DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 30, 2007

Hello Blog. Sending you the last newsletter of the fiscal year:

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1) SAKANAKA ESSAY ON NEW FRAMEWORK FOR J IMMIGRATION POLICIES
2) KEIDANREN WANTS MORE FOREIGNERS
3) NIIGATA PREF CITY TO ABOLISH “NATIONALITY CLAUSE”
4) TOKYO GOVERNORSHIP RACE HEATS UP:
ASANO DECRIES ISHIHARA’S XENOPHOBIA

5) PM ABE: “OK OK, I APOLOGIZE FOR THE ‘COMFORT WOMEN’ ALREADY”. KINDA.
6) FOREIGN MINISTER ASO: DIPLOMACY AS A MATTER OF HAIR AND EYE COLOR
7) MANUAL: BEWARE FOREIGN P*NISES! WITH CHART OF SIZES

8) DEBITO.ORG UPDATES: KARA KIKAN, NATURALIZATION, APARTMENT “SHIKIKIN” REFUND
9) MEDIA UPDATES: JET INTERVIEW, DEBITO.ORG MAKES JAPANZINE’S BEST FOR 2007
10) 2-CHANNEL UPDATE: NISHIMURA WILL PAY FINES “ONLY ON PAIN OF DEATH”
11) CONCLUDING GAIJIN HANZAI ISSUE WITH JT AND J FOCUS ARTICLES

and finally…JAPANESE ONLY T-SHIRTS ALSO ON SALE IN FRONT OF JR TOKYO STATION
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By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org)
March 30, 2007 Freely Forwardable

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1) SAKANAKA ESSAY ON NEW FRAMEWORK FOR J IMMIGRATION POLICIES

Debito.org is proud to premiere an important essay on the future of immigration to Japan. To tell you just how important, I turn the keyboard over to Eric Johnston, deputy editor for the Japan Times Osaka:

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A New Framework for Japan’s Immigration Policies
By Hidenori Sakanaka,
Director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute
Former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau

Introduction by Eric Johnston (excerpt):

…For the past decade, the debate about how to adjust to an aging society with fewer children has largely been conducted behind closed doors, with different ministries putting out different proposals to keep Japan economically competitive while politically influential academics slay entire forests as they propose a variety of solutions. T he endless sub-committees, blue ribbon panels, white papers, “wise-men” advisory boards, and special project teams have all gone out of their way to stress the importance of raising the retirement age and providing retraining opportunities for older people, ensuring that younger Japanese are integrated into the work-force as full-time employees not as “freeters”, and making use of more robot technology to replace the ever-dwindling number of human workers.

…But given the politically explosive nature of the subject, few members of the official debate want to talk about what Japan might look like with millions and millions of foreigners [as workers and residents].

A notable, and praiseworthy, exception is Hidenori Sakanaka. Two years ago, his book “Nyukan Senki” caused a sensation among those following the official debate over immigration. A former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, Sakanaka was a consummate insider, an elite bureaucrat who has the ear of senior bureaucrats and business leaders, and the very few ruling party politicians, like the LDP’s Taro Kono, who are thinking seriously about the future of foreigners in Japan.

In his book, Sakanaka outlined a vision of Japan in 2050, and stated what was obvious but what nobody in power dared address: Japan fundamentally faces two choices, whether to remain a “big” country by bringing in millions of foreigners or become a “small” country and admit very few….
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Now go on to read Sakanaka’s essay and Johnston’s full intro at:
http://www.debito.org/sakanakaonimmigration.htm

However, one major player in the policy arena certainly wants a foreign influx. As long as they just come in as workers with no impact, as usual…

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2) KEIDANREN WANTS MORE FOREIGNERS

Excerpting from Terrie’s Take Issue 413, March 19, 2007:
http://www.japaninc.com/terries_take

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RELAXED ENGINEER VISAS: The Japanese Business Federation, Keidanren, has recommended to the government that the immigration requirements for foreign engineers’ visas be relaxed, to encourage a larger number of people to come work here, particularly in IT. They suggest that engineers coming in under the experience category be allowed in after just 4 years of relevant work experience, versus the current 10 years. But before you think that Keidanren is going soft, they are also looking at recommending Japanese-language requirements on future worker intakes, to alleviate problems typically associated with a surge of foreign workers.

COMMENT FROM TERRIE LLOYD:Hmmm, we doubt that they’ve thought this through too much. Imposing Japanese language skills will add at least 3-5 years on to the supply curve, and given the choice of English or Japanese, most Chinese and Indian engineers are going to pick the global language. Japan needs to understand that internationalizing may in fact mean accepting English as a second language, as has already happened in Europe and in most of the rest of Asia. This is not heresy, just pragmatism. (Source: TT commentary from nikkei.co.jp, Mar 18, 2007)
http://www.nni.nikkei.co.jp/AC/TNKS/Nni20070317
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I’ll just add that Keidanren is displaying the typical work-unit mentality one finds in any organization only thinking of the bottom line, not the welfare of their workers. With that undercurrent, the policy will create more social problems than you think. Hasn’t Keidanren learned anything from its problematic Researcher and Trainee Visa experiments from 1990? Oh, yeah–now let’s just make the foreigner pass a language test. That’ll fix everything. Right.

Related posting from Tony Keyes, courtesy of The Community list:

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Further to the discussion at the beginning of this month about the ultimate powers of the immigration office, Sunday’s Nikkei Shimbun tells us that they are going to be more transparent in their deliberations.
http://www.nikkei.co.jp/news/main/20070318AT3S1700K17032007.html

“The Justice Ministry has announced on March 17th that it has decided to publish guidelines to clarify the requirements for extension and change of visa status for foreigners residing in Japan. Decisions on whether to allow extensions or not are in reality made by regional immigration bureaux authorised by the minister and based on the content of individual cases. This has been criticised by applicants and the economic world as being not transparent. The guidelines will include objective standards which should be easier to understand for foreigners and others. Publication is intended for FY 2007.” (Translation Tony)
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Similar article with a surprisingly good discussion at Japantoday.com:
http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/401306

Meanwhile, some local governments are taking internationalization into their own hands:

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3) NIIGATA PREF CITY TO ABOLISH “NATIONALITY CLAUSE”

Good news. Local newspaper Niigata Nippou reports that another city government, Jouetsu, SW Niigata Prefecture, intends to abolish the “Nationality Clause” (kokuseki joukou). This guideline, enforced by many local, regional, and national government agencies, maintains that only citizens may hold administrative positions (kanrishoku) in the Japanese civil service. Translating:

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JOUETSU CITY TO COMPLETELY ABOLISH THE NATIONALITY CLAUSE
Niigata Nippou March 28, 2007

http://www.niigata-nippo.co.jp/pref/index.asp?cateNo=3&newsNo=231718
(Japanese original) or
http://www.debito.org/?p=295

The City Government of Jouetsu made clear on March 27 its aims to completely abolish the Nationality Clause for its 2008 employee hires…

Jouetsu City removed the Nationality Clause for employment in the Arts and Child Care in 1995, and from Welfare employees in 2003. From 2008, it will remove the restriction from all city government employment, including civil engineers and construction…

The City of Minami Uonuma in Niigata Prefecture also abolished the Nationality Clause for civil-service entrance exams in 2007. The City of Niigata has also indicated that it is considering a similar abolition.
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Why this matters: Non-Japanese, even those born in Japan with Japanese as their first language (as generational diaspora of former citizens of empire–the Zainichis), have been systematically excluded from even qualifying to sit examinations for Japan’s bureaucracy. Moreover, the Supreme Court ruled in 2005, in defiance of Article 14 barring discrimination, that excluding a Zainichi Korean named Chong Hyang Gyun from sitting her admin exam for the Tokyo Government was constitutional!

Proponents of the Nationality Clause say inter alia that it is for security reasons, as you apparently cannot allow untrustworthy foreigners (especially those apparently shifty North Koreans) to hold jobs in, for example, firefighting and civil-service food preparation. Hell, you can’t trust a foreigner with a fire ax, since they might inflict damage to our Japanese property (meaning alleged insurance problems and international incidents). And what if they poisoned us during a busy lunchtime and took over?! Or if proponents can’t be bothered to overthink the situation, they just punt and say that if anyone seriously wants to become a bureaucrat, they should naturalize, as many other countries require nationality for their civil-service jobs.

These types of arguments overgeneralize and misrepresent the situation, as opponents point out. Namely, that if Japan had nationality laws like its fellow developed countries, there wouldn’t be more than a quarter of a million “Zainichis” lying in legal limbo for five generations now. They would be citizens already and eligible to take the exams anyway.

So the Nationality Clause is being slowly been done away with in municipalities (except those with bunker mentalities towards internationalization, such as Tokyo Met). Can’t be done soon enough, in my view.

REFERENTIAL WEBSITES:
OTHER MOVES BY LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO ABOLISH THE NATIONALITY CLAUSE
(Kobe, Kochi, Osaka, Kawasaki)
http://www.debito.org/ninkiseiupdate1hiring.html

MORE ON CHONG HYANG GYUN CASE
ZNet February 4, 2005
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=17&ItemID=7178
More historical links (1995) from:
http://www.debito.org/ninkiseiupdate1hiring.html
In her own words at Debito.org (Japanese):
http://www.debito.org/chongsanessay.html

AN APPRAISAL OF JAPAN’S ASSIMILATION POLICIES, MENTIONING THE NATIONALITY CLAUSEPASSIM (Japan Focus, January 12, 2006) http://www.debito.org/japanfocus011206.html

LIKEWISE PROBLEMS WITH JAPAN’S TREATMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RESIDENTS, AND PROPOSED SOLUTIONS (again passim) http://www.debito.org/handout.html

Meanwhile, not quite a campaign issue in Japan’s upcoming April 8 elections yet (drowned out under all the “yoroshiku”s), the “foreign” question is still something a thoughtful candidate will bring up if the audience is foreign:

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4) TOKYO GOVERNORSHIP RACE HEATS UP:
ASANO DECRIES ISHIHARA’S XENOPHOBIA

More good news. We have a rival for Ishihara’s job who explicitly sees his foreigner bashing as a campaign issue, and is willing to offer an alternative. He’s even making our arguments! Excellent! Get out the vote if you and yours are voters in Tokyo!

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ASANO WAXES FRIENDLY, SLAMS ISHIHARA’S SLURS
The Japan Times, March 20, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070320a3.html

Shiro Asano, a candidate in next month’s Tokyo gubernatorial election, promises that if elected, he will work to make the capital a place that is friendly to the elderly, children, disabled–and even foreigners.

At a press conference Monday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo, Asano criticized the incumbent, Shintaro Ishihara, for his repeated discriminatory remarks against people of different nationalities, particularly Chinese and Koreans.

“It’s a big problem that the governor of Tokyo pointed the finger at specific nationalities and (suggested) the majority of them are criminals,” said Asano, a former Miyagi governor.

“Many foreign nationals live in Tokyo because they love Japan. They also pay taxes here, and we shouldn’t ignore that,” he said. “What will be important is to come up with ways in which we can provide opportunities for them to make full use of their strength for Tokyo and Japan.”…
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A quick digression, from Japundit.com March 28, 2007:

ANARCHY IN THE YOU TUBE:
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Probably one of the most hilarious things I have seen in Japanese politics: a candidate in Tokyo gubernatorial elections topped YouTube’s most viewed videos of Monday 26th March! The video got 44 honors including the 8th top rated video of the day, and the 1st top rated Japanese video this month. This bald fellow, called Kouichi Toyama, is a pure anarchist who promises to overthrow the system if he gets elected.
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http://japundit.com/archives/2007/03/28/5478/

COMMENT: Yes, it’s a hilarious video (love the ending), but my “Spidey Sense” is tingling here for some reason–and it’s not because of any xenophobic sentiment (Toyama is just anti-establishment, not explicitly anti-foreign). The Internet is causing huge leaks in the more tidy cartelized media worldwide. And given this guy is getting a lot of exposure from the 2-Channel-troll sector of the public (there are several parodies of his video already online), I have the feeling this guy is going to get a lot of spoiler votes–not enough to get him elected, but more than we might anticipate. Given that voter apathy can easily turn into anger anywhere, I suggest we look at his results on April 8 as a bellwether of just how deep the anger goes in Japan.

Have the feeling we’ll be seeing more of this guy. Especially since it’s business as usual in the highest echelons of government…

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5) PM ABE: “OK OK, I APOLOGIZE FOR THE ‘COMFORT WOMEN’ ALREADY”. KINDA.

In a regular pattern seen as “smoothing things over for the time being”:

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ABE APOLOGIZES TO SEX SLAVES
March 26, 2007. Mainichi Shinbun

http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20070326p2a00m0na030000c.html

http://www.debito.org/?p=293
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, under fire for denying that Japan forced women to work as sex slaves during World War II, offered a new apology Monday for the front line military brothels.

“I apologize here and now as prime minister,” Abe told a parliamentary committee, according to his spokesman Hiroshi Suzuki….
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COMMENT: Soooo… let’s trace the Arc of Abe. From denial to hair-splitting to no comment to deflection to apology–er, through his cabinet.

However, belated apologies like this (just by simple human nature, apologies tend to mean less when they come after being demanded, especially over a long duration) will have the irony of a similar debate:

Just how much “coercion” was there behind Abe’s apology? And how does this affect the sincerity of the act?

Anyway, it’s a step in the right direction (was there any other direction realistically to step?) More commentary on this development and articles from the Mainichi and Washington Post (which apparently elicited this new Abe response) archived at:
http://www.debito.org/?p=293

Trace the whole Arc of Abe yourself at
http://www.debito.org/?s=Comfort+Women

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6) ASO: DIPLOMACY AS A MATTER OF HAIR AND EYE COLOR

More Japanese-elite social science at work. Foreign Minister Aso offers his well-thunked-out theories as to why Japanese would do better than Westerners in the Middle East diplomatically:

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JAPAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER: JAPAN DOING WHAT THE US CAN’T
Associated Press, THE JERUSALEM POST Mar. 22, 2007

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1173879146662&pagename=JPost%2FJP Article%2FShowFull

Japan’s outspoken foreign minister said “blue-eyed, blond” Westerners probably would not be as successful as the Japanese in Middle East diplomacy, media reported Thursday.

Taro Aso made the remarks Wednesday during a speech in southwestern Japan, business daily Nikkei reported. National newspaper Mainichi carried a similar report. [NB: Couldn’t find either article online in Japanese.]

“Japan is doing what the Americans can’t do. The Japanese are trusted. It’s probably no good with blue eyes and blond hair,” he was quoted as saying by the papers, referring to projects in Jordan River Rift Valley initiated by Japan.

“Luckily, we have yellow faces. We have no history of exploitation there or fired a machine gun for once,” Aso said, according to the reports…
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COMMENT: Wonder how much the matter of phenotype affects how well Japan gets along in parts of Asia diplomatically? Oh yeah, must be the color of Japanese eyes and hair getting in the way. Race and trust are linked, you see.

Archive of several articles with commentary on this at
http://www.debito.org/?p=290

Followed by an article from the FCCJ website last June talking about Aso’s lack of a lack of a past himself (his Brahmin background, and ancestral wartime involvement in making Asia less diplomatic towards Japan). Plus a NYT Editorial of Feb 13, 2006 demonstrating his lack of diplomatic tact.

All this thunking couldn’t be due to the shape of his mouth, now could it? It might, if you follow Aso Logic…

Speaking of body parts:

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7) MANUAL: BEWARE FOREIGN P*NISES! WITH CHART OF SIZES

Okay, thought that title would get you reading this post.

ADVICE TO WOMEN ON WHAT TO AVOID IN RELATIONSHIPS
INCLUDING FOREIGNERS

courtesy “JOSHI GAKUSEI DARAKU MANYUARU”
(“Manual for Women Students Regarding Depravity”)

Published by Hikou Mondai Kenkyuukai (“Research Institute on the Delinquency Problem”) December 1995. Available at Amazon Japan. Information courtesy Michael H. Fox (thanks).

Still in print, this manual compares not only compares foreign p*nis sizes, it warns its intended Japanese female audience that having relations with foreigners is problematic because inter alia “they don’t have money”, “their temperament is too strong”, “they want a lot of sex”, and “there are a lot of junkies”.

See pertinent pages (Arabs are apparently the most well-endowed) scanned at
http://www.debito.org/joseidarakumanual.html
(It’s now the second-most accessed site on Debito.org–2-Channellers love it at face value.)

Courtesy of your unfettered guarantee of freedom of speech in Japan (and the lack of any constraints generally associated with social science, or the Scientific Method). More to come, no doubt.

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8) DEBITO.ORG UPDATES: KARA KIKAN, NATURALIZATION, APARTMENT “SHIKIKIN” REFUND

Since the demise of the Issho.org website by Tony Laszlo (the cutie-pie character in manga “My Darling is a Foreigner”–see how fame changes everything at http://www.debito.org/?cat=25), several authors have had trouble with their past work winking out of existence.

So Debito.org is proud to resurrect an important essay on “Kara Kikan”–how your employment experience (in Japan or abroad) counts towards pensions in Japan. By Steve van Dresser and Stephanie Houghton (written 2002).
http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#academicjob

Also resurrected from Steve van Dresser:
“The Employment Rights of Repeatedly Renewed Private Sector Contract Workers”
http://www.debito.org/rightsofrepeatedlyrenewed.htm

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NATURALIZATION UPDATE

To ground things in more context, I’ve taken the liberty to start archiving articles dealing with how other countries (not just the US and Japan) deal with the aspect of citizenship and naturalization.

Just included some articles on issues cropping up in Canada and Holland (where people are deprived of their citizenship due to technicalities), Austria and the Caribbean (where citizenship is for sale), and Moldova and Rumania (where history has created historical entitlement to emigration and citizenship in the latter).

http://www.debito.org/naturalization.html#othercountries

Will web more as I find them. Others are welcome to notify me of articles at debito@debito.org

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“SHIKIKIN” SCAMS BY JAPAN’S LANDLORDS:

Adapted from mails by Kirk Masden and Joe Tomei:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kumamoto-i/message/4899

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TOKYO TO CLEAN UP ACT OF DIRTY LANDLORDS
The Asahi Shimbun February 7, 2004

http://www.asahi.com/english/politics/TKY200402070165.html
For tenants tired of kissing their maintenance deposits goodbye, the Tokyo metropolitan government plans sweeping changes to the shabby system exploited by greedy landlords. There are no clear rules on how much of the costs to clean or repair apartments should be covered by tenants’ deposits.
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“Actually, the last sentence is not exactly right. The government has published guidelines:
http://www.mlit.go.jp/jutakukentiku/house/torikumi/genzyokaifukugaido.pdf
but the pdf file is 118 pages long. Here’s a couple more in Japanese, from a quick google
http://www.heyasagase.com/guide/trouble/sikikin/k_02.html
http://hccweb5.bai.ne.jp/~hea14901/library/link.htm
http://www.zentaku.or.jp/223/index.htm (issues 12-14, I think)

“The guidelines (in Japanese) focus on the concept of “genjo kaifuku” (restoration to original condition). According to the guidelines, you are NOT responsible for normal wear and tear. You are only responsible for damage that you did to the apartment beyond normal wear and tear. The guidelines help you figure out what should be considered to be normal wear and tear….”

More at
http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#deposit

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9) MEDIA UPDATES: JET INTERVIEW, DEBITO.ORG MAKES JAPANZINE’S BEST FOR 2007

Had a chat by Skype over the weekend with Steven, a Miyagi JET. He turned it into a podcast interview, available at
http://www.bigdaikonpodcast.info/debitointerview25mar07.mp3
Apologies for the sound quality, but the media is still pretty fledgling at this time. Keep listening–one gets used to it. Discussion of the interview amongst the JETs on BigDaikon at http://bigdaikon.org/board/viewtopic.php?t=92487

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Debito.org gets a mention in JapanZine, the monthly free magazine in the Aichi region, in their March 2007 issue’s “JAPAN ON THE WEB” assessment:

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It’s been nearly ten years now since Japanzine’s first “Japan on the Web” issue, our survey of the most essential websites for people living the dream in the Land of the Rising Sun… The following guide is intended to help you get the most out of the web while you’re here in Japan…

Special Interest
Debito Arudou was all over the papers again last month, kicking up a stink over the controversial Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu mook. His website, Debito.org, is a mine of information for social activists and Average Joe foreigners living in Japan. His step-by-step guide to handling random ID checks by the police (http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#checkpoints) is a time-worn classic.
http://www.seekjapan.jp/article-1/866/Japan+on+the+Web
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Thanks very much for the writeup, JapanZine! Glad you find the stuff up there useful.

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10) 2-CHANNEL UPDATE: NISHIMURA WILL PAY FINES “ONLY ON PAIN OF DEATH”

2-Channel’s Admin Nishimura Hiroyuki, now millions of dollars in the hole in terms of court penalties, just keeps the ball right on rolling. According to March 20’s Yomiuri, he won’t follow court orders unless there’s the threat of execution:

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“I’LL PAY IF SENTENCED TO DEATH”
2-CHANNEL BBS ADMIN, REFUSING TO PAY COURT PENALITIES
Yomiuri Shinbun, March 20, 2007
(translation by Arudou Debito)

Nishimura Hiroyuki, 30, administrator of 2-Channel Internet BBS, appeared in Tokyo District Court on March 19 for a civil case against him. His site has been the scene of many malicious email posters, and Nishimura has lost successive lawsuits for libel.

After the hearing, when asked for comment by a media contingent regarding his unpaid court penalities, he said: “If I would be put to death for not paying, I would. But nothing’s going to happen to me if I don’t pay, so I won’t.” He made very clear his intention not to pay in future.

Nishimura has up to now been the defendant in more than 50 civil suits nationwide, and the great majority of them have been losses for him. Unpaid damages and penalties assessed for not following injunctions and court rulings have now amassed to around 5 million dollars US.

However, Nishimura has hardly ever paid up. Justifying this, Nishimura said, “If you turn deadbeat, nobody’s going to make you pay. With rules as stupid as this country has, it would be idiotic to pay up.”
http://www.debito.org/?p=280
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Er, I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again:
Huh?

Is this a case of celebrity-status-induced insanity, or is this guy just a child when it comes to social responsibility? In any case, his court fines, according to the March 6, 2007 Yomiuri (http://www.debito.org/?p=252), are 88 man yen per day–or about the equivalent of one lawsuit loss against me every 36 hours! Clearly this is not sustainable.

More info on how this issue connects with me at
http://www.debito.org/?cat=21
http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html

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11) CONCLUDING GAIJIN HANZAI ISSUE WITH JT AND J FOCUS ARTICLES

The Japan Times piece (March 20, 2007) offers a journalistic take on the issue, wrapping it up for posterity at 1500 words (full of images and links at Debito.org).

DEMISE OF CRIME MAGAZINE HISTORIC
Gaijin Hanzai’s withdrawal from the market showed real power of ‘newcomers’ for the first time”
http://www.debito.org/japantimes032007.html

The Japan Focus piece (also March 20, 2007) is an academic overview for those who came in late at 6000 words.
“GAIJIN HANZAI MAGAZINE AND HATE SPEECH IN JAPAN:
The newfound power of Japan’s international residents”

http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2386

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and finally…

JAPANESE ONLY T-SHIRTS ALSO ON SALE IN FRONT OF JR TOKYO STATION

For those who don’t want to fuss with Paypal or bank transfers, one of my friends is kindly selling my “JAPANESE ONLY” T-shirts from his office right in front of JR Tokyo Station.

Information on the T-shirts at
http://www.debito.org/tshirts.html

For information on where his office is, please contact me at debito@debito.org (he’s a bit gun-shy after too many spam attacks). Thanks.

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Thanks for reading. Seacrest… er… Debito out!
Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OF MARCH 30, 2007 ENDS

Economist: UN Human Rights Council in trouble

Hi Blog. Bad news from The Economist. I really have no comment at this juncture, as I don’t have enough information about the situation to draw conclusions, and don’t want to bend over backwards to paint an overly rosy picture. Debito

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Human Rights and the UN
Great expectations
Hopes fade for a fairer UN policy on human rights
Mar 22nd 2007 | NEW YORK
From The Economist print edition

http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_RRJQQJQ

A LOT of optimism attended the birth of the UN Human Rights Council, created last year by a 170-4 vote of the General Assembly. Whereas the United States kept on the sidelines (and confirmed this month it would stay away), many Western states saw the new body as an improvement on the discredited Human Rights Commission it replaced.

But now some of the commission’s critics are fretting that the Geneva-based council may prove only a little better, or perhaps even worse, than its predecessor. What they are watching keenly is the council’s reaction to the massacres and humanitarian disaster in Darfur.

This month the council received a report on Darfur which did at least spell out some basic facts. It said the Sudanese government has aided janjaweed militias, “including in violations of human rights”. The council’s investigators had to glean this from refugees in Chad and elsewhere, as they were denied visas to visit Sudan. But the UN investigation managed to bring certain harsh truths to light: at least 200,000 are dead (many think the number is double that), the situation is getting worse not better, and the government is largely to blame.

Sadly, though, the full council is unlikely to draw the logical conclusion and hold Sudan’s rulers to account. That is partly because Muslim countries, along with various non-democracies with a soft spot for tyrants, hold a majority of the council’s 47 seats; between them they are shielding the Khartoum regime.

More surprisingly, countries such as South Africa and India are siding with Sudan. The best that can be expected is a weak EU-sponsored resolution that vows to monitor events and urges all parties to do their bit. That would leave Israel the only state to have been condemned by the council—eight times.

This sort of imbalance is all too reminiscent of the old commission. One much-vaunted improvement was a new universal-review system—under which every country’s record would be scrutinised from time to time. This would at least force human-rights abusers to answer some hard questions.

But it now looks clear that any follow-up to these inquiries will be feeble; and a group led by the Cubans wants to use the universal review as an excuse to get rid of the special rapporteurs who keep an eye on places such as Belarus, North Korea—and Cuba.

At best, the council is a declamatory body; real power lies with the Security Council in New York. But the mess in the UN’s top human-rights agency augurs ill for the reform of the UN as a whole.
ENDS

Niigata Nippou: Joetsu City to abolish Nationality Clause

Hello Blog. Good news. Local newspaper Niigata Nippou reports that another city government, Jouetsu, intends to abolish the “Nationality Clause” (kokuseki joukou), the guideline, enforced by many local, regional, and national government agencies, that only citizens may hold administrative positions (kanrishoku) in the Japanese civil service.

Non-Japanese, even those born in Japan with Japanese as their first language (as generational diaspora of former citizens of empire–the Zainichis), have been systematically excluded from even qualifying to sit examinations for Japan’s bureaucracy. Moreover, the Supreme Court decided in 2005, in defiance of Article 14 barring discrimination, that excluding a Zainichi Korean named Chong Hyang Gyun from sitting her admin exam for the Tokyo Government was constitutional!

Proponents of the Nationality Clause say inter alia that it is for security reasons, as you apparently cannot allow untrustworthy foreigners (especially those apparently shifty North Koreans) to hold jobs in, for example, firefighting and civil-service food preparation. Hell, you can’t trust a foreigner with a fire ax and potential damage to our Japanese property (potential insurance problems and international incidents), and what if they poisoned us during a busy lunchtime and took over! Or if proponents can’t be bothered to overthink the situation, they just punt and say that if anyone seriously wants to become a bureaucrat, they should naturalize, as many other countries require nationality for their civil-service jobs.

Both of these types of arguments overgeneralize and misrepresent the situation, as opponents point out. Namely, that if Japan had nationality laws like its fellow developed countries, there wouldn’t be more than a quarter of a million “Zainichis” lying in legal limbo for five generations now–they would be citizens already and eligible to take the exams anyway.

So the Nationality Clause is being slowly been done away with in municipalities (except those with bunker mentalities towards internationalization, such as Tokyo Met). Here’s an example: Jouetsu City, on the Japan-Sea side in SW Niigata Prefecture. Bravo.

Translating the article from Niigata Nippou for the record. Referential websites follow the article. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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JOUETSU CITY TO COMPLETELY ABOLISH THE NATIONALITY CLAUSE
Niigata Nippou March 28, 2007
http://www.niigata-nippo.co.jp/pref/index.asp?cateNo=3&newsNo=231718
(Japanese original) or
http://www.debito.org/?p=295

The City Government of Jouetsu made clear on March 27 its aims to completely abolish the Nationality Clause for its 2008 employee hires. Mayor Konoura Masayuki said as such during question time for the city’s March regular monthly meeting.

Jouetsu City removed the Nationality Clause for employment in the Arts and Child Care in 1995, and from Welfare employees in 2003. From 2008, it will remove the restriction from all city government employment, including civil engineers and construction.

As part of its General Plan for Human Rights, drawn up in 2002, Jouetsu had been condsidering abolishing this clause entirely. Mayor Konoura explained, “We wanted to take this up during 2007 entrance exams for employees.”

The City of Minami Uonuma in Niigata Prefecture also abolished the Nationality Clause for civil-service entrance exams in 2007. The City of Niigata has also indicated that it is considering a similar abolition.
ENDS
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REFERENTIAL WEBSITES:
OTHER MOVES BY LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO ABOLISH THE NATIONALITY CLAUSE (Kobe, Kochi, Osaka, Kawasaki)
http://www.debito.org/ninkiseiupdate1hiring.html

MORE ON CHONG HYANG GYUN CASE
ZNet February 4, 2005
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=17&ItemID=7178
More historical links (1995) from:
http://www.debito.org/ninkiseiupdate1hiring.html
In her own words at Debito.org (Japanese):
http://www.debito.org/chongsanessay.html

AN APPRAISAL OF JAPAN’S ASSIMILATION POLICIES, MENTIONING THE NATIONALITY CLAUSE PASSIM (Japan Focus, January 12, 2006)
http://www.debito.org/japanfocus011206.html
LIKEWISE PROBLEMS WITH JAPAN’S TREATMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RESIDENTS, AND PROPOSED SOLUTIONS (again passim)
http://www.debito.org/handout.html
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新潟日報:上越市が国籍条項完全撤廃へ

ブログの読者へ、クッドニュースです。東京都知事など、ご参考に。全国的までこの動きが広がるといいですね。有道 出人

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上越市が国籍条項完全撤廃へ
新潟日報2007年3月28日
http://www.niigata-nippo.co.jp/pref/index.asp?cateNo=3&newsNo=231718

 上越市は27日、2008年度分の職員採用から、国籍条項を完全に撤廃する方針を明らかにした。木浦正幸市長が、市議会3月定例会本会議の一般質問に答えた。

 同市は1995年度採用から保育士と学芸員ら、2003年度採用から社会福祉士で撤廃。08年度からは残りの一般行政職と建築・土木技師の採用でも国籍条項をなくす。

 同市は02年度に策定した人権総合計画の中で、国籍条項撤廃の拡大を検討してきた。市議会で木浦市長は「07年度に実施する職員採用試験から、国籍条項の撤廃に取り組みたい」と説明した。

 県内では、南魚沼市が07年度分の一般行政職採用から国籍条項を撤廃。新潟市も撤廃を協議する方針を示している。
ENDS

Media Updates: Big Daikon interview & JapanZine’s “Japan on the Web” listing of Debito.org

Hello Blog. Two things came out today that might interest you:

1) Interview with Steven of BigDaikon

Had a chat by Skype over the weekend with Steven, a JET out northern-Japanways. He turned it into a podcast interview, available at
http://www.bigdaikonpodcast.info/debitointerview25mar07.mp3

Talking about recent issues. Apologies for the sound quality, but the media is still pretty fledgling at this time. Keep listening–one gets used to it.

There’s also an ongoing discussion of the interview amongst the JETs on BigDaikon, FWIW, here at http://bigdaikon.org/board/viewtopic.php?t=92487 I’m actually a fan of the JET Programme (see why briefly in the interview), even if the feeling sometimes isn’t mutual. 🙂

2) Debito.org listed as notable source of info in JapanZine

We get a special mention from JapanZine, Carter Witt Media’s monthly free magazine in the Aichi region, in their March 2007 issue’s “JAPAN ON THE WEB” assessment. Their writeup of what this means as follows:

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Japan on the Web
by James Hadfield

It’s been nearly ten years now since Japanzine’s first “Japan on the Web” issue, our survey of the most essential websites for people living the dream in the Land of the Rising Sun. Back then, the World Wide Web was largely the domain of geeks, freaks and folks with way too much time on their hands – and, well, that’s pretty much how it looks today. But the internet has gone from being a marginal concern to an integral part of most people’s lives: imagine a world with no e-mail, Google, Wikipedia or puerile YouTube videos… makes you shudder, doesn’t it?

The following guide is intended to help you get the most out of the web while you’re here in Japan. It’s by no means definitive but, hey, there’s only so much web surfing a guy can manage before he starts to get a weird tingling sensation around the back of his eyes and a mild sense of nausea. While you’ll probably be familiar with some of these sites, we hope you’ll run into a few new faces, too. Oh, and if you already know all of them, maybe you should consider going outside and reminding yourself what the sun looks like, eh?…

Special Interest
Debito Arudou was all over the papers again last month, kicking up a stink over the controversial Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu mook. His website, Debito.org, is a mine of information for social activists and Average Joe foreigners living in Japan. His step-by-step guide to handling random ID checks by the police is a time-worn classic.
http://www.seekjapan.jp/article-1/866/Japan+on+the+Web
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Thanks very much for the writeup, James and JZ! Glad you find the stuff up here useful. Hope people enjoy the interview too. Debito in Sapporo

PM Abe: OK, OK, I apologize for “Comfort Women”, already

Hi Blog. Trace the Arc of Abe, from denial to hair-splitting to no comment to deflection to apology through his cabinet. Previous articles archived here

However, belated apologies like this (just by simple human nature, apologies tend to mean less when they come after being demanded, especially over a long duration) will have the irony of a similar debate:

Just how much “coercion” was there behind Abe’s apology? And how does this affect the sincerity of the act?

Anyway, it’s a step in the right direction (was there any other direction realistically to step?). The media from the Mainichi etc. leading up to this included below. Debito in Sapporo

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Abe apologizes to sex slaves
March 26, 2007. Mainichi Shinbun

http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20070326p2a00m0na030000c.html

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, under fire for denying that Japan forced women to work as sex slaves during World War II, offered a new apology Monday for the front line military brothels.

“I apologize here and now as prime minister,” Abe told a parliamentary committee, according to his spokesman Hiroshi Suzuki.

Thousands of Asian women — mostly from Korea and China — worked in the brothels, and estimates run as high as 200,000. Victims say the Japanese military forced them into the brothels and held them against their will.

Earlier this month, Abe denied there was any evidence the women had been coerced into sexual service, reflecting the views of conservative Japanese academics and politicians who argue the women were professional prostitutes and were paid for their services.

Abe’s denial drew intense criticism from Beijing and Seoul, which accuse Tokyo of failing to fully atone for it’s wartime invasions and atrocities.

The issue has also stirred debate in the United States, where a committee in the House of Representatives is considering a nonbinding resolution calling on Tokyo to fully acknowledge wrongdoing and make an unambiguous apology.

Abe previously said he would not apologize because Tokyo expressed its remorse in a 1993 statement on the matter by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono. (AP)

March 26, 2007. Mainichi Shinbun
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Shinzo Abe’s Double Talk
He’s passionate about Japanese victims of North Korea — and blind to Japan’s own war crimes.
Washington Post, Saturday, March 24, 2007; A16

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/23/AR2007032301640.html

THE TOUGHEST player in the “six-party” talks on North Korea this week was not the Bush administration — which was engaged in an unseemly scramble to deliver $25 million in bank funds demanded by the regime of Kim Jong Il — but Japan. Tokyo is insisting that North Korea supply information about 17 Japanese citizens allegedly kidnapped by the North decades ago, refusing to discuss any improvement in relations until it receives answers. This single-note policy is portrayed as a matter of high moral principle by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has used Japan’s victims — including a girl said to have been abducted when she was 13 — to rally his wilting domestic support.

Mr. Abe has a right to complain about Pyongyang’s stonewalling. What’s odd — and offensive — is his parallel campaign to roll back Japan’s acceptance of responsibility for the abduction, rape and sexual enslavement of tens of thousands of women during World War II. Responding to a pending resolution in the U.S. Congress calling for an official apology, Mr. Abe has twice this month issued statements claiming there is no documentation proving that the Japanese military participated in abducting the women. A written statement endorsed by his cabinet last week weakened a 1993 government declaration that acknowledged Japan’s brutal treatment of the so-called comfort women.

In fact the historical record on this issue is no less convincing than the evidence that North Korea kidnapped Japanese citizens, some of whom were used as teachers or translators. Historians say that up to 200,000 women from Korea, China, the Philippines and other Asian countries were enslaved and that Japanese soldiers participated in abductions. Many survivors of the system have described their horrifying experiences, including three who recently testified to Congress. That the Japanese government has never fully accepted responsibility for their suffering or paid compensation is bad enough; that Mr. Abe would retreat from previous statements is a disgrace for a leader of a major democracy.

Mr. Abe may imagine that denying direct participation by the Japanese government in abductions may strengthen its moral authority in demanding answers from North Korea. It does the opposite. If Mr. Abe seeks international support in learning the fate of Japan’s kidnapped citizens, he should straightforwardly accept responsibility for Japan’s own crimes — and apologize to the victims he has slandered.

ENDS
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COMMENT BY TIM ON THE LIFE IN JAPAN LIST:
The analogy – fair or otherwise – between the Japanese abductees and second world war ‘comfort women’ and forced labourers of other types, seems to get very little attention in the Japanese press.

However, this article in the Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/23/AR2007032301640.html was reported in this morning’s Asahi Newspaper (This is an onlilne article from yesterday) http://www.asahi.com/international/update/0325/006.html which accuses the Japanese prime minister of “double talk” about abductions.

BTW todays’ printed asahi article uses “ni mai jita” (forked tongue?) as a translation for “double talk” in the original, but yesterday’s internet version of the Asahi uses “gomakashi” (fudging) as a translation of the same article.

Abe’s talk is double, it is claimed, since he takes a severe, high moral against the North Koreans for abducting Japanese, but seems to be attempting to play down the abduction of Asians as sex slaves, claiming that there is no documentary evidence for abductions by the Japanese government. I am sure that at least the North Koreans have been drawing this analogy.

Indeed one Japanese abductee – who claims not to have been abducted – visited Japan and returned to North Korea saying things like (not accurate quote but something along the lines of ) ‘you don’t understand your past at all’ to this mother before he left. The mother thought he had been indocrinated. His story was reported in a back page Asahi article but I can’t find any mention of him on the net. Does anyone know his name?

Still less attention is the analogy between the Japanese abductees and the abduction of children – at least under non-Japanese law – by Japanese parents as mentioned in the life in Japan list previously on these threads. http://groups.yahoo.com/unbounce?adj=163087019,28171&p=1174878464 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/life_in_japan/message/1541 Tim
COMMENT ENDS
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South Korean activist enters Japanese Embassy to protest World War II sex slaves
March 21, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun

http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/international/news/20070321p2g00m0in016000c.html

PHOTO CAPTION: A South Korean protester Oh Sung-taek, left, runs away from a police officer, right, after he climbs over the walls of the Japanese Embassy compound in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, March 21, 2007. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe triggered outrage across Asia earlier this month by saying there was no proof the women, including some Australians, were coerced into prostitution. He later said Japan will not apologize again for the military’s “comfort stations.” The Korean read “History Distortion.” (AP Photo/ Lee Jin-man)

SEOUL — A South Korean activist scaled a wall of the Japanese Embassy on Wednesday, and staged a brief protest atop an embassy building against Japan’s denial of responsibility for forcing women to work as sex slaves during World War II.

Oh Sung-taek, a member of a vocal civic group, stomped on a Japanese flag and shouted anti-Japanese slogans for 10 minutes before he was removed by police, according to witnesses and a police officer. He wore a placard with a picture of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that read: “Destroy History Distortion.”

Police could not immediately enter the embassy to detain Oh because they needed permission from the embassy, the officer said on customary condition of anonymity.

Oh was among 100 protesters gathered outside the embassy for a rally that has been held every Wednesday since 1992 to demand that Japan apologize and compensate World War II sex slaves — who were also called “comfort women” — for Japanese troops.

“Japan who forgets her past cannot create a peaceful future,” read a banner held by one protester.

The turnout was larger than usual because Japan recently insisted there was no evidence its military or government forced women to work in World War II military brothels.

On Friday, Japan’s Cabinet issued a formal statement that no such proof existed, repeating a similar claim by Abe. The declaration was seen as a slap in the face of Asian nations already outraged over Abe’s remarks.

Historians say about 200,000 women, mostly from Korea and China, served in Japanese military brothels throughout Asia in the 1930s and ’40s. Many victims say they were kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops.

Japan ruled the Korean peninsula as a colony in 1910-45 before it was divided into the South and North. Many Koreans still harbor resentment toward Japan’s occupation. (AP)

March 21, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun
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Japan tries to calm furor over WWII sex slaves
March 7, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun

http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20070307p2a00m0na014000c.html

Japan tried to calm an international furor Wednesday over its forcing Asian women to work in military brothels during World War II, saying the government stands by an earlier landmark apology for the practice.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe triggered a barrage of criticism throughout Asia by saying last week there was no proof the women were coerced into prostitution. He said Monday Japan will not apologize again for the so-called “comfort stations” for Japanese soldiers.

“The prime minister’s recent remarks are not meant to change this government’s position,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said, referring to a breakthrough 1993 apology made by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono.

“The government continues to support the Kono statement,” Shiozaki said.

Historians say thousands of women — as many as 200,000 by some accounts — mostly from Korea, China and Japan worked in the Japanese military brothels throughout Asia in the 1930s and ’40s.

Documentary evidence uncovered in 1992 showed the Japanese military had a direct role in running the brothels. Victims, witnesses and even former soldiers have said women and girls were kidnapped to serve as prostitutes.

But prominent Japanese scholars and politicians routinely deny direct military involvement or the use of force in rounding up the women, blaming private contractors for any abuses. The government has also questioned the 200,000 women figure.

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering a nonbinding resolution demanding a formal acknowledgment and apology from the Japanese government for the brothels.

But on Wednesday, Shiozaki also reiterated earlier comments by Abe that the prime minister would not apologize again even if the measure passes.

“The U.S. resolution is not based on objective facts and does not take into consideration the responses that we have taken so far. Therefore, we will not offer a fresh apology,” Shiozaki said.

Abe’s recent comments about the military brothels have spurred a backlash across Asia, with critics in China, South Korea and the Philippines demanding Japan acknowledge its responsibility.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing denounced the use of sex slaves as “one of the serious crimes committed by Japanese militarists during the second World War.”

Li also urged the Japanese government to “stand up to this part of history, take responsibility and seriously view and properly handle this issue.”

Shiozaki tried to downplay criticism that Japan was reneging on past apologies.

“I think we should not continue these discussions in an unconstructive manner for much longer,” Shiozaki said. “Japan’s stance is clear.”

The 1993 apology was not approved by the parliament. It came after a Japanese journalist uncovered official defense documents showing the military had a direct hand in running the brothels — a role Tokyo until that point had denied. (AP)

March 7, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun
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Abe says LDP to conduct fresh investigation into WWII military brothels
March 8, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun

http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20070308p2a00m0na023000c.html

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday that ruling party lawmakers will conduct a fresh investigation into the Japanese military’s use of brothels during World War II.

The government is ready to cooperate with the investigation, Abe told a group of reporters, amid calls for a review from conservatives who question many of the claims by victims and others who say the government kidnapped the women and force them into sex slavery.

“I was told the party will conduct an investigation or a study, so we will provide government documents and cooperate as necessary,” he said.

Last week, Abe triggered outrage across Asia by saying there was no proof the women were coerced into prostitution. On Monday he said Japan will not apologize again for the Japanese military’s “comfort stations.”

Earlier Thursday, Japan’s top government spokesman said that Japan’s position on the coercion of women into sex slavery on the front-line during WWII has been misinterpreted and misrepresented by the U.S. media, and Tokyo will soon issue a rebuttal.

Abe’s remarks came as the U.S. Congress was considering a resolution demanding a formal apology from Japan for its wartime use of the women.

Japanese leaders apologized in 1993 for the government’s role, but the apology was not approved by the Diet. Japanese officials have said the government will not issue a fresh apology and that the issue has been blown up by the U.S. media.

“Our view is that the media reports are being made without an appropriate interpretation of the prime minister’s remarks,” chief Cabinet spokesman Yasuhisa Shiozaki said. “We are considering appropriate measures, such as putting out a rebuttal to reports or comments that are not based on facts or that are based on incorrect interpretations.”

He did not cite any specific reports.

“My remarks have been twisted in a sense and reported overseas which further invites misunderstanding,” Abe said. “This is an extremely unproductive situation,” he said.

Historians say as many as 200,000 women — mostly from Korea, China, Southeast Asia and Japan — worked in the Japanese military brothels throughout Asia in the 1930s and ’40s. Defense documents have shown that the military had a direct role in running the brothels, which the government had previously denied.

Abe said Thursday that he “basically stands by the 1993 apology.” The apology, made by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, acknowledged government involvement in the brothels, and that some women were coerced into sexual service.

But Abe’s remarks appeared to step away from the government’s previous position.

Defense documents uncovered in 1992 showed the military had a direct role in running the brothels, a charge the government had previously denied. Victims, witnesses and former soldiers have said women and girls were kidnapped to serve as prostitutes.

Abe’s comments have incensed critics in China, North and South Korea, and the Philippines who have demanded Japan acknowledge its responsibility.

The fallout from the remarks continued to build.

The coercion of women into prostitution was “one of the key, serious crimes committed by Japanese imperial soldiers,” Qin Gang, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

“We hope that Japan can show courage, take a responsible attitude toward history,” he said during a regular news briefing.

“This once again strips bare his true colors as a political charlatan,” North Korea’s official news agency said Wednesday. (AP)

March 8, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun
ENDS
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Japan’s Cabinet says no evidence establishing coercion of ‘comfort women’
March 16, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun

http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20070316p2a00m0na024000c.html

The Japanese government has found no evidence that the military or government forced women to work in World War II military brothels, Japan’s Cabinet said Friday.

The Cabinet presented its assessment in a response to an opposition lawmaker’s question over its stance on a 1993 apology for the government’s role in setting up brothels.

The lawmaker, Kiyomi Tsujimoto of the Social Democratic Party, posted the documents on her Internet home page.

“The government has not come across anything recorded in the materials it has found that directly shows so-called ‘coercion’ on the part of the military or constituted authorities,” the document said.

Historians say as many as 200,000 women, most of them Asians, worked in Japanese military brothels across the region in the 1930s and ’40s.

Japanese defense documents have shown that the military had a direct role in running the brothels, which the government had previously denied.

A senior Japanese official apologized in 1993 for the government’s role, but the Diet did not approve the apology.

Abe triggered outrage across Asia earlier this month by saying there was no proof the women were coerced into prostitution.

The remark came as the U.S. Congress was considering a resolution demanding that Japan formally apologize for its wartime use of women.

Abe later said that he stands by the 1993 apology, and that Japan will not apologize again for the military’s “comfort stations.” (AP)

March 16, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun
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Former Japanese leader Nakasone denies setting up sex slave brothel in World War II
March 23, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun

http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20070323p2a00m0na023000c.html

A Japanese former prime minister and elder statesman Friday denied setting up a military brothel staffed by sex slaves during World War II, despite writing a memoir that critics say shows he did so while in the navy.

Yasuhiro Nakasone, who served as prime minister from 1982 to 1987 and was known for his friendship with then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan, described the facility he set up as a place for civilian engineers to relax and play Japanese chess.

“I never had personal knowledge of the matter,” Nakasone told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan when asked about wartime sex slaves, known in Japan euphemistically as “comfort women.”

“I only knew about it from what I read in the newspaper,” he said, adding that such enslavement was “deplorable” and that he supported the Japanese government spokesman’s 1993 apology to victims.

Historians say thousands of women — most from Korea and China — worked in the frontline brothels, and estimates run as high as 200,000. Victims say they were forced into the brothels by the Japanese military and were held against their will.

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering a resolution that calls on Japan to make a full apology for the brothels, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stirred criticism earlier this month when he denied there was evidence the women were forced into service.

A Nakasone memoir published in 1978 said that members of his 3,000-man navy unit in wartime Philippines and Borneo “began attacking women, while others took to gambling.”

“At one point, I went to great pains to set up a comfort station” to keep them under control, he wrote. The essay was in an anthology of war accounts, “The Eternal Navy — Stories to Hand Down to the Younger Generation.”

In the 1990s, former Philippine sex slaves cited the memoir as further proof Nakasone was involved with enslavement, bolstering their demands that Tokyo compensate the victims. The Japanese government in 1995 set up a private fund for the women, but never offered direct government compensation.

A Nakasone spokesman in 1997 told The Associated Press that the brothel was operated by local business people and that the prostitutes worked there voluntarily and had not been forced into sexual slavery.

But on Friday, Nakasone was vague about the activities at the facility, skirting a question about whether prostitutes were active there.

“The engineers … wanted to have a facility to relax and play ‘go,’ so we simply established a place so they could have that,” Nakasone said, explaining that the men — civilian engineers — needed someplace for rest and entertainment.

Nakasone’s government, as all Japanese governments until the 1990s, denied any official involvement with the wartime brothels.

The former prime minister is known in Japan for his nationalist stance. In 1985, he was the first Japanese prime minister to visit a Tokyo war shrine after it began honoring executed war criminals. (AP)

March 23, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun
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NUGW strikes at Berlitz Sapporo, Shinjuku, and Fukuoka

Hi Blog. Just a quick report…

I participated in a strike on March 24 in downtown Sapporo (Minami 1 Nishi 3) organized by the National Union of General Workers–Tokyo Nanbu (http://www.nugw.org). Four long-term workers in Berlitz (branch now owned by ELS) were summarily fired without sufficient reason, in a pretty clear attempt at union busting. This was joined by two other strikes at Berlitz in Shinjuku and Fukuoka at the same time.

It went very well. Two NUGW leaders, Catherine Campbell and Kate Deaux, flew up to lead the strike, and the local union of unions (Sapporo Kan Rentai Kumiai) with local Japanese labor leaders also brought up a sound truck and banners. After notifying the front desk of Berlitz of the intent to strike, twenty people (including Berlitz students) went outside to hand out flyers at a busy intersection (we passed out 600 over the course of an hour, meaning one every six seconds) without incident. Catherine lead all the speeches in masterful Japanese, explaining the labor law issues to the public, and our sprechicall at the end brought forth smiles from the crowd (seriously).

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Labor laws will not protect your working rights in Japan. Nor will the labor arbitration boards with certainty, or the ministries, or the courts. The labor laws themselves are being revised by the government (as the Sapporo Kan Rentai Kumiai developed in a lecture this afternoon). The only way you will have any job security, especially as a non-Japanese worker, is to join a union. More information at the NUGW link above and at

http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html#unions

Well done Catherine and Kate, for coming up to show us how NUGW does it, and does it well. And thanks to the Sapporo unionists for keeping everything strong and local.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

中東外交「青い目、金髪は駄目」=人種引き合いに日本の貢献強調−麻生外相発言

中東外交「青い目、金髪は駄目」=人種引き合いに日本の貢献強調−麻生外相発言
ヤフーニュース 3月21日21時1分配信 時事通信
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20070321-00000098-jij-pol

 麻生太郎外相は21日午後、長崎県時津町で講演。日本独自の中東和平外交として、ヨルダン渓谷の開発を進める「平和と繁栄の回廊」構想に触れ、「米国人にできないことを日本がやっている。日本人というのは信用がある。青い目で金髪だったら多分駄目よ」と述べた。
 外相は「われわれは幸いにして黄色い顔をしている。そこ(中東)で搾取をしてきたとか、ドンパチ、機関銃撃ったとか一回もない」と語った。中東での日本の貢献を強調するのが真意とみられるが、外交と人種や外見を重ね合わせた表現には欧米などから批判を受ける可能性がある。 

最終更新:3月21日21時1分
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Aso says Japanese better diplomats due to hair and eye color

Hi Blog. More Japanese-elite social science at work. Foreign Minister Aso offers his well-thunked-out theories as to why Japanese would do better than Westerners in the Middle East diplomatically.

Wonder how much of this has to do with how well Japan gets along in parts of Asia diplomatically. Oh yeah, must be the color of Japanese eyes and hair getting in the way… Race engenders trust, you see.

Courtesy of the Mainichi, NYT/Reuters/CNN, Jerusalem Post… thanks to several people for notifying me.

Followed by an article from the FCCJ website last June talking about Aso’s lack of a lack of a past himself, and a NYT Editorial of Feb 13, 2006 demonstrating his lack of diplomatic tact. Couldn’t be due to the shape of his mouth, now could it? It might, if you follow Aso Logic. Debito.

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Japan’s FM: Japan doing what US can’t

Associated Press, THE JERUSALEM POST Mar. 22, 2007
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1173879146662&pagename=JPost%2FJP Article%2FShowFull

Japan’s outspoken foreign minister said “blue-eyed, blond” Westerners probably would not be as successful as the Japanese in Middle East diplomacy, media reported Thursday.

Taro Aso made the remarks Wednesday during a speech in southwestern Japan, business daily Nikkei reported. National newspaper Mainichi carried a similar report.

“Japan is doing what the Americans can’t do. The Japanese are trusted. It’s probably no good with blue eyes and blond hair,” he was quoted as saying by the papers, referring to projects in Jordan River Rift Valley initiated by Japan.

“Luckily, we have yellow faces. We have no history of exploitation there or … fired a machine gun for once,” Aso said, according to the reports.

Takashi Sasaki, one of Aso’s aides, confirmed the minister gave a speech to a group of local assembly members in Nagasaki on diplomacy including Japan’s policy on Middle East, but refused to confirm the exact wording of the speech.

Japan, which wants to deepen its engagement with the Middle East, hosted a confidence-building conference in Tokyo earlier this month attended by officials from Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan.

The conservative minister is known for making gaffes. Aso has irked China with provocative remarks such as calling the country a military threat and attributing Taiwan’s high educational standards to Japanese colonial rule in the first half of the 20th century.

ENDS
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Aso hints Westerners not as good as Japanese in Mideast peace initiative
The Mainichi Shinbun March 22, 2007

http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20070322p2a00m0na031000c.html

NAGASAKI — Foreign Minister Taro Aso caused a stir Wednesday by commenting in a speech on a Middle East peace initiative that “blue eyed, blond” Westerners would be “no good.”

Speaking during a lecture in Nagasaki Prefecture, Aso referred to a Japanese peace initiative, saying, “Japan is doing what the Americans can’t do. You can trust Japanese. It would probably be no good to have blue eyes and blond hair.”

The minister added, “Fortunately, we have yellow faces. We have never at all been involved in exploitation there (in the Middle East) or been involved in fights or fired machine guns.

Aso’s comments related to projects in the Jordan Valley connected with a Japanese peace initiative. (Mainichi)
March 22, 2007
ENDS
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Still searching for the Japanese versions…

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Japan Minister Raps “Blond” Diplomats in Mideast
By REUTERS
Published: March 22, 2007 Filed at 8:22 a.m. ET
New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world/international-japan-aso-blond.html
Also CNN at http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/03/22/japan.aso.reut/index.html

TOKYO, March 22 (Reuters) – Blond, blue-eyed Westerners probably can’t be as successful at Middle East diplomacy as Japanese with their “yellow faces,” Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso was quoted by media as saying on Wednesday.

“Japan is doing what Americans can’t do,” the Nikkei business daily quoted the gaffe-prone Aso as saying in a speech.

“Japanese are trusted. If (you have) blue eyes and blond hair, it’s probably no good,” he said.

“Luckily, we Japanese have yellow faces.”

Foreign Ministry officials were unable to comment on the report, which said Aso elaborated by saying Japan had never exploited the Middle East, started a war there or fired a shot.

Aso, seen in some circles as a contender to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe if the Japanese leader runs into trouble in a July election for parliament’s upper house, is known for verbal gaffes.

He offended South Korea with remarks in 2003 that were interpreted in Seoul as trying to justify some of Japan’s actions during its 1910-1945 colonization of the Korean peninsula.

He also drew criticism in 2001 when, as economics minister, he said he hoped to make Japan the kind of country where “rich Jews” would want to live.

Aso said then he had not intended to be discriminatory.

Japan has long felt it has a special role to play in the Middle East because it lacks much of the political baggage of the United States, allowing for warmer ties with Arab nations.

Last week Tokyo hosted four-way talks aimed at working toward peace in the Middle East, involving Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories as well as Japan.

Abe’s government has been battered by a series of problematic remarks by cabinet ministers this year, including the health minister’s reference to women as “birth-giving machines” and Aso’s own description of Washington’s occupation strategy in Iraq as “immature.”

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SPEAKING OF A LACK OF A PAST (OR OF DIPLOMATIC TACT), ASO SHOULD ENJOY SUCH A LUXURY. DEBITO

Aso amnesia
by Christopher Reed
Courtesy of the FCCJ website.
http://www.fccj.or.jp/~fccjyod2/node/1160

Japan’s foreign minister, Taro Aso, has made so many embarrassing and asinine remarks, several betraying racist-colonial attitudes, that he was attacked in a New York Times editorial as “inflammatory.”

But he is connected to a much nastier ghost from Japan’s imperial past.

Unmentioned by the NYT and deliberately under-reported in the Japanese media is the story of the aristocratic Aso’s connection, through his family coalmining firm, with the cruel and degrading exploitation of thousands of Korean laborers in slave-like conditions. Indeed this scandal, together with Japan’s reluctance to confront other past atrocities, remains its primary foreign policy obstacle.

In other countries, a link with slave labor would be intolerable for an important government official. The Korean pit workers were systematically underpaid, overworked, underfed and confined in penury.

They suffered chronic ill health, frequent death from unsanitary conditions or work accidents and were under 24-hour watch by brutal police. Their release came only with Japan’s 1945 defeat. Neither the survivors nor their families have received a penny in personal reparations, despite pleas from both Koreas.

Aso, 65, cannot plead generational separation. From 1973-79, when he entered politics, he ran the family company in Fukuoka Prefecture. He did not then address its history of peonage labor nor has he since. The Foreign Ministry did not respond to my inquiries.

The Aso company changed its name more than once and in 2001 entered a joint venture with Lafarge Cement of France, with Aso’s younger brother, Yutaka, remaining president of Lafarge Aso Cement Co. In December, the French ambassador in Tokyo awarded Yutaka the Legion d’Honneur at a champagne reception.

Guests of honour were Taro Aso and his wife, Chikako.

It seemed a fitting tribute to a family steeped in Japan’s recent aristocratic traditions. The Aso line includes a noble samurai, one of five who led the 1868 overthrow of the centuries-old shogunate that ushered in the modern era.

His great grandfather, Takakichi, founded the Aso mining firm in 1872. At one time it owned eight pits in Kyushu’s rich Chikuho coal fields and was the biggest of three family corporations mining an area producing half of Japan’s “black diamonds.”

As the scion of landed gentry, Taro Aso graduated from the university that traditionally educates Japan’s imperial family, spent time at London University, joined what was then Aso Industries, and quickly became a director. Completing the aristocratic tradition, he joined the Japanese rifle shooting team in the 1976 Olympics.

A grandfather was Shigeru Yoshida, prime minister of Japan five times between 1946 and 1954, and an autocratic conservative who, conveniently for the Aso family, conducted a 1950s purge of “reds” in the coal mining unions. Aso’s wife adds to family influence as the daughter of Zenko Suzuki, prime minister from 1980–82.

There is even a royal link. Aso’s sister, Nobuko, married Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, recently in the headlines over his opposition to a woman occupying the chrysanthemum throne. Tomohito suggested continuing the male line through concubines, an imperial tradition that would move Japan back several centuries.

The Aso connection to forced labor — unmentioned in its official website history — has been catalogued by three amateur historians in Fukuoka assisted by a Korean living in Japan. The four present a shocking picture with local library references, and documented in their books.

Tokyo’s National General Mobilization Law that forced all colonial subjects to work wherever it suited Japan, was not passed until 1939, but the historians found that before then, Korean laborers were shipped to Aso Mines. Precise numbers are unknown, but it was several thousands, especially after an Aso Mine strike of 400 miners in 1932. After 1939, the historians calculate, the number of Koreans in Japan’s labor force swelled to over a million; their figure is 1,120,000. Tokyo’s official number is 724,287.

The 12,000 Aso miners were paid a third less than equivalent Japanese labourers to dig coal to fuel Japan’s war.

It amounted to ¥50 a month, but less than ¥10 after mandatory confiscations for food, clothes, housing and enforced savings that often remained unpaid. All workers toiled underground for 15 hours a day, seven days a week, with no holidays at all.

“Housing” was cramped, dirty dormitory huts with six to seven tiny rooms in each. Single men lived and slept on a single tatami mat. There was no heating or running water. Lavatories were in earthen pits. A three-metre high wooden fence topped with electrified barbed wire ringed the outside. Workers were prisoners, guarded by police.

They kept statistics, however. In March 1944, Aso Mines had a total of 7,996 Korean laborers of whom 56 had recently died. A staggering 4,919 had escaped. Across Fukuoka, total fugitives amounted to 51.3 percent but at Aso Mines it was 61.5 percent because conditions there were “even worse,” said Noriaki Fukudome, one of the historians.

Most workers suffered malnutrition with no meat or fish provided. Early last year in Seoul the government-appointed Truth Commission on Forced Mobilization Under Japanese Imperialism began inquiries, toured 16 Korean provinces, conducted hearings, and took evidence from witnesses. Its chairman, Dr Jeon Ki-ho, also visited Japan to clarify what he boldly called its “atrocities.”

The Korean commission compiled a list of hundreds of Japanese companies that exploited forced Korean labour, and likely would have knowledge of remains of the dead. One firm prominently on the list: Aso Mines. But a spokesman said the firm could not investigate the whereabouts of remains as no records were available.

The commission continues to press for information.

As if this record was not bad enough, Aso has continued to offend Japan’s neighbors — and the world — with a series of offensive and inaccurate remarks.

Fundamentally he seems to share Japan’s racial supremacy ideology of the 1930s, encapsulated in his remark last October at a museum opening, that Japan was “one nation, one civilization, one language, one culture, and one race, the like of which there is no other on earth.”

This ignored the presence of the indigenous Ainu in Hokkaido, and the natives of Okinawa, both of whom have their own languages, and the Ainu, different racial characteristics. But Aso-style genealogical mythology was scientifically discredited decades ago. It remains the currency only of the racist inclined.

Aso also suggested that Koreans “voluntarily” changed their names to Japanese ones, thus ignoring a Tokyo law compelling them to do so. Above all he remains a Yasukuni enthusiast, but his remark that the emperor should visit the shrine and its sanctified war criminals — he has conspicuously avoided doing so — was too much for the LDP establishment.

Aso’s blunder was belittled. But is he just a political loudmouth of the kind many nations occasionally produce? His continued presence in office suggests he may be more than this. What the New York Times’s editorial described as “inflammatory statements about Japan’s disastrous era of militarism, colonialism and war crimes that culminated in the Second World War,” runs contrary to the new Old Right version of those events.

In this scenario Japan was a pitiful victim of western imperialist aggression and the war was merely defensive. Is this now the accepted version, and is Aso merely its stalking horse? If so, the Japanese (again) embark on a self-destructive foreign policy.

The whole issue should be opened for debate, but here the media are lamentably deficient. Two Japanese media scholars, Takesato Watanabe of Doshisha University in Kyoto and Tatsuro Hanada of Tokyo University, identified the cause as the dead hand of Japan’s kisha clubs.

The closely-knit journalist specialists of the kisha clubs conspire to keep out of the news anything they think will embarrass their department, and thus make their jobs more difficult. In this they abnegate the prime requirement of the press: to report without fear or favour.

As Hanada said: “As Aso is a candidate for prime minister, his attitudes and behaviour are a political issue with the question of his qualifications an important subject that should be open to the Japanese public.” As for Aso himself, Watanabe came briskly to the point.

“He should be replaced,” he said.

Posted by Martyn Williams on Sat, 2006-07-15 22:31
ENDS
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That NYT Editorial:

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Japan’s Offensive Foreign Minister
NEW YORK TIMES Editorial: February 13, 2006
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/13/opinion/13mon3.html?ex=1297486800&en=e70214f6699633cb&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss
(Thanks to Gen Kanai’s weblog)

People everywhere wish they could be proud of every bit of their countries’ histories. But honest people understand that’s impossible, and wise people appreciate the positive value of acknowledging and learning from painful truths about past misdeeds. Then there is Japan’s new foreign minister, Taro Aso, who has been neither honest nor wise in the inflammatory statements he has been making about Japan’s disastrous era of militarism, colonialism and war crimes that culminated in the Second World War.

Besides offending neighboring countries that Japan needs as allies and trading partners, he is disserving the people he has been pandering to. World War II ended before most of today’s Japanese were born. Yet public discourse in Japan and modern history lessons in its schools have never properly come to terms with the country’s responsibility for such terrible events as the mass kidnapping and sexual enslavement of Korean young women, the biological warfare experiments carried out on Chinese cities and helpless prisoners of war, and the sadistic slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians in the city of Nanjing.

That is why so many Asians have been angered by a string of appalling remarks Mr. Aso has made since being named foreign minister last fall. Two of the most recent were his suggestion that Japan’s emperor ought to visit the militaristic Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 Japanese war criminals are among those honored, and his claim that Taiwan owes its high educational standards to enlightened Japanese policies during the 50-year occupation that began when Tokyo grabbed the island as war booty from China in 1895. Mr. Aso’s later lame efforts to clarify his words left their effect unchanged.

Mr. Aso has also been going out of his way to inflame Japan’s already difficult relations with Beijing by characterizing China’s long-term military buildup as a “considerable threat” to Japan. China has no recent record of threatening Japan. As the rest of the world knows, it was the other way around. Mr. Aso’s sense of diplomacy is as odd as his sense of history.
ENDS

入店不可「純血日本人のみ」看板、帰化者入店拒否、外国人男根用心マンニュアル

ブロクの皆様こんにちは。有道 出人です。いつもお世話になっております。

さてと、きょうのラインアップは以降の通りです:

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1)越谷市で入店不可看板:中国人、帰化人、残留孤児、中国系混血人児。純血日本人のみ
2)広島市で帰化した東南アジア系の日本人でも入店拒否
3)「女子学生堕落マニュラル」で「外国人生殖器の違い」など
4)2ちゃんねる:「死刑になるなら敗訴賠償金を払うが」(読売)

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By Arudou Debito
March 22, 2007
http://www.debito.org/nihongo.html
リアルタイムアップデートなら私のブログへどうぞ
http://www.debito.org/?cat=8

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1)越谷市で入店不可看板:中国人、帰化人、残留孤児、中国系混血人児。純血日本人のみ

私の店舗前に掲げる「外国人お断り」の看板のコレクションが増えつつあります。しかし、先日、唖然とするくらいの排他的な看板を記者に送付されました。

===========================
入店不可
中国人&帰化人、残留孤児、中国系混血人児、接待に入店禁止、純血日本人男児のみ。

===========================
edensign03070721.jpg
店舗「エデン」
埼玉県越谷市越谷2ー3
Phone: 048-964-8852
http://www.k-eden.com
看板の写真は
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Koshigaya

これは「アダルト・ストア」だそうですが、この看板が掲げ続けられると、「中国人の血が汚点だ」が公に助長されるのにちがいません。ましてや「帰化人」なら無論日本国憲法違反ですね。放置されると模倣を促進すると思います。どうぞ事情を調べて下さい。

同様に…

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2)広島市で帰化した東南アジア系の日本人でも入店拒否

場所「CLUB サマ サマ」
住所 広島市中天地1ー2 広島代ビル3F
電話 082ー246ー2320
看板は
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 暴力団及びその関係者の方、風俗者、風俗関係者、酩酊者、18歳未満の未成年者、当店でトラブルのあった方、外国人の方、プロモーターの方の入店は固くお断ります。入店後発覚した場合、即退場して頂きます。御料金は返金致しません。
またそれ意外の方でも、当店の判断でお断りする場合もありますので、ご了承下さい。

===========================
samasamasign1.jpg
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Hiroshima

但し、この規則に反していない人も外見のみで退場させられました:

入店拒否された東南アジア系帰化した日本人より本文:
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 「ご無沙汰しております。昨日、広島で人権講演の仕事があって(2007年3月 8日)、その前の日(7日)から入っていました。男性友人(いわゆる日本人)二人と食事をしてその次に広島の繁華街にあった紹介所を訪れました。紹介所で は「インドネシアの女性がいる店でも良いか」と聞かれて「良い」と返事をしました。しばらくすると、そのインドネシアの女性などがいる店【サマ サマ】の 従業員が来て私たちを案内してくれた。そしてお店の中に入りました。

 「入って座るやいなや奥の方から男性が走って来て「すみなせん、外人は駄目なん です」って言いました。私はたまたまパスポートを持っていたので「国籍は日本人なんですよ」って言いました。でも「見た目が外国人なので退室してくださ い」って言われました。そして店の外に出された後に、店の外に書いてあった看板を見せられました。そこには、外国人が断りと書いてあった。写真を取ろうと したときに邪魔されましたで少しぶれていますが、その写真も添付いたしました。いかがいたしましょう。」
===========================

帰化も効かないならば、帰化は無意味となるではないでしょうか。阻害された人に弁護士を推薦しましたが、もし直接取材などをしたければ、どうぞ私にご連絡下さい。debito@debito.org. 転送させていただいきます。

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3)「女子学生堕落マニュラル」で「外国人生殖器の違い」など

当単行本はいかに科学的研究法に従っていない分析で笑いたいですが、大変真面目に読まれたいマンニュアルです。1995年に「非行問題研究会」に出版され、未だにアマゾンなどで発売中です。
darakumanual001.jpg
内容は(抜粋):
===========================
外国人との交際法:
人種別ペニスの違い:日本人…白人…黒人…アラブ人(馬なみ!!)(イラスト付き)
外国人の困るところ:
体臭がきつい 気性が激しい セックスがしつこい お金を持っていない
ジャンキーが多く危険

===========================
darakumanualpenises.jpg
スキャンしたページはこちらです。
http://www.debito.org/joseidarakumanual.html

これと「外人犯罪裏ファイル」と同様に「言論の事由」で保護されていますか。

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4)2ちゃんねる:「死刑になるなら敗訴賠償金を払うが」(読売)

「死刑になるなら払う」2ちゃんねる管理者、賠償拒否
3月20日10時42分配信 読売新聞
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20070320-00000301-yom-soci
http://www.debito.org/?p=280

 インターネット掲示板「2ちゃんねる」への誹謗(ひぼう)中傷の書き込みなどを巡り、名誉棄損訴訟などで相次いで敗訴している管理者・西村博之氏(30)が19日、東京地裁で開かれた民事訴訟に出廷した。

 西村氏は閉廷後、報道陣に対し、過去の訴訟で確定した賠償金などについて、「支払わなければ死刑になるのなら支払うが、支払わなくてもどうということはないので支払わない」などと、支払いの意思がないことを明らかにした。

 西村氏は、これまでに全国で50件以上の訴訟を起こされ、その大半で敗訴が確定。未払いの賠償金や、裁判所の仮処分命令に従わないことに対する制裁金が少なくとも計約5億円に上るとされるが、西村氏が自ら支払いに応じたケースはほとんどない。その理由について、西村氏は「踏み倒そうとしたら支払わなくても済む。そんな国の変なルールに基づいて支払うのは、ばかばかしい」と話した。
ends
=========================

クイックコメント:西村氏は大人ですか。こういう議論は大人気ないですね。

私と2ちゃんねるの関係のいきさつは
http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html
http://www.debito.org/?cat=21

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きょうは以上です。いつもお読みいただきありがとうございました。
宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
March 22, 2007
ENDS

Sakanaka Essay: “A New Framework for Japan’s Immigration Policies”

Hi Blog. Debito.org is proud to premiere an important essay on the future of immigration to Japan.

To tell you just how important, I turn the keyboard over to Eric Johnston. Debito

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A New Framework for Japan’s Immigration Policies
By Hidenori Sakanaka,
Director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute
Former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau

INTRODUCTION
By ERIC JOHNSTON
Deputy Editor The Japan Times Osaka bureau

Japan’s political leaders are (yet again) making international headlines over remarks regarding past crimes ranging from the Rape of Nanking to the forced recruitment of women to serve the Japanese military as sex slaves. But the really big Japan story today is not the heated arguments over history but the far less publicized, yet far more fundamental, argument about the future. Namely, what it will mean, in a half-century from now, to be “Japanese”?

Current predictions are that, without large-scale immigration and assuming the birthrate continues to remain low, Japan’s population will shrink from the present 127 million to 100 million by 2050, and to just 64 million by 2100. The number of those considered to be of working age (15-64) is also going to decline rapidly at a time when the number of elderly is expected to skyrocket. By 2050, more than a third of the population is expected to be over 65 years old, making Japan one of, if not the oldest, countries in the world.

For the past decade, the debate about how to adjust to an aging society with fewer children has largely been conducted behind closed doors, with different ministries putting out different proposals to keep Japan economically competitive while politically influential academics slay entire forests as they propose a variety of solutions. The endless sub-committees, blue ribbon panels, white papers, “wise-men” advisory boards, and special project teams have all gone out of their way to stress the importance of raising the retirement age and providing retraining opportunities for older people, ensuring that younger Japanese are integrated into the work-force as full-time employees not as “freeters”, and making use of more robot technology to replace the ever-dwindling number of human workers.

Progressive members of the official debate have gone so far to suggest that Japan should be dragged, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the 21st century by enacting official policies to make it easier for women in the workforce. Calls for better economic opportunities for women can be found in many of the reports. However, the more conservative commentators merely suggest a “better environment for women”, hinting that, while they are not against the idea of women working “certain” jobs, their primary responsibility should still be to stay at home and make babies.

And a good number have gone a step further: admitting Japan will not be able to survive without foreign labor. Various proposals, especially from Keidanren, the Justice Ministry, are now on the radar of most politicians and bureaucrats, and even the media. But given the politically explosive nature of the subject, few members of the official debate want to talk about what Japan might look like with millions and millions of foreigners.

A notable, and praiseworthy, exception is Hidenori Sakanaka. Two years ago, his book “Nyukan Senki” caused a sensation among those following the official debate over immigration. A former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, Sakanaka was a consummate insider, an elite bureaucrat who has the ear of senior bureaucrats and business leaders, and the very few ruling party politicians, like the LDP’s Taro Kono, who are thinking seriously about the future of foreigners in Japan.

In his book, Sakanaka outlined a vision of Japan in 2050, and stated what was obvious but what nobody in power dared address: Japan fundamentally faces two choices, whether to remain a “big” country by bringing in millions of foreigners or become a “small” country and admit very few. Since the publication of “Nyukan Senki”, Sakanaka has had a busy post-retirement career, traveling around the country, speaking to senior business leaders, academics, lawyers, government bureaucrats, the media, and, of course, NGOs about what he believes the Japanese government must do to ensure that, whichever path it chooses, it’s not only the right one but also the one that both protects foreigners and is practical for all concerned.

Now, for the first time, part of “Nyukan Senki” has been translated into English in the hopes that the outside world will better be able to follow, and perhaps even participate in the discussions, formal and informal, that are taking place in Japan. Readers lacking a deep familiarity with Japanese politics should understand that, within the official debate (a debate that human rights NGOs, liberal opposition politicians have little or no influence over and which foreigners are entirely absent) Sakanaka is far more concerned about the enactment of a humane but realistic immigration policy than many of the other politicians, bureaucrats, academics, and senior corporate leaders with similar levels of political clout.

In the end, Japan’s debate over its future must involve serious discussion and sound policy decisions regarding foreign immigrant labor. There is a tendency among far too many people with far too much to hide to claim that “Japan’s debate on its immigration policies is a domestic, not an international issue.” This kind of denial, blindness and self-delusion is responsible for Japan’s inability to face up to its past, which is dangerous enough. But how more dangerous will it be in the future for not only Japan but all those from outside Japan who immigrate?

Happily, Sakanaka-san is determined to do his part to ensure that when politicians and bureaucrats speak of the need of a “national debate” or “national consensus” on the issue of foreign labor, they will be forced to open their closed doors to as many voices, from within Japan and without, as possible.

(Note: The opinions contained within are those of Eric Johnston and do not necessarily reflect those of The Japan Times.)
=======================

Now go on to read Sakanaka’s essay at
http://www.debito.org/sakanakaonimmigration.htm
Enjoy.

Debito.org updates: Naturalization, kara kikan, foreign penises, and JT/Japan Focus to conclude GAIJIN HANZAI issue

Hi Blog. Been beavering away this evening getting some updates to Debito.org out of the way. To wit:

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

NATURALIZATION UPDATE

To ground things in more context, I’ve taken the liberty to start archiving articles dealing with how other countries (not just the US and Japan) deal with the aspect of citizenship and naturalization.

Just included some articles on issues cropping up in Canada and Holland (where people are deprived of their citizenship due to technicalities), Austria and the Caribbean (where citizenship is for sale), and Moldova and Rumania (where history has created historical entitlement to emigration and citizenship in the latter).

http://www.debito.org/naturalization.html#othercountries

Will web more as I find them. Others are welcome to notify me at debito@debito.org
/////////////////////////////////////

WHAT TO DO IF… SITE

Also added is an important essay (which unfortunately winked out of existence when the Issho Kikaku website was rendered defunct) resurrected by the authors on Debito.org:

How your employment experience (in Japan or abroad) counts towards pensions in Japan (kara kikan), by Steve van Dresser and Stephanie Houghton (written 2002, but still applicable).

http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#academicjob
/////////////////////////////////////

BEWARE OF FOREIGNERS–AND THEIR PENISES!

Okay, thought that title would get you reading this post…

ADVICE TO WOMEN ON WHAT TO AVOID IN RELATIONSHIPS
INCLUDING FOREIGNERS

courtesy
JOSHI GAKUSEI DARAKU MANYUARU
(“Manual for Women Students Regarding Depravity”)

Published by Hikou Mondai Kenkyuukai (“Research Institute on the Delinquency Problem”) December 1995, particularly pages 72-75. Available at Amazon Japan. Information courtesy of Michael H. Fox (thanks).

Still in print, this manual compares not only compares foreign penis sizes, it warns its intended Japanese female audience that having relations with foreigners is problematic because inter alia “they don’t have money”, “their temperament is too strong”, “they want a lot of sex”, and “there are a lot of junkies”.

See all the scanned pages (Arabs are apparently the most well-endowed) at
http://www.debito.org/joseidarakumanual.html

Courtesy of your unfettered guarantee of freedom of speech in Japan (and the lack of any constraints generally associated with social science, or the Scientific Method). More to come…

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

One more for now…

JAPAN TIMES AND JAPAN FOCUS ON GAIJIN HANZAI MAGAZINE

The first is a journalistic take on the issue, wrapping it up for posterity at 1500 words (full of images and links too), the second an academic overview for those who came in late at 6000 words.

Anyway, readers of this blog will want the Cliff’s Notes version no doubt, so here it is:

DEMISE OF CRIME MAGAZINE HISTORIC
Gaijin Hanzai’s withdrawal from the market showed real power of ‘newcomers’ for the first time”

By Arudou Debito
Column 35 for the Japan Times Community Page
Published March 20, 2007

“DIRECTOR’S CUT”, annotated, with links to sources at
http://www.debito.org/japantimes032007.html

Quick-and-dirty Japan Times version at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070320zg.html

The deluxe academic version:
“GAIJIN HANZAI MAGAZINE AND HATE SPEECH IN JAPAN: The newfound power of Japan’s international residents” (March 20, 2007) is available at Japan Focus
http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2386

That should do for now. I’m pretty much all written out for one day.
G’night. Debito in Sapporo

Blacklist: IUHW and U of Hyogo added

Hi Blog. The Blacklist of Japanese Universities (click here to see what that is) has just been updated for the season.

Breaking the 100 mark with two more universities are:

==============================
NAME OF UNIVERSITY: International University of Health and Welfare (Kokusai Iryou Fukushi Daigaku) (Private)
LOCATION: Kita Kanamaru 2600-1, Odawara City, Tochigi Prefecture http://www.iuhw.ac.jp/
EMPLOYMENT ABUSE: “From its inception in 1995, International University of Health and Welfare, Tochigi Prefecture, has discriminated against its foreign teachers, and often its few foreign students. Foreign teachers, many of whom have been far more qualified than their Japanese counterparts, have suffered extreme marginalization born of . . . garden variety racism…”
SOURCE OF INFORMATION: Brave testimonial from Kevin Dobbs, Associate Professor, IUHW, available here.
http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html#IUHW
==============================

NAME OF UNIVERSITY: University of Hyogo (Hyogo Kenritsu Daigaku, or literally Hyogo Prefectural University) (Public) School of Human and Environmental Studies
LOCATION: 670-0092 Hyogo-ken, Himeji-shi, Shinzaike-Honmachi 1-1-12
EMPLOYMENT ABUSE: Hiring gaikokujin kyoushi or “Foreign Lecturer” on a one-year contract (According to my source, the university already has three other people with this title.)–even though the Ministry of Education has told universities to phase out this position.
SOURCE OF INFORMATION: Job advertisement at JREC-IN at http://jrecin.jst.go.jp/html/kyujin/main/D106101920.html (archived here) and http://jrecin.jst.go.jp/html/kyujin/main/D106101920_E.html (archived here)
http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html#hyogokenritsu
==============================

Also added is an important essay (which unfortunately winked out of existence when the Issho Kikaku website was rendered defunct) resurrected by the author on Debito.org:

If you have been on a contract, renewed several times, then are suddenly facing dismissal, you can find out more about your rights in this essay by Steve van Dresser, “The Employment Rights of Repeatedly Renewed Private Sector Contract Workers” here:
http://www.debito.org/rightsofrepeatedlyrenewed.htm

Debito in Sapporo

Yomiuri on 2-Channel’s Nishimura: “I’ll pay court damages only if sentenced to death”

Hi Blog. 2-Channel’s Admin Nishimura Hiroyuki, now millions of dollars in the hole in terms of court penalties, just keeps the ball right on rolling. According to today’s Yomiuri, he won’t follow court orders unless there’s the threat of execution. Otherwise, he feels no compulsion. Is this a case of celebrity-status-induced insanity, or is this guy just a child when it comes to social responsibility?

Translating the Yomiuri article myself. The Japanese original is available at http://www.debito.org/?p=280
More background on how it connects with me at
http://www.debito.org/?cat=21
http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html
Debito in Sapporo

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

“I’LL PAY IF SENTENCED TO DEATH”: 2-CHANNEL BBS ADMIN, REFUSING TO PAY COURT PENALITIES

Yomiuri Shinbun March 20, 2007

Nishimura Hiroyuki, 30, administrator of 2-Channel Internet BBS, appeared in Tokyo District Court on March 19 for a civil case against him. His site has been the scene of many malicious email posters, and Nishimura has lost successive lawsuits for libel.

After the hearing, when asked for comment by a media contingent regarding his unpaid court penalities, he said: “If I would be put to death for not paying, I would. But nothing’s going to happen to me if I don’t pay, so I won’t.” He made very clear his intention not to pay in future.

Nishimura has up to now been the defendant in more than 50 civil suits nationwide, and the great majority of them have been losses for him. Unpaid damages and penalties assessed for not following injunctions and court rulings have now amassed to around 5 million dollars US. However, Nishimura has hardly ever paid up. Justifying this, Nishimura said, “If you turn deadbeat, nobody’s going to make you pay. With rules as stupid as this country has, it would be idiotic to pay up.”
ENDS
=================================

Er, I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again:

Huh?

Debito

読売:「死刑になるなら払う」2ちゃんねる管理者、賠償拒否

「死刑になるなら払う」2ちゃんねる管理者、賠償拒否
3月20日10時42分配信 読売新聞
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20070320-00000301-yom-soci

 インターネット掲示板「2ちゃんねる」への誹謗(ひぼう)中傷の書き込みなどを巡り、名誉棄損訴訟などで相次いで敗訴している管理者・西村博之氏(30)が19日、東京地裁で開かれた民事訴訟に出廷した。

 西村氏は閉廷後、報道陣に対し、過去の訴訟で確定した賠償金などについて、「支払わなければ死刑になるのなら支払うが、支払わなくてもどうということはないので支払わない」などと、支払いの意思がないことを明らかにした。

 西村氏は、これまでに全国で50件以上の訴訟を起こされ、その大半で敗訴が確定。未払いの賠償金や、裁判所の仮処分命令に従わないことに対する制裁金が少なくとも計約5億円に上るとされるが、西村氏が自ら支払いに応じたケースはほとんどない。その理由について、西村氏は「踏み倒そうとしたら支払わなくても済む。そんな国の変なルールに基づいて支払うのは、ばかばかしい」と話した。
最終更新:3月20日10時42分

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

クイックコメント:西村氏は大人ですか。こういう議論は大人気ないですね。有道 出人

JT: Tokyo Gov. candidate Asano slams Ishihara’s NJ bashing

Hi Blog. Good news. We have a rival for Ishihara’s job who explicitly sees his foreigner bashing as a campaign issue, and is willing to offer an alternative. He’s even making our arguments! Excellent! Get out the vote if you and yours are voters in Tokyo! Debito

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

Asano waxes friendly, slams Ishihara’s slurs
The Japan Times March 20, 2007
By SETSUKO KAMIYA
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070320a3.html

Shiro Asano, a candidate in next month’s Tokyo gubernatorial election, promises that if elected, he will work to make the capital a place that is friendly to the elderly, children, disabled — and even foreigners.

At a press conference Monday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo, Asano criticized the incumbent, Shintaro Ishihara, for his repeated discriminatory remarks against people of different nationalities, particularly Chinese and Koreans.

“It’s a big problem that the governor of Tokyo pointed the finger at specific nationalities and (suggested) the majority of them are criminals,” said Asano, a former Miyagi governor.

“Many foreign nationals live in Tokyo because they love Japan. They also pay taxes here, and we shouldn’t ignore that,” he said. “What will be important is to come up with ways in which we can provide opportunities for them to make full use of their strength for Tokyo and Japan.”

Making remarks in both English and Japanese, Asano said he decided to run for the gubernatorial race to stimulate voter interest in politics again.

“They say there’s strong political apathy, but I don’t think it means people are not interested. It’s the result of people feeling powerless and having distrust (of) politics, and I want to change that,” he said, adding he intends to run a grassroots campaign that individuals and groups will be welcome to participate in.

Currently teaching local administration policy at Keio University, Asano said he wants more people to get involved in local politics by at least going to the polls.

“A prominent British scholar once said that ‘local administration is the school of democracy,’ so people should participate,” Asano said, adding that getting active in local politics will lead to interest in national politics.

The Japan Times: Tuesday, March 20, 2007
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 19, 2007

Hi Blog. Got a couple of shockers for you this week:

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1) “JAPANESE ONLY” SIGNS: “PURE-BLOODED JAPANESE ONLY–NO WAR ORPHANS etc.”
2) GAIJIN HANZAI MAG UPDATE: WERE THE POLICE BEHIND IT?
I SPECULATE YES, IN BOTH JAPAN TIMES (TOMORROW) AND ON JAPAN FOCUS
3) 2-CHANNEL UPDATE: NOW 43 CASES OF LIBEL LEFT UNREQUITED
4) CONFUSED BY COMFORT WOMEN DEBATE? THE DEFINITIVE ARTICLE ON JAPAN FOCUS
5) TRANS-PACIFIC RADIO INTERVIEW RE KOKUSAIKA, POLITICS etc.
and finally…
6) NEW BATCH OF “JAPANESE ONLY” T-SHIRTS NOW ON SALE

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By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
March 19, 2007, freely forwardable
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1) “JAPANESE ONLY” SIGNS: “PURE-BLOODED JAPANESE ONLY”

Last week I was sent three more “Japanese Only” signs, two from Hiroshima, one from Koshigaya (Saitama).

The Koshigaya sign (Nightlife “Eden”, 2-3 Koshigaya, Koshigaya, Saitama, Phone: 048-964-8852) is the worst one I’ve ever seen:

=======================================
“Entry absolutely forbidden to Chinese and Naturalized Citizens, Chinese War Orphans (zanryuu koji), and people with Chinese blood mixed in. ONLY PURE-BLOODED JAPANESE MALES PERMITTED.”
=======================================
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Koshigaya
Only pure-bloods? Not even naturalized citizens? That deals me out too.

Fortunately, this sign has already made the Washington Times (March 9):
http://www.debito.org/?p=255
and will be going out to my Japanese lists presently.

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

The other two signs are more garden-variety (I guess I’m getting inured):

BAR SUMATRA TIGER
Hiroshima-shi, Naka-ku, Yagenbori 7-9. Sanwa Bld 2F
http://www.sumatratiger.com/
=======================================
ATTENTION: US Military personnel will NOT BE ALLOWED to enter SUMATRA TIGER unless they are escorted by civilian friends, either Japanese or Foreign…
=======================================
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Hiroshima

COMMENT: I rather agree that a bar is not the best place to face drunk young military types, and can understand a certain degree of trepidation both from bar owner and client. However, a place restricting entry to non-Japanese falls under the purview of the Rogues’ Gallery. It is also important to see how this policy is actually enforced; are all “foreigners” to be treated as “military” on appearance alone? Anyone want to drop by this place and find out?

Case in point: witness what happened in the next club:

CLUB “SAMA SAMA”
Hiroshima-Shi Naka Tenchi 1-2, Hiroshima Dai Bldg 3F Ph 082-246-2320
=======================================
“Notice: We strictly refuse entry to organized crime and their affiliates, people in the water trades, overly-intoxicated people, minors under the age of 18, people who have caused trouble on the premises, foreigners, and ‘promoters’ [scouts for female talent]. If we find you on the premises, we will ask you to leave. You will not receive a refund.

We also reserve the right to refuse service to anyone we choose. –CLUB SAMA SAMA”
=======================================
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Hiroshima

Just so happened the person who reported this place to me happens is a naturalized Japanese citizen of Southeast Asian extraction. He was refused regardless (excerpt):

=======================================
“…I met with a guy friend (Japanese by birth), and went for dinner, then a night out on the town… We went inside SAMA SAMA and were shown to a table by the management. As soon as we had sat down, one of the male staff came up to us and said, ‘Excuse me, Gaijin are not allowed in here.’ I just happened to have my passport on me and explained that I am in fact a Japanese. However, he replied, ‘You look foreign, so kindly leave.’ After he kicked me out, he pointed to the sign outside with said exclusionary policy. When I tried to take a picture, the manager got in the way, so they’re a little shaky. Enclosed. What should I do now?”
=======================================

I recommended him a lawyer for the time being. The signs are getting more sophisticated, and exclusive.

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

2) GAIJIN HANZAI MAGAZINE UPDATE: WERE THE POLICE BEHIND IT?
I SPECULATE YES, IN BOTH JAPAN TIMES (TOMORROW) AND ON JAPAN FOCUS

Quick rewind: At the end of last month, overworked Masami Ito at the Japan Times finally did an article on GAIJIN HANZAI. It was worth the wait. Excerpting most revelatory bit:

================================================
FAMILY MART CANS SALES
By MASAMI ITO Staff writer
The Japan Times: Friday, Feb. 23, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070223f1.html

…After receiving more than 10 complaints, Family Mart took a closer look at the magazine. “When we read it, we found some expressions to be discriminatory and decided to stop selling the book,” said the spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

On Feb. 5, the firm ordered all its 6,800 outlets nationwide to remove the magazine from the shelves and shipped them back to Eichi. It said that of the 15,000 copies in stock — of the 20,000 to 30,000 that had been printed — 1,000 were sold…
================================================
Full article also at http://www.debito.org/?p=235

COMMENT: Let’s do the math: The book listed for 690 yen. Assuming a profitable wholesale price of 500 yen, that means 30,000 mooks cost 15,000,000 yen or so to produce. (Given that there is no advertising whatsoever inside, and a lovely printing process to boot, I wonder if they were even that cheap.) Since they hardly sold any, somebody took a big, big bath.

Good. Hopefully whoever was behind it will think twice before doing something like this again. Still, there’s something fishy. And I spent a weekend fleshing that out for the record in a 6000-word essay for academic website JapanFocus.org. Then condensed it down to 1500 for the Japan Times Community Page.

Both articles should be coming out tomorrow (Tuesday March 20). Grab yourself a newsstand copy of the JT.

The headline is that I believe what happened is an historical event–the first time we’ve seen the “Newcomer” immigrants band together as an economic bloc.

But I also speculate on who the patron is. I believe it is the police.

Okay, before you think I’m wearing a tinfoil hat, give the articles a try and see if I make a convincing case. It got past three editors who are no pushovers…

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3) 2-CHANNEL UPDATE: NOW 43 CASES OF LIBEL ETC. LEFT UNREQUITED

Now even the Yomiuri has done a roundup of the trouble that Internet BBS 2-Channel is making for Japan’s judiciary. One of those 43 unresolved lawsuits happens to be mine. More on that at
http://www.debito.org/?cat=21
http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html
Excerpt follows:

=================================
MESSAGE BOARD OWNER HAS LOST 43 LAWSUITS
The Yomiuri Shimbun Mar. 6, 2007

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070306TDY03005.htm

Hiroyuki Nishimura, the operator of the nation’s largest Internet message board, 2channel, has lost at least 43 of more than 50 civil lawsuits filed against him in Tokyo and elsewhere over defamation and other charges, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

Nishimura, 30, has been ordered to pay a total of about 58 million yen in damages, but has defied court orders by failing to pay most of it, and as a result has been fined the equivalent of about 880,000 yen a day, or more than 434 million yen cumulatively.

It appears Nishimura has not complied with any orders for payment of damages, meaning most of the plaintiffs have not received compensation despite winning lawsuits.

Observers have pointed out that this illustrates the lawlessness on the Internet and the limits in terms of judicial action that can be taken against those who break the law online.

Since 2001, more than 50 lawsuits have been filed against Nishimura with the Tokyo District Court alone. Nishimura’s defeat in court was finalized in 40 of the cases, as well as in respect of lawsuits filed with the Sapporo, Osaka and Kobe district courts…

In a case filed [incorrect–it was filed in 2006] by a Hokkaido associate professor in January last year seeking damages over messages that denounced him as racist and psychotic [guess who], Nishimura was ordered to pay 1.1 million yen in damages…

In many of his trials, Nishimura neither employed a lawyer nor attended hearings, resulting in the court handing down decisions all in favor of the plaintiffs…

According to the Yomiuri survey, Nishimura complied with court orders for removing messages in 11 cases and disclosing information in three cases. But he has not paid up in any of the 21 cases in which he was ordered to pay damages…

The seizure of Nishimura’s assets did not prove successful because it has proved hard to trace his bank accounts, and even when his accounts were found, there was little money in them…
=================================
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=252

COMMENT: My lawyer notified me on Friday that he had filed more paperwork. More on that in Japanese here:
http://www.debito.org/?p=249#comments

More math: 88 man in fines per day, or about one new lawsuit loss every 36 hours. Adds up after awhile. Clearly this is not sustainable. Matter of time before something gives. Will keep you posted.

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4) CONFUSED BY COMFORT WOMEN DEBATE? THE DEFINITIVE ARTICLE ON JAPAN FOCUS

Here’s a pretty much perfect article on the “Comfort Women” Issue, which ties together everything we need for this debate: The USG and GOJ’s reaction to the issue, the UN’s reports, the background of the primary agents in the process of denial, and all contextualized within a comparison of Nazi Germany’s and Imperial Japan’s wartime behavior and postwar follow-up.

JAPAN’S “COMFORT WOMEN”: IT’S TIME FOR THE TRUTH (IN THE ORDINARY, EVERYDAY SENSE OF THE WORD)
By Tessa Morris-Suzuki (Professor of Japanese History, Australian National University)

Japan Focus Article 780
http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2373

Some select quotes:
=================================
Reading these remarks [from Abe and Aso regarding “coercion” and “facts”], I found myself imagining the international reaction to a German government which proposed that it had no historical responsibility for Nazi forced labour, on the grounds that this had not been “forcible in the narrow sense of the word”. I also found myself in particular imagining how the world might react if one of the German ministers most actively engaged in this denial happened (for example) to be called Krupp, and to be a direct descendant of the industrial dynasty of that name.
=================================
=================================
Many people were involved in the recruitment of “comfort women” – not only soldiers but also members of the Korean colonial police (working, of course, under Japanese command) and civilian brokers, who frequently used techniques of deception identical to those used by human traffickers today. Forced labour for mines and factories was recruited with the same mixture of outright violence, threats and false promises…

To summarise, then, not all “comfort women” were rounded up at gunpoint, but some were. Some were paid for “services”, though many were not. Not all “comfort stations” were directly managed by the military. None of this, however, negates the fact that large numbers of women were violently forced, coerced or tricked into situations in which they suffered horrible sexual violence whose consequences affected their entire lives. I doubt if many of those who “suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds” have spent a great deal of time worrying whether these wounds were the result of coercion in the “broad” or the “narrow” sense of the word.

And none of this makes the Japanese system any different from the Nazi forced labour system…
=================================
=================================
In 1996, a Special Rapporteur appointed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights issued a detailed report on the “comfort women” issue. Its conclusions are unequivocal:

“The Special Rapporteur is absolutely convinced that most of the women kept at the comfort stations were taken against their will, that the Japanese Imperial Army initiated, regulated and controlled the vast network of comfort stations, and that the Government of Japan is responsible for the comfort stations. In addition, the Government of Japan should be prepared to assume responsibility for what this implies under international law”.
=================================
=================================
This denial [from members of the LDP] goes hand-in-hand with an insistence that those demanding justice for the “comfort women” are just a bunch of biased and ill-informed “Japan-bashers”. An article by journalist Komori Yoshihisa in the conservative Sankei newspaper, for example, reports that the US Congress resolution is “based on a complaint which presumes that all the comfort women were directly conscripted by the Japanese army, and that the statements by Kono and Murayama were not clear apologies.”

Komori does not appear to have read the resolution with much attention…
=================================
=================================
What purpose do Abe’s and Aso’s denials serve? Certainly not the purpose of helping defeat the US Congressional resolution. Their statements have in fact seriously embarrassed those US Congress members who are opposed to the resolution. The main strategy of these US opponents of Resolution 121 was the argument that Japanese government had already apologized adequately for the sufferings of the “comfort women”, and that there was no need to take the matter further. By their retreat from remorse, Abe and Aso have succeeded in neatly cutting the ground from beneath the feet of their closest US allies.
=================================

Well done that researcher!

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

5) TRANS-PACIFIC RADIO INTERVIEW RE KOKUSAIKA, POLITICS etc.

Had a very pleasant and quite probing interview with Trans-Pacific Radio two weekends ago. Here’s the writeup and a link:
===================================
Seijigiri #19 – March 8, 2007: A conversation with Debito Arudou
Filed under: Seijigiri Releases, Trans-Pacific Radio, Interviews

Posted by Seijigiri at 7:29 pm on Thursday, March 8, 2007

Last Saturday, March 2, Garrett, Ken and Albrecht Stahmer sat down for a talk with social activist and naturalized Japanese citizen Arudou Debito. The talk actually lasted for hours, and as it stretched on, veered away from the initial interview structure that had been set up.

With this release, we have kept one hour of material in which Debito touches upon how he came to be a social activist, the cultural politics of Japanese identity, acceptance of him as a Japanese and his work in the Japanese and foreign communities, Japan’s educational system, the ‘Japanese Only’ phenomenon, Education Minister Ibuki Bunmei, human rights and butter, the state of the Democratic Party of Japan, what sort of law against discrimination he would like to see in Japan and his hopes for Japan’s future.
===================================
Hear it at:
http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/03/08/seijigiri-19-march-8-2007-a-conversation-with-debito-arudou/

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

and finally…

6) SUPPORT THE CAUSE, RAISE AWARENESS OF THE ISSUE
BUY A “JAPANESE ONLY” T-SHIRT

Thanks to the quick sell-out of the first salvo (thanks everyone!), I just got a new batch of “JAPANESE ONLY” T-shirts in last week (thanks Todd):

They come in the following colors and sizes:
BLUE: American sizes (i.e. larger than corresponding Japanese sizes) M, L, XL, and XXL
BLACK: American sizes S, M, L, XL, and XXL
(NB: These are adult sizes. As an approximate guide, S and M will fit an average-build Japanese woman.)

PRICE: 2500 yen including postage anywhere in the world.
2000 yen if you buy one from me face-to-face (won’t need postage that way) during one of my speech tours etc.

SEE PHOTOS OF THE SHIRT AND HOW TO ORDER:
Visit my website at:
http://www.debito.org/tshirts.html

Most people would rather pretend these signs don’t exist. Too bad. They do.
Keep the issue alive in the public eye in the best of satirical traditions
by wearing your heart on your sleeve, and the sign on your chest!
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

All for this week. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito in Sapporo
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
March 19, 2007
ENDS

Keidanren pushing for more foreign IT workers

Hi Blog. Excerpting from Terrie’s Take Issue 413, March 19, 2007.
http://www.japaninc.com/terries_take

All data and commentary is theirs. I’ll just add that Keidanren is displaying the typical work-unit mentality one finds in any organization only thinking of the bottom line, not the welfare of their workers. With that undercurrent, the policy will create more social problems than you think. Hasn’t Keidanren learned anything from its problematic Researcher and Trainee Visa experiments from 1990? Oh, yeah–just make the foreigner pass a language test. That’ll fix everything. Right. Debito

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

-> Relaxed engineer visas

The Japanese Business Federation, Keidanren, has
recommended to the government that the immigration
requirements for foreign engineers’ visas be relaxed, to
encourage a larger number of people to come work here,
particularly in IT. They suggest that engineers coming in
under the experience category be allowed in after just 4
years of relevant work experience, versus the current 10
years. But before you think that Keidanren is going soft,
they are also looking at recommending Japanese-language
requirements on future worker intakes, to alleviate
problems typically associated with a surge of foreign
workers.

***Ed: Hmmm, we doubt that they’ve thought this
through too much. Imposing Japanese language skills will
add at least 3-5 years on to the supply curve, and given
the choice of English or Japanese, most Chinese and Indian
engineers are going to pick the global language. Japan
needs to understand that internationalizing may in fact
mean accepting English as a second language, as has
already happened in Europe and in most of the rest of
Asia. This is not heresy, just pragmatism.** (Source:
TT commentary from nikkei.co.jp, Mar 18, 2007)

http://www.nni.nikkei.co.jp/AC/TNKS/Nni20070317D17JF744.htm
ENDS

Japan Times on need for anti-discrim laws

Hi Blog. Article from Japan Times on why Japan needs an anti-racial discrimination law. Speakin’ my language.

The GOJ says we don’t need laws against discrimination because the Constitution by itself provides adequate protection? Rubbish. Debito

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

Foreign labor need exposes dearth of rights
Despite clamor, government calls law against discrimination unnecessary
Thursday, March 15, 2007

By ERIC JOHNSTON, Staff writer
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/member/member.html?mode=getarticle&file=nn20070315f1.html

OSAKA — As the debate intensifies over allowing more foreign workers into Japan to make up for the coming labor shortage, human rights groups have recently stepped up efforts to push for a law against discrimination.

Yet despite calls from not only human rights nongovernmental organizations but also the United Nations for such a law, the central government says separate legislation is not needed because the Constitution provides sufficient protection against discrimination.

Japan’s population is expected to decline from the current 127 million to about 100 million by 2050. The working population, defined as those between the ages of 15 and 64, is expected to shrink from the current 66 million to about 44 million by that year, according to government statistics.

Government ministries as well as the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) have put forward proposals for bringing in foreign labor. The proposals focus on the need for tightly controlled immigration that focuses on foreigners with technological skills in specific sectors or industries.

Several proposals would also make some level of fluency in Japanese a prerequisite for being allowed to work in Japan.

Most of the proposals recognize the need for social assistance to foreign workers and their families in the form of language lessons and access to education for their children. But none addresses the issue of legal protection against acts of discrimination.

“You can’t talk about a truly effective policy for bringing in more foreign laborers without including the need for an antidiscrimination law that offers them legal protection once they settle in Japan,” said Masao Niwa, an Osaka-based human rights attorney and a leading advocate for such a law.

The U.N. agrees with Niwa. Last year, Doudou Diene, the U.N. special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, released a report on the situation in Japan that urged the government, at the highest levels, to officially and publicly recognize the existence of racism and xenophobia in Japanese society and to take specific legal actions to combat it.

“The Diet should as a matter of urgency proceed to the adoption of a national law against racism, discrimination and xenophobia,” the report said.

Last month, Diene visited Japan to follow up on his report and attended the inaugural meeting of a group of NGOs pushing for the elimination of racial discrimination in Japan. The meeting was led by Tokyo-based International Movement Against all forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), which has a liaison office with the U.N. in Geneva and consultative status with the U.N. Economic and Social Council.

The new network includes representatives from the descendents of the “buraku” feudal outcast class, Ainu, Okinawan, Korean and other minority communities, and one of its activities will be to lobby politicians and government officials.

In the coming months, it is expected to decide on the most effective way of getting out its message to politicians, bureaucrats and business leaders.

“The network will push for human rights legislation outlawing discriminatory acts against not only foreigners but also ethnic and social minorities. We’re also calling for an independent human rights commission. The current one, attached to the Justice Ministry, is not as effective as it needs to be,” said IMADR Secretary General Hideki Morihara.

The nearly 90 human rights groups nationwide that support an IMADR-drafted antidiscrimination bill know they face an uphill battle getting the legislation passed. Although some opposition party politicians, notably the Democratic Party of Japan’s Toru Matsuoka, an Upper House member and longtime IMADR supporter, are supportive, the ruling bloc is not.

Politicians and bureaucrats opposed to a law against discrimination often cite Article 14 of the Constitution as being sufficient legal protection. Part 1 of the article says “all people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic, or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status, or family origin.”

Japan has also ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which forbid racial discrimination.

However, when Japanese officials cited Article 14 in their defense to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2000, the committee members expressed doubt that Japan’s current legal system offers adequate and equal protection against specific individual acts of discrimination.

“Court rulings in discrimination cases are often vague and contradictory. Rather than clearly rule what legal discrimination is or cite the international conventions that Japan has ratified, the courts prefer to simply declare certain behavior as being outside socially acceptable norms,” said lawyer Niwa.

Those opposed to antidiscrimination legislation, especially for current and future foreign workers in Japan, said that because there is no nationwide consensus on how to accept such workers and because Japanese attitudes toward foreigners are often ambivalent, it’s best to lay the social groundwork first.

“Rather than new laws, what we need first is a change in social attitudes toward foreigners,” Taro Kono said last July, when he was senior vice justice minister, not long after his ministry released a report on the future of foreign workers.

But Niwa argued that there is no time to waste.

“A change in social attitudes is needed. But you can’t first wait for society to change and then enact laws,” he said. “You have to do both concurrently.”
————————————–
The Japan Times March 15, 2007
ENDS

Excellent article on “Comfort Women” on Japan Focus

Hi Blog. Here’s a pretty much perfect article on the “Comfort Women” Issue at Japan Focus, which ties everything we need for this debate together: The USG and GOJ’s reaction to the issue, the UN’s reports, the background of the primary agents in the process of denial, and all contextualized within a comparison of Nazi Germany’s and Imperial Japan’s wartime behavior and postwar followup.

Japan’s “Comfort Women”: It’s time for the truth (in the ordinary, everyday sense of the word)
By Tessa Morris-Suzuki
(Professor of Japanese History and Convenor of the Division of Pacific and Asian History in the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University)
Japan Focus Article 780
http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2373
Some select quotes:

=================================
Reading these remarks [from Abe and Aso regarding “coercion” and “facts”], I found myself imagining the international reaction to a German government which proposed that it had no historical responsibility for Nazi forced labour, on the grounds that this had not been “forcible in the narrow sense of the word”. I also found myself in particular imagining how the world might react if one of the German ministers most actively engaged in this denial happened (for example) to be called Krupp, and to be a direct descendant of the industrial dynasty of that name….
=================================

=================================
Many people were involved in the recruitment of “comfort women” – not only soldiers but also members of the Korean colonial police (working, of course, under Japanese command) and civilian brokers, who frequently used techniques of deception identical to those used by human traffickers today. Forced labour for mines and factories was recruited with the same mixture of outright violence, threats and false promises…

To summarise, then, not all “comfort women” were rounded up at gunpoint, but some were. Some were paid for “services”, though many were not. Not all “comfort stations” were directly managed by the military. None of this, however, negates the fact that large numbers of women were violently forced, coerced or tricked into situations in which they suffered horrible sexual violence whose consequences affected their entire lives. I doubt if many of those who, “suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds” have spent a great deal of time worrying whether these wounds were the result of coercion in the “broad” or the “narrow” sense of the word.

And none of this makes the Japanese system any different from the Nazi forced labour system…
=================================

=================================
In 1996, a Special Rapporteur appointed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights issued a detailed report on the “comfort women” issue. Its conclusions are unequivocal:

“The Special Rapporteur is absolutely convinced that most of the women kept at the comfort stations were taken against their will, that the Japanese Imperial Army initiated, regulated and controlled the vast network of comfort stations, and that the Government of Japan is responsible for the comfort stations. In addition, the Government of Japan should be prepared to assume responsibility for what this implies under international law”. [11]
=================================

=================================
This denial [from members of the LDP] goes hand-in-hand with an insistence that those demanding justice for the “comfort women” are just a bunch of biased and ill-informed “Japan-bashers”. An article by journalist Komori Yoshihisa in the conservative Sankei newspaper, for example, reports that the US Congress resolution is “based on a complaint which presumes that all the comfort women were directly conscripted by the Japanese army, and that the statements by Kono and Murayama were not clear apologies.” [15]

Komori does not appear to have read the resolution with much attention…
=================================

=================================
What purpose do Abe’s and Aso’s denials serve? Certainly not the purpose of helping defeat the US Congressional resolution. Their statements have in fact seriously embarrassed those US Congress members who are opposed to the resolution. [18] The main strategy of these US opponents of Resolution 121 was the argument that Japanese government had already apologized adequately for the sufferings of the “comfort women”, and that there was no need to take the matter further. By their retreat from remorse, Abe and Aso have succeeded in neatly cutting the ground from beneath the feet of their closest US allies.
=================================

Well done that researcher! Debito in Sapporo

More on Ibuki “butter” Bunmei from Matt Dioguardi

–HI BLOG. FORWARDING A THOUGHTFUL POST FROM “THE COMMUNITY” MAILING LIST. AUTHOR IS MATT DIOGUARDI. DEBITO IN SAPPORO

On Feb 28, 2007, at 1:12 PM, Kirk Masden wrote:

I don’t know if Abe will be made to regret it but he should be.

Abe’s defense strikes me as more problematic than the original

gaff. Abe is equating homogeneity with getting along well. By this

logic, diversity (more foreigners in Japan, etc) leads to acrimony.

It also implies that whatever peace and good human relations have

characterized Japan thus far have been in spite of minorities such as

Ainu, Okinawans, Koreans, etc. This is a very problematic way for

Japan’s leader to defend a remark.

[Education Minister] Bunmei Ibuki’s comments continue to trouble me.

Some things to think about:

1. I’ve found at least two places where Ibuki specifically basically

says, “though there are exceptions such as the Ainu and the Zainichi

people, Japan is fundamentally, one ethnos, one culture, one ethnic

rulership, one language, one belief system” (As Kirk says above, this

is a very exclusivist attitude. He’s basically *excluding* the Ainu

and the Zainichi from participation in the successes of Japanese

rulership, culture, language, and beliefs.)

2. Ibuki also states in more than one place, practically like a

refrain, that because of the post-war constitution and Fundamental

Law of Education are western they emphasize rights over duty, private

over public. This is one reason why Japanese society is falling into

decadence. The examples given again and again are Livedoor and

Murakami funds. Ibuki will say, of course, rights and privacy are

very important, *but* … then he launchs into the problems they cause.

3. The solution suggested is to revise the constitution and the

Fundamental Law of Education to include more values of the Japanese

ethnos.

Has this not already happened somewhat? Article 2 of the Fundamental

Law of Education has been revised from what was previously an

emphasis on individuality and personal development, to a list of

values that perhaps are intended to reflect the values of the

Japanese ethnos.

So because there is a *perceived* majority, and the *perception* that

the *perceived* majority have certain supposedly *shared* values,

those values must now be imposed on *everyone*?

Good grief!

The one positive element here, is that I am gradually finding very

active and vocal Japanese citizens on the net who see through all

this nonsense. But so far not enough to stop the steamroller …

This is a really terrible price to have to pay for Koizumi’s economic

reforms.

As far as Ibuki’s statements I’ve been blogging some of them here:

http://japan.shadowofiris.com/education/last-april-ibuki-suggested-excluding-ainu-and-zainichi-people-from-educational-and-constitutional-reforms/

http://japan.shadowofiris.com/education/last-april-ibuki-suggested-excluding-ainu-and-zainichi-people-from-educational-and-constitutional-reforms/

http://japan.shadowofiris.com/education/the-ibuki-manifesto/

http://japan.shadowofiris.com/education/education-minister-calls-america-an-artificial-country/

Best,

Matt Dioguardi

ENDS

New batch of “JAPANESE ONLY” T-shirts on sale

SUPPORT THE CAUSE
RAISE AWARENESS OF THE ISSUE
BUY A “JAPANESE ONLY” T-SHIRT

Hi Blog. Thanks to the quick sell-out of the first salvo (thanks everyone!), I just got a new batch of “JAPANESE ONLY” T-shirts in yesterday (thanks Todd):

joshirtblack2.JPG

They come in the following colors and sizes:

BLUE: American sizes (i.e. larger than corresponding Japanese sizes) M, L, XL, and XXL

BLACK: American sizes S, M, L, XL, and XXL

(NB: These are adult sizes. As an approximate guide, S and M will fit an average-build Japanese woman.)

PRICE:
2500 yen
including postage anywhere in the world.
2000 yen if you buy one from me face-to-face (won’t need postage that way) during one of my speech tours etc.

HOW TO ORDER:

(For those in the Tokyo area: Got a friend who’s selling them from his office opposite JR Tokyo. Contact me at debito@debito.org for more details.)

Failing that, visit my website to order by Paypal or bank transfer at:
http://www.debito.org/tshirts.html

Most people would rather pretend these signs don’t exist. Too bad. They do.
Keep the issue alive in the public eye in the best of satirical traditions
by wearing your heart on your sleeve, and the sign on your chest!

–Debito in Sapporo

PS: One satisfied customer!
satisfiedcustomer1.jpg

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAR 13, 2007

Hello Blog. Collating a bunch of media to track a very interesting issue:

//////////////////////////////////////////////////
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 13, 2007
SPECIAL EDITION
THE “COMFORT WOMEN” ISSUE, PM ABE, AND THE MEDIA:
SUPPORTING THE HOME TEAM AT ALL COSTS

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

By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
March 13, 2007, freely forwardable
If this newsletter comes out garbled (darn “smart quotes”), full text blogged at
http://www.debito.org/index.php

//////////////////////////////////////////////////
SUMMARY: Japan’s Prime Minister Abe has a long history of being a historical revisionist, coming out in full bloom recently with the “Comfort Women” sexual slaves issue of WWII. What’s interesting his how Abe’s Cabinet could not contain the gaffes, to the point where he comes off as a denier and a prevaricator–especially in the face of survivors testifying in the US Congress (after decades of lack of success in Japanese courts for redress). As articles included in this newsletter demonstrate, he gets deeper in trouble the more he says, then blames the media for “misunderstandings” and clams up. Then flunkeys from the LDP and the Foreign Ministry get to work on spin control, going abroad to contain the damage, getting the J media to make this into a domestic issue for public consumption, and redirecting the public eye back onto Japan’s perennial victimhood complex, by pouring tax monies into anti-North-Korean TV ads and the abduction issue. Meanwhile, his popularity keeps dropping, and people wonder if he’ll survive the next election in a few months. As people keep murmuring, Koizumi did it better.
//////////////////////////////////////////////////
(All articles included in this report have been archived in full at
http://www.debito.org/?p=247)
Something I have found very interesting recently has been the development of the debate over the Comfort Women (ianfu), or rather, the women pressed into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.

For those who have been living without media, our PM has been embarrassingly showing his true colors as a historical revisionist and atrocity denier. Although the Western media has hitherto mostly done puff pieces on him (Economist London Sept 28 06 Cover: “Assertive Abe”, Newsweek Japan Feb 5 07 Cover: “Akie Abe: Japan’s Jackie O”), very few got into the heart of the REAL Abe. The one I’ve been tracking for years now.

I’ve known for a long time that Abe had a nasty streak behind the doe eyes he loves to flash for the housewives. Witness the pressure he put on NHK to follow his revisionist agenda (which was only sporadically covered domestically, and hardly at all overseas):

====================================
NHK stung by censorship suit appeal
Court links politics with deletion of Hirohito verdict in sex-slave program
(Japan Times Jan 30, 2006)

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070130a1.html

The Tokyo High Court on Monday ordered NHK and two production companies to pay damages to a women’s rights group for altering the content of a documentary on a mock tribunal over Japan’s wartime sexual slavery The suit has been closely watched because the NGO claimed NHK censored or otherwise altered part of the 2001 program after being pressured by heavyweights in the Liberal Democratic Party, including Shinzo Abe, who is now prime minister, and Shoichi Nakagawa.
=======================================

=======================================
(Japan Times Jan 7, 2006)
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070107rp.html
The political pressure put, in 2001, on NHK, the national broadcaster, by the current prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to excise portions of a program that would imply imperial responsibility for war crimes. Add to this the government ordering NHK in 2006 to broadcast information about the North Korean abductions in the service of the country.
=======================================

Fortunately, now the Western media has their peg to unzip the Abe Adminstration. Time Magazine was one of the first to break the story:

TIME MAGAZINE ARTICLE
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Japan PM Denies WWII Sex Slavery
By AP/HIROKO TABUCHI
Time Magazine Thursday, Mar. 01, 2007

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1595375,00.html

TOKYO: Yasuji Kaneko, 87, still remembers the screams of the countless women he raped in China as a soldier in the Japanese imperial army in World War II. Some were teenagers from Korea serving as sex slaves in military-run brothels. Others were women in villages he and his comrades pillaged in eastern China.

“They cried out, but it didn’t matter to us whether the women lived or died,” Kaneko said in an interview with The Associated Press at his Tokyo home. “We were the emperor’s soldiers. Whether in military brothels or in the villages, we raped without reluctance.”

Historians say some 200,000 women–mostly from Korea and China–served in the Japanese military brothels throughout Asia in the 1930s and 1940s. Many victims say they were kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops, and the top government spokesman acknowledged the wrongdoing in 1993.

[THE KOUNO STATEMENT ON THE COMFORT WOMEN ISSUE (August 4, 1993), FOR THE RECORD
Following is the text of the statement in English translation from the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Web site.

http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/women/fund/state9308.html
Original Japanese at
http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/area/taisen/kono.html ]

Now some in Japan’s government are questioning whether the apology was needed.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday denied women were forced into military brothels across Asia, boosting renewed efforts by right-wing politicians to push for an official revision of the apology.

“The fact is, there is no evidence to prove there was coercion,” Abe said.

Abe’s remarks contradicted evidence in Japanese documents unearthed in 1992 that historians said showed military authorities had a direct role in working with contractors to forcibly procure women for the brothels…

Abe’s comments were a reversal from the government’s previous stance. In 1993, then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono apologized to the victims of sex slavery, though the statement did not meet demands by former “comfort women” that it be approved by parliament.

Two years later, the government set up a compensation fund for victims, but it was based on private donations–not government money–and has been criticized as a way for the government to avoid owning up to the abuse. The mandate is to expire March 31.

The sex slave question has been a cause celebre for nationalist politicians and scholars in Japan who claim the women were professional prostitutes and were not coerced into servitude by the military.

Before Abe spoke Thursday, a group of ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers discussed their plans for a proposal to urge the government to water down parts of the 1993 apology and deny direct military involvement.

Nariaki Nakayama, chairman of the group of about 120 lawmakers, sought to play down the government’s involvement in the brothels by saying it was similar to a school that hires a company to run its cafeteria.

“Some say it is useful to compare the brothels to college cafeterias run by private companies, who recruit their own staff, procure foodstuffs, and set prices,” he said.

“Where there’s demand, businesses crop up but to say women were forced by the Japanese military into service is off the mark,” he said. “This issue must be reconsidered, based on truth for the sake of Japanese honor.”…
/////////////////////////////////////////////

Then the New York Times chimed in:

NYT ARTICLE
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Abe Rejects Japan’s Files on War Sex
By NORIMITSU ONISHI, NEW YORK TIMES: March 2, 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/02/world/asia/02japan.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

…Mr. Abe’s statement was the clearest so far that the government was preparing to reject a 1993 government statement that acknowledged the military’s role in setting up brothels and forcing, either directly or indirectly, women into sexual slavery…

“There is no evidence to prove there was coercion, nothing to support it,” Mr. Abe told reporters. “So, in respect to this declaration, you have to keep in mind that things have changed greatly.”

The United States House of Representatives has begun debating a resolution that would call on Tokyo to “apologize for and acknowledge” the military’s role in wartime sex slavery.

But at the same time, in keeping with a recent trend to revise Japan’s wartime history, a group of conservatives in the governing Liberal Democratic Party is stepping up calls to rescind the 1993 declaration.

Mr. Abe, whose approval ratings have been plummeting over a series of scandals and perceived weak leadership, seemed to side with this group. A nationalist who has led efforts to revise wartime history, Mr. Abe softened his tone after becoming prime minister last fall. In fact, he first said he recognized the validity of the declaration, angering his conservative base…

…Nariaki Nakayama, the leader of 120 lawmakers who want to revise the declaration, said Thursday. “Where there’s demand, business crops up… But to say women were forced by the Japanese military into service is off the mark.”…

But in 1992, a Japanese historian, Yoshiaki Yoshimi, outraged by government denials, went to the Self-Defense Agency’s library and unearthed, after two days of searching, documents revealing military involvement in establishing brothels. One was titled “Regarding the Recruitment of Women for Military Brothels.” Faced with this evidence, the government acknowledged its role and issued the declaration.

But the response angered people across the political spectrum. The women and their supporters said that the government was not fully acknowledging its responsibility because the declaration was issued by Yohei Kono, then chief cabinet secretary, and not adopted by Parliament. It is known inside Japan simply as the “Kono Statement.”

What is more, supporters accused the government of evading direct responsibility by establishing a private, nongovernment fund to compensate the women. Many former sex slaves have refused to accept compensation from this fund.

But conservatives said the declaration went too far in acknowledging the military’s role in recruiting the women. While the documents showed that the military established the facilities, Mr. Yoshimi did not find documentation that the military had forcibly recruited the women. Conservatives have seized on this distinction to attack the declaration….
ENDS
/////////////////////////////////////////////

Then Abe began backpedalling as more came out in testimony by survivors before the US Congress (since the Japanese judiciary has essentially washed their hands of the issue):

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

Japan PM will stand by apology over forcing Asian women to have sex with troops
CBS NEWS March 5, 2007 12:12am

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/03/04/ap/world/mainD8NL5RN80.shtml

…”Though there are many definitions of coercion, Prime Minister Abe has said that he will stand by the Kono statement,” said Hiroshige Seko, special adviser in charge of Abe’s public relations, referring to a 1993 statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono apologizing to the victims of sex slavery…

“He has not denied the statement,” Seko told a TV Asahi talk show. He did not attempt to explain the apparent discrepancies between the statement and Abe’s denial that coercion was involved.

“The fact is, there is no evidence to prove there was coercion,” Abe said on Thursday.

South Korea later lodged an official protest, accusing the leader of “glossing over the historical truth.” Rights activists in the Philippines also slammed Abe for labeling the slaves as common prostitutes….

But prominent Japanese scholars and politicians routinely deny direct military involvement or the use of force in rounding up the women, blaming private contractors for the abuses.
CBS NEWS ARTICLE ENDS

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Statement of The Honorable Michael M. Honda, Member of Congress
Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment
Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives
Hearing on Protecting the Human Rights of “Comfort Women”
Thursday, February 15, 2007

EXCERPT
=================================
Now, nearly nine years after the passage of AJR27, I stand united with several of my colleagues in the House, from both parties, in support of H.Res.121 and the surviving Comfort Women who are here with us today. The urgency is upon this Committee and the Congress to take quick action on this resolution. These women are aging and their numbers dwindling with each passing day. If we do not act now, we will lose a historic opportunity to encourage the Government of Japan to properly acknowledge responsibility for the plight of the Comfort Women.

Elected officials of Japan have taken steps to address this issue, and for that they are to be commended. In 1993, Japan’s then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono issued an encouraging statement regarding Comfort Women, which expressed the Government’s sincere apologies and remorse for their ordeal. Additionally, Japan attempted to provide monetary compensation to surviving comfort women through the Asia Women’s Fund, a government initiated and largely government-funded private foundation whose purpose was the carrying out of programs and projects with the aim of atonement for the Comfort Women. The Asia Women’s Fund is to be disbanded on March 31, 2007.

Recent attempts, however, by some senior members of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party to review and even possibly retract Secretary Kono’s statement are disheartening and mark Japan’s equivocation on this issue. Additionally, while I appreciate Japan’s creation of the Asia Women’s Fund and the past prime minister’s apologies to some comfort women, which accompanied this Fund’s disbursal of monetary compensation from this fund, the reality is that without a sincere and unequivocal apology from the government of Japan, the majority of surviving Comfort Women refused to accept these funds. In fact, as you will hear today, many Comfort Women returned the Prime Minister’s letter of apology accompanying the monetary compensation saying they felt the apology was artificial and disingenuous.
================================
REST AT http://www.internationalrelations.house.gov/110/hon021507.htm
More Congressional Record on this, courtesy of Matt Dioguardi’s Blog:
http://japan.shadowofiris.com/wwii/abe-says-comfort-woman-not-coerced/
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Once the government started saying one thing in the morning and contradicting it in the afternoon, Abe stopped backpedalling, clammed up, and blamed the media for the problem:

///////////////////////////////////////////////////
Japan tries to calm outrage on sex slave issue, says no new apology
TOKYO, March 7 KYODO Courtesy of Club of 99

Japan’s top government spokesman on Wednesday reiterated that there will be no new apology regarding wartime sex slaves in response to a resolution pending in the U.S. Congress and that discussions on the “comfort women” issue should not continue any further in an “unconstructive” manner…

Shiozaki: “What we say in parliament on this issue is not always conveyed (by the media) accurately. It magnifies and spreads, and foreign countries react to that. The longer we continue this discussion, the more misunderstanding there is going to be… I think it better not to go on with this kind of discussion in a rather unconstructive manner.”

Shiozaki again stressed that the government continues to uphold a 1993 statement that acknowledged and apologized for the forced recruitment of so-called “comfort women.”

In an interview with Japanese media, Abe reiterated that he stands by the statement and added, “The U.S. resolution is based on a mistake of fact. It contains the misunderstanding that there was coercion, as in abductions carried out by the (Japanese) authorities. There was no such thing and I was just stating the fact that there have been no documents or witnesses of proof.”

“The U.S. Congress bill is not based on objective facts and does not take into consideration the (Japanese) government’s handling of the issue so far,” spokesman Shiozaki said. “Therefore, no new apology will be made in response to such a resolution should it be passed.”

Shiozaki insisted that Abe’s recent remarks did not contradict the so-called Kono statement…

This week, Abe further explained that there was coercion “in the broad sense” of the word, referring to private traders who recruited the women, but insisted that there was no coercion “in the strict sense,” as in military personnel taking women from their homes and putting them in brothels.

The more Abe and his spokesman Shiozaki try to explain the premier’s hair-splitting over the broad and strict definitions of “coercion,” the deeper it seems they find themselves bogged in a quagmire.

Cornered by reporters’ questions at an afternoon news conference, Shiozaki effectively retracted his remarks in the morning that the Kono statement stipulates “both the strict and broad sense” of coercion.

“As the prime minister has said many times in parliament, it was possible (the victims) felt pressure in the broad sense,” he said. “Issues in the narrow sense were by no means written in the Kono statement.”

The hawkish premier, who declared immediately after taking office last September that his administration will stand by the Kono statement, was once part of a group of lawmakers opposed to the 1993 document…

The premier also told reporters the government does not plan to get involved in setting up any organizations to carry on the activities of the Asian Women’s Fund after it is disbanded at the end of this month… ==Kyodo
ENDS
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Then the stories from the survivors began coming out…

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Denial Reopens Wounds of Japan’s Ex-Sex Slaves (Excerpt)
NYT March 8, 2007 By NORIMITSU ONISHI

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/08/world/asia/08japan.html?hp=&pagewanted=print

SYDNEY, Australia, March 7 Wu Hsiu-mei said she was 23 and working as a maid in a hotel in 1940 when her Taiwanese boss handed her over to Japanese officers. She and some 15 other women were sent to Guangdong Province in southern China to become sex slaves.

Inside a hotel there was a so-called comfort station, managed by a Taiwanese but serving only the Japanese military, Ms. Wu said. Forced to have sex with more than 20 Japanese a day for almost a year, she said, she had multiple abortions and became sterile…

Ms. Wu told her story on Wednesday outside the Japanese Consulate here, where she and two others who had been sex slaves, known euphemistically as comfort women, were protesting Tokyo’s refusal to admit responsibility for the abuse that historians say they and as many as 200,000 other women suffered.

All three Ms. Wu, who is now 90; a 78-year-old South Korean from Seoul; and an 84-year-old Dutch-Australian from Adelaide were participating in an international conference for Japan’s former sex slaves here. Now, just days after Mr. Abe’s remarks, the three were united in their fury.

“I was taken away by force by Japanese officers, and a Japanese military doctor forced me to undress to examine me before I was taken away,” said Ms. Wu, who landed here in Sydney on Tuesday night after a daylong flight from Taipei. “How can Abe lie to the world like that?”…

“Prime Minister Abe is in effect saying that the women are lying,” Representative Mike Honda, the California Democrat who is spearheading the legislation, said in a telephone interview. “I find it hard to believe that he is correct given the evidence uncovered by Japanese historians and the testimony of the comfort women.”

Japanese historians, using the diaries and testimony of military officials as well as official documents from the United States and other countries, have been able to show that the military was directly or indirectly involved in coercing, deceiving, luring and sometimes kidnapping young women throughout Japan’s Asian colonies and occupied territories…

Yet although Mr. Abe admitted coercion by private dealers, some of his closest allies in the governing Liberal Democratic Party have dismissed the women as prostitutes who volunteered to work in the comfort stations. They say no official Japanese government documents show the military’s role in recruiting the women.

According to historians, the military established the stations to boost morale among its troops, but also to prevent rapes of local women and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among soldiers.

Japan’s deep fear of rampaging soldiers also led it to establish brothels with Japanese prostitutes across Japan for American soldiers during the first months of the postwar occupation, a fact that complicates American involvement in the current debate…

The most direct testimony of the military’s role has come from the women themselves.

“An apology is the most important thing we want an apology that comes from the government, not only a personal one because this would give us back our dignity,” said Jan Ruff O’Herne, 84, who testified to a Congressional panel last month.

Ms. Ruff was living with her family in Java, in what was then the Dutch East Indies, when Japan invaded in 1942. She spent the first two years in a prison camp, she said, but Japanese officers arrived one day in 1944. They forced single girls and women to line up and eventually picked 10 of them, including Ms. Ruff, who was 21.

“On the first night, it was a high-ranking officer,” Ms. Ruff said. “It was so well organized. A military doctor came to our house regularly to examine us against venereal diseases, and I tell you, before I was examined the doctor raped me first. That’s how well organized it was.”

In Japan’s colonies, historians say, the military worked closely with, or sometimes completely relied on, local people to obtain women.

In Pyongyang, now the capital of North Korea, Gil Won-ok said, she lined up outside a Japanese military base to look for work in her early teens. A Korean man, she said, approached her with the promise of factory work, but she eventually found herself in a comfort station in northeast China. After she caught syphilis and developed tumors, Ms. Gil said, a Japanese military doctor removed her uterus…

SORRY TO END THE EXCERPT HERE. PLEASE SEE WHOLE STORY AT
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/08/world/asia/08japan.html?hp=&pagewanted=print
/////////////////////////////////////////////

So now it became deflection time. See next article. Launch a probe…? Even though groups within the LDP (which Abe once led) still refuse to acknowledge the important issue of who is responsible, and split hairs over what constituted “coercion”. No wonder that apologies from Japan, no matter how well-intentioned, soon become mooted…

/////////////////////////////////////////////
Abe endorses LDP probe into wartime sex slaves
JAPAN TIMES Friday, March 9, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070309a1.html

…Earlier in the day, an LDP lawmaker quoted Abe as saying the government would open a new investigation into the issue. The remark was made at a meeting of LDP lawmakers who adopted a resolution claiming that neither the wartime government nor the Imperial Japanese Army was responsible for “forcibly bringing” women to frontline brothels in the 1930s and ’40s. Abe was previously a director general of the LDP group.

But when asked if the government plans to take another look at the issue, Abe said: “I heard the party is going to study and investigate the issue. As for the government, we will cooperate in providing documents as requested by the party.”

Abe repeated that his government will continue to stand by the 1993 statement made by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono that admitted and apologized for the military’s involvement in forcing women into frontline brothels.

Abe declined comment on what kind of documentation or evidence the government would submit. “I don’t know about details yet,” he said.

In the resolution adopted Thursday, the LDP lawmakers’ association claimed its investigation showed that, despite the 1993 government statement, only private agencies forced women to work at the “comfort stations.”

The group admitted in a written statement that private-sector agencies did kidnap some women and forced them to work at their brothels, but it denied the government and army’s involvement in the process of “forcibly bringing” women to the military brothels…

The association, headed by former education minister Nariaki Nakayama, consists of 130 lawmakers, or nearly one-third of the 417 LDP lawmakers in both chambers of the Diet. The group handed the resolution to Abe Thursday afternoon.

Abe was once the director general of the association, which has long campaigned to push the education ministry to remove descriptions of “comfort women” from public high school history text books…
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////

Next day, more blame game:

//////////////////////////////////////////
Abe won’t explain sex slave remarks, accuses media of being inaccurate
Japan Today/Kyodo News Friday, March 9, 2007 at 19:41 EST

http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/400829

TOKYO Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday declined to give further explanation of his recent remarks on wartime sex slavery, saying such discussion would be ‘unproductive” and accusing the media of being “inaccurate.”

“At this very sensitive time when it is difficult to have my remarks conveyed correctly, I believe discussion here will only become extremely unproductive,” said Abe…

“Last time I answered questions on this issue, my remarks were not conveyed or reported accurately, so I believe it to be the right political judgment not to spread this any further,” Abe told reporters at his office when asked if he intends to provide an easier-to-understand explanation…

The New York Times issued an editorial on Tuesday harshly criticizing Japan’s “efforts to contort the truth” and published a front-page article on the experiences of survivors in its Thursday edition… (Kyodo News)
ENDS
///////////////////////////////////////////

That NYT editorial:

///////////////////////////////////////////
No Comfort
THE NEW YORK TIMES Editorial March 6, 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/06/opinion/06tues3.html
What part of “Japanese Army sex slaves” does Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, have so much trouble understanding and apologizing for?

The underlying facts have long been beyond serious dispute. During World War II, Japan’s Army set up sites where women rounded up from Japanese colonies like Korea were expected to deliver sexual services to Japan’s soldiers.

These were not commercial brothels. Force, explicit and implicit, was used in recruiting these women. What went on in them was serial rape, not prostitution. The Japanese Army’s involvement is documented in the government’s own defense files. A senior Tokyo official more or less apologized for this horrific crime in 1993. The unofficial fund set up to compensate victims is set to close down this month.

And Mr. Abe wants the issue to end there. Last week, he claimed that there was no evidence that the victims had been coerced. Yesterday, he grudgingly acknowledged the 1993 quasi apology, but only as part of a pre-emptive declaration that his government would reject the call, now pending in the United States Congress, for an official apology. America isn’t the only country interested in seeing Japan belatedly accept full responsibility. Korea and China are also infuriated by years of Japanese equivocations over the issue.

Mr. Abe seems less concerned with repairing Japan’s sullied international reputation than with appealing to a large right-wing faction within his Liberal Democratic Party that insists that the whole shameful episode was a case of healthy private enterprise. One ruling party lawmaker, in his misplaced zeal to exculpate the Army, even suggested the offensive analogy of a college that outsourced its cafeteria to a private firm.

Japan is only dishonored by such efforts to contort the truth.

The 1993 statement needs to be expanded upon, not whittled down. Parliament should issue a frank apology and provide generous official compensation to the surviving victims. It is time for Japan’s politicians starting with Mr. Abe to recognize that the first step toward overcoming a shameful past is acknowledging it.
ENDS
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////

This was echoed in a leader by The Economist London and an Op-Ed in the LA Times:

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////
NO COMFORT FOR ABE
The Economist London, March 8, 2007

http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_RRTVDVS

“…Is he deaf?… The past is your country too… [S]ix decades on, deliberate amnesia is unworthy of modern, democratic Japan. Shame on you, Mr Abe.”
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////

LOS ANGELES TIMES OP-ED, March 6, 2007
Japan can’t dodge this shame
By Dinah L. Shelton, professor of law at George Washington University.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-shelton6mar06,1,5075385.story
…In 2000, the Tokyo District Court dismissed a case brought by 46 former sex slaves from the Philippines who accused Japan of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The court wrongly decided that “crimes against humanity” were not part of international law at the time. In 2001, a reparations claim by South Korean women who had been held as sex slaves failed in the Hiroshima High Court on the similarly erroneous grounds that coerced sex wasn’t illegal at the time.

However, there is a strong case to be made that the Japanese government does owe the women damages. Rape and kidnapping were crimes in Japanese law at the time and should have led to prosecutions of soldiers committing them. Moreover, despite the ruling in Tokyo District Court, the notion of crimes against humanity goes back to 1904, and such crimes were indicted after World War I and successfully prosecuted after World War II. On top of that, Japan had joined in four international treaties that barred sexual trafficking in women and forced labor: the International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children (1921), the International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic (1904), the International Convention for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic of 1910 and the Agreement on the Abolition of Forced Labor (1930). In 1999, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions invoked these treaties and requested the International Labor Organization to rule that the women held by Japan in official brothels constituted forced laborers. The ILO Committee of Experts upheld the claim, despite Japanese contentions that the agreements did not apply to “colonial territories” such as occupied Korea. But the ILO had no power to order relief.

The Japanese government cannot be sued outside Japan because it has immunity from prosecution as a foreign state. Attempts by surviving women to sue in U.S. courts were dismissed on these grounds. Even if the victims were to surmount this “sovereign immunity” defense, they might run into problems with the peace treaties that ended World War II. For example, the 1951 U.S.-Japan peace treaty “recognized that the resources of Japan are not presently sufficient, if it is to maintain a viable economy, to make complete reparation” for damage and suffering. Japan has argued that this provision and others in peace treaties with some of its Asian neighbors and European powers closed the door on reparations claims by former prisoners of war, “comfort women” and other victims of Japanese atrocities and that nothing is owed anyone today. However, several provisions in the peace treaties suggest that reopening the issue of reparations might be possible, and advocates should look carefully at the texts. Still, it seems no court is likely to cure the injustice; Japan has a moral and legal obligation to do so.
ENDS
///////////////////////////////////////////////////

Finally, the wagons circled and “Team Japan” took effect…

Interesting articles on how the LDP, the MInistry of Foreign Affairs, and the Japanese media has been trying to manage the spin, in effect turning this international issue of historical justice into a domestic political one.

I wouldn’t be surprised if before long the sex slaves and their supporters are accused of “Japan bashing”…

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

RESPONSE TO THE LA TIMES OP-ED FROM THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT
Japan has atoned for transgressions
LA Times Letter to the Editor March 11, 2007

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/letters/la-le-sunday11.4mar11,1,5857043.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

Re “The shame Japan can’t dodge,” Opinion, March 6

Let me set the record straight.

In 1993, the government of Japan acknowledged the involvement of former Japanese military authorities in the “comfort women” issue and expressed apologies and remorse to those who endured immeasurable pain and incurable wounds.

In 1995, the Asian Women’s Fund, which extended payments to women as a form of atonement and implemented medical and welfare projects, was established with the cooperation of the government and the Japanese people.

Since then, payments have been accompanied by letters from prime ministers saying: “We must not evade the weight of the past, nor should we evade our responsibilities for the future. I believe that our country, painfully aware of its moral responsibilities, with feelings of apology and remorse, should face up squarely to its past history and accurately convey it to future generations.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that there has been no change in the position of the government of Japan.

KAZUO KODAMA
Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles

(thanks to NHK 7PM news March 12, 2007, for notifying me)
===========================

MEDIA MIX
Female foreigners are OK in Japan, so long as they’re not Asian
The Japan Times: Sunday, March 11, 2007 By PHILIP BRASOR

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20070311pb.html

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s refusal to apologize anew for Japan’s sex-slave policy during World War II has a different meaning in Japan than it does abroad…

Overseas, Abe’s remarks made headlines and has provoked anger from those who say that the Japanese government has yet to own up to the sex-slave policy and is backtracking into denial. In Japan, Abe’s remarks have been buried in articles about Diet business or stuck at the end of TV news reports. The media see them as part of a strategy for Abe to appear more assertive in response to weakening public support for his administration.

These reports rarely address the sex-slave issue itself. The Japanese media continue to use the euphemism “comfort women” to describe the sex slaves and have generally stopped discussing it as anything except a point of historical contention between Japan and certain groups outside of Japan. To the Japanese public it’s a nonissue.

Abe can split hairs over the definition of “coercion” and claim that there is no evidence of government involvement in the forced recruitment of sex slaves because he knows the local press won’t challenge him. During that famous mock tribunal held in Tokyo in 2000, where international legal experts put the wartime government on trial for its sex-slave policy, plenty of testimony and evidence was given to show that the government had indeed forced women from Korea, Taiwan and other Asian countries into frontline brothels. But that episode has since been turned into an entirely different matter of coercion–one having to do with whether or not the ruling party put pressure on NHK to water down its coverage of the tribunal. In other words, it was turned into a local issue.

Knowing what it knows about the behavior of soldiers and the suffering of innocents during wartime, the world looks upon Abe’s remarks as being cold and cynical–since they intensify the pain and humiliation of the surviving sex slaves, who couldn’t care less about the semantics of “coercion.” The Foreign Ministry has said that Abe’s remarks were “incorrectly conveyed” to the world and will attempt to educate the overseas media on “the real meaning of Japan’s position.” This transparent stab at spin control will fail because, in the end, Abe cares less about what the world thinks than about what his supporters think. And the media is willing to go along with it….
===========================

Japanese Prime Minister angers victims of wartime sex slavery
THE INDEPENDENT (London) Published: 09 March 2007
By David McNeill in Tokyo

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article2341358.ece

…[T]he issue has galvanised the Japanese right, who deny government involvement. “The women were legal prostitutes in brothels,” Nobukatsu Fujioka, a revisionist academic, said. He is one of the leading figures in a movement that aims to overturn much of the accepted wisdom about what took place during Japan’s rampage across Asia in the 1930s and 40s.

Twelve out of 18 members of Japan’s cabinet belong to a political forum that wants to “rethink” history education and backs many of Professor Fujioka’s views. His Society for History Textbook Reform has sold 800,000 copies of a revisionist history book that denies war crimes such as the comfort women and the Rape of Nanjing. Before coming to power, Mr Abe was one of the society’s supporters.

The revisionist denials are refuted by many Japanese historians. “The military decided when, where, and how ‘comfort stations’ were to be established,” Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a professor of history at Tokyo’s Chuo University, said.

Former Japanese soldiers have also testified to their involvement in the wartime rape of Asian women. Hajime Kondo, who was stationed in China from 1940-44, recalled kidnapping a woman in Shanxi Province and taking turns with his comrades in raping her. He said the thought that gang rape was wrong “never occurred” to him until he had his own family.

The deniers, however, have grown stronger since a 1993 statement by chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono that the military was directly involved. That statement has never been accepted by the right. Now, with the prospect of a US Congressional resolution calling on Tokyo to “formally apologise and accept historical responsibility” for the comfort women, a delegation of LDP politicians is to travel to the US to lobby for the resolution to be quashed.

Mr Abe’s supporters say his plummeting approval ratings have forced him to go for broke. “If he is true to his beliefs and says what he feels, his popularity will rise,” Professor Fujioka said.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////

In other words, just ride this thing out. Meanwhile, bang the nationalist drum and rally domestic support behind an issue which Japan can unequivocally claim “victim status”–The North Korean Rachi Mondai Abduction Issue:

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

Japan launches ad campaign to promote efforts to get back abductees from North Korea
Courtesy Club of 99, Associated Press, March 12, 2007

TOKYO (AP) Japan is launching a TV ad campaign to boost public support for its effort to resolve North Korea’s abductions of Japanese citizens, officials said Monday.

The first commercial will be broadcast on 114 commercial TV stations across the nation March 15-31, the Cabinet Office said. In a video clip, a girl walking on a beach with her parents and a little sister is abruptly washed away by swollen black waves.

Photographs of 17 abductees still believed to be in the North and their families then cover the screen, followed by the message: “The abductions by North Korea took away loved ones and their lives. Japan will get back all abduction victims at any cost.”

North Korea admitted in 2002 that it kidnapped 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and ’80s. Pyongyang sent five of them home later that year, but insisted the rest were dead. Japan has demanded proof and says more of its citizens may have been taken.

Japan’s 105 million yen ([US$890,000; euro 676,500]) commercial campaign is aimed at rallying public opinion behind Tokyo’s stance when multilateral nuclear disarmament talks reconvene next week, said Cabinet Office official Koshi Niitani.

North Korea pledged to shut down its nuclear reactor in return for energy aid in talks on improved relations with regional powers during the previous round in Beijing in February. The talks, which also involve China, the United States, South Korea and Russia, are scheduled to begin March 19.

Last week, Japan and North Korea held talks in Hanoi aimed at normalizing ties under the Beijing agreement, but failed to make a breakthrough. Tokyo has refused to provide energy aid to or establish diplomatic relations with North Korea unless Pyongyang accounts for its abductions, while North Korea has demanded reparations from Japan for its 1910-45 colonization of the Korean peninsula. Japan has yet to formally apologize to the North for its wartime actions.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Our taxes at work. Look, I am no apologist for NK’s actions (I think the leadership is nuts), so let’s not get hung up on that. My point is that what’s lying latent in the debate is the acknowledgment of history, without historical creep to match political capitalizing.

This is one of the reasons why UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene has stated repeatedly that we need a written history of the region (brokered by the UN) which every country can agree upon. (http://www.debito.org/?p=238)

Otherwise, we’re going to keep on falling into the vicious circles of historical revisionism, unaddressed victims, mooted apologies, and intercontinental tensions that span generations and last for centuries–which hinder people looking for commonalities and common ground in negotiations.

Get on with it, everyone. Grow up and face the fact that any honest study of history for ANY country or society has its dark moments and historical atrocities. Stop denying. Acknowledge, and move on. It makes a country no less “beautiful’, Mr Abe. It actually makes a country worthy of respect for its honesty.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG SPECIAL NEWSLETTER ON THE COMFORT WOMEN ISSUE, MARCH 13, 2007, ENDS

GAIJIN HANZAI: Why I believe the police were behind its publication (UPDATED)

Hi Blog. I spent the weekend writing up a 6000-word essay for publication at an academic source on the GAIJIN HANZAI Case and what it means.

I believe it is an historical event–the first time we’ve seen the “Newcomer” immigrants band together and show their muscle as an economic bloc.

I also speculate on who the publisher, “Joey H. Washington”, is.

I believe it is the police.

Hear me out.

The arguments as I present them in my essay, FYI, follow below. This is still a rough draft (and footnotes are not included for the time being), and not necessarily how it will turn out in the final version. But I think my reasoning is pretty strong. See for yourself if you agree.

(And see the whole GAIJIN HANZAI mook scanned in full at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ultraneo/sets/72157594531953574/)

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UPDATE MARCH 16: FINALLY GOT THE ACADEMIC VERSION DONE, SHOULD BE OUT PRESENTLY. WATCH THIS BLOG. AND SINCE I INCLUDED PHOTOS IN THE ACADEMIC VERSION, IT’S A CINCH TO ADD THEM TO THIS BLOG POSTING. ADD SEVERAL THOUSAND WORDS WITH SEVERAL PICTURES, AS THEY SAY. –DEBITO

———————-

PS:  Just heard word last night–somebody found 15 GH mags on sale at bookstore Junkudo in Tenjin, Fukuoka March 2.  
He notified the shopkeeps of the issue and the books were taken off the shelves.  Eyes peeled, everyone. D

gaijinhanzaijunkudo030207.jpg
////////////// EXCERPT BEGINS  /////////////////////////

THE INVISIBLE HAND BEHIND THE MOOK

In the end, one mystery remains: Who produced this publication? The “publisher” (hakkousha) listed on the binding is a Mr “Joey H. Washington”, who does not exist. Despite repeated requests, Saka refuses to reveal his patron.

This matters, because it is clear that whoever funded this is rich and powerful. There are no advertisements whatsoever within GAIJIN HANZAI, yet, according to a source in the publishing world, it would cost at least a quarter of a million dollar US to print something of this quality and volume. Moreover, this patron is powerful enough to convince Saka, who initially agreed to appear at a luncheon press conference with the United Nations at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan (FCCJ) on February 26, to avoid the event 23.

Allow me to speculate. I believe the National Police Agency, or some police branch, was behind it. Here are my arguments behind that belief:

For one, I mentioned deep pockets, and what deeper pockets are there than tax monies (which the NPA, and particularly the National Public Safety Commission (kokka kouan iinkai) with their secret budgets and a clear mandate to monitor foreigner activity24 , have ample access to)?

Another clue is the degree of information and access to the police. No fewer than three articles quote the NPA or ex-police, and the last pages have masterful summaries of foreign crimes (including names and ages) that would be most easily collated by the police databases. Even Saka admitted in his abovementioned ipcdigital interview that, “We have spoken with Japanese police in order to write each article. For them this issue is serious and they have provided the data.” [Emphasis mine]. It is remarkable that the police would cooperate to this degree with Eichi Shuppan, a mid-tier pornography publisher, given the borderline illegality and threat to “public morals” (fuuki) that the sex trades pose within Japan.

Finally, the photos are a giveaway. Either the photographer has the patience of Ansel Adams and the ability to be everywhere at once, or these are police photographs and camerawork. The police feature prominently in several photographs, and given how sensitive cops are to being photographed (I have received many reports from angry photographers, who have been told by police to delete their photos on site, wondering if the NPA even the right to demand that in a public place), the photographer must be wearing an invisibility cloak.

(Make your browser window as wide as possible to see these pages side by side)

ghpg9.jpgghpg8.jpg

Not to mention own a hang glider, since many of the shots are “eye in the sky”, at just the right angle to be from surveillance cameras.

ghpg23.jpgghpg22.jpg

ghpg13.jpgghpg12.jpg

These spy cameras, by the way, are proliferating throughout certain regions of Tokyo (such as Roppongi and Kabukicho) precisely because they have a high foreign population. However, in GAIJIN HANZAI, no other place in Japan is even included photographically with crowds of foreigners. Only places with police surveillance cameras. For a book cataloging foreign crime throughout Japan (and there are many other places, such as towns in Shizuoka and Gifu Prefectures, with higher percentages of foreigners), the visual focus on Tokyo is oddly convenient for the police.

Finally, there is data in this book that only the police have access to, such as a passport photo of a suspect (page 19).
ghpg19.jpg

If they are not financially behind the mook, then they are certainly supplying the data, and perhaps some of the analysis.

This would be within character of the NPA since 1999. As I have written in my book JAPANESE ONLY (Akashi Shoten Inc. 2006, pages 196-209), there was a sea change in police attitudes towards foreigners shortly after the founding of the “Policy Committee Against Internationalization (kokusaika taisaku iinkai) in May 1999. By the very title of the organization, and the policy writeup in JO pages 206-207, police would see foreigners and the internationalization they would cause as a source of crime, something to create taisaku policy against.

This policy shift was apparent less than a year later, with Tokyo Governor Ishihara’s famous “Sangokujin Speech” of April 9, 2000. Ishihara called upon the Self-Defense Forces to fill in the gaps in Japan’s police forces in the event of a natural disaster, since foreigners would unprecedentedly riot. Since then, the Tokyo Government (the current vice-governor is an ex-cop), the Koizumi Administration, the media, and local police agencies made concerted efforts to create and disperse public-service information on the threat to public safety and stability (such as “infectious diseases and terrorism “) which foreigners allegedly pose 26.

This has reached a degree where even an academic survey has reported: “[T]he Japanese public’s fear of crime is not in proportion to the likelihood of being victimized. What is different is the scale of this mismatch. While Japan has one of the lowest victimization rates, the International Crime Victim Surveys indicate that it has among the highest levels of fear of crime…”27 . The report goes on to say, “[T]he Japanese press… is presenting a partial and inaccurate picture of current crime trends.” Another academic concurs, to say that in media coverage, “crimes by foreigners were 4.87 times more likely to be covered than crimes by Japanese.”28

Given that the NPA gives regular biannual reports to the media appraising them specifically of the rise in foreign crime rates (and decline, although sometimes the Japanese media refuses to report it 29), the NPA supplying this publisher with this much information is in this author’s opinion neither unprecedented nor out of character. Not to mention that in this age of terrorism, whipping up public fear has proven a very effective measure for loosening public purse strings.30

/////////////////// EXCERPT ENDS /////////////////////////

Full essay to come…

Rogues’ Gallery: 3 new exclusionary signs: Hiroshima & Koshigaya: “Pure-Blooded Japanese Only–No War Orphans”

Hello Blog. The Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments in Japan, with signs and policies restricting or forbidding “foreigners” entry, has just been updated on Debito.org.

http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html

Three new additions within the 13 cities and towns nationwide in Japan, in Hiroshima and Koshigaya, Saitama.

HIROSHIMA (two new signs):
INDONESIAN BAR “CLUB SAMA SAMA”
Hiroshima-Shi Naka Tenchi 1-2, Hiroshima Dai Bldg 3F Ph: 082−246−2320

samasamasign.jpg

The sign is hard to see, but translating:

“NOTICE: WE STRICTLY REFUSE ENTRY TO ORGANIZED CRIME AND THEIR AFFICIATES, PEOPLE IN THE WATER TRADES, OVERLY INTOXICATED PEOPLE, MINORS UNDER THE AGE OF 18, PEOPLE WHO HAVE CAUSED TROUBLE ON THE PREMISES, FOREIGNERS, AND ‘PROMOTERS’ (SCOUTS FOR FEMALE TALENT). IF WE FIND YOU ON THE PREMISES, WE WILL ASK YOU TO LEAVE. YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE A REFUND. WE ALSO RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE TO ANYONE WE CHOOSE. –CLUB SAMA SAMA”

REPORT FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER (A Southeast Asian naturalized Japanese citizen. Japanese original, translated by Arudou Debito):

==========================
“… I met with a guy friend (Japanese by birth), and went for dinner, then a night out on the town… We went inside SAMA SAMA and were shown to a table by the management.

“As soon as we had sat down, one of the male staff came up to us and said, “Excuse me, Gaijin are not allowed in here.” I just happened to have my passport on me and explained that I am in fact a Japanese. However, he replied, “You look foreign, so kindly leave.” After he kicked me out, he pointed to the sign outside with said exclusionary policy. When I tried to take a picture, the manager got in the way, so they’re a little shaky. Enclosed.”
==========================

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

BAR “SUMATRA TIGER”
Hiroshima-shi, Naka-ku, Yagenbori 7-9. Sanwa Bld 2F

http://www.sumatratiger.com/
sumatratigersign.jpg
Click on thumbnail for larger image

Adjacent to local Hiroshima International Bar “El Barco”, this place restricts all US military personnel without Japanese or Foreign civilian friends. Report from the submitter:

==========================
“I don’t know when it was posted, but I discovered this sign (picture attached) on a club, Sumatra Tiger, adjacent to El Barco. Wouldn’t such a sign demand that all foreigners (at least, “American-looking” foreigners) present their gaijin cards as proof that they are civilians working in Japan, and not affiliated with the US military? And of course, I assume no private club has the right to make such a demand, only the koban or government officials.”

COMMENT FROM THE ROGUES’ GALLERY MODERATOR: I rather agree that a bar is not the best place to face drunk young military types, and can understand a certain degree of trepidation both from bar owner and client. However, this is a place which is restricting entry to non-Japanese, which falls under the purview of the Rogues’ Gallery. It is also important, as the submitter says, to see how this policy is actually enforced–and if all “foreigners” will be treated as “military” on appearance alone. Anyone want to drop by this place and find out?
==========================

Full details on both places at:
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Hiroshima

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

But here’s the worst sign I’ve ever seen:

KOSHIGAYA CITY, SAITAMA PREFECTURE
NIGHTLIFE “EDEN”
2-3 Koshigaya, Koshigaya, Saitama
Phone: 048-964-8852

http://www.k-eden.com
SIGN READS:
“ENTRY ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN TO CHINESE, NATURALIZED CITIZENS, CHINESE WAR ORPHANS (zanryuu koji), AND PEOPLE WITH CHINESE BLOOD MIXED IN. ONLY PURE-BLOODED JAPANESE MALES PERMITTED.”

edensign0307072.jpg
Click on photo for link to complete image

No joke.

Only pure-breeds? They’ve really thought this policy out to be as exclusive as possible.

Not even naturalized citizens? That deals me out too.

Now we’re separating customers specifically by blood? The signs are getting worse…

Full details at:
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Koshigaya

No doubt more to come. Thanks for the submissions, everyone. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
ENDS

Wash Times on UN Diene visit, Ibuki, Gaijin Hanzai etc

Hi Blog. Two nice articles on issues we’re covering on this blog: UN Rep Doudou Diene’s recent Japan visit and the forces working against Japan’s inevitable internationalization(including Ed Minister Ibuki’s comments, PM Abe’s support of Japan’s alleged homogeneity, and “Japanese Only” signs nationwide). Bravo. Thanks to the author for notifying me. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Insular power poses unique issues on bias
Published March 9, 2007 Washington Times
By Takehiko Kambayashi

http://www.washingtontimes.com/world/20070308-111427-2527r.htm

Doudou Diene, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, who was in Tokyo last week, spoke with Takehiko Kambayashi of The Washington Times about racism and xenophobia in Japan. His report to the U.N. Human Rights Commission last year urged Japan to immediately adopt a law against racism, race discrimination and xenophobia.

Question: What made you investigate racism in Japan?

Answer: I was elected by the United Nations Human Rights Commission as a special rapporteur and given a mandate to investigate racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia. I issue a yearly report on racism worldwide and investigate racism in different countries.

First, Japan is a global economic power, but the country is insular. This contradiction interested me, and I investigated racism in Japan. Japan’s population had been isolated for long [from the 1630s to the 1850s, under a national policy], but it is now becoming more multicultural and multiethnic. So I wanted to investigate how Japan is coping with this.

Second, I’ve come to Japan many times. I knew about the Burakumin, which made me interested. I visited Buraku communities. I spent a great amount of time with the people and looked at their situations and listened to them.

I also met the Ainu, [indigenous people living mostly on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island] and learned how they tried to save their identity and were facing different forms of discrimination. And finally, I realized the complexities among Japan, China and Korea. I also learned of the discrimination Koreans and Chinese suffered in Japan.

[Editor’s note: The Burakumin are not a racial minority but a castelike minority among the Japanese. They are recognized as descendents of an outcast population of the feudal days. According to the Buraku Liberation League, Japan has 6,000 Buraku communities with more than 3 million people.]

Q: Can you tell us how the issues of racism in Japan differ from those in other countries?

A: Each country has its own history, its own culture and dynamic population. It is difficult to compare.

In Japan, one of the deep roots of discrimination is history – not only the history of Japan but the history of the relationship between Japan and neighboring countries. It is in the context of this history that discrimination has been built up strongly. It is clear that the history of discrimination against the Burakumin and the Ainu has been profoundly related with the history of Japanese feudal society and Japan’s history.

It is also clear that discrimination against Koreans living in Japan is also the consequence of the history of Imperial Japan, the way Japan dominated their country with an ideology of cultural domination and contempt. History is a very important factor.

Q: So this is a challenge to Japan?

A: The challenge to Japan is the writing and teaching of history. The Ainu and the Burakumin are absent in national history. Their history, their culture, the process of the discrimination, the deep causes of the discrimination, all of these are absent in Japanese history.

Japanese history, as it’s taught in schools, is also silent about the way China and Korea profoundly influenced the construction of Japanese identity. China and Korea are considered to be the father and mother of Japan, in a way, in terms of language, culture and religion.

My recommendation is for Japan to agree with China, Korea and other countries in the region and start a joint drafting of the region’s history. I recommended that these countries call upon [the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] to coordinate.

ARTICLE ENDS
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SECOND WASHINGTON TIMES ARTICLE BEGINS

Japanese confront differences
By Takehiko Kambayashi
THE WASHINGTON TIMES Published March 9, 2007

http://www.washingtontimes.com/world/20070308-111434-8198r.htm

TOKYO–While Japan is becoming more multicultural and multiethnic, some say coping with it is still a daunting task. That is exemplified by recent comments by Japan’s Education Minister Bunmei Ibuki, critics say.

“Japan has been historically governed by the Yamato race [ethnic Japanese],” Mr. Ibuki told a convention of the Liberal Democratic Party’s chapter in Nagasaki late last month, adding that the country is “extremely homogeneous.”

However, international marriages in Japan increased from 27,727 in 1995 to 41,481 in 2005.

Mr. Ibuki, who describes himself on his Web site as an “internationally minded person acquainted with many foreign dignitaries,” shocked the Japanese with his comments and infuriated minorities like the Ainu indigenous people.

Yupo Abe, vice president of the Ainu Association of Hokkaido, said he was astonished to hear Mr. Ibuki’s comments, adding that the head of Japan’s Education Ministry “lacks an understanding of history.”

Mr. Abe said the Ainu people had long lived in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island, which makes up about 20 percent of the country’s land mass, but in 1869 Japan took away their land.

The stir created by Mr. Ibuki’s remarks coincided with a visit by Doudou Diene, the United Nations special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance who wrote a report on Japan.

“I am surprised that these comments were made by the minister of education, whose function is to educate children, enlighten them and transmit values to them,” said Mr. Diene. “There is no such thing as a homogeneous society.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, however, said there was nothing wrong with Mr. Ibuki’s remarks.

“I think he was referring to the fact that we [the Japanese] have gotten along with each other fairly well so far,” he said. “I don’t see any specific problem with that.”

“Such words will only fuel doubts about Mr. Abe’s integrity as a national leader,” countered the Japan Times, an English-language daily, in an editorial.

Last year, Mr. Diene submitted his report on Japan to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights and U.N. General Assembly, urging Japan to recognize the existence of racial discrimination and immediately adopt a law against it.

Some recent incidents seem to indicate the need for such a law.

Last month a sensational magazine titled “Secret Files of Foreigners’ Crimes” went on sale across the country with its cover screaming “Will we let gaijin [foreigners] lay waste to Japan?” and “Everyone will become a target of foreign crime in 2007!” [“Gaijin” is a loaded word that literally means “outsider.”] The magazine provoked outrage over its garish depictions of Chinese, Koreans, Iranians and U.S. servicemen.

A boycott movement prompted major convenience stores like Family Mart, 7-Eleven and others to pull the magazines off their shelves.

The magazine’s editor Shigeki Saka of Eichi Publishing was not apologetic. He said the magazine wanted to discuss crimes committed by foreigners and how to be prepared for them.

The Japanese press generally ignored the issue, said U.S.-born Debito Arudou, a Japanese citizen. “There’s a reason for that: It’s not something that people want to discuss when it comes to real, naked racism.”

Moreover, in a nation that aspires to a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, some businesses still display “Japanese Only” signs. In Koshigaya, a bedroom community of Tokyo, Eden, an “adult entertainment shop,” has posted a sign saying “Pure-Blooded Japanese Male Only,” and “Chinese and Naturalized people, Japanese war orphans left in China, people of mixed race with Chinese origin, Absolutely No Entry.”

A manager said the shop itself did not mean to discriminate against those at whom it pointed a finger, but its female staff members don’t want them.

Such “Japanese Only” signs can be seen across Japan, said Mr. Arudou, author of “Japanese Only.”

“It’s getting worse. It’s nationwide.”

” ‘Japanese Only’ signs are unconstitutional, but they are not illegal because there is no law to enforce the constitution,” Mr. Arudou said.

Ironically, since Japan’s current population of 127 million is expected to fall to below 100 million by 2050, some say more foreigners should be encouraged to live and work in Japan for the country’s own survival.

ARTICLES END

Trans-Pacific Radio interviews Arudou Debito

Hey Blog.  Had a very pleasant and quite probing interview with Trans-Pacific Radio last weekend.  Here’s the writeup and a link.  Debito in Sapporo

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

Seijigiri #19 – March 8, 2007: A conversation with Debito Arudou
Filed under: Seijigiri Releases, Trans-Pacific Radio, Interviews
Posted by Seijigiri at 7:29 pm on Thursday, March 8, 2007

Last Saturday, March 2, Garrett, Ken and Albrecht Stahmer sat down for a talk with social activist and naturalized Japanese citizen Arudou Debito. The talk actually lasted for hours, and as it stretched on, veered away from the initial interview structure that had been set up.

With this release, we have kept one hour of material in which Debito touches upon how he came to be a social activist, the cultural politics of Japanese identity, acceptance of him as a Japanese and his work in the Japanese and foreign communities, Japan’s educational system, the ‘Japanese Only’ phenomenon, Education Minister Ibuki Bunmei, human rights and butter, the state of the Democratic Party of Japan, what sort of law against discrimination he would like to see in Japan…and his hopes for Japan’s future.

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

Hear it at:
http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/03/08/seijigiri-19-march-8-2007-a-conversation-with-debito-arudou/
ENDS

Terrie’s Take on Divorce in Japan

Hi Blog. Terrie’s Take offers a good summary of the issues pertaining to the growing body of information regarding divorce in Japan and the horrible aftermath, particularly when it comes to international relationships. And he too forecasts an uptick in the divorce rate come April–when pension scheme reforms come into place. Thanks to Scott W. for forwarding this. Debito in Sapporo

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TERRIE’S TAKE TT-411 — divorce surge
By Terrie Lloyd. General Edition Sunday, March 4, 2007 Issue No. 411
Courtesy:
http://www.japaninc.com/tt411

It’s been a while since we wrote about divorce in Japan. However, an article
in the Daily Yomiuri several weeks back reminded us that this is one big
black hole in Japan and the law has not caught up with the changing social
realities. The article was the so-called “Troubleshooter” column, in which a
woman says that her 11-year old daughter is reluctant to see her divorced
Dad. The woman said that she was concerned that if the child didn’t see her
father (he wants to see her — unusual for a Japanese divorcee), she was
worried that he might be inclined to stop paying child maintenance.

To our surprise, the responding lawyer, a Ms. Doi, told the woman that she
needn’t worry. She said that even if the Dad couldn’t see his kid, he’d
still have to pay the child maintenance and education costs. Does she really
think he can be made to pay? Also, her comment that the child doesn’t need
to see her Dad if “she has started to become emotionally unstable because of
the burden [of seeing him]” reveals one of the major reasons why he probably
never will pay. Because he’s been marginalized.

Let’s look at some of the real-life issues involved in
divorce in Japan when it involves kids.

1. The lawyer, Ms. Doi, is being naiive in thinking the
husband can be made to continue paying child maintenance. According to some
statistics we’ve seen, only 20% of Japanese divorced Dads actually pay
maintenance. One reason for such a low rate of court compliance is that
Japan has no concept of shared custody, and so there is no sense for the
father of sharing responsibility for his off-spring. Indeed, the prevailing
view by lawyers and counsellors is that it is emotionally damaging for
children to see a divorced parent, since it makes them confused and upset.
Talk about a diametrically opposed view to the joint custody approach of
most other nations!

2. Another big reason why Dads don’t pay is that the Family
Law Courts are toothless and have no power to enforce
civil judgements, other than to allow the spouse to try to attach assets or
salary. But she has to find the Dad first, and neither the court nor the
police will help in this process. The simple fact of the matter is that a
determined Dad can easily shift cities and jobs, and his salary stays
intact. Alternatively, he can form a company with one other shareholder and
place the assets in that company, preventing her from attaching them since
they are no longer just his.

3. A third reason why Dads cut themselves off is “PAS”: Parental Alienation
Syndrome — something which is totally unknown here in Japan. Perhaps this
isn’t surprising, since PAS is only just starting to gain acceptance in the
USA and elsewhere. In the theory behind PAS, a child instinctivly latches on
to its caregiver and if it senses that the caregiver hates the divorced
parent, then the child will take on the same values even if he/she really
loves that parent deep down. We note that this is very similar to the
Stockholm Syndrome experienced by kidnap victims.

The problem of getting deadbeat Dads to pay up is not
unique to Japan. But in considering just why there are so
many deadbeats in this country, it is clear that the legal system offers no
opportunity for Dads to experience an on-going emotional bond and thus
support his children — kids who unfortunately have been encouraged to hate
his guts anyway. Shared custody, with guaranteed access by both parents
would go a long way to solving the problem of emotional detachment and
subsequent non-payment. But then that requires some social re-engineering —
something we probably won’t see in our lifetime.

The divorce rate in Japan is quite high, at about 40% of
the number of marriages. The peak for divorce was 290,000 people in 2002.
However, this dropped to 260,000 in 2005 and 235,000 in 2006 (annualized
figure drawn from Nov 2006 stats). Despite what you may think, the reason
for the falling divorce rate isn’t an improvement in marital relations nor
an improved economy. Rather, it’s due to a new divorce law which comes into
effect in April this year and which allows women to claim up to 50% of their
husband’s pension in the event of a split.

Until now, older women getting divorced have only been able
to get a share of the pension if the hubby approved. If he didn’t, as has
often been the case, then the best she could expect was a much smaller
hardship pension. The divorce statistics imply that there is a huge number
of stored up divorces waiting to be registered after April — potentially as
many as 55,000 more than normal. It should be interesting to see the effects
of both this surge AND the one that will inevitably come from the mass
retirement of the Dankai Sedai (Baby boomers) generation over the next 5
years.

Then of course there is the thorny issue of legal child abduction by
Japanese escaping an international marriage. While the domestic media focus
on the abduction of Japanese nationals to North Korea, they make little
noise about the many abductions of kids of international marriages by
fleeing Japanese spouses. There are numerous documented cases, so numerous
in fact that some countries such as the USA consider Japan the second worst
haven for international child abduction.

The problem is that Japan is not a signatory to the Hague Convention in
respect to the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, although it
has adopted some of the other Hague Convention laws. Clearly this has been a
conscious choice by the government and our guess is that it is probably an
effort by the judiciary and political conservatives to maintain the current
status quo on societal attitudes and family law.

If you’d like to know more about the ugly side of
international divorce, especially where kids are involved, check out the
Child Rights Network at http://www.crnjapan.com/en/. If you’re wondering why
the focus seems to be on fathers at that page, it’s most likely because a
foreign father is the party least likely to be allowed to keep seeing the
children of a divorced marriage. Yes, there have been cases of foreign
mothers being separated from their kids, but these are much rarer…

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

BACK ISSUES OF TERRIE’S TAKE
http://www.japaninc.com/terries_take or,
http://mailman.japaninc.com/pipermail/terrie/
ENDS

Yomiuri: 2-Channel’s lost lawsuits pile up; now 43!

Hi Blog.  A roundup of the trouble that 2ch is making for Japan’s judiciary.  One of those 43 unresolved lawsuits happens to be mine.  More on that at
http://www.debito.org/?cat=21
http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html
Arudou Debito in Tatebayashi

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Message board owner has lost 43 lawsuits
The Yomiuri Shimbun Mar. 6, 2007

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070306TDY03005.htm

Hiroyuki Nishimura, the operator of the nation’s largest Internet message board, 2channel, has lost at least 43 of more than 50 civil lawsuits filed against him in Tokyo and elsewhere over defamation and other charges, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

Nishimura, 30, has been ordered to pay a total of about 58 million yen in damages, but has defied court orders by failing to pay most of it, and as a result has been fined the equivalent of about 880,000 yen a day, or more than 434 million yen cumulatively.

It appears Nishimura has not complied with any orders for payment of damages, meaning most of the plaintiffs have not received compensation despite winning lawsuits.

Observers have pointed out that this illustrates the lawlessness on the Internet and the limits in terms of judicial action that can be taken against those who break the law online.

Since 2001, more than 50 lawsuits have been filed against Nishimura with the Tokyo District Court alone. Nishimura’s defeat in court was finalized in 40 of the cases, as well as in respect of lawsuits filed with the Sapporo, Osaka and Kobe district courts.

In the lawsuits, the plaintiffs called for the deletion of content on the discussion board, the disclosure of information on message writers and the financial compensation from Nishimura over his neglect to eliminate problematic writings.

In a libel case filed by a Tokyo animal clinic operator in July 2001 over a post that described the clinic as “nasty,” Nishimura was ordered to pay 4 million yen in damages. The ruling has been finalized.

In a case filed by a Hokkaido associate professor in January last year seeking damages over messages that denounced him as racist and psychotic [guess who], Nishimura was ordered to pay 1.1 million yen in damages. The court ruling to that effect was finalized.

In many of his trials, Nishimura neither employed a lawyer nor attended hearings, resulting in the court handing down decisions all in favor of the plaintiffs. Nishimura rarely appealed the rulings.

According to the Yomiuri survey, Nishimura complied with court orders for removing messages in 11 cases and disclosing information in three cases.

But he has not paid up in any of the 21 cases in which he was ordered to pay damages.

As a result, the plaintiffs in nine of the cases filed for court orders for the seizure of Nishimura’s assets. But the plaintiffs could secure only 3 million yen in four cases.

The seizure of Nishimura’s assets did not prove successful because it has proved hard to trace his bank accounts, and even when his accounts were found, there was little money in them.

Another reason is because the court was told by a company at which Nishimura served as director of the board that it did not pay him remuneration.

Those libeled on the forums have filed for provisional injunctions ordering the removal of certain posts and the disclosure of information on their authors. If the defendant does not follow a court ruling or provisional injunction order, the court, based on the demands by the plaintiff, can order the defendant to pay a daily fine until he or she complies with the order.

Such system has been applied to Nishimura in five cases. He is now obliged to pay about 880,000 yen a day. As of March 1, the cumulative fines came to 434 million yen.

The Yomiuri Shimbun has sent e-mail requests to Nishimura since late last month asking him for an interview, but had received no response as of Monday.

Nishimura started 2channel in 1999 while he was studying in the United States.

The message board is subdivided into various categories in which people can write on any topic anonymously.

(Mar. 6, 2007)
ENDS

読売:2ちゃんねる管理者、敗訴43件も制裁金4億円不払い

ブロクの皆様、こんにちは。日本語でお久しぶりです。2ちゃんねるはここまで誹謗で被害を起していますが、責任者は責任を取らぬ。いつごろ日本は司法府をきちんと拘束力を与えられますか。
いきさつは
http://www.debito.org/?cat=21

http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html

有道 出人

===========================
2ちゃんねる管理者、敗訴43件も制裁金4億円不払い
読売新聞 2007年3月5日14時30分
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20070305it05.htm?from=top

インターネット掲示板「2ちゃんねる」への誹謗(ひぼう)中傷の書き込みなどを巡り、管理者西村博之氏(30)を相手取り、名誉棄損などを訴える民事訴訟が全国で50件以上起こされ、少なくとも43件で西村氏側の敗訴が確定していることが読売新聞の調べでわかった。

この結果、西村氏に命じられた賠償額は約5800万円、仮処分命令などに従わないことによる「制裁金」が1日当たり約88万円、累計約4億3400万円に上るが、西村氏が自ら支払いに応じたケースはほとんどないと見られる。原告側は勝訴にもかかわらず賠償を得られない状態で、ネットの無法状態と司法の限界が露呈した形だ。

西村氏に対する訴訟は2001年以降、東京地裁だけで50件以上が起こされ、うち40件の敗訴が確定。ほかにも札幌、大阪、神戸の各地裁で計3件の敗訴が確定している。

訴えの内容は、〈1〉書き込みの削除請求〈2〉プロバイダー責任法に基づく、書き込んだ人の発信者情報の開示請求〈3〉書き込みを放置した管理者責任を問う損害賠償請求——がほとんどだ。このうち、01年7月に東京都内の動物病院経営者が「えげつない病院」などと書き込まれたとして提訴した訴訟では、400万円の賠償命令が確定。昨年1月にも、北海道の大学助教授が「人種差別者」「精神異常者」などと書き込まれたとして賠償を求めた訴訟で、110万円の賠償を命じた判決が確定している。

西村氏は多くの裁判で弁護士を付けず、裁判を欠席しているため、原告側請求を認める判決がほとんど。また西村氏は控訴などを余りしないため、敗訴確定が相次いでいる。

読売新聞の調査によると西村氏は、書き込み削除請求のうち11件、開示請求のうち3件には、裁判所の命令に応じた。

しかし賠償金支払いを命じられた21件で自ら賠償金を支払ったケースはなかった。このため9件の原告側は、西村氏の財産を差し押さえようと強制執行の手続きを取った。しかし回収できたのは、4件計三百数十万円にとどまっている。

差し押さえがうまくいかないのは、西村氏名義の銀行口座を突き止めても残高が少なかったり、西村氏が取締役を務める会社から「役員報酬は払っていない」と回答されたりしたため。

書き込み削除や情報開示については、当事者が仮処分を申し立てることが多い。被告が判決や仮処分命令に従わない場合は、裁判所が原告側の請求に基づき、命令に従うまで1日当たり一定額の制裁金支払いを義務付ける「間接強制」を行うことがある。

西村氏に間接強制が適用されたケースは確認できただけで5件。現在、1日約88万円の支払い義務が発生しており、3月1日現在の累計は4億3400万円に膨らんでいる。

読売新聞は西村氏に対し2月下旬以降、電子メールで取材を申し込んでいるが、返答がない。

(2007年3月5日14時30分 読売新聞)
ENDS

NUGW “March in March” Sun Mar 11, Shibuya

Hi Blog. Passing this on from National Union of General Workers’ Louis Carlet, a close personal friend of mine and one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever met.

I have attended the past two “March in March”es (they’re great fun), and recommend that you do too if you care about Immigration to Japan and your job security. Seriously. (I won’t be the surprise guest, mind you, not in Tokyo long enough this year…)

Bloggers, pass this information around! Debito in Setagaya.

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Seven Days Left!

The union office was busy today as several members were busy building placards and mushirobata and preparing for next week’s March in March on Job Security and Equality for All. Chaining this email will really make a difference in getting the word out. Many people will come if only they know about it.Branches, we will have blank job security posters and markers so you can fill in the name of your workplace so come over to where we have it set up.

We are sending out a press release this evening to hundreds of press organizations. We know that Italian TV will be there and MTV Japan may be there as well. This looks like it will be the funnest and biggest march yet. We have performances, dances and music lined up as well as lots of speeches and a surprise guest.

During the march, please feel free to participate in the sphrehicall chanting if you can so we can raise our voice as one and get out voice heard. Also a reminder, if you are strong to come stand near me during the assembly so we can get you one of those 15 big mushiro bata tatami mats.

Place: Miyashita Koen Park (Shibuya)
Date: March 11 (Sun)
Time: 1pm-1:30pm (march should finish by 4pm)

You can see the map to Shibuya’s Miyashita Koen Park at:
http://nambufwc.org/navi/march/miyashita-map.gif

See you at Miyashita Park in seven days!

Louis Carlet
Spring Solidarity for Foreign Workers
Steering Committee Member

NUGW Tokyo Nambu
Deputy General Secretary


3rd Annual March In March
March 11th 2007 from 1:30pm, Miyashita Park Shibuya Tokyo
http://nambufwc.org/march-in-march/
Cellphone-friendly link: http://nambufwc.org/navi/march/march.html

NUGW Tokyo Nambu – Nambu FWC
http://nambufwc.org

Day-After Talks with the Government

Place: Lower House Dietmember Building = Shugiin Daiichi Giin Kaikan
(Take Marunouchi Line to Kokkai Gijidomae and take exit A1)
Date: March 12 (Mon)
Time: 9:30am (meet in the lobby at 9:20am to get pass)

ANNOUNCEMENT ENDS

Abe denies existence of “Comfort Women”, overseas media and US Congress react, Abe backpedals, then clams up. Media pounces

Hi Blog. Here we go. Now the Western media has their peg to unzip the Abe Adminstration’s overt right-wing historical revisionist bent. Newsweek did a puff piece on Abe’s wife (comparing her to Jackie O) not too long ago, sigh. Now Abe undoes her image control with these revelations. NYT and Time Magazine articles (with updates from CBS News, showing Abe suddenly backpedalling, plus Kyodo and NYT again, plus links to US Congressional hearings by Mike Honda and actual victims on this issue) follow.

A quick note beforehand: Remember that Abe tried this on NHK in 2001 before he was PM, forcing NHK to re-edit a historical piece involving the Comfort Women some years ago. Sources:

—————————————-
NHK stung by censorship suit appeal
Court links politics with deletion of Hirohito verdict in sex-slave program

The Tokyo High Court on Monday… ordered NHK and two production companies to pay damages to a women’s rights group for altering the content of a documentary on a mock tribunal over Japan’s wartime sexual slavery… The suit has been closely watched because the NGO claimed NHK censored or otherwise altered part of the 2001 program after being pressured by heavyweights in the Liberal Democratic Party, including Shinzo Abe, who is now prime minister, and Shoichi Nakagawa.
—————————————-
(Japan Times Jan 30, 2006)
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070130a1.html

—————————————-
The political pressure put, in 2001, on NHK, the national broadcaster, by the current prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to excise portions of a program that would imply imperial responsibility for war crimes. Add to this the government ordering NHK in 2006 to broadcast information about the North Korean abductions in the service of the country.
—————————————-
(Japan Times Jan 7, 2006)
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070107rp.html

That event was basically ignored by the foreign media, sadly. Not this time.

(And yes, given that these “Comfort Women” (ianfu), better known as sexual slaves, were almost all foreign, this is definitely germane to the focus of this blog.) Debito in Youga, Tokyo

TIME MAGAZINE ARTICLE
/////////////////////////////////////////////

Japan PM Denies WWII Sex Slavery
By AP/HIROKO TABUCHI
Time Magazine Thursday, Mar. 01, 2007

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1595375,00.html

TOKYO—Yasuji Kaneko, 87, still remembers the screams of the countless women he raped in China as a soldier in the Japanese imperial army in World War II. Some were teenagers from Korea serving as sex slaves in military-run brothels. Others were women in villages he and his comrades pillaged in eastern China.

“They cried out, but it didn’t matter to us whether the women lived or died,” Kaneko said in an interview with The Associated Press at his Tokyo home. “We were the emperor’s soldiers. Whether in military brothels or in the villages, we raped without reluctance.”

Historians say some 200,000 women—mostly from Korea and China—served in the Japanese military brothels throughout Asia in the 1930s and 1940s. Many victims say they were kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops, and the top government spokesman acknowledged the wrongdoing in 1993.

Now some in Japan’s government are questioning whether the apology was needed.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday denied women were forced into military brothels across Asia, boosting renewed efforts by right-wing politicians to push for an official revision of the apology.

“The fact is, there is no evidence to prove there was coercion,” Abe said.

Abe’s remarks contradicted evidence in Japanese documents unearthed in 1992 that historians said showed military authorities had a direct role in working with contractors to forcibly procure women for the brothels.

The comments were certain to rile South Korea and China, which accuse Tokyo of failing to fully atone for wartime atrocities. Abe’s government has been recently working to repair relations with Seoul and Beijing.

The statement came just hours after South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun marked a national holiday honoring the anniversary of a 1919 uprising against Japanese colonial rule by urging Tokyo to come clean about its past.

Roh also referred to hearings held by the U.S. House of Representatives last month on a resolution urging Japan to “apologize for and acknowledge” the imperial army’s use of sex slaves during the war.

“The testimony reiterated a message that no matter how hard the Japanese try to cover the whole sky with their hand, there is no way that the international community would condone the atrocities committed during Japanese colonial rule,” Roh said.

Dozens of people rallied outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to mark the anniversary, lining up dead dogs’ heads on the ground with pieces of paper in their mouths listing names of Koreans who allegedly collaborated with the Japanese during its 1910-45 colonial rule. Protest organizers said the animals were slaughtered at a restaurant; dogs are regularly consumed as food in Korea.

Roh’s office said late Thursday it did not immediately have a direct response to the Japanese leader’s remarks. In Beijing, calls to the Chinese Foreign Ministry seeking comment on the remarks were not immediately returned.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack would not comment on Abe’s statement. “I’ll let the Japanese political system deal with that,” he said.

Abe’s comments were a reversal from the government’s previous stance. In 1993, then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono apologized to the victims of sex slavery, though the statement did not meet demands by former “comfort women” that it be approved by parliament.

Two years later, the government set up a compensation fund for victims, but it was based on private donations—not government money—and has been criticized as a way for the government to avoid owning up to the abuse. The mandate is to expire March 31.

The sex slave question has been a cause celebre for nationalist politicians and scholars in Japan who claim the women were professional prostitutes and were not coerced into servitude by the military.

Before Abe spoke Thursday, a group of ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers discussed their plans for a proposal to urge the government to water down parts of the 1993 apology and deny direct military involvement.

Nariaki Nakayama, chairman of the group of about 120 lawmakers, sought to play down the government’s involvement in the brothels by saying it was similar to a school that hires a company to run its cafeteria.

“Some say it is useful to compare the brothels to college cafeterias run by private companies, who recruit their own staff, procure foodstuffs, and set prices,” he said.

“Where there’s demand, businesses crop up … but to say women were forced by the Japanese military into service is off the mark,” he said. “This issue must be reconsidered, based on truth … for the sake of Japanese honor.”

Sex slave victims, however, say they still suffer wounds—physical and psychological—from the war.

Lee Yong-soo, 78, a South Korean who was interviewed during a recent trip to Tokyo, said she was 14 when Japanese soldiers took her from her home in 1944 to work as a sex slave in Taiwan.

“The Japanese government must not run from its responsibilities,” said Lee, who has long campaigned for Japanese compensation. “I want them to apologize. To admit that they took me away, when I was a little girl, to be a sex slave. To admit that history.”

“I was so young. I did not understand what had happened to me,” she said. “My cries then still ring in my years. Even now, I can’t sleep.”

AP writer Burt Herman contributed to this report from Seoul, South Korea.

TIME MAGAZINE ARTICLE ENDS
/////////////////////////////////////////////

NYT ARTICLE
/////////////////////////////////////////////

Abe Rejects Japan’s Files on War Sex
By NORIMITSU ONISHI
NEW YORK TIMES: March 2, 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/02/world/asia/02japan.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

TOKYO, March 1 — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied Thursday that
Japan’s military had forced foreign women into sexual slavery during
World War II, contradicting the Japanese government’s longtime
official position.

Mr. Abe’s statement was the clearest so far that the government was
preparing to reject a 1993 government statement that acknowledged the
military’s role in setting up brothels and forcing, either directly or
indirectly, women into sexual slavery. That declaration also offered
an apology to the women, euphemistically called “comfort women.”

“There is no evidence to prove there was coercion, nothing to support
it,” Mr. Abe told reporters. “So, in respect to this declaration, you
have to keep in mind that things have changed greatly.”

The United States House of Representatives has begun debating a
resolution that would call on Tokyo to “apologize for and acknowledge”
the military’s role in wartime sex slavery.

But at the same time, in keeping with a recent trend to revise Japan’s
wartime history, a group of conservatives in the governing Liberal
Democratic Party is stepping up calls to rescind the 1993 declaration.
Mr. Abe, whose approval ratings have been plummeting over a series of
scandals and perceived weak leadership, seemed to side with this
group. A nationalist who has led efforts to revise wartime history,
Mr. Abe softened his tone after becoming prime minister last fall. In
fact, he first said he recognized the validity of the declaration,
angering his conservative base.

“Some say it is useful to compare the brothels to college cafeterias
run by private companies, who recruit their own staff, procure
foodstuffs and set prices,” Nariaki Nakayama, the leader of 120
lawmakers who want to revise the declaration, said Thursday.

“Where there’s demand, business crops up,” Mr. Nakayama said,
according to The Associated Press. “But to say women were forced by
the Japanese military into service is off the mark. This issue must be
reconsidered, based on truth, for the sake of Japanese honor.”

Historians believe some 200,000 women — Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese,
Filipinos, as well as Japanese, Dutch and other European women —
served in Japanese military brothels. For decades, Japan denied that
its military had been involved, calling the brothels private
enterprises and the women prostitutes.

But in 1992, a Japanese historian, Yoshiaki Yoshimi, outraged by
government denials, went to the Self-Defense Agency’s library and
unearthed, after two days of searching, documents revealing military
involvement in establishing brothels. One was titled “Regarding the
Recruitment of Women for Military Brothels.” Faced with this evidence,
the government acknowledged its role and issued the declaration.

But the response angered people across the political spectrum. The
women and their supporters said that the government was not fully
acknowledging its responsibility because the declaration was issued by
Yohei Kono, then chief cabinet secretary, and not adopted by
Parliament. It is known inside Japan simply as the “Kono Statement.”

What is more, supporters accused the government of evading direct
responsibility by establishing a private, nongovernment fund to
compensate the women. Many former sex slaves have refused to accept
compensation from this fund.

But conservatives said the declaration went too far in acknowledging
the military’s role in recruiting the women. While the documents
showed that the military established the facilities, Mr. Yoshimi did
not find documentation that the military had forcibly recruited the
women. Conservatives have seized on this distinction to attack the
declaration.

Supporters of the women say that the Japanese authorities famously
burned incriminating documents or kept them hidden.

At the same time, many former sex slaves have stepped forward in
recent years with their stories. Three testified in the United States
Congress recently, saying that Japanese soldiers had kidnapped them
and forced them to have sex with dozens of soldiers a day.

NYT ARTICLE ENDS
/////////////////////////////////////////////

UPDATE MARCH 4 2007
CBS NEWS ARTICLE–ABE BACKPEDALS
MIKE HONDA ET AL MAKE APPEALS TO US CONGRESS

COMMENT: Abe has apparently decided not to work to repeal Kouno’s apology (the “Kono Statement”) made back in 1993 after all.

Japan PM to Stand by Sex Slaves Apology
Japan PM will stand by apology over forcing Asian women to have sex with troops
CBS NEWS March 5, 2007 12:12am

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/03/04/ap/world/mainD8NL5RN80.shtml

(AP) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will stand by Japan’s apology over forcing Asian women to have sex with Japanese troops in the last century, an aide said Sunday, after the leader’s denial that Tokyo used coercion caused an international uproar.

“Though there are many definitions of coercion, Prime Minister Abe has said … that he will stand by the Kono statement,” said Hiroshige Seko, special adviser in charge of Abe’s public relations, referring to a 1993 statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono apologizing to the victims of sex slavery.

The Kono statement also acknowledged many women were forced into prostitution and that the military government was involved in some cases.

“He has not denied the statement,” Seko told a TV Asahi talk show. He did not attempt to explain the apparent discrepancies between the statement and Abe’s denial that coercion was involved.

“The fact is, there is no evidence to prove there was coercion,” Abe said on Thursday.

South Korea later lodged an official protest, accusing the leader of “glossing over the historical truth.” Rights activists in the Philippines also slammed Abe for labeling the slaves as common prostitutes.

Historians say that about 200,000 women _ mostly from Korea and China _ served in Japanese military brothels throughout Asia in the 1930s and 1940s. Accounts of abuse by the military have been backed up by witnesses, and even former Japanese soldiers.

Abe’s statement contradicted evidence in Japanese documents, unearthed in 1992, that historians said showed that military authorities had a direct role in working with contractors to forcibly procure women for the brothels.

But prominent Japanese scholars and politicians routinely deny direct military involvement or the use of force in rounding up the women, blaming private contractors for the abuses.
CBS NEWS ARTICLE ENDS
////////////////////////////////////////////

Statement of
The Honorable Michael M. Honda
Member of Congress

Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment
Committee on Foreign Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives

Hearing on
Protecting the Human Rights of “Comfort Women”
Thursday, February 15, 2007

EXCERPT
=================================
Now, nearly nine years after the passage of AJR27, I stand united with several of my colleagues in the House, from both parties, in support of H.Res.121 and the surviving Comfort Women who are here with us today. The urgency is upon this Committee and the Congress to take quick action on this resolution. These women are aging and their numbers dwindling with each passing day. If we do not act now, we will lose a historic opportunity to encourage the Government of Japan to properly acknowledge responsibility for the plight of the Comfort Women.

Elected officials of Japan have taken steps to address this issue, and for that they are to be commended. In 1993, Japan’s then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono issued an encouraging statement regarding Comfort Women, which expressed the Government’s sincere apologies and remorse for their ordeal. Additionally, Japan attempted to provide monetary compensation to surviving comfort women through the Asia Women’s Fund, a government initiated and largely government-funded private foundation whose purpose was the carrying out of programs and projects with the aim of atonement for the Comfort Women. The Asia Women’s Fund is to be disbanded on March 31, 2007.

Recent attempts, however, by some senior members of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party to review and even possibly retract Secretary Kono’s statement are disheartening and mark Japan’s equivocation on this issue. Additionally, while I appreciate Japan’s creation of the Asia Women’s Fund and the past prime minister’s apologies to some comfort women, which accompanied this Fund’s disbursal of monetary compensation from this fund, the reality is that without a sincere and unequivocal apology from the government of Japan, the majority of surviving Comfort Women refused to accept these funds. In fact, as you will hear today, many Comfort Women returned the Prime Minister’s letter of apology accompanying the monetary compensation saying they felt the apology was artificial and disingenuous.
================================
REST AT http://www.internationalrelations.house.gov/110/hon021507.htm

More Congressional Record on this, courtesy of Matt Dioguardi’s Blog:
http://japan.shadowofiris.com/wwii/abe-says-comfort-woman-not-coerced/
ENDS

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

UPDATE MARCH 7, 2007

More replies. Making a bigger hash of things as they go along… Now it’s time to blame the media for miscommunication….? Debito

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

Japan tries to calm outrage on sex slave issue, says
no new apology
TOKYO, March 7 KYODO

Courtesy of Club of 99

Japan’s top government spokesman on Wednesday
reiterated that there will be no new apology regarding
wartime sex slaves in response to a resolution pending
in the U.S. Congress and that discussions on the
”comfort women” issue should not continue any
further in an ”unconstructive” manner.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who sparked an
international outcry recently by saying there was no
proof that the Japanese military had coerced women
into sexual servitude during World War II, said,
”What we say in parliament on this issue is not
always conveyed (by the media) accurately. It
magnifies and spreads, and foreign countries react to
that.”

”The longer we continue this discussion, the
more misunderstanding there is going to be,” Shiozaki
told a morning news conference. ”I think it better
not to go on with this kind of discussion in a rather
unconstructive manner.”

Shiozaki again stressed that the government
continues to uphold a 1993 statement that acknowledged
and apologized for the forced recruitment of so-called
”comfort women.”

In an interview with Japanese media, Abe
reiterated that he stands by the statement and added,
”The U.S. resolution is based on a mistake of fact.
It contains the misunderstanding that there was
coercion, as in abductions carried out by the
(Japanese) authorities. There was no such thing and I
was just stating the fact that there have been no
documents or witnesses of proof.”

”The U.S. Congress bill is not based on
objective facts and does not take into consideration
the (Japanese) government’s handling of the issue so
far,” spokesman Shiozaki said. ”Therefore, no new
apology will be made in response to such a resolution
should it be passed.”

Shiozaki insisted that Abe’s recent remarks did
not contradict the so-called Kono statement, which was
issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in
1993 and represents the government’s official stance.

The statement acknowledges that women from the
Korean Peninsula, which Japan had annexed at the time,
and other places, were in many cases ”recruited
against their own will, through coaxing, coercion, et
cetera, and that at times, administrative/military
personnel directly took part in the recruitment.”

Abe, however, reignited decades-old anger,
especially in Asian countries that suffered under
Japanese wartime aggression, when he said last
Thursday that there was no evidence that the military
was directly involved in forced recruitment.

This week, Abe further explained that there was
coercion ”in the broad sense” of the word, referring
to private traders who recruited the women, but
insisted that there was no coercion ”in the strict
sense,” as in military personnel taking women from
their homes and putting them in brothels.

The more Abe and his spokesman Shiozaki try to
explain the premier’s hair-splitting over the broad
and strict definitions of ”coercion,” the deeper it
seems they find themselves bogged in a quagmire.

Cornered by reporters’ questions at an afternoon
news conference, Shiozaki effectively retracted his
remarks in the morning that the Kono statement
stipulates ”both the strict and broad sense” of
coercion.

”As the prime minister has said many times in
parliament, it was possible (the victims) felt
pressure in the broad sense,” he said. ”Issues in
the narrow sense were by no means written in the Kono
statement.”

The hawkish premier, who declared immediately
after taking office last September that his
administration will stand by the Kono statement, was
once part of a group of lawmakers opposed to the 1993
document.

Some historians estimate that up to 200,000 women
from the Korean Peninsula, China, Taiwan, the
Philippines, Indonesia and elsewhere were forced into
sexual servitude by the Japanese military before and
during World War II.

Although Abe said there is no evidence to prove
there was physical coercion by the Japanese military,
some surviving former ”comfort women” and even
former Japanese soldiers have testified that girls and
women were abducted.

Earlier on Wednesday, Abe praised the work of a
semiofficial relief organization for former World War
II sex slaves and said it ”conveyed (to the world)
the feelings of Japan and the Japanese people.”

The premier also told reporters the government
does not plan to get involved in setting up any
organizations to carry on the activities of the Asian
Women’s Fund after it is disbanded at the end of this
month.

The fund, launched in 1995, disbursed a total of
1.7 billion yen to support foreign women who were
forced into sexual servitude by the Imperial Japanese
Army during wartime. It has been criticized as being
an attempt by the government to avoid responsibility
for state redress.
==Kyodo
ENDS
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Denial Reopens Wounds of Japan’s Ex-Sex Slaves
N Y Times March 8, 2007
By NORIMITSU ONISHI

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/08/world/asia/08japan.html?hp=&pagewanted=print

SYDNEY, Australia, March 7 — Wu Hsiu-mei said she was 23 and working as a maid in a hotel in 1940 when her Taiwanese boss handed her over to Japanese officers. She and some 15 other women were sent to Guangdong Province in southern China to become sex slaves.

Inside a hotel there was a so-called comfort station, managed by a Taiwanese but serving only the Japanese military, Ms. Wu said. Forced to have sex with more than 20 Japanese a day for almost a year, she said, she had multiple abortions and became sterile.

The long festering issue of Japan’s war-era sex slaves gained new prominence last week when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied the military’s role in coercing the women into servitude. The denial by Mr. Abe, Japan’s first prime minister born after the war, drew official protests from China, Taiwan, South Korea and the Philippines, some of the countries from which the sex slaves were taken.

The furor highlighted yet again Japan’s unresolved history in a region where it has been ceding influence to China. The controversy has also drawn in the United States, which has strongly resisted entering the history disputes that have roiled East Asia in recent years.

Ms. Wu told her story on Wednesday outside the Japanese Consulate here, where she and two others who had been sex slaves, known euphemistically as comfort women, were protesting Tokyo’s refusal to admit responsibility for the abuse that historians say they and as many as 200,000 other women suffered.

All three — Ms. Wu, who is now 90; a 78-year-old South Korean from Seoul; and an 84-year-old Dutch-Australian from Adelaide — were participating in an international conference for Japan’s former sex slaves here. Now, just days after Mr. Abe’s remarks, the three were united in their fury.

“I was taken away by force by Japanese officers, and a Japanese military doctor forced me to undress to examine me before I was taken away,” said Ms. Wu, who landed here in Sydney on Tuesday night after a daylong flight from Taipei. “How can Abe lie to the world like that?”

Mr. Abe, a nationalist who had built his career partly on playing down Japan’s wartime past, made his comments in response to a confluence of events, beginning with the Democratic victory in the American Congressional elections last fall. That gave impetus to a proposed nonbinding resolution in the House that would call on Japan to unequivocally acknowledge and apologize for its brutal mistreatment of the women.

Even as Mr. Abe’s closest allies pressed him to soften a 1993 government statement that acknowledged the military’s role in forcing the women into sexual slavery, three former victims testified in Congress last month.

On Monday, Mr. Abe said he would preserve the 1993 statement but denied its central admission of the military’s role, saying there had been no “coercion, like the authorities breaking into houses and kidnapping” women.

He said private dealers had coerced the women, adding that the House resolution was “not based on objective facts” and that Japan would not apologize even if it was passed.

The resolution calls for Japan to “formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young women into sexual slavery.”

“Prime Minister Abe is in effect saying that the women are lying,” Representative Mike Honda, the California Democrat who is spearheading the legislation, said in a telephone interview. “I find it hard to believe that he is correct given the evidence uncovered by Japanese historians and the testimony of the comfort women.”

Japanese historians, using the diaries and testimony of military officials as well as official documents from the United States and other countries, have been able to show that the military was directly or indirectly involved in coercing, deceiving, luring and sometimes kidnapping young women throughout Japan’s Asian colonies and occupied territories.

They estimate that up to 200,000 women served in comfort stations that were often an intrinsic part of military operations.

Yet although Mr. Abe admitted coercion by private dealers, some of his closest allies in the governing Liberal Democratic Party have dismissed the women as prostitutes who volunteered to work in the comfort stations. They say no official Japanese government documents show the military’s role in recruiting the women.

According to historians, the military established the stations to boost morale among its troops, but also to prevent rapes of local women and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among soldiers.

Japan’s deep fear of rampaging soldiers also led it to establish brothels with Japanese prostitutes across Japan for American soldiers during the first months of the postwar occupation, a fact that complicates American involvement in the current debate.

In 1995 a private fund was set up to compensate the women, but many refused to accept any money because they saw the measure as a way for the government to avoid taking direct responsibility. Only 285 women have accepted money from the fund, which will be terminated at the end of this month.

The most direct testimony of the military’s role has come from the women themselves.

“An apology is the most important thing we want — an apology that comes from the government, not only a personal one — because this would give us back our dignity,” said Jan Ruff O’Herne, 84, who testified to a Congressional panel last month.

Ms. Ruff was living with her family in Java, in what was then the Dutch East Indies, when Japan invaded in 1942. She spent the first two years in a prison camp, she said, but Japanese officers arrived one day in 1944. They forced single girls and women to line up and eventually picked 10 of them, including Ms. Ruff, who was 21.

“On the first night, it was a high-ranking officer,” Ms. Ruff said. “It was so well organized. A military doctor came to our house regularly to examine us against venereal diseases, and I tell you, before I was examined the doctor raped me first. That’s how well organized it was.”

In Japan’s colonies, historians say, the military worked closely with, or sometimes completely relied on, local people to obtain women.

In Pyongyang, now the capital of North Korea, Gil Won-ok said, she lined up outside a Japanese military base to look for work in her early teens. A Korean man, she said, approached her with the promise of factory work, but she eventually found herself in a comfort station in northeast China.

After she caught syphilis and developed tumors, Ms. Gil said, a Japanese military doctor removed her uterus.

“I’ve felt dead inside since I was 15,” said Ms. Gil, who was 16 when the war ended.

Like many comfort women, Ms. Gil was unable to bear children and never married, though she did adopt a son. She now lives in a home with three other former comfort women in Seoul.

Ms. Wu married twice, each time hiding her background. Somehow the husbands found out, and the marriages ended unhappily. Her adopted daughter is now angry with Ms. Wu for having spoken in public about her past, she said.

As for Ms. Ruff, she returned to the prison camp in Java after her release from the comfort station. Her parents swore her to silence. A Roman Catholic priest told Ms. Ruff, who had thought of becoming a nun: “My dear child, under these circumstances it is wise that you do not become a nun.”

It was at the camp that she met her future husband, Tom Ruff, one of the British soldiers who had been deployed to guard the camp after Japan’s defeat. She told him her story once before they were married — long before they had two daughters and migrated to Australia.

“But I needed to talk about it,” Ms. Ruff said, sitting at the kitchen table in her daughter Carol’s home here. “I could never talk to my husband about it. I loved Tom and I wanted to marry and I wanted a house. I wanted a family, I wanted children, but I didn’t want sex. He had to be very patient with me. He was a good husband. But because we couldn’t talk about it, it made it all so hard.”

“You could talk to Dad about it,” said her daughter Carol, 55.

“No, this is what I keep saying,” Ms. Ruff said. “I just told him the story once. It was never talked about again. For that generation the story was too big. My mum couldn’t cope with it. My dad couldn’t cope with it. Tom couldn’t cope with it. They just shut it up. But nowadays you’ll get counseling immediately.”

“It’s a wonderful thing,” Carol said.

“You don’t know how hard it was to carry this enormous burden inside you, that you would like to scream out to the world and yet you cannot,” Ms. Ruff said. “But I remember telling Carol, ‘One day I’m going to tell my story, and people will be interested.’ ”
ENDS

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

…The beat goes on… With the government saying one thing in the morning and another thing in the afternoon. Keep buffeting them, media! Debito

JAPAN TIMES Friday, March 9, 2007
Abe endorses LDP probe into wartime sex slaves
By REIJI YOSHIDA and HIROKO NAKATA Staff writers

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070309a1.html

The government will provide documents to aid a new investigation by the Liberal Democratic Party into Japan’s wartime sexual slavery, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday.

The move comes after Abe’s denial last week that the Japanese military coerced the “comfort women,” as Japan euphemistically called them, sparked a storm of criticism.

Earlier in the day, an LDP lawmaker quoted Abe as saying the government would open a new investigation into the issue. The remark was made at a meeting of LDP lawmakers who adopted a resolution claiming that neither the wartime government nor the Imperial Japanese Army was responsible for “forcibly bringing” women to frontline brothels in the 1930s and ’40s. Abe was previously a director general of the LDP group.

But when asked if the government plans to take another look at the issue, Abe said: “I heard the party is going to study and investigate the issue. As for the government, we will cooperate in providing documents as requested by the party.”

Abe repeated that his government will continue to stand by the 1993 statement made by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono that admitted and apologized for the military’s involvement in forcing women into frontline brothels.

Abe declined comment on what kind of documentation or evidence the government would submit. “I don’t know about details yet,” he said.

In the resolution adopted Thursday, the LDP lawmakers’ association claimed its investigation showed that, despite the 1993 government statement, only private agencies forced women to work at the “comfort stations.”

The group admitted in a written statement that private-sector agencies did kidnap some women and forced them to work at their brothels, but it denied the government and army’s involvement in the process of “forcibly bringing” women to the military brothels.

Abe last week claimed there was no evidence that the army coerced women into sexual slavery, which drew fire from across Asia and provoked U.S. lawmakers to demand Japan’s apology on the issue.

The association, headed by former education minister Nariaki Nakayama, consists of 130 lawmakers, or nearly one-third of the 417 LDP lawmakers in both chambers of the Diet. The group handed the resolution to Abe Thursday afternoon.

Abe was once the director general of the association, which has long campaigned to push the education ministry to remove descriptions of “comfort women” from public high school history text books.

After becoming prime minister in September, Abe slightly changed his position and has repeatedly said he accepts the 1993 government statement as the official view.

The 1993 Kono statement was issued after the government examined historic government documents and interviewed 16 women who claimed they were forced into sexual slavery.

The government did not find documents that directly proved the involvement of the government or army, but in combination with the interviews and circumstantial evidence from state documents, Kono admitted the official involvement and extended a formal apology.

A number of wartime government documents have been discovered to suggest the Japanese army did order the creation of military brothels for soldiers, played a role in managing the brothels, and even transported women to those brothels in China and other parts of Asia.

But the association claimed the Japanese authorities did not forcibly take those women to the military brothels, most of which were run by private-sector agencies for the sake of the army.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////

Now Abe plays the blame game, blames media for misconstruing him, and clams up…

Abe won’t explain sex slave remarks, accuses media of being inaccurate
Japan Today/Kyodo News Friday, March 9, 2007 at 19:41 EST

http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/400829

TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday declined to give further explanation of his recent remarks on wartime sex slavery, saying such discussion would be ‘unproductive” and accusing the media of being “inaccurate.”

“At this very sensitive time when it is difficult to have my remarks conveyed correctly, I believe discussion here will only become extremely unproductive,” said Abe, referring to criticism at home and abroad since he denied last week evidence of physical coercion by Japanese military in forcing women into sexual servitude.

“Last time I answered questions on this issue, my remarks were not conveyed or reported accurately, so I believe it to be the right political judgment not to spread this any further,” Abe told reporters at his office when asked if he intends to provide an easier-to-understand explanation.

The premier, a conservative hawk who seeks a bigger global role for Japanese troops and aims to revise the war-renouncing Constitution, has repeatedly said his government will stand by a 1993 statement that acknowledged and apologized for the military’s involvement in the forced recruitment of the so-called “comfort women.”

But Abe sparked an outcry when he said there was no proof of physical coercion by the military, namely soldiers kidnapping women and putting them in brothels.

The New York Times issued an editorial on Tuesday harshly criticizing Japan’s “efforts to contort the truth” and published a front-page article on the experiences of survivors in its Thursday edition.

Former comfort women, as the victims are euphemistically referred to in Japan, and even former Japanese soldiers, have testified that girls and women were coerced by the military. (Kyodo News)
ENDS

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

THAT NYT EDITORIAL:

No Comfort
THE NEW YORK TIMES Editorial March 6, 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/06/opinion/06tues3.html

What part of “Japanese Army sex slaves” does Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, have so much trouble understanding and apologizing for?

The underlying facts have long been beyond serious dispute. During World War II, Japan’s Army set up sites where women rounded up from Japanese colonies like Korea were expected to deliver sexual services to Japan’s soldiers.

These were not commercial brothels. Force, explicit and implicit, was used in recruiting these women. What went on in them was serial rape, not prostitution. The Japanese Army’s involvement is documented in the government’s own defense files. A senior Tokyo official more or less apologized for this horrific crime in 1993. The unofficial fund set up to compensate victims is set to close down this month.

And Mr. Abe wants the issue to end there. Last week, he claimed that there was no evidence that the victims had been coerced. Yesterday, he grudgingly acknowledged the 1993 quasi apology, but only as part of a pre-emptive declaration that his government would reject the call, now pending in the United States Congress, for an official apology. America isn’t the only country interested in seeing Japan belatedly accept full responsibility. Korea and China are also infuriated by years of Japanese equivocations over the issue.

Mr. Abe seems less concerned with repairing Japan’s sullied international reputation than with appealing to a large right-wing faction within his Liberal Democratic Party that insists that the whole shameful episode was a case of healthy private enterprise. One ruling party lawmaker, in his misplaced zeal to exculpate the Army, even suggested the offensive analogy of a college that outsourced its cafeteria to a private firm.

Japan is only dishonored by such efforts to contort the truth.

The 1993 statement needs to be expanded upon, not whittled down. Parliament should issue a frank apology and provide generous official compensation to the surviving victims. It is time for Japan’s politicians — starting with Mr. Abe — to recognize that the first step toward overcoming a shameful past is acknowledging it.

ENDS

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THE KOUNO STATEMENT ON THE COMFORT WOMEN ISSUE (August 4, 1993), FOR THE RECORD

Following is the text of the statement in English translation from the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Web site.
http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/women/fund/state9308.html

Original Japanese (included below) at
http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/area/taisen/kono.html

“The Government of Japan has been conducting a study on the issue of wartime “comfort women” since December 1991. I wish to announce the findings as a result of that study.

“As a result of the study which indicates that comfort stations were operated in extensive areas for long periods, it is apparent that there existed a great number of comfort women. Comfort stations were operated in response to the request of the military authorities of the day. The then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women. The recruitment of the comfort women was conducted mainly by private recruiters who acted in response to the request of the military. The government study has revealed that in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing coercion etc., and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments. They lived in misery at comfort stations under a coercive atmosphere.

“As to the origin of those comfort women who were transferred to the war areas, excluding those from Japan, those from the Korean Peninsula accounted for a large part. The Korean Peninsula was under Japanese rule in those days, and their recruitment, transfer, control, etc. were conducted generally against their will, through coaxing, coercion etc.

“Undeniably, this was an act, with the involvement of the military authorities of the day, that severely injured the honor and dignity of many women. The Government of Japan would like to take this opportunity once again to extend its sincere apologies and remorse to all those, irrespective of place of origin, who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.

“It is incumbent upon us, the Government of Japan, to continue to consider seriously, while listening to the views of learned circles, how best we can express this sentiment.

“We shall face squarely the historical facts as described above instead of evading them, and take them to heart as lessons of history. We hereby reiterated our firm determination never to repeat the same mistake by forever engraving such issues in our memories through the study and teaching of history.

“As actions have been brought to court in Japan and interests have been shown in this issue outside Japan, the Government of Japan shall continue to pay full attention to this matter, including private research related thereto.”
ENDS

Original Japanese, for the record:

慰安婦関係調査結果発表に関する
河野内閣官房長官談話
平成5年8月4日

 いわゆる従軍慰安婦問題については、政府は、一昨年12月より、調査を進めて来たが、今般その結果がまとまったので発表することとした。
 今次調査の結果、長期に、かつ広範な地域にわたって慰安所が設置され、数多くの慰安婦が存在したことが認められた。慰安所は、当時の軍当局の要請により設営されたものであり、慰安所の設置、管理及び慰安婦の移送については、旧日本軍が直接あるいは間接にこれに関与した。慰安婦の募集については、軍の要請を受けた業者が主としてこれに当たったが、その場合も、甘言、強圧による等、本人たちの意思に反して集められた事例が数多くあり、更に、官憲等が直接これに加担したこともあったことが明らかになった。また、慰安所における生活は、強制的な状況の下での痛ましいものであった。
 なお、戦地に移送された慰安婦の出身地については、日本を別とすれば、朝鮮半島が大きな比重を占めていたが、当時の朝鮮半島は我が国の統治下にあり、その募集、移送、管理等も、甘言、強圧による等、総じて本人たちの意思に反して行われた。
 いずれにしても、本件は、当時の軍の関与の下に、多数の女性の名誉と尊厳を深く傷つけた問題である。政府は、この機会に、改めて、その出身地のいかんを問わず、いわゆる従軍慰安婦として数多の苦痛を経験され、心身にわたり癒しがたい傷を負われたすべての方々に対し心からお詫びと反省の気持ちを申し上げる。また、そのような気持ちを我が国としてどのように表すかということについては、有識者のご意見なども徴しつつ、今後とも真剣に検討すべきものと考える。
 われわれはこのような歴史の真実を回避することなく、むしろこれを歴史の教訓として直視していきたい。われわれは、歴史研究、歴史教育を通じて、このような問題を永く記憶にとどめ、同じ過ちを決して繰り返さないという固い決意を改めて表明する。
 なお、本問題については、本邦において訴訟が提起されており、また、国際的にも関心が寄せられており、政府としても、今後とも、民間の研究を含め、十分に関心を払って参りたい。
ENDS

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Now fellow LDP legislators are going to the US to fight Abe’s battles… Article courtesy of the author. Debito

Japanese Prime Minister angers victims of wartime sex slavery
THE INDEPENDENT (London)
By David McNeill in Tokyo
Published: 09 March 2007

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article2341358.ece

Once a week, anger and the call of the past drags Gil Won-ok from her bed in a suburb of Seoul to the Japanese embassy in the South Korean capital. The frail 78-year-old is haunted by memories of what happened to her as a teenage girl when she was raped daily by Japanese soldiers in a Second World War “comfort station”. “I was in so much pain. Sometimes I didn’t know if I was going to live or die.”

For 15 years, the Korean “comfort women” have stood outside this embassy to demand recognition from the Japanese government. Now, instead of an apology, they have heard another official denial. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said last week there was “no evidence” to prove the women were coerced. The statement has enraged the women. “They can’t make this go away by lying about it,” Gil Won-ok said.

Yesterday Mr Abe said the government stood by a 1993 admission that Japan had forced women into sexual slavery. But he also suggested that it would “reinvestigate” the comfort-women issue, a demand from about 120 politicians on the right of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) who demand the admission be reversed.

Elderly women across Asia tell stories similar to the treatment of the Seoul pensioner. In the Chinese province of Shanxi, Guo Xi-cui was just 15 when she held in a comfort station for 40 days. She said Japanese soldiers stood watching as “two or three men” held her legs. “They spread them until I was injured and then they raped me,” she said. “When they sent me home I was not able to sit properly.”

Jan Ruff-O’Herne, an Adelaide grandmother, and her friends were taken from a Japanese concentration camp in Java to a comfort station. “We were given flower names and they were pinned to our doors,” she told Australian television. Then aged 21 and planning to become a nun, Ms O’Herne was raped by an officer.

According to Amnesty International, thousands of women from across Asia – some as young as 12 – were “enslaved against their will and repeatedly raped, tortured and brutalised for months and years” by the Japanese military. Thousands died in painful silence after a lifetime of torment until a group of Korean victims began to speak out in the early 1990s. Ms O’Herne remembers watching the women on television: “I thought, now is my time to speak out.”

But the issue has galvanised the Japanese right, who deny government involvement. “The women were legal prostitutes in brothels,” Nobukatsu Fujioka, a revisionist academic, said. He is one of the leading figures in a movement that aims to overturn much of the accepted wisdom about what took place during Japan’s rampage across Asia in the 1930s and 40s.

Twelve out of 18 members of Japan’s cabinet belong to a political forum that wants to “rethink” history education and backs many of Professor Fujioka’s views. His Society for History Textbook Reform has sold 800,000 copies of a revisionist history book that denies war crimes such as the comfort women and the Rape of Nanjing. Before coming to power, Mr Abe was one of the society’s supporters.

The revisionist denials are refuted by many Japanese historians. “The military decided when, where, and how ‘comfort stations’ were to be established,” Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a professor of history at Tokyo’s Chuo University, said.

Former Japanese soldiers have also testified to their involvement in the wartime rape of Asian women. Hajime Kondo, who was stationed in China from 1940-44, recalled kidnapping a woman in Shanxi Province and taking turns with his comrades in raping her. He said the thought that gang rape was wrong “never occurred” to him until he had his own family.

The deniers, however, have grown stronger since a 1993 statement by chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono that the military was directly involved. That statement has never been accepted by the right. Now, with the prospect of a US Congressional resolution calling on Tokyo to “formally apologise and accept historical responsibility” for the comfort women, a delegation of LDP politicians is to travel to the US to lobby for the resolution to be quashed.

Mr Abe’s supporters say his plummeting approval ratingshave forced him to go for broke. “If he is true to his beliefs and says what he feels, his popularity will rise,” Professor Fujioka said.
ENDS
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Another article of note sent to me as a letter to the blog, talking about how the J media is turning this international issue into a domestic political one: Philip Brasor in the Japan Times March 11, 2007:
http://www.debito.org/?p=255#comment-6794

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LOS ANGELES TIMES EDITORIAL

Japan can’t dodge this shame

‘Comfort women’ were forced to work in brothels during World War II; Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says there’s no proof that ever happened.
By Dinah L. Shelton, professor of law at George Washington University.
LOS ANGELES TIMES EDITORIAL March 6, 2007

IN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES, it is a punishable offense to deny the Holocaust. In contrast, Japanese war crimes have never been fully prosecuted or acknowledged, nor have most victims been afforded redress. Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe exploited this lack of accountability by asserting that there is “no proof” that women were forced into sexual bondage to serve the Japanese military during World War II, in effect labeling as prostitutes or liars all the thousands of victims of this abhorrent practice. After international outrage erupted, Abe stepped back, but by then the survivors had once more been victimized by his denial of an overwhelming historical record.

The prime minister’s revisionist statement contradicts abundant evidence that has come to light despite the government’s efforts to conceal or minimize the mistreatment of thousands of women in about 2,000 wartime brothels run by or with the cooperation of the Japanese military. Although no one knows exactly how many girls and women were conscripted to provide sex to Japanese soldiers, most historians estimate the number at between 100,000 and 200,000. Most were Korean and Chinese, though they also included other Asians and Europeans from Japanese-occupied areas. Many were kidnapped and raped, others were tricked or defrauded; some were sold by their families.

Japanese soldiers have come forward during the last 15 years to admit to forcibly taking girls and women on orders of the military. In 1992, documents found in the archives of Japan’s Defense Ministry indicated that the military was directly involved in running the brothels. The Japanese government formally apologized to the women in 1993. Since then, Japan’s official position has been one of admitting moral but not legal responsibility. A private fund was set up to compensate the former “comfort women,” and two Japanese prime ministers wrote formal letters of apology to women who received the payments. Some victims claimed that this ambiguity was unacceptable and refused to accept compensation.

The Japanese government claims that even if the women were held involuntarily, there was no law against it at the time; alternatively, if coerced sexual relations were illegal, the laws did not apply in militarily-occupied territories. A third prong of the Japanese defense is that any misconduct that did occur was settled by the peace treaties at the end of the war. Human rights activists in Japan and abroad have sought to prove this wrong, but so far they have been unable to secure redress for “comfort women” who have come forward in recent years.

In 2000, the Tokyo District Court dismissed a case brought by 46 former sex slaves from the Philippines who accused Japan of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The court wrongly decided that “crimes against humanity” were not part of international law at the time. In 2001, a reparations claim by South Korean women who had been held as sex slaves failed in the Hiroshima High Court on the similarly erroneous grounds that coerced sex wasn’t illegal at the time.

However, there is a strong case to be made that the Japanese government does owe the women damages. Rape and kidnapping were crimes in Japanese law at the time and should have led to prosecutions of soldiers committing them. Moreover, despite the ruling in Tokyo District Court, the notion of crimes against humanity goes back to 1904, and such crimes were indicted after World War I and successfully prosecuted after World War II. On top of that, Japan had joined in four international treaties that barred sexual trafficking in women and forced labor: the International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children (1921), the International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic (1904), the International Convention for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic of 1910 and the Agreement on the Abolition of Forced Labor (1930). In 1999, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions invoked these treaties and requested the International Labor Organization to rule that the women held by Japan in official brothels constituted forced laborers. The ILO Committee of Experts upheld the claim, despite Japanese contentions that the agreements did not apply to “colonial territories” such as occupied Korea. But the ILO had no power to order relief.

The Japanese government cannot be sued outside Japan because it has immunity from prosecution as a foreign state. Attempts by surviving women to sue in U.S. courts were dismissed on these grounds. Even if the victims were to surmount this “sovereign immunity” defense, they might run into problems with the peace treaties that ended World War II. For example, the 1951 U.S.-Japan peace treaty “recognized that the resources of Japan are not presently sufficient, if it is to maintain a viable economy, to make complete reparation” for damage and suffering. Japan has argued that this provision and others in peace treaties with some of its Asian neighbors and European powers closed the door on reparations claims by former prisoners of war, “comfort women” and other victims of Japanese atrocities and that nothing is owed anyone today. However, several provisions in the peace treaties suggest that reopening the issue of reparations might be possible, and advocates should look carefully at the texts. Still, it seems no court is likely to cure the injustice; Japan has a moral and legal obligation to do so.

*

UNREDRESSED GRIEVANCES have a habit of resurfacing, and sometimes burst forth in uncontrollable conflict, as in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Already, Japan is facing increasing demands from several countries, including China, South Korea and the Philippines, that it more directly acknowledge its wartime misconduct and compensate its victims. Japan’s long-term interests in peaceful relations with its neighbors, not to mention its moral standing in the world, call for it to do so.

The problem that Japan — and its neighbors — have today stems from the lack of an equivalent of the Nuremberg trials to establish a complete and irrefutable record of the war crimes in Asia. Moreover, the Japanese government burned many of its own records, and others fell into private hands. This historical vacuum provides the opening for statements like Abe’s that there is “no proof” that women were coerced into sexual bondage. Those who oppose the International Criminal Court should be mindful of this pitfall. Meanwhile, Japan owes far more than an apology to the comfort women. Redress is legally and morally required.

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

RESPONSE TO THE LA TIMES EDITORIAL
FROM THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT

Japan has atoned for transgressions
LA Times Letter to the Editor March 11, 2007
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/letters/la-le-sunday11.4mar11,1,5857043.story?ctrack=1&cset=true
Re “The shame Japan can’t dodge,” Opinion, March 6

Let me set the record straight.

In 1993, the government of Japan acknowledged the involvement of former Japanese military authorities in the “comfort women” issue and expressed apologies and remorse to those who endured immeasurable pain and incurable wounds.

In 1995, the Asian Women’s Fund, which extended payments to women as a form of atonement and implemented medical and welfare projects, was established with the cooperation of the government and the Japanese people.

Since then, payments have been accompanied by letters from prime ministers saying: “We must not evade the weight of the past, nor should we evade our responsibilities for the future. I believe that our country, painfully aware of its moral responsibilities, with feelings of apology and remorse, should face up squarely to its past history and accurately convey it to future generations.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that there has been no change in the position of the government of Japan.

KAZUO KODAMA
Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles

(thanks to NHK 7PM news March 12, 2007, for notifying me)
ENDS
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ECONOMIST (LONDON) EDITORIAL

No comfort for Abe
Mar 8th 2007
From The Economist print edition
Japan’s prime minister picks a shameful fight over the organised rape of thousands of women
http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_RRTVDVS

SIX months ago Japan, whose leaders have often been dull political ciphers, celebrated an unaccustomed transition: the handover of power from a confident, reforming prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, to an assertive, seemingly capable successor, Shinzo Abe. Mr Koizumi had pulled the economy out of its slump, and built up respect abroad. Japan may have failed last year to win the permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council that it covets, but its diplomats, aid workers and (in modest but useful numbers) its soldiers, sailors and airmen are now ever more routinely deployed—and appreciated—in troublespots and disaster zones from Asia and Africa to the Middle East. Mr Abe has talked about his fellow citizens taking new pride in their “beautiful country”.

So they should. But sadly for those who expected better from Mr Abe, he seems to think he can build pride in the future on untruths about Japan’s past.

Mr Abe started promisingly enough. By adopting a more subtle approach towards China and South Korea he undid much of the damage Mr Koizumi had caused by his stubborn visits to the Yasukuni shrine honouring Japan’s war dead (where the souls of some convicted war criminals have also been “enshrined” at the request of their families). Then last week he squandered all the goodwill. Planting his own feet in the mire of imperial Japan’s wartime history, he questioned whether the 200,000 or so “comfort women” (from Korea, the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Burma and elsewhere) herded into the system of brothels run by the Japanese Imperial Army had really been coerced into their sexual servitude. Strictly speaking, Mr Abe said, there was no evidence of that.

Is he deaf? The first-hand evidence has mounted since some of the women courageously started breaking their silence, after decades of shame, in the early 1990s. More testified recently at hearings in America’s House of Representatives, where efforts are under way to pass a resolution calling on Japan to make a full apology, and where some of the victims explained, painfully, just how wartime sex slavery was for them. There would be more evidence too, if successive Japanese governments had not buried it in closed files or destroyed it.

Why pick this shameful fight? Other blunders have left Mr Abe dependent on his party’s noisy ultra-conservatives (see article). Resentful even of Japan’s past carefully parsed apologies for its wartime aggression, a group is now campaigning to overturn a 1993 statement by a cabinet official, noticeably unsupported by the parliament of the day, that for the first time accepted the army’s role in setting up the brothels.

The past is your country too

What the brothel survivors want is that full apology from Japan; they refuse to be fobbed off with offers of money instead from a private fund. By questioning their testimony—in effect, calling them liars—Mr Abe has instead added modern insult to past injury. But the damage goes wider. It revives distrust among Japan’s neighbours. And it belittles the efforts of those admirable Japanese working alongside others in the world’s dangerous places to help rebuild communities where people have sometimes suffered the same wartime traumas as the “comfort women”—victims of organised rape, in any other language than prime-ministerial Japanese.

Japan is not unique in its reluctance to confront a grim past. Though China lambasted Mr Abe for his statement, its Communist Party has never accepted responsibility for the 30m deaths from Mao’s self-inflicted famines of the 1950s, for example. But six decades on, deliberate amnesia is unworthy of modern, democratic Japan. Shame on you, Mr Abe.
ENDS

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

Here’s a pretty much perfect article on the “Comfort Women” Issue at Japan Focus, which ties everything we need for this debate together: The USG and GOJ’s reaction to the issue, the UN’s reports, the background of the primary agents in the process of denial, and all contextualized within a comparison of Nazi Germany’s and Imperial Japan’s wartime behavior and postwar followup. Well done that researcher! Debito in Sapporo

Japan’s “Comfort Women”: It’s time for the truth (in the ordinary, everyday sense of the word)
By Tessa Morris-Suzuki
(Professor of Japanese History and Convenor of the Division of Pacific and Asian History in the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University)
Japan Focus Article 780
http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2373
Some select quotes:

=================================
Reading these remarks [from Abe and Aso regarding “coercion” and “facts”], I found myself imagining the international reaction to a German government which proposed that it had no historical responsibility for Nazi forced labour, on the grounds that this had not been “forcible in the narrow sense of the word”. I also found myself in particular imagining how the world might react if one of the German ministers most actively engaged in this denial happened (for example) to be called Krupp, and to be a direct descendant of the industrial dynasty of that name….
=================================

=================================
Many people were involved in the recruitment of “comfort women” – not only soldiers but also members of the Korean colonial police (working, of course, under Japanese command) and civilian brokers, who frequently used techniques of deception identical to those used by human traffickers today. Forced labour for mines and factories was recruited with the same mixture of outright violence, threats and false promises…

To summarise, then, not all “comfort women” were rounded up at gunpoint, but some were. Some were paid for “services”, though many were not. Not all “comfort stations” were directly managed by the military. None of this, however, negates the fact that large numbers of women were violently forced, coerced or tricked into situations in which they suffered horrible sexual violence whose consequences affected their entire lives. I doubt if many of those who, “suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds” have spent a great deal of time worrying whether these wounds were the result of coercion in the “broad” or the “narrow” sense of the word.

And none of this makes the Japanese system any different from the Nazi forced labour system…
=================================

=================================
In 1996, a Special Rapporteur appointed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights issued a detailed report on the “comfort women” issue. Its conclusions are unequivocal:

“The Special Rapporteur is absolutely convinced that most of the women kept at the comfort stations were taken against their will, that the Japanese Imperial Army initiated, regulated and controlled the vast network of comfort stations, and that the Government of Japan is responsible for the comfort stations. In addition, the Government of Japan should be prepared to assume responsibility for what this implies under international law”. [11]
=================================

=================================
This denial [from members of the LDP] goes hand-in-hand with an insistence that those demanding justice for the “comfort women” are just a bunch of biased and ill-informed “Japan-bashers”. An article by journalist Komori Yoshihisa in the conservative Sankei newspaper, for example, reports that the US Congress resolution is “based on a complaint which presumes that all the comfort women were directly conscripted by the Japanese army, and that the statements by Kono and Murayama were not clear apologies.” [15]

Komori does not appear to have read the resolution with much attention…
=================================

=================================
What purpose do Abe’s and Aso’s denials serve? Certainly not the purpose of helping defeat the US Congressional resolution. Their statements have in fact seriously embarrassed those US Congress members who are opposed to the resolution. [18] The main strategy of these US opponents of Resolution 121 was the argument that Japanese government had already apologized adequately for the sufferings of the “comfort women”, and that there was no need to take the matter further. By their retreat from remorse, Abe and Aso have succeeded in neatly cutting the ground from beneath the feet of their closest US allies.
=================================
ENDS

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UPDATE MARCH 19, 2007

Abe’s ‘comfort women’ remarks: What was he thinking?

ASIAN OUTLOOK
Ralph A. Cossa and Brad Glosserman
Star-Journal (Honolulu, Hawaii) March 18, 2007
http://starbulletin.com/2007/03/18/editorial/special.html

WHAT WAS he thinking? That is the question most Japan-watchers grappled with following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s fumbled questions about the imperial Japanese government’s role in recruiting “comfort women” during World War II. His responses came close to undoing the progress he had made in restoring relations with China and South Korea and threatened to drive a wedge between Tokyo and Washington.

The controversy began March 1 when Abe was asked about a Liberal Democratic Party group that wanted the government to revisit the 1993 statement by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono. Kono acknowledged that the “Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women” and that “in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing coercion , etc., and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments.”

Conservatives object to two related points: the role played by the military and the degree to which it actually “coerced” women. Abe said that the meaning of coercion was unclear and the accuracy of the statement depended on how the word was defined. (Ignored was his comment that either way, his government stood behind the 1993 statement.)

The readiness to challenge the conclusion that the government had “coerced” the women unleashed a firestorm of controversy, not least because the U.S. House of Representatives — during hearings on a resolution that called on Japan to apologize for its actions — had days before heard testimony from former comfort women that seemed to confirm the charge. Abe’s response sparked fierce condemnation from leading U.S. and foreign newspapers and seriously undercut those arguing against the resolution.

Why did Abe fan the flames, especially when it threatened to undercut diplomacy that promised “a new start” for Japanese foreign policy and had offered such promise for the new administration?

First, it should be noted that Abe wasn’t volunteering for controversy; he was responding to questions triggered by the actions of others (the LDP group and the U.S. hearings). This does not excuse or fully explain the response, however.

One explanation is that Abe, like many other conservatives, genuinely believes that the Kono statement was wrong. They challenge the factual basis for the conclusion that the government was involved in coercion. This argument rests on the definition of the word “coercion,” a legal distinction that is jarring given the long-standing insistence that Japan is not a “legalistic culture” and operates according to more flexible principles. It also attempts to trump a moral argument with a legal one. Whether the army actually coerced the women or left that job to independent contractors (as one legalistic argument asserts), there is little doubt that women were forced into servitude at the army’s behest.

This argument also rests on a sense of nationalism. Many conservatives still chafe at the judgment of the Tokyo Tribunals. The Kono statement implies that Japanese behavior was somehow different from that of other countries and Tokyo must apologize for things that other governments have not.

Underlying that conclusion — and obliging Abe to defend it — is domestic politics. The prime minister believes that Japan should be a more assertive country, one that is judged by its record of the last 60 years rather than for the sins of its forefathers. His domestic political base agrees, and they both resent being told what to do by any country.

Ironically, many in the United States and Asia agree that it is time to stop dwelling on the past, that today’s Japan should be judged by its postwar history. Unfortunately, Abe’s comments — like his predecessor Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine — make it impossible for even Japan’s supporters to move past the history debate.

The phenomenon drives home the rising significance of domestic politics in Northeast Asia and the transition that all countries are experiencing as the international environment evolves and a new generation comes to power. While the U.S.-Japan relationship has been strengthened in recent years, both countries must still be acutely sensitive to developments in the other and ready to challenge assumptions about how the relationship works.

FOR EXAMPLE, the presumption that a House of Representatives judgment on Japanese history would be above challenge is plainly wrong. Gaiatsu (outside pressure) no longer works, even when it comes from Tokyo’s closest ally.

Yet the Japanese assumption that the alliance would counterbalance domestic politics in the United States is equally mistaken. The usual group of alliance handlers didn’t — or couldn’t — quash this tempest.

Abe is not the first politician to put the need to appeal to his domestic base above his country’s international image or long-term national interest, but it could not come at a worse time. As the first Japanese prime minister to be born after the war, Abe had an opportunity to pursue a forward-looking agenda. Instead, he and his more conservative colleagues have forced us once again to dwell on the past. Does this really serve Abe’s — or Japan’s — interest?

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

Ralph A. Cossa and Brad Glosserman are president and executive director, respectively, of the Pacific Forum CSIS (pacforum@hawaii.rr.com), a Honolulu-based nonprofit research institute affiliated with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, and senior editors of Comparative Connections, a quarterly electronic journal.

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAR 3, 2007

Hi Blog. Arudou Debito here writing you from CW Nicol’s place in Kurohime, Nagano (a fellow naturalized Japanese, he’s the author of the Old Nic’s Notebook column in the Japan Times). A lot has happened this past week, so I’m here taking a little breather–to spend the day writing up what went on. Structure of this post as follows:

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1) LINKS TO RECENT SPEECHES AND HANDOUTS
along with FCCJ SPEECH WITH UN RAPPORTEUR DOUDOU DIENE TRANSCRIPT
2) BUTTER AND METABOLIC SYNDROME: IBUKI AND PM ABE DISS HUMAN RIGHTS
along with DIENE’S COUNTERCOMMENT: SCOOP FOR JAPAN TIMES
3) WHAT OTHER SOCIETIES DO ABOUT DISCRIMINATION: JAPAN, TAKE NOTE
4) JAPAN TIMES ON MYTH OF JAPAN’S CRIME WAVE. HOW THE POLICE AND MEDIA ABET
5) ASAHI: TOKYO JH SCHOOL REFUSES CHILD ADMISSION FOR BEING FOREIGN
and finally…
6) ASAHI: NEED TO BROADEN DEFINITION OF “JAPANESE”

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By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org)
Updates in real time and archives of previous newsletters at
http://www.debito.org/index.php
March 3, 2007, Freely Forwardable

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1) LINKS TO RECENT SPEECHES AND HANDOUTS

I’ve been on the road recently for more than a week now, and it’s been a real trip. Between Monday and Weds this week I was averaging two speeches per day, over half with their own customized powerpoint presentations (adding visuals to speeches is very effective, but it doubles the workload, since I always try to prepare a take-home handout as well). Exhausting, but very satisfying once all is done. Here are some links to what I said and when:

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL ON 2-CHANNEL AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH
Led a discussion on Feb 27 regarding issues of freedom of speech in the face of 1) Internet libel on 2-Channel BBS (http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html), and 2) hate speech through the GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine. They are two separate issues, especially since the former targets a specific individual (me) with lies provably false in court, while the latter targets a whole social subgroup with facts presented sensationally, maliciously, and with the clear intent to defame and spread hatred and fear. See my handout at:
http://www.debito.org/amnesty2chhandout022707.doc

ROPPONGI BAR (as in lawyer) ASSOCIATION ON NJ RESIDENTS AND THE JAPANESE LEGAL SYSTEM
Gave on Feb 28 what I consider to be one of my top ten speeches ever (a blogger at the event was surprised I could hold the attention of a full house of gaiben lawyers, legal counselors, and various members of the legal community for a full hour and a half; so am I). I made the case that there is a serious problem with how Japan treats, ignores, and generally refuses to help non-Japanese residents enjoy the constitutional protections of this society. And that they as scholars of the law should do their best to help them get along–within the limitations of their profession, of course (foreign lawyers who have not passed the J Bar are not permitted to advise on Japanese law).

See my handout at
http://www.debito.org/rbahandout022807.doc
And see the powerpoint presentation at
http://www.debito.org/roppongibarassoc022807.ppt

Let’s hope it made an impression. But most importantly:

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1a) FCCJ SPEECH WITH UN RAPPORTEUR DOUDOU DIENE TRANSCRIPT

On Feb 26, I had the distinct honor of being placed side-by-side speaking with one of my personal heroes, the UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene, for a Luncheon-cum-Press Conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. On his third fact-finding trip to Japan (see Diene’s previous trips at http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html), he made some assessments on the state of racism in Japan. One friend transcribed the entire press conference (another took a photo), available at
http://www.debito.org/?p=238

A select quote from Dr Diene:
=============== DIENE QUOTE BEGINS ===================
This point leads me to Japan. As you know, my report was submitted to the Human Rights Council and to the UN General Assembly last November. Three points on this report. One, I think there were many interesting developments after my report. The issue of racism is now a key issue here in Japan. It has been for a while. But my report has contributed in a way to help the issue be discussed. Second, my report had a very important consequence, which I’ve been advocating in all countries I visited. This is the mobilization of civil society and human rights organizations on the issue of racism. Japan has been advancing the issue, I must say. Japan’s civil society has organized around my report and created a network of minority communities and human rights organizations, and are acting by helping victims of discrimination, publishing reports, and drawing the attention of the media.

For me, this is central. Combating racism is not the exclusive domain of government. Civil society has to be involved and a key actor. This is happening now in Japan. The last consequence of last November’s report on Japan is that the way my report was received by the Japanese government. As you know, the initial reaction was very negative. Indeed, the Foreign Ministry told me they were not happy.

One key point the Japanese government made to the Human Rights Council in Geneva was to say that I had gone beyond my mandate in touching upon the role of history in racism. I put it as one sample point. Racism does not come from the cosmos. Racism is a historical construction. You can retrace how racism was born and developed, and how it manifests itself. This means that history is a sin for which communities have been demonized and discriminated.
=============== DIENE QUOTE ENDS ====================

You can download my FCCJ powerpoint presentation at
http://www.debito.org/fccj022607.ppt

as well as my handout to Dr Diene and the press corps:
http://www.debito.org/dienefccjhandout022607.doc

But not everyone in Japan seems to hold human rights in terribly high regard. In fact, one of our government’s cabinet members recently stated that it is unhealthy for a society (moreover insinuated it is something foreign in nature):

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2) BUTTER AND METABOLIC SYNDROME: IBUKI AND PM ABE DISS HUMAN RIGHTS

I’m used to economists talking about the classic trade-off between “guns and butter”. But this is the first time I’ve ever heard a politician compare human rights with a Diet plan. Ingest this recipe for disaster from our Education Minister, Ibuki Bunmei:

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“If you eat only butter every day, you develop metabolic syndrome. If Japanese overindulge themselves on human rights, the nation will develop what I’d call “human rights metabolic syndrome.'”

“Any society that goes hog-wild for rights and freedoms is bound to fail eventually. For every right, there is obligation.”

“Japan has been historically governed by the Yamato (Japanese) race. Japan is an extremely homogenous country… In its long, multifaceted history, Japan has been governed by the Japanese all the way.”

[That is, except for the Postwar Occupation, but I guess that doesn’t count, or rather counts as an inconvenient truth to be ignored.]
==================================
Original and more of the same in Japanese at
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20070226-00000022-mai-pol

The Daily Telegraph got right on top of it with a good summary of the context:

=========== ARTICLE BEGINS =======================
Minister’s human rights rant shocks Japan
By Colin Joyce in Tokyo Daily Telegraph 27/02/2007

Japan’s education minister has stunned the country with a gaffe-strewn speech in which he claimed that too much emphasis has been put on human rights.

Bunmei Ibuki, 69, also said that Western-style individualism is damaging Japan, while he praised Japan’s racial homogeneity and appeared to denigrate minorities.

Japanese newspapers reported yesterday that Mr Ibuki, a veteran politician who worked at the Japanese embassy in London for four years in the 1960s, implied in his speech in Nagasaki that problems with Japan’s education policy stemmed from the fact that it was imposed by the US occupation authorities after the Second World War.

“Japan has stressed the individual point of view too much,” he said. He also argued that a society gorged on human rights was like a person with an obesity-related illness…

The speech raises questions about Tokyo’s commitment to concepts such as human rights and democracy, which Japanese commentators note were brought to Japan by defeat in the war rather than created independently by domestic reforms.

It is unclear whether Mr Ibuki’s choice of the word butter” was intentional or unfortunate, but it echoes an old disparaging Japanese expression for Western ideas: “stinking of butter”. [bataa kusai] The term came about because Westerners traditionally had a far higher dairy content in their diet than Japanese and hence were thought to smell of butter.
=========== ARTICLE ENDS =======================
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=240

When asked of this, Prime Minister Abe compounded things thusly (remember, Abe is the guy who several years ago forced NHK to reedit a documentary including the Comfort Women Issue):

=========== ARTICLE BEGINS =======================
Abe fine with “homogeneous” remark
The Japan Times Feb 27, 2007
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070227a9.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=240

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday downplayed criticism of remarks by his education minister the day before and said there was nothing wrong with Bunmei Ibuki calling Japan an “extremely homogenous” country.

“I think he was referring to the fact that we (the Japanese public) have gotten along with each other fairly well so far,” Abe said. “I don’t see any specific problem with that.”
=========== ARTICLE ENDS =======================

Several friends and media have levelled excellent criticisms:

======== COMMENT FROM KIRK MASDEN =================
I don’t know if Abe will be made to regret it but he should be. Abe’s defense strikes me as more problematic than the original gaffe. Abe is equating homogeneity with getting along well. By this logic, diversity (more foreigners in Japan, etc) leads to acrimony. It also implies that whatever peace and good human relations have characterized Japan thus far have been in spite of minorities such as Ainu, Okinawans, Koreans, etc. This is a very problematic way for Japan’s leader to defend a remark.
======== COMMENT FROM KIRK ENDS =================

======== JAPAN TIMES EDITORIAL EXCERPT MARCH 1 ================
Mr. Ibuki’s comment is ideological. It is known that Japan’s ancient culture, the foundation of Japan’s present culture, was an amalgamation of various roots. No one single race formed Japanese culture. Referring to Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone’s remark in 1986 that Japan is a nation with a “homogeneous race,” Mr. Ibuki said, “I did not say homogeneous race.”

[NB: Uh, how else is one to interpret the use of “yamato mizoku” in this context, then?]

Even so, his mentioning the homogeneous character of Japan shows he does not altogether accept Japanese society as a composite also of Korean, Chinese and other foreign residents as well as Japanese nationals who do not identify themselves as members of the Yamato race — Ainu people, for example.
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20070301a1.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=240
======== JAPAN TIMES EDITORIAL ENDS =================

======== ASAHI SHINBUN EDITORIAL EXCERPT FEB 28 ================
The very fact that Ibuki coined the expression “human rights metabolic syndrome” revealed his insensitivity to human rights issues. Is there truly a glut of human rights in Japan today?

In the education world in which Ibuki has the top administrative responsibilities, suicides among bullied children continue because they are unable to cope with the torment. Elderly people are increasingly becoming victims of abuse. There are also endless cases of domestic violence and threats from spouses. Foreigners and people with disabilities continue to face discrimination. Last week, a Kagoshima District Court ruling condemned the persistent police practice of using heavy-handed interrogation tactics to force “confessions” out of crime suspects and making up investigation reports.

The situation in Japan is alarming not because of human rights excesses, but rather because there are too many human rights issues that are being ignored by our society.
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200702280167.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=240
======== ASAHI EDITORIAL ENDS ===============================

======== COMMENT FROM MATT DIOGUARDI =================
The idea that there is some kind of trade off between rights and a “good” society is completely misconstrued. A good society is one where people have rights and those rights are protected, period. If we allow that rights can be curbed at the needs of *society* we introduce a random variable that can be interpreted however one wants to interpret it. We *all* have different views on what a *good* society would be. This is why we have democracy.

Moreover, Ibuki doesn’t seem to grasp that freedom in a political sense *only* means freedom from (physical) coercion. The government cannot grant freedom in any other sense of the word. We accept that the government will have to use a limited amount of (physical) coercion to carry out its job, this is why we recognized the fundamental danger inherent in governmental power. Shall we allow more government physical coercion in in order to support the Yamato minzoku? This is absurd. And its coming from the minister of education!

The primary function of government is not to create a utopian society, be it the Yamato minzoku, or some extreme form of Islam or Christianity. The *fundamental* function of government is to *protect* our rights. Through the exercise of those rights, we might be able to help society, physical coercion should not shape those decisions.

I’ll note that at least one politician has a nice comeback to Ibuki. Kiyomi Tsujimoto stated:

“From an international perspective Japan does not have enough of a human rights sense of consciousness. I’d say as far as human rights go, rather than having a human rights Metabolic Syndrome, we’re in fact undernourished.”
======== COMMENT FROM MATT ENDS ====================

I was in meetings and giving speeches at the time, but once I got to the IMADR offices (http://www.imadr.org) (more from them below), I was put to work immediately digging up these comments from the Internet to present to Dr Diene, who was waiting to give a speech. Then I put Diene on the phone to the Japan Times for a great scoop:

======== JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS ==============
U.N. special rapporteur challenges Ibuki’s “homogenous” claim
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070228a5.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=239

The U.N. special rapporteur on racism countered Education Minister Bunmei Ibuki’s claim over the weekend that Japan is a homogenous country.

“There is no such thing as pure blooded or a pure race. Where do the Ainu fit in to Japanese society? Or the Chinese and Koreans?” Doudou Diene, the United Nations special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia, said Tuesday in a telephone interview with The Japan Times.

“I am absolutely shocked at his remark. Here is the education minister, the person who in charge of educating Japan’s children about their history, saying something that is so outdated.”…

The special rapporteur said Japanese, South Korean, and Chinese history scholars should work together through the United Nations to resolve historical issues. By doing this, he said, not only historical tensions but also the deeper racism in East Asia that has led to those tensions can be addressed in an atmosphere free from domestic politics.

Diene said Ibuki’s remarks and Abe’s comments about them will likely be included in the new report he will submit to the U.N. later this year.
======== JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE ENDS ===================

Now, let’s deal with the alleged butterglut of human rights in Japan:

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3) WHAT OTHER SOCIETIES DO ABOUT DISCRIMINATION: JAPAN, TAKE NOTE

While I am not saying that Japan should carbon-copy what other societies do (although Japan certainly has done an admirable job in the past), universal human rights are something which Japan must learn to respect and enforce. Especially since it promised to do so when signing several international treaties.

However, I am slowly building a case that Japan has a dearth, not a glut, of human rights protections. Witness the following:

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A TEMPLATE FOR DEALING WITH HATE SPEECH:

The first case study (thanks to Karen for notifying me) is about hate speech in the US, where somebody recently wrote an essay for a prominent media outlet on why he hates black people.

http://www.debito.org/?p=242

Look at how other media and the anti-defamation leagues (not to mention national politicians) in US civil society immediately pounced on it.

You don’t see that happening often enough in Japan. And when human rights groups and activists like us do react (often successfully), we get accused of “Western moralizing” or “Do-Gooderism” (hi Uncle Gregory, http://www.debito.org/gregoryclarkfabricates.html), cultural imperialism, or worst of all censorship or denial of freedom of speech.

Pundits in the US have long progressed beyond that. They don’t necessarily arrest the perpetrator, but in this case, the media and spokespeople came through to debate him down.

Contrast that with Japan. In a recent case — the GAIJIN HANZAI magazine (http://www.debito.org/?cat=27) — the Japanese press just about completely ignored it. And it was up to us domestic bloggers and activists to tell the distributors to disavow.

Which they did, eventually. But it wouldn’t have happened otherwise, because civil society is not sufficiently developed here (moreover is suppressed and stymied by “press club” media cartels, even more so than in the US) to set things right and make the debate arena a fair fight.

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A TEMPLATE FOR DEALING WITH DISCRIMINATORY CUSTOMER TREATMENT:

Overseas, human rights protection organs at the local level investigate and make the issue public.

http://www.debito.org/?p=244

In this case, the New York City Human Rights Commission was notified that a Chinese restaurant was offering two separate menus, where the same items were cheaper for readers of Chinese only.

This made the front page of the NY Daily Post, with a photo of the restaurant and the facts of case in splash headlines.

Again, contrast with Japan, where the similar human rights organ, the Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougo bu) is all but utterly ineffectual. Sources:

Japan Times July 8, 2003 Community Page column:
http://www.debito.org/japantimes070803.html
http://www.debito.org/policeapology.html

Moreover, the press in Japan, if they even reported on it, would probably not even bother to mention the name of the restaurant, in the name of “protecting the business’s privacy”. (For example, in a recent case, the press refused to name ER English School in Kofu, which was hiring people to teach English depending on the color of the applicant’s hair and eyes (http://www.debito.org/?p=220). Not quite the same example of discrimination, but a good example of half-assed press coverage nonetheless.)

Thanks to Dave Spector for passing me this information.

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

Point is, this is what Ibuki (in stark contrast with the condemnation from Nancy Pelosi in the Hate Speech case) would pooh-pooh as “human rights metabolic syndrome”? Phooey. I think it’s time for people to realize that Japan is suffering from too few human rights enforcement mechanisms, not too many. Shouting this stuff down and launching government inquiries is what people should be doing in any society.

Meanwhile, the Japanese police and media work against the butter by making things less amenable for human rights:

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4) JAPAN TIMES ON MYTH OF JAPAN’S CRIME WAVE. AND HOW THE POLICE AND MEDIA ABET

My most recent Japan Times Community Page column (Feb 20, 2007) is available (Director’s Cut, with links to sources) at
http://www.debito.org/japantimes022007.html

Excerpt follows:

================================================
MODERATION IN THE MEDIA

I understand the media doesn’t much like to criticize itself, especially since all outlets have made the occasional gaffe or sensationalized a hot story. But enough already. For the sake of journalistic integrity, it’s time for some acts to be cleaned up.

As the Ellis and Hamai report notes: “[R]ather than the rise in relatively trivial crimes, the press focused on homicide and violent crime, which are the types of stories with high ‘news value’ in Japan…”

Particularly when talking about foreign crime, this “news value” changes with the side of the linguistic fence. For example, the Mainichi Shinbun on February 8 headlined in English: “Number of crimes committed by nonpermanent foreigners declines in Tokyo”.

The same article’s headline in Japanese: “Foreign crime rises in the provinces: Chubu Region up 35-fold in 15 years”. Bipolar reportage. Which is the “news”?

Similarly, Koizumi’s second cabinet launch: On September 22, 2003, the Yomiuri Shinbun printed two different profiles of cabinet members and their policy proposals: Japanese: “Olympic Laureate, National Security Agency Commission Chairman Kiyoko Ono desires policy against foreign crime”.

The English version, which eschewed the headline, buried this in the third paragraph: “At a press conference Monday, Ono said that she would strive to make Japan the world’s safest nation again, by fighting various crimes — particularly those committed by juveniles and foreign residents.”

Even though the original Japanese doesn’t mention “juvenile”, or even “various” crimes. Is this to sweeten the sound of government directives for those being targeted?

Even the abovementioned Etoh Takami comment, about “a million foreign murderers” was lost without translation. The number reported was “lots” (ippai).

What are the incentives for this muzzled watchdogism?…
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Full article at http://www.debito.org/japantimes022007.html

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5) ASAHI: TOKYO JH SCHOOL REFUSES CHILD ADMISSION FOR BEING FOREIGN

Meanwhile, innocents get caught up in the grind of indifferent bureaucrats. I have mentioned previously that foreign children in Japan are dropping out of school early to work in factories (http://www.debito.org/?p=140). Now they are even being refused entry to those schools. This is not the first time I’ve heard of this happening. But it’s the first time I’ve seen it documented by our press.

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POINT OF VIEW/ Daisuke Onuki: Fundamental flaw remains in education law
02/12/2007 SPECIAL TO THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200702120089.html

The people shall all be given equal opportunities of receiving education according to their ability, and they shall not be subject to educational discrimination on account of race, creed, sex, social status, economic position, or family origin. Thus, the Fundamental Law of Education guarantees the equal opportunity of education to all people of Japan.

However, it is necessary to note that the word “people” is the translation of the word “kokumin,” which literally means “nationals.”

Currently, the most important law on education in Japan, as well as the very Constitution, does not guarantee the right to education for children with foreign nationalities.

Our eldest daughter, who has only Brazilian nationality, was once denied entrance to a public junior high school in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, when trying to transfer from a school in Brazil at the age 15 in the ninth grade.

Officials said our daughter was a year older than the proper age for obligatory education. They explained that exceptions cannot be made because the obligatory education system does not apply to a child without Japanese nationality.

Our daughter started primary school at the age of 7 due to her special needs of having to learn both her mother’s and father’s tongues, rather than at 6, which is the usual age for Japanese children. She went to Brazil after attending school for three years in Japan and returned here at the age of 15.

“If the child is a Japanese who had reasons to be enrolled in a grade lower than the appropriate one, obviously he or she needs extra year(s) to finish his or her ‘obligatory education’ and will be granted an exception. However, obligatory education does not apply to you,” they said.

I certainly hope that such an outright denial to school is rare in this country. There are already too many children of foreign nationalities, perhaps numbering in the tens of thousands, who are dropping out or are not attending school.

Legally, the blame for foreign children staying out of school does not fall on any officials or on the parents for that matter. That is because there even does not exist credible statistics concerning the problem.

Both the prime minister and the education minister clarified in the Diet last spring that while the proposed revision of the Fundamental Law of Education does not refer specifically to foreigners, those who wish so will continue to be treated in the same way as Japanese concerning the right to obligatory education.

I understand those words as meaning that when the guardians do not seek education for a child with foreign nationality, it is not the government’s problem and that, when they do seek education for their children, the government will not take the responsibility to treat them according to their special needs.

The Diet approved the revised version of the Fundamental Law of Education on Dec. 15. The use of the word “kokumin” continues in the revised law….

A survey six years ago estimated that 3,000 Brazilian children between 6 and 15 in Japan had never been enrolled in school. More recent estimates indicate that more than 10,000 Brazilian children never entered school or dropped out.

Somewhere between 20 and 40 percent of Brazilian children are currently out of primary education. These figures do not include the 25 percent of children who go to expensive Brazilian schools that are not officially recognized as “schools” by the Japanese government….

================================================
Rest at http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200702120089.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=241

Don’t people realize that this is fast becoming a crisis, as children come of age without an education, of a foreign underclass in Japan’s (and the world’s) workforce? How can a developed country which brought foreigners over here to save their industries possibly wash their hands of the need to see they get an education?

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and finally…

6) ASAHI: NEED TO BROADEN DEFINITION OF “JAPANESE”

Finally, some sense. Excerpting:

================================================
POINT OF VIEW/ Takashi Miyajima: Time to broaden the definition of ‘Japanese’
02/20/2007 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200702200138.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=226

…The foreign nationals of Japanese ancestry who come to Japan through these backdoor channels tend to have children and stay for the long term. Despite being aware of the situation, the government has been making no serious effort to establish a system to accept immigrants under an official national policy. The decision to ignore these immigrants has been made on the grounds that there is no national consensus on becoming a country of immigration. The government’s inaction is now beginning to produce serious consequences.

The most serious problem is that the children of these foreign workers are not receiving a proper education. About 30 to 40 percent of the children of foreign workers of Japanese descent are not attending Japanese schools due to a number of problems but mainly because of the learning difficulties they face. Our survey shows many of these children give up the idea of going on to high school during the second half of their second year in junior high school. Consequently, they begin to feel unsure about their future.

One factor that is often behind this situation is their parents’ vagueness on how long they are going to stay in Japan. But most of the blame rests on the government’s failure to take specific steps to provide detailed assistance for these children — such as reducing the number of students per class and adjusting school curricula to the new international environment.

Accepting a larger number of foreign workers, including unskilled laborers, would be a realistic way to deal with the problem of labor shortage due to the nation’s aging population. Even if they are allowed to work in Japan only for a limited period of time, however, many of them would develop a desire to settle down in this country as they get used to their workplaces here and establish strong ties with the communities.

It would be better if Japan decides to become an immigration society that accepts foreign workers as new members and starts developing necessary systems to deal with this. For instance, the government should consider granting foreign nationals born and raised in Japan the right to obtain Japanese nationality on the grounds of jus soli, the principle that a person’s citizenship is determined by the place of birth rather than by the citizenship of one’s parents…

One inevitable change is broadening of the concept of “Japanese.”

In the United States, there are various hyphenated terms for citizens of foreign origin, such as Italian-Americans or Chinese-Americans. But there are no corresponding terms in Japan. There are a number of criteria that narrow the generally accepted definition of “Japanese,” from the color of hair and eyes to the ability to speak Japanese without accent or with proper use of honorifics.

People who don’t fulfill these criteria are alienated, classified as “foreigners” even if they have Japanese nationality. As a result, they feel a strong sense of discrimination.

Japan should now create a society where people with various cultural backgrounds are accepted as Japanese, called “Chinese-Japanese,” for instance, without any discriminatory connotations and be treated fairly as equal and important members of society.
================================================

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All for today. Would like to take this opportunity to welcome a huge glurt of people to my mailing lists, thanks to the hundreds of meishi I received this trip. Thanks to them and to everyone as always for reading!

Arudou Debito
Kurohime, Nagano-ken
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
NEWSLETTER MARCH 3, 2007 ENDS

What others do re discrimination: stopping hate speech in the US

Hi Blog. I think I should probably start a site which talks about how other societies deal with problems of discrimination. Offer a template for what Japan can similarly do. First a comment, then the case:

The first case (thanks to Karen for notifying me) is about hate speech in the US, where somebody wrote an essay for a prominent media outlet on why he hates black people. Look at how other media and the anti-defamation leagues (not to mention national politicians) immediately pounced on it.

You don’t see that happening often enough in Japan–and when human rights groups and activists like us do react (often successfully), we get accused of “Western moralizing” (a la Gregory Clark), cultural imperialism, or worse of all censorship or denial of freedom of speech.

The US, for one, has long progressed beyond that. They don’t necessarily arrest the perpetrator, but in the following case, the media and pundits came through to debate him down.

In a similar example in Japan, the GAIJIN HANZAI magazine, the Japanese press just about completely ignored it, and it was up to us domestic bloggers and activists to tell the distributors to disavow. Which they did, eventually. But it wouldn’t have happened otherwise, because civil society is not sufficiently developed here (not to mention is suppressed by “press club” media cartels, even more so than in the US) to set things right and make the debate arena a fair fight.

This is what prominent J politicians (even people like Education Minister Ibuki Bunmei–contrast with Nancy Pelosi below) would pooh-pooh as “human rights metabolic syndrome”? Phooey. I think it’s time, given Bunmei’s Butter comments, for people to realize that Japan’s suffering from too few human rights enforcement mechanisms, not too many. This is what people should be doing in any society.

Anyway, the case study follows. Arudou Debito in Kurohime, Nagano

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“WHY I HATE BLACKS”

US SOCIETY SHOUTS DOWN HATE SPEECH

Article follows:

Asian Week Suspends Writer Of Racist Column

POSTED: 12:56 pm PST February 28, 2007

UPDATED: 12:50 pm PST March 1, 2007

Courtesy NBC San Francisco

http://www.nbc11.com/news/11137241/detail.html

SAN FRANCISCO — An editor of a weekly newspaper calling itself “The Voice of Asian America” apologized and suspended a columnist after Asian-American and city leaders condemned an opinion piece titled “Why I Hate Blacks.”

The controversial column by 22-year-old New York based Kenneth Eng appeared in the current edition of Asian Week, which came out Friday.

READ: “Why I Hate Blacks,” by Kenneth Eng

In the piece, which appeared in the Feb. 23 edition, Eng lists reasons why he supports discrimination against blacks — including because “they are the only race that has been enslaved for 300 years.”

Leaders at the Asian American Justice Center, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Coalition for Asian Pacific Americans and other groups are circulating a petition denouncing the column as “irresponsible journalism, blatantly racist, replete with stereotypes, and deeply hurtful to African Americans.”

Ted Fang, AsianWeek’s editor-at-large, called the decision to publish Eng’s piece a “mistake” and held a news conference with NAACP leaders in San Francisco on Wednesday to discuss how the Asian and black communities “can be different and yet get along and work together.”

Fang said he suspended Eng from writing for the paper.

“The newspaper is sorry that this got published, and I am personally sorry that this got published,” Fang told The Associated Press. “The views in that opinion piece do not in any way reflect the views of AsianWeek.”

The paper, with a circulation of 48,505, plans to review its policies to “understand how this happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he added.

Fang’s family publishes AsianWeek, along with a local newspaper called the Independent, and owned the San Francisco Examiner between 2000 and 2004.

The petition being circulated by Asian-American groups calls on AsianWeek to cut ties with Eng, issue an apology, print an editorial refuting the column, and fire or demote the editors who published it.

“It certainly does not speak for the vast majority of Asian Americans,” Stewart Kwoh, who heads the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles, said Tuesday. “This kind of inflammatory (column) really can hurt and damage relations with the broader African-American community.”

Kenneth Eng, who has described himself as an “Asian Supremacist,” has written several columns for AsianWeek since November, including pieces titled “Proof That Whites Inherently Hate Us” and “Why I Hate Asians.”

Eng is in his early 20s and a graduate of New York University, according to a biography on a Web site promoting his science fiction writing.

A telephone listing for Eng could not immediately be located.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said in a statement that the column had “no place in a city that is known around the world for civil rights and equality for all people. I am deeply concerned, both for the opinions expressed in the column and the fact that these opinions were published in a local newspaper.”

Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, one of the city’s top black officials, has co-sponsored a city resolution condemning the article and AsianWeek’s decision to publish it. But she doesn’t believe Eng’s column will hurt relations between blacks and Asians in San Francisco.

“This man clearly is very ignorant of African-American history and his own history, and he’s very angry,” said Maxwell, who represents a district with large black and Asian populations.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also weighed in on the matter.

“AsianWeek’s recent apology is a step in the right direction. Asian Week needs to make clear that despite this setback, it will move forward with policies that have no room for hate speech in its publication,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Full Pelosi Statement

“The hateful views expressed in Kenneth Eng’s column must not be tolerated and AsianWeek’s decision to print them was irresponsible. Eng’s words were not only offensive to African Americans, but to all Americans.

“AsianWeek, a publication known for promoting diversity and civil rights, has now issued an apology and has decided to no longer run material by Mr. Eng. These are steps in the right direction.

“I am proud to represent a city that prides itself on its diversity as its strength. Speech that promotes hate has no place in San Francisco or anywhere in our country. We must continue the fight to end racism and promote social justice for all.”

ENDS

What others do re discrim: unequal customer treatment

Hi Blog. Here’s another section on what other societies do regarding unfair or unequal treatment: The local government’s human rights protection organs investigate and make the issue public.

In this case, the New York City Human Rights Commission was notified that a Chinese restaurant was offering two separate menus, where the same items were cheaper for readers of Chinese only.

This made the front page of the NY Daily Post, with a photo of the restaurant and the facts of case in splash headlines.

Unlike Japan, where the similar human rights organ, the Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougo bu) is all but utterly ineffectual.

Sources:
Japan Times July 8, 2003 Community Page column:
http://www.debito.org/japantimes070803.html
http://www.debito.org/policeapology.html

Not to mention the press in Japan, if they even reported on it, would not even bother to mention the name of the restaurant, in the name of “protecting the business’s privacy”. (For example, in a recent case, the press refused to name ER English School in Kofu, which was hiring people to teach English depending on the color of the applicant’s hair and eyes. Not quite the same example of discrimination, but a good example of press treatment nonetheless.)

Thanks to Dave Spector for passing this information on. Debito in Kurohime, Nagano

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ChineseRestRipOffcov.jpg

ChineseRestRipOffp3.jpg

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger image)

Asahi Column: Tokyo JH school refuses education to NJ child

Hi Blog. What a shock for the parents, not to mention the child who is being refused Secondary Education in Tokyo just because she is foreign. Not to worry, as friend Matt noted elsewhere–I’m sure our Education Minister Mr Ibuki is hard at work on it, given his melting concern with human rights, bullying, etc. Thanks to the Asahi for providing a venue for exposure. Debito in Kurohime, Nagano.

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

POINT OF VIEW/ Daisuke Onuki: Fundamental flaw remains in education law
02/12/2007 SPECIAL TO THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200702120089.html

The people shall all be given equal opportunities of receiving education according to their ability, and they shall not be subject to educational discrimination on account of race, creed, sex, social status, economic position, or family origin. Thus, the Fundamental Law of Education guarantees the equal opportunity of education to all people of Japan.

However, it is necessary to note that the word “people” is the translation of the word “kokumin,” which literally means “nationals.”

Currently, the most important law on education in Japan, as well as the very Constitution, does not guarantee the right to education for children with foreign nationalities.

Our eldest daughter, who has only Brazilian nationality, was once denied entrance to a public junior high school in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, when trying to transfer from a school in Brazil at the age 15 in the ninth grade.

Officials said our daughter was a year older than the proper age for obligatory education. They explained that exceptions cannot be made because the obligatory education system does not apply to a child without Japanese nationality.

Our daughter started primary school at the age of 7 due to her special needs of having to learn both her mother’s and father’s tongues, rather than at 6, which is the usual age for Japanese children. She went to Brazil after attending school for three years in Japan and returned here at the age of 15.

“If the child is a Japanese who had reasons to be enrolled in a grade lower than the appropriate one, obviously he or she needs extra year(s) to finish his or her ‘obligatory education’ and will be granted an exception. However, obligatory education does not apply to you,” they said.

I certainly hope that such an outright denial to school is rare in this country. There are already too many children of foreign nationalities, perhaps numbering in the tens of thousands, who are dropping out or are not attending school.

Legally, the blame for foreign children staying out of school does not fall on any officials or on the parents for that matter. That is because there even does not exist credible statistics concerning the problem.

Both the prime minister and the education minister clarified in the Diet last spring that while the proposed revision of the Fundamental Law of Education does not refer specifically to foreigners, those who wish so will continue to be treated in the same way as Japanese concerning the right to obligatory education.

I understand those words as meaning that when the guardians do not seek education for a child with foreign nationality, it is not the government’s problem and that, when they do seek education for their children, the government will not take the responsibility to treat them according to their special needs.

The Diet approved the revised version of the Fundamental Law of Education on Dec. 15. The use of the word “kokumin” continues in the revised law.

I find it a “fundamental flaw” of the Fundamental Law of Education not to guarantee the right to education of all children residing in Japan.

Issue overshadowed

The Japanese don’t notice the difference unless it is pointed out by those who suffer from it. For myself, I needed a family member without Japanese nationality to notice this flaw.

The problem has not been sufficiently raised by either the conservatives or the liberals. The argument has been overshadowed by the heated debate over the inclusion of “nurturing patriotic attitudes” as a purpose of education in the revised law.

Two years ago, when the population of Japan started to decrease, the number of foreign nationals registered here surpassed 2 million. More than half are so-called newcomers who stay in Japan for the purpose of work. The number of people from Brazil, the country of origin of my wife and daughters, now exceeds 300,000.

They started coming to Japan when the immigration law was revised in 1990 to allow Japanese descendents to visit and live in Japan without restriction in the activities they may engage in. While the government, and society, of Japan are undecided about whether to accept unskilled foreign workers, Brazilians are the ones “experimentally” filling the needs for manpower in all corners of Japan.

Brazilians coming to Japan for work are called “seasonal workers” both in Japan and in Brazil. Quite contrary to the image of the term, and possibly contrary to their original intentions, Brazilian workers often end up staying for 10 or more years in Japan, bringing their families and bearing children here.

Those people are usually called “immigrants” in other countries–a word hardly used here. The immigrant children in Japan, at least those with Brazilian nationality, tend to suffer from difficulties at school.

A survey six years ago estimated that 3,000 Brazilian children between 6 and 15 in Japan had never been enrolled in school. More recent estimates indicate that more than 10,000 Brazilian children never entered school or dropped out.

Somewhere between 20 and 40 percent of Brazilian children are currently out of primary education. These figures do not include the 25 percent of children who go to expensive Brazilian schools that are not officially recognized as “schools” by the Japanese government.

Japan has enough problems with Japanese children dropping out. Official figures show that 3.3 percent of all ninth-grade students refuse to go to school.

Efforts to care for the dropouts and recluses in special programs, or “free schools,” are playing an increasingly important role. Some free schools have become officially recognized as “private schools” and have received government funding since 2005.

However, the 48 Brazilian schools in Japan that are officially recognized by the Brazilian government, and 50 or so that are not recognized, do not receive any private-school funding from the Japanese government.

The situation in which possibly tens of thousands of foreign children are out of school, mostly watching TV at home alone or roaming shopping malls with friends, must be recognized as “child neglect” on the part of society.

Neglecting the child’s right to education is one of the most aggressive threats to the physical, mental and social integrity of the individual. Children with Brazilian nationality have been three to five times more likely to be put in detention centers than the general population over the past six years. This situation has the making of a new form of “ethnic crisis” taking place right in front of our eyes.

In the bicultural family where our children grew up, the refusal to let our eldest daughter attend school was a blow to the effort to “nurture love” of the children for the Japanese culture and country.

I decided not to fight Setagaya Ward, and possibly worsen the situation, and instead chose to live in another city where our child was accepted at school.

How many Brazilian families would know how to handle a similar situation so that their children could continue to study in and to like this country?

A first step

In recent years, many European countries have seen a rise in extreme rightist movements. Our country should not wait for that to happen before taking serious actions.

Guaranteeing foreign children’s right to education in other education-related laws to be revised in the following years will be important steps to take. It has been 16 years since this problem started in Japan’s Brazilian community.

Another year lost in the childhoods of tens of thousands of immigrant children will require an incredible amount of work in the future to undo the damage done to the children, society–and the hopes to build a healthy internationalist Japan.

* * *

The author is an associate professor of international relations at Tokai University and a member of the Alliance for Multiculture Childhood.(IHT/Asahi: February 12,2007)
ENDS

Ibuki & Abe on human rights & butter, plus reactions from media and UN

Hi All. Sorry to be slow on this issue, but for the record, let me blog a few articles and reactions on this issue without much time right now for comment (will include comments from others). Debito in Youga, Tokyo

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Ibuki: Japan ‘extremely homogenous’
The Japan Times Feb 26, 2007

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070226a6.html

NAGASAKI (Kyodo) Education minister Bunmei Ibuki said Sunday that
Japan is an “extremely homogenous” country, a type of comment that in
the past has drawn criticism.

In 1986, Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone described Japan as a
“homogenous race” nation and faced strong criticism, mainly from Ainu
indigenous people.

Speaking at a convention of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s
chapter in Nagasaki Prefecture, Ibuki said, “Japan has been
historically governed by the Yamato (Japanese) race. Japan is an
extremely homogenous country.

“In its long, multifaceted history, Japan has been governed by the
Japanese all the way,” Ibuki said in a 40-minute speech on education
reform. Ibuki is minister of education, culture, sports, science and
technology.
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
ENDS

QUICK COMMENT FROM DEBITO: Just like, “In it’s long, multifaceted history, America has been governed by the Americans all the way.”?

Or how about Japan’s postwar SCAP? Oh, that doesn’t count, I guess. The issue is too silly to dwell upon any further. Let’s get to what makes this more problematic:

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

Abe sees no problem in education minister calling
Japan ‘homogeneous’
TOKYO, Feb. 26 KYODO

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday downplayed
criticisms over his education minister’s remarks a day
earlier and said there was nothing wrong with the
minister calling Japan an ”extremely homogenous”
country.
”I think he was referring to the fact that we
(the Japanese public) have gotten along with each
other fairly well so far,” Abe said when asked to
comment on the remarks by education minister Bummei
Ibuki. ”I don’t see any specific problem with that.”
Abe, who has been hit by a series of gaffes by
members of his Cabinet recently, added, ”Of course
there have been battles in our history, as in the
Sengoku (warring states) era, but it was rare that one
side would completely wipe out their opponents, so I
believe we’ve cooperated well with each other through
history.”
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki, the
top government spokesman, also said he did not find
the remarks ”specifically problematic” but warned
that ”Cabinet ministers must be responsible for their
own words.”
Ibuki said Sunday at a convention of the ruling
Liberal Democratic Party’s chapter in Nagasaki
Prefecture that ”Japan has been historically governed
by the Yamato (Japanese) race. Japan is an extremely
homogenous country.”
Remarks regarding homogeneity have drawn
criticisms in the past, such as in 1986 when then
Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone described Japan as a
nation with a ”homogenous race.” He faced strong
criticism mainly from Ainu indigenous people.
In his 40-minute speech on education reforms,
Ibuki, who is minister of education, culture, sports,
science and technology, also said, ”In its long,
multifaceted history, Japan has been governed by the
Japanese all the way.”
Ibuki also issued a warning about paying too much
respect to human rights, illustrating his remark by
pointing out what happens if one eats too much butter.
”No matter how nutritious it is, if one ate only
butter every single day, one would get metabolic
syndrome,” he said. ”Human rights are important, but
if we respect them too much, Japanese society will end
up having human rights metabolic syndrome.”
==Kyodo

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

Abe fine with ‘homogeneous’ remark
The Japan Times Feb 27, 2007
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070227a9.html

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday downplayed criticism of remarks
by his education minister the day before and said there was nothing
wrong with Bunmei Ibuki calling Japan an “extremely homogenous” country.

“I think he was referring to the fact that we (the Japanese public)
have gotten along with each other fairly well so far,” Abe said. “I
don’t see any specific problem with that.”

Ibuki said Sunday at a convention of the Liberal Democratic Party’s
chapter in Nagasaki Prefecture that “Japan has been historically
governed by the Yamato (Japanese) race. Japan is an extremely
homogenous country.”

Remarks regarding homogeneity have drawn criticism in the past. For
instance, Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone faced a strong backlash,
mainly from Ainu indigenous people, when in 1986 he described Japan
as a nation with a “homogenous race.”
ENDS

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

COMMENTS FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL AND THE UNITED NATIONS (earlier blog post on debito.org):
http://www.debito.org/?p=239

COMMENTS FROM MATT DIOGUARDI:

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

Bunmei Ibuki’s comments were *worse* than I realized. If this isn’t
big news, in my opinion, it *should* be. If I have time I will blog
on this tomorrow. I hope others do as well.

The Japan Times articles did *not* report on other comments that
*did* get reported in the Japanese press. Searching around I did find
that some of these comments got reported in at least one English
newspaper, the Telegraph.

Ibuki makes comments that show on a fundamental basis he
misunderstands constitutional government.

He seems to view rights as entitlements sort of handed out by the
government. However, these rights can be overemphasized and to the
detriment of the minzoku.

Minzoku translates as folk, but it’s code words for *race*, as in
Yamato Minzoku.

Ibuki’s opinion is that rights should not be overemphasized at the
expense of the minzoku. And he explicitly identifies the Yamato Minzoku.

This is the *same* minzoku that so many Japanese lost their lives
over during WWII.

This is sort of like saying, yes, it’s nice to have rights, but don’t
forget that the heart and soul of Japan is the Yamato minzoku, our
homogenous race heritage.

This is really unbelievable and stunning. The fact that Abe does not
see a problem with these comments is also political miscalculation he
hopefully will suffer for.

Ibuki should resign and Abe should profusely apologize.

Because of the importance with which I see this issue, I’m posting
the entire Telegraph article:

==================================
Minister’s human rights rant shocks Japan
By Colin Joyce in Tokyo
Last Updated: 6:39am GMT 27/02/2007

Japan’s education minister has stunned the country with a gaffe-
strewn speech in which he claimed that too much emphasis has been
put on human rights.

Bunmei Ibuki, 69, also said that Western-style individualism is
damaging Japan, while he praised Japan’s racial homogeneity and
appeared to denigrate minorities.

Japanese newspapers reported yesterday that Mr Ibuki, a veteran
politician who worked at the Japanese embassy in London for four
years in the 1960s, implied in his speech in Nagasaki that problems
with Japan’s education policy stemmed from the fact that it was
imposed by the US occupation authorities after the Second World War.

“Japan has stressed the individual point of view too much,” he
said. He also argued that a society gorged on human rights was like
a person with an obesity-related illness.

“If you eat butter everyday you get metabolic syndrome. Human
rights are important but a society that over indulges in them will
get ‘human rights metabolic syndrome’,” he said.

The speech raises questions about Tokyo’s commitment to concepts
such as human rights and democracy, which Japanese commentators
note were brought to Japan by defeat in the war rather than created
independently by domestic reforms.

It is unclear whether Mr Ibuki’s choice of the word “butter” was
intentional or unfortunate, but it echoes an old disparaging
Japanese expression for Western ideas: “stinking of butter”.

The term came about because Westerners traditionally had a far
higher dairy content in their diet than Japanese and hence were
thought to smell of butter.

Link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/02/27/wjapan27.xml

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

Here is a link to his comments in Japanese:
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20070226-00000022-mai-pol

Some of his comments:
1. 人権だけを食べ過ぎれば、日本社会は人権メタボ
リック症候群になる
ningendake wo tabesugireba, nihonshakai wa ninken metaborikku shoukougun
“If we (eat) partake too much of human rights, our society will
degrade as the human body does when it partakes of unhealthy food.”

2. 権利と自由だけを振り回している社会はいずれだ
めになる。これが今回の教育基本法改正の一番のポ
イント
kenri to jiyuu dake wo furimawashite iru shakai wa irzure dame ni
naru. kore ga konnkai no kyouiku kihonn houkaisei no ichiban no pointo
“If we only brandish our desire for freedom and rights, then society
becomes useless. That is the number one point of our educational
reforms.”

The idea that there is some kind of trade off between rights and a
“good” society is completely misconstrued. A good society is one
where people have rights and those rights are protected, period.

If we allow that rights can be curbed at the needs of *society* we
introduce a random variable that can be interpreted however one wants
to interpret it. We *all* have different views on what a *good*
society would be. This is why we have democracy.

Moreover, Ibuki doesn’t seem to grasp that freedom in a political
sense *only* means freedom from (physical) coercion. The government
cannot grant freedom in any other sense of the word. We accept that
the government will have to use a limited amount of (physical)
coercion to carry out its job, this is why we recognized the
fundamental danger inherent in governmental power.

Shall we allow more government physical coercion in in order to
support the Yamato minzoku. This is absurd. And its coming from the
minister of education!

The primary function of government is not to create a utopian
society, be it the Yamato minzoku, or some extreme form of Islam or
Christianity. The *fundamental* function of government is to
*protect* our rights. Through the exercise of those rights, we might
be able to help society, physical coercion should not shape those
decisions.

I’ll note that at least one politician has a nice come back to Ibuki.
Kiyomi Tsujimoto stated:
「日本は人権意識が足りない国だと国際的に見られ
ている。メタボリックどころか栄養不足だ」
nihon wa ninken ishiki ga tarinai kuni da to kokusaiteki ni mirarete
iru. metaborikku dokoro ka eiyou busoku da.

“As from an international perspective Japan does not have enough of a
human rights sense of consciousness, I’d say as far as human rights
rather than having a human rights syndrome, we’re undernourished.”

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20070227-00000046-mai-pol

COMMENTS FROM MATT DIOGUARDI END

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

EDITORIAL
Beating the Yamato drum
The Japan Times March 1, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20070301a1.html

With health minister Hakuo Yanagisawa’s gaffe remark that women are “childbearing machines” still fresh in people’s memory, yet another Cabinet member has put his foot in his mouth. This time, education minister Bunmei Ibuki has voiced objectionable ideas on the general character of the Japanese state and human rights issues.

In his speech about “education resuscitation” in a meeting of a Liberal Democratic Party chapter in Nagasaki Prefecture, Mr. Ibuki said the Yamato race has ruled Japan throughout history and that Japan is an extremely homogeneous country. He also expressed the idea that there should be limits to the enhancement of human rights. Likening human rights to butter, he said, “However nutritious butter is, if one eats only butter every day, one acquires metabolic syndrome. Human rights are important. But if they are respected too much, Japanese society will end up with human rights metabolic syndrome.”

Mr. Ibuki’s comment is ideological. It is known that Japan’s ancient culture, the foundation of Japan’s present culture, was an amalgamation of various roots. No one single race formed Japanese culture. Referring to Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone’s remark in 1986 that Japan is a nation with a “homogeneous race,” Mr. Ibuki said, “I did not say homogeneous race.” Even so, his mentioning the homogeneous character of Japan shows he does not altogether accept Japanese society as a composite also of Korean, Chinese and other foreign residents as well as Japanese nationals who do not identify themselves as members of the Yamato race — Ainu people, for example.

His human rights comment is also troublesome. It is clear that Japan has many human rights problems that must be addressed. Mr. Ibuki should remember that various rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution are the basis of a healthy democracy. Strangely, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe defended Mr. Ibuki, saying his statements are not problematic. Such words will only fuel doubts about Mr. Abe’s integrity as a national leader.
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
ENDS

ASAHI SHINBUN EDITORIAL, ENGLISH FIRST, THEN JAPANESE ORIGINAL

EDITORIAL/ Ibuki in the dark on rights
Asahi Shinbun 02/28/2007
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200702280167.html

Addressing at a convention of the Liberal Democratic Party’s chapter in Nagasaki Prefecture on Sunday, education minister Bunmei Ibuki said: “If you eat only butter every day, you develop metabolic syndrome. If Japanese overindulge themselves on human rights, the nation will develop what I’d call ‘human rights metabolic syndrome.'”

Metabolic syndrome’s telltale symptom is abdominal obesity, which could cause strokes and other diseases. Ibuki used this medical case to voice his view that society will become “diseased” if human rights are overemphasized.

Speaking on the present and future of educational revival, he also asserted: “Any society that goes hog-wild for rights and freedoms is bound to fail eventually. For every right, there is obligation.”

Perhaps Ibuki wanted to point out the mistake of asserting one’s rights without accepting the obligations that go with them.

However, although “rights” and “human rights” can overlap each other in some areas, they are not completely interchangeable concepts.

The very fact that Ibuki coined the expression “human rights metabolic syndrome” revealed his insensitivity to human rights issues. Is there truly a glut of human rights in Japan today?

In the education world in which Ibuki has the top administrative responsibilities, suicides among bullied children continue because they are unable to cope with the torment.

Elderly people are increasingly becoming victims of abuse. There are also endless cases of domestic violence and threats from spouses. Foreigners and people with disabilities continue to face discrimination.

Last week, a Kagoshima District Court ruling condemned the persistent police practice of using heavy-handed interrogation tactics to force “confessions” out of crime suspects and making up investigation reports.

The situation in Japan is alarming not because of human rights excesses, but rather because there are too many human rights issues that are being ignored by our society.

The abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korean agents constituted a grave violation of human rights. Therefore, the Japanese government submitted a United Nations resolution condemning Pyongyang’s violations of human rights. The resolution was adopted by the world body.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated in his policy speech last month that he would work closer with nations that share such basic values as freedom, democracy, fundamental human rights and the rule of law. But what we don’t understand is that the same Abe sees “nothing wrong” with Ibuki’s comment.

Human rights issues are among the primary concerns of the world today. It is surely Japan’s role to continue upholding democracy and human rights in the fast-evolving international community and situation in Asia. Japan will be held in higher esteem only if it strives to become a “human rights nation” where every individual is respected as a person.

It is all the more regrettable that Ibuki, the very minister in charge of Japanese education and culture, has uttered remarks that revealed his lack of respect for human rights. The last thing we want the education minister to do is give the rest of the world the wrong message–that the Japanese people are quite satisfied with the present state of human rights.

Where human rights are concerned, Japan is nowhere near developing any disease from overindulging. It is still undernourished.

–The Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 27(IHT/Asahi: February 28,2007)

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
人権メタボ 文科相のひどい誤診だ
http://www.asahi.com/paper/editorial20070227.html

 「毎日バターばかり食べていれば、皆さんはメタボリック症候群(内臓脂肪症候群)になる。人権だけを食べ過ぎれば、日本社会は人権メタボリック症候群になるんですね」

 伊吹文部科学相は長崎県での自民党支部大会でこう語った。

 内臓に脂肪がつきすぎると心筋梗(こう)塞(そく)など様々な病気を起こしやすくなる。そんな医学的な症状に例えて、人権をあまり重んじすぎると、社会がおかしくなる、と言ったのだ。

 講演のテーマは「教育再生の現状と展望」だった。伊吹文科相は「権利と自由だけを振り回している社会はいずれ駄目になる。権利には義務が伴う」とも語っている。

 人権を振りかざして義務を果たさずに権利ばかりを主張するのはおかしい。そう言いたかったのかもしれない。

 しかし、「権利」と「人権」は重なり合うが、同じではない。

 「人権メタボリック症候群」という言葉から伝わってくるのは、人権に対する文科相の感性の乏しさだろう。

 本当に「人権過多」の状況がいまの日本社会にあるのだろうか。周りを見渡してみよう。

 文科相の足元では、いじめに耐えられずに自殺する子どもが絶えない。子どもだけでなく、お年寄りへの虐待も頻発している。配偶者らからの暴力や脅迫の被害も数え切れない。障害者や外国人などへの差別もなくならない。

 先週には、強圧的な取り調べで自白を迫り、事実をでっちあげる捜査がいまだに行われていることが、裁判所で断罪されたばかりだ。

 社会が取り組まなければならない人権問題の多さに戸惑いこそすれ、行き過ぎではないかと心配するような状況ではまったくない。

 北朝鮮による拉致問題も重大な人権侵害だ。そう日本政府も考えて、北朝鮮に対する人権非難決議を国連に提出し、採択されたのではなかったか。

 この問題の解決のためにも、自由、民主主義、基本的人権、法の支配といった基本的価値を共有する国々との連携を強化する。安倍首相は1月の施政方針演説でそう述べていた。

 その首相が伊吹発言を「問題ない」と言うのも、おかしな話だ。

 「人権」はいまや世界のキーワードだ。大きく変動する国際社会、アジア情勢の中にあって、民主主義と人権を掲げ続けることが日本の役割だろう。一人ひとりが尊重される「人権立国」をめざす姿勢こそが国際的な評価を高める。

 それだけに、日本の教育や文化を担う大臣が人権をないがしろにするような発言をしたのはとても残念だ。日本人は今の人権状況で十分だと思っている。そんな間違ったメッセージを世界に発してほしくはない。

 メタボリック症候群になるどころか、人権はまだまだ栄養が足りない。