Archive for the '日本語' Category
Posted by debito on 1st February 2013
We have an interesting case of a Japanese sports player quitting an overseas soccer team claiming “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu). Nakamura Yuuki, formerly of Slovak football club MSK Rimaska Sobota, has been reported in the Japanese press as returning to Japan last September, blogging about his treatment. But look closely. I have included three English-language articles and translated two Japanese articles for comparison
AFP: [...] In an online blog entry dated Wednesday, Nakamura [Yuuki], 25, said he returned to Japan because of racism that had even involved some of his own teammates. “Unfortunately, I have come home because I was subjected to racism at the club I belonged to, Rimavska Sobota, and could not live there any more,” the footballer wrote.
Calling out his name before and after matches, some club supporters raised their middle finger to Nakamura “with a look of furious anger”. “No teammates helped me. There were even some players who joined in (the harassment),” he added. “It wasn’t normal anymore, and the team even received some sort of threats. They cannot be responsible (for my safety), so I came home,” he said.
Submitter AS: Reading through the article and the blog quoted in the article, I can’t find anything that clearly shows racial discrimination. People giving him the finger? With no context, that could mean anything from racial discrimination to thinking he’s a useless player.
COMMENT FROM DEBITO: I just find it interesting the difference in treatment in the media and public argument. Nakamura essentially has a nervous breakdown due to the taunts, and then both the Japanese and overseas media report it as racial discrimination, put it in a larger context, and don’t question Nakamura’s claims. Yet when we get the same kind of jeering in Japan of NJ (Shimizu S-Pulse’s Coach Ghotbi being accused in 2011 by supporters in a banner of being connected to Iranian nuclear weapons; or official-level jeers: Japan’s Ekiden running leagues justifying extra hurdles for NJ athletes by claiming that sports are only interesting for Japanese fans if Japanese win them; or claims by Japan’s rugby union not winning because they have “too many foreign players” (including naturalized Japanese); and how about Tokyo Governor Ishihara’s 2012 remarks about NJ judo Olympians being “beasts” spoiling “Japan’s sport”?), nobody calls it “racial discrimination” in the Japanese press (if the foreign press pay any attention to it at all). Racial discrimination only seems to happen overseas.
Where is FIFA or any other international sports league to decry racism when this sort of thing happens in Japan? Buried in cultural relativism. You can see that even more strongly in the comments to the Japan Today article cited above, which are overwhelmingly sympathetic to Nakamura. I don’t doubt that Nakamura had readjustment problems and decided not to stay because he wasn’t comfortable overseas. But imagine the reaction if a NJ player in the J-League were to quit, justifying it by saying “fans gave me an angry look” or “people gave me the finger”. He’d be told by commenters to grow a pair, and would have bloggers both in English and Japanese questioning not only the veracity of his claims but also his mental stability. That’s not happening in Nakamura’s case. Now why? Are we that programmed to holding Japan to a different standard?
Posted in Cultural Issue, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., Sport, 日本語 | 22 Comments »
Posted by debito on 23rd January 2013
Last November, Debito.org reported that a magazine named Chagurin (sponsored by the PTA and the JA Japan Agricultural lobby, and placed in Elementary Schools nationwide) featured a scare-mongering article entitled “Children within the Poverty Country of America”. This was reported by a NJ resident named Stephanie whose daughter read the article in public school, questioned its contents because she had overseas experience, and was allegedly rebuffed by her teacher with an unquestioning, “It is written so it must be true.”
The contents, which were scanned and featured on Debito.org in full, depicted America as an example of what Japan should not become, and focused on several social problems (such as homelessness, poverty, obesity, non-universal health care, flawed education, and poor diet) which do exist but were largely exaggerated — even in some cases falsified — in the article; moreover with no grounding with comparative social problems in Japan. The author, Tsutsumi Mika (her website here), a bilingual journalist educated in the US who preaches critical thinking in her article’s conclusions, turns out to be someone who cranks out bestselling books in Japanese that don’t apply the same critical thinking to Japan (only to America, as a cautionary tale). I called the Chagurin article “propaganda”, not only because it was sponsored by a Japan Agricultural lobby famous for its dirty media tricks (see here, here and here), but also because it was disseminated to a young audience of sixth graders not yet trained in the critical thinking Tsutsumi so prizes. It followed Robert W. McChesney’s definition of propaganda exactly: “The more people consume your media, the less they’ll know about the subject, and the more they will support government policy.” And it caught them while they’re young.
Even more interesting information about Tsutsumi then came out in Debito.org Reader comments: She is married to a young Dietmember named Kawada Ryuuhei of the Minna No Tou Party; he is an HIV activist who preaches anti-discrimination within Japanese society, yet supports xenophobic arguments regarding revisions to Japan’s Nationality Law (ergo his anti-discrimination sentiments only apply to “Japanese”). They make for an interesting pair, espousing an interestingly self-serving (and un-self-reflective) ideology that defies critical thinking even for fully-grown, mature, and educated adults — especially unbecoming given their life experiences both in overseas societies and in matters of discrimination. (In contrast to what many say about international experience opening up the minds of younger Japanese, these two indicate the opposite effect as they pander to their xenophobic markets.)
That’s the background. The news for today’s blog entry is that Chagurin magazine responded to Stephanie this month, who in November had sent in a complaint letter about the article. Their reply acknowledged some errors within, even incorporated answers from Tsutsumi herself (who didn’t budge in her claims). I will translate it below with comments from Stephanie and myself, and enclose the original text. As Tsutsumi advocates, put on your critical thinking caps as you read it!
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Social Science, Discussions, Education, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 28 Comments »
Posted by debito on 20th December 2012
Submitter Hillary: Today, I was experiencing a problem with my foot; I thought I broke a toe over the weekend. I spoke with a Japanese Teacher of English with whom I work with and she offered to call a clinic in neighbouring Shintoku and accompany me to the clinic after school for treatment. She made the telephone call in Japanese and was advised of their location and hours of business and took down their information. Once we arrived there, she spoke with reception and a man (presumably a doctor) motioned to me, making the “batsu” gesture and said (in Japanese) that the clinic’s system doesn’t allow for the treatment of foreigners because of our inability to understand Japanese. I looked at my colleague for confirmation on what I heard and she looked completely dumbstruck…
COMMENT: I called Keira Seikei Geika Iin first thing in the morning JST on December 18, 2012, and talked to a man who did not give his name. He apologetically confirmed that his institution does not take foreigners. The reason given was a language barrier, and that it might cause “inconvenience” (meiwaku). When asked if this did not constitute discrimination, the answer given was a mere repeat of the meiwaku excuse and apology. When asked about having an interpreter along to resolve any alleged language barrier, the answer became a mantra. I thanked him for his time and that was the end of the conversation.
As part of a long list of “Japanese Only” establishments, which started with bars and bathhouses and has since expanded to restaurants, stores, barber shops, internet cafes, hotels, apartments, and even schools denying NJ service, has now taken the next step — denying NJ medical treatment. If even Japanese hospitals defy the Hippocratic Oath to treat their fellow human beings, what’s next? I have said for at least a decade that unchecked discrimination leads to copycatting and expansion to other business sectors. Now it’s hospitals. What’s next? Supermarkets? And it’s not even the first time I’ve heard of this happening — click here to see the case of a NJ woman in child labor in 2006 being rejected by 5 hospitals seven times.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Human Rights, SITYS, 日本語 | 41 Comments »
Posted by debito on 7th December 2012
As a follow-up to the Debito.org post a few weeks ago on putting trackable chips on all non-citizens, we have the same kind of push happening for Japan’s citizens (as per this old article that got buried in my draft blog posts, sorry) for very different express reasons (except for the oft-claimed “convenience” of those being identified, with the unescapable whiff of policing). That said, note how whenever there is an issue involving the infringement of civil/human rights for “citizens”, there is also an ameliorating push to protect those rights with legislation (see second article below). For “foreigners”, however, all civil, political, and human rights are essentially left to the mandate of the policing Ministry of Justice, which frequently makes a hash of things. But all this public concern over, say, privacy rights (whereas foreigners in Japan have had no guaranteed right to privacy in the Postwar Era, since the creation of the Foreign Registry Law)… Again, it’s one differentiation within Japan’s discourse that alienates Newcomers and Oldcomers, and sets the stage for making disenfranchised exceptions for people who don’t appear to be “Japanese”. Have a think about this dichotomy, and how the GOJ a) normalizes discrimination, while b) ironically tries to foist the same style of rights abrogations on the general public that have been long-tested upon the “gaijin guinea pigs”.
Japan Press: The Noda Cabinet approved bills at its meeting on February 14 that will assign an identification number to every citizen and every company, without regard to concerns over privacy abuse or to apprehensions about the possibility of having to pay more in taxes in order to receive better welfare services. The identification system will collate personal information currently administrated under different programs such as for pension, healthcare, and taxation. The government states that it wants to implement a national ID system in January 2015.
There is now growing concern that such a national identity system could lead to invasion of privacy issues and may also be used to restrict government social security payments. The government claims that a national ID system will provide easier access to social welfare programs for low-income families. If that is the aim, it can use other means to provide benefits. What is the government’s true motive?
Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., 日本語 | 11 Comments »
Posted by debito on 3rd December 2012
I’m very happy to announce that at long last (it takes a number of months to get things through the publishing pipeline), the Second Edition of HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS AND IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN goes on sale in December 2012.
This long-selling bilingual guide to life in Japan, co-authored with legal scrivener Akira Higuchi, has assisted thousands of readers and engendered rave reviews. Its goal has been to assist people to live more stable, secure lives in Japan, and walks the reader through the process of securing a better visa, getting a better job (even start one’s own business), troubleshooting through difficult situations both bureaucratically and interpersonally, establishing one’s finances and arrangements for the next of kin, even giving something back to Japanese society. It is a one-stop guide from arrival in Japan through departure from this mortal coil, and now it has been updated to reflect the changes in the Immigration and registry laws that took place in July 2012. Get ready to get yourself a new copy!
(Oh, and my Japan Times JBC column has been postponed a week due to a major scoop this week that will fill the Community Page…)
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Good News, Handbook for Newcomers, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, Practical advice, 日本語 | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 29th November 2012
Contributor Stephanie: My daughter is a 6th grader at a small country public school here in Hokkaido. Every month they get a magazine called “Chagurin” (I think it may be JA sponsored). Anyways, she looks forward to reading these as they have interesting articles and ideas. But this month in the December issue there is an article called “Hikon Taikoku America no Kodomotachi” [Children of the Poverty Great-Power Country of America]. After reading it she told her teacher she did not think parts of it were true, the teacher said it was written so it is true.
She brought this article home to us and translated it. I am so … what is the word…disappointed, mad…it is just not right that this lady writes an article with so many false statements and big generalizations. There are parts of truth but presented in a negative way.
Basically saying America is not a good place and no matter where you go you will see people living in tents in the parks. Other points — the poorer you are the fatter you are (which implies people are fat because they are poor). The health care is poor and it costs 150.000 yen to get one filling! Because people can not afford this they do not go to the dentist they in turn can not bite right, have interviews or get jobs.
One more thing. If you take a look at the photo with the boy with the “bad teeth” — as soon as I saw this photo I doubted those teeth are real. They remind me way too much of the fake halloween wax costume teeth I always had growing up. I sent the photo to a dental hygienist who has been working in America 20+ years and she said “In my 20+ years I have never seen teeth like these. They look like the fake halloween teeth.” When I write the author of the article I will be asking her for the photographer’s info to clarify the facts behind this photo. I think you can glean more by reading this yourself so I will attach the article, front cover, and back page…
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Food, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 51 Comments »
Posted by debito on 17th November 2012
Archiving something important today: The text of the first law explicitly against (inter alia) racial discrimination in Japan that was passed (and then subsequently UNpassed by a panicky public). Although I have already written about this subject before, let me give you the story in more detail, then finish with the text of the jōrei so it does not disappear from the historical record. The fact that this former law has been removed entirely from the legislative record of Tottori Prefecture’s website is a crime against history, and an unbefitting end to a template of human-rights legislation so needed in Japan. So let me, for the purposes of keeping a record of the casualty of this catastrophic event, blog the entire text of the Ordinance on Debito.org to keep it web searchable. First, however, the background:
On October 12, 2005, after nearly a year of deliberations and amendments, the Tottori Prefectural Assembly approved a human rights ordinance (tottori-ken jinken shingai kyūsai suishin oyobi tetsuzuki ni kansuru jōrei) that would not only financially penalize eight types of human rights violations (including physical abuse, sexual harassment, slander, and discrimination by “race” – including “blood race, ethnicity, creed, gender, social standing, family status, disability, illness, and sexual orientation”), but also set up an investigative panel for deliberations and provide for public exposure of offenders. Going farther than the already-existing Ministry of Justice, Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yōgobu, which has no policing or punitive powers), it could launch investigations, require hearings and written explanations, issue private warnings (making them public if they went ignored), demand compensation for victims, remand cases to the courts, and even recommend cases to prosecutors if they thought there was a crime involved. It also had punitive powers, including fines up to 50,000 yen. Sponsored by Tottori Governor Katayama Yoshihiro, it was to be a trial measure — taking effect on June 1, 2006 and expiring on March 31, 2010. It was a carefully-planned ordinance, created by a committee of 26 people over the course of two years, with input from a lawyer, several academics and human rights activists, and three non-citizen residents. It passed the Tottori Prefectural Assembly by a wide margin: 35-3. However, the counterattack was immediate…
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Social Science, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, History, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 6 Comments »
Posted by debito on 16th October 2012
Debito.org Reader CJ submits the following ZakSPA! page talking about Japan’s genetic internationalization in tabloid style: How “funny” it is to be a “half.” Reading through the articles (enclosed below), I’m of two minds about this. On one hand, it’s good to have the media acknowledging that there are Japanese kids of diverse roots and experiences out there, with some tone of saying how silly it all is that so many people get treated in stereotypical ways (with a “roundtable of halfs” at the end giving their own views on the situation). On the other hand, the level of discourse gets pretty low (“some foreigner talked to me in Narita Airport in English and it was so frightening I felt like crying”), and an opportunity to actually address a serious issue of how Japan has changed is wasted on parts laughing, parts crybabying, parts confirmation that treating people as “different” because they look “different” is a natural, if not inevitable, part of life in Japan. I’ll let Debito.org Readers read for themselves and decide whether this important topic is being broached properly.
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Humor, Immigration & Assimilation, Media, 日本語 | 29 Comments »
Posted by debito on 29th September 2012
Here’s something quite indicative about the conservatives in Japan. As I will be alluding to in my next Japan Times column (due out October 2), there is an emphasis on making sure “hopes and dreams” are part of Japan’s future. Fine, but for Japan’s conservatives, fostering “hopes and dreams” means obliterating things like the shameful bits of Japan’s past (which every country, doing an honest accounting of history, has). For Osaka Mayor Hashimoto (who just launched his ominously-named “Japan Restoration Party”), that means killing off Japan’s only human-rights museum (which, when I visited, had a corner devoted to the Otaru Onsens Case). Because talking about how minorities in Japan combat discrimination against them is just too disruptive of Japan’s “dreamy” national narrative:
Morris-Suzuki: Founded in 1985, Liberty Osaka is Japan’s only human rights museum. It features displays on the history of hisabetsu buraku communities (groups subject to social discrimination), the struggle for women’s rights, and the stories of minority groups such as the indigenous Ainu community and the Korean minority in Japan. An important aspect of the museum is its depiction of these groups, not as helpless victims of discrimination, but rather as active subjects who have fought against discrimination, overcome adversity and helped to create a fairer and better Japanese society. By 2005 more than a million people had visited the Liberty Osaka. (See the museum’s website (Japanese) and (English).)
Today, the museum faces the threat of closure. The Osaka city government has until now provided a crucial part of themuseum’s funding, but the current city government, headed by mayor Hashimoto Tōru, has decided to halt this funding from next year, on the grounds that the museum displays are ‘limited to discrimination and human rights’ and fail to present children with an image of the future full of ‘hopes and dreams’ (Mainichi Shinbun 25 July 2012)
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Social Science, History, Human Rights, Japanese Politics, 日本語 | 22 Comments »
Posted by debito on 14th September 2012
There’s a case that can be made nowadays that Japan is not only in decline, it’s falling back on jingoism (beyond the standard nihonjinron and historical revisionism) to support the image of a Japan that was once better when it had fewer foreigners (or none, which was historically never the case). As my current research (more on this in future) has sought to demonstrate, Japan’s (Postwar, not Prewar, cf. Oguma Eiji) national narrative of “monoculturalism, monoethnicity, and homogeneity” has sponsored an ideological ethnic cleansing of Japan, thanks in part to revolving-door visa regimes and all manner of incentives to make sure that few “visibly foreign” foreigners stay here forever (hence the prioritizing of the Nikkei) for they agitate for more rights as generational residents (consider the visas that can be cancelled or phased out pretty much at government whim; we’ve seen it before with, for example, the Iranians in the late 1990s). And if you ever thought “the next generation of younger Japanese will be more liberal”, we now have Osaka Gov Hashimoro Touru (younger than I) also supporting historical revisionism (see below) and forming the “Japan Restoration Party” (the poignantly and ominously named Nihon Ishin no Kai) on September 12, 2012. With the recent saber-rattling (which nation-states indulge in periodically to draw public attention away from larger social problems, in Japan’s case the issues of nuclear power and the irradiating food chain) and the overblown flaps over the Takeshima/Tokdo and Senkaku/Diaoyu ocean specks, we have an emerging vision of Japan as a remilitarized power in Asia, courtesy of Debito.org Reader JDG. I thought we’d have a discussion about that here. Take a look through the resource materials below and consider whether or not you share the apprehension that I (and some major academics overseas, including Ted Bestor and Harumi Befu, at the very bottom) have about Japan’s future.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 34 Comments »
Posted by debito on 10th August 2012
Yomiuri: Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro (79) said at his regular press conference on August 3, regarding the difficulties the Japanese judo team is having at the London Olympics, “Watching Westerners do judo is like watching beasts fight. An internationalized judo has lost its exquisite charm.” He added, “In Brazil, it’s said that they eat chocolate in their norimaki, but I wouldn’t call that ‘sushi’. It’s a shame that judo has also gone the same way.”
Posted in Bad Social Science, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Sport, 日本語 | 66 Comments »
Posted by debito on 6th July 2012
Sad news. The Suraj Case, which has been covered in various media reproduced here on Debito.org, has wound up as predicted: With the Immigration officers getting off with no indictment and the GOJ getting away with murder (if not negligence leading to homicide while in official custody). Even the Japan Times called his death “brutal”. It’s bad enough when you have a criminal justice system where even citizens are victims of “hostage justice”. It’s another when you can get away with killing somebody during deportation just because they’re foreign. One more brick in the wall to demonstrate that once the Japanese police get your hands on you as a NJ, you don’t stand a Chinaman’s Chance, be it in Japan’s criminal investigations, incarceration systems, jurisprudence and standards of evidence, criminal court, or civil court afterwards. In a word, disgusting.
Mainichi: The Chiba District Public Prosecutors Office decided on July 3 not to indict 10 officers of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau on charges of assault and cruelty resulting in a Ghanaian man’s death when they overpowered him aboard an aircraft. In deciding to drop the case, the Chiba District Public Prosecutors Office said, “There is no causal relationship between the action (by the immigration officers) and the death (of the Ghanaian man), and the action was legitimate.”
Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, 日本語 | 28 Comments »
Posted by debito on 28th June 2012
Following up on my blog post of June 10: “GOJ embryonic policymaking reboot for ‘co-existence with foreigners’”, here is an evaluation of the GOJ’s third meeting of June 15, 2012. I offer summaries of each presenter’s materials below. My overall comment is that despite some fair-to-middling presentation styles (one a bit limply bureaucratic, another full of irrelevant chaff), all of them have their heart in the right place. Two of them I just wanted to hug the presenter afterwards for getting things right all the way down to the proper semantics (of seeing NJ as fellow “resident” with their own sense of “community”; they even overrode the potentially dichotomous “coexistence” meme for seeing NJ as perpetual outsiders to “handle and administrate”, which Japan’s sweaty-handed bureaucrats can never get beyond). How much of this advice will be taken is another issue, but at least the advice is being given. It’s a good Third Act in this political theatre. It’s just a pity the short-sighted bureaucrats almost always get first dibs on agenda setting, with the people who might offer different opinions thrown in later down the line as an afterthought. And there’s still no mention of that law against racial discrimination…
Posted in Cultural Issue, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Practical advice, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 12 Comments »
Posted by debito on 13th June 2012
Making headlines this past week has been the Govinda Mainali Murder Case, a cause celebre I’ve known about for years (thanks to a very active domestic support group with regular mailings in Japanese). It’s come to a head, where DNA evidence has finally cast enough doubt on the evidence behind the conviction (see Yomiuri article immediately below), and it’s come to light (see Japan Times editorial below) that the prosecution withheld (or didn’t bother to have tested) vital evidence from the court (yes, they can do that in Japan) that would have exonerated him. It also put him in double jeopardy, meaning trying him more than once for the same crime (technically illegal, but yes, they can do that in Japan), reversing a not-guilty decision in lower court. As if that wasn’t enough, note the date of the Yomiuri article below stating the negative DNA test (July 2011) — meaning it only took Japan’s criminal justice system about a year for him to finally get his retrial, on top of the 15 years he’s been incarcerated. And after all that, now that it looks like Govinda is going to have his name cleared, Immigration is just going to deport him. The police in Japan are sore losers.
Now, check out the details in Terrie’s Take below, where the plot really thickens because the murder victim, a prostitute in her off-hours, was an employee with TEPCO (yes, that TEPCO) with names of some high-level clients in her address books…
As Terrie Lloyd notes below (as have I in the Japan Times), the already prosecutor-heavy criminal justice system in Japan is even more so if the suspect is a NJ. More and more it looks like Govinda Mainali was actually a patsy for the powerful because he was a convenient foreigner for the Japanese police to pin this on. I’ve already discussed in detail before how Japan’s criminal investigation system is fully stacked against NJ victims (start here with the Scott Kang and Matthew Lacey Cases, then progress to the Suraj Case, where the police have still gotten away with murder). The Govinda Case is yet another case study for everyone to remember for when the NJ are potential perps. Can’t win either way once the Japanese police get their hands on you.
Posted in Good News, Human Rights, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, 日本語 | 35 Comments »
Posted by debito on 10th June 2012
John Morris at H-JAPAN: A committee has been set up within the Cabinet Office of Japan, composed of the vice-ministers of the Cabinet Secretariat, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Ministiry of Law, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Education etc, Health etc, Agricutlure etc, Industry etc, Land etc, Police to investigate and recommend policy on “co-existence with foreigners”. Information on the committee can be found at the following URL:
The documentation provided here gives a very succinct summary of what the government (national level bureaucrats?) of Japan think about “foreigners” here, and how they formulate their perceptions of what the “problems” are, and very vaguely hint at where they see future solutions.
SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS: This is not the first time the organs of the Japanese government have talked about “coexistence with foreigners” (gaikokujin to no kyousei shakai jitsugen), but more likely than not these happen at the local level (cf. the Hamamatsu Sengen, which happened repeatedly from over a decade ago yet was studiously ignored at the national level). Now that discussion on this is taking place at the national, Cabinet level, this is a positive development. However, these meetings (two so far, the first one was less than an hour) at the outset show the hallmarks of so much Japanese policymaking: a biased agenda (with all the normalized invective of “wagakuni” (our country) semantically offsetting those foreigners (who have to “co-exist” with Japanese, not merge into one polity)) regarding the policy treatment of people without any input from the people being treated. Inevitable blind spots, such as an overemphasis on Nikkei and children’s education, are already latent in the materials below. In any case, this is a very interesting and rare view into the dialogs and mindsets behind the creation of public policy re NJ in Japan. More detailed summaries and analysis follow below.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 20 Comments »
Posted by debito on 23rd May 2012
Here we have the Wall Street Journal up to its old tricks: Representing the “Expat” community’s attitudes towards Japan, doing “Japan Real Time” research that is essentially navel-gazing about Japan from a skyscraper window (or a computer screen, as it were).
Even though the reporter, Sarah Berlow, parrots much of the net-researched stuff (courtesy of the GOJ, sharing the same blinkered viewpoint of life in Japan for NJ residents) accurately, check this bit out:
“New residents will instead be given a “residence card” similar to the ones Japanese citizens carry, except for a special marking designating the holder’s nationality.”
Err… wrong. Japanese citizens have no residence cards to carry, as we’ve discussed here on Debito.org for years.
And how about this: “These new changes come as the government attempts to increase this number [of foreigners entering Japan], to an “era of 25 million foreign visitors to Japan” by 2020, a goal established in 2011.”
Err… foreign tourists never had to carry Gaijin Cards in the first place (only people who had to register with residency visas of three months and up), so these changes have no connection and will have no effect. Does Ms. Berlow even have a residency visa in Japan so she might know about this from personal experience? If not, there are whole books on this, ones so easy even the busy-getting-rich-off-their-Expat-packages-and-enjoying-their-Expat-Bubble-Enclaves Expats can read them (cf. HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS), so bone up.
And there is no mention of the RIFD Gaijin Card Chipping for the new “Gaijin Residency Cards” only, something I’ve made a fuss about in the past. Ms. Berlow uses the word “track” in regards to NJ within the article, which is appropriate, for reasons she probably didn’t research enough to anticipate. RFID enables remote tracking of people’s credit card numbers, to begin with.
And with technological advances, as I’ve argued before, it is only a matter of time and degree before it’s capable at long distances — if it’s not already. Don your tinfoil hats, but RFID technology is already being used in military drone guidance systems for long-distance precision targeting. You think the GOJ’s going to abdicate its wet-dream ability to keep physical track of potential foreign “illegal overstayers”, now that it has the ability to RFID chip every foreign resident from now on? Oh well, the “Expats” need not worry. They’re not in Japan forever.
Finally, what’s the reason I’m jumping on the WSJ so much? Because, as I’ve said, they’re up to their old tricks. Don’t forget, it was the WSJ who first broke (and legitimized in English and Japanese) the story about the fictitious “Flyjin” Phenomenon, setting the agenda to tar the NJ who left (or worse, stayed for the stigma). Thus the WSJ’s record of “spoiling things” for NJ in Japan is on par with what critics claim Debito.org does. Sorry, we might not have their media reach or legitimacy, but at least we do better research here, for free. That’s a deal even a non-”Expat” can afford.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Handbook for Newcomers, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, 日本語 | 63 Comments »
Posted by debito on 10th May 2012
Some news on the Japan Child Abductions Issue, where Japan has long set itself up as a safe haven for one parent to abscond with their child following separation or divorce (regardless of whether the marriage was international or domestic), what with no joint custody and no guaranteed child visitation in Japan. Thanks to the Koseki Family Registry system, the divorced couple becomes strangers to each other, and children go on only one parent’s koseki (with the other parent losing all legal title and access to their kids unless the custodial parent approves). In cases of international/intercontinental separation or divorce, the Japanese partner can abduct their child to Japan (since Japan is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, and the Japanese embassy does not enforceably require the permission of both parents to issue a Japanese child a Japanese passport), and that’s it — the kids are gone. Japanese courts have always ruled that the absconder has established “habitual residence” in Japan by dint, so who dares wins. Meanwhile, despite international protests about the GOJ not being a signatory to the Hague, Japan has been dragging its feet for years now on signing (and as I have argued in the past, will probably caveat its way out of enforcing it anyway, as it has done with other treaties (like the CERD and the ICCPR)).
Finally, enough has become enough for sensible people. According to articles below, US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell has once again come out in public making a link between the irony of all the tragedymaking regarding Japanese being kidnapped decades ago by the DPRK (which is indeed a tragedy, yes), yet the lack of tragedy over Japanese still kidnapping international kids. Good. We’ve made that comparison before here on Debito.org, and were roundly condemned by the usual suspects for doing so. (And, as a related tangent, I’ve probably criticized the most by people misquoting me as advocating that foreigners shouldn’t marry Japanese. No, for the record, I’m saying NOBODY, Japanese or NJ, should get married and have children under the insane family law system in Japan; the risks are too great if parents separate).
As per articles below, the Japanese press is of course rallying the public behind the home team via editorial camouflaged as news (it’s hard to discern even what Campbell actually said). It’s even trying to instruct the Japanese public how English is different than Japanese. You see, if a North Korean kidnaps a Japanese, its “abduction” (rachi). But if a Japanese kidnaps an international child, its “tsuresari” (taking along and disappearing). But you see, the English language is inflexible — it only has one word for this action: “abduction”. So it’s all one big “linguistic misunderstanding”. Even though, in either case, abduction is what it is.
And if you really want to take this issue to the next level of linkage, consider this comment from a friend:
“As noted in Wikipedia, “In 1944, the Japanese authorities extended the mobilization of Japanese civilians for labor to the Korean peninsula. Of the 5,400,000 Koreans conscripted, about 670,000 were taken to mainland Japan . . .” And the Japanese have the audacity to complain about 20 or so Japanese abducted to North Korea? The Japanese government should apologize and compensate the 5 million Koreans conscripted 70 years ago before uttering a single word about the actions of North Korea 35 years ago.”
So underlying all of this is an issue of hypocrisy, and now the GOJ is probably going to have to resort to its only real defense when cornered on an issue: agonistic posturing and outrage — trying to derail the issue in favor of maintaining “The Relationship”. People have fallen for this before (after all, the US wants to keep its military bases and its market to sell inter alia weaponry). But I’m not sure this issue is really big enough (I think Masumoto has an inflated sense of his own power) to do that. Let’s keep our eyes on this one, since it’s a good case study of gaiatsu and GOJ policy in the making.
Posted in Child Abductions, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, Good News, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, 日本語 | 14 Comments »
Posted by debito on 7th May 2012
The Japan Times came out with an editorial last Sunday, entitled “Flyjin rather few,” which talked about a recent Tokyo Metropolitan Government survey of NJ in Tokyo, carried out to ascertain how many stayed or left after the disasters of March 2011 and beyond. The survey was trying to see if the “Flyjin” phenomenon really happened, and in doing so, the JT notes, potentially resuscitated the invective of Japanese media and xenophobic pundits branding NJ as deserters.
The JT editorial is a doozy. Not only does it demonstrate that “the vast majority of foreigners in Tokyo stayed right where they were — in Tokyo”, it also castigates the whole thought process behind it: “The survey did little to focus on what can be done to ensure that all residents of Tokyo be given clear information about conditions and constructive advice about what to do in the event a similar disaster strikes in Tokyo in the near future.”
“The ‘flyjin’ issue, besides being a derogatory term, was always a tempest in a teapot. Surveys that find information to help improve communications are important, but it is the actions that follow that really count. The metropolitan government should prepare a means to give all residents of Tokyo, whatever nationality they are, trustworthy information during emergencies so safe, sensible decisions can be made.”
In other words, the JT was easily able to see through the stupid science (e.g., the singling out of NJ, the small sample size, limiting it to Tokyo residents, the lack of clear aim or rigor in methodology, and ultimately its lack of conclusion: “The survey did little to better understand all Tokyoites’ complicated reactions to the crisis.”)
Yet people who should know better, and who should be advocating for the needs of the NJ Communities in Japan, are already citing this survey as somehow indicative. Japan Probe, for example, states that this survey “confirms Post-3/11 “Flyjin” Phenomenon / 25 Percent of Tokyo’s Foreign Residents Fled”, and apparently “deals a major blow to certain bloggers who have claimed that the “flyjin” phenomenon was a myth”.
One of those certain bloggers indeedy would be me. And I gave much harder and rigorous numbers from all of Japan and from the central government and for the entire year, clearly exposing the “Flyjin” phenomenon as myth in my April Japan Times column. Hence, there’s no clearer interpretation of Japan Probe’s conclusion than the will to live in obtuse denial.
But that’s what keeps hatenas hovering around my head. Wouldn’t it be nicer if online resources like Japan Probe (which calls itself “The web’s no.1 source for Japan-related news and entertainment”) would work for the good of the NJ communities it purports to inform? It did do so once upon a time, for example, during the whole GAIJIN HANZAI mook debacle, where Japan Probe was instrumental in helping get the racist magazine on foreign crime off the shelves and the publisher bankrupted. But now, why try so hard, as the Japan Times Editorial above saliently notes, “to exaggerate the extent of foreigners leaving the country and impugn their motives for leaving”?
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, GAIJIN HANZAI mag, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 52 Comments »
Posted by debito on 24th April 2012
I’ve sat on this for more than a year. Now that the whole debate on “granting foreigners suffrage will mean the end of Japan” has probably died down a bit, it’s time that we look back on what happened then, and on the aftermath wrought by people losing their heads.
After the Democratic Party of Japan came to power in 2009, after decades of mostly unbroken and corrupt Liberal Democratic Party rule, there was hope for some new inclusive paradigms vis-a-vis NJ in Japan, one of their smaller party planks was granting NJ (undecided whether NJ would be Permanent Resident or Zainichi Special Permanent Resident) the right to vote in local elections (like other countries do). This, alas, occasioned much protest and alarmist doomsaying about how Japanese society would be ruined by ever enfranchising potentially disloyal foreigners (“They’d concentrate in parts of Japan and secede to China!”, “Kim Jong-Il will now have influence over Japan!”), and suddenly we had regional governments and prefectures passing petitions (seigan) stating that they formally oppose ever giving suffrage to foreigners.
The Tsukuba City Council was no exception, even though Tsukuba in itself is an exceptional city. It has a major international university, a higher-than-average concentration of NJ researchers and academics, a centrally-planned modern showcase living grid with advanced communication networks, and one of Japan’s two foreign-born naturalized citizens (Jon Heese; the other city is Inuyama’s Anthony Bianchi) elected to its city council. Yet Tsukuba, a city designed to be one of those international communities within Japan, was given in December 2010 a petition of NJ suffrage opposition to consider signing and sending off to the DPJ Cabinet. Here’s the draft:
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Japanese Politics, 日本語 | 17 Comments »
Posted by debito on 27th March 2012
In an important decision regarding how Japanese nationality is granted, the Tokyo District Court ruled constitutional on March 23, 2012, that if a person with Japanese blood is born overseas and has another nationality, and if the parents have not registered the child with Japanese authorities within three months of birth, Japanese nationality will be denied.
This fruity ruling is in contrast to the Supreme Court’s June 2008 landmark ruling regarding Japanese-Filipina plaintiffs in a similar situation, where their Japanese nationality would be recognized despite similar bureaucratic registry snafus (as in, Japanese paternity not being recognized within a certain time frame, and if the child was born out of wedlock). That ruling was justified in part by the judges candidly admitting that lack of Japanese nationality would mean clear and present discrimination in Japan towards these people. (In a related note, the GOJ months later declared a “false paternity” panic, and declared countermeasures were necessary; wheels turn slowly within the Japanese judiciary — perhaps this ruling is a countermeasure to keep the Half riffraff out.)
The possibility of discrimination seemed to make no difference in this ruling, as paternity and wedlock don’t seem to be an issue. Place of birth is, meaning this ruling erodes the primacy of Japan’s jus sanguinis (citizenship by blood) conceits in favor somehow of jus soli (citizenship by birthplace).
Granted, Japanese judges are a fruity lot, and District Court rulings are often overturned for their fruitiness (see the McGowan Case, where an African-American plaintiff was refused entry to an eyeglass store by a manager who expressly disliked black people, and the judge said it was unclear that refusal was due to him being black; and the Oita Zainichi Chinese Welfare Case, which tried to rule that foreigners were not eligible for social welfare, despite it being made legal by the Japanese Diet since 1981! — see here also under item six). Let’s hope there is an appeal and this gets taken before a less fruity court.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Lawsuits, 日本語 | 22 Comments »
Posted by debito on 15th March 2012
Mainichi: Some 23 percent of Japan’s top 122 companies are considering employing more foreigners starting from next year, citing plans for overseas expansion as their main incentive, a Mainichi survey has revealed. Sixty-two companies, some 50.8 percent of all firms surveyed, further answered that they are likely to hire more foreign employees in the next 10 years as well. Conversely, 45 companies, or 36.9 percent, answered that their foreign employee numbers will remain unchanged. There were no firms that plan to decrease foreign employment from current figures.
COMMENT: Well, seems that trumpeting that Japanese companies want to hire foreigners is becoming a periodic media thing (the last survey put up on Debito.org was featured in the Asahi back in April 2010). But saying you want something is not news; actually doing it, is. But the lack of job-placement support for NJ graduates of Japanese universities, and the treatment of Michael Woodford (who rose through the ranks to CEO over decades of dedication to the company, only to be sacked for “cultural reasons” in a sea of corruption), do not inspire hope.
Posted in Cultural Issue, Good News, Labor issues, Media, 日本語 | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 9th March 2012
Good news. Congratulations to The Don for getting his Japanese citizenship, and on what looks to be an expedited schedule (of course; the guy is in his ninetieth year!). I think it’s good that an old man can realize his twilight dreams, and take advantage of opportunities that he has clearly earned as a contributor to Japan in the world.
That said, I don’t believe that gives him license to continuously bad-mouth other NJ, whom he yet again essentially accuses of desertion, according to the Asahi article trumpeting the news of his successful application below (translation mine):
“…[Keene] received Japanese Permanent Residency, but after the Great East Japan Earthquake, knowing about the large numbers of foreigners that distanced themselves from Japan, he said, ‘I came to Japan, where I will always stay. I believe in Japan, is what I wanted to broadcast.’”
The Yomiuri adds: Worried over the news that an increasing number of foreigners were leaving the country, Keene made up his mind to permanently live in Japan. “I wanted to endure the hardships with the Japanese, who had taken good care of me, at a difficult time like this,” he said… Starting next month, he will travel by ship to India and Africa for vacation.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, NJ legacies, 日本語 | 25 Comments »
Posted by debito on 29th February 2012
Here we have the biannual report on NJ crime, as always used to justify further prevention and crackdowns on NJ as potential criminals (justifying all manner of NPA budgets and racial profiling). But the news this time is good, in that NJ crime is down. Significantly so.
Good. But here’s the thing: If it’s bad news (i.e., foreign crime goes up), then it gets splashed all over the place and a media panic ensues about a reemergent foreign crime wave. However, when is good news (i.e., foreign crime goes down), one of three things happen:
1) The Japanese police find some way to portray it as a rise,
2) The Japanese media find some way to headline it as a rise (while even, famously, depicting it as a fall in the English headline),
3) They ignore it completely. Foreigners can only ever be news if they’re criminals.
To support this last assertion, look how the above article was featured in the Mainichi online only in English, as a copy of a Kyodo wire. And doing a Google news search in Japanese, (search terms gaikokujin hanzai and the newspaper title), I could not find a similar article on this news on the Mainichi, Asahi, Yomiuri, or Sankei Shimbun sites (search as of February 23, 2012).
Instead, you get Japanese sites, for example Zakzak News below, concurrently and ironically talking about how dangerous Japanese society has become due to foreign crime (despite it going down), and saying how having a “kokumin bangou” to identify all citizens by number is now indispensable (since, as Zakzak says below, foreigners now speak Japanese!!). Fine, have that conversation if you want, but don’t blame it on foreign crime.
This perpetual criminalization of foreigners in Japan is nothing short of hate speech. On an official scale. And you get a regular fit of it twice a year regardless of what NJ residents do (or don’t do).
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, 日本語 | 13 Comments »
Posted by debito on 20th February 2012
To kick off a salvo of blog entries on NJ migration/immigration to Japan, here are two articles from the vernacular press. The first one talks about the MOJ’s institution of a “points system” for future NJ visas, in order to encourage “foreign researchers, doctors, managers and people with specialized knowledge or skills” to come to Japan — with higher value accruing to those with good educational pedigrees, higher salaries, etc. “People with more than 70 points” will be considered “higher-degree people with capabilities” (koudo jinzai), with an annual quota of about 2000 souls. They’ll get special benefits like easier visa conditions for wives and children (something currently reserved for those here on foreign expat packages in the financial markets), and five-year waits for Permanent Residency (instead of the usual ten for those not married to Japanese), and no doubt more. It’s scheduled to start from this Spring.
Fine, let’s have an objective and reviewable system for immigration (or in Japan’s case, just plain old inward migration), but there are two assumptions here, 1) that people are still simply beating a path to Japan now as a matter of course (when by now there are plenty of other rich countries in the region that are better at, say, foreign languages and import infrastructure, not to mention without an irradiated food chain), and 2) a guarantee of things that are fundamental to making a life here without harassment for being different (such as, say, oh, a law against racial discrimination, and checks and balances against a police force that sees racial profiling, street harassment, and even home invasion as part of its mandate). Japan has had plenty of opportunity to take some safeguards against this, and the fact that it won’t yet still wants to get people to live here anyway to offset its demographic crisis is just plain ignorant of reality.
The second article talks about the effects of a society with institutions that aren’t all that friendly or accountable for its excesses — the second drop of the registered NJ population in two years, after a rise over 48 straight years. I talked about this briefly in my January Japan Times column (as one of the Top Ten Human Rights Events for 2011), so for the record, here is a vernacular source. I think, sadly, that people are starting to wise up, and realize that Japan isn’t all that open a place to settle.
Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 36 Comments »
Posted by debito on 17th February 2012
Here we have some naked xenophobia and related intolerance in interpersonal internet auctions. I have heard of numerous cases like these on Japanese internet outlets, where sellers simply refuse to sell to somebody with money if the buyer happens to be bearing money while foreign (and nothing would come of it from moderators). But here’s a report of what one person, Jeff Smith, decided to do about it. As he says, auction forums in Japan need to step up with rules to honor bona fide transactions, because that’s the entire point of money as a means of transaction — it is not foreign currency even if the buyer is foreign. Let’s wait and see what Yahoo Japan decides to do about it, if anything.
Jeff Smith: Something I came upon last night while looking for guitars on Yahoo Auctions, Japan. This individual ignoramus had the nerve to actually write in his or her auction that foreigners would be denied the right to buy said item once found to be foreign, NJ or otherwise: The statement here is as follows in English:
“Winners please be aware of the message I send upon auction close. I will not accept new bidders who do not reply, or people with bad manners. New bidders are to respond within 48 hours, and those that do so will be allowed to pay for the item. In addition, due to troubles that have occurred, I am not accepting any foreign bidders with a score under 30 rating. [This was actually changed this morning, Feb. 15, 2012: originally it said I will accept NO FOREIGN WINNERS, period.] If I find that the winner is a foreigner after the auction ends, I shall void the auction at my convenience.”
Amazed that this person could even have the gall to write in such a manner, I contacted the seller with a message as follows…
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 38 Comments »
Posted by debito on 14th February 2012
Speaking of Japanese media profiteering off NJ by peddling images of them to the public (after in some cases killing them first, e.g., Ichihashi Tatsuya, Sagawa Issei), here we have a quick book review of some author depicting NJ adding to the undercurrent of Japan’s crimes and misdemeanors (N.B., in two articles that are quite different in English and Japanese, as the Mainichi is quite prone to doing). While I haven’t read the book to see if there is any element of, “If these guys had better opportunities in Japan, they might not resort to these trades” (i.e., it’s not because NJ are intrinsically predisposed to criminality, despite what other Japanese media has nakedly asserted), it still panders to the latent NPA-promoted public prejudices of “foreigner as criminal”, sensationalizing the lives of NJ residents in Japan. Pity. There is significantly less media about the regular lawful contributions NJ make to Japanese society. But I guess a book about someone who does his or her day job, brings home the paycheck to put food on the table, spends the weekends playing with the kids, pays taxes on time, and takes on neighborhood association duties, isn’t fodder for selling scads of sensationalism. But I betcha that’s much closer to the “reality” for far more NJ in Japan.
Mainichi: How much do we know about the real lives of Japan’s foreigners? This is the question that Kota Ishii, a spirited non-fiction writer, raises in his new book, “Nippon ikoku kiko — zainichi gaikokujin no kane, seiai, shi” (Journey through foreign Japan: The money, love, sex and death of foreigners in Japan)… Ishii, who has published several books on prostitution, slums and underground businesses in Asia, sheds light this time on different foreign communities in Japan.
The book introduces a South Korean who has conquered the Japanese sex industry by undercutting prices; an Israeli man with an expired visa who pays a Japanese woman to marry him to obtain Japanese nationality; Chinese who flee from the country after obtaining citizenship, and many other examples that portray the reality of “underground” foreign communities in Japan. Because there are so many fake marriages initiated by foreigners in Japan, some international matchmaking companies even provide compensation to victims, Ishii writes.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, GAIJIN HANZAI mag, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, 日本語 | 14 Comments »
Posted by debito on 30th January 2012
In line with the current theme of the GOJ targeting NJ, here’s some idea of just how ignorant Japanese are of what happens to foreigners in Japan, e.g., Gaijin Card Checks. This is an excerpt of a variety show called “Manaberu News” (date unknown, sometime in 2010) discussing new laws to catch illegal aliens in Arizona (permanent carrying of ID and criminal penalties if caught not doing so) signed into law in April 2010, which critics have argued increases the probability of racial profiling and wanton detention of suspects. The show mentions the requirement for foreigners in Arizona to carry ID 24/7, and how they could be arrested for not doing so. We get gasps all around at how “kibishii” this is.
COMMENT: I find this amusing, less because the ditzy Japanese panelists don’t seem to realize that once outside of Japan THEY become foreigners, more because nobody there seems to realize (or, for the purposes of balance in this admittedly short segment, have it pointed out) that this practice of random search with criminal penalties is already standard procedure in Japan. NJ have been profiled this way for at least two generations now, regardless of whether or not they’re tourists!
No shock/horror here except for the ignorance. Most people I’ve ever talked to in Japan (save for bureaucrats and employers of NJ) even know that there’s a Gaijin Card system in existence for tracking and targeting foreigners, not to mention a separate regime for registering (or not registering, as in Juuminhyou) them.
Lack of public awareness of this issue is part of the problem, and it enables the Japanese police, as we have seen on Debito.org, to feel like they can take liberties with their law enforcement as soon as a foreigner is involved. “Do unto others…” should also entail that regular Japanese folk consider what might happen to them if THEY were foreigners (but as this show demonstrates, for many that is simply pin to konai).
Posted in Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., Tourism, 日本語 | 45 Comments »
Posted by debito on 24th January 2012
JT: A Nepalese man died Monday after being assaulted on a street in Osaka early Monday by two men and two women, police said Tuesday. Bishnu Prasad Dhamala, 42, died at a hospital after being attacked in Abeno Ward.
The police said they arrested Hiroki Shiraishi, 21, a tattoo artist, and his acquaintance, Miyoko Shiraishi, 22, at the scene after receiving a report about the assault. The police are looking into the whereabouts of the other two assailants. [who were later arrested in Tokyo] The four and Dhamala are not believed to be acquainted and the police are trying to identify the cause of the incident.
COMMENT: This is clearly a hate crime. It is reportedly a random singling out of a NJ by a group of four J youths who beat him senseless — even dropped a bicycle on his head, smashing his skull on the pavement. Fortunately (after a chase), they have all been arrested, no doubt after the security camera footage (below) made any plausible deniability of the event impossible. (In statements to the police, according to the Japanese media below, one assailant even insinuated that he couldn’t believe he had actually killed a foreigner. Come again? That’s the ultimate in kubetsu plus denial.)
There is little more to be said except that this is hardly an isolated incident. We’ve already mentioned the Scott Kang and Matthew Lacey probable homicides (“probable” only because the NPA essentially refuses to acknowledge that they were outright murders, and stonewalls attempts to release further data that would probably prove things conclusively). But go back a bit, and you’ll find the Herculano Case, where a 14-year-old Brazilian boy named Herculano Reiko Lukocevicius was similarly beaten to death on October 6, 1997 by a Japanese gang in Komaki, Aichi (information about a book on his case is here); he was afforded much less press coverage (I’m glad the Japanese media is on the ball this time, with far more coverage in Japanese than in English). And of course we cannot leave out the Suraj Case, which is even more insidious since his brutal death was at the hands of officialdom (and may be but the tip of the iceberg, given Immigration’s history of ill-treatment of NJ while in detention). And if we stretch the issue even further, how about that recent curious “suicide” of a NJ suspect, accused of murdering two other Taiwanese students, who was somehow allowed to have a knife and sufficient mobility while in NPA custody presumably despite searches? All curious lapses in standard procedure when a NJ is involved.
In sum, I think it is time to retire the myth that Japan is preternaturally “safe”. After all, public maintenance of this myth not only gets in the way of honest accounting, but also makes nationality an issue, as officialdom publicly states that foreigners commit more crime (and therefore, the logic eventually ensues, shouldn’t be here in the first place). Let’s face it: When properly accounted for, reported, and considered without the bias of nationality either of victim or perp, Japan has its fair share of criminal behavior. Therefore people should be careful of being the target of basic covetousness, wanton prejudice and scapegoating, or even just random hatred. After all, Japan has no effective laws to punish the last two (see here and here) if you have the misfortune to be existing while foreign here.
Posted in Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 37 Comments »
Posted by debito on 18th December 2011
J: I think I have an undeniable open-and-shut appeal case in which the courts will most likely overturn an immigration officer’s illegal decline of Permanent Residency. What makes [my] PR decline obviously “illegal” is that the following Law was ignored:
#1 reason for declination is: having committed a crime.
#2 reason for declination is: being financially too poor.
#3 reason for declination is: not being a profit to Japan.
The Law then nicely goes on to state that reason #1 and reason #2 can NOT be used to decline spouses of Japanese citizens. So, this means that if an immigration officer wants to legally decline Permanent Residency to a spouse of a Japanese citizen, he is REQUIRED to claim reason #3. My case is: I’m married to a Japanese citizen (7 years) and yet the immigration officer declined my Permanent Residence using reason #1, “previous conviction” [for a traffic accident].
Followup from J: Whoever wrote the original Law saying that reason #1 and reason #2 can NOT be used to decline spouses of Japanese citizens, their goal was clear: to let foreigners married to Japanese citizens become Permanent Residents, regardless of whether they were convicted criminals, or poor, or both. But then, some bureaucrats within immigration with the opposite goal (limiting PRs) decided to write some new “Guidelines” which say the exact opposite.
These new “Guidelines” (which the Unelected bureaucrats proclaim “trumps” the Laws written by Elected Lawmakers) say that reason #3 includes convictions… Guidelines written by Unelected bureaucrats are REVERSING and TRUMPING the Laws written by Elected Lawmakers, plus let’s remember that these Guidelines are usually secret.
Do the Elected Lawmakers know that their will has been reversed and trumped? Do the Elected Lawmakers know that these new guidelines are in direct conflict with national Laws?
My conversation recently with an immigration official summed it up perfectly, when I read him the Law stating that reason #1 can’t be used against me, he said, “That’s just a law!”
I couldn’t believe it, this officer actually said, in front of his co-workers, “それはただの法律だけ！” His tone was perfectly clear, “WE make the decisions around here, not laws.”
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 31 Comments »
Posted by debito on 6th December 2011
Sometimes it seems to me that rules in Japan are made just to keep people from having fun. For example, cultural conventions hinder swimming after Obon in the south (despite still being jolly hot outside — I’ve been in southern Shikoku in late August and found campsites closed and beaches deserted), and have seen police command the public get out of the ocean in Okinawa (I’m told there are some times of the year when ocean swimming in this semitropical climate is officially frowned upon) on New Year’s Day. We’ve been told we can’t play games (such as chess or euchre) at izakayas by barkeeps; similarly, in a Tokyo “Irish bar” during a JALT conference, we had Irish friends who brought out their pocket instruments to play Irish music, only to be told that it was causing discomfort to the customers (it wasn’t; people were clapping and tapping along), and they had to be quiet in favor of the canned Irish music being piped in. Japan’s frowning on outdoor screens during the World Cup 2002 (unlike in Korea, Japan’s fans had to watch the games within walls) due to alleged traffic control and crime prevention concerns. I’m sure Readers can come up with lots more examples — of anal-retentive people who use their power to summarily prevent public expressions of joy and release (that is, without the socially-accepted cloak of too much alcohol).
Now we have this actually legally-established ban on “dancing without a license” after 1 a.m. I could understand late-night controls on noise etc., but dancing?? Not only that, the cause of dancing is deemed to be foreign in origin. Yeah right, Japanese don’t dance. And when does dancing begin and just tapping out a rhythm end? And when does the accusation, made below, of making the neighbors uncomfortable because foreigners are around end?
Sounds like yet another NPA pretense to raid the “foreigner clubs”. And it isn’t the first time — try 2007′s raid on Hiroshima’s “El Barco” (which let anyone visibly Japanese go and targeted the NJ for Immigration checks) on the charge of dancing violations, and 2009′s Roppongi bar raids and NJ spot urine checks for drugs (which in this case are supposed to require a warrant). So I guess accusations of “dancing” are something that doesn’t involve racial profiling — unless, of course, you say that the foreigners in specific are committing them. As the article below basically does. Arbitrary and capricious.
Tokyo Reporter: The weekend bust of two popular nightclubs within the Gas Panic chain was due to the presence of undesirable foreigners, reports Nikkan Gendai (Nov. 30)… A journalist who covers the adult entertainment industry says the chain of foreigner-frequented bars is popular for those on low budgets, but in recent times police have been taking notice of trouble. “Recently, poorly behaving foreigners from the Middle East and South-East Asia have started showing up,” says the source. “They make others not want to come around, and maybe some neighbors complained.”
Posted in Cultural Issue, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 36 Comments »
Posted by debito on 30th November 2011
Here’s some ghoulish news. According to Yahoo News below in Japanese, there is a biopic in the works on Ichihashi Tatsuya, convicted killer of Lindsay Ann Hawker, coming out next year based upon his book (which we lambasted here on Debito.org last January as publisher profiteering) about his 2 1/2 years on the lam as a fugitive from justice.
Now, movies about killers are nothing new (including ones with overtones of hero worship; consider NATURAL BORN KILLERS), and biopics about Japanese killers (the very good VENGEANCE IS MINE, starring a lean and mean Ogata Ken, I saw back in college) are also out there (even though VENGEANCE, although it tries to analyze the killer’s motivations and mother complex, did not spare the audience of the horrific detail of his murderous activity). Maybe this movie will do the same (even though many of the details of what Ichihashi did to Hawker’s corpse have not been made public). But the article below says that the contents will focus on his life as a fugitive and offer insights into Japan’s low life (such as the day laborer sector of Airin Chiku; cue sympathy for the killer’s hardships?). In any case, I for one see this as just more profiteering. It looks as though this story will be depicted through Ichihashi’s eyes, and there is apparently already quite an online hero cult out there for this creep that the studios would love to cash in upon.
Again, this sort of media event has happened before, but this is altogether too soon — still seems like moviemakers trying to make a fast yen (and an unknown actor trying to make a directorial debut; he talks briefly below about his “feeling of responsibility” towards the victims, but mostly about how the killer’s account fascinates him, so methinks that’s what the flick will focus upon) before Ichihashi fades from public memory. Ick.
Posted in Cultural Issue, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, 日本語 | 24 Comments »
Posted by debito on 27th November 2011
Related to Japan’s future signing of the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, here we have an official report about a public forum held on November 22, 2011 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (something I attended before and incidentally considered a very flawed and biased format). Present were academics, lawyers, the Ministries of Justice, Health and Welfare, Education, Internal Affairs, plus the Cabinet and the National Police Agency.
In the course of discussions about setting up a central agency to handle the enforcement of the Hague, 168 public comments were collected since the end of September and were brought up at this meeting. That report follows in full below, courtesy of TS. A few things I found noteworthy within it:
1) The term LBP (Left-Behind Parent) is now part of the Japanese lexicon.
2) In discussions about the right of both parents to have information about (if not access to) their children, the same old saws about DV (domestic violence, however unclearly defined, and in Japan that matters) came up, and the GOJ is as usual being called in to do something about it (apparently more than just mediate, which the GOJ gets all control-freaky and nanny-state about) — seesawing between the LBP’s right to know about their children and the custodian’s right to be safe from the violent boogeyman ex-spouse. This seesawing was also visible in an even more vague discussion about the GOJ holding onto passports of potential abductors and abductees, except under exceptional circumstances that were mentioned but left undeveloped.
3) The GOJ, regarding contact between LBP and child, plans to “support the respect of visitation rights”, but it also leaves measures vague and expresses caution about doing much of anything, really.
All told, this level of discussion was pretty low. I found little concrete here to sink one’s teeth into regarding advising toward future policies guaranteeing the lynchpins to this discussion: joint custody and guaranteed visitation that goes beyond an hour a two a month. Not to mention return of internationally abducted children to their habitual residence as per the Hague. Others are welcome to read the text below and squeeze out whatever interpretations I may have missed. But given how much duplicity has taken place regarding the rights of LBPs in Japan up until now, I sadly remain unhopeful.
Posted in Child Abductions, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 7 Comments »
Posted by debito on 23rd November 2011
As was reported on Debito.org last October 28 regarding the issue of Japan as safe haven for international child abductions, the US courts looked like they actually might start enforcing their arrest warrants against Japanese child abductors. In this case, against a Japanese woman named Inoue Emiko who reportedly whisked the kid off to Japan despite a US court awarding the father, Moises Garcia, custody. Then Inoue used the time-honored tactic of abducting the kid anyway and getting a Japanese court to award her the kid instead regardless (with a gracious 30-day per year visitation allowed; thanks a heap). Then she presumptuously decided to have her cake and eat it too, coming back to Hawaii last April to renew her Green Card, whereupon the authorities honored the arrest warrant against her and sent her to stand trial in Wisconsin (leaving the kid in limbo with the grandparents in Japan).
Back in October I said that enough is enough, and that the American judiciary should throw the book at her. Well, guess what — they did, and it looks as though the mother will return the child to the custodial father. Bravo! Read on. Let that be a lesson to you, child abductors, and let that be an incentive for Japan to sign the Hague Convention.
Journal Sentinel: [Abducted child] Karina Garcia’s mother agreed in court Monday to have the girl home in Fox Point by Christmas. If she makes it, the 9-year-old would be the first of what advocates say are more than 300 children around the U.S. abducted to Japan in violation of American court orders to be returned through legal intervention. She also could become a poster child for how to solve a growing problem as international marriages increase in the global economy.
The girl’s father, Moises Garcia, was pleased but cautious in talking to reporters after the hearing, where his ex-wife, Emiko Inoue, pleaded no contest to the felony charge of interfering with child custody by other parent. She was found guilty, but a plea agreement could leave her with only a misdemeanor conviction if Karina returns and Inoue completes other conditions.
UPDATE DEC 25 2011: Convicted felon Inoue Emiko returns the child to the father and gets released from the clink. Bravo. And of course, the Japanese media still refuses to use her name in the domestic press. Or even call what she did a crime. Check out the wording below: “arrested on suspicion of taking her 9-year-old daughter to Japan in violation of the father’s parental rights, the father’s lawyer said”. Those pesky lawyers and their allegations; never mind the conviction and sentencing by a judge. She abducts the kid, tries to game the USG by coming back to renew her Green Card, and after all that still has visitation rights in America. All right for some, isn’t it? Try getting this fair a deal in Japan. But again, fairness is not a highly-prized cultural conceit for Team Japanners. Especially when you consider the bias in reporting. The Japanese article claims the daughter “wanted to live in Japan”, but once told of the situation, “went to America to save her mother” according to the very different headline. What a trooper! Especially after being put in this position by her irresponsible mother in the first place!
Posted in Child Abductions, Good News, Lawsuits, Media, 日本語 | 50 Comments »
Posted by debito on 18th November 2011
Yomiuri: The Fukuoka High Court ruled Tuesday that permanent residents in in Japan with foreign nationalities are eligible to receive public welfare assistance, overturning a lower court ruling. The high court accepted an appeal by a 79-year-old woman who is a permanent resident in Japan with Chinese nationality. She filed the lawsuit, claiming that the Oita city government illegally rejected her request for public welfare assistance.
Presiding Judge Hiroshi Koga said in the ruling, “Foreign citizens with permanent residency [in Japan] are legally guaranteed the same status as Japanese citizens who receive the same treatment.” The high court overturned the Oita District Court’s ruling and nullified the Oita city government’s decision not to grant the woman public welfare benefits. According to a lawyer for the plaintiff, it is the nation’s first court ruling to present a legal basis for foreign permanent residents in Japan to receive public welfare benefits.
COMMENT: Okay, that’s good news and a good precedent. Glad they took it away from the denizens of Oita, who as I noted back on Debito.org last November clearly started saying “Chotto…” to the petty bureaucrats, then backtracked within two weeks as the wagons encircled to rule against the alleged foreigner (I would like to hear more about her, i.e., if she is in fact a Zainichi or not — there is a difference between ippan eijuusha and tokubetsu eijuusha, after all, and that will be noted by any legal exceptionalists who want to stop further positive precedent building). But the fact that she’s born here, raised here, speaks Japanese as her native language, and is approaching eighty years of age, yet STILL was denied benefits by heartless bureaucrats, backed up by the judiciary, is more than a bit scary. If this gets appealed to the Supreme Court (after all, the GOJ is a sore loser in court), I hope the judges are in a good mood when they start deliberating. Maybe we should send them sweets.
Posted in Exclusionism, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Lawsuits, 日本語 | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 28th October 2011
Here’s some good news for Left-Behind Parents. The Americans are (unusually, according to the Mainichi and Yomiuri below) enforcing their arrest warrants against Japanese child abductors. In this case, against a Japanese woman who reportedly absconded with the kid off to Japan and, despite a US court awarding the father custody, then used the time-honored tactic of abducting the kid anyway and getting a Japanese court to award her the kid instead regardless (with a gracious 30-day per year visitation allowed; thanks a heap). Then she carelessly decided to have her cake and eat it too, by coming back to the US to renew her Green Card, whereupon the authorities honored the arrest warrant against her, leaving the kid in limbo with the grandparents in Japan.
Not an unusual story (especially since the Japanese media once again refuses to use the word “abduction” in conjunction with any of this — just “taking without permission”; sounds much better), except that the Americans are now finally taking action regarding child abductions to Japan, honoring court decisions despite Japan’s vehemently guarding its safe-haven status for international child abduction.
Let’s see how the Japanese media further spins this; I doubt it’ll run against Team-Japanism. But already the editorial slant in the articles below is that signing the Hague Treaty will (somehow) prevent this, in defiance of all the Japanese safe-haveners that want to either not sign it, or caveat it with DV provisions into meaninglessness. Anyway, throw the book at her. This sort of thing has gone on long enough.
Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, 日本語 | 11 Comments »
Posted by debito on 20th October 2011
Here we have some more GOJ mischief in the works regarding the Fukushima debacle. What follows is a primary-source document from the Minister of the Environment, Division of Waste and Recycle Policy, dated October 7, 2011, addressed to all prefectural waste management department heads.
It concerns disposing of debris from the Tohoku disaster areas in other prefectures, as a follow-up to their communication/”survey” of April 8, 2011, where they asked regional governments to pitch in in dispersing the rubble nationwide. The Education Ministry acknowledges that several prefectures expressed trepidation at spreading radioactive refuse all over the country. Nevertheless, as Tokyo has started undertaking the disposal of the debris, it’s clear the GOJ considers it high time that others did their part (as per the “close cooperation” (genmitsu ni rentai shi) between the Minstry and the regional environmental agencies) to match that effort. It is clear that by the fourth paragraph of the directive below, the Ministry will be moving forward with this policy full steam regardless of regional objections.
The results of the abovementioned April communication/”survey” where local governments balked will not be made public. That is to say, those prefectures who balked at taking radiation into their area will not be named [after all, we don't want NIMBY citizens rallying behind their local representatives that are clearly antipathetic towards GOJ policy].
COMMENT FROM DEBITO: I had heard about this months ago (a rumor that toxic waste from Fukushima was being delivered to my nearby garbage incinerator in Hassamu, Sapporo), but lacked enough evidence to say much at the time. Now we have documented proof that the Japanese government (the Environment Ministry, no less) is taking steps to pressure local governments nationwide into swallowing their fair share of the radiation. Why does this debris have to be carted around the country? Not only could it contaminate the entire nation, it will also shield the nuclear power industry from criticism and responsibility — as it will make it harder to link radiation to the cause of any future sickness or death if casualties are not limited to the Fukushima area. Having the national government shove this down the local governments’ throats is one thing, but the sheer venality, nay, flat-out evil of this kind of policy is staggering.
Just in case you think this may be a hoax, see the Chunichi Shinbun of October 15, 2011 (reprinted below) acknowledging this dispersal is exactly what’s happening, with the local governments (in this case, Aichi-ken) refusing to make public how much debris they’re disposing of.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Tangents, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 26 Comments »
Posted by debito on 18th October 2011
The Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare Ministry has issued a directive, written by the Education Ministry’s Department of Life Sciences, Bureau for the Promotion of Research, to all related research industries, universities, and tertiary-education associations regarding health surveys and research conducted within the Tohoku disaster area.
Dated May 15, 2011, a little more than two months after the tsunami, the directive (full Japanese text below) essentially tells academic researchers 1) there are “ethical guidelines” (rinri shishin) for epidemiologists to follow, and that research guidelines must be passed by ethics committees and approved by their research institution’s head; 2) these health surveys and research must also sufficiently (juubun) be run by the local governments (jichitai) in the disaster areas beforehand, and afterwards the results of the research (if I’m reading this odd and rather vague sentence right) must “take into due consideration” (hairyo) the disaster victims and the appropriate systems providing them health and welfare (better translations welcome); 3) in order to not to cause any undue stress to the disaster victims, health surveys and research must avoid repetition by “not surveying and researching in more detail than necessary”, and with sufficient understanding of the situation on the ground.
Well, it might sound sensible at first read. But given the history of lack of accurate and timely information being issued by the Japanese authorities concerning the whole Fukushima debacle, there is another way to read this ministerial directive: 1) All research must be tracked and approved by somebody above you in the research workplace, 2) All research must be tracked by the local governments and health departments before and after, and 3) All research must not ask too many questions.
The point is, in the name of “ethics”, the government is inserting veto gates into what might become research independent of the GOJ, and making sure that information tracked before and afterwards stays under central control. Which means, in practice, that if there are research lines or inquiries or results unpalatable to the GOJ, they might not be seen by the public.
My read of this document is that this is primary-source evidence of GOJ central control over the scientific method regarding a politically-sensitive issue. And this will control the information flow out to the world regarding the effects and aftermath of Fukushima.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Education, Japanese Government, Tangents, 日本語 | 11 Comments »
Posted by debito on 1st October 2011
MOFA: From Friday, September 30, to Monday, October 31, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will invite public comments on the modality of the Central Authority for the implementation of the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (The Hague Convention).
The details will be made available on the electronic government (e-GOV) web portal for public comments (http://search.e-gov.go.jp/servlet/Public).
Based on the Cabinet Approval of Friday, May 20, to move forward with the preparations toward the conclusion of the Hague Convention, the Government of Japan has been taking necessary steps for the aforementioned preparations as well as the drafting of the necessary domestic legislation (The Ministry of Justice is responsible for compiling the whole bill and drafting the aspects related to the procedures for return of children , while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for drafting the aspects related to the functions of the Central Authority).
The proposal put up for public comments by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs includes issues for further consideration, based on the points approved by the Meeting of Relevant Ministers regarding the Hague Convention as well as the discussions held so far at the meetings of the Round Table on the Modality of the Central Authority for the Implementation of the Hague Convention to date.
Posted in Child Abductions, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 29th September 2011
There have been demonstrations against nuclear power recently in Japan (one in Tokyo that at one estimate attracted 60,000 demonstrators). And of course there have counter-demonstrations against the demonstrations. However, one group, claimed to be Zaitokukai in a video below (with its own history of violent and property-damaging demonstrations) gave exhortations to police to inflict violence on the anti-nuke protesters (if not getting rough with the protesters themselves). Yet as usual the Japanese police do not arrest or hinder the Rightists, instead taking action against the Leftists — arresting two in the following video. One Japanese woman and one French man. The two arrested offer their account of what happened here. FCCJ Press Conference on this issue today, along with an eyewitness account of the demonstration from the H-Japan listserv reproduced below.
FCCJ: Are the Japanese police trying to silence political dissent through a systematic campaign of intimidation against the young in particular? Are the democratic rights to protest being observed in practice by those who claim to be protecting Japan’s social order? This event is an opportunity to reflect upon these crucial issues.
Scholars, writers and political analysts have issued a joint statement denouncing police suppression of the September 11 rally. The harsh measures against a peaceful protest may have enormous implications for the future in Japan.
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, 日本語 | 22 Comments »
Posted by debito on 16th July 2011
Once again we have the Zaitokukai demonstrating in Shibuya last Saturday, once again blurring the line between freedom of speech and the expression of racist hate speech. As hate speech in Japan is not an illegal activity (and a debate with our Resident Gaijin Handler last April had him making contrary yet ultimately unsubstantiated claims; let me head him off at the pass here), this will continue, and quite possibly continue to legitimize and foment, public expressions of xenophobia in Japan, and the perpetual unappreciation of NJ as residents, taxpayers, and mere human beings. Here’s the video, and here’s another video with them getting violent towards somebody, date and more details unclear. Very ugly stuff. And it will continue, if not get worse, until hate speech and the concomitant violence is made illegal.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, 日本語 | 29 Comments »
Posted by debito on 27th June 2011
It’s that time of the year again, when the GOJ has its monthlong campaign to enlist the general public in spotting illegal aliens. Just to make sure that anyone can feel empowered to do Immigration’s job to spot check a NJ’s Gaijin Card (when, according to the Gaitouhou, only officials given policing powers by the MOJ are empowered to demand this form of ID), here we have a poster in a public place, issued by Tokyo Metro, with all sorts of cutesy NJ happily complying with the rigmarole. After all, the small print notes that that these NJ are causing “all kinds of problems” (well, at least they’re being less demonized this time; making them well dressed and cute was a nice touch). And also after all, the slogan is “ru-ru o mamotte kokusaika” (internationalization done by the rules); which is fine, except it would be nice if the police followed their own rules regarding enforcement of Gaijin Card checks. Poster follows, received June 23, 2011.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Labor issues, Media, 日本語 | 38 Comments »
Posted by debito on 18th June 2011
Here is a report from a Debito.org reader who translates how the debate on Domestic Violence in Japan (being cited as a reason to create loopholes in Japan’s enforcement of the upcoming signatory status with the Hague Treaty on Child Abductions) is being stretched to justify just about any negative behavior (including non-tactile acts) as “violent”. And note how the checklist of “violent” acts below approaches the issue with the woman as perpetual victim and the man as perpetrator. If accepted as the standard definition, imagine just how much further this will weaken the fathers’ position in any Japanese divorce negotiation.
NGO Sayasaya: Checklist for Women
Please check any of these if you have experienced them:
He sulks if I deviate in any way from what he has requested of me.
He quickly blames me whenever something goes wrong.
When I go out alone, he calls my cell phone regularly.
He is reluctant to associate with my friends and parents.
He is angry if I come home late…
Checklist for Men
Please check any of these if you have experienced them:
I have yelled at her.
I wish that she would only have eyes for me.
Sometimes I don’t answer her when she wants to talk to me.
While speaking with her, I have stood up and got close to her.
She has thought that I made fun of her…
Source: Dr. Numazaki Ichirou “Why Do men choose violence?”
According to Professor Numazaki, the producer of this list, a check mark next to even ONE item indicates a DV event. (For women who checked off one item, they have been a victim of DV and, for men, any checks indicate that that man was a perpetrator of DV.)
Posted in Bad Social Science, Child Abductions, Human Rights, Japanese Politics, 日本語 | 26 Comments »
Posted by debito on 14th June 2011
Here we have Donald Keene, our newest future Japanese naturalized citizen at age 88, prattling on in Sapio about how nice and wonderful Japanese society and culture is (citing things that happened a generation or two ago), and how he’s happy to become part of a culture so rich and able to regenerate itself after the tsunami (despite, he laments, the lack of domestic interest in Japanese culture by Japanese people; clearly in Donald’s world, culture makes the man).
This is all excusable as harmless personal preference and geriatric navel-gazing except, at the bottom of the first page, his cheap and ignorant swipe at non-Japanese (who, allegedly after coming here to make money, flee in the face of danger). Perhaps if he had had the same stake as younger people who live here full-time and languish in less elite jobs, he might understand better why some people didn’t stay in Japan, as I argued in this Japan Times column. No matter. (Oh, and we won’t deal with ongoing events and lies from Fukushima; criticism of Japan would annoy Donald’s hosts and spoil the Sapio article.)
I guess it just goes to show you that grumpy old men regardless of nationality have to latch onto the “good old days” somewhere; fortunately our Donald feels like he has a culture and a circle of friends here that encourage that. Enjoy yourself here, Donald. Just don’t bad-mouth other people who are also coming here and trying to make a life, even if eventually they decide that there are greener pastures and fairer opportunities elsewhere. At 88, you won’t have to endure Japan’s non-academic workplace culture, let alone be on this mortal coil long enough, for any denouement.
Posted in Cultural Issue, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 27 Comments »
Posted by debito on 31st May 2011
The Sankei reports on May 25 that the Ministry of Justice will be loosening some of its strictures on NJ visas (the Sankei uses the word nohouzu in its headline; I’m not 100% sure of the nuance but it sounds like “a wild and endless expansion of favorable treatment regarding NJ entry visas”; rather snotty, but that’s the Sankei for ya).
The new Immigration policy is directed at NJ with very high skills (koudo jinzai — a good idea) and their families (who will also be allowed to work; wow, that’s a change!), will have a points system for evaluation (another good idea), will offer longer visa periods (5 years), and will loosen the specificity between work visas. It’s being touted as a means to make Japan more appealing to NJ labor (you had better!).
Sounds like a step in the right direction. But it’s still 中途半端. What’s missing is GOJ guaranteeing some degree of protection of labor and civil rights after NJ get here. And what about qualifications? Just try practicing law, medicine, or most other licensed skills in Japan now without going through the rigmarole of domestic certification, with walls so high (cf. the NJ nurses from Indonesia and The Philippines over the past few years) that almost all NJ applicants fail (and, magically, have to return home as usual after three years, just like any other revolving-door “Trainee” or “Researcher” NJ laborer).
This isn’t the first time a points system etc. has been floated (only to die the death of a thousand meddling bureaucrats) either. I guess the mandarins are realizing what a fix Japan is in without NJ labor. But if this kind of policy is going to happen at all, the almighty MOJ has to be the one proposing it. Then perhaps the waters will part for Moses. Let’s wait and see.
But this is on balance “good” news. But not “great” news unless the GOJ also does something to force domestic actors to treat NJ nicely. Which is doubtful.
Posted in Good News, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 12 Comments »
Posted by debito on 26th May 2011
The chief prosecutor in the Saga City Agricultural Co-op case, now known to be a frame-up, spoke at a symposium held in Tokyo on May 23, 2011, offering a revealing discussion of the surprising reality of the training he received when he joined his department. “We were taught that yakuza and foreigners have no human rights,” he disclosed, and “public prosecutors were taught to make up confessions and then have suspects sign them.” Describing how terrifying this warped training system is, he added that “after being trained in that way, [he] began to almost believe that this was natural.” The person making the statements about his erstwhile workplace was former public prosecutor Hiroshi Ichikawa…
Mr. Ichikawa was appointed to the Yokohama District Public Prosecutor’s Office in 1993. He said that in his first year, a superior prosecutor taught him that “yakuza and foreigners have no human rights.” Describing his experiences, he mentioned that that superior said, “Foreigners don’t understand Japanese, so you can use whatever threatening language you like if it’s in Japanese.” The same superior also said that when investigating one foreign suspect, he held a pointed awl in front of the suspect’s face and shouted abuse at the suspect in Japanese. “‘That’s how you get them to confess,’ the superior said.”
In his third year, a superior taught him how to obtain a confession; this consisted of the prosecutor taking a document filled with whatever the prosecutor chose to say, threatening the suspect with it, and obtaining the suspect’s signature. What if the suspect refused to sign? “If the suspect resisted, my boss said, I should say that the document was my [investigation], not his [confession form],” said Mr. Ichikawa.
COMMENT FROM MARK IN YAYOI: The Twitter comments that follow [this article] are dispiriting — nobody seems to notice the fundamental incongruousness of discussing members of a criminal organization and people who happen to have different nationalities in the same breath. And then there are the other commenters who support the idea of certain people not having human rights. Others claim that foreign embassies should be the ones to guarantee the rights of immigrants. They miss the fundamental meaning of ‘human’ rights: rights are inherent aren’t handed down by the government! The government can restrict certain people’s rights, but the default state is not ‘zero rights’.”
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Social Science, Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese police/Foreign crime, 日本語 | 20 Comments »
Posted by debito on 24th May 2011
Getting back to business, here is an excellent series of articles on how important NJ labor has been and will be to Japan’s future. Eighteen pages on the whos, whats, and why-you-should-cares in the Nikkei Business magazine dated May 2, 2011.
After the cover (Title: Kieta Gaikokujin Roudou Ryoku: Nihonjin dake de shokuba o mamoreru ka, or “Disappeared NJ Labor Force: Can Japanese maintain the workplaces by themselves?”) and table of contents, we open with a splash page showing Chinese waiting for their bags at the airport carousel after returning to China.
Pages 20 through 23 give us an assessment of NJ labor in several business sectors: Restaurants, Textiles, Finance, Convenience Stores, Agriculture, IT, Education, Tourism, and Airflight, headlining that the NJ labor force has “evaporated”.
Pages 24 and 25 give us the raw data, noting that the majority of NJ (55%) work in small companies of less than 100 employees, and that the near majority of NJ laborers (44%) are Chinese. The point is that “a closed Japanese labor market is impossible”.
Pages 26 and 27 give us a close up about a farm that lost none of its workers, and even asked (for a change, given the Japanese media) what NJ thought. It was all part of the magazine’s suggestions about what should be done to improve things and give NJ a stake: Accountability, Bonds, Careers, and recognizing Diversity. Even offered suggestions about how to simplify Japanese.
Pages 27 and 28 are the “money shot”, where the article says most of the things that we have said all along here on Debito.org and in my Japan Times articles: You can’t keep on using people as simple throwaway labor and expect them to stay, and you can’t keep doing things like bribe people to go back (as was done with the Nikkei in 2009) or make hurdles too high to get over (as is being done with NJ nurses) and expect a sustainable labor force.
Good stuff. And about bloody time. Scans of pages in gallery form below.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, Practical advice, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 7 Comments »
Posted by debito on 28th April 2011
The Ekonomisuto Weekly of March 26, 2011, devotes three pages to the effects of the Fukushima Disasters on both Japan’s tourism/export and NJ labor markets. In the vein of how Japanese media coverage has been unsympathetic, even critical, of NJ leaving Japan, page three is of particular note. It offers harder numbers of NJ departures (although again with no comparison with Japanese movement), does not stoop to a tone of blame, and even accepts that NJ have a choice to work in other countries, so Japan had better take some measures to make itself more attractive to NJ labor or else. That’s more like it.
I have long found the policymaking attitude of “working in Japan should be its own reward, so we needn’t try to make things more hospitable for foreign labor” puzzling, so this article is refreshing. I’ll be dealing with that attitude in part in my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column, to be published in the Tuesday, May 3 edition of the JT. Enjoy.
Posted in Gaiatsu, Labor issues, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 27th April 2011
Here’s another article tying together more pinpoint data of NJ leaving Japan, with a focus on Chinese. Spare a tear for those poor, poor Japanese industries who took advantage of so many cheap temporary NJ workers, and are now crying because the NJ aren’t sticking around to be potentially irradiated as well as exploited:
Mainichi: Tens of thousands of worried foreign workers left Japan shortly after a crisis at the nuclear power plant that was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, causing serious labor shortages in some industries.
After foreign governments lifted their temporary evacuation advisories issued in the wake of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, many Americans and Europeans started coming back to Japan, albeit gradually. But workers from neighboring countries such as China have yet to do so.
Chinese people in particular — mostly students and trainees — had occupied key parts of the workforce in many Japanese industries, and therefore if they continue to stay out of Japan for an extended period of time, they could have a grave impact on the industries and force firms to review their business strategies or cut production.
Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Labor issues, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 17 Comments »
Posted by debito on 25th April 2011
Here’s yet another article from a more reputable source, the Nihon Keizai Shinbun, talking about the phenomenon of NJ allegedly leaving Japan behind and having an adverse effect on Japan’s economy.
For the record, I don’t doubt that NJ have left Japan due to the Tohoku Disasters. I just have my doubts that a) it’s any more significant than the Japanese who also left, yet get less nasty media coverage (I have yet to see an article comparing both J and NJ “flight” in terms of numbers), b) it’s worth blaming NJ for leaving, since Japanese overseas would probably do much the same if advised to do so by their government in the face of a disaster, and c) the media is actually doing their job investigating sources to nail down the exact statistics. Let’s see how the Nikkei does below: Some bogus journalistic practices unbecoming of something as trusted as the Nikkei, to wit:
Providing a generic photo of people drinking at a Tokyo izakaya and claiming that they’re talking about repatriating NJ (that’s quite simply yarase).
Providing a chart of annual numbers (where the total numbers of NJ dropped in 2009 in part due to the GOJ bribing unemployed Brazilian workers to leave), which is unrelated to the Tohoku Disasters.
Relying on piecemeal sources (cobbling numbers together from Xinhua, some part-timer food chains, an eikaiwa, a prefectural employment agency for “Trainee” slave labor, and other pinpoint sources) that do not necessarily add up to a trend or a total.
Finishing their sentences with the great linguistic hedgers, extrapolators, and speculators (in place of harder sources), including “…to mirareru”, “… sou da”, “there are cases of…” etc. All are great indicators that the article is running on fumes in terms of data.
Portraying Japanese companies as victimized by deserting NJ workers, rather than observing that NJ thus far, to say the least, have helped Japan avoid its labor shortage (how about a more positive, grateful tone towards NJ labor?, is what I’m asking for).
And as always, not comparing their numbers with numbers of Japanese exiting. Although the article avoids the more hectoring tone of other sources I’ve listed on Debito.org, it still makes it seems like the putative Great Flyjin Exodus is leaving Japan high and dry. No mention of course in the article of how many of these NJ might also be leaving Japan because they have no stake in it, i.e. are stuck in a dead-end or part-time job with no hope of promotion, advancement, or leadership within their corporate sector.
Once again, it’s pretty flawed social science. The Nikkei could, and should, do better, and if even the Nikkei of all media venues can’t, that says something bad about Japanese journalism when dealing with ethnic issues. Read the article for yourself.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Labor issues, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 16 Comments »
Posted by debito on 20th April 2011
More on the Open Season on NJ. Here is Internet news site Zakzak headlining that Yoshinoya, famous beef bowl chain restaurant, is being affected by the “big-volume escaping of NJ part-timers”. It apparently has lost a quarter of its NJ staff (over 800 souls) fleeing from the fears of radiation from the Tohoku Disasters. Then Zakzak gives us the mixed news that Yoshinoya is still profitable compared to its losses the same period a year ago, but is expected to take a hit to its profits from the Disasters.
Not sure how that relates, but again, the headline is that NJ are fleeing and that it’s raising doubts about whether the company is still “okay”. Even though Zakzak notes that the company is filling in the gaps with Japanese employees (er, so no worries, right? The Disasters, not the alleged NJ flight, are the bigger threat to solvency, no?). So… journalistically, we’ll hang the newsworthiness of a company’s profitability on the peg of “escaping NJ”?
If we’re going to have this much NJ bashing, how about an acknowledgement of how much NJ labor has meant to Japan and how we’re thankful for it, so please don’t leave?
Nah, easier to bash them. Takes the heat off the company for their own variably profitable business practices, and creates more attractive headlines for the media. It’s a win-win situation against the bullied and disenfranchised minority.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Labor issues, Media, NJ legacies, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 14 Comments »