Archive for the 'United Nations' Category
Issues involving the United Nations, and their comments on what we’re doing regarding immigration, assimilation, and discrimination in Japan.
Posted by debito on 26th November 2012
The UN Human Rights Council has once again prodded Japan to do something to improve its record on human rights (and this time the GOJ, which must submit a report every two years, actually submitted something on time, not eight years overdue as a combined “Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Combined Report”). Here’s how the media reported on their interplay:
Kyodo: A panel under the U.N. Human Rights Council has endorsed some 170 recommendations for Japan to improve its human rights record, including Tokyo’s handling of the so-called comfort women issue, the euphemism for the Imperial army’s wartime sex slaves…
Other recommendations include the safeguarding of Japanese citizens’ right to lead a healthy life, in light of the enormous amount of radioactive fallout spewed over a vast area by the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. The town of Futaba, which found itself in the center of the nuclear storm since it cohosts the wrecked plant, had actively campaigned for the inclusion of this right. The report also called on Japan to abolish the death penalty after more than 20 countries, including prominent EU member states, objected to its continued use of capital punishment.
COMMENT: As you can see in the HRC’s press brief enclosed in this blog entry, once again the GOJ is avoiding the topic of creating a legal framework to protect people against racial discrimination — claiming it’s already forbidden by the Japanese Constitution (but as we’ve stressed here umpteen times, no explicit law in the Civil or Criminal Code means no enforcement of the Constitution). But all the UN HRC seems to be able to do is frown a lot and continue the talk shop. Further, the UN still chooses the word “migrants” over “immigrants”, which makes NJ (and their J children) who need these rights look like they’re only temporary workers — the “blind spot” continues. Meanwhile, Fukushima and the death penalty seem to have sucked all the oxygen out of the debate arena regarding other human rights issues. In this blog entry is an excerpt of what Japan submitted to the HRC for consideration, and a media brief of the HRC’ s recommendations. It’s basically cosmetic changes, open to plenty of bureaucratic case-by-case “discretion”, and amounting to little promise of fundamental systemic or structural changes.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, United Nations | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 4th August 2012
When doing research on how Japan Times columnist Gregory Clark led the Apologist counterattack on criticism of Japan for institutionalized racism (as witnessed at the time by the Ana Bortz Case of 1998-9 and the Otaru Onsens Case of 1999-2005), I discovered that one of his most xenophobic columns, entitled “Problematic Global Standards” of November 1, 1999 (weeks after the Bortz verdict in Shizuoka District Court made clear that racism, none other, existed within these shores) has long been deleted from the Japan Times archive. I think after reading it you might understand why a publisher would be embarrassed for ever publishing it, but deletion is simply not on. I happen to have a hard copy of it in my archives, and upon rereading, it’s easy understand why a publisher would be embarrassed for ever publishing it. But deletion without retraction from a newspaper archive is simply not on. So let’s type it out in full now, so it becomes word-searchable by the search engines for posterity. Bigots, media fabricators, and profiteers like Clark deserve to be hoisted by their own petard.
Clark (1999): No doubt the judge involved saw the U.N. connection as the ultimate in global standards. Many in the media here were equally enthusiastic. Few seem to have considered the corollary, namely that from now on not just the jewelers but anyone in the merchandise business will have to embrace another “global standard” — the one that says they should regard all customers as potential criminals to be welcomed with guns, guards, overhead cameras, and squinty-eyed vigilance.
True, discrimination against foreigners can be unpleasant, and in Japan it includes refusals to rent property. But as often as not, that is because they do not want to obey Japan’s rules and customs. Refusal to respect the culture of a host nation is the worst form of antiforeign discrimination.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Lawsuits, Media, NJ legacies, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, United Nations | 17 Comments »
Posted by debito on 11th February 2012
Speaking of incarceration of NJ under unreviewed circumstances (start here), here is what happens when the GOJ suddenly starts, as encouraged by the United Nations and even domestic think tanks such as JIPI, to actually REVIEW its own rules: They discover that not as many NJ need to be incarcerated. Quite a few of not as many. Very high percentages, even.
Well, how about that. Glad this happened, and got some press too. May it happen more often, so that the NPA and Immigration realize that there are some boundaries to their power of interrogation and incarceration, even if (and especially if) the incarcerated happen to be NJ (who are even, according to here as well as the article below, committing suicide rather than take any more of this inhumane treatment).
Mainichi/Kyodo: The number of foreign nationals detained one year or longer by Japanese immigration officials dropped significantly after a review of procedural rules for a more flexible approach in response to criticisms about the treatment of long-term detainees, data for last year showed… The Japanese government came under fire for its long-term detentions in 2007 by the United Nations, which recommended that detention periods should be limited…
Those who were held for at least one year totaled 47, down sharply from 115 at the end of 2009. The Justice Ministry said it has been actively releasing those who are subject to deportation but it sees no need for holding in custody since July 2010… The number of foreign nationals detained one year or longer by Japanese immigration officials dropped significantly after a review of procedural rules for a more flexible approach in response to criticisms about the treatment of long-term detainees, data for last year showed.
Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, United Nations | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 10th January 2012
AI Report Introduction: Foreign nationals entering Japan may be at risk of ill-treatment by immigration authorities during interrogations at Special Examination Rooms and by private security guards in detention facilities located at Japanese ports of entry, including Narita Airport.
During the period after denial of entry into Japan and before they were issued ”orders to leave” or issued deportation orders, foreign nationals have allegedly been detained in detention facilities located within the airport premises known as Landing Prevention Facilities (LPFs) or at an ”Airport Rest House” outside the airport site. Amnesty International has found evidence of ill-treatment of detainees at LPFs. It forms part of a pattern of arbitrary denial of entry to foreign nationals and systematic detention of those denied entry – a process which falls short of international standards. Amnesty International has received reports of detained foreign nationals being forced to pay for their ”room and board” and for being guarded by private security agencies that operate the LPFs. Foreign nationals have allegedly been strip-searched, beaten or denied food by security guards at these facilities if they have been unwilling to pay. The LPFs have detention cells that have no windows and there have been reports of foreign nationals being detained in these cells for several weeks without sunlight(1)and not being allowed to exercise.
Asylum-seekers have also had their requests for asylum rejected with no or inadequate consideration of the serious risk to their lives they face on deportation. These asylum seekers have been denied access to a fair and satisfactory asylum procedure; they are frequently not allowed access to interpreters and lawyers. Furthermore, they are forced to sign documents in languages they do not understand and of the content of which they have not been adequately informed. These documents may include a document signed by the deportee waiving his or her rights to appeal against decisions made by the immigration officials such as denial of entry into Japan. Amnesty International believes that the lack of access to independent inspections and the secrecy that surround LPFs and other centres of detention in Japan make them fertile ground for human rights abuses. Detained foreign nationals in the LPFs or immigration detention centres are not informed adequately about their rights.In particular, they do not always have prompt access to a lawyer or advice in a language they understand. The Japanese government should recognize the rights of people in detention to information, legal counsel, access to the outside world and adequate medical treatment. Those who had sought to contact United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have had their request turned down. In many cases, detainees at LPFs have been refused medical treatment by staff of security companies and by immigration officials. Decisions and actions of immigration officials and staff of security companies reveal a widespread lack of awareness of international human rights standards.
COMMENT: Sadly, this AI report is now ten years old and underreported; I was alerted to this situation by a journalist who underwent this procedure (including the extortion) over the past year. It’s not merely a matter of turning somebody away at the border — it is in my view a matter of prison screws extracting a perverse satisfaction (as will happen, cf. Zimbardo experiment) by lording it over foreigners, because nobody will stop them. And that’s Narita. I wonder how the situation is at Japan’s other international ports of entry. Sickening.
Posted in Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, United Nations | 6 Comments »
Posted by debito on 16th October 2011
Here we have Japan wanting a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, to help control the agenda and process of review (like any any applicant, especially the venal ones, which is why the HRC was revamped in 2006 after being occupied by some of the world’s most egregious human rights offenders). Applicant Japan promises to treat countries with mutual respect for their history and traditions (read: “I’m okay, you’re okay, so let’s just all get along and not worry about universal standards of human rights — especially as they would be applied to Japan”; there is a long history behind this attitude in the GOJ, see Peek, J. M. 1991. “Japan and the International Bill of Rights.” Journal of Northeast Asian Studies, Fall 1991 10(3): 3-16; and Peek, J. M. 1992, “Japan, The United Nations, and Human Rights.” Asian Survey 32(3): 217-229, read my writeup on Dr. Peek’s findings here).
Note that the GOJ promises to follow the UN’s recommendations for improving domestic human rights (see some of those most recent recommendations here, and decide for yourself how well the GOJ is doing, then read on here to see the plus ca change. Also note what’s missing in their promises: Anything about the Hague Convention on Child Abductions (what with all the abductions after divorce), and of course, anything about passing a law or taking any measures against racial discrimination (despite saying in 2008 that Japan was making “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination“) But that’s tough, you see: We don’t have any other races in Japan that would fall under the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination’s protection, remember; that standpoint remains fundamentally unchanged closing in on 20 years after signing the CERD. Here’s the transcript of how the UN review of Japan’s human rights record went back in February 2010, and what the UN subsequently recommended Japan do back in March 2010 regarding the CERD. Read on to see how they are being studiously ignored in Japan’s pledges below, as usual.
Posted in Discussions, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, United Nations | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 30th May 2011
The government will seek to introduce a system to enable people who claim to be victims of human rights violations to file complaints with the United Nations and other international organizations based on global treaties, sources said Thursday.
Details will be worked out among officials from relevant government bodies, mainly the Justice Ministry and the Foreign Ministry, and the government intends to obtain Cabinet consent on the matter by the end of the year, the sources said.
The individual complaint system is based on international treaties governing the protection of human rights. Under the system, when perceived rights violations are not addressed after an individual has exhausted all possible means under a country’s legal system, the person can file a complaint with certain international organizations. The relevant organization then issues warnings or advisories to the nation if it recognizes the individual’s case as a human rights violation.
After an international organization gives its opinion or recommendation to a signatory nation of the relevant international treaty, the country is asked to investigate the cases based on the international organization’s views and report back to it…
The government is considering accepting the system via Cabinet consent on the following treaties: the
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 13th May 2011
Here’s some news dovetailing with Japan’s unwillingness to abide by international treaty.
Japan, one of the United Nations’ largest financial contributors, has been pushing hard for decades now for a seat on the U.N. Security Council (last time in 2006), effectively to have a place at the table and more powerful voting rights with fellow big, rich, powerful nations. The GOJ has even signed treaties and created domestic laws, according to scholar John M. Peek (see below), just to make it look better internationally, i.e., more like a modern, responsible nation in the international arena. However, after signing these treaties, Japan has been quite constant in its unwillingness to actually create domestic laws to enforce international agreements (cf. the CERD), or when laws are created, they have little to no enforcement power (cf. the Equal Employment Opportunity Law, which has done little after more than a quarter century to ameliorate the wide disparity in wages between men and women in Japan).
The fact is, the GOJ does this stuff for window dressing. Now once it accomplishes its goal of getting an UNSC Seat, it will have no further incentive to sign, abide by, or obey international treaties at all. We have stated this to the United Nations at every opportunity.
Which is why Britain’s sudden turnaround to support Japan’s bid is so eye-blinkingly blind. It seems we are milking our disasters (partially caused by our government’s malfeasance in the first place) to get an international sympathy vote now. How cynical and opportunistic.
Read on for an excerpt of a research paper I wrote citing Dr. Peek above, regarding the GOJ’s history of insincere negotiations vis-a-vis international human-rights agreements. I believe Japan will similarly ratify yet unfollow the Hague Convention on Child Abductions as well. And not even bother to ratify much else once it gets on the UNSC.
Posted in Child Abductions, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, United Nations | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 12th May 2011
In light of Chris Savoie’s U.S. court victory the other day, where his ex-wife was ruled guilty of inter alia false imprisonment of their kids in Japan, let’s look at the bigger picture — whether or not there will be official measures taken to stop this sort of thing happening again. One means is the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, to which Japan is not a signatory, and it shows.
Japan has once again made intimations (see JT article below) that it has plans to not only consider but even perhaps join the Convention, with a schedule of when it will perhaps join being announced this month.
This should be good news, but I’m not hopeful. Japan made similar intimations about joining this Convention more than three years ago (see Asahi article below that), so has clearly been less than keen. Moreover, during the domestic debates since then, lots of other intimations have been made that Japan will sign but will then create domestic laws and other loopholes so it doesn’t have to follow it.
This is within character. Japan has done precisely the same thing with other international agreements, including the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (signed by Japan all the way back in 1995), which has similarly been exceptionalized to the point where we have no national law in the criminal code outlawing or forbidding racial discrimination and hate speech.
The point is, I’m not hopeful. And I’ll say it again: Nobody, Japanese or NJ, should get married to a Japanese and have children under the current system in Japan. Divorce in Japan generally means one parent loses the kids. And I believe that will continue regardless of Japan’s agreeing to the Hague.
Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | 13 Comments »
Posted by debito on 5th January 2011
Director’s Cut with excised text from published version and links to sources:
Top Five for 2010 (plus five honorable mentions):
5) RENHO BECOMES FIRST MULTIETHNIC CABINET MEMBER (June 8 )
4) P.M. KAN APOLOGIZES TO KOREA FOR 1910 ANNEXATION (August 10)
3) TOURIST VISAS EASED FOR CHINA (July 1)
2) NJ PR SUFFRAGE BILL GOES DOWN IN FLAMES (February 27)
1) THE DROP IN THE REGISTERED NJ POPULATION IN 2009
Top Five for 2000-2010 (plus five honorable mentions):
5) THE OTARU ONSENS CASE (1999-2005)
4) ISHIHARA’S SANGOKUJIN RANT (April 9, 2000)
3) THE SECOND KOIZUMI CABINET (2003-2005)
2) THE POLICE CRACKDOWNS ON NJ (1999- present)
1) THE DROP IN THE REGISTERED NJ POPULATION IN 2009
Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Education, Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., Sport, Tourism, United Nations, Unsustainable Japanese Society | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 4th September 2010
Here is my FRANCA report last March delivered to UN Rapporteur Jorge Bustamante, rendered into Japanese (English original from here).
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Human Rights, United Nations, 日本語 | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 4th August 2010
Here we have a report from human rights group IMADR, along with a number of other NGOs, making their case to the UN CERD Committee again about discrimination in Japan. The UN then makes recommendations, and then the GOJ answers once again that those recommendations are unfeasible. It’s the same process that has been going on for decades, my recent research has shown. I’ll share that paper with you when it gets published. Meanwhile, enjoy the circus below.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 4th July 2010
For a Sunday Tangent, here is a hard-hitting article (thanks CNN) showing how activism against a corrupt but entrenched system gets treated: Detention and interrogation of activists, possible sentencing under criminal law, and international bodies turning a blind eye to their own mandate. Lucky for the author (and us) he is out on bail so he could write this. He wouldn’t be bailed if he were NJ. More on the IWC’s corruption in documentary The Cove — yet another reason why the bully boys who target people’s families (yet don’t get arrested for their “activism”) don’t want you to see it.
Sato opens with: After just two days of closed-door negotiations, the leaders who had gathered at the International Whaling Commission in Agadir, Morocco, announced no agreement was reached on the IWC chair’s proposal to improve whale conservation.
Greenpeace did not support the proposal, but we had hoped governments would change it to become an agreement to end whaling, not a recipe for continuing it.
It is particularly disappointing to me, because my professional commitment to end the whale hunt in my country of Japan — which led to the exposure of an embezzlement scandal at the heart of the whaling industry — has come at significant personal cost.
The investigation I conducted with my colleague, Toru Suzuki, led to our arrests in front of banks of media outlets who had been told about it in advance.
The homes of Greenpeace office and staff members were raided. Seventy-five police officers were deployed to handcuff two peaceful activists. We were held without charge for 23 days; questioned for up to 10 hours a day while tied to chairs and without a lawyer present. We are now out on bail awaiting verdict and sentencing, expected in early September.
If I can risk my future to bring the fraudulent Japanese hunt to an end, if whaling whistle-blowers are prepared to risk their lives to expose the corruption, how can it be that the IWC has yet again failed to take the political risk to pressure my government to end the scientific whaling sham?…
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Tangents, United Nations | 18 Comments »
Posted by debito on 3rd July 2010
Here is NGO International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), based in Tokyo, with their periodical in English on the issue. They inter alia are the group who keeps bringing over the UN for briefings (here and here), and have kept various committees appraised of GOJ progress (or mostly lack thereof), and answered GOJ benkai justifying inaction re human rights (example here). Their May 2010 edition talks about the UN’s May 14 visit to hear cases of discrimination in Japan. FYI.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Problematic Foreign Treatment, United Nations | 1 Comment »
Posted by debito on 18th June 2010
Another Debito.org Reader contributes two poignant articles: One is germane to the recent comments here about whether immigration offers economic benefits to societies (an article in The Guardian in 2007 citing a PriceWaterhouseCoopers study indicates that it has for the UK). Another is an evergreen letter to the editor (which went unpublished) about Japan’s historical record advocating anti-racism 90 years ago in the League of Nations.
Guardian: The flow of migrant workers into the UK has boosted economic growth and helped keep a lid on inflation without undermining the jobs of British-born workers, according to a study released [in February 2007]. The report by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers enters a vigorous debate about whether immigration has a positive impact on the UK economy. The public finances have also not suffered as a result of the influx of migrant workers, the study finds. Most migrants are aged between 18 and 34 years, with high employment rates compared with their UK equivalents, and therefore benefit payments are low. They also receive comparatively low wages despite their good education and skills levels. Younger workers have fewer dependants and so are unlikely to be an additional burden on public services, the report says.
League of Nations: Discussions for what should be included in the [League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations] Covenant were not without controversy, notably the following proposal: “The equality of nations being a basic principle of the League of Nations, the High Contracting Parties agree to accord, as soon as possible, to all alien nationals of states members of the League, equal and just treatment in every respect, making no distinction, either in law or fact, on account of their race or nationality.”
Unsurprisingly, Great Britain and its Dominions of Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand saw the proposal as a threat to “white” colonial power and swiftly engineered its rejection … Perhaps surprising, especially to letter writers whose advice to foreign residents with complaints about their lives here is to put up, shut up, or leave, is that the proposal was put forward by Japan’s Foreign Minister Nobuaki Makino.
Posted in History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Tangents, United Nations | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 15th June 2010
Here’s another interesting article from Kansai Scene magazine this month, this time on the issue of refugees and Detention Centers (“Gaijin Tanks”) in Japan. Excerpt:
Joseph isn’t his real name. He’s afraid of what theconse- quences might be if Japanese Immigration finds out that that he is speaking with the press. There’s a chance he would be sent back to the Immigrant Detention Center. His appeal might be denied, which would lead todepor- tation. Deportation means arrest as soon as his plane hits African soil. ‘Arrest’ in his country usually means disappearing forever. He needs to stay in Japan, and to stay here he has to remain invisible. So, he stays invisible.
Historically, Japan has been far from welcoming to refugees. Since 1990, 344 people have been given refugee status. In 2009, only thirty asylum-seekers were accepted, out of 1,388 applicants; an acceptance rate of 2.2 percent. Despite signing the 1951 UN Conventions Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1981 and 1982, respectively, the government essentially keeps the borders closed to the dispossessed, while donating enough money to the UNHCR (UN High Commission for Refugees) to justify their claim to be a humanitarian nation.
The issue, however, is not only the overwhelming denial of applications, but also the total lack of a safety net for those who do arrive on Japanese soil. It is difficult to obtain informa-tion at the airport, and some who try are sent to detention centers or are deported immediately for lack of proper documentation. Because of the language barrier, many new arrivals are unaware that a refugee application process exists at all. They simply overstay their visas until they are caught by immigration and arrested.
The detention centers are essentially prisons. Up to ten people share a room with one toilet. They are each given five blankets for a bed, and one or two hours of exercise a day. Those applying for refugee status are mixed with criminals awaiting deportation. Joseph spent almost a year in the Ibaraki detention center after being arrested for overstaying his visa. It was upon arriving at the center that he first learned of the potential to be declared a refugee, and began the application process. His application was refused within a month, and he started his appeal. In the meantime, he sat in his cell, keeping to himself. “The inmates are chaotic,” he told me. “[They are] from prison and awaiting deportation. They will do anything. They know they are going back.”…
Posted in Exclusionism, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, United Nations | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 7th April 2010
In light of all the above, the Japanese government’s stance towards the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is easily summarized: The Ainu, Ryukyuans and burakumin are citizens, therefore they don’t fall under the CERD because they are protected by the Japanese Constitution. However, the zainichis and newcomers are not citizens, therefore they don’t get protection from the CERD either. Thus, our government effectively argues, the CERD does not cover anyone in Japan.
Well, what about me? Or our children? Are there really no ethnic minorities with Japanese citizenship in Japan?
In conclusion, I would like to thank the U.N. for investigating our cases. On March 16, the CERD Committee issued some very welcome recommendations in its review. However, may I point out that the U.N. still made a glaring oversight.
During the committee’s questioning of Japan last Feb. 24 and 25, very little mention was made of the CERD’s “unenforcement” in Japan’s judiciary and criminal code. Furthermore, almost no mention was made of “Japanese only” signs, the most indefensible violations of the CERD.
Both Japan and the U.N. have a blind spot in how they perceive Japan’s minorities. Newcomers are never couched as residents of or immigrants to Japan, but rather as “foreign migrants.” The unconscious assumption seems to be that 1) foreign migrants have a temporary status in Japan, and 2) Japan has few ethnically diverse Japanese citizens.
Time for an update. Look at me. I am a Japanese. The government put me through a very rigorous and arbitrary test for naturalization, and I passed it. People like me are part of Japan’s future. When the U.N. makes their recommendations, please have them reflect how Japan must face up to its multicultural society. Please recognize us newcomers as a permanent part of the debate.
The Japanese government will not. It says little positive about us, and allows very nasty things to be said by our politicians, policymakers and police. It’s about time we all recognized the good that newcomers are doing for our home, Japan. Please help us.
Posted in Articles & Publications, Speech materials, United Nations | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 31st March 2010
(Debito.org) TOKYO MARCH 31, 2010 — Dr Jorge A. Bustamante, United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants, gave an hourlong press conference at United Nations Information Center, United Nations University, Japan.
Assisted by the International Organization for Migration and Japan’s civil society groups, Dr Bustamante concluded nine days, March 23 to March 30, of a fact-finding mission around Japan, making stops in Tokyo, Yokohama, Hamamatsu, and Toyoda City. He met with representatives of various groups, including Zainichi Koreans, Chinese, Brazilians, Filipinos, women immigrants and their children, “Newcomer” immigrant and migrant Non-Japanese, and veterans of Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers.
He also met with Japanese government representatives, including the ministries of Education, Foreign Affairs, and Justice. He also met with local government officials in Hamamatsu City (including the Hamamatsu “Hello Work “ Unemployment Agency), the mayor of Toyoda City, and others.
He debriefed the Japanese Government today before his press conference.
The press conference can be heard in its entirety, from Dr Bustamante’s entrance to his exit, on the DEBITO.ORG PODCAST MARCH 31, 2010, downloadable from this blog entry. Duration: One hour five minutes. Unedited. I ask a question around minute 40.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Media, Podcasts, United Nations | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 29th March 2010
The Japan Times reported UN Special Rapporteur Bustamante’s interim comments during his current-two-week fact-finding mission to Japan, particularly as pertains to the GOJ visa system that deports people even if it means splitting apart families (cf. the Calderon Noriko Case).
Dr Bustamante takes a very dim view of this:
“It’s going to be made public,” Bustamante told the gathering. “And this, of course, might result in an embarrassment for the government of Japan and therefore certain pressure (will be) put on the government of Japan.”
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Immigration & Assimilation, Injustice, Japanese Government, United Nations | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 27th March 2010
What follows is a speech by Mr RYOM Munsong, read and presented to UN Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants, Dr. Jorge Bustamante, just before I did on March 23 (my speech here). I have offered Debito.org as a space for Japan’s presenting NGOs to release their information to the general reading public. Read on.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Education, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Speech materials, United Nations | 12 Comments »
Posted by debito on 24th March 2010
As you know, as representative of NGO FRANCA I met with Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Dr Jorge A. Bustamante on March 23, 2010. Here’s a briefing:
Starting from 9AM at one of the Diet Lower House meeting rooms, I sat in as Amnesty International Japan and Solidarity with Migrants Japan made their cases about how NJ are being treated badly by the media, the government, and labor policy. Dr Bustamante asked a lot of questions and wanted statistics, particularly about the death rates for migrant workers (we were all surprised; he said that in other developed countries those statistics were available at the government level, something inconceivable to us). After 45 minutes, he went off to meetings with GOJ officials.
We were supposed to meet again for another 45 minutes from 1PM, but Dr Bustamante arrived more than twenty minutes late. (This is a typical GOJ trick so the NGOs get less time; if NGOs go overtime, they become the object of criticism, but if the GOJ goes overtime, nobody complains but the NGOs.) A representative from the Zainichi Koreans, an academic from Korea University (Kodaira, Tokyo) named Mr RYOM Munsong, kept his speech to 12 minutes, I kept mine to twelve as well (we had timers), and mixed our powerpoint with movie and speech.
As far as I went, I was able to squeeze in my full introduction and two of my five bullet issues, then had to skip to the end with the entreaty to not see NJ as “temporary migrant workers” but “immigrants” (read entire speech here). But I was very disappointed that we had virtually no time for Q&A (Dr Bustamante looked tired), and that all that preparation was cut short because we were keeping our promises with the scheduling and the GOJ was not.
Some photos from the proceedings:
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, FRANCA, Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | 18 Comments »
Posted by debito on 19th March 2010
Excerpt: I wish to focus on the situation of peoples of “foreign” origin and appearance, such as White and non-Asian peoples like me, and how we tend to be treated in Japanese society. Put simply, we are not officially registered or even counted sometimes as genuine residents. We are not treated as taxpayers, not protected as consumers, not seen as ethnicities even in the national census. We not even regarded as deserving of the same human rights as Japanese, according to government-sponsored opinion polls and human rights surveys (blue folder items I-1, I-6 and III-6). This view of “foreigner” as “only temporary in Japan” is a blind spot even the United Nations seems to share, but I’ll get that later.
Here is a blue 500-page information folder I will give you after my talk, with primary source materials, articles, reference papers, and testimonials from other people in Japan who would like their voice heard. It will substantiate what I will be saying in summary below.
[...] [I]t is we “Newcomers” who really need the protections of a Japanese law against racial discrimination, because we, the people who are seen because of our skin color as “foreigners” in Japan, are often singled out and targeted for our own special variety of discriminatory treatment.
Here are examples I will talk briefly about now:
1) Discrimination in housing and accommodation
2) Racial Profiling by Japanese Police, through policies officially depicting Non-Japanese as criminals, terrorists, and carriers of infectious disease
3) Refusal to be registered or counted as residents by the Japanese Government
4) “Japanese Only” exclusions in businesses open to the public
5) Objects of unfettered hate speech…
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, FRANCA, GAIJIN HANZAI mag, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Speech materials, United Nations | 25 Comments »
Posted by debito on 18th March 2010
The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Committee just issued its latest recommendations to the GOJ on March 16, stating what Japan should be doing to abide by the treaty they effected nearly a decade and a half ago, in 1996.
Guess what: A lot of it is retread (as they admit) of what the CERD Commitee first recommended in 2001 (when Japan submitted its first report, years late), and Japan still hasn’t done.
To me, unsurprising, but it’s still nice to see the UN more than a little sarcastic towards the GOJ’s egregious and even somewhat obnoxious negligence towards international treaties. For example, when it set the deadline for the GOJ’s answer to these recommendations for January 14, 2013, it wrote:
UN: “Noting that the State party report was considerably overdue, the Committee requests the State party to be mindful of the deadline set for the submission of future reports in order to meet its obligations under the Convention.”
Again, some more juicy quotes, then the full report, with issues germane to Debito.org in boldface. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
7. The Committee notes with concern that insufficient information regarding the concrete measures for the implementation of its previous concluding observations (2001) was provided by the State Party and regrets their overall limited implementation as well as that of the Convention as a whole.
9. The Committee notes the State party’s view that a national anti-discrimination law is not necessary and is concerned about the consequent inability of individuals or groups to seek legal redress for discrimination (art. 2). [meaning under current Japanese law, FRANCA cannot sue the Sumo Association for its recent racist rules counting foreign-born sumo wrestlers as foreign even if they naturalize. Nor will Japan allow class-action lawsuits. The UN says this must change.] The Committee reiterates its recommendation from previous concluding observations (2001) and urges the State party to consider adopting specific legislation to outlaw direct and indirect racial discrimination…
13. [...] The Committee reiterates its view that the prohibition of the dissemination of ideas based upon racial superiority or hatred is compatible with freedom of opinion and expression and in this respect, encourages the State party to examine the need to maintain its reservations to article 4 (a) and (b) of the Convention with a view to reducing their scope and preferably their withdrawal. The Committee recalls that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities, in particular the obligation not to disseminate racist ideas and calls upon the State party once again to take into account the Committee’s general recommendations No. 7 (1985) and No. 15 (1993)…
14. [...] the Committee reiterates its concern from previous concluding observations (2001) that discriminatory statements by public officials persist and regrets the absence of administrative or legal action…
22. (b) [...] the principle of compulsory education is not fully applied to children of foreigners in the State party in conformity with articles 5 (e.v) of the Convention; 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and 13 (2) of the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, all of which Japan is a party;
24. The Committee expresses its concern about cases of difficulty in relations between Japanese and non-Japanese and in particular, cases of race and nationality-based refusals of the right of access to places and services intended for use by the general public, such as restaurants, family public bathhouses, stores and hotels, in violation of article 5 (f) of the Convention (art. 2, 5).
The Committee recommends that the State party counter this generalized attitude through educational activities directed to the population as a whole and that it adopt a national law making illegal the refusal of entry to places open to the public.
29. The Committee encourages the State party to consider making the optional declaration provided for in article 14 of the Convention recognizing the competence of the Committee to receive and consider individual complaints.
Posted in Exclusionism, Good News, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Practical advice, United Nations | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 15th March 2010
What follows is the Table of Contents for an information packet I will be presenting Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Jorge A. Bustamante, who will be visiting Japan and holding hearings on the state of discrimination in Japan. Presented on behalf of our NGO FRANCA (Sendai and Tokyo meetings on Sun Mar 21 and Sat Mar 27 respectively).
It’s a hefty packet of about 500 pages printed off or so, but I will keep a couple of pockets at the back for Debito.org Readers who would like to submit something about discrimination in Japan they think the UN should hear. It can be anonymous, but better would be people who provide contact details about themselves.
Last call for that. Two pages A4 front and back, max (play with the fonts and margins if you like). Please send to email@example.com by NOON JST Thursday March 18, so I can print it on my laser printer and slip it in the back.
Here’s what I’ll be giving as part of an information pack. I haven’t written my 20-minute presentation for March 23 yet, but thanks for all your feedback on that last week, everyone…
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, FRANCA, GAIJIN HANZAI mag, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Hokkaido Toyako G8 Summit 2008, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Speech materials, United Nations | 7 Comments »
Posted by debito on 11th March 2010
I just heard yesterday from NGOs concerned with human rights in Japan that I will be part of a group meeting with Mr Jorge Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, on March 23 in Tokyo.
I will have twenty minutes to make a presentation regarding exclusions of NJ in Japan in violation of UN CERD treaty.
Is there anything you’d like me to say? I already have some ideas here (see Chapter 2). But I’m open to suggestions and feedback. If there is anything you would like me to present him, please send me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please keep submissions concise, under 2 sides of A4 paper (meaning one sheet front and back) when formatted and printed.
To give you some idea of format, I’ve given presentations to UN Rapporteurs before, particularly Dr Doudou Diene back in 2005 and 2006. The archive on that here.
I will of course make the case that the GOJ is being intransigent and unreflective of reality when asserts, again and again, that Japan does not need a law against racial discrimination. And in violation of its international treaty promises.
The floor is open, everyone. Thanks very much for your assistance.
Arudou Debito, Chair, NGO Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (FRANCA)
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Discussions, Exclusionism, FRANCA, Speech materials, United Nations | 34 Comments »
Posted by debito on 10th March 2010
What follows is the full text of the GOJ’s meeting Feb 24-25, 2010, with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, something it faces for review every two years.
Media-digested highlights of this meeting already up on Debito.org here.
Although it was noteworthy for having 14 Japanese delegates from five different ministries (something the UN delegates remarked upon repeatedly), quite frankly, the 2010 session wasn’t much different from the previous two reviews. In that: The CERD Committee tells the GOJ to do something, and the GOJ gives reasons why things can’t change (or offers cosmetic changes as evidence that things are changing; it even cites numerous times the new Hatoyama Government as evidence of change, and as a reason why we can’t say anything conclusive yet about where human rights improvements will happen). The 2008 review was particularly laughable, as it said that Japan was making “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination”. I guess an actual law against racial discrimination isn’t a conceivable measure. As the GOJ delegates say below, it still isn’t. But it is according to the CERD Committee below.
In sum, the biannual to-and-fro has become Grand Kabuki. And while things got bogged down in the standard “minority” questions (Ainu, Ryukyuans, Burakumin, and Zainichis — all worthy causes in themselves, of course), very little time was spent on “Newcomer” minorities, as in, the NJ (or former-NJ) immigrants who are now here long-term. People like me, as in racially-diverse Japanese, aren’t seen as a minority yet, even though we very definitely are by any UN definition. Plus, hardly any time was devoted at all to discussing the “Japanese Only” signs extant throughout Japan for many UN sessions now, the most simple and glaring violation of the CERD yet.
I haven’t the time to critique the whole session text below, but you can look at the 2008 session here (which I did critique) and get much the same idea. I have put certain items of interest to Debito.org in boldface, and here are some pencil-dropping excerpted quotes:
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Education, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Practical advice, United Nations | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 9th March 2010
Here’s a valuable document I unearthed when doing research yesterday. One of the major arguments put forth by nativists seeking to justify discrimination against minorities (or rather, against foreigners in any society) is the argument that foreigners, since they are not citizens, ipso facto don’t have the same rights as citizens, including domestic protections against discrimination. The GOJ has specifically argued this to the United Nations in the past, repeatedly (see for example GOJ 1999, page down to Introduction, section 3). However, the UN, in a clarification of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has made it clear that non-citizens are supposed to be afforded the same protections under the CERD as citizens. To quote the most clear and concise bit:
II. Measures of a general nature
7. Ensure that legislative guarantees against racial discrimination apply to non-citizens regardless of their immigration status, and that the implementation of legislation does not have a discriminatory effect on non-citizens;
This was issued way back in 2004. I’m reading a transcript of the discussions between the GOJ and the CERD Committee review during their review Feb 24-25 2010 (in which it was referred, and even mentioned granting foreigners suffrage not beyond the pale of rights to be granted). I’ll have the full text of that up on Debito.org tomorrow with some highlighting. Meanwhile, enjoy this gem. Something else for the GOJ to ignore.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Practical advice, United Nations | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 1st March 2010
Here we have some preliminary reports coming out of Geneva regarding the UN CERD Committee’s review of Japan’s human rights record vis-a-vis racial discrimination. We have the GOJ claiming no “rampant discrimination”, and stressing that we still need no law against RD for the same old reasons. This despite the rampant discrimination that NGOs are pointing out in independent reports. Read on.
Excerpts: (Kyodo)—Japan does not need laws to combat racial discrimination, a Japanese official said Thursday as Japan’s racism record was examined by the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
“Punitive legislation on racial discrimination may hamper legitimate discourse,” Mitsuko Shino of the Japanese Foreign Ministry told a session in Geneva. “And I don’t think the situation in Japan is one of rampant discrimination, so we will not be examining this now.”…
[UN official] Thornberry particularly criticized Japan’s lack of laws to combat hate speech, saying “in international law, freedom of expression is not unlimited.”
The convention commits states to fight racial discrimination by taking such steps as restricting racist speech and criminalizing membership in racist organizations. Japan has expressed reservations about some of the provisions, which it says go against its commitment to freedom of expression and assembly.
Prior to the review, Japanese nongovernmental organizations presented various examples they say highlight the need for legislative action to fight racism in their country.
“There seems to have been little progress since 2001,” when the last review was held, committee member Regis de Gouttes said. “There is no new legislation, even though in 2001 the committee said prohibiting hate speech is compatible with freedom of expression.”
UPDATES: Correspondence with the UN reveals that the CERD Committee is doing a lot more than Kyodo reports.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Social Science, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | 12 Comments »
Posted by debito on 22nd February 2010
The Government of Japan comes under review this month in Geneva by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. I was invited to submit a chapter for a report to the UN by the NGO Solidarity with Migrants Japan (SMJ) on how Japan is doing with enforcing it.
NGO Report Regarding the Rights of Non-Japanese Nationals, Minorities of Foreign Origins, and Refugees in Japan.
Prepared for the 76th United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Session February 2010
Compiled and published by: Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)
CHAPTER 2 Race and Nationality-based Entrance Refusals at Private and Quasi-Public Establishments By Debito Arudou. Page 7
As I conclude:
“In conclusion, the situation is that in Japan, racial discrimination remains unconstitutional and unlawful under the ICERD, yet not illegal. Japan has had more than a decade since 1996 to pass a criminal law against RD. Its failure to do so can only be interpreted as a clear violation of ICERD Article 2(1): “States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay [emphasis added] a policy of eliminating racial discrimination.” We urge the Committee to make the appropriate advisements to the Japanese government to pass a law against racial discrimination without any further delay.”
Enjoy. Let’s see how the UN and GOJ respond. Here’s how the GOJ responded in 2008 — read and guffaw at their claim that they have taken “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination”.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | 11 Comments »
Posted by debito on 11th February 2010
I have just heard that the United Nations will be coming to visit Japan again in late March to see how she’s doing regarding keeping her promise to eliminate with racial discrimination.
I know for a fact that “Japanese Only” etc. signs and rules are up around Japan in various guises and places of visit. I have been asked to help out giving a tour of these places in the Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, and/or Tokyo areas.
So let me ask Debito.org readers: Do you know of any places open to the public in these areas that explicitly refuse NJ (or those who look like NJ) entry and service? The best places actually have a sign up saying so. If so, please send me (to email@example.com) 1) a snap photo (cellphone ok) of the sign, 2) a snap of the storefront with the sign visible, 3) the name and approximate address of the place and date of photos. I’ll do the rest. Thanks for helping out.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Exclusionism, Good News, Human Rights, United Nations | 19 Comments »
Posted by debito on 12th December 2009
A reporter I really respect, Eric Johnston of the Japan Times, is currently over in Copenhagen covering the COP15 UN Conference on Climate Change. He is maintaining a daily blog on what it’s like to be a scribe in the thick of it. Interesting reading (especially the entry on a day in the life — I’d burn out at that pace long before the conference ended). A nice diversion on a Saturday morning, have a read.
Posted in Media, Tangents, United Nations | 2 Comments »
Posted by debito on 11th December 2009
UN News: The United Nations human rights chief today called on individuals everywhere to consider how they can fight discrimination beginning in their own homes and workplaces, stressing the need to overcome complacency which only contributes to the scourge.
“You cannot defeat discrimination by shutting your eyes to it and hoping that it will go away. Complacency is discrimination’s best friend,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told a news conference in Geneva, ahead of this year’s Human Rights Day.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, United Nations | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 1st December 2009
Japan Times: We are about to start a new decade. This past one has been pretty rotten for NJ residents. Recall the campaigns: Kicked off by Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s “Sankokujin Speech” in 2000, where he called upon the Self-Defense Forces to round up foreigners in the event of a natural disaster, we have had periodic public panics (al-Qaida, SARS, H1N1, the G8 Summits and the World Cup), politicians, police and media bashing foreigners as criminals and terrorists, the reinstitution of fingerprinting, and increased NJ tracking through hotels, workplaces and RFID (radio-frequency identification) “gaijin cards”. In other words, the 2000s saw the public image of NJ converted from “misunderstood outsider” to “social destabilizer”; government surveys even showed that an increasing majority of Japanese think NJ deserve fewer human rights!
Let’s change course. If Hatoyama is as serious as he says he is about putting legislation back in the hands of elected officials, it’s high time to countermand the elite bureaucratic xenophobes that pass for policymakers in Japan. Grant some concessions to non-citizens to make immigration to Japan more attractive.
Otherwise, potential immigrants will just go someplace else. Japan, which will soon drop to third place in the ranking of world economies, will be all the poorer for it.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Labor issues, Practical advice, United Nations | 15 Comments »
Posted by debito on 20th November 2009
Here’s the United Nations CERD Committee giving the Japanese Government its due for its Third through Sixth Report (Japan is supposed to submit a report, on what it’s doing to eliminate domestic racial discrimination, every two years since it became a Signatory in 1996. That should be a total of six times by now; however, it has only submitted twice so far, lumping them together. Hazukashii). These are questions the UN wants answered before its periodic review of Japan in February of next year. Have a look.
We activists have already readied our counterreports for submission to the UN (I was asked some weeks ago to cover refusals of NJ by businesses; I handed in an 800-worder, which I’ll have up here in due course). Let’s see how the GOJ tries to squirm out of it this time (see last time and the time before that here).
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | 1 Comment »
Posted by debito on 4th November 2009
Speaking in Japanese tomorrow, FYI, at Sapporo Gakuin.
Thursday November 5, 2009 1PM. 札幌学院大学法学部公開講座リレー講義「人権・共生・人間の尊重 あらためてその理念と現実を考える」第７回「法の下の平等と在住外国人」。札幌学院大学D202教室にて。
Flyer and Powerpoint included in this blog entry.
Posted in Education, Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Practical advice, Speech materials, United Nations, 日本語 | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 30th September 2009
UNHCR Refugee Film Festival in Tokyo (October 1-8, 2009), bringing 20 feature and
documentary films from around the globe, including several Oscar-nominated movies
about refugees. More info to come on: http://unhcr.refugeefilm.org
Several international and Japanese filmmakers are attending the event.
Posted in Human Rights, Media, United Nations | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 21st September 2009
OTARU ONSENS TAPE (1999-2003) PART ONE
CONTENTS WITH TEACHING NOTES
1) TV ASAHI NEWS STATION on ANA BORTZ DECISION (Nationally broadcast October 12, 1999) (10 minutes). National broadcast. Describes the first court decision regarding racial discrimination in Japan, citing the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the fact that Japan has no law against racial discrimination. Imbedded video and mp4 format for viewing on iPods available.
COMMENT: What’s remarkable about this broadcast is how thoroughly it describes the Bortz Case and the UN CERD. Also the videotape, from Sebido Jewelry Store security cameras in Hamamatsu, showing the owner refusing Ana quite forcefully. It is the most sympathetic broadcast to come out during the Otaru Onsens Case, and unfortunately it would come at the very beginning, before the media really lost the point.
The Ana Bortz Lawsuit would inject new energy into the Otaru Onsens Case (which first started in earnest on September 19, 1999, about a month before), offering positive legal precedent for the onsens to take their signs down. Shortly afterwards, one did (Onsen Panorama). The other two, Onsen Osupa, would take until March 2000 and a lot of beers and making friends with the owner. The last one (in Otaru, at least), Onsen Yunohana would take until January 2001, nearly fifteen months and a lot of events later, on the day that we announced that we would be suing them. Then, and only then, and Yunohana only replaced it with a new set of exclusionary rules. It would take several years to prove this, but these moves would be a losing formula for them in court. More in my book JAPANESE ONLY.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Exclusionism, History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, United Nations, 日本語 | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 19th September 2009
Today is the tenth anniversary of our visit, on September 19, 1999, to “Japanese Only” Yunohana Onsen et al in Otaru, a life-changing event that to this day has not been fully resolved — mainly because we still don’t have a law against racial discrimination in Japan. This situation remains more than 13 years after Japan effecting of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, where it promised to take “all measures, including legislation” to effectively eliminate all forms of RD. And it deserves comment and reflection after years of protests, two books, countless articles, and successful lawsuits against the onsen (albeit not against the negligent City of Otaru).
My thoughts on this day are bittersweet. I know we did the right thing (as Olaf noted, when I called him today, people are still talking about the case), and we had a good outcome in court. But I judge things like this based upon whether or not they could ever happen again. The answer is, unfortunately, yes. After all, all Yunohana Onsen has to do is put up another “Japanese Only” sign and we’d have to take them to court all over again just to get it down. There is no law to stop it, nothing for authorities to enforce. Ten years later, it feels more overdue now than in 1999.
TITLE: THE OTARU ONSENS LAWSUIT: TEN YEARS ON
What has and has not changed regarding human rights for Non-Japanese in Japan…
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, History, Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese Government, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, United Nations | 7 Comments »
Posted by debito on 7th August 2009
Yomiuri describes the political business as usual regarding another facet of human rights in Japan:
A legislator-sponsored bill calling for a revision of the Civil Code in response to CEDAW recommendations has been repeatedly presented to the Diet. But the bill that would delete provisions that discriminate against women has been scrapped every time without in-depth deliberation.
Japan’s failure to ratify the Optional Protocol on the convention on the elimination of discrimination against women also is being questioned by the international community.
The protocol stipulates that a mechanism should be put in place that would allow individual women who have exhausted legal and other avenues available within Japan to report directly to CEDAW to ask them to inquire into alleged human rights violations against them.
As Japan has been repeatedly urged to ratify the protocol, government ministries and agencies concerned have been studying the wisdom of doing so.
However, with many politicians expressing wariness about signing a protocol they say might come into conflict with the principle of independence of the nation’s judiciary, no earnest discussions have yet to take place in the political arena.
Posted in Human Rights, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, United Nations | 15 Comments »
Posted by debito on 23rd July 2009
UN NEWS: 17 July 2009 — Although Japan recognizes the seriousness of the problem of human trafficking within its borders, the East Asian nation must take more concrete action to fight the scourge, an independent United Nations human rights expert said today.
“Human trafficking affects every country of the world, and Japan is clearly affected as a destination country for many of those victims,” said Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, wrapping up a six-day visit to the country.
The majority of trafficking is for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation in Japan, but she pointed out that trafficking for labour exploitation is also cause for great concern.
Posted in Human Rights, Labor issues, United Nations, 日本語 | 8 Comments »
Posted by debito on 17th May 2009
Here’s what happened some weeks ago, regarding how the April UN conference on racism, the Olympics for human rights worldwide, turned into a bit of a fiasco, what with competing interests hijiacking the event. Again. A bit old, but still worth blogging on Debito.org nonetheless, because it shows that what goes on in Japan is comparatively small potatoes, and how our issues are probably not going to get the attention from outside that they should. Pity. Racism is one hard mother to define and defeat.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Tangents, United Nations | 2 Comments »
Posted by debito on 16th May 2009
From two UN News articles: In becoming a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, a country not only takes on greater responsibility for tackling abuses worldwide, but also lays bear its own record for the scrutiny of others, the world body’s top rights official said today…
She noted that critics of the Council point to the fact that among its 47 members are countries with “less-than-pristine” human rights records.
“To those critics I say two things: Is there any country that has a blemish-free record? Human rights violations are not the bane of any particular country or region. And even if such a thing were possible, what impact would a club of the virtuous have on those outside?”
The General Assembly on May 12, 2009, elected 18 countries to serve on the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council for three-year terms starting next month, including – for the first time – Belgium, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Norway and the United States.
The Assembly also re-elected Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Jordan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Uruguay. All 18 members elected today will begin their terms on 19 June.
Posted in Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, United Nations | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 22nd April 2009
Expanding the scope of the fight for human rights beyond Japan’s borders, here’s what’s happening on a macro scale: The UN “Olympics” on human rights (held quite infrequently) has become a right mess, from what I saw of Ahmadinejad’s speech live on CNN Monday night (there was nasty invective marbling whatever salient points he was there to make; generated more heat than light). Here is the UN’s point of view. Doesn’t give me a lot of hope for seeing Japan’s issues as all that urgent.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, United Nations | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 25th January 2009
Two posts from UN NEWS that are tangental but within the pale of Debito.org.
First up is news about the next big human rights summit in Durban, South Africa. The last one was at the beginning of this decade. Those interested in attending (I would, but again, no money) might want to start making plans.
Second, I was asked recently by a friend, “What do you want to see Obama do immediately after taking office?” I answered back with a question, “You mean personally, or big-picture?” Both. “Okay, personally, state publicly that the USA will not support any application by Japan to the UN Security Council until it honors its treaty promises, including passing an enforceable law against racial discrimination.” But that’s easily backburnerable. “But big-picture, I want to see Obama close Guantanamo, that running sore of human-rights abuses that is arguably doing more to encourage anti-American sentiment worldwide than anything else.”
Well, the big-picture was precisely what Obama took steps to do his first working day in office. Bravo. And the UN recognizes it as such.
Posted in Human Rights, Tangents, United Nations | 1 Comment »
Posted by debito on 23rd October 2008
I last reported on this issue here last August 30, when the Japan Times covered it. Long-time readers may find the following guffaw-worthy, from it’s very title: “The third, fourth, fifth and sixth combined periodic report” to the United Nations Human Rights Council — indicating just how late the GOJ is filing a report, on what it’s doing towards the promotion of human rights in Japan, that is actually due every two years.
Then get a load of the bunkum the GOJ reports with a straight face. Most glaring lapse of logic: If the GOJ had taken “every conceivable measure” as it claims in its introduction, that would naturally include a law against racial discrimination, wouldn’t it? Like South Korea did in 2007. But no. And look what happens as a result. Excerpts and critique of the GOJ UN report follow. Dig through it, and you’ll find self-evident weaknesses and contradictory claims throughout.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, United Nations | 7 Comments »
Posted by debito on 30th August 2008
Read and guffaw: “In a new report to the United Nations, the government outlines the situation of ethnic minorities and foreign residents in Japan, claiming it has made “every conceivable” effort over the past several years to eliminate racial discrimination.
“The government has long held that Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality under the law, makes any antidiscrimination legislation superfluous, a point reiterated in the report.
“Japan has taken every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination,” the report’s introduction says, later adding that apartheid is unknown in Japan.”
COMMENT: Entitled “the third, fourth, fifth and sixth combined periodic report” [Japanese pdf, English pdf]–indicating just how late they’re filing a report that is actually due every two years. What bunkum. More on the GOJ’s relationship with the UN here. And more here about how the GOJ seeks input from human rights groups but not really (when they allowed right-wingers to shout down a meeting last year).
Finally, just a point of logic: If the GOJ had taken “every conceivable measure” as it claims below, that would naturally include a law against racial discrimination, wouldn’t it? But no. And look what happens as a result…
Posted in Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, United Nations | 8 Comments »
Posted by debito on 16th July 2008
(iii) Conclusions and/or Recommendations
In the course of the discussion, the following recommendations were made to Japan:
- Consider ratifying/Ratify the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, 1980 (Canada, Netherlands);
- Encourage the continued taking of measures relating to discrimination against women in particular to raise the age of marriage to 18 for women as for men (France);
- Continue to take measures to reduce the incidence of violence against women and children, inter alia, by ensuring that law enforcement officials receive human rights training, and to fund recovery and counselling centres for victims of violence (Canada);
- Continue the efforts to combat trafficking in persons with a special emphasis on women and children (Canada);
- Develop a mechanism to ensure the prompt return of children who have been wrongly removed from or prevented from returning to their habitual place of residence (Canada);
- Prohibit expressly all forms of corporal punishment of children and promote positive and non-violent forms of discipline (Italy);
Posted in Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 2nd June 2008
GOOD NEWS FROM GRASS ROOTS
JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 4
By Arudou Debito, Japan Times June 3, 2008
Reader Rodney in Vancouver recently emailed: “I’ve often found your articles informative and useful, but they tend to take a tone of complaint. Please tell us about some face-to-face, grassroots efforts that have helped make Japanese more considerate and respectful of those who are different.”
Thanks. Yes, my essays sound like “complaints” because I focus on ongoing issues that need redress. That doesn’t mean I don’t see the good news too. Here are 700 words to prove that…
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Good News, Human Rights, Labor issues, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Problematic Foreign Treatment, United Nations | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 25th May 2008
Terrie’s Take: “Two weeks ago, the Japanese government made a notable announcement that may make Japan more compatible with the legal conventions used internationally, and will be of particular benefit to non-Japanese spouses of Japanese. The announcement was that by 2010, Japan would sign the the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, an international legal construct that attempts to deal with the thorny issue of court jurisdiction when children of international marriages are moved cross-border, often by a parent trying to thwart a court ruling in the previous jurisdiction. Currently, Japan is known as a haven for disaffected Japanese spouses who, in getting divorced, abscond with their kids back to Japan. Once in Japan they can dare their foreign spouses to try getting the kids back — something that despite around 13,000 international divorces a year in Japan and more overseas, has NEVER happened…”
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment, United Nations | 6 Comments »
Posted by debito on 22nd May 2008
Here’s what investigating countries at the United Nations are saying about Japan’s human rights record. First, some highlights of what the GOJ itself says it’s doing about following treaties and human rights standards, then other countries respond with a surprising degree of awareness. The biggest issues seem to be the death penalty, human trafficking, and rights for women (with historical issues brought up by neighboring Asian countries), but as far as Debito.org is concerned, there is plenty of attention devoted to issues we’ve been raising all along. Even if Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene’s reports on racism in Japan are mostly being ignored by our government, they certainly are being read by members of the UN. Do try to read parts of the UPR Report with a straight face, as that’s what our government is making a number of risible claims with. I offer links to sections on Debito.org that are at odds with the GOJ’s claims.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, United Nations | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 21st May 2008
Here are two updates on Japan’s human rights behavior being considered for periodic review by the UN Human Rights Council. This is a new activity by the UN after the old Human Rights Commission was disbanded, accused for many years of having the world’s worst human-rights offenders as leaders, there covering up their own abuses. Now under this new organ with the same acronym, everyone is being subject to review once every four years. And according to the press releases below, Japan’s turn came last week. Forwarding primary-source documents to you. Pertinent sections underlined. As it says below, you can also submit documents to the OHCHR if you want about human-rights abuses in Japan. Five pages max, deadline July 14, 2008, email included in this blog entry.
Posted in Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | No Comments »