Update to Canada bank racism issue: Fascinating FB conversation gets me to capitulate

mytest

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Hi Blog. A couple of weeks ago, shortly before bedtime when I was tired and on vacation, I tossed off a blog entry on Debito.org about my recent experience with what I considered to be racism towards me at a Canadian bank for not having a passport that matched the bank teller’s expectation of phenotype. In other words, the teller said my having a Japanese passport was “funny” to him, as I didn’t “look Japanese”.

This was quickly dealt with in a way that I had never seen done in, for example, Japan (where this behavior would in my experience be explained away as a cultural misunderstanding, oversensitivity on my part, etc.).  In Canada, the manager intervened, and (unbeknownst to us at the time) sent the teller home.  The manager, who happened to be a minority in Canada, then said he well understood my distaste for identity policing of this ilk. In sum, the blog post was to give kudos to Canadian society for stopping this sort of thing in its tracks.

I had thought this was a pretty summary case, and wrote it up as such. However, I had no idea that it would blow up in my face.

So much so that I had to add an addendum to the post from a person accompanying me to that bank, filling in a number of things I hadn’t bothered to mention — such as the fact that we called the manager because we had a separate issue of business that needed a manager’s attention, and the teller in fact interfered with that request, and more. (I encourage people who haven’t read the original Debito.org blog entry to go here and do so before reading further.  In fact, sorry to do this:  since I don’t want to just rehash the debate below, comments that don’t reflect a careful reading of that post and the subsequent text will not be allowed through.)

This blog post is to archive the essence of a very informative discussion on my Facebook that was occasioned by this blog entry.

The discussion cleaved into several quite distinct camps, essentially:

  1. Support for what I did.
  2. Criticism for my overdoing it — surely this could have been handled better by me, e.g., by deflecting it with a quick explanation of my background or a bit of humor.
  3. Disbelief at my inability to use common sense:  To them, of course I don’t “look Japanese” (especially in a society with so few Caucasian Japanese), so my apparent expectation of the teller’s lack of surprise is unreasonable.
  4. Anger (especially from Canadians) of my acting like a typically-loud and conflict-encouraging American in Canada.
  5. Disgust at my acting so atypically Japanese that I no longer qualified as a Japanese in that person’s eyes (and that was it for us:  Unfriended. Anyone who says I’m not “Japanese” because I don’t look or act “Japanese” in their view is neither a friend nor a person I care to talk to again.  That’s taking the identity policing too far.  After all, I could have committed a murder, and that would not have disqualified me — since some Japanese people murder, and don’t lose their “Japanese” status; my objecting to a teller’s inappropriate statement is somehow worse than that?)
  6. Outrage towards my victimizing the teller (who as, I pointed out in my blog post, I deduced to be of native Korean background).  To them, I was oblivious towards my White Privilege in a White-majority and White-dominated society.

The most articulate proponent of Camp 6 was a person I will call JG, and he posted a comment so well-argued that I thought it worth archiving in full at Debito.org.   I answered it after a few days (again, I had a number of other commitments while on vacation, and didn’t want to just toss something off again), but here it is:

(N.B. There is one more bit at the very end, after JG’s and my exchange, where I essentially capitulate and agree that I overdid it this time.  Do read to the bottom if you’re convinced that I never admit I’m wrong.)

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Debito:  Hi Everyone. At long last, here is my reply to JG essay. I am sorry for taking so long — these things take time to compose, so thank you for your patience. For completeness’ sake, I will quote it in full with my answers after each one of his paragraphs:

JG: Sorry, this smells of white-privilege, dude! You get to be white AND Japanese! You’ve taken this TOO far! […] I mentioned in another sub-thread that your actions smacked of “white-privilege”, but I think that you missed my point, or choose to ignore it, which is a very symptom of said privilege. What I mean by “white-privilege” in this context is that when one speaks about discrimination, one cannot ignore the part that power plays in the situation. In this case, you are in Canada, NOT in Japan, so the context of power changes. In Canada, you are perceived as WHITE, which in North America is the gold-standard (it is also the case in Japan, but that is another discussion). People who are perceived as White have certain advantages that others who are not perceived as White. Please note that I am not talking about ethnicity or culture here, but the socially-constructed notion of RACE that is defined primarily by stereotypical physical attributes and phenotypes interpreted through the lens of the observer. So while you may “feel” that you are Japanese, others will see you as WHITE; and this is especially salient in the North American context where being labeled as WHITE affords you privileges not afforded to others, even though they may be citizens through birth or naturalization.

Debito: I do not dispute either in concept or form the existence of White Privilege. I acknowledge that being White has assisted and does assist me and others who look like me from society to society, and that the treatment of people deemed to be “White” by society provides systemic advantages in societies that are both White-majority and Non-White-majority dominated. And I acknowledge that people will see me as “White” anywhere I go.

Where you and I part company in this paragraph is my wish to be White AND Japanese. I do not believe that they are (or should be) mutually exclusive. Just as Japanese themselves in Apartheid South Africa successfully lobbied to be Japanese AND “Honorary Whites” under the law. And this was not a case of naturalization in the ASA example, either. My being naturalized as a Japanese gives me even more standing to claim that I am Japanese AND White; I’ve earned this qualification through decades of study and self-education, acculturation, time spent in and contributions to Japanese society, dedication and sacrifice (including my American passport 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.

Moreover, I am not willing to have my identity policed by others, unaware of this degree of dedication, into being Japanese BUT White anywhere I go. I am a Japanese, full stop. As are my Japanese children, full stop. As are yours, full stop. Regardless of how our children look, anywhere in the world, they are ALSO Japanese. It is up to us to claim that for ourselves and them, and not succumb to the majoritarian identity policing that goes on everywhere. Otherwise we’d still have people saying in other societies that they were not “real” members of (insert society here). This must stop, as borders nowadays with international migration and immigration are porous like never before. I believe that introducing White Privilege into the mix here distracts and detracts from the main issue, which is: self-identification. I believe that a person has the right to shape and control their own identity, and claim it when necessary without being unduly accused of an abuse of social power.

JG: Now, in consideration of the above, can you see how YOU were the one with the power in this exchange? Sure, the statement that the guy made may have been insensitive or, giving him the benefit of the doubt, he may have not experienced a “white” person who identified himself as part of a group that has been historically “non-white”, especially when identifying as “white” affords so much advantage and social capital. Also, considering that he himself was a visible minority, might take a bit of offense to someone with such obvious social advantage, identifying himself as a part of the Asian community. In other words, “Why is this White guy trying to be like us? Is he trying to appropriate our culture like the other whites in the past took the land, culture, and livelihood during colonization?”

Debito: Yes, now let’s talk about the power relations here in this particular case regardless of self-identification. You made the case that I, as a White person, had the power in this relationship. That could very well be the case, and I won’t deny it as a possible factor. (Not mentioned is that I also had the power in this relationship as an account holder and a customer.) He was no doubt surprised by a person like me having a passport like that (I don’t blame him for that — it’s an understandable reaction). And his reaction was probably innocuous and not ill-intentioned. All agreed so far.

That said, the issue in this situation I believe is the remark he made. If the teller had also been identifiable and self-identified as “White”, I would have reacted the same way to this social othering. It doesn’t matter what the teller’s background is: It’s an inappropriate remark.

Where we part company further is in seeing everything revolving around a person socially-identified as “White” as riddled with White Privilege that is actually being enforced consciously or unconsciously. My existing as a White Japanese possibly (as you argued) being seen as an appropriator of his culture is his baggage. And if he wants a job dealing with people in a customer-client relationship, he must lose that baggage, or at least not act or remark on it — just as anyone “White” who has to deal with any Visible Minority must lose their personal baggage, as part of company policy as a company representative.

Whether or not that baggage can ever be properly “loseable” is something we can debate (I also concur that racialization processes make that impossible to reduce to zero), but I don’t think its existence should be used as an excuse to empower hypocrisy. By that I mean, if I can’t do it to him, he can’t do it to me. And to imply that he can just because I’m apparently White and he’s not is unduly switching the victimization. That goes for anywhere that has any claims (including the Non-White majoritarian societies) to having anti-discrimination rules and practices.

(Further, if legacies of colonization that you brought up were an issue for this gentleman, the Japanese colonized Korea, so Whiteness is quite probably not a factor in this.)

If the very sight of me somehow, as you put it, “offends” him (which I think is unlikely, but that’s how you couched this issue), I don’t think he should be doing this particular job. But anyway, I really don’t think that’s what happening here. I’m sure he’s a fine teller that just let his tongue slip and vocalized the first thing that popped into his head. You can make the case that I overreacted to it (and I’m fine with that interpretation), but to say that I victimized him just because I happened to be White and he didn’t is in my opinion, in this case, a stretch.

JG: Regardless of what was going on in his head (because it is impossible to know), the facts as you have stated yourself, are that despite his initial shock of finding out that you were “Japanese”, he STILL provided you with service and did not challenge your identity in any meaningful or legal way that denied you anything; which is what TRUE discrimination is. As we understand it, you were not refused or denied service, you were not suspected of misrepresentation or of being a criminal, and the authorities were not called. It only seems that your feelings were hurt because this guy could not immediately recognize from your appearance that you were Japanese (or part of the larger imagined Asian community). And your response to this, instead of using this opportunity to educate him of the larger, diverse, growing imagined Asian diaspora to which you seem to be laying claim; and maybe making an ally in the process; you go for the nuclear option and call his boss on him, claiming “racism”!

Debito: Quite so. This is the better case to make that I overreacted, and, again, that interpretation is quite solid. He did not deny me service (although, as my accompanying eyewitness attested, he did interfere with us seeing the manager — but this information came later and you couldn’t have known it; you later still doubted I my second eyewitness was telling the truth, but more on that later).

However, let’s at least admit that he did deny me a comfortable space for doing business as a customer by socially-othering me. People may say that they wouldn’t react in the same way (that’s their prerogative, of course). Maybe that comment wouldn’t even make them personally uncomfortable. But again, I say, how much of this do you tolerate before you say enough?

One of the issues I have had to deal with just about every day no matter where I go in the world is the natural curiosity about my background turned into vocalized judgment. Where are you from? “Japan.” (Or, “Born in the US, but lived in Japan” if I’m feeling chatty.) Common response: “But you don’t look Japanese.” Or, “Interesting last name, where’s it from?” “Japan.” (Or some more elaborate variant.) “But you don’t look Japanese.” Customs official whenever I cross a border (except, amazingly, in Canada or Japan): “What’s with this Japanese passport?” “I’m a naturalized Japanese citizen.” “But you don’t look Japanese.” And that’s the milder version (at the Jamaican border they actually took my passport to their back room and had a laugh at it), before the Americans in particular render me to Secondary for a few hours’ of wait and inquisition until I miss my flight. I’m serious. Just saying “It’s a long story,” just doesn’t cut it, having to “school” everyone on a daily basis gets tiring, and having to bite my lip through a number of these intrusive and humiliating situations leaves a psychological mark after a while. It causes “triggers”, and that’s what I think was at play with this teller in Canada. That’s why I’m such a big fan of microaggressions as a social diagnosis — I face them every day and know the signals for my situation inside and out.

You might say I got myself into this situation by naturalizing into a country where there are few Non-“Asian”-looking citizens. Fine. But I’m not a unique case. What do you do when it starts happening to your Japanese kids who don’t look so-called “Asian”? How will you react the hundredth time (or the fifth time in a day): “Oh, what cute gaijin kids!” And will you stand by when people doubt your kids’ identity as they grow older and start dealing with society’s veto gates? Alienating comments like these between individuals are not something you can do much about. But these alienating attitudes being expressed in a corporate or official capacity should not happen. To anyone.

Further, as I have said before, I was not in the bank that day to school the teller. That’s not my job. Just like it was not my job to correct everyone’s English everywhere, anyplace, when I was an English teacher. My job is to complete the transaction and get on with my day, and I’d like that to happen without having to deal with vocalized prejudice.

JG: Please do not get me wrong, as a permanent resident of Japan for almost 18 years with a Japanese wife and child, as well as considering Japanese citizenship myself, I understand that if this happened in JAPAN, one MIGHT understand the desire to call the boss in. However, this happened in CANADA, NORTH AMERICA! Why would you hold the same standard of being treated as a Japanese to a person who is not Japanese, in a place that is NOT Japan?

Debito: Sorry, we’re not going to agree on this, but I don’t believe this should happen anywhere regardless of whatever humans we’re dealing with, or what “race/ethnicity/group/etc.” is dominant in a society. That includes Japan, Canada, wherever. When it happens to you as a Japanese citizen enough times, you might react differently. I don’t know you and I’m sure, of course, but you don’t know me either, and I wouldn’t be so summarily dismissive of my position (and just put it down to “White Privilege”) when you’re not in it yet.

JG: The most critical point to my argument is this: YOU were the transgressor in this situation, NOT the teller. I am sure that the boss took your complaint seriously, openly scolded the teller, and summarily dismissed him in your presence; but guess what? It wasn’t because you were JAPANESE, it was because you were WHITE! You were in a bank in North America, where white people have social advantage due to physical attributes that are interpreted by the majority as being advantageous, where the system is tilted more to the side of said people, and where visible minorities have historically (and are still) at a disadvantage.

Debito: You might be right that I got preferential treatment because I’m White, I don’t know. But I rather doubt it in this case. Remember, you’ve got the facts of the case wrong (and wouldn’t believe further testimony): 1) the teller was not dismissed in our presence (he was after we left the building the first time), 2) we didn’t ask for the sanctions that he got (in fact, we didn’t ask for any sanctions at all), and 3) we would not have even KNOWN that those sanctions had happened if we hadn’t gone back and talked to the manager (meaning his sanction was not done for our benefit to curry favor with the White privileged). Moreover, 4) if White Privilege was a factor, wasn’t the fact that the manager was a minority himself in a position of power have any bearing here? Might one not be able to make the argument that since both the teller AND the manager were minorities in Canada, that they might have banded together to protect each other against the White Privilege? I don’t know. But I can’t conclude definitively that White Privilege was at play here, and I hope that you won’t simply say, “You can’t conclude because you’re White.” The evidence just isn’t conclusive either way.

JG: I notice that you have fallen in love with the term “microaggression” in your writings and I would like to say that your understanding of the term falls extremely short, and this situation is stark evidence of it! Again, as as WHITE person, no, better yet, a WHITE MALE in North America, who (whether you are aware of it or not) has social capital and power afforded to him by his physicality, you basically bullied a visible minority Korean-Canadian into accepting the way YOU see the world and you possibly endangered his carreer and future job prospects! How can you call yourself a crusader for visible minorities when you used your WHITE-PRIVILEGE to take the livelihood of a person with less power than you over a simple comment?!?

Debito: I think the bank was the one who told the teller how the company sees the world and how he should represent the company, not us. I know, you’ll couch it as the bank trying to appease the Dominant Whites, but I think this would have happened to any teller of any background who said this. Agree to disagree.

Also, I somewhat doubt this teller’s career is in danger, and I base this on a conversation I had with another Canadian manager friend I consulted with two days ago who has experience in these customer-service situations. Although my friend would not have taken the measure of sending the teller home (and he doubts that it involved a day without pay, either), he said that after a reprimand and a promise not to do it again, this would be seen as a teachable moment and forgotten shortly thereafter as long as it didn’t happen again. He strongly doubts that there would be any career endangerment.

Of course, this is all speculation. But so is the speculation about career endangerment, as is the speculation that White Privilege was involved here. We simply don’t have enough data about the event to say definitively what power relations were at play.

JG: And since you tend to use personal anecdotes as “facts” for your arguments, allow me to follow suit: I am a Irish-Scottish-Chickasaw-Chotaw-Jamaican-African American. I am most often identified as “black” by others (although I have been called Indian, Arab, Mexican, or just “foreigner” in my time in the US) mainly due to skin color. When I go back to the US to visit, I shop with my Japanese credit card and sign the card in Japanese because that is the name I use in Japan. I almost ALWAYS get looks when I do this, just as I do here in Japan. Both here and in other countries I sometimes even get, “Are you SURE this is your signature?” and I simply reply with a matter-of-fact, “Yes” or “Sou desu”, for whichever the situation calls. I do not call for a manager and complain as it is not necessary. I know that you are more Japanese than I am, but from my understanding, the prevailing culturally appropriate attitude for most Japanese is to avoid conflict when at all possible.

Debito: Okay. That’s how you deal with it; I respect that. Not necessarily how I would always deal with it. Perhaps you think we have different coping strategies because you are seen as “black” and I am seen as “white”. Perfectly feasible. But saying that I can’t react a certain way because I’m seen as “white” is a bit disempowering when facing discrimination. I’d rather deal with discrimination using ways granted to us as human beings within a society by the law, regardless of my (or anyone’s) skin color.

JG: Now imagine that I, as a “black” person, reacted the way YOU did at the bank in Canada. Do you honestly believe that I would be treated with the same respect? Well, in Canada, maybe. But in the US, it could very well turn into a story on the evening news! Let me give YOU a teaching point that you failed to give the Canadian teller: Visible minorities go through this ALL THE TIME! When a black person experiences and awkward moment or a “mistake” happens, we always have to question whether it was just an innocent misstep or was there actual discrimination going on. Where the PRIVILEGE comes in is that you, as a WHITE MALE, you have the freedom to question and complain, while a black person risks being called “ghetto”, “uncivilized”, or “an angry black man”! Your white-privilege shelters you from this reality. I am not blaming you for it, but as a so-called social activist you should be aware of it!

Debito: I see your point very well. I am aware that Visible Minorities have had (and still have) it pretty rough in various societies, and that Whites have had it pretty damned good for centuries. I would hope that if a person identified as Visible Minority in any society had this happen to her/him, that they too would stand up for themselves as I did, regardless of the social opprobrium and unfair facile labeling that frequently befalls them. That they have done so bravely for so long is inspiring and instructional, not to mention progressive. But clearly the “White Privilege” really hasn’t shielded me this time, in this discussion. Nor has it shielded me over the years, as people have seen me as the “outraged man tilting at windmills” etc., and assumed that just about everything I do is something I do with anger and out of anger etc. (See examples of criticism at http://www.debito.org/?p=12274, and proof of my style of activism at http://www.debito.org/?p=13365). Anyway, your point about having to question whether it was an innocent misstep or actual discrimination going on is well taken.

JG: It is natural for people culturally, socially, and economically “double-dip” if it is advantageous and if they can get away with it, but PLEASE do not insult the intelligence of the people here by telling us that you are “doing it for the greater good” and “doing it for us”!

Debito: Did I tell you that? Are you quoting me? I’ll answer that: No. I did not say that. Please do not cite things I did not say as some kind of evidence.

JG: I know by telling you all of this, I run the risk of being blocked and unfriended, as you have demonstrated by doing it to others who disagree with you. This is why I find your earlier comment about how society and the law agrees with you very ironic, since you quite liberally exercise your power to divorce yourself from dissenters. However, I hope you choose not to, as I hope that we can learn more from one another though this exchange.

Debito: No, you did not run the risk of being blocked for telling me all this (in fact, as I’ve said repeatedly, it’s a very thoughtful, well-crafted, earnest essay; thanks for it). What I do block people for is for being abusive. You were not abusive here. You were abusive later, which is why I eventually blocked you, long after you refused my request for retracting the angry comments you made later:

(For the record, what I requested of JG: “I would like you to retract the statements you make above basically accusing me of lying about having another eyewitness to this issue, not to mention bad faith and profiteering. These: “Even if your “eyewitness’s” account of what happened is accurate”,” “dodge the issues by posting a mysterious anonymous eyewitness account and advertising your book”. “conveniently-timed “anonymous” eyewitness who refuses to be identified because you have “stalkers”” (I do have stalkers, JG). All of those statements are grounded in anger, not reason. If you cannot retract them, I cannot engage in discussion with you, as you seem unable to fundamentally trust me. Usually when somebody becomes this abusive towards me, I block and unfriend them. But your essay on White Privilege was earnest and thoroughly-argued enough to warrant a response, so I didn’t unfriend you. But after this subsequent unfair indictment of my character, motives, and my friend’s testimony, I do not feel as inclined to discuss until these are retracted. I want a civil discussion. These accusations are not civil. So please retract, or end of discussion with me.”)

If someone wants to forward this response to JG, go ahead. But I don’t think there is any room for discussion between him and me as individuals. As to the points he raises, I hope my attempt to answer them to all of you in a calm, reasoned manner will be seen as earnest and well-intentioned on my part. I apologize in advance for any blind spots I may have due to my personal background being raised and living in several racialized societies, but I hope that, as JG said, we can all learn from one another through this exchange. I know I feel I have. Thank you for reading and discussing. Debito

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Final thoughts from Debito:

One of the reasons I like having discussions like these, even those that sometimes bruise the Ego, is that they make me think and self-reflect, even help me lose some bad habits.  The best comment came from a person whose tone of criticism proved his very point. From SMC:

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

SMC: You presuppose a lack of empathy on the teller’s part. But an awkward, inappropriate remark is not the same thing as a lack of empathy. I wasn’t there, so I cannot say anything about the tone, volume, etc., of the teller’s remark that might give me a better idea of the nature of the exchange between you and him.

But it would appear that you chose to respond to a perceived (and probably unconscious) lack of empathy by being consciously non-empathetic, and dealt with the situation in a legalistic, self-validating way.

The Buddhists have an interesting concept called “skillful means”; in other words, having the wisdom to know how to adjust one’s tactics to make one’s point in the most effective way possible.

In a legal/juridical context the kind of approach you took would be appropriate, but in this case it appears that you missed the chance to help educate and enlighten a fellow human being with a few well-chosen words. You’ll probably do better next time, friend.

Respect, SMC
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Yep, quite so. I admit that I overreacted, and in an unproductive way.  I capitulate. Thanks to everyone who explained that to me so patiently. It eventually sunk in. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

“Gaikokujin ja arimasen: An Analysis of the Interactive Construction and Contestation of Being a Foreigner in Japan”, an academic paper by Dr. Cade Bushnell analyzing the conversation I had with Yunohana management during Otaru Onsen Case

mytest

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Hi Blog.  The landmark Otaru Onsens Case of “Japanese Only” signs continues to reverberate more than a decade later.  Dr. Cade Bushnell of the University of Tsukuba kindly sent me the following notification of a research article he wrote, based upon a taped conversation I had with exclusionary management at Onsen Yunohana back in 2000, which precipitated the famous lawsuit.  Please have a read, especially if you are interested in the field of Conversation Analysis.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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July 2, 2015

Dear Dr. Arudou,

Just a note to inform you that my paper featuring your interaction at the bath house has gone public:

http://www.japan.tsukuba.ac.jp/research/
http://japan.tsukuba.ac.jp/research/JIAJS_Vol7_ONLINE_11_Bushnell%20FINAL.pdf

Thank you again for your understanding and kind cooperation in allowing me to use the data.

Best,
Cade Bushnell
University of Tsukuba

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

Gaikokujin ja Arimasen (I’m Not a Foreigner):
An Analysis of the Interactive Construction and Contestation of Being a Foreigner in Japan
Cade BUSHNELL University of Tsukuba, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Associate professor
Journal of International and Advanced Japanese Studies, University of Tsukuba, Vol. 7, March 2015

Abstract:  Participants of talk-in-interaction may make various categories and collections of categories relevant to their talk (Hester & Eglin, 1997; Sacks, 1992; Schegloff, 1992, 2007). From an ethnomethodological perspective, such categories are understood not as static possessions, but rather as being assembled by the participants on a moment to moment basis as they co-construct their interaction (Hester & Eglin, 1997; Nishizaka, 1995, 1999; Psathas, 1999; Watson, 1997). Additionally, the participants’ co-construction of, alignment to, or contestation of categories may reflexively affect the sequential organization of their talk (Watson, 1997).

In the present research, I examine a service encounter between a Caucasian Japanese national, his two friends, and the racially Japanese staff of a public bath house in Japan. In the analysis, I use conversation analysis and membership categorization analysis to examine the specific ways in which the participants co-construct the categories of Japanese and foreigner, how they constitute the category Japanese as being bound to differential sets of attributes, rights, legal statuses, and so forth, and how they treat these mutually different categorical constitutions as being problematic for assembling the real-world activity of using the bath house facilities. I also consider how the sequential and categorial aspects of the talk jointly work to make the interaction visible as being a dispute as the participants align to or contest categories in their interaction.

Keywords: Conversation Analysis, Membership Categorization Analysis, Dispute Talk, Discrimination, Nationality

http://www.japan.tsukuba.ac.jp/research/

http://japan.tsukuba.ac.jp/research/JIAJS_Vol7_ONLINE_11_Bushnell%20FINAL.pdf

Tangent: How anti-discrimination measures are enforced elsewhere: Racism towards me at a bank in Canada

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Got an interesting story to tell.

(UPDATE JULY 4, 2015:  PLEASE READ TO THE BOTTOM FOR A RETELLING OF THE STORY BY ANOTHER EYEWITNESS.)

Recently I had business at a Canadian bank, so I went to a branch of it within Canada.  My transaction required me to show government ID, so I showed my Japanese passport, of course.  That’s all I have.

The teller verified my ID, but then made the comment, “It’s funny that you should have a Japanese passport.  You don’t look Japanese.”

I said, “Let’s not go there.  Lose the racism and complete the transaction.”

Well, after the transaction was complete, I called for his manager.  When the manager appeared, I indicated that his employee had made an untoward comment about my physical appearance and legal status.  “How would you like it,” I said to the teller, “if I said to you, ‘It’s funny you have a Canadian passport.  You don’t look Canadian.’?”  (It it important to add at this juncture that the teller was a Korean-Canadian immigrant — I know because I requested his name from the manager later.*)

The manager ascertained that the teller had said what he had said, and then was told that this behavior was inappropriate under Canadian rules and laws.  He was then sent home for the day, presumably without pay.

The bank manager and I then sat down in his office where he offered his sincere apologies.  And he told me over the course of a relaxed and empathetic discussion that he understood very well where I was coming from.  He himself is Metis, a minority in Canada of mixed First-Nations and settler peoples, but he apparently doesn’t “look Metis” to Canadians.  This becomes an issue whenever he, for example, bargains for a car at an automobile dealership, but has his identity policed by the dealer whenever he indicates that his indigenous status in Canada exempts him from Canadian taxes.  “I produce my First-Nations ID card, of course, but I hate it when people doubt my identity just because I don’t ‘look Indian’ to them, especially when they say so carelessly out loud.  This is unacceptable behavior for them, and it’s unacceptable for my employees too.”

That’s the way it’s done.  None of these crappy “cultural/linguistic misunderstandings” excuses, no shallow apologies and then everyone gets back to work undisturbed, and zero tolerance for assuming that people have to “look” a certain way to be a “real” member of a people or nation/state.  Justice was commensurate, swift, and public.  Well done Canada.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

(*CLARIFICATION JULY 3, 2015:  I also deduced that the teller was a landed immigrant because a) he worked in this local branch of a Canadian bank, and you would probably need landed status in Canada in order to get that kind of job, and b) based on his Korean accent, English wasn’t his first language.  However, I made no issue of these assumptions whatsoever during our exchange.  I only asked for his empathy by putting the shoe on the other foot, saying, “How would you like it if…”.)

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

UPDATE JULY 4, 2015:  A RETELLING OF THE SITUATION FROM ANOTHER EYEWITNESS:

Hello. I would like your readers to know that I was also there as an eyewitness, and the blog post doesn’t really tell what I think to be the whole story. It’s important that you see that there was more to this case than Debito quickly typed up while on vacation, because some people are really misunderstanding what happened.

Reveal: I am a Canadian who has lived here for more than 40 years. I’ve also lived in Japan and the United States, and, for the record, I am a white woman. I can’t reveal any more than that because Debito has stalkers.

Debito’s recounting of the story is correct until the part where he writes that, “The manager had ascertained that the teller had said what he had said.” What happened was this:

The teller asked for Debito’s ID in order to complete our requested transaction. Debito showed his Japanese passport. The teller verified his ID, looked back and forth at Debito’s face and the passport, and then made the comment, “It’s funny you have a Japanese passport. You don’t look Japanese.”

Debito said, “Let’s not go there. Lose the racism and complete the transaction.”

Note that Debito did NOT raise his voice, nor did he accost anybody. MY reaction was one of shock, disappointment, and embarrassment to be a Canadian. I said to the teller, “I’m sorry, but we have laws against this sort of racial discrimination in Canada. You shouldn’t be saying that.”

The teller then apologized. “You are right, I should not have said that.”

And then we asked to speak with the manager. This was NOT about this issue, but a separate one regarding the original transaction. But the teller then proceeded to tell us that we didn’t NEED to speak to the manager. The transaction was complete.

I then requested, “I WANT to speak to the manager.” He again told us again that we didn’t need to, the transaction was complete.

It was at that time where the manager, whose office was within earshot of the teller’s booth, came to our assistance. I asked the manager about the original transaction issue, and he gave us an answer. But because I was so agitated by the terrible customer service, we THEN brought the other ID issue up with the manager. And I said to the manager, “This kind of comment is against Canadian law.” And the manager AGREED and apologized on behalf of the teller, himself, and the bank.

We then exited the bank, but when we got to the car, I said to Debito, “You know, that was weird. As a member of this bank for more than 35 years, I’d like to go back and get the name of the teller and the manager so I can write the bank about this.”

When we re-entered the bank, the manager greeted us. It was THEN that we were told that because the teller’s behavior was inappropriate under Canadian rules and laws, the manager had sent him home for the day. (Note that we did NOT request that the teller be sent home for the day. We had no idea about what would occur. If we hadn’t gone back, we wouldn’t even know that that had happened, and it wouldn’t be part of this discussion. We also still don’t know anything about pay deduction, official reprimand, etc. After all, we did not request anything like that.)

The manager then invited us to sit down in his office, where he took the time to relay his own story about his identity being policed as a First-Nations person, as Debito wrote. He also told us that he too had been to Japan and had to deal with a lot of ID policing as well.

In fact, the manager ENCOURAGED us to write a letter about this employee to bank headquarters. He gave us the teller’s card and his own.

Now I want to make clear what everyone seems to be getting wrong about Debito: At NO time did he have a temper tantrum, threaten or attack anyone, push anybody around, or even raise his voice. He had a very graceful, calm discussion at all times. This kind of myth that you have about Debito, going in and bullying people do to things, is TOTALLY unfounded. If you’ve never personally been with Debito in a situation like this, then you shouldn’t make comments or assumptions like these.

I left the situation feeling proud a) to be a Canadian, and b) that we have this type of system. Unlike what I’ve experienced many times in situations in Japan, I left this humiliating bank situation FEELING LIKE A HUMAN BEING.

I’ve grown up with various Visible Minorities in Canada — Asians, Africans, First Nations, etc. — where I was not in the majority. I have never experienced this kind of blatant policing of identity in Canada. Never in Canada – not even at the Canadian border – has anyone so blatantly questioned Debito’s passport or policed his identity like what I witnessed at this bank.

What’s even more appalling to me is not what happened at the bank, but the way you all have judged Debito, and seeing the teller, who broke the law, as the VICTIM. The law in Canada is set up to protect people from this situation, and it’s one of the reasons why Canada is an easier place to live. But why are many of you, particularly when you’re living in Japan as second-class residents, seeing the teller who started all this as the victim here?

This is not how our customer service industry behaves. It’s not the teller’s naivete. It’s his own personal stuff that he’s pushing on us. The teller personally took a risk in making that comment. If the roles were reversed, and I made a comment like that, the same punishment would befall me. It should.

Happy Canada Day!
ENDS

UPDATE JULY 14, 2015: I GET MY COMEUPPANCE IN A FASCINATING DEBATE, BLOGGED SEPARATELY HERE.

Looking for substantiation of change in editorial bent at Japan Today etc. after acquisition by right-wing Fuji Media Holdings

mytest

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Hi Blog.  On the road at the moment, got a quick question for you:

Following the recent acquisition of GPlus Media by right-wing media conglomerate Fuji Media Holdings, I’ve been hearing murmurs about changes in editorial policy over at Japan Today (and Gaijin Pot) of deletion of comments that are critical of the Japanese government etc.

Let’s try to go beyond murmur.  I have a reporter who would like some substantiation for an article.  Has anyone saved copies of their critical comments that were deleted?  Or if you comment there from now (keep your comments sane, please), could you keep an eye on it? (Screen captures would be nice.)  Please let Debito.org know.  Thanks.

Brief entry for today.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE JUNE 29, 2015:  Proof of Fuji Media Holdings’ editorial bent:

Fuji TV apologizes for subtitles inaccurately quoting South Koreans

BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI STAFF WRITER, JUN 29, 2015

Fuji TV apologized Monday for running subtitles during a show earlier this month that inaccurately described South Koreans interviewed on the street as saying they “hate” Japan.

The apology came after online criticism mounted over the weekend, with people saying the major broadcaster may have fabricated the subtitles to breed anti-Korea sentiment among the Japanese public.

When contacted by The Japan Times on Monday, Fuji TV denied such an allegation, explaining that the subtitles were simply a result of human error during the editing process and that there was absolutely no malice intended.

The show, “Akira Ikegami Kinkyu Special,” which translates as “Akira Ikegami Emergency (or Urgent) Special,” aired on June 5, a few weeks ahead of the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties between Japan and South Korea.

Moderated by popular freelance journalist Akira Ikegami, the program featured a segment about “why Koreans hate the Japanese so much.”

Among people interviewed on the streets of Seoul was a high school girl, who, according to the subtitles, said, “I hate Japan because it tormented Korea.”

However, she can be heard saying in Korean: “(South Korea) has a rich culture. I think that’s why many foreigners visit us.”

Another, a man in his 30s, was also misrepresented. According to the subtitles, he expressed “hatred” for this country, when in fact he was only criticizing what he called Japan’s lack of remorse for its wartime atrocities.

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/06/29/national/social-issues/fuji-tv-apologizes-subtitles-inaccurately-quoting-south-koreans/
ENDS

フジテレビ字幕ミス、自国を語る韓国女性を「日本嫌い」
スポーツ報知 6月30日(火)7時4分配信, courtesy of BM
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20150630-00000001-sph-soci

フジテレビは29日、5日に放送された特別番組「池上彰 緊急スペシャル!」で韓国人へのインタビューを放送した際、字幕と実際の映像が異なっていたと発表しおわびの文章を公式サイトに掲載した。番組では、韓国の女性が自国について語っている映像に合わせて「(日本のことが)嫌いですよ」などという字幕を付けて放送。同局は、編集作業のミスが原因だとしている。

韓国語を理解できる人であれば、一発で「何かおかしい」と気付く大きなミスが、番組内で起きていたことが明らかになった。

フリージャーナリストの池上彰さん(64)が、世間で話題となっているニュースについて、独自の視点から解説するのが人気の特別番組。2011年9月に第1回が放送され、その後も不定期に11回が制作されている。今回は、日本と韓国との問題を解説する「知ってるようで知らない韓国のナゾ」がテーマだった。

同局によると、韓国女性が日本について「嫌いですよ、だって韓国を苦しめたじゃないですか」と語ったとする字幕が流れた。だが、実際には「文化がたくさんある。だから、外国の人がたくさん訪問してくれているようだ」と、自国を好きな理由を話していた。

また、韓国の男性が「日本人にはいい人もいますが、国としては嫌いです」と語ったとする場面では、「過去の歴史を反省せず、そういう部分が私はちょっと」と話していたという。26日に視聴者からの指摘で判明。その後も、複数の問い合わせがきているという。

原因について、同局は「編集作業上のミス」と説明。2人ともインタビュー中に字幕の内容通りの発言をしていたが、編集の段階で別のことについて話している部分の映像を使用してしまったとしている。また、番組が完成した後に内容をチェックする際には、韓国語を理解できるスタッフが立ち会っていなかったため、ミスに気付かなかった。

同局は「視聴者の皆様、インタビューにご協力頂いた方、ならびに関係者の皆様におわび申し上げます」とコメント。池上さんにも事情の報告と謝罪をした。池上さんは「番組の制作には自分もかかわっているが、VTRに関してはスタッフを信頼して任せていた。視聴者に対して申し訳ない」と話していたという。

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

フジ、「日本嫌い」など字幕と映像が異なり謝罪
2015年6月29日13時41分 スポーツ報知
http://www.hochi.co.jp/entertainment/20150629-OHT1T50080.html

フジテレビは29日、5日放送の番組「池上彰 緊急スペシャル!」で、日本についての韓国人へのインタビューを放送した際、「嫌いですよ」などとする字幕と実際の映像が異なっていたとして、おわびの文書を公式サイトに掲載した。

フジテレビによると、韓国女性が日本について「嫌いですよ、だって韓国を苦しめたじゃないですか」と語ったとする日本語の字幕が流れたが、実際には韓国について「文化がたくさんある。だから、外国の人がたくさん訪問してくれているようだ」と話していた。

また韓国の男性が「日本人にはいい人もいますが、国として嫌いです」と語ったとする場面では、実際は「過去の歴史を反省せず、そういう部分が私はちょっと」と話していた。2人ともインタビューの別の部分では、字幕の通りに発言したという。

フジテレビは、編集作業上のミスとして「視聴者の皆様、インタビューにご協力いただいた方、ならびに関係者の皆様におわび申し上げます」とコメントした。
ENDS

Honolulu Weekly Feb 9 1994: “Prints of Darkness”: Ronald Fujiyoshi, Hawaiian fighter of GOJ fingerprinting of NJ, 20 years ago says prescient things about future Japan

mytest

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Hello Blog.  Sorry for the delay — latest book revisions taking up a lot of time.  I thought we’d go back to the archives today and look at a twenty-year-old article that appeared in Honolulu’s late, great alternative newspaper (which folded only recently), that has as much to say about the present situation of human rights for NJ residents of Japan as it did when it came out about a generation ago.  In retrospect, it’s amazing how little has changed. Have a read.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

PRINTS OF DARKNESS

When civil-rights activist/missionary Ronald Fujiyoshi refused to be fingerprinted in compliance with Japan’s Alien Registration Law in 1981, he launched a personal attack on the Japanese government which still hasn’t ended.  

February 9, 1994. Honolulu Weekly magazine, by David Flack

For Ronald Fujiyoshi, the Japanese government’s abusive fingerprinting requirement for foreign residents is only part of a vast matrix of institutionalized racial discrimination and totalitarian social control.

PHOTO: Fujiyoshi holds a press conference during his 25-day hunger strike.

Perhaps few people in Hawaii are watching Japan as closely as Ronald Fujiyoshi. His primary interest is the way the new government is officially dealing with racism. On this issue Fujiyoshi is fervently and outspokenly critical of Japan, and he speaks from experience. Living there for 15 years, working as a missionary in Osaka in the Korean-Japanese community, he engaged in an act of civil disobedience when he refused to be fingerprinted — as all foreign residents were then required by the government to do. Compelled to leave Japan in 1988, he is allowed to return only to attend court hearings for his trial, which is still in progress.

Last summer Japan embarked on what may be its most important transition period in recent history. Fed up with the “business as usual” tactics that have led to rampant corruption in Japan’s political circles for the last several years, on July 18 the country’s voters deprived the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of its majority in the Japanese Diet for the first time since World War II. The resulting coalition, a curious collection of opposition parties from both the left and right of the political spectrum, took the helm of the world’s second largest economy with little more than high hopes as its guide. Many experts predict the alliance’s demise before the end of 1994.

Fujiyoshi is keeping his fingers crossed that real change is in the air. After waging his own personal battle against the Japanese government for the greater part of the last two decades, the 53-year-old Hilo resident is hopeful that the recent change in government is a sign that the Japanese people have at last begun to fight back against what he contends is a sinister system which has been unjustly subjugating them for centuries.

Fujiyoshi’s personal beef is Japan’s latent racism, which he maintains is knowingly cultivated by the country’s ruling circles in order to foster an “us vs. them” mentality. Japan’s alien-registration laws are widely known to be among the most rigid and strictly enforced in the world. It has long been a complaint among non-Japanese immigrants in Japan that the laws are also part of a greater government scheme to prevent them from feeling completely at ease in their adopted homeland, withhold full citizenship rights and relegate them to positions of permanent underclass status in the overall economic tapestry of the nation.

Especially onerous to Fujiyoshi was the Japanese government’s longstanding policy of insisting that all foreign residents and criminal suspects in Japan submit fingerprints for identification purposes.

Being grouped with criminals and thus treated as undesirables created acute resentment in the Korean-Japanese community, over 700,000 strong and representing roughly four out of five of Japan’s foreign residents. Many of them have lived in Japan for several generations; their relatives were originally brought there forcibly during World War II as military conscripts or factory workers. They are still treated as outsiders, and their “alien” status frequently denies them jobs, housing and scholarships. Fujiyoshi contends that the fingerprint policy is both unconstitutional by Japan’s own admitted standards and an abhorrent violation of the United Nations International Covenant of Human Rights, to which Japan is a signatory.

Bowing to pressure which Fujiyoshi helped to apply, the Japanese Diet finally dropped the controversial fingerprinting clause for those non-Japanese who were bom and raised in Japan.

Despite being widely recognized as a front man for the grass-roots movement to have the law overturned, Fujiyoshi is hesitant to claim much credit personally for the Diet’s decision to repeal the statute. “You must remember that I was not the only person who refused to be fingerprinted,” he says. “Since 1980 nearly 15,000 people have done it.” Neither was he the first to disobey the law; several Japanese of Korean ancestry preceeded him. Most will agree, however, that among those who did protest, Fujiyoshi was certainly among the most energetic — and, as a result, emerged as a leader and spokesman for the movement.

Fujiyoshi has long been involved with civil rights. Bom in Los Angeles and raised on Kauai, he moved to the Big Island with his family when his father was transferred to Hilo by his chuch. As a young man in his 20s, Fujiyoshi left Hawaii in 1963 to attend the Chicago Theological Seminary, the same institution that Jesse Jackson would join a year later. The two became good friends; Jackson visited him in Japan in 1986. Fujiyoshi spent much of his seminary service in Chicago working in a black ghetto on the city’s west side. “Can you imagine me,” he says, “a local boy fresh off the Big Island, going from here to a Chicago ghetto? That was a real baptism.”

Fujiyoshi first journeyed to Asia in 1968 on a fellowship in Singapore with the World Council of Churches. He remained in Southeast Asia for five years, working as a lay missionary and slowly gaining notoriety for his activist, hands-on approach to organizing and helping groups of industrial workers in economically distressed communities. “The Church was saying all the right things on Sunday mornings,” he says, “but the world was not changing. I became more interested in learning the skills necessary to actually solve some of the problems.”

His reputation for problem solving in the real world grew. In 1973 the Korean Christian Church asked him to relocate to Japan to help improve the living conditions of the sizable Korean population there. He took up residence in Osaka’s Ikuno Ward, home of Japan’s largest Korean community, where he spent the next 15 years living and working, voluntarily subjecting himself to the same long hours and low wages of the people he had come to help. Eventually he was able to earn their trust.

Fujiyoshi’s first open clash with the Japanese government came in 1981. Claiming that it was a violation of his basic human rights, he refused to comply with the fingerprinting requirement of Japan’s Alien Registration Law. He was indicted in 1982 and embarked on a civil-rights campaign within Japan’s court system which soon became a twisted game of cat-and-mouse. Four years after his initial indictment, Fujiyoshi was found guilty by the Kobe District Court but fined a mere $70. He faced another token fine after his appeal was rejected at the Osaka High Court. “It was just a slap on the wrist,” Fujiyoshi says of the fines, which were deliberately set at levels low enough for him to be able to afford. “They wanted to make sure that the decision was ‘guilty’ but also give the impression that the Japanese government is very benevolent.”

This face-saving charade was finally abandoned when the Japanese government refused to grant Fujiyoshi a permit that would have allowed him to re-enter Japan after returning to the U.S. to visit his ailing father-in-law. He responded to this action by embarking on a 25-day hunger strike aimed at publicly embarrassing the intransigent Japanese officials. He has since been given a special visa which allows him to return to Japan — but only to attend his own court hearings. Though he has been back in Hawaii since 1988, it is clear that his thoughts still lie in Japan. “I don’t feel like I ever left,” he says. “As long as my case is still being tried by the Japanese courts, I cannot separate myself from Japan.” Fujiyoshi has appealed his case to the Japanese Supreme Court, where it currently sits in quiet and secret deliberation. The process can take years, and a decision can come unannounced at any time. Feeling certain that his appeal will eventually be rejected by Japan’s highest court, he is already planning his next move. “If I lose this appeal,” he says, “then I will conclude that the Japanese judicial system cannot give me the justice I deserve. It is then my right to appeal the decision to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.” This might prove to be Fujiyoshi’s most powerful weapon. At a time when Japan is struggling with itself and the rest of the globe to find its appropriate niche in the world community, Fujiyoshi’s charges of racism and his refusal to be silenced could be a severe embarrassment to the Japanese government.

Those in power in Japan attempted to render the entire issue moot after the Showa emperor Hirohito’s death. In his honor an Imperial pardon was promulgated which granted amnesty to most of the defendants of fingerprinting cases still in litigation. It was purely a political move, Fujiyoshi asserts, a feeble effort to diffuse the issue before it could gain a measurable amount of publicity outside the country. With Fujiyoshi’s assistance and encouragement, other fingerprint refusers declined the offer and instead called a press conference to denounce the pardon. “The court’s acquittal of the refusers presumes that they are guilty and should be judged,” Fujiyoshi points out, “when it is the government and the emperor’s system that need to be examined.”

Fujiyoshi’s disdain for Japan’s governing institutions extends beyond the fingerprinting issue. The system in place in today’s Japan, he asserts, is the direct descendant of the nationalistic bodies that evolved following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when the country emerged from a prolonged period of political chaos with a reinvigorated sense of national identity and a perceived “divine right” to culturally convert other Asians and make them loyal citizens of Japan.

Fujiyoshi characterizes Japan’s approach to its minority peoples as one of “assimilation and control.” He has argued in court that the Alien Registration Law is part of a larger Japanese government policy of controlling other Asian and Pacific peoples by forcibly “Japanizing” them: compelling them both directly and indirectly to conceal their ethnicity. This system of assimilation and control results directly in the exploitation of Asians by relegating them to the lowest echelon of the country’s economic caste system, he contends. He sees it as a continuation of repressive prewar policies which forced colonial subjects to adopt Japanese names, speak Japanese exclusively in public, wear Japanese clothing and worship only at Shinto shrines.

Fujiyoshi lambasts the myth painstakingly cultivated by the government that the Japanese are descendants of a pure race. “The people in authority perpetuate the myth that Japan is a homogeneous society,” he claims. “It provides strong socialcohesiveness, and people can then be more easily controlled. And by keeping the people controlled, the government can also keep control of the economy.”

Therein lies the import of Fujiyoshi’s thesis, that the core issue is not merely a dispute between the central government and its peripheral minorities; the policy affects all of Japan’s citizens in equally disastrous ways. The Japanese nation can be compared to a crowded boat, the theory goes, and if too many more are allowed on board, the boat will capsize and everyone will drown. It stands to reason that the few who are permitted on board will be those whom the Japanese government deems to be of little threat to its fostered image of Japan as a single-race country. “Discrimination against the Korean people is not just a holdover of some misunderstandings of history, and it’s not a part of a modem ideology to control non-Japanese people,” Fujiyoshi warns. “It is an attempt to control the Japanese people themselves.”

For Fujiyoshi, state-sanctioned racism is bad enough, but even more repugnant is the denial of its existence by most Japanese. He maintains that the power structure, for its own purposes, is using its tremendous control over the media (and consequent influence on public opinion) to perpetuate the traditional notion that there are only three major races in the world. “According to this view, all there are are Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Negroid stocks,” says Fujiyoshi, recounting the argument he has heard more times than he cares to remember. This belief is worse than oversimplistic: It makes it possible for the Japanese government to exclude from the category of racial discrimination its dealings with other Asian and Pacific peoples living in the country. Japan can safely perceive itself as a country of only one race and sincerely believe that the racial conflicts plaguing the rest of the world can’t happen there.

According to Fujiyoshi, the primary flaw in this reasoning is that it completely disregards ethnicity: vast differences in culture, language and religion among peoples of the alleged three major racial stocks. And in the process it allows Japan to impose a bureaucratic system for other Asians living within its borders which, practically anywhere else in the world, would be denounced as institutionalized racial discrimination.

The Japanese government is a manipulative entity, Fujiyoshi asserts, which must be forced to confront the falsehoods it has been knowingly (and unknowingly) propagating. Sadly, the problem did not go away with the change in the country’s fingerprint laws. Now that Japan’s resident Koreans have had their burden partially lifted, the recent trend in the country has been to target South Asian peoples whose appearance is more easily discernible from their Japanese hosts. With the current economic slowdown proving to be stubbornly resilient, Fujiyoshi fears that these newer immigrants will become the scapegoats of the recession. “The assimilation and control policy attempts to stamp out the identity of long-term Asians and replace it with Japanese identity,” he says. “Until the Japanese government’s policy is ended, no real solution is in sight. Until their internal economic colony is eliminated, the other Asian and Pacific people in Japan will continue to be exploited because they are considered inferior. Until the national state ideology is exposed for what it is, the Japanese people will continue to be indoctrinated with a hidden racism toward other Asian and Pacific peoples.”

The coalition that assumed control of Japan a few months ago has the potential to effect profound changes rather than mere cosmetic modifications to enhance the government’s image. Fujiyoshi fears that even if his motives are genuine, the newly elected prime minister, Morihiro Hosokawa, may not be powerful enough to make a real difference. But his early actions show some promise. In an attempt to distance himself from past LDP bungles, Hosokawa has already delivered several sincere apologies for Japan’s controversial actions in World War II. Specifically mentioned were the “comfort women” of Asia who where forcibly conscripted and supplied to Japanese soldiers on the front lines during World War II. “Up until now the Japanese government wouldn’t admit its complicity,” Fujiyoshi says. “With the comfort women, once they admit what they are capable of, an entire can of worms is opened. Any official statement that relates to their attitude toward foreigners is significant. After that their treatment of all foreigners can then be called into question.” Now that the fingerprinting requirement has been abolished for permanent alien residents of Japan, does Fujiyoshi see a fundamental shift in the Japanese government’s way? “If the government was halfway repentant,” he says, “they would have done away with fingerprinting entirely.

If they were truly repentant, they would do away with the entire policy of assimilation.” Fujiyoshi’s brightest hope is the Japanese people. Now that Japan has emerged as one of the world’s most affluent nations, the Japanese are traveling abroad in record numbers. Young people are venturing overseas and experiencing other cultures. Many become exchange students. Fujiyoshi predicts severe conflict in the years ahead as the Japanese people become more accepting of other cultures on the one hand, and the government continues to espouse its hard-line stance on the other. “To be honest, I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out,” Fujiyoshi admits, “but if this new coalition can hold together, it will be very significant.” The leadership of the country, after all, will still be in control of education and the media. “Japanese history books refer to Korea as a dagger pointed at the heart of Japan. Just think how different it would be if Korea was instead viewed as a bridge connecting Japan to the wealth and riches of other Asian cultures.”

Now that he has all but exhausted his options in Japan’s legal system, Fujiyoshi’s passions are turning toward the recently formed United States-Japan Committee for Racial Justice, which assigned to itself as one of its first missions the daunting task of formulating a set of guidelines to help prevent potential future racist confrontations between the two countries from erupting into uncontrollable conflagrations of hate.

Despite these recent changes, Fujiyoshi still remains cautiously pessimistic about long-term prospects for United States-Japan relations. Racism is alive and well in both countries, he declares, evidenced by the lack of sensitivities on both sides of the Pacific during the 50th-anniversary observations of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. America exploited the anniversary as an opportunity to boost patriotism at a time when the U.S. government and economy had both come down with symptoms of terminal gridlock. Japan used the occasion to further alienate itself from America and the rest of Asia by not only refusing to apologize for the attack but even suggesting that Japan may not have been entirely responsible for the war in the Pacific. Fujiyoshi sees the possibility of an alarming increase of similar misunderstandings in the future as the once-solid friendship between the United States and Japan is further taxed by the economic slowdowns currently sapping both countries. “We need to adjust to the changes that are occurring,” he says, “and to join with others in dealing with some of the fundamental contradictions that remain in our societies. Only when people feel proud of what they are can they work well with others.”

ENDS

Postscript:  Ronald Fujiyoshi now lives on Big Island and continues his human rights work there.

Film record of Debito in action negotiating with a “Japanese Only” establishment in Shinjuku: excerpt from documentary “Sour Strawberries” (2009)

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 a follow-up to the previous blog entry, where I cited somebody who (ironically) accused me of dealing with people by “launch[ing] immediately into angry, confrontational accusations“, here’s an actual movie record of me in action.

This is part of a documentary by Daniel Kremers and Tilman Koenig named “Sour Strawberries: Japan’s Hidden Guest Workers” (2009), talking about how Japan’s NJ, as a labor force and a resident population, are being treated in Japanese society. It is an excellent film that touches upon many important subjects, and it can be previewed and purchased here.

I appear for about five minutes within negotiating with a “Japanese Only” establishment, one of the dozens upon dozens I have talked with over the years, to confirm the facts of each case (recorded for posterity at the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments) and investigate the firmness of the exclusionary policy. See it for yourself:

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

AOL News: J-League soccer ref speaks English to, then denigrates Japanese-German player, denies anything discriminatory. But then official protests from club!

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Read this article and then I’ll comment:

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

Japan Soccer League 2: Did referee Takayama use discriminatory language towards Avispa Fukuoka’s Sakai Noriyoshi? Outrage on the Internet.
AOL News, June 10, 2015, courtesy of MMT, article below, translation by Debito

In the June 6 J2 match between teams Avispa Fukuoka and Tokushima Vortis, it has come to light in a club statement that Referee Takayama Hiroyoshi used discriminatory language against Fukuoka player Sakai Noriyoshi.

Sakai Noriyoshi is the younger brother of Japan soccer representative Sakai Goutoku, who is half-Japanese, half-German. In the 35th minute of the second half during a foul, Referee Takayama asked in English “Are you OK?”, to which Sakai answered in Japanese, “Daijoubu desu”. Takayama then apparently said, “What the… you [using omae, a masculine, informal, often disparaging or belligerent way to say “you”], you can speak Japanese after all.” To which the bystanding players protested.

At that time Referee Takayama promised that he would apologize after the game, but no apologies were forthcoming. The club protested to the commissioner, but during investigations Takayama denied that there was any discriminatory statement made.

Although some on the Internet held the opinion that “This was a simple misunderstanding”, many more were critical of Takayama, saying “Even if a mistake had been made, the problem is this attitude afterwards of denying anything discriminatory was said at all”, “Above all else, this very discourse of ‘omigod you can speak Japanese’ is tantamount to an insult, isn’t it?”, “After 10 years of blowing whistles for the J-League, it’s incredible that [Takayama] wouldn’t know who Sakai is”.

Working as a J-League referee from 2002, Takayama is a veteran international ref. After this incident the J-League fans’ comments turned to criticisms of Takayama’s past mistaken calls. The club itself sees this incident as something serious, and Avispa Fukuoka plans to issue a statement on this to the J-League.
ENDS

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

COMMENT:  Did you just see what I saw?

1) A ref basically dealt with a player in a racialized manner (assuming that a player who to him looked “foreign” had to be spoken to in a foreign language; English of course — what else do “foreigners” speak?).

2) The ref made a sarcastic statement of surprise about someone looking foreign speaking Japanese (a common microaggression).

3) Bystanding players made an issue of it.  (Amazing in itself, given how people who suffer from these types of microaggressions are usually told to grin and bear them.)

4) The ref broke his promise to apologize, in fact denied the fundamental fact of the case.

and… this is the most important bit:

5) The club stood by their player and made an issue of it too.  They’re not just sweeping this under the carpet and telling Sakai that he has to grow a pair and be less sensitive.  They are telling Takayama (and Sakai, and the authorities, and the public) that this is irresponsible and unprofessional behavior.

One more pleasant surprise was how the Internet reacted (or was reported to have reacted — often the reporters themselves buy into the microaggression and write a biased article misrepresenting the issue).  They saw the microaggression for what it is — a means to police someone’s identity into a disempowered place.  It also helped that the Takayama misjudged how his reflex to deny everything would only make the problem worse.  Great call.

As far as Debito.org sees things, this is definite progress, and hopefully the arc being traced since the J-League punished the “Japanese Only” J-League exclusionism in March 2014.  Bravo to the players, the reporter, and the club for doing something about this. As FIFA themselves say, racism has no place in sports, and cracking down here even on a seemingly minor (but significant in terms of zero tolerance) incident makes for a rare positive precedent in Japan’s egregiously racialized sports leagues (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

Let’s see if Takayama actually grows a pair of his own and apologizes.  Perhaps if this issue leaks into the foreign-language media (this guy is an international ref, after all), he might.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Original Japanese:

J2アビスパ福岡・酒井宣福に高山主審が差別発言?ネット上でも物議を醸す
AOLニュース 2015年6月10日 12時00分 (2015年6月11日 10時03分 更新)
http://www.excite.co.jp/News/entertainment_g/20150610/Aol_celebrity_j2fukuoka.html

6月6日に行われたJ2第17節、アビスパ福岡対徳島ヴォルティス戦で、高山啓義主審が、福岡の酒井宣福に差別発言を行いクラブ側が意見書を提出する方針であることが明らかとなった。

酒井宣福は、日本代表・酒井高徳の弟で日本人とドイツ人のハーフだが、試合後半35分のファールの際に主審が「Are You OK?」英語で質問したところ日本語で「大丈夫です」と返した酒井に「なんだ、お前、日本語を話せるんだ」と応じ、居合わせた選手から抗議を受けていたという。

その場は高山審判から「後で謝罪する」と約束したものの、試合後も謝罪の言葉がなかったことから、クラブ側がコミッショナーに抗議、事情聴取で発言自体を主審が否定しているという。

ネット上でも「単純に勘違いしたんだろ」との意見はあるものの「間違ったにしても、その後の発言自体を否定する態度に問題がある」「そもそも日本語が話せるんだという物言い事態が侮辱にあたるのでは?」「10年もJリーグの笛を吹いていて酒井のことを知らない自体がおかしい」など高山審判への批判の声は多い。

高山主審は2002年からJリーグで主審を務めるベテラン審判で国際主審、この事件発覚後、Jリーグのファンから過去の誤審問題なども例に挙げられ批判を受けているが、クラブ側も今回の事件を重く見てアビスパ福岡はJリーグに意見書を提出する方針を固めたという。

ENDS

=========================
Similar Sports Nippon article:

日独ハーフのMF酒井に主審が差別的発言 J2福岡が意見書提出へ
スポニチ 2015年6月10日 06:30
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/soccer/news/2015/06/10/kiji/K20150610010513970.html

6日に開催されたJ2リーグの福岡―徳島戦(レベスタ)で高山啓義主審(41)が選手に対して差別的な発言をした疑惑が浮上した。

問題のシーンは後半35分、接触プレーで倒れ込んだ福岡のMF酒井宣福(のりよし=22)に「Are you OK?」と英語で質問。「大丈夫です」と日本語で返されると「なんだ、お前、日本語を話せるんだ」と嘲笑しながら応じたという。やり取りを見ていたチームメートから「審判それはないでしょ」と突っ込まれると「後で謝る」と約束したが、謝罪はなかった。

酒井から報告を受けたクラブ側は試合後にマッチコミッショナーに抗議。事情聴取を受けた高山主審が「そんなことは言ってない」と説明したため、近日中にJリーグに意見書を提出する方針を固めた。

酒井は日本人とドイツ人のハーフでシュツットガルトの日本代表DF酒井高徳の弟。クラブ関係者は「外国人風の見た目ではあるが、Jリーグで何度も笛を吹いている審判なら宣福のことは知ってるはず。差別的な発言とも取れる」と問題視した。高山主審は02年からJ1リーグで主審を務めており、国際主審でもある。
ENDS

J Times Kingston on Abe’s intimidation of media: You know it’s getting bad when even apologist bigot Gregory Clark complains about Rightists targeting him

mytest

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Hi Blog. Now here’s a wonderful turn of events that I can’t help feeling a bit karmic about.

Gregory Clark, columnist for the Japan Times and xenophobic perpetual denier of racism in Japan (he’s even had a JT column entitled “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people“!), has gone beyond petty whines about, say, how he couldn’t enforce his White Privilege and make Roppongi police arrest some “African touts” because they were “hecklers”.  Now he’s complaining about something far more serious — about being targeted by Japan’s right wing. Check out this excerpt from Jeff Kingston’s most recent commentary in the Japan Times:

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

From “Are forces of darkness gathering in Japan”, by Jeff Kingston, Japan Times, May 16, 2015

JT: “[Government officials] have become more numerous, blatant and unapologetic,” [US-based journalist Ayako Doi] says, adding that the government is targeting both Japanese and non-Japanese critics alike.

Japan Times columnist Gregory Clark says the atmosphere of intimidation has become exceptionally “ugly,” attributing it to a “right-wing rebound and revenge.”

“Something strange is going on,” he says, citing recent attacks on progressive media. “Particularly given that Tokyo keeps talking about its value identification with the West.” […]

Clark himself was publicly defamed for his alleged anti-Japanese views because he raised some questions about government and media representations concerning the North Korean abductions of Japanese nationals. Following that, he says his university employer received a cascade of threatening letters demanding he be sacked.

“Requests to write articles for the magazines and newspapers I had long known dried up,” Clark says. “Invitations to give talks on Japan’s lively lecture circuit died overnight. One of Japan’s largest trading companies abruptly canceled my already-announced appointment as outside board director with the vague excuse of wanting to avoid controversy.”

Lamentably, he added, “You cannot expect anyone to come to your aid once the nationalistic right-wing mood creators, now on the rise, decide to attack you. Freedom of speech and opinion is being whittled away relentlessly.”

/////////////////////////////////////////////
Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/05/16/commentary/forces-darkness-gathering-japan/

COMMENT: That’s how bad it’s getting for NJ in Japan — even the worm has turned. But it’s pretty rich for Clark to say this given the past fabrications and intimidations, not to mention decades of profiteering from pandering to those forces that have now turned against him. As for claims of “defamation”, how about the long-standing vituperative (okay, I’ll use his favorite word: “ugly”) criticism doled out towards anyone who questioned the system and its unfairness to anyone else in a similar position as a long-term resident (and in my case, a citizen) of Japan?

I’m not sure you have a leg to stand on here, Greg.  After all, isn’t discriminating against you a right for Japanese people?

I’ll let Debito.org Reader JDG conclude this blog entry:

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

JDG:  Please spare a moment’s thought for the plight of Gregory Clark. Even though this has happened to him (and seriously, see how low an opinion of him is held in the article ‘Our Other Man in Japan’), I have to say that such intimidation and discrimination, EVEN against Gregory Clark, is deplorable (in fact, when you or I are discriminated, we get the whole apologist slapdown. When it happens to Clark, suddenly it’s ‘The Forces of Darkness’! I mean what is this? Lord of the Rings?). I just wish that he’d used all his years of access to policy makers to work to improve the lot of NJ in Japan, rather than for his own personal gain, and IMHO, vain pride and sense of self-entitlement.

Anyhow, starting with that time he got annoyed with the police because they didn’t care who he was, and therefore didn’t arrest some black guys for him, he seems to have just gone downhill. What’s next? Black vans outside his house, and bullets from the uyoku in the post?

Since I read in previous articles about Gregory that he was loaded and flush with cash from property deals and public speaking, I won’t be asking Debito.org readers to donate any money to get Gregory off the street, nor will I be asking any of you to ‘adopt an Australian’ for $5 a month (or anything like that).

Dear Greg,
If you’re reading this, you always have a home here with us (maybe. I dunno, after all, it’s Dr. Debito’s page, and you’ve been kind of critical of him in the past. Just sayin’.). What I mean is, now that you’ve seen Japan ‘through the looking glass’ as it were, had your bubble burst, and have experienced the kind of discrimination that you always said didn’t exist for NJ in Japan, anytime you want to pitch in and lend a weighty hand in this struggle for human rights, we (well, I guess ‘I’, after all, I can’t speak for the others) would welcome you, and your past sins would be forgiven, as it were (again, that’s an ‘I’ statement).

Yours sincerely, JDG (the kind of NJ you wouldn’t have given the time of day to).

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

ENDS

Online media outlet Japan Today acquired by right-wing Fuji Media Holdings, meaning Japan Times is last E-media news organization independent of J-media conglomerates

mytest

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Hello Blog.  Something rather important happened within Japan’s English-language media landscape last month, and it’s only now starting (after some prodding) to come to light:  Another NJ media voice has been absorbed by Japanese conglomerates:  Japan Today, an online media outlet founded in 2001 by NJ (and — full disclosure — for whom I worked for two years as one of their founding columnists until they stopped paying me properly).

This matters.  Back in the 1990s we had a number of other outlets employing NJ reporters and offering a degree of news that served and spoke to the NJ communities in Japan (those that read English, anyway).  Since then almost all of them have withered or winked out.  Left-leaning Mainichi Shimbun succumbed to economic pressures and made its English-language daily into an online-only outlet that is a mere shadow publication (moreover succumbed to the pressure of online trolls by crucifying their reporters who dared translate scandalous Japanese tabloid media for their popular WaiWai column).  The Centrist-Right Asahi Evening News, to bust their unionizing NJ employees, fired all of their reporters and now merely offers a translation service for what they write in Japanese (their presses closed down completely in 2010).  Rightist Yomiuri Shinbun whitewashed itself by recently changing its name of its English-language publication from Daily Yomiuri to the anodyne and root-free The Japan News, and since it takes any criticism of Japan by a NJ as a personal affront, it basically marginalized its English-langauge staff into writing book reviews and fluff pieces before Asahi-ing them into proofreaders also.  The last major national news outlet, the Sankei Shinbun, never bothered projecting their farther-right views into English.  Until now, when it bought up Japan Today.

That just leaves the Japan Times as a serious news outlet outside of Japanese conglomerate control.  I am proud to be amongst their ranks as a columnist pushing for media independence from a current political milieu under PM Abe increasingly intolerant of criticism.  But even they have seen their Community Pages drop from four days per week to two.  So support your Japan Times however and whenever you can, everyone.  They’re all that are left, and if they get absorbed, it’s pretty clear that they’ll just become a mouthpiece for the Japanese corporate narrative all over again.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

The Japan Times, NATIONAL
Japan Today says it will retain foreign perspective despite acquisition by conglomerate Fuji Media
BY TOMOKO OTAKE, STAFF WRITER, MAY 10, 2015

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/10/national/japan-today-says-it-will-retain-foreign-perspective-despite-acquisition-by-conglomerate-fuji-media/

Japan Today, a popular news website bought by a Fuji Media Holdings group company last month, will stick to its motto of presenting news “through the perspectives of foreigners” despite the change in ownership, the media conglomerate says.

Fuji TV-Lab, a subsidiary of Fuji Media Holdings, Inc., announced April 7 that it had acquired GPlus Media Co., which runs several English-language websites, including Japan Today and classifieds ads site GaijinPot.

GPM, founded in 2001 by two expat entrepreneurs, is now headed by Tadashi Tokizawa, president and CEO of Fuji TV-Lab, a website production company under the Fuji Media group. GPM’s founders will stay on as directors, an FMH spokeswoman said in an email to The Japan Times.

“GPM will enhance its reporting ability and its entertainment information by joining the FMH,” the spokeswoman said. “The firm also will seek tie-ups with other companies under the FMH media conglomerate. . . . The (GPM) founders Peter Wilson and Erik Gain will continue to provide comprehensive advice from the perspectives of foreign entrepreneurs.”

In the month since the acquisition by the Fuji group, which has the Fuji Television Network under its wing and the conservative daily Sankei Shimbun as an affiliate, no drastic change has been observed on the Japan Today website, which provides a wide variety of news on Japan in English mostly via foreign wire services and in-house articles citing vernacular media.

Since late March, articles citing Fuji TV and Sankei — mostly about crime and other social news — seem to have become more conspicuous, though the site still uses other news sources.

The Sankei Shimbun is known for its often hawkish take on politics. In February, it drew fire when it ran an Op-Ed piece by conservative writer Ayako Sono, who called for immigrants of different ethnic groups to live in separate places — a statement widely taken as endorsing racial segregation.

Fuji TV, meanwhile, has been somewhat neutral in its editorial stance, with its strengths lying in entertainment and cultural content.

ENDS

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

OFFICIAL CORPORATE STATEMENT

GPlus Media acquired by Fuji Media Holdings group company
April 7, 2015
http://blog.gplusmedia.com/en/gplus-media-acquired-by-fuji-media-holdings-group-company/

Fuji TV-Lab, LLC (President & CEO: Tadashi Tokizawa, Fuji TV-Lab), a subsidiary of Fuji Media Holdings, Inc. (President & COO: Hideaki Ota, FMH), has announced the acquisition of GPlus Media Co., Ltd. (GPM).

[Prestige English media in Japan]
GPM, a pioneer media company targeting the international community in Japan and abroad, operates several leading English websites such as Japan Today, which covers breaking news from Japan, and GaijinPot, which offers job and lifestyle information for foreigners in Japan and global readers who are interested in Japan.

[Matching needs]
The Japanese government has set an annual target of 20 million foreign visitors to Japan in 2020 for the Tokyo Olympic/Paralympics Games and GPM expects this will increase the demand for media targeting foreign residents and visitors to Japan at an accelerated pace.

[Future Strategies]
In the context of this trend, GPM joins the FMH group to strengthen its ability to connect foreign residents and visitors to Japanese companies and people.

Going forward, GPM will make the best use of the FMH group’s prestige and marketing know-how and resources in order to enhance existing GPM businesses as well as Fuji TV-Lab’s web-based business and the FMH group’s human resources, real estate and advertising businesses, and to develop new business fields such as health, education, food and entertainment.

In addition, GPM will focus on a diversification of its business through a solution service including marketing support and production of contents for Japanese companies which are engaged in the ever-growing inbound business, holding events for foreigners and the possibility of collaboration with the MICE / IR business.

[Management]
GPM co-founders, Peter Wilson and Erik Gain, will continue being engaged in the new management team, and strive to help GPM enhance the FMH group’s corporate value.

[About GPM]
Company Name:  GPlus Media Co., Ltd.
Address:  Minotomi Bld. 3F, Shiba Koen 3-1-1, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Nature of Business:  Operation of branded websites for the foreign community in Japan.
Founded:  2001
URL:  http://gplusmedia.com

[About Fuji TV-Lab]
Company Name:  Fuji TV-Lab, LLC
Address:  2-4-8, Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Nature of Business:  Operation of web-based service, production of contents, etc.
Founded:  2006
URL:  http://www.fujilab.jp

[Press Contact]
GPlus Media Co., Ltd.:Yagishita / Iwama
TEL:03–5403–7781 FAX:03–5403–2775

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

日本語

株式会社フジ・メディア・ホールディングス傘下への 移行のお知らせ
2015年4月07日
http://blog.gplusmedia.com/ja/gplus-media-acquired-by-fuji-media-holdings-group-company-ja/

株式会社ジープラス・メディア(本社:東京都港区、創業者:ピーター・ウィルソン及びエリック・ゲイン、以下「GPM社」)は、株式会社フジ・メディア・ホールディングス(本社:東京都港区、代表取締役社長:太田英昭、以下「FMH」)の傘下にあるフジテレビラボLLC合同会社(本社:東京都港区、代表:時澤正、以下「フジテレビラボ」)の子会社となりましたので、お知らせいたします。

【外国人に高い認知度を誇るウェブサイト】
GPM社は、英字ニュースサイト「Japan Today」や、求人情報を中心とした生活情報全般を提供する「GaijinPot」など外国人にとって重要なサービスを2001年から提供し続けており、日本で生活する外国人からの圧倒的な支持と高い認知度を誇っております。

【合致したニーズ】
2020年東京オリンピック・パラリンピックに向けて、政府は年間の訪日外国人旅行者数を2,000万人とする目標を掲げており、日本における外国人向けメディアの需要は加速度的に高まると想定される中、日本最大のメディアグループであるFMHグループ傘下となることで、お互いの強みを活かした相乗効果で、より多くの日本人と外国人とのつながりを広め様々な事業機会を創出できる好機と捉えております。

【今後の展開】
GPM社は、フジテレビラボのインターネット事業やFMHグループが既に行っている人材事業、不動産事業、広告事業との連携を図ることで、日本在住の外国人に向けた人材ビジネスをさらに充実させるとともに、医療、教育、グルメ、エンターテインメントなど新分野への事業展開を目指します。また、ますます増加が見込まれるインバウンド事業に取り組む日本企業へのマーケティング支援、コンテンツ制作などのソリューション事業、FMHグループの知見を活かした外国人向け大型イベントの開催やMICE/IR事業と連携の可能性も探るなど、事業の強化・多様化に注力してまいります。

【経営方針】
創業者であるピーター・ウィルソン及びエリック・ゲインは、今後も引き続き経営陣の一員としてGPM社の経営に関与し、今まで以上に日本の国際化に邁進し、さらなる事業の発展に一丸となって取り組んでいきます。

【GPM社の概要】
企業名 株式会社ジープラス・メディア
所在地 東京都港区芝公園3–1–1 美濃富ビル3階
事業内容 英字ニュースや外国人向け生活情報などを提供するウェブサイトの運営
設立年 2001年
URL http://gplusmedia.com

[フジテレビラボの概要]
企業名 フジテレビラボLLC合同会社
所在地 東京都港区台場2–4–8
事業内容 WEBサービスの運営、コンテンツの制作、システムの開発など
設立年 2006年
URL http://www.fujilab.jp

≪この件に関する報道関係の方々からのお問い合わせ先≫
株式会社ジープラス・メディア 広報室 担当:柳下 岩間
TEL:03–5403–7781 FAX:03–5403–2775

ENDS

Tokyo sushi shop Mizutani, with 2 Michelin stars, refuses NJ customers; awaiting Michelin Guides’ response

mytest

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Hi Blog. Thanks to everyone who submitted these articles. Here’s yet another place in Japan that refuses NJ customers entry, and once again giving a reason against the group based upon the alleged actions of a select few (Japanese never renege on their reservations, after all, right?). And of course bring in the boilerplate language barrier (which was not an issue in these refusals in the first place).  Anyway, what makes the Sushi Mizutani case particularly noticeable is that Michelin has recommended this place, and so far Michelin have not commented on whether these kinds of exclusionary policies are grounds for removing that recommendation. But given the relativism and exceptionality that pervades the world’s treatment of Japan (giving it a free pass for some pretty egregious examples of racism), I would be rather surprised if Michelin took their stars away. They have been advised of this situation, so let’s wait and see. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Michelin restaurant in Ginza refuses reservations by foreigners
The Tokyo Reporter, By Kenji Nakano on April 26, 2015, courtesy of lots of people
Chinese journalist Mo Bangfu finds the policy of Sushi Mizutani to be ‘discriminatory’
http://www.tokyoreporter.com/2015/04/26/michelin-restaurant-in-ginza-refuses-reservations-by-foreigners/

On April 8, the secretary for Chinese journalist Mo Bangfu telephoned Sushi Mizutani, a 10-seat restaurant located in Tokyo’s ritzy Ginza district, to make a reservation for four people.

The reservation was on behalf of Bangfu, who was hosting three guests from the Communist nation. The secretary, a Japanese female, was told that seats were available on the requested day.

However, once the course of conversation revealed that the party would in fact consist of foreigners she was informed that the restaurant has a policy of refusing reservations from non-Japanese.

Mo, a 30-year resident of Japan, then telephoned the restaurant himself and received the same information. “It was disappointing,” Mo told evening tabloid Nikkan Gendai (April 26).

With Sushi Mizutani having received a two-star ranking in the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2015, the paper finds the policy disturbing as Japan is continuing a push to attract more visitors from overseas.

In a phone conversation with the head of the restaurant, whose typical meals runs around 20,000 yen, Nikkan Gendai learns that issue involves problems that occurred in the past.

“In order to preserve the atmosphere of the restaurant, we try to maintain that the total number of guests are split between Japanese and foreigners,” says the representative. “Since we’ve had foreigners make reservations and not show up and other problems, we only take reservations through a hotel concierge or (through a service provided by) a credit card company.”

Mo’s status as a permanent resident is irrelevant, according to Sushi Mizutani.

“Whether one is a tourist or not cannot be determined over the phone,” the representative says. “So this is an across-the-board policy.”

The appeal of Japanese cuisine has been one factor in the recent rise in travelers from overseas coming to Japan. Earlier this month, the Japan National Tourism Organization said that the 1,526,000 tourist arrivals for March set a record.

That record will likely fall again soon. For the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the government expects 25 million foreigners to arrive in Japan. By comparison, last year the figure stood at 13 million.

Perhaps ironically, Mo works as a tourism adviser for Yamanashi and Kagawa prefectures. He finds the behavior of Sushi Mizutani baffling, though he does have some sympathies regarding problems that may have taken place in the past.

“However, I, a permanent resident, find the conscious separation of foreigners and Japanese to be discriminatory,” he says.

The matter is not just a problem just for Sushi Mizutani, the journalist continues.

“For the betterment of the entire image of Japan for visitors, conscious change may be necessary,” he says. (K.N.)

Source: “Sabetsu? Yoyaku kyohi sa reta gaikoku hito ga ikidoru mishuran sushi-ten no taio,” Nikkan Gendai (April 26)

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

Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules
Japan Today NATIONAL APR. 28, 2015 – 03:50PM JST ( 133 ), Courtesy of lots of people
http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/michelin-star-sushi-restaurant-in-tokyo-defends-foreigner-rules
TOKYO —A top notch Michelin-starred sushi restaurant in Tokyo on Monday defended its special reservation rules for foreigners after a report in Japan it had refused to accept a booking from a Chinese customer.

Sushi Mizutani, which has two of the coveted Michelin stars, told AFP it has an “across-the-board policy” of not accepting bookings by non-Japanese customers—unless they are made through a hotel concierge or a credit card company.

“Non-Japanese customers may not show up for their reservations,” a member of the staff at the restaurant said, adding employees do not have the foreign language proficiency to explain requirements to patrons.

“We prepare fish for the number of expected customers and have to turn down other requests for booking sometimes. We simply cannot afford it if people don’t show up.

“We don’t think it is anything discriminatory,” he said.

The confirmation came after a report that the restaurant, located in Tokyo’s glitzy Ginza district, had refused to take a reservation for Chinese journalist Mo Bangfu.

Mo, a resident of Japan for 30 years who is fluent in Japanese, intended to host three guests at the high-end restaurant, where prices start at 20,000 yen per person, the Nikkan Gendai tabloid reported.

The magazine said that as soon as his secretary—a Japanese woman—told the restaurant Mo’s name and contact number, the person taking the booking suddenly changed his attitude and said “some arrangements were necessary”—indicating the reservation was not acceptable.

“We have an increasing number of cases in which people are abandoning their reservations,” a restaurant worker told AFP, adding Japanese-speaking customers are called for reconfirmation a few days before their reservation.

The number of foreign tourists coming to Japan has rocketed in recent years as the value of the yen has fallen and as tensions have eased between Beijing and Tokyo.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he wants to attract 20 million foreign visitors a year by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympics.

Despite decades of exposure to non-Japanese tourists, many facilities, even in cosmopolitan Tokyo, have difficulties dealing with people who they assume cannot speak the language.

Tokyo has a huge selection of top-class eateries, and regularly tops the global list for Michelin-starred restaurants.

No one from the Michelin Guide was available for comment.
ENDS

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

And as for the ability for NJ clients to get around this exclusion by using a concierge service:
=====================
Wes Thorpe: I called trying to make a reservation tonight, and was told that because I was a foreigner I would need to make a reservation through my hotel or my credit card’s concierge service. I explained (in Japanese) that I’ve lived in Japan for 23 years and am a permanent resident, and that as I don’t have a platinum card I’m unable to use Visa’s concierge service. They told me I’m out of luck. Truly despicable.
=====================

ENDS

Sushi Mizutani
8-7-7 Ginza Chuo, Tokyo 104-0061
03-3573-5258
Sushi Restaurant
Today 11:30 am – 1:30 pm, 5:00 – 9:30 pm

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

差別? 予約拒否された外国人が憤るミシュラン寿司店の対応

日刊 ゲンダイ 2015年4月26日
http://www.nikkan-gendai.com/articles/view/news/159356

ショッキングな話である。2015年の「ミシュランガイド東京」で2つ星を獲得した銀座の「鮨 水谷」が、予約をしようとした外国人に差別的な対応をしたという。実際に店側とやりとりし、「がっかりした」と話すのは、在日30年の中国人ジャーナリスト・莫邦富氏だ。

今月8日、莫氏の秘書(日本人女性)が「水谷」に電話をし、5月12日に4人で訪れたいと伝えたところ、「空いています」との返事だった。ところが、連絡先や氏名を伝えると、「えっ、海外の方ですか?」と聞かれ、日本在住であることを伝えても、「日本人は同行しますか」「調整が必要です」の一点張り。莫氏本人が電話を代わり、4人とも中国人で、しかし自分は来日30年でジャーナリストとして仕事をしていること、今回の食事が莫氏側の招待であること、招待客の1人は日本に留学経験があり、日本の政官界とも仕事をしている社長であることなど、本来なら伝える必要のない個人情報まで明らかにしても、「調整が必要です」とハッキリしない態度だったという。

「水谷」はカウンター10席で、夜のおまかせコースが2万円からという超高級店。常連客によると「金持ちの白人がしょっちゅう来て、大声でしゃべっている」という。外国人を受け入れている店なのに、莫氏へのヒドい対応は何なのか? 莫氏の電話を受けた店の担当者に取材すると、こんな言い分だった。

「店の雰囲気づくりのため、海外の客と日本人客の比率を半々にしています。海外の客については予約をしたのに来ないなど、トラブルが多発したので、ホテルのコンシェルジュ、もしくはカード会社を通じた予約だけに限定しています」

ただ、莫氏は海外からの旅行客ではなく、日本に永住している。

「旅行客かそうでないかは、電話だけでは判別できません。海外の客には、一律でこういう対応をしています」

■外国人観光客増加を目指す日本の課題

莫氏は、石川県や山梨県などのインバウンド(訪日外国人)誘致のアドバイザーの仕事もしている。

政府は東京五輪の2020年までにインバウンド2500万人(14年は1300万人)を目指しているが、莫氏はそんな日本の高級店の不可解な対応に、こう憤る。

「外国人客の困った事態があったのかもしれませんから、『水谷』さんの立場は理解します。ただ、私は日本に永住していますし、そもそも外国人と日本人を分断する意識は差別としか言いようがありません。『水谷』さんだけの問題ではなく、日本のインバウンド全体のイメージをよくするために、意識改革が必要なのではないでしょうか」

水谷は、ケネディ米大使から予約電話があっても、「ホテルのコンシェルジュかカード会社を通して」と拒否するのだろうか?
ENDS

Kyodo: Summary Court overturns fine levied on Filipino-Japanese man after Osaka police botch assault probe — that punished him for defending himself against drunk Japanese assailants!

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. Check this article out, followed by a comment by Debito.org Reader and submitter JDG:

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

NATIONAL / CRIME & LEGAL
Filipino-Japanese exempt from fine after Osaka police botch assault probe
KYODO NEWS/JAPAN TIMES APR 24, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/04/24/national/crime-legal/filipino-japanese-exempt-from-fine-after-osaka-police-botch-assault-probe/

OSAKA – The police investigation into a street brawl in Osaka in 2013 that resulted in a fine for a Filipino-Japanese man was superficial and should never have caused charges to be filed, a court in Osaka has ruled.

In a rare ruling, the Osaka Summary Court decided to exempt the 23-year-old defendant from punishment despite finding him guilty of assault, after hearing that the police failed to provide him with a Tagalog interpreter. The man can only speak limited Japanese.

According to the ruling, two drunken men began a quarrel with the defendant on a street in Osaka in June 2013. When one of them grabbed his collar, the Philippine-Japanese man punched him in the face, causing a broken bone.

Neither of the drunks was indicted. But the court initially ordered the Filipino-Japanese man to pay a ¥300,000 ($2,500) fine in January 2014. The defendant filed a complaint and sought a formal trial, leading to a ruling that effectively canceled the fine on Feb. 26.

The ruling was finalized on March 13 after the appeal period expired.

“This is de facto innocence,” said Masanori Matsuoka, the defendant’s lawyer. “It’s an excellent ruling that criticized the investigation of a man who cannot speak Japanese sufficiently.”

Judge Akinori Hatayama said it is unfair to punish only the Filipino-Japanese man, given that the drunken man was not indicted for assault.

The judge criticized the prosecutors for charging the defendant without properly considering the case and based purely on the degree of physical injury that resulted from the scuffle.
ENDS

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

JDG: Well, this is an interesting case. Now, if we take the poor reporting to mean that ‘Filipino-Japanese’ = naturalized Japanese citizen of NJ descent, this story is quite telling.

Naturalized Japanese citizen is stopped in Osaka by two drunk Japanese guys, who grab his shirt collars whilst shouting at him. The naturalized Japanese punches one in the face in self-defense and is arrested, charged, goes to court, and is fined.

The Japanese assailants, since they are ‘victims’ of their own victims self-defense, are not apprehended, and win compensation from their victim!

Thankfully, this was over-turned at a [summary] court. But the fact that it played out like this clearly shows the intense institutional racism of the Japanese police and legal system. In effect, if you are Japanese, you can commit assault (by western standards) on NJ (well, anyone who was not born Japanese), and the legal system recognize you as the victim if you are injured whilst attempting assault!

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

Quite.  And, I might add, if he hadn’t taken it outside the criminal justice system (I assume) into Summary Court, he would have never gotten this ruling on the record either.

Clearly somebody had to go down for this incident in the cops’ eyes.  And since they saw what they considered to be a NJ involved (naturalized or not), they charged and convicted him.  Wrongly so, as this court ruling demonstrates — nearly two years later!  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Kyodo: Ryukoku U exchange student denied “No Foreigner” Kyoto apartment in 2013; MOJ in 2015 decides it’s not a violation of human rights!

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. I’m sorry for taking some time to get to this: I’ve been rather busy recently, and I was hoping that an English-langauge article would take this issue up and save me the need to carve out some time translating from the vernacular press. Found a couple references (a passing one here and a more elaborate contextualizing in the Japan Times here), but they’re missing a couple of important nuances, so here goes:

47News.jp (article below) reports that the Ministry of Justice Legal Affairs Bureau has refused to acknowledge a “No Foreigners” apartment as a violation of human rights.  This is the outcome of a case back in 2013, where an exchange student at Ryuukoku University was denied a flat despite going through the Student Union, and he took it to the Bureau of Human Rights for the official word on the subject.  Now more than two years later (presumably the poor chap wasn’t living on the street in the interim), the MOJ determined that the foreigner-averse landlord had not violated anyone’s human rights, refusing to elaborate further.  Great.  Job well done and great precedent set, BOHR.

Two things of note before I get to the article:  One is a media bias.  Note how once again the 47News.jp article portrays the issue incorrectly in its sidebar illustration:

foreignerdiscrim47Newsjp033015

(from 47News.jp, March 30, 2015)

It’s not “Foreigner Discrimination” (gaikokujin sabetsu no jirei). It’s racial discrimination, because the first case they cite (the Otaru Onsens Case in 1999) eventually has a Japanese being refused too.  Yet the Japanese media will almost always refuse to undermine the incorrect narrative that racial discrimination never happens in Japan.

Second thing is that Japan’s generally ineffective Potemkin Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu) has a long history of blind-eyeing the very thing it’s charged with protecting against.  As further evidence of its ineffectuality – even complicity with discriminators – here is an example where the Sapporo BOHR advised a local government (Otaru) that it has no legal obligation to pass ordinance against racial discrimination, only suggesting that the city make such an ordinance if it considers it necessary.  This from my book “Japanese Only:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan” (Tokyo: Akashi Shoten) , pg. 347 in the English version:

jinkenyougobu112999

(Annotations within the document by the Sapporo BOHR.)  Further, the BOHR has denied information to claimants on the pretext of protecting claimants from their own privacy, so I wholeheartedly agree with the exchange student’s complaints about the lack of transparency.  So this latest event of saying a blanket exclusionary policy as not a violation of human rights is but one more example to record on Debito.org for posterity.

Translation of the article without footnotes follows, with full article in Japanese. Any errors are mine.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

(Foreigner Apartment Refusal) Ministry of Justice on “No Foreigners” apartments:  not acknowledged as a violation of human rights.  Student Union that introduced the apartment apologizes to student.

47News.jp, from Kyodo, March 30, 2015, provisional translation by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

A European exchange student in his twenties who wished to rent an apartment in Kyoto could not get a rental contract because the apartment was “No Foreigners”.  He asked for recourse from the Ministry of Justice’s Legal Affairs Bureau in Kyoto for discrimination against foreigners, but the Legal Affairs Bureau refused, stating, “We cannot determine that the facts constitute a violation of human rights.”

The Student Union at Ryukoku University in Kyoto, who acted as the interlocutor to the realtor, apologized to the student, and has ceased introductions to places that refuse foreigners.  The university has advised the Student Union to improve its services.  The student’s supporters have voiced the need for seeing how the Legal Affairs handled the issue as a problem.

Lack of Transparency

The Ministry of Justice has called for the end of street demonstrations expressing discrimination against foreigners that may be called hate speech [sic].  On its online home page it introduces a case of “a barber who refused customers on the basis of them being foreigners” as a violation of human rights.  As to this case of the refused student, the Ministry of Justice refused to explain further why this was not acknowledged as the same.  The student criticized the situation, saying “the Legal Affairs Bureau’s handling lacks transparency.”

The student attempted to rent the apartment in Kyoto through the Student Union in January 2013, but was told at the Union that the landlord refused. In September 2014, the Bureau notified him that “We decided that it was unclear that there had been a violation”.  “We admonished (keihatsu, or “enlightened”) the Student Union.”  According to Ministry of Justice guidelines, even in cases where there has not been a violation of human rights, admonition can be carried out.  

However, the exchange student raised the question, “Wouldn’t most Japanese think that this is discrimination?  Would only admonishing without any legally-binding force actually stop this from happening again?”  He repeated, “I had the chance to learn and grow from learning Japanese culture, but I was quite hurt by this problem.”

Easing the Unease

Ryuukoku’s Student Union leader Doumen Yuuko sees that this landlord’s refusal to rent to foreigners is but a “vague feeling of unease” (bakuzen to shita fuan).  Thanks to this case, the Student Union no longer refers students to renters that have “no foreigners” policies.  She said that recently the Union is politely explaining to landlords that the former will handle any troubles that result from unpaid rents and differences in lifestyles.  Ms. Doumen added, “As a university, we accept many kinds of people.  It’s important that we see diversity not only in regards to foreign exchange students.”

When contacted by Kyodo News for a comment, the representative for the Bureau, a Mr. Ohyama Kunio, responded, “We cannot comment on that case, or on whether we took up that case.”  For the sake of preserving privacy, the Bureau does not publicly speak as a matter of principle on cases that have been raised for relief.

Ms. Moro-oka Yasuko, a lawyer that takes on cases of foreigner discrimination, suggested, “They probably are thinking that because the landlord refused the exchange student before it got to the contract stage, that’s why it didn’t become an explicit violation of human rights.”  

The Japanese Government, a signatory to the UN Convention for the the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has the duty to forbid discrimination.  However, Japan’s human rights organs have a deep-rooted image of having “insufficient enforcement power”.  Ms Moro-oka charged, “As agreed to in the treaty, Japan must make a law to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.”

MAIN ARTICLE ENDS.  (Footnotes untranslated.)

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

【外国人入居拒否】 法務局、人権侵犯認めず アパートの「外国人不可」 仲介の大学生協は謝罪
47News.jp 2015/03/30 Courtesy of HT
http://www.47news.jp/47topics/e/263652.php

入居を希望した京都市のアパートが「外国人不可」のため、賃貸契約できなかった欧州出身の20代の留学生が、法務省の京都地方法務局に外国人差別だとして救済措置を求めたところ、法務局は「人権侵犯の事実があったとまでは判断できない」と退けた。

不動産相談窓口でアパートを仲介した龍谷大(本部京都市)の生協は留学生に謝罪し、「外国人不可」の物件紹介を中止。大学側も生協に改善を促した。留学生の支援者らから、法務局の対応を疑問視する声があがっている。

▽透明性欠く
法務省はヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)と呼ばれる外国人差別の街頭宣伝をなくそうと呼び掛けており、ホームページでは「外国人であることを理由に理容店が客を拒否した」というケースを人権侵害として紹介している。救済を求めた留学生に対しては、申し立てを認めなかった理由の説明を断った。留学生は「(法務局の対応は)透明性を欠いている」と批判している。

留学生は2013年1月、生協の窓口で京都市内のアパートを借りようとしたが、外国人を拒む家主側の意向を生協で伝えられた。法務局は14年9月、「侵犯事実不明確の決定をした」と留学生に通知。「生協には啓発を行った」とも伝えた。法務省の規定では「啓発」は人権侵犯がない場合も実施できる。
だが、留学生は「多くの日本人はこれが差別だと思っていないのではないか。法的拘束力もない啓発だけで再発が防げるのか」と疑問を投げかけ、「日本文化を学んで成長の機会を得られたが、この問題では傷ついた」と振り返った。

▽不安解消
龍谷大生協の 堂免裕子 (どうめんゆうこ) 専務理事は、家主側は部屋を外国人に貸すことに「漠然とした不安」を感じているとみている。今回の問題をきっかけに、「外国人不可」の賃貸住宅の仲介をやめた。最近は、未払い家賃の補償制度や生活習慣をめぐるトラブルへの対応を、家主側に丁寧に説明しているという。堂免さんは「大学はいろいろな人を受け入れる。留学生に限らず多様性(ダイバーシティ)という観点が重要だ」と話す。

法務省人権擁護局は共同通信の取材に対し「そうした事案を取り扱ったかどうかも含めてお答えできない」( 大山邦士 (おおやま・くにお) 調査救済課長)と答えた。同省はプライバシーの保護などを理由に、人権救済の申し立てへの対応は原則として公表していない。

外国人差別問題に取り組む 師岡康子 (もろおか・やすこ) 弁護士は「留学生に対し家主が契約の段階で断るといった行為がないと人権侵犯には当てはまらない、と考えているのではないか」と推測する。

日本政府は「人種差別撤廃条約」に加入し、政府は差別を禁止し終わらせる義務を負っている。だが人権団体の間では「実行が不十分」という見方が根強い。師岡氏は「条約に合致するよう、あらゆる差別行為を禁じる『人種差別撤廃法』をつくるべきだ」と訴えている。 (沢康臣)

◎人種差別撤廃条約

人種差別撤廃条約 人種差別をなくすため、日本を含む170カ国以上が結んでいる。あらゆる人種差別を撤廃する政策をとり、差別を禁止することを義務付けている。1965年に国連総会で採択され、69年に発効。日本は95年12月に批准した。しかし留保条件を付け、人種差別思想の流布や差別の扇動を罰する法律をつくる義務については、憲法の表現の自由との関係で履行しない余地を残した。
◎人権侵犯

人権侵犯 各地の法務局は差別などの訴えを受け付けると、「人権侵犯(侵害)」に当たるかどうか調べ、救済や再発防止をはかる。調査や救済措置に強制力はない。人権侵犯があったと認定した場合、加害者を対象にした「勧告」「説示」や、関係機関への「要請」などの救済措置をとる。悪質な場合は警察に告発する。人権侵犯がなければ「不存在」、有無を確認できなければ「不明確」と決定する。
(共同通信)

FCCJ’s Number One Shimbun on how GOJ is leaning on critical foreign correspondents (incl. accusing them of being on Chinese payroll!)

mytest

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Hi Blog. Further along the lines of how the Japanese Government is pressuring overseas historians to toe a GOJ-approved ideological line, here is an example of how they’re doing the same to foreign journalists. While Gaijin Handling is not a new activity (it even happened to Dave Barry back in the day — clearly they didn’t know he was a humor columnist), under PM Abe it is becoming more paranoid and insidious, with implications that criticism of Japan must somehow be linked to Chinese influence.  In other words, criticism = shilling if not spying for the Chinese! This is a significant change in attitude, as the author points out below, and it will influence Japan PR’s ability to persuade (as opposed to threaten) the outside world. Wonder how long it’ll be before they drop by the Japan Times to lean on them too about my critical JBC columns. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

On My Watch
Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, Number One Shimbun, Thursday, April 02, 2015
Confessions of a foreign correspondent after a half-decade of reporting from Tokyo to his German readers
by Carsten Germis, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Courtesy of Marcus

http://www.fccj.or.jp/number-1-shimbun/item/576-on-my-watch.html

My bags are packed, as the song goes. After more than five years as the Tokyo correspondent for the German daily, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, I will soon leave Tokyo for home.

The country I’m leaving is different from the one I arrived in back in January 2010. Although things seem the same on the surface, the social climate – that has increasingly influenced my work in the past 12 months – is slowly but noticeably changing.

There is a growing gap between the perceptions of the Japanese elites and what is reported in the foreign media, and I worry that it could become a problem for journalists working here. Of course, Japan is a democracy with freedom of the press, and access to information is possible even for correspondents with poor Japanese language skills. But the gap exists because there is a clear shift that is taking place under the leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – a move by the right to whitewash history. It could become a problem because Japan’s new elites have a hard time dealing with opposing views or criticism, which is very likely to continue in the foreign media.

The Nikkei recently published an essay by their correspondent in Berlin about the February visit to Japan of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He wrote: “Merkel’s visit to Japan was more conducive to criticism of Japan than friendship. With Japanese experts, she discussed her country’s policy to end nuclear power. She talked about the wartime history when she visited the Asahi and when she met with Abe. She also talked with Katsuya Okada, president of the DPJ, the largest opposition party. . . . Friendship was promoted only when she visited a factory run by a German company and shook hands with the robot Asimo.”

That seemed harsh. But, even accepting the premise . . . what is friendship? Is friendship simply agreement? Is not true friendship the ability to speak of one’s beliefs when a friend is shifting in a direction that could cause him harm? And surely Merkel’s visit was more complex than just critical.

Let me make my own stance clear. After five years, my love and affection for this country are unbroken. In fact, thanks to the many fine people I’ve met, my feelings are stronger than ever. Most of my Japanese friends and Japanese readers in Germany have told me they feel my love in my writing, especially following the events of March 11, 2011.

Unfortunately, the bureaucrats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in Tokyo see things completely differently, and it seems some in the Japanese media feel the same way. To them I have been – like almost all my German media colleagues – a Japan basher capable of only delivering harsh criticism. It is we who have been responsible for, as the Nikkei’s man in Berlin put it, the two countries’ bilateral relations becoming “less friendly.”

Changing relations

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is politically conservative, economically liberal and market oriented. And yet, those claiming that the coverage of Abe’s historical revisionism has always been critical are right. In Germany it is inconceivable for liberal democrats to deny responsibility for what were wars of aggression. If Japan’s popularity in Germany has suffered, it is not due to the media coverage, but to Germany’s repugnance at historical revisionism.

My tenure in Japan began with very different issues. In 2010, the Democratic Party of Japan ran the government. All three administrations I covered – Hatoyama, Kan and Noda – tried to explain their policies to the foreign press, and we often heard politicians saying things like, “We know we have to do more and become better at running the country.”

Foreign journalists were often invited by then Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada, for example, to exchange views. There were weekly meetings in the Kantei, the PM’s residence, and officials were willing to discuss – more or less openly – current issues. We didn’t hesitate to criticize the government’s stance on certain issues, but officials continued to try to make their positions understood.

The rollback came soon after the December 2012 elections. Despite the prime minister’s embrace of new media like Facebook, for example, there is no evidence of an appreciation for openness anywhere in his administration. Finance Minister Taro Aso has never tried to talk to foreign journalists or to provide a response to questions about the massive government debt.

In fact, there is a long list of issues that foreign correspondents want to hear officialdom address: energy policy, the risks of Abenomics, constitutional revision, opportunities for the younger generation, the depopulation of rural regions. But the willingness of government representatives to talk with the foreign press has been almost zero. Yet, at the same time, anyone who criticizes the brave new world being called for by the prime minister is called a Japan basher.

What is new, and what seems unthinkable compared to five years ago, is being subjected to attacks from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – not only direct ones, but ones directed at the paper’s editorial staff in Germany. After the appearance of an article I had written that was critical of the Abe administration’s historical revisionism, the paper’s senior foreign policy editor was visited by the Japanese consul general of Frankfurt, who passed on objections from “Tokyo.” The Chinese, he complained, had used it for anti-Japanese propaganda.

It got worse. Later on in the frosty, 90-minute meeting, the editor asked the consul general for information that would prove the facts in the article wrong, but to no avail. “I am forced to begin to suspect that money is involved,” said the diplomat, insulting me, the editor and the entire paper. Pulling out a folder of my clippings, he extended condolences for my need to write pro-China propaganda, since he understood that it was probably necessary for me to get my visa application approved.

Me? A paid spy for Beijing? Not only have I never been there, but I’ve never even applied for a visa. If this is the approach of the new administration’s drive to make Japan’s goals understood, there’s a lot of work ahead. Of course, the pro-China accusations did not go over well with my editor, and I received the backing to continue with my reporting. If anything, the editing of my reports became sharper.

The heavy handedness has been increasing over the past few years. In 2012, while the DPJ was still in power, I took a junket to South Korea, interviewing former comfort women and visiting the contested island of Takeshima (Dokdo to Koreans). Of course it was PR, but it was a rare chance to see the center of the controversy for myself. I was called in by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a meal and discussion, and received a few dozen pages of information proving that the island was Japanese.

In 2013, with Abe’s administration in charge, I was called in once again after I wrote about an interview with three comfort women. This also included a lunch invitation, and once again I received information to help my understanding of the prime minister’s thoughts.

But things seem to have changed in 2014, and MoFA officials now seem to openly attack critical reporting. I was called in after a story on the effect the prime minister’s nationalism is having on trade with China. I told them that I had only quoted official statistics, and their rebuttal was that the numbers were wrong.

My departing message

Two weeks before the epic meeting between the Consul general and my editor, I had another lunch with MoFA officials, in which protests were made of my use of words like “whitewash history,” and the idea that Abe’s nationalistic direction might “isolate Japan, not only in East Asia.” The tone was frostier and, rather than trying to explain and convince, their attitude was angrier. No one was listening to my attempts to explain why German media are especially sensitive about historical revisionism.

I’ve heard of an increase in the number of lunch invitations from government officials to foreign correspondents, and the increased budgets to spread Japanese views of World War II, and the new trend to invite the bosses of foreign correspondents deemed too critical (via business class, of course). But I would suggest the proponents tread carefully, since these editors have been treated to – and become inured to – political PR of the highest caliber and clumsy efforts tend to have an opposite effect. When I officially complained about the Consul’s comments about my receiving funds from China, I was told that it was a “misunderstanding.”

So here’s my departing message: Unlike some of my colleagues, I do not see a threat in Japan to freedom of reporting. Though many critical voices are more silent than during the DPJ administration, they are there – and perhaps in larger numbers than before.

The closed-shop mentality of the Japanese political elite and the present inability of the administration leaders to risk open discussion with foreign media doesn’t really affect press freedom; there are plenty of other sources to gather information. But it does reveal how little the government understands that – in a democracy – policy must be explained to the public. And the world.

It doesn’t strike me as funny any more when colleagues tell me that the LDP doesn’t have anyone in the press affairs department who will speak English or provide information to a foreign journalist. Nor does the fact that the present prime minister, who claims to be well traveled, has declined to make the short trip to speak to us at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club. In fact, I can only be saddened at how the government is not only secretive with the foreign press, but with its own citizens.

In the past five years, I’ve been up and down the Japanese archipelago, and – unlike in Tokyo – I’ve never had anyone, from Hokkaido to Kyushu, accuse me of writings that were hostile to Japan. On the contrary, I’ve been blessed with interesting stories and enjoyable people everywhere. Japan is still one of the most wealthy, open nations in the world; it’s a pleasant place to live and report from for foreign correspondents.

My hope is that foreign journalists – and even more importantly, the Japanese public – can continue to speak their minds. I believe that harmony should not come from repression or ignorance; and that a truly open and healthy democracy is a goal worthy of my home of the last five great years.

Carsten Germis was the Tokyo correspondent of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from 2010 to 2015 and a member of the Board of Directors of the FCCJ.

ENDS

Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus carries full text of my interview with Dr. Ziegler on GOJ pressure to censor his history book of “Comfort Women”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Last week I offered Japan Times readers an abridged version of an interview with Dr. Herbert Ziegler, historian at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, on Japanese Government pressure to censor all mention of Japan’s official sexual slavery during WWII (the “Comfort Women” issue).  The full text of the interview is now available at The Asia-Pacific Journal:  Japan Focus‘s website (a very valuable resource, in case you haven’t heard of it before).  An excerpt that did not make the cut in The Japan Times due to space limitations:

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

Dr. Ziegler:  I mentioned earlier about the woman who came as the Consul’s interpreter and I looked into this a little bit.  I remember some time ago that she came to my office, I didn’t know her well but she was a student at this university, and she asked if I had a collection of World History books.  And I do, sort of, just to see what the competition is like.  So my whole shelf over there is full of World History textbooks.  So she asked if she could go through them and look at them.  And now, with hindsight, I’m thinking, “She was on a spying mission.”  Not that I cared then, but this is my thinking now:  This was started some time ago, perhaps.  I mean, how does the Consul, who barely reads English I assure you, read my textbook?

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

Go to http://www.japanfocus.org/events/view/246 for the rest.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

 

PNS: Deaths of unknown persons in the custody of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police: At least 5 in past year

mytest

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Deaths of unknown persons in the custody of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police
Edwin Stamm, Progressive News Service, Tokyo, March 9, 2015
Special to Debito.org
A troubling pattern of deaths of suspects in police custody is emerging in Tokyo, Japan. At least five people have died in police custody in the last year, with little publicity or investigation. The names of the victims have not apparently been released, which puts Japan at odds with international norms of transparency and police accountability.
  • Unknown man arrested May 12, 2014 in Meguro Ward
A 37 year-old male in a state of mental confusion was subdued in a hotel room at about 2:35 a.m. after reports that he was shouting and throwing things. He soon had a heart attack and was transported to a hospital, where he was confirmed dead at about 10:55 p.m. Police suspect drugs were involved.
精神錯乱状態の男性、警官保護後に死亡 都内ホテル、室内に粉末も
東京都内のホテルで精神錯乱状態に陥り、警視庁目黒署に保護された男性(37)が約20時間後に死亡していたことが12日、警視庁生活安全総務課への取材で分かった。ホテルの室内から覚醒剤のような粉末などが見つかっており、同課は成分の鑑定を急ぐとともに、13日にも男性を司法解剖して死因を調べる。
・・・・・・11日午前235分ごろ、東京都目黒区内のホテルの一室で、大声を出し、腕時計を投げつけるなどしていたのを目黒署員が発見。同署員は精神錯乱状態と判断し、保護バンドを手足に巻くなどして保護した。
男性は間もなく心肺停止状態になり、都内の病院に搬送されたが、同日午後1055分ごろ、死亡が確認された。
・・・・・・室内からは覚醒剤のような粉末が入ったポリ袋のほか、茶色い粉末入りの袋や空の袋も見つかり、同課は男性が何らかの薬物を摂取していたとみている。
産経ニュース2014.5.12 18:54 [Sankei News http://www.sankei.com/]*
Original story appears to be gone, but is reproduced here:
  • Unknown man arrested May 25, 2014 in Shinjuku
A 30 year-old man who was found lying on the street in Nishi Shinjuku at about 6:30 p.m. having convulsions was taken to a police station instead of to the hospital. His hands and feet were bound and his entire body was wrapped in a mat. After about 30 minutes “his condition worsened” so an ambulance was called. He died at the hospital on May 27th at about 5:30 p.m.
警察署で保護した男性死亡、対応に問題なかったか調査
TBS系(JNN) 528()623分配信
東京・新宿区の路上で倒れているのが見つかり警察署の中で保護されていた男性が、
その後、死亡していたことがわかりました。警視庁は、当時の対応に問題がなかったか調べています。
今月25日午後6時半ごろ、新宿区・西新宿の路上で30歳の男性が痙攣した状態で倒れているのを
通行人が見つけて通報しました。東京消防庁の救急隊が駆けつけ男性の容体を調べましたが、
「異常が見られなかった」として救急搬送しませんでした。
しかし、その後も男性の錯乱状態が続いたため警察官が手足をバンドで縛り保護マットにくるんで警察署内で保護しましたが、
男性はおよそ30分後に容体が悪化し病院に運ばれました。そして男性は27日午後5時半過ぎ、死亡しました。
警視庁は、男性の死因を調べるとともに当時の対応に問題がなかったか調査する方針です。(2723:52
Original story is gone, but is reproduced here:
  • Unknown man arrested May 31, 2014 in Konan
In response to reports of a man yelling and running around without clothes, at about 4 p.m. police from the Takanawa Police Station arrested a 37 year old, unemployed man. He was restrained and wrapped in a protective sheet. He was then held in a patrol car for about 25 minutes. Just before being placed into a “special detention room”, police noticed that the man had gone limp and stopped breathing. He died at around 7:40 p.m. that evening.
<ニュースから>*****
警察官保護の男性死亡=死因を調査-警視庁
警視庁高輪署は1日、東京都港区港南の路上で、奇声を上げ暴れていた無職男性(37)を同署で保護したところ、ぐったりして呼吸がなくなり、搬送先の病院で死亡したと発表した。同署は司法解剖して詳しい死因を調べる。
同署によると、531日午後4時ごろ、「全裸で男が暴れている」との通報が相次いだため、署員3人が駆け付け衣服を身に着けていない男性を確保。体を保護シートにくるんでパトカーで同署に移したが、保護室に入れる直前に、ぐったりしているのに気付き119番した。男性は同日午後740分ごろ死亡が確認された。
保護シートにくるまれていた時間は約25分だったという。男性は4月にも同署に保護されたことがあった。
時事ドットコム【時事通信】(2014/06/01-12:12[Jiji.com http://www.jiji.com/]
Original story appears to be gone, but is reproduced here:
  • Unknown man arrested August 25, 2014 in Shinagawa
An unemployed 47 year-old man was arrested at a supermarket by four police officers. He was bound hand and foot, wrapped in a sheet, and transported face down to the Osaki Police Station. When the prisoner arrived in the interrogation room, it was discovered that he was unconscious and he was taken to the hospital, where he died on September 3, 2014.
2014.9.4 18:21 傷害容疑で逮捕の容疑者死亡 危険ドラッグ店のカード所持 警視庁、死因など調べる
 東京都新宿区の無職の男(47)が警視庁大崎署に傷害容疑で逮捕された直後に意識不明の状態となり、9日後の今月3日に死亡していたことが4日、警視庁への取材で分かった。男に目立った外傷はないことなどから、警視庁は薬物を摂取したことによる中毒死の可能性があるとみて死因などを調べている。
 男は8月25日午後0時半ごろ、品川区内のスーパーで突然、暴れ出し、40~50代の男性従業員2人に商品を投げつけ、顔を殴るなどしたとして駆けつけた大崎署員4人に傷害容疑で現行犯逮捕された。
 同署員らは男の両手足に手錠をはめ、保護シートで包んで同署に車で移送。同1時ごろに取調室に連れて行ったところ、意識がなくなっていることに気づき、同区内の病院に搬送したが、意識が戻らないまま今月3日午後5時35分ごろに死亡したという。
 男は危険ドラッグ(脱法ドラッグ)店のものとみられるカードを持っていたが、自宅などから危険ドラッグは見つかっておらず、尿検査でも薬物は検出されなかった。司法解剖でも死因が分からず、さらに血液と尿検査を進めている。警視庁幹部は「対応は適正だった」としている。
関連ニュース
  • Unknown man arrested February 11, 2015 in Akasaka
Police were called when a “violently agitated foreigner” was observed in Akasaka. Six police officers from the Akasaka Police Station subdued the man, who then went into cardiac arrest and was taken to a hospital, where he remained in a coma until he died on March 1, 2015. Police say there was no evidence of any physical trauma. He was 29 years-old American citizen employed as an English teacher who lived in Setagaya Ward. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government and U.S. Embassy have not responded to requests for additional information.
保護した米国人男性死亡=2月路上で暴れ、病院搬送-警視庁
 警視庁は2日、2月に東京・赤坂の路上で暴れて保護され、病院に搬送された米国籍の男性が死亡したと発表した。同庁赤坂署によると、男性を解剖したが死因は不明。
 死亡したのは東京都世田谷区に住む英会話教師の米国人男性(29)。
 赤坂署によると、2月11日午後5時半ごろ、港区赤坂の路上で「外国人が錯乱して暴れている」などと110番があった。駆け付けた署員が話し掛けると、男性が暴れ出したため署員6人で両手両足を押さえ付けるなどして拘束。男性は心肺停止状態となり、病院に搬送された。
 男性は意識が戻らないまま、今月1日に病院で死亡した。同署によると、目立った外傷はないという。(2015/03/02-16:30
same story reproduced by Wall Street Journal – Japan edition:http://jp.wsj.com/articles/JJ12415624575840664012717795297010215212790
English news sources:
Tokyo Reporter:
Tokyo Weekender:
ENDS

Suspicious recent death of NJ after being “restrained” on the street by Tokyo Police in daytime warrants more investigation and attention

mytest

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Hi Blog. As several Debito.org Readers have been digging around and submitting to this forum under the aegis of a similar but separate event (start from here), there has been a suspicious death of a Non-Japanese (NJ) that warrants more investigation and attention. So let’s promote it to its own blog entry.

First, the Tokyo Weekender of March 5 reports tersely:

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

English Teacher Dies after Being Restrained by Police
Tokyo Weekender, News & Views – March 5th, 2015
http://www.tokyoweekender.com/2015/03/english-teacher-dies-after-being-restrained-by-police/

A short article reporting the death of a 29-year-old English teacher who fell into a coma after being restrained by the police raises more questions than it answers.

The Jiji Press reported that the teacher, who was from the US, died in a hospital following a February 11 incident in the Akasaka area of Minato Ward. The Jiji article, reprinted on the Japanese version of the Wall Street Journal, is scant on details, aside from the following: At around 5:30 pm on the Foundation Day holiday, police received a call about a foreigner behaving violently . When police approached the man, who was reported as a resident of Setagaya Ward, he responded violently. A total of six officers restrained the American by his arms and legs. In the struggle, the man went into cardiac arrest and was taken to a nearby hospital.

The man did not regain consciousness after the incident, and died on March 1. Police stated that the man did not seem to have suffered any external injuries.

No other information —- the man’s name, his home town, employer, or additional details about the conflict—has been provided thus far.  ENDS

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

Here are the quoted sources in Japanese, also glib:

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

保護した米国人男性死亡=2月路上で暴れ、病院搬送—警視庁
Wall Street Journal Japan 2015 年 3 月 2 日 16:30 JST 更新
http://jp.wsj.com/articles/JJ12415624575840664012717795297010215212790

警視庁は2日、2月に東京・赤坂の路上で暴れて保護され、病院に搬送された米国籍の男性が死亡したと発表した。同庁赤坂署によると、男性を解剖したが死因は不明。

死亡したのは東京都世田谷区に住む英会話教師の米国人男性(29)。

赤坂署によると、2月11日午後5時半ごろ、港区赤坂の路上で「外国人が錯乱して暴れている」などと110番があった。駆け付けた署員が話し掛けると、男性が暴れ出したため署員6人で両手両足を押さえ付けるなどして拘束。男性は心肺停止状態となり、病院に搬送された。

男性は意識が戻らないまま、今月1日に病院で死亡した。同署によると、目立った外傷はないという。
[時事通信社]

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

This has occasioned much cynical comment and even public protest. But we still don’t know much more than this.

However, we can speculate with some certainty on the following:

  1. This happened on a Wednesday afternoon before it was fully dark, meaning the chances of this person being drunk and disorderly were pretty low.
  2. This happened in a part of Tokyo that sees NJ as a public-security threat, with cops trained to racially-profile potential perps and carry out legally-questionable search activities.
  3. This happened on National Foundation Day, a day where there were nationalistic demonstrations by Japanese celebrating the accession of Japan’s first emperor.  While demonstrations on a day like this are not newsworthy enough to indicate that there was a concurrent demonstration in Akasaka, it is not a stretch to imagine this person being targeted by violent xenophobic elements, and the NPA taking the side of the rightists and targeting the NJ.
  4. The NPA not only has a record of lethally subduing NJ in custody, but also of covering it up.
  5. We don’t even have the basic information on who he is or even if international officials have gotten involved in the investigation. All we have is the deceased’s age, nationality, and occupation. That is insufficient, and the fact that more details are not forthcoming suggests a mishap or a coverup on the part of the NPA.  (It’s happened before.  Many times.)
  6. There have been cases of police arresting people for looking “suspicious”, but whose only apparent crime was standing around looking foreign in the eyes of local busybodies who called the cops (we know about this because these involved cases where persons arrested were Japanese citizens who just looked “foreign”).  So the accusation of violence on the part of the NJ is also not taken when Japanese cops have a history of overreaction towards NJ (those six cops sure got there in a hurry).

We simply don’t have enough information for a more informed assessment.  And we should.  Were there no witnesses?  With this much commotion and no doubt an ambulance called, didn’t anyone see anything in this densely-populated part of Tokyo?  Or is this just another case of another unknown fungible NJ winding up as the Dead Gaijin on a Gurney?

One speculation is that the lack of press investigation and scrutiny is because this case has somehow come under Japan’s newly-enacted Special Secrecy Law.  Seems a bit of a stretch, as this doesn’t seem to be something that ought to be fodder (how does the case one dead NJ qualify as an issue of national security?).  But if it did, this would really be the acid test that demonstrated just how far this law will be abused, and thus warrants further investigation.

If you have any friends in the Japan news media, point them towards this site and see if we can pique their interest and get them investigating.  I will too.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Good JT article on historically-ignorant blackface on Japanese performers and “modern-day minstrel shows” in Japan

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I had heard about this issue of blackface in Japan (a la other racialized “gaijin” characteristics in Japan, including blond wigs and stuck-on big noses) but wasn’t sure how to raise it (Debito.org was embroiled enough in the Japartheid issue enough over the past few days).  However, Baye McNeil does it instead, and better than I could.  The part of the article I like best is about the lack of historical research these performers (such as Rats & Star) who profess to love the people they so carelessly imitate:

Doo-what?: An image that went viral on the Internet shows members of male doo-wop group Rats & Star and idol group Momoiro Clover Z blacked up backstage during the filming of a show for Fuji TV scheduled for broadcast on March 7. | THE JAPAN TIMES

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

McNeil: All of which speaks directly to this racist bullsh-t — I mean, this cultural misunderstanding — one that could have been avoided in the 30-some-odd years this band [Rats & Star] has existed if, while they were researching the music, costumes and other aspects of black music and performance, they had simply taken a second to see if what they wanted to do with blackface had ever been done before. You know, just a little proactive research about the industry they would spend the next three f-cking decades profiting handsomely from.

But alas, when I saw this story on the Net the other day — that they were going to be on Fuji TV alongside popular girl group Momoiro Clover Z, who would be similarly blacked up — all I could say was, “Mata ka yo?” (“Jeezus! Again?”), suck my teeth and click away. To me, it’s not shocking to see blackfaced bands here. With the attitudes and ignorance encountered here regularly, the only shocking thing is that there aren’t more of these groups. A Ku Klux Klan-themed idol group wouldn’t even surprise me here.

I’m still, however, pleasantly surprised when non-Japanese people in Japan get worked up over something important. They’re a beautiful sight to see! Like when Julien Blanc was spreading his misogynistic garbage about Japanese women. Remember how the Japanosphere responded? They damn near shut down the Internet with their furor over his antics. Of course, everything he said could be heard in any gaijin (foreigner) bar in Tokyo or Yokohama on any given day, but it was still great to see people get activated for a good cause. Not to mention that, let’s say, inappropriate ANA advert that got a lot of people upset and resulted in Japan’s biggest airline re-editing a television commercial advertising new flights.

And even Japanese get worked up when they want to. Like back in 2011, when the Japanese Embassy in London sent a letter to the BBC complaining about A-bomb jokes on an episode of a British TV comedy quiz, leading the BBC to apologize for offending Japanese sensibilities. And very recently, conservative Netizens in Japan campaigned to keep Angelina Jolie’s biographical movie about a former American POW from opening in theaters here because of its depictions of Imperial Japanese Army brutality. All beautiful acts of activism, right?

Well, I say, if ANA and the BBC can be made to change their tunes, and if Blanc can be shut down, so can these guys…
//////////////////////////////////////

Read the entire article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/02/18/our-lives/time-shut-modern-day-minstrel-show/. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

IPC Digital et al.: Shizuoka Iwata City General Hospital doctor refuses care to Brazilian child, curses out parents and tells them to “die” (kuso, shine)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Sorry to have gotten to this so late (projects loom), and thanks to all of you to sending me this information.

Have a look at this.  A Japanese doctor in Shizuoka, Iwata City General Hospital (shiritsu sougou byouin), is extremely unhelpful and disrespectful towards his Brazilian patients (not to mention refuses treatment).  It has made the news.  Unlike, say, this “Japanese Only” hospital reported on Debito.org back in 2012, which wound up being ignored by the local media.  It pays to video these things — they go viral, and force apologies.  Not sure how this will stop it from happening in future, but glad that somebody is paying attention this time.

Portuguese videos first, then Portuguese article, Google translated English version, and finally Japanese articles.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

(NB:  I do not endorse the quality of the commentary given by vlogger Gimmeaflakeman.  I am not a fan.  I include it here only because it is cited in the Portuguese article below.)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnme3ldROow


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vR6ZkFcyrd4&feature=share

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

Vídeo de suposta discriminação em hospital repercute entre internautas japoneses
ComunidadeJapãopor Paulo Sakamoto – IPC Digital 26/01/15
http://www.ipcdigital.com/japao/video-de-suposta-discriminacao-em-hospital-repercute-entre-internautas-japoneses/
Courtesy of lots of people.
O vídeo que mostra um brasileiro acusando um médico de ter recusado o atendimento e ofendido a sua filha com xingamentos, desejando a sua morte (Kuso, Shine), repercutiu em fóruns de discussões e blogs japoneses.

Dezenas de postagens em blogs do livedoor.biz e outros fóruns, destacaram o acontecimento com o título:(ブラジル人が子供の病態悪化のため夜連れて行った病院先で、日本人医師が子供に「クソ、死ね」という暴言を吐く) “Brasileiro leva filha doente ao hospital durante a noite e médico japonês diz “morra,****” para a criança”. A grande maioria dos comentários foram contra a suposta discriminação.

Alguns internautas japoneses destacaram que, mesmo diante da aparente exaltação do pai, o médico deveria ter atendido o pedido de transferência e que jamais deveria ter usado essas palavras com a criança.

Mesmo em fóruns anônimos, onde não é necessário se identificar para postar um comentário, a maioria dos internautas mostraram indignação com a suposta atitude do médico, dizendo que “certamente, deveria ser despedido” e que “a universidade deveria ser responsável pelas atitudes erradas dos médicos”.

O canal do YouTube Gimmeaflakeman, de cultura e língua japonesa, usou o vídeo como tema para uma aula de japonês. O autor do vídeo usa as palavras ditas pelo brasileiro e pelo médico como exemplos. Confira o vídeo abaixo:

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

(Google Translate version follows)

Video of alleged discrimination in hospital resonates with Japanese Internet
Community Japan by Paul Sakamoto – 01/26/15, IPC Digital

The video shows a Brazilian accusing a doctor of refusing care and offended her daughter with curses, wishing his death (Kuso, Shine), reflected in forums of discussions and Japanese blogs.

Dozens of posts in livedoor.biz blogs and other forums, highlighted the event with título: (ブラジル人が子供の病態悪化のため夜連れて行った病院先で、日本人医師が子供に「クソ、死ね」という暴言を吐く) “Brasileiro takes sick daughter to the hospital overnight and Japanese doctor says “die, ****” for the child. ” The vast majority of comments were against the alleged discrimination.

Some Japanese netizens pointed out that, despite the apparent exaltation of the father, the doctor should have attended the transfer request and that should never have used those words with the child.

Even in anonymous forums where it is not necessary to identify to post a comment, most Internet users showed outrage at the perceived attitude of the doctor, saying that “certainly should be fired,” and that “the university should be responsible for the wrong attitudes of physicians. “

The YouTube channel Gimmeaflakeman , culture and Japanese language, used the video as the theme for a Japanese class. The author of the video uses the words spoken by the Brazilian and physician as examples. Check out the video below:

[as above]

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

The Asahi:

医師がブラジル人患者家族に「クソ、死ね」 静岡・磐田
朝日新聞 2015年1月28日22時47分
http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH1X3GHYH1XUTPB009.html

静岡県磐田市立総合病院の20代後半の男性医師が緊急外来で受診したブラジル人の女児(6)や家族と応対中に「クソ、死ね」と口にしていたことが、28日明らかになった。医師は不適切な発言を認め、家族に謝罪したという。

病院によれば、昨年12月24日午前0時過ぎ、同県菊川市在住の女児が両足の不調を訴えて緊急搬送され、受診した。血液検査などの結果、治療や入院の必要はない軽度のウイルス性紫斑病と判断し、当直医だった医師は十分な栄養と安静を求めて帰宅を促した。

父親は「入院させてほしい」「万一のことがあったら責任を取れるのか」などと医師に詰め寄り、2時間以上にわたって押し問答となった。その際に医師が不適切な言葉をつぶやいたという。

病院は朝日新聞の取材に対し、「当直医は他の緊急患者にも対応しなければならず、なぜ分かってくれないのかといういらだちからつぶやいてしまったようだ。差別する意図はなかった」と説明した。医師はその日のうちに家族に謝罪し、院長から厳重注意を受けた。
ENDS
////////////////////////////////////

The Sankei via Yahoo:

搬送女児のブラジル人父に医師が「くそ、死ね」
産経新聞 1月28日(水)7時55分配信
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20150128-00000114-san-soci

静岡県の磐田市立総合病院で昨年12月、呼吸器内科の20代の男性医師が、救急搬送されてきた女児に付き添っていたブラジル人の父親に「くそ、死ね」などと暴言を吐いていたことが27日、病院への取材で分かった。病院側は事実関係を認め、「男性に事情を説明して謝罪したい」としている。

病院側によると、昨年12月24日未明、同県菊川市に住む女児(6)が足の不調を訴え、同病院に運び込まれた。当直医だった男性医師が診察し緊急を要しないと判断、付き添いの父親に診察時間内に来るよう指示した。だが、父親は納得せずに口論となり、その中で男性医師が「死ね」などと発言したという。

男性医師は「片言の日本語でコミュニケーションがうまく取れず、腹が立ってつぶやいてしまった」などと話しているという。

男性医師の暴言をめぐっては、動画投稿サイト「ユーチューブ」にやり取りを記録した動画2本が配信され、インターネット上で話題になった。暴言の場面はないが、男性医師が「小児科に行け」と語気荒く指示する姿が記録されている。

同病院によると、男性医師は病院長から厳重注意を受けた。同病院医事課の担当者は「医者として不適切。再発防止に向けて教育を徹底したい」と話した。

ENDS

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

Others.

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

ブラジル人が娘を病院へ連れて行き日本人医師が”クソ 死ね”と発言して問題に

日本在住のあるブラジル人男性が娘の容体が悪化したために病院へ
日本人医師が患者に向かって”クソ 死ね”と発言したことがネット界を騒がせている
これは絶対あかんぞ!

静岡県の磐田市に住むあるブラジル人男性が22日に2つの動画を自身のFACEBOOKで公開し、病院と医師たちを訴えるとコメントした

1つ目のビデオ

Medico Japones Humilha Filha de Brasileiro(日本人医師がブラジル人の娘を侮辱、クソ死ねと発言)
というタイトルでアップされた動画はブラジル人男性が通訳に”医者が患者に向かいなんと発言したか?”を確認する場面から始まっている

動画の中では問題の”クソ 死ね”発言の瞬間は映ってはいないが、医師たちが皆頭を下げて謝罪している様子がうかがえる

このブラジル人男性は牧師である
ある夜礼拝から帰る途中に娘(6歳)の容体が悪くなり、救急車でこの病院に搬送

私たちはとても雑に扱われ、差別された。これは偏見である。真夜中2時に訪れたが帰るよう要求され、他で診察してくれる病院を紹介して欲しいと頼んだがそれも聞き入れてくれなかった

動画の中では娘の体中から内出血のような症状が確認できる

その後他の病院へ連れて行き感染症と内出血により入院
3週間後に容体は回復したものの、診察した医師によるともう少し遅ければ命を落としていた可能性もあったとのこと

2つ目のビデオ

今回なぜ私がこの件をブログに書こうかと思ったか?
実は私もかつてブラジル人の通訳で同行した際に、まさしくここと同じ病院で同様の扱いを受けたからである!
某掲示板では既に病院名や医師名までもが特定されているようです
私の場合は女性医師でしたが、私は後日病院へ抗議の電話を入れ女性医師にちゃんと謝罪させました
我々の命と健康を救ってくれるお医者様は偉大ですが、横柄な態度は許せません!
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.)

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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

Khaosod (Thailand): Taxi Association Condemns ‘No Japanese Passengers’ Sign

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s something for the Shoe on the Other Foot Dept.: A “No Japanese Passengers” taxi in Thailand, refusing to take all “Japanese” passengers. There’s even a sign (courtesy of Khaosod English):

ThailtaxiJapaneseOnly012115

Naturally, Debito.org condemns all exclusionism of this type, and encourages people to challenge it and have these signs and rules repealed.  We have devoted much cyberspace to recording and archiving the converse, “Japanese Only” signs that exclude all “foreigners” (that unfortunately have gone largely unchallenged in Japan), not to mention the occasional “Japanese Only” establishment run for Japanese clientele outside of Japan (that excludes all “foreigners” in their own country, natch).

What’s important is how swift and decisive the challenge from society is, and whether it is effective.  In the Thai taxi case below, according to media, the taxi driver (rightly) lost his license to do business at the airport, and quite a furore happened both online and in print media denouncing this act as wrong-headed, even racist.  Good.  A similar furore also happened when a hotel in India had “Japanese Only” rules (the Indian authorities did not brook this kind of discrimination either).

Now, if only the Japanese authorities would be so decisive about this kind of exclusionism in Japan (as Debito.org has demonstrated over these past twenty years, they generally aren’t; they even deny racial discrimination ever happens in Japan, quite counterproductively).

Of course, some hay has been made about this Thai taxi on Japanese social media, with rightly-deserved (but unironic) condemnations of the “discrimination” against Japanese overseas.

One last point:  Koki Aki, the Japanese gentleman who set this issue in motion by complaining online after being ripped off by a Thai cabbie (prompting the cabbie to exclude), subsequently defended himself against trolls who said he must not like Thailand:  “I criticize Thailand, but I don’t hate Thailand.”  Well put.  Now, if only other debaters in Japan’s debate arenas would be so cognizant.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Taxi Association Condemns ‘No Japanese Passengers’ Sign
Khaosod English
21 January 2015, Last update at 12:17:00 GMT
http://www.khaosodenglish.com/detail.php?newsid=1421819098
Courtesy of MS and SH

BANGKOK — A taxi association at Bangkok’s international airport has condemned a cabbie who is reportedly refusing to take Japanese passengers, one day after a Japanese man made headlines with his rant against a driver who refused to turn on his meter at the airport.

A photo widely shared on social media this morning shows a sign posted on a taxi window in English, Japanese, and Thai. The Thai text reads: “No picking up of Japanese passengers.”

The notice ends with the text, “From: Association of Suvarnabhumi Airport’s Taxi Drivers.”

The photo surfaced a day after airport authorities fined a taxi driver 1,000 baht and banned him from picking up passengers at Suvarnabhumi Airport for trying to overcharge a Japanese man. The punishment was carried out after the Japanese man’s harsh rebuke of the cab driver, who reportedly demanded a flat-rate of 700 baht for a ride to Bangkok’s Saphan Kwai district, went viral on social media.

However, Sadit Jaitiang, director of Association of Suvarnabhumi Airport’s Taxi Drivers, told Khaosod in a phone interview that he had nothing to do with the notice, and only found out about the sign from social media today.

“I have not seen the sign with my own eyes, but I have seen photos of it. Let me stress that the Association is not related to such notice in any way,” Sadit said. “Taxi drivers cannot be picky. We cannot choose to take or refuse passengers of certain nationalities. If we do that, we won’t have any money. We have to take care of our families.”

Sadit said he is looking into who is responsible for sign, and will hold that person accountable if he or she is a member of the airport taxi association.

“As the director of the Association, I condemn this action. The Association wholeheartedly disagrees with it. We are working to find out which driver put up the sign. If we discover that one of our members indeed put up the sign, that person will be held responsible,” Sadit said.

Hundreds of Thai internet users have vented anger at the “No Japanese” sign, with some accusing the taxi driver of racism, discrimination, and refusing to obey the regulation. Others have jokingly commented that the driver should stop using a Japanese car.

ENDS

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Online Complaint Prompts Ban of BKK Airport Cab Driver
Khaosod English
20 January 2015, Last update at 15:48:00 GMT
http://www.khaosodenglish.com/detail.php?newsid=1421744138

BANGKOK — A taxi driver has been suspended from picking up passengers at Bangkok’s international airport after a Japanese tourist’s complaint about the driver’s refusal to use a meter went viral on social media.

Koki Aki posted on Facebook, in Japanese and Thai, on Sunday that the cab driver assigned to him at Suvarnabhumi Airport refused to use a meter and demanded a flat-rate of 700 baht for a ride to Saphan Kwai district in Bangkok.

Aware that a usual fare for the trip would not cost more than 350 baht, Koki reportedly asked the driver to use the meter, but the driver refused. Koki said he complained to the staff managing the airport’s taxi kiosk system, but was told that it was normal for passengers to negotiate fares with drivers for a long distance trip.

Airport staff say they instructed Aki to file a formal complaint, but that he declined to do so. However, Aki wrote in his Facebook post that it was he who requested to file a complaint, only to be ignored by the staff who “acted like they don’t care about my concern and don’t want to do their job.”

“This is the international airport of Thailand, and this is the place to take cabs from the airport, but there are even scams here,” Aki wrote. “They don’t care about the passengers at all. What can we foreigners do?”

Aki’s complaint came at a time when many Bangkokians have been airing grievances about taxi drivers who refuse to pick up them up in downtown Bangkok, preferring to take tourists who can be duped into paying extortionate fares. Tapping into this grief, Aki’s Facebook status soon went viral on Thai social media accounts, garnering more than 15,500 “shares.”

Prapon Pattamakijsakul, the director of Suvarnabhumi Airport, said he has already launched an investigation into the incident and punished the taxi driver who tried to overcharge the Japanese tourist.

According to Prapon, the driver, Chaiyan Charoensopha, has been stripped of his license to pick up passengers at Suvarnabhumi Airport’s taxi queue, in accordance with the airport’s regulation and penalty codes.

“Taxi drivers must always use their meters in their service,” Prapon said, adding that passengers who encounter any problems should keep the tickets issued by the taxi kiosks as evidence for filing complaints to officials. Complaints can be filed by calling 02-132-9199 at any time of day, he said.

Prapon also told reporters that there are 35 complaints about taxis at Suvarnabhumi Airport on average per month, which amounts to 0.01 per cent of all rides.

“Nevertheless, if the airport authorities investigate these complaints and discover that the drivers are guilty, we punish every one of them strictly without any exception,” Prapon said. “Therefore, the airport would like to ask everyone to file a complaint if they ever see a taxi driver behaving inappropriately, such as refusing to use meters, being rude, or refusing to take passengers.”

Teerapong Rodprasert, director of the Department of Land Transport, said Chaiyan, the taxi driver, confessed to the allegation and was fined 1,000 baht for violating the department’s taxi regulation.

“We didn’t suspend his driving license because he committed the offence for the first time,” Teerapong said. “So we recorded his wrongdoing into the database and sent him to participate in a lecture about service mentality for four hours.”

After his complaint was publicized by a number of Thai media outlets, Aki wrote yesterday that he was “very surprised” to see such a reaction. He explained in another Facebook post that he has been regularly visiting Thailand for the last 10 years and even knows how to write in Thai.

“Many Thais sent messages to my inbox … Most of the comments say “I apologize on behalf of my fellow Thai,” or “Please don’t forget that not all Thais are bad,”” Aki wrote. “These comments, I feel that they are comments from the Thai people with sincere hearts. I am very glad to hear them. I don’t want you to misunderstand me. I criticize Thailand, but I don’t hate Thailand.”

ENDS
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BTW, more on the case and who Koki Aki is (somebody with quite a lot of experience in Thailand) courtesy of the Bangkok Post at http://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-from-news/458379/airport-complaint-gets-results.

My Japan Times JBC 83 Jan 1, 2015: “Hate, Muzzle and Poll”: Debito’s Annual Top Ten List of Human Rights News Events for 2014

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

A TOP TEN FOR 2014
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
JUST BE CAUSE Column 83 for the Japan Times Community Page
Published January 1, 2015 (version with links to sources)

Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/01/01/issues/hate-muzzle-poll-top-10-issues-2014/

 | 

Hate, muzzle and poll: a top 10 of issues for 2014

BY DEBITO ARUDOU, The Japan Times, January 1, 2015

As is tradition for JBC, it’s time to recap the top 10 human rights news events affecting non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan last year. In ascending order:

10) Warmonger Ishihara loses seat

This newspaper has talked about Shintaro Ishihara’s unsubtle bigotry (particularly towards Japan’s NJ residents) numerous times (e.g. “If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on,” JBC, Nov. 6, 2012). All the while, we gritted our teeth as he won re-election repeatedly to the National Diet and the Tokyo governorship.

However, in a move that can only be put down to hubris, Ishihara resigned his gubernatorial bully pulpit in 2012 to shepherd a lunatic-right fringe party into the Diet. But in December he was voted out, drawing the curtain on nearly five decades of political theater.

About time. He admitted last month that he wanted “to fight a war with China and win” by attempting to buy three of the disputed Senkaku islets (and entangling the previous left-leaning government in the imbroglio). Fortunately the conflict hasn’t come to blows, but Ishihara has done more than anyone over the past 15 years to embolden Japan’s xenophobic right (by fashioning foreigner-bashing into viable political capital) and undo Japan’s postwar liberalism and pacifism.

Good riddance. May we never see your like again. Unfortunately, I doubt that.

9) Mori bashes Japan’s athletes

Japan apparently underperformed at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics (no wonder, given the unnecessary pressure Japanese society puts on its athletes) and somebody just had to grumble about it — only this time in a racialized way.

Chair of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics committee Yoshiro Mori (himself remembered for his abysmal performance as prime minister from 2000 to 2001) criticized the performance of Japanese figure skaters Chris and Cathy Reed: “They live in America. Because they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team.” This was factually wrong to begin with, since through their Japanese mother, the Reeds have always had Japanese citizenship. But the insinuation that they weren’t good enough because they weren’t Japanese enough is dreadfully unsportsmanlike, and contravenes the Olympic charter on racism.

Mori incurred significant international criticism for this, but there were no retractions or resignations. And it isn’t the first time the stigmatization of foreignness has surfaced in Mori’s milieu. Since 2005 he has headed the Japan Rugby Football Union, which after the 2011 Rugby World Cup criticized the underperforming Japan team for having “too many foreign-born players” (including naturalized Japanese citizens). The 2012 roster was then purged of most “foreigners.” Yet despite these shenanigans, Japan will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup right before the Tokyo Olympics.

8) ‘Points system’ visa revamp

In a delicious example of JBC SITYS (“see, I told you so”), Japan’s meritocratic Points-based Preferential Treatment for Highly Skilled Foreigners visa failed miserably in 2013, with only 700 people having even applied for the available 2,000 slots six months into the program.

JBC said its requirements were far too strict when it was first announced, predicting it would fail (see last year’s top 10, and “Japan’s revolving door immigration policy hard-wired to fail,” JBC, March 6, 2012). Policymakers arrogantly presumed that NJ are beating down the door to work in Japan under any circumstances (not likely, after Japan’s two economic “lost decades”), and gave few “points” to those who learned Japanese or attended Japanese universities. Fact is, they never really wanted people who “knew” Japan all that well.

But by now even those who do cursory research know greater opportunities lie elsewhere: Japan is a land of deflation and real falling wages, with little protection against discrimination, and real structural impediments to settling permanently and prospering in Japanese society.

So did the government learn from this policy failure? Yes, some points requirements were revamped, but the most significant change was cosmetic: The online info site contains an illustration depicting potential applicants as predominantly white Westerners. So much for the meritocracy: The melanin-rich need not apply.

Good luck with the reboot, but Japan is becoming an even harder sell due to the higher-ranking issues on our countdown.

7) Ruling in Suraj death case

This is the third time the case of Ghanaian national Abubakar Awadu Suraj has made this top 10, because it demonstrates how NJ can be brutally killed in police custody without anyone taking responsibility.

After Suraj was asphyxiated while physically restrained during deportation in 2010, for years his kin unsuccessfully sought criminal prosecutions. Last March, however, the Tokyo District Court ruled that immigration officials were responsible for using “illegal” excessive force, and ordered the government to pay ¥5 million to Suraj’s widow and mother.

The case is currently being appealed to the Tokyo High Court. But the lesson remains that in Japan, due to insufficient oversight over Immigration Bureau officials (as reported in United Nations and Amnesty International reports; four NJ have died in Immigration custody since October 2013), an overstayed visa can become a capital offense.

6) Muslims compensated for leak

In another landmark move by the Tokyo District Court, last January the National Police Agency was ordered to compensate several Muslim residents and their Japanese families, whom they had spied upon as suspected terrorists. Although this is good news (clearly noncitizens are entitled to the same right to privacy as citizens), the act of spying in itself was not penalized, but rather the police’s inability to manage their intelligence properly, letting the information leak to the public.

Also not ruled upon was the illegality of the investigation itself, and the latent discrimination behind it. Instead, the court called the spying unavoidable considering the need to prevent international terrorism — thus giving carte blanche to the police to engage in racial profiling.

5) ‘Japanese only’ saga

If this were my own personal top 10, this would top the list, as it marks a major shift in Japan’s narrative on racial discrimination (the subject of my Ph.D. last year). As described elsewhere (“J.League and media must show red card to racism,” JBC, March 12, 2014), the Japanese government and media seem to have an allergy when it comes to calling discrimination due to physical appearance “discrimination by race” (jinshu sabetsu), depicting it instead as discrimination by nationality, ethnicity, “descent,” etc. Racism happens in other countries, not here, the narrative goes, because Japan is so homogeneous that it has no race issues.

But when Urawa Reds soccer fans last March put up a “Japanese only” banner at an entrance to the stands at its stadium, the debate turned out differently. Despite some initial media prevarication about whether or not this banner was “racist,” J.League chair Mitsuru Murai quickly called it out as racial discrimination and took punitive action against both the fans and the team.

More importantly, Murai said that victims’ perception of the banner was more important than the perpetrators’ intent behind it. This opened the doors for debate about jinshu sabetsu more effectively than the entire decade of proceedings in the “Japanese only” Otaru onsen case that I was involved in (where behavior was ruled as “racial discrimination” by the judiciary as far back as 2002). All of this means that well into the 21st century, Japan finally has a precedent of domestic discourse on racism that cannot be ignored.

4) Signs Japan may enforce Hague

Last year’s top 10 noted that Japan would join an international pact that says international children abducted by a family member from their habitual country of residence after divorce should be repatriated. However, JBC doubted it would be properly enforced, in light of a propagandist Foreign Ministry pamphlet arguing that signing the Hague Convention was Japan’s means to force foreigners to send more Japanese children home (“Biased pamphlet bodes ill for left-behind parents,” JBC, Oct. 8). Furthermore, with divorces between Japanese citizens commonly resulting in one parent losing all access to the children, what hope would foreigners have?

Fortunately, last year there were some positive steps, with some children abducted to Japan being returned overseas. Government-sponsored mediation resulted in a voluntary return, and a court ruling ordered a repatriation (the case is on appeal).

However, the Hague treaty requires involuntary court-ordered returns, and while Japan has received children under its new signatory status, it has not as yet sent any back. Further, filing for return and/or access in Japan under the Hague is arduous, with processes not required in other signatory countries.

Nevertheless, this is a step in the right direction, and JBC hopes that respect for habitual residence continues even after international media attention on Japan has waned.

3) Ruling on welfare confuses

Last July another court case mentioned in previous top 10s concluded, with an 82-year-old Zainichi Chinese who has spent her whole life in Japan being denied social-welfare benefits for low-income residents (seikatsu hogo). The Supreme Court overturned a Fukuoka High Court ruling that NJ had “quasi-rights” to assistance, saying that only nationals had a “guaranteed right” (kenri).

People were confused. Although the media portrayed this as a denial of welfare to NJ, labor union activist Louis Carlet called it a reaffirmation of the status quo — meaning there was no NJ ineligibility, just no automatic eligibility. Also, several bureaucratic agencies stated that NJ would qualify for assistance as before.

It didn’t matter. Japan’s xenophobic right soon capitalized on this phraseology, with Ishihara’s Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations) in August announcing policies “based on the ruling” that explicitly denied welfare to NJ. In December, in another act of outright meanness, Jisedai made NJ welfare issues one of their party platforms. One of their advertisements featured an animated pig, representing the allegedly “taboo topic” of NJ (somehow) receiving “eight times the benefits of Japanese citizens,” being grotesquely sliced in half.

You read that right. But it makes sense when you consider how normalized hate speech has become in Japan.

2) The rise and rise of hate speech

Last year’s list noted how Japan’s hate speech had turned murderous, with some even advocating the killing of Koreans in Japan. In 2014, Japanese rightists celebrated Hitler’s 125th birthday in Tokyo by parading swastika banners next to the Rising Sun flag. Media reported hate speech protests spreading to smaller cities around Japan, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered little more than lukewarm condemnations of what is essentially his xenophobic power base. Even opportunistic foreigners joined the chorus, with Henry Scott Stokes and Tony “Texas Daddy” Marano (neither of whom can read the Japanese articles written under their name) topping up their retirement bank accounts with revisionist writings.

That said, last year also saw rising counterprotests. Ordinary people began showing up at hate rallies waving “No to racism” banners and shouting the haters down. The United Nations issued very strong condemnations and called for a law against hate speech. Even Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto confronted Makoto Sakurai, the then-leader of hate group Zaitokukai (which, despite Japan’s top cop feigning ignorance of the group, was added to a National Police Agency watch list as a threat to law and order last year).

Unfortunately, most protesters have taken the tack of crying “Don’t shame us Japanese” rather than the more empowering “NJ are our neighbors who have equal rights with us.” Sadly, the possibility of equality ever becoming a reality looked even further away as 2014 drew to a close:

1) Abe re-election and secrets law

With his third electoral victory in December, Abe got a renewed mandate to carry out his policies. These are ostensibly to revitalize the economy, but more importantly to enforce patriotism, revive Japan’s mysticism, sanitize Japan’s history and undo its peace Constitution to allow for remilitarization (“Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.,” JBC, Nov. 6, 2013).

Most sinister of all his policies is the state secrets law, which took effect last month, with harsh criminal penalties in place for anyone “leaking” any of 460,000 potential state secrets. Given that the process for deciding what’s a secret is itself secret, this law will further intimidate a self-censoring Japanese media into double-guessing itself into even deeper silence.

These misgivings have been covered extensively elsewhere. But particularly germane for JBC is how, according to Kyodo (Dec. 8), the Abe Cabinet has warned government offices that Japanese who have studied or worked abroad are a higher leak risk. That means the government can now justifiably purge all “foreign” intellectual or social influences from the upper echelons of power.

How will this state-sponsored xenophobia, which now views anything “foreign” as a security threat, affect Japan’s policymakers, especially when so many Japanese bureaucrats and politicians (even Abe himself) have studied abroad? Dunno. But the state secrets law will certainly undermine Japan’s decades of “internationalization,” globalization and participation in the world community — in ways never seen in postwar Japan.


Bubbling under:

a) Jisedai no To’s xenophobic platform fails to inspire, and the party loses most of its seats in December’s election.

b) Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Japan’s biggest drugmaker, appoints Christophe Weber as president despite the Takeda family’s xenophobic objections.

c) Media pressure forces Konsho Gakuen cooking college to (officially) repeal its “Japanese only” admissions process (despite it being in place since 1976, and Saitama Prefecture knowing about it since 2012).

d) All Nippon Airways (ANA) uses racist “big-nosed white guy” advertisement to promote “Japan’s new image” as Haneda airport vies to be a hub for Asian traffic (“Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad,” JBC, Jan. 24, 2014).

e) Despite NJ being listed on resident registries (jūmin kihon daichō) since 2012, media reports continue to avoid counting NJ as part of Japan’s official population.

ENDS

Grauniad: Police in Japan place anti-Korean extremist group Zaitokukai on watchlist; good news, if enforced

mytest

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Hi Blog. Some interesting news here. According to the Grauniad (article below), hate group Zaitokukai (which has been part of a group publicly advocating the killing of Japan’s generational Korean residents, the Zainichi) has been placed on a National Police Agency “watchlist” as a threat to law and order.

That is good news.  However, I wonder if it will deter Zaitokukai’s bullying activities, where they can verbally abuse, knock down, and even punch (watch the video to the end) an old man who counterdemonstrates against them:

Where were the police then?  (Or then? Or then? Or then? Or then? Or then? Or within the movie Yasukuni?)

As Debito.org has argued before, the Japanese police have a soft touch for extreme-rightists, but take a hard line against extreme(?) leftists.  So placing this particular group on a watch list is a good thing.  As having laws against violence and threats to law and order is a good thing.  Alas, if those laws are not enforced by Japan’s boys in blue, that makes little difference.  We will have to wait and see whether we’ll see a softening of Zaitokukai’s rhetoric or Sakurai Makoto’s bullying activities.

Meanwhile, according to the Mainichi Shinbun at the very bottom, local governments (as opposed to the foot-dragging PM Abe Cabinet) are considering laws against hate speech (well, they’re passing motions calling for one, anyway).  That’s good too, considering that not long ago they were actually passing panicky resolutions against allowing Permanent Residents (particularly those same Zainichi) the right to vote in local elections.  Methinks that if the world (e.g., the United Nations) wasn’t making an issue of Japan’s rising hate speech (what with the approaching 2020 Tokyo Olympics and all), this would probably not be happening.  In other words, the evidence suggests that it’s less an issue of seeing the Zainichi as fellow residents and human beings deserving equal rights, more an issue of Japan avoiding international embarrassment.  I would love to be proven wrong on this, but the former is a much more sustainable push than the latter.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Police in Japan place anti-Korean extremist group Zaitokukai on watchlist
Ultra-nationalist group, which claims to have 15,000 members, deemed a threat to law and order
By Justin McCurry in Tokyo
The Guardian, Thursday 4 December 2014 10.29 EST
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/04/police-japan-rightwing-anti-korean-extremist-group-zaitokukai-watchlist

Police in Japan have placed a rightwing extremist group on its watchlist for the first time amid growing international pressure to crack down on a rise in hate speech against the country’s Korean community.

In its annual security report published this week, the National Police Agency said Zaitokukai, an ultra-nationalist group that claims it has 15,000 members, should be considered a potential threat to law and order.

Zaitokukai calls for the end to welfare and other “privileges” afforded to about half a million non-naturalised members of Japan’s ethnic Korean community, including the descendants of labourers brought over from the Korean peninsula to work in mines and factories before and during the second world war.

It frequently holds demonstrations, often in parts of cities such as Tokyo and Osaka with large Korean populations. Its supporters have described ethnic Koreans as “criminals” and “cockroaches” and called for them to be killed. Police said Zaitokukai and other far-right groups had held more than 100 rallies in the first 10 months of this year.

The police agency report – which usually targets members of Japan’s vast network of yakuza gangs – warned Zaitokukai was a potential threat to the public due to its “extreme nationalist and xenophobic” ideology.

Zaitokukai’s inclusion in the security watch list is unprecedented and comes months after Eriko Yamatani, who as minister for public security is Japan’s most senior police official, failed to publicly condemn the group.

Yamatani was invited to distance herself from Zaitokukai this October after a 2009 photograph emerged of her with Shigeo Masuki, then a senior member of the group. She told journalists she did not recall the photograph being taken, adding that it was not appropriate to comment on the policies of individual groups.

“Japan has a long history of placing great value on the idea of harmony and respecting the rights of everyone,” she said.

In July, a court in Osaka ruled that a Zaitokukai demonstration held near a school in Kyoto with links to a North Korean residents group amounted to racial discrimination.

In October, Osaka’s mayor, Toru Hashimoto, confronted Zaitokukai’s then leader, Makoto Sakurai, during a one-on-one debate, labelling him and his supporters racists who were not welcome in the city. The debate ended after just a few minutes, with both men hurling insults at each other and, at one point, appearing on the verge of physical violence.

The UN committee on the elimination of racial discrimination has called on Japan to address hate speech and incitement to racist violence during demonstrations, and to punish public officials and politicians who disseminate hate speech. This week South Korea’s national assembly adopted a resolution urging Japan to take similar measures.

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

ヘイトスピーチ:法規制求める意見書 地方議会続々採択

毎日新聞 2014年12月20日 15時00分

 http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20141220k0000e040211000c.html, courtesy of BS.

 社会問題化しているヘイトスピーチについて、国による法規制などを求める意見書の採択が地方議会で相次いでいる。背景には、在日コリアンへのヘイトスピーチを人種差別と認めた判断が確定した今月9日の最高裁決定があり、19日に可決された3自治体の意見書にはいずれも決定の内容が盛り込まれた。意見書に拘束力はないが、差別や偏見をあおる行為に「NO」を表明する動きが全国で広がり始めた。

「2020年には東京五輪・パラリンピックが開催されるが、ヘイトスピーチを放置することは、国際社会における我が国への信頼を失うことにもなりかねない。法整備を速やかに行うことを強く求める」

さいたま市議会は19日、こう記された意見書案を全会一致で可決した。多文化共生政策に取り組んできた高柳俊哉議員(民主)は「市内ではJリーグのサポーターが差別的な横断幕を掲げる問題もあった。住民に一番近い立場の議会から要望を国に伝えることは意義がある」と話す。

堺市議会と鳥取県議会も同日、国に法整備などを求める意見書を可決。採択に向けた活動を進めてきた同市議会の山口典子議員(無所属)は「人種差別を禁止する法律を持たない先進国などありえない。排外主義団体が公共施設を使って活動していることにも憤りを感じる」と語る。

国に対策を促す地方議会の意見書を巡っては、東京・国立(くにたち)市議会が今年9月に全国で初めて可決。国連の人種差別撤廃委員会が8月に政府による法規制を日本に勧告した影響とみられ、名古屋市と奈良県議会も9月議会で採択した。

流れを後押ししたのが「在日特権を許さない市民の会」(在特会)の街頭宣伝活動を人種差別と認め、在特会側に約1200万円の賠償を命じた1、2審判決が確定した最高裁決定で、この12月議会では長野県▽福岡県▽京都府向日(むこう)市▽埼玉県宮代(みやしろ)町▽東京都東村山市▽同葛飾区−−などで可決された。

ヘイトスピーチの問題に詳しい師岡康子弁護士は「住民生活に密着した地方が国に毅然(きぜん)と態度表明をする意味は大きい。地方独自の取り組みを始めているところもあり、国は速やかに対策に取り組むべきだ」と指摘する。【小泉大士】

ENDS

“Japanese Only” nightclubs “W” in Nagoya and newly-opening “CLUB Leopard” in Hiroshima

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.  Two more places to add to the roster of “Japanese Only” Exclusionary Establishments in Japan, and this time, they are places that Japan’s youth frequent:  nightclubs (nothing like catching them when they’re young and possibly more open-minded…)

1) Nightclub “W”
名古屋市中区栄3-10-13 Wビル 6F&7F
TEL 052-242-5705
IDX グループ 株式会社IDXのHP
Official FaceBookページ http://www.facebook.com/nagoya.w
Twitterアカウント @w_052

It’s a pretty big place:
NagoyaWfront
Courtesy http://w-nagoya.com/access

and it has this sign, courtesy of SM and MS, as of October 25, 2014:
BarWNagoyaJapaneseonlyOct252014

Funny, that, because one of the the first images that currently greets you when you go to their webpage (http://w-nagoya.com) is this:
clubwnagoyaanimalnight112814

SM adds: Hello Debito, on MS’s wall you asked for a bit of background re: this photo I had posted on my own wall today. Last night I was in downtown Nagoya (Sakae) and I saw this sign posted at the entrance of a large dance club called “W.” There was a very buff bouncer beside the sign. I approached him and asked if I’d be allowed to go in. He apologized and said no. I asked if it was because of dress code or because I was foreign. (I was in a nice outfit, having gone out for dinner with my husband earlier.) He said it was because I was foreign. I asked why this was a policy. He said it was the rule of management, and he had to enforce it. I took some photos (although he had said no photos allowed.) He didn’t try to stop me from taking the photos, we said good night, and went on our way.

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

2) CLUB Leopard in Hiroshima (opening December 5)

住所 広島市中区流川町7-6
第五白菱ビルB1F TEL 082-569-7777
It also has a pretty impressive website:
http://clubleopard.jphttps://www.facebook.com/pages/CLUB-Leopard/650751705033353

And an equally impressive set of rules to follow, courtesy of GH:

CLUBLeopardNov2014
Look at the very bottom for the “DO NOT ENTER NON-JAPANESE”.
(Love how they render a “foreigner” in silhouette: That tuft of hair, so “foreign”! Ironic given how much time you see the J-guys who frequent nightclubs spend on THEIR hair…)

Interestingly enough, that set of rules has now been amended, according to their website as of today:
http://clubleopard.jp/rule/
CLUBLeopardrevisedNov2014

That’ll keep out those darn pickpockets!

So will they, or won’t they, let in NJ patrons? Somebody in Hiroshima, go on down and check out DJ Kaori (of American Idol fame) on December 6!  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE NOVEMBER 25, 2014:

As of November 17, the “Japanese Only” restriction is on CLUB Leopard’s advertising trucks, courtesy of GH:

CLUBLeopardtrucksidead111714

What a fun-sounding place.  Advertising yourself so prominently based upon what you can’t do when you’re there!

Japan Procter & Gamble’s racialized laundry detergent ad: “Cinderella and the Nose Ballroom Dance”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Readers VW and TO have just submitted the following ad campaign from P&G Japan (as in Procter & Gamble), with the following comment:

==================================
Dear Dr. Arudou, Thank you for your continued work raising awareness on issues of race here in Japan.

Have you seen this latest ad campaign for Bold detergent?

Full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjFsvkm7pws
Campaign website: http://boldbutoukai.com/

There’s also a mini, 20 second ad on YouTube that is being promoted right now when people load other, unrelated videos (which is how I ran across this). I hope it may be of interest to you or your readers.
==================================

Thank you. First, let’s embed the ad with stills:

Synopsis: In a 3 1/2-minute retelling of the Cinderella story, a flower-sniffing Prince Charming announces to his Queen mother that he wants to find a woman to be his bride (hanayome).

P&GPrinceQueenestablishshot

This announcement is sent throughout the land that there will be a royal ball (butoukai) to accomplish this, and a message arrives at Cinderella’s home, where she expresses a wish to go.

P&Gcinderellaopening

But her nasty stepsisters and stepmother saddle her with a heap of laundry (done in a modern Japanese-style washing machine) and go instead.

P&Gcinderellawashingmachine

Fortunately, the Fairy Godmother comes by with Bold detergent in a gel form, which enables her not only to escape the drudgery and go to the ball, but also become perfumed, in a way that makes her nose grow longer and twitchy.

P&GCinderellanosetwitch P&GCinderellanoserainbow

Cut to the evening gala, where all the women are trying to make their noses longer.

P&Gnoselengthen3 P&Gnoselengthen2 P&Gnoselengthen1

When Prince Charming asks why, she says that PC wanted a nose (hana) ball. No, says PC, he was referring to flowers (hana).

P&Gprincecharmingflower

No matter, in walks Cinderella, and her fragrant clothes entrance the Prince and make their noses mutually longer and flappier.

P&Gprincecharmingnosegrow

P&Gcinderellaprincecharmingdance

They have their flappy nose dance until midnight, when suddenly she has to leave (no carriage, but a mama-chari bicycle).  But she leaves behind a fragrant article of clothing which the Prince finds and flaps his nose at.

P&Gprincecharmingbeforesniff P&Gprincecharmingaftersniff

At the end of the ad, the Prince commands his kingdom to “Find Cinderella!!” And now the viewer is left with the question: “Is this a chance for you also to become Cinderella!?”

P&Gfindcinderella

And an accented voiceover tells the viewer to go to P&G’s website for more (complete with exaggerated “Western” facial features, and a Cinderella with a flappy nose).

P&Gcinderellawebsitecampaign

COMMENT:  It’s a clever ad.  Procter & Gamble Japan clearly spent a lot of money on it, with elaborate costumes and many extras, all very milk-white and European, and most quite well trained (especially the Queen) in speaking phonetic Japanese without obnoxious katakana subtitles (Cinderella herself speaks without accent, although the transitional voice-overs have a Japanese native narrator speaking in a foreignized accent).  And the reason I say it’s clever is because it’s making clever puns with flower/nose and retelling the old tale quite afresh (the product itself is very much subsumed to the plot-line).

But it’s still a racialized telling of the tale, what with those damned elongated and flappy noses.  Debito.org has brought up other examples of racialized marketing in Japan (see archive at http://www.debito.org/?p=12077), particularly in terms of nose imagery, and how obnoxious it can get:

nagasakitabinetto ANAHanedabignose vibesumadara3 toshiba2013suipanda6 toshiba2013suipanda1 MandomAd2 gaijinmask082112 090813mrjamesfull

After ANA airlines got pretty badly stung for its “change the image of Japan” (into a long-nosed Caucasian Robert Redford lookalike) ad earlier this year, Toshiba got slapped for their racialized bread maker ad (see here), and McDonald’s Japan faced enough pressure that they terminated their “Mr. James” burger campaign early, one wonders whether Japan’s advertisers will ever learn their lesson that grounding their product in racialized stereotypes is pretty bad form.

Imagine if you will some overseas company marketing an “Asian” product that was so delicious, it made your incisors go all “Asian buck teeth” reaching out to eat it?  No doubt Japan’s patrol of internet PC police would soon start howling racism and lobbying the company (and Japan’s missions abroad) to send out protests and orders to withdraw the ad campaign.  People making fun of Asian “slanted eyes” has been criticized before, and withdrawn with apologies.

So what about this?  What do Debito.org Readers think?  Do you think Procter & Gamble HQ in the US would approve of this?

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Times JBC 81, Nov 5 2014, “Does social change in Japan come from the top down or bottom up?”

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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Hello Blog.  Here’s my latest JT column  posted as a question, not an answer this time.  Any answers?  Please post in the Comments Section below and/or at the JT website.  Thanks as always for putting this column once again in the Top Ten Most Read on the Japan Times online this month! Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
Does social change in Japan come from the top down or bottom up?
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
THE JAPAN TIMES, NOV 5, 2014

Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/11/05/issues/social-change-japan-come-top-bottom/

This month I would like to take a break from my lecture style of column-writing to pose a question to readers. Seriously, I don’t have an answer to this, so I’d like your opinion: Does fundamental social change generally come from the top down or the bottom up?

By top down, I mean that governments and legal systems effect social change by legislating and rule-making. In other words, if leaders want to stop people doing something they consider unsavory, they make it illegal. This may occur with or without popular support, but the prototypical example would be legislating away a bad social habit (say, lax speed limits or unstandardized legal drinking ages) regardless of clear public approval.

By bottom up, I mean that social change arises from a critical mass of people putting pressure on their elected officials (and each other) to desist in something socially undesirable. Eventually this also results in new rules and legislation, but the impetus and momentum for change is at the grass-roots level, thanks to clear public support.

Either dynamic can work in Japan, of course. For top-down, I have seen many rules decided by decree. How about the steadily encroaching anti-smoking rules in public places? It’s no longer just train platforms; you can’t even have a lit cigarette on many Tokyo streets anymore. Some movements were instituted after government awareness-raising drives, like the nōshi wa hito no shi (“brain death is a person’s death”) campaign deployed in the 1990s to overcome apparently religious-based objections to organ donation.

These and many more examples of social engineering and official consensus-manufacturing have resulted in people changing their outward behavior, if not their outright belief in a previous system. (Who remembers that brain death was ever an issue?) And it happens pretty quickly (as in weeks or months), especially if these moves are backed up by criminal penalties. Remember when drunk driving was much less harshly punished? (I do, and thanks to Draconian penalties for even one glassful, we have the world’s only decent-tasting zero-alcohol beer.)

Bottom-up, however, takes a lot longer — years or decades — but it can be just as irresistible a social force. For example, I have seen the slow death of “old maid” bashing (remember “Christmas cakes” referring to women over age 25?), the loss of faith in overwork as proof of a person’s worth, and the stigmatization of power-based bullying (e.g., sexual and power harassment) to the point of achieving court victories. The progress of this genre of social change can be quite imperceptible, but when backed up by a media campaign after a social shock (such as a huge scandal or a horrific crime — stalking, for example), bottom-up change can happen much faster.

But these are relatively small fry. For really significant social changes, such as the abolition of racial discrimination and/or hate speech in Japan, both methods have been tried, and have failed.

Advocates (yes, including myself) have tried the top-down approach for decades, asking all levels of government and the bureaucracy to outlaw discrimination as blatant as “Japanese only” signs and rules. Their most common response is, “It’s too early; we have to change the public’s mind first.” For them, the bottom-up approach is the chicken before the egg.

But starting at the grass roots has been tried too. In fact, that’s where we started, working as hundreds of advocates for decades. I personally have spoken at hundreds of gatherings to thousands of people — even one-on-one to the discriminators themselves, calmly (yes, calmly) coaxing them to treat people with dignity and equality, as they themselves would want to be treated in a similar situation.

But in this case, the problem isn’t as simple as asking individuals to give up something like smoking on a train platform; this is an issue of excluders worrying aloud that “foreigners” are a threat to their cultural integrity in general, if not their business specifically. It may even be a matter of them saying, “I just don’t like those people, so sod you.”

Moreover, unaffected bystanders can be quite sympathetic to excluders who fear for their livelihoods (even if they are excluding a neighbor). Besides — cue vicious circle — there’s no law against them doing it. And then we return to the top-down approach: the egg before the chicken.

I admit that I lean towards the top-down approach. There are plenty of historical examples of bottom-up not working when it comes to the big changes. America’s Susan B. Anthony, for example, campaigned tirelessly at the grass-roots level for women’s suffrage throughout the 1800s but failed to get the vote in her lifetime. Or in Japan’s case, the foremost grass-roots movements in Japan right now — protests against the state secrets law, remilitarization and the restarting of nuclear reactors — are gaining little traction in the face of the government’s relentless top-downism.

Moreover, many of the great grassroots successes in history got lucky. Mahatma Gandhi’s grass-roots achievement of Indian independence was aided by the fact that the grip of the British Empire had been weakened by two world wars. Nelson Mandela was lucky not to meet the same fate as Steve Biko, and to see a more liberal South African government in his lifetime. Thus, change happened because leaders made sage decisions — and there is an enormous amount of top-down inherent in that.

Personally, I have witnessed significant social change — most notably, the flowering of America’s civil rights movements after 1964. Very much a grassroots effort, it still took more than a century for equal rights to be enforceably guaranteed by top-down policymaking and criminal penalties. But I remain convinced that the social change was top-down.

As a child growing up in New York state in the 1970s, I vividly remember African-American classmates (there were a significant number in my elementary schools) feeling empowered, even adopting the swagger and proud demeanor of hero boxer Muhammad Ali, without being accused of being “uppity Negroes.” Instead, there was enormous opprobrium from teachers and other influential people for anyone who dared, for example, use racist language, such as the N-word. Even observing that somebody might be “different” because they had different skin color was simply “not done” anymore.

Why? I believe the new top-down rules set the agenda and terms of debate in a more tolerant direction. You had to accept that the “old ways” were “backwards” and no longer appropriate.

Obviously, it wasn’t perfect, and there were plenty of holdouts, disobedients and overt racists in the American example. The U.S. was still two generations away from an African-American president, and to this day a huge number of minorities are disenfranchised just because they are minorities.

But back then it was made very clear that somebody was going to get it in the neck “from above” if there were any violations of the new narrative. That’s why as kids, our overt behavior and eventually our attitudes changed — maybe not immediately into good habits, but certainly away from reinforcing bad habits.

Of course, this is the American example, with limited application to Japan. Japanese society has very different attitudes towards the outward appearance of “difference” and expression of dissent. The national narratives of inclusivity and community construction are arguably polar opposite to America’s.

Even the power of the Japanese grass roots is purported to be different. Political science professor Jiro Yamaguchi recently wrote (“Perilous spirit of the times,” The Japan Times, Oct. 28) about Japan’s “deep-seated tendency of conformism”; fellow professor Koichi Nakano has described the business of governing Japan as an “elite-driven process rather than a society-driven process.” Some even argue that a traditional, unchanging world view is what makes Japanese into Japanese, so why would anyone expect any major change?

But, again, all societies have bad habits, and racial discrimination is a doozy. How could a more positive environment be created so that the children of immigrants (many of the latter of whom are here at the bidding of the Japanese government) and international marriages will not be treated as “foreign” and sometimes be denied equal treatment?

So I ask readers: On balance, is unequal treatment to be legislated away, with people catching up through the carrots and sticks of a new legal and social regime? Or is it something that people will cotton on to eventually, as they push for reforms because it just “makes sense” to treat people (especially fellow Japanese) equally?

Is a bad social habit to be thrown out the second-floor window, or patiently cajoled down the stairs and out the front door? Discuss.
==============================
Debito Arudou’s co-authored bilingual “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan” is available on Amazon as a paperback and e-book, see www.debito.org/handbook.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp
==============================

Two recent JT columns (domestic & international authors) revealing the damage done by PM Abe to Japan’s int’l image

mytest

eBooks, Books, and more from ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
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Hi Blog.  I’m hoping to finish off this metathread about Japan’s Right-Wing Swing soon, but good articles keep on coming (thanks to Debito.org Readers for pointing them out).

These two are from the JT, one from a long-time columnist (Hugh Cortazzi) who has written for decades about Japan with a diplomat’s charm.  But he’s recently been quite undiplomatic in tone when assessing the PM Abe Administration.  Excerpt:

==================================
Does right-wing extremism threaten Japan’s democracy?
BY HUGH CORTAZZI, THE JAPAN TIMES, OCT 31, 2014

Extreme nationalism is a threat to democratic institutions and values everywhere. Recent reports in the British media about the growing influence of right-wing extremists in Japan have caused deep concern among friends of Japan here.

On Oct. 22 it was reported that Sanae Takaichi, the minister for internal affairs, had given an enthusiastic endorsement of a book praising Adolf Hitler. The explanations and denials issued have been contradictory and unconvincing.

If any British minister were to say anything that even by implication supported a criminal who had been instrumental in instituting the Holocaust, there would be a public outcry and the minister concerned would be forced to resign.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s alleged statement in April that convicted war criminals were “martyrs” was regarded here as unacceptable. I wrote to the Japanese Embassy in London asking whether Abe had in fact made such a statement. I said that any such statement was highly offensive to British people whose relatives had suffered so much at the hands of some members of Imperial Japanese forces during World War II. As no reply to my letter was received, I have to assume that Abe had indeed made this remark.

On Oct. 18 it was reported that NHK, in a notices to journalists on its English-language services, had banned any references to the Nanking massacre and to the Japanese use of “comfort women,” the euphemism used for sex slaves.

NHK is supposed to be like the BBC and to be both politically neutral and objective. Under the direction of Katsuto Momii it seems to have been turned into a tool of the Japanese government. As professor Koichi Nakano has apparently said it looks “increasingly like a mirror of CCTV,” China’s state broadcaster.

There have been many reports here suggesting that Abe’s right-wing ministers want to rewrite history to provide academic support for their attempts to exculpate Japan’s wartime leaders.

Western historians, basing themselves on unimpeachable evidence, have no doubt about the atrocities committed by Japanese forces not only in Nanjing but elsewhere in China. That Chinese forces, nationalist and communist alike, also committed crimes against civilians is also true, but Japan was the aggressor and Chinese behavior was no excuse for the deliberate policies of oppression adopted by the Japanese high command.

There can be no doubt that members of the Japanese Army not only were responsible for many rapes but also forced women, not only Koreans, in occupied territories to become sex slaves.

The facts about the activities of the Japanese biological warfare unit 731 in Manchukuo are so horrific that its existence and experiments tend to be buried and, if possible, forgotten. This “amnesia” is at least in part due to American connivance; American investigators were told the results of the “experiments” in return for not pursuing the Japanese perpetrators.

The maltreatment, to use an understatement, of the civilian populations in occupied territories including Singapore cannot be denied except by the willfully blind. Nor can historical revisionists justify the way in which allied prisoners of war were mistreated.[…]

In the eyes of Japanese right-wing nationalists, the only crime committed by Japan’s military leaders was that they failed. The rightists lack ethical principles and are opposed to democratic institutions.[…]

It seems that Japan has reverted to one-party government. This could lead to autocracy and the infringement of human rights.

Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/10/31/commentary/japan-commentary/does-right-wing-extremism-threaten-japans-democracy/
==================================

Quite strong language, as I said, from a former ambassador to Japan. Now check this out, from a poli-sci professor at Housei University. It’s even stronger:

==================================
COMMENTARY / JAPAN
Perilous spirit of the times
BY JIRO YAMAGUCHI, THE JAPAN TIMES, OCT 28, 2014

Female lawmakers given ministerial posts in the reshuffle of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet last month in the hope that more women on the team would shore up popular support for his Cabinet have turned out to be liabilities. Two of them have resigned after being accused of breaking basic rules in the Public Offices Election Law while two others are under the spotlight for their suspected ties to ultra-rightist groups.

It is inexcusable for Cabinet ministers to provide financial and material benefits to voters in their home constituencies. Neither former Trade and Industry Minister Yuko Obuchi nor former Justice Minister Midori Matsushima was qualified to assume Cabinet positions in the first place.

Even more serious are the reported ties of Sanae Takaichi, internal affairs minister, and Eriko Yamatani, head of the National Public Safety Commission, to ultra-rightist organizations that are accused of engaging in acts of racial discrimination. One of these groups has repeatedly threatened and harassed Korean residents in Japan, and some of its members have been accused of criminal offenses.

Yamatani has been photographed with one such offender. When she spoke at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, Yamatani avoided giving her opinion when asked by members of the foreign press what she thought of the Zaitokutai group’s activities.

Political leaders in a democracy bear an obligation to maintain the fight against terrorism, which threatens freedom and diverse values. If lawmakers like Takaichi and Yamatani are committed to protecting freedom and democracy, they need to condemn the activities of ultra-rightist groups like Zaitokukai or Neo-Nazis. If lawmakers exhibit stances that allow such groups freedom of speech and recognize their existence within the realm of value relativism, such lawmakers could, under the common sense of Western countries, be viewed as enemies of freedom.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with his intention to counter China, has reiterated that Japan shares such Western values as freedom, democracy, basic human rights and the rule of law. He has also reportedly proclaimed Japan’s intention to seek permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council as part of an attempt to expand his diplomacy on a global scale. Such remarks are an indication that his stupidity and egocentrism are beyond redemption.

The permanent members of the UNSC are an exclusive club comprising the victors of World War II. It is hardly possible that they would welcome a nation whose leader denies its wartime aggression and atrocities. The head of a Cabinet whose members sympathize with racial discrimination and historical revisionism can hardly win international trust by merely voicing his support for freedom and democracy.[…]

What he wanted to say, I presume, was that Japan’s freedom and democracy could be shoved aside when the nation’s deep-seated tendency of conformism spreads like wild fire.

It is pathetic that we have to quote the foreign media to criticize what is going on in this country. It is the job of members of the media and academics to tell people immersed in narcissism that they, in fact, have ugly aspects.

Entire article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/10/28/commentary/japan-commentary/perilous-spirit-times/
==================================

It’s nice when a Japanese academic in his field makes statements like “the nation’s deep-seated tendency of conformism”, because at least he can get away with saying them without being accused of racism, cultural imperialism, or ignorance. When Japan’s media follows a trend into intolerance to extremes not seen much in Japan’s Postwar Era, it’s time for denunciations to happen. Because they’re not going to happen from within at this point. They must come from without. And to that end, Debito.org is happy to report when others are seeing it that way too. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Times JBC 80 October 8, 2014: “Biased pamphlet bodes ill for left-behind parents”, on MOFA propagandizing re Hague Treaty on Child Abductions

mytest

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justbecauseicon.jpg

Hi Blog. Thanks to readers once again for putting this article into the #1 spot at the Japan Times Online for two days!  Debito

“BIASED PAMPHLET BODES ILL FOR LEFT-BEHIND FOREIGN PARENTS OUTSIDE JAPAN
Pamphlet on Hague Treaty on Child Abductions displays slanted mindsets favoring the Japanese side of disputes
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito, Column 80 for Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE, October 8, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/10/08/issues/biased-pamphlet-bodes-ill-left-behind-foreign-parents-outside-japan/
p1
After years of pressure from foreign governments, and enormous efforts by “left-behind” parents to have access to children abducted to and from Japan after marital separation or divorce, the Japanese government became a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in April.

That is, of course, good news. Now the issue becomes one of enforcement. And to that end, this column has serious doubts that the Japanese government will honor this treaty in good faith.

These doubts are based on precedent. After all, Japan famously ignores human-rights treaties. For example, nearly 20 years after ratifying the U.N. Convention on Racial Discrimination, and nearly 30 since acceding to the U.N. Convention on Discrimination against Women, Japan still has no law against racial discrimination, nor a statute guaranteeing workplace gender equality backed by enforceable criminal penalties.

We have also seen Japan caveat its way out of enforcing the Hague before signing. For example, as noted in previous JT articles (e.g., “Solving parental child abduction problem no piece of cake” by Colin P.A. Jones, March 1, 2011), the debate on custody has been muddied with ungrounded fears that returned children would, for example, face domestic violence (DV) from the foreign parent. DV in Japan is being redefined to include nontactile acts such as “yelling,” “angry looks” and “silent stares” (particularly from men).

It is within this context that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) recently issued a pamphlet titled “What is the Hague Convention?” Available in Japanese and English, it offers a 12-page manga in which a Japanese father carefully explains the Hague Convention to his Japanese-French son.

The pamphlet has sparked considerable controversy. After I blogged about it last month on Debito.org, many annoyed left-behind parents overseas said they would forward it to their national elected representatives. After a South China Morning Post article cited blog commenters calling it racist, Huffington Post Japan and Al Jazeera picked up the story, engendering predictable relativism about differing cultural interpretations.

For the record, I never wrote that the MOFA pamphlet was “racist.” That term, if not used carefully, tends to dull analysis, especially since the pamphlet is more subtle than that. In fact, it provides valuable insights into MOFA’s slanted mind-set towards the child abduction issue.

First, consider the visuals. In three cartoons (on the cover, and pages 4 and 10) we see a foreign-looking man (never a woman) being physically violent towards his child, with two of those showing the child longing to return to Japan and be with mother.

Violent Dads: First and 3rd illustration are used twice, so three.

MOFA1MOFA2

Reinforcing that in five more places (cover, pages 1, 7, and 9 (twice) — see C and D) are illustrations where the child expresses dismay at being abducted from Japan; only once (page 4) is there dismay at being abducted overseas. On the other hand, pages 2 and 7 show children displaying no dismay at being abducted to Japan, or instead showing shock (pages 2 (twice) and 3 — see E) at not being allowed to return to Japan. The clear inference: Japan is, on balance, the natural place for the child, regardless of factors such as primary language or time spent living abroad.

Dismay at being abducted from Japan. Cover and pg 9 repeat illustration twice, so five.

MOFA3 MOFA4 MOFA5

(text context clarifies that the third illustration above is an abduction from Japan)

Dismay at being abducted overseas (one image only):

MOFA6

No dismay at being abducted to Japan:

MOFA7 MOFA8

Dismay at not being allowed to return to Japan:

MOFA9 MOFA10

This implicit fear of the outside world is reinforced by images of uneasy children facing unfamiliar rules, customs and languages (pages 1, 4 and 5 (twice)). More subtle is the picture on the cover and page 1, where foreign (adults) surround, frown and stare at the nervous Japanese child as though she really doesn’t belong. (She’s sent back to her Japanese mother’s loving arms by the next panel — phew.) Only once (page 3) is there a happy child sent back to his foreign dad.

Uneasy children facing the unfamiliar:

MOFA11 MOFA17

 

MOFA12

Being stared at by adults:

MOFA13

Sole image of happy child being returned to NJ father (plus katakana-speaking father not in English version, referred to below):

MOFA14

Then consider the manga storyline. The Japanese father protagonist experiences a child abduction when the French mother abducts their son to France. Fortunately, according to the pamphlet, because Japan signed the Hague, Japan’s authorities can have French authorities track down the child, get mediation and (as the conflict resolution of this story) return the son (and the mother) to live happily ever after in Japan (page 6).

That is the central and tacit argument of the MOFA pamphlet: Japan signing the Hague isn’t about returning children to their habitual residence (whether it be Japan or overseas); it is about giving Japan greater leverage overseas to bring its children home to Japan. Where they belong.

Moreover, for some mysterious reason we spend the first page developing the relationship between the Japanese father and son protagonists, with father comically put off-balance by a barrage of questions from son, then negotiating with him to finish his dinner before answering. By page 3, the pamphlet mysteriously succumbs to another case of the cutes, as an anime figurine appears to praise the son’s intelligence (revealing father as an anime fetishist).

Irrelevant curlicues:

MOFA16 MOFA15

Why these irrelevant curlicues? Because by page 6, we learn why the French mother abducted the son: She accuses father of spending all his time watching anime and not paying attention to them. This is of course made dubious after all the space spent portraying the father’s caring, explaining, hugging, even cooking for his son. So clearly she’s just being hysterical. Of course, she returns to Japan with them after negotiations, so nothing fatal to the relationship.

On the other hand, when it’s a Japanese woman abducting, her reasons are more serious than hubby’s anime fetish. She has to deal with domestic violence, poverty (cover), unsympathetic or unpredictable foreign courts (pages 2, 3, 4, and 5), and even the unlikely scenario of begging frowning foreign strangers on the street to help her missing child overseas (page 2). Conclusion: The Japanese side is generally being victimized, while the foreign side is subtly depicted as violent and overreacting.

Other images referred to above. Frowning foreign strangers on the street:

MOFA18

This is where MOFA is most disingenuous: In no fewer than four places (pages 1, 2 (twice) and 5) are unsympathetic courts, “cultural differences,” “legal procedures” and “language barriers” cited as hurdles for the Japanese spouse overseas.

Japan’s unsympathetic courts, legal procedures and cultural presumptions allowing child abductions to happen here on a regular basis — even between Japanese couples — are never mentioned. Japan, remember, has no joint custody or guaranteed child visitations.

In fact, taking the issue to a court overseas may afford both parents more rights — as it did in the Savoie case, where, despite the pamphlet’s claims, a Tennessee court gave Noriko Savoie permission to leave the U.S. for Japan (whereupon she abducted Christopher Savoie’s children). This is where the pamphlet morphs from guide to screed.

No doubt some MOFA representatives will be reading this critique, so let me point out two more inaccuracies unbecoming of a government agency attempting an impartial review of the issue.

First, almost all of the international marriages in the pamphlet are portrayed as between (katakana-speaking, in the Japanese version) white men and Japanese women. In fact, most international marriages in Japan are between Japanese men and Asian women. That is where the pamphlet is an easy target for accusations of racism. Not all “foreignness,” especially in this case, is so visually identifiable.

Then there’s the biased terminology. It is inaccurate in the English version to frame child abductions as “children’s removal” — after all, this is not the Hague Convention on Child Removals. Just as inaccurate as the term it was translated from, tsuresari (literally, “accompanying and disappearing”), meant to semantically soften the act of kidnapping — especially when another appropriate word, rachi, is used for abductions of Japanese by North Koreans.

On the plus side, there have already been good outcomes from Japan’s joining the Hague. Left-behind parents including Christopher Savoie and U.S. Navy Capt. Paul Toland (who have successfully pushed for the Goldman Act, as well as several U.S. congressional resolutions decrying Japan’s status as a haven for child abductions) have recently had their Hague applications accepted by the Japanese government, which has promised to locate and provide access to the Americans’ children in Japan. In effect, this is official acknowledgment that their children were in fact abducted from their lawful custody. Two abducted children have also been returned to their habitual residences in Japan.

NB:  There are at least 3 US resolutions mentioning Japan Child Abduction: House Resolutions 125 and 1326 and Senate Resolution 552.  Savoie Case, letter from MOFA dated September 8, 2014, accepting his case as a Hague Case, meaning the GOJ recognizes his legal custody:

SavoieGOJletter090814

Very good. But will all this eventually result in Japan actually returning a child to a parent overseas — something which, according to activists, has never happened as a result of Japanese government or court action?

Let’s wait and see, of course. But at this juncture, I doubt Japan will enforce the Hague with much verve. Doing so, as Colin P.A. Jones has pointed out on these pages, would in fact give more rights to those in international marriages than it would domestic couples! If the Japanese government’s past behavior towards inconvenient international treaties is any guide, it will find caveats to ensure international divorce does not become another way for Japan’s depopulation to accelerate.

Thus, MOFA’s pamphlet is little more than subtle propagandizing meant to reassure the Japanese public that they haven’t lost the power to abduct by signing the Hague. In fact, MOFA is portraying the Hague as a means to bring more Japanese children back home. With that mind-set as strong as ever, I anticipate that foreign parents will continue to get a raw deal from the Japanese system.

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

Debito Arudou recommends that officials at MOFA and everyone else understand this issue better by watching “From The Shadows,” a documentary available at www.fromtheshadowsmovie.com. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause usually appears in print on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDS

SCMP (Hong Kong) on MOFA Hague Pamphlet: “‘Racist’ cartoon issued by Japanese ministry angers rights activists”, cites Debito.org (UPDATE: Also makes Huffington Post Japan in Japanese & Al Jazeera)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I am happy to say that our last Debito.org blog post generated another news article.  Thanks very much to Julian for drawing attention to the issue.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE, courtesy of Debito.org Reader Oliver:  The pamphlet can be found on the MOFA website, so it is genuine. PDF is here:

http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/files/000033409.pdf
(link from this page: http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/gaiko/hague/index.html)

And there is even an English language version!

http://www.mofa.go.jp/files/000034153.pdf
(link from this page: http://www.mofa.go.jp/fp/hr_ha/page22e_000249.html)

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

‘Racist’ cartoon issued by Japanese ministry angers rights activists
Pamphlet issued by Tokyo to Japan’s embassies in response to Hague convention is criticised for depicting a foreign man beating his child

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 September, 2014, 11:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 September, 2014, 1:44am
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong,), by Julian Ryall in Tokyo
Courtesy http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1594102/racist-cartoon-issued-japanese-ministry-angers-rights-activists
p1
The cartoon showing a white man beating his child has drawn condemnation from human rights activists.

Human rights activists in Japan have reacted angrily to a new pamphlet released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that they claim is racist and stereotypical for depicting Caucasian fathers beating their children.

The 11-page leaflet has been sent to Japanese embassies and consulates around the world in response to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction going into effect in Japan on April 1.

Tokyo dragged its feet on ratifying the treaty, which broadly stipulates that a child should be returned to his or her country of habitual residence when they have been taken out of that country by a parent but without the consent of the other parent.

But manga-style images of foreign fathers beating children and Japanese women portrayed as innocent victims have raised the hackles of campaigners, both those fighting discrimination against foreigners and non-Japanese who have been unable to see children who have been abducted by Japanese former spouses.

“It’s the same problem with any negotiations in which Japan looks like it has been beaten,” said Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese citizen who was born in the United States and has become a leading human rights activist.

“After being forced to give up a degree of power by signing the Hague treaty, they have to show that they have not lost face and they try to turn the narrative around,” he said. “It’s the same as in the debate over whaling.

“The Japanese always see themselves as the victims, and in this case, the narrative is that Japanese women are being abused and that the big, bad world is constantly trying to take advantage of them.”

Arudou is particularly incensed by the cover of the publication, which shows a blond-haired foreigner hitting a little girl, a foreign father taking a child from a sobbing Japanese mother and another Japanese female apparently ostracised by big-nosed foreign women.

“It is promoting the image that the outside world is against Japanese and the only place they will get a fair deal is in Japan,” said Arudou.

The rest of the pamphlet takes the form of a conversation between a cartoon character father and son, but with the storyline showing the difficulties of a Japanese woman living abroad with her half-Japanese son.

Arudou says the publication then “degenerates into the childish” with the appearance of an animated doll that is the father figure’s pride and joy, but also dispenses advice.

“As well as promoting all these stereotypes, why are they not talking about visitation issues for foreigners whose half-Japanese children have been abducted by their ex-wives?” asked Arudou.

Several foreigners who have been unable to see their children for years have already contacted Arudou to express their anger, with a number of US nationals saying they would pass the document onto lawmakers.

Arudou’s post on the issue on his website has also attracted attention, with commentators describing the pamphlet as “racist propaganda”.

“This is disgusting,” one commentator posted. “Pictures are powerful, more powerful than words. And the only time I’ve ever seen anything remotely like this is when I did a search for old anti-Japanese propaganda.

“Of course, that was disgusting too, but it was wartime!”

Another added, “What a pathetic advert for an ‘advanced’ country.

“As for the text – not wasting any more bandwidth on such utter racist, xenophobic, patronising, paranoid nonsense.”
ENDS

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

UPDATE SEPT. 19: THIS SCMP ARTICLE PRODUCED AN ARTICLE IN HUFFINGTON POST JAPAN:

外務省作成の「ハーグ条約」小冊子は人種差別 人権活動家が指摘
The Huffington Post
投稿日: 2014年09月17日 16時34分 JST 更新: 2014年09月19日 14時17分 JST PAMPHLET WHAT IS THE HAGUE CONVENTION
Courtesy http://www.huffingtonpost.jp/2014/09/17/pamphlet-of-the-hague-convention-mof_n_5833674.html

国外に連れ出された子供の扱いを定めた「ハーグ条約」について、外務省が作成した小冊子に人権侵害にあたる内容が含まれているのではないか、という指摘が出ている。

指摘しているのは、人権活動家の有道出人(あるどう・でびと)さん。アメリカ出身の日本国籍取得者だ。有道さんは「ハーグ条約ってなんだろう?」という外務省が作成した小冊子について、子供や無実の日本女性に暴力をふるう外国人のイラストは、嫌悪感を抱かせる内容となっていると分析。日本人のかつての配偶者によって子供を連れ去られ、子供に会うことができないでいる外国人もいるとして、小冊子のあり方に疑問を呈しているという。香港の英字紙・サウス・チャイナ・モーニング・ポストが報じた。

有道さんは特に、小冊子の表紙のイラストに怒りを覚えるという。そこには、小さな女の子を叩いている外国人のイラストや、ブロンドヘアの外国人男性がすすり泣く日本人女性の母親から子供を連れ去るイラストなどが描かれている。有道さんは「このような内容は、日本だけが公正な話し合いができる場所で、世界は違うというようなイメージを植え付ける」と話す。(中略)

「これらの固定観念のイラストばかりでなく、なぜ、元妻に連れ去られた子供と会うための外国人の権利について書かないのか」と有道さんは指摘した。

(サウスチャイナ·モーニング·ポスト「’Racist’ cartoon issued by Japanese ministry angers rights activists」より 2014/09/16 23:14)
pamphlet what is the hague convention

ハーグ条約は夫婦のどちらかによって国外に連れ出された子供の扱いを定める多国間条約で、日本は2014年4月から条約加盟国となり、合わせて小冊子もつくられた。

日本はハーグ条約への加盟が遅く、海外から批判を浴びていた。特にアメリカからの圧力は強く、2010年にはアメリカ下院本会議が日本への連れ去りを「拉致」と非難する決議を採択した。ハーグ条約の適用を受けた2014年4月には、元配偶者らが日本に連れ帰った子供との面会を求める親が、アメリカでは少なくとも約200人に上ったという。

有道さんは自身のブログで、この小冊子の中に、外国人が子供にDVを行っているイラストが複数あることや、外国人が日本人に冷たいことを明示するイラストも使用されていると述べている。

pamphlet what is the hague convention

pamphlet what is the hague convention

pamphlet what is the hague convention

これらの有道さんの指摘について外務省領事局の担当者は、現在のところ外務省は同様の指摘を受けてはないとハフポスト日本版の電話取材に回答。また、「小冊子を見ていただければ分かると思うが、人種差別的な内容を意図して作成したものではない」として、画像の変更等を行う予定はないと述べた。

なお、この小冊子は日本語版だけでなく英語版もつくられているが、日本語版と同様のイラストや文章が使われている。
ENDS

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

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 30:  ALSO MAKES AL JAZEERA:

http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201409181245-0024160

Al Jazeera.com, September 18, 2014

Japanese ministry’s child abduction pamphlet shows white father hitting child

Rights activists criticise cartoon from Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs after country signs child abduction convention.

Screenshot of Japanese Foreign Ministry publication. MOFA JAPAN.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry pamphlet depicting white fathers abusing children has drawn criticism from human rights activists who say it perpetuates(link is external) racist stereotypes.

The pamphlet(link is external) reportedly was sent to Japanese embassies and consulates to explain the implications of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The booklet features manga-style cartoons and is also available in English via the ministry’s website.
 
Japan’s years of refusal(link is external) to sign the Hague Convention drew significant pressure from critics in the US and Europe, who argued(link is external) that Japan had become a “safe haven” for parental child abductors…

Read the rest at http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201409181245-0024160

Quoted in BBC Brasil (original Portuguese & machine E translation): “Japan receives criticism from the UN after wave of xenophobia in the streets”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Got quoted (and some of Debito.org’s “Japanese Only” signs posted) in BBC Brasil today (thanks Ewerthon for the link). I’ll paste the article below with the Google machine translation in English afterwards. Corrections welcome.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Japão recebe críticas da ONU após onda de xenofobia nas ruas
Ewerthon Tobace
De Tóquio para a BBC Brasil
Courtesy http://www.bbc.co.uk/portuguese/noticias/2014/09/140908_discriminacao_etnica_japao_et_rm.shtml

Atualizado em 10 de setembro, 2014 – 07:44 (Brasília) 10:44 GMT
Placa contra estrangeiros no Japão / Crédito: Arquivo Pessoal

“Estrangeiros só poderão entrar se estiverem acompanhados de um japonês”, diz a placa
Uma recente onda de casos de xenofobia tem causado grande preocupação no Japão e levou a ONU a pedir que o governo do primeiro-ministro Shinzo Abe tomasse medidas concretas para lidar com o problema.

As principais vítimas nesse incidentes têm sido comunidades estrangeiras como a de coreanos e chineses, além de outras minorias chamadas de “inimigas do Japão”.

Um exemplo dos abusos é um vídeo que se tornou viral e circula pelas redes sociais. Mostra um grupo de homens da extrema-direita com megafones em frente a uma escola sul-coreana em Osaka.

Eles insultam os alunos e professores com palavrões, fazem piadas com a cultura do país vizinho e ameaçam de morte os que se atreverem a sair do prédio.

Um relatório do Comitê de Direitos Humanos da ONU encaminhado ao governo japonês, destaca a reação passiva dos policiais em manifestações deste tipo.

As autoridades têm sido criticadas por apenas observarem, sem tomarem nenhuma atitude efetiva para conter os abusos.

No final de agosto, o Comitê das Nações Unidas para a Eliminação da Discriminação Racial solicitou que o país “abordasse com firmeza as manifestações de ódio e racismo, bem como a incitação à violência racial e ódio durante manifestações públicas”.

Desde 2013, o Japão registrou mais de 360 casos de manifestações e discursos racistas.
A questão ganhou os holofotes da mídia e está sendo amplamente debatida pelo partido governista, o Liberal Democrático.

Um caso que está sendo visto como teste para a Justiça japonesa nesta área é a ação movida, no mês passado, por uma jornalista sul-coreana, Lee Sinhae, contra Makoto Sakurai, presidente do grupo de extrema-direita Zaitokukai, por danos morais.

Ela quer uma indenização depois de ser “humilhada” por textos discriminatórios na internet.
“O que me preocupa é que muitos destes discursos estão deixando o anonimato da internet e já chegaram às ruas”, disse Lee em uma coletiva de imprensa.

A jornalista alertou que várias crianças estão tendo contato com este tipo de pensamento e replicam no ambiente escolar, gerando casos de bullying.

Lei
No Japão, não há uma lei que proíba discursos difamatórios ou ofensivos. Para os opositores, banir os discursos de ódio pode acabar interferindo no direito das pessoas à liberdade de expressão.

Mas o país é signatário da Convenção Internacional sobre a Eliminação de Todas as Formas de Discriminação Racial, que entrou em vigor em 1969, e que reconhece expressões discriminatórias como crime.

Pela Convenção, os países seriam obrigados a rejeitar todas as formas de propaganda destinadas a justificar ou promover o ódio racial e a discriminação e tomar ações legais contra eles.

Segundo as Nações Unidas, o governo japonês ainda tem muito para fazer nesta área. O comitê da ONU insistiu para que o Japão implemente urgentemente “medidas adequadas para rever a sua legislação”, em particular o seu código penal, para regular o discurso de ódio.

Exclusão dos estrangeiros
Para o escritor, ativista e pesquisador norte-americano naturalizado japonês Arudou Debito, “(essas atitudes discriminatórias) têm se tornado cada vez mais evidentes, organizadas e consideradas ‘normais'”.

Debito coleciona, desde 1999, fotos de placas de lojas, bares, restaurantes, karaokês, muitas delas enviadas por leitores de todo o Japão, com frases em inglês – e até em português – proibindo a entrada de estrangeiros.

A coletânea virou livro, intitulado Somente japoneses: o caso das termas de Otaru e discriminação racial no Japão.
Debito se diz ainda preocupado que, com a divulgação cada vez maior dos pensamentos da extrema-direita, a causa ganhe cada vez mais “fãs”.

“No Japão ainda há a crença de que é pouco provável haver o extremismo em uma ‘sociedade tão pacífica'”, explicou.

“Eu não acredito que seja tão simples assim. Ignorar os problemas de ódio, intolerância e exclusivismo para com as minorias esperando que eles simplesmente desapareçam é um pensamento positivo demais e historicamente perigoso.”

Placa: “Somente japoneses” / Crédito: Arquivo Pessoal

Aviso em um hotel de águas termais alerta que estrangeiros não podem entrar 

Brasileiros

A comunidade brasileira no Japão também é alvo constante de atitudes discriminatórias. Quarto maior grupo entre os estrangeiros que vivem no país, os brasileiros estão constantemente reclamando de abusos gerados por discriminação racial e o tema é sempre levantado em discussões com autoridades locais.

O brasileiro Ricardo Yasunori Miyata, 37, é um dos que foi à Justiça depois que o irmão foi confundido com um ladrão em um supermercado de uma grande rede, na cidade de Hamamatsu, província de Shizuoka.

“O problema foi a abordagem. O segurança chegou gritando, como se ele fosse bandido e, mesmo depois de provado que tudo não passou de um engano, ele (o segurança) justificou que faz parte da índole do brasileiro roubar e que não poderíamos reclamar pois deveríamos estar acostumado com este tipo de coisa”, contou o rapaz, ainda indignado.

O caso aconteceu há quatro anos, mas até hoje Ricardo divulga a história para que outros não passem pelo mesmo constrangimento pelo qual ele e a família passaram.

“Acionamos a polícia, fizemos a reclamação na matriz da rede, procuramos um advogado e, por semanas, os gerentes do supermercado tentaram nos convencer a não entrar com processo”, lembra.

Depois de três meses, foi feito um acordo. “A rede trocou a empresa que faz a segurança local, pagou todas as despesas com advogados e exigimos ainda que os gerentes pedissem desculpas em público”, contou Ricardo.

Há 20 anos morando no Japão, o brasileiro lembra que antigamente a situação era bem pior. “Quando entrava brasileiro em supermercados, por exemplo, geralmente tocavam uma música brasileira. Era um sinal para avisar os funcionários de que havia estrangeiro na loja”, contou.

Ricardo já foi barrado em bares e também sofreu todo tipo agressão verbal. “Esse tipo de discriminação existe, é visível e constante. Enquanto as autoridades e a própria mídia não tomarem uma posição, esses abusos vão continuar acontecendo”, destacou.

ENDS.  MACHINE TRANSLATION FOLLOWS:
=====================================================

Japan receives criticism from the UN after wave of xenophobia in the streets
By Ewerthon Tobace
Tokyo for the BBC Brazil
Updated on September 10, 2014 – 07:44 (GMT) 10:44 GMT
Courtesy https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=pt&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fportuguese%2Fnoticias%2F2014%2F09%2F140908_discriminacao_etnica_japao_et_rm.shtml&edit-text=

Plate against foreigners in Japan / Credit: Personal Archive
“Foreigners may only enter if accompanied by a Japanese,” says board

A recent spate of incidents of xenophobia has caused great concern in Japan and led the UN to ask the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to take concrete measures to deal with the problem.

The main victims in this incident have been foreign communities such as Korean and Chinese, and other minorities called “enemy of Japan.”

An example of abuse is a video that went viral and circulates through social networks. Shows a group of men on the extreme right with megaphones in front of a South Korean school in Osaka.

They insult the students and teachers with profanity, make jokes with the culture of the neighboring country and threaten death to those who dare leave the building.

A report of the UN Human Rights Committee referred to the Japanese government, highlights the passive reaction of the police in demonstrations of this kind.

The authorities have been criticized for only observe, without taking any effective action to curb abuses.

In late August, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination requested that the country “firmly approached the manifestations of hatred and racism and incitement to racial hatred and violence during public demonstrations.”

Since 2013, Japan has registered more than 360 cases of racist demonstrations and speeches.

The issue has gained the media spotlight and is being widely debated by the ruling party, the Liberal Democratic.

A case that is being seen as a test for the Japanese Justice in this area is the lawsuit filed last month by a South Korean journalist, Lee Sinhae against Makoto Sakurai, chairman of the far-right Zaitokukai for moral damage.

She wants compensation after being “humiliated” by discriminatory texts on the Internet.
“What worries me is that many of these speeches are leaving the anonymity of the internet and has already reached the streets,” Lee said in a press conference.

The journalist warned that several children are having contact with this type of thinking and replicate in the school environment, generating instances of bullying.

Law

In Japan, there is no law prohibiting defamatory or offensive speeches. To opponents, banning hate speech they can interfere in people’s right to freedom of expression.

But the country is a signatory of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which entered into force in 1969, and recognizes that discriminatory expressions as crime.

By the Convention, countries would be forced to reject all forms of propaganda designed to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination and to take legal actions against them.

According to the United Nations, the Japanese government still has much to do in this area. The UN committee insisted that Japan urgently implement “appropriate measures to review its legislation,” particularly its criminal code to regulate hate speech.

Exclusion of foreigners

For the writer, activist and American-born researcher naturalized Japanese Arudou Debito, “(such discriminatory attitudes) have become increasingly overt, organized, and normalized.”

Debito collects, since 1999, pictures of signs of shops, bars, restaurants, karaoke bars, many of them sent in by readers from all over Japan, with English phrases – and even in Portuguese – prohibiting the entry of foreigners.

The collection became a book entitled Japanese Only: The Otaru case of spa and racial discrimination in Japan. [NB:  Not quite right, but my clarification was ignored by editors.]

Debito is said still worried that with the increasing dissemination of the thoughts of the extreme right, the cause get more and more “fans”.

“Japan still has the belief that extremism is less likely to happen in its ‘peaceful society'”,” he explained.

“I do not think it’s that simple. Ignoring the problems of hatred, intolerance and exclusivism towards minorities hoping they simply disappear too is a positive and historically dangerous thought.”

Board: “Japanese Only” / Credit: Personal Archive
Notice in a hotel hot springs warning that foreigners can not enter

Brazilians

The Brazilian community in Japan is also a constant target of discriminatory attitudes. Fourth largest group among the foreigners living in the country, Brazilians are constantly complaining of abuses generated by racial discrimination and the issue is always raised in discussions with local authorities.

The Brazilian Ricardo Yasunori Miyata, 37, is one of those who went to court after brother was mistaken for a thief in a supermarket of a large network in the city of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture.

“The problem was the approach.’s Security came screaming, like he was crook and even after proven that it was all a mistake, he (the security guard) explained that part of the character of the Brazilian steal and we could not complain because we should be accustomed to this kind of thing, “said the boy, still indignant.

The case happened four years ago, but until today Ricardo discloses the story so that others do not go through the same embarrassment in which he and his family went through.

“Switch-police, made the claim in the network matrix, seek a lawyer, and for weeks, supermarket managers tried to convince us not to enter the process,” he recalls.

After three months, an agreement was made. “The network changed the company that makes local security, paid all the expenses of attorneys and even demand that managers asked apology in public,” said Ricardo.

20 years living in Japan, Brazil recalls that once the situation was much worse. “When I came in Brazilian supermarkets, for example, one usually played Brazilian music. Was a sign to warn employees that the store was abroad,” he said.

Ricardo has been barred in all bars and also suffered verbal aggression type. “This kind of discrimination exists, is visible and constant. Whilst the authorities and the media itself has not taken a position, these abuses will continue happening,” he said.

ENDS

Nikkei: Another Japanese nabbed for being like a “suspicious foreigner” in Ibaraki. Adding it to the collection

mytest

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Hi Blog. This in from Debito.org Reader NH:

==============================================
Debito, Here’s another one for your files:
日本国籍気付かず誤認逮捕 茨城、旅券不携帯と判断
2014/8/14 日本経済新聞
http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXLASDG1400K_U4A810C1CC0000/?n_cid=TPRN0009
茨城県警牛久署は14日、日本国籍とフィリピン国籍を共に持つ、さいたま市のパート工員の男性(20)を、日本国籍に気付かないまま誤って入管難民法違反(旅券不携帯)容疑で現行犯逮捕したと発表した。約7時間後に釈放した。

牛久署によると、13日昼すぎ、牛久市のJR常磐線ひたち野うしく駅近くで「不審な外国人がいる」と駅前の交番に通報があった。交番で署員が男性から事情を聴き、外国人なのにパスポートを常に携帯する義務を守っていないと判断し、午後5時10分ごろ、現行犯逮捕した。

その後、通訳が同席して取り調べた際、男性が「日本国籍もある」と説明。確認が取れたため、13日深夜に釈放した。父親が日本人、母親がフィリピン人という。

橋本康一郎署長は「おわび申し上げる。指示を徹底し、再発防止に努める」とコメントした。〔共同〕

English summary: A no-good busybody “reported” to the police that there was a “suspicious foreigner” around. The police duly rushed to the scene and questioned a Philipino 20-year-old they found. They arrested him as caught in the act of not carrying his passport with him.

After 7 hours of questioning, through an interpreter it came to light he also had Japanese citizenship and his father is Japanese. They double-checked, and since it was true released him in the middle of the night.

The police stated “We are sorry. We will try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The article and police statement does not find any fault with the person who reported a suspicious foreigner, or with the police for going and questioning people alleged to be suspicious foreigners. That is pretty much just the whole story.

It’s not a bad law exam question, since we could ask, did he have to give up his Filipino citizenship now that he is 20, etc.? The article doesn’t go there either, of course.

Another example of this law’s failure to account for Japan’s diverse population, and people getting caught in the cross-fire. I can only imagine how this young man felt about all of this.

==============================================
COMMENT: I can imagine. I myself have been racially profiled (although not arrested) by J-cops on numerous occasions (see here and here, for example), even after naturalizing.  So were these people (one of whom actually was arrested in 2006 for looking “too foreign”.) This is yet another reason why Japan needs laws against racial discrimination — because you can’t always tell anymore who’s “Japanese” based upon physical appearance alone. Innocent Japanese who don’t “look it” are going to get caught in any dragnet of suspicion.

I think Nishanta-san, a longtime acquaintance of mine and naturalized citizen, would agree (he’s in the center of the Newsweek cover). Below is what happened to him recently in Japanese (courtesy of Becky and others).  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

newsweek091106

日本人のあなたが外国人として逮捕される日。

にしゃんた | 社会学者(羽衣国際大学准教授)・タレント

Yahoo News 

http://bylines.news.yahoo.co.jp/nishantha/20140818-00038350/

写真:Rosemary McKevitt

日本出国の窓口は一緒くたになっているが、入国審査のゲートは大きく二種類ある。一つは「日本人」、もう一つは「外国人」である。余談ながら外国人の英語表記は今では「foreigner」になっているが私が日本に初上陸した頃は、「alien」となっていたことを懐かしく思い出す。

10年ほど前から日本国籍である筆者が持っているたった一つだけのえんじ色パスポートの表紙には、美しい菊の紋章がしっかりデザインされている。2週間ほど前に海外から日本に戻って来たのだが、国籍の正しい自覚はあるため入国審査の段階では当然「日本人」カウンターを目掛けて進んだ。しかし、私の行動を憚る男性が現れた。入国管理局の職員であると思われる。進もうとも、ずっと何回も「貴方は違う」と繰り返す。避けて通ろうとしても、追っかけてくる。最後には目の前に立ちはだかり私を押さえ込んだ。

一連の流れ、みなさんはここで何が起きているか想像できますか?これは、私の肌の色で判断して国籍は日本人のはずがないと決め付けて私を外国人の枠に引っ張り込もうとしているのである。これは、今年の8月7日付けの日本の玄関口成田空港での話である。私のような日本人はいないはずと決め付けているのは、何も無知なド素人ではない、知識豊富で日本国家のエリートのはずの法務省職員である。私ごときの場合は、このような経験も前向きに考えれば、人前で喋ったり書いたりとネタにもなるので歓迎しても良いが、このような事が、誰彼かまわずに日本の彼方此方で起きているとしたら、私達は一度立ち止まって考える必要がある。

空港での出来事から一週間も経たぬ内に、同じようなことがこの社会において珍しく無いということが伝わってきた。13日、日本国籍を持った日本在住の20歳の男性が、出入国管理法違反、つまり旅券不携帯容疑の罪で茨城県警牛久署に誤認逮捕されたのである。警察側の言い訳によると、

13日午後、JR常磐線ひたち野うしく駅近くのマンションの管理人から「不審な外国人がいる」と駅前の交番に通報があった。駆けつけた署員が男性から事情を聴き、外国人なのに旅券を常に持ち歩いていないと判断し、同日午後5時10分ごろに現行犯逮捕した。 (8月14日産経新聞・朝刊

何の罪も犯していない20歳の青年を、昼ごろから警察に連行し(警察発表では任意同行となっているが…)、5時過ぎに逮捕した。逮捕から約7時間後に釈放したのだから実際には総拘束時間は10時間超えている可能性も考えられる。ちなみに誤認逮捕の被害者の男性は日本国籍の父とフィリピン国籍の母の間に生まれ、国籍法上22歳までにどちらかの国籍を選択できるようになっており、逮捕された時点では実際には二重国籍である。

今回の事件から何が見えてくるのか?

(1)事件の発端となった、電話連絡してきたという「通報人」と警察双方で一致した「不審な外国人」の「定義」についてまず問い、整理する必要がある。一人の青年が、一般市民によって不審者と決め付けられ、警察がそれに輪をかけて対処した今回の件は「日本の多数派と権力が一緒になって少数者虐めをした」と指摘されても言い訳はできない。

(2)今回の警察の失態の原因は、他ならぬ本人たちの「無知」と凝り固まった「思い込み」に基づいた終始にわたる言動にあったことが明確である。被害者は、警察に「どこの国の人?」と日本語で質問され、「フィリピンと日本の二重国籍」であると伝えている。そこで警察は入国管理局にフィリピン旅券での出入記録の有無を問い合わせており、記録が無かったため逮捕したとなっている。フィリピン旅券での入国の記録が無かったのならば、誤認逮捕された被害者の「日本人」としての出入記録をなぜ問い合わせをしなかったかという事も、警察の犯した大きな過ちではないか。あくまでも「外国人」と決め付けた偏った捜査に執着するあまり、現場では逮捕された被害者の声に耳を傾けるという最低限の人権すら保障されていことが明確である。

(3)早急に改善に取り組む必要性のある課題も見えてくる。誤認逮捕された被害者は、自分から「国籍は日本とフィリピン」であることや「友達に会いに駅前に来た」などと警察に伝え、伝わっているはずにも関わらず、警察の言い分だと、逮捕後に通訳を通して初めて日本人であることを知るようになったと言っている点、ここでも警察の決め付けた言動の怖さが改めて感じると同時に、逮捕する前になぜ通訳を活用しないのかという制度的な大問題を指摘できる。

(4)合わせて今回の件に関してメディア側にも問題がある。ここで伝わってくるのは一方的に警察の言い分のみであって、被害者の声が不在である。日本社会が犯した過ちの改善と再発防止を本気で考えているのであれば被害者青年の言葉こそ最も参考になるだろう。なぜ日本のメディアがその点を疎かにしているのか、自問自答する必要があろう。

このような誤認逮捕は昨日今日はじまったものではない。実はもっと酷いケースもある。2006年02月25日、埼玉でも誤認逮捕があった。逮捕されたのは、女性で容疑は今回と同じく旅券不携帯であった。

午後7時40分ごろ、川口市内の路上を歩いていた女性にパトロール中の署員3人が職務質問。署員は女性の容姿が東南アジア出身者に似ており、名前や国籍を尋ねたところ、小さな声で「日本人です」と言ったきり何も話さなくなったため、署に任意同行した。女性は署でも日本語の質問に対し無言を通したため、同署は「外国人」と判断。パスポートの不所持を確かめて同容疑で逮捕した。

女性は逮捕後に家族の名前を紙に書き、母親に確認すると娘と分かって誤認逮捕が判明した。母親は「娘は知らない人とは話をしない性格」と話していたという。 (毎日新聞2006年2月28日)

つまり、日本社会において、日本人であっても外国人として逮捕される可能性は充分にあると理解する必要がある。「誤認逮捕に至り、おわびする。再発防止に努める」と警察責任者は謝っているが、一般の人は謝っても許されないことでも、人を深く傷つけようとも、権力のある側が行ったことならば、謝罪だけで済む話なのだろうか。一つははっきり予言できる。このまま放っておけば今後このような問題が多発するということである。

公僕をする任務を担っているといえ、権力を持たされている人間にこそ正しい知識を伝え、人権教育を施す必要がある。日本の公務員、筆者の個人的な経験からだと、特に「入国管理局員」および「警察」に対して行っている「犯罪者予備軍扱いとしての外国人」という偏った視野の狭い教育を正し、国際感覚を伴った視野の広い教育を行う必要がある。

最後になるが、「日本人」であってもあなどってはならない。あなたは日本人であってもいつの日か「外国人」と決め付けられ逮捕される可能性は充分にあるということを心に留めておく必要がある。合わせて是非、日本の社会において常日頃「外国人」というだけで心身とも窮屈な思いをしている者もいるということに思いを馳せて頂きたい。

※ 参考資料として下記の記事も合わせて読んでいただきたい。

ジャパニーズ・オンリー!(Japanese only!)繰り返さないために。

あなたは、ジャパニーズ・オンリーを見分けられますか!?

にしゃんた社会学者(羽衣国際大学准教授)・タレント

1969年7月18日、スリランカのキャンディー市(世界遺産)生まれ。 高校生だった87年にボーイスカウトで初来日。その翌年に留学のため再来日をし、立命館大学に入学。新聞奨学生をしながら大学在学中に全日本空手道連盟公認四段・全国空手道連盟公認指導員を取得したほか、多数の弁論大会に出場し優勝する。大学を卒業後、大学院に進み、経済学の博士号を取得。現在は京都に在住し、羽衣国際大学で教鞭をとる傍ら、テレビ・ラジオ出演、講演会や執筆活動などを行っている。2005年日本国籍取得。08年日本女性と結婚、一男一女の父。近著は『日本で知った「幸せ」の値段』(講談社)

ENDS

“No Foreigners” (and no women) Capsule Inn Omiya hotel in Saitama (UPDATE AUG 21: No-foreigner rule withdrawn, but lots more exclusionary hotels found on Rakuten)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Joining the ranks of hundreds of other places nationwide that have “Japanese Only” rules in place is this capsule hotel called “Kapuseru In Ohmiya” in Miyamachi 5-3-1, Ohmiya-ku, Saitama, close to JR Omiya Station East Exit, phone 048-641-4122.  Incidentally, and also in violation of Japan’s Hotel Management Law, it does not allow women to stay there either.  Here’s a screen capture of their entry on Rakuten as of August 18, 2014, with all their contact details.  Courtesy of MF.

(Click on image to expand in your browser.)

Front door with directions there:

JapaneseOnlyCapsuleInnSaitamafront

Entire site with “No Foreigners” and “No Women” rules listed at very bottom:

JapaneseOnlySaitamaCapsuleInn081714

Anyone want to give them a call, and/or to report them to the authorities?  Here’s how.

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE AUGUST 21, 2014:  THEIR RAKUTEN ENTRY HAS REMOVED THE “JAPANESE ONLY” RULE, AMENDED IT TO A “BRING A JAPANESE SPEAKER IF YOU DON’T SPEAK JAPANESE, AS THE STAFF DOESN’T SPEAK FOREIGN LANGUAGES”.  THE “MEN-ONLY” RULE REMAINS. RAKUTEN PAGE SCREEN CAPTURE BELOW:

JapaneseOnlySaitamaCapsuleInnrulerepealed082114

ENDS

Japanese hotel and restaurant bars all Non-Japanese — in Bangalore, India! And it’s shut down by the local Indian govt. within days

mytest

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Hi Blog.  This case you might have heard about already, but in terms that Debito.org has talked about for decades, there are no surprises here:  A “Japanese Only” Japanese restaurant has been discovered turning away “foreigners” in a foreign land — India.  Well, turning away all “non-Japanese”.  Because, you see, “Japanese” is not a function of nationality.  It’s a function of racialized tribalism.

In other words, no matter where you are in the world, under Japanese binary sensibilities, there are two types of people:  Japanese and NJ — not Japanese and “foreigners”.  Overseas, Japanese technically become foreigners.  But not in exported Japanese contexts such as Japanese restaurants.  So again, Japanese society’s exclusionary view of the world anytime, anywhere, becomes perfectly understandable when looked at through this binary rubric.

Fortunately, not all societies let this sort of racism pass without comment or sanction.  And India, despite being saddled with a horrible caste system, is no exception.  Within weeks after exposure, it was partially shut down after notice from the Greater Bangalore City Corporation on explicit charges of racial discrimination — something Japan simply cannot do.  Articles follow.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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‘Only Japanese, no Indian people, ma’am’
Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Jun 24, 2014, 02.00 AM IST

Howard Murphy, a Brit, too was barred from the restaurant in Uno-In. ‘It is just racist,‘ Murphy told Bangalore Mirror
By : Tapasya Mitra Mazumder & Afsha Khan, Courtesy of JK
http://www.bangaloremirror.com/bangalore/cover-story/Only-Japanese-no-Indian-people-maam/articleshow/37097278.cms,

Unabashedly racist, Uno-In Hotel bars all other nationals; ironically, its head and staff are Indians

The hotel makes no bones about it. Its website categorically states: Located in Bangalore, we are a hotel exclusively for Japanese. Situated on Langford Cross Road in Shanthinagar, Hotel Uno-In, which also houses a Japanese rooftop restaurant called Teppen, has a policy of not allowing access to Indians, or for that matter, any other non-Japanese nationals.

Adjacent to the KTM showroom, Uno-In started two years ago with the sole aim of catering to Japanese nationals visiting the city for work or tour. It’s clear the hotel is not eager to advertise its presence as a hand-painted sign on the mouth of the road is the only giveaway to the place situated at the cul-de-sac.

Based on an incident (we will come back to it later) that happened a few months back, these reporters visited the hotel with a colleague and got a first-hand taste of the discriminatory attitude. The moment they stepped foot into the lobby and expressed a desire to have lunch at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant Teppen, they were told ‘Indians’ were not allowed. Below is a transcript of the recorded conversation that took place with Nic U Iqbal, MD and CEO of Nippon Infrastructure which runs the hotel.

BM Reporter: Hi. We are here for Teppen.

Hotel Staff: Yes, but only Japanese people allowed ma’am. No Indian people.

Reporter: No, we were not told that. A friend of ours recommended the place to us and said it has amazing Japanese food.

Hotel: Hi, I am Nic. This is a dedicated place for Japanese people alone.

Reporter: No, but we heard so much about this place from our Japanese friends.

Hotel: I know but we really don’t do that. It is really hard to maintain the quality system and we just have Japanese corporate people visiting us. We are the Nippon group and we have tie-ups with our own Japanese companies. Their people come to us. The entire hotel is for the Japanese alone and we don’t entertain anyone else.

After about five minutes of cajoling, we were allowed in with Iqbal stating, “I run the whole show so you can go in as my guests.” The afterthought of a welcome seemed to be directly linked to the absence of any Japanese guests (and hence no one at all) in the restaurant.

Recalling an ‘incident’ in March, Amisha Garg Agarwal, director (strategy planning), Percept/H said, “A couple of months back some colleagues accompanied our Japanese clients to the hotel for lunch. But they didn’t allow my colleagues in, stating, ‘Indians are not allowed’, despite the clients insisting they be permitted into the restaurant.”

She says when they sought an explanation, they were told Indians demanded Indian and vegetarian food. “We have heard about many more such cases from our Japanese friends in the city,” she said.

Ishiro Takazuma (name changed on request), a Japanese advertising professional who frequently travels to Bangalore for work, said that during one of his initial sojourns, he had stayed at the Uno-In and knew the food there was good. So when some Japanese colleagues were in the vicinity along with a couple of Indian colleagues a couple of months back, he recommended Uno-In’s restaurant. “We have never had any problem there before but our Indian colleagues were stopped from accompanying us into the restaurant. They relented on our insistence, though. I understand their policy of catering only to Japanese clients and their rights to reservation, but they should not have stopped our Indian friends from entering the place when they were with us.”

The ‘rights of admission reserved’ rule is in the realm of ambiguity at best. When we asked the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the issuing authority for trade licences, about how far an establishment can go in its ‘right of admission reserved’ rule, the officials had no clue. ”We have never come across it till now. We issue licences, check if the health, safety and cleanliness standards are being maintained. Nothing beyond it,” said an official.

When Bangalore Mirror contacted Uno-In’s Iqbal for comment, he said they had no qualms in admitting any customer, but they mainly catered to the needs of those residing in their corporate houses, mostly comprising the Japanese. “It is not a walk-in restaurant which is why we haven’t even publicised it as a restaurant. We do not have the infrastructure to function as a full-fledged restaurant which is why we have limited it to only Japanese delegates. And we do not entertain anyone else apart from Japanese people. However, if people come and request to have a Japanese meal, we do not mind catering to their requests.” That, based on experiences earlier by some Bangaloreans and the reporters is bunkum.

‘IT IS JUST RACIST’

To its credit, Uno-In seems to be ‘fair-handed’ in its racism. BANGALORE MIRROR sent a Brit to see if they will have a different set of rules, in typically Indian fashion, for the whites. Howard Murphy , founder of Amurco and from Manchester, was told on Monday lunch hour by the receptionist that the place is ”restricted to Japanese” and denied him entry. “Later another person — I presume he was the manager — came and said the same thing…that the place is meant only for Japanese. It’s just racist.”

An African PhD student, Charles Mwiriji Keega, was our next decoy. His experience: “We parked the bike outside.A guard opened the gate for us and I said I want to eat lunch here. He guided me to the place where the restaurant was. An executive officer came to me here and along with him four other people who seemed like heads at the restaurant came. They (all Indians) saw me and said that it’s not a restaurant first. I could see the tables there. So told them that. Then one guy came and told me that this is only for Japanese. He got a bit angry and tried to chase me out. They told me to go eat elsewhere. I said that I wanted to have Japanese food. He got annoyed with me and started to bully me out.”

SO WHAT’S ON THE MENU?

With entry banned to non-Japanese, Bangalore Mirror just had to eat at Uno In’s open-air cafe to satiate its curiosity pangs. Having virtually begged to be let in, here goes the accidental review, without any fear or favour. Not that it will help you, unless you are a Japanese reading this

So how does this exclusively-for-Japanese restaurant look inside? Teppen, an open-air cafe on the fourth floor of Uno-In, exudes the air of an office cafeteria. Since we were the only customers — and Indians at that — the staff was initially a touch wary but eased up after we returned their bow and smiled. The menu carried just the Japanese names of the dishes which is understandable considering its clientele. A waiter pointed out the chicken items, and even a vegetarian dish, he thought we may prefer over-fried pork with the skin on.

As we had heard of Daikon (radish), we decided to order that hoping it might be served with a dressing of vinegar and sesame. But the bowl of raw, shredded radish placed in front of us was unseasoned. We, thus, sincerely apologise if this isn’t Japanese etiquette, but we doused it in the soya sauce placed on our table to alter it to suit our palate. What we could make out was that most items on the menu were set meals – essentially a protein served on a platter with rice, miso soup, pickled cucumber and raw vegetables.

It suffices here to say that we left with the knowledge that we had got a taste of authentic Japanese food. For what it’s worth, the fried jumbo shrimps enveloped in thick hot and crispy batter and the miso soup with tofu cubes went down well, but if anybody wants to have sushi, they will need to come here for dinner as they aren’t available at lunch.

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

Bangalore shuts down ‘Japanese only’ hotel
The Mail Online India, By ARAVIND GOWDA
PUBLISHED: 18:40 EST, 2 July 2014
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2678420/Bangalore-shuts-Japanese-hotel.html

All over: Uno-in hotel in Bangalore, a Japanese-only restaurant, has been closed down

A ‘Japanese only’ hotel, which allegedly did not entertain Indians and other foreign nationals in its restaurant, has been closed down by the Greater Bangalore City Corporation (GBCC) on charges of racial discrimination.

The Uno-Inn Hotel – set up two years ago in central Bangalore by a local entrepreneur in association with the Nippon Infrastructure Company to cater to the growing number of Japanese visitors – shot to limelight after it allegedly stopped Indians, British and Africans from entering the roof-top restaurant.

The 30-room hotel and the restaurant were meant exclusively for Japanese tourists and businessmen visiting the city.

Last week, a few Bangaloreans, who decided to try out the Japanese restaurant at the hotel, were shocked when they were reportedly informed that they were unwelcome there.

This shocked the locals, who duly brought the matter to the notice of the GBCC.

Recently, GBCC officials visited the hotel and detected various violations by the management.

Consequently, the GBCC locked 10 out of the 30 rooms of the hotel and issued a notice to the hotel to comply with the local laws.

But the hotel management contended that Indians and other foreign nationals were welcome at their restaurant.

The GBCC is not authorised to initiate any action against the hotel management for its alleged racial discrimination, and only the law enforcement agencies were entitled to initiate action against the hotel.

ENDS

JDriver on J Driver License renewals and questionable legality of residency/Gaijin Card checks to ferret out “illegal overstayers”

mytest

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Hi Blog. We’ve discussed on Debito.org before the rigmarole of NJ drivers in Japan getting J Driver Licenses, being subjected to extra intrusive procedures that are of questionable legality. Well, a Debito.org Reader decided to do his civic duty and ask for some reasons why. And this is what he found out. Read on and feel free to contribute your own experiences. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

//////////////////////////////////////////////
July 13, 2014
Hi Debito, I’m a long time reader, but rarely have time to comment. I’ve had a pretty disheartening, if not entirely surprising, experience recently when I went to renew my drivers license and thought I’d share it with you and perhaps your readers if you find it worthwhile to share.

As you might know, residents of foreign citizenship (外国籍の方 in the bureaucratic parlance) are required to show their residence cards or in other way demonstrate their status of residence when getting or renewing their drivers license. Obedient citizen as I am, of course I went along with it and presented it when asked, but I did make clear I would like to be clarified on the legal basis for such a request. I didn’t expect that the person doing the registration would know something like this off the top of their head, but I was intended on talking to someone eventually who could point to this and that paragraph of this or that law that governs these circumstances.

So after all the procedure was finished and I got my license, I went to the window I was told I’d get my questions answered. The first person could only, after quite a while, produce the Immigration law article 23, which only says that you are in general required to present the passport or the residence card when the police and other authorities ask for it “in the execution of their duties.” So I asked for a specific law or ordinance that shows that in this concrete case it is indeed their duty to ask for the card. I got sent to her boss, who again only wasted my time with the same answer (Immigration law) and got irritated and dismissed me, but not before arranging for me to see the final boss of bosses, who should be able to answer my, I thought very simple, question i.e. what is the legal basis for what you’re doing?

Neither the last guy could legitimize the demand in legal terms, so we agreed that he will research it and call me later to let me know. He did call later the same day, only to tell me that after all, the legal basis would have to be in the Immigration law, because he couldn’t find any other! He said it is all done to prevent the “illegal overstayers” from getting drivers license, as if that, or any other goal, would justify working outside of legal framework.

I was flabbergasted that apparently no one in the whole Koto drivers center (江東試験場) knew the legal basis of their actions. I understand the receptionists, but I went four stages up their hierarchy and still nobody could justify their demands in legal terms. I’ve read the law on traffic before I went there and knew it did not specify this (道路交通法 http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S35/S35HO105.html) but I revisited it again afterwards. Neither it, nor the other major traffic law (道路法 http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S27/S27HO180.html) even mention status of residence or residence cards at all, and most certainly not when specifying the circumstances in which the authorities can refuse to issue you the license (physically unfit, alcoholism etc) It actually specifically states that they must issue you the permit if these do not apply, and you’ve passed the test (Article 90
公安委員会は、前条第一項の運転免許試験に合格した者(当該運転免許試験に係る適性試験を受けた日から起算して、第一種免許又は第二種免許にあつては一年を、仮免許にあつては三月を経過していない者に限る。)に対し、免許を与えなければならない。)

So I am now faced with an inevitable conclusion that they asking for residence cards is likely ILLEGAL. Of course, this is a condition which only applies to foreign residents, so it is unlikely to cause a national uproar, but it is nevertheless very unsettling, and not only for NJ, which might be the primary target at present. My biggest problem in all this is that they seemed genuinely baffled that someone is asking for a legal basis for their conduct, and the inability of the whole place to come up with a justification. It seems to me the bureaucracy is very much used to acting outside the legal framework, or at the very least, do not think of their daily work as something done only on the firm basis of law.

I would be very much interested to hear your and your readers thoughts and perhaps similar experiences. I am seriously considering refusing to show the card next time, but bring the printed letter of the law which says they are obliged to issue me with a permit.

Sincerely, JDriver

Unsuccessful protest against instatement of NJ CEO at Takeda Pharma: Note weird narratives of exclusionism

mytest

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Hi Blog. I’m coming to this story a bit late (it was first brought up here within comments to a different post), so my apologies — I’m running this blog on a 4-5 day cycle so I can have a life outside of cyberspace. Anyway, check this out, for the record:

Japan’s largest drug maker, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., last month tapped a NJ (a Frenchman by the name of Cristophe Weber) to be its next CEO. This occasioned protests by the founding Takeda family and dissident shareholders, because hiring a NJ to be its leader would allegedly be abhorrent.

Relativism first: We’ve of course had protests and government interventions in other countries when foreigners buy up a strategically-important company. (Let me date myself: I remember the Westland helicopters scandal when I was living in England back in the 1980s!) So business xenophobia is not unique to Japan, of course.

But check out the narratives of justification for the exclusionism being proffered with straight faces:

  1. A NJ CEO of a Japanese company would be “bad for the morale of Japanese employees”. (Why?)
  2. A NJ CEO would necessarily result in “technological transfer overseas” (i.e., NJ are untrustworthy).
  3. This would mean “finances or research and development would be entrusted to NJ” (Would it? This is an unaccountable dictatorship? This is not an issue of NJ-dom: Remember the corruption of the Olympus case, and they were all Japanese at the helm — until a NJ became the whistleblower.)
  4. A NJ CEO is tantamount to a hostile “takeover by foreign capital” (again, those trust issues).
  5. This particular NJ is unknowledgable of Japan’s health care industry of the “traditions and corporate culture” of Takeda (i.e., NJ are ignorant about Japan and Japan’s permutations of industry).

Imagine those arguments being made if a Japanese helmed an overseas company (we already had a Japanese in 2009 placed at the helm of, for example, the Japan Society in New York — an organization founded in 1907 by powerful Americans to explore Japanese society). Accusations of racism would probably fly. But in Japan, not so much. These knee-jerk exclusionary discourses are that hegemonic.

Anyway, the exclusionists (who only hold 1-2% of total shares, so they’re basically soukaiya) did not win out, and Weber became CEO. Nyah. Some referential articles about the Takeda Pharma Case follow. Dr. ARUDOU Debito

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Takeda family protests putting foreigner at drug maker’s helm
June 22, 2014 The Yomiuri Shimbun
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001369207

The founding family of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., the nation’s largest drug manufacturer, is in revolt against the management’s plan to install a Frenchman as the company’s first foreign president.

The firm’s former executives are joining the founding family to thwart a plan to appoint Christophe Weber, 47, president at a shareholders meeting on Friday. But there is little possibility the decision will be reversed. The revolt indicates a deep-rooted aversion among some Japanese toward foreigners assuming top corporate posts.

Weber was headhunted from major British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline.

As a result of its repeated acquisition of huge foreign makers, non-Japanese account for two-thirds of Takeda’s employees. The installation of Weber as president and chief operating officer of the 230-year-old company is seen as a symbol of the firm’s expectations for his international perspective.

About 110 people comprising members of the founding family and the firm’s former executives in April submitted a jointly signed letter of protest to the company. They warned:

—If Weber becomes president and Takeda is acquired by a major foreign firm, Takeda’s superior drug-making technologies may be lost if transferred overseas.

—There is a feared brain drain of Takeda’s researchers, as this could lead to the firm making the same mistakes as major Japanese electrical appliance manufacturers.

Judging Weber’s appointment as president as tantamount to a “takeover by foreign capital,” they stressed that they would never allow finances or research and development to be entrusted to a non-Japanese.

Comparing a foreign president to a takeover by a foreign capital may very well be a leap of logic. Those who submitted the letter of protest hold a mere 1 percent to 2 percent of total shares.

One of the Takeda founding family members, who signed the letter, said: “Weber does not know anything about the Japanese health care industry. He does not know about the tradition and [corporate] culture of Takeda Pharmaceutical, either. It is absurd to install such a person as president.”

As a reason for Weber’s appointment, Takeda Pharmaceutical said: “It was a result of screening candidates from both inside and outside the company with an eye to fairness. Employees will be able to learn a great deal from working under his leadership, as he has been active in global business.”

The company declined to comment on the specific points made in the letter of protest, referring only to the upcoming shareholders meeting.

Takeda Pharmaceutical was established in 1781 in Osaka as a brokerage firm for crude drugs. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Takeda began importing Western drugs ahead of domestic competitors.

The current president, Yasuchika Hasegawa, took over the post in 2003 from Kunio Takeda, a descendent of the founding family. Hasegawa has promoted globalization of the company’s operations by acquiring foreign companies and headhunting non-Japanese from rival firms to appoint them to executive posts.

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Interview: New Takeda President Sees Developing Talent as Priority
By ERIC PFANNER and KANA INAGAKI
The Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2014
http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/07/01/interview-new-takeda-president-sees-developing-talent-as-priority/

PHOTO: Christophe Weber, president and chief operating officer of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., speaks during a news conference in Tokyo on April 2, 2014.

Days after shareholders of Japan’s largest drugmaker, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., approved the company’s first foreign president, the company said it was moving to develop internal talent so it wouldn’t necessarily have to look outside its ranks for a successor the next time around.

The new president, Christophe Weber, who is French, said Tuesday in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that talent development and retention was one of 10 management priorities he and a team of Takeda executives had identified for the coming months. Mr. Weber’s appointment had raised concerns that Takeda lacked managers with the skills to oversee the company’s international expansion.

The news followed a stormy annual meeting last week, where a group of more than 100 shareholders questioned Takeda’s globalization strategy, which has included acquisitions of drugmakers like Nycomed of Switzerland and Millennium Pharamaceuticals of the United States. The appointment of foreign managers like Mr. Weber was bad for the morale of Japanese employees, the dissidents said.

Shareholders overrode those concerns by an overwhelming margin in a vote that Mr. Weber and Yasuchika Hasegawa, the company’s chief executive, described as an endorsement of Takeda’s globalization strategy. While many Japanese companies have been moving to expand internationally as the domestic market stagnates, few have taken the radical step — for a Japanese company — of hiring foreign top executives.

“The globalization of Takeda is good for Japanese employees and it is good for Japan,” Mr. Weber said. “I hope that we’ll have my own internal successor as well.”

Mr. Weber, who joined the company in April, said he had spent his first three months listening to Takeda employees’ concerns and planned to announce a strategy by the end of the year.

“There is a certain fear of the unknown,” he said. “My hope is that they will see that what we’re doing is good for everybody, especially for Japanese employees.”

Mr. Weber is joining Takeda at a sensitive time for pharmaceutical companies in Japan, amid heightened regulatory scrutiny on ethical issues.

Prosecutors in Tokyo said Tuesday they had charged the Japanese unit of Novartis AG with altering research data to make a blood pressure drug, Diovan, appear more effective than competing products. Novartis said it would review the charges and that it had taken steps to improve oversight in Japan.

Takeda, too, has faced scrutiny of its drug promotions, and in March admitted to using “inappropriate expressions” in ads for a hypertension medicine, Blopress, after questions were raised about the accuracy of a graph.

“I think our case is quite different from the Novartis case,” Mr. Hasegawa said, adding that the company had put in place measures to improve oversight.

“The challenge is always how are we sure that 100% of our employees have the same understanding” of the company’s values, Mr. Weber said.
ENDS

Reuters Special Report on Japan’s “Trainee System” as “Sweatshops in Disguise”: Foreign interns pay the price for Japan’s labor shortage

mytest

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Hi Blog. Making an enormous impact was this Reuters expose that came out a little over a week ago exposing the corruption and exploitation of Japan’s deadly foreign “Trainee” System, in place since 1993.

Debito.org has talked at length about this deadly system many times before, start here. But Reuters collates the issues in a very accessible manner in its article below. A PDF with even more information and graphics, entitled “Sweatshops in Disguise”, is available at http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/14/06/JAPAN-LABOR.pdf (archived just in case on Debito.org at ReutersTraineesJapansSweatshopsinDisguise061214).

Once comment on the Reuters website that resonated with me was, “Japan is in this regard no more than a clean Third-World country.”  This horrible system should have been the shame of Japan and stopped long ago.  Instead, as it approaches its 25th anniversary, it’s gearing up for an expansion under the Abe Administration.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

 

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

Special Report: Foreign interns pay the price for Japan’s labor shortage
BY ALEXANDRA HARNEY AND ANTONI SLODKOWSKI
HAKUSAN, Japan/HAIMEN, China, June 12 Thu Jun 12, 2014 
Courtesy: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/06/12/us-japan-labour-special-report-idUKKBN0EN06G20140612

Labor-short Japan expanding foreign trainee program

(Reuters) – Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 was a regular work day at Kameda, a family-owned apparel factory housed in rusting corrugated metal buildings in the western Japanese city of Hakusan. For three Chinese women, it was a day of escape.

At about 6:30 that morning, Ichiro Takahara, a Japanese union organizer, rolled up outside the dormitory where the women lived. Lu Xindi, Qian Juan and Jiang Cheng were waiting – they had been secretly plotting this move for months. Takahara drove them to a convenience store and then to the local labor standards office.

The story behind their flight began three years earlier and more than 900 miles (1,440 km) away in eastern China’s Jiangsu province. There, they signed up with a labor export company to work in Japan’s “foreign technical intern” program, which Tokyo insists is designed to help workers from developing countries learn advanced technical skills.

In a lawsuit filed in a Japanese court, Lu, Qian and Jiang claim that rather than training them, Kameda forced them to work excessive hours at below minimum wage. In 2011, their busiest year, the women were working 16 hours a day, six days a week, with 15 minutes for lunch, according to the lawsuit and work records. For that, they were paid around $4 per hour, according to records reviewed by Reuters.

Other former interns have made similar allegations in dozens of lawsuits filed in Japan. Their case stands out because during the time Lu, Qian and Jiang were working there, Kameda was putting pleats in Burberry BRBY.L clothes.

Japan is a key market for the British luxury brand, generating 12.8 percent of Burberry’s pre-tax profit, or around 55 million pounds ($92.5 million), in the year to March 31, 2013.

The profits came from licensing arrangements, some of which date back decades. Today, Burberry maintains licensing arrangements with four Japanese companies. The largest of these is with apparel manufacturer and retailer Sanyo Shokai, a relationship that began in 1970. Though most of what Burberry produces in Japan is sold there, factories in Japan also supply two stores in Hong Kong that sell the Burberry Blue and Burberry Black lines. Kameda was putting pleats in shirts and skirts sold by Sanyo Shokai under the Burberry Black line.

Burberry declined to allow Reuters to speak to any executives directly about the Kameda case. Through a public relations agency, it issued a statement saying Burberry had asked Sanyo Shokai to terminate its relationship with Kameda in late 2012 because Kameda was not complying with Burberry’s ethical standards.

Among Kameda’s other clients at this time were some of Japan’s largest trading houses: Itochu 8001.T and Mitsui Bussan Inter-Fashion (MIF), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mitsui & Co 8031.T. Mitsui said it was unaware of the lawsuit until Reuters contacted the company for comment; MIF said it would monitor the lawsuit and then decide about the company’s relationship with Kameda. Itochu said it was not aware that Kameda employed foreign technical interns.

Kameda’s website lists department store Isetan 3099.T as a client. A spokesman for the retailer, now known as Mitsukoshi Isetan, said that it has only been buying women’s apparel from Kameda since January.

The most recent government data show there are about 155,000 technical interns in Japan. Nearly 70 percent are from China, where some labor recruiters require payment of bonds worth thousands of dollars to work in Japan. Interns toil in apparel and food factories, on farms and in metal-working shops. In these workplaces, labor abuse is endemic: A 2012 investigation by Japanese labor inspectors found 79 percent of companies that employed interns were violating labor laws. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare said it would use strict measures, including prosecution, toward groups that repeatedly violated the laws or failed to follow its guidance in their treatment of technical interns.

Critics say foreign interns have become an exploited source of cheap labor in a country where, despite having the world’s most rapidly ageing population, discussion of increased immigration is taboo. The U.S. State Department, in its 2013 Trafficking in Persons report, criticized the program’s use of “extortionate contracts”, restrictions on interns’ movements, and the imposition of heavy fees if workers leave.

Japan faces a worsening labor shortage, not only in family-run farms and factories such as Kameda but in construction and service industries. It is a major reason that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is planning a further expansion of the trainee program.

TRAINEES, NOT WORKERS

Lu, Qian and Jiang arrived in Osaka by boat on Nov. 19, 2009. Lu was 30, Qian 28, and Jiang just 19.

The women had signed up to work in Japan with a labor export company in the city of Haimen, not far from Shanghai, called Haimen Corporation for Foreign Economic & Technical Cooperation.

A woman at the company’s office who gave her name as Chen confirmed that the company sent workers to Japan to work in apparel factories. But she declined to discuss the Kameda case, or even confirm that the company had sent Lu, Qian and Jiang to Japan.

The Haimen firm then signed an agreement with Shanghai SFECO International Business Service, a subsidiary of state-owned company China SFECO Group, according to Guan Xiaojun, head of the Japan trainee department. Shanghai SFECO signed a contract with the Ishikawa Apparel Association and sent Lu, Qian and Jiang to Japan.

Guan said Lu, Qian and Jiang probably paid about RMB30,000, or more than $4,800, in “service fees”, as well as a separate fee of RMB4,550 that would be returned to the women after three years as long as they did not violate Japanese law. Asked about the accusations in the lawsuit, Guan said her company had only dispatched the workers. “Labor disputes have nothing to do with us,” she said.

The rules of the program specified that Lu, Qian and Jiang’s first year in Japan was to be devoted to training. Japanese law bars employing foreigners as unskilled laborers. But quietly, the country has been bringing in foreigners since at least the 1980s, originally to train staff of companies with operations overseas. The practice was formalized as the technical intern program in 1993.

The women received 18 days of Japanese language training in Osaka. Then, the Ishikawa Apparel Association put them on a bus for the drive to Kameda, said their lawyer, Shingo Moro.

Kameda specializes in making pleats. It had relied on foreign interns for about a decade because it couldn’t find enough workers in Japan, Yoshihiko Kameda, its president, told Reuters.

The conditions the lawsuit describes are a world apart from the clean, efficient image Japan projects to the world, and a far cry from the quintessentially British reputation on which Burberry trades.

Not long after their arrival, the apparel association took the women’s passports and passed them to Kameda in violation of Japanese law protecting interns’ freedom of movement, according to the lawsuit. An Ishikawa Apparel Association spokeswoman, who declined to give her name, said the group does not conduct inappropriate supervision and training, but declined further comment citing the lawsuit.

At the factory, Lu, Qian and Jiang’s overtime stretched to more than 100 hours a month, the lawsuit says. A timesheet prepared with data supplied by Kameda to the Japanese labor standards bureau shows Lu logged an average of 208 hours a month doing overtime and “homework” during her second year in Japan. That is equivalent to almost 16 hours a day, six days a week. Japanese labor policy considers 80 hours of overtime a month the “death by overwork” threshold.

For this, Lu earned about 400 yen, about $4, an hour at Kameda, the timesheet shows. The local minimum wage at the time was 691 yen an hour, and Japanese law requires a premium of as much as 50 percent of the base wage for overtime.

In addition, during lunch breaks and after work, the women were asked to do “homework”. For this, they were paid by the piece, rather than by the hour.

At night, Lu, Qian and Jiang slept in an old factory building, their lawyer says. To catch rats, Kameda brought in a cat, which brought fleas. Lu and Qian suffered so many flea bites they developed skin conditions, the lawsuit says. Evidence compiled for the lawsuit shows the women’s legs covered in bites.

REHEARSING THE INSPECTION

Like Lu, Qian and Jiang, most interns come through a program supported by the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO), a foundation funded by the Japanese government and member groups. JITCO is also tasked with ensuring its members’ internship programs are properly run.

Kameda’s factory is in Hakusan, an industrial town of about 100,000 people on Japan’s west coast, a center for Japan’s once booming apparel industry. That industry has largely been reduced to family-run factories, such as Kameda’s, which mostly do small orders with quick turnarounds at low margins. Around the Kameda factory are several others that employ foreign trainees from China and Southeast Asia.

In November 2011, Kameda told the interns the plant was going to be inspected by JITCO, according to testimony the women gave Takahara’s activist group. The inspection came after four Chinese interns at a nearby apparel factory – also a member of the Ishikawa Apparel Association – fled to Takahara’s shelter and filed a complaint about labor issues.

Kameda, who lives in a large house with a manicured Japanese garden opposite the factory where he used to house the women, tried to hide their working conditions from JITCO inspectors. Kameda threatened to send them back to China if they didn’t do as they were told, according to their testimony.

The day before the inspector arrived, Kameda gave Lu, Qian and Jiang fake payslips, according to their testimony. Together with an interpreter and a representative from the apparel association, Kameda told them how to respond to questions from the inspector. They rehearsed their answers twice. The next day, when the inspector asked them if they still had their passports, the women knew to say that they did.

JITCO declined to comment on the Kameda case.

Asked about alleged abuses in the program, JITCO said in a statement that it will continue to provide legal protection for interns. JITCO will also help supervising organizations adhere to immigration and labor laws and regulations “by providing all kinds of advice, and through public relations such as seminars and teaching materials”.

In the interview with Reuters, Kameda said the interns approached him about how they should respond to the JITCO inspection several times. He denied coaching or threatening to send them home if they did not answer as instructed. But he acknowledged telling Lu, Qian and Jiang that they might be sent home, as workers at the nearby factory had been.

He also recalled telling the workers their overtime – which he said exceeded 100 hours a month at that time – might be a problem for the JITCO inspector. In fact, JITCO even warned him the interns were working too much overtime, Kameda said. Asked about this inspection, JITCO said it would not comment on individual cases.

Kameda acknowledged keeping some of his workers’ passports, but said it was at their request. He said the women sometimes worked 100 hours of overtime a month and may have put in as many as 173 hours.

Kameda also said he initially paid them less than the legal wage. But he insisted the underpayment was the result of an administrative error. The additional hours and homework, he said, were provided at the women’s behest. Kameda warned the workers that the hours they were working were longer than Japanese labor law allowed, but the workers expressed a “strong desire” to continue working long hours, he told Reuters.

No one from the Ishikawa Apparel Association visited Kameda prior to a JITCO inspection, the apparel group’s spokeswoman said. She said she was not aware of any use of falsified payslips, or of any coaching of Kameda interns. She confirmed that the interns had complained to the association about their housing. The association, she said, asked Kameda to respond to the interns’ concerns.

Lu, Qian and Jiang, who have since returned to China, declined requests for an interview. Interns who have sued their former Japanese employers can face difficulties upon returning home, including intimidation, lawsuits and penalties from the Chinese companies who sent them to Japan – and also pressure from family members ashamed of their problems overseas.

THE UNDOING

The women complained several times to Kameda about their living conditions, labor organizer Takahara says, but nothing changed until they complained to the Ishikawa Apparel Association. After the group passed on this complaint, Kameda moved the women into temporary housing while he cleaned the converted factory where they slept. It was two months before they could move back into the factory, according to Takahara.

Around August 2012, the workers reached out to Takahara’s group. Could he help the workers negotiate a settlement like the one the Chinese interns received at the nearby apparel factory? Through a colleague who spoke Chinese, Takahara told them they would not be able to continue to work after they filed their complaint. He advised the interns to keep working and collect evidence. Over the next few months, Takahara and his colleagues worked out a plan with the Kameda interns.

Takahara, now 62, had been involved in brokering settlements for foreign workers for more than a decade in western Japan. Over the years, Takahara, who also works as a gardener, had worked out a script that he followed several times a year with foreign interns with grievances.

Because workers who complain have been forcibly deported, Takahara and other union representatives encourage interns to fulfill their contracts. They are meticulous in their documentation: keeping time cards, sending faxes from convenience stores so there is a dated record of the communication, alerting local labor inspectors before bringing in interns to report alleged violations to make sure staff are on hand.

The morning of their escape, Takahara drove the women from Kameda to a convenience store. There, they sent a fax to the factory requesting paid holiday until Nov. 19, the day their contract expired. Takahara then took them to the local labor standards office to testify about their experience at the factory. The inspectors were expecting them.

In late 2012, Kameda agreed to pay 1.3 million yen each to Lu, Qian and Jiang. In addition, the labor standards bureau ordered Kameda to pay 260,000 yen collectively to the three women for the “homework” they had been required to do on a piece rate. In the end, the women each received about 1.4 million yen, or nearly $14,000 at current exchange rates, Takahara says.

Kameda told Reuters he paid the full amount the labor standards bureau demanded and did everything asked of him. He blames Takahara’s group for stirring up resentment among the workers. “They were completely happy until they left and sued us,” Kameda said.

Moro, the women’s lawyer, says Kameda only paid what he owed the women for the second and third year of their time at his factory, and the homework settlement was not based on an accurate calculation of the hours the women worked.

On October 9, 2013, Moro filed suit on behalf of the three Chinese interns in a court in Kanazawa, naming Kameda and the Ishikawa Apparel Association as defendants. The suit asks for unpaid wages, expenses and damages for pain and suffering amounting to about 11.2 million yen, or about $109,000.

EXPANDING THE PROGRAM

It wasn’t until late 2012, after Lu, Qian and Jiang had left the factory and their complaints reported in the Mainichi newspaper, that a Burberry executive visited Kameda. Burberry asked Sanyo Shokai to terminate the relationship with Kameda “due to non-compliance and a lack of cooperation in the implementation of Burberry’s ethical standards,” Burberry said in its statement.

Burberry’s code of conduct, which covers licensees such as Sanyo Shokai, prohibits homework and bans the use of bonded labor and the payment of “deposits” to employers. It requires factories to pay at least the national legal minimum wage and provide safe, clean accommodation for workers. Workers should not be required to work more than 48 hours a week or 11 hours a day, the code says. Overtime should be both voluntary and no more than 12 hours a week; it should not be demanded on a regular basis. Burberry also requires all factories to make sure workers keep their “passports, ID cards, bank cards and similar documents to facilitate their unhindered freedom of movement”.

The luxury brand only began auditing Japanese suppliers for ethical compliance in 2009, the year Lu, Qian and Jiang arrived. Burberry’s two auditors started, according to a person familiar with the company’s activities, with the largest factories and those that produced finished goods.

Burberry’s current licensing arrangement with Sanyo Shokai and Mitsui will expire in June 2015. Under the terms of a new license agreement, the Burberry Blue and Black labels will continue as Blue Label and Black Label, dropping the Burberry name. Burberry will continue to audit the supply chain.

Today, about 37 of the approximately 270 factories that supply Burberry branded items to licensees in Japan use foreign interns supported by JITCO. These factories employ around 307 JITCO interns. Burberry now offers training and access to a hotline in Chinese.

“Burberry takes the welfare of workers in all areas of its supply chain extremely seriously,” the company said in a statement to Reuters. “In the case of foreign contract workers in particular, we are very focused on ensuring that they operate in conditions that adhere to the Burberry Ethical Trading Code of Conduct.”

Japan strengthened protection for interns in 2010, putting them under Japanese labor laws for all three years of their internship. But the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, which represents more than 30,000 attorneys, argues the intern program should be scrapped on human rights grounds.

Kameda says his factory no longer employs foreign interns. He thinks Japan should drop the pretense of internships and allow foreigners to work as laborers. “Regardless of the women’s requests, I regret that I didn’t do things properly,” he wrote in an emailed response to questions from Reuters. He intends to counsel partner factories that employ interns “so what Kameda is experiencing won’t happen again.”

(Additional reporting by Kevin Krolicki, James Topham and Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo, and the Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Bill Tarrant)
ENDS

Saitama’s Konsho Gakuen school, “Japanese Only” since 1976, repeals rule only after media pressure, despite prefecture knowing about it since 2012

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Significant news:  In addition to the bars, bathhouses, internet cafes, stores, restaurants, apartment rental agencies, schools, and even hospitals, etc. that have “Japanese Only” policies in Japan, the media has now publicized a longstanding case of a tertiary education institution doing the same.  A place called Konsho Gakuen (aka “Saitama Cooking College”, “Saitama Confectionary College” in brochures featured on NHK) in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, offering instruction in cooking, nutrition, and confections, has since it opened in 1976 never accepted NJ into their student body.  This exclusion was even written in their recruitment material as a “policy” (houshin):

konshogakuenJapaneseOnlyhoushin

People knew about this.  A Peruvian student denied entry complained to the authorities in 2012.  But after some perfunctory scolding from Saitama Prefecture, everyone realized that nothing could be done about it.  Racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan.  Nobody could be penalized, and it was unclear if anyone could lose a license as an educational institution.

So finally it hits the media.  And after some defiance by the school (claiming to NHK below inter alia that they don’t want to be responsible for NJ getting jobs in Japan; how conscientious), they caved in after about a week and said that the policy would be reversed (suck on the excuses they offered the media for why they had been doing it up to now — including the standard, “we didn’t know it was wrong” and “it’s no big deal”).

Debito.org would normally cheer for this.  But the school is just taking their sign down.  Whether they will actually ALLOW foreigners to join their student body is something that remains to be seen (and the J-media is remarkably untenacious when it comes to following up on stories of racial discrimination).  When we see enrollments that are beyond token acceptances (or happen at all, actually) over the course of a few years, then we’ll cheer.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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‘No foreigners allowed’ cooking school backtracks, will accept foreign applicants
May 23, 2014 Mainichi Japan, Courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140523p2a00m0na018000c.html

A private vocational school in Saitama Prefecture which had barred foreigners from enrollment has reversed course and will begin allowing foreign applicants for the 2015 academic year, the Mainichi has learned.

The Mainichi Shimbun reported in its May 23 morning edition that the Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture-based Konsho Gakuen states explicitly in its student recruitment material that “foreigners cannot enroll. This is school policy. Please be aware that this school does not accept foreigners.” Konsho Gakuen, established in 1976, operates three schools, one each for cooking, nutrition and confections.

A school representative told the Mainichi that it was “not accepting press inquiries,” and that the school’s policy “is exactly what it says (in the pamphlet). Foreigners had better go somewhere else.” According to a source related to the education sector in the prefecture, the school was “worried there would be trouble if it had many students staying in Japan illegally.”

Meanwhile, the prefectural educational affairs department said that the same “no foreigners” passage was included in Konsho Gakuen’s materials for both academic 2013 and 2014. Furthermore, the prefecture had formally requested in January and August last year that the school “select students for admission fairly, based on ability and aptitude,” but that Konsho Gakuen had not responded.

At about 11 a.m. on May 23, after the story had appeared in that morning’s edition of the Mainichi Shimbun, Konsho Gakuen board chairman Akio Imai called the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare — which overseas cooking schools — to apologize, according to ministry sources.

Imai was quoted as saying, “Starting from this academic year’s entrance exams, we will begin accepting foreign applicants.” He also apparently said the no-foreigners passage in Konsho Gakuen’s student recruitment materials would be deleted.
ENDS

Original Japanese article:

埼玉の専門学校:外国人入学を拒否「開設以来の方針」
毎日新聞 2014年05月23日 07時45分, Courtesy of MS
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20140523k0000m040129000c.html

来年4月の入学者向けに作られた埼玉県製菓専門学校の募集要項
調理師や栄養士を養成する埼玉県熊谷市の私立専門学校が、生徒の募集要項に「外国人の入学は出来ない」と明記していることが分かった。県が公正な選抜をするよう依頼したが、運営法人は「開設以来の学校の方針」として応じなかった。行政側に指導権限がないことから、差別的な取り扱いが是正されない状態が続いている。【奥山はるな】

外国人の受け入れを拒否しているのは、学校法人今昌学園(今井明巨理事長)が運営する埼玉県調理師専門学校と同栄養専門学校、同製菓専門学校の3校。書類選考と面接で入学者を決めているが、来年4月の入学者向け募集要項に「外国人の入学は出来ません。これは本校の方針です」と明記している。

今春や昨春入学分の要項も同様で、連絡を受けた県学事課は昨年1月と8月、法人に「本人の能力や適性をもって公正に選抜してほしい」と依頼したが応じなかった。

取材に対し、今井理事長は「(取材は)受けられない。理由はない」「募集要項にある通りだ。別の学校に行けばよい」と話したが、県内の教育関係者によると「不法滞在の学生が増えたら困る」と理由を説明しているという。

県学事課は「私学なので県が法的根拠をもって指導するのは難しいが、他校でこのような事例は聞いたことがない。誠に遺憾」と法人を非難。調理師などの養成機関として指定している厚生労働省関東信越厚生局は「外国人の入学について法令上の定めはなく、はっきり改善を求められない」とした。

文部科学省専修学校教育振興室は「教育基本法が定める教育の機会均等は外国人にも可能な限り適用されるべきだというのが通説で、不当な差別は望ましくない」とする一方で、「背景や事情があるのかもしれず個別具体的には判断できない」としている。

法人は1976年設立。県によると、3専門学校の在学者(5月1日現在)は調理師156人▽栄養140人▽製菓83人−−の計379人。

国籍による差別を巡っては、試合会場でサポーターが「JAPANESE ONLY」と書いた横断幕を掲げた問題で、3月にサッカーJリーグ1部の浦和レッズがリーグから処分を受けた

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

THE JAPAN TIMES, MAY 23, 2014, NATIONAL
School axes policy of barring foreigners
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI STAFF WRITER
(excerpt of the bottom half of the article, full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/05/23/national/school-axes-policy-of-barring-foreigners/

[…] When contacted by The Japan Times, Imai said he had decided to ditch the policy and said all three schools would start accepting applications from foreign students from the next academic year.

The decision came only a few months after an incident at a J. League soccer game fueled a nationwide debate about racial discrimination. At the game, fans of the Urawa Reds hung a banner above the stadium entrance declaring, in English, “Japanese Only.” The J. League punished the team for failing to remove the banner by forcing it to play its next home game in an empty stadium.

“I acknowledge that the (‘no-foreigner’ part) of our admission policy was terribly misleading,” Imai said without elaborating.

Imai said the remote location of his cooking schools in Kumagaya kept them somewhat isolated from the trends of globalization, making the mere thought of taking in foreign students “inconceivable.”

“I also acknowledge that we’ve had this fear about what would happen if we accepted foreigners. We’ve been afraid that there will be unpredictable consequence if we do,” Imai said without elaborating.

As for the no-foreigner policy, Imai said he never thought it would be considered discriminatory or xenophobic, despite warnings from the prefectural government, which has no authority to order a change in the private school’s policy.

“I thought other schools were doing the same, too,” he said.

After media pressure built, however, he spoke with the schools’ principals and decided Friday that he should make the admission policy “fairer” and bring it “up to date.”
ENDS

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

埼玉の専門学校が外国人の入学拒否
NHK 5月23日 12時14分, Courtesy of MS
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20140523/k10014668071000.html (with video)

埼玉の専門学校が外国人の入学拒否
調理師などを養成する埼玉県熊谷市にある専門学校が生徒の募集要項に、「外国人の入学はできません」と記載して入学を断っていたことが分かり、埼玉県は運営する学校法人に改善を指導しましたが、これまでに応じていないということです。

この専門学校は、埼玉県熊谷市にある学校法人「今昌学園」が運営する調理師や栄養士などの専門学校3校です。

埼玉県によりますと、おととし11月、これらの専門学校の生徒の募集要項に「外国人の入学はできません」と記載されていると外部から指摘があり、県が調べたところ外国人の入学を断っていることが分かりました。

埼玉県は外国人の入学を認めないのは不適切だとして、学校法人に対し、能力や適性に基づいた公正な入学試験を行うよう口頭や文書で繰り返し改善を指導したということです。

これに対し、学校法人は「設立以来の学校の方針だ」として指導に応じていないということです。
「今昌学園」の役員はNHKの取材に対し、「外国人を受け入れないのは就職まで面倒をみることができないためで、昭和47年の設立以来受け入れていない」と話しています。

厚生労働相「調査し適切に対応」

この専門学校を調理師免許を取るための養成施設として指定している田村厚生労働大臣は、「差別的な扱いがあるとすれば望ましくない。どうして拒否しているか背景をしっかり調査したうえで、適切に対応したい」と述べ、学校関係者から聞き取り調査を行い、指導を行うかどうか検討する方針を示しました。

文部科学相「拒否は大変遺憾」

下村文部科学大臣は「外国人であることで差別があってはならない。意欲や能力、志がある人に対しては日本人、外国人を問わずチャンスを提供するべきで外国人という理由で入学を拒否することは大変遺憾だ。埼玉県に適切に指導してもらいたい」と話しました。
ENDS

Counterdemos against racist rally by Zaitokukai in Osaka Nanba May 11, 2014: Brief on emerging narratives fighting fire with fire

mytest

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Hi Blog. For a change (compared to these videos for example here, here, and here), have a look at Japan’s xenophobic public rallies from the perspective of anti-racism protesters. This is from May 11, 2014, a counter-rally against Zaitokukai in Osaka Nanba, drowning out Zaitokukai spokesman Sakurai Makoto. Good stuff.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYhK-7Lc1qw
Courtesy http://shitback.tumblr.com

A couple of things I’ve noticed within the emerging narratives of Japan’s xenophobic demos:

  1. The use of the word “reishisuto” (racist) both in Japanese and English, and the pat use of “sabetsu“, to get their point across. This way the narrative doesn’t split between the Newcomers and the Oldcomers, as discrimination towards these two groups is very different. But counter-demonstrator DO bear signs that say “jinshu sabetsu“, or racial discrimination. Good. Looks like the Urawa Reds fans’  “Japanese Only” banner last March finally cracked that rhetorical nut.
  2. The use of the word “shame” (haji) once again to express displeasure, but no signs saying how NJ are residents too and such deserve rights.  As I’ve argued before, until we make that connection, there’s still a layer of “othering” going on here.
  3. The use of the same rough language and simple drowning out of xenophobic messages through noise and chant. Fighting fire with fire.
  4. The popularization of the “f*ck you finger” (aka “The Bird”, not in common use in Japan in my experience until now).

Other videos of demos and counter demos are welcome in the Comments Section. No doubt there will be more. I’m just glad that people are finally and firmly speaking out against these issues. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Hitler’s 125th birthday march in Tokyo Ikebukuro video: It’s only a few illogical dullards who can but question the nationality (thus loyalty) of dissenters

mytest

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Hi Blog. On Sunday, April 20, there was a march in Tokyo Ikebukuro to celebrate the 125th birthday of Hitler. Yes, you read that right.  And an article came out about it in Japan Today’s Kuchikomi column.  Have a read and then I’ll comment:

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

Marchers in Ikebukuro fete Hitler’s 125th birthday anniversary
JAPAN TODAY KUCHIKOMI APR. 25, 2014, courtesy of BS

http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/marchers-in-ikebukuro-fete-hitlers-125th-birthday-anniversary

A group of demonstrators paraded through Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district last Sunday, criticizing China and South Korea while advocating the restoration of the “Great East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere” proposed by Japan in the 1940s. The procession this time was different from those organized by other groups seen marching on Tokyo’s streets, as, in addition to the 16-ray rising sun flag of Japan, the participants spearheading the march openly waved the Nazi flag—an act that’s illegal in Germany.

hitlerbdaysalutes042014

(And gave Nazi salutes…)

The demonstration, including the flags, can be viewed in the YouTube video below.

According to J-Cast News (April 23), Sunday’s demonstration was organized by an organization that calls itself the “Gokoku Shishi no Kai” (Group of Warriors Protecting the Nation). They assembled in a small park in East Ikebukuro, the location of the gallows in the former Sugamo Prison, where former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo and six other Class A war criminals were executed by hanging in December 1948.

“To keep the achievements of our illustrious predecessors from going to waste, we advocate the restoration of the Great East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere, minus participation by China and the two Koreas,” one of the organizers told the assembled demonstrators. Referring to the date as coinciding with the 125th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birthday, he also noted that “The empire of Japan and Nazi Germany have been portrayed as villains, and in Germany glorifying the Nazis will get a person jailed. We would like to re-investigate the 1993 Kono Statement and Nazi Germany as well, to rehabilitate their good acts and restore their honor.”

When asked to name the Nazis’ good acts, the speaker was able to come up with the autobahn, but not much else.

Approximately 40 marchers, who also carried the flags of Tibet and the Taiwan Independence Party, chanted slogans such as “Let’s tie up with Asia, excepting ‘Shina’ (China) and ‘Chosen’ (Koreans),” “Japan should learn from the Nazis’ good points” and “Long live the Chancellor (Hitler)!”

A smaller group of counter-demonstrators also showed up and the two sides exchanged taunts, but did not exchange blows.

As the demonstration broke up, the organizer was quoted as saying that the police had requested they delay the march due to President Obama’s impending visit to Tokyo.

“But I told them, “It can only be this day (Hitler’s birthday), and kept pushing for a permit. We should all tell the police how much we appreciate their consideration.”
ENDS

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

Here’s the video from Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2jKx_J5TUw#t=615

COMMENT: I’m glad this was filmed (Leni Riefenstahl did a much better service portraying her Nazis!), because it reveals two things:

1) The banality of evil. “Warriors Protecting the Nation”?  All we really see are a small group of dorks playing at hate speech, trying to attract attention to themselves by saying things that they know will inflame historical passions of irrationality and prejudice.  It’s kinda like high-schoolers listening to heavy metal music (or, okay, I’m dating myself:  gangsta rap) really, really loud to annoy their parents.  But who’s listening on, on either side?  There are far more cops there keeping the peace than there are demonstrators waving their flags.  Considering how much bigger their last demonstration was (which also included Nazi flags), is this all they could muster for Hitler’s momentous 125th?

(Compare with their previous: )

TokyoEdogawaSwastika032314

2) Their inability to make a cogent argument. At minute 2:55 in the video, they face a dissenter, and the group’s counterattack is swift and hive-minded. Instead of engaging in any form of logical debate, all they do is swarm in at their critic and say over and over again, “Anta nani-jin? Nani-jin? Anta nihonjin? Chuugokujin? Kankokujin?” (What are you? Japanese? Chinese? Korean?) As if a true Japanese couldn’t possibly be dissenting. By minute 5:20, they aver that it musta been a Shina-jin (the historically-unflattering word for Chinese), as if that settles their hash.

And if you watch to the end, it all just breaks down into a group of dullards who go out for a beer afterwards. Herr ringleader is not of the mettle to lead a beer hall putsch.  Clearly these dwebes have nothing better to do with their weekend. Dr. ARUDOU Debito

Mainichi: Discrimination against NJ in housing rentals highlighted in Tokyo Govt survey; like “Tokyo Sharehouse” with its new Tokyo-wide system of Japanese-Only rentals?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  A number of people sent me this article about the Tokyo Metropolitan government surveying NJ discrimination levels (I guess it takes an Olympics before people start caring about foreigners; watch this best behavior dry up afterwards).  It is indeed good to see people acknowledging that discrimination towards NJ exists, and that the media is covering it.  And that the most common answer by respondents chosen (since it is probably the most normalized and systemic NJ discrimination) is in residence rentals (not to mention the rise in awareness of hate speech; hurrah).  I’ll return to the subject of realtors again right after the articles.

But one just has to love the methodology when it comes to the “how to improve things” section part of the survey:  The leading questions assuming that Japanese and foreigners are “different”.  After all, Japan is unique, therefore anyone who is not a Japanese is not a member of the unique J-culture club, therefore foreigners must be different because they aren’t, er, unique like us Japanese (as opposed to everyone being treated like a human being with similar interests and needs, such as, er, shelter and equal access to housing?).  And those “differences” must be explained (as opposed to legislated away with anti-discrimination laws?) to them and us, no matter how long that takes, and regardless of how vague a concept these “cultural differences” are.  Such a convenient patsy for differential treatment is “culture”, yes sir.

Anyway, here is the article in E and J.  Further comment follows:

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

Discrimination against foreigners in renting apartments highlighted in survey
April 10, 2014 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140410p2a00m0na005000c.html

Discrimination against foreigners in renting apartments or other residences was given as an ongoing violation of their human rights by almost half of respondents to a survey by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The survey was conducted in November and December last year with preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games in mind. The survey was offered to 3,000 randomly chosen Tokyo residents, with responses gathered from 1,573 people.

A representative of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s human rights division said, “Violations of foreigners’ human rights continue, and we’d like to improve awareness of the issue within six years from now (when the Olympics are scheduled.)”

In a multiple-answer question on human rights violations against foreigners, “the difficulty of renting apartments or other residences” was the most common answer chosen, with 45.6 percent of respondents selecting it. Next was “receiving disadvantageous treatment at work or during job hunting” at 34.5 percent, followed by “insufficient acceptance in community activities and places of communication” at 21.9 percent and “bullying or harassment at work or school” at 21.1 percent. With the repeated instances of hate speech directed at foreigners going on around the country, 19.9 percent of respondents chose “discriminatory speech and actions.”

Regarding what is necessary to get along with foreigners, 60.1 percent answered “inform foreigners of the differences between traditions and habits in their country and Japan,” 44.3 percent answered, “create more opportunities for communication such as by encouraging participation in local society,” 41.1 percent replied, “inform Japanese of the differences between traditions and habits in Japan and foreigners’ countries,” and 24.3 percent responded, “improve foreign language support at help organizations.”
ENDS

Original Japanese:

都民人権世論調査:外国人への人権侵害、「アパート入居困難」半数近く 「差別的な表現や言動ある」は2割 /東京
毎日新聞 2014年04月10日 地方版
http://mainichi.jp/area/tokyo/news/20140410ddlk13040128000c.html

都は、2020年東京五輪の開催決定を受け、都民の人権意識に関する調査を行い、その結果を公表した。外国人に対してどのような人権侵害が起きているかという質問に、半数近くが「アパートなど住宅への入居が困難なこと」と回答した。都人権部の担当者は「外国人への人権侵害は依然として残っており、(五輪が開かれる)6年後を目標に人権意識を高める啓発を強めたい」としている。

調査は昨年11〜12月、住民基本台帳から無作為に抽出した3000人の都民を対象に行い、1573人から回答を得た。

「外国人への人権侵害」は、複数回答で「アパートなど住宅への入居が困難なこと」が最多の45・6%。「就職・職場で不利な扱いを受ける」34・5%▽「地域社会の活動や交流の場での受け入れが十分でない」21・9%▽「職場・学校等で嫌がらせやいじめを受ける」21・1%−−と続いた。また、ヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)が各地で相次いでいることなどを受け、19・9%が「差別的な表現や言動が行われること」を挙げた。

また、外国人と共存するために必要と思う取り組みは、「外国人に日本の風習や習慣の違いを周知する」60・1%▽「地域社会の活動に参加を促すなど交流の機会を増やす」44・3%▽「日本人に外国の風習や習慣の違いを周知する」41・1%▽「各種の相談機関で外国語対応を充実させる」24・3%−−となった。【和田浩幸】

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

COMMENT:  Now consider this recent email from John F.:

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

April 10, 2014
Dear Debito, First of all, I would like to thank you for your tireless efforts in fighting discrimination in Japan. I especially appreciate how you choose to try and educate those who engage in discrimination rather than simply expressing condemnation. As an American living in Tokyo, my personal experiences with discrimination have fortunately been few and far between. From time to time, though, I have felt as if my human dignity was violated. I wish I were more courageous in rationally approaching such incidents of discrimination rather than keeping my feelings bottled up.

I would like to share with you a few specific examples of housing discrimination in Tokyo concerning share houses, and how a certain popular website advertises share house properties on the Internet. The link to the website I am referring to is tokyosharehouse.com

I had a rather unfortunate experience visiting a property advertised on that website last August. The property is called ‘Share Vie Mizue’, located in the Edogawa Ward of Tokyo. Here is the link to the property’s description: http://tokyosharehouse.com/eng/house/detail/470/

I discovered the property’s website while reading a review of it on Gaijinpot. As the property is advertised in English, I was very enthusiastic about checking it out. Naturally, I supposed it would be very welcoming towards international residents. To make a long story short, the representative who showed me the property reluctantly informed me that the owners did not welcome international residents. He did his best to dissuade me from attempting to rent a room there, and tried to offer me a place at another location. It seemed as if he was personally embarrassed that the owner of this particular property would discriminate against international guests. I wasn’t angry with him, but I was extremely upset that I took the time to visit the property on the assumption that I would be welcome due to the website being advertised in English. The website made no indication that international guests were not welcome at this property. Perhaps, hopefully, they have changed their policies since. However, the website still makes no indication that international guests are not welcome at that particular property.

Having recently returned to Tokyo from five months back in New York, I am again searching for a share house to live in. I have come across tokyosharehouse.com again, and what I discovered while browsing other properties on their website still disturbs me.

Please have a look at this link: http://tokyosharehouse.com/eng/house/detail/1324/

tokyosharehouselafeliceikejiri041414

Now I am not female, but I find it rather painful to see the requirements for the ‘La Felice Ikejiri’ property. The requirements for renting a room are listed as ‘Female / Foreigner_x’.

tokyosharehouselafeliceikejiricrop041414

At first I was a bit confused as to what this means. Is it a ‘Foreigner Only’ house for females? If you scroll down further to ‘Move-in Conditions and Managing Style’ section, you’ll notice that there is no category of requirements for foreigners. The description of the property is accompanied by a side bar on the right describing whom I assume to be the property owners, ‘Tokyo Sanku Monogatari Co., Ltd.’ or ‘Many Smile Co.’

I am sorry to write you such a long email, but coming across these listings really makes my blood boil, especially after the personal experience I had. Although language is not specifically a problem, I find it rather unusual that a real estate website would choose to advertise properties in English where non-Japanese renters are not welcome. There are other properties on the site with similar discriminatory policies. This website has been advertised on Gaijinpot in the past as well. The owners of this website should be ashamed of themselves for advertising such properties, especially when they sheepishly use euphemistic descriptions like ‘Foreigner_x’ rather than what they really mean – ‘No Foreigners Allowed’.

I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way. As share houses become more mainstream, I am afraid more and more non-Japanese apartment seekers on low budgets will be met with housing discrimination. Thank you for taking the time to read my email, and thank you for helping to restore dignity to those who have been victimized by discrimination.  Best regards, John F

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

COMMENT CONTINUES:  Y’know, that’s funny.  Why would this company go through all the trouble to put up a website in English and then use it to refuse NJ?  So they’d look international?  Or so they’d look exclusionary to an international audience?  Especially since there’s no room for misunderstanding (not to mention, no room, har har) when you look at the Japanese version of these websites:

tokyosharehouselafeliceikejirijcrop041414
(Complete tangent, but it’s also funny how the “foreigner” image is somehow redolent of Saturn…)

Yep, that’s “Gaikokujin Taiou Fuka“.  Foreigners will not receive service.  Japanese Only.  No cutesy “Foreigner_x”.  Whole page, for context:

tokyosharehouselafeliceikejirij041414

Other places within this rental system with “No Foreigners” rules (gotta love how they pretentiously put the names in faux French, yet won’t take French people):

  1. Claris Sangenjaya (English) http://tokyosharehouse.com/eng/house/detail/1325/ (Japanese) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/1325/
  2. Domondo Sangenjaya (English) http://tokyosharehouse.com/eng/house/detail/1095/, (Japanese) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/1095/
  3. Aviril Shibuya (Japanese Only in both meanings):  http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/1431/
  4. Pleades Sakura Shin-machi  (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/847/
  5. La Vita Komazawa  (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/500/
  6. La Levre Sakura Shin-machi (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/846/
  7. Leviair Meguro (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/506/
  8. Flora Meguro (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/502/
  9. La Famille (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/503/
  10. Pechka Shimo-Kitazawa (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/507/
  11. Amitie Naka-Meguro (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/508/
  12. Cerisier Sakura Shin-machi  (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/504/
  13. Stella Naka-Meguro  (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/501/
  14. Solare Meguro  (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/509/

So, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, thanks for those surveys saying how sad it is that NJ are being discriminated against in housing.  But what are they for, exactly?  Mere omphaloskepsis?  How about doing something to stop these bigots from discriminating?  ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE APRIL 26, 2014: HERE’S ANOTHER TOKYO EXAMPLE SUBMITTED BY DEBITO.ORG READER XY: NOTE HOW FOREIGNERS (HELPFULLY REFUSED IN ENGLISH) AND CATS ARE BANNED (BUT SMALL PETS ARE ALLOWED). MAYBE IF NJ ANNOYINGLY YIPPED A LITTLE MORE LIKE POMERANIANS OR OTHER PURSE DOGS…?
rentalhaihoumuTokyoJapaneseOnly042614

“Japanese Only” exclusionary Tentake tempura restaurant in Asakusa, Tokyo, allegedly due to NJ “hygiene” issues

mytest

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Hi Blog. Another to add to the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments. This time, a restaurant, as submitter Yoshio Tanaka notified me via email and photographs:

====================================
April 5, 2014, Yoshio Tanaka wrote:

Please would you mind helping me? Today I went to a restaurant in Asakusa with my wife and some Japanese friends. They didn’t allow us to enter, because me and my wife are not Japanese. In the entrance there is a paper that says “Japanese only” in English, and other advertisement in Japanese. My Japanese friend, entered to the restaurant and kindly asked the manager if me and my wife could enter, too. The manager said they doesn’t allow foreigners, no matter if they speak Japanese nor have been living in Japan for long.

I hope you can help me, and write some article about this discrimination. I think discrimination is one of the worst problem in our world, so we must stop it immediately.  Thank you for your time!!!
====================================

(All photos taken April 4, 2014.)

asakusatentakesign040514
(NB:  The Japanese below the JAPANESE ONLY text on the sign reads, “The inside of this restaurant is very small.  In order to avoid accidents, we are sorry, but we refuse entry to all children below the age of 5.  We ask for our customers understanding and cooperation.”)

asakusatentakefront040514
Storefront

asakusatentakebanner040514
Noren of restaurant with the phone number.

天健 (てんたけ)
ジャンル 天ぷら、天丼・天重
住所 〒111-0032 東京都台東区浅草2-4-1
TEL・予約  03-3841-5519

“Ten-take” tempura restaurant, Tokyo-to Taitou-ku Asakusa 2-4-1, Phone 03-3841-5519

Contact details courtesy http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1311/A131102/13010522/, last updated January 2014, with no mention of its “Japanese Only” rules.  (It does mention the no children under five:  店内が非常に狭いため、事故防止の観点から5歳未満の子連れ不可の張り紙あり」.  Interesting how a “no foreigners” rule somehow escapes mention.)

COMMENT: I called Tentake today (April 5) to confirm with the management that yes, they do have a “Japanese Only” restriction.  Their reasons given:  1) Hygiene (eiseimen), which were, when asked, issues of “foreigners” not taking off their shoes when entering, 2) NJ causing problems (meiwaku) to other customers, and 3) a language barrier, as in NJ not speaking Japanese.  Basic Otaru Onsen exclusionary excuses.  When asked if he didn’t think these were prejudicial generalizations about all NJ, he said repeatedly that he couldn’t deal with “foreigners” (tai’ou o shi kirenai).  Then he hung up.

That’s as much information as I could get out of the management regarding the reasons for the exclusionism.  Readers who feel that this restaurant is behaving inappropriately for a business open to the general public are welcome to phone them at the number above, or drop by and say so directly.  Douzo.  ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE APRIL 18, 2014:  The sign is down and the shop is open to NJ customers again.

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 74, Apr 3, 2014: “Knowing your rights can protect against fake cops”, updating the NJ Spot ID Checkpoints issue

mytest

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Hi Blog. My latest Japan Times column is out now. Excerpt:
ISSUES| JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Knowing your rights can protect against fake cops
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES, APR 2, 2014
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/04/02/issues/rights-can-protect-against-fake-cops/

Long-time readers of The Japan Times will already be aware of some of the information in today’s column. But within is an important update, so press on.

As you no doubt know (or should know), non-Japanese residents are required to carry ID 24/7 in the form of wallet-size “gaijin cards,” nowadays known as zairyū kādo (resident cards). (People without those cards — i.e., tourists here for less than three months — must instead always carry a passport.) Don’t leave home without yours, for you could face detention and a criminal penalty if a police officer suddenly demands it.

Which they can do at any time — underscoring the weakened position of non-Japanese under domestic law and social policy. According to the former Foreign Registry Law, any public official empowered by the Ministry of Justice may demand ID from a non-Japanese person, whenever. Inevitably, this encourages racial profiling, as cops with systematic regularity target people who “look foreign” (including naturalized citizens, such as this writer) for public shakedowns that are intimidating, alienating and humiliating…

Exacerbating this is social policy (see Community pages passim), with the National Police Agency and other ministries expressly portraying non-Japanese as agents of crime, terrorism, hooliganism and infectious diseases. They have also encouraged the general public to pile on, unlawfully demanding that hotels and other public facilities, taxation agencies and non-Japanese employers also carry out gaijin-card checks.

Note that this sort of thing cannot be done to Japanese. Even the prospect of creating standardized IDs (let alone being forced to carry one at all times) has caused public outrage (recall the scandal over the Juki Net system). No wonder: Citizens are in fact shielded by the Police Execution of Duties Law, which states that police officers can ask personal questions only if there is probable cause — that is, adequate suspicion that a crime has been or is about to be committed. Although there are cases of Japanese being similarly harassed by police, the attitude of those on the receiving end of such treatment — at least according to numerous videos on YouTube (search for shokumu shitsumon, or 職務質問) — generally seems to be alarm over capricious invasions of privacy.

Not so for non-Japanese. Last month I received reports that police officers in Roppongi have recently included searching bags and sticking their hands down the pockets of non-Japanese, heightening the invasiveness. (This is the same police branch, remember, that came up with non-Japanese urine checks — until The Japan Times questioned its legality. See “Cops crack down with ‘I pee’ tests,” July 7, 2009.)

Moreover, as general awareness has increased that non-Japanese must carry gaijin cards, I have received reports that weirdos posing as police (most recently in Kichijoji, Tokyo) are coming up to non-Japanese (particularly women) and demanding their personal information.

One might think things changed for the better when the Foreign Registry Law was abolished in 2012 — after all, non-Japanese can finally be registered as residents with their Japanese families — but no: The section that permits spot ID checks was incorporated into the revised Immigration Control Act (Article 23).

Fortunately, so were safeguards against cop masqueraders. So here is a revised version of your legal rights:

  • If someone who purports to be a police officer (some prowl in plainclothes) asks for your ID, ask if this is shokumu shitsumon (literally, a professional inquiry; download a dialog you can put in your wallet at www.debito.org/shokumushitsumon.html) If he says yes, ask if there is probable cause of a crime. If he says no, ask if you may leave. Repeat as necessary. This should stop some ID checks, especially if you start videoing it with your phone. (Legally you can, as YouTube demonstrates.)
  • If the police officer responds that as non-Japanese, you are required by law to display ID upon request, counter that by law, cops are also required to display badges upon request. Say “• Keisatsu techō o misete kudasai• ” and take a picture of both the badge and the hologram ID on the back. (Beware of fake badges; see an image at www.debito.org/?p=12138). This will stop most abuses. Then show your gaijin card.
  • If the officer refuses to show his techō (pointing to the number on his uniform lapel — or, according to one account, patting his gun — is insufficient), then head to the nearest kōban • (police box). That should send imposters scurrying away. Once there, by law, you will have to show your gaijin card, but try to get a techō from somebody, because you will need all the information (on front and back) for future reference.
  • If the officer demands a bag or pocket search, ask if he has a warrant, and that you won’t comply until he gets one. Say “Reijō ga arimasu ka? Reijō ga nai to dekimasen.”
  • If you feel as though you have suffered abusive treatment, then contact the Public Safety Commission (kōan iinkai) in your prefecture (Tokyo’s is at www.kouaniinkai.metro.tokyo.jp/osirase.html) with the exact details of the officer’s badge. You can file a formal complaint in English — they have translators. Admittedly, these are wolves policing other wolves, but do something and you might get an answer; do nothing and there is no possibility of a check or balance on abusive cops or cosplay stalkers.

Remember: Only police and other officials of the Justice Ministry (such as immigration officials) may demand to see your gaijin card specifically. When necessary, you can choose to show other ID, such as a driver’s license or health insurance card, like any Japanese.

The point is, be aware of your rights. Like anywhere, Japan has people with foreigner fixations (such as killers Joji Obara and Tatsuya Ichihashi), and they prey on the weakened position of non-Japanese in Japanese society. Empower yourself.

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

ARUDOU, Debito is the author of the “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” (www.debito.org/handbook.html) A discussion of this issue is at www.debito.org/?p=12138. Send comments and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.
ENDS

Neo-Nazis march in Tokyo Edogawa-ku March 23, 2014, bearing swastika flags! Here’s how counter-demos could sharpen their anti-racism message

mytest

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Hello Blog. I put this up as a matter of record of how Japan’s overt xenophobia has mutated from the hatred of a specific people (the Chinese and/or Koreans); now it’s piggybacking upon a historical campaign that ultimately led to genocide.

Witness this video taken of xenophobic demonstrators doing one of their demonstrations (note that this ilk last year also advocated genocide with a sign saying “good or bad, kill all Koreans“). The video below is subtitled as filmed in Tokyo Edogawa-ku, Kodomo no Hiroba (a children’s park), on Sunday, March 23, 2014:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMpGdOVzNzA
(Courtesy of noxxx710, still photographs and commentary in Japanese at http://rioantimov.exblog.jp/21622295/. Hat tip to Twitter’s Tokyo Desu and RIO_AKIYAMA)
Here’s one of the stills:
TokyoEdogawaSwastika032314

COMMENT:  This is one of the outcomes of an education system that still hasn’t come to grips with its fascist past, and thus has literate people appropriating symbols for shock value without historical awareness of what they’re advocating (or worse, they ARE aware, and actually support genocidal fanaticism!).  For once I’m willing to give these demonstrators the benefit of the doubt (as we see plenty of swastikas around Asia more as ideological fashion statements; moreover, we still haven’t seen a group manifesto specifically advocating murder).  But not if Nazi Swastikas appear again.  And I bet they will.

The only good news one could point out in this Edogawa-ku video to is the presence of counter-demonstrators.  Not so long ago, protests like these were just seen as venting, confined to rightist wingnuts without much political traction, so they were ignored by the public in general who just walked by tacitly.  Now with Japan’s sharp and overt right-wing swing, people ARE seeing the danger (as it increasingly gets noticed overseas) that these people represent to Japan’s image, and coming out to show that racists do not represent all Japanese (their banners are, after all, also in English for foreign consumption).  Good.  Please continue.

But the counter-demonstrators could do better with their message.  One thing that keeps getting missed out in these racist vs. counter-racist demos is the notion that the foreign element being decried is not really foreign.  They (particularly the Zainichi being targeted) are residents of Japan who have been contributing to Japanese society for decades and generations.  Nobody is really pointing this out — that NJ BELONG IN JAPAN and are INVESTED IN JAPAN just the same as citizens.  Instead, it’s more along the lines of “racism is embarrassing to Japan, so knock it off”.  It’s a shame issue, not a moral issue of equality and equal treatment of other peoples.  We saw that in the recent “Japanese Only” sign issue with the Urawa Reds soccer team earlier this month:  Despite some really good condemnations of racism in Japanese soccer, nobody really had the balls to say explicitly that the problem with this exclusionary sign is that NJ are Urawa Reds fans too.  So this foreigner-verboten “sacred ground” within Saitama Station is a stupid concept, because fandom in sport should (and does) transcend nationality and race.

So if any counter-demonstrators are reading this blog (thanks if you are), may I suggest that you counter the evils of the “bad things foreigners in Japan do” propaganda with some “good things foreigners in Japan do” placards too?  A simple, “外国人も日本人と同じ、住民だ!” would work magic in awareness raising and debate-agenda setting.  Thanks.  ARUDOU, Debito

Briefly interviewed by BBC Radio program “BBC Trending”: “Scrubbing anti-foreigner scribbling from Tokyo’s Streets”, March 16, 2014

mytest

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Hi Blog. Unrelated to the big flap last weekend about the Urawa Reds “Japanese Only” Saitama Stadium Banner issue, I was interviewed by the BBC regarding anti-NJ messages and the public backlash against the xenophobes. Since I’m not an expert on Zainichi issues, I gave a bit more background on how Visible Minorities are treated in the following segment:

BBC World Service
BBC Trending, March 16, 2014
“Scrubbing anti-foreigner scribbling from Tokyo’s streets”
Segment duration: 9 minutes
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01v2y22
Courtesy of the BBC.

My bit comes in between 14:45 and 15:53, but please listen to the whole segment; it’s a decent article.

I’m very happy that people are charting racist graffiti using Google Maps. Kinda like what Debito.org has done for more than a decade with its Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments, complete with map to substantiate visually how widespread the issue has become.

Bravo. Make a record, and make it permanent, because the only way we’re going to show that a problem exists (and is getting worse) is by not letting racists become historical deniers. ARUDOU, Debito

Urawa “Japanese Only” Soccer Banner Case: Conclusions and Lessons I learned from it

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Hi Blog.  Let’s sew this issue up:

LESSONS OF THE URAWA “JAPANESE ONLY” SOCCER STADIUM BANNER CASE OF MARCH 8, 2014

Urawajapaneseonlysideview030814

What happened this week (see my Japan Times column on it a few days ago) is probably the most dramatic and progressive thing to happen to NJ in Japan, particularly its Visible Minorities, since the Otaru Onsens Case came down with its District Court Decision in November 2002.

In this decision, a Japanese court ruled for only the second time (the first being the Ana Bortz Case back in October 1999) that “Japanese Only” signs and rules were racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu).

It did not call it discrimination instead based on “ethnicity” (minzoku), “nationality” (kokuseki), outward appearance (gaiken), or some kind of “misunderstanding” (gokai), “ingrained cultural habit” or “necessary business practice” (shuukan no chigai, seikatsu shuukan, shakai tsuunen, shikatsu mondai etc.).  All of these claims had merely been excuses made to ignore the elephant in the room — that more invidious racialized processes were involved.

But in the Urawa “Japanese Only” Soccer Stadium Banner Case, the word jinshu sabetsu reappeared in the terms of debate, and we may in fact have witnessed a watershed moment in Japan’s race relations history.

BACKGROUND ON WHY THIS MATTERS: The following is something I wanted to get into in my last column, but I lacked the space:

After studying this issue intensely since 1999, and doing a doctoral dissertation on it, I can say with confidence that using the abovementioned alternative language is the normal way the Japanese media and debate arenas obfuscate the issue — because jinshu sabetsu is what other countries do (most common examples of racial discrimination taught in Japanese education are the US under Segregation and South African Apartheid), NOT Japan. As I wrote in my column on Thursday, Japan sees itself as a “civilized country”; rightly so, but part of that is the conceit that real civilized countries don’t engage in “racial discrimination” (and since allegedly homogeneous Japan allegedly has no races but the “Japanese race“, and allegedly no real minorities to speak of, Japan cannot possibly engage in biologically-based “racial discrimination” like other heterogeneous societies do).

So admitting to actual racial discrimination within Japan’s borders would undermine Japan’s claim to be “civilized”, as far as Japan’s elites and national-narrative setters are concerned. Hence the determined resistance to ever calling something “racial discrimination”.  Further proof:  In my extensive research of the Otaru Onsens Case, where I read and archived hundreds of Japanese media pieces, only ONE article (a Hokkaido Shinbun editorial after the Sapporo High Court Decision in  September 2004) called it “jinshu sabetsu” as AS A FACT OF THE CASE (i.e., NOT merely the opinion of an expert or an activist, which meant for journalistic balance the “opinion” had to be offset with the opinions of the excluder — who always denied they were being racial, like the rest of Japanese society).  It’s systematic.  We even have prominent social scientists (such as Harumi Befu) and major book titles on discrimination in Japan that steadfastly call it only “minzoku sabetsu“, such as this one:

nihonnominzokusabetsucover

where I had to fight to get my chapter within it properly entitled “jinshu sabetsu“:

nihonnominzokusabetsu002

No matter how conscientious the scholar of minority issues in Japan was, it was never a matter of jinshu.

Until now.  That has changed with the Urawa “Japanese Only” Stadium Banners Case.

FINALLY CALLING A SPADE A SPADE

Get a load of what Murai Mitsuru, Chair of the J. League, said after some initial hemming and hawing:

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

“There are various ways of determining what constitutes discrimination.  But what is important is not so much why discrimination occurs, but how the victim perceives it and in this case, the acts must be considered nothing short of discriminatory.

“Over the last several days through the media and on the Internet, these acts have had unexpected social repercussions both domestic and abroad, and it is clear that they have damaged the brand of not just the J-League but of the entire Japanese football community.

“With regards to Urawa Reds, they have had repeated trouble with their supporters in the past and the club have previously been sanctioned for racist behavior by their fans.”

“While these most recent acts were conducted by a small group of supporters, it is with utmost regret that Urawa Reds — who have been with the J-League since its founding year in 1993 and who ought to be an example for all of Japanese football — allowed an incident like this to happen.”

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

It’s the speech I would want to give.  He cited a record both past and present to give the issue context.  He said that stopping racist behavior was integral to the sport and its participants.  And he acknowledged that it was the victims, not the perpetrators, who must be listened to.  Well done.

Then he issued the stiffest punishment ever in Japanese soccer history, where Urawa would have to play its next match to an empty stadium (their games are some of the best attended in Japan), which really hurts their bottom line. Better yet, it ensures that Urawa fans will now police each other, lest they all be excluded again. After all, even stadium management let the sign stay up for the entire game:

urawajapaneseonlybanner030814
Courtesy of the Asahi Shinbun.  Note the staff member guarding the full gate, behind Urawa’s goal posts.  Note also the Rising Sun flags.

It also looks like those racist fans will also be banned indefinitely from Urawa games, and stadium staff may too be punished.  Bravo.

More important, look how this issue was reported in Japanese (Mainichi Shinbun):

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

8日に埼玉スタジアムで行われたサッカーJリーグ1部の浦和−鳥栖戦の試合中、会場内に人種差別的な内容を含む横断幕が掲げられた問題で、Jリーグの村井満チェアマンは13日、浦和に対し、けん責と、23日にホームの同スタジアムで開催される清水戦を無観客とする処分を科すと発表した。Jリーグでの無観客試合の処分は初めて。

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

with jinshu sabetsu included AS A FACT OF THE CASE.

And then look how the issue spread, with the Yokohama Marinos on March 12 putting up an anti-discrimination banner of their own:

showracismtheredcard031214

And Huffpost Japan depicting jinshu sabetsu AGAIN as a fact of the case:

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

横浜マのサポーターがハーフタイムに「Show Racism the Red Card」(人種差別にレッドカードを)

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

The incentives are now very clear.  Discriminate, and punishment will be public, swift, meaningful, and effective.  And others will not rally to your defense — in fact, may even join in in decrying you in public.  Excellent measures that all encourage zero tolerance of jinshu sabetsu.

LESSONS

However, keep in mind that this outcome was far from certain.  Remember that initially, as in last Sunday and Monday, this issue was only reported in blurbs in the Japanese and some English-language media (without photos of the banner), with mincing and weasel words about whether or not this was in fact discrimination, and ludicrous attempts to explain it all away (e.g., Urawa investigators reporting that the bannerers didn’t INTEND to racially discriminate; oh, that’s okay then!) as some kind of performance art or fan over-exuberance.  At this point, this issue was going the way it always does in these “Japanese Only” cases — as some kind of Japanese cultural practice.  In other words, it was about to be covered up all over again.

Except for one thing.  It went viral overseas.

As Murai himself said, “these acts have had unexpected social repercussions both domestic and abroad, and it is clear that they have damaged the brand of not just the J-League but of the entire Japanese football community“.  In other words, now Japan’s reputation as a civilized member of the world’s sports community (especially in this age of an impending Olympics) was at stake.  Probably FIFA was watching too, and it had only two months ago punished another Asian country (China/Hong Kong) for “racial discrimination” towards towards Filipino fans.  In this political climate, it would be far more embarrassing for Japan to be in the same boat as China being punished from abroad.  So he took decisive action.

This is not to diminish Murai’s impressive move.  Bravo, man.  You called it what it is, and dealt with it accordingly.

But I believe it would not have happened without exposure to the outside world:  Gaiatsu (outside pressure).

After all these years studying this issue, I now firmly believe that appealing to moral character issues isn’t the way to deal with racism in Japan.

After all, check out this baby-talk discussion of this issue in Japan’s most prominent newspaper column, Tensei Jingo, of March 13, 2014:

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

Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward is starting a project called “A shopping district with people who understand and speak a little English.” I like the part that says “a little.” Shinagawa will be the venue for some of the events during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The ward came up with the idea as a way to welcome athletes and visitors from abroad.

Why “a little”? Few Japanese can confidently say they can speak English. Many more think they can perhaps speak “a little” English. According to Kiyoshi Terashima, the ward official in charge of the project, it is aimed at encouraging such people to positively try and communicate in English. The ward will ask foreigners to visit the stores so that attendants there can learn how to take orders and receive payments using English.

Writer Saiichi Maruya (1925-2012) vividly depicted the trend of 50 years ago when Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics for the first time. Just because we are having the Olympics, “there is no need to stir up an atmosphere that all 100 million Japanese must turn into interpreters,” he wrote. The quote appears in “1964-Nen no Tokyo Orinpikku” (1964 Tokyo Olympics), compiled by Masami Ishii. I wonder if we can be a little more relaxed when Tokyo hosts the Olympics for the second time.

Warm smiles are considered good manners in welcoming guests. By contrast, I found the following development quite alarming: On March 8, a banner with the English words “Japanese Only” was put up at the entrance to a stand at Saitama Stadium during a soccer game.

Posting such a xenophobic message is utterly thoughtless to say the least. This is not the first time. In the past, an onsen bathhouse in Otaru, Hokkaido, put up a sign that said “no foreigners” and refused the entry of some people, including a U.S.-born naturalized Japanese man. The Sapporo District Court in 2002 ruled that the action was “racial discrimination” and ordered the bathhouse to pay damages to the plaintiffs for pain and suffering.

Hate speech against foreigners is another example. Hostility is becoming increasingly prevalent and Japanese society is losing its gentleness. Are we a society that denies and shuts its doors to people or one that welcomes and receives them? Which one is more comfortable to live in? Let us learn to be more tolerant toward each other; for starters, if only by just a little.

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

That’s the entire article.  Asahi Shinbun, thanks for the mention of me, but what a twee piece of shit! It devotes half of the column space to irrelevant windup, then gives some necessary background, and summarily ends up with a grade-school-level “nakayoshi shimashou” (let’s all be nice to one another, shall we?) conclusion. The theme starts off with “a little” and ends up thinking “little” about the issue at hand.  They just don’t get it.  There’s no moral imperative here.

Contrast that to Murai’s very thoughtful consideration above of how the victims of discrimination feel, how racists must not be given any moral credibility or leniency from punishment, and how anti-racism measures are not merely an honor system of tolerance towards each other.  Correctamundo!  One must not be tolerant of intolerance.  But after all this, even Japan’s most prominent leftish daily newspaper just resorts to the boilerplate — there is neither comprehension or explanation of how discrimination actually works!

When will we get beyond this dumbing down of the issue?  When we actually have people being brave enough to call it “racial discrimination” and take a stand against it.  As Murai did.  And as other people, with their banners and comments on the media and other places, are doing.  Finally.

CONCLUSION:  IT AIN’T OVER UNTIL WE GET A LAW CRIMINALIZING THIS BEHAVIOR

I do not want to get people’s hopes up for this progress to be sustainable (after all, we haven’t seen the full force of a potential rightist backlash against Murai yet, and the Internet xenophobes are predictably saying that too much power has been given up to the Gaijin).  We are still years if not decades away from an anti-RACIAL-discrimination law with enforceable criminal penalties (after all, it’s been nearly twenty years now since Japan’s signed the UN CERD treaty against racial discrimination, and any attempt to pass one has wound up with it being repealed due to pressure from alarmists and xenophobes!).

But at least one thing is clear — the typical hemmers and hawers (who initially criticized my claim that this is yet another example of racial discrimination) are not going to be able to claim any “cultural misunderstanding” anymore in this case.  Because Urawa eventually went so far as to investigate and make public  what mindset was behind the banner-hoisters:

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

Japan Times:  “The supporters viewed the area behind the goal as their sacred ground, and they didn’t want anyone else coming in,” Urawa president Keizo Fuchita said Thursday as he explained how the banner came to be displayed in the stadium.

“If foreigners came in they wouldn’t be able to control them, and they didn’t like that.”

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

Wow, a fine cocktail of racism, mysticism, and power, all shaken not stirred, spray-painted into this banner.  Which goes to show:  In just about all its permutations, “Japanese Only” is a racialized discourse behind a xenophobic social movement in Japan.  If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…  And if and only if people in authority will allow the quack to be properly heard and the quacker LABELED as a duck, then we’ll get some progress.

But chances are it won’t be, unless that quack is also heard outside of Japan.  After waiting more then ten years for somebody to call the “Japanese Only” trope a matter of jinshu sabetsu again, finally this week the fact that jinshu sabetsu exists in Japan has been transmitted nationwide, with real potential to alter the national discourse on discrimination towards Visible Minorities.  But it wouldn’t have happened unless it had leaked outside of Japan’s media.

Conclusion:  Gaiatsu is basically the only way to make progress against racial discrimination in Japan.  Remember that, and gear your advocacy accordingly.  ARUDOU, Debito

YouTube: Police NJ Passport Checkpoint at Shibuya March 3, 2014 (targeted NJ does not comply)

mytest

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Hi Blog. Just got this one from RS, where he writes about something that happened last night in Shibuya:

========================================
March 3, 2014:
Debito-san, Thanks for your work. This incident happened tonight and we’ve already put it up on Youtube. Please have a look.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aObKykGpnLQ&feature=youtu.be

Because I’ve read your articles, I knew that I did not have to comply, and did not. Thank you and keep up the good work.
========================================

Well done. Although the video is a bit incomplete (it’s not clear how this started or how it ended), it’s clear that the police certainly do not want to be filmed, and it’s a good guess that BECAUSE it was filmed that the police showed restraint, if this video is any guide:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoS8tiPsW0c

Anyway, what RS is referring to is this section here on Debito.org which says that the Japanese police cannot ask you personal questions (let alone passports, as in above) without probable cause. Except if you’re a NJ, under the Foreign Registry Law. But the NJ can also ask for the cop’s ID before showing his, so ask for it first, has been the point.

However, with the abolition of the Foreign Registry Law in 2012, it remains unclear under what law in specific the Japanese police are empowered to ask NJ without probable cause. I have consulted informally with legal scholar Colin P.A. Jones (of Doshisha and The Japan Times), and he too has had trouble finding anything in specific codified in the laws that now empowers cops in this manner. Nevertheless the institutional practice is in place, encouraging racial profiling, as last night’s performance indicates. I’ll give Colin a nudge to see if he will cover this in a column, if he hasn’t already. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE MARCH 5: Debito.org has received word that there is at least one case of somebody in mufti flashing badges and asking select NJ (what appears to be visibly-NJ women, in Kichijouji, Tokyo) for their ID. In all cases, check the police badge (keisatsu techou o misete kudasai), as you are legally entitled to. What to look for:

fakeandrealpolicebadges
Courtesy of Reddit.
The creep in question:

Papa John’s Pizza NY racism case 2012: “Lady chinky eyes” receipt gets employee fired

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Still deep into my project at the moment, so I’ll be brief.  Going into my Drafts folder once more, I uncovered this little gem of “Pinprick Protest” from more than two years ago — the Papa John’s “lady chinky eyes case” where an individual took action against another individual (representing a corporation) for a racial slur at a pizza chain, and through the pressure of public outrage and social opprobrium made somebody take responsibility.  As in getting that idiot fired for making the slur.

Not sure this would happen as successfully (or at all) in Japan — where the tendency would be to dismiss this as some kind of cultural/linguistic misunderstanding (or else — shake your head — claim that this differentiation was meant in a positive light; hey, we like chinky lady eyes/big gaijin noses etc., and there was no intention to discriminate).

The best example I can think of right now where social opprobrium worked was in the Otaru Onsens Case, where media pressure got two racist bathhouses to remove their signs.  Eventually.  The third bathhouse, of course, left their signs up.  And it took a court case to get theirs down.  And there are lots more exclusionary signs and rules around Japan, so social opprobrium clearly isn’t enough.

Anyway, here’s the story.  I cite this as a template for nipping discriminatory speech in the bud.  Arudou Debito

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

‘Lady Chinky Eyes’: Papa John’s Store Calls Woman Racial Slur In Receipt (PHOTO) (UPDATE)
The Huffington Post, Laura Hibbard
First Posted: 01/07/12 03:22 PM ET Updated: 01/08/12 12:08 AM ET

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/07/lady-chinky-eyes-papa-johns-store-uses-receipt-to-call-woman-racial-slur_n_1191434.html

Minhee Cho went to Papa John’s for some fast food goodness. Little did she know, she would get it served with a side of racism.

At around 12:30 p.m. today, Papa John’s customer Minhee Cho tweeted a photo of a receipt she received at a Papa John’s restaurant in uptown, New York City.

In it, under the customer’s name section, the restaurant employee who rang up the order used the racial slur “lady chinky eyes” to describe her.

ladychinkyeyespapajohns2012
Minhee Cho @mintymin
Hey @PapaJohns just FYI my name isn’t “lady chinky eyes” http://t.co/RLdj2Eij
January 7, 2012 5:06 pm via Twitpic

Cho posted the photo to her Twitter page, where it was quickly retweeted by hundreds of people. By 3 p.m., the photo had been viewed over 25,000 times.

When The Huffington Post reached the Papa John’s in question for comment, the assistant manager — who only gave her first name as Marjani — said she was unaware of the incident.

“I apologize,” she said in a phone interview. “I’m sure they didn’t mean any harm but some people will take it offensive.” She added that she “had an idea of who it was,” based on the time of the receipt.

Marjani went on to say that this was the kind of behavior that would result in disciplinary action, but declined to go into further detail on what she planned to do.

Papa John’s has yet to respond to the incident in a statement or its Facebook and Twitter accounts, but with such a PR disaster on their hands, they most likely will soon.

UPDATE: Papa John’s has responded to the incident on Facebook. A post on its official page reads:

We were extremely concerned to learn of the receipt issue in New York. This act goes against our company values, and we’ve confirmed with the franchisee that this matter was addressed immediately and that the employee is being terminated. We are truly sorry for this customer’s experience.

The company has also addressed the matter on its Twitter feed, tweeting to multiple people that “We have issued an apology, are reaching out to customer & franchise employee is being terminated.”
ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 72: “Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad”, Jan 25, 2014, “Director’s Cut”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Only a few days into the case of racialized advertisement from ANA, I got tapped by the Japan Times to cover it. Debito.org Readers and Facebook Friends certainly gave me plenty of food for thought, so thank you all very much. Here’s my more polished opinion on it, which stayed the number one article on the JT Online for two full days! What follows is the “Director’s Cut” with excised paragraphs and links to sources. Thanks as always for reading and commenting to Debito.org. Arudou Debito

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad
BY  ARUDOU Debito
The Japan Times, JAN 24, 2014, Column 72 for The Community Pages
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/01/24/issues/dont-let-ana-off-the-hook-for-that-offensive-ad/

Making headlines recently has been a commercial by ANA, one of Japan’s flagship airlines.  Released last Saturday, its 30-second spot shows two Asian men (one a comedian named Bakarizumu, but let’s call them A and B) standing at an airport window speaking English with Japanese subtitles.

(See the ad at debito.org/ANAHanedaAd2014.mp4.)

Looking out at the jets, A says, “Haneda Airport has more international flights nowadays.”  B replies, “Finally.”  Then their exchange goes, “Next stop, Vancouver.”  “Next stop, Hanoi.”  “Exciting, isn’t it?”  Then B says, rather oddly, “You want a hug?”  When A only gives him a nonplussed look, B continues, “Such a Japanese reaction.”  When A explains, “But I am Japanese,” B counters, “I see.  Let’s change the image of Japanese people.” And A, smiling broadly, agrees to it.

Alright so far.  Except that, as you can see in the picture below, A is now wearing a strapped-on long nose and a big blond wig.  Off they fly to their destinations.
ANAHanedabignose

This has occasioned considerable debate and media coverage.  Many commenters in the English-language online forums have called this advertisement “racist” (one even said “Debito bait”; I’m chuffed), and have made motions to take their business elsewhere.  Others have said the advertisement isn’t racist, just lame.  A few managed to find a deep pocket of latent irony, saying it’s actually poking fun at the Japanese people and their insular attitudes.  Meanwhile, within Japanese-language forums, according to a Yahoo Japan poll, 82% of respondents see no problem with it.

ANAYahooJapansurvey2014
http://polls.dailynews.yahoo.co.jp/other/10721/result
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140120-00000038-jij_afp-bus_all)

(NB:  Note look how the question is worded. It introduces the issue by saying that a comedian (Bakarizumu) performed the act (read: it’s a joke!), and says that the complaints came “from foreigners” (read: not from Japanese) of “racial discrimination” (read: misleading representation of the issue). So we’ve set up the question as “we joking Japanese” vs “those kvetching foreigners” “taking a madcap jape” too seriously, and bingo, you get a vast majority of people wondering what the problem is.)

It probably comes as no surprise to you that JBC objects to this ad.  If ANA had really wanted to “change the image of Japan,” it should have avoided racializing their product.  Instead, it’s just business as usual.

Consider some other racist marketing strategies from not so long ago (visuals and reports archived at debito.org/?p=12077):

Last year, Toshiba marketed a bread maker with an obnoxiously overexuberant Japanese girl speaking katakana Japanese, wearing a blond wig and a big nose.  (Ad archived at debito.org/Toshibasuipanda.mp4.)

toshiba2013suipanda1

In 2010, Nagasaki Prefecture promoted its “foreign” buildings by showing Japanese tourists wearing—you guessed it—blond wigs and big noses.  (Ad archived at debito.org/?p=7523.)
nagasakitabinetto2

In 2005, Mandom sold men’s cosmetics with a Rasta-man motif, juxtaposing black people with a chimpanzee.  (Ad archived at debito.org/mandomproject.html.)
MandomAd2

Dare I mention the resurrection of book “Little Black Sambo” in 2005, which inspired overtly racist nursery-school songs in Saitama about black butts?  (See Matthew Chozick, “Sambo racism row reignites over kids’ play,” Zeit Gist, April 13, 2010.)
Sambooriginal

And how about the Choya plum saké commercials in 2008, featuring three girls (two Caucasian, one Japanese), the latter sporting a big plastic nose and stick-on paper blue eyes?  Although most of these ads were soon pulled after complaints, you can still go to Amazon Japan or Tokyu Hands and buy your own “gaijin” stick-on blue eyes and nose (with the caption “Harō Gaijin-San”) to sport at parties!

Har har.  Can’t you see it’s all just a joke, imbued with a deep sense of irony subversively directed at Japanese people?  Except that, as I’ve pointed out in JBCs passim, irony as humor is not one of Japan’s strong suits.

Moreover, remember when McDonald’s Japan was using a nerdy white guy to hawk newfangled burgers?  JBC argued (“Meet Mr. James, Gaijin Clown,” Sept. 1, 2009) that stereotyping of this nature only works as humor if, among other things, there is a “switch test” – i.e., everyone is fair game for parody.

But in Japan it’s not fair game.  Japanese society and media takes quick umbrage to being lampooned by the outside world, especially in a racialized manner.

Case in point:  To commemorate the publication of “Little Black Sambo,” I drew up a parody called “Little Yellow Jap” to put the shoe on the other foot (debito.org/chibikurosanbo.html).  I made the protagonist as stereotypically exaggerated as the ink-black gollywogs in the book:  bright yellow skin, round glasses, buck teeth, and clad in a fundoshi loincloth.  I pointed out on every page that this was a parody of Japan’s Sambo, and contextualized it with a full explanation in Japanese of why racialized books for children are bad.

Yet for years now in the Japanese version of Wikipedia’s entry on me, this parody is cited as an example of my “discrimination against Japanese.”  Clearly turnabout is not in fair play.

Or consider the case of British TV show QI (Philip Brasor, “Cultural insensitivity no laughing matter,” Media Mix Jan. 30, 2011, discussed here).  Producers were forced to apologize for a joke about a recently-deceased Japanese who in 1945 unluckily travelled to Nagasaki, after experiencing the first atomic bombing, to catch the second one.  A panelist had dryly quipped, “He never got the train again, I tell you.”

That’s not funny!  That’s insensitive.  And insulting!  And racist, according to the more unified online communities in Japan, backed up by protesting Japanese government officials, all of whom clearly understand irony.  (For the record:  I’m being ironic.  Please laugh.)

Back to ANA.  I bet the omnipotent gerontocracy at corporate headquarters didn’t think anything amiss (obviously; they approved the ad), because, as is often claimed in these situations, Japanese in fact “admire” (akogareru) white people.  This ad is, if anything, a paean.  After all, look at him!  He looks like Robert Redford, one of the prototypical kakkō-ii foreigners of our generation!  (They could do with a Brad Pitt update, I guess.)

In tepid apology letters, ANA uses the standard disclaimer:  “We didn’t mean to offend anyone.”  Okay.  And I’m sure many of your potential customers didn’t “mean” to be offended either.  But many were.  And if you have any pretentions to being an international company, you wouldn’t get in these sticky wickets in the first place.

(Two apology letters http://www.debito.org/?p=12077#comment-431421
http://www.debito.org/?p=12077#comment-431434
UK Independent on the apologies http://www.debito.org/?p=12077#comment-431419)

To be fair, this campaign was probably cooked up not by ANA, but by one of Japan’s advertising oligarchs (no doubt Dentsu, with nearly a third of Japan’s market share).  Anyone with an eye on the Japanese media knows how they make silly amounts of money on silly stereotypes (including the one that Japanese don’t hug), while reaffirming the binary between “Japan” and “the rest of the world.”

Nevertheless, ANA deserves its lumps, because reps simply don’t know what they’re apologizing for.  In fact, they clumsily reinforced the binary, stating in press releases that complaints have “mostly come from foreign customers” (as opposed to real customers?), before finally pulling the ad last Tuesday.

Now consider this:  Gerry Nacpil, Supervisor of ANA Sky Web, wrote in his apology: “The intention of this commercial was… to encourage Japanese to travel abroad more and become global citizens.”

So… “global citizens” equals White people?

Now the ad is even more problematic.

To quote a friend, in an open letter to ANA:

“Dear ANA:  Are you aware that most of your foreigner customers are from places like Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila, and Kuala Lumpur?  And that most of them probably don’t have blond/orange hair?  Oh, and even the ones with blond hair probably don’t have noses like a tengu goblin.  And pretty sure that Japanese people enjoy being hugged and have emotions.  Well, at least the Japanese who aren’t sticks-in-mud CEO boardroom types with no sense that the world doesn’t really resemble their 19th-century, ‘we are so different from you funny-looking white gaijin’ Meiji-Era mentality.

“Look forward to seeing your 2020 customers.  They may surprise you.  Sincerely, A Big-Nosed White Guy who speaks Japanese.”

Touché.  Look, Japan, if you want to host international events (such as an Olympics), or to have increased contact with the outside world, you’ll face increased international scrutiny of your attitudes under global standards.

For one of Japan’s most international companies to reaffirm a narrative that Japanese must change their race to become more “global” is a horrible misstep.  ANA showed a distinct disregard for their Non-Japanese customers—those who are “Western,” yes, but especially those who are “Asian.”

Only when Japan’s business leaders (and feudalistic advertisers) see NJ as a credible customer base they could lose due to inconsiderate behavior, there will be no change in marketing strategies.  NJ should vote with their feet and not encourage this with passive silence, or by double-guessing the true intentions behind racially-grounded messages.

This is a prime opportunity.  Don’t let ANA off the hook on this.  Otherwise the narrative of foreigner = “big-nosed blonde that can be made fun of” without turnabout, will ensure that Japan’s racialized commodification will be a perpetual game of “whack-a-mole.”

ENDS

ANA ad on Haneda Airport as emerging international Asian hub, talks about changing “the image of Japan” — into White Caucasian!

mytest

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Hi Blog. It’s times like these when people seem glad that a forum like Debito.org exists.  I say this based on the large number of people who submitted information about the new ANA commercial on Haneda Airport’s increased international flights. Seems that somebody, anybody, should express outrage.  Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Here it is (courtesy lots of people; thanks!):


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jgzAOCmWA0

(UPDATE JANUARY 22:  ANA has pulled the ad, so the link above is dead.  I have archived it for posterity as an .mp4 at http://www.debito.org/ANAHanedaAd2014.mp4.  Thanks JK!)

Well, let’s have a think. With two Asian guys speaking only in English (one saying he’s Japanese — the noticeably shorter guy) noting that Japan will have more international access (Vancouver and Hanoi are mentioned as their destinations), the message of the ad is that the image of Japan will change. “Exciting, isn’t it?”, says the Japanese bloke. The taller dude says, “You want a hug?” When nothing happens (i.e., no hug), he oddly says, “Such a Japanese reaction.” When the tall dude says, “Let’s change the image of  Japanese people,” the short dude agrees to it. And this is what happens to him:

ANAHanedabignose

Yeah, that’ll do it.  Put on a wig and a fake nose, and that’ll change Japan’s image.

Actually, no it won’t.  This is in fact business as usual, given how Japan has a nasty habit of racializing commodities.  Check out but a few examples of racist Japanese commercial campaigns from Debito.org’s archives (click on images to see more information).  Then I’ll comment about the ANA one:

Traveling to Nagasaki (let’s gaijinize ourselves!) (2010):
nagasakitabinetto nagasakitabinetto2

Toshiba sells breadmakers! (2013)
toshiba2013suipanda1

McDonald’s Japan sells burgers! (2009)
mcdonaldsmrjames001

Selling sweets! (2013)
vibesumadara3

Mandom sells men’s cosmetics! (2005)
MandomAd2

Mini Stop Konbini sells Afro Melon Bread! (2010)

Publisher Zuiunsha resurrects “Little Black Sambo” without historical context! (2005)
Sambooriginal

Selling party favors! (Tokyu Hands 2008, still on sale on Amazon)

COMMENT ON ANA’S AD CAMPAIGN:

Well, I have the feeling that once again, a major Japanese company left their advertising to one of the big-name ad firms (as Toshiba above did), and they once again just thought they were being cute by sticking a wig and a big nose on somebody and making them look “foreign”.  After all, who would complain?  Japan is after all a homogeneous society with no racial issues (not!).  Chuckling old-timey OBs on the board who make all the decisions and expect everyone to knuckle under thought nothing of it, especially since (check out that screen capture again):

ANAHanedabignose

the guy looks remarkably like Robert Redford!  Who to a lot of Japanese (especially to the generation who haven’t had a Brad Pitt update yet) is the prototypical and idealized Westerner!

But some people, myself included, take a dim view of this campaign.  Let me quote an esteemed friend of mine:

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

Dear ANA,
I’m not sure you know this, but are you aware that most of your foreigner customers are from places like Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila, and Kuala Lumpur? And that most of them probably don’t have blond/orange hair?
Oh, and even the ones with blond hair probably don’t have noses like a tengu goblin.
And pretty sure that Japanese people enjoy being hugged and have emotions. Well, at least the Japanese who aren’t sticks in mud CEO boardroom types with no sense that the world doesn’t really resemble their 19th century, “we are so different from you funny looking white gaijin” Meiji Era mentality.
Look forward to seeing your 2020 customers. They may surprise you.
Sincerely,
A Big Nose White Guy who speaks Japanese

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

Quite.  If ANA really wanted to change the image of Japan, they should have had the guys hugging!  Arudou Debito

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

UPDATE JANUARY 20:  Stating that they are now pulling the ad, ANA officially comments in a reply to complaints below (English original):  The intention of this commercial was to highlight how international flights from Haneda Airport will increase from March 30, 2014 and to encourage Japanese to travel abroad more and become global citizens.”

Interesting mindset.  Good to know what ANA was thinking.  But do you think this advertisement accomplishes that?  Are “global citizens” therefore Robert Redford lookalikes?  In light of this, the advertisement is to me even more problematic.

UPDATE JANUARY 22:  ANA’s campaign expands to the Hibiya Line in Tokyo (Courtesy of JK, click on photo to expand in browser):

ANAHanedaHibiyapic012214

UPDATE TWO, JANUARY 22: FYI, the Japan Times has tapped me to do my next Just Be Cause column early on, you guessed it, the ANA advertisement.  Already filed, it will come out Saturday, January 25 JST.

UPDATE: HERE’S THE JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE.

NHK World: Tokyo Court orders Tokyo Metro Govt to compensate Muslim NJ for breach of privacy after NPA document online leaks

mytest

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Hi Blog. In what I consider to be good and very significant news, the Tokyo District Court ruled that NJ who had their privacy violated, due to National Police Agency leaks of personal information, were entitled to compensation.

This is good news because the government rarely loses in court. Considering past lawsuits covered by Debito.org, the police/GOJ can get away with negligence (Otaru Onsens Case), grievous bodily harm (Valentine Case), and even murder (Suraj Case).

But not privacy violations. Interesting set of priorities. But at least sometimes they can protect NJ too.

Note also what is not being ruled problematic. As mentioned below, it’s not an issue of the NPA sending out moles to spy on NJ and collecting private information on them just because they happen to be Muslim (therefore possible terrorists). It’s an issue of the NPA losing CONTROL of that information. In other words, the privacy breach was not what’s being done by The State, but rather what’s being done by letting it go public. That’s also an interesting set of priorities.

But anyway, somebody was forced to take responsibility for it.  Good news for the Muslim community in Japan.  More background from the Debito.org Archives on what the NPA was doing to Japan’s Muslim residents (inadequately covered by the article below), and the scandal it caused in 2000, here, here, and here.  Arudou Debito

UPDATE JAN 17:  I was convinced by a comment to the Japan Times yesterday to remove this entry from the “Good News” category.  I now believe that the court approval of official racial profiling of Muslims has made the bad news outweigh the good.  That comment below the article.  

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

Tokyo ordered to pay police leak compensation
NHK World, January 15, 2014, courtesy of JK
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140115_36.html

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been ordered to pay compensation of more than 90 million yen, or about 860,000 dollars, for breach of privacy resulting from a leak of police documents.

The case involves 114 documents related to international terrorism that were leaked online in 2010. They contained the names, addresses and photos of Japanese people and foreigners who provided information to police investigators.

About 2 months after the documents were leaked, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department acknowledged the documents as their own, and pledged protection and support for those whose identities have been revealed.

But the police were never able to identify who was responsible for leaking the documents, which was done with special software that made the leak untraceable. The statute of limitations on the case expired in October.

On Wednesday, the Tokyo District Court ruled in a lawsuit filed by 17 Muslims who claimed that their privacy had been violated.

Presiding judge Masamitsu Shiseki acknowledged that the police created the documents and called intelligence-gathering by investigators an unavoidable measure to prevent international terrorism.

But the judge said the documents were probably leaked by Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department personnel, and held the Superintendent-General responsible for failing to properly manage their intelligence.

One of the plaintiffs told reporters that he felt a bit relieved that the court acknowledged the responsibility of the police. But he said that what he and others really wanted the court to acknowledge was that the police investigation was discriminatory and illegal. He said he was sorry that the court did not find the investigation illegal.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department says it is regrettable that the court did not accept its claims. It also said it will decide whether to appeal the ruling after studying the content of the decision.

ENDS

COMMENT FROM STEVE JACKMAN AT THE JAPAN TIMES (see full comment here):

So, the Japanese court has legally sanctioned the government to racially profile its Japanese citizens and residents, by giving the Japanese government its official approval and permission to racially profile them based on their religious beliefs. This smacks of the early days of the rise of Nazism, when the Nazis racially profiled Germany’s Jewish population based solely on their religious beliefs.

The Japanese court has ruled that the police can gather information on Japanese citizens and residents, based solely on the reason that they are Muslim. It cited that terrorist attacks had been carried out by Islamic radicals around the world, and the ruling stated that, “There is a sufficient danger that such acts could also occur in Japan”. Never mind, that these muslim citizens and residents have committed no crimes, have nothing to do with terrorism, and that until now Japan has only experienced home grown terrorism, which has nothing to do with its muslim population.

After the court’s verdict, the lawyer for the muslim plaintiffs stated, “The ruling allowed the gathering of information just because an individual happened to be a Muslim”. He further raised concerns about the effects of the court’s ruling in light of the recent enactment in Japan of the state secrets protection law, which defines information related to terrorism as being subject to classification as a state secret. “The gathering of information itself will become a secret and there would be no brakes applied on investigations conducted by those in public security,” he said.[…]

ENDS

Tokyo Metro Govt issues manual for J employers hiring NJ employees: Lose the “Staring Big Brother” stickers, please!

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Debito.org Reader JF found this sticker up in Ikebukuro a few weeks ago:

NJstarephoto

Issued by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Youth and Safety Policy Division, it says that the employer of this establishment will not hire illegal foreign workers.  The slogan rimming above says, “Office declaring its promotion of the proper employment of foreigners”, complete with The Staring Eyes of Big Brother that probe all souls for criminal intent, sorta thing.  Like this one, snapped in Tamagawa last September:

TheEyeNPAstarephoto
(which says, “We won’t overlook crime!  If you see anyone suspicious, call the cops!”)

JF comments:  “I sort of see what they are trying to say with it, but I still think this sticker is bad style and puts all of us in a bad light. Suggesting yet again that many foreigners work illegally, while the actual percentage is probably tiny.”

It is, the number of so-called “illegal foreigners” long since peaking in 1993 and continuing to drop, despite police propaganda notices claiming the contrary (see for example here and here).

JF did a bit more searching about the origin of the stickers, and discovered a downloadable manual directed at employers about how to hire foreign workers legally:
http://www.seisyounen-chian.metro.tokyo.jp/chian/gaikokujin/24manual.pdf

Here’s the cover:

gaikokujinhiringmanualcover

Entitled “Gaikokujin Roudousha Koyou Manyuaru” (Hiring Manual for Foreign Workers), you can download it from Debito.org at http://www.debito.org/TokyotoGaikokujinHiringManual2013.pdf.

It opens reasonably well, with the first sentence in the preface (page 1) stating that illegal overstaying foreign workers aren’t just a cause of the worsening of public safety (yes, that old chestnut again), but they also have human rights, and influence the economic competitiveness of Japan.  It talks about the five-year goal of halving the number of illegal overstayers starting from 2003, and how that did indeed succeed, but there are still about 70,000 illegal foreigners still extant, with about 70% of them entering the country with the goal of working illegally (I don’t know how they determined that without installing a “mental goal detector” at the airport, but anyway…).  It also talks about the change in policy sloganing away from “strengthening policy against illegal foreign labor” in 2003 to the promotion of “proper employment of foreign workers” in 2009 and 2010; okay, that’s a bit better.

The manual defines “illegal labor” on page 3, and the new immigration procedures of 2012 on page 2 — with very clear outlines of what employers should check to make sure everything is legal (the Zairyuu Kaado (ZRK), the replacement for the old Gaitousho), and what criminal fines and penalties might happen if they don’t.  Page 4 describes what is on the ZRK, who gets it and who doesn’t, and what types of visas in particular should be checked for work status.  Page 5 tells the employer how to read official documents and stamps, and page 6 elaborates on how to spot forgeries.  There’s even a GOJ website the employer can use to verify details on said NJ employee, with a surprising amount of technical detail on how the ZRK is coded (see here and here) discussed on page 7.  The manual continues on in that vein for a couple more pages, essentially telling the employer how to read a ZRK (or old remaining Gaitousho) and visa stamps like an Immigration official.  Pages 12 and 13 talk about visa regimes and what times of work fall into each, and 14-15 offer more warnings to employers about not following the rules.  The book concludes with how to treat longer-term NJ, and offers contact numbers for questions.

COMMENT:  I welcome more thoughtful comments from other Debito.org Readers, but I think this manual (overlooking the “Staring Big Brother” stickers; albeit that may just be a cultural conceit of mine) is a good thing.  For one reason, it’s inevitable:  Employers have to be told the rules clearly and the punishments for not following them (as opposed to the NJ alone getting punished for overstaying, with little to no penalty for the employer — who often wants or forces NJ to overstay in order to put them in a weaker wage bargaining position); let’s hope employer punishments are “properly” enforced in future.  For another, the illustrations are less racialized than usual, to the point where it is unclear who is “Japanese” and who is “foreign” on page 16.  Good.  Definitely progress, compared to this.

My only misgiving is that this feels like a training manual for how to operate a complicated piece of consumer electronics, and for that reason is dehumanizing.  It also might deter people from hiring NJ if things are this potentially mendoukusai.   That said, I’m not sure in what other way that information could have been transmitted; links to better-executed foreign employment manuals for other countries welcome in the Comment Section.  What do others think?  Arudou Debito