Fun Facts #4: Indicative Postwar “Child’s Play”

mytest

Hi Blog. This will be my last blog entry for at least a week (if not until around May 7), as I will be cycling around Kyushu with friend Chris without email or probably web access.

So let’s break on a more pleasant note: From one of my favorite books on Japan (John Dower, EMBRACING DEFEAT, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning tome on the strategies Post-WWII Japanese society used to cope with losing a war), my favorite section (pp. 110-112). Brief comment follows:

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CHILD’S PLAY

Children’s games can provide a barometer of their times. With consumers of any sort still in the distant future, youngsters were thrown back on their imaginations, and their play became a lively measure of the obsessions of adult society. Not long before, boys in particular had played war with a chilling innocence of what they were being encouraged to become. They donned headbands and imagined themselves piloting the planes that would, in fact, never return. They played at being heroic sailors long after the imperial navy began to be decimated. Armed with wooden spears and bayonets, they threw themselves screaming at mock-ups of Roosevelt and Churchill and pretended they were saving the country from the foreign devils [48]. In defeat, there was no such clear indoctrination behind children’s games. Essentially, they played at doing what they saw grownups do. It was a sobering sight.

There were not many commerical toys in this world, although the first popular one after the war was revealing. In December 1945, a toy maker in Kyoto produced a jeep not quite 10 centimeters long that sold for 10 yen. The stock of one hundred thousand quickly disappeared from store shelves, heralding the modest revival of the toy industry. The quintessentially American nature of the product was appropriate, for the child’s world was defined, in generally positive and uncritical ways, by an acceptance of the fact of being occupied. Jeeps were associated with the chocolate and chewing gum handed out by cheerful GIs, and thus with the few delicious amenities imaginable in these war-torn lives. “Hello,” “goodbye,” “jeep,” and “give me chocolate” were the first English words most youngsters learned. They also learned to fold newspapers into soft GI-style hats rather than the traditional samurai helmets of the past. To older, nationalistic Japanese, a good part of child’s play seemed to involve finding pleasure in being colonized.

The games *were* happy–that was the point of playing, after all–but in ways that almost invariably tended to sadden grownups, for they highlighted so clearly and innocently the pathos that war and defeat had brought into their lives. Early in 1946, for example, it was reported that the three most popular activities among small boys and girls were yamiichi-gokko, panpan asobi, and demo asobi–that is, holding a mock black market, playing prostitute and customer, and recreating left-wing political demonstrations.

Black-market games–hawkers and their wares–might be seen in retrospect as a kind of school for small entrepreneurs, but to grownups at the time they were simply another grim reminder of the necessity of engaging in illegal activity to make ends meet. Panpan asobi, prostitution play, was even harder for parents to behold, for panpan was a postwar euphemism for freelance prostitutes who catered almost exclusively to the GI trade. A photograph from early 1946 shows laughing youngsters in shabby clothes reenacting this–a boy wearing a soft GI hat, his arm hooked into that of a little girl wearing patched pants. In the demo game, children ran around waving red paper flags. As youngsters grew older, play shaded into practice. The press took care to note when roundups of prostitutes included girls as young as fourteen, while schoolboys as well as orphans and runaways quickly learned how to earn pocket money as pimps by leading GIs to women. “You like to meet my sister?” became, for some, the next level of English after “give me chocolate.”

As time passed, the playtime repertoire expanded. In mid-1947, a teacher in Osaka reported that his pupils seemed absorbed in playing “train” games, using the teacher’s platform at the front of the classroom as the center of their activities. In “repatriate train,” children put on their school knapsacks, jammed together on the dais, shook and trembled, and got off at “Osaka.” “Special train”–obviously a takeoff on the railway cars reserved for occupation personnel–allowed only “pretty people” to get on. A “conductor” judged who was favored and who wasn’t. A button missing? Rejected. Dirty face? Rejected. Those who passed these arbitrary hurdles sat in leisure on the train. Those rejected stood by enviously. In “ordinary train,” everyone piled on, pushing and shoving, complaining about being stepped on, crying out for help. Every so often, the conductors balancing on the edges of the platform announced that the train had broken down and everyone had to get off. It was, the teacher lamented, a sorry spectacle to behold: from playing war to playing at utter confusion.

Well into 1949, children continued to turn social disorders into games. In runpen-gokkothey pretended to be homeless vagrants. The game took its name from teh German word lumpen, which had come to Japan earier as “lumpenproleteriat” and then acquired the everyday meaning of being an unemployed vagrant. The atmosphere of lawlessness was reenacted in “to catch a thief” (dorobo-gokko) and “pretending handcuffs” (tejou-gokko). “Catch a thief,” it was said, had replaced hide-and-seek in popularity. Desire to strike it rich was captured in a lottery game. Predictably, child’s play also included kaidashi-gokko, pretending to leave home to search for food [49].

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COMMENT: This marvellously-written and researched account by Dr Dower, in parts guffaw-inducing, in others depressing, is something rarely considered in historical accounts: The barometer of social suffering as absorbed and reflected in its children doing what kids do: trying to have fun.

The photo accompanying the text (and referred to within), concerning panpan asobi is priceless:
dower111001.jpg
(Click on image to see whole photo)

I especially love the expressions on the girls’ faces. And I can see why people in most societies shield their children’s eyes from what happens next when the couple repairs elsewhere.

On a more serious note, this play wouldn’t be quite so beneficial to society if it wasn’t seen as fun by the children. More like trauma. And given that Tokyo Guv Ishihara Shintaro was about to turn 15 by the time the war ended, it’s perhaps unsurprising that he couldn’t see the brighter side of the Occupation, and became the very stripey character (particularly regarding non-Japanese) that he is.

Arudou Debito in Yoyogi-Uehara, Tokyo

Lucie Blackman’s alleged killer acquitted, given life for other crimes

mytest

Hi Blog. More Japanese judiciary at work. Brief comment (have to keep it brief tonight–done four speeches at ICU these past two days and have to work on the Powerpoint for tomorrow’s) and other articles follow:

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Serial rapist Obara gets life term
Developer acquitted in Blackman slaying but sent up over Ridgway’s murder
The Japan Times, Tuesday, April 24, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070424x1.html
Compiled from AP, Kyodo

The Tokyo District Court acquitted wealthy property developer Joji Obara of the 2000 death and dismemberment of British bar hostess Lucie Blackman but sentenced him to life for the slaying of an Australian woman and a series of rapes nearly a decade ago.

Obara, 54, was charged with serial rape and the death of two foreign women — Blackman in 2000 in a case that became one of Japan’s most notorious sex crimes and raised concerns over the safety of women in night clubs and the sex industry here, and Australian Carita Ridgway in 1992.

Despite widely reported circumstantial evidence, Obara was cleared of all charges relating to Blackman. He was sentenced to life for nine other rapes, including the attack that led to Ridgway’s 1992 death — a case that may have gone unpunished, ironically, had Blackman’s disappearance not triggered suspicions that led to the accused.

Obara was charged with raping and fatally drugging Blackman, and mutilating and burying her body in cement in a cave near one of his seaside condominiums. But Presiding Judge Tsutomu Tochigi said there was “no evidence to link the suspect directly to” the dismembering and burying of her body.

Obara, a regular at bars in Tokyo where foreign women pour drinks for clients, was never charged with murder, but instead the lesser charge of “rape leading to death.”

Ridgway was a 21-year-old acting student who also worked as a bar hostess in Tokyo when, according to prosecutors, Obara gave her a drug overdose and raped her in 1992, and she died in a hospital. Her death, however, was not linked to the millionaire until Blackman’s disappearance years later.

Blackman was also 21 and working at a Tokyo night club in 2000 when she disappeared after telling a friend she was going on a drive with a male customer. Her dismembered body was discovered in a seaside cave near Obara’s condominium in Miura, Kanagawa Prefecture, in early 2001, her head encased in concrete.

Prosecutors had alleged that Obara invited Blackman to another of his condos in nearby Zushi in June 2000, drugged her and raped her after she fell unconscious. When Blackman died of a drug overdose, he dismembered her and buried her corpse steps away from the Miura condo, the charges said.

Obara claimed in testimony that Blackman took the drugs herself. His defense argued that no direct evidence has been presented by the prosecution to link Obara to her death, the cause of which remains unknown because of the nature of her remains.

Obara was convicted Tuesday for a string of other rapes, including two more involving foreign women he met at Tokyo hostess clubs. He videotaped many of the attacks.

He had met his victims at nightclubs, had drinks with them and then brought them back to his Zushi condominium, where he drugged them with alcohol and chloroform.

Obara pleaded innocent to all the charges.

While his defense said it has not been proven that Ridgway was drugged to death, Judge Tochigi determined that she died of acute hepatitis due to the intake of chloroform.

Blackman’s disappearance in July 2000 triggered one of Japan’s highest-profile hunts.

The Blackman family has repeatedly come to Tokyo to urge prosecutors and lawmakers to make Lucie’s case a priority, and called on the public to give police any potentially helpful information.

Lucie’s father, Tim, and his daughter, Sophie, were in Tokyo to hear the verdict. “The length of the process and so many years of waiting and wondering has been tough on the Blackman family,” the father said Monday after visiting the cave where Lucie’s body was found.

The verdict also comes as Japanese police are investigating another high-profile murder of a Briton last month.

Lindsay Ann Hawker, whose naked body was found in a sand-filled bathtub on the balcony of an apartment in Chiba Prefecture, was beaten and then suffocated, and police are still hunting for the prime suspect, Tatsuya Ichihashi, who lived in the apartment and had allegedly stalked the victim, who taught English for the Nova language school chain.
ARTICLE ENDS
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COMMENT: Japan has many famous “enzai” (framing) cases, where the police try very hard to make the case that someone is guilty, even with only circumstantial evidence.

One example here, the Eniwa Enzai Jiken:
http://www4.ocn.ne.jp/~sien/
http://stone2.at.infoseek.co.jp/eniwa.html
Other enzai cases here:
http://www.sayama-case.com/ring/ring.cgi
(Articles in Japanese)

And a brief on the case (old, no newer article found on JT site) here:

==========================
Murder arrest looms
The Japan Times, May 23, 2000
(page down past first article)
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20000523a5.html

SAPPORO (Kyodo) Police Monday were expected to arrest a 29-year-old former coworker of a woman whose charred body was found in Eniwa, Hokkaido, in March, on suspicion of murder and dumping a body.

According to police, a passerby found the charred body of Kaori Hashimukai, 24, from Komakomai, Hokkaido, on a street in Eniwa, on the morning of March 17.

The direct cause of her death was determined to be suffocation, and police suspect Hashimukai was burned at the scene after she was murdered.

Hashimukai had been unaccounted for since she left her office in the city of Chitose, near Sapporo, on March 16.

A police investigation found Hashimukai’s vehicle in a parking lot at JR Osatsu Station in Chitose near her office.

Her cellular phone, which was found in her office locker, was used after she was murdered, they said.

Police suspected someone familiar with Hashimukai committed the slaying, and they had been investigating her close friends.

The former coworker from the town of Hayakita, Hokkaido, whose identity was withheld, was with Hashimukai when she left the office the night of her disappearance, police said.

Meanwhile, the suspect filed a civil suit with the Sapporo District Court the same day demanding 5 million yen from the Hokkaido government for the emotional suffering caused by her questioning at the hands of police.

According to the lawsuit, the woman was placed under observation by investigators for roughly a month after police decided she was a possible suspect in the case.

She was admitted to the psychiatric unit of a hospital in Sapporo after being questioned over a 14-hour period as part of voluntary questioning sessions, the lawsuit said.

The former coworker, who was discharged from the hospital Monday, maintains in the lawsuit that she suffered mental anguish from the investigation, which she said was not based on objective evidence but was merely aimed at obtaining a confession from her.
ARTICLE ENDS
======================

She lost in District and High Court later on, thanks to police efforts to convict her…

And here’s today’s Japan Times news analysis raising the question (to me, anyway) about how Japan’s police keep faffing up cases of crime against foreign criminals:

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Approach to Blackman slaying hit, likened to Keystone Cops
Faulty police procedures seen foiling quick action, prevention
The Japan Times, Tuesday, April 24, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070424f1.html
By JUN HONGO AND ERIC PRIDEAUX
Staff writers

After years of litigation closely watched around the world, the Tokyo District Court sentenced property developer Joji Obara to life in prison Tuesday for raping and drugging nine women, including Australian Carita Ridgway who subsequently died, but acquitted him of all the charges related to the death of Briton Lucie Blackman.

In the Blackman investigation, the highest profile of the 10 cases, despite pressure from the British government and frequent visits to Japan by Blackman’s family since her disappearance in July 2000, authorities were never able to assemble enough evidence to charge Obara, 54, with murdering the former stewardess-turned-Roppongi bar hostess. He denies the charge.

Blackman’s dismembered body was discovered in a cave on Kanagawa Prefecture’s Miura Peninsula in February 2001, about 200 meters from one of Obara’s many summer getaway homes.

Yet Obara has said prosecutors lack sufficient evidence to hold him responsible for Blackman’s death, the dismemberment of her body or any of the other charges.

“The court should give me the benefit of the doubt,” Obara, a once affluent property developer who fell down on his luck, said in a statement released after his counsel’s closing arguments in December.

But many informed observers disagree. One is former police officer Akio Kuroki, a 23-year Metropolitan Police Department detective who said that in the Blackman case, at least, the defendant stands firmly implicated.

“Everything points to Obara,” he said.

On July 1, 2000, Blackman, a 21-year-old hostess at the now-defunct Roppongi club Casablanca, went on an outing with a client from the club, telling her Tokyo roommates by cell phone that she would visit the beach with him and would not be late in returning.

She promised to call again within two hours, according to prosecutors.

That was the last time she was ever heard from. On July 3, the girlfriends received a phone call from a man identifying himself as Akira Takagi, saying that Blackman was in Chiba Prefecture and had joined a cult and was not planning to return, according to trial records.

The following day, the women alerted police that Blackman was missing, describing the phone call to the authorities. Prosecutors say the call was traced to a prepaid cell phone bought by Obara and that he placed the call.

Newspapers started publicizing Blackman’s disappearance on July 13. Prosecutors say that on July 20, the Azabu Police Station received a letter purporting to be written by Blackman, saying she had vanished on her own accord.

Similar letters would arrive in the following months, they said.

It was reportedly after the first letter arrived that police began a rigorous search of Roppongi.

That turned their suspicions toward a certain wealthy man who frequented the local hostess bars. But it would be months before Obara was arrested.

Several brushes with the law might have put Obara on investigators’ radar screens early on, but didn’t.

According to a May 2001 article in Time Magazine, in early October 1997, a young British hostess had shown up at her Roppongi job drugged and gravely ill after spending time with a man the article said was “now believed to be Obara.” Medical exams, the magazine said, indicated she had sustained liver damage.

Her boss, Kazuo Iizuka, took the woman to police on several occasions, urging her to file rape charges against the then-unknown assailant, but police refused to open a case because the woman was a hostess, according to the magazine.

Asked by telephone about the report, a Tokyo Metropolitan Police spokesman refused to comment, because, he said, “Those events occurred in the past.”

A police spokeswoman was also reluctant to provide details in a subsequent query.

In 1998, Obara, using a fake name, was arrested on a Wakayama Prefecture beach after slipping into a women’s restroom dressed in drag in an attempt to surreptitiously videotape a woman using the toilet. He was released after paying a 9,000 yen fine.

And five days after Blackman was last heard from, on July 6, 2000, police received a call from the manager of Obara’s condominium on the shores of the Miura Peninsula and were told of a tenant who had been making lots of noise in his unit the day before.

Prosecutors say police visited the apartment that evening and found Obara naked from the waist up, covered in sweat. Officers asked permission to look around his apartment and were allowed in. Chunks of cement were strewn near the entrance and around the apartment. Asked about this, Obara said he had been “removing tiles,” according to a trial transcript.

When officers requested access to the bathroom, Obara said, “You’ve already seen enough.” Upon further questioning, he grew agitated and the officers eventually left.

Besides the concrete debris, officers also glimpsed a bulky sack in the room and what appeared to be a gardening hoe.

As peculiar as that scene may seem in retrospect, Kuroki, the former detective, stressed that because the Miura police at that point were not even aware of Blackman’s disappearance, they had no reason to be more suspicious of Obara.

Article 35 of the Constitution protects citizens against police searches without “adequate cause.” Still, the Police Execution of Duties Law permits searches of “land, buildings and vehicles” when police “have sufficient reason to believe that a crime has been or is about to be committed” based on “suspicious circumstances.”

Kuroki is disappointed that prosecutors, who claim the sack may have contained Blackman’s dismembered corpse, failed to present any proof.

“Had the officers gone further into the apartment, they would have found solid evidence, and prosecutors could have charged Obara with murder,” Kuroki said.

That September, other victims came forward upon hearing of Blackman’s disappearance and identified Obara, a patron of hers at her hostess club, as someone who had date-raped them. Obara was arrested in October.

Although Blackman’s hair was found at Obara’s apartment in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture, none of her blood was, and he stayed mum while in detention.

It wasn’t until the following February that Blackman’s body was discovered buried at the seaside cave, each part encased in concrete and so badly decomposed that the cause of death could not be determined.

Questions also surround the investigation into the death of Ridgway, a 21-year-old Ginza hostess who, having taken ill, was dropped off by a man at a Tokyo hospital. The Australian woman was diagnosed with acute hepatitis and died two weeks later.

Although the man accompanying Ridgway had identified himself as Akira Nishida, prosecutors say a hospital receipt found in Obara’s home after his arrest identifies him as the man in question.

After Obara’s arrest, tests were conducted on Ridgway’s liver, a part of which had been preserved. Prosecutors and news reports say that toxic levels of chloroform were behind the death, but according to medical expert testimony during the trial, it was impossible to prove what triggered the onset of acute hepatitis.

Obara is reported to have kept extensive records of sexual encounters with women. According to respected Australian newspaper The Age, an entry found in a confiscated Obara diary contains the name Carita Ridgway, and beside that, “Too much chloroform.”

Obara disputes any suggestion that he poisoned the woman, and said in his December statement, “It is believable that Ridgway died from shellfish poisoning.”

Details have gradually emerged about Obara, including allegations that he had a penchant for filming the rape of drugged women. Police say the person in the video committing those acts appears to be him in a mask. Yet evidence to substantiate murder charges appears to be lacking.

A tabloid, however, alleged some of the videos show the arm of another male who may have been involved. This man was missing a pinkie and had a tattoo, but no other suspect has been named in the case.

Although professing his innocence, Obara paid Blackman’s father, Timothy, a large sum of money allegedly so he would be less vocal about the case, and also offered money to Lucie’s divorced mother, but she refused.

The way police handled the Blackman and Ridgway deaths appear remarkably similar to that of Lindsay Ann Hawker, a 22-year-old Briton found slain last month.

The suspect in that murder, Tatsuya Ichihashi, 28, gave several officers the slip at his Chiba Prefecture apartment, where Hawker’s strangled corpse was found in a disconnected tub full of sand on his balcony.

He had allegedly been stalking Hawker, an English teacher at a Nova school, and she had agreed to go to his apartment to give him a private lesson.

Although police claim their team was properly positioned when they went to question Ichihashi on Hawker’s disappearance on March 26, he managed to bolt down a fire escape and remains at large.

As in the Blackman case, human limitations appear to play a part in the failure by police to convincingly pin the crime on a suspect.

But Tomomi Ando, a lawyer of 24 years, said that as in the Blackman case, limitations on how far police can carry out their initial search may have been a factor in their failure to nab Ichihashi.

“Since both (Obara and Ichihashi) were not (formal) suspects at that point, it would have been a misuse of authority and an illegal investigation if they probed further,” Ando said.

Either way, he said, in both cases, police could have been more suspicious and modified their tactics while still remaining within the scope of the law.

“It’s no simple matter,” Ando said. “Police might not have not been able to ransack the apartments, but it was possible for them to place officers appropriately (in the Ichihashi search) to avoid a getaway or strengthen their surveillance of Obara.”

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For more stories related to the Lucie Blackman case on the Japan Times, click here

Arudou Debito in Musashisakai, Tokyo

Anthony Bianchi reelected to Inuyama Assembly

mytest

Hi Blog. Good news. Naturalized citizen gets a second lease on his public career. Congratulations! Debito in Tokyo

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U.S.-born Bianchi reelected in Aichi
Japan Today, Monday, April 23, 2007 at 06:56 EDT

http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/404663
Courtesy of Ben at The Community

NAGOYA — Anthony Bianchi, originally from Brooklyn, New York, was reelected Sunday as an assembly member in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture.

Bianchi, 48, had resigned as an assembly member to run in the city’s mayoral election in December. After losing the mayoral bid, he ran again for an assembly seat in the city, which has a population of around 75,000. Bianchi first came to Japan in the late 1980s and became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 2002. After working as an English teacher in Inuyama, he won a seat in the city assembly in April 2003 with the largest number of votes ever cast for a candidate in the election of 3,302. (Kyodo News)

ENDS
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More on Anthony here:
http://www.japanprobe.com/?p=766
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1248301
http://www.wnyc.org/shows/bl/episodes/2003/08/01

Anthony’s official website here:
http://www.bianchi-inuyama.com/

On a tangentally related issue, my ex-wife lost her Nanporo Town Council seat, very narrowly. Sorry to hear. Debito

Irish Times on Nagasaki Mayor Assassination and reemerging ultrarightism in Japan

mytest

David McNeill forwards me his latest article for the Irish Times. Not exactly a NJ issue, but an interesting round-up of one symptom of Japan’s re-emerging ultrarightism (which will by its nature affect NJ in future).

One thing that David did not bring up–how this case is depicted not as an “assassination” (ansatsu), but a “gun attack” (juugeki) in the J media. Not quite. If it looks like a duck… Wonder why it’s being dressed up as such. Arudou Debito in Mitaka, Tokyo

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Letter: Japan’s murderous fringe forces politicians to keep their heads down
A political assassination in Nagasaki resonates with murky undertones.
By David McNeill
The Irish Times, Monday April 23, 2007

http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/world/2007/0423/1176455118076.html

Religion, ideology, corruption…there is no shortage of excuses for murdering politicians, but Japan may have come up with the strangest one yet: failure to fix potholes. A Yakuza gangster killed Nagasaki mayor Itcho Ito last week because the city refused to pay him for damage to his car inflicted by a dodgy road.

The mobster, Tetsuya Shiroo, harangued the city for three years, demanding two million yen compensation (12,390 Euro) for what one official called a “dented fender.” Shiroo then sent TV broadcaster Asahi a note saying he couldn’t forgive the mayor – who he had never met – and pumped two bullets into his back last Tuesday.

The killing could of course have been the result of a murderous grudge, and it may be just coincidence that the Mayor was a staunch critic of nuclear weapons, Constitutional change and the military alliance with the US. What is not in doubt is Japan’s long history of political intimidation by gangsters and right-wing thugs, a tradition that seems to be reigniting.

Last year, for example, an ultra-rightist firebombed the offices of the Nikkei newspaper after it published private diaries about Emperor Hirohito. Another attacked the family home of politician Liberal Democratic (LDP) bigwig Koichi Kato, who had spoken out against then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine.

The attacker was found by police bleeding from the gut following a botched hara-kiri suicide attempt with a pair of scissors.

In 2002, reformist minister Koki Ishii was stabbed to death by an ultra-nationalist who told police he was angry that the politician had “refused to pay his rent.” Mr. Ishii was Japan’s leading critic of financial corruption in the banking and construction industries, the real reason why he was targeted, believes his family.

Then there was former Nagasaki Mayor Hitoshi Motojima, shot in the back when he called for a debate on the war responsibility of Emperor Hirohito in 1990; Communist Party boss Kenji Miyamoto, almost killed in 1973; Socialist Party Chairman Inejiro Asanuma, stabbed to death by a sword-wielding rightist in 1960. Thousands more journalists, union leaders and academics have been threatened or harmed over the years.

The oddest part of this massive organised intimidation is that despite occasional clampdowns, there has never been any real attempt to smash its source.

As foreign visitors to Tokyo know, ultra-right wingers are still allowed to drive their black sound trucks with impunity around the city, blaring martial music and patriotic homilies at ear-shredding volume. The Yakuza, meanwhile – with whom there is much overlap, still have offices in large cities equipped with nameplates and business cards.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called Mayor Ito’s murder, which took place in the middle of an election, “a threat to democracy” and said the police needed to come down hard on gun crime. They know exactly where to go: The mobster who killed him is affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest crime syndicate which maintains a plush compound in an upper-class neighbourhood of Kobe.

Once a month a whispering fleet of Mercedes, Lexus and BMW cars passes through the driveway, ferrying local crime bosses from across the country to a regular conference.

Observers struggle to explain why this fringe army of extremists and criminals is allowed to survive on the margins of Japanese society. One reason is that in a country where order and discipline are prized, the last thing anyone wants is disorganized crime. But it is also obviously true that the army provides, for some, the useful function of reinforcing the margins of tolerable political criticism.

Politicians, journalists and editors must think long and hard before they pronounce publicly on a range of taboo issues, from Yasukuni to the Emperor, a fact noted by Mr. Kato, whose 97-year-old mother was lucky not to have been killed in the attack on his home. “Fear of violence and intimidation has silenced many liberal-leaning journalists, lawmakers and academics,” he said. “Many people are now keeping their months shut. The Diet (parliament) is not an exception.”

Or as the famous Japanese proverb goes: “The nail that sticks up is hammered down.”
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 21, 2007

mytest

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:

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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

and finally…
LUNCHTIME SPEECH AT ICU (MITAKA, TOKYO) ON MONDAY, APRIL 23
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Collated by Arudou Debito (debito@debito.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

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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:
http://www.japaneconomynews.com/2007/04/20/more-on-foreign-workers-in-japan/

=============================
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…

Top nationalities:
Chinese: 126,000
Korean: 109,000
Filipino: 31,000

Most foreign districts:
Shinjuku-ku (where Tokyo’s Koreatown is located): 30,000
Adachi-ku: 21,000
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:
http://www.mutantfrog.com/2007/04/19/japans-continuing-influx-of-foreigners-and-what-it-means-for-you/

Speaking of regarding immigrants with suspicion…

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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”
http://www.debito.org/mainichi120504.html

Japan Times May 24, 2005:
“Here comes the fear: Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents”
http://www.debito.org/japantimes052405.html

Japan Times November 22, 2005:
“THE NEW “I C YOU” CARDS: LDP proposal to computer chip foreigners has great potential for abuse”
http://www.debito.org/japantimes112205.html

Even though Japan’s NJ residents have fought long and hard (and successfully) to end fingerprinting as part of Immigration procedure.
http://www.debito.org/fingerprinting.html

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
http://gyaku.jp/en/index.php?cmd=contentview&pid=000188

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 [1]. 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…”
======================
EXCERPT ENDS

Read the rest of the article at:
http://gyaku.jp/en/index.php?cmd=contentview&pid=000188

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…

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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

http://economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_RJGGNJP

“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
http://www.debito.org/?p=344
=============================

REFERENTIAL LINKS:
UN HRC SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR DOUDOU DIENE ON JAPAN’S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD
http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html

UNITED NATIONS ICERD COMMITTEE ON JAPAN’S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD (1998-2002):
http://www.debito.org/japanvsun.html
(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
http://www.debito.org/?p=255

JAPAN TIMES: U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR CHALLENGES IBUKI’S ‘HOMOGENOUS’ CLAIM
February 28, 2007

http://www.debito.org/?p=239

Transcript of FCCJ Press Conference with United Nations Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene and Arudou Debito
Feb. 26th, 2007, 12:30 to 2PM

http://www.debito.org/?p=238

Endgame on GOJ push for UNSC seat?
Asia Times January 3, 2007

http://www.debito.org/?p=173

“WE SUPPORT HUMAN RIGHTS!” JUST DON’T SCRATCH THE SURFACE.
On how Japan finagled its way onto the HRC
Japan Times November 7, 2006

http://www.debito.org/japantimes110706.html

UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL IN TROUBLE
The Economist March 22, 2007

http://www.debito.org/?p=297

Now for some better news…

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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.
http://www.debito.org/?p=324

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

http://www.debito.org/?p=341

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

http://www.debito.org/?p=340

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
http://www.debito.org/?p=340

Now that’s more like it. Speaking of coverage of Japan:

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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

http://www.debito.org/?p=333
(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…

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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
http://www.debito.org/?p=318

HARTLEY REPLIES:
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

http://www.debito.org/?p=338

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
http://www.debito.org/?p=338#comment-15197
===============================

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
http://www.debito.org/?p=321

—————————————
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?
—————————————

TURNER REPLIES:
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 REPLY:
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”
http://www.debito.org/?p=324

ANONYMOUS REPLIES:
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.”

—————————————
I REPLY:
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

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and finally…

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: asian@icu.ac.jp 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:
http://www.debito.org/index.php
Thanks for reading! Enjoy Golden Week!

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 21, 2007 ENDS

Gyaku Website: Accenture, JAPAN-VISIT, future Immig surveillance of NJ

mytest

Hello Blog. Got something very interesting to impart. In a new website entitled GYAKU, 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 who cross Japan’s borders:

Mainichi Daily News, Dec 5, 2004: “Japan seeks foreigners’ fingerprints, photos, lists to fight terror”
http://www.debito.org/mainichi120504.html

Japan Times May 24, 2005: “Here comes the fear: Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents”
http://www.debito.org/japantimes052405.html

Japan Times November 22, 2005: “THE NEW “I C YOU” CARDS: LDP proposal to computer chip foreigners has great potential for abuse”
http://www.debito.org/japantimes112205.html

Even though Japan’s NJ residents have fought long and hard (and successfully, until the police took advantage of the fear of terrorism) to end fingerprinting as part of Immigration procedure.
http://www.debito.org/fingerprinting.html

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, in a bid to get a toehold in Asia and profit 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
http://gyaku.jp/en/index.php?cmd=contentview&pid=000188

Here’s an excerpt from the article. Debito in Sapporo

======================================
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 nearly one year ago, on April 21, 2006, during questioning at the House of Representatives Committee on Judicial Affairs 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 [1]. 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 that he fought hard to publicize has barely made a ripple in the Japanese media, and remains virtually unknown to the outside world.

The background to the story reads as follows: Accenture Japan Ltd., the Japanese branch of the consulting firm Accenture, active in the Japanese market as far back as 1962 but only incorporated in Japan in 1995, 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. A program entitled US-VISIT (Visitor and Immigrant Status Information Technology) was initiated in July of 2003 with the intention to secure nearly 7000 miles of borders along Mexico and Canada, including more than 300 land, air and sea ports [2]. Described as “the centerpiece of the United States government’s efforts to transform our nation’s border management and immigration systems”, planners envisioned “a continuum of biometrically-enhanced security measures that begins outside U.S. borders and continues through a visitor’s arrival in and departure from the United States” [3].

======================
EXCERPT ENDS

Read the rest of the article at:

http://gyaku.jp/en/index.php?cmd=contentview&pid=000188
ENDS

Lunchtime Speech Mon Apr 23 at ICU, Mitaka, Tokyo

mytest

Hi Blog. Giving a speech at International Christian University (open to the public) in Mitaka, near Tokyo, next Monday. Details as follows. Debito

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

Institute of Asian Cultural Studies
ASIAN FORUM
第104回

“JAPANESE ONLY”
-The Otaru Onsens Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
「外国人おことわり」——小樽温泉訴訟と日本における外国人差別

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.

Arudou Debito

Associate Professor at Hokkaido Information University
A human rights activist
北海道情報大学准教授

Monday, April 23, 2007
 2007年4月23日(月)

Lunch Time (12:50 – 13:40)
East Room, ICU Cafeteria
大学食堂 イーストルーム

Lecture in English
英語での講演です
Everyone interested is welcome!

Coffee, tea, and cookies will be served

Institute of Asian Cultural Studies
アジア文化研究所
Tel: 0422-33-3179 Fax: 0422-33-3633 (本館255)
e-mail: asian@icu.ac.jp
http://subsite.icu.ac.jp/iacs/
ENDS

Fun Facts #3: TIME: Japan’s postwar housing shortage and the aftermath

mytest

Hi Blog. An article I found completely by chance during a walk around Kyoto a couple of years ago.

Spotted in a basket outside a boutique: Old TIME magazines, which completely by chance had issues published around when I was born (January 13, 1965). Decided on a whim to buy the issues which straddled my birthday to see what was news back then. And discovered that TS Eliot died around when I was born (January 4). Anyway, the article:

(Widen your browser or click on image to see full article)
time011565.jpg
TIME Magazine January 8, 1965

(Here’s the cover, ‘cos I love the old painted TIME magazine covers:)
time011565cover.jpg

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. And love the anecdote about this lack of space inhibiting conjugal relations…

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 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. Debito in Sapporo

———————-
PS: Another interesting article from the following week’s TIME Magazine on PM Satou follows FYI. 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. D

(Widen your browser or click on image to see full article)
time010865.jpg
ENDS

Economist: UN Human Rights Council “adrift on human rights”

mytest

Hi Blog. 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 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, these articles 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”…

Debito in Sapporo
(Referential Links follow the article)

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

BACKGROUND INFO FROM THE ECONOMIST:
The United Nations
Jan 10th 2007
(From Economist.com, from link followed from article below)

Since its foundation in 1945 the United Nations has grown in remit and size. Its main job is keeping the peace, but its Security Council is forever hobbled by squabbling over membership and doubts about its legitimacy. When the UN acts, it often fails to provide its peacekeepers with adequate means. The organisation enjoys greater success raising living standards through its specialised agencies.

Kofi Annan, the UN’s secretary-general from 1997 to 2006, presided over an organisation accused of inefficiency and scandal and subject to constant attack from America’s legislators. George Bush opposed the UN’s plans for an international court and agreements on abortion and torture, and then invaded Iraq without its backing. Mr Annan’s successor, Ban Ki-moon, may get on better with America—which would leave him with a host of other, institutional problems to face.

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

NOW THE ARTICLE:

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

Human rights: Bad counsel
THE UN ADRIFT ON HUMAN RIGHTS
THE ECONOMIST Apr 4th 2007
http://economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_RJGGNJP

“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.

This obsession with bashing Israel and turning a blind eye to so much else has disappointed those who hoped that the new council might perform better than its predecessor. Now alarm is growing that its anti-Israel bias is going to be compounded by an excessive zeal to defend the good name of religions, and especially that of Islam, at the expense of free speech.

A new resolution, proposed by Pakistan, on the need to combat the “defamation of religions”, has drawn sharp criticism from watchdogs. Human Rights Watch pointed out that a focus on the protection of religions, rather than individuals, could be used to justify curbs upon free thought and conscience. Freedom House said the resolution was inimical to free speech and constituted “a perversion of the language and institutions hitherto used to protect human rights”.

The actual wording of most of the resolution is not in fact so objectionable. After voicing concern at “attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence and human-rights violations”, it urges states to prohibit the dissemination of “racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement to racial and religious hatred, hostility or violence”. So far so good, perhaps. But it goes on to say that free expression should be exercised “with responsibility”, and may be limited in regard to “public health and morals”, and, worse still, “respect for religions and beliefs”.

There’s not much encouragement for future Voltaires in that. As a piece of advice on manners, the proposition that freedom of expression should be exercised responsibly may well be sound. As a principle on which to organise society, it is not. The right to free speech is not a right if it cannot be exercised irresponsibly and, so long as it does not promote violence, jinx trials, libel individuals without cause or, in rare circumstances, threaten national security, freely is how many feel it is best exercised. Mankind has long advanced in the slipstream of ruffled feathers: a society in which no one may cause offence is likely to moulder in unquestioning obedience to the rules of those in authority.

Of the 17 members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference on the council, all but one voted for the resolution, along with China, Russia and South Africa. Fourteen Western countries voted against, including all eight EU states, plus Japan, Ukraine and South Korea (home of the UN’s new secretary-general). Nine countries, all from the developing world, abstained.

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.

ARTICLE ENDS

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

REFERENTIAL LINKS:

UN HRC SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR DOUDOU DIENE ON JAPAN’S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD
http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html

UNITED NATIONS ICERD COMMITTEE ON JAPAN’S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD (1998-2002):
http://www.debito.org/japanvsun.html
(Note that Japan is now five years late on handing in its biennial report on human rights to the ICERD Committee…)

Washington Times on UN Diene visit, Ibuki, Gaijin Hanzai mag etc
Insular power poses unique issues on bias
Published March 9, 2007 Washington Times
By Takehiko Kambayashi
http://www.debito.org/?p=255

Japan Times: U.N. special rapporteur challenges Ibuki’s ‘homogenous’ claim
February 28, 2007
http://www.debito.org/?p=239

Transcript of Press Conference with United Nations Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene and Debito Arudou at Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan
Feb. 26th, 2007, 12:30 to 2PM
http://www.debito.org/?p=238

Endgame on GOJ push for UNSC seat?
Japan’s eyes still on UN seat
Asia Times January 3, 2007
http://www.debito.org/?p=173

Japan Times: JAPAN’S DISINGENUOUSNESS
“We support human rights!” Just don’t scratch the surface.
On how Japan finagled its way onto the newfound HRC, November 7, 2006
http://www.debito.org/japantimes110706.html

PLUS: ECONOMIST: Human Rights Council in Trouble (March 22, 2007)
http://www.debito.org/?p=297

ENDS

Kyodo on LEE Soo Im, ethnic Korean-J activist and scholar

mytest

Now here’s something more in depth from the Japanese media. Thanks Kyodo.

I know Lee Sensei as she cites Debito.org in:
Lee, Soo im; Murphy-Shigematsu, Stephen; and Befu, Harumi, eds., “JAPAN’S DIVERSITY DILEMMAS”. iUniverse Inc. 2006. ISBN 0-595-36257-5. Two citations, in Chapter 4 (Murphy-Shigematsu, “Diverse Forms of Minority National Identities in Japan’s Multicultural Society”, pp. 75-99) and Chapter 5 (Lee, “The Cultural Exclusiveness of Ethnocentrism: Japan’s Treatment of Foreign Residents”, pp. 100-125).

Read on. Debito in Sapporo

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

FOCUS: Koreans’ struggle casts fresh light on Japanese immigration debate
NEW YORK, March 28 2007 KYODO NEWS

http://home.kyodo.co.jp/modules/fstStory/index.php?storyid=306223
Thanks to Matt Dioguardi for notifying me.

Debates over whether or not to import more foreign workers have always been a thorny issue in Japan, but it came to bear an extra sense of urgency when the country’s total fertility rate dropped to a new record low of 1.25 in 2005.

While foreigners still comprise about 1 percent 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.

Her maternal grandfather had a job in Tokyo, but never returned after the massive 1923 Kanto Earthquake. Through various contacts, the family learned that he was among about 6,000 Koreans killed by vigilantes acting on rumors that Koreans were planning a riot.

At the end of World War II, Korean population in Japan totaled over 2 million, swelling through forced conscriptions to make up for labor shortages in the Japanese mainland.

For a few years after 1945, Koreans in Japan were still considered Japanese citizens. But their citizenship was revoked abruptly in 1952 as Japan regained independence that year.

Becoming foreigners in the country they have already settled in, Koreans in Japan faced enormous hurdles in the coming decades, denied a variety of rights including social welfare and national pension.

While Japan’s ratification of the 1982 refugee recognition treaty, which barred nationality-based discrimination, improved the situation to some extent, unspoken discrimination in jobs, bank loans, housing and marriages persisted.

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.

Financing her tuition with money she saved by teaching English and mathematics in Japan, Lee taught English to immigrants’ children in the United States, majoring in teaching English as a second language at the University of California, Los Angeles, and at Boston State College.

”I got a lot of hope, and courage from these immigrants, especially Korean children. They were telling me, ‘Teacher, one day we want to be like you.”

While in the United States, Lee also met her Iranian husband and gave birth to a daughter in Boston. Having little desire of returning to Japan, the family was set to move to Iran, but the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980 made this impossible.

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.

Fortunately, demand for English teachers was growing at the time, and Lee managed to find a secure job as a general director at an English language institute.

Her career bloomed, but seeking a fresh challenge, Lee applied for a teaching post at Ryukoku and was hired by the 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 was told, ‘Why don’t you become a pure Japanese? That way, you could avoid discrimination, and your life will be better off,”’ Lee said.

”I said no. I want to naturalize, of course, to make my status more established, but I want to naturalize to make my presence become more visible in the society.”

Growing up, Lee used a Japanese name and hid her ethnicity until she was 18, when she decided to receive a high school diploma in her Korean name after a long struggle over her identity.

”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.

While the Japanese perception toward Koreans got a lift in recent years thanks largely to the Korean pop culture, there is a backlash by nationalists, in addition to a move to reinstate patriotic education, a trend she is particularly concerned about.

Lee forecasts that the Japanese attitude toward immigrants will not change unless the situation ”really hits the bottom.” But she believes Japan can no longer expect foreigners to choose between assimilation and exclusion under the forces of globalization.

”I love Japan and fighting against the system is my way of showing patriotism to my country,” Lee said.
==Kyodo

Asahi: SMJ protests proposed “compulsory reporting of foreign workers” bill

mytest

Hi Blog. I included this a part of my previous newsletter, but I’ve found that things tend to get buried in long posts if they don’t come out as individual blog entries (and it’s harder for people to comment and discuss). So here you go:

People often say that human rights are a low priority in Japan, or that the Japanese polity 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. Witness this:

======================================
ASSEMBLY TO PROTEST PROPOSED LAW REVISION
TO MAKE OBLIGATORY CORPORATE REPORTING OF FOREIGN WORKERS
Asahi Shinbun April 10, 2007

(Thanks to Mark Schreiber. Translated by Arudou Debito, original Japanese at
http://www.debito.org/?p=339)

On April 10, civil rights groups, including “Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan” (Imin Roudousha to Rentai suru Zenkoku Network), convened an assembly at the Diet’s Upper House Kaikan in Nagatacho, Tokyo, to protest a proposed revision to the labor laws requiring all companies to report their foreign workers to the authorities.

The groups oppose the proposal out of concerns for potential privacy concerns and discrimination towards foreign workers.

The proposed revision expressly aims to improve the general employment situation, where foreigners are employed illegally or under horrendous conditions, to make clear the responsibility of the employer and create an appropriate administration of employment.

Up to now this reporting was optional. Making this obligatory with fines for all companies, the new system will be expanded to require workers’ names, ages, and visa status.

April 10’s assembly had the participation of human rights lawyers and foreign workers. By strengthening administrative powers, “This law will take away foreign laborers’ employment opportunities, and make discrimination a fixed practice,” they protested.
ENDS
======================================

COMMENT: Based on this article alone, it’s hard for the reader to understand what SMJ is all up in arms about. They sound jinken baka (human-rights-oriented to a fault). Space concerns notwithstanding, I wish the reporter had given more depth to the counterarguments involved.

In SMJ’s own words (sorry, only in Japanese):
http://www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net/Japanese/Japanese.html
(see the first article dated March 23, 2007)

The point is, people do protest these things. And if the media paid more attention, so would the rest of Japan. Even the English version of the Asahi didn’t think this worthy of translation for the Anglophone community. Doing my best to rectify that at Debito.org, Arudou Debito in Sapporo

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 14, 2007

mytest

Morning everyone:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 14, 2007

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) ANSWER FROM ALEX KERR re HIS JAPAN TIMES COMMENTS
2) TAKAHASHI SPEECH ON REMILITARIZING JAPAN AT U OF CHICAGO
3) LATEST CRAZINESS FROM J JUDICIARY: SURROGATE MOTHERHOOD
4) NATURALIZED KOREAN-J RUNS FOR OSAKA PREF ASSEMBLY
5) PROTEST RE LABOR BILL: COMPANIES MUST REPORT THEIR FOREIGN WORKERS
6) SUCCESSFUL PROTEST: CHANGING “TORUKO” TO “SOAPLAND”
7) JAPAN TIMES: SHIGA GOVERNOR BACKS ANTI-DISCRIM LAW

and finally…
NORTHERN TERRITORIES DISPUTE… OVER A CASE OF BEER
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan

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

1) ANSWER FROM ALEX KERR RE HIS JAPAN TIMES COMMENTS

I wrote last newsletter (http://www.debito.org/?p=321) about DOGS AND DEMONS author Alex Kerr’s rather dismissive comments in the Japan Times a while back, re the methods people (particularly me) utilize to raise issues in Japan. They weren’t The Japanese Way, in his view. Then a bowdlerized version of his comments were used in Wikipedia’s Arudou Debito entry. Matt Dioguardi then provided historical context to show that the trend of silencing the minority voice through ideological social othering is a timeworn tactic (not that Alex was consciously aiming to do that).

Within 24 hours, Alex commented back:

============ ALEX’S RESPONSE =================
April 7, 2007 8:41:47 PM JST
Dear Debito, Alex Kerr here. I see that there has been some discussion in your newsletter about my Japan Times interview of Oct 2005. It goes to show that you can never be too careful about what you say, because it lives on for years, and can even reappear and be enshrined (in distorted form) on Wikipedia.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that in the meantime I’ve become quite an admirer of yours — to the extent that I’m a regular reader of your newsletter, and have recommended it to many friends. As you can see from the original Japan Times interview, my take even at that time was basically favorable. Since then I’ve learned more about what you do, and I’m greatly impressed by the thoroughness with which you approach the various gaijin and racism issues in Japan. Among other things, your newsletter is a goldmine of information, which is why I’ve become an avid reader.

I must admit that I began by feeling not very comfortable with your approach — but this could be due to personal circumstances and preferences. I understand that you are doing things in the Japanese way in the sense that you pursue official legal and social channels. At the same time, your style is undoubtedly combative: confronting people with what they are doing and facing them with the consequences.

It’s the not way I work personally, and my own experience is that the Japanese have welcomed and accepted the very critical things I say because my style is to speak quietly, from “within”. However, this is appropriate to my work, which is mostly in the field of traditional culture, tourism, city planning, and the environment. Those are fields in which the classic Japanese low-key and sympathetic attitude works.

But given the field which is your specialty, there is no doubt that a stronger, more direct approach is appropriate. You are bringing these issues into consciousness in the media and among society at large in a way that the traditional quiet approach could never succeed in doing. Otherwise, what you have to say would disappear in the usual muffled silence that surrounds these issues in Japan.

It’s proof that there is no one way to do things. For me, the old-style Japanese way works. For you, there’s a different way — and I respect that.

As I understand it, anyone can write in and edit a Wikipedia entry. So I suggest that you, or a friend of yours, amend that Wikipedia article to indicate that I wholly support your activities and your methods. I think I speak for many foreigners resident in Japan when I say that I feel very grateful that you’re out there paying attention. Best wishes, Alex
============ RESPONSE ENDS =================

Somebody then altered Wikipedia to reflect this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arudou_Debito). Thanks to Alex for commenting so quickly, thoroughly, and positively.

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

2) TAKAHASHI SPEECH ON REMILITARIZING JAPAN AT U OF CHICAGO

Great speech (available as a podcast from the link below) from the University of Chicago’s International and Area Studies Multimedia Outreach Service (CHIASMOS). (Thanks to Fiona for notifying me):

==================================
“Postwar Japan on the Brink: Militarism, Colonialism, Yasukuni Shrine”
by Professor Tetsuya Takahashi, University of Tokyo

March 6, 2007

Professor Takahashi’s writings, including his 2005 bestseller, The Yasukuni Issue, make unmistakably clear that the role of the Shrine is antithetical to democratic values in Japan and to reconciliation with Asia, which requires acknowledgment of the harms inflicted through colonialism and war. The subject of his lecture is Japan at a crossroads today, its hard-won postwar democratic values at stake as never before.
==================================

Available as a podcast and/or video at:
http://chiasmos.uchicago.edu/events/takahashi.shtml

Delivered in Japanese, with excellent translation by Dr. Norma Field (author, “In the Realm of a Dying Emperor”, http://ealc.uchicago.edu/faculty/field.shtml), there are no excuses for not listening on either side of the linguistic fence!

EXCERPT (minute 120):
==================================
“At the outset of my talk, I referred to the Tomita Memorandum as having been used by those who wanted to criticize the Prime Minister’s official visits to Yasukuni Shrine. However, I think that in the medium future, it is possible that that memorandum could be used in the opposite way–i.e. to clear the way for official visits by the Emperor himself. This past summer, in 2006, Foreign Minister Aso, an extremely influential politician, proposed that in order to revive the path for Imperial worship, the [Yasukuni] Shrine should be nationalized again. Such a proposal by such an influential politician is one we can not afford to overlook.

“It is the case that between 1969 and 1974, the LDP proposed legislation that would remove Yasukuni Shrine from its non-special status and make it again subject to State support. However, in that period, from 1969 to 1974, there was too strong a worry that this would lead to the revival of militarism, and this legislation was not enacted. However, now, thirty years later, influential politicians in the LDP are stating that the State should remove, according to its own judgment, the Class-A War Criminals from Yasukuni Shrine, secure the understanding of China and Korea, and then make it possible to nationalize Yasukuni Shrine, make it possible for Yasukuni Shrine to have regular visits from the Prime Minister and the Emperor.

“I think that what I laid out earlier is that Triadic System stands a very good chance of being revived now. Namely, with the revision of Article 9, and the establishment of a force that is openly recognized to be an army, with the revision of the Fundamental Law of Education already effected in December of 2006 building in patriotic education. And then, the possibility of nationalizing Yasukuni Shrine–so that if there are deaths on the battlefield that occur, given the newly-established army, then these people will be enshrined in the national shrine and honored by the Prime Minister and the Emperor.

“I hope that you can understand now why I cannot accept that the problem of Article 9 is merely a problem with the Class-A War Criminals. I should have added that all these things could be happening according to this scenario with no objections coming from China and Korea*because the Class-A War Criminals have been disposed of.”
==================================
(Transcript by Arudou Debito)

Very eye-opening talk, and well worth the listen during your commute to work. I’ve been in touch with Dr Field since, and feel a very verdant shade of envy over her translation abilities!

Shifting gears from sense to nonsense:

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3) LATEST CRAZINESS FROM J JUDICIARY: SURROGATE MOTHERHOOD

In his fascinating new JAPAN LAW blog (http://www.redhead.jp/japanlaw) by friend Joe Jones, charting developments which interest the foreign lawyer (gaiben) community, we have yet another facet of Japanese citizenship up for dispute:

The trend for infertile couples to seek Surrogate Mothers (i.e., and at the risk of sounding a bit crass: borrowing another woman’s womb to bring a child to term after in vitro fertilization and surgical impregnation).

Japan’s Supreme Court recently ruled that the woman giving birth, not the woman who contributed her DNA, is to be recognized as the legal mother. Now throw in the new question of paternity (“he’s my dad, but she’s not my mom… er, what?”) and you have yet another forehead-slapper from our ever-sagacious judiciary.

Defeats the whole purpose of Surrogate Motherhood, in my view, and throws in extra monkey wrenches should Japanese wish to use extranational surrogates to help with Japan’s low birthrate. (This is precisely what happened; see article from China Post below.)

The Japanese government (and the popular public) has long had the unofficial attitude that the uterus is the Property of the State, not the property of the mother (shikyuu (or hara) wa karimono) (See “WOMENSWORD” by Kittredge Cherry, p 87-88). So I guess this is the next logical extension.

I initially blogged this even though it is not really a “foreigner issue” (except to say people had better not outsource overseas if they want their babies to have Japanese nationality, let alone legal ties to mom).

But then something happened on April 11 which made it *precisely* a foreigner issue. More after Joe’s report…

===================================
SURROGATE CHILDREN ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE SURROGATE
Posted by Joe Jones April 3, 2007

The Supreme Court ruled on March 24 that children born to a surrogate mother are not legally the children of their biological parents. The Court came to this conclusion based on the Civil Code provision (art. 772) that maternity is recognized by giving birth to the child. The Court also deemed that enforcing a US court order which reached the opposite conclusion would violate public policy. This overturns a Tokyo High Court ruling passed down in October, which recognized the parental rights of the biological parents.

The story here is not that the Supreme Court is against surrogate parents. Rather, they give priority to strict construction of the Civil Code, which was drafted long before surrogate parenting was on the horizon. This viewpoint almost invites the Diet to pass a new statute to fill out this hole–an especially likely proposition when you consider that the mother of these children is a TV personality who will probably push for public support. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is being characteristically mum about the whole thing, however, so this may require more publicity before it moves forward.

Why not adopt? For one thing, the children’s “natural mother” would forever be recorded in the family’s koseki (family register), the document which evidences their relationship. Paternity may be an interesting issue as well. Under the Civil Code, there is a presumption that a child was sired by the husband of its mother. The mother’s husband may disavow paternity, and another man may claim paternity, but either claim must go through the Family Court, one of Japan’s more well-traveled bureaucratic nightmares. Until the paternity of the biological father is established, the children may not even be construed as Japanese citizens.

See PDF of the decision at
http://www.redhead.jp/japanlaw/2007/04/03/surrogate-children-are-the-children-of-the-surrogate/
============================
============================
JAPAN COURT REJECTS SURROGATE TWINS
The China Post 2007/3/24

By Carl Freire TOKYO, AP
http://www.chinapost.com.tw/news/archives/asiapacific/2007324/105406.htm

…The nation’s top court struck down a September 2006 Tokyo High Court decision ordering a local government to accept Aki Mukai, a television personality, and her husband Nobuhiko Takada’s registration of their two boys…

The Supreme Court cited in its decision a Japanese law that presumes the woman who gives birth to a child is its mother.

…Mukai can no longer have children of her own after undergoing a hysterectomy because of cancer.

Friday’s ruling upheld a November 2005 Tokyo Family Court verdict that found in favor of the local government’s decision to reject their registration request. Local authorities had refused to register the twins because the Justice Ministry said Mukai could not be recognized as the boys’ mother…

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the case highlighted the need for discussion and debate. “How we should think about the parent-child relationship is a fundamental problem for us as human beings,” Abe told reporters Friday evening.
============================
ENDS

Then on April 12, 2007, TV show Tokudane did a long report on Mukai and Takada:

They refused to file paperwork to acknowledge the paternity of husband Takada over their two children within a deadline, which was April 12. Because, according to the show:

———————————————-
1) The mother of the children would be listed as “Cindy” (the surrogate), not Mukai Aki.
2) “Cindy” legally relinquished all ties to the children, and a Nevada court established the full parentage of Mukai and Takada over the twins.
3) They promised both Cindy and the courts that “Cindy” would be fully left out of future proceedings.
4) The inability of Japanese courts to uphold Nevada court rulings and birth certificates (based upon Meiji-Era laws which are based upon ancient ways of establishing parentage–since modern methods, such as DNA testing, didn’t exist) would make registering “Cindy” an illegal act (in Nevada), and the breaking of a promise made to her.

———————————————-

Meaning that now Mukai and Takada are the proud parents of two American (and only American) citizens, since the courts have refused Mukai maternity status, and there is no other way to establish citizenship (except by legal adoption–which will still not resolve the problem of listing the surrogate mother) through the Koseki system. As the show pointed out, this means:

———————————————-
1) The children (now three years old) must get visas, and keep renewing them.
2) The children must register as foreigners, and carry Gaijin Cards 24-7, or face criminal charges, once they reach Junior-High age.
3) The children have no automatic right to compulsory education (gimu kyouiku), guaranteed only to citizens in Japan.
4) The children cannot vote.
5) The children cannot participate in the democratic process.
6) The children have no automatic inheritance rights (short of the parents writing a Will).

———————————————-

Now my opinion: I’m very proud of Mukai and Takada standing up for themselves like this. The ruling is ludicrous. And it may inspire lawmakers to update the citizenship laws to reflect modern realities.

Moreover, this case (attracting great attention due to the couple’s celebrity status) might even point out what a raw deal foreigners have in Japan (particularly regarding education and inheritance), even if they ARE born here.

SOME REFERENTIAL LINKS ON THE CASE:

Japan Times Saturday, March 24, 2007. “Top court: No registry for pair born to surrogate”
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070324a3.html

Japan Times Wednesday, Apr. 4, 2007. “READERS IN COUNCIL Shoddy ruling on baby twins”
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/rc20070404a4.html

Tokyo High Court’s reasoning in 2005 when rejecting Mukai and Takada’s case (basing it more upon public morals than maternity issues):
Japan Times: Tuesday, May 24, 2005 “High court rejects registering babies by surrogate mother”:

Presiding Judge Sota Tanaka of the Osaka High Court: “Surrogate birth poses a serious humanitarian concern as it treats a person as a reproductive tool and causes danger to a third person through pregnancy and giving birth. The contract for such surrogate births violates public order and morals and is invalid, as it could cause a serious feud over the child.”
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/nn20050524a5.html

The Nanny State, which refuses to believe that individuals can contract between themselves and decide their own best interests (even when it comes to reproductive rights), strikes again.

Now for a follow-up to last Sunday’s election:

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

4) NATURALIZED KOREAN-J RUNS FOR OSAKA PREF ASSEMBLY

Here’s a campaign I was not aware of (again, Sapporo is a long, long way from Tokyo and Osaka): A naturalized Korean-Japanese’s campaign for a prefectural seat in Osaka, campaigning his Korean roots overtly.

I’m not going to spoil the surprise and tell you how it turned out until the end of the article…

=================================
FOREIGN VOICE
Asahi Shinbun 04/06/2007

By Hiroshi Matsubara, Staff writer
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200704060113.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=338

TAKATSUKI, Osaka Prefecture: Lee Kyung Jae has repeatedly urged Korean children in Japan to cherish their ethnic roots. He has arranged festivals that promote Korean culture and long battled discrimination directed at Korean communities.

But to take his efforts to the next level, Lee, a 53-year-old second-generation Korean resident of Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, did what had been considered unthinkable: He gave up his long-cherished Korean nationality.

Members of Korean communities have argued that one’s nationality is essential to their identities. Yet when they seek voting rights for foreign residents in Japan, they are met with the legal provision that only Japanese citizens can cast ballots.

So Lee and others decided to take an ironic method. They obtained Japanese nationality to bring the voices of foreign residents to local and national politics.

“As I have spent all my life as a minority, I am keenly aware of the rights of the elderly, the disabled and others who are regarded as socially weak,” he told passers-by at JR Settsu-Tonda Station recently.

“I would like to ask voters to sympathize with the sentiments of foreign residents and allow me to become the first Korean-Japanese assembly member in Osaka,” he said…

He is the first candidate of foreign origin who has run in a local or national election on a campaign to represent the interests of an ethnic group, according to the Korean Residents’ Union in Japan (Mindan)….

After graduating from high school, Lee set up a citizens group to teach Korean children about their ethnic roots and to organize cultural festivals. He was also involved in human rights movements for non-Japanese, including the campaign aimed at abolishing the mandatory fingerprinting of foreigners for their alien registration.

In addition, he has joined the movement for foreign residents’ suffrage in local elections since the early 1990s.

Although Lee has won praise for his work, his campaign faces a serious problem: Many members of his main support base are not allowed to vote.

At the end of 2005, Osaka had 142,712 people with Korean nationalities, or 24 percent of 598,687 Koreans nationwide.

Lee is now counting on Koreans who have obtained Japanese nationality, whose number may exceed those who have maintained their Korean nationalities.

“Many ethnic Koreans apparently opt to live as Japanese by hiding their ethnic origins, and I hope my campaign will be an opportunity for them to solidify their ethnic identity or to openly express it to their Japanese neighbors,” Lee said….

Lee estimates that his electoral district of Takatsuki and the town of Shimamoto have several thousand Korean-Japanese who are eligible to vote. He said he will need about 13,000 votes to win a seat on the prefectural assembly. That means he needs votes from the Japanese as well…

“But even if my campaign ends in failure, I hope it will encourage future generations to aspire to become political representatives of their ethnic group.”

During a preliminary campaign for the Upper House election in July, Kim Jeong Ok, a second-generation Korean in Tokyo, recently visited local chapters of Mindan. He asked Mindan members to collect votes from Japanese members of their families, as well as neighbors and ethnic Koreans who have obtained Japanese nationality.

“I decided to run for the election because the relatively homogeneous composition of the Diet is the primary cause of the rapid nationalistic swing of politics today,” Kim, 51, said.

Kim, who works at a nonprofit organization that supports disabled people, obtained Japanese nationality in December 2005 in a bid to campaign in the Upper House election. He will run on the ticket of opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) in the proportional representation part of the election.

But Kim said his campaign will not be easy. Even his relatives, including five siblings, who use Japanese names will not openly support him for fear of revealing their ethnicity…. (IHT/Asahi: April 6,2007) ENDS
===========================

ELECTION RESULTS:
Mr Lee lost. Badly. There were five seats to fill, six candidates. Here are the numbers, courtesy of the Osaka Prefectural Election Admin Committee:

===========================
LDP YOSHIDA Toshiyuki 30,385 votes
Komei HAYASHI Kenji 27,921
DPJ OHMAE Hideyo 26,980
JCP MIYAHARA Takeshi 20,342
SDP OZAWA Fukuko 19,475
Unaffiliated I Kyon Je (LEE Kyung Jae) 2,543

TOTAL 127,646 votes
===========================

He’s at the bottom. Not even close. Ouch.

Rumor had it (from–where else–2-channel etc.) that he wanted to discriminate against Japanese after he got elected (“nan to shite mo Nihonjin o sabetsu shite shinitai”).
http://www.osaka-minkoku.info/news/20070409-1068.htm
Hard to believe he would be so stupid to say something like that.

But I can’t seem to find a website dedicated to his campaign telling his own story and combatting this smear campaign. That’s pretty odd too.

Matt Dioguardi did find more sites (with his last name rendered in kanji as “LEE”, not hiragana “I”) with the possible speech taken out of context:
http://www.debito.org/?p=338#comment-15197

But since image is everything in these sorts of things, Mr Lee should have done something to make it easier for casual or harried researchers to hear his side. Pity. Anyway, thanks for trying.

Now then, let’s shift focus to two protests done by minorities in Japan, one in progress, one that worked:

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

5) PROTEST RE LABOR BILL: COMPANIES MUST REPORT THEIR FOREIGN WORKERS

======================================
ASSEMBLY TO PROTEST PROPOSED LAW REVISION
TO MAKE OBLIGATORY CORPORATE REPORTING OF FOREIGN WORKERS
Asahi Shinbun April 10, 2007

(Translated by Arudou Debito, original Japanese at
http://www.debito.org/?p=339

On April 10, civil rights groups, including “Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan” (Imin Roudousha to Rentai suru Zenkoku Network), convened an assembly at the Diet’s Upper House Kaikan in Nagatacho, Tokyo, to protest a proposed revision to the labor laws requiring all companies to report their foreign workers to the authorities.

The groups oppose the proposal out of concerns for potential privacy concerns and discrimination towards foreign workers.

The proposed revision expressly aims to improve the general employment situation, where foreigners are employed illegally or under horrendous conditions, to make clear the responsibility of the employer and create an appropriate administration of employment.

Up to now this reporting was optional. Making this obligatory with fines for all companies, the new system will be expanded to require workers’ names, ages, and visa status.

April 10’s assembly had the participation of human rights lawyers and foreign workers. By strengthening administrative powers, “This law will take away foreign laborers’ employment opportunities, and make discrimination a fixed practice,” they protested.
ENDS
======================================

COMMENT: Based on this article alone, it’s hard for the reader to understand what SMJ is all up in arms about. They sound “jinken baka” (human-rights-oriented to a fault). Space concerns notwithstanding, I wish the reporter had given more depth to the counterarguments involved.

In SMJ’s own words (sorry, only in Japanese):
http://www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net/Japanese/Japanese.html
(see the first article dated March 23, 2007)

The point is, people do protest these things. They just don’t get sufficient coverage. Likewise the following, from the Mainichi talking about a man who apparently single-handedly got the word “Toruko” (Turkish bath) signs removed from what are now “Soaplands” etc. (places which offer deluxe massages, if you will):

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

6) SUCCESSFUL PROTEST: CHANGING “TORUKO” TO “SOAPLAND”

==============================
PERSONALITY PROFILE:
MR NUSRET SANCAKLI, THE PERSON WHO GOT “TORUKO” (TURK) REMOVED FROM “SOAPLANDS”

Mainichi Shinbun, March 7, 2007. Translated by Arudou Debito. Original Japanese at
http://www.mainichi-msn.co.jp/shakai/wadai/news/20070407k0000m070152000c.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=322

…It was 1981 when Mr Sancakli came to Japan from Turkey [rendered in Japanese as “Toruko”] as an exchange student to study earthquakes, and had been here about six months. In the evening twilight he saw a place named after his home country and went to investigate.

“We got a gaijin here,” he heard from inside, and several women in their undergarments appeared. [It was a brothel.] He couldn’t understand how this country he loved and his home country could have gone so far off track. He thought about his 19-year-old wife, Hadie, who had also accompanied him to Japan, and locked his feelings deep inside.

But one day, when he and his wife on the way home by subway, an elderly woman asked where they were from. She was still a bit rusty in Japanese, so she answered, “I go to Toruko with him”. The old women began to shake and blush, to Mrs Sancakli’s embarrassment. So he explained to his wife for the first time what “Toruko” meant in Japan: “Turkish baths”*with sexual services.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” she said over and over, and said she wanted to go back home to Turkey. So Sancakli said , “If it’s the last thing I do, I promise you I’ll get ‘Toruko’ off those signs.”

He came back to Japan in the summer of 1984. He went on a pilgrimage to tell politicians and the media what a “hammam”, a real Turkish bath, was like. There were instant repercussions, and within a few months all “Toruko” signs were gone [and changed into “Soaplands”]….
ENDS
=========================

Essentially, the article depicts Mr Sancakli as a man motivated by shame and love of his wife, country, and Japan. Fine. But somehow I don’t think it’s so simple that he spoke to some media and politicians and they automatically saw the error of their ways–and within a few months got “Toruko” nationwide to change their signs at their own expense.

Call me cynical, but it’s gotta be a little more behind it than that. A bit of pressure from the Turkish government, perhaps? Anybody out there know? Wish the article had bothered to tell us.

What old friend Wikipedia has to say (in a surprisingly thorough entry from people in the field):

=========================
Soaplands were originally called toruko-buro meaning Turkish bath. A Turkish scholar, Nusret Sancakli, set off on a newspaper campaign to denounce Japan’s Turkish girls and the so-called Turkish baths they worked in,”[2] and the word “soapland” was the winning entry in a nationwide contest to rename the brothels.[3]

Footnotes: Peter Constantine, Japan’s Sex Trade: A Journey Through Japan’s Erotic Subcultures, (Tokyo: Yenbooks, 1993), 37-8.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soapland
=========================

Anyway, I offer this up to show that once again, it is possible for one person to make a difference. Well done, Mr Sancakli.

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

7) JAPAN TIMES: SHIGA GOVERNOR BACKS ANTI-DISCRIM LAW

Sorry to be months late on this one: A Japan Times article from last August I missed because I was doing one of my cycletreks around Hokkaido. Better late than never.

==============================
SHIGA GOVERNOR BACKS ANTIDISCRIMINATION LAW
The Japan Times Thursday, Aug. 24, 2006

By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20060824a2.html
Courtesy of The Community and Steve Silver

OSAKA: Shiga Gov. Yukiko Kada said Wednesday [August 23, 2006] she generally supports the creation of a national law to ban racial discrimination.

“Yes, at first glance, I support such a law,” Kada said. “But Shiga Prefecture still needs more hard data on the condition of foreign residents before deciding what policies to support.”

In May, nearly 80 human rights groups around Japan, and the United Nations, urged the country to enact legislation to guarantee the rights of foreigners and to show people thinking of moving here that the government will protect their legal rights.

However, many people in the central government and business who are pushing for more foreign labor oppose legislating against discrimination. Some say it would be better to change the attitude of society to be more tolerant of foreigners…

Shiga has about 30,000 foreigners, including about 14,000 Japanese- Brazilians. In the Kansai region, it has the largest ratio of foreign residents who have moved there in the last two decades to Japanese. Many of them came to work in auto-parts factories.

“Compared with Gunma and Shizuoka prefectures, which also have large populations of Japanese-Brazilians, the debates and policy measures for integrating foreigners into the community have not advanced very far in Shiga,” she said.
ENDS
==============================

Point is, there are indeed people in the government, particularly at the local level, who see sense and speak it: Japan needs a law to ban racial and other forms of discrimination. They are doing things in their own way which shouldn’t be overlooked.

As I have written before, some local governments are abolishing the “Nationality Clause”. Tottori Prefecture even passed its own anti-discrimination law (before it was UNpassed months later). Several city governments around Gifu and Shizuoka Prefectures themselves have been working since 2001 (starting from a signed declaration called the Hamamatsu Sengen) to get the national government to take specific measures to secure better systems re education, social security, and registration for their NJ residents. (Links to dedicated websites on these events from http://www.debito.org/?p=323)

Even though the mayor of Hamamatsu (Mr Kitawaki) recently lost his seat, a student friend of mine offered this brief comment:

==============================
“I don’t know what Kitawaki’s replacement will mean for Hamamatsu in particular, but the gaikokujin shuujuutoshi kaigi seems pretty well institutionalized by now. More and more cities are joining in making appeals to the central government–I think the count is up to 18 cities now. And I think next year the leadership goes to Minokamo-shi in Gifu prefecture, where the mayor is fairly dedicated to foreigner policies. Will keep you updated when I hear more and write all of this down.”
==============================

An aside: Notice how the JT article mentions the typical “chicken-and-egg” arguments which keep derailing the debate: Change society before changing the law.

Sort of like asking rapists and stalkers nicely to desist their naughtiness before you pass a law against rape and stalking.

It’s preposterous, but, I might add, historically not unique to Japan. Read some of the arguments raised in the Lincoln-Douglas Slavery Debates of 1858 (http://www.nps.gov/archive/liho/debates.htm) or by the US South supporting segregation in the 1950s, and you’ll see remarkable similarities in the points raised by people on the wrong side of history.

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

and finally…
NORTHERN TERRITORIES DISPUTE… OVER A CASE OF BEER

Finishing up with some humor. Nothing like a little casual illegal entry to help make one of the world’s disputed borders (the Northern Territories, islands seized by USSR at the end of WWII and reason why there is no peace treaty to this day (only an armistice) between Japan and Russia) more disputed.

Especially when Russian news agency TASS reports that it’s over a case of beer.

============================
RUSSIAN FISHERMEN DROPPING INTO JAPAN TO BUY BEER DETAINED
ITAR-TASS 08.04.2007, 06.20

http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=11413576&PageNum=0

TOKYO, April 8 (Itar-Tass): A Russian fisherman catching sea urchins decided to “drop into” Japan quickly to buy beer and was arrested on Saturday for illegally entering the country.

The incident took place in Nemuro on the eastern coast of Hokkaido close to the Southern Kuriles.

The Japanese police said, referring to the detained man’s words, that he together with his colleagues fished near the Southern Kuriles. While his fellow fishermen picked sea urchins from the seabed, the 29-year-old man decided to quickly go on a rubber pneumatic boat with an engine to Nemuro to buy beer. He presented a 10,000-yen bill (about 83 dollars) and bought a box of bottles of beer.

However, members of a local fishing cooperative informed police about the suspicious boat, and the police thwarted the attempt of the man, who had no documents to enter Japan, to leave Nemuro.

The man was arrested at 11:48 local time (06:48 Moscow time), about an hour after he reached the coast. He remained in the police office in Nemuro. The police suppose the fisherman had no bad intentions, but say he had alcohol smell.

Japanese authorities informed the Vladivostok sea rescue centre that the detained person was a crewmember from a Russian schooner. Supposedly, the vessel is from the Sakhalin port of Nevelsk.

The Nemuro police do not remember such incidents happening ever before. At the same time, 30 years ago, in 1977, Soviet border guards detained a Japanese who managed to swim to Signalny Island that is within the territory claimed by Japan.
============================
Thanks to http://www.fuckedgaijin.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17556

And as the posters of this site poignantly ask, whatever happened to the beer?

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

All for now. Thanks for reading!

Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FOR APRIL 14, 2007 ENDS

朝日:外国人労働者の雇用報告義務化改正案に反対集会

mytest

ブロクの皆様、どうぞ:
=========================
外国人労働者の雇用報告義務化改正案に反対集会
朝日新聞 2007年04月10日21時17分
http://www.asahi.com/life/update/0410/TKY200704100350.html

 外国人労働者の雇用状況の報告を全企業に義務づける雇用対策法改正案について、外国人労働者へのプライバシー侵害や差別を助長するとして、市民団体「移住労働者と連帯する全国ネットワーク」などが10日、東京・永田町の参議院議員会館で、改正に反対する集会を開いた。

 改正案は、外国人の不法就労や劣悪な雇用環境を改善するため、企業の責任を明確にして適正に雇用管理をさせるのがねらい。これまで任意だった雇用状況の報告を罰則付きで全企業に義務づけ、報告内容も個人の名前や年齢、在留資格などに拡大する。

 この日の集会には人権問題に取り組む弁護士や外国人労働者らが参加。法改正による雇用管理の強化は「外国人労働者の就労機会を奪い、差別の固定化につながる」などと反対した。
ENDS

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

コメント:この記事だけを読むと、何が講義のネタなのかは分かりにくいですね。記事のスペースが限られているのは分かるが、もっと詳しく反論を描写して欲しかったのです。

当ネットワークのサイトを参考にして下さい。

2007/3/23 外国人雇用状況届出の義務化に反対する−雇用対策法改定案に係る意見書
http://www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net/Japanese/Japanese.html

有道 出人

Takahashi speech at U of Chicago: “Militarism, Colonialism, Yasukuni Shrine”

mytest

Hi Blog. Great speech (available as a podcast from the link below) from the University of Chicago’s International and Area Studies Multimedia Outreach Service (CHIASMOS) (Thanks to Fiona for notifying me):

==================================
“Postwar Japan on the Brink: Militarism, Colonialism, Yasukuni Shrine”
by Professor Tetsuya Takahashi, University of Tokyo
March 6, 2007

Professor Takahashi’s writings, including his 2005 bestseller, The Yasukuni Issue, make unmistakably clear that the role of the Shrine is antithetical to democratic values in Japan and to reconciliation with Asia, which requires acknowledgment of the harms inflicted through colonialism and war. The subject of his lecture is Japan at a crossroads today, its hard-won postwar democratic values at stake as never before.

Professor Takahashi teaches philosophy in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo.
==================================

Available as a podcast and/or video at:
http://chiasmos.uchicago.edu/events/takahashi.shtml

Delivered in Japanese, with excellent translation by Dr. Norma Field (author, “In the Realm of a Dying Emperor”), there are no excuses for not listening on either side of the linguistic fence!

EXCERPT (minute 120):
==================================
“At the outset of my talk, I referred to the Tomita Memorandum as having been used by those who wanted to criticize the Prime Minister’s official visits to Yasukuni Shrine. However, I think that in the medium future, it is possible that that memorandum could be used in the opposite way–i.e. to clear the way for official visits by the Emperor himself. This past summer, in 2006, Foreign Minister Aso, an extremely influential politician, proposed that in order to revive the path for Imperial worship, the [Yasukuni] Shrine should be nationalized again. Such a proposal by such an influential politician is one we can not afford to overlook.

“It is the case that between 1969 and 1974, the LDP proposed legislation that would remove Yasukuni Shrine from its non-special status and make it again subject to State support. However, in that period, from 1969 to 1974, there was too strong a worry that this would lead to the revivial of militarism, and this legislation was not enacted. However, now, thirty years later, influential politicians in the LDP are stating that the State should remove, according to its own judgment, the Class-A War Criminals from Yasukuni Shrine, secure the understanding of China and Korea, and then make it possible to nationalize Yasukuni Shrine, make it possible for Yasukuni Shrine to have regular visits from the Prime Minister and the Emperor.

“I think that what I laid out earlier is that Triadic System stands a very good chance of being revived now. Namely, with the revision of Article 9, and the establishment of a force that is openly recognized to be an army, with the revision of the Fundamental Law of Education already effected in December of 2006 building in patriotic education. And then, the possibility of nationalizing Yasukuni Shrine–so that if there are deaths on the battlefield that occur, given the newly-established army, then these people will be enshrined in the national shrine and honored by the Prime Minister and the Emperor.

“I hope that you can understand now why I cannot accept that the problem of Article 9 is merely a problem with the Class-A War Criminals. I should have added that all these things could be happening according to this scenario with no objections coming from China and Korea–because the Class-A War Criminals have been disposed of.”
==================================
(Transcript by Arudou Debito)
ENDS

Asahi: Naturalized Korean-J runs as minority for Osaka Pref Seat

mytest

Hi Blog. Here’s a campaign I was not aware of (again, Sapporo is a long, long way from Tokyo and Osaka). Read on to hear about a naturalized Korean-Japanese’s campaign for a prefectural seat in Osaka, campaigning his Korean roots overtly. I’m not going to spoil the surprise and tell you how it turned out until the end of the article….

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

FOREIGN VOICE
Asahi Shinbun 04/06/2007
By Hiroshi Matsubara, Staff writer

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200704060113.html

TAKATSUKI, Osaka Prefecture–Lee Kyung Jae has repeatedly urged Korean children in Japan to cherish their ethnic roots. He has arranged festivals that promote Korean culture and long battled discrimination directed at Korean communities.

But to take his efforts to the next level, Lee, a 53-year-old second-generation Korean resident of Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, did what had been considered unthinkable: He gave up his long-cherished Korean nationality.

Members of Korean communities have argued that one’s nationality is essential to their identities. Yet when they seek voting rights for foreign residents in Japan, they are met with the legal provision that only Japanese citizens can cast ballots.

So Lee and others decided to take an ironic method. They obtained Japanese nationality to bring the voices of foreign residents to local and national politics.

“As I have spent all my life as a minority, I am keenly aware of the rights of the elderly, the disabled and others who are regarded as socially weak,” he told passers-by at JR Settsu-Tonda Station recently.

“I would like to ask voters to sympathize with the sentiments of foreign residents and allow me to become the first Korean-Japanese assembly member in Osaka,” he said.

Lee is running for a seat in the Osaka prefectural assembly election Sunday.

He is the first candidate of foreign origin who has run in a local or national election on a campaign to represent the interests of an ethnic group, according to the Korean Residents’ Union in Japan (Mindan).

To become eligible to run, Lee, an operator of a nursing-care organization, obtained Japanese nationality in June last year.

He stands in front of train stations every morning, calling for the “conscience” of Japanese people to hear the voices of foreigners and other social minorities and to turn Japan, with its growing foreign population, into a truly multicultural society.

Lee’s parents immigrated to Japan and worked at a military warehouse during World War II. After graduating from high school, Lee set up a citizens group to teach Korean children about their ethnic roots and to organize cultural festivals. He was also involved in human rights movements for non-Japanese, including the campaign aimed at abolishing the mandatory fingerprinting of foreigners for their alien registration.

In addition, he has joined the movement for foreign residents’ suffrage in local elections since the early 1990s.

Although Lee has won praise for his work, his campaign faces a serious problem: Many members of his main support base are not allowed to vote.

At the end of 2005, Osaka had 142,712 people with Korean nationalities, or 24 percent of 598,687 Koreans nationwide.

Lee is now counting on Koreans who have obtained Japanese nationality, whose number may exceed those who have maintained their Korean nationalities.

“Many ethnic Koreans apparently opt to live as Japanese by hiding their ethnic origins, and I hope my campaign will be an opportunity for them to solidify their ethnic identity or to openly express it to their Japanese neighbors,” Lee said.

A 61-year-old second-generation Korean resident of Takatsuki said she has been waiting for a long time for someone like Lee to take such action. However, she regrets that she is unable to vote.

“We no longer face overt discrimination, but we have yet to live completely free from concerns about our neighbors’ potentially negative looks or words,” said the woman, a supermarket worker.

The woman uses a Japanese name, but has asked her Japanese neighbors, including those who do not know her background, to vote for Lee.

Two of the woman’s four children, who have obtained Japanese nationality to avoid discrimination, live in Takatsuki and are thrilled to have Lee as a voting option, she said. “By having a representative in local government, I may feel more attached to the local community,” she said.

Lee estimates that his electoral district of Takatsuki and the town of Shimamoto have several thousand Korean-Japanese who are eligible to vote. He said he will need about 13,000 votes to win a seat on the prefectural assembly. That means he needs votes from the Japanese as well.

“I am still worried that Japanese society will again reject me in the form of scarce votes,” Lee said. “But even if my campaign ends in failure, I hope it will encourage future generations to aspire to become political representatives of their ethnic group.”

During a preliminary campaign for the Upper House election in July, Kim Jeong Ok, a second-generation Korean in Tokyo, recently visited local chapters of Mindan. He asked Mindan members to collect votes from Japanese members of their families, as well as neighbors and ethnic Koreans who have obtained Japanese nationality.

“I decided to run for the election because the relatively homogeneous composition of the Diet is the primary cause of the rapid nationalistic swing of politics today,” Kim, 51, said.

Kim, who works at a nonprofit organization that supports disabled people, obtained Japanese nationality in December 2005 in a bid to campaign in the Upper House election. He will run on the ticket of opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) in the proportional representation part of the election.

But Kim said his campaign will not be easy. Even his relatives, including five siblings, who use Japanese names will not openly support him for fear of revealing their ethnicity.

“Representing these voices in national politics will be the way to achieve an equal partnership between the majority and minority residents, including foreigners of all ethnicities,” he said.(IHT/Asahi: April 6,2007)
ENDS

===========================
RESULTS:

Mr Lee lost. Badly. There were five seats to fill, six candidates. Here are the numbers:

自民党         吉田 利幸 30,385 1
公明          林 けいじ 27,921 2
民主          大前 英世 26,980 3
共産党         宮原 たけし 20,342 4
社民党         小沢 福子 19,475 5

無所属         い 敬宰 2,543

合計 127,646
===========================
He’s at the bottom. Not even close. Ouch.

Rumor had it (from–where else–2-channel etc.) that he wanted to discriminate against Japanese after he got elected (“nan to shite mo Nihonjin o sabetsu shite shinitai”). Hard to believe he would be so stupid to say something like that.

But I can’t seem to find a website dedicated to his campaign telling his own story and combatting those rumors. That’s pretty odd too.

Anyway, thanks for trying. Debito in Sapporo

TASS: Russian arrested in Nemuro on beer run

mytest

Hi Blog. Just a little humorous aside.

Nothing like a little casual illegal entry to help make one of the world’s disputed borders (the Northern Territories, islands seized by USSR at the end of WWII and reason why there is no peace treaty to this day (only an armistice) between Japan and Russia) more disputed. Especially when it’s over a case of beer.

============================
Russian fishermen dropping into Japan to buy beer detained
ITAR-TASS 08.04.2007, 06.20

http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=11413576&PageNum=0

TOKYO, April 8 (Itar-Tass) — A Russian fisherman catching sea urchins decided to “drop into” Japan quickly to buy beer and was arrested on Saturday for illegally entering the country.

The incident took place in Nemuro on the eastern coast of Hokkaido close to the Southern Kuriles.

The Japanese police said, referring to the detained man’s words, that he together with his colleagues fished near the Southern Kuriles. While his fellow fishermen picked sea urchins from the seabed, the 29-year-old man decided to quickly go on a rubber pneumatic boat with an engine to Nemuro to buy beer. He presented a 10,000-yen bill (about 83 dollars) and bought a box of bottles of beer.

However, members of a local fishing cooperative informed police about the suspicious boat, and the police thwarted the attempt of the man, who had no documents to enter Japan, to leave Nemuro.

The man was arrested at 11:48 local time (06:48 Moscow time), about an hour after he reached the coast. He remained in the police office in Nemuro. The police suppose the fisherman had no bad intentions, but say he had alcohol smell.

Japanese authorities informed the Vladivostok sea rescue centre that the detained person was a crewmember from a Russian schooner. Supposedly, the vessel is from the Sakhalin port of Nevelsk.

The Nemuro police do not remember such incidents happening ever before. At the same time, 30 years ago, in 1977, Soviet border guards detained a Japanese who managed to swim to Signalny Island that is within the territory claimed by Japan.

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

Thanks to http://www.fuckedgaijin.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17556

As the posters to this site poignantly ask, whatever happened to the beer? Debito

JT: Shiga governor backs antidiscrimination law

mytest

Hi Blog. This just turned up when I was searching my files for something else. A Japan Times article from last August I missed because I was doing one of my cycletreks. Better late than never:

There are indeed people in the government, particularly at the local level, who see sense and speak it: Japan needs a law to ban racial and other forms of discrimination. They are doing things in their own way which shouldn’t be overlooked:

Some local governments are abolishing the Nationality Clause”. Tottori Prefecture even passed its own anti-discrimination law (before it was UNpassed months later). Several city governments around Gifu and Shizuoka Prefectures themselves have been working since 2001 (starting from a signed declaration called the Hamamatsu Sengen) to get the national govenment to take specific measures to secure better systems re education, social security, and registration for their NJ residents. (I have heard some updates on this recently from a student doing his dissertation on this very subject. Should have a brief from him presently.)

Anyway, the JT article. Within it are the typical “chicken-and-egg” arguments which keep derailing the debate: Change society before changing the law. Sort of like asking rapists and stalkers nicely to desist their naughtiness before you pass a law against rape and stalking.

It’s ludicrous, but, I might add, historically not unique to Japan. Read some of the arguments raised in the Lincoln-Douglas Slavery Debates of 1858 or by the US South supporting segregation in the 1950s, and you’ll see remarkable similarities in the points raised by people on the wrong side of history. Debito in Sapporo

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

Shiga governor backs antidiscrimination law
The Japan Times Thursday, Aug. 24, 2006
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20060824a2.html
Courtesy of The Community and Steve Silver

OSAKA — Shiga Gov. Yukiko Kada said Wednesday [August 23, 2006] she generally supports the creation of a national law to ban racial discrimination.

“Yes, at first glance, I support such a law,” Kada said. “But Shiga Prefecture still needs more hard data on the condition of foreign residents before deciding what policies to support.”

In May, nearly 80 human rights groups around Japan, and the United Nations, urged the country to enact legislation to guarantee the rights of foreigners and to show people thinking of moving here that the government will protect their legal rights.

However, many people in the central government and business who are pushing for more foreign labor oppose legislating against discrimination. Some say it would be better to change the attitude of society to be more tolerant of foreigners.

Speaking at the Kansai Press Club, Kada, who last month became the nation’s fifth female governor, said her prefecture is lagging behind others in integrating non-Japanese, especially foreign laborers, into the community.

Shiga has about 30,000 foreigners, including about 14,000 Japanese- Brazilians. In the Kansai region, it has the largest ratio of foreign residents who have moved there in the last two decades to Japanese.

Many of them came to work in auto-parts factories.

“Compared with Gunma and Shizuoka prefectures, which also have large populations of Japanese-Brazilians, the debates and policy measures for integrating foreigners into the community have not advanced very far in Shiga,” she said.

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG ELECTION SPECIAL APRIL 10 2007

mytest

Hi Blog. This comes a bit late (school started today, and I decided to take a nap to be fresh before writing), but here are some

/////////////////////////////////////////////
THOUGHTS ON THE APRIL 8, 2007 ELECTION
by Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan

April 10, 2007
/////////////////////////////////////////////

FOREWORD: This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive record, offering the deep insights of a long-time Japanese politico. The information I am pulling apart can be found in any Japanese newspaper (I researched five) the morning after the elections. It is specifically geared towards the needs and bent of Debito.org. Moreover, I wish to present viewpoints that few can offer (such as how to vote as a naturalized citizen), speaking as a two-decade resident and three-election veteran of Hokkaido. For those who want more analysis of Tokyo Guv Ishihara, sorry–I am in terms of politics a long, long way from Tokyo. One word: Google.

That understood, today’s lineup:

/////////////////////////////////////////////
1) WHAT’S IT LIKE TO VOTE IN JAPAN?
2) SOME UNOBVIOUS TRENDS THIS ELECTION
3) RESULTS WE CARE ABOUT AT DEBITO.ORG

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

1) WHAT’S IT LIKE TO VOTE IN JAPAN?

I’m not going to get into international comparisons (when I’ve only voted in three other places: Upstate NY, Ithaca NY, and San Diego CA), so let me just try to put you in my shoes as a Japanese citizen going to vote.

===================================
a) The Run-Up

Anyone who lives in Japan knows there is an election afoot about a week or two beforehand, for the sound trucks come out and zip down every street they can cover in the unduly short (or thankfully short, depending on your point of view) Election Campaign Period (senkyo kikan)–saying as little as possible as many times as possible. I’ve written about this phenomenon before (I’ve even campaigned in one of those sound trucks, see http://www.debito.org/nanporo2003elections.html), so enough said. Let me just add that I feel for those people waving those white gloves while leaning out of those cars. Experience is a great empathizer–it’s hard work! So every time I see a sound truck, I wave. Try it. It makes their day.

Sapporo this time struck it lucky, with FOUR elections (city mayor, city assembly, prefectural assembly, and governor). About ten days before election day, I got a post card which enabled me to do what millions of Japan residents can’t: vote. After all the trouble I went through to become Japanese, the proof is in the end pretty unobtrusive: A scrap of paper with a bar code and my name, with information about where to cast, when, and what to vote in. I had it tacked up on my refrigerator next to other images that matter: photos of my kids and photocopies of gym weight statistics. That postcard is the symbol of how far I’ve come in my 20 years here. Yet a burglar probably wouldn’t even think it worth stealing.

===================================
b) The Vote–Saturday, April 7, 2007

I went a day early in absentee balloting (I told them I had work–so did hundreds of thousands of others in Sapporo, according to the news), and had you followed me up to the second floor of the Nishi Kumin Center, this is what you would have experienced:

It was a large room (the two other places I voted were gymnasiums), and you walk clockwise around a cordoned-off donut which will draw you in, walk you from table to table, and deposit you afterwards where you came in. You don’t even have to take off your shoes. All I had to do was appear down the hall before a student greeter (arubaito are very well paid to man election booths, usually getting about 1000 yen an hour) gave me a cheery aisatsu and, without thinking a White voter odd, asked if I had filled out my name and address on my vote postcard. I had. (If you hadn’t, you would have been directed to go to another table behind some screens to sit down and fill out your card. People who needed help filling in their own name had at least two staff assigned behind the screens anticipating.)

As I said, there were four stations (for four ballots), and a way station in between each. The first way station had computers and bar-code scanners, so that your postcard is beeped and if necessary your identity confirmed. (The young lady with braces manning the computers, who barely looked old enough to vote herself, admittedly considered a moment of Zen with me standing there with an odd face to an odder name. She asked me how to read it. Complied. When she repeated it a little incredulously, I asked if she wanted ID . (I had readied four different pieces–driver licence, juuminhyou, koseki touhon, and passport, dammit.) She laughed and said no, beeping me through.

The second way station had an older lady seated behind a table greet, take my postcard, check off with red pencil the square which said “chiji sen” (governors’ race), and hand me a ballot (about the size of a postcard again) with instructions to write down whom I wanted for governor. There were three choices, and I walked to a booth (a standing walled off-on-three-sides desk-cubicle, four yawning for the voter, two more where elderly voters could sit and write) with the full names of all three candidates, a few pencils, and a magnifying glass for the sight-impaired. I was to write in one name with a pencil (the ballot is specially laminated to soak in graphite marks, but not smudge or crease when you fold it).

Write it carefully, in hiragana or the kanji represented in your booth, for any divergence from the pattern will result in your vote being binned. (I once counted votes as rep for my ex-wife’s successful campaign for Nanporo town council (http://www.debito.org/nanporo2003elections.html) see part two), and know that if you cross something out or add any stray symbols (such as heart marks), the vote will be flagged and probably counted as spoiled. Not to mention write-in balloting does not exist in Japan, as those votes are also voided. Only registered candidates can officially run.) Then fold it lengthwise and walk over to a steel sealed ballot box standing alone and slip it in one of two top slots. The folded ballot, by design, will automatically unfold once inside for easy counting.

I repeated this step for three more ballots, enjoying every minute of the super-smooth procedure, and took as much time as I liked to look around the room and watch Japanese democracy in action. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would NOT want to take a few minutes out of their day to exercise their right to vote (even if the voter only inserted blank ballots), especially since I could not imagine it any more conveniently done. (Polling stations are open from 8AM to 8PM, and mail-in ballots are also possible.) I hung around the station (anyone can, discretely–even non-citizens; I did before I naturalized–so give it a try) to watch to see whether people shared the thrill or viewed it as a chore. Based upon voter turnout (see below), I think chore was in the minority.

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

2) SOME UNOBVIOUS TRENDS THIS ELECTION

Probably people who have been watching the news already know the major results: Tokyo Governor Ishihara won in yet another landslide. More on that via Google and Matt Dioguardi’s blog:
http://japan.shadowofiris.com/conservatives/shintaro-ishihara-wins-tokyo-election-oh-joy/

(In case you were wondering, I am not an Ishihara fan. See several reasons why:)
http://www.debito.org/?p=39
http://www.debito.org/?p=27
http://www.debito.org/?p=279
http://www.debito.org/A.html
http://www.debito.org/opportunism.html

So let me focus on some lesser-observed facts about the election that are if anything more indicative:

===================================
a) Voter Turnout

averaged for all races at about 52.3% (Asahi page 5) was about the same as last time (52.5%, but still down from the 56.7% two elections ago).

mainichi040907001.jpg

For the gubernatorial races, 13 prefectures averaged 52.6% turnouts of eligible voters, with lower turnouts in 7 prefectures (compared to the 2003 election). The highest turnouts were in Hokkaido and Iwate, and if laggard prefectures such as Fukuoka and Kanagawa (both in the 40-percents) had gotten out the vote, we would have had better-than-half turnouts in all prefectures. The Tokyo Guv election showed the most significant rise in turnout, by nearly 10%. Hokkaido’s Guv voter turnout (65%) was the first rise since 1983 (Mainichi page 17).
mainichi040907003.jpg

For the mayoral races (four), all but one had higher turnouts than previous elections, all more than 50%.

The prefectural assembly elections were all ho-hum, with similar 52.5% turnouts (i.e. throw in a ballot on the way), but drops in the voter rate in the vast majority of races (30 out of 44).

The mayoral races were also low-turnouters, with the average at 47.7%. Of the fifteen cities up for election, six showed drops. Only Hokkaido showed strong turnouts across the board (always above 60%). They must be reading Debito.org…

===================================
b) Political Barometering

Of the 2544 seats up for grabs this election (prefectural and local), 1208 went to those supported by the ruling LDP, a drop from the 1309 up for grabs before. The strongest opposition party (which I support), DPJ, captured 374 seats, a rise from 205 last time. Souka Gakkai Koumeitou captured two more than last time to wind up with 180. The Communist Party just keeps on dwindling, dropping ten to 97. Same with Socialist-Party remnants Shamintou, losing big (from 73 to 52). Surprising was that the nonaffiliated (mushozoku) also dropped significantly, from 687 to 580 seats. And this in an election with no proportional representation (hireiku) vote, meaning political parties enjoyed no advantage of a second vote.
mainichi040907002.jpg

There is a caveat. Due to political restructuring and consolidation of local governments, the number of seats up for election also dropped, from 2634 to 2532. So any gains at all (when the pie is shrinking enough to mean potential losses across the board) is significant. On this scale, the DPJ (despite the mixed fanfare and the high-profile LDP-equivalent Guv victories in Tokyo and Hokkaido) quietly had the rosiest results of all the parties.

===================================
c) The Power of Incumbency

In the major races (Guvs and Mayors), for the most part it wasn’t even close. Ishihara and Takahashi (Hokkaido) Guv victories were called by NHK within minutes of the poll’s closing at 8PM (for reasons that I still cannot grasp). Landslides (meaning votes close to or more than double the second-place candidates) happened in all the gubernatorial races: Hokkaido, Iwate, Tokyo (with Ishihara accruing more than a million more votes than second-place Asano), Fukui, Mie, Nara, Tottori, Shimane, Tokushima, Shizuoka, Saga, and Oita. Only four of the 13 prefectures got new blood (Nara, Tottori, Iwate and Shimane); the rest were incumbent re-elections. None of them had any express political party ties (although they did enjoy unofficial support, the newspapers note; LDP/Koumei nine, DPJ two, LDP/DPJ together two). Point is, there were no upsets.

And in over half of the Guv races–eight–it was basically uncontested. Only the Communists ran against the powers that be (I presume the DPJ decided to save money and not field candidates). Good Old College Tries notwithstanding, the only place the JCP came close was in Nara, where they got a little under half the winner’s total vote. It’s amazing these people don’t just throw in the towel… (Personally, I’m glad they don’t.)

The Mayor races were more exciting. Shizuoka and Hamamatsu had close races, where the incumbent won in the former and lost in the latter. Sapporo and Hiroshima kept their mayors by a wide margin. Score card: LDP one (Shizuoka), DPJ one (Sapporo), and unaffiliated two (Hamamatsu and Hiroshima).

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

3) RESULTS WE CARE ABOUT AT DEBITO.ORG

In terms of bellwethers for internationalization, from what I could see all the way up here in Hokkaido, issues of multiculturalization were not campaign issues anywhere (not even in Tokyo, despite Asano’s playing to the FCCJ at http://www.debito.org/?p=279). No wonder. Foreigners, not even the generational Zainichi foreigners, can vote; and as history demonstrates (it was not until the Civil Rights Movement chipped away at the voter disenfranchisement laws in the US South, and then only after huge numbers of African-Americans registered to vote in the 1950s, that electoral candidates–even Governor Wallace–changed their tunes in the 1960s), politicians by design only care about keeping their jobs. It’s one of those aggravating no-brainers: Can’t vote, can’t get much respect in a democracy. Don’t see that trend changing any time soon, unless…

Anyway, some trends of note:

===================================
a) The Bigots Begat

We know Ishihara kept his seat, and we know he’s probably the most expressly xenophobic elected official out there. But remember the “sneaky thieves” comment made by Kanagawa Guv Matsuzawa Shigefumi in November 2003?

“All foreigners are sneaky thieves (koso doro). Because (Tokyo) Gov. (Shintaro) Ishihara is clamping down (on crime in the capital), they are flooding into Kanagawa.”
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20031104a8.html
He retracted it a couple of days later
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20031107a9.html
but I’m notoriously unforgiving.

Anyway, he got re-elected easily this time, with more votes than the other candidates combined. Surprisingly enough, he seems to have strong ties to the DPJ…

===================================
b) The Good Guys Lose

The incumbent mayor of Hamamatsu, Kitawaki Yasuyuki, poured his heart into trying to improve conditions for NJ residents around his area. He was the coordinator of the Hamamatsu Sengen (http://www.debito.org/hamamatsusengen.html).

Background: After Japan’s first court victory citing international treaty in a racial discrimination case (Ana Bortz vs. Seibido Trading, 1999), which just happened to take place in his city, Mayor Kitawaki in October 2001 convened a meeting of 13 cities from six prefectures with high foreign worker populations. Issuing a historical document entitled the “Hamamatsu Sengen” (Hamamatsu Declaration), these government heads demanded the national government create policy guaranteeing foreigners the modicum of social welfare (education, welfare services, smooth alien registration) entitled to every worker and resident of Japan. Kitawaki and company submitted this proposal to Tokyo Mandarinland Kasumigaseki in November 2001, where it was duly ignored. He and many other mayors and city officials have since persevered. More on that in a separate post later.

Anyway, Kitawaki lost by 11,000 votes to Suzuki Yasutomo, a former Upper House Dietmember with DPJ ties. Given the fact that the DPJ has people in it as left as the DSP and as right as the LDP, I doubt this is a good thing.

===================================
c) Don’t You Dare Pass Any Crazy Anti-Discrim Laws

The former Guv Katayama Yoshihiro in Tottori decided not to run for some reason (I guess it might be the exhaustion incurred from the stress of having Japan’s first anti-racial-discrimination ordinance passed, then UNpassed, last year–see http://www.debito.org/japantimes050206.html). His vice-guv, Hirai Shinji, ran and won handily. Again, I’m not sure if this is a good thing. (He has the support of the LDP and Koumeitou.)

===================================
d) The Anger Vote and How to Swing it

And in an unrelated aside, I reported two newsletters ago about Toyama Kouichi, the anarchist candidate who had great success with viewerage on YouTube:

http://japundit.com/archives/2007/04/05/5610/
(Now with new, excellent E subtitles and several parody versions.)

Well, he managed to garner 15,059 votes (despite offering nothing but destruction and telling people not to vote at all), putting him in 8th place (out of 14 candidates). But it brings to light one problem with Japan’s over-restrictive election laws.

From this morning’s Terrie’s Take:

——————————————————-
-> Youtube videos breach election law

What happens when control over the local media is subverted? You get political candidate videos posted to YouTube, in contravention of but impervious to Japanese laws on unfair campaigning. This just happened in the Tokyo metropolitan elections, where earlier TV comments by one of the more radical candidates appeared on the service. The election management committee asked YouTube to delete the video.

***Ed: We think that Japan’s rules on limiting electioneering are a noble ideal but in practice are also very impractical. While it is reasonable to want all candidates to get equal broadcast coverage, in effect this means that the advantage is always with the incumbent. A person like Ishihara knows how to manipulate the media so well, that without breaching any rules, he can be on TV most nights. It’s no wonder that voters really only know and feel comfortable with him. While no one wants money politics, the existing system is also quite unfair.**

(Source: TT commentary from nikkei.co.jp, Apr 6, 2007) (http://www.japaninc.com/terries_take) (TT 416)
http://www.nni.nikkei.co.jp/AC/TNKS/Nni20070405D05JF885.htm
——————————————————-

I would concur. The media equivalent of arriving on Air Force One certainly sways people.

Moreover, here’s an essay describing how a local Senkyo Kanri Iinkai (Election Steering Committee) did its best to stop candidates from debating each other in a citizens’-sponsored forum, and how Japan’s election rules actually stifle debate and direct questioning of candidates:
http://www.debito.org/nanporo2003elections.html

===================================
e) Manifesto Destiny

Something also came up on the news this morning (Tokudane), where people were talking about how “manifestos” (A4-size political-promise sheets) are now commonplace amongst candidates, and how they make policies clearer than the regular soundtruckery.

I would agree that manifestoing is indeed a positive development, and have said so in a column in the Japan Times (Nov 18, 2003):
http://www.debito.org/japantimes111803.html

But here we see the Senkyo Kanri Iinkai stepping in to overregulate again. You can indeed produce a Manifesto. But they must be one page A4 and front and back only. And you can only produce up to 300,000 of them. No more. Too bad if your electoral base is larger than that: You cannot mail them out or include them as fold-in advertisements in newspapers–you must hand them out on the street or let people come to your offices to get one. They even frown on them being electronically displayed on the Internet!

I suppose this is to avoid ramping up money politics. But the result is that some people didn’t even know their candidates’ manifestos existed. Myself included–I based my votes on the newsprint policy statements which came through my mailslot courtesy of the Senkyo Kanri Iinkai.

To be sure, I’m not sure how I’d run an election better (and the US system is certainly no template!!). But the chokehold the Senkyo Kanri Iinkai has over information dispersal certainly errs far too much on the side of caution. I have to admire to some degree the moxie of those who dare to defy.

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

CONCLUSIONS: WHAT DOES THIS ELECTION SAY ABOUT THE ABE ADMINISTRATION?

I don’t think this election was much of a midterm referendum at all. The LDP did not really lose clearly or big anywhere. Nobody’s going to be able to point to a race and say that Abe is to blame for the outcome. Some of the newspapers are in fact interpreting Ishihara’s victory as a “boost” for Abe.
http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20070409p2a00m0na014000c.html

Not sure I agree: “Boost” seems a bit of a boosterism in itself. So let me end this report inconclusively for now and see what happens in the even bigger elections this July.

For the time being, let me compensate with some referential links. As I have an undergraduate degree in Government, I have an abiding interest in Japanese politics, and have written copiously on the subject before. A few examples:

A report about the first time I voted in a Japanese election (2001):
http://www.debito.org/japantodaycolumns13-15.html

Japan’s “Rap Election” of 1996 (a humorous study of ancient campaign strategies):
http://www.debito.org/japanrapelection.html

A case study of how we unseated a corrupt mayor:
http://www.debito.org/nanporoelection1.html
And how we got elected:
http://www.debito.org/nanporo2003elections.html

Our lobbying efforts with each political party:
http://www.debito.org/lobbying041601.html
http://www.debito.org/seitouchousa.html
http://www.debito.org/sapporocitylobby2004.html

And even a humor piece on Suzuki Muneo:
http://www.debito.org/japantodaycolumns16-18.html#18

Dave Spector even sent me his comments on the election in the J press:
spectoronelection22907.jpg

Enjoy. Only a few more months before the real referendum on Abe.

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG ELECTION SPECIAL OF APRIL 10, 2007 ENDS

Mainichi: Bio of the man who got “Toruko” off “special bathhouses”

mytest

Hello Blog. Here’s a recent article from the Mainichi talking about a man who apparently single-handedly got the word “Toruko” (Turkish bath) signs removed from what are now “Soaplands” etc.–places which offer deluxe massages, if you will.

I include the word “apparently” above, since article depicts Mr Sancakli as a man motivated by shame and love of his wife, country, and Japan. Fine. But somehow I don’t think it’s so simple that he spoke to some media and politicians and they automatically saw the error of their ways–and within a few months got “Toruko” nationwide to change their signs at their own expense.

Call me cynical, but it’s gotta be a little more behind it than that. A bit of pressure from the Turkish government, perhaps? Anybody out there know? (Citation from Wikipedia below the article.)

Anyway, I offer this up to show that once again, it is possible for one person to make a difference. Well done, Mr Sancakli. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

==============================
PERSONALITY PROFILE:
MR NUSRET SANCAKLI, THE PERSON WHO GOT “TORUKO” (TURK) REMOVED FROM “SOAPLANDS”
Mainichi Shinbun, March 7, 2007.
Translated by Arudou Debito. Original Japanese at
http://www.mainichi-msn.co.jp/shakai/wadai/news/20070407k0000m070152000c.html
or http://www.debito.org/?p=322

The bright lights of neon signs fill the city streets. It’s been 23 years since he’s seen Tokyo Shinjuku so radiant. Cherry blossoms scatter about. “I feel as light as a bird. I don’t have to walk around and avert my eyes anymore.”

It was 1981 when Mr Sancakli came to Japan from Turkey [rendered in Japanese as “Toruko”] as an exchange student to study earthquakes, and had been here about six months. In the evening twilight he saw a place named after his home country and went to investigate.

“We got a gaijin here,” he heard from inside, and several women in their undergarments appeared. [It was a brothel.] He couldn’t understand how this country he loved and his home country could have gone so far off track. He thought about his 19-year-old wife, Hadie, who had also accompanied him to Japan, and locked his feelings deep inside.

But one day, when he and his wife on the way home by subway, an elderly woman asked where they were from. She was still a bit rusty in Japanese, so she answered, “I go to Toruko with him”. The old women began to shake and blush, to Mrs Sancakli’s embarrassment. So he explained to his wife for the first time what “Toruko” meant in Japan: “Turkish baths”–with sexual services.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” she said over and over, and said she wanted to go back home to Turkey. So Sancakli said , “If it’s the last thing I do, I promise you I’ll get ‘Toruko’ off those signs.”

He came back to Japan in the summer of 1984. He went on a pilgrimage to tell politicians and the media what a “hammam”, a real Turkish bath, was like. There were instant repercussions, and within a few months all “Toruko” signs were gone [changed into “Soaplands”].

He returned to Turkey feeling a great debt of gratitude to Japan. In 1992, he set about setting up a Japanese language department in his local university. He has written three textbooks himself and graduated more than 1500 students. “More and more people don’t know about this bit of history, but I’m still returning the favor.”

———————————
BIO: Nusret Sancakli, 53, is a specialist in earthquakes. Born in Montenegro, he moved to Turkey at the age of 6. He currently represents a hand-made carpet company.
ENDS

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

Wikipedia offers up this information:

Soaplands were originally called toruko-buro (トルコ風呂), meaning Turkish bath. A Turkish scholar, Nusret Sancakli, set off on a newspaper campaign to denounce Japan’s Turkish girls and the so-called Turkish baths they worked in,”[2] and the word “soapland” was the winning entry in a nationwide contest to rename the brothels.[3]

Footnotes: Peter Constantine, Japan’s Sex Trade: A Journey Through Japan’s Erotic Subcultures, (Tokyo: Yenbooks, 1993), 37–8.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soapland
ENDS

外国人偏見廃止テンプレート:特殊浴場の名称からトルコ外させたヌスレット氏

mytest

ブログの皆様、これは「一人でも社会を変えられる」との証しとして載せます。問題点があれば、泣き寝入りをすべからず、国が好きなら声を挙げて改善すべきですね。有道 出人。

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

ひと:ヌスレットさん 特殊浴場の名称からトルコ外させた
毎日新聞 2007年4月7日 0時05分
http://www.mainichi-msn.co.jp/shakai/wadai/news/20070407k0000m070152000c.html

 街並みを埋める看板やネオンに目をやる。23年ぶりの東京・新宿は晴れやかだった。桜の花びらが舞う。「鳥になった気分ですよ。もう、うつむいて歩かなくていい」
 81年、地震の研究でトルコから日本に留学して半年余り。夕暮れの新宿で母国の名前を見つけ、店に飛び込んだ。「ガイジンが来た」の声とともに数人の肌着姿の女性が現れた。この問題で母国と大好きな日本がぎくしゃくするのはたまらない。一緒に日本に滞在中の当時19歳の妻、ハディエさんをおもんばかり、一人胸に抱え込んだ。
 ある日、妻と地下鉄で帰宅する途中、老いた女性が「どこから来ましたか」と妻に尋ねた。日本語に不慣れの妻は「(彼と)トルコへ行きます」と答えた。女性は動揺して顔を赤らめた。その様子に妻も戸惑った。腹を決めて「トルコ(風呂)」を説明した。
 「『うそよ』と繰り返す妻は、帰国すると言いました。私は『死ぬまでにこの呼び方は必ずなくす』と約束しました」
 84年夏に再来日。政治家やメディアに訴える一方で本物のハマム(トルコの風呂)を伝えて行脚した。反響は瞬く間に広がり、数カ月後、街から「トルコ」の名称が消えた。
 帰国後、日本への感謝の気持ちがふくらんだ。92年、地元の大学に日本語学科の開設を働きかけた。自ら作った3冊の教本で巣立った若者は1500人を超える。「この歴史を知らない人も増えましたが、私の心からの恩返しは続いています」【高尾具成】
 【略歴】Nusret Sancakli(ヌスレット・サンジャクリ)さん 地震研究家。モンテネグロで生まれ、6歳で母国トルコへ。手織りじゅうたん会社の顧問も務める。53歳。
ENDS

Alex Kerr falls into “Guestism” arguments with unresearched comments

mytest

Hi Blog. I covered some of this material in a previous post on the blog. However, for the newsletter I did a significant rewrite last night, describing how flippant and unresearched comments from a noteworthy person (Alex Kerr) can cause problems for others (particularly through unscrupulous anonymous editors on places like Wikipedia). I don’t want this new version to be buried in a newsletter, so I repost it separately and delete the older version from the blog. Debito in Sapporo

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

Some time ago, Alex Kerr, author of DOGS AND DEMONS and LOST JAPAN (and a person I have great respect for), was asked in an interview with the Japan Times (Oct 25, 2005) about he thought about activists (and, er, about me in particular). He responded:

=========================================
JT: In Dogs and Demons you argue that Japan has failed to internationalize. What do you think about the work of Debito Arudou and others to combat racial discrimination in Japan?

AK: Well, somebody has to do it. I’m glad that there is a whistle-blower out there. But, I am doubtful whether in the long run it really helps. One would hope that he could do it another way. He’s not doing it the Japanese way. He’s being very gaijin in his openly combative attitude, and usually in Japan that approach fails.

I fear that his activities might tend to just confirm conservative Japanese in their belief that gaijin are difficult to deal with.

That said, perhaps we who live here are slow to stick our necks out when we sense an injustice, and quick to self-censor in order to get along smoothly in our communities.

To me the most interesting aspect of Arudou Debito is that, in taking on Japanese citizenship, he has brought the dialogue inside Japan. His activities reveal the fact that gaijin and their gaijin ways are now a part of the fabric of Japan’s new society. A very small part of course, but a vocal and real part.
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/member/member.html?fl20051025zg.htm
=========================================

This sticks in my craw for two reasons: One is that Alex, who does incredible amounts of research for his books, seems ill-informed about the ways we have combatted racial discrimination. If he had read my book JAPANESE ONLY (and despite receiving a copy from me nearly two years ago, he wrote me last January that he still hadn’t read it), he might understand that ARE doing it the so-called “Japanese Way”. We took every channel and route available to us WITHIN the Japanese system, as I meticulously detail in the book. In fact, there are plenty of Japanese who do exactly what we do (and more), and don’t get slapped with a “gaijin” label. It is out of character for Alex to comment on something he hasn’t done thorough research on.

The other reason is that this quote has been lifted out of context and selectedly reproduced by the unscrupulous on places like Wikipedia:
=========================================
Some critics question Arudou’s brand of conflict resolution: the judicial system. Alex Kerr, author of the best-selling Dogs and Demons: Tales from the Dark Side of Japan (ISBN 0-8090-3943-5), criticize such tactics as “too combative,” is doubtful “whether in the long run it really helps,” noting that “in Japan…[the combative] approach fails.” Acknowledging that “gaijin and their gaijin ways are now part of the fabric of Japan’s new society,” Kerr also notes that Arudou’s activities may “confirm conservative Japanese in their belief that gaijin are difficult to deal with.”[24]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arudou_Debito
=========================================
The essence and thrust of Alex’s comment, which is in fact about two-thirds positive, is lost.

Anyhow, the reason I bring this up now is because Matt Dioguardi in a recent, thoughtful essay, grounds this phenomenon in historical context, from an angle I hadn’t considered before:

=========== MATT DIOGUARDI WRITES =================
As a foreign national who is making a life for himself in Japan, I’m personally concerned that remarks like his have a negative effect on me (as a so-called “gaijin”). Because regardless of what one may or may not think of Debito, unintentionally Kerr is commenting on all “gaijin”.

Compare this to C. Eric Lincoln’s vivid description of a “smart nigger” in Coming Through the Fire: Surviving Race and Place in America:

————————————————
The smart nigger was likely to be everything the good nigger was not. Most likely he was educated above the norm considered sufficient for colored folks; whether he got it in school or some bigger fool than he had put it into his head, he had some dangerous notions. In either case, Mr. Martin said that the smart nigger was a pain in his own ass, and everybody else’s too. He wanted too much. He wanted his street paved, and he wanted it paved because he paid taxes rather than because his wife cooked for the judge. His house was painted and well kept and he didn’t waste his money on rattletrap cars. He didn’t “owe money downtown,” or “take up” advances on his pay every Monday morning. More than likely he had “been up North,” and he had a colored newspaper come to his house in the mail. The smart nigger paid his poll taxes, and he was mighty slow, it seemed to Mr. Dubbie Gee, to answer when somebody said “Boy!” He didn’t think that the bad nigger was funny, or that the good nigger could be trusted. Clearly, every smart nigger would bear watching. “They don’t last long,” Mr. Martin said, and he “flat out had no use for them.” He said that if he were colored he’d either kick a smart nigger’s ass down off his shoulders or keep away from him. A smart nigger, he said “is a damn fool hell-bent for trouble. And mark my words, he’s gon’ find it quicker’n a catfish can suck a chicken gut off a bent pin.”
————————————————

Is Alex Kerr saying Debito is a “smart nigger”?

I’d like to note that Kerr should be more specific in his comments, because is it really the case that there are no non-“gaijin” doing the things that Debito does? Is he saying that when Japanese file lawsuits, this is a natural evolution of culture, but when Debito does it, it’s reinforcing the notion that “gaijin” have an “openly combative attitude”?

Is he saying the teachers who refuse to sing Kimigayo are acting like “gaijin”?

What exactly is the definitive way some one displays an “openly combative attitude”?

Moreover, what is the definitive “Japanese way”? And in what specific way is Debito not doing it?

It’s very disappointing to see some of Alex Kerr’s calibre engaging in Nihonjinron. He should know that there is nothing so destructive to Japan’s traditional local customs as Nihonjinron. Do I need to quote from his own books? Just like the centralization of construction standards begins to make all parks and all buildings look bleakly similar, the centralization of identity around the concept of “Japanese” in an essentialist sense is just as destructive to the development of a full personality.
=========== END MATT DIOGUARDI ==============

More at
http://japan.shadowofiris.com/nihonjinron/is-alex-kerr-calling-debito-a-smart-nigger/

The point is, I always find it amazing how easily people can fall right back into the “Guestist”-sounding paradigms of “nicely, nicely, don’t get too uppity, for it’s not ‘The Japanese Way'”. When in fact everything we have ever done has also been done by Japanese. I hope Alex gets around to reading my book (http://www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html) and will offer more informed comments. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 7, 2007

mytest

Morning all. Arudou Debito here with a weekly roundup of events:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 7, 2007

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1) GAIJIN HANZAI PUBLISHER GOES BANKRUPT
2) METROPOLIS ON POLICE TREATMENT OF CRIMES AGAINST NJ
3) IRISH TIMES AND NYT ON J HISTORICAL REVISIONISM
4) “GUESTISM” PLACED IN A HISTORICAL CONTEXT
5) GET READY FOR A DIVORCE-RATE BOOM IN JAPAN
6) U OF HYOGO AND IUHW ADDED TO UNIVERSITY BLACKLIST
and finally… FUN FACTS! RE LOCAL GOVTS

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

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

1) GAIJIN HANZAI PUBLISHER GOES BANKRUPT

This just in (thanks to Trans-Pacific Radio (http://www.transpacificradio.com)): Japan Probe and Fukumimi blogs report that Eichi Shuppan, publisher of the infamous GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine (http://www.debito.org/?cat=27), has gone bankrupt (and I don’t mean just morally bankrupt).

=========================================
Good bye and good riddance to the publisher of racially inflammatory content.
http://fukumimi.wordpress.com/2007/04/05/good-bye-to-eichi-publishing/

Eichi Shuppan has closed its doors and is being liquidated. It had oustanding debts of JPY2.3B (about $20 million give or take).

I’m sure people like Debito and JapanProbe will be celebrating, although the failure of the business is unrelated to the recent fuss over racist publications, and is rather due to the fact that its parent company has closed its doors and Eichi was one of the subsidiaries which was already in trouble and could not stand on its own two feet. The publishing of smut had been transferred to a different company a long time ago (Eichi seems to have retained the sales rights in that reorganization, which was due to the company being busted on pornography charges), and that was the cash cow business anyway, although this line is no doubt also feeling the heat from internet sites (many of which apparently feature many scanned images from old magazines, including those of Eichi, so I’m told.)

Addendum: The news is courtesy of Teikoku DataBank via a Nikkei Telecon subscription (no link available to the actual data regarding Eichi, but see here for an article: http://www.zakzak.co.jp/gei/2007_04/g2007040515.html (Japanese)).
=========================================

COMMENT: Now, before anyone says we dood it: As Fukumimi points out, it’s unclear that GAIJIN HANZAI magazine was entirely responsible (but the bath they took on it certainly didn’t help).

Then this begs the question: What was a publisher in such fragile condition trying to pull by taking on this high-risk (if they even saw it as that) controversial magazine? If it was merely trying to stir up debate, as the editor asserted throughout the debacle, then it should have had a bit more of a buffer cash flow in its safe.

Naw. In the end, they were just trying to sell magazines through provocation, for they never expected it to be a flop (they obviously couldn’t afford one). No wonder they were on tenterhooks the whole time during this debate.

Okay, people are probably expecting me to crow a bit. Well… let’s just state the obvious: Darwin Awards for the publishing industry. Eichi Shuppan was just stupid. Glass houses and stones? Publishing houses and racist overtones? Reap and sow.

Some friends in the media have since let me know that this sort of thing is not unusual in the publishing industry–where publishers create presses for their saleable ideas, which ultimately run their course, and the publisher winks out of existence. If I get permission to reprint their mails, I’ll blog them presently.

Meanwhile, speaking of “gaijin hanzai”–how about crimes which go the other way round?

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

2) METROPOLIS ON POLICE TREATMENT OF CRIMES AGAINST NON-JAPANESE

I just got a call this evening from an African and his J wife regarding a recent Civil Court loss against the police, where negligence regarding his case (he still suffers physical debilitation due to the assault) was downplayed to the point where his friend’s testimony was dismissed because he was a “foreigner and a friend”, and the Defense’s doctor claimed his injuries were due to his overlong African legs. I hear about these sorts of things a lot nowadays. (More info later after I meet them in Tokyo in two weeks.)

Here’s an excerpt from an article which will hopefully start the pendulum swinging backwards on the whole “foreigners are potential criminals” starting point, often found whenever NJ interact which the police. Several cases of probable police negligence are included.

=========================================
CRIME SPREE
Foreigners who turn to Japan’s justice system for help find themselves ignored. Is incompetence to blame… or racism?
METROPOLIS MAGAZINE #677 MARCH 16, 2007
By Oscar Johnson

http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/677/feature.asp
http://www.debito.org/?p=302

Trying to extract redress from Japan’s criminal justice system can be an exercise in the absurd for anyone. But add in the suspicion that’s associated with a foreign face or name, and that absurdity can turn into dismay and outrage. Many non-Japanese say their crime reports are routinely dismissed by police, who may instead turn a suspicious eye on them for daring to complain about being victims. At best, police negligence can underscore a foreigners’ second-class status; at worst, it can lead to an atmosphere where crimes against gaijin are tacitly condoned…

Negative perceptions of foreigners by the police and public is a reality in Japan, just as it is elsewhere, says H. Richard Friman, director of the Institute for Transnational Justice and a political science professor at Wisconsin’s Marquette University. But in Japan, he notes in an email interview, the situation is exacerbated by several factors, not least of which is “the willingness of political officials to play the ‘crime-by-foreigners’ card for political gain… Japanese aggregate crime data rarely specifies the victim of the crime, and anecdotal evidence… tends to stress those cases where Japanese are victims, or high profile cases of foreigner-on-foreigner violence. Thus, the common image is that Japanese especially are at risk.”

[T]here are a few things that can be done to increase the chances of an adequate police response, according to activist Arudou. The first is to be patient and not expect a quick resoltion. “If you get flustered, it’s only going to turn the cops off,” he says. “Have everything ready for presentation. If it’s rape or robbery, have photos of the location or stolen property; if there’s a language problem, take someone with you to interpret.” Arudou stresses that when dealing with the police, “establishing your credibility is paramount”–even if theirs may be on shaky ground.
=========================================

Here is some information I should have added to my comment:

=========================================
ADDENDUM FROM LAURIE TROST, HEAD OF THE US CITIZENS’ SERVICES SECTION OF THE US EMBASSY (FORWARDED FROM A FRIEND REGARDING A RECENT INQUIRY TO DEBITO FROM A VICTIM OF ASSAULT)

“Thank you for forwarding this. Since the American filed a report he might be able to get some funding from his state for Victim’s Assistance for his medical bills… I confirmed… that it’s better to report an assault at a Police Station rather than a koban. And yes, the police tell us the incident should be reported where it happened.”
=========================================

Finally, if you are going to deal with police–any police–anywhere in the world, get everything you need in reproduceable document form (on paper, digitally, electronically, etc as best you can) before, during, and after police investigations. Otherwise you have no case. Might be tough, but that’s whatcha gotta do. More in our upcoming GUIDEBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS (http://www.debito.org/?p=189).

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3) IRISH TIMES AND NYT ON J HISTORICAL REVISIONISM

It’s business as usual as Japan Inc. takes on the world’s political arenas with spin doctoring over “Comfort Women” etc., to feint with the left hand while fiddling with the right. Distract with snow jobs while whitewashing the historical record. Only this time I think we’ve got enough people on the ground over here who know what our government is doing for a change. David McNeill releases an excellent article for the Irish Times, while Norimitsu Onishi, on an incredible roll these days, continues unearthing for the New York Times (who’da thunk it, considering Nori’s articles when he first got here…?)

=========================================
ABE UNLEASHES THE DENIERS OF HISTORY
By David McNeill
Irish Times, April 2, 2007

http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/world/2007/0331/1175003571900.html
Available by subscription only, so see full article blogged at
http://www.debito.org/?p=303

One of the Japanese TV networks recently pointed out that some of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ministers no longer stood up when he walked into the Cabinet meeting room. Even worse, fumed one observer, they kept chatting as he tries to start the meeting… [M]ost concluded: Mr. Abe had lost the respect of his troops.

The unruly Cabinet coincides with a period of plummeting approval ratings for the government, which started last year at 63 percent and now speed inexorably toward the low thirties as elections loom…

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, Mr. Abe is taking shelter under a political umbrella he has always found comfortable: nationalism. The man who coined the election slogan “beautiful Japan” and who will, if nothing else be remembered for re-injecting patriotism into the nation’s schools (in an education law approved Friday) is also unleashing the historical deniers and whitewashers who have long been kept tied up in the dungeons of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The deniers offer a startling historical counter-narrative: Japan was not the aggressor in the Pacific War but the liberator, fighting to defend itself from the U.S. and European powers and free Asia from the yoke of white colonialism; Imperial troops were not guilty, as most historians suggest, of some of the worst war crimes of the 20th century but the “normal excesses” of armies everywhere.

Mr. Abe’s cabinet is dominated by such revisionists…
=========================================

=========================================
JAPAN’S TEXTBOOKS REFLECT REVISED HISTORY
By Norimitsu Onishi, The New York Times April 1, 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/01/world/asia/01japan.html?_r=2&hp&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

In another sign that Japan is pressing ahead in revising its history of World War II, new high school textbooks will no longer acknowledge that the Imperial Army was responsible for a major atrocity in Okinawa, the government announced late Friday.

The Ministry of Education ordered publishers to delete passages stating that the Imperial Army ordered civilians to commit mass suicide during the Battle of Okinawa, as the island was about to fall to American troops in the final months of the war.

The decision was announced as part of the ministry’s annual screening of textbooks used in all public schools. The ministry also ordered changes to other delicate issues to dovetail with government assertions, though the screening is supposed to be free of political interference.

“I believe the screening system has been followed appropriately,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe…

Mr. Abe, after helping to found the Group of Young Parliamentarians Concerned About Japan’s Future and History Education in 1997, long led a campaign to reject what nationalists call a masochistic view of history that has robbed postwar Japanese of their pride.

Yasuhiro Nakasone, a former prime minister who is a staunch ally of Mr. Abe, recently denied what he wrote in 1978. In a memoir about his Imperial Navy experiences in Indonesia, titled “Commander of 3,000 Men at Age 23,” he wrote that some of his men “started attacking local women or became addicted to gambling.

“For them, I went to great pains, and had a comfort station built,” Mr. Nakasone wrote, using the euphemism for a military brothel.

But in a meeting with foreign journalists a week ago, Mr. Nakasone, now 88, issued a flat denial. He said he had actually set up a “recreation center,” where his men played Japanese board games like go and shogi…
=========================================

Games people play. Speaking of tinkering with the record:

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

4) “GUESTISM” PLACED IN A HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Some time ago, Alex Kerr, author of DOGS AND DEMONS and LOST JAPAN (and a person I have great respect for), was asked in an interview with the Japan Times (Oct 25, 2005) about he thought about activists (and, er, about me in particular). He responded:

=========================================
JT: In Dogs and Demons you argue that Japan has failed to internationalize. What do you think about the work of Debito Arudou and others to combat racial discrimination in Japan?

AK: Well, somebody has to do it. I’m glad that there is a whistle-blower out there. But, I am doubtful whether in the long run it really helps. One would hope that he could do it another way. He’s not doing it the Japanese way. He’s being very gaijin in his openly combative attitude, and usually in Japan that approach fails.

I fear that his activities might tend to just confirm conservative Japanese in their belief that gaijin are difficult to deal with.

That said, perhaps we who live here are slow to stick our necks out when we sense an injustice, and quick to self-censor in order to get along smoothly in our communities.

To me the most interesting aspect of Arudou Debito is that, in taking on Japanese citizenship, he has brought the dialogue inside Japan. His activities reveal the fact that gaijin and their gaijin ways are now a part of the fabric of Japan’s new society. A very small part of course, but a vocal and real part.
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/member/member.html?fl20051025zg.htm
=========================================

This sticks in my craw for two reasons: One is that Alex, who does incredible amounts of research for his books, seems ill-informed about the ways we have combatted racial discrimination. If he had read my book JAPANESE ONLY (and despite receiving a copy from me nearly two years ago, he wrote me last January that he still hadn’t read it), he might understand that ARE doing it the so-called “Japanese Way”. We took every channel and route available to us WITHIN the Japanese system, as I meticulously detail in the book. In fact, there are plenty of Japanese who do exactly what we do (and more), and don’t get slapped with a “gaijin” label. It is out of character for Alex to comment on something he hasn’t done thorough research on.

The other reason is that this quote has been lifted out of context and selectedly reproduced by the unscrupulous on places like Wikipedia:
=========================================
Some critics question Arudou’s brand of conflict resolution: the judicial system. Alex Kerr, author of the best-selling Dogs and Demons: Tales from the Dark Side of Japan (ISBN 0-8090-3943-5), criticize such tactics as “too combative,” is doubtful “whether in the long run it really helps,” noting that “in Japan…[the combative] approach fails.” Acknowledging that “gaijin and their gaijin ways are now part of the fabric of Japan’s new society,” Kerr also notes that Arudou’s activities may “confirm conservative Japanese in their belief that gaijin are difficult to deal with.”[24]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arudou_Debito
=========================================
The essence and thrust of Alex’s comment, which is in fact about two-thirds positive, is lost.

Anyhow, the reason I bring this up now is because Matt Dioguardi in a recent, thoughtful essay, grounds this phenomenon in historical context, from an angle I hadn’t considered before:

=========== MATT DIOGUARDI WRITES =================
As a foreign national who is making a life for himself in Japan, I’m personally concerned that remarks like his have a negative effect on me (as a so-called “gaijin”). Because regardless of what one may or may not think of Debito, unintentionally Kerr is commenting on all “gaijin”.

Compare this to C. Eric Lincoln’s vivid description of a “smart nigger” in Coming Through the Fire: Surviving Race and Place in America:

————————————————
The smart nigger was likely to be everything the good nigger was not. Most likely he was educated above the norm considered sufficient for colored folks; whether he got it in school or some bigger fool than he had put it into his head, he had some dangerous notions. In either case, Mr. Martin said that the smart nigger was a pain in his own ass, and everybody else’s too. He wanted too much. He wanted his street paved, and he wanted it paved because he paid taxes rather than because his wife cooked for the judge. His house was painted and well kept and he didn’t waste his money on rattletrap cars. He didn’t “owe money downtown,” or “take up” advances on his pay every Monday morning. More than likely he had “been up North,” and he had a colored newspaper come to his house in the mail. The smart nigger paid his poll taxes, and he was mighty slow, it seemed to Mr. Dubbie Gee, to answer when somebody said “Boy!” He didn’t think that the bad nigger was funny, or that the good nigger could be trusted. Clearly, every smart nigger would bear watching. “They don’t last long,” Mr. Martin said, and he “flat out had no use for them.” He said that if he were colored he’d either kick a smart nigger’s ass down off his shoulders or keep away from him. A smart nigger, he said “is a damn fool hell-bent for trouble. And mark my words, he’s gon’ find it quicker’n a catfish can suck a chicken gut off a bent pin.”
————————————————

Is Alex Kerr saying Debito is a “smart nigger”?

I’d like to note that Kerr should be more specific in his comments, because is it really the case that there are no non-“gaijin” doing the things that Debito does? Is he saying that when Japanese file lawsuits, this is a natural evolution of culture, but when Debito does it, it’s reinforcing the notion that “gaijin” have an “openly combative attitude”?

Is he saying the teachers who refuse to sing Kimigayo are acting like “gaijin”?

What exactly is the definitive way some one displays an “openly combative attitude”?

Moreover, what is the definitive “Japanese way”? And in what specific way is Debito not doing it?

It’s very disappointing to see some of Alex Kerr’s calibre engaging in Nihonjinron. He should know that there is nothing so destructive to Japan’s traditional local customs as Nihonjinron. Do I need to quote from his own books? Just like the centralization of construction standards begins to make all parks and all buildings look bleakly similar, the centralization of identity around the concept of “Japanese” in an essentialist sense is just as destructive to the development of a full personality.
=========== END MATT DIOGUARDI ==============

More at
http://japan.shadowofiris.com/nihonjinron/is-alex-kerr-calling-debito-a-smart-nigger/

The point is, I always find it amazing how easily people can fall right back into the “Guestist”-sounding paradigms of “nicely, nicely, don’t get too uppity, for it’s not ‘The Japanese Way'”. When in fact everything we have ever done has also been done by Japanese. I hope Alex gets around to reading my book (http://www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html) and will offer more informed comments.

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

5) GET READY FOR A DIVORCE-RATE BOOM IN JAPAN

I’ve written a few essays on the problems with divorce in Japan in the past. Artery site at http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#divorce

Well, the BBC is projecting the same thing as I have: that this month’s pension reforms are going to bring about a few changes in the artificially low divorce rates in Japan.

=========================================
JAPAN SET FOR DIVORCE RATE BOOM
By Chris Hogg BBC News, Tokyo
Published: 2007/04/01 05:44:14 GMT

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/6515193.stm

New pension laws coming into effect in Japan could lead to an explosion in divorces, some experts are warning. The rules will make it easier for wives to claim up to half their husband’s pension once the marriage is over.

The number of divorces in Japan has been rising for several decades, but the trend reversed four years ago when the new laws were first discussed. Many believe that wives in unhappy marriages have been waiting for the new laws to come into effect on Sunday…

And there is another factor at work. Japan’s baby boom generation is starting to retire this year… These absentee spouses will now have much more time to spend at home – all day, every day – perhaps for the first time in the couple’s married life. Many here believe that will prove too much for their wives to cope with.
=========================================

Consequently, what happens to the retirees who come home to wives they don’t know? This week’s issue of Terrie’s Take speculates:

=========================================
http://www.japaninc.com/terries_take (Click on Issue 415)

The wave of retirements will definitely bring about some interesting socio-economic changes. Not having a “family” of like-minded salarymen to report to every morning will be a big shock for most male baby boomers–who have been described as the “generation waiting for instructions”. They will be forced to make lifestyle changes and as a result, many will become angry, upset, and confused. We expect the suicide and divorce rate to soar as a result.

The problem, of course, is that many of these men have followed a rigid routine for the last 40 years and find it very difficult to make friends outside their work–particularly with their alienated wives. As a result, they are likely to become part of the statistics contributing to the pending divorce surge we wrote about several weeks ago.

After the divorce, the future is unremittingly bleak for many of these male retirees. A recent OECD survey found that Japanese men are amongst the loneliest in the world, with 16.7% of males rarely or never having contact with friends or colleagues outside work. However, with Need being the Mother of Invention (and life changes), we imagine that a growing number of retirees will realize that to save their marriages, they have to start a new life and get to know their partner again.
=========================================

Anyway, this is getting beyond the purview of Debito.org, but this TT issue offers more interesting crystal-balling about life in Geriatric Japan (probably assuming rapid migration into Japan doesn’t happen). Click on the above link for more.

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

6) U OF HYOGO AND IUHW ADDED TO UNIVERSITY BLACKLIST

The Blacklist of Japanese Universities (http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html) 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 at 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 winked out of existence when the Issho Kikaku website was rendered defunct (http://www.debito.org/?cat=25), 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

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

and finally… FUN FACTS!

Kicking off my first two installments of FUN FACTS–an occasional series of interesting articles I’ve found and blogged for posterity. Not necessarily internationalization- or immigration-related, but fun to know nonetheless.

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

FUN FACTS #1: COMPARATIVE PREFECTURAL ECONOMIC PROWESS

I’ve heard many times from people that Japanese newspapers and media are boring. But that’s often because the bored don’t know where to look. For example, have a look at this article from February 7, 2007’s Asahi Shinbun (pg 23):
http://www.debito.org/?p=314

The article talks about PM Abe’s vision of “doushuusei”, the consolidation of prefectures, to cut down on local government costs and maybe even (*cough*… pipe dream at this stage) devolving more power to more self-sufficient local governments.

If Japan’s 47 prefectures/municipal governments were cut down to eleven regions (see chart above), this would produce the following results: (2003 GDP sizes, population figures from the 2005 Census)

1) HOKKAIDO (population 5.63 million) would be the world’s 36th largest economy, around the size of PORTUGAL.
2) TOUHOKU (pop. 9.63 million), 25th, around the size of NORWAY.
3) NORTH KANTO (pop. 16.27 million) 17th, between SWITZERLAND and HOLLAND.
4) SOUTH KANTO (including Tokyo and Yokohama, pop. 28.30 million), 8th, around the size of CANADA.
5) TOUKAI (including Nagoya, pop. 15.02 million), 17th, around the size of HOLLAND.
6) SHIKOKU (pop. 4.09 million), 41st, around the size of SINGAPORE.
7) OKINAWA (pop. 1.36 million), 64th, around the size of LUXEMBOURG.
8) HOKURIKU (pop. 5.54 million), 32nd, around the size of ARGENTINA.
9) KANSAI (pop. 20.89 million), 16th, around the size of AUSTRALIA.
10) CHUUGOKU (pop. 7.68 million), 27th, around the size of SOUTH AFRICA.
11) KYUSHU (pop. 13.35 million), 17th, around the size of SWITZERLAND.

From this you can get an inkling of which parts of Japan are richest and poorest, and which are more or less likely to be self-sufficient (if the tax-hungry and control-freak national government would ever allow any political devolution to the provinces; fat chance at this stage) post-Doushuusei on an economic basis alone.

Hokkaido, you might note, remains unchanged–which is probably why our governor (a protege of LDP Kingpin Machimura (http://www.debito.org/?p=130) supports it. Makes no difference either way–except more brownie points for her for going with the flow.

Old Debito.org essay on Hokkaido’s economic dependency on the mainland here.
http://www.debito.org/hokkaidodependency.html

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

FUN FACTS #2 ON REGIONAL NON-JAPANESE RESIDENT USER-FRIENDLINESS
Courtesy of the Minami Nihon Shinbun of February 12, 2007:
http://www.debito.org/?p=315

Blogged here is a color-coded chart of how each of Japan’s 47 municipal governments stack up in terms of NJ user-friendliness for their NJ residents (tabunka kyousei). This is behind the two other pillars the national government (Soumushou) determined in March 2006 to be the backbone of Japan’s internationalization: “International Communication” (kokusai kouryuu), and “International Cooperation” (kokusai kyouryoku). “Multicultural Coexistence”, the cleanest translation I can come up for tabunka kyousei, means, according to the article, “the mutual acknowledgement of peoples’ differences by nationality and ethnicity, and living together as equals in the local communities”.

Hm. This shows quite a bit of thought on the part of the government. Well and good. But in practice?

An NPO in Osaka (the Tabunka Kyousei Center) launched a survey to see how well each local government did. According to the article, they included services such as Japanese lessons, information in foreign languages, education for their children, and policies taking into consideration local non-Japanese residents, etc. The data was collected between October 2005 and August 2006. Full marks are 80 points.

As you can see by the color coding in the above article, Tokyo and Hyogo scored best, then high-foreign population centers near Aichi and Gifu bubbled under. Scoring worst were Aomori, Nagasaki, Saga, Ehime, and (gasp–seriously) Okinawa!

The Japan Times (Feb 15, 2007) also did a full article on this, blogged on Debito.org at
http://www.debito.org/?p=223

The average score was just above half marks, 41 points. So any prefecture in the map above colored orange or below should hang their heads in shame. Note how they are often the prefectures with depopulation problems (not to mention imported brides for farmers). So if local governments want to avoid acculturalization issues in the future, they had better get their acts together and make people more comfortable living there.

More FUN FACTS to follow. Finally going through a stack of a couple hundred newspapers I’ve saved over the years, and am uncovering lots of buried treasure…
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

All for now. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito in Sapporo
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OF APRIL 7, 2007 ENDS

Gaijin Hanzai publisher Eichi Shuppan goes bankrupt

mytest

Hi Blog. Thanks to Trans-Pacific Radio for letting me know: Fukumimi blog reports (citing Japan Probe) that Eichi Shuppan, publisher of the infamous GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine, has gone bankrupt.  (And I don’t mean just morally bankrupt…)
Now, before anyone says we dood it, read the report from Fukumimi below. Not sure GAIJIN HANZAI magazine was entirely responsible (but the bath they took on it certainly didn’t help).

Then this begs the question: What was a publisher in such fragile condition trying to pull by taking on this high-risk (if they even saw it as that) controversial magazine? If it was merely trying to stir up debate, as the editor asserted throughout, then it should have had a bit more of a buffer cash flow in its safe. Naw. In the end, they were just trying to sell magazines through provocation, for they never expected it to be a flop (they obviously couldn’t afford one). No wonder they were on tenterhooks the whole time during this debate.

Okay, people are probably expecting me to crow a bit. Well… let’s just state the obvious: Darwin Awards for the publishing industry. Eichi Shuppan was just stupid. Glass houses and stones? Publishing houses and racist overtones? Reap and sow. Debito

=============================
Good Bye to Eichi Publishing April 5, 2007
Posted by fukumimi in Japan, Economy & Business. trackback
Good bye and good riddance to the publisher (link appears down) of racially inflammatory content.
http://fukumimi.wordpress.com/2007/04/05/good-bye-to-eichi-publishing/

Eichi Shuppan has closed its doors and is being liquidated. It had oustanding debts of JPY2.3B (about $20 million give or take).

I’m sure people like Debito and JapanProbe will be celebrating, although the failure of the business is unrelated to the recent fuss over racist publications, and is rather due to the fact that its parent company has closed its doors and Eichi was one of the subsidiaries which was already in trouble and could not stand on its own two feet. The publishing of smut had been transferred to a different company a long time ago (Eichi seems to have retained the sales rights in that reorganization, which was due to the company being busted on pornography charges), and that was the cash cow business anyway, although this line is no doubt also feeling the heat from internet sites (many of which apparently feature many scanned images from old magazines, including those of Eichi, so I’m told….)

Addendum: The news is courtesy of Teikoku DataBank via a Nikkei Telecon subscription (no link available to the actual data regarding Eichi, but see here for an article).
=========================================
ENDS

嫌悪感を助長した「外人犯罪」ムックの出版社は倒産

mytest

ブログの皆様、ヘイトスピーチと外国人に対する嫌悪感を助長する「外人犯罪裏ファイル」を本年1月末に出版した英知出版は先日倒産しました。これは外国人コミニュニティによる不買運動が要因ではないと思いますが、これくらい脆い会社はこの不祥事を起すべからず、ではないでしょうか。有道 出人

===============================
アダルト雑誌大手、英知出版倒産…負債総額23億円
ZAKZAK 2007/04/05
http://www.zakzak.co.jp/gei/2007_04/g2007040515.html

 『ビデオボーイ』『デラべっぴん』など男性用アダルト雑誌を発売していた英知出版(上野文明社長)が倒産していたことが5日、分かった。3月30日付で事業活動を停止し、今月中に自己破産を申請する予定という。負債総額は約23億円の見通し。出版不況やインターネットの普及など外部環境が悪化するなか、ヒット作に恵まれなかったことが経営を直撃したようだ。

 民間信用調査機関によると、英知出版は1982年7月に設立。アダルト雑誌のほか、『411(フォー・ダブワン)』『韓国TV映画ファンBOOK』など一般雑誌の出版・販売を手がけて成長してきた。

 96年3月期には単体売上高が85億円、従業員も100人規模まで拡大したが、半面、94年12月には、約26万部のアダルト雑誌『Beppin(べっぴん)』がわいせつ図画販売容疑で警視庁に摘発されて廃刊。96年1月には、東京国税局に約11億円の申告漏れ(関連3社を含む)を指摘され、追徴税額約5億6000万円を支払うなど所得隠しが判明したこともあった。

 一連の事件、騒動を受けて、96年3月に別会社を設立してアダルト雑誌の出版事業を移管。その後、英知出版は主力をファッション雑誌の出版・発売に切り替えた。

 だが、これ以降、ヒット作に恵まれず、出版不況とネットの隆盛など外部環境も加わり、資金繰りが悪化。01年に同社の全株式をセブンシーズホールディングスが取得するなど、親会社が転々とし、04年にはティーケーパートナーズに全株式が譲渡されていた。

 「そのティーケー社が3月27日に自己破産申請の準備に入り、連鎖倒産したようだ」(民間信用調査機関)という。

 同社を知る関係者はこう振り返る。

 「ブルセラがブームになった1990年代までが黄金期だった。1999年11月の児童ポルノ法施行で、営業環境が一変し、女子高生のセミヌードや中学生のきわどい水着姿が掲載できなくなった。その後は(タダで無修正動画が手に入る)インターネットの普及もあり、別会社に移管したのは正解だったが…」

 英知出版をめぐっては、カトリック系の英知大学(兵庫県尼崎市、学生数850人)が、「英知」をネットで検索すると、アダルト雑誌のイメージが強い同社がヒットすることなどを問題視。同大は08年度から学校名を「大阪聖トマス大学」に改める騒動もあった。
ZAKZAK 2007/04/05
ENDS

Joe Jones on surrogate mothers and J citizenship (UPDATED)

mytest

Hi Blog. In his fascinating new JAPAN LAW blog by friend Joe Jones (of Mutantfrog blog fame), charting developments which interest the foreign lawyer (gaiben) community, we have yet another facet of Japanese citizenship up for dispute. The trend for infertile couples to seek Surrogate Mothers (i.e., and at the risk of sounding a bit crass: borrowing another woman’s womb to bring a child to term after in vitro fertilization and surgical impregnation).

Japan’s Supreme Court recently ruled that the woman giving birth, not the woman who contributed her DNA, is to be recognized as the legal mother. Now throw in the new question of paternity (“he’s my dad, but she’s not my mom… er, what?”) and you have yet another forehead-slapper from our ever-sagacious judiciary.

Defeats the whole purpose of Surrogate Motherhood, in my view, and throws in extra monkey wrenches should Japanese wish to use extranational surrogates to help with Japan’s low birthrate. (This is precisely what happened; see article from China Post below Joe’s writeup.)

The Japanese government (and the popular public) has long had the unofficial attitude that the uterus is the Property of the State, not the property of the mother (shikyuu (or hara) wa karimono) (See also “WOMENSWORD” by Kittredge Cherry, p 87-88). So I guess this is the next logical extension.

I blog this even though it is not really a foreigner issue (except to say people had better not outsource overseas if they want their babies to have Japanese nationality, let alone legal ties to mom). But definitely a citizenship issue in Japan. And it’s a great excuse to notify readers of Joe Jones’s new blog.

UPDATE APRIL 12: AND NOW WITH THE PARENTS REFUSING TO REGISTER THEIR CHILDREN, IT *HAS* BECOME A FOREIGNER ISSUE–BECAUSE THEIR CHILDREN HAVE BEEN DENIED JAPANESE CITIZENSHIP. SEE UPDATE AT VERY BOTTOM

Turning the keyboard over to Joe:

===================================
Surrogate children are the children of the surrogate
Posted by Joe Jones under Family Law, Supreme Court

The Supreme Court ruled on March 24 that children born to a surrogate mother are not legally the children of their biological parents. The Court came to this conclusion based on the Civil Code provision (art. 772) that maternity is recognized by giving birth to the child. The Court also deemed that enforcing a US court order which reached the opposite conclusion would violate public policy. (PDF of decision in Japanese) This overturns a Tokyo High Court ruling passed down in October, which recognized the parental rights of the biological parents.

The story here is not that the Supreme Court is against surrogate parents. Rather, they give priority to strict construction of the Civil Code, which was drafted long before surrogate parenting was on the horizon. This viewpoint almost invites the Diet to pass a new statute to fill out this hole… an especially likely proposition when you consider that the mother of these children is a TV personality who will probably push for public support. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is being characteristically mum about the whole thing, however, so this may require more publicity before it moves forward.

Why not adopt? For one thing, the children’s “natural mother” would forever be recorded in the family’s koseki (family register), the document which evidences their relationship. Paternity may be an interesting issue as well. Under the Civil Code, there is a presumption that a child was sired by the husband of its mother. The mother’s husband may disavow paternity, and another man may claim paternity, but either claim must go through the Family Court, one of Japan’s more well-traveled bureaucratic nightmares. Until the paternity of the biological father is established, the children may not even be construed as Japanese citizens.

See PDF of the decision at
http://www.redhead.jp/japanlaw/2007/04/03/surrogate-children-are-the-children-of-the-surrogate/

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

Japan court rejects surrogate twins
The China Post 2007/3/24
By Carl Freire TOKYO, AP
http://www.chinapost.com.tw/news/archives/asiapacific/2007324/105406.htm

Japan’s Supreme Court on Friday rejected a lower bench’s ruling that would have allowed a Japanese couple to register their twin sons — born in the United States to an American surrogate mother — as their own.

The nation’s top court struck down a September 2006 Tokyo High Court decision ordering a local government to accept Aki Mukai, a television personality, and her husband Nobuhiko Takada’s registration of their two boys, according to a copy of the ruling posted on the Supreme Court’s Web page.

The Supreme Court cited in its decision a Japanese law that presumes the woman who gives birth to a child is its mother.

Surrogate births involve removing an egg for fertilization and implanting it in another woman who carries the baby to birth. Mukai can no longer have children of her own after undergoing a hysterectomy because of cancer.

Friday’s ruling upheld a November 2005 Tokyo Family Court verdict that found in favor of the local government’s decision to reject their registration request. Local authorities had refused to register the twins because the Justice Ministry said Mukai could not be recognized as the boys’ mother.

In a message on her Internet home page, Mukai said she had “expected the Supreme Court to hand down a conservative ruling,” but added she wanted to reserve further comment until she had a chance to study it more closely.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the case highlighted the need for discussion and debate.

“How we should think about the parent-child relationship is a fundamental problem for us as human beings,” Abe told reporters Friday evening.
============================
ENDS

UPDATE APRIL 12, 2007

TV show Tokudane this morning did a long report on Mukai Aki and Takada Nobuhiko, the plaintiffs in the abovementioned cases.

The news is that they refused to file paperwork to acknowledge the paternity of husband Takada over their two children within a deadline, which was today.

Meaning that now they are the proud parents of two American (and only American) citizens, since the courts have refused Mukai maternity status, and there is no other way to establish citizenship (except by legal adoption) through the Koseki system.

They refused to file the paperwork because, according to the show:

1) The mother of the children would be listed as “Cindy” (the surrogate), not Mukai Aki.
2) “Cindy” legally relinquished all ties to the children, and a Nevada court established the full parentage of Mukai and Takada over the twins.
3) They promised both Cindy and the courts that “Cindy” would be fully left out of future proceedings.
4) The inability of Japanese courts to uphold Nevada court rulings (based upon Meiji-Era laws which are based upon ancient ways of establishing parentage (since modern methods, such as DNA testing, didn’t exist) would make registering “Cindy” an illegal act (in Nevada), and the breaking of a promise made to “Cindy”.

So they will raise their children as Japanese with American citizenship.

As the show pointed out, this means:

1) The children (now three years old) must get visas, and keep renewing them.
2) The children must register as foreigners, and carry Gaijin Cards 24-7, or face criminal charges, once they reach Junior-High age.
3) The children have no automatic right to compulsory education (gimu kyouiku), guaranteed only to citizens in Japan.
4) The children cannot vote.
5) The children cannot participate in the political process.
6) The children have no automatic inheritance rights (short of the parents writing a Will).

Now my opinion. I’m very proud of Mukai and Takada standing up for themselves like this. The ruling, as I mentioned above, is ludicrous. And it may inspire lawmakers to update the citizenship laws to reflect modern realities.

Moreover, this case (attracting great attention due to the couple’s celebrity status) might even point out out what a raw deal foreigners have in Japan (particularly regarding education and inheritance), even if they ARE born here.

Debito in Sapporo

SOME REFERENTIAL LINKS:
Japan Times Saturday, March 24, 2007 Top court: No registry for pair born to surrogate
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070324a3.html

Japan Times Wednesday, Apr. 4, 2007 READERS IN COUNCIL Shoddy ruling on baby twins
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/rc20070404a4.html

Tokyo High Court’s reasoning in 2005 when rejecting Mukai and Takada’s case (basing it more upon public morals than maternity issues):
Japan Times: Tuesday, May 24, 2005 “High court rejects registering babies by surrogate mother”

Presiding Judge Sota Tanaka of the Osaka High Court: “Surrogate birth poses a serious humanitarian concern as it treats a person as a reproductive tool and causes danger to a third person through pregnancy and giving birth. The contract for such surrogate births violates public order and morals and is invalid, as it could cause a serious feud over the child.”
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/nn20050524a5.html

ENDS

Fun Facts #2: Comparative govt “kokusaika”-friendliness by Prefecture

mytest

Hi Blog. More FUN FACTS (maybe this time “factoids”), courtesy of the Minami Nihon Shinbun of February 12, 2007:

(Click on image to see whole article, or widen your browser window to see color map)

minaminihon0212070.jpg

This is a color-coded chart of how each of Japan’s 47 municipal governments stack up in terms of NJ user-friendliness for their NJ residents (tabunka kyousei)–behind the two other pillars the national government (Soumushou) determined in March 2006 to be the backbone of Japan’s internationalization: “International Communication” (kokusai kouryuu), and “International Cooperation” (kokusai kyouryoku). “Multicultural Coexistence”, the cleanest translation I can come up for tabunka kyousei, means, according to the article, “the mutual acknowledgement of peoples’ differences by nationality and ethnicity, and living together as equals in the local communities”.

Hm. This shows quite a bit of thought on the part of the government. Well and good. But in practice?

An NPO in Osaka (the Tabunka Kyousei Center) launched a survey to see how well each local government did. According to the article, they included services such as Japanese lessons, information in foreign languages, education for their children, and policies taking into consideration local non-Japanese residents, etc. The data was collected between October 2005 and August 2006. Full marks are 80 points.

As you can see by the color coding in the above article, Tokyo and Hyogo scored best, then high-foreign population centers near Aichi and Gifu bubbled under. Scoring worst were Aomori, Nagasaki, Saga, Ehime, and (gasp–seriously) Okinawa!

The Japan Times (Feb 15, 2007) also did a full article on this, blogged on Debito.org at http://www.debito.org/?p=223

The average score was just above half marks, 41 points. So any prefecture in the map above colored orange or below should hang their heads in shame. Note how they are often the ones with depopulation problems (not to mention imported brides for farmers), so if local governments want to avoid acculturalization issues in the future, they had better get their acts together and make people more comfortable living there.

Debito in Sapporo

Fun Facts #1: Comparative GDPs of J Prefectures

mytest

Hello Blog. Kicking off my first installment of FUN FACTS–an occasional series of interesting articles I’ve found and blogged for posterity. Not necessarily internationalization- or immigration-related, but fun to know nonetheless.

I’ve heard many times from people that Japanese newspapers and media are boring. But that’s often because the bored don’t know where to look. For example, have a look at this article from February 7, 2007’s Asahi Shinbun (pg 23) (click on image to see entire image; some English translation follows article):

asahi020707.jpg

The article talks about PM Abe’s vision of “doushuusei”, the consolidation of prefectures, to cut down on local government costs and maybe even (*cough*–pipe dream at this stage) devolving more power to more self-sufficient local governments.

If Japan’s 47 prefectures/municipal governments were cut down to eleven regions (see chart above), this would produce the following results: (All figures for GDP are dated 2003 (I won’t bother to convert), and population figures from the 2005 Census.)

1) HOKKAIDO (population 5.63 million) would be the world’s 36th largest economy, around the size of PORTUGAL.
2) TOUHOKU (pop. 9.63 million), 25th, around the size of NORWAY.
3) NORTH KANTO (pop. 16.27 million) 17th, between SWITZERLAND and HOLLAND.
4) SOUTH KANTO (including Tokyo and Yokohama, pop. 28.30 million), 8th, around the size of CANADA.
5) TOUKAI (including Nagoya, pop. 15.02 million), 17th, around the size of HOLLAND.
6) SHIKOKU (pop. 4.09 million), 41st, around the size of SINGAPORE.
7) OKINAWA (pop. 1.36 million), 64th, around the size of LUXEMBOURG.
8) HOKURIKU (pop. 5.54 million), 32nd, around the size of ARGENTINA.
9) KANSAI (pop. 20.89 million), 16th, around the size of AUSTRALIA.
10) CHUUGOKU (pop. 7.68 million), 27th, around the size of SOUTH AFRICA.
11) KYUSHU (pop. 13.35 million), 17th, around the size of SWITZERLAND.

I’ll let readers knead and pull the stats for a bit–dividing GDP sizes by population etc. But from this you can get an inkling of which parts of Japan are richest and poorest, and which are more or less likely to be self-sufficient (if the tax-hungry and control-freak national government would ever allow any political devolution to the provinces; fat chance at this stage) post-Doushuusei on an economic basis alone.

Old Debito.org essay on Hokkaido’s economic dependency on the mainland here. Here endeth the first Fun Facts. Hope you enjoyed. Another one in the pipeline. Debito in Sapporo

Metropolis on police treatment of crime against NJ

mytest

Hi Blog. Here’s an article which will hopefully start the pendelum swinging backwards on the whole “foreigners are potential criminals” starting point whenever NJ interact which the police. Some advice follows from the US Embassy (gleaned after a recent email exchange over yet another case of post-assault police negligence) which would have made my closing comments a little more informative. Debito

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

Feature
Crime Spree
Foreigners who turn to Japan’s justice system for help find themselves ignored. Is incompetence to blame—or racism?
METROPOLIS MAGAZINE #677 MARCH 16, 2007
By Oscar Johnson

http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/677/feature.asp

By all accounts, Matt Lacey was doing well in the early summer of 2004. The 42-year-old American was a language student at a YMCA in Fukuoka, and he had plans to open his own business. Then in August, a friend who became worried about his absence from school found Lacey’s body in his apartment. The mystery surrounding his death, says Lacey’s family, is trumped only by the way local police have handled the case.

Trying to extract redress from Japan’s criminal justice system can be an exercise in the absurd for anyone. But add in the suspicion that’s associated with a foreign face or name, and that absurdity can turn into dismay and outrage. Many non-Japanese say their crime reports are routinely dismissed by police, who may instead turn a suspicious eye on them for daring to complain about being victims. At best, police negligence can underscore a foreigners’ second-class status; at worst, it can lead to an atmosphere where crimes against gaijin are tacitly condoned.

After getting that fateful call while visiting his hometown of Poughkeepsie, NY, Lacey’s brother Charles, a college lecturer in Nagoya, says police told him the death was likely due to diarrhea and dehydration. When Charles arrived a few days later, that finding was revised to “an accidental fall in the kitchen,” which due to Matt’s “abnormally thin skull,” killed him. Yet his body had been found sprawled on a futon in his shuttered bedroom.

In the months that followed, Lacey did his own detective work. After all, he says, police told him that if he wanted them to dig deeper, he was on his own. To date, he is no closer to learning more about how or why his brother died. What he has learned is that in contrast to the police’s initial findings, Matt’s body was found with his head surrounded in what was likely a pool of blood; there was a hard-to-miss “egg-size” lump that accompanied the 20cm-long crack on his skull; the medical examiner who did the autopsy rejects the police’s “thin-skull” theory; counter to police assertions, neighbors said they had not been questioned; and the medical examiner said police were not present for the examination.

“I’m not sure if they initially suspected my brother died from a fractured skull, but once the facts became clear, it should have been investigated rigorously,” Lacey says. He has since enlisted the aid of the US Consulate in Fukuoka, the American Embassy in Tokyo, and two US forensic experts. He’s also considering hiring a private investigator to uncover whether there was any foul play behind the death, even though police insisted to media in February that it was an accident. “They continued to put the onus on me,” Lacey says of his dealings with Fukuoka police. “They said, ‘We don’t speak English,’ and any information I could find they’d be happy to listen to. They were asking me to do their work.”

To be fair, such treatment is hardly restricted to foreigners. When Saitama police snubbed pleas from 21-year-old Shiori Ino about a stalker who later murdered her in 1999 (then covered up their blunder), it showed that law enforcement is often neglectful of the people they should be helping. In recent years, such scandals have lead to reforms of how police treat victims and their complaints. But as vigilance has increased, so too has the nation’s “foreign crime” drama, in which gaijin are typecast as perpetrators.

This raises the question of whether cases such as Matt Lacey’s are victims of Keystone Kops or anti-foreigner discrimination. Charles Lacey, who says he’s seen his fair share of malicious police acts in New York City, believes his brother’s case “boils down to police negligence.” But others say that this isn’t always the case. From reporting simple nuisances to serious crimes—whether committed against themselves or others—many foreigners say police, as well as courts, send a clear message: gaijin need not bother to seek justice.

For Chad and Keiko Edwards of Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, that realization came on the back of a shaggy dog’s incessant late-night barking. Unable to endure the racket and the owner’s ambivalence, they sought solace from local law enforcement. “When the officer asked for and heard our last name [over the phone], his manner changed completely,” recounts the husband. “‘Eh? Gaijin ka?’ he said.” In the end, a heated rebuttal and follow-up call to the cop’s supervisor proved far less helpful than a six-pack of beer did for the dog’s owner.

Far more ominous is the account of a couple in Urayasu, Chiba, who wish to remain anonymous. When they phoned the police last year to report that the foreign-born husband witnessed a man beaten by three attackers and thrown into a black van, which then sped away, police abruptly lost interest after hearing his name. “What I don’t get,” the man says, “is two nights later, at about 8 o’clock, in front of the apartment were I’ve lived for four years, police showed up to interrupt my perfectly civil conversation with another black man to tell us to move on because a neighbor had called to complain. But if I call about a guy who’s probably at the bottom of the Bay by now, they’re not interested.”

Others, like Nancy Tittersall, whose worry that her broken window was an attempted burglary was dismissed by the same police department that later harassed her, demanding she show ID, wonders why the authorities “make me feel as if I was part of the problem, rather than a victim.”

The answer is quite simple, says Sapporo-based anti-discrimination activist Debito Arudou, on a recent speaking tour in Tokyo.

“I don’t think police have gotten around to seeing foreigners as potential victims—only as potential perpetrators. I’m building a case based on anecdotes that show that [foreign] people feel they are not getting adequate police protection. First, I’ve heard several stories of people having chimpira (young yakuza) pick fights with them, getting beat up, then being taken to the police station and not being allowed to leave until they sign an agreement to pay restitution. Second, people are asking police for assistance—like walking in a police box for directions—and being asked to show their gaijin card.”

Negative perceptions of foreigners by the police and public is a reality in Japan, just as it is elsewhere, says H. Richard Friman, director of the Institute for Transnational Justice and a political science professor at Wisconsin’s Marquette University. But in Japan, he notes in an email interview, the situation is exacerbated by several factors, not least of which is “the willingness of political officials to play the ‘crime-by-foreigners’ card for political gain… Japanese aggregate crime data rarely specifies the victim of the crime, and anecdotal evidence… tends to stress those cases where Japanese are victims, or high profile cases of foreigner-on-foreigner violence. Thus, the common image is that Japanese especially are at risk.”

Despite efforts by the police and other agencies to improve understandings of foreign language and culture, the topic of foreigners and crime continues to pose special challenges. Police training remains limited, as does broader language support in the criminal justice process.” But not everyone agrees.

Hyogo-based activist Michael H. Fox admits the scarcity of crime-victim data is suspicious, especially as it relates to foreigners. But he has a different take on the overall problem. Fox spends his spare time fighting police malfeasance, especially wrongful arrests, and he goes as far as to call police “the biggest criminals in the country.” But as for whom they target, he says, “I don’t think foreigners have a particular problem. I work mostly with Japanese, and they are treated horribly.”

Tell that to Steve Christie, an adjunct professor who left Berkeley, California, for Tokyo 12 years ago. Christie says his estranged wife abducted his then 10-year-old son almost a year and a half ago—despite an agreement not to take the child from the parent he was with, as well as other Japanese legal documents that include his son’s written wishes. Japan, which snubs the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, is drawing increasing international attention for practices deemed detrimental to children and non-Japanese parents alike.

Christie says his wife took his son, who was living with him at the time, out for dinner and never returned. When he sought help from police, his report was dismissed. Three days later, he tracked his wife down at her new residence in Shibuya. Accompanied by a friend who served as photographer and witness, Christie arrived in time to see his wife, her parents and a burly Japanese man preparing to leave with his son.

He says he was repeatedly assaulted by the man—to the point of having his head driven into a concrete wall—for asking what was going on. At one point, his friend, who did not otherwise intervene, picked up the cellphone that fell from the man’s pocket and put it on a ledge for safekeeping. When police arrived (above), they ignored the paperwork Christie says he brought as evidence of custody rights, and instead took him, his wife and both of their friends to the police station. His request to have his bleeding head treated at a hospital was ignored. At the station, Christie says police served a peculiar brand of justice. “They said, ‘If you persist in your complaint of assault and battery, we’re going to arrest you for stealing [his accused assailant’s] cellphone—and here I am with my head bleeding.

“I think the primary reason for taking me to the police station was to remove me from the scene so my wife’s parents could abduct my son,” says Christie, who along with his lawyer will appear in a documentary about child abductions. Similar to many others in custody disputes with Japanese, Christie says he has spent just one hour with his son —in court—as legal proceedings plod on and allow his wife to keep their son in a secret location. “In Japan, it’s institutionalized racism against foreigners,” he says. “It’s not just law enforcement but also the judicial branch. The courts say they’re operating in the best interest of the child, but they’re not.”

The same can be said of how police treat foreigners victims who report a crime, but there are a few things that can be done to increase the chances of an adequate police response, according to activist Arudou. The first is to be patient and not expect a quick resoltion. “If you get flustered, it’s only going to turn the cops off,” he says. “Have everything ready for presentation. If it’s rape or robbery, have photos of the location or stolen property; if there’s a language problem, take someone with you to interpret.”

Arudou stresses that when dealing with the police, “establishing your credibility is paramount”—even if theirs may be on shaky ground.
ENDS

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

ADDENDUM FROM LAURIE TROST, HEAD OF THE US CITIZENS’ SERVICES SECTION OF THE US EMBASSY (FORWARDED FROM A FRIEND REGARDING A RECENT INQUIRY TO DEBITO FROM A VICTIM OF ASSAULT…)

Thank you for forwarding this. Since the American filed a report he might be able to get some funding from his state for Victim’s Assistance for his medical bills… I confirmed with Otokita-san and Itami-san that it’s better to report an assault at a Police Station rather than a koban. And yes, the police tell us the incident should be reported where it happened.

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

FINALLY, IF YOU ARE GOING TO DEAL WITH POLICE, ANY POLICE, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, GET EVERYTHING YOU NEED IN REPRODUCABLE DOCUMENT FORM (ON PAPER, DIGITALLY, ELECTRONICALLY AS BEST YOU CAN) BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER POLICE INVESTIGATIONS. OTHERWISE YOU HAVE NO CASE. MIGHT BE TOUGH, BUT THAT’S WHAT YOU’VE GOTTA DO. MORE IN OUR UPCOMING GUIDEBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS. DEBITO

Irish Times: “Abe unleashes the deniers of history”, NYT on textbook revisionism

mytest

Hello Blog. Thought this would happen. It’s business as usual as Japan Inc. takes on the world’s political arenas with spin doctoring over “Comfort Women” etc., to feint with the left hand while fiddling with the right. Distract with snow jobs while whitewashing the historical record. Only this time I think we’ve got enough people on the ground over here who know what our government is doing for a change. David McNeill releases an excellent article for the Irish Times, while Norimitsu Onishi, on an incredible roll these days, continues unearthing for the New York Times (who’da thunk it, considering Nori’s articles when he first got here…?) Debito in Sapporo

==============================
Abe unleashes the deniers of history
David McNeill
Irish Times, April 2, 2007

http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/world/2007/0331/1175003571900.html

One of the Japanese TV networks recently pointed out that some of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ministers no longer stood up when he walked into the Cabinet meeting room. Even worse, fumed one observer, they kept chatting as he tries to start the meeting. Such disrespectful behavior in a political culture where small acts carry enormous symbolic weight could only mean one thing, most concluded: Mr. Abe had lost the respect of his troops.

The unruly Cabinet coincides with a period of plummeting approval ratings for the government, which started last year at 63 percent and now speed inexorably toward the low thirties as elections loom. After a string of scandals and six months in office compared unfavorably to the rocket-fuelled years of Mr. Abe’s predecessor Junichiro Koizumi, that shuffling of ministerial feet may be the harbinger of a prime-ministerial lynch mob.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, Mr. Abe is taking shelter under a political umbrella he has always found comfortable: nationalism. The man who coined the election slogan “beautiful Japan” and who will, if nothing else be remembered for re-injecting patriotism into the nation’s schools (in an education law approved Friday) is also unleashing the historical deniers and whitewashers who have long been kept tied up in the dungeons of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The deniers offer a startling historical counter-narrative: Japan was not the aggressor in the Pacific War but the liberator, fighting to defend itself from the U.S. and European powers and free Asia from the yoke of white colonialism; Imperial troops were not guilty, as most historians suggest, of some of the worst war crimes of the 20th century but the “normal excesses” of armies everywhere.

Mr. Abe’s cabinet is dominated by such revisionists. Even as the prime minister was trying to put out the diplomatic fires sparked by his assertion in March that the Japanese wartime state did not round up thousands of sex slaves, his No.3 minister, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hakubun Shimomura was again denying the military was involved. “It is true that there were “comfort women” said Mr. Shimomura. “I believe some parents may have sold their daughters. But it does not mean the Japanese army was involved.”

Foreign Minister Taro Aso claims a proposed US House of Representatives resolution demanding Japan apologise for the abuse of the women is “not based on the facts.” Mr. Abe himself still says there was no coercion of the women “in the narrow sense of the word.”

As one observer said, what part of “coercion” does Mr. Abe not understand? “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,” wrote Tessa Morris-Suzuki, a professor of Japanese History at the Australian National University.

The ground zero of the revisionist movement is Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine and the attached museum, which offers the same Alice-in-Wonderland version of history. For decades, Yasukuni has generated controversy because among the 2.5 million ordinary troops enshrined there are the men – officially branded war criminals — who led Japan’s disastrous 1931-45 campaign. The government has always said that it had nothing to do with the decision by Yasukuni’s Shinto priests to honour the men but evidence released this week suggests this is a lie.

Papers released by Yasukuni and compiled in a new book claim the government was “closely involved” in the campaign to enshrine hundreds of A, B, and C-class war criminals, going back to 1958. The campaign was of course done in secret. “How about enshrining them in a way that would be hard to discover,” wrote one Welfare Ministry bureaucrat. The conservative Yomiuri newspaper concluded Thursday that the government and the shrine “shared the view” that war criminals should be honoured.

Mr. Abe is a well-known supporter of prime ministerial visits to the shrine. Confronted with evidence that successive governments had shredded Japan’s Constitutional ban on the separation of state and religion, however, he reverted to type by denying any such thing. “I don’t think there is any problem,” he told incredulous reporters, those big teddy-bear eyes darting nervously from side to side.

So far the prime minister has swatted away speculation that he will visit Yasukuni this year, but this is clearly a case of damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. If he goes, he will torpedo Japan’s slowly healing ties with China and South Korea; if he doesn’t his nationalist supporters will cry foul.

The fact that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is due to visit Japan early next month makes this political hire-wire act that much more fascinating for political watchers. Will the leaders of one of the world’s most important bilateral relationships discuss Japan’s undigested history? Will Mr. Abe continue to insist that politics and economics be kept separate? And will he keep the political forces he has helped unleash from destroying the hard-won respect Japan has earned since 1945?
ENDS

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

MEANWHILE, NORIMITSU ONISHI OF THE NYT IS ON A ROLL. KEEP IT UP, NORI. ARTICLE COURTESY DAVID ANDERSON.

April 1, 2007
Japan’s Textbooks Reflect Revised History
THE NEW YORK TIMES
By NORIMITSU ONISHI

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/01/world/asia/01japan.html?_r=2&hp&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

TOKYO, March 31 — In another sign that Japan is pressing ahead in revising its history of World War II, new high school textbooks will no longer acknowledge that the Imperial Army was responsible for a major atrocity in Okinawa, the government announced late Friday.

The Ministry of Education ordered publishers to delete passages stating that the Imperial Army ordered civilians to commit mass suicide during the Battle of Okinawa, as the island was about to fall to American troops in the final months of the war.

The decision was announced as part of the ministry’s annual screening of textbooks used in all public schools. The ministry also ordered changes to other delicate issues to dovetail with government assertions, though the screening is supposed to be free of political interference.

“I believe the screening system has been followed appropriately,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has long campaigned to soften the treatment in textbooks of Japan’s wartime conduct.

The decision on the Battle of Okinawa, which came as a surprise because the ministry had never objected to the description in the past, followed recent denials by Mr. Abe that the military had coerced women into sexual slavery during the war.

The results of the annual textbook screening are closely watched in China, South Korea and other Asian countries. So the fresh denial of the military’s responsibility in the Battle of Okinawa and in sexual slavery — long accepted as historical facts — is likely to deepen suspicions in Asia that Tokyo is trying to whitewash its militarist past even as it tries to raise the profile of its current forces.

Shortly after assuming office last fall, Mr. Abe transformed the Defense Agency into a full ministry. He has said that his most important goal is to revise the American-imposed, pacifist Constitution that forbids Japan from having a full-fledged military with offensive abilities.

Some 200,000 Americans and Japanese died during the Battle of Okinawa, one of the most brutal clashes of the war. It was the only battle on Japanese soil involving civilians, but Okinawa was not just any part of Japan.

It was only in the late 19th century that Japan officially annexed Okinawa, a kingdom that, to this day, has retained some of its own culture. During World War II, when many Okinawans still spoke a different dialect, Japanese troops treated the locals brutally. In its history of the war, the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum presents Okinawa as being caught in the fighting between America and Japan — a starkly different view from the Yasukuni Shrine war museum, which presents Japan as a liberator of Asia from Western powers.

During the 1945 battle, during which one quarter of the civilian population was killed, the Japanese Army showed indifference to Okinawa’s defense and safety. Japanese soldiers used civilians as shields against the Americans, and persuaded locals that victorious American soldiers would go on a rampage of killing and raping. With the impending victory of American troops, civilians committed mass suicide, urged on by fanatical Japanese soldiers.

“There were some people who were forced to commit suicide by the Japanese Army,” one old textbook explained. But in the revision ordered by the ministry, it now reads, “There were some people who were driven to mass suicide.”

Other changes are similar — the change to a passive verb, the disappearance of a subject — and combine to erase the responsibility of the Japanese military. In explaining its policy change, the ministry said that it “is not clear that the Japanese Army coerced or ordered the mass suicides.”

As with Mr. Abe’s denial regarding sexual slavery, the ministry’s new position appeared to discount overwhelming evidence of coercion, particularly the testimony of victims and survivors themselves.

“There are many Okinawans who have testified that the Japanese Army directed them to commit suicide,” Ryukyu Shimpo, one of the two major Okinawan newspapers, said in an angry editorial. “There are also people who have testified that they were handed grenades by Japanese soldiers” to blow themselves up.

The editorial described the change as a politically influenced decision that “went along with the government view.”

Mr. Abe, after helping to found the Group of Young Parliamentarians Concerned About Japan’s Future and History Education in 1997, long led a campaign to reject what nationalists call a masochistic view of history that has robbed postwar Japanese of their pride.

Yasuhiro Nakasone, a former prime minister who is a staunch ally of Mr. Abe, recently denied what he wrote in 1978. In a memoir about his Imperial Navy experiences in Indonesia, titled “Commander of 3,000 Men at Age 23,” he wrote that some of his men “started attacking local women or became addicted to gambling.

“For them, I went to great pains, and had a comfort station built,” Mr. Nakasone wrote, using the euphemism for a military brothel.

But in a meeting with foreign journalists a week ago, Mr. Nakasone, now 88, issued a flat denial. He said he had actually set up a “recreation center,” where his men played Japanese board games like go and shogi.

In a meeting on Saturday with Foreign Minister Taro Aso of Japan, South Korea’s foreign minister, Song Min-soon, criticized Mr. Abe’s recent comments on sexual slaves.

“The problems over perceptions of history are making it difficult to move South Korean-Japanese relations forward,” Mr. Song said.

Mr. Aso said Japan stuck by a 1993 statement acknowledging responsibility for past sexual slavery, but said nothing about Mr. Abe’s denial that the military had coerced women, many of them Korean, into sexual slavery.

ENDS

日本語教科書「みんなの日本語」出版社への抗議文(アップデート:回答文いただき)

mytest

ブロクのみんなさま、以降は株式会社 スリーエーネットァークという出版社への抗議文です。NPO 多民族共生人権教育センターからの依頼で、手紙の下で当グループからいただいた文書と関連記事をご参考まで。宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人

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

2007年3月29日
〒101−0064東京都千代田区猿楽町2−6−3松栄ビル
株式会社 スリーエーネットァーク
社長 高井 道博 様

北海道情報大学 助教授
有道 出人

教科書「みんなの日本語」改善要請

冠省 私は日本の国際化を研修している北海道情報大学助教授有道 出人(あるどう でびと)と申します。帰化した日本人として、単行本「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽温泉入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店07年改訂)の著者です。詳しくはwww.debito.orgをどうぞご覧下さい。

さて、御社が出版している教科書「みんなの日本語」の件ですが、191ページにある会話のなか、図書館へ行く外国人は道の案内の途中、「外国人登録証を持って来て下さい」というセリフが載っています。

既に様々な改善要請が御社に届いたと思いますが、ご存知の通り、図書館のスタッフは要求する立場にはありません。法律上(外国人登録法 第十三条 第二項)では「入国審査官、入国警備官、警察官、海上保安官その他法務省令で定める国又は地方公共団体の職員」に限り、要求することができます。図書館員は該当者になりません。

それに、私は付近の図書館に確認してみたが、「外国人登録証は不必要」と認めました。その他の身分証明証も結構なので、御社はその事実を外国人学生に伝える義務があります。正しい記述を載せるのが『教科書』の役目です。

直ちに当会話を「外国人登録証」よりも、「身分証明証」にして下さい。日本語を勉強する人にとって、この言葉も生活上で必要不可欠であります。

宜しくご検討の程お願い申し上げます。

〒… 北海道情報大学
有道 出人
草々
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参考資料:
(クリックすると拡大されます)

「みんなの日本語」より
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NPO 多民族共生人権教育センターより昨年の抗議文:
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株式会社 スリーエーネットァークの社長 高井 道博氏からの返答(2006年5月26日付):
「私どもが『外国人登録証』という単語を選んだことの意味とは全く噛み合ないものと受け止めています。」
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毎日新聞2006年5月22日(朝)より
「日本語教材に不適切表現」
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UPDATE APRIL 17, 2007
出版社からの返事が届きました:
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クイックコメント:
上記の毎日新聞の記事によると「返答を検討する」と言ったものの、1年間が経ってから当社一切譲りませんね。回答書で挨拶なく、「宜しくお願い致します」などさえない言い方などで、多少疑問が残ります。この出版社は外国人のニーズについて充分な認識がありますかね。有道 出人

BBC: Japan set for divorce rate boom

mytest

Hi Blog. I’ve written a few essays on the problems with divorce in Japan in the past. (see artery site at http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#divorce

Well, the BBC is projecting the same thing as I have: that yesterday’s pension reforms are going to bring about a few changes in the artificially low divorce rates in Japan. Wait and see. The most recent issue of Terrie’s Take also offers some forecasts afterwards. Debito

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Japan set for divorce rate boom
By Chris Hogg BBC News, Tokyo
Published: 2007/04/01 05:44:14 GMT

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/6515193.stm

New pension laws coming into effect in Japan could lead to an explosion in divorces, some experts are warning.

The rules will make it easier for wives to claim up to half their husband’s pension once the marriage is over.

The number of divorces in Japan has been rising for several decades, but the trend reversed four years ago when the new laws were first discussed.

Many believe that wives in unhappy marriages have been waiting for the new laws to come into effect on Sunday.

Japan’s divorce rate is still quite low – around two divorces for every 1,000 marriages.

Shame is one reason. A failed marriage is frowned upon here, particularly among the older generation.

But money is another important factor. Wives often have real concerns that they will not be able to support themselves if they leave the marital home.

Retirement looms

The change in the law will help. It will make it easier for women to force their husbands to share their pensions.

One survey suggested that in as many as 42,000 couples, wives have been waiting for the rules to change.

Last autumn, the social insurance agency began offering a confidential service which helped couples calculate how much of the husband’s pension should be given to the wife.

Some 90% of the applications have been from women.

And there is another factor at work. Japan’s baby boom generation is starting to retire this year.

That adds up to around five million mostly male workers, who have spent their lives working long hours, and often drinking long after work, several nights a week.

These absentee spouses will now have much more time to spend at home – all day, every day – perhaps for the first time in the couple’s married life.

Many here believe that will prove too much for their wives to cope with.
ENDS

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AND AS A RESULT–WHAT HAPPENS TO THE RETIREES WHO COME HOME TO WIVES THEY DON’T KNOW? TERRIE’S TAKE SPECULATES (EXCERPT):

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The wave of retirements will definitely bring about some interesting socio-economic changes. Not having a “family” of like-minded salarymen to report to every morning will be a big shock for most male baby boomers — who have been described as the “generation waiting for instructions”. They will be forced to make lifestyle changes and as a result, many will become angry, upset, and confused. We expect the suicide and divorce rate to soar as a result.

The problem, of course, is that many of these men have followed a rigid routine for the last 40 years and find it very difficult to make friends outside their work — particularly with their alienated wives. As a result, they are likely to become part of the statistics contributing to the pending divorce surge we wrote about several weeks ago.

After the divorce, the future is unremittingly bleak for many of these male retirees. A recent OECD survey found that Japanese men are amongst the loneliest in the world, with 16.7% of males rarely or never having contact with friends or colleagues outside work. However, with Need being the Mother of Invention (and life changes), we imagine that a growing number of retirees will realize that to save their marriages, they have to start a new life and get to know their partner again.
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GOOD LUCK. ANYWAY, THIS IS GETTING BEYOND THE PURVIEW OF THIS BLOG, BUT THE MOST RECENT ISSUE OF TERRIE’S TAKE (FROM WHICH I HAVE EXCERPTED ABOVE) HAS SOME INTERESTING PROGNOSTICATION ABOUT JAPAN AFTER THE BABY BOOMERS RETIRE (PROBABLY ASSUMING RAPID MIGRATION INTO JAPAN DOES NOT HAPPEN). FOR THOSE INTERESTED, SEE IT AT http://www.japaninc.com/terries_take (ISSUE 415) DEBITO
ENDS