Amy Chavez JT obit on “Japan writing giant” Boye De Mente: Let’s not whitewash his devaluation of Japan Studies

mytest

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Hi Blog. I hope everyone in the Northern Hemisphere is having a pleasant summer (and as for you lot Down Under, a much pleasanter winter than can be had up north!).

While on vacation I saw this review-cum-obituary of the late Boye Lafayette De Mente in the Japan Times. Written by Amy Chavez, it headlines him as “a giant of writing on Japan”:

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Remembering the life and works of Boye De Mente, a giant of writing on Japan
BY AMY CHAVEZ, SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES
JUN 25, 2017

Any Japanophile will have at least one of the 30 or so books authored by Boye Lafayette De Mente during his long and prolific writing career in Japan.

His works are read by travelers, businesspeople and scholars alike, with offerings ranging from “The Pocket Tokyo Subway Guide” to the “Tuttle Japanese Business Dictionary,” and my personal favorite, “Kata: The Key to Understanding and Dealing with the Japanese.” Several of his books have become classics…
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Full article at:
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/06/25/our-lives/remembering-life-works-boye-de-mente-giant-writing-japan/

I would respectfully disagree. As I wrote in the Comments Section of that article:

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One the last of the truly old-school postwar “Japan analysts”, who helped set the tone of Japanology as a pseudoscience fueled by stereotype. Check out his list of titles on Wikipedia and you’ll see the undermining of Tuttle as a reliable-source publisher. “Women of the Orient: Intimate Profiles of the World’s Most Feminine Women”, dated 1992, where he boasts of his sexual escapades, and draws broad conclusions about how Asian women please White men like him, anyone? Or if you want something approaching a different kind of lingus, try “The Japanese Have a Word for It: The Complete Guide to Japanese Thought and Culture.” (“Complete”?). Plenty more that anybody actually trained in modern Humanities or Social Sciences would find highly problematic.

Eulogies are one thing. But let’s not whitewash this person’s publishing record. “Classic” does mean “influential”, but it should not in this case necessarily imply “good”.
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Now, I am aware of the old adage of “Of the dead, nothing but good is to be said”, and I’m saying nothing about De Mente as a person.  I am assessing his work, as I hope someone would after I pass.  What I am critical of is the effects of his works, which are whitewashed in Chavez’s piece. (Disclaimer: I am not a fan of Chavez’s lousy social science in her writings to begin with: See for example her “How about a gaijin circus in gazelle land?” from the JT in 2010.)

As I allude in my comment above, De Mente is of a genre of writers who paint Japan in immensely broad and often sloppy strokes.  He expands upon a narrow amount of personal experience to make sweeping (and generally outdated) judgments about a society, and then replicates this across societies often with ribald results (and titles). De Mente not only portrayed Japan as a playground for rapacious White Men and “feminine” “Oriental Girls” (seriously, that’s one of his book titles in 2009), but also positioned himself as an oracle on how to use “samurai practices” and “code words” to triumph in careers, understand “thought and culture”, and even understand “the lively art of mistress-keeping“. And the fact that this was taken seriously–because there were so few analytical books on Japan when De Mente started out–is one reason why Japanology is such a mixed bag in terms of actual in-depth analysis. To this day, sweetmeat books on manga and anime are more likely to get book deals and sell better than anything, say, some powerful analysis Chalmers Johnson or Tessa Morris-Suzuki would write.

In sum, after reading a couple of De Mente’s books (as well as Jack Seward‘s, another profiteer of this Orientalist genre), I vowed never to read pseudoscientific books with analytical paradigms built on sand until I came up with my own paradigms — informed by facts, statistics, long experience full of trial-and-error, and full immersion making a life in Japan for decades like anyone else (including buying a house and taking out citizenship). Accomplishing that took some time, of course, and not all of my past writing goes beyond even De Mente. But I kept at it, and improved over the years; and now “Embedded Racism” has been reviewed very favorably by fellow scholars, thanks.

Will “Embedded Racism” have an influence within Japanese Studies, enough to be labelled a “classic” someday? Here’s hoping, but people more likely want to read about “Weird Japan”, Geisha, and how to bed Japanese women. And I challenge anyone to find a country written more about in the English language basically in terms of exotica and erotica.  We don’t take Japan, or scholarship on Japan, seriously enough partially because of that. That’s De Mente et al.’s legacy. RIP to the man, and someday RIP to his genre. Dr. Debito Arudou

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Asahi: Joe Kurosu MD on ineffectually low doses of medicine for NJ patients and bureaucratic intransigence

mytest

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Hi Blog. In our previous blog entry, Debito.org Reader StrepThroat brought up the issue of Japanese medical prescription doses being too low to be effectual for some larger patients, particularly larger NJ patients used to larger doses overseas. Some respondents recommended taking double the dose and going to the doctor again for refill of the prescription, while others self-medicated with overseas supplements, and still others mentioned falling through the system entirely (particularly when it came to painkillers).

Joe Kurosu MD, who runs a clinic in Shimokitazawa, adds to this discussion in a January 2010 series of opinion pieces in the Asahi Shinbun, by saying:

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Asahi:  “For reasons that are unclear, however, the indicated maximum dose is often significantly lower than that which is standard in other parts of the world. Difference in physical frame and incidents of side effects are some of the purported reasons, but a scientifically convincing basis is lacking.

“A significant number of resident foreign nationals currently receive health care through the Japanese national health insurance system, but are ill-served because of these dosage standards.

“The maximum daily doses indicated on package inserts of standard medications for high blood pressure, diabetes and depression, for example, are one-quarter to one-half of the standard doses in other countries for the identical drug. […]

“In any case, if the government requires foreign nationals to join the [National Health Insurance] system, it must be willing to provide services appropriate to that population. If this is not possible, then buying in the system should be voluntary […] I urge the government and relevant authorities to return autonomy to the physicians so the medications can be prescribed appropriately for the patient, whether or foreign or Japanese, based on science and clinical judgment, rather than [mechanically applying the dosage levels indicated on the package inserts].”
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Here are scans of Dr. Kurosu’s articles in English and Japanese, courtesy of Dr. Kurosu himself (pctclinic.com) and RJ.

PDF versions here (click on link):
Kurosu2
KurosuArticleJP

There was another question as to whether Japanese medical testers screen for Japanese as an ethnicity (or “race”) when it comes to clinical trials.  Well, yes they do — as demonstrated here in Hawaii when I saw an ad in our campus newspaper back in 2012 calling for “Japanese” people to volunteer for a series of clinical trials “to help Japanese people”, sponsored by Covance.  I inquired (as a Japanese citizen), but was told that they were only interested in “ethnic Japanese” (including those who didn’t have Japanese citizenship, but had “Japanese blood”).  Oh well.  Missed out on my body mass.

Many thanks to everyone for helping make Debito.org a valuable resource and forum. Dr. Debito Arudou

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Reader StrepThroat: Medical prescriptions for foreign patients gauged to ineffectual children’s doses, regardless of patient size considerations

mytest

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Hi Blog.  We’ve dealt with cases of hospitals refusing to treat NJ patients before (see some cases here).  Here’s something that’s never come up on Debito.org before:  How even when NJ receive treatment, medicines may be ineffectual due to low dosages.  Check this out.  I’m not a doctor (well, not one that can write prescriptions), so I hope members of the medical community can weigh in on this one.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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From: StrepThroat
Subject: Fwd: Indirect discrimination in prescriptions?
Date: May 6, 2017
To: debito@debito.org

Dear Debito,

I don’t tend to get sick often but just my luck, I was hit with some evil form of strep throat just as Golden Week started. After hours of hunting down an open hospital, and then another hour or so to hunt down an open pharmacist, I had my prescription antibiotic cut down to 2/3rds the prescription at the pharmacy. Apparently the doctor had taken my size into consideration when writing the prescription…but the pharmacists called him out on it exceeding the maximum daily dosage. I protested but was ultimately left with what the rest of the world considers a children’s dosage. After speaking with the pharmacist, doctor, and other pharmacists, what I found was the maximum dosage of certain medications is regulated by law and the maximum dosages for sales within Japan are determined by trials done exclusively on ethnic Japanese. I’m hardly a huge guy but at 75kg, I’m surely larger than the average Japanese. so this results in less than ideal dosages for nearly everything. For example, this time I was given:

acetaminophen:

Extra Strength Tylenol is 1000mg every 6 hours.
Normal Tylenol is 650mg every 6 hours.
Childrens Tylenol is 500mg every 6 hours.
Japanese Calonol is 400mg every 6 hours.

clarithromycin:

Overseas recommended dosage is 250-500mg twice a day.
Japanese dosage is 200mg twice a day.

Huscode 741 combo pills

Overseas adult dosage is 3 pills, 3 times a day.
Overseas children’s dosage is 2 pills 3 times a day.
Japan dosage is 2 pills, 3 times a day.

Basically, strict regulation of dosage size, based on the average ethnic Japanese rather than a more reasonable system based on body weight or age like in other countries. The end result is ineffective, children’s dosing or less for those of us who don’t fit the garigari average Japanese body size standard.

Probably not intentional racism but the narrow-minded mindset to use only locals for domestic Japanese consumptions means at the end of the day, it is likely to affect most NJ patients as well as any Japanese that are larger than the average Japanese. Every doc and pharmacist agreed the dosages were too small but gave the usual shogainai/gamanshikadekinai answers.

Sincerely yours, StrepThroat

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UPDATE:  Asahi: Joe Kurosu MD on ineffectually low doses of prescription medicine for NJ patients and bureaucratic intransigence, in the Asahi Shinbun http://www.debito.org/?p=14616

Nikkei: ‘No foreigners allowed’: Survey shows heavy discrimination in Japan (which editorializing Nikkei Asian Review tries to excuse and dismiss)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Following my most recent JBC column on the MOJ Foreign Residents Survey (which showed significant and substantial rates of “foreigner discrimination” in Japan, particularly in housing), we have the right-of-center Nihon Keizai Shinbun (roughly equivalent to the Wall Street Journal in stature and tone) offering their interpretation of the Survey.  Note the editorializing (which I will point out within the article below [in square brackets]) to try to be discounting or dismissive of the report — trying to pass it off as somehow “worries” about mere cultural misunderstandings, or issues not serious enough to seek help for.

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

‘No foreigners allowed’: Survey shows heavy discrimination in Japan
40% are refused housing because they are not Japanese
NIKKEI ASIAN REVIEW, April 6, 2017, Courtesy of JH
By TSUBASA SURUGA, Nikkei staff writer
http://asia.nikkei.com/Japan-Update/No-foreigners-allowed-Survey-shows-heavy-discrimination-in-Japan

TOKYO — Nearly 40% of foreign residents seeking housing in Japan are turned down because they are not Japanese, according to a new government survey. Roughly the same percentage also report being refused housing due to the lack of a Japanese guarantor.

[Aha.  So let’s immediately mitigate the problem by saying it’s a systemic issue, one that applies to Japanese too.  Even though it’s a lot tougher for NJ to get guarantors because they don’t have family or other “credible” connections in Japan, meaning it’s still slanted against the NJ renter regardless.]

Nearly 27% of the 2,044 foreign respondents who had sought new housing within the past five years reported giving up on a potential residence after discovering a notice saying “no foreigners allowed.”

“The landlord told [me and my husband] that the house is not for foreigners,” a Filipino woman in her forties was quoted as saying in the survey, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Justice.

“We visited a different real estate agent, but they said a Japanese guarantor was required,” she said. “We explained that we were both permanent residents, only to be declined because we did not meet the conditions.”

These rejections, however, are not necessarily motivated by racism.

[But that’s not what the survey says.  This is the Nikkei offering their interpretation.  And look at their reasoning:]

Many landlords fear they may not be able to communicate easily with foreign tenants. Other reasons for refusal to rent include worries that foreign tenants will not follow Japanese customs, such as taking off their shoes inside the house.

[And that’s not racism?  Presuming that foreign tenants cannot communicate?  And justifying the denial of housing due to unfounded “worries” that people allegedly WON’T TAKE OFF THEIR SHOES!?  How would Nikkei editors feel if they were stationed overseas, but were refused apartments because of landlord “worries” that Japanese eat too much rice and might clog the toilets with their BMs?  (We already get enough Japanese grousing about racism when they get seated in an overseas restaurant too close to the toilet.)  On what planet would this not be interpreted as a normalization of prejudice expressed performatively as racism?  I guess Planet Nikkei.]

The survey, the first of its kind conducted by the government, was aimed at obtaining a detailed understanding of human-rights abuses faced by foreigners as Japan at a time when the country is preparing from a dramatic influx in foreign visitors due to the coming of 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The number of foreign residents reached an all-time high of 2.38 million at the end of 2016, up 6.7% on the year, according to the ministry.

The survey was conducted by the Center for Human Rights Education and Training across 37 areas nationwide between November and December last year. The organization mailed surveys to 18,500 foreign residents and received 4,252 responses.

Chinese and South Koreans combined accounted for over half of the adult respondents, followed by Filipinos, at 6.7%, Brazilians, 5.2%, and Vietnamese, 4.8%.

Of the 2,788 respondents who either worked in Japan or were looking for work here, 25% said they were denied employment because they were not Japanese. The report suggested that language ability did not appear to be the problem, as nearly 95% of those respondents said they spoke conversational, professional-level or fluent Japanese.

About 20% of those working in Japan said they received lower pay than their Japanese counterparts in the same job.

Nearly 30% of all respondents said they had been the target of derogatory remarks or insults due to their ethnic background in the past five years. Of those respondents, about 80% called the experience “unpleasant” or “unacceptable.” However, only 11% had sought help or consultation in response.

[And what’s the point of pointing out like this that they hadn’t sought help or consultation?  That it’s their fault for not seeking help, or that it wasn’t serious enough an issue to bother?  Perhaps they know by now that seeking official assistance in Japan is generally meaningless (see for example here, here, and here)]
ENDS

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So many little needles, Nikkei, so little tolerance for news that reflects badly on Japan.  That’s why getting rid of Japan’s embedded racism is so difficult — it’s embedded in even the most mainstream of publications and discounted for whatever reasons plausible.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

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Cautionary tale: Bern on how no protections against harassment in Japan’s universities targets NJ regardless of Japan savviness and skill level

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s a crie du coeur from an academic I respect mightily named Bern. He has spent umpteen years in Japan’s higher education, both at the faculty and the Dean level (there have been very few NJ Deans ever in Japan’s universities), and has complete fluency in reading, writing, and spoken Japanese. Yet even after all his work acculturating and developing the same (if not greater) job skills as native speakers, he could not avoid institutional harassment. As he says below, “until harassment and discrimination laws are clarified and given real teeth” in Japan, all NJ faculty and staff are at risk.

And I speak from personal experience that this can happen to anyone. For NJ educators’ mental and vocational integrity, due consideration should be taken before ever considering a career in Japanese academia. Someday I’ll give an opinion piece about why Japan’s positions for NJ academics are, quite simply, a hoax, and why Japanese educational institutions should be avoided, full stop. But not yet. Meanwhile, here’s Bern:

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Date: April 9, 2017
To: debito@debito.org
From: Bern

While this post for your blog describes an attempt by one university to isolate and harass (including a false claim of harassment that failed in epic fashion) a foreign faculty member, it is also meant to be a reminder. As a foreigner in Japan, things can go wrong even with the Japanese language fluency, the cultural and legal knowledge, the degrees and publications, the connections, etc., etc. that we are always told we should get in order to be “safe.” In other words, and until harassment and discrimination laws are clarified and given real teeth, we are all at risk.

As stated above, I have over 26 years of experience as a university teacher and administrator, including positions at public, national and private universities in Japan and in the USA. I have also been successful in these positions. Among other things, I was the first non-Japanese in Iwate National University’s 120-year history to be made department head (英米パート主任), and then the first non-Japanese there to be made the head of a division (欧米言語文化コース代表). Previous to that, I was dean (学部長) at Miyazaki International College, at the time the youngest dean in Japan and one of just seven non-Japanese deans in the country. Finally, I’ve been a union member, including serving as officer, for twenty years, during which time I have helped well over fifty people with labor concerns.

I have just finished two years in the most bizarre employment situation I personally have ever encountered. Some background: I worked at Iwate National University until March, 2015. It was an exciting and sometimes challenging, position, with mostly great colleagues. However, the work demands were very high, and with the ongoing hiring freeze, coupled with multiple MEXT-mandated pay cuts and constant MEXT pressure to make wholesale curriculum changes to “fix” nonexistent problems, things did not look to get any easier in the years to come.

So when, in the late summer of 2014, Iwate Prefectural University (IPU) contacted me about possibly moving over to join them, I was very excited. The position was to be for equivalent pay but with far less administrative responsibilities, as well as teaching duties more in line with my research and education. Serious discussions started that August. I was to be replacing a good friend of mine, Christine, who was taking early retirement. I would be working with Ogawa, who I considered a friend, and who I ironically had helped to get her current position. I would also be working with Kumamoto, who I got to know when she suddenly had to take leave for a semester and I was asked to teach her 西洋文化研究法 class instead. (This is a course on academic writing and research methods in Japanese. In other words, and on just three weeks of notice, I had to prepare and then teach a class on Japanese academic writing and research methods in Japanese to twenty Japanese university students.) Moreover, I thought I knew Ishibashi, the current 学科長 (Dept. Head). I also knew the one other foreign faculty member–as he wishes for anonymity let’s call him “A”–who I felt was a good guy. I have an email account full of correspondence about how everyone at IPU was looking forward to working with me, and how we would work together to make IPU a better place.

And so I made the change over, unfortunately without getting everything formally in writing first. To say that actual conditions were different from the verbal offer actually understates what awaited me at Iwate Prefectural University.

I arrived at a department where nearly half of my new colleagues (five out of eleven) had in recent years filed 鬱病診断書 (official diagnoses of severe depression) and rarely or never came to work, a department where three people (again out of just eleven) had had formal harassment claims made against them in the past four years. However, more on that last bit later.

My first inkling of trouble came when “A” suddenly resigned his tenured position at IPU to take a nontenured position (for less money) elsewhere. He submitted this resignation at the end of February, about one month before I was to start at IPU. I was disappointed, so I asked him about his decision…and he responded only with “You’ll know yourself soon.” I asked Christine and Ogawa about this. Christine responded cheerfully with assurances that, while disagreements happened, most people got along fine. (In her defense, Christine had no Japanese language ability and so apparently was blissfully unaware of the seriousness of many of the ongoing issues. She also wrote written statements in support of me later.) Ogawa never responded, which was a huge red flag, but at that point I had already resigned…so had no choice but to move on.

March 27, 2015 was my moving day. While carrying boxes upstairs, I was seen by Ogawa, who reminded me that we’d agreed to meet that day to discuss the English curriculum. I dutifully stopped unloading boxes and went to her office–to be honest, I was excited about discussing curriculum reform with my colleague and friend. However, there was to be no discussion. Instead, Ogawa informed me that I was to use a collection of grammar exercises and other explanatory materials “she” (they were actually taken from multiple junior and senior high school textbooks) had produced to supplement my 英会話 (English conversation) activities. I was a bit stunned, as I wasn’t hired to teach English conversation, didn’t have any English conversation classes to teach, and had already ordered textbooks for my other classes (back in February!). I attempted to explain this, saying that we should discuss materials and methodology at length over the semester and try to make a joint decision by the summer…and she exploded. She told me that she thought I’d be more “cooperative,” and asked me again and again if I knew my “place.” Despite repeated efforts–often in writing–on my part, we would not discuss English curriculum reform (or anything else) again during my two years at that campus.

My “place,” by the way, was professor (教授). Ogawa was a lecturer (講師), as was Kumamoto. That said, and this was confirmed by Mr. Chiba at the Labor Board (労働局), the unwritten policy at my new department was that rank didn’t matter, nor was there shared faculty governance in the usual sense seen at most national or public universities in Japan. Nothing was discussed or decided openly; we would have 学科会議 (department meetings), which I would attend religiously, only to be told that everything had already been decided. At these meetings, for instance, I first learned I would be denied the opportunity to work with the overseas exchange programs and even denied the opportunity to meet people arriving from overseas. E.g., regarding the latter, Kumamoto, after handing me a Japanese document–a letter of appreciation to Ohio University–and giving me five minutes (she actually stood next to me checking her watch) to translate it, then told me that I would not be allowed to meet the visiting faculty and students from OU that year. “Maybe next year,” I was told. Similarly, when I volunteered (begged) again and again to be informed of and allowed to participate in faculty-student events, including the Fourth of July Party, the Halloween Party, etc., etc., I was refused.

While I’ve heard again and again about this happening to many other foreigners, while I’ve personally advised foreign faculty who’ve been treated in this fashion, this is the first time such a thing had ever happened to me. I was systemically denied input into decision-making about school activities, English program reform, etc., etc. Instead, I was given the work nobody wanted to do. For example, I was made the first non-Japanese member of the 入試 committee, a committee so challenging new Japanese committee members are assigned a 先輩 (veteran colleague) to assist them with the multitude of responsibilities. I, however, was provided no veteran colleague. Instead, I was simply handed a large bag with the over 1,700 pages of things I “needed to know” about my new responsibilities, and then sent out alone to do, among other things, eleven high school visits in my first four months. (My Japanese colleagues went out in groups, to an average of just five schools.)

Still, I soldiered on, trying to prove myself to my new colleagues. In addition to the eleven high school campus visits, I did three 公開講座 (special lectures) on three different Saturdays (my Japanese colleagues averaged one), completed the onerous data-collection/number-crunching tasks (compiling from Japanese language surveys submitted by incoming freshman, etc.), etc., etc. And then, when I asked one day about the differences between the promised and actual work conditions, when I more strongly requested inclusion into the events and decision-making process, two of my colleagues (Kumamoto and Ogawa) did something I still find stunning:

They called a number of my students in and asked them to file a false harassment complaint against me.

How do I know they did this? Because my students–bless them–balked at doing this, and because these students then told me about what happened in writing. And not just this, Ogawa, in her complete stupidity, told two faculty members at other universities that she and Kumamoto would be doing this to me. Those faculty members (both friends) then informed me…again in writing.

To say I was blindsided, that I felt betrayed and humiliated and scared, is an understatement. Shocked, I reached out privately to Ogawa (my friend!) and asked for an explanation. She never responded. I then documented the harassment and asked Ishibashi to intervene, to mediate a discussion; he refused. Instead, on March 9, 2016, apparently after consultation with Ogawa and Kumamoto, Ishibashi stripped me of all duties beyond teaching.

I filed a complaint with the Labor Board (労働局), which reviewed the evidence, decided that I had a case, and intervened multiple times on my behalf. The national and regional unions intervened as well. It was in consultation with the latter that I first learned how often false harassment complaints are used to intimidate/bully at universities in Japan. I then found out that the same thing had happened not just to me, but to the three other faculty members at my university who had been accused of harassment.

The way it works is this: The 窓口 (ombudsman) for harassment complaints (in my case Kumamoto) calls in your students either singularly or in groups, talks about unstated and vague concerns or rumors she’s “heard” about you, tells the students she’s become aware from “other students” that you have been saying or doing inappropriate things in or outside of class, and then pressures your students to file a formal harassment complaint. Note that there does not have to be cause–e.g., no student had ever complained about me, and my student evaluations for that semester averaged a perfect score. More troubling, the specific contents of these complaints are kept confidential, making it very difficult to fight.

Again, I was lucky. My students protected me, and they did so in writing. Four faculty members submitted written statements in my support. I also taped conversations with Ishibashi, with Kumamoto and with Ogawa. Finally, after 26 years, I have an extensive support network inside and outside Japan. I wish all of you reading this similar luck.

That said, even with all my evidence, backing and connections, the best I could achieve was an “armed truce” where I was excluded and isolated but not harmed further. Note that at no time did I request the punishment of anyone–all I wanted was the harassment to stop and to be allowed to do the work they’d hired me to do. IPU refused to investigate–no student witnesses were ever contacted, nor did they speak to the multiple faculty members who’d submitted written statements in my support. They further refused to allow me to work–basically, I was getting paid to sit in my office to do nothing.

While some (including a number of my friends) teased me that this was an ideal position to be in, I wanted to be allowed to do my job. The Labor Board and the union recommended continuing to fight. However, fighting it out in court would have taken years, with the possible payout limited by Japanese law to 3,000,000 yen–or just $30,000 US–with about one third of that going to my attorney. (This, by the way, is what I mean by these laws not having teeth.)

I went out instead and found a tenured position at a university elsewhere. I am currently outside of Japan. The funniest thing is that, in my last conversation with him, Ishibashi assured me that I would never be able to find work again, that he “would see to it.” Maybe I should send him a postcard, signing it “Andy Dufresne”?

Be careful out there. Best, Bern
ENDS
=============================

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Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 105: “Media, stop normalizing sumo as an ethno-sport”, Monday, Feb 20, 2017

mytest

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Thanks to readers for putting this in the Top Ten most-read JT articles for two days in a row!  — Debito

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

STOP NORMALIZING SUMO AS AN ETHNO-SPORT
Foreign coverage of the new Yokozuna Kisenosato is embedding racism
By Debito Arudou
Just Be Cause Column 105 for the Japan Times Community Page
Monday, February 20, 2018

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/02/19/issues/media-outside-japan-must-stop-normalizing-sumo-ethno-sport/

I know that by now this is old news (blame press holidays and timely Trump articles), but congratulations to Kisenosato last month for ascending to yokozuna, sumo wrestling’s highest rank. After all your efforts, well done.

So what does JBC have to say about it? Nothing to diminish that achievement, of course. But let’s consider how the event echoed overseas. Here are some headlines from prominent news outlets:

BBC: “Japan gets first sumo champion in 19 years”
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38721106

Washington Post: “After 19 long years, Japan has a grand champion of sumo once again.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/after-19-long-years-japan-has-a-grand-champion-of-sumo-once-more/2017/01/25/

New York Times: “For the first time in years, Japan boasts a sumo grand champion.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/25/world/asia/japan-sumo-champion-kisenosato.html

The Guardian: “Kisenosato becomes Japan’s first homegrown sumo champion in 19 years.”
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/video/2017/jan/25/kisenosato-becomes-japans-first-homegrown-sumo-champion-in-19-years-video

Even our own JT: “Kisenosato becomes first Japanese-born yokozuna in almost two decades.”
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2017/01/25/sumo/kisenosato-becomes-first-japanese-born-yokozuna-almost-two-decades/

Hmm. At least three of those headlines make it seem like Japan hasn’t had a Japanese yokozuna – or any yokozuna – for nearly two decades.

That’s false. We’ve had five yokozuna (Musashimaru, Asashoryu, Hakuho, Harumafuji, and Kakuryu) since 1998.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_yokozuna

Unless they’re referring to the fact that the last four champions have been Mongolian, not Japanese. But that means they don’t count?

Then what about Musashimaru? He’s a naturalized Japanese, and was one (as the Japan Times duly noted) when he became yokozuna in 1999.

So he’s not counted because he’s not a “real” Japanese? Apparently. That’s why the JT and Guardian slipped in qualifiers like “homegrown” and “Japan-born”. As if that matters.

It shouldn’t. Except to racists.

And it matters in Japan because of the embedded racism of the sport…

Read the rest at

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/02/19/issues/media-outside-japan-must-stop-normalizing-sumo-ethno-sport/

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

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Wash Post & BBC: “Japan gets first sumo champion in 19 years”. Really? What oddly racist triumphalism from foreign press!

mytest

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Hi Blog.  We have a really weird conceit going on in the foreign press (see Washington Post and BBC below) regarding sumo wrestler Kisenosato’s rise to yokozuna, the highest rank.  (Congratulations, and well done, by the way.)  They are portraying it as “Japan’s first sumo champion of 19 years.”

Well, guess what, guys.  Wrong.  Japan has had other sumo champions in the 19 years, as you mention.  Hakuho, Harumafuji and Kakuryu.  There as also (oddly disgraced and scapegoatedAsashoryu as well.  Yes, they were born in Mongolia.  But guess what.  Who cares?

If you do care, does that mean you are subscribing to the racist theory (widely held in Japan, anyway, dating from the days of Akebono and Musashimaru) that because they aren’t Japanese, they don’t count as “real” sumo champions?  (Both Akebono and Musashimaru are naturalized Japanese, by the way, and were when they were yokozuna less than 19 years ago.  How ignorant of you not to mention that.)

Or are you subscribing to the tenet, as the Sumo Association does, that even naturalized Japanese sumo wrestlers don’t count as Japanese?

Or are you subscribing to the tenets, as expressed by racist fans below, that sumo has somehow “lost something” because foreign-born wrestlers rose to the top?  Is sumo an ethno-sport?  The Sumo Association tried to make it into into an Olympic event, by the way.  And would that mean if Japanese do not medal, as happens in Japan-originated events such as Judo, that the event has “lost something”?

Foreign reporters, kindly don’t racialize the sport with these types of headlines and reports.  Herald the athletes for their physical prowess regardless of origin.  Because you know better.  Articles like these wouldn’t fly if you were writing about a sport in your home country.  Imagine England claiming (and you reporting as such) that soccer has no real champion every time it doesn’t win a World Cup!  Don’t succumb to a racist narrative just because it comes from Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

After 19 long years, Japan has a grand champion of sumo once more
By Anna Fifield. The Washington Post, January 25, 2017
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/after-19-long-years-japan-has-a-grand-champion-of-sumo-once-more/2017/01/25/

TOKYO — After decades of scandals and humiliation at the hands of Mongolian wrestlers, sumo finally has Japanese grand champion again.

Kisenosato, a 30-year-old, 385-pound wrestler, was promoted Wednesday to the rank of yokozuna, the first time a Japanese competitor has been elevated to the highest tier in sumo in 19 years.

“The position of yokozuna is proof of much hard work and he’ll need to continue to work hard and protect the position like hell,” Nobuyoshi Hakkaku, chairman of the Japan Sumo Association, told reporters when announcing the promotion.

Japan’s national sport has been in decline in recent years, partly the result of a generational shift towards sports like baseball, partly because of the health issues associated with the heft needed to wrestle, and partly because of the increasing dominance of foreigners.

All three of the current yokozuna, whose ranks Kisenosato now joins, come from Mongolia. Competitors from Brazil, Russia, China and even Hawaii have also been doing well in past years.

So Kisenosato electrified Japan at the weekend when he won the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, recording 14 wins and only one loss.

Usually, a wrestler is promoted to yokozuna after winning two tournaments, but the Yokozuna Deliberation Council Monday recommended that Kisenosato be elevated to the top rank after only one victory.

The Japan Sumo Association concurred Wednesday, making Kisenosato the first Japanese wrestler to be promoted to grand champion since Wakanohana in 1998.

“Kisenosato to end long drought of Japan-born yokozuna,” a headline in the Asahi newspaper declared. “Hopes are rising that this new Japanese yokozuna will reinvigorate the world of sumo,” a writer said in the Nikkei Asian Review.

Kisenosato had something of a reputation for fragility, failing to come through high-pressure matches on many occasions. But at the tournament on Sunday, something felt different, he said.

“I was not excessively tense and was able to fight while keeping my calm,” he told Japanese reporters. “In addition to my own power, I felt that some different power was working.”

Indeed, Kisenosato has set another record: It took him 89 rounds of tournaments to become yokozuna, the slowest record in modern sumo history. And his victory Sunday came only after two Mongolian yokozuna pulled out of the tournament.

Some worry that Kisenosato has been promoted too quickly or that rules were bent to allow him to reach grand champion status.

“I like Kisenosato. Of course I want to see a Japanese yokozuna! And I believe his stable results in the past six tournaments were wonderful,” Ebizo, a renowned and outspoken kabuki actor, wrote on his blog this week. “But he became yokozuna with only one tournament win. I wonder if this could be an attempt to produce a Japanese yokozuna after such a long time.”

Yuki Oda contributed to this report.

ENDS

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

Japan gets first sumo champion in 19 years
BBC, 25 January 2017, courtesy of JDG
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38721106

Japan has formally named its first home-grown sumo grand champion in almost two decades, in a boost to the traditional wrestling sport.

Kisenosato, 30, was promoted to the top-most yokozuna rank after his win in the first tournament of the year.

He is the first Japanese-born wrestler to make it since Wakanohana in 1998. Five wrestlers from American Samoa and Mongolia have made it in the interim.

Foreign wrestlers have come to dominate sumo, amid a lack of local recruits.

Kisenosato, who comes from Ibaraki to the north of Tokyo and weighs 178kg (392 pounds), has been an ozeki – the second-highest rank – since 2012.

After being runner-up on multiple occasions, he finally clinched his first tournament victory – and thereby his promotion to yokozuna – in the first competition of 2017.

“I accept with all humility,” Kisenosato said in a press conference after the Japan Sumo Association formally approved him.

“I will devote myself to the role and try not to disgrace the title of yokozuna.”

What is sumo?
PHOTO: Wakanohana (R) competes against Akebono (L) at the Sumo Basho in Vancouver (file image)Image copyrightAFP
PHOTO: Wakanohana (R), seen here fighting Hawaiian Akebono, was the last Japanese wrestler to be promoted to yokozuna

Japan’s much-loved traditional sport dates back hundreds of years.

Two wrestlers face off in an elevated circular ring and try to push each other to the ground or out of the ring.

There are six tournaments each year in which each wrestler fights 15 bouts.

Wrestlers, who traditionally go by one fighting name, are ranked and the ultimate goal is to become a yokozuna.

Many Japanese fans will be pleased to see a local wrestler back at the top of a sport regarded as a cultural icon.

As yokuzuna, Kisenosato, whose real name is Yutaka Hagiwara, joins three other wrestlers in sumo’s ultimate rank – Hakuho, Harumafuji and Kakuryu.

The trio all come from Mongolia, following a path forged by sumo bad-boy Asashoryu, who was Mongolia’s first yokozuna in 2003.

The last Japanese-born wrestlers to reach the top were brothers Takanohana and Wakanohana, who made it to yokozuna in 1994 and 1998 respectively.

In recent years, sumo has been hit by falling numbers of Japanese recruits, partly because it is seen as a tough, highly regimented life.

Young sumo wrestlers train in tightly-knit “stables” where they eat, sleep and practise together and are sometimes subjected to harsh treatment in the belief that it will toughen them up.

In 2009, a leading coach was jailed for six years for ordering wrestlers to beat a young trainee who later died, in a case that shocked the nation.

Those at the top of the sport are also expected to be role models, showing honour and humility – and can be criticised if they get it wrong.

Mongolian wrestler Asashoryu led the sport for many years, but sumo elders were troubled by some of his behaviour

Sumo must also compete with the rising popularity of football and baseball, which have vibrant leagues that draw crowds of young Japanese fans.

But the sport is attractive to wrestlers from other nations, who can earn a good living. Wrestlers have come from Estonia, Bulgaria, Georgia, China, Hawaii and Egypt, as well as Mongolia and American Samoa.

As a child, Kisenosato was a pitcher in his school’s baseball club before he chose to train as a wrestler at a stable in Tokyo.

He made his debut in 2002 and, reported Japan’s Mainichi newspaper, the 73 tournaments he took to become a yokozuna are the most by any wrestler since 1926.

Speaking to reporters after the tournament victory on Monday that sealed his elevation, Kisenosato said he was pleased to be holding the Emperor’s Cup trophy at last.

“I’ve finally got my hands on it and the sense of pleasure hasn’t changed,” he said. “It’s hard to put into words but it has a nice weight to it.”

ENDS

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

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JT: “Japan’s shared dwellings are evolving to meet diverse needs of tenants”: Basically NJ tenants on same level as pets

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Hi Blog.  I’ve heard that people are worried I’m getting more easygoing in my old age (just turned 52), and that I’m settling for less (cheering on the baby steps) while not spading the spades enough.  Well, in my defense, I’m generally doing more big-picture stuff these days — signs of the times that indicate future trends and policy directions.  But this time, let’s do some Classic Debito, where I’m taking an isolated incident (such as a single article by a journalist lacking in self-awareness) and parse the text to find hidden subtextual meanings.  I’d generally do this for government documents (since they more likely express official attitudes of a committee), but let’s have fun with the article below.  Maybe you will see that I haven’t lost the verve, and that even Bowie could rock well into his fifties.  Here goes.  Article follows, with my comments in nonboldface:

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

NATIONAL
Japan’s shared dwellings are evolving to meet diverse needs of tenants
BY ANNA MASUI, KYODO NEWS/JAPAN TIMES
JAN 17, 2017, courtesy of JDG
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/01/17/national/japans-shared-dwellings-evolving-meet-diverse-needs-tenants/

PHOTO: Residents dine together at a Tokyo share house run by Borderless Japan, which ensures an equal number of Japanese and non-Japanese tenants. | KYODO

The face of share house living is changing in Japan as operators are stepping up efforts to meet a variety of needs among residents.

COMMENT:  From the opening line, we’re set up to see that we’re diversifying qualifications to rent an apartment, which is very welcome given how strict some landlords in Japan can be.  Fine, but… look how it’s contextualized in the very next sentence.

A two-story share house in a residential area in the western Tokyo city of Chofu allows residents to keep pets.

COMMENT:  Oh, pets.  Okay, so this is an article about allowing pets in with the paying humans?  The next paragraphs remain in that groove:

In late November, residents gathered in the 23-sq.-meter living area to share nabe hot pot fare, with their small pet dogs playing around them.

The home costs much less than other share houses for residents with pets, said Natsumi Yamada, 37, who moved there with her dog in March.

Yurina Wakatsuki, 25, began to live in the house in July to “interact with someone else because I used to only commute between my home and company.”

“I now enjoy going to a nearby cafe with my dog,” she said.

COMMENT:  Okay, but wait for the pivot:

The house is owned by House-Zoo, which was founded in 2016. The Tokyo-based company currently operates 12 share houses in the capital and Saitama Prefecture, allowing residents to keep up to two small pets, including dogs, cats, birds and rabbits, each.

COMMENT:  “House-Zoo”, eh?  So we’re talking about inter-species relationships, eh? Go on.

While share houses that permit residents to keep pets usually charge lease deposits equivalent to several months’ rent, House-Zoo demands a deposit of only ¥30,000. Some 70 people have lived in its share houses.

“It is costly to live in cities with pets,” said Muneki Tanaka, president of the company. “Share houses can lower costs and we will continue to provide environments where people can live with animals around them.”

COMMENT:  So far, so good.  About half the article has contextualized Japanese living with their pets.  But suddenly, the pivot:

Borderless Japan Corp. in Tokyo operates share houses where Japanese and foreign nationals live roughly on a 50-50 basis, accepting residents between 18 and 35 years of age.

COMMENT:  Huh?  We’ve gone from living with dogs and other pets to living with foreigners?  (And note the age cap.)

The operation began in 2008 as a spinoff from support services for foreign nationals unable to lease rooms partly due to the absence of guarantors.

COMMENT:  And also partly due to the issue of racist landlords simply unwilling to rent to a foreigner.  Because it’s not illegal to refuse accommodations (or entry in general) to foreigners on the basis of nationality or race in Japan.  According to the Asahi, 42% of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward alone encountered some form of discrimination, and nearly 52% of that was in finding apartments.  Racism, not a lack of guarantor, is generally the first slammed door a newcomer NJ faces.  How nice of this to be glossed over in the article.

The company has 70 “borderless houses” in Tokyo, Saitama, Osaka and Kyoto, having some 5,000 residents. People from the United States, France, Sweden and other Western countries account for a large portion of the residents.

COMMENT:  This should not be news.  “Borderless” houses should be the norm.  The fact that they are not the norm should be one focus of this article.

Despite residents keeping the houses in order by rotating cleaning duties, problems occasionally occur due to differences in living practices and cultures.

COMMENT:  Ah yes, another box checked off on my “Japanese media BINGO card”:  No article or discussion on foreigners in Japan (including even those on business, corporate safety, immigration, and of course garbage sorting) is complete without mentioning intrinsic and allegedly inevitable J/NJ problems due to “cultural differences”.  Not because certain people as individuals are untidy or aren’t used to their mommies not doing their laundry for them…

Ah the joys of dorm life.  Except in many societies, dorm residents don’t put conflicts down to “culture”, and just accept that some individuals are dicks.

Nevertheless, non-Japanese residents said they feel welcome thanks to the presence of Japanese friends, while Japanese welcome opportunities to learn differences in values and to improve their foreign language ability.

COMMENT:  As written that sounds like quite a nice trade off.  NJ get put to work enlightening them about their “differences” and teaching them gaikokugo, while Japanese just honor them with their presence.  Sounds like a better deal for the Japanese resident.

Meanwhile, real estate company Oakhouse manages Social Residence share houses, promoting interaction among residents who offer skills and information in their specialty to other residents through regular events such as cooking lessons.

Oakhouse now owns 17 share houses in Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama, some of which are equipped with studios for yoga, dance and music.

COMMENT:  Sounds like a lot of work just to be a resident.  Remember the age cap of 18-35 mentioned above?  Well, this is clearly not a place where people, especially middle-aged professionals, can just live and be left alone.  Come back home from a hard day’s work, and there’s still more work to be done?

Well, you might say, if you don’t like communal living, then don’t choose to live there.  But remember, Japanese have a lot more choice.  NJ don’t, in Japan.  So it sounds like NJ are being forced to be social in order to live there.  Kinda like camp counselors, in charge of keeping the camp kids entertained, except without the power to set the camp agenda.

“I have come to enjoy communal life through my experience of traveling abroad,” said Ikuya Yoshizawa, 23, who lives in Oakhouse’s residence in Kodaira, Tokyo.

“Events are enjoyable and opportunities to learn what I don’t know are stimulating,” he added. ENDS

COMMENT:  I wonder how a NJ resident feels.  Oh, we didn’t get a quote from them. The only residents who count, by the grace of their presence, are the Japanese who need to be stimulated.  An article written by a J reporter for a J audience, clearly, with NJ being treated as exotic animals being studied in their imported-native habitat.

CONCLUSION:  While I think we can assume that these places are run by well-meaning people just trying to put a roof over people’s heads, this article is written without much self-awareness.  Especially by couching NJ-friendly housing in the context of pet-friendly housing (“House-Zoo” is a dead giveaway), I think we can infer that the subconscious attitude of the reporter is that foreigners are entertainers there for the pleasure of the Japanese residents.  Like a pet cat or a dog.

But that’s, again, indicative of a bigger-picture trend.  Consider all the tokenism found in Japanese companies (especially during the Kokusaika Era, which I experienced first-hand) in hiring young, genki gaijin to “internationalize” their company, and then putting them to work in temporary, trite, and expendable jobs so that they could give the company smiles but never get promoted to a post with any power.

All this, and the reporter ignoring the fact that racist landlords (not the lack of a guarantor) are the primary reason why “no pets, no foreigners” apartments exist.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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Japan Times: “Riding while foreign on JR Kyushu can be a costly business” (re train ticket discounts in Japanese only)

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Hi Blog.  First have a read of this article, and then I’ll comment:

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

Riding while foreign on JR Kyushu can be a costly business
BY LOUISE GEORGE KITTAKA
The Japan Times Community Page, DEC 4, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/12/04/how-tos/riding-foreign-jr-kyushu-can-costly-business/

The last column of the year starts off with a problem regarding buying JR train tickets in Kyushu. Reader A writes:

I thought you might be interested in this issue that I encountered when using an automatic ticket machine in Hakata Station, Fukuoka.

Because I don’t read Japanese so well, I changed the machine to English language. As I went through the menu I could not select the “nimai-kippu” (two tickets of the same type) option, which offers a discount. The only options I had were two individual tickets — if I recall correctly the price difference was ¥2,000. I canceled the sale and went to the counter and had a conversation with the clerk, who confirmed that once English is selected, the cheaper two-ticket option wouldn’t be offered.

I was thinking how many hundreds of thousands of yen have been taken from people simply because they select English and don’t happen to know about the cheaper ticket options. My wife actually emailed JR Kyushu, but just got back a standard, “Thank you for your email.”

I spoke to a representative in JR Kyushu’s PR department. After some investigation, he confirmed that this situation still exists with some of the ticket machines once the foreign language option button (for English, Korean and Chinese) is pressed. It seems that there are two types of ticket machines, and while it isn’t a problem for the “two-ticket option” for shorter distances (kin-kyori), it does affect those for machines for longer distances (shitei kenbai). As our reader pointed out, this could result in non-Japanese customers paying quite a bit more if they purchase tickets through the machine.

“While JR Kyushu isn’t in a position to change the machines immediately, we will take this opportunity to discuss the situation and see how we can improve things for our foreign customers,” said the rep. He thanked the reader and Lifelines for bringing the problem to the department’s attention.

Has anyone encountered a similar problem with JR tickets in other parts of Japan? JR Kyushu’s spokesperson said it is possible the same situation could be happening in other areas, too.

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

COMMENT:  Two things:  One is that we have proof positive in a national newspaper of separate pricing schemes based upon language.  And this at one of Japan’s flagship companies (Japan Railways), no less.  Consider the parallels:  A restaurant with menus with cheaper prices for customers if they can read Chinese (something frowned upon as discrimination elsewhere).  Or travel agencies that reserve cheaper plane tickets for Japanese citizens only (see here too). Japan’s train network in Kyushu is filtering customers by language ability and charging Japanese-illiterates a premium.  This must stop, obviously, because it’s discriminatory.

And this is a great example to bring up point two:  How people still defend the practice, no matter what.  I waited a few days to post this, and sure enough, the Japan Times article predictably collected a few comments from guestists and denialists.  They decried anyone calling this practice “racist” (even though it is, under modern definitions of racial discrimination being a process of differentiation, othering, and subordination).  They instead went to the extreme of calling the decriers “racist”, or conversely the practice of selling discounted train fares to foreign tourists “racist” (actually, they can be sold to Japanese-citizen tourists as well as long as they don’t live in Japan), despite all the government campaigns to promote foreign tourism these days.

The point to stress is Japan’s subtle racism is particularly devious because of its plausible deniability.  People will seize on any excuse to justify discriminatory treatment.  Want equal rights or treatment in Japan?  Become a Japanese citizen.  Want equal access to cheaper train fares?  Learn Japanese.  You see, discrimination is the fault of those being discriminated against — because they didn’t take every measure to evade the discrimination.  Its an acceptance of a differentiated and othered status, used to justify the subordination — which deflects discussion of why this discriminatory system exists in the first place.

Why can’t customers just be treated as customers, and their money for access be valued the same way, regardless of their language ability? Well, I’ll tell you why.  Because to JR, it’s not a matter of fairness or equality.  It’s a combination of setsuyaku and mendokusai.  Making discounts multilingual would be costly, and then there’s the factor of profiteering from the extra fares.  The incentive system is clear:  Why pay more for a system that brings in less revenue?  And besides, the foreigners won’t realize it (because foreigners obviously don’t read Japanese), won’t complain (because they’re so powerless, with no voice in Japan except, ahem, the Japan Times), or they aren’t organized in numbers big enough for a meaningful boycott (plus, as seen above, anyone calling for organized action will be called racist even by their own side).

This is one reason why discrimination is so hard to get rid of in Japan.  It’s subtle enough at times for people to naysay it.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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Debito panelist on Al-Jazeera program “The Stream”: “The politics of identity in Japan” after Yoshikawa Priyanka’s pageant victory

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AlJazeeraPriyankaDebito091416

The politics of identity in Japan
The conversation on race and ethnicity widens in the island nation.
Al-Jazeera.com Program “The Stream”, September 14, 2016
http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201609131500-0025282

For the second year in a row, Japan has crowned a biracial woman the winner of a major beauty pageant, reviving a conversation in the island nation about race, xenophobia and what it means to be Japanese.

Japan is frequently labeled as one of the most homogeneous countries in the world, but some say this is a myth that discounts the minorities living there and stifles dialogue about discrimination in the country.

In May, Japan passed its first anti-hate speech law in an attempt to curb racism and xenophobia. While critics sceptical about the law’s effectiveness poked holes in the bill, many have applauded the government for taking steps toward addressing what they say is an often ignored issue.

Some have viewed Priyanka Yoshikawa’s Miss World Japan win as a sign the country is becoming more open to diversity. Others argue Japan has been open for a long time, and stories suggesting otherwise are reinforcing antiquated stereotypes. We discuss at 19:30 GMT.

On today’s episode, we speak to:

Priyanka Yoshikawa @Miss_priyanka20
Miss World Japan 2016

Baye McNeil @locohama
Author, columnist for The Japan Times
bayemcneil.com

Edward Sumoto @MixedRootsJapan
Founder, Mixed Roots Japan
mixroots.jp

Debito Arudou @arudoudebito
Author, “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination
debito.org

Yuta Aoki @ThatYuta
YouTuber
youtube.com/YPlusShow

See it at http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201609131500-0025282

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

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Japan Times column Sept. 5, 2016: “JBC marks 100 columns and a million page views”

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JBC marks 100 columns and a million page views
By Debito Arudou
Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 100
September 5, 2016

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

The day I proposed this column to my editors back in 2008, I knew it would be a hard sell.

Fortunately, I had a track record. I had been writing Zeit Gist articles (45 of them) every two months or so for the Community Page since 2002, and the JT was looking for new ways to serve the community beyond pages commemorating “Swaziland Independence Day” (which is Tuesday, incidentally). International goodwill and advertising revenue are all very well, but what about offering practical information for non-Japanese (NJ) residents making a better life here, or drawing attention to emerging domestic policies that affect them?

So my pitch was that the JT needed a regular columnist on human rights and issues of social justice. And I was convinced there was enough material for a monthly. They weren’t as convinced, and they were especially nonplussed at my suggestion for a column title: “Just Be Cause”!?

But shortly afterwards JBC got the green light, and on March 4, 2008, the first column was published — on why activism is frowned upon in Japan (because it’s associated with extremism). And off we went.

Nearly 10 years and 100 columns later, it is clear that, like the Debito.org archive (started 20 years ago, one of the oldest continuous personal websites on Japan) and daily blog (now 10 years old), JBC is in it for the long haul.

In this special anniversary column, let’s look back at what JBC has covered.  The themes have been, in order of frequency:

(Read the rest in The Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/09/04/issues/jbc-marks-100-columns-million-page-views/.)

—————————-

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

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

embeddedracismcover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date: April 4, 2016
From: AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date: April 14, 2016
From: CD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope this helps! Sincerely, CD

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

Date: April 14, 2016
From: EF

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

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

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

Date: April 15, 2016
From: GH

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

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

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

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

Date: April 15, 2016
From: AB

To: ARUDOU, Debito

Hello Debito san,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Japan’s Under-Researched Visible Minorities: Applying Critical Race Theory to Racialization Dynamics in a Non-White Society”. Journal article in Washington University Global Studies Law Review 14(4) 2015

mytest

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Debito’s latest publication is in in the Washington University Global Studies Law Review (Vol.14, No.4):

Japan’s Under-Researched Visible Minorities: Applying Critical Race Theory to Racialization Dynamics in a Non-White Society
Dr. Debito Arudou
Washington University Global Studies Law Review

Abstract
Critical Race Theory (CRT), an analytical framework grounded in American legal academia, uncovers power relationships between a racialized enfranchised majority and a disenfranchised minority. Although applied primarily to countries and societies with Caucasian majorities to analyze White Privilege this Article applies CRT to Japan, a non-White majority society. After discussing how scholarship on Japan has hitherto ignored a fundamental factor within racialization studies—the effects of skin color on the concept of “Japaneseness”—this Article examines an example of published research on the Post-WWII “konketsuji problem.” This research finds blind spots in the analysis, and re-examines it through CRT to uncover more nuanced power dynamics. This exercise attempts to illustrate the universality of nation-state racialization processes, and advocates the expansion of Whiteness Studies beyond Caucasian-majority societies into worldwide Colorism dynamics in general.

Recommended Citation
Dr. Debito Arudou, Japan’s Under-Researched Visible Minorities: Applying Critical Race Theory to Racialization Dynamics in a Non-White Society, 14 Wash. U. Global Stud. L. Rev. 695 (2015),
http://openscholarship.wustl.edu/law_globalstudies/vol14/iss4/13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Nate Nossal Ph.D., Ishikawa Prefecture

ENDS

Mainichi: Miss Universe Japan Ariana Miyamoto spurns ‘half Japanese’ label, seeks end to prejudice. Good, but article in English only, not for Japanese-reading audience.

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  I am increasingly impressed by the resilience of Ms. Miyamoto, as she manages to keep her message on track:

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

Miss Universe Japan Ariana Miyamoto spurns ‘half Japanese’ label, seeks end to prejudice
November 15, 2015 (Mainichi Japan), Courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20151115p2a00m0na001000c.html

As Japan’s internationalization continues, the country’s representatives in competitions abroad are also becoming increasingly diverse. The 31-man roster of the national rugby team that so electrified Japan in the recent Rugby World Cup, for example, boasted no less than 10 players born outside the country. And then there is Ariana Miyamoto, who this year became the first mixed-race woman to be crowned Miss Universe Japan.

“There are foreigner athletes representing Japan, and then there’s also me,” Miyamoto, 21, told the Mainichi Shimbun in a recent interview. “I think Japanese society has changed a bit, but it still has a ways to go.” Miyamoto, the daughter of an African American father and Japanese mother, is set to represent Japan in the annual Miss Universe pageant on Dec. 20 this year.

Though she has become a positive symbol of Japan’s internationalization, when she was selected to represent Japan in the pageant, she was also the target of many Internet attacks that she “doesn’t look Japanese.”

Miyamoto was born and raised in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, where her father worked at a U.S. military base. As a child, she was bullied for her different appearance, and even had garbage thrown at her. She spent two hours every morning before going to school straightening her hair to try and look the same as her classmates.

“I hated the term ‘beautiful whiteness’ that was used so much in cosmetics commercials on TV, because you can’t really become white-skinned with makeup,” she recalled.

She began to break free of such painful feelings when she started playing volleyball in the third grade. She proved very good at the sport, and in junior high school she was invited to attend a school in the prefecture renowned for its volleyball team.

However, Miyamoto said she began to build real self-confidence when she went to the United States for high school. Her parents had divorced and her father had moved to Arkansas. Miyamoto moved in with him and went to the local high school, where she was complimented by classmates for her beautiful skin color. It was then that Miyamoto says she realized how diverse the world really is.

After returning home to Japan, Miyamoto worked a number of jobs including as a bartender. She also had a mixed-race friend who had grown up in similar circumstances to herself. Her friend, however, was deeply pained by being unable to fit in inside Japan — a sorrow that eventually drove the person to suicide.

“I want to end racial prejudice,” said Miyamoto, adding that this was her reason for auditioning to represent Japan at the Miss Universe pageant.

According to a Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare demographic statistics, the number of international marriages in Japan began to rise from the mid-1980s, peaking in 2006 with 44,701 couples tying the trans-border knot. That made up 6.1 percent of all marriages, or one in 17. Currently, fewer unions between Japanese citizens and partners from Asia have pushed the ratio of international marriages down to about 3 percent of the total. Nevertheless, they are hardly uncommon in today’s Japan.

Meanwhile, the Japanese sports world is also looking more diverse, with Japan-born athletes like high school sprinter Abdul Hakim Sani Brown and baseball player (and recent Nippon Professional Baseball draftee) Louis Okoye making their mark.

“I don’t want to be summed up with the word ‘haafu’ (half),” said Miyamoto, referring to the Japanese colloquial term for those with one foreign parent. “It’s the same as saying they’re not really Japanese,” she went on, and expressed hope that the presence of mixed race Japanese people like herself will eventually be considered completely natural.

ENDS

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COMMENT:  Super, Ms. Miyamoto.  Bravo.  But of course, the Japanese media is making sure her message of tolerance and inclusiveness is being contained and rendered ineffectual.  This article, for example, was not featured as a Japanese article, for a Japanese-reading audience.  Which, naturally, is the audience that most needs to hear it and be convinced by it.  Here is a screen capture of web search from the same site in Japanese.  It’s not there:

MiyamotoArianaMainichiSearch111615

Keep at it, Ms. Miyamoto.  Someday your message may even get through the editors of Japan’s most liberal daily national newspaper.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

“Onsen-Ken Shinfuro Video”: Japan Synchro Swim Team promotes Oita Pref. Onsens — and breaks most bathhouse rules doing so. Historically insensitive.

mytest

eBooks, Books, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  As a bit of a tangent (but only a bit).  Check this out:

https://youtu.be/20ZWZJgixtw

COMMENT:  This is an excellent video featuring the former Japan synchronized swimming team in various hot springs (onsen) around Oita Prefecture.  I have been to some of these myself, and can attest to the magic of both the location and the waters.

BUT

I hate to pee in the pool here, but there are several things happening here that are absolutely impermissible by Japanese standards (in fact, they were cited as reasons for excluding all “foreigners” entry to the baths during the Otaru Onsens etc. Case of 1993-2005):

  1. Making noise in the bathing area.
  2. Splashing about.
  3. Wearing bathing suits in the pool.
  4. Wearing towels in the pool.
  5. Mixed bathing in a non-rotenburo area.
  6. Not washing off one’s body completely before entering (note that they get in dry after only a cursory splash).

If anyone does any of these things in real life, they will probably get thrown out of the bathhouse.  Worse yet, if anyone who DOESN’T LOOK JAPANESE did anything like this, everyone who doesn’t look Japanese (i.e., a “foreigner”) a priori would be denied entry at the door, merely by dint by phenotypical association.  That’s why I have a hard time enjoying this video knowing the history of Japanese public bathing issues, where stone-headed onsen owners looked for any reason to enforce their bigotry on people they thought couldn’t learn Japanese bathhouse rules.

Instead, without any irony whatsoever, we have the Japan synchro swim team breaking most of them.  To raucous applause.  Good thing they didn’t bring in a NJ synchro team to do this stunt — because then “cultural insensitivity” would creep into the mix.

Granted, there is a lengthy disclaimer at the end to say that swimming and bathing suits are not allowed in Japanese baths, and that rules etc. must be followed.  But I still remain grumpy at the lack of historical sensitivity shown towards the “foreigners” who suffered for being refused entry to Japan’s public baths despite following all decorum and rules.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Mainichi: Unequal treatment for foreign and/or foreign-residing A-bomb victims? Supreme Court decision due Sept. 8

mytest

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Hi Blog. Continuing with historical reflection on the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII-Pacific and the dropping of the atomic bombs, let me turn the keyboard over to Debito.org Reader JK for an interesting insight, this time quite germane to the aims of Debito.org.  Let’s see what ruling gets handed down next month.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

August 11, 2015
JK: Hi Debito. Here’s something you may not have considered — unequal treatment for foreign and/or foreign-residing A-bomb victims.  From the article below:

“But separate from the law, the government sets an upper limit on financial medical aid to foreign atomic bomb sufferers.”

And this:

“Similar lawsuits were filed with district courts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the two courts rejected the demands from A-bomb sufferers living outside Japan.”

Finally:

“I want them (Japanese authorities) to treat us the same way as they do to A-bomb sufferers in Japan no matter where we live.”

There’s obviously plenty of fodder here for a blog entry on debito.org, but putting that aside for the moment, there’s something subtle I noticed when reading the article, specifically, this:

2014年6月の大阪高裁判決は、援護法について「国の責任で被爆者の救済を 図る国家補償の性格がある。国外での医療費を支給対象から除外するこ とは合 理的ではない」などと認定。

In its June 2014 ruling, the Osaka High Court said that the Atomic Bomb Survivors’ Support Law “has an attribute of state reparations in which the state is required to take responsibility to give aid to A-bomb survivors. It is not reasonable to exclude medical expenses incurred abroad from the list of medical costs to be covered by the state.”

Did you catch it?

It’s this: reasonableness / unreasonableness as the basis for legal opinion (i.e. unreasonable exclusion of foreign medical expenses).

Does this ring a bell for you? I sure hope so!

If not, you may recall the legal opinion of a one Mr. Keiichi Sakamoto with regard to unreasonable discrimination

Now, I am no lawyer, but the problem I see with using the notion of reasonableness / unreasonableness in this way is that it leaves the door open to abuse (e.g. there may be a scenario where excluding medical expenses incurred abroad by foreign A-bomb victims is, in the opinion of the court, reasonable, or discrimination by an onsen refusing to admit NJ *is* reasonable, etc.)

At any rate, here are the references. Regards, JK

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

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150811p2a00m0na005000c.html
Supreme Court likely to rule in favor of Korean A-bomb sufferers over medical costs
The Mainichi Shinbun, August 11, 2015

The Supreme Court has decided to rule Sept. 8 on a lower court decision revoking the 2011 Osaka Prefectural Government’s decision not to cover the medical costs of South Korean survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bombing who received medical treatment in South Korea.

The Third Petty Bench of the Supreme Court is likely to uphold the Osaka High Court’s decision on the case as it has not held any hearings necessary to review the high court’s ruling that Japanese authorities must cover all medical expenses for A-bomb sufferers residing abroad.

The plaintiffs are a Korean who returned to South Korea after surviving the Hiroshima atomic bombing and relatives of two other now-deceased Korean A-bomb sufferers. Although the South Korean A-bomb survivors had received an Atomic Bomb Survivor’s Handbook, the Osaka Prefectural Government turned down their applications for provision of medical expenses incurred in South Korea. The plaintiffs have demanded that the Osaka Prefectural Government scrap its decision to refuse to pay them the medical costs, among other requests.

In its June 2014 ruling, the Osaka High Court said that the Atomic Bomb Survivors’ Support Law “has an attribute of state reparations in which the state is required to take responsibility to give aid to A-bomb survivors. It is not reasonable to exclude medical expenses incurred abroad from the list of medical costs to be covered by the state.” The Osaka High Court upheld the October 2013 Osaka District Court’s decision that called for payment of all medical costs and turned down an appeal from the Osaka Prefectural Government.

The state has been covering all medical expenses for A-bomb sufferers residing in Japan under the Atomic Bomb Survivors’ Support Law. But separate from the law, the government sets an upper limit on financial medical aid to foreign atomic bomb sufferers. Such being the case, A-bomb sufferers living abroad have argued that the government’s support for them is not enough.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, there were about 4,300 A-bomb sufferers living abroad who had an Atomic Bomb Survivor’s Handbook as of the end of March 2015. Similar lawsuits were filed with district courts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the two courts rejected the demands from A-bomb sufferers living outside Japan.

The South Korean plaintiffs are likely to win the lawsuit being fought in Osaka over whether the provision for medical expense coverage stipulated in the Atomic Bomb Survivors’ Support Law applies to A-bomb sufferers living abroad. Supporters for A-bomb sufferers abroad said A-bomb victims and their bereaved families overseas had felt relieved after hearing the news. But because the district courts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki handed down opposite rulings over similar lawsuits, supporters for foreign A-bomb victims are calling for quickly removing the disparity in medical support between the victims in Japan and those abroad considering the years passed since the atomic bombings.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in Osaka are Lee Hong-hyon, a 69-year-old South Korean man, and relatives of two other South Korean A-bomb sufferers who already passed away. They filed applications with the Osaka Prefectural Government to receive medical expenses incurred in South Korea. But the prefectural government turned down their applications, saying that medical expenses incurred overseas cannot be covered. Therefore, the South Koreans decided to file the lawsuit.

Junko Ichiba, 59-year-old chair of the Association of Citizens for the Support of South Korean Atomic Bomb Victims, conveyed the latest development to the South Korean plaintiffs on the evening of Aug. 10. Ichiba quoted Lee Hong-hyon as saying, “I want them (Japanese authorities) to treat us the same way as they do to A-bomb sufferers in Japan no matter where we live.”

People concerned with the lawsuits in Hiroshima and Nagasaki expressed hope that the Osaka case would have a positive effect on the cases in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Keizaburo Toyonaga, a 79-year-old A-bomb sufferer who heads the Hiroshima branch of the “Citizens’ Association for Helping Korean A-bomb Survivors,” said, “I am very pleased. The Atomic Bomb Survivors’ Support Law should be revised as soon as possible.” Nobuto Hirano, co-representative of a Nagasaki-based liaison support group for A-bomb victims overseas, said, “It is good news. The state should revise the system promptly.” The group provides support to plaintiffs in the Nagasaki case.
ENDS

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

在外被爆者医療費:「全額支給」確定へ9月8日最高裁判決
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20150811k0000m040074000c.html

被爆者援護法の医療費支給規定が海外に住む被爆者に適用されるかが争われた訴訟の上告審で、最高裁第3小法廷(岡部喜代子裁判長)は判決期日を9月8日に指定した。高裁の判断を見直す際に必要な弁論を開いておらず、在外被爆者の医療費の全額支給を認めた大阪高裁判決が確定する見通しとなった。

原告は、広島で被爆し韓国に帰国した被爆者や死亡した被爆者の遺族ら。被爆者健康手帳の交付を受けたが、韓国での医療費の支給申請を大阪府に却下され、処分の取り消しなどを求めていた。

2014年6月の大阪高裁判決は、援護法について「国の責任で被爆者の救済を図る国家補償の性格がある。国外での医療費を支給対象から除外することは合理的ではない」などと認定。医療費の全額支給を認めた1審・大阪地裁判決(13年10月)を支持し、府側の控訴を棄却していた。

国は援護法に基づいて、国内の被爆者に医療費を全額支給している。しかし在外被爆者については援護法とは別枠で上限を設けて医療費を助成し、在外被爆者らは「不十分だ」と訴えていた。

厚生労働省によると被爆者健康手帳を持つ在外被爆者は3月末現在で約4300人。広島、長崎両地裁でも同種の訴訟が起こされていたが、在外被爆者側の請求を棄却(いずれも控訴)しており、司法判断が分かれていた。【山本将克】

mainichi081015

ENDS

==========================================
— UPDATE: GOOD NEWS. DEBITO

Supreme Court rules hibakusha overseas are entitled to full medical expenses
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI STAFF WRITER
THE JAPAN TIMES, SEP 8, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/09/08/national/crime-legal/supreme-court-rules-hibakusha-overseas-entitled-full-medical-expenses/

Mainichi: “Not Japanese Enough?” Bog-standard article about Miss Japan Miyamoto Ariana’s fight against racial discrim in Japan, not in Japanese for J-audience

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I’ve been withholding comment on the very good news about Miyamoto Ariana’s ascension to the role of Miss Japan (I’ve only brought it up on Debito.org here so far), and for the role that she is taking on of her own volition to fight “racial discrimination” (yes, explicitly jinshu sabetsu — something that the J-media generally refuses to even acknowledge exists in Japan).  What I’ve been waiting for is how the J-media (as opposed to the predictable reaction from the J-xenophobes) would react to her activism.  And here’s a good example from the Mainichi Shinbun (comment follows article):

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

Not Japanese Enough? Miss Universe Japan looks to fight prejudice
July 25, 2015 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/features/news/20150725p2g00m0fe023000c.html

TOKYO (Kyodo) — At first glance, Ariana Miyamoto does not look like an ordinary Japanese woman. But the 21-year-old model and former bartender speaks the language like a native and thinks and acts like a typical Japanese her age. In March, she became the first mixed race contestant to be crowned “Miss Universe Japan,” but not everyone cheered the result.

Because of her darker skin she was criticized online for “not being Japanese enough” and there were those who wanted to know why a “pure” Japanese had not been chosen.

Even Ariana had her doubts when she was declared the winner out of 44 finalists. “Is it really all right that it’s me?” was her first reaction. She admits she worried a lot about what people thought.

But when she came to see that there were far more people supporting her than putting her down, she became brighter about the future and the kind of role she could play. “I’d like to participate in movements that fight against racism and stereotypes,” she says.

“My mother is Japanese and my father is African-American. Probably that’s why I got so much attention,” Ariana says with a laugh. Some of her classmates in Sasebo, Nagasaki, used to bully her, saying things like, “Don’t swim in the same pool ’cause your skin will rub off on me.”

As a biracial child wondering where she should fit in, Ariana would frequently turn to her mother, who would encourage her by saying, “Everyone envies you for your beauty.”

Ariana’s parents divorced when she was very young. When she went to the United States to visit her father, she felt comfortable because she found people of many different ethnicities.

After attending a local high school in Arkansas for two years, she returned to Japan. Arriving at Narita airport, she said she was shocked to discover how really Japanese she felt. Every Japanese sign she saw made her feel she was back home.

In a world where racial discrimination and hate speech show no signs of abating, whether in Charleston, South Carolina where nine African-Americans were gunned down in a church, or streets in Shin-Okubo in Tokyo where discrimination is aimed at ethnic Koreans, she wants to make a difference.

Taking advantages of her new fame as Miss Universe Japan, she hopes in the future to campaign for a Japan and a world without prejudice. “I think Japan is showing some signs of change. We see more and more ‘haafu’ (biracial) TV personalities coming onto the scene. I think we can really change,” Ariana said.

Ariana is still unsure about the exact role she will play.

“Now I’m concentrating to be fully prepared for the Miss Universe world event which will take place sometime in 2015. I wish I can participate in some activities to raise awareness and fight against racial discrimination after that.”

The date for the Miss Universe contest, the international beauty pageant owned by Republican candidate Donald Trump, who himself is embroiled in controversy over racially insensitive remarks he made about Mexican immigrants, has not yet been decided.

Hopefully, Ariana’s victory in Japan is a signal that Japanese society is opening to accept more diversity. An added bonus is the pride she will feel by representing her country in the same light when she steps on the world stage.

ENDS

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Okay, a few points:

1) The opening paragraph, where the article says, “But the 21-year-old model and former bartender speaks the language like a native and thinks and acts like a typical Japanese her age.”  Well, she IS a native speaker of Japanese, and she IS a typical Japanese her age.  Because she IS a Japanese.  100%.  Even she says so.  Front-loading the articles to reinforce the narrative that she isn’t a Japanese because she has mixed roots is one major problem in this unnecessary debate about Miyamoto-san’s identity.

2) The article is better than many (for example this one or this one) because it doesn’t have the “Duhhhh, duhhhh, she’s just soooo beautiful…!” fawning objectification that a lot of the stunned (male) reporters do when discussing her role and her future.  However,

3) The article is basically bog-standard in terms of talking about Miyamoto, with no new news that hasn’t been reported elsewhere.  One might say that it’s good that her voice is making a Japanese newspaper.  But it really didn’t.  This article didn’t appear in the Japanese version of the Mainichi.  There is no link provided to the Japanese version like it is for other articles on the site (well, it is a Kyodo wire services article, not done by Mainichi reporters; and that’s also indicative).  A search of the Mainichi revealed that it was basically sequestered to a foreign-language-reading audience.  Once again, it’s basically showcase boilerplate for the Gaijin without making a domestic dent.

Anyway, Debito.org wishes Miyamoto-san well.  I hope that she doesn’t get ground down by the boredom of the same questions over and over again, by the nasty people who police her identity, or by the frustration she may soon feel when she realizes that her optimism about Japan changing was just her being youthful.

Given that her narrative about fighting racial discrimination is basically only showing up in the foreign-language media, the only way I see her really making a change is if she wins Miss Universe.  Then of course Japan and the media will fall all over themselves to claim her as “Japanese” (as they do Nobel Prize winners who move overseas and take foreign nationalities).  And then she’ll have greater leverage.  For that reason, among others, I hope she does win.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Times Just Be Cause 89, “Media redraw battle lines in bid for global reach”, on Fuji network’s acquisition of Japan Today.com, July 6, 2015

mytest

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Hi Blog. Coming out tomorrow is my latest Japan Times column. Opening paragraphs:

justbecauseicon.jpg

============================================
Media redraw battle lines in bid for global reach
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito, July 6, 2015
JUST BE CAUSE column 89 for the Japan Times Community Page

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/07/05/issues/media-redraw-battleines-bid-global-reach/ 

Something significant happened in April that attracted only desultory press coverage, so let’s give it some more.

GPlus Media Co., which operates English-language websites Japan Today and GaijinPot, was sold to Fuji TV-Lab, a subsidiary of Fuji Media Holdings Inc. The Fuji Media group has the Fuji Television Network under its wing, as well as the conservative daily Sankei Shimbun as an affiliate.

This matters to Japan’s resident non-Japanese (NJ) communities. Fuji TV was recently caught fabricating subtitles falsely quoting South Korean commenters as “hating Japan” (Japan Times, June 29). That’s an incredibly dishonest thing for a nationwide broadcaster to do, especially when it may have a nasty impact on Japan’s Korean minorities.

However, the Sankei Shimbun as a newspaper I believe is no less nasty.

Over the past 15 years, for example, they have run articles grossly exaggerating foreign crime (see “Generating The Foreigner Crime Wave”, Japan Times, Oct. 4, 2002), a column claiming that Chinese had criminal “ethnic DNA” (May 8, 2001, written by regular columnist and former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro “let’s fight a war with China” Ishihara) and an opinion piece by Ayako Sono on Feb. 11 that praised the racial segregation of South African apartheid as a model for Japanese immigration policy.

The Fuji-Sankei group offers pretty much unwavering support to the country’s right-wing causes and talking points. They are further right than the Yomiuri — and that’s saying something.

Before I get to why we should care, let’s look briefly at the existing landscape of the nation’s English-language media. (I focus on the English-language press because Japan’s own ruling class does — to them, English is the world language, and Japan’s portrayal in it is of intense concern.)

In addition to The Japan Times (the country’s oldest English-language newspaper, independent of any domestic media conglomerate), other English papers at one time included The Daily Yomiuri, The Asahi Evening News and The Mainichi Daily News.

The last three were all “vanity presses,” in the sense of major Japanese media empires using them to feel self-important in the international arena. They had Japanese bosses, managers and editors who had in-house Japanese-language articles translated for the outside world. And, yes, they were for outside consumption — Japan’s English-language readers were never numerous enough to sustain four daily newspapers!

They were complemented by Kyodo and Jiji wire services, piggybacking on print media with articles that had also been translated from Japanese. In my experience working with all of them, their general political slants were: the Yomiuri squarely rightist, the Asahi and Jiji center-right or center-left (depending on the editor), and the Mainichi and Kyodo generally leftist.

Regardless of their political bent, most of these presses during the late 1980s and ’90s employed NJ as reporters doing English articles. Granted, these articles did not necessarily appear in their Japanese flagships — vanity newspapering means information about Japan goes outward, not inward; NJ were never allowed to touch the controls, and seldom were their articles translated into Japanese. However, they did offer foreign voices to foreign residents.

It was a renaissance, of sorts: NJ reporters often reported on issues germane and beneficial to NJ residents. Not only was there lively debate in English, but also there were some boomerang benefits — for example, overseas newspapers (such as the almighty New York Times, the bete noire of Japan’s elites) picking up their stories and shaming Japan’s policymakers into making changes (for example, the abolition of fingerprinting on Alien Registration Cards in 1999).

However, this dynamic has shifted dramatically toward disempowerment over the past 15 years. According to one employee I have talked to, The Daily Yomiuri relegated its NJ staff to doing puff pieces on Japan before making them mere interpreters of Yomiuri Shimbun articles. The Asahi Evening News did the same, according to another former employee, purging its foreign bureau before they could unionize. The Mainichi Daily News, whose popular WaiWai column translated the country’s seedy tabloid journalism, was bombarded by Internet trolls decrying this apparent embarrassment to Japan; the paper then fired its best writers.

When the shakeups subsided, The Japan Times had raised its price and trimmed its pages, and the English versions of the Asahi and Mainichi had ceased their print publications entirely. The Daily Yomiuri renamed itself the anodyne “The Japan News,” an attempt in my opinion to whitewash its right-wing image. However, the upshot was vanity presses stopped carrying out investigative journalism in English and only hired NJ as translators.

Frozen out of major Japanese media, NJ have created their own community presses. Japan has long-running newspapers for Koreans, Chinese and Brazilians. Regions such as Fukuoka, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Sapporo and, of course, Tokyo have all launched their own local-content magazines (with varying degrees of success). And that’s before we get to the online fora and fauna. However, aside from offering events and outlets for aspiring authors, none have the national and international media footprint that online news site Japan Today has (where, full disclosure, I also worked as a columnist).

That’s why GPlus Media’s buy-up matters. This is an era of micromanagement of any media criticism of Japan (even NHK Chairman Katsuto Momii on Feb. 5 admitted publicly on that his network will not report on contentious subjects until the government has “an official stance”; in other words, NHK is now a government mouthpiece). Meaning this buy-up is another outsider’s voice being effectively silenced — and another rightist platform empowered.

Of all the major newspapers, only the Sankei Shimbun never had an English channel. That is, until now. And it’s not hard to guess how things will soon swing.

Already I am hearing murmurs of Japan Today’s moderators deleting reader comments critical of Japan’s media, anti-Chinese and anti-Korean sentiment, Fukushima investigations, and the revamped U.S.-Japan security arrangements.

Then again, that’s within character. To them, what’s the point of owning media if you can’t control its content?

However, the content is problematic because it is increasingly propagandistic. On June 16, for example, Japan Today reprinted an article from RocketNews24 (another Japanese media outlet devoting lots of space to puffing up Japan) on “the decline of Koreatown” in Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo district. It blamed, inter alia, bad Korean food, the actions of the South Korean government toward disputed islands and bad South Korean management practices.

It discounted the domestic media’s popularization of kenkan (“hatred of things Korean”), which a search of Amazon Japan demonstrates is a lucrative literary genre. It also made no mention, of course, of the off-putting effects of periodic public demonstrations by hate groups advocating that people “kill all Koreans.” Essentially, the thrust of the article was: Koreatown’s decline is due to market forces or it’s the Koreans’ own fault. How nice.

However, I shouldn’t just pick on the Sankei. The other major national Japanese newspaper we still haven’t mentioned — the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) — also appears to be getting in on the act.

According to MediaWeek, the Nikkei bought into U.K. media group Monocle in 2014 in order to, according to its CEO, “further boost its global reach.” In June, Monocle declared Tokyo “the world’s most livable city,” and Japan Today dutifully headlined this as news. All purely coincidence, of course.

The point is: The country’s rulers understand extremely well the crucial role of the media in mobilizing consent and manufacturing national image and narrative. In this current political climate under the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who appears to be venomously opposed to any critical thinking of Japanese society, the last independent voice in English is what you’re reading now.

The Japan Times is the only sustainable venue left with investigative NJ journalists, NJ editors and independently-thinking Japanese writers, bravely critiquing current government policy without fretting about patriotism or positively promoting Japan’s image abroad.

Long may The Japan Times stand. Long, too, may its columnists, ahem, as I have here for more than 13 years. However, Just Be Cause has for the first time felt pressure (with this column) after coming under increased scrutiny in the editing process. The Community pages have within the past 18 months been reduced from four pages a week to two. How much longer before they are sanitized or cut entirely?

This is why I encourage all readers to support The Japan Times. Send appreciative emails to the editorial desks. Have your school, university, library and community centers subscribe to it. Get it from the newsstand or buy an online subscription. Click on its advertisers. Invest in it — however you can.

If The Japan Times succumbs to economic and political pressures, who else will lend NJ residents a sympathetic voice, maintain a free online historical archive to thwart denialists, or offer a viable forum that serves NJ interests? Nobody, that’s who. Support the last man standing.

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

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

ENDS

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

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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.

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:

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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.”

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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

Tangent: NYT Op-Ed: Foreigners Are Attacking … American TV, within US TV programs. Contrast with Japan.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  In my previous blog entry, I mentioned the disenfranchisement of foreigners from Japanese media, and my upcoming book (out in November) will discuss further the effects of that in terms of tolerance of difference and counteracting public defamation.  As a Debito.org Tangent, let’s contrast this with the degree of access that foreigners in America have to influence the domestic narrative and talking points.  I don’t know how unusual this is on a country-to-country scale (Debito.org Readers are welcome to mention the foreign anchors/pundits holding court outside the US and Japan), but given the influence that American media has worldwide, this is not a small matter.  The NYT does a survey below.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Foreigners Are Attacking … American TV!
By VIKAS BAJAJ New York Times MARCH 30, 2015
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/31/opinion/foreigners-are-attacking-american-tv.html

American late-night television shows have probably never had so many anchors with foreign accents as they will have soon. Trevor Noah, a South African comedian, will become at least the third non-American native to host a popular TV comedy show later this year when he takes over “The Daily Show” from Jon Stewart. He will join two Britons, John Oliver of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” and James Corden, who recently started hosting “The Late Late Show” on CBS.

Mr. Noah is an unconventional choice to host a show on American television, which has had plenty of British actors and comedians over the years. He was born to a black Xhosa mother and a white Swiss father and is from a country where mixed race unions are still uncommon. And, perhaps most important, many Americans have never heard or seen him perform.

But Mr. Noah’s foreignness might be just what the “The Daily Show” and American television broadly need. It is hard to remember now, but when Mr. Stewart took over the show and later spun off “The Colbert Report,” fake news was not a big part of our comedy diet. Yes, there was the Weekend Update segment on “Saturday Night Live,” but it came on just once a week and did not always deliver the goods.

Maybe what we really need now is to have foreigners apply their brand of satire to the United States — its politics, culture and race relations — to tell us something about ourselves that our homegrown comedians are not capturing. And they can perhaps also enlighten us about what’s funny and tragic in the rest of the world as Mr. Oliver has done ably on his show. Aside from a few jokes about Europe, most late-night shows rarely dwell on international subjects.

Still, Mr. Noah’s appointment has disappointed some fans of “The Daily Show” who had hoped that Comedy Central would pick a woman like Samantha Bee, who is leaving the show to start her own satirical program on TBS. It is disappointing that none of the several late-night shows on the air now are hosted by a woman. Perhaps, Ms. Bee will so successfully shatter that glass ceiling that the executives at other networks will seek out more women to be hosts.

There will probably also be criticism from some quarters that Mr. Noah, Mr. Oliver and Mr. Corden represent a foreign invasion of television that is depriving hard-working American comedians of important jobs. Just last week, a columnist for Deadline.com suggested that some deserving white actors were not getting roles on new TV shows because the industry was designating many more characters as reserved for nonwhite actors.

I for one am looking forward to Mr. Noah’s stint in the anchor chair. I found his three appearances on “The Daily Show” to be funny in a unique way — watch him explain why it was bad for the United States to try to lure top chess players away from other countries. And I laughed at clips of his standup act in which he mimics the odd speaking style of President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. I hope he is just as unsparing to our politicians.

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

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

My Japan Times JBC Column 86 April 6, 2015: “Japan makes more sense through a religious lens”

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.  Thank you for putting this up at the #1 spot at the Japan Times Online for two days in a row.  Debito
justbecauseicon.jpg

//////////////////////////////////////
JAPAN MAKES MORE SENSE THROUGH A RELIGIOUS LENS
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
Column 86 for the Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Community Page
April 6, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/04/05/issues/viewed-religious-lens-japan-makes-sense/

Ever noticed how Japan — and in particular, its ruling elite — keeps getting away with astonishing bigotry?

Recently Ayako Sono, a former adviser of the current Shinzo Abe government, sang the praises of a segregated South Africa, effectively advocating a system where people would live separately by race in Japan (a “Japartheid,” if you will). But that’s just the latest stitch in a rich tapestry of offensive remarks.

Remember former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s claim that “old women who live after losing their reproductive function are useless and committing a sin,” or his attribution of Chinese criminality to “ethnic DNA” (both 2001)? Or former Prime Minister Taro Aso admiring Nazi subterfuge in changing Germany’s prewar constitution (2013), and arguing that Western diplomats cannot solve problems in the Middle East because of their “blue eyes and blond hair” — not to mention advocating policies to attract “rich Jews” to Japan (both 2001)? Or then-Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone declaring Japan to be “an intelligent society” because it was “monoracial,” without the “blacks, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans” that dragged down America’s average level of education (1986)?

Although their statements invited international and domestic protest, none of these people were drummed out of office or even exiled to the political wilderness. Why? Because people keep passing off such behavior as symptomatic of “weird, quirky Japan,” i.e., “They say these things because they are Japanese — trapped in uniquely insular mentalities after a long self-imposed isolation.”

Such excuses sound lame and belittling when you consider that it’s been 160 years since Japan ended its isolation, during which time it has successfully copied contemporary methods of getting rich, waging war and integrating into the global market.

This treatment also goes beyond the blind-eyeing usually accorded to allies due to geopolitical realpolitik. In the past, analysts have gone so gaga over the country’s putative uniqueness that they have claimed Japan is an exception from worldwide socioeconomic factors including racism, postcolonial critique and (until the bubble era ended) even basic economic theory!

So why does Japan keep getting a free pass? Perhaps it’s time to start looking at “Japaneseness” through a different lens: as a religion. It’s more insightful.

A comprehensive but concise definition of “religion” is “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.”

Japaneseness qualifies. A set of beliefs ordering the “Japanese universe” is available at your nearest big bookstore, where shelves groan under the wiki-composite pseudoscience of Nihonjinron (the “Theory of The Japanese”), a lucrative market for navel-gazing about what Japanese allegedly think or do uniquely and collectively.

Japan also has its own creation myth grounded in mystical immortals (the goddess Amaterasu et al), with enough currency that a sitting prime minister, Yoshiro Mori, once publicly claimed Japan was “a nation of deities (kami no kuni) with the Emperor at its center,” in which Japanese have seen “beings above and beyond humankind” (2000). Seen in this way, Japan transcends the mere nation-state to become something akin to a holy land.

Devotional and ritual observances involve not only an imported and adapted foreign religion (Buddhism) hybridized with an established state religion (Shinto), but also elements of animism and ancestor worship whose observances regularly reach down to the level of the neighborhood (o-mikoshi festival portable shrines) and even the household (butsudan shrines).

As for a moral code governing conduct, Japanese media offer plenty of ascriptive programming (e.g., NHK’s popular quiz show “Nihonjin no Shitsumon” or “Questions The Japanese Ask” — as if that’s a discernible genre). They broadcast an unproblematized uniformity of “Japanese” thought, belief and morality generally offset from the remainder of the heterodox world.

Thus this religion-like phenomenon, because of the knock-on effects of vague mysticism and faith, goes beyond regular nationalism.

For one thing, unlike nationalism, religion doesn’t necessarily need another country to contrast and compete with — Japanese are sui generis special because they are a family descended from gods. For another, nationality can be obtained through law, but bloodline descent cannot — and blood is what makes someone a “real” Japanese. Further, how can you ever offer a counter-narrative to a myth? (For a national narrative, you can offer a different historical interpretation of mortals and events; it’s far tougher to argue different gods.)


These dynamics have been covered in much literature elsewhere — in fact, they are depicted positively by the Nihonjinron high priests themselves — but few people consider three other effects of religiosity.

First, there’s religion’s enhanced political power in prescribing and enforcing conformity. If media uncritically establish how “normal Japanese” act, then deviant thoughts and behaviors not only become “unusual” but also “un-Japanese.” It’s not a big leap from the “science” of what people naturally do as Japanese to the science of what to do in order to be Japanese. There is an orthodoxy to be followed, or else.

This dynamic also robs dissidents of the power to use reason to adjust society’s course. Instead of social mores being codified in the rule of law or grounded in terms of concrete “rights, privileges and duties” of a nation-state, they are molded case by case to suit an alleged “consensus feeling” of an abstract group, sending signals through the media or just through “the air” (which people are supposed to “read”: kūki o yomu).

How can one reason with or argue against an amorphous “understanding” of things, or summon enough energy to push against an invisible enfranchised opponent? Easier all around to fall back on the default shikata ga nai (“There’s nothing I can do”) attitude, meaning Japanese will police each other into acceptance of the status quo.

The second effect of this phenomenon is the corruption of social science. The broad-stroke categorization inherent to “groupism” normalizes the pigeonholing of peoples. In Japan, this has reached the point where influential people openly espouse fallacious theories, such as that eye color affects vision qualityblood type affectspersonality and race/country of origin/gender influence intellectual ability or talent (e.g., “Indians are good programmers,” “Jews are rich,” “Chinese have criminal DNA”).

Although stereotypes exist in every society, in Japan they underpin and blinker most social science. In fact, learning the stereotypes is the science.

The third effect is religion’s enhanced rhetorical power, and this projects influence beyond Japan’s borders.

If Japan’s behavior was merely seen as a matter of nationalism, then things could be explained away in terms of furthering national interests under rational-actor theory. But they’re not. Again, “quirky” Japanese get away with weird stuff like bigotry because they are treated with the deference traditionally accorded to a religion.

Scholar Richard Dawkins put it best: “A widespread assumption . . . is that religious faith is especially vulnerable to offence and should be protected by an abnormally thick wall of respect.”

Author Douglas Adams expounds on this idea: “Religion . . . has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means is, ‘Here is an idea or a notion you’re not allowed to say anything bad about. You’re just not.’

“If somebody votes for a party that you don’t agree with, you’re free to argue about it as much as you like. . . . But on the other hand if somebody says, ‘I mustn’t move a light switch on a Saturday,’ you say, ‘I respect that.’ ”

Likewise, you must respect Japan, and woe betide you if you criticize it. Decry even the most egregious bad behavior, such as the whitewashing of an exploitative empire’s history into an exculpated victimhood, and you will be branded “anti-Japan,” a “Japan-hater” or “Japan-basher” by the reactionary cloud of anonyms that so dominate Japan’s Internet.

This trolling wouldn’t matter if that cloud was ignored for what it is — a bunch of anonymous craven cranks — but otherwise sensible people steeped (or academically trained) in Japan’s mysticism tend to take these disembodied opinions from the air seriously. Instead, the critic loses credibility and, in extreme cases, even their livelihood for not toeing the line. Japan is sensitive, and you’re not allowed to say anything bad about it. You’re just not.

This is one reason why even the most scientifically trained among us is ready, for example, to take seriously the comment of a single native-born Japanese (rather than trust qualified Japan experts who unfortunately lack the mystical bloodline) as some kind of evidence in any discussion on Japan. Every Japanese by blood and dint of being raised in the temple of Japanese society is reflexively accorded the right to represent all Japan. It’s respectful, but it also blunts analysis by keeping discussion of Japan within temple control.

So, whenever Japan makes mystical arguments — about, say, longer intestines, special soil and snow or the country’s unique climate — for political ends (to justify banning imports of beef, construction equipment, skis, rice, etc.), skittish outsiders tend to be deferential to the nonsense because of Japan’s “uniqueness” and respectfully ease off the pressure.

Or when Japan’s rulers coddle war-mongering rightists (who also advocate Japan’s mysticism) and sanction pacifist leftists (who more likely see religion as a mass opiate), relax — that’s just how Japan maintains its unique social order.

And if that social order is ever questioned, especially by any Japanese, that is treated as heresy or apostasy, drawing the threat of reprisal — if not violence — from zealots. After all, you do not question faith — or it would no longer be faith. You just don’t.

In sum, seeing Japaneseness through the prism of religion helps explain better why the world accommodates Japan egregiously excepting and offsetting itself. It may be time to abandon simple political theory (seeing Japan’s polity in terms of rational actors with occasional inexplicable irrationalities) in favor of the sociology of religious cults.

Specifically, this would mean studying Japan’s cult of personalities, i.e., the way a ruling elite is resurrecting mysticism and exploiting the reflexive deference usually reserved for religion to game the system. This is especially important now, as Japan’s rulers indulge in belligerent behavior — historical revisionism, remilitarization and so on — that’s helping destabilize the region.

This column was a seminal attempt to make that case. Discuss, if you dare.

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

Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Monday of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

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

Yomiuri: GOJ sky-pie policy proposes to deal with rural population decrease with resettlement info websites, and robots!

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Getting back to issues of Japan’s future, here is the GOJ once again last August offering another trial-balloon half-measure to reverse Japan’s population decline (especially in its rural areas):  A database!  And robots!

Of course, the Yomiuri diligently types it down and offers it up uncritically, with the typical pride of showing off “Japan’s stuff”.  The policy assumption is that if you offer people information, they’ll magically want to move out to the countryside — up to now they were just chary because they didn’t know where they could get an onigiri in Nakamura-son, Inaka-Ken.

That’s unrealistic.  It’s not a matter of lack of information.  It’s a matter of lack of economic opportunity for Japan’s largely white-collar labor force (the “potential migrants” being mentioned, of course, are Japanese) being offered out in The Boonies.  Hasn’t the GOJ gotten the memo yet after more than a quarter century of Japanese turning their noses away from 3K blue-collar work?  Not to mention the inevitable “Taro-come-lately” outsider treatment from the locals that greets many Japanese urbanites deciding to move out of the cities?  Fact is, Japan’s ruralities are even giving their land away for free, and it’s not stemming the exodus from.

No matter:  Just build it and they’ll come.  Hasn’t the GOJ learned anything from the Bubble Era?

Moreover, how about that other proposal below of introducing more robots in service areas to produce the 3K stuff?

Laced within that Industrial Policy is an appeal to national pride, as in Japan’s future as a world leader in robot use (without the actual substance of practicality behind it).  Ooh, our robots can produce bentos?  Can yours, France?  Then what: build robots to consume what robots produce?  No matter what, offering robots as replacements for humans in the labor market inevitably overlooks how this does nothing to revitalize Japan’s taxpayer base, because ROBOTS DO NOT PAY TAXES.

There is another option, the unmentionable:  Immigrants assuming the mantle of Japan’s farming economy and rural maintenance.  No, you see, that would be a security risk.  Too high a local foreign population would mean those areas might secede from Japan!  (Seriously, that is the argument made.)

Anyway, another pavement stone in the road to policy failure.  As we start a new year, I’d just mention it for the record.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Japan in Depth / Govt tackles population decline
The Yomiuri Shimbun
August 26, 2014, courtesy of Peach
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001522944

Migration info database eyed

In an effort to address population declines in provincial areas, the government plans to create a database to provide people thinking of moving from urban to regional areas with information about potential destinations, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The government hopes to encourage more urbanites to move to regional areas by making it possible for them to extensively search for information on such issues as residency and welfare services anywhere in the country, according to informed sources.

Expenses to set up the database reportedly will be included in the fiscal 2015 budgetary request.

Using the database, potential migrants would be able to quickly obtain information on workplaces and job offers; schools and education; medical institutions and social welfare services; and shopping, the sources said.

Information provided directly from regional areas will be input into the database by Hello Work job placement offices and other entities, as well as by municipal governments trying to encourage urbanites to take up residency in their cities.

Municipalities facing serious population declines have individually offered information about job offers as well as available accommodation. The planned database will enable people thinking about moving to regional areas to view this information collectively, the sources said.

For example, if a resident of an urban community is considering a move to a prefecture in the Tohoku region, the database could be used to find areas meeting their needs by comparing information, such as what kind of jobs are available or the locations of schools.

Along with the database, the central government reportedly plans to establish offices to help people living in large cities move to provincial areas. The government hopes potential migrants will consult with counselors or obtain more detailed information at the offices, the sources said.

Among people interested in moving to regional areas, some are believed to be hesitant about making the move because of a lack of information about life outside major urban areas. The database is aimed at addressing that concern, they said.

More robots in service industry planned

The government plans to promote the development of robots for use in the service industry, such as at hotels and pubs, to cope with the industry’s worsening problems of labor shortages and heavy workloads, according to sources.

In September, the government is expected to establish a panel dubbed the “committee for the realization of the robot revolution,” which will comprise manufacturers and users of robots, and plans to subsidize programs judged to have bright prospects.

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry intends to include ¥5 billion in its budgetary requests for fiscal 2015 for robot development and related projects.

The government envisages robots for such jobs as cleaning the stairs and bathrooms of hotels and changing bed sheets. It is also considering developing robots for use at factories, such as robots that pack bento boxes. The plan is to have such robots on the market within three years, the sources said.

The utilization of robots in the service industry has been lagging behind the manufacturing industry, as robot makers have made development for the manufacturing industry a higher priority because of higher prices.

Even so, some robots are already in use in the service industry. For example, some Japanese-style inns have introduced a robot capable of automatically delivering a large amount of meals near guestrooms, which has helped improve the efficiency of the inns’ services.

The government believes the widespread use of robots could dramatically reduce the burden of service industry workers.

It has set a goal of expanding the market size of robots for the nonmanufacturing sector, such as the service industry, to ¥1.2 trillion in 2020—about 20 times larger than that in 2012. The development of robots in nursing care and agriculture is progressing, so the government is aiming to expand robot development to other industries so Japan can lead the world in the utilization of robots.

ENDS

Japan Times: Japan’s “Omotenashi” (“selfless hospitality”) not in tune with what visitors want, NJ expert warns

mytest

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Hello Blog.  Let’s start 2015 with a discussion about Japan’s tourism policy and some of the memes within.  Submitter JDG offers these thoughts about a recent Japan Times article:

===================================
JDG: Hello Dr. Debito, First of all, a happy new year to you. I wondered if you had chanced upon this article in the JT:
Now boastful Japan not really in tune with what visitors want, foreign expert warns | The Japan Times
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/25/national/now-boastful-japan-really-tune-visitors-want-foreign-expert-warns/

It’s really interesting, since it was written about a guy who has no connection (AFAIK) to the debate about NJ human rights, and is not a scholar of Japan. However, he has independently reached a conclusion that you yourself have expressed several times on Debito.org; Japanese deciding amongst themselves what NJ want/need/have difficulty with, is a sign of cultural arrogance aimed at controlling NJ.

I think this is important external reinforcement of your point of view. It shows that you are not alone and paranoid (as the apologists always try to portray you), but rather shows that in a totally different field of expertise, another observer has witnessed the same phenomena as you.

There are many interesting points that he raises, and I agree with him, but the main takeaway from the article is that the concept of ‘omotenashi’ is being used as a system of control over NJ in Japan (and we know how much the Japanese establishment believes that NJ need to be controlled), whilst at the same time serving a very racist nihonjinrongiron function of reassuring the Japanese themselves that they are unique and superior to NJ. Nice win for your logic. Sincerely, JDG.

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

Let me open this up to discussion on Debito.org. Article excerpt first. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

NATIONAL
Now boastful Japan not really in tune with what visitors want, foreign expert warns
BY SHUSUKE MURAI, STAFF WRITER, THE JAPAN TIMES, DEC 25, 2014

Japan’s self-professed “omotenashi” (spirit of selfless hospitality) is often misinterpreted to force predetermined services on foreign visitors, says one longtime observer.

Cultural services expert David Atkinson, 49, says the nation’s confidence in what it offers the world is misplaced: Many foreigners who visit leave unfulfilled…

Atkinson says it is troubling to see Japanese increasingly lauding their own culture and that the trend could even become an obstacle to the government’s goal of getting 30 million tourists to visit annually by 2030…

“Originally, omotenashi means leaving the choices to the guests, not forcing foreigners with a different set of values to behave the way Japanese people expect,” he said.

Omotenashi became a buzzword in August 2013, when television celebrity Christel Takigawa used the term during Tokyo’s final presentation to the International Olympic Committee’s general assembly in Argentina for permission to host the 2020 Olympics…

Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/25/national/now-boastful-japan-really-tune-visitors-want-foreign-expert-warns/

ENDS

My Japan Times JBC Column 82: “Time to Burst your Bubble and Face Reality”, December 4, 2014

mytest

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Hi Blog. I want to say thank you to everyone who read this and made it the the #1 most-read article at the JT Online for two days, and again for a number of days later!  Dr ARUDOU, Debito:

justbecauseicon.jpg
TIME TO BURST YOUR BUBBLE AND FACE REALITY

By Debito Arudou
JBC 82 for the Japan Times Community Page
December 4, 2014

Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/12/03/issues/time-burst-bubble-face-reality/

I want to open by saying: Look, I get it.

I get why many people (particularly the native speakers of English, who are probably the majority of readers here) come to Japan and stay on.

After all, the incentives are so clear at the beginning. Right away, you were bedazzled by all the novelty, the differences, the services, the cleanliness, the safety and relative calm of a society so predicated on order. You might even have believed that people are governed by quaint and long-lamented things like “honor” and “duty.”

Not that the duties and sacrifices necessary to maintain this order necessarily applied to you as a non-Japanese (NJ). As an honored guest, you were excepted. If you went through the motions at work like everyone else, and clowned around for bonus points (after all, injecting genki into stuffy surroundings often seemed to be expected of you), you got paid enough to make rent plus party hearty (not to mention find many curious groupies to bed — if you happened to be male, that is).

Admit it: The majority of you stayed on because you were anesthetized by sex, booze, easy money and the freedom to live outside both the boxes you were brought up in and the boxes Japanese people slot themselves in.

But these incentives are front-loaded. For as a young, genki, even geeky person finding more fun here than anywhere ever, you basked in the flattery. For example, you only needed to say a few words in Japanese to be bathed in praise for your astounding language abilities! People treated you like some kind of celebrity, and you got away with so much.

Mind you, this does not last forever. Japan is a land of bubbles, be it the famous economic one that burst back in 1991 and led two generations into disillusionment, or the bubble world that you eventually constructed to delude yourself that you control your life in Japan.

You don’t. Unless you marry an elite whose family funds your whims, you’ll discover that as you get older, opportunities narrow and doors close.

The first major life stage might be getting married — so easy to do here. Then you’d better lose the Peter Pan lifestyle and find a way to support your sudden kids. Or you’ll never see them again after the divorce.

Then you finally land that steady job that might lead to a career. But it’s hard enough nowadays for Japanese in their 20s and 30s to land secure employment (let alone climb the corporate ladder), so why should Johnny Foreigner cut in? Even if you manage to, people often assume tokenism and don’t take you seriously. The bamboo ceiling is pretty impenetrable.

But what about your trusty Genki Gaijin shtick? You’ll look jolly silly doing it as a geriatric, playing the perpetual dancing monkey, never the organ grinder.

Finally, as is true for everyone in Japan, the older you get, the less wriggle room you have in your career. Good luck comfortably changing jobs in your 40s or 50s. Most of the influential and reasonably self-actualized people in Japan are elites who spent their lives marrying into connections and cultivating Old-Boy networks, awaiting the right time to be catapulted into the next generation of leaders. NJ OBs in powerful positions? Unlikely.

Part of that is by design: Enough NJ live the life of Riley and assume the future will take care of itself. After all, for their fellow unambitious and unobtrusive Japanese corporate drones, it will; except that they will likely live a pre-designed, boring and “normal” workaday life taken care of by the state.

But for NJ, given the recent court decision about their welfare benefits, the perpetual weakness of their contract employment, and employers not paying into their pension systems with impunity, a “normal” career is not at all guaranteed. NJ have to be vigilant at an age when everyone else seems to be partying.

Another part is the shocking realization in many NJ (especially in those brought over during the 1980s Golden Age of Kokusaika (“internationalization”) who are now reaching late middle age and retirement) that they were working under a delusion: They were never seen as a colleague in the workplace. More as a pet.

This became evident as younger Japanese co-workers, who had less qualifications, time or experience in the company, got promoted over them. After all, what self-respecting Japanese wants some NJ as their senpai (senior) in the workplace? Suddenly, despite following all the rules, NJ didn’t get the same rewards.

So, after a quarter-century in Japan, I get it. And here’s what you oughta get by now:

If NJ don’t do something outside the bubble they’ve lived in so far, they might end up as some anonymous dead gaijin on a gurney, unremembered and unmourned, merely cremated and disposed of by authorities unsure of your next of kin. I’ve seen it happen — an accelerating number of times.

Why? Parables such as the one about “boiled frogs” come to mind (i.e., the frog who never noticed the temperature of the water around him rising until it was too late to jump out), but more insightful is what Pierre Bourdieu called the “illusio,” i.e., the belief that the great lifetime “game” we all agree to play is worth playing, and the fiction we collectively choose to follow is reality.

The fiction we have been accepting as reality is: Japan will treat NJ equally as long as they play the game by Japanese rules. This shows a sore lack of self-reflection about the NJ’s place in Japanese society, where those rules are stacked against them properly assimilating. It’s not because NJ always elect to be treated like guests. Guest treatment is in fact the default.

For example, have you ever noticed how difficult it is for NJ to become established in Japan’s essential, respected and licensed jobs — e.g., as doctors (and nurses), lawyers, engineers, administrative-level bureaucrats, etc.? Instead, where are they consigned? Factories, education, tenuous entrepreneurship, contracted tech, as nonadministrative corporate drones, and in entertainment. These jobs are basically fungible and expendable. And they are the default.

That’s why NJ must learn how to become “hosts.” By this I mean that they must offer Japan something that cannot be dismissed as a mere trifle or token effort.

That skill must be precious enough that NJ residents can choose to deny it to Japan, should they ever want to reclaim their power, self-respect and dignity. The NJ who exclusively do what Japan needs, and who cannot be replaced with a Japanese substitute (for example, people acting as indisposable ambassadors of Japanese knowledge — e.g., Ed Reischauer, Donald Richie or Donald Keene), can hold their skills hostage and become secure, respected, even immortal.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but face reality: What do you have to offer Japan? I’m not asking if there is something you do well; I’m asking: After all these years, is there something that you can do that Japan positively cannot live without? If not, then Japan can easily live without you, and you could be headed for the gurney.

No doubt people will decry this column. Look, I “get” that too, for it’s a natural part of illusio maintenance. People trapped in their bubbles will fight to their last breath to avoid having them burst. Facing the reality of their perpetual second-class caste status would force them to admit that they made a mistake by submitting to Japan’s default subordination processes — that they traded their entire life for something that they ultimately found no stake in.

Criticize away if that makes you feel better. It’s more comforting to play the game and party on. For now. But as your twilight years approach, you’ll look back in anger and wish you’d created a different bubble. Japan as an entire society does too, what with all this wasted human potential, as it fades into international irrelevance.

Debito Arudou’s “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan” is available on Amazon. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

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

Read the rest in the Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/12/03/issues/time-burst-bubble-face-reality/. And this will be the anchor site for the article, so comment both below and at the JT if you like. As always, thanks for reading! Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Ministry of Justice Bureau of Human Rights 2014 on raising public awareness of NJ human rights (full site scanned with analysis: it’s underwhelming business as usual)

mytest

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Hi Blog. I received this email from Debito.org Reader AM last March (sorry for taking so long to get to it):

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

March 3, 2014
AM:  Debito, I saw an internet banner ad on the asahi.com website that along with a cartoon figure, posed the question “gaikokujin no jinken mamotteru?” [Are you protecting the human rights of NJ?]

I thought I must have been seeing things, but clicking through I landed on a Japan Ministry of Justice page offering advice on how to protect the rights of non-Japanese.

http://www.moj.go.jp/JINKEN/jinken04_00101.html

It seems that this is a campaign is part of Japan’s push to ready the country for the 2020 Olympics, addressing issues such as ryokan denying service to non Japanese.

Definitely a nice change from the focus on hooliganism leading up to the World Cup in 2002.
====================================

COMMENT: I would agree. It’s much better to see Non-Japanese as people with rights than as rapacious and devious criminals who deserve no rights because, according to the Ministry of Justice’s own surveys, NJ aren’t as equally human as Japanese. And this is not the first antidiscrimination campaign by the Japanese Government, in the guise of the mostly-potemkin Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu, or BOHR) nominally assigned to protect human rights in Japan (which, as Debito.org has pointed out before, have put out some pretty biased and insensitive campaigns specifically regarding NJ residents in Japan). And did I mention the Japanese Government in general has a habit of portraying important international issues in very biased ways if there’s ever a chance of NJ anywhere getting equal treatment or having any alleged power over Japanese people? It’s rarely a level playing field or a fair fight in Japan’s debate arenas or awareness campaigns.

So now that it’s 2014, and another influential Olympics looms, how does the BOHR do this time? (And I bother with this periodic evaluation because the Japanese Government DOES watch what we do here at Debito.org, and makes modifications after sufficient embarrassments…) I’ll take screen captures of the whole site, since they have a habit of disappearing after appearing here.  Here’s the top page:

MOJBOHR2014001

ANALYSIS: The first page opens nicely with the typically-gentle grade-school register of slogan entreaty (nakayoku shimashou or “let’s all be nice to one another, everyone”), with “Let’s respect the human rights of foreigners” (entreaty is all they CAN do, since they’re not in a position to demand compliance when racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan).  It  includes their image-characters Jinken Mamoru-Kun and Jinken Ayumi-Chan.

But then it immediately veers into “guestism” territory by citing the long-range statistic of a record 11,250,000 NJ entering (nyuukoku) “our country” (wagakuni) Japan.  It’s not a matter of considering the rights of the 2 million NJ already here as residents as part of wagakuni — it’s a matter of treating all “entrants” with respect due to their obvious and automatic “differences” we’ll conveniently list off for you (language, religion, culture, customs, etc.).  They are being denied apartments, entrance into bathhouses (thanks!), and barbershops.  Also mentioned are hate-speech demos against “certain nationalities” (yes, the Zainichi Koreans).  Then comes mention of the Tokyo Summer Olympics 2020, and how there will be even more chances to come into contact with NJ.  That’s why the MOJ’s BOHR is insisting that we “respect” (sonchou) the human right of foreigners, raise awareness, and take on “enlightenment activities” (keihatsu katsudou — because, again, that’s all the BOHR can do because it has no policing or punitive powers) to help “the citizens” (kokumin — not the “residents”, which would include NJ) rid society of the prejudices and discrimination, and understand and respect foreigners’ livestyle customs (seikatsu shuukan).

Ready for more official “othering” of the people we’re ostensibly trying to protect?  Next bit, a 2012 Cabinet research survey:

MOJBOHR2014002

ANALYSIS:  According to this survey, they asked Japanese citizens only (not the NJ themselves) what they thought were the types of human-rights problems NJ face in Japan.  The two top responses were “not having their differing customs and habits accepted by society” (34.8%) exactly tied with “NJ don’t face any special problems/I don’t know“! (Not a surprising outcome if you’re not the people being discriminated against; it’s like asking the foxes about what problems they think the chickens have.)  The other issues mentioned are disadvantages faced at work or finding work (25.9%), finding apartments (a real doozy of a problem, yet only 24.9%), being stared at or avoided (15.9%), facing discriminatory behavior (15%), being bullied at school or the workplace (12.9%), facing opposition for getting married (12.5%), and being refused entry to hotels and shops (6.3%).

Which means that in this survey, where the questions are not open-ended, that out of all these preset options conveniently provided for the surveyed (see Q12, none of which mention racial discrimination, natch) with multiple answers possible, a full third of all votes went to “I don’t see/don’t know any problem.”  That’s pretty widespread ignorance, especially since this is the only question about discrimination in this survey that CANNOT be asked of the discriminatees.

The next section in the above screen capture talks about what services have been offered to NJ who claim they’ve had their human rights violated.  First example is of a BOHR investigation conducted for a claimant (who was refused entry into a barbershop), and how it was ascertained that he was indeed refused, and how the BOHR “explained” (setsuji) to the store manager that he should improve how he offers his barbering services.  The end.

The next example leads into the next screen capture:

MOJBOHR2014003

The next case is of a ryokan hotel refusing a foreigner entry when he was making a reservation over the internet.  After investigation, the ryokan managment said they’d had the experience of some foreigner who did not speak Japanese [as if that is somehow relevant] who walked off with hotel goods.  The BOHR again “explained” to the management that being NJ was not grounds for refusal under the Hotel Management Law, that this act was discriminatory behavior, and that they did not accept this explanation as a rational reason for refusal.  Again, the end.  Your hardworking taxes in action.

Next up, some more tax outlay for “enlightening” posters and events (screen captures above and below):

MOJBOHR2014004

It’s again of the “entreaty genre” in register, with the confused Jinken kids saying “it’s important to understand each other”, “What are violations of human rights towards foreigners?” and “Could you be discriminating against foreigners?” (Love the presumption of innocence for Japanese readers, which NJ, when officially portrayed as illegal workers, criminals, terrorists, and carriers of contagious diseases, don’t get.)  And finally:

MOJBOHR2014005

We have some more links to BOHR services, enlightenment videos, Cabinet announcements re stopping exclusionism towards “certain nationalities”, and a nice-looking soft-pastel November 15, 2014 symposium in Osaka entitled “Foreigners and human rights:  Acknowledge the differences, and live together”.  Sorry I missed it.  Featured is is a “Talk Show” by Todai literature professor and radio personality Dr. Robert Campbell, and a panel discussion with only one NJ on board (Alberto Matsumoto, a Nikkei of Argentine extraction who runs an ideas shop):

MOJBOHR2014006

CONCLUSION:  Again, much talk about NJ and their lives here with minimized involvement of the NJ themselves.  As my friend noted, it’s better this than having NJ openly denigrated or treated as a social threat.  However, having them being treated as visitors, or as animals that need pacifying through Wajin interlocutors, is not exactly what I’d call terribly progressive steps, or even good social science.  But that’s what the BOHR, as I mentioned above, keeps doing year after year, and it keeps their line items funded and their underwhelming claims of progressive action to the United Nations (see here, word search for “Legal Affairs Bureau”) window-dressed.  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

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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

2014 MOFA pamphlet explaining Hague Treaty on Child Abductions to J citizens (full text with synopsis, including child-beating NJ father on cover & victimized J mothers throughout) UPDATE: With link to MOFA pdf and official E translation

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Hello Blog.  Japan, after years of pressure from overseas, is now a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, where children of international marriages are to be protected against psychologically-damaging abductions and severed contact with one parent after marriage dissolution and divorce.  Debito.org has covered this issue extensively in the past.  What matters now is how Japan intends to enforce the treaty.  Debito.org has argued that we are not hopeful about Japan following the spirit of the agreement in good faith.  It has been reinterpreting sections with caveats to give the Japanese side undue advantages in negotiations, indirectly portraying the Non Japanese (NJ) party as the suspicious interloper, redefining important issues such as domestic violence (DV) to include heated arguments and “silent stares” etc., refusing to see abductions by the Japanese parent as much more than a natural repatriation, and not being self-aware that in Japan, child abduction and severed contact with one parent is quite normal (due in part to the vagaries of the Family Registration System (koseki)), but not necessarily in the best interests of the child.  Japan has been, in short, a haven for international child abductions, and how the GOJ will interpret the Hague to its people is crucial for change in public mindsets and enforcement.

To that end, Debito.org is fortunate to have received a copy from a concerned reader of a 2014 Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Gaimushou) pamphlet explaining the Hague to the Japanese public.  Scanned below in full, within its discourse are troubling assumptions and presumptions that bear scrutiny and exposure, as they remain along the lines of the concerns expressed above.  If this is Japan’s official mindset towards international child abductions, then Debito.org remains pessimistic, if not cynical, about Japan’s intentions to enforce the Hague in good faith.  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)

From the Japanese Consulate in Hong Kong, courtesy of XY.
(click on any image to expand in browser)
p1
This is the cover image, with a father about to explain the Hague to his curious son, and look what makes the first impressions:  The J mother sobbing as the NJ parent whisks their child from her grasp.  The child being stared at and not fitting in with her big-nosed NJ classmates (Japanese rarely have much of a nose in Japan’s international illustrations; it’s a style, but it makes it seem as if NJ are never Asian; never mind).  The J father being nabbed by the police regarding his kid.  The J mother short of money when thinking of her daughter.  And, of course, the obligatory drawing of the physically-abusive NJ parent with the child longing for her J mother.  The point is, the J mother is in most situations the one being victimized.

p2
The first page already has a case of the cutes (even though, since this book has no furigana over the kanji, it’s a manual directed towards adults, not children), with a J father explaining to his son suddenly overwhelming him with questions (after complimenting him on his interest in the news) about how, as of April 1 2014, Japan has to follow the Hague regarding the “tsuresari” (“accompanying and disappearing”, not the more hot-button term “rachi” used for “abductions” when it’s Japanese being abducted to North Korea) of children.  After making a deal with him to eat all his dinner before hearing more, we have a prototypical J=NJ union couched as between a Japanese and a Gaijin (even though most international marriages in Japan are overwhelmingly between Japanese and Asians): the NJ male makes off with the child, the child has trouble fitting in overseas due to language and environmental difficulties, and the child is happily returned to the J mother’s arms thanks to the glad hands of the Hague Treaty thinking of the best interests of the child.  By the end of the page, the son is already shuddering to think what it might be like to live in a foreign country, what with no friends in school and all that.

p3
Next page has more explanation about what will change under the Hague.  The first point is that Japan had no standing to have children returned if they were abducted.  The poor victimized J-mother had to find her child with no help (apparently by showing a photo to taller Gaijin strangers giving her the cold shoulder), and even had to go to court to ask for custody (in a place with different laws and culture!).  How terrible, the child notes, for the parent to suddenly have to go to a big country and look for a little child.  Of course, then the converse is depicted to be true (but without the sobbing child pining for his NJ dad as the J mom takes her back to Japan — in fact, more alarm from the child that he can’t return to Japan), with consequent difficulties in seeing their child (NB:  Nowhere mentioned is the fact that joint custody and visitation is guaranteed in some of these overseas places with the dreaded “different laws and cultures”, but not in Japan.)  And what about the case where the divorce takes place overseas and the J-mother wants to take the child back to Japan?  The courts will deny the mother the ability to leave!  (“What, you can’t go home to your country of birth??” proclaims the ever more-startled son at the end.  Even though that exit denial didn’t happen, for example, in the Christopher Savoie Case, which is why the abduction of his children occurred.)  Conclusion:  Already the issue is portrayed in a lopsided manner, with the J-mother being the more victimized party overseas.

p4
Next page succumbs to an even more silly case of the cutes, not only with the katakana-accented NJ begging a J court for his child back, but also with an animated doll appearing as an interlocutor because Papa happens to be an anime otaku fetishist (rather unbecoming of a serious issue in a serious pamphlet issued by a national government).  Carrying on…  This section talks about how signing the treaty makes it so that either side can have their child returned, meaning this will stop courts from hindering parents from returning to their countries at will, because if problems arise, there is an apparatus where courts can return the child if necessary.   (NB:  Not mentioned is that there has not been a single recorded case in Japanese court where a Japanese child has been returned to a NJ parent’s habitual residence overseas, meaning there is no precedent that the apparatus will work on the Japanese side.)  It also will probably act as a means to preempt abductions, says the pamphlet.

p5
Then the pamphlet turns to a case of one of Papa’s friends (a J mother married to a NJ father) who abducted their child to Japan.  It went before a Japanese court, with the child standing at the mercy of the gavel, fate uncertain.  But just to make sure there is a lingering scare, the son expresses doubt as to the justice of a child being repatriated to a physically-abusive (!!) NJ father (where did THAT presumption come from?). Once again, the NJ father is being portrayed as potentially abusive, even though, naturally, abusive J (mothers or fathers) exist in Japan.

p6
Next page allays the fears of injustice, with a list of reasons why a child would not be forcibly returned thanks to the Hague (bonus image of the loving mother embracing a heart and saying that she will prioritize the protection of the child).  But — horrors — at the suggestion by the child that Papa’s friend shouldn’t have abducted the child and should have perhaps gone to court in America, Papa immediately kiboshes that by mentioning how American courts have a different culture, procedures, language barriers, and might even award custody of the child to a third party! (Again, no mention of the possibility of joint custody or guaranteed visitation rights enforced overseas, neither of which are permitted in Japan due to the koseki Family Registry system, aka “different culture”).  The nuance of this section becomes “it’s oh so complicated, no wonder Papa’s friend abducted their child”.  Conclusion of this page:  It would be awful if one parent couldn’t see their child (which is disingenuous coming from the GOJ because, as mentioned above in the introduction, child abductions without joint custody or visitation rights even between Japanese parents in Japan are quite normal).

p7
Suddenly, a sad fate befalls even this family, what with Papa being revealed as married to a French woman named Marie (who speaks normal Japanese; DV and broken Japanese seem to be the lot of the Western NJ male) who has run off to France with their boy.  Fortunately, thanks to the Hague, the GOJ can intervene, contact the French government, ascertain where she and their child is, get the authorities over there to mediate, get Papa to abandon his anime fetish (good thing he’s not a physically-abusive man; it’s just a harmless fetish, so nothing to fault the J man overmuch for as any serious grounds for divorce, right?), and get them all to make up and fly into the sunset back to Japan for a happy life ever after.

p8
Next page outlines the Hague procedures in three basic steps.  Of course, it’s all NJ men and J women (three different couples).  Visually, note the nuance of the child once again being more distressed to be leaving Japan with her father than going back to Japan with her mother.

p9
Next page lists the countries that are signatories to the Hague and the key points of it in bullet form.

p10
Next page gives the key points in Q&A format, first with what happened before Japan thankfully signed the Hague (abductions with impunity!), second with what to do if an abduction from Japan to a signatory country takes place, third with how long the Hague is in effect (until the child is aged 16), and fourth with a warning not to go abroad and reabduct your child back (you’ll be arrested; get a lawyer).

p11
The penultimate page gives more Q&A, with the obligatory 5) what to do in cases of DV (paste in NJ dad child abuse image again), or even the possibility of DV in the past (ko ni aku’eikyou o ataeru you na bouryoku), with a special section on page 5 above just in case you should want to use Japan’s increasingly grey and loose definitions of DV to get your child back; 6) getting J diplomats to help you out overseas; 7) getting a better understanding of the laws and Alternative Dispute Resolution using public resources.

p12

The pamphlet ends with the boy saying how he understands it all now, and the dad saying how nice it would be if more countries signed the Hague.  Quite.  But not the way it’s being interpreted here.

ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 79, on Japan’s Visible Minorities, Sept. 4, 2014 (version with links to sources)

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Hi Blog.  Thanks as always for reading, and for putting this column once again at #1 for two days at the Japan Times Online:

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

“VISIBLE MINORITIES” ARE BEING CAUGHT IN THE DRAGNET
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
Column 79 for the Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Community Page, September 4, 2014
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/09/03/issues/visible-minorities-caught-police-dragnet/
Version with links to sources, previous discussion on Debito.org about this issue here.

Around noon on Aug. 13, in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, a local apartment manager notified the police that a “suspicious foreigner” was hanging around the nearby JR train station.

Cops duly descended upon someone described by the Asahi as a “20-year-old male who came from the Philippines with a Japanese passport” (sic). [archived here if dead link]

When asked what he was doing, he said he was meeting friends. When asked his nationality, he mentioned his dual citizenship. Unfortunately, he carried no proof of that.

So far, nothing illegal here: Carrying ID at all times is not legally required for Japanese citizens.

But it is for foreigners. So the cops, convinced that he was really a foreigner, took him in for questioning — for five hours. Then they arrested him under the Immigration Control Act for, according to a Nikkei report, not carrying his passport, and interrogated him for another seven.

In the wee hours of Aug. 14, after ascertaining that his father is Japanese and mother foreign, he was released with verbal apologies. That hardly suffices. If any of you have ever undergone Japan’s “voluntary questioning” and/or 23 days of interrogation after arrest, you know how harrowing it can be.

And this isn’t the first instance.And this isn’t the first instance. On Feb. 25, 2006, a 28-year-old foreign-looking Japanese woman was arrested in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, for not carrying a foreign passport.

Grounds for suspicion? According to the Mainichi Shimbun, she was carrying an envelope with Portuguese writing on it. Unable to talk because she was reportedly “not good at speaking to strangers,” she was released when they finally contacted her family after more than a full day of interrogation.

Milder cases are more commonplace: The New York Times (July 8, 2010) featured the account of a Japanese writer-translator who had been pulled aside repeatedly by Tokyo police officers for being “too tall and dark-colored,” and had even been asked to show the contents of her purse.

I too have been stopped and asked the personal questions reserved only for criminal suspects (shokumu shitsumon) on numerous occasions, but fortunately talked my way out of getting arrested for being a Japanese without a “gaijin (alien registration) card.”

As The Japan Times has been chronicling for years, the people particularly vulnerable during Japan’s perennial mission to smoke out “illegal foreign visa overstayers” are those who “look foreign.” That leads us to the point of this piece: Japan desperately needs a new concept to account for Japanese who don’t look it. How about visible minorities?

This concept and term has gained currency in minority studies. For example, the Canadian government uses it when referring to the treatment of people who may not at first glance “look” like the majority population.

Of course, it’s tough to discuss minority issues in allegedly “homogeneous Japan.” Our government has long denied any domestic minorities exist (see www.debito.org/japanvsun.html) You still get the occasional politician doing so (such as a Sapporo city assemblyman on Aug. 11), despite Japan’s parliament formally recognizing the Ainu as one in 2008.

But that hasn’t deterred Japan scholars from studying the Ainu, as well as the Okinawans, the burakumin historical underclass, Zainichi Korean and Chinese generational foreigners, South American workers of Japanese descent, and the 2 million registered foreign residents.

Yet Japanese studies have generally overlooked how physical appearance plays a part in Japan’s racialization dynamics. Even recent work, such as Kyle Cleveland’s insightful chapter on ethnic minorities in the 2013 book “Critical Issues in Contemporary Japan,” does not mention physical appearance or skin color as an issue in discrimination. He describes minorities in Japan as “invisible.”

I disagree. And those detained for looking foreignly suspicious, singled out for bullying for being “half” or “gaijin” in schools, and denied entry to “Japanese only” establishments, might also.

Moreover, unlike other minorities, visible ones cannot “pass” as Japanese in terms of physical appearance, and thus face different forms of discrimination. Further, visible minorities also include Japanese citizens, bringing in issues of guaranteed equal protection under the law.

It also leads to the fundamental question of “What is a Japanese?” As my doctoral research demonstrated, “Japaneseness” is linked to physical appearance by Japan’s laws, law enforcement, public policy, jurisprudence and media messages. And as seen in the Ushiku, Tokyo, Sapporo and Saitama cases above, you have to “look Japanese” to be treated as such.

Overlooking the existence of Japan’s visible minorities must stop. Thousands of Japanese children have been born to international marriages. Thousands have naturalized. Nearly half of Japan’s entire registered non-Japanese population are permanent residents. Well over half of those again (the regular permanent residents, as opposed to the Zainichi) are people who came from overseas. There is enormous diversity that is being under-analyzed.

In fact, let’s go one step further: Permanent residents should claim their minority status themselves. After all, if you can stay here as a permanent part of a society, you can qualify as a minority. That includes the foreign scholars of minority issues, who despite decades living in and researching in Japan, don’t appear to consider themselves members of a minority.

That’s the big-picture stuff for this month. Now let’s turn to some concrete policy measures the government can take to reduce the chances of people getting wrongfully detained.

First, if the Japanese police must go gaijin hunting, then train them properly in immigration law.

Any Immigration Bureau official knows that: a) foreigners are not required to carry a passport at all times (that’s why gaijin cards exist) unless they are unregistered tourists; b) naturalized Japanese exist; and c) dual nationality is legally possible until the day you turn age 22 — and, in any case, it is not grounds for suspicion, detention or arrest.

The Ushiku police in particular should have known all this. Ushiku hosts one of Japan’s biggest foreigner prisons, the East Japan Immigration Control Center. Then again, conditions there are so harsh that detainees carried out hunger strikes and even committed suicide there in 2010. So maybe this is how Ushiku police are trained.

Law enforcement also needs to let go of the narrative that “foreigners are suspicious.” If some old crank busybody calls the cops on some kid waiting for his friends, officers should demand more grounds than just his or her “foreignness.”

But, above all, the authorities need to acknowledge Japan’s diversity by accepting the concept of visible minorities, and start making policies to protect the Japanese who cannot “pass.”

Once again, that means creating that Holy Grail of a racial discrimination law. However, we can start off small by officially depicting Japaneseness as a legal status, not a bloodline-determined mystical concept entwined with racial purity. Fat chance under the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, I know, but it must happen someday.

Ultimately, Japan’s visible minorities are the canary in the coal mine. How they are treated is a bellwether of how Japan will handle its inevitably increasing diversity. Otherwise, if you — or your kids — happen to be too tall, dark or scary, you had better start carrying your Japanese passport around.

==================================
Debito Arudou’s “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan” is available on Amazon as an ebook. For more details, see www.debito.org/handbook.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause usually appears in print on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments: community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

Yomiuri: TV shows to get foreign-language subtitles by 2020 for “foreign visitors” to Tokyo Olympics. Nice, but how about for NJ residents now?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s something a little less dramatic (but no less pesky and maybe even indicative of something unconscious) for a hot summer Sunday in Japan.  Article and comments courtesy of KM.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Hi Debito!  Here’s another indication that the government cares more about short-term visitors than about the foreigners who actually live here:

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

TV shows to get foreign-language subtitles by 2020
July 22, 2014, The Yomiuri Shimbun, courtesy of KM
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001439680

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry will develop a system to show Japanese TV programs with subtitles in foreign languages, including English and Chinese, to provide a more comfortable viewing experience for foreign visitors, according to sources.

In response to the increasing number of visitors from overseas, the envisaged system will be launched by 2020, the year in which the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held, the sources said.

Behind the ministry’s decision were requests from foreign visitors for more foreign-language subtitles for domestic TV programs. The envisaged system will be offered for news programs related to visitors’ safety and security during their stay, as well as variety shows.

A TV station broadcasts a program in the original Japanese, then the contents are automatically translated by a system to produce the foreign-language subtitles. Finally, the subtitles are sent to TV screens via the Internet.

The ministry will form a promotional organization comprising broadcasting stations, IT firms, electronics companies, research institutes and others by the year-end. The organization is expected to begin trials in fiscal 2015.

The ministry will encourage the communications and IT industries to take part in offering translation and subtitle distribution services for the system. The promotional organization will be tasked with studying how the cost of translation services and distributing the subtitles should be covered.

ENDS

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

KM:  I have a few thoughts about this:

  1. It probably would be nice to have more programing with English subtitles (and subtitles in other languages) but I’m a bit surprised that such a huge adjustment to daily programing in Japan would be made on behalf of those visiting short-term for the olympics. Of course, it would be open to anyone but the article (and a similar article in Japanese) makes it sound like the olympics and the comments of short-term visitors are primary motivations for the change.
  2. The article says that Japanese content will be “automatically translated by a system to produce the foreign-language subtitles.” Such subtitles might be intelligible for things like a weather forecast, but I can’t imagine them being of much use (except as something to laugh at — because of their poor quality) with variety programs.
  3. Instead of making a major adjustment like this to satisfy the whims of short-term visitors, perhaps the money to make this change could be spent to improve the quality of disaster information and disaster warning systems for people who actually live here.

 

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

Japanese:

テレビに外国語の字幕、五輪までに実現…総務省
2014年07月21日 読売新聞
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/it/20140721-OYT1T50025.html

総務省は、テレビのニュース番組などに英語や中国語など外国語の字幕が表示されるよう取り組む方針だ。

東京五輪・パラリンピックが開かれる2020年までに表示が始まるようにする。増加する訪日外国人が、より快適に過ごせる環境を整備する狙いだ。

日本を訪れた外国人から、テレビ番組に外国語の字幕を増やしてほしいとの声が出ており、滞在中の安心・安全にかかわるニュースのほか、バラエティー番組などで対応することにした。

字幕は、インターネットと接続するテレビに表示する。放送局が番組を電波で流し、自動翻訳システムで外国語に変換した字幕をネット経由で画面に映す仕組みを想定している。年内に放送局やIT企業、家電メーカー、研究機関などによる推進組織を設立し、15年度から実証実験を始める。

ENDS

Japan’s population tally in media still excludes NJ residents; plus J political misogyny and appeals to gaiatsu

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader JK offers the following links and commentary about two important subjects: 1) The unwillingness of Japan’s media to count NJ as “residents” in official population tallies (despite NJ inclusion on the juumin kihon daichou Resident Registry since 2012), and 2) the widespread misogyny in Japan’s policymaking arenas that has no recourse but to appeal to pressure from the outside world (gaiatsu) for assistance (as NJ minorities clearly also must do).

Speaking to the first point in particular (since it is more within Debito.org’s purview):  Before we even touch upon the lousy demographic science, how insulting for NJ once again to simply “not count” as part of Japan’s population.

Some J-articles have minced words by qualifying the ethnically-cleansed statistic as “the population of Japanese people” (nihonjin no jinkou).  But others (see the Nikkei below) simply render it as “Japan’s population” (nihon no jinkou).  When they eventually get around to mentioning that NJ are also here, they render them as “nihon ni taizai suru gaikokujin” (NJ “staying” in Japan, as opposed to zaijuu “residing”).  How immensely arrogant and unappreciative of all that NJ residents do for Japan!  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

JK:  Hi Debito.  Passing along some links regarding Japan’s ongoing population decline.  I’ll comment afterwards.

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

Population drops for fifth year as migration to cities continues
Yomiuri Shinbun, June 25, 2014
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001380919

Jiji Press:  Japan’s population on Jan. 1 of this year was down 0.19 percent from a year before at 126,434,964, falling for the fifth straight year, the internal affairs ministry said Wednesday.

The figure was calculated based on Japan’s resident registry network system and does not include foreign residents.

While the number of births in 2013 edged up 955 from the previous year to 1,030,388, the number of deaths reached a record high of 1,267,838.

As a result, the natural population decline, or the number by which deaths exceed births, stood at 237,450, the highest on record. Japan’s population marked a natural decline for the seventh consecutive year.

The number of foreign residents in Japan stood at 2,003,384 as of Jan. 1 this year, down 0.12 percent from a year earlier. Since July 2012, the resident registry network system has also handled foreign resident registration.

The population in Japan including foreign residents came to 128,438,348.

Of the total Japanese population, people aged under 15 accounted for 13.04 percent, down 0.09 percentage point, while the productive-age population, or people aged 15-64, was 61.98 percent, down 0.49 point.

The proportion of people aged 65 or over rose 0.58 point to 24.98 percent, reflecting the aging of the society.

The Japanese population in the three major metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Nagoya and Kansai increased 44,276 to a record high of 64,394,619, demonstrating a tendency of the population concentrate in big cities, especially Tokyo.

Of Japan’s 47 prefectures, 39 saw their populations decline. The drop was especially steep in Akita, at 1.23 percent, Aomori, at 1.02 percent, and Yamagata, at 0.96 percent.

Fukushima Prefecture, home to Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, saw its population fall at a slower pace of 0.72 percent. An official from the internal affairs ministry said the slowdown suggests that the impact of the nuclear accident has softened.

Eight prefectures experienced population growth, including Tokyo, at 0.53 percent, Okinawa, at 0.42 percent, and Aichi, at 0.16 percent.

Miyagi Prefecture in northeastern Japan saw a 0.06 percent increase apparently due to a rise in the number of people moving to the prefecture to take part in reconstruction work following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The average number of members per household for the whole of Japan stood at a record low of 2.30. The average was the lowest in Tokyo, at 1.97.

Japan’s population declines for 5th straight year
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140626p2g00m0dm027000c.html

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s population stood at 126,434,964 on a resident register basis as of Jan. 1, down 243,684 from a year earlier and declining for the fifth straight year, amid a falling birthrate and a growing proportion of elderly people, government data showed Wednesday.

The number of deaths last year hit a record high of 1,267,838, while the number of births increased slightly to 1,030,388, according to the data released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

The number of the people aged 65 or older stood at 31,582,754 — the highest figure since 1994 when comparable data became available. The number of children aged 14 or younger stood at 16,489,385, the lowest figure since 1994.

Of the country’s 47 prefectures, 39 saw a decline in population. The population declined by 29,639 in Japan’s northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, followed by Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast and by Shizuoka Prefecture in central Japan. Akita Prefecture in northeastern Japan saw the largest rate of decline at 1.23 percent.

Miyagi, Saitama, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Aichi, Shiga, Fukuoka and Okinawa prefectures saw population increases, with Tokyo’s population growing 67,539, or 0.53 percent, the biggest increase among the eight prefectures.

Elderly people accounted for 24.98 percent of Japan’s population. By prefecture, the proportion was highest in Akita Prefecture at 31.23 percent and lowest in Okinawa Prefecture at 18.1 percent.

The number of foreign residents declined by 2,347 to 2,003,384, the data showed.

The population of Japanese and non-Japanese residents totaled 128,438,348.

June 26, 2014 (Mainichi Japan)

JK comments:  What is the reason the population figure does not include NJ even though the resident registry network system has been able to account for NJ registration since 2012?

How it’s rendered in Japanese:

日本の人口、5年連続減 労働力の都市部集中強まる
日本経済新聞 2014/6/25 21:16
http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNASFS25015_V20C14A6MM8000/

総務省が25日発表した住民基本台帳に基づく1月1日時点の人口動態調査によると、日本人の総人口は1億2643万4964人で5年連続の減少となった。15~64歳の生産年齢人口は調査開始以来の最少を更新し、成長の押し下げ要因になる。人手不足の都市部に、景気回復の遅れが指摘される地方から働く世代が向かう傾向が強まり、地方では自治体の行政運営が難しさを増している。

調査期日は年度末移動の影響を避けるため3月末から1月に変更、増減は昨年1月と比べた。

日本人の総人口は前年より24万人減った。出生数はやや持ち直したが、死亡者数の増加が止まらず、自然減は7年連続。生産年齢人口は7836万人で総人口に占める割合は61.98%、65歳以上の老年人口は3158万人(同24.98%)だった。

三大都市圏に住む人は全人口の半数を超えて増え続けており、首都圏(東京、神奈川、千葉、埼玉)の人口は今年初めて3500万人を超えた。働き手が流入する首都圏は生産年齢人口の割合がなお高いが、65歳以上の割合も22.69%と前年3月末より0.55ポイント上昇、高齢化の足音が近づく。

人口が減ったのは39道府県で、秋田県と青森両県は減少率が1%を超えた。両県は増田寛也元総務相らが試算した「消滅の可能性がある」市町村の割合でも1、2位。増田氏は「東京の景気が先行して良くなると地方から人口が流出する。地方の景気回復が課題だ」と指摘する。

地方で人口減が続けば行政サービスの維持が難しくなる。秋田県は40年に今より30万人余り少ない70万人になるとの推計に基づき、地域や行政のあり方の再検討に着手。市町村とは電算システムや上下水道の維持管理の話し合いを始めた。青森県は3億円かけ結婚支援など27の人口減対策を進める。

市町村で人口減少率が高い市町村は6%を超える宮城県女川町、奈良県野迫川村、山梨県小菅村など全国に広がる。4番目に高い高知県大豊町は平均年齢が60歳を超え、年間の出生数は十数人。「集落の維持が難しい」として住民が担っていた道路の草刈りや側溝の掃除は町が臨時職員を雇って代行している。

日本人と3カ月を超えて日本に滞在する外国人を合わせた総人口は1億2843万8348人。そのうち外国人は200万人で、前年よりやや減少した。

In other news, have a look here:

Victim of sexist jeers tells foreign media more than one person responsible

Mainichi Shinbun June 25, 2014
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140625p2a00m0na009000c.html

PHOTO CAPTION:  Ayaka Shiomura meets reporters at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on June 24. (Mainichi)

A Tokyo metropolitan assemblywoman, who was subjected to sexist jeers during a recent assembly meeting, stressed that the heckling came from more than one person as she spoke at a news conference for the foreign media.

Over 100 reporters and workers with the foreign media gathered at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on June 24 as Tokyo metropolitan assemblywoman Ayaka Shiomura, 35, held a news conference over the sexist heckling during the June 18 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly meeting. She stressed once again that the heckling came from not just Akihiro Suzuki, an assembly member who has admitted to sexist jeering, but from other colleagues in the assembly. She said, “I want those who are responsible to step forward.”

At the beginning of the conference, Shiomura told reporters how the incident took place and her feelings about it.

A female Associated Press correspondent congratulated Shiomura for continuing with her speech in the assembly meeting under such circumstances, and asked her what it is like for women to be working in local assemblies and the general attitude of men in the political world. Shiomura said, “I cannot deny that it is not easy for women to work in the political scene, and I do feel that politics is built around men’s standards.”

Reporter Thomas Hoy Davidsen, from a Danish newspaper, expressed disappointment, saying, “The incident has caused deep embarrassment to Japan which is preparing to host the Olympics.”

Tokyo assembly votes down resolution calling for identifying hecklers

Mainichi Shinbun June 26, 2014
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140626p2g00m0dm028000c.html

PHOTO CAPTION:  Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member Akihiro Suzuki is seen after a press conference where he apologized for sexist heckling, at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building on June 23. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Tokyo metropolitan assembly voted down on Wednesday a resolution that called for identifying assembly members who heckled an assemblywoman last week with sexist remarks, with disapproval by the Liberal Democratic Party delegation, the biggest group in the assembly.

Among a suspected few hecklers, only 51-year-old Akihiro Suzuki, who quit the LDP delegation amid the scandal, was identified as he came forward later to admit to having made one of the remarks — “You should get married first.”

The Communist Party submitted another resolution urging Suzuki to resign but the assembly voted it down.

The assembly passed another resolution submitted by five assembly groups which calls for assembly members to make efforts to restore voters’ confidence in the assembly and to prevent recurrence of a similar incident.

At the opening of the day’s plenary session, the chairman of the 127-seat assembly, Toshiaki Yoshino, urged all members to maintain order and dignity.

Last week, Ayaka Shiomura, a 35-year-old female assembly member from Your Party, was heckled during the plenary session while she was asking questions on maternity support measures.

She was heckled with such remarks as, “You should get married first,” and, “Can’t you have babies?”

On Monday, Suzuki admitted to having made the first remark and apologized to Shiomura. But he denied making the second remark.

Shiomura told reporters that one of the hecklers said, “You should have babies first.”

Last Friday, Shiomura filed a written request with the assembly chairman seeking identification of the hecklers. But Yoshino, an LDP member, refused to accept the request.

JK comments:  The quote I’d like to focus on is this: “The incident has caused deep embarrassment to Japan which is preparing to host the Olympics.”

Soo…. seeing as how the political option got voted down twice, it looks to me like the only option Shiomura has to effect change in the gikai is via pulling the shame lever in form of a Kisha Club press conference. My take is that this move is intended to generate attention with gaiatsu as a real and possible side effect.

Assuming this is case, can your conclusion to the Urawa “Japanese Only” Soccer Banner Case (i.e. Gaiatsu is basically the only way to make progress against racial discrimination in Japan) be generalized to include political misogyny as well?

ENDS

My Japan Times JBC column 76: “Humanize the dry debate about immigration”, June 5, 2014, with links to sources

mytest

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Hi Blog. Thanks as always for putting my article in the Top Ten most read on the JT Online once again!
justbecauseicon.jpg
========================================
Humanize the dry debate about immigration
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 76 FOR THE JAPAN TIMES
June 5, 2014, courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/06/04/issues/humanize-dry-debate-immigration/
Version with links to sources.

Japan’s pundits are at it again: debating what to do about the sinking demographic ship. With the low birthrate, aging and shrinking society (we dropped below 127 million this year) and top-heavy social security system, Japan’s structural problems will by many accounts spell national insolvency.

However, we’re hearing the same old sky pies: Proposals to plug the gaps with more Japanese babies, higher retirement ages, more empowered women in the workplace (also here) — even tax money thrown at matchmaking services!

And yet they still won’t work. Policymakers are working backwards from conclusions and not addressing the structural problems, e.g., that people are deserting a depopulating countryside for urban opportunities in an overly centralized governmental system, marrying later (if at all) and finding children too expensive or cumbersome for cramped living spaces, having both spouses work just to stay afloat, and feeling perpetual disappointment over a lack of control over their lives. And all thanks to a sequestered ruling political and bureaucratic elite whose basic training is in status-quo maintenance, not problem-solving for people they share nothing in common with.

Of course, proposals have resurfaced about letting in more non-Japanese (NJ) to work. After all, we have that time-sensitive 2020 Tokyo Olympics infrastructure to build — oh, and a Tohoku to reconstruct someday. And no self-respecting white-collar Taro wants those 3K (kitsui, kitanai and kiken — difficult, dirty and dangerous) jobs. Never mind that policymakers have rarely cared about the NJ already here investing their lives in Japan, long discouraged from settling via revolving-door visa regimes, and even bribed to leave in 2009.

So, come back! All is forgiven!

Predictably, the Shinzo Abe administration recently announced the expansion of the “trainee” program. You know, that exploitative, abusive and unmonitored system that has imported NJ since 1990, free from the protections of labor law? The one that causes dozens of NJ deaths from overwork and other “unknown causes” every year, and keeps many in conditions of virtual slavery? Despite a decade of criticisms from human-rights groups, parliamentarians and the United Nations, these three-year visas have been lengthened by two more so we can exploit them longer.

And then, a previously taboo word entered the discussion: imin (immigration). It made such an impact that prominent debate magazine Sapio made it June’s cover story.

Sapio_June.Cover

Michael Hoffman reviewed this spread in the JT in his Big In Japan column on May 24, “Will Japan be a country that welcomes all?”

Great. But I’ll answer Michael’s question right now: no — and not just for an obvious reason like Japan’s innate mistrust of outsiders. We also have a structural problem with how the concept of imin is being framed. It goes beyond constant othering and alienation: NJ aren’t even being seen as people.

Last time this debate came up, I lambasted the government for shutting NJ long-termers out of the deliberation councils drafting policies affecting them. I also mentioned how policymakers avoided the word imin.

So now imin has been formally broached — albeit while being stigmatized: The person in charge of the Immigration Bureau, Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, immediately said NJ would present “adverse effects on security.” (Note to ad agencies: Don’t hire Tanigaki to sell your product.)

But imin has also been dehumanized. Look up “immigrant” in an English-Japanese dictionary and you get words such as ijūmin, ijūsha, imin rōdōsha and, oddly, mitsunyūkokusha and fuhō nyūkokusha (illegal immigrant). But these aren’t immigrants: These are migrants, here temporarily, as properly translated by domestic NGOs looking out for NJ interests, such as the Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (Iju Rodosha to Rentai Suru Network).

The word for “immigration,” meaning something permanent, is imin — denoted on the Denshi Jisho dictionary site as a “sensitive” word (of course; that’s why the government avoided using it for so long).

But we still have no word for an immigrant as an individual person, such as iminsha, with its own honorific sha — in the same vein as ijūsha (migrant), rōdōsha (laborer), teijūsha (settler, usually a Nikkei South American), zairyūsha (temporary resident), eijūsha (permanent resident) and even (in a few government documents) kikasha (naturalized citizen).

It’s just the clipped imin. That means nobody gets to claim “I am an immigrant” in Japan. (Try it: “Watashi wa imin desu” sounds funny.) And this in turn means immigration remains a strictly statistical animal. Lost in this narrative is the idea that when we import labor, we import people. With lives. And needs. And voices to be heard.

This kind of framing damages the debate by taking away the immigrant’s voice. Take that Sapio special: From the very cover, you’ll notice that not one visible minority is featured among the talking heads.

Sapio_June.Cover

Almost all those speechifying inside are elite Japanese (including former Tokyo governor and professional bigot Shintaro Ishihara, which already signals where things are headed): the same old pundits defending their ideological camps with no real new ideas.

But more indicative of the framing of the debate is the main photo on Sapio’s cover: a hate-speech rally showing anti-Korean demonstrators vs. anti-racism counterdemonstrators. (A smaller inset photo shows South Americans at a labor-union rally. Their faces are visible, unlike those in the larger photo, which were blurred out to protect people’s privacy. More evidence of powerlessness: Apparently NJ aren’t people with privacy concerns.)

Hang on: An anti-Korean rally is not an issue of immigration; it’s got more to do with Japan’s unresolved historical issues with its neighbors.

If you define “immigrants” as NJ who have moved to Japan and made a life here as long-term residents (if not regular permanent residents, or ippan eijūsha) — i.e., the “Newcomers” — that’s a different group than the one being demonstrated against.

Being targeted instead are the “Oldcomers” — the Zainichi Korean and Chinese special permanent residents (tokubetsu eijūsha), descendants of former citizens of empire who have been living in and contributing to Japan for generations. The Oldcomers are not the “immigrants” in question — and from this blind spot, the debate goes askew.

Sapio’s editorial on discrimination towards NJ (pages 20-21) not only neglects to mention any examples of discrimination against Japan’s Newcomers; it also crosses its analytical wires by citing the Urawa Reds “Japanese only” exclusionary banner at Saitama Stadium last March as hate speech against the Oldcomers.

Hang on again: That “Japanese only” banner would not have affected the Zainichis. “Japanese only” is a narrative targeting Japan’s visible minorities, i.e., those who don’t “look Japanese” enough to pass an exclusionary manager’s scrutiny. Naturally, after several generations here, Zainichi can quietly enter a “Japanese only” zone without drawing hairy eyeballs. And while the historical wrongs done to the Zainichi in Japan are very worthy of discussion, they should not suck the oxygen out of the debate on immigrants.

But I believe this is by design: By entangling the debate in the same old Zainichi issues, the xenophobes can derail it with the same old paranoid fears about granting rights to potentially subversive North Korean and Chinese residents. This makes the true iminsha not only voiceless but invisible.

That’s exactly what the xenophobes want. A common theme in rightist writings is “more foreigners means less Japan,” and admitting more visible minorities (which inevitably happens when you import people) will always bring forth that tension. Best to just argue as if they don’t exist.

So what to do? Be Gandalf and say “That shall not pass!” Just as the Urawa Reds fans’ “Japanese only” banner forced the domestic media in March to finally admit that racial discrimination happens in Japan, we must force the nation’s elites to reframe the concept of immigration and humanize the immigrants behind the statistics. Allow the public to see a way to welcome Newcomers not only as individuals, but also as long-termers, immigrants and, ultimately, as citizens with the same rights and obligations as every other Japanese.

The elites will resist this, because the economic incentives are clear: The more powerless and invisible you keep NJ, the easier it is to exploit them.

So, if you want to finally address one of Japan’s structural problems, start by popularizing the word iminsha. Let regular folk with regular lives attach that term to an NJ neighbor they know. Then give them a voice.

Otherwise, it’s same old debate, same old (and getting older) Japan.
========================================

Debito Arudou received his Ph.D. from Meiji Gakuin University in International Studies in April. Twitter: @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDS

SAPIO Mag features special on Immigration to Japan: Note odd media narratives microaggressing NJ (particularly the Visible Minorities) into voiceless role

mytest

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Hi Blog. As noted in the Japan Today article cited below, SAPIO debate magazine (June 2014) devoted an issue specifically to the issue of immigration (imin) to Japan (what with the Abe Administration’s renewed plan to import 200,000 NJ per year).

Good. But then it fumbles the issue with all manner of narratives that microaggress the NJ immigrant back into a position of being powerless and voiceless.  First, let’s start with SAPIO’s cover, courtesy of MS:

Sapio_June.Cover

COMMENT:  Notice anything funny?  Start with the sub-headline in yellow talking about having a vigorous debate from “each world” (kyaku kai).  Each?  Look at the debaters being featured in the bubbles.  See any Visible Minorities there?  Nope, they’re left out of the debate once again.  All we get are the typical powerful pundits (probably all Wajin, with “Papa Bear” Wajin Ishihara second in line). , Where is the voice of the immigrant?

And by “immigrant”, I mean people who have immigrated to Japan as NJ and made a life here as long-term resident if not actual Permanent-Residency holder.  The people who have indefinite leave to remain.  The “Newcomers“, who work in Japan and work for Japan.  As depicted in the picture of the labor-union demonstrators in the inset photo in the top right.

Now look at the larger photo.  It’s a xenophobic demo about issues between Japan and Korea (and no doubt China).  That’s not a debate about immigration.  It’s a hate rally airing historical grievances between Japan and it’s neighbors, gussied up as a jerry-rigged issue about “Zainichis having special privileges as NJ” (the very root complaint of the Zaitokukai group, which, even if those “special privileges” were meaningfully true, ought to happen anyway what with all the contributions the Zainichi have made to Japanese society both as prewar citizens of empire and postwar disenfranchised residents for generations; but I digress).  Anyway, the point is that the cover does not convey the issue of “immigration in Japan” accurately.  Zainichi issues dominate.

Finally, note how all the Wajin demonstrators have their faces blocked out in the photo.  Clearly Wajin have privacies to protect.  Not so the NJ protesting in the photo inset.  Hence NJ once again have fewer rights to privacy in the Japanese media.  Just like this photo from the racist Gaijin Hanzai Magazine of yore (remember that?  more information here). Comparative powerlessness in visual form.

gaijinhanzaipg11

Next up, check out the Japan Today writeup on the SAPIO special:

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

Consultant urges ‘one-of-a-kind’ immigration policy for Japan
JAPAN TODAY KUCHIKOMI MAY. 12, 2014 – TOKYO —
http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/consultant-urges-one-of-a-kind-immigration-policy-for-japan, courtesy lots of people

In its cover story for June, Sapio devotes 14 articles—including a contribution by former Tokyo Gov Shintaro Ishihara—and 23 pages to wide-ranging discussions on the subject of immigration. It looks like substantial changes are coming, and coming soon. What form should immigration take? What are the merits and demerits?

Management consultant Kenichi Ohmae is, if anything, a pragmatic person. He also expresses his ideas logically and persuasively, and he has devoted a lot of thinking to the issue of immigration, which he suggests be adopted as a policy in three successive stages.

First of all, the demographics don’t lie: by 2050 the largest age segment in Japan’s population pyramid, both for males and females will be those in their late 70s, with fewer and fewer younger people. If this course is maintained, people in their productive ages will decline rapidly. Ohmae says he pointed this out more than 20 years ago. During his past four decades as a business consultant, he has observed that in general, introduction of foreign workers in Japanese businesses has been carried out in five-year increments, during which time problems and challenges are resolved through a trial-and-error basis.

When one looks back 25 to 30 years, to the economic “bubble,” Japan found itself with a labor shortage, particularly in construction and manufacturing. It began bringing in “Nikkeijin” (people of Japanese ancestry) from Latin America, along with Pakistanis, Iranians and others. Since there was no visa status for manual laborers, they entered on tourist or student visas, and the government feigned disinterest when they took blue-collar jobs.

Then the bubble collapsed, and these workers were summarily dismissed. The number of illegal foreign workers declined, and Japan was soundly criticized for its lack of interest in the workers’ welfare.

The current Abe government appears inclined to issue guidelines that will expand entry by foreign workers in such fields as construction, nursing care, agriculture and household domestics. On the other hand, it’s proceeding with measures to ensure that the entry of such foreigners not be mistakenly construed as “immigration policies.” In other words, time limits will be imposed on those workers’ stays. Inevitably, this will result in a repeat of the mistakes and troubles that happened after the collapse of the bubble.

Considering that the Japanese babies being born now will take from 15 to 30 years before they start contributing to Japan’s economy, it’s clear that immigration offers Japan’s only hope to preserve its economic vitality. And, Ohmae emphasizes, now is probably its last chance to take meaningful action.

The three stages Ohmae proposes are: First, Japan should emulate Silicon Valley in attracting 1,000 skilled people a year from such countries as Israel, India, Taiwan, Russia and East European countries. But these people should not be limited only to the field of Information Technology. They would be concentrated in six “clusters” around the country, mostly in large urban areas where they and their families would be made to feel at home with access to churches, schools and so on.

The second stage is to find a way to attract 100,000 professionals a year in the category of work titles with the “shi” suffix (such as “kangoshi” or nurse), trained care providers, attorneys, firemen, etc), all of which are currently in short supply.

The third stage is to accept blue-collar workers, of whom at least 300,000 per year will be needed to keep Japan’s economic engine purring. Ohmae suggests the Japanese government set up and fund preparatory schools in countries likely to supply labor, where students can learn the basics of the Japanese language, laws, customs, and so on before they arrive. And passing an examination will entitle them to a Japanese-style “green card,” permanent residence and the right to work. Such a system is likely to help avoid concentration of unskilled foreigners who would gravitate to the slums that have created social problems in other countries.

When considering the future of immigration, Ohmae also urges the importance of avoiding its politicization among Japanese, so that when people debate its pros and cons, this can be done dispassionately, without tarring one another with “right wing” or “left wing” labels.

ENDS

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

COMMENT:  Although unusually well-intentioned (check out his paternalistic and misogynistic attitudes about Burmese and Aung San Suu Kyi in 1997’s SAPIO), Ohmae, despite his verbal distancing from Japan’s perpetual “Revolving Door” visa regimes, fundamentally recycles the same old ideas about bringing in brainy NJ (unscientifically linking job skills with thoroughbred nationalities/ethnicities and sequestering them in their own enclaves, once again), with no apparent suggestion about making these immigrants into Japanese citizens.  Well, we don’t want to give them too much power to actually have any say over their own lives here.  NJ can come here to work so that we Wajin can stay economically afloat, but that’s all.  They shouldn’t expect much more than the privilege to work and stay in our rich country for as long as they’re needed.

I’ll leave the readers to parse out all the unconscious “othering NJ” microaggressions for themselves, but, ultimately, the question remains:  Where is the specialist commenting on “immigration” (there are people well-studied in that science; try the United Nations) who will lend a specifically-trained viewpoint to the debate, instead of the same old, hoary Wajin pundits defending their ideologies?

Finally, consider the opening editorial article in SAPIO below, which explores the issue of discrimination in general in Japan.  Despite the title (which rightfully talks about hate speech towards Zainichi Koreans and Chinese as shameful for a first-world country), it opens with some soul-searching about the Urawa Reds fans’ “JAPANESE ONLY” banner in Saitama Stadium as an example of Japan’s discriminatory attitudes.  Fine.  But then the article is hijacked once again by the (very important, but not complete) issues of domestic discrimination towards the Zainichi.

Remember, this is an issue also devoted to IMMIGRATION.   The numbers of the Zainichi Koreans and Chinese (i.e., the “Oldcomers”) have been dropping for many years now.  They are not the immigrants of note.  The immigrants, as I defined above, are the NEWCOMERS.  And once again, their voice is not represented within the debate on discrimination or assimilation in Japan.  Those minorities, particularly the Visible Minorities, are silenced.

What’s particularly ironic in the citation of the Urawa Reds’ “Japanese Only” banner is that IT WOULD NOT HAVE AFFECTED THE ZAINICHIS.  “Japanese Only” as a narrative very specifically affects those who do not “look Japanese“.  Thus any Zainichi in Saitama Stadium that day would have “passed” as “Japanese” on sight identification, and could have chosen to sit in those exclusionary stands.  Thus SAPIO, like just about all Japanese media I’ve ever seen, once again crosses its analytical wires, and with these narratives riddled with blind spots and microaggressions, Japan’s “immigration” issue will not be resolved.

That said, I think PM Abe knows this.  That’s why his administration is going back to bribing Wajin to have more babies.  More on that here courtesy of JK.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Sapio_June1 Sapio_June2

 

ENDS

 

Reuters: Abe Admin seeks to expand, not contract, the deadly exploitative NJ “Trainee” program

mytest

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Hi Blog.  When Debito.org last seriously talked about the issue of Japan’s foreign “Trainees” (i.e. NJ brought over by the GOJ who are allegedly “in occupational training”, therefore not qualifying as “workers” entitled to labor law protections), it was back in July 2010, when news broke about the death of 27 of them in 2009.  The news to me was that it was only the SECOND worst casualty rate on record. Even more scandalous was that about a third of the total dead NJ (as in eight) had died of, quote, “unknown causes” (as if that’s a sufficient explanation; don’t they have autopsies in Japan to fix that? Oh wait, not always.). Kyodo News back then lazily (or rather, ignorantly) observed how problematic the system has been, stating that “a number of irregular practices have recently been observed, such as having foreign trainees work for long hours with below-minimum wages”. Hardly “recent” even back then:  Despite years of calls to fix or abolish the program entirely, with official condemnations in 2006 of it as “a swindle“, and the UN in 2010 essentially calling it slavery (see below), it was still causing deaths at the rate of two or three NJ a month.  (The irony was that karoushi (death from overwork) was a big media event when Japanese were dying of it. Clearly less so when NJ die.)

Now sit down for this news:  The GOJ is seeking not to reform the “Trainee” system, but rather to EXPAND it.  As the article indicates below, we’ve gotta get more cheap, disposable, and ultimately expendable foreigners to build our Tokyo Olympics in time for 2020.  And then we can round them up once their visas expire and deport them (that is, if they’re still alive), like we did back in Nagano for the 1998 Olympics.

This is precisely the type of exploitative capitalism that creates Marxists.   But again, who in Japan empathizes with NJ workers?  They’re only here to earn money and then go home, right?  So they deserve to be exploited, runs the common national narrative.  And under that discourse, no matter how bad it gets for them (and so far it really, really has), no amount of domestic or international condemnation will stop it.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Japan moves to expand controversial foreign worker scheme
BY ANTONI SLODKOWSKI
REUTERSAPR 2, 2014
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/04/02/national/japan-moves-to-expand-controversial-foreign-worker-scheme/

Japan is considering expanding a controversial program that now offers workers from China and elsewhere permits to work for up to three years, as the world’s fastest-aging nation scrambles to plug gaps in a rapidly shrinking workforce.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday submitted a proposal to let workers to stay for up to five years, relax hiring rules for employers and boost the number of jobs open to them.

“We will strengthen the governance of the program,” LDP lawmaker Yasuhisa Shiozaki, who authored the proposal, told reporters. “We are aware of the concerns and we allowed people who had objections to voice their objections.”

Shiozaki said the LDP wanted to see harsher penalties for companies that abused foreign workers and would use external inspectors and local governments to monitor compliance.

The program, started in 1993, sponsors around 150,000 workers, mostly Chinese, for jobs in areas such as the garment industry and farms.

In theory, the foreign workers come to Japan as trainees to acquire technical expertise, but lawyers and labor activists say many face abuse, from illegally low wages to the confiscation of their passports.

Such conditions “may well amount to slavery,” the United Nations said in 2010, and called on Tokyo to scrap the program.

But Japan is desperate for more workers, especially in industries such as construction and farming. With just under half its population expected to be aged 65 or older by 2060, Japan faces a severe labor shortage that promises to hamper Abe’s ambitious economic revival plans.

Shoichi Ibusuki, a lawyer who has represented foreign workers based in Tokyo, said the proposed safeguards would not go far enough and urged the government to abolish, rather than expand, the program.

“The workers can’t freely choose their workplace after coming to Japan. They are refused the right to sign and cancel contracts, so they have no freedom as laborers,” said Ibusuki.

“If you don’t fix this structural problem, it doesn’t matter how much you tighten regulations, it won’t go away,” he said.

Nearly 200 companies were found to have mistreated trainees in 2012, a jump of 21 percent from two years earlier, government data show. There were 90 cases of failure to pay legal wages and more than 170 cases of violations of labor regulations.

The shortage of workers is most acute in the construction industry, whose workforce has shrunk by a third from 1997, when public works peaked. By 2010, about a fifth of all construction workers were older than 60.

The lack of workers has left construction companies struggling to meet demand for new projects tied to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and reconstruction work in areas destroyed by the 2011 tsunami.

Shiozaki said two government panels reporting to Abe will discuss the proposal and consider it as part of a growth strategy to be announced in June.

Foreign-born workers make up less than 1.3 percent of the workforce, according to the 2010 census.

ENDS

IPC: Five female Japanese students reported twice raping a Peruvian classmate in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka

mytest

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UPDATED:  THE MACHINE-TRANSLATED TEXT WAS GENDER-NEUTRAL, BUT THE SPANISH WAS GENDER-SPECIFIC, AND THIS DID NOT COME THROUGH IN ENGLISH.  AMENDMENTS MADE.

Hi Blog.  Received this from Debito.org Reader IA, who comments:

This week I read about a horrific case of ijime in Shizuoka Ken, a Peruvian girl was raped by five [female] classmates. The worst part is the authorities just bow the head and said they could only offer money nothing else. I’ll give you more details if you want. I’m trying to find the news in English or Japanese and I also sent an e-mail to the Spanish newspaper where I read about it to get more information in your language. This is awful I want to vomit. If the case was from the opposite side I’m sure the reaction could be different.

No doubt it would.  I don’t know about the money part, but this apparently is the rumor circulating around the Peruvian community in Japan.  Anyone else heard about this, especially in the J-media?  If you haven’t, I bet you also haven’t heard about the Herculano Murder Case, either.  I hope it won’t suffer the same fate.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

TRANSLATED BY GOOGLE TRANSLATE, ORIGINAL TEXT IN SPANISH BELOW
(Lightly edited.  Amendments by Spanish readers welcome)
Five Japanese students reported for sexual offense against a Peruvian partner in Shizuoka
INTERNATIONAL PRESS 18/04/2014 | Category: Community , Shizuoka

The mother knew the facts this week and yesterday has filed a complaint with the police Fujinomiya.

Five [female] students from a school in Chugakko (junior high) Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture, have been accused by a mother of Peruvian nationality for having sexually abused her 13 year-old in a terrible case of ijime (bullying).

According knew International Press, the Peruvian girl was raped twice by her fellow [female classmates in a school music club] in a park near the school, who took her by force and using “apparatus” to abuse her.

The incident occurred in May and December 2013, but only became known this week when the girl had had enough and told her mother everything.

The Peruvian, who cares for two children alone, was presented Thursday to the 17 education authorities Township Fujinomiya to tell the tale. Immediately, she was taken to the police to file a formal complaint.

The girl had stopped going to school, begged to be taken to Peru and will djo her mother to prevent his younger brother to enter Chugakko, junior high.

EL BUKATSU (school clubs)
In May 2013, when the Peruvian was a freshman at the Chugakko, his mother complained to the teacher in charge of the music club.

At that time the teacher knew the name of at least one of which pressed harassing and beating Peru to leave the club. The girl was described as a shy and reserved person who wanted to learn to play the clarinet.

The claimed effect did not emerge and the harassment continued despite the girl stopped going to the music club and switched to the drawing club.

Although missing some days to school, she continued going until March this year when she left school entirely. This week the whole truth came out.

The school principals were newly aware of the case yesterday after the mother filed a police report. (Ipcdigital)

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

Cinco alumnas japonesas denunciadas por ultrajar sexualmente a una compañera peruana en Shizuoka
18/04/2014 | Categoría: Comunidad,Shizuoka
http://es.ipcdigital.com/2014/04/18/cinco-alumnas-japonesas-denunciadas-por-ultrajar-sexualmente-una-companera-peruana-en-shizuoka/ Courtesy of IA

La madre conoció los hechos esta semana y ayer ha presentado denuncia ante la policía de Fujinomiya.
Cinco alumnas de un colegio de chugakko (secundaria básica) de Fujinomiya, provincia de Shizuoka, han sido acusadas por una madre de nacionalidad peruana por haber ultrajado sexualmente a su hija de 13 años en un terrible caso de ijime (hostigamiento).

Según supo International Press, la niña peruana fue violada dos veces por sus compañeras del club de música en un parque ubicado cerca de la escuela al que la llevaron por la fuerza y valiéndose de “un aparato” para ultrajarla.

Los hechos ocurrieron en mayo y diciembre de 2013, pero solo se conocieron esta semana cuando la niña no soportó más y narró todo a su madre.

La peruana, quien cuida a dos hijos sola, se presentó el jueves 17 ante las autoridades educativas del Municipio de Fujinomiya para contar lo sucedido. Inmediatamente, fue conducida ante la policía para presentar una denuncia formal.

La niña había dejado de ir a la escuela, rogaba para ser llevada a Perú y le djo a su madre que impidiera que su hermano menor ingrese al chugakko, la secundaria básica.

EL BUKATSU
En mayo de 2013, cuando la peruana cursaba el primer año de chugakko, su madre presentó una queja ante la profesora encargada del club de música.

En aquella oportunidad la maestra conoció el nombre al menos de una de las hostigadora que presionaba y golpeaban a la peruana para que abandonara el club. La niña fue descrita como una persona tímida y reservada que deseaba aprender a tocar el clarinete.

El reclamó no surgió efecto y el hostigamiento continuó a pesar que la niña dejó la música y se pasó al club de dibujo.

Aunque faltaba algunos días a clases, siguió acudiendo hasta que en marzo de este año dejó la escuela totalmente. Esta semana se supo toda la verdad.

Los directores de la escuela recién se han enterado del caso ayer luego de que la madre interpuso denuncia policial. (ipcdigital)

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

UPDATE APRIL 23, 2014: PERUVIAN EMBASSY GETTING INVOLVED. MACHINE-TRANSLATED ARTICLE FOLLOWS, THEN ORIGINAL SPANISH IPC ARTICLE.

http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fes.ipcdigital.com%2F2014%2F04%2F21%2Fconsul-peruano-dice-que-dirigira-las-acciones-de-apoyo-la-madre-de-nina-violada-en-fujinomiya%2F&edit-text=

Peruvian Consul says that direct the actions to support the mother of girl raped in Fujinomiya
21/04/2014 | Category: Community , Shizuoka | Courtesy of IA

Consul Cardenas reported Tuesday visit the home of the Peruvian in Shizuoka.

Consul General of Peru in Tokyo, Julio Cardenas, announced today that “personally direct the actions of support” for the Peruvian mother whose daughter was raped by five classmates in the town of Fujinomiya, in the province of Kanagawa. [sic]

The consul told Cardenas Press International that “tomorrow” (Tuesday 22 April) visit the house of his compatriot to directly offer their support to the mother and daughter.

“Today I had telephone contact with the lady and I found a very acute emotional state. I offered all my solidarity and full understanding as a human being and as consul, “said Peruvian authorities.

After hearing the testimony of the mother, the consul said, “It was totally touching as a human being if I get and would have the same reaction that she (with anger and thirst for righteousness),” he said.

Asked about the number of cases of ijime (harassment) against Peruvian school coming to your office, Cárdenas, revealed that the first time you receive a letter and a formal complaint. “I have been informed that people talk, but we have not heard more so with a letter, to this day,” he said.

For Fujinomiya was revealed last Friday by International Press after the mother requested support to face the drama of her 13-year-old sexually assaulted twice between May and December 2013 by her fellow club music school .

Last Thursday police Fujinomiya accepted the case as “complaint” which may not be processed in the arrest of the attackers because they are under 13, according to Japanese authorities said the mother.

“We will call the girls and their parents, they will severely draw attention to know that fact harm. Maybe you can receive financial compensation for parents of girls. More can be done, “said the Japanese police, he told the Peruvian.

Woman reccionó with outrage at the police response because it offers a real serious case of rape has destroyed the life of his daughter solution.

The action of the school has also been disappointing. Last Friday, the Peruvian stated his case to the principal and vice-principal. They listened with bowed head, but instead of offering immediate psychological help for the girl and own shares, preferred to hide behind the police report and keep silent.

It is expected that the participation of Peruvian Consul help the Japanese authorities put real interest in such a rugged case. (Ipcdigital)
ENDS

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

ORIGINAL ARTICLE:

Cónsul peruano dice que dirigirá las acciones de apoyo a la madre de niña violada en Fujinomiya
INTERNATIONAL PRESS 21/04/2014 | Categoría: Comunidad,Shizuoka |
El Cónsul Cárdenas informó que este martes visitará la casa de la peruana en Shizuoka.

http://es.ipcdigital.com/2014/04/21/consul-peruano-dice-que-dirigira-las-acciones-de-apoyo-la-madre-de-nina-violada-en-fujinomiya/

El cónsul general del Perú en Tokio, Julio Cárdenas, ha anunciado hoy que “dirigirá personalmente las acciones de apoyo” a la madre peruana cuya niña fue violada por cinco compañeras de escuela en la localidad de Fujinomiya, en la provincia de Kanagawa. [sic]

El cónsul Cárdenas dijo a International Press que “mañana mismo” (este martes 22 de abril) visitará la casa de su connacional para ofrecer directamente su respaldo a la madre y a su hija.

“Hoy he tenido contacto telefónico con la señora y la he encontrado en un estado emocional muy agudo. Le he ofrecido toda mi solidaridad y plena comprensión como ser humano y como cónsul”, declaró la autoridad peruana.

Tras escuchar el testimonio de la madre, el cónsul dijo que “ha sido totalmente conmovedor, como ser humano me pongo en su caso y tendria la misma reaccion que ella (de indignación y sed de justicia)”, comentó.

Preguntado sobre la cantidad de casos de ijime (hostigamiento) escolar contra peruanos que llegan a su oficina, Cárdenas, reveló que es la primera vez que recibe una carta y una queja formal. “He tomado conocimiento porque la gente habla, pero no hemos sabido más, así con una carta, hasta hoy”, explicó.

El caso de Fujinomiya fue revelado el pasado viernes por International Press luego que la madre solicitara apoyo para enfrentar el drama de su hija de 13 años, ultrajada sexualmente dos veces, entre mayo y diciembre de 2013 por sus compañeras del club de música de la escuela.

El jueves pasado la policía de Fujinomiya aceptó el caso como “queja”, que no podrá transformarse en la detención de las atacantes porque se trata de menores de 13 años, según dijeron las autoridades japonesas a la madre.

“Convocaremos a las niñas y a sus padres, les vamos a llamar severamente la atención para que sepan que hecho un daño. Usted puede recibir quizá una compensación económica de los padres de las niñas. Más no se puede hacer”, dijo la policía japonesa, según contó la peruana.

La mujer reccionó con indignación ante la respuesta de la policía porque no ofrece una solución real a un gravísimo caso de violación sexual que ha destruido la vida de su hija.

La acción del colegio también ha dejado mucho que desear. El viernes pasado, la peruana expuso su caso ante el director y vice-director de la escuela. Ellos escucharon con la cabeza gacha, pero en vez de ofrecer inmediata ayuda sicológica para la niña y más acciones propias, prefirieron escudarse tras la denuncia policial y mantener silencio.

Se espera que la participación del Cónsul Peruano ayude a que las autoridades japonesas pongan interés real en un caso tan escabroso. (ipcdigital)
ENDS

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

UPDATE APRIL 24, 2014, AGAIN, GOOGLE MACHINE TRANSLATED WITH CONFUSING SENTENCES LEFT INTACT AND GENDERED PRONOUNS LIGHTLY EDITED, CORRECTIONS WELCOME:

Peruvian girl family abused by her classmates by fear leaves Fujinomiya
IPC 04/24/2014 | Category: Community , Shizuoka | Courtesy of IA
It is suspected that the girl has been filmed and photographed when she was abused.

The sexual abuse that was inflicted upon a Peruvian girl (13) by five [female] Japanese classmates in the town of Fujinomiya, Shizuoka, is taking as rough road as the event itself. The girl was not abused in a nearby park as stated in the beginning but all have occurred within the school, and the facts have been filmed and photographed.

These data were revealed to International Press by the mother of the girl, who has begun to understand much more the state of terror in which she finds her daughter. [The daughter] had received threats from the aggressors if her mother and her younger brother should denounce the abuses.

The girl was told under threats have been abused more times than I said and within the school between July 2013 and March 2014, when she left school completely and asked the help of her mother.

Fear is installed in the house because of the Fujinomiya police so far has not given strong signs that they want to protect the family, and have no confidence in the school due to the bad management of the case so far.

PERUVIAN CONSUL’S VISIT TO THE POLICE AND SCHOOL

Police and school have shown only real concern of the problem on Tuesday when they saw on April 22 parked in front of their premises a car with diplomatic plates, with the consul general of Peru in Tokyo, Minister Julio Cardenas, aboard.

The head of the Central Police Station Fujinomiya assured the Peruvian Consul to give priority to the investigation and assured they would treat the case as if it were any Japanese.

That same day, following the visit of Consul Cárdenas, an agent of the police revealed that the International Press rape investigations are underway and that four of the five alleged attackers, including her parents, had passed by the police station, although all have denied the allegations.

At school, the Consul was greeted by the vice-principal, and his presence in the school caused an unusual stir. The manager promised to take action and collaborate as needed.

Just Thursday morning, the mother received a phone call from the Board of Education and school district offering psychological support for the Peruvian girl, but she has lost all confidence in them. A private psychologist in charge of treatment is small.

ONLY LIVED FOR THEM: THE MOTHER

The mother tries to get her courage to the drama that has affected their lives, and complains about not being able to support her child on time. “I am mortified and hurt, I wanted to go back in time and be there to protect her,” she confessed in tears in a meeting with CPI.

“My daughter is quite reserved. Chiquita my brothers told me it was quite coy, that anyone could take her without her claimed “he said and I was like well cared for.

“I worked until three in the afternoon to be with my children,” she said, “we live austerely, but that is to be with them.” This happened until she lost the job due to a fall in production and started to work until 5pm.

Still, every day she brought her children to school, even though the tutor asked her not to do so, and each time she would also pick them up. “I was afraid that something had happened to them. I was afraid that she would be kidnapped as read in the news in Japan or hit by a car on the streets. Everyone knows who lived for them,”s he said.

She took care of both children to the point where, her own mother once scolded, that “she was a very overprotective mom”, and asked to leave them freer to learn how to defend themselves.

That was until in March 2013, when the girl began to have changes in her character. Besides being reserved she became even more distant from her mother, became cranky, and could go days without bathing. Everyone thought it was stuff of adolescence and needed patience.

The first warning that she was victim of ijime (harassment) occurred in May 2013. A group of friends beat and demanded to leave the music club where Peruvian learned clarinet. The mother filed a complaint and then accepted for the moment her move to the drawing club.

FEAR AND OUT OF FUJINOMIYA

Since then the facts were supposedly worse without anyone noticing at school. Five Japanese girls her age molested the Peruvian in a ritual that was filmed and photographed.

The mother believes that her daughter endured all that, and in silence, for fear that these people do harm to your family. She had asked her mother not to send her younger brother to study in that school.

Now, the goal is to surround the small images that give security. Her father, who had divorced his mother for some time, has returned home to protect her. Took time off work, although it was reported yesterday that he had been fired despite having explained the situation the manager of the company.

The presence of the consul Cardenas helped decisively. After that, she had more details that will help in the police investigation. The same diplomat brought mother and daughter to Tokyo on Tuesday for a consultation with the renowned Japanese lawyer Kotaro Tanaka.

Yet fear and trauma was beyond endurance. In hours this afternoon, the mother usumió decisive action to safeguard the physical and psychological integrity of his family. She put in the car a change of clothes and left in an unknown direction from Fujinomiya out of fear. The famous Japanese safety has collapsed for them.

“We are now leaving Fujinomiya” the father said to International Press, while his former wife was driving with her ​​two children on board. They only become increasingly requires the police. They want justice. (Luis Alvarez / ipcdigital)
ENDS

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

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Familia de la niña peruana ultrajada por sus compañeras de clase deja Fujinomiya por temor
24/04/2014 | Categoría: Comunidad,Shizuoka | Courtesy of IA
Se sospecha que la niña haya sido filmada y fotografiada cuando fue abusada.
http://es.ipcdigital.com/2014/04/24/nina-peruana-violada-por-sus-companeras-en-una-escuela-de-fujinomiya-puede-haber-sido-filmada/

El abuso sexual al que fue sometida una niña peruana (13) por cinco compañeras de clase japonesas en la localidad de Fujinomiya, en Shizuoka, está tomando un camino tan escabroso como el propio acontecimiento. La niña no fue abusada en un parque cercano como se dijo en un principio sino que todo habría ocurrido dentro de la escuela y los hechos habrían sido filmados y fotografiados.

Estos datos fueron revelados a International Press por la madre de la niña, quien ha empezado a comprender mucho más el estado de terror en que se encuentra su hija. Ella habría recibido amenazas de las agresoras contra su persona, su madre y su hermano menor en caso denunciara los abusos.

La pequeña ha contado que bajo amenazas ha sido abusada más veces de las que dijo y dentro de la escuela entre julio de 2013 y marzo de 2014, cuando abandonó la escuela totalmente y pidió el auxilio de su madre.

El miedo se ha instalado en la casa de la peruana porque hasta ahora la policía de Fujimiya no ha dado muestras contundentes de que quiere proteger a esa familia y no hay confianza en la escuela por la pésima gestión del caso hasta el momento.

LA VISITA DEL CÓNSUL A LA POLICÍA Y ESCUELA

Policía y escuela solo han mostrado preocupación real del problema el día martes 22 cuando vieron estacionarse en la puerta de sus locales un automóvil con placa diplomática con el cónsul general del Perú en Tokio, ministro Julio Cárdenas, a bordo.

El jefe de la comisaría central de Fujinomiya ha asegurado al Cónsul Peruano que dará prioridad a esta investigación y garantizó que tratarían el caso como si fuera de cualquier japonés.

Ese mismo día, tras la visita del Cónsul Cárdenas, un agente de la policía reveló a International Press que las investigaciones de la violación están en marcha y que cuatro de las cinco supuestas atacantes, incluidos sus padres, habían pasado por la delegación policial aunque todas han negado los hechos.

En la escuela, el Cónsul fue recibido por el vice-director y su presencia en el centro escolar causó un revuelo inusitado. El directivo prometió tomar acciones y colaborar en cuanto haga falta.

Recién la mañana de hoy jueves, la madre recibió una llamada telefónica de la la Junta Educativa del Municipio y de la escuela ofreciendo ayuda psicológica para la niña peruana, pero se ha perdido toda la confianza en ellos. Una psicóloga privada está encargándose del tratamiento de la pequeña.

SOLO VIVÍA PARA ELLOS: LA MADRE

La madre intenta sacar fuerzas de flaqueza ante el drama que vive y se reprocha por no haber podido apoyar a tiempo a tu niña. “Me siento mortificada y dolida. Cómo quisiera regresar en el tiempo y estar allí para protegerla”, confesó entre lágrimas en un encuentro con IPC.

“Mi niña es bastante reservada. De chiquita mis hermanos me decían que era muy calladita, que cualquiera se la podía llevar sin que ella reclamara”, dijo y así fue como la cuidó.

“Yo trabajaba hasta las tres de la tarde para estar con mis hijos. Dije, ‘vamos a vivir austeramente, pero que sea para estar con ellos’”, siguió contando la madre. Así ocurrió hasta que perdió el trabajo por una caída de la producción y empezó a trabajar hasta las 5 de la tarde.

Aún así, todos los días llevaba a sus niños a la escuela, a pesar de que la tutora de pedía que no lo hiciese, y cada vez que podía también los recogía. “Yo temía que les pasara algo. Tenía miedo que los secuestraran como se lee en las noticias de Japón o que un carro los atropellara en estas calles. Todos saben que vivía para ellos”, declaró.

La mujer cuidaba tanto de los chicos, que su propia madre le reprochó alguna vez que “era una mamá muy sobreprotectora” y le pedía que los dejara más libres para que aprendieran a defenderse.

Así fue hasta que en marzo de 2013 su niña empezó a tener cambios en su carácter. Además de reservada se volvió aún más distante de su madre, respondía de mal humor y podía pasar días sin bañarse. Todos pensaron que se trataba de cosas de la adolescencia y que necesitaba paciencia.

El primer aviso de que era víctima de ijime (hostigamiento) ocurrió en mayo de 2013. Un grupo de amigas la golpeaba y le exigía que saliera del club de música en donde la peruana aprendía clarinete. La madre presentó una queja y luego aceptó pasarla al club de dibujo.

MIEDO Y LA SALIDA DE FUJINOMIYA

Desde entonces los hechos fueron a peor sin que supuestamente nadie en la escuela lo notara. Cinco niñas japonesas de su misma edad habrían abusado sexualmente de la peruana en un ritual que era filmado y fotografiado.

La madre entiende que su niña soportó todo eso, y en silencio, por temor a que esas personas hicieran daño a su familia. Ella había pedido a su mamá que no mandara a su hermano menor a estudiar a esa escuela.

Ahora, el objetivo es rodear a la pequeña de imágenes que le den seguridad. Su padre, divorciado de su mamá hace algún tiempo, ha vuelto a casa para protegerla. Pidió permiso en el trabajo, aunque ayer fue comunicado de que había sido despedido a pesar de haber explicado su caso al gerente de la empresa.

La presencia del cónsul Cárdenas ayudó decididamente. Tras ello, la niña contó más detalles que ayudarán en la investigación policial. El mismo diplomático trajo a madre e hija el martes hasta Tokio para una consulta con el conocido abogado japonés Kotaro Tanaka.

Aún así el temor y el trauma superan lo soportable. En horas de esta tarde, la madre usumió una acción decidida para salvaguardar la integridad física y psicológica de su familia. Puso en el carro alguna muda de ropa y dejó Fujinomiya con rumbo desconocido por temor. La famosa seguridad de Japón se ha derrumbado para ellos.

“Estamos ahora mismo saliendo de Fujinomiya”, dijo el papá a International Press mientras su ex esposa iba al volante con sus dos niños abordo. Solo volverán cada vez que la policía lo requiera. Quieren justicia. (Luis Álvarez/ipcdigital)
ENDS

SITYS: Japan Times: “Points System” visa of 2012 being overhauled for being too strict; only 700 applicants for 2000 slots

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Hi Blog. When looking through my “Draft” posts (i.e., the ones I put on hold for publication later), I noticed that I forgot to blog this one when it came out. It’s another instance where Debito.org got it right (filed under the category of SITYS, or “See I Told You So”).

When the GOJ came out with its “Points System” in 2012, we said that it would be a failure (actually even before that — in its embryonic stage Debito.org still doomsaid, see here and here), because, as the previous links discuss, a) its standards are awry and too high (even giving no real weight to the NJ who took the trouble to learn Japanese), and b) it is underpinned with an elite arrogance that NJ are beating down the doors to enter rich and safe Japan no matter what (without paving the way for them to be treated equally with Japanese in terms of employment or civil rights). Japan isn’t as attractive a labor market as Japan’s bureaucrats might think, for structural and systemic reasons that Debito.org has been substantiating for decades.  And yes, as the article below substantiates, the “Points System” has failed — less than half the number of people the GOJ was aiming for bothered to apply.

Sorry for the delay in postings these days (I have a monster project that I have to finish up, so blogging has to go on the back burner). Let me just put this post up as a matter of record (I already incorporated the information into my January Japan Times JBC column; see Item 4), and I’ll put something different up tomorrow for discussion. ARUDOU, Debito

////////////////////////////////////
NATIONAL
Initiative fails to lure high-skilled foreigners
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI
The Japan Times, DEC 24, 2013
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/12/24/national/initiative-fails-to-lure-high-skilled-foreigners/

After drawing too few applicants, a government-led initiative to attract “highly skilled foreigners” was overhauled Tuesday by the Justice Ministry.

Started in May 2012, the program is designed to shore up the thinning domestic labor force. Statistics from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research show the population will plunge to about 90 million by 2050 from 127 million at present.

Foreign applicants receive “points” based on such criteria as academic achievement, career background and annual income. More than 70 points earns access to a raft of visa perks, such as the right to work no matter the visa status, visas for parents and housekeepers to care for children, and a fast track to permanent residence. Examples of highly skilled professionals include researchers, university professors, corporate executives and engineers.

While the ministry believed 2,000 foreign residents in Japan a year would qualify, only 700 had applied as of September, immigration bureau official Nobuko Fukuhara said.

The system has been criticized as setting too high a bar for applicants. For example, those under 30 years of age had to earn at least ¥3.4 million annually to qualify, while those over 40 needed to exceed ¥6 million.

With the changes Tuesday, anyone earning over ¥3 million is eligible. The minimum income requirement will be scrapped altogether for academics, who are at a disadvantage due to their relatively lower income.

In another move to help academics, their scholarly achievements will be given more points.

Bonus points will also be added for applicants’ Japanese language skills and experience studying at Japanese schools.

“We’re fully aware just giving foreigners visa perks wouldn’t be such a big incentive for them to come to Japan,” said Fukuhara, who noted Japan needs to adopt more fundamental reforms, such as raising salaries.
ENDS

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

ONE MORE COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  The Coda is maintained at the very end of the article, reinforcing the stereotype that NJ only alight in Japan for money…

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column January 7, 2014: “The empire strikes back: The top issues for NJ in 2013”, with links to sources

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Happy New Year to all Debito.org Readers.  Thank you as always for reading and commenting.  2014 has a few things looming that will affect life for everyone (not just NJ) in Japan, as I allude to in my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column (came out a few days later than usual, since there was no paper on January 2, on January 7, 2014).

Thanks to everyone once again for putting it in the most-read article for the day, once again. Here’s a version with links to sources. Arudou Debito
justbecauseicon.jpg

THE JAPAN TIMES ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
The empire strikes back: the top issues for non-Japanese in 2013
BY ARUDOU Debito
JANUARY 7, 2014
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/01/06/issues/the-empire-strikes-back-the-top-issues-for-non-japanese-in-2013/

Welcome to JBC’s annual countdown of 2013’s top human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan. This year was more complex, as issues that once targeted NJ in specific now affect everyone in general. But here are six major events and five “bubble-unders” for your consideration:

11. Marutei Tsurunen, Japan’s first foreign-born Diet member of European descent, loses his seat (see “Ol’ blue eyes isn’t back: Tsurunen’s tale offers lessons in microcosm for DPJ,” JBC, Aug. 5).

10. Donald Richie, one of the last of the first postwar generation of NJ commentators on Japan, dies aged 88.

9. Beate Sirota Gordon, one of the last living architects of the liberalizing reforms within the postwar Japanese Constitution, dies at 89.

8. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto takes a revisionist stance on Japanese history regarding the wartime sex-slave issue and reveals his camp’s political vulnerability (“By opening up the debate to the real experts, Hashimoto did history a favor,” JBC, June 4).

7. Tokyo wins the 2020 Olympics, strengthening the mandate of Japan’s ruling class and vested construction interests (see “Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan’s resurgent right,” JBC, Sept. 1).

6. Xenophobia taints No. 1 cleanup

The Fukushima debacle has been covered better elsewhere, and assessments of its dangers and probable outcomes are for others to debate. Incontrovertible, however, is that international assistance and expertise (despite this being an international problem) have been rejected due to official xenophobia.

Last January, The New York Times quoted Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director of the Environment Ministry and the man in charge of the cleanup, as saying that foreign technologies were somehow not applicable to Japan (“Even if a method works overseas, the soil in Japan is different, for example”), and that foreigners themselves were menacing (“If we have foreigners roaming around Fukushima, they might scare the old grandmas and granddads there”). Nishiyama resigned several months later, but Fukushima’s ongoing crisis continues to be divisively toxic both in fact and thought.

5. Japan to adopt Hague treaty

As the last holdout in the Group of Eight (G-8) nations yet to sign this important treaty governing the treatment of children after divorces, both houses of the Diet took the positive step in May and June (after years of formal nudging by a dozen countries, and a probable shove from U.S. President Barack Obama last February) of unanimously endorsing the convention, with ratification now possible in 2014.

As reported on previous Community pages, Japanese society condones (both in practice and by dint of its legal registration systems) single-parent families severing all contact with one parent after divorce. In the case of international divorces, add on linguistic and visa hurdles, as well as an unsympathetic family court system and a hostile domestic media (which frequently portrays abducting Japanese mothers as liberating themselves from violent foreign fathers).

The Hague treaty seeks to codify and level the playing field for negotiation, settlement and visitation. However, Japanese legal scholars and grass-roots organizations are trying to un-level things by, among other things, fiddling with definitions of “domestic violence” to include acts that don’t involve physical contact, such as heated arguments (bōgen, or violent language) and even glaring at your partner (nirami). Put simply: Lose your temper (or not; just seethe) and you lose your kids. Thus, the treaty will probably end up as yet another international agreement caveated until it is unenforceable in Japan.

4. Visa regimes get a rethink

Two years ago, domestic bureaucrats and experts held a summit to hammer out some policies towards foreign labor. JBC pointed out flaws in their mindsets then (see “In formulating immigration policy, no seat at the table for non-Japanese,” July 3, 2012), and last year they ate some crow for getting it wrong.

First, a highly touted “points system” for attracting highly skilled workers with visa perks (which JBC argued was unrealistically strict; see “Japan’s revolving-door immigration policy hard-wired to fail,” March 6, 2012) had as of September only had 700 applicants; the government had hoped for 2,000. Last month, the Justice Ministry announced it would relax some requirements. It added, though, that more fundamental reforms, such as raising salaries, were also necessary — once again falling for the stereotype that NJ only alight in Japan for money.

In an even bigger U-turn, in October the government lifted its ban on South American NJ of Japanese descent “returning” to Japan. Those who had taken the repatriation bribes of 2009 (see “Golden parachutes for Nikkei mark failure of race-based policy,” JBC, April 7, 2009), giving up their accumulated welfare benefits and Japanese pensions for an airfare home, were now welcome to return to work — as long as they secured stable employment (as in, a one-year contract) before arrival. Good luck with that.

Again, what’s missing in all this is, for example, any guarantee of a) equal protection under labor and civil law against discrimination, b) equal educational opportunities for their children, and c) an integration and settlement program ensuring that revolving-door visas and tenuous jobs do not continue forever. But the Abe administration has never made a formal immigration plan one of its policy “arrows”; and, with the bigger political priorities discussed below, this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

3. Hate speech turns murderous

This was also the year that the genteel mask of “polite, peace-loving Japan” slipped a bit, with a number of demonstrations across the nation advocating outright hatred and violence towards NJ. “Good Koreans or bad, kill them all,” proclaimed one placard, while another speaker was recorded on video encouraging a “massacre” in a Korean neighborhood of Osaka. An Asahi Shimbun reporter tweeted that anti-Korean goods were being sold on Diet grounds, while xenophobic invective (even rumors of war with China) became normalized within Japan’s salacious tabloids (see here and here).

It got so bad that the otherwise languid silent majority — who generally respond to xenophobia by ignoring it — started attending counterdemonstrations. Even Japan’s courts, loath to take strong stands on issues that might “curb freedom of speech,” formally recognized “hate speech” as an illegal form of racial discrimination in October, and ordered restitution for victims in one case (a Zainichi Korean school) and a year of actual jail time in another (for harassing a company that had used a Korean actress in its advertising).

However, leading politicians offered only lukewarm condemnations of the hatred (Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called it “dishonorable,” months after the fact) and no countermeasures. In fact, in April, Tokyo’s then-governor, Naoki Inose, slagged off fellow Olympic candidate city Istanbul by denigrating Islam — yet Tokyo still got the games.

Meanwhile, people who discussed issues of discrimination in Japan constructively (such as American teacher Miki Dezaki, whose viral YouTube video on the subject cost him his job and resulted in him retreating to a Buddhist monastery for a year) were bullied and sent death threats, courtesy of Japan’s newly labeled legion of anonymous netto uyoku (Internet rightists).

This political camp, as JBC has argued in the past two annual Top 10 lists, is ascendant in Japan as the country swings further to the right. With impressive victories:

2. LDP holds both Diet chambers

In July, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party accomplished its primary goal by chalking up a landslide victory in the Upper House to complement its equally decisive win in the Lower House in December 2012. Then, with virtually no opposition from the left, it got cocky in its deceptiveness.

Shortly after the election, Deputy PM Taro Aso enthused aloud about Nazi Germany’s policymaking tactics, advocating similar stealth for radical constitutional reforms before Japan’s public realizes it. Later it became clear that LDP reform proposals (excising, for example, “Western” conceits of individuality, human rights and a demystified head of state, and replacing them with the duty to “respect” national symbols, the “public interest” and “public order”) might be too difficult to accomplish if laws were actually followed. So off went Abe’s gaijin-handlers on overseas missions (see “Japan brings out the big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.,” JBC, Nov. 6) to announce that reinterpretations of the Constitution’s current wording would resolve pesky postwar restrictions.

Meanwhile, Abe was being rebranded for foreign consumption as a peace-loving “ethnic nationalist” instead of (in JBC’s view) a radical historical revisionist and regional destabilizing force. Not only was his recent visit to controversial Yasukuni Shrine repackaged as a mere pilgrimage to Japan’s version of Arlington National Cemetery, but Japan’s remilitarization was also portrayed as a means to assist America and the world in more effective peacekeeping operations, as seen in Abe’s “human security” and “proactive peace policy” neologisms.

As always, a liberal slathering of “peace” talk helps the munitions go down. Just pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. For curtains are precisely what are being drawn with the passage of:

1. The state secrets law

In a country where most reforms proceed at a glacial pace, the Act on Protection of Specified Secrets took everyone by surprise, moving from the public-debate back burner to established law in mere weeks. We still don’t know what will be designated as a “secret,” although official statements have made it clear it would include information about Fukushima, and could be used to curtail “loud” public rallies by protesters LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba likened to “terrorists.”

We do know that the punishments for leakers, including journalists, will be severe: up to 10 years’ jail for leaking something the government says it doesn’t want leaked, and five for “conspiracy” for attempting to get information even if the investigating party didn’t know it was “secret.” It’s so vague that you can get punished for allegedly “planning” the leak — even before the leak has happened or concrete plans have been made to leak. Although resoundingly condemned by Japan’s media, grass roots and the United Nations, it was too little, too late: Stealth won.

The state secrets law is an unfolding issue, but JBC shares the doomsayers’ view: It will underpin the effort to roll back Japan’s postwar democratic reforms and resurrect a prewar-style society governed by perpetual fear of reprisal, where people even in privileged positions will be forced to double-guess themselves into silence regarding substantiated criticism of The State (see the JT’s best article of the year, “The secret of keeping official secrets secret,” by Noriko Hama, Japanese Perspectives, Nov. 30).

After all, information is power, and whoever controls it can profoundly influence social outcomes. Moreover, this law expands “conspiracy” beyond act and into thought. Japan has a history of “thought police” (tokubetsu kōtō keisatsu) very effectively controlling the public in the name of “maintaining order.” This tradition will be resuscitated when the law comes into force in 2014.

In sum, 2013 saw the enfranchised elite consolidating their power further than has ever been seen in the postwar era, while Japan’s disenfranchised peoples, especially its NJ residents, slipped ever lower down the totem pole, becoming targets of suspicion, fear and loathing.

May this year be a healthy one for you and yours. ARUDOU, Debito

AFP: Asylum-seeker dies after collapsing at J detention center while doctor at lunch

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s another long-standing issue within Japan’s criminal justice system — the two-tiered system of incarceration for foreigners only.  When one is being detained for a violation of Japan’s criminal code, you have prison for those convicted and the daiyou kangoku interrogation centers for those awaiting conviction (and almost everyone (95%) who is indicted under this system confesses to a crime, thanks to the unsupervised and harsh interrogation techniques).  Almost everyone who confesses to a crime (the most-cited figure is >99%) gets convicted and probably goes to prison.  Don’t get arrested in Japan or else this will happen to you.

But then there are the detention centers for foreigners with visa issues who can be incarcerated indefinitely.  This is unlike Japan’s prison system where 1) there are international standards for incarceration, and 2) there is a maximum limit — as in a prison sentence — to the duration for inmates.  Not so Japan’s foreigners.  And not so, as you can see below, Japan’s asylum seekers, where yet another NJ has died in custody due to, the article notes below, lax oversight over the health of their detainees.

I bring this up because this case will no doubt soon be forgotten.  Like the other issues of violenceunsanitary food leading to hunger strikes and suicidesImmigration brutality leading to an uncharged murder of a detainee, and more.  No wonder some people would prefer an overseas refugee camp than come to Japan to languish and perhaps die in a Gaijin Tank.  Best to archive it here as yet another brick in the wall.  Arudou Debito

SEE ALSO:  Johnson, The Japanese Way of Justice (2002), pg. 243.

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

Asylum-seeker dies after collapsing at detention center while doctor at lunch
By Harumi Ozawa. AFP/Japan Today NATIONAL OCT. 25, 2013, courtesy of JK

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/asylum-seeker-dies-at-detention-center-while-doctor-at-lunch

See also http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/27/national/asylum-seeker-dies-in-japan-so-doctor-can-have-lunch-ngo/

An asylum-seeker collapsed and died after staff at a Japanese immigration center failed to call for a medic, allegedly because the doctor was having lunch, a pressure group said Thursday.

Anwar Hussin, a member of Myanmar’s Rohingya ethnic group, fell ill shortly after he was detained on Oct 9, according to People’s Forum on Burma, a Japan-based NGO headed by a Japanese lawyer.

Citing the 57-year-old’s cousin, the group said Hussin had been complaining of a headache all morning and fell unconscious as he began eating lunch in his cell.

Fellow detainees—seven people of different nationalities—called for help because he was vomiting and having spasms, the NGO said.

Detention center staff rejected their requests that a doctor be called, saying Hussin was just “having a seizure” and that the duty medic was on his lunch break, the group said, citing detainees who had spoken to the dead man’s cousin.

A doctor was summoned 51 minutes after Hussin’s collapse, according to a timeline given to his cousin by the center.

Staff made an emergency call four minutes after the doctor’s arrival and 55 minutes after being made aware of the problem, the timeline showed.

Hussin died in hospital on Oct 14, it said.

A spokeswoman for the Tokyo Immigration Bureau said a man in his 50s from Myanmar died of subarachnoid haemorrhage—a stroke—after collapsing in the detention center, confirming the dates given by the pressure group.

But she declined to confirm or deny the claims made by the NGO over how long it took for the doctor to be called.

“We refrain from disclosing details because it concerns private matters,” said the spokeswoman.

“We are aware that some people have complained the man was neglected for some time,” she said, adding the bureau believes staff handled the case appropriately. She said officials had explained the situation to the man’s surviving family in Japan.

The People’s Forum on Burma, which supports democratization of Myanmar and aids refugees from the country when they arrive in Japan, disputes this.

“The bureau did not inform the family of (Hussin’s) hospitalization. It was learnt from other detainees,” said a spokeswoman.

Immigration officials gave few details until two days after Hussin’s death, the spokeswoman said, and then only when his cousin repeatedly pressed them.

Hussin came to Japan in 2006 and made two applications for asylum, both of which were rejected, according to the group, which said he was waiting for the result of his second appeal when he was detained.

The Rohingya—described by the UN as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities—face travel restrictions, forced labor and limited access to health care and education in Myanmar, rights groups say.

Myanmar views its population of roughly 800,000 Muslim Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and denies them citizenship.

It was not immediately possible to independently verify the NGO’s claims over Hussin’s death.

But Shogo Watanabe, the lawyer who leads the NGO, said detention centers were frequently slower than they should be in emergency medical situations.

“This is the result when the country has failed to protect people who need to be protected,” he told AFP.

Hiroka Shoji, of Amnesty International Japan, said it was worrying that immigration staff apparently had power of veto over whether or not a sick detainee should see a doctor.

Japan tightly restricts the number of immigrants and asylum-seekers it accepts.

According to Justice Ministry figures for 2012, 2,545 people applied for asylum, of whom 368 were from Myanmar—the second largest nationality group after the Turkish.

Japan accepted 18 refugees during the year.

Human rights activists, lawyers and migrant communities in Japan have complained for years about harsh treatment by immigration officials and about conditions at detention centers.

A Ghanaian died in 2010 while he was being restrained allegedly by up to 10 immigration officials as they tried to deport him.

Rights activists have claimed he was gagged with a towel, recalling a similar but non-fatal case in 2004 when a female Vietnamese deportee was handcuffed, had her mouth sealed with tape and was rolled up in blankets.

(c) 2013 AFP

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 67 Sept 10 2013 “If you’re jozu and you know it, hold your ground”

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(Debito.org Readers please note:  Debito.org is technically still on break, and I will be slow once again to approve comments.  Please be patient.  Thanks.  Debito)

justbecauseicon.jpg
==================================
IF YOU’RE JOZU AND YOU KNOW IT, HOLD YOUR GROUND
JBC 67 for the Japan Times Community Page, September 10, 2013
By ARUDOU Debito
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/09/09/issues/if-youre-jzu-and-you-know-it-hold-your-ground

It’s been a long, hot summer, so time for a lighter topic for JBC:

A non-Japanese (NJ) friend in Tokyo recently had an interesting experience while out drinking with coworkers. (For the record – and I only say this because how you look profoundly affects how you are treated in Japan – he is a youngish Caucasian-looking male.)

His Japanese literacy is high (which is why he was hired in the first place), but his speaking ability, thanks to watching anime in America from childhood, is even higher — so high, in fact, that his colleagues asked him whether he is part-Japanese!

That kinda harshed his buzz. He wondered how he should respond. Should he abide by Japanese manners and deferentially deny his jouzu-ness? Or accept the praise with a “thank you” and a smile?

I commented that he should not only say thank you and accept the accolades, but also claim the part-Japaneseness. Yes, lie about it.

Why? Because this simple-looking interaction involves several issues, such as social hierarchy, bad science and privacy. And if not handled well, this episode could end up eroding his standing within this group

First, hierarchy: Long-time readers of this column are by now aware that I see most social interactions in terms of power relationships.

Especially in Japan, where just about everything from politeness levels to porn is a matter of power. There is almost always some element of social stratification, e.g., by age, gender, educational level, kohai/senpai status etc. involved.

One’s social standing naturally affects expectations of how people should behave, and what manners one should adopt. But manners get really screwy if NJ are involved.

For example, consider the expectations behind international communication strategies. It’s pretty much axiomatic that NJ who don’t “look Japanese” can’t possibly speak Japanese. NJ must speak and be spoken to English!

Which means that if somebody has the courage to address an NJ (overcoming the group psychosis of English instruction in Japan; see “Don’t blame JET for Japan’s bad English,” JBC Sept. 8, 2010), he will often take it as a personal affront if the NJ defies expectations by clicking into Japanese.

Even if no umbrage is taken, the Japanese-speaking NJ is still treated as deviant. You see that in frequent microaggressive behavior like “hen na gaijin” snipes, or the occasional public figure candidly wishing that “gaijin” weren’t fluent (see “Newscaster regrets anti-foreigner quip”, Asahi Shinbun, Dec. 21, 2006).

That’s one issue. The second is the bad science. Do people seriously believe that having Japanese ancestry makes you better at Japanese?

Actually, many do. But that’s quite unscientific. Admittedly, growing up where people are speaking Japanese around you is helpful for learning what I call “Kitchen Japanese,” i.e., unaccented speech but limited literacy. However, not all people with Japanese blood grow up in a Japanese-language environment, so the connection remains tenuous.

In any case, bloodline doesn’t account for my NJ friend’s Japanese literacy, which rarely happens without structured and disciplined study. He accomplished it, hence the compliments. But the praise is still entangled within a “blood = ability” narrative.

Fact is, Japanese language is a skill, which means it can be learned by anyone able to learn a foreign language, regardless of bloodline or background.

Which leads us to the third issue: privacy. What business was it of my friend’s co-workers to ask about his background?

That’s why he should feel free to lie about it. After all, everyone else in Japan lies about things that are nobody’s business.

Consider the single young lady with the ring on her finger. Ask her where she got it and she’ll probably say she bought it for herself. Even if her kareshi gave it to her last night at the love hotel. Why? Because personal matters are kept private.

Lying is nothing controversial. I’ve talked before about how not telling the truth is a standard practice of adult life in Japan (see “The costly fallout of tatemae and Japan’s culture of deceit,” JBC Nov. 1, 2011).

But in this case, lying might actually do some good. By confounding expectations.

Confounding expectations erodes stereotypes. And an excellent way to do this (as comedians and satirists throughout the ages have done) is by poking fun through absurdity.

Naturally, there will be some resistance. Critics of this column essentially believe that Japanese society can never be satirized, i.e., using humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to criticize societal stupidity and folly. That’s what this column has done for years, engendering howls of “cultural insensitivity” etc.

They’re missing the point of irony and satire within social commentary. Since Japanese humor doesn’t have much sarcasm, avenues are limited for pointing out foibles. Fortunately, you can still be absurd and get your point across.

Let’s play this out. Consider what would happen if my visibly-Caucasian friend were to (falsely) claim Japanese lineage in this setting.

The dogmatists will be pleased to have their expectations confirmed – quite possibly bloodline is the only explanation they’ll accept.
The critical thinkers may pause and say to themselves, “Hang on, really?” And maybe, just maybe, a few will realize that the question is patently absurd, and that blood is irrelevant to learning skills.

But what if my friend instead went the route of humility and showed deferential manners? He’d lose. Because, again, Japanese manners are not applied equally to NJ.

For example, even if a Japanese says, either as a response or a disclaimer, “My language ability is no good,” it is usually taken as pro forma humility. People pretty much know “he’s just saying that” and don’t take it all that literally.

However, if a NJ does it, it reaffirms the narrative and expectation that NJ don’t speak Japanese.

But there are knock-on effects for NJ, especially if they have acted deferentially to their juniors: They’ve cut themselves off at the knees and taken themselves down a rung on the social hierarchy.

Never do that. As I’ve written before (“Toot your own horn – don’t let the modesty scam keep you down,” ZG Sept. 2, 2012), once you drop down a peg, the group is probably not going to give it back. Hierarchy is not only something you earn. It’s something you claim.

After all, most native speakers of Japanese cannot appreciate what non-natives have gone through to reach fluency. As I’ve said before, communicating in Japanese is not all that difficult. What’s difficult is communicating with Japanese people.

You have to get over the Catch-22: People not speaking to you in Japanese because it’s not good enough, yet it’s not getting good enough because people won’t speak to you in Japanese. All the power relations and ingrained prejudices accompanying just about every social interaction work both as a barrier and a subordinator for NJ.

So when complimented, say thank you. You’ve earned it, so own it. And if they ask you to play to their expectations, only do so in a way that is to your advantage. Because it’s only going to get more difficult as you get older, and all the young pups who have trouble accepting NJ as senpai will happily enforce stereotypes, and police you back into the Dumb Gaijin category. Then you will languish as a permanent subordinate, unrecognized for your herculean efforts.

Defy disempowering expectations, or ultimately it will be your expectations – of equal and respected treatment in Japan after all your investments and sacrifices – that are defeated.
ENDS

Yomiuri on “Points System” visa: “Too strict”, few takers, under review by Justice Ministry (which institutionally will never be able to fix it)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  An attempted panacea to Japan’s lack of formal immigration policy floated many moons ago (and discussed here and here) was a “Points System” visa, here to bring “higher-skilled” workers (koudo jinzai).  I critiqued it for its probable failure in the Japan Times here.

The failure has officially happened.  Even the Justice Ministry admits below that the visa regime has attracted few people, and that, as Debito.org has reported before, is because its requirements are too strict.

But to me it’s no wonder it failed.  It’s not merely (as alluded below) an issue of criteria, but rather institutionalized treatment of immigrants.  We saw attitudes towards immigration last summer when ministries debated how immigrants should be treated, and cross-ministerial officials only weakly offered the same old hackneyed conclusions and lessons unlearned:  Privilege granted to Nikkei with the right bloodlines, more attention devoted to how to police NJ than how to make them into Japanese citizens (with their civil and human rights protected), insufficient concern given for assimilation and assistance once NJ come to Japan, and almost no consultation with the NJ who are already in Japan making a life as to what assistance they might need.

This is what happens when you put a people-handling policy solely in the hands of a policing agency (i.e., the Justice Ministry):  Those people being perpetually treated as potential criminals.  There is automatically less focus on what good these people will do and latent suspicion about what harm they might.  It doesn’t help when you also have an administrative regime trying to find any excuse possible to shorten visas and trip immigrants up to “reset the visa clock” for Permanent Residency, through minor administrative infractions (not to mention the fact that changing from your current visa to this “Points System” visa resets your “visa clock” once again).  It’s official ijiwaru, and without a separate ministry (i.e., an Imincho) specifically dedicated configuring immigration or integration into Japanese society, things will not be fixed.  Arudou Debito

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

Few foreigners tempted by points system
August 7, 2013. The Yomiuri Shimbun, courtesy of JK
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000435956

A points-based preferential immigration system expected to attract 2,000 highly skilled foreign professionals to Japan annually accepted only 17 foreigners in its first 11 months, a dismal result that has prompted the government to review the criteria experts have blamed for the low number, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The system was adopted by the government last May to encourage skilled foreigners to take up residence in Japan and help boost Japanese economic growth. It gives these specialists privileges such as a shorter minimum-required period of stay for obtaining permanent residence.

Foreigners doing research at universities and other institutions, those with professional skills and corporate managers are eligible to use the system. They are given points in accordance with such criteria as academic credentials, professional and scholastic achievements and promised annual income.

For instance, a researcher with a doctorate who will work at an academic institution is awarded 30 points, while one with a master’s degree gets 20 points. Applicants who get at least 70 points in total are recognized as “highly skilled professionals” and can receive preferential immigration treatment including the right to acquire permanent residence within five years instead of the normal 10; permission for a spouse to work here; and permission to bring a parent to Japan to help look after the professional’s children.

However, only 17 foreigners were admitted to Japan under the point system between May 2012 and early April this year. This number rose to 434 when foreigners who were already in Japan and successfully applied for the system are added. The total includes 246 from China, 32 from the United States, 19 from India and 16 from South Korea.

In April and May, an expert panel at the Justice Ministry discussed reports that the current criteria were too strict.

One criticism was that the yearly income guideline was based on the salary of company workers, making it difficult for researchers at universities with lower yearly incomes to gain high points. Another was that only applicants with a yearly income of at least 10 million yen are allowed to have a parent accompany them to Japan.

After hearing these reports, the goverment began considering the easing of the criteria. Some possibilities include raising the points given for research papers submitted or patents obtained from the current ceiling of 15 points, shortening the minimum-required period of stay from five years to three for applying for permanent residence, and allowing foreigners on lower yearly incomes to bring an accompanying parent.

These issues will be worked out among the Justice, Foreign and Health, Labor and Welfare ministries, with the government planning to amend the system by year-end.

The government’s policy of increasing the number of foreigners to be admitted into Japan via the points system was specified in its growth strategy compiled in June.

“To help our country win in the global competition for excellent manpower, we’ll review the system and call on universities and companies to make better use of it,” said a senior official at the Justice Ministry, which is in charge of immigration control.

ENDS

TV Tokyo bangumi: “Why did you come to Japan?” interviews NJ arrivals at Narita, reifies mainstream media discourse of NJ as tourists, not residents

mytest

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Hi Blog. Check this out, courtesy of Japan Today:

tvtokyoNJwhatareyoudoinghere
Courtesy http://www.japantoday.com/category/picture-of-the-day/view/what-are-you-doing-here

Submitter JDG argues:
====================================
Saw this story on Japan Today (link): It’s a story about a poster campaign to advertise a TV show where NJ straight off the plane are asked why they came to Japan. In the poster, ‘talent(less)’ J-celebs, and a variety of caricatured NJ are proffering answers (‘maid’ cafes, lolitas, etc).

“I think that there are two ways of looking at this.

“The first is that they are proceeding from the false assumption that all NJ in Japan are visitors who must be here for some uniquely crazy ‘Japanese’ experience that they can’t get at home, and plays into the myth that there are no NJ long term residents who are here because of their jobs, or family connections. Whilst ignorant and not very helpful for understanding the wide variety of NJ identities, it is a common enough mistake for the Japanese to make.

“However, my second thought is that this poster is an inadvertent and unintended insight into a darker aspect of Japanese psychology on the NJ issue. What if we suppose that this poster is not the product of some ignoramus who genuinely knows nothing of NJ realities in Japan, and believes the myth totally? What if this poster simply reflects a more widespread and deep rooted opinion that NJ shouldn’t be living in Japan because they have families or business here? What if the poster is deliberately not offering reasons such as ‘I’m here because I’m on the board or directors of (insert J-company here)’, or ‘I’m here to get my children back’, or ‘I’m here with the IAEA to inspect your reactors’?

“These are exaggerations, of course, but the point that I am making is that this poster in itself is a tool of devision, disenfranchisement, exclusion, subjugation, and othering. All that, and created with a lack of self-awareness in the process? A frightening indicator of the extent to which discrimination is normalized in japanese society.”
====================================

I would concur in particular with the aspect of maintaining the dominant discourse in Japan of NJ as “guests”, i.e., “temporary visitors, not residents”, mixed in with the shades of “Cool Japan” that helps Japanese society revalidate and even fetishize itself through foreigners.

But it’s essential (by definition) that this revalidation message remain positive — as in, “Japan is a nice place that is polite to everyone, especially its guests”. That is one of the positive aspects of “guestism” — hosts don’t get their status quo challenged. After all, why would somebody spend so much money and fly in just to come and bad-mouth the place? It’s a pretty safe and not-at-all-random sampling that will probably match the TV network’s editorial and entertainment conceit.  (And on the off-chance if not, no need to broadcast the views of quite clearly rude people.)

Media enforcement of Guestism has a long history, really. Back in 2009, Debito.org caught NHK asking specifically for NJ guests on its “COOL JAPAN” program “who have lived in Japan for less than one year”, as if they would have more insights on Japan than somebody who has lived in Japan longer. Like, say, for example, participants in the reviled and acclaimed bangumiKOKO GA HEN DA YO, NIHONJIN” (1998-2002; even my fellow plaintiffs and I were allowed to appear regarding the Otaru Onsens Case), which featured diversity of opinion in all its screaming glory, but still allowed NJs to speak in their own words in Japanese.  KKGHDYN was probably the high water mark of Japan’s assimilation of NJ viewpoints into Japan’s generally foreign-resident-free media (one that shuts itself off so effectively from NJ voices in Japan that nearly HALF, i.e., 46%, of all respondents (Japanese, natch) to a recent Cabinet survey didn’t even know that Nikkei Brazilians have been living in Japan on a special visa status for the past two decades!), but after the “foreigner as criminal” GOJ and media blitz of the 2000s, we’re right back to Bubble-Era-and-before attitudes towards NJ in the domestic media.

So in the end, asking people, “So how do you like Japan?” mere minutes after landing is probably within character.  But it’s awful media representation.  Arudou Debito