fictional – start to gain a toehold in popular culture. The highest-rated sitcom on network TV takes some tentative steps toward exploring the fluidity of gender identity by having a gay cross-dressing performer as a recurring character. A popular medical drama wins an Emmy nomination for a two-part episode about a doctor who undergoes gender-reassignment surgery.

The year is 1976. Transgender Americans are, for the first time, having a moment. And then interest subsides. The caravan moves on. And the moment is over. How did it take 39 years for us to get all the way back to the starting line?

[…]
Minority representation on TV has always come in phases. Phase 1 is absence – or worse, stereotype. In Phase 2, minorities appear briefly, usually to teach majority characters life lessons or allow them to demonstrate tolerance, and then recede again. In Phase 3 – where we are now – they finally start to get their own stories told. Phase 4 – the characters stick around just because we’re interested in them – is on the near horizon. Phase 5 – we don’t have to write stories like this anymore – is farther off.

It’s not a shock that most of the trans narratives we’re seeing in 2015 are filtered through (or at least share screen time with) the perspective of non-transgender characters. Transparent and Becoming Us are as much about the kids as the parents, and as refreshing as it is to see trans characters woven into the ensembles of Orange Is the New Black and Sense8, there’s no escaping the fact that a large part of why they’re there is specifically to promote understanding – they’re a vehicle for communicating. That’s great, and essential, but it shouldn’t be confused with the finish line—which would be a pop cultural world in which trans people are simply part of the fabric and not used as devices. If you doubt how hard that goal is to reach on TV, consider that gay people, who outnumber trans people by roughly 10 to 1 in the national population, are still struggling for that kind of representation, and that a host of ethnic minorities (particularly Asians and Latinos) continue to fight for the day when they can turn on the TV and routinely see people who look like them.

In that regard, who’s behind the camera may matter at least as much as who’s in front of it. It’s not a coincidence that the most racially diverse prime-time lineup on any network – ABC’s Thursday-night roster of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder – is overseen by a black woman, or that Will & Grace was co-created by a gay man, or that fictional Ellen’s coming-out was tied to real Ellen’s desire to tell her own truth. There’s no substitute for having someone in the room to whom the subject matters – it’s a corrective, it’s an incentive, and it’s a truth detector.

The 1976 flicker of interest in trans issues didn’t last because it was, though well-intentioned, not strong enough to combat an immense set of prevailing prejudices. This time, it might take root, not just because attitudes have changed, but because the current approach is less touristic and more firsthand. One of the creators of Sense8, Lana Wachowski, is trans. Transparent’s writer-director-creator Jill Soloway has a trans father. If Sophia seems like an exceptionally multidimensional trans character, that’s in part because Laverne Cox is on the scene. As she has noted, “It’s really important that trans folks are in positions of power in terms of creating our stories. I think that’s vital.” Orange Is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan has argued that a good writer should be able to write any character with truth and depth, and she’s right. But it’s an important breakthrough that there are now a handful of people in positions of power with a deep and personal investment in making sure TV gets this right. Four decades ago, we got off to a false start. Now, better late than never, we’re off to a good one. ENDS

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

COMMENT:  The lesson here is that there are stages of “softening up a society”, but what’s crucial is that people who can best promote the tolerance, as in those affected by the intolerance, must be in a position of power within the media structures in order to get their message out.  As I have argued elsewhere, NJ and Visible Minorities are so shut out of Japanese media that they simply cannot do that.  They are seen as basically nonexistent entities in Japanese society both within and without (including outside scholarship on Japan).

All of these things will be discussed in greater detail in my forthcoming book, Embedded Racism:  Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination in Japan, out November.  Stay tuned.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Times JBC 90: “Claiming the right to be Japanese AND more”, Aug 3, 2015

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting to my next Japan Times JBC Column 90, disputing the discourse that people 1) have to “look Japanese” in order to be “Japanese”, and 2) cannot be Japanese AND something else (such as a different nationality, “race”, or ethnicity).  I make the case that many things such as these, once ascribed from birth, are now a matter of personal choice — and that person must claim it (in the face of constant identity policing) in order to own it.

As noted in the column, this think piece is grounded in a debate I had earlier this month regarding an incident with a bank teller in Canada who expressed incredulity at me having a Japanese passport.  Thanks for making it the most-read article on the JT Online for two days again this month.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

PS:  Sneak preview of the article’s illustration, by Adam Pasion:

DebitoJT0803151

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Claiming the right to be Japanese AND more

By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
JUST BE CAUSE column 90 for the Japan Times Community Page
August 3, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/08/02/issues/claiming-right-japanese/ 

“A Japanese passport? You don’t look Japanese.”

I get this all the time. Understandably: Most people don’t expect a Caucasian to have Japanese citizenship.

It’s just a shame they so carelessly articulate their surprise. No matter where I go, a natural curiosity about my background soon turns into vocalized judgment.

“What an unusual name. Where are you from?”
Me: “Japan” (or, “Born in the U.S., lived in Japan,” if I’m feeling chatty).
Their most common response: “But you don’t look Japanese.”

Or Customs and Immigration at any border: “What’s with the Japanese passport?”
“I’m a naturalized Japanese citizen.”
Again, “You don’t look Japanese.” (That’s the milder reaction. In Jamaica, officials took my passport around the office for a laugh. In the U.S., they rendered me to secondary for a few hours of waiting and inquisition until I missed my next flight. Seriously.)

Trying to dodge these questions by saying “It’s a long story” often doesn’t cut it. (American official: “Oh? We’ve got time.”) Having to school everyone about my background on a daily basis gets tiring, and biting my lip through many an intrusive and sometimes humiliating experience leaves psychological “triggers” after a while.

I realized that last month on vacation in Canada, when a bank teller asked for my ID. Passport presented, out it popped: “It’s funny you have a Japanese passport. You don’t look Japanese.” I snapped back: “Let’s not go there. Lose the racism and complete the transaction.”

Afterwards, I asked the teller (an Asian gentleman), “How would you like it if you produced a Canadian passport and I said, ‘That’s funny; you don’t look Canadian’?” He said, not much, and apologized.

There are a few important details to this story I don’t have space for (see www.debito.org/?p=13381), but the conclusion was that the manager sent the teller home for the day (a surprise to me, as I never asked for any sanction) and then invited me to his office for a chat.

“I understand your frustration,” said the manager, “because I am Metis.” He was referring to his official minority status in Canada as a descendent of First Nation aboriginals and colonial settlers.

“I hate it when people I’m doing business with tell me that I don’t ‘look Metis,’ even after I show my status card.” He said that this kind of behavior was unacceptable at his bank, and in Canada.

Refreshed by this experience, I blogged and Facebooked about this no-nonsense zero tolerance. And then the topic blew up in my face.

Some readers wrote in to say I had overreacted. Instead of jumping straight to “racism,” I could have defused things with a quick explanation of my background or a joke.

Others said that I was defying common sense. A white guy with a Japanese passport expecting no surprise? Unreasonable. (Surprise I do expect. Vocalizing that surprise in a professional setting and calling a customer’s identity “funny” is problematic.)

The critics that really got my goat were those that expressed disgust at my acting so “un-Japanese” (as in, not avoiding conflict) and went on say that, to them, I no longer qualified as a Japanese. (I unfriended them because that’s pretty thoughtless. By their logic, I could murder somebody and still qualify, since some Japanese do murder.)

The most interesting argument accused me of exercising my “white privilege”: “You get to be white and Japanese? You’ve taken this too far!” I had victimized the Asian teller because I had the power in this relationship as a white in Canada’s white-dominated society. (The critic’s thoughtful essay and my answer are archived at www.debito.org/?p=13404.)

For the record, I don’t doubt the existence of white privilege. (You can even find an example on our Community pages: Gregory Clark’s Dec. 4, 2014 “Kick out the touts who rule Roppongi” Foreign Agenda column.) I acknowledge that I have received advantageous treatment worldwide due to my lighter skin color and white background.

But the two of us parted paths at the point where the critic said I could not be “white and Japanese.” I do not believe that they are mutually exclusive. (Neither does Japan: In apartheid South Africa, Japan successfully lobbied to be Japanese and “honorary whites”.)

I’m Japanese and white because I earned it — through decades of study and self-education, acculturation, living and contributing to Japanese society, dedication and sacrifice (including my American citizenship and even my very name), and close scrutiny by the Japanese government of my “Japaneseness” in ways not seen in other countries’ naturalization processes.

I am certifiably Japanese because the Japanese government says I am, and they gave me a tough test to prove it. I am not Japanese but white. I’m claiming the “and.”

So why write a column about this? After all, I got myself onto this sticky wicket by naturalizing into a country with few “non-Asian-looking” citizens.

Because this goes beyond me. What about the people who didn’t have a choice — like our Japanese kids?

It shouldn’t be an issue. They are Japanese children, full stop. And they can be something else yet 100 percent Japanese. It’s not a zero-sum game. (That’s why I am not a fan of the term hāfu.) I say claim the “and.” For them.

Mountains out of molehills? OK, how will you react the 100th time (or the fifth time in a day) that you hear, “Oh, what cute gaijin kids!” Will you stand idly by when people openly doubt your kids’ identity as they grow up and risk being denied equal opportunities in society?

We’re fully formed adults — we can take these sucker punches — but kids need someone in their corner, pushing for their right to be diverse yet belong.

The push must happen until the point where the surprise is switched around — into shock at someone daring to imply that a citizen or resident with a surprising background is not a “real” or “normal” member of society.

Admittedly, careless comments from individuals are not something you can immediately fix, but alienating attitudes about people’s identities should not be expressed in a corporate or official capacity. To anyone. Anywhere. That’s where the push starts.

Don’t get me wrong: People can think what they like. But if they articulate thoughts inaccurate, unkind or alienating about us or the people we care for, we should reserve the right to push back accordingly — and not succumb to the majoritarian identity policing that goes on everywhere.

But let’s come down from ideals and return to the bank counter. The main issue there was not the law of averages determining “normal” or “triggers” or “privilege.” It was one of self-identification.

Pause for a second and take stock of where things are going these days: Somebody can self-identify as Japanese and African-American, and represent Japan at the Miss Universe contest (like Ariana Miyamoto). Or be male and then female or vice versa (like Caitlyn Jenner, Chaz Bono, Laverne Cox and Lana Wachowsky). Or be LGBT and married. Or, like Rachel Dolezal, be white and “culturally black” enough to head a chapter of America’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

A future is emerging where the major social statuses assigned us from birth — e.g., gender, “race,” nationality, even ethnicity — are breaking down. They can be a matter of personal choice.

That’s a good thing. With the unprecedented porosity of international borders nowadays, the notion of a “normal” person is ever eroding. That’s why I believe that anyone should be allowed to shape, control and, yes, claim their own identity.

Now, you might think that Japan, the island society, is unaffected by these trends. I would disagree. As I describe in my forthcoming book, “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination,” the pressure of Japan’s aging demographics is unrelenting. If Japan cannot get over the conceit of having to “look Japanese” to be treated as one, then it cannot make “new Japanese,” and the country will continue to sink into an insolvent economic abyss.

Thus, if our Japanese kids cannot self-identify, hundreds of thousands of them (eventually millions, as people continue mixing) will spend their lives having their identities policed back into being “foreign,” not fitting in when they should be welcomed for all their potential as individuals with more worldly insights.

Let’s knock off the identity policing. Stop telling people who they are. Let them tell us. Let them claim the “and.”

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

Debito’s 20-year-old historical archive of life and human rights in Japan is at www.debito.org. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Monday Community Page of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDS

Kyodo: “Overseas work, study seen as negative point for hiring anyone handling state secrets” Such as multiethnic Japanese?

mytest

eBooks, Books, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Continuing with this month’s theme of how a reactionary-nationalist Japan will treat its NJ and Visible Minorities in future, the article below is very indicative.  Although I did refer to it in my end-year JT roundup of Japan’s Top Ten Human Rights Issues for 2014, somehow it escaped being properly put on Debito.org as a single blog entry.  So here it is:  people with connections abroad will be considered a security risk and potentially be excluded from pubic service.  No doubt that will include Japanese citizens with NJ roots.  This is, in a word, odious.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

NATIONAL
Overseas work, study seen as negative point for anyone handling state secrets
KYODO DEC 8, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/08/national/overseas-work-study-seen-negative-point-anyone-handling-state-secrets/

The Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office has warned government offices before the new state secrecy law takes effect Wednesday that people who have studied or worked abroad have a higher risk of leaking secrets.

According to the 2011 documents obtained at the request of Kyodo News, the Cabinet Secretariat, the office that will supervise the controversial law with tougher penalties for leaking state secrets, pointed to the need to check educational and employment records in examining which public servants are deemed eligible to handle sensitive information.

Under the secrecy law, which was enacted in December last year, civil servants and others who leak sensitive information on foreign policy, defense, counterterrorism and counterespionage face up to 10 years in prison.

The legislation has drawn criticism over the possibility of arbitrary classification of state secrets that will undermine the people’s right to information.

The government plans to screen those who may be given access to state secrets, including public servants and defense industry workers.

Their background, links to spying or terrorism, mental condition, criminal records, drug use, drinking habits and debts will be checked. Only those who are believed to have no risk of leaking secrets will be approved to handle classified information.

Those being vetted will be asked about their educational history from high school and employment record over the past 10 years.

The documents presented by the intelligence and research office at a meeting with other government bodies in November 2011 state that the experience of attending schools overseas or foreign schools in Japan as well as working abroad or working for foreign companies “could be an opportunity to nurture a special feeling about foreign countries.”

The papers said such people “tend to be influenced by” approaches from foreign countries and there is a “risk” that they “prioritize the benefits of foreign countries and voluntarily leak secrets.”

The office of the Cabinet Secretariat said that academic and employment backgrounds are just “one of the check points” and will not solely decide who is deemed capable of dealing with classified information.

The office said the view of overseas experience was presented as part of a free exchange of opinions with other government entities to create an effective system to control state secrets.

Masahiro Usaki, a professor at Dokkyo Law School who is familiar with the secrecy law, said that “the government has been encouraging young people to go abroad amid the trend of globalization. So it doesn’t make sense that it will now judge (overseas experience) as a negative factor.”

“From the viewpoint of the right to privacy, research (on people’s background) should be minimum,” Usaki added, adding that checking only final educational status would be sufficient. He also said the period of 10 years covering past employment records is too long.

ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 88: “U.S. green-lights Japan’s march back to militarism”, on America’s historical amnesia in US-Japan Relations, June 1, 2015

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. My monthly Japan Times columns have moved to the first Monday of the month.  This time I’m talking about the geopolitics and historical amnesia behind PM Abe’s April visit to the United States, and what all the misdirected fanfare means not only for Asia as a region, but also NJ residents in Japan. Please have a read and feel free to comment below.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/05/31/issues/u-s-greenlights-japans-march-back-militarism/

U.S. green-lights Japan’s march back to militarism
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito, The Japan Times, June 1, 2015
JUST BE CAUSE Column 88 for The Japan Times Community Page

As I’ve often written, I’m a big proponent of the historical record — if for no other reason, so we can look back at the past and learn from our mistakes.

That has been a major issue for the current Japanese government. As hundreds of historians have publicly stated, the Shinzo Abe administration has been systematically working to deny (or in Abe-speak, “beautify”) Japan’s worst wartime ugliness, on an increasingly obvious quest to reconfigure Japan as a military power. In other words, the right is marching the country back to the Japan that nearly annihilated itself 70 years ago.

But I’m even more disappointed with the historical amnesia of the Americans. Abe’s standing-ovation tour of the United States in April, during which the two allies established the new Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, has basically helped Abe further destabilize the region.

That’s awful news. The U.S., Japan’s strongest ally and chaperone for most of its foreign policy, is, given Japan’s powerless leftist opposition, basically the only one who can stop this. The U.S. has great sway over Japan due, again, to history. After World War II, America did an outstanding job of enabling Japan to get rich — thanks in part to its provision of advantageous trade and exchange-rate agreements and a subsidized security umbrella.

As the Asian extension of America’s Marshall Plan (a means to keep European countries from warring again by making them economically integrated, interdependent and successful, rather than leaving them to exact wartime reparations and revenge), Japan’s economic success is still seen amongst Washington’s foreign policy wonks as proof of their ability to foster democracy worldwide.

But the U.S., now assuming the post-Cold War mantle of world’s policeman, is undermining that goal by continuing to meddle in Japan’s politics.

We first saw this happen in the “reverse course” of 1947, when it was clear that China was going communist. Back then, Washington feared that labor unions might gather enough strength to force Japan into a similar leftist lurch (as seen in Italy, where the Americans also intervened and set Italian politics back into an unstable, corrupt funk that lasted decades).

So, in the name of “containing communism” at the dawn of the Cold War, the U.S. released the Japanese war criminals they hadn’t executed, who then went on to become prominent politicians, businessmen, organized-crime figures — even a prime minister.

It also basically handed back the levers of power to Japan’s prewar governing elites — for example, by reviving the zaibatsu industrial war-machine conglomerates (as keiretsu cartels), overlooking the domination of the education system by historical revisionists and blood-nationalists (the education ministry has since steadily reinstituted prewar traditions of suppressing history and enforcing patriotism), forgiving egregious war misdeeds (through the overgenerous Treaty of San Francisco in 1952), and allowing the re-creation of Japan’s military (as “Self-Defense Forces”) soon after the U.S. Occupation ended.

The blowback, however, is that America has been constantly snake-charmed by those elites. Their professional “gaijin handlers” (see “Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in the U.S.,” Just Be Cause, Nov. 6, 2013) have decades of experience of playing the anticommunism card to suppress their mortal enemies — Japan’s leftists.

Even as Japan embarked on the road to recovery, the U.S. made sure that “our bastards” (to paraphrase at least one American president) remained in power, creating a shadowy electoral slush account for the Liberal Democratic Party called the “M-Fund,” and fostering a one-party state that lasted several decades.

Then came the infamous U.S.-Japan Security Treaty amendments in 1960, forced upon the Japanese electorate without due process, causing enormous public opposition, riots and social damage, both in terms of property and political polarization.

This overt circumvention of Japan’s democratic institutions stunted the political maturation of Japan’s civil society: Japan never had, for example, the healthy subsequent antiwar grass-roots activism that unseated leaders worldwide in the late 1960s and beyond. As prominent American analysts themselves put it, Japan became an economic giant but a political pygmy.

Fast-forward to April 2015 and Abe’s U.S. tour. Despite years of media and academic attention on Abe’s revisionism, the U.S. bestowed upon him honors that no other Japanese PM has enjoyed, essentially legitimizing Abe’s campaigns worldwide.

Contrast this with how non-LDP left-leaning prime ministers have been treated: President Bill Clinton publicly humiliated Morihiro Hosokawa in 1994, and Washington hobbled Yukio Hatoyama five years ago (see “Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy,” JBC, June 2, 2010) on trade, military-base issues and reordered relations with China. Both PMs were so discredited that they were soon swept away by LDP re-elections, with reenergized conservatives on the rebound making reforms that set the stage for Japan’s recidivism today.

Why are the Americans resuscitating these toxic security guidelines? Simple: to contain China. But, to return to my original point, has Washington learned nothing from history? Can’t they see that the Cold War has been over for decades, and replacing the Soviet Union with China is a bad fit?

Granted, one can make a convincing case that China’s attitude towards democratic institutions ill-befits the Pax Americana. But the PRC is not the USSR — if anything, it’s precisely what the Marshall Planners would have wanted to happen to China.

China’s rapid economic growth and heavy integration into the world market, both as its factory and lender of last resort, indicates that it shall not (and should not) be so easily contained. Containment strategies drawn up by George Kennan 68 years ago are clearly obsolete.

Unfortunately, Washington seems eager to start Cold War II, with Japan again acting as America’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in Asia. Except this time, it does not have an American at the steering wheel in Tokyo, and the blood-nationalist in charge is a descendant of the ruthless right, bent on settling old personal scores and putting Japanese weapons and military forces overseas.

I don’t think the Americans are fully aware of what they are encouraging. Abe will erode the very democratic institutions (including the pacifist Constitution) the U.S. established to “cure” Japan’s war-like tendencies in the first place.

Abe has already enacted the means to engineer public opinion through media censorship, half-truths and big lies, as well as to intimidate critics and punish whistle-blowers.

Now, freshly emboldened after his trip to Washington (he even recently sent his “liberal” wife to visit war-celebrating Yasukuni Shrine), Abe will soon legally reconstitute the mythological version of Japan — the one that made so many Japanese support total war and carry out continent-wide genocide.

If you think I’m exaggerating, look again at history. Japan has swung back from liberalism before, after the “Taisho Democracy” of the 1920s. The flowering of democratic institutions, moderate tolerance of dissent and unprecedented prosperity did happen, but it only lasted about 15 years before the ruthless right took over.

This time it lasted much longer, but Japanese society has numerous bad habits that foster a reverse-engineering into militarism. Five years ago I thought remilitarization inconceivable after generations of a pacifist narrative, but seeing now how fast Japan has snapped back is cause for great alarm. This will be confirmed beyond doubt once we see the revival of prewar politics by assassination, the natural progression from the current trends of intimidation and death threats.

This will certainly abet Japan’s domestic conversion from a mild police state into a much harsher one. And then what? If the past 15 years are any guide, Japanese society’s latent suspicion of outsiders will manifest itself in the targeting of its non-Japanese residents with even more force.

Why? Because it can. They’re here and subject to our laws. If they don’t like it, they should leave. Because Japan is for the Japanese, as the blood-nationalists would define them.

Look out, non-Japanese residents, you’re going to attract even more attention now — as lab rats for Japan’s nascent foreign policy. Nice work, America, “Arsenal of Democracy.” History shows that once again, you’ve encouraged more arsenal than democracy.

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

Debito’s own 20-year-old historical archive of life and human rights in Japan is at www.debito.org. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Monday of the month. Comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDS

Debito.org Dejima Award #6 to Mishima Village, Kagoshima Prefecture, for subsidizing outsiders to move and live there — unless they are foreign

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. As Japan’s depopulation proceeds and the countryside continues to empty out, we have seen ruralities offering FREE land if people will only build, move, and live there.

Now we have another place offering even more generous terms. From The Japan Times, May 25, 2015:

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

[…] The village of Mishima, composed of the small islands of Takeshima, Iojima and Kuroshima, has been trying to lure people to move there by offering the choice of a calf or a ¥500,000 lump sum, plus another ¥100,000 to help with moving expenses.

The generous offer — which is temporarily on hold while officials rethink the conditions — includes monthly grants for the first three years of residence, ranging from ¥85,000 a month for a single person to ¥100,000 for married couples. Also on offer are three-bedroom houses for rent at low prices, and subsidies for child delivery.
==================================

Sweet. Locals have been trying to lure people here since 1990. That is, until the wrong kind of people began inquiring:

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

[…] Of all the emails the village received in the two-week period between the end of April and mid-May, 90 percent came from Serbians, Croatians and Brazilians, a local official said Monday, adding that the village office has also received more than a dozen phone calls from foreigners.

The official said that eventually, for various reasons, the village decided not to accept any of the applicants. Most who applied gave up on their plans to relocate after they were discouraged by the reality of the situation, or had only been looking for an easy escape from the pressure of daily life.

“People are not aware that life here is not as simple as they imagined,” he said, adding that the language barrier may lead to problems of communication.

“It’s a small village. There is no hospital and finding a job here is not a piece of cake,” he said, adding that most people seemed discouraged after learning about the hurdles they might face.

“People here can take advantage of the bountiful nature, fresh air and beautiful landscapes, and it’s a good place to live a quiet life,” the official said, describing the more appealing aspects of starting a new life there…
==================================

Oh. Suddenly, life there is tough. So tough they’ll turn people away, sight unseen. If those people happen to be foreign.

How open-minded. I assume the next argument will be that if the place becomes overrun with foreigners, they will vote to secede from Japan. Seriously, this argument has been made before.

So allow me to award the Village of Mishima in Kagoshima Prefecture a coveted Debito.org Dejima Award, granted only to those who display eye-blinkingly stupefying bigotry and closed-mindedness that defies all logic, reason, and entreaty. We’ve only granted five of these before in the twenty years Debito.org has been in existence, so Mishima is in exceptional company. May the mindsets you display die out before all the people do in your isolated little speck of the world. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Entire source article visible at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/25/national/overseas-interest-in-relocation-campaign-surprises-kagoshima-village/

ENDS

Arimura Haruko, Minister for the Empowerment of Women: Immigration is a “Pandora’s Box”, offers weird Team Abe arguments to justify

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.  Now let’s get to the narrative by Team Abe on immigration.  Despite calling for the expansion of the officially-sanctioned system of often-slavery that the “Trainee” Program constitutes (even cynically saying that we need cheap temporary foreign labor for constructing the 2020 Olympics), and the recognized need for caregivers below, we have a government official below charged with empowering people (a worthy goal in itself) also advocating the disempowerment of others — not giving people who would be contributing to Japan any stake in its society.

BloombergArimura051215

That’s one thing.  Another is how this Minister for the Empowerment of Women Arimura Haruko is justifying this organized disenfranchisement of NJ.  Despite being married to a NJ herself, she uses him as a fulcrum (his family in Malaysia forcing their Indonesian nanny to sleep on the floor), alleging that mistreatment of immigrants is something that naturally happens (okay, without their proper enfranchisement, yes) and that it would be “unthinkable in Japan” (oh, is she as a government official ignorant of the much bigger abuses of that “Trainee” program that have been going on for more than two decades)?


https://youtu.be/wt__lHCuH5g

Completing the effect of working backwards from preset conclusions, Arimura then brings the song home by blaming foreigners for their own disenfranchisement:  alleging their terroristic tendencies (a common trope for the past decade since PM Koizumi in 2005), and how bringing them here would be a “Pandora’s Box”.

Suck on the bitter lozenge that is Team Abe’s world view, and read on to see how this probably otherwise well-intentioned minister married to a NJ has to play Twister with illogic and weird social science to justify a warped narrative.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Japan Cabinet minister wary of opening ‘Pandora’s box’ of immigration
by Isabel Reynolds and Maiko Takahashi
Bloomberg, May 12, 2015
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-12/japan-minister-says-get-women-working-before-immigration-option
Commentary by the usual suspects at The Japan Times May 13, 2015 at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/13/national/social-issues/japan-must-put-women-work-opening-pandoras-box-immigration-female-empowerment-minister/

Japan should fix its shrinking workforce by enabling women to work, before turning to the ‘Pandora’s box’ of immigration, the country’s minister for the empowerment of women said in an interview last week.

Haruko Arimura, a 44-year-old mother of two, said Japan must act fast to change a trend that could otherwise see the workforce decline by almost half by 2060. But she warned if immigrants were mistreated — something she’d witnessed overseas — it raised the risk of creating resentment in their ranks.

“Many developed countries have experienced immigration,” she said in her Tokyo office. “The world has been shaken by immigrants who come into contact with extremist thinking like that of ISIL, bundle themselves in explosives and kill people indiscriminately in the country where they were brought up,” Arimura said.

“If we want to preserve the character of the country and pass it on to our children and grandchildren in better shape, there are reforms we need to carry out now to protect those values.”

Some economists have urged the government to accept more foreigners to make up for a slide in the working age population. While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has noted there is a need for workers from overseas to help with housework and care of the elderly, he’s promoted female workers instead — appointing Arimura to the new post last year to spearhead the effort.

Arimura, whose husband is from Malaysia, said more immigration could add to social tension. For example, she felt uneasy when she saw one of her husband’s relatives make an Indonesian nanny sleep on a hotel floor while family members slept in beds.

“It’s a matter of course over there, but it would be unthinkable in Japan,” she said. “It would build up dissatisfaction with society.”

Few Foreigners
Japan’s working-age population may fall as low as 44.2 million by 2060 from 81.7 million in 2010, according to a projections from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. At the same time, people aged 65 or over will rise to almost 40 percent of the population.

Relying only on women to make up the shortfall may be difficult, given that one in three wants to be a full-time housewife, according to a survey published by the government in 2013. About 60 percent leave their jobs when they have their first child.

Increased immigration poses its own challenges in Japan. Cultural barriers to outsiders are rooted in a two-century isolationist policy under the Tokugawa Shogunate, which banned most immigration until 1853. A genre of writing called nihonjinron focuses on the theory that the Japanese are a unique people.

The number of registered foreign residents has been flat since 2006 at just over 2 million. That’s out of a population of about 127 million.

‘Precious’ Lifestyles
Public attitudes toward new arrivals may be changing. About 51 percent of Japanese support a more open immigration policy, according to a survey published by the Asahi newspaper last month. Some 34 percent oppose the idea.

“There are things we should do before we talk about that Pandora’s box,” Arimura said.
Her task is to convince voters that putting more women to work is the best solution. She said she realized the policy could cause confusion among backers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party given its past support for traditional family arrangements.

The government has no intention of interfering with the “precious” lifestyles of women who want to devote themselves to their families, Arimura said. Instead, she said it wanted to support those who might otherwise be forced to abandon careers because of family responsibilities, or who wish to resume working after raising children.

Female Managers
Arimura described as “a good start” a new draft bill obliging employers with more than 300 staff to publish gender breakdown statistics and plans to promote women. While non-compliance carries no penalty, she said the legislation would give a picture of how women are faring at work and pointers on the problems they face.

While Abe wants women to fill 30 percent of management positions by 2020, he faces an uphill task. Women accounted for just over 8 percent of management positions in private-sector companies employing more than 100 people last year, according to government data.

“In terms of tackling the low birth rate and promoting women, the next five or 10 years will decide the trend for Japan, whether it goes up or down,” Arimura said. “In a way, it’s the last chance.”

ENDS

ABC News Radio Australia interviews me on multiethnic Japanese Ariana Miyamoto’s crowning as Miss Japan 2015

mytest

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Hi Blog. Very briefly (as it’s a busy time here at the Colorism Conference — plus another blog post out tomorrow on my upcoming JT column), here is a link to my recent interview last weekend with ABC NewsRadio Australia, on the crowning of multiethnic Japanese Ariana Miyamoto as Miss Japan (which the African-Americans at my conference were quite aware of).  Listen to it (our bit starts at minute 6:24) at:

http://www.abc.net.au/newsradio/content/s4207325.htm

Some context from other media:

arianamiyamotocnn032515 arianamiyamoto012715

As for the radio program, I’m pretty pleased with how it came out.  Thanks ABC.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Spoke at Washington University at St. Louis Law School Colorism Conference April 3, on skin color stigmatism in Japan

mytest

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Hi Blog. I was invited to present at a very high-profile Global Perspectives on Colorism Conference at the Harris World Law Institute, University of Washington at St. Louis School of Law, joining some excellent speakers with impressive backgrounds. The first day had some really informative presentations (much more rigorous and thoughtful than the Ethnic Studies class I took at UH), and I hope to be just as rigorous and thoughtful tomorrow during my fifteen minutes.

wuls2015colorismconfflyer

Title:  Skin color stigmata in “homogeneous” Japanese society
Speaker:  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito, Scholar, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Abstract:  Japanese society is commonly known as a “homogeneous society”, without issues of “race” or skin color stigmata.  This is not the case.  The speaker, a bilingual naturalized Japanese of Caucasian descent, has lived for a quarter century in Japan researching issues of Japanese minorities.  He has found that biological markers, including facial shape, body type, and, of course, skin color, factor in to differentiate, “other”, and subordinate people not only into “Japanese” and “non-Japanese”, but also into “cleaner” and “dirtier” people (and thus higher and lower social classes) within the social category of “Japanese” itself.  This talk will provide concrete examples of the dynamic of skin-color stigmatization, and demonstrate how the methods of Critical Race Theory may also be applied to a non-White society.

Details on the conference at

http://law.wustl.edu/harris/pages.aspx?ID=10184

You can see me speak at

http://mediasite.law.wustl.edu/Mediasite/Play/154d49c8babe4e5ca11ab911dd6c97031d (minute 1:42)

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Koike Yuriko in World Economic Forum: “Why inequality is different in Japan” (= because “We Japanese have a deeply ingrained stoicism”)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Shifting gears a little, here we have another LDP spokesperson peddling Japan’s exceptionalism to worldwide socioeconomic forces, and to an international audience.  While food for thought, it’s clear by the end that this is just Koike shilling for PM Abe’s economic policies, spiced up with some Nihonjinron.  Once again Japan gets away with shoehorning in “Japan-is-unique” mysticism within any social scientific analysis just because Japanese are seen as “funny quirky people from an island country affected by a long history of self-imposed isolation”.  I’ll be talking a bit about the politics of that in my next Japan Times column, coming up on Monday April 6 (out on Mondays now starting in April).  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Why inequality is different in Japan
By Yuriko Koike
World Economic Forum, Mar 2 2015, courtesy of GD
https://agenda.weforum.org/2015/03/why-inequality-is-different-in-japan/

Six months after Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century generated so much buzz in the United States and Europe, it has become a bestseller in Japan. But vast differences between Japan and its developed counterparts in the West, mean that, like so many other Western exports, Piketty’s argument has taken on unique characteristics.

Piketty’s main assertion is that the leading driver of increased inequality in the developed world is the accumulation of wealth by those who are already wealthy, driven by a rate of return on capital that consistently exceeds the rate of GDP growth. Japan, however, has lower levels of inequality than almost every other developed country. Indeed, though it has long been an industrial powerhouse, Japan is frequently called the world’s most successful communist country.Japan has a high income-tax rate for the rich (45%), and the inheritance tax rate recently was raised to 55%. This makes it difficult to accumulate capital over generations – a trend that Piketty cites as a significant driver of inequality.

As a result, Japan’s richest families typically lose their wealth within three generations. This is driving a growing number of wealthy Japanese to move to Singapore or Australia, where inheritance taxes are lower. The familiarity of Japan, it seems, is no longer sufficient to compel the wealthy to endure the high taxes imposed upon them.

In this context, it is not surprising that Japan’s “super-rich” remain a lot less wealthy than their counterparts in other countries. In the US, for example, the average income of the top one percent of households was $1,264,065 in 2012, according to the investment firm Sadoff Investment Research. In Japan, the top 1% of households earned about $240,000, on average (at 2012 exchange rates).

Yet Japanese remain sensitive to inequality, driving even the richest to avoid ostentatious displays of wealth. One simply does not see the profusion of mansions, yachts, and private jets typical of, say, Beverly Hills and Palm Beach.

For example, Haruka Nishimatsu, former President and CEO of Japan Airlines, attracted international attention a few years ago for his modest lifestyle. He relied on public transportation and ate lunch with employees in the company’s cafeteria. By contrast, in China, the heads of national companies are well known for maintaining grandiose lifestyles.

We Japanese have a deeply ingrained stoicism, reflecting the Confucian notion that people do not lament poverty when others lament it equally. This willingness to accept a situation, however bad, as long as it affects everyone equally is what enabled Japan to endure two decades of deflation, without a public outcry over the authorities’ repeated failure to redress it.

This national characteristic is not limited to individuals. The government, the central bank, the media, and companies wasted far too much time simply enduring deflation – time that they should have spent working actively to address it.

Japan finally has a government, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, that is committed to ending deflation and reinvigorating economic growth, using a combination of expansionary monetary policy, active fiscal policy, and deregulation. Now in its third year, so-called “Abenomics” is showing some positive results. Share prices have risen by 220% since Abe came to power in December 2012. And corporate performance has improved – primarily in the export industries, which have benefited from a depreciated yen – with many companies posting their highest profits on record.

But Abenomics has yet to benefit everyone. In fact, there is a sense that Abe’s policies are contributing to rising inequality. That is why Piketty’s book appeals to so many Japanese.

For example, though the recent reduction in the corporate-tax rate was necessary to encourage economic growth and attract investment, it seems to many Japanese to be a questionable move at a time when the consumption-tax rate has been increased and measures to address deflation are pushing up prices. To address this problem, the companies that enjoy tax cuts should increase their employees’ wages to keep pace with rising prices, instead of waiting for market forces to drive them up.

Herein lies the unique twist that Piketty’s theory takes on in Japan: the disparity is not so much between the super-rich and everyone else, but between large corporations, which can retain earnings and accumulate capital, and the individuals who are being squeezed in the process.

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

This article is published in collaboration with Project Syndicate. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

Author: Yuriko Koike, Japan’s former defense minister and national security adviser, was Chairwoman of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party’s General Council and currently is a member of the National Diet.
ENDS

Japan Times: Inflammatory articles (such as Sono Ayako’s “Japartheid” Sankei column) aren’t helping mags’ circulation numbers

mytest

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Hi Blog.  An excellent round-up article by Mark Schreiber in the Japan Times featured some analysis of the media ripples following Sono Ayako’s column advocating a Japan version of South African Apartheid.  He has a good look at not only the domestic reaction to this xenophobic proposal for state-enfranchised segregation (surprisingly favorable towards it, especially in a younger-age group!), but also the battle for Japan’s soul through control of the historical narrative.  He also gives us some statistics on how the most common denominator for fanning xenophobia though the media — profit motive — doesn’t seem to be working:  Sales of the scandalous Shuukanshi Weeklies are significantly down across the board.  Then it concludes with Japan’s rapidly declining press freedoms as measured worldwide, and offers the lack of trust in the media as a possible cause for people not buying it because they don’t buy into it.  It’s an insightful piece into how Japan’s media-manufactured national mentalities are descending into a Pravda-style official groupthink.

Probably one of the best articles the Japan Times will put out this year, already appearing.  Excerpt germane to Debito.org follows, but do read the whole thing. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Inflammatory articles aren’t helping mags’ circulation numbers
BY MARK SCHREIBER
THE JAPAN TIMES, FEB 28, 2015

In a controversial column by 83-year-old author Ayako Sono that appeared in the Feb. 11 issue of the Sankei Shimbun under the headline “Maintain a ‘suitable distance,’” Sono suggested that when and if Japan changes its immigration policies to accept more foreign workers, they should live in racially segregated areas.

Remarks on the article appeared in Shukan Post (March 6), Asahi Geino (March 5), Flash (March 10) and Weekly Playboy (March 9). Sono also defended her column in the Shukan Bunshun (Feb. 26). While the general tone of the responses was supportive of Sono’s right to express her opinions, Weekly Playboy went the extra mile and surveyed 100 adults between the ages of 20 and 79. When asked about her stance, 42.3 percent of respondents replied, “I can understand what she’s saying, in part.” This exceeded the 36.6 percent who responded, “It’s understandable for her to be criticized” and 21 percent who saw no problem with the column’s contents.

The magazine also asked the participants if they agreed that foreign blue-collar workers should be admitted in greater numbers to cope with labor shortages. As opposed to 7.8 percent who said they agreed and 27.5 percent who agreed to some extent, 41.8 percent were opposed to some extent, and 22.8 percent were opposed outright.

Interestingly, the age segment that most strongly opposed the acceptance of foreign workers for nursing care services (and the only segment that provided a majority response) was respondents in their 30s, 53 percent of whom said they’d prefer to avoid non-Japanese nurses. From its in-house survey results — the rather small number of subjects notwithstanding — Weekly Playboy concludes that the Japanese still have a deeply rooted “allergy to foreigners.”

Rest of the article at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/28/national/media-national/inflammatory-articles-arent-helping-mags-circulation-numbers/

Sankei columnist Sono Ayako advocates separation of NJ residential zones by race in Japan, cites Apartheid South Africa as example (UPDATED)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s another one for the Debito.org archives.  Sono Ayako, famous conservative novelist, has just had a ponderous opinion piece published in the reactionary right-wing Sankei Shinbun daily newspaper.  This is the same newspaper that last decade serialized professional bigot Ishihara Shintaro’sNihon Yo” columns (which, among other things, saw Chinese as criminal due to their “ethnic DNA” (minzokuteki DNA)).  This is what the Sankei is getting up to now:  Publishing opinion pieces advocating Japan institute an Apartheid system for foreign residents, separating their living areas by races.  Seriously:

SONO:  “I have come to believe, after 20-30 years knowing about the actual situation in Republic of South Africa, that when it comes to residential zones, the Whites, Asians, and Blacks should be separated and live in different areas [in Japan].”  

She describes how Black Africans have come to despoil the areas (particularly infrastructurally) that were reserved for Whites in the RSA, and feels that “immigrants” (imin) would do the same thing to Japan.  And there’s lots more to mine from a remarkable capsule of bigotry and ethnic overgeneralizations that only cantankerous eldsters, who live in intellectual sound chambers because they are too old to be criticized properly anymore, can spew.  Huffpost Japan and original article below, followed by one more quick comment:

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

曽野綾子さん「移民を受け入れ、人種で分けて居住させるべき」産経新聞で主張
The Huffington Post Japan, courtesy of SH
投稿日: 2015年02月11日 11時53分 JST 更新: 2015年02月11日 11時53分 JST SANKEI

2月11日付の産経新聞コラムで、作家の曽野綾子さんが、日本の労働人口が減少している問題について触れ、移民を受け入れた上で、人種で分けて居住させるべきだ、と主張した。

(Entire column; click on image to expand in browser)

sonoayakosankei021115

「近隣国の若い女性たちに来てもらえばいい」と今後需要の増える介護について移民を受け入れる一方、「移民としての法的身分は厳重に守るように制度を作らねばならない」とした上で、

もう20〜30年も前に南アフリカ共和国の実情を知って以来、私は、居住区だけは、白人、アジア人、黒人というふうに分けて住む方がいい、と思うようになった。

(産経新聞 2015/02/11付 7面)
と住居の隔離とも取られかねない主張を展開している。

さらに、南アフリカでアパルトヘイト(人種隔離政策)の撤廃後、白人専用だったマンションに黒人家族が一族を呼び寄せたため、水が足りなくなり共同生活が破綻し、白人が逃げ出したという例を出し、「人間は事業も研究も運動も何もかも一緒にやれる。しかし居住だけは別にした方がいい」と締めくくっている。

このコラムに、ツイッター上では批判が集中している。
Rest of article at

http://www.huffingtonpost.jp/2015/02/10/sankei_n_6657606.html

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

COMMENT:  While I hope (and I stress:  hope) that nobody is going to take seriously the rants of a octogenarian who has clearly lost touch with the modern world, it is distressing to see that this was not consigned to the regular netto-uyoku far-right internet denizens who regularly preach intolerance and spew xenophobic bile as a matter of reflex.  Shame on you, Sankei, for adding credibility to this article by publishing it.  Let’s hope (and I stress again:  hope) that it is not a bellwether of public policy to come.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

PS: More on Sono Ayako’s hypocritically misogynistic (yes!) rantings here in a separate article in the Japan Times.

PPS:  This article just made it into The Japan Times, with more details on how Sono was appointed to a PM Abe panel on education reform in 2013, demonstrating how deep the rot goes.

UPDATE FEB 13:  A protest letter in Japanese and English from the Africa-Japan Forum hits the media.  Self-explanatory.  Let’s see if this results in a retraction of the article.

UPDATE FEB 14:  South African Ambassador to Japan protests Sono Ayako’s pro-Apartheid column <産経新聞>曽野氏コラム、南ア大使も抗議文 人種隔離許容(毎日新聞) – Yahoo!ニュース http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20150214-00000077-mai-soci

sonoayakoprotestletter021315

sonoayakoprotestletterj021315

Courtesy of the Mainichi Shinbun and MS.  http://mainichi.jp/graph/2015/02/14/20150214k0000e040192000c/001.html

UPDATE FEB 20: Gaijin Handlers intervene to rein in Japan-Studies intelligentsia by portraying Sono as somehow culturally-misunderstood:
http://www.debito.org/?p=13061#comment-831044

ENDS

Nobel Prize winner Dr. Shuji “Slave” Nakamura urges Japan’s youth to “get out of Japan”

mytest

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Hi Blog. A discussion about the following article has already started here, so I thought it prudent to promote it to its own blog entry for proper discussion. First the article, then my comment.  (N.B.: people who commented before who wish to repost their commment here, go ahead.)

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

Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”
RocketNews, January 23, 2015
Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”
Courtesy of lots of people

In 2014, Dr. Shuji Nakamura, along with two other scientists, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work in creating bright blue LEDs. In 1993, Nakamura held only a master’s degree and worked with just one lab assistant for a small manufacturer in rural Japan, yet he was able to find a solution that had eluded some the highest paid, best-educated researchers in the world.

If his story ended there, he would no doubt be the poster boy for Japanese innovation and never-say-die spirit, but in the years since his discovery, he has instigated a landmark patent case, emigrated to the US, given up his Japanese citizenship and become a vocal critic of his native country. Last week, the prickly professor gave his first Japanese press conference since picking up his Nobel and he had some very succinct advice for young Japanese: Leave.

Although Nakamura praised the Japanese culture of cooperation, hard work and honesty, he called out the education system for focusing too much on the limited goals of exams and getting into big companies. He pointed out that it is failing to give young people the English skills they need to function on a global level.

“Zero incentive”

“In the world, Japanese people [have] the worst English performance,” he said. “Only they are concerned about Japanese life. That’s a problem.”

He also said that lack of exposure to foreign cultures breeds a parochial ethnocentrism and makes young Japanese susceptible to “mind control” by the government.

Nakamura slammed Japan for failing to ensure that inventors are fairly compensated for their work, something that stifles innovation and provides “zero incentive” for employees to be creative.

Article 35 of the patent law says that patent rights belong to the inventor, but in practice, companies dictate the terms of compensation to their employees. In fact, Nakamura’s former company paid him the equivalent of just US$180 for his Nobel-winning invention. Nakamura sued in 2001 and a Tokyo court determined that his patent had generated about US$1 billion in revenue. Nakamura settled with the company for US$8 million.

“The most important thing is to go abroad and…see Japan from outside the country.”

Since the litigation, many companies have switched from giving employees a flat fee for patent rights to a percentage of royalties, but the Japan Business Federation has also begun lobbying the government to clarify the law and place patent rights squarely with companies. Prime Minister Abe has hinted that he would like to do so.

“If the Japanese government changes the patent law, it means basically there would no compensation [for inventors]. In that case, I recommend that Japanese employees go abroad,” said Nakamura.

In general, Nakamura encouraged young Japanese to leave, whether to get a better education, to expand their world view or to be better compensated for their work. Despite his criticisms, he is not advocating a wholesale abandonment of Japan either. Rather, a more internationalized population could be the key to meaningful reforms.

“The most important thing is to go abroad and they can see Japan from outside the country. And they understand, …oh, now I can understand bad thing of Japan. That’s the most important thing, no? Japanese people have to wake up about Japanese bad things, you know. I think that’s very important.”

ENDS
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COMMENT:  Wow.  “Slave” Nakamura not only refused to settle for the pittance regularly doled out to inventors in Japan that transform innovation and profit for Japan’s corporate behemoths (yes, he sued — millions of people do in Japan every year — and he won!), but also he wouldn’t settle for life in Japan as it is.  He emigrated and now publicly extols the virtues of not being stifled by Japan’s insularity (and governmental mind control!?).  Pretty brave and bracing stuff.  Bravo.

It isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened within Japan’s intelligentsia.  How many readers remember the “Tonegawa Shock” of 1987?

When the 1987 Nobel Prize was given to [Susumu] Tonegawa, who had moved to the US so he could be inspired and free to carry on his research, Japanese academics took notice and some were humiliated. Tonegawa had asserted that if he had remained in Japan, he would have had to spend years courting favor with mentors and dealing with disinterested colleagues, lagging unchallenged and unmotivated, certainly never to attain Nobel laureate. The press labeled the phenomenon as “Tonegawa Shock” which described the actions of similar Japanese scientists, such as Leo Esaki, a 1973 laureate in physics, who left Japan to work at IBM in the US. [Source]

The Tonegawa Shock set off a chain of events that led to the despotic Ministry of Education deciding to “enliven” (kasseika) Japan’s education system by doing away with tenure.  Sounds great to people who don’t understand why tenure exists in an education system, but what happened is that the MOE first downsized everyone that they could who was not on tenure — the NJ educators on perpetual contract eemployment (ninkisei) — in what was called the “Great Gaijin Massacre” of 1992-1994 where most NJ teachers working in Japan’s prestigious National and Public Universities over the age of 35 were fired by bureaucratic fiat.  It was the first activism that I took up back in 1993, and the underlying “Academic Apartheid” of Japan’s higher education system exposed by this policy putsch became the bedrock issue for Debito.org when it was established in 1996.

With this in mind, I wonder what reverberations will result from Dr. Nakamura encouraging an exodus?  Hopefully not something that will further damage the NJ communities in Japan.  But if there is more NJ scapegoating in the offing, you’ll probably hear about it on Debito.org.  That’s what we’re here for.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito