Good Morning, all. Seems Saturday morning is a good time to get this newsletter out, as it adds cream to the coffee (or assault to the scrambled eggs). This week’s menu:
1) IMMIGRATION POLICY–KEIDANREN VS NATIVISTS: BOTH IGNORE NJ NEEDS
2) ACCENTURE GETS SWEETHEART DEAL TO TRACK NJ AT BORDERS
3) ECONOMIST: UNITED NATIONS “ADRIFT” ON HUMAN RIGHTS
4) KYODO: LEE SOO-IM, ETHNIC KOREAN-JAPANESE ACTIVIST
5) TIME: TOKYO HOUSING IN 1964 AND THE EMPOWERED KENSETSU ZOKU
6) RESPONSES TO DEBITO.ORG RE GAIJIN HANZAI MAG, ALEX KERR,
LEE’S ELECTORAL DEFEAT, AND TORUKO
LUNCHTIME SPEECH AT ICU (MITAKA, TOKYO) ON MONDAY, APRIL 23
Collated by Arudou Debito (firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.debito.org)
Released April 21, 2007, freely forwardable
Those with personalities that can’t wait for American Idol results can see future newsletter entries in real time at http://www.debito.org/index.php
1) IMMIGRATION POLICY–KEIDANREN VS NATIVISTS: BOTH IGNORE NJ NEEDS
Two excellent posts from other bloggers (Ken Worsley and Adam Richards) regarding Japan immigration policy: Corporate Japan (particularly Keidanren) has been calling for more foreign workers (but not necessarily “immigration”) to answer domestic labor shortages. Meanwhile (as we have been reporting at Debito.org), nativist elements within policy arenas keep putting on brakes (such as establishing stringent Japanese-language requirements for visas, which few people will pass), and whipping up public fear towards the alleged loss of Japan’s “homogeneous” society.
No policymakers, Ken and Adamu point out, really address the problem with how to give these people a good life once they get here. Excerpts and links follow:
MORE ON FOREIGN WORKERS IN JAPAN: WHAT IS KEIDANREN AFTER?
Published by Ken Worsley at 12:30 am on Friday, April 20, 2007
Keidanren, the Nippon Business Federation, is pushing for a system that will allow more skilled foreign workers to enter Japan. However, be careful not to confuse this with an immigration policy.
Hiroshi Inoue, Keidanren’s director of international affairs, recently told members at a conference in Hakone sponsored by the European Commission delegation in Japan:
————–INOUE QUOTE BEGINS—————-
We cannot say we don’t want the workers to settle in Japan. But in terms of formulating a policy for the introduction of foreign laborers, we are assuming there will be a rotation system. I don’t think it’s likely that the majority of foreign workers will want to settle in Japan, so the assumption is that they will return to their home countries after a certain period.
————–INOUE QUOTE ENDS——————
There’s more than just a lack of hospitality in the sentence, “We cannot say say we don’t want the workers to settle in Japan.” That’s ok, Inoue-san: you don’t have to say it. The message came out loud and clear.
In response, Yoichiro Mizukami, a former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, told the audience:
————–MIZUKAMI QUOTE BEGINS—————-
A system of rotating workers in and out of the country will not work. Sociologically, foreign workers are already immigrants once they arrive in Japan. We shouldn’t look at them as just laborers. We have to view them as human beings first, and it’s time for policymakers to do that.
————–MIZUKAMI QUOTE ENDS——————
After that statement, Claude Morales, a member of the European Parliament, warned Japan against the danger of adopting a policy similar to Germany’s policy toward Turkish immigrant labor in the 1960s:
————–MORALES QUOTE BEGINS—————-
The guest worker model Germany tried has failed. Germany got the labor, but the Turkish immigrants don’t feel as if they are a part of German society. Japan must avoid adopting an immigration system that results in a two-tiered society. I would suggest that Japan look to the immigration policies of Sweden and Finland, which serve as positive models of how immigrants can integrate into society.
————–MORALES QUOTE ENDS——————
I think Mr Morales has hit the nail on the head: the two-tiered society is exactly what I see being pushed for, and exactly what I’ve seen taking shape at Japanese firms and in society at large. Whose ends does it serve?… What is Keidanren thinking?…
Rather than bring up the example of Germany, why not bring up Japan’s own failed immigration policy in terms of bringing in Nikkei workers from South America?
Rest of the post and discussion at:
JAPAN’S CONTINUING INFLUX OF FOREIGNERS AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR YOU
April 19th, 2007 by Adamu
Quiz time! What percentage of Tokyo is non-Japanese?
Answer: 2.93%. That’s the percentage of registered foreigners in Tokyo as of January 1, 2007 (an increase of 1.8% over last year), says Shukan Toyo Keizai. That means that 3 out of every 100 people you see in Tokyo are foreign…
There are 371,000 registered foreigners among Tokyo’s overall population of 12.69 million. The information comes from a “population movement survey” conducted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government… Tokyo’s foreign population has surged 2.5-fold over the past 20 years…
Most foreign districts:
Shinjuku-ku (where Tokyo’s Koreatown is located): 30,000
Edogawa-ku (home to Indiatown in Nishikasai): 21,000…
The regular publication of statistics like these, and the regular, adversarial reporting of developments in this issue, should remind the public as well as the authorities that real “internationalization” based on economic interests, rather than the abstract concept of peace, cooperation, and English study that is usually associated with that term, has already arrived in parts of Japan…
CORPORATE-LED SOCIAL REVOLUTION
Generally, Japan’s immigration policies are much more liberal than the US–in the rare case that you speak Japanese fluently and have connections within the country… However, the Japanese side insisted on language requirements that guarantee virtually no significant numbers will be let in…
But the business community has changed its tone over the years, and now the two top business lobbies, the Keidanren (made up of manufacturers) and Keizai Doyukai (a more brazenly neo-liberal group of top executives), are calling for massive importation of labor to avoid a drop in GDP due to the shrinking native work force that will accompany Japan’s population drop to 100 million by 2050…
[I believe that h]ighly skilled laborers such as lawyers, doctors, professors, journalists, and especially corporate managers/investors should be allowed into Japan. Allowing a full spectrum of business opportunities into Japan, which with a highly educated population, peaceful society, and hyper-developed infrastructure, would allow for a wealth of more business and labor opportunities.
But of course that’s a silly proposition. The stewards of Japanese society will continue to hoard the top positions and continue making hypocritical appeals to racial harmony out of one side of their mouths when it comes to reform of corporate boardrooms, while pushing for internationalization of cheap labor from the other side…
My biggest worry is that without proactive efforts to make this immigration smooth and easy, Japan will start to experience something like the US illegal immigration problem, with all the poverty, crime, and mistrust that goes with it. Occasional statements from high-level politicians, like Education Minister Bunmei Ibuki’s statement that Japan is a “homogeneous nation,” should remind people that race consciousness and nativism are not dead and work as appeals to a conservative voter base.
The time to lay the groundwork is now to prevent a backlash against foreigners that would prove a major headache for the entire foreign population, and a loss of the culture of tranquil co-existence with neighbors that has defined Japanese society.
Full article and discussion at:
Speaking of regarding immigrants with suspicion…
2) ACCENTURE GETS SWEETHEART DEAL TO TRACK NJ AT BORDERS
In a new website entitled GYAKU (http://gyaku.jp/en/), which offers in-depth reportage about lesser-known stories, we have the eye-opening story about the future of electronic surveillance of foreigners entering Japan.
I have reported in the past about how Japan’s new Immigration powers will now reinstate fingerprinting for all foreigners (regardless of visa status) who cross Japan’s borders:
Mainichi Daily News, Dec 5, 2004:
“Japan seeks foreigners’ fingerprints, photos, lists to fight terror”
Japan Times May 24, 2005:
“Here comes the fear: Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents”
Japan Times November 22, 2005:
“THE NEW “I C YOU” CARDS: LDP proposal to computer chip foreigners has great potential for abuse”
Even though Japan’s NJ residents have fought long and hard (and successfully) to end fingerprinting as part of Immigration procedure.
So here’s how it’s playing out. According to GYAKU, company without a country (which to some constitutes a security risk in itself) ACCENTURE (which created the digital mug-shot and fingerprint scans seen at US Immigration nowadays) has not only acted as consultant to Japan’s upcoming version, but also has been awarded the contract to develop Japan’s system for a song. This means that Japan becomes the second country to institute one of these systems in the world, while Accenture “invests” in a toehold in Asia anticipating future profits from the fear of terrorism.
The issues involved, the political backrooming, and links to all the necessary documents to make the case for concern are available at
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
ACCENTURE, JAPAN-VISIT, AND THE MYSTERY OF THE 100,000 YEN BID
Tuesday, April 17, 2007 By gyaku (http://gyaku.jp/en/)
The story first came to light… on April 21, 2006, during questioning… in the Japanese National Diet. Hosaka Nobuto of the Japan Social Democratic Party, a former journalist active in educational issues and one of the leaders in the fight against wiretapping laws in Japan, launched a barrage of questions at government officials over revelations that a contract for a new biometric immigration system had been awarded to Accenture Japan Ltd., a corporation previously hired in the role of “advisor” for the same project.
For many years a thorn in the side of the ruling party coalition, Hosaka in 2000 was ranked by the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun as the most active member of the House of Representatives, with a record 215 questions, a number that rose to over 400 by 2006 . The questions Hosaka put to the government on April 21st were undoubtedly some of the most important of his career, and yet, now nearly a year later, the story… has barely made a ripple in the Japanese media, and remains virtually unknown to the outside world.
The background…: Accenture Japan Ltd., the Japanese branch of the consulting firm Accenture… received in May 2004 a contract to draft a report investigating possibilities for reforming the legacy information system currently in use at the Japanese Immigration Bureau. The investigation was requested in the context of government plans, only later made public, to re-implement and modernize a certification system to fingerprint and photograph every foreigner over the age of 18 entering the country, replacing an earlier fingerprinting system abandoned in the year 2000 over privacy concerns after prolonged resistance from immigrant communities.
Earlier the same year, against the backdrop of a post-9/11 society anxious about the threat of vaguely-defined dark-skinned “terrorists”, the U.S. had begun taking fingerprints of foreigners with visas entering the U.S. at international airports and other major ports… The five year multi-billion dollar contract for the American US-VISIT program was awarded to Accenture in May of 2004, the same month that the corporation was hired by the Japanese government as a consultant on immigration system reform…
And as Dietmember Fukushima Mizuho pointed out in Diet session: “According to the records of government and public offices for the fiscal year 2005, [Accenture] has been commissioned for the Imperial Household Agency, the Fair Trade Commission, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Finance, and the National Tax Agency…”
Read the rest of the article at:
The point is, as America does, Japan is also so emboldened, be it mistrusting foreigners or racial profiling. Meanwhile, someone seems to be asleep at the watchtower…
3) ECONOMIST: UNITED NATIONS “ADRIFT” ON HUMAN RIGHTS
I post on this topic because (follow the daisy chain):
1) As the new UN Human Rights Council does, given Japan’s shabby record on following human rights treaties…
2) so Japan will do when it comes to Japan’s aspirations for a UN Security Council Seat…
3) which is really the only ace in the hole for putting pressure on Japan to finally pass a law against racial discrimination…
4) which Japan lacks, yet promised to establish all the way back in 1996 when it effected the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
I’ve been wanting to present the indicative Otaru Onsens Case (http://www.debito.org/otarulawsuit.html) to the HRC for some years now, but bureaucratic snafus, and warnings from my activist friends that doing so would probably be a disappointment, have kept me at bay. Meanwhile, articles like these from The Economist keep coming out and offering bad news about the meetings I’ve missed.
Would be nice to believe that human rights, from the organization which has established some of the most important conventions and treaties in history, still matter in this day when rules seem grey, and even the most powerful country in the world dismisses long-standing international agreements as “outmoded” and “quaint”.
Here’s the most recent article, with some referential links following:
THE UN ADRIFT ON HUMAN RIGHTS
THE ECONOMIST April 4th 2007
“WE WANT a butterfly,” John Bolton, then America’s ambassador to the United Nations, said a year ago when explaining his country’s rejection of plans to replace the UN’s High Commission on Human Rights with a leaner and supposedly more credible Human Rights Council. “We don’t intend to put lipstick on a caterpillar and call it a success.” Mr Bolton, now in enforced retirement from the UN, may feel vindicated as the ludicrously painted creature creeps along, seemingly doomed never to metamorphose and take wing.
In its fourth regular session, which ended in Geneva on March 30th, the 47-member council again failed to address many egregious human-rights abuses around the world. Even in the case of Darfur, on which one of its own working groups had produced a damning report, it declined to criticise the Sudanese government directly for orchestrating the atrocities, limiting itself to an expression of “deep concern”. Indeed, in its nine months of life, the council has criticised only one country for human-rights violations, passing in its latest session its ninth resolution against Israel…
A central task for the new council was supposed to be regular reviews of human rights in each of the UN’s 192 member states. But nine months since its founding, nothing has happened. A key test of whether the council would prove any better than its derided predecessor would be to get this “universal periodic review” under way, Louise Arbour, the UN’s respected High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the Geneva meeting. The council has now given itself a year to establish such a mechanism.
Full text of article at
UN HRC SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR DOUDOU DIENE ON JAPAN’S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD
UNITED NATIONS ICERD COMMITTEE ON JAPAN’S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD (1998-2002):
(Note that Japan is now five years late handing in its biennial report on human rights to the ICERD Committee…)
WASHINGTON TIMES ON UN DIENE VISIT, IBUKI, GAIJIN HANZAI MAG ETC.
March 9, 2007 Washington Times
JAPAN TIMES: U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR CHALLENGES IBUKI’S ‘HOMOGENOUS’ CLAIM
February 28, 2007
Transcript of FCCJ Press Conference with United Nations Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene and Arudou Debito
Feb. 26th, 2007, 12:30 to 2PM
Endgame on GOJ push for UNSC seat?
Asia Times January 3, 2007
“WE SUPPORT HUMAN RIGHTS!” JUST DON’T SCRATCH THE SURFACE.
On how Japan finagled its way onto the HRC
Japan Times November 7, 2006
UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL IN TROUBLE
The Economist March 22, 2007
Now for some better news…
4) KYODO: LEE SOO-IM, ETHNIC KOREAN-JAPANESE ACTIVIST
Two newsletters ago I sent you a rather half-baked article about a Turkish national who rid the “Toruko” signs from Japan’s “Soapland” brothel industry. “Half-baked”, in that the article offered no detail on how his campaign was so effective.
The problem with this kind of lukewarm coverage in the domestic media is that people get the impression that human rights are a low priority in Japan, or that the Japanese public is docile with rare protest.
This is completely false. You just don’t hear about it. And when you do in the major media, coverage can often be pretty shallow. Same thing happened with another newspaper article I mentioned in my last newsletter:
ASSEMBLY TO PROTEST PROPOSED LAW REVISION
TO MAKE OBLIGATORY CORPORATE REPORTING OF FOREIGN WORKERS
Asahi Shinbun April 10, 2007
Thanks to the half-assedness of this article, it was difficult for the reader to understand what SMJ is all up in arms about. They sounded “jinken baka” (human-rights-oriented to a fault). Space concerns notwithstanding, the reporter should given more depth to the counterarguments involved. And I also wish the Asahi had bothered to translate the article for their English readers!
The point is, people do protest these things. And if the media paid more attention, so would the rest of Japan. So it’s a great pleasure to see an in-depth article on a naturalized Japanese activist from Kyodo News. Excerpts follow:
FOCUS: KOREANS’ STRUGGLE CASTS FRESH LIGHT ON JAPANESE IMMIGRATION DEBATE
March 28, 2007 Kyodo News
Debates over whether or not to import more foreign workers have always been a thorny issue in Japan… While foreigners still comprise about 1 percent [sic!] of Japan’s population, the number of new arrivals has been steadily rising, especially from South America and China.
As these newer immigrants struggle to settle into the Japanese society, the decades-old struggle of the zainichi, or the ethnic Koreans in Japan, has come into clearer focus, says Lee Soo Im, professor at Ryukoku University.
A third-generation ethnic Korean, Lee was born in 1953 in Osaka Prefecture. Like hundreds of thousands of their compatriots, Lee’s grandparents emigrated to Japan in 1921 after losing their farmlands following Japan’s colonization of Korea in 1910…
Growing up in Osaka, home to a large ethnic Korean community in Japan, Lee said she had grown immune to racial slurs, including the neighborhood kids’ yelling at her, ”You stinking Korean!” But Lee was unprepared for her first encounter with an ”institutional discrimination” when she was about to graduate from Kyoto’s renowned Doshisha University.
”My grades were good, and I wanted to work for a municipal bank–and the teacher said, ‘No, they won’t hire Koreans. I lost all my hope. I graduated from my university in 1975 and decided to immigrate to this country (the United States),” Lee spoke recently at New York’s Korea Society…
Back in Japan, Lee decided to apply for Japanese citizenship to safeguard her family’s visa status. But the immigration office was not convinced that she would become the ”head of a family” under Japan’s quintessentially paternal family registry system. ”They didn’t even give me an application form,” Lee said.
[Lee was hired by Ryukoku University] in 1996. The move opened up her world to the study of ethnic Koreans and a host of human rights issues ethnic minorities face around the world.
Regaining her confidence, Lee went back to the immigration office in 1999 to apply for citizenship. The office was initially reluctant, but gave in after she threatened legal action, Lee said.
Lee became a Japanese citizen in 2002. Unlike most Koreans who naturalize, however, she decided to retain her Korean name, a decision questioned by an official in the process…
”I have to be a living example, teaching the domestic internationalization to Japanese people,” Lee said.
Lee, who recently co-edited ”Japan’s Diversity Dilemmas: Ethnicity, Citizenship, and Education” to highlight issues surrounding the country’s immigrant population, says there are no such thing as pure Japanese. A homogenous Japan is a myth built upon foreigners forced to live ”invisibly,” she says….
Entire article at
Now that’s more like it. Speaking of coverage of Japan:
5) TIME: HOUSING IN TOKYO IN 1964 AND THE EMPOWERED KENSETSU ZOKU
Here is article I found completely by chance last year during a walk around Kyoto, in a basketful of old TIME magazines. Decided on a whim to buy the issues which straddled my birthday (January 13, 1965) to see what was news back then:
JAPAN: $18 MILLION AN ACRE
TIME Magazine January 8, 1965
(article scanned, not text, so please visit the blog to see it)
COMMENT: It’s interesting how Japan’s high-growth economy has already by 1965 created a huge economic bubble, and how even back then the Western media was noting the “rabbit hutch” housing market.
But I cite this article because it contains the Fun Fact:
“THE AVERAGE HEIGHT OF BUILDINGS IN TOKYO WAS 1.7 STORIES IN 1965.”
Amazing to consider, with the price of land beggaring everyone both in terms of budget and space.
This also meant that current PM Satou Eisaku’s policy of earmarking public funds to alleviate this housing shortage (3 million units to be built over seven years) is probably the main reason why so many buildings in Tokyo were built for function, not form. They had to go up as quickly as possible. Which meant:
1) The “rabbit hutches” were just stacked on top of each other (see the horrible danchi system to this day in Adachi-ku, for example).
2) The construction lobby (kensetsu zoku) would thus get phenomenal power in terms of politics and corruption (for when you throw public money at a problem without time for oversight, there is nearly always skimming and cut corners). This probably enabled the kensetsu zoku to continue leaning on the government for more boondoggle seibi projects (see Kerr, DOGS AND DEMONS), even after the housing shortage was alleviated. The impact of that on Japan’s financial health still resonates today.
3) As Tokyo does, the rest of the country follows. The economies of scale created by these cookie-cutter houses influenced housing design nationwide. Meaning (in my opinion) Japanese houses are still some of the the highest-priced for the lowest quality in the world, and still largely devoid of esthetic (i.e. despite many exceptions, still generally built for function, not form–especially up here in Hokkaido).
I’m probably overstating the case. But this article answered quite a few burning questions for me about why Japanese are so rich, yet in terms of housing live so poorly.
PS: Another interesting article up on the blog is from the following week’s TIME Magazine on PM Satou. Contains a bit of the contemporary attitude of belittling Japanese leaders (cf. de Gaulle’s description of PM Ikeda Hayato in 1960 as a “transistor salesman”). It also contains the bonus Fun Fact that PMs Kishi Nobusuke and Satou Eisaku were brothers! Japan’s political world is indeed riddled with an elite…
6) RESPONSES TO DEBITO.ORG RE GAIJIN HANZAI MAG, ALEX KERR, LEE’S ELECTORAL DEFEAT, AND TORUKO
Got some good letters in the mailbag these past couple of weeks (and believe you me, I terminate silly blog posts with extreme prejudice):
RE: GAIJIN HANZAI PUBLISHER EICHI SHUPPAN GOES BANKRUPT
Do you think their bankruptcy announcement supports or weakens the theory that some group of unknown investors was behind the publication of “Gaijin Hanzai File”? On the one hand, I suppose you could argue that it’s unlikely that an outside group of investors, as opposed to a keiretsu-related company, would pour money into the project if the had concerns about the financial health of the publisher. On the other hand, one might argue that it was precisely because Eichi was staring bankruptcy in the face that they became desperate and accepted the project, and the money, from some outside group.
Some other questions I’ve been pondering include:
1) Eichi, or at least a related company according to the blog you showed us, had published porno mags, many of which no doubt got ads from fuzoku-related businesses. And guess who the fuzoku business often turn to in order to ensure the places get operating permits with minimal hassle from the government? You guessed it: retired police officials.
2) One of the largest sources of legal income for the yakuza is the adult video business. They are heavily invested in all aspects, from recruiting the starlets and studs, to shooting and editing the films, to packaging and marketing them. Obviously, Eichi had connections to that world. Though I’m certain there was no direct involvement, one wonders if Eichi wasn’t repaying a favor, of sorts, to somebody who did have connections and, for ideological reasons, wanted this done.
3) Obviously, Eichi and its investors knew months ago that the end was probably near. If so, perhaps some accountant advised them that, for whatever legal reasons, they needed to lose a lot of money quickly in order to get a better deal in bankruptcy court. “Find a project and dump lots of cash into it before you declare yourself insolvent,” may have been the order from the accountants six months ago or so. This project may have been on the back burner but, for lack of advertising, never went anywhere until the order came down. Just idle speculation at Mr. Donuts…
COMMENT: The answer is, I don’t know. I’ve gotta eat more donuts, I guess. Sugar sure made Hartley’s synapses connect.
RE: ASAHI: NATURALIZED KOREAN-J RUNS AS MINORITY FOR OSAKA PREF SEAT
AND LOSES BADLY DUE TO RUMOR CAMPAIGN PORTRAYING HIM AS DISCRIMINATOR
MATT DIOGUARDI REPLIES:
Debito, This whole case fascinates me. I agree with you that Lee Kyung Jae did poorly in the public relations department. The far right did a better job of getting THEIR message out about him, than he did of getting out his OWN message out. If you search for the quote that is constantly ascribed to him, you get over 1500 pages. If you search for a Lee Kyung Jae home page, you can’t find one. His Wikipedia entry is NOT locked down, so anyone could have edited it, including Lee Kyung Jae or a friend.
Again he sounds like a really cool guy with a message of coexistence. He was someone who once got arrested for not giving his fingerprints to local authorities, and he has been active in many ways to help the Korean community. Recently his message has really been pro-integration. Become Japanese, but don’t forget who you are.
I’m perplexed by his whole campaign though. I’m not sure what it was he wanted to achieve. But inadvertently he’s allowed certain issues to be raised that probably confuse the situation for foreigners.
For example, if many immigrants were allowed to come into Japan and establish themselves, would “yamato Japanese” (whatever that may mean) become a discriminated minority? What would happen to Japanese culture, would it be lost? How about the Emperor system, would all these new foreigners do away with it?…
Controlling the problem context is really important here. Looking at this situation, I have to say, you were certainly right to take legal action against 2-Channel. [http://www.debito.org/?cat=21]
MORE RESEARCH FROM MATT ON THIS AT
COMMENT: Thanks very much for the research, Matt. Problem is, if you’re going to run a successful campaign, you’ve gotta have good image control. (I speak from personal experience–look how easily it was for Internet trolls to besmirch what we’ve been doing re the Otaru Onsens Case.)
If Mr Lee wants to put his comments online in context for the voter, he ought to have at least use the name he put on his campaign posters. Not the kanji for “Lee”, but the hiragana for “i”, or else search engines aren’t going to represent him properly. Alas and alack, people just won’t research too deeply–they have neither the time or the inclination.
RE: ALEX KERR FALLS INTO “GUESTISM” ARGUMENTS WITH UNRESEARCHED COMMENTS
KEN WORSLEY REPLIES:
I found it good to read Mr Kerr’s response. My comments are not meant to be directed at him, but more in general:
I find it odd when people say Debito is being “too direct” or not working within the “Japanese way of doing things.” I wonder if these people have ever witnessed demonstrations that go on frequently outside of government ministries in Kasumigaseki. There are a number of groups that rally, march, picket, hand out leaflets, protest and use lawsuits in order to gain attention (and hopefully support) for their causes. Many of these incidents appear in the newspapers, so I’m not sure how they go ignored as part of this dialogue.
Here I defer to Matt, who has written something I’ve thought about but was never able to put into words: Could the same criticism of those Japanese people who engage in activism be applied? And, further, given that Debito is Japanese, so long as he acts within the confines of what is legal, who has a horse high enough to suggest that what he’s doing is somehow detrimental?
Ken’s definitely touched on something here that I’ve been struggling to grasp for some time now; I’m not so sure there is a “Japanese Way” anymore. Like you said, with protesters and people demonstrating in a true rebel fashion, and with Japanese-ness, so to speak, not limited to Japan-born citizens, it’s hard to know if there is a line to be drawn.
What is the Japanese way of doing things? What the majority agrees upon? And what if a clear citizen of Japan should break that pattern? Is he then not Japanese in his approach? I don’t think so.
I don’t think there is “a Japanese Way”. Sure, there are certain styles and methods. But whenever one raises “Japaneseness” in the course of debate, I see it as a rhetorical device to cloak censorship and stifle change.
The “Japanese rules” that are provided (vague at best if ever expressed) ultimately lead to passivity and doing nothing. The disenfranchised are basically told to wait for the powers that be to deign to throw them a bone.
Note that the proponents of “The Japanese Way” are generally those who benefit the most from the status quo.
I’m not saying that any of this is Alex’s intent. I’m just saying that we should not buy into it. It is not a nationality or even a cultural phenomenon. It is intensely a political phenomenon. Make no mistake about it.
RE: MAINICHI: BIO OF THE MAN WHO GOT “TORUKO” OFF “SPECIAL BATHHOUSES”
The story I heard was that there was a bathhouse in Shinjuku (or somewhere) whose sign read “TORUKO TAISHIKAN” [TURKISH EMBASSY] and the Turkish embassy was pissed because pranksters kept phoning them and trying to reserve their favorite masseuse.
Anyway, the residents of Sendagaya living near the Turkish Embassy got the last laugh. They jokingly refer to the embassy in their midst as “soapland.”
See? If true, the Mainichi’s retelling of the story as one man’s dedication (without at least some gaiatsu to make it a national government thing) is far too simplistic, too good by itself to be true. Especially when you consider my near decade of railing against “Japanese Only” signs… 😉 Debito
LUNCHTIME SPEECH AT ICU (MITAKA, TOKYO) ON MONDAY, APRIL 23
I will be giving a speech at International Christian University (open to the public) in Mitaka, near Tokyo, next Monday. Readers are welcome to attend. Details as follows:
Institute of Asian Cultural Studies
ASIAN FORUM #104
“JAPANESE ONLY” The Otaru Onsens Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Despite effecting the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination in 1996, Japan still has no laws against racial discrimination. “JAPANESE ONLY” signs are appearing on places like shops, hotels and public bathhouses nationwide.
The speaker will talk about his activities against this sign-posted discrimination, including successful lawsuits against an exclusionary onsen, and another against the the City of Otaru that went all the way to Japan’s Supreme Court. He will also discuss what this trend means for Japan’s future, both as a society with an aging labor force and as a member of the international community.
Speaker: Arudou Debito
Associate Professor at Hokkaido Information University and human rights activist
Monday, April 23, 2007, Lunch Time (12:50 – 13:40) East Room, ICU Cafeteria
Lecture is in English
Everyone interested is welcome!
Coffee, tea, and cookies will be served
Institute of Asian Cultural Studies (Honkan 255)
Tel: 0422-33-3179 Fax: 0422-33-3633
e-mail: email@example.com http://subsite.icu.ac.jp/iacs/
I will also be giving at least three more lectures at ICU next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and having Q&A with students. Not sure if those are open to the public, though. Ask the hosts.
That’s all for today. I will be in Tokyo for the next week, and then jumping on a bicycle during Golden Week with friend Chris to cycle from Miyazaki to Fukuoka. So my daily regimen of putting up one post per day on the blog, and one newsletter per week will probably not be possible for the next two weeks or so.
But I still have of interesting nuggets of information on my desktop to blog whenever I have spare time, so check back there every now and again:
Thanks for reading! Enjoy Golden Week!
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 21, 2007 ENDS